Chapter 11

The announcement of the Yule Ball sent the upper grade students into a frenzy. Students from the first, second, and third years mostly moped around, hoping someone would ask them so that they could go too. Cedric and Maggie were called to the mandatory dance practice like all other upper grade Hogwarts students. They sat in the back with sly smiles as Ronald Weasley danced with Professor McGonagall. When the demonstration ended and the music began Cedric stood. He placed his hand in front of him and bowed slightly.

"Will you dance with me, m'lady?" he grinned.

"I don't know good sir. You see I haven't got a date yet and I don't want to sent the wrong message to potential suitors," she batted her eyelashes innocently. He took we hand in his with a serious face and opened his mouth before his friend Greg grabbed her hand and spun her into a waltz.

"Too late Diggory! I get to dance with the lady now," he teased as he did his best to dance. Maggie giggled wildly and Cedric simply rolled his eyes. It warmed his heart to see her interacting so easily with his friends. He only allowed Greg to step on her feet twice before he cut in, transitioning easily into a foxtrot with her.

"Will you accompany me to the dance Maggie?" he finally asked as they spun around the room. Her eyes had been closed, but they snapped open, green orbs shining.

"I'd be delighted to dance the night away with you," she nodded with a smile. On the other side of the room people without dates stood awkwardly unsure of who to practice with.

"Hey, um, Harry," Cho tapped him on the shoulder. His heart raced like a speeding train as he turned to face the older student. "I'm going to the ball with Viktor, but since he's not here would you mind practicing with me?" she asked quietly.

"Not at all," he shook his head, placing his hands in their appropriate places an shooting himself mentally for ever thinking she would want to go with him.

"So have you thought about who you're going to ask yet?" Cho asked pleasantly as they danced around to the music. Harry's ears burned red for a moment as he fumbled for the right words. Finally he just shook his head in denial. Cho pursed her lips for a moment. She knew the younger boy had a small crush on her and she hated to think of herself as making anyone unhappy. Harry was a nice boy and she genuinely wanted him to have a nice time at the Yule Ball. She'd been thinking desperately about who she could set him up with, but no one had come to mind. Finally she saw a flash of red out of the corner of her eye.

"What about that little friend of yours, the girl?" she asked, trying to remember the third year's name.

"Hermione?" Harry glanced back at his friend in panic. "No I couldn't. She's like my sister. It would just feel wrong," he shook his head vehemently. Cho laughed.

"No, not her. The little redhead...the Weasley girl," Cho clarified.

"Oh Ginny," Harry's cheeks reddened for a moment. The tension between he and the youngest Weasley had built since his second year. Ron had unknowingly told him of Ginny's major crush on Harry which made it a little uncomfortable for both of them. No one else had seemed to notice, but she was so young he hoped it would go away. He couldn't deny that she'd grown up in the past two years, though. She was still Ron's kid sister, but she was also his Ginny. She was smart, confident, and beautiful. Harry wondered if asking her to the Yule Ball would make things weird between him and Ron before he realized he had stopped dancing altogether. Cho was giving him a knowing smile.

"You should ask her," she encouraged before letting go of Harry's hand. "Thanks for practicing with me!" She left Harry standing there, burning in embarrassment and returned to her friends.

"What was that about mate? I thought she was going steady with Viktor Krum," Ron asked as Harry approached his friends again.

"She is. She just wanted to practice and to...erm...tell me to ask Ginny to the Yule Ball," he messed with his hair in nervous habit. Hermione scrutinized him for a moment before smiling widely.

"I think that's a fantastic idea Harry!" she exclaimed.

"Oh yeah if we're just all going to go as friends that sounds pretty cool," Ron nodded. Harry and Hermione exchanged brief glances, both wondering how Ron could be so brilliant at times and so thick other times. Hermione opened her mouth to correct him, but Harry shook his head quickly. She rolled her eyes, but kept her mouth shut. "So if Harry and shinny are gonna pair up then I guess it's you and me...that is if you want to of course!" he corrected himself quickly after seein the look on Hermione's face. She was about to tell at him for assuming again, but stopped herself. This was probably as close to asking her to the ball as he would get.

"Of course I'd enjoy that Ronald," she huffed. "I'll catch up with you guys later," she murmured before leaving before either of them could see the disappointment in her face.

"Blimey. What did I do now?" Ron complained. Harry chuckled quietly.

"Nothing Ron, but we better get back to the common room. I've gotta find Ginny," he patted his friend on the back before turning toward the door.

"Mr. Potter! Mr. Diggory!" Professor McGonagall called them both over. "I assume you both have a partner at this point," she said once they both had gathered by her. Maggie hung back unsure if she was supposed to be involved in the conversation or not. Ron waited for his friend by the door.

"Yes I'm going with Magdalene," Cedric smiled, beckoning her over. Professor McGonagall nodded with satisfaction before turning her gaze to Harry. He hesitantly nodded.

"I'm going with Ginny Weasley," he confessed, hoping she wouldn't deny him when he asked later.

"Right well as champions you will be entering the Yule Ball in procession and will be dancing the first song alone. It's Yule Ball tradition. I expect only the highest of you two. You are representing our school in a formal setting, unlike the challenges. That means you must dress accordingly, behave accordingly, and be the best dancers on that floor," she gave then a hint of a smile, pride hiding behind her stern facade as usual.

"Of course Professor," Cedric and Harry agreed as Maggie smiled. The wheels in her head began turning as they were dismissed.

"Would you like to practice? We've got a few hours before curfew and I feel like we haven't gotten in a good rehearsal in a few days," Cedric asked as they walked hand in hand to the Room of Requirement. Maggie nodded in excitement, practically taking off in a run. As they entered the room she transfigured her robes quickly into a simple white practice tutu. She had her leg earners and shrug on and quickly put her shoes on before sinking into the splits to stretch. Her warms ups we're fairly quick, as she was eager to start dancing. Cedric warmed his hands on the piano and played a few of his audition pieces as she stretched. When she stood, clearly waiting, he gave her a smile. The plan had been formulating in his head for quite some time. He'd done research that would make her proud. Today she was going to be thrilled with him.

"Could you play la Raymonda? I haven't worked on that one in a while," she asked as she stood in fifth position. He shook his head and she opened her mouth to question before he waved his wand and her tutu transfigured into the same powder pink one she had worn when they had danced together. She looked down in amazement and when she looked up, he stood in a white tunic and rights. His feet were clad in ballet shoes and his smile lot the room. Maggie's eyes widened.

"What are you doing Ced?" She demanded.

"Dancing with oh properly. I mean I've cheated by placing quite a few charms on mysel so that I can have the strength and flexibility that I should have spent years building up. But I've been teaching myself the moves. The first time you asked me to help you I realized I want to know what dancing feels like without too much magic. I've been trying to learn as much as I can. It makes you so happy, I just want to feel that too," he explained, approaching her slowly. Maggie frowned.

"But isn't that what piano does for you?" she muttered.

"I enjoy piano and for years it's been a way for me to express myself, yes, but I never had the opportunity to explore anything else. And I love the feeling of dancing with you. Please will you dance with me?" he begged, having not expected her resistance.

"Of course. I'm sorry it's just strange for me to imagine you not sitting at the piano," she admitted sheepishly. He shook his head with a laugh and motioned we to go the other side of the room. She took her steps toward him as the music started easily remembering the choreography that had been engrained in her memory from watching the tape of the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker so many times. She watched in amazement as he followed her technique. He was by no means a perfect dancer, but you couldn't tell that he hadn't been training for at least a few years. With her help, if he wanted it, he could pass for a worthy partner. She smiled fully as the music les into the first crescendo an they performed their first lift. She felt sturdy in his arms and knew that was the work of the strengthening charms. As they finished, he was breathing heavier than he ha been the previous time. He had been putting in more effort, using less magic.

"Thank you Cedric! That was-

"Thrilling. I can see why you love to dance so much. If you wouldn't mind...I would really like you to teach me more," he asked between breaths. She conjured him a glass of water and nodded, chattering about ballet moves and terms excitedly.

"Cedric! We have to dance at the Yule Ball!" She gasped, eyes wide.

"Of course we will. It is a ball," he said pointedly. She rolled her eyes.

"I mean really dance. Like this!" She bounced up and down. Though her usual ringlets were secured in a bun he knew they would be vibrating if her hair was left wild.

"I can't do that Maggie. I'm a champion and a prefect. Plus my father would hear about it and can you imagine what my friends would say if they saw me in this? I'm sorry Mags, but I can't," he shook his head fiercely.

"A few month ago I would have told you not to care about what they said," Maggie said softly, placing a small hand on his cheek. "But now I know better. I also know your friends now. And I'm telling you they will not care. You are their friend and they like you for who you are, not you your dad boasts you to be. They'll accept you no matter what. And you're dad really cares about you Cedric. He only wants the best for you, as any other parent does. You don't have to wear that outfit. You can still wear your normal dress robe. I'm not going to wear this, that's or sure. Please Cedric. We'd be representing our school and undoubtedly be the best dancers in the room," she pleaded, sticking her bottom lip out only slightly.

"No Maggie," he shook his head again and she sighed. She didn't want to push him and upset him. Everything had been so stressful lately.

"Fine, but we at least have to be fancier than everyone else," he smiled and he laughed before placing a kiss on her lips.

The doors to the Great Hall opened and hundreds of eyes watched as the champions walked in two lines. At the front was Viktor Krum, in brown thick fur dress robes. On his arm was Cho Chang, dressed in a beautiful royal blue silk Chinese dress. Behind him came Fleur Delacour in a powder blue ball gown similar to her school robes, with a Drumstrang named Demetri dressed much like Viktor. Behind them, as if walking on a cloud, came Cedric Diggory and Magdalene Walsh. Most of the students at Hogwarts had been eagerly following the gossip surrounding the two, but in that moment not even Any could find a single negative comment to spread. Cedric was dressed in a simple black tuxedo, tails and all. Maggie walked on his arm in a light pink romantic tutu. The bodice was satin and the neckline dipped in a v. It was decorated in pearls and diamonds. The skirt was a few layers I light tulle which stopped at her mid-calf. Her hair was pulled into a French twist and she wore a diamond headband in her hair, having felt a tiara was overkill. On her feet were a new pair shiny pair of pointe shoes (her old ones were too raggedy for a ball). Behind them, at the end of the line, Harry Potter walked in white dress robes with Ginny Weasley in a simple green gown on his arm. As the music started, Maggie and Cedric both recognized the music immediately. Maggie found a pair of bright blue eyes peering at her over half moon glasses and smiled. Professor Dumbledore nodded and waved his hand toward the floor.

"Cedric...Professor Dumbledore wants us to," she murmured quietly in his ears, having to go en pointe to reach. He looked at her in horror before glancing around the room wildly for Professor Dunbkedore who gave him a nod of encouragement as well.

"Maggie I told you I can't! Just because they've started playing Waltz of the Flowers doesn't mean I'm going to dance ballet. We're waltzing. Isn't that enough for him?" He began to panic, but Maggie shushed him quickly.

"You don't have to dance ballet Ced, I promise. Just go along with what I do, okay? I'm going to dance when it gets to the coda. The very ending that's all, alright? Don't dance, just be ready to help me. All you have to do is an assisted pirouette and a few lifts. The fish dive is classic and simple and we'll do a shoulder sit and a lifted arabesque," she planned quietly as they continued to waltz. None of the other champions had made a mistake yet and even Harry Potter (who seemed to have a bit of trouble in practice) was dancing with ease. Cedric gulped, but agreed. Hopefully everyone would be looking at Maggie and since he wasn't actually dancing, who could say anything? With about a moment left in the song, Maggie broke the waltz and have him a smile for reassurance. She separated from him and took the unoccupied space in the middle of the circle to leap and twirl for a few measures before she nodded and ran toward her. He lifted her and she supported her upper body as she waved her arms. She nodded once more and he placed her down to help with a few pirouettes. They did a few more lifts and leaps before she finally did some small jumps before running at him for their final lift, a shoulder sit whih ends the dance. The Great Hall was silent for a moment, processing what they had seen before the Beauxbaton and Durmstrang students burst into wild applause. Cedric's friends joined next, and then the rest of the Hogwarts students. Maggie smiled and Cedric seemed relieved that most eyes were on her. The music started once more and they danced one more son before sneaking off the dance floor while most others were occupied. Professor Dumbledore found them at a table.

"Thank you Ms. Walsh. I knew you would have something prepared. You have done Hogwarts proud. I am regretful that we haven't invested more in the arts as a school, but there is so little time to teach you students as it is. Our visiting schools have a deeper appreciation of the arts. Naturally I wanted the opportunity to boast just a bit. Thank you for indulging me," he expressed his gratitude while she only nodded.

"It truly was my pleasure Professor," she smiled.

"And thank you as well Mr. Diggory. Those lifts you helped with really were the cherry on a delicious cake!" Professor Dumbledore clapped his hands together in excitement before leaving them alone. Greg, James, and Henry soon found them sitting quietly.

"Mate that wa bloody amazing!" Greg laughed as he sat down, giving Maggie a pat on the back.

"Thanks," she replied softly.

"And we saw you recruited our good friend Mr. Whipped over here to help with the heavy work," James clapped Cedric on the back. Cedric, who had been holding his breath in anticipation, released it with an easy smile.

"Nothing wrong with being whipped, boys," Henry informed the group before bursting into laughter and leaving to rejoin his date.

Over at the punch table Harry scope some into two glassss before returning to a table where five other people sat.

"Thanks Harry," Ginny have him a bright smile, gulping down the lunch quickly. Hermione and Ron were seated, both awkwardly staring at the floor. Neither of them had danced the entire evening. Luna Lovegood was explaining some bizarre concept to Neville as he listened intently. Finally she grabbed his hand with a gasp.

"Oh I love this song! Let's dance Neville," she stood up. "Hermione, Ronald come on! You can't miss this song," she pulled them up as well and led them all out to the dance floor. Ginny laughed at the sight of her brother, who couldn't quite figure out where to put his hands.

"You'd think he's never seen a pair of hips before," she exclaimed. Harry smiled, but didn't comment.

"Would you like to dance again, Ginny?" He finally asked, looking at his sleeves in fascination.

"Sure," the redhead shrugged, allowing him to lead her to the dance floor and twirl her around.

By the end of the evening, feet were tired, heads were giddy, and smiles were plastered on faces. Cedric walked Maggie back to the Ravenclaw tower in silence. When they reached the doorway she turned to look at him.

"Thank you for tonight," she whispered softly.

"I love you," was his only reply. She smiled, reaching up to kiss him.

"I love you too."

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