Weeks had passed since you first became a captive of Grima, the Fell Dragon. Initially you’d resented your imprisonment, trying multiple times to escape and failing every time, carried back to the caves in the large mountain where Grima dwelled.
He was always incredibly angry when he caught you, and in the beginning he’d threaten to eat one of your legs or burn your hair off with his fiery breath. But while he roared and snapped his teeth-filled jaws, he never actually did anything to hurt you. Eventually, he didn’t bother with the threats anymore, and would only give you an irritated look like a parent that was dealing with a difficult child. Then he would take you back to the mountains and curl up on the ground to sleep with you still clutched in his claws.
Aside from being his prisoner, you were treated surprisingly well by the dragon. Since letting you go search for food would take too long, not to mention give you the chance to escape, he did it himself, either by hunting game in the forests below or stealing from traveling merchants and villages.
When you asked why he was going to such lengths, he’d curtly answered, “I take care of my possessions.”
Grima was arrogant, haughty, and quick to remind you of his divine superiority, but he was clearly fascinated with you. He scoffed at your small, weak body with its miniscule lifespan, lack of magic and sharper senses, yet he continued to keep you in his company. He frequently sniffed you to take in your scent, bringing his large snout up against your body. In the beginning it terrified you, as you weren’t sure if this was going to be followed by him swallowing you whole, but you’d come to see it as the same sort of behaviour as a curious dog.
Of course you didn’t mention this to Grima, though the thought made you smile.
Once he heard you singing to yourself, and since then he had you do so for him. He didn’t care that you weren’t a professional and that there were better, trained singers out there--he wanted to hear you. Occasionally you told folktales and stories as well, and Grima would object at the depictions of ‘evil monsters’ while snorting at the supposedly heroic human characters.
You also both discovered that he very much liked the feel of you stroking his head. Your soft skin on his tough and leathery hide was an addictive contrast of textures that he had never experienced. He liked it better than your singing, but he usually had you do both. In his true form he was too large, so using his magic he would shrink down to the size of a horse and lay his head on your lap.
A considerable change from how things were when you first met--you going from prisoner to entertainer and carer of a dragon. This fierce, all-powerful dragon that had developed a strong fondness for napping by your side and being tended to like a pampered pet. Many knights and mages had been unable to defeat him, yet with some head scratches and a soft lullaby, you’d have him snoring on your thighs in a matter of minutes.
The skies were clear today and the afternoon sun cast bright shafts of light through the tall trees. You sat beneath the shade of one, with Grima in his usual spot on your lap. He was in a better mood today judging by the growling purr his throat was making, but you still couldn’t shake your current discomfort, which for once had nothing to do with feeling the vibrations of his purring against your legs.
You tried to shift a little without disrupting your captor, but he was already awake and turning his head to glare at you.
“Why are you squirming,” he snorted, his voice full of chagrin at being woken.
“I didn’t mean to wake you--”
“But you did,” Grima snapped, raising himself to stand on his front legs. “Why?” Even at this size, he still towered over you.
You hesitated and chewed your lip. You could have tried to lie, but Grima was far too good at seeing through you.
“Your head was heavy,” you finally admitted. “My legs were falling asleep.”
Six red eyes narrowed at you in disdain, but you continued.
“And your horn digs into my stomach--it’s uncomfortable.”
Hot air puffed from Grima’s nostrils. “Those are not reasons enough for you to stop,” he said, waving his tail over the grass in annoyance. “If you wish to stay alive, it’s in your interest to keep me pleased.”
“I’m not saying I--” you caught yourself mid-sentence.
I’m not saying I don’t like doing this.
Did you really think that? You didn’t want to know the answer, though it drifted to the fore of your mind.
“I just think that it would be easier for me to continue this if you were perhaps smaller or in another form… like a human one.”
Grima huffed and beat his wings. “I have already lowered myself greatly by becoming this pitiful size,” he sneered, “and you would have me sink even further by becoming human? ”
You shook your head. “No! No matter what form you take, it wouldn’t change the fact that you’re still Grima. But if you were in human form, it wouldn’t make me uncomfortable to hold you, and… and I could hold you in a way that I never can when you’re a dragon.”
You hadn’t planned on any of this happening. You could hardly believe your own words as you spoke them. You carefully studied Grima’s face, bracing yourself for an outraged tirade about what a stupid thing you had proposed.
But the dragon stayed calm, and made a grumbling noise before a violet light surrounded his body. You had to squeeze your eyes shut to keep from being blinded, as it became as bright as the sun. When it finally appeared to have died down, you opened your eyes…
And met two red, human ones.
In place of the dragon there was now a young man. Black skin turned into a black robe and garments of leather and cloth, with hair that was the same ivory ash colour as those horns that had been prodding you just a moment ago. His mouth was much smaller with fewer teeth, and his voice was not as loud or deep as before, but it still had that same air of superiority and general animosity as he spoke.
“Is this better?” Grima asked, his words more of a challenge than a question.
You blinked, then nodded. “Yes.”
“Then hold me.”
Grima folded his arms and stared hard at you. “You said if I took human form you could hold me in a different way. I’m in this wretched form now, so show me.”
Heat rushed to your face. Never had anyone this attractive wanted anything from you, especially something so personal, but you could hardly refuse at this point. You repositioned yourself against the tree trunk and swept imaginary dust off of your clothes. Despite being fully dressed, the sheer intensity of Grima’s scrutiny made you feel like you were naked. Again it occurred to you that that might not be so bad, and you struggled to banish that thought.
You held out your arms to him and said, “Come here,” making sure that you didn’t make it come out as a command.
Grima knelt down.
“Sit next to me.”
The heavy black robe Grima wore sent surrounding leaves and flowers fluttering as he turned and sat down. He huffed audibly, clearly still unused to being in this awkward, small form.
Grima remained suspicious, but he leaned back to rest his head on your chest. Through the layers of clothing, your flesh yielded to his weight. It was hard not to gasp as his warm breath fanned your skin.
“Soft,” you heard Grima mutter absently. There was a brief silence, then, “Your heartbeat is loud--and fast.”
You cleared your throat, embarrassed. “Sorry.”
“It’s fine,” he said, his tone gentler now. “This… isn’t bad.”
You felt the tension ease away from his form as he nestled in closer. With a tentative hand you started stroking his hair, and were amazed at how fine and smooth it was.
You hummed a random note, then another, and formed a simple, soothing tune. Grima mumbled something that you couldn’t decipher, though there was still a bit of that familiar purr in his voice. Minutes later, his breathing became slow and relaxed. He had fallen asleep.
You stopped humming and tilted your head to see him better. It was downright shocking how peaceful and innocent he appeared in this way, lacking any of the rage, bitterness or arrogance that encompassed him when awake. His skin was fair, and he had long, sooty lashes that reminded you of his wings. You were not sure you had ever seen anyone more handsome.
A beauty and a beast in one form.
The more time went on, the less you understood what exactly your relationship with Grima was. For all his superiority and rancor towards humans, he still took care of you better than anyone else had in your whole life. With him you were well-fed, dressed, and safe. No one else had ever made you feel safe.
Whatever direction this thing was heading, you were curious enough to continue there. As the warmth of the sun and the scent of grass made your own eyelids grow heavy, you placed your other hand in your lap and smiled as sleep claimed you.