20 years after the end of the war...
Mooneyes and Duskbreaker both had one thing in common; neither thought of their son as perfect.
Of course, such a statement held drastically different reasons for them both. They knew the truth, their son, Midnight, had defective eyes that would soon lead into blindness when he would eventually approach his later years. But Moon could never see her little NightWing as a child with faults, it was simply the way he was born. She couldn't imagine loving him any less than a mother ought to; Midnight was the sweetest, smallest bundle of joy, always full of questions, love and a vast curiosity for the universe only a dragonet could possess. Every moment with him was a treasure, a wide space in her soul always ready to take in more experiences, just one more minute of Midnight being adorably and wonderfully Midnight, another minute of safety with her child, a joy that never dwindled from the moment those gem green scales emerged from his starry, night black egg.
But Moon was sure that if her mate had quite a vocabulary for their son, it would be vastly different and darker than her own.
He would never say so, but she could always see it in his eyes, his gaze, his actions. Every minute those forest green orbs were locked onto Midnightfleer, it was never a look of love. Any look of longing would be the ache of his son being imperfect, as if his circumstances would change if he stared at him long and hard enough. Dusk was a dragon with a drive for perfection, and leaving no room for flaw. Every conversation between father and son was incredibly short, and most days he would not even speak to him at all. Many a nights he would lash out for a simple mistake any dragonet would make, such as a misspoken word or a stumble.
Sometimes, Mooneyes wondered what her son's life would be like if she wasn't around to ward off his unharnessed hostility towards their own dragonet. A deep part of her ached, knowing Midnight's world would be a whole lot darker in that scenario, and not just because of his sight.
And so, she vowed to always be there, to protect him. To be the mother she was always meant to be, the protector, the lover, the holder of all things precious, the soul of her Midnight. So that he would never, ever be subject to the things Dusk may do to him when she such as looked away for longer than a minute. As long as Moon could be there, he would be safe. That's all that had mattered.
Such wishful thinking.
In the present time, as Mooneye's limbs and tail dragged across the dusty, murky forest ground, she wished she could just close her eyes, open them, and be back in their cozy den in the rainforest, roofed by sweet smelling twine that protected their heads and filtered in comforting strands of moonlight. She had never foolishly taken a walk outside when all the tribes were asleep, and she had never been kidnapped.
Firm talons gripped the chains around her wings and legs, and Moon could feel the blood seeping through the metal from how harshly they dug under her purple scales. The same bindings seized uncomfortably around her neck, causing each breath to be a chore, and the muzzle around her jaws prevented her from movement every time she tried to scream out. It had taken a bit of squirming around and fighting against the thin blindfold haphazardly thrown over her eyes to remove it from her vision, but amidst her panic she was able to pinpoint that the strong arms that gripped onto her own were unmistakably SandWing, or possibly SandWing hybrids. Those sandy yellow and dust brown scales remained unwavering as she continued to struggle, begging with all of her might in her head, let me go, let me go, let me GO. You have no idea how dangerous this is. I can't leave.
Such pleas were deaf to the ears of her captors, and of course she knew there was no changing a kidnapper's mind, but that didn't mean she wouldn't try in desperation. She had to go back, she couldn't let this happen, because she could already see the impeccable damage to their family that would soon come bounding. She had to keep them together, their lifeline could not be lost. Midnight could not be lost. But with each step the SandWing talons took her, further and further away from her territory, the stronger her fear became, the more lost her son was destined to be.
Eyes wide and wild with grief, Mooneyes thrust her head towards the darker growing sky, eyes locking onto the moons peeking beneath the low clouds, as if they could whisk her away and turn her captors into the dust of the earth around them.
Oh moons, please, please keep him safe.
Screwing her deep blue eyes shut, the mother NightWing succumbed to the hammering of her heart and her short, frantic intakes of breath, finally releasing her talons from their clenched position and allowing herself to be helplessly dragged. As soon as it had arrived hours and hours ago, all of her fight flowed out of her in one hopeless exhale. Midnight didn't deserve this. As soon as the SandWings as much as loosened their grip on her the slightest hair, she would escape them and return to what was rightfully hers, rightfully safe. She had to, she had to.
Images swam behind her closed lids, the events of this morning. Those moments that had seemed so calm and serene, just another day that she could enjoy her son's company and only worry about things she could control. It seemed so very, very far away now.
A tiny bundle of scales were curled up into her side, so tight it could have been mistaken for a little green armadillo. Mooneyes couldn't help but smile down as she watched his side rise and fall softly with the rhythm of his breathing, so small and tranquil. Even after seeing this exact wonderful moment every single sunrise for nearly two years, she could never grow tired of it. Grin still settled on her face, she gazed out of their tree-house doorway and into the forest, watching the red fiery sun rise up over the horizon, spreading its lively orange rays across the tops of the trees, dying them a rosy pink among the forgery. The only sound that could be heard were the songs of birds and the distant flapping of dragon wings, a slight but welcoming breeze every once and a while finding its way into their home, sweeping across the light wooden boards that were the small hut's flooring.
It wasn't long before the dragonet at her side awoke, a small grunt escaping him before uncurling and stretching his long limbs in front of his face, blinking the sleep away from his eyes. Moon let her gaze return beside her, her left wing moving to brush against her son's spines in several long, repetitive motions. The gem green dragonet settled for lying there quietly for a few long moments, seemingly allowing the drowsiness of the previous night to slip away. After a minute the dragonet's face contorted, and he began to look deeply troubled. Mooneyes stroked him with a folded wing once more, careful to avoid catching one of his large droopy ears with her wing talon.
“What is it?” She spoke, gently bringing Midnight out of his thoughts. He tilted his head up to look at her, the color of his bright green irises obscured by the white filmy substance over his orbs, and he blinked several times as if to properly focus in on her face. A guilty look was apparent on his features, adding a little wrinkle to his snout.
“Do dragons not like me?” He started, gazing back down at his talons, opening and closing his tiny claws. Moon knew what he was going to say next before he even finished. “...because of my eyes?”
“Oh, of course not...” Mooneyes was quick to reply, angling her neck so her face was closer to her son's, nosing his chin up with her snout. The familiar ache in her chest returned; she hated lying to him. But in reality it was a partial truth, regular dragons did not see Midnight differently, if anything he was extremely babied by the RainWings and hybrids. But one dragon however...
“Dada doesn't like me.”
The response was soft as he looked up at Moon with those big, cloudy eyes, pain swimming somewhere deep in their depths. After a second he adverted his gaze, but he wouldn't move his face away.
Mooneyes was quiet after that. She knew she couldn't lie about Dusk easily, but it's what she had to do these last couple of years. It's the only thing that kept the sun in Midnight's smile, the precious thing she wanted to protect most. She wasn't even sure if his young mind could even process the meaning of the word hate. She hesitated, fighting off a shiver as she thought of Dusk's piercing gaze, and it was harder to suppress when she imagined those eyes looking towards their son with malicious intent.
“He needs to get used to it is all,” Moon spoke after a long moment, fighting to keep her voice steady and sure of herself. She gave the little NightWing hybrid a smile, the most genuine one she could manage as she spread her starry wing out over him, tinting his green scales a deep lavender purple. After Mid still looked unsure, she continued, a lie that felt like wildfire as it slowly slid off her tongue.
“He loves you, Midnight.”
“Really?” His big adorable eyes lit up, as bright as they could with a gray film covering his sparkling gem irises.
“I'm sure of it,” She whispered, as if she had to convince herself of the same thing. No matter how many times she had to say it, it would always feel so, so wrong. She swallowed hard against the rock lodging in her throat, her smile for Midnight never wavering. Moments passed, and as soon as Moon thought the dragonet wouldn't respond, he did.
“Okay,” he huffed softly, finally moving his head and dropping it down to the talons in front of him, resting his muzzle. His big eyes locked onto the rising sun, now higher up in the sky, the oranges quickly fading to bright yellows as tints of blue at last made its way behind the spindly clouds, over the treeline.
Moon opened her eyes, and she could feel the burning of her tears as they crawled into her vision, unbidden and obscuring her view as she continued to be dragged.
She knew it wasn't Dusk's fault.
She knew that the pure-blood NightWing had grown up in that terrible underground volcano that the tribe had once called their home. His childhood years were spent under Queen Battlewinner's rule, being taught how to hate and how to kill and how to think terrible thoughts. Then he was suddenly torn away from the only home he had ever known before he had barely turned into an adult dragon, only to find that he was forced to bow down to a RainWing queen. Lost, angry, confused, and being stripped of everything NightWings previously believed. He had to get used to a life that was vastly different, not long after both of his parents had been wiped out by the sickness that apparently took many NightWing lives in that terrible volcano. Mooneye's heart ached for him. But it was the little ways he had changed, the ways he had shown her he was just a dragon in need of a home, in need of love, that made her fall in love with him. His passion for life, though vastly differing from her own, led to them wanting dragonets. It was because of this that Midnight was in the world, and the target of all her fears, all her griefs and suffering. But every time she looked at her son, she knew it was all worth it. It had to be, why else had the universe worked in this way? If Midnight were to die, why would the moons give her the joy of a child that wouldn't have more than two years on this earth?
Mooneyes shut her eyes once more, ignoring the sting of the tears rolling down her cheeks, dribbling down her muzzle due to the way her neck hung.
He had to be okay. She knew he wouldn't be, but he had to.
Closing her eyes was a mistake.
In a rush of a sudden, terrible adrenaline, a vision flashed into view, causing her lids to fly wide open and her expression to go completely blank. Fire scorched through her soul as an unseen force threw her head forward, and she let out a cry against the muzzle around her jaws. The SandWings by her sides let out surprised grunts, tightening their holds and stopping to watch her in surprise.
Dusk, with a snarl of disgust and a look of pure hatred. Pure, innocent blood of a dragonet being shed. Red against green, red against black. Roars of defiance, roars of triumph, roars of pain.
“NO!” Mooneyes screamed out against the muzzle, muffled as she could only yell around her bared fangs. She began to struggle with a newfound strength, jarring the SandWings side to side with such force that they nearly stumbled and fell, but they managed to keep their tight hold.
“YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, HE'S IN TROUBLE! LET ME GO,” she continued to call out with all the strength she had, throwing her head side to side as an intense panic flared in her muscles, her tail slamming against the earth and claws sinking into the SandWings' wrists. Despite everything they would not budge, hard set on taking the NightWing hybrid to their destination. In a moment's notice the three dragons were free from the tangling vines and clustering trees of the rainforest, and the sand dragons wasted no time in tightening their holds and taking off to the sky, an intense burst of air blasting in her face as their talons left the ground.