Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling, and I do not own Harry Potter.

Note: The following slightly silly sketch takes place in one of those alternate universes where Harry challenges Lord Voldemort to a 'one on one duel', to get him out in the open; the characters immediately visible at the start are Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort facing off against one another, wands out, on a beach. This piece is a one-shot and is rated 'T'.

The crack of the sniper rifle shot arrived after the bullet itself had already unerringly crossed the distance to strike at Lord Voldemort's head – only to stop short and fall to the sand a couple of inches from its target.

"Nice try, Potter." Lord Voldemort said. "Sufficiently nice that I might even permit whichever of your friends it is who fired that shot to live, although I may not be so merciful if you've got more than one of them hiding behind the dunes because you genuinely didn't think the first one would succeed."

"No." Harry Potter sagged. "There was just the one of them. Ginny. She's been practising for weeks. She really wanted to be the one to do it if a chance arose – to settle scores over the diary."

"Women utterly devoted to oneself are reliable." Lord Voldemort nodded, approvingly. "Not always unable to avoid causing collateral damage – asking Bellatrix to do anything is rather like using a battleship to blow in a barn-door – but their commitment and willingness to go to any lengths and to suffer any discomfort to get a job done is commendable."

The confrontation was taking place on a beach somewhere on the east coast of England, in an autumn morning in 1997. The wind was chill, the local topography (apart from the local sand dunes) was mostly flat, and out on the surface of the grey North Sea, under lowering skies, here and there the occasional speck which might be a boat or some other vessel was visible.

Another bullet halted just short of Voldemort and dropped to the sand of the beach a moment before being followed by the crack of the shot.

"Would you mind signalling her to cut it out, Potter?" Voldemort said, in irritation. "Once was a good idea; a second attempt to try and see if there was some factor in play which was no longer in operation is understandable; but a third will be inexcusable. The Second World War was raging whilst I attended Hogwarts. I am perfectly well acquainted with muggle firearms and their possibilities, and I have measures in place to deal with them – have done for decades, actually. I know what a glider-bomb, a 'swimming' tank, and a u-boat are for that matter, along with vengeance weapons, radar, various aircraft guidance systems, merchant escort carriers, and rationing. And I have probably forgotten more about blitz, blitzkrieg, and sundry generals than a Hogwarts student is likely to encounter in five whole years of what is laughably referred to as 'muggle studies'. There was even a short embarrassing period in my youth when I idolized President Roosevelt, as the epitome of ruthless double-dealing and political acumen that a politician ought to be, although Churchill shaded him when it came to practicalities of war and making do with limited resources."

Harry Potter sighed and sent a patronus skittering off to the dunes with a message for Ginny, and Lord Voldemort watched it go. The surf swashed on the shore, and a salt wind blew as they stood listening for a few moments, and then Harry spoke:

"If she does anything now, it's nothing I've planned, and I've done my best to indicate you're bullet-proof."

"Good." Lord Voldemort nodded. "It is possible to prepare a piece of metal to bypass most standard enchantments, of course, but it requires at least a square foot of surface area, minimum, to inscribe the necessary accompanying runes into. Now: perhaps we shall discuss the surrender of your other friends, Potter, who are holed up in a heavily-warded village-hall a couple of miles from here."

"No." said Harry. "I was prepared to gamble my own life, and Ginny volunteered, coming out here to try to stop you, but in there they are all safe. No spell in your arsenal is going to be able to touch them in there."

"I don't need a spell, Potter. All I need are high explosives."

"What?" Harry frowned.

"Do you see that out there?" Lord Voldemort gestured out to sea.

There seemed to be a ship of some description out there in the direction which Lord Voldemort indicated, Harry noticed.

"What is it?" Harry frowned. "A fishing vessel with half a dozen of your most loyal Death Eaters in? What are they going to do from out there?"

"It's a bit further away and bigger than you seem to think – it's a battleship, Potter. That is to say it is an armoured warship with sixteen-inch naval guns, which I took the liberty of borrowing from the American government a couple of months ago without their permission – they've been panicking and trying to cover up that they lost it, whilst desperately looking for it, but that's by the by. What is rather more pertinent is that it has been refitted and reactivated to suit my needs and Bellatrix is on board it right now, waiting for my instructions – or to attack anyway, if she gets no word from me before a certain deadline is reached. And like I said, Potter, if a piece of metal – such as a large calibre naval shell – is big enough it can carry a considerable amount of shield-piercing magic…"

Author Notes:

The title derives from a saying which amounts to 'never bring a knife to a gunfight'.

The piece is loosely inspired by all those Harry Potter fanfictions where the protagonist cuts a swathe of death through anyone getting in their way with the assistance of ranged projectile weapons.

The battleship which Lord Voldemort happens to have 'borrowed' is probably one of the Iowa class ships, if it is assumed that the American navy in this universe largely resembles that of the real world.

As I said in the opening notes, this piece is a one-shot.


To respond to the early reviewer who asked about 'micro-engraving', since at the start of the twentieth century there were several engravers competing to engrave 'The Lord's Prayer' on the heads of increasingly small pins, for the purposes of this story please assume that Lord Voldemort is aware of 'micro-engraving' (and that a regular bullet is still unsuitable in terms of insufficient surface area for use.)