He Sends Bubbles
by AHS

Cedric floated into and out of my life like a bubble.

Beautiful. Magical. And as soon as I'd worked up the courage to touch him… gone.

He floated… above me. Older. Taller. So handsome, and you couldn't even hate him, for there was too much warmth and kindness in the perfection of his face. Popular. Outgoing, yet… shy. Beloved, not for his name… not for any legacy thrust upon him as a baby, not for any stupid scar… but for the name he made for himself.

Remember Cedric Diggory… a boy who was good, and kind, and brave…Part of me can't help but hate what his name has come to mean. Remember him, yes, but not simply as a warning… a cautionary tale of what could happen to those who do not take Voldemort and his evil seriously. One, because it makes it sound like Cedric did something wrong, when I was the reason he was in danger at all, and his last breath was spent trying to protect me. And two, because… he's so much more than that.

Was, and is. I know… I know he's dead. But he's still with me. Perhaps more than he ever was before.

He sends me bubbles.

First time, I was at the Dursleys'. I'd just woken from one of those nightmares, the ones that would rule that summer… the ones Dudley would taunt me about. My own scream… "CEDRIC, NO!"… was still echoing in my ears, shaking my body and my consciousness.

Then I saw it. One perfect bubble floating towards me, nearly the size of Hedwig as she perched curled up, twittering curiously inside her cage. It was still dark out, but the moonlight filled the orb and made it shine like a diamond.

I wondered at it. It had seemed to come in through the window, yet the window was closed.

It hovered just out of reach, and I could see it was transparent, yet colored a smoky grey. I stared and felt it calm my pounding heart. Reminded me of Cedric's eyes.

After a few moments, it floated away… making a quick downward spiral, then zooming straight up, then disappearing completely. There was something about the flight pattern, and as my head returned to the pillow, I realized… That was Ced's best Quidditch move. I closed my eyes, and visions of a cemetery and a sickening green flash of light were replaced by Cedric on his broom, going for the Snitch.

I was almost… sad that it had gone away. Still, I lay there, breathing slowly, feeling myself smile. The air smelled sweet and familiar and made my stomach flip pleasantly. I found myself remembering Cedric tipping me off about the egg, leaning in to whisper about the Prefects' Bathroom. It was… how his hair had smelled.

Maybe I was still asleep. There was no scent of his shampoo wafting in the air. Couldn't be. I had to be imagining it. Like that day I had taken my bath, just as Cedric had prescribed, and how I'd thought just for a second that I saw him standing by the door. Rubbed my eyes and he was gone. Never there, of course. Why would he…? I must have had soap bubbles in my eye.

Bubbles…I was similarly soothed after bad dreams a few more times, each time too afraid of what might happen if I touched the bubble to give it a try. I was starting to think things about why and how and what these visits meant… who… that couldn't possibly be true.

One day, back at school… after the fifth hateful glare from Seamus, and the eleventh time I heard someone call me a liar, either behind my back or to my face, just since breakfast… it found me again. I'd ducked into an empty classroom and leaned against a wall, hitting my fist against my leg in an effort both to not break something and to keep myself from crying, until I saw the bubble. I followed it… through the door, down the hall… outside… It got faster, and I ran and ran… until I came upon Ron and Hermione, asking me if I was okay… and again, it was nowhere.

It wasn't long after that I asked Hermione about it. I didn't really know how to without telling her anything, but eventually I fudged some sort of a for instance. Someone seeing things where they shouldn't be… the same thing over and over, like it was there just for them… and what it could mean.

What I was thinking was not at all logical, and I was prepared to hear just that from my logic-loving friend. But while she groused at the lack of proper information, at my assurance that… hypothetically… it didn't feel like a spell, exactly, and definitely not a trick… although I couldn't make such solid guarantees about the person's sanity… her frown changed, and she asked if the person in question had lost someone close to them.

Why? I asked, hoping the cracks in my voice didn't give me away.

She said that, although it was the sort of idea bandied about by psychics, Muggle or otherwise… most of whom were likely no more legitimate than Professor Trelawney… there were documented cases of people repeatedly seeing anything from blinking lights to loose change on the ground to butterflies, seemingly without reason… and that some believed they were "sent" by deceased loved ones, as messages of love… reminders that they would never truly leave them.

But that couldn't be what… Even if it were, it wouldn't be him. Not for me. I knew I was never anything special to him. Just competition. Just a nuisance, mostly, and then worse. The boy who stole his spotlight and… his life. Maybe that was it. He was making sure I never forgot that I was the one who got him killed. As if I could. But…

If he was haunting me, why did it feel so good?

I had to stop thinking about Cedric. I know Cho was not the smartest way to go about that. But she was there, crying, looking lost as I felt, and his picture was on the mirror, watching over us, and it happened. But I swear, it wasn't until mid-kiss that I thought… Cedric was the last on her lips… Maybe, still a taste of him…I didn't want to admit thoughts like that existed in my mind. But they did, and long had. Denying them while he was alive had been necessary, but to do so now seemed… pointless… sad. It didn't feel like honoring him.

The bubble came that night. I knew it would, and I waited up. Ron was in a deep sleep in his bed, so I chanced a whisper… a hope…

"Cedric?"My palm outstretched, the bubble floated to me and touched my skin.

"Harry."Suddenly, I was no longer aware of my bed, my room, or Hogwarts. There was only that sweet smell and shimmery white light and bubbles everywhere… and that voice. And then he was there, looking back at me.

"Cedric, how…?" Even living in a world of magic, this seemed impossible.

His smile was soft and brilliant. "I'm not quite sure. I'm just happy you figured it out." He took a step closer, his grey eyes pained. "Stop believing it should have been you. Things happened as they were meant to, and none of it is your fault." I yelled. "My reasons weren't as good and noble as you think, Cedric." he said quietly.

"I knew it was you. I couldn't understand why, but… I felt you."

"What couldn't you understand?"

"Why you would send me-… Why you would care-… I thought you must have been haunting me, because you died when I should have been the one…"

"Harry, stop."

"That's not true. You were so good to me, and how did I repay you? I put you there…"

"Because you are so good, you chose to save me and to share victory with me. You can't blame yourself for what happened after that."

"I blame myself because I know why I did it!"

"Tell me,"

I never would have had the courage to say anything in "real life," but there with him… wherever we were… I did.

"I did it because I liked you… too much. I wanted you to like me, too."My heart froze in my chest. Had he seen me with his girlfriend? "I'm sorry, Cedric. I shouldn't have."Then his hand reached out and covered my cheek… somehow warm… and I barely had time to flush with the realization that he could touch me, and I could touch him, before he was kissing me.

"I did like you. I do."

"No… Not like…"

"Like you like… Cho?"

"You're right. There is a much better way… to taste."

And then the bubbles all around were dancing through my veins.

Cedric… kissing me… He wasn't disgusted… He knew what I felt, and he was kissing me… His breath on my lips… My lips parting, making way… His tongue, not at all shy… Silky with desire and tasting of affection I didn't deserve… But I took it, anyway.

And this was the feeling I'd heard about. None of it could be real, yet it felt like the real version of what I had attempted earlier with Cho. It had been about Cedric… probably on her part, as well… and I wanted to shout that this was my real first kiss. This was the only one that counted.

His hands combed through my hair and rubbed my shoulders, and mine didn't know what to do and then found inspiration, gripping his hips. I didn't want to wake up.

"It's not a dream," he exhaled against my forehead, pulling back only slightly and reading my mind.

"How do I know?" Strong arms held me sure. "There was something there. I'm sorry I never…" Or, at best, that I just wouldn't matter.

"Because you never let yourself dream anything this good."

"It's not real, though, is it? Not to keep? But it feels so…"

"I know."

"But you're still…"

"Yes. This is a moment… out of time, I guess you'd say. But we wouldn't even be allowed to have it if THIS weren't real."

"I thought… I thought you would hate me."

"No, Harry. I've hated seeing you look so sad."I realized he had been. He would float to me, in those worst times, and I would feel cared for and protected.

"Then why couldn't you…? Why not until now? You died months ago! I've needed you…"

"I don't make the rules, Harry. I've tried to be there in the times you've needed me most… in whatever form I could be."

"You needed time to figure things out before I could be with you like this. Not just that it was me, but why you wanted it to be me."It made sense, what he was saying. But now that I had experienced what I'd never thought I could have… touching him, kissing him… all I knew was I wanted more. I reached for him.

"Ced…"He slipped through my fingers… still there in front of me, but the memory of flesh and bone no longer solid beneath my touch. His visage wavered, light darkened with regret.

"Moment's almost up." Our moment was at its point of disintegration, and I stretched it desperately, not really knowing what to say. What came out of my mouth was… "Why bubbles?"His head dipped, bashful blush on his cheeks, and I knew I was right, that I had seen him there… and he had seen me… when I was taking my bath.

"No! I… Please don't go. I want to stay with you."

"You can't. You have to go on living… fighting. You've got so much ahead of you, and so much left to fight for. I know you don't want to hear it, but the world is counting on you, Harry."

"I don't care about the world!"

"That's not true."

"The world doesn't want me! You… do?"

"Yes. But it took me too long to admit, didn't it? Give the world a chance to catch up. You have a lot of people who believe in you."

"Still more who either resent me or flat out hate me. No one truly deserved to feel both those things about me more than you, but you never did. I don't want to lose you again."

"Haven't you gotten the point I've been trying to make yet? You won't lose me. Even when you can't touch me, and even when you can't see me, I'm with you."

"Ced, wait!"

But then he was gone. I was alone and back in my bed, Ron's snoring cutting through the wonder with reality that felt less real. I touched fingers to my lips and I could feel him there, but he was still gone… again.

Back to my life. Back to being The Chosen One, chosen by none.

And… I hadn't said goodbye. Given that second chance, I still hadn't said goodbye.


He's the cleverest I ever knew, but he still doesn't get it.

We don't need goodbyes. Even if I didn't intend to keep close watch over him, goodbyes don't matter. What matters is that we finally said hello properly, like we should have before… with lips and hands and open eyes.

I know he can't be mine. Never could.

Harry always floated above me. Still does, never mind that I'm the one literally so doing.

Smarter. Braver… than I was, and than anyone should ever have to be. More mature than wizards far beyond his years. Humbler, with far more reason to boast. Scarred in more ways, always a little sad, but so beautiful. So special and so… normal. Just a boy.

A boy I wish I'd had more time with.

I hope we're given another moment like that, but I think we might not. It's probably not good for him. He needs to let go, even if I can't.

But, now and then, I will send bubbles. Bunches of bubbles. Bouquets of bubbles. To make him smile, to warm him with what might have been, and to remind him any time he forgets… he's not alone.

He's my chosen one.