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Chapter 12 : Dueling the Prince
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“I know some of you think you know the meaning of the word courage but I am going to prove you wrong.” These pompous words spilled from Professor Smith’s mouth like overripe bile and Albus had to ram his elbow in Scorpious’s ribs to stop him from bursting out with laughter. Their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was currently walking down a long, raised platform that looked about as old as Professor McGonagall by a few hundred years.
Today was their first ever Dueling Club lesson and while Albus and his two Misfit friends hadn’t exactly been looking forward to it for various reasons, he felt that they had worried for nothing. All they had done for the past half hour was stand with their Houses (Though the Gryffindor House had glared at the three of them until they had moved a little outside of the general group) in a musty old Muggle Studies classroom.
Since it was located on the fifth floor, Albus and his friends had had to literally hop onto the next moving staircase to make it in time. They had been almost late of course because Lavender had had her try-out for the Gryffindor House Quidditch team earlier that morning. Albus and Scorpious had shivered and sneezed out on the bleachers but by the time that Lavender had auditioned, doing wild and amazing moves all the while, they’d nearly forgotten about the Dueling Club.
It had come as a relief though, with all that had been going on. Albus and his friends had tried to find some time to talk about their next move and what they would do for Halloween but Professor Longbottom had eerily kept appearing around corners and once, he’d sworn that he’d actually seeped from the cracks in the corridor floor.
Their plans for finding out more about what Zabini was up to had been put, annoyingly on hold for a moment. And that nagging feeling that something was going to go; as it often did in his case horribly wrong kept prickling at the back of Albus’s mind.
He wondered if his father had ever felt this way when he and his own best friends were sneaking around looking for clues. But his father was Harry Potter of course so he found it highly unlikely that he’d had to worry about vampires, werewolves and the possibility of failing Transfiguration because of pink panties.
If they could somehow find out more about Zabini and what was out there killing the Death Eater kids, then Scorpious would be able to enjoy his first year at Hogwarts and Albus and Lavender wouldn’t have to worry nearly as much.
There hadn’t been any murders in a while, not since Rachel Travers and the Daily Prophet had made it more than apparent that even while there was a moment of inactivity, the killer would strike again. “Sure are cheerful, aren’t they?” Albus had asked in disgust before he’d tossed the thing at James’s head at breakfast yesterday morning.
“Well, they don’t really have anything to report, do they?” Lavender had asked with a worried frown.
Scorpious had been rather pale but he’d said grimly. “Not yet anyway. Not until I’m the big news,” Albus had shot him a look. His friend had lowered his voice until only he and Lavender could hear him, though James and Mason had looked awfully curious about what they were talking about. “If there’s a werewolf in the Ministry working with Zabini that they don’t know about, this might not ever be over.”
And there was the unsettling fact that Zabini might be a werewolf himself but Albus couldn’t quite wrap his mind around it. Why would someone go to that much trouble for Wolfsbane when it might not even work and cure them? There was something they’d missed but Albus couldn’t really figure out what it was, “It’ll be over once we figure out what Zabini is hiding on Halloween.” He’d said.
Before either of his friends could say something to that, Professor Longbottom had appeared (Elliot Thomas had choked on his slice of ham in surprise) and the conversation had stopped instantly.
It was pretty annoying.
The rest of that Friday had passed by without any major catastrophes (Some of them caused by the Misfits of course) and Albus had woken up on Saturday in a better mood. Lavender making it on the Gryffindor Quidditch team had been an extra boost and they’d trooped to the fifth floor Muggle Studies room confidently.
While there had been mindless chatter in the first few minutes mostly being caused by James and Mason mocking Louis the Prefect, it had all dwindled down a little by the time they’d caught Zabini glaring their way. He had stood with his own House, looking menacing and just plain mean while his students had eyed him with pure, uncontrolled fear (Goyle especially) and the Ravenclaws had been politely curious while the Hufflepuffs looked just as bored as Albus was feeling.
Professor Longbottom must have set up the stage that Smith was prancing on before they’d gotten here but Albus had heard him whispering to Professor Finch-Fletchley and Chang (They’d been looking rather uncomfortable), “We might get a lucky break if he falls.”
But that would leave them in the mercy of Zabini and Albus wasn’t sure which was worse. He would have felt more comfortable with Professor Longbottom around but he had started to irritate him by popping up so much and there was still the slight doubt that he might be working with Zabini.
Albus had known him forever and he refused to believe that. But he was a little worried about the fact that Goyle kept glaring at the three of them with his beady black eyes. He apparently hadn’t gotten over the fact that Lavender had beaten him up not too long ago and the fact that everyone still made fun of him for it didn’t exactly help, “Look at that prat,” Scorpious said to him in a carrying whisper.
Smith at that moment was puffing out his chest.
Lavender shot their moody blonde friend a glance. “Shush, you’ll get us in trouble!” but she was smiling. Then again, she was always smiling and hadn’t even been that enthusiastic about making the Quidditch team and Albus figured that she’d only care if she could ride some dangerous animal on the field.
Smith was still going on in a loud, booming self-important tone and Albus had to stop himself from passing out from sheer boredom. “What a git,” he muttered.
Lavender nodded in agreement. His classes usually involved giving pointed looks in Albus’s direction and he hadn’t warmed up to his two friends or Rose since that day she’d beaten him up, “He looks like a chicken.” She said.
That had Albus and Scorpious choking on their laughter as Professor Longbottom shot them a warning look. He had been keeping his eye on them anyway and it was rather annoying, almost as annoying as when Rose and Sue Corner had captured Albus and his friend yesterday and demanded that they tell them everything.
So, he had explained about what they’d heard Zabini talking about with Professor Longbottom and Filch and his cousin had been understandably shocked. They were going to come up to Gryffindor Tower after dinner (Much to Scorpious’s horror) and talk about what their next move would be and Albus hoped Professor Longbottom wouldn’t be lurking around a corner while they did it.
“All he needs is feathers.” Albus said with a grin and Lavender giggled.
Scorpious was thoughtful as Smith waved his arms around wildly to get his point through and his House looked awfully embarrassed. Professor Finch-Fletchley had left but Albus had a feeling that he’d made up the excuse about a ghoul being in the girl’s lavatory to stop himself from laughing too hard, “Wouldn’t want to eat him though.”
“What do you think he’d taste like?” Lavender asked curiously.
Albus thought about it. “Probably really sour and bitter,”
Scorpious laughed and Lavender rammed her elbow in his side and he was reduced to a cough, though he pulled on a lock of her black hair to retaliate. She swatted at him but he kept a hold on it, thoughtful, “Probably give you indigestion too. I’m pretty sure even that Lav’s beast of a fish wouldn’t eat it.”
Lavender looked affronted about her two-headed monstrosity of a fish that had, to Albus’s knowledge eaten Samantha Jordan’s cat yesterday. The girl had ranted and raved to the three of them (While they’d been playing Exploding Snap) because it had gone missing and the fact that clumps of hair had been found in Sheriff’s bowl hadn’t helped matters, “He’s sensitive and misunderstood!” Lavender snapped.
“Oh, sure, it’s because he’s a mutant and has two heads.” Scorpious said dryly and she frowned. He and Albus had gone to the girls’ dorm to investigate the mystery of where Samantha Jordan’s cat had vanished to and Scorpious of course had spent half the time making faces at the creature. “He has it in for me, I know it.”
Lavender glared up at him. “Then stop making faces at him!”
Scorpious snorted and started twisting her hair in his fist until Albus punched him in the arm. Reluctantly, he let her go, “It’s not my fault that he’s ugly you know. He’s like Weasley, you tolerate him because he’s scary looking.” Albus shot him a look for that and Rose, who was across from them and could be seen barely because of her red, frizzy hair, seemed to flinch.
Albus opened his mouth to say something to that but Smith apparently had noticed them and said loudly. “I see that some people here aren’t really interested in learning how to defend themselves against the forces of evil!” and every House seemed to jerk in their direction.
It was the sort of piercing, humiliating silence that reminded Albus of the time he had farted during the Christmas prayer at his grandparent’s house last year. “Er, what?” he asked innocently even though he could feel the burn of dozens of eyes on the three of them. Scorpious was appearing annoyed but Lavender was beet red.
Smith was standing with his hands on his hips, looking as if he had found a firm example of why he was so useless and not fit to be standing below him. Albus narrowed his eyes a little, “It seems that just because some people are used to the attention of their fathers that they feel themselves too important to listen to this advice!”
There were murmurs and whispers.
Albus frowned; wanting nothing more than to hex him off the stage until he cracked his big fat head open. It’d probably deflate his ego a little, “You haven’t exactly been giving any real advice for the past hour! All you’ve done is go on and on about stuff you don’t know about!” the daring words came out before he could stop them but he didn’t regret it.
Everyone knew that Smith was a big coward and hadn’t fought during the Battle of Hogwarts so long ago. The words seemed to echo off the walls and Albus felt as if he had suddenly become the only person in the whole wide world but he clenched his fists and met Smith’s outraged blue eyes head on.
“And what would you know about teaching a class Potter? It’s a lot harder than it looks but I’m pretty sure you have no worries about any of your classes with the right help.” Smith said, his cheeks a little red with anger. Albus could feel his anger brimming at the insinuation that his father would help him pass his classes by the end of the year and he was pulling out his wand before he could help it, “eager to prove yourself?” his Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher asked snidely upon noticing.
Albus wanted to use the nastiest hex he could but he was regrettably aware that he didn’t know as much as he would have liked. Lavender on the other hand probably knew a whole book worth but she was looking at him worriedly and not encouraging him, “Don’t play his game,” she whispered.
Before he could say anything, he felt something stabbing him in the side and realized his moody blonde friend had used his wand to get his attention. “Do it,” Scorpious hissed like a horrible demon on his right.
Smith was appearing quite smug but he caught the exchange, though it was obvious that he hadn’t heard. An ominous silence was still gripping the other Houses and Albus was surprised that his brother was keeping his mouth shut but when he glanced back at him, it was only because Mason was holding his hand over his mouth.
James was turning maroon.
“I think we’ve had enough of you for today, Smith. I’d advise you to step down and stop harassing the students,” it was Zabini’s voice and Albus was so startled that he felt his jaw dropping.
Zabini had been watching the exchange contemptuously, his black robes clearly giving him the advantage as he’d stood in the shadows. His House was regarding him warily, as if he meant to snatch one of them and eat them and Albus had his doubts that he’d be kind about it, “Blaise, I was only—” Smith began.
The Potions teacher’s eyes narrowed warningly and Albus was pretty sure that dozens of cute old ladies had just perished. Scorpious sent a glare his way but Lavender appeared awfully pale, “The fact that you haven’t said anything useful for the past half an hour has brought me to make this decision.”
Smith spluttered indignantly. “The Death Eater murders are a serious business, Blaise! Do you think that scaring them out of their wits is going to make them more careful? They need to know what bravery is,”
“By someone who’s brave and the last I’d heard, you aren’t among them.” Zabini said coldly and the verbal slap seemed to make Smith’s cheeks pale until Albus thought he could see through him.
Professor Chang looked very uncomfortable and she intervened. “Blaise, this isn’t the time for this. We’re here to teach the kids how to protect themselves if they’re attacked and there’s not an older student or an adult around. The last thing they need is to see Hogwarts teachers arguing amongst themselves.”
“We do that enough; don’t we?” Zabini asked her calmly and Professor Longbottom’s eyes narrowed with exasperation. Turning his attention back to Smith, he said icily and with the sort of dry quality best saved for the dead, “You were boring us all half an hour ago and I believe that I’ll take over for the next two.”
Scorpious whispered hotly in his ear, though he could have done without the punch in the arm. “He’ll kill us,” and Lavender nodded in agreement.
Smith appeared as if he wanted to argue and for a moment, Albus hoped that he would and spare them all. He was the lesser of evils, “I wasn’t aware that you had taken such an interest in this class Blaise when you’re so busy lately.” There was a snide cast to his features and Zabini’s eyes narrowed into thin, dark slits and he made a move forward and a poor second year Slytherin shrieked and moved out of his way.
“My interests have nothing at all to do with you,” was Zabini’s calm and dangerous reply and Albus saw Smith blanch a little with unease. “I think it might be best for the children to practice first hand with spells instead of listening to you prattling on about things you don’t understand.”
If Albus had actually liked Zabini, he would have grinned at the expression on Smith’s face but he felt nothing but dread. Without even offering some sort of kinder dismissal, the creature shot Smith a look filled with loathing and it was enough to have him scrambling off stage as he ascended. Professor Longbottom and Chang were appearing apprehensive but relieved, “I want each student to get into a group and face off in pairs.” Zabini barked and the students rushed to do as they were told.
Scorpious and Albus moved towards Lavender at the same time and Zabini, having been watching them like a hawk sneered. “I think we’ve had enough of the Misfits for one day. Malfoy, go with Goyle and Potter Jr. can have Ms. Creevey,” he said with a sneer.
Albus groaned in aggravation and he glanced around and saw that Sally Creevey appeared flabbergasted with horror. Samantha Jordan was patting her on the back consolingly and he frowned, “I don’t want to be stuck with you either!” he snapped as he marched over to her, even though he was beet red.
Scorpious was cursing foully under his breath while the Houses separated and paired up with one another. Professor Longbottom and Chang were breaking up friends and putting them against people they didn’t know and while Sally faced off against him on the other side of the room, looking enraged, he saw Rose being paired with Elliot Thomas.
Chris Finnigan was paired with Sue Corner, both of them appearing disappointed and Albus had a feeling that she would have rather been hexing him instead.
Lavender on the other hand was chatting away with some chubby Hufflepuff boy that looked a little nervous. How she managed to appear so calm was beyond Albus but he envied her and glanced around for his moody blonde friend and saw him glaring at Goyle viciously.
The Slytherin appeared to be enjoying himself though and by the time everyone was facing off (Somehow Mason and James wound up together), the animosity between them was palpable. Zabini had descended the stage and Albus felt a prickle of fear as he wandered between students, saying, “In a real attack, remaining focused and fighting your fear will keep you alive. Against a vampire, who we all know have superior speed and agility, hesitation can mean your death.”
Albus didn’t appreciate the way he’d look at him at those words.
“The Death Eater murders have been committed heinously against children, most of them older than you are.” Zabini was saying as he stopped near Rose, who turned pale and glanced up at him warily, “young as you are, some of you know enough spells that will aid in your escape or alert an older student or adult to come to the rescue.”
“But what if it isn’t a vampire?” Albus heard Rose asked worriedly and he had to stop himself from smacking himself. Sally Creevey was looking intense and he didn’t exactly like the way she was aiming the wand at his face.
Zabini glared down at Rose as if she were a bug he wanted to squash and she recoiled a little and Elliot Thomas turned pale. “What if it is, Ms. Weasley? What would you do then? Strange and dark things are all around you. Some of them closer than you might think,”
“Now. Face your opponent and I want you only to Disarm with the spell that Potter is so fond of,” Zabini said with a sneer and Albus saw Smith grinning smugly in a corner with Professor Chang. “Expelliarmus will send your opponent’s wand flying and the Shield Charm, Protego will block most minor spells, depending on the caster.”
Rose appeared quite confident.
Albus swallowed but faced Sally Creevey with a wan smile that she didn’t return and he distantly heard Zabini say. “One, two, th—”
Just then, though, there was an explosion of noise and Albus looked around in confusion until he spotted Scorpious shouting. “Tarantallegra!” just as Goyle spat fiercely, “Densaugeo!”
The spells collided in an array of bright lights and sparks and a few students moved away from them shrieking and cursing. James and Mason were roaring with laughter even while the spells bounced off in various directions, one of them smacking some poor Ravenclaw boy in the face and the other hitting a window.
Glass shattered into millions of dusty pieces and Professor Chang rushed to some of the students while Smith was huddled on his haunches, covering his head. “I said at the count of three! Are the two of you so simple that you can’t even follow the simplest of directions?!” Zabini was roaring furiously.
Scorpious and Goyle were glaring fiercely at one another, ignoring him. They both looked a little mental and sweat was beading on their faces as if they had run a mile and Albus saw his friend’s fingers clench tightly on his wand, “Pretty good Malfoy! I guess you have to know a spell or two since you’re going to die soon! No special treatment for princes!” the nasty Slytherin boy jeered.
“You shut your big fat mouth you piece of (Albus saw a few people flinch)!” Scorpious shouted furiously. Zabini was making his way over to them like a terrible nightmare and Albus rushed over to see if he could stop his friend from making a bad mistake.
Sally Creevey was gawping. “Look at those idiots!”
“Shut up!” Albus snapped at her.
But she was already going on like she always did. “My dad is trying to stop all of this stuff you know! We’re not supposed to be fighting one another while there’s a monster out there!” she said and while Albus had a feeling that she was right, it wasn’t what he needed to hear right now.
Albus gave her a dirty look and then looked around to make sure that his other friend was all right. Lavender was on the other side of the room, unharmed and busy helping her partner up from the floor where shards of glass had gotten into his hair and he blew out a sigh of relief.
“Stop calling me a prince!” Scorpious was shouting and his eyes were brimming with fury. Apparently, they’d still been arguing while Albus had been distracted and he could sense his friend’s temper snapping into thin shreds. “I’m not going to die! That thing isn’t going to kill me!”
Goyle was appearing out of breath but there was a mean look in his eyes and some of the Slytherins were watching eagerly for what he would do next. “You’ll be the next story in the Prophet Malfoy! Everyone says so!”
“I’ll kill you!” Scorpious snapped and the words seemed to echo off the walls until Albus could practically sense the students gasping in terror. Zabini had been waylaid by a few students that were complaining of injuries but he appeared sickened to even be tending to scraped knees and knuckles.
“Go ahead and try!” Goyle snapped before aiming his wand at him again. His fingers were shaking a little, “Furnunculus!” he shouted furiously and Scorpious dodged it just in time but it hit Sue Corner instead as she tried to get out of the way and she fell backwards with a groan.
“Sue!” Rose cried in a panic, rushing over. Her hair was flying around her face like a cloud and he wasn’t surprised to see that she was crying, “Malfoy you prat!” she shrieked as nasty green boils broke out over her friends face. Albus didn’t really feel sorry for her but he had reached Scorpious and was yanking his wand arm back.
“Let go of me, Albus!” Scorpious shouted furiously, ramming his elbow into his stomach. Grunting, he held onto him tightly while his wand sparked and sent a nasty burnt smell into the air that made him think of bad fireworks.
Professor Longbottom had restored the window but was walking over to them, looking angry. “Stop that right now! I think you’ve caused enough trouble for one day!” he said but the two boys paid him very little attention.
Albus was trying to wrestle Scorpious’s wand out of his hand but his friend was proving ridiculously stubborn. “Stop being stupid!” he snapped.
“I am not stupid!” Scorpious said while pushing his face away while they grappled like a pair of the Giant Squid’s babies. “He’s the problem!”
Goyle was having a hard time deciding who he wanted to hex first but Albus was so distracted by Scorpious that he hardly paid him any attention until he felt the burn of a spell by his ear. “Goyle! Twenty points from Slytherin!” Professor Chang shouted in outrage.
But he was beyond hearing and Albus and Scorpious had barely dodged the attack and the spell crashed into the neighboring wall. “You git!” Albus shouted but Goyle, beyond thinking at all, shot another hex and even while he tried to push his friend out of the way, he was hit square in the face, the wind knocked out of him as everything went black.
Thanks for reading and sorry that its so massive! D':
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