The Heartless Dragon
Sorry it's been so long since I last updated. I just bought the Dvd of Gundam Wing so I'm back in the saddle, so to speak! Usual warnings, I don't own nuttin'.
"What the hell do you want, twerp?" growled the dragon.
"I've come to live with you!" chirruped the prince.
The dragon wore a confused look that didn't sit well on his elegant face. His lips were pulled back over his teeth and his eyebrows were furrowed. The lion hiding in the bushes got a little nervous. From where he was standing, it looked like the dragon was about to snap the poor boy's head off.
"I got in big trouble for letting you go, so I ran away and now I'm going to live with you!" Quatre explained, as though it were really that simple.
"Think again, kid! Thanks for letting me go and all, but I'm not that grateful. Now go on home and stop bothering me." The dragon lowered his head and pushed the prince off his doorstep with his massive nose.
"But I can't go home!" wailed the prince. "They'll cut off my head and put it on a stick, and I like it where it is!"
"Don't be an idiot; no parent would do that to his kid. Unless…" the dragon trailed off. The king had kept him locked up for ten years after all. Who was to say he wouldn't have the idiot boy's head cut off?
Now, it is commonly thought that guilt is an affliction of the heart, and since the dragon had no heart he wouldn't have felt any guilt. But it is actually a condition of the head, a little twinge that a person feels when they know they've messed someone around. It didn't help that Quatre was being so nice about it all. The dragon felt a headache coming on.
"Look kid, don't you have someone else you can go to? A nanny, and uncle, a sugar daddy?" the dragon growled.
"Nope. You're the only person I know who doesn't live in the castle. Paolo came too, but he died and got eaten by a lion."
There was that guilt again. The dragon gritted his teeth, closed his eyes and bit the bullet.
"Fine. Get inside the house. I was thinking of getting a pet anyway."
The deal was Quatre could stay in the house as long as he could make himself useful. That meant chores and lots of 'em. The dragon figured that the pampered palace brat wouldn't be able to so much as lift a broom, let alone handle the oversized furniture that needed cleaning in the huge house. He'd go crawling back to that horrible king in no time. As it turns out, the dragon was wrong.
Quatre took to domesticity, even of the overly large-scale persuasion, like the proverbial duck to water. He devised a system of pulleys for drying the dragon's laundry. He did the dishes with one of the dragon's old toothbrushes. He dusted the surfaces with a series of branches tied together with a cloth on top. And he did it all so quietly and cheerfully that the dragon barely knew he was there.
Therein lay the problem, as the dragon saw it. He'd gotten rather fond of Quatre and liked having him around, but the kid was so quiet he never heard him leave the house. Whenever he realised that Quatre was in fact out of his sight and therefore out of his protection his mind filled will all sorts of terrible scenarios. After all, the kid was so unbelievably stupid he'd do anything anyone told him. He would be ready to charge out the door to rescue the prince from all the brigands out to get him, when Quatre would come through the door with an armful of firewood, completely unharmed. Cue much yelling and threats of grounding or being locked in the cellar by the enraged dragon.
The lion was still hanging around, keeping an eye on the prince just for safety's sake. He wasn't too worried about Quatre anymore; the dragon was more than protective enough. But there was no harm in being careful, right? He lived in a cave near the cottage, well within earshot of anything going on in the house. And one night, he heard the beginnings of an interesting conversation.
"Get in the cellar! No, go to your room! Aw, just get dinner started!" the dragon yelled at the prince, who was dangling from the reptile's giant claws.
The lion rolled his eyes. This kind of thing happened most days. The dragon would find out Quatre had wandered off somewhere, find him, carry him back to the house, yell at him for about half an hour, ground him, then change his mind and get him to start dinner. Every other day. Occasionally, the dragon would sneak out after dark to hunt down and eat whatever ruffian had been trying to lure away his pet.
Quatre made dinner, and sat at the end of the huge table eating peacefully. The dragon was massaging his aching head with his fore-claw. Despite the fact that the wasp's nest in place of his heart had stopped being so painful since the kid had moved in, he was now more susceptible to migraines and had even discovered a few grey scales on top of his head.
"Where is your heart?" piped up the prince. The dragon looked up, confused.
"Your heart. Where is it?"
"I don't have one. Now shut up and eat your food."
"That's ridiculous. St. Peter said all creatures have hearts, and he's not allowed lie. He's a saint, after all."
"What? I knew you were stupid, but this really takes the cake! If I say I don't have a heart, I don't have a heart!"
"But that makes no sense!"
"Jesus Christ! You believed that bearded freak when he said the bridge was closed and you had to go through his house but you won't believe me when I say I have no heart?"
"All creatures have hearts. Bella told me so!"
"Fine, fine, just shut the hell up. It's in the cupboard."
Quatre turned around to look at the plain oak wood cupboard. It was old and dusty (he wasn't able to reach it with his duster). It was just an ordinary cupboard.
"It's in there?"
"Yes," growled the dragon. "And if you go near it, I'll eat you."
They continued to eat in silence. But as soon as the dragon left the house to go pervert hunting the next day, Quatre climbed onto the cupboard with a bowl of varnish and a cloth. The lion watched through the window, bemused.
The dragon returned shortly to find Quatre balancing precariously on the ledge of the cupboard, polishing the wooden surface.
"What the hell are you doing? " roared the lizard, startling the little prince so much he almost tumbled off the edge.
"I'm polishing the cupboard," the prince chirped back, and then resumed his work.
"Why? And how did you get up there?"
"If your heart's in here, it should look nice, don't you think? Or at least clean," said Quatre, unmindful of the incredulous stare directed at the back of his head.
"You actually believed me. Why am I even surprised?" bellowed the dragon.
"Oh, so it's not in here?"
Even the lion outside the window groaned. Of course the heart wasn't in the cupboard. Who would keep their heart in a cupboard?
"Of course it's not in the bloody cupboard! Who would keep their heart in a bloody cupboard?" growled the dragon as he lifted Quatre off of the ledge and set him safely on the ground. He felt another grey scale coming.
"Oh, I see. You were lying to me."
Quatre said it in such a cheery way that the dragon felt really, really bad.
"Yeah, well," he muttered. "Serves you right for being dumb enough to believe me."
"All right! In future I'll remember you're a liar and I won't believe anything you say."
"Gah! Fine! I won't lie again, okay? Just…go to bed!"
Quatre skipped off to bed as the dragon soothed his frazzled nerves with whiskey. But the next day the subject of the missing heart came up again.
"If it's not in the cupboard, where is it?"
"Under the step. Shut up," mumbled the dragon, thoroughly engrossed in picking food out of his teeth. Quatre was scratching his back with a broom.
Later that day, as the dragon was napping, Quatre went out to the step with a bucket of paint. The lion watched him from the hedges as the prince splattered more paint on himself than the step, making him look like the victim of a serious stabbing incident. The dragon woke up, wandered outside to relieve himself, and saw what he thought was his horribly murdered pet. He screamed like a pre-pubescent girl.
"What's wrong?" asked Quatre, wiping the paint off of his hands.
"What the hell happened to you?" screamed the dragon.
"I painted the step!" the boy yelled happily. The dragon was torn between wanting to hit him and wanting to hug him.
"Why?" he eventually mumbled.
"If your heart is under here, it should be painted properly. It was only half-done before."
"My heart's not under the step," muttered the dragon, feeling the fury grow.
"Oh. Did you lie again?"
"YES! You got me, okay? I'm a dirty filthy liar! You happy now?" the dragon screamed.
"Not really," said the prince. "I spent a long time painting for nothing."
"You wanna know where my heart is? Huh!"
The dragon suddenly picked Quatre up and pointed him towards the sky. The lion in the hedge tensed, wondering what the enraged dragon would do next.
"Over those mountains is a church," he hissed. "In the church is a well, in the well is a duck, in the duck is an egg and in the egg is my heart!"
Then the dragon dropped the prince roughly on his tush.
"Go paint that if you can!" he growled, and stalked back into the house.
Quatre stood up, rubbing his behind and looking into the distance with an odd expression on his face. Then he followed the dragon into the house, where he was ordered to have a bath and go to bed.
But an hour later, the lion was shaken awake by the prince. The two of them left for the mountains under the moonlight.