Chapter 15 : Loving the Dragon
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Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. If I did, I’d have Harry thwart Voldie by wearing earmuffs and pulling out a mandrake. So until then, it’s not mine.
Loving the Dragon
“I am Bahamut,” a deep voice rumbled, shaking the ground. “And I am here to test your worthiness.”
The glow surrounding the great dragon subsided, leaving the Platinum Dragon before the quavering witch and wizard. Draco clutched Hermione close to him, feeling her shaking body against his own. He gulped as he stared up at his namesake. The dragon looked powerful beyond any he had ever seen before.
“I am Bahamut,” the dragon repeated. “I shall judge if you shall become a true Summoner. If you pass, I shall let you return to your world unscathed. If you fail, I shall be forced into bringing down the wrath of the heavens.” Draco and Hermione nodded mutely, unsure of what to say or do. Draco racked his memory to see if his father or aunt had spoken at all about this test the dragon kept speaking of. He could not, however, remember anything remotely close to the experience he and Hermione were going through at the moment. He glanced down at her, clutching her protectively. She looked up at him, fear and worry etched in her face, but a fierce determination and courage filled her eyes. An unspoken agreement was reached between them and they chose not to speak, hoping the dragon would continue and explain himself some more.
They were not disappointed as a moment later the dragon continued his rumbling speech. “I have been watching you ever since you entered my domain. It is true that you both possess the blood of Summoners past, but that alone does not mean you can practice this long forgotten art,” the dragon thundered on. The clouds had settled down slightly, though they continued to curl around Bahamut’s impressive form. The wind too had not given up in its relentless attempts to knock them over.
“Summoner-to-Be Hermione Granger,” Bahamut roared, causing Hermione to give a small squeak of surprise. “Set forward to be judged.” She made to move forward, but Draco would not let her. He continued to hold on to her tightly, protecting her as best he could.
“No!” he called out, in spite of himself. His eyes widened at the foolishness of his action, but for some reason continued to hold on to Hermione.
“No?” the dragon responded bemusedly. His nostrils flared and smoke curled out, only to be swept away in the gale worthy winds. “And who are you, Summoner-to-Be Draco Malfoy, to say no to the King of the Dragons?”
Draco did not have a response, all courage he fleetingly possessed gone from his body. He thought he saw the dragon smirk, but shook that thought from his mind. Dragons could not smirk.
“Let go of her and let her be judged,” the dragon bellowed. Draco complied immediately, releasing Hermione from his grip. “Step forward,” Bahamut commanded once more.
Trembling, Hermione tentatively stepped away from Draco and moved forward to meet the dragon. She stood before him, drawing herself up to her full height and nodded once to herself. She stopped her trembling, and courageously met the dragon’s hard stare.
The dragon chuckled, sending reverberations throughout the ground. The dragon bent his long neck, lowering it towards the ground. He stopped when he was level with Hermione. She licked her lips and tried to swallow against her dry mouth.
Draco balled his hands into fists, fingernails digging into his palms, cutting into his pale skin. He clenched harder to stop himself from running forwards and pulling Hermione to safety, away from the looming dragon.
Hermione looked deep into the dragon’s dark eyes. They were kind, a wisdom filling them of millennia’s past. She spared a glance for his powerful body, the scales shining so brightly in the sun’s light that it almost hurt to look at them. There was a noble air about the dragon that commanded respect and asserted his authority over all creatures.
Even more overpowering than the noble air, was the manner of judiciousness that was exuding from him. She swallowed her fear at once, knowing that the judge before her was a kind and fair being, not prone to violence.
“Summoner-to-Be Hermione Granger, you stand before me a courageous young woman,” the great dragon began. “You have a kind and good heart. You help others who are in need, without thoughts of how it may benefit you in the long run. You possess a wisdom beyond your years, as well as your kind. I pride this in you, and I find you to be a worthy Summoner. I shall lend you my powers, should you need them. You may pass, Summoner.”
The dragon raised its long neck and beckoned for her to move behind him. With a glance at Draco standing behind her, she moved to where the dragon had indicated. She turned to watch, as the King of the Dragons summoned Draco forward as she had just been.
“Summoner-to-Be Draco Malfoy, step forward and receive your judgment,” commanded the dragon once more. Draco half nodded to himself, before striding forwards as Hermione had done a few moments earlier. Again the dragon lowered its long neck, so he was face to face with Draco.
“Summoner-to-Be Draco Malfoy, you stand before me a cunning young man,” Bahamut began, as he had with Hermione. Draco sensed however, an edge to his voice that had not been there when he was judging Hermione. He ignored it however, and stood tall before the dragon, unwilling to show any sign that may be taken as weakness.
“Your life has not been filled with kindness as you tormented and bullied others in your youth,” Bahamut started. Draco resisted the urge to cry out and let the dragon continue. “I am fair and judicious, so I was prepared to let your past doings be left as young boyish antics. However,” the dragon paused, his large eyes delving deep into Draco. Draco resisted the urge to shudder, being scrutinized so. After what seemed like an eternity, the dragon resumed his judgment. “Your actions today have proven otherwise. As I said earlier, it is not a name that shows the value of a person, it is the actions and choices that person chooses to make.”
Draco’s eyes widened as he saw the path the King of the Dragons’ judgment was taking. He wanted to turn and run, but found himself frozen in fear and anticipation.
“At every chance you got, you threw your name about, as though it had some meaning in this world. You chose to recoil from helping others and scoffed at what you deemed meaningless tasks, too unimportant for someone of your stature to be seen doing. It was only by the coaxing of a truly caring person that you carried out these menial tasks. If you were left to your own accord, you would have continued on, leaving the tasks behind for someone of less importance to do.” Draco reprimanded himself for his earlier actions, and his suggestion that he and Hermione just leave the old man. It was however, too late to change the past, as he stood before the large dragon.
“What do you have to say for you actions Summoner-to-Be Draco Malfoy?” the great dragon questioned, looking meaningfully at the small human before him. “What can you say to defend yourself.”
Draco stood silently before the dragon. What could he say? The dragon would know if he lied, Draco was sure of it. He could think of nothing in which he could defend himself with, nothing that the King of the Dragons would accept anyways. Could he apologize for his actions? Would that work? But Draco shook that thought away immediately. Despite whatever the dragon may say about names, there were certain things Draco could not bring himself to do. Apologizing just wasn’t in the Malfoy nature…unless it was to the Dark Lord of course. But Draco would not make a fool of himself before this dragon.
“Nothing, I can say nothing,” Draco said at last, looking up at the dragon defiantly.
“Then I have decided,” proclaimed the dragon, straightening his neck once more. “I, Bahamut, King of the Dragons, find you, Summoner-to-Be Draco Malfoy, to be unworthy of the Summoning arts. I shall call upon the powers of the heavens to strike you down in the Light of Judgment.”
The Platinum Dragon stretched his neck as long as it would go, towards the sky. He unfurled his wings, and clasped his talons together. The skies darkened and the clouds swirled viciously once more. The lightning sparked again and the winds howled against the mountain.
Draco braced himself for what was to come, ripping his gaze from the mighty dragon to look over at Hermione one last time. He swallowed hard, trying to get rid of a lump that was forming in his throat. Tears formed in his eyes and he tried to convince himself that it was the storm raging around him that caused them, that it was the wind whipping and biting at his face. But it was no use; he couldn’t lie to himself at the very end.
The heavens opened up, and a bright light formed in the hole in the sky. Draco took his gaze from Hermione, staring up at his fate instead. The beam focused, and he braced himself for what was to come. It shot down like a lightning blot, racing towards Draco. He shut his eyes tight against the bright light, waiting for the judgment to reach him.
It never came. Instead he felt a thud against his side, and he was falling sideways, pushed down to the ground. His eyes flew open, finding Hermione’s body lying on the ground in his place. A howl of rage escaped his lips and he raced over to her unmoving body. He held her in his arms, looking down at her peaceful face, as though she were sleeping.
Tears falling freely down his face, Draco turned his rage upon the dragon before him. “How…you killed her!” he yelled over the storm around him. He clutched her still body to his chest. “Bring her back, she wasn’t supposed to die!”
Bahamut looked at him thoughtfully. “And why should I do something like that?” the dragon queried, looking at Draco with great interest.
“Because…because you can!” Draco raged, holding her in his arms. He stood up, Hermione’s frail body draped across him like a rag doll. “You have the power to…she wasn’t supposed to receive the light…it was for me! She was supposed to go back to our world, and live as a Summoner. You granted her your power!”
Bahamut nodded slowly, saying nothing. Furious at the dragon’s casual demeanor, Draco continued. “I was the one who should have been hit; I should be the one lying motionless! I’ll…I’ll trade places with her,” Draco sobbed desperately, all pretences of proper decorum left far behind. “Take me instead of her.”
“Again…why should I do such a thing?” intoned the King of the Dragons, almost lazily.
“Because…because I love her!” Draco shouted into the winds. The dragon smiled and then nodded. There was a thundering crack and a brilliant light, shining so furiously that it put everything else before it to shame.
Draco closed his eyes, holding Hermione close to him. The wind continued to roar around them, and the clouds shifted from their position around the Platinum Dragon to encompass the two humans instead. Everything went cold and there was another loud crack as the world began to dissolve before Draco.
“Congratulations,” Bahamut’s voice boomed through the mists. “You have proved your worthiness, Summoner Draco Malfoy. I shall lend you my power, should you need it.” Draco stared dumbly into the mists before him. Then he felt something move against his chest. Looking down, he found Hermione stirring, her eyes fluttering open.
“I am sending you and your love back to your world now,” the dragon said faintly. “Always remember that it is our actions that shape who we are, not our names…” With one last resounding crack, Mount Celestia dissolved before them in a blinding flash of light.
When Draco’s vision returned to him, he saw that they were back in his aunt’s study. Hermione still was wrapped in his arms, but to his utter joy and amazement, her eyes were wide open and she was looking at him intensely.
“Hermione,” he whispered tenderly. Without saying another word he leaned his head in, pressing his lips atop of hers gently. To his surprise, she closed her eyes and kissed him back, softly. He held her closer, deepening the kiss, tangling a hand in her hair. He poured all the love and passion he could into that single kiss, never wanting to stop.
Too soon the lovers pulled from each other, looking deeply into the other’s eyes. Hermione sighed contently, reaching up and brushing back a lock of Draco’s hair that had fallen out of place. She then rested her head against his chest, placing her hand gently upon his shoulder.
Draco looked down at her in his arms and whispered quietly, “I love you Hermione.”
She looked up at him, a small smile gracing her lips. Pulling herself up so she could murmur something into his ear. When she finished, Draco cupped her chin, turning her towards him. Smirking slightly, he leaned in close, their noses touching. He pressed his lips to hers again, her words echoing through his mind.
I love you too, my Dragon.
A/N: Okay. There it is. THE LAST CHAPTER! *parties* I have never been more happy finishing a fanfic…and that’s only because I hated writing this so very much. It was for the long ago started Out Of Your Realm challenge by timeturner. So, please, I’d love to hear how you thought I did.
And maybe if I’m feeling super nice I’ll write an epilogue. Though don’t hold your breath, it took me over a year to post chapter thirteen.