As Professor Ilona gazed at the determined and headstrong girl before her, an odd sensation enveloped her, reminiscent of her younger self.
Just as Professor Ilona drifted into memories, Cedric emerged from the Hufflepuff group and spoke up.
“Indeed, the duel isn’t over.”
Witnessing this, Professor Ilona’s hesitation dissolved, and she declared, “The fifth match between Hufflepuff and Slytherin will feature Cassandra!”
“The representative from Hufflepuff is Cedric!”
“Both sides, get ready!”
Cassandra and Cedric exchanged bows, then turned and retraced their steps.
With a nod from Professor Ilona, the duel’s commencement was signaled.
As they turned simultaneously, their wands pointed toward each other, poised for action.
Both sides cast their spells in rapid succession, conjuring a flurry of magical explosions at the center of the arena.
The duel progressed intensely, the evenly matched bout between Hufflepuff’s second-year student and Slytherin’s first-year student proving more exhilarating than the preceding duels.
Amidst the dazzling spells, the ambiance heated up once more.
Hufflepuff, previously at ease, erupted with raucous cheers for Cedric.
While Slytherin faced defeat, Cassandra’s ability to hold her own against a second-year Hufflepuff as a first-year Slytherin earned a modicum of respect for the House.
Wentworth, observing the duel, noted the escalating intensity. Cassandra and Cedric’s disarming spells became entwined, locked in a fierce struggle.
Their magic intertwined in mid-air, preventing either from making progress.
At that moment, Wentworth contemplated, “What sort of prodigious classmates were these? Cedric was understandable; he was a true contender slated to represent Hogwarts in the Triwizard Tournament.”
“To some extent, he was the school’s leading figure. However, the little girl’s astonishing prowess had gone unnoticed in the original book.” Wentworth thought.
Observing the ongoing spell exchanges, Wentworth found none of the incantations familiar.
And these two students were merely in the same grade as him?
The magical world was proving more treacherous than he had initially assumed.
While Wentworth had arrived at Hogwarts brimming with curiosity, observing the present scene filled him with a sense of urgency and impending danger.
Just as Wentworth was lost in thought, an exclamation from the arena jolted him from his reverie.
Turning his attention back to the duel, Wentworth saw that Cedric’s disarming spell was gradually nearing Cassandra’s wand.
Pale and perspiring, Cassandra’s makeup had begun to smear.
“Cassandra can’t hold on much longer. Compared to Cedric, her magical reserves are nearly depleted. Against any other second-year Hufflepuff, she might’ve managed to continue. Unfortunately, she’s up against Cedric.”
Prefect Green explained to Wentworth from beside him.
Although Prefect Green perceived Cedric’s impending victory, he appeared devoid of elation, instead betraying a sense of regret in his tone.
At the same time, Cedric, standing in the arena, spoke up, “Cassandra, give up. Your magical stamina is running out.”
However, Cassandra, facing Cedric, clenched her teeth and remained silent.
She continued straining to sustain her spell.
Amid the escalating battle, applause sporadically grew louder and eventually filled the entire Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom at Hogwarts.
Amidst the applause, Cassandra’s strength wavered, and abruptly her spell ceased.
She seemed on the verge of collapsing.
Two figures sprung into action, almost simultaneously, to assist her.
Professor Ilona flicked her finger, dispelling Cedric’s spell effortlessly, even without using her wand.
The other figure was Professor Snape. He positioned himself before Cassandra, extending his hand to support her shoulder and prevent her from toppling over.
Faced with her head of House, Cassandra spoke dejectedly, “Professor Snape, I’m sorry. I’ve lost, disgracing Slytherin…”
As she spoke, Cassandra’s eyes shimmered with moisture.
In that instant, Cedric’s voice resounded nearby, “Cassandra, I didn’t win this duel, nor did you lose…”
Cedric was approaching to check on Cassandra’s condition when her words reached his ears, prompting him to interject.
Yet before Cedric could conclude, Cassandra cut him off:
“No need to console me. If I lose, I lose. Can’t I handle a loss? If I lose this time, I’ll win next time! Just wait and see. It won’t be long—I’ll challenge you to another duel!”
Witnessing this, Cedric, who had been concerned, suddenly broke into a smile and responded.
“Cassandra, if you feel like you’ve lost, you’ve only lost to yourself. I refuse to accept that I won, no matter what!”
“Moreover, don’t come to me if you want to win next time! I’m a year ahead of you, after all. If you win, it’s nothing to boast about. If you lose, you’ll be humiliated. Challenge that boy over there. He’s the one behind today’s spectacle!”
Cedric pointed toward Wentworth, not far away.
Wentworth looked at Cedric pointing him puzzled.
However, this time, Wentworth had no inclination to decline.
With an adult’s soul within him, he understood that certain things in life couldn’t be avoided unless he planned to stay within the confines of Hogwarts forever.
Therefore, Wentworth didn’t decline this time, but took the initiative to approach.
Seeing Wentworth approaching, Cassandra stood upright.
Observing her, Professor Snape stepped aside.
As Wentworth neared Cassandra, he leaned in and whispered.
“Aren’t you upset because I stood before you last time and took a step forward? Once you’ve recovered, I’ll accept your challenge. I might not be your equal, but I’ll give it my all. After all, I don’t mind being bullied if it’s for a good cause!”
Upon hearing Wentworth’s words, Cassandra was on the verge of smiling.
However, just as she began to relax, her eyes suddenly closed, and she collapsed.
Reacting swiftly, Wentworth caught her in his arms. But a grim voice pierced the air before he could exhale in relief.
“What did you just whisper to my student’s ear!?””
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