Notes: AU, Multi-chapter, Set during the trio's Hogwarts years
Disclaimer: I am just but merely a fan of the universe created by J.K. Rowling.
"Was I deceiv'd, or did a sable cloud.
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?"
- John Milton
Though sunlight was streaming through the large windows of the library, which created an idyllic and conducive atmosphere for reading, it didn't take Cedric Diggory at all long to realize that concentrating was almost, if not completely, impossible. The sixth year Hufflepuff blew a stray lock of his dark hair away from his face in slight frustration as he willed his attention back to the book in his hands– all to no avail. It seemed that despite all his efforts, his gray eyes simply refused to cooperate since apparently, what they preferred to be doing was to wander off and fixate themselves on a certain female Gryffindor sitting a few tables from where he sat.
Merlin, if he didn't know any better, he would have started to think that he was becoming some sort of voyeuristic creeper. But it wasn't like he could help it, anyway. It was kind of hard not to stare at someone that looks that downright pissed.
Even from a distance, Cedric could see that Hermione Granger was mumbling something (most probably unpleasant, he assumed) under her breath as she buried her nose under a rather thick and heavy looking tome. Granted, she may very well just have been simply mouthing the words she was reading but the narrowed eyes, tense shoulders, and don't-come-near-me vibe she was emanating told Cedric that the former was much more likely than the latter. Then there was also the fact that whenever she would write something, the quill in her hand would fly across the piece of parchment with about as much force as that of a rampaging hippogriff.
No doubt about it. He was pretty sure no one has that much... vigor towards homework, unless, of course, something was of the matter. Even that fraud, Trelawney, who practically lived in her own little world, would have noticed that something was bothering the fourth year.
Cedric unconsciously flinches when the parchment finally rips in half. With an annoyed huff, Hermione repairs it with a wave of her wand.
He knew he was wasting precious time watching her like this. He was, after all, supposed to be researching for the Triwizard Tournament, hence being awake at such an early hour (it was barely seven in the morning), and on a weekend no less. He knew that every second lost might mean missing out on a new spell that could very well propel him to victory for the first task. Or that every minute spent being distracted might be the trade-off for locating an important fact that could give him a leg up over the other champions.
Despite all these realizations, however, Cedric didn't – or rather, couldn't – tear his eyes away from Hermione long enough to redirect his attention back to the book in his hands. This innate curiosity of his really was both a boon and a bane – perfect for motivating him, but rather unpleasant for when it starts to interfere with his priorities. Cedric makes a quick glance to an old antique clock hanging on the wall to his far left and to his utter dismay, he sees that he has apparently already been in the library for a good fifteen minutes and still had yet to finish reading a single page– no, a single paragraph, even, of the book in his hands.
"A little piece of advice, if I may."
The voice largely startles Cedric, enough to make him jump slightly in surprise, and he takes a deep breath to calm himself. Armed with a scowl, Cedric slowly turns around to face the source. Standing before him, a dark yellow school bag slung over his left shoulder, was Phillip Pierce, his best friend and quidditch teammate, looking at him with twinkling eyes and a very amused smirk.
"Impart on me some of your great and all knowing wisdom then," Cedric replies dryly, a little miffed at having been caught so off guard.
"Well, being Hogwarts' resident pretty boy obviously has left you with little to no adequate spying skills to speak of, what with you always being the target of the spying and not the one doing the actual spying–"
Cedric cuts him off, "Get to the point, Pierce. That is, if you even have one, I mean."
"What I'm trying to tell you," Phillip starts to say as he plops himself down on the chair beside Cedric's, "is that it would probably look less conspicuous if you didn't hide behind a book that's upside-down," He points out helpfully, his lips breaking out into a full fledged grin.
Cedric's gray eyes dart to the book in his hands where he sees inverted letters staring back at him.
"Oh–" Cedric could only say lamely. "Uh, thanks for that." He mumbles, embarrassed, before flipping the book around. He feels his cheeks start to tinge a light pink.
"What are best friends for?" Phillip replies cheerfully before draping an arm across the Triwizard champion's shoulders. He scoots his chair closer and leans towards Cedric before curiously whispering, "So, which lucky female caught your attention, anyway?"
When Cedric doesn't reply, Phillip cheekily adds, "Oh, sorry, sorry. Was it a lucky male, then?"
But he was again met with silence.
This preoccupation of Cedric piques Phillip's curiosity. After all, it was unusual of him not to fire back a better comeback. As Phillip starts to wonder what exactly had gotten his best friend so entranced, he uses his green eyes to follow his best friend's line of sight, hoping it would lead him to an answer.
"Bloody hell, Granger?!"
The witch two tables down snaps her head up at the mention of her name and looks around, trying to locate who had called her. She takes a momentary survey of the area, which she sees to be generally empty, save for three softly snoring Gryffindor seventh years girls tucked away in one corner and two Hufflepuff boys in a nearby table who look thoroughly immersed in a book they were sharing, both their foreheads creased in apparent concentration.
Once Hermione returns her attention back to the parchment in front of her, Cedric drops the charade and hisses at Phillip, "Good job, she almost caught us!"
Instead of apologizing for his accidental outburst, however, Phillip shakes his head at his best friend with a frown, not looking the least bit abashed.
"You do realize you've gone absolutely mad, right?"
"Earth to Diggory!" Phillip raises a fist, almost as if he wants to knock on his best friend's head to see if his brain was still intact. Cedric unconsciously found himself backing away some. "She's a Gryffindor, Ced, a Gryffindor! Now, don't get me wrong, they're no Slytherins, and normally, I don't have anything against them but she's one of Potter's best friends!" Phillip whispers in a serious tone, not allowing Cedric to get a word in edgewise. "You remember Potter, right? The guy trying to steal your thunder?!"
If there was one Hufflepuff trait Phillip embodied, it was, without a doubt, that of loyalty. And his loyalty to Cedric practically knew no bounds. Funnily enough, Phillip was even angrier than Cedric when Harry was named as the fourth Triwizard Champion. Not that Cedric was even angry in the first place. It was just ludicrous to think of a fourth year as being able to get past Dumbledore's protective enchantments, let alone fool that ancient cup, but apparently common sense seemed to be lacking within people these days. He had tried telling his overzealous housemates this fact but they had all refused to listen to reason, a petite third year girl named Heather even telling him off for being too much of a nice guy.
Cedric suddenly remembers that they're not alone and sneaks a look at Hermione. Thankfully, she seemed way too busy to even pay any attention to his ranting best friend.
"I'm being serious here, Ced."
"Of course you are."
"You just had to start falling in love with the enemy." Phillip grumbles. "Typical. Just typical."
Though he tried not to, Cedric breaks out into muffled laughter. That was another thing about Phillip. You could always leave it to him to blow things out of proportion.
"Stop stalking her." Phillip warns, annoyed that Cedric was finding so much amusement in their conversation.
"Stalking her?" Another chuckle threatens to escape Cedric's lips, but this time, he manages to keep it in check. "Isn't that a little too much?"
Phillip asks sarcastically, "Well, what would you call all this, then?"
"And the book you're hiding from behind is what for?"
"Fine then," Cedric concedes with a grin, "Discreet observation."
"Okay, listen– All of this," Cedric gestures for a bit, trying to grasp an adequate term, "worrying about me, while quite touching, really, is completely unnecessary."
Phillip starts to open his mouth but Cedric knows what he's about to say and beats him to the punch.
"And before you get started on that again, no, I'm not," He makes air quotes, "stalking Granger." Cedric jabs a finger towards Hermione's direction. "If you would stop jumping to conclusions for just a second, you would have noticed why I'm observing – don't give me that look – Granger in the first place."
Throwing Cedric one last suspicious glare, Phillip reluctantly turns his attention towards the Gryffindor witch only to end up spending the next few minutes watching Hermione wage war with what he assumed was her homework. There wasn't any other way to describe it, really.
"Huh. Good point." Phillip says after a while, and from behind a book of his own now, having taken one from his bag and mirroring Cedric's rather pathetic attempt at undercover espionage. "I wonder what got her knickers in a twist." He comments, chuckling, but it abruptly dies on his lips when Hermione suddenly stands up and strides over to their direction, an unwelcome and unfriendly frown plastered on her face.
"Easy. She's just going to fetch herself a book." Cedric teases Phillip when Hermione passes by their table without so much as a passing glance at the both of them. "I doubt she's going to hex you to a bloody oblivion." He chuckles.
Phillip gives his best friend a sour look.
"Yes, well, you know the rumors. Her knowledge with spells are practically legendary. Can't really blame a lad for– oh, seems Granger is in need of some help."
Turning his head, Cedric sees Hermione on her tiptoes, trying in vain to reach a book on one of the higher shelves that was just slightly out of her reach. Her wand was nowhere in her person and a quick glance back at her table verified that she had left it there.
"I wonder what book she's trying to– Oi! Where do you think you're going?!"
Phillip could only look on in an equal mix of alarm and admiration as Cedric makes his way towards the struggling witch.
"Don't do anything to set her off even more!" Phillip whispers urgently in warning but Cedric was already too far to hear him.
"I don't even... Pig-headed testosterone driven... Boys..." Cedric heard Hermione whispering under her breath as he got closer.
"I'm pretty sure we're not all bad," Cedric comments lightly before he could stop himself.
Hermione whipped her head around before fixing Cedric an icy look that would have made even Snape proud. "What was that?" She asks sharply, managing to look menacing to Cedric despite being several inches shorter than he was.
'Well, that wasn't exactly the smartest thing to do,' Cedric silently berated himself. It was a good thing she didn't have her wand with her because Cedric didn't exactly fancy being incapacitated before he even had a chance to participate in the First Task.
"I– err, was saying that we blokes aren't all bad?" Cedric replies, trying to salvage the situation, though with the inflection at the end, it had sounded more like a question rather than an answer. He discreetly shoots Phillip a look that screams 'help me!' but instead of coming to his aid, however, the blond Hufflepuff simply brings his palms up to his face and shakes his head in exasperation. Cedric could vaguely make out the words being mumbled by Phillip's lips, and it suspiciously seemed to go along the lines of "He's a goner."
So much for that unwavering loyalty he was talking about.
Unsure of what his next move should be, Cedric is left speechless at the witch before him, looking very much unlike the strong and confident pretty boy image he was well-known for.
Thankfully for him, the crease in Hermione's forehead and the frown in her lips slowly disappears, as the fact that she had almost snapped at an innocent Hufflepuff – a prefect and one of the Triwizard Champion, at that – finally catches up to her. She chuckles a little to herself when she notices his expression.
"I don't bite, you know."
Grey eyes home in to meet brown ones before Hermione adds, "Really. I'm a nice person." She jokes lightly with a small albeit embarrassed smile.
A few seconds of silence passes between the both of them before Cedric begins chuckling at the younger witch's attempt to break the rather awkward moment. Hermione, despite her earlier mood, finds herself joining him as well. If either of them were to glance back at the table Cedric had been occupying earlier, they would have seen how Phillip was now sporting a rather dumbfounded look at the sudden turn of events.
The pair sober somewhat when Madame Pince suddenly swoops down on them like a bat and shoots them a warning look, wordlessly telling them to keep it down.
"So, what can I help you with, Diggory?"
"Actually, I was going to see if you needed some help in reaching a book," Cedric replies, gesturing to the shelves around them. "You were trying to reach that one, right? The one with the red spine?"
Hermione nods before Cedric shuffles forward to retrieve the book for her.
"Thank you and sorry for... you know," Hermione says with a rather sheepish look. "I know it's no excuse but it's just that I'm having a really bad week. I– they– the both of them are being right idiots, really, fighting over something so ridicul– Sorry, sorry." She shakes her head morosely, silently berating herself for saying too much. "You don't want to hear this." She holds her hands out for the book.
Cedric waves her off, intending to bring the heavy tome back to her table for her. "It's not a problem, really" he says, referring to both carrying the book for her, and using him as a sympathetic ear to talk to. He was, by no means, close to the younger witch, having only personally met her once before at the portkey site to the Quidditch World Cup a few months ago, but there was something about her distressed expression, a frown that contrasted her usually demure smile that he had seen in the hallways that made him want to help. It was just how he was as a person, getting himself involved in things he thinks he can help with even though it doesn't at all concern him. Phillip jokingly called it as his need to be a busybody. Cedric prefers to call it his need to be helpful. "You can talk to me about it if you want. Mum had always told me that bottling things in is never good. You'll end up going crazy."
They reach her table and Cedric places the book down. "I'm guessing these two you're talking about are Potter and Weasley?" He prompts her, hoping she wouldn't clam up now.
Hermione appraises the tall Hufflepuff, who was patiently waiting for her to continue. A catharsis did sound mighty tempting, and Hermione's gut instinct was telling her that it was perfectly alright to confide in Cedric. Besides, she's heard nothing but pristine feedback from whenever any of her housemates talked about the rather good looking Hufflepuff.
Hermione nods in affirmation before making a very defeated sounding sigh. She ended up telling him an abridged version of everything, starting from how Ron's jealousy made him believe Harry placed his name on the Goblet secretly up to the point where they were both driving her up the wall with their refusal to talk to each other.
"What the three of us should really be concentrating on is helping Harry get through this ridiculous Tournament in one piece." She mutters bitterly before unsuccessfully stifling a yawn.
It was only then that Cedric noticed the deep bags under her eyes and it dawns on him exactly how tired looking she was. He reaches for the book he had fetched for her earlier and reads the title softly, "How to be Prepared: A Guide for the Unprepared."
The poor girl wasn't at the library for schoolwork as he had initially assumed. She was dead on her feet trying to help Potter get through the tournament unscathed.
"A silver lining." Cedric suddenly says, hoping it would ease some of her troubles. "I believe every problem has a silver lining."
It was practically a major part of his philosophy in life, a way of looking at his problems, which his mum had instilled in him way back when he was no taller than their kitchen counter. That fateful day was a lazy summer afternoon and Cedric had accidentally crashed his toy broomstick, the ones that wouldn't go higher than three feet into the air, accidentally into a tree. Aided by a young girl with long black hair roughly the same age as him who was playing nearby, Cedric had gone crying to his mum, who was sitting on a nearby park bench. While she tended Cedric's wounds, she noticed the concerned little girl who had helped her son limp back to her and wisely comforted her son by telling him to stay positive and to think of something good that happened despite the accident.
Cho Chang has been one of his closest friends ever since, her being the raven haired girl he wouldn't have otherwise met if it weren't for his accident.
"I'm sure there's something positive about this situation wedged in there somewhere."
Hermione looks at Cedric as if he was missing a few screws on his head. Cedric chuckles.
"You seriously think there's something positive about my two best friends fighting and driving me absolutely barmy?"
"Well, I didn't say it was going to be easy to find." Cedric grins. "Try to mull it over."
A disbelieving eyebrow rises.
"Hey, what have you got to lose?"
"I guess," Hermione replies, but she still doesn't look thoroughly convinced. Despite this, a speculative look takes over her face as she bites her lower lip in thought. At the very least, she was going to give it a shot. Almost a minute passes in silence before she shakes her head in defeat.
"Well that's a first." Cedric says with a frown. He starts scratching his chin in thought. "There's always something..."
Hermione couldn't help the teasing grin that finds its way to her lips. "Are you always this positive?" She asks, amused. Though she was finding amusement at his optimism, she had to be honest, it was not at all unwelcome. It was, after all, quite a breath of fresh air from all the usual pessimistic doom and gloom she experiences whenever she finds herself in danger during her adventures with Harry and Ron.
Chuckling, Cedric raises both his hands up, as if in surrender. "Guilty." He confesses before adding, "Some of my mates think it's a little annoying, actually."
"Well, I suppose it's not a bad trait to have," Hermione muses, "but I'm afraid there's really no silver lining in Harry and Ron fighting."
"Look at it in another way." Cedric says, remembering what his mother told him before. "What's something that wouldn't have happened if they didn't have a fight?"
"Hmm... Well, I met you."
"You make me sound about as appealing as a flobberworm. I'm not good enough, is that it?" Cedric says dryly though a grin was dancing on his lips.
Keeping a straight face, Hermione plays along, "Well now that you mention it..."
And they find themselves simultaneously chuckling only to abruptly stop when they hear footsteps approaching. Both pair of eyes simultaneously widen when they realize it was most probably Madam Pince coming to kick them out.
Cedric quickly motions for Hermione to take a seat and he does the same before grabbing a random book and adopting a look of innocence, making sure that it wasn't upside-down this time around.
A split second later, Madame Pince appears and glances around, looking for the students that were making noise, but finds no one red-handed to chastise. She reluctantly leaves, but not before throwing Cedric and Hermione a suspicious glare.
After making sure the coast was clear, Cedric asks, "Feeling better?"
"Much," Hermione replies. And really, she did. The catharsis and Cedric's friendly easy going nature really seemed to turn her mood around. "Thank you," She smiles.
They didn't really notice the time pass by after that. Seconds that became minutes slowly ticked by as the two got to know each other better, their original purpose of going to the library becoming very much forgotten. They made sure not to make too much noise as they talked so as not to have the librarian breathing down their necks. The conversation flowed smoothly between them, both Cedric and Hermione enjoying each other's company. Both had discovered that they shared many things in common: being a die-hard bibliophile, having the penchant for witty banter, and a love for French toast, among others. In fact, they got so lost in their own little bubble that it was only about an hour and a half later, when a passing Ravenclaw mentioned the time to her friend that reality started to dawn upon either of them.
"I completely lost track of the time!"
"See, I'm much more interesting than a flobberworm." Cedric grinned before giving her an exaggerated wink, as he playfully made fun of his status as one of Hogwarts' resident heartthrobs.
Hermione nods in agreement and Cedric begins to smile triumphantly when the Gryffindor suddenly adds teasingly, "I never knew you considered a flobberworm a good measuring point for comparison."
She stands up and gathers her things back into her backpack as the Hufflepuff tries to think of an adequate comeback to keep their playful banter going. Besides Cho, he had never met a girl who disregarded his Hogwarts' Heartthrob image so readily. But he didn't mind it one bit. She was an definitely an interesting one, he concluded.
"Oh, and Diggory?"
"Before I forget, your friend is right, you know." She nods towards Phillip, whose eyes were comically peeking out from the top of Theories of Transfiguration Transcribed for Twits. Cedric had actually forgotten about his best friend up until that point. He hoped he didn't look like that earlier because if he had, it was a miracle Hermione hadn't spotted him at all.
Confused, Cedric asks, "I'm sorry?"
"Next time you try being covert, make sure the book you're hiding behind isn't upside-down. Bye, Diggory!" She laughs with a parting wave, leaving a shocked Cedric behind, whose jaw had dropped open in surprise.
"What did she say?" Phillip asks from behind Cedric, having made his way over, when Hermione was finally out of sight.
"Never you mind." Cedric replies, and having recovered enough of his wits by then, he makes a fond grin at the corner Hermione disappeared at.
Phillip bumps his shoulder with his. "Oh, don't be such a spoil sport. Come on, tell me!"
"Why do you want to know, anyway? Weren't you the one who didn't want me to talk to her earlier?"
"But that was before I knew she could make you look so stupid." Phillip laughs. "I swear, you should have seen your face. It was priceless."
"You prat." Cedric captures Phillip in a headlock and they wrestle playfully in that way blokes do before Phillip manages to escape.
"Anyway, introduce me next time. Yeah?"
"Next time..." Cedric whispers to himself and he wondered when they could meet again. He was actually hoping it would be sometime soon.
Hermione turns her brown eyes to Ginny, who was sporting a raised eyebrow along with a very curious expression.
"Something happened to you." She says. "Tell me."
"What makes you say that?"
"You look oddly happy. You've been looking way too stressed these past few days and now you're suddenly happy. Too happy." Ginny squints her eyes, almost as if she would find the answer if she focused hard enough. "So, tell me. What gives?"
"Nothing much, really. I woke up earlier today to go to the library and–"
"The library." Ginny cuts Hermione off, all traces of interest vanishing from her face. "And here I was expecting something a little more juicy, like a boy." She jokes.
Hermione's head tilts to one side. "Actually, now that you mention it, I did meet a boy at–"
Ginny turned to face Hermione so fast that she was surprised the younger girl didn't get whiplash.
Hermione laughed. "It's not like that," She says before proceeding to tell Ginny everything that happened in the library.
"And you left him just like that?" Ginny asks with a scandalous look after Hermione finished her story.
"I couldn't help myself," Hermione confessed with a chuckle. "It just sort of came out. Besides, I don't think he'll be mad or anything. He's actually really sweet."
"Good looking too." Ginny adds with a whistle.
Hermione laughs. "What about Harry?"
"Hey, I can appreciate more than one male at a time, can't I?" Ginny grins. "So, silver lining, huh? Did you ever find one?"
As they climbed out of the portrait hole to head to breakfast, Hermione couldn't help but think that yes, she did indeed find a silver lining. After all, if Harry and Ron hadn't fought, she never would have gotten the chance to meet a certain grey eyed Hufflepuff.
And admittedly, he really was much more interesting than a flobberworm.
No, my hard drive didn't crash again. My excuse this time is that real life stuff take precedence, so I had to take a hiatus from writing seeing how insanely busy my schedule was. Actually, to be honest, my schedule still hasn't lightened at all and I'm actually just playing hookie right now. I've been way too stressed these past few weeks and writing had always been relaxing and even therapeutic, so I'm glad I made this even though I'm now probably running behind in a lot of other things.
Oh well, we're all guilty of a little procrastination, right? *laughs*
Anyway, it's going to be a multi-chapter fic so I hope you guys stay tuned to see how things will unfold. Lastly, reviews are always welcome so don't hesitate to leave me one.