The Art of Duelling
By Random Shinobi
Summary: Harry finds an old parchment that instructs him in how to properly use his...wand. Miscommunication, horny witches, weird potions and the general insanity of the Wizarding race go a long way to secure what follows as one of the most brilliantly stupid events to ever grace the annals of history.
Rating: PG-13 (Rated for blatant sexual innuendo.)
Disclaimer: If you recognize it, then it might well belong to JKR or to some of her affiliates. Or to some random people out there.
Thanks to Lovesnape and Marykatepeverell for their help.
Chapter One: Miscommunication
Harry Potter stared at the old parchment lying on the table in front of him with a small frown, his fingers drumming softly against the old oaken table. The yellow sheet of magical leather was highly curious, and equally bothersome.
He had found the parchment hidden inside the back of an ancient tome on counter-curses he had needed for a DADA essay. It appeared to be some sort of booklet about duelling, but it was written in such a roundabout fashion that Harry had trouble understanding it.
"Hi, Harry," rang a cheery female voice from his left. The young wizard turned his head slightly and saw Ginny looking at him curiously, a stack of books in her arms and bright smile on her lips. "What are you reading?"
Harry watched the redhead for a few seconds, wondering if she could help him to decrypt what the parchment was saying, exactly. "It's a leaflet about duelling, but there's something rather weird about it," he said and paused for a second, gathering his thoughts. "I can read it to you, if you want. See what you think of it."
"Sure," she said and took a few steps towards him, hugging the books against her chest and then leaning against a heavy bookcase. Harry flashed a wide smile at her, before clearing his throat, turning his eyes back to the yellowing sheet and starting to read it aloud: "Like the old saying goes, its not the size of your wand that matters, but how you use it. Although in all honesty, most witches you duel would probably say that the size helps too, as it allows for a firmer grip and more contact surface."
At this point Harry heard Ginny let out a squeak, and he quickly turned his inquiring gaze back on the red-haired witch, who was blushing for seemingly no apparent reason. Harry was slightly perplexed by her odd behaviour, but as it was a well-known fact that she was always blushing around him, the green-eyed wizard dismissed her reaction and continued reading.
"Young and relatively inexperienced wizards tend to have the most unfortunate habit of shooting their spells prematurely. Regrettably there is no other solution to this than diligent practice. However, especially during the first few duels, one should always pay attention to the elementary wand safety as a careless shot can cause a witch to swell rabidly to inhuman size, which may heavily reduce your social life and possibilities of duelling with other witches."
At this point, Harry could hear multiple dull thuds of books hitting the floor and he was suddenly very thankful for Madame Pince not being anywhere around; she would have surely thrown a fit and kicked them both out of the library for mangling her beloved books. He reluctantly lifted his gaze from the old leaflet. "Ginny, are you all right? You look a bit flustered." And she really did. Her cheeks were flaming and her mouth was hanging open. She looked quite comical actually.
"I– I'm all right," she answered, her voice both unusually high-pitched and shaky. Harry really didn't know why she was suddenly acting like this, but then again, he had never really understood witches, and he was starting to seriously doubt that he ever would.
"Hey, do you think I fire prematurely, like this essay says?" Harry asked with a thoughtful expression, leaning back in his chair and clasping his hands together, while staring at the parchment. This could be a serious problem, he decided, nodding to himself. Seeing as a whole bunch of maniacal Dark wizards were after his blood, he simply couldn't afford to make any mistakes in fights. "I wonder if I should practice more. Hmm... What do you think, Gin?"
As Ginny remained uncharacteristically silent, the young wizard looked askance only to find that the witch looked like she was choking. She stared at him like he had grown a second head, making Harry feel somewhat self-conscious, her mouth opening and closing but no sound came out. "I- I re-really don't know," she eventually stammered, sounding more than a bit like the late Professor Quirrell.
Harry studied her for a few seconds. She really didn't look well, but seeing as she most likely wouldn't like him telling her to go to the hospital wing, he simply continued with the text. Besides, he really wanted to know her opinion about it.
"If you find it hard to find suitable duelling partners, you can always hire professionals to help you out. One should, however, note that aiming at older witches, while somewhat frowned upon by society, is a good way to enhance one's duelling skills as older women can usually teach many useful, dirty tricks. These skills may prove to be a critical factor when proposing a friendly duel to witches of your own age."
As Harry lifted his eyes from the parchment he could see a tomato-red Ginny watching him with something akin to terror in her brown eyes. She was indeed acting very peculiar today... Then he got an idea and instantly voiced it, "Do you think your mother knows some useful things about duelling?"
As soon as he finished his sentence, the youngest Weasley promptly fainted. Luckily Harry was quick enough to catch her before she hit the floorboards.
He gently lowered the unconscious witch to the floor and with a tap of his wand, Rennervated her.
Ginny's chocolate-brown eyes snapped wide open and she found herself looking directly into Harry's pair of emerald orbs. "Hey, Gin," he said with a small smile playing on his lips. "Are you going to stand up, or are you just going to lie on the floor and force me to use my magic on you?"
She froze for a second, becoming absolutely still. Then she stood up with carefully measured movements, looking like she was desperately trying to calm herself down. Harry could see a myriad of different emotions flitting across her face, only some of which he could identify.
"Ginny, you really don't seem so good. Do want me to walk you up to the hospital wing?" Harry asked softly and the redhead's composure broke before his eyes.
"No! I'm fine!" she nearly yelled, and the hint of anger in her voice startled the young wizard. She was suddenly acting like he had been baiting or teasing her... Harry could just stare at her in surprise for the few seconds it took her to calm down and acquire a determined look on her face. Of what she was determined to do, he had no idea. In fact, he was almost afraid to find out... An old axiom suddenly floated into his consciousness: 'Hell hath no fury like a woman...whatever.'
"Oookaayy... I shall continue then," Harry said slowly and with a healthy amount of trepidation. He cleared his throat and adjusted his glasses, making a mental note to get new ones; possibly something a tad less round and cheap. "Wizards should always keep in mind that it is impolite to point a wand at witches you don't know well, especially if you are frequently duelling with another witch. It is also a common courtesy to not target younger witches as they may lack the skills to properly defend themselves. Also, taking multiple partners at the same time is heavily frowned upon, by both witches and wizards alike, and it is widely considered to be extremely foolish."
Ginny's cheeks were reddening again, but at least this time she hadn't lost her voice. "So, Harry," she said with a weird gleam in her eyes. "Have you been duelling with any witches lately?"
Harry cocked his head slightly and scratched the back of his head as he considered her question, mussing his already unruly black hair. "Well, Hermione, I guess," he said thoughtfully after a few seconds of silence. The brunette witch was, after all, his usual partner during DA meetings.
"What?" Harry asked, confused by her sudden and very, very loud exclamation. She had, after all, asked the question and so she shouldn't act like she hadn't wanted to hear the answer. Besides, she was a part of the DA too and she should know that he usually partnered with Hermione. "What do you mean by that?"
He got no answer from the youngest Weasley, who looked like a fish out of water, and so he turned his attention back to the old parchment, shaking his head slightly in exasperation. Harry considered himself to be a pretty tolerant guy, but her weird antics were certainly starting to annoy him.
"Many consider it a wizard's duty to gather a wide duelling experience – to duel with witches of all legal ages from different cultures, societies and social standings. Good practical knowledge is usually a key factor in duels, especially when against demanding opponents or when trying to give a pleasant introduction to the art of duelling for a first-timer."
"Do you think that's true?" the redhead asked, her voice a soft murmur.
"I don't know," Harry admitted and then shrugged lightly. "I guess there is no other way to find out but to try."
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence before Ginny spoke, her timid voice somehow managing to sound both hopeful and reluctant at the same. "Do you want to? With me, I mean."
Harry looked at her curiously. The witch was fiddling with her fingers, looking more and more nervous by each passing moment. The blush that had been plaguing her for this whole conversation was back with a vengeance and the young wizard could almost swear that he heard her drumming heart. Now he thought about it, he was already getting pretty bored with all this reading. A little friendly duelling could do no harm. "Sure, why not. We can use the empty classroom nearby."
The Potter scion couldn't even gather his stuff before the red-headed witch dragged him out of the library, her hands acquiring a vice-like grip on his arm. She had very strong hands for a girl of her size...
Ginny was obviously very eager to duel, Harry concluded as he was forcefully dragged through the shadowy Hogwarts corridors. A small smile appeared on his lips. Her determination and enthusiasm definitely heralded an exciting match. Maybe he could even learn something new and exiting...