Some explanation is required.
So, I received an egg for winning a contest elsewhere on the forums. It was a former stone an animus enchanted to become a dragon egg, and the dragonet that hatched from it would look like stone.
I decided to take that one step further—what if she actually was stone?
And once I started writing I couldn't stop. I was kinda in a writing "zone". So all of this was written in one continuous rush over the course of two or three hours. Whew. It may be terrible. Whenever I try out a new writing style I lose the ability to judge my work.
Also there's a lot of telling and not much showing. It occurs in Future Pyrrhia, where I take liberties with Tui's world for plot purposes. So markers exist. Also a court system that is based on but does not work quite like real-life court systems, which helps since I have no understanding of law. Whatsoever. And possibly my geography is all wrong.
Hmm… bullying, murder, possible suicide, implied suicidal thoughts.
Originally the town in this fic was Possibility. Then I realized my locations and mapping and placement and geography were all wrong. And I was too lazy to fix it. So I changed the name. Pretend like Promise is somewhere between Mud and Sky territory.
The businesslike SeaWing near the end is my OC Laminaria. Quail is a name I received long ago (along with Shamrock and Ethereal) and only now found a personality for. The unnamed IceWing is an OC named Lustrous. I received Coal in a givaway and he is actually acting OOC at the end of this fic, but I figured dragons change as they grow up. Petra means "stone". It is likely not a dragon name but I couldn't think of anything else.
Influenced by the book Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli. Also the song "Awakening", by Aurora.
I should probably post this before my self-confidence plummets.
Everything Could Be Different
By Earlycrow44 (Flight)
There's a stone-scaled dragonet on the east end of the town of Promise.
Well, she looks stone-scaled. Certainly her scales are stone. Her eyes look like normal eyes but Quail the MudWing swears they're made from glass. He says he knows because he poked them once. But Quail also says that the sky is a giant dome and SeaWings are allergic to butterflies, so he's not an entirely reliable source.
It's possible that the stone-scaled dragonet's insides are stone as well, but no one's seen them. The stone-scaled dragonet doesn't talk. She can—they know she can because she screamed for help when Coal the NightWing dangled her over the river—but she, for unknown but oft-guessed-at reasons, prefers not to open her mouth.
So, there's a stone-scaled dragonet in the east end of Promise. Possibly the -scaled part can be omitted, leaving only the stone. Possibly.
The stone-scaled dragonet answers to the name Petra. She probably chose it herself, because who knows what her neighbours would've come up with.
Dragons like to talk about the stone-scaled dragonet. They wonder why she's stone-scaled. They whisper about animus curses and tut and shake their heads. The other dragonets laugh and tease her and dare each other to poke her. The stone-scaled dragonet is famous. Or infamous.
The stone-scaled dragonet is heavy. She walks slowly and has trouble running. Her talons ruin carpet and expensive wooden floors. Her steps are loud and hard.
The stone-scaled dragonet is too heavy to fly. Sometimes you can see her sitting on the ground during her school's flying lessons, tilting her head up towards the dragonets in the sky. No one can tell what she is thinking but they say she must be jealous. Sometimes she watches from off to the side where she's sheltered from thrown things by the shade of the trees.
The stone-scaled dragonet can't swim. They know because when Coal the NightWing dropped her into the river she sank like a stone right to the bottom. They fished her out just in time. She hasn't gone into sight's range of the river since.
The stone-scaled dragonet is too slow to hunt. She can eat fruits and vegetables but without the handouts of her neighbours she'd have starved long ago.
Sometimes you can catch the stone-scaled dragonet on the outskirts of the village, staring off into the distance. Some dragons say that she wants to leave. Some say she would've left long ago but can't.
The stone-scaled dragonet resembles no tribe in particular. It's as if she's an extremely lifelike statue carved from a boulder with only the vague idea of a dragon in mind. She is stocky like a MudWing with an arrowhead on the end of her tail and long, serrated claws. Her scales are big, layered on each other like armour. Her wings are average-sized and always muddy from being dragged on the ground.
The stone-scaled dragonet is not pretty. Maybe her neighbours would be nicer to her if she was pretty. Her scales are streaky dull grey and dull brown and dun. Her underscales are a bit lighter but otherwise the same dusty colour. Her legs are not all the same length. She is always dirty, or maybe she just looks dirty. Her eyes are big and wide but one is a murky magenta and the other is a similarly murky violet.
The stone-scaled dragonet is not blind, but she has bad eyesight. She is always bumping into things. She's clumsy.
The stone-scaled dragonet is not deaf, but she must have bad hearing. Otherwise she would hear the whispered conversations discussing her and be offended.
The stone-scaled dragonet has no sense of smell to speak of, another reason she cannot hunt to save her life. No one knows if she has a sense of taste. She never eats in public.
No one knows if the stone-scaled dragonet can feel pain. In fact, there is some debate over whether she has emotions at all. The stone-scaled dragonet does not answer questions on this matter, but no one has ever seen her smile or frown or cry. However, she screamed when Coal dangled her over the river, so she must feel fear at least.
There is a game the graduating dragonets at her school play every year. It's simple.
There are no rules.
Time limit is from spring till graduation.
First one to make the stone-scaled dragonet scream again wins
No one has won in years. The stone-scaled dragonet fears the river, but she will not go within a block of it. She has no fire or venom or ice but is a good fighter. They wonder where she learned.
There is some argument over the stone-scaled dragonet's origin. This is another matter she refuses to answer questions on.
All they know is that she stumbled into the town one stormy spring day, looking no more than a year old. Likely less.
She was fed and led to a shelter and bombarded with questions. When she answered none and her scales were tested, the whispers started.
There is general agreement over the fact that she must have been abandoned, although some factions still hold that she ran away or was lost or murdered her parents or never had parents in the first place.
Some dragons say she is the result of hybrid blood mixing in a particularly unfortunate way. These are generally the same dragons who scorn couples that bypass tribe barriers and sneer at hybrids and still protest the law making inter-tribe marriage legal. These dragons are generally dismissed. No amount of mixing tribes will produce a dragonet with stone scales.
Some say she must have been cursed by an animus. There is argument over whether she was cursed as an egg or after she hatched, and further argument over why she was found wandering alone in the rain. Besides, animi are a dying breed these days. Those that have talismans are strictly monitored to prevent abuse of their powers. Those that don't have talismans don't dare perform enchantments for fear of going mad and being hunted down. And why would an animus curse an egg in the first place? Revenge? Theories abound.
Some say the stone-scaled dragonet is not a dragonet at all but some other creature.
The stone-scaled dragonet still refuses to say anything on the matter. Sometimes you will find her staring into reflective surfaces—mirrors, puddles, polished saucers, glass things, metal things. Sometimes you will find muddy puddles and shattered mirrors and dented saucers lying about.
No one calls the stone-scaled dragonet Petra unless they are talking to her, and sometimes not even then. She never seems like the sort of creature that has a name.
Some dragons are scared of her. They talk about her hard stone scales, her long talons, her unwavering murky stare. They say she's unnatural.
Some dragons are suspicious of her. They talk about her shifty looks, her lurking in the shadows.
The stone-scaled dragonet has no friends. She signs her assignments with "Petra" but never follows her name with her tribe. She looks away when she hands her work in.
One day, a group of other dragonets steal her math homework and write "the Rock Monster" after her name. The stone-scaled dragonet does not turn in her math homework that day. She stays inside during lunch period copying it onto a fresh piece of paper. She does not write anything after her name.
The next week they steal her science homework and do the same thing. She does not turn in her science homework on time either.
The fifth time it happens, the stone-scaled dragonet punches the ringleader of the little group of pranksters, the NightWing Coal, giving him a concussion.
She is suspended. No one bothers her after that. The whispers increase. Some dragons are angry that she's been allowed to stay at all.
The stone-scaled dragonet never defends herself against the accusations. Maybe she knows it'd be futile. Maybe she has stopped caring.
The stone-scaled dragonet, in a class assignment, is asked to write about a place she feels safe and why it feels safe there.
She writes that she feels safe when she is asleep but does not say why.
The teacher asks her to write why as well. She writes that she likes the feeling of nothingness between waking and dreaming.
The teacher refers her to the school counsellor but she sits silently through each session.
The stone-scaled dragonet comes to school only sporadically after that, as if she has decided to give up. When not at school, she can often be found curled in some nook or cranny, snoring.
One day her designated guardians poke around the tiny shack she calls home and find herbs for causing sleep. They confiscate them and scold her and wonder why they didn't notice before. By this point only check on her once a week anyways—she is six nearing seven after all.
After that, the stone-scaled dragonet often wanders the town in the night. Dragons light their lanterns at midnight and peek out their windows to watch her clomping down their street, eyes staring straight ahead. She never stops to talk to anyone.
Sometimes she goes to the river.
The stone-scaled dragonet has made a friend: it's Quail the MudWing. Everyone is surprised, to say the least. They are the main topic of gossip for weeks. Dragons tease Quail. His parents warn him away from the stone-scaled dragonet.
He does not stay away. He talks to the stone-scaled dragonet even though she does not talk back. He gives her his lunch when she forgets to bring hers and doesn't mind when she goes off to eat by herself. He calls her "Petra" even when he is not talking to her. He refuses to insult her. He sits next to her and tells her about his day and asks about hers.
At first the stone-scaled dragonet ignores him. They say she is suspicious, and with good reason.
But Quail refuses to give up.
He studies with her and argues with the dragons that call her names. He drifts away from the rest of the school, closer to her. He brings marbles to school and asks her if she wants to play. He asks for her hatching day so he can give her a gift.
Gradually the stone-scaled dragonet warms up to him. She plays marbles with him and shares her textscrolls when he forgets his. She passes him notes. Sometimes she smiles at his jokes. She gives him a gift on his hatching day.
Quail is the first friend she has ever has.
The stone-scaled dragonet starts coming to school more often. She stops walking the town at night. She stays away from the river. Sometimes she smiles. Once she even laughs. She is seen more often in public. She still does not speak aloud, but she writes notes. She has stopped staring into reflective surfaces as if they contain the answer to all things. She is found on the outskirts of the town less often. When flying lessons start, she watches from the ground as always, but her expression is almost content.
When a class assignment requires they write about something they are grateful for, the stone-scaled dragonet writes about Quail. She writes "Petra", just "Petra", at the top of her assignment, and meets her teacher's eyes when she hands it in.
The counsellor tells her she looks happier these days. She smiles at him.
Five months later, Quail the MudWing has a new story to tell.
He says the stone-scaled dragonet has told him where she came from. It's almost too—not exactly good, but unexpected. Almost too unexpected to be true.
Many dragons say it's not true.
But they gather around him anyways to hear him tell it. They also ask if the stone-scaled dragonet has stone insides as well, whether or not he saw into her mouth, but she did not tell the story to him aloud. She wrote it out on a sheet of paper.
Quail the MudWing is the most popular dragon in the school for weeks.
He embellishes the story a little every time he tells it, as he always does, but the facts remain consistent.
The stone-scaled dragonet's mother was a SeaWing who wanted dragonets more than anything else in the whole wide world. More than wealth or glory or happiness. All she wanted was a little dragonet she could raise and coddle and watch grow up into a fine young dragon who would one day take care of her when she grew old. She researched dragonet names and egg care. She loved her future dragonet as if he or she already existed.
Quail says the stone-scaled dragonet though she might have made a wonderful mother if things were different.
But the stone-scaled dragonet's mother could not have eggs. She and her mate desperately wanted children, but despite having been together for years and years she still did not have an egg. They visited doctors. They looked into adoption. It was all for naught.
The stone-scaled dragonet's mother was an animus, you see. And no one would let an animus adopt a dragonet, not even a talisman-less one who had never used her powers. Especially not a talisman-less one.
The stone-scaled dragonet does not know why her mother did not have a talisman.
Her mother's mate left her. She grew miserable. She cried herself to sleep. She bought scroll upon scroll about egg care and dragonet care and blurred their ink with her tears. She was always praying for an egg to care for, a dragonet to raise. She prayed to no one in particular—but she begged and wished and cried.
One day, she somehow acquired a stone shaped like an egg. Maybe she bought it, having finally decided that if she could not have a real egg she would settle for a stone one. Maybe she found it and thought her prayers to nothing and everything had been answered. Maybe she carved it herself.
And she, being an animus, being a desperate animus, enchanted it to become a dragon egg.
The stone-scaled dragonet wrote that she believed it was the only time her mother ever used her powers.
Her mother did not grow mad, but she grew unstable. She was placed under watch and required to have monthly checkups on her mental health. She did not care. She had an egg.
She nurtured it in secret, the little magic-made egg. She sang to it. She fretted over it. She made a soft little nest for it. She was the perfect mother.
The stone-scaled dragonet wrote that she thought her mother loved her once, before she hatched.
Whatever her mother had been expecting her dragonet to be like, it certainly wasn't what she eventually got.
Her mother tried to care for the stone-scaled dragonet normally at first, still in secret. She fed her. She talked to her. She taught her.
But she could not love a dragonet of stone.
She grew bitter. She stopped talking to her "dragonet". She avoided her. She hated touching her.
It was as if the dragonet of her dreams had been twisted and corrupted.
At first the little stone-scaled dragonet was scared and confused. She did not understand why she looked so different from her mother, or from the dragons in her scrolls.
But gradually, as the months rolled by, her mother began to tell her story. She told it in bits and pieces, muttered when she was in a particularly bitter mood, shouted when she was angry, forced out when she cried. She talked in her sleep. She told her long-gone mate she wished her dragonet was his. She told her dragonet she didn't love her. She talked of the past and worried about the present.
When she was seven or eight months old, her mother became more worried. She talked in her sleep about always being watched, never knowing who to trust. About failing her checkups because she was always getting emotional, always crying or shouting, sometimes both at the same time. When she was awake, she grew wary of exiting their home. She talked about how she could not longer support a creature who looked like a dragonet. She talked about how she didn't deserve to be saddled with the stone-scaled dragonet.
One day, she took the stone-scaled dragonet out to the banks of a river. It was drizzling. She told the dragonet to wait by the river until she came back.
She never did.
The stone-scaled dragonet waited and waited. She waited as the skies grew dark. She waited when thunder rumbled on the horizon.
Then she stood and walked. She walked and walked. She walked down and down the river until she found a town.
The stone-scaled dragonet doesn't know her mother's name. She doesn't know if she's still alive.
She wrote that she didn't care as long as she had a friend—Quail.
This is the story Quail tells to everyone who cares to listen.
The stone-scaled dragonet refuses to confirm or deny his story.
For weeks the town is consumed with debating and speculation. For weeks dragons ask Quail again and again to retell the story.
Quail tells it with fading enthusiasm as the days roll by. He still calls the stone-scaled dragonet "Petra", even when he is not talking to her. He still refuses to insult her and defends her from the dragons that do.
But she does not talk to him. She refuses to even look at him. When he is near she pretends that he is not there, as if she is one of those statues sitting before the library. She stops passing notes to him. She stops smiling.
The stone-scaled dragonet stops attending school and never does again.
She starts walking the town at night again. She always heads for the river first. She sits by its banks and stares into its depths. Sometimes she looks upriver.
She never attends school again, but during the graduation ceremony for dragonets in her year she is sitting in the audience. She watches as her classmates receive their certificates. She turns away when it's Quail's turn.
He chases after her once the ceremony is over. He calls that he's sorry. He begs for her forgiveness.
Later, they say she said three words to him. Aloud.
"I hate you."
Quail is unavailable for comment.
Her counsellor catches her crying by the river later that day. He asks her what's wrong.
He later says she threw a talonful of mud at him and ran. He says she was still crying when she fled.
Quail is found dead the next month with deep talonmarks drawn across his throat. His expression is shocked. The first dragon they detain as a suspect is the stone-scaled dragon. She is seven years old and no longer a dragonet. They take her to court.
The stone-scaled dragon pleads not guilty but refuses to speak her testimony aloud in court, instead writing it on paper. Dragons complain that this is not fair because it allows her to lie more easily. She is warned that any testimony she does not give aloud will be considered unreliable. She simply stares back blankly with those murky eyes of hers. She refuses to speak.
She writes that she was at her home at the time of the murder, sleeping. No one witnessed her there, but no one witnessed the murder either. Nothing of her is found at the scene of the crime. There is no blood on her talons.
They do not have enough evidence to convict her, so they let her go free.
But she is and has always been the most likely suspect. The case is not solved. Dragons on the streets eye her with fear and suspicion. They spit hatefully at her feet. She is pelted with stones and rotten fruit. Dragonets flee from her.
The stone-scaled dragon grows even more reclusive. She spends long periods of time in her shack. She wanders the east end of town, wordless and hollow-eyed like a wraith. She stares out at the murky green distance that is the swamps. She wanders the banks of the river. Sometimes gazing upstream. Sometimes into the water.
Her old teacher's expression is disgusted. Her old school counsellor turns away when she walks by.
The stone-scaled dragon grows thinner. She can't live on fruit and vegetables like a RainWing. Fewer dragons are willing to give her prey. She does not have enough money to buy much food. She does not have a job. She still cannot hunt. No one cares.
She begins to steal. Dragons shout at her when she nears their wares. She is reported multiple times and given several warnings. She does not heed them.
Two months after Quail's murder, a band of dragons that were once her classmates catch her at his grave. Led by Coal, they shout and spit and charge to drive her away. The expect her to run.
She does not run. It is one against ten but she stands her ground and fights.
She is a good fighter. No one has taught her, but she is skilled and strong. She brings down four dragons before the rest subdue her.
She is tried again, this time for theft, and violence leading to serious injury, and desecration of a grave. Some dragons call that she doesn't deserve a trial, that she isn't a dragon at all but a monster with a heart of stone. She pleads guilty on all counts and does not bother to defend herself. All of her testimony is on paper.
The six dragons that attacked her and are not hospitalized call for her life imprisonment.
Then they raid her home. They find it unkept, full of discarded scrolls.
But it also holds her journals.
They are presented to the court.
Her journals are full of darkness and hate and despair and hopelessness. They are bleak and bitter. The court considers. Dragons whisper.
Eventually it is decided that she is mentally unstable and suffers from depression, and so will be sentenced to three years in prison followed by constant therapy and monitoring. In prison, she will be subject to weekly mental checkups.
She does not smile when they tell her this. She does not frown when they tell her this. There is nothing at all in her eyes when they lead her away.
On her first day in prison, they give her a journal. She does not write much in it, especially not after she realizes that it will be read on monthly basis.
However, the very first sentence she writes is There was never any hope for me, wasn't there?
It is not a question that needs an answer, it's a question that already has one.
No one visits her or writes to her for months and months. The sole piece of news she receives on the outside world is in her second year of imprisonment.
A female IceWing has confessed to murdering Quail because he was on the verge of revealing a secret of hers. She will be sentenced to life in prison.
The stone-scaled dragon refuses to say anything on the matter.
After the news arrives, she receives a letter from her former school counsellor. He apologizes for believing she was guilty of murder.
She rips the letter to shreds. No more letters arrive.
It's dark in the prison, but her eyes don't mind.
She is finally released after three years in the shadows. When she steps out the doors of the prison the sun is so bright she closes her eyes.
A businesslike SeaWing tells her about her life from now on. She will be checked on twice a day if she remains within her home and will be constantly accompanied in public. She will be required to report for weekly therapy sessions. Over time, she may receive certain freedoms again.
The SeaWing offers her a journal. The stone-scaled dragon takes it, eyes dull, like old, scratched marbles.
The SeaWing tells that this is her new beginning. The SeaWing says that if she truly tries, she can turn her life around. She can fix her mistakes. She can live a long and happy life.
The stone-scaled dragon laughs, a harsh, grating sound. The SeaWing sees that the inside of her mouth is smooth pink stone. She does not tell anyone. It is not her way to gossip.
The stone-scaled dragon walks home alone. Her escort will arrive tomorrow. Dragons on the street watch her, some afraid, some suspicious, some angry, some pitying. Dragonets that were born in the time she was behind bars stare wide-eyed and crane their necks up to ask their parents what she is. The stone-scaled dragon ignores all of this. Sometimes she bumps into dragons. Her eyesight, it seems, has worsened during her time in the dark.
They assume her hearing is the same way.
As she makes her way down a broad, sunny avenue, wings dragging, she stops abruptly in the centre.
Dragons part around her and shoot each other nervous glances. Some make hasty exits. Some stop and watch, transfixed.
This is where Quail's body was found.
The blood has been cleared away. The sun shines on that part of the path just as it shines on the other parts. There should not be any trace of the murder.
But the stone-scaled dragon stands there, perfectly still, as if she is a statue before a library.
She tilts her head up to the sun. It shines in her eyes, lighting them. For a moment the violet and the magenta are not quite as murky.
The stone-scaled dragon exhales, a long, slow breath. She lowers her head to look at the ground and scratches something into the well-trodden dust of the avenue. Letters. Her talon lifts, dips, lifts, dips.
Then it stops.
She closes her eyes and slowly shakes her head.
Then she steps over what she's already written and walks on. Her steps are maybe a little less heavy than before, but only the most observant of the watchers notice.
The other dragons gather around the words she's carved into the ground.
Sometimes I wish
She has not written what she wishes for.
The crowd disperses.
That is the last anyone sees of the stone-scaled dragon of eastern Promise.
They remember her walking out of the prison. The SeaWing remembers her arriving for the briefing. Dragons remember seeing her on Butterfly Avenue writing something in the dirt.
No one knows where she has gone.
As with all things about her, they speculate on it. They gossip. They argue.
Some say she has left Promise forever. The say she has walked to the outskirts of the town and simply kept walking. Perhaps she's following the river. No nearby towns report a stone-scaled dragon, however. Some say she is still alive out there, alone, somehow managing to scrape by on whatever food she finds. Some say she has starved out on there on the muddy fens and boggy swamps.
Some say she has thrown herself into the fastest part of the river. They say she has drowned herself and let her body be washed away forever. Her former school counsellor remembers her crying by the river. He shakes his head. That night, he sheds a few tears himself.
Some say she is still in Promise. They say she is hiding. Dragonets tell ghost stories about her waiting to jump out at them.
The dragons of Promise never find where she has gone. They do find, however, that an animus SeaWing named Rubicon once lived in the nearby town of Prospect and that she died in an accident four years ago.
There are flowers on Quail's grave on the day the stone-scaled dragon disappears. No one admits to placing them there.
Months pass. The stone-scaled dragon does not reappear.
A year after her disappearance, a group of her former classmates write letters to her and drop them into the river. Their faces are solemn when they turn to go back home.
Two years after her disappearance, her former teacher tells his new class about her.
Three years after her disappearance, her former school counsellor makes a trip to Prospect. He is there to give a presentation on acceptance and diversity. He mentions the stone-scaled dragon.
Later, they say he walked to the animus SeaWing's grave and stood there for a long while.
Four years after the stone-scaled dragon's disappearance, someone writes a scroll about her. The last words printed are we are sorry.
Five years after the stone-scaled dragon's disappearance they build an obelisk-shaped monument in Promise's central square. It is to promote kindness and the acceptance of dragons who are different from you.
On it are engraved the words Sometimes I wish and below dragons of all kinds have written what they wish for.
On it are engraved the words There is hope for everyone.
The monument is tall and sturdy and made of stone. A bronze plaque announces:
Dedicated to Petra
We are sorry
Years after that a dragonet with no scales and hard, leathery skin is found wandering the outskirts of western Promise on a sunny morning.
They take him in. No one whispers. No one gossips. No one bombards him with questions.
He is three years old and knows enough about how he is different to be afraid of other dragons. Coal the NightWing leads him to the monument.
"We promise to take care of you," he says. "You can trust us. You know why?"
"Why?" the dragonet asks, suspicious.
Coal points to the plaque. "We made a mistake once," he says. "I made a mistake once. We won't make it again."
"Who was Petra?" asks the dragonet.
Coal looks down at his talons.
"Someone who was different," he says. "Someone we didn't treat very well."
The dragonet narrows his eyes and takes a step back.
"But," Coal continues, "we know better now. We know we were wrong."
He reaches out to the dragonet. "A monument is just a thing," he says. "It's not a proper apology."
He leans down, a pouch around his neck swinging, so that he and the dragonet are eye-to-eye.
"We're going to help you," he says. "We're going to help you the way we should've helped her. This is our way of apologizing."
His tone is sure, earnest. His eyes are full of sincerity.
The dragonet reaches out hesitantly and curls his talons around Coal's.
"You'll keep me safe?" he asks. "You'll make it okay?"
"Yes," Coal says.
They stand in the shadow of the monument.
"Promise you- you'll be nice to me?" asks the dragonet. "And you won't laugh at me or throw things at me? And you'll feed me and- and I'll have a family? With parents? And friends?"
The normally mischievous Coal nods solemnly.
"I promise," he says. "We promise."
He wraps his wing around the dragonet and turns him to face the monument. He points to the top, where words are carved deep into the stone.
"Sometime I wish," he reads aloud. Then he nods toward all the wishes scrawled below. "See all the things dragons wish for?"
"Yeah," says the dragonet, squinting. "So?"
Coal reaches into the pouch around his neck and digs out a marker. He offers the marker to the dragonet. The dragonet frowns, confused.
"Everyone," Coal says, gesturing toward the monument, "deserves a wish."
The dragonet, hesitantly, wraps his talons around the marker.
"I don't know how to write," he says.
"Then don't," Coal replies.
The dragonet pauses, then nods and tugs the marker out of Coal's talons. He steps forward, out from under Coal's wing, and sets the marker to the monument.
Coal watches the black ink bloom on grey stone. A drawing emerges. Coal smiles.
The dragonet finishes and tries to give the marker back, but Coal insists he keep it.
"It's yours now," he says, "to give to whoever else you want."
The dragonet hugs the marker. "What now?"
Once again, Coal wraps a wing around him and turns him around, this time to face back the way they came. This time to go home.
"You know someone wants to help," he says, "when your wish washes off."
It rains that night.
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“Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.”—The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupéry