Thanks to Kurla for beta-ing this little bit of work!
"Oh, ew. This is unfair. Cruel and unusual."
Cedric glanced at Harry, and the shorter boy looked up at him. Simultaneously they looked away and stared out at the grounds. Rain. Everywhere, coming down in sheets, a steady torrent of water. Harry stuck his hand out from the sanctuary of the little hut they were huddled under, and pulled it back soaked through. Frowning, he wriggled out of the sopping Quidditch guard he wore on his hand and tossed it on the ground.
"Doesn't look like it's going to let up anytime soon, either." Cedric craned his neck, trying to see out from their shelter without getting too wet. He almost succeeded. When he pulled his head back, droplets of water glistened in his hair. Harry grinned at him, and Cedric shook his hair out over Harry.
They had both been practicing Quidditch when the sky turned dark and clouds started to gather. Within seconds, it had started pouring, and the two had barely managed to get under a small overhang in time to avoid the deluge. So far they were dry, but the rain brought chilled air along, and they were both cold.
"I can't even see the castle anymore," Cedric noted, trying to peer through the rain. He slumped against the wall with a sigh.
"Cedric…" Harry looked up at the taller boy. "What were you doing out here? We're not even playing Quidditch this year."
The Hufflepuff shrugged. "Just because we're not playing doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. I suppose it's near the same reason you were out there. To stay in shape… clear my mind…"
"Oh." Harry thumped back against the wall as well, digging his heels into the dirt floor.
"Are you nervous?" Cedric peered at him. "The third task is tomorrow, after all."
"You'll do fine," Cedric said confidently. "After all, you're Harry Potter."
"Stop," Harry growled. "I'm not any different than you."
"I know," Cedric responded with a warm smile. "I was just teasing you." Silence settled over them. Cedric cleared his throat loudly. "Look, I'm sorry."
"It's not you fault," Harry mumbled.
"You shouldn't be ashamed of it, though." Cedric closed his eyes. "Your name brings hope and strength with it. That's something to be proud of." Harry could only stare, and watch a droplet of water slip down Cedric's neck.
His eyes flashed open as a snap of lightning jerked from the sky. A resounding crash of thunder immediately followed it, and Cedric leapt nearly a foot in the air.
"Cedric?" Harry narrowed his eyes at the Hufflepuff. He had paled, and seemed to be holding his breath. "Are you all right?"
Cedric closed his eyes and moaned. "I can't stand thunderstorms." Harry remembered Cedric had been hit by lightning during the match last year.
"The chances of that happening again are very low," Harry pointed out.
Cedric peeked an eye open. "You're still here."
Harry glanced around, looking for who Cedric was talking to. Seeing no one, he shot a curious look at the other. "Me? Of course I'm still here. If you haven't noticed, it's sort of a river out there."
"You're not going to make fun of me?" Cedric sounded genuinely distressed. "Bloody hell, Harry, I'm seventeen and I'm scared of noise and light!"
At the idea, Harry burst out laughing. Cedric went red in the face, but Harry covered his mouth with his hand and snickered behind it. "Okay, okay," Harry gasped, finally getting control of himself. "I'm not laughing at you. You honestly think I would leave you alone? In the middle of a thunderstorm when you just admitted you are scared of storms?" Cedric fidgeted against the wall of their small sanctuary. "Cedric, I'll stay with you. Don't worry. Fear is always easier when faced with someone else."
Cedric glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. "What would you know, you're not scared of anything."
It took Harry a few moments to gather his jaw off the ground, and when he did he felt like punching something. Or someone. Someone with a Hufflepuff badger on his shirt and who just happened to be the second Hogwarts Champion. "I fear things," Harry whispered. They fell quiet once again, this time it gnawed at them both, scraped their ears and begged to be shattered.
Luckily, nature heeded its call and sent down a jagged point of light followed by a sharp crack of thunder. Cedric barely suppressed the whimper forcing its way up his throat, and Harry quickly forgot about being hurt by Cedric's naiveté. The rain drummed relentlessly on the roof of their shelter as he nudged closer to the older boy, standing shoulder to shoulder now – or as close as Harry could get, being shorter than Cedric.
The feel of cloth on cloth, with the whisper of warm skin underneath sent Harry's heart racing. Suddenly, the air was thick and heady. He had trouble breathing. He had to move.
He jerked away from the wall and moved to stand in front of Cedric. The taller boy blinked at him curiously. Rain pounded on Harry's shoulders, and his back was already soaked.
"Come on," he said, holding out a hand. Cedric looked at the hand, then back up at his face.
"Sorry?" he asked.
"Come on, we're going for a run," Harry repeated.
"Harry, it's thundering out there," Cedric burst out.
"It's moving away, the flashes are further apart." Harry waved his hand expectantly. Cedric did not move. "Come on, Cedric, we're going to miss dinner!" As if on cue, Cedric's stomach growled, and Harry's moved in answer.
"We can just stay a few more minutes." Cedric jerked as another flash of light fell from the sky.
Harry reached forward and closed his arm around Cedric's forearm. He pulled gently. "I promise, nothing will happen to you." He smiled. Cedric's arm hung limp in his hand.
Then, Cedric moved. He slid his arm through Harry's hand until his clammy palm connected with Harry's. The thrill of feeling skin on skin shot up Harry's arm as Cedric's fingers closed around his. Harry grinned, a wide toothy smile to which Cedric answered with a placating twist of his lips. Slowly, Harry started pulling Cedric out from under the small overhang. Step by little step, Harry soon felt rain drip down his collar, onto his head, sliding down his face, clinging to his glasses.
Cedric's sleeve had pulled back just a bit to reveal pale skin. The rain falling onto it sent a shiver through him, and Harry felt it acutely through their linked hands. He tightened his grip, and pulled firmly. Cedric smiled shakily at him, and stepped into the rain. It really was pouring, like someone had sucked up the lake and was trying to disperse it over the grounds. Cedric's hair instantly flattened against his head, until he shook it violently back and forth, spraying Harry with droplets. Harry laughed, but the sound choked off in his throat when he looked back at Cedric. A light red flush crossed his cheeks, and his hair curled into stringy ringlets that clung to his face and neck. His eyes were set vibrantly against his face, clear and blue despite the drab grayness of their surroundings.
"Should we just leave our brooms?" Cedric asked over the incessant pattering of rain against leaves and grass.
"The house elves will get them," Harry answered. "Come on, before we get soaked."
"Too late," Cedric laughed, but he stumbled after Harry as the younger boy pulled him towards the castle.
They were halfway there when another clap of thunder sounded right over their heads. Cedric missed a few steps and went sprawling into the mud, dragging Harry with him. Harry went down laughing, and sat up, wiping mud from his neck and flinging it at Cedric. Cedric rolled quickly out of the way and gathered himself on his haunches. He flung himself at Harry, catching him about the waist and forcing him onto his back.
"It's not nice to throw mud," Cedric breathed, his forearm pressing against Harry's collarbone. Harry grimaced and wiggled under him, suddenly desperately hot in his soaked clothing. He felt intensely aware of everything he touched. The mud crept into his shirt, lighting his skin with goose bumps. Cedric's arm pressed hard against his chest, sending warmth to his heart and gut.
Cedric leaned over him, and the rain wasn't getting in his face, but Cedric's hair dripped irritatingly onto his cheeks. He was smiling and his eyes were so blue, his thumb on Harry's cheek was so warm and his lips so soft as they closed over his. Harry's brain shut down as a flash of heat pooled in his gut, roiling and uncomfortable yet at the same time delicious and exciting. Cedric tasted of rain and grass, and as Harry's eyes slid shut, Cedric slipped a knee between his legs and lowered himself over Harry.
He drew back for a moment, and looked at Harry. Harry caught his breath, realizing he had forgotten to take in air. "What are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm kissing you, I think," Cedric replied. He cocked his head and a drop of water plopped directly onto Harry's nose. Harry wrinkled his nose and shivered. The ground was cold, but Cedric was very warm, pressed tight against him. "Is that all right?"
"I… I don't really know," Harry frowned suddenly. He hadn't really given it much thought. "I suppose so, I mean, I like you – you're a nice bloke and all that…"
Cedric grinned and shook his head. "Harry, I don't think you know what you want." And he leaned down and kissed him again, but it was better this time. He started with the corner of Harry's mouth, putting cool lips against heated skin and letting them move slowly. Opening only just enough to take Harry's lower lip between his own, Cedric worked his way across Harry's lips in a slow, sensual dance that was really quite chaste as well as maddeningly tantalizing.
Harry wasn't sure what he was supposed to do with his arms, so he gingerly touched his hands to Cedric's shoulders and let them rest there, feeling coarse fabric of the Quidditch robes made heavy with rain. Cedric seemed to take this as encouragement, and drew a hand through Harry's sopping, mud-soaked hair. Harry tried to kiss back, to make Cedric feel like he was doing the right thing, but he had a feeling that he was going about it the wrong way. Was there a right way to kiss someone?
Cedric smiled against their lips and gently pried Harry's lips apart with his tongue, bringing slick warmth to Harry's mouth. Inside. Harry had to try not to bite down as Cedric tried to engage his tongue. When Cedric finally withdrew, he was shivering. Harry couldn't tell if it was from cold or something else. Cedric patted Harry's head after freeing his fingers from their snare in Harry's hair.
"You're a good kid, Potter," Cedric said gently. His eyes felt different, though, and Harry couldn't place why exactly. Not as bright as before, perhaps. "Come on, dinner really will be over if we stay here." He stood and held a hand down to help Harry up. Harry slapped his palm into Cedric's and allowed the other to pull him to his feet.
"Hey," Harry gasped suddenly. "It stopped raining!" He squinted up at the sky, where blue started to force its way through grey.
"So it did," Cedric agreed, holding a hand over his eyes as sunlight burst from a break in the clouds. He clapped a hand around Harry's shoulders, and with Harry pressed against his side, they walked to the castle.