Author's Note: Hey everyone, I know that this is not my usual pairing but something possessed me, and wallah, a Cedric/Hermione one-shot. I was actually laying in bed, trying to get to sleep but the story Sleeping Beauty was stuck in my head for some reason…then, for some other strange reason, Hermione and Cedric popped into my mind. And that is basically how this one-shot came about. I know, there's no logic or reasoning, but there it is. Hope you like it.
.: His Sleeping Beauty :.
She was beautiful when she slept. Her soft fluttering eyelids and thick lashes, the gentle rose blush on her cheeks, the faint splattering of freckles across her nose and her slightly parted lips. He loved watching her sleep, seeing the unguarded innocence on her face. So peaceful, so undisturbed by the troubles of the world; she was magnificent, like a fairytale princess waiting for her prince. There was nothing he wouldn't do for her.
Their relationship was a strange one, built on what some thought inane. Most people, their family and friends included, thought it was horribly romantic, sappy even. He honestly didn't care. While their courtship – if it could even be called that – was slightly out of the norm, it didn't mean that what they had, what they felt, was less than any others. They were unique, the one couple in a millennia that was like nothing else. At least, that was his opinion. He could be biased though.
When Cedric really thought about it, he realised that their beginning, or at least the catalyst for it, happened long before he'd even acknowledged his feelings. It all started back on the night he'd gotten his scar. The angry red line was faint now, running from his right ear down and under his jaw. He wasn't complaining though. If he hadn't tripped and caught his jaw on one of the old tombstones, who knew where he would be, or wouldn't be now. Sometimes he still had a hard time believing that Harry, a fourth year at the time, had managed to fend off the darkest wizard to ever grace their history books.
He'd always felt slightly useless, like he was just floating along, not really having to fight or work to get what he wanted. Everything had been handed to him. That was probably the reason why he'd entered the stupid tournament in the first place, to prove to himself and to others that he wasn't just a pretty face. And he wasn't, there was more to him than good looks and charm. Cedric had brains, intelligence that was rarely ever acknowledged. He was loyal, a fierce friend and he never gave up. When he was knocked down, like every other Hufflepuff, he got back up. There was more to life than ambition, more than money and whatever material objects that others thought were important. That was why he was a Hufflepuff, because he didn't care about any of that.
The Triwizard Tournament was perhaps the worst and greatest thing he had ever done. It was the worst because of what he saw, of the nightmares he'd had every night since the graveyard and of what it meant for others. And yet, in some sick masochistic way, it was the best thing he ever did because it led him to her, and it allowed him to prove to himself that he was good enough.
He could barely remember what had happened after he'd broken his jaw. It had all been so hazy, a mirage of cloudy colours and faint voices and blinding pain. But from what he could remember, it had been horrifying. How Harry had survived was a mystery to him even now. The Gryffindor was fearless, in his opinion. Cedric knew for a fact that he wouldn't have been able to do what he did, to put up with the amount of crap and expectations. Harry was the epitome of his House, of Godric Gryffindor himself.
When they got back to the stadium, things began to become clearer. Someone had turned the cup into a portkey. Who? He didn't know, but he'd wracked his brain for some type of clue as to the culprit. For all they knew, he or she could have been standing among the terrified, acting to perfection. And then, through the pain and terrified screams, it had come to him. Professor Moody was the one to place the Triwizard Cup in the maze, the last to touch it bar him and Harry. It was so obvious.
What had happened next, the realisation that he knew the truth, that he had to tell someone and that that someone was Albus Dumbledore, was nothing to what she did. He was so preoccupied with his sudden epiphany that he hadn't seen Moody aim his wand at him. She took the curse for him, pushed him out of the way like the idiotically brave Gryffindor she was. Hermione took the curse for him, despite not even knowing him. They were acquaintances, not friends or family or something more. And yet, she'd laid her life on the line for him.
No one knew what curse he'd hit her with. She just remained, still and unmoving except for the gentle rise and fall of her chest. The Healers at St Mungos were at a loss. It was like some kind of magical coma. Whatever they did, whatever they tried, she just would not wake. Days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, yet still there was no change. He couldn't shake his guilt. That was supposed to be him, not her, lying there, unmoving. It was supposed to be him.
Eventually the months turned into years. He'd graduated from Hogwarts as Head Boy, taken a job at the ministry and continued on with life as if nothing had changed. Or at least, he'd tried to do that. It was difficult when the guilt was eating him up inside, when he felt this strange pull to do something to help her. Cho was constantly supportive, trying to ease his guilt by telling him to live in the present. She'd been amazing.
But he couldn't let go, even after five years. He visited her everyday with a fresh bunch of flowers, daisies, and sat by her bedside. Sometimes he read to her, sometimes he talked about what was going on in the world and sometimes, sometimes he simply sat there and watched her. The Healers knew him by name as did her parents. Hugo and Rose Granger were wonderful people. They let him be when no one else would. There were no questions about why he visited their daughter everyday, no underlying accusation that it was his fault that she was there. The Grangers just let him be.
Cho wouldn't, however. After seven years of waiting, she'd had enough. They'd gotten engaged a while back because it seemed like the right thing to do, the next step that was expected to be taken. But he couldn't bring himself to actually set a date for the wedding. He put it off and put it off, until eventually she couldn't take it any more. Cedric could still remember the words she'd said to him.
"There are supposed to be two people in a relationship, Ced, not three," her voice had quavered, the accusation strong in her eyes. He didn't know what to say to her, what she wanted him to say. It wasn't like he understood. Did she think he was having an affair? She knew that he wasn't that type of guy, didn't she?
"Cho, what – what on earth are you talking about?" he asked, looking over at the still woman, breathing rhythmically in the hospital bed bedside him. It seemed wrong to have an argument here, in front of her, despite everything.
"That's what I'm talking about," Cho cried, tears welling up in her eyes. "You care more about her than you do me. I know what you're thinking. You're worrying about having an argument, or whatever this is, in front of her. Cedric, she's never going to wake up. It shouldn't matter,"
He looked at her in incredulous disbelief. Did she honestly think that? Hermione had to wake up. How else would he be able to say sorry, to make amends for all she had missed because of him? She had to wake up.
"You come here everyday, for Merlin knows what reason. Not even her friends visit that often, once a week maybe, but not everyday," his fiancée continued, gesturing wildly toward the other woman. "I know that you feel guilty, but she made the choice to take that curse instead of you. She made the decision to jump in front of you, not the other way around. Cedric, this – it isn't your fault. What Hermione did was so, so selfless and brave, and I am eternally grateful for what she did. I honestly don't know what I would have done if it had been you and not her. Don't you see? She gave us this chance, this opportunity to be together. But we're not together, are we, Ced?"
"How are we supposed to be together when you're with her?" Cho asked, wiping away her tears.
Cedric stared at her, his brow pulled together in confusion. "I'm not with her. How can I be? Cho, she's in a coma,"
"Exactly!" she cried. "She's in a coma and chances are she's never going to wake. Do you know how hard it is to try to compete with a dream? To you, she's some kind of ideal that you keep pining for. I can't be her, Cedric. You're in love with a dream, not me,"
"No," he shook his head, surprised by her words. "No, Cho, that's not true,"
"But it is," she argued sadly, quietly. "And I can't keep doing this. I can't keep fighting for your attention. Merlin, it's – it's not even a competition, is it? It's always been her,"
It had been a hard lesson to learn. Everything she had said was true, he'd just been too blind to see it. They were still friends, despite the break-up and everything. She was married now, happily it seemed. He was thankful for that – her happiness. Cedric knew that he would always love her. But he now realised that he had never been in love with her. What they'd had was comfortable. There were no passionate fireworks, or electric charges between them, just a comfortable familiarity. Neither of them wanted that, not really.
Hermione's father had been the first to say it, to strike up the analogy. Sleeping Beauty, indeed. At first, he had been confused. Who was Sleeping Beauty? He'd had his answer soon enough. Rose Granger had been helpful enough to supply him with the children's book. Ironic wasn't the word to describe what he felt while reading the muggle fairytale, nor when her father told him that it had been her favourite bedtime story as a child. No, ironic wasn't the word. It went far beyond that.
The book had got him thinking – rather foolishly, actually. Ever since reading the story he'd come to think of her as his Sleeping Beauty. And so he began to wonder, wonder whether the story held any merit. He was getting desperate by this point and knew that he had to at least try. If it worked for Prince Phillip, then why not him? Could a kiss really be all it took? Merlin, he'd felt like a right arse afterward when she just lay there as still as ever.
He was twenty-six when it finally happened. Cedric had been running late at work, his day had been beyond hectic. Everything that could have gone wrong did. It had been raining, so he'd been soaked, carrying a limp bunch of daisies in his right hand when he'd seen them. Rose and Hugo Granger…in tears. Immediately he'd thought the worst and his heart began to stutter. She couldn't be, could she? To even think the words were unimaginable.
That's when he saw her. For nine years he sat by her bedside, waiting for the moment she opened her eyes. He had thought that she was beautiful then, but now – now she was radiant. She sat there, smiling lightly, her dark brown eyes curious as the nurse wheeled her down the hall. Though he was struck, shocked into a blinding silence of disbelief, he wondered why she was in a wheelchair. Of course, she was in a wheelchair; she hadn't used any of her muscles in nine years.
Her eyes continued to lock him into place, tired but curious. She wasn't even listening to what the Healer was saying. Cedric was at a loss of what to do, what to say. He'd waited so long to see those eyes looking up at him, and now that they were, he didn't know what came next. Hermione Granger was awake and staring at him. It was like she knew, in some impossible way, that he had been by her bedside everyday for the last eight years. If he'd been allowed to at Hogwarts, he would have visited her then too.
"Cedric Diggory?" were her first words to him, confused and questioning. He hadn't trusted himself to speak, so he'd simply nodded. "Why do I feel like I know you?"
And that had been it, the start of their friendship. Her return to the world of the living had been hard on her. There was so much she didn't understand, so much she couldn't comprehend. Her friends were married, Harry to little Ginny Weasley and Ron to Lavender Brown. They were married with children. Hermione had tried to be accepting, to smile and pretend to be happy for her two best friends, but he'd seen it in her eyes. She was miserable.
He'd held her as she cried, whimpering quietly. She had so many insecurities, so many mixed emotions. Shouldn't she be happy that the war was over, that her friends and family were alive and happy? No matter what he'd said, she just continued to cry. There was so much she'd missed out on, so much she didn't understand. She felt like the odd one out, like she didn't belong. Cedric refused to let her believe that.
They started dating after six months, reluctantly on his part. He'd waited so long for her to finally be awake and in his arms, but he didn't want to rush her. She'd simply laughed and kissed him. Three years later they were married. It had been a quiet, intimate ceremony with only a select few family and friends. He preferred it that way and so did she. Everything had seemed so much more personal.
He could still remember her walking down the stairs, looking like a goddess on her father's arm. She'd worn a simple white gown, made of faerie silk curtesy of his mother and father. The way it shimmered, casting a pearly sheen into the light had momentarily captured his attention. Not for long though. He could see nothing but her, her blinding smile, warm brown eyes, her button nose, freckles and all. It was like seeing the sun for the first time.
And now he was here, watching her sleep like he had so many times before. Sometimes he'd stay up just to watch her wake, to see her eyes flicker open and a warm, sleepy smile stretch across her face. He watched just to make sure. Cedric was still haunted by the memory of her still, unmoving frame, and he had to be sure that her eyes would open in the morning. If they didn't, Cedric didn't know whether he could go back to that life, to just watching her.
She was curled up in the hammock that swung from their porch. The moon cast a gentle light on her face, giving her a glow that seemed ethereal in quality. Her left arm was wrapped protectively around her slightly swollen stomach, while the right held their five year-old son close to her chest. He was nestled in as close as he could get, tiny arms wrapped around her neck as he breathed evenly. Their hair melded into one, he couldn't tell which was hers and which was his. Michael was every bit his mother's son. They had the same hair, the same eyes, the same love of books and learning.
Smiling slightly, Cedric moved quietly toward the pair, summoning a quilt from their bedroom. Laying the chequered blanket over his sleeping family, Cedric realised that he was truly blessed. To have not only his son, but his wife, his Sleeping Beauty, meant everything to him. He would be lost without them.
Well, what did you think? Any good? Should I write an accompanying piece, another one-shot, about their time together after she first woke up?
Thanks for reading :)