Dueling With Dolts

Filius Flitwick bustled briskly about, tidying up his classroom after a long day. Putting everything in its proper place was a soothing ritual for him, and he practiced it religiously. A cluttered classroom was never conducive to an excellent learning experience, after all, and being sure that his students got the most from his classes was always of paramount importance to him.

As he hummed a sprightly tune to himself while packing up a large box of feathers, the door to the room opened, and Gilderoy Lockhart popped his head in to flash a sparkling grin his way.

"Oh, Flitwick, my good man, may I have a word with you? So sorry to be intruding."

Flitwick swallowed an automatic pang of dislike. What was it about the man that irritated him so much? It was really a bit hard to pin it down. Lockhart hadn't done anything overtly offensive since starting to teach here, yet every time he had a conversation with the man, Flitwick had the irrational urge to slap him…hard.

Deliberately he forced a smile and turned towards his glittering colleague. Perhaps it was the outfits? No human being should be allowed to wear clothing that sparkled that brightly.

"Certainly, Gilderoy. Please, come in. What can I do for you?"

Lockhart turned up the voltage on his smile. "I've just come from speaking with the Headmaster. I had a little idea that I wanted to float by him, and of course, the man was quick to see its potential. Very far-sighted man, the Headmaster." Lockhart beamed.

Flitwick sighed internally and tried very hard to look interested. "Oh? And what would this idea be, may I ask?"

Lockhart entered the room with a swirl of mauve robes and closed the door behind him. Then he headed for his colleague's side, pausing on the way when he spotted the mirror that Flitwick had hanging on one wall, in order for his students to be able to practice their wrist movements properly. Unable to resist the allure of his reflection, the man ran a studiedly casual hand through his immaculate locks and broadened his grin to show every gleaming tooth.

Flitwick tried not to laugh at this display of preening, but he still wasn't quite able to completely smother a giggle, which he turned into a hasty cough, not that Lockhart actually noticed. After all, when one had Gilderoy Lockhart to focus on, it took real effort to focus your attention on anything else. Finally Flitwick was forced to clear his throat rather loudly to forcefully pull Lockhart's attention back to the matter at hand.

"Uh, Gilderoy? You were saying?"

"Oh, yes, of course." Lockhart turned reluctantly away from his reflection and crossed the room to tower over his colleague. "As I was saying, I spoke to the Headmaster…about starting a Dueling Club."

Flitwick brightened immediately. After all, he'd been quite a champion dueler in his youth. "Splendid. I've been telling Dumbledore that the students could benefit from such a club for years, but for some reason, he's never felt the time was right."

"Well," exclaimed Lockhart with an expression of phony modesty on his face. "He was probably just waiting until he had someone with the proper credentials, such as myself, before he sanctioned it."

A cloud drifted across Flitwick's face. "No doubt," he stated coolly.

Taking that for enthusiastic support, because what else could it be? Lockhart plowed forward. "Anyway, based on my stellar abilities, he's given me the chance to offer a club to the students so that they can benefit from my well documented experience. He suggested that you might be an adequate person to function as my assistant, since apparently you've had some small experience at this, as well." His teeth sparkled gaily as he smiled down at the diminutive Charms professor.

Flitwick smiled a strained smile back. "How kind of him," he murmured softly.

"Then you'll do it? Capital! Now, all we need is the proper venue, and we can begin. I can hardly wait. I have the most divine dueling outfit…complete with cape, you know."

A slightly cunning look flitted through the Charms professor's eyes. "Well, the Great Hall can easily be altered to resemble a proper dueling runway, but I do think it might be a good idea for the two of us to square off first and give it a go, don't you? After all, our styles might not mesh well at all, and I wouldn't want to lead the students astray by telling them anything that might…clash…with the information that you'd be imparting to them." Flitwick smiled politely up at the taller wizard.

Lockhart looked slightly troubled. "Oh…do you really think that's necessary? I assumed that I would do all of the actual instructing, and that you would simply assist me. Pairing up the students, holding my cloak, that sort of thing."

"No doubt you did," Flitwick muttered under his breath. Aloud, he said, "Of course, of course, it will be your show. Absolutely. But the students are rather used to coming to me with questions. If the club is popular, there will be a lot of students there, and one thing I know about students. They do tend to be a trifle impatient, and they always ask a lot of questions. If I knew more about your style, I could be quite sure of passing on what you would wish. After all, we do want them to get only the best instruction and the proper information, don't we?" He flashed an innocent look at his colleague.

Lockhart smiled once more. "Of course, we do. Well, all right. Where shall we go to practice then?"

Flitwick indicated the empty classroom. "Oh, I think this will do. It's just a bit of informal practice, after all. Simply a way for me to see a sample of your talent."

Lockhart beamed. "Certainly. I'll just stay here, why don't I, and you can go down to the other end of the room and let me know when you're ready."

Flitwick spun on his heel and paced across the room, to turn back, wand in hand. Then he assumed a proper dueling stance and addressed his opponent.

"Any time, my dear man," he stated brightly.

Lockhart nodded and withdrew his wand from his pocket, pausing to untangle it first from a froth of lace that lined the edge. Then he stood facing Flitwick with his wand moving in small circles while pointing generally in the proper direction.

"Ready?" called Flitwick.

Lockhart nodded. "Of course…any time."

Flitwick smiled. "I'll call it, shall I? One…Two…Three."

On the count of three, Lockhart began to wave his wand about his head in a complicated movement, while Flitwick sprang forward, aimed at the man's wand and stated firmly, "Recoilus Ignis."

Lockhart's wand jerked back against him roughly, and the man gave a high-pitched scream and dropped the suddenly hot stick as if it was burning his hand. This threw him rather badly off balance, and as he tried to regain his footing, he tripped over a flowing scrap of mauve and fell in a heap to the floor, banging his forehead sharply against the side of a desk.

As Flitwick scrambled across the room to check on whether the man was seriously hurt or not, the door to the classroom opened, and Minerva McGonagall poked her head inside.

"Filius? Are you all right? I heard a crash…" Her voice trailed off at the somewhat alarming sight of Gilderoy Lockhart lying dazed on the floor with his legs sprawled wide and an arm flung over his face.

"Oh, my goodness," she exclaimed in surprise as she hurried to join Flitwick in trying to ascertain whether or not Lockhart was seriously injured.

Before either of them had quite reached his side, though, Lockhart groaned and began to push himself up off the floor. As he spotted both of his colleagues bearing down on him with looks of concern on their faces, the shaken wizard got to his feet more rapidly and began to straighten his robes.

"My dear man, are you all right?" squeaked the Charms Master.

Lockhart drew back and nodded hurriedly. "Certainly, certainly. I was just attempting an evasive maneuver…the desk simply got in the way, that's all. I'm used to dueling in much larger spaces, you know."

"Oh…of course," murmured Flitwick with a pleasant smile.

McGonagall came up to stand next to Lockhart and raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps you should go and see Poppy, Gilderoy. You appear to have quite a bump on your forehead."

Lockhart raised a hand to feel the rather large goose egg that was forming over one eye. "Oh, dear. Yes, perhaps I should. It's best to take care of these things immediately, before they become too unsightly."

Flitwick nodded. "Quite."

Lockhart paused and smiled down at Flitwick. "Ummm…perhaps your assisting me with the dueling club wouldn't work out that well, after all, Filius. No offense, of course, but I have a feeling that our personal styles wouldn't really mesh all that well, and we wouldn't want to confuse the students now, would we?"

A sharp snort escaped McGonagall, but when Lockhart shot her a swift glance, she was merely standing there quietly, looking concerned.

Flitwick nodded soberly. "I suppose you're right. As much as I'd love to take part, it probably would be better for you to find one of the other professors to help out. Someone whose type of dueling wouldn't clash with your teaching style."

Lockhart smiled, looking slightly relieved. "Yes, exactly. I was thinking of asking Professor Trelawney, actually. Her style seems much more likely to mesh attractively with mine. Don't you think? She has such a lovely sense of color as well."

Flitwick beamed. "Excellent, idea. She was a junior grand champion in her youth, I believe."

"Oh! Oh… Well, then perhaps, she might not want to have to step into a subordinate position. Some people have such trouble with that." Lockhart backpedaled frantically.

Flitwick nodded in understanding. "True. It might be difficult for her. Perhaps…Professor Snape? I don't think he has any dueling experience in particular, and I'm sure he'd love to help out."

"Do you think so?" Lockhart brightened up once more, thinking that Snape did sound perfect, not to mention that his personal style of dress couldn't possibly clash, either. "Excellent. Thank you for the suggestion. Now, I should get to Madame Pomfrey before this lump begins to mar my profile too alarmingly." With a brief nod to both professors, Lockhart swept out of the room.

Once the door closed behind him, McGonagall looked down at her colleague with a small smile on her lips. "You know, I'd have sworn that it was Severus who had the dueling experience…not Sibyll," she remarked softly.

"Really?" Flitwick glanced upwards with wide eyes. "Did I get that mixed up? How unfortunate."