Like Luminescent Dawn from the Shade of Night -Aariya
Rating: NC-17 :For now it's R, but the rating will go up in later chapters!:
Pairing: Harry Potter/Cedric Diggory
Genre: Romance, Drama, Mystery
Summary: Cedric just wants to know what the big fuss is about the new student but gets more than he bargained for: love…and a closely guarded secret of such great import that, if let out, could plunge the wizarding world into chaos.
Warnings: AU; slash; Powerful/Dark!Harry
Spoilers: Information from all seven books. However, know that everything changed was done so consciously, and is not a mistake on my part; I have done my research.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and everything associated with it belongs to J.K. Rowling. The song "Breathless" is borrowed from Shankar Mahadevan, used here in the story's title and the lyrics below. The song "Tu Hi To Meri Dost Hain" is written by Gulzar, used here for Part I's title.
Part I. The Moonlight Often Hums in the Night
When I met someone, it seemed to me that
a season of songs, a rain shower of colors, pervaded my whole world;
One more minute, then lunch.
It was awfully difficult to concentrate on Herbology when he was so hungry. Whose idea was it to give him a class right before lunch? He would gladly exchange his free period in the morning for Herbology any day. His Head of House continued with her lecture, completely oblivious to the fact that everyone had turned off their brain twenty minutes ago.
Thirty seconds, then lunch.
"Hey, Cedric," his best friend and fellow Hufflepuff, Andras Summers, tapped his arm and leaned in to whisper, "Davies wanted to know if it's true what they're saying about you and that Beauxbatons girl."
"What Beauxbatons girl?" Cedric returned, his eyes still on the time he'd charmed onto their worktable. He glanced up to see the two other boys at their table staring at him interestedly along with Andras.
"You know, Cho Chang," Andras replied.
Cedric scowled. He was getting tired of people asking him that. And he didn't particularly care for the Ravenclaw Quidditch captain's curiosity. "Fuck Davies," he spat. "He's the one spreading these stupid rumors. Cho and I talked once since the Yule Ball. And that's about it."
"Yeah, at Hogsmeade. In plain view," Andras reminded dryly.
"She greeted me. Was I supposed to be rude and turn her away?" Cedric argued.
"Well, then, don't wonder where people get this. You didn't even tell me when I asked you about it," said Andras with an exaggerated pout. "Generally, when you say nothing, it's something."
"Well, in this case, it's most definitely nothing. Cho and I are not dating and will not be doing so in the near or far future," Cedric said with finality. "Davies can have her if he wants her so badly."
The beautiful ring of the bell sounded and all the boys quickly gathered their things to leave. Professor Sprout didn't call after them or try to stop them as they scurried out. She wasn't in the habit of giving homework on Fridays, and it would be pointless as they were beyond listening.
"You go ahead. I need to drop my things off," Cedric told his friends as they headed back to the school from the greenhouse.
"Sure," said Andras, shrugging.
Once they reached the Entrance Hall, they went their separate ways. Cedric went up the stairs to get to the fifth floor. As he suspected it to be, it was empty in the dorm when he entered. The other twenty-four boys never stopped by before lunch. Which was good because he wasn't in the mood to see Roger Davies right now.
Walking toward the spiral staircase by the windows in the common room, he ascended to the Head's Suite. All that he had done at Hogwarts Academy for Wizards was just so he could stay in the Head/Prefects Dorm. During his fifth year, he had become the Hufflepuff prefect and had earned the right to keep his position once he'd gotten to his sixth. And then he had beaten the other seven House prefects for Head Boy this year.
His goal had been the Dorm and he had ended up with the whole Head's Suite all to himself. Even his father hadn't reached that far. The Head's Suite had its own guarded entrance, a small common room with a cozy study area, a large bedroom, and its very own bathroom that had a connection to the Head/Prefect's bathroom two corridors away from the Dorm.
It was decorated tastefully in Hufflepuff colors, black and yellow, with some whites to balance it off. The overall feeling of the suite was elegance. The sofas in the common room surrounding the fireplace were of black leather and a luxury to sit upon. At the center of the circle of sofas was a black oak coffee table with pretty little yellow designs of cherry blossoms decorating the underside and legs.
Life at Hogwarts was good—despite its lack of girls—and he sure was going to miss it when he graduated. But that was still nine months away so there was no point in thinking about it.
Once in his suite, Cedric left his things at his desk then crossed to the bathroom to quickly wash up. After lunch, he usually had a thirty-minute break before his next class and he liked to spend that time unburdened so he could hang around.
The staircases seemed to be conspiring against Cedric on his way to the ground floor. Some of them led him elsewhere when he traversed them and the swiveling staircase changed courses several times while he was still on it. By the time he made it to the third floor, he was sure fifteen minutes had been wasted.
So useless. What is the point of these things? Cedric thought in frustration, his hunger having reached an all-time high. He hurried down the corridor, unmindful of the unusual amount of traffic on the floor for lunchtime.
It wasn't until he turned onto the Charms corridor that he noticed the amount of students milling about and chatting animatedly. Many of them stood at the windows looking out onto the front drive. The more he walked, the more students there were.
He almost walked past the Charms classroom, but stopped in his tracks once he glimpsed that there were more people in there than even out in the corridor. Clusters of boys stood at the large window overlooking the best view of the Hogwarts gates. Cedric, interested in what was going on now, entered the room. He found a clear spot at the window and looked out.
Down below, just a few feet away from the gates, stood Professor Sirius Black. He had a wide smile on his handsome face and, though it was hard to tell from way up here, his gray eyes gleamed with a kind of happiness Cedric had never seen before. As Professor Black was habitually a fun-loving man, that was saying something.
Despite being unable to see the tall—but not quite as tall—figure before him, Cedric could guess that all that joy was directed at the person. This person had two trunks and an empty owl cage at his feet. That meant that either he would be staying for an extended period of time, which was quite a rare occasion, or he was a new permanent addition to the castle, which was completely unheard of.
Yet, the fact that this might be a new student was the more likely of the two. From the back, Cedric could tell the figure was young, nineteen at the latest. He had a broad back, but not yet broad enough to be a man who was in his twenties and had grown into his shoulders. He possessed the form of a lithe, lightly muscled athlete who didn't do much physical workout but let playing sports take care of it.
Very dark black hair reached just the tip of the nape of his neck with some of it curled in on his ears, looking like spun silk under the bright sunlight. It appeared as though it were tamed with a flippant air, as if he'd tried to keep it perfectly flat but decided halfway through that he liked it better just the way it was. Cedric suspected that if it were shorter, his hair would be rather uncontrollable, but he seemed to have worked it out relatively well.
His posture, however, was excellent, belying a formal refinement that contradicted his assessment of a youth less than twenty. Pureblood maybe? One who was somehow related to Professor Black?
Professor Black clapped the person on the shoulder and made as if to usher him toward the school. The person bent to pick up the trunks and owl cage, but the professor stopped him, waving him off and, Cedric suspected, telling him the house-elves would see to his things.
Then Cedric could finally see the face of the boy as he turned around to follow Professor Black into the castle, and the noise level in the Charms room picked up. Cedric was inclined to agree. The boy was absolutely breathtaking—there was no other word that would do justice. Cedric himself had been called a number of things ranging from handsome to pretty, but he felt even those words fell short in the face of such beauty. It was otherworldly; a perfect blend of chiseled and fine features that it was a shame Cedric was only now seeing such a creation.
He had a thin face, set with high cheekbones, and a defined jaw that was connected to an extended neck. His longish bangs curled slightly into eyes that were the most arresting pair of emeralds. He was very pale, but not sickly so, almost in a luminescent sort of way.
As he strolled down the grounds with Professor Black, Cedric saw that he had utter command of his body. Every motion seemed almost calculated in its grace. Next to the boy, Professor Black—whom Cedric had always thought had an easy poise about him—seemed ungainly and bouncy.
When he could no longer see either of them from the window, Cedric began to wonder who the boy was and what his purpose was at Hogwarts. Had the other students known he was arriving? And, if they had, why were they so eager to see this person? What was so special about him?
Cedric's stomach decided to make its displeasure known then and, a little embarrassed and hoping no one else had heard that, he abandoned his thoughts and the room to go see about satisfying his much neglected hunger.
The third floor corridor was not the only place the students had gathered to catch a glimpse of their latest visitor, though. There were even more on the grand staircase, loitering about the Entrance Hall, probably having sighted the new arrival when he came in, and some flooding in through the double doors as well, adding to the babble.
Bemused, Cedric descended the stairs, trying to comprehend the significance of it all. Other than being extremely good-looking and apparently close to their Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Cedric didn't understand why everyone else was talking about the boy. Nonetheless, as he continued his journey to the Great Hall, he caught snatches of thrilled conversation between his schoolmates.
"It really is him! I heard Professor Black say so!"
"Did you see it? It's right there, just as they said it would be!"
"Why do you think he's only starting now?"
"My father works with his and he tells me he has some illness so his mother homeschooled him."
"You think that's from the spell?"
Cedric became more confused after each person he passed. What was the big fuss? Who was this boy that everyone seemed to know?
Hoping this mystery would be solved—and looking forward to finally eating—Cedric entered the Great Hall. Luckily, his curiosity hadn't delayed him too long as the food was just being served. He glanced up at the High Table in search of Professor Black on his way to the Hufflepuff table, but the man was nowhere to be seen and neither was the boy that had been with him.
"Where you been, Ced?" Andras asked the moment he sat down. "The Dorm isn't that far."
Reaching to fill his plate, Cedric was on the verge of answering when a group of sixth-year boys sat a little ways down the table from them, discussing something none too quietly.
"Apparently he's going here from now on. I just heard Weasley telling Thomas he's Professor Black's godson," Ernie Macmillan confided pompously to the rapt attention of the other boys.
Justin Finch-Fletchley appeared uncertain as he said, "I've heard the story as well, but I don't understand why he's only being seen now for the first time if he's so famous."
"Ou are they speaking of?" Étienne Renouf, another of Cedric's closest friends and one of the many students from France, asked. He wasn't the only one to have been attracted by the talk as their whole side of the table was listening in.
"Harry Potter." The answer came from fellow Quidditch player and seventh-year Daniel Summerby, who was just situating himself in the seat across from Cedric.
There was a frisson of shock at the name, one experienced by anyone who'd heard, which was everyone at the Hufflepuff table and some in other tables—who were no doubt passing it on to their neighbors, signaled by the sudden escalation of the noise level in the hall. Cedric also was beginning to make sense of all that he'd heard so far. When the Boy Who Lived was being publicly sighted for the first time since his capricious defeat of the Dark Lord at the tender age of fifteen months, there was bound to be much excitement surrounding the occasion.
"Harry Potter?" Andras echoed disbelievingly. "Here?"
Daniel nodded. "Yeah. He just came in with Black. By the looks of it, he'll be starting as a student here." He poured himself a drink, seemingly uncaring of the effect his words had had. Cedric had always admired his equanimity, even if it was frustrating at times, especially before a big game.
"Why now? Isn't he at least sixteen?" Kaelen Stebbins put in. "What is the point of going when he only has two years left?"
Now, though Cedric was interested, he was not one for gossip, so he did not mention what he'd heard a couple of blokes saying about Potter having an illness that had prevented him from attending sooner. It could be spot on or complete rubbish, and, if that were the case, he would not be involved in fanning the flames of that potentially harmful rumor. If it wasn't common knowledge, then there had to be a good reason behind all the secrecy around the Potter heir's total absence.
As it were, he didn't have to reveal that little tidbit as Daniel had evidently heard it, too, and had no qualms about sharing it. The information drew some sympathy from his Housemates and the table was soon rife with it. Cedric couldn't help feeling a little pity for the guy. He couldn't imagine being so well-known and then only coming out in public after fifteen years and being subjected to all this attention.
Even if Hogwarts was an all-boys school, the students here could gossip with the best of them. Though, admittedly, Cedric himself was just a tiny bit curious as well.
The rest of the day at Hogwarts was spent speculating about their visitor and, hopefully, new schoolmate. Cedric could not go anywhere without hearing about Harry Potter—his looks, his supposed illness, his defeat of the Dark Lord. A select few were only given a glimpse of the elusive Boy Who Lived, but everyone already had plenty of ideas about him.
By the next morning, most of the castle thought themselves pretty well-educated on the subject. These people, however, were proven wrong when breakfast came, and Cedric along with them.
It was Saturday and Cedric was looking forward to a day of relaxation. He left the Dorm with only Étienne, as their usual companion, Andras, loved his sleep and would not miss a chance to catch up on it. He wasn't the only one since almost three-quarters of the hall was empty when Cedric and Étienne walked in.
Cedric was just getting settled at the Hufflepuff table when his eyes fell upon the High Table. Among the usual line of professors, there was a new face, seated between Professor Black and Professor McGonagall.
Beside him, Étienne must have noticed, too, because he whistled lowly. "Is that 'im?" he asked, his light accent hard-won after six years. "Ee is very beautiful."
Cedric rolled his eyes; expect Étienne to be so straightforward about it. It was common knowledge that the French boy's gaze regularly strayed to his schoolmates, despite already having a boyfriend in Slytherin, fellow French student Zacharie Lefèbvre, who was equally as indecent, actually.
Though even Cedric, who'd never before looked at blokes that way, couldn't help thinking the same thing. There was just something about Harry Potter—beyond even his beauty—that made one take notice.
Breakfast was coming to an end and almost the entire school was in the hall, all discussing Potter as though he weren't sitting there, when Headmaster Dumbledore stood to address them. Everyone was immediately silent before the old wizard even began to speak.
"Thank you," the headmaster said with a gracious smile, his blue eyes twinkling as always. "I'm sure you are all curious about our guest here," he continued, gesturing toward Potter, who was standing up from behind his seat along with Professor McGonagall. "As you've speculated, this is indeed Harry Potter, and he will be, from here forth, attending our fine academy as a sixth year. So, please, bear with me a little further as he is Sorted."
No one would have left anyway even if he had told them to. They'd all been looking forward to any news they could get about Potter. The confirmation that he'd now be one of them was enough to once again animate the hall. Conversation died right away, however, when Professor McGonagall produced the Sorting Hat from somewhere below the High Table and placed it upon Potter's head.
The room was silent with eager anticipation as they waited to see what House would be the proud recipient of the Boy Who Lived. Potter himself was the picture of calm while the hat deliberated. Even when a whole minute had passed and everyone else was becoming impatient, he stood composedly waiting for the results.
Finally, when it seemed as though the hat was going to decide Potter was unfit for this school, its mouth opened at the seams and it shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!"
The Gryffindor table promptly exploded into loud cheers and applause. Cedric continued to watch the High Table for reactions, noting the reserved but relieved expression on Potter's face, the very proud, exalted one on Professor Black's (with a smile wide enough to crack his face to boot), the pleased expressions on both Professor McGonagall and Dumbledore's, and the oddly distinct disappointment on Professor Snape's face. The others were easily explained, but Cedric could not fathom why Professor Snape would be upset that Potter turned out to be a Gryffindor. Surely, he hadn't wanted him to be a Slytherin. Had he?
"Thank you for your patience; you are dismissed," the headmaster said above the enthusiasm of the Gryffindors. "Mr. Diggory, if you could please come here, I would appreciate your assistance."
Confused as to what the headmaster wanted with him, Cedric stood from his seat. His friends threw him questioning glances, but he had no idea either and had no answers for them. Cedric navigated through the throng of students exiting the hall still chattering about the Sorting. The professors at the High Table were also departing, leaving only Potter and the headmaster. Cedric came around the table to stand beside them when Professor Dumbledore gestured for him to do so.
"What can I do for you, headmaster?" Cedric inquired, standing before the older wizard.
"I apologize for inconveniencing you on your day off, Mr. Diggory," the professor began, "but Harry here is regrettably unequipped for a school environment, and we would be grateful if you could help him get situated and comfortable."
"That is no problem, headmaster. I would be happy to help," Cedric said sincerely. He was Head Boy for a reason, after all.
The professor smiled widely, eyes twinkling evermore. "Excellent! Thank you, my boy." He turned to the thus far quiet boy beside him. "Harry, this is Cedric Diggory, the Head Boy."
Harry Potter was even more stunning up close, especially so when he gave Cedric a small, kind smile and nodded. "Pleased to meet you."
The first thing Cedric noticed when Potter spoke was his accent. It wasn't English, but had some type of Scottish emphasis. Cedric was sure he'd heard it before and tried to place it. Scots-Gaelic, if he remembered correctly. One of his father's coworkers had a very thick Scots-Gaelic brogue. Potter's was much softer, though, but still glaringly noticeable to any English speaker.
"Pleasure to meet you as well," said Cedric, returning his smile.
"Well, Mr. Diggory, I'll get out of your hair. You can do whatever it is you believe is necessary to help Harry adjust," said Headmaster Dumbledore. He paused, and then he leaned slightly toward Cedric, and locked very serious eyes on him over his half-moon spectacles. He murmured so lowly that Cedric was certain Potter couldn't hear, "I advise you to be careful with him, Mr. Diggory. There are people who are very protective over young Harry, and would do anything to keep him safe."
Cedric felt an imperceptible chill travel down his spine. He watched warily as the headmaster smiled mildly while he bid them farewell, and then leave after a pat to Potter's shoulder. Whilst Cedric was no fool, he found it hard to believe the feeling he just got of Albus Dumbledore threatening him. Even so, it was hard to shake off the impression the warning had given him.
Aware that Potter was patiently waiting for him, Cedric set aside this concern for later. He turned to the younger boy and suggested, "The castle is overwhelmingly large for any newcomer, so how about we start off with a tour?"
"I am amenable to that," Potter replied in a rather proper manner.
Cedric inwardly shook his head. There was no mistake that Potter had never been in a school environment. No one spoke quite so rigidly here, even purebloods who believed themselves the epitome of refined. He would soon loosen up, however, if he were to be surrounded by raucous Gryffindors on a daily basis.
The two of them never got quite as far as the double doors because Professor Snape accosted them halfway down the hall. Cedric noticed the smile Potter bestowed upon the most feared professor in Hogwarts. Yet more surprising was the soft look the Potions Master returned before his expression became the normally implacable one everyone was used to when he turned his gaze on Cedric.
"Diggory, a word." His tone brooked no place for argument. He cut Potter a glance when he stepped forward and added, "Alone."
"Is something the matter, Sev—" Potter began to ask worriedly.
"No. I will have him back in one piece," Professor Snape interrupted, inciting an amused smile from the newly-Sorted Gryffindor. Potter nodded and backed down. Cedric wasn't as confident about this assurance.
He followed the professor a bit nervously, though he hid it well. Like the rest of the school, Cedric practiced a healthy amount of caution around the Potions professor, especially as the man was not overly fond of Hufflepuffs. But Cedric was one of the few non-Slytherins Professor Snape tolerated, even on those bad days when Slytherin lost a Quidditch match, particularly to Hufflepuff. He couldn't imagine what he'd done all of a sudden to deserve the man's ire.
Professor Snape led him far from Potter, past even the point where there was no possible way the sixth year could overhear their conversation. Cedric stood before him as the man scrutinized him with his intense coal black eyes. He tried very hard not to fidget under the probing gaze.
At last, just as Cedric was thinking of impudently—because it would be seen as impudence by the strict man—asking what he could do for the professor, he spoke, "The headmaster tells me Harry will be in your care for an undetermined amount of time."
It wasn't a question. He'd phrased it in a way that made it sound like he already knew it to be true and was doing Cedric the courtesy of getting him on the same page. Cedric hadn't known the time would be undetermined, but he didn't want to seem as though he were disagreeing with either professor so he nodded.
The professor made a noncommittal noise, gaze still practically drilling a hole into him. "In that case," he drawled, his voice dropping into a silky caress that didn't help Cedric's anxiety, "it would be terribly remiss of me not to inform you how prudent it is to consider the ramifications should your service be anything less than satisfactory."
Cedric thought he did an admirable job of keeping the alarm off his face. The professor must have seen something either way since his expression became more stern, what with the way his eyes were honed in on him.
"Do I make myself clear?" the professor questioned, one austere brow raised. "Surely, even one of your unfortunate classification can understand that."
Cedric bristled inwardly at the jab to his House, but did not give him the satisfaction of reacting, especially when the man was basically trying to intimidate him. "Yes, professor," he said promptly, jaws clenched but his face a blank slate. "I understand perfectly."
The Slytherin Head of House's thin lips curved into a smirk. "Good," he purred coldly. "We shall see, then. Shan't we, Mr. Diggory?"
Without waiting for a reply, he swept out of the Great Hall in a flurry of billowing robes, leaving the two of them alone. Cedric disbelievingly contemplated what had just happened. What was it with these respectable (or not so much in the Potions Master's case) professors threatening the Head Boy, essentially the embodiment of all the characteristics valued in today's students? He'd doubted that the headmaster had been doing so, but now that he'd encountered another threat because of Potter, he was sure Professor Dumbledore had been doing just that.
The headmaster had not been kidding when he'd professed that there were 'people' who were very protective of Potter. He'd just not been counting on the universally accepted git of Hogwarts to be one of them. If the mildest professor at Hogwarts and the unfeeling Slytherin who despised Gryffindors were doing this, Cedric dreaded what threat he'd receive from Potter's godfather, who though normally jovial was notorious for his temper.
He'd certainly not signed up for this when he'd unthinkingly accepted this position of trying to get Potter assimilated into this foreign setting. Not thinking things through was absolutely unlike Cedric. He'd just been so drawn to Potter from the first moment that he couldn't resist (besides it would have been hard to refuse the headmaster).
Cedric was reminded of the oft-quoted expression, "Curiosity killed the cat." And there were only so many threats he could get before his nine lives ran out.
Potter came to join him and broke his contemplation by worriedly asking, "Are you all right?"
Cedric snapped out of his reflections and turned to him, a little surprised by the honest concern in his green eyes. "Uh, yeah. Sorry, I was just lost in thought."
"Are you sure?" Potter persisted, studying his face carefully. "Was it something Severus said?"
Cedric was taken aback. Severus? How close was Potter to the Potions Master to refer to him by his first name? The professor wasn't known for his warmth and giving anyone that kind of permission seemed unfathomable. This was the first time he was even thinking the man's name without an honorific and his surname attached to it.
"Ah, no. Nothing like that," he lied, unwilling to make a big deal out of it. "Shall we start the tour, then?"
Potter appeared not to believe him, but he nodded anyway. "If you are sure."
Cedric led Potter out of the Great Hall and was met with no further disruptions. In fact, he gave the younger student a thorough guide of the entire ground floor, dungeons (only briefly), and the courtyard before they were once again stopped on the first floor by Professor Black while in the Defense corridor.
"Harry!" he called happily from down the hallway as he came out of the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom and walked over to them. "I see you've met our resident superstar."
Potter glanced at him, and Cedric only just managed not to blush. Professor Black had a new name alluding to Cedric's popularity among the students every week. He was only glad it was said in jest.
"Though, you might want to watch out, Diggory. Harry'll be giving you a run for your money," the Defense instructor continued, winking at him.
Potter uneasily voiced both their embarrassment, "Sirius…"
The professor guffawed his usual bark-like laugh at their discomfiture. "Sorry. I only kid, of course," he declared rather unapologetically. He glanced between them then curiously asked, "What're you up to?"
"Cedric was generous enough to offer to show me around the school," Potter informed, smiling appreciatively at the Head Boy.
Cedric felt heat pool in the pit of his stomach, both at his given name coming from Potter's lips and the beautiful smile directed at him. He fought to keep the blush working its way up his neck from traveling to his face at the unexpected reaction. Noticing the perceptive look Professor Black was giving him, Cedric quickly turned away from the man's godson.
That, however, did not stop the warning that came anyway.
"Yes, that's very nice of him," he commented indifferently. He then grinned at Cedric and cheerfully cautioned, "Anything happens to my godson while he's in your care, Diggory, and I'll rip you apart. Got it?"
Potter gasped, appalled. "Sirius!"
Innocently, he turned to said godson. "What? I'm only stating the facts."
"You can't say that to him! He's been nothing but kind to me," argued Potter, raising his voice for the first time since Cedric had been with him.
"Good. We won't be having any problems, then," the professor returned nonchalantly, as though threatening his students were an everyday occurrence.
Another threat made to him within five minutes of meeting Potter. It was some kind of record, especially as Cedric had never been threatened before in his life. He'd always been relatively well-liked.
Frankly, he'd thought he'd receive something much more dramatic from Professor Black, seeing as the man was Potter's godfather and not exactly known for his docile temper. In a way, however, it was much worse than the other two; blunt and said with surety. Cedric could actually believe the professor would swiftly follow through on his threat.
"I'll keep that in mind," said Cedric coolly, sounding unbothered, which earned him a challenging smirk from the professor and an amused quirk of the lips from Potter.
"All right, I'll be going, then," the Defense instructor announced. He gave Potter a one-armed hug and added, "Come by later, Harry."
Potter smiled at him. "Okay."
Professor Black nodded at Cedric. "Diggory, I wasn't joking." Gray eyes glinting mischievously, he winked at him and walked off quickly, leaving before Potter's admonishments could reach him.
"I'm sorry about that," Potter apologized immediately after. He added uncertainly, "I'm sure he didn't mean it."
"It's okay," said Cedric, smiling at the Gryffindor. "I'll take good care of you so there's no need."
Potter blushed lightly and Cedric promptly carried on with the tour to avoid the same fate.
I'll take good care of you? he thought incredulously, disbelieving such sap had spewed forth from his mouth. It couldn't get much cheesier than that.
Cedric stopped analyzing his behavior around Potter once he got further into the tour and began to relax, allowing his usual calm, collected composure to come through. But this was only accomplished because he was distracted by the abundant amount of knowledge he knew about everything Hogwarts as he rattled off the statistics to Potter. He'd practically memorized the whole of Hogwarts, A History before his eleventh birthday, so enchanted that he'd been with the castle.
What was odd, though, was how genuinely interested Potter seemed in the guide, especially all the unnecessary details Cedric threw in. He hung on Cedric's word and asked questions and even requested that he elaborate on some things. When Potter commented on how educated Cedric was on the subject, he'd joked about his almost-obsessive fascination with Hogwarts, A History as a child. Instead of being put off by it, Potter had asked where he himself could find the book. Before he'd realized it, Cedric was offering his copy for the new student to borrow.
By the time it got close to lunchtime, Cedric had shown Potter almost all of Hogwarts but for the rest of the castle grounds. After arranging to show him the grounds after lunch, he took the sixth year to Gryffindor Tower so he could at least get to know his House before he was to eat with them.
"I really appreciate you doing this for me," was the first thing Potter said to him as they came to a stop before the portrait of The Fat Lady. His bright green eyes gazed at him from underneath his lashes and Cedric was struck by the pure intensity of the color. "You obliged me when you did not have to. You were very informative, and I thank you for that."
A bit embarrassed by the wholehearted gratitude and at the emotions those eyes were stirring in him, Cedric waved it off, "I was more than happy to do it."
Potter's accent was softer when he told him in a low voice, "You are very kind, Cedric." He hesitated, a worried look on his face. "I hope you do not mind that I call you Cedric. If so, I apologize."
"No," Cedric quickly reassured. "You may call me Cedric. I don't mind."
Potter blinked before giving him a timid smile. "In that case, I would like it if you called me Harry. Unless, of course, you do not wish to."
He really hadn't expected for Harry Potter to be so friendly. Not that Cedric was sure of what he'd been expecting, but it certainly wasn't that he be so polite, demure, affable, and intelligent. Maybe, as much as he tried not to, he'd formed his own conclusions based on his Sorting. Had Potter been a lot more like most of the people in his House, Cedric would not have been the least bit shocked.
"I would like that," Cedric said, smiling back, not minding at all that his subconscious expectations had been disproved. Harry Potter really was something else, and Cedric thought him lovely just the way he was. (Not that he customarily thought of boys as being lovely, mind.)
"Mr. Diggory," a commanding, unmistakable female voice spoke from down the corridor, "there you are."
Both he and Harry glanced in the direction of where the tall Transfiguration professor was walking purposely over to them.
"It is good that I caught you," she said once she came to a stop facing Cedric. "Harry's rooms shall not be in the tower."
Mystified, Cedric inquired, "Where will he be staying, professor?"
Professor McGonagall looked at Harry, her eyes softening as though magically, a magic that seemed to be cast upon most of the professors when it came to the Boy Who Lived. "His quarters are already set up," she informed. "Come, I will show you where."
A fleeting look Harry's way revealed that he hadn't known about this, but now had suspicions as to where they were being led. They didn't go far from the Gryffindor Tower, only about two corridors away. It was in a corridor with three large oak doors equally spaced out down the hallway. They followed the professor to the door in the middle.
"This is where you shall be staying from now on, Harry," Professor McGonagall informed the younger student. "Should you need anything, know that Sirius and I are close by." She gestured toward the doors on either side of the one before them. "And, of course, Albus is not far either," she added.
Harry nodded in understanding, smiling softly at her. "I know. Thank you."
Professor McGonagall gave him a quick nod. "Why don't you go inside and get acquainted with your quarters, I need to speak with Mr. Diggory," she strongly suggested.
Harry looked between them interestedly. "I'll see you later, Cedric," he said, moving to open the grand door behind him.
"See ya, Harry," Cedric called after him. He turned his attention back on the Transfiguration instructor, readying himself for what he just knew was about to come.
Any warmth the professor might have had on her face left completely the moment the door to Harry's room closed. She gave the Head Boy a look she typically reserved for her more rowdy students, not one as venerated as the academy's prized student.
"Now, Mr. Diggory," she began, "I'm sure you've been told this enough today, so I won't waste mine and your time repeating it. But I cannot impress upon you how important it is that you take the job you've been given very seriously, because should anything happen to Harry on your watch, I will hold you accountable."
Cedric was beginning to understand that the headmaster had not simply wanted him to get Harry comfortable, but had given him complete responsibility over the boy. What he did not get, though, was why Harry needed all these people watching over him so closely. Did it have to do with why he was only starting school now and why he hadn't been seen since his defeat of You-Know-Who? Were those rumors of his illness true to have people this overprotective of him? So protective that they didn't allow him to sleep with his Housemates but positioned him between two professors' chambers.
"Do I make myself clear?" Professor McGonagall asked, her face taut.
Cedric nodded very seriously. "Yes, ma'am."
The headmaster had given him a duty he thought was critical enough to have his Head Boy focus on it so immensely, and Cedric wasn't going to disappoint. He would watch over Harry like a hawk if need be, and even more so if he actually were sick.
The morning after, Cedric separated from Étienne once they left the Dorm. His friend continued on to the Great Hall and Cedric climbed the stairs to the seventh floor to Harry's room. He'd not told Harry that he intended to escort him to breakfast, but hopefully the Gryffindor hadn't left yet. He knew Harry wasn't in need of further assistance to find his way around the castle. The boy had shown yesterday that his memory was beyond excellent as he'd remembered everything he'd been shown and told to the minute detail.
He knocked only once on the door when Harry swung it open. He appeared as though he'd been awake for a while. He was dressed in his school uniform for the first time. He needn't wear it on a Sunday, but Cedric had a feeling Harry was the type who dressed formally even when he didn't have to.
"Morning, Harry," Cedric greeted. "Mind an escort to the Great Hall?"
"Good morning, Cedric," returned Harry, the kind expression the older boy was getting used to on his face. "That would be wonderful, thank you."
Cedric waited outside while Harry went back in for his robes. When he came out, he was wearing the standard Hogwarts issued black robes with a Gryffindor crest.
"Do you know what classes you'll be taking?" Cedric made conversation during their walk to breakfast.
"Yes; Defense Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Potions, Herbology, Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, Charms, Astronomy, Care of Magical Creatures, and History of Magic," replied Harry.
"Ten classes?" Cedric asked incredulously. "That's a bit much for a N.E.W.T.s student."
"I have yet to receive my O.W.L results so I've been asked to take all the classes that interest me until I do," Harry notified him.
"Did you take the exams only recently?" Cedric asked.
He looked at Harry, taking in the casual way he walked beside him. Besides the four professors who'd threatened him, Ron Weasley, and Neville Longbottom, Cedric seemed to be the only other person Harry was this unguarded around. He'd gathered that the Gryffindor wasn't overly comfortable around the other students and was very rigid when in the vicinity of those he didn't know. Being out of the public eye for most of his life had obviously had an effect on him.
Harry returned his gaze, a sort of trust in his eyes that Cedric felt humbled to see directed at him. "Yes. I took them in July when I learned I would be attending Hogwarts this year."
Cedric would have liked to ask him why he'd taken the test so late if he indeed had been getting homeschooled and should have kept up with standard mandatory exams. But he didn't want to abuse whatever trust Harry had in him by trying to confirm a rumor and instead dropped the subject.
The Great Hall wasn't very full when the two of them entered; nevertheless, everyone inside immediately turned to them. Cedric, after only a day, was already starting to get used to people eyeing him as though he were an intriguing specimen whenever he was with Harry. He'd always gotten his fair share of attention, there was just more when the Boy Who Lived was beside him.
Harry, on the other hand, was still visibly discomfited by all the people ogling him. It made sense if he hadn't had the chance to get used to his celebrity status in the wizarding world and was only now being thrust in front of them for their viewing pleasure.
"Thank you for your assistance, Cedric. I'll see you later," Harry expressed his gratitude again. He quickly went to the Gryffindor table and sat beside Weasley to escape the eyes on him.
Cedric too walked over to the Hufflepuff table and sat beside Étienne. The French prefect was giving him a shrewd look Cedric didn't care much for.
"It seems that you 'ave gotten quite close to the new student," Étienne commented, one dark blond brow raised tauntingly.
"You could say that," Cedric agreed nonchalantly. "He's an easy person to get along with."
Étienne smiled haughtily. "I'll bet."
Cedric rolled his eyes, refusing to even entertain whatever the other Hufflepuff was insinuating.
He looked straight ahead to where Harry was sitting at the table in front of his. The Gryffindor sat on the side that was facing him, which gave Cedric a good view of him. All through breakfast, he kept stealing glances, trying not to do it, but unable to help himself anyway. His discreet looks went unnoticed by everyone except Harry, who returned it at times with his own coy glances.
He didn't know what it was about Harry, but something beckoned him to the younger boy. From the moment he'd seen him, Cedric had been hooked, and now it seemed he couldn't get enough.
I know all the things that are not canon with this. I've obviously turned Hogwarts into an all-boys school and Beauxbatons into an all-girls school (why, I cannot fathom; just to add a bit of interest in it, I suppose), and I've made Cedric's birthday in 1978, so he's only a year above Harry and two years older than him. There will be other changes and I would appreciate it if they weren't pointed out to me as I know what I'm doing.
This story is first and foremost a love story, with a dash of mystery and drama. It is as different from HTVL as it can get. Know that Part I will take place mainly from Cedric's point of view and that you'll see Harry's only very occasionally. This is to keep the shroud of mystery throughout the first twenty chapters.