Ch. 1: Corazon

Written for and dedicated to: Someone very special.

This is a fantasy take on a not-so-fantasy evil. I hope that it touches your heart.

If you are brave, please take a guess, via review, of what the main character is hiding behind her "plain brown eyes."

"I'm Cora. And I'm broken.

And they say what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. They've obviously never dropped a priceless glass ornament, and watched it shatter to a million pieces. Well that's what happened to my dreams yesterday, each and every one of them.

And I know what you're thinking: she's just bein' dramatic right?

But really, no I'm not, because I really did have the perfect, perfect gift for him this time. You see, I'd always dreamed of breathing fire like he could, and like all his girlfriends could.

Of course I can't breathe fire. I'm just a normal girl, so I knew he'd never notice me if I never did something amazing. So I did. I had to. Haven't you ever felt like that?

I know I'm plain. I know I'm younger and well, not half as gorgeous as the girls he always talks to but… I still had to try.

I guess writing about it won't do any good huh? I figure I'll try again, just this one last time. Do or die. This time I'll make him love me. This time I-"

At that point the dragon prince burst into laughter, unable to continue reading the diary he still held above the servant girl's head. "You gotta be kidding me!" He cackled, nearly breathless from laughing, "A dragon?! A loser like you writing love stories about a dragon? Just how many guys have you been rollin' around with Cora?"

"Give it back!"

Cora tried again to jump up and get her diary back, tears filling her big, golden-brown eyes, but she just couldn't reach. "Aww," teased the prince, waving the book over her head, "did I make wittle kitty Cora cry? What's the matter? Are your wittle chubby legs too short and fat to reach?"

"I'm not fat!" Cried the younger girl, "I'm just fluffy! My dad was a longhaired lion!"

"Yeah right." A cocky grin lit up that devilishly handsome face, and the prince ruffled his own silky black hair, leaving it wild and reckless as his spirit. "Admit it, you just can't afford a hairbrush."

"That's not true!"

By now Cora was fighting to keep her tears from falling. She knew he'd only tease her more viciously if she didn't, and so tried to calm herself, instead of playing his game. He only wanted to upset her. But every time she stopped trying to snatch her diary back, he'd continue to read from it: humiliation and humiliation were her only options. There was no way to win.

"It's rainy," the prince read, starting again as he stifled his own cruel snickering, "and rainy days suck. I got wet and my hair was all ruined. Everyone else's hair doesn't get like this in the rain. Only mine. I always wished I had Japanese hair. It's not fair. Their hair is black too. Why can't mine just lay down flat? Or at least grow straight?" He paused then to give her another cruel quip, "because you're so gay, duh. Everyone says so."

"I'm not gay," Cora mumbled, halfheartedly. And at that point she just decided to give it up. She plopped down onto her bottom, on the cold, hard ground, and stared hard at the plain stone bricks with her plain brown eyes. Anything was better than looking at him, even if her view was still blurry with tears. She glared down at her short legs and her tatty pants, wringing her hands in her lap as she tried desperately to ignore his continued reading of her deepest secrets. If only cat ears weren't so sharp and accurate. But it doesn't matter, she kept telling herself, no one's ever understood me.

So what did it matter?

And he's right. I might as well be gay. None of the boys were ever going to like her anyway.
I'm already marked and already dirty just like they say
. So nothing really mattered.

Her 'dirty' brown hands came into her own view then and Cora absently started to rub at her fingers. Someone had once told her enough chafing would turn them to a different color, but she wasn't sure if it was true. Even so, she'd rather have her hands red from the friction than the dirty brown they usually were. And at least this way she had something to distract her.

Pain was always a good option. Not that she could feel it by now. Nothing could hurt more than how she already felt. She pretended not to listen and flattened her little golden cat ears to her head, wrapping her too-fuzzy tail around herself, and tried desperately to tune him out.

The prince read on: of powerful arms and a handsome face, a charming smile and perfect, creamy-white skin. He read of piercing dragon's eyes, impressive black wings, and a graceful, lithe body, never knowing, all the while, never understanding…

"It's about you."

And he froze. The little black book tumbled from his hands and hit the ground, landing just beside her first fallen tear.