The Forgotten Memory
Chapter 15: The Courtyard Duel
Albus and Scorpius started training themselves up during the week they had before the duel started. The first day of the weekday was filled with different spells to learn, and Albus felt pushed to master each of them.
Macmillan in the Defense Against the Dark Arts class taught them the simple counter curse, ‘Finite.’ Albus found it relatively easy. He partnered with Mark once again, and using the Cruento spell they learnt last time, he was to end the curse using Finite. Macmillan awarded five points to Slytherin when Albus successfully warded the curse off Mark for a third time.
There was no mistake. Mark wasn’t happy that Albus of all people was the one to curse him, and clean him. But tensions between Albus and Mark were running high since Albus accepted Mark’s challenge. Albus braced himself for a hit. He felt his nose overflow, and Mark hung back a while to watch. Albus was on the point of erasing it himself when Macmillan called, “Stop! Everyone, study Chapter 7 of the Standard Book of Spells Grade One. You finish it for homework. We’ll be starting that next time.”
Mark groaned. He erased the curse, and returned to sit with the twins. Albus sat beside Scorpius and Walter, who just started to join Scorpius’ conversations with Riley about Quidditch. Ever since Albus asked Walter to witness the duel the coming weekend, Walter was excitedly following him and Scorpius everywhere.
“I can’t wait! D’you think you’d like Malcolm out there to watch. I was thinking of telling him, but I know you’re not on good terms with him. D’you think”-
“Walt, we’re trying to concentrate on useful spells,” Scorpius interrupted him as they turned into the library. “If you want us to win, you’re gonna be quiet.”
Transfiguration only got harder. Cora Redgrow moved them on to transforming quills into pencils. Half the class got it wrong because they never heard of pencils before. It was one thing Scorpius found he could not do at all, and Albus was only a little better. Indeed, the only ones in the class seemingly able to do it were Mark and Rose.
After what seemed like an eternity, Saturday finally arrived. It was snowing quite a bit. The first white day was the duel day as well. He wondered silently if he could possibly get the snow in Mark’s face and distract him. Albus was telling Scorpius how cool it would be to use the battlefield as an advantage and show Slytherin resourcefulness. “Maybe a surprise snowball.”
Before they could formulate a plan, the door banged open, and Joel Herbert came in. Scorpius, who was reading up some spells, looked up. Prefect in a first year dormitory? It could only mean trouble. Joel had a stern look on his face, and said, “I heard you were planning on engaging in a duel today.”
Albus shrugged, and Scorpius closed the book, marking it with his finger. They both could guess quite accurately who put him up to this. It was Rosie. Albus gulped, “So what?’
“So… it’s against the rules,” Joel complained. “I just want to warn you. If you two engage in a duel, it’s grounds for suspension. It’s within my duty to inform a teacher if it gets out of hand.”
Before Albus could respond, Scorpius said convincingly, “As first years, and as first-time offenders, the most we could possibly get under just rules is detention. We’re only dueling outside, and that’s allowed.”
Joel shrugged. He’d warned them. The day passed, and at ten to five in the afternoon, Albus and Scorpius took Riley and Walter, and they made their way down to the courtyard. It was empty and deserted, but Mark would definitely show up.
Riley and Walter were sitting down cross-legged on the snow when the front doors opened, and out walked four small figures. Now Albus looked at them from afar, he could tell. Mark was very petite. Alex and Eric were taller than him, but smaller than average first years. So too was Laura. The group of first year Gryffindors this year were very small, Albus almost felt bad for them.
Albus sized himself up. He was as tall as the twins, but he didn’t think much of it. He faced Mark bravely. Scorpius whipped his wand out. Mark did the same, and Albus followed. Eric already had his out. The four faced each other across of the field.
“Seconds are usually there to come in if you die,” Alex told them. “Since we’re not killing each other, seconds are for tag teaming. Fair?” The response was unanimous shrugging.
The first to start was Mark. He bowed, and respectfully raised his wand. Albus followed. Scorpius and Eric bowed to each other, though they might’ve been nodding for the size of the bow.
“And…” Alex started. “START!”
Mark was too quick to Albus. He fired a spell at once, “Cruento.” The curse barely missed Albus, and Mark took no time to fire another. Albus felt his nose shrivel up, and blood started flowing.
Albus wanted to use the counter curse, but Mark wasn’t going to allow it easily. He rolled away from another spell, blood staining the snow. From the ground, Albus gasped, “Flipendo.” The Jinx hit Mark in the legs, and he fell over, flying back about two feet. Albus pointed his wand to his own nose and whispered “Finite.”
Mark staggered back up, but had to duck again as Albus aimed a Bogie Curse at him. Mark aimed for a Cold curse, but another of Albus’ Bogie Curses met it in midair, and they collided. A blast of yellow and green sparks flew out like galaxies.
Whatever Albus expected, it was definitely not this. When Albus said Mark wasn’t very talented, he didn’t know how he was in a duel. Mark wasn’t kidding at all, and he was definitely holding back in Defense Against the Dark Arts that Halloween day. He was fast. Too fast.
Through the dissipating green and yellow sparks flew a quick burst of light, and Albus felt his legs tied together. He recognized it. The Leg-locker Curse. With his legs tied, he tried to fire in vain, but Mark ducked it effortlessly. Running forward, head ducked low, Mark kicked a bunch of snow in Albus’ face, and when Albus coughed it out, and wiped his eyes, he felt himself being pushed to the ground. Just as Albus lifted the curse off himself, Laura let out a squeal of delight, and Eric laughed. He gave Alex five, and they watched as Mark placed his wand threateningly on Albus’ neck.
The duel might’ve been over quickly but just as Mark pointed his wand at him, Albus rolled away and a jet of red light narrowly missed him. He jumped up and sensing defeat, tagged Scorpius in.
The duel was over. Scorpius groaned. Mark had taken Albus down so easily, and now it was his turn. Mark clapped Eric in and Scorpius’ opponent changed. Eric walked toward Scorpius firmly and unafraid. Scorpius raised his wand, and started, “Flipendo.”
Eric moved to the side to avoid it, and ducked a Curse of the Bogies. For a couple of first years, they knew very few spells. One thing was for sure though, Scorpius was better than Albus was. He knew exactly what to do. He wasn’t as fast as Mark, but he seemed to know more spells. “Locomotor Mortis.”
Eric suffered the same fate as Mark did. Scorpius smirked, and threw a Knock-back Jinx at him. Mark grinned. “Excellent.” He said aloud. “Two Slytherins for myself. This’ll be good.”
Scorpius was the first to fire. The disadvantage he had was that Mark already knew Scorpius’ strategy after watching the duel with Eric. As a matter of fact, that might’ve been the plan. But then, so did Scorpius. Scorpius jumped over an aimed Leg-locker, and ducked from an almost immediate Cold Curse. Scorpius aimed from the bottom, “Mucus ad Nauseam.”
Mark barely ducked it and Albus could see what was happening. He had to tag Scorpius in because he would have lost otherwise, but Scorpius had no intention of tagging until he lost. He enjoyed the spotlight. Mark and Eric worked together. They could win easily. Albus would have to gain good speed if he hoped to beat Mark when Scorpius was taken down.
Just as Albus thought this, Mark knocked Scorpius down with swift motion of the wand. Red-faced, Scorpius tagged Albus in reluctantly. A rematch against Mark was what Albus needed.
Mark backed away. He fired his own Fire spell at the same time Albus did, creating a combined explosion in midair. Sensing Mark yelling a further spell, Albus leapt to the side. As expected, a jet of yellow light zoomed through the spot he was before. He rolled to the side of a green jet and fired a Knock-back Jinx.
Albus was hit this time. The spells was too fast and Mark was quicker than he was. He clutched his nose weakly as his spell very barely missed Mark. He groaned as Mark walked toward Albus’ crouched form. Out of a last desperate act, he took a snowball behind his back, and threw it at Mark in surprise. This one hit! Mark’s face was crouched down, and the small boy yelled.
“Finite.” Albus jumped up. Mark was wiping his face dry from the sudden hard impact of the snow, and Albus fired once more, “Flipendo.”
Mark flew back, and Albus ran forward, rubbing his nose, “Nasus Inundo.”
Mark was hit easily. Scorpius and Walter cheered and even Riley managed a smile as Laura wailed disappointedly. Scorpius laughed as Mark sneezed immediately. The cold kicked in. “Well, this battle is ours,” Scorpius said happily.
“Awesome, Al!” Walter said happily, getting up.
“Coward,” Mark croaked angrily, through his blocked nose. “I call a foul.”
“Two against one, he tired out,” Alex smirked. “It’s a draw.”
“Oh, bull”- (Scorpius’ words made Alex widen his eyes in amusement.) “And anger makes you lose points.”
“Never mind them,” Walter shrugged. “Stupidity and lame excuses is the last defense of a loser. Hat proves they lost.”
“We called seconds, get over it,” Scorpius said back. “You lose, Mark. You wouldn’t have called foul if it had been two against us.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Mark rolled his eyes, looking and even sounding almost feminine. “You can clear off back to the castle. I wanna have a word with Albus here. I won’t get him sick,” he added arrogantly.
Scorpius left as told, yelling back, “You lose, Mark!” The twins, Laura, Riley and Walter remained. Mark walked up to Albus, nose very red. He sniffled, and sneezed, and then faced Albus.
“You hate me,” Albus muttered. “You’re just mad”-
“I’m not MAD!” Mark said angrily. He talked low enough so the twins and Laura couldn’t hear him. But Albus’ mates could. He was mad. “You want me to prove it to you? Out of pure cowardice. It’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t Al. Your victory meant two against one and your loss meant your loss. Either way, you were a coward. All for victory, instead of the honorable way out. I beat you, easily. If it wasn’t snowy, you wouldn’t have won!”
“Some call that being resourceful,” Walter muttered.
Mark ignored him, “In case you didn’t notice, Eric and I shared the battle. So, remain overshadowed by Scorps. Then, there’s your cowardly back-shot on Halloween. Yeah, you’re a coward Al, and you belong in Slytherin. And you’re sick brother.”
“Whoa, leave my brother out of this! What did he do to you?”
Mark widened his eyes, “You don’t know? Don’t you know anything about your family? Your ignorant to your own father and ignorant to your brother too? Do you live in a cave? Your brother is a bully!” Mark said angrily. Now, the twins and Laura could hear him. “He comes in, and takes over our dormitory. Why? He says he wants us to prank someone but I know different. I know he’s just there to keep some eye on us for some reason! The twins and I stick together. We don’t need hilarity to feed off like he does.”
Albus froze in shock. How did Mark guess what Harry wanted them to do? Was James too obvious? Harry had nothing but praise for his tactics. Then again, Harry didn’t know how James got the information. That still did not explain how Mark knew what they were ordered to do? What was the meaning of this situation? For what real reason did Mark want to duel him?
He gulped, “My brother would never”-
“LIAR!” Mark said angrily. He wiped his nose. His cold was growing bad. He’d need the Hospital Wing soon. “You’ve been ordered to eye me and I’ll find out why if it takes me the whole year! Tell James I beat you, and you needed Scorpy to defend you. Let him know you’re weak!”
Mark sniffed, and walked away. The twins followed, and Laura stuck her tongue out at Albus before following. Riley and Walter stood rooted to the snow. “That was… funny.”
Albus knew they were talking about Laura, but he couldn’t bring himself to laugh. He was just denied pleasure for victory, and for a possible good reason. Mark was right. They were ordered to keep an eye on him. If James was doing so through pressure, Mark was right. In the duel, it wasn’t much better. Albus was hardly any help. Scorpius took on both of them. They might’ve won as a team, but in the single rivalry between Mark and Albus, Mark did win. Walter helped Albus up, “Oi, mate. He’s just trying to make you mad. Take it from me. James is cool.”