(1941-12-02) Three Heads Are Better Than None
Details for Three Heads Are Better Than None
Summary: Professor Lestrange gives a lecture on the Dullahan, with a practical defense section.
Date: December 2, 1941
Location: Defence Against the Dark Arts

The large cathedral-like windows in this room provide plenty of illumination to work by at the rows of old fashioned wooden desks, which seat two people each. The rooms itself has low, wooden beamed ceiling but still feels open and spacious thanks to the ample lighting and the large size of the space. Towards one end of the room an open space has been left for the instructor to walk about in, a blackboard covering most of the wall in that section of the room. In a corner of the instructor's area there is a small spiral staircase carved out of white marble that ends in a small balcony from which the instructor can observe the whole room without impediment as well as serving as the entrance to the D.A.D.A. office.

Hanging from the chalkboard in the front is a carefully done — and eerily realistic — depiction of a pair of humanoids in black leather armor. One male, one female, both with necks that end in bloody stumps; this is not to say that they are headless. Instead, they are each carrying their own head under their arm, its skin the color and consistency of a moldy, rotted cheese, its mouth locked in a hideous grin from ear to ear. Its eyes are constantly moving about — not figuratively, but literally, due to some enchanted paint. In the other hand is a strange segmented whip of ivory; students with awareness or training in healing or medicine will quickly note that it appears to be made of a human spine.

Professor Lestrange stands grimly before this grisly sight, his hands holding his wand tight and level with the floor.

Medea isn't quite late. She's made into the classroom just as class is about to start, her eyes going wide as she gets a look at what the Professor has in store for them today. She casts about for a place to sit and settles into a desk, rummaging in her bag for her quill, parchment and other supplies. She knows she's read about this somewhere but she's trying to remember what it is exactly. Fretting, she glances towards teh front of the room, entirely distracted by the lesson in front of her—she hasn't even said hello to anyone!

Phee is already seated at the front of the class, with a composition notebook, her inkwell, and a quill pen out. She's notably avoiding the picture on the board, finding the shifting eyes awkward and frightening — so she's glad when she has a pleasant face to look at it instead. She does a little wave of her fingers and a smile over at Medea, mouthing the words 'good morning'. It's a little bit late to boom loudly about it.

Though not officially enrolled in Dark Defense, Carol found it to be an important secondary skill; since her Charms project was completed ahead of schedule, and holidays were still a few weeks away, Professor Viridian had arranged a rare exception for her to sit on the next class of D.A.D.A. as it was to be very Charms-centric. Dullahans in particular seemed an interesting subject, though she knew very little about them. It's never too late to start learning, however.

She was conversing with some of the other more focused students for now about holiday plans, but would be shutting up in short order when the lecture began.

Carol's hand is raised tentatively, but it happens to be the first. "It looks like a Dullahan, professor?" The Ravenclaw was not afraid to give it a go, even if she might be mistaken.

Medea for all of her own intelligence is a little stumped by the question. She /knows/ she's read of this thing beore, but can't quite place the name. So there's a bit of a relieved feeling when Carol gets called on to provide the answer and hopefully gets it right. She scribbles a few notes down. She glances back towards Phee, looking a tiny bit distracted, the poor girl.

"Very good, that's a point for Ravenclaw; now that she's given the first clue, I hope that the rest of you have your memories jogged; can anyone build on Miss Moody's answers? Ah, yes, Miss Phillips." The Professor's dark eyes settled on the other redhead in the front row; she had one hand cautiously raised.

Phee nodded cautiously. "Ah, it's also called as a Gan Ceann. S'traditionally seen as a psychopomp, um, a guide fer the dead. But vengeful-like tae anyone that gets in its way, real dangerous. S'native tae the British Isles, particularly Ireland?"

"Good, and five points for Gryffindor. That is all correct. Miss Summerbee, you seem rather distracted; care to contribute?"

Carol tsked and started taking notes already. Beyond the name and headlessness, this was all new information to her. Psychopomp… guide for the dead… what was significant about those again? She thumbed through previous years' notes to see if she could remember without intruding on the class of more dedicated students.

Medea lets out a tiny squeaking noise as she's called upon. Oh no! Hurriedly, she ruffles through her notes. Stop mooning over Phee, you sill girl! "Ah, um…" She fumbles over her words for a moment, then settles on an answer that would probably earn her disapproving stares from some of her relatives if she uttered it in their presence. "It's got to be careful not to lose its head, I suppose?"

There's a few awkward seconds as the bearded, bowler-wearing professor regards her steadily… and then he nods. "Another point for Ravenclaw. Yes. All of these things are correct. You're more up on the reading than I had expected. Dullahan are considered unusual among dark creatures in their lack of unprovoked aggression, or perhaps more accurately, very focused aggression. They arrive sometimes before the residence of a witch or wizard — or, rarely, a squib — who is in poor health or fortunes and will attempt to immediately drain that person's soul. Once slain, the victim is dead, and the Dullahan will — if allowed to progress unimpeded — simply return from whence it came. Any questions thus far?"

Carol can't help but startle from her digging through old notes at the mention of squibs. When prompted for questions, she raises her hand. "Is it, um. Rarely in the case of squibs because squibs themselves are rare, or even rare for them?" She tries to keep a casual, steady voice about it, though a couple of other students roll their eyes.

Medea sinks back down into her chair with a quiet sigh of relief and a glance towards Phee. Okay, maybe she'll get through this lesson unscathed! She sighs quietly. "Ah, how do you get rid of a dullahan?"

Phee offers a quick grin back at her; someone must have had a luck potion this morning if they managed to turn that into a point for Ravenclaw. But not wanting to suffer the same fate, she quickly turns her attention back to her notebook.

"No, it's a fair question," Professor Lestrange interjected, with a wave of his hands. "The answer is both, as far as we can tell. Squibs, per capita, are visited much less frequently and are also a small part of the Wizarding World. As far as how to get rid of them… do we have a volunteer from the class? Besides Miss Phillips," he added almost immediately, as Phee's hand slowly raised.

Carol nodded and made a show of writing down what he said, taking much longer than necessary as she didn't want to put herself forward - enthusiastic a student as she was, it would be better if someone with a focus in the subject did the demonstration, she thought.

Sadly, Medea is at a complete loss for once. She chews on her lip for a long moment, trying to think. Nothing comes to mind, but someone needs to say /something/ so she ventures an answer again, trying to answer her own question. "Salt? Or if they're faries, cold iron might help?"

"Those elements are helpful, Miss Summerbee, but they are not critical for a Dullahan, and used alone will likely only enrage it unless used by skilled practitioners, most of which are not wizards and witches." He allowed his words to sink in, and a slight murmur floated through the class. He shook his head and continued. "Gold. Dullahan are relentless pursuers, and they will not hesitate to lash out with their bone whips towards those who seek to impede them. Locks made of even the finest cold iron provide little barrier to entry, as they have a passive magic far greater than even the greatest wizard's might behind the word 'Alohomora.' And there are advanced spells which can repel any dark creature… but the Dullahan has a simple weakness. Gold. Even as much as a pin in their path is enough to make them recoil in horror and turn away."

"So… this is something anyone, er… a muggle or…at least a squib could do, if they knew?" Carol reached for another notebook in her bag, this one much more worn and more recently used. A quick transference charm copied one section of notes from one book to the other.

Medea nods as she's corrected and hurriedly jots down a few more notes regarding the repelling of dullahan. The word gold is writ large and underlined multiple times, then circled. Gotta make sure she remembers that one in the future. You know, just in case. Never know when a spectre of death is going to shop up at one's home, after all.

"Indeed. The trick to remember, however, is aim. A pin in their path will only make them walk around it, and they are savage and precise with their whips. A simple levitation charm on gold, carefully placed in their way before they get in range to strike may keep them at bay but will not stop them. Fortunately, while only true gold has its full effect on a Dullahan, ample aim with false or conjured gold is acceptable — so for the second half of class today, you are to split into trios and practice your Siccing Charms."

As the Professor spoke, he clapped his hands, and several pots of leprechaun gold suddenly arrived in the lecture hall. "This is your ammunition. One will be target, one will use the Seize-and-Pull charm to simulate the Dullahan's whip strikes, and the third will be referee. After five rounds, rotate roles. I will be moving around the classroom to observe."

The Siccing Jinx… not her favourite, but Carol knew it well enough. Adapting it to what she had in mind would not be trivial, but it shouldn't be impossible in the long run. In the meantime, however, the practice wouldn't hurt. She glanced around for potential teammates - well, Phoenicia was always a keener, and Medea seemed more engaged than usual. Not to mention it might be funny to make them 'fight', given the way they looked at each other. She stood up and approached them, taking the lead on grouping off. "I'll judge first, then?"

Medea blinks. She's already moved to pair herself off with Phee—why not, after all? And is surprised when Carol joins them. She's familiar with the other Ravenclaw, of course! The whole exercise makes her a little nervous, but she's more than game. "Ah, I suppose we can fight first? Um…" She furrows her brow, glancing over at Phee. "Do you wanna play the dulahan first or…?"

Phee wrinkles her nose; she wasn't terribly eager to get hit by coins. As that thought hit her, she espied next to the cauldron of coins, one of the plush black cushions that they'd used for shielding against the Siccing Charm back in 4th year; that was helpful. "Me auld aunt says fer aye I'm tae quick tae lose my 'ead, so why nah?" She laughed airily at her own joke, then stooped over to pick up the cushion; other students were already milling about in their trios. "Epoximise," she intoned, and with a touch the cushion stuck to her robed arm like a shield. She twirled the wand about 'tween her fingers. "Feel a bit like a gladiator nae." She made some stabbing motions with her wand for emphasis as the tip came to light with an orange glow.

Carol grins to herself as she throws a quick swish of her wand and a checkered flag dangles from it; she holds it between the two girls as if preparing to start a race. "On my mark…"

"Go!" As the signal is given, Medea grins and flicks her wand. Immediately, gold from one of the pots leaps upwards and lunges towards Phee, attempting to peck and batter her as it lunges and dives, almost as if it were some sort of guard animal. She dances backwards, trying to keep herself away from her friend (and not run into anyone) as the exercise goes on. "We'll see how well you manage—!"

A devious little grin — the sort she gets on her face before a quidditch match — lights up the redhead's face and she's off in a start. Phee is surprisingly light on her feet, her long legs letting her sprint quickly as she see-sawed from side to side, juking her movements to try and throw off Medea's aim; as each coin thuds against her cushion-shield, it still kind of stings the arm below, but it's better than taking it direct through a silk robe. Getting within arms' reach, she sweeps outwards with her wand hand and tries to send the spell's cord of light whipping for Medea's center of mass.

Carol watches attentively, wand at the ready, prepared to throw out counterspells as necessary if anything gets out of hand, or to declare a hit if one occurs.

"Eep!" Phee's voice breaks into a startled squeal, and she drops her wand to tiptoe over quickly and offer a hand up to the blonde Ravenclaw. "Apologies! Are ye alright?"

"Point for Phoenicia. Are you all right, there, Medea?" She offers the other hand, so that the two of them might pull her up, though she's ready to withdraw if Medea only goes for Phee's. "On the bright side, if that was a whip, you would have dodged it in the process of falling over."

The rest of Phee and Medea's rounds go fairly similar; Medea's just off her game today, at least with the Siccing Charm. Though later results are less dramatic with Phee toning down her aggression and Medea getting a better grasp of her footing, the Ravenclaw only nicks the Gryffindor girl once with a glancing blow from a single coin, getting a disapproving look from the Professor. Phee looks apologetic as she shakes off the sticky charm on her cushion shield. "Eh, think s'about time fer us tae change things up a wee bit. Any druthers, Carol?"

"Eeny, meeny, miney…" she begins as a way of expressing her lack of preference, but her eyes rest on Medea. "Actually, you look like you could use a bit of a break. Do you want to judge for a bit? Phee, let's go. Carpe Retractum," she makes a whipping motion with her wand and a rope-like structure of light spills out the tip of it to dangle menacingly. "Whenever you're ready."

"Mm, maybe you're right. I was just thinking in terms of imitating the dullahan more than my own perspective. I don't want to cheat, after all." Carol flicked her light-whip towards the cushion and yanked it into her hand before applying the same sticking charm that Phee had used. "Carpe Retractum. Okay, now I'm ready."

Medea raises her wand and sets the two off on their round of fighting. She watches keenly, trying to make sure that she's paying attention when one or the other scores a point so she can redeem her rather poor performance from earlier in the lesson.

Phee didn't have quite the competitive edge to her smile that she had when she and Medea had started out their rounds, though it was anyone's guess if that was due to the fact that she was on a different side or just that she couldn't sneak moon eyes at the person she was sparring with. She nodded, and when Medea said, "Go!", Phee made a sweeping motion with her rosewood wand; the scattered coins on the floor rose up as one and swarmed for the red-headed Ravenclaw.


Taken a bit off-guard by the suddenness of all of the projectiles, Carol stumbled to the side. As luck would have it, however, on her very first flick of the whip, it caught on one of the coins and yanked it into her hand; though it struggled in her grasp, it was one less hostile object to worry about. She kept at it, smacking down the projectiles one by one until she remembered that Phee was supposed to be her target. She put her weight behind the pillow and barrelled forward to get in range of her opponent, wincing at the coins that struck her in the meantime, and finally lashed out with the whip towards Phee's waist.

Phee made to leap backwards as she had before, but the lash of light was just a tad faster than she was; instead of a clean break, her robes are caught and she stumbles backwards on the arrested momentum before awkwardly righting herself. "Whew! Isnae easy!" she exclaimed.

The professor fixed a look at her from the front of the classroom as if to say, 'that is why we are practicing.'

Medea stifles a burst of laughter as she watches the two go at it. She follows after, careful to keep out of the way of the rain of leprauchaun gold. She grins, waving her wand to indicate Carol. "Point for you, Moody! C'mon, Phee, you can do better than that," she teases. Which is a bit rish considering how well /she/ did earlier. C'mon, Medea!

Carol set about rubbing the spots where the coins had struck her. Some of these were going to bruise, for sure. What was that charm that the nurse had used when she fell off her broom in first year? Maybe she should make an effort to learn it.

Regardless, she took only a minute or two to recover and stood at the ready for round 2.

Phee huffed indignantly, picked herself right back up, dusted herself off, and readied herself for another foray. But while the two were pretty evenly matched, with Phee managing to tag Carol successfully with the Siccing Jinx twice, three out of five went to the Ravenclaw over the Gryffindor. Phee was none-too-pleased with herself, but she didn't turn sour or sore to Carol, only scowling at herself. "Fast on yer feet, Miss Moody! Whew. Well, guess it's me turn tae set things off, jes' let me reset the pot." Phee kept her lash active and used it to scoop up the scattered coins on the ground, dropping them back into the little black cauldron; no one needed walking hazards!

Medea takes the cushion and affixes it to her arm in turn. Now it's her chance to play the dullahan and she meant to make the best out of it. She poises her wand and glances over to Phee with a dazzling smile, waiting for the others to get set for the final round of practice. It made sense, really, for the students to practice on each other but Medea got the feeling it was nothing like dealing with a /real/ dullahan. She sets herself, waiting for the signal to begin.

Carol was panting by then. She had gotten really into it and given it her all; either she had forgotten that she would be facing Medea, or hadn't considered her a threat. Whichever it was, she wasn't ready for what ensued.

"Ready… an' set… an'…"

"Gae!" Phee's wand roared to life with a bright flame at the same time.

Medea lunges forward, eyes set and determined. She has to redeem herself from earlier! She's lashing out at Carol as she goes, trying her best to land a hit regardless of the obstacles in her path! She presses forward a bit heedlessly. Perhaps even a bit recklessly, all things considered. She's going to show what she's made of

The flame distracted Carol for a split second, and that set her on the back foot. The siccing charms she threw up were panicked, haphazard, completely ineffective - if Medea had been a real Dullahan, Carol would be done for. As it was, it might have been the quickest point of the set. "Th-there you go. Didn't expect you to go all-out right from the start."

Phee blinked in surprise a few seconds, then let out a low, appreciative whistle. "Och! Bae Merlin's bright bushy beard, Dee, yer a reg'lar Gryffin, pouncin' like she were a wee bairn mousey. …Sorry, Miss Moody," she hastily added at the end, recovering her poise. "I'll give ye tae a moment tae recover."

Medea is rather on-point for this part of the match. She grins at the other two, proud of her accomplishment. "I wanted to make sure I made up for how poorly I did earlier. Besides, I can't let you off easy, Moody!" The rest of this third round, she's aggressive and pushing, doing her best to keep Carol off balance and to land as many 'hits' as she can manage.

Carol, embarrassed, got ahold of herself and kept at it. Though she performed gradually better in subsequent rounds, she was sluggish compared to Medea. Her elegant "Oppugno"s came from more and more creative angles, making it harder and harder to get to her; they might have been effective if she could keep up the pace, but Medea's aggression bore fruit as she managed to nail Carol every single time.

The three girls finished not long before the rest of the class did; they only had just enough time to pick up the coins and get comfortable in their seats before an amplified clapping sound filled the lecture hall. "Solid performances from the lot of you today," Professor Lestrange said, giving a measured praise. "You've done well, though you can see just how dire circumstances might be with an actual Dullahan in close-quarters. Some of you used the Disarming Charm today; for those who are not proficient Duellers, that will be coming soon, and it will be one of your greatest defenses against these dark creatures… aside from a passing fondness for fine jewelry," he added dryly. "Are there any final questions before I assign the reading for next class?"

There was a tense moment, the one where everyone hopes no one speaks up so they can leave class a little bit early and go to Hogsmeade… but to the collective sigh of everyone in the room, someone in the back does raise their hand.

"Yes, Mister Abbott…"

Oh well. Hogsmeade could wait a few minutes more.

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