“You’re not worth it,” Joanna simply said.
Immediately, seeing that there would not be a duel, the crowd slowly dispersed.
“Typical Hufflepuffs, weaklings as usual,” Matilda shouted, hoping to attract only Joanna’s attention, but ended up stopping all the Hufflepuffs in their tracks.
Clearly noticing her mistake, Matilda quickly hurried off, with her posse following after her like lost puppies.
Just as Matilda disappeared around a corner, an announcement boomed overhead and Professor Dumbledore’s voice sent everyone silent.
“Attention all final year students, please proceed to the great hall immediately.”
“But we have class,” Annoria said in reply.
“No astronomy, I’m fine with that,” Joanna said, as they began following the small crowd towards the great hall.
Once they had arrived, the great hall had been rearranged. The tables and benches were stacked up against the wall, leaving a huge empty space in the center. At the teacher’s table was Professor Dippet, Professor Dumbledore, Professor Merrythought, and three people whom Joanna suspected to be the aurors.
“What is going on?” Annoria asked.
Asking the same question to herself, Joanna hoped it had nothing to do with Tom and his horcuxes. And when she spotted him at the corner of the teacher’s table, she sighed a small relief.
“Recruitment drive,” someone answered Annoria’s question from behind them.
“It’s not that easy though,” another student added.
“They didn’t do this last year,” Annoria said.
“Shortage in staff,” Joanna replied, and the students around her chuckled softly.
Some of the prefects began to ask students to move forward, as everyone was crowding at the back of the hall, and none dared to break off from the group.
“We are not going to hurt you,” the female auror said.
Cautious laughter followed with the crowd slowly shuffling forward.
“My name is Nyla and we have been told by Professor Merrythought that you are one of Hogwarts’ finest badge in defense against the dark arts. So, a few of us has decided to fish out the talented ones to join our force,” the female auror explained.
“You’re not going to try and kill us are you?” a Gryffindor student asked. He was bold enough to speak up, but clearly not so brave after all.
“Of course not. We’re going to run this recruitment test just like how we do it in the ministry. It is legal and safe, trust me,” Nyla answered confidently.
Nyla was a slim, tall and pretty, middle aged woman, and her two fellow colleagues were men, one of them taller than Professor Dumbledore, and the other slightly shorter than Nyla. All three of them had battle wounds, but Nyla did the best job at hiding hers.
Just as Joanna had finally studied them all, she noticed that the three of them had positioned themselves at the front of the hall. They were pulling their wands out so slowly that Joanna was certain she was the only one that saw. Instinctively, she pulled hers out slowly as well.
“What we’re going to do today,” Nyla paused when she spotted Joanna with her wand, and then she continued, “is to test your speed, accuracy and creativity in a combat duel, especially when you’re caught off guard.”
Immediately after she had spoken, her two colleagues started firing spells at the students. Screams and yells echoed throughout the great hall as students were running towards the exit.
Joanna, with her wand at hand, blocked off as many spells she could while she yelled for the ones around her to take out their wands.
“What. Are. They. Doing?!” Annoria yelled in between the piercing screams.
“Fishing out the talented ones,” Joanna shouted in reply.
A few other students started emerging from the crowd of hysterical students with their wands, defending the flying sparks of all colors that was heading towards them.
“I. Can’t. Keep. This. Up. I’m. Not. Good!” Annoria said, now losing breath as the aurors did not sop.
Having her attention diverted to Annoria for just a second, Joanna did not see a spell that was intentionally meant for her. The moment it hit her on the chest, she flew all the way to the back of the hall, and landed onto one of the stacked tables.
Pain rose from her joints as she tried to stand up. Being slightly above the crowd, she saw Nyla aim another spell at her.
“Why is she picking one me?!” Joanna said to herself.
Quickly dogging the red spark, Joanna fired a spell back at her. It was no longer a game of defense.
Joanna watched as Nyla blocked off her spells as they started heading towards each other. She was sure they would finally come face to face when one of Nyla’s colleagues decided to come to Nyla’s aid.
This is unfair! Joanna thought.
Joanna looked around to see if anyone would come to her aid, and when she saw Annoria on her knees, having given up, Joanna knew she was done for.
The next spell that hit Joanna sent her wand out of her hand as she landed on her back. As she laid on the ground, not wanting to move, she heard the spells stop and the screams slowly died down.
“Fished out the talented ones already?!” Matilda shouted from under her tears.
Joanna couldn’t help but laugh.
“I believe we have,” Nyla said. A loud click came from the doors of the great hall, and Matilda stormed past the once locked doors.
“She wasn’t very good, Nyla,” Professor Merrythought said as the crowd watched Matilda leave.
“You can all return to your dormitories now, class is cancelled for today,” Professor Dippet announced, and some of the angry and upset students decided to let go of their grudges immediately.
Finally sitting up, Joanna scanned the hall for her wand. When she saw it lying 10 feet away, it was being picked up by no one other than Nyla.
“I believe this is yours,” Nyla said, as she walked towards her.
“Thank you,” Joanna replied as she took her wand.
“You gave a real good fight.”
“Ever thought of becoming an auror?” Nyla asked.
Was that an offer? It must have been. Joanna had never thought of becoming an auror, considering her family’s background, but just the thought of finally being able to break her family’s curse was hope she never had before. Should she take up Nyla on the offer?
To be continued…
(Leave a comment below or vote on whether Joanna should become an auror!)