The Dragon's Arranged Mate(2)

By: Serena Rose

I touched my mother’s trembling arm. I had never seen her so undone. Normally, she was strong, clear-headed and brave. I knew that if she had been a man, and a dragon such as me, she would have been the one to sit the throne. She had the inner mettle that made a warrior, and I would have flown into battle beside her without hesitation.

“Mother, these are only visions. You’ve told me yourself countless times that your visions do not always come to pass. I’m certain that this will be the case now, as it has so many times before today.”

She shook her head, her unbound white-gold hair rippling like a waterfall down her back. “No, my son. I feel a shift in the energy all over the isle, and in the forces of nature. The throne is at the edge of a precipice…and I fear that it might fall.”

I couldn’t help feeling a shiver up my spine at my mother’s words, then shook myself to be freed of it. I was a mighty Celtic dragon, after all. And the throne of County Cork. No visions could upset my reign; I had all the power of Ireland behind me, and all of Scotland, once the ceremony took place and the union       was consummated that evening.

I placed my hands on my mother’s shoulders, then pulled her toward me for an embrace. I remembered so many times, too many to count, when she had done the same for me when I was troubled. I remembered thinking that there was nothing that could harm me as long as she had her arms around me, protecting me with all of her fierceness and spirit. I hoped to give some of my strength to her, now.

I pulled away and looked at her, a smile lighting my face. “Come, now. Today is a day of celebration and feasting and rejoicing at a long-held agreement finally coming to pass. I’ve been destined for this since before my birth – as you well know.”

A small smile touched Rhiannon’s face, and I knew I had broken the tension of the moment.

“And you, my son – are you ready to take on a mate? A human, female mate?” She smiled wider, and her smile was knowing and indulgent. I grimaced; just like a mother to remind me of the challenges I’d surely face. But I knew she spoke from love.

“I know that there will be…differences which must be put aside,” I told her. “I realize that my power, and my temper, must be kept in mind in my relations with her. I cannot lash out, and I cannot lose control.”

“This is outside of anything else you’ve ever experienced,” my mother reminded me. “I know that in the early days of my union       with your father there were many obstacles to overcome in order to move on toward the true happiness we found in each other.”

“Let us all hope that Anabelle is as kind and patient with me as you were with my father,” I said.

A throaty laugh rumbled in Rhiannon’s throat. “As though I had a choice!” she pointed out, and we both laughed.

I remembered my father; the great dragon had fallen just ten years earlier, when I was 17 years old. I remembered that before my father’s death, I had felt like a man. I’d demanded my father pay me the respect I felt that I was due. Then, within a heartbeat of learning that my father was dead, I felt like a little boy and was very afraid.

I remembered so much of him, so clearly. His wisdom and sagacity in matters of state. His fairness to all, no matter how grand or how common. He cared for the poor and the orphaned and widowed, especially those who were widowed as a result of their men fighting beside him.

I also remembered his fire. Not his literal fire, though I had seen him shift into his true form and fly high on countless occasions, from the time I was a small child. But it wasn’t that fire, terrifying and all-consuming it may have been. No, it was his fiery nature that stood out the clearest. He was brash and bold, cunning and spirited. He feared no one and nothing, and as a result was a formidable foe to any who made the mistake of opposing him.

Then, suddenly, he was gone. There were conflicting stories as to his manner of death, stories to which I could still receive no solid answer to this day. Nothing added up. Some said he was felled in battle, though I don’t remember a tale of a single battle in which he could have fallen at that time. We were at peace, and had been for many years by then. Others said he was killed by a vengeful dragon hunter, my mother ordered me to put all thoughts of such dragon hunters out of my mind, as they would do nothing but frighten me and undermine my own power and confidence as the new King.

Rhiannon had bolstered me and given me strength during those days. She was suffering with her own grief, and for many days there wasn’t a moment I saw her when her eyes weren’t red-rimmed from crying. She lost weight, and even her thick, lustrous white-gold hair began to thin. I remember feeling a shot of fear at the notion of losing both of my parents in a short amount of time.

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