AN: First, I have been so incredibly busy, that's why this chapter is several months late. Short version, I went to Japan, Christmas, got the flu, and moved to France. All in the past two months. So do please forgive me.
Secondly, I wanted to address something concerning when authors don't update for a long time. Please, please pleas please! Do not send us reviews saying "update?" or "why haven't you updated in so long?" or "you need to update right now!" because it doesn't help. Look, we know we haven't updated in a long time. Trust us, it's bothers the author too. But, reviews like that really don't make us move any faster. If you want to be encouraging, please tell us what you like! What makes you feel something! Offer constructive criticism. There are lots of ways to re-engage an author into the story. "UPDATE! RIGHT NOOOOW!" Is not one of them.
Now! Without further ado. Have some stupid dragon babies being cute.
She held the strand of perfect white pearls carefully, more and more jewelry had been appearing, sometimes ornately detailed and dripping in other jewels and others simple and elegant; like the cache of pearls she had just found wrapped in one of her favorite shirts.
Maka was always able to find pretty things in Soul's hoard and he never had a problem with her wearing them or displaying them more prominently. She had rescued paintings and had Soul hang them up, she had found yards and yards of fabric that she draped on the walls, there were rugs that she had unrolled to reveal rich patters and colors that she lay out on the floor to protect their feet from the cool stone. But recently small piles of exceptionally beautiful things had been showing up; they weren't exactly obvious, but she kept stumbling across them in places she frequented.
First, there had just been ribbons, then leather goods that felt as supple as butter, then crystalware that glittered in the light and held delicately scented perfumes. Stacks of books that she had only ever heard of but never even seen appeared in neat piles near the nest and scarves of the finest silk were tucked into the trunk where she kept her clothing. Gowns and dresses fit for queens were next, laying innocently by her whenever she woke up from an impromptu nap.
The dragon did not say anything, but he offered gentle smiles or even small kisses to the corner her mouth when she was particularly speechless.
She tried to argue with him, she was just a simple village girl! She had no need for such extravagance! Her tastes were simple and she did not feel fit to even gaze upon such beauty. But her dragon looked stricken each time she said as much, as though he were saddened that she did not feel worthy of his gifts. Her protests quieted, Maka was sure he meant well and she was flattered that he thought of her so highly.
It was the diamonds that could fit in her palm followed by the rubies, emeralds and sapphires that finally made her really confront Soul.
The jewels had been under her pillow as they settled in for a nap. At first she had simply thought that a blanket had become bunched, but when she felt something cool and hard, she knew she was in trouble. "Soul? What...what are these?" Maka pulled them out one by one, each glittering more than the last.
"Do you like them?" The dragon was lying on his side, watching her with his head propped up on a pillow. He had been looking forward to giving her these gems and seeing her face when she found them.
"They are beautiful, but what could I possibly use them for?" She stroked an emerald the size of her fist fondly.
Soul smiled at her. "Why do they need to have a use? Can they not just be pretty?"
"You mean like you?"
"You wound me, little one." He plucked the emerald out of her hand to inspect it as well. It was flawless and almost the same color as her eyes, though he preferred the warmth of her eyes to the cold depths of the gem. In his entire hoard, he had nothing quite the same shade of green. It had taken him hours of searching his hoard to find something even similar.
"But why, Soul? What are these for?" Maka had her suspicions and grabbed the emerald back to place it with the others an arm's length away. She wanted to know; her dragon seemed to be in a giving mood.
"You." He said as if it answered her all of her questions. Soul reached over to tuck a stray piece of hair behind her ear and regarded her for a moment. His magic rested over her like a blanket, content and beating with her heart. She truly was his greatest treasure of all. Her pout made him grin and pull her close, "I suppose I might be trying to impress you. Just a little though. Mostly I like to make you happy." He kissed her lips softly.
Maka's heart felt so full that she was afraid it might beat right out of her chest. "Dragon...Soul, you are quite silly." She kissed his lips and could not help but smile at the ease of the action. "I need nothing but you and your purrs while we sleep to make me happy." Her hand was gentle on his cheek while he blinked his surprise at her.
For all his life, as a prince and a dragon, he had never fathomed that there would be such a beautiful and kind woman who would care so much for him.
"Free, I have a job for you." Her voice made his stomach turn. "Now that the dragon has been located, I want you to see if he has any weaknesses. The more I know, the easier I can kill him." Ragnarok shifted behind her and rasped out what may have been a laugh. Free tried his best to keep from shaking. "Oh, and leave Eruka here, I have something else for her to do."
His heart sank.
Their goodbye was short; he worried about her when he wasn't around to protect her or even shift the blame. "I am strong, Free, and I will be okay. Just don't go getting yourself killed," Eruka and whispered to him.
"Do as she says, I will be back before you know it." Free wished to hold her or drop a small kiss to her forehead to reassure her, but they were always being watched, always in danger, and any such show of affection would just be used to hurt them.
"Go," was all she said, and he hated that he could head the fear and sadness in her voice.
He traveled at night, careful to avoid the town at the base of the dragon's mountain, and even went as far as trekking up the smaller mountain just next to where the dragon lived so there would be no chance that he would be detected. Free set up his small camp and cast his own spell, which enabling him to see across great distances and anything hidden by magic. It was an expensive magic, one that had cost him an eye, but it made him indisposable. It had taken him decades to master the magic, but as he scanned the mountain side, he quickly spotted the glowing runes that hid a cave entrance.
To the naked eye the runes would have been invisible, but to Free they glowed a bright red and danced across his field of vision. He settled in to watch that area for as long as it took to satisfy Medusa.
"Come on, little one! Do you have your boots?" he called from the mouth of the cave. Maka huffed and rolled her eyes while she pulled her boots on. She had been pretty sure that she had left them near her cloak, but they had not been there when she checked. Soul had offered to take her into town again, he had errands to run, which made her giggle, because really, a dragon with errands! But she was excited to have another chance to fly with him and to stretch her legs.
The cave was nice, warm, well decorated and had plenty of interest, but Maka was unused to staying in one place for so long. Even when she lived in town with her father, she would take long walks through the fields and down to the river near the outskirts of the town. She enjoyed taking as many different paths as possible and tried to go just a little farther than she had the day before on all of her adventures.
Soul, however, was more than happy to nap his days away in the cave. Though lately he was perfectly content to pull Maka against him and kiss her until she was a giggling mess in his arms.
"Coming, you silly lizard! You had moved them on me!" She darted up from the pillow she'd been sitting on over to her dragon. "Stop hiding my things."
"I only ever hide your books when you do not pay enough attention to me, little one. Not your boots, you do that to yourself." He grinned down at her and placed a little kiss at the corner of her mouth when she scowled.
"I still have not found three of those books, Soul." It was hard to keep from smiling; it seemed that given any chance to kiss her, Soul would. Maka swatted his arm lightly; she truly did want to finish reading the books and he was so needy sometimes.
She did greatly enjoy his affections though. It was hard not to, as his touch was always gentle and warm. Sometimes it was even hot and heavy in ways that made her shiver for something more. Soul never pushed her or took more than she was willing to give, but for every inch she gave, he worshiped her.
"Good, you were far too interested in those dusty old things."
"I bet you do not even remember where you hid them! Lost forever in that mess you call a hoard." Maka continued to lament the unfinished books he had hidden away as they walked out of the cave, but took his arm when he offered it to her. The day was beautiful, large clouds dotting the blue sky and a warm breeze played with the tips of her hair. She stole a kiss from Soul and let go of his arm to give him space to shift.
"Where do you think you are going, little one?" He caught her hand and tugged her to his chest. "Just one little kiss?" Maka giggled when he nuzzled her face and let herself melt against him.
"Such a mmm- needy dragon." He kissed her soundly in between her words and her smile.
Soul enjoyed taking his time when he kissed her, thoroughly tasting her and making sure that she was left breathless. He reveled in her warmth and affection: the gentle sighs and hitches in her breath when he tugged on her lower lip, and the way she looked at him afterwards with hooded eyes and her lips parted just so.
He wished to see how she would look when she came undone for him in their nest, how her skin would feel under his hands, and how she would taste. But he hesitated; his actions early on had scared her and tainted her thoughts of him so terribly that Soul was not sure what he should do. Maka had expressed her interest, however quietly and shyly, and responded to his touch so happily that by no means would it be difficult to move forward. But still, Soul did not push.
She was right though, he was a needy and greedy dragon. Soul craved her hesitant touches more than any gold or jewel. Her hands resting on his neck or wound into his hair to hold him close while they kissed, clutching at the front of his shirt or even at his back while she boldly leaned against him. There were moments when he so desperately wanted her that he would have to pull away to collect himself. Maka never let him go far; she held him so that he could hide against her neck and listen while her own heart calmed.
They had been doing this to each other almost every day and night for the past two weeks; Soul trying to follow Maka's pace and not overwhelm her while Maka tried to find the words to ask for more.
She finally pulled away from his kiss, panting for breath and cheeks flushed with color. "We should go before we distract each other further, dragon. You have errands after all."
"They could wait?" he offered with a grin.
Maka swatted his chest and stepped away, "but you have such important lizard errands!" Her voice carried her mirth.
Soul rolled his eyes and stepped back as well until he could shift without hurting her. Calling on his magic while imagining his scales and wings brought forth the mist that masked his transformation. It did not hurt, but when Maka had asked him to describe it to her one morning while they drank their tea, he had found himself at a loss for words.
"It..it is like remembering something. Or, no. Perhaps not. When I want my scales, I remember what they feel like, how my wings feel on my back. And when I want my skin I think of how it feels to curl my hand into a fist, how I walk. Does that make sense?"
Maka had nodded and continued to drink her tea.
The mists cleared and he stood before her, neck curved and wings extended. She smiled. He was magnificent. "And to think I once feared you." Maka did not hesitate when she walked forward to his head and pet the spikes above his eye gently. "Now come, we have lizard errands to run!"
Soul lay down for her to scramble up his leg and onto his back and grumbled happily when she scratched at the base of his wing. His little one really was quite little; he could hardly feel her weight when he got to his feet and unfurled his wings. He could just feel how she patted his neck, ready to fly.
The thrill of the dive until the sharp turn into the sky always made her heart leap into her mouth. As they had leveled out, Maka relaxed and allowed the felt a sense of freedom to overtake her; she had only ever found it while flying with Soul. It happened each time and it was not difficult to see why Soul loved to fly so much. The steady beat of his wings against the roaring wind, the way the trees grew smaller beneath them, and the warm scales under her warding off the chill of the sky.
It was five days before Free saw anything of any interest.
Free watched as though he were standing hardly ten feet away from the mouth of the cave as a man with white hair walked out followed closely by a woman. She must have been the sacrifice the idiot knight had spoken of, she looked happy enough. Though Free was surprised that she was still alive, for even if the dragon had taken a fondness to her, he would have still eaten her eventually.
He was not expecting the dragon to lean down and kiss the woman, nor for her to smile so brightly at him in return. And then she kissed him! And what a kiss it was. Free felt bad to intrude on such a private moment and that their happiness would not last any longer than his mistress allowed it too. But to be able to report back that the dragon had such a vulnerability? Perhaps he could save his own beloved.
After watching the man step back and disappear in a mist only to reemerge as a dragon was as much as Free needed to see. He cut the spell and returned the same way he came.
Together they flew until they reached the river town where Soul had business. Maka enjoyed watching the way the sun glittered off the river and how it reflected the clouds. It felt too short before Soul began his gentle descent to a clearing along the river. He was careful to stay out of sight from the villages he visited, as he didn't need anyone making connections between dragon sightings and his arrival. Maka held on tightly, because though he tried to make his landings as smooth as possible, they were still jarring.
The river bank was soft under Soul's claws when he landed and skidded to a stop. Looking over his back, he confirmed that little one was still there and smiling brightly at him. And behind them were deep gouges in the dirt, let them enjoy imagining what beast made those marks! Soul padded forward until the ground was dry enough for Maka to dismount without splashing her dress with mud and lowered himself to the sun-warmed grass. He was half tempted to just nap there; the rustle of the trees and gurgle of the river were perfect noise to nap to and his business in town could wait a while, at least until the sun moved off his wings.
"Oh, you absurd dragon, you can not possibly want another nap. I swear, you are worse than a cat." Maka jumped off his back, lost her footing, and rolled into the grass, laughing at herself. Soul picked up his head to nudge her and make sure she was not hurt. "I am quite alright, Soul. I promise." She stroked his nose and giggled when his hot breath washed over her. "Alright, sleep if you wish, I'm going to pick wild flowers and play in the river."
He snorted but touched her cheek with his nose in what Maka assumed was a little dragon kiss and settled back down in the grass. There was little she could do when Soul had nap in mind. First though, she wanted her boots off so she could feel the earth below her. Maka sat on Soul's claw, it being the most convenient place to sit without dirtying her bottom and because it amused her, and removed her boots and socks. As an afterthought, she knotted her dress so it only came down to her knees, exactly as she had done when she traveled up Soul's mountain.
"Sleep well, Soul, I will not be far," Maka whispered and placed a kiss of her own against his cheek.
There were daisies everywhere she turned as she made her own path into the woods. Perhaps she should make a daisy crown for herself, or better yet for her dragon. Maka immediately decided that she would have to do exactly that. She began to gather them up while humming to herself quietly. There were other lovely flowers in vibrant hues of pink, purple, and yellow that Maka picked as well. The grass felt good under her feet and the day was warm with the promise of the upcoming summer.
When she was satisfied that he had enough flowers to make a crown for her dragon and herself, Maka wandered back to the river. Soul was still sleeping, the dappled shade of the trees just beginning to play across his back. He really was ridiculous, sleeping his days away and bothering her for attention when he was awake. Not that she really minded.
Maka sat on a flat rock in the river, the current just washing over her feet while she worked on the crowns. She made her own first to remind herself how to tie the flowers together and soon she was weaving without issue. It was done in no time at all and Maka placed it atop her head and set to making a much larger one to fit on Soul's enormous head.
His crown took much longer and used almost all of the daisies she had picked as well as some of the prettier flowers. But she was quite proud by the time she finished and quickly padded up to Soul's head and draped it over him. It sat a bit crooked and looked so adorable on such a fearsome creature that she could not help but giggle.
With a rumble, Soul cracked an eye to look at her, just what was his little one giggling at? She looked very cute in the little daisy chain adorning her head, and she appeared to be looking at him, but he had no idea what she was actually giggling at.
"Oh, Soul! You will have to forgive me, but I have made you quite precious." At this he cocked his head to the side and the crown shifted over one of his eyes. He blinked, focused one the blurry flowers in front of his face, then on Maka, even more confused. She tapped her own crown, "I made one for you too."
He shifted down into a man and the daisy chain fell around his shoulders and to the ground. "You made me a flower crown?"
"Well, yes. It was something for me to do while you napped. And I like flowers. I am quite glad winter is finally over, I miss how green everything is." Maka stepped close to him to straighten a few of the flowers resting against his chest and shoulders.
"But a flower crown? On a dragon? I'm a great and-"
"Soul, if you even think about saying 'terrifying' I will begin to laugh. And I will not stop." The seriousness with which she said this made him frown. "You are a kind and gentle man." He snorted and tried to protest, but Maka was already walking towards the town where they had meant to be much earlier. She turned back to look at him, "Though you may yet prove to just be a kitten after all!" Maka laughed and sprinted away and Soul gave chase while sputtering and trying not to grin.