Playing With Fire

Chapter 13

Disclaimer: Haven't done this in a while but everyone should know that the world of Harry Potter does not belong to me!

The faces of the Hogwarts champions could only be described as hilarious as they climbed over the hedges towards Tily, Ludo, Fleur and Krum. Tilly had felt almost exactly the same when she had come out and seen the Quidditch Pitch in its disastrous state. This was like home to Quidditch players, no matter what house.

"Well, what d'you think?" Ludo asked as Harry and Cedric reached them. "Growing nicely, aren't they? Give them a month and Hagrid'll have them twenty feet high."

"Don't worry," Tilly assured quickly. "The Pitch will be back to normal as soon as the task is over."

"Tilly wasn't impressed when she saw this either," Ludo said with a laugh. "On with it though, I imagine you can guess what we're making here?"

The Champions seemed at a loss until Krum muttered, "Maze."

"That's right!" Bagman exclaimed. "A maze. The third task's really very straightforward. The Triwizard Cup will be placed in the center of the maze. The first champion to touch it will receive full marks."

"We seemply 'ave to get through the maze?" said Fleur.

"There will be obstacles," Bagman replied. "Hagrid is providing a number of creature . . . then there will be spells that must be broken, many provided by our lovely Miss Riddle here . . . all that sort of thing, you know. Why don't you explain the logistics Tilly?"

Tilly looked down at her notepad, flipping a few pages. "The Champions who are leading on points will get a head start . . . that's you, Mr. Potter, Mr. Diggory. Mr. Krum will enter next . . . and then Miss Delacour. You will all have a chance, however, depending on how well you get past the obstacles."

Bagman clapped his hand. "Should be fun, eh?"

The champions nodded but Tilly could tell they were far from excited. Bagman accepted this though and said, "Very well . . . if you haven't got any questions, we'll go back up to the castle, shall we, it's a bit chilly. . . ."

This was nerve wracking.

It wasn't like Tilly wasn't used to be alone, far from it but this, walking through this maze, was, for lack of a better word, creepy. She had never really liked maze; that sense of no escape. When she wasn't crafting charms in her part of the maze, she was using the "Point Me" charm to find her way around. Goodness, she couldn't wait till tomorrow; after tomorrow evening, this would all be over and she could go back to the definitely easier task of preparing Quidditch Games.

The hedges loomed in around her and the air seemed foggy. No sound could be heard from any other part of the maze and Tilly found she certainly didn't envy the Champions. Imagine running through here in the dark, keeping an eye out for charms and whatever other dreadful creatures Hagrid as placing in here.

No, putting her name in the goblet certainly would not have been a job for her. Charlie would have, no doubt; he lived for danger. She sort of wished he were with her now. She always felt safer when he as around her.

Tilly drew to a halt, bringing herself from her thoughts to the darkness around her. Had she heard something or was it just the sound of her own footsteps echoing? She shook her head. She was just jumpy, especially with the rumor that Crouch was still running around the grounds, mad and armed, always a dangerous combination.

Throughout her time here at Hogwarts, she had developed certain reservations about the people she had met in the last months. One would be Madame Maxine. As kind as the woman had been when they first met, Tilly had realized on her trip to visit her that all she had wanted as to get an inside connection to the tasks for her champion.

'Surely, you wouldn't be opposed to, 'ow do you say . . . lending a 'elping 'and?' she had said. Ech, Tilly couldn't believe her gall.

Secondly, she didn't like Karkaroff one bit. He was shifty, dodgy, nothing more, nothing less. He had also tried to cozy up to her, get info out of her. And lastly, was Alastor Moody. Merlin, she honestly didn't care who the man had been in his previous years, he was scary now, creepy. If she didn't know better, she'd say he had been watching her. That magical blue eye. . . .

Again Tilly stopped. . . .

Someone was following her.

She held up her wand, turning as she continued to walk. She as not made for this. Since she had graduated Hogwarts she had spent her days between Quidditch Games, her desk, and her apartment; a very, very safe existence. This as work for Aurors. Her nerves were on end and she thought she might just have a heart attack.

Why would someone be following her?

She was just a charm caster, nothing else. Moody had the trophy, the 'something worth value'. Drawing herself up, she said, "Show yourself!"

"Tilly!"

Tilly screamed, spinning around, and shooting a stunner in the direction the voice had come from. Hagrid jumped out of the way, his hand loosing the grip of the leashes of his Blast-Ended Skrewts which came charging in her direction.

Yep.

She definitely missed the safety of Quidditch games.

"It's hard to take you serious when you have that pout on your face."

Tilly frowned, wanting to cross her arms over her chest but since her left forearm was incredibly burnt, she didn't want to risk the pain. "Stop laughing at me, Charlie Weasley, or I'll never forgive you."

Charlie grinned, placing his hand on top of her head. "I'm so sorry, love. I'll be good."

The Skrewts had, luckily, not caused too much damage. Her clothes were singed and her arm burnt and she had a half-giant apologizing to her with tears in his eyes every ten seconds but she as otherwise okay if not shaken. Madam Pomfrey would have her arm fixed up in a second anyway.

Charlie had thought her freaking out in the dark maze was cute but she was dreadfully embarrassed. Still . . .

Tilly was far from timid. If she had been scared, there was a reason for it; someone had been following her, she was sure of it but the question was why.

"I'll bet you'll be glad when this is over," Charlie said.

"You have no clue," Tilly responded, feeling the need for a cup of hot cocoa and a shower. She'd forget about her adventure in the maze for now. She was sure it was no big deal.

A/N: I owed you guys an update so bad! Hope this satisfied any cravings lol. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next time!

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