|HP: Potter's Pairs Summer Challenge Response
||[Aug. 30th, 2004|07:11 pm]
|||||I Died (Buffy Soundtrack)||]|
Okay, I could not choose between them, so I did two. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. They are a bit over the word count though. Sorry.
Title: Surprise Visitor
Pair: Sirius Black, Charlie Weasley
Warning(s): OotP spoilers, gen
Summary: Sirius Black comes back with amnesia
Author's notes: To fulfill the Potter's Pairs Summer Challenge
The arrival of a Chinese Fireball came as a surprise to the dragon tamer at the Romanian Dragon Preserve. Normally when a new dragon was being relocated to the preserve, they were given quite a bit of lead-time to arrange for a new nest. And the dragon's wranglers would send an owl a day or two before the actual relocation date. But this particular Chinese Fireball arrived in the middle of the night, with no handlers or warning. In fact, except for the odd jewel clutched in her front claws, she seemed completely wild.
The first wizard to see her was Charlie Weasley. The tall red-haired dragon handler had traded with his friends - leaving him with the lonely, and normally totally boring predawn watch, in exchange for a long weekend free to visit his family in Britain for his mother's birthday. He had found that he rather liked the week's worth of early morning shifts.
Even though most of the dragon handlers ignored what was happening in Britain, he did not. The quiet mornings gave him time to contemplate the current happenings in the wizard world and the involvement of his family. The return of the dark wizard Voldemort and the rise of Dark activity concerned him as his family was on the front lines of the conflict.
Charlie remembered the fear and terror of the last war with Voldemort - the dark wizard and his Death Eaters killing and destroying any who did not believe in the purity of the wizard race. Muggles (humans with no wizard blood in the background and no magic to protect them) had been their primary targets as well as wizard families who had married Muggles, witches and wizards that simply appeared in Muggle families (making it evident in Charlie's opinion that there had to be a connection between the two races), and anyone who tried to protect Muggles had been a target. Then Voldemort had vanished sixteen years earlier, banished and terribly wounded for trying to kill a tiny fifteen-month-old infant whose mother had died casting a protective charm over him. He remembered the rejoicing in the streets as well as he remembered the terror of the nights before that day.
Now child was a teenager, his youngest brother was one of that child's best friends. At sixteen, the two, along with their other friends, they had stood up to the strengthening Voldemort and his followers more than once. His family was rumored to be among the top targets of the rapidly escalating battles between the Ministry of Magic and the Death Eater's. And he could not argue with the fact that it was a war, not with the devastating attacks occurring on a regular basis since Voldemort's blatant return in June. Nor could anyone argue that it would soon be an all out war, not even the dragon handlers who normally tried to ignore the political wrangling in the wizard world that supported their preserve. As it was, he was mentally debating giving up his dream of a career of dragon handling (at least temporarily) to go home and be with them when he noticed the incoming Fireball.
Grabbing his broom, Chair sped after the red dragon. He could not let her disturb the other dragon's nests, it would set off a wave of angry Norwegian Ridgebacks, the primary dragon of this particular preserve, and cause untold mayhem among wizards and Muggles alike. To his surprise, he caught up to her in a remote, empty crag, moments after she settled on a nest site. She was nearly gray with exhaustion and after carefully settling her prize down she curled up around it.
Moving cautiously, Charlie flew closer, but did not dare get too close. Female dragons were notoriously territorial and they protected what they considered theirs with a ruthless viciousness that was terrifying. Curious about the large crystalline object, he pulled out a pair of wizard omnoculars. Very much like Muggle binoculars, the omnoculars had a much higher resolution, as well as magically enhanced features such as instant replay, commentaries, recording functions, and slow motion replay. Not needing most of the fancier settings, he still found the omnoculars invaluable while working with dragons. He carefully zoomed in on the crystal and nearly dropped them.
A man appeared to be entrapped within the gray-blue shell. His eyes closed, he slept unaware of his predicament. Longish, gray-tinged black hair fell to his shoulders like a roughly cut mane. Lines of weariness and suffering as well as deep laugh lines creased his face, aging him. Dark shadows stained the hollows below his eyes. But none of that kept Charlie from recognizing him.
"Sirius," he whispered in shock. He had heard that the notorious man was dead. Sirius Black was well known throughout the wizarding world for his betrayal of the Potter family and the mass murder of innocent Muggles. Few people, his family among them, knew the truth - that Black had been framed and had instead died this past June trying to rescue his godson Harry Potter from Voldemort. But here he was, inside a crystal held by a wild Chinese Fireball.
"Soporus," Charlie intoned, pointing his wand at the dozing dragon. Alone he knew he had no chance at stunning the Fireball, even if she was young and exhausted. He did not dare bring in other dragon tamers, though; as they would see Sirius and call either call for Aurors to come arrest him or they would insist on leaving him to the dragon. However, since she was already exhausted, there was a good chance he could induce her into a deep sleep. He waited for a long moment, watching her warily, but the dragon did not move.
"Accio, Sirius Black," he murmured the moment he was certain the Fireball slept. He halfway expected nothing to happen.
The smoky crystal rose, gently twisting free of the dragons grasp. Gaining speed, it flew over the rough terrain and landed roughly in front of the wizard. Wide-eyed, Charlie took a step back as the crystal plowed a small trough in the dirt. The moment it stopped moving, Charlie stepped forward and touched the crystal imprisoning the older wizard. It was solid. He tapped it curiously, frowning as he tried to figure out how Sirius had gotten inside it, much less how to get him out of it. Concentrating and hoping it would free Black from his prison, he murmured, "Manumitto".
A tapping sound woke him. Opening his eyes, he discovered he could not move. Before he could truly panic and begin fighting his restraints, though not before terror could fill him, he saw a shadowy form move and he fell forward, shifting through the thing holding him prisoner. Hands caught him, holding him semi-upright as he gasped for air. Everything hurt - his lungs and throat burned as they filled with the crisp air, his eyes teared up, unable to handle the dawning sunlight, his ears were shrieking trying to process the roaring sounds around him after the long silence.
"Take slow breaths, Sirius," a vaguely familiar voice was saying.
He looked up, studying the young man curiously. His red hair was a tousled wind-blown mess coming to just below his collar. Bright blue, amused eyes were watching him anxiously from a friendly, freckled face. He was young, maybe mid-twenties or so, with a full beard and weathered skin that indicated he worked outdoors. But for all that he felt he could trust the man, he did not know him.
"Who? Where?" he managed, surprised by the roughness of his voice.
"Easy, Sirius. I'm Charlie - Charlie Weasley, Ron's brother," the younger wizard said, eyes going wide. It was obvious that he expected to be recognized.
"Do I know you?" he asked uncertainly.
"Yeah," Charlie replied uneasily. He glanced at the brightening dawn and frowned. "Look, let's talk about it later. I need to get you some place safe before you're seen. People, even out here, would think the worst."
Blinking, Sirius shrugged. He had no idea why Charlie wanted him hidden but for right now, he would accept it. And if his instincts were wrong, he knew he would be able to get away - somehow.
"Well, come on," Charlie swung onto his broomstick and offered Sirius a hand. He gave a tentative smile as the confused wizard climbed on and warned him, "Hold on tight," before kicking off the ground.
Sirius grinned happily as they rose into the air. They did not fly very high, remaining close to the ground. He surmised that was because there were two men on the broom. He loved the sensation of flying, he decided, then and there. Even so close to the ground, it gave him a wonderful feeling of freedom unlike anything he had experienced so far. Instinctively he seemed to know when to lean with Charlie to keep them balanced as they moved through the air.
The sun was finally clearing the mountains and lighting up the preserve when Charlie brought the broom to ground in front of a small house. Moving quickly he ushered Sirius inside, using his wand to draw the curtains as he did. "That was close," he groaned as he grabbed a container. Glancing back at Sirius, he quickly ordered, "Sit down and stay out of sight for a moment."
For a moment Sirius debated arguing but he paused, curiosity overcoming unease and anger. He watched, completely astounded as the younger man toss a handful of what appeared to be ash into the fireplace and yelled a name. Charlie then stuck his head into the flames and began a discussion on dragons, etiquette, and procedure that went over his head. With a sigh, Sirius picked up a newspaper.
'Sirius Black Sighted in Tanzania' was the main headline. The picture of a dangerous looking man howling at the reporters moved about beside the story. Frowning, he began to read, disgusted by the list of crimes the man had committed.
"Hey, what are you reading that drivel for?" Charlie asked as he joined him, his conversation with the fire over. The redhead peered at the paper. "Oh, right. Supposedly you've been sighted in Tanzania. It was Sydney last week."
It took a moment for the words to sink in and he looked up, horror, surprise, and dread filling him. He could not be Sirius Black. "Me? I am?" he shook his head wildly. "No. Not me. I could not... never. I'm not..."
"Sirius?" Charlie's voice was soft, worried.
"Is that my name?" he asked, his face pale. He could not believe he was Sirius Black. He would not. He could never do the things the Daily Prophet said he had done - betray his best friend and his family resulting in the deaths of James and Lily Potter; murder another friend, Peter Pettigrew, and nearly a score of innocent Muggles; escape from prison to attack several school children and one of their teachers; and then to escape again threatening to come back and kill more in the future. He was convinced that he was not the kind of person who could do such things. But he could not remember anything before waking. "Did I do these things?"
Charlie sank back onto his battered armchair, eyes wide with shock as he stared at the man he rescued from the crystal. How was he going to explain this? Deciding there was only one way to handle it, he took a deep breath. "No. But I think Dumbledore should explain. Do you remember Dumbledore?" he asked hopefully as he reached for the floo powder.
"Who's Dumbledore?" Sirius asked curiously, his panic dying down at the name. He did not know it, not consciously, but somehow it soothed him, told him that everything was going to be all right. Besides, Charlie had said he did not do the evil things the paper said he had. And his instincts still told him to trust the red-haired wizard. He reached out and picked up the fine gray ash, rubbing it between two fingers. "How does this work?"
Sighing, Charlie headed for the fireplace, certain that it was going to be a long day.
Title: A Different Kind of Freedom
Pair: Draco (no entourage) and Bill Weasley
Summary: Draco Malfoy gets sent off without his entourage of Crabbe and Goyle and ends up in Bill Weasley's care.
Author's notes: A Second attempt to fulfill the Summer Challenge
"You will prove that you are a Malfoy," Lucius Malfoy instructed his son coldly, his gray eyes never glancing at the fifteen-year-old. He pointed to a spot on the marble tile of the mansion entryway. "You will remain there, silent, until I say otherwise." Without looking back, he stalked away.
"Yes, sir," Draco Malfoy replied obediently. He had learned early the importance of judging when he could question his father's orders. He glanced around the entryway in time to see Goyle and Crabbe being led toward a meeting farther in the manor. He knew where they were going - deep in the dungeons of the Malfoy Mansion, to meet with the Dark Lord and to swear allegiance to him, binding themselves to him forever. He had been preparing himself for that same ceremony before his father had furiously dragged him down to the foryer.
Frowning, he stood motionless as several house elves appeared, placing a trunk and several bags on the floor nearby. Curiosity overcoming his confusion, he eyed the growing pile. The trunk was brand new and unmarked, not even a scratch mark marred the dark wood finish; no initials or house emblem graced the bronze plaque on the front. Seven locks sealed it, marking it as one of the coveted, rare, and very expensive multi-use trunks. Draco had heard of them, but had never seen one before and wondered if it really contained a pocket of space the size of a room behind one of the locks like it was rumored.
The bags were of varying makes - cloth, paper, muggle plastic, and one that seemed to be some kind of flexible metal. Some were bulky, clearly holding several items; others were small, just barely large enough to hold whatever item they concealed. All of them were frustratingly opaque and none gave any clue as to their contents.
Draco quietly counted the bags and watched the house elves arrange them in a neat line. He had seen odder things at the Malfoy Mansion, but normally those were far more ominous. This, while very peculiar, was in no way ominous or threatening. It almost looked as if his mother had been shopping and for some reason the elves were not putting away her purchases, but he knew that could not be it. The Malfoy house elves were very good about obedience. They had to be.
"He is in here," Lucius Malfoy's cool, aristocratic tones slid through Draco's awareness as all the house elves vanished abruptly. He was alone in the entrance hall when his father entered, accompanied by someone the likes of whom he had never expected to see grace the halls of the Malfoy Mansion, much less in his father's presence.
The newcomer was tall, easily over six feet. His normally amiable expression was closed and almost forbidding. Instead of the normal wizard's robes, he wore heavy dragon hide boots, dark leather pants, a plain white shirt, and a heavy leather vest. All of his clothing was of obviously good quality but had seen heavy wear. The man's red hair was long, pulled back at the base of his neck and held in place by leather ties that wrapped it at regular intervals to form a tail down to the middle of his back. A dragon's fang completed his ensemble, dangling from one ear and gleaming eerily under the chandelier's light.
Eyes locked on the man, Draco recognized him. Bill Weasley, Ron Weasley's eldest brother, the Gringotts Curse Breaker. It paid to know your enemies, so Draco had painstakingly gathered information about the entire family. He knew them on sight, all seven children, the parents, the aunts and uncles, the numerous cousins. He had been raised despising the name Weasley. A family of purebloods that was headed by a man who was fascinated by Muggles. A family that the Dark Lord had ordered killed for their refusal to bow, an order which had been forgotten after the Dark Lord's defeat. Blood traitors, they were considered by those who knew that pure blood wizarding families should rule over all the more common, mixed blood wizards. And here he stood in the Malfoy Mansion as if born to it.
"I have gathered everything as you requested," Lucius stated quietly, his eyes oddly calm for addressing a Weasley. "And he is ready to go."
Shocked, Draco almost moved from his position by the wall but caught himself before he did. His slight movement was not enough to catch his father's attention although he did notice Weasley's blue eyes flick in his direction.
"Not so fast," the redhead's voice was soft but unyielding. The blue eyes that for one brief moment had glanced at Draco with a bit of understanding gentleness had turned cold as they returned to Lucius. "According to the agreement, I get to inspect him and everything he brings with him before we leave, and if I don't approve of anything it remains here."
Draco watched his father draw himself up regally as if to argue and then nod his acquiescence. Totally lost by the conversation he again thought to speak only to freeze at his father's furious glare. He watched silently as the tall red-haired wizard inspected first the trunk - all seven compartments, sealing them behind himself in a blatant show of distrust, which his father ignored. Then one by one, each bag was inspected, its contents checked carefully before being placed into the only open section of the trunk.
"Where are his other things?" Wesley asked once that was done and all of the packages and bags were secure.
"Everything you specified is there," Lucius retorted haughtily, his nostrils flaring angrily.
"His personal things are not here," the other wizard said evenly. He looked over at Draco. "Summon a house elf, Draco."
Surprised by both the command and the man's easy recognition, Draco blinked and glanced at his father. The angry nod did not calm his growing unease, but he called out, "Barly."
"I want all of my apprentice's personal effects gathered and placed in his school trunk," Weasley instructed firmly the moment the house elf appeared. "Everything. His books, his robes, his toys, his broom, his school supplies - and please do it quickly."
At the word apprentice, Draco suddenly understood. He had been apprenticed to a Weasley. His disbelieving gray eyes ran over the red-haired man again, this time more carefully. This was William Weasley, the eldest of the Weasley clan, the Curse Breaker, one of the top Quidditch Chasers Hogwarts had ever had, and notorious for his ability to make Slytherin look bad. However, according to rumor, he had also been known to ignore the normal house rivalries when he felt they were in his way. His father was sending him off with Weasley and he would be unable to return home until the apprenticeship was over - in seven long years. It was a disgrace; no Malfoy had been apprenticed in over five generations. He could not believe he was being apprenticed. Although, he had to admit that being a Curse Breaker sounded interesting, far more interesting than becoming one of the Dark Lord's Death Eaters. However, to be apprenticed without being asked or warned was embarrassing.
"Father, I-," Draco began to protest only to flinch as his father whirled, aiming his cane at him. He had forgotten his father's order to be silent. To his amazement, Bill Weasley moved even faster than Lucius Malfoy, blocking the blow and disarming him.
"Do not ever presume to attack my apprentice again!" The furious growl was even more frightening for Bill Weasley's white knuckled grip of the elder wizard's wrist. The house elves who had arrived with Draco's things blinked uncertainly. They looked from one wizard to the other, clearly uncertain if they should go to their master's defense or not since once apprenticed, and it was the apprentice's master's task to defend the apprentice. They all left with resounding pops, deciding to leave the wizards to their own affairs.
"Take him and leave," Malfoy hissed, his eyes snapping angrily.
"The contract will be upheld, Mr. Malfoy," the curse breaker smiled grimly at the aristocrat. "I will not have you argue that I stole from the Malfoy Estates. We both must agree on the things the elves placed in your son's school trunk."
"I absolve you of any such charges," Lucius spoke formally. His normally calm, aristocratic poise showed tiny cracks. It was obvious that he wanted Weasley gone as soon as possible. It was also painfully obvious that the curse breaker was taking his time while following the exact letter of both the contract and convention. The blond wizard whipped out his wand, conjuring parchment and quill. Writing quickly, he signed hit was a flourish, touched it to his signet ring, and handed it to the other wizard.
Bill Weasley read it and nodded, tucking it into his vest and buttoning the pocket closed. Using his own wand, he closed the seven-lock trunk and then shrunk both trunks, sending them flying to Draco. He then glanced over the hall, his blue eyes pausing on a lone house elf carrying a cage. He raised his eyebrow at the sight of the huge eagle owl.
"Barly is Master Draco's elf, sir," the elf's high-pitched voice rang through the marble hall. It smiled broadly at the curse breaker as it continued, "Mistress said so. And Cheshire is Master Draco's owl. Mistress gave him for school first year."
Nodding his acceptance of the house elf's words, Weasley stepped up to the elf and took the owl's cage. Opening the door, he whispered to the owl and let it fly away. He then glanced at the house elf before saying, "You may meet us there, Barly."
As the house elf vanished, the wizard stalked over to Draco, his boots oddly making no sound on the marble floor. "Draco Malfoy," Weasley stood formally before the teenager, his blue eyes locked on the boy's gray ones. "Do you agree to this apprenticeship as arranged by your mother, Narcissa Black Malfoy, swearing that you owe no other allegiances, loyal, life or blood debts?"
Hearing that the apprenticeship was one arranged by his mother both surprised Draco and made sense to him. His father would never willingly allow his son and heir apprenticed to a work-related trade. If it had been left to him, Draco would never have been apprenticed at all unless it were to someone totally loyal to the Dark Lord, with power and influence to spare. His mother could have only done this during the time his father had been in Azkaban, before he had bribed his way free. She had bought him seven years during which his life was free of Lucius Malfoy, his ambitions, and his allegiances.
Pulling his sleeves up past his elbows, Draco bared his forearms. Proudly meeting Bill Weasley's gaze, he showed his unmarked skin. His life suddenly stretched out before him. He was fifteen-years-old, soon-to-be sixteen, and he was no longer to become one of Voldemort's minions. Both Crabbe and Goyle would be Death Eaters by morning, sworn to follow the Dark Lord to their deaths, but he would be ... free?