Don't Tickle a Sleeping Dragon

Chapter Eight

They set out the next morning, weighed down by supplies, but the excitement of their quest spurred them on. Amy, in particular, talked and talked. She asked Godric and Salazar question after question about the different kinds of dragons. How big were they? Could they really fly? Why did they hoard gold? Did they breathe fire or was that just something men told their wives to impress them?

Salazar laughed at the last question. "No, they really breathe fire," he answered. "Which is why you need to practice your Flame Freezing Charm."

"I'm getting better!" she exclaimed, taking out her wand and demonstrating her technique.

"Almost there," he proclaimed. Her smile at this bit of encouragement, thus far unheard of from him, lit up her face, and she skipped along side of him, humming a happy tune. Godric looked back at him with a puzzled glance. Salazar just shrugged at him and took her hand in his.

"There's a Muggle village up ahead," Godric said nonchalantly several hours later. The sun had started to dip down and the light faded as it went. They would need to stop soon. "Maybe there will be an inn we can stop at."

"No," Salazar said. Godric sighed. Amy looked at him curiously.

"You don't want to stop?"

"No."

"You'd rather sleep on the cold, hard, rocky ground?"

"Yes." It seemed simple enough to him. He didn't understand what was so hard to grasp.

"Because it's a Muggle town?"

"Yes. Do you have a problem with that?" The question came out sounding much harsher than he intended. She narrowed her eyes.

"I come from a non-magical family, Salazar," she reminded him needlessly.

"But you aren't a Muggle; you're a witch," he argued.

"That's hardly the point!"

"Then perhaps you'll be so kind as to enlighten me what exactly the point is because frankly I'm a little confused. I don't like Muggles. You aren't a Muggle. And I thought I made it pretty clear that I did like you!"

With a huff, she threw her pack to the ground and stormed off into the woods. Salazar started after her, but Godric threw out an arm and stopped him in his tracks. He watched as she disappeared into the brush as anger, frustration, and oddly enough, a certain amount of sadness battled within his chest.

"We're doomed to fail, aren't we?" he asked Godric.

"You certainly are if you keep up like this. She doesn't understand, Salazar. And she won't until you tell her." Salazar shook his head, even though he knew his friend had a point.

"I should go find her," he said, "before she attacks another innocent troll."

Godric nodded, dropping his arm and reaching over to retrieve Amy's bag. "I'll set up camp."

He found her sitting up against a large tree trunk with her knees pulled up to her chin. She looked thoughtful and he wondered what she might be thinking.

"I left my home when I was only fifteen. My mother had taught me some magic, but not a lot. My father was useless, really, spent all his time tinkering with ridiculous inventions that never worked while our small farm went neglected," he said with no introduction. She looked up at him surprised, but she didn't interrupt him, just moved over so that he could join her.

"I met a monk—a devout man and a very powerful wizard. He taught me everything I know. All the herbs and plants that go into potions, how to read people, how to defend myself, how to read and think—he paused, trying not to let his emotions get carried away. "He was like a father to me. I thought the world of him."

"What happened?" Amy whispered.

"The Bishop, a Muggle man, discovered he was a wizard. It was the work of the devil, he claimed, and ordered my mentor to cease all of his spells and discard all of his potions. It broke his heart to hear such an order. Surely, you must know, what it is like to try and not practice your magic. It's impossible."

Amy nodded sympathetically. "At least I didn't know. I couldn't help myself now."

"Exactly. He couldn't. I remember his praying for hours and hours, for days on end, for an answer on what he should do. He decided to leave the Abbey and live in a small cottage in the woods. I pleaded with him to stay, but his mind was made up. It nearly broke his heart to go. The night he had planned on leaving, the church officials arrived." He stopped and took a breath.

"They dragged him from the Abbey, out into the streets where everyone could see him. And then they killed him." He didn't go into the detail of it. It was too much for her to hear, too much for him to relive again. "Then they burned the Abbey. They said it had been disgraced beyond measure and there was nothing else to do."

"But, but he was a wizard. He could have stopped them!" Amy cried, grabbing for his hands.

"He wouldn't use his magic against Muggles. He was absolutely adamant about that," Salazar said, bitterness biting at the back of his throat at the memory of it. He clutched her outstretched hands in his, surprised at the comfort they gave him.

"Not even to save himself?"

He shook his head sadly. "Not even then. I think he was so overcome with grief that the life he had always known was being taken away from him that he didn't care what he did to them."

"Salazar," she said softly, her hand reaching up to stroke his face. "I'm so sorry."

"Do you understand now why I would rather sleep on the cold, hard, rocky ground?"

"Yes." She nodded.

"Good," he said, suddenly very aware of how much he had just revealed. He felt very open and vulnerable, and even though she had accepted his explanation and sat gently stroking his face, he felt the need to lighten the atmosphere, to do anything but think of the past and its horrors.

"I would feel better though," he stopped, wondering if he should continue.

"What?" He loved how eager she looked.

"If you would deign to kiss me."

"Consider yourself deigned," she said, leaning over and pressing her lips to his. Impatient for more, he pulled her into his lap and held her tight as she slipped her tongue past his lips.

"You know not all Muggles are bad," Amy said when they broke apart.

"Your family didn't mistreat you when you unknowingly performed magic?"

She stiffened. "That's different," she said.

"How?"

She shifted in his embrace, avoiding his eyes. He noticed she hadn't spoken much about her own family history beyond that short glimpse the first night she had met Salazar and Godric.

"We should get back. Godric will start to worry," she said, ignoring his question. He stopped her as she tried to stand up.

"I don't think he expects us back soon," Salazar said, covering her mouth with his again. He understood her reluctance to speak about such things, and truthfully, his own confessions today had been more than enough. Instead, sitting in the shade of a great oak tree, he held her tighter and kissed her silly.

"I love you," she murmured breathless many moments later, resting her head in the crook of his neck. He responded in kind, just as pleased to hold her as he had been to kiss her. Her lips tickled his neck as she asked him question after question about the magical world, and he punctuated his lesson with kisses on her shoulders up her neck and along her jaw.

In the future, he would look back and remember these stolen moments as the happiest of his life.


Three days later and they had finally found their dragon.

The opening to the cave wasn't very large, which suggested that the dragon also wasn't very big. Smoke curled up and out of the entrance, and the trees and bushes around the area were bare of any leaves. The ground was scorched.

"The smoke can't be a good sign," Amy said.

"No," Godric agreed.

"We need a plan," Salazar said.

"First, we need to know what we are dealing with," Godric said. "We need to get closer." Amy looked at Salazar skeptically, but he just shrugged and followed Godric, who had already started crawling closer. After several long and miserable moments of scooting through spiky branches and over rocky ground, they reached the end of the brush. Once they left it, there would be no more cover. Nowhere to hide. Without hesitation, Godric tiptoed his way to the cave opening.

"You wanted to see a dragon, and here's your chance," Salazar whispered to Amy, motioning for her to follow. She inhaled deeply, found her courage, and pushed through the remaining branches. He followed behind her, bringing up the rear.

"Do you see anything?" Amy asked Godric, who had the clearest view into the dragon's lair.

"Just a tail and not much else. I can't tell how big he is from the tip of his tail," he complained quietly. Salazar peeked around Amy to see a giant sized tail, with green scales tipped with red. It came to a rather spiky point, and he hoped he never had the chance to see how sharp it really was.

"It's big enough," Salazar hissed. He pulled on Amy's shoulders. They had all the information they were going to get and remain alive. They needed to get out of there. But Godric ignored him, and then before either Amy or Salazar could stop him, he took out his sword and poked the dragon's tail.

"Are you insane?" But Godric didn't have time to answer.

Salazar watched in amazement as a scaly green dragon shot out of the cave. The roar echoed in his ears, vibrating in his chest. Godric's stumbled backwards out of the way and he dropped his sword. The dragon flew overhead, spitting fire down in their direction. All three of them fell to the ground, rolling out of the way. What little grass was left was quickly lit aflame.

Frantically, they crawled back towards the trees. Salazar grabbed Amy by the arm and started running. He could hear Godric's footfalls behind him, and the flapping of the dragon's wings overhead. The tree canopy hid them from view, but that didn't stop it from breathing fire down. Flames ripped through the branches, leaping from tree to tree. A spark lit up Amy's sleeve. She stopped with a yelp.

"Salazar, help!"

"Aguamenti!" A stream of water poured out of the tip of his wand, putting out the flame. The second it was smothered and gone, he grabbed her and continued to run. They ran for what felt for like miles until they could no longer hear the dragon circling overhead. Salazar slowed to a stop, wheeling around onto Godric.

"What in MERLIN'S name did you THINK you were DOING?" he yelled.

"I think that we know it's a Common Welsh Green," Godric said with a cheeky grin. Salazar couldn't stop himself. He reached out and punched him in the face.

"What was that for?" he asked, stunned. Blood trickled from his nose. Salazar rubbed at his hand where it smarted. It had just started feeling better from the last time he had hit Godric.

"For almost killing me. For almost killing Amy," he said, motioning to her. She bit at her lip and looked down at the ground. The arm of her dress was black with soot and her hair stuck to her face with perspiration.

"It was a stupid idea," she said. She paused. "But I think we've learned an important lesson today," she stated grandly, a small smile dancing at her lips.

He couldn't believe she could smile at the situation, but it was catching nonetheless. "Never stab a sleeping dragon," Salazar suggested.

"It was more of a poke," Godric said in his defense. "A tickle might even be closer to the truth."

"Please don't ever tickle me with your sword," Amy said, feigning horror.

"That's it then," Salazar declared with a laugh. "Never tickle a sleeping dragon."

"We are going to have to do something about it," Amy said, suddenly sounding very serious. Salazar was surprised she didn't mention trying to tame it first.

"I suggest something slightly more than tickling," Salazar said.

"Time for a strategy," Godric stated grandly. And so they set to work.

Their strategy it turned out was more frightening to Salazar than perhaps the dragon itself.

"Flying?" he asked again just to be sure he had heard Amy right.

"It makes perfect sense!" she exclaimed. He had once thought her incessant enthusiasm was irritating, but more and more he found it endearing, though in this instance he wished he could talk her out of it.

"She's right, Salazar," Godric said. Salazar knew better than to trust his oldest and bestest friend to back him up on this matter, especially as he loved broomsticks nearly as much as he loved women. "With three of us flying around its head, it won't know which of us to attack. It's bloody brilliant if you ask me."

Amy beamed at the praise. It had been her suggestion after all. Salazar resisted the urge to pout. It wasn't very manly and she did have a point. Although so did he.

"But I can't fly," he reminded them.

"If I can learn a Flame Freezing Charm then you can learn something as simple as flying a broomstick," Amy told him. Salazar snorted at the word simple.

"Will you teach me?" he asked.

"Of course!" she said. "But I'll warn you, I'm not an easy taskmaster." She tried to look stern, no doubt remembering the way he berated her on her own spell work, but her lips curled up at the edges.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," he answered, pulling her close. She gasped in surprise, but easily acquiesced when he kissed her. Godric's clearing of his throat reminded them they weren't alone.

"Flying, it is."


Three days later and after hours of lessons, Salazar found himself readying himself for battle. Flying had turned out to be easier than he had originally thought. Once he got the broomstick off the ground that was. The first thirty minutes he had tried in vain to coax it into his hand. It had merely wiggled around on the ground a bit. But as soon as he got into the air, he realized what Godric and Amy had been talking about.

He still wasn't convinced it was a better mode of travel when compared to the ease of Apparating or even a Portkey, but he felt prepared to fight this dragon. A good thing, since it sat stewing in its cave not fifty yards away.

"Ready?" Godric asked. Salazar and Amy nodded. They swung their legs over the brooms. Salazar gulped and said a prayer, desperately hoping he could fly this blasted stick straight. He had managed it under Godric's guidance, but with a fire breathing dragon bearing down on him it was a completely different situation.

They flew up and over the trees, until the cave came into view. Smoke drifted lazily up over the treetops just as it had before.

"This is it," Godric said. He was the unspoken leader of the group. "On three."

"1…" Salazar glanced over at Amy. She had her bottom lip between her teeth and she took a few deep breaths.

"2…" This was his last chance to say something before they became the dragon's next dinner.

"Amy," he said softly, flying closer to her broom. She looked over at him with a nervous expression. "You can do this. You're a witch, and a powerful one at that. This dragon doesn't stand a chance against you."

It was just what she needed to hear. Her smile bloomed across her face. "Thank you," she said, blushing, and then with a mischievous grin she said, "Good luck, Sally!"

"3!"

He didn't have time to respond, but turned the end of his broom towards the ground in a steep dive. The grass came up quickly and just before he met it, he pulled back up. Their shouts had alerted the sleeping dragon to their presence, and he crawled out of his cave with a very disgruntled roar. The accompanying flame nearly hit Salazar, but he grabbed his wand and used the Flame Freezing Charm. The flames froze into icicles, dropping to the ground with a clatter.

Amy and Godric, he noticed circled around the dragon's head, trying to move its attention away from Salazar. He flew up and joined them, pointing his wand and casting curses every second he wasn't trying to avoid the dragon's flames or flying into a tree. But the thick scaly skin blocked their every attempt.

"I need to be on the ground!" Godric yelled.

"What?" Salazar shouted. Godric motioned to the sword, still sheathed at his side. He couldn't fly and wield it at the same time. But if Amy and Salazar could distract the dragon, then Godric might have a chance to hit the small vulnerable underside of its belly.

He nodded his understanding, flying in a circle and pointing his wand at the dragon's head. The curse hit it square in the eye, and it screamed in agony, flipping its horned tail in the air. Salazar watched in horror as the spikes hit Amy as she flew past, tearing the arm of her dress. But his attention was drawn back to the dragon immediately as a burst of flames shot past. The heat of it nearly overcame him, and he gripped his broom a little tighter to keep from falling off.

"Where's Godric going? Is he alright?" Amy shouted, flying closer. Salazar looked up to see her hovering near him. She pointed her wand in the down, and he realized that he had only survived the next burst due to her quick action and skill with the Flame Freezing Charm.

"Don't worry about him. We need to coax it up into the air so he can get into place and then drive it back down while still distracting it," he explained hurriedly, dodging another burst of flame. The dragon stretched its long skinny neck into the air, its eyes blinking rapidly while it tried to keep them in its view.

"You go that way—" Salazar pointed. "And I'll go this way." She nodded and sped off before another flame could reach her. They flew around and around, sometimes cutting out of the pattern, so that the creature didn't know where to look. The moment it focused on one, the other would swoop down with a barrage of curses. After several rounds of this, it got tired of the game, and finally unfurled its wings, flapping them in rapid succession.

It rose up slowly, and with a great groan. Salazar looped around under its neck to get a glimpse of Godric. He immerged from the bushes, his sword gleaming in the sunlight. Their eyes met, and Godric nodded to Salazar that he was ready.

"Now!" he shouted to Amy. She dove from her position above the dragon and began screaming spells. Shots of colored light mixed with fiery orange of the dragon's fire. Salazar flew up and then down, joining Amy.

Confused and surprised at this sudden onslaught, the dragon retreated, but not without a fight. It swung its horned tail and belched even more fire than before. It was hell. It was worse than the troll in the forest or the charging Manticore he had faced with Godric several years before because this time he wasn't sure he would live.

Suddenly, a strangled and screeching noise erupted from the beast. Its tail twitched, but with less force than before and it slumped down, hitting the ground with a loud thud. Salazar looked down to see Godric scurrying to get out of its downward path. He still clutched his sword, but this time it was covered in blood.

They had done it. They had really done it. He landed, skidding to a halt on the torched ground with Amy right behind him. With a shout, he threw the broomstick to the ground and grabbed her by the waist, spinning her around. She clutched his neck and laughed with joy.

Godric dropped his sword with a heavy sigh. Salazar dropped Amy gently back to the ground, then turned to his friend and held out his hand.

"Well done," he said. Godric took it, and then pulled him closer for a hug.

"I couldn't have done it without you." He released Salazar and looked at Amy. Smoke rose up from the tendrils of hair that escaped her braid and blood seeped through the tears in her dress, but she had a huge smile of her face. "Or you," Godric added.

"Thank you," she said, coming closer and gathering both of them into a hug.

"Shall we go and have a look at our prize," Salazar suggested a few moments later. They quickly agreed, and with Godric leading the way, the small party picked their way through the now scorched terrain, past the smoking body of the slain dragon, and into his glittering cave. They found a mountain of gold coins, jewels, and an assortment of treasures.

"There's enough here for a school, don't you think?" Amy asked, her face aglow at the prospect.

"More than enough," Godric assured her. Salazar looked at him questioningly. He just shrugged. "I think one dragon is enough for me. It's time for a completely new challenge."

Amy looked at Salazar with an expectant look. He nodded his agreement. "Now that we have the finances we can look into the logistics. It won't be easy," he said to Amy as she jumped up and down with glee. "We'll need a location, and more than just the three of us to get it off the ground."

"But it will be wonderful!" Amy exclaimed. "I can be your first student!"

Salazar laughed, nodding, and leaned down to pick out a jeweled tiara, glittering with gold, diamonds, and emeralds, and set it on Amy's head. "A real crown, for a real lady," he proclaimed, presenting her to Godric as a princess. And then he and Godric scraped and bowed, shouting "Long live Ameera!"

She laughed, blushing red. Reaching down, she fished out a silver ring from among the coins, and grabbing Salazar's hand, she placed it on him.

"What is this for?" he asked.

"Every princess wants a prince," she said, her eyes sparkling. He pulled her close, his arms encircling her waist.

"And will you embroider cushions for me while you wait for me to return home?" She narrowed her eyes and placed her hands on his chest.

"Never!" Her defiant attitude reminded him of that very first day.

"What would you have done if we hadn't discovered you in the forest that day?" he asked.

"I don't know," she said thoughtfully. Somewhere in the background, the clinking of metal on metal rang out as Godric pawed through another pile of treasure. "I never would have learned I was a witch, but I'm sure I would have had adventures all the same."

Salazar laughed. "Of that, I have no doubt," he assured her.

"The more important question is, of course, what would you have done if you hadn't met me?" she asked with a sly grin.

"I'm afraid to imagine the outcome," he said. And then he kissed her.

Epilogue

Most often such a story would end with the words "and they lived happily ever after," but this tale, dear reader, is not one of those. Salazar Slytherin and Ameera, known as Amy, did live happily for a short time.

They married. Filled with joy at her new life, Amy felt compelled to put to right her torn relationship with her family. Salazar refused to visit the Muggles that had driven her from her home, but she stayed fast to her decision, and went without him.

The details of her familial visit are lost to history, but the sad outcome is not. They did not, as she no doubt hoped, clutch her to their breasts or proclaim her as the prodigal daughter. Instead, her revelation that she was a witch led to her untimely demise at her own father's hands.

Salazar blamed himself. He shouldn't have let her go. Godric argued there was no stopping her.

He hadn't taught her enough defensive spells to protect herself. Godric assured him that with her tender heart she probably never thought to use even the ones she did know against her own family. She was too tenderhearted to comprehend patricide.

He had told her she had been a witch. And it was this knowledge that had ultimately killed her. To that Godric had very little to say.

Years later when they would argue about the admission of Muggleborns to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, when Rowena and Helga's logical arguments fell on deaf ears, Godric would quietly say, "Think of Amy, Salazar."

To which he would always hiss in reply, "I am."

But let us not remember them for what they became, but rather what they were—a young couple in love who fought and killed a mighty dragon.