Cedric Diggory had spoken to her. He had sat through almost the entire Hogwarts Express ride with her. And he had even mentioned speaking to her again! Maggie didn't know what to do with herself as she sat in a carriage with a few other Ravenclaws, headed for the Welcome Feast. For the first time in her seven years at Hogwarts, she was excited to be there. Training to be a witch was something her parents had insisted she do. She'd rather be taking ballet lessons with other girls that shared her passions. There, her silence wouldn't be taken as insolence or haughtiness. There, girls would understand her determination because they all felt it as well. But she wanted to please her parents, and studying at Hogwarts wasn't difficult for her. She had been born naturally intelligent, but she had forced a gracefulness and disciplined mindset upon herself for dance. The qualities combined made her the ideal Ravenclaw. She knew that. She spoke to no one in her house, though she always shared a kind smile with Cho Chang. Something about the girl had always been welcoming.
That was, of course, until the previous year. Cho had begun to develop a small crush on Cedric. She ranted on about it to her other friends, all of them assuming Maggie could not spread anything around. For some reason, this made Magdalene extremely jealous. It took the entire year for her to reason that she had no claim on Cedric, nor did she have a right to keep him from other girls. She was not the girl from him. Nor did he even know that she existed. But all that changed when he had offered her his friendship. Cedric Diggory wanted to be her friend.
As she exited the carriage and entered the castle, Maggie smiled to herself and searched for the head of brown hair she longed to see. She found him after several minutes, sitting at the Hufflepuff table surrounded by a group of friends. He waved lightly before continuing his conversation. Maggie found herself a seat spread a little ways away from others and began quietly picking at a plate. She'd never been much of an eater. She was a short, slim girl with not much to speak of in the woman department, but that's how she liked it. Because her tutus fit perfectly and if she ever got the chance to partner, she would be easily lifted.
"Hello Magdalene," Cho smiled politely, sitting next to her before she continued chatting with her other friends. Maggie smiled, though she secretly wished she could tell the girl off.
Truth be told, Maggie was still insanely jealous of her. She was pretty, smart, rich and she had everything Cedric would look for in a girl. She would date Cedric while Maggie stood in the shadows. And she couldn't even tell the girl to back off. Whenever Maggie tried to speak to anyone except Cedric, the words just didn't come. She was silent.
From the other side of the hall, Cedric tried to engage himself in conversation with his mates, but he was catching every moment he could to glance at Magdalene Walsh. Her red curls were bouncing each time she moved. Her green eyes darted around, calmly observing. But her small, pink lips did not move. Once, when Cho Chang sat down, they moved into a smile. But the fierce emerald orbs did not match the pink lips. Her eyes conveyed a fiery emotion for a full minute before they calmed and Magdalene turned away from Cho.
Cedric couldn't quite decide how he felt about Cho. He knew very well that she was trying to pursue him. But he wasn't sure if he wanted to accept her affections or not. True, she was a beautiful and perfectly respectable girl. And his father would be thrilled at the relationship, because Cho's family was well known in society. But try as he might, Cedric couldn't find a spark in himself when the two spoke. Now Magdalene, she was different. He'd never heard of her parents before. He'd hardly known of the girl until this year. His father would definitely not approve. But when they sat in comfortable silence, or exchanged a smile from across the room, Cedric was enthralled. He felt every movement and every unspoken emotion was clear to him. In her silence, she communicated the world to him. He felt as though, she was trying to tell him that she accepted him for whoever he was.
That thought struck Cedric as rather odd. A sudden feeling of dread filled his stomach and he pushed his plate away, his mates oblivious of his sudden discomfort. What if someone knew what he did in the Room of Requirement, and they had told her. His secret might be safe with the girl who had only spoken one word, but would it be safe with the one that had told her? Unless, she was the one who knew. But he had never seen her around the Room of Requirement, nor could she know what he did inside it. For Cedric was sure he was absolutely alone in the room. Perhaps he was overreacting.
Cedric and Magdalene's thoughts were interrupted as Professor Albus Dumbledore took his place at the podium. He gave his traditional speech, except at the very end he made a special announcement. Hogwarts would be hosting two other Magical European schools for a Triwizard Tournament. The only words that stuck out to Maggie were: danger and death. But she watched as the boys surrounding her only friend punched him in the shoulder and whispered things in his ear. What Cedric heard was: eternal glory and pride. The two things that made his father happiness. Perhaps, if he followed his friends' advice and joined the tournament, he could make his father proud enough to allow Cedric to attend a muggle university for music. Or even to be a musician.
As Maggie watched the thoughts race past Cedric's eyes—she had observed him long enough to read his facial expressions accurately—her own face twisted with worry. Cedric. Danger. Death. The words circled around her head, making her sick to stomach. Without a word, which was completely normal for Maggie, she darted from the hall and to the staircase.
Cedric excused himself to the boys dormitory in the Hufflepuff common room early when he saw the short redhead leave the Great Hall. He wanted to wish her a good night before she disappeared to Ravenclaw tower, and he had noticed a certain look of distress on the young girls face before she so quickly left. No one else turned to watch her go. The red curls were bouncing as Magdalene darted up the stairs.
"Magdalene!" he called, racing to catch up with her.
Maggie's feet stopped, though her mind and stomach told her to keep running. She refused to turn around, for fear of being sick in front of him. But soon she felt a cool hand on her shoulder and the gentle brown eyes found her own as she turned to face him.
"Hey, do you feel alright? You seem kind of warm," he murmured in a concerned tone. It was all she could do to turn away from him before she was sick all over the floor. What had brought that on? Had it really just been her worry for Cedric entering the tournament? A little intense Maggie. She scoffed at herself mentally. But she couldn't force her mouth to form any real words for Cedric. He simply snaked his arm around her waist and led her in the direction of the Hospital Wing. He murmured comforting things, but did not judge her for completely humiliating herself in front of him. Her cheeks burned red from embarrassment, though Cedric mistook it for a fever and walked faster, picking her up completely to avoid making her even sicker.
He did not look down at the quiet girl in his arms, but a small part of him was beaming that he was the one to assist her when she needed someone. He puzzled at the attachment he seemed to have toward Magdalene. He had only just met the girl, and yet (though she seemed so uncomfortable around others) she acted as though they had known each other for many years.
"Madame Pomfrey," Cedric called as they entered the Hospital Wing. Maggie hopped down, sending him a reassuring glance and wondering why she'd let herself be brought to the infirmary in the first place.
"Mr. Diggory, what is this? Oh Ms. Walsh," Madame Pomfrey came out from her office, looking frazzled as she easily recognized one of her favorite students. In the beginning of her time at Hogwarts, Maggie had been sent to Madame Pomfrey many times. Her teachers and other classmates worried that she could not speak and they tried to help with medicine. After the fifth time, Maggie had quietly confessed that she simply did not know what to say. She was a quiet girl who didn't cause problems or waste resources. She had seen Madame Pomfrey many times after that, for reoccurring dancer injuries and she had chosen to create a carefully guarded bond with the older woman.
Madame Pomfrey was not a woman of favorites. She usually only saw sick or injured children who sometimes gave their thanks and sometimes did not. But Magdalene Walsh, or Maggie as she secretly called herself, was not one of those children. She came when she needed something simple, like an icing charm or a bone strengthening potion. As she grew older, she became capable of performing these things herself, but she always came to the Hospital Wing. When she came, she did not demand attention right away or even cause much fuss. She simply waited until Madame Pomfrey was not busy and then she would sit in a corner, and pleasantly ask Madame how her day had been. Not many people stopped to ask Poppy how she was anymore. But little Maggie Walsh did. It was something Poppy had always, and would always appreciate. Maggie shared parts of herself with Madame Pomfrey that she had shared with no one else. And she was genuinely interested in what Madame Pomfrey shared with her. So Poppy knew that she must keep Maggie's ability to talk, to herself. If the child wanted to include someone in her words, she would.
That is why, when Cedric Diggory (whom she only ever saw for Quidditch injuries) brought the little redhead in, Poppy Pomfrey smiled a mischievous smile. She saw the sparkle in Maggie's eye and the warmth in Cedric's smile. She nodded and gestured to a bed.
"Well, well Maggie," she chuckled. "Sick? Shins? Achilles Tendons? Toes?" she guessed.
"Sick, all over the stairs," Cedric said in hushed tone. Though the use of the nickname had not slipped his notice.
"Ah, this should do it then," Madame Pomfrey left and in just a few minutes, came back with a clear potion. Maggie sighed. Though she enjoyed the nurse's presence, she couldn't stand medicine. But she drank it gratefully and watched as Madame Pomfrey left with a satisfied nod and a wink in Maggie's direction.
"Thank you," she whispered to Cedric.
"Nothing you wouldn't do for me," Cedric grinned. "So, do you prefer being called Magdalene? Or Maggie?" he tried to strike up a conversation with the girl of so few words.
"Maggie," she confirmed with a look that said 'Magdalene' was not a name she enjoyed.
"It was nice seeing you Maggie, I'll get in trouble if I stay around though so I hope you feel better," he stood, deciding not to push their encounters too far, fearing she would push away.
Maggie nodded, unwilling to find more words.
"I hope we have classes together!"
Maggie hoped so too. She also hoped she would have the courage to leave her secret spot behind the painting.
"Ms. Magdalene Walsh," Madame Pomfrey reappeared and took a spot in a chair next to the bed Maggie sat on. "Someone has been awfully talkative," she tapped the teenager on the nose.
"Poppy," Maggie smiled. It was a closely guarded secret that Maggie was allowed to call Madame Pomfrey by her first name. Almost as closely guarded that Madame Pomfrey was allowed to exchange words with Maggie. "He is wonderful," she said simply.
"So I see," Poppy's eyebrows raised as she observed the lovestruck girl. She had always suspected that Maggie had an infatuation with young Cedric. Whenever the two had been in the hospital wing at the same time (surprisingly, more often than you'd think), she seemed to daze off and forget the conversation she had been having.
"He speaks to me as though I'm no different than anyone else," Maggie confessed.
"You aren't," Poppy said firmly.
"But I am, everyone calls me 'the mute'" she sighed in reply.
"And that, is by your own choice. Because your dancing speaks louder than any one word," though Poppy had never seen the child dance, she had seen the sparkle in her eyes whenever she talked about it. And she had treated every injury that a dancer could possibly get. Some had been more serious than others and she worried about Maggie, but she soon realized that her worries were wasted. Maggie did not stop dancing for any pain. She continued to dance through any injury, even when told to rest.
That determination and passion reminded Poppy of a time when she was younger, and no matter how much her mother begged her to go out and play with other children, she could not leave her younger siblings. She cared for them when they were sick or crying. And if none of her siblings were hurt, than here dolls were. They needed constant care. Even when Poppy Pomfrey was lying in bed with an atrocious cold, she was secretly caring for her pet rabbit, who also had a bit of a runny nose.
Madame Pomfrey enjoyed the warmth she felt when she helped someone else feel better. It healed her to heal others. She felt the same happiness when helping that Maggie felt when dancing.
"Now, why were you really sick?" Poppy eyed the girl suspiciously as she yawned.
"I don't know, really. I was listening to Professor Dumbledore's words and then I saw Cedric and I got so worried that he would join that blasted tournament and that he would be hurt or…killed," she gulped, real fear in her eyes.
"Such feelings for a boy you hardly know are dangerous, Magdalene," Poppy warned in a low voice.
"But I know him so well, Poppy! He just doesn't know that," Maggie pleaded for acceptance from the one person at Hogwarts she fully trusted. Poppy sighed with a knowing smile.
"Oh Maggie, one day you will wake up and realize how silly you are being and how simple it is to talk to others," she patted the girls head before sending her off to bed in her common room.
Maggie mulled through her jumbled thoughts as she climbed the tower to the Ravenclaw common room, sending a tired smile to the ghost of Ravenclaw tower, Rowena Ravenclaw's daughter, who rarely ever spoke or appeared to anyone except a few choice Ravenclaws. She answered the new riddle easily and trudged up the seven flights of stairs before joining the chatting and hyper girls of her class.
"Magdalene! Did you hear? Victor Krum is coming to the Tournament!" gushed one of Cho's friends, Amy. Maggie nodded quietly and sat on her bed, participating in the conversation with silent nods and smiles. The girls chatted into the early hours of the morning before they decided it was time to sleep and crawled into their four poster beds.
But sleep did not come to Maggie. Her mind was racing, not with the thought of being sick or the thrill of Victor Krum, but with the pure joy and hope that she could actually be friends with Cedric Diggory.