Author's Notes: Well, this is a lot like Empathy but was written first; personally, I think Empathy is better – but whatever. This is my last Cedric/Harry fluffy goodness (so far). I don't really understand why I'm so obsessed with this whole one-sided CH.
I can't see Harry as gay, though. I don't have a problem with it, there are some really sweet Harry/other males out there, but . . . eh.
Anyhoo, beta'd by Opalish as usual. She's a doll, really.
That's The One
"He's gorgeous, isn't he? Harry, I mean."
Cedric turns to me in surprise, tearing his gaze from the courtyard. His cheeks bloom red and he glances around desperately, as though searching for some way to escape. "I - I don't know what you're talking about," he stutters, not meeting my eyes.
I smile, rolling my eyes. "Of course you don't," I agree sarcastically. "The glazed look in your eyes, the blush on your cheeks, and the way you can barely speak when you're thinking about him certainly indicate that you have no idea what I'm talking about." His blush deepens and he turns back to the window, not answering. We stand in silence for a while, and I let him think it all through.
I've known for weeks that Cedric is in love with Harry. Or at least fancies him. It's not hard to tell - at least, not for me. I myself have been acting the same way for years; the quick smiles, reddened cheeks, stammered sentences.
Part of me thinks that Cedric took Cho to the Yule Ball just so that Harry couldn't. It was easier for me to know he was there with someone he didn't really like; Cedric probably felt the same way.
"You can't tell anyone," he says suddenly but without turning. "I'd - I'd be the laughingstock of the whole school."
I smile at him, shrugging. "I wasn't planning on it," I promise. And it's true - I know just how he feels. "But - it's not anything to be ashamed of, Cedric. Harry's - "
"Three years younger than me and a bloke," he spits, his eyes locked on the boy in question. Harry is sitting with Ron and Hermione, laughing, only a few meters from us. His eyes are as green as ever, sparkling and dancing in the Sunday sun. "Look, Ginny - " I start a little - I wasn't aware he even knew who I was. "This isn't . . . I mean, I'm not . . . Harry's . . ."
"This isn't love, you're not queer, Harry's just an infatuation? Something you can't get enough of because you don't understand it?" He turns to look at me, his face wondering. He nods. "It's like he's a textbook in a foreign language - you just keep reading because you want to know what it says so desperately, even thought you know you can't and probably won't ever be able to, right?"
He sighs, nodding, running a hand through his hair. He looks so . . . lost - and I'm not surprised. Poor bloke's in love with another bloke, even though he's got the most gorgeous girl in school for his girlfriend. And the bloke in question is three years younger and most definitely straight.
Er . . . I hope. No offense to Cedric, but I've got to look after myself, too.
"I just don't get him," he mutters finally, stumbling over the words as if embarrassed. "He's - he's like . . . he's so beauti - " he breaks off, blushing again. I roll my eyes.
"Come on, Cedric. Just say it. I'm not going to tell anyone, and chances are I agree with you." He laughs, seeming to gain a little confidence. Harry notices us then; he cocks his head in confusion and then shrugs, turning back to Ron. "He's so beautiful," I prompt. Cedric shakes his head, as though clearing it, and nods.
"He is," he insists, "And it's like he doesn't know it. He's - he's so shy, and awkward, and - tragic, at the same time. You know? In everything he does, I see it. When my Dad and I met up with them to go to the World Cup, I was struck by how good-looking his was, but - when Dad started bragging about me, he - he looked sad, instead of annoyed, or amused, or anything, and I couldn't help but think that his parents couldn't do that for him anymore." He sighs, slumping. "It was so strange but - at that moment it made all that he's gone through so much more . . . real. And I wanted . . ." he drops off, watching as Harry gets smacked by a grinning Hermione. "I wanted to . . . protect him. Love him. Be that person who was there for him."
I grin, sitting on the railing and, consequently, turning my back on Harry. "Yeah, that and you wanted to stick your tongue down his throat."
His eyes widen and his face turns a pretty shade of pink. "Ginny!" He cries. "I don't want to . . . I mean, he's fourteen! And I'm - "
"Flaming as my hair," I chime in, then laugh. "Cedric, it's all right to like someone younger then you. It doesn't make you some sort of sick git. I mean, if you start going on about Snape's deep set amber eyes I might get a bit freaked out, but - "
"Eyugh!" Cedric pulls a face, and then sighs. "Ginny," he says abruptly, tentatively, desperately, "I don't want to feel . . . this way . . . about him. It doesn't feel right."
Oh, Merlin, just admit that you're gay, Cedric, it's not a bloody crime!
Although, as much as I'd like to say this, I refrain, arching an eyebrow at him and waiting for him to give in. "Oh - all right, it feels perfectly natural and beautiful and perfect but I . . . he's fourteen," he says weakly, as though clinging to this to make it wrong, to change his heart's mind, to get over him.
It's going to take more than that, buddy.
"This is pathetic," he mutters, half to himself and half to me. "Some fourteen year old kid has me all tied up in knots just because he smiled at me today - and before the first task when he took my arm it felt like it was on fire." He pauses, sighing heavily, and shudders. "Ginny - I'm literally afraid of him."
He smiles shakily at me, and I fill almost bad for him. Poor kid. I've had a few years to get used to it, but it's all been dumped on him in a couple of months. And with Harry . . . well, you need a few years to sort him out. "I'm afraid for him. These tasks . . . God, I would lose it all just to make sure he was safe. I would cut off my left hand to be sure that nothing ever hurts him. When your brother wasn't speaking to him I had to literally restrain myself from giving him a black eye."
"Join the club," I say dryly. "Ron's a prat."
"I don't want to be gay," he whines suddenly. "But I - I mean - I take the long way around to classes just so I can catch a glimpse of him in the hallways and he doesn't even notice me."
I'm beginning to think that Cedric and I are soul siblings.
He casts one last glare at the window and then turns away almost angrily, his face tired and ashen and . . . young. "This is a nightmare," he groans, burying his face in his hands. "I'm Cedric bloody Diggory. I'm dating the most beautiful girl in school, and all I can think about is - "
"The most beautiful Boy-Who-Ever-Lived?"
He laughs tiredly, rubbing his hands over his face. "That's the one." We stand in silence and I try to find something wise to say, something to make him feel better.
I've got nothing. If there was anything I'd have found it by now - I've only been searching for three years.
I hear about Cedric's death along with everyone else. And yet while the other girls in my year burst into tears and don't want to talk about it, I can't help but feel . . . happy, for the sixth year Hufflepuff. He died doing what he would have wanted to be doing: being with Harry.
He denied it the whole time I was friends with him, but I know the truth. Fourteen-year-old Harry Potter - shy, awkward, noble, and beautiful - had seventeen-year-old Cedric Diggory wrapped around his callused finger.