By The Scarlet Pencil
Summary: The foundational tenet of dragon lore is that you can't domesticate dragons.
Notes: This is in answer to the Hogwarts Online Flitwick prompt "dragons," but it might end up being longer.
The dragon stared at Charlie with its almost luminescent green eyes. Charlie was strongly reminded of a cat's eyes, because it was night and the clearing was lit by feeble moonlight, but the dragon's eyes caught all the light and reflected it back at Charlie. The effect should have been eerie, but Charlie was far too excited to worry about atmosphere.
This was a Hebridean Black dragon. A wild Hebridean Black.
Hogwarts had first been alerted to the existence of the dragon by Hagrid. He had found the charred remains of deer in the Forbidden Forest. At first it was one or two a month. Then the pace began to pick up, more and more corpses being found until at last the centaurs respectfully complained that they were going to go hungry if the creature was not caught and relocated immediately.
So here Charlie Weasley was, locked in a staring contest with a dragon.
Hebridean Blacks had been under the care of the MacFusty's for centuries. They were one of the few dragon breeds that were completely contained. There hadn't been a case of Hebridean Black eggs being sold for years. But all of the MacFusty eggs and dragons were accounted for. This dragon, wherever it came from, wasn't from their stock.
More importantly, it had Charlie backed against a cliff wall. He had intended merely to observe the dragon's lair (a shallow cave) in order to prepare to drug the creature and take it to the reserve. He would scout out the cave and be gone. Except the dragon evidently had other plans, because when he had turned around to get back on his broom he found himself being examined by fifteen feet of dragon.
A juvenile, obviously. Adults were twice as long and twice as mean. Probably this one had been driven away from the nesting grounds by its parents and had landed in the forbidden forest as a new spot.
One of them was going to have to move eventually, Charlie thought. Wait for the dragon to be distracted, jump on his broom, and fly like hell. He could outmaneuver the dragon in the trees.
The dragon snorted, and hot, fetid air blew past Charlie. Then the dragon began to move slowly towards Charlie, pausing every few steps.
What in Merlin's name was it doing? Charlie wondered. Hebrideans were aggressive, particularly around their dens. This one should have attacked on sight. Charlie's hands itched with sweat, and he wished desperately that the dragon would look away for a just a moment so he could get away.
Every halting step brought the dragon closer, and Charlie began to wonder if this was going to be it. He was going to die, just like his instructor had told him, because he had gotten too close and too curious. Any sudden movement would be met with instant death, of course, but as it was the dragon was going to be right on top of him anyway. Surely it would be better to move, to attempt to run—
The dragon stopped. Three feet away. Charlie kept still, alternating between near panic and curiosity. Why hadn't it attacked? Even a Welsh Green would have attacked by now.
With an entirely too human, almost calculating look, the dragon leaned forward, licked him once, and bounded away into the night.
Charlie stared after it. He wasn't dead. Despite all his stupidity, he wasn't dead. What was wrong with the dragon? That wasn't dragon behavior at all. Was it possible that this was a hoax, of some sort? No, too many dead deer for a hoax.
Charlie numbly mounted his broom and flew back towards Hogwarts. The only explanation he could think of went against years of dragon lore. The foundational tenet, really.
You can't domesticate dragons.
But what other explanation was there?
When Charlie reached Hogwarts, his fellow dragon keepers asked why he had been gone so long. He told them that he had gotten waylaid in the forest (believable enough, given that the Forbidden Forest had one of the highest concentrations of natural magic in Britain).
He didn't tell them that he had encountered the dragon. Nor did he tell them that his dreams that night were filled with scales and wings and flight without brooms.
Because if you could domesticate dragons, suddenly anything was possible.