Fandom: Harry Potter
Character: Cho Chang
Rating & Warnings: Teen (for strong language & violence)
Prompt #153: Of things I'd rather keep in silence, I must sing. -- Beatritz or Beatriz de Dia (born circa 1140 - flourished circa 1175), trobairitz (female troubadour), probably from a town in what is now southeastern France. Her song, A chantar m'er de so qu'ieu non volria, which is the source of this quotation, is the only song by a trobairitz which has come down to us with both lyrics and music.
Summary: (Set between Half-Blood Prince & Deathly Hallows) Before returning to help her former schoolmates in the Battle of Hogwarts, Cho Chang fought against Voldemort & his follows in a more covert manner.
Author's Notes: Special thanks to vikingprincess for the beta as well as zoe_chan, lady_sarai & Rae for listening to me whine when I had had to ditch 2 previous ideas.
Gingerly, Cho set her camera on the table. It was a Muggle model, small and fragile compared to the bulkier wizard ones. Her table in this café now contained a bottle of wine, a platter of cheeses and baked figs and a shiny new copy of "The Tales of Beedle the Bard." The last was positioned farthest from her, upside-down with the bottom of the book sticking off the table's edge. She sipped her wine-- they didn't water a thing here in France!-- with a mouthful of cured ham, trying to look inconspicuous. Half a dozen American Muggles chattered in passable French across the street. Their cameras were even smaller than hers.
Beyond the gaggle of tourists, she spotted her contact. Viktor Krum was impressive with his triple-caped greatcoat, red leather boots and a wide-brimmed hat that Cho had seen before in pictures of American Muggles. She looked away immediately after noticing him, pretending great interest in the menu chalked up inside the café.
Two minutes later, Krum passed by her table, walking so close he knocked her copy of "Beedle the Bard" off. "Sorry, miss. Hunger has made me clumsy," he said in perfect French, handing the book over.
Cho accepted and replied in the same language. "Well, it's lunch now. There's enough here for two."
Krum bowed and took the seat across from her. He took wine and some bites off the platter as they waited for the tourists to walk away. As the last one disappeared around a turn, he continued, "I thought you older."
"I feel old."
He nodded. "I hear there are… three lions of England on the run."
"And you thought I was one of those lions?" asked Cho. "The lioness perhaps?"
A blush made a liar of his dour expression. "She knows I would help her."
"So did I and the others I work for. And you can get around a lot more with less hassle."
"I know this, too." He fiddled with the stem of his wine glass. "It is bad everywhere. Not all countries have a great wizard protector. We fight in small groups, many small groups, for many years since the time of Grindlewald. We make progress but your Tom Riddle permeates every--"
"Not ours," said Cho sharply.
Krum shook his head. "Yes. As you say. But he comes from Hogwarts--"
"Grindelwald's teachings are still in Durmstrang," she shot back.
He shook his head again. "As you say. I apologize. It just that despite how Britain sees us, we have worked very hard to remove dark magic from society. It could be worse; it was worse. Now with Riddle gaining power, those we had driven away have renewed courage. My people are tired, Cho. Fifty years is a long time to be fighting."
"I know. And I am sorry, but we need to stop Riddle at all costs. If we don't, you'll be fighting forever. Worse, you'll lose."
"We will all lose." Krum downed his wine, poured out more and offered the bottle to her. Cho accepted with a nod. He filled her glass. "What is it you want me to transport this time?"
"You're travelling to Spain and Russia with your team. Deliver these to the following addresses." She gave him two small boxes, each tied to an envelope.
He opened the first one. "This place in Spain is far from the Quidditch pitch."
"I couldn't get the contact to agree on coming any closer. They're afraid to be seen in the more public areas."
"Understandable. I have something for you as well." He stuck his arm elbow-deep into his coat pocket then drew out a rolled tapestry, a nearly a foot wide and half an inch in diameter. "It is from your contact in Turkey."
Cho accepted, puzzled. "I didn't ask for this."
"It has no curses. I checked."
He stood, fixing his hat more firmly on his head. Tentatively, he said in English, "She is hiding, yes?"
"Yes," Cho replied in the same language.
"The two boys. They protect her."
"From what I can tell, it's more the other way around," she said, unable to stop herself from grinning.
Krum's expression lightened. "Dobre. Good luck, Chang. Be safe."
"You too, Krum. You're the most visible of us all."
Alicia Spinnet had recruited her as soon as she graduated from Hogwarts. Cho hadn't wanted to leave her friends knowing the darkness had overcome the school, yet a part of her was glad --so glad!-- she didn't have to live at You-Know-Who's most targeted location. She wanted to grab her parents and run away to another country. She wanted to fight alongside the rest of Dumbledore's Army. She wanted to rush through some sort of training as a healer or an Aurorso she could help with the war. She wanted to be a child again, thinking evil only lived in Beedle's tales.
Her fellow Ravenclaws' graduation celebration at the Leaky Cauldron died before it even began thanks to a Death Eater raid. Spinnet had grabbed her arm and pushed her down a rain grate to escape. It was a sign of the times that Cho didn't wonder why a professional Quidditch player would be sneaking around the back passages of Diagon Alley
"Got a job for you, Chang," Spinnet said as they ran.
"I don't want to play professionally," she said. "Some healer schools waive a portion of the tuition fee if you show a well-rounded educational experience."
"Helps that most training academies have amateur Quidditch teams."
"I'm not talking about job training, though we could use more healers. Going to St. Mungo's, are you?"
"You don't sound too sure."
"I don't know if St. Mungo's will still be standing!" Cho bit out. "I have an offer in France that... Anyway, I don't fancy practicing my spells and potions on my former classmates as a first year apprenticeship!"
"France is all right this time of the year." Spinnet grinned as maniacally as she did on game days. "How would you like to join the Resistance?"
Cho spread the tapestry out on her bed; her textbooks and tools took up the writing desk and she didn't want to risk the tiny kitchen with its finicky stove that indiscriminately burped flames. Of course, that stove was only seven feet away from the bed, but healer apprentices didn't make as much as healers so she was lucky to have a closet to herself.
Unrolled, the tapestry was three and a half feet long. Geometrical patterns bordered the top and bottom edges. Between them, a woman dressed in rainbow robes loomed over hundreds of embroidered figures as they danced through a village, a waterfall in a forest, and bird-filled clouds. They were Chinese characters, not Persian ones as one would expect from Turkey.
The tapestry told the story of the Ancient Elder, Nuwa, who wanted to make people for the Earth. First, she moulded them with yellow clay, but after creating hundreds of them she grew tired. To speed up the processes, she dipped a rope into the yellow clay and flicked it, like a whip. The blobs of clay also became people but they were Muggles. The moulded batch became wizards and witches. Cho hadn't liked the unfairness and laziness of the story, even as a child. That feeling was even stronger now that she understood what You-Know-Who stood for. In this version of the story, the Muggles and the wizards danced together.
Cho looked for an identifier in case this was a message delivered incorrectly. In the first foot of the tapestry, an orange butterfly flittered around the top border; definitely her call sign. She looked for the sender's identity. There, darting in amongst the rainbow-coloured birds, was a tiny Ukrainian Ironbelly. Charlie Weasley. These were news of reinforcements, thank Merlin's saggy right bollock.
She cast a Muffliato charm on the room then layered it with a noise charm to mimic every day sounds such as opening cupboards and walking. She folded the tapestry so the top border touched the bottom one. The embroidered figures shook their fists as they tumbled about. The embroidered Nuwa winked at her as she was covered up. Tapping her wand every few inches, Cho cast Adhero charms to keep the folds in place. Then she turned the tapestry clockwise so it floated longways-up.
Cho traced the character for "words" in the air, taking care to create the strokes in just the right order with exact angles. The character shimmered in the air, barely visible. With a whispered "Bàolù," her breath blew the character into the tapestry. The borders shivered then reassembled themselves into a short message in Mandarin.
"No allies available in Czech R, Slovakia, Serbia, etc. Try further east. Safe house acquired but usual route through Romania compromised and shut down. Tracing possible. "
The safe house's location, Cho knew, was encoded in the tapestry's tale. She reversed the Adhero charm. The cloth fluttered open and the little embroidered wizards, witches and Muggles tumbled downward as Nuwa smiled behind her rainbow sleeves. She wrote the character for "music" in the air then whispered the "Bàolù" charm again. Nuwa spread her sleeves and sang a song about a jasmine flower. It was an old folk song, so old perhaps even Chinese Muggles had a version.
Cho wrote the character for "listen" and before it could shimmer away, she caught it up with her left hand and pressed it against her ear. With her hearing spelled, the song revealed its message.
"That's the fourth Skrewt-blasted code those hag-fucking Death Eaters have broken, pardon my French." Alicia pulled at her braids. "It's just that I feel like we're leading our people right to them. At this rate, the best safe house for all the part-bloods would be their own damn home. Can you do anything to fix them up?"
"Let me see them." Cho held her hand out. Alicia gave her four pieces of parchment, some singed badly. "Who made these?"
"I dunno. Aurors, I guess."
"And they didn't bother deviating from Indo-European incantations? The triple-Loki shift combined with a bedazzling charm works well enough--"
"The ink was mixed with confusion potion," Alicia added.
"-- but a paste of flitterby dust and salamander tears would negate the ink. After that, you'd only need a day of hard attacking to break the pattern." She flipped to the next one. "And this one's even worse! Only a single shift?"
"That was an earlier attempt."
"And it's very clever but..." Cho bit her lip. "I could make some recommendations to the Aurors."
"There's no time," said Alicia. "We received word that You-Know-Who's made four more gangs of Snatchers. That makes twenty Snatcher gangs roaming all of Britain."
And soon there would be no place to hide.
Cho touched her bandaged arm. A Snatcher attack from her last transport had raised burning blisters where it touched bare skin and they'd barely reached the time-triggered Portkey to Egypt. In fact, two of the Snatchers had travelled with them. Other members of the Resistance had subdued them but the incident was enough to scare the Egyptian Magical Parliament into closing off all Portkeys to and from Britain. They would still offer sanctuary, but only through indirect means.
"What do you need me to do?" asked Cho.
"We need an unbreakable code," said Alicia.
"Then one that's damn near to it. We need to get all Deatheater targets out of the country, those that'll come. Some of us, of course, are too stupid to leave." She patted her DA coin, strung on a chain around her neck. Cho had Epoximised hers to her wand. She returned Alicia's smile.
"Well, the first thing you have to do is stop using European magic. Also, can you sing?"
Cho apparated behind the cheese section of Harrods. She immediately felt the buzz of a disillusionment charm. When she turned, Justin Finch-Fletchley was there, wand at the ready and very well turned out, all things considered. His parents stood behind him, rigid with tension or good breeding.
"Where are we going now?" Justin asked. He rubbed his reddened eyes.
"Out of Britain," said Cho. "Welcome to the Lightning Railroad."
"Thank God!" muttered Mr. Finch-Fletchley.
"This is the Portkey." She gave Justin a plain Muggle photograph of a pink and black purse. "Have you seen that around here?"
Justin shook his head but his mother peered over his shoulder and said, "Of course, we have. I sent that exact tote to the Bakshi's lovely little girl for her birthday."
"Can you take us to it, ma'am? It has to look exactly like the photograph," said Cho.
"Certainly. Harrods only displays one sample per item in stock," said Mrs. Finch-Fletchley. "Come on, then, before they toss us out for breaking the dress code."
"Dress code?" Cho mouthed. Justin could only smile tightly.
This Harrods was certain large and empty, Cho observed. People didn't rush through but, instead, ambled, looked, and ambled some more. Was this only a showcase for items then? There were some very lovely gowns--
"Guard," Justin muttered. He yanked Cho's sleeve. Mrs. Finch-Fletchley notched her chin a bit higher, walking with determination. Mr Finch-Fletchley dipped his chin as he rounded the back of their small group, protecting Justin and Cho from view with the sheer force of his haughtiness. Gowns gave way to underthings, then shoes, before the handbag section finally lay before them.
"I know it's here," said Mrs. Finch-Fletchley. "The Bakshi girl's party was only last week."
Cho took the farthest wall with Mr. Finch-Fletchley while Justin and his mother perused the table displays. From the corner of her eye, she saw a man with an emerald and gold coat making his way to them. Justin's ears reddened and he searched more frantically. Was this a Muggle Auror then? She stepped back to scan the wall display.
"There!" The pink and black bag slouched in the bottom-most shelf in a far corner. Cho checked her watch. "We've still got five minutes before it activates."
"What'll we do while--" Justin cut the sentence short. The guard had reached them.
"Good afternoon," said the man.
The four of them nodded.
"We're closing in a few minutes."
Mrs. Finch-Fletchley arched a brow. "Really? How tiresome. We were just showing our lovely exchange student around. Doesn't speak a word of English but has an eye for fashion, eh, Mai?"
Cho did her best to look confused.
"Issat right?" The guard smiled. "I lived in Hong Kong a while back. Picked up a bit o' Cantonese. Ni hao ma. Ngoh gui Ewan."
Merlin's beard! Cho stretched her mouth out to a smile. "Ni hao, Ewan. Hen gaoxing renshi ni."
"Oh, she's from the mainland," said Ewan the guard. "Well, you got me there. Never did take to Mandarin even though they're pretty similar."
They all smiled. Three more minutes.
Ewan the guard nodded his head. "Have a good afternoon then, ma'am, sir. Mind the time."
"We will," said Mrs. Finch-Fletchley.
"This is the longest two minutes of my life," Justin moaned, "including that time when I had to take Cousin Aubrey shopping."
"We couldn't very well let just anyone who touched the bag Portkey away," said Cho. "Merlin only knows who'd be at the other end."
"I thought we had new codes in."
"We do. But there's still a lot of them around, or people who're afraid of them. It's time." She waved everyone over. "Everyone touch the bag and don't let go, no matter how sick you feel."
"Sick?" Mr. Finch-Fletchley repeated. The navel-ratcheting feeling of a Portkey ended further protestations.
Alicia Spinnet and Marcus Belby stared at Cho, jaws somewhere in the vicinity of their collarbones. "Are you barking?" Marcus managed to sputter.
"It can't be easy," said Cho.
"It's bloody well impossible," said Alicia.
"It's not impossible. At least a billion people in the world speak Mandarin. You all only have to learn a few words and characters."
"And if we get a tone or stress or stroke wrong, the code is charmed to give us Ever-itching Pustules," said Marcus.
"Ever-itching Pustules are only if you get the strokes wrong. Incorrect tones give you jelly bones."
"Well, then, I feel loads better. Nothing like jelly bones when I'm dodging Unforgivables."
"Cho, I'm not a Ravenclaw," said Alicia. "I barely made it through my one N.E.W.T! You want me to learn a whole new type of magic with a whole new language in a week. And then you want me to teach it to a group of people who have to teach it to more people so somehow we can save the world?"
"You're the one who recruited me."
Marcus threw Alicia a dirty look.
"Think of it as a song," said Cho. "A scrap of a song and a scrap of a dance. The fabric will do the rest. The Death Eaters, as far as we know, are so obsessed with the purity of European wizarding stock that they don't bother with Sinitic or American magic, which is why we can get away with having a handful of key phrases. The translation spell only works on the person who casts it; you said yourself that it would take a while to learn, so in that time, the message will fade."
"If the Death Eaters don't know Sinitic magic or Mandarin," said Alicia.
"They've already broken the last four codes. What've we got to lose?"
"Melinda Bobbin," Marcus said. "You wouldn't remember her. She was three years below me I think, so four years for you two, and part of the Slug Club. She was my second transport."
Cho's stomach pulled at the use of the word "was." She reached out to hold his hand and Marcus, for all the roundness in his cheeks and dimples in his fingers, squeezed the blood out of her hands.
"They were waiting for us at the safe house. I helped them with their luggage, stashed it all in the pantry, helped them stoke the fire. It gets bloody cold in Morocco, y'know. All those mountains. I tucked them away and as soon as I stepped out of the circle, the Death Eaters blew the house away."
He squeezed harder. Alicia stared at her knees, blinking rapidly.
"It wasn't... it wasn't that the house burned. I mean, it burned, all right, but just the walls. Melinda and her family-- she had three brothers and sisters-- were still in the middle. Their robes were on f-fire and Mr. Bobbin had cast some water to put out the worst of the fires on their robes. The Death Eaters went for the youngest first. He c-couldn't've been more than six. He screamed--" His breath caught. "I can still hear him screaming sometimes."
"I dream in green," Alicia blurted out. "And I can't stand to fly my broom that fast anymore because the rushing of the wind sounds like the Killing Curse. My fourth transport. The Death Eaters on that watch weren't as creative as Marcus'. They just killed. I was still jerking from a Cruciatus when I apparated away."
"That's what we have to lose, Chang. Lives and sanity. I will learn Mandarin and Sinitic magic even if I have to suffer through curses along the way. But you have to promise me that the code will work. You have to promise that when we use it for the Lightning Railroad, no one else will die. Can you do that?"
Cho clenched her jaw so hard her head ached.
A flying pedicab, another Portkey and an enchanted manhole cover later, Cho and the Finch-Fletchleys rolled up into a fishing shack off the coast of Madagascar, just as planned. Only one more travel point to go and a good thing, too. Mr. Finch-Fletchley had a distinctly chartreuse cast to his face. The likeliest culprits were the Portkeys or the contents of the manhole. Cho wiped the sweat beading on her upper lip. Maintaining constant shielding and hiding spells was tiring even with Justin's help. She was parched.
"Let's take a breath," she said.
Justin collapsed against the nearest wall, as did his father. His mother sat a little more daintily. Cho pulled a flask of pumpkin juice, a bag of oranges and a pot of shaomai from a pocket with an extension charm. "These are like pasties only with rice buns instead of British pastry," she said, familiar with having to explain Chinese dishes to her classmates.
"Oh, we have dim sum all the time," said Justin.
"Sure. I like pork wontons the best. Can't do chicken feet, though."
"Me neither." She passed the pumpkin juice and the oranges as well, warning Mr. Finch-Fletchley, "Don't eat too much. We have one more transport before--"
The door to the fishing shack creaked open. Justin and Cho immediately stood before Mr. and Mrs Finch-Fletchley, wands out.
A deep voice said, "Hǎo yī duǒ měi lì di mò li huā."
Cho relaxed her shoulders. "Yòu xiāng yòu bái rén rén kuā."
Krum peeked around the edge of the door. His right arm hung limp, the fingers bright with blood. Cho rushed to his side as he closed the door with the weight of his body.
"What happened? The code--"
"The code is safe," said Krum. "This vas my mistake. I thought they vould not dare hurt me in public."
"Did they follow you?" she asked, cataloguing the injury at the same time.
"No. I apparate six times all over. They cannot follow." He dipped his chin at the Finch-Fletchleys. "I am sorry to do this but ve must move now. Move the cabinet as vell. Do not bother vith arm. Is a Reductor Curse deflected off many things before me."
"But you're Krum!" Justin exclaimed. "I mean... "
Krum frowned. "Not fast enough this time."
"I'm sorry, I just--"
He sliced the air to cut the apology short. "Is no matter. You stop the bleeding, ve go to the cabinet then ve fix the arm."
"We fix the arm now or you won't have one at all," said Cho. "Are you sure it was a Reductor?"
"Mostly sure." He winced. "Feels like my arm is in many, many pieces."
Cho peeled the robe off Krum's injured side. "Justin, give us some light."
Justin chanted, "Lumos," and the pale blue-white light filled the shack. It made Krum's face look even gaunter. The blood in his hand darkened to purple.
"Sorry," Cho said. "I can't quite see--"
"Nimue's nips!" Justin breathed.
Krum's upper arm looked like someone used a dull paring knife to peel away layers of skin and muscle. Strips of it hung from his shoulder and elbow. Upon closer observation, flecks of pink embedded in some of the muscle strips were actually bone.
"How... is your arm still attached?" asked Cho.
"How are you still conscious?" was Justin's question.
"Sticking charm. Turkish coffee," said Krum.
Cho dug back into her pocket and pulled out three half-full vials and two hinged boxes. "Drink this then this. The first will replenish your blood supply. The second will numb you up a bit."
"I need to be alert."
"You need to be not screaming when I mix Skele-Gro with stargrass salve and my very first attempt at a Vulnera."
Krum took both potions. He also downed the Skele-Gro with only the slightest of noises.
"I'd give my broom for a drop of dittany right now." Cho closed her eyes to centre herself. The Vulnera spell required the full focus and strength from the caster. She had to draw bits of energy from every living thing around her, minute enough to be harmless to each individual but altogether strong enough to cause regeneration from dead or dying body parts. At least, that was what her textbook said. Healer apprentices didn't usually try the spell until their second year of study and then, only on small creatures.
"Please tell me you've saved enough Galleons to live a comfortable life should your Quidditch career come to a stop," she said.
"Lester Tootoosis, seeker for Moose Jaw Meteorites, 1963 to 1977. Lost his arm to foul sixty-five minutes into American Cup. Caught snitch in minute seventy-three." Krum threw back the rest of the blood replenishing potion. "Do it."
Cho waved her wand three times counter-clockwise over his arm to activate the spell. "Vulnera Sanetur." Pale yellow and pink sparks buzzed at the tip of her wand. She made stitching motions with an upward flick. The sparks followed, their tails popping as they trailed onto Viktor's injury. "Vulnera Sanetur." Then three clockwise, concentric circles to tighten the spell. "Vulnera Sanetur."
Justin closed his eyes. "Tell me when it's over."
A band tightened around Cho's chest, making her light-headed. Her wand tugged tingles from her arm but she refused to release it. The healing sparks popped louder. Krum grunted.
"Enoff. You take too much from yourself."
Cho fell forward as she released the spell, barely keeping herself from kissing the floor. Sweat drenched her entire body. "Are you fixed?"
"Fixed enoff," said Krum. He scooped a dollop of stargrass salve and spread it on the rawest parts of his mostly-healed arm. "Quick, our next contact is vaiting and vorried."
"Wait a tic." Still hunched over, Cho took a deep, steadying breath and threw up.
Pale blue, green and yellow silk draped over Cho's arms. "The tapestries are second-hand but it's the fabric that matters. Silk holds Sinitic spells best. We can erase the original charms off and replace them with our own. We'll have to do the borders ourselves but as long as we follow the pattern I made, it should be all right. Three feet should be enough; that'll give us at least one piece for every conductor in the Railroad."
"I can't believe Marcus can sew better than me," said Alicia. She took the yellow silk and a spool of red thread but Cho plucked the thread away.
"Too obviously Gryffindor. Use blue. Don't worry if the filled in bits are crooked. It's the angles on the outline that matter. They're arthimantically aligned to the encryption spell. Have you been practicing?"
Alicia and Marcus both nodded. "Shanxie. Bàolù," said Marcus.
Cho held his chin up. "Xii-euh. Half a note higher in the end, like you're teasing someone. And keep your jaw stiff."
"I'm rather liking the characters," said Alicia. "It's like drawing. As long as I can remember those pictures you gave me, I can remember when to hold my wand up right for the broad strokes and when to let it go flat for the thinner ones. It's the order of the strokes that're fouling me up."
"We have--" Cho checked the wall clock-- "forty-eight hours to perfect our pronunciations, sew the borders, re-charm the tapestries and cast duplication spells for everyone in the Resistance."
"Have you narrowed down the songs, at least?"
Cho nodded. "There are a dozen songs about jasmines. That's more than enough to create a variety for the encryptions and still have a theme to base the code on." She hoped. Harry and the others were risking their lives fighting You-Know-Who directly. She wanted to make sure there were people left to fight for.
Viktor offered to enter the vanishing cabinet first. "If you see blood, do not follow."
"You have a very dark sense of humour," said Cho.
"I am not joking."
He squeezed into the armoire. Cho closed the door and counted to three. When she opened it, it was empty. "You first, Mrs. Finch-Fletchley. Then Justin for back-up, then Mr. Finch-Fletchley then me."
Mrs. Finch-Fletchley nodded, her hands trembling despite their tight hold on her bag. She stepped up into the armoire then, almost as an afterthought, she grabbed Justin into an embrace. He buried his face in her hair, arms wrapped double around her shoulders. "I love you, darling."
"I love you, too, Mum." He yanked his dad to join the hug.
Cho's breathing faltered again. Her parents and brother were in Shanghai with relatives, far from the war. They didn't know she had joined the Resistance; they would have forbidden it had they known. She should Floo them again soon but the pretence at happiness was getting more difficult as she spent more and more time in the Resistance. The memory of Krum's fresh injury flashed in her mind.
The closet door opened, empty, bloodless. Justin went through with little trouble. Three seconds later, Mr. Finch-Fletchley stepped in. "My father and aunt were evacuated to Canada during World War II but their parents stayed in London. They said they couldn't sleep a wink for over a month, worrying about Germany blitzing their home. I suppose it's better this way, having three of us together."
"Yessir," Cho said. She didn't know what World War II meant. By his tone, it was the Muggle equivalent of this Dark War. "The trip might make you might sick again."
"I've gotten rather used to it."
Cho closed the door. She counted to three, listened for a hiss and then it was her turn. Faint vibrations raised the hair on her arms and nape.cabinet. Her wand out and ready, she opened the other door. A frigid wind blasted her face. A moment later, someone threw a heavy woollen cape over her head. Cho fought to see-- there was Mr. Finch-Fletchley, enveloped once again in the arms of his family. They were in a bustling campground, robes and pointed hats mingling with jeans and duck-billed caps. The Finch-Fletchleys' appearance garnered some light applause.
Turning her head, she caught the eye of her contact.
"Welcome to Australia," said Charlie Weasley. "Last stop on this trip down the Lightning Railroad. Fancy some tea and nibbles before you hurl yourself back to certain harm?"
"Tea definitely. Nibbles after we see to Krum."
"Don't worry about him; he's had the healers fawning over him since he arrived."
It all felt slightly anti-climactic but Cho wasn't about to complain. "Tea, restock my pockets, then certain harm. Those nibbles wouldn't include a nice curry, would they?"
"For you, anything. Half these people wouldn't be here if your tapestries hadn't worked."
Cho blushed. "You all picked it up well. Give yourself a bowl of curry as well."
"Already done. I mean it though; take a load off. I'm rested up for the next mission. You, on the other hand, look like a whipped puffskein." He led her towards the largest tent in the middle of the field, presumably the mess tent. Justin broke away from his family to walk with them.
"I think my parents are so relieved to be away that they don't care that we have to Obliviate them when this is all over. Although Dad's pleased as can be that the wizarding version of Beckham saved him from the Nazis."
Cho gathered this was a good thing. Charlie Weasley looked just as blank.
"Listen, I know you went through all the trouble of getting me here safe," Justin continued, "but I was wondering, d'you need more people out there? Fighting the Death Eaters, I mean, or conducting the Lightning Railroad."
Cho and Charlie exchanged a glance. "It'll be ugly," said Charlie.
"You might get as badly hurt as Krum," Cho added.
"It'll be worth it." Justin drew himself upright. "I can't just sit here, knowing Hogwarts is under siege, and not doing anything about it. I mean, I was a member of DA. Still am, in my head, and to the pit with what Umbridge or Snape say. Britain's my home, my country, and those Gorgon-arsed racist scumbags have no right to chase me out forever. "
Charlie grinned. "I'm convinced. Chang?"
Cho held her hand out. "Welcome to the Resistance."