A Terrible Fate
It was a stormy evening just before Halloween, and Cedric was having a quick chat with a few friends from Ravenclaw in the Entrance Hall, when a small girl with flaming red hair came running through the door, tripped and fell.
Some of the older students laughed, but she looked to be on the verge of tears from the humiliation, and Cedric hunkered down beside her. As he picked up her schoolbag she shook her hair out of her eyes and swallowed a sob. He smiled at her and said, "You're Fred and George's sister aren't you."
She sniffed slightly. "How did you know?"
"It's the hair – it's very distinctive. I'm Cedric – I'm intheir year."
"Oh – I remember. You live near us."
He grinned. "That's right – only I never saw you. You were always off climbing trees or something. It's Ginny, isn't it?"
"Yeah." She still sounded close to tears and for the first time he suspected there was something upsetting her, other than the embarrassment. He looked at her again – her robes and hood were soaked, feathers clung to her sleeves, and she had several painful looking cuts on her hands. She was trembling.
"Are you all right?" He said.
Tears were in increasing evidence on her face and she said, "I'm really fine – it's just, I'm all wet… And my hand hurts, and I had a fight with my friend, and I can't remember the way back to my Common Room."
He helped her stand up, brushing the feathers (heaven knew where they came from) off her cloak, and asked. "What's your friends name?"
"Tom." She sobbed loudly this time.
"And what did you fight about? If you don't mind telling me that is."
"Oh, it was something stupid. He wanted me to tell him something – nothing bad, just something…private, and I didn't want to, and he said I was…"
Ginny broke off suddenly, and hugged herself, taking several deep breaths. She glared up at him suddenly and said, "It's not funny you know."
"I don't think it's funny…I'm not laughing."
She sniffed again. "Fred and George always laugh, but I can't find them." Clearly he needed to get her back to her Common Room, and to this Tom, whoever he was, otherwise she would really get upset.
Cedric frequently had reason to be grateful he was tall, and he craned his neck now, trying to see if there was another Weasley around. It took several moments, during which Ginny found herself a tissue and dried her face, but eventually he found the youngest boy, the one who hung around with Harry Potter.
The boy looked around until he saw Ginny, whereupon he swiftly made his way over, glaring at Cedric as he came. Even though she cleaned herself up, there were still traces of tears on her face.
"What have you done to her!"
He was tall for a Second Year, and his voice was so fierce that Cedric had to swallow an impulse to laugh. He was about to defend himself when Ginny said, in a much louder voice than she had used before, "He hasn't done anything Ron!"
"Well what's wrong with you then?"
Ginny seemed to struggle for words, and Cedric interjected, "She got a bit lost. You know what the castle is like."
Ron scoffed. "I can't believe you don't know your way back to the Common Room still, Ginny."
The curly-haired girl looked at him scornfully. "Don't be stupid Ron – we'll bring you back Ginny."
She shifted uncomfortably and said, "I don't want to make you late…"
Harry Potter interrupted her, having joined the others only seconds before, saying, "It's fine Ginny."
And she flushed right up to her hairline. Suddenly Cedric knew exactly what the 'something private' was. It was slightly comic, especially as Harry Potter was, quite chivalrously, ignoring her embarrassment, but having discovered girls that year, Cedric couldn't really laugh at it either.
They turned to go, but Cedric managed to find time to say, "And Ginny – if he's really your friend, he won't mind that you didn't want to tell him. Just say you're sorry."
She smiled then, a beautiful, childish, slightly tremulous smile and said, "Thanks. You're really nice."
And then she ran to catch up with her brother and his friends, all thoughts of tears forgotten.