Chapter 37: Dragon Tales
Dragon talesAN: Hey, dear readers, I’m terribly, terribly sorry for the long break and now this embarrassingly short chapter. I’ll explain in the AN below. Thank you for the last review, again – very good thinking about the luxury villas :) Yeah, I have actually seen like large posh-suburbs in some post-communist countries, really like Beverly-Hills-es, that’s what I had in mind, but you’re right – in the time I was writing and thinking about here – Romy returning to Romania, around early 1990-ies – it would be waaay too early for anything like that. So, another thing to re-write at some point.
Enjoy, there isn’t much new action in here though...
“Wait, is that-“ Giles came closer to where Helen was standing and he too spotted the fiery fountains in the distance. On the first sight it looked like lava spitting out of a volcano, but on the second sight when Giles narrowed his eyes, trying to distinguish it better in the dark of the night he realized that there was something spitting out actual flames in very fast intervals. As if to make him more certain of what he was looking at, there suddenly was a loud growl, followed by another one, much louder and sounding much angrier, clearly coming from another dragon and soon enough Giles noticed another mighty string of flames.
“U-oh,” Charlie murmured behind them, “poor chap, looks like he’s still in disgrace...” And he tapped Giles on the shoulder to offer him old-fashioned looking binoculars.
Giles watched the two large dragons spitting fire at each other menacingly, and was silently counting the distance between their watch-out and the dragons, then gave the binoculars to Helen.
After one particularly deafening growl that made all three of them jump up a little, they saw the silhouette of one of the dragons rise in the air, its large wings were swinging impressively as it was flying higher and higher up while the other one remained on the ground making weird snorting sounds. Small sparkles still kept emerging from its mouth.
“What was that about?” Helen asked still puzzled by the scene and returned the binoculars to Charlie.
“Well, they had a pretty nasty row couple of days ago. We’ve been guessing that he, Sándor – that’s the one who stayed there,” he began and lowered his voice as he motioned with his head towards the remaining dragon as if Sándor could hear him otherwise, “might have said something that she did not take very well, or he said it the wrong way, you know, using the wrong words or the wrong tone in his voice... or the wrong heat of his flames in this case I guess...”
Helen and Giles looked at each other amused about the way Charlie spoke as if it was all a very delicate matter.
“But, still, there seems to be some hope for him,” Charlie continued brightly, “she didn’t leave straight away this time, nor did she try to poke his eyes out like she did yesterday, so things might not be lost just yet.”
Suddenly they heard footsteps behind them and soon a young woman climbed up the watch-tower.
“Hi,” she smiled at them and raised a hand to a wave.
“Here you are,” Charlie greeted her and Helen noticed him turning slightly pink when he shot her a quick look before turning back at the dark-haired girl, who had to be Ileana, his girlfriend.
Charlie motioned for her to come closer, then introduced them all.
“Very pleased to meet you,” Helen smiled as she shook her hand.
The girl smiled back at them. “So, did you see? This time she didn’t leave right away, she even spit fire on him, I’m guessing in a week’s time they’ll be making up on that clearing and all will be fine again, then hopefully we’ll have a couple of little ones in a few months,” there was a very faint trace of a foreign accent in her voice as she spoke enthusiastically, looking at Charlie and somehow after these few words Helen thought amused that the two of them had indeed found each other very well.
“That would be awesome,” Charlie replied dreamily, considering the prospect of dragon-offsprings.
Giles saw Helen shiver imperceptibly from the cold air. “Well, it-uh... looks like we won’t be seeing much tonight then,” he said and rather subconsciously put an arm around her.
“Yeah,” Charlie agreed, “we’ll return before sunrise though and see what happens, what do you say?” There were the familiar sparkles of adventure and elation in his eyes that reminded them of Arthur a bit and his face when he had presented them the walkman.
They all apparated back to Charlie’s house. Charlie walked with them inside and while searching some things together he instructed them: “Now off to bed, I’ll be picking you up at...,” he paused, thinking, “let me see, Ileana?” He shouted after his girlfriend who soon stepped in from the garden, “how long you reckon would it take on a broomstick from here to the look-out place?”
Ileana shrugged. “Hm, it’s about 25 miles, not that far... well, on the other hand,” she pointed at a large ancient looking double-broom in one corner of the living room, “on that thing there I suppose half an hour at least would be a good guess,” she said innocently, Charlie glared at her.
“I think that thing
is just fine, after all, Mr. Giles hasn’t flown yet on a broomstick, so slow might be better in this case,” he countered complacently.
Giles stared at the broom thoughtfully, wondering just how many things he would do on this single weekend that he had never done nor even dreamed of ever doing before.
“Anyway,” Charlie turned back at them, “half an hour means – you’ll have to leave here at around half past five, or let’s say 5:40 at the latest.” He pretended not to have seen Helen’s horrified expression as she was trying to count when they would have to get up then. She had been looking forward to a nice long sleep before returning to Sunnydale, hoping that all the events of the past hours and the change of scenery would keep the nightmares away at least for one night.
“Bedroom’s upstairs, off you go,” he almost shooed them away and towards the wooden staircase.
When they turned around once more hesitantly to ask where he was going to sleep, he raised his brows strictly and repeated: “5:40, not a minute later!” Then he grabbed a leathern bag and they saw him nodding towards Ileana, before he followed her out of the house.
Reluctantly they ascended the narrow stairs. It wasn’t difficult to find the bedroom as there were only two rooms upstairs and one of them was locked, with a weird green-blueish light gleaming over the threshold. Helen frowned at it, but then proceeded towards the open door of what had to be Charlie’s bedroom. It was spacious, with a large bed and fresh sheets on it, some old wardrobes and an armchair. Helen walked over to the window and saw Charlie and Ileana in the front garden talking excitedly and chuckling. Then Charlie took Ileana’s hand and they both nodded at each other, then disappeared together. She opened the window then to let in some fresh air, she was feeling a little lightheaded and was almost expecting her nose to bleed, but after a few gasps of the cool air the feeling was gone.
When she turned away from the window, she couldn’t help but smile fondly at the sight: apparently Giles had grabbed a book from Charlie’s bedside table and the rest of the world had seized to matter, as it would happen to him on countless occasions. He was leaning onto the wall, his wide opened eyes were moving fast along the lines, he appeared to be literally swallowing every word. Judging by the picture on the old black cover the book dealt with... dragons of course. And when Helen’s eyes swept over the room she had little doubts that Charlie did not actually own any books concerning other topics than that. Her look stopped on one particular title that laid in the armchair among others: How to raise your dragon: Rules and guidelines to a safe(r) care of your pet or How not to set your cottage on fire.
Helen was just wondering whether Giles would be in any danger of wanting to read it and whether she better hide it or at least “replace” it, when the sound of Giles closing the book with a semi-loud slap startled her. He placed it back on the bedside table, then ran a hand through his hair tiredly. He threw a look on his watch and sighed. It was way after midnight. He raised his head and saw Helen staring at him moonily.
“What is it?” He asked in confusion.
There was a short pause, before she replied: “Nothing,” and as he moved to walk over to her she realized amazed that it still set her heartbeat on high speed. Even after weeks, months even the touch of his fingers upon her arm was still causing the fascinating prickling sensation somewhere in her stomach.
Some half an hour later she fell asleep, feeling more than comfortable tucked in the tight embrace of his arms.
“Rise and shine!... Wakey, wakey! Get up, you two!” The loud voice of Charlie Weasley seemed to be sounding all around the place, filling every corner of the room, it was hard to tell where it was coming from. Helen and Giles exchanged disgruntled, sleepy looks, both highly annoyed by this un-soft awakening. It took them about five seconds to realize where they were, just before Charlie’s bright voice yelled again: “Are you up already?”
“What is that?” Giles muttered bemused.
Helen looked at her watch through narrowed eyes. It was almost five in the morning, and still dark outside. The sun wouldn’t come up for at least an hour.
“So, no snooze, get up now,” the voice said more strictly this time.
Helen climbed out of the bed grudgingly and walked across the room to peer out of the window.
“That’s better,” they heard Charlie say. Giles felt very uncomfortable and kept looking around them to see where the young man might have been hiding. He thought that that would be a very ill-mannered intrusion.
Helen opened the door to listen whether there was any movement in the house, but everything was quiet and dark. She grinned to herself contentedly, returning towards the bed.
“It’s an enchantment,” Helen whispered, “he’s not actually here. We have plenty of time,” she added smiling mischievously as she climbed back onto the bed and laid herself down on her elbows, her face only inches from his.
“I KNEW YOU WOULD IGNORE THIS, BUT YOU REALLY DON’T HAVE TIME FOR A SNOOZE!” The two of them jumped out of the bed as the voice echoed through the room much louder than before. “NOW GET OUT OF THAT BED AND MAKE YOURSELVES READY! AND HAVE A BREAKFAST, BREAD IS IN THE CUPBOARD ABOVE THE SINK! I’LL BE THERE IN THIRTY MINUTES, WAIT FOR ME IN THE GARDEN!”
They both glowered at each other, before collecting their clothes and resignedly descending the stairs to have a quick shower and some breakfast.
“Let’s have at least a monstrous breakfast on Charlie’s expense,” Helen suggested as she dived her head into Charlie’s fridge in search for something to put on her bread. “What do we have here?”
Minutes later they were sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and tea and eating all they could and would, their moods were gradually improving with every bite, so that by the time Charlie was supposed to pick them up, they were standing in the garden, chatting happily, feeling strangely carefree in a long time.
“Buffy will be disappointed though,” Helen said more seriously after a while. It was quarter to six and there was still no sign of Charlie.
Giles leant onto the wall next to her. “Yes,” he said quietly. “But it’s not that we didn’t try... We’ll have to keep looking, checking more books, there must be something mentioned somewhere,” he said firmly and Helen admired his optimism at this point.
It was almost six, when there was a loud pop and finally Charlie appeared in front of them, panting. “I know, I know,” he said, raising his hands defensively in front of him, expecting some proper portion of nagging and grumbling, which however didn’t follow. He glanced at them suspiciously, then as they kept looking at him cheerfully and expectantly, he shrugged merely. “Alright”, he murmured and hurried to get the broomstick from his living room.
“Here,” he handed it over to Helen, who took it rather reluctantly. She hadn’t been flying on a broom in many years now. “You think you can handle it?”
“I hope so,” came the slow and doubtful reply. To be honest she was having second thoughts, after all the apparition yesterday didn’t seem to have affected her too badly, perhaps it would be for the best to apparate again...
“Good. Now get up and follow-eh ...,” Charlie turned to the right and raised a hand to point the right direction, “... that way, that is east, very slightly north-east, you can’t miss it.” When he saw Helen’s and Giles’ rather anxious faces, he sighed and took the broom and murmured a couple of incantations upon it, before giving it back to Helen. “Here, that should do it. You should reach it in about half an hour. And fly as high as possible, only descend when you spot the place, right?”
Giles wanted to ask why, he still couldn’t imagine sitting on the fragile looking wooden stock and flying high above the ground.
“We’ll meet you there, I’ll be looking out for you,” and to give them some more courage he slapped them both a little too hard on their shoulders. “It is a beautiful flight, against the sunrise, you’ll enjoy it, I’m sure.”
He disapparated and Helen stared desperately at the broomstick for a brief moment, as if trying to remember how it worked.
“You did it before,” Giles said softly in an encouraging voice. “Isn’t it like bicycle? Once you’ve learned it you never forget...?”
Helen wondered. “Alright,” she said to herself and stroke over the wood of the broom, before putting one leg across it. “Sit behind me and hold tight,” she instructed him. When she felt his arms crossing around her waist, she turned her head quickly to look at him. Clearly he was having very mixed feelings about this, but was trying to stay calm. He gave a short, hesitant nod and that’s when Helen pushed them off the ground.
Almost immediately she felt his grip around her tighten and he drew himself closer to her. And she didn’t blame him, as they were rising up at an uncomfortable speed. That might not actually have been so high – Helen was guessing that this old Comet could probably hardly manage 60 miles per hour at the most, but given the fact that Giles was never ever in the air, flying across the country like this, with nothing but the sheer air around him, nothing protecting him, not a single layer of metal or anything, it was a fairly scary experience even with one of the lamest broomsticks Helen knew.
The broom was holding its direction as Charlie had enchanted it to, Helen only had to adjust their height. She was pleased to find out, that she still remembered the ropes after all those years. Her mind was drifting towards memories of her and her brothers flying over the forests and hills, just some hundred miles southwards from here.
“I think I can see the place!” Giles shouted in the wind and dared to loosen one arm to point down at the tiny clearing below.
“Right,” Helen nodded, “I’ll go down now.” She bent the top of the broom downwards and at once they were rushing towards the ground, its green grass seemed to be approaching alarmingly fast, but she managed to slow the descend down a little. They were only yards away now and Helen thought already that they would land smoothly, when suddenly the broom stopped entirely and they were thrown off it, both hitting painfully the hard ground.
“Sorryyy, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Charlie ran towards them, “I forgot that part,” he said in a small voice while helping them get up. They seemed to be unhurt, only Giles’ glasses were broken. Again.
“What part?” Helen asked, still breathless from the crash.
,” Charlie said quickly pointing his wand at Giles’ glasses. “Protection spells. You can only approach the tree-stand on your own feet.”
Helen frowned, as she didn’t see any sense to it.
Charlie looked around him to see where Ileana was, then added in a low voice. “I know, there isn’t much sense to it, but it’s procedure around here... Again, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.“ And unlike George in such cases he sounded truly devastated and guilty.
When they assured him that they were fine, they all moved along to ascend the look-out on the tree. Ileana was already there, sipping coffee from a large dragon-shaped mug. The sun was just rising behind the hills. Or rather behind the dragon, as Giles noticed, knowing better this time. He took again the offered binoculars and the look through them had reduced the distance between him and the dragon so that Giles winced at the first sight as it looked almost like he could touch the dragon’s tale if he’d come a little closer and stretch out an arm. He watched the large female lying nestled on a clearing, he could clearly see its horny back rising and sinking at short intervals, it appeared to be asleep.
“Look there!” Ileana shouted and showed at something flying in front of the rising sun. It was growing larger and larger and both Helen and Giles stared at the male dragon with open mouths, as it was swinging his wings in a perfect and elegant way, before landing quite gracefully at a safe distance from the female.
“What is he thinking?” Charlie wondered. Sándor, the male dragon stood there for a while pretending to be just looking around him, but now and then he shot stealthy glances at Kinga, who still seemed to be deep asleep.
“She’s just feigning,” Ileana said quietly.
“Yeah, believe me,” Ileana sounded very certain.
Sándor dared to take a few small steps towards his dear, then he would pause and wait a moment, before approaching her further. And indeed Kinga gave no sign of being awake or disturbed in any way, she merely squirmed a little in her sleep. Obviously Sándor took it as safe to lay down next to her, still keeping a few yards between them. His head was facing hers and the four observers noticed amused that he kept sliding his large head closer and closer to her by stretching out his long neck bit by bit. And during this whole action he kept opening and closing his eyes as if he actually wanted to sleep next to her, but was a little nervous and had to check every few seconds whether she was still there and not about to set him on fire. When he seemed to have found a comfortable and satisfying enough position, his eyes closed at last and wouldn’t open again. A minute later they heard him snorting contentedly.
Charlie was just about to say that obviously Kinga wasn’t feigning her sleep after all, when Giles and Helen, both watching through the binoculars, gasped loudly.
“Did you see that?” Giles asked amazed, and when Helen nodded excitedly, they looked at each other and giggled.
“What?” Ileana and Charlie asked simultaneously.
“That was so cute,” Helen exclaimed. “This is better than television,” she laughed. “She just opened her left eye to look at him and then closed it again and then – I swear I saw a tiny smug grin on her face.”
“Well, it didn’t look that smug,” Giles objected, “rather-uh... shall we say complacent...”
“Riiight?” Charlie drawled, “looks like the making-up might not take that long then.”
They watched the dragon-couple for almost another hour, and when Sándor and Kinga “woke up” – or better stopped pretending being asleep – Charlie and Ileana were wondering whether someone had exchanged them during the night, as they were behaving very differently than just the night before, all traces of the previous fights and bickering gone.
“Well, that’s the great thing about these creatures, they never get boring, they always surprise you, and they tick so completely differently, each breed has its own ways,... it’s fascinating,” Charlie summed it up.
“Is it your first time, Mr. Giles?” Ileana asked Giles. “Seeing a dragon?”
“Yes, yes, it is.”
“And yours too, isn’t it?” Charlie turned at Helen.
“Well, I’ve seen one before, actually not so very far from here,” she replied.
“You have?” Ileana asked in surprise.
“Yes, but it was ages ago.”
“It’s a shame you weren’t at Hogwarts during the Triwizard Tournament,” Charlie said.
Giles looked at them both, with a question in his eyes.
“There was a competition couple of years ago at Hogwarts, between three wizarding schools, each having one champion-“ Helen began to explain.
“Or two – in case of Hogwarts, Harry again had to be special,” Charlie grinned. “Well, anyway they had to accomplish three special tasks and one of them involved dragons. That was the first time after many years that dragons could be seen in Britain.”
“Where were you by that time?” Charlie asked Helen suddenly wondering.
She raised her brows, taken a little by surprise by the sudden change of the topic. “I was doing my auror-apprenticeship.”
“Oh, right, I remember, you’d taken the other way, didn’t do the Ministry-training,” Charlie said thoughtfully. “Actually I heard the other day from Ron that Harry is thinking of doing it.”
“Is he?” Helen asked, then saw Giles’ face, once again he felt excluded a little, not knowing what they were talking about. “There are many ways of becoming an auror, you see. The usual, the conventional one let’s say is the Ministry-apprenticeship and undergoing the courses and the training at the Ministry or by the teachers that had been appointed by the Ministry. One other possibility is a-eh...,” she paused in search for the right word, “... let’s say private-eh
... apprenticeship, by someone who is not attached to the Ministry, for example a retired auror or some such... There are only very few people who do it and usually it’s difficult to find them or contact them.”
“And you were trained by one of them,” Giles asked.
“Yes, it’s been about six years... It is, judging by what I saw at the Ministry, a training very different from theirs, it’s concentrated into a single year, or ten, eleven months even, during which you live entirely secluded with your teacher on an unknown place...”
“Well, it is questionable whether it really is the better way, I had my doubts myself... I still have actually... but at the time Dumbledore had sent me to do it, it seemed the only way.”
Giles watched now as her face and her expression had changed within the last few minutes. Only a while ago she was cheerful and laughing and now she turned serious, a sadness settled in her eyes, so that it was almost painful to look in them.
“Who was your guru
?” Charlie asked curiously.
Helen pursed her lips. “Márkos,” she dropped her look, “I haven’t heard of him since years. He had disappeared right after Dumbledore’s death, there-eh... were rumors that he was killed by the Death Eaters, but-eh...” She shrugged as if she wanted to fling off the unwanted memories. “I don’t know,” she added in a whisper, and tried a desperate smile.
“Well, wouldn’t be the only one,” Charlie murmured more matter-of-factly. “Kingsley says they’ve got a list this long,” he spread out his arms to indicate a size, “full with names of missing people, mostly muggle-borns, but also quite a few notable persons from prominent pure-blood families that had disappeared over the years since You-Know-Who’s appearance...”
Giles saw Helen stiffen, she felt clearly uncomfortable and cut Charlie short: “Why does Harry want to do it? I thought he was just about to finish his Ministry training...”
“Hm? I don’t know for sure, only from what Ron told me. It sounded like he wanted some time on his own and the idea of being away from everyone for almost a year seemed appealing to him... Obviously Ginny was less amused about it,” Charlie said meaningfully. “And it’s not surprising that mum is very supportive of his scheme, as it would definitely sweep away any weddings plans for the time being.”
Helen was glad for the short broomstick flight back to Charlie’s house, for she felt just a little bit discomposed after the few reminiscences. And indeed when she and Giles were up in the air and she felt his tight grip around her, and the April-breeze enclosing her face and tousling her hair, she regained her inner equilibrium soon again. Even her landing near Charlie’s garden proved to be like from a textbook. When they reached the house, Charlie was just standing outside his door, inspecting a small package and frowning.
“It’s addressed to you,” he turned at Giles and handed it to him.
Giles took it, baffled. It was indeed saying To Rupert Giles
. He tore off the wrapping to discover... a book.AN: Thank you for reading, I’m sorry for the shortness and the awkward ending. I’m not sure when I will be able to update. Fact is, I have been somewhat busy these days, having a wedding in two weeks’ time and although I had naïvly thought at first that surely a small one would more or less organize itself, at this point hundreds of things are occurring to me that still need to be done. Add to it the work on the PhD I’m forced to keep up with – I don’t think I will be posting a new chapter for about three weeks, or when, then it will be a very short one. I hope you’ll forgive.
Review anyway, if you have a spare minute. I’m happy for every thought. I have no idea how a dragon couple would behave, I’m afraid what I described could just as well be cats :)
By the way I’ve been watching the film
Your sister’s sister the other day and for some weird reason the character of Hannah played by Rosemarie de Witt, whom I haven’t seen in a movie before, reminded me of Helen a lot, or at least at some moments it struck me that they were alike a little. Well, when one overlooks some major details, like that Hannah was actually a lesbian, then apart from that... Anyways, a nice film all in all.