AN: This one-shot was inspired by a ring created by Regard Jewelry, Austin, TX. The ring is truly gorgeous and magical. It's the image for this story. If you want, go to Regard's site and while you're there, check out their other pieces. They are all a work of art.

The Ring

" ring to find them….bind them….." - J.R.R. Tolkien


Narcissa watched as the young witch writhed under the onslaught of the Cruciatus curse. The band around the older witch's right forefinger throbbed in tempo to the girl's screams. She looked down at her finger. The ring adorning it was no ordinary heirloom. It was the Oracle's gift. She'd discovered the purple amethyst had been forged by the heat of the stars of the Draco constellation. A circle of green African garnets, mysterious with their primal energy, kept guard of the celestial stone. Together, the magical gems would recognize their true owner. She who would call forth the one bearing the constellation's name.

It was a ring fit for royalty.

This girl? Narcissa thought to herself. She had never before imagined a muggleborn being the one.

Can a muggleborn wield the ring's power?

That was what Narcissa didn't know.

To think it would belong to one such as she. Narcissa shook her head. The irony was not lost on her. This young witch before her, this…..mudbloo…..

No. Narcissa stopped the slur from forming in her mind. No longer. If this girl was the missing piece of the prophecy, she deserved her respect. She would be the answer to her prayers.

Narcissa recalled the day of Draco's naming. She'd had recurring dreams during her pregnancy. Her son should be called Draco, the Dragon. That day, as she and Lucius received their visitors, an old crone hobbled up to her. Looking at the baby boy lying in his bassinet, the wizened witch croaked, "He is strong, this one. Feisty. Full of Fire. A fitting dragon."

Narcissa gasped and asked the woman why she'd said that. The old hag looked at her pointedly, her rheumy eyes sizing her up.

"Why ask what you know? Your family has long treated with the stars. They are the source of your magic…...and it is their power that resides in this."

With a palsy hand she offered the ring Narcissa now wore.

"I have done my duty. I watched and waited for the one who would give birth to the dragon. Now it is your turn to watch. This ring will call to your son's counterpart at the time of his releasing. It is she who will free him to fulfill his destiny. You must wait for her. Keep her safe…...or all is lost."

Hermione's renewed screams pulled Narcissa out of her memory.

Save her! the ring all but shouted to her flesh.

The amethyst in the center of the ring began to glow. It began to burn Narcissa's skin. She knew that fire lay within it; the power that had slept in her care, waiting for its true mistress had finally awakened.

It was time.

Narcissa threw all of her magic into creating shields so she could apparate with the Granger girl and Draco. Her heart grieved at not being able to save her husband, but with war came sacrifices. It wasn't like she hadn't guessed his outcome. She concentrated on the old dilapidated castle that was warded from prying eyes. It was their intended destination. Once there, Narcissa knew she would have to act quickly.

The first thing she did was slip the ring off her finger and onto Hermione's. The blood flowing over the girl's hand made the transfer easy.

"Mother! What are you doing?" Narcissa looked up at the sound of her son's yelling. "Do you think this is going to help her? They're going to follow us here… know it. We're going to all be killed!"

Narcissa shushed her panicking son. "Save your energy. You'll need it later."

Draco had no idea what his mother meant. He watched in helpless fury as she tapped the ring that was now on Hermione's hand with the tip of her wand.

"Awake. Claim what is yours," she breathed.

"Who are you talking to?" Draco was confused; she wasn't talking to a ring, was she?

He didn't have to wait long to find out. As soon as the spell left his mother's mouth, Hermione's eyes opened. The normal brown of her irises was now a fiery amber. Draco continued to watch amazed as the grisly wounds on Hermione's arm began to heal and knit back together. Instead of the mudblood slur that had been hacked into her flesh, a tattoo was taking form. It was of a dragon, its tail curling around her elbow.

"There's no time to lose," his mother said to her. "You and Draco must go back. You must fight. You must save Mr. Potter, so he can save us." She gave Hermione a pointed stare. "Dragon's fire can kill what should have never been made. You knew it would come to this. The ring would have told you."

Hermione stared at Narcissa, her eyes growing large. "How do you… know? All those dreams I had….they were real….?"

Narcissa nodded. "Yes. You are the ring's true owner. It would have called to you."

Hermione looked down at her bejeweled hand. Then she looked up at Draco. He began to fidget under her scrutiny.

"Will he resist?" she spoke to Narcissa. "Your son and I have never been friends."

"The beast in him would have recognized you from the beginning. Of course, it would test you."

"Will he now?" Hermione watched as Draco looked at her warily. Thankfully, he'd not heard all of their conversation.

Narcissa tutted. "Possibly. Draco was always a willful child. But he will eventually acquiesce. It is time, dear. Everything depends on it. You must release him."

Draco had only a moment to ponder his mother's words when the strangest sounds he'd ever heard began to be uttered by Hermione. They reminded him of the screeching of an angry Thestral protecting its young. But deeper. And infinitely more powerful.

He didn't know she was speaking the dragon language of his constellation.

As soon as Hermione gave voice to the chant from her dreams since childhood, the ring responded. A beam of pure starshine came from the amethyst and hit Draco squarely in the chest.

He felt an intense itching in his torso, but when he attempted to scratch it, he saw that armored scales were rapidly taking the place of skin. His arms felt like they had shortened; or was it that the rest of him had grown larger? The latter must have been so, for now his mother and Hermione appeared quite small. In the pit of his stomach, a fire rolled. Draco's mind hummed to a wild frequency. Unheard of things began to fill it….flaming flesh, the bite and snap of human bones. Crunchy, salty things. His elongated eyes narrowed in hunger. He looked down at the younger human in front of him. She looked tasty. He let out a laugh that thundered throughout the old castle.

"You must command him, Miss Granger!" Narcissa shouted.

Hermione didn't know what was a worse fate; to have stayed at Malfoy Manor be tortured by Draco's aunt, or to be there in the ruins of a castle, about to be roasted and eaten by Draco himself. For he had changed; in front of her was now a very dangerous dragon.

"Now, Miss Granger!"

It looked like she didn't have a choice.

"Draco! Stop this!" she yelled, pointing her finger at him the same way she had when she'd called him a foul, loathsome little cockroach.

He's not little now.

Draco, upon hearing Hermione's command, roared in challenge. Then something caught his attention. His dragon eyes spied the ring on her finger. He sucked in a breath, the smoke going back into his nostrils.

All dragons coveted riches. It was instinctive to hoard treasure.

That ring…'s mine! he thought. As is she.

Draco's reptile heart flip-flopped. He could see Hermione's aura now. Her magic was mighty. She was glorious in her power. A deep adoration filled him. Somehow he now knew.

He was hers.

He bowed low in reverence.

"Quick…..climb aboard him," Narcissa instructed the young woman.

Once she was on securely, Hermione looked down at the witch who had saved her. "Aren't you coming?"

"No. My part is done. I will wait here." Giving the dragon a gentle pat on his hindquarters, she said, "Go, Son. Carry your future. Fulfill your destiny."

Draco lifted off and began to fly them back to the manor to rescue Weasley and Potter.

Narcissa smiled as she watch them soar high into the sky. Hermione and Draco would later discover the ring had an additional purpose. Once their mission was done and Draco was back to human form, the ring would cause the fires of love to burn within the couple. It would be a wedding ring to bind twin souls.

Fire and Light. Power and Devotion.

But for now, it was enough that she had kept her vigil. Narcissa looked up through the missing parts of the ceiling to see the stars twinkle above her. Like her, they were rejoicing at the turning of the tide.

Together, the Lady and her Dragon would save him who would in turn, save them all.

All would be well.