[fun stuff!]

Why Dragons Sleep

[ part 1 ]
[
part 2 ]
[
part 3 ]

 

Why Dragons Sleep
By: Sforzie

Part Three

She was crying, as she had been for much of the last week.

"Mroo?" A warm nose prodded her hand.

Grace rolled over on her bed. "Go away, Fluffy."

The lava monster kitt shook his tail. "Mroo! Mroo! Mroo!"

"Shut up, Fluffy!"

Fluffy let out a little howl. "Mraaaroooo!"

Grace sat up in bed, throwing a pillow at the creature. "Shut up! Just shut up and leave me the hell alone!"

"Mroo." Fluffy didn't move. He just looked up at her with the same stupid, patient, adoring gaze.

She wiped at her eyes. "What do you want?"

"Mroo mroo." Fluffy nosed a box of tissues across the floor. "Mroo!"

Grace stood up, and then promptly sat back down on the floor next to her lava monster. She picked up the box of tissues.

"At least you haven't turned against me." She blew her nose.

"Mroo." Fluffy rested his chin on her knee. She petted the kitt, leaning back against the bed.

"I can't believe they let Mosite do that to him..." Grace scowled into the air.

"Mraar."

"I mean, I know that I barely knew Perzika, but... still!" She tossed the wadded up tissue at the door. "That doesn't give them any right to do that!"

"Mraoo!"

"I really cared about him... he was so sweet...and he went through all that, just to...just so I wouldn't have to marry Mosite."

"Mroo."

"And now I will anyway! And Perzy's been hurt because of it! Because of me!" She stifled another sob.

"Mroo..." Fluffy nuzzled her hand.

"I just want...I just want to see him again." Grace blew her nose again. "I wouldn't even care if I had to give up everything here. I just want to see Perzika again."

"Mroo!" Fluffy's ears twitched, and he looked toward the door. "Mrrr..."

There was a knock on the door.

"Grace dear, you're not still sniveling over that dragon boy, are you?" It was her mother. "It's been a week. Your time is up, you know. We said we'd give you a week to cry, but now we need to finish the preparations for your marriage to Mosite."

"Go away," she muttered softly. Her mother continued, apparently not having heard her.

"He's still bothered that this whole charade with the dragon boy even happened, but he's willing to forget and move on. Very gracious of him, Grace."

"Good for him."

"Now, if you're willing to be a good girl and behave for once, we'll let you out of your room."

"Bah.."

"Grace?"

"Alright," she raised her voice enough to be heard. "Just give me a few minutes to get freshened up."

"That's a good girl. I'll go let your father and Mosite know."

"Yes, Mother."

Grace waited until she heard her mother round the corner down the hall. She looked down at Fluffy, who was giving her a cute inquisitive look. It reminded her a bit of Perzika.

"Let's bust out of here, Fluffy," Grace said. She went to the bathroom and washed the tears from her face, and brushed her hair back into a ponytail. After gathering a few things in a bag, she turned to face the windows.

"Mroo!"

"Yes, the eastern window." The windows were sealed shut, but Grace had made up her mind. "Fluffy, go stand back over there, okay?"

"Mroo!" The kitt bounced a few feet away.

Grace steadied herself in front of the window. She drew back her right arm, and then sent her fist through the window pane. The glass shattered under the blow, its breaking boosted on part by a bit of magic. Blood seeped along her knuckles, but she took the towel that Fluffy brought her and wiped it off.

"Let's go."

 

"Grace..." A faint murmur, then a whimper of pain. "Gr...Grace..."

"Shh..." Leila Galena-clan sighed softly as she dabbed a small wet towel on her son's forehead. He was pale but seemed to glow with fever, his wings twitching every time some new phantom struck his body.

"But...Gra...aa...." Perzika clenched his teeth tightly, a little wing thrashing against the pillows. Leila frowned. She was no expert, but she could still feel something dark weaving its way through her son's magic field.

There was a knock on the front door downstairs. Leila ignored it.

"Ma...ma...." Perzika's body went rigid for a moment, then relaxed. His head drooped into the pillows. She gave a faint sigh of relief as Perzika fell asleep.

There was another knock downstairs. At first she ignored it, but the knocking continued. Leila hesitated, then, grumbling softly, carefully pushed herself up from the floor.

She heard a strange, chipper chirping bark as she approached the door. The knocking started again, but Leila flung the door open before the knocker got very far.

The woman at the door stepped back in surprise, looking up at the purple dragon. Leila glared down at her.

"You," she growled. "What the hell do you want?"

"Lady Galena-clan, please, I-"

"How dare you show up here after what you've done to my son!" She growled, baring her fangs.

"I'm sorry!" Grace cried, doing her best not to cringe. "I'm so sorry, I didn't know that they were going to do that!"

"The hell you didn-"

"I swear!" She was close to tears again. "Please, I'm sorry!"

"Then what are you doing here now?" Leila rumbled.

Grace looked down at the bag on her arm, then down at the little lava monster kitt cowering between her feet. Something between embarrassment and guilt crossed her face. "I...I wanted to see him."

"To hurt him again, I'm sure."

"No!" Her head snapped back up. "No, I need to see Perzika, please!"

Leila remained motionless. Her left ear was perked slightly, listening to the noises coming from upstairs. Perzika was crying out in his sleep.

A determined look set in Grace's dark blue eyes. "I swear, I will never let anyone hurt Perzika again."

The dragon turned her head, gazing down with her good eye. She hesitated for another moment, then sighed.

"Fine. You may see him." She took a step back from the door. "To be honest... he's been calling for you for the last week, and it's been somewhat tiresome...seeing you might ease his mind."

"Thank you, m'lady, thank you."

"Do not thank me," Leila said, turning back to the stairwell. "Thank my son."

 

"Gra...aa...ce..."

"I'll be outside the door if you need me," Leila said. Grace nodded, steeling herself against whatever was to greet her inside Perzika's room.

She entered, pushing the door shut behind her. The door clicked into place, and Grace forced herself to turn around. Perzika looked a lot worse than she had imagined he would. The curse had marked him quite thoroughly. His skin had gone pale, while looking bizarrely bruised in spots. A dark star shaped spot rested on the bare skin of his chest. He looked as if he were molting: little golden feathers were scattered on the sheets and the floor and tangled in the mess of his hair. Perzika's eyes were closed, but clenching in his sleep.

"Grace..."

"Perzika," she called back softly, moving next to the bed. A pile of towels were crumpled on the floor. "Oh, Perzika, I'm so sorry..." Grace reached out, touching his cheek gently.

He gasped, his eyes flying open and body stiffening as if he'd been stung. Perzika blinked a few times, clearing the sleep from his vision as he stared up at the silver-haired form looming over him.

"I must be dreaming," he whispered. She shook her head. "Grace?"

"Shh, I'm here, Perzy."

"Grace!" He trembled as he tried to sit up, a hand reaching for her. She closed the distance between them, leaning down and covering his torso with her own. She wrapped her arms under the base of his wings, and hugged the shaking blonde to her.

"Is that really you?" Perzika whispered.

"Yes, it's really me."

"Why...why're you here? Mother said...she said...said your family said..." He coughed, lungs seizing as he tried not to cry. "...that you didn't want me."

"They were lying," Grace whispered.

"Why are you here now?" he wondered again. She released her grip, lowering him carefully back into the pillows.

"I...." Grace looked at Perzika, smiling faintly. "I had to keep my promise."

He blinked a few times as she sat on the edge of his bed. "But....ur....you...."

"Hmm?" Grace brushed a few hairs from his face.

Perzika's brow furrowed. "Your parents won't be happy."

"I don't really care if they're happy."

"Grace!"

"I don't!" She leaned back, an irked look crossing her face. She blushed as she looked back down at him. "Unless you want me to go back home."

"No!" He coughed, fingers grabbing at the dark spot on his chest. "You don't really want to go back, do you?!"

Grace closed her eyes. "If I go back now, I could lie and say that I just came back here to say goodbye. And...then I'd just end up being married off to Mosite, just as they wanted."

"Grace..."

She looked down at him. "But Perzy, I'm not going to do that." She leaned over him. "I'm not going to leave until you tell me to. And if you tell me to never leave.... I won't."

A blush crossed his pale cheeks. Grace shook her head, resting her slender fingers over his. She studied the darkness beneath their hands. "Does it hurt a lot?"

"Ah..." Perzika tilted his head, following her gaze. "N-now and then. It sounds cheesy, but...it hasn't hurted as much since you got here..."

"That does sound cheesy."

"Mm-hmm..." He frowned. "Tell me what happened?"

"From what I've heard, it seems like Mosite planned on doing this to you beforehand. He...had my parents' permission...to take you out if you actually won the fight."

"Take me out?"

"It's called the Barrona black-line curse," Grace said. "Only a few smoke angel families know how to set it, the Barrona-clan being the first. Even fewer know how to remove it safely... The curse...merges itself with the victim's magic and steadily siphons it off into the air... The end result is that the victim must spend most of their time sleeping to maintain enough magic to stay alive..."

Perzika cringed, pulling their hands away from his chest. "It's going to kill me, isn't it?"

"It...it might," Grace whispered. "It's usually fatal for adult demons. I don't think...I don't think Mosite had actually intended to have to use the curse on you. He hit you in the back with it, but it must've went right through and ruptured those magic charms..."

"Can....can it be removed? Can the curse be removed?" There was panic sounding in his soft voice.

"I'm sure it can, Perzy...all curses can be removed, though not all safely..." She swallowed. "It might be possible, if we can find someone to do it..."

"But you'll probably end up blacklisted by most of the smoke angel sociality."

"That's right."

They both sighed.

The bedroom door creaked, grabbing their attention. A purple snout poked halfway into the room.

"Are you decent?"

"Momma!"

"Just checking," the dragon said in a sing-song voice, pushing the door open further. Fluffy was seated on her back, nestled between the folded gold wings. "You're not exactly wearing clothes, young man."

Grace blinked, looking down. "I-I hadn't n-noticed," she stammered, blushing darkly. Perzika was blushing as well. "Ur... is Fluffy bothering you, ma'am?"

"No, not at all," Leila said, looking behind her. "Quite well behaved for a little kitt."

"Thank you..."

"M'lady Grace, I was going to make lunch. Would you like something to eat?"

"If it wouldn't be too much trouble. Do you want help?"

Leila looked at her, then at Perzika, and smiled gently. "No, that's quite alright."

"Do I get anything?" Perzika piped up. Leila blinked in surprise.

"You're hungry?"

"I feel like I haven't eaten in a week...."

"That's because you haven't eaten in a week," Leila chuckled, turning away. "Yes, I'll bring something for you too."

"Thank you, Momma."

They watched the door close. Perzika shifted on the bed.

"Grace, could you get one of my cloaks?" he pointed over to a little closet.

"Well, sure," she got up, going over to the closet and pulling out one of the cloaks. The dark blue fabric tingled with magic. She handed it to Perzika, and he draped it over his shoulders. He let out a soft moan as his wings disappeared and the cloak settled on his back.

"Are you sure it's okay to do that?"

"I...don't really care," Perzika said, panting softly. After a moment he composed himself, drawing the cloak over his arms and rearranging the sheets in his lap. He closed his eyes for a moment, humming softly. "Mm, that actually does feel a little better. They've been twitching like mad, and driving me crazy..." He looked up at her, and patted the bed next to him. "Please, sit next to me."

Grace circled the bed and climbed onto it. Perzika watched as she crawled across the mattress.

"I can see down your dress when you do that," he said. She laughed, sitting next to him. "Closer." She hesitated, but then scooted closer. He grinned, leaning against her shoulder.

"You're quite forward, all the sudden," Grace noted. He shrugged lightly.

"I just...missed you." He took her left hand in his and looked at it.

"You barely know me, but you missed me...."

"It was kinda nice...I've never been in physical agony over missing someone before."

She blushed. "Are you sure that wasn't the curse?"

"Might've been that too." He shrugged again. "Hey, your hand..."

"Hmm?" She looked down at the one he was holding.

"No, the other one." Grace held it up. There was still a bit of dried blood on her knuckles.

"Oh, that...I just, y'know... had to break my way out of my own bedroom."

"They locked you in your room?"

"Well, yeah..." her voice trailed off as the door opened again, and Leila entered the room. Fluffy was where he'd been before, though he was now snacking on a slice of cheese.

"Getting cozy, I see," Leila said idly as she carefully carried a tray into the room. "You shouldn't start on solids immediately, Perzika. So, a nice sluu of cold Hiyaki-hen soup with extra pimo-pimo in it for you... and I didn't know what you liked, Miss Grace, but I hope these sandwiches will do."

"Thank you, ma'am."

Perzika was already starting on his soup by the time the door closed. Grace looked at him, smothering a laugh. He looked at her.

"What's so funny?"

"Mm, nothing...my mother's named Hiyaki, though. They said she looked like a little white Hiyaki chick when she hatched..." Grace picked up one of the sandwiches.

"Oh." He blinked, and gave a small, wicked smile. "Want some?"

"No, no, that's alright," Grace shook her head. "I'm allergic to pimo-pimo."

"S'that so," Perzika said. "I'll have to remember that."

They ate quietly for a few minutes, before Perzika suddenly stopped and put his spoon back down on the tray.

"Is something wrong?"

"N-no, not really," he shook his head slightly, leaning back against the headboard. "Just...need to take a little break, that's all."

"Oh..." She set her sandwich down on the tray next to his spoon, looking at him patiently. He blinked a few times, and gave a tired laugh.

"I hope it's not always this bad..." He lifted a hand, but he dropped it back to his side as it started to shake. "I feel so....bleh."

"I'm sure you'll get used to it in time," Grace said. "And eventually be able to function normally. You'll just have to sleep more."

"A lot more, by the feel of it," Perzika groaned. Grace picked up the bowl and spoon.

"Well, I'll be here to keep you company," she said, carefully collecting some of the blue-green liquid on the spoon. "Open wide."

"Graaace..." He looked embarrassed. She laughed. "Maybe I'll get a straw next time."

 

Grace was insistent, however, and eventually they managed to finish eating. Leila later arrived and carried off the dishes. After lunch, Grace had declared that she felt "overdressed" compared to her wilted blonde companion, and was currently going through her bag. Perzika was slumped back against the pillows, watching her with a not-quite-drowsy expression.

"I know what you need," she said, turning her back to him as she pulled her dress up over her head.

"Wha...what's that?"

Her long silvery tail curled in the air as she pulled on a pair of pair of shorts. Perzika stared at the black fabric in helpless distraction as she pulled a little loop up over the base of her tail. "You need another good wing massage." She fished a violet hued tank top from her bag and slipped it on. "It will help you relax, and generally feel better, and... it'll help bring your body's magic back into balance."

"Mmm..." He watched as Grace twisted her hair up into a ponytail. "...really?"

"I think so..." She moved around to Perzika's side of the bed. "Well, I read about massages in my lava monster training guides. But I'm sure they'd work just as well on demons as on lava monsters. Besides," she grabbed his foot, "You didn't complain about it last time."

"Last time...." He blushed. "Well...okay."

She helped him get arranged on the bed, and took off his cloak. The twitchy wings were revealed, and Grace nearly got smacked in the face as she sat behind him. Perzika had propped himself up with a few pillows.

"Just relax... think happy thoughts..." Grace plucked a few errant feathers from his hair, and took a few minutes to brush it back into its usual soft golden curls. "Next on the list is getting you in the bath. And maybe getting you a more comfortable mattress."

"I like my mattress," Perzika said drowsily as she grabbed the base of a flight wing and gave it a squeeze. "A-ah!"

"Sorry, I just love that noise."

"That's apparent..."

She worked quietly for awhile, kneading her way across several meters of wing, smothering giggles at Perzika's various contented moans. Grace was halfway through the other flight wing when Perzika lifted his head off the pillows.

"Grace?"

"Hmm?" She didn't pause in her massaging.

"I was thinking, and...um...." He let out a little moan. "C-can you stop that for a second?"

"Sure." Grace stopped, leaning back a little and brushing several stray feathers off her chest. "What's up?"

"I was thinking about it, and I realized I had said it, but never really asked you, and...y'know..."

She blinked. "What?"

Perzika leaned back, until the wing-weight grew too great and he flopped back into Grace's lap. He looked up at her and gave her a sheepish smile.

"Grace...will you marry me?"

She stared down at him in surprise, a new blush darkening her cheeks.

"Perzika.... yes, yes, of course I will!" She leaned down and kissed him. "It would be an honor."

"Smoke angels and their honor..." They both laughed.

"That's what got us into this mess, after all..."

"Speaking of which," Perzika squirmed a bit. "Could you help me up?"

 

Several days passed before a messenger from the Devantier estate arrived. Leila glared down at the nightmare phoenix courier. The purple dragon menaced a bit before allowing the courier to speak.

"I was sent here to find Miss Grace Devantier-clan," he said, tail twitching nervously behind him.

"I'm afraid you're mistaken, young man," Leila said. "There's no one by that name here."

"But her parents specifically--"

"Young man, I am assuming you can read, since you read your instructions on how to get here. Now, what does the sign on the gate outside say?"

The courier glanced back over his shoulder for a moment, even though the sign wasn't visible from the front porch. "Galena."

"That's right. Galena. This estate has belonged to the Galena clan for more that seven cycles. This is the home of the Galena clan, and you will find only such here."

"But..." The courier's bluish skin tinted with an annoyed blush. "... Miss Grace is here, isn't she? Her family has looked everywhere else."

Leila narrowed her left eye down at him. "Young man, are you accusing me of lying?"

"N-no..."

"There is no Grace Devantier-clan here," Leila said sternly. "Any Grace that might be here would have to be a member of the Galena-clan."

"I...see..." The courier frowned, taking a step back. "Thank you very much, ma'am."

"Hmph." Leila watched him scurry off down the walk, until he'd disappeared through the main gates. Closing the door, she noticed Fluffy sitting on the floor, giving her a curious look.

"Mroo mrrooo?"

"Ah, yes, that's right, the tea. I nearly forgot." The dragon padded off for the kitchen. "Come on, we'll take them some too."

"Mroo!"

 

Leila poked her head in the door after getting no response knocking.

"My, I haven't seen that much bare skin since I last looked in the mirror," she murmured, setting a tea tray on a table at the foot of the bed. Fluffy chirped softly in agreement.

Though, Leila thought, scanning the room, it did seem that someone had managed to finally get her still-drooping son into the shower. Perzika's hair was still damp, and there were several new wet towels crumpled on the floor. It was also apparent that the bathing had left Grace both soaked and exhausted. Her clothes were in a dark, wet pile on the floor by the bathroom door.

They rested, bodies twined together, though little was visible beneath the covers. Perzika gave a little snort in his sleep, face buried in the curve of Grace's neck. Her hands rested on his wings, soothing him even as they slept.

Leila briefly considered waking them for the tea, but, deciding against it, turned back and ambled back out the door.

"Pleasant dreams..."

The End.


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