In Which The Council Assesses Miss Abbott
“Excellent,” Giles said, making a note on the clipboard. Hannah could hear the pen scritching on the paper.
Hannah Abbott was standing, blindfolded, posed in a kata, ready for attack. She liked to think that, anyway. Perhaps it would be more accurate to state that, she was following commands, as given to her by Giles, displaying her knowledge of the Asian martial arts.
Hannah was so nervous she felt like her skin would fly off of her body. She wanted to do well because she wanted Meredith as her slayer, and she wanted them to be able to do a patrol. If Blaise could see this right now, he would not be happy, though. He didn’t like her fighting. At all. Ever.
Giles issued a few more commands, and she displayed the proper forms.
“I think that is enough of that,” he stated. “You can take off your blindfold now.”
She did. Vi was standing in front of her.
“Hi!” Vi was grinning. “We’re gonna do some sparring.” She came in close and whispered conspiratorially, “I’ll be gentle.”
“I appreciate that,” Hannah whispered back. “I would not put it beneath Blaise to come up here and give you a good threat if you bruise me.”
Vi just smirked at that.
That said, Hannah backed away suddenly and took a defensive stance. She did not feel comfortable hitting a slayer, and she certainly wasn’t going to feel comfortable the first time Vi hit her. Hannah swallowed nervously. She was certain Vi had heard the sound even though she was a nice distance away. Hannah was keeping a mantra in her head to not make any girlie sounds.
Vi rolled her neck, and Hannah could hear the pops and cracks from where she stood. She swung her arms back and forth about ten times, did some leg and waist stretches, and then when Hannah was starting to wonder if the attack was going to come, in the blink of an eye, Vi cartwheeled over to her and knocked her on the ground.
Hannah employed her training, and was back on her feet a split-second later.
Hannah rubbed her shoulder and wished she could use her wand. That spinning cartwheel move would have been a tad more difficult with legs that were bound together. When Vi darted at her again, Hannah actually squealed and hit the ground with an awkward roll move. It was not her most graceful or dignified moment.
After she got off the floor (Vi had assisted without dumping her on her bum again) they began sparring in earnest. The moves were very nearly too swift for Hannah, and yet, the watcher candidate got the distinct feeling that Vi was playing with her.
A blow caught her chin and Hannah staggered backwards. She was going to need a very hot bubble bath and perhaps some cuddling from Blaise after this. Gentle cuddling. She again wished her had her wand. Hannah crouched low and threw herself at Vi’s middle. She wasn’t expecting the most favorable outcome, but at least they’d know she didn’t give up easily.
“Wow!” Vi said, neatly side-stepping the attack. “Did they teach you how to tackle at Hogwarts? ‘Cause if they did, they need to stop. That was really bad form.”
Giles smirked. Vi was just a little too sunnily disposed to taunt properly.
Just as Hannah was straightening up, something slammed into her legs and she was on the ground again.
“That’s how you tackle. Don’t go for the middle. Go for the legs.”
“No, I didn’t learn how to sodding tackle at Hogwarts,” Hannah snapped. “I wore pigtails and was generally sweet until my fifth year. That’s when I took up binding charms and other such hexes. I’ve never tackled anyone in my life until today.”
“Charms and hexes? If you wanted to work with sticks, why didn’t you say so?” Vi smiled, and then retrieved two staves from the floor next to the mat. She tossed one at Hannah.
The blonde’s eyes narrowed. She closed her eyes for a moment and tried to tap into what Draco’s future self had taught her about the staff. When Vi attacked, she actually managed to block even though it made her hands sting.
Vi looked impressed.
Giles was scribbling furiously on his paper.
The slayer was trying more advanced moves to try and trip up the new watcher. It very nearly worked a few times. “You’ve been practicing,” She commented.
“Not yet,” Hannah said.
She was pleased to have her mishap working for her in a way that was making people happy and not nervous.
This went on for some time, with Hannah actually taking Vi’s legs out from underneath her.
“Excellent,” Giles called out. Thank you, Vi.”
He stood, and donned a fencing mask and picked up a foil. He tossed another mask at Hannah, which she caught easily enough. He picked up another foil and held it out to her.
Hannah donned her mask and sliced the foil through the air a few times to test the balance of it. She would be nowhere near as good at this as Giles, but Meredith had been working with her, and Meredith was quite the fencer for her age. In fact, Hannah was of the mind she should put Meredith to train in fencing with Giles because there was nothing Hannah could teach her there.
She took a deep breath and took a defensive stance. She was not about to attack her boss.
Giles had figured that Hannah would not want to make the first move. He came at her quickly, only to have his blade swiftly knocked aside. “Good,” he commented. He came at her again, with a more difficult attack.
Hannah managed to deflect that one as well, but only just. She could feel her nervous sweat starting already. She really wasn’t a confrontational person unless given no choice.
Giles was impressed. She was already doing better than he expected, but she was still in defense mode. “You know,” he told her, “You need to demonstrate more than your defensive techniques. If you are in a battle to the death, I need to know that you are able to put the pointy bit into something evil.” He turned up the pressure.
“I have a problem attacking you, sir,” Hannah said honestly. “Also, you’re very much not evil. I’m not very aggressive by nature, and as you are my boss, I’m not comfortable, and yes, I realize if an evil something was trying to kill me, I would likely not be comfortable in the least, but again we come to the part of you not being evil.”
She could tell he was getting annoyed with her.
“Oh bother. This is going to smart, I think. Am I allowed to cheat?”
He gave her an odd look, so Hannah kicked at him - not a move allowed in civilized fencing.
“You know, cheating. I suspect the bad guys won’t play fair, so for the purposes of my attacking you, am I permitted to cheat?”
She kicked towards his thigh again.
“Absolutely,” Giles responded, reaching out and grabbing her foot and twisting. “Just be aware that I also cheat.”
Hannah shouted as she was forced to fall to the floor or risk a twisted ankle. She immediately rolled to avoid his foil. When he attacked again, she managed to deflect, but she was on the ground. Trying to get to her feet with him swinging at her proved difficult.
She lashed out with her foot, and caught him in the shin. He was able to shake it off, but not before she scrambled back and flipped to her feet.
Giles raised an eyebrow. That looked like a move that a slayer would have done.
“Taking lessons from Meredith?” He jabbed.
“Yes,” Hannah answered, panting.
Her form was looking less than stellar, but she was managing. In a real fight, Hannah doubted very much she would care about proper form so long as she lived. She took a deep breath and finally did what he asked, knowing it would not end well for her. Hannah lunged at him.
Foil met foil, each of them doing things that would have gotten them disqualified were this a competitive match.
She couldn’t last much longer. Hannah knew this. The dainty foil was starting to feel like a tree trunk to her arm, and Giles was much better at fencing than she was. She swiped at the sweat on her brow with the back of her hand.
The next set of events happened rather quickly. Hannah charged him. He tripped her. She went spilling across the floor, her foil leaving her hand and skidding out of reach. When Hannah rolled onto her back, the tip of his foil was right at her throat.
“So let’s hope I don’t have to fence with anyone anytime soon, yes?”
“Perhaps we should have Meredith work with you on this particular subject instead of the other way around,” Giles commented drylly, dropping the point of his foil and pulling his mask off. “That bit where you almost took off my hand was well done, however. I may need to go and see Nott later.” He pulled his left hand out of the glove and revealed the red stripe on the back of it.
He transferred his foil to his gloveless hand, and held out the other one to her to help her up.
“Let’s do some Q and A regarding common Demons and what to do about them, and then you can duel Alastor.”
Hannah had gasped when she saw what she had done to his hand. Then she gasped again at the suggestion that she duel Moody.
“Pardon me for saying so, but it will not be a duel. It will be him hexing me before I can probably even get my wand up, then me falling over,” Hannah said as she let him pull her to her feet. “I could just lie down and we could say that’s what happened instead of me going through the humiliation. I’m usually accurate, but most times not terribly swift with my hexes.”
Hannah leaned close. “He’s terribly quick for someone who’s so rickety-looking, you know.”
Giles chuckled. “I dare say it will be him playing with you for a spell like a cat does with a mouse.” Off her look, he added, “He’s going to keep it to N.E.W.T level spellwork. I promise.”
He paused, a thoughtful look crossed his features.
“Of course, it has been such a very long time since he took the N.E.W.T tests... Have they changed much since you took them, Alastor?”
“Yes,” Moody replied from his chair. “She’s going to need the training she got from Potter the year he did that Dumbledore’s Army club, because we’re going by what was required in 1912, not 1998. Generally, the darkest wizards are also among the oldest, and they have skills that the average N.E.W.T Level student does not. There’s a reason why it took Tonksie so long to become an Auror Constable, aside from her clumsiness.”
“I never took my N.E.WT.s,” Hannah said, slight panic in her voice. “The school was attacked by Voldemort before we could get to that.”
She would not mention that she’d needed a calming draught before her O.W.L.s. Hannah was fairly certain Moody already knew this. In school, her friends Ernie and Justin had always teased her about being too much of a perfectionist with her written exams and practicals. Hannah felt she had learned to be less of a ball of stress about things, but this was bringing old insecurities right back to the surface.
Moody harrumphed. “You took the classes, didn’t you? That battle didn’t happen until it was just about time to take your tests. You’ll be fine.”
He added in a lower voice so that she could barely hear him, “Probably.”
“Of course I went to my classes. Had to keep up appearances, didn’t I? But do let’s consider who was teaching them by then,” Hannah muttered to herself, not feeling at all comfortable now.
“Well then,” Moody commented. “You should know some pretty nasty curses.” He raised his eyebrow.
She did, actually, but not because of her seventh year. It was because of things she knew but that had not happened as of yet; it was because she was friends with Draco Malfoy and going to be married to Blaise Zabini.
“Perhaps a few,” she replied, returning his eyebrow raise.