Chapter 1 : The Rules of Combat
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I did not use any direct quotes from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Everything you recognize is property of JKR. Everything you don't recognize is property of me. Stealing is bad for your conscience. Enjoy.
Harry had no choice but to pretend he hadn’t seen anything. After all, it certainly was no place of his to march up to Dean Thomas and rip him new one just for kissing Ginny. She was his girlfriend, Harry had to remind himself. He didn’t quite understand where this feeling of protection was coming from. He supposed it originated from being around her for so long, since she was his best friend’s sister.
His best friend’s sister. That was off-limits, Harry knew. He couldn’t date Ginny, even if she ditched Dean and even if she wanted to. He couldn’t even go near her with romance on his mind because she was Ron’s sister.
But, oh, was she pretty. She looked so much better with a long, red ponytail than Bill did. While he was inadvertently watching her and Dean share a personal moment in a deserted corner of a corridor, he couldn’t help but wonder if Dean appreciated her as much as Harry would. Were it him pinning Ginny Weasley up against a wall, his hands flowing through her hair, he would take in every contour of her face, every waft of a scent that drifted from her, every curve of her body. He would appreciate her, and judging from the way Dean nonchalantly, almost reluctantly, held Ginny, Harry was almost certain that Dean did not treat Ginny the proper way.
He deserved a good old-fashioned pop in the face, Harry decided as he walked the corridors alone, trying to erase the image of Dean’s face sucking on Ginny’s from his mind. But he certainly couldn’t just walk right up to him and punch him. No, there were rules for men who fought. Similar to the male code, the rules for fighting included but were not limited to: pulling hair, crotch-shots, name-calling, poking between the eyes, and slapping.
Those were the rules of combat for men. There was a certain code of chivalry that needed to be followed during a wizard’s duel, and, while it may not appear so, the same unwritten rules existed for physical, muggle fights. Most fights appeared chaotic to Harry, but really they were all supported by the foundation of the gentlemanly respect rules for fighting.
If there were no rules, Harry would really stick it to Dean Thomas. Disregard the fact that they were friends on paper. Disregard the rules of combat. Disregard the limitations of society. If Harry weren’t the Chosen One; if he weren’t afraid of the monumental consequences and what it would mean for the world, he would wring Dean’s neck. He would pummel him until he had no more blood to spill.
Harry found it difficult to pay attention to where he was walking and plot Dean’s demise at the same time. He stalked through the empty corridor, but he didn’t see where he was going. All he could see was Dean Thomas’s dark face, his lips pressed against Ginny’s pure ones. The image burned his memory.
All of a sudden, Harry heard a door slam, but the sound was muffled as though far away, and it echoed mysteriously. Harry stopped his march, put his dismal thoughts on hold, and listened for the source of the noise.
There. His left. The girls’ bathroom on the fifth floor, Harry remembered, was Myrtle’s bathroom. But there was a male voice coming from inside. Harry’s curiosity drew him to the open door. He expected for a moment or two that perhaps Ginny and Dean were inside and had found a new hideout. A fresh wave of jealous rage coursed through Harry.
He kept low to the ground when he looked through the door, and saw the back of a young, blond-haired man standing at the sink, his head bowed. Moaning Myrtle floated above him, cooing, “What’s the matter? You can tell me.”
The boy didn’t say anything at first, just made sounds and incoherent moans. Harry had to strain his ears in order to fully hear what was going on, and only then did he realize that the boy was speaking. “I can’t,” he was trying to say, “he said… he’ll kill me…” The boy raised his head and, simultaneously, he saw Harry’s face in the mirror, spying on him, and Harry recognized him as Draco Malfoy.
Malfoy spun around, the menacing look on his face driving him forward, toward Harry, but it could not hide the tears in his eyes and the color on his cheeks. He’d been crying, Harry realized. Draco Malfoy had been crying.
Harry tried to focus on the seriousness of the current situation instead of Malfoy’s display of human emotion as he hurried to his feet. He tried to get out of Malfoy’s range, but Draco was too quick. Before he could take his first step, Harry felt a cold, bony, long-fingered hand close over his mouth and another on his forehead - over his scar - yank him backward. Malfoy threw Harry to the ground when they were both in the bathroom, and he slammed the door that led to the corridor.
Instinctively, Harry reached for his wand, but Malfoy was already standing above him with his wand pointed directly at Harry’s heart. Malfoy’s face was taut and his arm was shaking.
“Potter,” he spat. “Always have to butt into everyone’s business, don’t you?” His voice cracked like a boy going through puberty having a temper tantrum.
Harry didn’t say a word. His heart was hammering in his throat. There really was no feeling quite as daunting as staring straight into the tip of a wand, without one of your own.
“You never learn, do you? No one ever thinks to teach something useful to the Great Potter, eh?” Malfoy looked as though he would start crying again at any moment. The knuckles on his wand were turning white. Harry could barely think with the threat of death centimeters from his nose.
Harry could feel that Malfoy was not bluffing; his threatening voice was genuine. The reality of the idea that these may be Harry’s final moments sank in all at once, and it propelled Harry’s insides with a rush of adrenaline. Without thinking and in one fluid motion, Harry swiped his hand upward without aim and smacked Malfoy’s wand out of his hand. The wand went flying and landed on the cold bathroom floor with a hollow plunk.
In the few sacred moments that Draco watched the trajectory of his weapon and protection, Harry grabbed a fistful of his robes and jerked on him, and he drove his opposite fist as hard as he could into Draco’s face. Harry had never punched anyone before, but the pain that spread from the tips of his fingers up through his arm was worth seeing Draco fall to the ground.
Harry got to his feet before Draco could, and there were a few moments that Harry had that Draco did not. But even so, he felt that he shouldn’t arm himself with his wand; the appreciation of battling Malfoy was better earned when he could feel Draco’s flesh with his own.
“Harry!” Myrtle shrieked. Harry knew he shouldn’t have but he turned to look at her out of instinct. Immediately a fist collided with his left cheek, and he tumbled backward. His glasses fell off his face with a light chink and he was frozen by utter fear for a few moments. His poor eyesight was a curse.
Before he could find his glasses, he found the ankle of his opponent. Malfoy grabbed the back of Harry’s robes and started to pull him up, but before he could complete the action, Harry yanked on Malfoy’s leg and pulled the balance out from beneath him. Malfoy crashed to the ground and was lying on his back in pain, silent save for one loud grunt.
Harry climbed on top of Malfoy’s middle and held him down with a knee on his chest. He didn’t need his glasses to drive a few good punches into the face lying beneath him, helpless. Malfoy’s breathing came less frequently in chokes and gasps. Harry noticed this change in Draco but he didn’t care. He wouldn’t be able to get away without punishment anyway, and Malfoy had no right to threaten Harry with a wand.
In a final surge of unspent energy, Malfoy shoved Harry with all his might. Harry was forced to let Malfoy free once more and a gasping breath of life could be heard as Harry was flipped over onto his back.
Malfoy didn’t wait for his breathing to stabilize before he jumped on top of Harry’s middle and took one hand to his forehead; the other was served in blows to Harry’s face. All of his body was pounding from the blood pumping through; his head felt like it would explode at any moment.
From the little Harry could see, Draco looked to be possessed. His already blurry vision started coming and going. He groped the floor, Draco’s wrists, anything. His legs kicked in attempts to thwart Draco, but to no avail.
Finally his fingers found a slender piece of wood. He gripped it with all he could and pointed it at Draco. He had no voice, but his mind was screaming, “Stupefy!”
Malfoy went flying from Harry’s body and landed on the other side of the bathroom with a loud thud, his head banging into a sink. Harry’s body was quaking, but he quickly staggered to his feet, his wand pointing at Malfoy.
Malfoy started getting to his feet, grabbing his own wand. Adrenaline pumped through Harry and he pointed his wand at Malfoy, ready to attack once more. He screamed with a shaking, cracked voice the first spell he could think of, “Sectumse-”
A blinding flash of green light spurt from Malfoy’s wand and hit Harry square in the chest. He was dead before he hit the floor.
The echo of the final screech reverberated around the bathroom and nearly deafened Malfoy. There was a stillness in the air that made Malfoy uncomfortable to breathe in. He couldn’t believe what he had done. The tears came unexpectedly.
He looked at the hand that held his wand and it was pale as death and trembling. He opened his fingers quickly and let his wand fall to the floor, half-hoping it would shatter.
There was a gasp that took Draco’s breath away. “What have you done?” said Myrtle, coming out from hiding in one of the stalls. She looked at Harry’s body with such sadness that it broke Malfoy’s heart.
What had he done? This was not his intention by any means. It was true that Draco Malfoy was not friends with Harry Potter, but never had he actually thought about killing him.
Malfoy couldn’t even bring himself to the door to call for help. He collapsed to the floor in his tears, for he was now a murderer. He’d killed a classmate, the Chosen Harry Potter of all people. Even for battles against enemies, Draco Malfoy had gone far beyond the limitations of the rules of combat.
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