"Damn it!" a voice hissed, a book slammed shut and sounds of footsteps clicked through the quiet library. Essentially, nobody was there at all; it was, after all, a perfect Saturday afternoon and anybody who was sociable would either be outdoors, or preparing to go on a trip to Hogsmeade. However, that was not her lifestyle of choice; not one of Hermione Granger's. Instead, she was spending her weekend immersed in her little world of books and knowledge. Merlin forbid she even had fun, it seemed. As she stalked to the nearby shelves once more, the tip of her finger tapping delicately on her chin and her face scrunched up in obvious frustration, a pair of eyes followed her every move. It was highly unusual for this particular pair of eyes to even grace its gaze in the library that day. As aforementioned, it was Saturday and that meant the popular students – even at Hogwarts, social hierarchy was imposed, much to the chagrin of some – would and should be busy mingling. This student, however, saw it fit to stay behind, he even chose to hide behind a shelf; this was Cedric Diggory.
Hermione turned around and briskly walked to the other side of the library, aggravated that she seemingly could not find the book she wanted. She headed in Cedric's direction and as he moved aside to avoid being seen, he clumsily knocked over a cart of books Madam Pince hadn't sorted through yet. That, of course, brought to him unwanted attention, not only from the fourth-year striding towards him, but also from the strict librarian. Madam Pince was right at his side within seconds.
"Mr Diggory, your gaucheness endangers my line of work entirely, do you know that?" she lectured. As there wasn't any other student present besides Hermione, she did not mind raising her voice a little. "This hasn't been the first time you've knocked over a pile of books. Make that four piles of books and my trolley. Well, you're going to have to pick all of them up, without using magic. Is that clear?"
"Yes, ma'am," Cedric muttered, embarrassed at his actions as well as angry at the woman for making such a big fuss out of things. Old hag, he thought. Don't take it out on me that you're a hundred and eleven.
With a curt nod at him, Madam Pince walked back to her desk at the front of the library.
Should I help him? Hermione thought, standing awkwardly nearby as Cedric began to pick up the books. That's an awful lot for someone to do.
"Here, let me help with those," she offered gawkily, rigidly kneeling down and helping to retrieve the books that had fallen and slid beneath the book shelves. She mentally slapped herself in the process, angry that she was so socially inept that she couldn't even talk properly around strangers.
"Um, thank you," Cedric mumbled back.
He didn't know her well and didn't know what else to say. He had met her in the summer; she was with the Weasleys at the Quidditch World Cup. During that time, they hardly spoke, except for the occasional "hello" or "how are you". Once they returned to Hogwarts, they never saw each other except at mealtimes. Cedric and Hermione obviously never shared classes and they travelled in vastly different social circles. The fact that they were in different houses made it all the more impossible for them to meet at leisure.
Both students kept quiet as they slowly worked to get all the tomes back on the trolley without the use of magic.
"S-so what brings you to the library? Y-you know, besides kn-nocking books over," Hermione spoke as she stood from her position up, although it came out as more of a squeak than anything else, and she even stammered. Her eyes never left the floor; it was as though she saw an incredible insignia of sorts imprinted on the hardwood and that it fascinated her because she could not once take her eyes off that same spot. Immediately she felt her cheeks flush with colour and her eyes widen slightly, but she tried to keep her composure all the same. As she raised her eyes from the floor to meet his, she felt her cheeks heat up even more and she guessed that she was about nine shades of red. She couldn't stare at those ice-blue eyes longer than a few seconds.
Even though she wasn't surprised at her lack of confidence, she wanted to kick herself more than ever at that moment.
"Well…" he looked ready to tell of some grand tale that he'd previously rehearsed on how he had managed to end up in a library of all places on a sunny Saturday when he took a good long look at her. It made her feel uncomfortable, but he continued to study her. She won't tell, he said to himself. He took a deep breath and whispered, "Okay, look, promise me you won't tell anybody all right? I'm…hiding."
"Hiding?" Hermione was so shocked that she forgot about her meekness around Cedric. She dropped the books in her hands and one particularly fat hardcover landed right on her foot. "Ow!" she groaned, rubbing it and wincing. It didn't deter her from getting a reason out of him, though, and her gaze flew up to meet his. "Hiding from what?"
Who knew she could be this loud? Cedric thought, amused at the small scene before him.
Suddenly realising her volume, she glanced around frantically for Madam Pince's hawk glare – one that she was sure was just like a Basilisk's gaze – but as it didn't seem to be lurking between the shelves or outwardly staring at them, she turned back to him with an apologetic smile and gestured for him to speak.
He shuffled around a bit – he even helped her pick up the small load – as though not really wanting to reveal any more information than he had, or as though he was about to lie about his reasons. In the end, after another good, long staring contest with her, decided that he could trust her about it. "Oh, all right. I was hiding from…from Cho, okay?"
Hermione was so taken aback once more that she snorted in laughter. Cedric didn't appear to be all that bothered by it, just a tad surprised. However, she seemed to realise what she did and flushed an even deeper shade of red. Was it even possible to do such a thing? She thought, self-conscious. However, even after her small folly, she still remained giggly as she said to him, "Um…if you don't mind me asking, exactly why are you hiding from her?"
"Well," he began as he placed the stack of books he had in his hand on the top shelf of the trolley. "I mean…she…she likes to follow me around and…well, quite frankly, I'm not too happy about that. In fact, it's not just her, it's every other girl who's come up to speak to me. They tend to stalk me a little bit and it's honestly quite terrifying. Imagine turning the corner on your way to the loo or somewhere and out pops a girl dying to speak to you or something and you really can't blatantly tell her to go away because that would be awfully rude…"
By then, Hermione was laughing hysterically – or she would've been if she didn't try to control her laughter and keep it to the bare minimum. It hardly worked. She had cupped her hands over her mouth to stop the noise from coming out, but had only ended up chuckling more and the muffling didn't really lower her volume.
"Miss Granger, why in the name of Merlin are you having a laughing fit in my library?" asked Madam Pince crossly.
"Oh, I-I'm so-orry, Madam Pince," Hermione suppressed her mirth just long enough to give Madam Pince a straight face to answer her. "I'll keep it down."
"You'd better," and with that, the grumpy librarian was off to her front desk once more.
Hermione turned back to Cedric, only to find amusement written all over his face at that little sight.
"Quite the little actress, are you?" he teased slightly, making her giggle again.
"Oh, shut it," she mumbled, a smile playing on her lips. "I just find it hilarious that you're hiding from girls. Particularly the ones that like you so much! You, Cedric Diggory, best Seeker Hufflepuff has ever had…"
Cedric felt a sudden surge of happiness at the revelation that Hermione even knew his name. The corners of his mouth creased upwards in a small smirk; however its true meaning was well-disguised. He watched her rattle on a little bit more.
"…and here you are, crouched between a couple of library bookshelves, hoping to find some quiet time? I just can't believe it," she finished, her grin full as the Cheshire cat's by then.
Cedric snickered slightly as he wheeled the trolley out to find Madam Pince to show her that he had indeed picked all her books up. "Okay, enough about me. What are you doing here? It's Saturday! Aren't you supposed to be out with your friends or something?"
"Well, I…" Hermione felt her cheeks flush once more and her embarrassment rose and self-confidence dwindled. "I, uh, I… Iwaslookingforbooksonhouseelves."
"Beg your pardon?" Cedric looked at her, a bit confused.
"I was…looking to find books on…on house-elves and on their enslavement and…things…" she mumbled, almost all assurance gone from her system. She expected him to burst out laughing; mocking her cruelly.
Instead, he asked her, "Well, what do you need to read up on house-elves for?" he stopped the trolley in front of Madam Pince, who began examining it.
"I don't expect anybody to understand, but I want to set up a…an association of sorts. I've decided to call it the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, or SPEW, actually…and…"
She stopped midway, at a loss for words. What was she babbling on about? What are the odds that the most popular student at Hogwarts, let alone an older one, would want to know anything about her plan? He probably already thought she was stupid for wanting elf rights, and would react just how she imagined Harry and Ron would…
"Wow," Cedric said. His response surprised Hermione and she took a chance to look up at him through timid eyes. He looked like he was unable to say any more and she felt like breathing a sigh of relief. As long as he didn't ridicule her cause, whatever reaction he gave her was acceptable.
"All right, you're free to go Mr Diggory, but don't let me catch you lurking around my library without rhyme or reason one more time, is that understood? What were you doing here anyway?" Madam Pince peered at Cedric with beady eyes.
"Um, I was…" Cedric started, wanting to laugh at the thought of revealing his proper intentions. He knew it would not sit well with this almost-medieval librarian, though and tried to come up with an excuse.
"He was helping me find books for my reference, Madam Pince," Hermione spoke up. "I couldn't find a particular book and asked him to help me. He was being clumsy and just knocked things over."
"Yes…well…" Madam Pince seemed like she only believed half of the explanation for she continued to stare at Cedric with calculative eyes. However, she let the matter rest. "Just don't let me see you prowling around again. I might even think you're up to no good, brewing illegal potions of the sort. Professor Snape tells me you have an aptitude for Potions."
"Why would he discuss my ability in his class with you?" Cedric questioned and this time, he couldn't tone down the attitude in his voice. He seemed to be insinuating something or other…
"How dare you …!" Madam Pince looked about ready to explode.
"I'm sure," Hermione defended yet again, "that what Cedric means to say is that he's shocked his teachers would discuss his capacity with anybody but the headmaster. I'm positive he doesn't mean anything personal. Do you, Cedric?" she looked at him, hoping he wouldn't think it a wise time to spout nonsense and test her patience.
"What she said, Madam Pince," was his only reply after a short pause and with that, he sauntered out of the library without a word, a smirk playing at the corners of his mouth once again.
Hermione thanked the (still slightly angry) librarian as she hurriedly gathered her things and left the library. She checked her watch; it was around five o'clock. Harry and Ron should have been back from Hogsmeade by then. Not looking where she was going, she walked straight into Cedric, knocking them both over. Apparently, he had been waiting for her out in the corridor.
He stood up quickly, brushed himself off slightly and held out a palm to help her up. Hermione gathered her bag from the floor and took his hand, standing up, wobbling a little under the weight of the books she had in her carrier. She gained her centre and smiled up at him in a silent thank-you.
"Thanks, by the way," he told her. "For…that." He didn't seem to know what else to say; all he did was gesture towards the library doors.
"Oh, it's…it's all right. No problem. Fine. Yes, exactly," Hermione seemed to realise she had been babbling again and she looked away from Cedric, discomfited. She couldn't help but notice that smirk again that constantly seemed to crease his lips when he was amused. "Do you always look like that?" she wondered out loud.
"Like there's always a private joke in everything."
Cedric seemed to think about it a little, before widening his smirk to a full grin and replying, "Yeah, I-I think I do," he looked right at her and placed a hand on her shoulder, giving it a squeeze. "I'll see you around, Hermione."
He walked off without another word.
All Hermione could think of as she looked at his retreating back – as it got smaller and smaller as he walked further and further along the corridor – was, He knows my name?
She felt a smile tug at her lips and her hand subconsciously rising to touch the area on her shoulder he had patted.
A/N: This a seriously AU story like none I've ever written. I'm not used to writing AU at all, but I'm actually quite pleased at how this pairing turned out. I'm a full canon shipper, but watching loads of AU fan videos for Harry Potter has got my mind a-whirlin'! ...Yeah, so anyways, feedback feedback feedback! Please and thank you, with sugar cubes and extra sweetener =D (That's kind of gross to me, but nevermind! Reviews are always always appreciated as long as they aren't rude!) Hopefully this one'll attract readers because of its consumer quality ;) (Cedric...HP4...R-Patz...Edward...Twilight...I strongly dislike Twilight but never mind that...see the link?) Thanks for reading anyway!