Hey guys, first of all: Real life has me firmly in its grasp and I just can't seem to find the time to write at the moment. That's why it will take a while for me to update the story. I'm hoping that I have the time around Christmas to finally continue without having to worry that I'm neglecting my studies. But, I'm not heartless and the few minutes I do manage to get free are spent writing. This is the reason for this rather short chapter... it's not complete, but I decided to upload the first part and will continue to update it until the final version of chapter XI is ready! Hopefully that compromise agrees with you (:
Btw: 1008 Favs, and 1163 Follows! I'm mighty proud of those numbers, so let me thank you again for your support, your criticism and your fellowship of the story (=
Magicks of the Arcane
Hogwarts - 24. June 1995
It was something he had never felt before; a thrill he learned to love the moment his eyes zeroed in on the golden, splendiferous cup atop the marble pedestal in front of him. The intoxicating sense of victory shone in his eyes, poured out of his very being, consumed him like it had never done before, and left a tingling sensation throughout his body. He recognized it as his magic and smiled. It was just as eager as him to finally lay claim to the prize they had fought for – hand in hand, like a well-oiled machine they had worked, relentlessly at times, and in the end their efforts were worth it.
Step after step, and with each he took the cup came closer and the feeling of anticipation rose.
One step, his nostrils flared and he could nearly smell how is hard work finally paid off.
Another step, his eyes gleamed with unnatural power and he saw his reflection on the cup's surface. Soon it would be his. Eternal glory indeed - not the empty promises all those politicians spoke off, but a personal sense of glory that exceeded everything else.
A third step. Something was off, and he felt sensations of a different, of a conflicted nature, warring for supremacy. It stopped him in his tracks, because it wasn't the feeling of victory that prevailed in the end, but something else. The nearly drunken haze he had found himself in subsided and with it the emerald glow In his eyes. Then he heard them:
Drums of war, thundering in his ears like the angry Bicorn had done just minutes ago. They were noisy to point of deafening and he heeded their advice, their warning of the incoming danger.
'That you suddenly entered the tournament wasn't a coincidence. Something will happen soon, most likely during the third task as I can't protect you then. Whatever you do, be very careful in the maze.', the words of his headmaster ran through his head like a mantra, and he certainly saw the wisdom in them. The phoenix feather wand glided easily into his hand. His eyes narrowed to slits, taking in everything around him, observing the area, analyzing what could be seen.
In mere seconds the roles had shifted; the hunter became the prey.
The dome that suddenly enclosed a substantial part of the maze bathed the area in blood-red light. It closed him in, it defined the playing field... but despite the situation's gravity his face remained uncharacteristically bloodthirsty. He knew that something was wrong with him, that no human should feel excitement for the prospect of a fight to the death, but he didn't care. He didn't allow himself to care, for being excited was better than being scared, and that was what counted when all words were spoken, all possibilities for a peaceful solution exhausted.
The faithful wand felt his anticipation and angry sparks of lightning escaped its tip. Voldemort, Trolls, Basilisks, Bicorns... he had beaten the odds many times before, against humans, against creatures – in the end it didn't matter. He would make sure that this time was no different.
The hedge to his right rustled.
"Incendio!", the spell missed its target, the fire-resistant hedges didn't even burn.
His adversary had finally shown itself, and his eyes focused on the cause for this year's misery, taking in the ugly, disfigured face perched atop the equally hideous body.
"Professor," he said and twirled his wand, a habit he had acquired over the last weeks. "I could say I'm surprised, but then again... it would be a lie. Reducto!"
The spell bounced off of a shield he didn't recognize and crashed into the endless rows of hedges, obliterating a part of them.
"I'm still your professor, Potter. For all you know I could be here to help you."
The words were mocking and the smirk on Moody's face just beckoned him to lash out in righteous anger, but the drums of war still resounded in his head, overpowering every emotion but the few useful to slay an enemy. He didn't react to the taunt, for everything that wasn't helpful to eradicate his foe drowned in the mad symphony of war and bloodshed.
The fiery arrows buried themselves deep into the ground, and Moody, who had sidestepped them with surprising agility, let loose a plethora of spells. Some of them with incantation, some without, but all looked deadly even if Harry recognized only a quarter of them.
He twisted and turned, he parried and shielded – it was a completely new experience. He should have been frightened, but oddly enough he wasn't. A duel to the death, not with a nearly mindless beast but with an intelligent adversary... an opponent of equal or better skill... it was exhilarating!
His speed aided him in another risky maneuver to avoid two different spells of sickly yellow color, and he found a small time frame between the barrage to unleash his own magic.
"Hasta Glacialis! Petrae Ictui!"
The professor seemed unperturbed as he moved his head to the right, avoiding the spear of ice, and took a step backward, letting the bolder sail by harmlessly, but Harry noticed the barely perceptible narrowing of his eyes, the tiny adjustments in his stance. That he had even found an opening, as small as it had been, had surprised the man.
The spectators were confused, Fudge in a frenzy, Fleur and very few others worried as the headmaster and some professors broke out into a run towards the maze. Just seconds ago, the monitoring devices had stopped working and the view became fuzzy, changing the atmosphere from excitement into something that couldn't quite be grasped.
It took few but valuable minutes until Dumbledore arrived at the edge of the dome, having blasted and magicked his way through every obstacle without breaking his stride. It left the people that accompanied him in awe, as they had problems following him when they hadn't even anything to do.
"Albus, what is this?"
McGonagall sounded frightened and she had every right as it was, once again, one of her lions that found itself in mortal peril. The headmaster didn't answer and continued to wave his wand through the air, his face a mask of concentration. The stern professor was shocked to see small beads of sweat trickling down the man's forehead after just a few seconds.
"Albus?", she asked again.
Dumbledore didn't turn around, his eyes steadily fixed on the red dome when he answered. "Wards. Strong wards. Hopefully Harry has the sense of mind to call Hedwig."
"Hedwig? But, Albu-"
"Don't waste time, Minerva! Get people here that can help! Hálfdan, Salvoski... anybody!", he grunted out and attacked the ward with new vigor. It were only five minutes until the professor returned with several experienced wizards in tow, but to the headmaster it felt like an eternity. A sigh of relief escaped him when the strain lessened considerably and the other dignitaries worked alongside him. They were silent for the most part, but the questions in their looks were undeniable.
Hálfdan was the first to break the silence, and while his wand was in motion he asked the question that was on everyone's mind. "What happened, Albus? The tombs of our most cherishes ancestors don't have this kind protection..."
"I fear it's- Watch out!"
Amelia who had arrived seconds after the dignitaries reacted instinctively and back away. She barely avoided the angry red sparks that lashed out, disintegrating the pieces of her cloak they managed to reach.
"Careful Madam Bones, these aren't wards that Aurors are likely to encounter in their careers." Stigr said, his eyes never leaving the red magic in front of him. "You were saying, Albus?"
"The most likely culprit is either Voldemort himself, or one of his henchman. I'm not sure though, how he managed to set this up."
"Voldemort? I assumed he is dead."
The Supreme Mugwump didn't answer, but his steely expression was unmistakable.
"Anyway," Salvoski said, "let's concentrate on the matter at hand. This could take a while..."
Minerva McGonagall dreadfully regretted that she had never taken any interest in warding as she watched them break, or trying to break the red dome.
Harry didn't reply, but it irked him that the man in front of him was right. Despite all his training, his incredible advances in magic, he wasn't sure if he would be able to kill the professor. The thrill hadn't lessened, but slowly the thirst for victory started to mix with the strong will to survive. It was bad, it made him hesitate at moments he shouldn't and gave his enemy more space to work with.
He ducked under another spell and quickly dove into a roll to avoid the purple light that rushed toward him. It sailed over his head, missing by inches, but he felt it. Oh, he definitely felt it, and the hairs on his neck rose as another cutting curse grazed his cheek.
He needed an edge and he needed it fast!
"Furvus! What's up, Potter? Fragosus! To scared to speak?"
It was a close call to avoid the first spell, a beam of nothing but pitch-black color, but he didn't got away in time to dodge the second one. It cost him and with a cry, half in pain, half in fury, he stumbled two steps and crashed against the pedestal that held the cup.
There was no time for large sequences of diagnostic spells, but he didn't need them anyway. It took no medi-witch to know that the spell had broken his left hand.
Something felt wrong though, aside from the obvious, and his eyes frantically searched the area for the reason why his enemy's face was one giant smirk. Moody swished his wand and the cup rose above him. The cup? Why the cup? For a moment he thought that the professor wanted to bash his head in with the useless piece of metal, but that didn't make sense.
Ideas, possibilities, his mind was coming up with reasons in a frenzy, and when his train of thoughts finally reached an end he didn't like it at all. It took all of his willpower not to cry out as he leaned to the left, straining his broken hand, to avoid the cup that was most likely a Portkey to god knows where.
It landed an inch away from his body. No time to waste!
With a gust of wind the cup sailed away, and he allowed himself to smile as he saw how the professors face twisted into a mask of pure rage.
"Not like that, professor."
He jumped up, the adrenalin cursing through his body momentarily numbing the pain in his hand, and faced the man that looked about to explode.
"Percutere! Sagitta! Debiles Fulmen!"
Moody's rage had made him lessen his caution and Harry took the precious few seconds to initiate a string of attacks that heralded the second round. Spell after spell crashed into shields, swords, knives, arrows, all kinds of weaponry was transfigured and their remains littered the battlefield.
It was a truly sick kind of dance, completely disfigured in its function as one moved, jumped, and ducked with grace and agility while the other held his place, never moving, firm like a rock, but with decades of experience to back up his arrogance.
"Animatus Bellatorius! Conduro!"
His shield broke again and he quickly sidestepped the incoming spell, transfiguring a small pebble into the mighty stone warrior he had used during the first task. Animation and hardening charms at least gave it the possibility to make some damage.
A few seconds later the statue wasn't standing anymore, but knelt in front of Harry to give him value seconds to catch his breath. So much for that idea...
The third round started and even after they had already fought for what seemed like hours, the intensity hadn't lessened one bit. It might even have risen above a level Harry thought possible.
"Agumenti Scutum Tholus!"
He had high hopes that it might work as it had done against the Bicorn, but Moody didn't even twitch when he countered with a greater drying charm, leaving nothing that could be turned into ice.
"This is taking too long, Potter. Fragosus! Ignem Aestifer! CRUCIO!"
He avoided the bone breaker, and was nearly consumed by hate when he saw the fire of darkness that had burned his familiar not too long ago, but what really worried him was the Cruciatus curse. If that hit him it would be game over. He didn't want to use Hedwig, felt that it would cheapen his win and lessen the excitement, but if he had only that option or visiting Voldemort... With naught but a thought, Hedwig flashed in above him and he reached for her feathers.
Moody let out a bloodcurdling scream and yanked his wand around, slightly altering the path of the Crucio. It hit his familiar head on, and once again Harry felt a kind of rage flood him that was going beyond simple feelings of hate. He quickly assaulted the professor, his wand spitting out spells at the rate of a modern machine gun, while Hedwig lied twitching on the ground just a few feet away.
The crescendo of violence was at its peak when the fourth round started, but he had no intention to drag the fight out any further. He had an idea, and if it worked, he might be able to best the professor despite the odds that stood against him.
It worked! During a short lapse of attention, Harry got in the two spells that were the most important ones out of the probably twenty he had fired over the last few seconds. Moody's peg-leg froze to ice and was instantly shattered once the Reducto had hit its mark.
He ached all over, his breath was labored, the pain in his left hand and various large gashes returned, but he finally smelled superiority. The professor's expression was twisted and hateful, but he didn't care. The victory was his, he just knew it as he wove his wand, intending to finish the bastard off in fiery inferno that would surpass even the legends about hell itself.
Harry jumped back, but became confused when the two accio'd items didn't sail toward him, but straight into Moody's hand.
His cry of fury echoed over the now empty field. Moody had left with the cup, a bloody knife held victoriously in his hand.
AN: Only 2,5k words x_X I felt like I wrote a lifetime on the first part... Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it so far! Leave reviews if you want, and if not I'm not bothered either :P