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He'd entered because he was tired of the sidelong glances when he said his house was Hufflepuff. And Cedric still hadn't seen Dumbledore, but he'd relaxed a little now that he'd gotten his message across. Cedric winced, guilty all over again in the face of Ron's rage. Arms gripped and restrained him, though he tried to shake them off. He made his way carefully down the corridor towards the sound until he could make out Dumbledore's high, old-man's voice saying, "I should think we'd have found him by now, Alastor." A pause, then, "Harry! Sneaking down to a T in the maze, hand still on his wand (he hadn't let it go), he peered around the edge. "One, two, --"And without stopping to think for once -- just acting -- Cedric bent forward with the others, his fingers gripping the edge of the cup, too, his other hand tight on his own wand. "Later, Cedric would wonder what -- exactly -- he'd thought he might accomplish, going back with the adults. " Dumbledore snapped, even as he and the other two turned, wands at the ready. "Guilty at distracting Dumbledore for even a few precious seconds, Cedric ducked behind the great monument of the reaper where he and Harry had first come out. Harry -- looking battered and bloody -- had squared off against a white-faced man bearing slits for a nose and red eyes. Yet there he was -- back straight, wand out, defiant to the end. Still clutching Harry to him, the fingers of his free hand closed over the cup handle and he felt two things simultaneously. Saying Voldemort's name, or thinking it, no longer scared him."He Disapparated," she told him, "as soon as you and Harry 'ported away."Cedric nodded just slightly; he wasn't surprised by that. "You're alive, and everything will be all right."But she hadn't, Cedric noticed, said that was 'all right.'"Go back to sleep.He'd entered because he'd been called "Pretty boy Diggory" once too often. Moody and the Granger girl would get Dumbledore for him, then they'd go back for Harry. And then, before he could even think to duck, Weasley hit him -- hard -- in the jaw, knocking him backwards onto his arse as onlookers gasped."You bloody ! Dumbledore and Moody were standing there -- thankfully looking in the opposite direction. I didn't get a good look at it; I was trying to drag Harry away. It had been guilt-motivated, not logic-motivated, and he became a liability, not a help ---- something Dumbledore let him know the moment they released the Portkey (all on their feet, as they'd been prepared). With three trained, adult wizards, Voldemort clearly wasn't worrying over a student. First was the (now almost familiar) tickle-yank of dislocation. He should have been alarmed by that, but seemed incapable of intense feeling, and they must have given him a serious pain potion that numbed everything, not just his body. In fact, he drifted in and out of consciousness for a while. Without Harry there, Voldemort wouldn't have wanted to stick around to tangle with Dumbledore. Right now, what you need most is rest."Cedric woke again when it was morning -- late morning, judging by the angle of the sun through the windows.It had been an honest answer, acknowledging but not commenting on the fact that Cedric had been tripped in the first place while trying to keep Harry behind him as they both ran for the cup. He felt a small hand grip his bicep and he tried to shake it off, but a pale, serious face got down right in front of him, a girl with bushy hair. Dumbledore had known where he was in the maze the whole time, and despite everything, Cedric retained wit enough to be impressed. Food was food, to him, and he nibbled the jellybeans daintily, holding each one in little brown paws."So -- do I want to know what day it is? "His parents exchanged a 'serious' look -- which alarmed him a bit, but he tried to pretend he hadn't noticed. "Cedric --"But before his father could continue, Madam Pomfrey bustled in. "Lucy --" Amos began."He needs to know," she snapped, then raised her head and met his eyes. It's affecting your nervous system from where it struck your spine on down your legs."Throat dry and belly sick, he asked, "What does that mean? "His mother started to answer, then shut her mouth and looked up at Madam Pomfrey. "Essentially, it's begun to kill the nerves in your legs and pelvic region. "But I feel all right, now." It was an expression of denial as much as of confusion."You feel all right," Madam Pomfrey told him, "because I've put a paralyzing charm on your lower body.
The two of them tumbled down the grassy embankment to land behind a cockeyed tombstone."It's Voldemort," Harry hissed as they came to a stop, his hand still pressed to his forehead. This wasn't the time for analysis, but dear God, if it " he muttered as he heard the steady crunch of their attacker's approaching feet, and he gripped his wand so tightly, it cut into his palm. He could feel every rib he'd bruised -- and maybe a few he'd broken. I need --"Moody had him by the elbow and yanked him sideways, hissing in his ear, "Where's Potter? He wanted to cry quietly, privately, and bit the back of his hand, but his weeping was too rough.One of Cedric's other hidden faults was a terrible temper when poked hard enough through the bars of his tightly controlled exterior. His face must have relayed his devastation, as she went on, "Healing has progressed a lot since the last time this curse was employed, Cedric.Dumbledore had warned them that the maze changed people. When push had come to shove, he'd literally shoved a kid three years younger than he was behind him in a race for a trinket of silver and crystal, yet when he'd fallen, that same kid had come back for him."Go on, take it! He was being honest, or trying, even if it killed him inside. A reversal may still be possible -- quite possible, these days -- and the healers at St. ""I'm not sure," Madam Pomfrey said, fidgeting needlessly with the blanket covering his lower body -- which, he realized now, he didn't ."Thanks.""No problem."Cedric almost smiled at the banality of the exchange, and tried to make a joke to conceal the fact he was still trembling, "You know, for a moment there, I thought you were going to let it get me.""For a moment there, so did I." Harry seemed startled by his own admission. It's under one of the hedges right where we first went into the maze -- Harry and I.""Let's go," Dumbledore said, and turning, he pointed his wand at Moody's unconscious form, which was immediately wrapped up in roots -- Cedric knew firsthand how tightly those held -- then Dumbledore turned the wand on the hedges themselves, parting them like the Red Sea. " Ron Weasley bellowed again from the sidelines, ready to rush Cedric once more."Peace, Ron," Dumbledore said, almost mildly, raising a hand in Ron's direction. Besides, he had to know what had happened after he and Harry had come home by Portkey. They'd had to drag in something large enough to accommodate the size, but Cedric could reach it just by turning a little and leaning over. " She'd tell him, even if everybody else avoided it. She didn't do it to criticize, but because she loved him enough to be honest.Yet Cedric would always be grateful to the boy for answering so, almost as grateful as for saving him in the first place. More like three or four, and he was surrounded by to him. A wide aisle opened, leading right back towards the stands. The bed itself was surrounded by cards and flowers. Laughing a bit, he reached out to grab a bag of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans -- but he fed them to Esiban, who wouldn't care if he got a snot- or spinach-flavored one. It saves me pouring it down your throat and wasting half.""Yes, Madam Pomfrey." He drank, and tried not to make a face. "Her mouth opened slightly and she, too, turned to exchange a significant glance with his parents. "Cedric -- you're not ready to be released quite yet."Snatching Esiban off his head because little claws digging into his scalp were starting to grow quite annoying, he asked, "What's wrong? Both Madam Pomfrey and Cedric's father were looking at her, too, though her eyes were lowered to the long, pale hands she'd turned palm up in her lap.
The-Boy-Who-Almost-Died has to figure out what it means that he didn't. They'd all leapt aside for cover, and suddenly the air was awash with the bright light of curses and hexes, and Cedric -- who'd never seen a real wizard's battle -- hunkered down with hands over his head, certain he was about to die.