Here's chapter 7. Sorry for the false update, I promise I wont take it down this time, at least not before everyone gets to read it. ;P
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Harry and his dragon both could only take so much before they lost their patience.
They had lost their patience.
He took a deep breath and imagined the wall he had built up around his power crumbling down around him. As he began to feel the magic flowing from him he went a step further and did what amounted to flexing a mental muscle; flaring his power out further and smothering any weak wizards nearby. Was it a little rude? Yeah but so the fuck what? If the half giant couldn't keep these people from being rude then Harry damn sure could.
It was with great pleasure that he watched people starting to look up at him; with each new pair of eyes that met his own there was a shuffling noise as their owner moved to get out of his way. Most of them didn't recognize him or what he was doing with his magic but they knew they should be wary of it…and so they were.
Moments passed before she thought she felt something tickling the back of her mind as if something big was behind her. She glanced back and found only Harry looking menacing. And yet, the feeling was still there, humming faintly against her skin. She turned back to the front and suddenly realized that no more people were bumping into her…no one was even brushing against her in passing. She glanced from side to side and saw that the crowd had begun to part for them and everyone seemed to be giving her and Harry a wide berth. Was she feeling the power Minerva had mentioned? She focused harder and as her brain attempted to rationalize it the humming stopped. Hermione growled and tried to shut her mind off.
Hagrid paused in his jostling to look back at them, "'arry, can you tone it down? You're making it hard to focus."
Hermione turned to him, "What are you doing?"
Harry shrugged, "Taking care of you."
She blinked, "Hagrid," she rushed to catch up to the giant, "what is he doing?"
The giant took a deep breath as if trying to calm himself, "The force that Minerva talked about. Harry has sort of turned up the volume, I guess. Before I only felt a little tickling but now it's like a loud buzzing that presses down on me. The dragon is just around that corner, you two go. I think I'll go over there to sit and talk to a friend."
Hermione turned back to Harry, "Stop! You're hurting Hagrid!"
Harry touched her shoulder and the hum she felt increased until she could almost feel it moving against her skin.
"It wasn't hurting him it just made him uncomfortable and I'd rather have him go sit somewhere than have anyone else get too close." He took a deep breath and moved his hand back. "Besides, I could make it much worse." He hadn't realized it before but he now could feel the truth to his words. He'd opened the damn but not released the entire flood…
She sighed longingly when the brush of power was taken away and then blinked in confusion at him, "I can feel you Harry; that's not good. I shouldn't be able to remember?"
"Calm down 'Mione. Let me do this, or I will completely lose it and hurt someone. All I'm doing is embracing the power instead of trying to keep a lid on it…I'm not even performing any kind of magic."
She noticed the calm determined look he was wearing and gave him a nod. Harry gave her an almost unhappy smile and moved in front of her so that he could lead the way.
They walked the rest of the way to the dragon without anyone ever getting within a few feet of them. Hermione found herself more scared of their reaction than impressed; Harry was more powerful than she had known and he suddenly had too many primal instincts guiding that power.
As they turned the final corner they found the dragon. Chained at each of its four legs, its neck, and its tail was the Norwegian Ridgeback. It could rise up to only half its full height before it jerked its head against the metal collar that it was wearing, like a dog at the end of its leash. Another loud roar vibrated the ground under her feet. Hermione glanced at the five wizards who were surrounding it and providing constant support to the magical barrier keeping the dragon grounded and relatively pliant.
She hadn't seen a dragon since the Triwizard Tournament and she found herself impressed all over again by their size. All sharp angles and wickedly pointed edges; this animal was like a walking tank. Harry kept walking closer, nearer to the edge of its enclosure, and Hermione followed in wonder. The closer they got the more overwhelming the animal was.
Suddenly the animal wasn't thrashing against its bonds but calmly turning to face them.
Hermione's heart skipped a beat when the animal's gaze locked on Harry. She moved next to her friend and found Harry staring at the beast just as intently.
"Move behind me," Harry said softly.
The first tingling of power trickled out from the snarling creature in front of them. She stepped behind Harry just as the dam opened and the beast threw its power at them. Hermione sucked in a breath and struggled to breathe as the atmosphere seemed to get thicker and heavier around her.
Slowly she fell to her knees. It was overwhelming. She reached forward to touch Harry's leg, perhaps to get him to leave, but her senses were flooded all over again as soon as she made contact with his material-clad calf. This power was familiar though and it filled her with a warmth that rubbed hotly across her skin and made her gasp for a completely different reason. She clenched her teeth and ignored her body so that she could focus on what was happening. Like she was somehow sharing Harry's experience, she could still feel the tail end of the dragon's power and rage but quickly the warmth of Harry's power was swallowing it and surging onward towards the dragon.
She felt Harry shove his power harder and realized that somehow, he and the dragon had gotten into some sort of a pissing contest. The males were shoving their power down each other's throat trying to see who would drown first. She was just about to grab Harry's hand, so she could try and pull him away, when suddenly the flood was gone and the returning noise of the loud market from before seemed almost peaceful in comparison.
The dragon scooted closer to them before lowering itself down on the ground and lowering its head towards Harry.
"What…what happened?" Hermione said breathlessly.
Harry looked down at her and she sucked in a breath at the change in him. His features seemed sharper, his eyes fully red, and there was a definite point to his canines.
"Nicolai thinks you are a very beautiful mate, for a human," Harry said in a rough voice.
She blinked, "Who is Nicolai?"
Harry nodded in the direction of the dragon and sighed while wiping a trickle of sweat from his temple, "The dragon."
Hermione stared at him. She had no idea what she was having the most trouble with, the fact that a dragon could speak to Harry, the fact that it thought she was cute for a human, or the fact that it had called her Harry's mate. She watched Harry look back at the dragon and tilt his head as if listening to something she couldn't hear. A frown crossed his features.
"What…what did it say this time?" she mumbled.
Harry grimaced, "Nothing."
The dragon made a deep rumbling noise, exhaling almost jerkily; a more imaginative person might believe the beast to be laughing.
"Tell me," she demanded.
"He thinks…" Harry sighed, "I don't know how to say it. Your…excitement… smells good."
She looked at him in confusion for a moment before feeling her cheeks start to burn, "Tell him I said to keep his nose to himself."
"I already did," he said softly and his eyes met hers. "I'm paying for Nicolai's freedom. We will ride him back to Hogwarts and then he has promised to keep his appetite to himself until he reaches some remote mountains or the nearest dragon reserve."
"Ri…ride him?" she asked horrified. "Don't you remember the last ride we had on a dragon? It was terrifying."
He nodded and held out a hand to help her stand, "This will be different."
Hermione immediately shivered as little aftershocks of power rocked through her at his touch, "Why are you doing that to me?"
Harry frowned for a second, "I'm not doing anything to you."
She nodded, "You have to be. Your magic has never felt like this before…"
"I'm not…" he looked like he was having difficulty putting his thoughts into words, "I'm not intentionally doing anything with my magic right now, much less pushing any at you."
Hermione frowned at him. She was not imagining the way his magic had touched her. Was he honestly unaffected? More importantly, was Harry giving off these 'fuck me' pheromones to everyone his magic touched? She wasn't sure she wanted to know. "How much is it?"
"The dragon?" he asked. "A lot. Wait here until I get back from paying."
She watched him go and then turned to glance at the dragon who was watching her intently.
"Can you understand me?" she asked softly, feeling like an idiot.
A tickling at her mind was her only answer. Almost like what she had felt behind her when Harry had started his 'flexing' but it seemed like more of a curious power than the forbidding one like Harry's had been. The feeling seemed to grow thicker and fuzzier, and almost smothering. The force kept pushing but didn't seem to be able to force its way in.
Harry was suddenly back in front of her and the feeling of his hands on the sides of her face instantly chased the headache away. She took a shaky breath and looked up at, "I think your friend was trying to talk to me."
Harry sent the dragon a glare and she got the feeling that he was chastising the big animal like it was a puppy that had chewed on his shoes.
"It's ok, I sort of asked for it," she said softly. "Are we ready to go?"
"Yeah, let me unlock all these damn chains," Harry said and hoped over the chest high fence that had been around the bound dragon. The wizards that had been keeping the binding spell on the dragon suddenly looked horrified as Harry walked through the force field they had created and it instantly collapsed. Almost as one the group turned and scattered, putting as much distance between themselves and the now-free dragon as possible.
She felt bereft without the warmth of his hands but she took a deep breath and watched all the people around them begin to scatter like the wizards keeping it captive had. Apparently no one wanted to be around a freed dragon.
"I just heard that Harry bought the dragon," Hagrid said from behind her.
She nodded, "Yes, he is setting it free after we get back to Hogwarts."
"Setting it free?" Hagrid stared, "Is he mad?"
"They…talked." She mumbled, "he and the dragon are on good terms…safe terms."
"I wasn't aware that there was such a thing as safe terms with a dragon," Hagrid offered and then blinked in awe as the dragon's body easily plowed through the wooden fence and crushed the thing to the ground, leaving everyone with little doubt that the enchantments binding it were indeed fully gone.
"You sure you know what you're doing Harry?" Hagrid asked as Harry followed the dragon out into the market place where everyone either stood gaping or were scurrying for cover.
Harry glanced around, noted all the open stares, and winced; his initial plan had been to stay as far under the radar as possible. "It's too late to change anything now." He looked at Hermione and caught the speculative look she was giving him.
Hermione blinked and looked away quickly, "How about you ride the dragon back and I go back with Hagrid?" She watched his gaze instantly harden and his jaw clench; his inner dragon apparently did not like that idea. "Or we both go back with him and the dragon leaves on its own?"
"If the dragon leaves here by itself then chances are it's going to be followed and recaptured," Harry said. "Do you want to leave with Hagrid?"
She chewed her lip and looked over at the enormous dragon. Did she dare climb on top of the thing? Her discomfort with flying would only be worse when a dragon was the one in control... she looked back and Harry and saw that he was studiously staring at the ground as if he was trying not to push her. She took a deep breath; she had survived riding a dragon once before…surely she could do it again…especially if the dragon respected and obeyed Harry…right?
She sighed, "Let's go on the dragon."
Hagrid looked almost jealous but he gave them a smile, "I'll see you back at Hogwarts."
When she looked back at Harry but he was facing the dragon. She watched in wonder as the beast lowered itself down onto its belly and placed a leg in front of them to climb up on.
"This is ridiculous," she said and then squealed when Harry picked her up by the waist and deposited her on the dragons forearm.
"Climb up 'Mione, it's alright," Harry said and moved up after her.
Once she was seated near the base of the dragon's neck with her legs spread as wide as they would go to accommodate its girth, Harry nimbly climbed up and sat down behind her.
"Please don't let this be the day I die..." she mumbled to herself. The dragon started shifting and then stood. Already she felt like she was sliding off.
Harry's arms wrapped around her waist tightly and pulled her firmly back against his body, "Focus on me and not what is happening. I'm not going to let anything happen to you."
"Is...is it too late to change my mind?" she gasped when the dragon tensed and launched itself into the air. Harry's arms tight around her waist seemed to be the only thing around her that was stable. She pressed back into him and clamped her eyes shut hoping to block out what was happening but that only amplified the feeling of falling.
Every wing beat put them higher in the air and jolted her back against Harry.
"It will get smoother...deep breaths," he kissed her neck.
Hermione nodded but didn't feel too consoled; the ground was rapidly getting farther away. "Harry..." she mumbled, hating how terrified she was.
"Shhh," he cooed into her ear, whispering comforting words and keeping his arms tight around her.
Just as she was about to give in to the urge to scream the dragon leveled out and all the jolting stopped. Its wings spread wide and she was amazed at how easily such a heavy body glided through the air. She clutched at Harry's arms and looked at the ground; everything was so far away. The little tents of the market were a good distance behind them and looked like little more than marshmallows.
"Look," Harry said into her ear and she shivered in response.
Her eyes moved forward and she say the landscape suddenly turn green. The mountains that seemed tiny from the market were looming on their right. The trees looked like a dark green moss spread thickly across everything below them. It was actually kind of...pretty.
Time had swept past them like the air through her hair and she was surprised to see the sky becoming orange with the setting sun. Clouds that had been a puffy white earlier that day had become a bright yellow gold against their new backdrop.
"This is beautiful Harry," she said, she had relaxed a lot since their take off but had kept her tight hold on his arms. He hadn't seemed to mind.
"Yeah," he said softly and she glanced back over her shoulder at him.
He seemed almost sleepy he was so content. His hair was ruffling wildly in the
wind and his body was tense behind her but she wasn't sure she had ever seen him so relaxed.
He nodded at the land in front of them, "There's Hogwarts."
She turned back and smiled at the tiny black spread in the distance. "Are we flying over the forbidden forest right now?"
"I think so," he said.
She grinned, "I like it much better this way."
He returned her grin, "Me too."
When she looked again Hogwarts was much closer; she could even make out some of the different buildings. The ground was coming back up at them now and she subconsciously dug her nails into Harry's arms. His hold loosened on her and she
immediately clutched tighter.
"Hermione, let go, I want to turn you around," he said and gently pried her fingers loose from their death grip.
"Harry, I..." she felt the first surge of fear since they had taken off.
He shushed her again, "Lift your right leg over and put it next to your left leg."
When she didn't move he chuckled, "I'm not going to let you go. Now do it."
Her leg moved slowly and jerkily across the dragon's neck.
"Now," he hooked his hand under her left leg and pulled, "bring this leg up between us and move it to the other side."
"Harry!" she growled, pissed and terrified that distance between their bodies was growing and she had lost almost all her balance. She wobbled but he kept her upright until she managed to get leg out from between them and rest it on his other leg.
He nodded and grabbed both of her thighs before pulling her flush against him again.
"We are about to land," he offered, and gently moved her head into the crook of his neck. "Hang on to me so I can hang on to the dragon, and don't forget to breathe."
She mumbled something about him being an ass but then gave her attention
completely to the smell of his skin and the warmth of his body against her. The dragon started circling Hogwarts; spiraling downwards in an attempt to slow its speed without making any jerky movements. She made the unwise decision to move her face away from Harry long enough to look down and instantly regretted it. She sucked in a breath and clutched tighter to him, her arms and legs both wrapped around him and her face completely burrowed into the hollow below his head.
She felt the world tilting back and forth, the wind whipping her hair into knots, and then the drop in her stomach as the beast finally straightened out and went in for the landing. The last jerk was the worst; just before it hit the ground the dragon fanned out its wings and caught the air with them, nearly throwing her forward off Harry's lap. She whimpered and clutched to him tighter but noticed that his arms were as solid as stone around her; she wouldn't have fallen even if she had completely let go of him.
"We are on the ground 'Mione," he said and gently smoothed his hands down her back in an attempt to soothe her.
The air had stilled around her but her body was still feeling the ghosts of earlier movements.
He petted her back, "I'm sorry, I should have let you go with Hagrid."
She took a deep breath and pulled back from him so that she could look up into
his eyes. "No...the middle part was almost fun."
A tiny smile picked up in the corner of his mouth; she was so cute, and brave, and perfect. Even with her hair in bushy tangled mess. "We should have put your hair up before we left."
She blinked and then released him so that she could reach up and touch it.
Her eyes widened in horror and her cheeks flushed pink. She mumbled a quick spell under her breath only to suck in a breath as Harry's power seemed to rush over her.
Instantly her hair was silky and flat, straighter than it had ever been in her life, and a bit more than she would have chosen to do with her own magic.
"Did you do that on purpose?" she asked him as she ran her hands through her hair again and again in shock.
"No, but I did think something about wanting it to be straight so that you wouldn't feel so embarrassed," he gave her a crooked smile.
She nodded and became lost in her thoughts about dragons and the things she had read about them.
He moved underneath her, lifting her off his lap so that he could move his leg to the other side of the dragon and hop down with her in his arms.
Hermione clung to him.
"If you want me to carry you it would be better if you were on my back," he said and loosened his hold on her legs, making her slide down his body to the ground.
She couldn't say that didn't like the idea of being carried further by him but nonetheless she shook her head and stepped away from him. She looked up from straightening her clothes and saw Harry and the beast again locking gazes.
"Thank you for trying to be gentle with the landing," she said to the dragon, believing on some level he would get the message. The beast surprised her by dipping its head towards her in acknowledgement.
"You're welcome," Harry said back automatically.
She was equally surprised by his voicing of the dragon's thoughts. She wasn't sure she would ever be comfortable with the idea of him being able to converse in a whole other language that no human had ever had the opportunity to learn. Instead of stirring up her appetite for knowledge it only made her more aware of the changes that had occurred within him.
Before she knew it they had waved goodbye and she was all alone with Harry again. She turned and found him watching her with those predatory eyes of his. She cleared her throat, "Well, what now?"
He paused for only a moment, "What day is today?"
"It's Friday…the third. Why?"
Hermione was shocked to see the how many students were gathered in the Great Hall without the knowledge of any of Hogwarts staff. It had to be nearly the entire student body…
"You came! I'm so glad! I'll be the one doing the reading tonight," Clare spoke to Harry as he and Hermione joined the students in the Great Hall.
Hermione's face instantly scrunched up into a frown, "Just what are you guys doing? It is most definitely against the rules for students to be out of their dormitories this late!" She was quieted by Harry's hand landing on her hip and gently squeezing.
"I decided I needed to see what all the fuss was about. No worries, we can keep a secret," he smiled softly at the young girl in front of them.
"That we all already know," Clare grinned, her eyes met Hermione's for just a moment too long before she left them and headed for the podium.
Hermione felt like the girl was keeping a secret already. Her eyes had twinkled just enough to unnerve the more experienced witch.
They both watched as everyone found their seats themselves included, with honored seats at the teachers table, and wards were put on the doors to keep any noise from escaping. Clare then cast a charm on herself and asked in an echoing voice if everyone could hear her. Nods came from all points in the room and the girl began.
"I thought that tonight I'd read about the year that Harry and his friends weren't at Hogwarts. The hardest year for all us in the wizarding world. This was the year that Harry and his friends left in search of Voldemort's Horcruxes," Clare said as everyone finally became settled and every eye had turned to her.
Hermione was amazed that the girl was brazen enough to say the dark lord's name and equally surprised at the mention of the Horcruxes, something she had believed to be a heavily guarded secret, but nothing surprised her more than what happened next. Clare knelt down and from a satchel near her feet pulled out a worn leather volume; it was one Hermione couldn't help but recognize. She could do nothing but gape as the girl opened it up, flipped past the first three quarters of the book filled with Hermione's handwriting and began reading aloud.
"What is that?" Harry asked as Clare's voice began describing the horror's that had befallen Bill and Fleur's wedding in first person point of view.
Hermione's breath hitched, how could this have happened? "It's my old diary that I kept while were we in school…I thought it was lost in the final battle…"
The students all gasped as her diary told of the spells that had whizzed through the air past their ears, laughed when it told of Ron's reaction to her version of Mary Poppin's bottomless bag, and sat in solemn silence when it recounted the early days of carrying about the locket Horcrux. Clare had been reading for over an hour and Hermione had settled into the feeling of déjà vu when she realized what was about to happen.
"Something happened last night," Clare said and shot Hermione a quick smile before continuing. "Something that has never happened before. I was still aching from Ron's absence and Harry was still struggling under the weight of the world that he never allowed himself to put down…and it happened. One moment we were both sitting in an unhappy silence, listening to the radio's slow tune, and the next thing I knew he was standing and walking towards me. He held out his hand and I knew he was asking me to dance. I rarely denied him anything and didn't act any differently now. We started to sway and he pulled my body tightly against his. My heart pounded and my stomach clenched. I had known for a long time that I was attracted to him but my own insecurity had kept me from ever allowing myself to believe that anything could come of it. I was just an ordinary mudblood and much more suited for a life with Ronald. Nothing is wrong with Ronald, though he can be quite witless sometimes I still find him to be charming occasionally…Harry was just another thing entirely. Honestly, he is the innocent heroic boy of every girl's dreams, but we can't all have him. And his strong and beautifully loyal heart belongs to Ginny.
How could I have been so stupid? I actually felt disappointed when our eyes met and he chose not to lean in for a kiss. These self-destructive desires are absolutely out of the norm for me. As is the petty urge to make a snide remark about Ginny not deserving him. I'm just going to have to keep my emotional distance from him. Harry will always be my best friend but I have to give up on the idea of him ever being more than that…"
Clare kept reading but Hermione couldn't stand anymore. The little brat had known exactly what she was going to read the moment she had seen Hermione walk through the doorway into the Hall. All she could do now was pray that Harry didn't comment on what he had heard.
As casually and quietly as possible, Hermione stood up from her seat and made her way to the door. When she glanced over her shoulder she was dismayed to see Harry getting up to follow, and hurried out the large doors a bit faster. He would be fine without her for the night; hopefully she could find an empty room in the girl's dormitory.
"'Mione," Harry called out softly as he shut the door behind him.
Hermione held her breath in an attempt to hold back all the emotions that were trying to overwhelm her.
"'Mione wait," he grabbed her arm to stop her fleeing any further.
How had he caught up with her so fast? "Just leave it Harry, it was a long time ago."
Harry turned her around and Hermione was irritated that she was being forced to look at him. "What?!" she growled at him.
Her pricklishness didn't seem to faze him, "I wanted to kiss you."