A/N: Just a little note to say that this story has a 4-chapter-long companion called "Fighting With Dragons" which I just finished revamping. =) It's all Draco and Bellatrix drama and takes place months before the birth of Cain. It's rated a soft M for mature themes and adult language, so you'll want to make sure your filters are on the right settings if you're interested. ;)
Also, many thanks to my readers! It gladdens me that you find this story enjoyable enough to follow. ;)
Up! Higher and higher!
Our departure is just in time: blue-furred cat-beasts with horns poking out of their heads, dog-sized creatures with two heads pulsating in writhing tentacles, shaggy monsters with crocodile-like jaws, and black-boned skeletal horses all ablaze with fire swamp the courtyard, eliciting a smorgasbord of spells, curses, and jinxes from our gathered spectators. The higher we get the more come into view — literally thousands of them, and almost as diverse as a bag of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. The largest are bigger than dragons and on par with sauropod dinosaurs; the smallest are about the same size as Cornish pixies. Some have fur. Some are coated in slime, grime, scales, feathers, naked pink flesh, or any combination of these. The number of horns, heads, limbs, and other appendages varies drastically. Most have big jaws lined with row upon row of razor-sharp teeth and the claws to match. Those lacking claws or mouths have spear-horns, piercing hooves, beaks, and/or magic to make up for it.
Many seem to have magic, actually: a fair number are either on fire or surrounded by electricity, and several are demonstrating their ability to levitate, magic-leap, and fire elements or spells from eyes, mouths, tails, or paws.
Harry utters something I don't catch; I heighten my hearing and focus in on him in case he follows the thought up.
The biting wind and rain lash us all over, yet Dad's wings continue to beat steadily. The locking charm keeps us firmly in place.
The four-winged panthers jet away from Dad's fire and circle us like hungry wolves. "Foes! Foes! Enemies of the Mistress! Feel our teeth! Feel our claws! DIE!" they scream, though I am the only one who can understand them. I know from experience that everyone else hears only angry growling and hisses.
Their burning, pupiless eyes are even redder than Dad's. The white of their fangs flashing against the pits of their mouths is the only other color to be seen on their bodies.
Dad powers his way through them without slowing down in the slightest, sending more of the feathered felines scattering.
Undeterred, the panthers continue to flock around us snarling ferociously. Pumping their wings feverishly against the elements they fly over, beneath, and to the sides of us, hesitant to get too close.
The biggest one finds his courage and swoops in — right for me!
I reach for my wand —
"Stupefy!" Harry beats me on the draw. The red bolt hits the animal dead-on. Instead of dropping to the ground unconscious he merely flares all four wings while shaking his head and blinking a few times, stunned.
"Immobilus!" Hermione's spell almost renders him immobile; his wings continue to flap, but not nearly fast enough to keep him in the air. He spins down to the earth like a giant black pinwheel, the wind blowing him towards Hogwarts.
The other panthers don't seem to care, but they do mind their distance.
My wand is in my hand now and ready to go.
"Wow!" Harry marvels.
"Merlin's beard!" Ron exclaims, "Who would've ever thought Malfoy would get so powerful?"
About half a kilometer away Draco is hovering a couple hundred meters off the ground, held up by magic alone. His hands flash and glow luminously with the colors of the spells he's belting out faster than the fastest dueling champions. Even more impressive than the speed at which he is spellcasting is the speed at which he is teleporting: Draco's title as 'The World's Fastest Apparater' — while technically a misnomer — is very well-earned; no one else even comes close, including the other Fen. As we watch he vanishes only to reappear instantly scores of meters away firing curses, lightning, and fireballs. Then he is gone again and in another spot, doing the same, defying gravity the whole time.
The wyvern-beasts can't keep up with him. Scores are killed. The lucky ones are dazed, cut, blinded, stunned, scorched, or otherwise wounded by his rapid-fire strikes. His magic dragon slices through the air like a knife, catching monsters and shredding them to pieces in its jaws and talons. Their attacks on it are in vain: magic feels no pain. It cannot be weakened by the physical. Elements do not affect it.
The wyvern-beasts are being slaughtered en masse — I look down and see hundreds dying or dead on the ground, being devoured by their ravenous land-based brethren.
Draco appears standing on the back of his dragon as it bites through the tail of an angry wyvern-beast. His hands blaze a blinding white. He is charging up for something…two white discs! One from each hand. I sharpen my vision and see that they are in the shape of spinning muggle sawblades. No more than a few centimeters in thickness but as wide around as redwood trunks, they rip through the air as fast as any other spell, homing in loosely on wyvern-beasts and cutting cleanly through any parts they touch. What is unique about them is they don't vanish after hitting something: they continue wheeling towards more targets.
I've never seen my grandfather use them before, but I've heard him talk about it. Along with his magical dragon summon, Star Scream, homing killing curses, and ability to turn invisible without the aid of an invisibility cloak for short periods of time, the sawblades are the strongest magic he possesses. He will not be able to keep both them and the dragon going at the same time for long, and he's going to have to steal some magic from something very soon if he wants to keep unleashing such devastating attacks and using his Fen abilities to their fullest.
"That's…amazing." Hermione is on the verge of being at a loss for words. I twist halfway around and see her watching Draco with envious mesmerized eyes through each wingbeat. One hand holds her wand, the other grips the spike in front of her tightly. Her hair is a mess of wet brown curls clinging to her head and face.
Harry and Ron are watching as well, though their attention is a little more divided on the panthers and ground beasts. Harry is remaining pretty calm, all things considered, but Ron looks sick.
"What's that?" Harry points to Draco's Dragon Mark, still glittering strongly in the sky and confusing the daylights out of a handful of wyvern-beasts trying to attack it.
(( Draco's Dragon Seal. )) I answer, hoping they will dismiss it as a vanity issue and not delve any further.
"It's the catalyst!" one of the flying panthers hisses, "Leave him and kill the others! Rip! Bite! Mutilate! Let us rend and tear that we may lick the blood off our jowls!"
"Rip! Tear! Feast!" the others chorus. They merge together into a single super flock and chase after us, the closest being only a dragon's length behind the tip of Dad's tail.
Suddenly the body beneath me buckles.
I pivot back to my original position just in time to see the great snakelike neck dipping down.
Wild rush of air!
The locking charm holds me fast to Dad's body so it feels as though I am on a thrill-ride free-falling straight down.
Ron shrieks "We're going to diiiee!"
Faster and faster we plummet, the ground racing up to meet us in a dark green blur.
I have to fight to keep my eyes open. My hair blows straight back behind me, the roots pulling on my scalp.
Directly below me Dad's head, a living arrow aimed straight at the ground.
"What are you doing?" Harry and Hermione yelp almost in unison.
My father doesn't respond. With a sudden jerk he flares his wings and pulls his head halfway back up.
Legions of monsters race to storm Hogwarts below. The ground is one big moving mass of them.
A black dragon hand shoots out into my view. I can't see from this angle, but it is likely the other is out as well. It glows a pure, electric red.
The wind tries to blow us asunder — Dad's wings beat it back so that we remain hovering, waiting, a hundred yards or so above ground.
"Kill them!" The panthers' screams are almost lost in the fury of the wind and monsters.
A lump rises in my throat.
Ten-thousand plus didn't seem like such a big number before I was faced with it: now I see how hopeless the situation really is. The army truly appears endless, stretching out in a thick band that has to be a kilometer wide over the horizon.
Granted the horizon has hills and trees, but this is not good for morale. Dad wasn't overreacting in the slightest when he summoned his every ally and instructed Dumbledore to do the same…god there are so many.
A massive jet of red erupts from Dad's taloned hand and it and a twin each crash into a cluster of a dozen or so beasts, vaporizing them on contact.
The earth ripples out like water in two giant shockwaves. Beasts everywhere are knocked flat, smashed, and buried under tons of moving mud and rock. Where the ripples collide the land thrusts up to form a new and uneven range of hills. The ground continues to shake even as the swells die out and vanish, leaving hundreds dead and wounded in their wake.
The cries of the wounded ones are earsplitting.
I realize I have left my hearing turned up and quickly return it to normal.
Dad opens his mouth and shoots thick tendrils of snaking lightning into the herd of survivors. Lightning that jumps from target to target for a wide radius, electrifying them all.
More bellows of pain.
Surprisingly, few of the beasts die of it. When the lightning lets up multitudes of angry faces turn to the sky.
The panthers have caught up to us — the closest one misses Harry by a measure of centimeters and falls past us, moving in a greatly-delayed manner. He probably won't be able to move his wings fast enough to have much control over where he's going, just like the panther that was struck with Immobilus earlier.
"Avifores!" Hermione creates a flock of conjured birds which stream directly into the panthers' faces. "Oppugno!"
The birds begin attacking the panthers, raking and ripping at their eyes and noses with their sharp claws and beaks. Eagles, falcons, ravens, swallows, swans, budgerigars — no bird is too big or too small, they all give 'em hell. And there is something insanely hilarious about watching a tiny budgerigar dive-bomb a panther's nose, latching on to the nostrils with its feet while it pecks it bloody.
I aim my wand and am about to fire a Depulso into the distracted feline flock when Dad pulls up violently.
"Immoooobilus!" Ron calls, voice climbing as he overstresses the second syllable, and it is doubtful the spell actually leaves his wand.
Dad bounces up and down wildly like the bumps on the back of the Loch Ness Monster; I can't keep anything in focus for more than a fraction of a second at a time. The air behind us breaks with the growls and spits of frustrated, wounded panthers. Flashes of light whiz up and around us, piercing the purple sky.
Enemy spells. Oh boy.
(( Hold on to your wands! )) Dad warns. He flips into a barrel-roll and plummets back towards the earth, washing the army below in a spray of frosty blue coldfire which burns with coldness the way normal fire burns with heat and makes the same soft, musical tinkling sound as a breeze moving through icicles.
Some beasts manage to get a shield up in enough time, but most are frozen over solid with a layer of fine white frost. As with fire, the severity of their condition depends on how much exposure to the flame they received and whether or not they have legendary regenerative powers and/or a natural immunity to the element. A brief brush with coldfire will frostbite the areas it touches; a strong enough blast will freeze a living organism to its core, killing it instantly.
I think ice is my element — I love coldfire. Not only is it beautiful and deadly, it beautifies those it kills.
Burns are ugly and fire leaves the sickening smell of charred flesh lingering in the air.
"Is that ice?" Harry is having a slow day, apparently.
"Sure looks like!" Hermione's voice is shocked with excitement, "This is incredible!"
(( They have an ice weakness, )) Dad broadcasts publicly, (( Use it to your advantage. ))
(( Cutting hexes work on the things that look like furless pink bears with vulture-heads and tentacles. )) Draco adds helpfully, (( But make sure you cut their tentacles off first or they'll just use them to heal. The crocodile-bulls have magic in their mouths, the things that look like shriveled green goblins store it in their hands. Watch out for their electrical pulses, by the way. And really watch out for the blue-furred lions with horns — they'll bite on to your face and suck the magic and life right out of you. ))
(( They power-drain? ))
(( Yes. They use the magic to generate fireballs, lightning, and protective shields as far as I've seen. Physical attacks seem to work best on them, so if anyone out there is good at transfiguration, conjuring, or has a strong animagus form, now is the time! ))
A strong animagus form. Those are quite rare in nonFen — the strongest I've personally seen is wolf. Dad once had a bear animagus Death Eater, but Draco Star Screamed her into insanity which lead to her eventual death at the hands of Dark Aurors a couple of months later. It is unlikely that any of the Hogwarts lot have a form strong enough to be a match for beasts the size of lions. They're going to have to rely heavily on transfiguration and conjuring.
"Rrraaaawwrr!" The death-cry of a panther that got too close to a dragon's jaws and snapped up in its teeth.
Dad shakes it violently for good measure, garnishing the wind with droplets of blood and feathers before spitting it out. The matted, lifeless carcass drops like a stone.
Unhindered by the incident, Dad gains altitude and flies high over the tallest treetops of the Forbidden Forest.
Hermione, Ron, and Harry continue to assault the panthers who managed to thwart the flock.
I spin around and lash out at the one nearest to me with a silent Immobilus.
The now super-slow feline is helpless to save itself from the strong winds and shares the fate of the others.
I fire a Stupefy at a more distant panther, briefly enhancing my vision to aim.
My aim is true, but the panther escapes in plenty of time by evading. My next shot misses as well.
I'm going to have to learn to home some of my spells. The sooner the better.
Quite suddenly, the remaining hundred or so panthers pull back and begin circling wildly, an enormous black tornado of wings and bodies. "He's here! He's here!" they scream joyously, "Grief will take care of them!"
(( The panthers are screaming about something called "Grief" arriving and taking care of us. He's here right now, according to them. )) I inform my father.
Dad swears telepathically. (( I think I see him! ))
I whip back so that I am again facing forward and search the sky for anything I haven't already seen.
Wyvern-beasts avoiding us in their quest for Hogwarts. A pair of curious thestrals wheeling a kilometer off. Legions of dementors streaming after the wyvern-beasts.
Then I see it: a monstrous winged shape cloaked with black mist emerging from the bottom of a thick, deep-violet cloud.
The first thing that strikes me is just how massive the thing is — about twice the size of Dad's dragon morph, which is the largest dragon in existence even counting Draco's dragon.
In other words, it is almost like seeing the Great Sphinx of Giza flying at us.
The mane and tail are horselike and either on fire or made of fire. Unsettling, featureless yellow eyes burn like twin beacons through the gloom. Here and there part of a taloned foot, leathery wings, horns, and hooves flash in and out of view. The rest of the creature is shrouded and hidden by the strange black mist whipping about it like the wind fronts of a hurricane.
"Ggrrraaaaawheert! Mmmrrraaahhh!" Grief flies straight at us, and against the million other chaotic background noises I hear the flapping of heavy, very powerfully-built wings.
Dad rises to the challenge and charges him dead-on, fighting the wind every centimeter of the way.
"What are you doing?" Ron yells in a panic, "Are you crazy?"
"That thing is twice your size!" Harry yells equally as loudly, as if anyone needed that pointed out.
Hermione says something in a normal volume of voice that I don't catch.
(( Silence! I know what I'm doing — just be ready to back me up. )) There is a disturbing amount of fear in Dad's tone.
Well, for him anyway.
The others might not have caught it.
But I did.
I prepare my wand. Try to think of the spells and curses which have the highest probability of being Fen-strength and effective. It's frightening, but Dad's right: better to kill this thing now than give it a shot at Hogwarts, which will be much more helpless before it.
"You're bloody kidding me!" All is not well in Ronland.
What a coward.
I feel a rush of adrenalin and struggle to pinpoint a weak spot….
Dad's jaws spring open and a strong spout of coldfire erupts from his mouth.
A stream of fire bursts from somewhere within the mist to meet it, and the two flames war against one another.
"Sectumsempra!" I fire Snape's homemade slashing curse into the mist — blindly. Grief displays no signs of pain, and I have no way of knowing how effective it was.
To be on the safe side, I cast the flame freezing charm on myself. Urge the others to do the same.
A few silent spells flit past me to vanish in the monster's mist.
"Looks like the extinguishing charm doesn't work! Is its hair made of Fiend Fire?" Hermione frets.
Dad halts his flame and falls into a swandive.
The Voldemort mouse!
I check my pocket with a light tap.
Still sleeping, judging by his lack of reaction.
I shut my eyes against the stinging wind; I can barely breathe! I swear, one of these days I'm going to invent a charm to shield the user's face from winds in excess of 320 kph. That way, should anyone be crazy enough to want to fly at these speeds, they won't suffocate attempting to do so.
Dad swoops up with the breathtaking grace of a bird of prey pulling out of a stoop, using momentum to propel him directly towards Grief's belly, assuming he has one. Parting his jaws he fires a rapid flurry of red and black curses.
Not sure what the black ones are, but I know the red ones are Crucioes. Crucio is the strongest magic he can manage while in morph — try as he may he can't use Crucioburn, Blackburn, or Avada Kedavra. I'm not sure why. No one is. Could be that they're just too powerful and hard enough to cast in human form, which actually has some degree of logic to it considering the other Fen have a devil of a time doing non-elementals while in morph and can't even Cruciate.
The great mist beast falters…then drops!
"Grrraaaawwrr." The cry is muffled and subdued.
Dad moves out of its path, blasting it the whole time with a shower of curses. (( Hah! Guess he wasn't so tough after all! )) he gloats.
I wish I was convinced. It's too early to celebrate. A cold voice from the back of my mind warns me.
Dad's taloned hand shoots out and begins to glow a deep red. A whirling ball of magic begins to emerge, growing larger and larger.
Grief falls to our level — and lunges at us!
Sickle-claws rip deep into Dad's shoulders, barely missing me, slicing through mythril-like armor as though it were cardboard. Teeth the size of big swords pierce the serpentine neck…
If I don't act now, my father is dead. Even he can't survive a broken neck.
The next second is a blur: I point my wand at the place the teeth are coming from. And attempt a curse I've tried dozens of times before and never been able to successfully cast. "AVADA KEDAVRA!"
I mean it with all my heart and soul. Command every fiber of my being to make it as strong as I possibly can.
And it works!
For the first time ever, it works!
The blinding streak of green light hits its target truly.
"IIIEEEEEEEEE!" Grief's screech of pain is above and beyond deafening; it seems my eardrums shatter. He rockets backwards a hundred yards as though punched by the fist of Zeus, tearing out bloody chunks of dragon in his talons.
The shamrock aura appears all over Dad's body, halting the flow of blood from his wounds almost instantly and working super fast to heal them.
(( You alright? )) I ask, concerned.
Dad spreads his wings to their fullest and dips into a gentle glide, using the wind current to veer sharply away from Grief.
(( No, but I'll live. )) He sounds pained. Then, in a stronger voice, he says (( I'm going back in. Harry! Hermione! Ron! Follow Cain's example and hit it with Avada Kedavra — if one hurt it that much more might kill it. I can't fire killing curses in this form, but I still have a few tricks to play. ))
"Killing curses?" Hermione echoes in an octave of disbelief.
(( Yes! This thing isn't a human or innocent animal, it's a monster. We have to stop it HERE and NOW or the death toll is going to be staggering. Think about that if you're having trouble casting the curse. ))
"How about Draco?" Harry shouts, "Can't he help?"
(( No. He's already too drained to be of much use and desperately needed where he's at. Get ready! ))
Dad flips back around and charges Grief head-on again. His gashes and puncture wounds are sealed, and within the next two minutes, I know, he will have regenerated the lost tissue and made a complete recovery.
Speaking of recovery, Grief has recovered from the nasty little shock that, had he been any earthly creature, would have left him dead. He rushes to meet us, invisible but for the fire, eyes, and glimpses of wings and feet.
I lock my eyes on him. Time to die. I think venomously.
I aim for the space between his eyes…
Black shockwaves of magic racing at us!
Dad counters with a pair of special mobile Protegos expelled from each hand and climbs up higher into the air.
Parts of the shockwaves hit the barriers and bounce off, returning to Grief.
Dad seizes the moment where his nemesis is temporarily distracted to open his jaws and cut loose with an oval of invisible magic which distorts the air and rain around it as though it were comprised of liquid glass.
The flying behemoth ejects several more pulses of black shockwave from his body to counter the incoming hostile magic.
Fails to notice the new spell. Is struck in the face with something that explodes like a bomb into a hurricane-force gale probably only otherwise experienced on the Jovian worlds.
Such a powerful new wind ripping through the already-turbulent atmosphere produces a massive sonic BOOM! I feel the vibrations from it, but I don't actually hear it. Thank Slytherin's ghost my father remembered to throw up the sound-muffling charm around us in time, or we would all be deaf and bleeding from the ears.
Grief is like a spell let fly from a wand, hurtling head-over-feet nearly as fast as the wind that torments him, his concealing black mist utterly blown away.
"What was that? )) Harry and I ask in almost perfect unison.
(( A mix of Disillusion and the strongest wind element I could muster. )) Dad says with a good measure of pride.
The shamrock aura is gone from him. Battling the storm, he straightens himself to be horizontal with all four limbs tucked closely to his body and his neck and tail held out stiffly. Raising his wings halfway, he is suddenly aglow with a sparkling blue light.
It is like being in a dive all over again! Only this time we are flying, not falling. The treetops and glades below become a solid muddy-green haze; Grief races up like a stone wall in Quidditch.
(( Finish him! )) Dad barks hatefully.
I am only too eager. (( Gladly. ))
Now that Grief's mist is gone I see that he isn't quite as big as I thought — closer to one-and-a-half of Dad's dragon morphs, rather than two. If it weren't for the creatures I'd laid eyes on earlier I would say he is unlike anything I had ever seen or heard about in all my fourteen years of life.
His short, powerful jaws are like those of a dragon, leading into a head that sports two tapering horns that stick straight out to the sides like those of an Auroch bull. Two more horns, these spiraled and vertical, jut out of the top of the skull surrounded by the flaming sea of mane. The neck looks like it came straight off a gargantuan horse: the tail likewise in shape. The leathery black dragon wings each have a huge lance instead of claws or hands — lances that end in arrowhead hooks. He has a total of six legs: two pairs in the usual places and a pair just beneath the front. The first four are very dragon-like but tipped with claws that would put any dragon to shame. The back are those of an ox and end in sharp cloven hooves. In stockiness and shape, the body is intermediate between dragon, ox, and horse. Except for the wings and the last third of the dragon feet, the whole creature is coated in gorgeous red-velvet fur. Fur I wish my cat Brimstone could have.
When we've approached to within thirty meters, Dad slows back to normal speed and moves his wings again.
Grief tenses and looks ready to strike.
I don't give him the chance. "Avada Kedavra!"
My curse streaks out —
"Avada Kedavra!" Harry echoes.
My green death slams into the monster and is followed instantly by another.
"Avada Kedavra!" Again I attempt to slay the cretin.
Harry remains silent this time.
Hermione and Ron reprise their roles of inactivity; this is a bloody spectator-sport, they think.
Grief's death-shriek literally dies in his throat. One Fen-strength killing-curse was survivable, but a repeat with two more and an extra normal one thrown in is too much. All the light leaves his eyes. He drops to the ground like a couple of tons of bricks; trees snap and crack like kindling under his immense weight.
"We got him!" Hermione doesn't really sound as happy as she should, but rather relieved.
Dad skips the celebrations and coasts right into another super-speed glide.
By now I am as wet as if I'd jumped into a swimming pool, and chilled almost to the bone. All the rushing cold air doesn't help; I quickly cast the instant-drying charm on myself with a few abrupt movements of my wand. Thankfully I am familiar enough with the hot air charm not to have to go through the complicated wand motions at such a high speed — I simply face my left palm towards me and hold it out as far as I comfortably can, mentally commanding the desired effect.
Ah. The current of warm air feels good. I close my eyes and bask in it.
At our current rate we cover the remainder of the distance inside five minutes. I extinguish my hot air charm as Dad slows to a stop over the overgrowth he described and dips gently to the ground, spraying fire over an area of dense foliage to clear a spot for our landing.
And land we do, in a flutter of wings.
The locking charm releases and our willing dragon lays flat on the ground with his wings sprawled, forming two exit-slides. (( Hurry off. If I have to remove you you won't like it. ))
I watch as Harry, Ron, and Hermione all scramble for the wings.
I grow impatient. Consider morphing a bird and flying down. Remember I still have the Voldemort mouse in my pocket and scratch the idea.
Ron and Hermione, being closest to the wings, are the first off. Fortunately they each take a different one, speeding things up a bit.
Harry and I are next, and I waste no time in racing down.
This turns out to be a mistake — in my haste I trip over one of the wing-fingers and fall face-first in a diving slide. I launch my hands out in front of me. Rich dirt, sharp rocks, and charred plant-matter greet my palms.
I regain my footing quickly, hoping no-one saw.
The intoxicating fragrance of tropical rain-fresh plants and a dozen different species of flowers reaches my nose, masked only weakly by the burnt smell. Here the air is gentle and the rain falls in a light, drizzling mist. Strange, but it is also much warmer. A comfortable seventy-degrees Fahrenheit, if I had to guess.
Where are we, Hawaii?
The trio clump together predictably, and my father resumes his true shape in the same glowing flash of deep violet he lost it in. His hair is a bit tussled, but other than that he appears exactly as he was before the transformation. However, his eyes have lost some of their luster, and I know he is feeling the strain from all the stress he's been under, all the powerful magic he's had to use, the battle with Grief, and — possibly — lack of sleep. He gives his wand a little twitch and the burnt vegetation beneath us vanishes.
"Alright," he says wearily, "Here you are. I don't have any clue as to what's in there, but it will probably be extremely dangerous. The only advice I can give you is this: act like everything's a trap, trust no-one but yourselves, and above all, stay together." He holds out his hand. "Cain. Mouse."
I point my wand at the top seam of my pocket and hit it with Diffindo. I reach down until I feel fur and scoop the little animal out.
I walk over and hand him to my father, who carefully wraps his fingers around him.
"What are you going to do with him?" Ron wonders.
"Hide him somewhere safe and secure. What happens to him happens to me."
"Doesn't that make you wonder, though?" Hermione says thoughtfully, "I mean, Genesis resurrected you the way you are now, so why would your past-self getting hurt hurt you? And will his death really kill you if you're supposed to die anyway?"
Dad frowns and shakes his head, frustrated and flummoxed. "I don't know. But you saw what happened to my past-self and I in Hogwarts — I'm not taking any chances."
"Fair enough." Harry says.
"Wow," a small smile blossoms onto Hermione's face, "Just thinking about the future…it sounds so fascinating. Gods, ambrosia, super-powered wizards…so different from what we're used to."
"No kidding." I say, reluctant to step away from Dad.
As optimistic as I want to be, and as much faith as I have in my father and my own abilities, I know, deep down, realistically, this could be the last time either of us sees the other.
My heart sinks. The bittersweet sorrow I experienced parting with my grandfather returns with a force I can barely stand.
I choke it back.
Don't let them see.
But inside I'm sick with worry. Tainted by fear.
Dad gives me a shallow, strained smile. "Take care Son. Remember what I taught you." He pauses a moment, as though to say more.
I want to tell him to stay safe, to be careful, but anything along those lines will only sound like sentimental weakness to him, and he wouldn't like that.
Instead "Give them hell." reaches my lips.
Dad hardens. "Oh believe me," he growls in a dangerously low voice, backing up a few paces so as not to singe me with his heat waves, "I will."
Then he disappears in a blaze of hot green flames, leaving me alone with three people he'd always encouraged me to hate.