Alyx thrust a sheet under Bob's nose. "Tell me what you think!" she demanded.
Bob cautiously picked up the paper and looked at it. "Snape cried in anguish as Draco, the handsome king of Slobnovia wailed in pain. The dastardly Harry Potter, had just sliced off King Draco's who who, and then fled by leaping from the window to catch the landing strut of a nearby helicopter."
Bob sighed and put down the paper. "Are we back with this who who business again? I thought we covered this two weeks ago."
"Will you concentrate on the task and stop obsessing about Draco's who who!" Alyx screeched.
Bob blinked. "I'm obsessing about Draco's who who? I'm not the one writing the epic of Draco's search for a replacement who who. All I did was ask you to write a simple disclaimer telling people that we don't own Harry Potter or the Dragonriders of Pern and you give me stories about Draco's who who!"
"You just don't appreciate fine literature. I should know better than ask for your opinion. If the story doesn't have bouncing baazoomers you're not interested!"
"Baazoomers? You mean Boobies?"
"Shhhhh!" exclaimed Alyx. "You remember the penis police. If you're not careful you'll bring down the boobie busters. And unlike you, those people scare me!"
Bob stared at her for a moment, then sunk his head into his hands. "The hoops I have to jump through to get a disclaimer! Last week we learned we can't say penis, this week boobies!"
He looked up at her. "You can't market your steam powered adult toys using a story! It's against the TOS!"
Alyx waved off his complaint. "It'll be great, once Draco learns about my steam powered who who replacement with attachments, why Snape will have a permanent smile on his face."
"Of course he will, the undertaker will make the body smile if you ask him," Bob muttered, then he looked at the audience. "Steam powered adult toys are dangerous!" he hissed.
Alyx glared at him. "Just start the chapter while I work on my story!" she snapped.
Bob reached down and flipped the switch to start the story, then he smirked at Draco sitting in the front row. He was cradling his crotch protectively and praying they wouldn't use him for real in a disclaimer.
A person that never made a mistake never tried anything new.
- Albert Einstein
Campbeltown Weyr, July 26th...
Mildred and Issac walked slowly next to Remus. He been given the last set of rabies shots a week ago and was seeing Issac every day to monitor his progress. Remus had managed to contact a number of other werewolves and they would be starting the treatment program next month after they had undergone a complete physical by Issac.
At first there was some concern about the cost of participating in the experiment, but word came by dragon from Harry stating that the Weyr would pick up the cost to treat Remus and any other Werewolf he convinced to participate. Once that hurdle was out of the way, Issac pulled Remus in for a complete physical.
Sirius had insisted that Harry be told of the experiment, but Remus put his foot down. He didn't want to raise any false hope for Harry. Remus clearly remembered how disappointed Harry had been when they learned about the rabies and he didn't want him to feel that way again.
The pair had argued about it until Issac mentioned the costs involved, then Remus realized that Harry would have to be told about it since the tests would be run at the Weyr and probably funded by the Weyr. As far as Harry knew, it was an experiment that was supposed to ease his transformation, nothing more.
One of the more interesting things about the disease was the fact that when not undergoing the transformation, Lycanthropy sufferers were actually in better shape than non-infected people.
Since this was the first time taking the mix of drugs and potion, they were taking no chances. Remus would take the potion that suppressed the transformation and lock himself into the bomb shelter. Mildred and Issac would stay outside and talk with Remus. Issac had a long questionnaire that had been sent to him from America with questions that were designed to stimulate his cognitive abilities and measure any loss of intelligence.
"Issac, I'm curious about something," Mildred suddenly said, breaking the silence.
"What's that?" he replied.
"Rabies. If a rabid animal bites me, I catch the disease. But there are cases of non-wizard humans who've become werewolves. How?" she asked.
Issac nodded. "The short answer is, we don't know. But I'm willing to offer a theory, if you're interested."
Remus watched as Mildred nodded enthusiastically. She was even more interested in the disease than he was!
Issac glanced down at his watch and saw that he had time. "There is a very minor deviation in the DNA between standard rabies and what Remus has. Less than one percent, in fact. I think that at some point a rabid animal bit a wizard and the virus mutated slightly, thanks to the magic. That wizard then passed the mutation to his victims, who passed it on to their victims and so on.
"What we have is essentially two different forms of rabies. Normal rabies and magical rabies. Unfortunately, this is pure speculation on my part. It's not like we can infect people with the disease to see if it'll mutate. We think that the two strains are so closely related that the regular vaccine will work, although I do know the Yanks are working on creating a vaccine from the magical version. That might even be a second round of treatment tests."
"I don't claim to be much of a biologist," Mildred replied, "but your idea sounds plausible."
Issac smiled then he reached into the canvas bag he was carrying and he pulled out a small glass flask. "The Yanks were kind enough to provide us with the recipe for this so we'll be able to make our own. Even if the drugs don't work, we'll still have the suppression potion."
Remus took the flask with hands that trembled slightly. Mildred gave Issac a pointed look and he nodded. "I'll just walk around for a bit. We still have some time."
Remus looked at him in surprise, but Mildred smiled gratefully.
She waited until Issac was walking away, then she turned and focused on Remus. "Are you all right?" she asked softly. She placed a hand on his and his tremor eased slightly.
He looked down. "Honestly, no. I've lived nearly my entire life with this and I've hated every second of it," he said, looking up at her. "Now I'm trying very hard to not get my hopes up. I'm not scared it won't work because it can't make anything worse than it is. But what if it works? I don't remember not being a werewolf."
"You're a very strong man, Remus. I have no doubt that you'd adapt to any new situation," she replied.
He looked at her closely for a moment. "Maybe, but it scares me too," he admitted, then he looked down as if ashamed of himself.
Mildred shocked herself by stepping forward and pulling him into a gentle hug. The pair were still trying to figure out what kind of relationship they could have, so this was new to both of them. Despite his surprise, he clung to her for a moment before stepping back and giving her a weak smile.
"Have some faith, Remus. I think this will work," she said fervently, then she leaned in and kissed him gently. He kissed her back and for a brief moment there was no Lycanthropy, no approaching full moon, just the two of them standing on a taxiway near a thirty year old bomb shelter.
The pair broke apart and smiled at each other. It was their first real kiss and both wanted to repeat the experience.
The pair looked over to see Issac standing nearby. "I hate to interrupt this moment, but time is pressing on and I still need to do a few things."
Remus nodded and he conjured chairs for all three of them, then he took a chair for himself and rolled up his sleeve. Issac stepped forward and took two vials of blood from him, then he checked his heart and lungs, recording notes on a clipboard.
"Before you take the potion and enter the shelter, do you have any observations you'd like to share thus far?" asked Issac.
Remus paused and shook his head. "No, I don't think..."
"Wait, there is one," Mildred said, interrupting him.
Issac and Remus turned to her in surprise. "Normally, he's very irritable by now. I have only seen him go through this once before this, of course, but he's not as irritable as the last time."
Remus leaned back in his chair and looked thoughtful. "It hadn't occurred to me, but she's right. Normally at this point everything is making me angry."
Issac nodded and wrote something down on his clipboard, then he glanced at his watch. "I'm sorry to do this, Remus."
Remus shook his head and smiled. "I'm used to it, Issac."
"If the suppression potion works like it should you won't need to do it next time," Mildred said hopefully.
Remus opened the top of the flask and quickly drank the concoction. "Ugh, that's some bad tasting stuff," he complained. He handed the empty flask back to Issac, then stood and walked over to the shelter. He easily one handed the heavy steel door. He stepped inside and closed the door behind him. The large wheel on the door spun, sealing it, then Issac stepped up and chained the wheel so it couldn't be opened from the inside.
"This is downright barbaric," Mildred said angrily. "Locking him up like he's a wild animal."
Issac nodded. "It is, but it's an undeniable fact that without Wolfsbane potion or locking themselves up, a werewolf is a danger to everyone around them."
"He is the gentlest man I have ever met," she protested.
"Mildred, there are plenty of diseases where we quarantine people. Plague, Typhus, Ebola, Legionnaires Disease, Lhassa fever to name just a few. Granted none of them make the victim want to go out and infect others by biting them, but we still lock them up while we treat them. Remus has a disease that destroys his mind during the full moon. Wolfsbane helps him keep his mind but it doesn't stop the transformation. If it works, this new potion will. If he retains his form then he'll never have to lock himself up again. I know this seems cold and cruel, but it's a small price to pay and the possible payoff is immense.
"I wish we could have given him Wolfsbane, but the protocol wouldn't allow for it."
She nodded unhappily.
Several dragons landed nearby and approached the bunker. "We're here to help Wolf," announced Momnarth.
Mildred nodded and then glanced to Sheppard, who shrugged. He hadn't had much exposure to the dragons yet. "We're trying something new this time," Mildred said. "If it goes well, Remus may have a very easy time of it tonight."
Momnarth moved so she could crane her long neck and large head to look at the chained door. "Some kind of medicine?"
Thanks to Hagrid and May, medicine wasn't an unknown concept to them.
"That's right, it's a new kind of medicine," Sheppard said. "We aren't sure if it will work, but we're hopeful."
Momnarth's eyes twirled and glowed with streaks of green and yellow in the darkening evening. "We will wait with you. Wolf is important," she declared.
Mildred nodded fervently, in full agreement with that sentiment.
Issac had a small lantern which he used to illuminate the area around them. Although he was a wizard, he relied on technology for many mundane tasks. He sat on one of the chairs that Remus had conjured and scribbled notes down on his clipboard for nearly ten minutes, then he checked his watch. The moon had finally cleared the horizon. He turned to the door and flipped a switch on a newly installed box on the door. It was an intercom to the interior of the bomb shelter. "Remus, moon rise was just a few minutes ago. Can you talk to us?"
"It's strange," said a voice from the small box. "All day long I should have been jittery and very angry. I was surprised when Mildred said I wasn't. I have changed every month for so long that it feels strange to sit here knowing the moon has risen and I'm still myself. For a moment I felt the heat build up like it normally does just before I change. It feels like you're running a very high fever that comes on in a flash. The heat started and then just faded away."
"Just remember, you have five more months of this treatment to do, then we'll see where you stand," Issac said in warning, then he scribbled notes about Remus' comments concerning the heat. He was working on a ground breaking experimental treatment and intended to be as thorough as possible.
"I remember," Remus replied. Issac had explained the protocol in exacting detail. Weekly blood tests for the next six months, then after the treatment stopped, blood tests just prior to every full moon for a year. And while the medical tests were bad enough, according to Issac, there were enough questionnaires to fill a small office.
Some of those questionnaires were deeply personal, Remus thought, and he wasn't looking forward to filling them out. He had to remind himself that, if this worked, he would be helping werewolves everywhere, so the asking of personal questions on an impersonal form was a small price to pay.
Issac held out his hand and Mildred passed him another clipboard. On it was a series of questions for him that he would repeat every hour.
"Remus, I'm going to ask you a series of questions now. These questions are basic, but are designed to stimulate your cognitive functions and allow us to judge if you're suffering from any impairment. I know this is going to be rather boring, but we have eight hours ahead of us to do this."
"I'm ready," Remus replied sounding rather upbeat about everything.
Sakushima Island Weyr, Weyr #32, Japan, July 31st...
Harry stepped out of the tent and stretched. The small beds inside these tents were comfortable, but they just weren't the bed he was used to using. He breathed a sigh of relief as several small pops came from his spine.
After spending the day resting at Aogashima Weyr, they returned back to Central and South America before hopping directly to New Zealand. Strangely, there were few former reserves in the Pacific. New Zealand and Australia each had one, while Japan had two.
"Good morning, Harry," said Chekiath, looking up from where he lay on beach.
"Good morning, mate. Did you sleep well?"
"It is a little noisy here at night," Chekiath replied. "So many ships blowing their horns."
Harry looked out over the bay. Even now it bustled with cargo ships and small fishing boats. "Yeah, I guess that would be true."
"Today is your hatching day," Chekiath announced brightly. "Dragons don't pay much attention to it, but I know humans like to celebrate such days."
Harry frowned. "I don't know, Cheki. I never paid much attention to it. Even after I went to Hogwarts, it was just another day of chores for me," Harry replied, slipping into normal speech.
"Good morning, Harry," Luna said as she stepped from the girl's tent. She also stretched, then walked over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Happy birthday. I wish I had known sooner, but we only found out last night when Dobby asked us how to spell 'fifteen'." She giggled lightly. "Poor little guy had three Es too many."
Harry blushed at the kiss. "Thank you," he mumbled.
"I couldn't help hearing what you said to Chekiath. Your family never celebrated your birthday?"
He looked down and shook his head. "My relatives never cared about my birthday except to tell me about the extra chores they wanted me to do that day," he replied.
Luna nodded. "We never really celebrated my birthday after mum died. Daddy tried, but wasn't the same. It didn't help that Daddy couldn't cook at all. The first time he asked me to bake my own birthday cake we decided to stop celebrating it."
"I'm sorry," Harry said hurriedly.
She turned and eyed him. "It wasn't your fault, so there's no reason for you to be sorry. Losing Mum took a lot of fun out of life. Becoming Trandieth's rider and being a part of the Weyr put a lot of that fun back. I still miss Mum, but it doesn't hurt as badly anymore. Perhaps it would still hurt if I were still at Hogwarts."
She placed a hand on his arm. "You're a lot better than you give yourself credit for, Harry. The dragons know it and so do your riders. I know it embarrasses you when you hear this, but just think for a moment that maybe we can see you better than you see yourself."
She patted his arm and started to walk away. "Don't plan on skipping breakfast. Dobby made a cake and the rest of the riders would like to wish you a happy birthday. I will suggest that you don't drink the stuff Ronan bought as a gift. He wanted to get you something Japanese."
She paused and looked perplexed. "He says it's a bottle of whale milk, but for the life of me I can't see how you can milk a whale in the water. I made a note in my diary to see if I could find a spell for that, just in case we need it some day."
She smiled at his confused expression, then turned away.
Harry stared at the strange blond as she walked away and could only shake his head.
#10 Downing Street, London, August 1st...
"Sir, Lord Kennewick is here for his ten o'clock appointment."
"Send him in please, then hold my calls," John Major said.
The door opened and Major looked up with a broad grin. "Cyril! You look great. I told you a week off would do you some good."
Lord Kennewick placed his briefcase down on the coffee table and smiled. "Dorothy made me relax mostly," he replied with a chuckle. "She wouldn't even let me see a newspaper."
"So you're back now and raring to go?"
Kennewick nodded and pulled out two files, one of which he passed to the Prime Minister. "Starting on the home front, I think it's safe to say we have our magical crisis past us now. We are currently in control of the Ministry of Magic.
"Normally, this would be Sir William O'Hearny's brief, so suffice to say I'm confident that things are settling down. We leaned pretty hard on the pure wizard media outlets and nothing gets published or broadcast without Sir William's say so. I think it's safe to say that any chance of an organized resistance forming at this point is slim, but my people are keeping their eyes open.
"We currently have two brigades of infantry and one armored brigade in reserve in case we have to deploy them against the wizards. My analysts are confident that they won't be needed and I think that by the end of this month we'll be able to reduce that down to one infantry brigade and perhaps a single tank company.
"The Yanks have sent over their team and we're working on trying to figure out which nations are in trouble. On that front, we have good and bad news."
Kennewick paused and Major leaned back in his chair. "All right, let's hear it."
"We are reasonably certain that all of the Commonwealth nations are firmly in control of their own governments. However, a fair number of them are running like the Yanks were, meaning their governments really have no clue what the wizards are up to.
"Canada, Australia and New Zealand have all started looking for disaffected wizards they can co-opt into service to help them. Germany and France have been building a force similar to the WDF, but they have the approval of their mundane governments. Presumably this is in response to the forces being assembled by Spain, Italy and Greece.
"Greece and Italy are currently waging a wizard war and we believe the mundane governments are under the control of the wizards. Spain has assembled a large force, but we can't really tell who's in charge there.
"Around the world, it's a mixed bag. Japan looks clear, as do China and South Korea. Russia is suspect. As to the middle east, Africa or South America, who knows? We're lucky to have figured out what little we do know. The inter-agency group has only been working for a couple weeks."
Major frowned. Some of the countries were part of the nuclear fraternity and that terrified him. From what he could see, the wizards who had grown up in their culture had no concept of modern weapons and their terrible power. He shuddered to think of what Russia might do with their nukes if wizards were pulling the strings.
"How firm are your estimates, Cyril? Can I approach Chancellor Kohl or will I endanger an ally? Or President Mitterand?"
Kennewick frowned. "Sir, these are estimates. Even if we have a high degree of confidence we could be wrong. If possible I think we should try to confirm the government status from the magical side. Maybe we can find some wizards who can find out what the state of the German Magical Ministry is first?"
Major looked intrigued and he leaned forward to jot down a reminder to talk with Sir William about it. "Very good, Have your group keep plugging away at this, Cyril. It's really important."
Kennewick nodded. "Yes, sir."
"Yes, sir, one rather strange thing, in fact," Kennewick replied.
"It seems our Russian friends launched an abbreviated spy satellite last week. This is the first launch of a Cosmos since 1994, when they discontinued them because they couldn't afford any more Soyuz launch vehicles. My analysts tell me that this particular bird was up for only a day and in a much lower orbit, which the analysts think means the Russian used an ICBM booster as a launch platform," Kennewick said unhappily. "We had relaxed our anti-satellite measures since they hadn't launched in two years. As a result, they overflew us several times, catching one American ballistic missile sub and two attack submarines in the open at Holy Loch."
Major frowned and leaned over his desk towards Kennewick. "What do the Americans say about all this?"
"They're as puzzled as we are, but have gone back to using their anti-satellite measures. Also, North American Space Command has been tasked to pay particular attention to Baikonur and Plesetsk, in case this signals a new round of spy satellites. They are puzzled by the short duration of the satellite. Normally, a Cosmos satellite has a life span of fifteen days, but perhaps they are doing this on a real tight budget."
It never occurred to either man that the overflights also included Campbeltown Weyr. The dragons wouldn't show up on the cameras, that had already been verified by the Americans, but the increased activity and construction would stand out like a sore thumb.
"It's strange," Major said softly. "I wonder what they are up to?" He sighed, then flipped to the next page in the file. "Troop cuts," he noted unhappily.
"Yes, sir. The budget this year was still short of our determined needs," admitted Kennewick.
"Very well, Cyril. Let's go over it first, then we'll see if there are any ways we can get creative," Major said heavily. Cutting the military with the world scene so confused was a bad idea at this time.
Maziang Tibet, August 10th...
They were late by a few days, but after visiting every Weyr Harry decided they needed a few days of pure rest and relaxation. Their trip had taken them around the world and they had worked very hard looking over every weyr, talking to the dragons and trying to get a feel for their needs. Rather than picking a Weyr and just spending a few extra days there, Harry had opted for a place they had overflown that had a crystal clear mountain lake, cool nights and bright sunny days in the Canadian Rockies.
Harry and the riders spent the time relaxing and enjoying themselves. The dragons didn't mind. There was a lake large enough for all of them to soak in, and there were some large herds of elk nearby that meant they didn't have to jump back to Campbeltown to feed.
Harry had sent a message to Lobsang, via Dobby, telling them they would arrive today. Now, rested from their days at the lake, they appeared overhead at Maziang. The dragons assembled below reared up on their haunches and trumpeted a welcome. Not far from where the dragons were, the entire village of Maziang was also assembled. Nearby, a bell began to toll and the villagers waved wildly.
The village was close to the original reserve on a small plateau, which also contained a small lake. From his vantage point on Chekiath, Harry could see the single road that wound steeply down the mountainside to a valley far below the village and weyr.
Harry shot a grin to Ronan and he directed Chekiath to land not far from the villagers.
"They are very happy to see us," Chekiath observed.
"I think its because we represent what they can have, Cheki," Harry replied.
Chekiath flared out and gently dropped the last foot to the ground. Harry nodded to Lobsang, who stood next to Master Jangbu. Lobsang was speaking rapidly in his language to Jangbu, who was nodding.
Harry waited until all of his riders were down, then he dropped lightly to the ground. He walked up to Lobsang, who carefully led Master Jangbu forward. The old man carefully stuck out his hand in Harry's direction and Harry reached for it.
"Welcome to Maziang Weyr, Weyrleader," Jangbu said in very broken English.
Harry broke into a wide smile and he shook the old man's hand. "We are honored to be here, Master Jangbu."
Lobsang stepped forward to translate, but Nokrenth stepped forward. The old man tilted his head and then he gave a toothy grin.
"My dragons and I will help with the language difficulty, Weyrleader. It wasn't until I went to Campbeltown that I realized people speak in many different languages," Nokrenth said.
Harry nodded. "Thank you, Nokrenth. I am sure we'll need your help, now and at the hatching."
Harry turned and offered his hand to Lobsang and the boy looked at him in awe for a moment before gratefully grasping his hand.
"Honored Weyrleader, welcome to Maziang," he said, then he gestured and the villagers all bowed, causing Harry to blush. "Tonight, honored Weyrleader, we invite you to a feast in your honor."
"We would be pleased to join you tonight, Lobsang, and perhaps tomorrow we can talk of your progress and we can make plans for the impression."
Lobsang nodded vigorously. "Yes! The whole village is anxious for that. There will be much celebrating."
Harry gestured and the riders fanned out to begin their check on the dragons. When Lobsang looked at him, perplexed, he smiled. "My riders are just checking your dragons to see if there are any problems. I realize that you are doing this on your own now, but this is part of what we'll be teaching you and your riders."
Master Jangbu listened for a moment, then he said something to Lobsang, who frowned slightly as he nodded. "We have tried hard to care for our dragons, but it hasn't been easy. The handbook of dragon care calls for potions we do not have. The Weyrhealer has been here several times to help our most sick, but we can't do much," Lobsang said.
"Is it a case of not having the ingredients for the potion or not knowing the recipe?" asked Harry.
"Sometimes it is both, honored Weyrleader," Lobsang admitted.
Harry nodded, then he looked around. "Hermione! May!" he called.
The two girls trotted over, looking at him quizzically.
"Hermione how much did it cost for us to install one of our greenhouses?"
She frowned. "I'll have to check with Lord Mills for the precise figures," she said.
"Take a guess then."
"Forty thousand pounds?"
Harry nodded and looked around, frowning slightly. The village was close enough that he could see these people were living very simply.
"What are you thinking, Harry?" asked May.
Harry waved towards the village, then he shot Lobsang an apologetic look. "Someday this will be a thriving Weyr, May," he said, turning back to her. She glanced at the village and looked doubtful. "Yes, I know what you're thinking. But it illustrates something we've overlooked. It's not enough to say 'you're a Weyr now.' No, we need to put together a package of material and supplies that a newly created Weyr can use to build up from.
He turned and took in the village again. "Lobsang says that our handbook calls for potions which they either don't have the ingredients for, or don't know how to brew. It's not unusual for two countries use different potions for the same purpose. Our pain relief potion is probably very different from the one found in Japan."
"Honored Weyrleader, I am unsure." Lobsang started to say, looking as if their poverty shamed him greatly.
Harry shook his head and he placed a hand on Lobsang's shoulder. "There is no shame to be had in being poor, my friend. I grew up without a penny to my name. Campbeltown Weyr will help you establish your new Weyr. I think a supply of seed stock, potion recipes and a greenhouse kit can be easily arranged for. You already have a herd of food animals and space to build Weyrs for your riders."
He glanced over at Hermione, who was jotting these ideas down to pass to Karen Khan, who would see that Lord Mills would learn of them.
"I suppose it would work. It could be paid back slowly out of profits from the hot rocks," May offered.
Lobsang looked between the trio, his confusion obvious.
"Things are going to change here for the better very soon, my friend. We'll talk of this and many other things tonight after the feast. For now, why don't you show us around," Harry asked.
"Of course, honored Weyrleader."
Kitchen Hall, Campbeltown Weyr, August 10th...
Sirius entered the large room and saw Katherine waving at him. He gave her a broad smile and walked over to fill his tray before joining her. Remus followed close behind and when he sat down, her nose crinkled slightly.
"I take it you two just got back?" she asked.
Sirius nodded happily at her. "It was fun. Harry picked a beautiful spot for them to relax in. Lake Minniewanker!"
Remus chuckled and shook his head at his friend's antics, then he spelled out the name of the lake. "It's Minniewanka, and it is part of Banff national park in the Canadian Rockies. Apparently, there's a Canadian Weyr near there and they overflew the lake while visiting. I don't know about Padfoot here, but I had a ton of email and other issues to deal with, so I still smell like the wood fires we had."
"It was great, Katherine. I wish you could have come!" exclaimed Sirius. "The lake was a little cold to swim in but that didn't stop us. Harry and the others used the time to relax and just be kids. And we learned that dragons, when they don't want to be seen, can even hide from the wild animals!"
Katherine blinked. "Did you see many wild animals? Especially with dragons around?"
"Why the other night a great big old grizzly bear attacked the camp," Sirius exclaimed.
Remus blinked and looked at him strangely, then he turned to Katherine. "It was a brown bear, very young and probably just kicked free from it's mother. It probably smelled the food from our meal."
Sirius grimaced and glared at Remus. "Am I telling this story or are you?" he asked.
"Well, some one has to make sure the tale doesn't get too tall," Remus countered with a smirk.
Sirius gave him another sour look then turned to Katherine. "It was huge! When it stood up it towered over everyone! Had to be at least fourteen feet tall! Sensing the danger, I changed into Padfoot..."
"And then he tucked his tail between his legs and ran, howling towards the lake," Norendrath added. "Chekiath appeared in front of the bear, who took one look at him and ran in the other direction which, unfortunately for Smelly Dog, happened to be in the same direction he went. He saw the bear coming and ran headfirst into Trandieth, knocking himself out."
Katherine stared at Sirius, who looked down at the table, his cheeks scarlet, and she joined Remus in laughter.
Remus took a deep breath and tried to calm himself. "He came to a moment later with Trandieth sniffing him and every so often giving him a lick. Trandieth was complaining that he tasted like chicken and she knew you had to eat of lot of chickens to fill you up. He changed back into Sirius and fainted."
Katherine grinned and shook her head. She looked at Sirius closely, knowing that a bear wouldn't have bothered Padfoot, so some of that had been just for the comedy of it. But she didn't doubt the part of knocking himself out hitting a dragon. When they didn't want to be seen, even Padfoot couldn't find them.
Sirius gave them a sour look. "I suppose you'll probably not believe me about the huge fish I nearly caught?"
Katherine arched and eyebrow and glanced over to Remus, who held his hands about six inches apart.
"Probably not, Siri, but I am glad you're home," she said with a gentle smile.
"Do you want to hear about my marshmallow, biscuit and chocolate invention then?" he asked hopefully.
She chuckled and shook her head, then she reached out and caressed his cheek. "No, what I want to do is give you a kiss, after you go shave and change into clothing that doesn't smell like you've been burning wood for a week."
Sirius blinked. "But I have been burning wood for a week," he protested, then he grinned and stood up. "I'll be back," he promised.
She watched him leave, then she eyed Remus, who smelled nearly as bad as he did. "Don't worry, I'm heading to the showers myself as soon as I've had my tea. It was a good time. The riders relaxed and he and Harry took some long hikes, which I know Harry enjoyed immensely. They were perfectly safe. The few times we did see anything remotely dangerous, they took one look at Chekiath and ran away."
"Did you tell Harry about the experimental treatment?" she asked.
Remus looked down. "No. I didn't want him to get his hopes up, you know?"
"I think you should, but it's your business, Remus," she replied. "I know Sirius agrees with me."
"If you don't mind me asking, why do you think I should tell him?"
Katherine played with her cup for a moment. "He cares a great deal for you, Remus. Even if the treatment isn't a cure, there is still the suppression potion, which is a major improvement for you. I think Harry knowing about it would take one piece of stress off his shoulders. He worries about you and you could relieve him of that."
Remus finished off his drink and stood. "I'll think about it, Katherine. It's not something I need to decide today."
Maziang Tibet, August 10th...
Harry leaned back in his chair. To his right sat Master Jangbu, the leader of the dragon handlers. Next to him sat another old man, Anil, the village elder. The village had really put itself out for the feast and Harry had already spoken to Dobby about replenishing their stores so that they wouldn't have to go without.
The state of the village really drove home the near poverty levels that these wizards were living at. It both bothered and impressed him they had been caring for dragons for nearly four hundred years and had refused to bow to the temptation of the wealth they could have had had they culled their herd.
He was convinced that this place would not only be a success as a weyr, but soon be a thriving community of people. They had lived in absolute squalor for their dragons and now the dragons would help Maziang become better.
Nokrenth and Chekiath were both inside the village, watching from the central road that ran through it.
Harry reached out and touched Jangbu's hand. "Master Jangbu, we have seen a great many things today that please me, but I am concerned about one thing. Do the Chinese bother you here?"
He waited for a moment while Nokrenth translated for the old man, whose expression turned to disgust. He spat on the floor and jabbered something so quickly that Harry couldn't tell where one word ended and another started.
"Master Jangbu say that when China men come it was bad time for Tibet," Lobsang told him. "Many good men tried to fight but they could not. Behind the China men were the China wizards, who wanted to steal and plunder our magical heritage. Maziang was always safe behind our wards, which were crafted by the masters of Shangri La. Jangbu and all of Maziang wept knowing they were safe here while Tibet suffered, but what could we do? We are a small village and not trained in war."
Harry knew of Shangri La. It was one of the largest wizarding communities in the world and it nearly exposed the existence of magic in World War II when they allowed an allied air base to be built within the wards. The President of the United States inadvertently admitted in a press interview that they were using their secret base at Shangri La.
"Lowly Novice softened White Eyes reply a little, Weyrleader," Nokrenth said privately. "White Eyes called the invader dung eaters who smelled bad and fornicated with water buffalo."
Harry nodded and smiled. He wasn't about to take Lobsang to task over a minor mistranslation. "So the Chinese communists don't know you're here?"
Lobsang grinned. "They think this is a place of demons and much bad magic. Even the army is afraid of Maziang plateau."
Harry chuckled. It wasn't the first time wards had been used to scare away muggles. In fact, one of the primary wards at Hogwarts made the castle appear to be a ruin to a muggle, giving them an uneasy feeling of danger that made most people leave the area.
"Weyrleader, is it true that the Weyr will get rich by selling rocks? It seems to be quite a marvel to me," Lobsang said, his brow furrowing. "Why would muggles want rocks?"
Hermione glanced over and spotted Harry's pained expression, she had heard Lobsang's comment. "I'll explain it, Harry."
Lobsang turned to Hermione, who launched into an explanation. While she spoke, Harry considered the concept of a Weyr made up entirely of wizards and wondered if they should get some normal riders who were familiar with muggle technology. He jotted down a note in his list to bring this up at the next council meeting.
"Weyrleader, do these Chinese people worry you?" asked Nokrenth privately.
Harry turned towards the open window. "They do, Nokrenth, but if they leave the Weyr alone then I am inclined not to worry overmuch about them."
"I know Campbeltown maintains a patrol. Do you think we should, as well?"
"It wouldn't hurt. You seem safe enough for now, but who knows what the future holds? Someday soon, the world will know of us and not everyone is going to be happy to know we exist. Are there some older villagers that might help maintain security for the Weyr?"
"Some of us have befriended the handlers. Once we knew it was safe to talk to them, we found them to be nice people. I am certain several would be willing to help. A great many of them were disappointed to know they were too old to impress."
Jangbu turned his white sightless eyes to Harry and spoke softly for a moment. Lobsang was occupied with Hermione and didn't hear the Master Dragon Handler speak.
"White Eyes wishes for you to know that they will protect their dragons from the dung eaters who smell bad. They are not a war like people, but they think dragons are a gift from heaven that must be protected," Nokrenth said.
Harry pat the man gently on his arm. "Please tell Master Jangbu that I couldn't agree more."
"Yes, Weyrleader," replied Nokrenth.
The old man beamed a wide smile at Harry. He might be blind but somehow he knew where Harry was.
"I like this place, Harry," said Chekiath.
He glanced out the window and chuckled. Chekiath was surrounded by small children and one of the older girls seemed to be instructing them where to scratch for the dragon's enjoyment.
Seeing that Hermione was done explaining to Lobsang, Harry leaned a little closer. "Lobsang, why are your wards made by the Ward Masters at Shangri La?"
Lobsang took a sip from his drink, then he waved a hand encompassing all of the people in the large room. It was big enough, barely, to hold roughly half of the villagers. "Shangri La is home to our cultural heart. When China men come, they steal many things, things that weren't protected, then China wizards came sneaking in behind them, taking things sacred to our people. Ward Masters saw the thefts they did elsewhere and decided to preserve what they could. Maziang was protected even before China men come to take our homes. Maziang is poor dragon reserve, but dragons are a source of pride to the people of Tibet. All Tibet wizards are proud that Maziang protects dragons so Ward Masters protect us," he said brokenly.
The wizards of Tibet looked at the dragon as a symbol of power that could not be broken. It was a strange idea for a country that had been conquered.
Harry nodded. "Lobsang, I promise you that someday the Ward Masters will be glad they protected you and your dragons," he replied, then reached for a drink. The food was strange and a bit more spicy than he was used to, but it was filling and he wasn't about to ask what it was.
Over the course of the next five days, the riders would politely pry into the lives of the dragon handlers and the village, determining more about their needs. Harry's initial list of items needed to jump start the weyr grew, but as it did, so did his enthusiasm. The group of potentials was large and already working closely with the dragons. Lobsang had translated their handbook, which the potentials were studying as though it was some holy text.
When the time came to impress, Maziang would have the best potentials with the most dragon experience.
Chekiath and the other dragons from Campbeltown were in seventh heaven. The village had nearly eighty children under the age of ten who spent a great deal of the week helping take care of the dragons. Lobsang told Harry that the children remembered their lessons that dragons were dangerous, but the rider's dragons were 'tame'.
By the end of the week, and with the help of the rider's dragons, the children were actively assisting where they could with the dragons in the reserve.
Harry had passed word to his riders asking them to look for areas that the Weyr could help them with and several people were compiling their own lists.
When the time came, Harry and the riders left just a bit humbled by a group of poor wizards who loved dragons almost as much as they did. They left behind lifelong friends and a certainty that Maziang would become a successful Weyr.
Campbeltown Weyr, August 16th...
Harry and the riders appeared in skies over the Weyr. The dragons of the Weyr charged out of their hangars, bugling a welcome to the travelers, who were very glad to be home. It was barely seven in the morning and the noise woke up the entire Weyr. People stumbled out of their homes to look at the dragons making the racket. The riders performed a single low level pass before banking back to land in front of Hangar Two.
The villagers had given them a resounding send off and the riders got quite a kick out of seeing one of the village Elders trying to give the Weyrleader his granddaughter. Harry stammered his thanks, as well as his refusal, which Lobsang translated. Lobsang actually looked rather relieved that Harry didn't want the girl.
It had been mid afternoon when they left Maziang, and no one had realized they would be arriving so early back in Scotland.
Harry slid down Chekiath, who quickly headed off towards their quarters.
Harry looked at Sirius, who was wearing a robe and fuzzy bunny slippers. Remus, at least, looked more dignified in his robe and slippers. Harry shook his head at Sirius, then smirked when he spotted Katherine exiting Sirius' quarters, looking rather rumpled.
"Good morning," Harry said brightly.
Remus chuckled and shook his head. "Good morning," he replied, then he turned and headed back into his bungalow to change.
Sirius muttered something about ungrateful kids with badass dragons and walked away, intercepting Katherine and dragging her back to his quarters.
Harry looked over his shoulder at the riders and grinned. "We forgot the time difference."
Emma shook her head. "I completely forgot about it," she admitted.
"Don't look at me," Dan said, "I stopped resetting my watch after the sixth time zone change in six days."
Harry chuckled, "Well, might as well get started with the day here. We'll talk about Maziang and their needs in a few days," he told the others.
The riders dispersed to their quarters. More than a few of the girls went looking for a nice relaxing bath, which was a luxury not included in their tents. The tents were quite comfortable, but were only equipped with showers.
Several hours later, Remus found Harry in this office, pouring over some documents that Sir Robert had sent to him, explaining how the power plant would work. He also detailed the effort to design a modular container to house the hot rocks. The idea was that the container could be removed from a power station and returned to the Weyr to be recharged by dragons, then it could be snapped back into place when needed.
"Hi, Harry," Remus said, entering his office.
Harry looked up and grinned. "You look good. I told you the camping would help."
Remus chuckled and sat down in a chair across from him. "Have you given any though to the idea of helping the Ministry with the dementor problem?"
Harry nodded. "I did. Hang on a sec," he muttered, then he rooted around on his deck until he found his book. He flipped it open and started looking. "I know I wrote it down.. ah.. there!"
He frowned for a second. "There are one hundred dementors in the prison now right?"
"Give or take a few, yes," Remus replied.
"And one hundred were destroyed at Balmoral Castle," Harry added. "Does that include the ones that were hunting for Sirius?"
Remus blinked and looked at Harry in shock. "I don't know," he admitted. "It better include them or we have a bunch of dementors floating around in Britain." He stood suddenly. "I better speak to Sirius about this. Even with the warrant being voided, there's a chance he's still at risk."
"I'll send a message to Dumbledore, asking for clarification," Harry offered.
Remus nodded and walked from the room, while Harry scribbled a note and called for Dobby.
Ministry of Magic, August 16th...
"Most of the shops have reopened in Diagon Alley and we're..." Albus paused mid-sentence and he looked surprised to see Dobby. "Dobby, do you need something?"
"Harry Potter sir asked me to give you this," said Dobby, holding up a note.
Albus took the note and offered Sir William an apologetic look, then he opened it. As he read it, his eyebrows rose nearly to his hairline. "Oh, my. Alejandro? Did the Ministry ever recall the dementors that were out looking for Sirius Black?"
Alejandro looked up from his Book of Answers in shock. "Now that I think on it, no, I don't think so."
Sir William frowned. "How many dementors are there?"
Croaker looked down at his book and flipped some pages. "The last census of dementors was in 1975. At that time there were two hundred and seventy five dementors in Britain, all concentrated at Azkaban."
"So, Azkaban should have one hundred and seventy five dementors right?" asked Sir William.
"No," replied Albus, looking very embarrassed. "Roughly seventy five dementors were released from Azkaban with orders to find Sirius Black and administer the kiss."
"So, your telling me there are seventy five of these monsters roaming around the country that only wizards and dragons can see?" demanded Sir William. He massaged his temples and wished that he could speed up time. Only five more years and he could retire to a nice, quiet life and raise beagles with his wife as he'd always wanted to do.
"I'm afraid so. At the time, Fudge was concerned that he wasn't appearing to be doing enough to catch Black. He authorized a kiss on sight order and had them set seventy or so of the creatures loose," Croaker said.
Sir William sagged back in his chair. "Wonderful. I'm going to have to tell Her Majesty about this, you know."
Croaker and Dumbledore exchanged a look. "Perhaps we can see if the prison staff can recall them, but they've been out for a long time. The compulsion must be really weak by now," Albus said.
Sir William looked to Croaker, who shrugged.
"There's a compulsion laid on the prison which allows the guards to control the demons," he explained. "Normally, a dementor might be removed from the island for a few days, but the compulsion is strong enough to last. These dementors have been free for nearly two years now. I'm not sure they will respond to any commands. Rounding them up takes at least a dozen wizards who can cast a patronus charm, plus someone to cast a compulsion on the creature. I don't want to think about how many wizards we'd need to subdue a group of them."
"What about the dragons?" asked Albus.
Croaker glanced over to him. "Aye, the dragons could do it, but could they find them?"
Albus sighed for a moment, then he waved his wand causing the door to close. "What I am about to tell you cannot leave this room. Sir William, you may tell the Queen and the Prime Minister, but please stress the sensitive nature of this information."
Croaker arched an eyebrow and Sir William nodded uncertainly.
"When Harry Potter impressed Chekiath and left school, I was concerned. Voldemort was not fully dead, thanks to some necromantic rituals he had performed. And there was a prophecy sphere in your Hall of Prophecies which stated that Harry could destroy Voldemort using a power he was unfamiliar with."
Both men nodded and Albus continued his tale.
"I wasn't too upset about Harry leaving school. If fate planned on Harry facing Voldemort, then no power on earth could prevent the pair from meeting. During Harry's impression, a parasitic leech was forced from Harry and destroyed by Momnarth. The dragons now had a taste of Voldemort's signature and they conducted a nationwide search for any remnants of Voldemort that they could find. Their search was fruitful and it ended up with Peter Pettigrew being dumped off in America, as well as Voldemort being disposed of.
"Now, the reason I share this is because the dragons can see dementors and they have already successfully carried out one nationwide search," Albus concluded.
Sir William looked interested, but Croaker wanted more information. "How did they dispose of him, Albus?"
Albus smiled softly. "My friend, let's just say it's done and the last time I looked the sphere in question had turned black."
Croaker leaned back in his chair and nodded a bit unhappily. He wanted to know more but he also knew it would be a waste of time trying to find out from Albus if he didn't want to tell him.
Albus scribbled off a note and he passed off to Dobby, who had waited. "Please take this to Harry, and don't repeat any of this to anyone, Dobby."
"Master Albus, Dobby would never tell Harry Potter sir's secrets," Dobby exclaimed a bit offended, then he vanished.
"I better contact the PM. He'll want to discuss this, I'm sure," Sir William said, reaching for his phone.
Campbeltown Weyr, August 16th...
Harry put down the note and sighed. "Thank you, Dobby, that will be all for now." he said absently.
Dobby nodded and popped away.
"Spath, my friend, when we were looking for Voldemort, did we ever overfly any dementors?" He sent.
"I am asking around, but I think we did, Weyrleader. We didn't know what they were at the time and we weren't looking for them, so no one thought to bring it up at the time. Is it important now?" replied Spath.
"I'm afraid it is. Gather the leaders of the unmanned wings and bring them to Hangar Two so they can listen in. I'll call in the riders and the others."
Harry stood and broadcast a message to the dragons telling them to inform their riders of an important meeting in Hangar Two right away, then he went to find Remus and the others.
Twenty minutes later, Harry walked up to the podium on the stage and looked out at the assembled people. He smiled and shook his head. "You know, this time next year and we're going to need a new place for an all hands meeting."
Everyone chuckled and smiled at the idea. By this time next year, they would have had two more impressions and would be gearing up for another one.
"Remus, following this meeting, I need you to go to the apothecary in Diagon Alley and get us enough potions to put everyone back on English time by tomorrow. That means something to keep us awake a little longer, then a sleeping draught for tonight."
Hermione raised her hand and Harry nodded. "Yes, Hermione I know. We need to start stocking some potions, maybe making them ourselves. If you want put together a list of potions, speak with some of our other wizards for ideas and we will deal with it."
He took a deep breath. "Now for the real reason for this meeting. Her Majesty is unhappy that the wizards used the dementors in her prison. She wanted those dementors destroyed and the only way we know of to destroy a dementor is with dragon fire or taking it between.
"Honestly, I didn't want to risk our dragons, so I asked if it would be possible to seal them into the prison. Locking them up to starve would be just as good, I thought, but then I asked another question. I asked about the dementors that had been set loose to hunt down Sirius Black."
Harry looked towards Sirius, who a lot of the riders were looking at now. It was obvious from Harry's expression that he was unhappy with the situation. "Sirius, I'm sorry, but if you want to go anywhere outside of the Weyr, I insist you bring Norendrath with you. There are seventy five unaccounted for dementors out there, still looking for you and they will give you the kiss if they find you."
Sirius was about to say something, but the pleading look in Harry's eyes stopped him. Katherine said something in a whisper and he unhappily nodded. "All right, Harry," he said.
Harry nodded, then his expression changed again. "Sirius, starting tomorrow, I want you to put together a plan to sweep this country from one end to the other. Work with Luna, since she'll be starting her search soon, as well. Use every non-bonded dragon if you have to. I don't want any dragon to go up against a dementor alone, so find them, call in for help and wait for it to arrive. Once it does, flame them if there are no people around, or take them Between.
"I am absolutely certain our British friends will ask for our help in this and I'm willing to help destroy these things before another dragon or person dies. When they ask, we'll put our plan into effect."
He paused and looked around. "Any questions?"
May stood, "Harry, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of creatures I can't see."
Harry smiled gently at her. "May," he said, then he paused and his smiled broadened. "All right, I think it's time we really discuss our bonds. May, come on up here please."
She joined him a few moments later, looking a bit nervous.
Harry conjured a chair and gestured for her to sit. "Close your eyes," he told her once she was seated.
She closed her eyes and waited.
"Trath, I want you to fly over the Weyr. While you do, send your rider the images you're seeing," Harry called.
He grinned at the surprised look on the riders and completely missed May's surprised gasp. A minute later, he sent a silent thanks to Trath and told her to land if she wanted.
May opened her eyes and looked at Harry with a stunned expression.
"It wasn't long after I impressed Cheki that I realized if a dragon could share the images for a jump Between, why not send what they were seeing?" Harry asked. "In a case of looking for a magical creature that only a wizard or a dragon can see, the normal riders can see through their dragon's eyes."
Several of the riders looked stunned and Harry frowned at them. It seemed like many were reluctant to explore their bonds completely and he wasn't sure what to do about it.
"Some of our riders are fearful, Harry. They think they can get lost in the bond," Chekiath announced.
"I know, mate, but only time will ease their fears," Harry replied silently.
"I want you all to practice seeing what your dragon sees. It might save your life. In the meantime, you can tell when you're in the presence of a dementor by two key clues. One, it will get cold. Things will frost over, although it won't be as cold as Between. The second clue is that you'll suddenly find yourself being bombarded by unhappy thoughts or memories. If this happens and you're not on your dragon, run. Don't stick around, don't try to think your way through it, don't try to be brave. Run as hard and as fast as you can because your life and your dragons life depend upon it."
He turned back to May, who was still sitting in the chair. "Are you all right?"
She nodded. "Yes. I just wasn't expecting that sort of thing. It was very disorientating."
Harry nodded. "It won't be as bad when you're on Trath's back and seeing what she sees. Sitting here, motionless, while she flies around is what caused your disorientation."
She stood and walked back to her place among the riders.
Harry nodded to Remus, who stood and slipped from the room. "While we're here, are there any issues which need to be addressed?"
"I have some news I'd like to share," Sir Robert said.
Harry nodded and motioned for Sir Robert to come up on the stage. Harry went and sat in the chair he had conjured for May.
"As most of you can see, we broke ground for the test station. The buildings will be up and new fencing installed around that area probably before the end of this year. The power station, on the other hand, will still take many months to complete. I would ask that you refrain from overflying the area to sight see. I promise that when the time comes and the buildings and station are running, we'll be happy to give tours. Right now we don't want to risk a security breach if a dragon is spotted," Sir Robert said.
"I have heard from Doctor Standish, who returned to America last week. Weyrleader, the Americans are planning on using the base where you met them as the new Weyr. They will be trucking in mobile housing for the people of the Weyr and erecting structures to replace the old hangars. They ask that we provide them help in setting up dragon enclosures.
"Doctor Standish will be returning to Campbeltown sometime in late September. For now, Doctor O'Connor has been attached to our research team. Once the Americans are up and running with their Weyr, I'll send someone from my team there to help coordinate and pass information between the two groups. I expect Doctor O'Connor will remain as our American scientific liaison."
"Finally, we have contracted a company to assemble a giant video display and keyboard that can be used by the dragons. It's not a perfect solution, but it will give the dragons a way of communicating with people. If the system works out, I think I'd like to see about a smaller version that the dragons can have installed in their enclosures."
"Sir Robert? I don't mean to interrupt, but why would you install a video display and keyboard in a dragon stall?" asked Hermione.
Sir Robert grinned. "My dear, you love to read and I'm sure it's your favorite thing after your dragon. If we can determine how well the dragons can see, and that is part of the plan when we start testing the dragons, we could offer them electronic versions of books. The system I am envisioning would be fairly simple, but it would give the dragons an option. Right now, the dragons can read what you read. But what if they want to read something you don't like?"
Hermione paled slightly and looked aghast. "I never... It never occurred to me that Coma would like to pick out a book to read."
"It's all right, Hermione," Comaloth announced to the room. "Most of what you read is enjoyable. But I do like the idea of being able to choose."
From the looks of the riders it was obvious that most of them had heard similar comments from their own dragons.
Sir Robert moved away from the podium and Harry stood. "Sir Robert, how soon before the Americans need our help?"
"Not until early October, I should think, Harry. There's a lot of basic work to be done. The Yanks are reactivating the field and putting it under military control, as far as the public knows," Sir Robert replied.
Harry nodded and made a note in his book, then he looked to the others. "I don't intend to make this a regular meeting. I know we're all rather tired. Do try to stay awake until Remus comes back. I think we're all going to need to be back on English time by tomorrow. That's it. Oh, wait. Luna, I want to see a list of names from you of who you plan to draft into your search team. We need to start searching very soon, possibly this week."
Luna looked up and smiled dreamily at him. "Since we may have to sweep the country looking for dementors, maybe we can have the dragons note any place with people who might be candidates?"
Harry smiled. "Good idea. Thank you, everyone," he said, dismissing the group.
Ministry of Magic, Office of Revision, August 17th...
Arthur Weasley walked into his office and smiled to himself. He carefully placed his wand in a metal container attached to the wall, then he locked it and pocketed the key. This was a requirement in any room that contained certain types of muggle office machines, such as computers, telephones and fax machines. Arthur had less of a problem with the rule than others. He had attended his classes on using the phone and the computer and thoroughly enjoyed them.
Some offices, like the Deputy Minister's office, contained more expensive, shielded machines that allowed Albus Dumbledore and Alejandro Croaker to keep their wands and even perform some magic in the room.
Arthur sat at his desk and with a smile that he couldn't suppress, he flipped the switch that turned on his computer. This was a new office and a new department inside the Ministry. It was also a temporary department that they hoped wouldn't be needed someday. The Office of Revision was set up to examine Ministry rules and directives with the intent to bring them in line with the rest of the government. A second group in his new department was working on the legal code and Arthur did work with them as well, but they were mostly an all muggle group.
When his computer announced that he had mail, he laughed softly to himself and reached for his mouse. He didn't understand why it was called a mouse, but at least it was easier to pronounce than computer. Arthur looked at the email for a moment, then he pulled a pad and a pen from this desk and started making notes. Her Majesty had approved a number of proposed changes to existing laws.
The door to the office opened and he smiled, seeing Percy walk in. Percy had been released from custody after he had been interrogated. It had been determined that he was an ass kisser, but he hadn't broken any laws. Originally, his position had been closed and he had been terminated, but Arthur managed to get him a position in his office, working under him.
"Good morning, Percy," he said.
Percy turned and placed his wand in a box. He didn't like giving up his wand like this, but his father reminded him that it was either this or trying to find a job in an economy that was barely holding off a collapse.
"Good morning, father," Percy replied stiffly. Despite his father's best attempts, Percy still managed to retain his officious manner.
"I have a list here of revisions that have been approved. It's looking like the office of Magical Animal Control will need to be completely revamped," Arthur said. "The Queen feels that the intelligent beings need to be treated better."
Percy frowned. "It's a shame we couldn't get Charlie into that office. He'd be perfect for the job."
Arthur frowned. "You know that even after the government announced that dragons were as intelligent as you and I, Charlie still felt he had done nothing wrong. No, he's better off now that he got that job at the Griffon ranch in South America."
Percy shook his head in dismay. He could clearly hear the disappointment in his father's voice over his brother, "But father, don't you see the damage that's been done? Every potion master in the country is scrambling. They've found replacements for only three percent of the potions that used dragon ingredients. Three percent! It's ruining the economy!"
Arthur sighed. "Percy, sit down and for once in your life really listen to me instead of pretending to listen."
Percy blinked in shock and sat down staring at his father in surprise.
"Over eight hundred wizards were killed by muggles and the goblins. The dragons led the effort to save Her Majesty and in the process, they killed one hundred dementors. Killed. For good or ill, our world had to change. We were trying to hide from an increasingly powerful muggle community. And while we hid, we routinely committed crimes against them. Do you know how many wizards were charged under the muggle protection act that I helped get passed four years ago?"
"I don't see how this is relevant!"
"None, that's how many. And yet my department arrested dozens, including wizards that killed muggles with their little enchantments. They committed murder and got away with only a fine."
Arthur sighed. "Look, son, I know that I've given you all a bad impression of me over the years. I have tried to raise you boys to do the right thing. And I know your mother, as well meaning as she might be, seems to run roughshod over everything at home, including me. But if you'd only stop and think about it, you'd realize that I let her do that. As head of the house, I could have told her to behave, but it made her happy and when it came to important matters, she knew she couldn't make a decision without my agreement. Muggles and Wizards are people, we're all the same. I've known that for years and your Mum knew it as well. One of her best friends was a muggle born who lost her parents to Voldemort. I held her as she cried for them like she did for her own brothers.
"The one thing we've tried very hard to do was to instill a sense of decency in each of you. People are people and the Queen wants us to accept the fact that goblins, house elves, centaurs, and even dragons are people too. I can see her point of view. I can also see what she and Minister O'Hearny have been saying. Don't look at our problems as disasters, look at them as challenges to be overcome.
"That's what this office is all about, overcoming the old ways that don't work and fixing them. The question you need to ask yourself is a simple one. Do you have the intelligence, ingenuity and drive to help us create a better wizarding world or not?"
Percy stared at his father, having rarely heard him speak so forcefully before. "I don't know," he muttered. "We were taught in school that wizards were the best."
Arthur scowled. "Maybe you were taught that, but no one taught you that we had the right to destroy the lives of muggles. Being better doesn't mean grinding them under your heel like they're some kind of insect. And you know for a fact that you weren't taught that at home. Think about it, son, because I need people who are going to believe in what they are doing."
Percy stared at his father in shock. He had spent ten days in a muggle jail cell and he had plenty of time there to build up resentment for them. "What are you saying?"
"I'm saying that if you can't do the work, then tell me now. You know the challenges we face, but if you can't be part of the answer, I'll see if there's another department that is willing to take you on."
Percy winced. "I'll do the work, father," he said sheepishly. He knew that most of the restarted departments were extremely picky about who they were going to employ, and with his record, he'd be lucky to end up in building maintenance.
"Good, because I do need your help with this, Percy," Arthur admitted. He watched his son for a few minutes, then he turned back to the papers on his desk. He was sure that he'd finally made a dent in Percy's resentment.
He looked up to see Albus standing in the doorway. "Albus?" he said with a broad smile.
"I'm afraid you're going to have to drop what you're doing. We have a meeting in twenty minutes at the Prime Minister's office and since you are the only one who had department manager experience in law enforcement, they might want your expertise."
Arthur stood and looked down at his robes. "Ah... I better return home to change into something appropriate then."
Albus nodded. "Just be back here in less than twenty minutes."
Arthur nodded, then he quickly made for the door, squeezing past Albus.
Dumbledore waited until Arthur was gone then he looked at Percy. "Your father is an extraordinary man, Mister Weasley. I think he is one of the few that realize the true scope of the difficulties we face. You'd do very well by learning what you can from him."
Percy nodded. "Yes, sir," he said.
Most people revered Dumbledore, so hearing that from the man made him pause and wonder what Dumbledore was seeing. He had been a true believer in the Ministry of Magic, but they had lost the war. It was time for him to pick a new side to believe in.
Albus nodded cordially and walked away.
#10 Downing Street, London, August 17th...
It was a much bemused and confused Arthur who was ushered into the Prime Minister's office along with Deputy Minister O'Hearny and Albus Dumbledore. The first thing he saw had him stopping in his tracks.
"Harry!" he exclaimed.
Harry glanced at Arthur and smiled weakly, then turned back to Prime Minister Major. "So, that's it then? Ten to fifteen years for both of them?"
Major nodded. "It was made plain to them that we had enough evidence to convict them on much more serious charges. Given that, and their lawyer advising them they could easily spend twenty five years in prison, they pled guilty. Once that happened, the wheels started turning much quicker. The key thing, Weyrleader, is now you won't have to testify at all.
"Your cousin has been turned over to the Crown after an inspection of your Aunt's home showed it was unfit for humans to live in. The health inspector said that her kennel business had moved into her house, rather than the small building next door which was largely unused."
Harry nodded, ran a hand through his hair and sighed. A wave of relief washed through him, along with it a sense of vindication. He had spent his life living with those people and they had marked him more deeply than Voldemort could have. Now he was truly free of them.
The Prime Minister decided not to burden Harry with the news that his cousin had failed a psyche evaluation and was being sent to a high security home where he would receive help.
"See, Harry? I told you everything would turn out all right. Now you'll never have to worry about them again," Chekiath announced.
Harry smiled and looked up towards the ceiling. "I know, mate, but old habits are hard to break."
Arthur looked around in confusion. "Who was that? I clearly heard a voice!" he asked.
Harry shot him an amused look. "That was Chekiath, my dragon," he replied quietly.
Major gestured to the chairs and everyone sat down. "You gentlemen called this meeting and asked that the Weyrleader be present. I'll let you begin."
O'Hearny nodded and opened up a file folder. "We were exploring the issue of dementors and what to do with them when it was mentioned that the Weyr might be able to provide some help in the matter. In the attack at Balmoral castle, one hundred dementors were killed for the loss of one dragon and another four injured. I have been told that the wizards do not know how to kill dementors and to try would probably result in a far greater loss of life."
When Harry's expression turned thunderous, James Mills placed a hand on him arm and leaned forward. "Sir William, what you say is true, but you are speaking as if we could order the dragons to kill them. The Weyr is not part of our government, nor is it part of our military."
O'Hearny looked at Lord Mills and frowned. "I just assumed."
"You just assumed we'd do your bidding," Harry said flatly.
"Gentlemen, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Why don't we first figure out what the problem is, then we'll figure out ways of dealing with it," Major said soothingly.
Harry nodded reluctantly and he leaned back in his chair.
Major glanced over at O'Hearny, who looked embarrassed, then he flipped a few pages in his file. "When you're ready, Sir William."
"There were two hundred and seventy five dementors at the last census performed in 1975," Sir William began. "Nearly two years ago, seventy five were removed from the prison on the order of Cornelius Fudge and given the command to find and administer the kiss to Sirius Black.
"The dementors were sent to scour the grounds around Hogwarts in the belief that Black was actively seeking to kill Harry Potter. Something occurred at Hogwarts at the end of the previous school year which resulted in all seventy five scattering. Minister Fudge refused to recall the dementors, since they were a visible sign of the Ministry's manhunt for the escaped Black.
"There are reports of dementors being spotted in Diagon Ally, Hogsmeade, Witch Lane in Aberdeen, and even in the White Haven community. Complaints have arisen of them clustering around schools and other places where children congregate."
Sir William paused and took a breath. "Once we realized that there were still so many dementors outstanding, we ordered the Warden of Azkaban to issue a general recall. Unfortunately, the recall was only partially effective."
"Sixty two of the seventy five dementors returned to the prison," Albus said quietly and Arthur glanced sharply over at him, he had not heard about this before.
"That leaves us with thirteen of these creatures unaccounted for," Major said grimly. "What are we doing about it?"
"Alejandro Croaker is at Azkaban today, trying to see if they can put more power into the recall spell, but he's not optimistic about its success. In the meantime, we still lack the manpower needed to begin a search for these things. Our DMLE is up and running, but at a level barely capable of maintaining law and order in the populated areas. We have thirty five former aurors, and another one hundred wizards from our attached force. Add to that their muggle partners and we have less than three hundred law enforcement agents to cover all of magical Britain."
Arthur shook his head in dismay. The numbers were far too low.
"You have something to add, Mister Weasley?" asked O'Hearny.
"Sir, before Cornelius took office and restructured the Ministry, I used to work with the Azkaban guard force and the Aurors as a trainer. I'm not a fighter, but I can cast the Patronus spell which is used to control dementors and I've been told I'm good at teaching it. The Patronus is used primarily to either scare the beast away or, if you have enough wizards, subdue the creature long enough for someone to cast the compulsion on it. I don't know anyone foolish enough to try to subdue multiple dementors. In a case of two, we'd try to split them up so they could be dealt with individually.
"After Cornelius got into office, he immediately started making changes. My training of aurors and prison guards was deemed unnecessary and dropped entirely. I do not know if any of the current aurors or guards are capable of casting a corporeal Patronus anymore."
"To sum up then," said Major, "we have thirteen lethally dangerous creatures floating around the countryside. If they find Sirius Black, they will kill him on sight. We don't know that they won't give a kiss to others."
"Oh, they will," added Arthur grimly. "They need to be very hungry but the need to feed has overridden the compulsion in the past.
"Normally they are content to feed off of the emotions they can pick up from people, but there have been a few occasions where they have rushed in to stop someone from getting away from them and administered a kiss. It's almost like the urge to kiss is triggered by the potential for a chase and perhaps the dementor's prey managing to escape."
Major gave Arthur a sour look. "So how do we find them? Suggestions?"
"Look for their victims? Unexplained comas would be one way," suggested Lord Mills.
Harry sighed and shook his head. "The Weyr is about to begin its search for candidate riders. It had been originally planned that eight riders would lead teams of ten dragons each to search for candidates, but the news of dementors going feral changed those plans."
Harry turned to the Prime Minister. "Sir, with your permission, the Weyr would like to conduct a search within your territory to find these creatures and destroy them. The dragon's keen eyesight and their ability to see magic will allow us to locate them from a safe distance. Our response will depend on the number of dementors found at the time and where they are."
He paused and looked pointedly at O'Hearny for a moment, before turning back at Major. "The Weyr shares this land with your nation and therefore we have a responsibility to make sure it's safe for dragons and for humans. Dementors have already killed one dragon and I don't intend to let them kill another. But we are volunteering for this. Had someone tried to order us, I probably would have refused."
Major looked relieved by Harry offer. He had no intention of trying to order Harry to do anything, and he intended to speak with O'Hearny over his assumption.
"Her Majesty's government is grateful for your help, Weyrleader. I will see that the necessary paperwork is drawn up authorizing the Weyr to use lethal force to destroy these creatures. Would you allow us to coordinate the effort so we know what areas have been searched?" Major asked.
"Send someone to work under Captain Atkins. We'll be happy to detail what areas we've searched and what actions we've had to take. I just want to be sure everyone is clear, the safety of my dragons and riders is my main concern. If we stumble upon all dementors clustered, I'll probably call up help to overwhelm them rather than risk another death."
"In other words, given a choice between security and safety, safety is going to win," Major murmured.
Harry nodded firmly.
"Can you blame him, John?" asked Lord Mills.
Major blinked and smiled slightly, "Blame? Heavens no. I just want these things found and destroyed. Hopefully they will have broken into smaller groups."
Major turned back to Harry. "Weyrleader, we are not without resources of our own. I have been informed that bullets would have little effect on these things, but we have other weapons such as flame throwers, napalm and the like. Should you find these things clustered, contact me and we'll try to help."
Harry nodded to the man who he was coming to respect a great deal. "Thank you, Prime Minister. If you'll excuse me, I'll return to the Weyr and get organized there."
"One last thing before you go, Weyrleader," Major said quickly. "Lord Mills has my office email address. I would appreciate if you would take the time to outline some of the things you learned about Maziang. I'm personally concerned about its location. They are in a conquered nation and the Chinese are not noted for treating people kindly. I realize that it's your decision to open that Weyr, but there are security issues that need to be addressed."
Harry smiled. "I have a lot of notes about that particular Weyr, but I'll lay one fear to rest right now. The Chinese are afraid of the Maziang plateau and don't go anywhere near it. Albus can describe the warding scheme in more detail for you, but I can tell you now that the wards on the place are created by masters. Chinese wizards know they cannot enter, and the normal Chinese are convinced the place is haunted by evil spirits. I'll write it all up tomorrow and send it to you."
With a nod to the others, Harry walked from the room, leaving Arthur Weasley astonished by what had just transpired.
Albus chuckled at his reaction. "Do not worry, Arthur. I will endeavor to explain later. But suffice to say that the Harry Potter you knew has come quite a long way in less than a year."
Harry's Office, Campbeltown Weyr, August 20th...
Harry looked up at the new map on the wall that Katherine had supplied. Thanks to Sirius and Remus, the map automatically updated to one in Captain Pearson's office. Captain Pearson's arrival at the Weyr two days ago signaled several important changes, not the least of which was Katherine Atkins receiving a surprise promotion to Major.
At first Harry had been pleased by her promotion, which had puzzled the woman. Barely a day had gone by when she confronted him about it.
"What did you do?" she asked. She was sitting in the Kitchen Hall next to Sirius, who was eying the pair with intense amusement.
"Do?" asked Harry mildly. "As far as I know, nothing."
She frowned. "Word out of the Prime Minister's office is you told the PM that you'd accept someone from the Army to help monitor the search as long as they answered to me."
Harry nodded. "Yes, that's basically what I said. Why?"
Katherine sighed. "Harry, I'm not due for a promotion for another two years, at least. Someone in the PM's office took your comment to imply I should be promoted, since the man they wanted to send was the same rank as I was. I just received notice of my promotion to Major."
"This is a good thing, isn't it?" asked Harry, rather confused. "I didn't mean it that way. I just wanted whoever they sent to be working with you most of the time."
Katherine sighed in exasperation. "I'm grateful, really, but I prefer to earn my promotions."
Harry shook his head. "No, I think you're wrong, Katherine. Sure, I might have said something that someone misinterpreted, but I can't see Prime Minister Major ordering the Minister of Defense to promote a captain. My comment might have gotten people thinking in that direction, but someone in your own department had to agree with it."
Sirius took a sip from his tea. "He has a point," he said smugly. "I think you deserved it. Besides, if I had my way you'd be an Admiral."
Katherine looked blankly at Harry for a moment, surprised by his comment, then she turned to look at Sirius as if he were nuts.
"Sirius, that's the navy," she informed him.
Sirius chuckled, "I know, but they have nicer uniforms. More shiny buttons and stuff."
When her eyes narrowed, he blanched. "Not that you don't look great in uniform with your stuff," he exclaimed. His eyes narrowed suddenly as he realized how wrong that sounded. It didn't help that Harry was chuckling at him.
Katherine leaned across the table towards Sirius and shook a finger under his nose. "Not. One. Word," she hissed.
"Sirius?" Harry said, "I think this is one of those times that you told me about that you're supposed to say you're sorry and shut up afterward."
Harry chuckled at the memory, then looked at the map again. Luna was leading the search for candidates and dementors.
When Captain Pearson had arrived at the Weyr, Harry had invited him into a meeting with the Wing Leaders and Seconds, plus Luna. That had been a mistake.
The man reminded Harry of a television show he had seen once. It was a comedy about a overly meticulous accountant who was constantly bumbling things outside of work.
Pearson had opened his briefcase and passed around several large maps that sectioned Britain into nice, neat pieces like a jigsaw puzzle. Then he launched into a lecture about differing search methodologies - grid searching, spiral, strip and zone - and how each method had their drawbacks.
After more than a hour of listening to the man, Luna smiled calmly and told him that he had obviously never had to search for Snorkacks before and that she intended to use an Inverse Nargle Search while incorporating the Wrackspurt Indexing Method. The riders, knowing Luna, marveled at her ability to say that with a straight face and not break out into a fit of giggles.
The man stared at her for a moment and she smiled prettily at him, then she leaned forward in her chair and patted him on the arm. "Just watch and see," she said brightly, then she walked from the room, leaving the riders struggling to hold back their laughter.
Katherine came to the rescue of her new assistant and eventually the meeting got back on track with Sirius and Remus charming a bunch of duplicates of the map. Since then, Luna's method seemed to hopscotch all over the country, but was producing some results. So far, she'd put together two lists of names, nearly four hundred in all, of normal children who could be presented as candidates and she had covered nearly a quarter of Britain. The lists were split by age, with two hundred and sixty under Harry's age limit. The remaining one hundred and forty were at the appropriate age.
Her lists were turned over to Sirius, who would coordinate with Spath to set some dragons watching each candidate. The dragons would watch the person in question for several days before deciding to pass the name to another list. That list would go to Lord Mills, who would turn it over to the office of the Prime Minister so each family could be investigated.
Luna's teams had also located three dementors and dealt with them directly without having to call out the weyr. Harry had given her and Trandieth strict orders not to attack any dementor unless the creature was alone. Each search team was made up of ten non-bonded dragons and one bonded pair.
The first dementor located was found traversing an open field. With no one present, Lee Jordan swooped down at the head of his group of dragons and flamed it to ash. He then spent another twenty minutes trying to find a public phone to call the Weyr. In his excitement, he had forgotten that he could have had his dragon speak to Chekiath directly. When asked, Sorenth had sheepishly admitted that he'd been too caught up in his rider's excitement.
The next day he was presented with a wooden box with a glass panel. Inside the box was an old mobile phone and the instructions on the glass read "In case of emergency, ask your dragon."
Lee took the ribbing in stride and decided to buy himself a working mobile phone. Very quickly all of the muggle riders took it upon themselves to buy phones. Having a dragon talk to another dragon was fine, but having a phone you could call home with and not tie up the Weyr phones was an attractive prospect.
Harry chuckled at the memory and then he leaned forward to reach for a piece of paper he needed to read.
He blinked in surprise. "Trandieth?"
"Weyrleader, Luna says to tell you we have a problem."
He sighed and braced himself. "Explain please."
After five minutes of listening to Trandieth, he shivered in fear, then he called Chekiath. "Cheki, call in all the dragons and inform the riders they are to draw a full weapons load out. We've found a pocket of dementors."
"Right away, Harry," Chekiath replied.
"Trandieth, I know your team wants to deal with this, but the situation is too dangerous. Tell Luna I said to hold your position for now."
Harry stood and quickly walked over to a large wall switch and threw it. Turning, he ran out the door, heading straight to James' office.
An alarm horn sounded across the Weyr and those riders present scrambled for their gear before running to their waiting dragons.
Authors Notes and Mockeries:
- Several have asked about Hogwarts and the folks back there. Well to be honest we won't see much of Hogwarts or the people left behind. We will see them, but not often. The story of the reconstruction of the Magical society is only a minor subplot at this point.
- One reader suggested muggle chemists try to determine what the active chemicals were in the dragon ingredients. Like Harry's going to allow them to cut up a dragon to get those parts? Not happening. Besides, wizarding society is STILL a secret. The Weyr might be preparing to go public, but they have no right to reveal magic to the world.
- To answer one question about selling of dragon dung. In the course of this story you will learn about three principle products that can be cultivated safely from dragons. Scales, dung and teeth, all of which have commercial value and will be sold in countries whose government are willing to agree dragons should be protected.
- To those people who pointed out some flaws in American geography, I'll answer with blame Harry for not knowing the lay of the land. He's British who barely knows his own country, let alone the US.
- I've had a lot of complaints about the longer update schedule. SCREW U! Heh... no really. Its like this, the first tale in this series was 18 chapters long and I barely managed to keep up with the weekly update. I am many chapters ahead, but with a weekly update staying completely ahead is difficult. I like having a three to four chapter ahead cushion. By extending the update schedule to 2 weeks instead of one, I'm better able to maintain that cushion. Also, I'll remind you all, you aren't paying me for this, so realistically you have no right to complain. :)
- Yes a gorilla, what can I say, someone wanted Hermione to play with Harry's banana.
- Wagstaff, the big bad was dead in the first few chapters of QWF. These stories are going to center around much bigger pictures than a simple little dark lord. In QWF Harry secured Britain and made it safer for the dragons. In WOD he'll have to start doing that elsewhere and deal with a worsening world wizarding problem and a slowly destabilizing international scene.
- There have been a lot of people that want to push to use more magic in the Weyr. We've even had one wahoo who suggested some bizarre tattooing protean charm thingie that turned dragon paws into hands so they could manipulate stuff. Ummm no. I've tried stating this nicely so now I'll be blunt. I am working on chapter thirteen and you're reading chapter two. That marvelous suggestion for Harry to become a dragon animagus just so you can see him do it with Momnarth isn't going to happen. And I'm going to laugh at you for suggesting it, then call you a pervert. You have a suggestion and honestly the odds of it being used are infinitesimally small. A lot of people who write fan fiction ask the readers what they want. I don't.
- Some have complained that I'm not posting over at fanfictionauthors and used the excuse of wanting to download for offline reading. Well you can still do that here. Look up fanfictiondownloader in google and you'll find a nifty little program that will pull a story down into one file and then convert it to the format you need. Or you can use Calibre if you need it in epub format. I personally use calibre to make the epub files for my tablet.
- A lot of people wanted to see the dragons deal with the Dursleys but that was never going to happen. Harry wanted to put that part of his past behind him. That the muggles finally stepped up to the plate was only a result of self interest on their part and the ire of her Majesty. Had the Dursleys raised Harry properly he wouldn't have been so independent in his thinking. As satisfying as it might have been to write a scene where Harry and a hundred dragons flame Privet Drive, I'm trying to keep this story "real" within it's fantasy context and destroying Privet Drive would have opened up legal hassles that I didn't want to deal with. For me it was simpler to allow the muggles to deal with it.