How Wizards Do Money: Cho Chang

Cho never told her husband.

She got used to standing up and walking over to whatever she wanted, instead of saying “accio coffee cup!” It was really less about getting used to it than it was about forgetting, and Cho wanted to forget.

“My first boyfriend was killed,” she told her therapist, “by a terrorist.” She suspected that lying in therapy confounded the process, but she did not have another name for He Who Must Not Be Named.

There was no one to whom she could tell the whole story. The impossibility of it all. She had lived through a war.

She married both a Muggle and an American, someone who didn’t know her country well enough to put together quite how different she was from her compatriots. She was pretty. He liked her accent and her sense of humor. He held her in the night, when she woke up screaming.

He was a college student when he met her, enraptured by everything that seemed British even though Cho was technically Scottish. He was on scholarship. Cho didn’t know what that meant until the two of them had crossed the Atlantic for good, to a place where you could see the horizon in every direction and the words “terrorist” and “school shooting” evoked sympathy without the knowledge that they were wands instead of guns, and that the students shot back.

Turns out being “on scholarship” means living in a shabby apartment with egg-spackled walls. It means linoleum with permanent gray dirt in the fake lines meant to join up the fake squares. Cho had not realized you could live in a building where everything was fake, from the marble in the lobby to the wood on the kitchen cabinet.

Cho’s husband thought they were doing well because they did not have to share their newlywed apartment with roommates. He was a teacher. He was kind and good and their home was stacked with books and each of their bookshelves sagged in the middle because nothing in their home was real.

For a while Cho was in charge of the budget, until both of them realized that Cho shouldn’t be in charge of a budget. Her husband forgave her because he assumed she was unfamiliar with American money, and because he loved her. He took over the money, and she scrubbed the floors. She had never scrubbed a floor in her life. There had always been house-elves to do that for her.

Now Cho was in America and doing everything for herself. In the morning, she and her husband took turns packing sack lunches. Both of them worked — Cho was a receptionist at a law firm, hired because she was pretty and because her accent sounded good on the phone. (She was the human equivalent of that psychological game where the word red is written in the color blue; people kept commenting on her “beautiful Chinese accent,” or occasionally “beautiful Japanese accent,” and nobody ever guessed that she was Scottish until she told them.)

It took Cho about two years to put together that if she and her husband earned more money, they wouldn’t have to live in that terrible apartment and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches shoved into a paper bag. She had misunderstood America as a whole for their particular circumstance. Yes, America expected you to pay for your own weekly therapy sessions out of pocket and live in dismal apartments with filthy floors, but America also expected you to earn as much money as you could.

So Cho told her husband she wanted to earn more money, and she told her therapist she wanted to earn more money, and she began studying how to earn money, carrying even more books into the stacks that lined the apartment walls. She quickly gathered that the fastest way to earn a lot of money was to start a business, but it had to be the right type of business, one with a high profit margin and infinite scalability. Given her options and their current location, that meant an online business. No — not anymore. It meant an app.

Cho started small, remembering the coins they used in Dumbledore’s Army. She created an app where, if one person pressed a “Thinking of You” button, another person’s smartphone would light up. The “I Want You” app (quickly dubbed the “Booty Call” app) soon followed. Cho was doing this all single-handedly, learning basic coding and development skills as she went.

Her third app was a dating app, and if she improved her matches’ success rates by throwing a few love charms into the code, nobody knew the difference. She quit her receptionist job and worked from home, calling out “accio coffee cup” when she needed it and tracking every App Store and Google Play sale. She and her husband managed the budget together now. They moved into a better apartment.

Cho’s greatest achievement was building The Map, based on something Harry Potter had said to her once, back when he still had a crush on her and was desperate for her attention. The Map told you where all your friends were, in real time. It pulled information from other social networks to identify your real friends, and those were the people you saw on your Map. You didn’t have to invite people to join your Map or kick people out of your Map; it used analytics from your social interactions on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and the rest of them to isolate your true friendships and connections, and if it used a bit of magic to help smooth that process, nobody cared.

With The Map, Cho and her husband were not quite rich enough that they never had to worry about money again, but they had real wood cabinets now, and savings and investments. Since Cho’s husband still felt uncomfortable about hiring household help (another uniquely American trait), Cho cleaned the house herself, quickly, with a few sweeps of her wand.

But she never told her husband. Not ever.

Previously: Rita Skeeter

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