A Valentine's Day prompt I thought of, too adorable not to go for. :)


Wing Man


It was still early in my days of traveling, and I was still a young and overly excited explorer. In spite of my youth, I had already managed to befriend at least one or two dragons from each of our tribes, and I was already beginning to decide that I liked them and their wild ways better than my own kind. It was the entire reason for my third long journey away from Del. I had wandered happily across our country, learning its secrets from my winged friends for some time already.

And so it happened that I found myself in the land of the Lapis Lazuli, and sitting upon the wall of solid stone that surrounded the Shifting Sands. All I had planned for that afternoon was to sit there and gaze over the red sands, watching the star-spangled dragons hunting, and wondering about the history of the place.

But the resolve did not last long at all, because I suddenly found that I had very destined company. A young dragon alighted on the wall not far from where I was sitting, starling me from my thoughts, and then speaking in the voice of a male creature. A male creature with much on his mind.

"Greetings," he said pleasantly, as his kind generally does. "I couldn't help but notice you up here, all alone, watching us a little too intently. You are the human they are calling Dragonfriend, are you not?"

Always happy to make another friend, I smiled back at him, as I might have smiled at another new human acquaintance were I a regular person. "Yes, that is me—Dragonfriend," I agreed. "I'm pleased to meet you. Will you join me for a time?"

The dragon nodded his head. "I would be glad to, thank you for the invitation," he said, settling himself beside me. We had only just met, but we already felt quite comfortable next to each other. Still, the dragon seemed to have a great deal on his mind and was searching for the words to explain himself. Instead, we sat in companionable silence for a while, watching as other dragons darted in and out of the sands as they hunted.

"Have you finished hunting for the day?" I asked after a time. "It seems like a good time for it. The sand beasts are plentiful this afternoon."

"No, I feel fine for the moment," the dragon answered slowly. "I will hunt later, when our hunting grounds are less… Crowded."

As he spoke, the dragon I knew best by now descended from the sky light a lightning bolt, hitting her mark with perfect precision. The sand beast she had been stalking so patiently had never stood a chance against her keen eye. In seconds, she had curled up on the warm sand to enjoy her meal. Unlike most Lapis Lazuli dragons, who disliked certain parts of the loathsome beasts, she went about happily crunching through every part of it—even the head and all its eyes.

As I watched her with a smile, the dragon beside me sighed. "She is amazing hunter, she," he commented. "She dislikes wasting any part of her catch. I have learned this by watching her on occasion, though I still haven't managed to learn what she calls herself. I dislike waste, myself. I admire that about her."

Finally, I began to understand him. I couldn't help grinning at him. "I know her well, myself. She allows me to call her Estelle."

"Estelle," he repeated, gazing back her in something like wonder. "What a beautiful thing to call someone. It suits her."

My grin grew a little bigger. "You fancy her."

The dragon looked back at me with his head tilted to one side. "Is that what humans call it? Very well, then. I suppose I do… fancy her. Huh. Well, it sounds strange to me."

"You should speak to her," I suggested. "Ask her to join you for a hunt, perhaps. She is as pleasant as any of your kind can be, and she certainly does love a good hunt with friends. She tried teaching me, on our first meeting, though I nearly got myself killed. We shared a long laugh over it, and agreed that I am better off up here, just watching."

The dragon became rather stiff, holding his head up as proudly as he could as he said, "That can be easier said than done. I have tried showing off my own skills during hunts, hoping she might notice, but she never does. Now I am afraid to try again. If she has noticed me by now, she might find my displays tedious, or offensive. I have no wish to make myself a fool in front of her."

I marveled silently over this. I knew the feeling well, myself. My own special talents were wasted on most of the pretty girls I had known in my life, and so I had largely given up trying. In fact, I went on to be generally terrified of pretty girls for the rest of my life. It was a wonder that our dragons, who were different from humans in most ways, could be so much like us, after all.

Perhaps we had learned some of our ways from the dragons, and had never realized it.

Though my own luck with women was nonexistent, I suddenly thought of a way to help my newest friend. Feeling comfortable enough to touch him, I placed my hand on his shoulder and gave him a gentle smile.

"I could speak to her on your behalf, if you would like me to."

All of his spines quivered with excitement. "Oh, would you? I would like that very much, since I can't seem to do it myself. What will you say to her?"

"I will tell her that she had an admirer who wishes to meet her. I can ask her meet you in a certain place, away from here, where you can spend some time speaking in peace. You can get to know each other then. Perhaps you will bring her a present."

"A present? Is that another thing humans do when they fancy one another?"

"Sometimes. The male will often bring flowers or beautiful trinkets as a sign of affection."

The dragon peered at me without understanding. "Why?"

I had to stop and think about that for a moment. I had never thought about it, and now it was a very good question. "Well, females like beautiful things, and flowers are always beautiful. Some of them mean certain lovely things to us."

The dragon snorted. "What sort of a present is that? Pulling nature away from the earth so that it dies faster is no present. It is distasteful. What was that you said about trinkets, though? That sounds much nicer. What sorts of trinkets?"

"Well, it might be a necklace or a bracelet, made of precious stones and metals, which the female wears to remember her admirer by. Nearly every woman in the world adorns herself with such jewelry, and another piece is seldom turned down. Though it occurs to me that dragons don't wear such things…"

"Indeed not," the dragon agreed. "It seems to say to me that the male finds the female's appearance lacking, and if she does not improve her appearance, then she is not worth looking at. Just the sort of thing humans would think of. And she does not need improvement. She is beautiful as she is."

I wanted to explain that these were not the reasons behind such gifts, but I knew that it would do no good trying to persuade him. Besides, that was a discussion for another day. There was already an important task at hand. I scratched my head, trying to think of other things lovers typically exchanged.

"Oh! Sometimes the male might give some sort of small treat—boxes of sweets or pastries, for example. Those with more money sometimes invite the female to share a whole meal. Surely that will work?"

"I like that," the dragon agreed, his eyes alight with ideas. "A present of food shows that the male can provide well, that he can keep a mate and young fed. And it is useful—unlike dead nature and adornments. You should tell this to all humans. Clearly, they are looking for mates in all the wrong ways. It seems a wonder any of them ever find a mate, doing all those other things."

I could only shrug. "I works for most of us."

The dragon also shrugged it off, and then looked very pleased with himself. "It is decided, then. You will ask her to meet me at sunset on the western side of the sands, where I will be waiting for her with something good to eat. What does she like to eat, besides the sand beasts? It will be a better present if it is something special."

I was weirdly proud of him. He was already thinking more like a nervous young human, off on his first attempt to court a girl. Hardly different from how I was at his age. Hopefully, his first attempt would go better than any of mine.

"She mentioned fish last time we met, though that conversation was brief. Her mouth was very full at the time. I can always ask and tell you later."

"Yes, please do. If its fish for her, then, I know right where to find them. Big and fat, full of meat, and the scales are very like the eyes of the sand beasts. She will like that."

He was growing more and more excited, fidgeting and anxious to go put our plan into place. He thrust his nose almost into my face, grinning in his dragonish way. "Oh, and don't forget to tell her about me. Tell her that I am a good hunter, faster and cleverer than any other. Tell her that I am the best hunter of us all! Tell her that I am the biggest and handsomest, too. That will impress her."

I pushed his snout out of my face, chuckling in spite of myself. "I'm not going to lie to her, and neither should you. You are not at all the largest, and you are handsome in your own way, but you are a fine creature as you are. She will like you exactly as I see you now. And if I fill her mind with lies, she will be disappointed when she does see you. She will not be impressed at all by that."

"Oh." The dragon wilted, his great head drooping. "Am I not handsome enough? Will she not like me because of that?"

"I think all your race is handsome, friend," I insisted, patting his snout. "But handsomeness is not always in the face. Much of time, I have found that it is in the heart. And you have good, full heart. It shows for itself on your face, and she will see that at once. It would be a shame to distract her form that with falsehoods, don't you think?"

"I suppose," the dragon grumbled. "I only want our first meeting to go well. She is so beautiful, and I am… Me."

"And what a marvelous you you are. Trust me, friend, she will like you as soon as she sees you. All you have to do is be who you are, and nothing more."

The dragon glanced back into the sands, where my friend and many others were still hunting and eating. There was a small crowd, and at the distance each creature honestly still looked alike to me. But the dragon looked at them and clearly saw many shapes, sizes, and ideas of attractiveness.

"If I am not the best in some way, she will not be interested," he commented flatly. "The best are the ones who mate and have young. If I am not one of the best…"

"I'm sure you are, in some way," I told him. "You are just young, and haven't discovered it for yourself yet. My mother and father told me so, too, when I was younger. They told me that the best thing to do is to be who you are right now. It's no use pretending to be something you're not, now is it?"

He turned his head back to me, eyes full of youthful doubt and hope. "Do you really think so? Or is that just another human thing?"

"I believe it applies to all creatures. Let us just be truthful with her, friend. She will like that far better than anything else."

The dragon thought of this for a moment, and then sighed. "It will have to do, then. And I suppose I can find the nerve to do that, in the end. Thank you for all your help, Dragonfriend. You are as good as the others have said."

"Thank you," I smiled back.

"Of course, I can't tell you my name… Not yet, at any rate. However, it feels to me that you ought to call me something other than just 'friend'. And you will have to tell her something to call me, too, I think. What do you think would suit me?"

I couldn't help but feel honored to choose a common name for my new friend. I sat back and considered what I knew of him so far, and decided in little time.

"I think Corona suits you," I said at last. "It means the same as 'crown'. What do you think? Do you like it?"

"The same as 'crown'?" the dragon exclaimed, grinning his toothy grin again. "I think it suits me very well! That will certainly impress her, and it won't be a lie at all."

With that, he spread his wings, nodding a quick farewell. "I am off to make a few preparations. As I said, I will be on the western side of the sands—outside the wall of rock—at sunset. I will be there waiting for you, when you finish speaking with her. I want to know right away what she says."

With that, he launched himself off the wall and veered away to the west. Once I was alone, I looked back into the sands for my older friend. She was just finishing her meal and was rising, shaking sand from her scales. Now seemed like a good time to speak with her.

Fortuna, I called in my mind. Fortuna, will you come join me? I have something to ask you.

I watched as my friend raised her head at the sound of her name. In short seconds she had taken to the air, only to land beside me where Corona had been before.

"I had seen you up here before," she said teasingly. "But by then another dragon had joined you, and I thought it rude to interrupt. How good it is to see you again, Doran! I have missed you."

I patted her shoulder lovingly, happy to see her, too. She was one of only a few dragons whose true names I knew. After our last misadventure together, she had decided that we were close enough to exchange that knowledge. It meant the world to me.

"You know, he and I were talking about you just now."

"Oh?" she asked, looking like she felt awfully important. "Only good things, I hope."

"All the best things, I assure you. It seems you have an admirer, and he wishes to meet with you formally."

"Is that so? Well, tell me about him, then. I don't believe I recognized him; but then, I was a little busy a moment ago."

"He calls himself Corona for now. He hopes you will join him at sunset on the western side of the sands, beyond the wall. He also wanted to know what you might like to eat tonight."

Fortuna now looked very flattered, perhaps even bashful. "How thoughtful of him. Well then, I should like very much to meet this Corona, especially if he has a few fine fish with him. Do you suppose it's much to ask for apples, too? I've only tasted them when you've brought them, but I've grown overly fond of the taste. And how delightfully crunchy they are! I have no idea where to find them on my own, though."

"That can be arranged," I agreed. "I know where he can get some, too. It sounds like it will be a nice evening. I must warn you, though, he admires you very much and will perhaps be a bit shy at first. He doubts himself, but all he wants is for you to like him. I don't think that will be a great feat, though. He is charming."

"Yes, he sounds charming. No one has gone to such trouble just for me before—except for you, of course. Oh, I can hardly wait for sunset to come at last. Please let him know I will be there. I will even be there on time for a change. I don't want to miss a moment of what is in store."

Fortuna and I spoke a while longer, catching up on what had happened with us since we had last met. As it turned out, it was all little of great interest; just the little things and small personal dramas that make up a life. She enjoyed listening to me complaining about cities and all that was wrong with them. I enjoyed watching as she tried to dig a sand beast's eye from between her teeth, where it was lodged like a kernel of corn, and didn't pester when she resorted to using her talons. As it goes with corn kernels, her tongue simply couldn't get the job done. I ate a lunch of my own, and offered one of the apples I had with me, but she declined. She didn't want to ruin her appetite and be bored of them before evening came.

An hour passed in this way before we finally parted, promising to see each other later. She spread her wings and flew to the south. I rose and walked along the wall toward the west, wondering if Corona would really be waiting there for me, of if he had grown impatient and flown off to make preparations on his own. Or if he had lost his nerve and given up. I knew I certainly had on occasion.

But no, there he was, just as he said he would be. He was certainly impatient when I spotted him, pacing in the shadow cast by the wall. He noticed me at once, and scrambled up the stones to meet me.

"You took your time, Dragonfriend," he greeted flatly. "What has she said? Will she meet me tonight?"

"Yes, she will," I agreed, amused by his impatience. "I'm sorry I took so long. We ended up lost in conversation. It has been a while since we've seen each other, and we had a lot to say."

"And you spoke well of me?"

"Of course I did. I told her only the truth, as I said I would, and she already likes the sound of you. She is looking forward to meeting you this evening."

Corona heaved a great sigh of relief. "This has gone very well so far, even though I've yet to speak to her myself. What else did she say?"

"That a few fish would make her very happy, as well as some apples."

Corona tilted his head again. "What are apples? How does one find them?"

"Apples are a type of fruit," I told him, digging in my pack for my last one and holding it out to him. "She loves them, but doesn't know where to find them aside from my pockets. Finding them is no trick, though. Humans grow the trees they come from in large groups and harvest the fruits when they are ripe, so there are plenty for eating and trading with others. There is one such orchard not far from here, and I've met the farmers once or twice. They would be happy to sell me a bushel or two."

Corona shook his great head in wonder. "I have learned quite a lot about humans today, and I understand little of it. What curious ways you have. Might I try this one, though?"

"I had hoped you might ask. Try it."

"…What is it like, exactly?"

"Crunchy and sweet, full of juice, with a few small seeds in the center. You will like it."

The forked tongue flicked out and snatched the apple out of my hand in the blink of an eye. It was a tiny treat to him, but his eyes grew wide as he crunched into its soft flesh.

"That is good," he said at once. "And they grow on trees, you say? I would want many of these trees, too. Perhaps I do understand, after all. Can you have many by tonight?"

"As I said, it will be no feat. If you took me there, it could be done in little time. I hesitate to ask, though. We've only just met, and I would hate to impose."

"No, no, it is quite alright." Corona knelt beside me and shifted his wings a bit, inviting to climb on his back. "It is a bit unusual, but it is for a noble cause. Come, let us go quickly! And after apples, it is to the river for fish. We have quite an afternoon's work ahead of us, Dragonfriend."

"There is still the whole afternoon before us, Corona," I said I climbed up. "That gives us hours to complete those simple errands."

"Yes, but I am excited, and I feel as though time is short. All must be just right when she meets us."


As I told the poor boy, there was more than enough time. We could have dawdled at every stop we made and still had plenty of time to relish our work. But Corona was beside himself with anticipation and insisted we be quick about all our work. He was so earnest, I couldn't think of denying him.

The farmers I had spoken of were in their orchard when we arrived, tending their trees, not at all expecting a dragon to appear on their property. I heard them shouting faintly in alarm; and as I made my way through the trees, I saw at once where they had abandoned their work and run back to their home. Half full baskets had been dropped in a hurry, and lovely golden apples were scattered in the grass.

It would have been easy to simply gather them up and leave quietly, but of course I would never have done such a thing. Corona would not have liked it, either. He was trying to impress Fortuna, after all, and such deceit would have made it difficult for her to enjoy her treats.

In the end, the farmers were as glad as I had hoped to sell me two bushels of apples, and even loan me a spare cart to carry them away. Thankfully, they did not ask why I wanted so many so suddenly; and I think if they had known the reason, they would have thought I was insane and never allowed me back.

(Just imagine how that conversation might have gone! "Oh, yes, I only need these apples to help a dragon woo a pretty girl dragon, in the hopes of mating and having young, just as humans might do," I might have told them. The idea of more dragons would have made them extremely anxious, and they would have wanted no part in making that dream a reality.)

Corona and I left the cart at the edge of the orchard, and he carried those bushels himself. The farmers wondered about it on our next meeting, but continued not to ask questions—for which I was very thankful.

Our next stop was the nearby River Broad, where Corona was thrilled to test his fishing skills.

"I have only tried it once or twice," he told me as he looked over the water. "I am not the best at it, and the sand beasts are much easier to hunt. But if it is fish she wants, then it is fish I will provide. We will not leave here until I have several to show for it."

We spent about an hour at the river until he was finally satisfied. I spent some of that time regaling him with tales of other dragon tribes who lived on our coasts, who mostly ate fish. Though he had no love for the other tribes, the idea fascinated him.

"If only I could see such a thing for myself one day," he lamented. "You shall have to tell us more tales this evening, when she joins us."

He had been speaking like this on our whole trip—we, and us—and it had begun to bother me. Finally, I had to clear my throat nervously and disappoint him.

"Corona, I am happy to help you, certainly. But you know I will not be part of the actual meeting, don't you?"

He looked up at me in vague surprise. "Of course you will be. This is our venture together. And she is your friend. Of course you will be there to meet her with me, and to introduce us properly. We will have a fine evening together, the three of us."

"No, no, that isn't the way this is done," I told him firmly. I will introduce you if you want me to, but then I will leave the two of you to have the evening to yourselves. These things aren't done in groups. It is only between the male and female; it is no one else's business what happens."

Now he looked frightened. Clearly he had counted the whole time on me being there for support.

"You can't mean to abandon me like this," he insisted. "Dragonfriend, I need your help tonight! You must not leave me!"

"Corona, calm down. I will be near at hand, but this is a thing you must do on your own. It is a time that comes to all young creatures, to leave behind what is safe and do something new. That is how young creatures become grown creatures."

Corona thought about this and then sighed heavily. "Yes, I suppose that is true…. I had not expected to do this alone. I thought you would be there to guide me."

"What good would that do you?" I asked with a laugh. "It would be as if I sprouted another arm. I need only two, and so an extra one would only be in my way. It would flop around uselessly and make a mess while the only ones I need were trying to do things. It would be there when I least needed it, which would be always. That is how it would be if I were in your business tonight."

Suddenly, Corona smirked. "You would be flopping around uselessly?" he asked with a snort of laughter.

Seeing that the idea cheered him, I let my limbs relax and flailed them around a bit, as if I were a child's doll being waved around. At this, Corona laughed at loud. It was good for him to laugh, when he felt so unconfident.

"I have been known to flop around uselessly from time to time," I teased, happy to see him more like his usual self. "Indeed, there are some who say that is all I do."

"Then you should tell them how wrong they are. Tell them that a dragon says so. You are extremely helpful."

He shook his head, trying to just accept everything, and then turned his gaze back on the river. "Very well, then. If that is the way these things must be done, then that is the way they must be done. I can't say it doesn't disappoint me, though."

Curious, I asked, "Do dragons do these things differently? If so, then perhaps I have been mistaken, and am sorry."

"No, that is the way we do things. I am only a nervous wreck, is all. Say, does that mean that humans and dragons do a thing in the same way?"

"Yes, it does. I have been marveling at it for a while. You remind me very much of myself, in fact."

In spite of his worries, Corona looked very cheered. His eyes had filled with inspiration and determination. His whole self seemed to light up.

"Let me catch one or two more of these lovely fish," he commented. "I have much to think about now, and much that I want to say when I meet her tonight. Somehow, I suddenly feel prepared for it."


By the time the sun was setting, all was ready as we liked it. There in the shade of the western wall, I had helped Corona arrange all the things we had found just as he told me to, and we soon had something lovely. I had loaned him the canvas tarp I carried with me, which I spread on the grass and then piled his catch in the center of. Fish is always nice, but not when covered with earth, we agreed. My canvas would smell of fish for weeks to come, but I never minded it once. It was a strangely pleasant way to remember my friends, and the adventures we had shared that day.

I even took out a few of the candles in my pack and stuck them into the ground for a bit of light. Corona had puzzled over this, until I lit them. The gentle glow was a new sight to him, and he was delighted by it.

"Human fire," he commented. "I have never seen such a flame—yellow and orange, and blue and white, all at once. Our flame is all the same color. I never know that fire could have so many colors."

"Estelle said the same, the first time she saw it," I told him, carefully calling her by the name I had given her. "She finds it just as marvelous as you do. I had never thought of fire that way before. Human fire. I like that. I will have to share it with everyone I know. What a fantastic idea!"

Now all that was left to do was to wait. Corona was pleased with his work and excited for the night to come, rather than nervous. However, as more and more time stretched by and the sun sank lower, he was growing impatient again. He dutifully scanned the sky in every direction, searching desperately for my friend. Wondering, myself, where she was, I dared to reach out to her.

Fortuna, all is ready for you. Will you be here soon? My friend here is a bundle of nerves to finally see you.

The reply came after a moment, from somewhere nearby, but seeming a bit delayed.

I will be there soon. I was just trying to leave now, but wanted to excuse myself first. Tell that Corona of yours to be patient with me, please. I am looking forward to meeting him, too.

Reassured, I glanced at Corona, who was still searching the skies for any sign of her. I wanted to tell him that she was on her way, but decided against it. He would surely wonder how I knew such a thing with so much certainty, and he didn't yet know that I knew her true name. It seemed rude to give that information without her permission, so I held my tongue. He would see her coming for himself in a moment or two, now.

Sure enough, a familiar shape came flying toward us from the south, and we both breathed a sigh of relief. I placed my hand on Corona's shoulder and gave him an encouraging smile.

"Are you ready, my friend?"

He nodded his head. "I have been ready for this for some time. I only had no clue where to begin to reach it. Thank you for all your help, Dragonfriend. It truly means the whole world to me."

"I was happy to be of help. I feel that you would now do the same for me."

"I would. We shall have to speak more of this another time, I think."

He was right. There was no time for more friendly words, because Fortuna had landed near us and was approaching us with a wondrous look on her face. Her eyes were wide at the sight before her, and at the dragon beside me. In fact, I don't know if she would have noticed me if I hadn't come up to meet her.

"Perfect timing, my dear," I greeted her. "Come closer, I want to introduce the two of you, at last."

The two dragons came closer and met on either side of me, both of them looking timid and shy to see each other so close for the first time. And to me, they both looked star-struck. This was going perfectly so far, and I was immensely pleased.

"Estelle, this is my friend Corona, who I was telling you so much about this afternoon. Corona, this is Estelle, but I believe you knew that already."

She was even more bashful than she had been before, and ducked her head a bit. "How do you do, Corona? It is a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for inviting me here tonight."

I had wondered what Corona would do next. I had wondered if he would be able to speak properly, or if he would stammer like a fool, as I had usually done. But he held his head high with no difficulty and met her eyes without hesitation. Indeed, I don't know if he could have looked away, even if he was terrified.

"How do you do, Estelle?" he answered politely. "And thank you for accepting my invitation. I have been waiting a long time for this meeting. I hope that you enjoy yourself."

I chuckled to myself and gave Corona a gentle pat on his arm. "It seems to me that the two of you have things well in hand here," I told him. "I'll leave you to your evening."

Fortuna looked down at me in surprise. "Will you not stay with us a while?" she asked.

"No, I'm afraid not, my dear. I am needed elsewhere, as it happens, and you don't want me in your way while you enjoy yourselves, now do you? The two of you have a good time, now, and behave yourselves."

With that, I took my leave; but not before patting her goodbye as well. She never would have let me leave without saying goodbye, of course. I turned my feet back toward the apple orchard, only an hour's walk away, where I had already arranged to spend the night. It took all my strength not to glance over my shoulder at my friends, but it felt better to me not to look back. It was now out of my hands, and in theirs. I supposed this was how it felt to see one's child off on one of life's great adventures. I had no idea what the morning would bring for them, but I was already quite proud of them.

I did look back in a different direction, to look at the sunset. It was a perfect view for it, and western sky was painted with brilliant color as the sun sank lower and lower. No wonder Corona had been so instant on that spot by the western wall. There were few better places in my mind to take a girl for the first time.

I might have lingered longer to gaze at the sky, myself; except that the sun was sinking rapidly now, and the light was fading by the minute. I wanted to be walking in the dark no longer than I had to, so I forced myself to keep walking until I reached shelter.

Then, I would gaze at the stars and think of my friends, who were undoubtedly gazing at the very same heavens.


It was well before dawn when something stirred in my mind, and woke me from my sleep in my hosts' barn.

Doran? Doran, are you nearby? He said you would be here. Where are you? We are waiting for you, here beyond the trees. Come to us.

It was Fortuna, calling me with eagerness and gladness in her mind's voice. I rose and crept through the trees, without pausing to pull on my boots. The early morning air was thick and close, and not as chill as it had been a week before. There in the pale light, beneath the faded stars, stood both of my friends.

I grinned to see them together. They made a handsome pair, and they certainly seemed to know it. "So, I take it last night went well."

"Oh yes, quite well," Corona answered at once. "And for you?"

"It was a night like any other. But tell me about yours! It seems to me that things have worked as I had hoped they might."

Fortuna laughed lightly and let her head rest against Corona's. "Yes, they have. I am glad that you brought us together. I like this one better than any other I have met. We exchanged our names in the night, you know. After a long time of searching, I have found the one I trust to be my mate."

"And I have found mine," Corona agreed, nuzzling her face. "And there is only you to thank for it, Dragonfriend. There is no word for thanks that can ever suffice."

I waved away his words. "There is no need for all that, my dear friends. It is thanks enough to see you together and happy. It is all I ever want, for those I love."

Corona nodded in agreement. "In that case, there is one thing I hope you will accept from me, as a token of our thanks."

"What is that, Corona?"

"That you no longer need call me by that name. I wish you to carry my true name, as does the mate who I trust with my life."

As much of an honor as it was, I was dumbfounded. "We only just met yesterday. Not even a whole day ago yet. Are you certain?"

"As certain as that the sun will rise shortly, and that your human friends will wake and panic to see me here again. Please, will you accept my name before that has to happen?"

I smirked up at him. "Is that a threat?"

"A joke, I believe humans call it."

I bowed my head in defeat, feeling very humble. "Of course I will accept your name, my friend."

He bent his head until his nose was nearly touching mine, and then spoke in the barest whisper.

"My name is… Rayune."

I looked up into his starry eyes and touched his face. "My name is Doran."

There was a brilliant smile in those eyes. "That is a good name. It suits you well."

I went on to have numerous adventures of my own after that. Fortuna and Rayune went on to take part in many of them, and we remained dear to each other's hearts until the end of our days. But that moment remained to my end one of the most beautiful and perfect moments of my life. Even in my darkest hours—even the darkest of the dark—memories of that moment would come to mind and renew my hope and my strength.

And when the three of us met again, above the clouds and away from the trouble and worries and anxieties of the world, that meeting brought all the joy of the first.




Word up—I don't know if this is where Rodda got the name from, but Doran is the name of a baby dragon in Dragon Quest IV, who joins your party near the end of the story and does useful, destined things because he is one of the last dragons of them all. So the fact that Doran prefers the company of dragons over humans has always made me wonder. I like to imagine that this is why that is his name, because it is too much of a coincidence to me. ;D

I've considered a lot of drgaon prompts recently, but this one was by far my favorite. I've wondered especially about the fact that most of them have watched their parents, mates, and even their children be slain, and that this bears exploration. Fortuna in particular has a very candid conversation with Doran about it in Secrets; her seriousness about it shows how deeply she feels more than anything else, and it hurts every time I look over that passage.

So I thought I'd just, you know, turn that into a Valentine's Day prompt, cuz that's how we roll at CrazyTwin Productions.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! :3