Rating/Warnings: PG; dark imagery
Characters/Pairing: Cedric Diggory
Summary: A typical chase nightmare takes on a creepier than normal undertone when an unknown creature threatens Cedric with his inevitable death.
Word Count: 749
The stench was unbearable. Thick, rancid waves of it rolled into Cedric as he hurtled blindly through a dark maze, unsure of what he was looking for, or even what he was doing there. All he knew was that something had gone wrong, and something was out to get him. He fumbled for his wand, cursing under his breath as he tripped over something unseen, and once he righted himself, he hurried to put more distance between himself and his invisible stalker.
"Lumos,!" he gasped, and light appeared at the tip of his wand as he held it in front of him. To his horror, the bright light immediately dimmed, as if the darkness was pressing around him, or shielding it somehow. He slowed with uncertainty, and nervously looked around, listening carefully to the growls behind him to find out how close they were, and whether or not he even stood a chance of getting out alive. The moment he did, an excited snarl ripped through the gloom, raising the hair on the back of his neck; it was right beside him. Clearly on the other side of a wall, but still, if they were thin enough...
Cedric blinked, suddenly realizing that he didn't even know what the walls of the bloody maze were made of, and he stepped closer to it, reaching out tentatively to place his hand against... what felt like some kind of hedge. He frowned; he was in a topiary maze?
"OUCH!" he cried out then, pulling his hand back quickly and staring down at his fingers. Blood glistened darkly in the faint light from his wand, and he shuddered. It must be a briar maze or something, because thorns had ripped his thumb and forefinger open a bit. Another chill went through him at the sounds of hungry growling coming from the creature (whatever it was) chasing him, and with a shudder, Cedric quickly moved away down the maze. It was even more important now that he get out.
Ten minutes later, though, and Cedric was still no closer to getting out - what was worse, the creature behind him had almost caught up, and he could hear it barreling after him just around the last corner he'd turned. It was no use. Wherever he was, whatever he was trying to find, he had failed. He was going to die. The thought terrified Cedric, but even as terror flooded into him, he slowed, doubling over with his hands on his knees to catch his breath. He stopped right there in the middle of the path, and resolved to himself that, if he was going to die, at least he would go down fighting. He owed that much to himself, at least.
So, as the beast turned the corner and let out a rolling bass growl of excitement, Cedric pushed himself up by sheer force of will and turned to face it, heart pounding, breathing heavily, and sweating from exertion. What he saw was... odd, to say the least. Not what he had expected. The beast was humanoid - very tall, and wearing large, billowing hooded robes that obscured the thing's shape and features. All he could see were two gleaming red eyes in the darkness.
"Who-" Swallowing, Cedric tried again, his voice less of a squeak this time. "Who are you? What do you want with me?"
An inhuman voice, deep and cold, rolled out from the creature as it spoke with a chilling finality. "Death comes for you, wizard. I come to claim you for my own, within the year." The creature threw it's head back and let out a throaty, howling laugh, it's voice rising to a screaming pitch before it bellowed out, "You shall not escape me!"
Without warning, it lunged for Cedric, and all he saw as he screamed and brought his wand up to bear was the red gleaming eyes, and the flash of fangs coming for his face before he landed with a thump on his back. He struggled for a moment, finally hearing his father's voice shouting his name.
"Cedric - CEDRIC, boy, wake up, it's just a dream!"
At that, Cedric's struggles subsided. As he opened his eyes, breathing heavily, he stared up at his father, and then laughed weakly, embarrassed.
"I'm okay," he whispered, trying to reassure his father as he untangled himself from the heavy blankets, looking out at the dim light outside his bedroom window. "So, um... Quidditch World Cup today. I guess now's as good a time as any to get up, huh?"