Chapter 5 : Dragons Awakening
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“Hear hear!” Jeremy says enthusiastically, as he, Scorpius and Alyssa clink their glasses with mine. We’re relaxing in our corner of the Slytherin common room, having sent the duelling club back to their houses twenty minutes previously. True to his word, Jeremy had come up with a new name for the group.
“I’m playing off the proud traditions and history of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” he begins dramatically. “The club will encourage initiative, leadership, ingenuity and learning through practical, applicable experience. Run by students for students, the duelling club is the latest frontier in continuing innovations in magical education, while still acknowledging the age-old roots of magic itself. Therefore, the name must incorporate aspects of the traditional wizarding world and of history, whilst also ushering in a new beginning for wizarding education.”
“You’re full of shit, Jem,” Scorpius says. “What’s the name then?”
“As a nod to our fathers—or more, the fathers of the likes of Rose—the name will be abbreviated to D.A, which stands for Dragons Awakening—taken from the translation of our thousand-year-old school motto and showing that we, the next generation, are rising up, and awakening.”
“You put too much thought into this,” I decide.
“You have too much spare time,” Alyssa concludes.
“I can fix that,” Scorpius offers.
“So long as it doesn’t involve the rest of us,” Alyssa says swiftly. “Specifically, so long as it doesn’t involve the rest of us, broomsticks, and a Quidditch pitch.”
“Now, Alyssa, where’s your team spirit?”
“Up your ass, Scorpius Malfoy.”
“Moving away from what’s up Scorpius’s ass,” Jeremy says smoothly, “You didn’t give me any feedback on the name.”
“We told you you have too much spare time,” Alyssa says.
“It’s a good name, bro,” Scorpius says. “Not sure if we got that across.”
“It was there,” Jeremy assures him. “I can read between the lines, see.”
Despite McGonagall’s warnings, I’m sitting up in the Entrance Hall at quarter to twelve on the evening of the fifteenth, surrounded by a number of other students for whom the sense of occasion was too appealing to pass up. We haven’t been sent away by any teachers—Professor Rochester, the Potions master, came past looking as though he was about to send us to bed—then pulled his voting form out of his robes and sat down with us. I’ve checked and double-checked my form and now content myself with crinkling and smoothing out the edges over and over again.
“Nervous?” Niall asks, watching me.
“Me? Nah. Glad I’m not around Mum at this point in time though.”
“Five minutes to go!” Al announces, pulling out his voting form as if preparing to shove it through the slot will take the full five minutes.
“You know we don’t actually accomplish anything by posting straight after midnight?” Scorpius asks.
“Then why are you here?” Alyssa asks.
“For Rose,” he replies simply, and I would be touched, except the minute hand has just passed the twelve and I leap to my feet like a scalded cat.
“I call first!” I yell unneccessarily, leaping across the Age Line in one motion and stuffing my voting paper through the slot. There’s applause from some of the waiting seventh-years as they get to their feet and squeeze into the circle around the box.
“Voting for your mum, Rose!” several people call to me as I escape the circle.
“So what now?” Scorpius asks, and in seconds Alyssa and Jeremy have caught up as well. “Raid the kitchens for some food? Hold a night-long vigil beside the box? Get some sleep?”
I glance back at the box, balling my fists in determination. “Writing Transfiguration essays,” I declare.
“Oh yeah,” Jeremy mutters. “How could we forget. Number one cure for stress is writing essays.”
“Shut up,” I tell him. “It’s due tomorrow morning.”
“Nobody’s gonna care,” Alyssa says. “It’s election day, and your mum’s going to win easily. Percy’s a git.”
“True,” I concede. “But I’m still writing essays. Or at least, I’m writing one essay then figuring something else out to do that’ll keep my mind off it all because I can’t sleep.”
“Lucky for you we planned for this,” Scorpius comments, holding up a tiny bottle.
“Wakefulness Potion, I brewed it up last week with this in mind. I’m sure you’ll get by on pure adrenaline, but the rest of us are gonna need it.”
“You’re pulling an all-nighter with me?” I ask, feeling genuinely touched.
“Yes. Now, I propose we go for a midnight fly,” Scorpius says. “And no, I don’t have an ulterior motive, I just like flying, and I’m sure you lot do as well.”
“As long as you don’t start commenting on our technique, I’m in,” Jeremy says.
“Likewise,” Alyssa agrees. “Though if you do, Scorp, I will hex you and you will fall off.”
“You wouldn’t do that,” Scorpius says immediately.
“On the contrary, I would,” Alyssa replies. “Think about it, our mission is to keep Rose’s mind off the election, and I’m sure half-dead boyfriend lying on the ground would work as quite a nice distraction.”
“Enough with the threats,” I interrupt. “Let’s just get out onto the pitch. If anyone asks—”
“We have a Head Girl, a Prefect and a Quidditch Captain, I think we’re good,” Scorpius finishes. “And an Alyssa, but she’s not important.”
“All right,” Alyssa says. “I won’t come to our first game, then. Good luck winning on goals alone.”
“Hit him where it hurts, that’s the spirit,” Jeremy says approvingly.
We spend a good three hours flying around the grounds of Hogwarts, having fun tapping on the windows of Gryffindor and Ravenclaw Towers and swooping down out of sight before the bleary-eyed students can see us. I have a feeling they’re going to be comparing notes about strange dreams come morning.
By mid afternoon, every student at Hogwarts and the majority of the staff have voted, and McGonagall informs us the results will be out by tomorrow morning.
“You’re not going to pull another sleepless night on us, are you?” Scorpius asks me that evening as the voting closes.
“No. But I’m going to be up at six in the morning to watch the results come in, I don’t care that it’s Saturday.”
“I didn’t expect any less.”
By quarter to six, I think half the school is in the Great Hall, sleepily gnawing on slices of toast the house elves have brought out for the occasion, dressed in pajamas and attention focused on the large screen set up on the wall above the staff table.
“Good morning, witches and wizards, and welcome to our coverage of Election 2024. The votes have now all been counted and the announcement of who will be the next Minister of Magic will be made shortly by outgoing Minister Kingsley Shacklebolt. As you are all aware, Minister Shacklebolt has been in the position ever since the fall of Voldemort twenty-five years ago and is now headed for a well-earned retirement. This year’s race has been a close one, with siblings-in-law Hermione and Percy Weasley going head-to-head in this election campaign. While we wait for the Minister’s announcement, our political reporter Helena Hunter reflects on the challenges facing the new Minister. Helena?”
“Yes, 2024 has proved to be a landmark year for wizarding politics in Britain. The new Minister will instigate a massive change; this has been the only handover of power since, of course, the fall of Lord Voldemort twenty-five years ago. Minister Shacklebolt’s are extremely big robes to fill, so it’s fair to say the biggest challenge facing the new Minister will be to fill those robes. The wizarding community has experienced arguably the best twenty-five years in recent history, and it will be up to the new Minister to ensure this continues.”
“Thank you, Helena, now it’s six a.m, and the Minister of Magic himself has just come out to the Atrium—you can see him there—surrounded by a number of his associate ministers and, of course, Percy Weasley and his wife Audrey, and Hermione Weasley and her husband Ronald. Of course, both minister hopefuls have children, but they’re at Hogwarts, so we won’t be seeing them this morning. Minister Shacklebolt has just stepped up to the podium—let’s hear what he has to say.”
“Good morning, wizarding Britain. It has been my humble pleasure and honour to serve you all as your Minister of Magic for the past twenty-five years, and even more so my honour to announce my successor. The election has been close and both candidates have proved themselves worthy, committed to the office of Minister, committed to making the big decisions, committed to progress, but most importantly committed to you, the people of wizarding Britain. I extend my thanks to both candidates for making the effort to campaign and put your names forward, however there can only be one Minister of Magic. Without further ado, it is a great honour to step aside and name as my successor, Minister of Magic-Elect Hermione Weasley!”
“WHOOO!” I scream, leaping up from my chair and pumping my fists. All around me, students are clapping and cheering, getting to their feet and letting off bombs of confetti and streamers. Jeremy raises a large bottle of Butterbeer to the ceiling as a large crowd swarms around me, shouting and hugging and manically waving Mum’s election flags in my face. I turn to look at the screen; the reporter’s gotten a close up of Mum smiling and wiping away tears.
“Rose, Hugo,” she says to the camera, “I know you’re watching, get to the Atrium now.”
“I’m in my jammies!” I shout at the screen, but my friends are already shoving me in the direction of the dungeons.
Rose and Hugo left amid much fanfare about half an hour ago; we watched them emerge from the Floo in the Atrium. Hugo looked overwhelmed but Rose was lapping up the attention, grinning at the cameras, answering questions and talking to us through the reporters.
“Now, students,” McGonagall calls, approaching the front of the hall. “It may be a Saturday, but you are still out of bed and in the Great Hall, and while I made exceptions for the announcement of the election results, that is over now, and you will not be permitted in the Great Hall in your nightwear from this point. You are still at school and while you are still at school you will wear your uniform robes.”
“Pretty exciting,” Lysander comments as he, Cameron and Molly join me on the way back to Gryffindor Tower.
“Yeah,” Molly mutters.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Lysander says quickly. “Your father lost.”
“I’m aware,” Molly says. “Though I suppose I knew he would lose, knew that ever since his first speech. Dad could make Wizarding War II boring—and he does—even though he fought in it.”
“You said it, not me,” I comment. I can’t help but agree—Uncle Percy’s idea of a fascinating conversation is regulations regarding the safe transportation of Bowtruckles. I had that conversation with him last Christmas, before Molly saved me by asking her father for money.
“I wonder what Hermione’s going to do as Minister,” Cameron muses. I have to stop myself relaying the conversation I had with Lorcan about sharing our classes with house elves.
“We’ll find out soon enough,” I say instead. “Dragons Awakening tomorrow night—you guys coming?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Cameron says emphatically.
“Who were you paired with, Cam?”
“Dominique Weasley,” he says dreamily.
“What?” Cameron asks defensively. “She’s hot!”
“She’s my cousin, shut up. What about you, Lysander?”
Lysander raises his eyebrows. “We were in alphabetical order and had to find someone with the same birth month as us.”
“Think for a moment, Lily. Just a moment.”
Oh wow, I’m stupid. “Lorcan.”
Molly scowls. “Yeah, and I had to go with Lucy. Sucks having a twin, eh?”
“What about you?” Cameron asks. “Who was that creepy-looking Slytherin you got paired with?”
“And kicked his ass?” Molly adds.
“Damascus Zabini, and I didn’t kick his ass, Rose kicked us both.”
“That was some intense magic,” Cameron continues. “I had no idea you could fight like that, Lily. Why did I have no idea you could fight like that? You’re bloody powerful, you know that?”
“I had no idea I could fight like that,” I say modestly, though inside I’m swelling with pride at his words. “I just got lucky, I guess. A fluke, Dad always says it comes down to mostly luck.”
“If you say so. Shame there are no wars going on, you’d be handy to have on our side.”
“Thanks, but as I said, it’s luck, not skill.” I’m lying now. I know I’m skilled, I know I’m powerful, and that knowledge is slowly eating away at the confines of expectation on my life. I’m a duellist. My mother was not a duellist, my father was not a duellist, my brothers are not duellists. It’s an identity I can own, and own I will.
“There’s even more of you!” are Rose’s opening words at DA the next Wednesday evening. “Damn, and I thought making you duel with strangers would scare you off a bit. Seeing as that was so popular, I’ll do another mix-up. Anyone who got an O in their Defence Against the Dark Arts OWL, step forward. See what I’m doing here, you’re more likely to be evenly matched! Now, out of you lot, I want you to duel with the first person you turn to with the same colour eyes as you.”
I turn around; beside me is a brown-eyed, black-haired girl I’ve seen on occasion around the school; all I know about her is that she’s a seventh-year Slytherin. Out of school hours she’s taken some liberties with the uniform; her eyes are rimmed with kohl and brushed with smoky eyeshadow; she has an intense look about her which gives the impression of power.
She doesn’t say a word to me; simply nods in acknowledgement and steps back, a movement that automatically seems to clear the area around us. I can’t believe I don’t even know her name; she obviously has a reputation, and the beginnings of fear cloud my mind.
My first assumptions are right; from the moment we begin to duel I’m kept on my toes, casting and blocking spells with a speed I never knew I possessed and even then struggling to keep up with her. She’s a whirlwind, darting back and forth and flinging spells with an almost reckless abandon that would have still hit me had I not blocked them. Not a sound has been uttered by either of us; proficient at non-verbal spells, we duel in an intense, concentrated silence and I can tell that this, like the duel with Damascus last week, will not reach a conclusion until Rose calls time. Until then, I decide, I’ll focus on surviving.
Time seems to drag on; I’m getting tired and I know my reflexes are becoming slower and slower but I press on, loathe to show any sign of weakness on my face. The girl shows no signs of slowing; flinging curses at me with as much speed as when we first started, and my attack dwindles down to almost nothing; I’m spending all my time blocking now, and I’m aware that half the DA is now watching us. Spurred on by this audience, I send a plethora of hexes at the girl, one after the other, catching her by surprise; she’s allowed her defence to drop. As she staggers backwards, I follow through immediately with expelliarmus and accio and stand triumphant, holding the girl’s wand as the hall erupts into applause.
“Damascus was right,” the girl says, holding out her hand, and I pass her wand back. “You can duel.”
She walks away, disappearing into the crowd. I still don’t know her name.
Rose dismisses the DA.
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