Chapter 9

Magdalene couldn't be entirely sure where her newfound confidence had come from. She just knew that she couldn't let anyone boss her around anymore. As her and Cedric entered the Great Hall and chose a spot at the Hufflepuff table, she smiled and hummed one of Cedric's songs to herself.

"Maggie…what made you do that?" Cedric finally asked after a few minutes of pondering in his head.

"You saw what that little prat was doing! I didn't know if you would reach us in time to stop the situation," Maggie tried to shrug it off cool-ly.

"Come on Mags. You knew I would say something. Even I couldn't let Potter," cough, "I mean Harry get picked on by that greasy fourth year," Cedric rolled his eyes, not buying it for a minute.

"I've been on Harry's end of bullying," Maggie admitted quietly, pushing some French toast around on her plate with a fork. "I know how it feels when you can't stand up for yourself. It's mortifying, even more so than painful. So I gave him an excuse."

"Who picked on you?" Cedric asked. He was angry, but mostly curious, because he assumed that Magdalene had never had it easy since she was so different from the other students.

"It's not important," Maggie shrugged, suddenly becoming hyper aware of Cedric's eyes on her and the tension in his hands. A beetle scampered by on the table and Maggie gave it a quick look of disgust before turning back to Cedric.

"Of course it is Magdalene. No one should be allowed to walk around thinking they can treat other people like that," Cedric insisted.

"It's not like there's much you can do about it now," she pointed out calmly, shaking her red curls a little and taking a bite of her breakfast for the first time. She didn't like discussing it and hardly felt the need to rehash things of the past. "Please Cedric," she added as she watched him open his mouth to argue. "Let's not worry about things that've happened in the past. It isn't an issue anymore, okay?" she gave him a look which he knew meant that if he didn't let it go, she would walk away.

"Fine, but you have to promise to let me know if anything like that happens again," he placed his hand over hers on the table and she fought the blush that crept up her cheeks.

"I don't need protecting," she reminded him, it seemed, for the dozenth time.

"I know," he smiled. "But I like to pretend that you let me wear the pants sometimes."

"Oh Cedric," Maggie snorted. He watched in delight as she laughed outright, attracting the attention of quite a few people. He had never seen the young woman he loved so open and comfortable in public and her confidence was contagious. He kissed her on the cheek and she sobered quickly, still clearly uncomfortable with the intimacy. He sighed and stood, pulling her up with him. The pair made their way down the main aisle and out the doors of the Great Hall, headed to the Room of Requirement for more practice. They were stopped, however, by a woman in a tight green jacket and skirt. She had a quill in one hand and a long piece of parchment in the other.

"Mr. Diggory!" she exclaimed, pulling him into a hug, which in turn wrenched Maggie's arm into an awkward position. She pulled her hand from Cedric's crossly, rubbing her sore elbow and shooting a glare at the intruder.

"Hello Ms. Skeeter," Cedric held back the harsh words he had for the less-than-desirable woman. She had previously conducted an interview with each of the Champions, and Cedric hadn't liked the way his went. He had dreaded what the 'Daily Prophet' would say about him. Not so surprisingly, the article had focused on Harry and for once Cedric was very glad.

"I was wondering if I could conduct a bit of a follow-up interview with you and your friend here," she gave him a wink, thinking of all the scandalous things she would right about Golden Boy Diggory in her next article since she'd been spying on the obnoxiously quiet redhead. At first she'd wondered if she should accuse Cedric of dating a girl with a mental handicap, but then from the gossip she'd overheard she knew her story could be much, much better.

"Sorry, but Ced's not interested," Maggie seethed coldly, grabbing Cedric in the arm.

"Tsk tsk, little miss," Rita stuck a hand out to block the pair from moving. "I'm afraid that it's simply not your choice. Now, let's all go back into the Great Hall then shall we?" she led them both with a not-so-gentle shove back through the doors. A few heads turned to look at them, but they really weren't the focus of the gossip anymore since people—even Amy and her 'gang'—had gotten used to seeing them together.

"Well then let's start with you. Miss…Walsh, is it?" Rita settled herself as she let her special quill do all the work for her.

"Maggie," the redhead confirmed, grinding her teeth in annoyance. Her precious rehearsal time was being wasted by a woman who clearly had nothing but bad intentions.

"How long have you been in a relationship with Mr. Diggory?" for once Rita Skeeter got straight to the point, not wasting any time in getting to the nitty gritty details.

"Excuse me but I hardly think that it's any of your business," Maggie replied in a cold tone. Cedric felt her small hands squeeze his tightly. He rubbed his thumb over her hand and cleared his throat.

"I'm afraid I have to agree Ms. Skeeter. We appreciate you wanting to interview us for your column, but the private details of our lives will remain just so…private," he confirmed with a nod, standing. Rita frowned only momentarily, not being used to being refused, and stood.

"Now, now Mr. Diggory. I don't think your father would find Ms. Walsh to be a suitable choice for a companion. As I recall it, he's quite proud of your reputation. Don't you think a little girl who won't speak and won't kiss you is a little against that reputation?" Rita sneered, watching as blood boiled in both the young adults standing before her. Before Cedric could say anything, though, the unknown girl opened her mouth and out streamed a pent up frustration that had been waiting for many, many years to be released.

"Now you see here Ms. Skeeter," Maggie sneered. "What I do or do not do is NONE of your business, or anyone else's for that matter. My relationship with Cedric is between myself and Cedric, not you, your readers, his father, or anyone else who cares about his illusive reputation," she mocked the word with every ounce of sarcasm she had in her. "Furthermore, when I am ready to kiss my boyfriend I will do so, regardless of what situation we are in or who is around to watch! Perhaps it did not occur to you or anyone else that despite my previous inability to speak my thoughts I do indeed have plenty! I am far more intelligent than your pitiful self will ever be. I hope you have a very awful day Ms. Skeeter," Maggie practically shouted, as more people began to pay attention to the developing soap opera. Cedric sat in shock, for the second time that day, and allowed himself to be dragged away by Maggie. That is he was allowing himself until Rita Skeeter said something that sent him into a whirl of anger…

"Well then Mr. Diggory! I suppose Magdalene is right. She does indeed 'wear the pants' in your relationship," Rita taunted, knowing she would get a big reaction.

Without knowing quite why, Cedric stopped. Maggie turned to give him a confused glance, but before she could even contemplate what Rita Skeeter had said or why Cedric was staring at her with a determined and somewhat angry look, his lips were on hers and to her shock…hers were reacting the way they were supposed to! For months Maggie had lost sleep over what would happen the day she finally had her first kiss…would she fail at it? Would it be awkward afterward? And worst…would Cedric break up with her? But as their lips touched and they moved their arms around each other, she realized that it had all been for naught. It came naturally, just like falling in love had.

Cedric was thrilled and beside himself. He hadn't meant to make Maggie uncomfortable or to hurt her or single her out, but he simply hadn't been able to stand it any longer. He had earned her trust and her love. He loved her more than anything in the world. Why shouldn't he be able to kiss the love of his life? And why should some nosy woman like Rita Skeeter dictate anything in his relationship? So he had kissed her, just like that, in front of the entire Great Hall. Though it felt like forever, it only lasted a few short seconds (to the relief of the professors and the disappointment of the students looking on in entrancement). The two of them pulled away and smiled; completely and blissfully unaware that anything else in the world existed.

Rita Skeeter sat with a smug smile and for once… didn't write a scathing article that told of scandals and insults. She sat, without her special quill, and wrote a story of romance for her readers—who occasionally were hopeless romantics who just needed to hear about a good kiss.

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