His most important moments happened in a heartbeat.
Then he closed his eyes and walked through a wall. He’s a grown boy now, off to school without his parents to coddle him.
Then he took a deep breath and kicked off from the ground. He thinks he has a good chance at Hufflepuff Seeker, if he just keeps the sun from his eyes.
Then he looked in every shadow before he dropped his slip of scroll in the Goblet. He feels like someone is watching him, but he never sees anyone else.
Now he stands shoulder to shoulder with Harry Potter in a dark and gloomy graveyard in an unknown part of the world. He knows there’s evil here, and as much as he wants to run, he knows he has to face danger side by side with this boy even more.
“Someone’s coming,” Harry says suddenly. He doesn’t know how Harry can tell; he’s felt eyes on him since they first arrived. But he trusts Harry, and tenses up with his wand out; ready for anything.
The figure in the shadows is indistinct with oddly blurred edges that coalesce into robes loosely bundled in his arms. He wants to run, wants to grab the Cup and portkey back to Hogwarts, wants his father to stand between him and whatever is in those robes, wants Dumbledore and McGonagall and every teacher he’s ever had with their wands out and ready and still thinks that wouldn’t be enough.
“Kill the spare.” The voice is thin and demanding and coming from the robes, and even as he thinks these things, he’s grabbing Harry’s shoulder and diving for the ground, seeking whatever cover he can find.
He’s a damned good Seeker.
He’s still rolling, mostly behind a worn old tombstone when another voice shouts out Avada Kedavra and a sickly green light brightens the darkness.
Someone is aiming the Killing Curse at him.
He wants to freeze. He wants to whimper. He wants to hide. He wants all this to just go away.
He really wishes Harry’d taken the damn Cup when he first offered it.
No, he doesn’t wish that, even if he doesn’t think either of them will survive this. Harry looks so damn young, on hands and knees beside him, ready to bolt for the next bit of cover.
The thin demanding voice is screeching again, ordering the nervous obedient man to ‘kill him. Kill him now, Wormtail.’
Harry stiffens and looks up at him. Harry doesn’t look so young now. He’s never noticed before how old Harry’s eyes look. “We need to split up, Cedric,” Harry is saying. “We need to confuse them so you can get to the Cup and use it to go back to Hogwarts and tell Dumbledore what’s happening.”
He could do it. He could run through the headstones, zigging and zagging with the horrible green flashes on his heels and he could get to the Cup and get Dumbledore. Dumbledore would save Harry.
No one could expect more of him. No one could expect him to stay.
He’s just seventeen and he doesn’t want to die.
But Harry’s just fourteen, and he can see in Harry’s eyes that Harry doesn’t want to die either. He tries to ignore the glimmer at the back of Harry’s eyes that says they haven’t got a hope. There’s always a hope, that’s what Mother always says.
“We go together, Harry. I’ll not leave you running around this awful place dodging Unforgiveable Curses until I get back. I’ll meet you at… that big headstone over there,” he points.
He sees Harry nod, and counts down on his fingers. With his hand closed tightly, they take off running. Only then does he see his mistake. Only then does he realize how foolishly brave Harry is.
He’d forgotten about Harry’s ankle.
Harry can’t run, can barely managed a quick hobble. But that quick hobble is fast enough to take Harry out of his reach, out where he can’t help him.
“Get help, Cedric,” Harry calls.
And he hates himself for it, but he looks at the Cup. He thinks about not dying, thinks about getting on with his life and pretending this was just a horrible dream. Thinks about going back to Hogwarts as the Triwizard Champion, thinks about starting Seventh year and leading Hufflepuff to Quiddich Cup victory.
Thinks about flying against Gryffindor without the small boy with the green eyes as Seeker.
And he runs. He runs away from the Cup, away from Hogwarts, back to the black haired boy who has seen too much and not enough.
He’s five feet from Harry when the green flash hits the tombstone right in front of him. He has just enough time to be grateful that whoever ‘Wormtail’ is, his aim is terrible, when the tombstone shatters, breaks and falls in an explosion of stone.
And then there’s no more time at all.
He knows he’s trapped. He knows he’s going to die. He can’t feel anything below his chest and he thinks maybe he’s already mostly dead.
But he can feel Harry stumble towards him, grab his hand and whisper ‘don’t move’, so he doesn’t. He stares sightlessly at the sky, knowing this is the end of everything and thinking of all the things he’d like to say.
And Harry squeezes his fingers, then stumbles off. From the corner of his eye, he sees Wormtail, a short squirrely looking wizard grab Harry and bind him to a tombstone. He sees a huge stone caldron moved into place and sees the most perverted ritual he’s ever seen.
He sees Voldemort reborn.
And he can feel his legs again and wishes he couldn’t, but he thinks no one is paying any attention, because Voldemort is talking, bragging, controlling his audience, his followers.
And he knows they are out numbered, and he knows his body is broken beyond all repair, but Wormtail is untying Harry, and maybe they have a chance.
And he thinks very quietly that he’s not sure he wants to live if his body is broken, but the much louder part of his brain is screaming at him to live, damn you, no matter what.
And he can see Harry forced to duel against the thing that Voldemort has become, sees Harry scared and determined and he pulls the stones off his body piece by piece.
And he hides in the shadows and waits for his chance.
So he sees the battle of Little Hangleton, the boy who lived against the man who’d kill them all. He sees the gold light between the two wands, the golden cage, the shadowy figures. And he knows from the vibration in the air when the change is coming, so he prepares himself for the pain.
The gold light disappears, the shadowy figures descend on Voldemort and Harry runs towards Cedric and Cedric runs towards Harry and they meet in the middle and together they scream ‘Accio’ and the Cup flies to them and they touch it together a second time.
And they collapse, sobbing, clinging together.
It’s the sobs that wake Harry, it always is. No matter how many years have passed, no matter how many times he relives it in his dreams, he always cries when he finds himself alive but still broken.
And like always, Harry gathers him in his arms and whispers his name. Harry strokes his hair and Harry doesn’t leave and Harry doesn’t let go and Harry tells him ‘I love you, I’ve loved you so long’.
And to the sound of Harry’s heartbeat, Cedric sleeps.