"You will know what to do when you find whom you seek."
That was Dumbledore's advice. His only words of advice before shoving a giant ring into his hand. He felt a pull behind his navel and could only blink when he realized he'd just been portkeyed out of the Headmaster's office.
He had a brief moment of panic, wondering if it was really Dumbledore, which passed as soon as he landed on a deserted road.
He looked up and saw a sign that read, 'Cherry Lane.' It was a beautiful area with flowering trees all along the dirt road. He thought it would make a fantastic place for a picnic, but he couldn't see anything that would help in a war. Maybe Dumbledore was finally losing it. Maybe Dumbledore thought he was losing it and needed a break. No, there was no time for a break. Things needed to end, soon. Hopefully on the side of the light.
He pushed his questions into his mental box of, 'Things to make Dumbledore tell me before one of us dies,' and set off down the road.
Eventually, he came to a small graveyard. It was not at all creepy; there were flowers all along the rows, smiling at the sun. It had a messy look about it, but was not completely grown over, so someone must have tended it in the last year or so.
One gravestone was flanked on either side by a shimmering green material - hard as stone, yet fragile, as if living. He barely made out the name, 'Jackie Paper.' This was the kind of place in which he hoped to be buried, one day. He'd never really thought about it before. Of course, he'd been afraid for his life plenty of times, but never really thought about his eternal resting place.
A gust of wind brought an unfamiliar scent to his attention. It was a fresh smell, but a little fishy with a hint of salt. A rhythmic swell of sound was beating in the background. It had gone unnoticed, because of the normal rushing sound portkey travel induced for a few minutes afterwards. The two pieces of unfamiliar information combined, and he came to the conclusion that he was near the sea. He guessed that he would have realized this sooner had he ever before visited the sea.
He continued up the lane. There was a slight rise, and he knew that the sea would be there, just over that hill. He did not know his purpose here, but he was going to take advantage of the opportunity. Now that he was this close, it was almost a compulsion to reach the coast, to look into that endless blue horizon.
A storm seemed to form from the very sea he wished to see. He trenched onwards, but the wind and rain hampered his way. He wanted to make it to shore, but concluded that the attempt was futile while the storm raged. He had waited his whole life to see it, he could wait a few hours more. Finding shelter became his foremost concern as the temperature dropped and the wind picked up again.
There was a large hill, almost big enough to be called a small mountain to his right. The road followed closely on the left edge of the slope, and as he neared, he saw a wide opening into the rock face.
Curiosity and the prospect of refuge got the better of him, and he entered without considering the risks such a large cavern would offer.
He lit his wand and proceeded farther into the cave, out of the wind that swirled around the entrance. The ground was smooth, like a well worn path ten meters wide.
Finally, he came to an even larger space. His dim wand light was too feeble to give any detail of the room, but he could tell that it was the size of the Great Hall of Hogwarts three times over. He settled himself in a small fissure in the wall and curled his arms around his knees, holding his cloak tight against the chill. It took him a minute to realize that the chill was coming from his wet clothes, so he pulled off the cloak and lit a small fire with his wand. It was not as steady as it could have been with wood to stabilize it, but magical fires burn on stone just as well. He cast drying and heating charms on his clothes, redressed, and was nice and toasty in minutes.
He awoke, just becoming aware of sleeping, due to a shuffling noise in the distance. He secured his hold on his wand, which he had not dropped even in slumber, and watched for whatever he had heard.
Soon, a great lumbering shadow approached from the other side of the cavern. His heart raced, palms sweated, and limbs shook. His thoughts were torn between panic and forcefully controlling his muscles, so as not to end up as a puddle of goo on the stone.
The hulking figure neared, and he knew immediately what it was, needless of any details. Only one thing on land was as large – a dragon. He was stuck in a cave with a dragon. The massive beast was half-covering the only passage he knew out of the cave. If the wizard was able to think properly, he may have tried apparating to safety. As it was, he was lucky to still have control of his wand arm in his fright.
Gathering all the courage he could muster, he shone his light brightly and shouted, "Stay back, beast! Let me pass, and you shall live!"
The thought of using verbal threats on the dragon would have seemed silly to anyone not facing down the enormous creature. But to his surprise, the green dragon (for it was close enough to see its scales, now) cowered back at his tone. It reached it's short front arms up to cover its face, as if afraid of the wizard harming it. A small sound that could only be described as a whimper came from the old beast. For the wizard could tell this dragon was aged from his close vantage point.
He suddenly felt something for the creature that he never thought he would feel for a monster meant to eat him. He felt pity. This dragon was no more dangerous than a lazy niffler. He lowered his wand from an aggressive position, but kept it out an lit so he could see. Something occurred to him, then. The dragon had understood his threat. It had been scared of him, a mere human.
"How do you understand?" he asked it.
The dragon lowered onto its belly, and shocked the wizard by replying with words, "I am a magic dragon."
The wizard blinked. "Of course you are. Dragons are magical creatures."
"You do not understand. I am a magic dragon, beyond my cousins. Merlin enchanted me with wisdom and language when I was just an egg. There were once many of us, but I fear I am the last."
The wizard was surprised that he had not learned of this before. He had no choice but to accept it, because he was, after all, having this conversation with a dragon. Of course, the possibility that he'd gone mad was not to be thrown out either, but for now, he'd continue chatting with the dragon.
"Do you know where we are?"
"This is my home."
"Er, what is it called?"
"I do not know what the humans call it anymore, but long ago this land was known as Honah Lee."
"I see. Do you have a name?"
"I once had a human; he called me 'Puff.' What are you called, young human?"
What was he called? That was a difficult question. His name was easy, but he was called many different things. The Boy-Who-Lived. The savior of the wizarding world. Hero. He was called many things, but he only needed to tell the dragon, Puff, his name.
Puff stayed silent, apparently finished with the conversation.
Words came back to Harry's mind, 'You will know what to do when you find whom you seek.' Was this who Dumbledore was talking about? This old, sickly-looking dragon? What could a dragon who is frightened by a small wizard do in a war against something as evil as Voldemort? He htought it would be better to ask for help than to have come all this way without.
"Puff, would you be willing to help me?"
The dragon opened his eyes a crack, and Harry explained further.
"You see, there is an evil wizard fighting for control. He has killed many people, and we need to stop him, but we need help."
"All humans die," Puff replied.
Harry sighed. "Well, yes, that's true, but he is cruel. He causes pain and suffering everywhere he goes and in those he kills."
"The pain of any human is but a moment in time. You are mortal creatures. The pain will not last."
Harry scrubbed his hands over his face in frustration and nodded. He did not know how to persuade a dragon, even a talking one, and he did not want to stay any longer than he had to.
"Alright, then. I will respect your decision, even though I don't think it's right. I need to get back to my school. It might be in danger, and I'm the only one who can stop him." Most of this was said to himself, but he knew the dragon had heard.
"School? Is that not where children go?"
"Yes, it is."
"Why would a school be in danger?"
"The evil wizard wants to kill me. He'll do whatever he can to get to me, even if it means killing other kids."
"Harming children is one of the worst crimes against nature!" roared Puff.
Harry nodded. "I know, but that's exactly what this wizard does. It's one of the reasons he needs to be stopped."
The old dragon stood and stretched his wings. Harry noticed they had designs, like a child's painting, on them. Puff stretched like he hadn't done for many changes in the tide and let out a roar so deafening Harry was afraid he would have to see Madam Pomfrey when they returned.
"I will help you stop this evil. Killing the young and innocent is not tolerable."
Harry smiled grimly. He fully agreed, and was pleased to know that they would have the help of this mighty dragon. For a mighty dragon he was, now that he was at full size and the glum look had faded from his countenance.
"Do you need to prepare anything before we leave?"
"No. The storm has passed. Take seat on my tail and hold on. We will be there shortly."
Harry didn't ask how the dragon knew where they were going. He nervously made his way to the thick tail and wrapped his arms and legs around as securely as possible.
The were out of the cave, through a low-lying mist, and in the sky before he could rethink what he was doing, and Harry was glad. He was sure he would have changed his mind, but the ride was so amazing he would have kicked himself for not taking part. He finally got to see the sea. Puff flew low over it, as if anticipating Harry's childish interest in the watery expanse.
Harry knew that Puff would be a powerful ally in the coming fight. Something about the ancient dragon just made him believe anything was possible. It was even a stronger effect on this belief than discovering the magical world. The dragon he was perched on was pure goodness and light, a child of Merlin. No darkness, not even Voldemort, would be able to shroud that in darkness. For the first time, he was sure that the light would come out on top. Voldemort would not win. Harry would be the Boy-Who-Lived, and he would be happy for it.
. . .
A/N: So, I was listening to 'Puff the Magic Dragon' the other day… Please, don't have me committed. I tried and tried to tell the stupid plot dragon to go away. I ignored Puff for two whole days. Then, he threatened to take away my ice cream, and well, I just don't have that much will power. I'm terribly sorry to anyone who actually read this. On the plus side, you should all go listen to the song, right now! It was always one of my favorite kid's songs, but now when I hear it, I can't believe how sad it is. Anyway, I don't own the song or anything Harry Potter related. Btw, I didn't know if it was Harry or Snape in the story until they started talking to Puff, then I realized I couldn't write a sarcastic enough conversation between Snape and Puff, so it had to be Harry. If anyone want to try that, please tell me! I'd love to read it. Ok, I change my mind, have me committed.
Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow and Leonard Tipton, sung by Peter, Paul & Mary. Copyright 1963 Pepamar Music.