Chapter 32: The Sun Dragons, Part II
Sakushima Hold Docks, Oct 4, 2069...
Captain Christopher Vincent had died in his sleep last night at 110 years old. Harry had thought about placing the Captain in stasis, but he knew he wouldn't appreciate being without his wife. At that thought, Harry had done some quick research and made a time jump to find out what he could about Christopher's wife. Unfortunately, he found that the local law required an immediate autopsy, so her body was in no shape to "resurrect".

Reluctantly, Harry returned to Pern and allowed their Navy's first Captain to pass on.

Eddie Took had said a Rite for the dead and the Captain's ashes were even now being scattered into the Pern Sea at the end of the pier as per his last wishes. Too late, Harry wondered if he should have taken the Captain back to Earth for him to die in the hope that he and his wife could be reunited after death. He would have to talk to Eddie about that.

Spath's Weyr, The Weyrleader's Apartment, July 31, 2070, 0800 hours...
Last night, his wives had told him he was not to go anywhere until after his birthday celebration. Since they didn't really need sleep anymore, they spent a pleasant night cuddling with each other, discussing inconsequential things, and, one at a time and alone, making quiet, passionate love … well, it had started out quiet anyway.

Now it was time to get up and "face the music". Harry's entire extended family was waiting for him in the Conference Room, which Hermione had scheduled for the entire day. It gave them more room than their apartment and was just public enough that anyone wanting to wish Harry a "Happy Birthday" could just pop in and out as they wanted.

Harry was ensconced in a huge padded chair, almost literally covered in his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They were, at the moment attentively listening to a story Harry was telling them by Beedle the Bard, Babbity Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump.

As his version of the story came to a close, Remus Lupin approached Harry's chair. "Harry, I have the Second Edition of 'The Weyrs of Earth' for you. There is quite a bit of new material in the second edition, not least of which is the mention of magic and how it was revealed to the world."

"Thank you, Remus. I can't think of anyone who would make a better Weyr Historian than you. I really appreciate all you have done for not only me but for my dragons."

"It was my pleasure, Harry. I can only wonder what the Third Edition will contain in thirty or so years.

Spath's Weyr, The Weyrleader's Quarters, Aug 4, 2074...
'Weyrleader?'

Harry turned his head as if to listen better, 'Yes?'

'This is Nadirth, Harper Ford and his wife have gone Between.'

Harry stopped what he was doing and paid attention to the dragon who had agreed to accompany Albert Ford and his wife when Albert retired. 'What happened?'

'They were asleep, all wrapped up in each other like humans do, then they weren't there.'

'Thank you for letting me know, Nadirth, would you call a Dragon Ambulance and let them know, please. They might get a bit upset if I'm not there.'

'Of course, Weyrleader. I thought you were on Earth. It is nice to know that now Daniel isn't the only one who can talk to dragons on both worlds at the same time.'

Spath's Weyr, Hatching Grounds, Feb 15, 2078...
'The February hatching was over,' thought Harry to himself. 'Not many people bother to come anymore except for the prospective riders, their families, and the Weyrling Masters.'

Harry smiled at his fourth son with Hermione, Harrison James Potter, who had impressed Romath. He then glanced over at another of the new Dragonriders, Brenda Paige Harper, who had impressed Brilinth. Who would have guessed back when he was going to Hogwarts that his old Potions Master's daughter would become one of his Dragonriders.

There were now 12,240 Dragonriders across two planets. The dragons had been limiting themselves to only ten eggs a hatching period for years now. They would probably eventually do what the unbonded dragons had done when they reached his 'suggested' maximum, stop laying eggs except to replace any who died. The number of unbonded dragons had remained steady at 8,000 dragons since February 2048.

'I wonder if I set the maximum for both types of dragon too low,' thought Harry. 'The bonded dragons will soon enough reach their maximum of 13,200.'

'Cheki, we need to start increasing the number of bonded dragons by the number of Sun Dragons. The only reason for the limit was because of worries about there being enough food to support them. Sun Dragons use the sun's energy for food, so that worry is removed.'

'I was wondering when you would think of that,' said his dragon, smugly. 'What we need to do is try to find a way to teach the unbonded dragons how to convert to Sun Dragons without a partner. Then no one would have to worry about food … though a large Tuna now and again is still nice.'

Harry smiled at his dragon. Even though he didn't need food any longer, he still thought about it. At least he had found an enticement to make the unbonded dragons realize they were still needed. There were many people who would never be Dragonriders for some reason but were still important enough to the Dragon Nation to merit a dragon escort. Almost all such escorts invariably turned into life-long friendships.

Since he had been teaching all dragons about family, many of the unbonded dragons had started making friends with nearby children. Many of those friendships also blossomed into life-long friendships. Friendships close enough that the dragons involved would call their friends by their names instead of some odd nickname. Harry was happy because his dragons were mostly happy and content with the way their lives had turned out.

Spath's Weyr, The Weyrleader's Quarters, July 31, 2080...
Harry and his wives had finally finished packing everything they considered personal last night. They made Harry promise they wouldn't move out until after his birthday, though. It was past time for Daniel to take his place as The Weyrleader of The Dragon Nation and nothing would say that better than him and his family moving into Harry's old quarters. He was 100 years old and it was time to let someone else run the Nation.

Harry, for his part, was going to pull a "Merlin" and try to disappear from the world that knew him. He wasn't going to be stupid about it, though. He had discussed it with May and Hermione and they had agreed it was time for the younger generation to have a chance to run things their way. He'd had to put his foot down with Hermione, though. Even with wizarding space enhancement charms and featherlight charms, taking every book she owned was a bit much. Besides, it would give away the fact that they hadn't just died somewhere, but had left in a planned manner.

So, Harry had developed a special "Book" just for Hermione. It looked like her favorite book on the outside, but when you opened it up, it didn't show chapters, it showed a card catalog. When you selected an entry in the catalog, it expanded into a listing of every book so far published that fit into that category. Once a book was finally selected, it opened to the cover page and the graphics made it seem like pages were actually turning when you "flipped" through them. The nicest thing about it was that you could search for specific information in the current book or across all the books in the reader. Brad had helped with the Operating System and searches took seconds across millions of titles and across multiple categories. It would automatically connect to any Library Network connection and upload all new titles any time they were within transmission range. All fees were charged to Harry's personal account.

Brad had even created a special bracelet for Hermione that would hold the book in a much-compressed form. She could use the bracelet to search for a specific title and it would be cued up, waiting for her to read the next time she opened the interface. Then she could either read the book on the tiny Bracelet screen or extract "The Book" and read it as if it were a normal book.

Harry had already paid for copies of everything contained in all of Earth's great libraries, both Magical and Mundane. If she ever came across a book she wanted, not in digital format, all she needed to do was read it through once … really, just flip through, and the camera associated with the bracelet would record the book for inclusion in "The Book". It would even be categorized automatically.

It had turned out so nicely, that Harry had one made for all three of them. He asked Brad not to even hint that such a thing was possible for at least ten years. That should give most people time to forget about him and his wives once they'd left.

'It's time to go to the party, Harry,' said Hermione.

'You both remember what we have to do?' asked Harry.

'Yes,' said the two women of his life.

He gathered them in, one on each arm and they walked out of their Quarters, down the spoke tunnel, and into the Conference Room. Harry looked around and knew they had something planned he wouldn't like, so he started gathering planetary magic to over-charge his core. He kept it under close control, so no one, not even his wives would know what he was doing.

As they walked in, the conversations around the room came to a halt, and a sense of expectation spread through the room. 'They definitely have something planned,' thought Harry. 'I wonder if May and Hermione know what is going to happen?'

As they reached the stage at the front of the room, Daniel escorted Harry onto the stage and seated him in a larger than normal chair. As Harry sat, he felt the sticking charm trigger and saw the glamour fall away. He was now seated on a golden throne suitable for any of the old barbarian kings of old.

Daniel smiled a self-satisfied smile and turned to the room. "Today, on his one-hundredth birthday, I give you … The Dragon King!" He then reached out and pulled a large crown from behind the throne and placed it on Harry's head. The room erupted in cheers and laughter at Harry being caught in such a grand prank. Every one of those present and almost all those watching remotely, felt he was already King in fact, if not in name, and felt the prank, was appropriate. They felt it should be fact after all he had done for them. He was their King, no matter what anyone else said.

Harry allowed the cheers and laughter to go on for quite a while before he started to gently disengage from the trap laid for him. He didn't so much brute-force his way out, as finesse it, so that the charm was still active, it just wasn't tuned to him anymore. A faint glow formed around him as he sat in the chair that no one but his wives noticed, but they didn't make any indication they saw anything out of the ordinary.

"Well," said Harry, jovially, "I guess if I am now a King, I have the same rights as all other Kings."

With that, he stood up. Daniel and quite a few others looked shocked, as they had discussed specifically how to set up the charm so it would hold Harry until the party was over, and there he was standing as if there were no sticking charm at all!

"I hereby abdicate my title and throne to my son, Daniel, as the rightful heir of The Dragon Nation."

Harry then grabbed Daniel before he could react and sat him on the throne where the sticking charm took hold instantly. Harry then reached up and almost casually removed the crown from his head, which was likewise not supposed to come off for at least 24 hours, and placed it on Daniel's head where its sticking charm again took effect along with a little extra energy from Harry. It would be days before Daniel was able to remove the crown and then only because the spell Harry had applied had timed out.

Suddenly every dragon on the planet lost mental contact with The Weyrleader and his dragon. In their shock, none of the dragons even noticed that they had also lost contact with Trath and Comaloth. The only thing that kept them from panicking was that every dragon present could see The Weyrleader standing there alive and well, right in front of them.

Harry looked around for a moment at all the shocked faces and almost panicked dragons and then said, "I have been your leader for too many years now. My oldest son can talk to dragons on both planets, so he is a better leader than am I. He has already been handling 90% or more of the daily tasks assorted with maintaining the Dragon Nation, so I hereby hand over the remaining tasks. While The Old Weyrleader may not be dead, long live The New Weyrleader!"

'Thought you could trick your old man, huh, Daniel'

'Sorry, father. We just wanted a fun way to make this birthday memorable. Looks like it's going to be that, isn't it.'

'Yes, it is, son. If there is a need, call me. I will hear and will come. You may not know I'm there, but I will make sure you have help if you need it.'

Harry turned to the rest of the room and said, "I know this didn't work out like you had planned, but I think it worked out even better. Daniel will make an excellent replacement for me and, once he feels the need to pass on the reigns of power, I'm sure he will have an equally excellent replacement ready, if not willing, to take over.

"It's much better to have an unwilling head of state who only wants what is best for his people than to have one who only wants the position for the power and prestige it accords him. It is time for my wives and myself to fade from your lives. We have many things we want to accomplish on our own and now we have the time and means to do so.

"If everyone would follow us to the outside dragon entrance, there is something I would like to make known to all of the Dragon Nation."

Harry took his wives' hands in his and they all faded over to the outside entrance. That alone shocked most of the people because it was not porting or apparation and no one but Harry and his wives knew how it was done. Almost negligently, Harry waved his hand and the throne, with Daniel still seated on it, joined them. Outside was a huge platinum-colored dragon, at least twice the size of Chekiath! It wasn't flying, it was just there with its wings spread as if to soak up the morning sun!

'Humans and dragons, I, the Pern Father, have grown from the increased magic in my planet. There are certain of you that are too important to me to allow to fade from life. If one of the human half of a dragonrider pair starts to die and I wish to keep him, he will be placed in stasis until such a time as I need him again. He will not die. The dragon half of the bond must NOT jump Between or your rider will not have you there to love him or her when they return. There will be members of your family who will need your presence to help comfort them with the apparent loss of their loved one. Help in whatever way you can.

'If the dragon half of a bonded pair starts to die, I will do the same, though I cannot think of why that would happen normally. If it happens, the human half must continue on so they may again meet up with their bonded. There are others who are not Dragonriders that I would also save, as you are important to Pern, therefore to me. Do not despair. If your partner is placed in stasis, you WILL meet again.

'There is an island off in the western sea that is the north magical pole. After three days, any placed in stasis will be moved there and you may visit them if you wish. Just don't try to remove them from where they are resting. You will only frustrate yourself.'

Every dragon, therefore, every dragonrider or dragon friend heard the Pern Father, though none present could sense his presence. Suddenly the huge dragon shimmered and was gone as if it had never existed.

Harry looked at Daniel and released him from the throne and sent it back to the stage at the same time he transformed it back into the normal chair that it really was. "Daniel, I know you will do an excellent job of maintaining the Dragon Nation, the dragons will not allow you to do any different. May, Hermione, and I now have other responsibilities that we are eager to embrace. As long as we are not on the Island, you know we will be available to help in desperate need.

"Please move into The Weyrleader's Quarters. They are ideally placed to give good access to this Conference Room and my old office. You will find them much more convenient and it will show that you are actually in charge. We no longer need them. Goodbye, son. We love you and all our children and all the Dragon Nation. Please take good care of our legacy."

With that Harry, May, and Hermione disappeared from view, just as the giant platinum dragon had done.

Spath's Weyr Observatory...
'I'll be right back, ladies, and then we can go start making arrangements for our future.'

Harry and Cheki merged into their Sun Dragon form, which was now much larger than it had been when they first merged. They did a short time jump and appeared outside the Dragon entrance to the Conference room just as the crowd of occupants moved to the door and were looking out the windows. They looked at himself standing next to their son, Daniel, and smiled. They had never before realized just how imposing they were when merged.

Everyone was in place now, so it was time to start. 'Humans and dragons, I, the Pern Father, have grown from the increased magic in my planet. ...

Spath's Weyr, Lupin Apartment, July 12, 2082...
Remus woke to Cnordth yelling at him in his mind. He turned to Mildred only to find her cold and unmoving. He reached over and grabbed her by her shoulders and tried to shake her, but it was like grabbing a slab of rock.

Suddenly, Katie Bell was in the room and gently prying his fingers from his wife's shoulders. "Move, Remus, let me see what I can do for her."

Remus sat in the bed with tears streaming down his face in shock. She hadn't seemed sick when they went to bed! How had this happened?

Sirius came in and got Remus out of the bed while Katie tried to work on Mildred. By the time Sirius had Remus dressed, Katie was seated on the bed frustrated. "There is nothing I can do, she's in some kind of stasis spell that I cannot get past, just like with Dr. Scott."

"Katie," said Sirius, quietly so as not to disturb Remus who was sitting numbly in a chair across the room. "Remember what the Pern Father said two years ago? Is it possible that Mildred is one of those too important for him to allow to die?"

"I don't know what to think, Sirius, but I do know someone will have to take care of Remus until he comes back from his own hell. Will you do that for him?"

"Of course, he is still the best friend I have. What are you going to do with Mildred?"

"I'm going to try to at least get her dressed. It's not proper for her to be seen by anyone else in just her nightgown!"

No sooner had she said that than Mildred's nightgown was replaced with a Dragon Nation flight suit without the helmet and the gloves were retracted.

"Did you just do that?" asked a shaky Sirius.

"No," said a thoughtful Katie Bell, now the head surgeon for Spath's Weyr Hospital. "Maybe the Pern Father is responsible. I sure hope so, because there is absolutely nothing I can do for Mildred and I'm not sure there will be much I can do for Remus."

Spath's Weyr, Main Cavern, near Spoke 0, July 15, 2082, 2000 hours...
'Remus.'

"What? Did someone say something?" asked an exhausted Remus Lupin. He had not left his wife's side since she had died. Sirius had even had to clean him up daily and force him to take a facilities break. Any food he ate had been tasteless, but he'd at least eaten enough to keep him alive. 'I must be hallucinating,' he thought to himself. 'There's no one else here right now.'

'Remus, it's time to take your wife to my island.'

"What! No! Who are you? Where are you? Did you do this to my wife!?"

'Remus, ask Cnordth to take you and Mildred to my island. Put her gloves on her, but leave her helmet in her belt pouch.'

"Remus, are you OK? You were yelling just now," said a concerned Sirius Black, his own wife, Katherine by his side, also looking worriedly at Remus.

"He was talking in my head, I heard him. He said I had to take Mildred to his island!"

"But that's great, Remus. It means that she will live again and you will see her!" said Sirius. "Remember the day we saw the Pern Father? That's what he told us and Mildred is in stasis, just like he said."

"NO!" howled Remus, as he collapsed on the ground. "I can't be separated from her!"

It took Sirius, Katherine, Cnordth, Norendrath, and several Dragonriders and their dragons about three hours to finally talk Remus into making the trip to at least see what the island looked like. Once they finally convinced him, it wasn't long before they were all suited up and ready to go. Cnordth gently held the still form of Mildred Lupin in his front paws as they leaped into the air. Somehow, Cnordth had a very clear jump image, which he passed to everyone else going with them.

The Pern Father's Island, Pern's North Magical Pole...
As they all came out of Between, they could see the island scintillating in the morning sun. Almost directly in front of them, they could see the huge form of the Pern Father standing at the head of a raised, plain plinth.

'Place her here,' said the Pern Father.

Numbly, Remus took his wife from Cnordth's paws and walked over to the pedestal. Reaching out with one hand, he touched the surface and was surprised to find it was actually comfortable instead of feeling like the rock surface it looked like. He gently laid her out, with her feet towards the center of the island. As he moved away, a clear cover appeared in place on top of the slab.

Remus touched it and it felt warm to the touch, in spite of the coldness of the surrounding air.

'This will shield her from any damage while she sleeps and heals,' explained the Pern Father.

"What is this other pedestal right next to her and why does it have a bar across the top?" asked Remus, curious in spite of his numbness.

'That is where you and Cnordth will rest when it is your time. You did not think I would allow you to be separated, did you?'

Remus, oddly comforted by that statement, said, "I just hope it's soon."

'It will be very soon in planetary terms,' said the Pern Father, 'but in your time, it will be almost 20 turns before you join her and many more before you both rise again to take up your new lives.'

Remus just looked at the Pern Father with shock. Who knew when one was supposed to die. He felt like he wanted to go now!

'You are still needed. If I could, I would have helped your mate to hang on a little longer, but it was her time. If I had waited, you would have been separated for all eternity. Now it will be as an eye blink … as far as my home is concerned. Have faith, Remus, you will be reunited.'

Remus could feel the love radiating off the Pern Father. It felt most comforting and almost familiar. He would try to live for Mildred.

Spath's Weyr, Black Apartment, Dec 6, 2082, 0500 hours...
Remus had started to pay attention to life again, at least a little. Sirius and Katherine had almost forced him to move into an extra bedroom in their apartment and had forced him to participate in the Weyr. They had even talked new dragons into talking to Remus about what they remembered from history, be it theirs or their ancestral memories. Most days he went to bed early and got up late. When he was asleep he didn't remember … usually.

'Remus.'

Remus woke with a start. He didn't know what had awoken him, but, whatever it was, had caused him to break out in a cold sweat. He was trembling as if it was "that night" all over again.

'Remus, you need to go help Sirius.'

"Sirius?"

'Yes, Sirius. Katherine has just left him.'

"Left him? But they are really happy with each other!"

'Remus, go help Sirius.'

Suddenly Remus came all the way awake. Katherine! He leaped out of bed and threw on his clothes before bolting out his bedroom door and rushing down the hall to the other bedroom in the apartment. All seemed to be quiet inside. Remus hesitated.

'Remus, help Sirius.'

Remus opened the door and carefully looked in. At first glance, both occupants seemed to be asleep. Then Remus saw the tell-tale pale blue glow covering Katherine. His heart sank. He wasn't over Mildred yet, how was he going to help Sirius?

He walked over to the bed and nudged Sirius awake.

"Hnuh," said Sirius, intelligently.

"Sirius, there has been a security breach, and you are needed. Don't wake Katherine, just get dressed and get moving!"

"Damn it!" whispered Sirius. "Why now. We were just enjoying a good cuddle!"

"I know, Sirius, but security waits for no man."

Remus finally got Sirius out of the apartment and headed to the Hospital where the supposed attacker was being held. "You go ahead, Sirius, I've got something I need to do."

"Right, see you there. Don't wake Katherine, she can get real testy when she finds a strange man in her bedroom. She almost took my head off the other day until she recognized me!"

"Well," said Remus, "you have to admit you're about as strange as they come."

Sirius left and Remus turned back into the apartment.

"Tisky."

"Yes, Remus," said the small elf as she answered the summons.

"Katherine has just died, but Sirius doesn't know yet. He is headed down to the hospital now. Would you see Katherine dressed in her flight suit and take her down to the ER? I will go try to calm Sirius once he learns that he is again alone."

Tisky just nodded her head sadly and went into the bedroom where Katherine lay. She was already wearing her flight suit, so Tisky popped them both down to the hospital.

Remus hurried to catch up to his friend. As he entered the hospital, Sirius was arguing with one of the night nurses. Tisky waved at him from the door of one of the side rooms, and Remus went to corral his friend.

"Sirius, over here," said Remus gently, pointing to the door where Tisky had waved to him.

Sirius grumbled and moved over to the door. As he entered, he saw the figure in the bed but didn't recognize her until he was almost next to the side of the bed. As soon as he did, he realized what was going on. He instantly changed into Padfoot, sat down, and started howling.

Norendrath stuck his head into the room and sent as much love as he could to his unbonded rider. Padfoot turned and started attacking the dragon until Remus was successful in stunning his friend.

'Why did he attack me?' asked Norendrath, unhappily.

"We have joked with him so much about being eaten when he's in dog form, that he was trying to get you to kill him. He is desperately unhappy because his bonded mate is gone and he wants to join her, but this is not the way."

Spath's Weyr, Main Cavern, near Spoke 0, Dec 9, 2082, 2000 hours...
'Sirius.'

Sirius snapped around to glare at the silent Weyr cavern with so many gathered to help mourn his wife's passing.

'Sirius, it's time to take your wife to my island.'

"Must I? Can I just join her now?"

'No, Sirius, it is not yet your time. Ask Norendrath to take you and Katherine to my island. Put her gloves on her, but leave her helmet in her belt pouch.'

Sirius had been through this before with Remus, but it wasn't any easier when he was the one crying for his beautiful, wonderful, departed wife. Even so, it only took a few minutes before they were all suited up and ready to go. Norendrath gently held the still form of Katherine Black in his front paws as they leaped into the air. Norendrath had a very clear jump image from the Pern Father, which he passed to everyone else going with them.

The Pern Father's Island, Pern's North Magical Pole...
As they all came out of Between, they could see the island scintillating in the morning sun. Almost directly in front of them, they could see the huge form of the Pern Father standing at the head of a raised, plain plinth.

'Place her here,' said the Pern Father.

Numbly, Sirius took his wife from Norendrath's paws and walked over to the pedestal. He gently laid her out, with her feet towards the center of the island. As he moved away, a clear cover appeared in place on top of the slab.

'You will join her soon enough, but not until it's your time.'

Sirius said, "I just hope it's soon."

'It will be very soon in planetary terms, much sooner than for Remus,' said the Pern Father, 'but in your time, it will be almost 10 turns before you join her and many more before you both rise again to take up your new lives. I need you to help keep Remus focused. He is needed and so are you. When you join your wife, he will be in a much better place to be able to go on alone.'

Sirius just looked at the Pern Father with shock. How did he know when one was supposed to die. He felt like he could willingly go now!

'You are still needed. I could not help your mate to hang on any longer, it was her time. If I had waited, you would have been separated for all eternity. Now it will be as an eye blink … as far as my home is concerned. Have faith, Sirius, you will be reunited.'

Sirius could feel the love radiating off the Pern Father. It felt most comforting and almost familiar. He would try to live for Katherine.

Timor, Cylinder Research Lab, May 5, 2085...
As the Dragon Egg Transport neared the surface of the work cavern, all the nearby workers and scientists cast a bubblehead charm on themselves. Once all the previous mundanes had started developing magical powers, it was the first charm they all wanted to know. Working around dragons, they knew that periodically an arriving dragon would "have an accident" and release a dragon fart. Now they could preemptively protect themselves. Unfortunately, their clothes would have to be thoroughly laundered to remove the lingering aroma.

Fortunate they were this time, as the potential dragon fart turned out not to be potential at all, but actual. One of the research assistants was looking right at one of the cylinders when the gas touched its surface and it lost its super-reflective nature and looked more like molten metal. The research assistants watched in wonder as the change spread to all the cylinders in turn and each quickly reverted to its prior state. The change didn't last long before they all reverted back to their base state, but it was a change that had now been seen.

"Did anyone else see that?" asked Brian Johnson, one of the junior research assistants.

"See what," asked one of the hovering scientists.

"When the methane from the dragon fart touched the cylinders, they changed slightly. Could it be that they will open if they are in a methane atmosphere?"

It didn't take long for one of the cylinders to be moved into a large, air-tight compartment. It took a little longer to acquire the methane.

Timor, Cylinder Research Lab, May 6, 2085...
Once the Methane arrived, the room was quickly filled and everyone watched in awe as the cylinder again displayed its change. This time, since the methane stayed in the room, the cylinder continued to morph into what looked like a giant, squat centipede with long spindly legs that didn't look like they would be able to support much weight.

It was hard to tell which end was the front until a pair of obvious lenses were extruded from one end and looked back at everyone through the thick, transparent wall.

As everyone was thoroughly engrossed in looking at the metallic creature in the methane-filled room, they didn't notice one of the cylinders in the room with them also changing. It wasn't until one of the support technicians was backing up to find a better vantage point and actually bumped into the second one that they knew another cylinder had changed. It wasn't the atmosphere, it was the guaranteed lack of the blue microorganisms. Evidently, methane also destroyed them.

Panic and confusion ran rampant until everyone saw that only one additional cylinder had converted and it was standing absolutely still, making no threatening moves whatsoever. The two creatures were facing each other, but if they were communicating, there was as yet no way to determine how.

Eventually, all the methane was removed from the examination room and the door was left open in case the first creature wished to join its companion.

-oooOOOooo-

Later that afternoon, after all the other "Cylinders" had removed their protection with no hostile response from the strange creatures they found in the room with them, one of the creatures moved over to a computer that one of the assistants was busily typing at. As he saw the approach, Brian quickly saved what he was doing and looked up inquiringly at the odd, metal creature.

When the odd-looking creature just looked at the computer, Brian got the idea it wanted to try to communicate, but couldn't with the tools at hand. Quickly, Brian disconnected the computer from the LAN, grabbed another computer from storage, and hooked the two together after adding an extra Network card to the second. He plugged a high-speed data cable into the 32 pin plug and held out the other end to the creature.

By this time, quite a few of the other assistants and scientists were watching. As they watched, the computer the creature was hooked to by the data cable started displaying odd visual patterns. After a short time, every program on the computer started running, one after another, sometimes multiple programs would run at the same time.

Finally, the screen went blank and a kernel-level OS prompt appeared with a flashing question mark. "I think our guest just extracted all the information he could from these two computers and needs more," suggested Brian.

"Cetath, please contact The Weyrleader and request a data dump of our language and cultural information be sent to us as soon as possible," asked Dr. Bjørn Haugaard, the lead scientist in charge of the Timor efforts. When he saw a positive response from the dragon, he said, "Now we wait. Everyone back to work except you Mr. Johnson. I want you to pay attention, exclusively, to our guests. If you can determine if there is anything else we can offer them, please let me know immediately."

"Yes, Sir."

-oooOOOooo-

Forty-five minutes later, Daniel Potter arrived on his dragon Gemioth. As he walked over to where the metallic creatures seemed to be congregating, he pulled a small rectangular block from his flight suit. "Here, Mr. Johnson, there should be a little over 7 TB of information on this drive. Just plug it in and they can have whatever they want. It's everything we teach from preschool through college and includes a lot of information on our political system and many sound files and videos. I hope it's enough for them to generate some way of communicating with us."

It took all of 10 minutes for all the data to be absorbed by the metallic creatures and then they stood close to each other, every one of them had extended a narrow limb to the one connected to the computer and seemingly attached themselves together somehow.

"Well, Mr. Johnson, shall we get some refreshment while we wait for our new friends to analyze this new data so they can start communicating with us?"

"Of course, sir," said the startled assistant. He had never thought he would even meet the leader of the Dragon Nation. Now he was talking with him as if they were old friends!

-oooOOOooo-

They were talking about inconsequential things when suddenly the computer the creatures were attached to made a blipping sound and the video came back up. For a while, the computer seemed to be searching for something and then stopped as everyone waited for what was going to happen next.

Brian turned to his original computer and fired up an old chatroom program that he knew was on both computers. He expanded the window to cover the entire screen and typed a simple "Hello" before pressing the Enter key. Suddenly, the second computer displayed the same screen with Brian's initial entry displaying. This was soon followed by a "Hello" from the creature attached directly to the machine.

"Great job, Brian!" exclaimed Daniel. "What's next?"

Brian reached out to the keyboard and typed, "My name is Brian. May I know your name?"

After a few seconds, "I am J-1. It is good to communicate with you, Brian."

Brian: We were surprised when you exited the cylinders. We had no idea there were intelligent beings inside. Are there any questions I can answer for you?

J-1: We would like access to the surface of this planet. We have watched you come and go, but have not been able to determine how you do this. We need to know where we are.

Brian: Do you require an atmosphere to function. We require one similar to what is currently around us.

J-1: We require no atmosphere. The only reason we awoke when exposed to methane was because we knew there would be none of the blue lights to attack us.

Brian: Will you require anything else to aid in your search for your location once we take you to the surface?"

J-1: No, we are self-sufficient. Everything we might ever need has been built into us for our long journey.

Brian: Then you were not alive?

J-1: We are not alive like you are. We are a machine intelligence created specifically for our task and given more than enough intelligence to be able to successfully complete it.

Brian: We would call that Artificial Intelligence, or A.I. for short. Is that what you are?

J-1: The definition we can find among the information you provided us is similar but far too restricted to refer to us.

Brian: We are called Humans. What do you call yourselves?

J-1: Our creators were called Nions. We have never felt a need to call ourselves anything since we all share a common consciousness when we are close enough together and especially when we touch as we are doing now. If you wish you may call us Nions.

As Brian talked to J-1, Dr. Haugaard commented, "It's amazing they are able to communicate with us at all, but we need to be careful. They seem only to have learned that a period is to be placed between two complete thoughts. They don't seem to have bothered to learn any of the more esoteric laws of language. With us, a misplaced comma could change the entire meaning of a sentence. They don't seem to use any punctuation except periods."

The surface of Timor, June 12, 2085...
It had taken hours for the dragons to take the Nions to the surface of Timor. They had reformed into groupings of twenty each, all tightly connected into a single mass. The dragons had carefully grasped this mass, jumped aloft and gone Between to the surface of the planet. As soon as the first group had successfully arrived, all the rest seemed to know and formed into their groups for transport … all except for J-1, who continued to "talk" to Brian, answering as many questions as it could, asking almost as many.

After they had all transferred to the surface, there was a mass transformation as limbs extended to incredible lengths, and the Nions formed a linked array of their bodies over the entire surface of the moon, covering even the D-36 that was the main investigation center on the moon. Only J-1 remained as it had been so it could continue to communicate with the humans.

It was found out that the Nions had been created thousands of years ago to find a new place to live for their biological creators when their planet showed signs of dying. They were to go out in a great circular path from their sun of origin and return as soon as they found a suitable location. If their biologicals couldn't wait, they would place themselves in stasis, just like the mechanical versions, and wait for their return.

So far on their journey, they had found 26 potential planets.

Brian: I know you wish to be on your way again, but our leader wishes to show you something.

J-1: I am willing to see whatever he wishes to show me.

A large crystal sphere was brought out on the surface of the moon. It contained a newly grown batch of the blue, metal-eating microbes, but sealed inside so they could not escape. At the top, was a simple airlock arrangement that would allow material to be introduced into the sphere while keeping the microbes safely contained. The sphere was pressurized and all possible means of escape, including the airlock, was heavily coated in thick peanut oil.

Brian: Do you know what this is?

J-1: Yes, Brian, it is the blue lights that eat us.

Brian: Please watch our leader very carefully. He has two pieces of identical metal. He is going to place some special marks on one and then feed them, one at a time, into the sphere.

Daniel used a fine, diamond stylus to inscribe some special protection runes he had just developed on one of the pieces of metal. Then he placed the unmodified metal in the airlock and allowed it to drop into the small mass of blue microbes. Soon it was covered by the blue lights and was visibly being dissolved away.

When Daniel was sure that the first had been observed, he placed the second in the airlock and allowed it to drop as well. Instead of being attacked, the blue microbes in direct contact faded out completely while others not quite touching seemed to draw back, away from the new metal. Eventually, there was a fine lacy structure of microbes over the second piece of, untouched metal. Daniel tapped sharply on the crystal causing the structure to collapse. Soon there were no more live microbes in the sphere.

Brian: Did you see what happened when the second piece of metal was placed inside the sphere?

J-1: Yes, the blue lights died.

Brian: Our leader wishes to offer to give you all this same protection. It may not work for all such dangers, but it will work for these. We would also offer to create a hollow rock sphere with clear ports all around you will be able to see out if forced to hide. There will be holes the exact size of your cylinder form, so every one of you can be safe as you would normally be, yet can maintain contact inside the sphere if you wish.

Once created, we can set the sphere on a course of your desire at just about any speed you wish.

J-1: That is most generous. We will accept.

Brian: I have also been told that we welcome new friends. If you get to the end of your journey and need a place to go where you will be welcome, feel free to return here.

J-1: We appreciate the offer, but our biologicals might not fit in so well with you. If they are waiting for us, we will take them to one of the planets we have already discovered that have no life of their own.

Brian: Would you like us to make a larger sphere so that you could hide your biologicals inside while you journey to their new home? If so, we would need some idea of the amount of room they would require and how many of them there might be.

J-1: There are only as many as are we, though they are about one-fourth our size. They wanted us large enough to be able to survive anything. Obviously, they never realized there might be alien biologicals that eat metal.

The Pern System, Aug 4, 2085...
A huge, hollow sphere orbited Pern, well outside the orbit of any of the moons or artificial satellites orbiting around the planet. Rock had been gathered from one of the asteroid belts and dragon fire made short work of joining all the pieces together. The Nions had helped by acting as templates for the holes in the outer surface and, as the sections were completed and they were etched with the protective runes, had taken their place on the forming moon, just waiting until it could be launched.

The moon had not taken long to form. There was nothing but a hollow sphere five to six meters in thickness with supporting solid columns of rock strategically placed to add rigid support. The Nions had assured their human benefactors that they would be able to keep everything together. J-1 had just joined its fellow Nions and the planet had been moved by the simple expedient of having a huge team of Black Dragon-led dragons to jump Between and come out on the proper heading and speed.

All dragons released the "moon" and watched as the Nions formed a huge solar sail around the perimeter of the sphere. Their metal limbs stretched to unbelievable lengths and some form of force shield sprang up in the open spaces between. Soon the moon and its inhabitants were speeding out of the Pern system on the light pressure from the sun.

Hogwarts, July 12, 2088...
Professor Flitwick, ex-Deputy Headmaster of Hogwarts, lay in his bed in the castle, slowly dying. He had led a good life, doing what he enjoyed most, teaching children. He had been blessed by having included among his friends dragons, something that in his early years would have been unthinkable. He didn't think he had much time left.

'Professor.'

"Yes," he said groggily, without opening his eyes. He knew no one was there he would be able to see.

'It is almost that time, did you leave your letters?'

"Yes, in the top drawer of my nightstand."

Filius felt the pain ease and then knew nothing else.

-oooOOOooo-

Clarence, the sorting hat suddenly appeared in Headmistress Potter's quarters. "Headmistress, Professor Flitwick is no longer with us."

"Thank you, Clarence," said Mary tiredly. "I will collect his letters. Is he prepared?"

"Yes, Headmistress, he is in stasis, as we were told he would be."

"Thank you, again, Clarence. I have this now," said Mary Potter, rising from her favorite reading chair. "Solly."

"Yes, Headmistress?" asked the house-elf as he popped into her reading room.

"Professor Flitwick has passed. Would you please set up for a formal viewing in the first year's gathering room?"

"Yes, Headmistress, Solly take care of everything."

Mary sighed as the elf departed. They already had a replacement for Filius who had taken over at the beginning of last school term. She would have to send out Owls to all her faculty, staff, and students current and past, though. There were sure to be quite a few who would wish to say one last goodbye to one of Hogwarts' favorite Professors.

She left her quarters and headed for where, until just a little while ago, Filius had continued to live.

Hogwarts, July 16, 2088, 2000 hours...
Thousands had come to pay their respects the last few days and almost all of them had written something in the book of memories which Mary had placed near the exit. There were still quite a few visitors left in the line when Mary noticed Filius' body start to glow. This would never do, he had to stay for at least another couple of hours so everyone had a chance to say goodbye!

"Wait!" she called towards Filius' body, not knowing if it would do any good. "Please, give us two more hours so everyone has a chance to say goodbye."

All those in the room looked over at the small body lying in state in the bed on one side of the room and were startled to see the glow around his body. At Mary's exclamation, however, the glow pulsed a couple of times and dimmed. It didn't go out completely, but it now seemed like it was waiting because the Headmistress had requested it.

Hogwarts, July 16, 2088, 2200 hours...
The last of the visitors had finished signing the book of memories thirty minutes ago. Mary had made a permanent duplicate to keep at the school, placed the original on Filius' chest, and now all those last visitors and Mary were patiently waiting to see Filius off. Finally, the glow started to intensify again. The body, with the book firmly planted on his chest, slowly rose off the table and started drifting towards the door.

Mary quickly threw the door open and everyone followed the glowing body out. As the last person exited the door, it was plain to see that the Hogwarts dragons were lined up in formation to honor their little friend. The Professor's body slowly made its way down the center of the double row of dragons. Then it rose to a height much higher than any dragon anyone had seen before and stopped, just apparently hovering in mid-air. Slowly, a gigantic form could be seen, slowly taking shape behind the Professor. When it had completely materialized, it could be seen that it was cradling the small half-goblin gently in its arms. It was easily twice the size of Chekiath which was supposed to be the largest dragon in the world! And it was a shining platinum in color, nothing like any dragon anyone there had ever seen before.

'Thank you for taking such good care of my friend,' said the dragon into the minds of everyone there. 'It is now time for me to take over. I'm sure he will appreciate the many fine memories you have all shared in the book you sent with him when he starts his next life.'

With that, the dragon extended its huge wings, slowly rose up into the air until it was just higher than the top of the entrance door, and slowly, ever so slowly, faded from view, taking Filius with it. For everyone present, it was one of life's defining moments.

Eddie Took would visit, at Mary's invitation, right after school re-started, and would explain that the Pern Father was real and that the Earth Mother was making a big comeback and now had a weak, though getting stronger, corporeal form. She would explain about her faith and, before she left, would gain a number of converts with more in the coming months. A religion that preached, and actually practiced, love and forgiveness was something that, evidently, a lot of students and staff had been looking for.

Spath's Weyr, Black/Lupin Apartment, Nov 27, 2092...
'Sirius.'

'Yes?'

'Sirius, it's time to go join Katherine. Have you written all your letters?'

'Yes, I wrote them the first week after Katherine left me. I have only been waiting for this time, please take me to her.'

'Remus must do that, so he will have hope that he will be re-joined with Mildred, It won't be long now.'

Everything faded to black for Sirius Black, Dragon Friend. Now it was time for others to continue.

-oooOOOooo-

'Remus.'

"Yes?"

'It is Sirius' time. Please take care of him for me and see him sent off and re-joined with his bonded mate.'

"As you wish."

Remus tiredly climbed out of bed. He was getting old now and felt a lot older since Mildred had left. If this mysterious voice was to be believed, he would rejoin her soon enough. Like Sirius, he had written his final letters years ago and was just biding his time until he could also leave.

This time, there would be no special ceremony. Sirius had specifically requested to be taken to his wife as soon as possible. Anyone wishing to pay their respects could visit them on the Island. Remus levitated his friend down to the ground floor of the central cavern where all their friends were there to see him off. Remus took Sirius over to Norendrath, who carefully took the body into his paws and jumped into flight in the cavern. As soon as all were ready, they all went Between to ...

The Pern Father's Island, Pern's North Magical Pole...
As they all came out of Between, they could see the island scintillating in the morning sun. Almost directly in front of them, they could see the huge form of the Pern Father standing at the head of a raised, plinth with a bar at its head. Right next to it, touching along their entire length lay Katherine, looking a lot younger than she had when she died. She looked like she had simply lain down for a nap and could be awakened by a word spoken just too loudly.

'Place him here,' said the Pern Father, indicating the plinth by Katherine's side.

Numbly, Norendrath walked over to the pedestal and gently laid Sirius out, with his feet towards the center of the island. As he moved away, a clear cover appeared, now covering both slabs.

"Look!" exclaimed Remus, in awe, with tears in his eyes. "They are holding hands!"

Everyone moved closer to verify. The two Dragon Friends were now lying together as if in sleep and they were, in fact, holding hands. Everyone could feel the love coming from the Pern Father. What they couldn't feel was the magic being pushed into Sirius that would eventually heal all that ailed him and restore him to the prime of his life … all while he slept in stasis.

As everyone watched silently, Norendrath jumped up on the perch at Sirius' head and said, 'I wish to sleep with my friend.'

'And if I still need you here?' asked the Pern Father.

'I will stay, but only until such time as you allow me to return here.'

'Would you not stay to ease the pain of their only daughter, Kirstin?'

"I already have a full family with a husband, children, and grandchildren. We have all loved Norendrath as a valued member of our family, but I would not be the reason he was forced to leave his beloved friend. Please, Pern Father, allow him to join his friend," said Kirstin Black-Jenkins.

Suddenly, Norendrath was bathed in a golden glow and started to shrink until he was small enough to easily fit on the perch at Sirius' head. Then he was placed into stasis and the crystal covering over Sirius and Katherine flowed up to cover the dragon as well.

'So be it. These three are now bonded in my sight. For now and evermore.' As he finished, a golden glow formed around the three and slowly faded from sight as it sank into the recumbent bodies. The Pern Father then faded from view.

Many of those who had come to see Sirius off returned to the Weyr, but some, those with friends on the island, lingered long enough to pay their respects to those who had gone before.

Spath's Weyr, Office of the Weyr Science Advisor, Level 20, Jan 10, 2100...
'Narcissa.'

"Yes," she called back. She was used to hearing dragons in her head by now. "What can I do for you?"

'Have you written your letters yet?'

"No, I haven't written any letters in years, and why do you think I should care?"

'Most who live in the Weyr write letters to those they care about to say goodbye and to help settle their affairs if they die unexpectedly.'

"Well, I haven't written any such letters and don't plan on writing any, not that it's any of your business, whomever you are."

'What would you want to happen to all your belongings if something were to happen to you today?'

"I don't really care. I've gotten what I wanted. I still don't have a very good relationship with my son, but I've had a lovely time helping with my grandchildren, but I repeat myself, who are you and why should I care if you know any of this or not!"

'I am the Pern Father and I don't want you to feel slighted. You have become very important to many in the Dragon Nation and have become a recognized force for improving many of its inhabitants' lives. I would know if you want to be able to continue to live and work with them all.'

"Who are you really! Show yourself!"

'Come to the balcony outside your office and look into the central cavern, but be quick, you don't have much time.'

Narcissa carefully stood up. At 145 years old, she wasn't quite as spry as she used to be. She made her way to the balcony and looked out to see the biggest dragon she'd ever seen, all in reflective platinum.

She glared at the dragon and said, "I don't care who you are, leave me alone. I don't want to have anything to do with you!"

'As you wish,' the Pern Father said with regret.

Narcissa turned to re-enter her office, but slipped and fell over the edge. Intellectually, she knew she could not fall to her death, but when faced with the actual fact of going over the edge, it was too much for her. There was a flare of accidental magic, and her heart stopped. She would be found dead ten hours later when she finally settled at the bottom of the cavern.

Pern University, Advanced Transfiguration Classroom, Friday, Oct 15, 2100...
Minerva McGonagall had been given a first-floor classroom, near the main entrance, where she could teach remedial Transfiguration to the young children and older new magic users of the Weyr. She really appreciated the layout, it made so much more sense than the disconnected rooms and classrooms back at Hogwarts. What was even nicer was that she shared her spacious apartments with her sister Eddie and her husband Seamus. There were two bedrooms opening on a central sitting room. Minerva's bedroom door was only steps away from the door leading directly to her classrooms, so it was ever so much more convenient than her old setup on Earth.

The only problem was she had to leave the "building" if she wanted to visit with her dragon friend, Hamanth, but that had been true back on Earth as well. At least here, leaving the building didn't mean she had to go outside.

Her teaching methods had also changed since she'd arrived on Pern. She'd had many discussions with Harry when she first arrived, and had come to understand his ideas behind "intent-based" magic and had changed her teaching to match her new understanding. It was much simpler to teach and far easier for her new students to pick up. It was all about understanding what you wanted to accomplish, gathering your magic, and releasing it on your focus while keeping your intent firmly in mind. For older magic users, using a wand really helped. What surprised Minerva was that many of the new magic users, children, and adults alike, found no difference. Their wandless magic was comparable in its results to their wanded magic. She had a feeling wands would become rarer as time went on.

She looked out at her current class. Fifteen children aged five to eleven and five adults, former mundanes, aged twenty-four to sixty-five. What a difference! For today's lesson, she had talked some graduate teaching students into coming in and helping for class credit.

When the last of the students were seated, she started, knowing that the room would take care of any voice amplification she might need. "Today, we are going to practice what we have learned over the past week. I have invited ten graduate education majors to help. Each assistant will work with two students. All of my students should form into groups of two in any manner you wish and my assistants will pick a group to help for fifteen minutes and then rotate to another group.

"That way, every student will get the benefit of different approaches to the same task, and my assistants will get to practice their teaching methods on many different groups. Please begin."

Minerva sat for a while happily watching her students and the assistants interact. All ten of the assistants had different teaching methods from each other, but that was what today was all about, to help them learn what their best approach might be. Before today, they had been learning the theories behind teaching, today they were practicing.

'Minerva.'

"Yes?" asked Minerva, startled that someone would try to interrupt her during class.

'Minerva, it is time. Have you written your letters?'

"Oh, dear, yes, I have, but, please at least give me time to get back into my apartment. I don't want the young children to see!"

'It will be alright, Minerva. It really needs to happen now and they won't see anything frightening.'

A soft glow appeared around Minerva as her body relaxed. She was gently levitated up until she was laid out on the cushioned lab table at the front of the room. Some of her students were the first to notice and eventually everyone in the room was watching. Everyone had heard about death as 'blessed' by the Pern Father, but none of them had actually seen it. After today, there would be thirty more voices to share the wonder.

After Minerva was laid out on the table, she was suddenly wearing her flight suit with gloves. Once she was ready, she was gently lifted from the table and levitated out the front door. Students and Assistants alike followed.

When they were all "outside" the University building, an immense platinum dragon was waiting for them, along with Hamanth, Minerva's dragon friend, and Eddie Took, Minerva's sister. Hamanth held out his front paws and Minerva's body floated into them.

'Eddie,' said the Pern Father, 'I know Seamus is on Earth working with the new aspects of the Earth Mother. Would you have me bring him here?'

"No, Father. He is doing important work there, and I can derive all the comfort I need from you."

Eddie and all present felt an almost palpable wave of love enfold them from the Pern Father. They all knew he cared and would take care of them and Minerva.

'Are there any here who do not wish to see Minerva off?'

When no one raised their hands, a D2 Dragon Egg appeared next to the group and everyone solemnly moved aboard.

'Hamanth, you will perch on the aft perch, but do nothing. I will take us all to The Island and return us.'

'Yes, Father.'

The Pern Father perched on the front perch, which truth be told, was a bit small for such a large dragon. He didn't spread his wings, he didn't call for a jump to flight, he just gathered the planetary magic to him and one second they were in front of the school and the next, they were on the island. Not 2.6 seconds later, but as near to instantaneous as could have been measured. To those inside the transport, it was as if they had blinked and they were somewhere else.

'None of you are really dressed for the cold here. Please let me warm the island up a little before you exit the Transport.'

As the passengers watched through the video monitors, the cold-looking, dark cloudy sky over the island seemed to develop a bright sunny sky … just over the limits of the island. It was as if the surface of the island were under a glass bowl. Outside it was a cold wintery day; inside, it was a pleasant spring day.

The Pern Father walked over to a set of three plinths, one, on the outside, had a dragon perch. 'Place her here,' the Pern Father indicated the plinth with the perch.

Carefully Hamanth deposited Minerva with her feet towards the center of the island. As she came to rest, a clear cover sprang into existence, covering her, but leaving the two touching it uncovered.

'Hamanth, I know you would join Minerva, but please help her family to find ease first. They are as much your family as was Minerva.'

'That is what I had planned on doing, Father. Minerva and I discussed it and she didn't want her sister left alone.'

Eddie heard everything that was being said but never responded. She started her Invocation for the Dead and, as she spoke, the Pern Mother appeared next to her in her human guise. She placed a hand on Eddie's arm and their auras combined to bless Minerva's resting place.

The Pern Father's Island, Pern's North Magical Pole, Aug 17, 2102...
The Pern Father and Mother stood with their arms joined over the three Plinths below them. Ordinarily, it would not have been possible, but the Pern Mother, in her human guise, was huge and stood just as tall as the Pern Father. The Green Lady and her husband had died almost simultaneously and had almost caught everyone by surprise. Now they were laid to rest, the Green Lady in the middle and Minerva and Seamus on either side.

The surrounding island and the skies above were crowded with bonded and unbonded dragons. There was not a single dragon anywhere else on Earth or Pern. They all wished to pay homage to the gentle soul that taught and acted on a philosophy of love and caring for all intelligent creatures. There were 13,200 bonded dragons and riders and 8,000 unbonded dragons.

After the Invocation for the dead, but before the Pern Father called up the crystal covering, Enith spoke up. 'Father, the Green Lady has been a great help to me in the past weeks. It is almost my time and she gave me great comfort explaining that you love dragons almost as much as The Weyrleader and his son, who now leads us.

'It is close to my time anyway, so I would be honored to join her in her passing so we may meet again and face together what is to come.'

The Pern Father nodded at the center plinth which now had a dragon perch, 'If you are sure, then you may join the Green Lady. I am sure she would welcome your company.'

Enith flew down to land on the perch and was instantly surrounded by a golden glow and started to shrink until she was small enough to easily fit on the perch at Eddie's head. Then she was placed into stasis and the crystal covering over Minerva, Eddie, and Seamus flowed up to cover both dragons as well.

'Dragons and riders of Earth and Pern, know that you have done very well. We are proud of you all. When your time comes, know you will be welcome here, if you wish, where all your hurts will be healed and you will become as in your prime. Here you will rest, storing magic against the time when you are needed and can live again.'

Harry/Cheki, the Pern Father, and his two invisible consorts, watched with pride as dragons and riders slowly dispersed to go back to what they were needed to do.

The Pern Father's Island, Pern's North Magical Pole, Aug 4, 2189...
Harry felt a great gnawing emptiness in his chest. He stared blankly at one of the central plinths on the island. One that, until today had been empty. They had all seen her slow deterioration, but even Trath had denied the possibility of May leaving them. It was impossible, they were a team and without May, their team was broken. Now May lay on the cushioned stone with a crystal cover. He wanted to roar his anger to the stars, but they wouldn't care, no one would care.

'We care,' said Cheki, Trath, Hermione, and Comaloth almost in unison. Hermione took Harry in her arms again and let him continue to cry. Her tears mingled with his as three great dragons surrounded them with protection from the cold winter weather and pushed as much love as they could through their bond.

'I can see why May asked me to stay, Harry. It is a hard thing losing a bonded mate, but the more souls to share the pain, the easier it is,' saith Trath. 'I didn't think I would be able to stay behind, but May made me promise and it is all of your love that has helped keep me sane. Please, don't leave us, we need you now more than ever.'

Harry thought back to the growing toll over the years. Just the most prominent were:
Ronan Clark (Oct 3, 1978-June 20, 2103)
Karen (Khan) Clark (May 16, 1980-Jan 12, 2105)
Connie Kincaid (Nov 10, 1988-Nov 2, 2108)
Nylah Harper (Aug 22, 2017-June 6, 2109)
Severus Snape/Brad Harper (Jan 9, 1960-Sept 10, 2110)

Filan/Lanolth (Apr 5, 2004-May 12, 2114)
Jason Clark (Dec 1, 2005-June 30, 2115)
Doctor Isaac Sheppard (Dec 9, 1966-Feb 25, 2121)
Tegan Ross-Potter (Mar 10, 2022-Feb 3, 2123)
Mariah (Varghese) Jordan (Oct 22, 1995-Jul 9, 2125)

Frank (Skip) Taylor (Nov 16, 1979-May 12, 2129)
Rubeus Hagrid (Dec 6, 1928-Sept 10, 2138)
Olympe Maxime-Hagrid (Aug 12,1930-May 5, 2140)
Hannah Abbott (June 20, 1980-Oct 18, 2141)
Katherine (Mathews) Taylor (Mar 1, 1980-Feb 28, 2150)

Ragnok, the Goblin Chieftain (Oct 14, 1845-June 8, 2150), not on The Pern Father's Island
Draco Malfoy (June 5, 1980-June 8, 2150)
Lee Jordan (Oct 20, 1995-Dec 28, 2165)
Tisky, Dobby's wife (June 28, 1961-April 3, 2166)
Dobby (June 3, 1958-Apr 2, 2168)

Centaur Bane (Dec 5, 1970-Dec 14, 2168)
Rosalee Jordan (Mar 1, 2001-Apr 10, 2171)
David Totah/Vizeth (Aug 18, 2018-Nov 24, 2178)
Dods Hadad/Speroth (Feb 6, 2019-June 19, 2179)
Sally Atiyeh/Horanth (Apr 17, 2020-Oct 1, 2180)

Naima Atiyeh/Prolath (Apr 17, 2020-Oct 21, 2180)
Maibe Fakhoury/Tilerth (Sept 4, 2021-Aug 16, 2181)
Aymn Sleiman/Zenalth (Dec 28, 2016-Oct 27, 2186)
Mariam Fakhoury/Sirleth (July 2, 2017-Oct 22, 2187)

and now,

May McNulty-Potter (June 1, 1979-Aug 4, 2189)

He had talked with Ragnok as Harry, just before his death and the Goblin leader had explained to Harry that no true Goblin should ever be interred on the island because they had their own religion which called for other things to happen. He had no idea why the Centaurs, Cheetahs, and Mers refused, but refuse they did. The only bodies on the island were humans, elves, half-giants, and dragons.

If he were to go back to Earth now, almost no one would remember him. As it was, he and Cheki spent almost all their time now in their merged state. They found they could think clearer and faster, something they found necessary to try to find out why, even Sun Dragon pairs continued to age when out of stasis. They also needed to learn why, except for May and Hermione, he and Cheki were the only ones who could maintain their Sun Dragon form without help. It had been over 100 years since he had received help from other Sun Dragons and, though he closely monitored the dragon bond, no one else had merged since.

Dragons are now, as of the year 2210, considered an acknowledged part of life on Earth and a necessary part of life on Pern, even with Thread totally eradicated. The numbers of dragons are being carefully monitored by the dragons themselves. Somehow they know when one is soon to pass and some years a single dragon egg will appear on the sands. No one tells them who or when or how, they just make sure the total number of dragons stays constant at the numbers that our first Weyrleader, Harry Potter, had finally set. It seems to be working out.

Earth still has a criminal element, but they are much reduced in status and tend to hide much better than their ancestors. One of the big things they seem to have learned is to NEVER attack anyone even remotely associated with dragons. The result is always catastrophic for anyone doing so.

Earth nations now more closely adhered to continental boundaries rather than the old national boundaries. The North American Union and the European Union, which included the old UK and Russia, are the economic powerhouses, while the Asian Union is a close third. Even the other continents are flourishing. Africa, once thought to be one of the poorest of continents is now almost neck and neck with Asia and the others were not far behind. Universal free basic education and the cheap transportation of food anywhere on the Earth or Pern helped fuel the growth. Now there are no more ignorant, malnourished poor. Everyone has a truly equal chance. Some of the World's most recent innovations have come out of the African Union.

There are 600 dragonrider Weyrs scattered all over the surface of the Earth, almost all in mountainous regions, not suitable for other development. The Weyr's properties encompassed thousands of acres so they have sufficient land to cultivate their main food crops: cattle, pigs, and other high protein animals. The Weyrs of Pern have shrunk over time as most of their inhabitants slowly left to repopulate the Earth Weyrs where they were needed more. Spath's Weyr stands as a colossal monument to the abilities of dragons, but it is almost a ghost town now with a permanent population of only 600 Dragonriders and support personnel.

Excerpt from The Weyrs of Earth by Albus Orion Potter, published 2210.

The Pern Father's Island, Aug 10, 2258...
Harry clearly remembered what the Pern Mother has told him, all those years ago.

'Every time you rebelled against some happening on our planet and forced a different outcome, you were moving in this direction. What now remains is for you to learn all you can about your new abilities and gather your power for what is to come. Don't worry, though, while your final crisis is close in planetary terms, you still have centuries of your human years before you will have to act.'

Harry considered this the ultimate crisis. He'd just had to place Hermione into stasis. The only reason Comaloth hadn't gone between or into stasis with Hermione was because Hermione had pleaded with her dragon to continue to take care of Harry for her. Harry was beyond out of it as he thought back over the intervening years since May had been put into stasis. The only 'death' of any import to him had been his son with May, Albus Orio Potter. He and his wife had died fairly close to each other and were now 'resting' on his island in a circle of plinths around the central three. He assumed that Albus had left one of his many Potter children the family estates and vaults. At this point, he no longer cared.

He wasn't even aware of who any of the current leaders were on Earth or Pern. The only ones he was aware of were Daniel, because he was The Weyrleader, and Mary, because she had taken over as Headmistress at Hogwarts. No one visited the island anymore unless Harry brought them. It seemed that those few left who knew about the island were too busy to visit and those who had never visited would never be able to find it.

He looked over at May and started when he realized she looked to be in her early 20s, maybe 22. It seemed the Planetary magic was doing what he wanted. Now if he could just figure out how to release them and keep them from dying at the same time.

The southern continent was quickly re-forested. Since not everyone was comfortable moving from tree to tree, like the Centaunans, a 100 foot wide, transcontinental road was created with the Pern Mother's and dragonrider's help. The roads were elevated by about 30 feet with wide, shallow ramps on either side of the road at each rest stop until the regenerated top soil reached it, then the road was slightly raised from the ground and the ramps were simply covered over.

Several hundred "rest stops" were also created along the road that looked similar to the emergency holds The Weyrleader had placed around the continent except there was only one level, Ground level and the roof. In most places the rest stop roof covered a significant portion of the road, in a few, it was off to one side, usually the north side of the road. The rest stops all had a relatively flat roof where grasses were planted to provide food for any grass-eating animals in the area and two ramps paralleling the road gave access. Short roads connect any rest stop any distance away from the road directly to the rest stop.

With the "Red Star" no longer a threat, the rest stops are probably overkill, but the Pern Mother cared for those on her planet that she didn't want to take any chances.

Excerpt from The Weyrs of Pern by Albus Orion Potter, published 2210.

The Pern Father's Island, Aug 10, 2358...
'Ok,' thought Harry, 'it's been 100 years since Hermione was placed into stasis and I'm no closer to any answers than I was. Time for me to do something different.

'Mother.'

'Yes, Harry,' said the Pern Mother as she appeared on his island.

'Did you always live on this planet or, like me, did you start somewhere else?'

'We did start elsewhere, Harry. If you look, you can still see the star where our planet was located.'

Harry looked through the Pern Mother's eyes and saw the brightest light in Pern's night sky. He would now be able to find it no matter what time of day or night it might be.

'How did you get here?'

'A magnificent being appeared in our sky one day when we had just attained sentience and taught us how to live peacefully with each other. Over the centuries, he helped us to discover many new things and we eventually decided we wanted to go exploring. He brought us here and left us when we assured him we could manage on our own. Of course, this was thousands of years before Thread.'

'Do you know what happened to him?'

'No, only that he left and never returned as he was. You came, though, and helped us in our time of need. Now we will get our lives back and we have those here who will protect us as well.'

'How long did it take you to get here from there?'

'It took no time at all. One moment we were all gathered up with all we wanted to take with us and the next we were here. And before you ask, I have tried all these years to try to learn how he did it, but have been unsuccessful.'

'Thank you, Mother. You have given me much to think about.'

'Think well, young Harry. Your time is fast approaching.' The Pern mother sent her love and returned to her tree.

'Trath, Comaloth, I cannot thank you both enough for staying with me and Chekiath for all these years, but we have to go someplace you cannot follow. I will not leave you here to grow old and die on your own, so it is time for you to join your riders.'

If dragons could look old, Trath and Comaloth would have done so, they were over 363 years old! They both looked at Harry, unsure of themselves. 'Harry, our riders asked us to stay with you and help you,' said Trath. 'How can we do that if you let us sleep with our riders?'

'You cannot, but Cheki and I need to merge to go where we are going and you can no longer merge. I want to put you in stasis with your riders so you will all wake at the same time and can be together again. I cannot do that if you have died before then.'

The two dragons looked unsure but knew Harry was their Weyrleader. If he said this was necessary, then they had to do it, regardless of their riders' wishes. Slowly they moved over to where their riders lay and mounted the perches there. Harry gathered his magic and cast it, causing the two dragons to shrink and then the crystal covering their riders covered them as well.

'Sleep well, dear consorts,' said Harry/Cheki. 'I hope to return you to your partners soon.'

Harry/Cheki started storing as much magic in their cores as they could. They were going to attempt something that they had a feeling was going to take a lot of energy and they didn't want to come up short, so they charged their cores to overflow. Their cores expanded and expanded again as the magic poured in. Each expansion caused them pain which soon subsided only to be repeated when their core expanded again. Finally, as night approached, they could store no more energy.

They looked up into the night sky, found the star they wanted, and … disappeared.

Somewhere in the Galaxy, an unnamed star, Day 1...
Harry/Cheki saw before them a medium-sized blue star. They appeared to be above the plane of the planetary rotation, so could see several tiny specks below them that might be planets. Taking Earth as an example, they concentrated on the one that seemed to be third out from the sun in its orbit, concentrated, and they were there.

Unnamed planet, third from its sun...
The planet was barren and cold. If it had ever had an atmosphere, it had been lost eons ago. What they saw looked like Earth's moon, arid and blasted by meteors with craters overlapping craters. The planet was almost Earth-sized but obviously cold and lifeless.

They went back to where they had been and found the planet second out from its sun.

Unnamed planet, second from its sun...
This planet was more interesting. The sun didn't put out as much energy as Earth's sun or Pern's, so evidently, a planet needed to be closer to get warm enough for life. This planet had an atmosphere and three moons careening madly around it. Two were on a plane with the rest of the planets, but the third, the inner moon, was at an angle of about 30°. It appeared that it had been captured at some time in the planet's past and was now happily causing extreme high tides all over the planet.

They drifted closer to the planet until they could sense what life it might contain and were surprised when they sensed something familiar clinging to one of the flanks of one of the larger mountains. It was above the highest of the high tides, but the tough rock of the mountain had been severely eroded over the millennia of new moon-generated tides. They didn't think the mountain would remain a few scant thousands of years from now.

They drifted close enough to see what life forms they had found and were surprised to see tall trees bending and swaying like grass in a stiff breeze. As they drew closer, they could see something clinging to the trees and as they got even closer, they could see six-legged creatures carefully moving among the larger branches, gathering lichens and other, unidentifiable, items from the bark of the tree.

As they watched, the creatures slowly made their way to a deep hole in the main trunk which appeared to have been bored straight into the widest part of the trunk. As the wild winds calmed somewhat, they saw one of the creatures rise its front two legs up into the air and wave its slower companions on to enter faster. Suddenly they knew, they had found the Centaunans left behind when the Pern Mother left her original planet. They were going to die in a few thousand years if they didn't do anything to help.

They couldn't keep referring to the planet as unknown, so they decided to call it Centaun for now. Later, they could change their nomenclature to whatever the natives called it. For now, they had more pressing problems. How to get rid of the rogue moon. They decided to call the sun Aludra since they needed to call it something.

Centaun, Day 4...
They had studied the planetary mechanics for three days now and finally had what they hoped was a possible solution. The rogue was now almost in position, so there was no time to waste. They faded to a specific spot on the Rogue moon and waited until it was well into its rise above the planetary plane. Then they … faded ... while on the surface so that they would end up giving the rogue a significant amount of thrust in a specific direction. The moon was now in an escape orbit and would eventually impact the pale blue sun.

Centaun, Day 6...
It took another two days for Centaun's oceans to calm down. There were still low and high tides because there were still two moons, but they were more reasonable because the twin moons were further away from the surface and moving much slower.

They moved closer to the tree where they had found the Centaunans and came to rest, floating in the air well within sight of the entrance to the Centaunans home. Harry might have been able to fit into the hole, but Cheki would never fit and they weren't about to split up now.

Eventually, the Centaunans hesitantly emerged into a much calmer, therefore, newly unpredictable world. Some of them actually seemed to stager since they were overcompensating for tree motion that was no longer there. It was not unlike a sailor who steps off their vessel onto land after a long cruise. The Centaunans needed to get their "land legs" back.

They slowly faded into the sight of the Centaunans who had gathered at the opening. Once they were totally visible, Harry said, 'I have removed the rogue moon that was causing you so much trouble. It will not return.'

Of course, he didn't say those exact words, he projected images of what he had done and what the results were going to be.

The Centaunans looked at them in awe and Harry/Cheki heard a response they were not prepared for, 'FATHER HAS RETURNED!'

Centaun, Day 7...
The speed of information interchange was truly phenomenal when talking mind to mind. They had gotten the Centaunan's entire history, at least what they remembered of it, in a few hours. Millenia ago, Father had arrived and pulled them out of being animals and into intelligence. Then several centuries, he had taken all that wanted to follow and taken them to the promised land. The ones remaining were the descendants of those who didn't want to leave. Sometime after Father had left, the oceans started to act crazy and try to kill them. The Centaunans had reacted by climbing the highest mountains and sturdiest trees to survive. The ones in this tree had no idea if any others even existed.

Centaun, Day 12...
Harry/Cheki had performed a survey of the planet and found at least fifty other enclaves of Centaunans. Since they had no name for themselves, they had accepted Harry's name for themselves. After all, he was FATHER! Harry/Cheki, using their superb imaging ability, gave the Centaunans a vivid mental map of their world with all the found communities clearly marked with potential avenues where they could meet and trade, or just combine the gene pool to give themselves a better chance of survival. As Father had explored and discovered, he had also healed any Centaunans needing it as much as he could.

Now that FATHER had returned and solved their problem for them, they were quite happy to remain where they were, on their own planet. Now, Harry had to make a decision. They swiftly rose from the surface of the planet and gathered as much energy as they could from the weak sun. Then they faded.

Centaun, Day -365,250,000...
Harry/Cheki found a delightful planet with primate-like Centaunans roaming from tree to tree all over the surface of the richly blue planet. They found a good spot with a large clearing where they could settle and soak up the sun's energy and wait for the Centaunans to become curious. Almost immediately, they started talking to a precocious young female, who they eventually called Mother. They soon started to infuse her with magical power. It had to come from them because the planet had no magical field of its own.

Centaun, Day -1,095,750...
Mother now had powers that came close to what Harry had. He didn't really want to leave Centaun, because he knew what was going to happen, but he also knew it would eventually be put right.

'Cheki, Mother isn't growing any older. What did we do to make that happen?'

'We simply needed her to be with us the entire time,' said Cheki, thoughtfully.

'Let's think about that more, but right now, we need to get all these Centaunans and additional plants, animals, and insects to Pern.'

'Do we really need to take the fleas?'

'Yes, some of the birds we are taking eat nothing else. Until they find something else on Pern they like better, we cannot take away their main food source. Don't forget, we were able to defeat them.'

'I know, but it was a real pain while it lasted,' pouted Cheki.

'Quit pouting, you big baby! Let's get this load to Pern so we can start our next project.'

Pern, 5,000 turns before Ronan's accidental 'discovery'...
'This new place looks delightful,' said Mother, as she watched some of her friends from Centaun planting while others carefully released the animals and insects they'd brought with them. Everyone here would have to find their own place, but the planet had much more to offer than their old home. For one, the huge tracts of tall trees that swept the sky with their tops spread as if they were trying to sweep the stars from the very sky. It would make a perfect place for her friends to spread out and live in peace with the rest of the planet.

The planet had some low-level life on it, up to the level of medium-sized invertebrates and an inquisitive flying lizard, but nothing that could endanger them while they settled in. The seas seemed to be teeming with life, but her people were not great swimmers in any case, so they were not concerned. All life on the planet seemed to have a symmetry similar to the Centaunans, in that it had six limbs in one form or another.

'I'm sorry, but I must leave you now,' said Father. 'I have specific tasks I must accomplish before I can return.'

'Can you tell me what we must do to prosper?'

'Sorry, just do what you feel led to do. I cannot tell you what will happen ahead of time or you will not learn what you need to flourish. Know that I will return to you soon in planetary terms, which you have come to know well. You may not recognize me right away when I return, but you will eventually know it's me.'

'Thank you Father for helping us learn how to be civilized. We have gained so much from your help and thank you for what you have given us today.'

Harry/Cheki felt guilty for leaving them but knew everything must occur in a set order for his future to remain safe. He knew that Mother would forgive him, he just hoped he would be able to forgive himself.

Pern, Beginning of the fourth Pass...
Harry/Cheki faded to Benden Weyr just as Thread was being fought nearby. They didn't need to worry about Thread, due to the Runes carved on Cheki's scales being replicated into their Sun Dragon form. What they were here to do today was much more important than fighting Thread.

'We must be close, but not too close,' thought Harry. 'I just hope we are able to closely follow her and maintain contact when she goes Between.'

'I don't think it will be a problem, Harry,' said Cheki. 'She will jump Between, we will fade to follow her. Remember, it is intent.'

A scream ripped through the air above the Weyr and humans looked up in alarm. A bronze was wheeling around the bowl in obvious distress. One wing smoked ominously and the rider seemed to be badly injured but still able to cling to his dragon.

"The Weyrling practice! There must have had an accident!" Fara gasped, then turned and ran for her Weyrhealer kit.

The injured bronze bellowed in pain again and there was a visible ripping along its wing sails as the wing came apart. Gravely injured, the dragon lost all lift and plunged to the ground, right where Fara was standing with her kit. She never had a chance, it was so sudden.

All sound in the Weyr ceased and every eye turned to the sight.

Sidraneth, Fara's queen, bellowed in anguish and the entire Weyr's dragon population began to keen, as the gold dragon sprang aloft and blinked from existence.

Harry/Cheki moved even faster than Sidraneth. They reached her just as she Went Between. They cradled her body to them as she went limp and they faded to …

Earth, 120,000 B.C. …
Harry/Cheki gently laid the barely conscious Queen dragon on the ground near a steaming pool of mineral-laced water outside a semi-active volcano on what would become Disko Island. They gently cast a sleeping spell on the dragon and then turned to create a Weyr in the side of the mountain, one that would remain for many generations of dragons. When they were finished, they captured a mammoth and put it on the island, near the sleeping Queen. The mammoth screamed in fear and started to limp away from the two huge dragons, but it couldn't move too fast, it had been injured recently and had been lagging far behind its herd when this huge new predator had captured it.

They enervated the Queen and as she stirred, they spoke to her, 'Sidraneth, you have lost your rider, but you are needed here to birth a new race of dragons that mankind will come to know and love. You are no longer on Pern but are on Earth of long ago. You must live so that your eggs may hatch. You must keep them together and teach them all they need to know to survive.'

'Who are you that you can snatch me from Between and bring me to a place so far from my home?'

'You may call me Father. I am descended from your dragons and know that if you do not live then many thousands will not exist in your future and we will have failed mankind. Your fight with Thread is over. Now you must fight for your very survival and that of your hatchlings. They will not understand not having riders, but you must keep them together so dragons may, once again, partner with our humans.'

'I have never seen a dragon like you before,' said Sidraneth. 'You are so much bigger than any I have ever seen before and the wrong color. I can hear the truth in your words, but can you give me another sign that your words are a true foretelling.'

Harry concentrated their magic and suddenly there was a gigantic, male bronze dragon with a human male on its back in front of the Queen.

Cheki landed and Harry jumped down to the ground to walk over to the Queen. "I am Harry Potter, Chekiath's rider, and a human male. I am also The Weyrleader for thousands of dragons. I have two consorts that await my return, but I must ensure that you are well taken care of here before I leave. They are many years in this future, but we will watch over you at least until your first clutch hatches. We have carved a Weyr for you in the side of this mountain. It is warm now, but will slowly get colder over the years. Do your best, it will be enough."

Sidraneth looked from the huge Bronze, Chekiath, to the human rider with wonder. This is what her race and humans could accomplish? Her heart ached for her rider, but she had to try. The entire dragon race was now in her paws.

Harry reached out his hand and Sidraneth lowered her head to his touch. When hand met jaw, she momentarily felt as if a lightning bolt had struck her and then all her aches and pains disappeared and she felt renewed strength and purpose coursing through her.

Harry remounted Cheki and they merged again. They sent their love for the Mother of all Dragons and showed her the present they had brought for her. They also showed her where more could be found nearby. Then, as she watched, they faded from her view. Father indeed! If she was the Mother of all Dragons, she had just met the Father of all Dragons!

Earth, 119,600 B.C. …
Sidraneth had just passed away and the dragon clans were starting to disperse. Father had remained true to his word, he had watched over her while she raised her broods. What none of the other dragons knew was that they had un-merged twice during her 400 years to allow her to breed with Chekiath. Harry wanted to ensure there was no problem with inbreeding among the dragons. Both times, Cheki had cast a glamour over himself to appear to be a similar size and color as the rest of the dragons.

Now it was finally time to return home. He was eager to see his consorts again and all his old friends.

The Pern Father's Island, Apr 28, 2480...
When the Father faded in on Pern, he immediately tapped into the dragon consciousness of both planets. All was still well, almost 500 years after his birth, but many thousands of years in his experience. Harry/Cheki now realized they truly were the Pern Father.

They gathered their magic to themselves and created a new intent before casting it out to all the current 'inhabitants' of the island. Not only would they be young, fit, and retain all their memories, but they would live because the Father wished it.

Harry and Cheki unmerged and landed next to the two occupied central crypts. Harry cast the spell, with Cheki's help, to cancel the stasis on their two consorts. The crystal covering retracted into the crypt so rapidly it seemed to disappear. Then, two groggy dragons started to grow until they reached their normal sizes. As the two dragons stepped off their perches, the two women lying at their feet slowly sat up and blinked their eyes.

'What's wrong, Harry? Didn't it work?' asked a confused Hermione.

'Look at yourself and May and tell me if it worked,' said Harry. He smiled, as Cheki was already nuzzling with his consorts … it had been a long time!

Harry stood between his two wives, gathered them into his arms, and said, "There will never be another reason for us to be separated. Soon we'll be joined by all our friends and we can start a new era of exploration for dragon-kind. There are enough planets out there that dragons will no longer be forced to limit their population and I know how to find them.

"Well, that's in the future," said May. "Right now I just want to cuddle and feel my dragons in my mind again."

Hermione didn't argue, for the moment, she was just enjoying being held.

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