Chapter 1 : Returning the Favor
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Mull things over in the prefects’ bathroom….he should’ve known something was up.
There Harry was, minding his own business – after listening to the egg’s riddle and finally getting rid of Moaning Myrtle – when he heard the door open. He flinched at the sound, though he didn’t make a move to leave the tub. Prepared to suffer the consequences of whoever was about to catch him, he looked into the darkness, waiting for whoever it was to emerge. A figure approached slowly, coming out of the shadows until stopping at the adjacent edge of the bathtub.
“Cedric?” Harry said relieved, but mostly confused.
“I take it you figured it out by now.” Cedric said impassively, though staring intently at him.
“Uh…yeah. Thanks for the tip.” Harry was starting to feel increasingly awkward as he noticed the bubbles were quickly fading and Cedric was still staring at him.
“Just returning the favor.” Cedric said as he moved closer. Once next to him he kneeled, leaning forward slightly. “I see the way you look at Cho, don’t think I haven’t noticed.” He said in a non-threatening tone.
The statement alone made Harry wish Hogwarts wasn’t equipped with an anti-apparition zone. He couldn’t even begin to start a sentence and only succeeded in stuttering. He cringed slightly at the thought of Cedric beating him senseless, but he didn’t seem to notice.
Cedric inched closer to the edge of the tub. “There’s no need to explain yourself. After all, Cho is quite beautiful, I can hardly blame you for being attracted.”
Harry just stared at him, completely at a loss of what to say in response. He had to seriously concentrate to keep from gaping. Had Cedric actually implied that he was okay with him liking Cho?
“She told me you asked her to the ball.” Cedric had taken off his slippers, socks and rolled up his pajama legs. His feet were now dangling in the water next to him. “Did you not know she was with me?”
“I…I didn’t know.” Harry said truthfully while staring nervously at the vanishing bubbles.
He turned his head to look at Cedric, hoping that he would believe him. He was looking at the water, smiling and tapping his fingers rhythmically as though listening to a song only he could hear.
“I didn’t think you would do that purposefully, but I just had to ask.” Cedric said much more cheerily. He started kicking his feet in the water, splashing Harry in the process and getting some of it on his glasses. “Ah, the water’s so warm!”
Cedric was starting to border on strange behavior and Harry really wished he would just leave or at least hand him a towel. There was silence. Cedric had ceased his splashing and was unmoving, continuing to gaze into the water below as Harry was becoming increasingly uncomfortable.
“Uh… could you hand me that towel behind you?” Harry asked.
Cedric turned his seemingly vacant gaze to him, a smirk threatening to form. Harry’s uncomfortable-ness turned into sheer anxiety. Cedric was acting quite bizarre, even for the likes of a Hufflepuff.
It seemed like an eternity before Cedric responded. “I suppose I could.”
He leaned back and reached for the towel, his feet remaining in the water. After groaning from the stretch, he flung the towel at Harry, who was just expecting him to hand it to him. It landed in the water, rendering it useless.
“Better work on those reflexes, Potter.” Cedric said suggestively.
“Right…” Harry retrieved the drenched towel floating in front of him.
Noticing the bubbles were almost completely gone, he submerged the towel and wrapped it around him.
Cedric was suppressing his laughter, causing an odd snorting sound to escape from him. “Never would’ve pinned you as a bashful one. Learn something new everyday.”
Cedric pulled his wand out from his pocket and flicked it at the water. Harry noticed it was beginning to drain. He pulled the egg out of the water and put it on the floor next to Cedric. With the water rapidly draining, he secured the sopping wet towel around his waist and pulled himself out of tub, sitting on the opposing side of the egg. Cedric pointed his wand at Harry next, causing him to almost fall back into the tub at the gesture. The towel became instantly warm and dry.
“Thanks…” Harry said feebly. “I should probably be heading back.”
As Harry began to stand, Cedric put an arm on his shoulder, applying enough pressure to keep him seated. He immediately began to panic. He had no idea what Cedric was doing, nor did he want to. All he presently wanted was his wand that was located about three meters away in his bathrobe, which Cedric was blocking his path to.
“I’m sorry about my father,” Cedric said, his hand remaining on Harry’s shoulder. “He was out of line at the Quiddich World Cup with the way he was talking to you.”
Harry attempted to shrug his shoulder to get his hand off, but it didn’t work. “It’s fine. I had already forgotten about it.”
Cedric relinquished his hand from Harry’s shoulder and let out an exasperated sigh. He leaned back onto the tiled floor, his hands underneath his head, smiling at the ceiling and humming to himself. Harry seriously thought he was deranged by then.
Just as he was about to get up to go for his bathrobe, Cedric began to speak again. “Ya know Potter, we’re not so different. We should do this more often.”
“Uh, no offense Cedric, but-”
“Okay so the tournament might hinder it a bit, but it’s still doable.”
“You are aware that this is the most we’ve ever spoken…”
Cedric turned his head to him, smiling stupidly. “You’re point, Potter? Wait, I should call you Harry now. You’re point, Harry?”
“Are you feeling alright, Cedric?”
“Call me Ced! All my best mates do!”
“Erm…are you feeling alright…Ced?”
“Feeling fabulous! And yourself?”
Cedric’s behavior was seriously baffling him. “Uh, I’m a little cold…”
Without sitting up, Cedric summoned Harry’s bathrobe, this time handing it to him. He stood up and put it on, having every intention of leaving. That is until he looked down and saw Cedric, who was now propped up on his elbows with sad puppy dog eyes and his lip pouted. He looked like he was on the verge of losing his best friend. Yelling obscenities in his head, Harry sat back down and Cedric’s sappy grin returned.
“I don’t care what anyone says, you’re a great guy!” Cedric proclaimed, peeling himself off of the tiled floor and scooting right next to Harry. “Between you and me,” He whispered. “Fleur and Viktor don’t stand a chance.”
“Uh, yeah…sure thing.” Harry’s hand was grasping his wand, ready to hex Cedric if he tried anything or started acting remotely weirder than he already was.
“Say Harry, d’you ever think about…” Cedric trailed off, staring fixatedly at the sleeping mermaid in the window.
“Think about what?”
Cedric looked at him momentarily confused before he started laughing. “I completely forgot what I was going to say! Don’t you hate that?”
“It’s like…I think I thought I had a thought in my head, but I was wrong!”
Harry raised an eyebrow at the nonsensical statement. He actually would’ve laughed if he wasn’t already so confused and on the defense. And to make the situation even more uncomfortable than it already was, Cedric managed to move himself closer. Harry was unable to widen the barely there gap due to the pillar he was already pressed up against. Personal space was diminished to the mere inch that separated them.
“Okay, okay,” Cedric said zealously, trying not to laugh. “So when are you going to make your move?”
“My move?” Harry had no idea what he was referring to.
“On Cho! I like to be prepared for things!” Harry looked at Cedric horrified, but he had already gone into hysterics. “I’m joking! I’m joking! You’re a great guy, you wouldn’t do that! Oh man, we have so many things in common!”
“I can only think of two…” Harry pointed out. “We’re both in the tournament and we both like Cho.”
Cedric was nodding his head enthusiastically. “See! So much in common!”
“I hardly think that two-”
“We’re both seekers!” Cedric said excitedly, adding to the list of commonalities. “Aaannnnddd all that quiddich has done us wonders, we’re both devilishly handsome!”
Harry couldn’t stop himself from gaping this time. “Er...”
“Bashful and modest!” Cedric said almost disbelievingly. “Oh come on Harry, we’re champions! I think we’re allowed a little ego inflation!”
Harry continued to gape at Cedric, completely bewildered by his behavior, not to mention quite uneasy of the strange vibe he was receiving from him. Cedric stared back, a sense of eagerness present in his otherwise glassy eyes. Harry found himself trying to force his way into the pillar that seemed more solid than before. Cedric started laughing again and put his forehead against Harry’s bathrobe clad shoulder. His first instinct was to shove him off, but he never got the chance…
Without warning, Cedric threw his arm around Harry’s shoulder, pressing the side of his face against his own and pointed off into the non-existent distance. “It’s you and me to the end, mate!”
And that’s when Harry finally noticed it. The distinct smell of firewhiskey emanating from his breath. Cedric wasn’t going mad after all, he was just smashed.