Harry’s first training
I woke up the next morning, thinking how everything was wonderful. We had had a lot of fun yesterday in the Room of Requirement and had found some new, exciting things. The Twins were doing nothing but creating new pranks, plans and products.
I got through the rest of the day successfully, it was nothing but routine. After presenting Harry with an elaborate proposal on how to start his first training session and him vowing to prepare for the upcoming lesson I excused myself with the fact that it had gotten too late the night before. I conjured my Geminio and escaped to London to devote myself to physical training this time. My Sensei informed me that he wanted to introduce me to the Brazilian martial art ‘Luta Livre’ today, which was fine by me because I was at a loss after his proclamation. Luta Livre… what?
He elaborated that it was a Portuguese free fight system. Aha, I thought, all right! He explained that Luta Livre enabled a fighter to safely bridge the gap to his opponent, bring him down and remain in control and finally to force him to surrender or to incapacitate him. Neat. I was all for incapacitation, I knew no mercy in this regard. Now he asked me if I wanted to learn ‘ALL’ or ‘MMA’. Eh, I... what, please? So he explained that there were ‘ALL’, the wrestling ‘Luta Livre Esportiva’, and ‘Vale Tudo’ / ‘MMA’, a style without rules which would include kicks and punches. Okay, the decision was easy, without rules always sounded good to me, as good as kicks and punches. For now, I didn’t want to think about that to learn the art I would have to experience it myself, but as I always said, grit your teeth and get on with it! What use would I have of a simple wrestling style? No, I didn’t need that, so I chose the option ‘MMA’.
Sensei’s face showed his satisfaction when I told him of my decision and he declared that therefore the free wrestling elements of the ‘Luta Livre’ would be supplemented with kicks, punches and thrusts with knees and elbows which could be used while standing or while wrestling on the ground. All right, and next? He was pleased, as he thought that these specific techniques would enable me to defeat physically stronger opponents. While fighting on the ground a weaker fighter could use technique to compensate for disadvantages in height and weight. Well, what were we waiting for?
After our lesson I knew once again why I shouldn’t jump into a new martial art without any preparation, as it was just too painful afterwards. Wow, the Brazilians had a really creepy imagination. However, I would learn it, as I hadn’t been able to even count to three after going down before I had been out for the count. But enough, I winged my battered body back to Hogwarts! I had been away long enough to get to the Room of Requirement without being seen. My Geminio was still sleeping soundly in my bed and so I could savour the Room to my heart’s content.
Saturday afternoon arrived fast and we all gathered in the Room of Requirement to be taught some offensive Defense by Harry.
“Alright, my dears, today we start with the disarming spell, the Expelliarmus!” he proclaimed cockily.
“Why? We already learned it in Second Year, that’s much too simple!” Smith interrupted.
“Firstly, we have to start low, as everybody should progress together as a group. I don’t want to leave someone behind. And secondly, the Expelliarmus did me good service in Fourth Year against Lord Voldemort!” A collective groan went through our school mates. “Come on, it got me enough time to escape, I am sentimental in this regard. And now show me how good you are. The better, the faster we can move on. Line up in pairs!” Harry demanded unyieldingly and looked around with a stern expression.
I experienced some minor difficulties to adhere to his demand, as this was a really easy spell. Who should I take as a partner? Maybe it would be the best to choose none of them. I could merge with the shadows and help Harry to correct the others, I pondered. Yes, that would be smart. Just then wild shouting and screaming started. People were hit with the disarming charm, flew through the room and landed painfully on the mats or even on the floor. Chaos reigned, pure chaos. Spells whizzed through the air, flashing and bolting around wild and totally uncontrolled.
“Stop! Stop!” Harry yelled loudly. “Stop it!” he roared now magically enhanced over the noise and one after the other everybody did as ordered. A lot were lying around and whining about there ungentle landings, which prompted me to internally roll my eyes even harder. Guys, you should have experienced my training yesterday, that’s what I call pain! Some spots on my body were still hurting severely and what did I do? Nothing, I just lived with it! This here was nothing, I thought derisively and slightly arrogantly, but come on, I was entitled to a bit of arrogance. How could one be such a pussy?
Harry was looking around attentively and suddenly focussed his gaze on me, which made me look directly into his eyes at once. It was as if he was scanning, assessing and appraising me with his extraordinary eyes, which was strange, as Harry never acted like this, but then he was already talking.
“Hermione, come here. People, it doesn’t work like that!” he declared with determination and pointed to the middle of the training hall. I looked at him in surprise, however, I simply shrugged and walked towards him.
“So listen, what you are doing won’t do you any good! You should not cast the charm without aiming properly. Some of you were not hit by the spell of your opponent, but by stray spells and that’s not the goal. Precision and focus on your target, that’s what you have to pay attention to!” Harry was good. He was right and he presented his point very competently.
“Hermione, we will show them how a disarming charm works and that works best in a duel!” He looked at me, silently asking for permission. Funny, his look wasn’t very innocent.
“Should I fight back and move or should I let you hit me?” I asked him, giving him nothing but emphasized coldness and indifference. I would do exactly what he asked me to. Unfortunately I had my dark brown school wand in my hand. I loved my white one much more, but well, one could not have everything one wanted.
“No, of course you will fight back. I know that you are good!” His lips formed into a winning smile.
“How could you know that? You have never seen me fighting!” I was flirting with him in front of the others and that was really fun.
“I am not blind. You are perfect in everything you do, certainly you are with this as well. Give it your best shot!” he cheered me on. All right, I would give them a show, although that Harry would and had to win was without question. I just hoped that my temper wouldn’t get the better of me. I knew, in situations like this I sometimes got tunnel vision and here, in front of so many witnesses, no, that would not be good, not good at all.
“Alright, Harry. But no duelling style. We will just start, okay?” He just nodded and I could watch how the others stepped back and we stood face to face opposite each other. With that the background noise got less and less important while I focussed on my opponent.
The battle began.
“Expelliarmus,” Harry chanted immediately and I twisted to the side with lightning speed, not a second too early, and flung my own “Expelliarmus” at him while coming out of the turn. But he was fast as well, thanks to Quidditch, as I knew, that’s why his ability to react was ridiculously good. He was able to escape my counter attack, but only by quickly throwing himself to the floor. It had been a close call, the spell grazed the ends of his hair, fizzling out, but apart from that he was unharmed.
It continued blow upon blow, in quick succession. Again and again I was tempted to cast a spell nonverbally and I think a few times it might have happened in the heat of the moment, but it was an exciting duel. Harry was an impressive, powerful fighter. Where he was otherwise only average in class because of his lack of interest and laziness, here he was a born warrior. I loved to see how flexible, agile and supple his body operated. I must have given a similar performance, the way we danced together like this.
Physically I was not inferior to him, thanks to my excessive training, and he was in good shape thanks to Quidditch and so we exchanged hex after hex, spell after spell, in rapid succession. We were permanently and constantly in motion. The Room had erected a protective glass wall in front of the group along the outer wall, thus Harry and I didn’t have to be considerate of anybody during our battle and we fell into such a rage that I forgot my intent and gave him as good as I got and more. We didn’t give anything away for free, Harry treated my as an equal opponent. The room was filled with a blur of colours from the different spells and curses, the sparkling and flashing reminded of a mirror ball.
“Avis,” I threw at him and small birds shot out of the wand tip to confuse him. Harry reacted immediately with an Aguamenti, which drenched my poor birds thoroughly and robbed them of their attack momentum. I jumped out of the way quickly and sent a Babbling Curse at him, so that he could only talk nonsense. Sadly, Harry escaped by a hair’s breadth and the curse crashed into the stone wall behind him. He answered with a Leg-Locker Curse, which I could only avoid with a daring dive that ended in a roll. Phew, that had been close, and before I could get to my feet again, the next, colourful beam was coming my way, directing way too many batlike, winged nuisances at me. I was still sitting on the floor because I hadn’t managed to rise in time, an extremely bad position to defend from.
“Ring of fire,” I chanted quickly and a flick of my wand erected a burning barrier around me. The flames of the fire soared high, scorching the little beasts Harry’s hex had conjured. They burned mercilessly and I got the necessary time to get to my feet again. And not a second too soon! He attacked my ring of fire with a freezing charm, which modified my flames in a way that they could no longer do harm and thus let every spell pass. I had to end the spell. In next to no time I sent a Stupefy, which manifested as a red beam shooting out of my wand. Harry parried competently with a Protego and my stunner visibly bounced off his shield, then he instantly countered with a quick Petrificus Totalus, which I could block with a loudly yelled Salvio Hexia. The safe room encased me and repelled his Oppugno birds as well. Unchivalrously fast he followed up with an Impedimenta which broke the safe room and I was once again operating in the entirety of the training hall.
My Levicorpus found its target and, totally unanticipated by Harry, he was abruptly hoisted into the air by his ankle. Skilfully he cast the counter-curse Liberacorpus in the same second and dropped ungently to the floor, but rolled lightning quick to the right and with a smooth motion he was back on his feet, therefore the Incarcerous I had sent after him missed. He conjured a hex deflection as protection and thus repelled the Rictusempra expertly. We got faster and faster, so that the world was reduced to a sea of colours and the blood was pounding in my ears. It was fascinating to duel this way, but I reminded myself that this was Harry and I had to hold back and just then the decision was taken from my hands.
I didn’t manage to dodge the next spell shot at me and it hit me in the middle of my chest. At first I was frozen with fear, but then I realised what had happened, I had been hit with the Tongue-Tying-Curse, and I was able to continue fighting! Which brought a horribly distorted smile to my face and that apparently frightened Harry, who had started to beam confident of his victory. That was something I had learnt from my Sensei, you should never get your hopes up too soon! And thus my body straightened and I started a surprise attack and sent a nonverbal freezing charm at him, which he escaped only through a daring roll forwards. He quickly overcame his initial shock that I was now casting nonverbally and prepared his counter attack. He shot a Stupefy at me, which I blocked once again skilfully with the Protego. This prompted him to lift his eyebrow in recognition, as it was a strong shield, despite the wordless magic.
Harry’s stunners had a lot of power, which he and I both knew. Now I flung the Confundus Charm at him to make him disoriented. And my acting made him confused enough that I indeed hit him. But Harry spoke the spell which counteracted this particular charm that swiftly that he actually managed to disarm me with the Expelliarmus. That caused me to applaud him after he had caught my wand and I had realised that he had won.
Wow, I was massively out of breath! Harry and I had not given the other anything for free, but it had been a good duel. I had not shown everything I was capable of and the duel had been limited to white spells, nonetheless it had been fun.
We were facing each other, squatting slightly, and were bracing the hands against our knees, to calm down our breathing and heartbeat. The duel had been straining and truly nerve-racking. But we hadn’t been injured, which was too sweet, though highly unrealistic if it had taken place in the real world. However, this was only the beginning.
Harry, too, was still breathing heavily in front of me, when I looked up, but grinning openly, as I must have been smiling. He threw my wand back at me and I catched it and wordlessly cast the counter-curse against the one paralyzing my tongue. Harry wiped the sweat from his brow, the duel had been really exhausting for the both of us. The DA members could now join us again as the glass wall had vanished and walked towards us while we were still recovering.
“That… that… that… Harry… Hermione, was incredible, world-shaking!”
“Yes. From where… how… Where did you learn that?”
“That was awesome... “
“I have never seen something like that before.”
“Will we be able to do that as well someday?”
“Yes, can you… can you both teach us? That was so impressive!”
Harry started to laugh and I was chuckling as well.
“Easy, guys. Calm down, everyone!” Harry called loudly and racked his hand through his unruly hair, disturbing it even more. “That has been a very challenging duel, but why shouldn’t you be able to learn how to fight like that? That’s why we demonstrated it for you, so that you can see what it is we can offer you to teach!” Harry dangled the possible award of this training in front of them.
“Hermione!?” He spoke quietly to me now. “You didn’t tell even me that you are this good. Since when are you able to cast nonverbally?”
“Yes, we only learn that in the upper classes!” Terry interjected, the oh so smart Terry who could never shut his mug. I would have liked to kick my own ass in this moment.
“By exercising… It’s actually not that difficult,” I claimed succinctly and brushed a strand of my hair behind my ear.
“That was a really tough duel!” Neville exclaimed in awe.
“Yes, Hermione, we didn’t hold anything back. Thank you!” Harry complimented me, clearly happy and I smiled contently at him.
“My pleasure, Harry. Anytime!” I answered and touched his arm to pat him, as I was proud of him.
“What could I teach you?” he now asked solemnly.
“A lot. You won! Besides, one does not stop learning,” I shared my own belief. The duel did more than thrill the DA. Every one of them saw the next fighter in himself or herself now. We inspired ambition in them with our show battle. Now the training could start for real. The members looked at Harry like an eighth wonder of the world, idolizing him. I mean, he was the Boy-Who-Lived. But I was also aware of the looks I got, which were nothing like the adoration Harry was receiving. Instead, they were full of fear and apprehension. Why?
I had fought exactly like Harry, he had even won. They could not know that I had not exhausted my whole repertoire. I pondered what could explain these reactions. Ron was standing in the back with a very pale complexion, keeping a low profile. I could guess what thoughts were plaguing him. He knew who couldn’t keep up with us on a large scale, which didn’t particularly faze me. I had worked hard for these skills, but he couldn’t comprehend that! That constant exercise was necessary to master them was beyond him.
And thus the others followed Harry’s instructions without further complaints, and worked hard and achieved much. It was revealed that it was truly necessary to start with this simple charm, as many were showing deficiency already. After four long hours of intense training the first signs of exhaustion became visible and we ended the training for the day. I had helped Harry supervise the exercises and participated in several demonstrations, as nobody volunteered to train with me. Everyone was afraid that they would have no chance against me. Which was in no way unfounded. Especially in groups it was always glaringly obvious that I didn’t belong, always a misfit. But hey, I was used to it.
I could observe how Harry tried to help Ron, and how Ron reacted very dismissively. I knew, Harry had realized the problem Ron kept postponing, which was perfect for me. Thus I signalled George and Fred to stay behind, which they confirmed immediately with a nod of their heads and so we waited and were the last who remained.
“Can you two tell me what problem the others have? They don’t even look at me anymore,” I exclaimed in frustration and disappointment. “I mean, Harry fought the same.” I looked at them questioningly.
“You truly don’t know it, do you, Hermione?” George asked with visible bemusement and I shook my head unhappily.
“You looked like an amazon, a warrior princess, ready for anything, capable of everything. Your hair was flowing around you, it was really impressive! Not that the others are actually aware that you are ready to do anything. However, your demeanour did command a lot of respect from everybody! I mean, you were very impressive, your whole fight was. Harry amazed me as well. I always knew he was good… but that he has that much talent surprised me, in a really positive way! How was he different? Well, he looked determined for sure, though not as ready to go as far as you… I mean, your ring of fire was genius, but truly scary and we can only tell that now because we know you so well! The others have an inkling at most, a vague idea that you are dangerous! But we know it one hundred percent and it shows when you fight, Hermione. You didn’t pretend, you rather restrained yourself, which is a frightening prospect in itself! I think, you had to struggle enough… not to hurt Harry?” George’s intense gaze was locked on to me, the question obvious in his eyes. I turned my head away in shame, because he was so excruciatingly right.
“I mean, it was a battle amongst friends. The others will ask themselves what havoc you would wreak amongst your enemies even limited to white spells. Although we certainly know that you would resort to dark magic as well in a fight for life and death!” Fred stated seriously and both pointed out to me that I had to consider what kind of impression I made on others.
“Yes, I used a lot of my concentration on restraining myself and to prevent me from doing something stupid,” I confessed. “And it was difficult for me, because normally I would hold nothing back when I fight!”
“Didn’t I tell you?” he addressed Fred who nodded in confirmation.
“Don’t worry too much. I mean, you have always appeared a bit scary to most of them! And you told the members of the DA about the Proteus charm that you used a while back and now this battle. And to top it off you used nonverbal spells as well, something many of them will never be able to do in their whole life. Combat spells are some of the most difficult spells in existence and to manage them with enough power to prevail in such a duel frightens a common witch or wizard!” George clarified further.
“Most people are scared stiff by ingenuity! Why do you think we act so over the top, so chaotically? It’s just to fool them into thinking us harmless jesters,” Fred interjected smartly.
“Yes, great, now all of them are scared of me even more,” I fretted, for I should have controlled myself more.
“Yes, though never mind! Once your reputation is gone, you can boldly carry on! And don’t compare yourself to Harry. Everyone expects incredible, inexplicable performances from him!” Fred uttered next, laughing freely. Sometimes I really appreciated the way he saw the world.
“But the fight, woah, brilliant. But now you should rest. The things you accomplished in the last few days must have taken their toll on you. Please rest. You won’t help anybody when you break down. We will leave you alone now, Beautiful!” George hugged me.
“Wait a moment,” Fred said and made a strained face and a bedroom appeared. “So, and now rest. We will keep the world at bay!” He pulled me out of his brother’s embrace and lifted me up as if I weighed nothing, then carried me to the bed and laid me down gently.
“Thank you,” I whispered to him, moved by their words and gestures and snuggled into the gloriously soft bedding.
“Sleep tight, most beautiful.” The Twins tiptoed away quietly while I dozed off. I jerked up again when I suddenly remembered that it was Saturday and I was not able and didn’t want to sleep for hours because “I have to get to Draco!” He would be waiting for me. It was shortly before seven o’clock, but when I went to sleep now, I wouldn’t be able to raise again at ten to stumble down to the dungeons, to Draco.
“Forget him. We will find a way to tell him that you are too tired to get to him, but that he shouldn’t worry…!” George offered.
“Oh, good. Please tell him, I will be in the Great Hall in the morning, okay?” and slumped back into the pillows.
“Now relax. You need that once in awhile as well!” Fred stated thoughtfully. I agreed with them, because I could still feel yesterday’s combat training and the duel today in my bones. I mean, I was only human, no machine and thus I didn’t care about anything or anybody at the moment, not even Draco, and so I sunk into a deep, restorative sleep.