The Challenge

Rating: T

Summary: Crack! Inspired by watching Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series this weekend. Harry decides he doesn't want to skip his seventh year and hatches a plot to destroy the Dark Lord before September 1st.

-Linebreak-

Harry Potter was ready. He'd been carefully preparing since he returned from Hogwarts, to find an odd stack of cards on the desk in his room. There'd been a note from his cousin beside them.

Harry, it began,

I nicked these off a firstie at Smeltings, but they're boring and I don't want them. They've got some stuff that may be of interest to you, though, so I'm leaving them in your room.

-Dudley

He'd looked over the cards, some of which he saw had names featuring the words 'magician' and 'sorcerer' and others that were specifically 'magic' cards that had some effect on the game played with the cards. Curious, he'd gone to Dudley's room for an explanation, which resulted in the two cousins spending their first quality time together ever looking on the Internet for information about the cards.

It turned out they were cards for a game called Yu-Gi-Oh!, and the boy Dudley had nicked Harry's deck from had been one of the top 50 duellists (the word for people who played with the cards) in the whole UK. Their research had led them to an anime, which Dudley flat-out refused to watch. Harry, thirteen episodes later, grew bored and stopped himself.

As the month progressed, Harry decided he wasn't going to flee Privet Drive on his birthday. Voldemort would surely come for him, and then Harry would have him right where he wanted him.

Naturally, the Order of the Phoenix was skeptical of Harry's plan, especially considering that it centered around "a children's card game." Harry's plan was, in fact, met with such little faith that the Order pressured the Dursleys into hiding despite Harry's assurances that it would not be necessary and that everything would go on as normal once August rolled around. Mad-Eye Moody, displeased with Harry's plan, provided him an unregistered Portkey to "a safe-house" that Harry could activate at any time once he "came to his senses" and realized his plan was ridiculous. Harry had simply dropped the Portkey into a pocket and forgotten about it.

Now, he was 17, and there was a veritable army of Dark Wizards outside surrounding his house and waiting to curse him into oblivion. He'd seen Voldemort at the end of the walk, a predatory gleam in his eye and a casually indifferent disposition while he waited.

"Potter," he shouted at a quarter to three. "I know you're in there. Are you that afraid?"

"Well," Harry shouted, cracking an upstairs window but not presenting himself as a target, "you lot do outnumber me by about ninety-to-one!"

"Oh, come, Potter," Voldemort said. "You should know better than to think I would allow my servants to curse you, when I have reserved harming you for myself and myself alone."

"You just want an audience, then?"

"Oh, of course. Some of them even brought cameras to record your defeat."

"Well then. Lord Voldemort, I challenge you to a duel!" Harry said, throwing open the front door and stepping outside.

Voldemort's wand was up instantly, but he stopped and had a curious expression when Harry did not draw his own wand, but merely held up a stack of ... cards?

"You misunderstand me," Harry said with a grin. "Lord Voldemort, I challenge you to a children's card game...to the death!"

Every Death Eater laughed.

"What is the meaning of this?" Voldemort demanded. "Draw your wand and fight me like a wizard, Potter!"

"Oh, don't be ridiculous," Harry said. "We both know there's no way of me defeating you in a fair fight, so why bother? I'm proposing that we settle our fight through a simple children's card game that neither of us have played before, with the stakes being that the winner gets to live and the loser dies. That sounds perfectly fair to me."

"Well then, Potter, if you've thought this out so much, how do you expect either of us to hold each other to the stakes? I can Apparate away, and I'm sure one of those snivelling fools in the Order provided you with an escape Portkey."

"I, Harry James Potter, swear on my life and magic to drop dead if Tom Marvolo Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort, defeats me in a simple children's card game," Harry said. As he finished, a white pulse emanated from his body.

Voldemort scowled.

"I, Tom Marvolo Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort, swear on my life and magic to drop dead if Harry James Potter defeats me in a simple children's card game," he repeated, as the white glow emanated from him as well to show that the oath had taken hold of his magic.

"Now, Potter, just how the hell do you expect me to play this children's card game with you? I haven't got any cards."

"The game shop on the high street sells them," Harry said, with confidence, having been in there last week to make a few last-minute tweaks to his deck. "You'll need about fifty, so buy six packs, or a pre-made deck and one pack."

"Very well, I will return momentarily," Voldemort said. "None of you are to bother Potter until I return."

The Death Eaters looked disappointed as their Lord and Master disapparated.

"So..." Harry said. "How about those Holyhead Harpies?"

-Linebreak-

Voldemort reappeared on the High Street of Little Whinging. The game shop was thankfully only three storefronts down from where he'd arrived. He took two steps towards it when he realized he had no Muggle money, and no idea how much he would need. But that problem was easily solved. Pointing his wand towards a nearby cafe, he whispered "Accio tips."

A stream of money (mostly five pound notes, with a few one and two pound coins and fifty-pence pieces scattered in) floated across the street into his robe pocket. Hoping it would be enough, he stored his wand and walked into the shop.

"I need some children's trading cards," he said to the shop clerk.

"Back shelf," the man replied in a bored, disinterested tone, only barely glancing up at Voldemort.

"Why aren't you trembling in fear of my visage!" the Dark Lord asked, expecting this Muggle to be wetting his pants in terror.

"Because the anime con is in town and I've seen way scarier things than you today. Hell, compared to the furries, you're pleasant-looking," the clerk said with a shrug. "Now are you going to go buy some children's trading cards or not?"

"Very well," Voldemort said, heading off to the back of the shop. Deciding that it would be best to let someone else do the grunt work for him, he decided to buy one of the pre-made decks (he selected the one with the evil-est looking man on the box) and one supplemental pack. He returned to the front and plopped his selections onto the counter, where the Muggle pushed some buttons on a machine.

"Fifteen quid, mate," he said. Voldemort dug around in his pocket and found three five pound notes, which he handed over. He would certainly keep the rest of the muggle money he'd nicked. Perhaps once Potter was dead, he'd take the Inner Circle out for ice cream.

Walking into an empty alley, he stowed his new cards in his robe pocket and Apparated back to Potter's front walk.

-Linebreak-

"There you are!" Harry said. "I was about to make tea if you'd been gone any longer."

"Yes, yes, now how do we play this stupid game, Potter?" Voldemort said, waving off Harry's babble. Potter flicked his wand and brought two card tables out of the house. Each table had twelve card-shaped spaces marked off, with a rune for "projection" marked on ten of them.

"First, take out your deck and shuffle it," Harry instructed, doing so in a very amateurish way. Voldemort unwrapped all his cards, cut in the nine cards from the booster pack and shuffled them like a professional cardshark.

"Then you place it on the lower right space and draw five cards," Harry instructed. "Actually, since you bought one of the pre-made decks, you should have a copy of the rulebook. Why don't we wait while you read it so you have an inkling of what you're doing?" Voldemort looked through his pockets and found a small pamphlet labeled "Rulebook" and started to read. Once he felt he had a suitable understanding of the rules of the game, he put it away.

Voldemort surveyed the table after setting his deck down and drawing his first five cards. "What's with the runes?" he asked.

"It's so we can see each other's cards when they're played," Harry said. "I got the idea from the anime. They use imaginary technology to project images of the cards, but we have runes for that."

"Very clever, Potter," Voldemort said. "Who goes first?"

"I do," Harry said. "We each get 4000 Life Points, by the way," he said, waving his wand. The number 4000 appeared in the air above both their heads.

"Now, each turn starts with the Draw Phase," he said, picking up a card from his deck and adding it to his hand. He surveyed his hand and smiled. "I place two cards face down and set a monster face down in defense mode. That ends my turn."

As he spoke, two card images appeared in midair before him, along with a horizontally-placed face-down monster.

"Very well, Potter, it's my turn," Voldemort said, drawing a card of his own. "I play two cards face down as well, and Summon Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier in Attack Mode, and I attack your face down monster!"

Harry chuckled as the representation of Voldemort's card launched a spear at his face-down monster.

"Reveal!" he instructed, flipping the card over on his table. "Unfortunately for you, Voldemort, your monster only has 1500 Attack points, while my Mystical Elf has 2000 Defense points. So that's 500 Life Points you just lost!"

The numbers above Voldemort's head reshaped themselves to read 3500.

"Very well, Potter, but you playing a weak monster merely plays into my hands. Activate Trap card: Coffin Seller!" the Dark Lord announced, flipping over the trap card in question to project it for all to see. "It may not be of use at the moment, but when I'm able to Summon a monster that can destroy that pitiful elf of yours, you'll lose Life Points no matter what position it's in."

"Hmph," was all Harry said. "My move?"

"Yes, I end my turn," Voldemort said. Harry drew a card and smiled.

"I'm afraid it's not going to get any easier for you to win this duel than any of our others, Voldemort," he said. "I play and activate the Ritual Magic Card White Dragon Ritual!"

The green card projected the image of a man in armor summoning something for the audience.

"By sacrificing my Mystical Elf, I may lose 300 of my Life Points to your Trap Card, but I get to summon the Paladin of White Dragon. And because it was a Ritual Summon, I also get to summon another monster: say hello to The Wicked Worm Beast!" Representations of both monsters were projected onto the front lawn of the Dursley home, and the number above Harry's head dropped to 3700.

"Now, my Paladin will attack your Soldier," Harry directed. Voldemort's monster was destroyed, and his number dropped to 3100. "And my Wicked Worm Beast will attack your Life Points directly!"

"Not so fast, Potter," Voldemort announced. "Reveal Trap! Rope of Life! By discarding my hand, I can resurrect my Spear Soldier and boost his attack points by 800, powering him up to 2300 attack points. I believe that means your Worm Beast is destroyed, and your Life Points take a hit."

Harry frowned as he moved his card to the Graveyard and looked up to see his Life Points down to 2800. "Very well, I play one more card face down and end my turn."

Voldemort drew, and as he read the card he let out a cackle.

"I summon Dark Jeroid in defense mode! Dark Jeroid's effect lets me choose a monster to weaken by 800 attack points, and I choose your Paladin, Potter. That reduces it down to 1100, more than easy enough for my newly enhanced Spear Soldier to destroy. Attack!"

"Sorry to continually disappoint you, Voldemort, but I'm afraid I can't let you do that. Reveal Trap: Shadow Spell! Your Soldier can't attack anyone until this card is destroyed, and on top of that it loses 700 attack points off that bonus you got it when you resurrected it."

"Blast!" Voldemort cursed. "Alright, Potter, then I end my turn."

Harry drew.

"First, I play the magic card Pot of Greed, which lets me draw two cards," he said, doing so and smiling. "I place one of them face down and end my turn."

"Pathetic, Potter," Voldemort sneered as he drew. "You didn't do anything to correct the problem of your monster being weakened and still in attack formation."

"Oh, don't you worry your scaly little head about my Paladin," Harry replied. "He'll be alright."

"That's what you think," Voldemort said. "I sacrifice my Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier to summon Gravekeeper's Visionary! That gives me a monster free from the shackles of your trap card who can destroy that Paladin and do a good deal of damage to your remaining life points."

Harry merely smiled.

"Now, my Visionary will attack your Paladin!"

"I'm afraid not," Harry said. "Reveal Trap: Mirror Force! This card negates your attack and destroys your Attack Position monsters. Sadly, you chose to keep your other monster in Defense mode, so you do get to keep him, but your Visionary is gone and my Paladin remains."

"Fine!" Voldemort snapped, frustrated as he moved his monster to the graveyard. "I end my turn, Potter."

Harry drew a card and laughed. "I'm afraid this is the beginning of the end for you, Voldemort. I summon Lord of D in Defense mode, and activate my Paladin of White Dragon's special ability: I sacrifice him in order to summon my Blue Eyes White Dragon!"

"How did you just summon two normal monsters in one turn, Potter?" Voldemort asked. "That's against the rules!"

"Screw the rules, I have money!" Potter shouted back. "Actually, the second summon was a special summon, and perfectly legal. My Blue Eyes just can't attack this turn, and that's perfectly alright with me, since I want to see you squirm a bit. I end my turn."

Voldemort drew a card with a pensive look on his face. "I play one monster face down in defense mode, and activate the trap card Skull Invitation. This way, Potter, each time either of us sends a card to the graveyard, we take 300 life points of damage. Now, I end my turn."

"Fine by me," Harry said, drawing his card.

"I play the magic card Card Destruction! We each have to discard our hands and draw cards from our deck to replace the number discarded. I don't have a hand, so this doesn't apply to me, but you have to discard two cards, which thanks to your own trap card means you lose 600 life points," he announced with a laugh. The ribbons above Voldemort reshaped themselves to read 2500 while he drew two cards.

"Now, I'll have my Blue-Eyes attack and destroy your face down monster!"

"Thank you, Potter, that's exactly what I wanted you to do," Voldemort said. "By attacking and forcing me to flip over my Gravekeeper's Spy, you've activated its effect. Even though your attack destroys it, I still get to special summon one 'Gravekeeper's' monster from my Deck. And I choose to summon Gravekeeper's Curse in Defense mode. His effect means that you lose 500 life points, Potter." Harry's ribbons reshaped themselves to read 2300, while Voldemort's dropped to 2200 as he sent his Spy to the Graveyard.

"I end my turn," he said, simply. Voldemort drew his next card.

"I summon Gravekeeper's Cannonholder in Attack Mode," he said. "And I activate his special effect: by sacrificing Gravekeeper's Curse, I can deal 700 more points of direct damage to your life points!" The ribbons above Harry dropped to 1600, and Voldemort's to 1900. "Now my Gravekeeper's Cannonholder will attack and destroy your Lord of D. That ends my turn."

Harry grimaced. He was down to 1300 life points thanks to Voldemort's trap card, and even Blue Eyes' 1600 point difference over Voldemort's attack position monster wouldn't guarantee a win here. He needed to draw a good card.

When he turned around the card he'd drawn, he couldn't help but shout. "YES!" he exclaimed. "I play Ookazi, dealing 800 points of direct damage to you!" Voldemort's ribbons dropped down to 1100, Harry's to 1000 as he discarded his magic card.

"Now, Voldemort, you leaving that Cannonholder monster in Attack mode is going to bring about your downfall. Any last words?"

"I can't believe I'm going to die because I'm going to lose a fucking children's card game!" the Dark Lord shouted.

"I like those last words," Harry said. "But really, is this any more ridiculous than Dumbledore expecting me to drop out of school and spend this year sussing out what you'd made into Horcruxes and where you'd stashed them before destroying them? Blue Eyes White Dragon, attack his monster!"

Voldemort's ribbons reshaped to 0000, and with an agonizing scream, the Dark Lord pitched forward onto his card table, a black smoke leaving his body and Harry's forehead before disseminating in the air.

The Death Eaters looked at each other in shock.

"Is that...it?" Draco Malfoy asked, taking off his mask and looking in shock at Harry and his master's body.

"Don't be a non-believer, Draco!" Bellatrix Lestrange shrieked. "The Dark Lord is immortal! I have an item of his that we can use to resurrect him!"

"Oh, I'm pretty sure he's dead," Harry said. "After all, the Horcrux in my scar disappeared when he keeled over, so whatever he gave to you is probably a plain old whatever he gave to you."

"YOU FILTHY HALF-BLOOD!" Bellatrix shrieked, advancing on him with her wand. "I'LL KILL YOU!"

Suddenly, the deranged witch, along with all the other Death Eaters, fell to their knees clutching their left arms and screaming with pain. Black smoke was coming off all of them as the bond between them and their master was severed by death.

Harry, seizing his chance, pulled out his wand and stunned them all before strolling over to Mrs. Figg's house and getting her to Floo-call the Aurors to pick them up.

The headline in the next day's Daily Prophet was POTTER KILLS DARK LORD WITH CHILDREN'S TRADING CARDS.

Fred and George promptly started carrying the cards in their joke shop, and they became one of their hottest-selling items (since a deck only cost 2 galleons and was generally durable unless you did something stupid like practice your Incendio charm on it).

Harry was given the Order of Merlin, First Class, and wore the medal every day at Hogwarts. As he expected, he got all the sex he wanted from girls he'd fancied and even a couple he didn't really but they were alright-looking and not Millicent Bulstrode. He eventually married and had a bunch of kids.

The Death Eaters all got chucked into Azkaban, except Bellatrix who "accidentally" got a heavy stone attached to her ankle chains and fell out of the boat to Azkaban. Some of them got out, some of them didn't.

The Muggles of Privet Drive all got Obliviated by the Ministry of Magic, and the Dursleys moved back into their house to find a Thank-you note for Dudley from Harry. Dudley didn't understand why his mother was even more clingy and nice to him than usual after reading the note that thanked him for helping to kill Voldemort, but as it resulted in more fizzy drinks and donuts for him, he didn't ask.

Fin