A/N: Another holiday request completed! Haven't written these two in a while so I'm a bit rusty, but I hope it's acceptable! For spike2151
Leave of Affection
Cedric Diggory, plainly, is what her father would have called "a silly goose."
Hermione sat across from him, her fingers playing at the hem of her skirt just like she did when she was a third year and he had caught her sneaking out of the library past curfew. Yes, he was especially entertained by that ("Little Miss Granger causing trouble in the dead of the night? How scandalously delightful!").
She shook her head, her new haircut brushed lightly against her shoulders. "Mr. Diggory-"
"Mr. Diggory." She gave a warning glance and he just smiled back in the most infuriating manner. "Is there an actual reason for your summon or can I go back to work?"
Sure, most people in the ministry thought her insane to roll her eyes at the ever-so-dreamy Cedric Diggory and become exasperate with seeing his Adonis-like face day after day. They didn't understand, though. Sitting across from him brought back all the insecurities she had as a misfit in school. The staring and the teasing - she never could handle those very well. "Hermione - can I call you Hermione?"
"Hermione, I was going through some year-end paperwork and I noticed that you haven't taken a single vacation day this year." He still had that way about him - his hands crossed neatly in front of him, his light eyes steady with an easy smile on his lips. Before, he was threatening her with detention in the most teasing way possible and now, he was telling her to leave. "I'm concerned."
"I don't see why you should be. It just means that I haven't gotten sick which, to my knowledge, is still considered fortuitous." She picked at the dirt beneath her fingernails and stopped immediately when she noticed his amused grey eyes behind his glasses. "Was there anything else?"
"As I said, Hermione-"
He paused, rested his chin on his hand in the most casual manner, before he continued. "Hermione, I am concerned for your personal well-being. You simply are working too hard. A girl your age should be out on the weekends with the boy you fancy and leaving work promptly at five o'clock. You see Parvati Patil is always bolting out the door the second the minute hand strikes twelve."
"That's all well and good for Parvati Patil," Hermione spit her name out as though it were poison. That girl never changed from her days at Hogwarts. "I, however, am actually concerned about my work."
"And of course, as your manager, I appreciate the dedication. I would just prefer it if my favorite and best researcher didn't work herself into an early grave."
At this, Hermione, like an indignant peacock, ruffled her feathers and sat up just a bit straighter. "I assure you, Mr. Diggory, that I most likely lead the healthiest lifestyle of everyone in our building. Now if that's all-"
"Prove it." She stopped mid-step, halfway between his desk to the door of his office, and spun around.
"And how do you propose I do such a thing?"
She regretted the words the minute the flew out of her mouth and into his canary-smile trap. Unlike Ron, who outright infuriated her to the point of red-faced, screaming matches, Cedri-Mr. Diggory had a way of entrapping her into saying exactly what she didn't want. It was enough to make her want to pull all her curly hair out.
With a wave of a wand, a piece of paper floated before her with small black letters. "An exam? You realize who you're talking to, correct?" She felt as though she should almost be offended. After all, Hermione had broken every academic record there was to break. Her OWLS and NEWTS were nothing short of miraculous. She sighed, if this would get him off her back...
She took a seat across from him again and accio'ed a quill from his desk. He looked at her with his chin rested on both hands now, just like a child would sit if he were watching his mother work on the kitchen counter. She rolled her eyes again and turned back to the paper.
First question: What is your favorite cuisine? Hermione's somewhat bushy eyebrows furrowed. What is this? She skipped to the next question. What is your favorite color?
"What is this?"
"Oh Hermione, I'm surprised at you. I thought you were a genius at quizzes."
She pouted her lip and stood, now even more indignant than before. "I will not stand for this sort of ridicule and humiliation. Have a good day, Diggory!"
She almost made it out of his office when she heard the scratch of his chair against the wooden floor and felt his hand clasped softly around her wrist. "Please, don't go." She looked back at him, an obvious mistake. Where Ron had the face of an impetuous lion cub when they argued, Diggory always combated her stubborn personality with sad, recently-kicked-puppy eyes. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I just thought- I just thought it would be easier..."
The way the pad of his index finger brushed against her pulse soothed her and her knees unlocked from their confrontational stance. "Easier for what?"
The usually mischievous and confident Hogwarts champion suddenly looked down and avoided her eyes. His hand came to scratch just below his hairline. "I've been trying to... but you're always... really, Granger? You really haven't noticed?"
"Noticed what?" She was becoming increasingly annoyed. "Spit it out, Diggory."
"Come out to dinner with me."
She was glad for the door behind her for surely, she would have fallen right to the ground in shock. Did that just happen? Did Cedric Diggory just- no... but then he... What?
"All you have to do is say yes."
He made it all sound so easy. Of course he would, Mr. Golden Boy. Mr. Popular. Mr. Here-take-this-quiz. "It's not that simple."
"Yes it is." He took both of her hands in his. She felt warm all over, but boiled in his hands. "Just say, 'yes, Cedric. I, the most intelligent and lovely girl you have ever met, would love to dine with you' and then I will jump in joy and stop this nervous chattering and-"
"Yes." It was the school girl in her who wanted to pounce on the teasing prefect. It was her second chance.
"Good day... Cedric."
She slipped out quickly, her heart still pounding when she reached her office. She brought a hand up to her face and felt the flush of her cheeks.
Perhaps she should take a day off.