Skipping Stones

Cho's Point of View

It was hard, life after Cedric. Someone who had held such a large place in my life suddenly held no place with me, only a hole in the ground. I still do not know if I loved him. He loved me that I am assured of. Yet, as they lowered his body into the ground, I shed not a single tear. Why? I cursed myself. I was his girlfriend, the one he loved most, but I didn't even cry.

Cedric's parents came to me, after the service. They had found something they said belonged to me. It was a simple band, in white gold, with a small diamond in the center. The ring was etched simply: "Cedric Diggory + Cho Chang."

I soon realized what this meant. His intention had been to propose. He would've done it, too. And I would've said yes. Not because I loved him, but because I could not say no to him. Perhaps the two are one and the same.

I would've graduated in a year, and married him, fresh out of Hogwarts. I would've been Mrs. Diggory, baker of cookies, and maker of lemonade for his professional Quidditch team. He had offers, after all. And I almost had an offer.

My parents tried to get him off my mind; they knew it was eating me alive. We have a summer cottage in rural France, so we spent most of the summer there.

On the outskirts of our land, we have a small stream running into a pond. I do not know it's name, but that is of no importance. I spent a lot of my time there, camped out in a muggle tent.

I could never manage to fall asleep at night. Thoughts of Cedric and the guilt that came with just haunted me. I used to count the stars, just staring at the ceiling f our world. *Our* world; I still thought of everything as "ours," Cedric's and mine. He shared everything with me; I shared nothing with him. Nothing important, that is. Sure, any money or Quidditch things... but not what I felt inside. He never knew I never loved him.

One night the loneliness got to me. I couldn't sleep, and it was past eleven. I climbed onto a rock, which was hard in my slippers. I kicked them off, and dangled my feet into the water. Little fish had swarmed around the surface, but now where gone, far beneath the surface.

I slipped off the pajama bottoms and dove in. The water was crisp, cold and clear, a sharp contrast with the air I had escaped. Above the surface, it was hot, humid and sticky, the kind that makes you feel like you're drowning with every breath you take.

I could not open my eyes; I had never had that talent. Instead I groped blindly, trusting the water blindly, trusting it held nothing to challenge my existence upon this Earth.

Soon I swam to the surface, gasping for breath. I swam over to a large, smooth boulder, and pulling myself up. As I swam, I caught from the corner of my eye, a beautiful girl sitting on a hollowed out log on the other side of the river.

Again I glanced over. She was blond, with long hair nearly touching the ground. I could see she had been crying a long time, even from across the stream. Her eyes were red and swollen, her sequined shoes ruined with mud.

I decided it was none of my business. I didn't know her, and she did not know me. She probably wouldn't want some stranger prying into her life, anyway.

I quickly ran to my knapsack, pulling on a pair of baggy cargo shorts and an equally baggy t-shirt. I could hardly walk around in just my swimsuit. Not here, and not with her around, at least.

I still couldn't sleep. I walked over to the water and scooped up a handful of small flat stones. With a flick of my wrist, I sent them flying across the surface, sending tiny ripples across, even to the very end of the pond. It was beautiful in a simple way, the kind of subtle beauty even a trained eye has trouble pin pointing, though all sense it's presence.

The girl stopped sobbing, looking up for a moment. I could've sworn she smiled. I picked up another stone, and once more, she watched as it skipped across the surface. This time I know she smiled.

She stood up, brushing of the dirt from the log, and grabbed a few stones of her own. The first almost made it, but it was not to be, it sank into the surface on impact. She grasped another stone, and this one too failed. She tried again and again. With each thrown stone, she grew more and more frustrated. She sat back down, silent and defeated.

I walked across the shallows of the pond, the water up to my knees. I offered my hand to her, and she grasped it, and let me pull her up. As she brushed the hair from her eyes, I realized it was her. Fleur Delacour, the girl all the boys had fallen for, and though I did not realize it, she was the girl I too would fall for.

"Let me show you," I offered, plucking a stone off of the ground, and flicking across in slow motion.

She too grasped a stone from the pile, imitating my movement. She came close, but failed once more. Her delicate smile faded into a frown. "I'm no good..."

"You can do it, I swear you can," I said, placing a small flat stone into her hand. "Let me guide you." She nodded her approval.

I handed her a stone, and wrapped her fingers around it. I lightly touched her hips, lining her up to me. I myself held a second stone. As I moved, I moved her with me, lined up tightly, her back against my chest. Then I threw the stone, moving her body to follow.

The stones flew gracefully alongside each other, creating an exquisite figure eight ripple. Fleur smiled. She turned her head, catching me in a kiss. I pulled back, shocked.

It wasn't that I didn't fancy girls, or that I wasn't attracted to her, I'd have to be crazy not to. It was just... none of the pretty girls are gay. It's just the way it is. Every so often, I would fall for a girl. When I fall, I fall hard. But the girls are always straight, and never give me any mind. I had thought I'd never fall for a girl, or a boy for that matter, again. Not after Cedric. Nonetheless, she is here, and I have fallen once more.

She turns away from me, her face a violent red. "I'm so sorry..." she says, gathering her skirts and walking slowly away.

"Don't be."