It has been two months since he first met her, and Cedric still doesn't understand Cho. Not that he was hoping to figure out the inner workings of the female mind, but the more he learns about Cho in particular, the more he gets confused. He already figured out her cold exterior was just a front, but he doesn't know why she won't just talk to him. Why does she keep pushing him away, when it's painfully obvious how she feels?
"Please, Cedric! You can't die now. Not when I gave up my life for you." Her words echo in his thoughts. He is unsure what she meant by the last part, but the feeling is there - the caring, the worry, the love. Is she afraid of love? Afraid that he'd break her heart? He could promise her that it would never happen, but he knows those are just words and she wouldn't believe him anyways.
She keeps her promise, though. And their scheduled date has finally arrived. He takes careful thought into choosing a deep blue shirt that brings out his eyes, ironically matching his mood, and slacks. Even though it is a hot and humid August evening, he wants to dress to impress -as the saying goes- and he wants to convince her of his intentions.
He sees her in the courtyard, standing in the shade of the oak. For a moment, he just stares. She's wearing a white sundress with blue polka-dot butterflies. Her hair and the full skirt of her dress billows in the breeze, and she clasps her hands in front, staring at the gates in front. He steps towards her, extremely tempted to take her hand in his. Instead, he motions towards the gates. "Shall we?"
She nods, smiles slightly but it doesn't reach her eyes. He takes a deep breath as he pushes the gates open. "Just for today, could we just enjoy each other's company?"
He knows he sounds lame, but he continues. "I mean, not worry about things like.. dragons.. and just have fun."
She nods again. "Sure."
They walk in silence for a while. She glances at his profile and clears her throat. "Are you okay? I mean, from the accident..."
He smiles. "Pretty much. The bruises are almost gone."
A pause settles and he racks his brain for something to say. "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
He chuckles at the 'grow up' part, and she shyly replies. "A pediatrician."
"Really? That's great."
"Do you think so?"
"Sure." He smiles. "You're wonderful with kids. You have a big heart."
"Thanks." She smiles. "What about you?"
"I think I have a big heart too." He says and she laughs. She playfully bumps him in the arm.
"I meant, what do you want to do? After you leave St. Agnes'."
"I'm not sure." He says. "Maybe become an architect, or environmental engineer, or just get a pilot license and just fly..."
"Decisions, decisions." She teases and he grins.
"I won't have to think about it seriously for a couple years. Maybe after a few classes at Oxford, I'll be able to decide which field I want to study." They reach a small plaza with small streets veering in different directions.
"Speaking of decisions, would you like to try this place?" He indicates a cozy pizzeria on the corner of the street. "There's also an Indian restaurant further up, and a typical English pub a block that way."
"This looks nice." She looks at the pizzeria, and they enter. A candle melted in wine bottle and a single flower poised in a vase set their table. It screams simplicity and Cedric groans inwardly.
"What?" Cho asks, surprising him.
"Is something wrong?" She tucks a stray hair behind her ear. Cedric smiles in the shadows.
"I was hoping to take you to a more romantic place." Cedric grows wistful. "To woo you."
Cho's laughter chimes like bells. "I thought we were supposed to have fun."
"Wooing you is fun."
"Now you're just making fun of me."
"No, I'm not." Cedric gives her an exaggerated wounded innocent expression, and she laughs again. "Ok, it hasn't been fun per se, but it has been challenging."
"So, I'm a challenge now, hmm?"
"I meant that in a good way." He grins. "But I think I finally know the real you."
"Ah." She fingers the rim of her water glass. "And would the real me like being wooed in a more romantic place?"
He thinks about it. "Maybe for your birthday... or an anniversary of sorts..."
She smiles and they briefly turn to give the waiter their orders. A pause settles as the waiter leaves. She stares at the flower on the table. "You are right about that. But this place is nice for a first date."
He fingers his collar and unbuttons the top two buttons. "By 'first', does that mean there will be a second?"
She tilts her head to the side and smiles. "I believe the agreement was only if my feelings for you change..."
"And they haven't?" He looks crestfallen. "Is there something about me that is unattractive to you? I'm willing to change..."
She gives an incredulous look. "Cedric, really... You said you wanted to just have fun..."
"We will, once I convince you to be my girlfriend." He says with much earnest. He looks at her with serious and yet eager eyes. "So... is it my looks? Should I cut my hair? Grow it longer? Get highlights? Do you like redheads better?"
"Cedric..." Cho pauses as the waiter brings their entree. "You look fine."
"Am I too tall? I can slouch. Or do you think I'm too thin? I can eat more protein and bulk up. I..."
"Are you fishing for a compliment?" She sighs. "You are incredibly handsome, Cedric. Gorgeous, in fact. Much prettier than me."
"No, I'm not. You're beautiful." He says. He stares at the tablecloth. "But you're not attracted to me, is that it?"
"Cedric." Cho tilts her head to the side and almost touches the wall. "I am attracted to you."
"Then it must be my personality." He looks away. "There are times when I know I..."
"Cedric." Cho interrupts him. "Why me?"
He looks up at her, slightly startled. She turns serious. "Of all the girls, why choose me?"
"Because you're beautiful. And smart. And kind." A wry smile appears on his face. "And you don't put up with my crap."
"But I was mean to you."
"Just a little." He shrugs. "I could tell you were just being... defensive. And it was fun getting under your skin."
She laughs and his smile turns serious. He stares at the flower and then at her. "It's hard to explain love."
"You love me?" Her eyes widen slightly.
"Yes." He inches closer to her.
"And... you're... willing to change for me?" Her voice is barely above a whisper.
"Anything you want." He covers her hand with his. "If you'll have me."
She lifts her hand slightly, her fingertips touching the edges of his. Slowly, her fingers intertwine with his and he feels his heart skip a beat. She looks like she's debating a thought as she stares at their hands.
"When I said my feelings hadn't changed," she says slowly, "I spoke the truth. What I didn't tell you was what my feelings were."
She swallows her hesitation. "I've loved you for a long time..."
She looks at him and tries to lighten the seriousness of the mood. "So, if you could make me hate you, then I'd be obligated to go out with you again."
He laughs and squeezes her hand. "What if I just promise that I won't go looking for dragons? Then, will you be my girlfriend?"
"Cedric, I don't..."
"Cho, we both don't know what the future holds." He says. "But I'd rather live a day being in love with you then years without."
She smiles and he sees her eyes brighten with that thought. He grins. "If it'll make you feel better, you can always be mean to me whenever we're together."
She laughs. "You drive a hard bargain, Mr. Pattinson."
"I love you, too, Ms. Leung."
to Part 6