Disclaimer: Harry Potter and associates belong to JK Rowling
Author's notes: Originaly I had no plans to continue this past the first chapter, but now an idea's hit and I'm going to keep going. Updates might take a while, but they'll come.
Harry stumbles back into Hogwarts' grounds two days after the Third Task looking like he's walked through hell and back and doesn't say a word.
Not to Dumbledore; who wants to know what happened, where Voldemort is and what he's planning.
Not to Hermione; who's worried and fussing because Harry's covered in blood and is blank and not there.
Not to Ron; who wants reassurance that Harry's okay. That he'll get back up again and keep fighting because he's Harry and that's what he does.
Not to Malfoy; who sneers an insult and leaves with a gang of Slytherins around him.
Not to Cho; who dashes past the teachers who are trying to keep students out and kisses him.
Not to Fred and George and Oliver Wood; who're doing some sort of victory celebration dance that involved vigorous shaking and slapping of backs.
And not to Cedric; who's probably crying with relief even if he doesn't notice.
He's not the only one, either. As they all sit and wait in the Great Hall Cedric can hear some muffled weeping, though it trails off after a while, and if he looks he thinks he'll be able to see tears. He doesn't because he knows that some tears need to be private.
Nobody leaves when Dumbledore announces that Harry has been taken to the hospital wing and they should all go to bed and Cedric gets the feeling that Dumbledore hadn't expected anyone too.
The Beaubaxton girls don't even giggle for the entire night as the candles burn (but do not get lower) in the Great Hall. The sky darkens, then lightens and nobody leaves.
Harry stumbles into the Great Hall at eight the next morning and everyone erupts into cheers because even though Cedric won The Tournament (and to everyone that was there it will always be just The Tournament) it's Harry who is the true Champion. The Hero that everyone will remember when they're old and grey and telling tales of their glory days to bored (or perhaps interested) grandchildren.
And Cedric cheers loudest of them all.
"Harry," Cedric starts and then stops because he just doesn't know what to say. 'Thanks', maybe, and 'I'm sorry' and a whole lot of other things that don't fit into words.
"Hi, Cedric," Harry says back from his hospital bed. His hair is stark against the white sheets and he looks tired, but also stronger. Like he's been knocked down once and he won't let it happen again.
"I … uh… wanted to say congratulations, for winning the Tournament." Cedric winces and wonders if he could have picked a better thing to say because that's probably the worst thing he could have said.
Harry laughs, though, and shakes his head. "It's me who should be congratulating you. You're the one who really won it."
Cedric shakes his head as well. "Listen, Harry," he says earnestly but Harry cuts him off.
"It's in the rules," he says firmly. "Any person whose name is drawn from the Goblet is obligated to compete under a magically binding contract. Any person who placed his or her own name within the Goblet is eligible to win. I didn't enter myself so I can't have won. Look at the inscription on the Goblet if you don't believe me."
Cedric pauses in astonishment and realises he's beaten but still wonders when (and why, frankly) Harry had time to look up the Tournament rules.
"Okay," he sighs because there's really nothing else he can say. "But you still get the prize money." Cedric's very firm in this. He was raised to be fair and if they couldn't share, then Harry would get one he would get the other.
"I don't want it." Harry sounds just as firm and more than a little exasperated. Cedric wonders if people have already been asking him what he wants to buy.
"Neither do I. Frankly, Harry," he says, and slumps against one of the hospital beds, hands in his pockets, "I don't even want to see it." It's a reminder, he thinks and then feels bad because if it reminds him of what happened then what would it do to Harry?
"Look," he says and runs a hand through his hair, unaware that Harry's brilliant green eyes track his every move, "maybe we can compromise? Donate it to something."
Harry smiles, beams really, and Cedric wonders if he's suddenly gone blind, because everything else seems so dim beside Harry white teeth and shinning happy eyes.
"I'd like that," Harry says. "It should be something… with laughter."
Cedric agrees because it's a good idea and it's what Harry wants.
If the Weasley twins are surprised when Cedric approaches them, it's nothing compared to what they feel when he dumps a bag full of gallons into their hands.
"It's from the both of us," he says and they don't need a translator to understand that 'both of us' means Harry. "Because we're going to need some laughter, soon."
They really want to refuse. It's a lot of money. Too much, and they don't like charity.
But it wouldn't be proper, not now.
And they don't notice that they're thinking of funerals, even though nobody died.