Chapter 16 : Birds of Prey
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“That’s the last time I ask Hermione to enchant anything!” exclaimed the black haired boy after turning off the alarm clock with an annoyed force. He then slowly laid back down contemplating the dream he had just been pulled from.
In the week following William’s birthday, Harry had more pleasant dreams than in his entire life time. Each of them was more real and exciting than the previous. Unlike most dreams, which were quickly forgotten, he knew these would stay with him forever.
‘I was teaching my son how to fly.’ Harry kept mulling over the notion in his head and each time it made him that much happier. The word ‘flying’ suddenly became important to him as he realized that he and Ron had scheduled quidditch tryouts for that morning.
After everything that had happened already this term with William and everything else, Harry and the rest of his friends decided they needed some sort of normalcy. Quidditch was the first idea that came to mind.
Upon looking at the resting clock on his nightstand, Harry found that he had an ample amount of time before he had to be down to the pitch. As captain, it was important that he be there sooner than the rest of the team and hopefuls.
After Harry got dressed and found his loaner broom he quietly walked over to Ron’s bed and gave him a quick nudge on the shoulder.
“Yes, I’d like another helping.” spoke a still semi-asleep Ron. Harry could only laugh as his best friend rolled over in bed. ‘Even in his dreams he thinks about food.’
“Ron!” said Harry in a tone slightly above a whisper. Ron immediately knew he wasn’t dreaming as his eyes opened fully to the morning light.
“Quidditch tryouts, I know.” answered the red haired boy as he buried his head back into the pillow.
“You don’t have to be at the pitch for a while longer, but I thought you should start thinking about getting out of bed.”
“Will do!” replied Ron as he adjusted his covers and closed his eyes.
‘I’d better tell Hermione to wake him later or he’ll never get up,’ Harry thought as he went down to the common room.
William had been up for the better part of an hour that morning before Harry walked into the common room. There was far too much on his mind to sleep. “Good morning Harry!”
“Good morning William!” he replied taking a seat on the sofa across from him. “You’re up awful early.”
“I couldn’t sleep. I trust that’s not your reason.” he replied in concern. If he had built up a tolerance to the Dreamscape, then he wouldn’t know how to help him.
“No, not at all.” replied Harry. “The Dreamscape is working quite well.” He then lifted up his shirt to show the fading scars along his abdomen.
“That looks pretty good! You and the others will probably just need one more treatment for good measure.” For only a week’s worth of Dreamscape, they were taking to the potion quite well. “So how have your dreams been?”
“Really great actually!” Harry smiled upon recollection. “This time I was teaching my son how to fly a broom.”
“I’m happy for you!” exclaimed William as he turned back to the book he had been reading.
“So why are you up? Couldn’t sleep either-” He trailed off after seeing the spread of other books and his Phantom’s trunk seated next to the couch.
“Yes, but it wasn’t because of a nightmare. I’m trying to figure out how to deal with the egg problem in the forest.” Ruby had laid the egg over a week ago and it had yet to hatch which was very uncommon for her breed. Three days was considered late, but a week and a half was not a good sign.
“It still hasn’t hatched?” asked Harry. William had kept him and his friends informed on the egg’s progress after each night he returned from the forest. They could see it kept his mind occupied while Kingsley searched for his friends.
“Yes, and to make matters worse the centaurs are making advances on the nest each day. I have to figure out how to keep them back before they do anything rash.” In truth William had no idea how to defuse the situation.
In his experience, centaurs and dragons were tricky creatures, especially in each other’s presence. The fact that this dragon was reproducing in their forest made them all the more aggressive in dealing with her. Food supply and territory were two things they wouldn’t yield to a human, let alone Ruby and her egg.
“I’m sure you’ll find a way. You always do.” said Harry with the utmost confidence.
“We’ll see!” replied William as he rubbed his eyes in exhaustion.
Before they could discuss the matter any further Ginny and Hermione came down from the girl’s dormitory.
“Good morning Harry, good morning William!” called out Ginny as she sat down next to Harry.
“Good morning boys!” followed Hermione behind Ginny. She then took a seat next to William curious to see what he was reading. Most of his books hadn’t even been written yet and each work was like a new world to her.
“Morning love!” replied Harry kissing his girlfriend. “Are you ready for tryouts today? The competition for chaser looks pretty stiff.”
While Harry and Ginny were both gifted seekers, they had come to an agreement where he would take that position while she would take one of the three spots as chaser.
“I think so.” smiled Ginny in the most playful way she could muster. “Maybe you could put in a good word with the captain for me.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” replied Harry pulling Ginny closer to him. “So how are you Hermione?” he said turning his attention to the other woman in the room.
“I’m fine,” she replied averting her eyes from the book. “I thought I would come to the tryouts and see what all the fuss is about.” She then looked around the room and said, “Speaking of which, where would Ron be?”
Turning his eyes up to the boy’s dormitory he replied, “Still in bed, but don’t worry because I already gave him a shake. You’ll probably have to go up there soon and drag him down.” Harry laughed because he knew Hermione would do just that if the situation called for it.
“It just may come to that!” said Hermione laughing as well. She then turned her gaze to the other man in the room. “So what are you up to William? Are you going to the tryouts too?”
“No, not me!” replied the boy who started to pack up his books and supplies. “I’m going to check on Ruby and the egg. I’ll drop by later I think.”
“My offer is still on the table if you change your mind.” interjected Harry.
When he, Ron, and Ginny first put the idea together for tryouts they immediately thought William could be a shoe in for chaser. After watching his display of skill with a broom on his birthday, they could all see he had the natural talent and love for the game that few possessed.
His reply was simply ‘No thank you.’ He had told them a few days earlier that he did not want to interfere by taking someone else’s spot. They respected his request but could not help but think what a value his abilities would be to the team.
“I appreciate it Harry.” After putting the rest of his books away, he reached into the trunk and pulled out two miniaturized brooms. He also pulled out a familiar looking leather armband that Hermione had been examining a week prior. Knowing its connection to the conflict brewing in the forest, William saw no reason in letting it go unused. He had to explore every possible solution.
After turning the brooms back to their original size, William promptly handed one of them to Harry. “I thought you’d like riding this better than some loaner broom.”
“You can’t be serious!” said Harry as he held the broom admiring its beauty. Even though it was not his own, he was still very grateful to ride a Firebolt again.
“Well I am, so have fun out there!” exclaimed William as he miniaturized the trunk and put it in his pocket.
“Thanks William.” For someone who wasn’t going to tryouts, Harry was awful curious as to why William needed his own broom. “I should say have fun on your flight as well,” he said nodding toward the broom in his hands.
“Oh this!” he exclaimed getting what Harry meant. “Thought I’d take a bird’s eye view and see how far the centaurs have come.”
The girls knew enough about the dragon/centaur conflict to see what William was getting at. In the new world order that they helped create, the last thing they wanted was for two groups of majestic creatures to destroy one another. A place like Hogwarts had seen too much bloodshed in so little time.
“I’ll go with you for a while if you’d like!” Hermione offered. Even for a wizard of his talent, it was still dangerous to be alone in the midst of the fray. “I don’t have to be at the tryout for a couple of hours.”
“Don’t worry about me, Hermione” replied William. “I’ll be fine out there in the forest. I won’t be completely alone because Prospero probably needs some time out of his cage.”
After making a quick wave with his wand, the barn owl’s cage floated down the stairs and onto the table before them. The second William popped the latch the flustered bird jumped out and began to peck him on the head.
“Ow! I’m sorry!” yelped William as Prospero slowed his assault on the boy. “Sorry buddy. I won’t do that again. Next time I’ll just let you out myself.” This seemed to calm the bird down as he quietly chirped and rested himself on William’s shoulder.
“Are you sure you’ll be okay?” asked Harry as William motioned to the door.
“I’ll be fine. Trust me, this isn’t the first time I’ve gone into a hot spot.” laughed William as he made his way out. “I’ll come by the tryout later and see how things are doing.”
“See you later!” called out Ginny and Harry at once as he walked through the portrait hole.
“Not if I see you first!” laughed William before the portrait closed.
Having previous knowledge of William and his unspoken profession made it easier to not worry about him after he left the room. Rather than dwell on what could happen in the forest, they turned the attention back to what could happen on the quidditch pitch.
“So what’s the plan for today?” asked Ginny curious to know what tryouts would bring.
“Well for starters I was thinking that you and Seamus could oversee the potential chasers.” began Harry trying to imagine the simplest way to do things. “Both of you have the most experience, so I don’t think anyone will have a problem with that.”
“What about seeker?” Ginny said playfully. “Who should we consider for that position?”
“Gee, I wonder!” laughed Harry trying to imagine not playing seeker. “For beater, Dean said he wouldn’t mind trying another position. Now all we need to do is find him a partner.”
“What about Simon? You know, that second year boy who William gave his winnings to after the sorting?” asked Hermione hoping they recalled the event.
“Sure I remember him!” exclaimed Harry. “I guess he wants to put that broom he bought to good use. I’m sure we can fit him in.”
“All that’s left is keeper. It shouldn’t be too hard for Ron to find a suitable backup. Speaking of which, shouldn’t we wake him up?” asked Ginny as she glanced at the mantel clock hanging over the fireplace.
“I’ll go check on him.” said Hermione. As soon as the words left her mouth she, Ginny, and Harry began to laugh at the notion. Ron was never one to get up on his own. “I’ll be back in a minute!” smiled Hermione as she went up the stairs to his room.
Knowing it would take longer than minute to coerce Ron out from under the sheets, Harry and Ginny decided wisely to use what little time they had alone before tryouts.
“I had a dream about us last night.” whispered Ginny as she leaned on Harry enjoying the warmth of his body.
“What was it about?” asked Harry enjoying the closeness they shared in such things as dreams.
“We were moving into our home,” spoke Ginny recalling the vivid memory. “We had just gotten back from our honeymoon and all of our friends and family were there to help us move into this beautiful cottage in the countryside.”
Even though Harry was not looking directly at her, he could tell that she was smiling. There was nothing more he wanted than to marry this girl and spend this rest of his days with her. He knew she felt the same way. “That sounds like a wonderful place to start a life together.”
“Those were my thoughts exactly.”
Nothing more needed to be said. Each of them knew that the other loved them very much and it was only a matter of time before these dreams became a reality. But now was not that time because there was no need to rush things. Still, as the couple sat together quietly enjoying each other’s presence; they could not help but picture the life they would make together.
The creaking of the stairs brought Harry and Ginny out of their quiet snuggle as Hermione and Ron entered the common room. Ron was in a surprisingly good mood for someone who hated to get up early.
“What are you doing up before noon big brother?” laughed Ginny.
“I thought we were going to have to pry you out of bed!” added Harry who was just as curious.
“Well for one thing,” said Ron who was feeling very cheerful. “I’d much rather wake up to her face than yours!” He said pulling Hermione close to him and gave her a kiss. Once it was over he said, “Enough of this lovey-dovey stuff. Let’s play some quidditch!”
Harry was surprised as he walked out on the pitch. Rather than being the first one there, a small group of hopefuls had accumulated under the goal posts. By the looks of the crowd, he could tell most of them were first and second years; no doubt fans wanting to play with ‘The Great Harry Potter.’ Even people who didn’t usually play had gathered in the stands to watch. Among them, much to Harry and Ron’s chagrin, were Romilda Vane and Lavender Brown.
“I wonder what they’re doing here!” spoke Ron as he caught the girls out of the corner of his eye.
“Why don’t you forget about them and get your head in the game?” asked Hermione trying not to sound irritated by their appearance.
“Yes, ma’am!” saluted Ron as he, Harry, and Ginny made their way toward the crowd. After giving him a kiss for good luck, she took a seat in the stands as far away from Romilda and Lavender as possible.
“Good morning everyone!” began Harry addressing the potential players. “We’re going to start off today in groups to see what we have to work with this year. There are currently two spots open on the starting roster as a chaser and beater. For those who do not make either of these positions there is still an alternate spot open for each. Are there any questions?”
Immediately, almost every hand in the group shot up into the air.
Harry knew this would happen and asked, “Does anyone have a question pertaining to quidditch and not last year’s events?” The hands swiftly went back down. “Ok then, by position each of you will follow one of the seventh years. Chasers will see Ginny and Seamus down by the other goal posts. Keepers stay here with Ron and anyone going out for beater will go with Dean. Lastly, anyone who wishes to try out for seeker will come with me.”
As the groups began to disperse, Harry found that only three young Gryffindors had stayed to try out for seeker. Normally he would have expected a much larger following like most other things he did.
After introducing himself, Harry found himself pleased to meet these students. Before taking them up to fly he learned that Matthew and Andy were both second years and Amanda was a first year. Each of them was equally ecstatic to be flying with Harry Potter.
The first thing Harry needed to see before seeing their skills as seeker was to observe how well they could fly. After having them fly several laps around the pitch, he gave them each minor tips on how to improve. When taking a break shortly after, Harry could only laugh at the fact that he was doing this just hours before; first it was his son in the dream and now it was these 3 kids looking to make the team.
Meanwhile above the Forbidden Forest…
William beheld the endless expanse that was the wilderness of Hogwarts. From atop his broom he could see the lush green expanse of trees that stood in the shadow of the mountains beyond. This view from above gave the forest a quite peaceful look, but down below it was quite dark and dangerous, as the school was led to believe.
“Do you see anything unusual?” he asked the barn owl that stood on the shaft of his broomstick. Of course he knew the bird could not respond, but still he liked to have another animal’s opinion. Prospero simply turned his head and gazed out over the trees and immediately flew off. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
After flying at a reasonable pace for the better part of ten minutes, William was beginning to question whether Prospero had actually found something or if he was just flying for the sake of stretching his wings. He was about to round up the bird and call it quits when suddenly he smelled the faint aroma of wood burning. It was then that William just barely saw the weak column of smoke rising up from under the canopy of the trees.
Being so small, it was no one wonder Prospero had found it before he did. While his primal senses were better than most, his owl had the benefit of being born with them.
William had a good idea of what the smoke was coming from, no doubt a campfire from another scouting party like the ones that kept coming near Ruby’s nest. He had no desire to engage the centaurs at this time as they had done nothing to warrant an encounter. He instead stuck to the training his master had seared into his mind.
“Gather intelligence before making your next move.”
Although this section of the forest covered by dense layers of branches and leaves, William could try and learn as much about this party as possible. What he lacked in vision was made up in his sense of smell and hearing.
Excluding the scent of the dying campfire, William was easily able to pick up on 8 separate bowls of morning porridge and one poorly concealed latrine. Deciding not to investigate smell any further in disgust of what he would find, he would have to rely on sound instead.
After relaxing his body and clearing his mind, William found himself in a state of total peace where all that existed was him and the very sound of the world itself. In this meditative trance, no noise in a relatively large distance could escape him.
When his mind was focused on the source of the rising smoke William began to gather just what was down there. It came in strides of increasing magnitude beginning with the sound of hoof beats circling the campground. Next came the subtle rhythmic beating of hearts, twelve to be exact, spaced all around the dying fire.
‘So now I know how many there are.’ William thought to himself as another sound caught his attention. At first he could not make it out, but then it came to him. The slow bending of wood and pull of tensile string should have registered instantly, but then again he had been out of practice for some time.
Any archer in the world could recognize the faint draw of a bow and arrow. Knowing the archery skill that centaurs prided themselves on, William was unsure of what to do. All that was certain was the centaurs below held his life in their hands.
Back on the quidditch pitch…
Harry watched closely as the three potential seekers dashed through the air towards the practice snitch. While Matthew and Andy were quick on their brooms, Amanda was able to come from behind with great stealth and take the snitch from their wanting hands.
As their task was completed, a smiling Amanda flew down to Harry followed by the sneering pair of boys. Her natural talent on the broom and something in her face made him think he had seen her somewhere before. Compared to these two boys, she had shown more than enough to gain a spot on the team.
“That was a very good effort boys. Why don’t you take a water break?” suggested Harry as the two young men sat down on the bench. “Nice grab Amanda!” he said pulling her to the side. “Have you ever played this game before? If not then you have some natural talent.”
Amanda knew this would come up and decided to play it cool. “Well my mother played before I was born. She taught me how to fly when I was little.”
“Really?” Harry asked excitedly. “What’s her name? Maybe I’ve heard of her.”
“Singleton, Ariel Singleton.” replied Amanda quietly.
“Speedy! Your mum is Speedy Singleton?” said Harry exclaimed.
“Yes, but could you keep it quiet?” asked Amanda. “I’d rather not let everyone know I have a pro quidditch player for a parent. I just want to be treated like the others.”
Harry could easily understand where she was coming from. “You know Amanda; I think I know just what you mean.” This put a smile on the girl’s face. “I rather not let the others think I’m giving you the alternate seeker position because your mum played either.”
This put an even bigger smile on the girl’s face. “You mean it Harry?”
“Definitely,” replied the boy. “Just try and act surprised when I post the results tomorrow. Okay Amanda?”
“Ok Harry.” said the girl ecstatically. “Just another thing, would you mind calling me Mandy? All my friends do.”
“Sure thing Mandy!” exclaimed Harry, letting her join the two boys on the bench.
Turning back to the pitch, he could not be happier with the way things were going. Ron was making great strides with the crowd gathered behind the goals, while Seamus and Ginny were practicing throws with their kids. Dean was also doing well with Simon as they beat the bludgers back and forth. Before he could ride up to check on their progress, Harry’s stomach gave a growl that could be heard up in the stands. A lunch break was definitely needed.
“Kreacher?” called out Harry.
Less than a second later the seasoned house-elf appeared before him with a crack. “Yes, Master Harry?”
“Would you mind making a lunch spread for the tryouts?” He knew it was late notice but he also knew that Kreacher loved tasks like this.
“Winky and I have already made the preparations Master Harry! We thought you all would like something to eat.” exclaimed the elf with a smile.
“You’re the best Kreacher!” replied Harry gratefully. As the rest of the group came in for a break, Kreacher, Winky, and several other elves began to assemble a long table filled with food.
Upon seeing the grow arrangement of refreshments, the rest of the team begin to come down and pile around the table. Once they had their food the respective groups of seniors and trainees scattered around the grounds. Harry was quickly joined by Ron, Hermione, and Ginny.
“Good idea with the food Harry!” exclaimed Ron as he dug into the sandwiches on his plate.
“I thought we could all use something to get our strength up for the remainder of tryouts!” He then turned his attention to Ginny. “So how is it going so far? Have you found any decent prospects?”
“I’ve only seen a few so far. Maybe someone will surprise Seamus and me before day’s end.” This worried Ginny because if no one did indeed impress her then Gryffindor would not have the strong offense that they prided themselves on. “What about you? See anyone that might fill your shoes after this year?”
He then proceeded to tell them all about Mandy and her prowess on the broom. As the conversation shifted back and forth amongst the four friends, Harry learned from Ron that he had found a protégé in a second year boy who had very good flexibility in defensive positions. From Hermione he learned that Romilda and Lavender weren’t constantly talking about him and Ron. She half lied because the only reason they stopped was after she threatened to curse them into oblivion.
As they continued to consume the food on their plates, a large shadow covered the ground near him. Upon turning around to see what had blotted out the sun, he was greeted with a friendly sight.
“Well I hope I didn’t miss tryouts!” bellowed Hagrid as he strolled onto the pitch. His giant half-brother followed closely behind him.
“Not at all Hagrid!” said Harry as he shook the burly half-giant’s hand. “We were just getting ready to start the second half.”
“That’s good to hear. I wanted to show Grawp how this game works.” The giant in question was looking out at the kids on broomsticks with a child like gaze. “If he’s going to stay with me here, then I’d best give him a proper education of the sport.”
“I’ll help him learn.” said Hermione in a very kind manner. “He’ll be our biggest fan in no time!” Everyone laughed, not because he would literally be the biggest fan, but the simple image of this gargantuan individual in Gryffindor scarlet and gold cheering his heart out made each of them smile.
Back in the Forbidden Forest…
William didn’t know how long he had sat there on his broom. He had learned before that time tends to slow down and draw out like a knife under certain circumstances. This scenario was no exception. Instead of panicking, he decided to remain calm in anticipation that the centaurs would reconsider his status as a threat. He hoped that was what the faint chatter from below was all about.
As slowly as the bow string was eased back into resting position was just how quickly William’s unease was put to rest. Rather than wonder why they had let him go, he decided to simply take it as luck and headed back to Ruby’s nest with Prospero in tow.
The return flight back toward the school was much more relaxed as William knew that the worst was behind him. Still, he knew that conflict was eventual as this group of centaurs was indeed a hunting party; one large enough to bring down a dragon.
Upon returning to the nest, William found Ruby to be just as restless as when he had left her earlier. Like any worried mother, her complete and utmost attention was on the egg sitting at her side. William and Prospero could have been six-headed griffins landing in her nest and she would have never acknowledged their existence. With that being said, she had no reason to recognize this young wizard and his owl.
“Don’t worry girl. It’ll be okay!” said William trying to reassure her that the egg would hatch. Her persistent nudging didn’t help either. Like many other birds of prey, dragons need to enter the world with strength and resilience. The hatching would be their first test. The only thing that either of them could do now was to wait and see.
Instead of waiting in silence, William sat on his Phantom’s trunk reading the All Knowing Almanac. Prospero sat idly by as his new master thumbed through its thick pages reading the coming weeks’ news. Having a book that contained the daily news for the next 25 years was very valuable to the passerby, but to William it was a way of expecting the unexpected. Since his arrival in the past William made a weekly sweep of the papers in hopes of catching events that could possibly affect the people he had sworn to protect.
In the next few weeks, the Almanac pointed out that trials for reputed Death Eaters would soon begin. Before he could gain any greater details of these events, William’s attention shifted to the rustling of leaves. After putting down the book, he looked toward Ruby who was again nudging the egg in its leafy basket.
“Please stop doing that!” said William as more of a request than a command. This boy was one of the few people that Ruby had any sense of respect for and immediately shifted her head back to resting on the ground. “Just give it time. It’ll hatch eventually.” She was somewhat relaxed by these words but her gaze never left the egg.
Satisfied with her sudden calm demeanor, William returned his attention to the Almanac. Before he could find the spot he had left off at, the rustling of leaves interrupted him yet again. “What did I just say, Ruby?” asked William in a slightly frustrated tone.
When he turned to look at her again, William noticed that her head was lying on the ground just as how he had left her. The only thing moving this time was the egg.
Ever so gently, as if the slightest disturbance would upset the hatching, William and Ruby inched forward. The movement from inside the egg was just enough to disturb the ground on which it laid. As both man and dragon perched themselves around it, a faint crack began to descend on the egg’s increasingly brittle side.
Like the slow but miraculous birth of a baby chicken, the hatching seemed to last forever but neither Ruby nor William could take their eyes off of this new life’s entry into the world.
“Come on little one! Push!” said William with an air of calm excitement. It was then that a small piece of egg fell giving its tiny occupant a view of the outside. The boy could only see black scales at first, but suddenly a small flap opened revealing a small bright purple eye.
As quickly as the eye appeared in the opening, it was replaced by a small snout that gasped for its first breath revealing a tiny set of sharp teeth. With a renewed sense of strength, the baby dragon began to push through the shell with greater force until its entire head was sticking out.
Ruby immediately craned her head in and lovingly licked the pieces of shell off her newborn. As her tongue cleared the excess material, the baby slowly opened its eyes letting them adjust to the bright forest light. Upon seeing what was obviously its mother, it let out a tiny cry.
“Happy birthday!” exclaimed William as he lovingly rubbed Ruby’s neck. “You’re a mum now so no more eating people!” he laughed while turning his attention back to the baby.
The newborn continued to cry and shake in the remainder of its egg. These were not pleas for help, but rather shouts of joy as the surrounding shell began to slowly disappear. Little by little more of the baby started to appear. First, there was a head, which was quickly joined by a wing. Then another wing appeared, followed by a foot. After what seemed like hours, an entire baby dragon sat proudly in the remains of its ebony shell.
After Ruby had properly cleaned it up, and with her permission, William slowly moved in to examine the creature. It looked surprisingly healthy for such a long stay in the egg, but he could guess that Ruby’s former diet had something to do with that. Upon closer inspection, William learned that the baby was a male and that he was purebred Hebridean like his mother.
William slowly moved his hand in hoping to show the baby that he was no threat. Like a dog would react to a stranger, he cautiously sniffed his hand to learn the boy’s scent. When William felt the small tongue on his hand he knew that all was well. He then petted the giddy infant on his sides noticing the soft scales before they would harden permanently. The dragon seemed to like to be played with because his tail flew around wildly in excitement.
That was precisely when William found the distinguishing characteristic that made him unique like Ruby and her crimson eyes. Unlike most Hebrideans that held an arrow shaped spike at the end of its tail, this baby possessed a tail with a sharp double headed axe shaped spike. He would hate to anger this dragon when it matured.
“Good boy!” said William as he let the baby go back to its mother. As Ruby pulled the newborn under her wing he let out several playful yaps. It was fairly obvious to both William and her that he was hungry. “Let me see if I have any leftover treats in my trunk!”
Unfortunately for the baby, Ruby had eaten the last of the Every Flavor Beans in her waiting for the egg to hatch. That was most likely for the best because this tiny dragon needed hearty foods like meat in its first few weeks of age. “I’ll have to go and find something for you both.”
As William began to put on his coat and walk the wooded path back to the school he suddenly stopped to call Prospero. It would be nice to have company on the walk to and from the main grounds. The loyal owl quickly flew over and landed on the sleeve of his coat. Once the pair resumed their walk William heard a quick skittering sound across the leafy floor. When looking back he found the tiny dragon sitting before him. “No, you have to stay here with your mum little one.”
The baby instead remained seated in hopes that it could go with William. Prospero, who was slightly afraid of this creature and its status among birds of prey, flapped his wings nervously as he inched closer. The baby then flapped his wings in a show of admiration to the abilities this bird possessed.
William was relieved to find that the dragon stayed put when he continued down the path. He seemed so mesmerized by Prospero’s flapping that he kept testing the strength of his wings until he was eventually able to hover a few feet off of the ground.
When William saw this he promptly said in concern, “Don’t get too excited little one! Your mum will show you how to properly do that when you’re a tiny bit older!”The dragon disregarded his pleas until finally it reached a steady beat of flapping and took off into the air.
William immediately took off after him as he raced out of the nest and into the forest. Ruby, in concern for her newborn, tried to go after him before the magical barrier William had put in place stopped her. The only reason the baby could exit, as William deduced while chasing it through the forest, was because the barrier was cast to contain Ruby and not a baby dragon.
Before long the baby took off even faster into the trees until he finally broke through the canopy of the forest and into the sky. William knew that he could not catch him on foot so he raced back to the nest for his broom.
Upon reaching the nest, he found Ruby fruitlessly trying to break the barrier to no avail. He then picked up his broom and called Ruby over to him. She hesitantly left the edge of the barrier and came over to him. “I know that I have no right to say this, but I need you to stay here!” Although this dragon did not understand human language, she knew he was asking the impossible. Her only reply was a mighty roar. “If you leave the nest, then I can’t promise you’ll be safe. I can get him back without endangering either of you, but you have to trust me!”
The more time her baby spent by itself the chances of its survival went down exponentially and because of this she had no choice but to let him go. “Don’t worry girl! I’ll get him back safe!” William said as he affectionately rubbed her neck.
He then grabbed his broom and took off up and out of the forest. He then put another spell on the barrier just as a safety precaution. He needed no one else entering her nest, especially when she was angry and unpredictable.
Instead of flying off in a random direction, William whistled for Prospero who promptly flew up and onto his broom. “I need you to help me look for the baby.” The bird recognized this query from earlier and turned its head to look out into the distance. In the same fashion as his earlier expedition, Prospero lead the way and William followed.
The destination became all too clear as William began to see shapes at the edge of the forest. It was no hallucination, but the very distinct image of goal rings. The baby dragon was headed toward the quidditch pitch. “I hope they’re on the ground!” William exclaimed as he leaned in and took his broom to top speed.
“So is everyone ready to get back in the air?” Harry asked as the empty plates began to pile up on the table Kreacher had set up. He took the enthusiastic rise of students from their seats as a yes. “Ok then, let’s get to it!”
The elder students each took their groups and made off to different parts of the pitch. Harry at the moment was transfixed by a strange sight at the edge of the forest. At first glance it looked like some strangely large bat, but it was daytime at bats would be asleep. “Hey Ron, come here for a second!” said Harry motioning his friend over.
When he was at his side he asked, “What does that look like to you?”
He too was flabbergasted and could not for the life of him see what this thing getting closer was. He was about to call Ginny over to get a second opinion but she was too busy describing to her group how to grab a loose quaffle. “I don’t know Harry but it looks like it’s coming this way!” Ron said in concern.
Harry was about to call in the practice teams just for safety when suddenly two more figures appear at in the air above the forest. This time he knew exactly what they were. “I think William has a loose dragon on his hands.”
At that moment, William had just arrived at the pitch and was just mere feet away from grabbing the baby dragon. He nearly had it when a group of players appeared in the air causing both William and the dragon to divert their course. “Coming through!” he yelled as he bobbed and weaved his way past the crowds.
As they safely passed through the now hovering mass of people, the dragon made a breakaway for something on the grounds near the bleachers. Even though William had the upper hand on a fast model broom, he could not help but admire the sheer grace and elegance of flight this dragon displayed. “You’re a speedy little devil, I’ll give you that!” He thought to himself as the baby dropped to just a feet off of the ground and the gap between them closed.
If William was going to make a move, then he knew he had better do it quick because the bleachers were coming up very fast. The idea came to him just like they used to; at high speeds with the wind in his face. With his mind made up, William used the remaining speed he had a pulled alongside the dragon. He then swung his legs up onto the shaft of the broom and quickly jumped for the dragon.
Seeing as how they were only a few feet off of the ground the initial force of the landing did not hurt William or the dragon shielded under his arms. The rolling and tumbling would only leave him with a few bruises at most. That turbulent feeling soon ended as William found himself face up on the ground with the dragon still in his arms. For a few seconds he just laid there with his eyes closed glad he and this creature were both alive. In fact, he was pretty sure he heard Ginny in the distance yelling, “Now that is how you’re supposed to go after a quaffle!”
Before the sun could blind his eyes, two smiling faces greeted him. “Now I remember you saying that you would drop by later but I didn’t think you were being literal!” Harry laughed as he helped the boy off the ground.
“Don’t I know it!” William replied as he stood up and dusted himself off. When Ron began to laugh hysterically he said, “Here hold this!” to which he then deposited the baby dragon in his arms. Now it was his turn to laugh as a squirming Ron held the newborn.
“So I’m guessing that Ruby’s egg hatched this morning.” Harry said as William took the baby back knowing Ron had got the point.
“You guessed correctly.” William replied as the dragon relaxed in his arms. He contributed this to animals being comfortable with the first creatures they see. “This little guy is barely an hour old and already he’s giving me trouble. You’re just like your mum!” he said in mock anger as he held the baby up near his face.
“He learned to fly awful fast.” Harry observed. “I remember Ron’s older brother Charlie saying that it normally takes a few weeks for normal dragons to learn how to fly. I think it’s safe to say that, like his mother, this is no normal dragon.”
“You can say that again!” he remarked holding up the double axe shaped tail spike as evidence.
“I wonder why the bloody hell he flew over here!” Ron said taken out of his daze by the swinging tail.
The very instant those words left his mouth, William finally found the reason. Having not eaten all morning, the smell of the remaining food being cleaned up by Kreacher and numerous other house elves was hard to resist. “Gee, I wonder” he said walking over to the table.
“It’s good to see you again, Master Black!” spoke Kreacher as he stopped cleaning for a moment to greet the young man. “What brings you to the pitch this afternoon?”
“It’s good to see you as well, Kreacher!” replied William in all sincerity. “Actual this little guy brings me to the pitch.” He then introduced the ancient elf to the rascally newborn. “Would you happen to have any spare pieces of rare meat? I think the two of us could use a good meal.”
“I’m sure we have some leftovers, Master Black!” he then rummaged through the food finding two large rare pieces of beef. “These should do!” William quickly thanked the elf and returned to Harry and Ron.
While William was getting the food, Harry managed to find William’s broom and bring it back from off of the pitch. “I think this belongs to you,” he said while turning it over to him.
“Thanks Harry!” he replied almost forgetting that it was there. He suddenly remembered that he had intruded on their tryout. “I’m sorry to keep you guys from the tryouts! If you have to get back, then I’m sure me and the little one can manage.”
“If that works for you!” replied Harry realizing that he did need to return to his young recruits. “Stick around and watch. I’m sure Hermione could use some company besides those two!” William knew exactly what he meant when seeing the brawny half-giant and his larger yet younger brother sitting near the bushy brown haired girl.
“Yeah, I see what you mean!” he laughed. “Now get to it! I want to see some all-star quidditch this year.”
Before going to see his recruits, Harry decided to go and see the group that William tore through on his way to the pitch. He flew alongside Ginny as Seamus took them to start throwing drills.
“So is everyone ok?” he asked while pulling in for a quick kiss.
“Everyone is fine so far!” she gasped in after considering William’s entry. “No one is hurt thank heavens! Lucky for us William is such a good flyer.”
Harry was thinking the exact same thing. There was no doubt in his mind William’s skills as a chaser helped him avoid the recruits and catch the dragon. It was then that an idea began to form in his mind. “Yes, thank heavens. By the way, have you found any potential chasers to fill the third spot?”
Ginny was taken aback by this sudden change of topic, but when she saw the look in Harry’s eyes she knew what he was thinking. “Not yet. Do you have any ideas?” she asked playfully.
“I think I might have a certain individual for your consideration!” he smiled back at her knowing the jig was up. “What do you think?”
Ginny liked William as a person as well as a flyer, but her only worry was what the other senior chaser would think. “I think you’ll need to convince Seamus more than me. He and William haven’t exactly gotten along since he’s been here.”
Harry knew that was true, but he also knew that Seamus showed was a sucker for talent on a broom. “If I know anything about those two then it’s they both love a challenge.”
He laughed after imagining just how much these two could tear up the competition with their talent on a broom. “Don’t approach him right away, but before the end of practice make sure you get William in the air. If all goes well then you should have your last chaser.”
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