The Sugar Quill
Author: Emily (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Third Task  Chapter: Chapter One
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. It all belongs to the wonderful JKR. Much thanks to my great editor, B.

Part 1, Part 2

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PART 1

Professor Dumbledore stood in front of the crowded tables of the Great Hall.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, in five minutes time I will be asking you to make your way down to the Quidditch field for the third and final task of the Triwizard Tournament. Will the champions please follow Mr. Bagman down to the stadium now."

Harry stood, "Good luck, Harry, " said Ron. "Beat those gits!"

"Ron!" Hermione scolded, "Harry, don't forget everything we practiced, alright? You can do it! Good luck!"

"Be careful, Harry," cautioned Mrs. Weasley, "and good luck."

In sucession, the Weasleys wished Harry the best, and then he was gone. Five minutes later, Dumbledore stood up in front of the Hall again. "Will everyone please make their way to the Quidditch field now, and will the families of the champions, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Cho Chang please follow me."

Ron threw Hermione a confused glance, and she shrugged her shoulders. For once, Hermione had no idea what was going on.

"Come along," said Mrs. Weasley, so they followed Bill and Mrs. Weasley over to where Dumbledore stood waiting with Cho, the Diggorys, the Krums, and the Delacours.

"The families and close friends of the champions get the best seats," said Dumbledore, smiling, "Please come with me." As they trooped acress the field, Ron whispered, "I reckon he'll be ok, don't you, Hermione?"

"Of course he will! He knows plenty of spells and curses, I think."

"Oh, sure," replied Ron.

But Hermione could tell by the slightly sea-sick look on Ron's face that he wasn't so sure, and judging by the quivering feeling in her stomach, it was obvious that she wasn't either. The champions' families were sitting halway up the stands, directly in front of the entrance to the maze. Hermione was sitting between Ron and Cho. Over past Cho, on Hermione's left were Mrs. and Mr. Diggory, and the Krums. Past Ron, Mrs. Weasley, and Bill were the Delacours. Professor McGonagall was giving the champions some kind of instructions, but she was inaudible over the roar of the crowd. This one of the few times that Hermione wished the she could read lips: she hated not knowing what was going on.

"What do you think she's telling them?" she whispered to Ron.

"Haven't got a clue. It's driving me bloody crazy, too."

For once, Hermione didn't scold Ron about his mouth. "I know what you mean," she replied.

Professor McGonagall was clearly done with her instructions, and she turned to Ludo Bagman, and opened her mouth to speak to him, but Cedric tapped her shoulder, and held up his finger, like he was asking for a minute. McGonagall gave him a questioning look, and he gestured towards Cho. Out of the corner of Hermione's eye, she saw Cho's cheeks flush. McGonagall gave Cedric a stern look, then waved her hand; she had been beaten.

"Hurry up, Diggory," she shouted as Cedreic came running towards the stands, and Cho went flying down the steps to meet him. While the other champions talked nervously, Cho leaned out of the stands and Cedreic kissed her. Then he leaned in and whispered something in her ear that made her smile, and she whispered something back. Inwardly, Hermione sighed and stole a glance at Ron. He was discussing something with Seamus, who was sitting behind them, and was seemingly oblivious to Cho, Cedric, and Hermione. However, Bill caught Hermione's eye, looked at Ron, and winked at her. Blushing, Hermione turned back to look at Harry and Viktor.

"Let's go, Diggory," yelled McGonagall. Cho and Cedric broke apart, and he gave her and his parents a final wave as he jogged back across the field. Suddenly, the magnified voice of Ludo Bagamn booomed over the field, just as it had during the Qudditch World Cup. "Ladies and Gentlemen, the third and final task of the Triwizrd Tournament is about to begin! Let me remind you how the points stand. Tied in first place, with eighty-five points each- Mr. Cedric Diggory and Mr. Harry Potter, both of Hogwarts School!"

Hermione let out a great whoop, but she could hardly even hear it, because the noise from the surrounding stands was deafening. Cho was screaming wih all her might, Ron was hollering "Go Harry!" like there was no tomorrow, and all around her the seats quaked with applause.

"In second place, with eighty points- Mr. Viktor Krum, of Durmstrang Institute!" The applause was not nearly as thunderous this time, but Mr. and Mrs. Krum were on their feet, and Hermione couldn't help but give a little yell. After all, he had taken her to the ball, and asked her to visit him. At her yell, Ron threw her a deadly look. 'Ha, take that Ron, Mr. "They don't make 'em like that at Hogwarts."', she thought.

"And in third place- Miss Fleur Delacour, of Beauxbatons Academy." More polite applause, and Hermione was delighted to see that Ron did not yell for Fleur. Then Harry waved at them, and vigorously waved back. "So...on my whistle, Harry and Cedric! Three-two-one!" Bagman gave blast on his whistle, and Harry and Cedric disappered into the darks jaws of the maze.

"Viktor! On my whistle!" yelled Bagman, checking his watch. "Three- two-one-" screech. Viktor too, disappeared. Far below Ron and Hermione, Fleur was nerxously twisting her robes in her hands, and dropped only on the third blow of Bagman's whistle, when she too disappeared in the maze. The crowd slowly quieted, and ten minutes had passed when Cho turned to Hermione, her face still glowing from Cedric's kiss. "How long do you think this will take, Hermione?" Hermione once again felt a twinge of jealously, not because of Cedric, but simply because Cedric wasn't a great prat who didn't have a clue about girls, like a certain red-head who was sitting next to her.

"I don't know. Let me ask Ron." she replied, turning to him.

"Don't bother," he said, grinning sheepishly. "Sorry, I was listening in. I don't know. If Hermione doesn't know, NO-body knows." Cho smiled at him, "Ok, thanks anyway." Then they fell back into silence. Hermione listened to the crowd murmur around her. It was rather frustrating not to know what was going on; she listened for a spell or something coming from the maze. Suddenly, a shrill scream echoed through the stadium, and red sparks shot up. "It's Fleur!" said Ron.

Determined not to ruin the night, and figuring she owed him one for not cheering for Fleur, Hermione clenched her jaw and kept her biting comment to herself. Hagrid vanished into the maze, and moments later came out with a shock of pale blonde hair down his back. "Fleur!" yelled the Delacours in unison, and pushed their way past the Weasleys, past Hermione and Cho, past the Diggorys, and past the Krums, then ran to their daughter who was lying on the field. "I hope she's alright," said Cho, whose face had gone white. "Miss Delacour is fine," boomed Ludo Bagman, "She has been stunned, but she is perfectly fine." The roar of the crowd died down again.

"What do you think happen?" Hermione asked Ron.

"Dunno," he replied. "She must've met something she couldn't handle. You heard him, she'll be ok."

The remaining champions had been in the maze for over an hour when the next sounds came. Someone was yelling, and it sound like whoever it was was in a lot of pain. Next to Hermione, Cho went white again. "It's Cedric," she whispered to no one in particular. "That's Cedric. Cedric?" her voice rose. "Cedric?"

Suddenly, as suddenly as it had begun, the yelling stopped, and a moment later, red sparks rose into the air. This time McGonagall went in after the downed champion. The Diggory's faces fell. Hermione knew how much they, especially Mr. Diggory, had wanted Cedric to win, and now, it seemed, that he was going to be beaten by Viktor Krum or Harry Potter. But when McGonagall returned from the maze, she was levitating Viktor Krum in front of her, not Cedric. Hermione let out a suprised gasp at the same time Cho let out a sigh of relief. Then, to Hermione's surprise, Cho turned to her and asked, "Are you alright, Hermione?" "Oh...I suppose so, yes. He's fine. Look, he's waking up."

"Are you going to go see him?" Cho asked. Beside Hermione, Ron tensed up.

"No, I don't think so. I don't suppose he feels much like talking now. I'll let him be with his parents," replied Hermione. Ron relaxed, and grinned at no one in particular.

Krum's parents had already made their way to the field, and were now following Krum, Fleur, and the Delacours to the hospital wing. Slowly time went ticking by...nine-thirty, ten o'clock, eleven o'clock. Many of the younger students were sleeping in the stands, and they were rounded up by Professor Sinastra and sent back the their dorms.

By midnight, most of the first years were gone, and a good portion of the second and third years. At midnight, Ron, who was clearly very tired, closed his eyes and leaned against Hermione. Suprised, she jumped, and he blushed furiously, mumbling an apology. At twleve-thirty Lavender and Parvati left, saying they need their "beauty sleep." Mrs. Weasley had Accio'd blankets all around, because even in June, it was cool at night. Mrs. Diggory was asleep on her husband's shoulder, while Ginny leaned on Bill. Hermione was lost in thought, mostly about Ron (who looked so cute struggling to keep his eyes open) and Harry, how many times their friendships had been tested and had come out twice as strong.

Suddenly, at one o'clock, something happened. Two bodies suddenly appeared at the entrance to the maze. Hermione and Cho stood at the same time, craning to see what was happening. Hermione knew instantly that something was wrong, and so, by the look on her face, did Cho. "Cedric!" she screamed, and went flying down the stairs as she had done only hours eariler to meet Cedric for one last kiss. Ron stood, looking confused. Hermione yelled "Harry!" at the top of her lungs, then shot after Cho. People around them didn't seem to understand what was happening. Most of them were still sitting, or rubbing groggy eyes. Hermione was down seven steps when she noticed that Ron, still dazed, wasn't behind her, so she ran she back and grabbed his hand.

"Ron," she said urgently, "Ron, come on. Something's wrong." Then she bolted back down the stairs, still only steps behind Cho, dragging Ron with her. People were now awake, but they thought that someone had won, although they weren't sure who, and thought that Cho, Hermione and Ron were running to offer congratulations. Cho threw herself at Cedric, and was caught by Professr Dumbledore, who tried to shield her, but it was too late. She had seen him, and she had heard Fudge say, "Dumbledore-he's dead!" Hermione, only steps away, saw Cho collapse onto the ground, sobbing, screaming, reaching for Cedric, and then Hermione understood.

"What's wrong with her?" asked Ron.

"He's dead, Ron," said Hermione. Ron's eyes grew wide. "Harry? Harry's de-"

"No, no Cedric..." The crowd in stands had begun to flood the field all moving towards the cluster of people. "Harry?" called Ron. "Harry? Professor, is Harry....?"

"Ron, take Hermione out of here...Harry's alive." The crowd around them had begun to scream "Dead? He's dead?" and Hermione, still clutching Ron's hand, had gone very white, and had tears streaming down her face. She was looking at Cedric, then looking at Cho, was still sobbing on the ground, then looking at Ron, and she was silently crying.

"Go your common room, Ron," instructed Dumbledore. Now it was Ron's turn to lead Hermione, who was watching Harry and Cho, back the common room. He put his arm around her, and whispered "Come on, let's go. We'll see Harry in a bit." They climbed the stairs, and sat in front of the fire in the common room, Hermione with her legs curled to her chest and her head on her knees, her face white and wet with tears, but no longer crying, and Ron, his face white as well, with his arm still about her shoulders. They fell asleep in front of the fire in this same postion, too shocked, frightened, and tired to do anything else.

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