Summary: What if Cedric hadn't died on that fateful day? The day after the last task.
Prompted by: the "AU" (Alternate Universe) suggestion.
Rating: PG, maybe PG-13 - pretty mild
Pairing: Cedric/Cho, mainly Cedric's POV
Author's Note: I'm trying to stay true to the HP world and time-line (I read the books a long time ago), so if I make any mistakes (like correct spell spellings) - sorry! In that respect, it may contain spoilers about Goblet of Fire but I bet anyone who reads fics already knows that.
Ray of Light
He had grabbed his broom and flown. Not with any destination in mind, but just to get away. From his father. From the TriWizard Tournament. Mainly, from himself.
Higher. Faster. The cheer and chatter of the Great Hall's festivities disappeared with the distance. The wind drowned out all sound. Except for the disapproving tone of his father.
"You should have won the tournament, not that blasted Harry Potter. You're better than him, boy." Amos Diggory had reprimanded his son in private. "For Merlin's sake, he stupefied you. You should've been able to block that in your sleep."
True. But Harry didn't stupefy him. Cedric had stupefied himself. It was easier, he thought, than to keep arguing about who should take the cup. But he couldn't tell his father that. His father wouldn't have forgiven him, for giving Harry the win.
It didn't matter that the cup was a portkey, that Lord Voldemort had returned, that Harry had almost been killed, that it could have been him -Cedric- who could have been murdered. "Rubbish." was what his father said, refusing to believe anything Professor Dumbledore had said.
Cedric sighed, a long breath passing his lips and misting the air. His heart felt heavy with guilt. If he had taken the cup with Harry, maybe they could have fought Voldemort together. Maybe Harry wouldn't have had to face him alone.
A flicker of robe distracted his thoughts, and he knew who had followed him. But he couldn't bring himself to stop.
"I bet Cho is going to dump him." "Didn't you know? Harry fancies her."
"Who wouldn't want to date the actual TriWizard Champion?"
"Hey, Cedric." Cho's voice brought him out of his thoughts. He tuned into the sight of her riding parallel to him. She looked so lovely with the twilight sun sparkling in her eyes, and her hair streaming in the wind. What did she see in him now?
"I'm sorry..." He choked out. He flew past her, finding an open landing near the lake. He dismounted, and turned away. He heard her footsteps behind him, sucking in his breath when she enveloped him in her arms.
"For what?" She whispered into his back.
"For not winning... for my father... for Harry." He closed his eyes. His fingers found hers, instinctively entwining them. For a moment, they stayed that way until he forced himself to face her.
"There was nothing you could have done for Harry." Cho said softly. She cupped his face in her hands. "You have to believe that."
He stared into her eyes, feeling himself drown in those deep pools. If she kept looking at him like that, he would have believed anything she told him. He took her hands in his, and kissed her fingertips. His breath was warm on her forehead as he kissed his "I know."
She gave him a lop-sided smile. "And you know your father is a stick-in-the-mud. He won't be happy until you're the Minister of Magic."
A short gruff laugh escaped. How she could choose such a time to make him laugh escaped him. He called his father many things, things he couldn't repeat, but 'stick-in-the-mud' wasn't one of them.
Her smile grew warmer, reaching her eyes. "And no matter what you do, Mr. Diggory, you will always be a winner to me."
He leaned down to kiss her, pulling her closer. The world dissolved for a moment, and a familiar flutter found its way back into Cedric's heart. He smiled against her lips. "With you, I always feel like one."