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Falling Hard

Chapter Text

Surveying the landscape in front of her, Rose was wowed by the beauty of the mountains, taking in the majestic view as birds careened through the sky. The endless blue sky was interrupted by snow-capped mountain peaks, each of which she knew was inhabited by some of the most interesting magical creatures and beautiful nature that she could have ever imagined to see.

Sighing, she bent down and picked up what looked like a discarded cap and checked her watch. Five minutes to three. Rose drank up the scenery as she shouldered her pack. It had been months of traveling solo, and this by far had been the most beautiful location that she had found a Portkey.

Rose loved traveling internationally, but Apparition often gave her motion-sickness and flying on broomsticks across the continent really made her sore, so she sought out Portkeys to get her from place to place. Often, she could just chat up a fellow traveller who would give her a Portkey location, and if she was lucky, a good suggestion of what to do when she arrived wherever the Portkey took her. She had travelled through most of the European continent by this point, and even managed to cross the Mediterranean and have a few adventures in Egypt and Morocco. She smiled at the thought of the bazaars she had been to in Egypt, and the delicious food she had in Morocco. For Rose, while the sights and museums were interesting, especially the Muggle museums that had really interesting artifacts (and were often magical or held references to magic- which fascinated the Ancient Runes nerd in Rose to no end), she loved just walking around and being able to interact with the locals- Muggle and Wizard communities alike.

She was pulled back out of her memories when an owl hooted down at her, sounding insistent and a bit peeved that it had just flown up a mountain. In the middle of the day. Blast. She would have recognized that obnoxious owl anywhere. It was her dad’s owl, Pig. She thought by now that they had given up on trying to contact her. It had been months since she had responded to one of their letters in any great length, often glancing over them to make sure that no tragedy had befallen her family before stuffing them in her pack and continuing on her journeys. It’s not that she didn’t want to talk to them, she did after all send them quick notes ever couple of weeks to tell them that A.) she was still alive and B.) to not be concerned because she was an adult and could handle most anything that could happen on her travels. But that didn’t stop them, her father especially, from sending Pig out every few days with a long letter from home.

Ignoring the owl, as she always did, she glanced down at her watch again. One minute to three. She planted her feet firmly in the ground beneath her and tried to mentally prepare herself for the trip. While she did prefer using a Portkey from place to place, it made her nauseous every single time that she used it. Nausea, according to Rose, was preferred to the intense motion-sickness and dizziness (and potential for splinching) of Apparition.

Her watch dinged and she felt a sudden tug in her stomach as she was pulled towards a new place. Before she could even form a cohesive thought, she was plopped down in the middle of a dry field. The birds continued chirping around her as she stood up, nonplussed by the witch who had appeared out of nowhere, brushing debris off her jeans and hiking her pack firmly on her shoulders. Looking around her, all she saw was field, except for one slightly hazy patch of land that sometimes appeared to be a field and other times looked a little bit like a circle of tents. Nodding her head, she headed towards this odd patch of land, hoping that this was where she could find someone to tell her where the nearest town was.

As she tramped across the field, her pack as light as a feather thanks to some spells her mum had helped her with, she took in the beautiful fresh scents of the world around her. London had nothing on this. It was completely incomparable. There was almost nothing Rose loved more than being outside, and by far her favorite activity was sitting outside with a good book and letting time pass her by as she was absorbed into the book. Tramping about in a field was very much up her alley, since she could enjoy the fresh air, endless blue sky, and gentle sounds of the birds around her.

Rose focused harder on the weird haze in front of her that marred the perfect landscape that she was trying to enjoy. Pulling her wand out of the pocket of her jacket, she tapped it gently against her chin, thinking of the best spell to use to figure out what exactly this strange haze could possibly be. She had an idea of what it was supposed to be, but of course, she needed to be certain before she kept walking and stumbled into a potentially dangerous situation. She was nothing if not careful when it came to traveling along, especially when she was faced with what seemed to be something covered in a concealing charm.

“Revelio.” she murmured and smiled when a new scene unfolded in front of her.

Before her stood an expanse of buildings and tents, a riotous mix of colors that made her grin like a child. While the small buildings were colored an innocent beige and modestly topped with dark wood roofs, the tents ran the gamut of colors. From the darkest of blues to brightest of yellows, each tent was adorned with flags and banners, some in English and others in languages that she couldn’t recognize from the distance. She continued on, speeding up as she neared the site.

Rose was startled by a roar that shook her to her bones. Looking around, she saw a tuft of smoke arise on her left as something seemed to catch on fire. Never one to shy away from her natural curiosity, she altered her path to take her to where the smoke was coming from. Still outside the circle of tents and buildings, she quickened her pace to take her around the perimeter of the encampment. Gasping in amazement, Rose took a step back as a giant green dragon appeared as she turned the corner of the encampment, smoke rising from its nostrils as it swished its tail back and forth, seemingly irritated at the wizards who swarmed around its feet. The dragon shook its head, and Rose noted the impressive gold horns that protruded from the top of its head. The dragon’s nostrils flared as she got closer, and she took an involuntary step backward when its head swung menacingly in her direction.

Before she could even think, a fireball was hurtling in her direction, hot and containing the ability to turn her into ash in mere seconds.

Without thinking she shouted, “Protego Duo!” and winced as the fire crept its way over the edges of her shield, feeling the immense heat of the dragon’s fire as it charred the ground in front of her.

Looking around, she saw the dragon being reigned in by ropes as stunning spells were hurtled at the dragon, who was growing angrier by the second. One person approaching her, projecting a steady stream of water that put out the fire that had sprung up around her, the field turning to wet ashy ground around her shield. As soon as the fires were out, she took down her shield and put her hand over her eyes, squinting into the sunlight to see the person approaching her. As they got closer, she broke out into a humongous grin as a familiar shock of bright red hair came into focus.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, approaching her.

Walking quickly, almost running, Rose shouted back, “Hiya! It’s me! Rose!”

As the two got closer, both grinned even wider and Rose was soon enveloped in a bear hug from her dearest uncle.

“Well hello there Rosie,” her Uncle Charlie said, holding her at arms length as he inspected her for cuts and bruises. “I certainly didn’t expect to be seeing you around here, and especially not to be the cause of a dragon to set most of a field aflame.”

Rose laughed and shrugged, following her Uncle Charlie as he led her towards the tents and buildings that she now realized must be a part of his dragon sanctuary.

“Well I wasn’t exactly planning to come here,” she responded, “I was supposed to be in Slovakia.”

Charlie looked down at his niece and chuckled. “Well you’re a few countries off, welcome to Romania. You’re welcome to stay here for a bit if you want. We can have dinner and I can show you around the sanctuary,” he paused, “and I can introduce you to the dragon who just tried to make you his dinner.”

Rose smiled back at him and responded, “I would love to stay for a night, and to meet a dragon, but maybe after I’ve fully recovered from the shock of having one try to burn me to a crisp.”

“Alright, sounds good,” Charlie said as they entered the encampment. “I’m glad to see you Rosie, and if you need any help getting to Slovakia, let me know. I’m sure I could help you whip up a Portkey to get you there. It might not be the most legal thing in the world,” he smiled wryly and shrugged his shoulders, “but it’ll get you where you want to be.”

Chapter Text

Sun streamed through the tent flap and Rose rolled over, hiding her face in the pillow. Last night, she and Charlie had toured the dragon sanctuary where she had been able to meet the other people that worked with Charlie and the dragons.
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The entire concept of the sanctuary was fascinating. Charlie explained to her that the goal of the project was to help promote the care and protection of the dragons, especially when poachers would try and kill the dragons so that they could harvest their organs and horns for profit. When she had asked why they were in Romania, he had carefully explained that the Romainian Longhorn dragon was one of the dragons that was most endangered because its horns were highly valued as potion ingredients, and poachers would do most anything to acquire the dragon’s horns. A Romanian Longhorn, ironically, was the dragon that had shot fire at Rose, and in all honesty, she couldn’t understand why some people felt the need to risk their lives getting its horns when they were such powerful beasts when they’d be met with such an irate beast. When she expressed this sentiment to her uncle, he had just laughed.

“If only everyone was wary of these beasts as you are,” Charlie said, ruffling her unruly mane of red curls, “but unfortunately we spend most of our time trying to keep these beautiful dragons safe from greedy bastards who see money whenever they look at the creatures.”

After they completed the tour of the sanctuary, she and Charlie had gone back to his tent, a monstrosity of a thing that he had obtained from Grandpa Weasley and was inhabited by Charlie and various people who worked at the sanctuary. Charlie had whipped up dinner for them, a nice meal of local food that left Rose feeling full. She sank into the chair cushions, resting her elbows on the expansive wooden table as Charlie cleaned up after them.

Slowly, her eyelids began to droop, the toll of traveling via Portkey finally taking effect. Shaking her head, Rose thanked her Uncle Charlie and retreated to the couch, listening to the clank of dishware as they cleaned themselves and Charlie bustling around the tent muttering under his breath. Rose relaxed into the couch cushions, promising herself that she would rest her eyes for five minutes before getting up and spending more time with her uncle, but her body had rebelled and she found herself sinking into a deep sleep.

Charlie looked over and smiled at his niece who had fallen asleep sitting up, snores reverberating through the tent. He quietly picked her up and carried her over to an empty bed, where he carefully removed her shoes and covered her with a light blanket. He hadn’t seen his niece in years, and yet today she had just shown up at the sanctuary. But in typical Rose Weasley fashion, she had caused quite a stir after almost getting scorched by a pregnant Romanian Longhorn, who he had been trying to calm down for hours after someone had accidentally let another dragon too close to her.

Casting a silencing charm around her to let Rose get some sleep that wasn’t interrupted by dragon roars, Charlie called out for his owl. He quickly scribbled a note to his brother Ron, letting him know that Rose was safe and sound, purposely ignoring any mention of the dragon attacking her, and sent it off, but not before offering his old owl some tasty treats for the flight. Sure that Rose would sleep through the night, Charlie left the tent to get back to work.
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Sitting up, Rose rubbed her eyes and flopped over, groaning as her muscles stretched out, since they had tightened from the shock of the Portkey from the day before. She looked around and noticed her Uncle Charlie sipping a cup of tea at the table. Patting her hair down, she reached over and grabbed her shoes, which had ended up at the end of the bed. Quickly, she tied the laces and stood up, reaching all the way up and letting out a big yawn.

“Good morning sleepyhead,” Charlie called out, looking up from his cup of tea. Rose padded over to the table and took the tea cup that waited in his outstretched hand as the teapot floated over to fill it with piping hot tea.

“Mmm yeah thanks,” Rose murmured, bringing the hot cup of tea up to her mouth and taking a long sip.

Charlie smiled at her, “Nothing better than a cuppa in the morning, especially after the harrowing day you had yesterday.”

Rose set her tea down. “Oh god I almost forgot that happened,” she said, chuckling, “it seems like a weird dream. It’s certainly not everyday that you magically appear in a field and almost get burnt to a crisp by a dragon.”

“Certainly not a regular occurrence for you, I’m sure,” Charlie said, getting up and going over to the stove, “but I can promise you, if you ever decide to work at the sanctuary, it will happen so frequently you’ll forget to even be scared.”

Rose shuddered, “Thanks, but no thanks, one near death experience by a dragon is enough for me, thank you.”

Charlie laughed and set down a poached egg and toast in front of her. “Ah well, I can’t say I blame you,” he teased as he sat back down across from her, “but it is an exciting place to work.”

Shaking her head, Rose remarked, “I see you’re now on the ‘let’s help Rose find a job’ train too, huh? I’ve heard nothing but advice from Mum and Da about it since I graduated from Hogwarts.”

“Oh you can do whatever you want, Rosie.” Charlie said, biting into his toast, “I just wish you would put your talent to use here, but I understand wanting to get away from England. I’ve been here for decades, and honestly I can’t really see myself going back and leading a regular life in quiet old England. So my real advice is that you should do whatever you feel passionate about, even if it is traveling around the world via Portkey and almost getting torched by a dragon,” Charlie said with a bit of a chuckle.

Rose smiled wide. “Thanks for understanding Uncle Charlie, I wish Mum and Da would see it the way you do.”

“They just worry about you,” Charlie replied, sopping up the rest of his egg with a piece of toast he nicked from Rose’s plate.

Rolling her eyes, Rose smiled at him. “I know, I know, I just wish they wouldn’t harp on it all the time. All I want to do right now is travel.”

“Speaking of traveling,” Charlie interjected, reaching over to the end of the table to grab what appeared to be an old soda can. “I was able to get you this Portkey. The guy who made it for me said it should take you to the middle of Bratislava in Slovakia, and you can continue your journey without any fuss.”

“Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!” Rose smiled broadly at her uncle. “When does it leave?”

Charlie checked his watch. “Ten minutes?”

Rose scrambled to her feet and looked around for her pack. “Why didn’t you say anything earlier?” She exclaimed, grabbing her pack and throwing it haphazardly over her shoulder, scanning the tent and assessing whether or not she had left anything laying around.

“Well, uh, honestly, I wanted to convince you to stay,” Charlie replied, “And anyways, ten minutes is plenty of forewarning.”

Rose rolled her eyes and checked her watch. Eight minutes. She grabbed the Portkey out of Charlie’s outstretched hand and gave him a big hug. After all, she wasn’t to know if she would see him again soon, or if it would be another few years until she could see her favorite Weasley uncle.

Rose held on until Charlie slowly extricated himself from her grasp, turning to the counter to grab a pile of nicely wrapped sandwiches that he placed in a little brown bag that appeared- quite literally- out of thin air.

“Just some snacks for the road.” Charlie smiled self-consciously at her, “I’m not the best cook in the world, but I figured even I can’t mess up a good bacon sandwich.”

“Oh thanks Uncle Charlie, they’ll be perfectly I’m sure,” Rose grabbed the bag and checked her watch. Two minutes.

Quickly, she put the paper bag into her pack, and giving her uncle a last hug goodbye and wishing him all the well, she marched out of the tent, Portkey firmly in hand. One minute left.

Rose felt the familiar tug in her stomach as the time ticked down. Thirty seconds.

Suddenly, without warning, she felt as if her feet had been snached out from underneath her as she was hurled through space to Bratislava. She landed with a hard thump and winced as her ankles screamed in protest at the hard landing. Glancing around, Rose realized that she had plopped down in the middle of an alleyway, which she hoped was in Slovakia, because God forbid she had another problem with a Portkey taking her to the wrong place.

Rose shrugged her shoulders and made her way out of the alleyway. She tightened her hold on her pack and stepped out into the sunlight, hearing a loud yell coming from her left. Before she could even process what was happening, Rose felt a sharp pain in her foot as she was run over by a motorcycle, causing her to fall back into the wall behind her, her hands desperately reaching out in front of her, searching for something to grab on to. Her vision lit up with a thousand stars as she cracked her head on the stone behind her and immediately everything went dark as she lost consciousness.