As the sun filtered into the Room of Requirement the next morning, Cedric slipped out of the bed and Maggie's grasp. He couldn't remember sleeping so well…ever. With Maggie cuddled into his arms he had fallen asleep quickly and stayed asleep until the sun on his face woke him up. When he realized what day it was, his stomach dropped to his feet. It was the day of the final task. All he had to do was win the final task and then he could put this whole Tournament business behind him. He paced the floor a bit before summoning some breakfast and sitting on the small couch, drinking the orange juice. He was already in his champion uniform, but he couldn't seem to focus on the charms and spells they'd been practicing for months. His eyes landed directly on the sleeping redhead with the smile plastered on her lips. He grinned to himself before pulling out his wand and twirling it thoughtfully. After a moment of silence, the covers began to move and Maggie sat up, stretching her arms slowly. She yawned, scratching her head before catching sight of Cedric and giggling.
"What are you looking at?" she asked, a smile creeping onto her face.
"A gorgeous woman," he answered earnestly, sitting on the edge of the bed to give her a peck on the lips.
"You're not so bad looking yourself Mr. Champion," she answered. "Are you ready?" she whispered, gnawing on her bottom lip and already feeling her stomach twist in nerves. Cedric nodded, not wanting her to know just how nervous he actually was.
"I'm prepared, but before we face that I need to tell you something," he stopped her from getting off the bed as she had been preparing to do. She tilted her head to one side. "Maggie we are so young, but I love you so much and I know I will never let you go. From the moment you approached us on the Hogwarts Express I knew there was something incredibly special about you. You're so intelligent and beautiful and graceful and talented, but you've got the spirit of the fiercest Gryffindor. I want to be by your side forever and watch you achieve all your dreams," he told her, pressing his forehead against hers and practically breathing in her smile. She leaned in to kiss him before replying.
"And I'm going to enjoy watching you achieve all of yours, Cedric. You're as clever as any Ravenclaw and your heart is as big as Helga Hufflepuff herself," she told him, scooting closer to him.
"I'm glad you think that, because I need to know: Will you accept this promise ring?" he asked, swiftly pulling silver diamond ring from his pocket. It sparkled in the sunlight as he held it out to her. It was very simple, just a silver band with a single diamond heart. Maggie's eyes widened in shock as she stared at the ring. The smile that crossed her lips came slowly, but was a true genuine smile.
"Of course!" she squealed, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him fiercely. He reciprocated for a few moments before pulling away to put it on her finger.
"Of course I want to meet your parents and have you meet more of my family before I properly propose to you, but I just needed you to know that I WILL one day. When we're ready," he told her with a laugh, holding her hand and admiring the ring on her finger. It was on her middle finger, so that it wasn't easily confused with an engagement ring.
"Oh Cedric," she giggled, not able to hold in her joy. "We have to go now, though. Or you'll miss the final task," she sighed, feeling the familiar worry set in again.
"Yes I know, but now you know I'm coming back safe," he told her as they exited the Room of Requirement and slipped into the crowd of students headed for the Great Hall. They sat with his friends for breakfast, talking excitedly about the Maze Challenge, though Maggie kept quiet as the wheels in her head turned more. She knew Cedric was prepared for an ordinary challenge, but what if something went wrong? Nothing had happened to Harry Potter yet, but there had to be some reason for him being in this competition. It had caused such an uproar in the beginning and no one had seemed worried about it since, but Maggie had not forgotten. Her eyes traveled to the staff table, noting the absence of Professor Moody. He came in a few minutes later, as usual taking a swig from his personal canister instead of drinking from the ordinary cups. There seemed to be a lot of mystery surrounding Professor Moody, most of which was written off as the fact that he was an old paranoid Auror. But it didn't sit right with her. Before anyone could even blink, breakfast was over and the Champions were parting to head to their tent as the rest of the students headed down to the Quidditch Pitch.
"I love you Maggie. See you after the challenge. Then it will all be over," Cedric promised her quickly before giving her a kiss on the forehead and dashing off after Harry Potter and the other Champions. As Maggie made her way to the Quidditch pitch with her classmates she murmured to herself, trying to recall all the information she'd been looking up about Professor Moody. Her only other suspect was Barty Crouch, but he had been attacked a few weeks prior, removing him as a suspect.
"He came out of an active career as an Auror to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, but he hasn't been doing a very good job. He used magic on a student as a form of punishment. He tortured a poor spider in one of the younger classes. He never drinks from anything but his little bottle. Who knows what he's actually drinking? He taught us the unforgivables for goodness sake. I mean the only people that use the unforgivable curses are-" she stopped herself, the pieces beginning to splice together. "Of course! Oh Maggie, you're so dumb," she chastised herself, changing her course for the maze. "Constantly drinks an unknown substance? Of course! It has to be Polyjuice Potion. UGH Why didn't I see that? I don't know who he actually is, but he has to be associated with You-Know-Who. Those are the only people with a vengeance out for Harry Potter. It's ridiculous. The Dark Lord is gone, but who knows what his followers would do for revenge?" she ranted on beneath her breath, picking up her pace as Ludo Bagman's voice announced the rules for the task. She practically ran in to Poppy, who was waiting nearby to help aid any students.
"Maggie! What are you doing down here? You don't belong here. You need to be up in the stands with the other students," she scolded her, turning her around.
"No Poppy you don't understand! They're in danger, all of them! I have to go stop the task," she rambled, refusing to be pushed in the other direction.
"Of course they're in danger. It's a dangerous tournament. But it's happening, so there's nothing you can do. I know you're worried about Cedric, but he'll be fine," the healer tried to soothe the frantic girl.
"No that's not it. Don't you realize how wrong this is? Harry Potter should not be in this. Someone snuck him in to harm him and they're all going to get hurt in the process. I think it might be a follower of You-Know-Who," she cried. Poppy gave her a look of shock before frowning and shaking her head.
"You're being completely irrational Maggie. You need rest. Go watch with the other students," she insisted, but Maggie refused, watching Cedric enter the maze from the corner of her eye.
"NO! I'm sorry Poppy," she whined before casting a weak blasting charm to get Madame Pomfrey away from her long enough for her to dash into the maze after Cedric.
"MS. WALSH!" she heard several voices shout, but she kept running until their voices were drowned out by the eerie silence within the maze. She stopped for a moment to catch her breath, turning around only to realize she was completely lost. She heard nothing, not even the wind rippling through the vines that climbed the high maze walls. Following the simple trick to any maze, she stuck her hand on the right side and began to travel, following the long and complicated path. She jogged for a few minutes, ears peeled for any sound that Cedric or any of the other competitors might be making in distress. The lack of obstacles was beginning to make her uneasy until a shrieking sound pierced the air, followed by the intense flutter of small wings. Maggie turned her head wildly, spotting a swarm of Cornish pixies due north. One reached in and grabbed her hair before she had time to blink.
"Immobulus!" she shouted, brandishing her wand at the crowd. The mass of pixies froze, floating in the air, but the one attached to her curl kept yanking and tugging and scratching at her face. Panicking as she winced in pain, she pointed her wand at the creature and whispered "Rictusempra" before it doubled over in what she assumed was laughter, holding its stomach as it rolled around.
Shaking her head, Maggie continued on. She approached a swirling gray mist, stationary in its place. Her steps halted as she stared at it, wondering what objects may lie within it. She did a reveal spell, only to find that no creatures or humans were waiting to attack within the mist. There was very little chance that she could cancel the incantation; Dumbledore would have been too smart to leave his enchantments unprotected. With a smile, she realized that Dumbledore had not created the course…Ludo Bagman had.
"Finite Incantatum" she announced. The mist dissipated before her eyes. She surged forward, only the rustling of leaves filling her ears as she ran full speed. Without warning a high pitched scream filled the air. Maggie sucked a breath of air in sharply, holding it for a moment until the scream ended and a red flare filled the sky. Releasing the breath she reasoned that it was much too high of a sound to be Cedric. Either way, with the flare whoever was in trouble would be helped and escorted out of the maze. One down, three to go until they were all safe. Suddenly a beam of fire shot past her; whirling around she faced a giant Blast-Ended Skrewt.
"Bloody hell," she murmured as she dodged its flames nimbly. If ballet had prepared her for anything, it was staying light on her feet. She knew that any charm or spell she sent flying at the Skrewt would only be rebounded back toward her if she didn't hit just the right spot. It had to be something fleshy and unprotected by the hard outer shell. She conjured a pair of cymbals and enchanted them to start smashing near the Skrewt, which made it blink and squeal. Maggie quickly seized the opportunity and dove underneath the Skrewt shouting "STUPEFY" as she slid on the ground. She made it out from underneath the Skrewt just as it crumpled to the ground.
but as she approached a dead end, she heard footsteps from behind her. She whirred around only to see Viktor Krum walking towards her.
"Oh Viktor it's only you! Listen, you have to forfeit the competition. I know you want to win, but you're in terrible danger. No one is going to win, you're only going to get hurt. Please, Viktor, for Cho," Maggie begged, amazed at how easily the words flowed from her mouth. Much to her surprise, he did not immediately respond to her words. She knew any of the champions would resist her plea, especially Viktor because he was arguably the most competitive of the four. Still, she expected some kind of response from him and yet he only stared at her, eyes almost hollow and expression blank.
"Viktor?" he lifted his wand suddenly, before Maggie had time to even flinch.
"CRUCIO!" he shouted. Maggie couldn't even process it before her world exploded in pain. She collapsed to the ground, letting out a blood curdling scream. Every cell in her body felt like it was burning, exploding, ripping itself apart. On and on her screams went until her voice was hoarse and all she could manage was a quiet whimper.
When the scream was unleashed, it was heard throughout the maze and even outside of it. Ludo Bagman had stopped commentating when the young redhead had run into the maze after the Champions. Dumbledore had pulled him into a hot debate between the headmasters and the nurse, Pomfrey.
"Albus it's too dangerous! We have to stop this now. Magdalene is completely unprepared. She's not a Champion!"
"All due respect, Madame Pomfrey, the girl put herself in danger. We cannot be held responsible for her actions. You said she was a 7th year? So she is an adult," Madame Maxime argued.
"That's hogswallop! Legal adult or not, she is a child and I have sworm an oath of protection to our students. I argued against this tournament in the first place. It's bad enough you've got Potter competing. Stop this nonsense Albus, I beg of you," Poppy pleaded.
"My hands are tied, Poppy. I cannot control the tournament. It must be completed and will only end when the Trophy is captured," Dumbledore rubbed his temples, deep in thought. The sparkle he often got in his blue eyes was dimmed. The situation too grievous for any mischief.
"Even if you could stop it, how is that fair to our students who have worked so hard? I am beginning to think this is a trick so that Viktor will not beat your Champions. First the whole mess with Harry Potter and now this," Igor Karkaroff growled. Poppy's eyes widened and her cheeks turned a vibrant pink.
"Now, now Karkaroff. We are all being sportsman-like here," Bagman placed his hands out in an offering of peace. "As Albus said, when the trophy is removed from the stand a bell will sound and the winner will be shown on that screen. It's then that we will each take a side and start to disenchant the maze. The non-winners will be safe. There's nothing in there that you wouldn't be able to treat Madame Pomfrey," he tried to soothe her. Before anyone could retort a female scream rang through the noise of the crowd. A collective gasp was heard and Poppy snapped her head back to look at Fleur who was still sound asleep in the medical tent. It lasted only for a few moments before the sound disappeared completely, leaving behind an eerie silence that hung in the air like a thick fog.
"Albus please!" she grabbed at his arms, but he gave a solemn shake of the head and led her back to the medical tent.
Somewhere in the maze Cedric had found another cloud of mist which he was running into. A female voice pierced the air, penetrating his ears with agony. Cedric frowned; the voice sounded so familiar, but he knew that Fleur had already been taken out of the maze. When the screaming stopped, he shook his head—trying to rid his ears of the haunting noise. He brushed it off as a side effect of the mist and continued on, wanting to be done so he could get back to Maggie. He knew how worried she'd been and he could only imagine how relieved she'd be when it was all behind them.
Harry was running, having just faced a boggart, when he heard the scream. It sounded so close that he kept running. Even after the scream ended, he continued until the quiet sound of whimpers could be heard. As he rounded the corner, wand at the ready, he saw an unfamiliar form crumpled on the ground and Viktor Krum standing above it, wand pointed.
"Stupefy!" Harry shouted before Viktor had time to notice his presence. Viktor fell and the small figure stopped whimpering and trembling. Instead a small sob could be heard and the sharp intake of breaths.
"Are you alright?" Harry asked, approaching cautiously. He wasn't sure if this was some sort of test, or if this person was truly in need of help. Maggie took a moment to collect her thoughts before pushing herself off the ground. Her legs were wobbly and her head still spinning, but she knew she had to keep going. She had to warn Cedric. She took a step forward and stumbled slightly, only to be steadied by Harry.
"Magdalene?" he asked as he brushed her hair out of her face. "What are you doing here?"
"I had to warn you," she said softly, steadying herself and starting back in the direction she had been going. Harry turned to Cedric and sent up a flare so he would be found before following her. "Someone put you in this competition to hurt you and I think it was Professor Moody."
"What? But he's done nothing to hurt me. In fact he's gone out of his way to help me get this far!"
"Exactly. So that you would win, so you would be the first one to get to the Trophy. He's connected to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named I just know it!"
"Voldemort? What are you talking about? He's gone," Harry argued.
"There were a lot of followers of his that didn't get locked up in Azkaban because of inconsistencies in the trials. Do you know what Polyjuice Potion is?" she paused, a dementor in her path.
"Ridikkulus," she flicked her wand, sending the boggart away.
"Yeah…wait how did you figure out that wasn't a real dementor so easily?"
"Dementors are always followed by cold and ice. I believe Professor Moody is not who he says he is. I think he must be a Death Eater under the influence of Polyjuice potion," she explained.
"So how do you intent to stop him?" Harry asked.
"Stop him? That's nothing something we can do. Let Professor Dumbledore handle it. I just want everyone safe," she frowned. "It's not your job to save the world, Harry, even if people may act like it is. You owe them nothing," she told him. Before he could respond their path was blocked by a giant Sphinx.
"Ah the young Champion and his sidekick. I have been expecting you," the woman purred, her voice so cat-like Harry couldn't see why she had a human head anyway.
"Can we pass?"
"Not until you answer my riddle. I will let your friend pass with you, but she must not offer any help. She is far too clever for any riddle. A witch from the house of Rowena Ravenclaw…a riddle would pose no challenge for you," the Sphinx looked at Maggie who cast her eyes down and agreed to bite her tongue.
"First think of the person who lives in disguise,
Who deals in secrets and tells naught but lies.
Next, tell me what's always the last thing to mend,
The middle of middle and end of the end?
And finally give me the sound often heard
During the search for the hard-to-find word.
Now string them together, and answer me this,
Which creature would you be unwilling to kiss?"
The words whirred through Maggies mind easily. She had solved hundreds of riddles in her seven years at Hogwarts, most of them simply to entire the Ravenclaw Common Room. The answer was simple and clear, though Harry struggled greatly. Maggie bit her tongue hard to keep from blurting out the answer, which was surprisingly more difficult than she thought. Harry kept having the riddle repeated again and again until finally he looked up with the face of a man who finally understands.
"A spider!" he yelled triumphantly. The Sphinx gave a smile and stepped away. As soon as she had cleared their path, they took off running through the maze only to come upon an Acromantula which was at least the size of a small house. There, fighting beneath it, was Cedric. Scratched and dirty, but alive. Harry sprung into action immediately, shouting various spells an dhexes at it. As Cedric rolled away from its pinchers his eyes met Maggie's. He froze and the world seemed to slow as his heartbeat accelerated. He opened his mouth to shout at her, but found himself almost crushed by a leg instead. Harry shouted something at him, but he didn't hear. He marched up to Maggie and pulled her towards him.
"What are you doing here? It's dangerous!"
"Isn't that what I've been trying to tell you for months? Anyway now's not the best time to have this argument!" she fired back in return as they dove away from the spider's attack. While she and Harry distracted it, Cedric dove underneath it and stunned its soft, fleshy underside. As it began to fall, Harry reached under and pulled him out. The three took a moment to breath before quickly leaving the beast. Three turns later and the golden Trophy was in sight.
"Don't touch it!" Maggie grabbed Cedric and pulled him back. She quickly repeated her theories to him and though he seemed skeptical, he agreed to play it safe.
"So what do you propose we do with it then?" Harry asked, circling the trophy.
"I promose you take it," a voice snarled as an unfamiliar figure, draped in Professor Moody's signature leather jacket, made his way toward the trophy.
Time slowed as the three students exchanged worried glances. Before Maggie could think, the trophy came flying off the stand and into Harry's hands. As it began to glow Cedric took hold of it as well, but Maggie wasn't close enough to grab hold. She raised her wand and aimed it at Cedric's hand. "STUPEFY!" but they were gone in an instant.
"Cedric!" she screamed, falling to her knees.
"He won't be coming back alive, little girl," the stranger murmured as he approached Maggie.
"You don't know Cedric. He doesn't break his promises," the redhead's glare burned into him as she stood.
"Too bad you won't be alive to check and see," he growled. Maggie readied herself and placed her wand at the ready. "You can't duel me! I fight for the Dark Lord. I have powers you could never dream of you insignificant child," he snarled, firing an unnamed spell at her which she easily deflected with a shield.
"Well I fight for love which is a power your so called Lord will never know," she sneered, firing her own curse at him. She used all the harmless curses and hexes she knew: Expelliarmus, Stupefy, Rictumsempra, and the like, but he dodged them all easily, darting back and forth. He was in constant motion, like a snake. Maggie had knowledge of complex spells, but she had no dueling skills and very little aim on a moving target. They battled back and forth, Maggie being the only one to take a few hits. A few cutting curses and the Cruciatus Curse, but she kept fighting back.
When the trophy was removed from its place, the screen outside the maze lit up, showing the empty stand and no champion. The crowd gasped as the Headmasters began to flurry in panic. A figure darted across the screen, too quick to be recognized as the Hogwarts professors began to swiftly dismantle the maze and all its enchantments. Just then, a small red-headed girl appeared on the screen. The crowd watched in horror as the girl fell to her knees. She got up after a few moments and fired a few spells before disappearing off the screen once more. Madame Pomfrey locked eyes with Professor Dumbledore, her expression slated with panic as she joined in taking down the maze. In the stands, Amos Diggory was shoving his way down to the front. His son missing and now the sweet Magdalene in some sort of dangerous duel. If Cedric weren't already graduating, he would pull his son out of Hogwarts faster than you can say Champion. When he finally reached the edge, he yelled for Albus over and over again, but he heard nothing.
With the maze slowly disappearing, Maggie knew all she had to do was hold the man off for another minute at most. She racked her brain for anything she could use, but found nothing. As the walls surrounding them began to shrink Maggie made her last attempt to catch the villain, but as she raised her wand he flashed a smile at her, a sparkle in his eye that made her want to throw up.
"Serpensortia!" he hissed as a snake—immediately recognizable as a King Cobra—appeared. It came flying through the air at her and without hesitation sank its fangs into her right shoulder. Just then the walls came down and the unidentified man fell at Dumbledore's hand. Maggie's knees crumpled beneath her as she wrenched the snake from her body, disposing of it with a quick "reducto". Poppy rushed forward, her arms instantly wrapping around the young girl. As Dumbledore and the other professors dealt with the man now identified as Barty Crouch Jr Madame Promfrey assisted Maggie to the hospital tent.
"Come on, that's it," she murmured, placing a hand behind Maggie's back to move her forward quickly. She didn't have a clue about the extent of the girl's injuries, but knew she was bleeding profusely in several places and was already feverish. As they reached the tent where Fleur and Viktor were already recovering, a flash of light accompanied by a loud clonk shocked the now frantic stadium. There stood Harry James Potter, Triwizard Cup clenched in one hand and the hand of Cedric Diggory clasped in his other. Cedric was limp, laying on the ground with eyes wide open. Maggie found his unresponsive gaze and stopped moving toward the tent. The pain of the Crucio curse and the pain of the Cobra venom seeping into her veins was nothing compared to the searing hot pain that sliced through her heart.
"My son! That's my boy! My BOY!" came a gut wrenching scream from the stands. Amos Diggory propelled himself over the edge of the stands and ran to Cedric, falling to the ground at the boys head and cradling it in his lap.
"No," Maggie whispered, shoving herself away from Poppy as she too ran to the fallen Champion's side. Her vision was blurred and her head had not stopped spinning, but she forced her eyes to focus on his face as she placed her hands on either side of his face.
"I don't know what happened. We were separated…I tried to save him. I'm sorry I don't know," Harry stumbled through his words, gasping in pain and refusing to leave Cedric's side.
"What happened, Harry?" Dumbledore demanded, pulling him off Cedric.
"He's back. Voldemort's back. He's back and I don't know what he's done. Cedric was like this when we got there, but I couldn't leave him there. Not there, I couldn't leave him," Harry cried.
"It's alright Harry. You're alright. It's alright. You're here and he's here."
"No," Maggie repeated, with more volume. "NO. You promised me," she turned her glare on Dumbledore. "You promised me that he would be alright! I tried to tell you, to tell you all and you wouldn't listen. You knew this wasn't safe, ALL of you!" she cried, clenching Cedric's face and placing a forceful kiss on his lips. She noticed then that there was a slight breath in his mouth. "Stop, stop!" she yelled at Ludo Bagman, who was helping Minister Fudge lift Cedric's body to be moved.
"He's not dead, he's not. He's breathing. Don't touch him!"
"Miss I'm sorry he must be moved. The people they're beginning to panic," Fudge stammered.
"She's right though, I'm not dead. Blimey Maggie you have one hell of a stunning curse though," Cedric coughed as he tried to sit up, despite the several people hovering around him. Amos gave a shout of joy before embracing his son completely. Maggie smiled widely before she slowly felt the effects of the adrenaline wear off and the effects of the venom take their place once more. Her smile slowly melted into a frown, which Cedric saw right away.
"Maggie, what is it? Maggie?"
His voice grew more distant as his image grew more blurry. Maggie realized she'd fallen completely to the ground, unable to move her body any longer. She knew this would happen. Cobra venom targets the central nervous system, Maggie, she chided herself. First it had affected her vision and senses, now it had moved onto paralysis and soon it would be coma and respiratory failure if she was not given antivenom. All she wanted to do was hug Cedric and kiss him and tell him she was so sorry for getting in the way, for messing everything up, but all she could do was let her eyes fall closed.