A/N: This chapter was actually a lot of fun to write. I hope you enjoy it. Much love to everyone taking the time to review. You're angels.
Let it Burn
Chapter 7: Blister
Charlie was too busy dealing with the crisis to further question her about what she'd meant, and Hermione couldn't be more grateful. They were in full crisis mode with the Horntail attacking the Ironbellies and Charlie grew fierce when he was focused on his dragons. He'd apparated the pair of them over to the Sanctum and explained to her that they needed to prepare the enclosures for the arrival of injured dragons. That mostly meant ensuring the cages were clean and that there was sufficient water in them.
He'd pointed out the ones they needed ready and she, Saskia and Charlie himself had set about fixing them up as quickly as possible.
"Alright," he said, hurrying into the supply room with Hermione and Saskia on his heels when the enclosures were done. He began handing Hermione things, mostly protective gear, some healing instruments, and some serious looking sedatives to help calm the dragons enough to move them.
Hermione gulped when he handed her a broomstick. She'd almost forgotten about the need to fly when dealing with dragons and she wondered how badly her already poor flying skills might be effected by the amount of painkillers in her system thanks to her recent burn from Azriel. Tucking it under her arm, she held her hands out for the other things he gave her, squeaking in surprise when he turned to her with a belt and actually looped it around her, buckling it around her hips when he noticed how full her hands were.
"When we're in the field, I want you to be mostly apparating, Hermione," he told her. "The rest of us will be flying and trying to keep the dragons from fighting. You're going to apparate to whoever calls you and you're going to hand out tranquilizers and whatever else they ask for, got it? Usually this job falls to Samson since he's a bit of a rubbish flyer, but he's out so it'll fall to you. I want you to stay back as much as possible, Hermione. You're new to this and no matter how well you did with Az when you caught the fire, this is dragons out in the wild, full of rage and the need to mate. You stay clear, you got me? You've got enough meds rushing through your system to slow you down and I don't want to see you clawed, bitten or burned because your reaction times aren't what they should be or because you don't know what you're doing. Watch, help where you can when people shout out for supplies, but keep back as much as possible."
"Okay," Hermione agreed, relieved she wouldn't have to be flying.
"Trying to move one dragon on its own from the wild to the Santcum is hard enough. Six pissed off females and one highly dangerous and rampaging male in musth deep enough to attempt breeding outside his species is our version of a nightmare. Leave it to the professionals until you know what you're doing, yeah?"
Hermione nodded her head, knowing better than to needlessly endanger herself when it would be more of a hindrance than a help. Charlie flashed her a grin, stuffing things into the compartments and loops attached to her belt to better transport them so she'd still have her hands free to assist the others with whatever they might need. When everything was ready he nodded to Saskia, took Hermione's hand and Disapparated them both out of the Sanctum and into the wilds of the Romanian mountains.
Mayhem laid out before them when they arrived and Hermione jumped back when she and Charlie were both nearly crushed as the fighting dragons stumbled in their direction. The other Tamers were already on the site, having divided up the dragons between them to better ensure they might manage to subdue and transport the dragons as best as possible. It looked like two of the females – both terribly wounded and both roaring and furious with the Tamers attempting to heal them and herd them away from the battle – were being uncooperative. From the way they moved, Hermione could tell they'd each been given a sedative, but they still looked to be putting up a decent fight against the Tamers, wanting to protect themselves from the Horntail, and maybe even wanting revenge for being overpowered and mated.
"Help Caroline," Charlie said, his eyes scanning the scene. Hermione nodded, scanning too and spying Caroline trying to subdue a third female. She was badly wounded and roaring her fury at the idea of anyone getting so close when she was vulnerable. Hermione Apparated over to her, handing the Dragon Tamer sweet talking the angry beast a tranquiliser.
She scanned the wounded dragon with her eyes before slipping Caroline a bottle of disinfectant powder too, knowing the witch would need it if they were going to prevent this dragon from getting scale rot. A shout for more tranquilizer drew her gaze and Hermione apparated over to Sid where he was trying to sedate the Horntail. Cinderella – the big Ironbelly female - was putting up a good fight and ripping the male to shreds with her talons and her fangs, but she was also limping badly and weakening as blood flowed from her own wounds while the male relentlessly tried to pounce on her, trying to pin her under him so he could mate with her. She handed Sid what he wanted, flicking her wand at Cinderella and using some magic to heal some of her smaller wounds. The open gashes and tears might require more attention, but the little puncture marks from teeth and scrapes from the rocks they fought amongst could be dealt with.
"Hermione!" Charlie shouted, waving his arm from the far side of the Horntail, needing something. He was aboard his broom, zipping about wildly, trying to distract the dragons enough to get a good angle for sedation and Hermione apparated closer, holding up more sedative when she saw he was out. He took it and Hermione was surprised that this time he wasn't laughing or sweet talking the dragons like he'd been doing all day with them.
That alone told her how serious the damage must be and how bad this situation really was. He was worried and the very idea worried Hermione, too. A worried Charlie Weasley meant that things had gone to hell in a handbasket and some serious figuring was in order to fix things as soon as possible. When Greg shouted for help, Hermione apparated to him, wincing when she saw that he'd been caught with the claws when he'd managed to jam the sedation dart into the webbing between the Horntail's back toes.
"Shit!" he hissed when Hermione jerked him off his broom and behind a rock formation, hoping it might protect them from the fire blasts as the beasts battled. She used magic to try and heal the nasty gash on his forearm, knitting it back together with a healing charm, mending the broken bone, and then smearing it with dittany to close the skin before he could get dirt in it. She wrapped in in a bandage, using her wand quickly.
"Thanks," he grunted. "You're doing good, Granger. Help Caroline, now."
Hermione looked in the direction of the witch he mentioned, spying her struggling with a now extremely sedated looking Ironbelly female whose fight had gone out of her but whose instinct to protect herself reared its head. Hermione winced when she watched Caroline catch the fire – though the stream was small and weak. It glazed off her dragonhide uniform, but Hermione heard the faint shriek of agony that the witch emitted before she gritted her teeth, trying to soldier on.
Apparating over to her, Hermione jammed another sedative dart into the Ironbelly, watching the last of her strength leave her before she hurried to help Caroline.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck!" Caroline was whimpering, pulling at one corner of her uniform, trying to get at the burn underneath. The flesh was blistered and bubbling, angry and red, and Hermione winced in sympathy at the sight of it, certain it was painful because she'd caught the fire herself just that afternoon and knew that it stung and ached and sizzled like nothing else.
"Let me help," Hermione said, pulling on Caroline's tunic to keep the rough material from touching the burn and digging a pot of burn salve out of her tool belt. Caroline whimpered when Hermione smoothed the slave over the blistered skin.
"Thanks, Hermione," she breathed when the relief began taking effect.
"Any time," Hermione smiled at the other woman, hoping that despite Caroline knowing Amy for longer, Caroline wouldn't take a disliking to her like Amy had. She opened her mouth, intent on saying something else, hoping to make a friend, but before she could, she heard Charlie shout and watched in horror as he was swatted out of the air by the now-sluggish, but still fighting Horntail
"Shit!" Caroline swore, watching him go down with a wince.
He leapt free of his broom – which Hermione noticed was on fire – and he rolled on impact as he hit the ground, barely managing to avoid landing under the swatted claw of the dragon as he stomped around in his fury, the sedative affecting his balance and coordination but not yet strong enough to keep him from trying to kill his rescuers.
Greg leaped back into the fray, stabbing another tranquilizer into the Horntail's thick hide and jumping clear when he breathed more fire, distracting the beast from Charlie long enough to keep him from being crushed. Hermione apparated to Charlie when he rolled to a stop, stretched out on his back and breathing hard. Her heart was racing inside her chest, fear thick in her blood and she scuttled to him frantically.
He didn't sit up and his eyes were closed as she reached him, though she could feel his heart hammering out and erratic beat inside his chest when she rested a hand on him.
"Charlie?" she asked. "Please be all right?"
He opened his eyes, looking dizzy and pained, but when he met her gaze his eyes were like glowing embers, fixed on her like she was the breath he needed to live. Hermione smiled at him when his lips twitched in greeting, apparently too pained for a smile, but pleased to see her just the same.
"Help me up, yeah?" he asked quietly when the Horntail turned, almost falling on them as he staggered.
Hermione gripped Charlie tightly and disapparated them both away far enough that they wouldn't be crushed.
"You ripped your wounds open again. You're not getting up until I've healed you," Hermione told him, pulling at his dragon hide tunic and noting the blood rapidly darkening his bandages.
"You'll rip yours too, if you're not careful," he warned.
"I'll be fine," Hermione assured him. "Hold still while I fix some of these."
She peeled him out of his tunic, too concerned by his wounds to pay any mind to his shirtlessness right then.
"Hermione?" Charlie asked quietly as she sliced open the bandages in her way and began pouring dittany all over him, watching the skin pull back together.
"What is it, Charlie?"
"Could you… uh… fix my legs," he said quietly.
"Your legs?" Hermione frowned in confusion before glancing at his legs and seeing the way both were bent at unnatural angles. "Oh, for Merlin's sake! Why didn't you say anything about those first?"
Charlie laughed, though it was a pained sound. Hermione flicked her wand, mending the bones and listening the sickening crunches as both of them reset. He groaned and closed his eyes at the sensation, but when he opened them he looked to be in slightly less pain.
"Just did," he smirked at her.
"If you weren't already hurt, I'd smack you for your cheekiness, Charles Weasley," Hermione informed him.
"I didn't know you were into spanking, love," he said, wincing when she waved her wand to search for more broken bones and found three more broken ribs.
"There are lots of things you don't know about me, Charlie," Hermione replied, her cheeks turning pink.
"Yet," he said. "Lots of things I don't know yet."
Hermione's stomach fluttered with a million butterflies at the heat in his gaze. She pressed her lips together, trying to hide her smile, but she failed even as she worked to heal the rest of him as best she could to stop the bleeding.
"Let's get you back on your feet," she said, taking his hand and putting away her wand as the remaining dragons were finally all sedated.
"Heal the others, if you can. We'll get these dragons boxed up and transport them easier if everyone is in decent enough health to levitate them all there," Charlie told her, taking her hand and letting her pull him to his feet before reaching for the tunic she'd stripped him out of.
"Try not to get hurt again, please," Hermione whispered, scanning the others with her eyes as she spoke. "It's much easier on me if you don't give me heart failure."
"You too, Hermione," Charlie grinned at her.
Hermione was smiling even as she apparated over to Saskia, who was leaning against the side of a sedated Ironbelly female and clutching her arm, tears streaming down her face.
"Let's take a look," Hermione said, smiling sympathetically at the witch.
"It's just a scratch," Saskia told her bravely.
Hermine blanched when Saskia held out the wounded appendage and revealed a dragon fang embedded in her forearm.
"And this was just love bite, right?" Hermione said sarcastically. "Listen, I'm going to yank it out and I want you to drink this."
She unstoppered a pain potion and gave it to the crying witch, before pulling the fang out of Saskia's arm to the sound of her scream.
"Fucking hell!" Greg said, skidding around the dragon at the sound. "Damn it, Kia! I thought you'd been crushed!"
Hermione glanced between the pair of them, suspecting they might fancy one another.
"Eat me, Greg," Saskia managed after gulping down the pain potion.
"What are you doing out of the Nursery? You know you're too much of a wuss to be out here with the big boys," Greg said and Hermione recognised the fire dancing between them.
Not lovers, yet. But prickly enough and silly enough to bicker in the lead up to the fall.
"Greg, if you're not going to do anything useful to help her, go box up Zelda," Charlie called, flicking his wand and conjuring several crates to move the dragons in.
Hermione smiled kindly at Saskia as she healed the wound on her arm as best she could.
"It might scar," Hermione told her. "Sorry about that. Do you want to keep the tooth?"
Saskia nodded. "I might stab Greg with it later and see who the real wuss is," she said.
Hermione laughed, helping the witch to her feet and handing her the tooth. She looked around at the others, spying blood on a few of them and hurrying over. Jason was dripping in it and Hermione winced.
"Where are you bleeding?" she asked him.
"It's nothing, Granger," he waved her off.
Hermione rolled her eyes, ignoring him and invading his space while he tried to help Charlie and the others levitate Cinderella into a crate.
"I said it's nothing, witch," he said impatiently and Hermione recognised the sign of a wounded, angry beast when she saw it. He was more hurt than he was letting on and trying to drive her away by being mean.
Flicking her wand with diagnostic charms, Hermione found that he'd caught the fire across his back and he had a slash on his chest. Peeling him out of his tunic when he was being uncooperative wasn't easy, but she managed it when he tried to back out of her grip.
He almost punched her for her trouble, but Hermione ducked the strike and flicked her wand to clean him up, knitting the wound on his chest closed. She spun him when he spluttered at her, looking immediately contrite for almost hitting her, and Hermione was quick with the burn salve on his back before bandaging him up.
"You're a pushy little thing," Jason complained. "I can see why Charlie's so keen on you."
Hermione raised her eyebrows, hope igniting in her chest.
"You like pushy?" she asked.
"Charlie does," Jason smirked. "Not me. I prefer my women pliant and fragile."
"Liar," Caroline laughed. "He likes them fiery."
"Who doesn't?" Greg scoffed.
"True," Caroline smirked.
"Are you lot going to gossip, or fucking help?" Charlie demanded from across the clearing where he was trying to heal a nasty gash on the Horntail's back leg.
"He's such an arsehole when he's in charge," Jason laughed, shaking his head.
Hermione rolled her eyes, deserting him to help Sid – who had a wicked gash through his right eyebrow.
"Just a little love tap, you gave me," Sid was muttering to the dragon, ignoring his blood. "Come on, Baby. Let's get you boxed up and back to the Sanctum so I can heal you. That's it."
He was guiding one of the wounded females into a crate and Hermione helped him get her inside before stopping him so she could heal him.
"You alright there, Granger?" he asked, smiling at her as she cleaned up his face and fixed his eyebrow.
"I'm just fine, Sid," Hermione smiled at him.
"Never seen a dragon brawl before, huh?"
"No. I kind of hope I don't see another. I hate that they've hurt one another so much. Poor things," Hermione said, smoothing some disinfectant over a gash on the female they'd crated once she was done healing Sid.
Sid smiled at her gently.
"You're going to fit in really well here, love," he told her quietly. "Don't let us drive you away, yeah? We need more people like you in the world."
Hermione smiled at the warm praise.
"Thanks, Sid," she said humbly.
"Anytime, darlin'. Go on, now. The others need your help more than me. Just a love tap, this was," he said, indicating to his eyebrow. Beneath the blood his eye was blackening but there was little she could do for that until they got back to Dragonsmeade.
Nodding, Hermione turned attention to healing the others and then to healing the dragons and helping to get them all in crates for transportation back to the Sanctum. The entire time as she worked she couldn't help the way her attention repeatedly strayed to Charlie, watching him move as she took charge of the situation, all while Jason's words of Charlie being keen on her played on a loop inside her head that made her dizzy with hope and giddiness.