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Chapter 1: A Dragon Comes to Hogwarts
The small town of Hogsmeade was a peaceful place. Everyone got along with everyone else and there were no troubles. Or, at least it was that way until a dragon moved into town, taking up residence at the very edge of the town. It was most inconvenient, seeing as the dragon moved to the part of the town where their water came from. Without water, the town would die; and, the dragon refused to give them any water; he was much too selfish.
Before the entire village died of dehydration, the king of the area went to the dragon to negotiate terms. The village needed water, and the dragon would not do it without getting something in return. When the negotiating finally ended, the king agreed that the village would provide the dragon with food in exchange for water. That was how it continued over the years; the dragon was provided with food – two animals per day – in exchange for a day's worth of water.
Unfortunately for the town, there came a day when they were unable to provide the dragon with the necessary meal. The king went to the dragon to explain the predicament they were in, only to hear the dragon's suggestion. "If you are unable to give me the meal that is required of you, I will take a substitution on those days," the dragon said.
"Whatever we can do to appease you," the king said, respectfully nodding at the dragon that held the future of their village in his claws, "we will. You are living on the land where our water comes from. The only way that we can survive is if we give you what you want."
"I am glad to hear that," the dragon said.
"What do you need?" the king asked.
"Each day that your village is unable to give me my meal, you must sacrifice one of the children to me," the dragon informed him. "The future of your village relies on being able to provide me with my meal."
The king returned to his castle of Hogwarts with the bad news; one of the village's children had to be sacrificed so that the village could survive another day. "No way!" cried one of his advisors, a man named Frank Longbottom. "How can we even consider sending one of our own children out to their death? And to that monster? We shouldn't even be considering this!"
"We may not have a choice," the king countered.
"I agree with Severus," another advisor, a plump man called Amos, said. "The only way we might ever survive is if we sacrifice one of our own to save the many. It's our only chance."
"And who are we supposed to sacrifice?" one person asked.
It took quite some time for an agreement to be made regarding the dragon's demands about the possible substitutions that could be made when the food quota could not be met; the king's advisors found that the only thing that all of them could agree to was the fact that they wanted to sacrifice the other's child rather than their own. It was a bad situation and was only going to get worse the more dehydrated – and frustrated – the villagers became. With every single one of King Severus's advisors arguing about which child was to become a sacrifice to the dragon, the monarch asked his subjects for advice. The answer to their dilemma came in the form of a blacksmith by the name of James Potter, a man whom the king trusted over the years. "Why not put the names of all the children together," he suggested. "A random drawing will make it completely fair to all parties involved."
Potter's idea was the best option they had – the only option – so that was what they did. All the names of the children in the village were entered into a lottery which would be used to determine who became a sacrifice to the dragon. The lottery was needed at least four times before the village was able to scrounge up enough food for the dragon. Four families were forced to watch as their children were fed to the pale dragon that plagued the village.
Years went by in this fashion. The townspeople of Hogsmeade were careful not to run out of food in fear of losing their children. Not many children were lost during that time; however, when they were, it was a terrible loss for the entire town. Since the dragon first came to reside in town five years ago, eleven children had gone missing; each one more torturous than the last. And the body count was only going to get worse. It did, in fact. The worst thing that could have possibly happened to the town of Hogsmeade made itself known to them.
As soon as the village became aware of the fact that there was not enough food stored away to appease the dragon, the lottery was cast and the sacrifice made known to everyone in the village. When the identity of the sacrifice was revealed, the entire town stood around in shock at the sight of the name. No one expected that. The girl whose name was picked as the impending sacrifice gaped at the sight of her name. She knew what that meant for her. Out of everyone in the village – at least the children – the girl knew what this meant. She was to be sacrificed to the dragon. In order to help the town, she had to die.
"No!" her father yelled. "Not her! Anyone but her."
"It has to be her," someone countered.
"The heir to the throne?"
As her father, the king, hurried away from the grounds where the drawing took place, Princess Apollonia continued to stare at her name in the drawing. This was her fate. Tomorrow morning, she would have to go to the opposite end of the village and sacrifice herself to the dragon. In order for the town would survive, she had no choice but to do this. If she didn't sacrifice herself to the dragon, her village would die of dehydration. The young princess slipped away from the masses and headed to first place she could think of; the blacksmith's shop.
Not many people in the kingdom knew that she was close to the blacksmith. They didn't even know that the princess was the one to suggest the idea of a drawing to decide whom to sacrifice to the dragon. She overheard her father talking about what to do about the dragon with his circle of advisors – Frank Longbottom; Amos Diggory; Amelia Bones; her younger brother, Edgar; Minerva McGonagall; Septima Vector; and Ted Tonks – and went to the one person she felt she could trust with her idea: James Potter. While her father had his circle of advisors, so did Apollonia have her own people that she could turn to.
Everyone in the village, her father especially, was too busy dealing with the ramifications of the drawing's results. No one would ever notice that the prospective sacrifice was disappearing for the night to ask James Potter for some advice. He was the one that the princess trusted the most, for he was one of only a very few people to treat the princess with respect, but also treat her like something other than the kingdom's princess.
Apollonia knocked on the door to the man's workshop before entering the Potter territory and taking a seat. She didn't even know if he left the grounds of Hogwarts and returned home. The princess sat there for awhile before hearing a crackling noise. Looking up, the Hogwarts princess saw a kid with messy black hair and bright green eyes enter the room. "Hello Harry," she said, greeting her childhood friend; the boy who was like a brother to her.
"Sabra," he replied, walking over to give her a hug.
"Why do you insist on calling me that?" the princess asked.
"Habit," he shrugged. "So, why are you here?"
"I wanted to talk to your dad about something," Apollonia informed him. Her friend looked at her in confusion. It appeared as if Harry was not at the drawing. Chances were that his father wasn't at the drawing either. "The drawing was done a little while ago and I was chosen as the sacrifice."
"No!" Harry exclaimed.
"Father is already freaking out," the princess said.
"Not all that surprising," he said. "He'd do anything to protect you."
"But, how fair is that?" the young princess complained. "There have been eleven people before me who have been fed to the dragon." Many of them were actually people that she and Harry had known. Apollonia remembered when Amos Diggory's son, Cedric, was sacrificed to the dragon three years ago. That was the closest it came to hitting the castle. "Dean Thomas; Zacharias Smith; Cho Chang; Katie Bell; Marietta Edgecombe; Adrian Pucey; Marcus Flint; Demzela Robins; Hannah Abbott; Natalie MacDonald; Cedric Diggory; how would their parents feel if I was saved and they weren't?"
Harry shook his head. "You're too noble for your own good."
"I have to be," Apollonia said. "It was drilled into me."
"Heir to the throne nonsense?" Harry asked.
"Of course," she replied. "Or at least it was." The lottery's result meant that there would no longer be an heir to the throne. After tomorrow morning, the kingdom would change in a way that it would never be able to recover. "I don't know what's going to happen after tomorrow."
"So you're really going to sacrifice yourself to the dragon?"
Apollonia nodded. "I have to," she replied.
The following morning came and the young princess was preparing herself for the trek down to the lake. She would give herself over to the dragon and ensure that the village was safe for another day. It was her duty as the princess to make sure that the people she cared about – the people she loved; her father; Harry; James – were safe from the savage beast that was intent on destroying the place she loved so much. After slipping back into the castle, there were whispers that Father had gone to see the dragon, begging to spare her life. The princess didn't care what the result of that bargain was; she would see this through to the end. No matter what her father wanted, Apollonia would give her life to protect the people she loved.
The time came for the daily sacrifice and the princess found that things did not go as they normally did. In years past, the sacrifice came at the beginning of the day at precisely ten o'clock. It occurred without fail. However, today was different. She was the sacrifice, so there was no way that Father would even consider approaching the dragon. He would rather die of dehydration than watch his daughter die. Apollonia didn't care. No matter what her father wanted, the princess would do everything in her power to protect the village.
Apollonia almost got out of the castle before her father caught her. The king glared at her. "And where do you think you're going, young lady?" he questioned of the young princess.
"I'm going to see the dragon," she snapped.
"You most certainly are not!" he warned.
"Yes I am!" she screamed. "My name was picked from the lottery and I will do what I must in order to protect the village. So what if I die? At least I'll have sacrificed myself in order to keep you safe." With that, Apollonia stormed away from her father, heading down to where the dragon set up its nest. It's time. It's time for me to go. She was on the path to her doom. This was the last walk that she would ever take. The dragon would kill her and that would be it.
As she set foot in Hogsmeade, the princess began to tremble violently. While she may have accepted her fate, it didn't mean that she wasn't still scared. There had never been an instance in which she went near the dragon. Not really. She had seen him from a distance on a number of occasions, but it was never done up close. And with good reason, she supposed. The dragon she was faced with was a horrible-looking creature with pale, almost translucent scales. He would have been a rather beautiful creature if not for the fact that there was a menacing red tinge – possibly blood – staining the scales. It creeped her out.
The dragon snarled at her. "You are the princess?"
Apollonia nodded faintly. "I am."
The dragon got ready to munch down on her when a sword was swung against the fearsome beast. Apollonia looked over to see a ginger-haired man with dark blue eyes brandishing the sword. "Go!" he yelled.
"No, I can't," she said. "I want to help."
"Sabra, no!" a voice yelled.
Harry, she thought. It could only be Harry, hiding under his invisibility cloak, who said that. Harry was the only one who ever called the princess by that name. Well, still. James and his friends did so when she was younger. That was how Harry got in the habit of calling her Sabra. Not wanting the dragon to find Harry, the girl made no mention of Harry's appearance. She simply looked at the ginger-haired stranger. "This dragon has plagued my village for the better part of five years. I want him destroyed, and I want to help."
"That seems obvious," the stranger said.
"Help me then!" the princess screamed, emerald eyes boring into the mysterious stranger who came to her rescue. "Damsel-in-distress I am not, but there in no way that I can ever go up against a dragon." Dragons were difficult to kill. To slay one would take a truly powerful warrior, of which Apollonia was most certainly not; the most she could do was defend herself.
"Stand back for a moment," the man ordered.
The princess did as she was told and stepped back a few paces, to where she was sure her brother in all but blood was standing. "Harry, why did you come?" she asked him.
"Someone had to watch out for you," Harry countered.
"I could take care of myself," Apollonia assured him.
"And yet you ran off, intending to feed yourself to a dragon," Harry pointed out. "You are aware that you could have been killed if not for that stranger showing up. The kingdom would have lost its princess, you know. Even if you saved the town for another day, none of them would have been in any state to continue protecting the village. Your father would rather die than live in a world without you. I'm sure that many other people would feel the same way."
"You mean you?" she asked.
"Of course!" Harry exclaimed. "Why do you think I followed you?"
Apollonia shrugged. "My father could have sent you."
"He doesn't even know that I know," Harry assured her.
No kidding, the princess thought. Father would never let you go anywhere near this. And I'm pretty sure that James wouldn't either. There was a reason that Apollonia had to explain to her friend that she was chosen as the day's daily sacrifice to the dragon; James didn't tell him. "Harry, you came to the dragon's nest. You do realize that you could have been eaten as well, right?" The both of them could have died, if not for the appearance of this mysterious stranger.
"Princess!" the stranger called. "If you want to help, get over here!"
Apollonia turned away from her brother in all but blood to look at the mysterious stranger. For the last five years, this dragon plagued her village. And here came the princess's chance to get back at the dragon for all that he did. "What do I need to do?" she asked.
"Restrain him!" he called.
The young princess searched for something she could use to restrain the horrible creature that plagued her village for the last five years and killed eleven children before her. Finally, the girl spotted a rope, which appeared in front of where Harry was standing. Thank you, Harry, she thought as she grabbed the rope and tossed it around the dragon's neck. The dragon snarled at her and tried to attack her; however, the stranger defended Apollonia while she made sure that the rope was tightly secured around the beast's neck. "It's secure," she replied.
"Good," the figure said. "We're going up to the castle."
And so, Apollonia returned to the castle, leading the subdued dragon; the man who saved her; and Harry, who was under cover of his Invisibility Cloak during their trip, right along with her. It was an odd group, not something the princess expected. "Thank you for saving me."
"It was my pleasure to save the fair maiden," he replied.
Apollonia did all she could to hold back a snicker. Peals of laughter threatened to burst out, especially knowing that no one dared to address her in such a way. Everyone in the kingdom, with the exception of Harry, addressed her by the title of princess. Harry was the closest thing she had to a friend, and he was the only one Apollonia permitted to ignore her title. And, if Harry was visible, the princess was sure that he would surely be laughing as well.
When the group reached the castle, Apollonia saw her father, his circle of advisors, and James Potter standing out on the grounds. Had the princess not known that Harry followed her to the dragon's nest, she would have been confused as to why his father was standing there. The king hurried down. "Do you have any idea how worried I was?" he raged. "The kingdom would have been lost without its princess, and you go down to sacrifice yourself to the dragon."
"It was the right thing to do," she warned. "And I'm not dead!"
"By a stroke of luck," the king screeched.
Whether that was true or not, Apollonia did not want to hear the man berate her for the decision she made. She did what she thought was right, and was able to escape becoming the dragon's meal when this mysterious stranger happened upon her. For that, the princess was extremely grateful. Before Apollonia could say anything, her mystery savior stepped in. "Your village has been saved," he pointed out. "You should be thanking your daughter."
"What she did was dangerous and reckless," Father scoffed.
The princess scoffed and glared at her father. "We have a chance to destroy the dragon because of me!" she yelled. "Don't you realize what that means? No more parents have to say goodbye to their children." Why couldn't her father see that what she did was smart? As dangerous as it was for her to even go up there, it turned out to be a good thing. It was thanks to her willingness to give up her life for the greater good in which no others parents would have to deal with the loss of one of their children. The dragon would be slayed and their village safe.
"It was at the risk of your own life!" her father sneered.
"And if people didn't take risks, nothing would ever change!" the girl raged. "Had I not gone out there, we'd still be feeding that stupid dragon. Because of what I did, that's no longer an issue." The princess nudged Harry. "Help me out here. He might listen if you're there to back me up."
"Like that would happen," he muttered.
"It's worth a shot," she countered.
"I guess," he shrugged.
As Harry stepped forward to defend her actions, a pair of gemstone-colored eyed glanced over at the stranger who came to her rescue. It was because of the ginger-haired man standing between her and the dragon that the princess was spared from the fate of becoming a dragon's lunch. She would be forever grateful to her for his well-timed appearance in her life. Had he not, the village would slowly crumble following her death. "Princess," the man said, bowing slightly.
The princess grunted. This was the reason she had been so close to Harry over the years, because he was the only person other than his father to ignore her title. It was not permitted to happen again. "Call me Apollonia, sir."
"Or Sabra perhaps?" he asked with a grin.
Oh, she was going to get Harry for that; calling out to her while she was getting ready to help her savior slay the dragon. He was the only one who ever called her that, who ever felt the need to address her as something other than Apollonia or Princess. "It's better than princess. And you are?"
"George Weasley," he said, bowing again.
Apollonia waved it off. "No need to bow. I might be the princess, but there is no need to treat me as such." She pointed over to where Harry was conversing with her father. "Harry over there doesn't."
"I see," George said.
"So that's how you and Daddy met?" a girl asked.
Apollonia nodded, looking down at the little redheaded girl that was her daughter. "Yes, that's how your father and I met. Now, it's time for you to go to bed," she warned.
"No buts. It's bedtime."
Once her daughter was settled down, she found that her husband was learning against the doorframe. "You know there will eventually come a time when she realizes that the story she was told is a lie," he said.
"It's not a complete lie," Apollonia argued. "Perhaps I embellished things a little bit, but the basic story is still there. Besides, it's not as if I could tell her that Malfoy was about ready to kill me when you swooped in to save the day. If I recall, that's how you were finally able to admit that you loved me."
"Not the point, princess."
"And that is exactly the reason I went with the idea of the princess being rescued from the dragon," Apollonia reminded him. The whole idea fit far too well for Apollonia to ever ignore. "And, just so you know George; I plan on telling her the truth once she's old enough to understand the true impact that my kidnapping had on the world. Even Dad had no idea what happened and he was a Death Eater." Apollonia began shakily violently.
In that moment, George's arms wrapped around her. "Stop thinking about what happened to you!" he ordered. "You know what happens when you start thinking about that."
"I know. It's just…"
George silenced her. "Just stop thinking about it, princess. The more you think about what that ferret planned, the worse it's going to get. You have to remember that I was able to stop it. Malfoy's weird obsession with you has been going on since your fourth year. He was eventually going to try something. Harry and I were just lucky that Zabini gave us a tip-off right when it was happening. Otherwise, you might not be here," he reminded his trembling wife. "But, focus on the good things. That should help you get over what happened."
Apollonia nodded shakily. "I'll try," she agreed. But, the truth was she didn't know she was even capable of doing so. Ever since Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy seemed obsessed with her. Whereas the Malfoy heir completely despised her brother, the same could not be said for her. Despite the fact that she and Harry were siblings, Malfoy seemed intent on pursuing her. She never understood why, nor did she ever want to know. In any case, there was no way her father would ever let such a thing happen. Yet, somehow he was able to kidnap her. And, though George was able to rescue her – culminating in confessing his feelings for her – and it occurred a long time ago, Apollonia still had nightmares about the experience. Even if the kidnapping led to George confessing his feelings for her, it was still a horrible time for her. She needed to move on from what happened all those years ago; she needed to remember that Malfoy was gone.
I need to just get on with my life, she thought. There's no way that I can continue to dwell on this. And she wouldn't. From this moment on, she would never think of or speak of the ferret known as Draco Malfoy.
Author's note: This a oneshot that just sort of popped into my head as I was plotting out a few of my other stories. I'll eventually get around to writing a story explaining what actually happened, though I'm not sure when that's going to happen.
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