Disclaimer: Harry Potter and other characters are owned by J.K. Rowling. I only own the creativity of this short one-shot.
Ron had thought of many possible ways that could die since agreeing to come with Harry on his hunt for Horcruxes.
But death by a dragon? Not on his probable list.
Swearing at the top of his voice, Ron clung to the dragon's scaly back, his words lost in the roaring wind as the dragon rose higher above the English countryside. The cold wind chafed his lips, but felt soothing on his numerous burns that littered his face and arms. This did not soothe him as he squinted against the freezing wind, trying to see the ground and failing.
In front of him, he could see Harry's white hands, holding onto the dragon for dear life. From behind him, he could her faint sobbing sounds, and knew that Hermione was just as panicked as he was. He was not surprised that Harry was so calm; after all, the noble git was a brave as you could get.
The dragon climbed higher into the clouds, desperately relying on his sense of smell to get as far away from its previous prison as possible.
Ron lost track of the time, but paused in his foul rant to yell at Harry some time later. "What doyou reckon it's looking for?"
"No idea," Harry bellowed back. Ron groaned, his numb hands twitching with discomfort, but he did not relinquish his death grip on the dragon.
They continued to climb, heading North at a steady pace.
As they flew, horrible thoughts swirled inside Ron's head. When has this bloody beat eaten? What if it takes us out to sea? What if it feels us sitting on its back? What if-
Stop, he told himself firmly. Get a grip.
It seemed like hours later when he noticed the dragon dropping lower, drifting toward a vast lake that raced beneath him.
"Is it my imagination," he bellowed to Harry, "or are we losing height?"
He watched as Harry swiveled carefully around, peering into the dark water below.
"I say we jump when it gets low enough!" Harry called back. "Straight into the water before it realizes we're here!"
He and Hermione agreed, The latter a little faintly.
When Ron could see a streak of yellow darting over the water, Harry yelled, "NOW!"
Ron grabbed Hermione's arm, and they dove off of the scaly back into the unknown. Hermione's shrieks echoed faintly in Ron's ears, and he too yelled out as they made contact with the freezing substance below.
The blow knocked the air out of his lungs, and he kicked upward, keeping a firm hold on Hermione's flailing arm. Together, their heads broke the surface, and they saw Harry striking out for the shore. Ron pulled Hermione in that direction, and they began to fight their way through the tangled water reeds and other plants.
When at last they collapsed, soaked and groaning, onto the grass, Hermione simply curled up, shaking and whimpering softly. Ron, who could not find enough strength to get up, saw Harry struggle to his feet, and put the protective enchantments around them as usual.
When he had finished, he joined them, dropping to the ground next to Ron.
Ron peered at his fellow Gryffindors, horrified. They had angry red burns all over their bodies, and their robes were scarce and full of holes. Ron knew that he had fared no better; the freezing water had long since dried, leaving his skin raw and painful again.
Without a word, Hermione took out the tiny Dittany bottle, wincing as she dabbed at her numerous burns. She passed it to Ron, who did the same before handing it to Harry. Hermione pulled out clean robes and jugs of pumpkin juice from her bag, and once they had all changed, they gulped down the welcome liquid.
"Well, on the upside," Ron spoke finally, watching the skin on his hands regrow, "we got the Horcrux. On the downside-"
"- no sword," Harry finished.
"No sword," Ron repeated with disgust."That double-crossing little scab..."
Harry pulled the Horcrux from the pocket of the wet jacket he had thrown off and set it down on the grass in front of Ron. Glinting in the sun, it drew their eyes as they swigged their bottles of juice.
"At least we can't wear it this time, that'd look a bit weird hanging around our necks," Ron snorted, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand.
Hermione looked across the lake to the far bank where the dragon was still drinking.
"What'll happen to it, do you think?" she asked, "Will it be alright?"
"You sound like Hagrid," Ron snickered. "It's a dragon, Hermione, it can look after itself. It's us we need to worry about."
"What do you mean?"
"Well I don't know how to break this to you," Ron said seriously. "but I think they might have noticed we broke into Gringotts."
They started to laugh, and once started, it was difficult to stop.
"What are we going to do, though?" Hermione finally spoke up with a hiccup. "He'll know, won't he? You-Know-Who will know we know about his Horcruxes!"
"Maybe they'll be too scared to tell him!" Ron hoped, "Maybe they'll cover up -"
His voice died as Harry gave a mighty yell, his eyes unfocusing while his hands flew up to clutch his scar.
"HARRY!" Hermione shrieked, horrified, as Harry began to thrash on the ground, moaning.
Ron seized her arms, preventing her from rushing to her feet. "Calm down, it's just his scar. It's not like this hasn't happened before."
She went limp in his arms as Harry began to cry out in earnest, his eyes flying shut as his face contorted in agony.
"What d'you reckon he's seeing?" Ron finally spoke over Harry's indistinct muttering.
"I don't know-" she shrieked as Harry formed audible words, writing on the ground.
"The lake, the shack, and Hogwarts…. The lake, the shack, and Hogwarts….." his hands pressed tightly over his scar as he repeated the words several times.
Finally, with an almighty cry of pain, his eyes flew open, tears of pain glistening there as he kept his hands clutched over his scar. He stared up blearily at Ron and Hermione, his chalky white face contorted.
"He knows. He knows and he's going to check where the others are, and the last one," Harry was already on his feet," is at Hogwarts. I knew it. I knew it."
"What?" Ron could not make sense of it all, refused to make sense of it. "But what did you see? How do you know?"
"I saw him find out about the cup, I - I was in his head, he's-" Harry paused briefly. "he's seriously angry, and scared too, he can't understand how we knew, and now he's going to check the others are safe, the ring first. He thinks the Hogwarts one is safest, because Snape's there, because it'll be so hard not to be seen getting in. I think he'll check that one last, but he could still be there within hours -"
"Did you see where in Hogwarts it is?" Ron scrambled to his feet, staring at Harry's pale and shocked face.
"No, he was concentrating on warning Snape, he didn't think about exactly where it is -"
"Wait, wait!" cried Hermione as Ron caught up to the Horcrux and Harry pulled out the Invisibility Cloak again. "We can't just go, we haven't got a plan, we need to -"
"A plan? Hermione- are you mad?"
"We need to get going," Harry's words echoed in Ron's ears, giving him strength. "Can you imagine what he's going to do once he realizes the ring and the locket are gone? What if he moves the Hogwarts Horcrux, decides it isn't safe enough?"
"But how are we going to get in?"
"We'll go to Hogsmeade," Harry said confidently. "and try to work something out once we see what the protection around the school's like. Get under the Cloak, Hermione, I want to stick together this time."
"But we don't really fit -"
"It'll be dark, no one's going to notice our feet."
The flapping of enormous wings across the black water made Ron look up. The dragon had drunk its fill and risen into the air. He paused in his preparations to watch it climb higher and higher, now black against the rapidly darkening sky, until it vanished over a nearby mountain.
Then Hermione walked forward and took her place between Ron and Harry as the latter pulled the Cloak down as far as it would go. Ron had one more brief glimpse of the breathtaking scenery before he was engulfed in the crushing blackness once more.
A/N: Well, what do you think of my take of Ron's POV of Harry discovering where the final Horcrux is? Review please!