Chapter 1 : The Protectors
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Very few remained witnesses to this chaos; most were already settled into the warmth and safety of their own homes. The surveyors that were left to endure this ill tempered mistress were now being forced to watch a deadly light display. One that included angry, yellow bolts sent to hover just above the tree tops, before splitting their dry wood into two with a terrifying crack!
Miles below the heart of the storm lay a small babe huddled into a ball, shivering and shaking every so often when the noises reached her delicate eardrums. She had tried to sleep through the rage of the thunder, but its strengh proved to be too frightening. No more than sixteen weeks had she been on this planet, yet she was already experiencing one of the worst storms of the century.
Her mother lifted her own head to glance over at the half sleeping form. Her whiskey colored eyes took not even a second to see the fierce tremors shooting through her baby, and she rose to her feet with surprising speed for a female of her size. It was being a mother that did those things to her, gave her that extra surge or energy, of power, that she didn’t know she had.
She moved quietly to her baby, unsure of how best to lay alongside her flesh and blood without further disturbing her. After a moment of contemplation, she chose to curl up behind her, and threw a large wing over the tiny body. She let her nostrils flare, and from them gave a steady snort. A stream of warm air cut through the icy cold and blanketed the baby dragon, her Calla.
The cozy heat flowing from her settled the baby down almost instantly. She felt her own heartbeat calm just a fraction as the trembling form under her began to relax.
She waited until her baby’s breaths were even before adjusting her body to gain a bit more comfort. With the shifting of her weight, she felt a stabbing sensation spread through her midsection. Her tired mind brought to the surface images of the attack that was forced upon her earlier that day. The memories were a blur of fear and blood; she had fought tooth and nail to get her and her baby to safety. She would rest, then they would find their way back home. They would be safe. Calla would be safe.
The morning air was still damp from the night’s tantrum. Large branches that had blown over now littered the woods, along with the small patches of blackened ground that had been charred and ruined from the simmering flames of lightning.
“Over here,” a voice shouted through the early sunlight.
The dragon woke with a start, the sound of human presence drilled the fear back into her. She used her powerful, dark wing to push the baby behind her, wrapping her tail around the small body. Calla squealed in protest, but she was able to calm her by slowly swaying the large, purple tail back and forth, easing her into the soft world of relaxation.
As the voices grew closer, she stood on her two back legs. At her full twenty-eight feet, she was a terrifying sight, made even more intimidating by the vast length of her wings. Her golden eyes watched, waited. She was too injured to continue their travel just yet, so she would try to frighten the intruder away. She would do whatever it took to keep the humans from harming Calla.
The three men that had been making their way through the forest stopped dead in their tracks. She let out a small snort of pleasure, happy to find that the mere sight of her put them off.
“I don’t know about this, Charlie,” the first one spoke in a shaking voice. “Maybe taking a break from Herbology and jumping straight into this wasn’t my finest idea.”
“Don’t worry Neville, just keep calm. I saw you yesterday with that mutated Blast-Ended Skrewt. You have a way with creatures. You’ll do fine, now listen up.” She watched as he paused to tie his mess of red hair into a low ponytail. Something about him felt familiar, safe. “I want you to set these up, MacFusty. If the men you told us about are still looking for her, this should pick up on them.” The man reached into a sack hanging from his injured shoulder. The wound was so fresh that she could smell the blood coming from it. From the sack he pulled out two odd looking items and tossed them to one of his companions with ease.
“I’ll place the Sneakoscope over here a bit out of the way, should be close enough to notice if it goes off. Now, who wants to handle keepin’ an eye on the Foe-Glass?” MacFusty asked, holding up what she assumed was the Foe-Glass he spoke of.
“Would you mind, MacFusty? If Neville really wants to find out whether or not he’s cut out for this kind of career, I think it’d be best for him to be involved.” Charlie answered, shooting an excited smile at Neville.
She watched as the man named Neville nodded at the familiar one, Charlie. Neville’s eyes seemed glued to her, the uncertainty in them had her wings nearly humming in delight.
“Ah, Delilah my darling, how I’ve missed you.” Charlie mumbled, causing Neville to shoot him a suspicion look.
“She’s named after a flower?” At that, Delilah let a deep, rumbling roar escape her mouth. The intensity of it could have easily competed with the thunder that raged through their world the night before.
The memories of the redheaded Charlie slowly started creeping back into her. He was the one that had given her the name Delilah, and she had been the owner of that name for a very long time, so she couldn’t have been more than a babe herself when she had first met this human.
“You see, mate? She likes it, and obviously doesn’t appreciate you questioning it. Though she did give you a break, considering that her fire could easily reached us if she really wanted it to.” Neville shuddered at Charlie’s words, but his yes remained glued to her.
She was satisfied that Charlie was aware of her power, her strength. She drew back the remainder of fire simmering at the base of her mouth and moved her tail a bit to be sure that her baby was still secure.
Delilah’s wings remained open, but she allowed her hind legs to rest just a bit. There was no sense wasting her energy on humans that she knew meant her no harm; her instincts told her they were not the enemy. It was necessary to save that for their journey ahead. She gradually lowered herself until her front legs touched ground, satisfied to simply wait these humans out. Her baby was still asleep and she was in no hurry.
“Can you fill us in again on what exactly happened, MacFusty?” Charlie asked as he moved to face the blonde haired man.
She felt recognition dawn as her flawless eyesight noticed the scars on the rough, tanned complexion of the man. He was the leader of his clan. Yes, that was it. He was one of the men who attempted to protect her and the other Hebridean Black dragons. His people had coexisted along side hers for as far back as she could recall.
“Well, you are aware of the beatin’ Hebrides Islands took last night thanks to that bloody storm, I assume?” After receiving a nod from both Charlie and Neville, he continued. “I suppose a few poachers saw it as their chance to head into our land and take a try with the dragons. You see, that thunder was the cover needed for the spells they’d have to use to try and get one knocked out, or injured enough to control. We all know it isn’t spells that can take these creatures on, their skin is thicker than a giants. Poachers start figuring that out for themselves, and they move onto more barbaric measures of takin’ a dragon down. Delilah there and her new babe, Calla-”
“Calla, as in Calla Lily?” Neville interrupted. Delilah threw out another snort, wondering if this man would contradict every name he was told.
“As in Calla Lily. It’s a nearly black-”
“A nearly black lily. Remember Charlie, you’re talking to a Herbologist, here.” Neville answered, laughing as he spoke.
“Anyway,” continued the leader of the MacFusty clan. “Delilah and Calla were closer to the front of our area. We try to give the Blacks a hundred square miles of territory, it gives them room incase they get it in them to start a fight. It makes it easier to calm one down before it reaches another. Proud ones, these Hebridean are. We usually have a few men in charge of each one, watching from a distance every so often to be sure all is well,” he paused for a moment, his eyes growing darker, before he continued.
“Last night, though, one of the males got a bit put out by the storm. Delilah and Calla were nearly unprotected when the poachers snuck in. I came running just in time to see one piecing Delilah’s stomach with some kind of knife that was well over five feet long. Another was going after Calla with a net that had been lit on fire. They saw me coming and took off. I was set on catching them, and tried to follow. I even managed to nearly hit one with the Cruciatus curse. By the time I turned back to check on the dragons, she was already taking flight with Calla on her wing.” The man had been quiet as he spoke the words, Delilah was thankful her hearing was strong.
She felt the remnants of agony run through her as the memory grew clear of the stabbing pain that pierced her skin the evening before. She had looked over Calla carefully, using her tongue to bathe the babe and clear any of the burned scales that the net had caused. Her health had seemed stable the previous night. That was what mattered: Calla’s life.
“Alright, throw up some protective charms, will you, MacFusty? We don’t need anyone walking in during this. Delilah had a run in with poachers when she was only two, eighteen years ago. I was the first on the spot and brought her into the protected area while she healed. Even then she was a monster to calm down, I can’t think it will be much different this time.” Charlie mumbled the last few words under his breath, not wishing for her to hear and take offense.
She had been too captivated by his words that told of her earlier life to notice. She remembered somewhere deep inside the men that went after her when she was young. For her blood, they had said to each other as they chased her into a dark cave. Her blood could create a potion to increase a human’s lifespan. It could drive out poisons cursed into the body. Her blood was strong enough to be used as the base of any brew, and pure enough to give human women their youthful skin. Her blood could even be mixed with a potion she had been told was called Sleeping Draught, and with it the Draught would put one into the smoothest, most peaceful of rests.
Yes, her blood was magic. She knew this. She had been hunted for this.
Now they were hunting her and her babe. These two men that she knew, maybe she would trust them, if they could bring her Calla to protection. The one whose scent wasn’t familiar - with him, she would be cautious.
“Neville, while MacFusty watches the Dark Detectors, we are going to try to get closer, okay?” Charlie held his hand up as Neville motioned to argue. “Do you see that light blue strip on Delilah’s belly? Dragon’s heal fast, but internal injuries always leave a sign. That light blue means she’s still bleeding under the surface.”
Delilah felt a choking moment of fear at his words; she had known she felt weak, fragile, but hoped more rest would cure it. Her instincts of a mother took over once again, and she moved Calla from behind her tail, offering a full view of her.
“Good girl, good girl Delilah.” Charlie coaxed. “Okay, I can see the marks left from the net. They must have used a cursed type of flame,” he mumbled. They were within feet of the her now, within feet of the baby that began waking from a restless sleep.
“Stay still, girl. We want to help, okay?” She nodded her head, wanting them to understand that she would allow them to touch her Calla, to heal her.
Charlie and Neville took a few more slow steps, now within inches of the giant creature and the kitten sized one. Delilah was happy to see that the new man, the one called Neville, was approaching her baby with both hands held out in surrender. He sat next to Calla and gave her gentle pets as he unstoppered a potion, then murmured something about it being able to rid her baby of the darkness that the cursed flames had caused. She believed him.
Her head grew fuzzy, her insides felt weak, like they hadn’t been nourished in years. She let her body slowly rest to the ground, hoping she would grow stronger if she used less energy.
“Charlie! Charlie, do something!” Neville shouted, taking the redhead’s attention away from the burn reliever he was applying to Calla. She watched through a blackened haze as he ran to her and placed his calloused hand on her nose. The touch of it felt safe, and she hoped he would give her baby that touch, also.
“Neville, we can’t, it’s too late.” His words were heavy, they sounded painful to his lips.
She heard the voice of MacFusty, but couldn’t understand what he was saying. She could smell the one called Neville draw closer to her, and with him came the sound of squeaks from her Calla. He was bringing her baby closer, and she tried to nudge at him to show her appreciation. Calla. Calla. Calla. They had to protect Calla.
“We’ll take care of her, Delilah.” Neville whispered.
His voice was the last thing to ever reach her ears before her beating heart forever froze.
Written for Gryffindor House!
Final word count for the story is: 2,497 words
- features your House’s Champion (5 points) Neville
- mentions at least 1 Unforgivable Curse (5 points) Cruciatus Curse
- mentions a Blast-Ended Skrewt (5 points)
- features a dragon (10 points) Delilah and Calla
- mentions a Sleeping Draught (10 points) When talking about dragon blood.
- includes mention of at least 5 of the 12 uses for dragon's blood made up by the author) (15 points)
- mentions at least 2 of the fllowing types of Dark Detectors: Foe-Glass and Sneakoscope (15 points)
- features a theme of flourishing in the face of adversity (25 points)
Thank You Staffers for putting this amazing House Cup together!
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by anne potter