AN: I don't know how many people will actually find this, placed as it is in the Misc. section, but for all those who do: Welcome and enjoy!
Charlie Bannister sat alone in the empty classroom, thoughtfully chewing a sandwich. His sister and the others had wanted him to sit with them, as usual, but he didn't feel like being gawked at in the cafeteria today. He'd lived in Castlewood all his life; you'd think people would've just gotten over it by now.
This line of thought did not put him in a good mood.
Charlie looked up. A bespectacled girl stood before him, her head cocked to one side. Brown hair spilled from a messy braid. She seemed to be about his age. When her intense gaze remained trained on him, he realized he hadn't said anything.
With a quick, almost guilty look over his shoulder, he nodded slightly and mumbled a greeting. He felt rather than saw her eyes shift when his did. A red flush, from anger as much as embarrassment, crawled up his neck. His jaw clenched.
"Right, anyways," The girl met his eyes again, "I was just passing by, I saw you, and I was thinking that you're-"
"A dragon kid?" he growled, his chin jutting forward. He folded his arms across his chest. "How long it'd take you to figure that one out?"
Her eyes widened, and she actually took a step back. Then her eyebrows lowered in a glare and she retorted, "I was about to say that I think you're in my history class. I forgot to write down the homework and I thought you could tell me!"
Now Charlie's entire face was red. "Oh." He scraped a hand across his face. He couldn't meet her eyes. "Uh, we have to take notes on chapter six and, uh, prepare for the debate on Friday."
The girl's voice softened. "Thank you." She turned to leave.
He lifted a hand. "You're…welcome." The minute the girl stepped into the hallway, he dropped his head into his hands and groaned.
Faintly, he heard the bell ring, but he didn't move, even though his subconscious was screaming that his next class was all the way across the school. Why did he have to be such an idiot sometimes?
Having no answer to that question, he finally scooped up his backpack and hurried to fifth period, hoping he could sneak in without Mrs. Meyer noticing. A difficult thing to do for a guy with dragon wings.
"You are dead."
Charlie looked down the length of his sword at the boy, breathing heavily. The boy stared defiantly back, his sword still frozen in the defensive position despite the blade hovering next his neck. For a moment, silence reigned. Then, simultaneously, their glares faded and laughter whooshed out of them.
Charlie lowered his sword and closed the distance between them. He gave the boy a brotherly slap on the back, which earned him one in return.
Fourteen year old Benjamin Bannister looked like a carbon copy of their grandfather Jared as he shouldered his sword, or at least a copy of what Jared would have looked like had he actually been a human teenager.
Charlie carefully tossed his blade to Ben, who took both swords inside to be cleaned. Charlie tipped his face to the fading evening sun, letting the crisp autumn breeze dry the beads of sweat on his forehead. He stretched his wings as wide as he could, easing out the cramps from holding them tight to his body while he fought.
Closing his eyes, he mentally reviewed the match. He hadn't sparred in months, and it showed. Though he'd technically beaten his brother, his moves had been stiff and jerky. The match had consisted mainly of Charlie desperately parrying Ben's bruising blows. For a fourteen year old, Ben was extremely strong. A whole head shorter than Charlie, Ben was nonetheless sturdy, just like their grandfather. And if Karen had been sparring, he thought with a grin, she would have pummeled the both of them.
Charlie had only managed to win by feinting and then ducking around Ben's parry, bringing his sword around in a quick chop that stopped a few inches from his brother's neck.
Plus, Charlie was the one panting like their dog Clefspeare on a hot day. Ben had walked off with a spring in his step.
As Charlie walked the short distance across the yard to the house, he wondered what the neighbors must think. Swordsmanship was not exactly a normal American pastime. But, then again, Charlie's family was decidedly not normal.
He slipped into the house, shuffling his feet across the mat, and paused as he passed the kitchen. He grinned. His mother stood inside by the stove. With a book in one hand and a spoon in the other, she stirred a pot of marinara sauce absently while her eyes traveled along the inky lines of the page. Knowing his mother, the thick volume was probably not a cookbook. The kitchen was not her preferred domain.
Quietly, he crept up behind her. With a sudden movement, he grabbed her shoulder, speaking as he did so, "Hey, Mom, reading on the job again?"
His mother jumped, drops of red sauce spattering the stove. She spun around, and Charlie jumped back to avoid being whacked in the face by her wings. When she saw it was him, she rolled her eyes and smacked him lightly. "Charlie, go do your homework."
"All right, all right." He started toward the stairs, but not before snatching up a couple pieces of chicken from a plate on the opposite counter. He popped one into his mouth. His chewing slowed, savoring the meat. He shoved another piece into his mouth; it was good. He instantly felt bad about his shock. His mother's meals were always…edible.
"Hey Mom, this chicken tastes…different."
His mother actually looked sheepish. "Karen was just down here helping me."
He ducked his head, unable to stop the huge grin that spread across his face. Of course. His twin never could resist a challenge, from running a marathon to cooking dinner.
She must have seen it though, because she rolled her eyes and pointed to the door, "Homework, now." But she had a smile on her face.
As he left, she waggled one of her wings at him in a wave. Charlie shook his head. Definitely not normal. But there was good reason for it. Charlie's mother was the daughter of a dragon. So was his father, for that matter. Charlie smirked. Well, his father was the son of a dragon.
The entire thing was extremely confusing; even Charlie got lost, and he'd heard the story since he was a baby.
Both his father's father and his mother's mother had once been dragons. Real dragons complete with the wings, scales, tails, and of course, the fiery breath. During the time of King Arthur, dragons were hunted almost to extinction, and so God gave all surviving dragons a human body to escape from the dragon slayers.
All these dragons went into hiding, blending in with the humans throughout the centuries. Both his grandfather Jared and his grandmother Irene married humans and had children, but since they both were dragons in the guise of humans, their offspring, Charlie's parents, were dragons as well. These offspring were fully dragon and fully human; anthrozils, as Grandpa Conner had dubbed them.
Charlie's parents looked like normal humans, for the most part. They retained some traits from their dragon blood, thus his father had the ability to breathe fire, and his mother had wings. And the two of them had passed along their dragon blood to their children: Charlie and his siblings.
The carpeted stairs creaked gently under his feet. When he reached the top, he tiptoed past the first door on the left; his father was working on a new painting. He continued to his room, flopping down on his bed. The books and notebooks he had earlier tossed there bounced in time with his body.
Charlie took one glance at the numbers, exponents, derivatives, and roots on the first worksheet and grimaced. Calculus. When his cousins came as they inevitably would, he'd have to ask for help. Hannah may have been a year younger, but she was already smarter than he'd ever be, a trait she'd inherited from her mother.
Charlie flipped to the next page. English. He set that page aside as well. Unlike his mother, he had no talent with words.
Chapter Six: The Protestant Reformation. That was more like it. Charlie eagerly pulled his notebook and pencil towards him and was soon lost in the world of sixteenth century Europe.