Severus Snape, Potions Master, world class ballerina and world famous child entertainer examined himself in the mirror and nodded in satisfaction. Today's gig was a special one, a command performance for the new king of Slobnovia, King Draco the flatulent, and it included his favorite things, potions, dancing and balloon animals.
"What the hell is this?" screeched Bob, staring over Alyx's shoulder at her screen.
Alyx looked up at him and gave him an innocent look. "If I have to write the disclaimers, I thought, what a neat way to combine disclaimers and a poignant love story about Snape and Draco falling in love, and then Draco loses his who who during a duel with the dastardly evil Harry Potter. And the rest of the story will be about the search for a replacement who who, until they discover Alyx's exclusive line of steam powered replacement parts for human organs."
Bob glanced at the audience, he grinned when he spotted Harry cheering about the part involving Draco and his wait a second. He spun around, because unlike the English, he didn't span anything, and he glared at Alyx. "Who who? Are we too afraid to say penis these days?"
Alyx cringed and glared at him. "Quiet!" she demanded imperiously, "if you're not careful you will invoke the wrath of the penis envy police on us. And while I'm safe from their scissors, you are not."
Bob looked around nervously. "I can't say penis?" he asked.
Alyx shuddered. "You are looking for trouble," she hissed.
"Why can't you just tell the people we don't own Harry Potter? Why go through all this effort, although the idea of a Draco without his penis is amusing, but Snape without a penis would be even funnier," Bob asked.
"Open up! This is the Penis Police!" shouted a voice.
Alyx turned and looked at Bob smugly. "I did warn you," she said. Bob blanched and ran off the stage.
Alyx turned to the audience. "Enjoy the first chapter of our new tale folks. With a little luck Bob will be back in time for our next disclaimer and his who who will be intact."
She turned back to her tale. "Severus smiled and adjusted his tutu to make sure his who who wasn't showing. It rarely showed anymore," she typed happily.
I don't believe there are aliens. I believe there are really different people.
- Orson Scott Card
Campbeltown Weyr, July 1st...
Harry stepped from the administration building and looked around at the riders assembled before him. Each of them looked eager and excited to begin. Nearby, Dobby stood with the Weyr's elves. They wore backpacks containing the tents and food they would all be using for the next month. The elves knew the order Harry intended to follow and would be setting up the tents and taking care of the rider's meals.
The riders were each working on a personal book of the Weyrs. Each book which would contain the rider's own photos and any other information they thought necessary.
The plan was a simple one. They would visit every Weyr, spending the night there and using the time to look around and explore the Weyr proper and get to know the dragons a little. For Harry, it was a little more personal, as he hoped to thank the senior dragon of every Weyr for their help in fighting the dementors. He also wanted to insure that each Weyr could ultimately sustain a group of human riders. He had already realized that not every Weyr could.
While they were visiting the three Weyrs in the United States, they would examine each Weyr and determine which Weyr to bring riders to. If none were suitable, that fact would be conveyed to the American government.
Their trip would end with a week long stay at Maziang.
He turned to Sirius. "Norendrath can reach us at any time," he said.
"I know, Harry. Besides, the Grangers are going along with you, and I'm sure Katherine and I will drop in occasionally. Remus too," Sirius said with a grin. "Go enjoy yourselves. You guys deserve it."
Each of the riders had a backpack with their clothing and personal items. The backpacks and digital cameras were purchased by the Weyr and distributed to each rider. The riders hadn't had the packs an hour before they went in search of a wizard to charm them to be featherlight and space enlarged on the inside.
Despite the mood that this was more of an adventure than a working trip, Harry had insisted all the riders bring their bows and full ammunition kits. The riders would never be without their signature crossbows from now on.
Harry was actually glad to be getting away from the craziness.
The injured dragons were finally well enough to be taken to the Weyr. The British government had organized a special convoy using some old mobile homes that had been hollowed out. Four mobile homes left Balmoral castle and after a nine hour drive they pulled through the gates of Campbeltown to the trumpeting happiness of the Weyr.
Hagrid and May helped supervise the unloading with magical help from the wizards and vocal encouragement of the dragons. The dragons looked on those wounded with a great deal of respect and pride. To the dragons, they were heroes and Harry didn't disagree with them. Human or dragon, standing up to dementors was an incredibly brave thing to do.
Hagrid now tended the injured dragons in Hangar Seven, freeing up May to come along on their trip.
On the political scene, the word that best described the condition of the British Wizarding World was chaotic at best. The Prime Minister had opted to assign a muggle named William O'Hearny to assume the role of Deputy Minister of Magic. It was now the highest rank in the ministry and the Deputy Minister reported directly to the Prime Minister's office. Alejandro Croaker and Albus Dumbledore had been tasked to work as senior undersecretaries under the Deputy Minister. Their job, along with O'Hearny, would be to attempt to rebuild the Ministry of Magic into something resembling a normal ministry department within the government.
Croaker had brought back with him thirty of the aurors that had quit, but they were immediately partnered with a muggle born wizard who had some law enforcement experience.
Only one prominent Wizengamot family actually tried to protest the assumption of power by the muggles and they were quickly silenced when the British military showed them, and the British Wizards, exactly what a precision guided air attack was like. No one was killed in the attack, but the bomb landed inside their war wards and close enough to cause extensive damage to a small house on the property. It had been announced beforehand which house would be targeted and the wizards were warned to vacate it.
The point of the demonstration attack was immediately understood. Wards and shields were designed to stop magical attacks. They had little effect on muggle munitions launched from an aircraft that was seven miles away and traveling twice the speed of sound.
In short, it was a mess, but it wasn't the responsibility of the Weyr unless they were asked to help. And Harry had sent a message to the Prime Minister via Lord Mills that they were available if needed.
Harry nodded to the elves and Dobby grinned in reply, then they snapped their fingers and vanished from sight.
Harry turned and gripped Sirius' shoulder, grinning at him. "See you in August, then," he said.
Sirius nodded and pulled Harry into a rough hug, then pushed him gently. "Go away now. Katherine and I want some time alone without you and your dragons peeping in."
"Does that mean me too?" asked Norendrath.
Sirius winced. The riders were going on this trip. All of the non-bonded dragons were staying behind, except for the two who were to carry the adult Grangers.
Harry grinned and then climbed up into this position on Chekiath. He glanced around and noted all of the dragons and their riders were looking at him and grinning widely. They were eagerly looking forward to this.
Harry pumped his fist twice and the dragons leapt into the air.
The assembled adults stood for a moment looking at the empty sky where thirty five dragons had once been, then they turned to go about their own tasks.
"Remus!" called Mildred O'Connor. Both O'Connor and Doctor Standish had arranged with their government to extend their stay and were slowly becoming an integral part of the science staff attached to the Weyr.
Remus paused, his hand still on the doorknob and he turned. He smiled at Mildred as she came up to him.
"Doctor Shepard would like to see you right away."
Remus nodded. "Well, I was only going to start a new fight with that demon machine, so why not?"
Mildred laughed. About once a week Remus tried very hard to make sense of the computer they had given him and he had made a little headway, but every so often he wanted to do something new and the machine whipped him into submission. So far, to everyone's amusement, it was Remus 2, Computer 200.
In fact, most of what he had learned had come from Mildred, who had sat him down and very patiently walked him through the basics of using it like a typewriter, with the ability to save and retrieve his files. Remus claimed the machine was haunted by a poltergeist that was afraid to show its head when Mildred was nearby.
Mildred held out her hand and without thinking about it, he took it in his as they walked to the Weyr hospital. Calling it a hospital was being polite, but since they already had an infirmary for dragons, they didn't want to cause any confusion. Doctor Shepard had managed to turn the eight bed aid station into a decent enough clinic with enough emergency supplies on hand to stabilize a wide variety of trauma before sending the person off to a real hospital.
He stepped into the building after holding the door open for Mildred and was thankful for air conditioning. Summer was just starting but it was already becoming uncomfortable. Their proximity to the coast made the air especially muggy, it was a condition that irritated the werewolf in him.
Mildred led him into Doctor Shepard's office. Issac Shepard looked up from the heavy book he was looking at and smiled.
"Remus, I know I didn't have much to offer you last time we spoke, but Mildred pulled some strings among her people and we learned a couple of interesting things."
"What did you learn?" asked Remus.
"The Yanks have an organization like ours called the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC for short. And like our Health Protection Agency, they are pretty much the only people studying the really dangerous diseases these days. It turns out that our cousins across the pond also have another agency. This one is attached to their military and they study diseases that they fear can be used as weapons. The United States Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases or USAMRIID has a magical unit which has made some considerable strides on the strain of virus which causes Lycanthropy in wizards."
Remus' head popped up and stared at the man for a moment.
Issac held up a hand in warning. "Remus, I want to caution you, they do not have a cure. What they do have is a potion which suppresses the transformation. It's been very successful in limited testing, but like I said, it's not a cure. They were about to embark on a study that combines magical and mundane methods. The idea is actually rather simple.
"Rabies is invariably fatal in humans unless it's caught early enough. As a general rule of thumb if someone is bit by an animal and we can't test that animal for rabies, we give the patient a series of injections which keeps any rabies from presenting in the patient as a precaution.
"However, once the symptoms present themselves, nothing helps the patient," Issac said softly.
"Then how can you help?"
"Remus, you present the symptoms once a month. The rest of the time there's no visible sign of the disease. USAMRIID was planning on attempting to suppress the disease using both their potion and the vaccine. They were hoping that they could kill it off by combining the two methods and repeating the course of treatment for six months.
"They are willing to expand their test to our side of the ocean if I can get a few more candidates and if I'm willing to follow their procedures."
"So you're saying that they have a cure?" asked an incredulous Remus.
Mildred placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. She was having difficulty believing Issac also.
"No!" Issac said sharply. "They have a potion which prevents the transformation. And they have a theory which looks good on paper. Is it a cure? Right now it's not even a treatment. Even if it helps you and you never turn into a werewolf again, it may never be a real cure. We just don't know until we try it. The question I have for you is a simple one. Do you want to participate in this experiment and can you find four or five others like yourself who might be willing?"
Remus nodded slowly, clearly shaken by what he had heard. It never occurred to him that by combining muggle and magical healing, they could have a possible cure.
"Issac, with very few exceptions, nearly every werewolf in Britain would volunteer for this. I am the lucky one. I have good friends and a job. Most werewolves don't have anyone."
Issac leaned forward in his chair. "So you're willing to try this?"
Remus nodded fervently.
"Oh, Remus," Mildred whispered.
He looked up at her and was surprised by the tears streaking her cheeks. He decided that tomorrow he'd approach some of the other werewolves he knew. Today, he needed to talk to her.
"Right, then. Find me at least five people, Remus. I'll contact USAMRIID and let them know we'll participate," Issac said. "Look at it this way. Even if this doesn't work, I'm going to try to insure all of the participants get access to the suppression potion."
Remus turned back to Issac and nodded. "I'll do that in the morning." He then turned to Mildred and offered her his hand. "First thing, I think I need to talk to my American friend," he said softly. He smiled to reassure her and she returned his smile.
Mildred had never really found anyone she could consider as a compatible spirit to her own until she met Remus. He didn't have the math and science background that she did, but he had a level of intelligence that still matched and complimented her own.
She took his hand and Issac watched them walk out of his office. He smiled and shook his head then he glanced down at the documents describing the American test. He hoped for Remus' sake that it would be a success. The theory sounded promising.
Ministry of Magic, July 1st...
Albus entered the office building and took the lift to the basement. This was the old entrance that the Ministry forced its squib employees to use and for now, it was the only working entrance into the subsurface building.
The street entrance had been hurriedly repaired and new wards had been put in place, blocking any possible apparation into the building. It was currently closed until they could rework it or find another entrance to use.
Albus opened the dingy steel door that looked like it was an entrance to a utility closest and he stepped into a brightly lit room. A wizard and a royal marine stood in front of another, ornate wooden door that looked out of place in this cold concrete room. Right next to the door was a small mechanical looking panel mounted on the wall.
"Good morning, gentlemen. All is well, I trust?" he said congenially.
"Good morning, sir," replied the wizard. The marine had never spoken as far as Albus knew. He was starting to wonder if he could talk.
The sound of machinery in the room was unmistakable. Someone was running heavy equipment nearby and the sound was coming from beyond the ornate wooden door.
Albus reached into his pocket and pulled out a small photo ID that he had been given. He knew these men recognized him, but he had been warned that they would not allow him access without seeing that ID card.
The wizard examined the ID for a moment, then he handed it back to Albus. "Please place your hand palm down on the glass, sir."
Albus watched in amusement as the machine hummed and chugged for a moment before lighting a green panel. The box had been installed only two days ago and he still marveled at the ingenuity of it. The ornate wooden door buzzed slightly and he knew he had only a moment, so he pushed it open and waved a jolly farewell to the two security officers.
Stepping into the main atrium, he ignored the dozens of workmen who were busy working on wiring the floor for power. The sound of drills and power saws filled the atrium. This would be a new ministry and it would run on the same machines as the rest of the government. Where that wasn't possible, they would work up some compromises.
Most of the offices were still shut down with former ministry employees attending a set of classes. Some department heads and their employees had been retained, but every department head now had either a muggle or a muggle born wizard as a partner to make sure the department functioned properly. And everyone of the original employees were going to be tested for their ability to perform. The new ministry would not allow any dead weight just because they were pure bloods.
Albus stepped around the crew who were busy scrubbing the walls. Under proper electric lighting it became apparent that the walls of the building hadn't been cleaned in nearly one hundred and fifty years. It was estimated that it would take weeks to clean the walls and the cleaning crews were using magic and some of the strongest cleaning chemicals known.
He walked over to the bank of lifts and took a lift down one floor. He exited and quickly made his way to what had once been the office of the Minister for Magic. Albus stepped into the large office with three desks. "Good morning, William, Alejandro," he said jovially.
Alejandro looked up and frowned, while William O'Hearny returned his greeting. O'Hearny was squib who was distantly related to the royal family. He also had more than thirty years of experience, first in the Royal Navy, then in the Foreign Office. He was a consummate diplomat and a self confessed expert in the history of the British colonial system and it's administration. His hobby made him uniquely suited for running the Ministry, which was for all intents and purposes, a Ministry governing a conquered people.
"Potter and his people have left, then?" asked Alejandro. He found himself both respecting and disliking Potter. The boy was a wizard who cared little about wizarding tradition and values. That the boy was the strongest wizard of the current generation only irked him more.
"Yes, they made off early this morning and shouldn't be back until sometime in August," Albus replied. "They will be visiting every Weyr before stopping at Maziang to see how they are making out."
O'Hearny frowned slightly, "Albus, you know the PM isn't too happy with that particular location. Tibet is still under the control of China."
"Yes, yes, but as Harry pointed out, the dragons in that Weyr could flee in a matter of seconds, should they be discovered. And as you know, the Weyr itself is hidden from the muggles. The Weyrleader intends to raise this very topic with the people at Maziang. He's just as concerned as the PM."
O'Hearny nodded thoughtfully. "So, how are your plans going?"
Albus looked down at his desk and sighed. "Well enough, I suppose. I have two plans, actually, and I'm not sure which is best. First, I have talked with several people from the office of the Secretary of State for Education. All Hogwarts students will undergo a series of tests to help determine their standings. The September through December term will proceed as normal, except for those tests which will be held in December."
He paused and shuffled some papers on his desk. "This is where the plan diverges. We can construct a building in Hogsmeade that we can use for teaching the students, but there's no electricity in Hogsmeade and probably won't be anytime soon. The second option is to portkey the students to a regular school, which creates security issues that I don't think we're willing to deal with yet. We already have plans in place to bus the younger children to ten regular schools so they can begin their muggle education with a little magical history thrown in."
O'Hearny leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands together. "I see," he said softly. "And your recommendation?"
"Build the school in Hogsmeade, but make it large enough to take in students from age six. Let the younger years cover the standard subjects that all students have. Use magical means for lighting and heating until power becomes available. If we started construction in a couple weeks, it would be ready in about a month, just in time for the school year and certainly be ready for the Hogwarts students after their tests," Albus said a bit hesitantly. He had noted that O'Hearny and the other muggle born were pushing hard for muggle solutions wherever possible.
"Makes sense," O'Hearny said after a moments reflection. He smiled at the surprised expressions on their faces. "Gentlemen, we seem to have gotten off to a wrong impression. Her Majesty's government isn't opposed to the use of magic. I fully understand that a young wizard needs to be taught to control their magic, otherwise they pose a danger to themselves and to others. The purpose of using muggle solutions is because we need to try to work with other departments within the government. The use of magic will be dealt with on a case by case basis.
"As for the children, the Queen would like it if her magical subjects were capable of living in the muggle world without killing themselves. She isn't going to insist that they do, but she wants the children to learn to enjoy the benefits both worlds offer.
"On this issue, we could build a school and have it ready in a couple years if we use purely muggle methods. Albus says it would be ready by September, if we use magic in the building process. The lack of power does pose a problem, but we can overcome some of those easily enough. As long as the building is lit and heated, a teacher can instruct his or her class using the old fashioned chalk boards and pen and paper. A generator could be used to provide power for office computers and other essential machines."
The two wizards exchanged a relieved look, then turned back to O'Hearny.
"And you, Alejandro? How goes the rebuilding of our police force?" asked O'Hearny.
Alejandro looked unhappy. "Slowly, William. All of the old laws have been struck down. Right now, we're sending Aurors out with people who have law enforcement experience in the muggle world. Frankly, it's poor fit. The muggle born wizards who were policemen need to learn to ignore muggle crimes committed by muggles, while our Aurors need to learn what laws they need to enforce.
"It's working for now, but I expect at some point it's going to fall apart if something isn't done."
O'Hearny frowned. "Yes, that is a problem. How about if we run people through some training. Both groups, old aurors and muggle born could receive the instruction they need."
Croaker nodded. "That would help, but without a Wizengamot, how will we create new laws?"
O'Hearny smiled. "Her Majesty asked me that same question and I'll give you the same answer I gave her. Until we are fully integrated into the Home Office publicly, there is only one source of laws for us to follow. Her Majesty the Queen. I suggested we put a working legal group consisting of muggle legal experts and wizards with the intent of culling through the old laws. Some would be approved to be sent to her Majesty and if she approved they would be made official laws. I instructed Arthur Weasley to form a new department which will oversee the effort and also deal with all of the old ministry rules and directives. His Department of Revision should be up and running in a few days. He'll also personally oversee any recommendations made to the Queen, adding additional detail if need be."
O'Hearny held out a hand and shrugged. "It won't be easy, it won't be fast, but it's really our only option. At some point, the working group would start suggesting new laws or borrowing others from the standard muggle laws."
Both wizards grimaced. The ministry had a long way to go before it was fully functional. Now Albus knew how Harry felt. Cross one item from the 'to-do' list, add three more. He sighed and conjured a book that looked exactly like Harry's and he started his own list.
Mousa Island, just off Shetland Island, Weyr #2 in the Book Of Weyrs, July 1st...
Harry and the wings popped out of Between to the sound of an entire Weyr trumpeting in welcome. Harry grinned and a number of the riders waved to the dragons as they spiraled in for a landing. Harry recalled the facts about the Weyr from their book. This used to be the primary reserve for the United Kingdom after the goblin herd of dragons. It was a slightly above average sized Weyr of two hundred and sixty dragons that fed themselves by hunting large marine mammals and pilfering from some of the wizard owned herds both on Shetland Island proper and on the mainland.
"Hermione says this island is famous for neolithic structures. It's a historically important location to the government and gives us clues about life in early Briton," Comaloth announced importantly. The dragon made that announcement to all of the assembled riders and their dragons.
"She also says it is considered a crime to disturb any of the ruins or taking any artifacts you might find."
Harry shook his head. "Leave it to Hermione," he muttered with a chuckle.
Chekiath rumbled in laughter and then he landed lightly in front of a large Horntail. The large dragon looked at Chekiath and actually took a step backwards in shock. Chekiath was at least twenty feet longer than this dragon.
Harry lightly jumped down and turned to face the dragon after thumping Chekiath's flank affectionately. "Are you the senior dragon here?" he asked.
"Welcome, Weyrleader. I am Milzoth, senior dragon for this clan," replied the dragon.
Harry sketched a small bow. "My riders and I wish to familiarize ourselves with your Weyr and see if there are needs here that should to be addressed. Regrettably, we can only spend today and part of tomorrow here, and then we must move on to the next Weyr."
Harry paused and gestured to the riders who were all down on the ground and looking around with interest. "Starting with the next batch of new Riders, we shall have them visit every Weyr so that they may know the Weyr and you. It is even possible that someday some of those riders may decided to stay and help you bring riders of your own to this Weyr."
Harry's dragons thrummed in approval and the Weyr dragons trumpeted happily. They were excited by the possibility of turning their Weyr into a place for riders, but they also knew that it could take years to make that happen. That didn't bother them, as they were patient. After all, just a year ago the idea would have been unthinkable. But today, the Weyrleader of Earth stood in their Weyr asking about their problems and their needs.
Milzoth bowed his head low. "You honor us, Weyrleader. If we can do anything to make your stay more special, just ask."
Milzoth stopped when Harry chuckled and shook his head. "We have brought accommodations for our riders and our dragons ate before we left home. Our needs are few. Tonight we'll build a big fire and we'll talk about any thing you wish."
Milzoth gazed over Harry's shoulder. He could see some elves erecting tents and another elf that was preparing a large bonfire that they would use tonight.
The riders were walking around, taking photos with their digital cameras for their own Weyr books. It had been decided that Remus would help maintain the primary Book of the Weyrs, but each rider would compile their own using the master book and the information they learned from their graduation trip.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, July 1st...
Momnarth met with Minerva just in front of the entrance hall. Minerva had apparated to the school and was shocked to see the large dragon waiting for her.
"Momnarth? Is there a problem?"
"No, Harper. The Weyrleader considers you to be very special, almost a part of his family. We thought it best to make sure you arrived safely," replied the large Horntail.
Minerva blinked and was about to reply when a squeaky voice interrupted her. "Minerva? Good gracious! Are you all right?"
Minerva turned and smiled. Filius Flitwick stood in the doorway with his wand trained on the large dragon.
"I'm fine, Filius. Put your wand away. Momnarth and I are good friends," replied Minerva with a slight smile.
Filius stepped out of the castle and onto the top step. He looked warily at the large dragon.
Minerva laid a hand on his shoulder. "Filius, I would like to introduce you to Momnarth. She is the dragon that Harry Potter encountered in the tournament."
Minerva looked up at Momnarth. "Momnarth, this is Professor Filius Flitwick, one of our best professors at the school."
"I am pleased to meet you, Little Harper. Luna has spoken highly of you. But from her description you were much taller," Momnarth said, then she bobbed her head and moved a little closer to Filius.
Flitwick's legs gave way and he sat heavily on the stone. "My word!" he exclaimed. "Albus was right!"
He peered up at the large dragon. "Is Luna well? She was such a dear child. I was appalled to discover that some of my house were picking on her. She's with Harry, then? And the others. Are they with Harry, as well?"
"She is Trandieth's rider and a good friend of the Weyrleader," Momnarth pronounced. "She is very important to the Weyr and will lead us to discover more riders and Snorkacks."
The little professor chuckled and shook his head. He was unaware that the Weyr would look for Luna's Snorkacks. Trandieth had very seriously informed the Weyrleader that she would have known if her rider was lying and she wasn't. She had admitted that Luna often used made up animals to see what kind of reaction she could get from people, but Snorkacks were very real.
"Filius, if you would prefer, you could stay here and talk with Momnarth. But I must speak," she stopped talking and jumped in fright as her hat was rudely pushed from her head and Clarence took up the spot.
"I'm here now, Headmistress," the hat announced, then it turned towards Momnarth. "Hogwarts welcomes you, dragon."
Momnarth looked at the hat for a moment, tilting her head from side to side in a manner much like a puppy. Her eyes slowly twirled with streaks of green. "I have never spoken to a hat before. Hello, Hat."
"The hat is an extension of the castle, Momnarth. The castle is alive in a way and it knows about itself," Minerva said. "The hat speaks for the school and she protects us and her children. Clarence, this is Momnarth."
The hat dipped its tip again towards the dragon. "Hogwarts wants to thank you, Momnarth. She is very fond of Harry Potter and tried as much as she could to protect him."
"Then you have our thanks, Hogwarts. You protected our Weyrleader and now he protects us all."
The hat dipped again, then it turned it's attention to Minerva. "Headmistress, there is much to discuss and much still to accomplish. We must turn the wards over to you before the day ends."
Minerva sighed and nodded in agreement. "Momnarth, thank you for seeing me home."
"It was my honor, Harper. I will return to the Weyr, but I am sure we will see each other again," Momnarth said, then she turned to Filius, who couldn't tear his eyes off of the dragon. "It was an honor to meet you as well, Little Harper. I will tell Luna that she has misjudged your height."
Momnarth turned away and took a few steps before she coiled her body and sprang aloft. Filius gasped again when the dragon went Between.
Finally, he shook from his shock and turned to Minerva. "Little Harper?"
Minerva laughed. "Come, Filius. I have a wonderful tale that you'll enjoy and I think even Hogwarts will like to hear it."
The pair entered the castle and the doors closed behind them.
Hogwarts hummed happily to herself. Her Headmistress was finally here, ready to take control, and one of her favorite pupils was safe. It saddened her that he wasn't here, but she was certain she would meet up with him again.
Kitchen Hall, Campbeltown Weyr, July 2nd...
Sirius sat down at the empty table and started to wolf down his meal. Katherine had been working late every night this week and after her shift she had been coming to his quarters for some late night entertainment. He looked at the larger than normal meal for himself and grinned. Katherine's late night visits had resulted in an increasing appetite.
"May we join you?"
He looked up in surprise and smiled when he saw Sir Robert and Narcissa standing nearby with their trays in their hands. He quickly motioned towards the empty seats. "Please do."
"I know we haven't spoken much with all the upheaval happening lately, Sir Robert, but how are things at your end of the Weyr?" Sirius asked.
Sir Robert beamed a wide smile. "The work on the fence is proceeding and in a week they will break ground for the power station. It's going to sit on the land the government bought up. Meanwhile, we've been swamped with some fascinating data. I've been running a project to determine exactly what the best materials are for our dragon friends to heat up. Common stones like granite and skarn seem to be our best candidates, but we're still trying out samples. Once we've worked through the natural stones, we'll try heating some carbon composites, which we think might be suitable."
Sirius looked at the man for a moment, then shrugged. "I'll have to take your word for it," he murmured with a grin.
"Siri," Narcissa said softly, "you aren't nearly as dense as you make yourself appear to be."
Sirius glanced over to Narcissa, who he still didn't know how to treat. Finally, he nodded. "Call it a defense mechanism, Cissi. According to Katherine, I have a number of them, including a tendency to hide my true feelings behind inane pranks."
"I'm sure she's been enjoying her exploration of your mechanisms," Narcissa said without any rancor. "She seems quite happy these days."
Sirius blushed and Narcissa smiled. She knew she had hit the target with her comment. And she knew Sirius would see it for what it was, an offer of peace between the two of them.
Sirius looked at her speculatively. Harry had been the first one to change his mind about her, thanks mostly to her willingness to protect Sir Robert. Everyone realized that Harry had a hard time with the concept of 'Mother' as opposed to 'Mum', especially when Emma Granger was the stand in 'Mum' for quite a few of the riders.
Harry has a reason to hate her more than anyone else, Sirius mused. She was, no, is, a marked Death Eater who avoided going to prison with her husband and he is still willing to give her a chance. What does he see that I'm missing?
Throwing caution to the wind he leaned a little closer. "So, how are you and Draco doing?"
Narcissa smiled weakly. "Better, I think. As bad a role model as Lucius and I presented, somewhere, somehow, he was taught to think for himself. He's growing up very strong. I haven't had many conversations with him, but I think we're making some progress."
She thought back to just a day ago when she stopped Draco before he climbed onto his dragon.
"Draco," she called.
He paused and turned away from his dragon. "Yes, Mother?"
"I know it doesn't mean much, but thank you for coming for me at the manor," she said. "And I think your Michelle is a beautiful girl."
Draco blinked in surprise and a small smile formed. "Thank you," he said softly. "I'll tell her you said that."
She nodded. "Stay safe, my son," she replied, then she turned and hurried away, not wanting him to witness her tears. Crying was unbecoming for a Slytherin.
Her smile broadened a little. "I think that someday he might even like me." It surprised her that Draco's approval actually mattered to her.
Sirius nodded. Since her arrival, the only thing he had seen of the old Narcissa was how she had worked hard to become the personal assistant to Sir Robert when he was at the Weyr. She still hoped that some of the power that the Weyr would accrue might come her way and Harry personally felt that if she continued the way she was going, she would have earned it.
"Cissi, I expect to be in the office that Remus and I share around five pm. Come see me and I'll give you back your wand."
She stared at him in shock. She had been without her wand for so long now that she found herself doing things muggle style without thinking about it. Her first action in walking into a room was to reach for a light switch.
She choked up and nodded. "Thank you," she whispered.
Sirius stood. "Harry wanted you to have it earlier, but I talked him out of it. I think, however, that we're past the point where you're about to run around torturing muggles."
When she shook her head at him, he grinned. "One word of advice, Cissi. You may have lost a chance to be Draco's mum, but someday you'll have a new chance with grandchildren. Watch Emma and how she deals not only with Hermione, but the other riders. She's loved and respected by everyone."
With that he stood up, nodded to them both, then turned and walked away.
Sir Robert beamed and reached over to grip her arm. "What did I tell you? You just had to show them that you're willing to change. You've been doing wonderfully."
She nodded, then she stood. "I'll get us some tea, then you can outline what you need next week. This way I'll have your schedule all set up."
Sir Robert smiled. "Very well, my dear."
#4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging Surrey, July 15th...
Vernon scowled when the doorbell rang. It wasn't even eight in the morning and someone was at the door!
"Get the door, Dudley," he snapped.
Dudley frowned. The freak hadn't returned from his school this summer and they hadn't heard from him so his father was making him do more around the house.
"But," he protested.
"I'll get it," Petunia said placatingly. Since the start of the summer, the tension in the house had been sky high and she still hadn't realized that without Harry there, Vernon was using them to vent his anger on.
She quickly stood and walked out of the dinning room. She opened the front door, happy to escape the tense scene starting in the dinning room. She was surprised to see several police officers and three men in suits.
"Mrs. Vernon Dursley?"
"Excellent, this is the right place," said a police officer. He reached into a file and pulled out a thick sheet of papers and he handed it to Petunia. "This is a warrant for us to search this house. I also have warrants for yourself and your husband on the charges of child abuse. Mr. Furgison here also has business with your husband. He represents Inland Revenue. Constable Hayden will take your son into temporary custody until we clear up the charges of vandalism and theft he has against him."
Petunia turned white as a sheet and dropped to the floor in a dead faint. She never noticed the additional police support showing up, nor the prisoner transport van, but her neighbors did.
The men stepped over Petunia and into the house itself, while one policewoman knelt to place handcuffs on Petunia.
From inside number four, shouts and screams broke out while outside, the neighbors of Privet drive gathered to watch and wonder about the Dursleys. Many of them had realized that something was wrong when government investigators had come around asking about Harry Potter months earlier. A small few of those neighbors realized now that they hadn't seen the boy at all this summer and they hoped he was alright.
Lac Logipi Weyr, Weyr #17 in the Book Of Weyrs, July 16th...
The wings came out of Between to a surprising sight. All of the dragons of the Weyr below lined the rim and bellowed in welcome. Harry directed the wings to an easy landing in the center of the old volcanic bowl where Sorth, the senior dragon waited for him.
They were used to the Weyr greeting their arrival, but never before had a Weyr been out in formation as if waiting for them.
As the wings came in to land, the dragons lining the rim bowed their heads. Each of these dragons vividly remembered the day they were attacked by wizards using muggle military tanks and each of them remembered the Weyrleader who had wept for dragons he didn't even know.
The riders had been too new and their dragons too young to help when Harry led the rest of the Weyr in the attack against the wizards and for many this was the first time they had visited a Weyr that had such a profound impact on them. Up until that point, they'd had no idea just how much the death of a dragon would affect them.
Off to one side, near the top of the rim, lay the three burned out and partially melted hulks that had once been premiere weapons of war.
Harry easily dismounted and walked over to greet the senior dragon. "Sorth, you are looking well."
"Thank you, Weyrleader. Thanks to you, we are safe here," Sorth replied.
Harry glanced around and noted that all but four of the Weyr's dragons had come down from the rim to join the wings. The remaining four had gone airborne, providing a constant air patrol.
Harry dug into his bottomless bag on his belt and pulled out six metal disks the diameter of a soda can. "The Weyr will be even safer once we get these installed."
Sorth moved a little closer and eyed the small objects, his eyes twirling slowly. "What are they?"
"These are rune based ward stones. We've been installing them in every Weyr so far. They prevent any wizard from suddenly appearing in your Weyr," Harry replied.
"They don't look like much," Sorth said doubtfully.
Harry chuckled. He'd had this conversation at every Weyr they had visited thus far. "I know, my friend, but trust me, these will stop a wizard from apparating into the bowl or using a portkey."
Sorth's eyes whirled. "Wizards have a way of going Between?"
Harry nodded. "Not quite, but the idea is the same. The Wizards have a Between of their own and with these they won't be able to use their Between to come here. They will have to arrive nearby and walk to the Weyr, hopefully giving you enough time to spot them."
Ronan trotted up to them. "Harry, the elves have the tents up and Hermione has pulled the map for the Weyr."
Harry nodded and turned back to the dragon. "Sorth, this is Ronan Clark, Garanoth's rider and my Wing Second."
"I welcome you to our Weyr, Wing Second Ronan," Sorth stated formally.
Ronan bowed slightly to the Swedish Short Snout. "Thank you Sorth. I am glad to finally make it. We have heard so much about your Weyr."
"Sorth, Ronan will be looking around, trying to determine if there are any problems that we can take care of for you. I will be supervising the placement of the wards. Later tonight, after our meal, we'll gather around a large fire in the bowl and talk about what we can do to make things easier for you."
Sorth's eyes twirled rapidly, flashing blue. "We are grateful for your help, Weyrleader."
Harry nodded, then he turned to his wing second.
Ronan grinned at him. "I'll take it from here. I know you want to get those wards in place."
Harry nodded, and glanced up at the sun blazing down on them. "Make sure everyone has enough water, Ronan. This sun is going to be brutal. There's a lake nearby, but no one is to drink that water until someone can cast a purifying spell on it. Also, remind everyone to use their insect repellant."
Before they'd left, everyone had received a series of immunizations and a very stern lecture from Doctor Sheppard about tropical diseases and how they could be avoided. Generally it boiled down to using insect repellant and making sure their food and water were clean.
"I'll speak with the elves and make sure everyone has a water bottle."
"Thanks, mate," Harry said, then he turned and started to walk up the slope of the bowl towards the three tanks that were still there. Chekiath followed him closely. He had known that in some way Harry had been troubled by coming to this Weyr again.
After a five minute climb, he sat down on a rock not twenty feet from the burned out tanks. "You know, the muggles were probably innocent victims of the wizards, Cheki. They were probably being controlled. I didn't think of it at the time, I just ordered the Weyr to attack. And now I regret having to kill them, but I know I'd do it again if I had to. What does that say about me?"
"It says you'll protect us," Chekiath replied.
"It says that you're human, Harry," said a voice.
Harry turned to see Dan Granger standing nearby. He held two bottles of water in his hands. "It says that you'll do what you have to, to protect the lives of your family. No one can do any less."
Dan gestured to a nearby rock and Harry nodded. Dan tossed him a bottle of water, then he sat and looked around for a moment. "I have never seen a tank up close, let alone one that's been melted before.
"It's hard for me to look at this stuff and not feel a shiver of fear. I am a product of a time when there was a distinct possibility that these machines would be used against us. To see them like this speaks of a terrible power. Then I look at you. Not even sixteen and you hold a power over the world that could topple civilization and I believe for a fact that you'd rather die that exercise that power.
"It would be so easy to jump back in time and prevent your parents from being killed, or prevent a war or any number of terrible things that have happened, but you don't."
Dan motioned to the tanks. "People died and you regret having to do that. No matter what doubts you might have, Harry, as long as you continue to have those doubts and regrets, your humanity remains intact."
"Don't be fooled, Mr. Granger. I thought about jumping back in time, but there's so much that could be screwed up. I never knew my parents. I wish I could say my relatives were nice people but they weren't. Jumping back in time to save them might also end up ruining everything I know. It's not something I'm willing to risk. So instead I make do."
Dan chuckled. "That's all we can do. Every one of us has regrets and things we wish we could change in our lives. Instead, we make do. It's not like there's a book that tells you what to do. I fought with my father and by the time I grew up to have a family of my own, he had died and I never got the chance to tell him I was sorry. We have regrets and all we can do is try to make sure we don't regret too much of our lives."
Dan looked up and smiled seeing Hermione standing nearby.
"I'm sorry, Dad, but I need to get the ward stones from Harry."
Harry looked up and then grinned. Hermione held the topographical map that Sir Robert had gotten for each Weyr. It had been pre-marked by Harry with the locations where the runes were to be placed. "I'll charge the anchor stone when you have it in place," Harry said, handing the six disks over to Hermione.
Hermione shook her head. "No, you won't. You've charged the last five anchors and you need a break. We all took the class that Professor Dumbledore gave on charging those stones, so there's no reason for you to exhaust yourself every day. Luna said she'll take the anchor today. I'll do tomorrow's stone."
"But," he protested.
"Harry," she interrupted, "in the last five days you've crawled into bed earlier and earlier because you're not giving yourself a chance to recover from each charging. We have the stones that Professor Dumbledore created and the maps that you marked up. Let us spread the work around."
"Please don't fight her over this, Harry. I know how tired you've been. If I have to, I'll ask May to step in. You know that when it comes to health, she can outrank you," Chekiath added.
While May wasn't a human healer, anything that affected a dragon gave her an overriding authority that the dragons recognized. It was an authority that Harry had bestowed on Hagrid and May and he couldn't retract it just because it inconvenienced him.
Harry sighed and shook his head. He could argue with Hermione, but he couldn't argue with Hermione and Chekiath, plus it looked like Dan wanted to add his two cents. "Fine. Let Luna do it then," he said without rancor.
Hermione nodded, a bit surprised he had given in so easily. But then, she didn't know that Chekiath had jumped into the argument. "Thanks, Harry. I'll see you both later." Turning, she walked away, the stones in her hand.
"Harry, did you know that the CEO of most companies have no clue how to make what their company sells?" asked Dan. "If you were to ask the president of Sony to make a Walkman like the one you carry, he probably couldn't do it."
Harry looked at him in surprise.
"It's true," Dan reassured him. "Most of the top bosses in the world don't know much about making cars or airplanes, or televisions. What they do know is how to manage people to get the most amount of work out of them. You did just that when you created the wings and assigned Wing Leaders and Seconds. You rely on them to make sure their wing is ready and able to perform their duties. In return for a little extra privilege, they take care of their dragons and their riders for you so you don't have to worry about them.
"Like many others, I was initially worried that you were working yourself to death. You've improved a lot in that regard, but every so often you fall back into an old habit of trying to do it all by yourself."
"It's a hard habit to break. I am used to having to do everything for myself," Harry admitted ruefully.
Dan smiled. He knew Harry was trying very hard to let others do more. He was about to say something when Dobby appeared holding a large manila envelope and a smaller sheet with Harry's name on it. "Thank you, Dobby," he murmured, then he took the offered envelope. He quickly read the short note and he smiled. "Dobby, could you ask Susan Bones and Emma to join us? Hermione, too, if she's not busy."
Dan looked at him questioningly and Harry chuckled, then he handed over the envelope and the short note. Dan looked down at the note.
Enclosed are the final documents awarding guardianship of Susan Bones to Dan and Emma Granger. Your comment to the Prime Minister apparently resulted in someone lighting a fire under some people. The departments involved were told to process the forms or they'd be reporting to the crown personally about why they were dragging their feet. Please give the papers to Dan and Emma to examine. If everything is all right with them, have Dan and Emma sign them, then send Dobby back with the papers and I'll put them in the vault here at the Weyr to keep them safe.
The Prime Minister's office also included forms in case the Grangers want to move to adopt Susan. I've included the papers in the package. If they are interested, have them sign them and I'll see they are sent back to the PM's office to get the ball rolling.
Give Dan and Emma my best wishes and congratulations.
"Well, I'll be damned," Dan said in surprise, then he carefully opened the envelope and pulled out the thick wad of forms and documents. Harry had hand delivered a request from the PM to be the guardian of Susan Bones and after only a short discussion between Susan, Hermione, Emma and himself, they decided to agree to the request.
Dan looked up to see a perplexed Emma and Susan coming from one direction, and Hermione, slowly puffing her way up to where he sat with Harry. He shook his head at his daughter, who would never be much of an athlete.
Susan and Emma arrived first and Dan wordlessly handed the paperwork to Emma. She glanced down and looked up at Dan, startled by what she held in her hands. "Wait for Hermione to arrive," Dan said softly.
Hermione arrived a moment later. "Harry, if this is about the wards," she started.
Harry chuckled and shook his head. "No, but your dad has something he wants to tell you."
Hermione turned to her father, who grinned up at her from his spot on the rock.
"You know I always thought life would have been a bit easier for you pumpkin if we could have had more children. As it stands, we were lucky to have you. Thanks to a childhood illness that was poorly timed, my ability to father children was greatly reduced."
"Dan," Emma said softly.
He smiled gently at her. "It's all right, Em. It might be late and it's not quite an adoption, but Hermione, feel free to consider Susan as your new sister. The papers came through, along with new paperwork that we'll let you think over, Susan. If you want, Emma and I would be happy to let you add Granger to your name. The Prime Minister sent over paperwork for a formal adoption, if you want."
Susan stared between Dan and Emma and her eyes filled with tears. "Adoption?" she whispered. Amelia Bones had been a kindly guardian, but she was rather prim and standoffish and totally unlike the Grangers.
Emma stepped forward and wrapped Susan into a hug, a moment later Dan and Hermione joined them. Harry watched them for a moment with a wistful expression, then he stood and walked away without saying a word. This was a family moment and he didn't want to intrude. He was just glad that things had worked out well for Susan.
As much as he loved Sirius, he knew that the time they had missed together had created a gulf that was hard to cross. Both men had experienced hardships that they were reluctant to talk about. Sirius was his godfather and guardian, but adoption was not a topic that they ever talked about.
Chekiath followed Harry back down to the center of the bowl. He made a soft snuffling sound and Harry looked at him curiously.
"Someday you'll have a family of your own, Harry, and I will always be with you," Chekiath said gently.
Harry smiled at the thought. "A family would be nice, Cheki," he said a bit wistfully.
"And before then, you have me, and you can practice with any of the girls," Cheki replied.
Harry shook his head. "Still trying to get me laid, I see."
"It would relax you," Cheki said smugly. "But some I think would confuse you. Luna is a fun girl and I think you would enjoy covering her, but I think she would make your brain hurt after a while."
Harry laughed at that. He liked Luna a lot, but she did make his brain hurt. "I don't have to have sex with her to get a headache, Cheki. She does on her own without involving sex."
He spotted Ronan walking towards him and he changed direction to meet him.
"Harry, your wards are nearly in place. I've been looking over things, and they're pretty well set. The old buildings that the dragon handlers used were burned down, like in most other Weyrs, but the area can be cleaned up and buildings can be erected for administration and a kitchen hall. The actual dragon Weyrs could be enlarged enough to house a rider. Some of the natural caves are quite large and could be hollowed out to allow for more Weyr space."
Harry nodded and looked around. "It's a good place for dragons, but I think it's rather bleak for people."
Ronan grinned at him. "Maybe, but if you're raised in Africa, you'd not have a problem with it. Don't forget you're letting your own preference of climate and location affect you."
Harry pulled out a pocket handkerchief mopped at his brow. It was mid July and it was blistering hot. He couldn't imagine living in a place like this. "That's true," he admitted. "I prefer something a little more green and cooler."
He motioned to the area leading away from the old bowl. The ground was a bright yellowish brown and most of the vegetation was a form of scrub brush. It was a hot, dry, inhospitable place in Harry's mind, but he could understand Ronan's point.
Harry motioned to a set of nearby rocks they could sit on and they walked over to them. "I think what I'm trying to say is we need to set some basic standards for what makes a place viable for a Weyr with riders. Do you remember Corales Isla Fuerte? That Weyr was beautiful with a nearby pristine white sand beach and a good food sources nearby. In so many ways it was perfect, except for the fact that it was on an island that was already crawling with people. There was no room for Riders to set up shop."
Harry looked around the bowl again. He could see May checking over the young dragons that had been injured in the attack and he smiled. She made it a point to check any dragons that were reporting problems in every Weyr they visited.
"Or Nevado del Huila in Columbia? That Weyr is sitting on a ticking bomb. We might be able to get the goblins help in delaying the next eruption, but sooner or later it's still going to erupt. We have the same problem at Disko."
"So what do you suggest?" asked Ronan.
Harry grinned. He and Ronan were friends, and the more they worked together, the more Ronan seemed to know he had ideas to share. Sometimes Harry used Ronan to work out ideas before presenting them to others.
"I've been recording my own thoughts about the viability of each Weyr we visited. That's why I've had you look at the Wizard made buildings and the dragon Weyrs and caves. In some cases, if we had some riders that want to start a Weyr, they may end up having to find a new location and moving the dragons there, rather than using the spot they're in now. Places like Nevado del Huila are too dangerous for riders or dragons. I've already made a note to ask the Goblins to look at the volcano, but I suspect that they won't be able to delay things too long," Harry said.
Ronan shook his head. "How do you keep track of everything? I have my hands full between classes and making sure the Wing is up to snuff."
Harry chuckled and pulled his little notebook out of his pocket. "Don't be fooled, Ronan. Without this little book, I'd be lost. If it weren't for you keeping track of the Wing, I don't think I'd be able to handle half as much as I do. I may be Wing Leader, but I think we both know you're the one really running the wing."
"I had wondered about that," Ronan murmured. "The other seconds aren't nearly as busy as I am."
Harry blinked and looked at him, then he frowned as he realized he was taking advantage of Ronan. "I'm sorry. I just realized I dumped all the work on you."
"Oh, relax. I don't mind really, and it's not like I have to do everything all by myself. Karen helps with a lot of the scheduling and putting together the rosters," Ronan replied.
"I've noted you've taken her to the movies the last couple of weekends," Harry said with a grin. "She's a very pretty girl."
Karen Khan was an oriental girl that reminded Harry a little of Cho Chang. She wasn't as tall as Cho, but she was wickedly smart and loved mathematics. Harry had asked her to help Lord Mills and she took over the accounting of the Weyr from James. He still maintained the accounts and signed the checks, but Karen was the one doing most of the work on their finances.
Ronan blushed, "Yeah," he agreed with a goofy grin.
Harry chuckled. He didn't have any problems with any relationships people might form unless it impacted their duties.
"Karen told me about this issue with the dragons mating," Ronan said softly. His comment made their mood somber.
Harry dug a foot into the hard packed dirt for a moment. "It is a problem. I've told Luna that we'll no longer present a candidate younger than fifteen."
"That'll help future riders, but it doesn't do much for us," Ronan replied.
"I know, but I don't know a way around it. We didn't do this deliberately. We're all still learning what it means to be dragon riders," Harry said a bit forcefully.
Ronan nodded. "Karen doesn't really have a problem with it, except that she's thinks it would be best if the first time wasn't something imposed by our dragons. She thinks it's a little too close to rape in her opinion and I agree with her on that."
Harry looked over at him. "So what will you do?" This was something he was still puzzling over himself.
Ronan sighed. "I'm... we're not sure. The girls think their dragons will have their first mating flight in April or March. The males are supposed precede them by about a month but a few males have said they can hold off the urges until the females rise. So that's a bit of an unknown. Karen thinks its going to revolve around the females."
He blushed then, and glanced at Harry. "Karen is a very practical girl and I think she's looking at the males time of March as a cut off. I wouldn't be surprised if she decides to just get it done sometime before then."
Harry nodded, having heard similar comments. It was now an issue that everyone was aware of, but reluctant to openly talk of it. "I wish I could offer you some advice, Ronan, but I'm in the same boat. And Hermione..." He paused, frowning. "She's convinced that we can meditate through our dragon's mating flight and not allow ourselves to be influenced."
Ronan looked at him doubtfully. "Do you believe that?"
Harry shrugged. "I don't know."
Ronan stood. "I better check on the others. It'll be time to eat soon."
He turned to look at Harry. "Karen is a very pretty girl. I think you'll do well with her."
Ronan smiled briefly, then he nodded and turned away.
"Don't let it worry you, Harry, I'm sure you'll get through this," Chekiath said privately.
Harry chuckled darkly. "Yeah, maybe, or maybe Hermione will murder me."
"I would protect you," Chekiath announced.
Harry smiled and leaned back against the rock, just watching the Weyr and letting his own thoughts wander where they will.
Ministry of Magic, July 21st...
Alejandro opened the door and walked into the office. He walked over to the desk Dumbledore used and he placed a sheet of paper down in front of the old man.
Dumbledore glanced up at his friend, then he picked up the paper and as he read, his eyes got wider and wider.
"Oh my, this will cause problems," he muttered.
"Albus?" asked Sir William.
Albus glanced up from the paper. "It seems that the Wizengamot was in the middle of a trial when things fell apart. The individual in question was convicted of being an accessory to the injury of several aurors who were attempting to arrest one Hermione Granger and her parents. The aurors were injured, one quite seriously, when dragons intervened in the arrest.
"Severus Snape was the informant that led the aurors to her home. Miss Granger herself was badly injured by the aurors when they stormed her house. Now it seems that the Wizengamot had managed to vote for a conviction on that plus other charges. But they never got around to sentencing him."
Sir William O'Hearny frowned. Any case that involved dragons, wizards and the law was going to be a major headache. "What other charges was he convicted on?"
"He was found guilty in four counts of rape," Alejandro said. "Since they involved old, noble families, there was considerable call for him to be kissed. But things started to spiral out of control and they never got back to dealing with him. We've been slowly culling the people in our holding cells, either formally charging them and shipping them off to CID holding cells or releasing them. My people discovered Snape in one of the cells."
Sir William looked down at his desk. This was typical of the issues he had been dealing with of late. "We can't send him to your prison. As it is, I'm barely keeping Her Majesty from ordering an airstrike on that place. If she had her way, she'd burn the prison down to bedrock. She's personally told me that we must find a way to destroy those dementor things. And honestly, having seen the thermal image video of the attack, I can't disagree with her."
"What would you normally do with a rapist?" asked Alejandro.
Sir William shrugged. "We have prisons for that sort of thing, Alejandro. I don't claim to be an expert on them, but I know they are not very pleasant places, but still far better than Azkaban."
Sir William looked across his desk to Alejandro. "Tell me, are you sure he's guilty?"
Croaker nodded. "Without a doubt. They used Veratiserum on him. Each of the girls involved were members of his house at school and all were aged sixteen or younger," he replied firmly.
"Fine, I'll see if I can get a magistrate from one of our closed courts to reaffirm the conviction and place him in a regular prison," William replied.
Croaker nodded in satisfaction. He didn't want to see Snape walk free. Hearing an unusual noise, he turned to see Dumbledore had turned on the computer they'd given him. Croaker sat at his desk and watched as Dumbledore struggled with the mouse for a moment. He stared at his keyboard, then bashed the keys with his index fingers. Finally, he leaned back with a broad smile, having successfully sent his second email.
"Albus?" William asked in amusement.
Dumbledore looked up. "It just occurred to me that we may have a way of getting rid of the dementors."
"Dragons," Croaker exclaimed in a breathy voice.
"William, you need to understand that in the past thousand years there has never been a single known instance of a dementor dying. But dragon fire and being taken Between are both something that the dragons can do and we know it works. My email was to Remus Lupin, asking if we could meet and discuss it. The Weyrleader would have to approve, but I think we can rely on them to help us," Albus explained.
Sir William jotted down his own thoughts on a pad, then he nodded. "It's an idea, but I am sure Her Majesty would want us to do everything to insure the dragon's safety. I will pass the idea up to her and see what she thinks."
Campbeltown Weyr, July 23rd...
"Thank you for seeing me this morning, Remus."
"It's no problem Albus. You're always welcome at the Weyr."
Albus frowned at the younger man. Remus seemed to be favoring one arm as if it were injured. "Have you hurt your arm?"
Remus gave the old man a weak smile. "Not exactly. Our American friends have an idea for a possible treatment for Lycanthropy. It's experimental, but when they asked if I'd be interested, I accepted. I didn't realize it at the time, but part of the treatment required shots into my arm. They didn't hurt all that much, until the next day when my arm felt like someone had hit it repeatedly with a bludger."
The old man looked shocked. "The Americans have a cure for Lycanthropy?"
Remus shook his head. "No, they have an idea that might be a cure, or lead to one. Right now, it's just a theory. Apparently, the Americans were afraid that someone would find a way of turning the werewolf curse into a weapon, so they researched possible treatments and cures."
"Amazing. I do hope it works well for you," Albus said.
Remus nodded. "Thank you. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but I can't help feel a little excited by this."
A machine rumbled in the distance, then they heard a siren followed by a series of blasts. Albus looked out the window in surprise, but there was nothing to see. "How long has that been going on?"
"They started a few days ago, just after they finished installing that new fence section. Sir Robert said that the basic buildings will be easy to build once the foundations are laid. The buildings are mostly prefabricated and shipped here in pieces. Once they're up, it's just a matter of installing the equipment. He hopes to see the new power plant completed by this time next summer."
"Amazing," murmured Albus. "I'll have to ask Sir Robert if I can tour the facility when it's completed. I've never seen one before."
Remus nodded. "Nor have I," he agreed.
Albus turned back to Remus. "About that email I sent you."
Remus smiled. "Yes. I passed the idea along to Harry, but he's reluctant to directly expose the dragons. He wants to know if it were possible to seal the dementors in Azkaban?"
Dumbledore looked shocked at the idea. "I suppose we could. I don't know what Her Majesty has in mind for the prison, but I think she would prefer to see it closed down. We could relocate the prisoners, then close the doors, leaving the dementors on the inside. Then perhaps the dragons could melt the doors and rock enough to seal them in forever?"
"I don't think Harry would have any problem with that plan, but you know they're on a world tour and won't be back until sometime in the second week of August?"
"That's fine, my boy. Harry's question raises another issue which will need a royal decision, I think," Albus replied.
"The Weyrleader hates these things even more than we do, White Beard, but I think he is right to be cautious," Narth said, breaking into the conversation.
Remus looked surprised. "Narth? I didn't know you were listening in."
"I'm sorry, Wolf, but I am still confined to the Weyr, even if the Weyrhealer lets me walk around now. I was passing your window and heard you talking about the demons. They cannot take our souls like they do with humans, but they can take away something even more important. When those foul things grabbed me, I forgot everything. Flying, Between, flaming, everything. It was the time of the beasts all over again. The Weyrleader understands, and while he wants to see those foul demons killed, but he will be cautious about it," Narth replied.
"I daresay the Queen will agree with that sentiment, Narth. She will not want to see any more lives lost, human or dragon," Albus added.
"The Lady Holder is a kindly person and a good friend to dragons. I hope the Weyrhealer will let me return soon to her hold."
Remus and Albus exchanged an amused grin. Albus, in particular, knew the Queen could be ruthless when she wanted to.
Condron AAF, New Mexico, USA, July 25th...
Harry looked at the hillside that was dotted with small caverns for the dragons. This was officially Weyr number Twenty Six and it was very inadequate. They were holding up in an area that had Hermione in near hysterics. Only Harry's firm grip on what needed to be done kept him from joining her. The Weyr was officially inside the White Sands Missile testing range. In short, muggles had used the region for both regular and nuclear weapons testing for decades and she was dead set against letting any dragons remain here.
Harry couldn't argue with her, but the problem was they had no place to go. He was also expected to meet with some Americans from the Department of Magic this morning, so he couldn't take up relocating the Weyr with Ralaninth, the senior dragon, until after his meeting. And that was a problem, because they were supposed to leave after that. Harry was certain this would become another item in his list of things.
Harry smiled in reflection. This morning, Hermione had grabbed him and walked him up to the top of the hill. It was a small weyr, only one hundred and sixty three dragons, but it was also one of the most inhospitable places he had ever seen.
"Harry, I'm worried." Hermione said softly.
He looked at her, startled. "About?" he said cautiously.
She shivered and rubbed her arms absently. "This is a terrible location for a Weyr. They used to blow up bombs here that poisoned the land for decades or longer. We don't know what kind of radiation is still left, or what effect it might have on the dragons. Then there's all the conventional weapons tested here. The land is peppered with craters and chemicals from explosives. This can't be healthy for the dragons."
He was rather pleased that instead of her usual emphatic way of speaking, she was trying to calmly explain her reasoning.
She stopped when he held up his hand. "Relax, Hermione. I happen to agree with you. I can't say I know anything about radiation but there's nothing here to support riders. There isn't even a road nearby they can use to get to town."
Harry looked around. From the desolate hilltop they were unable to spot any sign that man was anywhere nearby. In his mind, a Weyr with riders needed to be isolated, but this was too much of an extreme. Harry had a vision in his mind of someday a Weyr being a place that people visited regularly. Nothing but rattlesnakes and tarantulas would want to visit this Weyr. There wasn't even a local source of fresh water. The dragons flew up into the nearby mountains for that.
He turned back to her. "I'm meeting with the Americans today. I can mention the problem to them and perhaps they can figure out a solution. I could order Ralaninth to relocate, but it's only a partial solution. Knik Glacier was in a similar boat, only instead of a desert, we were dealing with a remote glacier."
She smiled at him. "Thank you, Harry," she said.
He grinned back at her. "Well, it wasn't that hard of an argument. We both agreed this is no place for the dragons before you had even brought the subject up. And this time, you actually talked, rather than demanded. You used to demand a lot before. I think I prefer it when you talk to me instead of down to me."
Hermione blushed. "I know," she said in nearly a whisper. "I realized that it was one of the things I had to change."
Harry leaned closer to her and kissed her cheek. "I'm glad you did. I am really liking this Hermione."
"Harry, it's nearly time for us to leave," Chekiath announced.
"I know, Cheki," he replied with a sigh. He and Hermione had so little time alone these days. "Give me a moment."
"You once said I was growing up so strong," he said, pinning her with his gaze. "But we're all growing up strong. You too. Each of us are facing things that none of us expected when we were little. Things that you parents never envisioned for you. You're going to be a strong woman, Hermione, and even with that, I still see my best friend."
Hermione blushed and Harry smiled and gave a shrug, then he stepped in front of her to block the dust as Chekiath flared out to land close by.
With a wave to her, he quickly scrambled to his spot on Chekiath's shoulders, then he looked down at her and waited for her to move away. Ordinarily they didn't need to do this since Campbeltown was neatly paved, but on this trip they had learned the hard way that the dragons could kick up a lot of dust and small objects when landing and taking off.
She smiled and backed away, then Chekiath sprang aloft and vanished from view.
Harry came out of Between and grinned. Below him was Norendrath, with Sirius and Milton Standish, the American scientist who was acting as an intermediary between the Weyr and the Americans. The whole purpose of this meeting was to help the Americans start their own Weyr with riders. Sirius and Norendrath were there to offer a ride to Doctor Standish, who was on extended leave from NASA to work at the Weyr.
Next to Sirius and Doctor Standish were two other gentlemen that Harry assumed represented the American government.
Chekiath rumbled and sent a greeting to Norendrath, then he flew low over the group of men, causing them to duck before swinging around and coming in for a neat landing next to the Romanian Longhorn. Side by side, Chekiath dwarfed the other, older dragon. For an non-bonded dragon, Norendrath was very large for his breed, but compared to a bonded dragon he was tiny. Katie Bell's Kith, also a Romanian Longhorn, was nearly ten feet longer than Norendrath.
Harry lightly dropped down to the tarmac. He glanced around quickly and noted many things similar to Campbeltown. The meeting spot was called Condron Army Air Base, although it no longer looked like the army was using it anymore. It was a short distance from the town of White Sands, New Mexico.
"Harry," Sirius said with a smile. The taller man walked over and gripped his hand tightly, then he looked him over, noting the tan with approval. "It seems like your trip has been good for you."
"It's been educational," Harry admitted, then he looked at the other man. "Doctor Standish, thank you for taking the time out to help with this. I know how busy you've been of late," he said with a smile.
Standish waved a hand, dismissing Harry's appreciation. "It's of no matter, Weyrleader. If we can come to agreement here today, then I can always continue my research somewhere in the States."
Harry stepped closer and looked at the other men standing there. They had been a bit intimidated by Norendrath, but Chekiath had them in awe.
"Weyrleader, let me introduce you to Jasper Brady from the American Department of Magic and Jeffry Stafford, who represents the Department of the Interior," Standish said. "Gentlemen, Harry Potter, the Weyrleader for the dragons."
Harry shook their hands, then turned to Stafford. "Department of the Interior?"
"Among other things, we maintain and control the nation's public lands," said Stafford smugly. "Right now, we understand that the dragons are using public lands. I'm here to insure that the land isn't being spoiled by their use."
Harry frowned, then glanced at Sirius, who looked equally puzzled. The man's attitude seemed out of place for a country that was asking the dragons for a favor. "Mr. Stafford, the dragons have been sitting in their locations for more than one hundred years. And in one case, the Weyr predates your country's formation. Perhaps it is you who are occupying and spoiling their land?"
Stafford started and looked like he had been slapped. Sirius laughed in that strange bark-like laugh of his and Harry grinned at him.
"Gentlemen, let me make our position painfully clear. Dragons are a thinking, intelligent, sapient species. Consider them to be funny looking humans if you want. We aren't here looking for a handout. We're here to see if your country is interested in reducing your oil dependency by as much as a third. Given that, there are certain things we need to agree on."
The figure had been supplied to Harry by Mildred O'Connor, who wanted Harry to understand just how valuable a resource they were sitting on.
"Wait, wait, wait," Brady said quickly, then he turned on Stafford. "I told you to drop the arrogant bit. The President himself has authorized this and tasked me to see it happen."
Brady turned to Harry with an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, Weyrleader. My esteemed colleague got us off on the wrong foot. How about we retire inside where it's cooler and we can talk more comfortably."
Harry nodded. He glanced over to Cheki.
"Don't worry, Harry, I'll listen in and let you know what I think," the large dragon said, allowing everyone to hear him.
Sirius and Standish grinned as the other two American's paled and stared at the large dragon in shock.
Standish walked over to the small building and opened the door. The other two Americans shook from their shock and followed behind him.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief as he entered. The building was air conditioned and very cool. Even the mornings in the bright, New Mexico sun were enough to make him sweat buckets. The conditions at the Weyr were so bad, he had changed their itinerary and had told Ronan to take the Riders to Aogashima Weyr if he wasn't back by eleven.
The tropical climate would be hot, but there would be plenty of swimming to compensate for the heat. Ronan grinned at that idea, no doubt spurred on by visions of Karen in her bikini.
Sitting down at the table, Harry helped himself to a cold soft drink from the pile of drinks and snacks and he looked at Brady, who seemed to be in charge of the meeting. Stafford had been smacked down by someone in a superior position and seemed reluctant to speak again.
"Weyrleader," Brady said softly, "the President has looked over your conditions for starting a Weyr on U.S. soil and he has no real problems with them, but one aspect does concern him. He feels that fifteen might be too young, given the fact that the dragons rising to mate will force sexual maturity on the riders, as well. I think he would prefer going with sixteen or seventeen year old candidates."
Harry looked up from his drink. "Sir, I am open to suggestions. We have a limited window of ages for acceptable riders and I've already cut that window by two years. Our ability to scout out new candidate riders is limited at the moment. However, I will suggest that if we can find enough candidates, then record those who are underage and wait for them to become old enough. If we can't find enough candidates, we may have to take what we have. We searched nearly a dozen schools and military bases and we managed to scrape up thirty candidates out of nearly two thousand students."
"The Weyrleader is right," Standish said, "I've looked at the numbers. The possible candidates in our population would be low, less than one percent. We may end up having to accept what we can find in the allotted time frame."
Harry nodded. "It's more than just finding someone who's acceptable, Mr. Brady. The dragons need a few days to monitor each potential candidate to see if they are suitable. We had one potential candidate who turned out to be stalking some of the girls in his class. Imagine what would happen if you ended up with someone like that as a dragon rider, or worse. I can confine the person to the Weyr and order his dragon not to take him anywhere, but we are faced with a fundamental problem."
Brady watched Harry with interest and he motioned for him to continue.
Harry took a sip of his drink and gathered his thoughts. "Imagine a married couple. At some point, the husband commits a crime and is thrown into jail for it. Now imagine his wife having the ability to burn down the jail, setting the very stone on fire, then grabbing her husband and jumping to any point on the planet in an instant. All this because the couple are so committed to each other that if one of them dies, so will the other."
Harry paused and looked around the room. "Think about that and you'll understand why the dragons want to carefully check any potential candidate. The dragons want riders back, but they want riders with integrity, honesty and intelligence. They want people who are the very best they can find. I think the fifteen year old limit is about the best we can do. If you manage to come up with forty candidates at age seventeen, great, but don't limit yourselves too early."
"I didn't realize that finding candidates would be so difficult," Brady mused.
"It can be very difficult," Harry replied. "In a few cases, it has taken dragons three days of watching someone before they agreed to allow him to be presented as a candidate, and even that approach isn't perfect," Harry replied. "I don't expect my riders to be saints. They're human like everyone else and make mistakes as we all do. But punishing a rider for an infraction is a delicate balance between punishing the rider and harming his or her dragon, who is an innocent bystander. And that is why finding candidates is not an easy or quick process."
Harry paused and took another sip of his drink. "We currently have eight riders allocated to searching for candidates. Each rider will lead a group of up to twenty non-bonded dragons to visit schools and places where teenagers congregate. Next year, if plans proceed properly, we will have three Weyrs contributing to the search, making it that much easier. But we do have one very big problem here in the States."
Brady looked up from some notes he was jotting down. "Problem? What kind of problem?"
Harry leaned back in his chair. "There are two kinds of Weyrs, gentlemen. One that can support dragons and one that can support both dragons and people. Here in the States, you have three Weyrs. One in Alaska that's too remote to support a human population, one not far from Mount Hood in Washington that's designated as a national forest, and one nearby in the White Sands testing range. The Mount Hood Weyr isn't that remote. Facilities could be built to support a Weyr, including housing and other buildings."
Harry frowned as he continued. "I am probably going to have to abandon the White Sands Weyr. The dragons are too exposed there and it's not really suitable for human habitation without considerable effort. There's also the significant danger of radiation and chemicals left over from the testing there."
Stafford looked at Harry incredulously. "Like they would just abandon their home on your say so? You? You're just a boy!" he scoffed.
"Harry is the Weyrleader. When he speaks, no dragon will disobey him. When he needed help to save the Lady Holder of Britain, every Weyr in the world came to his aid," exclaimed Chekiath angrily.
"Over seven thousand dragons participated in the defense of Balmoral Castle," Standish said softly. "When you factor in the fifteen hundred dragons already involved in the fight at Gringault, you have the bulk of the world wide population of dragons."
"Ralaninth would move his dragons if Harry said so," Chekiath added.
Hot, tired and with more problems than solutions, Harry stared at Stafford for several moments, then leaned forward. "Would you like to test that?" he said softly, his eyes pinning the other man. "I will not work with arrogant, belligerent, short sighted people. They are a danger to my dragons and that is something I will not allow. Perhaps I should be thinking of moving all three American Weyrs to Mexico and leave you Yanks to buy your oil. You may not like me, you may not like the dragons, but moderate your tone, Mr. Stafford, or you can explain to your President why there are, and never will be, dragons anywhere in America. Ever!"
"Stafford, shut your mouth," snapped Brady, then he turned to Harry. "Weyrleader, I apologize for my associate's behavior. I can assure you that I will be reporting his behavior to his superiors."
Harry nodded curtly. He understood that Stafford, for whatever reason, wasn't interested in helping dragons, while Brady had orders that were clearly in favor of the dragons. It was an interesting concept to him. It was the first time he had encountered someone who was an obstructionist just for the sake of it and it reminded him that dragons would not be so universally well received as they were in Britain or in the United States.
"I see your problem Weyrleader, but I'm not sure what we can do," Brady said a bit helplessly. Harry was disappointed by that comment.
"Why can't we do like the British did?" asked Standish. "They ceded an old, unused airbase to the dragons."
Brady looked surprised, then he nodded and quickly scribbled a note. "Yes, I do think something could be arranged. In fact, this is an old air base with a limited commercial use. We could claim to need to reactivate the field."
"Mr. Brady, would you mind coordinating your efforts with Doctor Standish? The quicker we can move the White Sands Weyr the better I'd feel. If all goes well, you could have riders in place in your own Weyr by the end of the year.
"Campbeltown would still be the central clearing house for the SDTS and for any scientific research, but I'm willing to let Doctor Standish head up that effort on the American side, as long as we agree that you'll share information with the British and the Weyr," Harry said.
Standish looked at Harry in shock. He was basically setting up the possibility of a secondary research group under him! That was something beyond his wildest dreams. Even with his twenty years at NASA, he never thought he'd be able to lead such a group. Sir Robert's group consisted of over one hundred scientists and engineers, and here was Harry, offering him a similar deal. "Thank you, Weyrleader," he said, clearly stunned.
Harry smiled at him. "Doctor, you've been straight with us and honesty is something I value. You leading the effort on this side of the ocean makes sense, and I know there won't be any personality clashes between you and Sir Robert."
Standish smiled and gave Harry a nod. He knew the Weyrleader was on a tight schedule. "I think we can take it from here, Weyrleader," he said.
Harry glanced at Sirius, who nodded to him. Sirius knew what Harry wanted and he could always use Norendrath to contact him if he needed a point clarified.
Harry stood and offered his hand to Brady. "I'm sorry to run, but our inspection tour can't be put off."
"I understand, Weyrleader. I look forward to seeing you again in the near future. Perhaps when we find a place for your dragons?" he said hopefully.
Harry smiled. "That I can guarantee, Mr. Brady. It'll be a lot easier for the dragons if we help them move to a new location."
Brady nodded and Harry turned and left the room.
Once the Weyrleader had left, Brady's expression hardened and he glared at Stafford, who shrank back from him. "You just obliterated your career," he snarled.
Sirius didn't bother to hide his look of satisfaction, or his smirk.
Aogashima Weyr, Weyr #31, July 25th...
Harry and Chekiath emerged from Between high enough to take in the enormous bowl below them. This was a small island with a mostly Japanese population in the Philippine Sea, and it was one of the most beautiful spots Harry had ever seen.
"Draco was right," he murmured. "Look at it, Cheki, it's gorgeous!"
The bowl was heavily forested and there were signs of farms along some of the interior slopes. From his vantage point he could see other islands in the distance and he wondered if they were as inviting as the one below him. He knew from Draco's survey that several of the other islands were wizard protected and contained livestock herds that this Weyr occasionally pilfered from.
Harry nudged Cheki slightly with his knee and Chekiath entered into a gentle bank, letting Harry take in more of the island below. It was clear from the vegetation that this volcano hadn't been active in many years.
There was a small heliport and town at the northern end of the island and what appeared to be a port or industrial complex at the southern tip. From what Draco had told him, the Weyr was on the outward facing east slope of the volcano.
Chekiath hit a thermal and he locked his wings, letting the pair soar several thousand feet over the island.
"Harry, why was that man so angry?" asked Chekiath.
"You mean Stafford?"
"Yes. He had unhappy thoughts while dealing with you. I wish we could see and hear normal people better, but I could tell he was unhappy. He wanted to be angry with you. He seemed frightened of you and I don't know why," Chekiath replied.
Harry sighed. Dragons were excellent at determining the emotional state and stability of a person, and had the ability to skim the minds of individuals, but it wasn't true mind reading like Legilimency. What they could pick up had to be thoughts that were highly emotional to the person. "Do you remember that soldier who worked for Katherine? The one she sent away after he called Lee Jordan a bunch of nasty names?"
"I didn't understand that. He was mean to Lee for no reason. Soranth was really angry at him for hurting Lee. I like Lee."
It was a case of pure bigotry. A member of the guard force seemed to take offense with the fact that Lee and Mariah seemed to be getting close. The man had made his opinions publicly known in the Kitchen Hall and Katherine had jumped all over him for it. The end result was she had forced the man to apologize, then had him transferred to another unit.
Harry blinked in surprise. He hadn't realized that the man's hateful comments had hurt Lee and he made a mental note to talk to him about it. "The man hated Lee just because of the color of his skin. It's a silly reason to hate, but some people hate just for the sake of hating and will do so for the silliest of reasons."
"It isn't right," exclaimed Chekiath.
Harry chuckled. "No, it isn't, mate, but it is the way of things. I think in a way Stafford did me a favor, despite his shitty attitude."
"What did he do besides make us angry?" Chekiath asked in confusion.
Harry gently rubbed his hand against Chekiath's neck affectionately. "He reminded me that there will always be people who don't like us for many, many reasons. We've been very lucky and we found a bunch of people we can call friends. But that won't always be the case. I need to remind myself that there is always a chance that the next person I meet could be someone like Lord Mills, or someone like Stafford."
Harry blinked and smiled to himself. "Sometimes it is. But you didn't do anything wrong, Cheki. If you hadn't stomped on him first, I would have. I want you to remember that we're a team. We're a family and I'm never going to yell at you for defending me, or any other dragon or rider. You are my dragon, and you command our Weyr just as much as I do."
"So you're not mad at me?" asked Chekiath.
Harry smiled and thumped Cheki affectionately. "Not in the least. Although I do wish you'd find another joke other than your farts."
"But farts are funny!" protested Chekiath as he started to spiral in to the Weyr below.
Harry could see his riders and the others gathering to meet him and he smiled. Ronan wasn't the only one hoping to see some girls in bikinis. "Yeah, they are at that mate," Harry admitted.
Hermione stood next to May, looking skyward. Even several thousand feet up, Chekiath's form was unmistakable.
"What are they doing up there?" asked May.
"Thinking about hard stuff," Trath replied. "The Weyrleader and Chekiath are discussing important things. Chekiath says the Weyrleader is thinking very hard about stuff for us. The Weyrleader is explaining to Chekiath that he expects him to look out for all of us like he does."
"Chekiath is finally taking his place as the lead dragon," Comaloth announced. "I think I'll let him catch me on my first egg flight."
"Me, too," Trath said, her eyes whirling calmly.
Both girls blushed at the comments made by their dragons. They tried to ignore the comments made by other dragons, but the intention was clear. A number of the female dragons wanted Chekiath to cover them at least once.
"So, Chekiath is assuming the role of alpha male," May murmured.
"Was there any doubt about that?" asked Hermione. "Even with his growth rate slowing, he's enormous. And Harry. He might be shy and clueless around girls, but he's definitely the alpha rider. I thought he was just minutes away from hitting Chapman when we came home from the battle. You weren't there to see it, but Harry got right into his face. I think it was then that I really realized that Chapman might be taller than Harry, but have you seen Harry's shoulders? He's all muscle."
"Yes, he is very tasty," Luna said, stepping closer to the two girls. She ignored the dark looked they shot at her. "Harry's developed a lot of upper body strength, thanks to his climbing up and down on Chekiath. I don't fly as often as he does and I've still grown a full cup size." Luna frowned. "I'm not sure I like having muscles in that area," she admitted. Privately all of the girls agreed with her, but there wasn't anyway around it.
- Sorry, but the first chapter rarely gives us any opportunity to mock anyone.
- We are aware of the petition going around and the reasons for it. We choose not to participate in said petition and request that you refrain from wasting space in reviews, or sending pms about said petition. We write stories for adults that have a good enough imagination that they don't need us to provide explicit scenes. Your imagination is better than any imagery we can provide with our mere words. Besides, we know explicit scenes are against the TOS and have never written any lemons.
We live in a free society where you can exercise your right to protest and we can exercise our right to continue writing. Please respect that.
- If you have reached this point and haven't a clue what is going on, then you probably missed the first part of this story, entitled the Queen Who Fell to Earth. It's your call, you can go back and read that so that you can understand what is happening or you can remain ignorant and ignore the fact that the guy in the cubicle behind you isn't wearing any pants.
- If you have reached this point and are totally lost, but you did read the previous story. Here's a brief recap. Harry, Dragons, Boom! Muggles, more dragons, Goblins, more booms! Naked Donut Delivery girls! (just kidding, we only had naked pizza delivery girls in the last tale.) Hopefully it will all make sense now, if not, go back and reread it.
- Given the scope of this tale it is likely that this will be longer than The Queen Who Fell to Earth. Therefore we will update on a two week cycle rather than the one week cycle we used for QWF.
- A couple of things to note. Whenever possible we are using real people, especially politicians and celebrities. This means that we are taking a big liberty with using said people and it is doubtful they would act as we portray them. But then, we are portraying politicians in a kinder light than reality. Everyone knows that politicians don't really give a damn about the little people.
In any event, yes we know Joe Blow wouldn't do that, but he does in our story because we say he does and as the authors we're right and you're wrong even if you agree with us.
- Ships. Ships have been decided already. Your desires are not of any importance. You are currently reading chapter one, while I am currently writing chapter eleven. Any ship you want to see, or suggestion you want to make is futile. The ship has sunk, the plot has moved on. We don't ask for suggestions from the readers. And for the guy that keeps asking to see Harry transfigured into a gorilla and have him grab Hermione and swing away on a vine. Seek help. Immediately.
- Contrary to the advice of the folks who run this website, we will never allow for anonymous reviews. If you have something to say, do so with a signed account or be silent.
- If you're bored, try reading some of our other stories. Just one comment, our really old stuff was written as our first forays into fan fiction and at a time when a lot of what we wrote hadn't reached the point of being cliché. Now days we can't read them without cringing. They do show one thing however, we have never been content to just follow canon.