Chapter 28 – Where's Harry?
A/n – I've found at least three different sources of where the infirmary is, and they all claim different floors. So for Burnt, let's just make it the 3rd or 4th story and be done with it.
Harry was bored and frustrated and angry that Dumbledore was at the root of everything still.
He had tried to rearrange himself into a comfortable position, but after a couple of warning glares from Madame Pomfrey, he had given up. He did find it interesting that the small woman was still capable of conveying such a frightening glance when he was in this form.
Luckily the window beside Teddy's bed was slightly cracked, and it allowed his more than proficient nose to explore the smells carried in on the breeze. He was glad that Pomfrey hadn't discovered the open window, given the chill in the air, but he supposed that she and his father had more than enough things on their plates at present.
He glanced over to Severus. His father had a number of books spread out on a bed in front of him, and was feverishly trying to look up a countercharm to the spell that Dumbledore had used. Severus occasionally would leave the room to go raid the headmaster's bookshelf, but he was only gone briefly each time.
His grandfather, on the other hand—claw?—was always there at the door to Dumbledore's room. From time to time, Singe would hear a conversation filtered in from Severus and Moody, but he wasn't really paying very close attention to either man.
His new body was clamouring at him for attention, and he was beginning to have difficulties ignoring it. He wanted to be outside exploring. He wanted to try his wings and stretch his legs and roar loudly enough to make everyone around hear him. He was hungry and his throat hurt from trying to hold in his flames.
Once more, his eyes went to the slightly open window and he used his snout to push it open a wee bit more.
Maybe I could just lean out a bit? He thought; taking notice of how far off the ground they were.
He put his head out the window and took a deep breath of the cold Scottish air. Steam rose up in front of his snout and he put a claw up on the windowsill, pushing the window open farther. He could see the Forbidden Forest from this distance, but more importantly, he could smell it. There were things moving in there—potentially tasty things—and before he knew it, he was crouched on the ledge, teetering precariously.
"Harry!?" He heard his father say in his head, followed by the echoing sound of, "Singe!" He heard his father shout.
The surprise jostled him and suddenly he was falling falling falling—FLYING.
It was glorious. He was free. No more crutch; no more leg that only half worked. His wings hardly needed any instruction to move him forward in the icy winter air. They reacted to the merest of whims and with a happy roar he took off through the sky.
. . .
"Harry!?" Severus tried to call out across their mental link.
"Singe!" He yelled aloud as his son turned dragon leapt from the window. He goggled as the window briefly reshaped itself around Harry's large form before returning to its normal dimensions.
"Damn it!" Moody cursed as Severus rushed to the window.
He leaned out and watched as Singe roared and blew flames up into the already darkening afternoon sky. Reaching out across their mental link, Severus tried to get a response from his son, but all he could feel was a rush of unrestrained joy.
"He's flying toward the Forbidden Forest," Severus growled, turning to Moody.
The older man's normal eye was squinted and his mouth was pressed into a thin unhappy line.
"Hopefully he won't run into anythin' bigger'n him in there," Moody grunted, knuckles white around his wand.
Severus took a deep breath as he mentally scanned his options. They weren't many.
"I'm going to Hagrid's cabin and get him to help me. He'll likely be glad to help, given the involvement of a dragon. Stay here with Dumbledore," Severus said quickly, already striding for the exit.
"You wan' me ta help Poppy with readin'?" Moody called out as he got to the doorway of the infirmary.
Looking back over the still unconscious occupants of Poppy's domain, Severus sneered his answer. "If you can read that well, be my guest."
He turned before he could see Moody's two-fingered response.
. . .
Singe was working on finishing off his second cow when he felt the ground begin to rumble under his claws. Suddenly a group of centaurs burst into the clearing that he had landed in and began to point arrows and spears at him. He shrieked in indignation and rose up onto his hind legs with his wings open to emphasize just how much bigger he was than them. Jets of flames came from his nostrils and several trees around him burst into flame from the superheated air.
He was pleased when the majority of them backed up, but he still didn't like the sight of so many sharp objects pointed at him. A male centaur with no weapons and his hands raised eased himself forward as most of the rest of the herd continued to retreat.
Singe shrieked his displeasure as the creature in front of him continued to move into his personal space, but he managed to refrain from lighting him on fire.
The centaur's eyes were dark and they met Singe's sight with a deep calmness that he was unable to resist. Slowly he put his foreclaws back on the earth and cocked his head to the side as a voice made itself heard within his mind.
"This is protected ground, little one. Are you lost?"
He narrowed his eyes and snorted smoke at the centaur man.
"Hungry. Not lost," He answered silently. And to be honest, he wasn't even particularly hungry anymore.
"There is a half-giant at the edge of the forest who can provide you with food. His face is very furry and he is prone to excitement, but his hands are gentle. He will not harm you. I cannot promise the same for the other denizens of this forest."
"Hagrid. I know him," Harry answered. He was surprised that he understood anyone other than Severus, but he was glad that they had tried to talk to him first before attacking him.
Severus—the thought made him start and shake his head slightly. Where is Severus? His hunger had made him act without thinking and suddenly he felt very ashamed. Am I a Gryffindor or a Slytherin?
"We will escort you to his dwelling then," The centaur informed him.
He narrowed his eyes at the creature's order, but finally decided to agree.
"I can find it myself," He growled, breaking their connection as his powerful wings took him to the air.
. . .
Hagrid was gone when Singe got to his cabin, but it smelled like he hadn't been gone for very long. He could also smell Severus' scent, and he fought the urge to go back into the Forbidden Forest to look for him.
Singe lightly banged his head on the side of the cabin. He was an idiot.
"Father?" He called out across their mental link.
He was the biggest idiot ever.
"Harry? Singe?" He heard Severus' voice and collapsed in a heap by Hagrid's door in relief. "Blast it, child. Don't do that to me!"
Harry put his clawed forepaws over his head in shame.
"Where are you?"
"Hagrid's cabin," Singe answered morosely.
"Don't go anywhere. Hagrid and I will be there in ten minutes at the most."
After a few more minutes of wallowing in self-pity, he sat up and cocked his head to the side. What was that strange scent coming from Hagrid's cabin?
He checked around him, but it was dark and he couldn't see or smell his father anywhere.
I just want to look. Just a quick look.
He pushed Hagrid's door open with a claw and angled his head inside. It was very warm, almost too warm. Squeezing his wings against his body, he managed to work his way almost entirely into Hagrid's cabin. His tail was still outside, but he hardly noticed it so intent was he on the thing in the middle of the room sitting innocently on a nest of blankets on top of the table. It was an egg—a big egg.
He raised a claw up to the egg's surface and tapped it lightly. The awareness that was prickling at the edges of his mind suddenly blossomed into full force.
"Hello?" He questioned it. His claw was still on the egg and he could feel it vibrating.
A wash of feelings rushed over him as the creature within the egg answered him.
"Me you us here there where? Alone not alone here you here we're here together here."
Singe hardly noticed that the egg begun cracking. He was completely transfixed on the newly awakened existence that was reaching out to him. A low rumble began to work its way out of his chest, something that would have been akin to a purr in anything other than a six foot reptile.
"I'm here. We're here together," Singe reassured the small life that was burgeoning within his mind.
He barely noticed Severus and Hagrid's arrival, nor their subsequent argument. His entire world was focused inward on one thing.
When it finally hatched—when she finally met his eyes—the outside world suddenly ballooned up around him again.
"Singe?" He heard his father ask; the word echoed in his father's mind a moment after his mouth moved.
"Child?" He heard his father ask directly in his mind.
The egg cracked further as she worked her way out, and then suddenly it was over. There was a little wrinkled baby dragon—a hatchling, his mind provided out of nowhere—sprawled on the table in front of them. The rumbling purr in his chest increased in volume, and the little one lifted her head to stare unceasingly back at him.
The moment was broken when she sneezed and a small burst of flame burst from her mouth.
He heard Hagrid's coo echoed through Severus' own perception, but it didn't really register until the large man took a step toward his hatchling. Quite abruptly, the pleased rumble in his chest turned feral and he bared his teeth threateningly toward him.
Thankfully, Hagrid stopped all forward movement and Singe relaxed minutely. The hatchling was easy to tuck under one arm as he moved back outside. Singe began melting the snow outside Hagrid's cabin with quiet precision until withered grass appeared. Putting her down next to the cabin, he began to dig a nest out of the frozen ground.
His work was interrupted as Severus reappeared in his peripheral.
"Will you let me help? I can remove the dirt a bit faster with magic," His father offered.
Cocking his head to the side, Singe pondered the offer before acquiescing. Minutes later, a hole deep enough to hold him and his hatchling had been dug out. After another short mental conference with his father, Singe breathed fire over the edges of the nest. In turn, Severus charmed his flames to continue to burn without fuel and also to withstand wind and wet.
Pleased with his fire ringed nest, Singe gathered his hatchling to his side and lay down. It was time for a nap. He slept with one eye open, the better to protect the little one at his side. He wasn't entirely certain he trusted Hagrid not to let curiosity get the better of him. He genuinely liked the man, but he wouldn't be responsible for his reaction should the large man try to steal his own.
. . .
The next morning was only notable in that Severus Snape's owl made a handful of trips throughout the Great Hall before finally making its way to the infirmary. At exactly ten that morning, he swept into the infirmary in a manner much reminiscent to his entrances to his classroom. Waiting for him next to Teddy's bedside were Hermione Granger, Millicent Bulstrode and Neville Longbottom.
Moody was also there, although his primary purpose was as guard to Dumbledore's room. The headmaster was due to be transferred to a cell in the Ministry before too long, but no one knew exactly when. It was better not to take chances when the old man was involved.
Surprisingly, Neville Longbottom was the first to speak once they were all assembled. Intelligently, he waited for Snape to spell the room silent against any possible listening ears before asking the one question they all most wanted the answer to.
"Sir? Where's Harry?"