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Death and Life

WHAT!?” Robb’s shocked exclamation echoed in the Great Hall.

No one spoke for a few moments as Jon and I shared a glance, debating which of us would tell the tale.

“That’s impossible!” Robb argued instantly. “We’ve received no such word from King’s Landing, and you cannot have arrived here before the ravens.”

Interesting to note; whoever was doing the plotting was keeping the ravens back, or had sent them way too late.

No matter.

“It took a week for us to get here.” I said simply, motioning for Jon. “Give me the box.”

Jon gave a nod and produced the coffin shaped box, ignoring Robb’s continued exclamations of impossibilities. To be fair, he didn’t know what I was capable of, so it was forgivable.

I took it and placed it on the floor. Jon and I backed away, before I cancelled the Shrinking Charm affecting it. The coffin quickly grew to its former size, though I kept it closed.

“You— What—” Robb stammered at the sight of my magic. “How did you do that?”

I stifled a wince as I recalled that Robb had never seen my magic in action, or even knew of its existence.

“How do you think Bran was miraculously healed?” I retorted.

“He— That was you?” Robb asked. “You—”

“Robb! Listen.” I interrupted him with a glare. “Your father is in this coffin. He was killed.”

Catelyn approached quickly, her two daughters still clinging to her, as Robb kept opening his mouth and closing it, before he mastered himself and gave a steely nod, turning to Maester Luwin.

“Take Rickon out of here.” He ordered as he also approached the coffin. “He’s too young to see this.”

“Of course, Lord Robb.” Maester Luwin said and led the crestfallen boy outside— likely he wanted more group hugs, not even realizing he would grow up never knowing his father.

We heard the faint sound of a door opening, and closing.

“Show me.” Robb wasted no time. I gave a hesitant glance to Arya, and back at him, before nodding and detaching the coffin’s top, revealing the deceased Lord Ned.

The preservation charm had held perfectly, keeping his body as fresh as possible. I felt my chest constrict at the sight of his still softly smiling face, covered and caked with blood. His wounds were as visible as day, his clothes completely soaked through with blood.

As expected, everyone reacted in a similar manner, gasping in shock and horror at the sight of their beloved father/husband. Their faces were stricken with grief as realization dawned on some, and cold, hard truth reasserted itself in others.

My own grief rose in response.

I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath.

And I told them what happened; everything but Jon’s heritage— something he and I had agreed to keep quiet, for the time being, possibly forever. Jon didn’t want to live the rest of his days, continually hounded by those who would either wish to put him on the Iron Throne, or use him to stir up dissent in the ranks.

I had to stop a few times to swallow the lump in my throat and fight my tears back, before finishing.

“It was the Lannisters, and that scum Baelish was in on it— I don’t know if any others were involved.” I said with barely suppressed rage. “It was all I could to grab Sansa and meet up with Jon, who’d helped Arya escape.”

“Baelish.” Catelyn choked, shaking her head. “Why?”

I wisely kept out of it— I’d heard rumors that he bragged about having fucked both Catelyn her sister Lysa, so he was probably of some value to her. To have him betray her and kill her husband, well…

Just then, I heard the large doors of the Great Hall open, revealing Bran already sprinting in, with Theon Greyjoy hot at his heel, trying to stop him.

“No, Bran!” Theon cried as he tried to keep up. “Maester Luwin said not to—”

The two froze in their tracks at the sight of the dead Eddard.

“No.” Bran said, looking at his dead father in shock, before running to him. “No!”

“Bran, no.” Robb grabbed his arm and held him back.

“Let me go!” Bran struggled, and it almost seemed like he was going to escape— no doubt thanks to the increased strength my injection of energy had given him when I’d healed him— but Robb held him back succesfully.

“No, Bran.” Robb said. “He’s gone. He’s gone.”

“No…” Bran’s eyes landed on me. “Harry! You can do it.”

I closed my eyes and shook my head slowly.

“You can!” Bran insisted. “You healed me. Why can’t you heal him?”

I said nothing.

“Why…” Bran turned and buried his face in his brother’s chest and began to sob.

I turned and left, ignoring the cries behind me. I couldn’t stay in there, anymore. I pushed the large door open, feeling the cold winds wash over me, and I welcomed them. I took a deep breath and relished in the cold for a few moments as I leaned back against the wall.

About a minute later, the door opened once more, revealing Clegane.

“Clegane.” I said, swallowing another lump in my throat. “Do they want me to go back inside?”

“No.” He shook his disfigured head. “I don’t think the Starks would appreciate a stranger watching them mourn the Lord Eddard.”

The door opened again, revealing Theon, whose eyes looked hollow as he just kept walking by. I didn’t stop him.

“Of course.” I nodded. “Let them mourn. He was their immediate family, after all.”

“Couldn’t stand the sight and sounds, either.” Clegane said uncaringly. “The world’s a shit enough place, already. Would rather avoid all of that.”

I wanted to berate him, to scold him, but he had probably suffered more than anyone I knew. His whole life was defined by his disfigured face, and his strength as a fighter. He’d likely been shown nothing more but looks of disgust for the majority of his life.

He knew pain, and he had grown stronger, both physically and mentally, so that no one could belittle him ever again.

So, I let it go.

“So, what now?” I asked him. “What are you going to do, now?”

“Dunno.” He answered. “Likely fight for the Starks in the war to come.”

Yes. The war to come.

The door opened once more, revealing a teary eyed and weary Robb.

“Harry.” He said and swallowed down his sadness for a moment, trying to keep his voice level. “Thank you for bringing my father back, and all my brothers and sisters.”

“It was the least I could do. You all have been good to me. I’m just sorry I couldn’t make it in time to save Lord Ned.”

Robb said nothing for a while, most likely having no idea how to respond in this kind of situation.

“What will you do now?” I asked and watch his face morph into the hard face of his father.

“I will call the banners and make the Lannisters answer for their crimes!” Robb said with cold fury, the fury of hundreds of Starks before him.

I nodded.

“Then we’re with you.” I gestured at myself and Clegane, before offering my hand.

He took it without hesitation.

“Thank you, and you as well, Clegane.” Robb said, eyes shining, before he looked back at the Great Hall. “You’re welcome to your quarters here, at Winterfell. You and Clegane.”

“Appreciate it.” Clegane answered simply.

“I have to go back inside, now.” Robb said awkwardly, letting go of my hand.

I responded with a solemn nod. “Go ahead. There’s a lot to be done…”

Robb waved it off and headed back inside, leaving us alone once more.

“Come on, Clegane.” I sighed, and led the way. “I’ve got to get Geryon to the stables and then I’ll show you my room.”

“Sounds fine to me.” He said.

We made our way back to the courtyard, where a servant still stood in wait, trying his best to keep Geryon in place— and failing miserably. Excited barks came from the horse’s back; Ghost was doing a balancing act on Geryon’s back.

I cleared my throat and watched as the servant stuttered apologies, before waving him off.

“Don’t worry, you can go do whatever it is you were doing before.” I said. “I’ll get him to the stables.”

The servant couldn’t get out of there fast enough, too embarrassed to reply.

I sighed and grabbed the shrunken direwolf, setting him on the ground as I chided Geryon after bringing him to the stables. “I can’t leave you alone for three seconds, can I?”

Geryon snorted, and shoved me slightly.

I ignored the friendly shove, instead pulling out my wand and cancelling the Shrinking Charm, watching the albino direwolf quickly grow back to his original size.

“There.” I said, patting Ghost on the head. “Back to normal.”

Ghost just barked.

“Go on, Ghost.” I said. “I’m sure your brothers and sisters are excited to see you. Plus, Jon will need your comfort, right now.”

Ghost answered by bolting to the Great Hall, shoving Clegane out of the way. The man in question stumbled and grunted but held his ground, swearing under his breath. Something about neutering mutts or whatever.

I turned my attention back to Geryon and idly wondered where Hodor was as I gave Geryon a handful of carrots.

“There.” I said, patting the powerful stallion on the head. “That should cover you for a while, buddy.”

Geryon gave me a nudge of affection before diving into his meal.

“Done?” Sandor’s gruff voice asked.

“Aye.” I replied, thinking about linguistics for a few moments before shaking my had. “Come on, I’ll show you where you’ll be sleeping.”

The trip to my room had been quick, and short. My body was on autopilot, easily making my way to the guard quarters and passing by what I knew to be the group rooms, until I reached my own.

“Here it is.” I said unnecessarily after going inside.

It was nothing special, it had three beds— one of which I used while the others simply took up space— a chair, and a table at the corner.

“Right.” Clegane said, placing the bag he’d been lugging around with him on a bed and immediately leaving. “I’m going to the kitchens to see if they’ve got some chicken.”

“Sure.” I said easily and watched him leave, before placing my knapsack on the bed I had been using while I stayed in this room. I sighed, and lay my head back.

My heart was heavy with grief and righteous anger. My mind was filled with the endless possibilities on how to exact my revenge against Cersei, Baelish, and whoever else was behind this.

Who else could have been involved? I had learned a lot from my time in King’s Landing. Everyone seemed to hold secrets about something or the other. Information was more valuable than gold, with it being doled out very carefully.

Sometimes to gain favor with certain factions, or to condemn others.

Every other day, there was a story or another of some minor courtier being caught in a scandal and covering it up. So how was I supposed to know who was behind all this except those two?

Step by step.” Erebus whispered to me as I closed the door with a wave of my wand and began to brainstorm.

“You’re right.” I said slowly. “We have to deconstruct what happened that night.”

I scrunched my eyes closed for a few seconds. I didn’t even want to think about that night, but I had no choice.

I had to be strong.

Focus.” Erebus chided.

“The ambush was effective.” I said. “If it were anyone other than me, that ambush would have been a success, and the coup would have gone without a hitch.”

Perhaps the fool underestimated you.” Erebus reasoned.

“He definitely did.” I mused, staring at my left palm, where the arrow had punctured it. “Though, taking a poison filled arrow right through my hand, as well receiving various cuts from others as well as being beaten senseless— which is better than being impaled, but still hurts like a bitch— would do any normal person in.”

“He always seemed to be the sort of person who disdained fighting, so it is not surprising that he wouldn’t truly understand what you are capable of.” Erebus added.

I only nodded in reply.

“The mercenaries took orders from Baelish.” I said logically. “And Baelish took orders from Cersei. But how did she get Faceless Men to fight for her?”

§How do you get any assassin to assassinate somebody?§ Balthazar scoffed. §Money. The Lannisters shit gold, or haven’t you heard?§

“Yes, everyone seemed to like saying that in that shit hole of a city.” I said in understanding. “He was able to see through my Disillusionment, and that was worrying. Still, at least I know I can beat the Faceless Men if the situation arose.”

§So, who else?§ Balthazar hissed.

I considered the possibilities. “I’ve heard rumors that the Grand Maester Pycelle was a Lannister supporter. He could have been feeding them information. Renly seemed more happy to be a social butterfly than to plot against his own brother. He had no reason to, anyway.”

I stopped for a moment.

“Possibly the other brother, Stannis Baratheon?” I mused. “He never showed up to any of the meetings, instead holing up at Dragonstone, keeping himself off the grid. The only reason that would happen was because he was hiding something big, or was about to do something big.”

Sketchy, but possible.” Erebus opined.

“We already know Varys supports a Targaryen restoration.” I said, remembering the night he had almost caught me. The eunuch seemed to have some magical potential, if he was capable of detecting my presence while Disillusioned.

Either that, or he had some really good senses— no, scratch that.

I had the Silencing Charm on. He was definitely magical, but likely didn’t know it.

Meaning he either aided them, or simply let it happen.” Erebus suggested.

“I have no doubt that this would be something he would do.” I agreed with a nod. “He is of the ruthless kind, but then again, everyone is. Still, that doesn’t exclude him from being a possible ally in the future.”

I looked at my egg, currently hidden in the knapsack. “Targaryen restoration, huh. That Daenerys chick is still somewhere in the east, getting fucked by a horse lord or whatever. And her brother, too. I mean that he’s with her, not that he’s getting fucked by a horse lord.”

“Yes, it was understandable the first time.” Erebus replied and I got the feeling he was rolling his eyes.

§Are you suggesting we seek the remaining Targaryens out and broker some form of alliance?§ Balthazar asked.

I shook my head.

“No.” I said. “From what I’ve heard of these horse lords, they’re a barbaric race of raiders and reavers. I doubt they would be of any use to us— not that I’d want to associate with their kind to begin with.”

I sighed and ran my hand through my hair.

“I guess we just have to wait and see.” I said wearily. “We just don’t have enough information, but at least, the North can defend its borders easily. No one can cross the Neck, and an attack from sea is just as unlikely.”

I would also advise keeping at least some of your attention north of the Wall.” Erebus warned. “Don’t get too caught up in these people’s politics.

I groaned, feeling another headache build.

More and more problems.

I had almost forgotten about the Others and their wights, so overwhelmed by current events and their consequences.

“Well, shit.” I said dejectedly. “The entire trip to King’s Landing was a failure. The whole deal was to build a name for myself, and gather people to join my group so we could fight against the Others. Instead, the entire Stark guards died, as well as Lord Ned and the King. And, what the fuck did we get out of it?”

King’s Landing, a city full of self serving liars and dickheads trying to stay in power. Dozens of people had lost their lives— and for what? Influence?

I could already tell the succession would be questioned in light of the suspicious circumstances of it all. Robb, for sure, would start his own rebellion.

Renly and Stannis Baratheon, possibly.

All of that would ensure that there was chaos in the kingdoms. They’d be a sitting target while the Others from the North North took their sweet time, building an army of their own.

My hand moved to the knapsack on its own. Perhaps the trip was not a total waste, after all.

I did have this dragon egg.

“Tonight.” I promised myself, and waved my wand over the knapsack, hiding it from view. “I’ll hatch him tonight.”

I ended up joining Clegane for dinner— the residents at Winterfell had been informed of what had occured to the Lord Stark, and the atmosphere seemed extremely subdued.

Jon had also joined us, informing me that Lord Ned was to be interred a day from now— and that I was personally invited to witness it, seeing as I had brought back his body, and all. He looked a lot older than his years, the light in his eyes gone as he silently mourned for his uncle’s death, as well as all of our friends in the guard.

So, I attended, fixing up my clothes as best as I could; not that I needed to.

None of them were overly dressed.

The ceremony, itself, was simple, and to the point— much like Ned, himself.

There were no long sermons, no over the top speeches. Lord Ned’s body was taken to the crypts of Winterfell, and we all followed and watched as his body was gently placed in his final resting place next to his deceased brother, sister and father.

He looked as regal as the Kings of Winter of old, wearing a new, leather suit of armor and holding a worn looking greatsword— apparently the sword he had used before receiving Ice.

Words were said, from Catelyn, Robb, and oddly enough, Jon.

Catelyn had given teary words of farewell, and then had to be gently pulled back from her husband’s grave.

Robb looked lost as he muttered his own words, before his eyes gained a steely gaze.

Sansa, Bran, Arya and Rickon huddled next to their mother, all sad and all trying their hardest not to burst into tears at the sight of their dead father.

Jon had drawn his uncle’s sword, Ice, and swore that he would not fail in exacting vengeance upon those who did this to him. Catelyn had given him a dirty look, but glanced at Robb and thought better of it.

Likely, she had demanded the return of the weapon, as it belonged to the House Stark, and not a bastard.

Something must have happened to change her, or more likely, Robb’s mind on the matter.

Perhaps he had demonstrated the fact that the sword had chosen him as its wielder. Yes, that seemed to be the most plausible theory. He wouldn’t have any ground to stand on without that simple event.

It didn’t matter.

The sword was his, now.

The rest of the children were too distraught to give their own words— but that simply was proof of the unconditional love they held for their father.

I watched as the stone coffin made a grinding noise as it was closed up and sealed by Robb, himself. He ran his fingers over the coffin, staring at it with heavy sadness, and closing his fist so hard the leather creaked loudly before walking away.

Jon and I followed him outside, but he stopped us.

“I wish to be alone.” Robb said tightly. “At least for a while. We shall speak further on the morrow.”

Jon was about to say something, but I held him back and let Robb have his space. I figured he just wanted to beat on something until he exhausted himself. I could tell that Jon wanted to do the same.

And so, I dragged him to our usual training spot outside of Winterfell.

“What are we doing here?” Jon huffed, clearly agitated. “This isn’t exactly the time to train.”

“You’re right. It’s not.” I agreed. “But we’re not here to train, Jon. You need to release your anger, and this is the best way to do it; by fighting until you can’t fight any more. Otherwise you’ll retain your anger and let the Lannisters win. They’ve already killed Lord Ned…”

Jon’s eyes flashed in fury at the mention of the Lannisters and the killing of his father at their hands, before drawing his sword.

I drew Erebus in response.

Jon attacked with the great sword as if it possessed the same weight as a twig, swinging it quickly and furiously. I dodged every attempt, knowing that blocking a strike from a great sword with a falchion was highly unwise— not taking into account each weapon’s capabilities.

His fire was used constantly, throughout the battle as he put everything he had into this fight. Every time he shot his flames or infused Ice in his blue fire, I would counter it with Erebus’ inborn Darkness and control over the cold.

I countered another strong stream of his flames with a Dark Stream, countering and weathering the effects of his moves as best as I could. I wasn’t trying to win, anyway. If I wanted to win, I would have already zapped the crap out of Jon.

No, I was simply letting Jon spend up all of his energy to tire him out and release all of his pent up frustration— but he was still keeping a cool head.

At least, that was until I grabbed him, slammed my fist into his face and sent him crashing into the dirt.

“Come on!” I snarled as he slowly got back up, dazed from the blow. “You can do better than that!”

That seemed to snap something in Jon, as his strikes became more furious and lethal, and his demeanor turned almost feral in response to the fresh wave of physical pain I had rewarded him with.

But, even with this new ferocity, he still couldn’t do all that much to me. There were a few close calls, in which I made missteps in my attempts to dodge or attack, but I was never caught.

The next few minutes, Jon took it up a notch further, his strikes slamming into the ground so hard that Ice cut— and then scorched— right through the earth below us. I parried his downward swings, feeling the heat and the displacement of the air as it passed me by.

His technique grew sloppier as he descended further into his anger, and he began to repeat his same movements. After dodging two slashes, and parrying a third, I sidestepped a downward swing, got into his guard and smacked the blunt side of Erebus into Jon’s hands.

Jon hissed in pain and Ice dropped out of his hands, hitting the ground with a thud; but, Jon was not done, I realized as I he slammed his head into mine with the full force of his enhanced strength, stunning me and allowing him to slam his fist in my cheek, sending me tumbling into the dirt.

The impact was jarring and painful, but I managed to minimize any of the damage done by rolling halfway through my tumble, letting go of Erebus so I wouldn’t cut myself on my own sword.

Jon merely stared at me, panting in exhaustion as I got back up, a little damaged but otherwise fine.

“Better?” I sheathed Erebus.

Jon’s feral gaze gradually dimmed back into his previous stoicism. He sheathed Ice.

“Aye.” He walked past me and stared in the distance. “Thank you, Harry.”

I grabbed his shoulder and gave it a firm, reassuring squeeze, staring out in the distance with him.

The sun was almost fully gone, at this point.

“What are you going to do with the egg you received at the Isle of Faces?” Jon asked suddenly.

I smiled. “I was actually about to bring that subject up.”

“Yeah?” He asked.

I nodded.

“I’m going to hatch it, tonight.” I said, before shaking my head. “Might as well get started on the preparations, now.”

“Preparations?” Jon repeated.

“Yes, I have to prepare the necessary conditions for it to work; fire, blood, and l—” I began to explain, but Jon interrupted.

“Life, yes.” Jon said, giving me a dangerous look. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Is there a choice?” I fired back. “You know what’s waiting for us in the North North.”

Jon rolled his eyes at the name, but I pressed on.

They are out there, right now.” I said. “Building their army of the dead. The trip to King’s Landing was supposed to be for us to gather allies to combat the coming forces of the Others at the Wall. But we’re worse off than when we started. Now, the North is going to be busy rebelling against the Crown. Lord Ned is gone. Most of his guard is gone. The only addition to our ranks is Sandor Clegane of all people. The egg is literally the only good thing to come out of this. I have to hatch it.”

“And if your theory of simply using your own power to hatch the egg is wrong?” Jon asked pointedly.

“Then I’ll use an animal as a sacrifice.” I said easily. “Why should a man be any more special than a stag? In fact, wouldn’t a stag possess much more life and vigor than a man?”

Jon nodded carefully, not really finding fault with such logic.

“And, if that fails?” Jon pressed.

Ah, so that’s what he was asking me; if I would sacrifice people to hatch the egg.

“Then the egg will never hatch.” I said immediately. “Not by my hand.”

He looked at me for a long moment, before nodding in satisfaction.

“Go.” He said. “I’ll gather some wood for a fire, and come back here. You go get the egg.”

“All right.” I smiled, and we made our back to Winterfell, splitting up to complete our tasks. I walked on through the grounds of Winterfell, nodding at the servants, guards and workers as I passed them by. I entered the guard quarters and immediately seeked out my room, entering it with silent footfalls— not that I needed to be sneaky.

Clegane wasn’t even here.

Probably enjoying some midnight fun at the brothel.” Erebus clattered in his sheath as I waved my wand at my bed, making my knapsack fade into view as the Disillusionment Charm over it was cancelled.

“You’re probably right.” I said offhandedly as I took the egg and made my way back to Jon and I’s training spot.

I found a few piles of firewood, enclosed in a circle of large rocks placed so that the ensuing fire didn’t spread. At the sound of footsteps, I turned to see Jon carrying as many logs as he could hold in his arms, dumping them unceremoniously into the circle and dusting himself off.

“Think that’s enough?” Jon asked, pointing at the pile of wood. I shrugged and made to rearrange the pile so that I could place my blue scaled egg at the center, before pulling said egg out of the knapsack.

“Blood.” I said, holding the egg in my right hand as I held my left hand out for Jon. “Could you cut my palm?”

Jon stared at me for a few, uncertain seconds, before nodding and pulling out a small hunting knife. He approached me and held the blade over my palm.

“Ready?”

I nodded. “Do it.”

His motion was swift. I felt the coldness of the knife before the spikes of pain erupted, my palm wetting itself with my lifeblood, painting it crimson. I smeared the blood over the egg, the metallic blue replaced by a vibrant red. I felt a pulse of power from within the egg as I placed it in the center of the pile of wood, before pulling my wand out and incanting.

Incendio!”

The dry wood caught fire at once, quickly spreading to the rest as the frigid air warmed up considerably around Jon and I. I shivered slightly at the sudden change in temperature, though it was quite pleasant. As the fire spread, I took the time to smear some Murtlap Essence over the large cut in my palm, the cut healing instantly, leaving nothing— not even a scar— behind.

I watched the crackling fire coalesce around the egg, suffusing into it, and energizing it somehow. The pulse emanating from the egg was now stronger.

It was working! The dragon egg was successfully given fire and blood; but now, it needed life to complete its birth.

I crossed my fingers, hoping that I was right and that I didn’t have to sacrifice an actual person, before I released my control over my magic. It suffused into its surroundings, connecting with everything it could lay its influence on— until it touched the egg within the flames. I could see the little dragon within the egg in my mind’s eye. It was drawing from my power, using it to build its body, its skeleton, its organs and scales.

The remainder of my energy, which had been flowing outwards in all directions, suddenly focused on the egg, saturating it with my power, my life force. It was like a weight had settled on me, a weight that kept growing and growing. At first, it was painless, akin to the feeling of someone placing their hand on your shoulder. But it grew worse as time went on, and I felt like I was being crushed by all sides with no end in sight.

My perception of the outside world had completely faded by that point, my focus remaining solely on the egg and my own struggle to live.

The agony persisted for what felt like an eternity, before dissipating entirely. I sagged in exhaustion and weariness as the world came back into focus. The fire had gone out, though the egg now glowed a bright blue— the same color as my own power, and that of Jon.

A long moment passed, and then…

Crack!

A fissure appeared on the egg’s surface.

“It’s hatching!” I heard Jon say in excitement as I watched the egg crack under the relentless assault from the occupant within. The egg wobbled for a few more moments, before a clawed foot crashed through the shell, opening a big hole, which the little one within began to expand with furious swipes and thrusts.

I approached the egg as the baby dragon finally tore a hole big enough for him to crawl out of. He looked exactly like the depictions in the books portraying his race— scaled, reptilian creatures with two legs, two wings and a tail— though he looked infinitely more beautiful than the ones in the books. He was the size of a small cat, and—

§It’s a she.§ Balthazar interrupted lightly.

“How can you tell?” I thought incredulously.

§Smell.§ Balthazar explained.

I smiled and watched the lady dragon attempt to move through her surroundings, using her leathery wings as forelegs, before finally reaching me and looking up into my eyes quizzically, already showing more intelligence than most animals— and she was not even a minute old!

We both scrutinized each other— noting that the baby dragon already had a sharp set of teeth and claws— before trilling at me, reminding me of Fawkes for a moment, and climbing up my body. She paused at my right arm, sniffing and poking the hardened black scales before losing interesting and coming all the way up to my shoulder, showing me a view of her back, with spiny, red tipped crests running over it.

“He’s beautiful.” Jon whispered in awe. “What are you going to call him?”

“It’s a she.” I corrected.

“How do you know?” Jon asked curiously, but made an ‘O’ with his mouth when I tapped my scaled right arm in response.

The dragon trilled again as she affectionately laid her head against mine.

“What are you going to call her?” Jon asked curiously.

I caressed the top of her head, the little one leaning into my soothing touch.

I smiled down in affection, and knew exactly what to call her.

“Hestia.” I decided. “I’ll call her Hestia.”

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