The day before Christmas, Hadrian left school to attend the National Duelling Competition for Underage Wizards and Witches. He took the Floo from McGonagall’s office to the small arena.
He joined the nineteen other competitors for a speech from the Chair of the National Duelling Association, and then had his first match. The first two rounds were one-on-one duels, and defeat resulted in being knocked out.
He won his first match within about five seconds, throwing him off the duelling platform right after they’d bowed, with a Knockback Jinx, which instantly disqualified his opponent.
His won his second match in the same amount time, but this time he simply disarmed his opponent, defeating her.
There was a break before the next round, as twenty participants were knocked down to five.
Then, a melee was announced; all five would fight each other at the same time, and the top rankings would be announced by order of who was defeated.
Hadrian had realised by that point that the competition wasn’t very serious. Only one or two of the remaining wizards and witches had actually trained, the others simply wanting to have some fun.
So in the final, he decided to try and pick off the stronger opponents before turning to the weaker ones, surprising the people who’d be expecting him to want a dramatic final duel.
There’s a reason I’m a Slytherin. Drama is overrated.
Indeed, his main competitor, a girl with pale brown hair, immediately went for the weakest link, but this gave Hadrian the opportunity to send a Stunning Spell; she fell to the ground unconscious as he brought his shield up in time to block the Disarming Charm from another wizard.
The target of the brown-haired girl’s spell had been knocked out of the ring, leaving Hadrian with another wizard and a witch.
He dropped his shield for a moment, darting past the stupefy sent his way by the wizard; he got close enough to step through the witch’s shield charm, knocking her out of the ring with a Knockback Jinx. He turned to his final opponent, sending a stupefy which was dodged, but the boy stumbled, letting Hadrian knock him out with a murmured, “everte statum.”
A few seconds later, he was announced as the winner, the small crowd politely applauding as he shook hands with the Chair of the National Duelling Association.
“That was a very impressive display, Mr Potter-Black,” the tall witch told him. “As the winner, you can go to the European round at Easter. Would you like to submit your name?”
“Yes, ma’am, I was intending to,” he replied.
She nodded. “I’m excited to see what you do next.”
He left after that, taking the form from the Chair’s assistant that would allow him to enter the European competition.
He was back at school by one o’clock, meeting his friends for lunch.
“How did it go?” Luna asked as he sat down beside her, giving her a quick kiss.
“I won,” he replied, helping himself to some food. “Easily.”
“That was expected, though,” Lucian told him. “The competition is a bit of a joke.”
“The only reason you went was to get the form to enter the European competition,” Flora added. “Because you want to be the DADA teacher once we graduate, for whatever reason.”
“You have to admit that he’s good at it,” Barnaby said. “I’ve learnt much more from him than I have from the past five teachers.”
“I wish I could be in your class, Hadry,” Luna said with a disappointed tone to her voice. “Lockhart is somehow even worse than the previous teachers.”
The next day was Christmas, and Hadrian celebrated with all of his friends. They spent the morning in their abandoned classroom, then had Christmas lunch at the almost empty Slytherin table, before going outside for a snowball fight.
Charlus and Ron chickened out of using the Polyjuice Potion to find out more about Hadrian, instead turning into Crabbe and Goyle to follow Draco. Hermione refused to go with them, saying they were being ridiculous.
The holidays passed quickly, Hadrian’s sixteenth birthday a few days before school began again. There weren’t any more petrifications for a while.
January soon became February, which meant Valentine’s Day.
Lockhart announced to the entire school on the 14th February, while wearing bright pink robes, that he had arranged for twelve dwarves to run around with golden wings delivering Valentine notes. The Great Hall was covered in huge pink flowers as he said this, rose petals falling from the ceiling.
“Sweet Salazar, what has he done?” Felix asked, horror in his voice as he gazed around the once-elegant Great Hall.
“Doesn’t he realise that some of us are getting over break-ups?” Flora moaned, letting her head fall to the table.
“Yeah,” Lucian agreed, shooting a glare towards the Hufflepuff table. The boy he had been dating had dumped him the week before, with no explanation.
“Valentine’s Day is an overrated holiday,” Felix said.
“Well, I think it can be nice,” Barnaby said, smiling at Hestia as he ate a heart-shaped chocolate.
Hadrian shrugged. “I normally celebrate it with Luna on her birthday instead,” he told them, tucking the pink daisy that his girlfriend had given him into the lapel of his shirt.
Luna was looking at a map of the Forbidden Forest, a large sack on the floor next to her.
“What’ve you got there, Luna?” Flora asked, looking over the table to see the map.
Luna gave her a huge grin. “Hadrian found the place the thestrals live in the Forest, so we’re going to go and see them at lunchtime.”
“How… romantic,” Felix said, an odd expression on his face.
After Valentine’s Day, February passed by with little fanfare except for a Quidditch match against Ravenclaw at the end of the month.
By the end of March, there weren’t any more cases of petrification, so the school began to relax. There was almost no whispering as Hadrian walked through the school.
By April, everything was almost back to normal.
“Felix is getting worse,” Flora told Hadrian, dropping down to sit beside him. They were alone in their normal abandoned classroom. “And it’s breaking Lucian’s heart.”
“I assume you’re referring to the increasing number of people he’s… liased with in the broom cupboard,” Hadrian replied, looking up from his DADA lesson plan with a pained expression.
“Yeah, he’s just ignoring Lucian as well now.”
“I’d noticed,” Hadrian said.
“He doesn’t seem to realise that Lucian only dated that Hufflepuff boy to make him jealous, does he?” Flora groaned, covering her face with her hands, rubbing her eyes. “Salazar, I want to interfere, but if they actually want a relationship they need to be able to work things like this out.”
“We need to do something,” Hadrian said. “Felix is not himself, and neither is Lucian.”
“I guess I’m just worried that if they have a relationship and it ends badly, then it’ll be terrible for the rest of us,” Flora said.
“More terrible than it is right now?” Hadrian asked, raising an eyebrow.
“True,” Flora replied, pushing herself to her feet. “Thanks Hadrian.”
Flora strode into the abandoned classroom again an hour later, finding all of her friends there. She pointed at Felix and then Lucian, who were sitting on opposite sides of the room to each other.
“You and you,” she told them, “are going to go into that closet,” she pointed at the door to a small closet that may have once been used for supplies, “and talk about the fact that you are in love with each other for an hour.”
Flora disarmed them both in less than a second, knocking them into the cupboard with another spell and then locking the door.
There was silence.
Inside the small closet, Lucian turned to Felix, his cheeks burning red. They were pressed against each other due to the size of the space.
Sure enough, the two boys began officially dating later that week, Lucian blushing every time someone asked them what had happened in the closet.
The Easter holidays began at the start of April, which fewer people observed than Christmas.
Of course, this also caused the fifth-years to begin frantically revising for their upcoming OWLs. In that time, Hadrian had to take three days off to attend the European Duelling Championships for Underage Witches and Wizards, or EDUW as most people called it.
He had a small room provided for him in an estate in the countryside of France, where the competition was also held.
Contestants were expected to arrive the night before the competition, during which time Hadrian realised he was probably the youngest to make it to EDUW out of the ten attending, the others mostly having only a month or two before they were adults. Most had taken their parents; he invited Luna.
The entire competition had everyone duelling everyone, as there were only ten involved.
On the first day, Hadrian had to duel a very short wizard from Germany, who he beat with a few quick fire spells, and a red-haired witch from Spain who took slightly more effort to beat, but was beaten all the same.
Luna was whooping unashamedly from the side-lines, waving a glittery banner that said ‘Go Hadrian!’
The second day, Hadrian had to face four opponents, who he had some difficulty with but beat all the same; growing up in Azkaban, he had learnt a few very rare spells which he could use to surprise his foes. Of course, he could only actually use about a third of them without breaking the law, but that still left a fair number.
That night there was a ball for all of the contestants to attend, with their guests and experienced duellers and such.
Hadrian dressed in his black and charcoal grey dress robes, Luna in a shimmering silver dress with a neon pink fringe on the hem, which was just below her knees.
“You look beautiful,” he told her as they entered the ballroom, repurposed from its earlier use as a duelling chamber.
“Thanks, Hadry,” Luna replied. “You look beautiful too.”
He laughed, giving her a quick kiss, letting her lead him to the drinks stand.
“Two Pumpkin Juices, please,” Luna asked brightly, taking the offered glasses and handing one to her boyfriend. "Thank you!"
They moved to the edge of the dancefloor, about to join it when a twenty-something looking man ambled over to them.
“Hadrian Potter-Black, am I correct?” he asked. “You’ve won all of your six matches so far.”
“Yes, sir,” Hadrian replied.
The stranger glanced at their glasses. “You do know that you can get alcohol, if you want. It’s being offered to everyone.”
“No thank you, sir. I don’t drink,” Hadrian replied. “Even if I did, it would likely give me a headache for the remaining matches tomorrow.”
“And you, young lady?”
“I’m only fifteen,” Luna chirped. “And if I drink then my vision goes funny.”
“I’m impressed,” the man said, a smile on his face. “Some of your competitors don’t show your restraint.” He faintly gestured at a witch and wizard chugging Firewhiskey.
Was that a test?
“I’m sorry sir, was there a particular reason you wanted to talk to us?” Hadrian asked, his polite tone disguising the weariness he felt creeping in.
“Yes, actually,” the wizard replied. “My wife, who is a Dark Arts specialist, was very impressed by your duelling style. She’s considering asking you to apprentice under her this summer.”
“Thank you, sir,” Hadrian replied, exchanging a look with Luna. “May I ask for her name?”
“Perenelle Flamel,” was the response, the smile remaining on the man’s face.
Hadrian accidentally let out a laugh, the irony of the situation catching up to him. “I’m sorry, sir, I’m extremely grateful for your wife’s praise; she is a renowned Dark Arts specialist. It’s just that… Luna and I have some experience with your Philosopher’s Stone from its year at Hogwarts.”
The man, now revealed to be Nicolas Flamel, raised his eyebrows. “The stone on display behind Albus’… obstacle course, the one that was destroyed, was not the real one.”
“We’re very aware, sir,” Luna interjected. “Hadrian was the one who dismantled the rune work to remove it from its mirror. We were actually talking about the real stone, which was hidden in dungeon five.”
Nicolas Flamel looked at them for a second. “You were what, fifteen?”
“Most of my friends and I were fourteen and fifteen. Luna was thirteen.”
“Well, consider me impressed. I do have to ask though: why are you participating in this competition? Most of the contestants want glory, but it doesn’t seem to me that you do.”
Hadrian smiled. “I want to be a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” he replied. “I’ve been teaching my class recently, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I was told that if I wanted to become one, I’d have to get experience, so I signed up for duelling as I was already skilled at it. I was hoping to use it to get more experience this summer.”
“Well that’s interesting,” Mr Flamel said, “because my wife has been impressed with you, as I said earlier. If you can stay for slightly longer tomorrow, after the EDUW has ended, then she can talk to you to see if she thinks you’d be a good fit for the apprenticeship.”
“Thank you, sir,” Hadrian replied. “It’s an honour to even be considered.”
The rest of the ball went smoothly, Luna and Hadrian dancing until quite late and then walking back to their room together.
However, once they got there, Luna turned to him.
“Hadrian, I need to talk to you about something important,” she said, her voice unusually serious.
“What is it?” Hadrian replied slightly warily.
Luna sighed, pulling him to sit on the bed beside her. “Why are you scared of fire?”
I knew this conversation had to happen at some point.
He closed his eyes, rubbing the palms of hands against them.
“On Hallowe’en 1981, the Dark Lord attacked the Potters’ safe house in Godric’s Hollow,” he began slowly. Luna let him speak, despite having heard this part many times before. “But failed. Sirius arrived first, and picked me up. However, he quickly realised that Peter Pettigrew had betrayed the Potters and so Apparated, accidentally taking me with him before the Potters could see me. When he confronted Pettigrew in London, the man cast a powerful curse –the one that they thought Sirius cast, that killed all those muggles. I don’t know what it was, but there was- lots of fire and it hurt so much. Next thing I knew, I was in Azkaban.”
Luna reached out to grasp his hand, pulling it into her lap. “Did you get burnt?” she asked softly.
Hadrian nodded, then pulled his dress shirt off, quickly turning to show Luna his back. It was a mess of spiralling burnt skin, lines following where the spell had been.
“I was huddled in Sirius robes, so only my back got hit,” he told her, his words barely a whisper. “And now I can’t see fire without thinking of it.”
Luna pulled back around to face her, hugging him tightly. “I saw you flinch earlier when that wizard cast incendio maximum. I’ve seen it happen before, but I decided to ask you this time.”
She looked at his bare chest.
She’s the first person to see all my scars.
“What are these from?” she asked, pointing at the various scars across his chest and upper arms.
Hadrian took a shaky breath, then pointed to four raised, red lines over his heart. “I went into Bella’s cell on a bad day. She pinned me to the floor and- and scratched me with her nails. She said that she want-wanted to rip my heart out.”
“Those are quite some nails,” Luna murmured. Hadrian gave a faint smile.
“She sharpens them on the bars of her cage. Sharpened them. I don’t know if she still does.”
Luna ran her hand over the scratches, then pointed to Hadrian’s left arm, where a thick, white scar ran from his shoulder to just before his wrist. “How about this one?”
Hadrian stared at it for a moment. “Barty snuck a knife in, I’m not sure how. He cut me all the way down my arm, before I was able to get away,” he told her, running a gentle finger along it.
“And this one?”
Hadrian looked at the oddly circular purple mark. “Rabastan punched me at the same time as he had an accidental magic burst. Whatever curse it was left this.”
Luna brushed her hand over it.
“That- that’s most of them. The major ones,” Hadrian told her, his voice shaky.
Luna seemed to consider her next words. “I get why you haven’t shown me these before,” she told him, “because I would imagine they bring back awful memories. But I’m glad that you’ve trusted me to show them to me when I asked.” She tilted her head back slightly to look at his face. “But you’ve forgotten one.”
She turned over the hand that she was still holding in her lap, revealing the black tattoo on Hadrian’s right forearm. It was the same as the last time that she saw it, reading ‘#1075’ in blocky letters.
“This is scar too,” she told him. “It may not have hurt when it appeared on your arm, but it shows your suffering and pain. Years and years of it.”
Hadrian pulled her forward, pressing a kiss to her mouth. “I love you, Luna,” he told her.
Luna smiled. “And I love you, Hadrian.” She pulled him down for another kiss.
The third day of the competition began with Hadrian’s most difficult match, which ended up being a full hour of spells thrown back and forth, his opponent a highly skilled witch.
His remaining two matches, however, were against people who had woken up with huge hangovers after drinking far, far too much firewhiskey the night before. Hangover Relief potions were forbidden by the competition rules, as they could enhance physical ability beyond normal levels; this led clumsy and poorly-performing opponents. Hadrian beat them both with one or two spells, which was absolutely shocking for an international competition.
“They won’t be making that mistake again,” Luna murmured to him as the awards ceremony began. Hadrian had won, shaking hands with the host of the competition and then the chair of the European Duelling Board. He was awarded a silver, spherical pendant that he later strung on some black thread and hung around his neck to join his bone wand.
He thanked them for their time, then went to meet Luna, who was standing with a witch who looked to be in her mid-twenties with tanned skin and dark hair.
“Well done, Hadry,” Luna exclaimed, pulling him into a tight hug, then turning to the witch beside her. “This is Hadrian!” she exclaimed, pointing to him.
The women gave a rich laugh. “I had realised that. I have been watching him in the competition. I’m Perenelle Flamel,” she added at Hadrian’s curious look.
His eyes widened. “I’m huge fan of your work, ma’am,” he said, an awe-filled look on his face.
“My husband told me. He was quite impressed after your encounter yesterday, you know. That’s not an easy feat,” Perenelle Flamel told him. “He said that you want to become a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Hadrian replied. “I’ve enjoyed the subject for a long time, and I’ve been teaching my class this year due to… unforeseen circumstances.”
“I’m afraid you might have misunderstood my work,” she told him. “I specialise in performing the Dark Arts, not defending from them.”
“I’m aware, ma’am. I use the Dark Arts myself. I’ve found that the line between Light and Dark is somewhat blurred in Defence, though,” Hadrian replied.
Perenelle frowned. “You attend Hogwarts? They are normally harsher towards the Dark Arts than some other schools.”
“Yes,” Hadrian agreed. “But I grew up surrounded by people who used the Dark Arts, so I don’t hold the same prejudices.”
“Alright,” Perenelle told him. “I’ll discuss an apprenticeship with you. I just have a few more questions first.”
“Of course, ma’am.”
“You would be spending the entire month of July learning from me, and you would stay at my manor with only one or two opportunities for guests. Would your parents agree to this?”
“I don’t live with my parents, ma’am,” Hadrian replied, stiffening slightly. “So it wouldn’t be a problem.”
“Alright. We would be mainly staying in France. Would you be comfortable mostly being around people speaking French?”
Hadrian gave her a small smile. “I’m almost fluent in it, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Ah! That’s useful, as I often switch between languages for ease of meaning,” Perenelle said happily, clearly not expecting that response. “Final question: do you have any medical conditions that I should be aware of?”
Hadrian frowned. “I can’t be under the influence of magic suppressing wards,” he told her.
“Oh?” she asked, an interested expression on her face.
“I… due to some events that occurred when I was younger, my magic is tied to my heart. It beats in time with it, and if my magic is cut off the-”
“- your heart will stop beating,” Perenelle finished, looking at him in a new light. “I’ve only heard of that happening once before in my very, very long life.”
“I’d rather keep the circumstances of it private, ma’am,” Hadrian said tightly.
“Of course, of course. Just because you’re my apprentice does not mean that I should know the details of your private life,” she said, waving it away. “Now, I’ll be in contact with you in the next week, so keep your eyes peeled for any letters from a pink owl.”
“A pink owl?” Luna asked, delight in her eyes.
“Yes. I rather stupidly left some potions out next to her perch, and she drank them. She is now pink forever. We can’t reverse it,” Perenelle said, a smile on her face.
“Thank you, ma’am,” Hadrian said. “But I need to leave now. My OWLs start in two weeks, you see, and I need to do some revision.” He turned to his girlfriend, who was grinning at the thought of meeting a pink owl. “Do you want to come back with me now or stay longer?”
“I’ll go with you,” she replied, waving goodbye to Perenelle.