All the wrong choices – (Ch 32 – The Wyrm)

Draco cast the warming charms on them all again as he gritted his teeth. The sky was just starting to get light, He glanced over at the sleeping Cosima and cast another warming charm before concentrating on Torren, He crept over stiffly and checked on the stasis spell he had cast, it was deteriorating quicker than he’d expected. It occurred to him that the warming spells weren’t lasting as long either. He rubbed his face gently as he tried to keep the sleep at bay. He knew he was concussed, his balance wasn’t steady, his vision was still blurred, and his head was pounding. He looked out at the scenery and felt panic bubble up inside of him again, not for the first time. He had sent no less than six Patronus to the ministry asking for aid over the course of the evening. There was still no sign of any help. He looked down at Torren’s broken body and felt fear. He wondered whether Torren would leave the ridge alive. He felt a restless energy rush through him as his mind raced through options.

He felt himself pause, an impossible idea struck him. He didn’t want to follow through with it, but what choice did he have? He couldn’t get Cosima and Torren to St Mungo’s on his own, certainly not with a concussion. They’d be splinched, body parts scattered to the four winds. He sat thinking it over, wondering whether he would even show up. Years of irrational fear fizzed at the thought. What if all the articles were right and Harry was only in it for fun? What if he asked him to come and he didn’t show? If he didn’t die up here, that knowledge would certainly kill him.

He glanced at Torren’s body, someone who had been his friend for years. He couldn’t let him die up here. He took out his wand and thought of his happiest memories as he recited the incantation again.

“Inspecto Patronum” He whispered as the Owl appeared, just as graceful as the six times before. He had often wondered what Harry would say about his Patronus if he ever saw it. He sighed and closed his eyes as he tried to gather his courage. “Please help. Dragons resilient to magic, find us on the ridge east of Macfusty’s, be careful” Just as the bird was about to fly off, he called after it “Hurry”

He watched as it whizzed off in a ball of light narrowly missing one of the dragon’s teeth as it snapped at it. Draco’s chest tightened, what had he done? Had he invited Harry to his own death? He wasn’t sure whether there was a counterspell the call back the snowy owl. So he sat and waited, the warming charm wearing off again.

He wondered whether, whatever magical interference was stopping his spells from making contact with the dragons, was interfering with the magic in the area, it would explain why his spells weren’t lasting as long as they should be. He heard Cosima grown and turned himself round to rebandage her ankle. He tapped his wand against it, recasting the Ferula bandage. Cosima’s eyes bulged as she sat up and cursed.

“Merlin, Mother Shipton and all their Mandrake children!” She gasped as she held her leg.

“Sorry, Cosima! The dressings needed changing” She just nodded as she gritted her teeth against the pain. “It should start to ease again now,” He tried to sooth with a smile.

“But you only changed it a couple of hours ago. Why is it hurting so badly again?”

“I think the dragons have got something to do with the magic readings being peculiar here, The warming charms and Stasis charms aren’t working for very long either.”

“Is the ministry here yet?” She asked, sounding hopeful. Draco shook his head, feeling the anxiety rise up inside him again with the guilt. “I asked for help from elsewhere,” He muttered.

“When?”

“A moment ago. We’re just waiting on him now”

“Oh Draco, you didn’t?” She said an unreadable look on her face. He nodded solemnly. They looked at each other for a moment longer before Draco turned away.

“What about the Ministry?” Cosima asked

“I sent six Patronus charms requesting aid, Cosima, Six!” He ran a hand gently over his bruised face as he pushed the hair away from his eyes. Cosima hissed slightly at the bruise developing beneath where his hair had fallen “And no one has come, I can’t get you and Torren the help you both need without risking more damage, we need help, and I couldn’t think of anyone else”

Cosima sat quietly just looking at him.

“I wish I had my wand, I’d sort your face out, He’s going to be horrified to see you like this,” She said and he shrugged

“Doesn’t matter really, does it? I asked him to hurry and he’s not here, I don’t think he’s coming either” Draco felt the heartbeat in his head intensify and he felt his eyes prick with unshed tears. “And who could blame him?”

“Shush, He could be somewhere he can’t apparate from, give him a bit more time.” She nodded. “He wouldn’t leave you if you gave him a choice”

“We’ll see” He replied. “Half of me hopes he doesn’t come to our rescue” Draco turned back t her and knew that the tears were visible now “Have I just invited him to his own funeral?”

Cosima smiled kindly.

“You did what you thought was right, He’ll know that better just keep an eye open for him” Draco nodded, he took a deep breath to try and stifle the anxiety within him. He looked around the ridge and saw that the dragonet was still around and the other had joined it at some point in the night. Their snoring was deep and resonant, making the air around them vibrate. He hadn’t seen any of the hatchlings and the Wyrm was still absent from the ridge. “I wonder where the mother is?” Cosima asked as if following Draco’s train of thought.

“In the cave probably, according to the reports, it was locked away in the deepest Gringotts vault for years. The Weasley reported that the dragon had turned a paler colour and its eyes had gone pink. I don’t think an old dragon would be able to reintegrate into bright sunlight in her advanced years.”

“I wonder why our magic doesn’t work?” She pondered out loud.

“I think there may be goblin magic working here as I’m not sure I can think of any spells that could cause something like this, for this length of time or something that can be transferred through bloodlines” Draco shook his head.

“How are we going to be able to protect these creatures?”

“I’m not sure, we may need to ask the Goblins for help”

Cosima snorted, “I can see the Ministry going along with that plan willingly” She replied sarcastically. Draco smiled knowing too well what the Ministry thought of non-human magic users. He remembered a particularly boring History of Magic lesson about the 1612 goblin rebellion. He rolled his eyes at the idiocy of it all. Things hadn’t changed that drastically in the last fifteen years, however, thanks to Granger’s efforts there did seem to be a levelling of opportunities for all magical creatures.

“Stranger things have happened” He replied Glumly.

There was a crack in the air and Draco felt his heart stop as the achingly familiar salt and pepper hair came into view. His ears rang as his body became awash with warmth. He came!

The sensations were short-lived as Draco noticed the Dragonets stirring. He stood as quickly as he could, ignoring Cosima’s objections. He stumbled over nothing, his concussed mind working too slowly for his rushing feet. He pushed out of the bubble that the wards had created around them and waited for Harry to see him. Harry saw him, and Draco saw the colour drain from his face as he raced towards him. Harry didn’t hesitate as they got close. He pulled Draco into a strong, crushing hug. Draco but revelled in it and gasped at the same time, the piercing pain erupting acutely at his side.

“Merlin, I’m sorry,” Harry said as he released Draco, looking at him, concern painted on his face.

“Shut up Potter!” Draco smiled thinly before pushing himself into his lover’s warm arms. Harry chuckled, Draco bit his lip to hide how much that tremor hurt him; hearing Harry laugh was the most beautiful sound in the world.

“You had me so worried” Harry breathed into his neck as he placed a kiss there, Draco shuddered as he closed his eyes. “I love your Patronus charm by the way” Draco smiled and felt a blush rush to his cheeks. “Why didn’t you send the Patronus to the Ministry?”

“I did,” Draco nodded “But no one came”

“Right” was all Harry said, but Draco could see the cogs turning. He was saving that particular conversation for another time.

“I’m sorry” Draco muttered into Harry’s unruly hair as he threaded his fingers into it at the nape of his neck. “For everything” Harry shushed him as he pushed them both back through the wards. The air tingled as they entered the sanctuary within. Draco watched Harry’s eyes look from Cosima to Torren and he ran a hand through his hair, taking a deep breath. Draco watched him become the man who would have made an amazing Auror. The authority entered his voice as he tried to assess what needed to be done

“You must be Cosima,” He said with a tight smile. She nodded, and Draco thought she looked a bit sheepish.

“Hello, Har- I mean Mr Potter” She blushed “Sorry”

“Harry is fine” he smiled as he took in her injuries. “Is it just the ankle?” He asked, and she nodded. He nodded appraisingly as he turned his head to the other man. Draco thought he saw his jaw tighten. “Who is that?” Harry turned his face to Draco, and the look wasn’t entirely friendly.

“That’s Torren, He’s a friend from the MacFusty reserve,” Harry nodded once and took a deep breath. Was Harry jealous? The thought sounded ridiculous to him but the look on Harry’s face said otherwise. Draco shook his head to dispel the thoughts. That was a mistake. He felt the overwhelming sense of nausea overwhelm him as his balance evaporated. He fell on the floor and gasped as he clutched his side. The breath had left him as he tried to huddle himself away from the pain.

“Draco?” Harry was at his side again. “Are you alright?” Draco couldn’t answer yet, as he tried to breathe and swallow past the pain.

“He told me that he thought he had a concussion and a broken rib,” Cosima explained.

“Right we had better get you all to St Mungo’s,” Harry said matter-of-factly as he brushed the hair out of Draco’s face, looking at the swelling bruise blossoming there. “I’ll take Torren first as he needs sorting sooner than the two of you. I’ll be back as soon as I can” Harry said looking deeply into Draco’s eyes. Draco, still unable to talk nodded. Harry smiled grimly as he stood and turned to Torrens body. Suddenly with another deafening crack, they were both gone as if they had imploded in upon themselves.

Draco breathed as deeply as he could around the piercing agony in his side.

“He is even better looking close up” Cosima mused giddily. Draco rolled his eyes but couldn’t help but smile.

“He’s off the market, Cosima, Get your own saviour!” He whispered hoarsely.

She laughed at that and nodded.

“What I wouldn’t give for my own knight in shining armour” She smiled as she rested on the rocks.

“Nah, the armour takes too long to remove” Draco smirked as Cosima gasped and then burst out laughing. Draco nodded happily, he was sure it was safe to say that they would probably be fine from here.

Now that he knew that Torren was being seen to, he rested and closed his eyes. He was sure he wasn’t supposed to, but he couldn’t help it. His eyes felt so heavy, and he hadn’t slept in so long.

“Draco, stay awake,” Cosima said from beside him as she nudged him with her elbow.

“Fine, I’m awake,” He said grumpily as he opened his eyes. He looked up to the sky and noted that the sun was further round that before. How long had it been since Harry was here last?

“Wonder where that knight of yours is?” Cosima asked, again as if she could hear his thoughts.

“I don’t know,” Draco replied as he started to feel anxiety curl up in his stomach. The silence stretched between them for a few more moments before another crack sounded out. Draco felt the curling knot disintegrate.

“Sorry I took so long. St Mongo’s is busier than normal, I saw Rolf there. Apparently, there was an accident at Gringotts with two of the other wizards from your division.

“Oh no, did they say who?” Cosima asked worriedly.

“Bonni something and Lowe?” Harry said frowning.

“Bonavich and Lowell. Ewart and Araminta. Did he say whether they were alright?” Harry shrugged, as he helped her to her feet.

“He didn’t seem hugely concerned, so I think they’re alright. But I’m going to take you there now so you can ask him yourself” Harry smiled.

“What about Draco?” Harry looked at him and Draco felt his heart beat just a bit quicker.

“Is that alright love? It shouldn’t take me as long to get Cosima booked in” Draco nodded,

“I still have my wand so I should be able to do something if need be” Harry frowned.

“Be careful love, I’ll be back for you as soon as I can”

“You better be!” Draco threw back making Harry smile. He leant over and kissed Draco’s head before they too imploded into nothing, another crack making the nearby dragonets to stir. He sighed again, not noticing that his eyes closed or that his wards came down.

Draco was awoken by a snuffling, heaving noise. He groggily moved his head, pressure pounding behind his eyeballs. It took him a few moments to realise what he was looking at. The sun had dropped down behind the mountains and the dragons had started to wake. There was no tingle left in the air and Draco knew he no longer had the benefit or protection of the wards. He swore silently but with feeling as he watched the wyrm drag herself out of the cave. He watched open-mouthed as the creamy-skinned giant sniffed the air with a moaning snort.

She was an ancient and decrepit thing. There were more tears than we wing in the membrane of her arms. Her milky pink eyes roamed over the landscape and Draco wondered whether she was blind. She sniffed the air, her giant skeletal head twisting towards him. He knew that it was the same dragon from Gringotts because she still wore the chains around her neck. It was just as well she was fully grown already otherwise the chains would have choked her if she had any more growing to do.

The thought of it growing larger caused him to remember the others. He saw the Dragonets stretching and rolling over in the dirt, waking from their daytime sleep. He had so far seemed to go unnoticed. He remained still and hoped that they would pass him by. The ground shuddered as the Wyrm moved forward. Draco pressed himself up against the rocks as he gripped his wand. He knew that it would do no good but it gave him comfort. The wyrm moved again and this time its muzzle pressing firmly against the front of Draco’s robes. He shuddered against the pain, gritting his teeth together to stifle the yelp that threatened to escape

Hot moist air shot back at him as the dragon breathed out. Putrid, rotting steam surrounded him and it took everything he had not to heave. He tried to recall his training through his fogged up memory. Older dragons were slower and lazier than younger dragons however they also tended to be more vicious when angered. There was a crack off to his side and Draco wanted to scream. He heard Harry swear loudly before rolling off to one side, narrowly avoiding one of the wyrm’s vicious talons. The Dragon screeched a hollering roar as it tried to locate Harry. The crack had riled the wyrm up and it swayed agitatedly left and right like a cat ready to pounce. Draco looked at Harry.

“Harry, Move!” He shouted. Harry rolled out the way as the battered, ancient creature tried to pounce. It stumbled falling flat onto its throat. It cried out and the dragonets rushed forward. Draco knew there was no defence only distractions.

“Reducto” Shouted Harry as he pointed to the ground in front of the charging dragonet racing towards Draco. The ground erupted in debris a stones shot out like missiles against the dragons. The charging Dragonet paused waiting for the onslaught of stone to cease. It made a cawing noise as it’s twin came to it’s aid.

Draco didn’t need to be shown twice as he made the outcrop of rock next to the exploding in raining shards of rock. He was silently annoyed that it had not occurred to him to do this before. He heard movement behind him and saw the mother climbing back to her feet.

He tried to locate Harry amongst the dust and found him trying to fend off the hatchlings. Everything stopped for a moment as the Mother reared up. Extremely unhappy with the threat to her hatchlings. She opened her mouth and Draco could see a glow working it’s way up her gullet.

“Harry, Fire!” He saw Harry look up at the mother as one of the hatchlings bit his leg. Harry cried out before firing another shot out. The other three hatchlings reared back, jaws snapping. Harry shot at the dragon’s tail and it made contact. The hatchling squealed as it retreated, its forked tail smoking.

“Harry!” Draco screamed again as he aimed for the dragonet on his left with the reducto charm.

“Aim for the tail!” Harry shouted back to him.

Draco did as he was told and the smaller dragon mirrored the hatchling as it ran off a distance. The other sibling was almost on to of him, Draco rolled out of the way and instantly regretted it. The pain in his side winded him yet again. The dragon was on top of him its teeth bearing down ready to go for the throat. A curse fired across the sky, stinging the dragonet again. It yelped and backed off. Draco took a shallow few breaths as he tried to stand. As he stood, He saw Harry fighting with the hatchlings again, Them worrying at his robes like naughty, scaley puppies playing with a dog toy. Harry had seemed to have forgotten about the Mother. Just as the wyrm was about to fire at Harry, Draco tried to fire at the rocks behind the dragon, but she paid no attention, eyes still locked onto Harry. Draco glanced around trying to reach for an idea. He thought of something but it wasn’t a pleasant thought, It was the only way that he could see everything working.

He fired a reducto charm at the dragon’s throat causing it to flinch. Draco dived forward and threw a protection charm upon Harry. He saw the look of horror as Harry turned around in time to see him engulfed in the flames. Draco gritted his teeth until there was nothing left. The world dissolved into a blinding light with someone screaming his name and it occurred to him that even the fire didn’t burn anymore.

Accio Next Chapter

 

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