Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and mature content.
For Tenyo's LMS V. Word Count: 1,186, approx.
Nag watched Ceri eat for a moment before she stood and approached the fire. She crouched beside it and added another log, careful not to put her hand too close to the flames. She might be a dragon, but her element was not fire. The log hissed and spat at the flames began to consume it, and she turned back towards Ceri. Her pretty mage girl.
“What do you mean by that?” the human asked and Nag sighed, rising slowly. She felt old and creaky, but she wasn’t that broken yet. “Nagendra?”
“What did you mean by—”
She chuckled. “I head you the first time, Ceri, darling.” Nag returned to the table and sat down on the chair opposite Ceri. “You don’t need to repeat yourself, and it means exactly what I said it does.” She leaned forwards and fixed Ceri with a narrow-eyed stare. “I need you.”
Ceri jerked back from her, dropping her spoon into the now-empty bowl with a clatter. Her eyes were wide and her voice was thick with fear when she whispered, “No.”
Nag froze, subtly inhaling. The human was terrified, and it wasn’t a fresh fear. It was an old, deep terror—the kind that lingered. And familiar. Nag leaned back with a snort and looked away. “There’s no need to be so frightened,” she said, softening her voice and keeping her body language open and non-threatening. There was no need to scare the human any more than she already had. “I would never touch someone in…that way…without permission. And as you can see, I prefer a female form.” She slid her gaze back to Ceri’s. “Human or dragon.”
The fear—the terror—melted away, but only partially. It was enough for Nag, She could work with that, especially considering she knew what had had Ceri terrified—and what had nearly happened back in the clearing with the slavers.
“Oh,” Ceri whispered, sounding confused. “Oh, I see…”
Nag nodded and rose gracefully. “I shall leave you to your recovery,” she said and turned away. “The curtained doorway is off-limits. Please respect my privacy, Ceri, as I shall respect yours.”
With that, she crossed to the curtain and swept it back. Nag was tempted to glance back, but she refrained. It probably wouldn’t reassure the girl, and Nag could do without a knife in the back for once. Too many people had tried to kill her before, and she had always triumphed over them. Always. And it wasn’t just because she was a dragon. No, it was because she was old and wise. She knew better; when to fight, when to run, when to hide. When to destroy entire nations with her ice. She just didn’t want to destroy this human before her curiousity was satisfied, and she had a feeling that it would never be satisfied with Ceri. She was looking forward to it.
A few days later, Nag resurfaced to find that Ceri had tended to her injures—beyond what Nag had been able to do for her—and had been attending to the small chamber she’d been left it. The bed was remade, the fire rebuilt and apparently the mage had even ventured out to catch a rabbit or two and find some wild vegetables. Nag could smell the stew cooking. It made her very hungry, and she’d need her strength. She had used a fair amount of her inherent magic to heal the girl, after all.
Nag hesitated in the doorway, watching as Ceri stirred the pot hanging over her small cooking fire. She took a moment to just appreciate the moment before she cleared her throat and stepped into the room. Ceri whirled about to face her, fumbling with the wooden spoon she’d found. Nag raised an eyebrow and stepped into the chamber, letting the thick curtain fall back into place behind her.
“Evening, Nagendra,” Ceri murmured, offering her a small smile.
“Evening.” She inclined her head and moved to the table. Nag stretched her arms up over her head, hid a yawn and then sat down. “How long was I asleep for?”
The mage hummed and turned back to the pot. She began stirring it again and lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Two, maybe three days? It’s kind of hard to tell what time of day it is from in here.”
Nag glanced at the pot and then frowned. “Surely you ventured out to find that?”
Ceri paused in her stirring to glance over at her then down at the pot. She offered Nag a shy smile. “Would you believe me if I said it came to me?”
For a moment, Nag wasn’t sure if she’d heard the girl right. Had that been a joke? She smiled back and chuckled. “Probably not.”
The mage offered her an even shyer look before she focused on her cooking again. Nag left her to it and leaned back in her seat, absently watching Ceri and she moved between the pot and the table and the bed. She looked a lot better than she had when Nag had rescued her. The cut on her forehead was little more than a faded scar now, thanks to the combination of their mixed magic, and she’d bathed at one point. Nag could smell the flowers on her; lavender and jasmine and lilacs. There was still a hint of Bittersweet to her, but it was fading quickly. Nag was glad for it; she couldn’t bear for the girl to suffer and wasn’t able to heal her again. Not so soon, that was. She’d nearly faded during the initial healing, and she’d mostly been channeling the healer’s own magic.
“What’s that look for?”
Nag blinked and jerked her gaze up from the floor. Ceri was watching her with growing concern, and she realised she was growling lowly. “Hmm?” she hummed, raising at eyebrow and watching as the mage grew flustered, blushed and looked down. “What look?”
“You had this look on your face like you wanted to kill something?”
“Ah,” Nag said and sat up straighter. “I apologize, Ceri.” She grimaced and glanced away. “I cannot help thinking of the slavers. I left one escape…”
“Delfan,” Ceri said, voice flat.
She glanced up sharply. “You noticed that?”
Ceri nodded. “I may have been drugged, but I wasn’t completely lost to it.” The mage looked away, face growing pale. “I’ve had that used on me before and have a slight tolerance. The temple healers usually take a very small dose daily to, ah… protect against the worst effects?”
Nag’s gaze narrowed. “Then why were you not taking it?”
“Uh…” She glanced about the room, gaze resting anywhere but on Nag and then abruptly turned away, back to the pot. “It’s…complicated…”
“I don’t want to talk about it, Nagendra.”
Nagendra inhaled deeply and then frowned. There was something beneath the scent of flowers, something she hadn’t noticed before because of the strength of the Bittersweet and the scent of blood and injury. A sweet, subtle scent that would not have been out of place on a—
Nag froze. “You’re pregnant.”