Disclaimer: No ownership whatsoever over the characters and major story line, as they belong rightfully to J.K. Rowling
Note: The themes used are from 31_days at LJ for the month of November
Perhaps Forever & Almost Always
And promises of an eternity
-To leave behind all the suffering you've brought to me is so sweet-
The sun is nowhere in sight but its warm rays can be felt on their skin. Their legs swing almost in unison, back and forth with a carefree motion. Their intertwined fingers sit on the boy's lap and a tinkle of laughter escapes the girl when he brings her gloved fingers close to his lips in an almost innocent fashion. He pulls her closer to him and she squirms impishly to get away, almost toppling over in the process but his arm wraps around her in time before she falls to the ground from almost a meter in height.
"Planning top hurl yourself off here?" The voice is full of mirth.
"It's barely a meter."
"You'll probably hurt your ankle or your elbow in the process."
"Thank you for thinking less of my ability to fall on my two feet."
Cedric Diggory's body convulses in laughter. "Just being concern, Granger."
"Well, rephrase it, it sound awfully mocking."
"You are very mock-able." He grins.
"Sod off, Diggory." Hermione snorts in laughter and shoves the eighteen year old at his shoulder. This time, Cedric wobbles precariously and Hermione's grasp is a just a tad too slow to catch the sleeve of his shirt before the latter falls over and crashes into the snow with a loud thud. "Cedric!" Cedric groans as he rolls over onto his back. He looks up at her in a mixture of perplexed and pained expression. "I was – trying to bring the literal meaning to my words?" Hermione jokes feebly.
"Are you by any chance a closet bully?"
"I'm sorry, I really am. Are you alright? Did you break any bones?"
"You mean, 'did I break any of your bones'?"
The Gryffindor witch shrugs sheepishly, "Well, yes."
"Fortunately, my bones are still intact within their rightful location." Cedric smirks. He slowly pulls himself up to a sitting position and gradually stretches himself. "I imagine if you were the one to fall, we might hear a crack or two from your bones."
"Awfully evil, aren't you?" Cedric simply looks up with a nonchalant look. "Well, I'll prove your very words wrong, Diggory."
Before Cedric could ask how, Hermione pushes herself off the wooden fence that surrounds the Shrieking Shack. On a natural reflex, the Hufflepuff's arms shoot out to immediately catch her fall.
"Of all the childish things you could do, you choose to hurl yourself off a fence at a bruised Hufflepuff?" Cedric wheezes as he stares at the laughing witch in his arms, their limbs entangled in a mess. He watches as she pulls her long, dark hair from her face, shoulders still shaking with laughter. Her brown orbs' gaze falls onto him, brimming with mirth and amused delight. A grin crosses Cedric's lips.
"I couldn't think of anything better." The fifth year smirks. It is a Hogsmeade weekend and as Hogwarts' students walked around the quaint village, enjoying a butterbeer or two, or stashing up on sweets from Honeydukes, Cedric and Hermione chose to be away from the crowd and spend it at the Shrieking Shack's quiet grounds. Hermione's right hand playfully reaches up to the seventh year's hair to push his bangs away from his forehead. She starts picking small wayward locks of dark hair and pushes them around, making it in an incorrigible mess.
"Whatever are you trying to do?" Cedric asks incredulously yet he allows her to do as she pleases. He leans back with the palms of his hands supporting him as he watches the fifth year in amusement.
"Did you know next to Harry's, your hair is quite a mess?"
"Of course it is – when I have a Gryffindor witch who enjoys running her hand through my hair every other day."
"It's a nice feeling, as compared to my own." Hermione says defensively.
"But yours is fine the way it is."
"We always want what we don't have."
"Typicality of the human nature I reckon." Cedric shrugs. "But I beg to differ as an exception. Because I don't want any other from what I already have."
"I am not an item you can take possession of, Diggory."
Cedric gives her a bewildered look, "Whatever are you talking about, Granger? There was no mention of you in my words."
"It's in the context." Hermione answers with a smirk. Cedric laughs out loud. "Is it – not?" Hermione starts to feel slightly foolish now.
"Yes. Quite." The seventh years nods his head as he laughs again. "You amaze me, Granger. The things that you say, and do –"
"Alright," Hermione scrambles up with such swiftness that Cedric stops in his track of words, in wonder if he had said something wrong – again. His forehead creases in worry until a grin breaks out in the young witch's features. "You have honestly got to stop complimenting me because anymore of it and I think I'd be beyond the line of reality."
"Why? Is being in a dream horribly devastating?" Cedric teases. "Especially if said dream contains the charming presence of a dashing Hufflepuff." He wolfishly grins. Hermione laughs as Cedric tugs on her hands to bring her down to him again. She resists him, just like he knows she would, yet he keeps pulling anyway.
"You're about to pull my arms out of its sockets." Hermione says dryly as the soles of her snow boots digs hard into the snow to stand firm.
"Why do you even resist from falling?"
"Is that a literal or a figurative meaning?"
Cedric gives her a sly smile and without a word of warning, he suddenly lets go and gravity pulls Hermione backwards at the sudden lost of balance. She meets the ground on her behind with a loud thud and to Cedric's burst of laughter. "Are you alright, Granger?" He asks in between his laughs.
"Would you like to try that yourself to find the answer to your question?" The Gryffindor shoots him a narrowed glare.
"That," Cedric answers pointedly, "is a fair retaliation to the shove I've got minutes earlier and for the sudden impact of a weight on myself without warning." He pulls himself over to Hermione's side with an innocent grin. Hermione simply shoves him away again before stretching herself onto the snow-covered ground. The Hufflepuff simply follows suit, knowing full well her display of anger had been nothing but one in gesture of annoyance. He stretches out beside her and like a habit, his gloved hand seeks for hers.
Hermione feels the familiar touch of another's hand and instinctively wriggles her fingers around to wrap themselves around the hand. She catches sight of Cedric's small smile from the corner of her eye but she says nothing and quietly revels in the connection between the both of them. Brown orbs look up at the sky above and she sighs in contentment. Almost two months had passed since the day she allowed herself to fall for Cedric Diggory again – completely without a falling sense of doubt. The lad of eighteen has yet to gather their every memory shared together but the bits and pieces are falling into place gradually with each passing day. Still, Hermione couldn't help musing over her foolishness in thinking moments between them two had ceased its importance when he lost part of his memories. Instead, new ones are easily made each day.
Such as the time they studied in the library together before Christmas when she sat at their favorite table and he at two tables away diagonally from her. Cedric had literally sat on the table with one leg crossed over as the other swung in casual disinterest while his eyes never left the book in his hand whenever she looked over. But when she wasn't looking at him, his gaze turned upwards to her, watching her with quiet admiration. Hermione hadn't realized the Quidditch Captain's inconspicuous action until she suddenly looked up at a sneeze. Cedric had quickly looked away but not before a snort of muffled-like laughter escaped him.
"Were you staring at me?"
"Did you know that goblins raked up more wars than the giants, wizards and Muggles put together?"
"Yes, and don't dodge the question, Diggory."
"I wasn't staring."
"I was observing."
"Awfully funny of you."
A smile quirked at Cedric's lips as he shifted his gaze to her, his steel grey eyes hiding slightly beneath his dark hair.
Or the time when he walked her to the Gryffindor Tower on the day of her return to Hogwarts for the new term after Christmas holidays. She had been quiet and solemn due to the aftermath of Mr. Weasley's incident and how much Harry had been in connection to the incident – the disconcerted and worried feeling within her never left even as they returned to Hogwarts with Mr. Weasley recovering well at home and Harry still safe. Cedric had greeted her at the main doors with a euphoric smile but as he was about to drop his customary kiss on her forehead, he had noted her expression and opted to forgo the kiss but simply took her hand with a gentle nudge of fingers before wrapping around them.
Together, they walked up the stairs behind Harry and Ron, an understanding silence between the pair of young lovers. Cedric had been informed through owl of Mr. Weasley's incident and had taken to visit the Weasleys and her and although it had just been a day, his presence was more than enough comfort for Hermione. As they reached the Fat Lady's portrait, Harry and Ron went in first to give the pair a moment alone.
The Gryffindor witch was about to apologize to Cedric for her distant behavior when he turned to her with a touch on her cheek in a tenderness that conveyed how her apology wasn't necessary because he already knew and understood. "Have a good rest, Granger," he had said in a low voice, almost dropping into a whisper, "keep safe for me." Cedric lowered his head to her height and brushed his lips against her skin in the softest manner before leaving with a smile.
Of course, things weren't always affectionately blissful for the pair had their small share of argument and misunderstandings which almost drew them apart for days at times. There was once when she was furious enough to walk away from him, her levelheaded self ceasing its rational course. Cedric had been exasperated but he took deep breaths to clear his thoughts and for a few minutes, that was all he did before finally running after her. He had made it around the corner of a corridor that led to the other wing of the large castle to see the visage of the livid and upset Gryffindor witch's back walking furiously to the other end. With his windswept hair and almost breathless self, Cedric looked at her with pang of regret and a stinging feeling of disappointment at himself for being the cause of her upset.
"Granger!" She had stopped as soon as the word left his lips. "I'm sorry." For half a minute, Cedric was almost worried she might continue walking and ignore him but when she turned around instead with an apologetic small smile; his features break into a relief smile that mirrored his gladness.
"What are you thinking of, Granger?" Cedric's warm voice breaks her reverie.
"Good things I hope."
Hermione smiles and turns to meet Cedric's gaze. "Absolutely." She promises.
-Behind a forced smile, I harbor a grown shadow-
Valentine's had came around and left with Cedric Diggory unaccompanied by one Hermioe Granger who had been too busy with her plans for Harry's truth revealing article for The Quibbler. Not that Cedric had minded, he had understood the reason to her actions and fully supported it. In fact, the Hufflepuff was the first to know Hermione's plans as she presented the idea to him and asked for his opinion. She had wanted him to provide his account for the graveyard's incident too but couldn't bring herself to ask in worry that to recall the painful memory may cause an alarming trigger to his memories and thus hurting him in the process.
"Aren't you going to ask me as well?" Cedric smiled amusedly as he watched Hermione tie her hair into a ponytail.
Her hands dropped and her dark hair was left forgotten for a moment. "Do – do you want to?"
"I'm not going to have a mental breakdown with just a recollection of the nightmare." Hermione winced at his choice of words. "But thank you, for being concern of it."
"I didn't quite mean to – "
The Quidditch Seeker and Captain shook his head, effectively silencing her. "It's alright, Granger. I'd have chosen not to as well."
"Would you mind if I ask why?"
Cedric looked at the ground before looking up at her with a little quirk of his lips, his steel grey eyes held an uncertain look. "Because it would provide an inconvenient spotlight of interest onto me?" The look on Hermione's face grew apprehensive and curious. "I'm part of the Order now, Granger."
Her look of worry disappeared entirely as she flung herself into Cedric's arms for a relieved and congratulatory hug. "That's brilliant." She pulled back by a feet, "Since when?"
"A couple of days ago. I didn't tell you because I wasn't quite sure how you'd take it but if I knew you'd be as enthusiastic as this, I'd have told you sooner and save myself from the sleepless nights."
Hermione laughed. "Just promise me one thing." Cedric didn't have to ask to know what she was about to say. He simply smiled and nodded. "Keep yourself safe – for me."
Still, as much as Cedric doesn't mind playing the understanding role in the relationship, he does wonder in amazement of his patience for Hermione's constant escape to Harry's side in particular. He finds himself amused with her constant need to check on Harry and he even finds himself falling short on anger whenever she did so. Haden had joked his emotional nerve must have been damaged alongside his missing memories, to which the other boy earned a hearty smack behind the head for the comment. But Cedric saw how the undeniably close the pair are, or even as a trio with Ron Weasley. It was one and the other, or two – like a pre-packed of Chocolate Frog cards that you can't bear to separate because they seemed fitted together nicely.
Hermione still fits herself into periods of quiet time with him, in the library or by the lake or the quiet corridor by Dumbledore's office. She smiles and laughs each time she is with him, sometimes hurling a sarcastic remark or two when he says something equally teasing.
Nothing seems any different that he would notice of. Her face bears no hints of something within her heart that could possibly have her troubled. Hermione's hand still seek for his whenever he comes close, just as his own would. Their lips occasionally meet in a deeper passion and fascination for one another although with Hermione's virtue in mind, Cedric always ensures his hands never stray further from the blades of her shoulders and his kisses remain gentle yet inwardly passionate each time their lips meet.
Such as it is that it comes off as a bewildering situation for Cedric when he finds Hermione sitting alone in the library by the window at the far corner, a few weeks after Valentine's Day, with her face in her hands and her shoulders silently trembling. The Hufflepuff immediately goes to her side with a concerned expression. His hand carefully reaches to her shoulder so as to not frighten the young witch. "Granger?"
She doesn't look up even after a few minutes and Cedric finds himself suddenly desperate to be able to read minds or at least, have his wand with him to enable a simple incantation of a spell to get her to look up at him and tell him what is going on. "Granger, please. What's wrong?" A muffled answer greets him and the confused look etches deeper into his face. "I didn't get you, would you mind repeating that?"
Her silence brings him to sit beside her in resignation. In an unhurried manner, he places both his hands on her upper arm and pulls her close to him. She doesn't resist so he continues his action with a careful tug to bring her smaller frame to him. When her head falls onto his chest, still unwilling to look at him or to say a word, Cedric simply places his chin on the top of her head. The young wizard's arms go around her, wrapping her in their warmth and he feels Hermione curling herself deeper into the very warmth.
"When you are ready, just let me know." He murmurs softly with his chin still resting on the top of her hair.
They sit there as seconds tick away to become minutes before an hour passes. Being in the Ancient Runes section of the library help to avoid any disturbance of curious stares and chatters – something Cedric knew Hermione would appreciate to be away from.
"I'm sorry." Hermione's voice suddenly breaks through amidst the fabric of clothes and locks of hair.
"Unless you tell of the reason of your apology, I won't be able to decide if I should accept the apology or otherwise." Cedric jokes quietly.
"For being silent for the past hour."
"Apology accepted. Would you like to tell me why you hiding yourself in a corner of the library?"
The Gryffindor, without looking up at him, gingerly answers, "Harry's been having awful nightmares and they keep getting worse."
"Has he told Professor Dumbledore or even Snuffles?"
"He's trying to keep it to himself but I can see he's on the verge of breaking his sanity. There's this wild, dazed look in his eyes in the mornings after his nightmare. Almost delirious."
"Have you tried talking to him?"
Hermione shakes her head, "He keeps avoiding it." She suddenly moves and Cedric moves his chin away to avoid a collision. "I'm just awfully worried with his increasing nightmares. It sounds awful from what Ron tells me."
"Granger, you can't protect him from them, unfortunately." Cedric gently says.
"I know but," Cedric waits for her to continue, watching her swallow hard, "but I have a feeling that this could result very badly."
"We could lose someone." She whispers with a look of aghast. "We almost lost Mr. Weasley the first time Harry had those visions, and now – "
"You reckon Harry might be next."
"Him, and you."
Cedric pulls her close to him again, "Don't think those thoughts now, Granger."
"The both of you got away then and Voldemort," the name doesn't even bring a flinch to Cedric's being, "wasn't happy with it at all. Just look at the Death Eaters and – "
"The Order's doing their best and we're not going to allow Harry or anyone else for that matter to be harmed." The seventh year lets out a short, almost inaudible sigh. "Have you been plagued by this concern for weeks worth?"
"Granger, shouldn't your O.W.L.s be of your concern? Concentrate on that and let the Order worry about the rest. As for Harry, I'll talk to him. Professor Snape's helping him with Occlumency lessons, isn't he?"
"Granger, is there something else you wanted to tell me?" Cedric peers at the young witch's face closely.
Brown orbs looked at him with a desolate expression, "I had dreams of you. In it, you were the one who was found dead at the Ministry." Cedric finds himself wordless at her confession. "Don't you see, Diggory – I can't face the thought of losing neither you nor Harry, but it feels I would each time I see myself in the mirror and I see Harry." Hermione sighs and pulls away from the wizard to look out the window. The fifth year plasters her nose to the cold glass, smiling with the traces of melancholic hopes. Her fingers reach for Cedric and he knowingly comes closer and looks out the window with her. Their warm breath creates misty white traces on the glass as no word is exchanged between them. "We've got another two years in our school years, you with your last."
"If you are trying to imply that we should part ways now, it's a firm no on my part." A grin cracks at Cedric's lips despite the solemn tone of voice.
"No, I wasn't." Hermione shakes her head. She squeezes the seventh year's hand lightly, feeling the warmth enveloping her and rushing up to her every sense and knowing full well she never, ever wants to part with it. "But I was wondering how much longer do we have to be under this cloud of foreboding darkness."
"Perhaps it will be soon," Cedric shrugs, "or a few years."
"Perhaps even more." Hermione sighs. She looks down at their entwined hands. "Reckon we'll be to keep this up?"
"Not so much on the hand holding cause mind you, I reckon much I need my hand to write and hold the fork -"
The fifth year laughs and Cedric playfully tugs her to him and captures the young witch's lips in a second's worth of amused adoration. "Wherever it is that your adventures take you with Harry and Ron, I'll be there."
"You'll come along?"
"Possibly. But there are journeys which only the Golden Trio would have to make I believe, and during then, I'll be here waiting."
"You would positively need buckets of patience then."
"Try me, Granger." Cedric murmurs softly. He smiles as her brown orbs meet his.
"Let's try to make it through this year." Hermione's voice is hopeful.
"Whatever happened to forever and always?"
"Happy endings are never too easy within our grasp." Her voice doesn't falter from fear or anxiousness, but steady with confidence – letting Cedric know she isn't challenging him but merely stating a common fact yet one that she believes they can turn it otherwise.
"So we shall settle for the second best," he answers before adding, "for now."
"Perhaps it's forever, and almost always." His voice brims with optimism alongside a dash of hope. Hermione smiles in response and nods. Cedric drops a soft kiss on her forehead.
Happy endings aren't always within our grasp so soon – we can never tell what may change yet we can believe that no matter what, the pain, the anxiousness and the sadness will fade away one day and the smiles sought after for an everlasting moment of our life will gradually knock at our door. Hermione and Cedric hopes just as much.
A/N: Thank you to all who've been following this fic and for every kind support you've given. And to sum it all up for this fic;
"So the story goes, and it slowly comes knocking to discover its truth. Delving in the memories, while wishing and hoping on a dream - only to tumble helplessly. Yet we keep believing, like living in two sides of a coin; of unspeakable tears and hidden hurt, and of bliss in a safe haven. Yet it swirls in the past, and promises of an eternity."
Hope you've enjoyed. Happy new year and thank you again.