Disclaimer – I solemnly swear that JKR owns everything Harry Potter. Whether or not I am up to no good with her characters is for you to decide.

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Harry Potter: Dragon Whisperer

Chapter 33 – You Are Invited To …

8:50pm

Saturday, 28 August 1995

London, England

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Asking Daphne out on a date had been a no-brainer as far as Harry was concerned. She was his girlfriend and going on dates was what dating people did. That didn't mean that he didn't find the whole thing terrifying – he had no idea what was supposed to happen on a date and his only experience prior to that night had been the Yule Ball, a night that had started out great but had ended in disaster.

Harry had briefly considered asking Sirius for advice, a thought that he had discarded so fast that the thought had barely entered his mind before exiting through the closest ear. Charlie had been a much better option, and one with advice that wouldn't end in him getting slapped at the end of the night, unlike anything that he was sure that Sirius would suggest.

He'd chosen muggle, more for safety's sake than anything else. He had some idea of how to handle muggle things, a vague idea of where to go, whereas if they'd stayed in the magical world, all the people staring at them would have made it unbearable.

They'd started with dinner, an Italian place where he'd ordered a pizza for them to share. As far as Harry was concerned, it was a delicacy that he'd only had once or twice in his life and something simple and new that he hoped Daphne would like. He'd been apprehensive when she took her first bite but the smile that had quickly blossomed had reassured him.

After dinner, he'd taken her to a movie. He still wasn't sure if choosing 'Babe', a movie about a talking pig on a farm, had been the best choice but, considering his life where he could talk to dragons (and seemingly other reptiles) it didn't seem all that ridiculous. Either way, Daphne had enjoyed it and that was all that really mattered to him.

After dinner and the movie, they'd slowly begun walking back towards The Leaky Cauldron, from which Daphne would Floo home. Not that Harry was ready for the night to be over. He wanted to prolong it; he simply had no idea of how to do that.

They were walking slowly, hand in hand, when he noticed Daphne's head cock and she started looking around. Harry quickly followed her lead, trying to determine what had caught her attention. There was nothing out of the ordinary on the street as far as he could tell.

"Daph?" he asked.

"Do you hear that?" she asked, her head now focused on something to their right.

He cocked his head, listening hard. Music. It was faint but there.

"What is that music?" she asked.

"Probably a bar or a night club or something," he replied.

"It's so different," she said and took a step in that direction, pulling Harry along.

"Well, it's muggle music," he replied.

The further that they walked following the sound, the louder it became. It was upbeat with a fast tempo that just cried out to be moved to. Gradually, lyrics were heard and Harry vaguely recognised it from before the magical world became his life.

"It doesn't sound anything like Celestina Warbeck or anything on the WWN," Daphne commented.

"The magical world has nothing like this?" he asked and then answered his own question as he thought back to the Yule Ball.

Most of the dancing that night had been to older, slower songs and while there had been some that was almost contemporary, even they felt a few decades out of date. At the time, Harry had just put it down to the fact that the professors were old and out of touch.

"Nothing," Daphne replied with a shake of her head. "Even the Wyrd Sisters don't play anything that sounds like that. Can we go in?"

It was just a pub, not a night club and there was no bouncer to stop them. Harry couldn't see the harm, especially as they wouldn't be trying to buy anything alcoholic.

"Sure," he beamed.

Eagerly, she bounced forward before pausing just outside the door and allowing him to take the lead into the strange, new world.

The blast of the music as they walked through the door was almost enough to sway Harry backwards and he was forced to tug on Daphne's hand to get her moving. Until his ears adjusted, it was hard to hear anything else except the lyrics, the beat hammering hard and fast, a tattoo that reverberated from his chest to the soles of his feet.

The pub looked fairly new, or at least, newly remodelled. A bar covered nearly the length of the back wall, shelves and shelves of bottles of all shapes and sizes and colours behind it. Around the other three walls were tables and chairs, most filled with people in small groups eating, drinking, talking and laughing. But what really caught Daphne's focus, at least from what Harry could tell by the way that she'd stopped dead and was staring, was the floor in the middle of the room.

It was packed with dozens of people, all dancing to the music and with each other. Their bodies were swaying, feet moving or stamping, arms either up in the air or around their partner's waists. Many looked to be packed in so close that they were moving more with the crowd than on their own, one giant mass gyrating to the beat and all of them with smiles on their faces, obviously loving every minute of it.

"Want to dance?" Harry asked loudly, leaning in towards Daphne's ear.

She looked at him uncertainly. "I don't know how to dance like that!"

"Nor do I!" Harry grinned back. "I think we're just supposed to move with the beat however we want."

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Nope," he replied. "But I am pretty sure that there's supposed to be dancing on a date. There's dancing, so, shall we?"

She looked at him and bit her lip in her uncertainty and Harry couldn't resist leaning in and kissing her. When he finally pulled back and looked into her eyes, it was to see her cerulean blue eyes sparkling at him. With a grin, he pulled her forward towards the dance floor.

At first, he tried to maintain a respectful distance, but the crowd seemed to be unaware. He was bumped and nudged by other dancing bodies until he was all but pressed up against Daphne. He looked into her eyes but she simply grinned back. His hands fell to her waist and he felt her hips moving in time with the beat. As one, their feet moved to the music, her hands alternating between his shoulders and high in the air.

One song finished and another started hard on its heels, the beat barely changing and they danced on. In the beginning, Harry felt awkward, unsure of how he was moving, before long, he didn't care, his entire focus being on the girl he was with. They danced song after song, sometimes a little apart, much of the time sandwiched together in the press of the crowd, something that Harry was not going to complain about.

Sometime much later, when they were hot, sweaty and thirsty, they danced their way off the floor, massive grins plastered on their faces. Harry led them over to the bar to get them soft drinks. Once drunk, though, and as much as they would have preferred to stay and keep dancing, they knew that they had to call it a night.

"We have to come here and do this again!" Daphne exclaimed as they stepped back out onto the path.

"Yes!" Harry agreed and used his arm that was around her to swing her to him.

His other hand reached up to cup her face and he leaned in to capture her lips with his own, sealing the promise of many more dates to come.

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9:05am

Sunday, 29 August 1995

Fudge Estate, Cornwall, England

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Cornelius read and reread the letter in his hands until the parchment crinkled with how tightly he was holding it.

What is Amelia thinking? he wondered. Clearly, she's lost her mind!

Of course, the scarier thought was that she was not only completely sane but also extremely confident. Not that a confident Amelia Bones was any less scary.

Once again, he read the official notice of intent.

The Wizengamot was summoned to a special court to hear allegations against Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore and sit in judgement upon what they hear.

Charging Dumbledore! Once again, Cornelius questioned Amelia's sanity. The man was a pillar of society and had been so since even before he defeated Grindelwald. And then there were his connections and power block within the Wizengamot itself. Oh, that power block had taken a hit in the last few weeks between both Potter and Black…

"Potter," Fudge mused.

He'd heard whisperings after young Harry had given his two seats in proxy to Cyrus Greengrass about things that Dumbledore had done or should have done regarding The-Boy-Who-Lived. That didn't include the fiasco that was the TriWizard Tournament. The fact that Harry was back in Britain couldn't be a coincidence.

"Who to back, though? Dumbledore or Potter?" he wondered, his mind spinning as he tried to work out the implications of each scenario.

An unnecessary glance at the letter in his hand confirmed that he had twenty-four hours to decide.

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9:13am

Sunday, 29 August 1995

The Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Scotland

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"Amelia, what a pleasant surprise," Albus exclaimed, hiding his confusion at her appearance at his school and on a Sunday, no less.

"Headmaster," she replied, her tone all business-like, not that she ever seemed to speak any other way.

"To what do I owe this pleasure," he asked, leaning back in his chair behind his great desk.

He watched her walk from his office door to stand between the two chairs that he kept for visitors and ignored his gesture for her to seat herself.

"Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, I am here to inform you that you are instructed to appear before the Wizengamot to answer charges," she stated formally, holding out a sealed scroll that she'd pulled from an inner pocket of her cloak.

He stared at her. Charges? The only word that came to mind was: preposterous! After all, he wasn't just the Headmaster of Hogwarts or the Supreme Mugwamp of the International Confederation of Wizards but – and this was most important – he was the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot! There was no way that…

Somehow, he realised that, not only had he taken the scroll from her, but his fingers had unrolled it. His eyes skipped to the bottom and he scowled before managing to hide his expression.

In any case where the full Wizengamot had to be called to sit in judgement on a case, it required two signatures, the Head of the DMLE and the Chief Warlock's. The only work around was for five Lords of the Wizengamot to sign in the place of the Chief Warlock.

Longbottom.

Black.

Greengrass.

Potter.

Peverell.

It seemed that the order was issued legally.

Reluctantly, his eyes travelled up the parchment, taking in the nature of the charges that he would have to defend himself against. Harry Potter and the TriWizard Tournament. Once again, a scowl flittered across his face before he could school it away.

He'd known that there had been a risk – however small – in telling the boy so much before the previous school year had been over but it had been necessary. The boy should have listened to him, fallen under his sway and done as he had been bidden, namely, give up this foolish idea of going off on an 'adventure' with dragons and instead enrol in Hogwarts and be guided by Dumbledore himself.

It seemed that Potter had gone and told everything to Bones.

Who was currently standing on the other side of his desk waiting for an answer.

"This does seem a foolish waste of the Wizengamot's time," he said lightly, letting the scroll roll closed with a snap.

"Foolish or not, Albus, you are expected in Courtroom Ten at precisely nine o'clock in the morning," she told him. "Failure to appear will constitute more charges being laid, with the potential of a stay in Azkaban."

"Amelia," he said, ramping up his 'disappointed grandfather' routine, adding in looking at her over the top of his glasses for good measure. "There is no need to resort to such theatrics. You can rest assured that I will be there."

"Very good," she replied.

Then, after giving him a single nod, she spun about and strode from the room.

The instant that the door closed, Albus' fist closed around the scroll and he growled.

"How dare she! How dare they!" he whispered, the very air rapidly cooling, frost forming on his windows in his rage.

Snatching up his wand, he lashed out with his most powerful bombarda, obliterating one of his side tables and every object on it. Then, with the greatest amount of effort imaginable, he pulled himself together and unfolded what remained of the scroll. He had work to do to get himself out of this. And to come up with a suitable way to …. punish the ones involved in this foolishness.

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9:26am

Sunday, 29 August 1995

12 Grimmauld Place, London, England

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"Well, that's that," Sirius said grimly, handing the letter across to Remus.

"Amelia moves quickly," Remus replied, noting the date.

"Oh, when Amy Bones is in the mood for something, nothing is going to stop her getting exactly what she wants!" Sirius grinned.

"I do not need to hear about your time dating Amelia Bones when you were a teenager," Remus said. "I was there, remember?"

"Not for the best bits," Sirius countered.

"With how often you regaled us with the details, not only then but especially of late, it almost feels like I was," Remus sighed. Seeing Sirius' mouth start to open, he rushed on, "and if you're still hung up on her, then ask her out and see what happens!"

"She might hex me!" Sirius protested.

"Or worse, date you!" Remus argued. "Either way, one more word about it, and I'll hex you, Padfoot."

Noting the way Sirius' jaw snapped shut, Remus gave a satisfied nod.

"Will Harry be ready?" he asked, changing the subject and brandishing the letter.

Sirius sighed. "He's not going to like it, despite knowing that it was coming."

"No. He's not," Remus agreed. "Let's let him have his day with his friends; we can tell him tonight once he gets home."

"Hey, Mooney?" Sirius asked, and only continued once Remus was looking at him. "You don't think Harry would want to take a dragon with him, do you? In case Dumbledore wants to put up a fuss?"

"Don't you dare suggest it!" Remus exclaimed, imagining the hysterics that a dragon appearing in the middle of the courtroom would cause, even more so, if it decided that Dumbledore should face proper dragon justice. "Harry does not need that temptation in his mind!"

"It was just a thought," Sirius said lightly, before breaking out into a barking laugh, one that Remus couldn't help but join in with.

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1:50pm

Sunday, 29 August 1995

Papa Stour, Shetland Islands, Scotland

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"This is amazing, Harry," Hermione commented, her eyes huge and round.

"Bloody terrifying if you ask me," Neville muttered.

Harry grinned at his mate. While he could tell that Neville was, indeed, scared, there was also a hint of something else, as though, he wasn't quite as afraid as he thought that he should be.

"The dragons won't hurt you," Harry reminded them, not for the first time.

§It is pleasing to see your mate by your side, Speaker§, Ramaranth commented, sending Harry's face bright red.

"Harry, what did Ramaranth say?" Daphne asked.

"Ah, she just said that it was good to see you again," Harry replied quickly.

"She remembers Daphne?" Susan asked.

"Of course," Harry replied. "Why wouldn't she?"

"That's not what she really said, was it?" Daphne insisted, her eyes narrowed.

"It was the sentiment," Harry replied. "Some words don't translate well."

"Which words?" Daphne asked and there was a dangerous lilt to her voice.

Harry had no idea how to answer. He was still getting used to the idea that Daphne was his girlfriend; the fact that the dragons had interpreted Daphne in a very different way wasn't something that he had any control over. In desperation, he looked to Neville for help.

"There's no use looking at me, mate," Neville laughed. "You know that I don't understand a word that the dragons say to you."

"Well?" Daphne asked.

Harry knew that he had no choice. Daphne was simply too cany at picking up on things and stubborn enough to hardly ever let anything go. He sighed with the inevitable.

"There is no word for 'girlfriend' in the dragon language," he admitted.

She stared at him and he could see her mind working, trying to work out what word the dragons did use.

"What word, Harry?" she asked.

He looked away before answering. "Mate."

Her silence had him glancing back. He expected her to be angry, furious even. Who would want to be known as someone's 'mate' – in the life-partner, one and only, sort of way – when they'd only been dating someone for a matter of weeks? Instead, a grin was slowly forming on her lips. Her eyes were shining. And then, all at once, she burst out laughing.

"Daph?" he asked, completely confused.

"Oh, Harry, you dolt," she managed through her laughter. "Did you think that I was going to be angry?"

"Um, yes?" he replied.

"Culture clash, Harry, remember?" she said. "How many conversations have we had about our own culture clashes? Remember that fiasco with the Yule Ball? Neither of us understood the other's culture which is why we fought for so long. It's the same thing here, isn't it?"

"Yes?" he replied.

She stepped up to him, grabbed his shoulders and pulled him in for a kiss.

"Silly boy," she said, after the kiss, their foreheads touching. "You gave me the answer. The dragons have no word for girlfriend. 'Mate' is the closest analogy so that's what they use."

"Yeah, thanks, Daph," he smiled, his eyes fixed on hers.

The thrumming that Ramaranth, Grouleth, Myrddys and a number of the other dragons were making travelled up into his chest, giving him a warm feeling. As wonderful as it was to learn that Daphne understood the language confusion, there was no way that he was going to tell her that the dragons were happy, approving of his match with her.

"Is that why you were able to ride Ramaranth?" Hermione asked Daphne when they pulled apart. "She sees you as Harry's 'mate', so you get some of his privileges as well?"

"Harry?" she asked, throwing the question to him.

"Maybe?" he replied, not completely sure of the answer himself.

"Damn, Harry, I missed my chance, didn't I?" Susan said, shaking her head. "If I'd made a play for you, maybe it'd be me getting to ride on the back of a dragon!"

Making a snap decision, Harry turned to Ramaranth.

§May I ask a favour, my friend§?

§You are our Speaker§, she replied.

He bowed in acknowledgement of her meaning, not that he'd ever do anything to take advantage of her or any of the dragons.

§My friends were talking about how I have been favoured and honoured among all two-legs by getting to ride upon your back while you flew§, he said.

§I enjoy having you fly with me, Speaker, both on your tiny stick and most especially upon my back§, Ramaranth replied.

§My … my mate, Daphne, also very much enjoyed the time that you carried her as well§,he said.

§She is your mate§, Ramaranth replied simply, answering that question.

§I was wondering if I could request the favour of my friends getting to experience flying with you today§? he asked.

Ramaranth turned her long neck and lowered her head to regard Hermione, Susan and Neville. Her great eye was swirling blues and greens as she examined them.

§They are of your weyr, Speaker§? she asked. §Like the dog-two-leg and wolf-two-leg§?

§Yes, they are§, he replied with a grin.

He'd have to remember those names for later, when they'd cause the most fun. But the other part of Ramaranth's question, that his friends were part of his family, there was no denying. There were very few that he let into his life and they were some of the very few.

§I would be honoured to carry one of your weyr upon my back§,Grouleth stated.

§As would I§,Farlys added.

§I request the honour as well§,Bremlys said.

§If you would permit me, Speaker, I would like the honour as well§,Norberta said.

Harry grinned at the dragons and gave them the deepest bow that he could.

"Harry?" Daphne asked when he straightened.

"How would you all like to go for a ride on the back of a dragon?" he asked excitedly.

"You mean it?" Hermione practically squealed.

"That would be brilliant, Harry! Thank you!" Susan added, bouncing on the spot.

"You're sure that it'll be safe, Harry?" Neville asked. "Only I'm not too good with heights."

Harry eyed his nervous friend and the four dragons.

"Grouleth would probably be the one for you, then," Harry told him. "He's an older dragon and extremely sensible."

Neville visibly gulped, staring between the Ironbelly and Harry.

"If you say so," he managed.

"I wish my parents could be here to see this," Hermione mused. "And with their camera!"

"I don't see why they couldn't be," Harry said. "In fact, I don't see why your Grandmother, Neville and Madam Bones and Daphne's family also couldn't be here."

Gathering his magic, he concentrated on his happiest thought and pushed his magic out through his outstretched hand. Instantly, a gust of white mist shot forth before coalescing into a ghostly dragon. It flew around them, its great wings flapping before its wings raised as it came into land.

"Go to Sirius and Charlie, tell them to get Madam Bones, Madam Longbottom, the Greengrasses and Hermione's parents and bring them to Papa Stour. And not to forget to bring their cameras," he told it.

Instantly, the ethereal dragon leaped into the air before flying off a hundred times faster than any real dragon ever could.

"Was that a patronus?" Susan asked, wide-eyed.

"Yeah, pretty cool, isn't it?" Harry grinned. "Remus taught me how to cast one."

"The sad part is, he still doesn't understand what he just did," Daphne told Susan with a shake of her head.

"What'd I do?" Harry asked.

"Wandless," Neville said, his voice little more than a whisper. "He cast it wandless!"

"Sorry, I keep forgetting to use my wand," Harry shrugged.

"Infuriating, isn't he?" Daphne said to the others before kissing him on the cheek. "Never change, Harry. Never change."