What Granby doesn’t tell Lord Allendale is that he’s not a dragon hunter per se. He’s just got a certain aptitude for them and generally handles them better than most humans, but his new employer doesn’t need to know that.
The job is a straightforward rescue, nothing too exciting. A week ago, William Laurence had been taken as he and his betrothed were meant to be getting acquainted from the gardens of his father’s estate by a heavyweight dragon who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere was known to inhabit the forest nearby.
“How he got himself taken like some country girl, I’ll never know” Sighed the lord angrily “But the fact remains that it would be an embarrassment if he doesn’t show up to his own wedding, so please handle this matter swiftly.”
Of course, Granby also doesn’t tell Lord Allendale that it is quite common for dragons to take an interest in men – he himself knows a fellow by the name of Augustine who is most excellent company and is currently quite happily in the keeping of a dragon named Immortalis. Dragons do not concern themselves with society’s petty limitations on gender which is why Granby prefers their company to that of lords and ladies.
When Granby finds Laurence, the man is sat comfortably on the foreleg of an enormous black dragon with beautiful tendrils and a ruff, and is quietly reading to him. It is without a doubt an impressive breed and Mr. Laurence, with his blond hair and sky blue eyes, is exactly the type dragons (and Granby) take a liking to. The pair is evidently quite happy in each other’s company so Granby feels a bit uneasy having to interrupt them. He doesn’t have a plan when he approaches them, but experience, namely losing an arm, has made him quite good at thinking quickly on his feet.
“William Laurence?” he calls. Two sets of eyes look up at him but the dragon, thankfully, doesn’t seem to be an aggressive type and doesn’t move yet. He stops at a respectful distance before continuing, trying to find the best way to explain himself “your father sent me to bring you home.”
This, evidently, is the wrong way to start the conversation and the dragon reacts immediately. Laurence is snatched and clutched close to the dragon, sharp talons cupping him gently as he lifts himself on his haunches, ruff raised and wings spread wide.
“Whyever would I let you do that?” he asks, indignantly. “If you try to take Laurence from me, I will stomp on you!”
The threat would have been very effective if Granby wasn’t so amused at Laurence suddenly turning red in embarrassment.
“No, I – I do apologise” He says to Granby, before turning to address his dragon “Temeraire, my dear, please refrain from killing or otherwise harming this gentleman” he says, tapping the foreleg where he could reach it. “He is right, it is about time I returned to my father’s home.”
Granby is about to protest he’s no such thing as a gentleman, but neither pay him any mind. Temeraire shakes his head in denial, ruff flattening on his neck, and lifts Laurence to be eyelevel with him.
“But he wants you to marry!” he whispers, horrified. “Whilst of course anyone would be lucky to marry you, Laurence, I don’t want you to and you don’t want to so I don’t see why you ought to”.
Laurence softens considerably at his dragon’s evident distress and smiles fondly, albeit a bit sadly at him.
“It is my duty to my father. This marriage will help his affairs, besides” he adds in an attempt at comfort, “you will always be my first concern.”
This only makes the dragon – Temeraire – curl more tightly about him, making sure to keep himself between his companion and Granby all whilst throwing worried, suspicious glances at him.
“But you are not his to give, you are mine!”
The two continue to discuss in low tones, Laurence obviously torn between trying to make Temeraire understand and preserving his feelings whilst Temeraire stubbornly refuses to listen. Of all the things Granby didn’t expect, it was for Temeraire’s main objection to be the potential marriage, most dragons being ready to consider it as a means to ensure their companion’s legacy after death. Most would consider this a complication, Granby prefers to think of it as an opportunity to rectify an unfair situation. He’s always had a soft spot for magnificent dragons and their handsome companions after all.
“Don’t fret, now” he interrupts and grins as his audience is startled into attention “thankfully for you, I have exactly the solution.”
A few days later, Miss Harcourt is (quite willingly) taken away from her home by an acid spitter and the rumour spreads that anyone betrothed to one William Laurence would suffer the same fate. Some ladies have no qualms into seizing the opportunity to get away but for the most part, any desirable prospect disappears. Granby never does go back to get his payment but he hears Lord Allendale gives up trying rather quickly, disappointed but somehow unsurprised.
Laurence only complains half-heartedly but even he can’t hide his relief. Temeraire, for his part, is delighted and Granby is greeted with much more enthusiasm the next time he goes to visit.
“A most famous idea, oh I am so very happy, Laurence” he preens nudging Laurence with his snout. “Now there is no reason for you to go away, although I wouldn’t mind if you wished for some private time with Granby!”
That last remark was apparently meant to be discreet but is probably overheard by every living creature in the vicinity. Laurence flushes a deep red but his smile is so bright Granby wants to lean over and taste it.
Something tells him he'll be staying a while.