At the end of an hour, Harry called a halt.

“You’re getting really good,” he said, beaming around at them. “When we get back from the holidays we can start doing some of the big stuff—maybe even Patronuses.”

There was a murmur of excitement. The room began to clear in the usual twos and threes; most people wished Harry a “Happy Christmas” as they went. Feeling cheerful, he collected up the cushions with Ron and Hermione and stacked them neatly away. Ron and Hermione left before he did; he hung back a little, because Cho was still there and he was hoping to receive a “Merry Christmas” from her.

“No, you go on,” he heard her say to her friend Marietta and his heart gave a jolt that seemed to take it into the region of his Adam’s apple.

He pretended to be straightening the cushion pile. He was quite sure they were alone now and waited tor her to speak. Instead, he heard a hearty sniff.

He turned and saw Cho standing in the middle of the room, tears pouring down her face.


He didn’t know what to do. She was simply standing there, crying silently.

“What’s up?” he said, feebly.

She shook her head and wiped her eyes on her sleeve.

“I’m—sorry,” she said thickly. “I suppose… it’s just… learning all this stuff… it just makes me… wonder whether… if he’d known it all… he’d still be alive.”

Harry’s heart sank right back past its usual spot and settled somewhere around his navel. He ought to have known. She wanted to talk about Cedric.

“He did know this stuff,” Harry said heavily. “He was really good at it, or he could never have got to the middle of that maze. But if Voldemort really wants to kill you, you don’t stand a chance.”

She hiccoughed at the sound of Voldemort’s name, but stared at Harry without flinching.

“You survived when you were just a baby,” she said quietly.

“Yeah, well,” said Harry wearily, moving towards the door, “I dunno why nor does anyone else, so it’s nothing to be proud of.”

“Oh, don’t go!” said Cho, sounding tearful again. “I’m really sorry to get all upset like this… I didn’t mean to…”

She hiccoughed again. She was very pretty even when her eyes were red and puffy. Harry felt thoroughly miserable. He’d have been so pleased with just a “Merry Christmas.”

“I know it must be horrible for you,” she said, mopping her eyes on her sleeve again. “Me mentioning Cedric, when you saw him die… I suppose you just want to forget about it?”

Harry did not say anything to this; it was quite true, but he felt heartless saying it.

“You’re a r-really good teacher, you know,” said Cho, with a watery smile. “I’ve never been able to Stun anything before.”

“Thanks,” said Harry awkwardly.