"Have you ever heard the tale of the Dragontower?" Ollivander asked in a whispery voice.
Harry turned to Hermione as she gasped in shock. "What is it Hermione?"
"You can't expect us to believe that it really exists. The Dragontower is only an ancient legend, there's no truth to it."
Ollivander grinned causing Harry and Ron to shiver. "The Deathly Hallows existed only in legend as well, but …" He trailed off, motioning to the wand strapped to Harry's forearm.
"Uh, someone want to fill Harry and me in on what this Dragontower is all about? I've never heard of it, have you?" He looked to his friend and Harry just shook his head.
"Really you two," huffed Hermione, "don't you ever pay attention in History of Magic?"
"Wait a minute," Harry interrupted. "How can it be considered history if it's a legend?"
"Nearly all legends have at least a small basis in fact," stated Hermione. "The Dragontower most likely existed and I'm sure that the witches and wizards of the time most likely believed everything that was said about it, but it was mostly unfounded superstition and elaborate story-telling."
Harry grinned at his friend. "That's probably what people will think about us hundreds of years from now."
"Try thousands of years from now," Hermione interjected.
"What?" Ron exclaimed. "How old is this Dragontower supposed to be?"
Hermione threw up her hands in exasperation. "I told you, it's merely a myth. It can't really exist."
"Will you tell us the story of the Dragontower?" Harry asked Ollivander and the mysterious old wizard offered him a toothy grin.
"Of course Mr. Potter, I can tell you the story." He moved to the fireplace and plucked a small wooden box from the mantle. It opened with a wave of his hand and inside sat a book with a plain brown cover. "The diary of Asad," he stated, "The man who built the Dragontower."
"Impossible!" Hermione exclaimed. "No book could survive that long."
Ron gave her an annoyed look. "Just tell us the story please," he urged Ollivander. "Harry and I have things to do. We can't be hanging 'round here all night."
"That is rude Ron," Hermione nudged his shoulder.
"No, of course you are correct," Ollivander agreed. He slowly opened the book and turned to a point in the middle. "Asad lived in a much different world than we know today. In those ancient times there were move wizards and witches and also more magical creatures. His village sat in the heart of the Sahara and it was surrounded by all types of legendary beasts, but the most feared and most revered was the dragon. The dragons hunted many of the creatures that terrorized the villages; nundu, chimera and the like."
"So the dragons were kind of like protectors then?" Ron questioned.
Ollivander shook his head. "No, the dragons did not intentionally protect the humans, but they didn't generally attack them either. For a dragon, humans are not such a filling meal, not compared to larger creatures." Ron nodded in understanding.
"Asad was not an extremely powerful wizard, but he was not a weak one either. He lived within his means and took care of his wife and two daughters to the best of his ability. From his diary entries, we know that he was happy with a simple life and wanted nothing more than to be left alone to live a peaceful existence."
Harry grinned. "Sounds wonderful." Hermione and Ron smiled at their friend, knowing that there was nothing he wanted more than a simple life.
"Yes, he was very happy, until one day something terrible happened," Ollivander continued, his voice turning harsh and cold. "Asad left the village to hunt for potion ingredients and when he returned he found his tiny village burned to the ground. In his tiny hut were the remains of his family. Everyone he had ever known was dead and everything he loved had been taken from him. Through clues left behind he knew that the man responsible was a warlord from a large city many miles away."
"With only the clothes on his back and his wand he set out into the desert to have his revenge. Of course, without supplies, he would never make it to the city, but anger drove him to be reckless and unthinking. Three days into his march he stumbled upon something the likes of which he had never seen or imagined. Half buried in the desert sands was a beautiful golden dragon."
"A gold dragon?" Harry questioned. "Was it a statue?"
"Asad came to that same conclusion, but as he neared the thing he could see its large stomach rising and falling. The dragon was alive. Its eyes opened revealing two large, gold orbs. Trembling with fear, Asad approached the beast and knelt in reverence. The dragon bowed its head in return and then motioned to the sand that covered its body. Asad waved his wand and the sand disappeared, revealing a huge circle of red sand. The dragon's blood had seeped into the ground and turned it red. Then the dragon spoke."
"What?" Ron shouted. "That's the barmiest thing I've ever heard. Dragon's can't speak."
Ollivander shook his head. "According to Asad's diary, the dragon spoke inside his head. It asked for his help. A gigantic spear was lodged in the dragon's side. Asad pulled out the spear and did his best to heal the wound. While he was nursing the dragon back to health, he told the dragon why he was crossing the desert. Once the dragon was well he asked Asad to climb upon his back. He would take Asad to the land of dragons where he would be well rewarded."
"Asad would not go. He still wanted revenge. The dragon told Asad that he would return with an army of dragons to help with his cause, but the flight would take many years. He left Asad with a task. Using the red sand, he should construct a tall tower, that way the gold dragon would be able to find him again."
Hermione interrupted. "But he had no supplies, how could he survive without food or water?"
"As long as he continued to build the tower, he wouldn't need any type of sustenance. The magic of the dragon's blood would keep him alive until the gold dragon returned. So he set to work and began to build. The dragon took an extremely long time to return and after forty years Asad had built a tower that was forty stories tall, one story every year. When the gold dragon finally flew to the top of the tower, Asad was old and tired. 'How can I fight when I am so weak?' he asked the gold dragon. And the dragon said that he and his companions would make the man stronger than any human had ever been."
"The gold dragon began to circle the tower along with the forty dragons that had accompanied him from the dragon's secret land. They blew fire on the tower and Asad began to burn and his body began to change. After a few moments, Asad was gone and in his place stood a beautiful red dragon with bright red eyes. The dragons' magic had made him a magical animagus."
"Wicked," Harry and Ron both whispered at the same time.
"Impossible!" Hermione exclaimed. "No one can become a magical animagus. There have been numerous wizards and witches who have written on the subject."
Ollivander closed the book with a snap and waved it in front of the three teens. "According to this it is possible."
Ron's eyes were alight with excitement. "Imagine being able to turn into a dragon. What happened after that?"
"No one knows," Ollivander admitted sadly. "That is where the diary ends. Most likely someone tore out the final pages. Perhaps Asad took his army of dragons and destroyed his enemy or perhaps his enemy was already dead after all those years. But I do know this, Dumbledore believed in the existence of the Dragontower and Grindewald believed it too."
"Gellert Grindewald?" Harry questioned and Ollivander nodded.
"Yes, Grindewald searched for the Dragontower and Dumbledore believed that he was closer to finding it then anyone in history." Ollivander turned and pulled another small wooden box from the mantle. From within its confines he pulled a beautiful piece of gold.
Harry reached out with shaking fingers. "Is this what I think it is?"
"A gold dragon scale," Ron stated as he moved closer to investigate
Hermione stepped closer as well, curious despite knowing that the tale was nothing but a myth. The piece of gold was heavy in her hand and it did look quite a bit like a dragon scale.
"Someone could have made this to look like a dragon scale," she stated assuredly.
Ollivander shrugged. "Perhaps," he whispered ominously. "It was found in Gellert's possession when he was defeated by Dumbledore. Albus believed that it is real and he asked me to give it you, Mr. Potter."
Harry held out his hand and accepted the scale. It felt extremely heavy and powerful for being so small.
"You don't really believe this, do you?" Hermione questioned. "This is definitely not the time to go running off to the Sahara to find some mythical tower. We are in the middle of a war in case you've forgotten!"
"And an army of dragons could help win that war!" Ron shot back.
Harry turned the scale over in his palm once more before stashing it in his pocket. It felt warm against his skin.
"Is Grindewald still alive?" He asked, turning his attention back to Ollivander. The old wizard nodded.
"He is kept in the wizard prison Nurmengard in Germany. To my knowledge, he is the only remaining prisoner from the war."
"Then we talk to him and decide what to do from there," Harry stated.
"But Harry," Hermione began to argue but Harry cut her off.
"No Hermione, this might be just what we need. We're never going to defeat Voldemort and his army with a handful of wizards and a bunch of magic-less muggleborns. We need our own army."
"An army of dragons!" Ron exclaimed. "Just wait until I tell Fred and George."
"No!" Harry shouted. "We tell no one about this. It stays between us four and we don't talk about this again until we're out of the castle." The other three nodded in agreement. "Voldemort already seems to know everything we're going to do before we're going to do it. We need to find a way to use that to our advantage."
The Trio left Ollivander's room looking grim, but determined. Hermione's arms were crossed over her middle and she continually opened and closed her mouth. Ron shot her a warning look, while Harry remained oblivious to their silent exchange. His mind was focused on a mythical dragon army that could help to win the war.
"Harry, there you are!" Neville exclaimed as he rushed toward them from down the corridor. "Have you come up with a rescue plan yet?"
"Rescue plan?" Harry questioned, looking to Ron who merely shrugged in confusion.
Hermione cleared her throat. "I hadn't gotten around to telling them yet."
Neville's eyes widened in surprise. "How could you not tell them right away? This is Rowena we're talking about, Dumbledore's daughter!"
"What in Merlin's name are you two talking about?" Ron shouted.
"Rowena was taken by Voldemort," Neville explained. "I can't believe you didn't tell them."
"What?" Harry grabbed Neville by the front of his robes. "When did this happen?" Magic began to swirl around the group and Neville's body began to lift from the floor. His feet kicked back and forth uselessly as his face began to turn blue.
"Harry, put him down!" Hermione screamed. "You're hurting him!"
A jolt of electricity seemed to rock through Harry's body and he released Neville's robes. The boy fell to the ground with a thud and Harry slowly backed away, his hands held out pleadingly. Neville rubbed his throat and scooted backward.
"I'm sorry Neville, I'm so sorry," whispered Harry while his friends stared at him with horrified looks on their faces. Magic whipped around him like a small tornado, so thick that it could be seen with the naked eye. "I don't know what came over me."
Hermione's hands flew up to her mouth and tears began to roll down her cheeks. Ron pulled her into his arms and began whispering in her ear, telling her that everything would be okay, that Harry would be alright. An oppressive feeling emanated through the corridor, it was magic, a magic that they'd never experienced before.
"Harry, it's nothing really," Neville stated consolingly, "I'm alright."
"Just go Neville," Ron ground out between his teeth.
Hermione pushed away from Ron. "Go Neville, just get out of here!" She shrieked.
Neville's eyes widened in fright and he took off in a dead run. Hermione and Ron stood gasping in the middle of the hall, neither turning to look at Harry. The feeling of magic still covered their skin and they both shivered under the assault.
"Harry, you have to stop," Hermione whispered urgently. Her muscles contracted painfully and her head swam from nausea. She glanced over at Ron and wasn't surprised to see him retching quite forcefully over his shoes. "Harry, stop!"
And just like that, the magic was gone. Ron and Hermione pitched forward and fell to their knees. Ron waved his wand and cleaned up his mess as good as he was able. The rest the house elves would deal with eventually.
"What the bloody hell was that?" Questioned Ron in a rough voice, his throat sore from being sick.
Hermione just shook her head and looked over at Harry. He stared back at her with wide, frightened eyes that seemed to glow in the darkened corridor. She tried to change her expression to one of comfort and understanding, but was too scared and exhausted. Instead she knew she appeared just as confused and terrified as Ron.
"I don't know," Harry whispered. "I don't know what that was. Hermione, what's happening to me?"
"I don't know," she admitted.
Hours later she watched Harry's chest rise and fall. They'd finally convinced him to get some sleep in the Headmaster's office and Ron had transfigured the sofa into a small bed. Harry's brow had risen marginally when he'd transfigured a larger bed out of one of the tables in the room. Ron had just winked and grinned, causing Harry to smile for the first time since the incident in the corridor.
"What do you think's going on with him?" Ron asked as they lay in the dark. "I've never felt anything like that, have you?"
Hermione shook her head. "I've never even read about anything like it. I'm sure it's some sort of accidental magic, but there's never been any accounts of accidental magic being so…"
"Alive?" Ron asked.
"Sentient," Hermione continued and Ron gave her a confused look. "It felt as if it were a separate being."
"Like an angel or demon or something," Ron interrupted. "That's how it felt to me. It wasn't like magic at all. It was like a force, a god kind of force." His eyes widened as Hermione's lips tightened into a thin line. "You felt it to!" He whispered loudly.
"I don't know if that's exactly how I would describe it, but I do think that we should do what we discussed earlier."
"Really?" Ron questioned disbelievingly. "Why'd you change your mind?"
Hermione scooted closer to Ron so she could whisper in his ear. "I think it would be best if he wasn't around so many people. I don't think he would ever hurt anyone purposefully, but…"
"I get it," Ron whispered sadly. "You think he might be dangerous."
"Not might be," she corrected. "He is dangerous." She wiped a stray tear from her eye. It hurt to talk about her friend this way, as if he were some kind of dangerous animal.
Ron caught her hand with his. "Don't worry 'Mione, we'll figure it out. We always do."
Severus Snape glided softly through the Black library. He felt as if he'd been there forever, locked away with the nightmare of his own creation. The thing swooped in on him at every moment of the day, continuously torturing him until he thought he'd go mad. A few nights he'd woken to find it staring down at him from the ceiling with its black, soulless eyes.
"Looking for something Snivellus?"
Severus nearly jumped out of his skin, but he didn't turn to meet the thing's stare. "Merely trying to pass the time."
"So you've given up then?"
"There's not much I can do in the current situation," he admitted sourly. Finally he turned to look at the ghoul in the red cloak. The toothy grin of Sirius Black met him and the man looked ten times more deranged then he ever had while alive. "Have you been to the school?"
"Yeah, but I still haven't found it and I don't know if I will be able to return to Hogwarts."
"And why not?" Severus questioned. Black scratched his chin and Severus attempted not to stare as a few large flakes of dead, gray skin fell from the man's face.
"Something happened while I was rooting around in the catacombs," he explained. "I don't know how to describe it, but my soul recognized it as something that shouldn't be messed with."
"Well, what was it?" Severus asked impatiently.
Black shrugged. "It was some kind of magic, but not anything I ever felt when I was alive. It pushed at me and I think if it would have stayed long enough it would have eventually pushed me to the other side. I think you'd have to be dead to understand what I mean."
Severus crossed his arms over his chest as he thought on Black's tale. Perhaps Potter and his little friends were attempting to draw upon some kind of ancient magic to defeat the Dark Lord or perhaps it was the castle itself sensing something not quite right. Black is dead after all, Hogwarts might see him as a threat.
"Do not go back to Hogwarts," Severus ordered. "The Potter brat will just have to find the Horcrux hidden there on his own."
"Scared you'll lose your bargaining chip?" Black sneered.
Severus smirked. "That's the only worth you have at the moment Black. Besides, you've done more for your godson dead then you ever did alive." He looked away and shook his head. "Tsk, tsk, poor Potter, growing up with those nasty muggles, kept in a cupboard for most of his life. If only he'd had someone to look after him after the death of his parents."
Black let out a feral growl. He made a move to pounce, but stopped when Severus held up his hand.
"You can't hurt me Black," Severus stated with a grin.
"Not yet," Black admitted with a smirk. "But someday…" His laughter trailed off into silence as he melded into the shadows.
A radio blared in a small, dingy apartment in New York. Ginny sang along to some muggle pop song as she moved about the place. Every surface was spotless, but she still cleaned every afternoon. It was the only thing she had to keep her busy besides reading the newspapers Draco would snatch from the newsstands in the magical parts of the city. It wasn't safe for her to go out, he always argued, better for a Slytherin to go slinking around then Harry Potter's very recognizable girlfriend.
"Honey, I'm home!" Draco called out as he entered the apartment.
Ginny looked up in surprise, still startled each time she saw him with his new disguise. He'd colored his hair a dark brown and grown it out so it covered his brow. A pair of fake spectacles perched atop his nose, tinted slightly to obscure his blue eyes. He dressed quite differently than the prim and proper Malfoy she knew from school. Baggy blue jeans and dirty t-shirts made up the main part of his wardrobe and tattered looking tennis shoes adorned his feet.
She had changed as well. Gone was her long hair in the very recognizable Weasley red. Now her hair was cut short and died black, with muggle makeup covering her freckles. Each time she looked in the mirror she wondered if Harry would even recognize her if he saw her now. Sometimes she felt she didn't even recognize herself anymore.
"Find out anything interesting today?" She asked as she stowed away the dustpan and the broom which had been doubling as her microphone.
Draco frowned and shook his head. "Nothing in the papers, nothing on the wireless, but no news is good news right? You-Know-Who would be shouting from the rooftops if he killed Potter."
"I suppose," she sighed. "I just wish I knew what was going on over there. It feels like we're so cut off from everyone and everything. If only I could just write someone a letter."
"No," Draco nearly shouted, causing her to jump. "What if the letter was intercepted? You know how many dark spells are out there for tracking owls? They'd be able to find us in days, if not hours." He glanced around the apartment. "Where's Dursley?"
"O, I forgot to tell you. He's got a night shift for the next month or so at double the pay."
"Well, we certainly need it," muttered Draco. "I can't believe I, Draco Malfoy, have to depend on a muggle for support, and Potter's cousin at that."
"The very thought," Ginny stated in a posh tone, holding a hand over her heart.
Draco grinned. "Shut it you. I'm thinking about looking for work too."
He moved across the apartment to sit on the sofa. Folded newspapers emerged from the pockets of his coat and Ginny grabbed them up hungrily. Any news was better than nothing.
"Do you think it's safe for you to get a job?"
Draco shrugged. "I doubt a muggle would know who I was and I doubt most wizards would even recognize me."
"I doubt anyone would recognize me either," she put in calmly. "Perhaps I should look for work. I could clean hotels or something like that."
"It's too dangerous," he argued. "Besides, you're still recognizable."
She glared at him from across the sofa. "I am not. Look at me, I look horrible. Short, ugly black hair with blotchy skin from all the muggle makeup, I look awful."
"No you don't." Draco shook his head. He was eyeing her with a strange expression on his pale face. "You still look beautiful. You could shave all of your hair off and color yourself blue and I'd still recognize you just from your eyes or your smile."
Ginny held his stare for a moment before blushing and turning away. His words made her feel warm and slightly uncomfortable. She turned back to the newspapers on the coffee table and thumbed through the pile.
"No Quibbler?" She asked with a frown.
"Nope. I'm assuming that Luna and her father are incapable of getting the paper out for any kind of distribution."
"Do you think it's gotten that bad?"
Draco shrugged and looked down at his tennis shoes. "I don't know, but I think I want to try to get back."
Ginny's head snapped up, her eyes widening with surprise. "Are you serious?"
"Very," he replied with a nod. "I don't want to sit here anymore doing nothing. If Granger can be of some kind of help without magic, then why can't I do the same? There's only one thing holding me back."
"What?" She asked in confusion.
"Potter asked me to keep you away," he replied. "He gave me the task of making certain that you didn't try to return. I promised him that I would."
Ginny reached out and grabbed Draco's hand. "Let's go," she stated. "I'm sick of cleaning this dingy apartment and I'm sick of wondering if everyone's dead or dying. I'm sick of the muggles on the street and the pollution in the air. I'm sick of scraping by and going to bed hungry."
"But what about Dursley?" Draco asked.
"You take him with you," a voice answered from the kitchen doorway.
They both turned in surprise to find Dudley standing there with his arms crossed. They'd been so focused on each other that they hadn't even heard him enter the apartment. His face was caked with dirt and a small gauze bandage was affixed to his forehead.
"What happened to you?" Draco blurted out.
"Got knocked down by a wayward forklift," explained Dudley. "I'm with you two though. I want to go back. If I'm going to get knocked around and nearly starve, I'd rather do it while fighting for a cause not because I'm stuck in some grimy muggle apartment with no money."
Draco's jaw dropped. "Did you just call this a 'muggle' apartment?"
Dudley grinned. "Yeah, I guess I did." He reached into his pant pocket and pulled out a roll of bills. "And I may have stolen this from the muggle company that I just got fired from."
"I don't believe it," Ginny gasped. "You've obviously been hanging around Draco too often."
"Let's go home," was Dudley's only answer, the grin never leaving his face.
"Let's go home," Draco agreed.
Ginny smiled. "Let's go home."