The Sugar Quill
Author: Fionnabhair (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Terrible Fate  Chapter: A Terrible Fate
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A Dreadful Shame

A Terrible Fate


It was a stormy evening just before Halloween, and Cedric was having a quick chat with a few friends from Ravenclaw in the entrance hall, when a small girl with flaming red hair came running through the door, tripped and fell.


Some of the older students laughed, but she looked to be on the verge of tears from humiliation, and Cedric hunkered down beside her.  As he picked up her schoolbag she shook her hair out of her eyes and swallowed a sob.  He smiled at her and said, “You’re Fred and George’s sister aren’t you?”


She sniffed slightly.  “How did you know?”


“It’s the hair; it’s very distinctive.  I’m Cedric; I’m in their year.”


“Oh, yeah.  I remember.  You live near us.”


He grinned.  “That’s right but I’ve never seen you.  You were always off climbing trees or something.  It’s Ginny, isn’t it?”


“Yeah.”  She still sounded close to tears and for the first time he suspected there was something else upsetting her, other than embarrassment.  He looked at her again; her robes and hood were soaked; feathers clung to her sleeves; several painful looking cuts streaked across her hands.  She was trembling.


“Are you all right?”  He said.


Tears were trickling down her cheeks in greater numbers and she said, “I’m really fine.  It’s just, well, I’m all wet, and my hand hurts, and I had a fight with my friend. Plus, I can’t remember the way back to my common room.”


He helped her stand up, brushing the feathers, sparing a thought to wonder where on earth they had come from, off her cloak, and asked.  “What’s your friend’s name?”


“Tom.”  She sobbed as she answered.


“And what did you fight about?  If you don’t mind telling me, that is.”


“He wanted me to tell him something private.  It wasn’t bad or anything.  I just didn’t want to, and then he said...”


Ginny broke off suddenly, and hugged herself, taking several deep breaths.  She glared up at him suddenly and said, “It’s not funny, you know.”


“I don’t think it’s funny…I’m not laughing.”


She sniffed again.  “Fred and George always laugh about things, but … now I can’t find them.”  Clearly, he needed to get her back to her common room, and to this Tom, whoever he was; otherwise, she would really get upset.


Cedric frequently had reason to be grateful that he was tall, and he craned his neck now, trying to see if there was another Weasley around.  It took him several moments, during which Ginny found herself a tissue and dried her face.  By the time she had made herself look presentable, Cedric had found the youngest boy, the one who hung around with Harry Potter.


“Oi!  Weasley!”  He said in a sharp, carrying voice.


The boy looked around until he saw Ginny, whereupon he swiftly made his way over, glaring at Cedric as he came; his friends followed behind him.  Even though she had cleaned herself up, there were still traces of tears on her face.


“What have you done to her?”


He was tall for a second-year, and his voice was so fierce that Cedric had to swallow an impulse to laugh.  He was about to defend himself when Ginny said, in a much louder voice than she had used before, “He hasn’t done anything Ron!”


“Well, what’s wrong with you then?” he said, in rather an impatient tone.


Ginny seemed to struggle for words, and Cedric interjected, “She got a bit lost.  You know what the castle is like.”


Ron scoffed.  “I can’t believe you still don’t know your way back to the common room, Ginny.”


The curly-haired girl looked at him scornfully.  “Don’t be stupid Ron.  We’ll bring you back Ginny.”


She shifted uncomfortably and said, “I don’t want to make you late or anything…” 


Harry Potter interrupted her, having joined the others only seconds before, saying, “It’s fine Ginny.”


And she flushed right up to her hairline.  Suddenly Cedric knew exactly what the ‘something private’ was.  It was slightly comic, especially as Harry Potter was quite chivalrously, ignoring her embarrassment.  Yet, having discovered girls that year, Cedric couldn’t really find the heart to laugh at her. 


They turned to go, but Cedric managed to find time to say, “And Ginny, if he’s really your friend, he won’t mind that you didn’t want to tell him.  Just say you’re sorry.”


She smiled then, a beautiful, childish, slightly tremulous smile, and said, “Thanks.  You’re really nice.”


Then she ran to catch up with her brother and his friends, all thoughts of tears forgotten.



*          *          *          *


Cedric was absolutely soaked; so wet that when he held his right hand up, water dripped from his glove.  It had been a horrendous day, between the arrival of the Dementors at the Quidditch match, the sudden shock of seeing Harry Potter lying crumpled on the ground and Madam Hooch’s stubborn resistance to the idea of a rematch.  He’d seen the devastated look on the faces of the Gryffindor team and he couldn’t blame them; by rights, they probably should have won that match, since the intervention of the Dementors had tipped the scales.


Still, even Oliver Wood, who ate, drank and breathed Quidditch, had been relatively gracious.  When he learned that Harry Potter had suffered no permanent damage, Cedric wasn’t going to torment himself any longer.  He changed quickly, pulling a heavy sweatshirt on under his robes, rubbing his arms briskly to warm them.  He didn’t know if it was because of the Dementors or the soaking he’d received, but he still felt a deathly chill.


Well, thankfully, his Mum had sent him a large bar of chocolate in the post that morning, and as soon as he found the blasted thing, he was going to cram it all into his mouth, whether or not anyone was watching.  Right now, feeling better was more important than good manners.


He was rummaging through his bag in an attempt to find it when he almost tripped over a girl huddled in the stands.  He wasn’t sure how he’d managed to miss her, as she was sitting under an immense black umbrella, but chalked it up to his urgent search for chocolate.


She seemed undamaged, but he ducked to make sure; it would be the perfect addition to an already unfortunate day to discover he had broken some poor girl’s sternum.  Bending down to see under the umbrella brim, Cedric saw the distinctive red hair of the youngest Weasley.  Her face was dead white, and she was trembling all over.


“Hey!” he said, “Hey, are you all right?”  He had to shout over the howling of the wind, but it seemed he finally had her attention. 


Her head snapped up to look at him, and she said, her lower lip trembling, “Sorry?”


“I just nearly tripped over you there.  I hope I didn’t hurt you.”


She looked out over the Quidditch pitch absently.  “No,” she said, “I’m fine.”


Cedric was inclined to disagree.  A girl who was fine did not sit out in the rain when she was already cold and unhappy.  He sat down beside her, saying, “Budge over for a second, would you?”


She seemed surprised, but moved quickly, offering him the shelter of her umbrella.  They sat for a moment, listening to the rain tapping on the thin skin of material before she broke the silence and said, “You played a good game today.”


“Oh.  Do you like Quidditch?”  He couldn’t help but be surprised; she was so little.


A ghost of a smile crossed her face.  “I love it.”


“Do you have a favourite team?”


She sighed.  “No, not really.  I mean, I like to watch the Harpies and pick up some tips but…”


Her voice trailed off, and Cedric nudged her.  “What’s wrong?” he said.


“I hate Dementors.”


She clenched her fists in her lap, and Cedric suddenly realised the reason behind her pale face and shaking limbs.  He hadn’t forgotten she had been taken into the Chamber of Secrets only the year before.  Fred and George had supposedly been devastated and, for possibly the first time in their lives, were silent.  No one had been insensitive enough to ask her how or why it had happened, but he had sense enough to guess that it must have been far from pleasant.


She was still shivering, and having finally found the bar of chocolate, he broke it in half, giving her the larger piece.  She took it gratefully and took a deep bite.  As soon as she swallowed, he could see it take effect.  A flush rose through her skin, her hands stopped shaking, and she sat up straight for the first time.


“Thank you,” she said.  “You’re always so nice to me.”


Cedric snorted, and she looked at him sharply.  “What?” she said, “When did that become a bad thing to say?  There is nothing wrong with being nice.  I’d rather be nice than be…” Her voice grew faint, and she seemed to shake herself before saying in a firmer tone, “I hate Dementors.  Did you see what they did to Harry?”


Cedric winced.  It had been a terrible shock.  He had looked over his shoulder, expecting to see his housemates cheering his unexpected victory, only to see Harry Potter’s body crumpled on the ground, with Dementors crowding round the pitch. 


Ginny Weasley, however, was still chattering on about Harry Potter.  “…And he hates Dementors even more than I do.  I didn’t even think that was possible.  Now he’s stuck up there with Madam Pomfrey, and I think that’d only make him feel more miserable.  I mean, who wouldn’t?”


He looked at her sideways.  “Is that why you were sitting out here, instead of going up to the Hospital Wing?”


She managed a smile.  “Yeah.  I much prefer getting chocolate from you to be honest.  And Percy would only fuss.  He’s as bad as Mum that way.”


Cedric swallowed a laugh.  Most people in the school, excepting the more obnoxious Slytherins, spoke of the Head Boy in a more respectful tone, but obviously, that did not include his sister.


She grinned up at him, and said, “A pity you couldn’t have doctored him; Hermione says he hates the hospital wing.”


He swallowed a sigh.  Clearly, she still fancied Potter, although given the fact that the younger boy had actually rescued her from the Chamber and a Basilisk, armed with only a sword, it was more than understandable.


“Well,” he said, “maybe you could do something to cheer him up.”


She hopped up excitedly, and said, “Oh…I know just what to do…That’s such a good idea.  Thank you.” 


He shook his head, but grinned all the same.  He couldn’t help but find it cute.  Smiling, he asked, “Can I beg a spot under your umbrella?”


“Of course,” Ginny said, “Only, you should probably carry it.  I’m so short I’d probably poke your eye out.”


He laughed, taking the umbrella and offering her his  arm; Cedric escorted her across the pitch.



*          *          *          *


Cedric sauntered over to the bar, smiling at Cho who was chattering with her friends across the dance floor.  He couldn’t seem to stop himself from smiling; his date with Cho was going wonderfully; he hadn’t tripped over his own feet while dancing, and he could feel a glorious excitement swirling in his stomach.   She was busy now, and instead of listening to her conversation, which, if Cedric knew anything about girls, would be centered on him. Therefore, he decided to get a Butterbeer and have a quick look for Harry Potter. 


With that objective in mind, he craned his neck to see over the crowd, but gave up as a bad idea; the crowd was simply too dense, and while Harry’s hair made him rather distinctive, he wasn’t tall enough to really stand out.


Clutching two Butterbeers, Cedric stepped down from the bar, but froze where he stood.  He could see three members of his ‘fan club’ approaching, and, rightly or not, was in no mood for it tonight.


Thinking quickly, he ducked behind Professors Moody and Sinistra, weaving his way through the forest of tables.  Most people were on the dance floor at this point, except for one redheaded girl, sitting with her back to him and rubbing one of her feet.  Guessing whom it was, Cedric strode over and asked, “Is this seat taken?”


She seemed surprised at the question, but shook her head and smiled up at him.  Her shoes were on the floor beside her, but though she looked well, there was no trace of a partner.  He sat down quickly, raising one hand to shield his face from any attention.


“Are you having a good time?” Ginny asked.


Cedric grimaced as he saw the girls walk past, who were clearly aggravated that he had eluded them.  Ginny’s eyes followed them, and she giggled at the sight.


“Don’t,” he said. “They might hear and come back.”


He pushed one of his Butterbeers over to her, and she accepted it gratefully, as he said, “So, what happened to your feet?”


Ginny sighed, blowing a strand of hair out of her face.  “Neville happened.  I mean … he really tried.  He’s just not the most … coordinated.”


“He’s in your brother’s year, right?”


“Yeah … Don’t get me wrong.  He’s really nice, I mean he’s been lovely, it’s just …”


He nodded.  “Where is he now?”


She sighed resignedly, though with a trace of a smile on her face, “Oh, he  slipped on some spilled Butterbeer.  Madam Pomfrey took him up to fix the bruises.  I don’t think he’ll be long.  Anyway, how come you’re not with Cho?” 


“How did you know about that?”  Cedric said, honestly surprised.


She looked incredulous.  “You’re a Champion.  I mean, even if the gossip hadn’t spread it around already, she was on the High Table with you.”


He laughed and said, “Sorry.  She’s off with a few friends of hers; I think I’d be a bit in the way.  You know the way girls get.” 


His tone was slightly mournful, and Ginny laughed before scanning the crowd.   “Yeah.  It reminds me, I wonder where Hermione’s got to.  She said she’d come over but … well, maybe she got distracted.” 


He suddenly felt a little sorry for her; she was the only third year he knew of who’d come to the Ball, and he couldn’t help but think she might feel a little lonely.  Looking up to see if Hermione Granger was anywhere in view, he saw Cho waving at him from across the hall.  Suddenly struck with a good idea, he looked at Ginny again and said, “Can you do me a favour?”


She smiled.  “Of course.”


“Will you dance with me?”  He said it with as much gallantry as he could manage,  which he knew was rather a lot.


Her jaw actually dropped, and she stared at him as he continued, “I want to get back over to Cho, but I’d also like to avoid that crowd that just went past, so… I promise I won’t step on your feet.”


Ginny laughed, and bent down to pull on her shoes.  “All right,” she said, “Though I can’t believe you’re scared of a bunch of girls.  They only want your autograph you know …and maybe a lock of your hair.”


He looked at her levelly, and she burst out laughing.  “All right. I’m joking.”


Cedric stood up, and offered her his hand with a bow.  She took it, smiling at him, though he thought he could see a trace of embarrassment in her eyes, which only intensified when one of the twins whistled at them, shouting encouragement to his sister.  She even blushed when Harry Potter noticed this teasing and actually goggled across the room at them.  Still, Cedric did actually know how to dance; he was able to swing her around quite confidently, and eventually her nerves seemed to dissipate.


They had reached Cho and her friends by the end of the song. She seemed to know what he’d had in mind for she instantly introduced Ginny to her friends, who seemed to accept her quite easily.  Within moments, she was discussing the Quidditch World Cup with a dark-haired fourth year, leaving Cedric free to dance with his girlfriend.


Cho grinned at him as he put his arm around her and said, “That was really nice of you.  She looked a bit lonely.”


Cedric shrugged; he hadn’t actually been trying to impress Cho, but he couldn’t help but be glad he had. Anything that made her look at him like that, made her speak with such a loving tone was more than worth the doing.  Seeing Ginny laughing and smiling, he said casually, “Well, she’s a nice kid.”


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