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When Harry and Cedric were transported to the graveyard by the portkey, they saw Wormtail coming to them carrying something. Harry's forehead starting aching wildly so he was unable to duel but Cedric was up and could have fought. But it seems from the passage that it was a complete surrender.

From far away, above his head, he heard a high, cold voice say, "Kill the spare."

A swishing noise and a second voice, which screeched the words to the night: "Avada Kedavra!"

A blast of green light blazed through Harry's eyelids, and he heard something heavy fall to the ground beside him; the pain in his scar reached such a pitch that he retched, and then it diminished; terrified of what he was about to see, he opened his stinging eyes.

Cedric was lying spread-eagled on the ground beside him. He was dead.

My question is, Cedric didn't know that there was Voldemort in the rags Wormtail was carrying. He was just attacked by a stranger and he should have fought back. But he didn't. I know he was still a student and Wormtail was a fully grown wizard but few minutes later his junior in school was dueling with the most feared dark wizard. Cedric wasn't a coward for sure. So why didn't he duel?

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    How do you go about "fighting back" once hit by an unblockable Killing Curse? – The Dark Lord Aug 5 '17 at 18:51
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    Wormtail didn't start a formal duel. What was Cedric supposed to do? :P Seriously, though - being great at duelling doesn't necessarily translate to being able to defend yourself in a fight. Especially not the first time, after being unexpectedly transported by a port-key into an abandoned graveyard, after an exhausting and potentially deadly competition, with plenty of distractions and an enemy that shoots to kill without provocation. Cedric is not a killer. Wormtail is. – Luaan Aug 5 '17 at 19:53
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It happened too fast for Cedric or Harry to react. They didn't know what they were doing. As your quote suggests, it happens in a blink; they didn't know that something that drastic was going to happen so fast. That said, they were ready, supposedly for a fight.

"I dunno," said Cedric. He sounded slightly nervous. "Wands out, d'you reckon?"

"Yeah," said Harry, glad that Cedric had made the suggestion rather than him. They pulled out their wands. Harry kept looking around him. He had, yet again, the strange feeling that they were being watched.

"Someone's coming," he said suddenly.

Then they lowered their guard a bit when there wasn't an immediate attack:

Harry lowered his wand slightly and glanced sideways at Cedric. Cedric shot him a quizzical look. They both turned back to watch the approaching figure.

Furthermore, Harry was rendered helpless, which would've distracted Cedric.

And then, without warning, Harry's scar exploded with pain. It was agony such as he had never felt in all his life; his wand slipped from his fingers as he put his hands over his face; his knees buckled; he was on the ground and he could see nothing at all; his head was about to split open.

You have to remember there is also nothing that can be done about The Killing Curse. Yes, he should've engaged before then but he's just a seventeen year-old and doesn't know that someone with murderous intent is walking up on them until it is too late.

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    In the book, only Harry can do this because of the Twin Cores of the two wands they used, as explained in DH – Wraith Leader Aug 5 '17 at 13:36
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    I think there's also something about innocence here. Cedric's death is designed to show "this just got serious kids!" Students like Cedric Diggory are not mentally ready to fight back against evil, murderous and skilled adults. After this moment, Harry takes it upon himself to help them to be ready. – ThruGog Aug 5 '17 at 14:02
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    @DheerajKumar As the Dumbledore-Voldemort duel at the end of OotP (chapter 36) showed, a skilled wizard can block the killing curse with physical objects - or simply avoid it by dodging. Voldemort raised his wand and another jet of green light streaked at Dumbledore, who turned and was gone in a whirling of his cloak. ... Another jet of green light flew from behind the silver shield. This time it was the one-armed centaur, galloping in front of Dumbledore, that took the blast – Bob Aug 5 '17 at 16:01
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    Minor detail : Cedric is not a fourth year. At that point he must be finishing his 6th or 7th year (it's been a while since I read the book, so I don't remember exactly). – Arnaud D. Aug 5 '17 at 16:02
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    @WraithLeader I find hard to imagine that nobody wanted Voldemort dead enough to be able to pull off an Avada on him. Furthermore, since Avada is distributed like free cookies by the Death Eaters, it doesn't seem it is specially hard to focus the intent needed for the spell to work. Also, Snape used Avada to kill Dumbledore - I don't think he would qualify as having a desperate need to see Dumbledore dead. – T. Sar Aug 5 '17 at 16:23

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