The Dragon's Arranged Mate(4)

By: Serena Rose

“What did you think when you first saw her?” I asked, knowing full well that my mother was exactly the sort of woman he had just described.

“Well, first of course I was dumbstruck by her beauty. Oh, my son, she’s a beautiful woman now, but then? I’d not exchange you for anything in the isles or beyond, my boy, but you’ll come to learn one day what childbearing can do to a woman’s body.” He grimaced, then laughed again. “She was pure, young and fresh in those days. Hair flowing loose down her back, smooth skin, bright eyes. Like an angel come down from the heavens, I remember thinking.” His mouth curved into a sentimental smile.

“That evening, at the feast to celebrate her arrival, we sat beside each other at the table. All through the meal she was overly polite, kind and sweet-tempered. She deferred to my every wish, my every opinion. I found myself growing irate; I didn’t wish to be married to a feeble woman, no matter how angelic her appearance. I decided to test her. I began passing great belches, the loudest I could manage. Still, she remained silent and blank-faced. I couldn’t believe how passive she was.

“Finally, I let loose a belch that would have made any man proud. It practically rattled the table. Of course most of those in attendance were too polite to even react, save for a few cheers from some of the men who had had more than their fill of drink,” he laughed at the memory. “But your mother! Rhiannon stood up, knocking the huge heavy chair onto the floor as she did. She faced me, hands on hips, and roared ‘If yeh can’t control your wind, you’ve no place on the throne or in my bed, ye great oafish clod!’ Then she went on and on in Gaelic, and gasps were heard throughout the room. But as for myself? I was in love.

“I stood up, and she did not even shrink from me. She stood her ground, fiery little thing. But I merely righted her chair, and invited her to be seated once again. Turns out she’d been trained since she was a wee one to defer to the King. Her every training had been devoted to pleasing me and remaining silent. But it wasn’t her true nature – and that true nature was what I wanted to see, and what came out of her that night. I knew then that a good match had been made, and she’s made me nothing but happy every day since.”

“She wasn’t even afraid of you?” I remember asking. “Not even knowing that you were a dragon?”

He shook his head. “Oh, aye, there were times she showed fear or concern. It took time for us to learn to live together as man and wife comfortably. It’s never easy for the dragon to take its mate, my boy, no matter how much she excites and pleases him. No matter how much he loves her when he’s in his human form. I’m sure you’ve discovered during your own dragon times that you don’t think exactly as clearly as you do when you’re human, am I correct?” I nodded again, as hard as I had before. I had noticed myself acting more…beastly. I was truly an animal at those times.

“It takes a lot patience from a woman to learn to live with a dragon,” my father admitted. “It takes a special kind of woman. And any woman who has been betrothed to you for her entire life is sure to know your nature; she will have been instructed. But instruction and living it are two different things. It will take time, regardless, on both your parts.”

I remembered my father’s wise words on the day I met Anabelle for the first time. She and her family and their entourage came from Scotland in order to present my future bride. I had heard talk of her beauty and cleverness, so I hoped that those rumors were at least true.

The entire hall had been full, just as it was now for our wedding. I sat on the throne at the head of the room, with my mother at my side as the Dowager Queen. She patted my hand in anticipation when the roar of the crowds who were waiting outside alerted us to the arrival of Scotland’s royal family. There was much fanfare and to-do, as the Scottish are known for (not that we Irish Celts are much different). Then, the crowds parted. First came Anabelle’s father, King Angus. We had met many times in the past and greeted each other warmly. Then came his wife, Queen Cordelia, whose beauty had me hopeful as to the countenance of my own bride. I greeted her, and she and my mother embraced warmly; the two had been friends in their youth, and were delighted that their children would be joined in this union      .

Then, from the doorway at the far end of the hall, a figure approached. She was lit from behind by bright sunlight, making it difficult for me to get a good look at her. But then, as she approached slowly and became clearer, my heart nearly stopped.

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