The Case of the Blown-Up Cottage

Part 13

by Cyberwolf (wolf at

AN: As befits a chapter numbered unlucky thirteen, this is not a very happy chapter. Lock isn't acting very Sherlocky, is he? Hmm...hopefully after one more chapter we can return to the story proper. Hopefully....
The Rheidyr Room was dedicated to the memory of Saxen Rheidyr, a famous duelist in the sixteenth century. Since Hogwarts Castle was so large no one even knew how many rooms it had, the Rheidyr Room was not really used -- officially, that is. The fact that it had a complete dueling strip in it made it a popular place for students looking to illegally settle a grudge.
Lock and Michael were there at precisely 11:35. By previous arrangement, they’d met at the room itself, and were now quietly preparing for the duel. Lock lit the torches set at regular intervals on the walls, while Michael paced the dueling strip, ascertaining that no enchantments or physical obstacles were on it. Both boys looked up as the door to the room swung open, letting in a small group of nervous-looking students.
Michael raised a questioning eyebrow.
"We’re see the duel," said one of them. He was small, as were the rest of the group, probably only second-years or even first-years. Michael’s eyes flickered over the group before resting again on the one who had spoken.
"You’re Will Stanton, aren’t you?"
Will was another one who’d lost someone that Christmas. Michael turned to Lock, eyes inquisitive. He knew that the other boy wasn’t fond of crowds, and probably wouldn’t like having spectators at this duel. He didn’t at his other duels, anyway. But to his surprise, Lock just shrugged.
Now that he thought about it, how had those kids found out about the duel, anyway? He didn’t tell anyone, not even his friends -- and these kids were, from the crests on their robes, Gryffindors, so it was unlikely that Caradog had leaked it to them. Besides, he doubted that Lock, if he really didn’t want spectators there, would have neglected to ensure the privacy of the duel.
He looked again at Lock, who was just lighting the last torch. Lock wanted people to watch this duel. Why?
Michael turned back to the still-waiting group and motioned with his hands for them to find their own vantage-spots. They scampered away to stand near the edge of the dueling strip. Other observers drifted in, members of every House, students in every year. The large room was soon filled with the rippling sound of hushed conversation.
It was midnight, and still Caradog and Robert had not yet come. The conversations were starting to get a little bit shriller. Michael shifted impatiently on his feet, silently wondering if Caradog had backed out. But Lock didn’t seem perturbed. He just stood there, in the surprisingly complete non-movement that was one of his traits, and watched the door. He bent his head to listen to something a blonde-haired girl next to him -- Malfoy, Michael remembered belatedly -- said. He shook his head, then returned to watching the door. The Malfoy girl looked surprised, then grinned.
At that moment, the door slammed open, much louder than anyone else in the room had opened it, and Caradog strutted in. Robert Janson followed behind his larger friend, looking a little less cocky -- but only a little. The conversation around them had stilled for a moment, then began to rise again. Caradog looked around him, the set of his shoulders saying he was confident and the sneer on his face saying he didn’t care that he was late. But as the crowd parted for him and he and Robert began to climb the steps on their end of the dueling strip, and Michael followed behind Lock as they did the same, he saw something in Caradog’s eyes that said he was lying.
Lock and Caradog began to move forward as the watchers quieted. They met at the center of the dueling strip, looking -- well, glaring, in Caradog’s case -- into each others’ faces as they touched the tips of their wands to their foreheads in the traditional dueling salute. Both came from wealthy families, so both were kitted out in proper dueling gear -- dragonhide boots up to their knees, half-capes in their respective House colors, protective gloves, and quilted, sleeveless, doublets over their shirts.
They lowered their wands, Caradog just a beat after Lock, and spun around to march to their end of the dueling strip. Lock shrugged off his half-cape, handing it to Michael, before settling into his usual stance for dueling.
Immediately, Lock snapped out a spell: "Incendio!" A jet of dark blue flame erupted from the tip of his wand, igniting Caradog’s robes. The students nearest Caradog shrieked and backed away as stray sparks floated near them. For a horrible moment, Caradog staggered, a human pillar of flame, before managing to scream an extinguishing spell. As the blue fire winked away, however, Lock’s next curse hit him, and Caradog began to roll around on the floor, yelling and scratching frantically.
It continued like this for a long time, Lock sending curses and hexes while Caradog barely managed to block or dispel them. Michael noticed that Lock would periodically back off, waiting while Caradog managed to somewhat recover before doing another spell. He would just stand there, watching Caradog wrestle with whatever hex he was currently suffering from, eyes cold.
He was, Michael realized with a chill, toying with Caradog. The other boy was nowhere near Lock’s league dueling- wise, and Lock was making sure everyone knew it. It was unusual, too -- Lock was famous for the quickness of his duels, the way he could disarm his opponents with one spell. He had the gift of knowing when his opponents would be off-guard, and striking accordingly. But, this wasn’t....
Caradog climbed precariously to his feet, swaying as though in a high wind. He was panting through an open mouth, face flushed and his eyes filled with hate. He gasped out two spells in quick succession, but the spells dissipated harmlessly against a shield Lock had instantly, even contemptuously, conjured.
Lock’s eyes narrowed. "Pathetic," he sneered. He pointed his wand straight at the larger student. A green glow formed around his form, coalescing to a bright point at the tip of his wand. It flew towards Caradog, enveloping him in a sickly green mist, as Lock cast a spell no one else had ever heard of.
AN: I think I've been watching the dueling scene in HP: Chamber of Secrets too much....

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