Cedric Diggory sighed heavily, he was busily packing his clothes ready to leave Hogwarts for the Christmas holidays. It was Christmas Day, the day after the Yule Ball. Almost all of the older students had stayed at Hogwarts over the holidays just to attend the Yule Ball, there had been a big festive breakfast in the Great Hall this morning, and everyone, teachers included, had been in high spirits. His own friends however, were feeling rather delicate. Having smuggled alcohol into the Yule Ball, they were suffering with hangovers this morning and were currently lying out on their beds still and quiet, staring at the ceiling.
Mikey groaned quietly, lifting a hand to touch lightly to his head as he turned to look at Cedric. "All packed then?"
"Nearly," Cedric said, running his hands through his sandy brown hair. "Are you sure you won't come with me? My mum will be glad to make room for you all?"
"No thanks," Frankie said with a yawn, "I couldn't possibly leave my new girl all alone over Christmas," he winked at Cedric. "I could earn a lot of brownie points for staying you know."
"I'm sure you will," Cedric replied with a grin.
"I'd love to go with you," Mikey said, struggling into a sitting position. "I'm leaving tomorrow to go to my Aunt's in Spain, believe me, it's not going to be fun. My gran will be there and she has a walking stick now and she's bloody lethal with it. She swings it around when she's talking and always manages to hit me with it no matter how far away from her I stand."
Frankie snorted and Cedric laughed. "Just me on my own then in a load of Ministry Festive Ball's. Lots of boring people talking about work. With most people staying at Hogwarts I'll bet I'll be the youngest person there!"
Cedric snapped the lid on his trunk firmly. He was only allowed to leave today via the floo network because he was a Triwizard champion and Dumbledore was offering him a little perk during the holidays and Mikey's father was high up in the Ministry, his father always arranged everything to suit himself and having his son home for Christmas suited him, so home Mikey was going. Mikey was being collected though and going straight to Spain where he would spend the Christmas period.
Cedric was only going home because his mother wanted him to. She had been pleased about the Yule Ball, but sad that she wouldn't have him home to fuss over, so his father had arranged matters with Dumbledore. It was a one off thing and Cedric was grateful for it in a way, with Mikey leaving tomorrow and Frankie involved in yet another fling with yet another girl he would end up joining various other groups of students at Hogwarts rather than be by himself, so really, he was better off at home where he could do whatever he wanted to do when he wanted to do it.
Also, it would give him some breathing space from Cho Chang. The pretty Ravenclaw was the year below him, and he had been spending a lot of time with her lately. She was fun to be around, she didn't giggle when he spoke to her and they'd had some very interesting conversations about Quidditch, politics and travelling. Cedric found he could converse with Cho on any subject and she had seemed a natural choice of partner for the Yule Ball, someone he would have a good time with. However, once he'd asked her, Cho had taken on a clinging quality that hadn't been in her before, she watched him talking with other girls so very carefully as if she was analysing his every movement and she always wanted to know who they were and how he knew them. She was beginning to wear on his nerves a little bit. A break between them might be just the thing they needed.
"Right, well I'm all ready," Cedric levitated his trunk and grabbed his backpack. "I'll see you guys in the New Year I guess."
"Guess so," Frankie replied gloomily. "Good thing Lara's here or I'd be bored out of my mind without you two."
Mikey narrowed his eyes as he glared at his friend. "Just stick to your own bed, Frankie. I don't want you getting it on in my bed."
"Nor mine!" Cedric told him firmly.
"Any objections to the floor, desk, wall or chair?" Frankie asked, his green eyes wide with innocence.
Mikey grinned. "Knock yourself out, mate."
"Cheers," Frankie grinned back and took a swig of water, rubbing his swirling stomach. "Drinking is not good for you,"
"No need to tell me," Mikey replied, touching his hand to his head again.
"You know what I was thinking," Frankie said as Cedric moved to the door.
"What?" Cedric glanced over his shoulder at his friend.
"One sure fire way to make your break interesting would be to have sex. Give your cock a Christmas present, Cedric, let him experience a few different women. " Frankie begged. "For once in your life let loose, Cedric," he continued when he saw the frown on his friends face. "Casual sex is great fun, providing your careful of course. We're still young, being with only a handful of girls all through our teens and twenties would be a crime! A waste!"
"I'd rather not get a reputation as an alley cat that'll stick to me for the rest of my life," Cedric responded. "Thanks for the advice though," he grinned.
Frankie threw up his hands with frustration. "Youth is wasted on the wrong people," he proclaimed loudly.
Cedric laughed. "I'll owl you both in a few days. See you both next year."
"Yeah, see you next year," Mikey called back.
"Have fun!" Frankie's voice echoed down the corridor, "I think I'm going to throw up!"
Cedric was bored out of his mind. As soon as he had arrived home, after the hugs and kisses off his mother she had informed him that there would be a party tonight in his honour seeming as he was a Hogwarts Champion. "Everyone will be there, darling," she had said, and immediately Cedric's heart had plummeted to his toes. That meant his fathers Ministry work colleagues would be there talking about official Ministry business and his father would brag him up and insist on him telling everyone about the first Triwizard task over and over again until everyone at the party could act it out for themselves.
He was not the youngest person at his home, there were quite a few young children running around the Christmas tree and playing together and there were some girls around his age, maybe a year or so either way between him and them, but they bored him senseless as well and he didn't stay in conversation with them very long.
Wandering idly from the kitchen with a cut glass goblet in his hand, Cedric made his way into the front room where most of the guests had congregated. Weaving his way among the laughing people he found himself in line with the Christmas tree and what he saw there stopped him dead in his tracks.
A young girl with dirty blonde hair and the biggest, wide spaced blue eyes he had ever seen stood to the side of the tree gazing up at the glittering star on top. She wore a silver dress with a high neck and cut away back that fell over her figure right the way down to the floor, and it shimmered in the light as she moved.
Moving almost trance like, Cedric went up beside her and cleared his throat to announce his arrival. The girl tilted her head to look up at him, she didn't seem surprised to have him materialise at her side, and no flicker of recognition crossed her face. Those blue eyes looked up at him dreamily, although slightly on the large side, the wide spaced setting gave her an almost exotic look, and the innocent dreaminess made her seem younger than she actually looked.
"Hi," Cedric greeted her when it became apparent she was not going to speak first.
"Hello," she responded, turning her attention away from him and back to the tree. "Lovely tree isn't it?"
"Um... Yeah, I guess so. My mum did a good job with it this year," Cedric said, extremely shocked to discover a hot flush washing over his body from the soft, dreamy voice.
The girl turned back to peer up at him, her blue eyes examining his face very carefully. "Oh yes, your Cedric Diggory,"
"That's right," he confirmed, searching his memory for a name to go with her face. She looked vaguely familiar, but Cedric couldn't place her, he wasn't sure if he even knew her. "I'm sorry, but I can't recall your name," he confessed.
"No, I don't suppose you would. It's been many years since we last spoke," she said quietly.
So he did know her, Cedric realised as he stared down into her face intently, but he couldn't for the life of him remember her. "When did we last speak?"
"At my mother's funeral," she told him, reaching out and plucking a stray hair off the sleeve of his robe.
Cedric shifted uncomfortably. "And when was that?" This was probably the worst conversation he'd had with any girl in his life! He wasn't coming across very well at all!
"Around seven years ago. I'm fourteen now, I was nine at the time. Luna Lovegood," she added when she saw he still didn't know her name, although she could see he had memories of the funeral.
"Oh yes, I remember. You've certainly grown up," Cedric bit his lip mortified. How could he have said something so ridiculous and patronising? She may certainly be older than the last time he had spoken to her, but she was still four years his junior. That meant she was off limits to him.
Unfortunately for Cedric, all he could hear was Frankie's voice echoing in his head telling him to have sex, to let loose and Luna Lovegood was the first girl in a long time to pique his interest. Of course, just because he wanted her, Cedric knew that didn't necessarily mean she wanted him, but in his experience, he very rarely came up against a turn down. He just attracted girls, it was the combination of his deep grey eyes and wavy sandy hair, his athletic body and easy manner that just seemed to charm them. Getting girls and dates had never been any problem for Cedric. Luna being younger than him immediately put him at a disadvantage, she might not be interested in boys yet, let alone be willing to jump into bed with him.
Cedric's hormones however were currently raging through his body not taking a blind bit of notice of the common sense part of him. He wanted to reach out and touch the bare, delicate white skin of her back. He wanted to run his finger tips down her spine and see what reaction that caused in her, and he didn't just want to touch. Cedric wanted to taste her flesh, press his lips against the small of her back and see what happened.
Swallowing, Cedric pulled his mind back into the present just as Luna started to speak again.
"Yes, I suppose we all grow up at some point don't we. It's sad to leave the innocence of childhood behind, but it's all part of living a life I suppose."
"Hum, I suppose." The only part of that sentence Cedric was able to focus on was the innocent part. His mind ran wild wondering if she was still innocent. Just because Luna was young was no guarantee of such a thing. From what he could discover girls were getting younger and younger in being willing to participate in sex.
"You're not very articulate are you?" Luna observed, a slight smile curling the corners of her lips.
A light flush crept into Cedric's cheeks but he smiled back easily. "That's not exactly my fault."
"Oh? Whose fault would it be?" she wondered, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
"Yours." The word left his mouth before he could stop it and Cedric mentally kicked himself. He should not have consumed so much alcohol tonight. Just because he was bored didn't mean drinking was the answer, except that it had felt that way earlier in the evening. Besides, Cedric knew he was far from drunk, he was good at holding his alcohol, he'd had just enough to drink to make him become a bit more open, and say things he really shouldn't say.
Luna's eyes widened slightly in surprise. "Me? What did I do?"
"You are very distracting," Cedric replied, his hazy grey eyes sweeping her body swiftly, the alcohol in him kicking in and suffocating his sense of decency.
"Oh," Luna appeared unconcerned with the comment. In fact, she didn't seem to pick up on any hidden meaning whatsoever. "I've never been called distracting before. Is that how you would describe me?"
"Exactly the way I would describe you," Cedric replied, jamming his free hand into his pocket to stop himself touching her lower lip that was pouted in thought.
"Well," Luna began thoughtfully. "As I don't know you well enough to have a firm opinion of you, I'll just stick to an observation and say that you are very handsome, Cedric,"
"Do you really think so?"
"Yes, why? Does that bother you?"
The total opposite was in fact true. "If that's what you think," Cedric began slowly, curling a hand around her elbow and guiding her away from the tree towards the door. "Would I be safe in assuming that you would be attracted to me?"
His fingers smoothed over her bare elbow as they walked and Cedric was satisfied that her skin felt just as soft as it looked. This was far from enough contact for him, he really wanted to put his hands on her body and make sure that every inch of skin felt the same.
"That's a very common mistake, Cedric. You see, it is possible for a girl to appreciate your good looks but not be attracted to you," Luna explained mildly.
"What?" Cedric felt his little bubble of hope deflate in an instant. What hope was there for him if she wasn't attracted to him in the slightest?
"Didn't you know that?" she gave him a sympathetic look. "Never mind, now you know for the future don't you?"
"Do you include yourself in that?" He demanded, he still hadn't really gotten an answer to his question.
"No, not at all. But it is possible, Cedric." It didn't seem to faze Luna to admit her attraction to him at all, she stated it clearly and openly as though she had told him it had just started to snow outside.
"I'll admit it's possible," he agreed. "So long as you aren't one of those people, I can live with it," he grinned at her and she laughed.
"I don't see what difference I make in the grand scheme of things."
Guiding her to a secluded corner of the hallway, Cedric took his wand from the inner pockets of his robes and moved a small bundle of mistletoe across the ceiling to dangle above their heads. He was surprised to hear Luna's gasp of dismay as she tugged on his arm urgently.
"Send it back! Don't bring that stuff over here, it's invested with Nargles."
"With what?" Cedric stared stupidly at her.
"Oh please send it back, Cedric. I don't want Nargles around my head. They really are dreadful little pests and daddy will simply go mad if I take any home with me after he worked so hard to get rid of our infestation."
"I've never heard…."
"I'll lend you the copy of The Quibbler in which daddy did a feature length special on them, that will give you all the information that you need about Nargles."
"I see." Cedric hid his smile and sent the mistletoe back at Luna's request. So much for silly -romantic- that -ended -up -looking- rather -cheesy -gestures. He recalled then that Luna's father ran The Quibbler, he hadn't made the connection when she had told him who she was. The story on Nargles didn't seem so odd coming from her now.
"I suppose we'll just have to do without mistletoe then," he murmured, storing his wand back into his robes and cupping her face in his large hands.
"Were you planning on kissing me, Cedric?" Luna asked him, her voice full of interest.
"Among other things that were on my mind," he muttered, tilting her head back and lowering his mouth towards her. "You don't object do you?"
"Well, I think I might," she said, curling her fingers around his wrist and drawing her head back from his hands.
Cedric blinked, confusion crossing over his face. "But why? You did say that…"
Luna took a step back, interrupting him with a flick of her wrist. "Oh I'm not saying that I won't let you kiss me. Just not right now. It's not the time yet."
"It's not?" Cedric shrugged his shoulders and gave her a lopsided grin. "Seems like the time to me."
"No, the crystals were quite clear, our first kiss would not be when we first re-met," Luna told him firmly.
"The crystals?" Now Cedric was completely baffled by this strange girl who caused such wild desires in his body. "Are you a Seer or something?"
"Not exactly, maybe when I get older the Sight may come to me, but I doubt it. It would be nice though. I'm very adept at Divination." She leant forward and said in a stage whisper. "I took a little peek into our future. I know I shouldn't have, but I couldn't resist."
Cedric was interested in spite of his scepticism on the subject of Divination. He felt that only true Seer's had the Sight, it could not be taught. But still, an open mind was a knowledgeable mind, and if this was the way in which to get his hands on Luna Lovegood then Cedric would go down the road of Divination. At least he would know how long he would have to wait, it might make it easier if he knew how close to getting her he was, because Cedric was happy to admit that he really desperate for Luna and hoped she wanted him too.
It was incredible, this unmistakable pull he had towards a girl who was, when all was said and done, a complete stranger to him! Somehow, in only this brief meeting, she had enchanted and drew him more than any other girl he had ever known.
Frankie had spoken before of an instant attraction between two people, he had experienced it during the summer holidays and couldn't wait to tell his friends on his return to Hogwarts. Frankie had told him it had been an instant animalistic urge, pure raw, unadulterated sex with someone you just had to have no matter what. Frankie had said that all it took was one look and they had both known what was going to happen.
Cedric didn't know if this was the feeling that Frankie was talking about. Luna didn't give any indication that she was aware that he was feeling the things that he was, and although there were animalistic thoughts running through his mind, Cedric couldn't say he felt that pure sex was the way he wished it to go where Luna was concerned.
Pushing thoughts of sex from his mind, Cedric said, "What did you see then?"
"Another party," Luna told him, "In a big hall, it was very fancy and I think we were there together, at least I saw us standing together. I made the assumption that we had gone together."
"So we shall," Cedric informed her. "That's probably one of the Ministry's parties, they have one every night over the Christmas holidays for one thing or another. My dad works at the Ministry so we always go. How would you like to accompany me to a party every night this week?"
"I'd like that," Luna smiled radiantly. "How lovely."
"Tell me, did the crystals tell you which party I'd get my kiss at?" Cedric asked, leaning against the wall and crossing his arms over his chest, a smile playing across his lips.
"No, but I can tell you."
"Go on then, enlighten me," he laughed at the mischievous look on her face.
"I think I'll keep it as a surprise," Luna said airily. "Oh, and it's coming up to midnight, I'd better be running along home, if I'm going to be out every night with you I'll need the rest,"
"You can't leave," Cedric complained, trailing after her as she moved effortlessly between the thinning crowd of guests. "I'll be bored. Besides, it'll drive me mad all night if you don't tell me which party it will be."
Gathering up her skirts to ensure that they didn't catch on the fender Luna stepped into the fireplace and picked up a handful of floo powder. "I told you, it's a surprise. It's not necessary for you to know everything at once, Cedric."
Cedric frowned, "You know."
"I took the trouble to look," Luna reminded him, her eyes dancing with amusement. "I'll see you tomorrow, Cedric. Have pleasant dreams."
With those parting words Cedric watched her disappear in the dancing green flames. His face twisted into a grimace and he nodded at his mother who was waving him over to say goodbye to some guests.
A small satisfied smile twitched at the corners of his lips, he knew exactly what he was going to dream about tonight, and he couldn't wait until tomorrow!