The Chase

"Has he asked you yet?"
"Are you going to wear that dress you got for Christmas?"
"We'll have to go out sometime..."
"Ooh, look at him! I wish he would notice me..."

That last snatch of conversation caught his attention, and his gaze fell upon a bunch of girls staring at him on the side of the corridor. After a pause for thought, he decided to give them a polite, subtle smile and went on his way, while the girls completely overreacted and fell into an incomprehensible giggling heap. He wasn't going to ask any of them to the Yule Ball, for sure. His mind was only fixated on one person, who had just reached the end of the corridor and was transferring her books to one arm so she could open the door.

He watched as her long, bushy brown hair swished about with the effect of a hypnotic pendulum, amidst the large crowd of students clumped together in groups. The air was alive with laughter, excited voices chatting about the upcoming Yule Ball. He walked a little faster, careful not to draw too much attention to himself, lest he have people following him, especially Katie Bell and Alicia Spinnet, two Gryffindor girls he barely knew, but whom started self-consciously touching their hair and batting their eyelashes at him in the most annoying way possible if he passed them. When the crowd cleared and he could see her plainly in his line of vision, he called her name. "Hermione!"

She stopped and turned; her eyes met his. For an instant, she looked breathtaking. Cedric would have been happy to take her to the Ball just the way she was at this moment. As she turned, her hair moved as well, landing neatly over her left shoulder as she gazed at him. Her books were held over her chest, but Cedric knew from previous observation that the witch had lovely curves.

"Cedric?" His name was on her lips, crisp and clear, the last syllable ending like a question, like she expected an answer. But it was he who wanted to ask her something. Cedric wasted no time. He held his head proudly, tried to hide all the nervousness he felt inside and said, "Will you go to the Ball with me?"

When he practised saying this in his own room at night, he had envisioned Hermione throwing her arms around him and accepting his offer at once. However, that was merely fantasy. In real life, he knew more about her than she did him. He had spent so much time in the library just watching her study, and the expression of concentration he saw etched on her delicate face was what he loved about her the most. Cedric wasn't shy – in fact, he was the complete opposite – but Hermione was different to other girls, however cliché that sounded. Unfortunately, the only things Hermione probably knew about him was his name, that he was a Hufflepuff, and he played Quidditch.

Hermione smiled at him, and his heart gave a hopeful leap. He thought for a moment that there was something in her expression that intrigued him – was it surprise, or affection, or love? His heart skipped a beat. Was she going to say yes?

Then her expression changed. Her words sounded clipped, but she sounded a little apologetic as well.

"Sorry, but I'm already going with someone."

He was speechless, shocked and disappointed rolled into one. His body had a strange feeling like it had just been deflated like a balloon. Who? he wanted to ask, feeling a stab of jealousy. Who got to you before I did? She hadn't even said his name in her casual apology, almost like she was keeping some kind of distance. He thought that he'd been one of the quicker ones to ask for a date, but whoever it was had beaten him to the chase. But Hermione didn't look as if she was about the answer him, and as he stood there in a stunned silence, she gave him one last glance. In his imagination, it looked as if she was having second thoughts, but then she turned the doorknob and went to class.

The room continued its perpetual cacophony, the chattering voices never ceased, but Cedric didn't care. He pushed past the crowds of pathetic giggling girls, the group of Quidditch players on his team who were admiring Oliver Wood's Puddlemere United shirt, the students dotted here and there with their bags and books rushing to class. He didn't even have the energy to feel angry or upset. He didn't know what to feel; the question of who had asked Hermione to the Ball was still lingering at the back of his mind.


The name came to him like a slap in the face.

Joyful music began to play, and Cedric spun Cho Chang across the silvery dance floor, but wasn't looking at her at all. She didn't seem to notice, however - she was too busy basking in the glory of dancing with a Hogwarts Champion. He had to admit that she was pretty, with her dark hair and almond-shaped eyes, but she was nothing compared to Hermione. Harry was dancing with an Indian girl he didn't recognise - she was pretty, but Cedric knew Harry could have picked someone much better, so he must have been a bit late. Fleur was dancing with Roger Davies, and he was a little surprised. Fleur could have gotten anyone she wanted, yet... well, she must have had her reasons, he decided.

And Krum, of course, had taken Hermione. He stared at the couple with bitterness. He should have known better, should have asked her as soon as the Yule Ball had been announced. He imagined himself comically tearing down the hall, rushing to whatever class she was in and throwing open the door, confidently announcing that he was to ask her, and her accepting at once. When Hermione walked into the ballroom earlier, it was almost like the entire world had stopped for her. Gone was the awkward, bushy haired geek who spent most of her time with a nose in a book. In its place was a beautiful girl - no, a woman - who left everyone who looked at her simply starstruck.

He knew he wasn't the only one staring. A shock of red hair which he quickly acknowledged to be Ronald Weasley was gazing at Hermione with his mouth open, looking somewhat comical. Cedric felt a little sorry for him, not just because of the fact that he had also been beaten by Krum, but because of his appalling dress robes. Were they even dress robes? They looked fit for an old crone.

He didn't see the gaze of longing that Harry kept sending Cho's way. He could only see Hermione, and nothing else mattered. He hadn't forgiven her for not ditching Krum and going with him, but he had to admit it was rather egoistic of him to think that. Having a girl refuse him was something he wasn't used to, and he had tried to forget about her and think of Cho instead, but he couldn't hate her no matter what he did.

Suddenly, she looked away from Krum and caught his eye, and there was that look again as she smiled, that look she had that looked so dubious, so innocent, so beautiful, almost like she was giving him another chance. He knew it was all in his mind, but he let himself think that she was regretting her choice, and that she had actually wanted to go with him, but Krum had taken her first.

The Ball went on, and the students alternated between dancing, stopping for drinks and chatting with their friends. It was late when Cedric suddenly noticed that Hermione was alone. Cho was talking to her Ravenclaw friends, giggling about something or other. After watching for a few moments to make sure that she had momentarily forgotten about him, he began to weave through the students towards Hermione.

She looked as if she had been crying, and Cedric assumed that she had had a fight with Krum. He felt that same stab of bitterness again. How could he have left her? He knew things would have been different if she had come with him instead. He would have treasured her so much, hung on to her every word, and danced the night away. If only he could have a dance with her… unless…

Once again, he mustered up his courage to ask her a question for the second time. "May I have this dance?" he asked, offering her his arm like he had been taught to do.

She looked up at him, and Cedric felt a pang in his heart at how her tears were staining her cheeks with trails of makeup, and how he would never do that to her even if things were different. But then she smiled at him again and nodded, and in that moment, Cedric knew he had fallen in love with her all over again.

Author's Note:

I unfortunately don't have any more Cedric/Hermione on offer, but I do have many rare pair ships that feature Hermione. Impervius is one of my better-known ones, and Shattered Solace is Harry/Hermione. For you Romione lovers, I have plenty of stories about those two on my profile, the most famous one being Candy Floss: A Drabble Collection!