Hogwarts and the Wolf in the Fold

Voldemort puts a spy into Hogwarts.
Set during the year of the Half-blood Prince.

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9. A First Duel

A First Duel

After Pinky had cleared away the dinner plates Rodolphus led David to the centre of the room.
“Let me teach you the basics of duelling with wands.”
He flicked his own wand around the room and the furniture lined itself up against the walls, leaving a large open space with a beautifully patterned rug on the floor in the centre.
Rodolphus indicated that David should stand at one end of the rug and he took up a position directly opposite to him.
“Duelling is an old sport and it is used for battles against wizard opponents. There are rules and traditions that are generally followed, but in a battle anything can happen so watch out for the unexpected at all times.”
“In a formal situation, one-on-one, the wizards should bow to show each other respect.” He bowed to David, not very low and always keeping his eyes on him.
“It is important to keep your eyes on your opponent, in case of sudden trickery. Immediately after the bow you must go into a suitable stance." He swished his arm above his head in an arc and half-crouched in a perfect balance.
“This is the basic neutral stance and it allows you to cast a spell and to move into a defensive position at the same time.” Red sparks flew at David from the wand, but did no apparent harm. When David moved the hand that he had instinctively put up in front of his face, he saw that Rodolphus had shifted position to his right. He was now down on one knee with both hands holding his wand with both hands and it was pointed directly at David’s heart.
“This is an offensive striking position and is used for greater accuracy over a longer distance.” With the speed of a snake, Rodolphus then fired more sparks at David and rolled over sideways, stood up and moved a step backwards. Turning sideways he kept his wand low and his other arm high as if he were holding an invisible shield in front of him.”
“Cast a spell at me.” He ordered.
Without thinking about it too long David pointed his wand and cast a ‘jellylegs’ jinx.
There was a flash of white light as the jinx flew at Rodolphus but then bounced away from him, as if the invisible shield were really there.
“Classic defensive position.” Said Rodolphus.
“I worked a non-verbal shield charm which is currently protecting me from minor jinxes and curses.” He spun around again and stood once more in the original neutral stance.
“Wow.” Said David. It had been very impressive.
Rodolphus then moved over to David and moved his body into the correct neutral stance.
“Now, begin again. Bow to you opponent and move into the stance.”
David tried it but it felt a little awkward and he didn’t feel comfortably balanced. Rodolphus made him repeat the movements again and again, encouraging David all the while and pointing out where he was going wrong.
After half an hour of practice at various neutral stances, Rodolphus seemed happy that David was getting the hang of it.
“There are many stances that wizards use. These four are the classic versions, but they can be adapted to suit the particular wizard or witch. I personally prefer to use these as they are tried and tested over many millennia, but with a few tweaks here and there to suit my height.”
“My wife prefers more offensive positions and as she is shorter and more flexible she can use more advanced movements and techniques. She is a most formidable duellist.”
David listened intently and was keen to pick up as many tips as possible.
“Now let us see how you cope with a ‘Stinging Snitch’.”
“What’s that?” Asked David.
“It’s a version of snitch used for training duellists. They are popular in some European wizarding schools. I know that Durmstrang use them, as they have a long tradition of producing great duellists.”
“It is a typical snitch that moves incredibly fast and changing direction randomly. It can even disappear for several seconds at a time. The idea is that you try to hit it with a ‘stinging’ jinx. When you do this it rings like a bell so that you know there was a hit.”
David liked the idea of this.
“But don’t get too carried away with the idea that the snitch is an easy target, because it has the ability to store the jinx and then to release it back at you unexpectedly.”
“If you are slow with your shield charm or defensive spell..” Rodolphus laughed.
“You will learn the meaning of ‘stinging’”.
Rodolphus turned and called to the empty room “Pinky, come here!”
With a loud ‘crack’, Pinky suddenly appeared in front of him. She curtsied and waited with head bowed down.
“Yes, Master?”
“Bring the stinging snitch from the old library.”
Pinky scuttled out of the room and David heard a door creak open down the corridor. There was the distant sound of rummaging and heavy objects being moved about, then the door slamming shut and finally little footsteps hurrying back.
Pinky gave a small black box to Rodolphus and he opened it. Inside it there sat a silver object about the size of a golf ball.
“That will be all, Pinky.” He said, and she disappeared with another ‘crack’.
Rodolphus took out the ball and it began to flicker into life. Fine wing-like structures stretched out from where they had been curled up tightly around its sides and began to vibrate.
He then threw it up towards the ceiling, which was high above David’s head. It didn’t hit the ceiling, but swerved sideways and with a light buzzing sound it began to fly around the room.
Rodolphus moved to an armchair against the wall and sat down, ready to enjoy the spectacle.
David assumed a defensive stance and began to turn around keeping his eyes fixed on the snitch. It was difficult to keep his balance while turning, but he did his best.
“Now try to hit the snitch with a jinx.” Said Rodolphus.
David realised that the defensive stance was of no use for trying to aim a spell at the moving ball, so he pressed forward and with a sweeping motion of his arm he cast a spell at it.
“Cuspo!”
A red streak of light left his wand and shattered a chandelier hanging a good two yards to the left of the snitch. David gave a gasp of horror and turned to look at Rodolphus.
He, however, seemed indifferent to the demise of what looked like a very valuable fixture.
“Don’t worry, we can fix any damage after the training.” He said.
David didn’t think that this was a wise idea, but he turned anyway and searched around for the snitch. He found it lurking in the far corner of the room.
This time he waited for it to move nearer, to a point where he would concentrate with all his will. It took a minute or so, but eventually the weaving snitch moved in a path past a dark mark on the wall that David had marked as the target.
Timing his movement with the speed of the snitch, he cast the spell again.
‘Ding!’
With a loud ring the snitch stopped dead in its tracks and then reversed its direction.
“Good shot!” Exclaimed Rodolphus and clapped appreciatively.
David grinned and chanced a look at Rodolphus who winked back at him.
“Remember your defence.” He cautioned.
David immediately jumped into a defensive position, and none too soon because the snitch came to a sudden halt and red light fizzed from it towards David.
His shield charm held firm and the spell bounced harmlessly away from him and into the fireplace. Red flames jumped up in a tiny explosion, but luckily they escaped harmlessly up the chimney.
“Well done.” Said Rodolphus again, and he stood up and waved his wand towards the snitch. The tiny ball swooped around in an arc and flew into the open box that he was still holding. With a snap he closed the lid.
“I think that will do for today. Too much learning in one go can be a bad thing. You’ve done a lot better than I expected. It looks like Beauxbatons has done a good job in teaching you your magic.”
“Thanks.” Said David.
“Who did you have for ‘charms’? Monsieur Alphonse? I heard about him from my cousin Thierry.”
David thought about the question the vision of a large cheery-faced wizard in dazzling white robes came into his mind. He had curly black hair and with a long black beard, neatly plaited.
“Yes, that’s right, Alphonse Blanchard. We called him ‘Blanco’, because he always wears white robes.”
“I’d almost forgotten the boasts of Thierry and his stories of Beauxbatons.” Said Rodolphus.
“Myself, I attended Hogwarts. There is a certain cachee, something of a feather in one’s cap for a French boy wizard to be educated there. It was there that I met my wife-to-be. Tell me, which house were you in?”
“Sournois.” Said David automatically.
“Of course, as was Thierry.” Said Rodolphus and smiled.
“I learned a great deal about that school, so perhaps you can tell me more about the palace and the teachers there?”
David looked into his own mind and tried to recall as much about Beauxbatons as he could find in the memories there.
“The Dark Lord will be pleased that your memories agree with what I have been told.” Said Rodolphus.
He gazed at David approvingly and then turned and waved his wand around and around his head.
The furniture moved back into their original places in the room and the chandelier re-assembled itself and jumped up onto the ceiling.
“We will continue using the stinging snitch tomorrow. Good night and I will see you in the morning.”
David went to bed and had long dreams about duelling with the snitch and with Rodolphus. It all seemed so easy and natural to him.
The next day saw Rodolphus putting David through several gruelling exercises that he told him were to build up his stamina and to quicken his reflexes.
All they seemed to do though was to make David feel exhausted and he sweated underneath the heavy robes.
More sessions with the snitch followed after this and Rodolphus continued to give instructions and pointers that helped David to anticipate the movements of the snitch.
He also learned several new defensive spells. One really useful charm that allowed him to roll sideways like a cartwheel, taking him several yards to the right or left.
Another spell duplicated his body so that side-by-side it was impossible for the opponent to know which one was the real target.
On the offensive side, he learned a multiplex jinx that cast a spell in seven different directions at the same time. This was handy when the target was small, swift and moving around like the snitch. In a battle situation, however, Rodolphus pointed out that you were more likely to hit one of your own side than the enemy.
For four days David carried on with the lessons, duelling against the stinging snitch and then Rodolphus himself. He was getting good, very good in fact.
Rodolphus was impressed by David’s natural ability to learn from his mistakes and never to replicate them. He also noticed how David had a natural instinct for adapting the techniques he had learnt. He was young, quick and nimble. He was almost ready.
Rodolphus looked at David and wondered why the Dark Lord had picked out this boy for particular attention. Still, it was not his place to question any of the Dark Lord’s orders and he wouldn’t dare to disobey him.
In the previous year the Dark Lord had sprung him out of Azkaban the wizard prison, along with his wife and several of his fellow death-eaters. Then, when he had been captured at the Ministry of Magic weeks earlier, the Dark Lord had arranged for the ambush of the security aurors who were transporting him back to prison and he had managed to escape again.
His orders were to train the boy in the art of duelling and to ask no questions of his identity, or to tell any other soul about him. He was proud that the Dark Lord had singled him out for this important task and he would not betray his trust.
He gave a wry smile as he remembered the look on Bellatrix’s face as the Dark Lord told him that he had a special task and that she would not be involved. Too many times in the past she had put the Dark Lord first and ignored his own needs.
“Your training from me is complete, I think.” He told David.
“There is only need now for continued practice with the snitch and your morning exercises. I will inform the Dark Lord and he will return for you, for some other task I guess.”
“I have enjoyed my time back here in the home of my ancestors, but the Dark Lord has need of me back in England. There is much still to do in our fight against the muggle oppression.”
David thanked Rodolphus for all his help and hoped that he would see him again in the future, and maybe even fight alongside him in the war.
Rodolphus laughed and smiled at the audacity of the young wizard.
David decided to take a walk outside. Something he hadn’t managed to do for a while. As he left the room, he looked back and saw Rodolphus pull up the sleeve on his right arm. He then touched it with the tip of his wand, which glowed slightly.
Thinking nothing more of it, he strolled out of the house and into the garden. Around the back of the house was a white table and chairs that overlooked the most stunning fountains and lawns.
In the blink of an eye Pinky appeared with a tray of juice and a plate of small white cakes. She blushed as David thanked her again and then she hurried off back into the house.
David sat back and thought again about the transformations that he had undergone in the past weeks. He took a cake and shoved it whole into his mouth. Very nice!
As he pondered his situation, he noticed a fat black bird hopping around at the side of him. It cocked its head on one side and looked hopefully up at him.
“Here you go.” Said David and crumbled one of the cakes and tossed the crumbs towards it.
The bird pecked hungrily at the crumbs and when it seemed to have had enough, it hopped up onto the back of one of the empty chairs.
David looked at the bird and wondered why it wasn’t flying away. This wasn’t the first time he had fed a bird that afterwards seemed to follow him around.
He shoo-ed it off the chair and it flittered onto the one a little further away, but it only appeared to be annoyed rather than actually scared of him.
Feeling rather annoyed himself, he got up and taking a glass of juice he walked out towards one of the fountains.
He hadn’t noticed before, but the two elves Ralf and Igor were trimming the edge of the lawn around a large tree further beyond.
They were having a difficult time of it, because the tree wasn’t just standing there quietly like any other tree. This one was waving its branches about in a most alarming fashion and then bringing them crashing down at the elves.
The two tiny elves were dodging about and trying to ward off the heavy branches with their lawn clippers. The tree was winning this battle and one of the unlucky elves was throw twenty feet through the air by a particularly well-aimed blow.
David cried out in alarm, but he needn’t have feared because the elf jumped up and waving his fist at the tree, he ran back to rescue his colleague from the whirlwind of flailing tree-limbs.
The two then made a hasty retreat back to their wheelbarrow and turned back towards the house. Immediately they saw him, they bowed down deeply and almost in union chimed.
“Good afternoon, Master.”
David grinned and said.
“Hello Ralf. Hello Igor. Are you both okay? What on earth was that tree doing?”
The two elves looked at him in awe. It was obvious that they had never expected such a reply before from one of their Masters.
“Ralf and me is very well thank you.” Said the dishevelled elf.
His potato sack tunic was covered in brown and green streaks and his body was covered in red weals from the attack of the tree.
“That is a very bad tree, Master. It is a whomping willow that was planted next to the road to keep out unexpected guests. We has to cut the grass around its base once a week in summer.”
Pinky telled us that Master apprentice is very good to her.” Said the other elf, presumably this one was Ralf, and he giggled nervously.
“That’s right.” Said David.
“She’s a good friend of mine.”
Both elves dropped their lawn clippers. Their eyes opened widely and their jaws dropped in amazement. They then put their heads together and spoke together in hurried whispers.
“What’s so unusual about that?” Asked David.
The two elves looked up at him again, slightly nervous.
“Wizards is not friends with elves.” Chirped Ralf.
“Elves does what Master wants and leaves it at that.”
David was non-plussed by this remark.
“But that makes you sound like slaves.” He said.
“We is not slaves.” Said Igor.
“We is house-elves!” They exclaimed together.
“Okay, okay. Let’s just leave it at that. It was nice meeting you both.” David laughed.
The two elves picked up their clippers and turned to resume their work, but then Igor pointed behind David and asked.
“Is Master’s familiar wanting something?”
David looked around but there was nothing to be seen up at the house.
“Whatever do you mean?” He asked.
“Master’s familiar. His ‘familiar’!” He pointed excitedly.
David looked all around but there was nothing there, except for the black bird was now standing on the stonework surrounding the fountain and looking at him expectantly.
David shook his head and walked back up towards the house.
“Elves.” He thought.
“What strange creatures they are.”
Behind him unseen, the black bird flew up high over his head and followed until David was back inside the house.
It then fluttered up to the eaves of the roof and waited patiently again.

 

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