Chapter 6 : Piece of Paper
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My body had shut down. My silent resolve to get back on friendly terms with Cedric would have to work, if only for my own sake. After waking up in the deserted bathroom I had just managed to get back to my warm bed in the Tower. Exhausted as I was, I had still woken up at five and by five fifteen was on my way to the Great Hall. For once the Drumstrang boys were not there yet. I found a house-elf cleaning the Slytherin table and I politely asked him for some carrot cake and pumpkin juice. I watched as his body disapparated and found myself making my way towards my completely deserted table in the completely deserted Hall. My food was not there yet when I got to my place, so I rested my head on the cold surface and quickly fell asleep. I was woken up a couple of minutes later by the sound of approaching steps. Though I was awake I kept my eyes closed and my head rested on the wooden surface of the table. The steps stopped right in front of me and were followed by the distinct sound of a wooden bench creaking under a body’s weight.
“When was the last time you ate, anyway?” a voice asked me. I smiled in spite of myself when I recognized to whom it belonged.
I managed to make my head rise a little and found myself looking into a pair of beautiful grey eyes.
“I don’t know,” I told Cedric, feeling an amount of happiness I really didn’t remember feeling ever before.
As if every part of our speech had been measured, a small plate with a single slice of carrot cake materialized between us, accompanied by a glass of pumpkin juice.
“Just like magic,” I murmured and he chuckled.
Before I could take my fork and start nibbling at my cake Cedric had snatched it away from me and was cutting a small piece of cake for himself.
“Hey,” I said feigning anger, “that is supposed to be my cake, you know?”
“Yes,” he said grinning, “but you owe me.”
“I do?” I asked surprised, reaching for my glass of juice and taking a small sip.
“Yes,” he said, still nibbling at my cake, “for being such a jerk to me in the past few weeks.”
I felt my heart beating faster and my knees begin to tremble. Was this the way I would always feel around Cedric?
“I-I-” I stammered.
“Yes?” asked Cedric encouragingly.
“I’m so sorry,” I managed to whisper, feeling my head throbbing and my eyes welling up with tears. I tried to hide my eyes from him by lowering my head. I was so tired of crying.
I felt his warm hand suddenly grabbing hold of my chin and forcing me to look at him again. His gaze was so strong I felt even weaker. He smiled at me and I felt for the first time in weeks as though the universe was back in order. He cut yet another piece of cake with my fork and offered it to me. I tried to take the fork from his hand but he stopped me with his free one, forcing mine to rest under his on the table. I opened my mouth a little to let the cake in and was finally able to enjoy its flavour.
“That’s my girl,” he whispered, caressing my hand.
He handed the fork back to me and let me get on with my cake while stealing a sip from my juice. He let me enjoy my cake quietly without taking his eyes from me as if he feared I might not eat it unless there was someone watching. A few minutes later the entire group of Drumstrang boys walked in. I waved to one or two who usually waved at me from the Slytherin table where they had breakfast. I didn’t know their names and I was sure that to them I was just the weird chick that woke up way too early; either that or a stalker, anyway.
My bliss was so great that I hardly noticed when Cedric’s face suddenly blushed.
“I see,” he said.
I took a large sip of my pumpkin juice and offered him the last piece of cake, which he declined.
“What?” I asked him.
He considered his words for a minute looking deep into my eyes as if he was expecting to find an untold truth there.
“Are they the reason you come to breakfast this early?” he finally asked.
It was the first time I laughed in weeks. He stared at me amusedly and his lips cracked into a sort of grin. He stopped smiling all of the sudden and I knew that he had noticed the deplorable state of my face. I stopped laughing too and looked at him through gloomy eyes.
“I know I look like a corpse, Cedric,” I said, “you don’t need to point it out.”
Cedric looked sad at my words.
“I didn’t say anything,” he said quietly.
“You didn’t have to,” I told him.
I lowered my gaze again and only looked up when I felt his hand close to my face. He was playing yet again with my strand of hair. It felt so natural I didn’t back away. Suddenly something I had not thought about hit me.
“What are you doing here anyway?” I asked. His hand dropped. It couldn’t have been later than six in the morning.
“I come here early to stare at the Drumstrang boys in those tiny shirts,” he told me grinning broadly and clearly joking.
“You are so jealous,” I told him between laughs.
When we had both stopped laughing he got up and I thought he was going to leave. He put his hand into his pocket and produced a small piece of crumbled paper. It seemed like it had been in his pants for weeks now. He handed me the paper and I read clear as daylight two single words: Cedric Diggory.
“What is this?” I asked him, though he needn’t answer. The meaning of the paper hit me suddenly and I turned to my left to look at the Goblet of Fire, encircled by blue flames. I let go of the paper as though it had burnt me.
“I figured I’d give it a go,” he told me, playing with the little piece of paper that contained his name and both our dooms.
“Don’t,” I snapped at him. He looked up at me. He looked tired.
“Gee, please,” he begged, “not again.”
“You could die, Cedric,” I told him. You will die.
“I have to try,” he said sadly, looking down at his legs.
In a quick movement I took the paper from his fingers and stood up with it in my right hand. I saw Cedric survey my body before locking his eyes with mine. I hadn’t really noticed I looked so bad until I saw it plainly written across his face.
“Gee,” he said in a whisper. One or two boys were staring at us from the Drumstrang table.
“You asked me not to put my name in that stupid Goblet, remember?” I said, “The day we met?”
“I do,” he said plainly.
“You said you didn’t want to see me get hurt, remember?” I said, I was practically begging.
“It’s different, Gee,” he said while standing up. He was towering over me now.
I stepped away from the bench and walked away from him, the paper still in my hand. I got to the very end of the table and walked back to where he was standing. We were now standing in front of each other without the table between us. I had forgotten how tall he was.
“How is it different Cedric?” I asked him with urgency in my voice, “you might die and I don’t want you to.”
He turned away from me.
“Please, Ced,” I begged him. It was the very first time I ever called him that and I would have preferred that it hadn’t been under such frantic circumstances. I reached for his cheek and made him look back at me again, “I don’t want you to Ced, please.”
The tone of my voice made me feel pathetic, but I still hoped it would be enough to convince him. He turned his face towards me and took a step closer. His proximity made me shiver.
“Okay,” he said, reaching for the hand in which I was still clutching the paper with his name and which was hanging by my thigh. He stooped a little to reach my hand and clutched it in his reassuringly. The hand that I had close to his cheek fell down to his chest and I marked the distance between us a little more. I loved him and I knew it, but I wasn’t ready to lose him yet. I wasn’t ready to let him kiss me. His free hand took my rebel strand of hair and arranged it behind my ear. I pursed my lips and felt like an old woman, “Okay, I wont.”
“Thank you,” I said. My eyes were closed. I wanted to kiss him so badly. It took all the strength that I could gather to do it, but I finally stepped away from him. The tiny piece of paper fell down from between our hands and I watched as he knelt down to pick it up. He crumbled it into a tiny ball and left it atop the table.
“Come on,” he said, “you look as though you haven’t seen daylight in ages.”
I wrapped my arms around myself as he put his right arm around my waist and led me out of the Great Hall.
“I actually think I haven’t,” I told him and was sad to realize it was true. It was six thirty when we stepped outside into the cold September morning.
“Shoot,” he said suddenly.
“What is it?” I asked him.
“Don’t you feel the cold?” he asked me.
I really didn’t. I was wearing a heavy navy blue jacket so I didn’t really feel anything at all.
“Wait here, will you?” he asked grinning, “I’ll run as fast as I can and get mine, alright?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Great,” he said. He ran his warm hand across my cheek before backing away and going into the Castle yet again.
I was left standing in the cold September morning with a sense of dread surrounding me.
He’s going to put his name into the Goblet, isn’t he? My brain asked.
“Of course he is,” I answered myself in a shaky whisper.
I sat down in the cold steps that led to the main entrance to the Castle and let the tears run down my cheeks for a few minutes until Cedric returned carrying his own jacket.
Hi everybody! Thanks for reading even after that somewhat disastrous chapter 5. So, I brought Cedric back, just like I promised, but I fear that you will have to wait for the next one for things to get, you know, a little more physical. I hope you're enjoying it! Leave comments if you feel like doing so. Love.
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