[identity profile] rinkafic.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] slashing_lorne
(Cross posted, apologies for dupiness)
Title: Under the Dragon's Wing
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis - AU
    Series: Magor 'verse #2
Characters: Lorne, Parrish, McKay, Jumper (a dragon)
Pairings: Lorne/Parrish, McKay/Sheppard (past/implied)
Rating: Gen
Word Count: 7409

Notes: Happy Holidays for [livejournal.com profile] angelyuy who asked for something completely different way back when.

Prompts: at the end (spoilers)


“David, what are you doing?” Lorne called from the doorway.

Looking up from where he was kneeling in the dirt in the middle of the bare vegetable garden, David replied, “If I can get the seeds to take now, the roots should be strong enough to withstand the Early Storms. I learned a new shielding spell and I wanted to try to get a crop to grow during the winter.”

Lorne slowly walked across the churned soil towards his apprentice. As David watched, he saw Lorne stepping to avoid the small pockets of earth magic David had previously cast in the garden. It impressed him. David couldn’t accurately detect an air spell after just a few days. The spot Lorne had just stepped around had been cast back in the early summer. His Master was scarily adept at magic.

“A worthwhile endeavor, it should be within your skill level. Is there anything I can do to help?” Lorne asked, crouching down beside David and picking up a handful of the seeds in the sack and letting them gently rain back.

Thinking over the offer, David shook his head. “Not without causing a greater disturbance than I already am, I’d rather not mess with the winds; they’re calm for the moment.”

The pleased smile that flashed over Lorne’s face told David that he had answered properly. Lorne straightened up, taking up the hoe that had been lying on the ground beside David. “I can dig the rows while you cast.”

“Weren’t you transcribing the recipe of the cough medicine to the Council Annual Books?”

Lorne shrugged and walked away, dragging the hoe behind him. “I wanted some fresh air. We won’t have too much longer before the storms set in.”

A few hours later, David got three rows to set, it took a lot of coaxing and he was drained of magical energy and physically exhausted. He had planned to do four, but he doubted he would get even partway down another row before he was forced to stop. If Lorne had not done the digging, he didn’t think he’d have gotten the third row planted at all. He turned to say as much to his Master when something coming along the road caught his eye. “Lorne, look,” he pointed.

The magic shimmered in the air and David felt the ward go up around him even before Lorne turned. He probably should have thought to ward before he spoke, but Lorne’s protections were far, far better than anything David could have woven in a hurry. Walking up beside him, David asked, “What is it?”

“I know what it looks like, but I’ve never seen it, at least not on the ground, and not in this part of the world. I think it’s a dragon.”

“A dragon? Here?” David fell into step behind Lorne as he headed towards the road. He left enough space for the Magor to move his arms and hands, should he need to cast something. David hoped it didn’t come to that. He tried to remember everything he had read about dragons since coming here to study with Lorne, which amounted to not very much at all.

It was a dragon, a golden hued one. It was thrice David’s height, at least. With the neck fully extended, it might be four. As the Magor and his apprentice got closer to the road, David could see a man walking beside the huge beast. They reached the road at about the same time the man and dragon got to the gate path leading to the house.

“Don’t see many Windriders in these parts,” Lorne called by way of greeting as he leaned casually on his gatepost. It was all posing; David could feel the trickle of magical energy being drawn from the air around them, Lorne would be ready to defend them in the space of a heartbeat.

The man looked worn out, not ready to attack at all. The leather armor showing from beneath his cloak was ragged, gouged and missing chunks. This armor was not for show; this was well-used protection that had seen real action in the past. He put a hand out and rested it on the flank of the dragon, leaning heavily for support. “Could I trouble you for water, sir?”

David pulled the strap of the waxed leather canteen he had slung around his chest over his head and looked to Lorne for permission. A slight dip of the head and a flicker in his eyes urged David forward. Slowly, cautious of making any sudden moves near the large reptile, David went over to the man and offered the canteen. “There’s a creek beyond the far side of the house, if the beast needs to drink.”

“There you go, Jumper, have at it,” the man slapped the rough gold hide and the dragon lumbered off along the road, great head swinging from side to side like a pendulum.

“They understand the common tongue?” David asked as he watched the dragon waddle off.

Laughing, he replied, “In my experience, they understand everything, the damn things probably even speak mouse.” He tugged the strap of the leather half-helm he wore from beneath his chin and pulled it off, splashed a small handful of water into his palm and wiped his face before handing the canteen back to David with a nod of thanks.

They heard a squeaking roar from the far side of the house, followed by a splash. “He found the creek,” the man commented with a wry smile and shake of his head. “I’m not sure if I’ve come far enough along the road yet. I’m looking for First Rank Magor Lorne.”

“Just Lorne,” David and Lorne said at the same time.

“Right place then?” The man looked relieved.

Lorne nodded. “I’m Lorne, my apprentice, David. Who are you?”

“Captain McKay of the Western Windriders,” he stuck his hand out, but dropped it down as he realized belatedly that a Magor would never shake hands with a stranger in greeting.

Lorne gave a low whistle. “You are pretty damned far from home, Captain.”

“Just McKay is fine. You might have noticed, Jumper has a bad wing.” The dragon had ambled back up the road and had almost reached them when it stopped and gave a full body shudder. A moment later, the men were wetly sprayed as the beast sneezed. “And a cold.”

Wiping his face with his sleeve, Lorne said, “I don’t know anything about dragon physiology, McKay. Someone steered you very wrong, sending you south.”

McKay held a hand up. “Ah, but you know magic. Our physician has already done everything he could think of to do for Jumper, and believe me, Physic Beckett is the best healer in six provinces. He believes the wound and the illness are magical in nature.”

Lorne walked over to stare up at Jumper’s left wing. Dragon wings were tricky membranes when they were damaged, difficult to heal under the best of circumstances. The membrane on Jumper’s wing seemed to have torn loose from where it usually connected to the left front foreleg. The beast was also favoring that foreleg, the claws of his paw curled in. Lorne leaned down and gently touched his palm to the foreleg, even at the slight touch of the man’s hand, Jumper twitched and pulled back. “How did he come by the wound?”

With a shrug, McKay replied, “Not a clue. He turned up in the grazing field one morning, already lame. Funny thing is, the other dragons let him stay; a big young male like him, and not one fight for dominance in the field or corrals since he came to us. We think he might have flown in, but he hasn’t flown since.”

At that, Jumper looked up at the sky, raised his snout and let out a mournful bellow. Lorne patted the dragon’s chest. “Poor thing. You miss the sky, do you?’ The great head swiveled then lowered to look at Lorne eye to eye. The dragon snuffled and gently nosed his shoulder. “I guess you do. We’ll see what we can do for you. For both of you, you seem a little the worse for wear yourself McKay.”

“Caught that, did you?” McKay sighed. “My lifepartner and I were in a tussle a few moons back. We were ambushed on a routine scouting flight, a couple of rogues tossed a few spells from the ground up at us. I thought we were warded well enough, but they cut through the protections and we were both unseated, I took a hard hit and a bad fall.”

“And your partner?” Lorne asked.

“Gone. When I woke, there was no sign of John. I found both of our dragons dead. The timing might have been a blessing; they were a mated pair, and one would have pined away without the other. We’ve had investigators looking for the rogues and searchers seeking John ever since, but he’s still missing. I hoped, if you’ve the skill, you could scry, perhaps do a seek for him?”

Lorne nodded. “Come inside.” He looked at the dragon speculatively. “If he’s sick, he shouldn’t be sleeping outside.”

“Do you have a barn hidden somewhere?” McKay glanced around dubiously at the land and woods surrounding the house.

Shaking his head, Lorne replied. “No, but I have an alternative, if the beast agrees to it.” Jumper stared at Lorne, and then gave a very human-like sigh of irritation when he didn’t explain immediately.

Addressing the dragon directly, Lorne explained, “I could shrink you down to the size of a pony. It would only last a few moons before it wore off, but we’ve room in the house for a guest of that size at least.”

McKay looked skeptical, but the dragon dropped his head and leaned against Lorne’s shoulder. The Magor rubbed the dragon’s face and chuckled quietly. “He says a lot for a creature with no speech.”

“Tell me about it,” McKay rolled his eyes. “If Jumper doesn’t mind, then it is fine with me, I really have no right to approve or deny for him, he isn’t my bond. We’re just travelling companions, he and I. The rest is welcome; I need to get back to full strength so I can search for John.”

“Right then.” Lorne clapped his hands together. “David, go pull some rasper grass, about two handfuls will do. Get a chunk of bark from the pico tree, a fingerlength of frillsroot, and a blooming twig from the larns bush. Oh, and a cup of nichi nuts.”

David was nodding as Lorne went through the list, but apparently lost him at the nuts. The look he gave Lorne clearly indicated that something made no sense. “Nichi nuts, Lorne? What magical properties do nichi nuts have?”

“Absolutely none, but I noticed the fuzzy tails around the bush so they must be ripe and I like nichi nuts. So pick some before the damned rats get them all.” Lorne gave him a grin and waved him off.


~*~


McKay and the dragon followed Lorne to the clearing near the front of the house. Lorne invited McKay inside, but the man said he’d wait with Jumper; the creature was a little skittish and didn’t like to be alone. Going to the workroom, Lorne mentally ran through the books and ingredients he’d need. David would collect the fresh stuff; the rest should be in the workroom.

The pair outside were odd. McKay seemed pretty solicitous of a dragon he wasn’t bonded to. He was also wounded, deeply. As McKay had been talking with them, Lorne had been casting about with his Other senses, and the ragged magical wound was obvious, once Lorne suspected it was there and started looking for it. If McKay’s partner had been taken or killed, and their dragons slaughtered, Lorne suspected that the rogues would not have left McKay unless his death was a certainty as well.

Lorne knew there had to be a reason a Physic of Beckett’s reputable skill would have sent McKay so far afield, walking, no less. The type of magic used to wound McKay was a specialized casting in this region. Lorne was one of the few on the Council experienced in healing the damages caused by this kind of base magic, and the ingredients to make the compounded potion to dose the wound could only be found in this province. Beckett had sent McKay south for the cure, not for the dragon.

To get underway, he needed to see to first things first; that meant shrinking Jumper to a manageable size, so he could stay in the house. He’d be easier to feed as well as treat if he was smaller. Then he could set to work dealing with the festering wound that was slowly sapping away McKay’s life.


~*~


Sliding down to sit on the ground, leaning against Jumper’s side, McKay felt another wave of nausea rise up. He couldn’t seem to shake whatever malady had come over him, it was getting worse as time went on. Back at the Aerie, Beckett had shaken his head and clucked his tongue in dismay over McKay’s lingering illness. He had suggested that maybe the air in the south might do him good and had recommended the journey to see Magor Lorne. The winter winds were bitterly cold at the Aerie and with both his lifepartner and bond-dragon gone, McKay was alone in his drafty quarters with no extra warmth or comfort.

Jumper had proven to be a godsent blessing even though McKay had never considered himself to be much of a godsfearing man. The injured dragon had kept McKay’s mind off his grief for the dual loss of lifemate and bond-dragon. McKay was in no way ready to rebond, in fact, he doubted he would ever fly again; his heart just wasn’t in it anymore. He didn’t want to train a new fledgling. When Peggi and Lanti had been fledglings, he and John had just gotten together; it had been a fulfilling experience, working in tandem to train their mounts. It wouldn’t be the same now. It would never be the same, not with John gone. He was beginning to fear that John was gone for good, but was not yet willing to concede all. He needed the slim hope that a ransom note would come, that John would return.

With a whine, Jumper nosed at McKay’s leg. He patted a dry spot on the drippy snout. “Snot nose. I hope Lorne can get rid of the cold, at least.” If he didn’t the dragon wouldn’t live to see the summer.

“Why do you call him Jumper?” the apprentice asked as he came over with a basket under his arm. He spread a burlap cloth on the ground and began to lay out the items he had collected in the basket.

“He couldn’t fly when we found him; one of the other Windriders commented that in his condition he couldn’t jump over a puddle to save his life. I stared calling him Puddlejumper after that. It seemed like something my lifepartner would have named a dragon.”

David looked over at the dragon, now lying sleepily with his neck stretched out and front legs splayed to the sides. He looked like a puppy or a frog. “Don’t worry; my Master will fix you up,” David assured the dragon. “You came to the right place. Would you like more water, McKay?’

At McKay’s nod, David handed him the canteen. “I’m going to go clear some space in the house for you.” He disappeared around Jumper’s side and McKay heard the heavy door close.

McKay jolted awake when he heard Lorne’s voice raised in a chant; he must have been sleeping soundly, completely unaware as the Magor had worked around him. Circles and runes drawn in colored sand were on the ground around Jumper, and a burner with a potion bubbling in it was on the ground not far away.

Struggling to stand, forced to use the dragon for leverage, McKay patted Jumper’s side and then walked over to wait beside the apprentice. Silently, David handed him a meat pie, which McKay sniffed and bit into, chewing slowly. He hoped it stayed down; food rarely did these days.

“Oh good you’re up. I was holding off waking you until absolutely necessary.” Lorne smiled when he saw McKay upright and eating. Then he called, “Are you ready, Jumper?”

In response, the dragon gave a sigh and clapped one paw over his eyes.

“Who needs speech?” David chuckled.

Lorne pointed to the potion, “David, could you set the jug aside to cool? It should be ready to drink soon.”

“What’s that stuff do?” McKay asked, following David.

“A remedy for Jumper’s cold, I think.”

McKay smiled. “Good. The poor creature has been really miserable.”

They turned at a bright flash of light and the sound of Lorne’s raised voice. Where there had been the bulk of the dragon, there was now mist. David set the potion down and grasped McKay’s arm, pulling him back when he would have gone to Jumper’s side. “Wait,” the apprentice cautioned.

As the mist cleared, they saw first Lorne, then the much smaller Jumper, as promised, now the size of a pony, or a giant dog, depending on your basis of comparison. Jumper’s head was now level with Lorne’s. The Magor reached out and stroked the dragon between the eyes. “There we go, much easier to work with, don’t you agree?” Jumper let out an odd bleat, and nuzzled Lorne’s cheek.

When McKay ran over, Jumper rocked back onto his hind legs, grasped McKay’s arms in his foreclaws and dropped his head over McKay’s shoulder, the closet approximation to a hug a being the shape of a dragon could give. McKay patted Jumper awkwardly, avoiding the damaged wing and forearm.

“Oh, isn’t he cute like this?” David blurted. The dragon leaned over, glared at David, hissed and then bit David’s arm. Not hard enough to break skin, but enough to make his displeasure known.

“He bit me!” David rubbed his spit-dampened arm.

“You maligned his masculinity,” Lorne countered. “I’d have bit you too.”

McKay soothed the dragon, patting his flank as he stood on all fours and tried to puff his chest out, which caused him to cough. “Yes, yes, you’re a bIg, strong war-beast. Now, stop posturing. I’m sure no one will call you cute again.”

“Let’s go inside, before it’s fully dark and the nasty things are roaming the fields.” Lorne went to pick up the potion and grabbed a spell book that was lying on the burlap cloth as David knelt and began to gather everything else. “David, be sure to run a broom over those sands before you come in.”

“I will. Your nichi nuts are on the table near your inkwell.”

David had cleared a large room for Jumper. A straw-filled mattress was on the floor and a fire had been laid in the fireplace, though not yet lit. A bucket of water stood beside the fireplace. Leading them in, Lorne pointed to the mattress. “All right, Jumper, you’ll be sleeping there. Now, I need to get all of this into you somehow.” He waggled the glass jug. “How do we go about this? Do I need to dose your water or…”

The dragon proved he understood everything Lorne was saying. Rocking back onto his rump, he reached out with his good right paw, grabbed the jug and upended it down his gullet, swallowing it in a few gulps. After passing the empty jug back, he burped.

“Problem solved,” McKay remarked.

“I wish all my problems were so easily fixed. That stuff might make you sleepy, Jumper. Settle yourself down. David will come in and start up the fire when he’s finished outside.”

When Lorne raised an eyebrow and looked from Jumper to the fireplace, McKay sighed. “He doesn’t breath fire, he’s not that kind of lizard.”

As Jumper circled around and flopped onto the mattress with a contented sigh, McKay picked up a horse blanket from a bench near the window and unfolded it, spreading it over the dragon. “Coziest you’ve been since the summer sun, eh, my friend?” Jumper let out a burbling noise somewhere between a whinny and a snort.

McKay patted the Dragon’s head and followed Lorne out into the hallway and to the workroom. Gesturing to a padded bench near a fire pit, Lorne tossed a pair of logs onto the pile and stirred the ashes to get the flames blazing higher. “Thank you. For helping Jumper.”

“Don’t thank me until I actually fix something. I’ve merely made the poor beast a bit more comfortable for the moment.” Lorne went over to a wall of jars and vials and boxes and began pulling things from it and dropping them into a basket. “When was the last good night of sleep you had, McKay?”

The answer was quiet and sad. “John has been gone for one hundred and thirteen nights. I wish I knew if he was even alive.”

Lorne paused in his task and came back to the fire pit, setting his basket on the floor. “Do you have an object that he wore, one that was in contact with his skin?”

McKay nodded and undid the buckle on his breastplate to dig into the breast pocket of the tunic he wore underneath. He withdrew a small silk pouch and passed it to Lorne. “He was given that amulet by his mother the day he was allowed to join the Windriders. I found it in the grass beside Lanti’s body after…”

Picking up a smooth stone mortar from the worktable, and setting aside the pestle that had been resting in it, Lorne upended the pouch and poured a silver amulet and chain into it. “Silver, good; the best conductor for this type of spell.”

“You’re not going to melt it or anything, are you?”

“No. I’ll wash it off when I’m done pouring gunk all over it.” Lorne smiled and picked up a small wooden wand from the table. He used it to move the chain, and he saw where the links had been burst apart and broken. The pair of stylized oak leaves was intact. “Are you the only one that has touched this since John last wore it?”

“Yes.”

Lorne mumbled a few words and extended the wand to McKay. “Grasp hold of that for a moment.” He mumbled again and McKay felt a tingle run up his arm. “Canceling you out. The spell will ignore you and me now. I had an apprentice once who could never figure out why every scrying he ever did led straight back to where he was standing. He didn’t have much promise as a Magor.”

“Are you talking about Kav? I hear he’s serving drinks over at Ronon’s tavern and is much happier now than he was as an apprentice,’ David said as he came in bearing an armload of wood which he dumped in a holder by the other fireplace. “Oh, are we scrying?” David rushed over as he saw Lorne lift the mortar in his hand and wave the wand over it.

“Shush, you,” Lorne pointed the wand at David. Unrepentant, David merely smirked cheekily. “Make yourself useful, go get the world map; spread it on the floor here.”

Lorne chanted under his breath, too quietly for McKay to make out the words. It was a bit melodic, almost like singing, but not quite. It lulled McKay a bit, and he felt his head dipping down, his chin going to his chest.

“Are you warmed up yet, Captain? I could take your armor, if you’d be more comfortable.” David had reappeared and was standing beside him. McKay grunted and stood, letting his backpack slide to the floor. He fumbled with the buckles of his armor. Brushing McKay’s hands aside, David’s slim fingers were nimble and he soon had all the pieces stripped off the exhausted Windrider. “I’ll set this all in the breezeway to air out for you. It will stay dry.”

“Thanks.” Bereft of the heavy leather armor, McKay began to shiver slightly. He shifted to the end of the bench, closer to the fire. When David came back after hauling the armor away, he dropped a soft woolen cloak around McKay’s shoulders.

Lorne crouched beside the map and tapped the wand against the mortar. He lifted the chain between his fingers and dangled the amulet over the map. McKay pointed to the mountains where he and John had been ambushed, and Lorne let the chain dangle there to start.

Nothing happened for a long time. Frowning, his brow furrowed in concentration, Lorne muttered a new spell. The amulet circled feebly, and then fell still. Lorne set the silver down on the map and splayed his hand over it and chanted another spell, louder, more concise. He slapped his hand down on the jewelry. Crouched down and almost on equal level with the Windrider, his eyes met McKay’s and he shook his head sadly. “I’m sorry, Captain McKay. I don’t sense death, but I can’t find the aura. He may have shifted, gone elsewhere. He might be stuck between.”

Sadly, McKay nodded, his shoulders slumped. “The others who scried said similar things. I just hoped that perhaps a Magor of your level would have more luck. But you are the first to say you didn’t sense his death, and that gives me some hope. I appreciate it.”

Lorne picked up the amulet and pressed the broken ends together between his fingers. He closed his eyes and whispered a mending spell. Then he held the amulet out to McKay. “Wear that, I hope you can give it back to him one day.”

McKay looped it over his head and held the oak leaves in his hand. It was clean and dry, Lorne had apparently been jesting about pouring gunk over the amulet earlier.

Handing David the mortar, Lorne said, “Crush up some tuttle root for me, half the bowl should be enough.”

Warm and feeling safe in the Magor’s home, McKay allowed himself to doze beside the fire as the two men moved around the workroom. He woke when he felt a hand on his arm. “McKay, drink this.”

“What is it?”

Lorne crouched beside bench and looked at McKay. “You know you’re sick, don’t you?”

“I’ll be fine, I’m just worn out. Beckett said the warm air should help.”

Pressing his lips together, Lorne shook his head. “The rogues left you for dead, McKay. They hit you with a withering spell. Physic Beckett sent you to me because I’ve been able to cure for this kind of spell in the past. I only hope you got here in time for me to counter it.”

“This is a cure?”

“The start of one. I’ll have to dose you for a few days with it, as well as another potion.”

“We’re a pair, my dragon friend and me, eh?” McKay downed the cup. “Ugh, you are a horrible cook, Lorne. That was dreadful. What was in there, a whole lemon?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. It was only a sliver of lemon. It won’t kill you.” Lorne took the cup and stalked off to the corner sink.

David came over and offered McKay a hand up. “Whatever you do, do not eat his lentil soup. That? That crap will kill you.”

“I can hear you, David!”

“Let me show you to a bed chamber.” David led McKay to a room that was only two doors away from where he had left Jumper.

He went to Jumper’s door. “I just want to check on him. We haven’t slept apart since the day he turned up at the Aerie.”

McKay peered in. David held a lamp over his head and he could see the rise and fall of the lump under the blankets. Jumper seemed fine. He nodded and backed into the hallway.

“Thank Lorne for me again, David. I appreciate him dropping everything to help us.”

David smiled and leaned in to whisper, “I think he’s glad of it, actually, he was getting bored with his Council writing assignments.”

It was odd sleeping in a bed again, strange to not hear the labored rasp of the sick dragon, and very, very lonely without John beside him.


~*~


When McKay wandered into the workroom the next morning, he found Lorne standing on a low bench, attempting to straighten Jumper’s wing. The thin membrane looked very fragile in the Magor’s hands.

“Good morning. I think I may be able to fix this.” Lorne smiled and climbed down, patting Jumper’s back as he walked around to the table and picked up a cup. He held it out to McKay. “Morning dose.”

Knowing what to expect made it a little worse, but McKay choked it down. “Gah!”

Pointing a finger at him, Lorne warned, “Do not throw that up.”

“That spell never works with the lentil soup,” David remarked as he skirted around McKay with a bucket of steaming oats which he held out to Jumper. “I always throw it up anyway.”

“It isn’t a spell!” Lorne protested.

“Sure, you say that now, because it never works,” David stroked Jumper’s long ears and ignored the Magor’s sputtering.

“I’m never cooking for you again!”

David sighed as Lorne stomped away. “He promises, but he always tries again. There’s a bowl of apple porridge warming on the hearth when you’re ready for it. “Don’t worry, it’s safe, I cooked.”


~*~


The days blurred together into a series of spells and potions and a lot of enforced rest. McKay couldn’t remember the last time he had slept so much.

Jumper’s cold cleared up and eventually he could move his wing again, though very stiffly. Lorne wasn’t sure if the dragon would ever be able to hold his weight on it again in full flight. But at least the festering magical wound was healing.

McKay began to feel better too, after three straight days of treatments. He felt more like himself, his mind began to clear and he could breathe without pain again.

By the fifth day, McKay was alert and awake enough to grow a bit bored. He begged for something to do that could occupy his mind as well as repay Lorne for the time and effort he was putting into his and Jumper’s care. When McKay admitted to having a good hand at transcribing, Lorne set him to copying recipes from one book into another. Creation of the Council’s Annual Book was tedious, but it was also one of Lorne’s Council requirements and working on it was a true payment for the Magor’s time, according to David. Apparently, David’s handwriting was atrocious and Lorne refused to let him touch the books.


~*~



Lorne tried scrying for John again, with a different spell, but still had no luck. He tried tracing the rogue’s spell from the remnants he found on McKay and Jumper, and he seemed to have a bit of luck with that. It turned out the rogues that had cast the spell were part of a gang of genii that was gaining power in the region through nefarious means. Lorne was all too happy to turn his evidence over to the Council so that they could follow up and try to apprehend the rogues. The Magor claimed that his days of chasing down outlaws were long over, he preferred to work from the safety of his home.

When word came back a few days later that some of the genii had been caught, McKay was thrilled to have a name to put to his enemy. The man that led this band of outlaws was called Koyla. With a focus for his anger, McKay was eager to be on his way to search for this Koyla, to find out what the genii had done to John. John might even be with them now, at their mercy. That possibility made McKay seethe with rage.

His treatment was almost over; Lorne said another two doses and McKay would be clear of the last remaining dregs of the magical infection. He offered to teach McKay stronger wards, to protect himself from another attack like the one that had nearly killed him. It would mean spending more time with the Magor, but it might be worth it.

It would also mean wintering here in the south. Winter Storm would be upon them soon, he and Jumper could not be caught out on the road at this time of year. McKay had to think long and hard about the decision. His desire for vengeance burned, but he knew that winter would also keep Koyla and the genii buttoned down. No one traveled in the depths of winter in this region.

He agreed to stay. Jumper was comfortable being shrunken down and seemed content, he liked David and Lorne and had taken to stretching out by the fire each night to listen to the men read aloud. One or the other of them read each night before retiring, anything and everything from poetry to folk tales to histories and biographies. Sitting across the workroom doing transcriptions, McKay found himself listening on more than one occasion to them read. One night as the winter winds howled outside, McKay gave up pretending not to listen and moved to sit on a cushion by the fire with Jumper’s head in his lap. Jumper purred like a cat, a sound that was reminiscent of but yet so different in this diminutive form to the happy sounds McKay remembered his Peggi making.

It wasn’t a terrible way to pass a winter.


~*~


“But what does it mean?” David’s voice was a bit whiny as he followed Lorne through the hallway into the workroom.

Impatiently, Lorne spun on his heel and hissed, “I haven’t figured it out yet.”

“It’s your spell, you cast it. How could you not know what triggered it?”

“I set it fifteen years ago, give me a moment’s peace to try to remember!”

McKay looked up from where he was copying text at the work table and stared. They were the oddest working pair he had ever met, not behaving like a Master and Apprentice at all; they were more like an old married couple. In fact, in many ways they were a lot like he and John used to be. Thoughts of John hurt, so McKay put his head down to his work again.

“It’s a jangle. A trip ward. Something bespelled crossed it.”

David crossed his arms. “It’s in the house, Lorne. Something is in the house? Do we have enchanted mice or something running around?”

Scrunching up his face, Lorne pointed a threatening finger at David’s nose and then spun away, stomping over to a rack of books and yanking one out. “Get me a sack of salt!”

David rolled his eyes and grumbled about it being far too late to lay salt traps if an intruder was already in the house.

“I can hear you David!”

The door to the work room edged open and Jumper poked his head in, blinking sleepily at everyone. Over the past few days, the dragon had started sleeping more and more and the ruckus had apparently woken him. Absently, McKay held a hand out to his side and Jumper slithered into the room and cuddled up against him, accepting the petting.

“Hey, what’s the matter?” McKay noticed that the dragon was trembling. “Lorne! Something is wrong with Jumper.”

The Magor put his book down and hurried across the room. He slid a hand along the dragon’s neck and face. “He feels funny.”

“He barfed in the hallway again,” David called as he came into the room.

By that evening, Jumper was limp and boneless in front of the fire as all three men scoured through every book about dragons in Lorne’s library, trying to find a cause for the illness.

Lorne slammed his hand down in frustration as he sat back from the heavy tome in front of him. “I don’t know.” He got up and went to a cupboard, pulling out a velvet wrapped object. He walked over to the dragon and chewed on his lower lip, apparently thinking about something. He nodded as he came to a decision and removed the velvet, tossing the covering to David. It was a wand, obviously old and intricately inlaid with colored stones; McKay thought it was likely valuable.

“What are you going to cast, Master?” David asked in a serious tone he rarely used.

“A finding spell to start, a stripping spell after, possibly. I don’t know what else to do. Perhaps the one will lead to another, it happens sometimes. The malady that is affecting our dragon friend might have something to do with whatever tripped the jangle. I’m going to try to see if there is something on Jumper, some spell I’m not detecting through usual vision or Other sight. If there is a spell there, I might be able to strip it, if not, at least I’ll know if something is there.”

McKay was kneeling beside Jumper, tenderly stroking the dragon’s head and ears. Softly, Lorne called to him. “McKay, you’ll need to stand back now.” The Windrider nodded and reluctantly left his friend to stand with David behind Lorne.

“David, be ready to ward us, do not wait for me to order it, if you sense anything coming towards you, throw up a shield. I am counting on you to protect McKay.”

“Yes, I’ll be ready.”

The wand sketched through the air so fast that McKay couldn’t follow the motion. Unlike the last few spells McKay had observed the Magor cast, Lorne wasn’t chanting this time, he was really singing. Even McKay with his meager abilities could tell that this was a very different kind of spell.

The air around Jumper began to spark and crackle. His head tilted and a look of surprise crossed the Magor’s face. Lorne’s wand wavered for a moment and then he adjusted his hand motions and his tune changed as he stepped forward towards the dragon. The lights in the workroom dimmed; all the torches, flames and candles flickered, the flames changing to a dim blue as a strong spell swept through the room. The air shimmered with colors, arcing out from the Magor. There was a flash of light and McKay could no longer see Lorne or the dragon. It was as if a veil had been lowered between them.

“David clasped his arm and shook his head when McKay took a step forward. “It’s fine. He’s still casting, hear him?”

Dimly, McKay could make out Lorne’s voice, as if from very far away.

“What the hell?!?” Lorne suddenly shouted. The sound of his voice was discordant and harsh after the low melody of the spell. At the exclamation, David started forward with a panicked look on his face, only to bounce back off the veil-like haze, repelled by the spell.

Pressing his hands to the hazy barrier, David frantically called for the Magor. “Lorne! Lorne? Please answer me, Master! Lorne, are you safe?”

“Yes,” Lorne replied, coughing and then he laughed. “You are not going to believe this. Give me a moment to clear this mess up.” There was more coughing and a lot of muttering. McKay could hear the sound of furniture moving, and the clatter of a metal platter hitting the floor.

“David, please get me a blanket, some mugs and the tea that’s been steeping by the other fire,” Lorne called.

McKay looked around in confusion as the haze started to dissipate. Where Jumper had been there was now a glowing ball of light hovering over the cushion on the floor. “What happened to Jumper? Lorne, what’s happened to Jumper?”

“He was bespelled. As I broke one spell, another cascaded in, and then another. It was a series of entanglement spells. Don’t worry; I’ve set a breaking chain in motion, he shall soon be worked free. I have a strong suspicion as to what we’re going to find at the core of the spell.” Lorne tucked the wand under his armpit and took a large gulp of tea from the mug as David passed it to him.

“What?” McKay asked, but Lorne didn’t answer. He had walked over to the glowing ball of light and was holding his hands out to it, muttering under his breath.

David came over and handed McKay the blanket as he set another mug and the teapot down on the bench. “He’s not going to tell you until he’s certain. He hates being wrong, that means recanting. Lorne never admits that he is wrong.”

“I can send you back to the Council and get a new apprentice,” Lorne pointed the wand over his shoulder at David.

David picked up the scrap of velvet and plucked the wand from Lorne’s hand, wrapping it carefully again before handing it back. “No you can’t. You’re stuck with me forever, remember?”

Lorne scowled. “In little tiny pieces, in a box marked ‘pest’ to be destroyed upon receipt.”

“Something happening.” Pointing to the glowing ball of light David just rolled his eyes at the empty threat.

When the light faded it left behind a naked, shivering man. With a triumphant grin, Lorne waved a hand at the man. “Is that…?”

“John?” McKay’s jaw dropped and he slowly stepped forward.

The dark haired man looked up as McKay dropped to his knees beside him and wrapped the blanket around him. His teeth chattered as he lifted a hand to McKay’s face and he whispered, “Rodney.”

“All this time, you were with me, all this time?”

Falling forward, John leaned into him, shivering. Rodney wrapped his arms around John, not quite believing this was all happening. He had begun to believe the worst, and now John was here, in his arms again? “I couldn’t say anything, I couldn’t make you understand.”

“Part of the spell.” Lorne held out a steaming mug of tea and John accepted it gratefully, wrapping his hands around the warm ceramic. “Any time you tried to communicate, the spell dissembled it. No words, no writing, anything human you tired to do was converted to a dragon movement. It was a nasty spell with a lot of layers. McKay, did his hair always do that or do I need to cast a spell to fix it?”

“It always did that, and don’t you dare.” After John had taken a few gulps of tea, Rodney kissed him. John patiently allowed himself to be cuddled, petted, kissed and hugged by Rodney for a few minutes, and then prodded and examined for a few more by Lorne.

John’s left arm was still stiff and his hand wasn’t working properly, just as Jumper’s wing had been damaged. After examining the arm, Lorne told him that Beckett could probably restore function by the time spring planting came, it was fine and detailed Physic spellwork that was outside Lorne’s specialty.

In the interim, David had brought warm clothes for John to dress in. He sighed happily as he pulled thick socks over his feet. “My toes have been frozen for weeks. Being a lizard is cold.”

He downed two full mugs of tea and sat by the fire for quite a while before he was finally warm. McKay couldn’t stop touching him, sitting pressed against his side and staring at him.


~*~


“Now what?” McKay asked over dinner, finally coming out of his stupor.

John laughed and set his spoon down. “Welcome back, Rodney.”

“Give me some time to get used to this. I’ve been in mourning over you for two seasons. Now what do we do?”

“When the Winter Storms pass, we’ll report back to the Aerie.” John resumed eating his stew.

McKay shook his head. “What about Koyla?”

“Well, if there’s been a hatching while we’ve been away, I figure by high summer we should have a pair of fighters trained up properly and then we can hunt the genii down.”

“Start over?”

John looked at him with pleading in his eyes. “I need the sky, Rodney.”

He did, McKay knew that, had always known it. It was why he flew, to be with John. He reached for John’s good hand and squeezed it. “Then we’ll get you the sky.”

The End



Prompts:
Alternate Universe Bingo: Dragons
Fan Bingo: Missing Persons
Hurt Comfort Bingo: Loss of Limb/Limb Function


Date: 2011-12-03 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] apinkpanthress.livejournal.com
Yay, loved this!

“You maligned his masculinity,” Lorne countered. “I’d have bit you too.”
*lol* Lorne is & will always be my fave. Whether canon or fanon!

Date: 2011-12-03 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mandykaysfic.livejournal.com
I really enjoyed this :)

I love this AU - so many of my fav things. Magic, dragons...

Date: 2011-12-04 12:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] helenkacan.livejournal.com
You ARE writing magic. I'm certainly spellbound.

I love the fact that the reader suspects what's going on (Jumper IS John) long before it actually happens.

But ::wibbles:: you've spelled one name wrong. It should be "Kolya" i/o "Koyla". Check it for yourself here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001108/ [BTW, Kolya and Teyla seem to be the most misspelled names (with transposed middle letters) in SGA!Verse fanfic.]

As a more deliberate spelling variation, ::giggles:: you could have spelled "genii" as "djinn-ai" to conform to your magic-filled realm.

::returns to dreaming in your 'Verse::

Date: 2011-12-04 02:09 am (UTC)
goddess47: Emu! (Default)
From: [personal profile] goddess47
Such fun!

Magor Lorne and Apprentice Parrish are such fun together.

Yes, John and Rodney would be lifebonded and have dragons!

Very nicely done. A great universe to play in...

Date: 2011-12-04 09:00 pm (UTC)
saphirablue: (John wings)
From: [personal profile] saphirablue
John as a dragon! =) ♥ Lorne as a mage! :) Rodney as a dragonrider! :)

Thank you! :)

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