Harry & Cho
Chapter Fifty-Nine: Look after You
Anxious and pre-occupied Hogwarts students became commonplace in the school by the time mid-April rolled around. The seventh years seemed to be taking the brunt of the pressure though. The N.E.W.T.S. were scheduled for May, thus beginning a whirlwind of panic to make its way through the upper level student body.
Lily developed a one-track mind, cursing herself for letting so much time pass by. The positive spin on the whole situation was Robert had developed the same tendencies. Well, that and word had gotten out about them becoming a couple. And, the whole student body thought it was the cutest thing the Hogwarts Wizarding population had seen in a long time.
‘It’s no surprise’, ‘It was bound to happen,’ ‘It’s almost an unspoken Hogwarts tradition that the Head Girl and Head Boy date.’ Those statements followed Robert and Lily wherever they went. He was pretty good natured about the whole thing; Lily seemed chagrined.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it,” she remarked one day when they entered the Great Hall, with their fingers intertwined, and found all pairs of eyes turned towards them.
“Get used to what?”
“The stares, and sneaked comments whispered behind hands,” she said, giving him an exasperated look.
Robert chuckled, draped an arm around her shoulder and kissed her lightly on the cheek. “Let them stare,” he began, “they are only staring because you are by far one of the prettiest girls, and they’re jealous.”
As she sat in their shared common room, a small smile crept onto her face at the memory.
“What are you smiling about?” Robert asked, peering at her over the cover of his textbook.
“Oh, nothing really. Just the comment you made about me being pretty that day.”
He smiled. “I meant it, you know.”
She did not have an answer to that, so she went back to her textbook reading and note-taking. Lily had every essay, test and notes taken since first year piled on her table. She even went so far as to owl her parents for their old notes and essays!
Ethan, despite being preoccupied with avoiding Rebecca Philips, offered Lily his brand of friendly advice: “You’ll be fine, Lil. You were made Head Girl for a reason.”
Rebecca Philips, in between studying, was trying to figure out what exactly to do with Ethan. She was well aware of the fact that they kissed, but more than that, she was angry at him for assuming he knew what her answer would be. Honestly, she barely knew him! Why in Merlin’s name would she ever consent to dating him right away? For all she knew, he was still hung up on Lily, and Rebecca had no desire to be the rebound girl.
Besides all this angst, the one niggling thought was despite knowing everything she already did about Ethan, she was hopelessly, and slowly growing very attracted to him.
“Not a good time to worry about that,” she muttered, dipping her quill into her ink well and busily began scratching the nib across her parchment.
Brian’s absence when he was recovering put him back in his studying, so he shunned all forms of civilization to study and catch up. The N.E.W.T.S. were crucial to his GPA, as well as his long-term plans after Hogwarts.
“Don’t you think you’re overdoing it?”Andrew asked.
“It’s none of your business,” Brian responded coolly, not looking up from his textbook.
x x x x
After a rather long dinner at the tail end of April, Selina Walsingham stood up. “I have a couple announcements that I wish to announce to the seventh years. All other years may make their ways back to their common rooms.”
A horde of students left, and the seventh years were left. Even if they were somewhat scattered around the four house tables.
“As you are all aware, the N.E.W.T.S. will be held at the end of May, in the Great Hall right after breakfast. The format is exactly the same as the practice ones. The same rules apply, no cheating, or you will be assigned a failing grade. There is a ten minute break in between each test, but you are not allowed to leave the Hall, unless you have permission. If you must leave the Hall, you will be accompanied by a fellow teacher.” She looked around at the seventh years, before she clapped her hands together. “Any questions?”
“Do you know the order in which the tests will be taken?” a Hufflepuff girl asked.
“Electives first, and then the regular class exams,” Headmistress Walsingham replied. “Now, my next order of business is your upcoming graduation. It will be done at the end of June, and all relatives are allowed to attend. Please keep in mind that we need to know the approximate number of who will be attending in order to make a rough seating plan. In addition to that, tradition at Hogwarts is that the seventh years elect a class Historian. The job of the class historian is to summarize your entire schooling career here in the allotted amount of time. All votes must be in before your N.E.W.T.S. are held.” She smiled at the seventh years. “All of you may leave, except for Robert Philips and Lily Potter.”
The other seventh years hurried from the Great Hall to continue on their studying. When the crowd had dissipated, Selina turned to Robert and Lily. “I held you two behind because I have a couple notices that you must look over before graduation. As you will see from the notices, you are each required to make a speech at the end of the year.”
“What does the speech have to be about?” Robert asked as he skimmed through the notices.
“It is your choice … past speeches is in a book in the library. If you ask in the library to look at the book I’m sure you will be allowed to look at them.” Selina brushed off some lint from her robes. “Don’t worry about them now, just concentrate on your studying. Now, hurry off to your common room and I’ll see you both tomorrow.”
Robert and Lily left the common room, side by side. When they were out of earshot, Lily turned to Robert. “Switzerland is still okay with you?”
“Of course. Why?”
“Just curious is all.” Lily brushed a hand across his knuckles. “I care about you, Robert. You know that right?”
Robert’s warm hand closed around hers and he turned to look at her. “Yes, I know.”
She smiled. The same smile that left him speechless, and lit up her green eyes.
He ran a hand along her pale cheek and traced the outline of her lips. “It’s a good thing you care about me, because …”
“Because what?” she blurted out.
He brushed his lips across hers, before he tugged on her hand as they continued towards their dormitory. “Because I’m growing quite fond of you too.”
Lily blushed despite herself, and poked him teasingly in the ribs. “Flatterer.”
Robert just laughed.
x x x x
“What do you think of Lily’s interest in the Philips boy?”
Harry Potter did not so much hear as feel his wife’s question: like a sharp tap between the shoulder blades. He had been struggling with the clasp on his watch and now frozen before the round mirror above their dresser, arms cocked the sides, his reflection stark as an exclamation point in his fitted dress robes.
Letting one end of the watch slip from his fingers, cool as running water, he lowered his arms as slowly and carefully as if he had been a patient at a hospital. He had been looking forward to this evening, to the closing of an overseas transaction … but what he felt now felt was something closer to dread, as if probing fingers had found something that was inoperable.
He turned slowly. His lovely wife, wearing only her slip stood in front of their open closet, rooting for her silver heels. In her bare feet, Ginny was just over five foot five - the dark auburn gold of crackling flames - falling in loose, slippery waves to the small of her back. Her delicate vignette of a face was flushed pink and her eyes sparkled.
Harry remained perfectly still, hardly breathing.
Shaping his mouth into a smile, Harry replied lightly, “Is there something I should know?” He hoped his voice sounded upbeat, for he was feeling anything but upbeat.
Ginny smiled. “Not yet. But Lily did send me an owl a couple weeks ago that said Robert and her were dating.” Her thickly fringed lashes seemed to hold a secret all her own.
“That’s all she said?” Harry asked, raising a quizzical eyebrow.
Ginny shook her head, her hair licking the sides of her face like flames. “Apparently, there is some big news happening with Switzerland, but she wants to tell us at her graduation.”
“You think it has something to do with Robert?”
Ginny’s smile faltered then, but only slightly. “What else could it be, Harry?”
“She could have meant a whole number of things,” Harry pointed out.
She shot him a look, as if she sensed he was not as happy about this as she was. Then she sighed. “You heard her during the summer. Crying her eyes out over that Avery boy, and now she is finally happy, again. Please don’t look so panicked, Harry. She has her whole life ahead of her yet. But if she and Robert Philips are in love …” Her voice trailed.
Harry waited a moment before speaking. “I’m happy for our daughter, don’t get me wrong. I’m just wondering about her.”
Ginny frowned. “Oh, come on, Harry, we can’t shelter her forever. She has to learn for herself, just like we all did.”
Gently, Harry dropped his watch onto the dresser, next to Ginny’s perfume bottle. The watch made a soft, sort of slithery sound against the polished surface. What now? What were the instructions on how to help prevent another damaging blow to your offspring? How had he arrived at this point in his life, with the ground he had always thought of as rock-solid melting under his feet?
He sank down on the bed before gesturing for Ginny to sit beside him. “Oh, Gin. You know that I only want what’s best for Lily,” he said. “Whatever happens.”
Ginny leaned her head against his chest. “I know. I just worry about her sometimes.”
Harry was jolted back to reality with a suddenness that caused him to bite down on the tip of his tongue. He felt a rush of pain and his mouth filled with the taste of blood.
He stared at his wife. In twenty minutes, they were to be dressed and downstairs, ready to leave, but Ginny may have been a million miles away. “God, look at the time. It’s after seven! If we don’t hurry we are going to be late.”
Watching Ginny dash for the bathroom door, Harry smiled. It had been awhile since they had been as close as they were now. He half wished that he did not have to attend this dinner. Well, they could always talk later.
Lately, they had been doing a lot of talking. And, for the first time in a long time, both listened.
He retrieved the watch from the dresser and held his sleeve back while he fastened the clasp.
Twenty minutes later they were out the door and making their way to their designated portkey sport. Until Lily came home for the summer, he must hang on. If he had been able to make it this far in his life, he surely stood a fighting chance of seeing his daughter safely out of the dark.
x x x x
“Robert wants to have Lily Potter over for dinner sometime in the summer, and he can’t wait for us to meet her at graduation,” Cho read from the most recent letter Robert had sent her and David.
David folded the paper neatly along the perforated lines, before looking up at his wife. “Really?”
Cho stuffed the letter back into the envelope. “Yes. He says being with her seems to be making her happier than she has been in a while.”
He rubbed his eyes, and stretched slowly. “Good.”
She lowered her hand to her side theatrically. “Is that all you have to say?”
David shrugged. “What would you like me to say? That I am less than thrilled at the prospect of the Potter girl being with our son?”
She blinked. “So you are fine with all of this?”
“Yes. Why?” He eyed her curiously. “Are you not?”
She collapsed on the empty cushion next to her husband. “No,” she said, “I was just wondering if it was going to be a problem.”
David sighed and kissed her forehead. “Honestly, Cho. It’s perfectly fine. We didn’t get through Merlin knows how many therapy hours and a mutual desire to fix our marriage to argue about the Potter family.”
Cho nodded, and offered him a small smile. “I’m glad. I hope things work out with Robert and Lily.”
He pressed his wife closer to his side. “Me too.”
x x x x
The last week of May arrived too quickly, or so some of the seventh years thought. The seventh years were spread out along the four tables and waited for instructions from Selina Walsingham, Professor Yalebright and Professor Bella.
Most of the seventh years were chewing nervously on the ends of sugar quills, but most of them were rather calm and collected.
“I am handing out the first envelope of N.E.W.T.S. which consist of your electives,” began Selina Walsingham. “If you finish one of the exams before the allotted time period, quietly place it in to the envelope it came in.” Selina’s eyes travelled around the Great Hall before she made her way to the head table. “As discussed at our previous meeting, you will have a break in between each N.E.W.T., but you cannot leave the room.” She turned to Professor Yalebright who was shooting death-glares at Brian’s ‘old friends’.
“Ah, just to recap the basic instructions, you have an hour and a half to complete each test. During the breaks between each one, you may not leave. And, finally, cheating is not tolerated. If you are caught cheating, you will be assigned a failing grade. Good luck.”
Professor Bella’s normally stern expression seemed to soften slightly as she stepped forward. “Are there any questions before we begin?”
No one said anything.
“All right then, I guess we can get started,” Selina Walsingham said as she nodded to the seventh years to make their way to a vacant desk. “Good luck to you all.”
The four house tables had been moved, and there were a multitude of single desks and chairs lining the Great Hall. Each desk held two full bottles of the regulation blue ink, three beige quills bewitched with anti-cheating spells and a stack of loose parchment for rough notes.
As the seventh years made their way for a vacant seat, Professor Yalebright said, “Mix it up. Sit away from your fellow house mates.
Lily ended up in the middle of Bryce Reagan, a Hufflepuff, and Daniel Zabini, a Slytherin.
Rebecca was sitting behind her and talking to one of her Ravenclaw friends.
Before the exam started, Rebecca murmured to Lily, “Good luck.”
“Thanks, you too,” Lily said, half turning in her seat.
“Okay,” Selina’s voice rang out from the front of the room. “We’ll begin.” Silence immediately fell upon the room as the envelope full of electives was handed out.
Selina whisked her wand at the hour-glass on the head table and it turned over. The N.E.W.T.S. had begun.
It was an odd feeling that washed over Lily as she opened the envelope and retrieved the Ancient Runes test. Instead of having a breakdown like she had in the practice ones, she felt entirely calm and mellow. Her quill strokes were exact, every ‘t’ and ‘i’ were crossed and dotted.
She completed each of her electives way past the allotted time. When she handed her sealed envelope back to the nearest professor (Bella), she was handed the next test (Transfiguration). When she had finished her Transfiguration one, she set her quill down, giving herself some time to breath. Robert had finished his electives at approximately the same time as her and was just wrapping up his Transfiguration test. She could not see how Rebecca, Ethan and Brian were doing since they were situated behind her. For once, she was ahead of many of the brightest Ravenclaw students.
That was all the confidence Lily needed to finish her N.E.W.T.S. in due time. When Selina’s call to ‘drop your quills’ was heard around the Great Hall, a mutual sigh could be heard.
“Your N.E.W.T.S. will be marked and the results will be delivered by owl to you in three days,” Selina said. “You’re all free to leave now.”
The seventh years made a mad rush for the doors, glad the worst was behind them.
“Aren’t you relieved it’s all over?” Rebecca asked, coming into step with Lily.
“You want to head down to Hogsmeade? Professor Walsingham said it’s fine, just as long as we’re back for dinner.”
“Sure. I have to pick up some blue ink anyway.”
Rebecca and Lily headed for the Entrance Hall doors and meandered outside. The sun shone brightly down on them as they made their way to Hogsmeade village.
x x x x
Just as Selina Walsingham said, three days later they received their N.E.W.T. scores. Rebecca, Ethan and Brian all passed with flying colors. While, Lily and Robert both tied with an overall average of ‘Outstanding’ on the exams. Brian was half-hoping Andrew and Paul did not pass, but they made up for their near-failing grades in Charms with Herbology. All in all, there was not one student who did not pass.
As June rolled around, Selina stood up one time at dinner. “As everyone knows, the year is coming to a close, and the graduation ceremony is fast approaching. It will be held here at three o’clock. All years are welcome to attend for the ceremony. Thank you to all the seventh years who gave us an estimate of who is attending. The Hogwarts Express will arrive with the family members an hour before the ceremony. Speeches will be done by various teachers, along with the Class Historian and the Head Boy and Girl. That is all.”
Selina smiled at the students before sitting down.
“Is it done?” Ethan asked Lily, while he buttered a crusty bread roll.
Lily smiled, raked her eyes to the Ravenclaw table and then back to Ethan. “It’s done.”
x x x x
Author’s Note: HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! I really, really wanted to get a chapter out before the holidays, but I got so distracted with the holidays. Title for chapter is from the song by The Fray. Thank you so much for the reviews and for staying with me this long! Take care, and reviews are very much appreciated.