AN: Just a short story (two-parter) that is unconnected to any of my current works or worlds. Fair warning: This one is a little spicier than some of my other work. It contains adult themes and situations. Also sex. And a dragon. And magic.

If you start this and get bored, before wandering away, I'd love it if you'd drop a quick little comment about why and where I lost you. Cheers!


Grrrnal looked up when a strange sound from the distant stable caught his attention and drew his focus from his task of repairing the fencing along the main road towards his master's seat: Ebonywood Manor. The steady sun and rising temperatures made Grrrnal's crimson scales stand to release excess heat from his body. He knew the scale-lift was important, but it always made him itch, especially where the scales snagged his human-clothing. Sometimes he wished he still lived in his scaleless child-form, which was able to sweat just like humans.

The sound rang again, and Grrrnal hung his mallet on the fence crossbeam beside his tunic, which he'd removed when his scales first started to lift and the flaps on his back started to raise. The young Dragon-Kin had learned a long time ago not to ignore out-of-place sounds.

He crossed the wide grassy lawn beside the stables. As he approached the west entrance of the cross-shaped building, Grrrnal's favorite horse among Lord Revic's herd trotted to the pasture fence and stretched her massive head over to nose Grrrnal's shoulder.

"There's my girl." His voice resonated with the distinctive draconian rumble as he patted her wide jaw. "Where's your little man, momma? He's gone and grown up on you?"

She nuzzled his ear and tugged on his short, sun-yellow hair before she shifted to nudge the closest of the six cooling flaps that ran along his spine: three flaps on either side, arranged in vertical lines. If he ever gained his adult form, the two center flaps would develop into massive wings, and the flaps above and below would become even smaller. No longer necessary for cooling.

Grrrnal jerked his head towards the stable when a different sound demanded his attention. His brows lowered, and his jaw locked. The first sound had been enough to make him investigate; that sound was enough to boil his blood even though he didn't know what it was. As a Dragon-Kin, he could feel more in sounds, sights, and smells than any human could, and that one resonated with malice. He pushed the horse's muscular shoulder and patted her neck. "Away, little girl." His eyes narrowed. "I've got business."

Of course, the draft mare didn't obey — she never did — but that didn't matter.

Grrrnal stalked to the stable door, hanging partially open. He jerked it aside and a wall of heat slammed against him. Where were the stable boys? They should have opened all the windows and manned the bellows in the loft before the stable temperatures ever rose this high.

Grrrnal didn't see anything and things were quiet, but that made it worse. He walked to the center of the stables where the perpendicular halls met. To the right, near the end of the northernmost line of stalls, he saw an onyx-haired human standing just inside a stall. Grrrnal immediately recognized him as son to one of the semi-regular visitors to Ebonywood Manor: a minor baron's boy. He narrowed his eyes. Whenever he encountered the baron and his son, he had the same sensation as when he had to wade through stagnant swamp scum.

Grrrnal wavered a moment. Though he could not see Lord Revic's eldest child, he could sense the young man's presence, along with two others he also could not see. Grrrnal knew it was not his place to interfere in the social affairs of the Revic Household; however, that dark feeling twisting deep in his core was too close. Too disturbing. Worst of all, Grrrnal could smell magic, and when humans and magic mixed, the results were tragic at best. Humans were too young to handle the raw recalcitrance and mischief that was magic, no matter what aged they managed to reach.

Voices reached his ears: "Are you pleased, Revic?"

"He must be."

"Indeed… this is what you like, right Revic?"

A quiet, stiff groan reached Grrrnal beneath a round of laughter. Grrrnal's station and role be damned. "Hey you," he growled as he strode close, a deep scowl etched into his features as he measured the baron's son. Still tasted like swamp scum.

The youth turned, obviously hearing immediately the intentional and deep insult in Grrrnal's disrespectful address. His lip curled back, and his disgusted gaze wandered up and down Grrrnal's form. He crossed his arms, stepping out to meet Grrrnal. "How dare you address me thus, slave?"

Grrrnal's jaw tightened, and he glanced towards the stall. Through the shoulder-high grating that allowed the horses to see out of their stalls, he now saw two other young noblemen, but not his master's son. He looked back to the dark-haired human, those cold eyes making Grrrnal want to gut the little shit where he stood. "I will see Master Verran."

"You have no right to even speak to one such as myself."

Patience was wearing thin. "I will not—"

"Grrrnal…? I-It is okay… g-go on…" The young master's voice sounded as if it traversed severe pain to reach Grrrnal's ears.

Grrrnal's eyes narrowed upon the baron's son who barred his way. "Move, or I rip your arms from their sockets."

"Filth!" the baron's son hissed, his tone and his every demeanor filling the air with the choking sting of boiled lye. "I will see you scourged for your insolence, scum! Be gone!"

"P-Please, Grrrnal… j-just go…"

Grrrnal crossed his arms, keeping his fierce gaze pinned on the baron's idiot child. "Master Verran, you know I cannot." After all, among his many duties, foremost among his tasks was ensuring the safety of Lord Revic's family. And even if it wasn't, Verran had long ago earned Grrrnal's loyalty. Grrrnal could not, and would not, abandon Verran to suffering when it was within his strength to end.

Inside the stable, one of the other two youths began to speak. His expression had become nervous, and his wide eyes fixed upon Grrrnal. "I think we should just… end this, Dami." Oh yes, that was the name of the baron's beastling.

Dami jerked his head to the left. "Are you a moron? You would bend to the insolent demands of a lizard slave?"

"Haven't you heard of him? Dami, he's crazy. He really will attack us."

"Coward! I will have Lord Revic's head if—"

The last of Grrrnal's patience evaporated. He slammed his fist into the little asshole's jaw. The moron didn't even reel from the blow, merely tipped, unconscious, straight backwards like a felled tree. Grrrnal glared at the other two, barely subduing his urge to repeat the same with both of them, but they had a use. Grrrnal's low voice was sharp and intentional on each careful word: "Pick up your friend, and get out."

These two were clearly wiser than the baron's boy, because they rushed from the stall to obey.

Grrrnal's jaw tightened, growling at their retreating backs. When he was certain they were gone, he stepped into the doorway. What he encountered almost made him chase them down to make good on his limb-removal urge. Verran's left hand was tied to the hay rack near the door and the other was bound with a long rope to the grating above the solid wooden walls. His ankles were both tied at opposite ends of a carriage yoke, and his clothes had been reduced to little more than tattered ribbons hanging at his wrists, ankles, and about his neck—none providing anything for modesty. Sweat glistened upon his flushed skin that was covered with smears of dirt, clinging straw, scrapes, bruises, and blood smears. Verran's copper hair was a tangled, sweat-soaked mess — so much different from his normal neatly-arranged platting — and his entire body shook. Grrrnal met Verran's gaze for only a moment before the youth lowered anguished, green eyes.

The acrid scent of malicious magic spiked, and Grrrnal's chest tightened in pain and anger. "Master Verran…"

"Please go," the youth whispered. His knees drew together, and he tried to curl up, but there was only so much he could do bound the way he was. His eyes were laced with unshed tears and likewise shone with the silver traces of whatever spell had been set upon him.

Without a word, Grrrnal turned to retrieved a horse blanket from the tack room. It wasn't a worthy cover, but Master Verran was too… worthy… to lie bound and humiliated that way. Nor would Grrrnal further his humiliation by prolonging his nakedness — not that Grrrnal understood why nakedness should be a humiliation. Dragon-kin almost never wore clothing, unless like him, they were a member of a human household. However, while Grrrnal didn't understand the human compulsion for clothing, he could respect it and guard it as jealously as anything else his master held dear.

Those punk-ass shits were lucky they'd gone.

Grrrnal knelt beside Verran, draping the cloth — the softest one he could find — over Verran's middle, recognizing even this softer cloth would be terribly uncomfortable. "I will release you, Master Verran."

Verran moved his feet away, and when he spoke, his voice shook. "Please don't…" The gathering moisture in his shame-filled eyes managed to merge into a single tear that streaked his dirty cheek. "The s-spell… I-I… you can't… until… until it w-wears off…"

Grrrnal frowned. What manner of spell had been set that Verran would rather lie this way for the duration of it? While it might have been better to ask Verran what had been cast, because he clearly knew, Grrrnal had the suspicion it would be kinder to simply find out himself, no matter how rude it might be. Grrrnal pressed his large hand against the center of the young nobleman's chest. Verran's heat and the pound of his racing heartbeat pushed through the thin scales of Grrrnal's palm. Verran's gasp and sudden jolt made Grrrnal feel guilty, but not enough to pull away and apologize. He closed his eyes and pushed against the firm muscles.

Grrrnal's magic seeped through the human's skin seeking the threads of conjured magic that wove the spell. Finding a narrow channel, he followed it to the spell's twin anchor points. While most humans who dabbled in magic would never be able to read a spell as Grrrnal could, as a Dragon-Kin, with magic such an innate part of his being, spell speaking was one of the first things his magic had learned to do when he gained access to it upon progression to adolescence.

Within moments the spell lay itself bare obediently before Grrrnal's assessment: a spell that would manipulate Verran such that he would physically throw himself at the first man he encountered? The malice and intent of the weaver's plan uncurled in Grrrnal's mind. Those animals had intended to find Lord Revic and bring him to Verran's side. Lord Revic, blinded by his loyalty and love for his children, would never listen to his son's begging to be left alone.

Grrrnal's eyes flung wide in rage and disgust. He wanted them dead — especially when he realized that even at that moment Verran was straining against the bindings upon his wrists, not because he wanted escape, but because he was reaching for Grrrnal. Grrrnal's chest tightened in more pain than even when he'd lost his sister. "Master Verran," he started, his voice low and halting. "I cannot leave you this way."

Verran turned his face away and released a shuddering sob. "Please…"

Grrrnal reached over and turned Verran's face to his. "You must listen carefully. This spell will not simply wear off. If I leave you here, the first male you encounter will probably be a stable boy. Every moment of delay will allow this spell to steal more of your mind as it strengthens. You will no longer be able to warn anyone away. You may not be able to stop yourself even if he begs it, and we both know you are stronger than any of the stable boys here."

Verran's eyes widened and a new fear entered them. "It will not wear off…?"

"It would take weeks."

Verran lowered his head and his shaking intensified. "C-Can you not undo it?"

"I am not skilled enough. It would… it would probably kill you."

"Fine."

Grrrnal's breath refused to continue. "What?"

"I'd rather die."

"But Master Verran—"

Verran jerked his tear-stained face up, but now there was determination and strength in his gaze that even the spell couldn't shake. "Tell me you would rather rape someone against your will—or perhaps throw yourself like a whore at the feet of your own father—than quietly slip away, keeping the shred of the honor and dignity that remains to you."

Grrrnal's jaw tightened. He understood Verran's logic, and he could also see down any number of paths this trial could play out. None of them were good, and none of them acceptable, except one. There was one thing Grrrnal could do that would truly save Verran: "Master Verran, allow me."

Verran's brows shot upwards. "What?"

"It is obvious I will suffice for the spell. I will never speak of it again. You are not strong enough to harm me should your mind falter."

Verran's face grew bright red, and he lowered his gaze again. He looked like he was about to be ill.

Grrrnal swallowed hard. "If it is unacceptable because I am Dragon-Kin I wil—"

"That is irrelevant!" Verran jerked his eyes up again and his face twisted. "I…" Grrrnal had not believed more pain could appear in Verran's face, but he was mistaken. "Rose is in love with you."

Grrrnal wasn't sure if his sudden release of air was amusement or relief. "She has made that clear. But your sister is also only twelve years old. She will find a more suitable partner when she grows up and she will grow out of her childish adoration. Master Verran, I can help you through this. Please permit me."

Verran bit his lip and lowered his head before giving a shallow nod.

"I will be right back." Grrrnal gave a sad smile and squeezed Verran's shoulder when the human jerked his head up, panic stretched across his face. "Right back. I promise."

Grrrnal returned to the tack room. He found two leather straps and a carriage covering that was awaiting repair. Once back in the stall, he removed the rope from around each of Verran's ankles, and his rage immediately blazed anew upon seeing the rope burns ringing Verran's skin. Grrrnal would have to take care of that later. Grrrnal used one of the leather straps to bind Verran's legs together at the calves.

"What are y—?"

"Trust me, Master Verran. This will be for the best."

Verran said nothing else, only offering stifled groans while Grrrnal continued. When he released Verran's right arm, it immediately reached for Grrrnal, touching anywhere it could reach, wandering dangerously close to his inner thigh. Grrrnal wanted to scold, but knew that Verran could not help it and was humiliated enough as things stood. Verran whined softly when Grrrnal walked out of reach, skirting Verran to head to the grating where his other hand was tied. Once Verran's left hand was free, Grrrnal made quick work of rolling Verran on his front and binding his arms behind his back — ignoring the desperate moan and wonton wriggling. He wrapped the youth in the carriage cover, concealing him entirely. Grrrnal hefted Verran over his shoulder and his face warmed when he felt Verran's desire pressing against his shoulder.

"Try and relax, Master Verran," he said softly. "You'll be freed soon."

Verran only groaned.

Upon exiting the stables, Grrrnal's squinted when the bright sun hit him. His jaw tightened when he saw all three of the stable boys lounging beneath the willow tree beside the carp pond. The only reason they would be doing that in the middle of the day was either upon permission or instruction. He gritted his teeth.

"Darnam, Tav, Fenni! The stables are sweltering; see to your jobs!"

The three young humans immediately scrambled to their feet and shared glances. Tav cleared his throat. "We won't be punished?"

Grrrnal swallowed his angry growl. So it was upon instruction. "You won't. Back to work."

They nodded and all rushed to the stables.

It didn't take long to reach the small, stone hut that Lord Revic built for Grrrnal shortly after purchasing him—rather, rescued him from hell. The hut stood at the edge of Ebonywood Forest beside a rambling stream. The lord had said that everyone deserved a place to feel safe and at home, and while most humans would find the small dwelling abominable, Grrrnal was happier nowhere else.

He ducked through the small entryway that had been too low for him to pass without deeply bowing even before he gained his adolescent form, which made the opening exactly the right size. Immediately, the small candelabra in the far corner flickered to life, illuminating the windowless home. Grrrnal knelt upon the moss-stuffed mat and gently laid Verran down, gaining a muffled groan for his efforts.

"Just a moment, Master Verran. I will prepare myself and then release you." Grrrnal stood, shucked off his trousers, and headed to the small chest near the candelabra where he kept his few possessions, including the oil he used to weatherproof his leathers. He froze when Verran's soft voice reached him.

"Me…"

He frowned and turned back, unwrapping Verran enough so he could see his face. "You?"

Verran's face was bright red, but he wouldn't meet Grrrnal's gaze. His jaw muscles twitched, and it looked like Grrrnal had just asked for his birthright. When he spoke, his voice was barely a whispered. "You… inside me…"

Grrrnal's brows raised, and for a moment, he couldn't speak. It was one thing to offer himself up to his lord's son to fulfill a vicious spell. Reversing the roles between a former-slave and a young nobleman was a different matter entirely. "Master Verran, I—"

"Grrrnal, please do not make me beg."

Reservation crawled up Grrrnal's throat, but guilt and pity overpowered it. He nodded. "Of course."

Without another word, Grrrnal retrieved the oil he sought and rejoined Verran. He sighed and crawled over him. "Try and remain calm, Master Verran… I promise I will not stop."

Verran's face twisted, and he continued looking at the wall. "Don't you think we can dispense with the 'Master' business? You are about to fuck me."

Grrrnal's jaw tightened, and he touched Verran's face. "I will satisfy the spell, but do not think I would do any such vulgar thing to you."

Verran nodded a little, but still would not meet Grrrnal's gaze.

Grrrnal swallowed hard and carefully turned Verran over again. He released the youth's arms and ankles, guiding him to his knees and forearms. He pushed down across Verran's shoulder blades and the back of his knees when Verran tried to immediately turn back to him. "No, Master Verran… this will be better. Trust me and relax."

"I… I don't know if I can." Verran at least stopped struggling to turn over.

"You can." Grrrnal encouraged and touched Verran intimately in an attempt to soothe and distract him, gaining a gasp while Verran pressed his head down into the pillow. "That's right." Grrrnal pulled his arm away from Verran's shoulders and re-positioned himself for better access. "This will be a little cold," he warned before he applied the oil and began to very gently, very slowly prepare the human to accept him. "Easy now…"

Grrrnal frowned and pulled away when Verran's motions grew violently impatient, enough to cause injury and drag a strangled cry of pain from Verran though it didn't curtail the behavior. Had there been a nuance about the spell that forced Verran to hurt himself?

It was in that realization where Grrrnal decided he would find those three shits and make them pay for what they'd done.

"Master Verran…" He let Verran roll over, but stretched over him, pinning him down with his superior size when Verran tried to lunge against him — no doubt intent to rush forward, ready or not. Grrrnal held Verran's head, and for a moment, they merely stared into the other's eyes. Without thinking, Grrrnal stretched and kissed Verran, immediately stilling all Verran's motions, probably in surprise that even the spell couldn't sweep over. Grrrnal hadn't intended to kiss Verran, and Grrrnal knew how inappropriate it was for a Draconian former-slave to kiss his master's child, but as Grrrnal had said, this was not mere fucking and the motion, at least for him, came naturally.

Verran suddenly returned the kiss, his hands that had thereto been trying to gain freedom, clung to Grrrnal's broad shoulders and tangled in his golden hair.

Grrrnal ground his hips slowly downward, while he held the human close, smooth skin sliding against soft scales. "It's going to be okay," he whispered when he moved to lick Verran's neck. "Trust me… just… trust me."

"Grrrnal…" No human had come so close to properly pronouncing Grrrnal's name as did Verran's growling moan.

Grrrnal continued to kiss Verran and rock his hips as he raised Verran's right leg and returned to preparing him. Maybe it was the distraction and maybe it was the inability to move freely, but Verran made no more foolishly impatient motions. Grrrnal wished he could stop, because Verran would feel the effects of his earlier mistake and completing the sex-act would only make it worse. However, Grrrnal had promised not to stop, and the spell wouldn't be satisfied any other way.

When Grrrnal was certain that Verran was as ready as possible, he lifted himself away, having to continue to hold down Verran, because clearly the spell pushed the young human way past 'patience'. "Breathe out," Grrrnal advised as he began to join them.

Verran tensed, his fingers curling into fists as he pinched his eyes shut and a tear leaked out from beneath his dark lashes. His heartbeat was visible in his neck and his breath came in raw gasps.

Grrrnal would suffer for causing pain to any of the handful of humans he cared for, but his chest twisted in agony to see Verran this way and know it was at his hand. Grrrnal released his hold since Verran was no longer struggling. Balancing on one arm, Grrrnal touched the flushed cheek. "Verran… are you all right?"

Verran's eyes slowly opened, and more tears stood within them. He locked his gaze with Grrrnal while he gave a stiff nod. "F-Fine." His lips twisted in what looked like a forced smile. "Say it again."

Grrrnal's brows furrowed, and he swallowed hard, knowing immediately what the human referred to. "V-Verran."

Verran closed his eyes and slowly reached for Grrrnal's shoulders, using them to pull himself up against Grrrnal's chest. "Thank you."

Grrrnal also closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around Verran's lower back and shoulders. He pressed forward, laying them both down again, and he began to slowly rock against the young human, feeling Verran's every move as the spell begin to unravel, nearing fulfillment.

Verran panted into Grrrnal's ear, and took it lightly between his teeth. His fingers dug against muscle and scale. It hurt but it… felt so right.

Grrrnal wanted to bite him. The urge welled up so powerfully that he almost surrendered to it, going as far as to open his mouth and rest his sharp teeth against the smooth skin of Verran's shoulder. But then Verran moaned, and his fingers dug into Grrrnal's hair and tugged his head up so the human could kiss him hard. Verran arched up and cried into Grrrnal's mouth.

And Grrrnal remembered. This was not for him. This was to save Verran. He chased after his breath and refocused on Verran. It didn't take much longer before their share efforts drew a powerful gasp and guttural cry from the young human, his completion dragging Grrrnal over the edge as well.

For a long time, neither of them moved beyond panting in the fresh silence with Grrrnal curled over Verran, feeling the human's breath dancing against his hair and feeling his heat radiating.

"Grrrnal…"

Grrrnal looked up, his chest tightening when he found Verran's half-lidded gaze pinned on him. Once again, tears leaked from those green eyes, though Verran tried to smile. "Th-thank you…" Verran's eyes rolled back and his lids closed completely.

Grrrnal hovered his fingers over Verran's lips and nose, feeling for breath. When he found it, he slowly withdrew and lowered Verran's hips and legs. Swallowing hard, Grrrnal turned away, wondering if it was some sort of fear or self-loathing that made his stomach complain so bitterly.

Several hours later, Grrrnal sat near the entrance of his stone home, staring out at the woods and the stream tripping happily past without a care in the world for the trials of men or dragons. He had medicated Verran's rope burns and salved the raw wound that Grrrnal was responsible for; luckily that wound had ceased bleeding. He'd also made sure that Verran was cleaned and bore no physical evidence, except his scrapes and bruising, of his ordeal. Grrrnal knew he should be seeing to his typical tasks and that fence needed finishing. However, he couldn't bring himself to leave Verran, even though he imagined the human probably wouldn't wish to see him in the near future.

A faint rustle behind him betrayed Verran's waking.

Grrrnal took a deep breath, but did not turn back. "I retrieved some clothing for you, and there is water in the jug beside the bed. Is there anything you need from me before I leave you in peace to return to the manor?"

"Need anything?"

"Yes. Is there something I can do for you? I would suggest you avoid your normal activities for a day or two."

For a moment, Verran made no answer of any kind, and Grrrnal almost turned to investigate whether he'd passed out again. However, at length, the human spoke. "Grrrnal, why did you bring me here? You must have realized that the stable boys had been barred from entering for the afternoon."

Grrrnal's jaw tightened. "I would not further disgrace you by bedding among straw and the filth of horses. I know this is not much better, but it was at least out of the way of prying eyes and unsuspecting ears."

"Thank you for cleaning me up."

"Of course."

"Grrrnal… I… I'm sorry."

Grrrnal did turn then, brow furrowed and lips twisted in a frown. "Why would you be sorry?"

Verran shook his head and shrugged where he sat, fingers tightening on the blanket covering him. "For what I asked of you… for being so weak and foolish to find myself in such a position… for making you do such… with a man."

Ah.

Grrrnal sighed and turned to look outside again. "Weakness and foolishness have nothing to do with it. Even the strongest may become entangled in a clever hunter's trap." Did Grrrnal ever know the truth of that. "And do not trouble yourself with the last. Dragons are far less concerned with such nonsense than humans. It is not uncommon for a dragon to change his or her gender when temperatures during the spawning make all the hatchlings of a generation either male or female. If we could only love or be with the opposite gender, dragons would have died out long ago."

"I… I see."

Awkwardness hung in the air like the stench of rotting potatoes.

Grrrnal swallowed hard. "As I promised, Master Verran, I will never speak of this to anyone. You may certainly tell those bastards that I broke the spell with my own magic if you wish, I will stand behind that statement."

"I…" Verran sighed. "You have my eternal gratitude."

Grrrnal sighed and stood. "Evening is coming soon, Master Verran. While I would not rush you, and welcome you to remain where you are as long as you wish, your father will miss your presence at dinner if you wait too much longer."

"Yes… thank you."

"If you need nothing else from me, I must return to the fence."

"I will be fine. Thank you."

Grrrnal nodded and ducked out of his home, a painful tightness constricting his breath as he returned to his work. Whatever was he going to do now?