Harry trudged up the stairs to his next class. Not particularly happy to go to History of Magic, he resigned himself to another class full of boring lecture about ancient goblin wars.
Two days into his sixth year, Harry was working through a lot of things in his life. Balancing the war with Voldemort, his friendships at school, and Sirius’ death – Harry had a lot to think about. Two-hundred-year-old goblin rebellions weren't the most pressing thing on his mind. Especially when a half-mad ghost teaches them, thought Harry, grimly. Professor Binns wasn't a terrible teacher. He was just the school's driest and most boring teacher. Continuing his way up the staircase, Harry knew he was cutting it close — class was about to start and he wasn't even in the classroom yet.
Harry crested the top of the staircase only to bump into Ron Weasley's back. "Oy! Hang on there, mate!" exclaimed Ron. Harry caught his balance and then noticed the group of students. Glancing further down the mass of bodies, he saw the door to the History of Magic classroom was closed.
"Why are we queuing?" Harry whispered to Ron.
"No idea," Ron whispered back. "Maybe Binns shuffled his last shuffle off this mortal coil. Again, if you know what I mean."
Harry grinned at the implied joke. He added his own. "Maybe he kicked his final bucket."
"Cashed in his chips?"
"Bit the big one?"
"Finally kicked his oxygen habit?"
"Moved into upper management?"
"Given up his inner ghost?"
"Assumed room temperature?"
"Is pushing up the daisies?"
"Went permanently into the fertilizer business?"
Harry lost it at Ron's last statement and began a series of concealed snorts, guffaws and coughs. Not oblivious to the whole exchange, Hermione turned around from a place in front of them and shot them both a look. It only made them both laugh all the harder.
Neville had heard the exchange too, and was grinning, along with Dean. "You forgot 'Rung down the curtain and joined the Choir Invisible!'" said Dean, trying desperately to muffle his chuckles. Neville snickered and added, "That parrot's not dead!"
Monty Python sketches had become increasingly funny that year, probably because Muggle Studies had used the sketches in their "Muggle Humour" week. Hermione had been the most vocal against the boys quoting them during light moments, but the "Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink" comments had continued.
"Boys!" Hermione said, turning away from the group. But not before Harry caught a small smile on her lips that she quickly covered with a cough.
The classroom door opened suddenly and Professor McGonagall stepped through it. "Attention, please," she said. She waited until the murmuring of the waiting students quieted.
"I'm certain all of you are curious why Professor Binns isn't here to teach you today," she said. "This year's unit on the History of Magic will have guest teachers, as you will be not studying the prescribed sixth year course."
Hermione sighed. Harry hid his grin. He knew she had already read the textbook. She'd probably even done some homework ahead of time.
McGonagall continued. "At the request of Headmaster Dumbledore, we've altered the History course this year to a new track. All will be explained when you meet your first teacher. He's going to be the head teacher for the course this year, and you will have a few other associates as well."
She paused, weighing her next words carefully. "Some of you may know of him, and he's here in Britain on business and will be here for only the first semester to instruct you." McGonagall motioned for the students to enter the classroom. "You may go in, everything is now ready."
As Harry and Ron slowly made their way to the classroom door, they could hear exclamations of dismay as the other students walked in. Quickly losing all their previous levity at what could be anything, Ron was the first to look around the door into the classroom.
"Bloody hell," he muttered. Harry looked over his shoulder.
"You said it," Harry said. "I never thought I'd see that thing again."
The boys stared incredulously at a dueling platform, decorated with a blue canvas with golden stars and moons artfully arranged. Behind the platform were several tables with books and other assorted items. The boys dismissed the tables and their focus fell on the dueling platform.
It was the same platform Lockhart had used in their third year.
"He can't .... he can't be out," Ron stammered. "He can't be out of St. Mungo’s. He just can't."
A voice startled them from their shocked stupor.
"Who can't be out of where? I hope it's not me you're talking about," said a strong, even voice from behind them.
The pair whirled around to see a man standing next to McGonagall. Holding a broom, the man was dressed in a pair of jeans, a plain black t-shirt and a pair of new trainers. Harry saw Ron’s brow furrow while his lips mouthed “Nike.” It was then that the man’s face registered in Harry’s mind. You’ve got to be kidding me…
Harry felt his head start to spin as he stared at the man. "You're ... you're not, I mean, er..." Harry choked out. Ron glanced back at the now-smiling man. The man shrugged and motioned to the open classroom door.
"Let's start the class. Is that alright with you guys?" he said, stepping past the boys.
The man’s American accent was heavy in the air. "Who is that Yank?" he asked a befuddled Harry. "Do you know him?"
Harry turned, wide-eyed to Ron. "It's Tony Hawk."
Ron flumped down into a seat beside Hermione and Harry. They all studied the man as Hawk smoothly made his way to the front of the class and laid a broom down on a table. Murmurs and whispers began to race across the room as Hawk drew his wand and opened all the shutters to the windows along the classroom wall.
"Who is Tony Hawk?" Ron whispered loudly to Harry. Harry noticed, absently, that the Muggle-raised male students, like himself, seemed to be in shock. Harry quickly turned back to the man as he began to speak.
"To answer your question, yes, my name is Tony Hawk," said the man, standing in front of the class. "I'm here in Britain on an extended business trip, and your headmaster asked me to guest instruct your class. Is your regular teacher really a ghost?"
Neville was the first to answer. "Yes sir. He teaches us History of Magic," he said. "Though..."
"... he's boring you with ancient history and nothing relating to today, am I right?" interrupted Hawk.
Neville nodded, slowly.
"Hm. Well, I think the next few days will be much more fun," said Hawk, gesturing to the dueling platform and the assortment of items on the tables. "But ... yes, you have a question?" Hawk pointed to Dean, who had raised his hand.
"I'm sorry sir, but, er, ah, you're ... Tony Hawk? The Tony Hawk?" Dean said, eyes bright.
"I'm the only Tony Hawk I know," said the teacher, smiling.
"And you're a ... a ..." Dean floundered.
"Wizard? Oh yes. Did you think there aren't wizards or witches in America? There are quite a few in the United States," Hawk said. "But that's not why I'm here." He reached inside his robes and withdrew a loop of ribbon attached to a round disc of metal. He held it up for the class to see. "How many of you know what this is?" he asked.
Hermione raised her hand tentatively. After Hawk pointed to her, she spoke. "It looks like a medal. Like one you get at the Olympics," she said.
Hawk grinned. "Right. This is the last gold medal I won in Acrobatics at the 2004 games in Athens," he said.
Several hands shot into the air. Harry's mind was whirling. Acrobatics? he thought. What's that? His thoughts were interrupted by Neville's question.
"Sir, Dean said you, uh, skateboarded. What's that?" Neville asked. Harry noticed that Ron was on the edge of his seat in anticipation of Hawk's response. He also noticed that he was on the edge of his seat, too.
"Well, to answer your question, I began flying brooms when I was really young, oh, around four or so. I also got involved in a Muggle sport called skateboarding. It's a flat platform on wheels, made for doing tricks and such," said Hawk. He picked up a skateboard from the desk. It was gray and silver, and sported a skeleton hawk screaming down from the sky with "Tony Hawk" in red lettering. "This is one of my favorites. I used one like this to do my first 900 in the X-Games in '99."
Hawk looked at the puzzled looks on some of the students’ faces. "I did two-and-a-half mid-air turns — on a skateboard. While jumping it about twenty feet into the air. At a Muggle competition. It was the first time anyone had done it — but I'm retired from Muggle competitions. But I've medaled in three different Olympics in Acrobatics," he said.
"But enough about me." He set the board down on the table.
"How many of you know about the Wizarding Olympic Games?" he asked.
About half the class raised their hands. Harry and Hermione stared as Ron raised his hand.
"Alright ... and how many of you – those raising your hands – are wizard-born?" Hawk asked. Most of the hands stayed airborne.
Hawk chuckled. "Well, at least the WIOC is doing their job. Muggles don't know about the Wizarding Olympic Games because they work really hard at keeping them secret," he said. He looked over the class. "You may lower your hands, now."
Hawk turned to the tables behind him and levitated copies of the same book to the desk of each student. Harry caught the thin, blue textbook and studied the title. "Olympic Magic: A History of the Wizarding Olympic Games, 1704 to the present." He hurriedly opened the book to the table of contents page and scanned the sections. His eye quickly caught the Chapter Three heading: Olympic Quidditch. He thumbed to the section, finding a large, moving photograph of the 2004 Gold medal team from Australia.
"No doubt some of you are wondering what the whole Wizarding Olympics is about," said Hawk. "It all began in 1704 – and to spare you the most boring details, I've arranged demonstrations of the major events." He quickly hopped up onto the dueling platform and eyed the class. "Before we start, let me say one thing. A long time ago, a Muggle Olympic official summed up the spirit of the games," he said.
Harry caught Hawk looking at him from atop the platform.
"He said, 'The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.' "
Hawk fell silent for a moment as the class stilled. The moment was electric, yet peaceful at the same time. Harry felt as if the statement had been directed right at him, and yet he felt the touch of ... something within him. A feeling of exhilaration, joy, acceptance and happiness that he had never felt before.
Hawk's voice cut through the silence like a knife. "Some of you," and he glanced back at Harry, "might feel a touch of that Olympic spirit now. I hope you understand it. When you come together as competitors and represent your country, your family, your sport, and feel that ... spirit ... you'll never be the same. Sometimes we can get caught up in medal counts, nationalities, and stuff, but in the end, we're all in this together."
Silence continued. Hawk glanced around the room and he smiled again.
"Well, let's not get too sappy," he said. "Let's talk about Dueling, the oldest event at the games. How much dueling experience have you all had?"
Harry turned red as almost every head in the room turned to him. He mentally half-cursed himself for ever thinking of the DA. He raised his hand. "I was the leader of a dueling club last year, sir," he said.
"Great! Come on down here, Harry. We're going to do a simple demonstration," said Hawk. Harry hesitated. Remembering his previous duel with Malfoy on the platform, he wasn't sure if he wanted to do that again. Then he realised that Tony Hawk knew his name. Tony Hawk knows my name! thought Harry. He slowly stood up from his desk.
Hawk noticed Harry hesitation. "Don't worry. We're not going to hurt each other." Harry began to walk to the platform. Hawk continued talking to the class.
"Dueling is the oldest event in the Olympics," Hawk said. "There's Singles, which use this platform here, and Doubles and Team Dueling. The rules are fairly simple." He motioned with his wand to one of the blackboards and a chart unrolled itself from the top of the board. It read:
WIOC Dueling Standards
1. No killing.
2. No Unforgivables.
3. Each competitor is to continue unless:
-- Forced off the platform
-- A competitor is rendered unconscious for a full count of 20 seconds.
-- Loss of wand.
4. Wands only. No exceptions.
5. No amputations, dismemberments or other bodily disfigurements.
Hawk turned back to the class. "Today we'll talk about each rule. Dueling is really formalized. You Brits," he smiled again, "the French and the Spanish have hammered out the rules over centuries. So what we have today," he waved at the platform, "is much different than when duelists competed back in 1704. For one thing, we're not naked."
Harry groaned as he climbed up to the platform. "You mean they fought starkers?" he asked.
"Yep," said Hawk. "The WIOC - oh, I mean the Wizarding International Olympic Committee, has been fighting against cheating since the beginning of the games. Some dueling was done in the nude, taking away the influence of magical items in the contest other than a wand. And when Muggle Fencing began to be popular, the WIOC adopted a standard of clothing. Some duelists wear pretty fancy get-ups, I understand."
Harry remembered Lockhart's elaborate robes, waistcoat and cape. He gave a mental shudder.
Hawk continued. "All duelists are subjected to rigorous searches before competing, along with wand weighing and testing," he said. "And although it is rare, wandless magic is also frowned upon. Despite some heavy protests, the European community has kept Dueling more of a ritualised, formal form of combat. The French and Spanish delegations of the International Duelists Association fought for that, and Olympic Dueling concentrates only on wand disarming and platform dislodging."
Hermione raised her hand. "Sir, isn't that still a wide and broad description? I mean, there are a lot of spells that could be categorized as 'platform dislodgers'. "
Hawk smiled. "Yes, there are. But that last rule, number five?" he said, pointing to the poster. "As long as it doesn't draw blood or cause permanent damage, it's wide open."
He glanced at Harry. "Want to try me?" Hawk said.
Harry grinned. "Disarm only, right?" he asked.
Hawk nodded, motioning to the rules chart. "Most of the rules are easy to follow. First timers have to work which spells to use," he said. He grinned back at Harry. "I know you've had some experience in dueling, but Olympic duelists use some pretty strange spells to win, sometimes. So, let's see if 'The-Boy-Whose-Name-Is-Hyphenated' is all that. Okay?"
Harry grinned even wider. He liked this Yank. And the fact that he was a multi-millionaire skateboarding god was just background information, now. The two faced off, bowed and walked back to their respective places.
Harry remembered how Lockhart had showed them the 'official' offensive stance. Wand out, left arm curled up behind him. Hawk mirrored his stance.
Hawk moved first. "Aspiro Bruma!" he shouted. Harry blocked the cold blast of air with his arms. He'd never felt the Air Blast Charm before, but it pushed him back a few feet, almost off the platform. He charged forward a few extra steps. He and Hawk traded spell after spell for several minutes. Finally, Harry fell back onto the spells he had taught in the DA.
"Expelliarmus!" he shouted. A flash of light later, Hawk had blocked the spell into the ceiling. He thrust his wand forward and cast a spell Harry had never heard of. "Excido Digitus!"
A yellow flash of sparks hit Harry's hands. He had tried to block them, but found his hands very slippery. His wand tumbled to the blue canvas. He stared at his hands, now covered in a slippery, oily substance. "Don't worry," said Hawk, walking over to Harry. He muttered a counter-charm and Harry's hands were immediately dry. "Most Duelists have dozens of spells ready to knock your wand out of your hands." he said to the class. "It counts as a point -- that and getting knocked off the platform. The first to ten wins the match."
He bent over, picked up Harry's wand, and handed it back. "In a real duel you'd kick the crap out of me," Hawk whispered under his breath. "And I think you'd give any Olympic duelist a run for their money." He smiled, turned back to the class and jumped down from the platform. Harry followed close after him. He motioned for Harry to take his seat.
"Let's see, um, points. You guys do points here. Let's say ten to your house for the medal identification," he said, pointing to Hermione. "And ten more to Harry for enduring the Butterfingers Hex. It's really the only good one I know, and I'm not really that good at dueling."
Harry saw Hermione's face beam as he took his seat. Ron's hand was in the air, waving frantically. Hawk pointed to him and indicated for Ron to speak.
"Mr. Hawk, do you know Philip St. John?" Ron asked, his eyes a bit wide. Harry had heard the name somewhere, he just couldn't place it.
Hawk shook his head. "I only have seen him at the last few Olympics," he said. "I didn't spend a lot of time at the Dueling venue – I spent most of my time at the Aerial events. But I know of him – most of you should." He motioned to their textbooks. "On page 22 you'll see an entry for him. He's the only Duelist to win the Singles gold medal in four successive Olympics – ever. And he's from right here in jolly old England."
That drew several smiles from the class. St. John was apparently known to the students. Lockhart had claimed he had tutored the man while expounding about his vast and glorious exploits. Harry had missed the references to the Olympics, but wasn't surprised. He and Ron hadn't really read all the rubbish books Lockhart had assigned them to read.
"St. John is one of the premier duelists in the world," said Hawk. "I think most of you would like for him to come out of retirement, and go for a fifth medal, right? At the vigorous nods of several students, Hawk grinned and continued. “Thought so. Well, Singles Dueling is the premier event, with several competitors entering. In order to weed out the large number of applicants, each country was limited to a team of twelve in the 1928 games. That made just about everyone mad in almost every country, but the WIOC held their ground."
Hawk revealed a few more charts and diagrams that unrolled themselves from the top of the blackboards. He continued.
"The twelve are allowed to enter a pool that is similar to the Quidditch rounds. Each competitor advances or loses in a double-elimination contest, with the first two rounds not affecting the rankings. Yes?" he said, pointing to a Hufflepuff girl at the back of the room.
"You mentioned Doubles and Teams. What is that?" asked the girl.
"Doubles is pretty new, considering. It was started in 1910 – influenced by Muggle tennis and wrestling – and still goes on today," Hawk answered. He gestured to the platform. "They don't use these – they use a 25-foot circle as the dueling area. The rules are still the same, but with much more crazy results as your blocking moves get more elaborate and the number of spells is just nuts. Bodily contact is common, but some countries frown on it. I know Brits don't like it, but a lot of South American and Asian competitors use it.
"Team events are a combination of both Singles and Doubles. Each country's team chooses three doubles and six singles to compete in a pool. The team with the most finalists wins the gold.
"You Brits and Italians have been favorites in the singles and doubles events over the years. Team competitions have varied, but the last 'sweep' of all twelve duelists was in the 1912 games when we Americans won the gold, the last time the USA medaled like that. The French and Filipino teams are heavy favorites."
He paused. "I've been doing a lot of talking, and not enough demonstration. And if some of you don't mind going down to the Quidditch field – uh, I mean, pitch – then we can continue this with some more fun ... on a broom."
The class immediately started to hum with anticipation. Harry's eyes were wide. If Tony Hawk was half as good on a broom than he was on a skateboard...
"Let's go then," Hawk said, gathering up an armful of brooms and other devices, and led the class out the door.
A/N: I’m a big fan of Tony Hawk, and after watching him do his 900 in the X-Games in 1999, I was convinced the man is a wizard. At least on a skateboard. My thanks go to my beta, Sherry, and her help in fine tuning, and to my prebeta, Crys, whose help in idea construction was invaluable. I’d appreciate your reviews – more action is to come, don’t worry! This Harry fic is for fun – don’t expect any angst or chapters full of fluff – but we’ll see all our favorite characters go for the gold!