Title: He Is Changed
Summary: One-shot None who went inside were unchanged. One action can have a world of consequence. AU GoF
Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me, nor do any associated characters or settings.
Author's notes: This is obviously AU from GoF. Spoilers or lack thereof are inside.
Dumbledore knows that the third task is when it will happen, whatever it is. He realizes that Harry is not safe, but can do nothing. And he hates it. Hates the powerless feeling that he associates with Voldemort. Only Voldemort, only ever Voldemort could make him feel powerless.
And as he watches Harry enter the maze, bright and shinning and clever and as a good a boy as could be and he doesn't expect him to come out the same.
At best would be disappointment and failure. Relief at finishing alive and well, but disappointment at missing the cup. Congratulations and truthful happiness for whoever won. Bright and shinning and as good a boy as could ever be.
At worst Dumbledore imagines dead eyes and marred skin. Bones broken and fragmented, muscles torn and injured. At worst he sees nothing. A boy who could have been. A ghost, an image of possibilities. An empty shell.
So Dumbledore waits, powerless to change what will happen, if anything will happen at all.
It's all up to the Champions.
The best and the brightest that each school has to offer.
When Fleur screams the crowd grows quiet. From the silent maze the screams grow and grow then fade and stop. Dumbledore almost cries when he sees the red sparks and the teachers patrolling the maze dart in quickly to extract her.
She doesn't speak when they bring her out. Only rocks backwards and forwards and croons meaningless sounds. She is changed.
Krum comes out next, stupefied with glassy eyes. For one split, horrible, torturous second, Dumbledore believes he is dead. Krum takes a shuddering breath and stares at the sky and does not get up. They ask if he is injured but he does not respond. He is changed.
Then there is nothing. Second upon second, minute upon minute, dragging on to form hours of nothing. Of stillness and silence and apprehension and mounting fear.
Then they are back and the crowd cheers and cheers and falls silent as they do not move. As the two boys, so impossibly tiny next to the walls of the maze, just lie on the ground.
And Cedric looks up and says, "It was supposed to be me." He does not cry. He does not scream. It is not real yet. But he is changed. He can never be the same again.
And Dumbledore closes Harry's dead eyes. There is no father to rush down and yell about how it isn't meant to be like this, no mother to cry for him; there is only a child who everybody thought would live and an empty shell of hopes and dreams pinned on a fourteen year old boy.
Dumbledore does not see Moody smirk.
He sees nothing.