"Mind if I join you?"
Harry sat staring at the Great Lake with his back against the wall of rocks and boulders that managed to keep him from prying eyesHugging his knees tightly against his chest, he watched the calm waters, which stirred only occasionally, rippling across the reflection of the sunset. He recognized the voice.
"First task is tomorrow, Cedric. Probably not a good time to be seen fraternizing with the enemy."
"I don't think you're the enemy, Harry."
"Don't you?" Harry asked, with slight venom in his tone and daggers in his eyes. Cedric recoiled somewhat at the accusation before Harry's defiant expression faltered, contorting into a defeated look Cedric hoped wouldn't become commonplace
"No, Harry. I don't," Cedric affirmed as he stepped back, shifting on his heel as if to head back to the castle. "I can leave if you--"
Harry jerked back to face him, "No!"
Cedric smiled as he watched pink pepper Harry's cheeks.
"I mean... you don't have to leave on my account." Harry ducked his head, occasionally flicking his eyes to Cedric's.
"I saw you bustling down here in quite the huff," Cedric said, walking closer. He slid down the boulder, mirroring Harry's position. "Is everything okay?"
"... I don't 'huff'..." Harry said with a pout. Despite its certitude, the words were little more than a whisper.
"Oh, don't be that way, Harry," Cedric jibed with smile, bumping into Harry's shoulder with his own. Harry smiled, in spite of his foul mood. Soon, that slight smile gave way to a surlier glower.
"Ron's being a prat, is all."
"Isn't he like... your best mate?" Cedric asked, still looking at Harry attentively. Harry simply nodded before looking down at some spot between his legs.
The sun began to duck below the horizon – its rays dancing along the water's surface. It felt like a hug, Cedric thought, a warm mother's embrace on a spring evening. From a distance, birds of myriad sorts dipped in and out of his line-of-sight. It made it all so very picturesque. Cedric had the distinct feeling that he would remember this sunset for the rest of his days.
He almost didn't realize that he was speaking when he said, "Geez, I don't think I've ever seen you two apart in the three years you've been here, yeah?"
"He thinks I put my name in the Goblet."
Harry turned to look at Cedric, his expression severe and inculpatory, "As do the lot of you."
Cedric did not meet Harry's gaze. He closed his eyes when a breeze stirred around them and breathed deeply, smelling the scent of trees and hills the wind carried with it. Without opening his eyes, Cedric admitted, "I don't think you put your name in that Goblet."
Cedric could feel Harry still watching him. He tried not to move, twitch, or even breathe for fear that it would reaffirm Harry's suspicions. They sat frozen for what seemed an eternity before Harry went back watching the sunset.
"Thanks," he said. His tone was much softer.
"Cheers," Cedric replied.
The silence was deafening – at least, for Cedric. He felt that he should be saying something – doing something. Not simply sitting, backs to a rock, watching the inevitable happen as it has for an aeon.
But he said nothing.
Harry seemed to relax in the silence.
"You'll be leaving Hogwarts soon, yeah?"
Cedric took a deep breath before nodding.
"Are... are you scared?"
"Terrified, actually. It'll be difficult leaving," he admitted.
"Especially when you know you're not coming back," Harry finished, looking at Cedric.
"Yeah. Never quite realized that until just now."
"Sorry to bring it up," Harry said.
Cedric exhaled heavily as he spoke, "No worries. As they say – 'all good things must come to an end'."
"What do you plan to do after graduation?"
Pulling his knees to his chest and draping his arms atop them, he seemed to mull over the question.
"I don't really know," he confessed. "My dad would probably want me to work at the Ministry with him."
"As an Auror?" Harry asked, perking up slightly at the thought.
Cedric grimaced, "Oh, no fear. Mother would not have that. Far too dangerous, you see. No, I'd really like to teach. Maybe even here at Hogwarts."
"Really? I bet you'd be a brilliant professor!"
Realizing that he was far too enthusiastic, sounding more like a lovesick schoolboy than a Tri-Wizard Champion of Hogwarts, Harry quickly returned his attention to the Lake. He hoped he was not blushing or, at the very least, hoped that Cedric did not see.
"You think? Well, regardless, it's something my parents would be proud of."
"And... that's important to you, then? Your parents' approval, I mean?"
"Isn't it important to you, too?" Cedric asked, turning slightly to face Harry. Realizing the mistake, he grimaced when Harry turned his gaze back to the Lake, his lips tightening faintly.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Harry. I didn't mean--!"
"No, it's alright," he interrupted. Harry smiled at Cedric, though it was strained, weak in its enthusiasm and lacking commitment. Cedric wore a pained look on his face and shifted uncomfortably. Harry took solace in knowing that his apology was genuine.
Seconds passed into minutes. The silence between them was comfortable, yet slightly nerve wrecking. Harry felt like he should be saying something – anything. Nevertheless, they watched the beautiful sight before them and closed their eyes when a breeze whipped between them. Often, they would turn to each other and share a smile. If they were smiling for the same reasons, they did not know, nor did it matter.
"Well, I better be off," Cedric said with a start, standing abruptly.
"Good luck tomorrow, Harry," Cedric said sincerely as he held out his hand. Harry stared at it for a moment before smiling and taking it in his own. Cedric pulled Harry to his feet, using far more vigour than was necessary. Harry jerked up and stumbled into Cedric, resting his hands on his chest to gain leverage. He froze as Cedric's arms wrapped around his waist.
"Steady there, mate!" Cedric laughed, "Sorry. Don't know my own..."
Harry was transfixed, frozen in Cedric's arms. He could feel Cedric's heartbeat quicken under his fingertips, but he could not – he dared not – look him in the eyes.
Harry was trembling, this much Cedric could feel. Instinctively, yet gently, Cedric tightened his hold, bringing Harry even closer to him. Were they any closer, Harry would be inside him. Maybe that was what Cedric wanted? Harry's breathing sped up.
"You're awfully light," Cedric whispered, bathing Harry in his breath.
Cedric laughed, not unkindly.
"It's not your fault, Harry. Stop apologising."
"Sorry," Harry whispered again, more faint and shaky than before.
Cedric wondered what could have happened in Harry's life to make him so fragile. He had strength, this much Cedric knew.
Had he not been the one to defeat You-Know-Who as a baby? Then again in his first year?
Was he not the boy who, at the mere age of twelve, defeated a basilisk while withstanding the jeers and suspicious eyes of those who believed he was the Heir of Slytherin?
But now, with each call of his name, Cedric watched as Harry Potter dropped his head lower as if he were too embarrassed – or ashamed – to look up. Cedric gently forced Harry's head to tilt up until they were eye-to-eye. Cedric swallowed hard as he looked deep in the green eyes that stared back at him.
His voiced cracked when he said, little more than breath, "Your eyes are beautiful."
"Th-they say I... have m'mum's eyes."
"Then she must have been very beautiful," Cedric whispered, leaning closer.
The words caught in Harry's throat as he nervously dug his fingers into Cedric's shirt.
Cedric brushed tussles of hair from Harry's eyes, cupping his cheek and caressing an eyebrow with his thumb.
"Are you cold?"
"N-no... I'm... quite warm, actually," Harry giggled, blushing harder than ever before.
Cedric pulled him closer.
"Have you ever kissed anyone before?"
"... No ..."
"Would you mind terribly if I kissed you, now?"
"You... wh-why do you want to kiss me?"
"I feel like if I don't do it now, I'll never get another chance. But... if you don't want me to--?" Cedric said as he loosened his hold and began to pull away.
Harry felt a slight panic rise deep in his stomach. He clutched Cedric's shirt tighter, halting his retreat.
"Don't go," he beckoned. "It's just that..."
"Don't be afraid," Cedric assured him, leaning in closer.
"I'm not afraid!" Harry exclaimed, stiffly, feeling the sudden urge to defend himself. "I've just... That is to say, I've never... I mean, I don't think I'll be very good at it, yeah?"
Nevertheless, the quiver in his voice betrayed him. Harry was afraid. Afraid that this was all some horrible joke, or that Cedric would laugh at him or, worse yet, realize that he wasn't worth the bother. They were so close now that Harry could feel the warmth of Cedric's breath dance across his face. Even in this awkward moment, he felt more comfortable – more alive – than he had in years, possibly in all his life.
"Don't worry, Harry... it's easy ... like riding a broom."
Harry closed his eyes, tilted his head and waited.
And waited some more.
Certainly, this was not what kissing felt like?
He opened his eyes to see Cedric beaming at him.
"Wha- what's wrong?"
Cedric brayed with laughter. It was a raucous laugh, but one without spite or malice.
"What on earth were you doing?"
Harry looked at Cedric with a baffled expression on his face.
"You looked like a fish trying to breathe air," Cedric giggled, releasing his hold on Harry. "Sit."
Cedric sat on the ground, legs straight out and spread with enough room for Harry to fit comfortably between them. Once Harry sat, he crossed his legs, allowing Cedric to scoot closer and drape his over Harry's thighs.
He cupped Harry's face gently with both hands.
"Ok," he said, smiling. "Don't worry about opening your mouth until you feel my lips touch yours, ok?"
Cedric moved his hands to Harry's shoulders, gripping them firmly as they leaned into each other.
"Ok, now close your eyes."
With eyes closed, Harry waited, again. That was when he felt it: the soft, velvet touch of Cedric's lips against his, sending waves of fire down his spine. Then, he felt Cedric's lips part faintly as he kissed his upper lip, then lower. Harry felt his trousers tighten at the crotch and hoped that Cedric didn't notice.
"Open your mouth a little," Cedric said into the kiss, each breath warm and moist against his lips. He obeyed and marvelled at how their mouths fit together like pieces from a puzzle. Cedric tasted of cinnamon and milk, like morning cereal, and his texture was silky soft.
Harry felt hands begin to rub his ears and play with his hair. He reached out and placed his hands on Cedric's waist, unsure of what to do with them, yet not wanting the moment to end. Moreover, when he felt a tongue dart past his lips and into his mouth, caressing his teeth, Harry could not help but whimper. He was completely lost and soundly defeated. For once, however, he did not mind.
When Cedric pulled back, he took one last nibble on Harry's bottom lip.
"Thank you," Cedric whispered with a smile.
Harry looked surprised, "For what?"
"For letting me kiss you," he answered. "For letting me be the first to kiss you."
Almost too abruptly, Cedric hopped to his feet. "Well," he said, brushing gravel and dirt from the back of his trousers. He looked down at Harry with a rapt expression on his face, "I better be off."
Despite the darkening skies, Harry could see Cedric's eyes twinkling. "But... do you have to go, now?" Harry quickly looked away, embarrassed.
"Yes, I better."
The silence was unbearable. Harry felt like he would scream or cry or do something equally childish if something didn't happen soon.
"Will you meet me in the Astronomy Tower? After the first task?"
Harry jerked his eyes to meet Cedric's. "Yes," he said, nervously. "But... what if I forget how to...?"
Cedric could not help but smile at Harry's bashful innocence.
"No worries, Harry," Cedric affirmed, gently, "It's like riding a broom."
Cedric's smile widened. With a quick, singular, reaffirming nod, he turned and made his way back to Hogwarts, climbing over rocks until he was out of view.
A moment later, Harry was alone. He lifted his hand and brushed his lips. His eyes closed as he tried to remember the taste of the kiss. For a brief moment – the briefest of moments – there were no dragons or dark lords, no plot to ruin him or saboteurs trying to spoil his name.There were only piercing grey eyes, dark and stormy as an impending rainstorm, and the shadow of a kiss...
... their first kiss.