The trio were in Herbology when they received a note from Hagrid. It contained only two words in Hagrid's messy scrawl
Ron wanted to skip Herbology and run right down to see it but Hermione steadfastly refused. "Herbology is a very important class, Ronald and the exams are not that far away that we can miss a class. It could be important."
"Come on, Hermione, how many times do you get to see a dragon hatching. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Unfortunately for Ron, Neville was with Hermione this time so they waited until after class, before rushing down to Hagrid's hut.
"Yer jus' in time." Hagrid was nearly giddy with excitement. "It's nearly out." The egg had been moved to the table. It was lying on its side with deep cracks running across it. Something was moving inside, a funny clicking noise was coming from it.
They watched with bated breath as all at once there was a scrapping noise and the pieces of egg shell fell apart. The baby dragon flopped on the table. It was an ugly beast. Its wings were too large for its skinny black body.
It sneezed and sparks shot out from its snout.
"Isn't he beau'iful?" Hagrid reached out to pet the dragon, which snapped at his fingers. "Bless 'im, look. He knows his mommy."
"Hagrid, how fast do Norwegian Ridgeback's grow, exactly?" Hermione asked.
"He'll be full grown in four months."
"And where are you going to keep him?"
"Oh well I'll think of some'in' won't I. Can't just abandon him. He'll starve, poor li'l' tyke." The dragon was currently gnawing on a tea kettle sitting on the table.
"Hagrid, how about you send him to live in Romania?" Ron said. "He'll be lonely, being the only dragon around. If he goes to Romania, my brother Charlie would take real good care of him and he'll have loads of other dragons to play with."
"I dunno, Ron..." Hagrid looked at his 'baby' sadly.
"Hagrid," Hermione consoled him, "he can't stay here. He'll soon be too big for your hut, and what if someone catches him? He won't be easy to hide."
The little dragon belched and set a puff of fire at Neville. He ducked just in time and the chair he was sitting on caught fire. Hermione was able to put it out with a quick water spell.
It took some convincing but in the end, Hagrid agreed to send the newly christened 'Norbert' to Charlie in Romania.
It took a few more days before they got a reply back from Charlie.
How are you? Thanks for your letter - I'd be glad to take the dragon, but it won't be easy getting it here. How did he get it, anyway? I think the best thing would be to send it with some friends that are coming out to see me. Trouble is, they can't be seen carrying an illegal dragon.
Can you get the Ridgeback up to the tallest tower at midnight on Sunday? They can meet you there and take it away while it's still dark.
Send me an answer as soon as possible.
"It'll be risky." Hermione said.
"We have to risk it. Have you seen Norbert lately? He's the size of Fang and going through dead rats by the crateful. I almost got bitten the other day."
"Neville's right." Ron said. "The dragon's got to go."
Hermione sighed and nodded. They sent off a quick reply and waited nervously for Sunday.
They would have felt sorry for Hagrid when the time came to say good bye to Norbert if they hadn't been so worried about what they had to do.
"He's got lots of rats and some brandy fer the journey," Hagrid said in a muffled voice, "an' I packed 'is teddy bear, in case he gets lonely."
How they got the crate containing Norbert up to the tower, without getting caught, they never knew. Hermione kept a look out while Ron and Neville carried the crate, but the trip was not a quiet one. The dragon was heavy and the two boy were not gentle with it. Norbert was screeching is discomfort.
Midnight ticked closer and closer as they slowly made their way to the tower. The trip was made slower by them having to duck into classrooms every time they thought they heard something, but for all their fear, no teacher appeared and they made it to the tower without incident.
They waited in the night air, the crate on the ground in front of them until four brooms appeared against the cloudy night sky.
Charlie's friends were a cheerful lot and showed them the harness they had rigged up between their brooms to carry the little dragon. They all helped to buckle Norbert in safely and they all shook hands, their hearts much lighter now that Norbert was going… going… gone.
The trip back to the common room was a little more eventful. With the hard part of the evening over, they were less careful and almost ran over Mrs Norris. The trio ran, bolting down a corridor, trying the doors on either side until they reached a dead end.
"Now what?" Ron asked.
"What is it my lovey? Students out of bed?" Filch's voice echoed down the corridor. "We'll catch the little monsters and string 'em up by their ankles. Just like we used to."
They looked at each other, eye's wide with horror.
"Out of the way." Hermione said, pushing at Ron who blocked the last door.
"But it's locked."
Hermione jabbed her wand at the lock. "Alohamora." It swung silently open and the trio tumbled through, closing it just as Filch rounded the corner.
They held their breath, not releasing it until Filch had disappeared and they let out a gigantic sigh of relief. The relief however was short lived as they turned around and saw a huge three headed dog breathing down their necks, teeth bared, saliva dripping from its fangs.
Neville summed up what they were all thinking. "Oh bullocks."
They couldn't get the door open fast enough and this time they were silent as they raced as fast as they could to the Gryffindor tower.
"What is Dumbledore thinking, keeping a monster like that in the school? And here I thought a dragon was bad enough." Ron asked, panting.
"That's not all Ron, didn't you notice?" Hermione said. "That was the third floor corridor. The one containing Dumbledore's plans for Harry."
"What could that dog have to do with Harry?" Neville asked.
"Maybe he was going to give him to Harry as a pet." Ron suggested.
"Who does he think Harry is? Hagrid?" Neville asked.
"Yeah, that thing seemed more like something Hagrid would love to have as a pet."
"Well no matter," Hermione said, "if it's been here this whole time and no one's noticed it can't be doing any harm. Let's just go to bed and forget about it. We have classes tomorrow."
Alex was right. The homesickness did pass. Harry got caught up in his classes, played games with the other students, wrote to his friends and generally just began to enjoy being at the school.
A month into the term new letters arrived from Hogwarts. There was the usual letters from Hermione, Ron and Neville, though he was more than a little surprised about the content. A dragon? What kind of crazy school did they go to? And what did a three headed dog have to do with him? He wasn't allowed to keep pets.
Along with those letters, though, there was another.
I asked you to owl me and was expecting to hear from you before now. I suppose you have been on holiday. Well I have decided to write to you instead.
I was surprised to find out you were living with muggles. How were you able to learn magic with them around? How long have you been living with Grangers' family. I don't know how you stand her. She always so bossy.
I admit to being curious as to how you came to be at the Academy as well. They never take first years. You probably had loads of training before school, right?
Owl me back as soon as you can.
Harry was a bit surprised to hear from him. After all he had only met the boy once and Hermione had said he was a bit of a snob. Oh well, he supposed it was a by-product of his fame. It couldn't hurt to write back.
Misha and Alex did take him to the Quidditch game in Germany. They had sent tickets to the others as well so they were all going. His one trip to the Alps aside, Harry didn't have much experience with other countries and felt very out of place. Fortunately he was not the only one who didn't speak the language. Drew, Owen and Christie were dependent on the others for translations.
"Don't worry Harry, you'll start languages next year." Misha assured him. "You'll get to pick which languages you want to study."
The game was a semi-final match for the German National Vogler Shield, between the Kiel Kriegers and the Frankfurt Falken's. They were playing in the stadium of Frankfurt, completely surrounded by muggle territory. "It was built over a century ago and the muggles just expanded around it. The Ministry warders had a hell of a time keeping the bombs off it during the wars."
Misha's tickets were half way up one of the covered stands and they managed to get in early enough to avoid most of the crowds. Harry was almost trembling with excitement at being at a real Quidditch match in a whole other country. He couldn't wait to tell Hermione all about it. He was sure she would ask for details.
"Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to the Vogler Shield semi-finals. The match today will determine who will be going on to face the Berlin Baers in the finals. Please let me welcome to the field and the stadium, the Kiel Kriegers! At the posts we have Keeper Heidelberg Harriers very own, Leonie Eisenberg! As Beaters, the unbeatable, Xavier Hertzog and Benjamin Zimmer! In the Chaser position Heidi Nacht, Rudolf Fassbinder and Hans Strauss! And at Seeker, the one, the only Magdalene Adler!"
Misha cheered wildly, waving a conjured flag of red and orange, the teams colours.
"And lets give it up for the home team, the Frankfurt Falken's! Needing no introduction but I'll give them one anyway Keeper Ingrid Krause, Beaters Walter Kortig and Olaf Ritter, Chasers Alexandra Eichel, Norman Abend, and Christopher Barth. And last but certainly not least Seeker Effi Lehrer!"
Alex cheered for the team now flying around the pitch in green and purple robes. He shot his wand up and shot out sparks in the shape of a crown. Misha glared at him. Harry got the impression from his smirk he was only doing it to get a rise out of the girl.
"It's Eichel in possession of the quaffle, he passes it to Abend, Eichel, Barth, oh and it's intercepted by Strauss who passes it to Nacht, Fassbinder, Straus. It look like the team is attempting a Hawkshead formation. Oh but the quaffle is reclaimed by the Falken's in a perfectly executed Parkin's Pincer, look at them go. They're nearing the goal posts now, and Eichel ducks to avoid a bludger, passes the quaffle to Abend who shoots and, save! Close save by Kiel Keeper Eisenberg who passes it out to Nacht, but no! Barth has possession! He scores! First point of the match goes to Christopher Barth of the Frankfurt Falken's and the quaffle comes back to the centre."
The match was much faster paced than the games they had played at school, the announcer barely having time to track the quaffle before it moved on. Harry was keeping one eye on the Chasers and the other scanning the sky as the Seekers were doing looking for the snitch. So far he hadn't spotted it.
The game continued for hours but Harry was so caught up in the play he never noticed. Once or twice he spotted the snitch but usually not before one or other of the Seekers had already started a dive. The others wandered off at times, in ones or twos, getting refreshments or a bathroom break but Harry, Drew and Alex kept their attention fixed on the field.
"The score is 260-230 in favour of the Falken's, with the Kriegers with the quaffle. The chasers are doing a fantastic job keeping it in play and away from the other team. They just can't seem to intercept. Unfortunately for the Kriegers, Kortig is doing a wonderful job protecting the posts and they can't get a shot in. Everyone is just waiting for someone to catch the snitch."
It was getting dark and the stadium lights came on when the game picked up.
"We have a score of 320-290 to the Falken's, Nacht with the quaffle. She passes it to Strauss… And the snitch has been spotted. Adler shoots toward the pitch, has she seen it? Lehrer is hot pursuit. Lehrer gaining, it'll be close and… It was a feint! Lehrer crashes in to the pitch. Wow that has to hurt. Adler just executed a perfectly timed Wronski Feint. Or was it? Yes! Adler has the snitch!"
Misha cheered wildly and the others joined in, hearts still pounding.
"The Kiel Kriegers win the match and will go on to play the Berlin Baers in the Vogler Shield finals. Kiel Kriegers beat the Frankfurt Falken's 440-320."
"Now that, Harry, is a Quidditch game."
After the excitement of the game Harry returned to school. Classes were being stepped up in the months leading up to the end of the year. Homework was assigned each night and teachers seemed to be taking pleasure in the student groans as they piled more on. Because the classes were mixed through out the years, every class had final exams. Harry who was only studying a few subjects still felt the pressure, especially when phrases like, "if you fail, they kick you out. No magical school in the world would take you if you get kicked out of the Academy." Or, "I heard, one boy, failed all his classes and they striped him of his magic altogether," were being thrown about.
Owen and Alex were working especially hard. They would be graduating this year and would each be going on to different careers. Owen would be taking an internship at the French Ministry for Magic and Alex would again be returning to the Dwarves, before going for his mastery.
Harry studied frantically, terrified and every letter from Hermione just made it worse. Her letters were filled with study tips and worry for her own exams, concern that she might fail for making a turtle instead of a tortoise.
Sara noticed his distraction when he started skipping meals and laughed gently when he told her what was wrong. "Harry they are not going to kick you out for failing your classes. You know Alex failed all his History classes and they didn't kick him out."
"But what if..."
"Harry no matter what, nobody is going to strip your magic from you. Such a thing would be criminal. If, by some chance you do fail a class, the school will meet with you to determine the reason for it. With Alex they just decided History wasn't important for his career and let it go. It was only an optional class for him, he took it to stop Misha bothering him about it. If it is important you will be assigned a tutor. The only reason you would be expelled from the Academy is if you weren't trying. As long as you work hard to reach your goals the Academy and the teachers will help you."
With that reassurance Harry was able to better focus on his classes. He really enjoyed what he was learning, frequently placing at the top of his Charms and Defence classes. Ever since he had located his magic, he found that all kinds of casting was becoming easier for him. His magical theory classes often focused on magical abilities, such as mage sight, animagi, metamorphmagi, Occulumency, Legilimency, empathy and others like the Conlocatio gift the Provost had. The Provost came in, one class and spoke to them about it.
They were not being taught these skills as most required an inborn gift to use to any effect, but they were being tested for gifts and would be offered a tutor if they had any ability. They would also learn how to recognise them when they saw them. They were also learning how magic would effect other magic and how even the small amount of magic being constantly emitted by a witch or wizard could change a spell.
Ethics was covering polite codes of conduct when casting spells on others as well as what should be done with magic, not just what could be done. It was Harry's least favourite class because it tended to make him feel guilty for hours after for casting any kind of spell.
The exams themselves consisted of two parts. There was a written paper on the theory in the morning. Students were assigned to a class room with five or six other students, in desks spaced around the room. There must have been some kind of privacy charm on each of the desks because it was imposable to read another student's paper. Not that Harry tried.
A practical session with a professor was held in the afternoon. Each student in turn was summoned before a Professor and asked to perform various tasks or brew certain potions from the year. Harry found the practical portion of the exams to be much easier than the theory. Practical magic had always come much easer to him then theory.
The Arithmancy, Runes, Magical Theory, History and Ethics classes didn't have a practical portion. Instead he was forced to write up to three essays on a subject they had studied over the year. His hand was aching by the time the exams were over. Some of the older potions students made a few extra galleons by selling some muscle relaxants and calming potions.
As the day of his last exam drew to a close, Harry was finally able to relax. He felt he could safely say he had passed the tests to the best of his ability.
Harry stood at his dorm window looking out over the small forest attached to the Academy. Hedwig came to sit on the window sill beside him. As he took stock of the past year and all that had happened to him he realised something. There was magic in the world far greater than any he had ever dreamed before coming here. The world seemed bigger, brighter and happier than the cupboard that the Dursleys had had in store for him. Here he had friends. Owen, Misha, Drew, Tia, Christy, Sara and Alex. He had friends at home too. Not to mention a place he was welcome at.
Yes, he decided, coming here had been the best thing to every happen to him.
There was a knock on the door. "Come on Harry," Misha called, "you don't want to miss the feast."
He couldn't wait till next year.
Well here's the last chapter of first year. I know it seems rushed but nothing else really happens. We will be hearing more from Alex and Owen. I like them too much to get rid of them. As for the Quidditch game, I have never been to Germany nor do I speak the language. The names and places I got off the internet. Please forgive any mistakes, and feel free to correct me. I'd love it if my story actually made sense.
Please review and tell me what you think. Reviews inspire me to write more.