The night passes too quickly. I find myself lying awake most of the night, my eyes constantly drawn to the chair in the corner. Rose never came by after I saw her in the hall. I wonder if she knows about the egg? The few hours that I did manage to sleep feel like a blink. I Didn’t even have a good dream, nothing.
I feel the sun before the light reaches our room. I quietly slip out of Andrei’s arms and head for the shower. This is going to be a long day, I can just feel it. The shower helps clear my head a little, and as I pull on my jeans and a navy long sleeve, I decide I’ll bring the egg with me until I find Rose myself. She’ll know what to do with it, right? I dig the little golden-hued oval out of the pile of blankets I made in an attempt to keep it warm. It almost seems to hum in my hands.
Andrei groans softly, shifting in his sleep. His arm reaches out, flopping on the empty sheets. “Where’d my goddess go?” he peeks an eye open groggily.
I smile, perching on the edge of the bed. “I’m here,” I reach out to catch his hand, holding the egg against my side in one arm.
“Did you not sleep?” he props himself up on his elbow. “I couldn’t find you in the Veil,” he says, eyeing the egg.
I shrug. “Couldn’t sleep, I guess. I haven’t had a nightmare in a few days. You should just let yourself rest.”
“Oh, I guess…” he hums. His face scrunches for a moment, eye twitching.
I chew the inside of my lip in concern. “Are you okay?”
“Hm? Yea, it’s nothing, just thinking,” he passes it off with a wave of his other hand.
I frown. “If there’s an ‘it’, it can’t be nothing.”
“What? Nah, I think I’ve just been in the Veil too much, lately. Maybe I’m just tired,” he mumbles.
I sigh. “Then stop going. I can handle a few bad dreams. You need proper rest.”
“But-” he starts to protest.
“Go back to sleep. I’m just going to find Rose and give her this before I accidentally kill it or something. Okay?” I squeeze his hand.
“Fine, but if you get hungry, please wake me up,” he insists. I nod and smile. He lets his eyes close, and I hesitate to leave. It doesn’t take long before he’s snoring softly.
I hate that he sacrifices so much for me. Now it’s affecting his health too. How am I any better than that other woman, doing this to him? I can’t keep pushing my burdens on him. He has enough to deal with already. I wonder if there’s anything I can do to help him, somehow?
Finally, convinced he’s fast asleep, I slip away again. I pull on my boots, grab the cell phone, and carefully close the door behind me. As I turn to walk down the hall, I catch something in my peripheral. A figure stands in the doorway to my left, silent and still. I gasp, catching a scream in my throat as I recognize the figure.
I swallow hard and attempt to smile. “Good morning.”
“Morning,” he replies quietly. His dark blue eyes fix on me from behind his glasses, the yellow-orange rings around his pupils flare out through his irises, an incredibly unique pattern I’ve never seen before.
“You’re up early,” I muse, trying to sound casual as I take deep breaths to slow my pounding heart. Have I always been so easy to sneak up on?
“Yeah. You too. You said we start in the morning,” he states simply.
I chew the inside of my lip. I didn’t think he’d take me so literally. “Uh, yeah. I guess I should have specified a time. You don’t need to be up at the crack of dawn. I rise with the sun whether I want to or not,” I start walking slowly, wary of waking anyone else up so early.
He falls in line beside me. “It’s not a problem. I also rise early.”
“Oh. Okay… Um, I have to just run an errand first, if you don’t mind,” I shift the egg in my arms awkwardly.
“I don’t,” he answers passively. “What’s with the gold ball?”
I stumble, almost tripping over my feet. I mean, I don’t blame him for being confused, but the phrasing… I cough to compose myself. “It’s… Uh, well, it’s a dragon egg.”
“An egg?” he asks, eyebrow raised. “Why do you have it?”
My chest tightens at his question. It’s perfectly reasonable, but… “Agatha… One of the matriarchs. She gave it to me, before…” my voice quivers, and I breathe deep, “before she died.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” he lifts an arm up and rubs the back of his neck. “Will it… be ok?” he looks down at his feet as we walk.
“I have no idea,” I sigh, “That’s why I need to find Rose. She’s the only surviving matriarch. I’m hoping I haven’t hurt it already…” I muse, shifting my grip again. It’s not exactly light.
He glances over and holds out a hand. “Want me to carry that?”
I hesitate, surprised by the offer. “I… Um, are you sure? It’s kind of… awkward.”
“Yea, it’s fine,” he nods. I pause to let him take the egg. Admittedly, his hands are fairly larger than mine, and he seems to carry it without much fuss. Letting go of it makes me a little anxious, but I hope that trusting him will help him trust me.
“It’s warm…” he seems to say to himself, his lip twitches into a small smile, just for a moment. I bite my lip, trying not to grin like an idiot. I have to admit, that was kind of adorable. I have a feeling though, he’d be embarrassed, so I pretend not to notice.
“Yea, I’m hoping that’s a good sign,” I reply. “I don’t have a good track record with animals, but dragons are tough. Then again, I’m pretty sure animals hate me because of the dragon thing…” I head down the stairs, aiming for Ambrosse’s office.
Heath chuckles once. “And I don’t have a good record with people. I feel a small beating from inside… I think he’s okay,” he adds, staring down at the egg as he carefully descends the stairs.
“That’s a relief,” I laugh. “Maybe I’m not as toxic as I thought.”
“You? Toxic? No… I doubt that,” he hums. I smile at him, but my mind wanders back to the last person who believed that. “Animals are funny when it comes to predators. It’s a primal instinct,” he adds.
“Yea, Merlin said the same thing,” I nod.
“Merlin?” he looks up, eyes widened.
“Yea,” I shrug. “Andrei and I sort of ended up in Camelot for a while. Long story. There’s actually a couple of guys from that time visiting here now. We’re likely to run into them at some point,” come to think of it, maybe Eli would be useful to help spar with Heath in my place.
“How’d you get to Camelot? I thought Merlin and what not were all just fictitious characters from the medieval times,” he asks, mildly curious.
“Time jump,” I respond as I turn the corner toward the office. “I thought they were fictional too, until I woke up there,” I try to keep my tone neutral, but I don’t really want to talk about it. I’m still a little shaken about what happened with Arthur.
“So, Andrei’s magic is time? That’s… cool,” he seems only mildly impressed and lets the topic drop there.
I knock on the door before I walk in, a courtesy. I’m not really sure she’ll be here, but I’m fairly sure he will. As I suspected, the office is quiet, the fireplace cold. I stand in front of the couch for a moment, waiting.
“Who are we waiting for?” Heath asks, his eyes scanning the room.
“Typhon,” I answer, raising my voice a bit. A little squawk comes from behind the desk. I brace myself as the young dragonling jumps into the air and dives across the room. I tumble back onto the couch, it creaks under the sudden weight. “Oof…” I groan as I feel his little tongue all over my face. I barely manage to push him back, though he continues to squirm.
“Well, that was… terrifying. I see what you mean by dragons liking you,” Heath smirks.
“Yea… Something about sensing their kin. I never really put two and two together until recently,” I admit as I sit up. “Okay, Typhon that’s enough. I need you to tell me where the others are. Where’s Rose?”
The little golden head tilts, confused. I get the impression that Rose and the other dragons are in two different places. He doesn’t understand how to answer.
I sigh. “Okay, can you tell me where Rose is then?”
His head perks up, and I see an image of Markus. Of course… I should’ve figured. I roll my eyes as I stand up, ready to leave. Typhon circles my legs, begging to come along. I don’t have the energy to argue. I gesture for Heath to head for the door when Typhon’s nose wiggles. He flies up, hovering in front of Heath, sniffing the egg. Images and feelings of excitement emanate from the dragonling.
“Woah, hey there. Do you… smell a friend?” Heath asks, his lips twitch again in a smile. Typhon chirps, twirling happily in the air.
“He smells a sibling.” I correct with a giggle, “Come on, let’s find Rose so she can help it hatch.”
“He’s one of Agatha’s too?” Heath tilts his head.
I’m impressed he remembered her name. “Yea, he is. Though he’s a few decades old now.”
“Do you think they’d be anything like birds, and just need heat?” he asks as we walk out into the hall.
I nod. “Probably, but a lot of it. I mean, they usually have a humongous dragon sitting on them, after all.”
“So, Rose will take care of him. That’s good,” he mutters, holding the egg close to his body.
“I don’t know,” I reply honestly. “She can’t really take her dragon-form here. There’s no room,” Typhon flies ahead, diving and spinning in the air, leading us along toward Markus’ private wing.
“Oh, well, there’s a problem then. Where are we gonna find a source of heat equivalent to a dragon?” he asks. I shrug. That’s not too hard if that’s the only requirement. I don’t want to jump to conclusions.
When we reach the base of the steps, I stop. I really don’t want to go up there.
“Why’d we stop?” Heath whispers, surprisingly close to my ear.
I jump a little. “I don’t want to see Markus,” I mumble, then turn to Typhon. “Go tell Rose to come down,” the little dragon takes off up the spiral staircase, only too happy to oblige.
“Why not?” he hums. “Had a fight?”
“I guess,” I shrug. “I sort of beat the heck out of him. He deserved it, and more.”
“Whoa, that would’ve been neat to see,” he chuckles.
I shake my head. “That’s why I don’t want to see him. It’s hard to resist.”
“Yea, I get that,” he nods.
I glance at him from the side of my eyes. “I highly doubt it.”
“You’d be surprised,” he glances down at me with a raised eyebrow.
I huff. “You weren’t created like some sort of twisted lab experiment to fight someone’s battle for them.”
He stares straight ahead, expression darkened. “No, I wasn’t,” he agrees softly.
“Kaitlyn! My dear! Where have you been?” Rose comes skipping down the steps, barrelling into me. She presses my face into her chest again, and I feel like I’m going to suffocate. “I’ve missed you, darling.”
I break away, gasping to breathe. “I was in my room. It’s not like I went anywhere.”
“Oh…” she purses her lips. “Well, I didn’t want to disturb you and your beau… Speaking of, who is this?” she narrows her eyes at Heath.
Heath opens his mouth to protest his innocence, but I cut him off. “This is Heath, he’s a Guardian. I’m giving him lessons on combat, and he’s going to help repair some of the Guild,” I answer briskly.
Rose hums, her eyes trailing down to his hands. “Oh… Where did you get that?!”
“I ran into him while I was looking for you. He offered to help carry it,” I snap. I know how quickly she jumps to conclusions. Her brows raise. “Agatha left it with me when I went with Blue to try to help.”
Rose’s hostility fades in an instant. She looks ashamed. “Oh… I see. Thank you,” she nods to him. “I suppose you want to know how to care for it?”
“Well, I thought you could…” I answer. “Maybe?”
Rose sighs, carefully taking the egg from Heath. “I would love to,” she pauses, “unfortunately, I am in hiding, and in this form, I would do it little good,” she turns the egg over, pressing it against her pale cheek. “Although, it seems you’re doing fine with it. It seems quite healthy with you.”
I blink. “Really? But… How do you know?”
“It’s nice and warm. I assume you’ve been keeping it near you?” she looks at me. “You are naturally very warm, are you not?”
“Surely it needs some greater source of heat. How hot does a dragon normally get?” he asks, brows pulled together.
Rose shrugs. “Not as hot as one might think. Kaitlyn, my dearest grandchild, the great Guardian of Fire, you would be just as warm as my sisters and I. This egg proves that. It is an ideal temperature just having been near you.”
Heath laughs suddenly. “You’ll have to roost for a while.”
“But…” I look up at him, “I wasn’t holding it. You were,” he freezes, his face turning pale.
Rose raises an eyebrow at him. “Oh? How interesting. Perhaps you should be the one to roost, hmm?”
He protests. “But I’m a guy. I can’t keep an egg…”
“Technically, you can’t carry an embryo,” Rose smiles at me knowingly. “There’s no reason you cannot keep an egg,” his mouth opens to argue, but nothing seems to come out.
“That’s okay,” I interrupt. “I’m growing one child already. How hard can keeping an egg be? How long does it take to hatch?”
Rose rubs her chin in thought. “It depends on the egg. If it isn’t kept warm, it can stay petrified for centuries. If you keep it close to you, it could take a matter of weeks.”
I reach for the egg hesitantly, she holds it out in front of her. “Is it fragile? What if I drop it?”
Rose actually howls with laughter. “Oh, darling, you could drop this egg off the cliff and it would be fine. In fact, that happens quite often when the children get too rowdy. It has to be strong, after all, because we are able to roost on them.”
I guess that’s fair. “So… All I have to do is keep it warm? Nothing else?”
“Nope,” Rose smiles as I take the egg. “Eggs are much easier than giving birth, I promise.”
“Thanks,” I groan sarcastically. She snickers.
“Why don’t you come upstairs for some breakfast?” she asks, gesturing up the stairs.
“Can’t,” I answer too fast. “Training and stuff. Gotta go,” I spin on my heel, holding the egg against my stomach.
“Kaitlyn,” Rose scolds. “Markus would be happy to see you. You are his only living family, after all,” she tries to guilt me, like a typical busybody.
“Don’t care,” I chirp as I semi-waddle away. Andrei isn’t here to tell me to be nice. Rose sighs heavily.
Heath jogs after me, his eyes on the egg. “You sound busy. Maybe I should hold it for a while. I mean, I don’t mind… holding it.”
I smirk as I look up at him. “Oh, now you want to roost? You’re what I’m busy with today, remember?”
“No, That’s not what I meant. Besides, it looks heavy,” he frowns.
I adjust, lifting the egg a little higher. “Yeah, it is… After she’s out of sight.”
By Krystyna Yates