A Harmless Duel…?

Harry kept his head firmly down the next few days. He knew Professor McGonagall wanted to speak to him, and he had taken to all but running out of Transfiguration lessons as soon as they were dismissed. After their initial shock, Harry’s fellow Gryffindors had rallied round him, offering their support and taking every chance to hex Zacharias Smith, shooting jelly-leg jinxes, stinging hexes, and Harry’s personal favourite, wart charms at him. Harry felt grateful that his friends and associates were being so supportive, although he dreaded to think what might happen if any of their relatives were killed; would they still continue so support him so fervently?

“Let us know if anyone gives you any trouble, Harry,” said Dean cheerfully. “I’m itching to try out that Bat-Bogey hex Ginny taught me.”

“Yeah,” Seamus agreed brightly. “If Zacharias Smith does as much as look at you, we’ll sort him out. I doubt we’d even get detention; McGonagall hates him too.”

Harry tried to smile, but for some reason most of his brain was focussing on what Dean had just said. So, Ginny had taught him her Bat-Bogey hex, had she? Harry had noticed that Dean and Ginny were spending quite a lot of time together in the common room, and Harry had not missed the adoring looks Dean kept giving her. He wasn’t surprised at that; Ginny had always been a popular girl with the boys - with her looks, wit and Quidditch skills, who wouldn’t like her? What he was surprised at was the fact that this bothered him, and he wasn’t exactly sure why. It was probably just because he felt protective of her; he wanted to make sure she wouldn’t get hurt. Yes, that was it, he told himself firmly, although he couldn’t get rid of the nagging fact that he knew Dean was a nice guy, he knew Dean wouldn’t hurt Ginny - he knew she wouldn’t need to be protected from him. Trying to push those thoughts from his mind, Harry followed the other two into the common room.

“Hey, Ginny!” said Dean happily as he caught sight of her. “Want a butterbeer?”

“Sure,” she smiled up at him, dumping her school bag on one of the tables. She pulled her hair out from its ponytail and shook her head gently, letting her long red locks tumble over her shoulders. Harry sucked in his breath quickly. When had she gotten so pretty? Why hadn’t he noticed before? And why was he suddenly noticing now? He frowned and turned away, not wanting to watch the two flirting any more. Hermione sidled up to him, her eyebrows raised slightly and a faint smile on her lips.

“What are you looking so angry about, Harry?”

“Nothing,” Harry said shortly. “Just…not looking forward to seeing Snape next lesson, that’s all.”

“Okay,” Hermione replied, still smirking annoyingly. “Dean looks like he’s having fun, doesn’t he? I think he really likes Ginny”, she continued when Harry didn’t reply. “I’m not sure how much she likes him, though,” she finished, looking intently at Harry.

“Right. Well…we better get going now…Snape will kill me if I’m late,” Harry said hurriedly, snatching up his bag and walking out of the common room. Hermione and Ron caught him up a few minutes later.

“What’s the big deal, Harry?” panted Ron. “It’s only Defence Against the Dark Arts, its not Quidditch!”

“I should think it’s of even more importance than Quidditch, Ron! Harry’s not going to defeat V-V-Voldemort by catching the snitch, is he? He’s going to need all the Defence lessons there are!” snapped Hermione.

“My thoughts exactly, Miss Granger.”

The three turned quickly to see Professor McGonagall standing behind them, her arms folded. “Potter, can I have a word?”

“Erm…I’ve got a lesson, Professor,” he said desperately, showing her his books.

“It wont take long. You cannot avoid me forever, Potter.”

“We’ll see you there, Harry,” said Hermione, tugging on Ron’s sleeve and pulling him away.When they had gone Professor McGonagall surveyed Harry critically. “Well?”

“Er…well what, Professor?”

“Why did you miss a whole day’s worth of lessons the other day, Potter?”

“I…er…I didn’t feel well,” said Harry quickly, looking at the floor.

“Then why didn’t you go to the hospital wing?”

“Erm…I…I didn’t think it was that bad, Professor.”

“But it was bad enough to miss all of your classes?”

“Er…yeah,” Harry managed.

McGonagall pursed her lips. “Potter, I understand that this is probably not the easiest time for you but, Chosen One or not,” - she paused and Harry winced - “I’m afraid your classes are still compulsory.”

Harry nodded his head, still not meeting her eye. “Yeah, I know Professor. It won’t happen again.”

“I should hope not. But Potter…”, she hesitated suddenly and studied him. “I also would like you to know that you are not alone in this. I’m aware that this must be a very heavy burden, and if you are troubled by anything, or need someone…older…to talk to…well, we are here. You could be an exceptional wizard if you would only apply yourself a bit more. Keep your chin up, though, Potter. I, for one, have faith in you.”

Harry looked back up at her in surprise, and then smiled faintly. “Thanks, Professor.”

“Yes. Well…off you go to class now. And try not to get into trouble,” Professor McGonagall said, although not severely, as she turned in the opposite direction and walked down the corridor. Harry turned too, and hurried down the hall to the classroom, hoping he wasn’t too late. He paused outside, trying to see if he could hear Snape’s voice, before pushing it open gingerly and stepping inside. The class had clearly started, with Snape standing in front of his desk, his mouth slightly open as if he had suddenly stopped in the middle of speaking. His mouth twisted into a sneer as he saw Harry.

“Late again, Mr Potter. Ten points from Gryffindor.”

Harry said nothing and walked towards the nearest spare seat, which was next to Neville, and opposite Ron and Hermione. Ron caught his eye and pulled a face in Snape’s direction.

“Now that you have decided to grace us with your presence, Potter, perhaps I can continue with what I was saying,” Snape sneered.

Harry tried to stare blankly at him, not willing to rise to the bait.

“Now, I think it’s important to find out what level this class is on with regards to duelling. How would you all fare if you were forced to duel with a follower of the Dark Lord? Let’s have two volunteers to demonstrate…Draco? Would you be so kind?”

Malfoy smirked and sauntered casually up to the front of the class, spinning his wand between his fingers. Snape nodded at him, before turning back to the rest of the class. “And who else? No volunteers? Well then, Draco…let’s see how you fare against…”

Harry closed his eyes, knowing what was coming.

“…The Chosen One,” Snape finished silkily.

Harry remained seated, trying to ignore the rest of the class turning in their seats to look at him.

“Potter,” Snape spat. “I’ve asked you to come to the front of the class.”

Harry tried to seem surprised. “Really, Professor? I don’t remember hearing my name.”

Snape’s eyes flashed. “You knew exactly whom I was referring to…it was probably you yourself who coined that ridiculous name in the first place.”

Harry stood up suddenly, his chair scraping loudly against the floor. He knew Snape and Malfoy weren’t aware of how far he’d progressed at duelling, thanks to his intense training over the summer, and he was looking forward in showing them both.

“Harry, don’t do anything stupid, okay? Stay calm!” Hermione whispered anxiously as he walked past, but he ignored her, stopping opposite Malfoy and drawing his wand.

Snape nodded his approval mockingly. “Bow,” he commanded gently.

Malfoy and Harry inclined their heads about a half an inch.

“The object of this duel is to disarm…minor jinxes may be used, but nothing that will cause serious damage. Begin.”

Malfoy and Harry circled each other, their eyes narrowed. The class was silent, staring at the two of them, transfixed. With the exception of Ron and Hermione, no-one was aware of just how good Harry was, and to them the two boys seemed fairly well matched; Malfoy was also known to be good at duelling.

“Expelliarmus!” Malfoy shouted, but Harry dodged it easily, keeping his own wand fixed on his opponent.

“Densaugeo!” Harry bellowed, using the same jinx that Malfoy used on Hermione a few years previously. Malfoy dodged, but not fast enough, and the jinx hit him right in his face.

“Nice one Harry!” Ron laughed, as Malfoy’s front teeth began to grow alarmingly fast.

Snape pointed his wand at Malfoy and muttered something, and Malfoy’s teeth quickly shrank back to their usual size. Harry shook his head as Snape’s involvement as he easily dodged the Jelly-Legs jinx Malfoy shot at him, shooting a disarming jinx back in return. Malfoy ducked out of the way, and quickly shot a stinging hex at Harry. Harry brought up his shield at once, causing the jinx to rebound onto Malfoy. Malfoy hissed in pain, and Harry took the opportunity to disarm him, his wand sailing into Harry’s outstretched hand. A cheer went up from the Gryffindors, and the rest of the class - apart from the Slytherins - clapped appreciatively. Harry smiled in spite of himself and turned towards his chair, dropping Malfoy’s wand onto Snape’s desk.

“Harry!” Neville suddenly shouted, and Harry spun around in time to see Malfoy snatch up his wand and point it at him, a sneer on his face.


“Petrificus Totalus!” Harry bellowed, and before the rest of the curse had left Malfoy’s mouth he was flat on his back, stiff as a board. There was a loud silence, until -

“Another 10 points from Gryffindor, Potter,” Snape said quietly, flicking his wand at Malfoy and disabling the body-bind charm. “I asked you to disarm your opponent, not to fire another jinx at them once you have done so.”

Harry opened his mouth to protest at the utter unfairness of this, but Hermione got there first.

“Professor, Harry only used that spell in self-defensive! From the sound of things, Malfoy was about to use an unforgivable, and that - “

“A further 10 points from Gryffindor, Miss Granger. Despite being taught by myself for over 5 years, you have still failed to understand that I do not accept talking out of turn in my classes.”

Hermione turned pink, but was about to open her mouth again until Harry shot her a warning look.

“Don’t, he’ll only take more points,” he muttered, sitting down heavily in his seat. Malfoy sank back at his desk too, looking furious but still amused at Snape’s point taking.

“Nice work, Harry! Didn’t take long for you to finish him off, did it?” Neville whispered excitedly. Harry couldn’t help smiling at Neville’s enthusiasm.

“Ah, Potter, you look very pleased with yourself. How similar to your father you are. If my memory is right, he seemed to be unable to fight a duel fairly, too.”

Harry gritted his teeth, but held his temper. He’d been hearing Snape’s taunts about his father for years now.

“Yes, it is extraordinary how similar you are. Your father seemed to think that a tiny amount of sporting talent was a just excuse for his insufferable arrogance, and now, it seems, so do you.”

Harry heard some of the other students gasp slightly at this unacceptable insult, and he felt his hands clench into fists, and he willed himself to think of something else. He thought of hitting Snape around the head with a bludger bat, but still was unable to fully tune out his words.

“It seems that it’s not just in appearance that you are identical to your father, Potter. He was nothing but a conceited, pathetic thug…and so are you.”

Harry had had enough. He stood up quickly, his chair falling to the floor with a clatter.

“Shut up,” he said quietly, white pricks of rage obscuring his vision.

What did you say to me, Potter?” Snape hissed dangerously.

“YOU SHUT UP ABOUT MY DAD! IT‘S YOU WHO IS THE PATHETIC ONE! Listen to yourself - you’re so twisted and bitter you can’t even let go of the resentment you had for a man who’s been dead for 15 years!”

The class was utterly silent; even Malfoy looked wary. Snape’s eyes glittered.

“Oh no, Potter. It wasn’t resentment I harboured for your father. It was hatred.” He spat the word, leaning forward towards Harry.

“Yeah, well I’m sure the feeling was mutual,” Harry retorted, glowering at Snape and breathing heavily. There was a pause while they both glared at each other, and then Snape leant back against his desk.

“Well Potter, seeing as you are so anxious to prove yourself…I’m sure you’re wont object to one more duel.”

“Fine,” Harry spat. “Against who?”

Snape raised an eyebrow mockingly. “Against me.”

The whisper ran though the class, and Harry heard Seamus mutter “He’s mad!”.

Harry was confident, but he wasn’t stupid. He knew that however good he was at duelling, it was unlikely that he’s be able to beat Snape; he had much more age and experience on his side. But Harry would be damned if he would back down. If he’d managed to duel with Death Eaters then he could manage a respectable enough performance against Snape.

“Fine,” he said shortly, walking stiffly to the front of the class, shrugging off Hermione’s arm.

“Harry, don’t be so stupid! This is what he wants, he wants - “

She was silenced at the look on his face and sat back, darting a worried glance at Ron, who was staring at Harry and Snape with his mouth slightly open.

Harry took his place opposite Snape, taking deep breaths and trying to calm himself down. He knew that he was going to need to keep his shield up at most times whilst continuingly shooting jinxes, and for that he needed to use wandless magic; something he could only do when concentrating hard. Snape inclined his head in a mocking bow, before quickly shooting a blasting hex at Harry.

“Protego!” Harry shouted quickly, concentrating hard and bringing up a strong shield, deflecting the jinx back to Snape, who dodged it.

“Furnunculus!” he added quickly, shooting the boil inducing hex at Snape, who raised his own shield, causing Harry to duck this time.

“Expelliarmus!” Snape spat, swiftly shooting the disarming spell at Harry, who in his surprise let his shield falter. He ducked quickly, forcing himself to ignore Snape’s taunts.

“Yes, not so easy when you fight fair, is it Potter? Your father always avoided fair fights - he was such a coward that he would never fight unless it was four to one. Still, he got his comeuppance, didn’t he?” Snape sneered.

Harry saw red. “Diffindo!” he bellowed, forcing Snape to drop to the ground to avoid the severing curse. He got up quickly, his eyes glittering malevolently.

“You dare use a cutting curse against me, Potter? Such arrogance…your father would be proud.”

Harry knew Snape was trying to provoke him into losing his concentration, but it was having the opposite effect; Harry was focussed entirely on the duel. Snape suddenly seemed to go into a rage, shooting spell after spell at Harry, who was forced to keep his shield up, and was unable to shoot his own jinx. Harry caught a glimpse of Blaise Zabini running out of the class, but ignored him. He knew what he had to. Dropping his shield, Harry quickly ducked Snape’s jinx and pointed his wand at him.

“Impedimenta!” he bellowed, but Snape deflected the curse back at Harry.

Summoning all his power, Harry shot a stinging hex at Snape from his wand while simultaneously bringing his left arm up across his body and bringing up his shield.

He heard the class gasp at his use of wandless magic, and a flicker of surprise crossed Snape’s face, before it was replaced with the usual sneer.

“Very good, Potter,” he said, lazily deflecting Harry’s hex. “Too bad you didn’t bother to learn this last year - perhaps then you might have been able to save your precious dog.”

Rage filled Harry instantly; how dare Snape even speak about Sirius?

“DON’T YOU DARE TALK ABOUT SIRIUS!” he shouted, his throat tearing. “DON’T YOU DARE!”. He shot a stunning spell at Snape, quickly following it up with two more. “Stupefy! Stupefy!“

Snape’s shield deflected the first two but such was the strength of Harry’s anger that the third jinx passed straight through, knocking Snape off his feet and slamming him hard against the wall. He slid down slowly, crumpling at the bottom, unconscious.

The room filled with a loud silence, punctured only by Harry’s ragged breathing.

“…mate…” he heard Ron manage weakly.

“Oh Harry, you attacked a teacher!” came Hermione’s appalled whisper.

“You’re in huge trouble now, Potter! Even the Chosen One will have to expelled for this!” gloated Malfoy.

Harry said nothing, still too angry, and trying to calm his breathing. The classroom door burst open suddenly and Zabini ran back in, closely followed by Professor Dumbledore. He paused in the doorway, taking in the unconscious Snape on the floor and Harry standing opposite him, his wand still raised and his face flushed and sweaty.

Dumbledore hurried over to Snape and muttered “Enervate,” waving his wand. The class pressed forward, eager for a better view.

Snape sat up slowly, rubbing the back of his head where it had hit the wall.

“Severus, are you hurt?”

“No,” Snape said, getting to his feet, his eyes darkening as they rested on Harry.

“Harry, are you hurt?” Dumbledore continued, but before Harry could reply Snape spoke again.

“Headmaster, are you aware of the fact that it was Potter himself who knocked me unconscious, whilst we were attempting a harmless duel? He did the same thing to Mr Malfoy when they duelled; after successfully disarming him he found it necessary to perform a full body-bind on him.”

“Yes, thank you Severus. I was informed by Mr Zabini of what was going on. Are you quite certain you don’t need to go to the hospital wing?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” Snape snapped. “Headmaster, I’m sure you are aware that attacking a teacher is not only exceedingly dangerous, but also shows a complete disregard for authority. I’m sure I’m right in saying that such actions usually result in immediate expulsion.”

“I am quite aware of the punishment system at Hogwarts, Severus,” Dumbledore said sharply.

“Then surely you will -”

“Yes Severus, I will deal with Harry in the appropriate way. If you are sure you are not hurt then please continue the lesson.”

Dumbledore turned to look at Harry, his face stern and his eyes lacking their usual twinkle.

“Follow me, Harry,” he said gravely, turning and walking briskly out of the classroom. Harry turned with his heart sinking, desperately trying to ignore the horrified looks of his classmates, and followed Dumbledore out of the class.


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