Fire slammed against the conjured water that now enveloped the front doors of Hogwarts.
The headmasters hand shook slightly at the impact as he struggled to maintain his shield; it felt much more powerful than a normal flame.
"Everyone inside now!" he commanded as Professors McGonagall and Flitwick moved forward to add their own shields against the almost unceasing stream of fire.
Jericho meanwhile flamed away from the other staff and appeared to the dragons right, he quickly had to jump backwards to land a few metres away as a clawed foot stomped into the earth. He knew exactly what this dragon was, or rather who it was but why was Harry rampaging like this?
Whatever the reason he had to stop or else Hogwarts was going to be burnt to a crisp. Jericho conjured a handful of flame and lobbed at the dragons flank, it hit but it might as well have been a feather for all the good it did. The still thrashing dragon didn't even notice the flames hit its back leg and then disperse.
In fact it was still trying to get through the headmaster and teachers shields, and was steadily succeeding.
Jericho noticed this and made a decision. He ran forward and stood in front of the massive dragon and started waving his arms around.
"Over here!" he yelled "Look down dammit"
Jericho started jumping up and down to as well as sending small flames into the air, this it seemed did the trick as the dragon abruptly switched its focus from the front steps and onto Jericho breathing fire straight down on him with barely a break between the two breaths.
Jericho had absolutely no time to react before he was completely engulfed in white hot flames. Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall and Flitwick watched in horror as their colleague and fast becoming friend was blocked from view by the scorching fire.
Dumbledore moved quickly down the steps and towards the dragon intent on doing something to save his Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher but before he could formulate a plan the inferno was let up and the crouching figure of Jericho Ignis was revealed.
Dumbledore stared for a few seconds before calling out in a surprisingly powerful voice "Jericho, are you ok!"
Jericho fell back onto his rear and sat on the scorched grass and shook his head.
"That stung abit…" he mumbled then heard the headmaster calling out to him "I'm fine Professor!" he yelled back "I'm fire proof remember" he added with a grin.
Dumbledore's face relaxed slightly into a small smile but he quickly diverted his attention back to the main problem.
Jericho took a few seconds to cool down before jumping to his feet and readying himself for another round with Harry's fire.
Both Dumbledore and Jericho circled the great dragon slowly. It seemed that Jericho's survival had confused the dragon; its instincts told it that the man should be dead after being hit dead on with its flames but there he was stalking around its massive black body clearly very much alive.
The two Professors that were stood on the school steps were looking on in something akin to disbelief. Not only had a gigantic dragon appeared out of nowhere and started rampaging but Professor Ignis had been hit by dragon fire, something every witch and wizard worth their wand knew was one of the most destructive forces known to man, and stand back up as if he'd simply tripped over.
Professor McGonagall started forwards slowly her wand raised but was quickly stopped by a look from the Headmaster, he shook his head slightly and gestured for her to stay where she was for the moment. McGonagall nodded and poised herself ready to cast at a seconds notice.
Jericho and Dumbledore moved towards each other slowly and stopped when they were within earshot of each other, their eyes fixed on the dragon ready to act.
"Do you have any idea what's causing Harry to act this way Jericho?" Dumbledore asked in an undertone.
"Glad you worked out it was him, and yes I do have a theory actually" Jericho replied.
"Look behind Harry, near the greenhouse wall, see her?"
Albus's eyes widened when he spotted what Jericho was talking about. Hermione was lying on the ground not moving, either unconscious or worse.
"I see" Albus replied cursing himself for not noticing sooner "He is protecting her"
"Yes, I would go to get her but I don't know how he would react when he notices her missing" Jericho explained.
Albus looked around them trying to formulate a plan "Do you know if she is ok?" he asked quietly.
Jericho glanced at him before answering knowing what the Headmaster was asking "She's alive, I can feel the same power that I felt when the lightning struck her. However she may still be injured, possibly quite severely"
Albus nodded pleased that Hermione was, at least for now, alive.
"We still need to try and get to her" Albus said however "If Harry decides to try and attack again he could very easily injure her himself. He is not thinking at the moment, letting pure animal instinct control him and with such a large body…" he trailed off.
Jericho nodded in agreement "But how without angering him?"
Inside the castle there wasn't a window in the school that didn't have a student pressed up against it. When ordered back inside the school everyone from first years up to seventh years and had sprinted off in search of a window to peer awe struck through.
The Gryffindor tower was fortunate to be on the side of the castle that the dragon was currently attacking.
"How the hell did Professor Ignis survive that!" Seamus asked in shock.
"Dunno, he must have used some spell or another" replied Dean.
"Why do you think its attacking us?" asked a first year with a sniffle.
"I don't think its attacking us, it's just got lost and got startled" replied a seventh year wisely.
"Where do you reckon it came from?"
"You think they'll have to kill it?"
"Has someone told the ministry!"
"What about the greenhouses?"
Questions were being thrown around all over the school with very little answers being thrown back.
Neville was currently staring out of a first floor window alongside a couple of other students who got to the window at the same time as him.
The two other students were doing the same as everyone else and wondering what was going on and what was going to happen. Neville however hadn't spoke at all and was staring transfixed at a point slightly right of the dragons back foot, desperately trying to see it a little clearer.
Outside Jericho and Dumbledore had decided on a plan. They would try to get to Hermione and wake her so that that Harry could see that she was fine and this would hopefully calm him down.
Jericho moved in front of the dragon as a distraction, this seemed safer due to him being fire proof. The headmaster waited until Jericho had gained Harrys attention before slowly moving towards the prone form of Hermione. However before he was anywhere near her she started to stir. Albus froze and glanced at Jericho to see if he had noticed, he had and looked very worried as Hermione slowly raised herself up.
In the castle Neville watched as the thing he had been staring at started to move and then get up, he gasped and then his eyes snapped to the dragons face before he let out a loud curse before sprinting off thoroughly confusing the two students that had been at the window with him.
Hermione unsteadily got to her feet and swayed a little, she was getting very fed up of waking up like this. She looked around blearily not really taking in what she was seeing but she couldn't really miss the massive sight of Hogwarts even though it was obstructed by something quite large but she would worry about that later when her head didn't hurt so much.
She set off slowly towards the castle rubbing her head.
Jericho froze and Albus tried vainly to try and signal towards Hermione but she was too disorientated to notice. Who knows how the massive angry dragon would react to someone strolling out from beneath it.
Hermione got level with the dragons head before she was noticed. The reptilian head suddenly jerked downwards as it caught movement below it, it's bright purple eyes narrowed in anger at this apparent sneak attack. It raised a clawed foot and grabbed Hermione and held her face down onto the grass muffling her attempts to scream.
"Albus!" Jericho exclaimed "he can't see her face, he doesn't know its her!"
The Headmaster knew this and raised his wand to attempt to rescue her but Jericho's shout seemed to have reminded the dragon about their presence and it shot a burst of flame at the pair who dove to the ground with hasty shield erected.
The dragon kept blasting them eventually breaking through the shield causing Jericho to place himself between the inferno and the Headmaster.
"Thank you my friend" Albus gasped.
Jericho grimaced before falling forwards onto his hands and knees gasping for breath.
"I can't keep doing that" he panted "I'm using too much magic"
The Headmaster was slightly confused but nodded before turning his attention back to Hermione.
Professors McGonagall and Flitwick were watching in horror. The had seen Hermione walk out from beneath the dragon and be held to the floor before their colleagues were once again assaulted with flame. They wished they could do something but they didn't know what. The other Professors were keeping the students safe and Severus was still recovering from his recent visit to You-Know-Who and therefore useless.
Minerva McGonagall took her duty to her students very seriously, in fact it was of the highest importance in her life and it was this that fuelled her next decision to start sprinting at the dragon in hopes of distracting it from Miss Granger long enough for her to be rescued.
She was halfway down the lawns when the dragon looked back down at its captive and readied another volley of flame that would surely finish off the girl held between its claws.
Minerva knew what was going to happen and sped up as much as she could and drew breath in order to shout out at the beast but before she had chance to do anything more a figure over took her sprinting towards the dragon.
She looked on with wide eyes as she recognised the figure and stopped still in pure shock, something she would later curse herself for.
Albus also saw the figure and looked on in astonishment and surprisingly, pride. Jericho gave a small smile before collapsing in exhaustion.
The dragon was seconds away from opening its mouth and roasting Hermione when a voice rented the air.
The dragon whipped its head around ready to attack but was promptly hit by the most ferocious blast of wind that anyone had ever seen. The force was so strong in fact that it started moving the dragon backwards, the winds then caught in its massive wings and picked up the massive black dragon and threw it backwards into the forbidden forest with enough force to knock down the trees that it had come into contact with.
Luckily in it's surprise the dragon had let go of Hermione who was quickly joined by Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore. Having made sure that she wasn't in any immediate danger Albus turned to look at their very unexpected saviour and smiled.
Neville however didn't smile back, he was still in the same position he had been when he had shouted. His arms thrown up as if to say stop, his eyes wide and his mouth open, staring at the now unconscious dragon laying almost thirty feet from where it had started.
He eventually dropped his arms down to his sides and moved his gaze onto the headmaster.
"H-how did that just happen?" he asked.
About an hour later Hermione woke up feeling very groggy once again. At least this time she was lying on a comfortable bed rather than hard earth.
She rolled over and saw that Harry was lying in the bed next to hers. She briefly wondered what they were both doing there before she remembered their ordeal and made to get up and out of bed.
As if sensing this entirely unhealthy behaviour Madam Pomfrey emerged from her office before Hermione had even thrown back the covers.
"Miss Granger what are you doing?" she asked curtly.
"Is Harry OK?" Hermione asked in return still slowly getting out of bed, she felt very battered and bruised.
Madam Pomfrey swept forward and lay Hermione back down on the soft pillows.
"He's fine, just needs some rest. The same as you." the nurse explained in a forceful voice.
Hermione sighed with relief and turned her head to look at Harry, he had a few scratches and bruises but looked to be sleeping soundly.
She lay and watched him sleep for another half an hour, dozing in and out of consciousness all the while before she was jerked awake by the infirmary doors opening with a loud creak.
"My apologies Poppy" a voice Hermione recognised as the headmasters said "I shall silence this door immediately"
Madam Pomfrey huffed as the headmaster cast a silencing charm at the offending door.
He then turned and saw Hermione watching him.
"Ah Miss Granger I'm glad you are back with us" the Headmaster said while seating himself on a stool between Harry and Hermione's beds.
Hermione smiled slightly before asking "What happened?"
"Actually I was hoping you could tell me" said the headmaster "All I know is that a rather angry dragon appeared during breakfast this morning"
Hermione frowned for a moment trying to recall everything that had happened over the past day or so, she remembered finding herself at Voldemorts lair and that was it but then a soft voice spoke in her mind.
"Take your time" it said in amusement.
"You!" Hermione exclaimed suddenly.
"Me?" Albus asked in surprise, Hermione's outburst making him jump.
"No sorry Headmaster" Hermione amended "I mean well...I just remembered what happened and...who helped me"
"Go on" the headmaster urged.
Hermione was silent for a moment before she decided on her answer "It was me who helped me, or rather another me"
Anyone else would have been confused by this strange explanation but not Albus Dumbledore he just smiled and replied as though this was an answer to a question in class.
"Ah yes, your animagus form"
Hermione nodded "How did you-"
"Professor Ignis sensed you power before you disappeared. He explained that the shock and pain of having Harry took away from you in such a violent manner jolted your powers awake"
Hermione nodded slightly at this "Yes but it was more than that I think. She took over, she spoke to me in my mind and said she would help and I let her"
"It is a good thing that your other self was just as concerned about Harry as you were" Dumbledore said his eyes twinkling "If I may ask, what IS your animagus form?"
"Something called a Raiju" Hermione replied making Albus gasped softly "She told me all about herself, or rather myself, as we were running to help Harry. I've never heard of a Raiju before but I caught sight of myself in a window and she looks very beautiful"
"My word" Albus breathed "The Raiju was once a rare but not unknown sight in Japan, it is said that the earliest mages of Japan would summon the Raiju with gifts of cherry's and ask them to create rain clouds in order to keep crops from dying. They were thought to have been extinct for at least seven hundred years."
Hermione stared at her reflection in the water jug next to her bed wide eyed. She had something so special somewhere inside her and she had never known. She looked over at Harry still fast asleep, it was because of him that her special power had awoke. She smiled at that thought.
Suddenly a thought struck Hermione and she cursed herself for not thinking of it earlier.
"Professor, what happened to Harry?" Hermione asked with urgency "I remember bringing him back to Hogwarts but he was rampaging in his dragon form, and I admit now I think about it this wasn't the best place to bring him but at the time..."
"I doubt you had much time to think about such things Hermione" the Headmaster said soothingly "Besides I can't think of anywhere else you could have taken him"
Hermione nodded relieved a little but voiced her other worries "But what about when we got here? He didn't hurt anyone did her?"
The headmaster smiled "No he did not. He seemed very intent on protecting you, and although there were a few close calls there was no real harm done"
Hermione sank back onto her pillows before another question popped into her head but before she could ask it the hospital wing door opened and Professor Ignis and Neville walked in.
Jericho looked very tired Hermione noticed and Neville looked a little odd too but she couldn't place why at the moment. She also noticed Jericho and Professor Dumbledore exchange a look at Neville and then a quick nod from Jericho.
"I'm glad you're awake Hermione" Jericho said.
"How're you feeling?" asked Neville
"Fine" she smiled "are you both OK?"
"Never better" came the reply from Jericho but only a small nod from Neville.
"I was just about to ask when you two came in, how did you calm Harry down?" Hermione asked looking at the Headmaster and then Jericho.
"Don't look at us" Jericho said with a smirk.
Dumbledore chuckled a little "Yes, it was mister Longbottom here that successfully calmed Harry"
Hermione stared and Neville looked at his feet.
"But...how?" Hermione puzzled looking at her shy friend.
Dumbledore gave a small sigh before beginning to explain "I just want you to realise that Harry had no idea who anyone was or what was going on. All he knew was that you had both arrived at Hogwarts and you had passed out next to the greenhouses and he was going to make sure you were safe."
"I assume his initial transformation was caused by seeing you in danger?" Jericho asked.
Hermione nodded her head solemnly "I think so yes"
"Well I think that when you transported Harry here he didn't really comprehend what had happened" Jericho explained "He probably thought you were both still at Voldemorts hideaway and was still ready for any threat, anyway you did wake up at one point and started moving towards the castle."
Hermione frowned, she did not remember that.
"You were probably concussed quite badly at that point as you didn't seem to notice the massive dragon above you. Anyway you startled Harry, suddenly appearing form beneath him and all and well he grabbed you"
Neville winced a little at this but didn't look up from his shoes.
"Neville ran out and stopped Harry from doing any more than that. He sent Harry flying and knocked him out" Jericho finished.
After a second of silence Hermione spoke up "yes, but how?"
"I'm an Awakened Animagus" came Neville's small voice "Professor Ignis just explained to me"
"Wow..." Hermione breathed. She didn't really know how to react, on the one hand it was an amazing thing to find out and in many ways was wonderful but on the other hand thanks to ministry laws it could be a very dangerous thing to be.
Just then Harry stirred. He groaned and put a hand to his head, everyone turned to look at him just as Neville proclaimed "I need to go" and fled out the infirmary doors.
Harry blinked a couple of times and finally his eyes found focus. He looked around the room once before his eyes landed on Hermione.
Harry instantly sprang up and out of bed and raced across to her bed and threw his arms around her.
"Harry what-" Hermione exclaimed but was cut off at the sound of her boyfriend sobbing into her shoulder.
"I'm so sorry Hermione" Harry breathed "I'm sorry"
Sorry about such a long wait. Hope you can forgive me. Some real world stuff went off.
Hope I haven't lost any of you.