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Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon

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Even enchanted light doesn't reach far into the darkness of the Forbidden Forest. The trees seem to suck the glow from the lantern, obfuscating whispering shades behind ferns and bushes.

Hagrid only spots the hill of black because the animal moves. If it had lain still, the groundskeeper would have walked right past. He might have wondered about the broken branches scattered around come daylight, but he would've found an empty spot. But the animal stretches before settling deeper into the turf, its eyes kept closed.

Hagrid creeps closer, used to maneuvering his giant bulk silently through the forest. Could it be?

The dragon is small, far smaller than the ones Hagrid likes. Its hide is pure black and it lacks the horns and spikes, but it's undeniably a dragon. A hurt dragon, he amends when he sees the tear in the wing of the magnificent beast.

What is even stranger than the presence of this baby dragon of an unknown kind is the fact that someone has cleaned and bandaged the wound. There's no shine of blood, no self-inflicted cauterization of the wound. Instead fern leaves are wrapped around the wing, keeping a dressing pressed against the ragged edges.

Embers glow on the ground, stemming from a fire surrounded by thick logs. They barely give off warmth anymore, but the fire is set up far too delicately for a dragon to have made it.

Something alerts the dragon and its head jerks up, its pupils constricting in the lantern light. The dragon lowers its head, lays its huge ears back and growls at Hagrid. Its voice is lower than that of a baby dragon. Also, Hagrid is in mortal danger. If it flames, there's little he can hide behind. And at this distance he’ll be incinerated before he can reach for his crossbow. Not that he wants to hurt the dragon - it's already sad to see that it has gotten injured somehow.

The dragon coils tighter against something hidden beneath his injured wing. The something makes a noise of protest and a human hand appears over the dragon's hind leg.

Alarm bells take over Hagrid's mind. Has the dragon taken a student?

The head that pops up belongs to someone well past a student's age, though. The guy looks uninjured as he works himself to his feet, standing inside the curve of the dragon's wings and its hind legs. He raises an arm clad in leather armor to shield his eyes against the lantern light.

“Hello?” he says, stepping over the leg. The dragon keeps on growling and gets to its feet as well, hunkered down and ready to pounce.

“Hold on, Toothless,” the young man says, extending a hand backwards. “Who are you?”

Hagrid dims the light a bit and the guy lowers his hand. “I'm Hagrid, groundskeeper and teacher at Hogwarts. What are you doing all the way out in the Forbidden Forest with an injured dragon?”

The young man is small, but the leather armor he wears makes him seem prepared and capable. He looks apprehensive but he has to be a great wizard, because the threatening dragon behind him bares its teeth though it listens to the man's non-verbal spell.

“My name is Hiccup, this is Toothless. And if I had any choice in the matter I would've not been here in this... Forbidden Forest. Oh, and don't kill Toothless, dragons are just misunderstood and this guy's my best friend.”

The guy tenses up when Hagrid laughs. “I would never kill a dragon!” he says and extends his hand to shake Hiccup's. “C'mon, follow me and I can get you and your dragon something to eat and some bandages instead of fern leaves.”

Hiccup and Toothless look at each other as if to gauge the half-giant's trustworthiness. Hiccup only steps forward when Toothless lowers its hackles and sits back on its haunches. This master wizard doesn't use mind control if he follows the dragon's cues; it seems more like a partnership.

“How'd you find yourself accidentally visiting the Forbidden Forest?” Hagrid asks. Hiccup hustles to keep up with Hagrid. His gait looks a bit off but he keeps up well enough. Not injured himself, then.

“Well,” Hiccup begins, “I'm not sure, but I definitely know I've left Berk a long way behind.”