He hadn't thought about it again until he got back to school after summer hols and Cho was still being friendly. Smiles. Greetings in corridors. And that girl Edgecombe she hung out with was always giving Cedric amused looks. She was pretty - Cho, that was - and it was something to think about. The putting out issue. This was - absence of NEWTs notwithstanding - a bloody stressful year he was having. A little light relief - or a lot of relief, he wasn't picky - would be very welcome. So he asked her out a bit, and then he asked her to the Ball. She seemed... well, very interested. He didn't think he was assuming too much to make a few little plans.
Didn't end up happening, actually. He got a good night kiss that made his toes curl, and a warm smile over Cho's shoulder as she disappeared into the Ravenclaw tower. Without him. But hey, it was nice.
The highlight of the night though, as he thought about it later that evening, had been a bit earlier. As the Ball started to disintegrate and the staff weren't paying as much attention as they could have been. Getting Cho one last of "those little chocolate things" even though she'd blushingly admitted to having seven already, Cedric had seen Sylvia Fawcett get joggled by Pansy Parkinson by the punchbowl. Sylvia had shoved the Slytherin girl back, looked her up and down, and told her that she "bore a stunning resemblance to a prawn cracker".
It wasn't entirely untrue, and Cedric had been hiding a small snigger. Pansy had smiled sweetly, said, "Oh, really?" And then hauled off and punched Sylvia in the nose.
It was totally uncalled for, of course, and absolutely reprehensible. Perfectly timed, as well, as Cedric darted a glance sideways to see that McGonagall was telling off Harold Bradley for something and Flitwick was checking a rip in the hem of his robe. And as Sylvia went staggering backwards into the arms of her date, Pansy had turned away, aloof superiority on her face, and for just a moment, as he'd turned back, she'd been looking right at Cedric.
Right at him. It wasn't even a sneer on her face, just... challenge.
Absolutely reprehensible. But, he was forced to admit, to no one but himself: seriously fucking hot.
He hadn't even known her name at the time. The next morning, at breakfast, he'd been yawning, passing the bacon, elbowed by Despina Cauldwell who said something about not expecting to see him here, big wink. He laughed along, let the gossip flow against him until it ebbed a little and he could say,
"That girl who socked Sylvia; you see it?"
And Susan Bones, good old Susan, was flapping her hands, chewing her pancakes furiously so she could say, "That Parkinson cow, I heard Sylvia had two black eyes this morning, that's why she's not down here, she's..."
Cedric leaned across Summers for the sauce, and said, "Parkinson. Who's she, then?" as Susan went on about how confused Sylvia's date Eddie was, wanting to exact revenge but not being able to hit a girl.
"Slytherin, I think," Stebbins muttered from Summers's other side, more interested in reading the Prophet than following Susan's ongoing stream of gossip.
Hannah Abbott snorted. "Yeah, well, I reckon Pansy could take Eddie Carmichael and all. That girl is vicious."
Pansy, Cedric thought. Vicious. And a thought occurred to him. "She your year then, Hannah?"
A nod over a mouthful of cornflakes. Next to her, Finch-Fletchley added, "Slytherin. She's a credit to the institution."
"Ah," Cedric said, and drained his juice, looking down the table in the other direction, pretending to be drawn back into Stebbins and Summers arguing about the new modifications to the broom regulations announced in the paper.
Slytherin. Generally reckoned a nasty piece of work. Fourth year - that meant fourteen years old, Cedric.
Plus, on the way back to the commonroom he saw Marietta Edgecombe in the hall, and she gave him one of her grins and passed him a note that had his name scrawled on it in familiar handwriting.
He didn't open it right away, though. He sat there, letting the raucous game of exploding snap going on by the fireplace merge into a background hum, picking at the edge of the parchment and thinking about how, well, maybe a fourth year could have already had her birthday and that would make her fifteen by now.
Then Smith offered him a chocolate frog, and he snapped out of it, and opened the note. He got it smeared with chocolate, although that didn't stop Despina swiping it and giving a dramatic reading while standing on an armchair in front of the fire. While she entertained the entire commonroom, Cedric found parchment and ink to tell Cho that he'd enjoyed the Ball as well, and would she like to have coffee with him next Hogsmeade weekend?
He had to make three drafts, because Jerry Cadwallader kept elbowing him in the ribs, saying things like, "Perfect gentleman, eh?"
Cedric didn't think about her - Pansy, that was - again. Well, not really. Just in passing. It just happened to be his bad luck that a week later he was looking something up in the library, trying to concentrate on a ghastly text that was written backwards or something, made even more complicated by a steady sussuration of gossip coming from the next aisle.
"--so I told him--" a voice was saying, fading out just as Cedric's attention jumped from page to sound, and then as he read the line a third time, trying to find his place, it faded back in with "--bloody well whistle for it."
"Too right," another voice chimed in, and Cedric slammed the book shut with disgust and a little mushroom cloud of dust.
He stuck his head around the shelves into the next aisle and got as far as, "Look." Which was as much as he had to say to get all three of the girls to whip around to face him, and for him to notice that two of them he didn't know from a bar of soap (albeit a bar of soap he'd probably passed in the corridors or seen at dinners) but one of them was Pansy Parkinson, the Slytherin terror of fourth year.
Yes, it all came packaged up like that in his head.
She didn't look at all like a prawn cracker right now, and her hair was pulled back into a ponytail with bits draggling out all over, but Cedric was mildly alarmed to note that he had no trouble recognising her. Might have had something to do with the fact that she was looking right at him again, with challenge on her face. Not challenging him, just the world in general.
"Wot?" one of the other girls demanded, and Cedric blinked.
The other one smacked her arm, and smiled at him. "Sorry, Cedric, are we disturbing you? We'll go. Don't want to trouble the real champion."
Pansy snorted, getting his full attention again. "Give it a rest, Daph." She shoved, and the other two preceded her past Cedric, who stepped back again to let them through.
She was last, and he noticed, "Oh, you have a badge."
Pansy paused, glancing down at the red letters (on her, he couldn't help also noticing, quite impressive chest). And then she smiled at him - not open and sunny like Cho smiled, or sort of encouraging and knowing like Marietta, but almost sardonic, like she was laughing at something and he was in on it. "Like she said, we don't want to trouble the real champion." She moved away, but walked the first two steps backwards, saying, "Good luck."
"Er, thanks," Cedric said, but she'd already caught up with the other two and they were giggling again.
He looked back down at the book, but it was doubtful that he'd get any further with it tonight, anyway. He borrowed it, just in case, and took it back up to the dorm.
He took a shower, to help clear his mind, and that was when he realised that he was just a little hard. He leaned his palms against the tiled wall, eyes closed against the water, and resolutely didn't think about Pansy's smile, the one that invited him into her private joke. Didn't think about her laughter, her breasts, her eyes offering... offering...
Stopped his hand in mid-air. He was not doing this.
She was a Slytherin. She was a fourth year. She wasn't even that pretty. But especially since the whole "perfect gentleman" thing, jerking off over Cho seemed wrong. In his mind's eye, Pansy could look back over her shoulder as she walked away, eyes and smile and hips - she'd looked really good under those robes.
His hand had moved. He tilted his face down, water hammering against the back of his head and neck, so that when he gasped, he wouldn't choke.
Apparently he was doing this.
Cedric could pick her out of the Slytherin crowd at dinner, which bothered him. Thankfully Ravenclaw came in the middle, and once he sat down he couldn't see her, so he couldn't actually stare at her. He was a little worried that, given the opportunity, he would.
As his gaze grazed the Ravenclaw table, he caught a flash of black, and then Cho's eye. There was only a time for a quick smile - that he returned - before some sandy-haired sixth-year lurched between them, reaching for the salt, and Cedric turned away, bracing for the elbow in his ribs before he remembered that Jerry was sitting on the other side of the table and two places up, next to Megan Jones, because he'd been practically stalking her since the Ball.
Finch-Fletchley, on Cadwallader's other side, grinned at Cedric encouragingly. "Going OK with the task, Diggory?"
He remembered, of course, even as Finch-Fletchley was saying, "The second tournament task."
"Yeah," Cedric said, "fine."
"Right," Stebbins snorted from beside him. "And that's why there's such a pile of books beside your bed it's warping the floor."
Despina laughed. "Sure that's not your porn stash?" she asked, and Stebbins flung an asparagus spear at her.
Cedric turned back to Finch-Fletchley with a smile, saying, "Pass the--" and someone was standing behind Justin, robes and a green-striped tie and a red-lettered badge over a rather impressive chest. Cedric finished with "--peas," trying to remember what peas were and why he wanted them, as Pansy wedged an elbow in between Finch-Fletchley and Cadwallader and pried them apart enough to lean in.
She braced a hand on the edge of the table. "Oi, Abbott," she said, but her eyes skipped to Cedric, which he noticed because he was, at this point, staring.
He glanced away, down the table to Susan and Hannah, who'd stopped their discussion and were staring at Pansy with their mouths open. Hannah closed hers, then said, "Yeah, what?"
Cedric looked back at Pansy, but he wasn't the only one; half the table was following the conversation like it was a particularly stunning Quidditch exchange. It wasn't as though people never went visiting at dinner, but this, everyone seemed to know, was something unusual. Pansy wasn't looking at Cedric now; she was smirking across the table at Hannah with a twist in her mouth that Cedric thought was that sardonic edge he'd seen before. An in-joke. Not for Hannah, though. "I need the El-Abbadi book for that Arithmancy assignment," Pansy said. "Pince said you had it. Done with it yet?"
"Er," Hannah said, as half of Hufflepuff turned to look at her. "Yeah, I guess. I haven't got it with me, you realise."
Pansy rolled her eyes, leaning back again (though Finch-Fletchley and Cadwallader remained where they'd been pushed to, still watching wide-eyed). "Of course not. I'll get it off you in class tomorrow."
No word of farewell, she just turned and walked up the table, and Cedric realised he was still watching her when she looked at him sidelong, smirking even more now, and he looked down hurriedly, at the steaming bowl of peas in his hand. It was bloody heavy; he set it down with a thunk on the table.
"What the hell was that?" Finch-Fletchley was demanding.
"Like I know!" Hannah said.
"Up to something," Susan said.
"Nice tits on 'er," Stebbins mused, and Cedric looked up quickly, but Despina hurled the asparagus spear back and hit Stebbins right in the eye, and no one noticed Cedric at all.
He tried not to think about her - Pansy, of course - again. She wasn't that pretty, after all. Even with those eyes and that smile, her nose was oddly upturned and too small and she was a little plump, though that led to those very pleasant curves -- stop it!
Cho was much prettier. She smiled warmly and sunnily every time she saw him in the corridors, and he smiled back, and once when they were going the same way she took his hand as they walked along, and that was really nice, so next time they bumped into each other at a corner and stopped to exchange meaningless smalltalk, he took her hand. She smiled even more then, and he brushed his thumb across the back of her knuckles.
Much better to think about Cho. But apparently his brain still considered something about Pansy more interesting, because it brought her up and returned to her and circled around her at the oddest moments. But considering that nothing about this year was going the way it ordinarily would, or anything close to the way he'd planned it, he figured he could live with that.
Until he rounded a corner on his prefect round one evening and just about ran into her. "Pansy," he said, stopping just short of where she was leaning against the wall beside the doorway to one of the classrooms. She wasn't wearing her robes, and her tie was loosened enough to allow a couple of undone buttons to show off her cleavage. Her hair was loose around her shoulders, but kinked from being tied back all day, and she was smirking, and that's when Cedric realised he'd used her name. "What are you doing here?" he demanded. It was past curfew. That's why he was doing the stupid round, after all.
"Waiting for you," she said, grabbing his tie and pulling him into the classroom.
He was so surprised he just went, almost tripping over his own feet. It was dark in the classroom, but there was enough light from the hallway for him to see her face - her eyes - and this time the challenge was personal, and there was no mistaking that smirk. Just for him, and Merlin help him, it all went straight to the part of his anatomy that had been most interested in her from the start.
Pansy pushed lightly at his shoulders, like a suggestion that he lean against the wall, which he took because he couldn't think of anything else to do, with her standing there in the slanted light and half dark, looking up at him from under lowered lashes with absolutely nothing coy in her gaze.
When she stepped in closer, just about touching him, Cedric took a tremulous breath. "What are you doing?" Hadn't he already asked that? All he could think of to say. This couldn't possibly be what it appeared.
Even up on tiptoe, her face only just reached his neck, and when she laughed it was breath against the collar of his robes. His fingers twitched. She pressed even closer, and her hand - he made a noise like he'd swallowed a marble - splayed and curved over the front of his trousers, where he was half-hard and growing more so by the second.
"I reckon," she said, dry lips and damp breath against the side of his neck, "giving you a blowjob."
"Wh-what?" But she'd already dropped down, working his trouser fastenings with deft fingers. Even as he was looking down, catching the chestnut gleam of her hair in the faint light, she freed him from pants and underwear, stroked firmly. Cedric's head jolted backwards into the wall, and he gasped at dual sensation, pleasure and pain.
"Pansy," he gulped, not sure what was going to come after that. Did he really want her to stop? At least pause long enough that he could get his head around this?
But she just chuckled, and then--
--her mouth around him, hot and wet and enclosing and Merlin, Merlin, Merlin and Circe in a fucking tree, that felt really good.
His fingers, Cedric realised at one point, were tangled up and gripping in her hair, and he tried to loosen them, but then she took him deep and he gasped and his fingers clenched tighter. A little later, he felt a shudder starting, and tried to say, "I'm - uh..." but she just doubled her efforts, and the orgasm broke over him more suddenly than he expected, thundering through him. He thought he actually saw stars, but maybe he'd just smacked his head even harder this time.
It took a long moment for him to pull himself together, and by the time he was up to putting himself away, rearranging the somewhat uncomfortable pants-and-trousers situation, she was leaning against the nearest desk in a slant of light, rubbing at her scalp just about her right ear. Her mouth was reddened, frowning.
"Pansy," he said, thinking he should say... what? What the hell did you say in a situation like this? Thanks would possibly be a good start.
She wasn't paying any attention, not even looking at him. "I think you pulled out a chunk of my hair."
Cedric had this sudden flash of annoyance at her grumpiness. Like this had been his idea. Like she'd given him a chance to do anything. "Pansy," he snapped.
Her eyes jumped up to his. "What?" she demanded.
He was already reaching. Grabbed her shoulder and jerked her forward, even as he bent down and it was half a kiss, half a collision. Cedric shoved his tongue into her mouth and she tasted salty, and he supposed that was him. She made a noise like she was trying to say something, but he shifted his hand up towards her neck and held her there, doing his best to kiss her until she started helping (and it didn't take long at all). The next time she moved back, he let her. Just bit her lip as she went, leaving it even redder when she smiled at him, a not-quite-controlled slash across her face.
He really liked that look on her.
"Yeah, all right," she said. "You can do that again sometime." He grinned, and she said, doing up a button on her shirt, "I should get back. It's past curfew."
"No kidding," he said.
Cedric got Cho a card for Valentine's. He thought it was nice, but there was a little bit of niggling uncertainty, so he asked Despina's advice. He made the hideous mistake of asking for it in the commonroom, though, and the whole fourth year coterie descended upon it, shouting opinions - too plain, not enough pink, why didn't it have the word "love" on it anywhere? - but he finally managed to swipe it off Susan while she was arguing cupids versus fairies with Megan. Cedric rolled his eyes at Despina, who just grinned.
What the hell did it matter anyway, as long as Cho liked it?
"It's beautiful," she said on the day, when he practically sprinted from his Arithmancy class to catch her between Ancient Runes and Herbology. She stood very close to him, her hand in his, her grin so near and so sincere that he couldn't resist ducking down to kiss it. Cho was taller, only a little bit shorter than him, and it was comfortable. She kissed him back, lingering and sweet, until a wolf-whistle reminded him they were in the corridor.
Cedric lifted his head, feeling a slight burn at the back of his neck. There was a hint of a blush on Cho's cheeks as well, but she held his hand tighter and tucked in against his side as a gaggle of fourth-year Ravenclaws went hooting and hollering past. McGonagall, coming along behind them, lifted an eyebrow, and said, "Don't be late for class, Miss Chang, Mister Diggory." Cedric ducked his head, grinning, and his cheek brushed Cho's head. She was giggling against his shoulder.
She'd got him a card too. It was plain and elegant, with blue and gold filigree. She hadn't signed it, but he knew her writing. She'd written, You make me feel like this could be something.
When he'd read it, all the rambunctious noise of half of Hufflepuff teasing the other half over their Valentines had faded away into a blinding moment of... he didn't know what. Yes, he'd thought, and felt a bit like he'd opened a Christmas present expecting socks, and got a racing broom instead.
With five days before the second task, Cedric was absolutely certain that there wasn't a thing more he could do except go crazy worrying about what he might have forgotten. It would be really convenient if he could go to sleep and wake up five days later. It felt like the top of his head was going to come off.
He sat with Cho in the library, while she worked on her Runes assignment and he systematically shredded quill after quill. At regular intervals, she'd glance at him, amused, and he'd shrug and get embarrassed. Eventually, she packed up, and he walked her back to Ravenclaw and only got a fairly chaste kiss for it, because a pack of third-year boys arrived at the same time and showed no inclination to rack off, even when firmly invited to.
On the way from there to Hufflepuff, Cedric went past the owlery. Scribbled a note.
The next day he felt clearer. The next night, after curfew, Pansy met him in the classroom. "Just whistle and expect, huh?" she said, chin up.
Cedric just kissed her, hard, and she seemed to be expecting it, because she pushed him back against the desk, yanking on his tie.
He shut the door this time, and cast lumos, the witchlight dancing over the bare skin of her back as she braced over the desk. Her head was up and she still had her skirt on, flipped up over her hips. "C'mon," she said as he pushed inside her. She hissed a breath in, shuffled her hands on the edge of the desk, but when he paused, she just repeated, more vehemently, "Come on." Her hips and breasts filled his hands, and she pushed back against him, pushed, sneering, "Is that all you've got?" until he fucked her harder. The only time she shut up was when she came.
"Not bad," she said afterwards, as he panted against her shoulder. "For a Hufflepuff." She wriggled. "You weight a ton, geroff."
She fixed her hair first, still shirtless, and Cedric watched, because it wasn't as if she was at all self-conscious about it. He pulled up his trousers, buckled the belt. He'd just fucked a fourth year.
"When's your birthday?" he asked, as Pansy buttoned her shirt, and she shot him a look and just laughed. Cedric felt like he'd been caught out, which he supposed wasn't so far from the truth.
She didn't kiss him again before she left. Cedric didn't really need her to.
The good thing about the aftermath of the second task was that he could hold onto Cho, and she could hold onto him, and no one seemed to think it was at all untoward or even to really notice in the chaos, which was just as well, because he didn't think he could let her go just yet.
She'd promised to meet him before the task. "I'll give you a kiss for good luck," she'd said, and he'd grinned, and when she hadn't showed up he'd been a bit annoyed and surprised he could feel it for nerves. But he felt ready. Calm and sure and ready.
Right up until he'd seen her underwater.
"It's a good thing I didn't know they were taking you," he said, against her hair and not meeting her eye. "Or I really would have gone crazy."
She laid her damp head against his blanketed shoulder.
Oh, he thought.
He didn't, Cedric realised, even like Pansy. She was too sharp, too vicious, too demanding, too whiny. When he did see her in the corridors, she was never being nice to people, even people in her own house. She was always calling that friend of hers - Millicent something - an idiot, and she was, but still. The few times he heard her talk about Harry Potter she was especially vitriolic, and Cedric didn't think Harry was that bad.
He didn't think she liked him - Cedric, that was - either. She was never much interested in talking with him, and there was never gentleness in her hands.
And when he stopped her in the corridor, the day after the second task, she made an elaborate show of making sure no one was watching, and that made him bristle. Sure, he had good reasons to want to keep this a secret, but what damage could be done to her from being involved with the Hogwarts Champion?
Maybe she had a thing going with that Malfoy boy. Cedric could hardly throw stones.
"It's over," he said. She looked at him like his head was on backwards. "It shouldn't have ever started," he added.
Pansy rolled her eyes. "Whatever," she said, and walked away.
"What is it?" Cho asked at Madame Puddifoot's, brow furrowed, stroking the back of his hand on the table. "What's the matter?"
Cedric leaned closer, touched his forehead to hers, and he wanted, but he wanted this too. Her smile and her concern and the burr of her accent around his name. Her. "Nothing," he murmured. "Absolutely nothing."
Sometimes he caught himself thinking of the future. This weird combination of planning and vision. Two more years, he'd think, and figure that he'd be finished his training by then and he'd have a proper job, and that'd mean there was enough money to get married, right?
He didn't so much as mention that sort of thing to Cho. He figured it'd scare her. Hell, it scared him. He was still a teenager, for Merlin's sake.
But it only scared him a little.