Chapter 2 : Veela vs. Dragon
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Victoire Fleur Weasley-Delacour
born May 2nd, 1999
The crowd cheered as the angelic-looking girl proceeded on the stage. Her silvery-blond hair cascaded down her back in perfect waves, her azure-blue eyes sparkled with emotion and self-confidence. She walked to the podium, standing beside the Head Boy, her counterpart, as she addressed her fellow graduates and the crowd. She spoke of their past, the seven years they had spent at Hogwarts, and their future. The Head Boy spoke words of gratitude towards their teachers and families, and words of encouragement for the graduates.
Then, Deputy Headmaster Slughorn asked for silence for the graduates, and started calling them on stage for their diplomas. The row of students at the front of the onlookers thinned out more and more. Only the blond girl remained, and got lightly to her feet as her name was called, “Our Head Girl, and valedictorian, Miss Victoire Weasley-Delacour”.
Victoire beamed at her professors, gracefully received her diploma, and it was as if the whole room lit up even more as she turned towards her family. She basked in their loving looks, especially the now honey-coloured eyes of her childhood friend.
As the ceremony came to an end and the crowd mixed and mingled, Victoire made a beeline for her family, a rather large crowd of redheads, mixed with blonds and blacks. She flew into her Papa’s arms, feeling herself picked up and swung in a circle.
“My little girl,” he rasped into her ear.
“Oh Papa, this was so wonderful!” She whirled around to let herself be hugged by aunts and uncles, and cherished the moments in her grandma’s arms. She was once again picked up and whirled through the air, this time her hands found Teddy’s shoulders. She could have drowned in these eyes.
As soon as they could steal a few moments for themselves, Teddy and Victoire disappeared outside. They wandered about, talking and holding hands. Victoire had never felt so content, that day was just perfect. Teddy pulled her to a stop, still holding her hand. With the other, he withdrew something from his pocket. At first, Victoire’s heart stopped in her chest. Out of joy or fear she did not know. He pushed it into her hand, and Victoire could feel something long. Definitely not a ring. She looked down at the key, then back up at Teddy.
“It’s for my apartment,” he told her softly. “You can visit me whenever you want, move in if you like.”
She hated that she would have to crush the hope in his eyes. There was one thing she had not told him yet.
“I – I have to tell you something. I should have done it as soon as I knew for sure, but I just never – I always chickened out.”
“Vic?” he asked her, his formerly soft voice now showing distinct signs of sorrow.
“ImgoingtoRomaniaforayear,” she rambled.
“I’m going to Romania for a year,” she repeated more slowly. “I have an internship in the dragon reserve where Uncle Charlie works. It will only be for a year, and you know how I always dreamed of being an animal vet. This would be perfect, a kind of break after that stressful year, and a wonderful opportunity for my career.” Vic looked at her friend, no boyfriend really. They had not seen each other a lot this year, what with him starting work and her still at school, but they had that silent agreement that they were going out together. How she had wanted to tell him this under different circumstances, but it could not be helped now. He still hadn’t said anything, so decided to prompt him a little.
Vic took his hands gently. “Teddy?” she asked him tentatively.
He started nodding his head. “I understand.”
Vic wanted to expel a relieved breath, but her posture grew rigid at his next words.
“I completely understand. You’re trying to put an end to this, to whatever we have. No worries, you could just have said so.”
“Teddy! You can’t …” she tried to contradict, completely horrified he would think that. She remained in that shocked condition, and could only watch on helplessly as he turned and full-out sprinted off into the darkness.
“No, please, don’t go, that wasn’t what I wanted …” she sunk to the ground, feeling incredibly old. She wanted to scream the words out, make him understand. But she couldn’t. Victoire felt like her world was suddenly missing one of its pillars, threatening to cave in at every moment.
Victoire did not know how she managed to get through the evening. Her face hurt from the fake smile she had put on. Maybe it was the hope that this was only an overreaction, or even better, a bad dream or a prank, and Teddy would wake her with a bouquet of flowers and an invitation to a late breakfast. Or saying he would just come with her.
One week later, she still had not heard anything from him. Uncle Harry had said Teddy had volunteered for a mission in the Auror department. One morning, she had found the thin golden chain she had given him at her door, wrapped carefully in its case.
She did not know what to do. Her family was so happy about her success at school, and how she had received such high marks. They were gushing all over her, and between that and in the rush and excitement that came with getting ready for her internship, she had barely time to think. But it hurt at night, when it all came crashing down on her. Victoire had sound-proved her room so no one could hear her cry. But cry she did. She had written letters during the first two days, which had come back unopened. Then, she had learned of his Auror mission, and knew she would most likely endanger him.
Finally, the day of her departure had come. Still no sign or word from Teddy. How could she just leave like that? How could she not seize such an opportunity? Was it selfish of her? And why could he not talk it through? If he thought she was ending this, why had he not put up a fight, fought for her? Did that not tell a whole different story? Maybe he had been waiting for something like that? Victoire was lost.
Although she had thought no one had noticed, someone had. Maman took her to the side, shushing her when Victoire wanted to deny it all.
“I know that look, ma chère. You vant to just drop it all, but please think about it again. Do this, a year is not so long, and give him some space. You both need that. Take your time, and live a little. If he is the man for you, and I always thought he was, he will come for you. Oh Victoire, mon ange, my angel, don’t be sad! You were so excited about this, and he has to come to a decision by himself.”
Victoire hugged her mother tightly, whishing she could be a child again and everything would look brighter again. But she also felt a trace of anger – the veela nature she was constantly fighting – bubble up inside her. How could he ruin this for her? Teddy in particluar, who knew her better than anyone else, maybe except for Maman?
With that thought in mind, she grabbed her expanded bag, and apparated to the Ministry, for the long-distance floo. She would show him!
Victoire had crouched down in the fenced pit that was only ever referenced to as “the baby pit”. Only the babies were more than babies, they were dragon babies. She was currently cuddling the tiny – for dragon sizes anyway – Romanian Longhorn with her right arm, holding a bottle of milk in her left hand and trying to feed the poor orphan. The little baby had been brought in two days ago, left abandoned in the woods. Its dark green scales were not developed fully yet, so it could not be older than three weeks. The long glittering golden horn was just about to develop, and she hoped to be able to document all of the process. The baby had taken to her immediately, so even if she was the youngest here, she had been assigned the task of ‘mothering’ the new addition. She felt really proud that she had been assigned such an honour, that the other dragon carers thought her responsible enough to look after such a precious specimen.
Uncle Charlie would check up them regularly though, but she did not mind that. There was so much she could learn from him, and she was eagerly soaking it all up.
The task had the added bonus that she had to put all her concentration and focus into it, and to her it felt like as if she nursed not only the dragon baby, but her heart as well.
It had been two months now, since she left England. Her own family, her cousins and aunts and uncles and of course her grandparents had all written regularly. And her friends, of course. Only one person had not bothered to write.
Yet again, she had tried to make the first move, without reply.
Victoire felt sick of it all. She did not know anymore what to think of this. One moment she was angry, the next moment she could break down in tears.
She knew that Uncle Charlie knew, but he tried to treat her as he would treat any other intern. She could not thank him enough for that little mercy, and probably would never say anything. But she knew he would listen if she needed to talk, even if it would make him feel uncomfortable.
“Athor, why can’t all men be like him? At least we would have something in common,” she was talking to the baby dragon. Yes, she had given him a name.
Athor did well over the following weeks, becoming stronger and stronger. Soon, he needed more than milk, and they were now changing his diet to plants and roots. Victoire watched with excitement, it as was almost as if she would watch a child grow up. It certainly felt that way.
The dragon was finally ready to be set free, but Athor always returned after some hours, calling for Victoire. She would gently scold him, that he wasn’t supposed to come back, but she was glad too.
Victoire had also seized the opportunities to accompany the other dragon reserve workers on their treks to the mountains. The witches and wizards were also taking care of the stray dragons, and the conditon of the dragon reserve itself.
So after about four months had gone by, a group which included Victoire and Charlie Weasley had gone to clear the upper forests of doxies. The obnoxious creatures kept infesting the habitat of the Romanian Ridgeback and pestered the dragons like a hive of bees would.
Victoire was heavily clothed, her face mostly covered by a scarf that wrapped around the lower half of it. The wizards had their equipment in shrunken form in their pockets and their wands at the ready, to facilitate the hike and be prepared in case they were attacked.
Some time ago, a new intern had joined them, his name was Yves Lenoire, and he was part of the group as well. Yves had fallen back a little, and the rest of the group had just stopped, facing toward the valley to see him catch up. Yves was the only one facing the other direction, and suddenly his expression changed into a horror-struck one, he started to jump up and down, waving his hands over his head, and yelling something the others tried to decipher. Thus occupied, the rest did not hear the dragon approach until it was almost too late. Charlie yelled a warning, and they managed to throw themselves down to the ground just in the nick of time.
Thus cheated out of his prey, the dragon now went for the next target, who was still waving his hands around frantically. Before Yves had time to duck or defend himself the dragon had caught hold of him with its claws, taking flight again and circling over them.
The dragon tamers were still on the ground, it had happened that fast, and when they finally were on their feet again, and had their wands drawn again, the dragon was above them well out of reach.
Athor had hovered near them, but had also cowered away from the older and bigger dragon. Victoire did not pause to think for a second, as she called her dragon down. Athor had grown a lot during the last few months, and although not as big as the other, it was big enough to carry the part-veela as she swung herself up on Athor’s back. Victoire had no experience in this, but trusted her dragon. Under the others’ shocked exclamations, they gained height quickly.
If a dragon could grin mockingly, she would have sworn the Romanian Ridgeback did it as Victoire on Athor drew level with it. She could see Yves from her position, and he seemed to have no external injuries, but was unconscious. The Ridgeback swerved once more, then took flight towards the mountains again. Victoire could hear the protests of the others, her uncle the loudest of them, but took no heed as she urged Athor to follow. She could not leave Yves like this.
The Ridgeback carried on for what seemed like an eternity to her. Athor followed at a distance, but Victoire worried how long he would be able to do that. She also contemplated firing hexes, but she had learned early on that only the strongest of spells affected a dragon at all, and they always went in as a group when dealing out a spell on a dragon. Victoire decided she would just have to follow as long as she could, hoping that it would not be any longer and that she would be able to fetch the others in time.
Victoire concentrated, and her eagle patronus sailed out of her wand, heading for her Uncle Charlie as intended.
Unfortunately for her, Athor showed signs of tiring only shortly afterwards. Letting the Gryffindor in her take over, Victoire urged Athor to a last sprint, and they caught up. Victoire conjured a rope with her wand, let it swing over to the Ridgeback where it wrapped itself around the dragon’s neck. She used the residual momentum from the rope in motion, and jumped off her dragon. The jump felt endless, then the rope gave a jolt and she swung below the Ridgeback, only held by a thin rope. Her hands were still wrapped thick with cloth, the earlier precaution against the doxies, and she blessed that circumstance as she began to climb up after securing her wand in her jacket.
It was more strength-consuming than she had thought, but she wasn’t a Weasley for nothing.
Stubbornly, she drew herself up, even as the muscles of her arms screamed in protest. The dragon did not seem to have noticed the additional weight.
Hanging a few feet below the dragon’s belly, she started to swing herself back and forth, feeling her strength leave her. As she could not hold on any longer, she just took the plunge and drew herself upward with all her might, the rope wrapped around her wrist as her only security.
Seconds later, she found herself on the back of the Ridgeback. Victoire pressed her hand on her heart as she acclimated herself with the thought, that she was not yet dead, at least for the moment, and riding on the back of a wild dragon. She drew a breath to steady herself somewhat, ignoring the jelly-like feeling in her arms. Victoire got out her wand again, picturing Yves as she started to levitate him up. Finally, he was high enough that she could see his now wide-open, horrified eyes; she grabbed him tightly as soon as she could do so without falling off herself, and he fell down in a heap on top of her. Yves and Victoire held on tightly to one another in their fright and shock, soothed by the presence of another human being.
Victoire did hear his words and took notice of his grateful, breathless tone, but she could not take stock of what he actually said. She thought she’d got the gist though.
Her brain was working frantically on what would happen next. Then, she remembered the most important thing. “Oh Merlin, Yves, are you alright? Are you hurt?” She asked him frantically.
He rose up slowly at her words, checking himself. He groaned as he did so, but quelled Victoire’s anxiously questioning look. “It ‘urts, but I can move. No blood,” he answered her in a hurry.
“Good!” She breathed out. She did do an emergency healing course, but anything beyond that would be very bad. “Any ideas? Do you have your wand? We might have more of a chance with the power of two wizards, although we might only make it more aggressive if we don’t hit it right.”
Yves could only shake his head. “Pas d’idée, no idea,” he answered with a helpless shrug.
“Whatever we do, we should do it soon,” Victoire answered darkly. Uncle Charlie would surely already have alarmed the cavalry, in the very least. Maybe even her father. She would not put it beyond him, and the rest of her uncles, to come to her rescue. Maybe even the git-she-refused-to-call-by-his-name would be inclined to spare her a few words. Hey, that was just the solution. She should have gotten herself kidnapped by a dragon sooner.
They tried out several scenarios, but dismissed them all as too dangerous. Yves was recovering slowly, which Victoire found very consoling. She started going through her lessons Uncle Charlie had ever given her about dragons, and whatever scrape of information Hagrid had told them.
Stunning the dragon would be impossible, there were more than two rookies needed. Uncle Charlie had mentioned a weak spot on the dragons’ skull, but you had to get by the fire-breathing mouth first.
“That’s it!” Victoire snapped her fingers. She proceeded to tell Yves about that weakness. “We're already past the fire; we only have to climb the head!”
“And then the dragon pass out in air,” Yves said pessimistically.
“Oh,” Victoire said. She hadn’t considered that, but it was a possibility. Uncle Harry, Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione had ridden a dragon, but they had managed to jump off as it flew low over a lake.
“The only other thing I can think of is: we wait until it gets thirsty, it has to fly lower to drink. We can jump off then.” At least she hoped they would be as lucky as her aunt and uncles.
“Se camp!” Yves pointed out a short while later. Indeed, Victoire could see the huge fenced places that held injured or old dragons. The camp of the dragon tamers was located near a lake.
They flew closer and closer, and there was Athor again, screeching loudly as the young dragon circled them. Victoire could see the frenzied action in the camp coming to a halt; everyone seemed to be searching the skies for the cause. Victoire conjured her eagle again, sending the message that the dragon seemed to be heading for the lake.
The Ridgeback, flustered by the sudden activity on the ground and the young dragon’s screeching, plummeted toward the lake at breakneck speed, intent on scooping up some water and take flight again.
Victoire once again had a bout of inspiration, throwing Yves the rope that was still tied around the dragon’s neck. He looked at it a little lost, but collected himself and began to pull. The dragon now became aware that his prey was no longer in its claws, but that something or someone was on its back. It started bucking, but the robe worked as a holster, and it was forced to swerve back towards lake and camp.
Victoire had crawled towards the dragon’s head, she only needed to find that weak spot. They were almost above the lake again now. She clung to the Ridgeback’s neck, breathing hard and gasping as she tried to examine the dragon’s skull. She could not see a difference. Desperate, she started wielding her wand, shouting ‘stupefy’ with each switch, praying that she’d somehow hit the spot.
Victoire cried out as she felt ripples go through the dragon’s body, Yves yelled too. They must have been pretty low already as they could also hear shouts and spells from below.
The dragon seemed to be in a dive already, and Victoire clung on for dear life as they seemed to hit a wall. Later, she would be told they had broken through the treetops on the shores of the lake, the impact somewhat softened by the trees. They rammed through the underwood, cutting a path through the forest, before they came to an abrupt halt, the dragon stirring only feebly underneath her.
Victoire tried to get up, heaving herself up on her arms.
“Are you ok?” She feebly asked in Yves’s direction. She fell back down on her stomach, too weak and fuzzy to do anything else. She saw some shapes break through the trees, but then her world went black.
Victoire was swimming through a sheer endless sea of darkness. She caught glimpses of light, voices telling her to hold on. But there was also the pain. She just wanted it to stop. How was it possible to feel so hurt? She welcomed the blackness as she felt herself drawn back into the sea, and the oblivion.
A weight, warm and comforting, was on her hand, seeming to hold her in place even in the dark depths of the sea she seemed to be drowning in. But she couldn’t. She held onto that comforting feeling, trying to reach for it through the pain.
Victoire did not know how long it had been. Her eyelids felt like lead, but she could lift them only a little to blink through her eyelashes. There was whiteness above her, a stark contrast to the darkness she had become used to. Only the warmth on her hand was still there.
It took an enormous effort the turn her head that little bit so she could look for the cause. Her hand was wrapped in another; a strong, lithe hand. Someone was sleeping with their head on her bed, only a shock of sandy-brown, tousled long hair visible. She would have liked to lift her hand or call out to the person, but found that she couldn’t. Her consciousness slipped away again, leaving her with no distinct recollection of that moment.
Victoire had a sense of deja-vu as she opened her eyes to the whiteness again. Something was different though. There were hushed whispers in the background, and the warmth on her hand was gone. She moaned a little at that fact, and immediately her line of vision filled with heads and red hair.
She winced as they all started to talk at once, and seeing this, a voice she would have recognised everywhere as her Grandma Molly’s, told the others to give her some space.
Her father was there, and her mother. Dominique and Louis. She focused on them, too exhausted to take in any others.
The next weeks flew by for her with examinations, visits from everyone, chats and exchanging of news.
Apparently, the impact had been big enough so her whole body had been heavily shaken, causing broken bones and such. Her lungs had suffered, her body shutting down to protect heart and brain.
She had been comatose for about two weeks, but the healers had managed to help her. Yves’s situation was similar, he had woken up some days before. She talked to him a lot, especially when visiting hours were over. He was really a nice guy. Not too bad looking either.
Friends and family seemed to beat a path to her room; Victoire could barely find a moment for herself. Poor Uncle Charlie blamed himself for her condition, but Victoire assured him that it was not his fault. She could not help but notice now her father treated his brother very coldly, and Uncle Charlie seemed to have accepted that. She hoped they would make up again soon, and she vowed she would see to that. After all, Uncle Charlie had not made her climb that dragon; that had all been of her doing.
But apart from the fussing, worrying and cuddling, the rest of the family seemed to take her for a hero after both she and Yves, and Uncle Charlie, had recounted the story for the thousandth time.
Especially her cousins James and Fred looked at her with adoration in their eyes. Second point on my list: make sure cousins know not to jump off dragons, she thought drily. After all, it would not do to have Uncle Harry and Uncle George on her case as well. Or Aunt Ginny, for that matter.
Victoire was released some time later, after some restless weeks confined to her bed. No one would hear of her going back to complete her internship, but she insisted. If she did not do it now, she would probably be afraid for the rest of her life. Plus, she was painfully aware that there had been one person missing in the endless stream of visitors.
So, what do you think? Sorry to the Tedoire-shippers, I might follow up on the plot bunny I have for them. What would you want to happen?
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