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After the war, Cho Chang disappeared.

She had been instrumental in the fight against Voldemort, working undercover to smuggle half-bloods out of the country, then risking her life at the Battle of Hogwarts. But just when the dust cleared and people started asking who they should credit in the history books yet to be written, Cho Chang was gone. 

She didn’t go far, though when a clever witch doesn’t want to be found, it’s easy enough to banish any bread crumb trails left behind. She bought a tiny flat in London and furnished it with what was left of her savings. She’d never taken a Muggle Studies class, her parents were purebloods, but here she was anyway, joining the Muggle world. It was like going to another planet, but all the other aliens instantly assumed she was one of them.

Cho Chang found work in a large bookstore near Piccadilly Circus. She didn’t want small and independent, she wanted anonymous and corporate. It was perfect. And that’s where she stayed. Instead of learning to brew potions and transfigure rats, she took local classes in whatever struck her fancy, like cooking and dance. She went out for drinks and to dinner parties with friends who would never be asked to keep secrets that could get them expelled from the only school in the country. She didn’t have to ask her new friends personal code questions to make sure they were who they said they were. Nobody knew her past, so there were no hushed voices that followed in her wake.

In short, life went on and sometimes Cho forgot she was a witch at all. It was nice to let the memories dissolve. Her wand (12 inches, unicorn hair, mahogany) sat in a box on her mantle. Her cat, Bumblebee, sometimes knocked it over when he was annoyed with her.

It was the holiday rush and Cho Chang was working overtime at the store, trying to fit more copies of the newest Nicholas Sparks book onto a display table. It took a certain kind of finesse to make everything fit just so. She knew what spell she would use to finish the task in an instant, a simple flick of the wrist, a spoken word or two. Done.

Christmastime was when the memories came back into sharpest focus. The holiday buzz made her think of the castle. The big Christmas trees Hagrid would drag in from the Forbidden Forest. The smell of pine. Treacle tarts and sugar cookies delicately iced. Candles floating above her head. A starry ceiling.

A hand on her shoulder. Cho jumped sideways, away from the stranger, but into a cart of books instead.

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