Disclaimer: I do not own Harry potter and nor the characters in it except for the characters created by me.
Chapter 9: Monsters and Dragons
Terror filled the boy's eyes upon hearing Lillian's words. All his bravery seemed to have left him in an instant.
Seeing the changes in the boy's demeanour Lillian quickly put him down feeling alarmed.
"Are you alright?" she asked worriedly as the boy drew his knees to his chest and began to mutter under his breath.
He was having a full blown panic attack.
Harry sensed two others coming out of the building and sure enough two men with shotguns levelled at them came running out.
"Step away from the boy now!" they shouted. One American and one Irish, Harry thought, judging by their accents.
Harry wasn't going to let the muggles dictate terms here. The only indication he gave of wielding magic was the slight tilt of his head and the guns were ripped out the muggles hands. A jerk of his head and the shotguns were flung away from them. "Don't do anything stupid," Harry commanded ignoring the stunned and fearful expression that manifested on their faces.
"Pl-please," one of them started but Harry cut him off. "Come here and take the kid," he said. "We're not here to hurt you; we're here to help you."
Very nervously one of the men inched forward and the other followed closely behind. "It's alright Michael," he whispered into the boy's ear as he picked him up. "It's going to be fine," he said to the shaking boy. He passed him on to his companion and asked him to take the boy back.
"Are you sure about that?" he asked warily in a thick Irish accent.
"The sun is going down Rick," the American said. His accent reminded Harry of the cowboy cartoons Dudley used to watch when he was five.
"All of you stay put," Harry said.
"Listen," snapped the American. "I don't know who you kids are but you're not natural and I don't take orders from freaks! Especially since it was freaks and monsters that ravaged this city!"
Harry cast the spell on the two men leaving the boy. Harry contemplated memory charming the boy but decided against it. Memory charms were dangerous to the developing brain of a child.
"What are you doing?!" Lillian hissed in shock. Harry ignored her and quickly summoned his invisibility cloak from his bag and draped it over them. Harry pressed his finger to her lip signalling her to keep quiet. In those few seconds of action, Harry had erased their existence from the minds of those men.
"Michael, Michael!" Rick called worriedly but the boy remained unresponsive. "Let's get him to Shannon," he said and the two quickly retreated into the building.
Harry and Lillian followed them after casting a non verbal silencing spell on their boots. They trailed the muggles through the building and out of a back door into the parallel street. The daylight was rapidly diminishing and the muggles movements became more hurried and panicked.
Something strange was going on here.
They came to a stop inside a decrepit building and looked around, searching for signs of trouble. A moment later, Rick bent down and rolled aside the carpet covering the floor revealing a trapdoor. He knocked trice at different intervals and waited.
The sound of a latch being pulled back echoed from under it and then it swung open revealed a mop of blond hair. "Did you find him?"
"We wouldn't be here if we didn't," the American said irritably.
"He must have gotten out when Theo went looking for supplies," Rick added.
The man in the hole nodded and passed a sack to the men above and then took the boy into his arms before passing him down. Harry watched, bemused, as the spread the contents of the sack, which turned out to be salt, all around the trapdoor. Then they carefully got inside and rearranged the carpet above before slamming the hatch shut.
"I think we should take shelter now Harry," Lillian whispered. The behaviour of the muggles was clue enough as to what was happening to the survivors in the city.
Harry nodded and led them into the opposite building. They searched for a relatively clean room facing the street and set up their tent in there. They could have just stayed in the room but their tent provided them with wards that made them completely invisible. The wards main flaw was that if someone knew the approximate location of the tent, then the wards were liable to fail.
It was only after the wards were at full power did the two speak again.
"Please explain why you did what you did Harry," Lillian burst out immediately. She had been holding that outburst in ever since Harry had put his finger on her lips.
"There's obviously something going on here," he said calmly.
"Duh," Lillian mocked.
"We cannot help the muggles unless we know what's going on," Harry said raising his voice. "If we went with them holding a white flag there's a chance we could be found out."
"How?! We can protect them for whatever is there out there!"
"Which will reveal our presence to our enemy! You know we're hunting a madman with a penchant for mass murder don't you?"
"So if they're attacked we don't help?" she demanded.
Lillian quietened but her eyes told him how much she didn't like that answer.
"They are not important to our mission," Harry said quietly. "Had we gone with them, we would have learned more about their problems and they would have asked for our help. Do you think we could have refused in the face of that kind of misery?"
Lillian turned away from him.
Darkness had finally come upon them and there was not a sound in the air. Apart from the light inside their tent which was charmed not to exit their wards, the only objects emitting light in the dark were the twinkling stars and the rising moon.
"It is better for them to not know about our presence. Clearly something is attacking them at night. It could be anything and it is imperative that we remain hidden to allies and enemies until our mission is complete." Harry said again.
"We could have explained our mission to them and asked for their cooperation," Lillian said feebly and summoned a chair from the tent. She knew Harry was right but his actions felt unnecessary.
Harry summoned another chair and sat beside his girlfriend. "We could have," he agreed. "But there was no time. That kid looked like he has some medical problem and we would have wasted a lot of time sorting their problems."
Lillian sighed, as she stared out the window.
Harry took her hand into his and squeezed softly. "We can't interfere if they are attacked," he repeated grimly. "If our target gets wind of something magical in this area then our cover will be blown."
"So we let them die even if we are capable of saving them," Lillian said hollowly. "I understand the reasoning but I still don't like it."
"Let's wait and see what we're up against first," Harry said.
"I vote for monster on the hunt," Lillian muttered.
"Well I agree," Harry said tiredly.
They fell silent, still holding each other's hands.
They sat like that for a good ten minutes before Harry stood up and went inside the tent. The tent looked like a miniature circus tent but on the inside it was quite spacious. A single thick wooden column supported it from the centre. Opposite the entrance to the tent was a tiny kitchen and around the central column was a round table which served as a dining table. Adjacent to the entrance were two rooms equipped with a bathroom of their own. There were a couple of chairs around the table and a lot of cushions strewn around on the floor making the place look cosier. A single ball of orange light hung at the top illuminating the whole tent.
The rooms were identical. A single bed stood in the centre and a bathroom attached to it complete with a sink, shower and toilet. The water was produced as a result of some clever charms that were infused into the structures that required the use of water.
Five to six people could easily live in the tent if they wanted to. The walls were not really walls but the cloth the tent was made of. The cloth was tougher than it looked.
On the outside a pre-prepared ward stone was placed at the top of the tent and four others at the corners of the room which powered the wards that were protecting Harry and Lillian.
"What are you doing?" Lillian called out softly.
"Mapping our current location," Harry replied. He removed the magical map that Croaker had given them and spread it out on the floor. "Get in here."
His breath caught in his throat when she entered. He was sitting on the floor and when he looked up he saw a beautiful woman staring down at him, a tiny frown creasing her forehead and a questioning look set in her blue eyes. Suddenly he felt like he was not looking at a girl but at a woman and he was extremely glad that she was with him.
"What?" she laughed. To her, it seemed like Harry had lost the ability to speak for a moment. His mouth was slightly open and he was staring at her with what seemed to be wonder in his eyes.
"Nothing," he said quickly and felt a little embarrassed. "Anyway come over here. Now according to Warlow, Nicolai is holed up somewhere to the north west of here. If you want a secret base these two locations seem to pop out," he said pointing his finger at a spot on the map.
"The bogs," Lillian murmured.
"The bogs," Harry agreed. "Nicolai is a potions master and I'm sure he'd want to be around a place where the ingredients are easily accessible."
"You'd find ingredients in a bog?" Lillian asked frowning.
"Look here. This place, Drumard, is surrounded by bogs and forests. We should head there and search the area for clues if this city turns out to be a bust."
"So we have a flight plan then," Lillian said as she looked over the map, looking for other viable locations that a potions master could hide in.
"A vague one so far," Harry said. "If he's hiding under a fidelius then we have no chance of finding him."
"I think these people will be too arrogant to hide under too many wards when they think they've all but won this war," Lillian said thoughtfully. "But if we happen to see what's attacking these people, then we can subtly put a tracking charm on it and follow it back to where it came from."
"Good idea," Harry said. "But tracking charms are easily detectable and that too could lead to our discovery."
"At minimum power they won't be," Lillian replied.
"They don't last for long either," Harry said.
"But it will give us a general direction won't it," she said. "Plus if they are focused on this city then they must be coming from somewhere close. The fact that they do not come out during the day tells us they have some problem with daylight."
"Or they just like the cover of dark," Harry said. "So if we happen to spot these creatures, an extremely low powered tracking charm and we do not interfere if the muggles are attacked."
Lillian hesitated for a moment before nodding in agreement. "How do we plant the charm?" she asked. "We can't do it from here. It's not like those responsible for the attacks are going to pass by this street."
"That will be your job," Harry said. "If they do come, we'll track them with the omnioculars and when presented with opportunity, you take the cloak, teleport to their location and place the charm on its body."
"You have to be quick about it," Harry warned. "We can't risk you getting discovered. That's the whole point of us staying hidden."
"They could spot me you know," she said nervously. "I mean, my fire teleportation is not exactly subtle."
"That's why I'm giving you the cloak and you can teleport to a spot where you'll be sufficiently hidden," Harry said rolling his eyes. "You don't have to be scared you know."
"I'm not scared!" Lillian retorted, the fire in her belly roaring.
Harry smirked. "Then get that look of doubt off your face it's not attractive at all."
Lillian grumbled under her breath but the confidence that Harry was used to seeing in her was back. Harry smirked and lightly smacked her head.
Her hands swatted at the air irritably and Harry quickly jumped out of her way laughing. "Come on," he said, still laughing. "You get that tinned food and I'll get the omnioculars. It's going to be a long night so best be prepared for it."
Dumbledore, for the first time since he fought Grindelwald, felt truly alive and free. His bones which creaked when he walked were now pulsing with magic reminding him what youth felt like. A grin, which Dumbledore would never allow to come over him in battle was stretched from ear to ear as he skilfully used the dragons magical blasts to manoeuvre and rain down powerful, destructive magic he could not do elsewhere.
Oh, how liberating it felt to truly let loose.
The dragons were thrown out of their rhythm when Dumbledore slingshot their magical blasts back at them one at a time and they decided to change strategy and took positions around Dumbledore, who was in mid air having just diverted the dragons roar into another dragon. The dragon roared in fury as part of its wing was incinerated and it spiralled to the snow clad ground.
The three dragons flapped their powerful wings together creating a turbulent whirlpool of air which swirled around Dumbledore narrowing at rapid speeds. Albus knew there was magic in that wind to tear his body to shreds, but without skipping a beat he spun on his feet with his wand sticking out and spewed fire at the oncoming wind.
The dragons knew that was a suicidal move as the wind fed the flames with more power and Dumbledore was lost within the power of fire and wind.
Fire of that magnitude, however, gives a phoenix unimaginable strength and the combined force of Dumbledore and Fawkes who had arrived just in time to soak in the power exploded with such force that the dragons felt the fire bite into their impenetrable hide like shards of heated glass grievously wounding them.
The spell keeping Dumbledore afloat died out in the backlash of Fawkes's explosion and Dumbledore gently lowered himself to the ground.
One wizard versus four dragons. It should have been an easy match for the dragons but with Fawkes joining the battle they were evenly matched. One dragon could no longer take flight and the others had severe wounds on their bodies.
Dumbledore on the other hand looked unharmed but that was only because of the magic he had armoured himself with. He knew once that power ran out, he was going to feel the damage he was supposed to feel.
"Recharge and come back Fawkes," Dumbledore said softly. "We're going to need everything for this last round."
He three dragons, once again took position around him but they were looking at him with what he could interpret as calculating.
"You have a noble creature of the old as an ally," the leader rumbled.
"Does that please you?"
"We can sense the magic that binds it to you," it said. "Creatures like that cannot be bonded."
Dumbledore heard the accusation. "It was his will, not mine," Dumbledore said quietly. "Are you ready to talk like civilized beings?"
The dragon roared and it felt like the creature was laughing.
"Name yourself wizard."
"Albus Dumbledore." Dumbledore felt like telling them his full name but decided against using humour in this battle. It would most certainly be lost on the dragons.
"With bodies such as ours, don't you think hiding for millennia would be impossible?"
"I imagine this barrier you have is an incredible shield," Dumbledore said cautiously. Something was wrong, he could feel it. There was a certain pressure in the air and it reeked of malevolence.
"No Albus Dumbledore. We are only big to intimidate puny creatures. This is our true form."
Dumbledore's eyes widened as the dragon's image shimmered and began to change. A fine red mist hovered around their bodies as they became smaller and smaller until they were standing on their hind legs, towering over him at ten feet tall.
The leader was the smallest at eight feet and they looked more fearsome than ever. Razor sharp scales covered their bodies and they had a reptilian head with thick powerful legs. The terrifying part was the cracks in their bodies that were glowing brightly; like a barely contained fire.
If the dragon breath had been powerful when they were huge, Dumbledore didn't want to think about the power they could unleash when their bodies and magic had been compressed to such incredible levels. He prayed his plan would work or else he might as well count himself among them dead.
"Good," Dumbledore said with false bravado. "If you're under the impression that your little stature is supposed to instil fear in me then why don't you try what you're thinking of trying." He let a smirk grow on his face. Yes, there was nothing to fear. His rune structure was solid. The trap was solid. There was nothing to fear.
There was nothing to fear.
When the seven foot dragon opened its jaws revealing an endless pit of power; Dumbledore prayed there was nothing to fear.
A scream tore out of the depths of his lungs when the pit of power exploded outwards and his magic drained out like air being sucked into a vacuum. The activation of the wards of Hogwarts was a distant memory of his magic being gently caressed. This was pure agony in relation.
And then it stopped. For a moment he felt blissfully numb but then the pain from his magical core began to radiate through his body. He had overused his magic.
The cold of the ice soaked into his skin and he realized that he had literally melted into the ground. His body was sizzling against the ice and he felt so fragile that he knew another blast from the dragon would result in his body exploding.
Trembling, he pushed himself up and through hazy eyes looked at the damage his runic trap had done.
The dragon was in bad shape. Its wings had been incinerated and there was black ooze dripping all over its body. It was badly hurt but it was still standing and furious. The others did not attempt anything, waiting for instructions from their leader.
Dumbledore grinned and spat a mouthful of blood.
"Impressive runes," the dragon hissed. It's deep and rumbling voice now sounded weaker. "For a wizard to contain my magic is something that must be commended."
"Heh. Try that again and you'll be erased."
"I would tear these wards to shreds and you'd be erased Albus Dumbledore," the dragon said in a matter of fact tone. But the fact that it had not attacked yet told Dumbledore that the Dragon was not that confident after all. He could see the dragon's legs tremble because of the damage it had sustained but he knew it was right. He was the one who would definitely die if any one of the dragons decided to attack.
"The world is at war," he said softly. "An ancient creature will awaken and lay our planet to waste if we lose but with the strength of your kind we can win."
"We are aware young wizard. We await the awakening of the elder one and only then shall we and the rest take a stand."
Dumbledore understood at once.
"I know who you speak of and he is my ward. But he is young and needs time to grow. If you do not act now, there will be nothing left to save."
The dragon roared with laughter and the other three joined him. "The world is much bigger than you realize wizard! The history is long and the power is great!"
"The loss of the human race is akin to losing a single goblin. You know nothing Albus Dumbledore."
"I know about how the Perevell's battled evil. I know about the wand, the cloak and the ring. I know the wand has chosen a successor and I know that Tom Riddle is aware of the link between your world and ours. Sooner or later you will realize that humans are much more capable than you give them credit for. If you do not believe me then go ahead and give me your best shot."
"I will not fall."
The following seconds of silence felt like an eternity to Dumbledore. The dragons glanced at each other and Dumbledore wondered if they were communicating.
"You win wizard. You shall speak before the gates of Haldor."
Dumbledore looked for the lie but found none. "You will not regret this," he said, relieved and with the last reserves of his magic, he dropped the wards. Using that little bit of magic proved too much for him and he finally succumbed to the darkness.
The two still whole dragons flared their wings intimidatingly but the leader raised his clawed hands and ordered them to stand down. "His fate will be decided at Haldor. Get Drevius and I shall take the human."
The humanoid dragon rested its clawed hand on an unconscious Albus's shoulder and with a gentle push of its feet; it soared into the sky and was sucked into a tiny black portal.
It was two hours past midnight and Harry and Lillian were bored out their skulls. The anticipation for waiting something horrible to happen was long gone. Now it was just dull.
"I see something black," Lillian said. The first few hours, they had stayed alert. Then they started talking and now they were yawning and playing games.
"The sky," Harry sighed.
"Yay," Lillian sighed. "Your turn."
"Tell about your life."
"Beg pardon?" Lillian was suddenly wide awake. That certainly came out of nowhere.
"Where you grew up. Your friends. Stuff you like to do."
"Oh. Yeah….. What?"
"It's a simple question," Harry said, amused by her reaction.
"I know, I mean, it just caught me off guard," she said laughing nervously.
"Why are you so fidgety all of a sudden?" Harry asked frowning. He suddenly hoped that she wouldn't ask him the same. Talking about his life would ensure they stayed up till dawn!
"Well," she said and then took a deep breath. "Where do I start?"
"Where did you grow up?"
"Born and raised in Peckham," she said, thinking about it. "I moved to Bromley when I was seven."
Harry raised his eyebrows. "My uncle and aunt never had nice things to say about Peckham," he said.
"Bromley was a little better," she said laughing. "It was not that bad actually; Peckham I mean. I was pretty young and I hardly remember much about it. But I do remember having great fun with my friends there."
"That's nice," Harry said. "Tell me more about your friends."
Lillian grinned. "They were a bunch of crazy fools. There was Sally and Anne; they were twins. Then there was Brook, David and Rutford. These guys were my closest friends and their parents were close with my dad too. They moved with us to Bromley after Peckham."
"Our favourite time pass was bursting firecrackers outside people's homes when they were getting busy, if you know what I mean," she said winking.
Harry laughed. "Are you serious? That's just mean."
"Ooh, we got into trouble for it loads of times but David and Rutford were fighters and never backed down even if they knew they were wrong. They used to get beat up all the time." She quietened as she recalled the good times with her friends. They were probably dead now, she thought glumly.
"Sorry if I reminded you of them," Harry said softly.
"It's alright," she said brightening up. "We have more important things to worry about." Harry could see the lie shining bright.
"I never had any friends growing up," he said. "My uncle and aunt hated me and I used to live in a cupboard before I forced them to let me have Dudley's second room."
Lillian's eyes widened.
"I should thank them for what they did or else I would have never become as powerful as I am now. It was because of them that I was determined to gain control over magic and excel at using it."
"I know," he said abruptly. "It's depressing but it was worth it."
Lillian dragged her chair closer to him and placed her hand on his cheek. She gently turned his face towards her and looked into his eyes. "You would have been amazing regardless," she said softly and placed her lips on his.
He savoured the feel, the taste and the softness of her lips before running his fingers through her hair and pulling her closer to return the kiss passionately. Lillian gasped when she felt her body rise up on its own and was placed on Harry's lap.
Harry just grinned.
"Love the way you use your powers," she breathed and attacked his mouth with all the passion she could muster. Harry let his hand slip down her back and slowly eased into her shirt.
They broke apart for a second. Lillian's eyes were alight and she was breathing heavily. She just gave a tiny nod and tightened her grip on his hair revelling in the feel of his hands travelling up her spine. She waited in anticipation for Harry's hands to find the target of desire but strangely and annoyingly he had stopped.
"What are you waiting for?" she groaned and planted a kiss on his ear. Harry shivered and it wasn't from the cold. "I heard something apart from us," he whispered.
He waited, not moving, and Lillian too narrowed her eyes when she heard an odd sound in the wind.
"Maybe you should remove your hand," she said reluctantly and she gasped when his hand brushed the side of her breast. Her body was begging her to continue but the moment they had been waiting for had finally come.
They forced their hormones to settle down and Harry quickly brought their omnioculars. "Do you see anything?" he asked.
Lillian turned a dial on the omnioculars which allowed them to see clearly at night and strained her eyes in the direction the sound had come from. "Nothing," she replied. "No, wait! There's something moving near that building."
"The one with the green top," she whispered.
Harry adjusted his omnioculars and instead of seeing something horrific. There were just normal humans on the street. Whether they were magic or muggle was yet to be seen.
"They look scared," Lillian muttered. "What's going on?"
The few dozen men and women gathered close to each other and a minute later a portkey vortex opened up behind the humans and vampires stepped out with huge rattling cages beside them. It was easy to identify the vampires with their pasty white skin that clung to their bodies like a mask covering the ugly personalities. What was more interesting was the closed cages that spelt danger.
Harry and Lillian watched, riveted to their lenses. Words were exchanged and the people now looked terrified. They started to run and the red eyed vampires just grinned. A clearer picture of what was happening in the city began to emerge.
"Harry, this is a bloody hunt," Lillian whispered urgently. "We got to help those muggles!"
"No!" Harry said harshly. "We cannot reveal ourselves. I thought I made that clear Lillian! If we do, we lose our only hope of tracking the vampires back to their den."
The minutes kept ticking by and the vampires just waited for the muggles to run further and hide.
"Whatever is in those cages is definitely the cause of all those bodies we saw," Harry whispered. "I think this city is their testing grounds."
Lillian nodded. "Experimental magical creatures? We already have so many dangerous ones and now they're trying to make them more dangerous?!"
"Let's not jump to conclusions," Harry murmured, although he agreed with her. Those cages were over seven feet tall and he could see that it was magically reinforced. Whatever was going to come was definitely going to be fearsome.
Just when the anticipation was getting too much to bear the vampires jumped atop the four cages and opened them up before fleeing immediately. The opening, like a true horror movie, fell forward slowly and hit the ground with a dull thud.
A hulking creature emerged. Thick black fur covered its entire body. It had huge gleaming red eyes that were drowning in malice and madness. Its fangs were long and sharp and instead of fingers it had needle like claws. Its back was a little bent as it took another step forward but suddenly it's raised its large head to the sky and howled.
"Oh Merlin," Harry said. He couldn't believe it. This creature was just a myth and an unsuccessful magical experiment. But here and now, it looked like Wambosi was successful in doing the impossible!
"What is that Harry?"
"It's a hybrid," Harry said grimly. "A cocktail of a vampire and a werewolf along with the strength of a giant. At least in theory."
The beasts blurred out of sight and the next thing they knew was a muggle, a kilometre away, had been ripped apart. The quickly adjusted their omnioculars and watched in horrified fascination one of the beasts sank its claws into the muggle's gut and dug its fangs into his neck.
The poor man was dead within seconds. The beast tore the man's neck to shreds when it violently broke free and made a mess of his torso when it dragged its claws out.
Harry glanced at Lillian and he didn't know whether to be glad or sad she hadn't even flinched. He hoped she'd be able to overcome the side effects of being an elemental like he had.
"Those things are faster than vampires," Lillian said quietly, startling Harry.
"I wonder how they control them," he muttered and winced when another muggle's scream reverberated through the dark city.
Lillian didn't respond.
It was hard for them to just sit and wait without even attempting to help the muggles but that was the only way they were going to be undetected. Harry knew these creatures would sense them the instant they left the sanctuary of their wards and he knew that when Lillian attempted to tag them, it was going to be a close call.
"There's one coming this way," she said suddenly. A muggle was running towards their lane.
"Be quick," Harry said, as she got up and put one foot on the window sill. "Don't miss and…."
She paused and turned back.
"And be safe," he said softly. Lillian smiled and turned back. She slid her wand out, draped Harry's invisibility cloak around her and waited for the beast to come.
Harry held his breath as the terrified man stumbled near their building. Seconds later the beast, looking even more disfigured and consumed by rage, tore through the walls on the opposite building like it was paper and with a leap it was atop the screaming human.
"Go!" Harry said urgently and Lillian disappeared, leaving behind a slightly heated atmosphere.
Harry watched with baited breath as Lillian smoothly reappeared above the beast and accurately tagged it with the tracking charm. The beast must have been able to sense magic because the instant the spell left Lillian's wand it swiped its claws at Lillian's position. But the fire elemental was too fast. She had already disappeared and all the beast swiped at was a little heated air.
She had done it!
She reappeared behind him and fell to the floor.
"Are you alright?" he asked, concerned.
Lillian didn't reply but quickly got up to look outside.
"Don't look," Harry advised. He knew the bloody murder happening outside was not going to be clean.
"I want to see what I just let happen," she replied emotionlessly and silently they watched the man's screams turn into a puddle of blood. Harry didn't so much as show a flicker of disgust as pieces of the man flew apart but Lillian had a strange look in her eye. Disgust was the predominate emotion within her but there was something else lurking in the background.
It was bloodlust.
"Now what?" Lillian breathed, closing her eyes. The beast was done with the dissection in less than a minute and it was now on the hunt for the next prey. It hadn't detected the two elementals watching just a few feet away.
"Now we wait and continue observing. When these monsters leave, we'll get a good idea of where to pick up the trail."
"You don't think they'll lead us back to the hideout?"
"Let's hope it's that easy," Harry laughed dryly.
Dumbledore woke up to the feeling of warmth spreading throughout his body. His eyes flickered open and he felt a dull ache in his chest. Memories of the battle and its conclusion gushed back and he immediately sat up, his eyes alert.
His eyes grew exponentially wide at the sight in front of him.
Towering piles of gold all around him and within them were dozens snoozing dragons. They were not the gargantuan images he had in mind but were of varying sizes with the smallest being around 6 feet tall. Size might have an intimidation factor, but their eyes were what was truly frightening. Dumbledore could feel those eyes fixed upon him and he knew they were suppressing the instinct to kill this outsider.
"Albus Dumbledore. Welcome to the Gate of Haldor."
Albus spun around, wand in hand; only to see the dragon he had spoken to during the battle. All traces of its wounds had gone and its wings were fully open. Dumbledore wondered for how long had he been unconscious and what had the dragons done to him that he didn't feel the pain he knew he was supposed to be feeling.
"Gate?" Dumbledore asked confused. There was no gate in sight.
The dragon pointed its smoking fingers behind the gold and then Dumbledore saw the most beautiful gates he would ever see in his lifetime. It was a little larger than the entrance of his beloved castle but while the ones at Hogwarts were made of wood, this was made from a strange metal he could not identify and was symmetrically studded with precious stones. Most of the precious stones were diamonds, the size of his head. But there were various other colourful stones embedded around them. The stones seemed to form some sort of runes.
It simply took his breath away.
"We have not entered those gates in millennia as we are the gate keepers, protectors of the realm of the hidden races."
"Have I earned by way through?" Dumbledore asked cautiously.
"You have," the dragon rumbled. "But the news you bring us is what earned you that right. Your little triumph was not enough." Dumbledore realized that his victory had hurt this dragon's ego.
"Maybe you should listen to what people say before you try to kill them," Dumbledore said with humour.
"The joke was lost on the dragon. It placed its hands on the doors and let its magic flow through the metal making it glow brightly in the process. The light kept getting stronger and then, just as the light became blindingly bright, the dragon pushed.
"Oh my," Dumbledore gasped in awe.