Chapter Three

The Hatchling

"Sennet!" I call out in excitement. "It's hatching! Hurry!" The egg was wobbling around in the basket as whatever was inside tried to force its way out. The sound of what might have been claws scraping against the egg shell was faint but steadily becoming more frequent.

Mint, still puffed up with her fur in all directions and her back arched shot me a quizzical look that said 'You never told me that thing would move!' I briefly wondered if Mint might try to kill whatever was about to hatch, but based on her current reaction, I figured she would probably stare at it and keep her distance until she was more familiar with. Anyway, the small black cat had never shown any aggressive tendency or predatory instinct to anything except mice.

When Sennet finally stepped in the small black cat darted away and hid a safely behind Sennet's legs where she could watch what was happening but not get involved. "What should we do?"

"Just wait." He responded calmly. How could he be so calm?

"So we're not going to help it or anything?" Whatever was inside was having a difficult time breaking through the shell. A hammer would have easily remedied that problem.

"It'll come out when it's ready." Sennet assured me though from the sound of it, whatever was in there was more than ready to escape from the round grey object that it had been trapped in for the past who knows how long. I then remembered the weight of the egg. Was it possible that the shell was really thick? If so, the poor thing was going to have quite the struggle to escape.

After about twenty minutes the first cracks began to faintly appear over the surface of the egg. The lines grew deeper as they spread along the shell until at last the first bit of shell gave way. The hole was small, but the progress seemed to energize the hatchling inside.

When the first bit of the creature showed- what resembled a beak- I began to realize something. Whatever that was could not possibly be a Griffon- or any sort of bird at that. What I saw only resembled a beak- but it was not one. The shape matched- but the texture certainly did not.

I glanced over at Sennet to see his expression. If anything, he seemed lost in though. Did he know what it was? I was about to ask him when another chunk of shell caved in. There was now a good sized hole in the egg.

Apparently, the hatchling thought that the opening was now big enough to squeeze through. A small reptile-like head squeeze through the hole. The creature wiggled and squirmed as it struggled to climb out. I soon saw why it had been a difficult task. "Are those… wings?"

A winged lizard-thing was having a little trouble squeezing its bat-like wings through the opening. It took the little lizard a few minutes to realize that all it had to do was fold them tightly against his sides. Out tumbled the rest of the reptile soon after. "Sennet- what is that?"

He went up to the basket and reached in to examine the hatchling only to received a quick and playful nip. When he pulled back his hand I could tell that the little nibble had not been very hard at all. "This is going to sound crazy- but I'm pretty sure that it is a dragon."

My heart stopped. "A… dragon?" I looked over Sennet's shoulder to get a better look. "You mean those giant fire-breathing reptiles in those mythology books I found?" He nodded. "I kinda thought they were um, well- bigger!"

The little hatchling was easily smaller than Mint, who was already small for a cat. It was maybe about a foot in length from nose to tail. His wings, which I assume were not fully developed, were about eight inches tip to tip- or I think. It was kind of hard to tell since they were not fully spread out but rather laid in a relaxed position at his sides.

"He'll grow."

"He?" Sennet tapped the tip of the little Dragon's snout. There was a tiny horn growing there in addition to the two towards the back of his head on either side. If the mythology book had any credibility, and I was more than willing to doubt so, the little horn on his nose indicated that he was male.

"So this little guy could grow big enough to eat us all one day. Fun."

Sennet laughed at this. "Possibly- but I don't think he'll be eating anyone." He looks at the hatchling. The little lizard is clearly exhausted from fighting his way out of the egg. I can see why- the egg's shell is at least half an inch thick. I felt less guilty about shoving the egg in my bag without considering how that could have broken the shell.

The dragon looks nothing like what the books had described. They always portrayed dragons as enormous muscular reptiles, usually green or red in color, with a ferocious temper and a taste for anything that breathes.

This hatchling was a pale blue- almost grey in color. Darker broad stripes lined his spine, not too different from that of a tiger. A row of tiny spines raced down his back, each one connected with a light pale-blue webbing in between. His muzzle was covered in the same dark color and made it look like he had just dipped it in a pot of ink or something. The webbing of his wings were the same color- except with darker spots scattered about- most of which were near the base of the wing-fingers. At the end of his tail was what looked liked fins on either side that could be folded against his tail.

"So this guy is supposed to be some sort of mythical beast?"

"I'd say his species is nearly extinct, not mythical."

"Why's that?"

"He's right in front of us, isn't he?" Good point. "I think that it is likely that humans or some other creature may have hunted them to near extinction so long ago that they have been forgotten. The few memories that may have survived probably became thought of as legends or myths as time went on."

"I guess that makes sense." Hatchling rolled onto his back as he dozed off. His plate-scales on his belly were silver and slightly reflective. One wing was stretched to one side while the other just lay limp, "What should we do with him?" Whether or not we knew it, an unspoken partnership had formed between the two of us since I arrived with the egg."

"I say we keep him!"

Was that even possible? "You don't think he'll become too wild or crazy?" Taming a Griffon was one thing- I knew it could be done since it has been done… but a dragon?

"Only one way to find out!" Sennet's optimism was oddly encouraging. Even Mint seemed to think the little Dragon was not going to be a threat. She jumped onto the desk and looked in the basket. She was clearly determined not to lose her basket to a little lizard that had come out of nowhere. Without a second thought she flopped down into the basket on top of the dragon.

"Mint!" I would have been upset had it not been for her innocent face and the fact that the hatchling immediately squirmed out from under her. He was now wide awake. Getting smushed by black fluffy would do that I suppose. He then scrambled to get on top of the furry black mountain, though Mint did not seem to mind.

"Well?" Sennet looked at me expectantly.

"Well, what?"

"If we're going to raise him, we should at least give him a name."

"Why me? I'm not good at this sort of thing!"

"You like to draw and paint- you're more creative than I am."

I knew better than to argue. I would not have won if I tried. "Fine. Any ideas though?" I say after a brief moment of thought. Coming up was names was not something I was good at.

"You haven't even tried yet." The dragon yawned, revealing rows of tiny sharp teeth.

"Fine." The little lizard then looked up at me for the first time. His almond shaped eyes were a striking deep blue. Looking into them took me back to a time in my childhood when my mom took me to visit family in a town not too far from the beach. The ocean had the same deep hue as I gazed out from the tide pools where I had been allowed to play.

"Tide." I decide.

"Hrr?" He titled his head. Did he maybe understand that we had just given him a name?"

"I think he likes it." Sennet smiled. If he did understand us, he made no complaint of his new name.

Slowly, I reached out to the Dragon with my hands. When I was sure he wouldn't bite or claw my hand into millions of tiny bits, I gently folded his wings down and lifted him up. Tide did not protest, but he was more than a little bit confused. After allowing me to carry him with his legs and tail dangling down for a bit, he slithered through my grasp and clambered up my arm.

"Hey!" Before I knew what hit me, Tide was on my shoulder enjoying the not-so-great view it offered. He must have decided he was bored because he then proceeded to bite my hair.

"I'll get him." Sennet reached over and pried the lizard off of my shoulder. The little dragon immediately began to twist around in order to escape from Sennet. Once free, he plopped down onto the desk, his claws clicking against the wooden surface.

"It seems he likes you more." Sennet laughed, examining his hands for any scratches.

"You don't know that." I stroked Tide's back, relieved to find that the spines could be flattened. That was one less thing to worry about being stabbed with.

"Watch." He moved his hand closer to Tide. Within moments the hatchling went fleeing for cover. I could see a little head poking up with a playful glint in his eyes.

"Okay, well- maybe just a little." Sennet laughed. He did not seem to mind. It did look like Tide was just trying to play.

"Catherine!" I look out the window and am instantly reminded that I'm late for dinner. Not that I mind- when my mom makes dinner, skipping is completely understandable. My mom doesn't see it that way though. The sun had begun to set quite some time ago but I had been so distracted by Tide that I failed to notice the light creeping away. There were a few knocks on the door. "Catherine, I know you're in there!" Oh, heavens. Why now?

I turned my back against the desk to block anyone from getting a glimpse of the hatchling and watched in horror as Sennet went to open the door. "What are you doing?" Couldn't we just pretend that no one was home and stay silent until she left.

"Good evening, Ma'am." Sennet politely greeted my mom.

"Is Catherine here?"

"Most days, yes." All she had to do was look over his shoulder. It's a good thing I inherited my height from her.

"What has she been up to lately?" Of course she would try to pry information from Sennet. I was just hoping he would keep quiet about Tide.

"She's been coming by to read some of my books every day." I took the hint and grabbed the nearest book to me and opened it up, pretending to read. The idea of jumping out the window almost came up, but getting Tide out with me without injuring him might have been tricky seeing how tiny he was. It wouldn't take much to accidentally crush him.

"Catherine- reading?" And she was shocked at me waking up early every morning. "Sennet, the world isn't due to end anytime soon."

"Don't believe me?" Sennet stepped aside to let her in the house.

"Oh hey mom!" I try to act as if I didn't realize how late it was.

"You were supposed to be home over an hour ago." She says, clearly annoyed.

"Really?" I act surprised. "Sorry! I was distracted with this book here- it's quite-"

"The book is upside down."

"Crap." I didn't say that because my mom was right- whoops- but because I could feel tiny claws climbing up the back of my shirt. "It's more interesting that way?" I try to regain ground.

"Nice try. What are you really up to?" I look at Sennet for help as the claws make it further up. "Well?"

"I like Sennet's cat?" Knowing that Tide was behind me- and would remain so unless he jumped- I stepped aside to allow my mom to see Mint who was still dozing away in the basket.

My mom scowled. "I told you, under no circumstances are we going to get a pet." I didn't even suggest anything like that! "Not a cat, dog, bird, or-" Tide was now on my shoulder.

"Dragon?" I smiled. Sennet is trying to keep himself from laughing.

"Catherine-"

"Oh, come on mom- he's friendly!"

"Fine."

"I promise he won't destroy- wait, what did you say?"

"Fine."

"What?" I guess it was my mom's turn to surprise me. That, or this was all some sort of cruel joke.

"You can take care of him." She shot Sennet a look I couldn't interpret. Had he already spoken with her about the egg, or was there something the two of them knew that I wasn't aware of?

"You're okay with having a pet that could grow up into a giant fire-breathing lizard with wings and the strength to kill and eat us all- but not a cat?" I probably should have shut up by now rather than say things that could have possibly swayed her to change her mind, but I really wanted to know what she was thinking. I mean really- dragons are okay, but not cats?

"Hold old is?"

"An hour? Maybe less?"

"Then he knows nothing but you two-"

"three." I point at Mint. My mom smiles.

"Teach him right from wrong while he's young and he won't try eating anyone when he's older." Tide looked up at my mom with curious eyes. "The difference between him and the cats is that the cats have their families, so we'll give him one." She sees my shocked look. "Really, Catherine? I'm not as heartless as you may think I am."

"I couldn't tell." I'm about to give her a huge hug when I remember the scaly creature on my shoulder.

"One more thing."

"Yes?" There must be a catch to all of this. Nothing good can come without having some sort of string attached.

"He needs a name."

"Any ideas?" I don't want to make her feel as if she's missed out on the naming already, which she already did- but telling her that was not necessary.

"Drake?"

"Really, mom?" I laughed.

"How about Tide?" Sennet offered, trying to keep a straight face through this.

" I like that!" My mom smiled.

"Very well then- his name is Tide!"