Keena Jade Quinlan, better known as Jade, grumbled to herself as she sat on a bench on the side of the road. Now unemployed, and with nowhere to go, she watched everyone as they passed her by. For a while she had held a job as a reserve for a local Quidditch team, but it was no use. She didn’t want to sit on the sidelines forever, because she felt that life had something better for her. What it was, she didn’t know.
Finally, tired of waiting around for something to happen, she rose from her seat and began to walk down the cobblestone street of Hogsmeade. As she passed by the shop windows, she browsed the contents inside. She spied a lovely red dress robe set, but knew she just couldn’t afford something like that. The next shop window, Quality Quidditch Supplies, had an array of different brooms. The latest broom, created by Brisk Brooms, was a Red Rocket 200, “the best broom on the market, guaranteed to get you up to speeds of 200 and more”. She sniggered at the advertisement slogan and wondered who would be able to fly a broom at such a fast speed.
As she turned away from the shop window, she crashed into something solid. The impact threw her onto the pavement and she landed hard on her backside.Scowling, she picked herself up, muttered a quick apology to the gentleman she had walked into and hurried away from the shop. Glancing back over her shoulder, she watched as the man muttered oaths as he walked in the opposite direction. Failing to notice where she was walking, she slammed into a pole.
“That is just pure luck,” she grumbled to herself as she rubbed the spot on her head. Her vision was considerably blurred from the impact with the pole.
When she could see again, she realized the pole she had crashed into was plastered with different flyers. Her eyes settled on the one displaying a dragon.
The Ministry of Magic has created a new position under the Dragon Research and Restraint Bureau. In times of need, it is necessary to employ Dragon Riders, wizards and witches capable of flying dragons to protect the Wizarding community from threats against our way of life. Expert flyers are needed in Romania. They must have a background in caring for Magical creatures and in flying. If interested, please contact Charlie Weasley care of:
Charlie Weasley: Dragon Keeper
The advertisement was like any other, but what struck Jade funny was the fact that Charlie Weasley was a dragon keeper. She reached out and pulled the paper down from its posted position and held it in her hands. A new stream of thoughts filled her head and for the first time she knew exactly what she wanted to do. Hurrying back to her flat, she would contact Mister Weasley and find out more.
Two weeks after her run-in with the pole, Jade found herself travelling to Romania. Charlie Weasley had been more than excited to hear from her. After a short explanation in his letter about the job, she was convinced of what she was doing. He had warned her of the dangers, but she wasn’t changing her mind; Jade was determined.
When she arrived at the encampment, she didn’t find the welcome she had been expecting. Instead, she was met with a few questioning glares by a group of men who were standing outside a large tent and even a few disbelieving ones. She was reluctant to ask if they knew where she could find Charlie Weasley, but her unasked question was soon answered by one of the man standing in the middle of the group.
“Hi, I’m Charlie Weasley and you must be Keena Jade Quinlan,” a red haired man said as he held out his hand to her.
She shook his hand. “Yes, that would be me.”
“I’m glad to see you made it alright. The trip is a bit long from London.”
She smiled slightly. “Yes, I am a bit knackered. I’ll be fine though.”
He nodded his head. “Let me take those for you and I’ll show you to your accommodations.” He picked up her two bags and led the way to a cabin with a canvas roof. “I meant to warn you about the sleeping conditions, but it slipped my mind.”
“That’s alright, I’ve been much worse off than this,” she replied lightly as she took in her surroundings.
There was a cot all set up for her and a small dresser for her things. A silver bowl sat on top with a pitcher beside it full of water. Lying across the bowl was a neatly folded hand towel.
“Why don’t you sit while I go over some of the rest of the stuff you’ll need to know,” he said as he motioned toward the cot.
Gratefully, she sat down and stretched her aching legs. For the first time she looked up at Charlie Weasley. He was an admirable sight; red hair, blue eyes, and a smile that could kill you. He had a stocky build to him, probably from working with dragons, and his hands were rough and large. They looked terribly weathered and even blistered.
“We have two positions open for riding on our last two dragons. There are three other candidates coming down to try out for them. You’d be the fourth. I should warn you, we’ve never had a female rider and most of the chaps are against it. You’ll come across some hostility, but don’t worry I’ll try to fix that. I read your qualifications and you seem well prepared. However, flying a broom and a dragon are not the same. Dragons tend to have a mind of their own.
“Also, you should know that we start the day at five a.m. here. Breakfast is served at six, lunch at noon, and dinner is at six again. Your first week here will be a basic training course. You won’t go near a dragon until your second week. We like to make sure you’re well prepared before you ride.”
She nodded her head and asked, “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure, go ahead,” he replied warmly.
“What’s the point of dragon riders? I know you have to be here to make sure Muggles don’t see the dragons, but beyond that I’m not sure of.”
“You see the dragon riders are sort of a precaution. If a war were to start, we’d need this protection for various areas such as Azkaban prison and Hogwarts. With these dragons, we would be able to fend off any attacks on either area. Not only are dragons extremely useful in overseeing large areas but they are a deadly weapon in combat.” He explained.
She searched his eyes for a moment before asking, “Do you believe there’ll be a war?”
“Yes, I’m afraid so,” Charlie answered.
She stood then and held out her hand. “Alright then, unless there is anything else you’d like to share I would like to freshen up.”
He took her hand and shook it. “Good luck with the training.”
The next week was more fatiguing than she could imagine. Every morning the trainers would have the four candidates run a three mile course. Afterwards they were allowed to eat breakfast before the next part began. Each day they went through a training course that consisted of learning how to throw spells at moving objects and how to sit straight on a dummy dragon. Afterwards, they were expected to drag themselves through an obstacle course.
Jade was dead tired by the fifth day. Exhausted, she sat down hard on a wooden bench and popped open her water bottle. As she sipped, she noticed Charlie Weasley on the far end of the course. He was giving instructions and pointers to one of the male candidates. After a few minutes of talking, he left.
As she got up, she heard a few men sniggering behind her.
“I bet she doesn’t make it past this week,” one of them said.
“I give her until the weekend,” the other replied.
She turned then, eyes flashing with anger. “I bet you I make it through both weeks and get the job.”
The larger man stepped forward, his face cracking into a crooked smile. “This here is rough work, not a place for a girl especially a small one like yourself.”
Her hands clenched into fists and she took a menacing step toward him. “I am no girl.”
There was a soft chuckle behind her and she swung around to face Charlie. His face sobered a bit and he amended himself by saying, “I’m not sure what you’d be if you weren’t a girl.”
With vehemence, she said, “A woman.” She stepped past him and ignored the guffawed chokes behind her.
Charlie followed Jade’s progress closely. He was impressed by the petite black-haired woman. Her persistence and feistiness were qualities he admired. She had passed the first week with flying colours. Of course, she was up against three other candidates who were also doing just as well. She’d have to do exceptionally well in the second week to stand out.
Charlie came out of his tent, pulling on his dragon hide gloves. He approached the group waiting in front of the paddock.
“Today we start flying on the dragons. I hope each of you have received the proper equipment. If not, you can see Mick and get yourself arranged. Three of the riders have volunteered to help out with this half of the training. You’ll sit in the front of the saddle on the dragon and take the reigns. Your rider will instruct you from the sky. We’ve set up a course of hoops for you to fly through. Dragons are very dangerous creatures; do not take this half-heartedly or you will get hurt.” Charlie continued, “Yesterday I told you who you would be riding with. To my left we have Judas, Roger, and Ian.”
As the others moved toward their assigned partners, Jade stood quietly. Charlie moved to Mick and said a few words, before she approached.
“Charlie, I never got who I was riding with,” she said nervously. Hopefully she hadn’t been cut so soon.
He turned to her and smiled. “That’s because you’re riding with me. I’m sorry to say that none of the other riders wanted to take you up there. Mick would have but he’s been injured.”
“Oh,” she replied dismally. Apparently fitting in was out of the question.
“Don’t worry, they’ll come around,” Charlie replied. He led her over to their dragon, a Norwegian Ridgeback. “His name is Norbert, and he has a soft disposition. He’ll be good to you.”
“Oh, I hope so,” she joked as Charlie boosted her up onto Norbert’s back. Sliding into the saddle, she pulled up the reigns and waited for Charlie to climb on. Once he was secure behind her he said, “Okay, gently pull up on the reigns until they tighten. He’ll know you want to lift off.”
She did so and Norbert responded by opening his wings. With a powerful leap, they were off the ground. Charlie took the reigns after they levelled off.
“Now, when you want to turn left just pull them this way. You pull the opposite way to go right. It’s almost like riding a horse. Now, you try.” He handed back the leather reigns and she did as he instructed.
“That’s great, Keena,” Charlie praised her.
“It’s Jade,” she corrected him.
“What?” he asked as he pushed her black hair out of his face.
She turned slightly in the saddle to face him. “Call me Jade, I like it better.”
He smiled at that. “Oh, I liked Keena just fine.”
She blushed as she turned around. He was just being nice she assured herself. As she tugged on the reigns a second time, she found herself puzzled when the dragon didn’t respond. Charlie’s hand came over hers and held it tightly. “You’ve got to do it like this. Be assertive or the dragon won’t listen.” As he held onto her hand, he guided the reins tightly downward and Norbert’s head bowed as they descended in the air.
“Okay,” she mumbled in response. The warmth of his hand was beginning to distract her.
He laughed slightly as he released her hand and fought with her hair for the second time. “You’ve really got to do something with your hair for tomorrow. It smells great and all but I’m not sure about how it tastes.”
Her face went from a dull pink to a bright red. “Oh, I’m sorry, Charlie. I forgot about the winds.”
“It’s okay, we’re done for today anyway,” he replied. “Why don’t you take us down slowly?”
After reaching the ground below, Jade hopped down first beaming and Charlie slid down after her. She pushed a few strands of hair that blew in her face behind her ear and held out the reigns to another dragon rider. He led Norbert away.
“So, what do you think?” Charlie asked from behind her.
Jade turned with a huge grin on her face. “It was amazing!”
Charlie grinned in response and nodded his head saying, “It really is.”
Jade pulled her gloves off as she said, “I can’t wait to climb back on. Next time it will be better.”
“You did well for your first time. I’ve seen many riders shake while they were up there. It’s a lot of beast to control a few hundred feet above the ground.” Charlie stated as they walked toward the lockers.
“I can handle it,” she murmured as she reached her locker and began to put her stuff in.
“I can see that,” Charlie replied with a laugh. “Anyway, you’ve got two days to get the hang of just flying before we start the hoops and then the flying test is on your last day.”
“I’ll be ready,” Jade said in determination as she began to undo the lapels on her dragon hide vest. She peeled the vest off and placed it on the hook inside her locker. With her wand she locked it and walked away. “See you bright and early, Weasley,” she called out over her shoulder.
Jade woke up at the crack of dawn with a smile on her face. She pulled her hair back and braided the length of it. She was dressed in minutes and outside of cabin stretching before any other living soul in the camp was even awake. Five minutes later she was jogging up the normal mountain course everyone took on their daily run. With the sun on her face and the clouds parting in the sky, Jade felt higher than a kite. She was humming a Weird Sisters song to herself as she ran along the dirt path. She didn’t mind the run, especially today. Today was her day, she decided as she listened to the world wake up around her.
She was halfway up the mountain when she turned off the path and sat down to rest. As she sat down, she heard someone coming up the trail. She waited and held her wand out just in case. One could never be too careful these days, she decided.
A mass of bright bouncy hair shining in the sunlight bobbed into sight, marking Charlie Weasley’s presence on the trail. He noticed her as well and jogged over.
Panting he asked, “What are you doing up so early?”
“Couldn’t wait to start the day with a good run,” she replied with a smile as she rose from her spot on the ground.
He made a noise in thought and stretched his arms over his head. “And I thought I was the only one in the world up at this time running.”
“Guess you were wrong,” she laughed as she walked over.
“Care to jog down together?” he asked gesturing to the long path up ahead of them.
“Sure,” she murmured as she began to jog away.
Charlie had to take several long strides to catch up. When he did, he noticed a far away look on her face. It was as if she was somewhere else and in complete rapture. He smiled and looked ahead, jogging.
Twenty minutes later they had reached the bottom of the mountain. They were a good hundred or so feet away from the camp, when Jade said with a cheeky smile, “Let’s race.”
As soon as she had said it, she picked up the pace and began to leave Charlie behind. “Oh, no you don’t,” Charlie cried out as he sped up.
They were neck in neck as the camp came in sight. Both panting and neither giving up, they drove themselves onward.
Smiling, Jade turned her head to Charlie and asked, “Afraid to lose to a girl?”
“I thought you were a woman,” he remarked with a grin.
“That makes it worse for you,” she laughed as she got her second wind and took the lead.
They rounded in through the camp gates and Jade let out a whoop of glee as she won the race. Stumbling to a stop, she dropped down to the ground and lay on her back panting.
Charlie came to a slow stop after her and bent over his knees gasping for air. They were both laughing.
“Isn’t it great,” she asked.
“What?” he replied in question.
“Running, it’s the best high,” she declared.
“Sure is, next to flying,” he answered.
She looked over at him smiling, and rolled up to her feet. “Well, see you in the paddock in a half hour.” She began to walk away and then turned back to say, “Oh, and Weasley. Don’t be hard on yourself for losing to a woman.” She winked and turned away.
Jade appeared at the dragon paddock in full gear, waiting patiently for Charlie to come. He was five minutes late and she was already growing impatient. She was more than eager to get back onto the back of a dragon. When he did appear ten minutes later, he looked thoroughly apologetic.
“I apologize, Jade. I just received a letter from the Ministry.” He said as he pulled his gloves on.
She frowned and asked, “Was it bad?”
“No, it was just a letter checking up on us. They want to make sure we’re up to code in dragon keeping,” he answered.
“Oh, a bit over cautious,” she murmured.
Charlie grinned in her direction as he led her into the dragon pen. “We are dealing with dangerous beasts, after all.”
Jade spotted Norbert standing off to a corner and approached him. He swivelled his head over to her and suspiciously sniffed her over. Jade laughed when he snorted and blew steam into her face. She patted his neck and climbed into the saddle. Once Charlie was settled behind her they took off into the air.
“Okay, today we’re going to go over a few advanced techniques. They are basic defensive flying moves. The first one is to make the dragon dive off in evasive moves. To do this you have to tug hard and fast on the reigns in either direction.” Charlie began instructing. He took the reigns from Jade and tugged hard left making Norbert swoop swift and fast as if he were evading something.
Jade cried out in surprise from the quick movement and grabbed at the pommel at the front of the saddle. “I’m going to kill you Weasley! You could warn a girl, you know?” she muttered as she snatched the reigns away from him as Norbert eased into a straight flight once again.
Charlie chuckled as he adjusted himself behind her. “Anyway, you get the point. If you want to go the opposite direction-”
Jade jerked the reigns toward the right and sent them soaring on a diagonal angle. Charlie grunted as he tried to find his seat, grabbing Jade at the waist. “You mean like this?” she asked through her laughter.
“Yes,” he muttered trying to hold back his own smile.
Jade glanced over her shoulder at him and grinned. “Don’t even try to act mad, Weasley. I can see right through you.”
“Pay attention to what you’re doing, Miss Quinlan,” Charlie replied gesturing in front of them.
Jade turned back in her saddle and gasped at the sight of another dragon hovering in front of them. She yanked hard on the reigns, awkwardly sending them into a spiral toward the left. Charlie had his arms around her waist now as they tumbled over in the air. When Norbert righted himself, they were both tense from the scare.
“And that was defensive move number two,” Charlie mumbled as he looked back toward the other dragon.
“Who the hell was that?” Jade asked angrily.
“That was Mac and Brendan. I’m sure they’ll be spitting mad when we get back to the camp,” he laughed.
“So, what’s manoeuvre number three?” Jade asked.
Charlie took the reigns from her and said, “It’s a complete loop in the air. It’s the hardest one to make a dragon do. I can’t explain how to use the reigns but you’ll have to see for yourself.” He pulled the reign up and then down before the dragon responded.
Jade held tight to the pummel as they peaked upward and then completed a full circle. As they straightened out, she put a hand to her head as the dizziness began to fade. “That one feels so strange,” she mumbled.
“Yes, it isn’t pleasant and the dragons don’t enjoy this move as much as they do the others,” Charlie stated. He reached around now and took the reigns. “We’re about done for the day now.”
Jade turned in the saddle to him and pouted. Sticking out her lower lip she gave him puppy eyes. “But can’t we stay out just a little longer? We were late today,” she falsely sulked.
Charlie chuckled and handed her the reigns. “Five more minutes, and don’t think I’m going to fall for this again,” he said with a grin.
“Bull, the eyes will always work,” she snickered as she turned around in the saddle and took charge of Norbert.
It was then that Charlie realized she was right. They would always work, on him.
Jade sported a wide grin the next day when she walked into the mess hall. She’d just finished up her three mile run and was starving. She plopped down onto a bench beside Tanner Cronin, who was digging into a bowl of porridge. He seemed to ignore her presence as she reached out for a banana in the basket of fruit at the centre of the table. Just as she began to peal the skin of her banana, Mac sat down heavily across from her with a scowl on his face.
“That was ruddy rude of you yesterday,” he growled as he fished an apple from the basket.
Jade lifted a brow at him in query, before she remembered what had happened. “Sorry about that, wasn’t really expecting to see another dragon so close,” she apologized.
“Well, you’d better start paying attention, rookie. You’ll not last another day out here if you leave your head up in the clouds.” He snapped.
Jade rolled her eyes and took a large bite of her banana in attempt to swallow the retort that was rising to her lips.
Mac seemed to be studying her as she chewed. After she wiped at her mouth and glared back at him he said, “It was brilliant to see Charlie’s face afterwards.”
Jade smiled coolly remembering his reaction. “He wasn’t pleased,” she murmured.
Mac grinned as he got up. “You’re okay in my book, Quinlan,” he stated with a wink before making his way out of the mess hall.
Jade couldn’t help but feeling a little pleased with herself. She’d managed to turn one of the dense buffoons’ opinions of her around. The day was shaping up to be pretty good already, she mused.
The rest of the day blew by pretty quickly as well as the rest of the week. Before she realized it, it was the day of her flying test. Pulling on her gear, she warily walked up to the dragon paddock.
“This is it,” she thought nervously. “It’s judgment day.”
“It’s not that bad,” Charlie said from behind her. “You’ll do just fine, besides you had me for a teacher.”
Jade smiled weakly at him before entering the pen. She hoisted herself up onto Norbert’s back and for the first time was saddled up there by herself. It was unnervingly lonely, she realized.
She would be the second one to go through the course. She waited for her signal to take off. When it came she felt the butterflies disappear as the ground rushed away from her.
She was at ease on Norbert’s back as they sailed through the course of hoops. The second course was more defensive and she had to instruct Norbert to scorch several targets as they flew in dangerous loops.
Biting her lower lip, she fought to quell the nausea that threatened to overcome her. The last thing she needed was to be sick on the back of a dragon. As they moved through the course, Jade hooked a hand down towards her leg where her wand was safely strapped. She grasped the wood firmly and pointed it at a moving target shouting, “Stupefy!”
The bolt of red hit the target dead on and it stopped moving instantly. Jade smirked as she flew past and into a thick patch of clouds. She knew that there had been rumours of a new addition to the course and she wasn’t going to be caught off guard.
As they flew onward, she was surprised by a black object that swooped toward her. She quickly deflected it with a spell before sending Norbert into a dive. They swooped out of the clouds and began to descend.
When they landed she quickly slid off Norbert’s back and handed the reigns over to Charlie.
“You did well,” he said with a smile.
“Thanks,” she murmured in response before walking away.
Jade took a seat on a bench nearby and watched as the other riders completed the course, hoping that she scored the highest.
A feeling of dread mounted inside of Jade over the course of the night. She hadn’t slept well and morning drew near. “Just admit it, Jade, you blew it,” she thought dismally as she rolled off her cot. Knowing the inevitable was to come, she decided that leaving before she was notified of her failure was best.
In frustration she grabbed her travelling bags from the corner of her tent and began to throw her clothes into it in a hurry. She didn’t want to know the outcome of the test results.
Rushing from her dresser to her bags, she threw each garment in hastily. There was no time for folding, any minute she was going to find out that she had failed miserably. What had she been thinking? She couldn’t do this. “How stupid could I have been, thinking that I was going to make it,” she thought angrily.
Jade twirled around in surprise, her heart in her throat. “Merlin, Charlie, you startled me!”
His eyes drifted over her dishevelled tent and toward her luggage. “Are you leaving?” he asked.
Jade lifted a hand to her brow and frowned. Sweeping a stray hair away from her eyes, she sighed. “Yes, I’m going home.”
Charlie stepped inside the tent letting the flap close behind him. He searched her eyes before asking, “Why?”
Jade snorted in frustration. She turned her back to him and continued to throw clothes into her still open luggage. “Well, let’s see,” she murmured. “Let’s start with how stupid this was from the beginning. I should just leave before I humiliate myself any farther.”
“Why do you think that?” Charlie asked from behind her.
Jade furiously shoved her favourite silk blouse into the suitcase. “Why does it matter?” she asked heatedly turning back toward him.
“I want to know,” he answered calmly.
“Be honest, Charlie, did you really think that this would work?” she asked angrily. “Not for one moment since I’ve been here have I actually been taken seriously. This was just a big mistake.” She sighed in defeat. “No one would want me here.” Muttering, she said, “It’s not like I would actually beat out four other well qualified men.”
There was a moment of silence and Jade looked up to Charlie before turning back around and grabbing her luggage. “I’m leaving now,” she declared turning back to him, waiting for him to allow her to pass.
“That’s a shame,” Charlie stated. “I guess I’ll have to tell the runner up that he’s just become a dragon rider.”
Her luggage slipped from her hands, dropping to the ground with a thud. “What did you say?” Jade asked stunned.
“I said I’m sorry you’re leaving, it would have been an honour to have you with us,” Charlie said with a smile.
Jade searched his eyes, hoping that this was some kind of joke. “Are you being serious?” she asked skeptically.
“Completely,” he answered.
Jade threw herself at him and embraced him in a companionable hug. Charlie cleared his throat uncomfortably and Jade realized what she had done.
“Sorry,” she muttered embarrassedly as she pulled away. “Uh…shakes hands,” she mumbled, red faced.
Charlie took her hand grinning. “For the record, Jade, I didn’t doubt for one second that you could do this.” He turned and left then, leaving Jade completely shocked.
Author’s Notes: I think when I set out to write this story it was to capture another character in Harry Potter’s world that wasn’t central in plot and had very little page time. Instead, I think I created a world within JKR’s where Charlie exists. She says very little about his character and even less about what he does. There are not many fictions based solely on Charlie. I know, because I looked to get references. What I did find was a few lines about him on the Lexicon. According to the Lexicon he’s …a wizard who works with Dragons called Dragon Keepers. Charlie works in a dragon reserve in Romania. It is a research center where many types of dragons live.
When I hear reserve I think of it as a place where they keep and care for dragons. That would attest to the reason Charlie has burns and blisters. I would think that in order to research a species you need to get close to them. Like I said above, he’s not only researching but caring for these beasts. He’s not a rider himself, but he knows how to ride a dragon.
I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I do writing it.