Harry stuck with his meditation, but he couldn't continue to ignore Malfoy for long. Things came to a head on the last day before Christmas vacation.
When Harry, Hermione and Neville came down for the Christmas decorations, Malfoy was already there. He was making snide comments at Ron, but Dean and Seamus were already pulling him away. Harry and his friends seeing Malfoy, decided to leave before he could try and insult them. Unfortunately, Malfoy spotted them. "Hey, Scarhead! Scarhead! Potter! Hey I'm talking to you!" Harry turned around, moving to speak to Hagrid carrying a tree into the hall rather than allow Malfoy to bother them. Unfortunately, Malfoy was not to be deterred. "Too bad you can't go home to a place where you're wanted. Of course you've got no idea what that's like. Blast it you stupid orphan boy- would you look at me while I talk to you!?" As soon as Malfoy started to try to get their attention, Harry began his meditation exercises. The usual cool energy filled him, but this time it was a little different. Instead of feeling calm and peaceful, he felt keyed up and ready to act. Still, he tried to keep his distance from the spoiled brat. Ron, Dean and Seamus stopped, knowing that this was about to get entertaining.
Malfoy could see no sign that Harry or his friends were paying attention to him. Being an only child, he was not used to being ignored, and did not like it. "That's it! Desaunguo!" The curse rocketed forward and hit Hermione in the back, causing her to cry out and fall. Harry acted on instinct. He turned around and flung his empty hand toward Malfoy. A patch of magical ice formed over Malfoy's nose and mouth, making it so he couldn't breathe. Malfoy's eyes widened in panic as he realized his predicament. Professor Snape, watching from the shadows, moved into the Great Hall to help the Slytherin. Hagrid moved as well, holding Hermione in his arms as her teeth grew to alarming and painful proportions. Harry, still full of energy, wished for the spell to stop working, and focused that wish on Hermione's teeth. The growth halted.
Snape however was not having as much success as Malfoy's pale face turned blue. Nothing he was doing seemed to have any effect on the ice preventing Malfoy from breathing, and the normally pale boy was beginning to turn an alarming shade of purple. Snape was becoming increasingly desperate. "Potter, I don't know what you did, but get over here and reverse it before you become a murderer!" Harry turned towards his two least favorite people in the castle. Unsure of what to do, or what he had done in the first place, he waved his hand, thinking about what he wanted to happen. The ice disappeared, and Malfoy fell to the ground gasping. Snape left him to his ever-present body guards and stalked towards the Gryffindors. "I will see you expelled for this, Potter! That was attempted murder!" The normally cool and collected professor was furious. Harry fully expected Snape to try to curse him himself. Unconsciously Harry began to draw more power into himself from the lake. Before anything could happen, however, Professor McGonagall stepped into the Great Hall, Ron, Dean and Seamus following.
"What in the world has happened here?! Severus, Hagrid, explain! These boys came to me saying that there was a spell duel in the middle of the Great Hall!" The woman was livid at the very thought.
Snape all of a sudden seemed reluctant to speak. He had not noticed Hagrid as he, from Snape's point of view, was blocked by the large tree. Hagrid, however, wasted no time. "I saw teh whole thing Professor. Draco over there was trying to goad Weasley inta a figh' when 'arry and 'is other friends showed up. Draco tried ter insult 'arry's family, but 'arry was jus' ignorin' 'im and tryin' ter talk ter me. Draco got mad at being ignored an' cursed 'ermione in teh back. 'Arry just turned around and flung out 'is 'and. Didn' even 'ave a wand in it! Ice formed over Malfoy's mouth an' 'arry turned back an' stopped 'ermione's teeth from growin'. 'E was jus' defendin' 'imself an' 'is friends! Professor Snape wanted ter expel 'im! How's that fair?"
Professor McGonagall turned her eyes to the Potions Master. "Severus, is this true?"
Professor Snape smoothly replied, "Yes it's true, Potter attempted murder over a schoolyard hex! Draco's lucky Potter removed the ice before he suffocated. Potter should be expelled! He has the same disregard for other students as his father. We should get rid of him before he infects the rest of the school!"
"Severus! That is ridiculous and grossly unfair. By your admission Mr. Malfoy fired the first hex at Miss Granger's unprotected back. That is assault by any standards. Mr. Potter's actions are clearly self-defense and unconscious magic! For God's sake Severus, he didn't even have his wand out!" She turned to Hagrid. "Hagrid, please escort Miss Granger to the Hospital Wing to reverse the spell effects. She will not want to go home tomorrow looking like that. As for you Mr. Malfoy, a month's detention upon your return to school, and a fifty point deduction from Slytherin for your disgraceful actions! What do you have to say for yourself?"
Malfoy looked up at the deputy headmistress with hatred in his eyes. Panting he threatened, "When…my father…hears about…this…"
Professor Snape interrupted him before he could say anything more. "He would be ashamed of you." Taking Malfoy by the elbow, he spoke softly into Malfoy's ear, "But especially for getting caught! And for being beaten by one spell!" He dragged the young man down to the dungeons, followed by Crabbe and Goyle.
Professor McGonagall then turned to the Gryffindors. Her eyes now expressed disappointment in them, but she didn't say anything about the fight being their fault. "Mr. Potter, do you want to tell me what hex it was that you used on Mr. Malfoy? I have not heard it's like before and clearly it is very dangerous. Where did you learn about it?"
Harry shrugged. "I honestly didn't think of anything. I just wanted him to not curse us again. My magic must have thought this was the best way."
"I'm sorry you felt you had to do that. While violence is never the answer in these situations, you clearly acted in defense of a friend and while under attack yourself. I will not take away points or assign detentions, but I want you to promise me you will endeavor to avoid finding yourself in situations like this. Many times in your tenure at this school you will find yourself in situations like these were hexes are being thrown at you, and I want you to tell me you will not let them escalate to this level again! As unpleasant as young Malfoy may be, sometimes the best solution is to take his ridicule and turn the other cheek. Otherwise he will feel forced to do what he did today again, do you understand?"
Harry bristled. "You mean to tell me that I should just let him make fun of me? Let him mock me with impunity? How is that fair to me or to anyone else?"
McGonagall sighed. "It's not. But my interests are keeping my students safe. I can't do that if one of them regularly loses his temper and curses other students for reasons that are preventable. Avoid Mr. Malfoy outside of classes. Rest assured I will be cracking down on him so that he learns the consequences of exploding like he did today. His punishments will not be pleasant. Don't make me punish you as well." With those parting words, McGonagall strode off, no doubt to inform the headmaster of the situation.
Harry, despite his anger at his dressing down, was ecstatic. He looked at Neville, and the formerly round-face boy shared his excitement. Here finally was proof that everything they had been working towards was real! This wandless stuff really did work. Harry had never felt so powerful holding a wand, and knew that this was only the beginning. Once winter break started, he would ask Hagrid if he could help in the Forbidden Forest, or to see if he could take him into the mountains surrounding the lake. Maybe Harry could get special permission to explore the forest by himself! That would really help his studies.
Harry frowned. He remembered that this whole project started when he was looking for information on Nicolas Flamel. Why had he forgotten about that? How could he have forgotten about the enormous three headed dog on the third floor? It nearly ate him and his friends! Harry was beginning to become agitated. Unconsciously, he began to think of the lake again, and began ordering his thoughts. For some reason, he thought of the train ride. Then he remembered where he had heard the name Flamel before.
"Neville! I remembered!" Harry started off towards the Hospital Wing at a fast clip.
"Where I heard the name Nicolas Flamel before! Dumbledore worked with Flamel in Alchemy! We have to tell Hermione!"
"But how did you remember that? What made you think of it?" Neville was now struggling to keep up with Harry in his excitement. Harry was almost flying down the corridors. Indeed, Neville was seeing a slight blue glow surrounding Harry. It was very faint, but whatever it was it was allowing him to move faster than he had ever moved before on his feet. It was almost as if he was flying, but without a broom.
"I don't know what made me think of it. I was just ordering my mind like I usually do after thinking of the power, and all of a sudden it came to me, like a flash of insight! It's like I can think clearly now, for the first time in my life. It's great!" Harry was almost bouncing in his excitement. He couldn't wait to tell Hermione.
Despite Harry's obvious urgency, they were not able to see Hermione for at least an hour. By the time Madam Pomfrey finally let them in, Harry was ready to climb the walls of the castle and sneak in through the windows. Hermione was touched by their concern for her wellbeing as Harry breathlessly described his breakthrough with both wandless magic and with Nicolas Flamel. After asking Hermione if she saw how he was able to cast ice over Malfoy's mouth for the fifth time, Hermione finally exploded. "No, Harry, I didn't see it because I was on the ground trying to keep my teeth from reaching down below my chin! I appreciate you stopping the spell, but how do you know that what you did wasn't accidental? Did you try it again?"
Harry, chastened, immediately stopped pestering his friend. But because he had so much energy still, he knew he could do as she asked. He threw his hand out like he did last, concentrating on the feeling. A whole wall of ice sprung forth. It moved forward along the floor and crashed into the wall opposite from them. Neville was dumbstruck. "That was awesome! What else can you do?" Harry waved his hands again. He pictured Neville moving through the air like a puppet on strings. When he opened his eyes, Neville was four feet off of the ground! By now Harry was feeling tired, so he pictured putting Neville back down. Once Neville was safely on the ground, Harry sat down heavily on Hermione's bed. He looked at her with triumph in his eyes. Then he looked closer.
"Hey Hermione, are your teeth smaller than they were before?"
"Of course they are. I wasn't going to keep those chompers now was I?" But she didn't look him in the eye when she said it.
"No, I mean smaller than they were before Malfoy cursed them." He noticed that she was blushing a little. "They are, aren't they? What did you do?"
Hermione looked a little mischievous. "Well, she held up a mirror and told me to say when to stop, so I…let it go on a little." At their looks she got defensive. "What? It's not like my parents would pay to have my teeth reduced. They're dentists! They know how much that stuff costs."
Harry immediately set her straight. "We're not mad at you Hermione. I mean, you look good now, but we liked you before, you know? You didn't have to change yourself."
Hermione's eyes got a little misty. "Oh, you stupid boys!" She hit Harry on the side of the arm, but she was smiling while she did it.