Harry knew it, Albus Dumbledore knew it, pretty much everyone knew it. Cedric Diggory could have been so much more.

As you probably noticed, there were a lot of cruel deaths across Harry’s adventures, but Cedric Diggory’s fate may just be one of the series’ biggest tragedies.

Cedric was introduced in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, so we really only had two books to get to know this dashing Hufflepuff student before he was killed by Wormtail and Lord Voldemort. But it would be unfair to only remember Cedric for his shocking death scene, when he made so much more impact than that.

Not just a pretty face

Cedric and Cho at the Yule Ball

At first this perfect, handsome character seemed like he had been invented as a symbol of Harry’s teenage insecurities. After all, he was older, popular, good at Quidditch and, most importantly, the object of affection for Harry’s first crush, Cho Chang. And indeed, for a time, Cedric did represent this unattainable figure for Harry, particularly when they were both picked for the Hogwarts’ Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Harry, illegitimately chosen to represent Hogwarts way before he was ready, found himself unfairly compared to the much more accomplished Cedric – who was Hufflepuff’s Quidditch team captain, a prefect and a more experienced wizard. For an awkward teenage boy still finding his feet, going up against the likes of Cedric Diggory would be an absolute nightmare.

Remember that scene in Goblet of Fire where Cedric even gave Harry 'wand envy'?

‘Ah, now, this is one of mine, isn’t it?’ said Mr Ollivander, with much more enthusiasm, as Cedric handed over his wand. ‘Yes, I remember it well. Containing a single hair from the tail of a particularly fine male unicorn ... must have been seventeen hands; nearly gored me with his horn after I plucked his tail. Twelve and a quarter inches ... ash ... pleasantly springy. It’s in fine condition ... you treat it regularly?’
‘Polished it last night,’ said Cedric, grinning.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

But that was just school rivalry. Before long, perfect Cedric transformed from a Hogwarts pretty boy to a much more nuanced character with huge potential. Even if he was Cho Chang’s boyfriend.

Champions together

Cedric stands in the maze prepared to take on the horrors that lie within.

Imagine being gifted with the huge honour of representing Hogwarts in the incredibly prestigious Triwizard Tournament that happens almost never, and then having that famous fourth-year kid who evaded Lord Voldemort nick your thunder. Cedric could have taken a completely different stance when Harry was picked as the second Hogwarts champion, regardless of the fact the situation wasn’t Harry’s fault. But he was graceful about it.

When Harry started garnering unwanted press attention from Rita Skeeter, who pretty much disregarded Cedric’s involvement in the Tournament, it could’ve been so easy for Cedric to join the anti-Harry brigade that quickly formed across Hogwarts. He could’ve even adorned himself in ‘Support Cedric Diggory/Potter Stinks’ badges. Even Cedric’s dad, Amos Diggory, stirred rivalry between the pair from the moment he first met Harry, ribbing him on his son beating him at a Quidditch match. Cedric’s embarrassed reaction, however, made us realise that the lad had humility.

Despite everyone else going against Harry, Cedric chose to be his ally, and the two tackled the tournament together. Despite snide remarks from Amos Diggory, or the Cho Chang-shaped cloud hanging over them, Cedric and Harry formed a kind of kinship.

By the time the boys made it to the third and final task, the pair had helped each other out in different ways on the first two – with Harry warning Cedric about dragons and Cedric’s cryptic clue on how to work out Harry’s egg. When the third task loomed, the pair had each other’s backs, which was helpful considering they were stepping into a giant, lonely maze, stuffed with obstacles, magical creatures and deadly traps.

A boy who was good, and kind, and brave

The students mourn Cedric Diggory's death in the Great Hall

‘Both of us,’ Harry said.
‘We’ll take it at the same time. It’s still a Hogwarts victory. We’ll tie for it.’
Cedric stared at Harry. He unfolded his arms. ‘You – you sure?’

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

It was a twist of extremely cruel fate that for befriending Harry rather than going against him, Cedric lost his life. Even worse, it was through a combination of Cedric’s nobility and Harry’s fairness that led the pair to the trap where he died.

Throughout their short time knowing each other, Harry and Cedric just seemed to keep getting mixed up in each other’s lives. Whether it was on the Quidditch pitch, liking the same girl or being Hogwarts champions together, it must have felt to Harry like Cedric Diggory was around every corner. In the case of their final task inside the maze, he quite literally was.

After the revelation that the Triwizard Cup was a Portkey, the bewildered pair found themselves in a graveyard. Thinking this was part of the task, Cedric didn’t even have time to work out what was happening before a voice muttered, ‘Kill the spare,’ and a flash of green light wiped him out forever. Everything about the moment cuts deep, from the horrendous randomness of it to the language of calling Cedric a ‘spare’.

Cedric and Amos before the final Triwizard Challenge.

Cedric’s death had a profound effect on Harry. Despite losing his parents as a baby, this was the first proper time someone he truly ‘knew’ died in front of him, as an indirect result of a decision he made. This was the death that gave Harry the ability to see Thestrals, and the death that haunted his dreams for a time afterwards. The fact it happened to such a noble and just person who wouldn’t take that cup, thus ensuring he would get caught in the crossfire through his own decency, made it even worse.

Dumbledore articulated the injustice of it all the best. In his speech at Cedric’s memorial he chose to tell Hogwarts the truth about Cedric’s murder, rather than letting people assume any other reason for his death, which would have been an ‘insult to his memory’. But it was the closing part that really, really hurt, and perfectly described just what a decent person Cedric was – not better than Harry, but more like an equal.

‘Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right, and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.’

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

We certainly do.

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