A/N: The last chapter of this story. Please read and review. Thank you to all for reading and for those who took the time to let me know what they thought of this little story of mine. I tried to make the explanation of everything that happens in this chapter as clear as possibly but I don't know if I succeeded. I hope I haven't confused too many people. And I also hope this story has been enjoyed by most. "Thank you" doesn't seem like sufficient enough words for how grateful I am to all of you.
Chapter Eleven - My Entire Life is Found In You
Cedric awoke first.
He felt as if he had been beaten to a bloody pulp and he could barely move his body. His head was pounding steadily and loudly and it felt as if it hurt to even breathe. He was lying on a bed though he knew that the mattress wasn't the one he had in his bedroom. It was too hard and felt foreign underneath him. He heard a steady buzzing in his ear and it took him a moment to realize that someone was talking to him but he couldn't decipher the words just yet.
Where was he? Why did it feel as if he had been sleeping for months? And why was his body in so much pain? What the hell happened to him?
"Cedric?" The voice spoke again, gently, slowly, and a hand came to his shoulder.
It felt as if it took every ounce of available strength in his body to open his eyes even though they felt as if the lids had been glued shut. He groaned in pain when the first thing he saw when he finally did blink his eyes open was the bright sunlight pouring through the large window directly across from his bed. He weakly pushed himself backwards against the pillow, as if trying to hide himself, and he heard someone's hurried footsteps. A moment later, the curtains were drawn and the sunlight was gone. Cedric took a deep shaky breath and stopped squinting his eyes to see where he was. He immediately frowned when he recognized the hospital wing at Hogwarts.
He then noticed who surrounded his bed. Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Sprout all were there, staring at him closing, identical frowns marring their faces. Turning his head to the right, he saw Harry Potter and Ron Weasley there as well but they were more preoccupied with watching the person in the bed next to Cedric's. It took him a moment of staring at her face to realize that it was the other third member of the famous Potter trio: Hermione Granger. She looked to be as pale as the white bed sheets she laid on and Cedric frowned before looking at the professors.
"What happened?" He croaked out, his throat hurting and his voice not at all sounding like his own.
"What was the last clear thing you remember, Cedric?" Dumbledore asked, his voice so calm, it almost made Cedric nervous from the simple question.
Cedric took a moment to answer as he tried to think of the last thing that had happened to him before he woke up there in the hospital at school. "The Quidditch World Cup. I was leaving home with my dad to meet… the Weasley family," he said, his eyes glancing over at Ron, who was now staring at him.
"That is the last clear thing you remember?" Dumbledore pressed, emphasizing the words carefully.
Cedric stared at the headmaster for a moment before nodding his head slowly. Was that the wrong answer? What was he supposed to remember. "What happened? Why am I here?"
"You and Hermione were found passed out outside in the rain," Harry answered before any of the professors could even open their mouths.
Cedric's frown grew heavier and his head pounded harder. He shook it slightly as if trying to shake some sense into it. "I don't… Why were me and Hermione outside?"
He didn't even know her. What on earth would he possibly be doing outside with her in the rain of all places? He had never even spoken to her before. What was going on? Why was everyone staring at him as if they were waiting for an explanation from him. He didn't know what the bleeding hell was going on. He needed one of them to give him the answers.
"What happened to me?" He finally asked.
Dumbledore stepped forward. "May I see your arm, Cedric?" He asked and then without waiting for actual permission, the professor took his left arm and pushed the sleeve of the hospital gown up to his elbow, exposing the scar he had always had though he could never remember where it came from – about three inches starting at his left wrist. His mother had always called it his heart scar since it looked like half of one.
Looking at the scar now however, it looked as if it had been severely burned. The skin was almost black and charred and Cedric's stomach rolled at the sight of it. What had happened to it? What had happened to him?
"Harry, please show me Hermione's right arm," Dumbledore instructed and Harry did as he was told without pause. As the older man suspected, the identical scare on Hermione's wrist was just as black and charred as Cedric's was. He sighed heavily, almost in relief, before looking at McGonagall and Sprout. "I believe it is finished."
Sprout closed her eyes, a look of relief on her face, and McGonagall sighed softly as well, her shoulders drooping as if a weight had just been lifted off of them.
"What is?" Cedric demanded, his eyes managing to tear away from Hermione's arm to look at the three professors but they ignored him for the time being as they continued talking amongst themselves.
"I don't think anyone has ever successfully broken a passion spell before," Dumbledore said. "But what is the complete opposite of love?"
"Hate," Pomona whispered and Dumbledore nodded his head.
"If one of them had said it to the other and in that moment, truly believed that they did hate them… then perhaps," Minerva trailed off, looking at Cedric and then Hermione, still asleep in her hospital bed. "Is it truly broken though? After all of this time, after all of their lives…"
"It seems to be. We will wait until Ms. Granger wakes up to be certain," Dumbledore advised and the two women nodded their heads in agreement.
"So, all of this time, all either of them had to say was 'I hate you' and that would be the end of it all? That's it?" Ron asked with a frown.
Cedric's head was spinning. What were they talking about? All of this time? Passion spells? He felt like he was going to be sick. Everything in his body ached and the conversation taking place around him was not helping matters for him in the least. He looked over at Hermione, still asleep, and wondered if she knew about anything that seemed to be going on. He wondered if she knew if they had been together outside in the first place? He had never spoken to her in his life before so being with her under any circumstance seemed slightly ludicrous to him.
It looked as if Dumbledore wanted to smile but he was too tired and still too concerned with the current events to do so. "When one is one half of a passion spell, 'I hate you' is the hardest thing to say since the amount of love you feel for the other person is so overpowering. It took a great deal of strength to even think it, let alone say it and have oneself believe in the words."
Cedric couldn't take it anymore. It was as if they were all speaking some type of foreign language he couldn't even begin to understand. "Someone has to tell me what is going on. Right now," he added with as much force as his exhausted body could muster.
Everyone looked at him as if they had forgotten that he was there and awake. Dumbledore tried once again to smile but he couldn't bring himself to form one. He looked over at Hermione before back at Cedric, the already old man looking so many more years aged than ever.
He looked at Cedric steadily, calmly. "When Hermione wakes, we will tell you both everything that has happened over the past few months."
Two days had passed and Hermione wondered if the feverish whispers that seemed to follow her wherever she went would ever stop. She tried to ignore it all but it was almost impossible. People stared at her, pointed and then would cover their mouths with their hands as they leaned over and whispered something to their companions. Some would actually come up to her and ask her questions she didn't know the answers to. Each one started the same: Did you and Cedric… but they varied after that.
Did you and Cedric elope together but then your parents found out and forced you back to school?
Did you and Cedric really have sex three times a day? Is he as big as Cho says he is?
Did you and Cedric really read each other's thoughts?
Did you and Cedric really try to kill one another?
And so on and so on. It took every fiber of her self-control to not just yell for everyone to shove off. She just wanted to be left alone and these questions were preposterous and only made her feel worse. She didn't know any of the answers and she didn't know what questions could possibly be true and which ones were just spouted from the large rumor mill that seemed to have swallowed everyone in Hogwarts whole.
Ron and Harry had become her bodyguards. No one could get close to her and they remained on either side of her for most of the day. Of course, they couldn't watch her twenty-four hours a day and that was when people felt brave enough to approach her and ask her those never-ending questions.
Her mind couldn't stop thinking about everything that Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall and Sprout had told both her and Cedric as they laid in their beds in the hospital wing. Of being Bound to one another, of their lives, or their shared thoughts and hearts and souls. Of it being broken and now, being nothing more than strangers to one another. Cedric hadn't seemed to believe a single word of any of it and refused to look at her, muttering over and over to himself how crazy this all was.
The instant Madame Pomfrey released both of them from the hospital, Hermione nearly ran to the library with Ron and Harry on her heels, neither willing to let her out of their sights. She stayed there for nearly five hours until she found what she was looking for:
The History of Love and Their Spells but more specifically, her intent interest lied in chapter fourteen. To Be Bound To Another Individual. She read the passages over and over again, wondering if there was a minute possibility of Professor Dumbledore's words being the truth. She didn't know if she could allow herself to believe such a thing. It was such unheard magic before and more powerful than anything in the wizardry world. She couldn't bring herself to accept it though no matter what the professors had told her or what she had read.
According the chapter fourteen, a binding spell started with nearly the beginning of time. Two individual souls would find one another and merge as one in a spell that would last through all eternity. After each life ended, another would begin and they would find one another again only to start it all over again. It was an endless cycle – one that would only seem to end when time did. There were so many things unknown about that spell that no one could ever be quite certain about. No one knew, for instance, where the spell came from or how it chose which people to effect. Two souls bound together forever and no one knew the first thing about it.
Hermione didn't remember anything that had happened over the past few months. The last clear thought she had was waking up at the Burrow over the summer to attend the Quidditch World Cup. After that, there was just a black emptiness where her memories should have been. Harry and Ron didn't want to tell her about anything that had happened, convinced that they were protecting her by doing so, but she heard more than enough from their fellow classmates.
Cedric had saved her from the lake in the second task. She was what he valued most. They met all over the castle, stealing whispers and quick kisses with one another before having to go off to their respected classes. They snogged one another in plain sight of everyone in the Great Hall on weekends and then would sneak out at night to be together. Hermione dreamt and woke up, screams echoing throughout the castle as she spoke of Voldemort.
She heard it all but she didn't remember any of it. She didn't remember anything that had to do with Cedric. She didn't even know Cedric except that he was a handsome intelligent sixth year student from Hufflepuff.
Ron and Harry constantly asked if she was alright but she could only nod her head, offering a small smile before going back to her schoolwork or book she was reading. She couldn't sleep for her mind was too busy thinking of everything that had apparently happened since the beginning of the school year and she didn't seem to have much of an appetite either, giving her hardly touched plates at mealtimes to Ron for him to finish for her.
Cedric seemed to have returned to the way his life used to be. Although he didn't remember participating in the first two tasks, he was determined to participate in the third for the Tri-Wizard tournament and he was even more determined to win it all. He threw himself into training, running around the Quidditch Pitch until his legs felt as if they were about to collapse. If he kept himself busy, he didn't have time to think of anything except for the third task and for avoiding Cho. The girl seemed to think that now whatever he and Hermione had had together was over and done with, she could move in on him again.
He knew that he had always had a thing for Cho, especially since he couldn't remember anything with Hermione, but something felt strange now. He didn't enjoy her company like he used to. He didn't want her kissing him or hugging him or just being near him. He didn't understand it much himself but being with her just didn't feel right to him anymore. He didn't know what the hell felt right to him anymore.
He had been so preoccupied with his thoughts that Cedric hadn't even realized as he walked through the hallway heading towards his Potions class that he had run into someone until he heard the clatter of books that hit the floor with large bangs like cannonballs.
"I'm sorry," he immediately said, dropping to his knees to aid the young witch.
He stilled though when their eyes met and he found himself looking into the face of none other than Hermione Granger. She stilled as well and for a few moments that seemed to last for at least a handful of hours, they did nothing but stare at each other. He tilted his head slightly, examining her closely, trying to find something there on her face or in her eyes that sparked something resembling recognition. He couldn't find anything though. He did not know this young woman in front of him and he still didn't believe that he ever had.
Hermione opened her mouth to say something but then she shook her head slightly, deciding against it, and went back to putting all of her concentration on picking up her books so she wouldn't have to look at him further.
Cedric kept staring at her however. She was quite pretty. "Do you believe everything that... well, that the professors said? About us?" Cedric asked her, almost nervously.
Hermione shrugged, not meeting his eyes as she tried to straighten her rolls of parchment and all of her books in her messenger bag slung onto her shoulder. "I don't know. I feel so strange... like a movie with scenes missing." She wasn't sure why she had admitted that to him but it was too late now to take it back. She was being truthful. She did feel strange and had ever since she had woken up in that hospital bed.
"Yeah... I know what you mean. I feel... almost empty," Cedric said as they both stood up and he put his hands in the front pockets of his trousers.
She made the mistake of tilting her head up and looking into his eyes. Once she did that, she was absolutely lost in those grey orbs of his and she couldn't look away. It scared her, being around him like this. She hated this sense of confusion that plagued her. Hermione was not used to knowing everything that was going on with her and she wished that all of this would just stop.
A silence fell between them and Hermione shifted nervously on her feet, slowly edging past him, finding it difficult to move her eyes away from his. "Good luck on the third task, Cedric," she said softly.
Cedric turned to watch her go but at the last moment, before she stepped just out of his reach, he shot his hand out with the skills of a talented seeker and snatched her wrist. Hermione's eyes widened and she stared at him. He pulled her gently back a step towards him and then looking around, remembering that they were standing in the middle of the hallway and that there were already more than enough rumors concerning them flying around, he led her into a small dark alcove, hiding them from curious eyes that might be peering.
"What are you doing?" Hermione hissed, panicked that someone would walk in on them at any moment. His fingers were still wrapped around her wrist and though it wasn't a tight grasp in the least, she didn't even struggle to get away from him. She didn't know why she didn't. She needed to get out of there. She needed to get away from him. Things were too confusing between them to be around him.
"Who do you think said it?" He asked and seeing her frown with confusion, he clarified. "I hate you. Who do you think said that? Did I say that to you or did you say it to me, do you think?"
"I thought you didn't believe in it. That's what you said in the hospital wing," she reminded him as if he could ever forget anything that had transpired that day.
He was silent for a moment and then shrugged. "Our entire lives are run by magic. Maybe…" he sighed heavily and slowly released her wrist. "I don't know," he said softly. "I don't know what any of it is. I look at you and I don't… I don't remember anything. I don't even know you."
For some reason unbeknownst to her, Hermione felt her heart sink in her chest and she nodded her head, hugging the books that wouldn't fit into her bag to her chest. She stared down at the floor and told herself that she should leave the alcove now.
"It seems so unbelievable," Cedric whispered and he wondered if he was talking to her or to himself.
The alcove was small and narrow enough to where when Cedric leaned back against the wall opposite of her, his hand could still reach out and touch her comfortably if he chose to do so. He did not though. He continued staring at her, trying to imagine. Trying to remember.
"I should get to class," Hermione said but Cedric grabbed her again before she could.
"I want to kiss you," he declared and for the second in a matter of minutes, Hermione's eyes widened as she stared at him. He almost smiled at her shock and surprise but the situation was far too serious at the moment for that. "I just need to know. Don't you want to know?"
"If we were ever connected, which we both feel we were not, but if we were, we aren't anymore so I don't see what kissing me is going to prove," Hermione said.
She gasped when he suddenly pushed himself off of the wall and she barely had time to realize that one of his hands went to her hip and he pushed her until her back was pressed against the wall behind her, his other hand planted on the bricks next to her head, successfully pinning her there. She gulped, tilting her head up to look at him, his grey eyes dark like a storm and his jaw sharp and clenched as he stared at her. She felt her skin flush and a shiver shoot down her spine. His body was so close to hers, if someone was to glance into the alcove and see them, they would be confused into thinking that they were an intimate couple.
"Cedric, don't," she whispered.
"I have to know, Hermione," he whispered in response.
And with that, he cupped her cheeks in both of his hands and before she could breathe, or think or speak, his mouth descended onto hers and he kissed her hard and passionately, pushing her more against the wall. Hermione remained paralyzed for a moment, feeling Cedric's lips on hers, his mouth covering hers, his tongue slowly pushing into her mouth.
Putting both hands on his shoulders, she managed to push him off of her slightly. Both stared at one another, panting for air. She felt her lips tingle and her entire body begin to hum – just from one kiss. She was so confused and yet, she didn't care at the moment. She stared at him and he stared at her and then he smiled – an actual smile – but just for a moment because Hermione threw her arms around his neck and kissed him again. Cedric responded instantly, his mouth moving with hers. He wrapped his arms around her waist, lifting her, her feet dangling off the floor.
"Saffron Crocus," Cedric murmured against her lips as he smelled the sweet fragrance in the air.
He stepped forward and pressed her back against the alcove wall. Her feet still hung above the floor but he pressed to her so tightly that his body kept her from falling. Hermione's fingers tangled in his hair, grasping the locks, keeping his mouth firmly attached to hers.
Things began appearing in front of them as they continued kissing one another in clips so quick, they almost didn't have time to register what they were looking at.
The earth forming at the beginning of time.
Two babies being born, crying as they entered the world, one with a scar on their left arm while the other had a scar on their right one.
A man with a hood over his face blowing what looked to be dust into a cauldron bubbling over a fire, whispering an ancient incantation. The trees of the woods surrounding him rustling in a heavy wind.
"True love," he whispers in a low voice.
The man who would become Amos Diggory in this present life handing the hooded man a sack of what could be used for currency. "My son is dying. Save him."
The fire under the cauldron rising higher, bringing the contents of the cauldron to a boil. The man takes the money and tosses it into the liquid, a large hiss releasing and red sparks shooting out.
"Your son is weak. He needs another life to cling to," the man whispers.
"Do what you have to," Amos pleads.
The man whispers more words into the cauldron, more red sparks flying out as a response. "True love," he whispers again, closing his eyes, letting the smoke float up into his face as he leans over the fire. "Two lives will become one. Forever. True love will never die."
The man reaches into his cloak and pulls out a small purple flower that was foreign to that land. Amos watches as he crushes the flower in his palms and then tosses the remnants into the cauldron.
"The flower will not wilt. Their souls will not lose one another. Their hearts will beat as one. They will always live for one another like the flower lives for the water," the man whispers and then speaks something over and over again so lowly, no one can hear him.
Numquam periit amor. Love never dies.
Numquam periit amor. Love never dies.
The words the man whispered, Cedric and Hermione could feel them ripping through their bodies as they continued kissing in that alcove, clinging to one another as a sudden wind roared in their ears and a white light broke through the blackened charred scars on their arms. The light was so bright, it lit up the entire alcove and shone into the hallway. Still, Cedric and Hermione continued kissing one another.
"I remember everything," Hermione gasped against his lips.
"We are not Bound," Cedric responded. "Everyone thought it was but…"
"True Love is stronger," she whispered. She looked at him, both of them panting heavily as they tried to catch their breaths. The light still shone and the mysterious wind kept blowing. "We have True Love between us."
"I can feel you," he said, squeezing his arms around her, holding her tightly. "I forgot but now…"
"Our fathers were friends. You were dying and my father offered to help you," Hermione said and Cedric nodded his head quickly as the answers poured from them.
The answers to all of their questions had been there all along. They just had to be reawakened. They were so convinced that they were Bound but that wasn't the magic working its power on them. It had been True Love. It always had been. Something so much more powerful and stronger than any binding spell.
"Part of your life was given to me," Cedric said. "We each only have half of a life but together-"
"We are finally whole," Hermione finished, tears glistening in her eyes, a smile on her face. She did feel whole again. She felt happy and she felt her heart expanding in her chest as she stared at Cerdic, her fingers playing with the hairs on the back of his head. "True Love never dies. That's why-"
"We keep finding each other in all of these different lives," he concluded, smiling at her, his lips pressing soft kisses all over her face. "The True Love let us believe we were Bound because we were so convinced we were. All of the signs pointed to it but-"
"True Love let us see what we wanted to see," Hermione said, her eyes closed as she felt Cedric kiss every inch of her that his lips could reach without pulling away from her. "It made us miserable because it was not what we truly had. We were both so tired and hated what was between us, thinking and feeling everything the other did, I truly believed that I hated you for thinking things that broke my heart."
"You screamed you hated me and the curse True Love had punished us with was broken," Cedric said. "True Love had punished us for not believing in it. For believing in something else."
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she smiled at him. "I love you," she whispered.
He closed his eyes as her words rolled over him like the most euphoric sensation to ever be experienced in this world. "I love you," he whispered, staring at her. "And I will never forget again. I will never doubt it again. I will always remember what we have."
"True Love," she whispered, laughing slightly before pressing her lips to his passionately, clinging to him. "That was what the white light was. Before we died and woke again."
Cedric smiled, nodding. "White. For True Love. For us."
Answers finally flowed over their minds like a smooth rock in a riverbed. The mystery was gone. They hadn't been Bound. That had been nothing more than a punishment for trying to deny something far greater between them. True Love was so powerful, it allowed them to believe that until it was time they were truly ready to see what they had. They saw everything now though.
The instant Cedric died in the maze during the third task two nights later, Hermione knew it immediately. Her hand went to her chest and she could feel her heart slowing down and she could feel her insides being lifted, preparing to go and meet him on the other side.
Her time here was done. She had to go. Where one went, the other followed. From the beginning to the end of eternity. Always together.
She turned and looked at Ron and Harry standing next to her, watching the maze, eagerly awaiting the first contestant to emerge triumphant, neither knowing that Cedric was dead. No one in the stands did. She watched them, tears forming in her eyes and then rolling down her cheeks.
Without a word, she threw her arms around both of them, hugging them tightly.
"Mione?" Ron said, confused, patting her back as he craned his neck past her, still trying to watch the entrance to the maze. "Don't be nervous. Hogwarts is going to win."
Harry wrapped his arm around her, hugging her, almost laughing at how silly she was being. There was no need to be nervous. She had to watch so she wouldn't miss Cedric be the first to emerge with the cup. Hogwarts WAS going to win that year.
Hermione took a shaky breath. It was time to go. Tears rolled down her cheeks and she hugged them as tightly as she could. She almost wished she could take them with her but that was impossible. Harry and Ron had so much more to do in their lives here.
"In all of my lives, you two are the best friends I have ever had. I love you both so much," she whispered in their ears.
They both stiffened at her words, as if they now just understood what was wrong, but they felt her go limp and when Ron gently pulled her back so they could look at her, she was already dead.
It was peaceful there – the sun shining, the tall green grass blowing in a gentle breeze, small puffs of white clouds moving leisurely across the brilliant blue sky. He was sitting underneath a tree waiting for her and he grinned, getting to his feet the instant he saw her hopping over the small trickling creek. She saw him and then breaking into a carefree laughter, she began running towards him. He reached her first and lifted her up in his arms, grinning when she laughed as he spun her around in circles.
When he placed her on her feet again, she looked up at him with a mock pout on her face.
"You beat me here," she said.
"For once," he laughed.
"Was it terribly painful?" She asked, her hand going to his chest where she knew the curse had hit him.
Cedric shrugged. "I don't really remember anymore," he said. "He was an ugly bastard though. I remember that." He paused, his thumb sweeping over the apple of her cheek. "Did you get to say goodbye to them?"
"Yes," she sighed with relief. "Will Harry be able to defeat him, do you think?"
"I think next time we go, there will be great stories about Harry and Ron and their victory over Voldemort," Cedric assured her and she broke into a smile, grateful for his words, knowing that he was right.
She stood up on her tip toes and throwing her arms around his neck, kissed him square on the mouth. He held her, kissing her, and she squealed with laughter when he pulled her down into the grass. Their surroundings were familiar to both. They had been there countless times before. After one life ended, they always went there to wait until the next one began.
Cedric rolled them over so he was lying on his back and Hermione was sprawled on top of him. She felt his chest lift her head with each breath he took and she closed her eyes, feeling the warmth of the sun on her face.
"Where do you think we'll be next time?" She asked him.
Cedric didn't answer for a moment, his fingers instead playing with her hair. "We'll find out soon enough. I hope it's somewhere warmer than England though."
She laughed softly at that, lifting her head and pressing a kiss to his chin. "Don't worry, Cedric. I will always be there to keep you warm."