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By: Jessi_Rose
Beta read by: arithmancy_wiz and nicalyse
Chapter Graphic: sauerkraut_poet
Title: Lost Opportunities
Rating/Warnings: 12+ (none)
For the Staff: This one goes out to shade, Ravengryffendor, LogicalRaven, Noblevyne, and timeturner. Over the last few months, you all have been a tremendous help to me in one way or another! I hope this shows my appreciation and gratitude for all of your help!

A/N - I do have to give major thanks for saurkraut_poet for helping me kick start this fic. And also to Dobby101 for having a really fun dialogue-a-thon with me. You both rock! :)

“It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”

As those two fatal words spilled out of his heinous mouth, a fleeting image crossed my mind. I thought not of myself and my wasted future, but of her face, sodden with tears, staring down at my lifeless form with a mixture of pain and regret. How I wished, in that moment, to somehow convey the depth of my feelings to her! Or was it better to leave the words unsaid? Would it help her to move on more quickly? Just an hour ago, my blood would have boiled at the thought of another man holding her in his arms. And now, all I can think of is how I missed my one opportunity to tell her how much I love her, and to guarantee that everything will be okay.

Late into the fall, a group of Hufflepuff sixth years stood on the castle grounds, admiring the way the golden sun reflected brilliantly off of the vast lake and rebounded on the mighty walls of the historical school. Deep into conversation about the approaching Yule Ball, they chatted excitedly with the champion, Cedric Diggory, the only Hufflepuff to have a date as of yet.

“Cedric is going with Cho Chang from Ravenclaw, aren’t you Ced?” prodded a young man on the right of the handsome Triwizard contestant.

Cedric looked up from the ground with a shining smile, displaying his beautiful pearl teeth, along with a set of dimples that had sent most girls into fits and giggles. As his russet, tidy tresses fell lightly over one eye, Cedric inclined his head at his house mates in order to let them know what they heard in the rumour mill was, in fact, true. A few wolf whistles sounded around him, but Cedric was ignoring the calls of the immature boys and was now supremely focused on the most gorgeous girl to ever walk the planet.

Cho Chang had just emerged from the school, walking with her friend Marietta, talking in hurried whispers in between enthusiastic titters. Her onyx hair swung around her shoulder before her chocolate eyes met the obvious stare of Cedric. Smile still plastered to his face, he offered his apologies to his friends and walked over to meet with Cho and her friend. His hand reached out immediately to take the books that she had been holding in her hands, while his eyes stole another glance at her. The beauty that was embodied within the girl, to Cedric, was in such quantities that it almost made it impossible to breathe in her presence. It was as if the world was feeding all of its substance to her, leaving the rest of the population to die in wonder.

Marietta smiled knowingly at Cedric and ran off in search of her other Ravenclaw friends, most likely to tell them of Cho’s latest beau. As Cedric and Cho walked onward, their mutual target became the large oak tree on the lakeside. When they reached the shade of the mighty oak, Cedric removed his top layer of robes, laid them upon the plush green grass, and offered his hand out to Cho to help her sit down. Her face brightened considerably as she took his strong, masculine hand. A static electric sensation flowed through Cedric’s body, leaving him momentarily immobile. It was the best and most terrifying feeling he had ever experienced. He looked on to Cho, her coffee colored eyes sparkling with the glistening of the water, her tan skin soaking up the sunlight. She had an immaculate glow about her, one that was fascinating and mesmerising. Catching himself staring, Cedric turned his attention back to the water, still ensnared by the ambience he was receiving from his Ball date.

“Are you frightened of the next task?” Her voice, though quiet and velvety, easily broke the reverie that Cedric had created.

“Oh,” he shook his head. “Terrified, actually. The second task is only a month away, and I still haven’t an idea on how I’m going to survive it.” Moving his eyes quickly to Cho, he saw a small grin curve on her lips, which he returned with his charming pearlescent smile.

“You’ll do fine,” she assured, letting her hand graze his bicep as she patted it affectionately. “You’re the most talented in the tournament. I’ve seen you in class. You are a very skilled wizard.”

As much as he tried to hide his proud smile, still, a smirk presented itself. Trying not to seem too confident, he slipped her a slight wink and turned his attention back to the lake with a sigh.

When I felt our connection by the lake, something inside of me told me that she was the one, the one I was made for. I remember breathing in her scent, fresh lilac. Even when she was no where around, I could smell it, and I knew that somewhere, someplace, there was someone who was thinking about me, and loving me completely; though we never did tell each other how we felt.

She’s with me now, I feel it. Though that hiss will be the last thing I hear, the last thing I smell, the last thing I see, and the last thing I experience will be Cho. Her love is overthrowing the terror that is residing within me now and graciously masking the sorrow.

The Weird Sisters slowed down the melody, causing all of the couples on the dance floor to step closer together. Cedric and Cho, who had taken a break from dancing in order to get drinks, were sitting at one of the tables, listening to the mindless chatter of their surrounding friends, both too preoccupied with one another to really take in anything the other classmates were saying.

When there was a slight silence at the table, Cedric leaned into Cho’s ear and whispered, “Care to dance?”

Cho nodded excitedly, her swept up hair bouncing as her head moved. She gripped onto Cedric’s outstretched hand and followed him enthusiastically to the dance floor, realizing that the song was slow- and romantic. She hadn’t been paying proper attention earlier and now was flushed at the thought of being so close to Cedric, wrapped securely in his arms.

They stood a foot apart, both locked in an intense staring contest. His strapping arm reached out and gripped around her waist as her arm slid around his neck. He stole her other hand from her side and brought it up, even with his shoulder and held onto it, as if the world would slip away if he let it go. Afraid of prancing on her feet, Cedric guided them around in long, graceful steps. The tension of being so close was starting to grasp at him, and a slight nervous smile crept up on his face. For a fraction of a second he looked to the ground before bringing his eyes up to meet her shining, dark brown orbs. They were dazzling and enchanting, lined beautifully with a tan shimmer that made them stand out against her flawless skin.

“You’re beautiful,” he complimented in a sexy whisper. “The most beautiful girl in this room.”

Cho’s slender hand slipped from Cedric's and found its way to his neck, intertwining with her other hand. Cedric allowed himself to wrap his arms around her waist and pull her in closer, breathing in the fresh lilac scent that lingered playfully in her hair. In his stomach, knots were forming. He was beginning to lose himself in her, in every way possible; the way she moved, the way she smelled, and the way she spoke.

“I really like you Cedric,” she purred against his chest.

He held her tighter, forgetting about the steps they were dancing. His focus became her presence; there was nothing more important in the world than soaking in the immeasurable bliss that he felt being so close to the woman he loved.

I can still feel the smile on her face that I felt against my chest that night when she told me that she liked me. I wonder, does she know that at that moment I wanted to tell her that I loved her? That being in the company of her makes me think I own the world? I doubt she will ever understand just how much I feel for her. My heart aches that I never got to say it. I had so many chances to express to her exactly how she turns my world upside down. The sun never sets on this feeling inside; the feeling of hummingbirds twittering a parade in my stomach, sending shocks to awaken my brain. I love her, and I wish I could have said it.

After a long day of classes and studying in the Great Hall, they had decided to stretch their legs about the castle. It was getting late, curfew had almost kicked in. Cedric offered his escort to her common room entrance, which she accepted. They had been walking for what seemed like hours in silence, simply enjoying the piece of each other’s company.

“Are you coming to watch the Third Task?” Cedric asked.

Cho looked at Cedric in mild surprise. Why would he even have to ask? “Of course! Why wouldn’t I?”

“Well, I figured,” he ran his labored hand through his smooth hair, “I figured you’d be a nervous wreck, actually.”

Their walking stopped as Cho stepped forward quickly, taking one of Cedric’s arms in her tiny hand. “Cedric, I am a nervous wreck! But, that won’t stop me from being there supporting you. You know that I,” she took a deep breath and stared him square in the eyes, “care a lot about you.”

So, he finally knew how she felt. Cho had an uncanny ability to hide exactly how she felt and he had taken it upon himself to tell her countless times in the last few weeks to loosen up and show herself. When he spoke, it was meticulous, “I care for you, too. And…” he broke off the intensity of the eye contact and started determinedly at the floor.

“And what?” Cho urged. “Is there something wrong? Are you scared?”

He gave a gentle chuckle. “Scared? Hardly. I think…I think that you,” he sighed loudly, while forcing his hand to move from cupping his neck to her hand. He tangled their fingers together and spoke more seriously. “You’re great, you know? I just don’t want you to worry, is all.”

“You know I’m going to worry. I’ve worried throughout this competition. So many people have…well…you know.”

“Died-” Cedric finished for her. “I won’t be one of them, Cho. Dumbledore has all the right protections around to make sure we don’t get too hurt.”

She stomped her foot in a miniature tantrum. He just didn’t get it! “But, I couldn’t deal with it if someone that I lo-you didn’t come back out of that maze.”

Cedric knew what she was about to say. However, at this moment, it wasn’t time for declarations of love. It was the time to assure her that he would be okay. “I’m coming back. If not for anything else, I’ll be back for you.”

I have been made a liar. I cannot return to her, and I cannot comfort her. In mere seconds, I will cease to exist in the physical world and take up a place among the dead. In dark and dangerous times I will not be able to hold her, to protect her, to whisper encouraging words into her ear. And now, she will turn to someone else in hopes of easing the pain. She deserves to be happy, she deserves to move on. However, though we never said, I am and always will be her first love. Just the same as she is my first and last. If I could do one more thing with my life, I would tell her that it is better that we received the chance to discover our love, than to have wondered about it through our lives. I hope she feels me inside of her right now, as my body begins to fall to the earth. I love her…I loved her.

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