Disclaimer: It's all J. K. Rowling's.
Summary: We fight the darkness, but do we ever win? A Charlie
Chapter One: A Message
'The lion and the unicorn fought for the
The lion beat the unicorn all round the
Some gave them white bread and some gave them
Some gave them plum cake and drummed them out of
The sun dawning over the Black Sea cast errant rays of light
the half-open window, illuminating the young man's face in high
Charlie Weasley grumbled and rolled over, making a mental note to
the hostel 'round so that his window faced the west when he awoke
but made no effort to get up. As it was barely six-thirty and not a
time to be awake, Charlie had no intention whatsoever of bothering
get up before eight o'clock.
The owl flapping outside his window had other ideas. The incessant
noise was loud enough for Charlie to pull his pillow over his ears,
the repetitive sound could not be blocked. The owl just tapped
than ever. Figures that I'd be able to sleep through the roaring
stomping and screaming of mating Romanian Stubnoses, but not the
of an owl.
Sighing resignedly and wondering if he'd ever get a truly good
sleep, Charlie threw the window open the rest of the way. The owl
on his bedpost, pleased with itself, and held out its leg
The parchment, bearing the seal of Hogwarts Headmaster Albus
looked more than a little foreboding to Charlie. Still, he slit it
with his thumb and began to read.
Dear Mr. Weasley,
In recent months it has become apparent to you that all is not
in the wizarding world. I fear that the disaster at the Triwizard
is only the beginning. It's come to my attention, and that of
that Romania could become a bargaining zone. If I have one piece of
to give you, it's to watch for strangers. You'll know them when you
Charlie frowned. It wasn't unlike Dumbledore to be so cryptic, but
this was so important… He shook off the bad vibes he'd been getting
threw on a pair of trousers over his sleeping shorts. Grabbing his
his wand, a quill and his jacket, he headed into the communal
to grab a quick breakfast.
Anya and Jacques were already up. Coffee was brewing and breakfast
the table. "Morning, Charlie," Anya said cheerfully, tossing her
hair out of her face.
"Mmm," mumbled Charlie, scribbling away on his notepad.
"Ah, c'est un beau matin," Jacques commented in French.
morning, hien, Charles?"
"Mmhmm," responded Charlie, signing his letter with a flourish and
looking up. "Has the female chosen a spot to lay her eggs yet?"
Anya shook her head, half-Shee eyes lidded and shadowed with
"No, but you should've heard them last night. How did you
"Very well, thanks to a strong Silence Charm and one too many
of vodka. What about you, Jacques?"
"L'amour!" Jacques said with a roguish grin. "I was not inside
mais non, I was outside watching zem!"
Anya grinned, as if she has been expecting this. "Definite downside
being a dragon- there is no privacy."
Even Charlie could barely suppress a smile. "You never struck me as
voyeur type, Jacques."
"You laugh," Jacques retorted, "but wait until ze love bug, she
Charlie raised an eyebrow. "You're in love with Anita?"
Jaques shook his head haughtily. "Mais non! Ce n'est pas elle qui a
attentions! But Alonzo…"
Not really surprised, Charlie went about eating his breakfast with
knowing look upon his face. And I thought practicing
charms on a goat was bad. The French omelet Jacques had
made was quite good, however, and so he made no further comment,
rather engrossed in his food. Now, where is that ruddy
What's this about bargaining zones and strangers? I'll keep my
out for newcomers, but be warned- I don't get out much. There are
fifteen of us taking care of these two dragons, and I only get into
about once a month. I still don't know what you want me to do. Could
please be a little less vague?
Charlie tucked the note into the owl's pouch and set him out the
watching him fly off into the distance. Then, he grabbed his wand
notepad once again and went outside to watch the dragons.
Anita, it seemed, had chosen a spot for her nest earlier that
when everyone was eating breakfast. She'd settled down near the base
the massive cliff in a dense brush that would soon be trampled down
more of a nest-shape. Rocks naturally lined the edges of the brush
there was just barely enough room for her to lie down.
Once the eggs hatched, it would be crowded, but that was a given
At the moment she was glaring furiously at Alonzo, who had tried to
her at a bad moment and was now sulking by the sea.
Charlie roughly sketched the location of the nest into his logbook,
that it faced east and was protected on the other three sides. He
also somewhat amused at Anita's anti-male behavior at the moment; he
remembered the mood-swings his mother had had when she was pregnant
Ginny. By that time, however, his father had had a lot of experience
the pregnant Molly and knew when to back off. Alonzo, being a good
years younger than Anita, had no such experience, and it showed.
Anita had plenty of experience. While she was a hundred fifty years
she was hardly approaching middle age for a dragon.
Alonzo was seventy-three and just barely full-grown, having molted
of his last adolescent skin only six months earlier. He was a
mixture of roan and brown, crested with a deep gold on his head and
Anita, normally black and green and silver, had strange gray marks
scales on her belly, and Charlie gathered from this that she was
ready to lay the eggs.
A thump beside him startled him out of his halfhearted musings, and
diverted some of his attention from his drawing. "Seems that Anita's
a spot she likes at last," he commented, doodling a bit more on his
Anya showed her concurrence with the barest shake of her head.
you been all day? Your thoughts are anywhere but here."
"Feeling my age," Charlie joked, not looking up.
Anya looked over his shoulder, watching the pencil as Charlie
away. "That's somewhat depressing," she finally said. Charlie wasn't
if she meant his comment or the drawing. "Trouble back home?"
Charlie sighed and finally put down the notepad. "Yeah. I'm not
exactly what- Dumbledore wrote me and told me to keep my eye out for
but that was basically it. Kind of cryptic, you know?"
Anya nodded. "Typical of him."
"Most definitely," Charlie agreed. "But it's made me think."
"Small miracle," Anya said, smiling a little. "Not surprising that
didn't put you off your breakfast, though." She poked him in the
"How can you eat like that and not gain weight?"
Charlie looked up, somewhat amused. "We spend eighteen hours a day,
days a week, running around chasing dragons and you're asking me why
She shrugged. "Makes sense that you eat so much." This sentence was
with a yawn, and the two of them lapsed into silence again.
Across the valley, the other four cabins that housed dragon keepers
starting to buzz to life. A few sparks here, some smoke from a fire
and the general bustle of the camp was restored to its daily
Charlie often found it somewhat amusing that he roomed with crazy
when he would much rather have had a more normal schedule. Then
he didn't get on nearly as well with any of the other keepers like
did with Anya and Jacques.
"Did you know," Charlie finally said, "that someone actually died
the Triwizard Tournament?"
Anya's face closed off a bit. "I'd heard," she said, "but I thought
was just a rumor."
Charlie nodded. "Seventeen years old and destined for Head Boy-dom,
of the Quidditch team and all-around do-gooder. There was absolutely
reason he had to die. Did you hear how it happened?"
Anya shook her head wordlessly.
Charlie let his breath out slowly. "Voldemort. He's back, you know.
will dissolve into anarchy any day now. We're still too weak to
that kind of onslaught right now. Under Fudge, who won't even
that he's back in power, we haven't got a chance…" His head dropped
His companion was silent for a long while. "Charlie, how old were
when Voldemort fell?"
"Then let me tell you how it was when he reigned. When he first
there was a mad sort of a rush to just about anyplace you could
of. Folks stocked up on food, potions supplies, extra wands, robes,
you name it. A lot of people quit their jobs to be home with their
Those who did work did that and not much else, most of them being
or Ministry employees with a better sense of duty and loyalty. We
went to sleep knowing that we could wake up with our family dead, or
not wake up at all.
"This had an expected effect on the economy. Diagon Alley became
and Knockturn Alley flourished. You couldn't trust anyone, so nobody
friends and nobody went out to dinner. Restaurants closed. St.
was overrun with curse-wounded patients. One in every three newborn
was killed by corrupt mediwizards."
Anya sighed and continued. "I'm not saying that hiding the whole
is a condonable course of action, Charlie. Just that, were you in
Fudge's shoes, you would be quite reluctant to announce Voldemort's
to power, as well."
Charlie awoke somewhat late the next morning, which was a blessing.
was Cabin Four's turn to wake up early and check on Anita's
before breakfast and it had been Cabin Three's turn to stay up late
night before. Naturally that meant that Charlie got to sleep in,
he would never again take for granted.
Anya and Jaques, of course, were already awake and making breakfast
the kitchen- neither of them wanted to brave Charlie's cooking,
left something to be desired. "Morning, Charlie," Anya called in her
"'Morning," Charlie answered somewhat sleepily, mulling over his
"Anita laid her eggs during the night," Anya informed him as she
his hash browns down in front of him. "Alonzo was ecstatic. He
set fire to Cabin One." She grinned. "Anita has him sitting with
now. It's comical how human they act. Oh, and this came for you."
handed him a roll of parchment from the counter.
Charlie glanced down at it, noting the Hogwarts seal in the middle.
Anya. Breakfast was delicious." He excused himself and went to his
to open the letter.
As it turned out, it wasn't only a letter. When he did unroll it, a
newspaper clipping fell out. Holding that in his left hand, Charlie
quickly through the letter.
Circumstances dictate that you return to England immediately as
kind is in high demand. I'm afraid I have very little else to add
I can safely send you in a letter, but take this newspaper clipping
notice- it is imperative that I speak to you in person. I shall
a meeting through your father.
Charlie took one look at the newspaper clipping before hanging his