Chapter 18 : A Hard Choice
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A Hard Choice
“Why the hell did she have to send that owl now?” moaned Ron, shivering in the blustering wind of the storm. “Why not later? When I could travel and still be dry?”
“It's not like she planned it,” Harry answered, looking up at the dark sky. He had to agree with Ron though. Hannah's timing could use work.
“Are we going or not?” asked Narcissa, peering uneasily at the storm clouds. Flickers of lightning illuminated her tense face with a ghastly glare. “I'd much rather be past this chaotic weather.”
“We should move then,” Harry said. He stepped forward and raised his arms. Flames blossomed around him, spiraling up and down his body. He ascended, floating gracefully into the air, spinning flames supporting his flight.
Ron and the others followed his example, utilizing their various elemental gifts to propel themselves forth into the cruel maelstrom. Harry looked back, and saw Oscar and Moody watching them from within the doorway of their cottage. "They are all heirs, eh?" commented Oscar.
"It looks like it," said Moody, his green eye darting between the members of Harry's group. "A good thing, too. I'll wager it comes in very handy."
“Time to make a hard choice,” Harry murmured to himself. He turned away and focused on the journey ahead.
They fought the storm for what seemed to Harry like days. He repeatedly checked on his friends, and saw they weren't faring any better. Gritting his teeth, he cursed for the fifth time the storm, wishing that the owl had taken just a day or two longer to reach them. But then, he thought, something might have befallen her by then. It was best this way.
He grimaced, then strained forward once more.
A while later, he was soaked, and stumbling along, bobbing on the air. Unsure how much longer he could last, he turned his head to check once more on his friends, when he heard Hermione shriek.
“NO!” roared Ron's voice. There was a rumble, and Ron shouted, “Harry! We're under attack!”
Harry's eyes widened, and exhaustion forgotten, he sped back to where Ron and the others were clustered together. Ron held Hermione, who was sobbing.
“Harry,” she said, “I – I was attacked! Another Stormwyrm!”
“Male,” remarked Eve. “And full grown.”
Harry looked sharply around. He couldn't see any sign of danger, but that wasn't saying much, considering all the wind-whipped rain obscuring his surroundings.
“It looks like its gone,” said Ron. “Doesn't mean much, though.”
“Indeed,” agreed Eve. “It could return at any moment.”
“In that case,” said Harry, still looking out at the rain, “it isn't a good idea to stick around any longer than necessary.”
“Amen to that, mate,” muttered Ron. “Let's go-” There was a sharp movement in front of Harry, and a dark bulk hurtled from the storm, slamming into Eve. In a tumbling tangle of bodies, they disappeared on Harry's other side, fading into the downpour.
“Eve!” squeaked Hermione looking terrified. She peered in the direction the tussling dragons had gone. “Wonderful,” she moaned. “Now that she is gone-”
Her words were cut off as the dark shape loomed through the rain once more. Harry yanked Hermione aside, allowing the dragon to barrel past like a serpentine cannon ball. A whoosh of wind followed it.
“Harry!” yelled Ron, waving at him to get his attention. “We have to move now!”
“But what about Eve?” shouted Harry. Ron shook his head in frustration.
“She can take care of herself,” he insisted, his dripping hair plastered across his forehead. “She isn't exactly helpless!”
Harry hesitated, then nodded. He gave Hermione a nudge, and they soared away. They had gone a short distance when a great black spot appeared ahead of them. Ron swore very colorfully.
“Trapped!” he snarled. “Bloody brilliant. Any ideas Harry?”
Harry thought desperately. It would be very difficult to fight in this weather, as he couldn't see much. And to control this much water, would be to render himself so weak as to be defenseless. He seemed to be stuck between a rock and a hard place.
With a roar, the dragon leaped forward and tried to swat Ron from the air. He dodged, rolling, and the dragon promptly turned to Hermione, who retreated. Lightning flashed over head.
Harry, watching, was given an idea. Just as the dragon attacked Hermione, who shrieked, he raised a hand and spread his fingers. Sparks crackled, then died.
Ron seized hold of the dragon's tail, and attempted unsuccessfully to pull the dragon back from Hermione. It shook itself, sending Ron flying like a flea from a dog's wagging tail. Having got rid of him, it swiped at Hermione, and in a fit of terror, she dropped. Plummeting toward the water, she screamed.
“Hermione!” yelled Ron, who rocketed toward her. Harry looked at the Stormwyrm, and decided this had to end now. Summoning all of his determination, Harry pointed at the beast and launched forth a barrage of electricity. Lightning poured from him, snaking through the air and wrapping around the dragon. It writhed in pain.
Hermione screamed again, and Harry looked around. She now hovered, holding Ron, who was shaking. His body twitched and jerked in uncontrollable spasms. My god, thought Harry, staring. I must have got him with the lightning!
“HARRY!” she shrieked, her eyes desperate, hair flying madly in the wind. “DO SOMETHING!”
Harry looked at her, and saw her pack stir. Dominion nosed aside the flap, poking its head out, craning to see the goings on. Its eyes spotted Ron, then lifted to examine the Stormwyrm, before settling on Harry. Harry gazed into its eyes, and even though it couldn't see, Harry thought he saw a glimmer of recognition in the whitish eyes. He sensed a bond forming, and knew, somehow, that this creature was undeniably connected to him. And he also knew what he had to do to beat the Waterstriker.
He glided toward the baby, and placed his hand gently upon its head. “What...?” asked Hermione, but he shook his head slightly, and she fell silent. They looked at Dominion. Its eyes closed as a wave of magic surged through its body, setting all three bodies tingling. Harry had no idea where it came from; he only knew it had to be done.
Removing his hand, he watched as the baby dragon opened its eyes once more, and crawled from the pack. Spreading its wings, it leaped from Hermione, who was observing in astonishment. “What did you do?” she wondered in amazement, her eyes following the creature as it rose.
Harry shrugged. “I gave it a gift,” he responded. “It has what it needs, for now.” She looked at him, and saw his eyes shining with a strange life.
“You bonded with it, didn't you?” she asked. He looked back at her and smiled slightly.
“I don't know. I feel different. I'm not sure exactly.” He tilted his head back to look up at Dominion. The dragon flew toward the Waterstriker, and was beginning to glow. The magic was at work inside of it, he knew. Dominion lit up like a star, and the light swelled, almost blinding him.
Ron stirred, opening his eyes. His breathing shallow, he glanced around, then noticed the dragon above. “It's still here then?” he asked faintly. Harry could barely hear him over the rain and wind. “Thought it might have given up after I died.” He looked himself over, then amended, “Almost died.” Looking back up, he said, “Is that Dominion?”
“Yes,” answered Hermione. “Harry helped it out a little. Hopefully, we won't have to worry about the Waterstriker much longer.” Ron frowned.
“Don't worry,” said Harry. “Dominion is on it.” he peered up at the two dragons. The light was fading, revealing a much larger pink dragon. It was now tangled around the Stormwyrm, twisting it about. The dragon cried out in a strange voice.
“NO!” it bellowed, surprising Harry. He had never heard one of these talk. “I won't be slayed by the likes of you, Dawn Dragon!”
“You must fall, that the world may live,” said Dominion in a calm, mild voice. “And I will be the one to do it.”
“NOOOOOOO!” howled the Stormwyrm, but Dominion suddenly whirled and cast the dragon downward. The Waterstriker dropped, and Harry was forced to throw himself sideways as the beast flashed past, crashing into the stormy sea below. He stared down as the body vanished beneath the choppy waves, then looked up. Dominion was flying toward him.
“Harry Potter,” he said softly. “You protected me as an egg. And now it is my turn to protect you.”
“How can you fight with blind eyes?” asked Harry. The dragon chuckled.
“I borrowed the gift of sight from you, Harry,” he answered. “It is only magical sight, as precisely strong as you are. But it sufficed for this battle.”
Harry nodded slowly. “I see,” he said. “And...thanks. Thanks for saving us.”
Dominion nodded. “It was my pleasure.” He looked around at the storm. “We should move. It isn't wise to linger in weather of such strength.”
“Speaking of which,” said Narcissa, “why isn't it dissipating? It did last time.”
“I don't know,” said Harry. “But let's just leave.”
“Good idea,” Ron. “What are we – Aaaaaargh!”
They all turned to see a yellow-green form drop from the clouds. “Thunderbeast!” yelled Ron, and he spun and bolted away, sand streaming behind him. “Fly! Its greatest attack is lightning!” he bellowed as he retreated.
Harry and the others lost no time in following. Like streaks, they zigzagged through the sky, trying desperately to avoid the dragon. Harry had never gone so fast. The wind scoured his face, made his eyes stream. He strained harder, faster, trying with all his might to put that dragon behind him. Somehow, he could sense Dominion not far from him. Narcissa and Hermione raced nearby, along with Ron.
He looked back, and could see the Thunderbeast catching up. “Dominion!” he yelled. The dragon craned its neck, and noticed the dragon coming. With a roar, the pink dragon rolled over and spread its legs, catching the other dragon. The Thunderbeast let loose a burst of lightning as they struggled, causing a concussive blast that slammed into Harry with the force of a brick wall. He and his friends were sent cartwheeling through the air at an incredible speed. It was like being hit by an explosion of great proportions...
He felt himself falling, and he saw Hermione and Ron falling. He tried to regain control, but was unable to. He was out of control, out of his depth, out of his league. He realized he might finally have gone too far. All these thoughts passed through his head as he fell, spinning, through the air. He could see the horizon spinning, surrounded by a revolving half circle of seething water. He thought he saw vague outline, but then it was whipped from his view. Spinning, whirling, tossing, turning, every movement that involved being tumbled about in the air was what Harry was experiencing. He was completely lost...
He suddenly held out his arms and legs, trying to stabilize himself. Wind curled around his limbs, and he slowed slightly, long enough for him to see Hermione. She vanished, and he saw a bird, diving downwards, straight towards the sea that was now all too close. He tried vainly to stop himself.
“Haltus Velocito!” he yelled, whipping out his wand and waving it. He felt the spell begin to work, but it was too little, too late. He fell -
And hit the water. He sank, thrashing against the icy pressure. After a moment, he rose, at last breaking the surface. The water seemed to pull at him, trying to drag him under. He fought, determined to keep his life, and noticed a wet, ragged shape flailing nearby. Odd, he thought. It didn't look like any of his friends. But where were they, then? Where was Hermione?
He turned in the water, treading, frantic. Trying to find something, anything, to help him out. His fingers wrapped around his wand were numb, and his lips were trembling so bad that he couldn't properly pronounce a spell. He slowly twisted his head...
Rocks. There were rocks. He reached for them with quaking hands, then splashed at the water, attempting to drive himself toward the rocks, and hopeful safety. Then he could get warm, and work out what to do. Warmth...reaching for his inner fire, he felt it spark, then die as his concentration failed due to the chill sea water beating at him. He paddled, but unfortunately, his smacking at the waves didn't work. He tried to kick, but his numb feet pushed at the water ineffectually. He stared earnestly at the rocks, wanting to reach them so bad. He could feel his strength waning, sapped by the cold. Darkness set in, while he lost all feeling.
“N-no,” he mumbled. “No. I c-can't die. D-d-don't let m-me...” and he slipped into unconsciousness.
Well, that was interesting. What happens next? Please review, leave suggestions to help me improve, and on to the next!
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