Princess Lyria entered her spacious and luxuriously appointed quarters. Korus stood looking out of the enormous double glass doors that led to her huge private terrace. She closed the doors behind her and locked them. Outside the skies were stormy gray. As she walked slowly to his side she knew she would never be able to see their reflection in his eyes.

"How long has it been since we have flown together," he asked almost inaudibly.

"Too long, My Friend," she said almost as quietly. She rested her hand just above his that happened to be stuffed sullenly into his pocket.

"My friend!?" he said. His voice rising.

"Are you not? Have we not been friends since I was a child?" she asked.

He wrapped his hand around her wrist in a deceptively gentle grasp and brought it to his cheek. He turned his face into her hand and pressed a soft kiss into her palm. With his dragon's ears he heard her heart beat quicken. He smiled and caressed her hand with his smooth cheek and chiseled jaw. He could change shape at will with his dragon magic but he knew this form pleased his would-be mate the most.

"You are no longer a child. I wish you would consider me to be more," he said as he turned toward her.

She had been watching her hand on his face and now their eyes met. His eyes had no iris nor pupil. They were singularly iridescent. They bespoke his dragon lineage no matter what form he took. From across a room she could never tell if he were looking at her or not. Of late, his eyes followed her hungrily.

"More?," she asked. "I don't think I've ever thought of you in that way. You're a dragon. I'm a human. How many thousands of years older are you than me. I'm in my mid twenties. Aren't you in your mid tens-of -thousands?," she asked with a nervous smile.

"Age means nothing when you would live as long as I would," he said as he grasped her other wrist and brought them against his wide chest, causing full contact from her hands down to her elbows. "What does a few thousand years mean when we would live hundreds of thousands of years. I would show you places so beautiful it would bring tears to your eyes," he said as he let to of her wrists and cradled her face in his large warm hands. "And I would be there with you to kiss them away," he said as he rained feather soft kissed on her upturned face.

Finally his lips came to rest on hers. He heard her sharp intake of breath as his soft feathery kiss became more firm. He opened he's eyes to look at her face. Her eyes were already closed . He's heart soared and he deepened his kiss. Until now he had not given the practice of kissing much merit, but he understood why this strange custom held humans in such thrall, as he now held his own little human.

He broke contact from her sweet lips and looked down at her. She was only as tall as his shoulder and her close proximity forced him to look nearly strait down at her upturned face. He heard her sigh as she opened her eyes. Her face was flushed slightly and breathing was shallow. Impulsively he wrapped his hands around her waist and slowly dragged her small body upward against his own until his ear was pressed against her heart. He then wrapped his arms around her to hold her firmly to him.

There were emotions warring inside her. Her own ignorance and prejudice screamed at her that she was a royal princess and how could he be so arrogant to think she could love him, but something forgotten and long hidden welled up in her. She remembered her childhood when she was receiving combat and weapons training. It was before her father had been proclaimed king, a time before she had been a royal lady. She was learning to ride on the backs of dragons. Dragons being the most powerful weapon in the realm, they chose with whom to ally themselves with. The dragons chose their mount. She had the honor of being chosen by a sleek golden dragon. As a warrior it was considered the highest honor. It wasn't until years later when she neared the brink of her womanhood did she find out that her own gold dragon had the magic to morph into any form at will. Gold dragons were the most powerful of all the varied magical species.

With new hormones raging inside her, a silly girl daydreamed about her own gold dragon morphing into a prince on a white war horse to claim her as his own. When she came firmly into her womanhood and she became a princess it was impressed upon her the importance of marrying for the good of the kingdom. Her days of daydreaming were over. With the loss of their dreams also came the end of her training of combat and weapons. It was how time for others to defend her. She was also denied her privilege of riding her gold dragon.

Dragons chose their mounts for the rest of their mortal lives. Her own dragon hadn't given up as easily. He stayed by her side through it all. Taking this form or that to always be close to her, she knew when he was near. She always knew. She had been lying when she said she had never thought of him like that. It had always been her little secret.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and held him close to her heart. He exalted in the embrace and roared his joy to the world. Unbeknownst to her was at that very moment the cry was made, every single magical creature in the realm heard the cry of a dragon who had found his mate.

Unknown and uncared by both, not only had the roar reached the very edges of the kingdom , but it had rocked the palace down to its very foundation. The roar brought everyone in the castle to painful alertness. The next sound heard was the princess' door being violently opened. The only people in the entire world that she wouldn't wish to see her in a compromising position were standing there. Her father and a royal suitor.

"Release my daughter!! How dare you?!," her father bellowed. The suitor simply stood next to him with his arms crossed in front of his chest with a stormy expression on his face.

"Father!?," Lyria exclaimed with dismay. She tried to disengage herself but Korus held her fast. He barely felt her struggles.

"How dare I?," he asked finally lowering her to the floor. He tenderly touched her cheek with the back of his fingers and gently put an arm's length between them. Then he turned his full attention on her fuming father and milk sop suitor. "I dare nothing."

He started to glow faintly. He fixed his inhuman eyes in her father and saw him start. He dropped to the balls of his fingertips and began to morph. What could have occurred instantly he drew out for her father's benefit. The suitor now beneath his notice. His rich raiment sank into his skin and his limbs and neck elongated. He arched his back and great wings sprang free. Finally his face elongated and wicked sharp teeth protruded from his mouth. Throughout his transformation his skin started to glow and then shine as his true golden sheen came through.

Korus turned to look at Lyria. He realized his transformation had terrified her. She was backing up so quickly that she forgot her skirts. Her heel caught and she fell down on her backside hard; her face bloodless. Her eyes were wide and fearful.

He pivoted toward her (merely turning on the ball of one of his talloned feet) he had become so large. He reached for her with one of the talloned limbs that in human form would have been his arm. She looked at it like it was a poisonous animal about to bite her. Her breathing was shallow and fast. Her face flushed dark suddenly and she fell over with her eyes closed.

Korus knew a moment of panic as he picked her up and turned her over. His panic turned to relief then bemusement as he realized that she had only fainted. He'd never seen her faint before. He gently stood up and cradled her in his front limbs. He turned back to her father.

"Do what you will. I've chosen her as mine from the beginning. I'm claiming what is mine." Korus said to her father. He loped on his back legs out through the double doors and out onto the terrace. He turned his slender neck so his head was facing behind him. Her father and suitor were standing there with swords still drawn. Palace guards were walking past them, two at a time, to stop him and take his prize. Korus flared his nostrils. Black smoke came pouring out.

"There is no way you can stop me," he said matter of fact.

With a deep rumble he shot dragon fire out of his mouth, creating a crescent shaped wall of fire, effectively stopping the guards in their tracks. He could hear their violent oaths and Lyria's father's desperate but impotent threats. He looked down at Lyria, who seemed only to be in a deep sleep, and shifted her to a more protected position. He spread his wings wide and launched himself into the air.

He turned his attention towards the horizon and flew as fast as his wings could take him to the great ancient forest on the border of the kingdom.