Three days had passed since Maggie had fought with Cedric. She hadn't seen him in three days. It was Saturday morning, the morning of the first task. Maggie's stomach was in tight knots as she woke up early and rushed to the Great Hall for breakfast. Cedric hadn't been in the Room of Requirement for three days. He hadn't met her for breakfast, sat with her at lunch or walked with her in the halls during study hours. He had even gone out of his way to sit with his mates in class. People whispered. Cedric's brow furrowed. Maggie bit her lip. She had messed up. She had royally… messed up.
Of course, Maggie was not the only one regretting her actions. Cedric had been moping for three days that he'd never love again. He'd tried to protect Maggie from his friends, but he had always known that she did not need to be protected… and she did not want to be protected. He couldn't desert his friends, no matter how idiotic they were. He'd been their friend since before first year, when their fathers had introduced them. The friendship was arranged. But just because it was, and just because they weren't perfect, did not mean that their friendship was any less true. He couldn't give up all his friends just because he found the perfect girl. But he was not about to give up Maggie for them. The only solution was the incorporate both of his worlds and hope for the best. Except that Cedric was absolutely sure he'd already lost Magdalene. He couldn't bring himself to go to the Room of Requirement. He felt that it was her room. He had stolen it from her years before and now he surrendered it back to her. He didn't go meet her because he assumed she didn't want him to. He didn't sit with her so that she didn't have to be uncomfortable. And then on the fourth day… it was time for the First Task. And Cedric realized how much of an idiot he was being. He was doing exactly what Maggie always got mad at him for doing. He was thinking for her. And he realized he didn't want to compete without her in the stands, smiling at him. So he got up early and sat in their usual place at her table.
As Maggie entered the Great Hall on Saturday Morning, she found Cedric sitting alone at the Ravenclaw table. Quickly, she gained all the courage she had in every tiny bone in her body and sat down next to him. They were silent for only a few seconds before she turned to him just as he turned to her and they both blurted out, "I'm so sorry!"
"You're sorry?" Cedric asked. "What are you sorry for?"
"For being so difficult! I should have been more understanding. Sometimes I am such a hypocrite," Maggie blushed. "Why are you apologizing?"
"For being a moron. I shouldn't have been trying to protect you from my friends. And even after that, I assumed you wouldn't want me to be around you, so I ignored you. That's when I realized that whether you wanted me or not, I will always be there for you," he said, his volume dropping with every statement. Maggie paused for a few moments, studying his face and committing each tiny detail to memory. She observed how his chin dipped just slightly, or how his cheeks were rosier than usual. She noticed that his hair was disheveled, as if he hadn't bothered to brush it at all when he got out of bed. What stood out the most? The sincerity in his eyes. Their lovely hazel color was somewhat empty. She knew that Cedric understood it, then. She could see that he meant every word and that he truly understood what Maggie had been insisting all along.
"Cedric, the past is another land, far beyond our reach. The present is an empty space, between the good and bad. The future is a foreign world from which we can't return. Let's explore that foreign world together, and leave the past behind," Maggie whispered into his ear, earning a few snickers and whispers from the students that had begun to filter in. They embraced for a few moments before smiling at each other and digging into their breakfast just as Amy and her friends rushed in to the Great Hall, laughing. Amy stopped dead in her tracks as her other friends sat down, oblivious to her livid expression. She watched as Cedric and Magdalene smiled at each other and sat close, Cedric's lips moving furiously as Maggie's face reflected different expressions.
"Maggie, two days ago Harry Potter warned me that the first task would be dragons. We have to fight a dragon. We'll each have our own. Brief me now on everything you know about dragons. I read that they're skin is too thick to be affected by most magic. So it'll be about protective charms and distracting spells…things that don't directly affect the dragon," he filled her in quickly. She nodded and thought before taking his hand and leading him out of the Great Hall. They found a place under a tree near the Black Lake where no one was in eyeshot or earshot.
"Dragons… well to be honest I don't know as much as about them as you would hope. You're right about thick skin. And fire charms won't work either, because that will just enrage them to breathe their own fire, which is much more powerful than any spell any wizard could produce. Your best bet is to use the water wall… to protect you from fire. Protego to protect you from physical attacks. Put all your concentration into those two charms, trade between the two of them and they should protect you. Are you supposed to defeat the dragon or capture it? When is the task done?" Maggie asked, switching into business mode as the familiar knot began to tie up her stomach with worry again.
"I think Potter said something about capturing an egg…" Cedric shrugged.
"Cedric! That's very important! That changes everything. Oh my… Cedric, mother dragons are ten times more fierce because they are very protective of their young. They won't leave their nest unless they figure out you are threatening their eggs. That's when your trouble is going to start. I'm assuming there will be rocks in the area where you'll fight the dragon. Dragons usually nest on rocks or hot sand. Listen, how good are you with levitation charms?" Maggie questioned, her mind whizzing at a dangerous speed as she began to calculate a plan.
"Well we DID learn those in first year Magdalene," Cedric rolled his eyes, but at the sight of her stern look, he thought seriously. "I'm solid with them. I can handle levitating rocks, if that's what you mean," he answered. Maggie nodded once and leaned her head in, the two began to whisper and plan everything out. An hour later, all the champions were called to a tent and students were instructed to enter the Quidditch stands. Maggie walked Cedric to the tent, nerves eating at her as she clutched his hand with hers and walked in silence. When they reached the tent, only Fleur Delacour was there. They stopped walking and stood in silence. Maggie so badly wanted to kiss him… in case something happened and she never got the chance, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. What if she was bad at it? What if he enjoyed Cho more? No, she couldn't kiss him because then she might lose him. Cedric gave her a hearty squeeze before kissing her forehead and gesturing her off toward the stands just as Potter and Krum made their way to the tent.
Maggie followed the crowd of students and found herself sitting in a relatively good seat next to a small girl with white-blonde hair and a sparkle in her eyes. She sat on the edge of her seat anxiously, clutching her hands together and pulling her scarf up to cover her mouth from the biting wind. Winter was coming to Hogwarts…
Suddenly a loud horn was blown.
"Welcome students and spectators to the FIRST task of the renewed Tri-Wizard Tournament! We have brought back this age old tradition to reunite the students and the schools for a fierce competition and a challenge. These four contenders have been selected from the ancient Goblet of Fire as the most advanced and brave witches and wizards of their schools. Their task is to collect a golden egg from a specially selected dragon that contains a clue to the second task. The Champions will be awarded points determined by our judges, based on their performance against the dragon. Students who fail to retrieve their egg will be given no points and automatically placed at the bottom of the board. Now our first Champion is from our wonderful host school, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Good luck, Mr. Cedric Diggory!"
Maggie's eyes stung and burned from the biting wind, but she didn't dare close them. Time slowed down and all other noise faded out as Cedric stepped onto the pitch to face the spiked, fiery monster who sat on a nest at the other end of the pitch. Maggie didn't hear which dragon it was, nor did she particularly care. All her fears were realized as Cedric dashed out of the way of a flame shot from the dragon's mouth. Their hearts beat as one as his eyes frantically searched the crowd. His heart filled with confidence as he caught the pair of calm green orbs he had been looking for. Maggie gave him a reassuring smile, despite the feeling of impending doom that plagued her every thought. She knew if she stayed calm and collected, Cedric would too. And as quickly as he possibly could, Cedric cast a series of charms that no one understood. Suddenly the arena was filled with harps, violins, violas, pianos, flutes, and numerous other instruments playing an entrancing lullaby. It was hours after they had spoken that Maggie, pouring over numerous dragon books, had discovered that certain melodies and chord progressions could lull a dragon into sleep. Though she hadn't known much about chord progressions or the structure of music, Cedric did and was able to write a melody that followed the rules dictated. Maggie then taught him how to conjure an entire orchestra to play the lullaby he had written. Maggie smiled proudly as people whispered excitedly and the commentator gave a quick rundown action happening on the pitch.
Another pair of eyes was watching Mr. Diggory with great interest. These eyes, however, were cobalt blue. Albus Dumbledore was familiar with every charm, spell, and curse known to the wizarding world. He was also familiar with every student who passed through the halls of his school. Cedric Phillip Diggory had attracted a lot of attention during his years at Hogwarts. In fact, he had attracted so much attention that he was one of Albus' favorite students. Albus knew the boy was hard working and intelligent, but he also knew that he was not as magically accomplished as he appeared in this tournament. He was brave, indeed perhaps he would have been better placed in Gryffindor. But Albus Dumbledore knew that the charms performed were not part of the curriculum at his school, nor were they easily found. Only a Ravenclaw with ample time would have been able to find knowledge on how to put a dragon to sleep.
Ever since Mr. Diggory had approached him about the room of requirement, Albus had kept a close eye on the boy and the small Ravenclaw girl he already knew used the room. Rumors had been flying around the school halls about the two and their scandalous relationship. Now, Albus was not a gossip spreader, but he did enjoy a juicy piece of gossip on the occasion. He found an ample amount of enjoyment in listening to the student's trivial stories of each other and the blossoming young love between the seventh years was always a particular soft spot with Albus. Yes, Albus was definitely aware of the young love that had sprouted between Magdalene Walsh and Cedric Diggory. But, he realized with a knowing smile, there was absolutely no rules against training new spells and having others help you with the competition. Plus, Cedric's use of unfamiliar charms was nothing compared to the fact that every Champion seemed to be prepared to fight a dragon, which was supposed to be a secret. Everyone, including the little redhead, was entranced as they watched the dragon calmly lay down and began to sleep, snoring lightly. Mr. Diggory crept across the pitch as silently as he possibly could and the crowd fell silent as well. The concentration on keeping the lullaby playing was evident on the boy's face, but it was only a minute or so before he had the golden egg in his hand and crowd cheered wildly. The lullaby had stopped, but Ludo Bagman had already blown the horn and the dragon trainers were already in the arena, subduing the dragon and leading it out of the arena.
When the horn was blown, Maggie stood up and cheered with the rest of the Hogwarts students and faculty. The students from the other schools clapped politely out of respect and excitement that it was finally happening. But as quickly as Cedric left the field, Maggie was dashing through the stands muttering a very very quiet "excuse me" as she pushed past people. Even though she shouldn't have been allowed in the area where the Champions were, her close relationship with Poppy and the fact that she was Cedric's steady girlfriend made Professors conveniently "not notice" she was there. She ran to the tents where Poppy had set up a medical station and quickly found Cedric being checked over just in case.
"Cedric!" she squealed as she launched herself at him. He caught her easily, wrapping her in a huge hug. She didn't worry about having people hear her speak because only Poppy was in the tent, and beside that, she was too excited for Cedric to care.
"I told you it'd be alright, Mags," he grinned when they finally pulled away from each other slightly.
"Oh hush and just let me congratulate you without saying I told you so… You did wonderfully, just like we planned. And the lullaby? It was simply breathtaking," she smiled, getting lost in his eyes.
"It was all you. I just cast the charm," he shrugged nonchalantly. Maggie rolled her eyes, but otherwise just grabbed his hand and went to sit where the Champions were allowed to wait while the others competed. They couldn't see the pitch, as huge walls were surrounding it, but Maggie thought it was best that way. They listened with baited breath as Viktor, Fleur, and Harry all achieved their goals. It was time for the tally.
"It seems like at the top of the board with full marks is…" the crowd held its breath as an entity while Ludo Bagman paused for dramatic effect. "HOGWART'S CHAMPION CEDRIC DIGGORY!" he announced loudly, causing the majority of the stands to scream in outrageous applause. The other champions all did well, but Maggie knew it was important for Cedric to be number one. She knew he had to win if he wanted it to be worth it.
"My dad's coming over, I'll meet you in our room later Mags," Cedric whispered lovingly in her ear before standing. A part of Maggie was hurt that he still hadn't told his father about her, like he had promised he would. But she didn't want to ruin his special moment either so she nodded and turned away, walking back toward the castle to practice some dancing before Cedric turned up.