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Chapter Seven: Harry vs. Draco
Harry greeted his two best friends as they descended from the stage, hand in hand. "Good job, mate," he whispered so only Ron could hear.
"I don't even know what really happened," said Ron bemusedly.
"And you'll never find out," said Hermione firmly, and they all laughed.
"I say we go watch McGonagall duel the Creevey brothers," said Ginny, tugging on Harry's arm and pointing to the stage at the very center of the Great Hall.
"Did you just say what I thought I heard you say?" said Harry in disbelief.
Ginny nodded. "I know. Colin and Dennis challenged a professor. Professor McGonagall, no less. Come on, if we don't hurry all the good seats will be taken." And she dragged them all off to watch the reluctant Transfiguration professor duel the overly enthusiastic Creevey brothers.
"And now, Colin and Dennis Creevey versus Professor Minerva McGonagall!" shouted Fred, looking absolutely delighted. "Come on, come all, to observe this once-in-a-lifetime event!"
"There's no need to lasso an audience, Mr. Weasley!" said Professor McGonagall, looking thoroughly miffed.
"You're going down!" squeaked Dennis. Colin elbowed him in the ribs. "Professor," Dennis added.
McGonagall closed her eyes briefly, her nostrils flared.
"Are the duelers ready?" said Fred, beaming.
"Yeah!" shouted Colin and Dennis enthusiastically. McGonagall glared at Fred.
"Alright then…on your marks, get set, and duel!" Fred blew on his whistle and quickly put up a Shield Charm to protect himself against the Creevey brothers' wayward spells.
"You get her left side and I'll get her right! Go, go, go!" shouted Dennis.
"Dennis!" Colin muttered. "What did I tell you about keeping our strategies unknown to the enemy?"
"Oh, right! Sorry, Colin!" squeaked Dennis.
"Never mind that! Watch out!" Colin tackled his little brother and McGonagall's spell sailed over their heads.
"Stupefy! Stupefy!Stupefy!" Three jets of red light issued from Dennis' wand. All three missed their intended target and instead knocked out three of Dennis' third-year friends.
"Remember what we practiced!" shouted Colin, shooting a Stunning spell of his own that McGonagall spryly dodged.
"I'm trying!" said Dennis, screwing up his face in concentration. "She's just too good!"
"Precisely why I am your Transfiguration Professor!" said McGonagall with a tone of finality. In a second she transfigured Colin into a hedgehog and Dennis into a guinea pig.
"Our lovely Professor McGonagall has just won her house, Gryffindor, ten points on a ten-point scale! Colin and Dennis Creevey, those two brave Gryffindors, have earned four points apiece for simply having the nerve to challenge such a distinguished witch!"
Professor McGonagall finally cracked a smile, gave two swift curtsies for her cheering audience, and then drew her robes around her and left to retire for the night. Colin and Dennis scampered after her and nipped at the hem of her robes before she remembered to transfigure them back into little human boys.
"Who's going next, Fred?" called out Ginny.
"Funny you should ask, little sis," said Fred, checking the long scroll of parchment that was hovering in the air above his head. "Because Romilda Vane has just challenged you."
"That's right!" said a furious voice. The crowd immediately hushed as a magical spotlight focused on a dark-haired girl.
"Romilda?" scoffed Ginny. "Whatever for?"
"For stealing my Harry!" Romilda shrieked. Harry wished he could hide under his Invisibility Cloak.
"He was never yours!" Ginny shot back, her temper flaring up.
"Oh yeah? Well--well--" Romilda stuttered, her comeback failing miserably.
Ginny stuck out her tongue. "Still want to duel, dear Romilda? I'm game!"
"What are you waiting for then?" snapped Romilda. "Let's go!"
"After you!" said Ginny. The two girls ascended the dueling stage, bristling with anger.
"Ready, get set, and DUEL!" said Fred, blowing on his whistle.
"Expelliarmus!" cried Romilda.
"Protego!" said Ginny just in time. Without skipping a beat, she shouted, "Salado!"
Romilda screamed when she felt something drip down from her hair onto the bridge of her nose, thinking that it was blood. But it tasted suspiciously like…
"Salad dressing?" wailed Romilda. "In my hair? I just got it fixed!"
"I love a good garden salad, don't you?" said Ginny cheekily.
Romilda glared at her. "Praemium!"
Ginny dodged the spell easily and both girls watched, fascinated, as it hit Millicent Bulstrode instead. Millicent screamed her head off as she began to inflate like a balloon, rising up into the air while Pansy tugged at her ankles in vain. Harry suddenly had vivid memories of his Aunt Marge floating above the Durselys' dining table. He grinned.
"Stupefy!" cried Romilda, trying again. Ginny, her attention focused on Millicent, was caught unawares. She fell to the floor, unconscious.
"Ha!" Romilda crowed, raising her wand to destroy her redheaded enemy. "Suppr--"
"Expelliarmus!" someone roared. Romilda looked up in surprise as her wand flew out of her hand and landed with a clatter on the other side of the Great Hall.
"Interference!" she screamed. "Punish him immediately!"
Harry appeared on the stage, standing over a stirring Ginny. "No one Stuns my girlfriend," he said, his bright green eyes narrowed at the dark-haired girl who burst into tears and ran off the stage.
"Oh!" said Hermione, sighing. "How gallant of Harry to defend Ginny like that."
"I'd protect you, Hermione," said Ron, slightly disgruntled.
"Of course you would," said Hermione, beaming.
Harry had lifted Ginny off the stage and was coming towards them again. "Listen to me, Ginny," he was saying seriously, "if that Romilda Vane girl attacks you again, let me know and I'll hex her personally."
"I can walk, Harry," said Ginny, giggling. "And thanks for the offer, but I do have a Bat Bogey curse up my sleeve at all times."
Suddenly, the lights in the Great Hall dimmed ominously. There was a rumble of thunder and a flash of light. "And now," said a deep version of George's voice. "Ladies and gentlemen, the duel you've all been waiting for. They've been enemies since day one, and now they'll battle it out in front of everyone. I give you…the duel of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy!"
"Draco! Draco! Draco!" the Slytherins began to chant.
Not to be outdone, the Gryffindors joined in with, "Harry! Harry! Harry!" Their combined voices created such a deafening din that Professor McGonagall came running back into the Great Hall, wearing a tartan bathrobe over her tartan nightgown.
"POTTER! POTTER! POTTER!" the Gryffindors roared, drowning out the Slytherins completely.
Ginny kissed Harry full on the lips. "You'll win. I know it."
"Remember, Harry," said Hermione, her voice urgent. "Don't lose your head. Malfoy will try to get to you but only because he's a nasty little git. You're a thousand times better than he is."
"Go on, mate," said Ron, thumping him on the back. "Crush him like the ferret he is."
Harry nodded. "See you guys in a bit."
There was a new eruption of cheers as Harry arrived at the stage and stood before a very smug Draco Malfoy.
"Ready to die, Potter?" said Malfoy snidely.
"Not in a million years," said Harry venomously, glaring at his worst enemy (save for Voldemort, of course).
"On your marks…get set…and DUEL!" shouted Fred, his magnified and deepened voice echoing around the Great Hall. The crowd erupted into cheers.
"I'm surprised you didn't drag the Weasel up here to be your human shield," said Malfoy menacingly as they circled each other like hawks.
"Even if you hid under Goyle's bulk I could still blast you to pieces," said Harry in reply.
"As if…but enough chit-chat," sneered Malfoy, raising his wand. But before he could even open his mouth again Harry had acted.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry caught Malfoy's wand with his left hand, grinning.
"Accio wand!" cried Malfoy. To Harry's surprise, Malfoy's wand slipped out of his hand again.
"Insectum transfigurare!" shouted Malfoy, causing Harry to do a sort of belly flop off the stage in order to avoid the jet of light.
"Cushio!" Hermione screamed, saving Harry from a few broken ribs.
"CHEATER!" Malfoy roared, absolutely livid. He looked around at George, who looked back innocently.
"Silencio!" shouted Harry as he struggled to get back onto his feet.
Malfoy couldn't speak, but he was furiously mouthing the words, "Get back here and fight, you coward!"
Malfoy jumped off the stage, landing in an almost ninja-like way. Harry immediately scrambled to his feet and ran out of the Great Hall, aiming curses over his shoulder. He dodged another jet of light and left the Great Hall, skidding to a stop behind a large stone pillar.
"Where are you, Potter?" he heard Malfoy say in his drawling voice as his footsteps came to a halt. "Hiding from me, aren't you? Well then--"
"Oculus rufus!" said Harry, jumping out from his hiding place. Malfoy gave a cry of pain and held one hand up to his left eye.
"Profaneosis!" said Harry, while Malfoy was preoccupied with his red eye.
The sound of stampeding feet told Harry that their audience had followed them to their new dueling location. A frantic Professor McGonagall led the way.
"Boys!" she reprimanded, straightening her hat. "You must take this duel back into the Great Hall, or you'll destroy the entire school!"
Malfoy told the professor to shut up, followed by a string of swearwords. The crowd gasped.
McGonagall drew herself up to her full height. "Pardon me, Mr. Malfoy?" she said angrily.
Malfoy told the professor to stick something up something that Harry did not hear the rest of, since he had plugged his ears. But since his eyes were still open, he saw the rude hand gesture that Malfoy threw in to reinforce his cursing.
"Fifty points from Slytherin!" McGonagall said, clearly offended. "And three weeks of detention with Mr. Filch!"
"F--" Malfoy began when Harry decided he had had enough.
"Finite," he muttered, his wand pointed at Malfoy.
"But professor!" Malfoy protested. "I don't deserve this! I wasn't thinking properly!"
"Obviously," said McGonagall, miffed. "Now continue your duel with Mr. Potter."
"POTTER!" Malfoy shouted, whipping back around to face Harry, who was leaning against the pillar nonchalantly.
"Remember me?" said Harry sarcastically.
"You just got me three weeks of detention, damn it!" said Malfoy angrily.
"Have fun scrubbing those bedpans. Anyway, crawlus pedair!" shouted Harry.
"Tiratina!" Malfoy shot back, before dropping down onto all fours due to crawlus pedair.
Harry felt strange tingly sensations shoot up his spine and down his arms and legs. He began twitching uncontrollably.
"Petrificus totalus!" yelled Malfoy, ignoring the pain in his knees. Harry managed to fling his body out of the way. The twitching subsided. He looked up to see his enemy fight off the Crawling curse and sprint away up the marble staircase.
"Who's the coward now?" yelled Harry, jumping to his feet and chasing after Malfoy. His years of practice of running from his cousin Dudley had finally proved to be useful. He quickly caught up with Malfoy on the third floor.
"Stupefy!" said Malfoy desperately, evading capture for another second or two.
Harry jumped out of the way and the spell hit a painting instead. The painting exploded, causing the dumpy old witch to squeal and seek refuge with a horse in a meadow.
"Petrificus totalus!" said Harry, and swore out loud when Malfoy dived sideways into a tapestry concealing a hidden passageway. He skidded to a stop to take stock of the situation.
For all he knew, Malfoy could be hiding on the other side, waiting to curse him. But then again, Harry wasn't the son of one of the four Marauders for nothing. He knew precisely where this secret passageway led.
Harry ran back down the way he had come from, ignoring the crowd that had followed him up three flights of stairs.
"Go Harry!" cheered Ginny. He could see Ron and Hermione jumping up and down, waving at him. He gave them a thumbs-up and continued sprinting down the corridor.
He slowed down, panting, and crept around the corner just in time to see Malfoy tumbling out of another tapestry.
"Expelliarmus!" shouted Harry, taking Malfoy completely by surprise. Without waiting for his reaction, he ran back toward the staircase, making wild hand motions at the onlookers. The majority of the crowd understood what he was miming and created a path for him to run through. The Slytherins stood in his way. He mowed them down with a few well-chosen hexes.
But Malfoy was gaining on him, and he was losing energy. Without thinking, Harry jumped onto the banister and slid his way down, his heart threatening to leap out of his chest.
When the wild ride was over, he looked up to see Malfoy try to do the same, except Malfoy misjudged his leap and missed the banister completely. As if in slow motion, Harry watched his worst enemy fall through the air.
He didn't need anymore time to think. "CUSHIO!" he roared. He heard Hermione shout the same spell and saw her leaning over the railing, her wand pointed at the blond Slytherin. Malfoy landed with a soft thump and staggered to his feet, completely bemused and disoriented.
Harry stared him down as he tossed Malfoy his wand back. Malfoy caught his wand and then muttered something, his gaze focused on the ground.
"I'm done. You win, Potter." And then he turned on his heel and stalked away.
Harry felt a small sense of triumph as he watched his enemy walk away and allowed the swarm of cheering Gryffindors to lift him onto their shoulders in celebration.
Ginny caught his eye as he was put back down on solid ground. "You did the right thing," she whispered.
He nodded, gave her a hug, and then turned to Ron and Hermione, who were shouting at each other.
"Why'd you have to break his fall? Harry had it covered!" Ron was saying.
"It was a reflex!" Hermione said back angrily. "I couldn't let him die!"
"He wouldn't have died," Ron mumbled. "He might've broken his head though, which I think would be a good thing."
"Drop it," said Harry harshly.
Ron looked defeated. "Fine. But you better beat him when you duel him, Hermione. You better beat him bad."
"Oh, don't worry about that," said Hermione, cracking a smile. There was certain gleam in her eye that Harry usually associated with her resolve to ace all her final exams. "I will."
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