Chapter 27: The Demonstrations Begin
"Class, today we are exceptionally fortunate." Harry said, addressing the two thousand students that had gathered for his special dueling demonstration. "These thirteen fine wizards have come a very long way to meet you, and are anxious to help me show you all how proper wizards fight."
Albus Dumbledore noted that Harry had used the term 'proper' when describing his group, but didn't have time to ask any questions before Harry moved on.
"We've been covering the three established forms of sanctioned dueling in the last few classes." Harry said. Albus was amazed at how attentive the students were, "Each of your classes got to see an exhibition of these forms as we began the unit, but that was mostly for show." Harry turned to eye the wizards with his practiced eye. "Today's duels will be different. There is no set up, pre-planned outcome. The wizards before you will give it everything they've got to win, and Hermione, Colonel Lupin, and I will give them just as much. You will see dueling today; dueling the likes of which you may never see again."
Hermione stepped in. Albus began to see that the two demons were a team in every sense of the word. They were a perfect pair, even more than Fred and George Weasley. "Remember as we go into this, that these are some of the finest wizards and witches on the planet. Out of the thirteen, six of them are certified master duelists, and three of those six are at least eighth level masters."
The students noticeably straightened up. Since none of the assembled students were actual wizards, they didn't attach any prestige to any of the faces, though they did recognize Dumbledore from his chocolate frog cards. If, however, they were dueling masters, then they deserved more attention.
"Severus Snape," Harry took over, "the greasy one next to the old man, is a level-eight master of formal dueling. Even more impressive, he attained that rank by age thirty-three. He might have qualified for the level-nine test, but he was discovered as a Death Eater, and banned from competition." Harry decided it was time to prod the angry man a little. "Lets hope that all those years of beating up on defenseless children and muggles haven't dulled his skills with a wand, for today he will face off with our very own level-eight duelist, Colonel Remus J. Lupin. As most of you already know, Remus has a nearly perfect dueling record, losing only two of his last forty-six bouts." Harry didn't say that the two bouts that he had lost were the two bouts that he had taken on the Shadow demons before their level-eight tests. He also didn't mention that Remus had been completely decimated by the two ultra-powerful creatures.
Severus Snape was predictably angered by the prod about his being a death eater, and favored the gathered students with his best sneer, right down his nose at them. He was mildly surprised that the only look he got back was one of eagerness.
Harry noticed the look that Snape was giving, but decided not to comment. The students of his school were used to far more intimidating things than an angry grease-ball. "Those of you who have reached the fifth-skill level will recognize the name of the author of your text book." Harry said, indicating the fifth year level and above. Unlike other magical schools, Harry's students were placed in regard to skill rather than age, and were unable to move forward until they reached a higher skill level. "The man standing on his wooden leg is Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody, the author of 'Dirty Tricks for Dealing with Dark Wizards,' and a master of free-form dueling to the eighth level. Just to say that he is a level-eight master isn't enough, however. During his level-nine test, Moody beat his opponent after losing his wand. Under normal circumstances, this would be good enough, but since Moody was an active auror at the time, it was not acceptable for him to lose his wand at all. He was denied the level-nine mastery on those grounds." Harry couldn't resist shooting a triumphant look at the grizzled old auror. "I am going to honor his true mastery here, and treat him as a level-nine master. That means that there are only two people in this school who are a match for him. Since I'm one of them, I will duel him myself."
Moody was surprised that a few students actually clapped for him. Harry was using his book as a textbook for fifth-years? Moody had written that book as an advanced aurors course in dueling. Why was Harry teaching children the things he'd written?
Harry knew it was time to throw Moody off balance. "Moody is an excellent duelist, but he's probably not a match for my raw power. To compensate for my advantage, and to keep things as fair as possible, I will not be using magic in my duel with him."
Hermione took over once again. "Finally, to round out the top three, is the old man in the middle. Most of you have probably seen his face on your chocolate frog cards, so let me introduce you to Albus Dumbledore." Hermione could see that the students recognized the face, but since he had been gone for twelve years, none of the current students knew anything about him aside from what their teachers had told them. She was about to change that. "Albus Dumbledore is widely considered the greatest duelist in the last three hundred years. He spent his entire dueling career undefeated, retiring at age one-hundred sixteen. He is a level-ten master of both free-form and formal dueling, and the only level-ten master of Single-Wand Combat, the anything goes dueling style that he pioneered himself."
Hermione had gotten their undivided attention, but it was Harry who got them seriously excited. "As most of you know, Single-Wand Combat is my favorite style of dueling. In the last few years, I've been taking the tests to advance in it. Well, today I'm going to test for the level-ten mastery against the only man able to give it out. You're all going to watch what might just be the fight of the century."
Hermione couldn't resist jumping in once again. "Harry, it's only fair to let these wizards know what they're up against." She turned to the assembled group. "Albus and company, today you will be crossing wands with one of the greatest duelists the world has ever seen. Harry has been very busy in the last dozen years. At his current age of twenty-eight, he holds level-ten mastery in free-form and formal dueling, and has recently advanced to level-nine master of single-wand combat. Also, he has become the first internationally licensed enchanter in almost five hundred years, and is widely recognized as the world's foremost expert on dark magic."
Minerva McGonagall chose that moment to step through the mirror. Albus was momentarily distracted by the odd method of transportation. Minerva had other things to say about Harry. "He is also married to a lovely young woman, and the father of a three year old child, so he'd better not get seriously hurt." She turned to Harry, still the stern teacher. "After all, Harry, nobody in this dimension can heal you if you get injured."
Harry had the good sense to cut her protest off before she could get started. "And just what do you think they can do to me, Minerva?" He asked. "Moody isn't a major concern of mine, even though he has the knowledge and resourcefulness to win. I have a bigger advantage, as will become apparent when the duel begins. As for Albus," he cast the wizard a malicious smile, "He's still very powerful, yes, but doesn't have the killer instinct necessary to attack me with the ferocity required to do real harm. I'm not worried. I'm just excited to be involved in a duel that I'm not guaranteed to win." Harry looked a little more concerned for a moment. "Remus concerns me, however. He's been looking forward to fighting Snape for several years now, ever since Sirius died. Sirius only encourages him from the painting, so I'm a little concerned that he might do something that he regrets later."
Remus Lupin, though not a Shadow Master, could enter rooms as sneakily as the demons did. He was leaning against the wall in the corner, and surprised Albus Dumbledore when he spoke. "It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I hate the greasy bastard. He's been the same hateful tosser since we met in our first year of school." Remus stepped forward a bit. "However, I'm going to put my feud with him on the shelf for now. Rather, I'm going to base my attack strategy on the conduct of my opponent. The students need to see how AVERAGE wizards attack people like us." Remus emphasized the word average, knowing what it would do to Snape.
Harry gave Remus a hard look, and seemed satisfied. He continued the introduction. "Finally, the remaining ten wizards will help Hermione demonstrate something very special. It's not dueling, really, but it is very important. Hermione is going to show you all how to fight the un-winnable fight; a ten-on-one ambush. Hermione is going to give her back to the wizards, and take the first spell BEFORE she begins to duel them." Harry's voice grew stern. "This demonstration will have practical application, so pay very close attention. In many places throughout the world, Werewolves, Vampires, Necromancers, and Drow are considered dark CREATURES, something less than human. There are people who make their living by hunting these creatures, ridding the world of 'evil.' These people hunt in teams. They never go hunting alone."
Hermione finished the explanation. "While an ambush is an undesirable situation, it is a very possible one. What I want to show you is not how to defeat ten wizards by yourselves, but how to react to the situation if it should ever happen." Hermione knew that her students were proud, but she needed them to understand. "In a fight for your life, running away is often the best course of action. While it may not be possible to escape all ten, if you can hurt a few, the others may be distracted long enough for you to get away. I will demonstrate several techniques to aid you in making such an escape here today."
Since the introduction was done, all that was left was to explain the rules of Harry's house to the newcomers. "This is my house, ladies and gentlemen, and you will abide by the rules here. All rules sanctioned by the international dueling committee are valid here, save two. One, the duel is over when someone quits or dies. Knocking your opponent out or taking his wand does not represent a win. Two, ANY spell is allowed during the course of the duel, including the three unforgivable curses. Having said that, the Killing Curse is frowned upon, though it is allowed. I do not teach that curse here, and would much rather my students didn't learn it." Albus was appalled that Harry would even allow the spell to be used. "Any questions before we begin?" Harry didn't give time for any questions. He knew that the old man would try to stall the fighting as much as possible. "No? Good, let's get started."
Hermione decided to play ring announcer. "First in the ring, The Rabid wolf will be taking on the greasy dungeon master. Remus Lupin, Severus Snape, please step into the dueling ring."
The two men entered the ring, and Harry made a small gesture with his hand. The platform changed slightly, becoming longer and thinner, the official dueling platform of formal dueling. "Let's get started." He said. Remus unclasped his cloak, and shrugged it off. He was shirtless underneath. Albus stared at the tattoos that almost covered Remus' arms. Remus was wearing what appeared to be leather pants, shiny black boots, and a golden armband, showing his rank within the school. Remus and Severus took their respective positions. "I don't stand on ceremony here, gentlemen. This duel begins with the first spell cast."
"I'll let Snivellus have it." Remus drawled lazily. "He's not strong enough to hurt me, so I might as well let him get a few shots in."
Snape was furious at the idea that he couldn't beat the werewolf. He cast his spell. He didn't say the incantation, but anyone would recognize the disarming charm. Harry chuckled. Remus simply flexed his powerful forearms as the spell washed over him, and kept his wand. The lack of reaction was enough to momentarily confuse Snape, and Remus took advantage. With a deceptively lazy wave of his wand, the werewolf sent a barrage of tiny black darts at the dumbfounded wizard. The appearance of the darts was enough to jolt Snape out of his confusion, and he dropped to the floor to avoid the tiny needles.
Harry took the time to teach his class as the duel went on. "As you see, Snape led off with the simplest dueling spell ever made. The disarming spell is rather simple in its purpose. Depending on the power you put into the spell, it will separate a man from his wand a certain distance. Normally, the wand will jump from your opponent's hand, often flying toward you." Harry smirked. "Obviously, Snape wasn't prepared for the extra strength of the werewolf, and was unable to separate Remus from his wand. In any case, the disarming charm is probably the easiest spell to recognize in the dueling ring, and definitely the easiest to block. Any way you look at it that was a classic example of what NOT to do."
Snape was back on his feet, and mad as a hornet. With a flourish of his wand, a much crisper version of the same wave that Remus had done, he cried "Argentium!" A multitude of silver needles shot out of the tip of Snape's wand. The needles were fast, but Remus was ready. A powerful whip-crack motion of his wand sent a blast of wind ripping across the dueling platform, throwing the needles off course. A few of them still got lucky, and hit the werewolf in the arm. A powerful shake of his arm dislodged the needles, but they still left pinpoint puncture wounds and burns where the silver had touched him.
Harry took the moment to teach a little more. "The silver dart spell is a spell that you werewolves should become very familiar with. While it is almost impossible to cast for you, many of the hunter teams use it when they hunt. The silver darts can of course cause you extreme pain, and if a few people cast the curse simultaneously, it can most certainly kill you. Remus used a very obscure wind shield to throw the darts off course, but the best idea would be to dodge it if you can." Harry had more to say. "Notice that Snape verbalized the spell? That is a very common thing in duels such as these. In altering the dart spell to create silver darts, Snape had to concentrate much harder on the intent. Being that so much of his focus was taken by the modification, Snape verbalized his intent, hoping that Remus would dodge it. With so much focus, he wouldn't be ready to dodge the counter-attack as quickly, so he wanted Remus to be scared of the spell enough to dodge out of the way, leaving Snape time to get ready for his defense."
The ploy obviously hadn't worked, since Remus went on the attack immediately following his counter-spell. A fast flick of his wand sent a bolt of blue energy screaming towards the wizard, who couldn't dodge it in time. Snape caught the curse in the shoulder, and was lifted off of his feet. He landed painfully on his rump.
Harry was enjoying the play-by-play. "Notice the pace of formal dueling. One person attacks, and the other defends. The combatants must take turns. This is a throwback to the old days, when swords were used instead of wands. As many of you know, when playing with swords, you must either attack or defend, there are no real moves that are both. So, formal dueling is very much like a fencing match." Harry got a sour look on his face. "It takes ungodly patience to master formal dueling. I do not have that patience, and have a tendency to break out the powerful spells very early in the match. Formal dueling is my least favorite of the three forms."
Snape seemed to be learning from Harry's lecture. His next spell was non-verbal and looked very strong. The brilliant orange bolt flew at Remus' head, but the werewolf simply ducked out of the way. Remus then sent a spell at Snape's midsection. The spell was nearly invisible, just showing as a ripple in the air. Snape couldn't dodge out of the way, and the spell toppled him to the ground again, as he vomited. Harry recognized the spell as a pugio curse, the magical equivalent of a punch to the solar plexus.
"Another lesson to learn from the wizard," Harry commented, "is that you should avoid any spells that target only the extremities of the body. Your arms and Head move faster than your midsection, so it is much easier to dodge spells aimed at your extremities. Your torso is always the last part of your body to move, so it is best to target it with dueling spells."
Snape had reached the limit of his anger. His mind descended into rage. From his knees, a violation of the rules of formal dueling, he hit Remus with a Cruciatus curse.
A supremely disciplined fighter, Remus managed not to scream. He did, however, fall to his knees. His teeth were clenched in pain, but he didn't scream.
Snape noticed that the hall had gotten very quiet. Using a trick he's learned from the dark lord, Snape divided his concentration, observing the room while he held the curse on his enemy. He first registered an almost maniacal gleam in the eyes of the Potter boy, and a shocked look gracing the features of Albus Dumbledore. Then, he turned his eyes to the assembled students. Rather than the shock he expected, many of the students actually looked eager. This confused Snape. It was as if the students didn't think that the duel was over yet.
From a historical point of view, Snape should have kept his mind fully on the torture of the werewolf. The momentary lapse in complete concentration was all Remus needed. A poorly aimed blast from his wand took Snape in the shoulder, spinning him wildly, and ending the cruciatus curse. Snape spun back around in time to see Remus get to his feet and tuck his wand into his belt. Was he going to give up? Then, Remus began to change.
Snape was confused. The animagus transformation would be impossible for a werewolf. The potion required for the change contained silver bell holly and Aconite, either of which would be deadly to a werewolf. How had he done it?
Snape's confusion gave way to horror as Remus' change ended, for standing in front of him was a face from his darkest nightmares. Seven feet tall, a wolfish face on a human head, powerful, thick arms, and a dark, furry body; the absolute perfect cross between man and wolf, Remus had unleashed the beast.
Harry was prepared for what he knew was about to happen. When Snape had performed the torture curse, Harry had faded into the shadows, only to appear right behind Albus. While Dumbledore watched Remus change, Harry slipped his hand into the aged wizard's pocket, and stole his wand. As the transformation finished, Albus made a grab for is wand, intent to stop the fight. Finding his pocket empty, he spun his head to look for it, thinking it fell to the floor, and found himself staring into a pair of emerald green eyes. Harry's eyes told a story, and it wasn't a happy one. They conveyed, without words, that the old man would not be permitted to interfere.
Albus turned back to the fight, hoping that Severus would give up and save himself, and knowing that he wouldn't. Harry whispered in his ear. "I won't allow you to interfere, Dumbledore. You've protected him long enough. He's made his bed, now he will have to lie in it."
Snape could have given up at that point, and gotten away with his skin. Instead, he panicked. "Avada Kedavra!" He shouted. Snape was a talented wizard, and had a great deal of power. Aiming that considerable power to kill the werewolf, the killing curse rocketed through the air, catching the werewolf dead center of his massive chest. Remus gave a shocked yelp, and crumpled to the floor.
Snape's relief was very short lived. Just as he let out a relieved sigh, he heard a low growl. Like, a submarine rising from the depths, Remus got to his feet. A jagged cut was ripped across his chest, but the beast was very much alive.
Remus was out for blood. A long, horrifying howl pierced the air, a sound fit to wake the dead. Snape dropped his wand in terror. With a snarl that made the hair on everyone's arms stand up, Remus launched his powerful frame at Snape. The greasy wizard didn't even have time to react. Remus' powerful arms encircled his foe, and the beast clamped his powerful jaws down on the wizard's throat. With a gleeful snap, Remus tore his enemies throat out, and used his powerful arms to crush his ribcage. Snape's spine snapped like a toothpick, and the wizard died instantly. Remus laid Snape's body on the platform gently, displaying reverence to the dead. He didn't transform back, but finished his transformation, becoming a complete wolf. The wolf jumped from the platform, and sauntered out of the room, intent to clean the blood from his body.
As Albus approached the dead body of his friend, the class remained silent, respecting the dead by not cheering. Harry had taught them well, and they knew it was impolite to cheer for any duel that had ended in a fatality, even if they were pleased with the outcome.
Albus reached Snape's body, and fell to his knees, crying for his friend. Harry didn't like the man, but wanted some of his questions answered, so he decided to approach the old man. The man would be less likely to lie when he was vulnerable, and it might be a good time to show the old man some hard truths. Albus noticed Harry approaching, and beat him to a question.
"Why, Harry?" Albus asked. "Why did you let Remus do that to Severus?"
Harry knew that he needed to be honest. The old man had to learn. "Snape is dead because of the choices he made, not because of anything I did. If you need to blame someone, ask yourself why Snape didn't give up when he had the chance."
"You had the power to stop the duel, Harry, but you did nothing." Albus countered.
"I had no business interfering, and the only rule that was violated was the one Snape broke when he fired a spell from his knees." Harry said. "The rules do not prohibit transformations. They are actually specifically allowed by rule number thirty-eight. Remus didn't break any rules, and Snape's infraction would have lost points but not disqualified him. The duel had to continue. Why did you try to stop it?"
"Severus had no way of defending himself from a werewolf, Harry." Albus said. "I had to try to help him."
"If he had no way of defending himself, he should have given up. Instead, he used a killing curse, showing Remus that the fight was to the death. Remus retaliated in kind. Since the rules do not prohibit killing curses, they do not prohibit any other ways to kill your opponent, either. Since the rules weren't violated, your 'help' would have interfered with the duel." Harry said.
"Your rules need to change, Harry." Albus reprimanded. "You can't allow these students to go around killing each other. We can't afford to lose so many capable witches and wizards."
"What witches and wizards?" Harry asked. Albus indicated the students. Harry giggled. "My students? The Ministry of Magic doesn't recognize my school, so I do not teach witches and wizards here." Albus looked puzzled. Harry didn't realize that he was that thick. "My students are from the other races. Necromancers, Drow, Elementals, Werewolves, and Vampires come here to learn the skills to help keep them alive. I do my best to keep them that way, but the world is full of harsh lessons. Luckily, I've been doing this for twelve years now, and I've only lost nine students. Not bad for four years of graduating classes. Eight thousand graduates, nine deaths. Not even one percent of my total."
"All of these students are of the other races?" Albus asked. "How is that possible?" Albus was familiar with the law. In Britain, any dark creature had to register with the department for the control of Magical Creatures. In Britain, the number of creatures on the registry was under ten thousand. Unless Harry offered schooling to the entire world, the number of students was far too high. The number of students, assuming that they were all British, indicated a population closer to fifty thousand.
"Yes, Albus, I do offer my school throughout Europe." Harry said. "But you're only seeing a quarter of my students here. I've currently got close to nine thousand students enrolled. Just to draw a comparison, Hogwarts is full, now that the Dark Lord has been dead for twelve years. All two thousand beds are filled by young witches and wizards." Harry smirked. "The Daily Prophet was quite proud to report that fact last year, in fact."
Eight thousand garaduates, and another nine thusand at the school…That meant that there would be an adult population of nearly five million in Europe alone.
"Yes, we outnumber you." Harry said, knowing what the old man would be thinking. "I won't even consider giving you accurate information, but there are easily more of us than there are of you."
Hermione walked over. She needed to speak to Harry about something. "Harry, Snape getting killed was not part of our original plan." She whispered. "The others need time to grieve for him, especially if you want any real fight from Albus. I think we'll need to postpone this exhibition until next week."
"Good idea, Hermione." Harry said. "I want Albus in top form, and he'll be distracted by this development. I'll tell the children." Harry turned to face the sea of silent students. "The result of this duel is never the best way to end it. Death is irreversible, and revenge and panic are two of the worst reasons to kill anyone. Since this duel ended the life of one of the wizards, the exhibition will be postponed until next Friday. Class dismissed."
As the students exited the hall quietly, Harry joined the group that had formed around the Potions master. "I'll have the necromancers up to clean and heal the body. We will keep him safe for you until such a time when he can be given a proper burial in a place of his choosing."
Albus was familiar with the unique magic that the necromancers could wield, and was thankful that Severus would be taken care of. "Thank you, Harry."
"Shall we adjourn to my office?" Harry asked. "You have been gone a very long time, Albus, and many things have changed. Minerva, Hermione, and I will bring you up to speed."
A/N: I'm not finished with this story yet! I have at least a few more chapters in it before it's over! I hope you liked this one, and I'm working hard on The next installment…I am deployed in Iraq right now, so don't look for it too soon, but be on the lookout for something, Ok?