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Midnight and Parvati

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She hated the rain.

The damp didn’t bother her much, and she rather enjoyed the rumbling of thunder.

But rain always meant intruders. It was really quite a nuisance, because normally people had the good sense not to venture inside the dark cave that was her lair. If they did, they tended to stay near the mouth of the cave.

Parvati didn’t really mind giving shelter to people in need – after all, she didn’t like to get wet either, even if her jade green scales did shed water nicely. However, it was a problem when they didn’t respect her privacy, when they began to explore deeper into the cave. Usually a few roars sufficed to scare them away, but sometimes Parvati had to be more aggressive.

Especially now, when the innermost cave was home to Parvati’s eggs. There were five of them, their shells gleaming like pearls even in the dim light inside the cave, with the faintest green tinge. Soon, they would be ready to hatch.

Parvati could hardly wait, even though she knew they would be vulnerable. For this reason, she coiled herself in one of the outer caves, where she could keep watch for intruders, where she could watch the rain fall. She rather enjoyed the clean fresh scent of the rain, enjoyed flying out when the moon rose over a rain-washed world.

She was dozing a little when she heard the sound. It was not a sound that she associated with humans. Instead, it sounded young, in need of help. Cautiously, Parvati crept towards the noise.

There was a small creature huddled pathetically just inside the mouth of the cave. Its black fur was soaking wet, with green eyes huge in its face.

“Mew,”it cried.

Parvati wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but she could see that it needed help. She reached out, and was gratified when the creature crawled up and settled against her. She could feel it shivering as she cradled it in her talons, and made her way back to her inner cave. Hopefully, it wouldn’t mind making a meal of scraps from her last dinner.

The scraps were quickly gobbled up, and Parvati wondered how long it had been hungry. Still damp, but now with a full belly, it came over to where Parvati had stretched out, curling itself against her side. It began to vibrate rhythymically, soothingly, as it fell asleep.

Parvati found it quite pleasant, as she also fell asleep.

When she awoke, the creature was still curled against her. Parvati had been trying to remember just what the creature was. She was fairly sure it was a cat – a kitten, really – and rather hoped that it might keep her company. Her mother had told her about cats, in the days when dragons had lived openly among people, and how the creatures often lived in people’s homes and caught mice.

Its fur had dried, at least, and it seemed quite silky, if quite underfed. When she stood up, the kitten opened its eyes lazily and blinked at her.

“I’ll be back soon, “ Parvati rumbled. “I have to hunt.”

“Mew,” the kitten replied.

With a last glance towards her eggs, Parvati headed towards the entrance of the cave. Somehow she felt safer, knowing the kitten was staying with the eggs.

***

The next few days passed quietly. Parvati had named her new friend Midnight. Midnight enjoyed frolicking about the cave, rubbing against Parvati’s eggs and grooming herself, occasionally venturing out towards the mouth of the cave to snooze on a sunny ledge. Sometimes Parvati worried that Midnight would simply vanish as suddenly as she had come, but the kitten always came back. She was quite content to eat Parvati’s scraps, to hunt Parvati’s tail as the dragon flicked it about, and to sleep at her side while vibrating soothingly. The kitten still said “Mew” every now and then, but she also made squeaks and chirps and the occasional “Mrrrow”. She seemed to enjoy Parvati’s rumbling as much as Parvati enjoyed her vibrations.

Then came the day when the eggs began to hatch. She had noticed that Midnight seemed to be watching them more intently, as if perhaps she could hear the miniature dragons scrabbling around inside their shells. Parvati kept a careful watch on the eggs as well, waiting for the first head to break through their shells. Hunting was forgotten, although she knew her babies would need food – but this first time, she wanted to watch them come into the world.

Finally, finally one of the eggs cracked. The sound was loud in the stillness of the cave, and she watched Midnight jump with surprise, then advance towards the egg cautiously, her whiskers extended , touching it carefully with her paw, then retreating. After a moment, the head popped out, a pale green much like the scales on the tip of Parvati’s tail. It craned around, then looked at Parvati and made a soft trilling cry as it broke more of its shell. Finally, the tiny green dragon sat in what was left of its shell, opening its eyes and gazing around. Midnight sat as she often did, with her silky tail tucked neatly around her paws, and simply watched. Parvati leaned over, touching her snout to the baby dragon’s snout, entranced by her first daughter or son.

Midnight advanced again, as one of the other eggs began cracking, and touched her nose to the baby dragon. It was smaller than the kitten, but seemed totally unafraid of her.

One by one, the eggs cracked, and the process repeated. Her babies were like a rainbow – pale green, deep red, dull bronze, sky blue and one deep deep blue, like their father – romping around and greeting each other with trills. The bronze one even tried to roar, and Parvati wondered how Midnight would cope when the small dragons started experimenting with their flames.

It wasn’t until the kitten came into the inner cave, dragging a lizard as big as she was, that Parvati realized she had left. She sat back on her haunches and watched proudly as the tiny dragons tore into their first meal. Parvati gave her friend a grateful glance.

Over the next few days, Parvati watched her babies double their size. Midnight kept bringing suitable prey into the cave, so it wasn’t until Parvati herself needed to food that she left the cave. Normally she would feel quite anxious about leaving her children unprotected, but she knew that wasn’t necessary.

Midnight would be here watching them.