Chapter 3 : C is for Charlie
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Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling own anything you recognise. Except for Romania and Resita.
C is for Charlie
Long had I believed that my future rested in the world of Quidditch, but who was I to challenge fate? It was on that day, shortly following my graduation from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, that I received a call from elsewhere.
The real kicker is that I was waiting for my turn to try out as seeker for the England National Quidditch Team. I was second in line to show off my skill when the call came in the form of an owl from my friend Patrick, who was on a visit to Romania. It said shortly that he had had, quote, “a bit of a run-in with a dragon” and could really do with some help getting out of his predicament. The first thing that went through my head was how the bloody hell does someone have a bit of a run-in with a dragon? The next thing that went through my head was that, if I left to help him, I would likely never get a job with England. Quickly following that was the realisation that my friend’s life was in danger and that was far more important than any job I could ever get.
So, I picked up my things and apparated home with them. I threw them unceremoniously into my bedroom, threw some extra clothes into a suitcase, and was almost out the door when I realised that I had no clue how I was going to get to Romania. It was much too far to apparate and Portkeys from the ministry rarely went there. Now, I’ve always been one to solve my own problems, but there was no time for pride when one of my closest friends was quite possibly being slaughtered by a dragon. So I apparated straight to the Ministry of Magic to check with Dad and see what he thought.
“Your friend had a run-in with a dragon?” Dad asked for the tenth time. I’m pretty sure that’s all he got out of everything I said.
“Yes, and I need a way to Romania so I can help him.”
“Well…I…er…could look in the archives to see where the nearest Portkey leaving for Romania is and when it’s scheduled to leave, but I must say, I don’t think your mother would approve of me sending you off to fight a dragon.”
“Dad, look, you aren’t sending me to fight dragons, I’m sending myself. And I have to do this. If I don’t, Patrick’s a goner and I’d rather have to suffer Mum’s wrath than have a dead best friend.” I could still see uncertainty in his face, so I quickly added, “And Mum doesn’t have to know you knew about this, alright?”
Dad pinched the bridge of his nose and nodded reluctantly.
An hour later, I was in France, having used Floo and then flown, disillusioned, until I was within apparating distance of the Portkey. Within a quarter of an hour, I had grabbed ahold of the cracked set of binoculars and less than a minute later I felt a hook somewhere in my stomach and my feet lifted off the ground.
It has always caught me off guard just how hard you hit the ground after using a Portkey, and this time was no exception. I lost my balance somewhat and found myself crashing full-on into a little old wizard who jumped away and started yelling at me in Romanian. I had the distinct impression that he was cursing at me. So, naturally, I beamed at him and said, “You look like a nice man. Is there any chance you could point me towards Resita?”
He grumbled something else in Romanian, then pulled a map out of his pocket and threw it bitterly at me. Yeah, he had a map in his pocket! What a convenient fellow for me to crash into! I took a moment to read the map, then apparated to where Patrick had said he was, a few kilometres east of Resita.
The way I had it figured, it would be quite easy to find and help him because, well, how many dragons could be within a few kilometres of one another? As it turned out, quite a few. In fact, that’s something of an understatement. I was ill-prepared to fight one dragon, let alone the twelve that seemed to have gathered around one little cave. If Patrick was in that cave, he had probably already been roasted alive. But, if there was any chance he was in there, and still kicking it, there was no chance I was going to leave him to be killed. So I did exactly what every bit of common sense I had told me not to do. I ran headlong into a pack (flock? What were a group of them called? I had no way of knowing) of a dozen dragons.
I managed to get the first two I saw with conjunctivitis curses, causing them to stumble backwards and away from me. Just as I finished the second spell, I felt more than saw another blasting fire at me and dove to the side. Before I had a chance to do anything more, though, a forth had smashed its tail into me with enough force to knock me a good three metres to the side. Groaning in pain, I rolled onto my back, regaining of my senses just in time to use the Impediment jinx on another dragon. This bought me the chance to get back on my feet.
Not that on my feet was necessarily a good place to be, given that I was surrounded by a group of angry dragons. This was it. There was no way I was getting out of this. And I still wasn’t even sure if Patrick was in that cave. Despite the pure pointlessness of it all, I felt that, given my own stupidity in knowingly running into this situation, I felt I should restore some honour to my name before I died. Several of the dragons were now staring straight at me and I could tell from their breath that every one of them was getting ready to tourch me. I held my wand in up, prepared to go down fighting.
I caught one of them with the impediment jinx and managed a well-aimed hypnosis hex into the eyes of another, causing it to lose focus on me for a moment. Then, I braced myself for the assault from behind. But it didn’t come. Instead, about twenty witches and wizards seemed to appear from out of nowhere to distract, stun, or otherwise incapacitate all the dragons I had not already dealt with. I’d like to say I helped them, but what I really did as these people saved my life was stare with my mouth hanging open. Yeah, like a character in a children’s story.
Once everything settled down, two people walked towards me out of the group. One was Patrick. Lovely. So I nearly got myself killed for absolutely nothing. The other was the old man I had gotten the map from. To my surprise he turned to Patrick and said in flawless English, “Yeah, I see what you mean, Pat. He would make an excellent addition to our team.” He turned to me, glaring. “I met Patrick here a few days ago and he told me about a friend of his who was excellent with animals and might be interested in researching dragons. He said his friend had the courage and was quick on his feet. We set up this whole thing to test you and you have certainly proven him correct in at least the latter two of his claims. I understand you had to miss a…er…tryout for a job to come here?”
I felt like quite the idiot at this point for coming all the way out here when Patrick was never in any danger to begin with. “Yeah,” I responded bitterly.
“Well,” the man said, still glaring at me, “If you start behaving a bit more politely and don’t make a hobby of knocking me over, I may just be offering you a different job as compensation.”
And who was I to challenge fate? I agreed.
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