Disclaimer – I solemnly swear that JKR owns everything Harry Potter. Whether or not I am up to no good with her characters is for you to decide.
/ ( 0 v 0 ) \
Harry Potter: Dragon Whisperer
Chapter 30 – Unexpected Meetings
Thursday, 26 August 1995
Papa Stour, Shetland Islands, Scotland
"The dragons are welcoming four dragons to the weyr!"
"Four?" Charlie asked, a look of confusion on his face. "Who?"
Harry, though, hadn't even waited for the question. Pulling his Nimbus from his pocket, he resized it with a wave of his hand, barely even registering the shocked gasp that that elicited from the three who'd never seen him do wandless magic and rocketed into the air.
A hundred metres into the air was enough for him to see that a mass of black and green bodies had also taken flight. Noticing that every head was facing the one direction, Harry swung his own broom around before shooting off in the right direction.
It took barely no time at all before he caught up to the tail end of the massed dragons. His approach had obviously been noted for wings tipped to either side and a hole was opened for him. Calling his thanks, Harry raced through, his eyes searching for the incoming dragons.
And then he saw them.
The green hide of Farlys led them, her wings outstretched as she soared on the wind. To her right was a dragon that Harry knew better than any other: Ramaranth. On Farlys' left was a dragon with a deep, grey hide: Grouleth. And slightly behind and to the side of Grouleth, flew another dragon with black hide, a Norwegian Ridgeback, if Harry wasn't mistaken, although he didn't know the dragon's identity.
Ramaranth's excited bellow had Harry grinning and laughing.
§Hi, Ramaranth§! he shouted back before quickly greeting the rest of the dragons. §Welcome home Farlys! Hi Grouleth! Welcome to the Dragon Weyr of Great Britain§!
As the four dragons flew close, Harry allowed his broom to stall before he used gravity to spin him completely around. When he 'reactivated' the broom's magic, it was so that he could shoot straight up and around Ramaranth, looping her before finally settling in between her and Farlys.
§Where is the best place for us to rest our wings, Speaker§? Ramaranth asked.
Harry's initial thought was somewhere on the deserted end of the island, but then he had a better idea.
§Follow me§! he called before accelerating away.
As he raced back over the shoreline, he looked back. There was Ramaranth and the other three, only a dragon length behind him and behind them, flew the rest of the weyr. For a split second, Harry second-guessed himself.
What reaction would this garner? he wondered before shrugging. And then he decided, if they couldn't handle it, then they had no business starting this weyr.
He knew the moment that they were seen. Both Sirius and Remus with their better eyesight threw up their arms, pointing at what Harry was sure was an incredibly impressive aerial display. Glancing back, he saw that not a single dragon faltered or fell out of pattern, keeping perfectly behind him.
Wanting to show off a little, Harry took the flight of dragons in a great circle above the buildings and the six people below before gesturing downwards. Obediently, the dragons followed him down. Most of the dragons settled on crags or grassland around them, making sure to leave plenty of space between them and the humans. Two Hibernian Blacks – Myrddys and Bremlys – settled closer, very close to where Farlys and the Norwegian Ridgeback landed. Ramaranth and Grouleth landed right beside Harry, their wings almost overlapping him as though they were protecting him.
As he wandlessly shrunk his broom, Harry couldn't help but grin at the humans. Charlie and Angus looked unfazed at having a few dozen dragons so close. Sirius and Remus were grinning madly. Harry was most impressed by Mathilda Grimblehawk. She looked incredibly apprehensive but was obviously doing her best to appear unaffected by the close proximity of so many powerful, magical creatures. As for the Minister of Magic, Harry was sure that he was going to need clean underwear once he went back to the Ministry – his eyes were huge and he was spinning in circles, seemingly trying to keep every dragon in sight at once.
"Harry? What are they doing here?" Charlie asked, nodding to the three Romanian dragons.
§Ramaranth, while it is wonderful to see you, I feel I must ask: why have you come instead of remaining in your weyr with the hatchlings§? he asked.
§You are our Speaker§,she replied. §It is only right that you have our wings to cover you§.
Harry blinked at her, trying to understand. Finally, he bowed, §I am honoured§.
Her return incline of her head was enough to give him leave to turn back to Charlie, although, seeing the Minister holding himself up by gripping the trestle table nearly had him bursting out laughing and rolling on the floor.
"They wanted to show their support," he shrugged, guessing that that was the best interpretation.
"Do you think they know back in Romania that they've lost three dragons?" Remus asked.
"Undoubtably," Charlie replied. "And it'd be just like the Boss to not bother to telling us."
"Do yon dragons do this sort of thing often?" Angus asked.
"Wander off?" Charlie asked. "Not often but they are powerfully magical creatures. And who are we to stop them?"
"There's only one person on the planet that they'll listen to. And he's standing right here!" Sirius snorted.
"Angus, Madam Grimblehawk … Minister," Harry said, adding in the last only as a courtesy, "I'd like for you to meet Farlys, the Welsh Green who flew to Romania to talk to me. The Blacks are Myrddys – the eldest dragon here – and Bremlys. While there is no Weyr Leader chosen yet, I suspect that it will be one of these three who will eventually hold that honour."
Both Angus and Madam Grimblehawk must have been paying attention to him before for Harry saw them offer all three dragons bow. The Minister joined in awkwardly and belatedly.
"I'd also like you to meet Ramaranth, Grouleth and …" now that he'd had a chance to get a closer look at the Ridgeback, he recognised her, "Norberta."
"I should have recognised Norberta," Charlie laughed. "Did you know she was born here in Scotland? Hatched from an illegal egg; I brought her to Romania myself."
§My friends, these two-legs are important in the forming of the new weyr§, Harry said.§This is Angus, he works here and this is Mathilda, she helps oversee things. The other two-leg is named Cornelius§.
Omitting the Minister's title seemed appropriate to Harry, after all, with how scared the man was, he wasn't going to be much use. Besides, it wasn't as though anyone would know.
§This will be a new weyr§? Farlys asked. §You have decided, Speaker§?
§It seems likely§, Harry admitted, §although there is much that I believe that the two-legs can do to make it better for dragon-kind before a final decision is made§.
§We thank you, Speaker, for working for us§,Myrddys said.
§He is the Speaker§, Ramaranth stated as though that was enough, which, to dragons, Harry knew that it was.
"As you can see, there is no need to fear dragons," Harry said, looking pointedly at Fudge. "Treat them right and they will leave you alone, even be friends."
"Harry's right," Charlie agreed. "He's taught us much about how to treat dragons and act around them. Before Harry came to Romania, we would never go near the dragons unless there were at least half a dozen of us supporting each other. Now, we're able to work in pairs or groups of three."
§Speaker, we have travelled far without rest. Where may we find food§? Grouleth asked.
§For now, there is only fish in the sea surrounding the ocean§,Harry replied. §I'm working on having flocks and herds available§.
§I have not had the flesh of fish in many moons§,Ramaranth said. §I think I would like some§.
§If you fly with me, I will show you where the best fishing may be had§, Farlys said.
§Until soon, Speaker§,Ramaranth said before, with a great leap she took to the air, her wings taking that most important first down sweep.
Almost as one, the rest of the dragons joined her, their wings kicking up almost gale force winds around the humans.
"Where did they go?" Madam Grimblehawk asked. "Did we do something to offend them?"
"They're just hungry after their long flight," Harry laughed. "And I suspect will find somewhere to sleep once they've eaten. We can talk to them more tomorrow, if you like?"
"I know that I'd like that," Angus stated, and Harry nodded at him.
"I think the sooner that you can get more dragon handlers here and working with the dragons, the better," Charlie stated. "They need a chance to get to know the dragons and, the best time to do that is while Harry's here, too."
"Mathilda? When can we make that happen?" Fudge asked.
"I have the responses to the applications that we've received from our ads in my office," she replied. "I believe we've had eleven, so far? I would appreciate your input into their suitability?"
"I'd be delighted," Charlie nodded.
"Then if you and Angus will accompany me?" she asked. "Minister?"
"Yes. Yes, I think I should be getting back to the Ministry as well," he replied.
"What about you, Pup?" Sirius asked.
Harry looked towards where the dragons had flown off to. Ramaranth and the others, he knew, would need sleep soon, but there were a lot of other dragons here that he needed to get to know.
"I'll stay, if that's alright? At least for a while longer," he replied.
Remus held out a hand, a hand that a grumbling Sirius dropped some coins into before handing Harry a ring.
"Say the name of my house and it'll portkey you home," he said.
"Thanks, Sirius," he nodded.
Minutes later, the island was devoid of people, save the one in the air, flying his broom towards the flight of dragons over the water.
/ ( 0 v 0 ) \
Thursday, 26 August 1995
The Leaky Cauldron, London, England
This was not where Harry wanted to be. It wasn't even on his list of things to do that year, let alone that day.
He'd had the best day in a very, very long time. The morning surprising Daphne, the middle of the day with his friends and the afternoon spent with dragons, including him being surprised by the arrival of Ramaranth. And then he'd arrived back at Grimmauld Place to the news that Fudge had given an interview that morning.
At least The Daily Prophet had been nice enough to ask him to confirm the Minister's comments before they went to print for tomorrow's paper.
As they should, Harry thought, after all, he worked for the paper. In a way. At least, he had a weekly column in the magical newspaper.
Sirius had answered the owl for him and arranged the meeting and then simply told Harry that he needed to do it. Which, Harry had reluctantly agreed with. He'd seen the flip-flop nature of the wizarding world's opinion of him all last year, not to mention when it was announced that he was leaving Britain for a job at the Romanian Reserve. For those same people to be given false hope by Fudge now, only for it to be dashed again when they learnt the truth was enough to have him shuddering. As much as Harry hated to admit it, Sirius and Remus were right – he had to get out in front of it, control the narrative himself.
Thus, he was at the Leaky Cauldron to meet a reporter.
"Ah, Mister Potter," the old, toothless owner of the pub called as he approached the bar.
Harry watched the man round the bar before gesturing for Harry to follow him. He was led to the side and down a short corridor.
"These are our private rooms," the old man said. "You won't be disturbed in here."
"Thanks," Harry nodded.
"Can I bring you anything?" he asked.
At first, Harry was going to say no but then thought better of it. After all, having something to wet his mouth or fiddle with wouldn't be a bad thing.
"A butterbeer?" he asked.
"Right you are, Mister Potter," the man smiled toothlessly at him. "I'll bring it right back to ye."
Harry opened the door to find … not Rita Skeeter?
"Mister Potter. It's nice to finally meet you," the man said, rising from his seat. "My name's Markus Waynesbury. I'm a reporter for the Prophet."
"Hi?" Harry replied, unable to keep his confusion out of his voice.
For some reason, the man laughed. "I'm assuming that you don't mind that I'm here instead of Rita? Mister Cuffe thought that you deserved a reporter who would tell the facts, without, shall we say, embellishments?"
"I really appreciate that," Harry said, moving into the room and taking a seat across the table from Waynesbury.
The old barkeep returned just then, depositing Harry's butterbeer on the table, along with a mug of something that steamed for the reporter.
"Thank you for giving me a chance to respond to Minister Fudge's press interview this morning," Harry said, beginning exactly as Remus had coached.
"It's my pleasure, Harry. Is it alright if I call you, Harry?" he asked.
"Yes, of course," Harry replied quickly.
"Thank you. And, please, call me Markus," he smiled.
"Markus," Harry nodded and took a sip of his butterbeer in an effort to calm himself.
"I was one of the reporters at the Minister's press conference this morning," Markus began. "Are you aware of what he said regarding yourself?"
"I think so?" Harry replied. "At least, I read the letter that was sent to me asking for my comments. Perhaps, since you were there, you could give me a summary?"
"Certainly," Markus nodded. "Minister Fudge confirmed that you had returned to Britain and that you were here to consult with the Ministry over the formation of a new Reserve. He said that, as part of your contract to work with all of the dragon reserves of the world, you would be here for as long as it took to get British Reserve up and running. He also mentioned that Charles Weasley had been approached to be the Head Dragon Handler and that he had hopes that the two of you would work here permanently."
Harry nodded; what he'd been told was identical to what was in the letter.
"I'd like to start my response by saying that not everything that Minister Fudge said was accurate," Harry said, watching Markus' quill scratching away with what he was saying.
"In what way was the Minister inaccurate?" Markus asked, writing down his own question.
"Where to begin?" Harry laughed. "Let's start with the big error and work from there."
"Big error?" Markus asked.
"Minister Fudge is wrong about my contract," Harry began. "I guess that's understandable since he's never seen it and was probably only going on the way it was speculated in the paper when I first signed it. Which I guess is my mistake for not clarifying back then."
"Can I ask what your contract says?" Markus asked.
"The contract that I signed was between myself and the five Dragon Reserves of the world," Harry replied.
"Just five? Not all the Reserves of the world?" Markus clarified.
"Exactly," Harry nodded. "While I'm primarily based in the Romanian Dragon Reserve, my contract also includes The Australasian Dragon Preserve – a reserve that I have already visited – The Aztec Reserve for Dragons, The Draconian Sanctuary of Tanzania and The Mongolian Dragon Park. That's it. Any other reserves, even new ones, aren't included."
"So, you're saying that you're not contracted in any way to the Dragon Reserve of Great Britain?" Markus asked.
"No," Harry replied. "And it's actually the Dragon Weyr of Great Britain, not 'Reserve'. Its name was changed earlier today to reflect the word that the dragons prefer."
Markus nodded, his quill flying even faster.
"Then what brings you back home to Britain? Is it to consult like the Minister said?" Markus asked.
"Well, I guess it was in a way," Harry grinned. "But not the way that you're thinking."
"Oh?" Markus prompted.
"I was asked to come here by one of the dragons that have been moved to the new Weyr," he continued. "Farlys – the Welsh Green that I met at the TriWizard Tournament last year – flew to Romania to ask for my help. I'm here to ensure that what the dragons want and need is being considered."
"A dragon flew all that way? Just to talk to you?" Markus gasped, his quill freezing.
At Harry's nod, Markus seemed to remember the quill in his hand and quickly sped to catch back up.
"How long will you stay in Britain?" Markus asked.
"As long as it takes to negotiate between the dragons and the Ministry in the formation of the new Weyr," Harry shrugged. "Hopefully that won't be too long, I do have responsibilities back in Romania to get to."
"How have you found the Ministry when it comes to negotiating with the dragons?" Markus asked.
"It's still early days," Harry replied, "but I'm confident that an agreement will be reached. Madam Grimblehawk who's in charge of the Department to create the Weyr is really good and easy to work with. She seems to really care what the dragons want and is determined to do right by them."
"It sounds as though you're impressed by her," Markus commented.
"I am," Harry replied simply.
"Was there any other part of the Minister's announcement this morning that was inaccurate?" Markus asked.
"Actually, yes, and I have been asked to say this to you," Harry replied. "While the part about Charlie Weasley having been offered the position of Head Dragon Handler is true, Charlie has declined. He is still under contract with the Romanian Reserve and has some months still to go before he achieves his Beast Mastery, and therefore doesn't feel as though he has learnt enough to take on such a position."
Harry watched and drank deeply from his butterbeer while he waited for Markus to catch up with his quill.
"Is there anything else that you'd like our readers to know?" Markus asked.
Harry thought for a moment before nodding to himself.
"Two things," he said. "Firstly, I'd like to thank everyone who has been reading my article in The Daily Prophet, I never imagined that it would get so much interest. I'll admit that, at first, I was reluctant to even write it but, having heard how much it's helping people understand dragons, I'm glad that I am writing it. I hope that everyone continues to enjoy it."
"And the other?" Markus asked.
"I'd just like to say that I'm glad that Farlys came to me and asked me to come. It's given me a chance to visit with my friends and I hope to come back regularly, not just to check on the dragons, but also to continue visiting my friends and magical Britain as a whole."
There! Harry thought. That should make Remus happy. I followed the script to 'make a good impression with the public'.
"Harry, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to talk with me," Markus said.
"It's been my pleasure," Harry replied, shaking the man's hand. "Will your article be published tomorrow?"
"Definitely," Markus confirmed. "Probably not first page but you never know, especially if Barnabus decides to run this article side-by-side with the Minister's press release from this morning."
"Is that likely?" a startled Harry asked.
"I wouldn't put it past him," Markus laughed.
Then, after one last 'thank you' and goodbye, Harry escaped for the Floo and the hope of a good night's sleep.