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?”
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
“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
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.”
uncomfortably and said, “I don’t want to make you late or anything…”
interrupted her, having joined the others only seconds before, saying, “It’s
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
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
She grinned up at him,
and said, “A pity you couldn’t have doctored him; Hermione says he hates the
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
* * * *
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.
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
“Yeah … Don’t get me
wrong. He’s really nice, I mean he’s been lovely, it’s just …”
He nodded. “Where is
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.
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
“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
Cho grinned at him as
he put his arm around her and said, “That was really nice of you. She looked a
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.”