Chapter 1: The Duel
Harry sleepily ate his breakfast, while everyone around him chattered excitedly. He had spent all night finishing up his homework, the DA had a longer meeting than planned the other night, and he was paying for it now.
"You all right, mate?" Ron inhaled a piece of toast beside him, gazing at him with blue eyes.
"Yeah, just had a late night." Harry yawned.
"Ah, at least we finally got the Bat-Bogey Hex simmered down enough so Umbridge wouldn't suspect us." Harry nodded, yawning again. He continued to munch down the rest of his cereal, thinking about what the rest of the day might look like. Hermione marched up to them at the table just then, book in hand.
"Where have you been?" Ron asked. Hermoine raised an eyebrow.
"Studying, like we're supposed to. What about you?"
"I just wanted some bloody sleep."
"At least you got some, it doesn't seem you did, Harry." Harry nodded, nibbling at his cereal.
"Potter!" A familiar, grueling voice demanded. Malfoy appeared, a look of smug determination spread across his face.
"What is it, Malfoy? I'm not entirely in the mood..." Harry peered into Draco's cold, grey eyes.
"I want a duel, just me and you, out back near the Quidditch field." He challenged. Harry sighed.
"Really? It will only end up like last time, I don't see the point."
"Then this will be the last. Just meet me there at lunch, Potter." He stormed off towards the Slytherin table, sitting next to Crabbe and Goyle. Hary let out a breath, shaking his head.
"Isn't this the third time he's tried this?" Hermione raised an eyebrow at Harry, who nodded glumly.
"We tied last time so this will have to be the final one." Hermione gave him a questioning look.
"Okay, okay, I promise this will be the last time we duel. He just can't sand getting beaten is all."
"It'll have to be, with your luck Umbridge will only have more reason to expel you. Be careful, Harry. Or better yet, don't go at all."
"Don't go?!" Ron said, flustered. "He won't hear the end of it from Malfoy if he doesn't!"
"Ronald, it's for the best." Ron and Hermione looked to Harry, who's mouth was conveniently full of cereal. He swallowed, both the cereal and lump in his throat.
"I'm going, Hermione." He said curtly, but added. "Sorry." A smug look spread on Ron's face.
"Don't blame me if you get in harms way then." Hermione sighed.
The hours passed, and Harry went through his classes as normal. The only difference was he felt a huge weight upon his back all morning. Perhaps he shouldn't duel Malfoy, it was too risky. On the other hand, there was only so much of him he could stand. Missing it would only fuel more nasty comments and jokes his way.
"Mr. Potter." A sickly sweet voice grabbed his attention. Harry looked into the face of the toad-like woman, Dolores Umbrodge.
"Yes?" He answered as politely as he could.
"Were you paying the slightest bit of attention to my lesson?" She batted her eyelashes at him.
"Er- no, sorry. I zoned out."
"Hm." Umbridge's eyes lingered on him for a second too long. "That will be a lunch detention, for, let's say, tomorrow." Harry gritted his teeth. Oh, how he despised that woman. Not even hell itself could be worse than spending time with this wench. He kept these thoughts to himself, however, it was best not to get in any more trouble. Harry's mind returned to his doubt and concerns for the duel.
At last, his class was over. It was also lunch, and Harry knew exactly what that meant. He made his way to behind the Quidditch field. Gazing around, it was apparent that Malfoy was nowhere to be seen. Had he chickened out after all?
"Good to see you, Potter." Well, it was a false hope to begin with.
"As with you." Harry replied with the same amount of sarcasm, maybe a bit more.
"Ready? This is our last duel, prepare to lose!" Malfoy took a pose, waiting for action.
"Don't get overconfident." Harry readied himself.
A stream of red light erupted from Malfoy's wand, at the same time a blue light from Harry's. The two boys struggled against each others power, neither willing to give up. Malfoy's spell started to get closer and closer to Harry. He pushed back, picturing Umbridge getting fired, or better, banished from the wizarding world. An odd sort of grin splattered on Harry's face. He felt the joy of a dove, the smell of victory near. But, something felt off. Something very, very off. Before either Malfoy or Harry could comprehend what was happening, a yellow light burst from where the two spells intersected, and hit each boy directly in the face. Harry staggered back, his disarming spell disappearing. Luckily, Malfoy suffered the same consequence, and fell to the ground with a thud. He felt woozy, and dizzy as he approached Malfoy. Harry could tell, even with the world rapidly swirling before him, that Malfoy was out cold. He made out footsteps pitter pattering near him.
"What the devil is going on here?!" It was none other than Professor Snape. Great, that was exactly what he needed. The teacher he hated the most, not counting Umbridge. Harry took a couple steps forward, and backwards, until losing his footing, and collapsed forwards. His vision went black before he hit the ground.