AN: Hello again! Long time no see! :) . . . , I went back over my old stories, and frankly, they suck. A lot. So, I'm going to FIX them! *beams* ... What? Why are you looking at me like that? Hmph. *glares at you*
Anyway. At first I only planned to redo and repost the original first chapter of Dragon's Blood (which is now reposted as Precious, by the way), but then I took a look at the rest of the story and just cringed. Sorry if you're a fan, but the original Dragon's Blood was in dire need of help. Everyone was horribly out of character (Selendrile most of all), the grammar was worthy of eyeball-gouging, and, well- yeah. It needed help. So, I edited a couple chapters of that before I got editors block (IT DOES EXIST!). Since then I've been story-hopping between that, my very first fic (Only Gods Can Change Stone; completely different fandom), and my current WIP, Suspension of Disbelief (also completely different fandom). Also, homework. Homework sucks. Anyway, long story short, nothing is finished yet, but I figured I might as well post what I have done so far. I thought I'd just be editing, but I'm basically rewriting the whole thing, so if you think you know Dragon's Blood, think again! Hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: I am VVV! I own the rights to Dragon's Bait! My hair is neon purple! But everything I say is a lie . . .
Apply above disclaimers to all future chapters, please. It doesn't belong to me!
WARNING: This chapter contains some gore (not really violence).
If You Don't Want to Fly . . .
Alys hurtled top-speed along the riverbank. Her arms were flung out at her sides, and she swerved and dove like a bird on the winds, laughing all the while. She grinned breathlessly over her shoulder at her best friend Risa, whose shorter legs struggled to keep up, and her heart was soaring along with her: all was well. "I'm flying!" she shouted happily to the world.
She stumbled to a halt and let her arms drop at the edge of the forest, when continuing would have required her to start dodging tree trunks. Still humming with adrenaline and excitement, she located a convenient, wide-trunked oak tree and collapsed at its foot with a grin, knowing that Risa would follow her example before too long. When she turned to look, though, her friend was nowhere in sight.
Alys frowned worriedly, sitting up straight to look around more carefully—but then recalled, with a suddenness that was startling, that Risa had been dead for years. So why . . . ?
I'm dreaming, she realized.
As if in response to the revelation, a familiar figure stepped out from the thick of the forest and approached slowly, amethyst eyes settled on her. She returned the dragon-youth's regard warily.
"What are you doing in my dreams, Selendrile?" she asked suspiciously, struggling (and not succeeding very well) to keep her awareness from slipping back into the muddling pull of Dream.
Selendrile looked at her with what might have been a smile—it was rather blurry, though, so she couldn't be sure. Apparently her mind had boggled at the idea of Selendrile smiling and chickened out at the last minute.
"I thought that you might like to go flying for real," he told her.
Alys grinned lazily up at him. "Silly," she said playfully. "How is it supposed to be real if this is a dream?" She was far more relaxed around Selendrile in her dream-state than she could ever be awake. This Selendrile was really only a figment of her imagination (and therefore under her control), after all.
The thought should have been reassuring, but suddenly the dream felt darker—and Alys was wary. After all, nightmares had to come from somewhere.
"Alright then, have it your way. If you don't want to fly . . . I'll give you a gift," he promised softly. Dangerously.
Alys shivered, making to back away—she didn't like this, this wasn't right—but Selendrile moved far faster than she could ever hope to, and, right before her horrified eyes, his nails lengthened and sharpened, turning into claws which he then used to slash a vicious, gaping hole across his own chest. His face was expressionless throughout, and his gaze remained steadily on her face.
Alys couldn't stifle the little cry of shock and revulsion that escaped her; any awareness that what she was seeing was anything less than real vanished. She couldn't look away for a long moment, morbidly fascinated with the sight of silver liquid pumping steadily out of the wound on Selendrile's chest.
Selendrile's voice, as steady and calm as though there were nothing at all out of the ordinary in this scenario, broke her out of her dazed state. "Come here," he commanded.
She tore her gaze from the blood to meet his eyes, blinking in surprise. "What?" she murmured hazily—then shook herself out of her shock. "Selendrile!" She was at his side in an instant, her stomach in knots. "Oh no—what have you done to yourself? Why did you do this?" the distress was plain to hear in her voice. "We've got to stop the bleeding!"
A hurried glance at their surroundings revealed that their supply sack had appeared at some point, and she was moving to retrieve cloth for bandages from within it when the grasp of burning hot hands on her wrists halted the motion.
"It's alright," said Selendrile unworriedly, still holding her hands captive. "It'll heal quickly enough on its own. Quick: drink."
She froze, stunned. Surely he couldn't mean what it sounded like? "What?"
He sighed, then transferred both of her hands to one of his so that he could use is free hand to direct her head toward his bleeding chest. Alys shook her head rapidly in a frantic denial, trying to pull away, but she was helpless to escape.
"No!" she gasped. Her struggles were ignored, though, and her mouth was guided inexorably to the wound (which, true to the dragon-youth's prediction, was already healing over at the edges). Silver blood slid over her shuddering lips and onto her tongue.
She stopped protesting instantly. Euphoria flooded her, her mind becoming lost in a state of hazy bliss, and power surged violently through her veins. She drank greedily, taking everything that he was willing to give—until the blood dried up, the wound sealing itself shut.
Alys blinked, the fog clearing itself from her mind—then tore herself from Selendrile's grasp, horrified at what she had done. The dragon-youth looked on, apparently unconcerned by either events or Alys' reaction to them.
When Alys looked down at herself, as though evidence of what she had done would show on her body, she saw that it actually had—she was glowing in luminescent silver.
"What am I?"she whispered to herself, frightened.
Selendrile heard her, though, despite the softness of her query, and for the first time, he showed some emotional reaction. His eyes lit with a strange intensity, and he reached forward pulled her against his chest with a low, possessive growl. Despite the newfound energy rushing through her, Alys was powerless to resist.
"You're mine," he hissed in her ear.
Alys awoke with a stifled gasp, her heart pounding in her chest. Her eyes opened slowly, and she sat up and pushed her blanket away, her gaze darting around the campsite as though to confirm its solidity—and that her dream had been just that: only a dream. She exhaled slightly in relief when she found that, yes, in fact, she was truly awake.
"What an awful dream," she murmured, suppressing a disturbed shudder at the memory of said dream. Her voice shattered the silence of the night jarringly, and she resolved immediately not to say anything else.
A glance up at the starry sky revealed the time to be, to Alys' judgment, about four hours before dawn. She sighed. Adrenaline sang through her body still: she wouldn't be able to sleep now. Perhaps she could calm herself down enough to fall back asleep for a few more hours, though. She hoped so; otherwise it would be a trial to stay alert in the coming day.
An automatic survey of her surroundings in search of something to keep her troubled mind occupied revealed something surprising: across from her, lit by the gently glowing coals of the campfire, Selendrile slept.
Alys had never seen him sleeping in human form before. He was always either gone or crouched, silently observing her nightly routine when she went to sleep, and when she opened her eyes in the morning he would be curled up in dragon-shape, generating enough heat in his sleeping state to be mistaken for a furnace. She had begun to wonder if he could sleep while out of his dragon form. Well, that was one question answered, at least. Quietly fascinated, she rose from her bedroll and cautiously tiptoed closer, careful not to make any noise that might wake him, until she was only a couple feet away.
He looked so . . . peaceful. Innocent. Sleep and the gentle firelight softened his arrogant, beautiful fey features, rousing unwanted feelings in Alys' breast and making the memory of her strange dream fade. Even with the softness, though, he was still himself—still a dragon, powerful and fey. Just somewhat . . . tamed. The dragon slept both literally and metaphorically.
Almost of its own volition, her hand stretched outward, towards his face, and took a single lock of long golden hair, sliding it through her fingers and catching her breath in wonder at the soft texture. There was an exhilarating taste of the forbidden to it, knowing that Selendrile would never allow the touch were he awake. But then his mouth opened just a tiny bit to release a sigh—and Alys, heart pounding madly, snatched her hand away like it had been burnt, holding her breath in fear of his waking. Her fear was for naught, though: his eyes remained closed, and his breathing steady. But something did happen: his lips twitched slightly. Alys, over her momentary panic attack, leaned forward curiously. And . . . he smiled. Just slightly—the tiniest curving at the edges of his mouth, but it was definitely a smile.
Alys couldn't help but smile in response.
What are you dreaming about? she wondered, but didn't dare voice the thought. Instead, she stood up and quietly made her way back over to her own bedroll, tucking the memory of his smile into the little treasure chest in the back of her mind where she kept her most precious moments.
She closed her eyes and huddled into her blanket, thinking of sleepy summer afternoons and Selendrile's smile. Despite all that, it took her a long time to fall back to sleep.
Days had passed with a speed that was dizzying, stretching out into weeks—then months. The first couple of weeks had been awkward—on Alys' part, anyway. With Selendrile, it was hard to tell. If he was ever awkward or uncertain, he never showed it. He always seemed to know exactly what was happening and what to do—while she would stumble and falter at the slightest hitch, he would go on confidently, allowing Alys to follow, relieved, in his wake. She'd never really contemplated what it would be like living with Selendrile—perhaps because before it had actually happened, the idea had seemed so impossible as to be ludicrous. If she had, though, she supposed that she would have imagined it to be something along the lines of exotic places filled with exotic animals, exotic treasures, and exotic people (the latter probably chasing them because Selendrile had eaten their exotic animals or stolen their exotic treasures). The reality was quite different. While they did do a lot of traveling, and Alys saw sights that she'd never dreamed of in her sheltered life before . . . everything, the dragon-youth seemed to prefer the wilds, and isolation. Save for Alys: she was always the exception. Every now and then he would give in to her pleading and they would stop at an inn for a hot meal and a bed, but more often than not it was just the two of them, a campfire, and the music of the wilds. She never regretted her choice, though: being with Selendrile, no matter where they were or what they were doing, was . . . marvelous.
Selendrile contended that it was annoying to have a human to care for, that she talked too much and she was always hungry, but as Alys got to know him better, she had started to doubt that he really meant it. She didn't know whether it came of his being a dragon or if it was just him, but Selendrile was one of the most stubborn, prideful people she had ever met. He had a terrible sense of entitlement, too: it drove her absolutely mad at times. The point was, however, that when Selendrile didn't want to do something, he didn't do it (unless Alys wheedled him into it. She was, as always, the exception). It came as a delicious thrill the day that Alys realized that, if he really disliked having her around, the dragon-youth would have ditched her long ago. Since he hadn't, he must actually want her there; he must actually enjoy her company (upon this realization Alys spent several days smirking smugly in true Selendrile fashion at said dragon-youth whenever a barbed comment was aimed in her direction, until, finally showing frustration, he snapped and demanded that she tell him what all the smirking was about. She responded by smirking at him).
She had also discovered the delights of traveling dragon-back, in the soft golden hollow between Selendrile's shoulder and neck. It had all the adrenaline-rushing excitement of being carried by the arms, with the advantage of keeping all of her limbs intact and attached to her body. The space was large enough that she could tuck her legs up underneath her and lean against the back of his neck to form a makeshift reclining bed if she wanted, but more often she would sit sidesaddle, as far forward as she could go, craning her neck around to watch the world around her in amazement as she used the dragon-youth's bulk to shield her from the wind. Riding astride wasn't an option; even if she hadn't been wearing a dress, his back was far too broad for that to be comfortable. She leaned in close to Selendrile's heated scales, watching the distant green countryside pass below her, and wished with all of her being that it would never end.
And there, that thought, was the bane of her happiness: because she knew that it would end, someday. Someday Selendrile would get tired of hauling a human around everywhere he went, or she would grow too old to be gallivanting about on dragon-back all the time. These thoughts, depressing though they were, only served to make Alys more determined than ever to make the most of this unconventional part of her life while it lasted.
She had agreed to stay with Selendrile with the full knowledge that the life she had known would be lost to her—probably forever. She'd assumed that she would miss human companionship, being around the dragon-youth all the time, but she'd accepted this as part of the cost of her choice. She found, though, that those moments were few and far-between: Selendrile, enigma wrapped in a mystery inside a puzzle that he was, was more than enough to occupy her mind, and unraveling the layers of his shell was more than enough to occupy her heart. She knew him better, and loved him more, with every day that passed.
But the very comfort that Alys felt frightened her at times. At the very moments when her new, strange life seemed to fit her the best, when she was the most happy and content—those were the times when the fear would strike. She was afraid to forget that she was human. She'd begun to feel like a fey creature herself: sometimes she thought she could feel the echoes of that wild energy she had felt in the dream of her and Selendrile by the riverbank, and when she looked down at her skin, she almost expected to see it glow. She wondered if dragons' blood was really silver.
When she progressed too far into this mindset, she would carefully, consciously, back away. She would take out her box of precious moments from the back of her mind, and draw out memories of her childhood in the village, of Risa—and most of all, of her father. His memory was what anchored her—how it had been when she was younger, and he was still healthy: his face creased up in a smile, his eyes shining with the love he gave her so lavishly, patiently reiterating to his frustrated daughter the sound that 'A' made. It made her heart ache with sadness—but it also reminded her that she was still human, just as human as she had been then.
Sometimes Alys' mind drifted back to that moment in the forest, when Selendrile had been chained and helpless on the ground, weakened by the iron—the moment right before she left: when she kissed him. He never brought the subject up, like she had feared at first; she was grateful for the windfall, but also fairly certain that the reason had nothing to do with any tact that Selendrile may have possessed. She decided, after some contemplation, that the dragon-youth probably didn't even know what a kiss was. If he had known, she was sure that he would take the opportunity to tease her mercilessly about it, in that aggravating blank-faced way of his. It seemed to greatly entertain him when she got angry or embarrassed, and he never failed to take advantage of an opening to tease or mock, riling her until she couldn't help but react. Of course, she couldn't seem to return the favor: despite her diligent efforts, the only emotion Selendrile revealed on a regular basis was amused condescension. Still, though, his actions spoke louder than words; she knew that he valued her, in his own way. And she thought that maybe—just maybe—he cared about her, too. Perhaps the inevitable ending she dreaded would be far, far into the future . . .
Alys tried her hardest not to think that far ahead, though. She just kept focused on what each bright new day ahead of her held: more riding dragon-back, well-earned bruises, pointless arguing with an opponent who always won—and before them, open skies.
AN: Don't forget to review! C: