Frost covered the windows of the of the Gryffindor sixth year dormitory . Tom pulled the curtains back on his four poster. Tom wasn’t so much nervous as he was excited. Today was the first match of the second round of the duel tournament and he was going to face one of his best friends Bill Weasley in the second round.
“Oi.” A pillow came flying through the air and landed with a fwump against Tom’s face. “You ready?”
Tom bent down and picked up the pillow and lobbed it back at Bill. “Why of course, Mister Weasley,” Tom said with a with a mockingly haughty voice, “are you?”
Bill’s face pulled into a wide grin. “Well of course, my dear Michael.” Bill bowed low to Tommy.
“Well, I hope you’re ready for disappointment.” Tom grinned. “I don’t plan on losing.”
“Well, you know what they say about plans, old man?” Bill smirked as he started getting himself ready for the day.
Tom chuckled. “That you can’t believe in old sayings?” His eyebrow raised as he pulled off his pajama top.”Now then, I’m going to go shower and get some breakfast. If you decide that you are afraid to face me, I will completely understand.”
“And the same goes for you, old boy.” Bill laughed as he left the dorm.
Danny was leaning up against the wall outside the Gryffindor common room, ignoring the Fat Lady’s attempts to shoo him. “Ah’m waitin’ for ane o’ yuirs, my guid wumman,” he protested after her sixth or seventh attempt to run him off.
“He’s with me, Lady.” Tommy said as he swung the portrait open. “Alright Dan?”
“Aye,” the Ravenclaw said with a grin. “You’d think efter five ‘n’ a hauf years, she’d stop interrogating me ilka time ah shawed up. Whit’s th’ new password, by th’ wey?”
The Fat Lady let out an exasperated hiss as Tom said nonchalantly said, “Flobberworm.”
“Flobberworm,” he repeated with a smile. “So are ye ready fra yuir duel wi’ Bill?”
Tom chuckled. “Yeah.” He shoved his hand in his pocket and pulled out his wand. He twirled it in between the fingers of his right hand. “It’s gonna be a lot tougher than my match with Helena. Bill may just be more clever than me.”
Danny pretended to think for a minute. “Weel, ye’r a’maist as clever as me, ‘n’ a’m a Ravenclaw, a stoatin yin at that. Sae Bill, who’s an average Gryffindor cannae be as clever as ye.” He grinned at his fellow Gent.
“Funny.” Tommy slammed his left shoulder into Danny as they walked. “All that from the guy who got stuck in his animagi form.”
“Ainlie wance, ‘n’ sin amurnay th’ Transfiguration Head’s pet, ah didnae huv th’ expert teaching me.” Danny laughed, answering with his left elbow.
“What can I say,” Tom shrugged, “I am the silent partner after all. I have to keep up the cover.”
Danny laughed again as they walked down a sweeping staircase. He dug deep into his jeans pockets and came up with a sheaf of notes. He handed the paper to Tom. “Notes oan Bill’s last duel. He’s got a couple tells.”
Tom took the paper and looked at it. “I dunno.” He shook his head slightly. “I don’t wanna cheat Bill. I want this fair.”
“Dae th’ Falcons swick if thay scout oot a Tutshill gam afore thay speil thaim?” Danny asked. “Tis nae against th’ rules. In Dueling ‘n’ Defense lest summer we hud tae read a book by a Chinese general.” The Ravenclaw paused, trying to remember the exact words. “He said ‘Know yer enemy ‘n’ ken yersel’ ‘n’ ye kin rammy a hundred battles.’ Ah figure th’ same holds true fur duels.”
Tom sighed. “Yeah, yeah I know.” Tom gave the paper a once over again. “I’ve been working on a few new tricks to use. Young Master William knows me far too well.”
Chuckling, Danny clapped his friend on the back. “Ah’ll be shuir tae take notes,” he said with a laugh as they walked into the Great Hall.
They were early. There was only a small smattering of students already in the hall. One of them being Céilidh. She did not call out, opting instead to raise her steaming mug of coffee in morning greeting. The two boys took up seats on either side of the redhead. Tom leaned over and gave Céilidh a kiss on the head.
“Morning, beautiful.” He said.
Céilidh beamed at him, then looked a Danny, “Aye kens th’ richt hings tae say, this yin daes.” She scooped a forkful of breakfast – three eggs, over easy, hash browns, and sausage all cut up and mixed together in one sticky yellow pile – into her mouth. Chasing it down with a swallow of coffee, she turned to Tom.
“Mornin’ loue. Duin fur round yin o’ th’ stoatin’ Gryffindor battle?”
Tom nodded as he sat down next to her with Danny sliding on the other side of her. “You know, I’m actually rather worried about this.” Tom grabbed a piece of buttered toast and bit into it. “I mean,” he said with a mouth full of toast, “Bill is damn good.” Tom swallowed the toast.
“Ye hae ivery richt tae be wirried.” The Hufflepuff announced his presence and swung a leg over to take a seat.
He leaned forward and shifted everybody’s attention down the Great Hall to the long table. At it the school’s headmaster was having a pleasant conversation with the diminutive charms professor who also happened to be the head of the dueling club. “A little bird telt me tha Flitwick wis juist tellin Dumbledaur tha this match is gauntae be a real nail biter. What body wins the day coud win the tourney. Definitely the final twa…”
He reached across the table and snagged the carafe to fill his mug with coffee. “Aw Dumbledaur sain wis tha fowk aft unnerestimate the Weaselys…”
Tom chuckled as he bit into his second piece of toast. “I would never underestimate Bill.”
“Ye better nae,” Danny said, taking a bite of his eggs Benedict. “An’ ye better beat him, tae. Ah’ve gat a lot mair notes on ye than Bill.”
Tom eyed Danny over the top of Céilidh’s head. “Anytime you care to try Colonial.” Tom smirked.
Danny laughed. “I might just take you up on that Welshy,” Danny replied in his best American accent.
Tom’s eyes narrowed for a moment and then he broke into a wide smile. This is what Tom needed. He could feel the butterflies ebbing out of his stomach. He grabbed a few pieces of bacon and slapped them between two more pieces of toast. He looked back at the staff table and the butterflies returned. His eyes caught the Headmaster’s, who smiled and lifted his glass of orange juice to Tommy. Tom smiled weakly back at Dumbledore.
Orlando leaned over, his shoulder pressing the Gryffindor’s. Hiding his face behind his mug he whispered, “Dumbledaur kens yuir gauntae win.”
Tom suddenly found it almost impossible to swallow. “Y-yeah.”
The Scot sat back. “Juist saying.” He poached some bacon from Danny.
“Hey guys!” Laun bounced over happily.
“Laun,” Orlando raised his mug toward the Slytherin prefect.
“Laun,” Céilidh said through a mouthful of food, “haes a’body tellt ye that ye’r tae cheery in th’ mornin’?”
“Far too cheery.” Tom grumbled beside her, feeling the butterflies resuming their formation flying in his stomach.
“Is it mornin?” Even as he spoke a yawn pried his jaw open before he could choke it back. Aside from a quick nap in the cave while decoding some research to help their discombobulated safe, he had been up since yesterday. “A thoucht ’twas still lest nicht…”
Danny raised an eyebrow. “Ah huv ne’er hud a kinch wi’ mornings in principle,” the Ravenclaw said as he sopped up some egg yolk and hollandaise with a piece of toast. “Bit how come dae thay happen sae earlie?”
His friends laughing and joking around him seemed like it was a million miles away to Tommy. His eyes scanned the Gryffindor table till it found his opponent for today, his friend and roommate.
“Well why not be cheery? Should be a great day!” Laun took a seat.
The Hufflepuff at the table scooped up some of the potatoes. “A day is like a brakfast, it needs tae be digeested ower tyme.” He paused a bit. “Wi coffee. And a nip o whiskey gif it’s really a guid day.”
“Oor a ill ane.”
Before Tom knew what had happened, the long house tables were pushed against the walls and the raised dueling platform stood in their stead. Tom stood staring at the platform his mahogany wand tapping nervously against his leg. He took in several deep, slow breaths. He closed his eyes and could see the duel unfold in front of him in his mind’s eye.
As the room began to fill, Tom could feel most of the eyes in the room on him and Bill. There was an anticipation about this duel. Bill had laid waste to John Krease of Slytherin in under two minutes, while Tom had almost lost to Helena Gomes of Ravenclaw in his first round match. Never mind that Helena had been a deceptively strong dueler, or that apparently Dumbledore himself thought Tom might win the duel, the talk of the club was that Bill was almost assured a place in the final eight.
Tom’s nerves steeled themselves. Again he could hear the words of Professor Qasim run through his head, You are sharp. Intelligent. You have all the makings of an excellent auror. Listen to what your mind tells you. Tom’s eyes opened with a jerk and a lopsided confident smile arched across his face. He was going to win.
“Wands at the ready.” Squeaked Professor Flitwick.
Bill flicked his wand up toward Tommy and back down again. “Good luck, old boy.”
Tom smiled back as he raised his wand. “Same to you, sir.”
The match was on.
“Stupify!” Bill’s wand stabbed at the air. A red jet of light shot through the air toward Tom.
Tom dove out of the way at the last moment. The red jet of magical energy sparked as it hit the wood of the platform. Tom recovered quickly and spun around to retort, but Bill fired again. “Carpe Retractum!” A rope shot from the tip of Bill’s wand and wrapped around Tom’s leg. Bill pulled tight slamming Tom to the ground of the dueling platform.
All the air escaped from Tom’s lungs. He could see the pop of tiny fireworks in front of his eyes as he tried to pull himself back together. His eyes went wild around the hall, and caught Céilidh’s. Her eyes sparkled with worry. That was enough to pull Tommy back together. He pointed his wand at the rope and with a bang the rope around his ankle snapped. Tom pulled himself back up to his feet the whole time brandishing his wand at Bill.
Bill however continued to press his advance. He slashed his wand again at Tom, “Confundo!”
Tom slashed his wand in retaliation. “Protego!”
Bill’s spell slammed into Tommy’s shield charm and the two exploded in a flash of blue light that radiated through the hall like an exploding firework. Again the eldest Weasley slashed his wand. “Everte Statum!” The air between the two Gryffindors rippled like the waves of a still pond when a pebble is tossed into it.
Tom tried to put up another shield charm but wasn’t in time. The wave hit him full, launching him spinning through the air, and deposited him back to the ground with a sickening thud. Once again, the air left his lungs.
He attempted to pull himself up again with his now shaking arms. His ears rang. All the noise of the great hall came to Tom like he was yards underwater. Everything was muffled. He heard what he thought was Bill yelling out another spell.
Tom was now running only on instinct. He rolled again more feeling than hearing the spell blistering the floor of the platform where he was a second before. He rolled again, missing getting hit again by the merest of inches. He knew he needed to act, that he absolutely needed to get into this fight and now.
He rolled forwards slashing his wand towards Bill. “Stupify!” His spell missed it’s mark by inches. In those inches however, Bill had given Tom the opening he finally needed.
Tom snarled as he fired another spell, “Glisseo!” This time he hit. The ground underneath Bill became slick as ice.
The Gryffindor Prefect’s feet slipped and slid along the surface of the dueling field. Finally he lost footing and landed backside first on the ground, but that didn’t stop the slide.
Tom then pointed his wand at the ground just in front of Bill’s path. “Subsido,” The floor of the dueling field transfigured into a hole filled with clear cold water in front of Bill that the Gryffindor Prefect could not miss.
With a splash Bill landed backside first into the newly created water.
Tom finally got back to his feet as Bill sputtered his way out of the dunk tank. Bill turned back to face Tommy and slashed his wand again at Tommy.
Tom was ready however. He pointed his wand at the water in front of him. “Aqua Eructo!” A column of water ushered from the tank. Almost immediately he cast again, “Duro!” The column of water turned into stone just at the spell hit it sending red sparks splattering against it’s surface.
Bill swore under his breath as he swung his wand to make the stone column go away. As soon as it vanished, he saw Tom smiling in front of him.
The blast of light shot toward Bill. He dove out of the way as quickly as he could. The spell glanced off of one of Bill’s fingers, and his wand hit the floor just as Bill’s body did. The Gryffindor prefect dove for his wand, but Tommy was just a second faster.
“Geminio!” A quick flash of light hit the wand just as Bill’s fingers hit it.
A shower of wands issued for Bill’s fingertip where his own wand had been.
Bill scrambled after the each of the wands and as he grabbed them, they burst into more wands.
A smile grew on Tom’s face. He slashed his wand at Bill, “Everte Statum!” Bill was shot back through the air, landing far away from the large pile of copied wands.
A whistle issued from the tiny Head of Ravenclaw house. “Llewelyn wins!”
As the assembled crowd cheered and clapped, Tom waved his wand and the spell faded.
Tom walked up to Bill and extended his hand, “You almost had me, sir.”
Bill grasped his hand. “It was brilliant, Tommy, even though you won.” He grinned and pulled the other Gryffindor into a hug.
A small red-capped blur struck the two boys. “Stoatin duel, baith o’ ye.”
“Thanks, love.” Tom groaned under the weight of his still aching back.
“I appreciate that, Céilidh.” the prefect beamed as he pointed his wand at his clothes and warm, drying air hit them.
Danny stepped forward and clapped both of his classmates on the shoulder. “Stoatin battle, brother. Ye tae cousin.”
“It really was.” Popping up under Danny’s arm, Rose waited until Tommy’s clothes were fully dry before giving him a hug. “You both had me on the edge of my seat.”
“Best duel o the tourney, lads. Haunds doun.” Foozle shot a thumbs up to Bill. “Gif ye hae tae lose, tha’s the wey tae dae it, mate.”
Bill chuckled. “Yeah, yeah..”
The Scot grinned and gently pressed his knuckles against Tommy’s chin. “A wisnae wirried fer a mament…”
“Bloody hell, I was worried enough for the both of us trust me.” He threw his arm around Bill.