A challenge to a mid-night duel alters Harry Potter's fate. Given a taste of the thrill and excitement of a wizard's duel, Harry's life takes a sudden turn as he immerses himself into the noble art of his fore-fathers— Duelling.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and Raincoats Books, and Warner Brothers Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter or anything related to Harry Potter.
"So what do you say, Potter? Tonight in the Trophy Room, you and me, Wizard's Duel?" Draco challenged.
Harry looked angrily at the conceited boy, but didn't really know how to answer, having never heard of Wizard's Duel before.
"What Potter? Never heard of Wizard's Duel," Draco jeered. Crabbe and Goyle gave a dumb laugh behind him.
"Of course he has," said Ron, standing up beside him. "I'm his second, who's yours?" Ron challenged.
Draco smirked before looking back at his companions thoughtfully. "Crabbe. Crabbe is my second," he stated.
"At mid-night then, Potter, in the Trophy Room," Draco said to Harry before turning away and walking back to the Slytherin table.
Harry looked at Draco's retreating back for a while before turning to Ron, "What was he talking about? What's a Wizards Duel?" Harry asked.
Ron, who'd in the meantime gone back to his food, turned to Harry to speak but all that came out was a garbled voice.
"Swallow Ron," said Harry impatiently.
Ron visibly swallowed his food and said, "It's kind of a wizard's fight, y'know, with wands and all. You curse him and he curses you, that sort of stuff."
Harry looked at him in askance. "But I don't know any curse."
"Oh! Don't worry, Harry. I don't think Malfoy knows any either. We haven't really learned enough. We're first years after all." Ron shrugged casually.
"But how do you know that he hasn't learnt any at home. Isn't he always boosting about that sort of stuff?" Harry asked, anxiety gnawing his mind.
Ron looked worried for a few moments, before replying, "I don't think so. Curses are difficult to cast. My brother Bill, y'know the curse-breaker, I remember him telling that to the twins when they wanted to learn some to curse Percy."
Harry nodded thoughtfully, before he remembered something from the impromptu conversation with Malfoy. "What do you mean you're my second?" Harry asked.
"Means I'm gonna take your place if you die," said Ron casually.
Harry's eyes boggled. He could die.
Ron noticing his ashen look, said, "Don't worry you aren't gonna die. I mean that only happens in serious duels, you just don't know enough to do anything."
Harry looked at Ron incredulously before nodding his head violently and said, "Yeah, I don't know enough. I'm almost a Muggle-born. How do you know Malfoy doesn't know enough? "
Ron looked on as if Harry was simply being silly. "C'mon Harry. Course he doesn't. Look at me, I don't know any curse or jinx or hex," he calmly stated before going back to his lunch, leaving Harry in his worried meanderings.
Yet, Ron was hardly the staple of pure-blooded wizards and while it was true that Draco tended to be quite arrogant, he had not been lying when he had said that he was good at flying, as such it was not inconceivable that he was good at this duelling stuff too.
Harry felt like it was Dudley all over again. He remembered well-enough the game of Harry Hunting and consequences of it when he got caught. Hogwarts didn't seem to be all that different if he got bullied here too.
Harry shook his head; he wasn't going to let that happen.
He was a wizard too, wasn't he? Anything that Draco could do so could he. Malfoy wasn't bigger than him or stronger than him, like Dudley had been. Harry was just as much magical as Malfoy was.
And suddenly an idea formed in his head. Harry frowned he didn't have much time. It was lunch time and he was to meet Malfoy at mid-night, which roughly gave him about ten hours. But still he had to try at the very least.
"Ron!" shouted Harry at his friend, who was swallowing great mouthfuls of mashed potatoes.
"Huh," said Ron, almost jumping in his seat at the sudden shout of his name. "What's it, Harry?"
"Come with me," demanded Harry as he got up from the Gryffindor table.
"Where?" Ron asked confused.
"Just come," said Harry, grabbing Ron by his arm and dragging him along.
Ron stumbled over the bench as Harry pulled him. "What's going on, Harry?"
"I'll explain later. Come with me for now," said Harry over his shoulder as he dragged Ron behind him out of the Great Hall.
"Why're we running?" Ron asked, as he ran behind him trying to keep up with Harry running helter-skelter through the corridors of Hogwarts bumping students out of their way.
Harry didn't bother answering but kept on running till he reached his destination: The Hogwarts Library.
He stopped in front of the massive doors of the library and bend over trying to catch his heaving breath. He did not dare run into the library. He had heard about the librarian banning students from the library for breathing too heavily and disturbing the silence. He most definitely didn't want to be barred from the library, not when he needed it the most.
"I missed lunch to come to the library. C'mon, what're we doing here?" whined Ron.
"Beating Malfoy," replied Harry shortly. "You want to beat him, don't you?" asked Harry looking over his shoulder at Ron, who was standing behind him.
Ron gave a confused nod.
"So help me," said Harry and walked purposefully into the library, Ron quietly following behind him.
There were a few senior students around studying. But most were still in the Great Hall eating their lunch. As such the library was mostly empty. And the emptiness gave a feeling of enormity that Harry found distinctly conspicuous. The smell of old parchment hung thick in the air mixed with the one from heavy dusty tomes.
He came to the librarian sitting in her desk at the back-end of the library. She looked strict, very prim and proper. And her monocle gave an impression of a being a firm disciplinarian.
"Ma'am," began Harry respectfully, "I was looking for the book, eh, Curses and Counter-curses by Professor Verdine, um …," Harry trailed off uncertainly. He remembered well enough the name of the book but not the author. He dearly hoped that the librarian would, as he didn't quite fancy searching for it through the entire library.
The librarian looked at him sharply, before replying, "Curses and Counter Curses by Professor Vindictus Viridian. Third aisle, second row, first column and fifth shelf."
Harry gave a small smile and said politely, "Thank you, Ma'am."
"You're welcome, Mr. Potter," she replied, her hard eyes softening ever so slightly.
"C'mon." Harry motioned to Ron, who was still following him confusedly.
As they quietly walked over to the third aisle, Ron whispered, "What're we doing here?"
Harry looked up at the tall wooden row, filled to the brim with books and more books. "We're looking for a book on curses, Ron," said Harry to Ron distractedly.
"Huh," said Ron.
Harry turned towards Ron with an irritated expression. "Y'know the duel that you accepted on my behalf at mid-night today. The one with Malfoy. We're looking for books on curses so that when Malfoy curses me, I can at least curse him back instead of waving my wand around like an idiot."
"I don't think Malfoy can do much, Harry," replied Ron quietly.
"Even if he can do a little. It's still much for me," said Harry and turned around to look for the book that he was searching.
"Do me a favour, Ron and look for any books on duelling," said Harry over his shoulder.
Ron groaned out loud and stomped loudly over to the opposite row.
"Third aisle, third aisle …," muttered Harry. They were in the third aisle. "Second row." Harry was in the second row. "First column." Harry shuffled his feet and counted the columns. He was in front of the first column. "And fifth shelf."
There was a line of books, neatly tucked in the wide rows of shelf. Harry moved his finger gingerly over the spine of the old books, reading the title of each of the books before he came to the one that he was looking for. "Curses and Counter Curses, got it," muttered Harry.
With his index finger, he delicately pulled out the book, careful enough not to disturb the others in the shelf.
Harry looked over at the cover. It was worn out, indicating years of usage. The writing on the cover — Curses and Counter-curses (Bewitch Your Friends and Befuddle Your Enemies with the Latest Revenges: Hair Loss, Jelly-Legs, Tongue-Tying, and Much, Much More) had turned dull.
Harry tucked the book under his arm and looked over the rest of the books in the column. All of them were on similar subjects and dealt with hexes and jinxes.
Harry picked out two other books, Basic Hexes for the Busy and Vexed and Jinxes for the Jinxed.
Turning towards Ron, who was still looking over the giant shelf of books with a morose expression, Harry said, "Found anything useful."
Ron turned around and grumpily held in front of him a thick tome. Harry moved in a bit closer to look over the title. The Noble Art of Duelling was embossed in gold in the hardbound cover. The book was at least a few inches thick.
"Are we done?" asked Ron grumpily.
"Yeah, yeah, all done," said Harry.
They moved out of the large aisle and went back over to the librarian's desk, which was empty at the moment. Harry looked around for her for a few moments but didn't see her anywhere.
"Ron, go look for her, will you? We don't have enough time, as is," Harry asked Ron.
"Time for what?" asked Ron.
"To learn the curses, Ron," said Harry and shooed him away to look for the librarian.
Ron left and Harry opened the Curses and Counter-curses to its index, looking over the list of curses the book was organised into. Most of the jinxes and hexes seemed pretty silly, thought Harry. After all what was the point of the Hair Loss jinx? Cursing Malfoy with it will not impede him from cursing Harry back. Harry needed something that'd hinder Malfoy' spell-casting. Flicking over a page, Harry quickly glanced over the next list of curses — the Tongue-Tying Jinx seemed pretty interesting.
Noting the page number where the curse was mentioned, Harry was about flick over the pages to the particular page, when he heard someone clear his throat in front of him.
The librarian, Madam Pince was standing in front of him.
"Err ... ma'am," said Harry nervously at her sudden presence, "I wanted to check out these books." Harry pushed forward the four books that he and Ron had taken out.
"Only two books per student, Mr. Potter, I'm afraid," she replied after giving a quick glance over the books.
"Err ... um ... there are two of us. Me and Ron are checking them out," said Harry quickly.
As if on cue, Ron appeared beside, out of breath. "Couldn't find her. Oh!" he said when he noticed Madam Pince standing in front of him.
She gave a sharp nod. Pulling out a gigantic register in front of her, she scratched the titles of the book with a huge peacock quill, before looking back up at them. "Your name, house and year," she asked.
"Harry Potter, ma'am. First year Gryffindor," said Harry promptly.
"Ron Weasley. First year Gryffindor," Ron spoke up beside him.
She scratched something on the register and then looked up at them with a sharp gaze. "You may keep the books with you for two weeks. And see to it they you do not damage them in any or form."
"Yes, ma'am and thank you," Harry piped up politely.
Madam Pince gave him the barest of smiles and Harry quickly grabbed the books dumping them in his backpack. He lugged it on his back with a grunt — the books were quite heavy.
He turned around and whispered to Ron to come along.
"Where are we going?" asked Ron morosely as they walked out of the library.
"Hey, do you how to charm things light?" asked Harry suddenly, as they were walking through the corridor.
"Nope," muttered Ron. "Where're—"
"— going?" finished Harry. "Defence classroom. I don't think that Quirrel has any more classes for the day. So, it should be empty," explained Harry, shuffling the heavy bag in a more comfortable position on his shoulder.
"Why're we going to the Defence classroom?" asked Ron. "You can try the curses in the common room, right?"
"I don't think people will take to casting curses very fondly in the common room. Definitely not with the idea to go to a mid-night duel."
"Alright, here we are," said Harry as they came to the defence classroom.
Ron shook his head, before opening the door and moving in. Harry followed in behind him.
"So, what now?" Ron asked.
"Now we learn some curses to hit Malfoy with," said Harry, putting his heavy backpack onto the teacher's desk and pulled out the books. He handed over the thick tome that Ron had found while he picked Viridian's book for himself.
Ron groaned. "Do I really need to read this?"
Harry rolled his eyes. He wasn't unfamiliar with Ron's distaste for reading. "It's up to you. If you want to beat Malfoy, you need to help me out."
"I want to beat Malfoy," asserted Ron.
"Great. You don't need to read all of that anyway. Just look through the book to see if you can find anything useful."
Ron cheered up slightly at the idea that he wouldn't need to read the book in its entirety. He grabbed a bench for himself and began flicking through the pages of the The Noble Art of Duelling.
Harry sat down himself and flicked over the pages of Viridian's book till he found his dog-eared page of the Tongue-Tying Jinx.
Harry became more excited as he quickly read the summary of the jinx. If he could hit Malfoy with it, then it would literally tie his tongue in a knot leaving him unable to vocalize any spells. The author mentioned that it was a good jinx to hit someone with if you were afraid of their retaliation as the acting spell would leave the person unable to speak. The author also noted that mother's could successfully use the spell to make sure that their children wouldn't become foul mouth.
To Harry, the jinx seemed something of a magical version of holding your tongue.
It was, however, just the kind of spell that Harry was looking for; he didn't have any time to learn lot of spells. What he needed were spells that were fast and efficient and could take down Malfoy with a single hit.
He quickly read over the instructions for the spell, taking note of the accompanying illustrated and animated (the pictured moved) diagram of the wand movement.
He gingerly pulled out his wand from inside his robes and vaguely pointed it forward. Harry looked at the incantation of the jinx again and waving his wand somewhat wildly, muttered, "Lingua Ligetum!"
Harry turned to look as he cast spell, but nothing materialised. He felt a little silly, waving a wooden stick and muttering inane words. If he hadn't seen others do magic the very same way and had not done a little bit of magic himself, then he'd have thought the very idea that something could happen by waving sticks and muttering words to be idiotic in the extreme.
Yet, he knew that it was possible to do magic and he knew that he himself was magical. All that stopped him was own lack of dedication. Well, that Harry believed could be rectified.
He waved his wand again, trying to imitate the movements given in the animated figure and make them more graceful and less wildly as muttered the jinx again.
Yet again he was met with failure. There was no flash of pink that the author indicated was a sign of properly cast Tongue-Tying Jinx.
He frowned; he did not see what the problem. He was doing the spell exactly as described.
With a slight touch of impatience and some annoyance, he gave an angry wave of his wand and vocalized the jinx again.
Harry's heart gave a sudden leap. The tiniest of flash, the kind you'd blink and miss responded to his attempt.
It wasn't the brilliant flash that the author said the proper result should be. It was still something though.
Harry read over the description of the jinx once again giving considerable thought to the proper enunciation and movements that the jinx entailed.
He had just begun to make another attempt again, when suddenly Ron spoke up.
"Harry, this book's—"
"Lingua Ligetum!" intoned Harry, even as he turned around to look at Ron's sudden call. The jinx materialized in the form of a pink flash at the tip of Harry's wand.
A bright smile formed on Harry's face as he looked at his wand in amazement at the successful casting of the spell.
"Did you see that? I just ..." Harry left his words hanging as he looked at Ron who was clutching his throat, his eyes bulging almost comically and he was blowing raspberries at Harry.
Harry frowned. "Ron. Are you alright?"
Ron looked at him as if trying to convey something, before he suddenly stood up knocking the bench awkwardly aside. He was making some strange kind of faces at Harry and every now and then he'd throw out spittle at him.
Harry looked down in confusion at his wand, before his eyes widened as he realised that it was pointing straight towards Ron. He had mistakenly hit Ron with the jinx. He looked up in horror at Ron, who was struggling to come over to him knocking aside the benches in the narrow passage-way.
"Hold up Ron, I'll fix this," Harry shouted at him.
He quickly made a grab for the book. Unable to retain a hold with his fumbling fingers, the book fell in a heap on the floor.
"Argh!" screamed Harry in frustration.
He quickly picked up the book and started wildly flicking the pages over to where the jinx was described.
Glancing through the contents of the jinx, he did not found any notation anywhere for a counter.
"Damn," muttered Harry. "Hold up, Ron," Harry shouted over his shoulder to Ron.
Flicking through the pages of the book, looking for a section on counter-jinxes of some sort, he came to the pre-face at the very beginning, where the author cautioned that most of the hexes and jinxes covered in the book could be countered by a simple finite incantatem.
He stood up quickly and turned around to look at Ron, who was shaking his hands in a manned to suggest haste.
Harry rapped Ron's throat with his wand and muttered, "Finite Incantatem!"
Ron experimentally opened and closed his mouth several times, imitating a goldfish. He carefully opened his mouth before uttering slowly, as if afraid that the jinx would renew if he talked too loudly. "What the bloody hell was that?"
"Sorry. Didn't intend to hit you," said Harry sheepishly.
"It was cool though," said Ron and a wide grin formed on his face. "Just hit Malfoy with it and not me, eh."
"Sorry, Ron," muttered Harry.
"It's alright," said Ron shrugging.
"So, er, why did you shout for me?" asked Harry.
"That book's bloody useless," said Ron pointing towards the The Noble Art of Duelling. "There're no curses in there. Just useless history on duelling."
"Ah well, grab some other book then," said Harry.
Ron groaned before walking over to the teacher's table and picking up the Basic Hexes for the Busy and Vexed.
Harry went back to his book and started casting the spell again to make sure that hitting Ron with it had not just been a lucky shot.
It took him a few attempts to get the jinx to work properly again. But once he'd seen with his own eyes that he could cast the spell, it became much easier for him. He kept on practicing it for a few times just to be sure that he could really cast it during the duel.
"I found something interesting, Harry," Ron shouted over to him interrupting Harry's repeated casting of the Tongue-tying Jinx.
"What's it?" Harry asked curiously.
"A Flinging Hex. It flings you a few feet in the air," replied Ron, reading from the book in his hands.
"Why don't you give it a try then? I'm still working on this."
"But you can already cast that."
"Just making sure that I can do it in the duel."
"Suit yourself," said Ron shrugging and began vaguely jabbing his wand and muttering the spell under his breath.
Harry went back to the Tongue-tying Jinx. Casting repeatedly one after another till he was sure that the jinx would come easily to him and that he wouldn't forget the incantation or the movements in the duel.
Harry checked his watch. They had already spent already over two hours, leaving them with about six more hours till mid-night, plenty of time to learn another spell or two.
Harry checked over the index of his book again for some more useful spell. The Jelly Legs Jinx looked interesting.
He flicked over to the mentioned page and started reading about the jinx.
"Flipendo!" Harry heard Ron mutter for the umpteenth time. Ron's voice had become increasingly louder with each unsuccessful attempt of his.
Harry smiled; Ron did not seem to be having the same success with his hex as he had with his jinx.
"Damn it. I can't do this. It's not working," cried Ron.
Harry shook his head and walked over to Ron. "It'll work, Ron. You just need to try harder. What was it that you were trying to cast anyway?"
Ron shoved the book at Harry, saying, "The Flinging Hex."
Harry looked over the hex that Ron was trying. It looked interesting enough. It would fling someone back a few feet if attempted correctly.
"Let's try together then, shall we?" encouraged Harry.
"Flipendo!" Both of them said together.
"See, it's not working," said Ron angrily.
Harry frowned and looked over the hex again, carefully checking over the proper elocution required.
He tried again. This time he was rewarded with a slight bluish blur that hit one of the odd benches in the room, shaking it ever so slightly.
"How the bloody hell did you do that?" exclaimed Ron.
"Just followed the direction, that's all," said Harry.
"Yeah, I was doing the same, wasn't I? It didn't work for me."
"Well, keep trying then, I'm sure it'll work" said Harry. "I'm gonna look over some other spells."
With that Harry flicked his wand and muttered the Flinging Hex again. This time a stronger spell broke out of his wand hitting the bench and rattling it somewhat.
Ron groaned. "How come this is so easy for you?"
Harry shrugged and replied smilingly, "Maybe I'm just good at this. Just like flying."
Harry turned back to his book and began reading on the Jelly Legs Jinx. Ron in the meanwhile began casting the Flinging Jinx almost manically trying to get his wand to react at the very least.
To Harry, the Jelly Legs Jinx was proving to be rather difficult unlike the Flinging Hex and Tongue-tying Jinx.
His nearly a score of attempts so far had yielded no result. The best he'd managed was a slight whisper of the spell for a fraction of a second. But when he had tried to repeat it, it did not work.
Harry looked back at Ron, who was softly snoring away, lying prone on one of the benches. Ron had managed the hex once; the result had been rather violent with an upended bench being flung half-way through the class. Quite happy at his powerful display of magic, Ron had chosen to reward himself with a short siesta.
Harry rolled over his eyes and began practicing his spell again.
It was almost time to go. Harry had to admit his plan to pick up some curses before the duel had not been a waste. He had managed the Tongue-tying Jinx rather well, even his attempts at Jelly Legs Jinx was beginning to show some results. He had for the last hour and half trying his hand at the Body Bind Jinx – a spell that would snap the victim's body rigid taking away any ability of locomotion – but with little success. Harry found the spell to be quite fascinating. As such, it was a shame that he had not been able to cast it properly. He resolved to practice it again later.
All in all, he had learned two spells during the half-a-day's worth of time. Well, three actually if he considered his attempts at Ron's Flinging Hex. Not bad at all and he had fun learning the spells.
Harry kept telling himself that he need not know several curses, all he required was to hit Malfoy with a single Tongue-tying Jinx and he'd be done.
Harry sighed, he was still rather nervous about the upcoming duel.
Checking the time, he decided it was best to get started for the Trophy Room. Half-an-hour was all that was left till mid-night.
He shook Ron's body who groaned loud in deep slumber and swatted away his arm.
"Get up, Ron," shouted Harry near Ron's ear.
Ron gave a startled jump and looked around here and there, before his eyes fell on Harry.
"What's up?" he said sleepily.
"It's time, we have to go," said Harry.
"Already," murmured Ron, rubbing the sleep off his eyes.
"Yeah," said Harry.
"Alright then." Ron lazily got off the bench, gritting his teeth against the sharp audible kinks that had developed in his body after sleeping for three straight hours on a hard and narrow wooden bench.
Harry grabbed his bag and dumped the library books inside, before shouldering it and motioning for Ron to follow.
They quietly shuffled out of the classroom, Harry checking the ends of the corridor for any teachers or prefects doing rounds. Finding it abandoned, he quickly moved out of the classroom, Ron following close behind.
With muted but hurried steps they began tracing the path to the Trophy Room in the third floor.
Carefully checking the corners before they stepped into a new corridor, Harry and Ron made their way to the Trophy Room.
The Trophy Room turned out to be a fairly large square room filled with glass cases that encased various medals and shields awarded to meritorious students.
"He's not here, yet," said Ron.
Harry, who was looking around the room carefully, nodded. "Yeah." He checked his watch. "It's still ten minutes to mid-night though."
"What if he doesn't come?" asked Ron.
"Then we tell everyone how he chickened out on a duel that he challenged me too," said Harry.
Ron gave a large smile. "Yeah, that will show the poncey git, too afraid to show his face to a duel that he called for."
Harry was not sure what he would have preferred best. He thought that it wouldn't be too bad if Malfoy didn't come, he could just go back to dormitory and get some sleep. He was rather tired after all. He'd literally spent the last eight-nine hours studying and practicing magic.
On that other hand, he was charged to duel Malfoy and beat the snot out of him. He hadn't bothered to learn a couple of hexes and jinxes just for Malfoy to do a walk-out on their duel. Yet, his heart was thumping rather heavily in uneasy anticipation of the upcoming confront and his left leg was ticking nervously.
"You came, Potter," a snide voice spoke up from the entrance of the room. "Here I thought that you'd be too scared to come."
Draco casually sauntered into the Trophy room, followed on either side by his dumb companions.
"Look who's talking," Ron challenged back. "We've been waiting an hour for you to come."
"That's good then, isn't it," said Malfoy. "You should learn to wait for your betters. Your father would be so proud, that's what he does after all, doesn't he?"
Ron gave a growl of anger and made to grab Malfoy. Harry, however, pulled him back by the scruff of the collar of his robes.
"We'll see who's talking after the duel," said Ron.
"Don't worry, Weasley," said Malfoy, "After I've beaten Potter to the ground here, I'll be glad to show you your proper place in the world."
"I thought you came here to duel, Malfoy. Not to talk," said Harry.
"Eager to get beaten, Potter," replied Malfoy. "Well, if that's what you want."
Malfoy stepped up to face Harry. "Let's take positions," he said.
Harry and Malfoy took their spot in the middle of the room. Ron stood a few feet left behind Harry, just as Crabbe took his position on the right side behind Malfoy.
Goyle stood to both the boys immediate left.
"Wands at the ready, Potter," said Malfoy, taking his stance face-to-face with Harry and brought out his wand with an elegant gesture and held it in front of his face, perpendicular to the ground, in a manner that suggested that Malfoy was not holding a wooden stick but a sword in his hand.
Harry not knowing what that meant attempted to mimic Malfoy's action.
"Ow!" exclaimed Harry, as he almost poked himself in the eye with the tip of his wand.
Malfoy gave a derisive laughter. "Don't you even know how to hold a wand, Potter. Bloody disgusting!"
Harry scowled at him but remained quiet, he'd show him soon enough, when he would curse him thoroughly.
"We'll turn around, walk three steps; Goyle here will count and then face each other. Got it, Potter," said Malfoy.
Harry gave a sharp nod.
And with a sharp motion, both Harry and Draco turned around, with their backs to each other.
They waited a few moments for Goyle to begin counting.
"Goyle, start counting, idiot," muttered Malfoy angrily.
"Oh yeah," said Goyle slowly. "Sorry! One!"
Both Harry and Malfoy took a single step away from each other.
"Two," Harry heard Goyle say.
Harry took another step forward towards Ron giving him a small confident smile.
"Three," said Goyle.
Harry had barely put his foot forward, when Ron's face turned horrific. He looked at Harry with wide eyes and words were barely out of his mouth before Harry was already twisting to his left. "Move!" Harry heard Ron shout, and not moment later a yellowish spell frizzled past him.
Harry reacted almost intuitively; he flung out his wand straight towards Malfoy and cried, "Flipendo!"
A bright bluish blur missed Malfoy by an inch who was already shouting another curse.
"Morsus!" Harry heard Malfoy shout. Harry ducked below the curse, his heart thumping as the sizzling white spell passed right over his head, ruffling his hair. He jabbed his wand forward and muttered, "Flipendo!" once again.
The hex nicked Malfoy's left hand, wildly flinging it away from his body, twisting his body around and staggering him a few feet back.
Ron applauded behind him and shouted, "Yeah, you show him, Harry!"
Harry giving no regard to Malfoy's scream of agony pressed forward with a Tongue-tying Jinx.
Draco was lucky though, he'd grabbed his injured left hand and crouched down on his haunches, the jinx aimed at his face flew away through thin air.
Malfoy screamed in anger at Harry managing to get the first hit and gave a vicious jab of his wand muttering something that was unintelligible to Harry's ears.
Harry did not get a chance to react as a burning acidic sensation spread through belly.
Harry grimaced and grabbed his knees with both hands to keep himself standing on his feet. Warm tears of pain fell from his eyes. His abdomen was churning inside. He had no idea what Malfoy had hit him with.
Ron gave a distressed cry behind him and tried to cheer him on.
Harry looked up with scrunched up eyes at Malfoy who was back on his feet. Malfoy snarled at him and said, "You shouldn't have crossed me, Potter. I'll make you pay for it."
He waved his wand at Harry, who tried to avoid the curse but he hardly had time to move before it stuck him shoving him behind off-balance and he fell down on his back.
"No! C'mon Harry, get him."
Ron was roaring for Harry to get up and Crabbe and Goyle were wildly guffawing at his pain.
Harry looked at Draco from his prone form on the ground walking towards him. Malfoy smiled evilly at him and pointing his wand at Harry's face, said, "Morsus!"
Draco had, however, not seen the wand that Harry had surreptitiously kept held towards him. He'd also not noticed the jinx that Harry had mouthed the very moment that Malfoy did.
Harry was anticipating Malfoy's curse and was able to avoid it by rolling to the side, Malfoy, however, was not even aware of Harry's clandestine Jelly Legs Jinx.
Harry rolled around completely just in time to watch Malfoy's eyes widen in fright as he awkwardly fell down in a heap on the ground, his legs refusing to support his weight.
Harry did not wait and immediately hit Malfoy with the Tongue-tying Jinx, this time getting him good with it.
Malfoy looked at him haughtily and jabbed his wand violently attempting to curse Harry back but all that came out of his mouth was a load of spittle. Malfoy tried to voice something but instead it looked like he was trying to blow raspberries.
Still prone on the ground, Harry burst out laughing, before groaning a second later and clutched his still churning stomach.
Ron though roared loudly with laughter and taunted, "Who's the better now, Malfoy, eh?"
Malfoy looked at Ron with utter hatred in his eyes. He looked back at Crabbe and Goyle standing behind and violently motioned with his wand towards them before jabbing it towards Ron and Harry.
Harry's eye widened as Goyle charged towards him.
Harry tried to curse the hulking boy but Ron interrupted, running straight towards Goyle and tackling him before he could get to Harry.
Seeing that Ron and Goyle was busy trying to pound each, Harry immediately shifted his wand towards Crabbe, who was also gunning for him.
With remarkably quick wand-work, Harry caught the running boy with a Jelly Legs Jinx, ensuing in Crabbe taking a nasty tumble, slamming head first into the ground. Harry jabbed his wand towards the boy and mimicked Malfoy's last curse, "Morsus!"
Harry was surprised when a sizzling grey light answered his casting and hit Crabbe's face, mutating it wildly. Harry watched in wonder as Crabbe's face deformed and grew grotesquely.
A scream and a muttered groan from Ron shifted Harry's attention from the effects of the spell on Crabbe back towards Ron's scuffle with Goyle.
Goyle was large and had managed to pin down Ron, slamming his meaty fists into Ron's gut and face. Harry did not waste a second; he cast a Flinging Hex straight towards Goyle's body on top of Ron.
A bright bluish blur broke out of Harry's wand and caught the stout boy by the side of his chest and flung him off Ron's prone figure and sideways into a glass cabinet that housed a number of awarded shields.
Goyle's body crashed into the glass cabinet breaking it to pieces and creating an unholy sound, disturbing the silent night.
"You all right, Ron," asked Harry, still lying on his back.
"Yeah," he said standing up on his feet. Ron crossed the distance between them and gave Harry a helping hand.
Harry grabbed Ron's hand and stood up, wincing as his stomach agitatedly protested.
They gave quick look over the three fallen Slytherin's. Goyle was out cold, Malfoy was blowing violent raspberries at them, Ron snickered at Malfoy's condition and even Harry smiled. Crabbe was face down on the ground, his head turned imitating an oversized craggy melon, the skin wrinkled and stretched. It looked as if he had been the victim of infinite bee-stings that was only possible if he had stuffed his head inside a bee-hive.
"What did you hit him with?" asked Ron curiously.
"Dunno, some jinx Malfoy was trying to get me with," replied Harry vaguely. "We should get going. Filch has got to hear that crashing," said Harry, pointing towards Goyle's body.
"Yeah, let's go," murmured Ron.
They quickly made their way out of the Trophy Room, Harry stopping just to kick Malfoy in the gut twice. It felt good when the roles were reversed and Harry wasn't the one lying on the ground getting kicked by Dudley.
They quickly made their way out of the Trophy Room only to come face to face with Filch's cat, Mrs. Norris.
Ron gave Harry a look of fright. If Mrs. Norris was here then surely Filch can't be far. Harry not waiting to see if Filch was anywhere nearby and not wanting the cat to warn its master, whipped out his wand and muttered the first thing that came to his mind. "Petrificus Totalus!"
The few times he had tried the Body Bind Jinx he had only met with failure, but this time astonishingly enough it worked and the cat's body snapped together before falling over limp.
"Run!" screamed Harry to Ron.
Not wasting another second the duo broke off in a wild sprint running through the corridors of the Hogwarts pell-mell. Harry grimaced and clutched his protesting stomach but did not lag behind Ron. He kept on running knowing full well that if he got caught it would result in some ghastly detention.
They only came to a halt only when they reached the Fat Lady's portrait.
The portrait of the Fat Lady, which seemed to have been sleeping, woke up at the sound their running.
"What were you doing out so late?" It shrieked.
"Never mind that," mumbled Harry and announced the password, "Balderdash!"
"Hey!" it tried to resist futilely, but the portrait was already moving away revealing the entrance to the Gryffindor dorms.
Both Harry and Ron stepped into the common room at the same time and were met by the angry face of Hermione Granger.
"Why were you two out breaking curfew?" she demanded angrily.
"What does that matter to you?" Ron demanded.
"You could have lost Gryffindor points. We work so hard to win the points and you go ahead and lose them. You'll lose us the points I won off Professor McGonagall for knowing the definition of switching spells."
"Well, we didn't lose any point, okay. Why don't you just go to sleep?" said Harry amicably.
"Yeah, why are up so late anyways? You haven't been waiting for us, have you?" asked Ron tetchily.
"I was going to stop you from going to that stupid duel with Malfoy," she harped.
"What?" Harry asked. "How'd you even know that?"
"I overheard you in the Great Hall," she replied.
"Yeah, well, we weren't duelling, all right. Now go to sleep," snapped Ron, trying to move past her, Harry attempting the same thing beside him.
Harry tried to get around her, but she strafed right in front of him. After she did it the second time, Harry snapped angrily, "What do you want?"
"You've been fighting, I can tell," she said bossily, "You look all messed up. Your robes are filthy and there is that bruise on Ronald's forehead and you seem to be clutching your stomach."
"Well, I have a stomach ache, all right, now move aside." Harry grabbed her by her arm and pushed her blustering form to the side.
Harry walked straight to the boy's dormitory, Ron following behind him, when Hermione interrupted from behind.
"I'll tell McGonagall that you were out fighting," she said angrily, her eyes narrowed.
Ron was about to snap back in vehemence but Harry beat him to it. "Go right ahead. But then you'll lose the points that you earned Gryffindor."
With that parting shot, Harry slipped into the dorms.
Too tired to change into his sleeping clothes, Harry fell down languidly on his four-poster bed. He was asleep a minute later.
Professor Binns droned on in his usual dispassionate voice about some ancient bloodied Goblin war long since past. Half the students in the class were dozing, half-way between peaceful slumber and conscious wake. A few were considerably more alert than the others and were taking notes here and now disinterestedly, whereas a handful of students were using the professor's lack of attention on the class as a means to finish up some leftover homework.
"Where were you in the morning? I didn't see you in the Great Hall." Ron whispered beside Harry.
"Went to the Hospital Wing," replied Harry quietly, engrossed in a book that he was reading.
"Whatever for?" Ron asked.
Harry turned to look at look at Ron and frowned. "You know the curse that Malfoy got me with. It was still hurting come morning."
"What? Curse effects don't last that long. At least basic curses shouldn't."
"How'd you know?"
"What did you tell Pomfrey?" asked Ron.
"Nothing. Just that I ate something that didn't suit me and I'd a terrible stomach ache. She gave me a potion to drink and I was fine a few moments later."
"She believed that."
"Yeah, it was a stomach ache, after all. No reason not to believe."
Harry nodded and went to his book.
Ron interrupted him again a few moments later.
"Did you hear about Malfoy?" Ron asked with a large grin.
"No," said Harry. "What happened?"
"Filch found them last night in the Trophy Room all banged up," said Ron with evident joy. "And listen to this, they got a month long detention and fifty points taken off Slytherin from each of them," he finished with a wide grin on his face.
"I was kinda worried that he'd tell on us, but Malfoy didn't say anything," said Ron slightly frowning.
"Of course he wouldn't have," said Harry assuredly.
"How can you tell?" Ron asked.
"C'mon, he is not likely not to tell everyone that he got beat up by me," said Harry confidently.
Ron nodded slowly. "Yeah, that makes sense."
"What're you reading anyway?" Ron asked Harry suddenly, who had gone back to his book.
Harry sighed at being interrupted again and closed the cover of his hefty hardbound book to display the gold embossed title—The Noble Art of Duelling.
"Why're you reading that for?" Ron asked. "It doesn't even have any hexes or jinxes."
"It's interesting, y'know," said Harry eagerly. "Did you know that duelling began in Greece more than two millennia ago? The wizards their held a contest twice a year find the most powerful sorceror. Those who won were honoured as being the strongest wizard. It says here," said Harry reading from the book, "that duelling in Greece was the most primal form of the art and since then it has evolved in various many forms of tournaments. From the brutal and not so legal duels held in the underbellies of Transylvania to the organised competition of the German duelling circuit," said Harry enthusiastically.
"The form of duelling that Malfoy called for last night. You know, facing each other and then turning back and walking a short distance is popularly used mainly in England for honour duels. Though it seems such duels have been banned for a while now in Great Britain," said Harry consulting his book.
"Sounds boring," said Ron shrugging.
"It's not really," said Harry, "It tells you everything you need to know about duelling. The complete history of duelling."
"History is boring," muttered Ron, and went back to doodling in his parchment.
Harry smiled at Ron and went back to his book. He was reading about the history of duelling in England, about the legacy of duelling within the pure-blooded wizards. It was custom, a heritage that they carried and passed down the generations. For them duelling was all about honour, a rite of passage that every wizard passed through before they could be considered as adults.
Harry found himself thinking that even if he wasn't a proper noble pureblood, for whom duelling had all been about nobility and prestige, as the book said; he was still born a wizard and he found that he really enjoyed it. Harry couldn't deny himself the thrill that he'd felt last night when he had duelled Malfoy. The thrum of the adrenaline, the sharp sting of excitement, the pounding of heart, everything within his body had screamed its delight at the fast-paced temperament of duelling. And Harry, despite the injuries sustained had enjoyed every second of it. And when morning came he wanted to go about it again.
Duelling hadn't felt as natural as flying had to him, but in that, Harry found the charm. It wouldn't have been as invigorating to Harry if it had been all easy.
And for the first time in his life, Harry found within himself the want to do something, to become someone, an ambition – to be a great duellist.
Author's Note: This was just meant to be a start to the story with getting Harry to realise just how cool duelling is and for Harry to have a substantial amount of interest in the sport instead of Quidditch.
The story remains a one-shot for now as an alternative take on the first year duel. But I have plans to extend this into a proper story, which may or may not materialise. That is not going to happen until I finish A Story of Hallows and Horcruxes and The Potter Politics and complete a few other one-shots that are in various degrees of completion, Fool's Gold, being the one that's almost complete.
Also, this story was entered in the DLP's inaugural monthly awards, in their January's General themed contest. I did not win, but I was happy enough to be able to finish this up in time to participate.