Disclaimer: Yeh, Don't own HP. Kinda thought it was obvious. This goes for following chapters as well.

Measure for Measure

Chapter I: Opening

I had never been a very strong person.

Well, physically anyway. I was average in height, average in weight, and most remarkably, under average in intelligence. Now that my personal space had been violated my remarkable stupidity, which I suppose those that didn't know better called courage, was showing itself once more.

The man had grabbed my wand.

Well, more precisely he had stolen it. Err, was in the process of stealing it. So naturally when a strange man gras--steals, steals your wand you react badly. Well, to me it seemed to be a very appropriate reaction. I turned and popped the offending 'gentleman' a nice one in the jaw. He fell over backwards and I blinked amazedly. Either I had gotten really strong in the past few weeks, or he had a rather puny jaw. Taking a good look at the strange wizard that had I had hit, I went with the latter option. While he certainly was taller than me, he looked rather wimpy. Almost like one of Dudley's skinny friends. He sat up, apparently startled that I had detected him, and tried to run away. I wasn't having any of that, though. I stepped on his robes, stopping him, mid-rise. Apparently the bugger thought he'd attack me with my own wand, for I heard a curse forming at his lips as he raised it. Once more, I wasn't going to stand for it, and pulled him up and punched him across the jaw. He was a bit more solid than I'd imagined, it hurt my knuckles. I heard something crack as he fell back down. He rose again and fired off some garbled hex I didn't recognize, while I managed to step to the side just in time. A crowd had formed by this time, and I heard several yelps as the spell was fired. It felt rather foul, and as it passed me it smashed into a signpost and started decaying the wood. Right then, he was strong. He knew spells I didn't, and he had my wand. Reaching into my pocket I drew my wand—

"Heh?" My wand? I looked down at it for a moment, confused. Yes, it was indeed my wand, so that meant I had attacked a poor stranger that was behind me for no reason. While I was going over this it seemed as though the stranger hadn't taken notice if my befuddled state of mind and fired off another spell. Well, shit, scratch that 'poor stranger' part, I had picked a fight with an adult wizard that knew how to duel.

"Praecido," he whined out. An ugly blue black bolt shot my way. I happened to avoid most of it on sheer reflex alone, although a small portion of it grazed my left arm. I felt a sharp sting and saw blood well up out of the fresh cut. He… cut… me… I stared, transfixed by my own blood soaking the cloth around it, until I heard his follow up spell searing the air on its way towards me. I didn't have time to get out of the way, it was do or die. I just hope it's not the second.

"Protego," I incanted firmly and relief washed over me when the translucent shield held. Unfortunately my opponent didn't want me relieved. He fired another one of those strange cutting curses again. I didn't dare drop the shield. Luckily my spell held and the curse dissolved on the glassy dome. Sidestepping sharply to avoid another unknown spell, I fired off a stunner, hoping to catch him on his off angle. It didn't work, and a part of me wondered why he was taking this fight so seriously. It's not as if I was an adult. I didn't know much in the way of battle magic, hell I could barely do domestic charms properly. I'd gotten better during the tournament, of course, but I was nowhere near this guy's level. I had only held Voldemort off by a thread, and Cedric had—no, it wasn't the time to think about this. I moved quickly away from a large orange spell and tried out one of his own spells against him.

"Praecido," I half-growled, imitating the motions and releasing the force behind it, the spell worked, but my arm bucked like an old American cowboy on one of those black and white films. The man, clearly surprised by my choice of spell, didn't move fast enough and the curse tore through one of his sleeves and bit into his arm. The torn sleeve fell away showing the dark inked tattoo of the Dark Mark mingling with his fresh blood. Someone in our audience gasped.

"That would be a reason," I muttered while bringing up the shield again. A more forceful silvery spell stuck it and reflected off to burn at a stray bale of hay. Strange place for hay, but I wasn't complaining. I moved off to the right and let off a whispered, "Reducto," hoping to at score another blow on his wounded arm. He lifted his wand crossways and a filmy blue shield formed in front of him. On the bright side it had taken a bit out of him. He yelled his next attack out and my blood froze (figuratively, not literally) for a moment. A Bludgeoning hex, my flimsy shield wouldn't hold against it. Thinking quickly, I spied with my bespectacled eyes a cart on wheels.

"Accio," called out hurriedly. I felt a slight tug from the magic and the cart was pulled in front me not a moment too soon. Fate had always barely saved my ass. The spell struck, and splintered wood was thrown in every which direction and it struck again, five more times to be precise. Meanwhile the lanky stranger had let off three more of the cutting curses. I had no choice but to use the same bludgeoning hex if I wanted to stay in one piece. It would take care of the individual spells, in theory, but I had never actually tried it out. It's summer, you see. Little wet-behind-the-ears whelps like me can't use magic over holiday.

"Extundo." The spell left me in a flurry of scarlet force and collided with each spell in turn, negating them. I moved back and banished the ruined cart at him, while he ducked around it and fired something else at me. I was tiring quickly. I hadn't had a fight like this in nearly a month. I was a bit out of practice. Singeing my shoulder, I avoided the brunt of the flame and fired off three of the cutters recklessly. It was all I had left in me.

Scowling, he managed to avoid the first one and blocked the second with his blue gel shield, but the third one, I had fired weakly, and it had trailed below the second to split his leg open. He fell down one knee before raising a triumphant smirk at me. Staring at him quizzically he raised his wand again, but not to attack. He pointed it behind me. From a distance, I heard the yelling of authority. Which I was well accustomed to, and greeted it in the only way I knew how.

I ran.

Looking back as I ducked in one of the stores, I saw three figures charging towards the little battlefield, blue M for Ministry badges shining on their chests. Deciding not to risk it I ran over to the fireplace and tossed the remains of the floo powder into it.

"The Leaky Cauldron." I did however risk another glance back, in time to see the proud face of a bearded man as he locked the door to his shop. Hey, at least some people still loved me. With a nod of thanks I departed absently brushing my hair over my scar as I went.

I suppose every year has to start out dangerously somehow, it was a shame I didn't make it 'til September.