The Dying Dragon
It's hot. Too hot.
Hariel Lily Potter groans into her arm, finding whatever is in her mouth to be carrying an absolutely awful taste. It's like an awful combination of burnt-to-charcoal bacon and the sandpit Dudley had once forced her head into on the playground at primary school.
Another groan parts her lips to escape, and the brunette sucks in a deep breath before attempting to roll over.
She hurts, she hurts everywhere, and she's got a big gap in her memory.
What the hell had she been doing before this? It must have been something important, she only ever gets injured when it's something important. Or Quidditch, but despite what Hermione thinks, Quidditch is important too.–
The soreness in her muscles is absent though, more a screaming agony actually, so Hariel's pretty certain it isn't Quidditch that landed her in this mess. Though judging by the feel of wood beneath her fingers, there's every chance it involved a broom.
With another muffled whimper of pain, Hariel finally manages to roll up and of her broom, which to her absolute shock, is completely intact.
So, whatever makes her feel like she's gone six rounds with Dudley's fan and faced Voldemort right after, it hasn't damaged her beloved Firebolt. Which is good, a relief.
What isn't so good is that instead of meeting pleasantly dry, clean grass, she's rolled into something yucky.
Clenching her eyes shut and counting to ten, Hariel slowly turns her head and peels back her eyelids.
Instantly, she wishes she hadn't.
Everything comes back to her with the force of a sledgehammer.
The Triwizard Tournament, that damn dragon, being it that area and facing the giant beast down. Her sheer panic, clutching at her wand with one hand, broom in the other and wishing that she was anywhere but there.
And then, then there had been pain.
She'd blacked out, Hariel thinks, staring in horror at the liquid that currently dampens her hand and shirt.
Yolk, a sickly colour of semi-clear yellow intermixing with fleshy pink, stretches out from the shattered remains of an egg a little larger than Hariel's head. Between her and the shell, a very obviously dead baby dragon rests, it's tiny form lying broken not even an arms length away.
Hariel bites on her lip, trying not to cry but it is a failed effort.
Oh god, whatever she's done has killed one of the dragon's babies.
Oh Merlin, Hagrid and Hermione are going to hate her. Just like everyone else already does.
It's not fair, she didn't want to be in this tournament anyway! She's clearly not ready for it!
Tears stream down the corner of her eyes, the brunette pushing back the pain and forcing herself up onto her hands and knees.
A wave of vertigo washes through her mind with ruthless force, Hariel instinctively upchucks the merger contents of her stomach. Her abominable protest the motion, but her body ignores them, forcibly continuing to heave against her will, until all that passes by her lips is bile, escaped down the corners of her mouth to gather and drip from her chin. She wants to collapse again, face first, but her brain manages to forcibly push her body back until she rests on her heels instead.
It smells of vomit and off egg, the scent of death overlying everything and Hariel really wishes she hadn't sat up and back.
Because now she can see it's not just the one dead baby dragon.
There's other eggs too, making five in total, stretching out before her like a morbidly scattered trail. Each is surrounded by a scattering of broke shells and splattered yolk, and more tears stream down her face.
What were they thinking, using real dragons eggs in the tournament? Where was the considerate thoughts towards intelligent life?
It doesn't matter that dragons are known wizard killers, it doesn't mean that these babies should have suffered for what amounts to wizarding sport.
Hariel whimpers, body shuddering and muscles shaking as she sits there in terror.
She's not sure how much time she spends staring at the trail of death before her, it would probably be far longer had a sound not knocked her from the trance.
It's a broken, wheezy noise, the kind Hariel would only ever expect a human to make should their ribcage have caved in.
As the sound originates from the dragon she had, however long ago, been facing down, Hariel feels her muscles spasm as she freezes in terror.
But the beast does not snap at her, a jet of fire does not come racing towards her.
Instead, sad yellow eyes flicker over at her form, as if beckoning her closer.
Hariel is hesitant, but then the dragon gives a wet cough, blood oozing out from between its large fangs, and Hariel understands.
The dragon is dying.
She remembers being in that position, basilisk poison running through her veins and scorching her insides, and as much as she had hated Tom Riddle in that instance, part of her had been glad she wasn't dying alone, without a single soul to watch her pass on.
Perhaps- No, Hariel's almost certain the dragon feels the same way.
Her body protests every damn motion, but she forcibly shuffles it the last few meters, until she has managed to cover the space between her and the dragon's head.
"I'm sorry," she hacks out, drawing in a shaky breath as she does so, "sorry that we've both suffered for something we didn't get asked about, that we got pulled into. I never wanted to compete in this stupid tournament."
The sun is burning hot on the back of Hariel's neck, and for a moment she marvels over how well the bobble has managed to keep her hair up in a ponytail. No doubt soon her tanned skin -an oddity, Aunt Petunia had called her, the daughter of a red hair should never have had such a tan- will darken even more.
She has no idea where she is, no idea where she could possible be to experience such heat in November.
"I'm sorry about your eggs, but if it's any consolation, I think I'll probably die out here too."
The dragon snorts and with great effort, it lifts one of its gigantic wings to reveal four carefully stashed eggs.
"You managed to save some," Hariel whispers in awe, unable to find the energy to remain up any longer.
She flops onto her back, in the process spotting a trunk lying in the dirt not too far away.
It takes a moment of staring, which is followed by blatant hysteria when she recognises the trunk as her own. What the hell it's doing here, Hariel doesn't have a bloody clue.
Maybe their accident wasn't so accidental after all.
"I'm glad you managed to save them," Hariel breathes, arms stretched wide across the ground.
The sun sits high in the sky, midday, and she wonders if it brings the dragon any relief. Certainly it only tortures her, the heat building no matter the stray wind.
The dragon growls low in her throat, and when Hariel turns to her, she's terrified to realise the beast's mouth is glowing with fire.
But it's an accepting kind of terror, certain with the belief she will not manage to get away, to dodge the blow in any form. She belatedly realises her wand is still clutched tightly in one hand, but she doesn't know any spells to protect herself from dragonfire.
Even if she did, Hariel finds her mind startlingly blank in this moment, once again facing death and knowing that she will not be able to escape it this time.
Only, the flames do not burn.
They curl around her body, not welcoming, not accepting, but coming to an accord.
Nothing is said in words, she cannot hear a voice in the fire, but the message is clear.
Hariel did not live through any form of goodwill from the gods, she had not magically survived the fall.
The dragon had saved her.
Knowing it would die unless she left all her eggs to crash to the ground, the mother had opted to save both as many as she could, along with the magical human. Because Hariel was her only chance to see her surviving eggs hatch and grow.
The fire dies down and with tears in her eyes, Hariel forces herself onto unsteady feet.
"I'll do it," she swears, even though she has no idea how she will do so, if it's even within her capabilities to look after and raise those four baby dragons currently hidden by their mother's wing, "I'll look after your babies. I know you saved my life for that reason only, but I will do it anyway."
The dragon is still watching her with exhausted xanthous eyes, but it gentle nods its head, as well as it can manage.
The Horntail may have only saved her because it is the best chance her eggs would have, but it's enough for Hariel. She'll see them raised, for it is what he owes the dragon.
Her resolve firm, the witch stumbles towards the dragon's wing, and though she gives a defensive growl of warning, the Horntail reluctantly relents and allows Hariel to climb in and join the eggs.
There, the witch rests, mind spinning with all the facts she has recently learned of dragons, mentally recalling all that she can from the Norberta fiasco.
Alongside four dragon eggs, Hariel Potter sleeps.
Hours later, after the sun sets and the moon rises and falls, the dawn breaks, and the mother dragon dies.