Prompt for this chapter is Hurt.
Everything about the day was typical. Above Hogwarts, the sky was a dark overcast, heavy with rain. It reflected morosely off of the murky lake. Even the grass and trees seemed dull. They had arrived one by one, sad and sombre, dressed in blacks and worn house colours. Cedric's casket lay ready beside the grave, the only object pristinely white on that grey day. His countenance no longer appeared bewildered, or terrified. His eyes had been closed, and his mouth had been transformed into a wan smile. He was the only one to seem remotely happy.
Hannah never understood why morticians did that. Made the dead smile. As if they were pleased with the way their lives had turned out. Maybe some were, if they'd led long, happy ones. But Cedric? Was he happy that he had been killed at the age of seventeen?
She doubted it.
In her hands, she clutched a small scrap of parchment. It was for the casket. She didn't know what had gotten into her, but she wrote him a note, thanking him for his help all those years ago. If only she'd said it sooner.
Hannah absently looked off towards the knot of teachers speaking in slow, solemn whispers with Mister Diggory. If it weren't for her own inexplicable sorrow, she would have wondered how these teachers had all come to be so affected by the death of one student. How could one death hurt so many? When Professor Flitwick met her watering eyes, she turned away.
He watched the students impassively, taking in their drawn faces and worn eyes. They looked as he felt—helpless, and scared. Mister Diggory's death was not simply an accident, and though he did not want it to be true, he knew that Mister Potter's words — the Boy-Who-Lived's words — held weight.
The Dark Lord was back.
Filius remembered those days too well — days when he only felt safe within the confines of Hogwarts, days when children went home for summer break and didn't come back. He'd fought, they'd all fought, but mostly he remembered being terrified that he wouldn't survive the week. That was war.
"Remus," he greeted his old co-worker sombrely. "I'm glad to see you, but sorry that it had to be in this way."
"I'm sorry too. The boy… it's a shame to lose him so young."
"He was a good lad, yes."
"There are his parents. Excuse me."
Filius watched the former professor drift towards the couple, who wore drawn faces. Maybe Mister Diggory's death would bring some attention to the cause, his mind floundered. Maybe he could serve a purpose.
The idea made him sick.
He tore his eyes away from the parents, self-conscious about his pattern of thoughts. This was a young boy, a child… Mister Potter had already been shouldered with too much responsibility. How could he shift his burden to a memory?
Hastily, Filius excused himself from the group and left. He couldn't be a part of the service anymore. The professor was too preoccupied to feel the eyes on him as he strode towards the castle.
Luna watched him go impassively. She was seated away from the other attendees, alone.
She hadn't slept since the maze. Not a wink. She hadn't bothered covering the bruises under her eyes, either; she was quite confident that no one would notice them. Everyone was wrapped up in their own feelings. Not that it mattered what anyone did and said now. Not to Cedric.
He was dead, after all.
She glanced around at all of the others, each and every one of them carrying a weight of emotions. Grief. Remorse. Pain. Desperation. Every mourner, however, was bound with one feeling: fear. Fear of what had happened. Of what was coming.
Luna didn't want to be afraid, but she was. She believed Harry with her whole heart, of course she did. But she was one of few. There were those that disregarded him, who scoffed and laughed. Ironic, thought Luna without emotion. They must have been the most terrified of all. Deep down, they knew. Everyone knew, but no one would see….
She grew distracted when she saw a familiar face pass by.
He had been afraid that he would be late, but there wasn't much activity there. Remus slowed his footsteps as he neared, lingering long enough to gaze at the boy in the casket. A child, still, he mourned, barely old enough to understand what his death means to the entire Wizarding World.
"Your son was one-of-a-kind," he told the parents, sincerely. "I'm sorry for your loss."
As much as he would have liked to stay for the whole service, however, Remus knew that a storm was coming swifter than anyone there dared to think. They were too frightened to understand what lay right in front of them — a young man in a casket. Another war.
He turned to go, brushing past students and teachers alike.
Severus was one of them, though he wouldn't have greeted Remus pleasantly if it were part of his job. Grimly, the potions professor surveyed the other attendees, all pale and shivering in the afternoon rain. In the distance, Malfoy stood with his nose turned in the air, other Slytherin boys flanking his sides. Severus inwardly cringed. As much as he helped the students in his house, he saw their lives turning into his own, and he was powerless to stop it.
"There you are, Severus. I didn't see you in the crowd."
He greeted Dumbledore lowly, arms crossed over his chest to keep himself warm. The silence between them spoke of all the worry and guilt he carried, and when the Headmaster placed a hand on his shoulder, he thought that he would collapse under the weight. "This charade has gone on long enough," he begged at once. "The war has to end soon. It must."
The man nodded, wearily. Snape recognized his frailty and age, something he never thought he'd see from his mentor. "You have always been too hasty, Severus. I cannot end it. Only Mister Potter can."
He ducked his head to hide the annoyed twist to his mouth. Even after Diggory's death, Potter was still the centre of attention. Typical. Dumbledore always looked at the big picture, but all Snape could see was Cedric Diggory's mother fighting back her tears.
Draco was doing his best to maintain his casual stance. It would do him no good to show everyone how panicked he felt. Instead, he did what he knew best. He jested. Someone's hair was hideous from the rain. Come on, which one do you think will start crying first? Find all the Weasleys. He couldn't stop these words any more than he could stop the rain. Honestly, he didn't hate Diggory, or anything about the boy. He just wanted to feel anything but the anger and hurt that threatened to overwhelm him.
Then he set his eyes on Diggory's girl.
"Blimey, I've never seen a girl that red from crying," he chortled. "Hope it doesn't stay that way, huh, mates?" Crabbe and Goyle laughed, but Zabini was eerily silent. "You see her, Zabini?"
"Yeah, I see her. Why are you laughing?"
He might as well have slapped Malfoy across the face. "Look at her," the blond sneered suddenly, pointing out the Ravenclaw with an accusing hand. "She's blubbering like a child. You don't think it's funny?"
Blaise was nearly grinding his teeth with fury. So many people here were hurting. The boy's bloody parents were not ten yards away, and Draco bloody Malfoy was taunting a crying girl. "A student was murdered," he finally stated, as coolly as possible. "No, I don't think it's very funny. And if you do, then don't talk to me anymore." Before the blond could find any further argument, Blaise stormed away, right past the girls. He was done pretending to be one of them.
What's wrong with him? Katie thought as she watched him rush by. He looks pissed. Whatever it was, it wasn't really her concern. Today was already too much for her to handle.
"Cho, are you ready to see him yet?" She rubbed her hand comfortingly across the girl's back, but she didn't respond to the words. It was still too early, she supposed. Although… if it were her, would she be able to say goodbye? Nothing would hurt more. Katie felt selfishly lucky. She hardly knew Cedric. He was just the boy that she'd run into on the pitch a few times, that was all.
"Come on," she said, helping the girl to her feet, "we'll do it together."
Cho seized her arm with a quaking hand and let herself be led to the coffin. A few hands patted her on the back — students, teachers, and some that she couldn't see through her tears. Before her, she saw swarms of colours, all of the flowers that people had sent.
Then, finally, she saw him. He was so beautiful… still, so beautiful…. With a quaking hand, she reached for his cheek. Cold. She brushed the pad of her thumb just under his eye, ignoring the tears that slid from her eyes as they mingled with the rain. This was the last time she would ever see him.
"Cedric," she whispered.
Then she choked out one last goodbye.
Again, inspired by John Donne's little speech "No man is an island…." Thanks again to Lost in the Lies for the challenge, prompts AND characters (gosh, practically written for me, huh?). You can listen to all the songs that I titled the chapters after by clicking on the link on my profile page.
Finally, as always, please review!