Disclaimer: Yeah I'm Ms. Rowling. I own this series. I'm just
writing this fanfiction because my editors wouldn't let me have a
Cedric/Hermione pairing even though it was my heart's desire... OK now
that I have exited the fantasy dream land and taken my anti-delusional
pills I own nothing. Curse you pills!
She knew it was wrong to look at him like that. To watch him like that. To bristle whenever other girls looked at him. He wasn't hers. She had no claim on him whatsoever, romantic, friendly, or otherwise. She had no association with him at all, and they had never even spoken to one another. Not even a friendly hello in the halls… she was surprised at how lonely she felt just thinking about their lack of contact. Before such thoughts could swamp her though she chastised herself; she had no right to even wish for contact! He wasn't hers!
Hermione Granger lowered her gaze to her book, and then slowly raised it up again. He was back, sitting only five tables away, luckily with his back to her. The young Gryffindor would never be caught ogling some boy, she decided. Plus, he was Cho Chang's. Not hers. She was on a fairly friendly basis with Cho; they worked together on some projects in Arithmancy and Hermione had helped Cho with her Muggle Studies homework on occasion. It was really just a passing acquaintance for the most part, but Hermione still didn't want to earn the girl's ire.
But still, no matter what protests she gave, she couldn't help but notice that Cedric Diggory was one of the best looking young men at Hogwarts. And oh how she noticed.
Five tables away the young man sighed loudly and ran his hand through his hair as he studied the book in front of him, completely oblivious to the pair of eyes that scrutinized him so carefully. He seemed to be rather interested in what he was reading, Hermione observed, if maybe a bit frustrated.
This observation carried on for awhile longer, Hermione memorizing as many details about him as she could. So many things drew her attention; his straight shoulders, muscled back obvious through the sweater, the way he held his quill while thinking, the way he ran his hand through his hair in frustration, the way he would shift in his chair every so often. She told herself it was just studying of another kind but in the back corner of her mind she knew she had crossed the line from studying to obsessing long ago.
Suddenly Cedric sat straight up and turned, looking about. Before Hermione could duck her head or lower her eyes he spotted her and said, "You, come over here."
She froze, eyes shifting from side to side looking to see whom he had called. It appeared he was looking at her but… she turned to look behind her. "Do you mean me?" she finally asked.
He seemed slightly annoyed by her answer. "Of course. Who else would be in a library on a Saturday evening?"
She bit back her response of "You," and closed her book, marking the page and then walking over to his table. "What is it?"
He stared at her for a long while, gray eyes boring into hers as if he could somehow extract an answer without ever asking a question. After several moments of this close scrutiny she almost left, but somehow she felt compelled to stay. What spell had he woven on her to make her stand rooted to the spot while he stared so?
"What is love?" He finally asked, eyes still holding her own. Hermione nearly laughed. What a ridiculous question! She was about to say so only to realize that he was serious and truly wanted an answer, so she began to think, trying to remember all the definitions of love she'd ever read.
Finally a definition came to her. "An emotion, I guess. Affection, attachment, devotion." But to her the answer just didn't quite sound right… it rang untruthfully. She was missing something. But what? She racked her brain for a better answer but couldn't come up with one. "Why?"
Cedric looked away then, slumping slightly in his seat, and Hermione felt almost relieved. And yet she missed having his warm eyes locked with hers… Hermione mentally slapped herself. "Not mine!" she warned herself, trying to quite the excited jumping of her heart at being so close to him.
"I guess I was just trying to figure out how I could tell if what I'm feeling is like or love, you know? It's so confusing," he once again ran his hand through his hair, and a few strands fell into his eyes. Hermione had to forcibly still her hand from rising up to brush the locks of hair away.
"I know how you feel," she said, biting her lip. "You think it's love but then you suddenly wonder if maybe it's not and to treat it like it is would be a mistake. And then you start second-guessing yourself, trying to think through every emotion you've ever had concerning that special person, and eventually it becomes such a jumbled mess that you can't figure out anything." Her mind added silently, "And then you talk about love with the person you care about because you're so sad and pathetic and you know that that's the only way you'll ever be able to get close to them." She winced at the harsh words, because she knew them to be true.
Cedric sat bolt upright again and stared up at her, eyes wide. "You do know!" he said, voice colored with his surprise. "What did you do?"
Hermione laughed quietly and quickly sat down in the seat across the table, knowing their conversation was attracting the attention of the hawk-like gaze of Madam Pince. "I'm still in the second-guessing stage, myself," she confessed, smiling slightly at the irony. "So I'm not so sure myself."
Still, Cedric remained perked up. "Maybe you could help me! You know, give me advice or just tell me your perspective on stuff! Please!" The Hufflepuff sixth year lowered his voice further, the just above a whisper. "You're the only one I can talk to so far!"
Hermione was both amazed and flattered by his words. "Please, there must be at least twenty people at this school who you could talk to."
His eyes narrowed. "My friends just tell me that be it like or love, it doesn't really matter and I really don't feel like discussing my love life with a teacher."
She smothered a giggle; the image of Cedric discussing his problems with Professor Snape was too funny. He mock glared at her as she covered her grin with her hand and tried to stop laughing.
"All right," she finally agreed once her giggles had subsided. "What do you want to talk about?"
The young man looked at her levelly and folded his hands on the tabletop as he leaned forward. "What love is."
Hermione was finding it hard to breath as he once again stared at her with those penetrating eyes, but this time he was so close. If she just leaned forward, probably less than a foot, she would be kissing him. The thought made her blush and she mentally slapped herself again. He wasn't hers to be kissing or even to be having these thoughts about!
She stalled for time as his gaze turned more questioning at her red face. "Umm…" she paused. "I already told you."
He frowned and shook his head. "I mean what love is to you. Tell me, Hermione Granger, what love is to you."
Her heart jumped at the stressing of her name, but even after it calmed she found she still couldn't answer. He was waiting for her response, but she just couldn't say it. She opened her mouth a few times, but nothing emerged. Finally Cedric seemed to read her mind.
"Let's try another question then," he said lightly, and Hermione nodded, not trusting her voice just yet.
"What do you think is the difference between love and like?" He asked, and Hermione grinned slightly.
"You sure don't ask any easy questions do you?" she joked, and was encouraged by the fact that her voice had returned and that he had smirked at her joke. It was not a cruel smirk liek Malfoy's, rather, it made him look quite handsome. She quickly shied away from those thoughts and returned to finding an answer, and surprisingly one appeared to her immediately.
"Like is selfish. You want more for yourself than the other person. Love isn't. Love is… selfless." She smiled at the way she seemed to be finding all the right words to express her answer. "You focus more on the other person and not just on yourself. Also, love is deeper, more complicated than just simple infatuation." Her brain suddenly presented her with a quote, which she used immediately. "'Love is not finding the perfect person, it is finding an imperfect person that you see perfectly.' I don't know who originally said that or if I even used the correct words, but the sentiment is what's important."
He was looking at her, expression unreadable. She searched his face, trying to understand what he was feeling but she wasn't quite sure of the expression in his eyes just then. It was respect, admiration, warmth… and something else. But it was gone before she could read any more into it and was replaced with the first true smile that he'd ever shown her. "I always knew you were smart, Granger, but that was amazing." His voice was warm and sincere, and she knew she would treasure the compliment forever.
Before she could speak again he stood up. "Thank you. I think I've just about figured it out now. And I really hope you don't mind but after all that…" he trailed off helplessly, but Hermione understood what he wanted to say.
"You need some time to think."
"Yes!" He grinned and shook his head. "You understand me just a little too well, Granger. Thanks for the wisdom."
Hermione smiled and nodded and headed back over to her table as he walked out the door. She continued to watch him until he was out of sight, and even then continued staring in that direction, her heart and mind in a turmoil.
He wasn't hers. She shouldn't feel this way about him. It was wrong.
But sitting opposite him, looking deep into his eyes, it had felt so right.