Kallima scurried back to her room after dinner in an attempt to avoid attention. She recalled something Blaze said months before, that rumors were fires, too.
Well, the rumors about her were as wild and intense as a forest fire in the midst of a drought.
Shay, Mateja, Ignatius, and Amelia agreed that the best course of action was, again, to limit the damage done by what was obviously a failed assassination. The word made Kallima tremble. Assassination. The Noble twins wanted her dead, just because she was a dream fae. Now everyone knew, too. And, according to her book on dream fae, any action performed in a dream could be prosecuted as though it occurred in the real world.
Meaning that she was no longer allowed to give the twins nightmares.
This agitated her to no end. She would never actually harm them, but any dream-induced threat was a real threat. Ignatius went so far as to say that if they were not terrified of her, they would mark themselves up and make false claims. He then followed this with a sigh and, as usual, the proclamation that she needed “more time.”
So Amelia, who continued to surprise Kallima with what seemed to be concern for the tall fae’s safety, trailed the redhead to her room to protect her from any other would-be assassins.
“Really, Amy, I’m fine.”
“Mom and Dad said- Before they were taken away, they said that Reggie was going to get what was coming to him,” the young girl said. “That Jane and I were going to be able to have families and raise our kids in a better world. I think they meant you.”
Kallima bit her lip, unable to confess her role in their arrest while still feeling like a guilt-monster was eating her intestines. Instead, she just nodded briefly and stepped into her room.
Pressing her back to the door, she stared up at the repaired painting of her mother that hung over her desk. Ignatius had fixed the canvas well using alchemy, and all that remained of the gash now was a thin, scar-like indentation across the woman’s neck. Then Kallima’s eye landed on something else.
A large, pink ball, about the size of a bowling ball, rested on Sable’s desk. It held down a small bit of paper. Kallima hovered over it and read.
The Nobles want you dead. I’d never forgive myself if they succeeded. You’re going to tell me it isn’t my fault. You’re right. Doesn’t change anything.
Mama’s going to watch over you while I’m away. You’ll be okay.
Kallima whimpered and gingerly ran her fingers across the smooth surface of the ball. A dim glow blossomed from the orb and took the form of a young woman with huge wings who stared, horrified, at the teenager. Kallima shifted in place. Madelyn glanced around quickly, then returned her gaze to the redhead.
“I’m sorry,” Kallima said. “I didn’t even see her before she left.”
The rosy figure fell to her knees. She pulled her hair, shook her head, and wailed silently. Kallima’s lip quivered.
“I know. I don’t like Gavin, either. He’s evil,” she said.
The ghost nodded, grabbing the back of her skull and curling into herself. Kallima reached for the pained specter, shuddering at the cold tingle when her fingers passed through the woman’s hair.
“I’m scared for her.”
The figure nodded again, folding her wings around herself before disintegrating into nothingness. Kallima sighed and sat at her desk. She distracted herself from Sable’s mother with her homework. She managed to finish her math quickly and wrote most of an essay about the importance of knowing the different dietary needs of various reptilian cryptids. Interestingly, Jun had left dragons off the list, a fact that pleased Kallima despite Shay’s insistence that this was due to their gravely endangered status and not the kitsun’s personal beliefs. Still, she could not help the thought that people were becoming wiser to the dragon plight, nor could she resist a smile thinking that maybe, someday, Blaze would be able to see the world Kallima now considered her own.
And once Blaze entered her mind, she found homework impossible to focus on. The deep blush that crept up her cheeks distracted her too much. Surrendering to her bed, she asked herself what made her feel so strongly for the dragon.
Well, for one, she decided as she drifted to sleep, he was easy to talk to.
She wandered through her dream library, staring into the various orbs of various students, teachers, and staff, several of which only had names she had heard within the dreams gracing them. A few, like Shay’s, were black, signalling their presence in the waking world rather than the Dream Realm. Sable and others, on the other hand, possessed a foggy quality due to the distance between Kallima and the dreamer. She hummed, realizing suddenly that Amelia, Acacia, and Ignatius’ dreams did not grace her shelves. Rolling her eyes, she resolved to add them to her collection. Later, she thought with a chuckle. For now, she needed her dragon.
With the flick of her hand, she sent the orbs containing the Noble twins’ dreams off their pedestals and onto the shelves with the rest. The two stands melded into one as she focused hard on Blaze. His dreamscape drifted to the stand, shifting from black to color as the dragon fell asleep. Kallima gawked at the sighed.
Rather than his usual volcanic island, Blaze leapt from one rock to another in what seemed to be an asteroid belt. Stars filled the sky, and a pseudo-earth could be seen in the distance.
“Just lovely,” she breathed with a smile.
Inside the dream, Blaze chuckled.
“It is the beauty of the Dream Realm. It is what it wishes to be,” he responded to the disembodied voice. “Did you intend to join me, Kallima?”
Kallima giggled and, with a sigh, allowed the artificial world to pull her in.
For a moment, she simply floated. Her arms and legs flailed, but her body refused the budge. Then a massive force slapped into her.
The bronze and gold dragon snorted a hearty laugh and wrapped her in his forelegs. She snuggled into his chest, tracing the skin under his missing scale with her fingers while his warmth blanketed her. He nuzzled her hair with his snout.
“Are we doomed?”
“Mm. Perhaps. In the meantime, why not do what you do best?” Blaze suggested.
“Oh? What’s that?”
“I adore you.”
Kallima smirked and said, “I think I love you.”
“Why would you think that?”
“I don’t know. It doesn’t make any sense, does it?” Kallima said. “But you know all my little secrets. I’m more myself with you than anyone. Even with Hava- Mm.”
“What is it?”
“I’ve never called him ‘Havard’ before. He’s my da. He’s always been my da, but- I don’t know. Just now, I didn’t feel like he was my da anymore.”
“That must hurt.”
Kallima nodded, “Yes, but… Like a dull hurt. Not what I felt when I learned he wasn’t my real father. It’s almost as though it’s okay now. Heh. He made me promise that he would still be my da, and now I’m calling him ‘Havard,’ as if it won’t bother me so much if I abandon him first.”
The scaly form shifted beneath her, setting her down lightly on one of the asteroids.
“My parents were gone before I hatched. Alone was all I knew, and it still hurt,” said Blaze. “When the Lindons took me in, it helped. The only cure for isolation is to surround yourself with people who care about you. Now I am alone again.”
“You’re not alone, Blaze. I care about you.”
“That is true. You take my pain away.”
The dragon’s body shimmered and melted away, and a tall young man stood in his place.
His long, light copper hair was tied back in an eternal braid, and bright green eyes shimmered lovingly down on Kallima. His beige skin covered toned muscles and strong abs. He wore only loose, brown pants. Kallima rubbed her eyes.
“You look blurry,” she said.
Blaze, in his human body, frowned and pulled the tall teen to his chest. Kallima’s breath caught in her throat. She slid her hands slowly up his chest and around the back of his neck. Wrapping his arms around Kallima’s waist, Blaze dipped his face down and kissed her softly. Kallima’s face became incredibly hot, though whether it came from the heat emanating from Blaze or the rush of blood to her cheeks as she flushed, she was unsure. She pulled his lips to hers again for another smooch. The dragon-man chuckled and leaned back, making his ward whimper.
“Does my appearance please you, then?” he asked. “Even if I am blurry?”
He still used his dragon voice rather than his teenaged one. Kallima pouted as she realized what he was doing.
“This isn’t what you look like, is it?”
“It might not be.”
“Why can’t I see you? The real you?”
“You have seen my natural state, have you not?”
“Is that not the real me?”
“You know what I meant.”
“I am ashamed of my human form, Kallima. And I fear that you would recognize me. We are both safer like this.”
“What if I’m your emaga?”
“Einaga? That would be… just wonderful, Kallima,” the man said with a weak smile. “But also terrible.”
“Because of what you are. Who you are. Who your parents are, and what I am.”
“Oh?” Kallima chuckled. “And what’s wrong with my parents?”
“Nothing. Together, though, much.”
“I love your riddles.”
Blaze’s human eyes blinked in surprise at the girl.
“I love your fire,” he said. “You’re very passionate.”
“I love how much you care.”
“I love how accepting you are.”
Kallima smiled and said, “I love you.”
Blaze opened his mouth, but, when nothing came out, he responded instead with another passionate kiss. Lips parted, tongues touched tentatively, and a small squeak again escaped Kallima’s throat. The dragon pulled back once more.
“I believe,” he panted, “that my gender has gotten the better of me, Kallima.”
“Your wha-? Oh. Oh! Er,” the girl blushed, “I’m sorry…”
“It is not your fault. I have never been so close to a woman before,” Blaze said as he reached out to play with a strand of Kallima’s hair. “Physically or emotionally.”
“You see me as a woman?”
“A young lady, actually. Still. I wanted to give you fair warning.”
“Such a noble dragon…”
Kallima pulled her guardian’s lips back to her own, and her eyes fluttered shut. Blaze moaned and forced the couple’s hips together. Kallima gasped at the closeness. Her nails raked the dragon’s back lightly, making him growl satisfaction as he pulled back again.
“You know,” he rumbled lowly, “it is very difficult to ignore your desire when I have my own to deal with.”
Blaze hummed, pecked her lips, then began trailing kisses down her jaw before latching onto her neck and decorating it in love bites. Kallima pulled his hair from the braid and ran her fingers through it, pulling softly when Blaze’s tongue glided across a sensitive spot on her throat.
“You know… the beautiful thing… about dreams?” Kallima gasped. “Time. Time is whatever I want it to be.”
“Mm-hm. I was, ah! Reading. Time is weird in dreams. I read that if I fah-focus… Mm… Oo. I can speed it up. I can slow it down.”
Blaze pulled back again, brushing Kallima’s neck with soft fingers.
“Those will show in the morning,” he said, “won’t they?”
“Probably. But I want to try this time thing.”
“Very well. I must return to my natural state anyway.”
“You know, I think this might be working,” Kallima said with a grin, watching the huge stones pass more slowly than before. “I feel like we should be awa-.”
Kallima jolted upright at the sound of a bell. Saturday morning began. With a sigh, she fell back into the bed.
“Damn it all,” she said.
And she pulled the covers back up around her head, furious that her time with Blaze had been cut so short.