Summary: Why is it that you never appreciate something until you've (almost) lost it?
Characters: Cedric / Cho, Fleur Delacour, Terrence Higgs, Roger Davies, misc. Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws
Author's Note: a response to iateaburgerrrrr's prompt: Break-up, and could be a "deleted" scene from GoF for Quiet Charm's challenge; it is another side to teenage/young love and heartache. If the Yule Ball was in December, and the Second Task was in February, the story starts in January and continues through (and after) the Second Task. (BTW, I'm having Terrence Higgs (he was Seeker for Slytherin before Malfoy) as Year 7, although who knows? he could've been Year 5 or 6; and I'm just giving names to supporting/minor characters.) Oh, and I can't do Fleur's accent justice, so I'm writing her without one - if you must, just imagine her accent, okay? :)
The Break-up (part 1)
It all started with the rumors. That Fleur Delacour fancied him - Cedric Diggory - of all people. And that Harry Potter fancied her - Cho Chang. And it didn't help that he was one of the school's champions. If anything, it just made the gossip around him grow more rampant. But Cedric tried his hardest to ignore everyone. He tried to focus on her. Her innocent and confused expression when he asked her about Harry. The way she told him that she trusted him even when her friends pointed out Fleur's advances. He trusted her too, knew in his heart that she wouldn't betray him, but the seed had been planted and he didn't know how to un-plant it.
The library should have been a sanctuary. Madame Pince was quite strict with the 'no-talking' / 'no-socializing' rule and seemed to have eyes everywhere. So, how in the hell could it have happened? One minute, he was studying Advance Transfigs and the next, Fleur had cornered him among the stacks. And she had turned on her Veela charm to max. Her perfume was overwhelming, and he felt dizzy. She was reeling him toward her - literally - as she managed to pull him by his tie. She smothered his lips with hers and he was stunned.
The moment he pulled away, he could feel someone watching him. And it felt as if time had slowed and his heart wrenched in ear-pounding beats. Cho was there. Her eyes filling with tears and her hand muffling her mouth. She ran. And he ran after her.
She wasn't watching where she was going. All thoughts were directed at escape. To the Ravenclaw tower where he could not follow. He kept calling after her, but she could not hear his pleads. In her mind, she kept repeating what she saw. How the rumors made sense. How Marietta told her that he was a boy and that all boys were only after one thing. And that it shouldn't be a surprise since he had already gotten it from her.
She wasn't watching... and she missed her steps. And the blasted stairs started their ritual rotation linking different floors. And she fell. He screamed, but she only felt the marble underneath her body as she rolled downwards.
And so here they were. In the Hospital Wing. Madam Pomfrey had bandaged her, healed the broken bones and bruises within minutes, but forced her to stay overnight to regain her strength.
"Cho..." She heard her name, knew who was speaking to her, and tried to open her eyes.
"Cedric, what are you doing here?"
"You fell, and..."
"Cedric." Cho took a deep breath. "You don't have to take care of me anymore."
"But I want to..."
"I know I can be clumsy. I am the seeker with the most injuries to date." She gave a half-smile. "And you feel the need to be chivalrous. But you don't have to anymore."
"Cedric, I think we should break-up." Tears were already forming in her eyes but she gulped them back. Cedric could feel his own fall freely down his chin. "That way, you can be free to be with whoever you want."
"I want to be with you." He tried, but she shook her head.
"You only think that because we've been together for so long." She wiped her face. "And you've just grown used to us. You feel comfortable with us. You're really not in love with me anymore."
"I am!" Cedric protested. "If you'll just let me explain..."
"You don't have to explain."
"I want to." Cedric cried. When she didn't interrupt him, he tried. "It was Fleur, and her Veela charm..."
Even that sounded like a lame excuse to him. "I didn't mean for it to happen. It just did." Nice one, Diggory, just prove to her you're an arse. "I mean... it happened so suddenly..." Try again, Diggory. "I'm sorry. Please, Cho..."
He couldn't think of anything to say that would take everything back. Her face looked crushed, and he was sure his mirrored hers. Madam Pomfrey tapped him on the shoulder, motioning for him to leave, and he reluctantly stood. He wanted desperately to hear her call for him, to say that everything was okay but she didn't. As he walked out the doors, he heard her whisper... "I'm sorry, too."
to be continued...