A.N. Once again, a special thanks to Meghan at TDA who made this great Image!
When I arrive in the Great Hall on Tuesday morning, it’s almost empty except for a flock of owls that sit patiently on the Gryffindor table. And Romulus who waits for me at the Ravenclaw table. As I go to reach him and sit in my usual spot, I notice that every single pair of eyes, human and owlish, follow me. I suddently become very aware that my ears are warming up.
“Hey Rom,” I tell the owl, patting its head lightly. “You’re pretty busy this week aren’t you?”
“Hoot,” it sings in what I consider to be a tired note.
“I know,” I nod, “I’m betting the challenger of the day made you sleep here didn’t he?”
“Hoot,” it answers.
“Got it, you can go and sleep now. And thanks,” I manage to take the letter away from Rom.
“Hoot,” Romulus hoots, nibbling my fingers a bit before taking off.
“Yep,” I say out loud when I open the letter, “I was right.”
“What are you saying?” A sweet voice says next to me. Darn, Lily has come for information. I have to learn to lie in the next minute.
“Nothing much,” I shrug, filling a bowl with porridge. Nicely done
, I tell myself, I managed to avoid the first question.
“Right,” Lily sits on my right side and Eliana on my left. I’m surrounded. It means I’ll surrender quite soon. “I notice you’ve just receive a letter; is it to inform you of the next duel?”
“Maybe,” I answer vaguely. Again, nice dodging skills, Hugo
“That’s what it was yesterday morning. And the day before as well,” Eliana lays tons of jelly on a piece of toast, “so who is it this time?”
“Why do you want to know?” I ask them, trying another strategy to get them of my back. “Don’t you like the mystery of it all?”
“Yes but I’d rather be on the loop,” Lily shrugs before taking a bite of toast. “I’ve asked pretty much everybody and only the boys refuse to answer which leads me to believe that only them are involved.”
“So five duels then,” Eliana answers, “well six with Lucy.” I’d rather stay silent now and let them figure it out. At least that way, I won’t live with the shame of betraying all the males and risk being the only one getting killed by Teddy in the end. Yes, I still think that this is a possibility.
“I wonder why she got to be involved,” Lily pouts a little, “I would have loved to be in as well.”
“Maybe because she technically is the sister-in-law.”
“Or maybe because they needed a representative of Uncle Percy’s family,” Lily shrugs it off, getting back to her sweet and happy personnality.
“So we’ve had Al and Lucy so far and we know it’s only boys left,” Eliana resumes, giving me a nudge but I stay still, fixing a point in the wall and refusing to join in the conversation.
“Yes, that leaves James, Louis, Fred and you, Hugo,” Lily says in her sweet yet poisonnous voice but I refuse to hear it. “So far, they’ve all played to their strenght too,” she continues, “Al is a great beater and Lucy’s a walking stomach.”
“What are the others going to do then?” Eliana questions in a tone that makes me want to shout the answer but I resist. I am stronger then that. Or at least I wish I were. “Fred is the easiest, even I know that. He’ll challenge Killian to a good old duel.”
“I agree,” Lily nods and I want to nod as well. Fred’s been captain of his dueling team for two years and he is one of the best of the school; he definitely has a good chance of beating Killian. “James and Louis are tricky though. They are good at a lot of things but not ‘great’ at anything.”
“Are you implying that Al is a better beater than James?” I ask before mentally cursing at myself. I failed and the cheeky smile on Lily’s lips confirms it. Now that I’ve started talking, I won’t be able to stop again.
“No, I was just thinking that since Killian already won a beater challenge, I don’t think the same challenge will come twice. Especially since you now know that he’s a pretty good beater.”
“Makes sense,” Eliana and I say, looking at Lily suspisciously. She rarely comes to conclusions this fast; this must preoccupy her a lot for her to give it this much thought.
“You, on the other hand, are pretty easy to figure out,” Eliana tells me. I must look very surprised because she rolls her eyes at me, “you’ll play chess.”
It makes so much sense that I almost burst out laughing. For three days now I’ve been racking my brains trying to find what to confront this seventh year with and my friends find it in a second.
“What makes you say that?” I ask them nonetheless, a sudden feeling of fear creeping up. What if he is actually good at that as well? What if I’m not up to the challenge and lose; how will I ever recover from this? How did Al and Lucy deal with being beaten at the things they are best at?
“Please Hugo, there isn’t anyone that can beat you in the whole school; it’s impossible,” Lily rolls her eyes at me and I feel a bit better; at least they are confident in my abilities.
“Who’s taking the stage tonight?” Eliana asks suddently.
“Fred,” I answer without thinking and groan as I let my head fall on the table. They grin madly and high-five each other over my shame-filled head.
Once again, my cousin raised the bar. When I leave the Great Hall to go to double potion class, I realise how Lily and Eliana knew that the duel would happen at nighttime. The corridors have been plastered with posters summoning Killian Earhart - and inviting everybody else interested – to the Great Hall tonight at 7 pm.
For the entire day, this is the only subject of conversation among the student body. Everyone is now aware of the relationship between Molly and Killian as well as the reaction of Molly’s family. Most people aren’t surprised and find it’s very much our style to do so. I wonder if they mean that we are protective of our girls, good pransksters or simply crazy.
At six thirty, I walk into the Great Hall with Eliana and our assumption is confirmed. The space is empty of its usual tables and seats and the official dueling platform stands in the middle of the room. A good part of the school is already there and pressed around the edges of the table. Being little second years – or at least Eliana is – we pass through the crowd and make our way to the edges as well. I notice people letting me walk through easily and I wonder if they think I’m the one that will be challenging Killian tonight. No guys, I’d get killed in a duel against a seventh year. Use your brains a bit; I might be smart but I am still just a second year. I’m using their wrong conclusion to my advantage though and get a front spot easily. Most of my cousins are there already and I stop next to Louis. I notice Lucy is still glaring angrily at Louis; perhaps the bug-sausage was true afterall.
Quarter till seven. I think the entire school is here. Once again, they managed to get everybody’s attention. I’ll never get that. Or maybe I will, considering people will be very interested in the challenges by then. Mine will be boring though; not many people understand the interest and challenge of a brilliantly played chess game.
Five minutes till seven. An excited buzzing raises through the crowd and along with everybody, I turn toward the door. I only see a tall boy’s back and short mousy hair. Clearly, my spot isn’t so great right now. It doesn’t matter though because soon enough, the crowd opens up and, walking hand in hand with their heads held up high like a king and queed, Killian and Molly arrive.
The moment they stop, there is a commotion at the door and the crowd’s people quickly turn their attention away from the couple. I’m guessing Fred has arrived because once again, I only see backs and heads. A ringing silence falls on the room as Fred walks through the students and up on the platform for everyone to see him. He looks around at the crowd and quickly finds Killian. Pointing a finger at the older boy, he begins his opening speach in a loud voice.
“Killian Earhart, thanks to your naughty girlfriend, you managed to win again Lucy Weasley yesterday in a Hot Dog Eating Contest,” Fred says and I can’t help but agree with him as well as being impressed at how serious he sounds. This is so not Fred. “It is now my turn to challenge you to a Classic Wizarding Duel right here and now.”
“And why is that? What will is prove?” Killian asks as he gets up onto the platform. He smiles cheekily at Fred and it’s obvious Fred is holding himself to not respond to his smile. Killian is now officially playing along with us. I like this guy; he didn’t shy away from it all.
“Every single Weasley is known for his bravery and great fighting skills. Should you become a member of our extended family, you need to show that you will be ready at all time to fight for your life and the ones of your family,” Fred says and I wonder if he excludes me from that speach. I’m not brave, I’m the only one that isn’t a Gryffindor. Does it mean one day I’ll have to prove myself to my cousins? Oh crap.
“Killian Earhart, do you accept the challenge in order to prove that you have what it takes to keep on dating Molly Weasley?” Fred asks. In answer, Killian takes out his wand with a decided grin.
“Of course I accept.”
The crowd cheers at this answer and I join them happily. This guy is definitely growing on me. I don’tknow who I’m rooting for anymore. In a way, I want Fred to win because he is great. But in another, I want Killian to win because he really seems like a great guy for Molly. If he wins, that means there will only be two challenges left before it’s my turn to face him. Right now, I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. Doesn’t matter, the challenge is starting.
A tall, dark haired girl named Mirabella Greengrass-Doyle walks up on the platform and gets between the duelers. She’s a seventh year Slytherin and is the official referee of the Hogwarts’ Dueling Club. She is fair and knows the rule book by heart so it’s a good choice.
“This duel will be a level 4 type,” she says after casting a sonorus charm on herself. “This means medium, verbal curses meant to distabilize, confuse or hurt to a small extend. Should you use a non-verbal curse, an illegal curse or cause your adversary to bleed or fall unconscious, you will be disqualified. I may decide to end the duel or the contenders can do so themself if they feel like they can’t continue. The other duelist has to respect that; is that clear?”
“Yes,” they answer in unisson.
“Both duelist shake hands and take your position,” Mirabella tells them. When the two boys are standing at oposite ends of the table, getting into fighting position, she backs up on a special spot outside of the dueling lines. “On the count of three, you will fire your first spells. One.”
The crowd is still silent, expecting the duel to be some sort of amazing show. I realize that people have been silent since Fred arrived over 10 minutes ago. I wonder if any teacher has ever achieved that.
Fred reajusts his hold on his wand; a smirk plays on his lips. He looks like he’s enjoying this as much as we are. I can actually feel the excitation of the people behind and around me. Fred Weasley is one of the most exciting minor duelist I have ever seen and I’m pretty sure the rest of the student body feels the same. He isn’t just good, he’s creative and always comes up with the most unexpected tricks to beat his adversary.
I hold my breath, getting ready for the first spells to be cast. Killian licks his lips nervously. He twitches his wand a bit and I wonder if he knows how good Fred is. I wonder if he fears that this might be the deal breaker. He didn’t look like he was taking Al or Lucy seriously. Could be because they are younger or simply because he thought they were pulling his leg. Either way, he never looked as much focused as he is now. He is scary like that; I can definitely see why he gets along well with Molly.
“Now!” Mirabella shouts and the entire crowd take a deep breath at the signal.
Fred moves faster and casts the first spell; a simple expelliarmus
which Killian blocks effortlessly. He doesn’t have time to drop his shield though before Fred attacks again and again. Clearly, they have very different style of dueling. Fred keeps on sending different spells to his adversary; testing him and observing his reaction to know what destabilizes and what is useless. Killian on the other hand acts defensively; he watches his adversary’s approaches and attack style in order to find the flaws. After Fred sends 6 consecutive spells at him, Killian suddenly drops his shield and the real duel begins.
!” Killian shouts and a long, rawhide whip bursts out of his wand, instantly crossing the distance between him and Fred. Fred rolls over to the right and with one knee still on the floor he points his wand and attacks again.
“Reducto!” Killian’s shoe starts getting smaller and judging from his face, the foot inside the shoe has kept its size. In a swift motion, Killian kicks away the child-sized shoe while casting a shield to block Fred’s incoming expeliarmus
!” Killian sends a yellow light at Fred who, once again, jumps out of the way, still keeping his attack position. I wish I had reflexes like that, it’s impressive.
!” Fred shouts. Killian dodges. “Flipendo
!” He shouts again, this time touching his adversary. Killian is knocked back violently; flying backward in a distance of over 6 feet before falling on his behind. “Rictusempra
Killian starts laughing histerically, still sitting on the table. Fred walks closer to him, ready to send the ending spell. Through his laughter though, Killian manages to point his wand at Fred and sends an expeliarmus
spell to distract him before immediatly casting the anti-jinks on himself. That was some swift move; I’m impressed and Fred looks like he is as well.
!” Fred shouts but Killian moves out of the way just in time. Good thing too, that would have been gross.
!” Killian shouts and his stinging jink hits Fred on the left shoulder. Without missing a beat, Killian shouts again. “Ventus!
” and a large air spiral hits Fred on the chest, knocking the wind out of his lungs and the wand out of his hand.
“Stop!” Mirabella shouts, jumping between the two boys. Killian still stands in fight position while Fred is on all four, trying to catch his breath. “The winner is Killian Earhart.”
The crowd goes wild as Killian, although breathing heavily, throws both arms in the air. Next to me, Molly whistles loudly at her boyfriend. She looks so proud of him, it makes me happy for Killian. Looks like he isn’t working for nothing; they seem to really love each other.
“Killian Earhart,” Fred says in an unsteady voice after he gets up on his feet, still looking for his breath, “you have won the third challenge.”
“Thanks mate,” Killian shakes Fred’s hand happily, “that was the best duel I had in my life. But if I can give you one bit of advice, it’d be to protect your left side a bit more; you always gave me an opening of about a second after every spell you cast.”
“Really? Thanks, I’ll work on that,” Fred smiles at his adversary, “and it was one of my best duels as well.”
It was a great duel for us as well. Fred really did give out his best and honestly, he was the better dueler out there. His spells hit the mark almost everytime and he has a great defense when it comes to dodging and getting out of the way of incoming spells. But Killian noticed the flaw and that’s what makes him the best. It’s also what made him win the beater duel against Al. I guess this is one of his great quality I should be worried about when my time comes.