1. Due to issues with external spam filters, QQ is currently unable to send any mail to Microsoft E-mail addresses. This includes any account at live.com, hotmail.com or msn.com. Signing up to the forum with one of these addresses will result in your verification E-mail never arriving. For best results, please use a different E-mail provider for your QQ address.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. For prospective new members, a word of warning: don't use common names like Dennis, Simon, or Kenny if you decide to create an account. Spammers have used them all before you and gotten those names flagged in the anti-spam databases. Your account registration will be rejected because of it.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Since it has happened MULTIPLE times now, I want to be very clear about this. You do not get to abandon an account and create a new one. You do not get to pass an account to someone else and create a new one. If you do so anyway, you will be banned for creating sockpuppets.
    Dismiss Notice
  4. If you wish to change your username, please ask via conversation to tehelgee instead of asking via my profile. I'd like to not clutter it up with such requests.
    Dismiss Notice
  5. Due to the actions of particularly persistent spammers and trolls, we will be banning disposable email addresses from today onward.
    Dismiss Notice
  6. We have added another rule, please check the Rules post for more information.
    Dismiss Notice
  7. Due to some issues with Freenode, the QQ IRC Channel is moving. See here for more information.
    Dismiss Notice

Enter the Dragon (Harry Potter/Shadowrun)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Dunkelzahn, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. Vinom

    Vinom Know what you're doing yet?

    Nov 6, 2017
    Likes Received:
    If anything, it will concentrate it.

    Assuming they don't find the timekeeping system, these things are going to go off during the Mayan Calander Calibration of 2012. When they do, a large number of people are going to find regressive magically sensitive genes activate, turning them into elves and orcs, gnomes and trolls, sasquatches and dwarves... Additionally, the same effects will be happening to animals, turning armadillos into lumbering 80-ton Juggernauts or give some snakes the ability to turn invisible...

    When that happens, if they have only drained a few of the sites, not much will change from canon. What is going to change is that each one of these sites is a major banquet for Harry's current biology, which might dramatically affect his growth rate, and perhaps even kick of dragon puberty.
  2. RageKnight

    RageKnight My heresy senses are tingling

    Feb 2, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Hehehe. The sneaky China Men. Always planning to steal something. Oh what will they come up with next time.
    Naddakka741 and Ame like this.
  3. Lordamnesia

    Lordamnesia Getting sticky.

    Jan 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    I'm going to add on to Vinom's explanation that each release increases the background magic. That means more Muggleborn, more magic creatures, and maybe some early awakenings of people's recessive genes down the road. Also maybe an early Dragon awakening. Also with the added benefit of lessening of the chances of the nodes exploding like in Krakatoa especially since some of the nodes are now empty and the overflow can go there.
    Corvus 501, Amrynel and Jon like this.
  4. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    So, what they know in-story is that these devices were left around sucking up and storing tremendous amounts of magic which can be released. They then learned about a previous release which was recorded by history as the eruption of Krakatoa. Thus, they believe that all these devices are essentially ticking time-bombs big enough to wipe out civilization, and no one knows how long the fuses are. So the current actions they're taking are those of a bomb squad, defusing these things.

    No one in the wizarding world knows about the coming sixth age as that was lost to history --- specifically, the last written records of the end of the fourth age were lost when the Library of Alexandria was... misplaced during the Empire's conquest of magical Egypt; secrecy spells are a hell of a drug.

    As for what is actually happening, well I should probably spoiler-tag that.
    The nexuses would have effectively delayed the start of the sixth age by absorbing environmental magic and artificially suppressing magic levels. Their release means that the background levels will rapidly return to where they would have been. The Awakening will be on time, but the magic levels will continue rising much more abruptly than they normally do at the start of an age.

    So the nexuses have been around for a very long time, or at least the technology has been, the current crop are not the first iteration. They've been used as tools for storing energy for use in large-scale magic since well before the beginning of the first age, so they were well known for most of history, up to the end of the fourth age.

    After the Scourge of the fourth age, the Theran Empire (Atlantis) decided they wanted to keep the Scourge from happening again. Since the Scourge relied on environmental magic levels being high enough to support the existence of Horrors, the Theran mages reasoned that if they could remove enough magic from the environment, the maximum level reached during the next age might be low enough to avoid the worst of the Horrors. Thus, during the tail end of the fourth age, they traveled around the world and effectively jammed the safeties on all the nexuses open so they would not automatically stop gathering power after they reached their designed maximum capacity. A number of the Great Dragons and Immortal Elves knew about this plan, either having been told or having discovered it through their intelligence efforts.

    This seemed a reasonable choice at the time because the capacity of those rings is utterly enormous, but it had unanticipated effects. One of the chief issues was that it led to the rings being rendered effectively unusable --- the magic quickly became too intense for humans to use safely. This led, through a series of unfortunate events, to the collapse of the Theran Empire (and the sinking of Atlantis). In tangentially related news, the Theran refugees conquered another empire which is still a major player in the modern wizarding world.

    Because the rings were no longer usable, and there were no free sites to build new ones, the technology was relegated to the history books and fell out of common knowledge several thousand years before present time.
  5. Edmond G. Bertrand

    Edmond G. Bertrand Getting sticky.

    Nov 14, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Awesome. Tight, clean writing that moves the story forward. I really like it!
  6. QuietlyObserving

    QuietlyObserving Life is hard, sometimes.

    Sep 21, 2017
    Likes Received:
    If I recall correctly, Mandarin is only used to describe spoken Chinese. Cantonese and Mandarin both use the same written script, which is either traditional (complex, artful characters, takes a lifetime to master) which I assume is what she's using, and simplified (fewer strokes, less characters, designed for easier learning), which was introduced in the mid-20th century by Mao's government to promote literacy.
    Somewhere, beyond time and space, an unfathomable thing opened its eyes. The eternal challenge had once more been issued, and it would delight in proving the unsuspecting mortal wrong. Its fang-filled maw broadened in the imitation of joy.

    Murphy smiled, and the Universe trembled.
    FTR2017, Corvus 501, bryceh59 and 7 others like this.
  7. Edmond G. Bertrand

    Edmond G. Bertrand Getting sticky.

    Nov 14, 2018
    Likes Received:
    OK... so I'm kind of getting it. The HUGE, underground ley-line focused points of magic
    are going to be the cause of a massive change, world-wide, of all living
    populations. " People are going to find regressive magically sensitive genes activate,
    turning them into elves and orcs, gnomes and trolls, Sasquatches and Dwarves"

    OK... so Harry really is just the first of the creatures to be affected by these pools of magical
    power and tapping them will affect him by causing a "magical puberty" or massive
    growth-spurt. One question... how is that going to affect his relationship
    with his damsels? Will be suddenly become *much* more interested in Hermione,
    Su-li, Abigail, etc? How will the discharge affect the girls? Will Abigail
    regain, somewhat, her 'hypersensitivity' to his magic? LOL. "Face-down
    in her mashed potatoes" certainly would be funny! I'd love to see you
    write that scene out.

    "Avebury had discharged into a scrawny, malnourished, completely untrained pre-teen wizard."

    OK... so one other question: When will Harry and his damsels be told about this
    effect? Are they going to be warned ahead of time that massive changes
    are in the offing when the other sites get tapped? Would the girls have
    cause to be worried? or just excited?
    Acolyte likes this.
  8. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    I was not aware of that distinction, thanks. Edited.

    Edmond G. Bertrand: On the subject of puberty, I will say that Harry will hit it very early for his kind, and the timing will have a number of significant effects on the plot. I think I'll leave it at that.
  9. wichajster

    wichajster Away

    Aug 22, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Also, we were lucky. Most people are unaware how lucky.




    There are more cases known to public. We are really lucky that nuclear weapons were last used for attack in WWII.
  10. Doghead13

    Doghead13 Grumpy Old Scottish Biker

    Sep 26, 2018
    Likes Received:
    The nexii are original work by Yours Truly and were written for the fic before I settled on making it a Shadowrun cross.

    They were directly inspired by how prominently henges turn up in ley-line folklore (making a henge an obvious candidate if you want a site of magical power for your story) as combined with my lifelong fascination with Britain's many Neolithic remains, how little we actually know about what henges were -for-, and a little bit of annoyance athow much modern media focuses on Stonehenge - that alone was the reason I set the initial transformation at Avebury, the largest henge in Britain - it's absolutely bloody enormous, there is literally an entire village INSIDE the circle. Incidentally, the actual 'henge' is the circular ditch - there are far more henges than stone circles in the world today, many of which never had standing stones while others had similar uprights made using tree-trunks - including Woodhenge, which is essentially Stonhenge's bigger neighbour. The other particularly important one that gets overlooked all the time is Stenness: it's the first one. The entire thing with the digging of henges began right there at Stenness in Orkney a century or so over five thousand years ago.

    I apologise for waxing lyrical; the entire subject absolutely fascinates me.

    I developed the idea in the process of writing the very first fragment that became the scene where Harry actually transforms at the very beginning of the fic, complete with the idea of Krakatoa having been one of them and the idea that they were sort of very large magical 'capacitors', so to speak. The idea that they have a failure point where they lose ability to contain more magic and go bang went in as part of that first brainstorming session.

    Building Shadowrun in as a cross came as an extension of the idea that each time one released - explosively or otherwise - it was accompanied by a dramatic increase in the level of magic in the world, and was done to gain a plot that'd give the high-powered protagonist I was developing a serious workout. I'd loosely thought to have the nexii the result of an ancient attempt to control Shadowrun/Earthdawn's cycle of magic - where Dunkelzahn plans to go with them is of course another matter, and one that I'm rather looking forwards to seeing.
  11. EternitynChaos

    EternitynChaos Once there was a Maiden...

    Apr 3, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Now lad, don't go tempting fate like that, it's unhealthy
  12. ranmatoushin

    ranmatoushin Confused, As Always

    Oct 8, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Doghead13, could I say thank you, for the awesome stories you wrote and for inspiring this continuation of your original.

    And incidently are you still writing anywhere I could follow your work?
  13. Ashaeron

    Ashaeron Getting sticky.

    Feb 14, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Everyone who actually knows or understands this level of magic is asleep/hibernating or long, long, long dead. Either it'll be discovered by the intrepid professors of Hogwarts, or they'll not know until after it happens.
    ScarletFlames likes this.
  14. Cadmus von Eizenbern

    Cadmus von Eizenbern Insert Pun Here

    Dec 5, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Since you are here, I have a question:
    Obviously, if the things are unlocked, they release magic stored and we have Global Magicking.
    If they overfill, we have a big boom, then Global Magicking.

    And if someone were to get to ALL of these before they go critical and absorb all that power into oneself? Would that be enough to delay the next Age (seeing as that power would be out of circulation, but the buildup would continue)?
    Ame likes this.
  15. Doghead13

    Doghead13 Grumpy Old Scottish Biker

    Sep 26, 2018
    Likes Received:
    I'm currently mostly active on the Caer Azkaban Yahoo group - for some reason it doesn't show up in Yahell's search function but you can find it through Google - though that said I've also as of recently been posting a Mass Effect AU here.

    My current primary fic is currently only on Caer Azkaban - that's also likely to turn up here at some point in the not so distant future, once I summon the guts to do so.

    Or, it's worth noting, they're Immortal Elves, a fair few of whom are known to be running around in the Sixth Age - most prominently Harlequin.

    No real data from my end there - I'd originally gone with no and what they would have done (if they had not been set to explode) was lower the maximum level reached, but that is of course Dunkelzahn's call. In my version the Awakening was going to fire off early as a result of the caste's actions with the nexii, mostly via the nexii's power having created a magical current through the body of whoever released it rather than their body absorbing it, but I don't think that's where Dunkelzahn is going with this.
    Corvus 501, Ame and wichajster like this.
  16. Extras: World Building: Magic Cycles and Stone Rings

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    So, for a more complete explanation of how I've pictured the rings working in this version:
    • They were originally designed as storage devices for building up energy in order to perform large-scale magic
    • As such, they have certain functions built into them to assist with that purpose
      • They can automatically gather and store magic from the environment
        • They do so by effectively turning the bedrock beneath them (all the way down to where it starts to heat up enough to begin to melt) into a giant magical battery
        • Because of this, their storage capacities are stupidly high
        • Their placement on ley-line nexuses is intended to allow them to fill faster
      • They can discharge that stored magic in various ways
        • Most are related to the primary use of the stones, performing useful magic
        • The story-relevant one is a safety-release/regulator which would normally be used to drain excess magic from the stones before carrying out something relatively delicate. Throttling magic is hard, so the original designers just made sure there was only enough in the stones to do the job required, releasing the excess to the environment
      • They can be turned off
        • There is an automatic safety to turn the energy collection feature off at a set magical charge, normally quite low. The stupidly high capacities of the rings are an unintended consequence of the design; human mages (who designed the things) can't use energy that intense.
          • As part of an attempt to control the overall magical cycle, a group of mages jammed all these safeties open at the end of the fourth age, resulting in the current situation.
        • When the drain is triggered (what Harry is doing), the collection effect must be manually restarted. This is a design feature, since the drain is intended, when done properly, to ensure that there is a specific amount of magic available for use. Immediately collecting more would be counterproductive. Harry is not giving the stone the proper parameters to tell it when to stop (he doesn't know how), so he's getting the full blast.
    • So when Harry is dealing with the things, he's draining the stored energy into himself (with some amount of spillage) and turning off the absorption effect, effectively rendering the circle inert until someone more knowledgeable turns it back on
    Now, as to how the magic cycle works and what is going on on a planetary scale:
    Note: none of this is known by anyone in-universe, not the Great Dragons, not the Immortal Elves, nobody.
    • Magic is produced by all life to one extent or another. Non-magical life produces magic in tremendous excess of what it uses, while magical life can vary between net producers and net consumers. Even non-magical life is enhanced by magic; therefore, the more magic there is in the environment, the faster it will be produced (until other factors limit the growth of the life producing it)
    • The excess magic produced sticks around in the environment until something uses it --- the magical field is non-radiative, so it doesn't dissipate off into space on its own.
    • There exist many forms of life which consume magic. Among these are a group of strains of partially-astral bacteria which live in the solid rock of the earth's crust and feed on environmental magic.
    • These bacteria have no natural predators, given their environment, thus they grow unchecked until their food runs out.
    • This results in an oscillating growth cycle
      • The bacterial population starts out at a minimum; magic is thus produced faster than it is consumed. (Beginning of high magic age)
      • With magic available, the bacterial population increases rapidly.
      • Eventually, the bacterial population is high enough that it consumes magic faster than it can be produced, causing magic levels to fall. (Middle of high-magic age)
      • Bacterial populations reach a maximum (End of high-magic age)
      • Without the magic to support it, the bacterial population starts to die off.
      • Eventually, the population falls to the point that it is again consuming less magic than is being produced. (Middle of low-magic age)
      • Magic levels begin to recover as bacterial populations start to stabilize.
      • And we are back to the beginning of the cycle.
    This process has some interesting side-effects.
    • The "Living Earth" effect which prevents Horrors and other similar critters from passing through bedrock is due to these bacteria providing a solid astral barrier
    • The presence of these critters and the biofilms they form when in sufficient numbers will severely limit petroleum and natural gas production as the cycle progresses. (In a related note, the die-offs mean that the world's oil reserves will completely replace themselves after the sixth age, so it's a mixed blessing.)

    So, in short, the interplay between those two situations means that successfully draining the nodes will precipitously increase the world's effective rate of production of magic with each node dealt with --- he's removing a drain without changing the production rate. This change is immediately reflected in atmospheric sensors (like the ones Flamel uses) because the air saturates very quickly, but there is a lot of magic-absorbent material in the world which needs to follow suit before the steady rise can continue towards the Awakening.

    The end result is the Awakening will be on time (a convenient coincidence chosen mainly because I didn't want to have to rework all the geopolitics to account for a change in timeline), but magic levels will be increasing much faster than they normally do at that point in the cycle, which will have its own consequences.
    Midon, Damnedmatt, caspian1a and 24 others like this.
  17. Mashadarof402

    Mashadarof402 Experienced.

    Apr 11, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Consequences like the first neophyte mage discovering he can cast magic missile, only to be immediately eaten by dimensional horrors due to the rapid saturation of magic to support their existence?
    caspian1a, Grimrr and Ame like this.
  18. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Consequences that would prematurely reveal a central aspect of the later plot if I were to clarify them now. Feel free to speculate, though.
    Corvus 501, caspian1a, Grimrr and 6 others like this.
  19. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Experienced.

    Jan 10, 2015
    Likes Received:
    All of Sue Li's scene, while very well written if taken in Isolation, seems to work only if we assume she's 14 or 15 years old.
    1)In canon Harry needed to specifically learn the summoning charm for the tournament, you have Sue Li having mastered a specialized version of it before starting Hogwarts. Even if the specialized version is easier to learn that seems very unlikely.
    2)You seem to be suggesting that her family is relying on the observation and investigation skills of a 12 y/o. This would be difficult enough to buy is she were 15, but as it is it's ridiculous (There is of course the possibility that she's wrong about what her family is relying on and her assignment is really just a test of her observational skills, but given everything else in this segment that isn't the impression I'm getting).
    3)Sue Li is apparently going to start trying to hook a husband at age 12. While having a marriage agreement/betrothal agreed between the families when the principals are that age is possible you seem to be pointing to Sue Li getting close to the selected boy first, which does not make sense at that age.

    Of course if I misunderstood where that sub-plot is going feel free to snicker and ignore this, but that's how I read it.

    Nitpick - While I can see Wizards using mundane construction instead of transformation for anything that needs to be permanent or for which the magical properties matter, and for stuff like disposable forks the large number of separate items needed means that it makes sense to get plastic forks instead of temporary transformations, but why would they use mundane folding table here when a temporary transformation would work better?

    Other then this bit I really liked the picnic scene.
    Grimrr and Acolyte like this.
  20. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    1) In this setting, as long as you're casting with the full wand movements and incantation, simple charms are generally quite easy to cast with a bit of practice (most of the hard stuff was handled in the wand creation and spell design phases of the casting). The limitations are generally in the amount of power used. Conceptually, summoning is among the simplest charms, very easy to visualize, but it can be fairly power hungry depending on distance and the nature of the thing being summoned (How heavy is it? What's it made of? Is it enchanted? etc.). Thus, it is not taught early for fear of a child injuring themselves by attempting to summon something they shouldn't. Summoning a shed hair across a room is well within the capabilities of a first year, provided someone is willing to teach them. Summoning an enchanted broomstick across campus is not.

    2) It's less trusting her judgement and more trusting their analysis of the tissue samples she was supposed to collect. There was a reason she was very frustrated about not being able to complete that aspect of Harry's file. Her speculations on the subject are just that, idle speculation.

    I'm glad something about her actions seems a bit off to you. It should.

    Magical Britain is, despite appearances so far, actually one of the nicer places to live in the wizarding world. Some of the others are... unpleasant, and while the Han Empire is much better than, say, the magical Ottoman Empire, it's still got more than its fair share of ugliness. Su Li is very much a product of her upbringing.

    As for the table, why wouldn't they use a real table? The company's maintenance yards are within walking distance, and they've probably got a dozen of those heavy tables around the machine shops at any given time. Heavy enough to support some of the smaller locomotive-bits they might be working on (or 1500 lbs of meat for that matter) but portable enough to move around the shop as needed and collapsible enough to get out of the way when you need the floor space.

    If it makes you feel better, they probably move and reassemble it with magic, though.
  21. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Experienced.

    Jan 10, 2015
    Likes Received:
    From the description I'd think it would be over a considerably farther distance, but okay.

    Regarding Sue Li's background, I look forward to the explanation because I can't think of anything that would have that make sense.

    Those tables are:
    1)Not what I think of when I think of a table that is "easily put up and taken down for temporary events like the picnic". That line makes me think of plastic folding tables.
    2)Probably in use, especially if the train yard is expanding.
    3)Definitely stained with stuff you don't want near food.
    4)Likely be made by magic if they are only needed for short periods.

    Grilling a 500 lb side of beef is something that (if possible, and I'm not sure it is) would take more than a full day. For any sort of practical cooking times they'd need to be cut to a thickness that can be cooked. Probably something like 30-40lb steaks, which would significantly reduce the weight on the table.

    For that matter I think you might be surprised at how much weight a plastic folding table can carry
    (and yes, that's an advertisement and not very scientific, but still...)
  22. LC Poketoon

    LC Poketoon Not too sore, are you?

    Feb 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Tell the truth I'm wondering what side effects are going to hit everyone who was there when Harry tapped the Stones.
    Grimrr, Ame and Edmond G. Bertrand like this.
  23. Edmond G. Bertrand

    Edmond G. Bertrand Getting sticky.

    Nov 14, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Actually - that would be funny as hell if the Dursleys started demonstrating magical abilities themselves. What
    would Vernon Dursley's reaction be if he discovered that he could .... summon gold out
    of the ground... or turn invisible... or whatever. Something that has a distinct advantage to it in the Muggle

    What would Mrs. Dursley think if she had the ability to hear her neighbor's thoughts? And then, to her horror,
    discovered that it wasn't an ability that she could just shut off?

    The whole line of thinking has a lot of potential as a side story about self-discovery and what it really
    means to be kind to others.
  24. Hunting time

    Hunting time Getting out there.

    Mar 29, 2018
    Likes Received:
    well in the original story Vernon becomes either an orc or troll at the Awakening
  25. Spartan3909

    Spartan3909 Know what you're doing yet?

    Jan 6, 2018
    Likes Received:
    I wouldn't be surprised if they become non-human after The Awakening.
  26. Threadmarks: Section 3.14 - Denouement

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

    Jul 10, 2018
    Likes Received:
    3.14 Denouement

    3.14.1 Realizations

    It was late afternoon, and the Lair was quiet, empty but for a single head of bushy brown hair peeking up over the leather-covered back of one of the mismatched chairs in Harry’s library. Hermione sat alone on the mezzanine overlooking the echoingly empty main room of the Lair. It was an ideal spot to reflect on the day’s events.

    And those events warranted reflection, for they had been quite important. Harry had participated in the first intentional draining of one of the nexuses that he and most of the Hogwarts staff had spent the last several years fretting about. It had been the culmination of a great deal of work and worry for a great many people, and having it go so smoothly was both a relief and something of a letdown.

    Of course, for Hermione, whose primary stake in the endeavor was the safety of her best friend, relief was by far the more prevalent emotion — so much so that she was currently on the brink of exhaustion despite having done nothing but stand around all day before hitching a ride back to the Lair with Harry.

    Though, come to think of it, that ride with Harry might have been another contributing factor to her current exhausted state.

    She gave a tired giggle at the thought.

    Ever since draining Stonehenge, her currently dragon-shaped friend had been more energetic than she had ever seen him before, quite an accomplishment, given Harry’s usual bright-eyed, bouncy demeanor. He was like a small child on a sugar-high from hell. Even seeing it was exhausting, almost debilitatingly so after the worries of the day.

    Of course just like a sugar-rush — as Madame Pomfrey had assured her when she had asked — Harry would eventually hit the end of his unnaturally-high energy levels and crash into exhaustion himself. In the meantime, however, everyone dealt with the situation in their own ways.

    Harry had spent the afternoon playing an interminable game of tag with the resident phoenix, who looked to be enjoying the proceedings immensely. Abigail had returned home immediately, citing family commitments aloud while shooting Hermione and Suze a sly look and silently mouthing, “Enjoy yourselves!”

    Obviously, Abigail had a long memory.

    After Abigail had left, Suze had gone to visit her family, feeling no need to make excuses. If not for the intervention of the phoenix Hermione would have been stuck dealing with a hyperactive dragon-shaped Harry Potter all afternoon. It was enough to make her reconsider her nascent plots to retaliate against the fiery bird for the picnic incident; getting splashed with tea was a small price to pay, in hindsight. A quiet evening in the library wasn’t too bad.

    Though, if she were to be completely honest with herself, Hermione would have preferred to take the same route her centaur counterpart had. It had been quite some time since the bushy-haired girl had been able to spend any quality time with her parents.

    There had been a great many reminders about what she was missing with the absence of her parents of late — too many for the bushy-haired girl to put it out of her mind. She had missed their sage advice after her recent gaffe with Professor Snape, and after seeing the McDonalds and all the other happy families at the barbecue Hermione had found herself missing her parents dearly. She had been without her family for much too long.

    She frowned.

    Just how long had it been, anyway?

    The last time she’d even seen them was at the beginning of the summer, and that hardly counted. At the time, Hermione had been so sick with worry over her best friend’s condition that her parents had barely registered. Before that had been Christmas of the previous year, which again had been taken up either with adjusting to Harry’s Lair or the usual whirlwind schedule of visiting various relatives. As Hermione thought back over her interactions with her parents, she quickly realized that the last time she’d had a really good opportunity to spend time with her parents was before she’d started at Hogwarts.

    That had been nearly eighteen months ago!

    A year-and-a-half without her parents was not acceptable. Hermione’s tired countenance firmed at the thought. Hogwarts was supposed to have been a boarding school, not an adoption agency; something would have to be done!

    It was too late to alter her plans for Christmas break — for that matter, her mum and dad were already coming to visit for the holiday — but come the end of the school year, she would simply have to insist on going home for the summer. Hermione nodded decisively. She was sure Harry would understand.

    And in the meantime, she would make the most of her parents’ Christmas visit.

    She sighed, rising from her favorite chair to make her way to her bedroom. For now, though, she’d take a nap; it had been a very tiring day, after all.

    3.14.2 Failed expectations

    When working on a long-term project, particularly one as fraught with uncertainty and danger as the plan to learn about and drain the Stongehenge nexus, certain expectations tend to build. Each level of contingency planning, each backup, and each failsafe ratchets those expectations higher and higher, and the nervous tension of those involved ratchets up right alongside them. When all that build-up comes to a head, and then the project proceeds to go off without the slightest hitch, the sudden release tends to leave a curious sort of mood in its wake. It is an odd mix of relief, disbelief, and lethargy, and it often comes mixed with an undercurrent of irrational resentment at all the effort wasted preparing for contingencies that never happened.

    Such was the mood in the Hogwarts staff room following the draining of Stonehenge.

    For once, Filius managed to pass out drinks before anyone mustered the gumption to break the heavy silence in the conference room. The various staff members sat listlessly, faces slack and dull eyes staring — into their drinks, into space, even into a blank wall in one case — and marveling at all the effort and worry which in the end had proven entirely unnecessary.

    The drink of the day was Pomona’s take on the non-magical classic, champagne, chosen beforehand in anticipation of a celebratory mood in the aftermath of draining the Stonehenge nexus. Amber in color and laced with silvery bubbles rising in a shimmering cascade, it could almost have been mistaken for a non-magical drink and would have suited the unexpectedly somber tone of the debriefing quite well had it not been for one, unfortunate feature. When those silvery bubbles burst at the surface of the liquor, they occasionally launched miniature fireworks which detonated in a profusely colorful panoply about a foot above the surface of the drink.

    When a cheery pink starburst illuminated the glowering face of the resident potions master, Sprout found the dissonance between the somber mood and the lively display too much to tolerate. Thinking quickly, she raised her glass, wincing at her own cheerful yellow explosion in the process, and offered a perfunctory toast.

    “To the success of our endeavors!”

    And with that, she drained her entire glass in one go. Her colleagues caught on quickly, aping the action, and soon the overly festive drinks fell silent and dark, much to the relief of those in the room. A quick gesture from Sprout prompted Flitwick to quietly exchange the half-empty bottle of her celebratory brew for a much tamer bottle of Ogden’s.

    “Thank you for your quick thinking, Pomona,” Dumbledore tiredly congratulated his subordinate on her handling of the jarringly cheerful drink. “I confess I was having some difficulty thinking coherently enough to see to it myself.”

    The amateur brewer shrugged. You couldn’t win them all.

    “Perhaps we might revisit your creation on another occasion,” the elderly wizard offered kindly, even as he took a bracing sip of the old wizarding favorite. “In any case, I understand our trial run went more smoothly than we had dared to hope?”

    “Indeed, Albus,” Flitwick confirmed. “Mr. Potter managed to drain the Stonehenge nexus with nary a hiccup. There were a few odd lights and a bit of sound but nothing approaching what we viewed in that memory of Mr. Potter’s transformation at Avebury.”

    The dour potions master spoke up, “Our protections against prying eyes proved to be more than adequate.” He snorted, “Between our spell choice and the not inconsiderable effort Minerva and I put into their emplacement those wards would have hidden a full-scale war. That it was only called upon to hide that pathetic display seems vaguely insulting.”

    “Now, Severus,” his Scottish colleague chided, “you should not be complaining about things going unexpectedly well — particularly not when the alternatives could have been so dire.”

    “Blast it, Minerva! I know that,” the dark man snapped, “but knowing that makes precious little difference in the face of all that wasted effort. I defy you to tell me truthfully that you are fully satisfied with the way things came out. With how smoothly that went, we could have hared off on an afternoon lark and done just as well, rather than building up to it for half a year!”

    “I am happy that we made it through without complications,” the transfiguration mistress qualified, before admitting with a reluctant grimace, “but yes, I must admit it was rather disheartening.”

    “Was the Stonehenge nexus simply that much weaker, or is something else at work?” Albus asked.

    “I believe the relative strength of the nexuses played a significant role,” the half-goblin volunteered, pausing to sip at his drink, “but I sincerely doubt it was the only factor.” A small gout of flame escaped his lips as if to punctuate the statement. “Hopefully, we will be able to glean more insight by analyzing our sensor records of the procedure.”

    The school Healer finished off her whiskey with a gulp before speaking up for the first time. “I believe I can offer some preliminary insight into that,” Poppy volunteered. “Things were not nearly so sedate on Mr. Potter’s end of the transaction.”

    “Mr. Potter was injured?” the young dragon’s Head of House spoke up immediately, embarrassment over the poor reception of her latest brew evaporating in the face of her concern for her student. “He seemed so energetic.”

    “No, Mr. Potter was not injured,” the Healer was quick to assure her concerned colleague. “He is quite sound, but even so, this revealed some rather interesting information. First, Filius, I do not know how the rest of your sensors fared, but you need not consider those you placed on Mr. Potter’s person. Not one survived intact — the ones farthest away from the transfer point appear to have simply overloaded, but damages became increasingly severe the closer they were to the transfer location. I was unable to recover the remains of any sensors closer than Mr. Potter’s shoulder; I believe they were either blown clear or vaporized entirely.”

    “They were not blown clear,” Severus volunteered. “Such a thing would have at least strained our concealment wards. They registered no such disturbance.”

    The half-goblin charms master frowned in thought. “That sort of energy is more in keeping with what we expected,” he allowed, “but the absorption coefficients…” His eyes closed as he tilted his head back in thought. “Mr. Potter couldn’t have absorbed so much magic so quickly, not with so little spillage...” the diminutive man trailed off.

    “You’re correct, Filius,” Septima Vector agreed. “At that intensity, there should have been more overflow than we observed. So where did the rest go?”

    “Perhaps some other failsafe in the runic structure?” Bathsheda ventured, retreating to her own specialty for an explanation.

    The school Healer cleared her throat. “Before speculation travels too far afield, I should reel you in. Based on Mr. Potter’s follow-up physical, I believe you should shift your estimation of his capacity to store magic up by several orders of magnitude.”

    “How so?” the half-goblin asked, intrigued.

    “I’ve not yet worked out how to examine the changes in detail, given Mr. Potter’s intransigent physiology,” the Healer averred, “but I have noticed significant physical changes on an organ our explorations had not yet identified.”

    “Which one?” Snape asked, interest piqued. He had been Poppy’s closest collaborator in exploring the young dragon’s physiology.

    “We had designated it LP-31 in our notes.”

    “One of the paired ones, then,” the sallow man frowned. “Was that…”

    “The one we had thought might be a redundant liver?” Madame Pomfrey finished for him. “Yes, that’s the one.”

    “So, it is involved in absorbing magic, then,” the potions master mused. “I suppose that would explain the structural similarities to the liver. Particularly if it simply filters out excess magic from the blood.”

    “Storage as well, I believe,” Poppy added. “It seems to have changed shape, and the diagnostic returns indicate a change in composition as well.” She frowned. “I don’t quite know what to think of that. If the boy’s basic structure continues to change at the drop of a hat, I have no idea how I will ever establish a proper baseline.”

    “I believe I am familiar with the class of diagnostic you are using, Poppy,” Albus chimed in. “I’d not be overly concerned about the composition returns in this case. The diagnostic uses internal magic densities to infer composition; therefore…”

    “…the change in stored magic would alter the returned composition as well,” Poppy concluded. “That makes me feel quite a bit better about my prospects as Mr. Potter’s Healer, then. Thank you, Albus.”

    “Think nothing of it, Poppy,” the elderly wizard countered. “By all means verify that conclusion, as well. Given Mr. Potter’s recent medical history, spontaneous changes in composition are hardly out of the question.”

    “Of course, I’ll certainly do that,” came the reply. “What would you suggest as an alternative?”

    With that, the conversation spun off for a time into a wide-ranging discussion of the merits of various classes of diagnostic charms which dragged in most of the senior staff. It lasted until one of the younger professors brought the meeting back on task.

    “While this discussion is fascinating,” Septima broke in, “and I am sure you will be eager to finish it later, for now, perhaps we should discuss where we need to go from here? There are a great many more of these things out there, as I recall.”

    “Ah, an excellent point,” AIbus allowed with a sheepish expression. “Where do we need to go from here?”

    The room was silent.

    “We now have a second example of a discharging nexus to examine,” Albus volunteered when it became clear no one else would. “Perhaps we could use it to better prepare for discharging the next one?”

    “We need a better handle on the magic we are working with,” Filius agreed. “I’m afraid we got lucky on this attempt, and we will eventually have to go after the higher-capacity nexuses as well.” The half-goblin narrowed his eyes speculatively, “Hopefully the surviving sensors will yield some information on that front.”

    He nodded to the healer in the room. “Madame, if I could request that you share any more information you discover on Mr. Potter’s interaction with the magic fields in play, it would be extremely valuable.”

    The Healer nodded.

    “While we have free rein to visit any of the sites within the ICW,” Snape began, “it occurs to me that many of these nexuses are not within the borders of ICW countries. Perhaps we should begin examining options to obtain access to them?”

    “I take it you have some ideas in that regard?” the elderly headmaster asked. At his potions master’s affirmative nod, he continued, “feel free to pursue them, then. Such things will always take far longer than expected, so we might as well begin early.”

    “Um, Headmaster,” Bathsheda called. “While we’re on that topic, Sybil asked me to pass something on for her.”

    “Oh?” the bearded man asked.

    “She said she’s not sure why, but she is certain the next nexus we look at should be the one in the Canadian Rocky Mountains — near the Seven Sisters, if that means anything to anyone,” the arithmancy professor looked puzzled. “I’m not sure what to make of it myself, but that was what Sybil asked me to pass on.”

    With that, the conference room fell silent.

    “I see, well, I suppose that answers the question of where to direct your initial efforts, Severus. If anyone else has further ideas in the future, please feel free to bring them up when inspiration strikes,” the Headmaster said. “In the meantime, please take advantage of the remainder of your winter break in order to rest and celebrate a job well done.”

    The meeting ended much more cheerily than it began.

    3.14.3 Too tired to sleep

    Despite his initial rush of energy, it hadn’t taken long for exhaustion to come crashing in on Harry in the wake of the events at Stonehenge. Unfortunately for his peace of mind, an understanding of the full magnitude of what he had just done had crashed in right alongside the exhaustion, leaving him paradoxically both utterly drained and simultaneously too wired to sleep. As a result, the young dragon found himself sprawled bonelessly on the lip of the Lair in the wee hours of the brisk winter morning watching dark wisps of cloud sweep across the starlit sky even as his mind churned restlessly over recent events.

    While Hermione had long since turned in for the evening by the time Harry returned to the Lair, Suze had predictably joined her dragon upon her return from visiting the Clan, stoically wrapping herself in several layers of deerhide blankets to ward off the nighttime chill and hunkering down next to him with the air of someone determined to stay as long as they were needed. She had fallen asleep some hours previous, but the soft movements of her breathing remained a comforting sight for the young dragon... a sight that he rather gratefully returned to many times over the course of the night.

    Despite Suze’s comforting presence, however, his thoughts wouldn’t leave him alone.

    What might have happened if he hadn’t absorbed the magic fast enough? What if there had been more than they’d expected? Would he have survived it? Would his friends have? There were so many things that could have gone wrong, some of which would have had truly spectacular consequences.

    It had turned out smoothly in the end, almost suspiciously so, but draining the nexus at Stonehenge had been the first time Harry had deliberately and knowingly risked his life. Of course, in hindsight, he’d probably been at an objectively greater risk in the aftermath of the philosopher’s stone incident during the previous spring, but that had happened while he’d been unconscious.

    This one he’d walked into with his eyes wide open.

    The young dragon sighed a very deliberate sigh as he attempted to force himself to relax, prompting a sleepy murmur from Suze as she shifted in her sleep. His was a puzzling sort of reaction to Harry’s way of thinking. He’d have expected to be nervous in the lead-up to the event and then relieved afterward; instead, he’d proven to be mostly collected before the big day, rock-solid during the execution, and then a nervous mess afterward, unable to stop thinking about all the things that could have gone wrong. Harry frowned as he considered that.

    What a weird way for him to go about things.

    The dragon shook his head — gently to avoid waking his centaur damsel — in yet another an attempt to rid himself of the endless circle of worries that had kept him awake for the last several hours. It was just as successful as the last dozen attempts had been. He needed to get to sleep, Harry thought with a frown. He had guests due to arrive tomorrow... well, later today by now, and he didn’t want to be falling asleep as he welcomed them to the Lair.

    That just wouldn’t be on!

    Perhaps a different tactic? Great green eyes narrowed speculatively. If just trying to not think about it didn’t work, maybe deliberately thinking about something else might be more effective. It was probably worth a try in any case; if it didn’t work, at least he might get something accomplished.

    Harry nodded emphatically, prompting another, louder, sleepy murmur from Suze which caused him to still immediately, a sheepish expression on his reptilian face. There was no need to keep his damsel awake just because he was being silly. When he had assured himself that the centaur maiden was once again sound asleep, the young dragon deliberately turned his thoughts to some of the other irons he had in the fire.

    He’d invited Hermione’s parents to spend Christmas with him and his damsels, and they were supposed to be arriving in the late afternoon. There wasn’t a lot left to do to prepare for that, though. There was plenty of space since he’d dug out a guest room during some of his spare time over the summer, and he’d already let Mr. Bane know to be on the lookout for them.

    Though, come to think of it, Harry thought with a quirked brow, there was something he’d been meaning to discuss with Hermione for a few weeks now which he probably ought to handle in the morning before her parents arrived. She probably wouldn’t be too keen on going along with it afterwards, not after she’d spent so much time away from them. Or at least, that’s what he’d guess; Harry only had his imagination to go on as far as parenting went, though he’d been thinking a lot more about that sort of thinking since visiting his parents’ graves.

    After that, he had that meeting with Mr. Slackhammer scheduled for two days after Christmas. His business partner had seemed cheerful about his prospects, so that’d probably go pretty well. Harry frowned thoughtfully; speaking of the goblins, he’d also had that other idea when he was talking with Mr. Wardale at the picnic. It might make sense to arrange a meeting with one of the Gringotts engineers, too... maybe Specialist Flame-Eye, he’d probably know the right sort of stuff. Harry had had some more ideas since…

    Large green eyes narrowed thoughtfully. That stuff could get pretty involved; he probably ought to write some of this down. The dragon raised his massive head to look back over his shoulder into the Lair and reached out with his magic, levitating his dictation quill and a notepad from where he’d tossed them on returning from his encounter with the basilisk.

    Only a few minutes of low whispering passed before Harry finally dozed off, his great scaly chin coming to rest next to his notepad as exhaustion finally took its due.

    3.14.4 Insistence

    The next day had dawned bright and early... too bright and too early in the eyes of the heavy-eyed inhabitants of Harry’s cliffside Lair, which left tempers running a little high.

    “Look, Hermione, I don’t get why you’re being so stubborn about this,” Harry, currently in the shape of a small boy, complained with an exasperated huff as his centaur damsel stood at his side looking on neutrally. “Suze and I do this every day — sometimes twice a day. Even Abigail joins in sometimes when she’s got time. It’s really important.”

    The girl so addressed was standing with her arms across her chest and an obstinate look on her face, as she stubbornly refused to budge.

    “I don’t want to,” bushy hair rustled as Hermione shook her head in defiance.

    “I know you don’t want to, you’ve made that clear enough,” Harry acknowledged, “and I guess I can kinda see where you’re coming from… maybe?” the currently human-shaped dragon allowed dubiously. “But I’m really going to have to insist.”

    “No, I’m not going to do it. I refuse.”

    Harry’s expression hardened, “Well too bad, you’re going to do it anyway.”

    Hermione’s knuckles whitened as she glared at her friend, her teeth clenched in irritation.

    He sighed, “Look, it’s not hard. You just turn around, put your feet shoulder-width apart, flex your knees a little, take a deep breath, and we can get started. It’ll be over before you know it. You might even enjoy it!”

    “I can’t believe you’re making me do this; it’s against the law!” the bushy-haired girl sounded rather distressed.

    “Not in the magical world, it’s not,” Harry countered implacably, hefting his rifle in emphasis. “When I carried you off, I took on certain responsibilities for you, but you have some too, and I’ve let you avoid attending to your side of things for too long. Now turn around and get to it, we don’t have all day. We’ll be doing this at least every morning.”

    Hermione scowled angrily but nonetheless complied. It wasn’t as it she was in a position to refuse. “You were never like this before, what changed?”

    “I had a bit of a revelation at the dueling club last term,” Harry explained as his human damsel turned to face the cavernous expanse of the Lair’s firing range. “It’s a lot harder to hit a target than you might think, and if I need the practice even after years of learning, then you certainly do too.”

    “I don’t see why I have to learn to shoot,” the twelve-year-old witch complained. “I’ve got you to protect me, don’t I?”

    “You do, and I’m happy to do so,” Hermione’s currently human-shaped friend assured her before continuing. “But you need to be able to defend yourself, too. Mr. Slackhammer told me that even if there are people willing to help, everyone is responsible for protecting himself... or herself in your case, I guess. I mean, what if you’re on the other side of the school or something? I might not be close enough to help in time, and then you’d have to be at least good enough to stay alive for a little while.” Harry nodded, “Best to make sure you know what you’re doing, just in case.”

    “Fine,” the bushy-haired girl acquiesced wih a huff. “Am I using your rifle, or what?”

    “You want to learn to shoot a rifle, too?” the young dragon asked, pleasantly surprised. “I thought you said you didn’t want to do that since you don’t have a license.”

    “Well what else am I going to use for marksmanship practice?” Hermione all-but shouted in exasperation.

    “I was just going to have you join me for the spellcasting target practice,” Harry explained, gesturing to a freshly-excavated section of the room with a set of much closer targets and backed by a blank wall rather than the metal surfaces of a snail-trap.

    “Why didn’t you just say that from the beginning?” Hermione demanded, burying her face in her hands in frustration. “I’d have been fine doing that to begin with!”

    “I thought you said before you didn’t want to do target practice?” the young dragon asked, puzzled.

    His bushy-haired damsel glared at him in outrage through her frizzy bangs before brandishing her wand with a huff and stalking off to the indicated portion of the range.

    At least she wouldn’t struggle to find the motivation to practice; she’d just have to imagine the targets with green eyes and black hair.

    3.14.5 Strange detective

    Shrouded in the darkness of night and washed by a steady, soaking winter rain, a familiar stone circle stood proud and not quite abandoned on a grassy plain in Wiltshire, showing no evidence of the momentous magical event which had taken place there just a few days before... not visibly, anyway. Stonehenge looked as it generally did, but for one curious detail.

    The fact that it was ‘quite nearly’ abandoned.

    Having any visitors at all was a decidedly unusual condition for the landmark in rainy, nighttime conditions. Very few were so desperate to see the ancient stones that they would brave such weather at night. It wasn’t like the things were going anywhere, after all.

    Nonetheless, a lone figure surefootedly picked its way among the standing stones. Tall and rail-thin, it wore a double-breasted coat made of dark-colored leather, it’s full length shedding the rain quite admirably. Boots and a wide-brimmed hat completed the ensemble, warding off the weather and plunging the figure’s face into impenetrable shadow.

    The shadowy figure paused as it drew near one of the stones, reaching out to touch a particularly rough spot on its surface curiously. Heat-spalled stone flaked off with the gentle touch and stuck to the figure’s pale rain-wet hand.

    A sharp shake dislodged the stone flakes before the hand withdrew, only to turn palm up and have a light flash into existence above it.

    The sudden light illuminated a face painted a stark chalky white. The now-revealed man’s harshly angular face was not softened by the pair of long crimson diamonds painted over its eyes, and his vividly green eyes focused intently on the standing stone before him.

    “Hmm…” the man hummed quietly, barely audible over the dull hiss of the rain.

    Turning to examine the rest of the newly illuminated area, alert green eyes quickly latched onto a few seemingly innocuous depressions in the thick grass, carefully noting their placement and spacing. The man tilted his head forward, revealing a crimson-dyed ponytail peeking out from under his hat. As he scanned the grass carefully, his eyes suddenly widened.

    He took two long steps then kneeled to examine a tiny burn mark on a patch of grass. Unmindful of the wet, he brought his conjured light low and searched carefully through the wet grass until he found a tiny, unassuming pebble in the mud at the base of a charred grass stem. Picking it up gingerly, the oddly made-up man straightened to his full height and examined the miniscule thing closely before rubbing it between his thumb and forefinger. It left a streak of reddish brown.


    Green eyes closed in thoughtful consideration as he allowed the conjured light to gutter out. Eventually, the man sighed, pocketing the tiny bit of heavily rusted iron as he walked calmly back towards the nearby road.

    “Well, it seems someone is up early.”

    3.14.6 Welcome visitors

    A silvery dragon the size of a small airliner settled in for a gentle landing, his nearly five hundred tons of bulk touching down on stone with barely a thump to mark the occasion. Harry smoothly leaned forward, brought his wings down to support himself and crouched to bring his torso even closer to the ground to ease his passengers’ disembarkation. Said passengers wasted no time in taking advantage of the courtesy, quickly unclipping themselves from his carry harness.

    “That hasn’t gotten any easier,” Tony Granger remarked as he staggered over to brace himself against the nearest stone wall.

    Flying on a massive dragon was not exactly the dentist’s cup of tea. Airplanes were bad enough, but at least they had the benefit of being enclosed. Flying exposed to the open air, the ground racing by hundreds of feet below with nothing but empty air between him and it, was a hair-raising experience to Tony’s mind. It had been bad enough the previous year when he had been cradled in the dragon’s great forepaw; dangling from a leather five-point harness strapped to the dragon’s side was far worse. Every lurch made him wonder when the leather was going to snap and send him plummeting to his death.

    It made him wonder why he kept coming back for more.

    “Really?” the dragon in question asked, craning his neck about to shoot his erstwhile passengers a concerned look. “I thought I’d gotten a lot smoother with all the flying practice with Fawkes. Was I too rough?”

    “Ah, not really, it’s just…” the dentist struggled to explain without sounding like an ingrate. His daughter’s friend had been good enough to carry him after all, and it seemed in poor taste to complain about the method. He was rather quickly saved from the task by his wife.

    “You did much better than last year, Harry,” Sharon assured their gargantuan host. “My husband just has trouble with heights, particularly when he’s out in the open — he can’t stand rollercoasters either. He even has trouble with small aircraft.”

    “Oh,” Harry frowned. “Um, I suppose I could ask Suze to lend him her portkey, but most of my professor friends say those are a lot less comfortable than flying for short distances. They spin you around kinda fast while dragging you along. It doesn’t really bother me, but then neither does flying.”

    “Don’t bother, my husband needs to learn to face his fears anyway,” Sharon chuckled at Tony’s mildly offended look. She didn’t have to phrase it like that! “Just two years ago, we were vacationing across the pond, and our flight was redirected due to weather. When he found out we were being re-routed on a smaller aircraft, Tony insisted on renting a car and driving instead! Ten hours in the car rather than…”

    Whatever else Sharon had intended to say went unsaid as she was interrupted by a bushy-haired missile in the form of her daughter. As the two Granger females engaged in a heartfelt embrace, Tony looked on warmly.

    That was the reason. As reminders went, it was a pretty solid one.

    The proud father watched the heartwarming scene for a few moments longer before turning away as his wife and daughter moved on to a quiet discussion. Tony was sure his little princess would get around to greeting him when she was ready, but privacy seemed to be the order of the day for now. A quick glance at his host showed the young dragon to have come to a similar conclusion.

    Tony made his way over to his host who, having moved his guests’ luggage deeper into the cave complex, was now in the process of removing his portion of the carry harness the Granger patriarch had been so distressed to be hanging from on the way up.

    Giving a nod to the centaur currently assisting her dragon with the procedure, Hermione’s father struck up a conversation. “So, Harry, what have you been up to recently?”

    “Huh?” the young dragon looked up in surprise at being so addressed. “Mr. Granger? I thought you’d still be over with Hermione.”

    “Sharon seems to have that well in hand for the moment,” Tony shrugged. “I thought I’d come over and keep you company in the meantime. Have you been up to anything interesting lately?”

    “Well, I guess there was that really big snake I found about a week ago,” Harry offered, pausing to contort himself with a slight grunt in order to allow his centaur damsel to release the last in a series of buckles on his harness. With the straps released, he shifted smoothly into human form right before Tony’s eyes. “That was kind of interesting, I suppose.”

    “A big snake?” the dentist prompted, wondering exactly how big a snake would have to be to prompt that sort of qualifier from a dragon of all beings.

    “Yeah,” the currently boy-shaped dragon nodded as he leaned back against the wall. “It was raiding my pantry, so I found it and killed it, then Mr. Snape helped me cut it up for meat. It’s pretty tasty! Do you wanna try some?”

    “I see,” Tony said uncertainly. “Probably not right now, I’m not really hungry at the moment.”

    “Maybe later then,” Harry shrugged amiably. “Other than that, I put together a barbecue for my new company last Friday. It was really fun!”

    “So I saw in your letter,” Tony agreed. “Sharon and I had wanted to ask about that, but it should probably wait until she’s here to participate.”

    The young dragon nodded. “That makes sense. Um, speaking of asking about stuff, I’d wanted to ask about something too.”

    “Oh?” Tony prompted.

    “Well, last year, Mrs. Granger gave me a little model thingy she called a nativity scene, and she said there was a really important story behind it, but she never got around to explaining it. I kinda wanted to ask what it was about.”

    Tony arched a brow in surprise at that. “You’ve never heard of a nativity scene before?”

    Harry shook his head in the negative.

    “Well, it’s a depiction of the birth of Jesus Christ,” the dentist began, a bit nonplussed that a boy Harry’s age raised in an ostensibly Christian nation didn’t know this already. “I mean, it’s the main reason for the holiday — it’s why it’s called Christ-mas, you know.”

    “I guess that makes sense,” the young, currently human-shaped, dragon allowed. “Why didn’t any of the professors tell me about it, though? We’ve celebrated Christmas four times now, and no one said anything.”

    “Maybe they assumed you knew already?” Tony offered. “Didn’t your aunt and uncle tell you about it?”

    Harry shook his head in the negative.

    “Odd,” the dentist shook his head at the idea. “Well, I know Sharon will be happy to tell the story whenever she finishes up with Hermione, and she’ll do a better job of it than me.” He paused as a thought occurred to him. “Say, Harry, what do you know about the other Christmas-time traditions?”

    “Well, I know you give people gifts, and I know you decorate trees,” the young dragon stated.

    After it became apparent that he wasn’t going to elaborate further, Tony confirmed, “That’s all? Nothing about Santa Claus or anything?”

    Harry shook his head.

    “Well, I can’t let that stand, now can I?” the dentist nodded emphatically, immediately walking over to his luggage and rummaging around looking for a certain something he had remembered to bring this year. “You see…”

    It was as far as he got before he was interrupted in turn by his bushy-haired daughter. It seemed Hermione had finished with her mother for the time being and was now intent on catching up on her delinquent quota of fatherly attention. As he settled down to the welcome task, Tony vaguely registered his wife stepping in to take up the conversation with Harry. That was good, Sharon would be able handle things.

    For now, his daughter needed him.

    3.14.7 Up on the rooftop

    It was a snowy Christmas Eve in the Scottish Highlands, the light of the moon completely hidden by the thick storm clouds, and it was precisely the sort of evening that made one long for solid roof over one’s head, a warm blanket for one’s lap, and a roaring fire at one’s feet. So, with nothing more pressing to do for once, Albus Dumbledore had arranged for just that.

    The elderly wizard had chosen to while away the chill of the evening in the sitting area of the Headmaster’s suite, seated in his favorite high-backed chair wearing his pajamas — a rather subdued number by the standards of his wardrobe, midnight blue with animated shooting stars periodically streaking across the fabric — with a roaring fire at his stockinged feet. The hour was late, and even the other staff had long since retired for the evening in anticipation of the next day’s festivities. The Headmaster was therefore quite startled when he heard a loud rap on the pitch-black eighth-story window behind him.

    A quick flex of will brought his wand to hand before he even had time to blink, and the elderly wizard conjured a light as he rose and walked cautiously towards the window, only to bite back a decidedly ungentlemanly curse as the light revealed a green eye larger than his head peering through the glass. It-was so unexpected that it actually took the man a moment to recognize the rather familiar organ. As he drew closer to the window, other features became more readily apparent to his startled eye — perhaps the most notable being a fuzzy red triangle hanging down beside that great green eye, its bottom extremity capped in an even fuzzier white ball slightly larger than Albus’ favorite armchair.

    “Mr. Potter?” he asked curiously as he opened his window letting in a swirl of snow. “Whyever are you out there?”

    “Hi, Mr. Dumbledore! Merry Christmas!” the young dragon greeted him with a sunny cheer that was quite jarring for the late hour. “I’m here to bring you your Christmas gift,” he explained, raising one massive forepaw to brandish a package wrapped in brown paper and tied with unbleached twine. It would have looked quite traditional, were it not more than thrice Albus’ size. “I already took some to Suze’s family, and I’ve got a bunch more for the rest of the professors, too.”

    At that claim, Albus looked down to see a collection of similarly wrapped — and proportioned — packages securely attached to a harness on the dragon’s body. He also noted the grasp of Harry’s claws on the stonework of the tower and resolved to order a maintenance check done in the near future.

    “I see,” Albus said neutrally. “I thank you for the gift, but I feel the need to ask why you didn’t send the packages with the house elves.”

    “Well, the packages are kinda heavy, so I felt a bit bad about making Frizzy carry them all. Since it was dark enough that I didn’t think I had to worry about anyone seeing me, I decided to deliver them myself,” Harry explained. “Plus, Mr. Granger told me about the Santa Claus thing a couple days ago, and I was kinda looking for something to do, and this seemed like a fun idea!”

    Albus nodded agreeably, “Fair enough.” A quick exchange followed, with the headmaster graciously accepting the gift using a levitation charm. “And a Merry Christmas to you as well, Mr. Potter; though I am afraid you will have to wait until tomorrow to receive your gift from me, located as it is under the tree in the Great Hall.”

    The dragon waved off the apology. “It’s not a problem, I just knew these would be kind of inconvenient. Um, by the way, you shouldn’t let it sit for too long — the cooling runes on the paper only hold about a day’s charge.”

    “I will be certain to keep that in mind,” the elderly wizard assured his student.

    “Um,” Harry began, “if it’s not too much trouble, I’m pretty sure I know where all the professors’ quarters are from the outside, but do you know a way to get Mr. Snape’s present to him? I don’t think he has a window.”

    “I would be pleased to deliver it for you, Mr. Potter,” Albus offered quickly, half afraid that the resident dragon’s alternative solution might include excavating a new window for his potions professor.

    “Thanks!” the dragon beamed.

    “And, before you go,” Albus interjected before his visitor could leave, “I must compliment you on your rather fetching hat.”

    Harry smiled even more broadly, tossing his head gently and setting the floppy red-and-white furred stocking cap to bouncing. “Isn’t it great? Mr. Granger had one that he let me look at, and I transfigured one in my size! It was a whole lot easier than those fiddly little bits Mrs. McGonagall always has us working with in class, and Suze said she’d make a properly real one for me sometime before next year! Um, anyway, I’ve got more presents to deliver, so I’d better get going.” And without waiting for a response from his somewhat overwhelmed Headmaster, the great dragon was gone, a final call of “Merry Christmas!” sounding through the snowy night.

    Albus shook his head, closing the window against the cold and snow then marveling at the two colossal packages taking up a good chunk of his sitting room.

    Life had surely become more interesting in the years since Mr. Potter’s arrival.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
  27. stads

    stads I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Nov 20, 2018
    Likes Received:
    nice chapter thx for writing it
    will be interesting to see if he where to visit the granger home and notice the magic being cast there but those wanting to kidnap hermoine
    yay for santa dragon
    ThinkingSlowly likes this.
  28. Asheram

    Asheram Know what you're doing yet?

    Jun 29, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Would those big packages be large chunks of basilisk? He better have that meat cured or in a preservation spell.
    ThinkingSlowly and Ame like this.
  29. Happerry

    Happerry The Song to the Flame

    Feb 20, 2013
    Likes Received:
    I'm a little suprised the writer's namesake didn't do another 'what was that noise' scene, but eh.

    Also, on another note, was this forgotten? I think it was a holdover from the last version of the story, but unless I've lost track of time shouldn't this have happened/be happening soon? It was said in the first year, and we're in the second year now.
    ThinkingSlowly and Ame like this.
  30. wichajster

    wichajster Away

    Aug 22, 2017
    Likes Received:
    "you shouldn’t let it sit for too long — the cooling runes on the paper only hold about a day’s charge.”"
    ThinkingSlowly and Asheram like this.