Friday, 11th April 1992
The Hogwarts library, early afternoon.
“Look at that sky,” said Ron, staring out the window. “What is that strange colour? Isn’t it called ‘blue’ or something? Oh, and what’s that bright shiny thing up there?”
“I think it’s called the sun,” said Harry.
“That’s the sun? Wow! I’ve heard about it, but I thought it was only a legend! Hermione, you have to come see this!”
“Very funny, you two,” said Hermione, looking up from the study schedule she was putting together. “Yes, I know we’ve had a streak of bad weather lately, and that this is the first fine day we’ve had in a while, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
“Come on, Hermione, can’t we take a short break?” said Harry. “Spring is here! The Easter holidays start tomorrow, that’s two weeks with no classes!”
“Just because we don’t have class doesn’t mean we don’t have work,” said Hermione, going back to her schedule.
Harry sighed. “You’ve been at this since the end of February. Can’t you just —”
“No, I can’t. Exams are in eight weeks. What if I fail all of them and have to repeat my first year?”
“C’mon, Hermione,” said Ron. “You’re the top student of our year. The only way you’ll fail your exams is if you have a total breakdown in the exam room and write ‘I’m a daffodil, I’m a daffodil” on all the answer sheets.”
She paused in her writing to look up at him. “That’s oddly specific.”
“It’s what happened to my cousin Daniel. He wasn’t the best at dealing with exam nerves. On his written Transfiguration exam he got so nervous he went into some weird trance or something and wrote that he was a daffodil on all the answer sheets. I think he wrote it three hundred times or something. Even asked for extra paper. Worst part was, before he got the exam results he thought he’d done pretty well.”
“Hmm.” She looked at him, as if trying to make up her mind whether she should believe this story or not.
“Besides,” Ron went on, “it’s been weeks and we haven’t found out anything new about the Philosopher’s…”
Hermione finally put her schedule down. “Don’t!” she said. “At least not here in the library,”
“Hermione, just because McGonagall yelled at you when you tried talking to her…” Harry began.
“She said I was wasting my time on nonsense!” Hermione snapped. “Students are not supposed to snoop around like that, Miss Granger, I am very disappointed in you. I suggest you focus on your school work instead,” she added in an approximation of McGonagall’s Scottish brogue .”And then there’s the way she just… oooh, it’s so infuriating!”
“The way she just what?”
“Brushed me off! I’m never going to her with anything ever again. I don’t care if she’s my Head of House. Do you know what she told me? She said if she ever caught me snooping again, she’d take fifty points from Gryffindor. Fifty!”
“Well,” said Ron lightly. “Who says she has to find out?”
Hermione gave him a scathing look. “She’s certainly going to find out if you keep talking about this in public!”
“Public? We’re the only ones in the library right now!” Ron protested. “Everyone else is out in the sun!”
“I’m not taking any chances,” said Hermione. “If you want to talk about a certain Stone, you’ll have to do it at one of the scheduled times. Here, according to my schedule we have an hour before bed next Tuesday.”
Harry and Ron stared at her. “You’re mental,” said Ron. “You’re absolutely mental. What if Snape decides to torture Quirrell or something? I mean, we’ve all clearly underestimated the bloke, since Snape obviously doesn’t have the Stone yet, but if that git loses his temper and —”
“Well, we know it won’t help us one ounce to go to McGonagall with it,” said Hermione. “But I don’t think he’ll have the chance to do anything to Quirrell for a couple of weeks at least. Haven’t you heard? Quirrell’s taken a leave of absence.”
“He has?” said Harry, surprised.
“You never look at the notice board, do you?” said Hermione. “Yes, he left after Defence class yesterday. According to the notice he’ll be back after the holidays.”
“That’s weird,” said Harry. “I thought the teachers stayed at Hogwarts for Easter, same as us.”
“They do,” said Hermione. “But apparently Quirrell had something important to do that couldn’t wait. And while we’re speaking of important things that can’t wait…” She returned to her schedule.
“Hang on,” said Ron, who was tilting his head to read her schedule. “You’ve only put in two hours for talking about ‘a certain Stone,’ but you have an entire day next week listed as a ‘girl day’?”
“Still a girl, Ron.”
“I know you’re a girl, it’s just… what are you doing on these girl days that’s so important?”
“Seeing as how you’re not a girl, it’s really none of your business!”
“Does it have anything to do with the Fae —” Harry began.
“Will you stop asking me that already!” Hermione snapped. “You’re obsessed, Harry, you know that? Now please be quiet so I can finish my study schedule. Then I have to read through my Astronomy essay and make sure I’ve memorized all seven of Gamp’s Transfiguration laws.”
Saturday, 12th April 1992
The Hog’s Head Inn, late afternoon.
The building was just as shabby and disreputable-looking than Jenny remembered it. The slightly off-kilter stone walls, the old wooden sign with the cheerfully morbid image of a severed and bloody pig’s head, the glass windows that were so grimy you couldn’t see in through them…
Jenny blinked and looked again. Yes, those were iron bars over the windows. And unless she was much mistaken, the front door was iron as well. Rusty, but definitely solid iron.
“He really wanted to make certain, didn’t he?” she said.
“Ah, s’not meant fer you!” said Hagrid. ”Aberforth jus’ got a little paranoid about Auntie Vidia, er, back in the seventies, after that thing with the Black family.”
“A black family? What black family?”
“No, no, their name was Black. Y’know… the New-Bloods? Remember? S’not that long ago since we talked about ’em.”
“Oh, them,” said Jenny. “But they didn’t have anything to do with him, did they?”
“Nah, but like I said, he got paranoid. Don’ worry… like I said, it don’ got nothin’ ter do wit you. He knows iron won’t harm you… you’re just as half-human as I am, an’ I’ve bin in an’ out o’ this place more times ’n I can count. Now c’mon, we’ve bin puttin’ this off fer too long already.”
He opened the door to reveal the dark, dingy barroom inside. It too was just as shabby as she remembered it, with very little light, rough wooden tables and a floor so dirty you’d be forgiven if you thought it was an earth floor. There were a couple of changes, though, including piles of straw in the oddest places, and… oh no… the unmistakable smell of goats.
A few people were sitting by the tables, nursing their drinks. She didn’t recognize any of them, but of course most of them were wearing cloaks and hoods that obscured their faces… almost as if they were ashamed to be seen in a place like this.
And there, behind the counter, reading what looked like a magazine…
He looked up as they entered, nodding at Hagrid. “You’re early, Hagrid,” he greeted. “You want the usual, I expect….” he trailed off as his eyed rested on Jenny. His jaw dropped, as did the magazine.
“Hi, Dad,” said Jenny.
“Jenny…” Aberforth Dumbledore said hoarsely. All of a sudden, he stiffened, staring at her with something much like panic. “What are you doing here? Is your mother here?! I told her, she’s not welcome here!”
“Good to see you too, Dad,” said Jenny. Wow… her father looked so old. So wrinkled and grey-haired. Of course, Uncle Albus had looked old too… that was what happened to mortals after a while… but somehow he had carried it better.
“Tell that bitch she’s not getting any of my goats!” Aberforth snapped.
“Fer the hundredth time, Aberforth, Auntie Vidia doesn’ want yer goats,” said Hagrid.
“Did she tell you that?” said Aberforth. “Don’t you believe her! She’s wily, that woman!” He glowered at Hagrid. “If I find out that she’s waiting outside…!”
“She’s not,” said Jenny. “It’s just me. I wanted to see you, Dad. It’s been…” she paused. “It’s been years.”
Aberforth looked at her. Slowly, he relaxed and his expression softened. “All right,” he said, in a much calmer voice. “Close the door, will you? Oh, let me get you a drink. On the house, of course. I think I still have some Butterbeers here… yes, here we go.” He reached down behind the counter and pulled out a dusty bottle.
“Well, er, this is nice,” said Hagrid. “I’m jus’ gonna go… er…talk ter that bloke over there.”
As he moved off, Jenny approached the bar.
“Hi, Dad,” she repeated.
He placed the dusty bottle on the counter. “You want a glass? Of course you want a glass. A lady doesn’t drink out of the bottle. I’ll get you a glass.”
She looked dubiously at the bottle. It was impossible to say just how long it had been lying behind the counter. ”You… wouldn’t have anything a little stronger?” she hazarded.
He placed a comparatively clean glass down on the counter. “Of course. Got plenty of stronger stuff. But you’re having Butterbeer.”
“Dad, I’ve been an adult for decades. I can handle my liquor.”
“Butterbeer,” he repeated as he opened the bottle for her and started pouring.
She sighed. “Fine. Butterbeer.”
An awkward silence followed. For some reason, Jenny didn’t quite know what to do or say. With Hagrid or Uncle Albus it had been easy; she’d just hugged them and started talking… but here she was with her father, and she couldn’t bring herself to do that. And it seemed like he didn’t quite know what to say or do either. He just shoved the full glass over to her without a word.
“So,” she said. “Still keeping goats, I see.”
“That picture over the bar’s new. Is it Aunt Ariana?”
“I would have visited before… It was just that, well, you know —”
He waved her off. “Your mother and I wanted different things out of our relationship. She wanted to fuck other people and I didn’t. Had to end badly. It didn’t have anything to do with you. Er, you didn’t think it did, right? I heard somewhere that some kids blame themselves if their parents split up.”
“No, I didn’t blame myself. I understood why it happened.”
“Good. Good. Always knew you were a bright girl.” Then, apparently, another thought struck him, because he looked sharply at her. “I hope you’re not here to try and talk me into giving it another go with her?”
“No, Dad. I just wanted to see you, is all.”
“Well. Good. Good,” he repeated. “Because I’m staying the hell away from your mother. Not risking any more of her curses. I’m not saying my life is a giant party these days, because it isn’t, but I’d hate to lose it all the same.”
“Now you’re just being melodramatic,” said Jenny. “She wouldn’t kill you. She’s a lot of things, I know, but she’s not a killer.”
“No?” Aberforth looked at her. “I’d ask you to tell that to the Black family, but there aren’t that many left of them, are there?”
“Dad…” Jenny sighed. She hadn’t been thrilled about that entire New-Bloods situation either, but she couldn’t help but feel he was being just slightly unfair. “You know she didn’t kill any of them. They’re not dead.”
“That’s debatable,” said Aberforth. “There are many kinds of death, girl. Not all of them mean you stop breathing.”
Before Jenny could decide on an answer to that, there was a sudden commotion from the other side of the room. Jenny and Aberforth both turned to see Hagrid standing over one of the hooded men, looking furious. The man had spilled his drink and was backing off from the furious half-giant. His face was still obscured, but even if Jenny couldn’t see his face she could tell he was terrified.
“Where did yeh get it?!” Hagrid demanded.
“Found it!” the man wheezed. “Up in the mountains! I swear, I didn’t steal it or nothin’!”
“Liar! There hasn’t bin one o’ these in this realm fer centuries!”
“Hagrid!” Aberforth snapped. “What have I told you about bothering my customers?”
“Look at what this man was tryin’ ter sell me!” Hagrid thundered. In his hand he held a sphere about the size of a bowling ball, with a yellowish colour and an oddly metallic sheen to it.
Jenny was over by him in a flash. She grabbed the sphere and held it in both hands. It was heavy, but not as heavy as it looked… and it was lukewarm to the touch. “Hagrid!” she said. “Is this —?”
“Yeah, an’ feel how cold it is,” said Hagrid. “Barely alive! It’s s’pposed ter be hot enough ter burn yer fingers! Dunno how long it’s bin away from Faerie, but —! An’ yeh brought it in through the iron door an’ everything, didn’t you!” he snarled at the hooded man. “Yeh coulda killed it!”
“I don’t want no trouble, man!” the hooded man was saying in an oddly raspy voice and an accent Jenny couldn’t place. “I didn’t know what it was, swear on my mother’s grave! If this is a Fae thing, I don’t want nothin’ to do with it — I’ll let you have it for cheap — I’ll let you have it for free!”
“Let him go, Hagrid,” said Jenny. “We have to focus on this thing. You’re right, it’s very weak, but I think we can still save it. We need fire, a really hot fire, and we need Fae magic. Strong Fae magic. We’re going to need help from some full-bloods. Dad… are there any exits here without iron doors?”
Aberforth looked at them both. Then he sighed. “Hidden tunnel in one of the rooms. Come on, I’ll take you. And if I notice so much as a drop of booze gone when I come back,” he said, raising his voice so that the sparse clientele would hear, “I’m closing the bar for two weeks.”
Sunday, 13th April 1992
Hogwarts school grounds, late morning.
The sun was shining from a clear blue sky as Harry and Ron led Hermione across the school grounds and over to Hagrid’s hut.
“Is this going to take long?” Hermione grouched. “It’s not that I don’t like Hagrid, but we have studying to do! And homework!”
“Hermione, it’s Easter, and you’ve barely done anything but study for three weeks,” said Harry. “And you finished all your homework yesterday!”
“But I haven’t revised it,” said Hermione. “I was going to revise it today!”
“You need to take a break,” said Ron. “McGonagall got under your skin, I get it, but this is something you’re going to want to see.”
The day before yesterday, shortly after they’d returned from the library. Hedwig had arrived with a scribbled note from Hagrid that claimed that the flitlings had finally agreed that Hermione could be trusted to know about them, and that Harry and Ron could bring her over to Hagrid’s hut after breakfast on Sunday. Saturday wouldn’t work, because Hagrid had some plans with his cousin, but Sunday was free.
Hagrid’s hut was oddly quiet this morning. When Harry knocked at the door, there was no excited barking or characteristic “back, Fang, back!” from the inside. Instead, the door opened just a sliver and Hagrid’s enormous face peeked out. His face was gleaming with sweat.
“Ah, it’s you three,” he said, “Right, I invited yeh over… I plum forgot, I shoulda written an’ tol’ yeh summat’s come up…”
“What’s happening?” said Ron. “Is something wrong with Fang? First time we come here that he’s not making a bloody racket.”
“What? No, Fang’s fine,” said Hagrid. “He’s kinda sleepin’ right now, nothin’ wrong with him.”
“Aren’t the flitlings here?” said Harry.
“Flitlings?” said Hermione.
“Ah, yeah, they’re here, they’re helpin’ me with… oh, all right, come in.” Hagrid opened the door further, and Harry was surprised to feel the heat standing against him all like from an oven.
“Isn’t it a little hot inside?” said Hermione, taking a step back.
“Yeah, blimey!” said Ron. “Are you turning your house into a sauna or something?”
“No, no, jus’ come in, come in before too much o’ the heat escapes,” said Hagrid, waving them all inside. “Oh, an’ be quiet, they have ter concentrate.”
“Who does?” said Hermione, looking puzzled.
Harry took a deep breath and stepped into the heat with Ron and Hermione following close behind. Hagrid hurried to close the door behind them. The room inside was uncomfortably hot, too hot for just the roaring fire at the grate.
“Hagrid, what’s going — ah!” Hermione had stopped dead in her tracks in the middle of the room, eyes wide open.
Around the fire were the oddest collection of beings Harry had ever seen. None of them seemed to react to Harry, Hermione and Ron entering. They were all staring into the fire, as if in a deep trance.
Yellow, Magenta and Cyan were there, hovering in the air in between the others. A couple of very shaggy-haired, very naked goblins, smaller than the suit-wearing ones he’d seen at Gringotts, were sitting cross-legged on the floor, next to three small, toga-clad beings with batlike ears. A big centaur — the head and torso of a human, the body of a horse — was lying next to them. The most normal-looking person in the crowd was a blonde woman who could have passed for human if it hadn’t been for her slightly pointed ears.
Harry could swear he felt magic crackling in the air around the fire.
Cyan, who seemed to be in a lighter trance than the rest of them, broke out of the circle. In a flash, she was over by Hermione, hovering right in front of her face. “Don’t scream!” she hissed. “Quiet!!”
Hermione was gaping at Cyan, eyes still open. Then she took a deep breath… but before the scream could escape her throat, Cyan darted forth and blew on her face.
Immediately, Hermione jerked backwards. “Ah… Hey…” she gasped, and then her eyes drooped. “I was amaa-aaaaaaaaah ahh zzzz…” She went limp and fell against Ron, who luckily managed to catch her before she hit the floor.
“Bloody hell!” he exclaimed. “Hermione, are you okay?”
The only answer he got was a light snore. Hermione was totally limp in his arms, her eyes closed.
Harry looked from her and Ron, to Cyan, and back again. “You put her to sleep?!” he said. “We brought her here to meet you, and you just…!”
“She was going to scream!” Cyan whispered. She looked uncharacteristically tired and cranky. “She has to be quiet! All of you have to be quiet!”
“I’ll explain it to ‘em, Cyan,” Hagrid whispered. Now Harry noticed that he was wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt… probably because it was so hot. “Go back to the ritual.”
Cyan nodded and flew back towards the fire to join the others.
“Gallopin’ griffins, this is all my fault,” Hagrid murmured. “I shouldn’ta forgot yeh were comin’ over, jus’ with all that’s happened since yesterday, I haven’t had the time to collect me thoughts…Hang on, lemme take Hermione.”
“Not to sound like a broken record, but what’s happening?” whispered Ron, looking partly worried and partly outraged. “Who are all these people? Are you turning your house into a sauna?”
“Nah, they’re glamour-weavers,” said Hagrid. “Jus’ look at the fire an’ you’ll unnerstan’… Blimey, didn’ mean fer this teh happen, Hermione. Let’s jus’ get yeh comfortable…”
As he gingerly carried the sleeping Hermione over towards his bed, Harry and Ron turned to look at the hearth. In the heart of the fire, they could see a sphere, roughly the size and shape of a Bludger, instead of the iron black it was a sort of yellow with a metallic sheen to it…
“Bloody hell!” gasped Ron, outrage momentarily forgotten. “Is that… is that a dragon egg?”
“Yeah, but it’s not a normal dragon egg,” said Hagrid, who had just placed Hermione down on the patchwork quilt. “S’ why we’re doin’ this… Come over here, I’ll explain. But be quiet, unless you wanna take a nap too! The glamour-weavers need ter concentrate.”
Harry and Ron moved over towards the bed. Hermione was lying on her back, breathing softly and slowly, looking to be in a very deep sleep.
“Is she all right?” said Harry anxiously. He knew the flitlings had sworn up and down that they wouldn’t harm any of his friends, but it was still unnerving to see Hermione lie there asleep and unresponsive.
“Standard Fae sleepin’ spell,” said Hagrid. “Cyan hit Fang with it too ‘cause he was makin’ too much of a racket.” He motioned over to Fang’s basket, where the bloodhound was indeed lying fast asleep. “S’ perfec’ly harmless. They’ll wake up in a few hours, a bit groggy an’ out of it, but they’ll be fine.”
“A few hours?!” Harry felt the guilt wash over him. He had wished Hermione would take a break from all that studying, but… “Isn’t there a way to wake her up before that?”
Ron’s ears had turned pink. “Yeah, but she’s all right, isn’t she?” he said. “Probably needed a bit of sleep anyway, she’s been stressing out for weeks…”
“What?” said Harry. “Come on, we have to wake her up. She’ll be livid if she wakes up and finds out we didn’t at least —”
“Looks, it’s Fae sleep, all right?” said Ron. “Only way to wake her up before the spell’s worn off is to… you know, to kiss her. On the mouth.”
“Oh,” said Harry. “Oh,” he repeated. Not that he hadn’t grown fond of Hermione the last few months, but… “You know, you’re right, she probably does need a bit of sleep.”
Hagrid opened and closed his mouth, then shook his head. “I’m stayin’ outta this one,” he said. “Look, apologies fer all this, but that egg’ll die if we don’t keep up the fire and the magic. I’m not much good at glamour-weavin’ so it’s my job ter keep the fire goin’… everyone else’s feedin’ that egg all the Fae magic they can…”
“Aren’t dragon eggs really tough?” said Ron. “Charlie works with dragons in Romania, he says —”
“Yeah, but like I said, it’s not a normal dragon egg,” said Hagrid. “It’s a noble dragon egg. From Faerie, prolly Seelie, from the Spring or Summer lands. It’s not s’pposed ter be on this plane at all! Got it off this creepy bloke down at the pub in Hogsmeade, but it was almost dead. Bin away from Faerie too long. Noble dragons feed off magic, y’see, ‘specially Fae magic. Had ter get it back here, get a fire goin’ an’ call some o’ the glamour-weavers from the forest.”
Harry looked over at the fire, where the flitlings were still humming and moving in time. He thought he could feel something like a crackle of magic in the air, but he wasn’t certain. “So you’ve put it on life support?” he said.
“Yeh could say that,” said Hagrid. “But lemme tell yeh who’s who. Yeh’ll forgive ’em fer not greetin’ yeh properly. Blonde girl over there, that’s me cousin Jenny, remember I talked about her? The centaur’s Firenze, he lives in the forest. The goblins are a coupla hobgoblins named Badran an’ Maggot…”
“Maggot?” said Harry.
“Very feminine name if y’ask a hobgoblin. An’ the house-elves are Lucky, Leeney an’ Lam… they work at the school, norm’ly, but they agreed ter help with the egg.” .
“House-elves?” said Harry. He looked at the three small bat-eared creatures. Two of them were female, one of them was male, and all of them were wearing those odd togas, which looked suspiciously like tea-towels with the Hogwarts emblem. If these were elves, they certainly didn’t look much like Lady Vidia. “I didn’t know elves worked at Hogwarts.”
“Some house-elves do,” said Hagrid. “Part o’ the treaty. These three were kind enough ter help out wit’ the egg. Sure they’d all say hello if they weren’t so busy. We’ve bin up all night, tryin’ ter get the spark o’ life stable. Thought we’d lost it a couple times, but it’s still hangin’ on. Determined little nipper in there.”
Harry looked back towards the egg in the fire, where apparently a baby dragon was fighting for its life. ”So what’s the difference between a noble dragon and, er, a normal dragon?” he said.
“Well, normal dragons belong here in the mortal realm,” said Hagrid. “Beau’iful animals, very magical, but still animals. Y’know… hunt for food, guard their territories, migh’ decide ter breathe fire on yeh if y’annoy them… standard animal behaviour. Noble dragons, they’re different. Much smarter, can learn ter talk human language an’ everything. Hasn’t bin one here on the mortal plane for ages, I reckon… Blimey, I hope this one lives.” He brightened a bit. “It’d be the firs’ noble dragon hatched on the mortal plane fer centuries!”
Ron’s eyes widened. “You’re going to hatch it? Pretty sure it’s illegal to hatch dragon eggs this close to people!”
“Ssshhhh, keep yer voice down!” Hagrid placed a finger to his lips. “An’ yeah, we have to, don’t we?! Egg’s too weak ter make the trip back ter Faerie. On’y thing we can do is keep it alive until it hatches, then get the baby’s strength up…”
Hermione snored softly.
Hagrid looked down on her, then over at Harry and Ron. “Look, maybe you two’d better get back to the castle,” he said. “Nothin’ yeh can do right now anyway, an’ I’m gonna have ter go get some more wood for the fire. I know we was plannin’ on havin’ a proper visit, but…”
“What about Hermione?” said Ron.
“Better jus’ let her sleep off the spell, I reckon,” said Hagrid. “Good thing abou’ Fae sleep is that yeh’re protected from harm an’ the elements while yeh sleep… see, even with how hot it is in here she’s not even sweatin’… more’n I can say about you two.”
Harry looked at Ron, whose face was indeed gleaming with sweat. Harry himself felt rather hot too.
“She’ll wake up in a few hours,” said Hagrid. “I’ll follow her back to the castle then, see to it she gets back ter the Gryffindor common room safely. And I’ll send yeh a note later, ter let yeh know how the egg’s gettin’ on. All right?”
“She’s going to be livid,” said Harry, as Hermione snored again. “She didn’t even want to come here, and now she’s wasting several hours on a nap…” He looked over at the flitlings, but they were too deeply engrossed in their ritual to pay him any mind. Even Cyan seemed to have fallen into a deeper trance. Not that he could blame any of them… saving a baby dragons life would have to take priority over politeness.
“Not yer fault,” said Hagrid. “S’mine, really. Wan’ me ter try an’ explain things to her?”
“No,” Harry sighed. “I should probably do it.”
“I’ll help,” said Ron. “If she decides to kill us both for this, at least we’ll die together.”
Friday, 16th April 1992
Gryffindor common room, just before lunch.
“Checkmate,” said Ron as his knight whinnied and pushed over Harry’s king.
“What a surprise,” said Harry, looking down at the chessboard. His pieces were scattered, shaking their tiny fists at Ron’s pieces, which were openly mocking them.
“You’re getting better,” said Ron encouragingly. Then he frowned. “And Hermione’s still not up. Oy, Lavender,” he called. “Could you go check on Hermione again?”
Hermione had returned from Hagrid’s hut rather late in the evening the day before, still groggy and half-asleep. She hadn’t been interested in listening to any explanations from Harry or Ron, and had practically sleepwalked up the stairs to the girls’ dormitories.
Lavender, who was talking to Parvati, looked over at them. “I checked on her half an hour ago,” she replied. “I tried to wake her up, but she just called me ‘Mum’ and went back to sleep.”
“Shouldn’t we tell Madam Pomfrey?” said Neville. “It’s not like Hermione to sleep that long. She’s usually the first one awake and the last one to go to bed.”
“That’s probably why she’s sleeping so long now,” said Parvati. “Burned herself out. It had to happen. Or, who knows, maybe she got into my stash of sleeping potions…”
“You have a stash of sleeping potions?” said Neville.
“I suffer from insomnia,” said Parvati. “I cleared it all with Madam Pomfrey, it’s all good.”
“Oh, I didn’t touch your sleeping potions, Parvati,” came Hermione’s sudden voice from the staircase. “I know better than to drink a potion that hasn’t been given to me directly by a professional.”
And then Hermione stepped into the common room, all awake and dressed. She was smiling widely and looking happier than Harry could remember having seen her in quite some time.
Everyone looked at her. Even older students were turning their heads to look.
“How are you feeling, Hermione?” said Dean. “We missed you at breakfast. And at lunch and dinner yesterday.”
“I was asleep,” said Hermione. “I slept through three mealtimes and now I can’t wait to get down to lunch — I’m so hungry!” She moved towards Harry and Ron, practically skipping as she walked.
“Are you all right, Hermione?” said Ron, a little startled.
“Apart from being ravenous, you mean? I’m wonderful!” said Hermione. “I haven’t slept that well since… well, ever! You two were right all along, I was studying too hard! I’m sorry I’ve been such a killjoy these past weeks. I didn’t even realize how much the stress was getting to me.“
“Er,” said Harry, exchanging glances with Ron. “Do you even remember what happened yesterday?”
“Of course!” said Hermione. “We went to visit Hagrid, and it was really hot inside his hut and…” She paused, frowning. “I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I remember is that it was almost dark and Hagrid was walking me back to the castle. I was so tired I didn’t even bother to change into my nightdress before I collapsed into bed. And I slept until now!”
“So, er, you don’t remember anything about… Fae?” said Harry carefully.
“Oh, are you still on about that? You’re obsessed, Harry.” Hermione shook her head good-naturedly. “I feel like I’ve slept a year! I’m full of energy and ready to start on revising my Easter homework! After lunch, that is,” she added. “I’m going to go down to the Great Hall, if anyone wants to join me!”
She walked off, humming cheerfully to herself.
“…okay,” said Harry. “So she’s not livid.”
“Has anyone here ever seen her that cheerful?” said Dean.
“Pretty sure I woulda remembered,” said Seamus. “Wonder what she dreamed about. And if there’s any way I could have the same dream.”
“Oh, you’re all horrid!” said Lavender, raising herself. “Can’t a girl be in a good mood without you making a big deal about it? Hermione, wait!”
“Right.” said Harry. He leaned closer to Ron and muttered: “Maybe we should wait a bit with that explanation?”
“Yeah,” said Ron. “Pity to spoil such a good mood.”
Neville, however, looked oddly thoughtful. “Harry,” he said. “What was that about Fae?”
“What? Oh, er, nothing,” said Harry hurriedly. “Er, lunch sounds good. Coming, Ron?”
Sunday, 18th April 1992
Hagrid’s hut, late morning.
When Harry and Ron arrived at Hagrid’s hut — sans Hermione, who had another one of her “girls’ days” with Lavender and Parvati — most of the Fae from the ritual had left. The only ones still there were Yellow, Magenta and Cyan, who were all sound asleep on one of Hagrid’s shelves, with a towel as a makeshift blanket… and Jenny, the blonde pointy-eared woman. who greeted them quite cheerfully and said it was nice to see them again.
“I did notice you were there,” she said. “I just couldn’t break concentration. So… you’re Harry Potter.”
“And you’re Lady Vidia’s daughter,” said Harry. could definitely see the resemblance between Jenny and her mother, Lady Vidia. Even if Lady Vidia’s hair, skin and eyes were various shades of green whereas Jenny was blonde-haired, blue-eyed and pink-skinned, and even if Jenny had a more human build and lacked her mother’s unearthly beauty and grace… Harry had known Jenny was Lady Vidia’s daughter even before anyone had told him. There was something in the voice and expressions.
“That’s right. So now we both know who we are,” said Jenny. “You’re the talk of the Spring Court, you know… well, not the only talk of the Spring Court. The High Elves are big on gossip of all kinds. But those seven favours my mother owes you… they definitely caught people’s interest in Faerie.”
“Er. Okay.” Harry wasn’t certain how comfortable he was with that.
“And don’t think I forgot you,” said Jenny, looking at Ron. “Ron Weasley, right? Your uncle Bilius says hi.”
“You’ve seen him?!” said Ron. “Is he okay?!”
“I haven’t seen him myself, but I have some friends in the Summer Court who say he’s doing fine,” said Jenny. “I think he’s setting himself at the Market in Domdaniel, with that accountant cousin of his.”
“Uncle Bilius doing accounting?” said Ron with a look of horror. “That’s not going to end well!”
“Oh, he’ll be all right,” said Jenny. “And by the way, I thought it was very sweet how you tried to stand up for that girl after Cyan hit her with that sleeping spell. But you could have just kissed her to wake her up, you know.”
Ron blanched. “Are you mad?! Kiss Hermione? She’d have killed me!”
“Probably not,” said Jenny. “If you think it’s any kind of justice, though, Cyan’s been asleep for longer than Hermione.” She motioned towards the sleeping flitlings on the shelf.
“Are they all right?” said Harry, before hurrying to add: “I’m not kissing them either.”
“You don’t have to. That’s not Fae sleep, it’s just exhaustion. They’re not used to glamour-weaving, so they may have shared a bit too much of their magic. They’ll be fine with a bit of rest.”
“Too bad they’re gonna miss the hatchin’,” said Hagrid from over by the fire. “But you’re just in time ter see it, Harry! Ron! Egg’s almos’ hatched! Make way here, I’m abou’ ter take it out of the fire…”
Harry, Ron and Jenny watched in breathless anticipation as Hagrid, using a pair of enormous oven mittens, removed the egg from the fire, and had placed it on the table. It was quivering and had deep cracks in it; something inside it was clearly trying to get out.
“He’s almost out,” said Hagrid excitedly. “Yeh can come closer, but be careful… egg’s still very hot.”
Jenny, Harry and Ron pulled up chairs and watched as the egg jerked and rolled on the table. It got so restless that Hagrid was there with an oven mitten to catch it in case it rolled off the table — but luckily, that didn’t happen.
The egg spun around and then split in two. The baby dragon pushed the egg halves off itself.
Its body was long and almost serpentlike with light silvery scales that gleamed in the light of the fire from the hearth, but Its head vaguely resembled that of a lion, especially with that shaggy little white mane. It had four legs with pearly talons that clicked against the table as the dragon took its first hesitant steps away from the egg halves… and as it opened its mouth to yawn, it showed off a forked tongue and rows of tiny, razor-sharp teeth. Free from the egg, it looked around with surprisingly sharp and curious eyes.
“Can’t believe Hermione’s missing this,” said Ron in a hushed voice.
“Congratulations, Hagrid,” said Jenny. “It’s a luck dragon.”
“Luck dragon?” said Harry, “I thought it was a noble dragon. And it doesn’t have any wings… did something go wrong with the ritual?”
Jenny smiled. “Oh, ‘luck dragon’ is just what we call them in the Spring Court,” she explained. “Hagrid’s Autumn Court, so he says ‘noble dragon.’ But you don’t have to worry about the wings… luck dragons don’t have wings. They can make themselves lighter than clouds and sort of swim through the air. When they’re a little older, at least.”
Hagrid was ecstatic. “Isn’ he beautiful!” he gushed as he carefully held out a gigantic hand for the tiny dragon to sniff at. “Look how tiny he is! Hello there, Nobby.”
“Nobby?” said Ron.
“Well, he gotta have a name, don’t he?” said Hagrid. “Nobby the noble dragon… s’nice and short.”
“Hagrid,“ said Jenny. “You’re not calling a dragon ‘Nobby.’ You’ll be suggesting we call it ‘Lucky’ next.”
“Nah, one o’ the house-elves who helped hatch him is named Lucky… it’d be too confusin’.”
“How about Daniel?” said Ron. When everyone looked at him, he added, a little sheepishly: “He… kind of looks like my cousin Daniel.”
“What, the one who thought he was a daffodil?” said Harry.
“He just doesn’t handle exams well,” said Ron. “But yeah, him. Same shaggy hair, only different colour.”
“Daniel, eh? Well, we could give it a try… oops!” said Hagrid, as the dragon sneezed, a tiny flame shooting out of its mouth and singing Hagrid’s finger. “Bless you, Danny!”
“What are you going to do with him?” said Harry. “If he breathes fire… this is a wooden house!”
“Ah, it’ll be a while ‘fore he’s big enough ter burn down the house, don’ yeh worry,” said Hagrid. Then he sighed. “Look, I know I can’t keep him. Yeh’re not s’pposed ter have dragons in people houses… an’ he’s gotta go back ter Faerie. But he’s on’y just hatched. Didn’t save him just so I could send him out ter fend for himself the moment he’s outta the egg, did we? Gotta make sure he’ll be all right first.”
“I could take him to Faerie,” said Jenny. “Dewberry Grove should be safe enough for him.”
“I thought about that,” said Hagrid. “An’ yeah, that’s prolly the best place for him… but he’s not strong enough ter make the trip across planes yet. He gotta grow a little first, get up his strength. It’ll have ter be a secret, but the only thing I can do is keep him in me hut until — Fang, be careful!”
Fang had come over to the table and was curiously sniffing at the little dragon. The dragon reacted by breathing a tiny little flame at him, making the boarhound yelp in fear and rush over to his basket to hide.
“Or maybe I should just take Fang with me to Dewberry Grove,” said Jenny. “At least until Danny’s learned not to do that. Otherwise you’re going to have one traumatized dog.”
The dragon — Danny — looked at them, curious but clearly not understanding what was going on. He blinked a couple of times, as if trying to work out what was going on, but then apparently got tired of that and turned towards the largest of the two eggshell halves. Then, to Harry’s surprise, he opened his mouth and took a big bite out of it.
“What —” said Harry, staring at the tiny dragon eating the eggshell with all signs of enjoyment.
“Ah, s’okay, Harry,” said Hagrid. “Noble dragons can eat jus’ about anything, long as it’s at least a little magical. Firs’ thing they eat is usually their own eggshells, dragon eggs got loads o’ magic. An’ this egg jus’ got a ton o’ Fae magic from the ritual, must be like a feast fer him.”
Harry looked over at the shelf where Yellow, Magenta and Cyan were still in a deep slumber. ‘He won’t try to eat them, will he?”
“What, the flitlings? When they helped save his life? Yeh’re not that ungrateful, are yeh, Danny?”
Danny took another bite of eggshell. Crunch.