Chapter 29 // The Duelling Club
A week later, I was walking across the entrance hall with Luna, wondering when I’d finally get to talk with professor Kettleburn when I saw a small knot of people gathered around the notice board, reading a piece of parchment that had just been pinned up. Everyone looked excited.
‘Must be about the Duelling Club,’ Luna said, ‘shall we go?’
I was all for it, so at eight o’clock that evening we hurried back to the Great Hall. The long dining tables had vanished, and a golden stage had appeared along one wall, lit by thousands of candles floating overhead. The ceiling was velvety black once more and most of the school seemed to be packed beneath it, all carrying their wands and looking excited.
‘Professor Flitwick was a duelling champion when he was young,’ Luna said, while edging into the chattering crowd. I saw Ron, Harry and Hermione in the crowd and waved. They waved back, although it seemed like Ron did it only to please Hermione. After Ginny had told them about my fight with Malfoy, they had been really nice to me. I wondered if I should talk to them about Ginny’s weird behaviour.
‘Oh, no,’ Luna whispered as she pointed to the stage: Gilderoy Lockhart stood there, resplendent in robes of deep plum and accompanied by none other than Snape, wearing his usual black. I groaned as Lockhart waved an arm for silence and called ‘Gather round, gather round! Can everyone see me? Can you all hear me? Excellent!’
‘I’d rather not see his face or hear his voice ever again,’ I whispered a bit too loud. I could hear some boys laughing.
‘Now, Professor Dumbledore has granted me permission to start this little duelling club, to train you all in case you ever need to defend yourselves as I myself have done on countless occasions — for full details, see my published works. Let me introduce my assistant, Professor Snape,’ said Lockhart, flashing a wide smile. ‘He tells me he knows a tiny little bit about duelling himself and has sportingly agreed to help me with a short demonstration before we begin. Now, I don’t want any of you youngsters to worry — you’ll still have your Potions master when I’m through with him, never fear!’
‘Why does he still look so happy?’ I stared at Lockhart, who seemed oblivious to Snape’s curling lips, ‘I’d die of fear if Snape ever looked at me like that.’
Lockhart and Snape turned to face each other and bowed; at least, Lockhart did, with much twirling of his hands, whereas Snape jerked his head irritably. Then they raised their wands like swords in front of them.
‘As you see, we are holding our wands in the accepted combative position,’ Lockhart told the silent crowd. ‘On the count of three, we will cast our first spells. Neither of us will be aiming to kill, of course.’
‘One — two — three —'
Both of them swung their wands above their heads and pointed them at their opponent; Snape cried: ‘Expelliarmus!’ There was a dazzling flash of scarlet light and Lockhart was blasted off his feet: He flew backward off the stage, smashed into the wall, and slid down it to sprawl on the floor.
Draco and some of the other Slytherins cheered and even I had to admit that I loved seeing Lockhart being blown away.
Lockhart was getting unsteadily to his feet. His hat had fallen off and his wavy hair was standing on end.
‘Well, there you have it!’ he said, tottering back onto the platform. ‘That was a Disarming Charm — as you see, I’ve lost my wand — ah, thank you, Miss Brown — yes, an excellent idea to show them that, Professor Snape, but if you don’t mind my saying so, it was very obvious what you were about to do. If I had wanted to stop you it would have been only too easy — however, I felt it would be instructive to let them see…’
Snape was looking murderous. Possibly Lockhart had noticed, because he said, ‘Enough demonstrating! I’m going to come amongst you now and put you all into pairs. Professor Snape, if you’d like to help me —'
They moved through the crowd, matching up partners. Lockhart teamed me up with Luna, but I could see Ron being partnered with Finnigan and Harry with Draco.
I gave Luna a worrying look and gestured towards the pair. She shrugged and held up her wand, ready to face me. I grinned. She already knew I had a mean disarming charm, but she wasn’t afraid to face me.
‘Wands at the ready!’ shouted Lockhart. ‘When I count to three, cast your charms to disarm your opponents — only to disarm them — we don’t want any accidents — one… two… three —’
My disarming charm hit her in the stomach, making her double over. Her wand flew through the air and skidded away between the legs of duelling pairs. She gave me a thumbs-up before running to retrieve her wand.
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