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June, otter


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Ilianthene and the dragon
June, otter
 Ilianthene watched as the faerie kings and queens bartered with one another. They traded around their court members every century, and unfortunately for Ilianthene, that was now. Were she some high ranking faerie in the court of the Tylwyth Tag, she may not have been so worried. But she was a changeling. The priciest but most valued currency. And her queen was eying some of the Unseelie boys, and the Unseelie queen looked quite happy as she pointed to Ilianthene.

She slid off the rock on which she had perched and stalked away. Being a changeling was a double edged sword; she got away with almost anything she wanted to do in the court of the Tylwyth Tag, but when they grew bored with her, she would be thrown away. It was a miracle she had lasted sixteen years in the company of the queen as it was. A guard stopped her walk from the court exchange as she sought to go down by the river.

“You don’t want to go that way,” he said. “A dragon landed.”

A dragon. Well, that was interesting. Dragons and faeries, for the most part, left each other alone, as did many intelligent, immortal creatures. But in the world of shifting magic, not all beings such as dragons were immortal or even intelligent any more.

“I’ll only be a moment,” she said. “I just need to calm myself from the proceedings. I’ll return instantly.” One of the guards was Seelie, the other was Sidhe; they did not know her, and only frowned. “I can protect myself, even if I am a changeling.” She demonstrated some of her own magic, the very reason she lasted so long in the company of the queen, and both stepped aside.

“Don’t wander too far, mageling,” warned a guard. “And avoid the dragon as much as you can.”

“Of course,” she replied, slipping past them. She flicked her curly, black locks over her shoulder at him, and he winked at her. He would be truly angry when he found out that she could not be taken, the queen’s orders. Well, the Unseelie queen might have a different idea about that. She would just have to wait for the day to be done, and see what would be then. Ilianthene shrugged to no one but herself, as she walked down along the path toward the river.

She spotted the dragon resting on a hill just above the river. He curled in sleep and looked to be enjoying the sun’s rays as they poured over him, and so Ilianthene guessed it would be safe enough to go down to the river, and wash some of her sweat off her body, or simply spread out on the bank, and do as the dragon did, absorbing the sun’s rays. That seemed a lovely idea to her, and so she went down and did just that, settling into the cool earth near the bank and sprawling out. She closed her eyes and fell into a light sleep, onto to be awakened when a hot mist poured over her.

Ilianthene opened her eyes, and saw the dragon standing on the other edge of the bank, the river was not so wide, here, and he stepped into the water approaching her. There was something…odd, about this dragon, in that he appeared as the dragons of old, and did not seem to have such the wild temperament as the dragons of the new age did, but he did not speak as the dragons of old did. He drew closer to her, and she admitted that she grew closer to him, until they met on her side of the river.

“Well?” she asked him. “Speak if you can.” The dragon chuckled, though she only heard the human like rumble in her head, the way many dragons spoke, and heard a wheezing growl with her ears.

“You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for one of yours to say that,” he told her.

“One of mine? A changeling, you mean?”

“No, a descendant of a man long ago from a place called Peverell,” the dragon said, climbing onto her bank, and sitting down on all four of his paws. “He was a proud man, and could hide from death. The wizards were growing in power then, making magic accessible to many. And he sought to curse the ancient dragons and turn them into a dumb race. Even dragon I breathed on would be struck dumb, and over time, many became violent. This would last until one of his decedents, in innocence, told me to speak.” He offered no thanks, and having lived with faeries for all the years she could remember, Ilianthene did not expect any.

“Fascinating,” she said. “So, the humans I came from, they were called Peverell?”

“No your line long ago turned into Potter,” he replied. “I watch you every few centuries. Imagine my surprise finding one among the faerie trades, as a changeling and a mage no less. Thankfully, you also had enough magic to make the command work. Unfortunately, I am now bound to you for lifting my curse. Your thrice damned ancestor knew what he was doing when he cursed me.”

“How long are you contracted for?” Everything in faerie time had its limits.

“Until you greet death with a smile,” he said. “If you don’t I move on to your son, or daughter, whichever you name your heir.”

“I’ll be sure to smile, then,” she replied. “Unfortunately, I am bound at the faerie court, probably the Unseelie at this point. You would not be welcome there.” The dragon huffed, smoke flying from his nostrils.

“Have you eaten their food?”

“I suppose I would have had to at some point,” she replied.

“Hmmm…it does make it more difficult. I suppose…everyone is currently part of no court until claimed by their new or old monarch, yes?” Ilianthene had never thought of it like that before.

“I suppose,” she replied.

“Then I bind you to me, as I am bound to you,” he said.

“YOU WICKED CREATURES!” the Unseelie queen screamed as she appeared in their wake. “I WANT HER, SHE SHOULD BE MINE!!”

“Negotiate faster next time,” the dragon replied. “She is mine and I am hers now.”

“You, girl, you will face death so many times, he will laugh in your face when he takes you,” the Unseelie queen spat at Ilianthene. The dragon merely laughed.

“No doubt, that was already in the works for her. Your threats hold no place here. Ilianthene, is it? Come, I believe we shall leave the faerie scorned. It should teach them for a century or two not to waist a changeling. Climb onto my back, child.” Ilianthene did so, and the dragon took flight and flew away.

He flew for miles over hills and moors, until, at last, they came to mountains, and the dragon landed inside of a cave. Inside, he allowed her off, only an old set of pillows, which she expected to be riddled with dust but were actually quite clean. The dragon settled down for another sleep. “When I wake, I will take you somewhere, where you can buy us clothing.”

“Us?” she asked.

“Child,” the dragon snorted. “You have much to learn. Sleep for now.”

The dragon woke her when the sun was new in the sky, and instructed her to dig through his horde for money. He said she would need a large number of the paper notes, as well as at least one hundred of a certain type of gold coin. When she had collected all she would need, Ilianthene climbed onto the dragon’s back and he flew them to a small town, but one that bustled with shops. He was able to hide in the countryside, while he sent her in to purchase clothing for herself, and for a man of certain dimensions.

Ilianthene thanked a few gods and the queen of the Tylwyth Tag when she walked into the town, because no one took great notice of her. It was a blessing, because her grey, gossamer gown stood out against the nicest of the human clothing. When she found a particular shop she liked, stepped in, found clothes that fit her in a number of different colors (a number of pairs, the dragon said it would be necessary), and dressed in a pair of blue trousers, a green chemise, and a green over shirt. She donned a long over jacket, grey in color and thanks to the queen of the Tylwyth Tag, and a pair of black boots. She paid for all of her purchases and then went and found a shop for men, and purchased a number of similar items for a man who the dragon had described.

She was hungry by then, and with the remaining money purchased a number of different pastries and some juice. The walk back to the dragon was no harder than the walk from him, though as she made all of the items weightless and bound together by magic.

The dragon rose up when he saw her returning, and suddenly, he was not quite a dragon…but shrinking. He shrunk down almost to Ilianthene’s height, and then began to grow more flesh colored, and then hair sprouted from his head, and fingers and toes replaced his claws. A man stood where the dragon had been. A naked man. Ilianthene had to examine him for a moment. He looked human enough if you avoided his eyes, which were as dark as coal, and his hair which was redder than any human’s could have been.

“Do I please you?” he asked.

“Yes,” she replied, handing over the bags filled with men’s clothing. He dressed, and while he did, she ate the morning pastries.

“Save some for me,” he said. “Transforming always makes me hungry.”

“I did get a few meat pastries, just in case you were interested.” They shared the bottle of orange juice between them and when they finished breakfast, the dragon took her hand.

“Have you ever done transportation before?” he asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “It was one of the queen’s favorite tricks.”

“Good, then I need you to transport us to a place called Diagon Alley,” he said, touching their heads together. She closed her eyes and received the images of the place, and how to get there, and where she might find it on a map. Ilianthene nodded, and squeezed his hand. A moment later, they were there. The dragon seemed to know what he was doing, and strode toward a building made completely of white stone.

They entered and the dragon pulled her off to the side.

“What are we doing?” she asked.

“Waiting, my precious changeling,” he said. “They will notice me, soon enough.” And he was not wrong. Several small creatures, seated at high desks—new goblins, Ilianthene recognized—began whispering to one another and pointing to the dragon and she. Finally, a troupe of the goblins dressed in armor approached them, and needed to do nothing more than to turn back around for the dragon to follow them.

They were seated in a room at a large polished table, where a goblin that appeared to be senior most waited for them.

“A creature like you should be dead,” the goblin said, barely after the dragon was seated.

“And creatures like you should not have started,” the dragon retorted. “Your ancestors in the wild of the faerie courts often sneer at you.”

“Why have you come?” asked the goblin.

“For this girl,” said the dragon. “She is of the clan Potter, once called Peverell. I require a blood test for her to see all that she owns.” The dragon slipped his hand into her pocket, grasping the coin purse and slid it down the table at the goblin. “Seventy-five of your coins which have not been seen for many centuries. I think you’ll find it an agreeable sum to do such a simple procedure as this.”