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Enter the Dragon (Harry Potter/Shadowrun)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Dunkelzahn, Jul 10, 2018.

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  1. Rathmun

    Rathmun Experienced.

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    Oh no, he's still actively malicious. He's still the moral pit that steals people's life accomplishments and claims them for himself to write books about. He's just not planning to do that here.
     
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  2. RinKaihou

    RinKaihou Lolice Officer

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    Good to know.

    *Exits the nuclear bunker*
     
  3. Ashaeron

    Ashaeron Getting sticky.

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    Agreed. The only other one I can think of is Unspeakable Things.
     
  4. Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Well, and a Peggy Sue fic that goes down the rabbit hole that is Peggy Sue (with things altered just to make things 'interesting')...
     
  5. Mashadarof402

    Mashadarof402 Versed in the lewd.

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    Oh, I wouldn't say that.

    Can you say "cult leader Lockhart"?
     
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  6. gavinjon

    gavinjon Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    I really like the sound of that. It sounds interesting.
     
  7. Mashadarof402

    Mashadarof402 Versed in the lewd.

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    Cult leaders tend to do a lot of brainwashing. And that's before you get into things like magic "make you forget" charms.

    If he's going to sell to Dumbledore what I suspect he is, that will be his hidden hook.
     
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  8. RinKaihou

    RinKaihou Lolice Officer

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    Ia, ia, Gldry Fthaghn
     
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  9. kairuf

    kairuf The Double Checker

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    The only one that I can think of is is in "Like a Red-Headed step-child". Of course that was because Voldemort had him obliviated and Lockhart rebuilt himself based on version of himself in his books.
     
  10. DIT_grue

    DIT_grue lurker

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    A couple of typos early on:

    Filch’s

    scudded
     
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  11. Adrian Nightshade

    Adrian Nightshade Making the rounds.

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    Link?
     
  12. kairuf

    kairuf The Double Checker

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  13. Edmond G. Bertrand

    Edmond G. Bertrand Making the rounds.

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    LOL..... makes me think of the poem:

    But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
    In proving foresight may be vain;
    The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
    Gang aft agley,
    An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
    For promis'd joy!

    Lockhart is going to run head-long into the wall that is harry-as-a-dragon. He's going to discover, to
    his sorrow, the reason that Snape said, "Leave.Potter.Alone". It's going to be awesome, and epic,
    and is going to give us more hours of happy reading. I can't wait. This is a wonderful story
    that we're watching being created in slow-motion, right in front of us. Happiness!!!!
     
  14. Tisaku

    Tisaku I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    aluminium
    aluminium
    aluminium
    not
    contract
    mum'd
    bollocks
    sotto voce
    profanity
    magazine
    set of prosthetic eyes
    Pomfrey
    orange
    -REM-
    aluminium
    go to
     
  15. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Versed in the lewd.

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    That's not a typo.
    https://grammarist.com/spelling/aluminium-aluminum/
    Given that both spellings are pronounced the same (or rather the different pronunciations aren't dependent on the spelling) you can't even say it's wrong to have the American spelling in dialog from a British character.
     
  16. Tisaku

    Tisaku I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    -Except it is different. Brits tend to say and write aluminium.-
     
  17. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Versed in the lewd.

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    And American scientists write Aluminium, but pronounce it Aluminum, and I have no idea how south Africans or Australians or Canadians pronounce it but I doubt it will be the same as the Brits do. As I said, the spelling and the pronunciation are not related.
     
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  18. Tisaku

    Tisaku I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    -The article you quoted says. In north america it is usually written and spoken as aluminum. Science sometimes has it written as aluminium. Outside north america it is usually written and pronounced as aluminium. Therefore, for a brit it is more correct to write it as aluminium.-
     
  19. Wolfboy

    Wolfboy Not too sore, are you?

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    I must say that I do enjoy this Snape, just binged the story and eagerly await more
     
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  20. Svenity

    Svenity Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Well, I just found this and have read up to chapter 1.8, and I must say it's great. I especially loved the scene with Harry, Snape and the goblin discussing selling the dragon-innards-alloy to the NASA. The word use, with a few uncommon words being repeated in humorous ways, is exactly like a lot of old children's fantasy books, which is pushing my nostalgia button something fierce. I am a little worried about why there was a need to thoroughly discuss flying dragon sperm so early on, and hope it wasn't a set up for anything. Mostly though I'm too busy greatly enjoying this. Thanks for writing it!
     
  21. Rathmun

    Rathmun Experienced.

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    I get the feeling it was set up for a joke where someone has to give Dragon!Harry The Talk, and humorous awkwardness ensues.
     
  22. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    Glad you like it so far!

    As for that discussion, fear not! The short answer is that it is exposition for the setting, and there was never any intent to bring that disturbing vision into reality.
    The scene you're talking about has a bit of history to it, as it was the scene that ultimately had me bringing this thread here from Spacebattles because of a really weird interpretation one of the readers chose to take of the original.

    My original take on it was much less detailed, consisting essentially of Poppy bringing up the issue, explaining the inter-species fertility thing and the reasons for it, then drawing the logical conclusion regarding Harry's astronomically large magical presence. The professors all agreed that it was a bad thing, so they should teach Harry occlumency to keep the bad thing from happening. There was a bit of horrified awe at the idea that Harry had enough power to cause that kind of problem accidentally, then everyone went on with their lives.

    It was intended to be a clinical discussion of a potential future health problem between a doctor (Poppy) and the guardians of her patient (the other professors), providing a bit of exposition on the setting at the same time as they discussed a preventative treatment plan. Instead, someone at Spacebattles interpreted it as 'sexualizing a minor' through some mental gymnastics I couldn't rightly follow nor would they explain --- I gather it involved them picturing some sort of white sticky wave enveloping Hogwarts and seeing the professors' horrified discussion as some sort of backdrop glorifying Harry's supreme masculinity or some such.

    I think they'd been reading too many bad stories, myself.

    In any case, it ended up with a temporary thread lock and a warning not to do it again, but since I couldn't follow how they had interpreted the original scene as they did in the first place, I figured it was safer to just change venues. When I got it here, I elaborated Poppy's explanation into far more detail than the scene really warranted in hopes of avoiding any future misunderstandings --- I really didn't like getting dinged for that of all things, it was a very traumatic experience.

    From a narrative perspective, the scene is providing some information on the setting and the magical system as well as setting the stage for several plot points, none of which involve the scenario described actually happening. The details of the mechanics are much less important than the space devoted to the scene implies, but I still needed the overall discussion to take place for several reasons.

    It illustrates the flavor of the setting. Magic in this setting has consequences, some of which can be unpleasant and dangerous; this is not a setting where every problem can be solved with enough magic thrown at the problem. In fact, adding magic to a situation often makes things worse. Even something as simple as going through puberty can become a potential disaster with the involvement of sufficiently large amounts of magic.

    It is also a demonstration of the fact that all the parties involved, even the experts, are painting in the dark with Harry's situation. The professors are struggling to figure out what to do, but they are doing their best to get things to work by observing the situation and drawing conclusions based on their own experience. Poppy comes up with the scenario by extrapolating from what she knows of magical human biology up to the kinds of magical fields Harry is dealing with, and then she tries to address the situation as best as she can.
    It was actually a false alarm in the first place. Dragon biology deals with the issue in its own way by separating the biological responses from their subconscious thoughts. For their part, it was a practical consideration due to their size. A human rolling over in bed might be painful in the wrong circumstances, something the size of an adult dragon doing so could easily be lethal. As a side effect, this means that, in addition to being quiet sleepers, dragons don't have such issues during puberty.

    The scene is also a blunt explanation of how Harry can have a fruitful relationship with a female who is not a dragon. A lot of stories I've seen with Harry transforming into something seem to just gloss over that little detail when building relationships, but I felt the need to address it --- the potential for having children is an important part of any romantic relationship, even if some do not or cannot pursue it. Therefore, I have made magical cross-fertility is a common thing in the setting, and it has its own mechanics and pitfalls, rather than simply being a love-conquers-all-because-of-authorial-fiat thing.
    In fact, because of the amount of magic involved, such a relationship should be expected to be very fruitful. If it's not, then that is an indication that something is very wrong, indeed.

    And yes, I do have some partially fleshed-out plans for humor in regards to the Talk for Harry. Draconic physiology is a bit weird in general --- very practical, but they have some odd solutions to biomechanical problems. Magically-enhanced gametes are actually a fairly minor issue in the grand scheme of draconic biology, especially when compared to some of the other fruits of the draconic self-engineering process. Between engineering for redundancy and the practicalities of guiding such a large body through the appropriate motions --- consider the functional similarity between scales rubbing past one another and scissors --- their design efforts came to some interesting conclusions.
     
  23. Rathmun

    Rathmun Experienced.

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    Well, many reptiles do have two. (mostly snakes, but who's counting)
    Male elephants have two prehensile appendages, one at each end.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
  24. Threadmarks: Section 3.11 - A dueling club?
    Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    3.11.0 A dueling club?

    “A dueling club, you say?” the Headmaster asked his visitor.

    “Yes,” Gilderoy Lockhart nodded calmly from his seat in one of the visitor’s chairs set before the Headmaster’s desk. “In light of the events of Halloween, I feel that such a club could only benefit the students. If they know how to handle themselves, then they will be less likely to panic in the event of another attack.”

    “You do realize, do you not, Gilderoy, that dueling skills are rarely directly transferrable to real conflicts, tailored as they are to the regimented environment of the dueling platform,” the elderly wizard prodded, “and even for those skills which are transferrable, it is exceedingly unlikely that you will be able to train any students to the point that they will see significant benefits in any useful timeframe?”

    “Of course, I know that,” the blond man scoffed with a dismissive gesture, sleeves of pastel silk fluttering. “The students are in no position to solve the problem, nor do I have any intention of attempting to force them to do so. I am simply attempting to prevent them from becoming part of the problem and making our job infinitely more difficult.”

    “How so?” Dumbledore asked curiously.

    “Panicked and fearful people do stupid things, and doing stupid things with an unknown danger lurking about is a recipe for disaster,” Lockhart explained with the air of someone who had seen entirely too much of such behavior. “But by the same token, fearful people will often latch on to the first person who gives them direction, and then they will follow blindly until the panic fades — which is admittedly its own variety of stupid, I suppose.”

    He paused, shaking his head slightly before continuing, “Stupid or not, however, it is what people do. I aim to take advantage of that tendency and turn it to a useful purpose. I propose that, rather than leaving the children to their own devices to follow whatever hare-brained idea wins out in their heads, we give them a clear course to follow to ensure that they latch on to us and our instruction. Then we can control the situation however you see fit without needing to worry overmuch about the students following along!”

    “That seems a terribly cynical way to view the world, Gilderoy,” the elderly wizard chided his much younger employee. “How do you intend to inspire the youth with such a depressing approach?”

    “Perhaps you have a point there, Headmaster,” the blond nodded at that, acknowledging the statement. “I would hardly presume to tell you your job as an educator, as you are very much my senior in that department, but in much the same way you know teaching, I know panic, and I know how to manage it.”

    The elderly wizard’s eyes widened in realization. “Ah, yes, I had nearly forgotten your history with the obliviators — your subsequent career in writing has quite overshadowed it — but I suppose this is well within your field of expertise. However, are you certain that this is the best approach for us to take? Perhaps another, more immediately useful subject?”

    Silky blond hair swayed as Gilderoy shook his head and leaned forward, “This is a situation where appearance is more important than substance, Headmaster, and I can think of no other relevant field with more immediate recognition by a wider audience than dueling.”

    “Come to the dueling club and learn to defend yourself!” he gestured grandly, silken sleeves flowing. “It will give them something to do rather than stew in their own fears. For the purposes of managing panic, it doesn’t even truly matter if it even teaches anything relevant — even busywork would do, as long as we can convince them it will help — but the dueling practice is an easy sell.”

    “I’m open to suggestion, of course,” he shrugged. “Between you and your staff, you have a great deal more experience to draw on than even I do. If you can come up with another, more practical, topic to teach that has the same sort of universal cachet, I would certainly have no objections, but in the absence of such, we’re left with dueling as the best choice.”

    Albus stroked his long, white beard contemplatively as he considered the idea. The concept was sound — as was his professor’s assessment of the reputation of dueling among those unfamiliar with the demands of real combat. As for the rest, dealing with whoever was behind this Chamber of Secrets debacle promised to be challenging enough on its own given the dearth of evidence — attempting to do so within a school full of panicking children didn’t bear thinking about.

    The elder wizard slowly nodded, this course of action had merit.

    “I have already approached Filius to secure his services as a referee and secondary instructor — contingent of course on your approval — so most of the organization is already lined up,” Gilderoy sweetened the pot, sensing the old man starting to come around and seeking to close the deal. “Though, I had also intended to secure at least one more professor’s time to serve as a secondary instructor and supervisor.”

    “Yes,” Dumbledore nodded, beginning to seriously consider the practicalities of the idea, “adequate supervision would be of crucial importance with so many students involved. Did you have anyone in mind?”

    Lockhart affected a thoughtful demeanor as he pretended to consider the options while patiently waiting for the Headmaster to think his way through the problem.

    It did not take the aged wizard long to reach his own conclusion. “Perhaps Severus? He has expressed an interest in teaching defense in the past,” the elderly man mused, “perhaps this would give him the opportunity to try it out for a time without losing his services as a potions instructor.”

    “Capital idea, Headmaster!” Gilderoy immediately enthused.

    Albus was warming to the notion now. “I suppose the Great Hall would be the best venue, if we are to include the entire student body. The elves can handle remodeling easily enough, but we will need dueling wards…” The elderly wizard winced. “Ah, if Mr. Potter is to participate, those will be… hmm, perhaps a delimeter-wardstone combination for quick setup and takedown?” The Headmaster closed his eyes as he ran through the requirements and capabilities of such an arrangement.

    On the other side of the desk, his Defense professor waited patiently as the Headmaster slowly worked himself into taking ownership of the whole idea. Sometimes the best cons depended more on what you didn’t say, rather than what you did — a concept the blond man knew quite well.

    “Yes… yes,” Dumbledore concluded. “That would be our best bet. It will be a great deal of work to set up, but we will be able to reuse it — a portable dueling platform would be a fine addition to the school. Gilderoy, please ask Filius to join me; this will require his assistance.”

    “Of course, Headmaster,” Lockhart agreed, standing up immediately. “I’ll be delighted to help!” And with a flurry of blond hair and powder-blue silk, the dandy swept out of the room, his mission accomplished.

    3.11.1 Belated realizations

    It was about twenty minutes after Filius had come and gone — a time during which Albus busied himself with planning ward schemes and runic matrices to bring his vision into reality — that a thought occurred, prompting the elderly wizard to pause in his labors, brow wrinkling.

    Hadn’t this been Lockhart’s idea in the first place?

    The elderly wizard thought back on his recent conversation with his subordinate and nodded to himself.

    Yes, yes it had been.

    The elderly wizard frowned. So… why was he doing so much of the work to bring it into fruition?

    Here he was poring over runic complexes, and all Lockhart had done was talk to two people and agree to pass on a message, after which he seemed to have disappeared into the ether. Somewhere along the way, Gilderoy had managed to get him invested enough to treat the idea as his own, and in so doing, the man had weaseled his way out of doing any of the real work…

    Sneaky little whippersnapper.

    As the absurdity of the situation hit him, the Headmaster chuckled ruefully.

    “Well, I suppose that explains how he managed to finagle himself into a four-day weekend.”

    3.11.2 To each his own

    As was his habit, Snape sat quietly in his personal lab, numerous brewing stations bubbling and simmering, holding diverse potions in various stages of completion. In a sharp contrast to his usual habits, however, he was not working busily at one or another of them; instead, he stared contemplatively at the door through which the Headmaster had recently departed and reflected on his recent conversation with the man.

    Albus had approached him with a request, a request that the dark man had every reason to deny, and yet he had not.

    Why on earth had he agreed to help proctor a dueling club? The potions master sighed as he finally gave in to his professional instincts and turned to one of the brewing stations to give the bubbling potion a very precise stir. He had wanted no part of helping his students learn something as useless as formal dueling.

    Admittedly, the very best of the dueling circuit were terrifyingly formidable outside it — among them his colleague, Filius Flitwick — but that only held true for the very best, the crème de la crème. Until a duelist developed the sort of repertoire, control, and reflexes that pushed him to the top of the dueling circuit, the restrictive rules of formal dueling made for a rigid and generally ineffective combatant outside it.

    It was a truth he had encountered many, many times during the war — as attested to by the number of skilled duelists, on both sides of the aisle, he had put down with his own self-taught mish-mash of practical skills and dirty tricks.

    If he were to teach defense, as he had long entertained the idea of doing, then Snape would teach practical defense, defense that worked. He would teach dirty tricks, unfair tactics, and a properly lethal mentality when dealing with aggressors — not useless claptrap like good sportsmanship and fair play.

    The dark man sneered at the very thought. Such things had no place in personal defense and certainly should not be taught as such, particularly not to falsely prop up the students’ pathetic egos with unwarranted confidence.

    If the delicate porcelain dolls of the student body could not deal with the shadow of danger in their lives… well, that was hardly his problem, now was it? They would have to learn sometime, and they might as well screw up their courage to the sticking point and start wrestling with their fears now.

    Teaching them the basics of dueling while lying to them about its usefulness would hardly aid with that process. It would take years to develop dueling skills to the point that they might actually provide a practical advantage in real combat.

    Furthermore, Snape had no desire to spend any more time than necessary in the presence of that blond twit of a defense professor. He sneered even as he walked over to add the next ingredient to yet another potion. It took most of his iron self-control to refrain from throttling the man during meals when he went off on one of his self-aggrandizing tangents — the potions master knew himself well enough to know that spending several hours with the dandy was tempting fate.

    Though, in the end, he supposed with a self-deprecating sigh, it was that very temptation that led him to agree to help.

    During his negotiations with the Headmaster, Snape had managed to slip in the provision that he would participate in a demonstration duel against the irritating blond, and he was looking forward to it.

    Oh, was he looking forward to it!

    Nor was he the only one, judging by Albus’ faint smile when he agreed to Snape’s condition.

    The temporarily conjured note the elderly wizard had left — which dispersed itself shortly after Snape had read it — requesting a pensieve recording of the bout had been significantly less subtle. Though, the potions master had to wonder what the blond had done to make Dumbledore of all people refer to him as a ‘sneaky little weasel’.

    The Headmaster usually made a point of remaining above such pettiness.

    The sallow-faced man shook his head dismissing the question — he didn’t particularly care if Dumbledore wanted to be petty. Snape was the last person to object to petty acts of revenge — the hypocrisy would be too rank, even for him — so there was no point in considering the the topic further. The potions master had more important things to do.

    Important things like preparing to enact petty vengeance of his own.

    To that end, the potions master turned to verify the progress of his various potions one last time before hurrying out the door and back to his private quarters. It was a bit of a risk, but he should have just enough time to retrieve his box of old school notebooks before the potions needed more attention.

    If he recalled correctly, there was a way to twist the disarming charm in just the right way to disarm the target of all weapons — including their natural complement — if you pushed enough power into it. Snape remembered it being finicky to get right, but with enough practice, he might just be able to retrain himself to pull it off once more in time for the demonstration.

    Snape smiled a nasty sort of smile. Petty it might be, but the mental image of his blond colleague scrambling to gather his teeth and fingernails off the floor warmed the dark recesses of his heart.

    3.11.3 Furtive goings-on

    A boy of perhaps sixteen years stood quietly in an otherwise abandoned classroom, the sharp black and deep blue of his Ravenclaw student uniform standing in bold contrast to his dull and dusty surroundings. As he waited impatiently, he whiled away the time idly drawing designs in the thick accumulation of dust coating one of the student desks until the door creaked open on poorly-oiled hinges.

    “It took you long enough,” the Ravenclaw complained as a second boy, this one wearing robes trimmed in red, entered the room. “You took practically the entire term to come around to our way of thinking. For a while there, I was afraid you weren’t going to finalize the deal before the end of term. Seriously, we’re tight on galleons; I was beginning to worry I wouldn’t be able to close the deal over the break.”

    “Did you really think I wouldn’t come through? I gave you my word!” the newcomer protested. At the first boy’s skeptical look, his face fell. “Yeah, sorry, but… well, it took a while to work up my nerve for this,” the Gryffindor deflected, reaching into his robes to withdraw a small pouch which jingled when he shook it in emphasis. “This is a lot of money for me, you know? I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend it on something like this — especially not to an uncertain result.”

    “I understand,” the Ravenclaw nodded sympathetically, even as he eagerly snatched the pouch from his compatriot’s extended hand. “Just remember, it’s a down-payment on your future happiness! And well, as for a discount or a guarantee, I’m already hiring from Knockturn for this, and I really don’t feel comfortable trying to haggle there. My contact might take offence.” He shuddered at the idea. “I figure it’s best to take the offer given and leave well enough alone. Knockturn’s a scary sort of place, and I’d like to make it back alive.”

    “I know, I know,” it was the Gryffindor’s turn to nod. “I’m not trying to complain — I mean, you’re setting it all up, so you’re taking the real risks — it’s just… well, I wish the Slytherins had pitched in, too. If we could have split the expense another five or six ways, the decision would have been a whole lot easier!”

    “Slimy cheapskates, they are,” the Ravenclaw agreed. “But I guess it paid off for them. They’re going to benefit from our hard-earned cash — this time, anyway. I’m certainly not going to cut them any slack the next time something like this crops up, though.” He shook his head disbelievingly. “I don’t buy their excuses about not needing it — but, there’s no help for it, I suppose.”

    “I don’t know about that, there’s not a whole lot of green trim in those crowds,” the boy in red grudgingly admitted with a shrug. “The Slytherins might be onto something, with that, at least.”

    The admission garnered a skeptical eyebrow from his compatriot. “Look at you — a Gryffindor defending the Slytherins for their stinginess!” his blue-trimmed compatriot snickered. “What’s the world coming to?”

    “Yeah, yeah,” said Gryffindor said with his own chuckle. “I'm just saying, observation kind of bears their claim out. Just ‘cause they’re slimy snakes doesn’t mean they lie all the time — just most of it.”

    Sure, they don’t,” the first boy scoffed. “I don’t buy it. Even if they’re telling the truth about not needing the service, I still say they’re lying about why!”

    “You might be on to something there,” his Gryffindor counterpart admitted as they made their way to the door.

    “What could blond hair have to do with anything, anyway?”

    3.11.4 R.S.V.P.

    Freshly dismissed from her last class of the day, Abigail set off for the library with a spring to her step. It was time for her usual meeting with Harry, and that made it the highlight of the girl’s day. She waved a friendly but silent greeting to Madame Pince as she entered the woman’s domain and turned the corner on her way to the usual table, only to be greeted by a rather unusual sight.

    Harry was already hard at work, not an unusual sight in and of itself as the young dragon was almost always absorbed in some project or another, but the work before him was not his normal fare. Rather than busily scrawling arcane notes in one of his notebooks or intently reading some obscure tome written in a language no one had used in millennia, this time, Harry was industriously writing letters. Judging by the hefty stack being tended to by Suze, he had already written thirty or so, and by the number of still-empty envelopes before him, he was likely about a third of the way through his task.

    “Hello, Harry,” Abigail greeted her younger friend as she arrived, asking curiously, “What are you up to there?”

    “Hi, Abigail!” the currently human-shaped dragon answered cheerily, looking up from his latest missive. “I’m writing invitations for all my new employees at Hogs Haulage,” he explained. “I’m going to have a Christmas party! It’s gonna be great!”

    “Harry has greatly enjoyed meeting his new management staff and engineers over the past few weeks,” Suze volunteered, looking up from where she had busied herself with proofreading her dragon’s letters and addressing envelopes. “He has been looking for an opportunity to do the same with the rest of his employees ever since.”

    Harry nodded enthusiastically. “Yep! And I remembered how well the barbecue went last summer, so I thought I’d try that again. We’re gonna use the main lawn at the Hogsmeade office, so there should be plenty of space, and Mr. Wardale said he’d get the machine shop to work up a proper grill, so we don’t get big scorched spots like I had from the bonfires. He said they’d probably get a kick out of setting it up.”

    “The only problem is I won’t have any acromantula to serve,” the dragon’s cheerful expression fell. “Too many died, so I need to leave ‘em alone for a while before I can take any more. I had to order a bunch of extra beef and pork and stuff instead.” He sighed worriedly, “I hope no one’s too disappointed.”

    “I’m sure it’ll turn out okay,” Abigail assured her friend. “It may not be as exotic, but I’m sure no one will hold it against you.”

    She certainly wouldn’t, were she in their place — roasted spiders, indeed — she still shuddered at the idea.

    “I suppose,” he said uncertainly, “but I was hoping to make up for you missing out during summer, and… oh yeah! I almost forgot!” Harry rummaged through the pile of already-completed invitations before he held one up triumphantly to offer to his friend. “Here! I know you’re not technically an employee yet, but you will be as soon as you graduate in June, and I wanted to get you an early start on meeting everyone.”

    Abigail took the envelope, addressed to her in Suze’s meticulous hand. “Thank you, Harry! I’ll be sure to come, I’m sure my parents will understand,” the older girl beamed before she turned thoughtful. “Though, speaking of things I’m going to have to explain to my parents, when are you planning on dealing with that stone circle thing you mentioned back during summer? You said I could come along for that, as I recall.”

    Harry nodded agreeably. “Yeah, we’re planning on that the day after I scheduled the barbecue,” the young dragon informed his friend. “We wanted to get it done early during break in case there are complications and it knocks me out for a while or something. Mr. Snape figured it would be better than missing school.”

    “That should work out nicely,” Abigail said. “What do you think about…”

    Abigail was about to carry on with another topic when she was interrupted by the arrival of the fourth member of their group.

    “Hello, everyone,” Hermione greeted breathlessly, “sorry it took so long to get here, class ran a bit long.”

    A round of greetings echoed hers as the bushy-haired girl settled into her usual seat at the table. “So, what were you talking about?”

    “I was about to ask what everyone thought about the new dueling club Lockhart’s been hawking to everyone,” Abigail spoke up. “I was thinking about going to see what it was all about.”

    “Really?” Harry spoke up, looking up from his letter writing once again. “I thought you thought Lockhart was useless. Why do you want to spend more time with him?”

    “I do think he’s useless as a teacher,” Abigail assured him, “but he might be a better duelist, so that might be worth looking into. It’s always a good idea to learn as much as you can.”

    “I suppose that makes sense,” the young dragon allowed.

    “Plus,” Abigail continued, “Snape and Flitwick are both going to help with it, and they’re bound to contribute something worthwhile. Flitwick is a world-champion duelist, and Snape is… well, Snape.”

    Harry nodded at that. Mr. Flitwick was really skilled, and Snape was indeed Snape. “Maybe I should check it out too?”

    “Hermione, is something bothering you?” Suze spoke up for the first time in a few minutes, looking at her junior damsel in concern.

    The bushy haired girl noticeably straightened from her previously hunched posture and tried to play it off as nothing — poorly. “No, nothing is wrong — why do you ask?”

    The centaur looked down her nose skeptically at the younger girl — a task Suze was able to accomplish exceedingly well, being so much taller than her fellow damsel. “Hermione, you flinched at the mention of Mr. Snape’s name — there, you did it again. That is not normal behavior for you.”

    “No, no it ain’t,” Harry spoke up looking closely at his bushy-haired damsel, her hunched posture making her discomfort obvious now that Suze had pointed it out. “What’s wrong, Hermione? Has someone been botherin’ you again, ‘cause I said I’d protect you and I will… even if it was Mr. Snape.”

    “No, no, it’s nothing like that,” Hermione assured him hurriedly, obviously trying to head off any precipitous action on his part. “I just… well, the thing with the Weasley twins’ punishment back at the beginning of the year was still bothering me, so last week I went and asked Professor Snape about it directly.” Hermione paused for a breath before rushing through the rest of her explanation. “And he told me about it, and the reasons make sense, but then he pointed out that other students’ discipline really wasn’t any of my business and told me not to poke into that sort of thing again.”

    The only male at the table looked at his bushy-haired damsel expectantly for a moment. “And?” he prompted when it became clear that she was not going to continue. “What happened then?”

    “What do you mean, ‘and what happened then’?” Hermione exclaimed, only her deeply ingrained respect for libraries preventing her from shouting. “I got a reprimand, and I even deserved it. It was mortifying!” The bushy-haired girl buried her face in her hands, “I can barely stand going to potions anymore.”

    Abigail made to speak up, but Harry beat her to the punch. “Was Mr. Snape really that angry?” he asked doubtfully. “I mean, he’s told me off plenty of times before, and he never really holds much of a grudge — aside from needling you about it sometimes — as long as you listen and don’t do it again. How much did he insult you when he did it?”

    “Insult me?” Hermione asked, perking up at the unexpected question. “Why would he insult me?”

    “Well, that’s just how Mr. Snape is,” the young dragon explained. “He insults just about everybody, except the goblins, because that’s bad for your financial status. You mean he didn’t say something about ‘stop snooping in other people’s business, you meddlesome wretch’ or anything?”

    “Of course not!” the bushy-haired girl snapped.

    “Wow, Mr. Snape must really like you if he was that polite!” Harry marveled, wide-eyed. “He insults me all the time — I mean, often enough that we even make games of it — and we’re business partners. Huh, I never would have guessed…”

    As the currently human-shaped dragon trailed off — falling into a stunned silence at the idea of Mr. Snape not insulting one of his students — Abigail picked up the conversational gauntlet.

    “You know, Hermione, Harry is right about that,” the older girl assured her junior. “Snape usually makes his punishments very, very obvious to the one being punished. If he just told you not to do it again and left it at that, it means he trusts you to follow his instructions without any further reinforcement.”

    “So, he’s not mad at me?” Hermione asked in a small voice.

    “Not in the slightest,” the seventh-year assured her, before quickly clarifying, “Not for the question, anyway. If you’ve been slacking off in class because you were embarrassed, all bets are off.”

    “Oh, okay,” the bushy-haired girl acknowledged in a small, relieved voice. With that, Hermione finally calmed down enough to take in the scene at the table for the first time since her arrival, and on doing so, Harry’s unusual work materials jumped out at her just as they had at Abigail.

    “Harry,” she asked, unknowingly echoing Abigail’s earlier question, “what are you up to there?”

    3.11.5 Club meeting

    “Gather round! Gather round,” Gilderoy Lockhart called from his place in the middle of the Great Hall, catching the attention of the students as they filed in and gathered around the edges of the room.

    The massive room had been radically transformed over the course of the hour since the end of the midday meal. Gone were the House tables, and in their place stood a great platform, raised to waist height above the stone floor and occupying the center third of the Hall for perhaps half its length. A dark blue cloth covered it, draping all the way to the floor on all four sides. Complicated designs picked out in bronze thread adorned the blue fabric — abstract patterns which many of the students recognized as carefully engineered runic arrays, though few of them were able to divine their purpose.

    Massive granite cubes, easily two meters on a side, stood silent and imposing guard by each corner of the rectangular platform, their polished surfaces sporting carven runic arrays which despite being quite visibly distinct still somehow gave the impression of complementing those on the cloth covering the dueling platform. To the green eyes of the one student in the room able to see such things, they, along with the blue cloth, served to anchor a nearly transparent, glowing box encasing the volume directly above the platform to about three times the height of a tall man.

    “Can everyone see me?” the blond professor asked. “Can everyone hear me?”

    As the students responded with a sea of affirmative nods, the dandy smiled broadly before continuing. “Excellent! In light of the dark events of recent weeks,” he paused briefly to allow a nervous rustle to spread through the room, “Headmaster Dumbledore has granted me permission to start this Dueling Club to train you all up in case you need to defend yourselves, as I have done on countless occasions.”

    “For full details, see my published works,” the man shot off another smile, prompting a fit of giggling from many of the female students. “Now, while I would have been happy to teach you all myself,” another smile, “in light of the overwhelming interest,” he gestured to the crowded Hall, “I have chosen to enlist the help of several of my esteemed colleagues.”

    “Professor Flitwick has graciously volunteered his services as an instructor,” Lockhart gestured grandly to the diminutive figure of the half-goblin professor who gave a nod of acknowledgement. “He has also contributed his services in creating this handsome covering for the dueling platform,” Gilderoy gestured to the platform at his feet, “as you might have guessed from the Ravenclaw color scheme. He assures me that, in addition to forming a smart backdrop for the club, it also serves as an anchor for the dueling wards, which will prevent any stray spells from harming the audience.”

    “The other half of those wards were provided by our esteemed Headmaster himself, in the form of the large stone cubes I am sure you have noticed at the corners of the platform,” the man paused for a brief moment to allow his audience time to look at the imposing devices. “Rest assured that we have taken every reasonable precaution to make this club both informative and safe.”

    An appreciative murmur swept through the students, even as Gilderoy turned to the last of the staff present. “And finally, we have Potions Master Snape. He has graciously agreed to help proctor the club and has even offered to participate in a dueling exhibition with me, personally.”

    Many of the boys in the audience perked up at hearing that, even as the defense professor smiled again, though a particularly attentive observer would note that this smile seemed a tad forced in comparison to his usual fare. Lockhart gave a forced chuckle. “Rest assured that you will have your potions master back in one piece afterwards, never fear!”

    “Now, before we begin, I will tell you all that this first lesson will focus on two charms, the disarming charm and the basic shield charm — a combination which, Professor Flitwick assures me, is an excellent place to begin teaching dueling. For this reason, our demonstration will be limited to those two charms, in order to provide a proper example of what you all will be doing when we get down to individual practice.”

    As he set aside his powder blue silk outer robe and retreated to one end of the platform, Lockhart spoke once again. “In all honesty, I do not expect this to go particularly well for me,” even as his students gasped at the admission, he continued with unusual humility. “I do not often run into situations where such charms are useful; my usual opponents tend to rely more on their natural abilities, rather than weapons — while her voice cut like one, I can assure you that the Bandon banshee did not come after me with a knife!” The young professor chuckled self-deprecatingly. “So, I am afraid I am rather woefully out of practice. I am certain, however, that I will be able to provide an excellent example of their use, even if only as a demonstration target.”

    As the blond defense professor had been speaking, his opponent had finished making his way up to the other end of the platform. For his part, Snape raised a derisive eyebrow at the obvious excuse before reluctantly nodding in acknowledgement of the good play. Through his preemptive admission, the dandy had taken what promised to be an embarrassing defeat and turned it into a badge of honor, highlighting his willingness to sacrifice his own dignity for the opportunity to teach his students something. Whatever his faults, Lockhart was definitely a quick thinker — though that didn’t prevent Snape from smiling a nasty sort of smile.

    The potions master would enjoy himself, regardless — if slightly less than he would have had the blond man received his full measure of humiliation.

    The blond man took a deep breath, then called out to his half-goblin colleague, who had moved to stand just off the platform at its midpoint. “If you would be so kind as to officiate, Mr. Flitwick?”

    “Of course!” the diminutive man agreed, his small form almost lost among the crowd of students. “To reiterate, per the agreed-upon rules, this bout will be fought with disarming and shield charms only. Begin on my mark; stop on my command. If you do not stop on my command, I will intervene to stop you. The same will happen if you should use any magics outside the rules of the bout. Are you ready, Mr. Lockhart?” The blond man nodded. “Are you ready, Mr. Snape?” The dark man nodded.

    The half-goblin nodded in acknowledgement. “Then begin!”

    Both wizards burst into motion, moving to cast a disarming charm. Unfortunately for Lockhart, Snape proved to be significantly faster, completing his charm and twisting his wand smoothly to cast a shield before Lockhart’s return fire reached him. The blond’s disarming charm deflected from his shield, going on to dissipate with nary a trace on hitting the dueling wards surrounding the platform.

    On the other end of the platform, things were decidedly less sedate.

    Snape’s disarming charm had caught Lockhart just below the sternum just as the blond man released his own spell. It had thrown the man’s wand clear of his hand — directed vaguely towards Snape himself, as the charm was intended to do — but that was not its only effect. It also managed to throw Lockhart for a loop, flipping him end over end and depositing him in an undignified heap of baby blue silk and blond hair a few yards back from his starting position.

    The room fell silent for a moment before Flitwick’s voice rang out, “Victory to Mr. Snape.”

    And then, for the first time in his entire history with the institution of Hogwarts, every male student in the Great Hall cheered loud and long for Severus Snape.

    Truly, it was a red-letter day for Hogwarts.

    Of course, all good things come to an end, and as the applause died down, Lockhart made known the fact that he had managed to untangle himself from his robes.

    “Excellent work, my friend!” the blond dandy said with admirable aplomb for someone who had just been sent arse-over-teakettle in front of an entire room full of his students. “I must admit, I had never realized the disarming charm could do more than just disarm someone.”

    Snape simply smirked until Flitwick jumped in to volunteer an explanation.

    “As with many charms, the specific effects of the disarming charm can be modified, either through the will of the caster, or through slight variations in the casting process,” the half-goblin explained. “Normally, sending the target flying is an indication that too much power was pushed into the casting, but such castings normally result in broken bones, or severe bruising at the least. Given Mr. Lockhart’s apparent lack of injury, I would assume that Mr. Snape used a deliberate alteration.”

    The dark man nodded. “One that I developed during my sixth year at this institution,” he volunteered. “I had intended to use the variant which completely disarms the target — down to his teeth and fingernails — however, I was unfortunately unable to reproduce it in the time for this exhibition.”

    Lockhart winced at that idea, alongside the entire student body.

    “I do not believe I’ve ever heard of that variation, Severus,” the diminutive duelist said avidly, showing no sign of discomfort with the idea of brutally mutilating a fellow wizard. “Wherever did you come across it?”

    “Another invention of mine,” the potions master said amiably, “also developed during my sixth year; though I must admit that one was developed accidentally. I still have my notes, but reproducing it after so many years has proven to be difficult.”

    “Remarkable!” Flitwick enthused. “Is that how you put Mr. Black in the infirmary for a week during that year?”

    The dark man continued to smirk.

    “I see. I see. Tell me, Severus,” Flitwick asked conversationally. “Would you be open to sitting down with me and attempting to reproduce it — perhaps over winter break? It sounds like a fascinating piece of spell-work. I would assume there is a significant component of intent behind the casting — perhaps a specific focus on the target’s natural weapons… hmm. It might even prove useful for dealing with your usual fare, Gilderoy,” the half-goblin spoke up to address his other colleague. “After all, a charm that removed teeth and claws would have been quite useful during your werewolf encounter, I suspect.”

    “Yes, of course,” Gilderoy sounded sick at the idea, but put on an admirable front. “It certainly would have.”

    “I would be delighted,” Snape agreed with his senior colleague even while shooting a nasty smirk at his junior. “Provided we have the time over break, of course… perhaps we could complete it in time for the next session of our dueling club?” His smirk grew even nastier as Lockhart paled.

    “Perhaps,” Lockhart’s voice broke as he spoke. He cleared his throat. “Perhaps it would be best if we continued with the current session before we run out of time.” Not waiting for a response from his colleagues, he turned back to the student body at large. “Everyone, give your potions master a round of applause for that excellent demonstration of the versatility of the basic disarming charm!”

    The room dissolved into applause once again, this time including the girls among the audience as well.

    “Now,” the foppish man said as the applause died down once more, “I know many of the older students are already well-versed in the disarming and shield charms, and I would like you to break off into small groups and introduce your junior colleagues to the basics of their casting. In the meantime, we will devote the central platform to volunteer duels among those who have managed to cast the charms. Do we have a volunteer to start us off? You may pick whomever you wish to challenge; though remember, they are free to decline should they so choose.”

    And so, the first meeting of the dueling club picked up steam, and the Great Hall descended into a messy sort of order, dozens of groups split off and reviewed the basics of casting a pair of moderately advanced charms. In the background, a series of practice duels, fought with varying levels of expertise, took place on the dueling platform under the watchful eye of Professor Flitwick, until, eventually something happened to catch the attention of everyone in the Hall.

    A second-year student had reached the front of the line of dueling volunteers, and, upon ascending the platform, he brushed back his already perfectly-coiffed blond hair, raised his wand in the standard gesture of challenge, and called out, loud enough for the rest of the room to hear over the general din.

    “I, Draco Malfoy, challenge Harry Potter.”

    3.11.6 Student dueling?

    Draco watched in eager anticipation as his opponent slowly made his way up to the dueling platform through the packed room. The last year had been a difficult one for the young Malfoy, and he was planning to use this opportunity to turn that around.

    Ever since that debacle back in January when Ronald Weasley had accosted him, the blond had been scrambling to affirm his place in life. Before, he had been secure in the knowledge that he was the Heir to the great and powerful Malfoy House, but the bloody ginger peasant’s boot had shattered that security along with one of his testicles — an inch to the left and he wouldn’t have been capable of fulfilling his primary duty as the Heir! Sure, it hadn’t actually happened that way, but it had been a wakeup call. He needed something else to fall back on, just in case something else happened to finish the job. If he couldn’t rely on his position as Heir, Draco reasoned, he would have to build a place for himself in addition to that offered by the Malfoy name.

    Of course, being an inexperienced boy, Draco had no real idea of how to accomplish that, so he did what most children do when faced with a new and unfamiliar situation.

    He tried to emulate his parents.

    Unfortunately, his attempts to convince his peers of the wisdom of following his lead had fallen on deaf ears, as had the later attempts to browbeat them into submission. Falling back on the old mainstays of blackmail and intimidation had met with some success until his new subjects had sought alliances with each other and countered his efforts. By the end of the previous school year, the youngest Malfoy had been at his wit’s end, with his housemates countering his every gambit almost before he could begin.

    It almost seemed like everyone had conspired together against him, but that couldn’t possibly be right — that never happened when his father did the same sorts of things.

    When Draco had approached his father to ask for help, the man had explained to his son that the trick to using such techniques was negotiating from a position of perceived strength, and Draco simply didn’t have the reputation to pull it off.

    Thus, he obviously needed to boost his reputation in the school, and Draco had thought long and hard about how to do that over the summer break. He hadn’t been able to come up with anything. The one possibility he had come up with, beating someone up to showcase his prowess, had been immediately forbidden by his father as soon as he had proposed the idea, citing something about Draco needing to keep his head down after the incident the previous year. Draco hadn’t really been able to follow the logic, but he trusted that his father knew what he was talking about.

    So, the young blond had persisted in an awkward sort of holding pattern for most of the first term of his second year, waiting for an opportunity, a wait that had ended when he had learned of the dueling club. There he could flex his magical might without making disciplinary trouble for himself! Better yet, he had learned that the Potter Heir would be in attendance, and that fact had cemented his plan.

    Somehow or other, Potter had built a name for himself during the previous year. Rumors abounded about the scrawny little wizard managing to somehow punch out a troll on the previous Halloween, and that had laid in a formidable reputation. Draco doubted the veracity of the rumors himself, but most of the student body had bought into it, rightly or wrongly.

    And, in that reputation, Draco saw an opportunity. If he could defeat Potter in a duel, then that very reputation would work to his advantage; Potter was known to be strong, and by beating him Draco would immediately be seen as even stronger!

    Heck, even if the rumors were somehow correct and Potter was physically strong enough to punch out a troll, it still wouldn’t be a problem in a magical duel. Physical contact was strictly forbidden in those circumstances, and Potter was notorious for his poor performance in spellcasting practicals — the professors always had him doing some sort of remedial exercise while everyone else practiced actual casting. Between that and Draco’s years of private tutoring before Hogwarts, he had no doubt of his assured success.

    It was a foolproof plan!

    Draco drew his wand and settled into a slightly awkward version of the standard dueling stance as the unsuspecting Potter finally managed to take his place at the far end of the dueling platform, smiling like an idiot and bouncing in place briefly before drawing his own wand. The room stilled in anticipation before the charms professor signaled the beginning of the duel.

    “Begin!”

    Draco snapped his wand down in as quick a disarming charm as he could manage, the incantation leaving his lips as a shout. As the spell left his wand, the blond second-year noted that his opponent had managed to mis-cast his own charm, leaving his wand lightly smoking as the other boy stared at it in frustration.

    What luck!

    Draco had expected the bout to be easy, but not this easy! His disarming charm was right on target, and his opponent wasn’t even looking in his direction. There were just a few more feet to go before it connected, and then — success!

    Draco smiled broadly as his disarming charm connected — a smile which quickly melted into an expression of slack-jawed astonishment when the charm proceeded to have no discernable effect whatsoever. The Potter Heir didn’t even seem to notice the impact as he continued fiddling with his wand in an attempt to get his own casting right.

    Several seconds passed before the Malfoy Heir collected himself enough to try again. Again, a perfectly-cast disarming charm flew down the dueling platform; again, it connected with his opponent; and again, it failed to have any effect whatsoever. This time, he clenched his teeth and immediately tried again, pushing as much power into the casting as he could manage.

    This pattern repeated five times before Potter smiled broadly as he finally managed to cast a successful charm, releasing a brilliant slug of scarlet light larger than Draco’s entire torso. Thankfully for the blond, it hadn’t been properly aimed, shooting off to the side and almost instantaneously slamming into the dueling containment wards protecting the audience — wards which momentarily turned visible as they struggled to dissipate energy dumped into them.

    What?

    The world seemed to slow as he processed what had just happened and adrenaline began to flow in earnest. Potter had just cast… what was that? How did he go from not being able to cast to turning a disarming charm into that? The dopey smile on the magical incompetent’s face suddenly took on a decidedly sinister cast to Draco’s newly-opened eyes.

    He couldn’t afford to get hit by one of those!

    Panic and a magically-enhanced endocrine system kicked Draco’s efforts up to a new level as he threw more disarming charms downrange as fast as he could manage. In the process, his accuracy took a hit, not that it mattered — improved accuracy wouldn’t have helped in the slightest as none of the hits even seemed to register on his opponent.

    Then after a couple more false-starts, Potter’s counterattack began in earnest, the still-smiling twelve-year-old sending bolt after bolt of burning red magic in Draco’s general direction. His accuracy was abominable — bad enough that he might have been better off had he aimed away from his blond opponent — but with those freakishly powerful spells he would only need to hit once.

    Draco scrambled for an idea — any idea — on how to get out of his predicament, until his adrenaline-soaked mind finally hit on a spell he had learned from one of his private tutors over the summer. It wasn’t much, but it was different, and it might be enough to buy him just a few seconds to come up with something else.

    As another wildly-inaccurate disarming charm shot past him a couple yards to the left, Draco cast, “Serpensortia!” His wand flashed white as a trio of large black snakes shot out of the light and landed heavily two thirds of the way across the dueling platform, drawing his opponent’s attention in the process.

    Unfortunately for Draco, the distraction came too late as the last spell Potter had launched finally managed to find its target, slamming into his chest with a dull thud and a wet crack of breaking ribs and knocking him backwards off his feet. Before he hit the ground, the magic took effect, ripping the blond’s wand out of his hand with brutal force, dislocating three of his fingers and breaking his wrist in the process.

    Between the pain of his injuries and the exhaustion rushing in in the wake of the adrenaline rush, the Malfoy Heir was out cold before he skidded to a stop.

    3.11.7 At least it’s not French

    As that annoying blond kid’s unconscious form came to a halt on the fabric-covered dueling platform, Harry’s attention had already turned to the snakes the boy had conjured, catching their beady black eyes with his own brilliant emerald ones. The conjured reptiles took one look at the currently human-shaped dragon and immediately decided they desperately needed to be somewhere else, fleeing at the best speed they could manage.

    That was kind of unexpected. Harry cocked an eyebrow curiously as he watched the snakes slither off. Normally, conjurations didn’t have such good sense — had that annoying blond kid managed to summon real snakes from somewhere, instead?

    Huh.

    As he relaxed and stowed his wand, Harry reflected on his performance. It had been a bit embarrassing, honestly, Harry thought to himself, rubbing at the back of his head sheepishly. He’d flubbed casting the disarming spell so many times during the last thirty-seconds or so, and in front of so many of his fellow students. Even when he had finally managed to connect, it had barely worked like it was supposed to — the disarming charm was supposed to disarm the target, not hammer them into the ground.

    And speaking of finally managing to connect, his accuracy was terrible — the Sergeant Major would have been ashamed of that performance. Harry frowned. He’d have to start putting in a lot more practice if he didn’t want to embarrass himself like that again — aiming a wand was completely different from aiming a rifle.

    His internal reverie was interrupted by a scream coming from the crowd to his left. A quick glance revealed that the path of one of the fleeing snakes had been intercepted by two of Harry’s friends in Hufflepuff, Susan and Hannah, who were clutching each other in fright as they attempted to cower away from the snake hissing demands for them to get out of the way.

    “Hey, you!” Harry hissed at the snake in the same way, storming over and hopping down off the platform. “You stop that!”

    The snake turned on Harry, rearing back to strike before Harry’s hand shot out faster than it could react and grabbed it behind the head, incidentally snapping its spine and dissipating the reptile’s conjured form.

    Harry cocked his head curiously as he looked down at his empty hand. So, the snakes were conjured after all. How had that annoying blond kid managed to conjure something with better sense than he had? And something which could speak snake, to boot! He was pretty sure the blond kid didn’t know the language himself.

    Weird — he’d have to have a bit of a think about it later.

    As the hullaballoo died down with the immediate threat removed, an accusatory voice called out from the crowd.

    “You’re a parselmouth!”

    3.11.8 An unlikely defender

    The room descended into shocked silence as that sank into people’s minds until Harry spoke up.

    “I’m a what?”

    “You’re a parselmouth,” the voice — belonging to a Ravenclaw Harry wasn’t familiar with — repeated. “It means you can speak parseltongue.” At the currently human-shaped dragon’s blank look, he explained further, “That means you can speak to snakes.”

    “Yeah, so what?” Harry asked, completely failing to read the mood.

    “Only dark wizards can speak parseltongue,” another anonymous voice asserted.

    “Why?” Harry was confused. “It’s just another language. You know, just like English or French or Spanish or Gaelic or German or Norwegian or Or’zet or Greek or…”

    Before he could continue his listing of languages — a process his audience likely would have found much more impressive had they known he was fluent in every single one of them — the same Ravenclaw interrupted, insisting, “But parseltongue is special!”

    “But why? I mean, snakes aren’t even interesting to talk to! They’re way too dumb to have a proper conversation with.” Harry didn’t understand what the big deal was. “For cryin’ out loud, the one just now didn’t even respond right to a threat when I told it to back off. I was like a thousand times its size, so you’d think it’d know better, but they’re just too dumb.” The young dragon shook his currently human-shaped head. “Even porpoises are better conversationalists, and half of what they say is swearing!”

    “But You-Know-Who was a parselmouth!” the Ravenclaw insisted. “And we had that ‘Heir of Slytherin’ thing back on Halloween. Slytherin was a parselmouth, too!”

    “So? That’s a silly argument.” Some of Harry’s fellow Hufflepuffs had finally wrapped their heads around the changed situation, and one of them stepped in to defend their own, even in the face of creepy-sounding magical languages. “You-Know-Who also spoke English, and no one’s insisting English is an evil language because of it.”

    “Yeah! And Harry wasn’t even on campus on Halloween,” one of the Hufflepuff prefects chimed in. “He was off-campus with Professor Snape for something. I remember checking since I was responsible for roll-call that night.” At the odd looks from his counterparts in the other houses, he clarified, “We started checking during the feasts after that debacle at Halloween last year.” The puzzled looks dissolved into thoughtful nodding at that.

    As the stubborn Raven gathered himself for another round of belligerent insistence that Harry Potter must in fact be evil because he could speak to snakes, a second Ravenclaw entered the conversation, this one a petite girl with Asiatic features.

    “It’s Harry Potter,” the girl scoffed at her housemate, “he’s about as likely to be secretly evil as you are to spontaneously grow wings and fly away — and with your transfiguration grades, that’s hardly likely. Some of us actually pay attention to the rest of the school.”

    The girl, Su Li if Harry remembered rightly — she had registered to Harry because she was the only student smaller than he was when he was Sorted the previous year — then turned to him. “I’m more interested in the fact that you can apparently talk to porpoises. That’s a magical language I’ve never heard of before.”

    “Um… I’m not sure its magical, really.” Harry thought about it for a moment. “It didn’t seem any different than when I learned French and Norwegian last summer or when Mr. Slackhammer’s nephew taught me Or’zet. I learned it when I was nine from the pod that lives in the sound just off the coast.”

    “So, you can pick up languages just by hearing them?” She seemed very interested at that. “I’m assuming there isn’t a pod of porpoises that speaks English and used it to teach you their own language.”

    “Yeah, that’s right,” Harry admitted. “The ‘picking up languages by hearing them spoken’ bit, I mean. They don’t speak English as far as I know.”

    Su Li nodded at the clarification, turning back to the room at large with an oddly shark-like smile on her face. “There you go, Harry’s just a polyglot who happens to have learned to talk to snakes,” the diminutive girl concluded. “No dark magic or anything of the sort involved.”

    3.11.9 Third-party introduction

    As the confrontation died down and the students began to filter out of the hall, Snape stifled a relieved chuckle. When his dunderheaded godson had gone and picked a fight with the resident dragon, the potions master had feared the worst. Draco was hardly the most skilled duelist at the best of times, and the dratted dragon was absurdly deadly, even in human form.

    If one of those disarming charms had hit his godson’s empty yet impeccably coiffed head, the boy would have been hard-pressed to survive the impact — even with Madame Pomfrey’s immediate intervention. As it was, the hit to the chest had broken two ribs and his rapidly-departing wand had dislocated three fingers and broken the boy’s wrist.

    After the fool boy was released from Poppy’s care, he would have to do something unpleasant to Lucius’ idiotic spawn to drive home the notion that the instructions of his Head of House were not to be ignored — again. Apparently, the previous year’s bludgers had been insufficient.

    Though, to be fair, Snape mused, judging by the boy’s continued, if ineffectual, attempts at harassing Miss Granger — he was fairly certain the girl hadn’t even noticed any of the attempts since the one back in January — partial castration hadn’t kept Draco on the straight and narrow, either. If that didn’t get through to the boy… well, Snape was fairly certain he had no means available to escalate further — at least, not without risking his own arrest.

    Godson or not, seeing to Draco’s education rated far below avoiding that potential consequence on Snape’s personal hierarchy of priorities.

    Of somewhat greater concern to the potions master were the potential consequences for the dragon involved. The pitfalls in that situation were varied and quite concerning. Apart from the emotional fallout over the accidental killing of a classmate — even if it was one that the boy didn’t particularly like — there was the potential for damage to the Potter Heir’s political position, and through that, damage to Snape’s long-term strategic goals.

    Harry was an asset not solely for his immense personal strength, but also for his position as the Head of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter and — much as Snape loathed the folly that had led to that detestable moniker — his position as the Boy-Who-Lived. If his reputation were to be seriously damaged before the boy was mature and in position to defend himself, his political clout could be severely eroded by the time it became crucial for the revolution.

    Caution was advisable.

    Among things to be cautious about, random dead children rated near the top of the list. Although it would have carried no legal consequence given the ages and situation involved — teaching magic was a risky business after all, even if they had gotten very good at managing those risks over the centuries — accidental manslaughter during a schoolyard practice duel would have significantly damaged the young dragon’s reputation.

    The same could be said for the revelation of the boy’s talent with parseltongue. Rightly or wrongly, the serpent language carried a stigma in Wizarding Britain, and his long-term plans could ill-afford such a blot on the boy’s good name.

    Miss Li’s fortuitous interference had been a godsend in that regard.

    As the last of the disorganized mob of students filed out of the room, the potions master considered how he might thank the girl — such service deserved appropriate recognition — to encourage the girl to continue, if nothing else. Perhaps he could offer her access to one of his rarer tomes? That was usually a safe sort of reward for a Ravenclaw…

    Though, with a bit of thought, perhaps he could do one better.

    The former spy paused for a moment carefully considering that final quietly satisfied smile from the girl… yes, he could definitely do something better, not to mention more potentially amusing. That smile was not simply an expression of satisfaction at winning an argument and besting a rival — over the years, the potions master had seen enough of those to differentiate.

    No, that was the smile of a predator — a tiger crouching as it stalked a fat deer.

    Thinking back on what he knew of Miss Li, it took Snape little effort to piece together the situation. The girl hailed from Hong Kong, a city currently under British rule on the non-magical side of things, but firmly part of the Han Empire on the magical side. It begged the question.

    Why had they sent one of their daughters halfway around the world to a British school rather than keeping her close to home?

    The Han magical tradition was just as bad as — in many ways worse than — its British counterpart, so it could be safely assumed that Miss Li had come to Hogwarts neither out of any sense of respect for the British wizarding world, nor in an attempt to forge a better life for herself. No, he’d be willing to bet a month’s salary the girl had been sent to acquire new blood for the family.

    She was out to get her MRS, as the saying went.

    In light of that, the reasons for her predatory smile became painfully obvious. A magical talent for understanding any spoken language would be an invaluable addition to the family bloodline, and when combined with his utterly absurd magical strength…

    The sallow-faced man smirked. Given the information Miss Li had to work with, it was no wonder the girl was on the hunt!

    Now the only soul remaining in the cavernous dueling hall, the potions master no longer felt the need to stifle his chuckle. Miss Abercrombie in his House and now Miss Li in Ravenclaw, in addition to Miss Granger and Miss Suze who were practically joined to the boy at the hip — both sets of hips in the centaur’s case — the wretched lizard certainly seemed to have a way with the ladies. Had Snape thought it in any way intentional, he might have taken the boy aside for a chat; as it was, though, Severus felt nothing but amusement at the situation.

    What would Miss Li do when she found herself playing crouching tiger, not to the fat deer she expected, but rather to Mr. Potter’s hidden dragon? Snape did not know the answer, but whatever it was, he was certain it would be thoroughly amusing.

    Perhaps he should shuffle the lab partners in his classes again? Learning to work with a variety of people was a valuable life skill, after all.

    Hmm…

    Yes, that would do nicely as a thank-you gift for the girl. That would do nicely, indeed.

    3.11.10 Rumors

    Despite the eminently reasonable explanation offered by Su Li, Harry’s supposedly-depraved activities as a parselmouth quickly made the rounds of the Hogwarts rumor mill, and various elements of the student body each painted their own picture of the young dragon’s supposed private life.

    Vivid imaginations were aided and abetted by Harry’s recent habit of spending his weekends away from the school. After all, if Harry had nothing to hide, why wasn’t he showing up to meals on the weekends?

    And the pastime was not limited to those with an unhealthy obsession with ophidian linguistics. Even those who disagreed with the idea of Harry as the ‘Heir of Slytherin’ came up with their own stories, for reasons as varied as the individuals telling them.

    An older Slytherin spread the idea that the Potter Heir was faking the talent to try to erode lingering support for the Dark Lord, who had played on his own parseltongue talent as proof of his pedigree.

    A young Gryffindor played up the dark wizard angle in a vague hope that it would keep Harry from dating anyone else until she was old enough to snap him up.

    A certain blonde Ravenclaw claimed that Harry was actually speaking dragon — not parseltongue at all — and that the two languages were simply mutually intelligible. She went on to explain that this was eminently sensible because Harry was obviously a dragon, so he would know.

    In the considered opinions of her housemates, she was obviously deranged.

    One of the Hufflepuffs even posited the idea that Harry was a honey-badger animagus who had cultivated the talent expressly for the purpose of taunting snakes before killing and eating them. While his housemates dismissed his explanation for the most part, they also did little to counter its spread — most rather liked the idea.

    After all, what could be more Hufflepuff than that?

    Other people just came up with stories simply because they liked telling stories, and they saw no reason to let a little thing like truth get in the way of a good story.

    Regardless of reason, Harry’s defenders among his House, and his few friends outside the House, had their hands full trying to keep up with the proliferation.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
  25. RinKaihou

    RinKaihou Lolice Officer

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    Harry better kidnap this damsel ASAP. Luna deserves all the hugs.
     
  26. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    Seconded!

    In other news, great chapter, though the English student in me is a little leery of some of the rather convoluted descriptions. "Empty yet perfectly coiffed head" comes to mind.
     
  27. Khepri14

    Khepri14 MILF Lover

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    Ah, Luna. The one who really sees the world for what it is. Luna would be my BFF if I ever made it into Hogwarts.

    Luna's the only smart one amongst you dunderheads!
     
  28. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Versed in the lewd.

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    Very nice chapter, I liked the way the Parseltongue bit was handled (despite generally disliking that sort of forced similarity to canon), however it seems odd that no one interrupted the dual after the first of Harry's overcharged spells (especially after Filtwick's comment about broken bones), and Snape's thoughts only make it worse as they make it clear he had noticed what was going on, and was worried Harry might kill Draco by accident, but don't have any reason for not stopping the Dual.
     
  29. hyperspacewizard

    hyperspacewizard I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Another great chapter. I do look forward toward any luna harry interactions I think their "genius" would be amazing bouncing off each other
     
  30. Tisaku

    Tisaku I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I'm
     
    Dunkelzahn likes this.
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