Warm milk gave her a stomachache. Listening to soothing music didn’t help. She counted
sheep, she counted pigs, she counted kneazles – all it did was bore her. She
spent her free time doing research in the library, trying to find a remedy that
would work. Although she attempted them all, nothing ever accomplished
Short of a draught made of powdered root of asphodel mixed with an infusion of wormwood, there was nothing that could put Cho Chang to sleep.
I should get Professor Binns to lecture me before I go to bed. He certainly gets everyone else snoring after five minutes in his class, she thought on a particularly bad night. Normally, she was exhausted after the first few hours of tossing and turning, but tonight she was wide awake even after lying in bed for what seemed like days.
Cho sighed and sat up slowly, careful not to make any noise. All she needed now was to
wake up the other girls. There was no point in lying in bed doing nothing… this
was as good a time as any to get ahead in her work.
I’m getting to be as bad as that Hermione Granger. Cho smiled to herself, imagining the fifth year girl furiously scribbling with her quill as the sun rose over Hogwarts. Her smile abruptly
vanished when thinking of Hermione got her thinking of Harry Potter, who got
her thinking of-
No. She wouldn’t go there tonight. If he came
into her mind, Cho would be awake for the next week.
Creeping around the room silently, she got a robe and slippers from her trunk. After
putting them on and finding her Transfiguration book, Cho made her way to the
common room. It would undoubtedly be empty… she couldn’t imagine anyone else
being up and about at this hour.
The armchair nearest to the fire was the most comfortable. She settled herself in,
muttered “Lumos” to her wand, and
began reading about making stools into pigeons.
had always been her favorite subject. It didn’t take long for her to get
absorbed completely in her textbook. Cho wouldn’t have noticed midnight if it
hadn’t been for the grandfather clock that announced its coming with deafening
clangs. She cringed a little, hoping the noise would die down. Cho enjoyed
silence. She needed silence. Too much
noise made her uncomfortable… it reminded her of chaos, the night that
everything went wrong, the night of the third task-
No. No. She had to stop herself before she thought of him. Otherwise, she’d lose all control
over herself, become a hysterical mess… she needed to stay focused. The book. Do your homework, Cho.
“Hold your wand with a firm and steady grip…”
Just as the
last chime went off, Cho heard a new sound. It also rang piercingly through the
small room, but this noise made her close her book. It was the sound of someone
crying – not just crying, but sobbing uncontrollably. Sobbing like they would
never be happy again. Sobbing like Cho herself had in the days after –
No, Cho. You can control this. Don’t
appeared from across the room. It was the ghost of a tall woman, wearing a
dress that must have been elaborate at one time but was now ragged and stained.
Her face was that of a great beauty who had neglected her personal hygiene for
far too long. A tattered veil covered her long, stringy hair. She was the
source of the weeping.
at her. Although the Grey Lady was the Ravenclaw ghost, she was almost never
around. Cho couldn’t think of anyone who had actually talked to her. This was
the first time the ghost had been near enough for Cho to examine closely, and
she could immediately see why she was called the Grey Lady. She was the epitome
of grief – a broken shell of a woman who looked far too miserable to be alive.
I suppose that’s why she’s not, Cho
thought. I wonder… why is she so sad?
Curiosity overwhelmed her. Maybe I should just say something. The worst
thing that could happen would be if she just ignored me…
me… are you all right?” she asked gently. The ghost jumped up from the couch
she had collapsed on, looking around wildly for who had spoken.
“I was not
aware of anyone else’s presence,” she said. Her voice was deep and choked with
mean to startle you… I… couldn’t sleep.”
Lady stood up and walked over to Cho’s chair. “I recognize you. You are… the
Chang girl? The prefect?”
Cho nodded. How does she know?
“I’ve heard your name several times
over the past year. You were… close to Cedric Diggory, then?”
The name caught Cho by surprise. She
immediately started chanting her mantra to herself – Don’t think about
it don’t think about it don’t think about it…
After a moment, Cho nodded again.
The Grey Lady’s voice was gentle.
“I was very sorry to hear of his death,” she said softly.
Against her will, Cho’s eyes began
to fill with tears. She blinked rapidly, looking down so that the ghost wouldn’t
see. Her efforts were useless.
“It’s all right, child. Cry if you
wish. I know only too well what you are feeling.”
“You – you do?”
“Yes,” the ghost sighed. “You see,
tonight I was remembering my own lost love. It is September 30th as
of a few minutes ago, and it was this day, six hundred and thirty two years
ago, that my eternity of melancholy began.” She stopped, choosing her next
words delicately. “Would you…like to hear my story?”
“Oh… of course,” Cho said, wiping
her eyes with the back of her hand. The ghost fascinated her… and it wouldn’t
hurt to have something to take her mind off of Ced- no, don’t say the name.
“It’s been so long since I’ve
talked to anybody… it may take a bit for me to recall all of the details of my
story. No, what am I saying? I have been going over the events of my life again
and again in my mind. I remember exactly how everything happened.
“When I was alive, I was the
daughter of a rich lord who owned the land Hogsmeade stands on today. Our manor
was just north of the Shrieking Shack, and we were the richest family for
miles. Wealth didn’t matter to me, though – I was only interested in our
library. In those days, there was not much for me to read besides the Bible and
ancient spell books written in arcane languages, but I devoured whatever I
could find. My family and the villagers all thought I was crazy. Why would a
girl with my kind of money ever waste her time reading?
“The time finally came for me to go
to Hogwarts, and I was more excited than I had ever been. Imagine – going to a
place with more books than even our house! When I arrived and was Sorted into
Ravenclaw, I was ecstatic. For the first time, I was surrounded by people like
me. They accepted me – I had never been happier.
“Although I made many new friends,
I was closest to a boy – forgive me, but I cannot say his name. Even now, it
hurts me too much to speak it aloud…”
Cho nodded. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Where was I? Oh yes… the boy. He
was charming, handsome, and one of the best students in our year. He could
always make anybody laugh, from the sternest ghost to the most ill tempered
professor. We had so many wonderful times together…” Her eyes misted over, more
tears forming even as she spoke.
“Well, as the years went by, our
friendship blossomed into something more. We were betrothed by the time we
graduated Hogwarts. Our families were overjoyed – they could not have made a
more perfect match.
“I spent the summer in nervous
anticipation. When the wedding day came, I was more than ready. I walked down
the aisle on September 30th… but my love never came. We waited at
the church for hours. I knew that he had to be lost, or maybe someone had
kidnapped him somehow… now I realize that he was not the man I thought he
was. He had simply chosen to abandon me.
“After being left at the altar, I
was not the same. I think I must have gone a bit mad… I refused to change from
my wedding attire, believing that if he saw me wearing the same dress and veil,
he would know that I still loved him, that I was still ready to marry him. I
refused to eat or sleep, spending all of my time looking out of the window,
hoping to spot him coming down the street. I spoke to no one, because if I
stopped watching for just one second, I might miss him. Eventually, I sank so
deeply into myself that I could not recover. That is when I died.
“I ended up back at Hogwarts, where
the happiest time of my life were spent. Even here, though, I am not free from
his memory. He pursues me wherever I go, and on the date of my failed wedding,
all I can do is weep. The rest of the year, I prefer to stay away from other
people… it is so painful to dredge up the memories of the old days. All they do
is remind me of him.”
Cho was silent for a moment,
letting the story sink in. “That’s so sad. You just wasted away, because of
your lost love?”
“Yes. But… and excuse me if I’m
being too presumptuous… aren’t you doing the same thing?”
“What do you mean?” Cho asked,
“Am I right in assuming that you
have not slept since your Cedric passed away?”
Cho caught her breath sharply. She
had never really thought about it in those terms… but, come to think of it, she
couldn’t remember having a good night’s rest since the end of her fifth year.
“Cho, I felt a kinship with you as
soon as I realized who you are. We are very similar – too similar. I am a
ghost. I am doomed to relive my sorrows for all eternity. But you… you are
alive, and young! Remember that Cedric is gone, but you are not. Do not live in
the past. I did, and this is where it has got me.” She gestured to her sordid
clothes and tearstained face.
“But how could I ever stop thinking
about him?” Tears were streaming down Cho’s cheeks again, but this time she
“I know it would be impossible for
you to forget Cedric, and I am not asking that you do. I only hope that you
begin to remember the good things about him as well as the bad. He would not
want you to torture yourself over his death.
“All I ask is that you live while
you can, for your time on this earth is short enough without wasting it in
perpetual mourning. This is the lesson that I wish I could have learned long
“Thank you,” Cho whispered, but the Grey Lady was
already floating away, back through the wall. She was weeping again. Cho had a
feeling that she would never stop weeping.
She watched her disappear… and then
she went upstairs, falling asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.