Ron Weasley And The Dragons
I've betrayed my father and mother, Harry thinks. I've betrayed my heritage. I've betrayed everything they died to protect. And I can't I can't possibly justify that by saying it's for a good cause. Can I?
But he can't take it back. The papers are signed, and he has only Lucius' word that they'll be used for good and the word of a Malfoy has never been a creditable currency. Harry doesn't even know what convinced him to do it, now. Lucius just has a way of talking people into doing things, things that they wouldn't otherwise have any intention of doing
I wonder if this is how Serverus and Remus felt, Harry wonders. And why was Lucius so certain that Voldemort would come? And why the real question is, of course, why Lucius is being so horribly nice to him. Civil, really; he's been talking to Harry as if Harry were Narcissa, on equal terms. It's almost enough to convince Harry that deep down, Lucius might actually be a decent person.
And Lucius gave him his blessing, just before Harry left. He'd actually stooped to touch Harry when before he'd taken great pains to avoid even bumping into the man in the corridor. But then, in the study, Lucius had placed his hand on Harry's shoulder, and squeezed him, gently, in a fatherly gesture. And said "Good luck, Potter."
Harry's mind is spinning. He doesn't know whether to laugh at it all, or just beat his head against a wall. Tucking the photo-album Lucius gave him under his arm, Harry walks on down the hospital corridors towards the clerk's desk. The young wizard nurse looks up, surprised, as Harry knocks his fist against the counter.
"Can I help you?"
"I was wondering if I could see Hermione Granger," says Harry. "I'm a friend."
"The dominatrix?" The nurse grins. "I understand, sir."
"It's not like that " Harry begins.
"I'm sure it's not. She's made a remarkable recovery, though despite the after effects. She's in the third room down the hall. Now crawl off to see her, slave!"
"Excuse me?" Harry blinks.
"I meant, have a nice day," the nurse ammends, in the same cheery voice.
"Er," says Harry. He decides to leave now, before the nurse can make any more smirking jokes, and pads up to the room. From the other doors he can hear the sound of loud coughing, and vomiting. Harry winces, his gorge rising. He has no objections to being in the company of sick people, but sometimes he wishes they wouldn't be so loud about it.
He knocks on the door to Hermione's room.
"Come in." It's Hermione's voice. She sounds remarkably recovered after her ordeal.
Harry pushes open the door, and then stops short, his eyes wide.
"What the hell happened to you?" he gasps out.
"Yes, I know," Hermione mutters, from her bed. "It's not easy being green."
"Do you think it will work?" Narcissa asks. "I think it's a stab in the dark, to be honest. In fact, it only shows that Harry is more willing to be coerced to the dark, rather than suggesting that you might be aligned to goodness."
"He will come," Lucius snaps. "I won't let him hide any longer. I know he's out there. I'm not scared of the repercussions, either."
Narcissa stares at her husband, from the inner protection of the circle he's painted on the study floor. He's on his knees at present, beside Kaylena's unconscious body, scrawling a final sigil in his own blood onto the stone. His wrist is bleeding profusely so much so that he has to clutch it to his chest to prevent it from dripping onto the floor. His skin is so pale that Narcissa imagines she can see every vein below the surface, every rising capillary blushing to prominence, every bone in Lucius' face.
"I see. And that's why you're standing in a charmed circle writing defense spells in your own blood, and why you just happened to slaughter eight goats and seven chickens whilst invoking the protection of every god you could remember the name of."
"I think I forgot some," Lucius admits. "What was the name of the headless woman who rides about on a fish with legs?" His writing completed, Lucius aims his wand at the gaping wound in his wrist, and heals it with a word.
"I'm not sure," Narcissa says. "Mellariane? Something beginning with M, at any rate. Though I don't think she'd be any good at withstanding Voldemort. The best she could do would be to hit him over the head with a trout."
Lucius wrests three chairs into the centre of the circle, and heaves Kaylena's body into one of them. Narcissa sighs.
"When do you think he'll come?" she asks.
"Any day now," Lucius replies. "And it does pay to be prepared for every eventuality." He wipes a faint sweat from his forehead, and turns to look at her.
"If I didn't know you any better, I'd think you were a neurotic fool," says Narcissa, simply.
"I'm rich," says Lucius. "That makes me merely eccentric. And you know exactly how serious this is. I received a letter this morning from him. He expects me there, and you."
Narcissa sighs again. "We could always just join," she says, shrugging. "I always liked the trimming on the Death Eater robes. A little over-done, but definately impressive when viewed from a distance."
"I will not become a bloody Death Eater just because you happen to like dressing up," Lucius growls. "I can just imagine it. Why did you join the Death Eaters? Because my wife looks good in black."
"It is slimming," Narcissa says, mildly. "Can I get out of the circle now?"
"No. Yes. Maybe."
"Darling, you're over-reacting "
"This is the fucking Dark Lord we're talking about!" Lucius yells. "This is not a bloody joke, and above all, this is not a fashion convention. This is fucking serious!"
He stands there shaking for a moment, then claps both hands over his mouth. He looks shocked at himself, at the fact he's raised his voice above his customary shallow drawl. Narcissa is reminded of those days when she first knew Lucius Malfoy, a thin, pretty boy prone to fits of hysteria and temper tantrums. In a way, this outburst endears her to him. In another way, it repulses her.
He's regressing, she thinks. All this stress. Didn't my own mother say that all Malfoys were basically insane? In a few days, he'll probably be setting up house with one of our horses.
"Lucius. It's Voldemort," she says. "You two used to get drunk and argue over Quidditch games together. Don't you remember?"
"It's different." Lucius frets at the edging of his robe. "I almost lost it with Harry before. Nearly started babbling to him. I'm not crazy. I'm not. But we can't join the Death Eaters. This is an all or nothing venture, Narcissa. Voldemort wasn't ever one to spare his troops, any more than he'd spare his enemies."
"Darling you're not yourself " Narcissa begins, soothingly.
"No," Lucius interupts her, angrily. "I am being myself. And the only person I can be myself infront of is you."
Narcissa shakes her head, sadly. "I don't like what I see."
"I'm not asking you to like it. I'm not asking you to understand anything." Lucius' nails start to shred the material of his robe, but he doesn't appear to notice. "This is the End Game, Narcissa. Voldemort wrote it in his letter."
"End Game?" Narcissa pauses, and looks up. Her voice is softer, her grey eyes wide. Lucius makes an expansive gesture with his hands, and half-twirls in the middle of the circle.
"Of course. All or nothing, Narcissa. The way it always has been."
Ron and Draco are flying across the desert. The dragons haven't offered any explaination beyond their intention to head somewhere and fast. Draco's fingers curl around Ron's waist and slightly over Ron's thighs. Ron is horribly aware of Draco's proximity; he can barely concentrate on holding on. There's a very palpable tension building between the two of them, a terrible friction that rubs Ron in all the wrong ( or right? ) places.
Up ahead, Ron can see the summit of a mountain, a sudden monolith silhouetted against the gloomy horizon. The sight of it gives the Bluetail an added burst of speed, and Ron feels his features spread across his face, Draco's thin fingers burrow deeper into his abdomen.
They land a few minutes later, and Draco mercifully releases his grasp. Ron rubs his aching sides, but doesn't chastise Draco. The blonde looks a little shell-shocked after their rapid ride, his features paler than normal. He stumbles against Ron's side, and slips an arm about him for balance. Ron blushes.
Like I said. The cutest couple, aren't they? says the Bluetail.
I'm not sure about the yellow-haired one, says another dragon, a Glowing Fangtooth. He looks a bit weedy. I prefer my mortals buff.
The red-haired one is a little spotty, though, says a Glasswinged Howler. Do you think he has some disease?
Ron stops preening.
"We flew in so fast I think my balls are still stuck to my buttocks," Draco mumbles against Ron's chest. "And that's in the bad- way, too."
"And there's a good way?" Ron asks, regretting it instantly.
Draco simply winks.
They're in a cavern of some sort, Ron ascertains, staring about for the first time to get his bearings. Just below the mouth of the volcano, there's a large hole in the sheer rock face, carved out by the dragons, no doubt, if the irregular corrugations of the walls are anything to go by. It's big enough for the four dragons who've flown in with them to settle, with ample room to move about, and toward the end of the volcano there's a tunnel which leads on to darkness.
His stomach grumbles, and Ron blushes. "'Scuse me."
Silly us. We forgot you haven't eaten in a while. Hey, John. What's on the menu tonight?
Don't know, Sally. Guess we have some left over flayed donkey carcass. We could heat it up a bit for them, if you like.
Ralph left it in the kitchen. I'll go get it. The Howler prowls off.
"John? Sally? Ralph? Cindy?" Ron blinks.
Well, yes, the Bluetail frowns. What did you think our names were? We aren't about to call ourselves those idiotic human names you like to give us. Ultimate Destroyer, and Fire Titan, and so on. It would be rather embarrassing. Can you imagine asking Midnight Doomsayer, Slayer of Thousands to pass the dead horse meat?
"Well, no "
I'm Sally. And this is Ralph and John Cindy's the Howler.
"I kind of figured," says Ron.
"Hi Sally, Ralph, John," says Draco, chirpily, with a limp-wristed wave. "Nice to meet you."
We're what you'd call the dragon counsel not that there's many of us left. We're the oldest dragons alive today; and the only ones who still remember what happened at Dragon Rock all those years ago. And I wouldn't get too friendly with Cindy when she comes back, Draco. She has a tendancy to get violent about some issues, and you two have differing views on a subject she keeps very close to heart.
She thinks Angel is hotter than Spike.
"No way!" Draco gasps.
I'm afraid so.
Ron looks from the dragon, to Draco, and back to the dragon again.
"Excuse me," says Ron. "I think I'm going to go bang my head of something for a few hours. Don't mind me."
"Don't be silly, Ron," Draco snaps, squeezing Ron a little too firmly for comfort. "Try and relax."
"I will not," says Ron, annoyed suddenly with the turn of events. "I came here to avert an apocalypse, not to make small talk about some bloody Muggle program. When do we destroy the medallion? I still have that date to go on."
Have some food first. We're still discussing that problem. Ah, here's Cindy..
The Howler has returned, dragging the corpse of something after her. To Ron, who hasn't eaten in two days, it smells sublime. Before he can stop himself, he's run over and begun to plunge his hands into the steaming meat, ripping away hunks and gorging himself on them. It tastes good, too a little chewy, but definately tasty. Dragon-fire adds a zesty flavour to the food.
"And there you have it," says Draco, lazily. "A prime example of Weasley table manners. And they wonder why we're at the top of the sociological food chain."
Ron grunts through a mouthful of dragon meat, but doesn't believe Draco's comment is sufficently nasty to warrant a pause in his feeding to make a suitably snappy rejoiner.
I reckon it'd be best to drop the medallion into the flaming pit, says John, the Fangtooth.
That's the fancy name we use to refer to this firey hole a few miles from here, Sally the Bluetail tells Draco, mentally sotto voce. We toss our trash in there. Very ecologically sound. Aloud, to the others, she says, I think the mountain of the skeletons would probably do a better job. Oh and Draco, that's just our way of refering to this big hill covered in dead bodies; it's maybe fifteen minutes flight north..
I think the void of darkness is a better bet, says Cindy the Howler.
"Don't tell me," says Draco, before Sally can explain. "Your fancy name for a big black hole, right?"
Yes. How'd you guess?
"I'm just lucky." Draco smirks. "So what you're saying is, really, that you have no idea what to do with the medallion. All you have is some old saying about frost and fire and one-man and six-man. I'm assuming, being an only child, that I'm one-man; or the best one-man you're going to get at short notice. So here we are, but until you check out your dragon handbooks, we aren't going to be dropping anything anywhere. Because, chances are, we're probably going to have to end up fishing it out again."
I don't think so.
Draco turns on his heel, as do the other dragons; even Ron looks up from his meal. It's the first time Ralph has spoken. He's the smallest dragon of the four, with pale white scales, and bright red eyes. He has an air of gloominess about him, and Draco's noticed that the others tend to keep their distance from him, making sure their tails don't come in contact with his body.
"Oh?" says Draco.
It's a long way away. But I know where we have to go.
How? Cindy splutters.
I just do. Don't ask questions.
Ralph's tail twitches, and the other dragons withdraw. Draco, who gauges respective power by the size of the beasts, blinks.
We'll go there tomorrow. For now let the mortals sleep.
Ralph's muzzle curves a little at the edges a smile? Draco wonders. Then he slopes off down the tunnel at the end of the cavern.
I guess that's what we'll do then, says Sally. She sounds slightly uncertain.
"Why? Just because he says so?" Draco asks.
Um. Yes. Well. He does seem to know what he's talking about.
"He reminds me of my father," Draco mutters, and glances to Ron for support. But Ron is still feeding himself, occasionally turning aside to spit out the odd piece of gristle. Draco sighs, faintly. After his long discussion with Sally, he's reconciled to the fact he'll have to give up the medallion. But he still has some doubts on whether or not the outcome will be for the good.
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