It was a typical hot and muggy night. The sky was pitch black, the stars something akin to diamonds on a velvet skin. Sleep evaded her and just about everyone else in the camp, if the noise was anything to go by. It was just so damn hot. Stupid desert.
Cho rolled over onto her back, a heavy sigh deflating her lungs. Deftly she swept her bangs out of her eyes. There was no point in trying to sleep anymore. It wasn't going to happen and she knew it. That sleeping draught had been useless. Swinging her legs to the side of the cot, she shakily stood, waiting for the disorientation to pass.
Crouching at the end of the cot, she flipped open the trunk that sat there. Pulling out a black tank top, Cho shucked her night shirt and pulled it on. Pulling some olive green cargo shorts on after the tank, she finally stuffed her feet into her black hydra skin boots. Quickly she did up the laces and straightened, the trunk falling shut.
Her leg itched incessantly behind the coarse material of her wand holster. Cho already had a fine sheen of perspiration all over her body, her tank top sticking to her back. Delicate but calloused fingers gripped her wand, the familiar feel a comfort. Fig tree and Unicorn hair, 10 inches and well balanced. Good for charms. Cho snorted in derision. She wasn't using many charms these days, except for the odd Accio or Scourgify.
Instead she found herself using Medical spells and offensive Transfiguration more than anything. Between the daily accidents and the intentional fighting, her repertoire was limited to a small set of spells she used over and over. Some might even call it abuse. Slipping her wand into the holster, she tucked her leather work gloves into her back pocket and grabbed her water bottle. Back to work it was.
Pushing aside the heavy flap on her tent, Cho stepped out into the early morning dawn. The horizon was starting to turn pink, but it would be another hour and a half before the sun revealed itself. Throughout the camp people wandered and chattered, torches burning brightly outside each tent, providing light and direction to those who lived there. Tent City was the affectionate name for the outpost that was located in the middle of the desert, just about 200 miles outside of Cairo, Egypt.
The existence of Tent City had one mission. To protect the Gold Firebrand dragons, which made this dry and desolate place their home. About 5 years back, poachers had become extremely aggressive in the capture and slaughter of any Firebrand they could get their hands on. Firebrand's were like most other dragons, ornery, and dangerous. However unlike the Welsh Green, the Chinese Fireball or even the Norwegian Ridgeback, the Firebrand did not have 12 individual uses for it's blood. It had 15.
Unlike the blood of other dragons, the Firebrand's was not as volatile and it interacted with other potion ingredients much more subtly. Dragon's blood was an important ingredient in many potions Aside from it's use in Skelegro, it was also oddly enough used in a oven cleaner and spot remover. But because of the Firebrand's blood being more docile, it could now be used to strengthen Wolfsbane and other influencing potions. But the best use it had been found to have, astonished everyone. It lessened the long term effects of the Cruciatus curse. A man name Marco had discovered this and created the Sine Dolore. It relieved the involuntary sweating and shaking, along with the residual aches of a pain long gone. It was not a cure and only lasted for 8 hours but the demand was huge for it.
Since this deadly discovery several years back, the Firebrand had been hunted mercilessly. The worst part of this travesty was the fact that Firebrands could not be bred in captivity to repopulate their numbers. They could not be bred anywhere. If taken outside this desert, the dragons grew sick and died. They needed the heat from the sun and sand, plus the raw magic, that resided within the crags. Which left those in Tent City at a veritable impasse.
After Cho had graduated from Hogwarts, she had wandered for over a year, undecided on anything. Part of her hesitation was due to the hole in her chest, where her heart had once resided. When Cedric had died, he had taken it with him along with all her will to live. There was no denying that her love and devotion were unhealthy, but Cho was unwilling to let it go. It was her penitence.
One day, Cho had just made a decision and the next found herself working in the Conservation of Magical Creatures Department at the Egyptian Ministry of Magic. About 6 months after, the hunt for Firebrand's had begun and nearly a year after that, she found herself part of the crew that was to setup and structure Tent City. Cho had been there for just over 4 years and found herself happy. Granted, fighting off and capturing poachers wasn't exactly a glamorous job, but it gave her a sense of satisfaction that nothing else ever had. She had a purpose that she could devote herself wholly to and she had no plans of leaving.
Cho couldn't leave. Never. Because here in this desert resided the real reason for her devotion. Or obsession, depending on who you talked to. So lost in thought had she been, Cho didn't realize where she was until she heard the loud telltale snort of a dragon. A slow smile graced her upturned face, as Cho gazed up toward the dragon's steely grey eyes. There she saw no judgment, unlike the human eyes all around her.
Said dragon was almost 60ft tall, it's tail 30ft long and it's body just indescribably huge. It's scales were a mixture of dark gold and yellows, to the pale color of lemons. It lay on it's stomach, back legs curled under it's body, front legs stretched and crossed. However it's head was raised as far as it's neck would allow, the Firebrand's gaze wary and alert. He was the largest of his kind they had encountered, in all the time they had been there.
Carefully Cho stepped forward, making no sudden movements, until she reached the fence line. This pen was used for the injured dragons they came upon or were able to rescue from the clutches of a poacher team. One of it's wings was curled close to it's body, while the other lay stretched out across the ground in a splint. Setting her water bottle down, Cho licked her dry lips before saying huskily, "Good morning Cedric."
The dragon's eyes never left her own, as she slowly climbed the fence, dropping onto the balls of her feet as she landed on the other side. Cedric made no move, simply watched her progress with detachment. Cho slowly stepped around Cedric's injured wing, inspecting the brace for breaks or damage. Every so often she looked up at the dragon, gauging his reaction. Cho really didn't feel like being breakfast. She had done this dance every morning and evening with Cedric, going on 5 months now. His wing just didn't want to heal, although it didn't help that he continuously damaged the brace.
Cedric was her obsession. Something in this dragon's dark eyes screamed of her lost love. So she had aptly named him, continuing to torture herself daily by saying the name. Cho knew her reasoning was twisted, making herself hurt each day. But she never wanted to forget, like many others had. She refused to disgrace his memory by not paying the proper tribute. As long as Tent City existed and even after it was taken down, she would remain. Her life now belonged to the Firebrand dragons.
Walking back the way she came, Cho kept her eyes locked on the dragon's snout, watching as smoke lazily rose from the nostrils. Cedric was fired up today. Carefully she perched herself on the fence, facing away from the rising sun. Without thinking, she reached up and touched the raised scars on her neck, where Cedric's claws had once lovingly caressed her skin. Dropping her hand, she looked back at the dragon, her gaze soft. Cedric stared back, the tip of his tail twitching.
Taking a drink of her water she asked, "How are you this morning, Cedric my love?"
Author's note: This story is kind of rushed. I'm not used to writing on demand like this and found it quite challenging. Please review if you enjoyed my melancholy creation. You can thank HPFF for this one-shot.