“Otherwise he’ll always be worrying about what she thinks of him. It’s her eyes on him that make him so afraid of his magic. He’d be much happier and less worried without her around. As would I, frankly. I don’t particularly like dragons who point sharp things at me.”
“Centuries later, as the dragon planet spun through space, a comet passed by, close enough to shine like a fourth moon in Pyrrhia’s sky. Close enough to change the tides and shake the continents. As earthquakes rumbled through the ground, long-buried rocks shifted that had been in place for thousands of years. Deep underground, in the darkness, copper wires snapped. And a dragon awoke …”
“What happens if the scroll gets destroyed? Is your magic gone forever?” “No, then it comes back to me,”
“A little farther down was the portrait of her that Darkstalker had painted, with what looked like a spiderweb of fireworks behind her. Only the two of them knew that was supposed to represent the intersecting timelines of the future. Unfortunately his skill at painting was nowhere close to Whiteout’s, and Clearsight looked a bit more like a horse with a hippo butt than she would have liked. She had politely refrained from telling him that. Listener”
“You're the one taking all the romance out of this," he said. "It's supposed to go, 'that was so brave, how you stood up for your sister like that!' 'Oh, that, what, no, it's what any dragon would do.' 'No, no - you're special. I can tell.' 'Not as special as you. There's a magic about you I've never found in any other dragon!' 'Why - why do I feel as though I've known you forever?' 'Because you have...and you will.' Fireworks! True love and happiness for the rest of our lives!”
“Coconut,” he whispered. “Um. Would you please go hit my grandfather?” The”
“As long as they avoided that fight about Clearsight’s timeline scrolls, and that other fight about Darkstalker, and, oh dear, all the fights about Listener’s crushes on various —”
“Prince Arctic?” A silvery white dragon poked her head around the door, tapping three times lightly on the ice wall. Arctic couldn’t remember her name, which was the kind of faux pas his mother was always yelling at him about. He was a prince; it was his duty to have all the noble dragons memorized along with their ranks so he could treat them according to exactly where they fit in the hierarchy. It was stupid and frustrating and if his mother yelled at him about it one more time, he would seriously enchant something to freeze her mouth shut forever. Oooo. What a beautiful image. Queen Diamond with a chain of silver circles wound around her snout and frozen to her scales. He closed his eyes and imagined the blissful quiet. The dragon at his door shifted slightly, her claws making little scraping sounds to remind him she was there. What was she waiting for? Permission to give him a message? Or was she waiting for him to say her name — and if he didn’t, would she go scurrying back to the queen to report that he had failed again? Perhaps he should enchant a talisman to whisper in his ear whenever he needed to know something. Another tempting idea, but strictly against the rules of IceWing animus magic. Animus dragons are so rare; appreciate your gift and respect the limits the tribe has set. Never use your power frivolously. Never use it for yourself. This power is extremely dangerous. The tribe’s rules are there to protect you. Only the IceWings have figured out how to use animus magic safely. Save it all for your gifting ceremony. Use it only once in your life, to create a glorious gift to benefit the whole tribe, and then never again; that is the only way to be safe. Arctic shifted his shoulders, feeling stuck inside his scales. Rules, rules, and more rules: that was the IceWing way of life. Every direction he turned, every thought he had, was restricted by rules and limits and judgmental faces, particularly his mother’s. The rules about animus magic were just one more way to keep him trapped under her claws. “What is it?” he barked at the strange dragon. Annoyed face, try that. As if he were very busy and she’d interrupted him and that was why he was skipping the usual politic rituals. He was very busy, actually. The gifting ceremony was only three weeks away. It was bad enough that his mother had dragged him here, to their southernmost palace, near the ocean and the border with the Kingdom of Sand. She’d promised to leave him alone to work while she conducted whatever vital royal business required her presence. Everyone should know better than to disturb him right now. The messenger looked disappointed. Maybe he really was supposed to know who she was. “Your mother sent me to tell you that the NightWing delegation has arrived.” Aaarrrrgh. Not another boring diplomatic meeting.”
“DOOM DOOM THE SKY IS FALLING MY FRIEND IS EVIL THE WORLD IS ENDING blah blah overreacting melodramatic nonsense. Darkstalker”
“Bite her! Bite all her claws off!”
“This white dragon had done something terrible that haunted him, and he might do worse someday.”
“Fathom curled his claws around the brown sphere and brought his snout close to it, feeling quite silly indeed.”
“Father’s eyes, like fragments of ice, studied Darkstalker’s every scale, and Darkstalker could feel the cold, congealing weight of Father’s resentment. “He looks every inch a NightWing,” Father growled. “Not a shred of me in him at all.” Suspicion,”
“The splitting up, I know, I know. I feel like the idiot that says, ‘Yeah I’ll go down to the basement alone to check out the breaker box, and I only have this one wooden match to light my way. Oh, and did I mention that we heard suspicious sounds down there only moments earlier?”
“If everything in life could be as utterly lovely as newly washed hand towels and daintily perfumed soaps.”
“That’s not what drew me to you, it was your eyes…and your ass.”
“The angel took a deep breath then huffed out hard through his nose, like an impatient parade horse.
"I returned because it pleased me to promise you, and to keep my promise. I returned to see what happened about your love troubles. That first night, the night we met, I'd only stopped here to rest. The rose bush I carried was heavy. Or, to be exact, its damp roots were. It was of no great height and pruned back to dead wood, little more than a bag of roots in soil. I dropped it when I caught you – when you fainted. And I lost it. But the year it rained and I went down to your house I saw that someone had found and planted it. The pink rose I carried from Denmark and was transporting to my garden.”
“I waited in vain for someone like me to stand up and say that the only thing those of us who don't believe in god have to believe is in other people and that New York City is the best place there ever was for a godless person to practice her moral code. I think it has to do with the crowded sidewalks and subways. Walking to and from the hardware store requires the push and pull of selfishness and selflessness, taking turns between getting out of someone's way and them getting out of yours, waiting for a dog to move, helping a stroller up steps, protecting the eyes from runaway umbrellas. Walking in New York is a battle of the wills, a balance of aggression and kindness. I'm not saying it's always easy. The occasional "Watch where you're going, bitch" can, I admit, put a crimp in one's day. But I believe all that choreography has made me a better person. The other day, in the subway at 5:30, I was crammed into my sweaty, crabby fellow citizens, and I kept whispering under my breath "we the people, we the people" over and over again, reminding myself we're all in this together and they had as much right - exactly as much right - as I to be in the muggy underground on their way to wherever they were on their way to.”
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