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time is a bandit (time is a thief)

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He died.

He remembers dying.

He remembers "Kill the spare." and he remembers staring at a fat ugly bastard in the face as he lifted his wand.

But then, just as soon he had died, he woke up in his bed with a start.

His Hogwarts bed, not the bed at home with the striped sheets in the room with his quidditch posters and faded brown wallpaper.

The Avada Kedavra is fresh in his mind, he thinks he might still feel it too somewhere, in his bones.

A dream, he concludes, even though he doesn't really believe it.

"Oi, Cedric, get up! Haven't you got a task to prepare for?"




His life is a record stuck on repeat.

He doesn't take the cup. The song skids to a halt, pauses.

He wakes up in his bed. Repeat.

He kills the man- Pettigrew, he learns. The song skids to a halt, pauses.

He wakes up in his bed. Repeat.

He doesn't show up to the third task at all. Pause.







He's read every single book on time travel, time anomalies, anything.

He doesn't find a single answer. Not a single way out, not a single other person who's been through what he's going through.

Cedric is about to lose his mind.

Hermione Granger drops into the seat opposite him.

"Granger?" He asks.

He remembers the ball, remembers how she had looked then. All lovely and bright and otherworldly. He clings to that memory, desperately, the way he clings onto most things now.

"Diggory. Are you alright? You look a bit-"

"I can't get to tomorrow." He says, sudden and out of nowhere, because he's so very tired and exhausted of grappling with everything on his own.

Hermione raises her brows. "Excuse me?"

"I repeat the same day over and over and over again."

She goes silent for a long time at his confession, mind whirling. Her eyes drop to the book in his hands, then back up to his face.

"Groundhog Day."

Cedric blinks. "Groundhog Day?"

"It's a muggle film, about a man who's going through exactly what you seem to be going through right now."

Hope blossoms somewhere. And Cedric knows he shouldn't latch onto it, but he does, he latches on like a drowning man to the shore. "How does it end? It does end, doesn't it? He doesn't stay trapped in the same day forever?"

"It ends, yes."


"He falls in love, I believe, or gets a girl to fall in love with him. But the most important part was that during all his loops, he learnt to become a better man. He was rather conceited to begin with, you see, so the movie was about his growth as a person."

"You think the same thing will work for me?"

Hermione regards him with a strange look in her eye, like she doesn't really believe him, but is humouring him anyway. "I'm not sure. I don't think his situation and yours are all that similar, so I'm not sure those same methods will apply."

Cedric scrunches his face up, tight.

"Tell me something about you that no one else knows."

She frowns at him, confused. "Why?"

"So that when this starts all over again I can find you and convince you I'm not crazy."

Hermione purses her lips, considering this carefully.

"Lavender Brown was my first kiss."

Cedric chokes. "Lavender Brown was your first kiss?"

"I told her that I'd never kissed anyone before, and was a little nervous about it, so she offered to teach me how."

And, okay, that was about the last thing he had expected her to tell him.

"If I find that you've told anyone about this, I will not hesitate to ruin that pretty face of yours." Is the last thing she says to him before she stands up and walks away.

He falls in love, I believe, or he gets a girl to fall in love with him.

He keeps this in mind.




"Groundhog Day." He says, in lieu of an actual greeting.

Hermione's head snaps up from her book, and she glares just a bit. "What?"

"Lavender Brown was your first kiss." He says next.

She inhales, sharp. "How did you-"

"Groundhog Day. That muggle film? You told me about it yesterday, or technically today."

Hermione thinks he's crazy, he can see it in her eyes. "Look, I don't know what-"

"Lavender Brown was your first kiss. You told me that, you told me yesterday today because I'm living Groundhog Day and I needed some way to convince you to believe me."

She stares at him for a long moment, mouth open.

She doesn't buy it yet, he knows, but he can also tell she's budging just a bit.

"Why would you need me to believe you?" She asks.

He sighs in relief, glad that she hadn't decided to just call him mental and walk away from him. "Because you're the only person who seems to know anything about what's happening to me. And I know technically your knowledge of one muggle film might not really help me, but it's better than nothing. There were no books, no books about it at all, I checked."

The no books part seems to bother Hermione plenty, a bit more than anything else. Cedric would've laughed, maybe would've even found it a bit adorable, but given the circumstances he just looks on silently instead.

"Right. So, I'm fairly certain that this is fate's way of saying something needed to change, making you repeat everything over and over until you get it right. Do you have any idea what that might be?"

Cedric frowns a bit, shaking his head. "Well, the first time I went through today, I died. I tried avoiding it the next few times, but it didn't change anything."

Hermione pales. "You died?"

"Oh yeah," He says, as if he almost forgot that small detail, "it was during the third task. It's a maze, and we had to solve puzzles and everything to get to the triwizard cup in the centre. Cup was a portkey though, took me and Harry with it to some graveyard. And then I get killed pretty much immediately. Once, I stuck around long enough to find out that the man who killed me- Pettigrew- was working for Voldemort and they planned the whole thing, bringing Harry there, because they needed his blood. I had just been collateral damage."

Having lived through it quite a few times now, Cedric could afford to talk about it without the usual seriousness. It's hard for him to take anything seriously now, not when time was frozen for him and he'd never have to bear the consequences for anything that he did. It made him careless, sometimes. Callous. Given the circumstances though, he felt he was pretty justified.

"Pettigrew." Hermione mutters, looking both murderous and greatly worried at the same time.

She knew the man who killed him, then.

"I'll tell you my story if you tell me yours." He offers, grinning.

She stiffens up a bit, but nods.

He tells her what he remembers- each day he's lived through, relayed with agonising detail. He'd committed to remembering, just incase there was a little detail he'd need and that would be the key to him finally breaking the loop.

She tells him about everything she went through with Harry since first year. Cedric kind of didn't believe it at first, but then it made sense to him, all the strange rumours and what happened to him in the graveyard. And, fuck, had Voldemort been a threat this whole time? While he was making out in corners with Cho after class and playing quidditch as if it mattered at all in the grand scheme of things?

Maybe he would just stay in the loop. Just live the same day for an eternity. He probably wouldn't have to deal with Voldemort that way.

It comforts him a little, that thought.

"Given the fact that you died the first time, and that's what started everything, I'd assume that the world is pushing for a version of today that doesn't involve in you dying. But I think there might also be something specific it wants you to do, I just have no idea what that could be."

Love, he thinks again, reminded of what she'd said the last time. Falling in love with someone might be easy, he thinks. But getting someone else to fall in love with him? In one day? That might be a challenge.

"You mentioned love. Falling in love, getting someone to fall in love with me. You said that happened in the film."

She nods. "It does happen. I'm not sure that's the only reason the loop had ended for him, but either way it did end when the girl he had fallen in love with loved him back."

"I could do that, couldn't I? I'm charming enough."

She snorts. "I wouldn't exactly place your expectations too high. Getting someone to fall in love with you in one day is close to impossible, even for someone as charming as you."

He shouldn't, he really shouldn't, but he takes it as a challenge.




Wooing someone is easy, Cedric realises.

But love is a different game all together. 

He starts with Cho because there's already groundwork laid out there, a history that helps boost things along.

Except it doesn't help. And yes, he can flirt and tease and she'll blush as she should, giggle as if on cue, but it's not love. It is nowhere near love.

He has no idea what to do with that.

He tells Hermione as much, after going through convincing her of his predicament again.

"I'm almost certain I would've already told you it wasn't going to happen."

Cedric huffs. "You might've."

Hermione smiles, in that pitying way he hates. "We'll figure it out."

He believes her, because she's her, and he's pretty sure if she said something she meant it. But he also didn't, because he knew himself, and he knew the world, and he was certain it wasn't going to let him go.




Fate has it out for him, Cedric knows that now.

Whatever he changes, whatever he does, none of it ends the nightmare he's found himself in.

He spent hours, maybe even months now, pouring over it all with Hermione.

Cedric is half convinced he's left his mind behind on one of the previous runs of the day, and now he's just functioning on nothing but the empty space in his skull and his heart.

Nothing changes.

At breakfast one of the first year Hufflepuffs choke on a slice of toast, Cho finds him sometime afterwards to tell him good luck on the last task, and Professor Sprout assures him he's going to do well.

He finds Hermione in the library, sitting at the table in the corner next to the window, her potions homework spread out in front of her.

What happens next was mostly up to him. He goes to the task, dies. He goes to the task, doesn't die.

Then he wakes up in bed as if none of it had happened.

Once he had burst into tears in the middle of the Great Hall, just to see what would happen.

Unfortunately, that hadn't been the answer either. Not that he didn't still cry afterwards.

He cries a lot in this period, in this long everlasting stretch, he cries as he did when he was a baby.

(He doesn't tell Hermione this, but on one of the loops, he kills himself.

He climbs to the top of the astronomy tower, and throws himself off.

When he had woken up in bed after that, he laughed.)




Cedric has more or less resigned himself to his fate now, going through his days with a monotony that tires him.

And then things change.

He knows this scene, knows exactly when the doors will open and who will walk through. But something is different.

He looks to the Gryffindor table, and catches Hermione's gaze. She looks away as soon as he catches her, but that, that had never happened before.

Something coils in Cedric's stomach.

"Diggory." She says later, when she's caught him as he's on his way to find her in the library.

Cedric gasps. He can't help it. She's never done this before, she's never sought him out before. She's not supposed to know him, she's not supposed to remember knowing him.

"Yes?" He squeaks. Squeaks.

Hermione's mouth twitches, before smoothing out into a line. "We need to talk."

He follows after her silently, as she leads the way to the library, but surprisingly, instead of walking to her usual table, she leads him to the back, between one of the dustier shelves people clearly haven't visited in years.

"Does Groundhog Day mean anything to you?" She asks, and Cedric feels all the breath leave his lungs.

"Yes. Why?"

Hermione frowns a smidge. It's adorable, it's the best thing he's ever seen. He sort of feels like kissing her, like sweeping her off her feet and spinning her around and dancing.

"I keep hearing it in my head, whenever I see you. And I was sort of wondering if maybe we'd met before? I know that's probably something I should remember but I just-" She huffs then, as if not entirely sure what she was saying, like she was frustrated with herself for not knowing what was happening, "-I feel like I know you, and I have no idea why."

Cedric takes a big gulp of air into his lungs. Okay. Okay. Clearly all those times he had sought her out was doing something, changing things just a bit, if she was beginning to remember.

He tells her again what she's already heard a hundred other times.

Hermione's frown stays etched on her face.

"So, this is real then? You are actually stuck in some sort of time loop? Well not just you, but all of us. You just seem to be the only one able to remember it?"

"Yes." He nods. "But there's you now, too. You've never done this before, sought me out like this. Something changed today."

"Must be all those times we talked about it. Clearly it's left some impression on me, even if I couldn't recognise what it was."

There's a long bout of silence after that. Hermione thinking deeply about it all, and Cedric staring at her, no thoughts whatsoever in mind.

"So," She says after a while, looking up at him with bright, receptive eyes, "what now?"

And he hadn't meant to let it, but hope sparks again somewhere in his chest, and he smiles for the first time in what feels like years.




This time, he drops into the empty space beside Hermione in the morning.

Harry looks up in surprise from opposite them.

Cedric pretends this isn't at all unusual.

Hermione looks at him, slow, and then something seems to take.

Cedric bites into his toast, and regards Harry with a small smile. "Morning."

Hermione snorts a bit into her orange juice. "Morning."

She seems to be remembering more, now, if the fact that she wasn't shocked at all by his presence was anything to go by.

Lavender leans over to Hermione all of a sudden and whispers to her, "Hermione! What's this? Why is Diggory sitting with you?" though it had come out loud enough for Cedric to overhear.

Hermione smiles, leaning over to Lavender much in the same way as the other girl was doing. "Haven't you heard, Lav? We're engaged."

Lavender screams. Cedric chokes. Harry looks ready to faint.

"We're engaged?" Cedric asks, torn between laughing and running for the hills.

Hermione looks at him like he's stupid. "Of course, sweetheart, don't tell me you've forgotten already? You proposed to me yesterday, after a very fantastic shag, and said you would marry me the minute I'm out of Hogwarts."

At the word shag, Lavender shrieks yet again, while Harry mutters an excuse and promptly runs from the hall.

Cedric has sort of caught on at this point though, and merely grins. "Oh, of course. I must've still been half asleep. There's no way I could never forget that, or your spectacular performance last night."

Even though Hermione had started the whole thing, she blushes anyway when he goes along with it. Cedric finds it funny how she's able to say she shagged him so loud in front of everybody within listening distance, but the second he agrees she turns a bright shade of red.

Hermione's quite a lovely sight when she's blushing, Cedric realises.

People begin to whisper around them as the news of their impending nuptials spread throughout the hall. Hermione seems to draw the line at this, taking Cedric by the hand and pulling him out of his seat to drag him up to the library.

That wouldn't help the rumours at all, but Cedric knew that nothing would come of it in the end.

"So, we're engaged, huh?"

Hermione flushes, shy now despite the fact that she'd started it. "Oh, shut it. I just thought it would be funny."

Cedric laughs. "It was. And you shouldn't worry, I've done worse."

Hermione raises a brow at that. "Like what?"

This time it's Cedric's turn to look a bit uncomfortable, coughing a bit as if to hide his sudden tension. "Well, you have to know that I was pretty desperate at this point. Nothing I was doing worked to change anything, so I thought about every ridiculous thing I could do that I never would've normally thought of, and... well... it lead to me kissing Snape in front of everyone."

Hermione's mouth drops open at his confession, and then she promptly bursts into laughter.

Cedric briefly worries about Pince hearing and catching them, before he realises he quite likes the sound of her laughter, the image of her smiling face, the colour of her pink cheeks.

Then he thinks oh, bugger, as he recognises the irregular thumping of his heart for what it is.




He falls in love, I believe, or gets a girl to fall in love with him.




Hermione seems to be fully aware of everything now, which Cedric thought would've been a good thing, but now only makes him more nervous.

"Do you remember what you told me the first time?" He asks, palms sweating.

Hermione tilts her head to the side. He struggles to think the action is anything other than cute.

"I don't, not fully anyway. What did I say?"

Cedric's mouth is dry. "You said that he fell in love, and that he tries to get the girl he's in love with to love him back. Do you... do you think that might work for me?"

Hermione looks at him carefully, before nodding. "It might. It's worth a try, isn't it?"

Cedric agrees.

"Harry might be a bit upset though." She admits, pouting slightly.

Cedric blinks. "Potter? Why?"

"You haven't noticed? He has a thing for Cho."



"You're... in love with Cho, aren't you? That's who you're talking about?"

Cedric can only drop his mouth open in shock.

This was going to be infinitely harder than he thought.




Hermione is as infuriating as she is lovely, Cedric learns.

Brilliant, and pretty, but utterly oblivious.

He makes her laugh, he flirts, he teases, and still, nothing.

Cedric wonders how she has the ability to break his heart over and over and still have him clinging onto her every word.

"It's you." He blurts out eventually.

Hermione looks at him, those big brown eyes gazing at him curiously. "It's me?"

"It's you." He repeats. "You're the one I'm in love with."

Cedric holds his breath.

Hermione looks as if he has just told her her puppy died.

That look does not promise good things for him.

So he runs. She opens her mouth, a rejection on the tip of her tongue probably, and he just up and runs.




Avoiding her had been an easy thing.

He doesn't go the Great Hall to eat, mostly just showing up to the kitchens in odd hours and eating there while the elves worked around him.

He doesn't go to the library. Refuses to even walk past it.

He stops showing up to the third task at all, afraid that she'll be in the crowd, watching for him.

He has all the time in the world to run from Hermione.

She does manage to catch him though, eventually, because she's kind of good like that and he's run out of places to hide.

His sandwich is halfway to his mouth when Hermione suddenly appears through the door. She takes one look at him, and then freezes him to the spot with a Petrificus Totalus.

"You are impossible, Cedric Diggory." She hisses, stepping up to him with a fury he would've flinched away from if he wasn't frozen stiff. "You cannot tell me you're in love with me and then simply disappear! That's not fair!"

What's not fair, he wants to say, is that I have to experience a rejection that might ruin me completely.

"I just came to say... I'm not in love with you."

And, there it is. Cedric can hear his heart split right down the middle, and Merlin if that doesn't hurt. He wonders if she can tell, even if on the outside all she's looking at is him with his mouth open like an idiot waiting for a sandwich that's still not anywhere near his mouth.

"But," She starts to speak again, softer this time, quieter, "I do like you. I'm sure you already know all this, but the girls aren't wrong, you know. You are quite charming, and you look um, fairly dashing as well. And then if you put together all that time we spent with each other, well, I'm sure it would be quite impossible for me not to feel anything after all that. So... I'm letting you know that I do feel something, even if that something isn't love yet."

She lets her words fully sink in, staying silent for about a minute, before she waves her wand, lifting the spell from him as she turns to leave.

Cedric doesn't even fully realise he's not frozen anymore until she's long gone.




Cedric floats into the Great Hall the next (the same) day on cloud nine.

One glance at the Gryffindor table however shows Hermione missing.

She isn't in the library either, when he goes to check later.

She, it seems, was beginning to avoid him just as he had her.

He let her, for a while, because he thought he probably deserved a taste of his own medicine. But then he got antsy, he got nervous.

And then he started trying to track her down.

"Hermione? Sometimes she sits by the lake to read when the library gets too crowded."

Cedric marches to the lake with determination, mostly, but a stomach full of anxiety too.

He half expects Hermione not to be there at all, it wouldn't be the first time he's been lead astray.

She's there, to his relief. Sitting next to Viktor Krum of all people though, to his dismay.

He stands there for half a second, not really sure where to proceed from there, before Hermione raises her voice suddenly and he jerks to movement to hide himself behind a tree.

"I really am sorry, Viktor. I hadn't counted on feeling this way for somebody else and I-"

"It's alright, Hermione." Krum says, though Cedric can tell he's frowning even if he can't see him. "I understand. But can I just ask who it is?"

Hermione hesitates, and Cedric thinks he kind of sort of gets what's happening. "Um, yes, well, it's Cedric Diggory."

Viktor half gasps at that.

"Another champion?" He asks. He lacks the bitter tone though, which Cedric assumes means he's not actually all that mad about it.

Hermione laughs a bit. "I suppose I have a type."

They chat for a while, Cedric stiffening up even more with each passing word, until Krum finally bids his goodbye and leaves.

Cedric waits about another half a minute before finally walking out from behind the trees, walking up to Hermione and taking up the seat where Krum had previously occupied.

Hermione startles just a bit, eyes wide as she snaps her head up to see Cedric.

"You are impossible, Hermione Granger."

Cedric doesn't look at her, merely setting his eyes on the view of the lake in front of him.

"I can understand why you ran, now." She admits, voice small.

They sit in silence for a minute, neither of them really sure what to say.

"So, you like me." Cedric says eventually, turning to look at Hermione finally.

Hermione blushes. "And you're in love with me."

He shrugs, like it isn't true. "Where should we go from here?"

She pauses to think about it, before seemingly deciding on something and shutting the book in her lap.

"You could kiss me."

He doesn't need to be told twice.




Things are sort of half tolerable, now that he has Hermione.

He's still not moving forward in any way, and doesn't seem to be closer to the answer than he was before. But at least now he can also snog Hermione when nobody's looking.

"Want to come with me?" He asks on a whim one day.

Hermione shifts from where she's sitting on his lap to look at him properly. "Are we going on vacation?"

Cedric drops a kiss to the tip of her nose, grinning. "Not what I meant, though that would be preferable to what I had in mind. I meant to the graveyard."

"The- What- Why would you want me there?"

"Figured it might be worth a try. I've only ever been there with Harry, maybe a third person would make a difference." He shrugs. "Besides, don't you want to meet old Voldywarts?"

Hermione snorts. "Not particularly, but I suppose I'll go. I have to give Pettigrew an arse kicking for killing you, don't I?"

Cedric grins, though he supposes that's a pretty morbid thing to get excited about. "You'll save me, will you?"

"Who else will?"

Cedric had only suggested it as a joke, but when Hermione tells him she might just actually be able to follow him through the maze ("I could borrow Harry's invisibility cloak!"), they actually start planning for it.

It's a strange thing, holding Hermione's invisible hand and guiding her through the maze he's completed about fifty times now.

When they get to the cup, Hermione removes the cloak, gives him a kiss on the cheek, and they both wait around for Harry.

Harry arrives, panting and nervous, and freezes as soon as he sees- "Hermione?"

Hermione offers a small smile. "Hi, Harry."

"No time to explain," Cedric cuts in then, gesturing for Harry to come up to them, "lets all grab the cup."

"Why would-"

"No time to explain! Come on!"

Harry obliges, though slightly reluctantly Cedric can tell.

And then they're in the graveyard. Harry lands on his arse. Cedric guides Hermione a little more gently as they land.

"Cloak." Cedric says.

Hermione nods, slips the invisibility cloak back on.

"What the f-"

Pettigrew appears then, cuddling Voldemort's strange baby like form on one arm, effectively shutting Harry up.

"Kill the spare." Voldemort says, in the exact same, spine chilling way he always does.

Pettigrew raises his wand.

Then promptly collapses forward onto his face.

Hermione removes the cloak, revealed to be standing right behind where Pettigrew had been just a moment ago.

Cedric moves to take Pettigrew's wand out from his hand, stuffing it into his pocket.

Harry stares. "What's going on?"

Hermione kicks the bundle on the floor, laughing a bit when Voldemort whines.

"Saving lives." Hermione replies, shrugging.

"Is that-?" Harry asks, eyes going wide as he moves to take a closer look at Voldemort.

"Voldywarts? Why yes it is." Cedric says, uncovering Voldemort's tiny scrunched up body.

"How did you-"

"It's a long story, Potter. If we get to tomorrow, I'll explain."

"If we get to-?"

"Time to bring him back to Dumbledore, I think."

Cedric picks up Voledmort, though Voldemort objects furiously as he did so, as Hermione took Harry by the hand and pulled him over back to the cup.

All four of them are whisked away back to Hogwarts before anyone can say another word.

As soon as they arrive, it's chaos. There's loud, raucous cheering, but then they note Hermione, then the weird creature in Cedric's arms, and then it's deafeningly quiet.


"Voldemort." Cedric announces, loud and clear.

Dumbledore gasps. Snape blanches. Moody draws his wand.

"Professor?" Harry questions, when the end of Moody's wand moves to point at him.

Dumbledore moves before either of them can react, freezing Moody with a Petrificus Totalus before he can do any harm.

McGonagall begins ushering students away at this point, telling Sprout to make a call to the ministry as she does so.

Harry, Cedric and Hermione are bombarded with a million questions, none of them answered entirely properly.

Then Cornelius Fudge shows up, aurors behind him, and at the first sight of baby Voldemort, he throws up.

"Yeah. I almost did that too, the first time." Cedric quips.

Hermione scoffs.

"The first time?" Someone asks.

Cedric shrugs. "I'll explain later."

The aurors take it over after that, carefully extracting Voldemort from Cedric's arms before leaving in a flurry, a pale faced Fudge trailing after them.

"Well, that was fun."




Cedric wakes up and thing are different.

There are less birds outside his window, his blankets have been kicked off, none of his roommates are in the room.

He bolts out the door without a second thought.

Bumps into Hermione at the doors to the Great Hall.

She's in her pyjamas, something ugly and baggy but that also somehow makes her look incredibly beautiful.


Before Hermione can finish her thought, he's running up to her, sweeping her into his arms and spinning her around.

She laughs, hair flying around wildly.

He's pretty sure this image of Hermione right after she's rolled out of bed, hair big and bouncing and free, the smile on her face brilliant and dazzling, is the best thing he's ever seen.

"Should've known you would be the key." He remarks, grinning.

She wraps her legs around his midsection, leaning down to press a quick kiss to his nose. "Never would've guessed that fate would be a romantic."

He cranes his neck to place a full kiss on her lips, laughing into her mouth as he does so.

They spend a few minutes like that, wrapped up in each other, completely oblivious to the world around them.

At least, until Snape's clearing his throat from behind them, mouth pinched, eyebrows drawn together.

"Ten points. Each." Is all he says, before striding past them and into the Great Hall.

Hermione burrows her head into Cedric's shoulder, moaning. "That was mortifying."

"Ah, consequences, I've missed consequences." Cedric sighs.

Hermione laughs, though when she pulls her head back her cheeks are flushed in embarrassment. "I... have you been wearing those the whole time?"

Cedric looks down at his snitch patterned sleeping shorts, then looks back up to Hermione with a half smirk. "I'm not sure what to think of the fact that Snape has seen me in these. How about we go get dressed, then meet back here in ten minutes?"

She nods, then bends down to give him one long, hard kiss before they both go their separate ways.




Hermione has her hands in his hair, legs tied around his midsection, when she pulls back from his lips suddenly, smiling.

Cedric makes a whining noise in the back of his throat, frowning.

"I'm in love with you." She whispers, eyes blazing and lit up in a way he's never seen before.

His heart jumps, leaps. He beams.

"I'm in love with you too." He replies, like it's a secret, even though she already knows.

Fate drove him crazy, just a little bit. Aged him a little too. But he thinks he might be able to forgive it, since it gave him this.