Chapter 1 : Quidditch Affairs
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Cedric watched as Oliver’s dejected figure trudged into the Gryffindor locker room. He had just finished speaking to his own team about the recently concluded match, for which he said he would try to request a re-match. They’d protested of course, and Madame Hooch did say that they had legitimately won it, but still. He knew the right thing to do was to at least contest it. He had a feeling it wasn’t supposed to end the way it had, what with those Dementors’ unwanted presence, and the horrible way he concentrated, if at all.
“Cedric, are you coming?” Macavoy, one of the chasers, called out to him as the rest of the team started heading back to the castle.
“Yeah, no, you go ahead. I need to, uh, go check on something first,” he replied somewhat distractedly.
A distraction. That’s what he was, Oliver Wood. It disturbed Cedric to no end when Oliver caused his pulse to race, or his cheeks to flush every time he ran into those dark, determined eyes. His smile was one he fought so hard to resist, and that simple pat on the back made every nerve in his body tingle. When he was in the room, Cedric felt his most vulnerable, yet he also felt that willingness to give everything he had, even if he didn’t exactly know why.
That didn’t mean to say he hadn’t tried to shake these thoughts off his head. He tried, with every damn ounce of strength he had, but all it took was one look, one smile, one touch.
Which was why he stood there at the threshold of their locker room, forehead scrunched, contemplating whether or not he should risk talking to him and probably expose himself in the process. That very last thought scared the daylights out of him, but he was just going to talk to him about the game. How hard could it be?
“Get a grip, Diggory,” he muttered to himself. He drew in a deep breath as he approached the entrance to the Gryffindor team’s locker room, realizing for the first time that he was even more nervous about the prospect of facing him than any other Quidditch game ever made him feel.
“Hello?” Cedric called out softly to the emptiness. No one answered, but he could hear the unmistakable sound of a shower somewhere inside. He walked into the room and searched for the source, peering into each stall until he found him.
Oliver stood inside the last stall with his back to him, still fully-dressed in their Quidditch robes, both hands braced against the wall. Water cascaded down from the shower head washing off mud and defeat, both of which stubbornly stuck to him.
“Wood?” His voice was tentative, though calmer than what he truly felt inside.
“What are you doing here?” he asked wearily.
“I... I just came to talk about the, uhm, match,” Cedric managed to say, taking a seat on the bench outside the stalls. His hands were cold as ice.
“What’s there to talk about? You won fair and square,” Oliver said with the faintest trace of bitterness in his voice.
“That’s the thing,” Cedric started, “something was wrong, I knew it. It shouldn’t have happened that way.”
Oliver merely grunted in response.
“Look, I could talk to Hooch about it again, convince her that we should have a re-match. I’m sure Professor Dumbledore wouldn’t allow those...those Dementors into another game,” Cedric said, almost pleadingly.
“It’s just a game, Wood,” he sighed.
Oliver stiffened. “Just a game?” he said in a menacing voice. He turned off the shower and faced Cedric for the first time. His robes were dripping and his hair was plastered to his face, both of which should have painted a pathetic image, but his eyes were ablaze and his jaw clenched which excited and terrified Cedric at the same time.
“You think it’s just a game?” he asked again, stepping out of the cubicle.
Cedric opened his mouth then closed it, unable to think of anything to say that might appease him. He knew that no one at Hogwarts could surpass Oliver’s passion for Quidditch, but he sure as hell wasn’t expecting this kind of reaction. Much less in this setting.
“Maybe for someone like you with good grades and a well-connected family, this is all just a game,” he said, throwing his arms wide open. “But for me,” he said, pointing to his chest and crouching so that he was face to face with Cedric, “who’s not as perfect,” he added contemptuously, “whose only hope of ever making something out of himself is this, it’s not just a game. It’s who I am.” His face was dangerously close to his, and Cedric could see the drops of water running down his face and hanging from his eyelashes. He felt the urge to wipe them away, and it took all his strength not to.
“I... I think you should sit down,” Cedric said, not knowing what else to say and not recognizing his own voice. “Let’s talk about it.”
Oliver let out a mirthless laugh and straightened up, effectively breaking the spell that he held Cedric in, much to the latter’s relief. “Ever the diplomat, eh, Diggory? You just don’t fucking get it, do you?”
“What else do you want me to say?” he answered, feeling very frustrated in more ways than one.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe that you understand that some of us take this seriously because it’s the only thing we ever knew to do? It’s the only future we see ourselves in? It’s -”
“Okay, I get it! It’s important to you!” Cedric cut him off, standing up abruptly to meet his eye. “That’s why I’m offering a re-match! Why the hell are you still giving me this shit?”
Oliver gave him a long, hard look and for a moment Cedric thought he would get punched in the face, but he didn’t. Instead, Oliver let out a long, defeated breath and looked down. “I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t know.”
It took all of Cedric’s willpower not to take his face into his hands. He settled for placing a hand on his shoulder and giving it a squeeze. “You’re a bloody good player, Wood, you really are. In fact, I reckon you’re the best there is. It’s not your fault, nor was it Harry’s. Those Dementors weren’t supposed to be there.”
“You’re just saying that,” Oliver said, though he had a hopeful look in his eyes that just about cracked the resolve that Cedric had been working so hard to sustain this whole time. He shook his head slowly for it was all he could manage without buckling down to his voice, to his lips, to his eyes – to everything about him. How he had even managed to keep standing for this long, in such close proximity, escaped him.
He should have taken a step back for it was the most sensible thing to do in such a precarious situation, but as Oliver’s lips tugged upwards into the beginnings of a smile, his eyes flicked to Cedric’s lips, and for a moment – for one breath taking moment – an image of lips crushing lips and abandoned sensibilities flashed through Cedric’s eyes. He squeezed his eyes shut to regain whatever sense of control he had left.
“Are you all right?” Oliver asked, his voice uncharacteristically soft and his eyes never leaving him.
“Yes,” Cedric breathed.
“I should probably head back to the castle,” Oliver said unsteadily.
“Right.”Cedric nodded. “Right.”
Of course it was foolish of him to think that Oliver might have felt something pass between them. Oliver wasn’t like him, all confused over something that wasn’t supposed to be confusing. God, he really needed to get a grip of himself. This would be the death of him. This had to be stopped.
Oliver slowly made his way out of the room as Cedric sank back on the bench, attempting to recover from that dangerous moment of weakness. Oliver stopped and turned around just as he reached the doorway.
He looked up, not knowing what to expect, yet deep down he had hoped he would turn around. “Yes?”
Oliver made to say something but decided against it. Instead he smirked and with a twinkle in his eyes simply said, “See you around, yeah?”
And that was all Cedric needed.
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