You are viewing a story from harrypotterfanfiction.com
View Online | Printer Friendly Version of Entire Story
Chapter 1: The Dragonslayer's Story
A/N: Edited 5 January, 2010. My thanks to theelderwand1 for his input, which helped me immensely in making changes.
Deep in the forest, I quietly dismount my horse and creep forward toward a unicorn standing grazing in a clearing. As I near, it looks up for a moment, ears pricked, as if sensing my presence, though I know I have been completely silent. After a few long moments, it relaxes again and continues grazing. I move closer and ready my bow. I sight carefully and let my arrow fly. It flies straight and true, as it has done many times before, and sinks into the flesh behind the unicorn’s shoulder. It’s a perfect shot! A fatal shot.
The unicorn shudders and gives a great, bounding leap . . . and gallops off through the trees. As its long, glittering tail whisks away and vanishes, rage and frustration wash over me. The perfect clarity that comes with hunting evaporates. Every time, the same thing! No matter how well I aim, the unicorns never die. No matter how well I aim, the blood of a unicorn will never touch my lips.
I seize my head and hurl it against the nearest tree, but I am denied the pleasure of hearing even the faintest thump. My head passes straight through, of course, and lands facing up through the leafy canopy. I can see my body several feet away, and I walk toward my head. I stoop down and recover it, giving it an experimental toss before tucking it firmly beneath my arm.
Yes, I just tucked my head under my arm. Do you have a problem with that?
You living people can be so touchy. Playing with my head is one of my favourite things about being dead, I’ll have you know. I can juggle with it, play ball with it, or just carry it under my arm. I’ll admit it took some getting used to at first, learning how to control my body while my head isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Sometimes I miss having a head that attaches, but most of the time, I rather enjoy it. It’s great for conversation, you know.
What I miss most about being alive is the hunting. I can’t kill anything that’s already a ghost, and with my ghostly weapons, I can’t slay living creatures either. All they feel is an icy shock, or so I’ve been told. When I was alive, things were very different. When I was alive, creatures large and small fled before my deadly lance and arrows! They cowered and trembled before me! Ah, the thrill of the hunt!
But I? Oh, I scorned all but the largest and most dangerous game. Dragons, to be precise. Nothing compares to the thrill of hunting a dragon. Picture this. A gorgeous Hungarian Horntail bearing down on you, searing jets of flame shooting from her nostrils, that deep red hide glowing in the sunlight . . . dragons are beautiful creatures, no doubt. They are also canny and strong, and none but the strongest and most powerful of men can slay them.
Men such as myself, Sir Patrick, Dragonslayer Extraordinaire! Ah, it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? What about . . . Saint Patrick, Dragonslayer Extraordinaire?
Saint Patrick . . . hah! No one has ever mistaken me for a saint. After all, it’s hard to take down a dragon without using a bit of Dark Magic now and then. Nothing major, mind you, just a little Avada Kedavra aimed at the underbelly to disorient it—it works best on the females—and finish it off with a sword or lance afterward. Or an Imperius Curse straight in the eye for when there’s an audience, so that the dragon will let you get close.
And then there’s the minor matter of poison. Naturally, most dragon slayers in my day eschewed it as a matter of principle. Something about it being sporting to give the dragon a fair chance. A fair chance, I say? As if the dragon doesn’t have the advantage already! And what did that sporting chance get those noble dragon slayers, I ask you. No, I’ll tell you what it got them. Nothing but an early grave, that’s what. That sort of nonsense wasn’t for me. I liked living, thank you very much, and so I made a discreet habit of lacing the tip of my lance with poison.
Dishonest, you say? Perhaps. My colleagues certainly thought so. But it’s safer, too. In any case, it was different in those days. There weren’t any of these special dragon reserves—hah!— like there are today. No, there were a lot more dragons loose then, and not just the occasional Common Welsh Greenback, either.
Muggles believed in dragons then—bloody well hard not to know about them when they’re terrorizing villages—as well as unicorns, centaurs, chimeras, and all manner of other magical beasts. The Obliviators didn’t have the resources to get to everyone. The damn government wasn’t so big and interfering in those days. And in those days, any man who could kill a dragon was a hero. I was a hero.
Sir Patrick, the best dragon slayer in all the land! Ah, those were the days.
But then that kid came along and ruined it all. George. He was just a boy, and a Muggle boy at that. I’d never heard of him before, but he dared to challenge me, Sir Patrick, to a dragon slaying contest! That presuming, conniving little boy dared to challenge me! Whichever of us can kill the most dragons in a fortnight will be champion, he shouted far and wide for the world to hear. Well, I didn’t think he stood a chance, this skinny Muggle. So, just for fun, you understand, I accepted his challenge.
At the end of a fortnight, we’d each killed two dragons. I could hardly believe my ears when I heard! I couldn’t understand. How could this boy, this Muggle boy, match me? Declaring a draw was out of the question, so I proposed the perfect way to decide the contest once and for all. We’d both face the same nesting Hungarian Horntail. Whosoever struck the fatal blow would be champion.
I felt confident that victory would be mine. After all, I’d killed many Hungarian Horntails in my career, and being older and craftier, I’d have the advantage. Everyone would see I was still the greatest dragon slayer in all the land.
Or so I thought. Yes, dear friend, it pains me to admit, but I lost the contest. In truth, I was forced to forfeit. I’d put just a drop of poison on the tip of my lance as was my custom—just the merest drop. Just enough to ensure a good, solid strike would be fatal.
I struck the fatal blow, too. George—that scoundrel—stood back and let me do all the work! The dragon was huge—the largest and most beautiful I’d ever seen, and she had a viciousness to match. She burned my leg—the first dragon to do so in seven years. I still have the scar, you see? Yet, in the end, it was I—I, Sir Patrick—who wore the beast down. I used all my considerable skill and power—no magic for me that day—to slay that magnificent beast. When my lance finally sank into her breast, I knew I’d fought the best fight of my life.
I was champion. The glory was mine! Mine and mine alone. Ah, the sweet taste of victory! The crowd roared and chanted my name. As I stood there, basking, the very earth seemed to sing to me! The birds serenaded me, the horses stamped their hooves for me, and the very sun shone all the brighter for me!
And then disaster struck. In the midst of the celebration, George slipped unnoticed to the fallen beast and retrieved my lance. Still unnoticed, he stole over to my horse and made a long, thin cut across the poor creature’s flank. The poison being so potent, of course my faithful horse collapsed and died within moments.
George held my lance aloft, and the crowd’s attention began to shift to him. I turned to see what was happening and experienced a sickening sinking of the heart when I beheld him standing over my dead horse, hoisting my lance aloft.
“What villainy is this? Poison!” George shouted. “This lance has been poisoned! For this trickery, Sir Patrick’s victory is hereby forfeit!”
The crowd erupted once more, this time in outrage rather than admiration. Upon hearing a call for my head, I thought it prudent to make a hasty retreat. I couldn’t risk Disapparating in front of so many Muggles, so, humiliating as it was, I simply ran for it, drawing my sword as I went. I must have cut an intimidating figure, for to my surprise, the crowd scattered before me, and I was soon sufficiently distant to risk Apparition.
Of course, my reputation had been ruined. After all, people asked, what sort of scoundrel would cheat in a contest in which he seemingly had the upper hand? No longer was I called upon to deal with rogue dragons. Oh no. George got all the business, and he soon surpassed my kills! I couldn’t understand it: how could this boy, this Muggle, slay so many dragons without using a whit of magic?
The people thought the hand of God was guiding him, and soon, he came to be known as Saint George. Saint George, the Dragon Slayer. He was a hero, and I? I had become . . . a nobody. A pathetic little nobody.
Where once people had shouted my name and run to touch my sleeve, to tend my horse, to polish my lance and sword, to buy me a drink; where once I had been received and fêted far and wide . . . nothing. Everywhere I went, at best I was met by a blank wall of anonymity and at worst, I was spat upon and scorned. All the while, shouts of “Long live Saint George!” rang in my ears.
Well, a man can only take so much disappointment, as I’m sure you understand. Everyone has limits. I did my best to find dragons first, to kill the most, hoping to repair my reputation, but despite my efforts, I only sank further into oblivion. No one cared about my exploits anymore. It was all George, George, George! Saint George. Bah! I spit on his name.
I was consumed by the idea of killing just one more dragon. Surely if I could kill just one more—and another and then yet another—my name would be restored. Surely people would turn to me when they realized what a weakling that skinny George was! If I could be the strongest and most powerful man in the world . . . surely then I could be a hero again.
But how to gain that strength? To be the strongest and most powerful man is to be very strong and powerful indeed. Ah, it seemed an impossible dream at first . . . and then it dawned on me. Unicorn blood would strengthen me. With the aid of unicorn blood, I would be strong and powerful and nearly invincible!
Does that shock you? Yes, I can see it does. Perhaps it even disgusts you. The killing of a unicorn is a great crime, of course. But I ask you, is it a worse crime than what had been perpetuated against me? Is it not a crime for a man to be deprived of his livelihood, to have his name slandered, to have his dreams and hopes and glory stolen and dashed to dust? And so, despite the terrible price, I was determined.
I knew there was a large herd of unicorns living in the Forbidden Forest, so after secretly purchasing some of the finest, sharpest arrows, I journeyed there. I spent days riding my new horse through the forest without seeing so much as a unicorn hair. Then, one afternoon, I finally saw one. It was standing alone, peacefully grazing in a clearing.
In this very clearing, in fact.
I crept forward, bow in hand. It was a magnificent creature, a large male, glistening in the dappled sunshine. It hurt my eyes to look upon him, he was so beautiful. His muscles rippled beneath his gleaming hide, and his proud horn jutted from his forehead and tapered to a deadly point. I held my breath, admiring him.
The unicorn looked up, sensing the presence . . . of something. They always do that, you know. Every time. Even now that I’m a ghost and can’t touch them, they sense my presence whenever I approach. I wonder whether they sense the presence of other ghosts, too, or just me. I sometimes believe they could flee but choose not to, as if they’re testing me.
Where was I? Oh yes. Well, I failed the test that day. I nocked my arrow, sighted carefully, and let it fly. It was a perfect shot, a thing of beauty, as straight and lethal as the unicorn’s horn! The arrow sank into the unicorn’s side, burrowing deep. He gave a great, bounding leap and crumbled to the ground. The surge of triumph I felt was akin to the feeling I had after slaying my first dragon. I, Patrick, Dragon Slayer, had brought this beauty to the ground. I had been stronger, and now its blood would strengthen me.
I pulled out my dagger and drinking cup. I sank down at the unicorn’s side, stroked its flank, and worked a knot out of its mane. This was perhaps the most glorious creature I had ever killed. It was more beautiful than even a Hungarian Horntail. Finally, I was ready to cut open the unicorn’s throat. Hot, silvery blood spurted out and flowed over my hands. I caught the stream in my cup and prepared to take my first sip.
Can you guess what happened?
George. Of course it was George! That sneak had followed me, and he had witnessed my crime.
“What is this?” he bellowed. “You have slain a unicorn, the most sacred of all creatures. Such a crime is punishable by death!” And then, without further warning, he drew his sword. I staggered to my feet, drawing my own sword, but my hands were slippery with blood. Immediately, I cursed my foolishness. Why hadn’t I drawn my wand instead? This boy would have no chance against magic!
But it was too late, for he was upon me, his sword flashing and darting like a bolt of lightning. Sparks flew and metal screeched and clanged as we thrust and parried, thrust and parried. Our breathing and grunts filled the air.
My grip kept slipping because of the blood, and George was a better swordsman than I was. It pains me to admit it, but he quickly wore me down, backing me toward the edge of the clearing. Ah, I see you leaning forward now, anticipating the climax of my little tale. Here it is.
I tripped on a tree root. I stumbled, trying to regain my balance, and I dropped my sword. I backed away, reaching for my dagger—but of course it was beside the unicorn! I ducked one slash of George’s sword, but then I saw a second silver flash slicing through the air. For an absurd moment, my mind tried to compensate, and I thought it was the unicorn come back to life, giving that spectacular leap into the fray.
But of course it wasn’t. You already know what it was, don’t you? Of course you do.
It was the fatal blow. It seemed to take an hour to reach me, and I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to believe that my dreams were truly dead, that my heroics meant nothing, that my body would probably be left in the forest to rot without a proper burial.
I remember watching at some distance as my head hit a tree and my body sagged to the ground as if someone had punctured it and let all the air out . . . much like the unicorn had fallen, actually. The next thing I remember was drifting in a dense fog. Was I dead? I rather thought so, but what was this place? I struggled, trying to push aside the fog so I could see. I wanted to see my body; I wanted to see the beautiful, dead unicorn; but above all, I hungered to have revenge on George. The hunger was so intense, I ached with it.
In the next moment, there I was, hovering above my body again. I tried to make it move but could not. At first, I couldn’t comprehend what had happened. My body seemed normal, if distressingly in two pieces, but I felt whole. Then I looked down at myself and was startled by my appearance: grey and washed out. Immediately, I knew the truth. I had become a ghost.
Some minutes had passed, because George was no longer posing triumphantly over my body. He had stooped down beside the unicorn. At first I thought he was paying respects to it, or perhaps collecting my dagger as a trophy, but then I saw he had retrieved my discarded cup. He ran a finger around the rim and touched it to his lips.
A terrible rage gripped me. That was my unicorn, my kill! Again that boy would dare to steal from me, to steal and reap what should have been mine!
I let out a roar and rushed forward. He looked up. The cup fell from his fingers, and he staggered back, a single, condemning smudge of silver gleaming on his lip. His mouth worked silently, leaving him gulping stupidly like a fish. He turned and fled, and I chased him to the very edge of the forest before I tired of his terror.
Oh, it’s a great thing to be a ghost sometimes. I can inspire great terror in people. People respect me again, in death. Or at least they fear me, which is very nearly the same thing.
It’s not, you say? Well, perhaps you’re right. We can debate that another day.
Actually, scaring people has lost some of its appeal by now. It’s very boring being a ghost. Drifting through walls is quite fun at first, but after a century or two, the novelty wears off. Making ladies scream isn’t as fun as it used to be. That’s why I joined the Headless Huntsmen, you know. It reminds me of my old life, when people admired me and my life was filled with danger and excitement.
Yes? Oh, you want to know what became of George. So sorry. I nearly forgot.
George, of course, lost no time in spreading the tale of our fight far and wide. My name was even more reviled than before—although no one remembers me now—while his name has found a place in folklore. Of course, he neglected to mention that he had stalked me through the woods. That he had struck the first blow. That he had executed a weaponless man. That he had tasted of the unicorn’s blood while I had not.
Saint George? Hah!