==Fox Scales and Dragon Fur Chapter 2==

From the eastern most tower of the castle, a pair of cerulean eyes watched the town below with a resentful eye. This wasn't a town to her... it was a prison. The small girl, now a year older, kept her eyes on the skies, as if searching for something.

For some reason, the king hated her eyes. Part of her was able to fathom why. Her eyes no doubt held a wisdom that didn't match her small stature. Her eyes were often filled with emotions for him he wasn't expecting. He wanted adoration, respect, maybe a bit of fear. Instead he got disdain, indifference, and at times even pity. He definitely wasn't used to someone giving him looks like this but for rarity such as her, he put up with it.

For the past year, he had doted on her much like a man would in courting a woman. She was given beautiful dresses, fine food, and servants. If he thought it would soften her toward him, he was sorely mistaken. A man like him, so shallow and ignorant, couldn't possibly understand the appeal her former life had to her. Her life with Dazreiello...

As if on queue to her thoughts, there was an almost deafening roar. It had begun. Already she could see his form as he barreled for the town.

She knew she didn't have a lot of time. This was pretty much a bi-weekly routine. A depressing one, a hateful one... but it was the one time she got to see him.

She leaned out the window of her tower and could swear his eyes met her searching ones. Even if she was used to this, it didn't stop the burning in her eyes, tears threatening to spill at this madness. He would come. He would attack. But they would defend... and their defense was perfect. They would soon come for her, take away his temptation and his resolve, and then they would break him. The world was a cruel, horrible place for them, it seemed.

She placed her hands against the windowsill and screamed out the window, tears running down her cheeks, "Dazreiello!! Stop!!" She dug her claws against the stone beneath her palms, gasping as the first of the spells hit one of his wings, making him stagger in midair but thankfully not fall, "You can't keep hurting yourself like this!!"

She heard the tower door open behind her, footsteps moving closer to her but she kept her grip on the window, shaking her head as if to deny what was inevitable, "RUN AWAY!" She struggled as a pair of hands closed on each of her upper arms, the guards looking down at her with a look she couldn't define. It was like disgust and pity rolled up into some little look she really didn't need right then.

She cried and struggled, he roared and struggled, but it seemed that today as well as every other day he had tried, neither could escape the cruel hand fate had dealt them.

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Everything was a giant haze for her and the inky black of the night didn't help. The moon, the stars... it was all covered by clouds that just seemed to close in on her, making the darkness almost tangible for her.

She had made too many mistakes... far too many. One of which was underestimating that man. It was of no consequence now, however. The damage had been done, the hand dealt... and now here she was, a mere shadow of her former self. Powers stripped, deformed into a child... it was a fate she wasn't happy with, but the alternative... She shuddered. No, she would have rather crawled on her stomach through hot coals than stay and see what would have been.

She started when her feet became cold and wet and realized she had stepped into the edge of a lake bed. She sat at the edge of the lake, drinking some water and splashing some on her face as she took a moment to rest. The wind gusted a bit and she shivered. Nights were always so cold but she'd never really noticed. Now with the absence of fur, the cold bit at her skin, making goosebumps rise on her arms.

The wind pushed the clouds around, though, and she saw the moon's reflection on the water. It was only a crescent moon, barely half, but it still made the world illuminate greatly. She saw ripples in the water along its reflection and followed their source, freezing when she did.

She was faced across the way with a great dragon, several times her size. The moon didn't give off much light but her eyes were able to make out the teal coloration of his scales, the darker blue of the membranes of his wings... but she didn't need light to see the teal of his eyes. They practically glowed with their own light. It made it easy to see that he hadn't spotted her yet.

She considered making a run for it but was afraid to move and alert him to her presence. In her current situation, there was no way she could take on a dragon.

She slowly began to move to her feet but the scraping of her feet on the ground alerted him. His eyes moved to lock on her, assessing the threat before looking back down, resuming his drinking. Part of her was relieved and part of her was insulted at being considered such little consequence that he dismissed her so easily.

She still did nothing, obviously, but watching him drink his fill before turning away from her. She watched him disappear into a cave now visible in the dim light of the evening. Of course the one shelter for miles and it was occupied.

Another gust of wind picked up, reminding her of just what kind of cold was out there. She shivered but made a decision. If she was so little of a threat, then he wouldn't mind sharing space. And if he minded, oh well. Maybe he'd put her out of her misery, who knew?

She stumbled into the cave, feeling a bit of relief as she no longer felt the wind biting at her skin. She moved along the cave as it turned darker and darker. She wasn't sure how far back this cave went, wanting to stop before she got too close to the dragon.

It seemed fate wanted to toy with her and she walked right into him, making her fall on her rear from the sudden impact and squeak in surprise. She felt her stomach twist in fear as the teal, glowing eyes opened again, so close to her... just like his jaws.

'I'm going to die... I'm going to die...' She moved back along the ground a bit, trying to stop her limbs from shaking, "I... I..."

She could swear that if he had eyebrows one would be raised curiously, his look both annoyed and bemused.

She backed into the cave wall and hugged her legs to her body, murmuring quietly in the darkness, "...It's cold outside... can I just stay this once...? I'll leave in the morning..."

His eyes regarded her a moment before closing in yet another dismissal. Obviously he wasn't expecting something so small to kill him in his sleep or anything. While she once again was a bit offended she was also grateful. It hadn't been a no, that was for sure. She closed her eyes and wrapped her tail around her body, shivering against the cold stone. It was still cold but she'd take it over the howling wind any day.

She found herself falling into a fitful sleep. The real surprise had been the morning when she awoke.... dried tears on her cheeks and a warm fur draped over her form like a blanket...

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Now locked in her room in the castle, she clenched her teeth at the memory. Another routine... seeing him fighting for her, seeing him try to rescue her, always made her think of the past. How they met, how they grew... she missed her simple life with him. A life that had made her forget going back home entirely.

Now it was robbed from her. She couldn't help the sob that rose in her throat. She wanted it back.

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"You're still not happy here."

The sentence hung on the border between statement and question, the king watching her closely for any sort of reaction. The two of them sat for tea in a small gazebo overlooking his vast gardens. Regardless, she didn't see the beauty around her. She calmly sipped her tea, alternating between closing her eyes and giving him a look that was piercing and calculating... maybe a bit antagonistic as well.

He caught the angrier tone to her look and sighed, "Must we always go through this? Your dragon friend would be much better off if you'd just tell him to stop trying to steal you away."

She shook her head but said nothing. To her, it wasn't stealing. It was rescuing. To think it would be the dragon trying to rescue the princess from the tower, not the other way around. She mused that a while back, she may not have thought him willing to save her if she was in trouble. In the beginning, he had been often cold toward her. It had taken a lot for them to open up to one another. The result, however, was a relationship she was more than comfortable with. The two were connected in a way that was almost boggling. Often they could feel what the other was thinking without words. It made their day-to-day life that much simpler. No idle chatter, no need to fill awkward silences. The two were often content to lay in the grass and watch the clouds, unlike this stupid brat of a king who just wouldn't shut up. Even as her mind was elsewhere she could somewhat hear him droning in the background about nonsense.

Then again, peering into the other's mind had its disadvantages as well. For instance, it was very hard to cover up when something was bothering her. On the other hand, she'd been very amused at how honest Dazreiello had to be with her after she learned to decipher truth from lies in his mind.

Though it had at the very least led to a good deal of trust between them. Granted, they both had their secrets they'd rather not share but for the most part they were honest and content.

"Are you listening?"

She eyed him, her eyelids lowered slightly in obvious boredom, "No."

The king's anger flared in his eyes and he threw down his napkin, standing up and staring down at her with a hardened expression, "I said that when your dragon comes for you again, he's getting a nasty surprise. An ability our mages have been perfecting to kill him once and for all."

She tried to hide her alarm but he saw it in her eyes with a satisfied smirk, though his eyes remained hard, "I see that finally got through to you. We didn't get to do much damage to him last night so I doubt it will be long before he tries again. It's a shame you didn't tell him to stop this nonsense sooner. He wouldn't have had to die."

He came up behind her, though she didn't turn to look at him, acting like he wasn't there. He didn't seem to like that much and laced his fingers in her hair, gripping it and tipping her head back to whisper in her ear, "You are mine. You should accept this and save yourself and him a lot of pain. I can give you everything, girl. Everything you could ever want." He kissed the base of her neck, her eyes widening in a cross between panic and anger. He released her almost as soon as he'd kissed her, turning away and making a motion for the guards to take her away.

She didn't resist much as they took her to her room. It seemed she became like that whenever that area of her neck was involved.

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The fox girl yawned and sat on the ground by Dazreiello, smiling and leaning back against his tail, "Festival days are great!"

The dragon opened an eye to gaze at her in amusement, his thoughts about as clear as spoken words.

"You don't even go to the festival."

She giggled and nuzzled his tail, "I know, but the colored sparks in the sky are so pretty!"

"Fireworks."

She made a face, "I know it works but it's not nearly as pretty as the ones in the sky."

He chuckled, a deep rumbling in his chest, "No, that's what they're called... fireworks."

She blushed sheepishly, "Oh... I see."

He smiled and wrapped his tail around her, "Silly fox girl."

She huffed and poked his tail, "Stupid dragon."

He just chuckled again and nearly wrapped her completely in his tail, the tip of his tail resting over her right shoulder, right up against her neck.

The next sound that filled the air was a roar of pain as Dazreiello jerked up to his feet, his tail unwrapping sharply from around her. She stared up at him in horror of what she'd just done, the tips of her claws coated in blood.

He examined his tail. The initial pain was sharp but the wounds themselves didn't hurt too much. Her nails had just dug into his tail, causing small puncture wounds.

She bit her lip, unconsciously and defensively clutching the spot that had caused the fuss. He wondered if she was wounded there or something. Leaning in his head he sighed, shaking his head, "It's alright, little one. I'm not angry. Are you wounded there? Let me see."

She almost hissed out her response, anger and fear entering her gaze, "No!"

He was curious but he could also feel the strength of her feelings in their link. She obviously didn't want to tell him so it was something that shouldn't be forced for now. He sighed and laid down again, "My mistake. Come, let's watch the rest of the fireworks."

She bit her lip but eventually curled up against him again, their eyes returning to the skies as the last of the fireworks went up in a brilliant flash of color.

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She curled up in her bed and hissed under her breath, glaring at the wall. She once again felt herself torn between her desire for Dazreiello to take her away from this place and her need for him to protect himself and stop hurting himself for her sake. She wanted to go away with him but not if it killed him.

She clawed lightly at her sheets as tears stung her eyes. The king would have someone replace the sheets anyway. Not like she ever got in trouble for much that she did. The only thing the king seemed to mind was her attitude, but the fool seemed to have it in his head that he could break her. She swore to herself that she wouldn't let it come to that.

Her hand moved to her chest, pulling a ring on a necklace from under her dress and looking at him. The ring was a simple silver band that had a setting on the top that had once held a small gem in it. It was empty now though and had little value, but she still looked at it like a priceless treasure. Still, something of anger and resentment washed over her small face. It had once been VERY precious and very powerful... but that was the past, she supposed. The only thing she was thankful for was that the man that did it was far away and couldn't hurt her now.

No, the one that was hurting her now was the king, the thought making her face twist in a grimace. Men... she was really starting to hate them. She didn't count Dazreiello in that category... he was a dragon. He didn't try to capture her, use her, make her do what he wanted. In fact, that was one of the perks of living with him... she was basically able to do as she pleased.

Not like this place. She had to be where she was told, eat what she was told, wear what she was told... She wondered how anyone could live like this.

Oh, she'd occasionally hear things down in the market or when she was in the gardens. She'd been seen in public a few times and knew there were so many little girls in that town who wished they were a princess too. Who idolized her. She pitied them, to be honest. How sad to want more than anything to be a prisoner.

She closed her eyes and slipped her ring back into her dress. She didn't bother to change out of it, trying to force herself to sleep and to not think of what this new plan of attack was against Dazreiello... or what would happen if it succeeded.