Hermione threw the new ingredients into the cauldron and began to stir feverishly.

“It’ll be ready in two weeks,” she said happily.

“Snape can’t prove it was you,” said Ron reassuringly to Harry. “What can he do?”

“Knowing Snape, something foul,” said Harry as the potion frothed and bubbled.

A week later, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were walking across the entrance hall when they saw a small knot of people gathered around the notice board, reading a piece of parchment that had just been pinned up. Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas beckoned them over, looking excited.

“They’re starting a Dueling Club!” said Seamus. “First meeting tonight! I wouldn’t mind dueling lessons; they might come in handy one of these days…”

“What, you reckon Slytherin’s monster can duel?” said Ron, but he, too, read the sign with interest.

“Could be useful,” he said to Harry and Hermione as they went into dinner. “Shall we go?”

Harry and Hermione were all for it, so at eight o’clock that evening they 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.

“I wonder who’ll be teaching us?” said Hermione as they edged into the chattering crowd. “Someone told me Flitwick was a dueling champion when he was young—maybe it’ll be him.”

“As long as it’s not—” Harry began, but he ended on a groan: Gilderoy Lockhart was walking onto the stage, resplendent in robes of deep plum and accompanied by none other than Snape, wearing his usual black.

Lockhart waved an arm for silence and called “Gather round, gather round! Can everyone see me? Can you all hear me? Excellent!

“Now, Professor Dumbledore has granted me permission to start this little dueling 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 dueling 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!”



“Wouldn’t it be good if they finished each other off?” Ron muttered in Harry’s ear.

Snape’s upper lip was curling. Harry wondered why Lockhart was still smiling; if Snape had been looking at him like that he’d have been running as fast as he could in the opposite direction.

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.”

“I wouldn’t bet on that,” Harry murmured, watching Snape baring his teeth.

“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.


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