‘They’re starting a Duelling Club!’ said Seamus. ‘First meeting tonight! I wouldn’t mind duelling lessons, they might come in handy one of these days …’ … Ron was holding up an ashen-faced Seamus, apologising for whatever his broken wand had done …
(Ch. 11 The Duelling Club, Chamber of Secrets)
Hah! That Lockhart bloke is a right tosser! Snape really got him good. Merlin, it’s a pity to cheer on Snape, but with a loser like Lockhart it isn’t much of a choice.
This is going to be completely cool. I’m Luke Skywalker having a showdown with Darth Vader. I remember getting my wand before school started and thinking how I finally got to have a real light sabre of my own – better even, ’cause a wand does real magic. I’ve always wanted to face off against the enemy, like the ultimate Star Wars battle of good versus evil, and now I can whip Dean’s arse after that totally unfair game of Exploding Snap. I’m not going to be the only one with a crispy nose.
Uh-oh, Snape’s coming this way, but it’s too late to avoid him.
‘Time to split up the dream team, I think,’ he sneers down at Harry. ‘Weasley, you can partner Finnigan.’
Too bad; Dean’ll have to wait. Plenty more opportunities will come my way though … maybe I could get him over near that Venomous Tentacula in Herbology …
‘Well, Weasley, think you can stand the heat?’ I challenge as we move to a clear area of the Hall. There is no way a Finnigan is going to come off second-best in a duel. The family honour is at stake here, and I plan to do whatever it takes to come out on top.
Ron laughs. ‘Give me your best, Finnigan, you know I’ll be the last man standing.’
‘In your dreams, rat-boy. You haven’t seen me light sabre at work yet.’
‘Your what?’ Ron looks perplexed.
‘Hah! Never you mind. Prepare to meet your doom, Darth Vader.’ Ron might be taller, but I’m small and quick, a definite advantage in duelling. Plus, it’s a dead cinch to distract him with Muggle talk.
Ron shakes his head at me and mutters ‘barmy’ under his breath. We salute each other and I breathe in deeply, close my eyes for a split second, then gaze piercingly into Ron’s eyes and in my eeriest voice say, ‘May the Force be with you!’
‘The what? What force?’ Ron is confused. Excellent. Before he has fully taken his stance, I strike, thrusting my wand forward, giving it a twist and yelling ‘Expelliarmus!’
Ron is on the hop and gets his wand up just after mine; not that he’ll have it for long, because I know my spell came out before his. When Ron shouts ‘Expelliarmus’, there’s a cracking sound and flash of light, which is not normal for the disarming spell (so Granger will inform us later). It happens in an instant, but I see it in slow motion. His wand flies out of his hand towards me and it looks like the beam from the Death Star – well OK, not quite, but it does look like a spark of electricity, and it heads straight for me. My hand reaches for it instinctively and the next thing I know … is nothing.
Well, that’s not exactly true, either. The next thing I know is that I’m flat on my back and my head is pounding so bad I think I finally understand why Uncle Mick is always so grumpy after pub nights. I’m sweating all over and it feels like there’s a hundred people crowding over my chest and face. I groan. Just go away and leave me alone, I think, and wish I was back to knowing nothing. Much more comfortable, that.
‘Oh Merlin, I’m so sorry, Seamus, I’m really sorry. Oh God, do you think he’ll wake up? Wake up, Seamus, speak to me! It was my bloody wand, useless piece of junk. I’m so sorry. Wake up, Seamus, come on, mate, you can do it, get up.’
I didn’t know Ron could string together so many words that weren’t about food or Quidditch. I chuckle a little at the thought, which makes someone think I’m dying. I hear their little scream and they say ‘the death rattle!’ while another – a smooth, sneering voice (bugger, it’s Snape) – says ‘don’t be ridiculous, he’s fine’. Some arms are helping me to sit, so I figure it’s about time I opened my eyes.
Bad idea. I quickly shut them again. Now I’m shaking and shivering and clammy all over. ‘Have I been carbon-frozen?’ I ask the universe in general.
I hear Dean chuckle with relief, but Ron gives a hysterical, high-pitched laugh. ‘What?!’ he says. ‘Merlin’s beard, Seamus, I thought you were a goner. You were fully out of it for a whole minute.’
‘Hah,’ I manage to say as Ron draws me to a standing position and I lean on his shoulder. ‘It takes more than a prissy little Weasley-jinx to get the better of me.’
By the time I make it to the end of this momentous speech I can barely manage a whisper. I look now, and see the relief on Ron’s face. He must’ve been pretty scared to be looking that pale. He probably thinks I hate him now. Well, only one way to fix that …
‘Don’t think I’ll forget this, Weasley, you tosser,’ my scratchy voice says. ‘When you least expect it –’ I pause for dramatic effect (but also because I can’t really go on without taking a breath) ‘– expect it!’ I give him a weak grin.
He grins back, still supporting me, and all is right with the world – or will be once I recover from hibernation sickness.