The Diggory Papers.
As edited & arranged by Miranda C. Weasley.
Rather to my surprise, I was just about calm enough by morning to enjoy the Prophet's attacks on Potter. I didn't think it was true (it was in the Prophet, after all), but I've never objected to seeing a rival done down. Besides, his embarrassment would take plenty of attention off me, as well as making Dumbledore look a complete cretin when it came out that one of his Champions had offed himself and the other was a raving loony. All in all, not a bad start to the day, as I scowled and disapproved of Rita Skeeter in the common room, reading out the juiciest bits in a tone of gentlemanly outrage.
As the painfully long day wore on, my mother showed up (alone, Dad was on an unavoidable trip to Kazakhstan and would if I was lucky arrive before the end), but I could hardly speak to her. Between my still pretty abject fear and the knowledge that I'd not see her for a long, long time if ever again, I'm amazed she didn't notice something badly wrong, but I suppose she was too busy being tearfully proud.
With my face screwed up in a purposeful scowl to keep the Hufflepuff stiff upper lip from wobbling, I checked my stuff was still ready for the flit – a bare minimum; broom, cash and that box of bits I mentioned. Summers actually asked me what I was doing, and for a second I realised just how insane my plan actually was – practically certain NOT to work, even if everything went right. Then I muttered something about keeping myself busy, and determinedly stopped thinking about it. The plan might well be dreadful, but it was all I had. Funnily enough, the Task hardly concerned me. I didn't care about winning it any longer, I had no reputation to care for, nobody to impress. I could concede if I got in any trouble, or limp through at my own pace in finest game Hogwarts style – all the better to fuel what might have to look like my 'despairing suicide' later. Hmph. Until lunch came around, I tried to avoid people I knew; they'd accept it as nothing more than pre-match nerves and given enough time they might well spot something off about me.
I wasn't prepared to be ambushed on the third floor. As I slipped along towards the South Wing to get some peace and quiet, I heard footsteps ringing behind me. They shouldn't have been there – the corridor was a dead end with only one, disused classroom. I lifted up the tapestry of Varadar the Venal to slip into the South Wing before whoever it was appeared. The door wasn't there. Cursing quietly, I recalled Tap's long-ago lecture on how the South Wing moved around the castle. I suppose after staying put for eight months it was too much to ask for one more sodding day, wasn't it? I slipped out from behind the tapestry, just in time to lean on it nonchalantly as the footsteps rounded the corner.
"Parkinson? What in the name of Circe's non-existent knickers are you doing here?" Whoever I'd expected to find wandering the dead ends of Hogwarts, it wasn't the Princess Consort Bitch of Slytherin. Especially not wearing what I might have said was her mother's best cocktail dress; if I'd thought her mother was a very, very expensive whore. Which isn't a bad description of your average high-born lady, but that's by the by.
She smiled, slowly and lasciviously. "I'll give you three guesses, unless you're too much of a Hufflepuff to see." I remembered a similar performance before the Yule Ball, and saw. Being lumbered with Malfoy from the age of two can't have been much fun for her; small wonder she was after a real man before her lifetime with that little ferret. As I had before the Yule Ball, I hesitated to provoke the heir to Lucius Malfoy's millions (not to mention his unsavoury alliances), and then the most gloriously liberating feeling spread through me. One way or another, nobody, not Cho or Malfoy or even the Gods themselves, could touch Cedric Diggory any more. Either Delacour père would kill me, or he wouldn't. Next to that threat, Malfoy and all the world paled into insignificance. It's a great feeling, complete freedom. Like the final tip-over and dive onto the Snitch, when you know you've won, the whole world just flies away behind you, like it's all been hit with Impedimentia and you're the only thing moving at full speed.
"Oh, I think I can guess. How did you find me?"
"Honestly, do you think you're the only person who knows about the South Wing? Draco heard about it from his mother, and showed me. And I know where it's gone."
Impressive work in the few hours since I'd left it, I had to admit. I let her lead me by back ways to the new entrance (seventh floor, south-east corner, round the corner from Barnabas the Barmy behind a suit of particularly large armour). Rather to my relief we didn't see anyone, though I did trip over a long string of what looked disturbingly like flesh in the corridor outside, and I wondered precisely what Slytherins got up to in a well-hidden few rooms.
It was time for my own piece of theatre. I rapped smartly on the locked door, silencing Parkinson's questions with a dramatic wave. "Qui derange la maisonette des toujours pûr?" I replied smoothly, contemptuously, and opened the door wide. Just in case Cho found the place again, I Conjured a sign ('Closed, Keep Out', with a fair copy of Flitwick's signature) and hung it on the door. Parkinson – Pansy – was already slipping out of the dress.
How else could I have nearly been late for my own death? Although the start time was nearing by the time I left the South Wing (I'd missed dinner for one), Hogwarts still had one last surprise to throw me, in the form of two ginger menaces lurking on the seventh floor. A Weasley twin smiled at me.
"We hope you enjoyed-"
"-your last time. If you survive-"
"-which we're sure you won't-"
"Chang will be interested."
They smiled cruelly. "And if you give Harry the slightest trouble today, she'll be the last of your problems."
I didn't know if it was a set-up or extraordinary luck on their part; and for once I didn't care. The Weasel Twins had finally got me, and it was too late, too late. I grinned, my bluff, all-good-chaps-together grin, and strode off to meet my fate. It's true what they say, there's nothing like sex to put a bit of confidence into you, and I was very nearly nonchalant as I went out to the Quidditch pitch.
That confidence didn't completely dissipate as Bagman gave us our last briefing. I didn't care about my reputation any more, didn't care about the score, just about giving everyone enough to remember Cedric Diggory by. No pressure, no do-or-die (yet), just a walk in the park. That didn't mean I wasn't enormously relieved that red sparks were enough to signal 'I surrender now HELP!' Dum spiro spero, but if I don't I can't(1).
Potter and I were first off, and we set off in opposite directions. I was crunching along at an easy jog when I spotted the first obstacle, a Conjured swamp covering the path. I performed a quick Four-Point Spell, and found the right way was straight through it. Rather than try to touch the swamp itself, I Levitated myself over it, and got to the other side at the cost of a bit of mud on the foot I'd used to push myself along.
The next two obstacles weren't so easy. First I ran across a solid wall of thorns, separate from the yew hedges but grown well into them. There was no obvious way around, and I didn't fancy going back in case I met Krum coming up behind me, so I smashed through with Reductor curses. I almost wish I'd gone back and met Krum; the other side of the thorns I ran into a scaled backside, like a lobster Engorged to the size of a giant. It was rumbling, as if the lobster had eaten something that disagreed with it, and I could see only one weak spot. Grimacing, I disentangled my right arm from the thorns, rammed my wand into what was presumably the Skrewt's arse and Petrified it from the inside out. Not quite fast enough.
As the tip of my wand left the armoured backside, it was followed by a great rush of fire and sparks. My ragged sleeve promptly burst into flames, and my frantic efforts to beat it out on the Skrewt's size alerted the fire-crab brain at the other end that something was wrong. As I sprinted past the gigantic hybrid, dodging its sting on the way, it dragged itself forward on its front legs, and even then it was nearly fast enough to catch me in the first twenty yards. When I almost tripped over Potter a hundred yards further on, I was reduced to babbling about enormous Skrewts before I picked myself up and carried on at a more relaxed jog, satisfied that there was at least one warm body between me and Hagrid's latest favourite monster.
Stopping to gather my breath at a sharp corner, I did another Four-Point and found I'd been running about the right way, but the path was turning sharply away and the middle was now somewhere the other side of the hedge I was facing. I dropped to my knees and hissed, 'Diffinido'. It worked perfectly; a section of hedge was neatly severed and I could push through to the other side. I carried on for a good distance, dodging around a Sphinx by the same method and hammering a group of rather lost-looking Red Caps with a barrage of Stunners.
As you can imagine, I was more than a little bit twitchy. So it was only natural that when I heard something behind me I dropped flat and threw a Reductor Curse over my shoulder. It was either the best or worst curse I ever performed; a dead-centre hit on a target I could hear but not see, behind my back. The target was Fleur, and her scream was the most horrible sound I've ever heard. If I had the slightest hint of honour or decency, I'd have stopped to help her, but my only thought was that she'd probably die happy if I went down beside her, so I carried on whilst her screams echoed in my ears.
I begin to wish I'd paid attention when Quirrell stuttered about Boggarts. I should have known that Charles Delacour couldn't really be standing in the maze (especially appearing out of thin air). I didn't, and all I could do was throw up my best Maltese Cross and run like hell. It worked, of course, and once that squat horror was out of my sight I realised what it was and slowed to a more reasonable pace.
Tiring rapidly, and not overly concerned with beating Krum or Potter, I walked the next few hundred yards, keeping a careful eye in front and to the sides. I didn't expect to find Krum sidling round a corner the other way. I knew I was going the right way, no question. Why on Earth would he come towards me? He could run and I'd probably never have hit him, could have won the Cup without my ever seeing him if he'd never turned round. And then I didn't have any more time to wonder, because his wand was coming up and I just had time to blurt something like 'what do you think you're doing' before the world dissolved in splotches of sheer agony. I take back what I just said about Fleur's scream being the worst thing I've ever heard. Mine was. You can't describe what the Cruciatus is like; if you've had it you'll know, if you haven't you never, ever want to. If you could be simultaneously frozen, burned, beaten and stabbed all over – it still wouldn't be half as bad. I'm the best part of eighty, I've seen and done more than most of the heroes who died along the way, and nothing else has come close to it, not two Lestranges with knives, not the werewolf on the road to Lhasa, not even – well, never mind.
It was Potter who stopped it – I don't know how. He seemed to think the thing to do after was stop for a gentlemanly chat; I've an idea I blamed Krum for Fleur's scream, and sent up red sparks for him. I wasn't very coherent really, as most people aren't under such circumstances. We set off in opposite directions again, and the next time I saw him I was behind him, and the Cup was only just in front of us. I went into a dead sprint on reflex, forgetting I was supposed to lose, and if I hadn't recovered enough to stumble accidentally-on-purpose just as Potter yelled, I'd have had my head taken off by the Acromantula which charged out of a side passage.
By some miracle it went for him rather than me, and I decided this was the time to surrender. If I'd had my wand, I'd have sent up red sparks and waited for the Aurors, but I didn't. By the time I'd got it back it had a firm grip on Potter with one set of mandibles, and the lower set was reaching for me. We were both throwing Stunners like confetti, but it must have taken a dozen or more before the massive thing keeled over, and Potter was crippled, standing on one broken-looking leg. I'd won the Cup. I was within twenty feet, my only remaining opponent couldn't walk and I didn't dare take it. The Triwizard Champion wouldn't be alone for a second tonight. If Delacour didn't murder me in public – and I'd just hit Fleur hard, so he probably would – there'd be any amount of chances for him to poison me, or curse me slowly, or something.
So that noble fool Cedric Diggory got to be noble one last time. I wanted it so, so very much, more than I'd ever wanted anything other than maybe Fleur. The glory, the money, the satisfaction of sticking it to everyone who'd ever pissed me off – and I still didn't dare, so I handed it to Potter on a plate. I gave him every argument I possibly could that he should just take the damn thing. And then he said we should tie for it. So help me, it was the single stupidest thing I've ever done. I was going to vanish; I had absolutely no use for my name on the trophy, but all is vanity, and I had beaten Potter fair and square (well, more or less). I rationalised that Potter would get all the attention – he always did – and we grasped the Cup between us. Seconds later, the Portkey took us to a much, much worse place.
It was a massive, overgrown graveyard – and somehow it was at least coming on twilight. We'd taken the Cup at about 8.30 or 9 in the evening, I reckon, and there should have been another hour of good light at least. Either we'd been in the maze much, much longer than I guessed, or something very funny was going on(2). I half-expected it to be Delacour's doing, though that didn't make much sense, and before we'd gone ten yards, I saw a short, hooded figure ahead. I was convinced it was him, so I put my wand up and began to mutter under my breath, 'Defensor cruce, defensor cruce'. When the figure drew its wand, I was ducking behind a stone angel even before a high, cold voice said 'kill the spare' and a sickly green light came at me faster than I'd have thought possible.
I didn't die. I 'came to' as a floating presence, hovering above what should surely have been my corpse. This didn't worry me; I had no brain to worry with, I saw without understanding. It might even be that I was dead for a while, that I was my own shade; I doubt a chain of events like that has ever happened before. I don't know why I'm not (still) dead. I think the spell took a deflection off the angel's leg, and I'm nearly sure the Maltese Cross had something to do with it. As I say, I had no thought at all at the time, as if I were drifting three-quarters asleep through a wireless programme or a complicated conversation in which I took no part(3).
I saw, or at any rate was present at, some sort of ritual which I assume was Voldemort's rebirth. Doubtless it would be very interesting, but as a disembodied Presence I had no more memory than understanding. All in all, I'm quite happy with that state of affairs. I remember Potter standing as best he could to defy whatever he faced, and what I later found was Voldemort himself staring him down. I remember other figures – Death Eaters, dozens of them. I remember bright lights – a duel – then golden strands everywhere, like being inside a huge Fabergé egg.
And I was myself again. Almost, at least. I was squeezed into something, and I wasn't 'me' – I couldn't feel my feet, or indeed much else except pressure all around, but I thought and reasoned again. I was sqeezed out of a wand – Voldemort's wand – like toothpaste from a tube, rather like Apparating in slow motion. Once I was all the way out, I saw Harry at the other end of this magnificent golden cage, and I knew he was somehow, impossibly, by what magical miracle I did not and do not know, holding his own. I think I told him to hold on, but not having any vocal cords I don't know if he heard. I looked something like a ghost, but very dense, almost black.
I also noticed three other things. First, other 'ghosts', less solid than I, following me out of the wand. Second, just how close I was to possibly the most evil creature that ever walked this earth, and certainly the ugliest – like a snake in human form, or a particularly starved demon. Third, I saw, or felt, a cord of the same dense grey smoke I was made of, leading to my body, which I must say looked very dead. And somehow, I knew the others were dead, and I wasn't. They had no cords, and they looked 'thinner' than I did, less substantial.
I tried to speak to Potter again, and I heard the others do so, telling him to get the Portkey and go. I told him to take me home, back to my parents. I didn't care about Delacour for the moment; compared to watching whilst a bunch of Death Eaters destroyed my corpse he was nothing. Somehow, he did it, and I was dragged along as if on a long chain as my body and Potter went back to Hogwarts.
When the journey ended, I was disembodied again, but by some freak of magic my mind stayed. Dumbledore came along, and cleared everyone off; even my parents. Delacour was there, being ushered away by two beefy Aurors. My 'corpse' was left alone as everyone found other things to worry about. I had something more to worry about too; getting back into my body before it rotted or was possessed or any of the other horrible things that happen to undamaged and unprepared corpses. I twisted my non-corporeal self about this way and that, trying to stuff it into my body, and eventually it clicked.
I was tempted to go to Dumbledore and reveal myself; he'd cleared the whole pitch and there was nobody around but me. And then I saw just how perfect the situation was. I was dead. No need to fake it, half the country had seen the corpse. All I needed was to stay that way. I Summoned a Red Cap, one of the ones I'd been stunning not long before, and started the short but fiddly task of Transfiguring it into me.
To be honest, it was probably my worst piece of Transfiguration since the dog in the First Task. It was clearly a body, but even Trelawney would have seen, without her glasses yet, that it wasn't me.
Inspiration! "Accio Skrewt!"
It worked. The beast came hurtling towards me, and when it landed it saw a nice, handy, non-moving meal. Maybe it even recognised the face that had Petrified its arse – it still wasn't moving too well, and it was the body I'd really cocked up, far too long and skinny. At any rate, it bit off a leg (there's a gruesome sight, if you like, watching yourself eaten by a wild animal) and scratched up the rest pretty well with its claws and stinger(4).
I Disillusioned myself, as badly as ever, and set off for the castle down the lane someone had conveniently blasted through the maze. I saw a great crowd rounded up in front of the door, so I went in the back one, through the greenhouses. My stuff – broom and one box – was on the roof, the high balcony where I'd woken up with Cho all those months ago on Boxing Day. With the whole school in or around the Hall, it was child's play to get up there. I picked up my broom, strapped the box to the tail, hopped onto the balustrade and flew off. Cedric Diggory died that night, and five hours later a man who I rather fancied might be Arthur Callahan(5) landed in Devon, Glamoured into blond hair and grey eyes which made him rather resemble a lanky Malfoy. This is his story. And so is the rest, if I live long enough to write it. For Cedric, his epitaph will still do just fine.
Cedric Diggory, 1978-1994
Died so that another might live
'And thus came Ingolfr in honour
to the shores whence none save gods return'
1) Latin for 'whilst I breathe I hope'. A famous and ancient proverb, and incidentally the title of Draco Malfoy's 2064 autobiography.
2) This corresponds with Harry Potter's recorded description of the graveyard at Little Hangleton, and is a mystery. Certainly Harry returned to Hogwarts in the dark, but the times of the whole day make very little sense. The task is recorded as having begun immediately after Hogwarts' usual dinner, but 'at dusk' which would have fallen several hours later.
3) It is regrettable, though understandable, that Cedric does not tell us more about this possibly-unique experience. His attempt at explanation, whilst plausible in that it contradicts no more magical theory than any modern-day attempt, ignores the well-known magical incompetence (in most fields) of the traitor Peter Pettigrew, known as Wormtail. As any Hogwarts graduate is aware, beginning students can create the most surprising effects with their spells, and Pettigrew is not known to have cast the Killing Curse before or since. There is no overriding need to attribute to the impossible what can be explained by simple idiocy.
4) There is no mention of Cedric's corpse recorded elsewhere, save that the funeral was held with a closed coffin – small wonder under these circumstances, though it would arouse no suspicion as many wizards feel it is either ill-mannered or unlucky to look upon a corpse.
It is surely no coincidence that 'Arthur Callahan' answering to approximately this description became quite a notorious figure in certain circles over the next twenty years.
Editor's Note: This represents the end of the main portion of the Diggory Papers. Several other chronicles were found with them, and appear to cover isolated episodes over the next several decades. Several interesting and long-standing historical mysteries are resolved therein, but the publication is to be undertaken by a different editor so this is goodbye from Cedric Diggory and also goodbye from Miranda Charity Weasley, editor-trainee, Lovegood & Boot.
Author's Note: It's been a long time coming. Thanks to all who stuck with me when RL intervened. As Miranda hints, there will be short sequels, including various crossovers, Cedric meeting some Lestranges and possibly even an excursion into the dimmer reaches of Shakespeare. They will be posted at and my long-standing but previously unused LJ, jjmarsden. I feel I've rather spoiled it now; I was determined not to have any A/Ns in this fic and I did so well. Goodbye from me as well, or rather au revoir for now.