Disclaimer: Not mine, oy.

Beta'd by the fantabulous DWS. Any lingering suckiness is mine.


Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a boy. His father was a Hufflepuff and his mother was a Ravenclaw, and he'd grown up knowing the value of hard work and friendship.

He started Hogwarts, and found that he was good at magic and with people. He was a prefect and Quidditch captain by his fifth year, and in sixth year he became a Hogwarts champion. He was pretty good-looking (if not my type) and fairly powerful, and his parents were beyond proud of him.

His name was Cedric Diggory, and he was in love with Harry Potter.

I'm not sure how it happened, exactly. It wasn't until after the Second Task that I started putting all the pieces together - the way he blushed whenever Harry caught his eye, how he seemed nervous when they talked together. Harry never noticed, of course, but then he's rather thick at times. I should know - he's one of my best friends.

Now, Harry had more than enough on his mind, so I decided to make sure Cedric didn't do anything to stress him further. Naturally, this meant that I had to confront the prefect.

It was hard going - Cedric had a lot of friends, and people liked being near him. Finally, I cornered him one day in the library, on a rare occasion when Viktor wasn't there to watch me study.

"Granger," Diggory said, looking startled and a bit nervous. "D'you need something?"

I crossed my arms over my chest and leveled a piercing look at him. "What, exactly, do you intend to do about your feelings for Harry?"

He went pale, then red, then looked away. "I don't know what - "

"Don't lie to me," I ordered. Harry and Ron had given me quite a lot of practice in dealing with taciturn males, and I put all my experience to good use now. "It isn't obvious, and I'm not about to tell anyone you like boys," I assured him, "but Harry's my best friend and I'm quite good at spotting these things. So. Do you intend to approach him?"

He was very still, and then I heard a quiet chuckle. He looked up at me, less afraid than amused. "You sound like a concerned mother," he informed me, grinning. He still looked a little pale, and his tone was a bit off, and the smile on his lips was entirely absent from his eyes. "Trying to warn me off?"

I sniffed. "Honestly," I said, irritated, "I just want to make sure you don't do anything to hurt him. And at the moment, he's got quite enough to deal with without having to question his sexuality. It's perfectly obvious to anyone who looks that he fancies boys," I added, "but he doesn't know it yet, and now is hardly the best time for him to find out."

Cedric stared at me as if I'd sprouted another head. "He does what? But he likes Cho."

"Oh, for Heaven's sake," I said brusquely, "that's neither here nor there. The only reason he likes Cho is because she's flat enough to be a boy and good at Quidditch – and, as you may have forgotten, you happen to be dating her. Now, do you mean to tell him about your crush?"

"What? I'm not...Cho - she..."

"Your crush," I reminded him impatiently. "Are you going to tell Harry?"

"Ah, no. I mean, not yet," Cedric said, stumbling over his words. He leaned against a nearby bookcase, looking overwhelmed. Logic can do that to the uninitiated. "I figured I'd wait until after the Tournament was through - when we aren't opponents, you know? And I wanted to see if I even had a chance before I talked to him - though if you're right, maybe I could talk to him sooner."

"Of course I'm right," I said, sniffing. "I think that waiting is very wise, personally. At least until this…game…is out of the way." I couldn't help disapproving of the entire Tournament - it really was too dangerous. "And, of course, you'll need to end things with Cho."

"But if - "

"No," I said with complete certainty, "it's best if you wait."

"Right," Cedric said, dazed and slightly disappointed. "Is that all…?"

"Yes," I agreed, and turned and walked away. I had some vague plans to slowly acclimate Harry to his obvious preference for males, though I wasn't going to begin until he had a few less problems to deal with.

I kept an eagle eye on Cedric after that, and was startled to realize that he seemed to take my words to heart. I was used to my peers ignoring me, despite the fact that I'm almost always right. I'm not being conceited - it's a statistical fact.

But he listened to me, keeping his distance from Harry. But the Hufflepuff still watched my best friend all the time. His crush became an infatuation, and at times I almost thought I saw true love in his eyes. Silly, I know - he was only a teenager, after all, and he'd barely ever held a real conversation with Harry…but then again, Harry's easy to love.

There are few times I've regretted the advice I give. That time in the library was one of them.

Because Cedric died, and he never even got to tell Harry how he felt. So let me tell you a story about a kind, brave boy who waited until it was too late - because of me.

And sometimes I think if I'd given him different advice, if I'd told him not to wait, then maybe Cedric would still be here to tell you this story himself.