You might think it’s curious that we’ve chosen to include this duel in this list. Lockhart, despite starting the Duelling Club, was disarmed by Snape almost immediately. But this duel marked the very first time Harry witnessed the Disarming Charm, Expelliarmus. Snape was desperate to loathe Harry, despite his promises to Dumbledore about Lily’s son. Isn’t it interesting that it was the Potions professor that first showed Harry the spell that saved his life countless times?
We absolutely loved this duel between Tina and Newt Scamander’s brother, Theseus, at the French Ministry of Magic. In answer to a curse, Tina cast a spell that slammed Theseus into a chair, bound his hands and then made him fly backwards – still sitting on the chair – into a wall. Goldstein had serious moves. Newt summed it up: ‘I think that might have been the best moment of my life.’
As though the first Harry versus Voldemort duel – Avada Kedavra versus Expelliarmus – wasn’t dramatic enough, the duellers’ wands shared the same core – a feather from the tail of Fawkes the Phoenix – and a rare phenomenon, Priori Incantatem, occurred. Also known as the reverse spell effect, Harry forced Voldemort’s wand to regurgitate spells it had performed, and ghosts emerged from the Dark Lord’s wand tip. Harry’s parents, amongst others, helped give him enough time to escape.
This duel happened after Percy finally – FINALLY – saw sense and joined his family in fighting against Lord Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts. Whatever the jinx Percy used against Thicknesse, it looked pretty uncomfortable. But this duel is mainly in this list because Percy Weasley finally made a joke:
‘Hello, Minister!’ bellowed Percy, sending a neat jinx straight at Thicknesse, who dropped his wand and clawed at the front of his robes, apparently in awful discomfort. ‘Did I mention I’m resigning?’
Perfect Percy came good in the end.
A Harry versus Draco showdown isn’t exactly a rare occurrence in the wizarding world. In fact, Draco and Harry agreed to duel in his very first year at Hogwarts – although Draco never turned up. We’ve chosen this duel in Cursed Child though, because it was about more than Slytherin versus Gryffindor or DA versus Inquisitorial Squad: it was dad versus dad. They’d also improved a lot since their encounter at the Duelling Club in their second year. This duel was a masterclass in wand work, with at least ten different spells cast.
Enchanted statues. Silver shields. A Phoenix swallowing a killing curse. A rope turning into a snake. Wisps of dark smoke. Water rising. You wouldn’t want to be caught in the middle of a duel like this one. This was a significant duel in the wizarding world, not just because of the awe-inspiring magic performed, but because it was the only time Dumbledore fought Voldemort head on. It also finally persuaded Cornelius Fudge that You-Know-Who had returned.
Secretly, we reckon most people hoped McGonagall and Snape’s underlying dislike for each other – remember their Quidditch rivalry? – would come to a head. And what better way than this wizard duel? And this one was pretty special. One of the most impressive moves from McGonagall was transforming a black serpent into smoke, and then solidifying it into ‘a swarm of pursuing daggers’.
McGonagall was cooler than Hogwarts in the snow about her duelling prowess though: when asked where Snape had gone by a Slytherin student she simply announced that he’d ‘done a bunk’. A round of applause for magnificent Minerva.
When Molly duelled Bellatrix after she attacked Ginny, it became clear very quickly why she belonged in the Order of the Phoenix, and also that she’d been hiding her duelling light under a bushel across the previous six books. We loved the way Bellatrix’s face changed as she realised that she’d met her match in Molly. And of course, there was that unforgettable line: ‘NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU...' – you know the rest.
In a mirroring of the spells they used in their first duel against each other, Voldemort shrieked Avada Kedavra and Harry relied on his trusty Expelliarmus in their final showdown:
Harry saw Voldemort’s green jet meet his own spell, saw the Elder Wand fly high, dark against the sunrise, spinning across the enchanted ceiling like the head of Nagini, spinning through the air towards the master it would not kill, who had come to take full possession of it at last.
Who was the true master of the Elder Wand? If you don’t know... then you’ll find the answer in the chapter ‘The Flaw in the Plan’ from Deathly Hallows.