Cho Chang/Harry Potter Original Female Witch/Ron Weasley
Harry Potter Original Female Witch Original Male Wizard
Action Suspense
Children of Characters in the HP novels
Published: 04/12/2003
Updated: 05/05/2003
Words: 178,786
Chapters: 22
Hits: 20,126

Presents from the Past

Horst Pollmann

Story Summary:
Thirteen years after Hogwarts. Eight years have passed since the last time we saw our heroes. The number of children walking or crawling through the scene has grown from three to more than a dozen. And some of them are in the focus of attention - this way or the other ... Harry and Cho moved from California to Ireland. One of the reasons was to have the same time zone as Paris, where some other people are found, and some other children. However, it's their old place where the first dark clouds appear ...``A fic most of the characters known from the previous one - well, except for all these shorties somewhere between ten months and eleven years ...

Chapter 01 - First Day

Chapter Summary:
Sandra Catherine Potter encounters her first day in her new school - Beauxbatons. And with great accuracy, she manages to have the first unpleasant encounter with a certain teacher.

01 - First Day

The teacher, a Monsieur Thionnay, made the tip of his wand glow, then used it for lighting a cigarette. While his suit wasn't looking special, might not have raised an eyebrow out in the streets of Paris, maybe except for its flawless cut, his gestures were those of an artist on stage.

But the applause didn't come. For most students, the reason was that they wouldn't dare. For a few of them, the idea would have been simply absurd.

Still, at this moment, the teacher had the full attention of the entire class. He didn't notice - couldn't notice - because for him, it had looked as though he had their attention for the last twenty minutes already, since the moment when he'd started this nice introduction of his course - Magique Générale.

He'd been wrong.

But just now, even Sandra Chang was watching the small spectacle until, a moment later, the teacher stubbed the cigarette - after all, smoking wasn't allowed in the classrooms of the Beauxbatons Ecole d'Education Magique.

This version of the name was fairly new. Until recently, there still had been the addendum "of France." To the great dismay of the Beauxbatons officials, this suffix had to be abandoned. There were quite some other schools in France that had established magical courses, and they had hinted that either Beauxbatons would drop its implicit claim of a monopoly, or it might get prepared for the steps to follow by hiring a lawyer.

Sandra Chang couldn't care less about the school's loss in name size. She cared a bit more about her own loss in that matter, although not much, even if it was more than a loss in size - it was a change.

For good reason.

Her true name, as recorded in the birth register of Santa Monica, California, USA, was Sandra Catherine Potter. Over the ten years of her lifetime, she had developed a kind of respect toward this name, because each time she was called that way it meant serious business, if not trouble.

For more mundane matters, which meant most of the time, she was called by some abbreviations, "Sandy" by her father and most other people, "Cass" by her mother, and "Little Dragon" by anyone who wanted to express affection as much as a bit of teasing and, not to forget, who felt privileged enough to address her that way.

Without this important prerequisite, any such attempt had to be rated as a very bad idea, Invariably, it would result in a quick and unpleasant clarification of the misunderstanding between Sandra's own view of things and that of the other person. The efforts in such a case were equally shared among the two people involved: Sandra took care of the quickness, and the other person couldn't help but provide the unpleasant feeling.

However, the list of nicknames was much longer. Héloise for example, Sandra's closest friend, who sat next chair and listened to Monsieur Thionnay with more attention, sometimes called her "Sandrine" - a creation formed from Sandra and Dragonine, which meant something like Little Dragon in French. Most often, though, Héloise used "Dra," because it gave a perfect example of their relationship: there was a public outside, according to which this syllable was a mutilation of Sandra, and a private inside, where this of course was a mutilation of Dragon.

That was to say, if Héloise used a spoken word at all to gain her friend's attention. The most common technique used by this half-quarter Veela was a mind call, recognized instantly by Sandra within a certain range. And when Héloise felt in the mood for a little joke, she sent a tiny dash of her Veela power - quickly followed by a smile and the first spoken words, just to make sure Sandra was listening, rather than taking offence and returning this questionable favour with something out of her own repertoire.

Monsieur Thionnay's little presentation had caught Sandra's full attention because she had noticed that sometimes a wand really was the better choice. Yes, of course she had a wand, a very nice piece of cedar wood, twelve inches, except that most of the time she didn't bother, just used her fingertips instead.

But here in Beauxbatons, this habit wasn't suitable, as her father Harry had told her time and again. Sandra only could hope she wouldn't forget. Not that she had any trouble with her memory - no, sir or madam, not the least. It was just a tiny problem with her patience.

Somehow it was a pity; Sandra's wand would easily qualify as the most remarkable piece in the magical community. Its magical core was a phoenix feather, so far outstanding while not unique. The feather once belonged to Fawkes, a phoenix who previously had contributed only two feathers, both of them integrated in her father's twin-coloured sibling wand, and none thereafter. Still, Sandra felt no doubt that Fawkes would provide a fourth and probably last feather, once her brother Gabriel was due for his first wand.

No, what made her own wand unique was something on its outside. It looked like a handle, created with a few hairs that originated from the mane of a light-coloured Centaur. Sandra knew him well; his name was Firenze, and this Centaur was something like an old friend of her parents.

The handle provided three effects, each of them quite useful.

The Centaur hair, wound tightly round the wood across a span of four inches, offered a nice touch, no matter whether Sandra's fingers were dry or sweaty. There was nothing wrong with touching cedar wood, contrary to the fact that her mother Cho, for reasons unknown to Sandra, had expressed some sharp remarks about this choice when Sandra and her father had returned from that weird wand shop in London. Actually, this short conversation had triggered the enhancement with the Centaur hair. Since then, the wand felt totally natural in Sandra's hands, except that any attempt to find out more about her mother's aversion against cedar wood had failed.

As well as any attempt to squeeze her father, which, in a way, was quite unprecedented.

At any rate, the handle's second effect was that nobody could take the wand away from Sandra. Trying to cast Expelliarmus on her wand had a nasty backfiring effect on the caster, while her own wand would remain calm and unmoving.

Third and last, nobody but Sandra herself could use the wand. In other hands, it was just a useless piece of wood, while touching the handle would quickly create blisters like from a burning.

Well, nobody wasn't quite correct. There were two exceptions from the rule. One was Aram'chee, the High Priestess and also Sandra's most important teacher, although it didn't mean Aram'chee could be found on any of the schools Sandra had joined so far. About once a week, Sandra visited her for something between two and four hours, and these visits had more of a meeting because the two of them would pick a nice place, according to the season, for sitting and talking. It could be somewhere in the Forbidden Forest, where Firenze lived, or a nice beach under palms somewhere in the Far East, or an ordinary ice-cream parlour - preferably in Italy, there you'd find the best ice-cream.

And the other exception, as Sandra had found out, was her brother Gabriel. When she had shown him her handle-enhanced wand, she'd said, "Look here - but don't touch it; for other people it's burning."

"Really?" Her brother had smiled his disarming smile to her, had taken the wand and drawn a circle around Sandra's face, creating something like a smoke ring. The smoke quickly disappeared, but while it faded, Sandra could hear a faint sound - somewhere in the middle between a whinnying horse and Christmas bells. Then Gabriel had returned the wand to her and said, "It didn't burn, but at least there was smoke, wasn't it?"

It had given her another of those maddening examples: according to all Sandra knew and had heard from her father, her magical power was unrivaled around the globe. Yes, Aram'chee was more powerful, only that went with her role as the High Priestess. But otherwise ...

This was the official version - within the family, that was, because to the outside it was kept a secret. Well - as far as possible, what with Sandra's occasional outbursts in more public places. But when watching her brother's doing, she had her doubts. Serious doubts.

Of course, she had asked him how he'd done this smoke ring; she wanted to do it by herself. "Doesn't work with you, Cassie," he'd said, "because in your hands it doesn't burn, right?"

Sandra could have sworn he was teasing her. Only - try as she might, scanning his mind with her own, she couldn't detect the slightest trace of joking. Just the seriousness of a seven-year-old. Or, more exactly, seven and a half. Still ...

Gabriel could tease her. Sometimes, with nobody else around, he called her "Little Priestess," with a deep grin in his face, despite the fact that she was bigger than he.

And once, after a scene in which she had shown a severe lack of discipline, Gabriel had called her "Low Priestess." Burning in rage, mostly because his description was totally accurate in that situation, Sandra had sent him a mind blow that would have driven her father to his limits in blocking.

Gabriel hadn't even twitched. Only his face ... so deeply hurt, the short moment before he'd turned to walk away, Sandra had felt like crying in misery and shame. She had made two quick steps, to reach him and grab his shoulder. "Please, Gabby ..."

Her hand had jerked off by itself - from a touch that felt like a sting, however fading at the same instant. Her brother had stopped and turned, still avoiding her eyes.

Tentatively, she'd touched him again. Not feeling resistance of any kind, mental or otherwise, she had hugged him. "I'm sorry, Gabe, I didn't mean it. You're right, I'm what you said, a - "

"No!" In a calmer tone of reproach to himself, Gabriel had added, "I shouldn't have said that."

Sandra hadn't heard it again, probably never would. If they were angry at each other, which happened rarely enough, she was careful to keep her remarks within certain boundaries, not to mention her mental attacks.

Of course, she had a weapon Gabriel was at a loss to parry. But, as she had learned soon, such ultimate measures ought to be used with care. This weapon was Sandra's friend: when Héloise used her Veela power on Gabriel, her brother turned to a helpless bundle of giggling, flushed and breathless - and very embarrassed afterwards. Every now and then, Sandra couldn't resist the temptation of using this weapon in a little blackmailing.

But using the weapon meant dancing on a high wire, not only for Gabriel's reaction, whose most effective weapon toward her was polite coolness, but also because Héloise was even more careful. Treating Gabriel that way for her own reasons was okay, maybe because Gabriel granted Héloise the natural right of being a half-quarter Veela and behaving as such. Only when it seemed as if Héloise would do it in Sandra's favour, she would risk her own benefit - and Gabriel hardly ever guessed wrong about her motives.

Because Héloise played a Goblin harp, and Gabriel played several other instruments - harmonica, bamboo flute since recently, also keyboard instruments fitting in size to his limited reach - and they loved playing together. After Héloise had carried out an order from Sandra, it could happen that she would hear a "No" once or twice from her partner, before Gabriel grudgingly agreed to the next session. At such an occasion, the first minutes would be spent on a competition of instruments before the chords again matched in harmony. Gabriel himself loved this music too much to stay off longer.

Nonetheless, Héloise had to ask then. Once, after earning the second "No", first she blamed Sandra for this stupid favour and then announced she wouldn't ask again; Gabriel himself had to ask - after all, Veela had their pride, hadn't they?

Two days later, Harry had arrived in the magnificent old house in the Goblin quarter of Paris, the family residence of the Veela branch in the Weasley tribe, and begged Héloise to ask again.

"Why should I?"

"Because he's sitting in the garden, playing his flute all the time, and his play - he's gaining expertise quickly, yes, but it's the saddest music I ever heard. Cho is nearly desperate, she can't listen more than ten minutes without starting to cry."

"Really?" Héloise seemed impressed, nevertheless still too proud. "But I won't ask him personally."

Harry had suppressed a sigh, as well as any remark. The rescue had come from Michel, Héloise's brother, who was one and a half years older than Gabriel. "I'll ask him," he'd said and, toward his sister, added, "for you - okay?"

Héloise hadn't given any reply. However, when Michel turned to Harry, obviously for being summoned into the Potter house, she hadn't protested either. And when Gabriel arrived, when he and Héloise were looking at each other, none of them ready to start the first tune, Michel had come along with something which, until then, had been considered as a toy, and asked, "Can we try together?"

The other two musicians had looked at him and his instrument - three Goblin war drums in different sizes, a gift from Wynor the Whistler to Michel's fourth birthday. Still reluctant, they'd watched Michel taking a single drumstick, shaped like a bone with two thicker ends, to start a slow-pounding rhythm. Too surprised to hold their reluctance any longer, they'd joined him, tentatively first, more enthusiastically after a few minutes.

Since then, they were playing together more often. Not every session would include Michel; on the other hand, once Héloise had caught Gabriel and Michel playing flute and drums without a harp. She hadn't complained, she only had informed her friend that Sandra might fight the rows with her brother alone.

Except, of course, for very, very good reasons. After all, girls had to stay together, hadn't they, and friendship wasn't supposed to be outperformed by music.

Sandra stopped paying serious attention to Monsieur Thionnay. Instead, she reconsidered the courses she had attended so far on this first day in her new school. Joining Héloise in class - as soon as possible - this had never been a question. Aram'chee wasn't happy about Sandra appearing in a public magic school, and Sandra's mother Cho, although for totally different reasons, didn't appreciate Beauxbatons too much. Her father, though, had only asked whether Sandra could muster the discipline, and she had promised.

And so the pseudonym Sandra Chang was created, because the name Potter seemed a bit too well known in France, and what's more, it would carry an unwelcome memory at Beauxbatons, where Potter senior had killed a student. It had happened during a ball, and for good reasons, but still, there was no need for refreshing old stories.

The first course had been French, except that the time was over, consumed by organizational issues, before they could come to the real topic. Sandra had raised her knowledge of French from partial to perfect in a two-week crash course with two fairies, after Cho had accepted the vote for Beauxbatons with a lot of muttering, occasionally even in Chinese, stopping only after Harry had howled in laughter. Not that he had understood a single word, only the meaning.

The second course had been Histoire. Sandra, fully prepared for keeping a low profile in magical issues, failed miserably to keep her mouth shut when the teacher, a Monsieur Fresnel, started to talk nonsense about the Assyrians and their relationships with other peoples of that time. Nobody else would have noticed, particularly so because it wasn't recorded any different in the books, only Sandra knew better, from stories told by Aram'chee.

Becoming aware of her doing, Sandra had stopped quickly. Still, it had been her first public appearance, a very unlucky one, resulting in unfriendly glances from the classmates and thoughtful glances from the teacher. At least, he wasn't mad at her - maybe because her own version was entirely free of contradictions; it only missed scientific proof.

And now they were sitting in Magique Générale which, in British schools, might have been a conglomerate of Charms, Transfiguration, and Defence against the Dark Arts, although the latter was considered an obsolete art. Sandra wondered whether she should go as far as failing once or twice with these primitive spells, while at the same time feeling profoundly challenged by the magical pattern that rested over the entire school, preventing apparition as well as summoning and pursuing. For her, it didn't feel as if this complicated pattern couldn't be deciphered. Maybe she should ask Aram'chee for help, although it wasn't unlikely that the High Priestess might be extremely hesitant in that matter, might even ask her father first before she would fulfill the request.

"... Chang? Mademoiselle Chang?"

Sandra came up with a twist. "Yes, Monsieur le Professeur?" For a short moment, she had forgotten that this was her name here. What had looked so simple at first thought, joining the school with Héloise, had its tricky moments.

"Would you please have the generosity of repeating what I just said?"

The teacher was looking at her with confident calmness, no doubt expecting the flush-faced confession that she couldn't.

Quickly, Sandra scanned the tiny part of her mind that had been devoted to his droning.

"Er, yes, Monsieur le Professeur. You said, 'If you happen to use your wands against each other in the halls and corridors of this school, messieurs 'dames, you will be sorry. I promise you'."

It was correct of course, unfortunately so to the last syllable and intonation. Some snorting in the class, while Monsieur Thionnay was glaring at her. "And what does that mean, young lady?"

"Isn't that obvious, Monsieur le Professeur? We're supposed to use our wands only in classes, and only if you feel like it."

She should have saved the last part; Sandra knew it the moment she finished her reply. True, she only had promised keeping a low profile in magical expertise, not in politeness, especially not to teachers apparently prejudiced against foreigners, or Chinese, or whatever. Still, it hadn't been an improvement, so much for sure.

Right she was. "Mademoiselle Chang, your impertinence is entirely inappropriate and out of place here in my class. That's why right now, I do not feel like it. Please show me your wand."

With a sick feeling in her stomach, knowing exactly what would happen, Sandra held her wand up. "Monsieur, please - "

"Tais-toi!" The teacher raised his own wand. "Expelliarmus!"

As expected - if only by herself - Sandra's own wand remained calm while, at the same time, Monsieur Thionnay's wand jerked up, leaving fingers too numb to hold, and fell to the floor.

"Monsieur, pardon, Monsieur le Professeur, but my wand has a built-in resistance against expelling. Er, that's what I was trying to explain a moment ago."

"It has what?" The teacher looked incredulous, in spite of his obvious failure. "How can this be?"

"Er - I don't know, Monsieur le Professeur."

This was a flat-out lie. Thionnay knew it - Sandra hadn't bothered making her voice sound convincing, quite the opposite.

"Where does this wand come from?"

"From London."

The teacher's head snapped up, probably because Sandra's answer lacked this ridiculously long title, and also because her answer could easily be rated as very unspecific. But Thionnay himself hadn't addressed her as Mademoiselle either, and she had answered his question as literal as possible.

And besides - was there any other wand maker in London, aside from this weird Mr Ollivander? Sandra didn't know.

Monsieur Thionnay seemed to know. Or he had lost his interest in fighting a lost battle. After some muttering, he continued in his lesson.

Only his glances left no doubt: this had been hardly more than a little skirmish, while the war had only just begun.

* * *

Cho Chang-Potter stood at the window of her family room in this cute little castle which, for the last two years, served as the Potter residence, and watched the rain pour down.

Rain ... Rain, day in, day out. It was depressing.

And it wasn't the weather alone. The same went for this rathole here, overlooking a small bay that opened to the Irish Sea. Opening eastward, that was, because this here was Ireland, and each member of the Potter family was a registered citizen of this country so full of poets and musicians.

Jerks, all of them, cultivating incompetence as a matter of style. The green island - what a bad joke, why hadn't she noticed from the beginning where all this green came from? Rain, what else.

It was a laugh, except Cho couldn't. She felt as Irish as Fleur, only less Veela.

She was a child of the city, always had been. And now - S¢rd, which was Irish for Swords, was the next town three miles to the south. Some town ... And twenty miles further southward was Dublin, and in one of its nicer streets, with lots of trees and a small park around, you could find the world headquarters of Groucho Industries.

So she could use the car, if she felt like it. Which she hardly ever did, except for shopping. Although, shopping in Dublin, wasn't that a joke in itself?

Otherwise, Cho used the portkeys installed by Harry. When other people watched her using them, they smiled admiringly. In Cho's mind, though, these smiles turned to a sneering; she couldn't shake off the thought they were rolling over inwardly, because she still couldn't apparate. Yes, maybe it was shameful, only this skill would need practising time she didn't have.

Because she, the CEO of Groucho, had an enterprise to run. And in the time left, she had a husband and two children to take care of. Or the other way around.

These two children were the reason why the Groucho headquarters was found in Ireland now, and the Potter gang too. Even in a double sense.

More than once in the past, after Gabriel was born, Cho had run into conflicts between her children and Groucho. Less often, still more than once, Harry had told her that she would be able to manage family and business - provided she kept herself to her nominal position, rather than dealing with issues from the daughter companies, only because all of them resided in the same complex of buildings, inviting everybody and his uncle to reach Cho personally in her office.

She used to agree, with a guilty smile. They both knew - everybody, maybe except for his uncle, knew that she welcomed being in touch, thereby jeopardizing the attempts of Chrissy, her assistant, to support the interests of her family.

Then several things came together. The United States encountered one of the deepest shocks in their history, when terrorists hijacked passenger jets to use them as living bombs toward famous buildings, crashing them to debris spattered with the flesh and blood of several thousands of casualties. The effect was a change in the behaviours and beliefs that went beyond anything tolerable - what the US citizens considered as patriotism was - in the eyes of her house-husband Harry - prejudice, narrow-mindedness, and megalomania.

Even Laila, ex-sergeant of the Israeli army and now assistant of Ramon, the Groucho Biochemicals CEO, supported his point of view. Maybe not entirely, only that Laila full-heartedly agreed to Harry's second concern - this puritanical country wasn't suited to raise children above the age of six, eight at the most.

And when this patriotic culture wave hit the schools, among them Cass' school, Harry had started putting pressure on Cho.

Then, one day, he came with a project plan. Business and tax regulations in Ireland were the best within the European Community, almost as enterprise-friendly as here in California. The time zone was the same as in France, so their children, both of them having mastered apparition with the mother's milk - so to speak, ha ha - would be able to join their closest friends, Héloise for Sandy and Michel for Gabriel. And she, Cho, would deal with global matters only - plus her own, voluntary involvements in local matters, supported by portkeys from him.

Cho studied the plan, then said, "Let me think it over."

"Of course," came Harry's answer. "Take your time - Gabriel's due in school three months from now."

Well, except for the noise, that had been that - although the noise turned out considerable. For example, the piercing shouts of hooray from her own children, treacherous pack that, when Harry, three weeks later, told them about the planning. For example, her own, to Harry, later the same day.

Finally accepting the inevitable, Cho talked with her assistant. "Chrissy, I can offer you two options. The first is a chair here in Santa Monica, as the CEO of any daughter company of your - "

"No thanks."

"Well, erm, the other ... the good news is, you'll continue as my assistant. The bad news, it'll be in Ireland."

Chrissy Vanzandt, a Muggle woman past her forties with a witch daughter, thought for ten seconds, then nodded. "Okay."

"And your family?" With desperation, Cho registered that not even this woman would share her mixed feelings.

"Well, with Chuck - you know how it is, and that'll be the final punch ..."

Chuck was Chrissy's husband, and this marriage had been at the verge of breaking for a while, for reasons all too familiar - Chrissy more successful, earning more money, spending too much time in the office, and so on, and so on.

"... while with Beverly - erm, I'm sure I know what she'll say."

Like Cho herself, among some other people. Beverly, a girl of seventeen, would melt into Ireland like sugar into tea. She was shy, had trouble with Californian style in school, she loved poetry, music ... And maybe something else, because each time this girl met her husband, she lost speech in favour of a flushed face. Beverly had volunteered as babysitter for Gabriel, at the very few occasions when this job was offered, which had caused Cho to issue a remark about killing two birds with the same stone. But only once - Harry hadn't taken well to that, his reply giving proof that Cho might find reason to regret such a comment, would it be given again.

Truth be told - this behaviour, which was called the Beverly syndrome but only by Cho and Chrissy - was different from previous cases. Beverly wasn't Ginny, whose love for her adopted brother was no longer prominent while no doubt still present somewhere inside. She wasn't Rahewa either, who wouldn't need more than a phony call to kill or be killed for her godfather. And she wasn't Gabrielle, Fleur's sister, for whom Harry was a simple hero, just good for about every impossible task you could imagine. Beverly was something else, maybe a mix of all the others.

And now they lived here, in this castle nobody but Cho herself would have called a rathole. Because it had been reconstructed, renovated, refurnished through and through - the walls, the gates, the towers, and of course every building. Within days, it had stopped being a place for breeding a flu, and the view from the window in front of her was grandiose, even in this grisly weather.

To nobody's surprise, Cho had found a way to enhance the limited sphere of influence that was offered by a purely administrative corporate structure like a world headquarters. When the joined efforts of Harry and Ray Purcell, Groucho's chief scientist for portkeys and related matters, had brought some promising results, Cho instantly created a new daughter company - Groucho Transport and Security, short GTS. And she created it right next door from the headquarters.

This branch manufactured three different items, although in many variations. The surname Security referred to protective spheres that prevented apparition and similar techniques - the only means to guard vaults, offices, or laboratories against intrusions from skilled wizards.

Outside Goblin territory, that was. Goblins had their own ways of keeping unwelcome people out.

Then there were the lifts, a kind of magazine portkey. A lift offered a certain list of destinations, and you had to press one of several buttons or enter a number into a keypad to select and activate the destination of choice. The term lift was used because ordinary lifts in high-rise buildings were the first market they had started to conquer.

They'd done so by running a high-price policy. Conventional lifts were considerably cheaper, only that, for a global player in the business, using Groucho lifts had quickly become a matter of style and reputation.

The little old Groucho Triple-P - Personal Portkey Programming - had been incorporated into the new daughter company. After all, without Ray Purcell, who had moved from California to Ireland with great delight, this branch was literally empty.

But the personal portkeys were just an add-on. The true item number three was the newest, the hottest, and the most challenging development. Technically too, though mostly in terms of marketing conquest and legal issues. Basically, it was no more than developing the idea of the magazine portkey a bit further - just one step, from resident to moveable.

And the result was a device that, to the outside, looked very much like a phony - a display, a keypad, some buttons more. Except each key combination represented an apparition target, and the Go button had to be interpreted literally.

The final touch, just a matter of manufacturing, had been the integration of phony and magazine portkey into one small device. It was called porty.

They had only just begun. This device challenged so many industries - from bad experience in the past, when the phonies had hit the market of ordinary mobile phones, they knew what to expect.

Right in the middle of the birth process for Cho's newest daughter, Harry had placed his counter attack. A brilliant one, as Cho had to admit, which didn't mean she hadn't given him his decent share of hell for interfering with her business. Especially because he had made herself doing it - only the Groucho CEO could assign people to such ranks in the enterprise.

It had started with Ray Purcell's unmistakable statement that he was an engineer, not a businessman, period. In the search for someone else, Harry had suggested a triumvirate - Ray for the scientific and manufacturing part, good old Spinbottle for the legal part, which would remain the most critical for years to come, yes ... and someone else for the tactical part.

Rahewa, his goddaughter.

The head of GTS would have to fight tooth and nail for quite some time, no question about that. Young as she was, Rahewa met the qualification; Cho would be the first to admit. Or maybe the second, whatever. So she had agreed. And Rahewa had agreed, since she and her husband Clemens, another potions genius in the Groucho services, could pick their choice of residence between Ireland and England.

It had taken the triumvirate less than a week to realize that they needed a clear ranking. Not a pecking order, agreed, but ... And the outcome of this vote had been clear from the beginning - Rahewa as the new CEO, with Ray and Spinbottle as her two deputies.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise to Cho. When she, Jesamine, and Sylvie founded Groucho, they had encountered a decision deadlock more than once, before tricky Potter had found a way to pass the majority over to Cho, even with the full approval of the other two. Only that the new ranking had a side-effect that shouldn't have been surprising Cho either ...

Harry had known what would happen. He didn't hide his broad grin when Cho returned home to report what his brat - Almyra's brat, as he corrected her - had said. "Cho, I can offer you two options. You can fire me, but if not, you get lost - now."

To be honest, Rahewa didn't mind taking Cho's advice. Only that Cho had to wait until Rahewa came asking, for example by inviting her to a decision meeting. Harry's comment had been good to shut her up. "I wonder where she's got that from. It's so unprecedented in the Groucho history, isn't it?"

No, of course not. Rahewa treated Cho with exactly the same medicine Cho had used against Harry, different only in minor aspects like the situation, and the scope of enemies they were facing.

So Cho had left the office earlier today. She had sworn to herself, she would be at home when Cass returned from her first day in Beauxbatons. Well, except that her daughter's first apparition jump would end in the Weasley house in Paris, naturally so, and it was an open question when they'd return home. They, that was the rest of her family, because Gabriel would jump along the same path, and no-longer-so-young Potter, first name Harry, probably waited in that house, fully unaware that his loving wife waited for them at home.

Cho felt like an idiot. Pondering the idea of using the portkey to that house and join the party, she declined it reflexively - still more feeling like an idiot.

In a traditional Chinese household, she would have gathered her servants now to give them hell. After all, what was a servant good for if not to blame him whenever fate struck ... Only, such an approach toward Dobby and Winky, the house-elf couple who happily had followed to Ireland, was unacceptable even in such a black mood.

There was just one idea similarly bad - jumping back into the office. Why? Because Chrissy would see her, and would know ... or, still worse, Rahewa.