The lurching reminds me of the camel, but then, even the camel was smoother than this. I’m not usually one for motion sickness, so I don’t know why the dragon makes me feel so ill. I guess it’s a combination of the lurching and the fact that it’s a dragon that makes me so nervous riding one.
Queasily, I look around as we pass through the large nests, which really look like enormous bird nests to me, made of logs instead of fluff due to the size of the mother dragons. It also kind of reminds of me beaver lodges, but maybe upside down. That seems like a good image to reference.
Blue finally lumbers to a stop in front of three large scaley mounds that look like small mountains, each a different hue of metal, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. I take a few deep breaths to dispel my motion sickness before I slide off. The ground still seems to sway under me, like a boat on the water. I silently curse myself for not thinking of space skipping sooner.
When I’ve gained my balance I reach a hand up to help my sisters slide off first, setting them on the ground carefully. They both seem in awe at what surrounds us. It makes me smile to see them so excited. Then I reach up to Kat, grabbing her by the hands and holding her steady as she swings her leg around and slides off the back of Blue.
As soon as her feet touch the ground, five little dragonlings, the size of puppies, barrel into her, knocking her to the ground with a squeak of surprise. I nearly have a heart attack. These things are dangerous, I don’t care what anyone says.
“Hey! Shoo, shoo! Get back!” I find myself shouting, waving my hands at the dragons, trying to get them off her so I can help her get back up. Pesky things. “Are you ok? Did they hurt you at all?” I ask when I finally get them off. My sisters can’t stop laughing and chasing them around in circles.
I give her a once over as she looks down at herself. I see a few claw scrapes as she wipes some dragon slobber off on her sleeve.
“Every time…” she mutters with a sigh.
“Oh my God, Kat, you’re scratched. Here. Let me heal you.” I offer, not wanting her to get an infection. Can an infection from a wound affect an unborn baby? I have no idea… Maybe this was a bad idea.
“Yes, that happens,” she shrugs. “They can’t help themselves,” she holds out her arm so I wrap my hands around the claw mark and focus my energy on healing it. I honestly haven’t done this in a while, but I remember the first time she taught me. I’m glad I can help her now.
As my hands glow, Kat glances up at the three dragons and smiles. “They’re happy to see you here,” she repeats. I jump as a shadow passes over us and I turn to see three very large dragon heads hovering nearby. I nearly jump… nearly.
“Are they? That’s nice,” I say nervously. I don’t know what it is, maybe their size or that fact that they’re just dragons, but I get so jumpy when they are around. Is this what in-laws are like? Maybe it’s because I don’t actually know what they’re saying. That’s a thing too.
“Andi Andi!! Look!” Ylenia shouts from behind. I finish with Kat’s arm and turn around to see her holding up a dog-sized dragon in her arms, a huge smile on her face. “Look what I caught!” she pushes the dragon out towards me excitedly.
“Wow! Umm, please be careful,” I say nervously. I don’t want her getting scratched too.
Kat steps around me, leaning over with her hands on her knees. I think I blush, but mostly because it’s obvious what I’m seeing to the three matriarchs and I don’t want them getting the wrong idea. I cough into my arm and look away. “I remember you,” she giggles.
“Isn’t he cute?!” Ylenia smiles.
The sharp teeth and angular face aren’t things I consider cute. I don’t see what she does, clearly.
Kat tilts her head. “Well, yes… but she’s a girl, Ylenia.”
“He is?! How can you tell?” she asks, holding the dragonling over her head.
Kat laughs. “She told me so.”
“You can talk to dragons?!” her eyes look ready to bulge out of her head.
Kat stands up, scratching her head. “Um, well yeah…”
“How?!” she gasps. The dragon squirms in her hands, I assume because it wants to get away but she has an iron grip on it.
“Because I have dragon blood,” Kat answers simply.
“Oh… That’s no fair. I want to talk to dragons,” she pouts, hugging the dragon to her chest.
“Maybe you can learn to talk to a dragon, like we do with cats and dogs, Lini. If you spend a lot of time with something, you learn what she wants and stuff just from watching her,” Kira informs her sister, patting her on the shoulder reassuringly.
“She’s right. That’s how I learned to understand Kaitlyn,” I smirk. Kaitlyn gives me a flat stare and I bite my lip with a wink. Ylenia just looks aghast, totally fooled.
“Really?” she asks.
“Yep, that’s how he knows he’ll pay for that later,” Kat sticks her tongue out at me.
Ouch… yup… I’ll be paying for that. For sure.
Ylenia puts the dragon down and it races away with her buddies, excited that she has been set free. She watches her sadly as she chases her friend, nipping at their tails. Suddenly, she stops and looks around as her friend whine, trying to get her attention. Her head swivels back and forth but her attention seems to be locked on Ylenia.
She lets out a little croak and leaps back to Ylenia, bounding into her tummy as she gasps in surprise. The force of her leap forces Lini back and she thumps to the ground, laughing.
“Yay! You came back! I like you too!” She giggles as the dragon licks her face.
I scratch my head. “Guess she’s got a pet dragon now… Wonder how mom will like that,” I say to Kat.
“Wow. I’ve never seen that happen so fast,” Kat looks a little bewildered, turning to look up at the gold one. “I don’t think she’ll have a choice…”
“Wait. What do you mean, not have a choice? Lini could just walk away without it, right? Isn’t that how it works?” I ask, just to be sure.
Kat shrugs. “I doubt it. She’ll follow, and she’ll find her.”
“How?!” I ask dubiously.
She looks at me with a guilty smile. “That’s how a familiar bond works…”
“Familiar what now?”
I hear a loud pop, like sparklers going off and jump around to see Ylenia, in all her excitement with the dragon, shaking her hands and making little pops of sparks going off. The dragon seems just as amused, jumping up to snap the sparks out of the air. Her laughter is contagious it seems as Kira bends over, howling with laughter.
The little dragon lands on the ground, apparently chewing on air, and she makes a sort of… Barking noise? Then, there’s another pop. This time from the little dragon’s mouth. She jumps and scurries behind Ylenia. Apparently, she scared herself. The three large dragons make a sound that is kind of like laughing, I guess. It’s actually quite a scary sound.
I hear a grand rumble from the bronze one as she lowers her great head towards us. I step back, amazed at her sheer size. I turn to Kat, curious as to what the dragon might be saying. Her face, however, turns bright red, like a tomato.
I lean closer. “What did she say?” I ask curiously.
Suddenly, her phone buzzes and she fumbles with her pocket, trying to get it out. She checks a text and I call the girls over, just in case.
“I’m sorry, I thought we could stay longer…” Kat says as she puts her phone away. “Looks like your parents’ house is ready and they want us back with your sisters now,” she says, retaining her redness. Guess I won’t know what that was all about.
Somehow, the dragon is able to look unamused with the interruption as she pulls her head back and looks at the other two.
“I can get us there faster than walking. I’m sure it will be easy with just the girls and you,” I offer. It’s just another excuse to not have to ride the dragon down.
Kat purses her lips. “Are you sure?”
“Definitely,” I smile. I call the girls over, the little green dragon wrapped around Ylenia’s little arm. I kneel down, looking my sisters in the eye.
“Listen carefully. I need you to hold our hands and take a step with me. We’re going to space skip to the office we arrived in yesterday. Do you remember it?” I ask them.
They look at me intently. Kira asks. “What’s space skipping?”
“It’s sort of like teleportation. It’s a new trick I learned,” I tell her. She nods her understanding. She grabs my hand and takes Ylenia’s. The dragon crawls up her arm, onto her shoulder as she reaches her hand for Kat’s.
I nod to Kat and say, “On the count of three, take a step. Ready?” They nod. “One… two… three!” I take a step forwards, everyone mimicking my action and we’re in the office.
I look down to see my sisters’ reactions. Kira’s eyes grow wide with shock while Ylenia gasps. An amused smirk touches my lips. That’s was pretty easy.
I look up to see both my parents standing in front of a desk before the Headmistress, Ambrosse.
Ambrosse’s blue eyes grow wide, and she smiles. “Well, that was impressive. Welcome back.”
“Uhh, yeah -new skill,” I stumble over the words. I’m not used to being complimented by an elder.
“Mommy! Daddy! Look!” Ylenia runs to them, the dragon in her arms. She holds her up for them to see.
Mom’s eyes grow wide at the sight and I just know she is not thrilled. Dad, however, seems to share Ylenia’s innate interest in the beast and reaches a hand out to touch it.
“Where did you find it?” he asks, rubbing the dragon behind its jaw. She seems to like that a lot as she begins to purr roughly, sounding more like a growl to me.
Kat moves behind me, clutching my shirt in her hands and I chuckle.
“She’s a girl! I got her from Princess Kitty!!” Ylenia smiles.
There’s no holding back my laugh now at that unique nickname. I feel her head push into my back as she groans. I think I’ll use that again later.
“Wow! Does she have a name yet?” he asks.
Ylenia shakes her head. “Not yet!”
Mother crosses her arms and looks at me. “And you thought Lini having a dragon was a responsible thing?” she asks me. I stare at her, shocked she’s accusing me.
“With all due respect, Erin,” Ambrosse steps up closer, placing her hand on my mother’s arm. “A dragon is not simply a pet anyone can have. It is very rare for a youngling to bond with a human, especially one so young. Your daughter is very blessed.”
“Blessed? How does one even take care of a dragon?” she asks. Not such a bad question, in my opinion.
Ambrosse smiles. “The dragon will take care of herself. She will go out to hunt for food, perhaps simply providing water for her in the house will suffice. This island is her home, she is fully capable of taking care of herself.”
My mother ponders the thought and finally sighs. I know that sigh well. It’s a sigh of compliance. “Fine. She can keep the dragon, although I agreed to them seeing the dragons, I was unaware one would bond to her,” she affirms.
Dad straightens and places an encouraging hand on her shoulder, to which she seems to relax considerably. “Don’t worry dear. I’m sure Ambrosse knows a lot about dragons. Perhaps it will be like having a cat. Just a little scalier,” he chuckles at his own horrible pun. It didn’t even make that much sense. But that’s dad.
“Alright. I get it. Besides that, it looks like we have a home here now. Perhaps we’ll get to see more of your brother, Andrei since he’s decided to make a home here,” Mother says to the lot of us.
Ylenia jumps with joy while Kira simply smiles. She always seems so mature for her age. I wonder if she gets that from mom.
“Are you ready to move in?” Dad shouts excitedly.
My sisters share a glance and shout back. “Yeah!!” they say in unison.
“Then let’s move in!”
It occurs to me their bags are in our room. I tap Kat on the shoulder and whisper to her, “I’ll just grab their bags from our room. I’ll be back in literally a minute,” she nods, though she looks very nervous. I take her hand and hold it close.
“Don’t worry. My parents won’t bite… much,” I wink letting her hand go and taking a step away. I laugh as her face freezes just before I disappear.
In the room, I quickly look around to make sure all their things are in their bags. PJ’s, hair brushes, toothbrushes. When I’m certain I have everything, I smile with pride. It only took me 46 seconds. I grab the bags and step back to the office. I like this nifty trick.
“Our room?” I hear mom saying, her eyebrow raised. Uh oh… I know that eyebrow too. That’s the ‘you think this is a good idea?’ eyebrow.
I look at Kat, her whole body just rooted to the floor, mouth open a little. “Uhh…” her face is white as a ghost and I now wish I had been even faster… though I don’t know if that would be physically possible.
“Yeah, the rooms are like… next to each other. We all live on the same floor,” I step in, telling a little white lie. “The girls wanted to sleep with Kat last night, so I let them,” not a lie.
She looks at me skeptically. “But you said you’re having a baby. Don’t you think it would be best to share a room?”
Now it’s my turn to freeze She definitely called me out on my lie. “Uhh…” Shit…
Dad chuckles at mom’s side. He gets caught in this kind of thing all the time. The woman’s loop of interrogation. They are never wrong… it’s just the way it works. I didn’t see that one coming, that’s for sure.
“I have nightmares,” Kat blurts out, cheeks flushing red. “H-he usually stays with me… to help me sleep.”
Mom just stares. I turn to Kat, surprised she’s revealed such an intimate secret. That’s not usually like her. “Is this true?” she asks.
I nod. “Yes… it is.”
“Andrei. You can be honest with me. I won’t be mad if you’re honest. It’s when you lie that I get angry because then I have to call you out on it and I don’t like doing that,” Mom states.
Ambrosse clears her throat. “Actually, Kaitlyn has been prone to rather terrible nightmares since she was very young. I believe he was only trying to protect her privacy.”
“Terrible? In what way?” Mom asks curiously. I wish she wouldn’t. Look what she’s started now…
Ambrosse frowns. “Well, I’m not sure we should be prying into poor Kaitlyn’s inner thoughts so suddenly. Perhaps another time.”
“Fair enough. I’m only concerned for my little girls. No matter,” she passes it off. I just know she’ll be prying into that later though, next opportunity she gets.
“Alright! Let’s go!” Dad says. Kira and Ylenia trot after dad as mom brings up the rear. She turns at the door and gives me an unexpected warm smile.
“Andrei, it’s good to see you again. I hope… Let’s keep in touch. Ok?” she says, waiting on the door.
I give her a small smile. “Yea, sure. That’d be… nice.”
She waves and vanishes behind the doors as they close. I hear a great sigh from Kat as the door clicks shut and I turn to look as she covered her face with her hands, rubbing her temples.
“You ok? She can come on… somewhat strong, my mom. Sorry,” I say, resting my hand on her shoulder.
She moves her hands away and she looks exhausted. “That was a lot… Can we just go to bed now?”
“Don’t you want to eat first? It’s nearly dinner time and we haven’t had lunch,” I point out.
She blinks, thinking about it. “What will you make?”
I think about it a moment. “Japanese style curry. Have you had that before?” I ask. She shakes her head. “I think you’ll like it. It’s one of my favourites. It’s more sweet than spicy. Kaede’s parents make a mean curry,” I say, turning to Ambrosse.
“Thanks for helping my parents with finding a house. I hope they weren’t too much trouble,” I say.
“Not at all,” she smiles warmly. “It was my pleasure. I am happy that they could join you here.”
“Well, if you don’t mind, I need to make sure Kat eats something,” I grin, turning for the door.
Once out of the office, I hardly waste my time walking to the caf. I take hold of Kat’s hand and we space skip to the kitchen. I grab her a seat and make her a coffee before I get started on the Japanese style curry. It’s a recipe Kaede’s family got from an ex-Marine in Japan. The best kind of curry around. Apparently, his dad went on a trip to an island called Iki and had this curry, swearing he’d never eat regular curry again. At least, that’s what Kaede claims.
I catch Kaitlyn watching me as I simmer the beef and vegetables. I try to make it look like I haven’t noticed, but I feel eerily like some idol on chef TV with an adoring fan watching me from the audience. In my nervous efforts to not ask why, I drop the spatula and splash myself with curry sauce.
“Ahh damn it,” I curse, stepping back from the stove. I wasn’t thinking…
“Are you okay?” Kat jumps up, placing her mug on the counter. She grabs a handful of paper towels off the counter and hovers.
“Yea, I’m fine. Sorry about that,” I grab the spatula and rinse it off in the sink. I’ll have to worry about my shirt later. I return to the stove, hoping the dish hasn’t burnt yet, to see she’s wiped down the counter of any spilled curry sauce. “Please, take a seat. I know you’re tired. I’ve got this,” I assure her.
She slowly moves back to the end of the counter, picking up her coffee and leaning her elbows on the smooth marble. Her gaze can be so distracting… I try harder to pay attention to what I’m doing the second time around.
Finally, after 40 minutes, the curry is ready and I serve it over the rice I had steamed in the rice cooker. I set our plates down, steaming curry over rice with a fried tonkatsu on top. I didn’t go too fancy with toppings this time. We’re kind of short on time.
We sit across from each other in the empty caf, eating quietly. I narrow my eyes at her as I realize what she must have been doing in the kitchen. I get the feeling she was mimicking me, the way I watch her eat like I am now. She seems timid, sitting across the table from me, nibbling at her curry with tentative precision. Do I make her… nervous? I wonder with a sly smile.
I watch her take another bite and make sure not to move my own spoon at all. I want to see how she reacts. I wait patiently as she takes another bite, not looking up. She takes about five more bites without any indication that she notices my gaze, from what I can tell.
When nothing happens, I give up and continue eating.
After the dishes are cleaned and put away I space skip us up to our room. As soon as we’re inside, she kicks off her boots and flops onto the bed, spread eagle. I barely have time to take my own sneakers off before she looks to be dozing.
I shake my head with a wry smile when a knock comes at the door. I open it and am surprised to see Selene there, an irate frown on her face. She holds out a small bottle filled with some sort of off-white liquid.
“Give this to her,” she says flatly.
“Why? What is it? She’s already sleeping,” I start.
She hesitates, somehow her expression gets flatter and she looks even more annoyed. “No, she’s not. It’s for the pain. It should knock her out right now. Probably won’t even dream,” she instructs me before turning around and leaving.
I shrug. Guess it can’t hurt to try, though I kind of wish I knew what it was. I take off the lid and give it a sniff. It smells sort of sweet, like coconuts. I walk over to Kat, tapping her on the shoulder. She cracks an eye open, confirming Selene’s comment.
“Hmm?” she hums curiously.
“From Selene. Says it will help,” I hand her the bottle and she takes it, sniffing it like I did. She downs it in one gulp and hands me back the bottle as her eyes droop.
As she falls back onto the bed, fast asleep, I sigh regretfully. Guess there won’t be any fun time tonight. Thanks Selene…
By Kayla West