“Pleeeeese, Percy?” A ten-year-old Charlie begged Percy as if Percy were the older sibling. “Mum won’t let me go unless someone else comes too; and Bill’s busy getting his books for his second year.”

Percy sighed and nodded. “Sure, I’ll come to the pet store.”

Charlie beamed and got permission from their parents before they set off across the street to Mister McMoggan’s Pet Store, the place in which Charlie spent more time than Percy spent in Florish and Blott’s (which was really saying something). But Percy couldn’t complain; he liked reading about the different animals and dreamed of what it would be like to own some of them. And he knew Charlie had just gotten a new book about the different breeds of dragons and was in what Percy liked to call a magical-creatures-craze.

They wandered around the creatures, the only customers in the shop, examining the Fwoopers and Puffskins and some sleek rats who almost reminded Percy of the brown rat Scabbers he had found in the backyard two years ago and had kept as a pet ever since. Charlie didn’t seem too interested in most of the animals, he was ready to get back to their parents in about five minutes.

“There’s nothing exciting this time,” Charlie sighed as he began one final walk around the room as if some new and exciting creature would appear.

“Just as well; Mister McMoggin isn’t here.” Percy didn’t like Mister McMoggin; he was skinny with a cruel smile and long, thin, graying hair. If he didn’t know Mister McMoggin was a store owner, he’d think he were a homeless criminal.

“Huh, wonder if he’s in the back – Percy get over here!” Charlie gaped behind the counter where, at a certain angle, you had a view of the back rooms.

“What?” Percy hurried to where Charlie was standing and didn’t need his brother’s help finding out what Charlie was so excited about; there were puffs of smoke coming out of one of the rooms and occasionally you could see the glare of a flame on the doorway. After staring at it for several moments, Percy whispered to Charlie. “Whad’you reckon he’s got back there?”

“Maybe a fire crab?” Charlie glanced around to make sure they were alone (which they had been for the past few minutes). “Wanna go and see?”

Percy shuffled uncomfortably. On the one hand, he really wanted to see what was back there, and on the other hand he didn’t want to disappoint his parents by being caught where he shouldn’t be. On the first hand, they’d be really quick about it; Charlie was fairly good at getting out of sticky situations. He agreed.

They ducked behind the counter and walked quietly to the room, checking to see where Mister McMoggin could be. Thankfully, he wasn’t in the back room with the flames so Percy and Charlie were free to walk in and inspect what was inside it.

“It’s – it’s a dragon!” Fascination light itself in Charlie’s eyes. “A baby dragon, probably recently hatched. But how did Mister McMoggin get one; they’re like a Class B Non-Tradable good!”

“Class A Non-Tradable good.”

“That makes it even rarer!” Charlie eagerly pulled out his book of the different breeds of dragons and his eyes darted from the pages to the dragon trying to label it.

Percy hadn’t seen many dragons, especially not baby ones this small, but this one seemed a bit unusual. For one thing, it was white but its scales had specks of green and its fire was purple right by its mouth, instead of blue, before it became yellow at the tips. It also seemed to be as curious to the Weasley brothers as they were to it and it didn’t flame at them (even so, they were a considerable distance away from it).

“I – I don’t recognize it at all. Its white portions are like the Swedish Short-Snout, but the green specks look the same color as a Welsh Green.”

“Maybe that’s why he’s hiding it,” Percy muttered softly.

“What was that?”

“Well, Mister McMoggin does seem odd, and he’s not supposed to have this in the first place,” Percy frowned as he considered it. “And you’re sure there’s nothing about this breed in your book –”

“Yeah, and this is the latest edition, too!”

“Maybe he got it from someone who was experimenting with the breeding of dragons, and, this is a new cross-breed!”

“Oi! Who’s there?” The greasy voice of Mister McMoggin called from further within the store.

“Run!” Charlie slammed his book shut and fled from the pet store; Percy hot on his heels. They dodged the counter and were soon flying down the cobbled street to the Apothecary, where their father held a squirming Ron (just over two years old) while he bought Bill some Potions ingredients.

“Oh good, we were just about to look for you –”

“Mister McMoggin has an illegal dragon in the back of his store!” Percy exclaimed.

“That’s a powerful accusation, Per –”

“We saw it!” Charlie continued. “We saw a flame in the back and went to check it out and it was a baby dragon and I think it was freshly hatched and it wasn’t like any of the dragons described in my book!” Charlie held up the new book of dragons they had just bought.

Their dad looked from Percy to Charlie frowning. “I’ll let the Ministry of Magic as soon as I get there tomorrow morning.”

Seeing the dragon in the pet store was bigger than Charlie and Percy ever imagined. Some department that dealt with magical creatures in the Ministry searched Mister McMoggin’s home and found many illegal objects that connected him to the black market. After a bit more searching, they found Mister McMoggin was in charge of a serious illegal market that traded non-tradable items (like the dragon egg). Charlie was more concerned with the dragon they found, which they heard was sent to a dragon reservation in Romania. Percy was happier than ever before; every which-way Ministry officials were congratulating him on finding the most wanted man on the black market. However, Mister McMoggin refused to come quietly and after a struggle with the Ministry workers, the Daily Prophet reported one morning that Mister McMoggin had escaped and was at large.

“Horrible, horrible,” Percy’s mother shook her head as she passed the old pet store as they ran errands a few days later. “I’m just glad Mister McMoggin didn’t catch you two; he turned out to be a dangerous man. Fred! George! Get back here, now!” The five-year-old twins had dashed off towards the abandoned store.

“I’ll get them, Mum.” Percy promised as he set off after them.

“Thanks, dear.” She began to hurry off after Ron, who had already started taking off his socks and shoes as soon as he was far enough away.

Percy, glad his mother could trust him, entered the store and his happiness melted into foreboding. Since the windows were covered and the store was vacant it was rather like being in a haunted house. “Fred? George?” Percy called. He caught a glimpse of brilliant orange hair diving around the corner and followed it. “You’re not allowed in here, we need to go back now.” He heard them giggling and chased after the sound. “Come on, there’s nothing in here anyway.” He saw a door swing shut and hastened to open it. But as the door squeaked on its hinges instead of finding Fred and George, a skinny man with long thin hair huddled in a corner.

Percy had just seen where Mister McMoggin was hiding.

Hoping the criminal was asleep, Percy made to creep away when the man looked up at him and his hand clenched his wand.

Percy was doomed; his only hope was to get Fred and George out of there and hope they could alert their mum.

“Fred! George! Run! Mister McMoggin is here! Get mu –” All went black.

A loud snore woke Percy in the dead of night. He was in a dark room he didn’t recognize with a sleeping Mister McMoggin and – to his dread – George.

George wasn’t asleep, it looked as though he couldn’t, but was shivering in a tight ball. Percy crawled over to him.

“I didn’ get out in time.” George whispered as Percy sat next to him. “He was shootin’ spells at us an’ Fred dove out the door bu’ one got me in the back.”

“It’ll be alright; look, we can escape. Mister McMoggin isn’t guarding us. I think he just wanted to make sure we didn’t give him away.” He looked towards the open door. “Come on.”

They began to crawl away from Mister McMoggin but by the time they were halfway across the room everything went cold. Percy frowned; this wasn’t right. But before he could think of what it could be a terrible dread came over him. Every happy thought was drained out of him and replaced with foreboding. He stopped crawling. What was the use?

“Percy? What was that? I’m scared.” George quivered again.

Percy didn’t respond, but he didn’t have to, for someone – or something – had entered the room.

Whatever it was had a long hood covering its face and a cloak falling to the floor. It turned to Mister McMoggin and glided toward him to trap the man in a corner. One of the things came in behind the first one, but instead of going towards Mister McMoggin it began to go after the boys. George clung to the back of Percy’s robes and buried his face in them.

“Make it stop, please stop it!”

All Percy could do is hold George behind him. Memories of the war flashed through Percy’s head; running into the basement with Ron while Bill and Charlie grabbed the twins, the midnight duelings his parents did while Percy tried to keep Ron asleep, going to his uncles’ funerals. The thing’s hand (Percy tried not to vomit) covered in scabs and decay reached for the thing’s hood.

Expecto Patronum!” A silver weasel ran through the room and, like a lighting fire, chased away the cold turning Percy’s insides and forced the hooded things to back out of the room. Once they were gone Percy’s father came running in followed by a horde of Ministry officials.

“Boys, you’re alright!” He wrapped them in his arms. “Oh, your mother was sick with worry, we’ve never gone through so many calming draughts, even during the war. Are you hurt?”

“We just woke up, Dad,” Percy said importantly. “He didn’t do anything bad to us.”

“What were those things?” George asked fearfully.

“Dementors. They guard the prisons in Azkaban, they were added to the mission, as was I, after you were taken.” He continued talking, but Percy didn’t listen.

If that was what happened to people who went against the Ministry, Percy would always make sure he was in the Ministry’s favor.

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