Trapped and Not Alone.
"In other news," the radio spouted, "there was a dragon spotted in Cumnock, Scotland today. We have confirmed the sighting of the dragon, and she's a big 'un, folks, and she's angry and more than willing to eat people. So if you live near there, you might want to stay inside for the day. The Species Department said they weren't sure if she was roaming or nesting, they've sent an investigator but he hasn't returned. In related news, the Species department wanted to hear from any Tamers on the island at the moment, just in case you know," the announcer finished with a small smile. "Now onto the Ag report. Chickens today are worth a galleon, seven sickles alive; a galleon, forty sickles if killed and plucked."
Xander reached over to turn off the radio. "Ron, you might want to warn Charlie."
"On it," he agreed. "Are we going to get called for that?"
"Hopefully not. I only do unliving things, not living things." He flicked a hand. "Go call Charlie then go play, Ron. You're going to be working your ass off soon enough."
"Sure, Alex." He grinned and went to use the floo in the study to call his mother's house, then decided to pop over for a bit. "Hi, Mum."
"Hi, Ron." She gave him a hug. "Still preparing for that city?"
"Yup, sure am. I came over to see Charlie. Species put out a note on the radio they wanted all the tamers locally to check in. There's a dragon up in Cumnock."
"Wonderful," she agreed dryly. "Bad?"
"They haven't heard back from their investigator yet."
"Then it's probably bad," Charlie agreed as he walked in. "Who called?"
"Species. It was on the radio."
"Fine. I'll go ahead and call them then we can play in the backyard with the brooms," he said happily.
"Sure, I'm good with that," Ron said happily. "Alex said we could bring our brooms with us, it's so far out in the middle of nowhere no one'd see us."
"Even better," Charlie agreed, going to call the Ministry. He tossed in some floo powder. "Ministry of Magic, Species department." A pretty young woman's head spun into the fire. "You wanted us to check in?"
"We were hoping one of you was nearby," she said with a small pout. "Did someone tell you about that rogue dragon? It's already eaten our investigator and the student who called it in because she went back to look it over. None of our people want her and it's a very pretty girl, Charlie."
"Where?" he sighed.
"Wonderful. In heat or nesting?"
"We're not sure. We never heard back from the investigator at all."
"Fine," he complained. "No more during my vacation."
"If we'd had anyone else since we started to put out the broadcast I'd send them instead," she vowed. "It's not fair to you."
"No, but it does get him out of Mum's hair for a bit," Ron said with a grin. "Want help, Charlie?"
"Sure, why not," he agreed dryly. "I'm sure you've learned *something* from Alex by now."
"Actually I've learned a lot and so has Dawn by taking care of Keelian."
"How is the little darling?" the species person asked.
"Curled up on her bed like he owns it," he said dryly. "He still purrs and stretches but he's been snapping at the owls so Dawn's been puppy training him not to eat the other pets or the house elves."
"We'll teach Hagrid how to set him up his own private house," she offered. "It sounds like it's about time for him to start out on his own." She winked at Charlie. "Think you could test Dawn, see if she'd like to change fields? She does very well with that baby dragon."
"Sure, why not," he agreed, smirking at her. "Fine. Ron, get your woman and we'll go," he said patiently. Ron bounced off, going to get his stuff while Charlie hung up and went to put on real clothes he could work in. "Mum, I've got to rescue the dragon from indigestion, before she eats the rest of that town," he called as he went up to his room.
"That's fine, Charlie, I'll save you some dinner if you're not back in time." She smiled and tidied up the small mess the boys has already made, then went back to her last few duties of the day. Then she could sit down and read until they got back.
Dawn looked at the cave, then at Charlie. "Are you sure she's in there?" she asked quietly.
He poked his head in and sniffed. "Yeah, she's in there and she's laying eggs," he said grimly. He pulled them back while he reported. He turned to look at them once they had their orders. "All right, for now we're to contain. Species will be up to tag her and move her in a bit."
Ron nodded, glancing inside the nest. Even he could feel the jewels in there. He looked at Charlie who scowled. "Just thinking."
"No, Ron," Charlie told him. "Nests are not what you want to deal with."
"I had no intention of it, but after she's moved we should go in and search the area for any hidden spots. You never know what you'll find."
"Yeah, but won't Alex be upset?" Dawn asked.
Ron snorted and shook his head. "Only if we pulled him out of the workroom or study today. I'm more than good enough to find hidden spots, it's what I'm really good at. That and money. Harry gets jewels and power and dead things, but I get the hidden stuff and the spending stuff," he teased.
"I don't have an affinity."
"You can sense power," Charlie assured her. "You look up each time Bill, Dumbledore, Snape, McGonagall, or I walk into a room." He patted her on the back. "Relax, you've got time."
"I know," she sighed. "It still sucks that I'm surrounded by younger people all day."
They all looked up at the rumbling noise, then at each other before running to hide. She caught them anyway, knocking Charlie out as she drug them into her nest. Ron guarded the front while Dawn looked Charlie over. "Dawn, to my left and back about ten feet is a hidden alcove. Drag him back into there," he ordered quietly. She nodded, pulling Charlie with her. She knew you didn't use magic around dragons unless you wanted their attention. Ron backed up and ran once he was in the shadows, getting gouged by a reaching claw, but he would be fine. Once they were safely hidden he looked down at the back of his leg, frowning at the open spot. "That's gonna be nasty to heal in the desert."
"Here, let me," Dawn offered, creating a bandage and wrapping it around his leg. "That should hold it," she offered once it was tied in place. She grinned up at him and he smiled back, but more weakly. "Can you feel any more hidden areas?" she asked quietly.
"There's a bunch of them around the opening but we'd have to leave here, sneak out, go from spot to spot, then make a dash for the doorway."
She shook her head. "That's not safe. We can wait until she takes a nap or goes out to hunt."
"Love, she's in labor, she's not going anywhere for a while," he said patiently. "Even if she's laid all her eggs, she won't be moving for a bit. She'll have to sit on them for months."
She sighed. "How long?"
"If you're lucky, we'll get you back by Tuesday." She snorted, she was on a weekend pass for some training time, and some snuggling time since Xander wasn't that mean. "I'm not kidding, Dawn."
"Shoot. Oh, well, I guess I'm missing that Potions test. Think he'll allow me a makeup for this?"
"Snape doesn't allow anyone to take make up tests. Not even his own house," he said dryly, smirking at her. "Though you've probably got the most original excuse this year."
"Yeah, no one can doubt I could have made it." She glanced outside and saw a big eye. She squeaked and pointed.
Ron looked out and waved. "Hi, how are you?" he asked with a grin. "You know, he was going to move you to somewhere more private with a better source of food. Unfortunately you knocked him out." She steamed at them and he choked on the fumes. "Eww. You need a toothbrush worse than Hermione's cat. Go sit on your eggs. It's not like we can escape." Charlie groaned and Ron kicked him gently on the shoulder. "You up yet? We're rather trapped, but fortunately she's watching."
Charlie sat up, holding his head. "What happened?"
"A big rock that she swatted you into," Dawn told him, moving his hand to look at his head again. "You should be fine soon, Charlie," she soothed.
"Do that when you have kids, Dawn," he complained as he stood up. He looked around the small cavern they were in, then at Ron. "Where's the dragon?" He pointed and Charlie looked, seeing the eye. "Well, you're bigger than most of mine," he said, staring her down. She blew more steam at him, making him cough. "You can't do that. I need ta take you somewhere more healthy for you. With much more food." She blew hotter steam this time, making them all back up. "Fine." He looked at his helpers. "Now what?"
"We wait?" Ron suggested.
"No defensive spells?"
"That won't piss her off more? We could stun her I guess, or even do that neat thing where you float her up and make her cling to the ceiling."
"She's too big for that one," Charlie admitted. "Stunning would probably take six or seven of us."
"Should we build a fire and floo someone?" Dawn suggested.
"It's not that easy," Charlie warned. "I'm out of emergency floo powder."
"Okay, so we do what?" Dawn asked. "We can't just wait in here. There's no bathroom."
"Welcome to the field," Ron and Charlie said in unison.
Ron beamed at her. "I'd offer to dig you a latrine but you'd probably get pissed at me." She nodded, giving him an impatient look. "Well, we can't do much else until she wanders off, Dawn. Unless you know a shrinking spell that'll work on a dragon in labor?"
"No," she pouted. "It's not supposed to be this hard. Willow would be able to do something."
"Yeah, kill her," Ron snorted.
"Enough, children," Charlie said impatiently. "No more fighting. You sound like a married couple already and it's making me sick."
"Sorry," Ron said but he was grinning. "You know, some people are against making portable floo devices. I'm wondering if Dad still is."
"I've been in worst spots," Charlie assured him. "I've always gotten out before."
"Yeah, but then you had a whole team behind you and knowing where you were," Dawn pointed out. "They don't know we haven't been eaten." She leaned against one wall, crossing her arms and thinking hard. "I wish we could use something, like say a tattoo?"
Ron grinned. "Brilliant, that's why I love you," he said with a wink. He touched his arm and got nothing. "Is it possible for her to shield this place?" he asked finally.
"Yeah, dragons laying a nest often shield the eggs from things like that," Charlie said grimly.
Ron closed his eyes and thought really hard at Tipsy, who was still a bit open. The message basically said 'trapped, not eaten, come save, please, before we go insane' and made her jump up from her nap. He added a hasty 'thank you, this was Ron, Dawn, and Charlie' then opened his eyes. "I'm hoping I reached Tipsy."
"Hopefully," Dawn agreed.
Charlie sat down. "It's going to be a long wait, kids, you might as well sit." They slid down their walls. "So, how's school going, Dawn?"
She giggled. "If I miss Monday, I'll be missing a Potions test."
"Wonderful. Doing okay in there otherwise?"
"Only on the more practical things. I suck at potions."
Ron snickered. "You're getting your birth control and your skin stuff right, that's all that's really important." She nodded. Charlie rolled his eyes. "She used to screw it up."
Dawn sighed. "Ron!"
"You're still buying yours, right?" Charlie asked. Ron nodded quickly. "That's good then. How's everything else going? How's McGonagall?"
Xander stared at the goblin in his fireplace. "I don't deal with nests. I've never dealt with nests. I don't take from the living, I only learn and borrow from the dead," he said patiently. Tipsy came rolling out, looking panicked. "Something wrong with the kids?"
"Ron's in trouble." He dropped his book at that and leaned forward to pull her down onto the coffee table in front of him. "I heard him. He's in trouble, he said something about eating, not Charlie or Dawn, and to save him. I couldn't get him. It was really fuzzy, Alex."
"That's fine." He looked at the goblin. "Was he with Charlie at that dragon you wanted me to go steal from?" He nodded. "Wonderful. Any other tamers?" The goblin shook his head. "Then you get me a tamer and I'll go for them. Until then, I can't fight a dragon!" The goblin disappeared and he looked at Tipsy again. "Okay, again, more coherently."
"That's all I got, Alex, I swear. It was fuzzy, like it was being blocked. Didn't you hear him?"
"No," Xander said grimly. He touched his arm, concentrating. "I can't hear him at all." He stroked her cheek. "Calm down. They won't get hurt."
"They can be! The dragon's already two people!"
"If she's blocking it, she's nesting, Tipsy," he said calmly. "She'll play with them first." She nodded, calming herself down. He looked over as the fire sparked back up, this time with a perky blond he had met recently. "Hey. Got any tamers? She got a message from Ron saying that they were trapped."
"Wonderful. No others have come forward, Mr. Dumass. I don't know what to tell you."
Xander nodded, thinking fast. "I'm not able to take on a dragon. I'm realistic. I can go up there and check it out but I'm not being eaten today." He nodded quickly. "I might be able to drag her out to distract her but you're still going to need a tamer." The man nodded again. "Find one, even some of his coworkers."
"I hadn't thought of that," he said quickly, disappearing.
Xander looked at Tipsy. "Okay, go tell Molly that I'm handling it, but it's going to be a while. She might not want to make supper for a bit." She nodded, going to do that. Xander stood up with a stretch once he was alone. "Fuck!" he said firmly, going up to change clothes. He was in lounging pajamas. He couldn't go taunt a dragon in those. He found Draco taking a nap and spanked him hard to wake him up. "They're trapped by that dragon."
"What dragon?" he asked, sitting up to yawn and rub his eyes. "Who's trapped."
"Ron, Dawn, and Charlie apparently." He took off his lounging pajamas and changed into his usual jeans/t-shirt/over-shirt/boots/jacket outfit and grabbed his favorite axe as he walked out. "Get dressed, Draco. It's time to go."
"Coming. Give me ten minutes to shower first," he called after him. He hurried to change and get dressed. This was going to give him taunting material for years.
Xander looked at the entrance to the cave, letting out a piercing whistle. "Yo, big smelly creature. Tasty people out here! Come get me!" No answer and no dragon. "Ron? Charlie, Dawn?"
"Living," Dawn yelled back. "She's still watching us. She clawed the back of Ron's leg and Charlie's got a headache."
"Fine." Xander pulled his wand and glanced around before shooting a spell at the cave's entrance, getting an enraged bellow from the dragon for setting the hay part of her nest on fire. She stormed out and started to pull in a breath so he created a containment bubble around her head. She broke it against the rocks, but unfortunately didn't knock herself out. He ducked as she swiped at him, running for some nearby rocks. She went back inside. "Damn it!"
"We're in a bigger cave and closer to the door," Dawn called.
Draco appeared, frowning at his mate where he was hiding. "What's wrong? Is it a scary one?"
"She's a bit pissed. I toasted the hay part of her nest, I'd run now," he told Draco when he heard the stomping. Draco ran over to hide with him. "Good job. Nice outfit. Isn't that my shirt?"
Draco nodded. "It was clean and fit me well enough. Potter?"
"No, Harry's got his last game today."
"Shoot, this seems like something Potter would be part of. Usually he'd be in there with Weasley."
"Both Weasleys and Dawn," Xander corrected. He came out from behind the rock and peeked inside the cave, not expecting the paw to slap him into the opposite wall. He slid down the wall without another noise. Fortunately, Draco knew how to float people out of the way of harm. Draco also knew how to get him to the hospital and call for the Ministry to handle the idiots of the universe.
Ron looked over as Dawn pouted. They hadn't heard from Xander in a while, even when they had yelled. "He wouldn't have given up."
"He pissed her off, she probably swatted him and Draco took him off," Charlie said tiredly. He yawned. "At least this one's bigger. We can nap in here."
"I'll wake you up if you nap for too long," Dawn promised. He gave her an odd look. "Concussion?" she suggested dryly.
"Point," he agreed. He shrugged and snuggled in against the wall he was leaning on, closing his eyes once his arms were over his chest. "Wake me if she leaves."
"Sure," Ron agreed, going to the opening to watch their hostess settle in and lay another egg. He glanced around the main cavern to see if there was anything they could use. He felt someone move up behind him. "What?" he asked quietly.
"Anything we can use to get out of here?" she asked quietly, stroking his back.
"No, not yet. Not unless we need to be very mean." He smiled at her. "Try to call Xander's axe. I can feel the stupid thing. It's got that pretty stone in the head."
She pulled her wand. "Accio Xander's axe." It came flying but the dragon swatted it against a wall. "He'll beat us for that."
Ron snorted and pulled his wand. "Wingardium Leviosa," he cast, floating it barely above the ground to bring it in to them. The dragon saw it and stepped on it. Then the dragon glared at them. "Oh, quit," he said, letting the axe go. He zapped her instead. The dragon yelped and let go of the axe so Dawn called it in. "Thanks, that's one thing." The dragon let out a bellow as another egg came, then she looked it over, patting it and turning it around to make sure it was fine. Ron looked at the axe, seeing the small dent in it. He set it down and stood on it to bend it back into place. It was better but still not perfect. It was still a useable weapon. He leaned it against the wall, then got up to annoy her some more. He saw a large sapphire and a large emerald nearby, floating them into the cave. The dragon tried to snatch one but missed. Ron smirked at her. "That's what you get for having us trapped in here." He pulled Dawn back and held them. "Okay, let's go back over that gem lecture. We can always toss them back at her."
She nodded, taking the emerald to look it over. "It's got a crack."
"A flaw?" Ron asked, taking it to look over. "It's got six of them. Point them out." She nodded, using her wand tip to point at them. She got five. "Nearly. The last is on the top if it matters."
She found it and grinned, running a finger across it. "There."
"Good job. Now test it for magic taint. Remember, the flaws can hide magic." She nodded casting the spell carefully. He caught the tip of her wand, shaking his head. "No?"
"No. You said the last two words wrong, you were doing a transform spell. I didn't want to deal with a small dragon in here since it had been under a dragon for so long." She nodded, so he released her wand and started again. He scowled so she sighed and shook her head, handing it back. "Okay, watch me," he said, casting it slowly and carefully. He made sure he pronounced each word carefully for her benefit. She nodded, looking at the glow. "What do you see?"
"A curse," she said happily. "In that main flaw. It was sloppily spell cleaned."
"Good job," Charlie said sarcastically. "She'll try for us as long as you have those."
"I'll throw them at her in a minute. She might as well learn something while we're stranded," Ron said patiently. "Alex made me when we were captured by a demon and the few vampires it was keeping as pets." He held it up, looking at the crack. "Actually, the curse is all over, Dawn. It's just very faint. The flaw trapped the magic because it's a rough surface and not natural. It's a stress break it looks like. Wanna see, Charlie?" He shrugged and held out a hand, accepting the stone. "The green is the curse, it's not tripped, just exposed."
"What sort is it?" he asked.
"That's what I'm still working on," Ron admitted. "It looks like a disease but it's very old by the faintness."
Charlie handed it back. "Is it in the books or whatever you guys use?"
Ron shook his head. "We mostly go on legends and write our own books. I haven't seen this one yet." He held it up and smirked. "Oooh, yeah. This one was done by a very mean woman. It's got female and blood spots on it. So it'll make her feel worse during womanly times if I'm interpreting right." He let Dawn see it. "Can you tell?"
She did what she had been doing, and he turned it around for her. "Oh, there's the blood." She looked at the small symbols and smirked. "It's a PMS curse."
"Wonderful," Charlie said dryly. "At least I won't be bothered by that one." He shifted some. "What about the other one?" Ron picked up the sapphire and cast the reveal charm, then quickly tossed it back at the dragon. "What was it?"
"A real disease curse with fever and death," he said grimly. "I'm not taking the chance that she can activate it." He looked around and found another few weapons and some armor, calling them in. "Okay, now check them and do the cleaning spell once you've figured out what curses are on them."
Dawn sighed but got to her knees to move over to them and look them over. She carefully cast the reveal charm and found the sword to be charmed, but the armor was normal. "Can we use these, Ron?"
"No," he snorted. "A tin can isn't proof against something that big. Maybe something half her size, but not at her size."
"The chest plate's got a hole in it anyway," Charlie pointed out.
"Plus it's pretty thin," Ron offered. He picked up a helmet and looked it over. He took out the skull and tossed it back into the other room, then handed it to Charlie. "For your head." Charlie glared at him so he beamed. "You're the one who got hit on it."
"Fine," he said, putting it beside him. Maybe he'd figure out a way to use it as a distraction. He heard a crunch and looked out again. "That wasn't nice. I'm sure his family would've wanted his head, dear." The dragon snorted at him, then sniffled a few times.
"My leg's not," Ron told him. "It's clotted. Dawn?"
"Due any day now but not today," she offered, looking at the next piece of armor in line. "This one's got a charm for location."
"People know where we are," Ron reminded her, thinking about it. "Hey, Charlie, can we do a trojan horse in reverse? Make one run?"
Charlie considered it, then nodded. "Possibly. It might not last long and she'd have to be back on her nest." That got another steam, making them choke. "Is there a bigger cave?"
"Yeah, about two to the right, but that takes us farther from the door," Ron said, feelng around for more empty spots in the walls. "Or on the other side of the cavern. There's one that's got a few split off areas, like rooms."
"Any chance of an exit?"
"Well, we could *blast* our way out," Ron said dryly. "Unfortunately I don't know how Harry does his doorway thing since he does it in snake."
"Doorway thing?" Charlie asked.
"Snape found it and taught it to him. He can outline a doorway shaped space and explode only the things inside the doorway. We used it when we had to retrieve Philip in the woods."
"Oh." He considered it. "You don't know what it is in human?"
"No. I know he draws with his wand, then with some blood, then he marks a big 'x' in the center of the doorway and hisses." He shrugged. "Not that helpful. He's at his last game"
"That does give us a few options. You guys know some destructive stuff?" Charlie asked. Ron and Dawn both nodded. "If we collapsed part of the back of the cave...."
"She'll kill us. We'd have to be out there to do it," Ron told him. Charlie groaned as he shifted positions. "Besides, I'd have to find the exact spot. Otherwise I could bring it down on all of us."
"Point," Charlie agreed quietly. "You're good at offensive stuff, Ron, any other ideas?"
"Distraction so we can move," Ron admitted. "That sword, what's it charmed with?" he asked, looking at his fiance.
"It looks like a lightening charm and something to make it stick in your hands so you can't drop it during battle." He held out a hand so she handed it over, letting his more experienced eye look it over.
"It's got a piercing one too," Ron said thoughtfully. He looked outside, then at Charlie. "Will you still like me if I have to do something really mean to get us out of here, as long as I don't kill her or the majority of the nest?"
Charlie considered it. "Only if you pick the smallest egg," he admitted.
"Sure," Ron agreed. "If it comes down to it." He looked at the rest of the armor. "Clean that location charm, Dawn."
"His family probably put it on there."
"Then his family probably knew where he died already," Ron pointed out. "It's older armor, dear." She sighed and cleaned that off, then sent it back out to the main room. He felt a shiver of magic flowing around them and concentrated on it. Then it suddenly broke. "Well, we had some notice, but they gave up after a moment." He stood up and looked out their hole, watching the dragon check her nest. "Charlie, how would you do the distraction?"
"Probably not too hard," he admitted. "A running, furry something that would be food." He looked at the helmet beside him. "That's not that big or that heavy so maybe something like a small goat? We use a lot of those on the preserve." He stood up to look out there too. "Where's the one across the way?" Ron pointed at the dark slit. "It's fairly narrow."
"Behind that is something really nice, but it's going to be a tight fit," Ron agreed. "If we can't get out then we'll have to try. We can blast a few inches of wall if we need to. That shouldn't bring down the roof if we shave some off."
"Then we'll let you go first. If you won't fit, then Dawn's chest won't and neither will my gut," Charlie said, clapping him on the back. "Whenever you're ready, Ron."
"Sure." Ron looked at the helmet, then at him. "I suck at transfiguration."
"Fine." Charlie changed the helmet into a baby goat, letting it out and giving it a shove toward the doorway. The dragon sniffed then went after it. They ran for the other cavern, Ron bringing the sword with him. It was too tight a fit, so he pulled his wand and expanded the doorway. They fell inside just as the dragon made a grab for Dawn, which made her scream. Charlie held her, letting her calm down. "You're fine, Dawn. You're safer now."
Ron looked around, then nodded. "Yeah, she is. Put her in that first room on the right. There's some old hay in there." Charlie nodded, leading her that way. Ron looked at the dragon, who was eating the baby goat. He took a look around the nest, finding something odd. "Who had a grenade launcher?" he muttered, pulling it in to look at. She tried to stop him but he smirked at her. "Yes, I'm faster. I've got big brothers who steal food." He sat down to look it over. It was still loaded. They'd keep that in mind for a wall or something. Charlie would kill him if he destroyed the dragon with it. He propped it against the wall, getting up to glance out again. He saw a human peeking in and waved at them. It drew the dragon's attention to him and the human nodded before disapparating. The dragon looked back at the 'pop' but no one was there. She got up to sniff around the entrance to her cave but she still couldn't find anyone else to eat. She plopped back down on her nest and looked around, then settled in for a nap. It was apparently going to be a very long wait.
Molly looked up as the head of Species came out of her floo, giving him an odd look. "What's happened?"
"Well, we know Ron's fine."
"Xander said Ron called Tipsy, they're only trapped." She put down her book. "No new news?"
"We went up to check on them and Ron waved at one of our people from the hidden alcove he was in. Unfortunately the dragon's nesting so it's going to be a few days probably. We can send in supplies if we have to," he assured her when she started to scowl. "We've already called Charlie's boss and he's sending someone up through the floo system in Europe, then he'll apparate over here and we'll take him up there. For right now, we've got to wait."
"Why are you more panicked than I am? I'm their mother."
"We figured you'd be in a hysterical panic by now," he admitted. "Alex is fine as well by the way."
"He was injured?"
"We sent him to see if he could help. His mate barely got him out of there after the dragon slapped him into a wall."
"Could you use Harry?" she suggested.
"No, we can't risk Mr. Potter. His coaches made that very clear when we called them to give him an update. They said he could only be killed during a game until his contract wore out." She chuckled a bit at that. "As far as we know, they're still fine. We'll send people in to rescue them as soon as we can. For now though, we've got to wait. Want to come back and wait in Arthur's office?"
"Oh, no, dear. It's terribly cramped you know." She picked up her book and a glass of milk. "I'll be here. My boys are very creative and Ron's a good one at strategy, they'll be fine. Alex is teaching Ron to be just like him after all."
The head of Species grinned. "Thank you for being so understanding, Molly."
"Don't worry, I'm leaving the complaining to Charlie. He was supposed to go back tomorrow you know." She smiled and he shivered. "So do have fun with him."
"Fine. Leave me to the lions. Do ya think that if I went up there and got hurt he'd take it easy on me?" She shook her head with a smirk. "Fine. Thanks, Molly. We'll call once we know further or with updates." He headed for the floo and went back to work, hoping for that tamer to be in finally. It'd been a few hours. Didn't they like Charlie enough to hurry up to save him?
"Charlie, you alive mate?" a male voice called.
Ron went back to the entry of their hiding spot. "Yeah, we're all fine but he's napping with Dawn at the moment," he called back.
"His little brother. Who else would you expect to be in here with him and my fiance?"
"Oh, hey Ron. You all good so far?"
"I've got a gore on the back of my leg, Charlie's got a bump on his head. The cave's shielded."
"I noticed. I've got some travel rations if you want them."
"Please. Got water too?"
"Sure. How's the best way to get it in to you?"
"Distract her with something else to pounce," Ron said wisely. He floated up a stone, making the mother dragon shriek and lunge at it, so the pack floated in without notice. He let it go and dragged the pack inside. "Thanks, man, I got it. Is there anything else? Blankets maybe?"
"Nah, I didn't think about it. You sure you're all right?"
"Yup, just fine. Even though Charlie won't let me jump my girl for more than a hug."
"Ron!" Dawn shouted.
The man outside laughed. "Good on you, Ron, sounds like she's a feisty one, like the momma in here. Any ideas yet?"
"Short of an egg sacrifice? Nope, not yet. If the shields were down, we could apparate out," he offered.
"Wish I could, Ron, but not likely."
"I know," he groaned. "I'd disappear, mate, she's getting riled up." He heard a pop and withdrew, bringing the pack with him. He sat down to look at the supplies. "We've got energy bars, water, a few pain killing potions, and floo powder," he called. He pulled to something on the bottom and gave it an odd look. "Plus baby wipes for some reason."
"Good toilet paper," Charlie said as he came out. "Was it one of the guys I work with?" Ron shrugged. "Didn't see him?"
"Nope, he was more than smart enough not to stand in the doorway." He held up an energy bar, but Dawn snatched it and sat down to nibble. "Sorry, Dawn. If I had known it'd be this way I wouldn't have suggested you come. Then you could be studying for your potions test tomorrow morning."
"I'd rather be here," she noted, taking another bite. "Water?" He handed over one of the water skins. "How many of these do we have?"
"Wonderful." She took a little sip and carefully closed it again. "Any new ideas?"
"Not yet. He more wanted a status report." He grinned at her, then at Charlie. "You're sure I can't do more than cuddle her?"
"Very. I don't need to hear that and I doubt the mother dragon would like it very much." Some steam floated in. "Oh, quit!" he called. "Nasty bitch."
"Charlie!" Dawn complained.
"Her, not you! She's earned it," he assured her.
"I agree," Ron offered. "She is." He unwrapped a bar and started to nibble, then grimaced. "Eww. What are these?"
"It's the only food we've got, Ron. Eat," Charlie ordered.
"Sure." He took larger bites so he wouldn't be tortured for so long, then drank some of his water, retreating to a wall to sit and think. "We'll either need an external distraction or we'll need to do something like hold her nest hostage to get out," he decided. "Once we're out of sight, we'd better be ready to run like hell, no matter which way it goes." They nodded. "Any other bright ideas, Charlie?"
"No, those are the only ones I see, Ron. We'll figure it out tonight." Ron nodded. "Where is she?"
"She was on her nest."
Charlie got up and headed for the doorway, glancing out. "She's gone," he hissed. Ron gathered up everything and the weapons, heading out after Charlie. Charlie stuck his head out of the cave and was nearly crisped by her steam this time. She captured him and was pulling him toward her mouth when Ron threw the sword, managing to hit her on the paw and make her drop him. He was knocked back out.
"Dawn, retreat, get him!" Ron cast a stunning spell, making the dragon roar and rear up, going to her full height to pull in air for a real fire. He barely dodged it and made it back into the alcove, with the pack. She did loose the fire after him, singing his backside and his hair, but he managed to put himself out with some rolling around on the floor. "I'm tired of this shit," he decided, standing up and glancing back at himself. Only some minor singeing, nothing that couldn't be washed out hopefully. At least he didn't feel burned. He checked Charlie, shaking his head. "He's out for a good, long one. You okay?" She nodded, starting to tear up. "Don't, Dawn. After this is done, not during it." He sat down, wincing a bit. Maybe his skin was a bit singed after all. He considered it, then looked at the small pouch of floo powder that was right on top of the pack. "That's for communication only," he noted to himself. "Dawn, call Snape, tell him where you are and what's going on. Tell him you'll be back in time but we're not getting out until tomorrow."
She nodded, creating a small fire and taking a few pinches of the powder to toss in t it. "Professor Snape's quarters, Hogwarts." His head spun into the small fire. "Sir, I'm sorry to report that we're presently trapped by a dragon, Charlie's knocked out, and Ron's got his evil planning face on," she said with a sniffle. "I'm not going to be in tomorrow until late so I'm going to miss your class and test."
"You're where!" he demanded. "Weasley!"
"Behind you," Ron said dryly. He shifted and waved. "Hi, sir. Charlie wanted help, we thought we'd just be watching but then she captured us. We're safe for now, but it's not going to be before tonight to get us out of here. That's why I had her call. How's Alex's head?"
"Why would that matter?"
"He was sent right after we got captured, but we think he got knocked out," Dawn said, still sniffling a bit. Ron pinched her, giving her a long stare. "Fine, after we're free I'll cry, but then you'd better be holding, mister."
"Fine, I'm used to crying women," Ron pointed out dryly. He looked at Snape. "Can you do us a huge favor and tell the Headmaster where we are and tell Hagrid that Species has lost some people so his interview might be later than he thinks."
"Very well," he said grimly. "I am not pleased by this occurrence, Miss Summers."
"Hey, not exactly happy here either," she pointed out bitterly. "Nearly gotten eaten twice now!" she said, her voice starting to raise in pitch.
"Dawn, no hysterics either," Ron said patiently. "Not until we're free or unless you're injured." She glared at him. He stared her down. "I'm being practical. No matter how much I want to shit my pants, it'd only make it harder to move."
"While that's very...wise, Mr. Weasley, I did not need to hear that either. Why have you not contacted the others?"
"Because dragons in heat and laying a nest shied," Ron said bitterly. "I think I hit Tipsy earlier when we first got captured." He looked over but Dawn was staring out the doorway again. "Can you tell Professor Flitwick she still has some problems with the discern stuff?" he hissed. Snape nodded quickly. "Thanks. So she'll be back but it'll be later tomorrow most likely."
"Fine. I'll inform the Headmaster of her unavoidable absence." His head disappeared.
"I don't have that much trouble, Ron."
"Dawn, you nearly turned something into a baby dragon earlier," he said dryly. "For my own peace of mind, please work on that one more often?" She scowled and stomped back to take care of Charlie. "Thanks. If and when we go, you're in charge of getting him out of here. I'll have the weapon and the pack." She nodded. "Good girl. You take care of him and I'll be watching." He moved closer to the doorway, flipping off the large head trying to get in there. "Nyah!" he said, sticking out his tongue. "Stupid bitch, you need to be fucked with a unicorn's horn." The dragon snorted steam at him then went back to her nest, which Ron rearranged on her, making her shriek in outrage and work on getting her eggs perfect again. He smirked at her when she glared at him, waving cheerfully. "That's why I'm a Weasley, I'm annoying."
Snape walked into the Great Hall and up to the teacher's table, pausing in front of the Headmaster. "I've just heard from Weasley and his mate," he said bitterly.
"What's going on now?" Madam Sprout asked with a touch of irritation and fondness.
"They're apparently trapped by a dragon who's laying a nest. They're shielded, can't get out, and are working on it. She said she'd be about a day later, probably by tomorrow evening."
Dumbledore groaned and shook his head. "Cumnock?" Snape nodded. "Wonderful. Charlie took them I suppose?"
Snape nodded. "Apparently. They said he'd unconscious. Mr. Weasley was reminding her not to burst out crying at that moment. He was not being very comforting, but fairly practical for once."
"That's fine. Is she going to be allowed a makeup, Professor?" Dumbledore asked.
"No, I do not allow makeups, you know that, Headmaster." He looked at Hagrid. "He also said that the Species Department had lost a few people so you may want to check on your appointment next week."
"Thank you kindly, Professor. I'll do that tomorrow morning." He smiled at him. "Ron all right then?"
"So far. He seemed a bit...singed around the edges when he moved." He went to his own seat, sitting down calmly. He looked down as a dragon hopped into his lap. "Keelian, you are much too large for that. You are not meant to be a lap beast." He put the dragon down, earing some pouting. He glared at it and the baby steamer snorted at his ankles, which made him glare worse. "Such fits mean you should be outside." The dragon walked off, seeming to pout all the way to Madam Sprout, who loved him anyway. He was allowed to curl up in her lap and even managed some treats when she 'dropped' things into her lap.
Ron had figured out which one they'd need to use. It was her favorite one, she was always petting it. He was sorry he had to do this to her, but it was necessary if they were going to get out of here. Especially if they wanted to get out of here alive as opposed to some biological deposit she'd be laying in a few days. He looked at the axe, which wasn't his best choice. He almost wished he had thrown that one earlier. Unfortunately she had snapped the sword in her fit after she hadn't gotten them. He hefted it again. It'd do but Xander would kill him if he didn't manage to get it back. He searched the nest for another sword but he didn't see one. He did see something long and pointy but it'd be harder to use an unfamiliar weapon. Xander had at least shown him how to use his favorite weapons. He noticed she was heading outside and nodded at Dawn, grabbing the pack while she cast a 'mobilus corpus' on Charlie so they could leave. He snuck out, glancing around. She was next to the doorway, sniffing something.
He floated the egg up, dancing it with the axe as they snuck toward the entry. She saw him and let out a wailing shriek of anger. "Let us go and you can have it back. Don't and the last act I'll ever do is pierce the shell," he threatened. He had been watching her all day. She understood some of what they were saying. "Back," he said, pulling the axe down to hold while the egg still floated. He took a swing and she started to move closer so his next swing was closer. "I said back!" She backed up this time, looking very worried. "Back further!" He walked out and she continued to back up. He nodded at Dawn, handing her the pouch of powder. "Now, Dawn." She created a small fire and tossed the powder into it, getting the Species department immediately. "Come get her. I've got her trapped. Now if at all possible," he called. Someone popped in immediately and pulled his wand to cast on the thing. The mother wailed again but Ron put her egg next to her chin, unharmed and still very warm from her body heat. The dragon fell asleep fondling it. He looked at Charlie's coworker. "Hi again," he said dryly. He waved the axe. "We're going back to Alex's. Mum can come fuss at Charlie there." He waved and they apparated off.
The handler looked at the dragon, then shook his head. "Okay then. I didn't know his brother was a mean shite like that," he said, patting the dragon's side. "It's all right, love. We'll move you somewhere each and every egg is a precious and celebrated thing." He called his bosses and the Species people to come help him move her.
Ron walked into the front room, finding Xander being babied on the couch. "Call Mum, Charlie's knocked out from that wench. We had to threaten her eggs to get free." He tossed Draco the axe since Xander was lying down. "It's safe, but it bent when she tried to stop us from rescuing it."
"Fine. Thank you, Ron," Alex said quietly. "You all right? And Dawn?"
"Dawn's having her promised break-down so I'm going to comfort her. Charlie's in the kitchen on the table from the way Dawn was heading." He waved. "We'll chat later. Get better, Alex." He headed after his girl, who was sobbing at the table next to Charlie's hip. "Hey now," he soothed. "It was scary but I'm sure you've seen worse." He got her up and outside, taking her out to sit on the bench in the garden. She continued to cry but that was fine with him. It was all over with, he could almost cry in relief himself. He probably would be crying when his mother got there to baby Charlie, so he'd hold off until then. He shifted so he was sitting sideways and straddling the bench, pulling her against his chest to rest against him. She curled up against him, letting it all out. "Shh, we're safe," he whispered. "You might even make your Potions test."
She pinched him, then pouted up at him. "Hold me?"
"Of course. Aren't I?" She nodded, shifting a bit closer, basically sitting in his lap. "There's a good girl. She's fine, he's fine, we're all fine and she'll be going somewhere she's loved and wanted, where she can't eat helpless young women who turn men's mind to mush." She snorted, but it did calm her down. "You do. I look at you and my mind's oatmeal, like those stupid bars from dinner." He looked inside. "Hey, can we have some real food? All we had were some energy bars and water for dinner. That's worse than gruel or bread and water as a punishment."
One of the aunts quit checking on Charlie and went to fix them some real food. She also muttered the whole way about cocky men and curse breakers being too much to stand rationally. By the time Molly and Arthur got there, it was done so they let Arthur bring it out to check on that son.
"Thanks, Dad," Ron said with a happy grin as he dug in. "Dawn, food?" he suggested, waking her since she was in a light dose.
"No. No food." She got out from under the plate, heading inside to hug Molly and tell her what had happened. She couldn't eat until after she had done that. She ran into Xander and hugged him. "Is it always that scary?"
"Sometimes. Sometimes worse, sometimes easier," he admitted. "Another reason you're staying in school and you're going to be learning all you can from Finius." He fluffed her hair and grinned at her. "Especially that reveal spell Sev said you're getting wrong. Over breakfast we'll go back over that again. Go up to bathe and to bed." She nodded, heading up to do that. "Ron?"
"Fine. Once you're done, head back. Remember, you're going to be signing forms all day." Ron let out a groan but came in with his plate and fork, heading up to bathe and go to bed, probably with Dawn but he didn't really care as long as they were careful and she didn't complain about more than his cold feet. He grinned at Molly, who was rolling her eyes. "I got knocked out, sorry."
"Fine, Alex. You be a good boy. Or at least try." She patted him on the cheek and took her son with her. Charlie was just now starting to come around so they took him to the hospital first, and then called his boss to remind him Charlie would be a few more days late.
Xander grinned at his aunts. "Another problem out of the way," he said happily. "Roast what?"
She smacked his hand with a wooden spoon. "Sandwiches for lunch tomorrow, Alex. You should go to be too, and no playing with Draco tonight. Not with the headache you've had all night." He sighed and nodded, trudging off to tell Draco he couldn't be loved into the mattress that night. Maybe Draco could find away around that.
To Part 11