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Chapter 14 : Waterstriker
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“Right on the beach, eh?” asked Harry as he stood in the sand, watching the waves roll in. Ron gazed alongside him, while Narcissa, Hermione, and Eve peered at a map given to them by Oscar.
“Yeah,” replied Ron. “Pretty neat, I think. That way, you could go for a swim whenever you want, ice skating in winter...”
“And there is also fishing,” added Hermione absently. Ron frowned thoughtfully.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “Fishing. The Muggle past time.”
“Wizards don't fish?” asked Harry curiously.
“Well, some do,” answered Ron. “But not many. After all, what do you need fishing for, when there are brooms to fly?”
“Typical words from a Quidditch fanatic,” muttered Hermione, causing Harry and Ron to glower at her. “Well, it's true,” she said. Ron snorted in disgust.
“Are we continuing along the coast, then?” inquired Harry, looking at Eve. She nodded.
“A little further along the shore, then we change to the south, near Spain. We head southeast, to Italy, then cross the Ionian Sea to Greece,” explained Eve.
“One look at a map, and she knows her way around the world...” commented Ron. The dragon looked at him. “Then again,” he said quickly, flushing, “it's more than I could come up with.” He looked to Harry, who shrugged.
“Ron, you can be sooo critical...” Hermione sighed. “Anyway, that route seems fair enough to me. I am disappointed that we won't be able to do a bit of sightseeing on the way.”
“You seem very hard-pressed to pass up an opportunity to learn,” remarked Narcissa. “Not that that is truly a bad thing....in any case, I'm all for it.”
“Sounds like a plan,” said Harry.
“It sounds sounds like we've got a long way to go, too...” muttered Ron mournfully.
“We better get flying then,” stated Harry. He spread his arms, and with a burst of fire...
* * *
“There's the Ligurian Sea,” commented Hermione, after flying for several hours. “We're making good progress.”
“Can't we take a break, please?” begged Ron. “We missed Bordo, went straight past Tou-thingy, and ignored Marsville. Are we getting anything to eat?”
“It's Bordeaux, Toulouse and Marseille, and we'll eat in Italy, Ron,” Hermione called impatiently. “Just hold on for a while longer.”
“How long is a while?” asked Ron. “I may not survive that long.”
“We may not survive anyway,” said Narcissa seriously.
“Why's that?” demanded Ron.
“Look ahead,” she answered, and they all peered into the distance. There was a massive bank of storm clouds, and the seas were very choppy. And in the midst of the chaos...
“Oh no,” groaned Ron, “not another...”
“What is that?” asked Harry. He could talk because this time, he wasn't in his phoenix shape. Instead, he was soaring along with a ring of fire hovering around his waist. A very cool breeze blew off the water, but he wasn't bothered by it, due to the warmth of his elemental power.
“Officially, it's known as an Italian Stormwyrm,” Hermione said, squinting. “But it is also called a Waterstriker.”
“And there's no chance of sneaking past?” Ron inquired hopefully.
“Without a lengthy detour, no,” replied Hermione.
“Hermione,” said Harry sharply, “you're the aquamancer. You'll have to fight it.”
“No,” she snapped. “I'm not battling that monster. I'll wind up dead.”
“Well, am I supposed to fight it?” he asked. “I'm a pyromancer. I work with fire, and water is sort of a weakness of fire, remember?”
“Well,” she spoke in an irritated tone, “you have a better chance than I do. I saw you kill that dragon. I saw you harness that power inside.”
“Hermione,” said Harry, exasperated, “we're talking about a Stormwyrm here. Water against fire! The laws of nature are against me in this one!”
“You have the Legacy,” she pointed out. “It shouldn't be too difficult for you.”
Harry frowned. “I'm not sure I trust myself with something of this size...” he said uncertainly. “And since this is your main element, I'm sure you're much better at it, right?”
“Er, anytime, you two...” urged Ron from behind them. “We've got major trouble approaching fast, you know!”
“Oh, I know that!” she snapped. “But there must be some way...”
“If we all work together,” suggested Ron, “we may be able to take it down.”
“Work together,” muttered Harry. “Right.”
“It is coming this way,” announced Eve. “If you have any ideas, now is the time to employ them.”
“Let's do this,” said Harry, determined. They agreed, and soared toward the dragon approaching them.
Harry didn't hesitate in hurling a large ball of fire at its snout. The flames landed, and the beast jerked its head, then hissed.
“You just made it mad, Harry,” said Ron, launching a stream of sand into the dragon's eyes. “Hermione, slip past it!”
She tried to duck beneath it, but the Waterstriker's thrashing body put her in grave danger of being knocked out of the air. Harry, concerned for her safety, tried to think of a way to protect her. An entity emerged within his mind.
HARRY POTTER, said Ravenclaw's voice. YOU MUST HAMPER THAT DRAGON'S STRUGGLES. ENSNARE IT SOMEHOW.
Oh, thought Harry. A very helpful suggestion. But do you mind telling me how?
CONTAIN IT, she responded. SURROUND IT WITH MATERIAL.
With fire? wondered Harry.
ANY MATERIAL WILL DO, piped up Hufflepuff.
Okay...thought Harry. He held out one hand, and raised the other, and concentrated. The tumultous waters below surged in response, and the very air around them seemed to stir.
“Er, Harry,” yelled Ron, nervousness clear in his voice, “I hope you're the one doing that...”
“Don't worry, Ron,” Harry called back. “I have an idea.”
“It better be a good one,” Ron shouted. “Or this is where the trip ends.”
Harry frowned at this, but said nothing more. Come, he thought. Come to me. Slowly, he gathered water to his right hand, while bringing air to his left. He brought his hands together, and abruptly, a mass of water rose from the sea. Lifting up, it dripped and seethed, straining to be free, but unable due to the magical force which compelled it to hold its shape. It approached the dragon from one side, while on the other side, Harry pummeled the Stormwyrm with air to keep it from escaping. He curled his right hand around thin air, and the water wrapped itself around the dragon like a liquid blanket. Within moments, however, the dragon kicked through, clawing the 'blanket' apart. Squalling, it turned and glared viciously at Harry and his friends.
“It isn't working!” Ron hollered. “Think of something else!” He had to throw himself sideways to avoid a stream of sea-fire. “And do it quick!”
“Just hold on!” Harry roared. He was sure it could work, if he did it right...Again, he raised a quantity of water; but instead of hammering at the dragon with air using his left, he slowly closed his fingers, causing the air to condense into a shimmering chunk of atmosphere. He braced himself, then clapped his hands together. The air and water slammed against the dragon, trapping it. Shrieking, the Stormwyrm fought to break loose, but it failed. Its hind legs kicked through the water, but as soon as it withdrew, the water closed over it once more. One paw scratched at the roiling pack of air, but was unable to breach it.
Harry grinned triumphantly, but the dragons efforts redoubled, and Harry realized that it wouldn't be easy to hold the dragon. Especially when his turn came to pass the beast...
“Hermione!” he cried. “Do something!”
“Like what?” she asked. “You seem to be holding your own with it!”
Harry turned and glared at his lover. “Yes,” he snapped, “I'm holding the great struggling brute, but for how long? As soon as I let go or lose too much focus, it'll get free. You try flying past an angry dragon and still keep your concentration!”
“Okay, okay,” she said. She raised her hands and aimed them at the dragon. An expression of great concentration came on her face...
Glancing at the Waterstriker, Harry saw a thick layer of ice form on its snout. The ice spread across its face, creeping down its neck, slowing the dragons movements. He heard a muffled shriek, and was inwardly thankful that it's jaws were iced shut, or it might have tried to burn them. Within moments, the dragon was completely encased in iced. Peering closer, Harry could see the ice shuddering at the monster within tried to shake itself loose. For a moment, it hung there. Then, Harry released the water and air around it. Amid the fall of water and whoosh of freed air, the miniature glacier plunged into the sea below.
“Good riddance,” muttered Harry, watching it sink beneath the surface.
“Good work, Hermione!” shouted Ron. “Now come on!” They all surged forward, speeding past the spot where the dragon had fallen. Harry couldn't help but grin as the thought sank in.
They beat the Stormwyrm!
A rushing sound interrupted his musing. Looking back, Harry stared in disbelief as the sea erupted, thrown skyward by flailing limbs. Flailing limbs...? He gazed at the dark mass straining to break free of the water. Ice splinters pierced the air, as more chunks emerged to bob wildly on the surface of the churning waters. Slowly, the dragon lifted into the air, flapping its wings heavily. As water sprayed all over, the dragon finally rose from the water, climbing steadily into the air. Then...it caught sight of them. With a roar it lunged at Ron, who was closest one to it.
“RON!” bellowed Harry.
His friend had already seen the approaching danger. Curling into a ball, he fell back, rolling through the air. The beasts snout barely missed him, and Ron whirled along its neck. Bouncing off the dragon's shoulder, he landed on its back. “Go!” he shouted. “Get to safety!”
Harry hesitated, unsure. Hermione screamed back, “You can't do it, Ron! It's too dangerous!” She turned to Harry. “You tell him!”
“Like he'd listen to me,” Harry responded, watching Ron cling to the winged serpent's scaly hide.
“He might,” insisted Hermione. She gasped as the dragon twisted its head around. Its maw opened, and even over the thundering downpour of rain, Harry heard the roar of oncoming flames.
“RON!” he bellowed. “DODGE!”
Ron didn't waste a single second. He leaped from his perch on the Stormwyrm's spine, diving over it's side. He caught its arm with a line of webbing, and swung under, and back up on its other side. From there, he continued to swing back and forth, while the beast furiously twisted around in an effort to catch the annoying human.
Harry stared in disbelief, Hermione breathing hard beside him. Glancing back, he saw Narcissa floating calmly a short distance away, a not-quite-detached expression on her face. Eve observed Ron's antics intently.
Hermione gave a shriek, pulling Harry's attention back to Ron and the Waterstriker. Ron had apparently fallen from the monster, and was now falling.
“He'll catch himself,” Harry muttered, hoping very much that he was right. He let out a sigh of relief as Ron snagged the Stormwyrm's rough belly with a web. Hanging upside down, Ron waved at them.
“What're you waiting for?” he shouted. “Just go! I can handle it! I've got it under-” His words were cut off as the dragon's tail swung down and forward. It scored a direct hit. Ron was sent tumbling helplessly up - and over - his friends.
“Harry! Catch!” Ron fired a line of silken material, and Harry reached out automatically, his fingers closing to grasp the sticky rope. Ron fell, then swung back and forth like a pendulum, battered about by the wind. Harry allowed Gryffindor's strength to fill him in order to keep a hold on Ron's lifeline, as it were.
But things weren't over yet. The dragon, now even more enraged, flew at Hermione. Its jaws snapped hungrily in anticipation of her weak flesh.
Hermione tried to dodge the rapidly approaching snout, and just barely avoided it. Unfortunately, the dragon chose to swipe at her with its paw as well. She was snagged by its claws, and she spun through the air. With a lurch and a swing, the pack slipped from her shoulders. She tried to grab it, but missed.
“NO!” she shrieked as the pack fell. Harry looked at it, and his stomach seemed to fall with the descending bag.
“Ron!” he yelled. “Get in the air! I have to catch the bag!” Without waiting for a response, he yanked the rope of web upward, causing Ron to rise. Then, Harry dived for the backpack containing what he had been told was the world's only hope.
Putting on a burst of speed, Harry shot straight at it. He twisted, so that he missed the dragon, and slid past it, straining for the bag. The dragon saw him. Roaring, it turned and swung its tail in an attempt to knock him from the air.
“Oh no you don't,” grunted Harry, and he tapped into his inner fire. He made a blade with his hand, and swung it. Suddenly, a giant blade of fire appeared, flying...and it sliced off the last third of the dragon's tail. The severed tail plummeted into the water below.
“Well done, Harry!” shouted Ron, but Harry paid no attention, as he raced toward the still-dropping bag. He reached out, his fingers grazing the rough fabric.
“Got you!” he growled as his fingers caught hold. The pack jerked to a halt, and being upside down, the sudden stop freed the egg, allowing it to continue the fall.
Harry threw himself downward, rolled beneath the egg, and let it hit his stomach. He then stopped himself, hovering in the air.
“Whew,” he murmured. “That was close.” he slipped the egg back into the bag, then ascended to join Hermione. “Here you go,” he said, handing the backpack back to her. She was about to take it, when he paused.
“What's wrong?” she asked.
“I'm not sure,” he responded. He drew the pack closer. He seemed to feel it all over. “I think...” he muttered, “I think it's vibrating.”
Hermione ripped open the pack, and peered at the egg. She gasped. “Harry!” she squealed. “Harry, it's hatching! The egg is hatching!”
“What?” he exclaimed. “Are you sure?”
“Well, I think that's what it means when there's a very fine crack on it,” she said. “And it's shaking slightly.”
“Oh no,” Harry murmured. “We have to get it somewhere safe!”
She thought for a moment. “I can only think of one place,” she said.
Harry stared at her. “No,” he said, “you don't mean...”
“Oscar's cottage,” she finished for him. “It's the best place. And we have a few hours before the baby emerges, so we have that on our side.”
“That may be all we have on our side,” remarked Harry.
...roars of fury, as though a large beast were enraged. Harry could feel desperation pounding through his system.
“Harry!” cried Hermione. “It's coming! We have to get to shelter NOW!”
Harry looked at the blue monster struggling before them.
“We might not make it...” said Harry...
He was abruptly reminded of his dream. Well, he thought, It told me the middle, but not the beginning...and it definitely didn't reveal the end!
Suddenly, there was a flash of lightning, illuminating Harry and Hermione. The dragon noticed them, and lashed out, spinning and lunging. Harry saw it going straight for Hermione, and acted.
He shoved her out of the way, then made a bubble of golden light appear around himself, just in time to prevent the beasts jaws from snapping shut around him. Harry felt great strain on the shield, and he looked at Hermione, who was staring at him in horror. She tried to come to him, but Narcissa appeared, grabbing and restraining her. Harry gazed at her.
“Go!” he shouted. “Go! NOW!”
Hermione struggled against Narcissa, fighting frantically to get to Harry.
“Narcissa,” said Harry, “take Hermione, and get out of here.” Narcissa nodded, pursing her lips grimly, and attempted to haul the girl away. But Hermione strained back toward Harry with a strength he hadn't known she possessed.
“Harry, no.” Hermione protested, her eyes sparkling in the lightning with tears. “I can't leave you...”
“Hermione,” he snapped desperately, “I'll be fine. I'll catch up. Go!”
“I'll wait,” she insisted, but he shook his head.
“No time,” he spat. “Leave! Take the egg to safety!”
“Harry!” shouted Ron, coming into view. “Are you...?” he got a good look at Harry. “Harry! Bloody hell! Quit playing and get out of there!”
“Yeah, I know, thanks,”he grunted. “I'll get to work on that, just as soon as you LEAVE!”
“Don't be daft, mate!” yelled Ron. “We can help you!”
“NO!” bellowed Harry. “STAY BACK!”
“Come,” called Eve. “He can manage it.” Ironically, the shield chose that moment to flatten a little. Hermione saw, and began to sob.
“Harry,” she choked out, “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Harry said. “Now GO!” He watched as she turned away.
“Good luck, mate,” yelled Ron, and Narcissa nodded in apparent agreement. Then they too disappeared.
Eve looked at him. “Have faith, Harry Potter,” she said. “As I do.” And she flew off.
Harry pondered his predicament. How do I get out of this? He wondered. In order to get out, he had to banish the shield. But as soon as that was done, the dragon would bite down and kill him.
What I need, he thought, is some sort of blast. And while he was at it, he could...but would it work?
He heard the sound of weeping, and Ron shouting, “HERMIONE! NO!” Bewildered Harry twisted to get a glimpse of what was going on outside the dragon's maw. What he saw stunned him. Hermione floated near the dragon, and was frantically throwing icicle after massive icicle, hurling them savagely at the dragon's hide. A shriek sounded with the lizard's throat, and with a twist, it rolled over partway. Its hind leg kicked out, slamming into Hermione's chest, and sending her soaring away. Hermione clutched her chest with a yelp.
It better not have hurt her, Harry thought. If I lose her...a savage fury rose inside him. He started to press it down, then realized what was happening. He allowed it to well up, then focused on an effect. One that would save him, and finish the dragon...He let loose.
An explosion ripped out of him. And abruptly, he was free. He floated, looking around. There was the Stormwyrm...or rather, what was left of it. Its head, neck, and part of its shoulders was now missing, apparently torn away by the force of Harry's energy. The rest was on fire, cooking slowly. Must have been a pretty strong blast, thought Harry wonderingly, staring as the burning remains crashed into the water below.
He looked up in surprise as the wind died down to a soft breeze, the lightning and thunder abating. The clouds began to drift apart, revealing a shining sun. Looking back down, he watched the stormy waters calm to a gentle lull, glinting blue-green in the fresh sunlight.
Finally, he glanced up, and saw his friends staring. Ron was gaping, and Hermione looked terrified, tears still shining on her cheeks. Narcissa was very pale, while Eve appeared somehow...smug.
“I knew you could do it,” she said, and Harry nodded. He flew over.
“It must have been the dragon causing that storm,” mumbled Ron, gazing around. “I know Charlie said you could tell the gender and age of a dragon by the storm it was in, but I thought he meant they were attracted to those storms...”
“There have been monsoons caused by two full-grown male Waterstrikers fighting,” put in Hermione. She looked rather pale, but was regarding Harry happily. He smiled as he stared deep into her eyes.
“I thought I was going to lose you,” she whispered. He shook his head.
“I'll always be with you,” he said. “Death couldn't stop me.” Drawing her close, he kissed her gently, then with increased passion. A sudden sound of a clearing throat caught his attention, and he looked at a flushing Ron.
“Can't you wait for later to do that?” asked the red-head irritably, glaring at the lovers. Harry chuckled, and squeezed a very red-faced Hermione to him. Clearly wanting to change the subject, she glanced around, then over her shoulder, frowning. This reminded Harry...
“I believe we have a hatching egg to take to safety?” he said.
“What?” demanded Ron. “The egg? It's hatching? Blimey, no one tells me anything...”
Yay, the dragon of dawn is on its way! By the way, I may be writing a story covering the actual events between the founders and the Twilight Dragon. I'm not sure yet, though...anyway, on to the next chapter!
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