Ever since she was little, Darcy’s favorite story was of the dragons and their tamers. Her parents were very animated as they told her the tales, adding in that her great-great grandparents were owners of great dragons, small and mighty ones. She remembered laughing as her father would sneak up on her mother, pretending to be the dragon, and growl playfully as he kissed her cheek. She loved every minute of it.
“Remember Darcy,” Erica Lewis warned her. “It’s very rare for the dragon to bond with a second person. But if they do, it’s usually that person’s mate.”
“Mate?” The nine year old repeated. “What do you mean?”
“Your husband or wife,” Ben Lewis explained. “It most likely won’t happen, your dragon would be incredibly loyal to you and you only but –“ he shrugs. “The legend says it’s possible.”
The legend. That was all that it was to Darcy. A legend.
She loved those stories. She treasured them and carried them with her as she grew up. As she attended Culver, as she met the brilliant Dr. Jane Foster. Jane knew of the legend too, pushing them off as just that.
And then a literal alien fell from the sky and it wasn’t much of a legend anymore.
She timidly asked Thor about it on one of the rare nights that they spent alone while Jane finally caught some Z’s.
“I’m sorry to say, we don’t have dragons on Asgard. But we have seen them.” A great smile crosses Thor’s face and Darcy feels a tingle right down to her toes. “They’re here. They still exist.”
She thought about her mother. “They do?”
“They’re in waiting for the true caretaker of them to come back. Apparently when the last tamer died, they went into hiding.”
“Yeah, uh, my parents told me exactly that.”
“Did your parents like the stories?” Thor asked.
Darcy nodded. “They always seemed to...believe them. I always thought that they were just doing that for my benefit.”
Thor pats her shoulder, his strength half pushing her to the ground. “Aye, lightening sister. But maybe, maybe that’s not exactly the whole story.”
She calls her mother after Thor retires to bed.
“Please, don’t lie to me or say it’s a story. Please.”
Erica sighs deep in the back of her throat. “We suspected this when you were little. You always got along with reptiles more than girls and boys your age and we just weren’t sure but we just thought –“
Her mother makes a noise and then launches into the story. If Darcy wasn’t so literal, she would have thought her mother had smoked a big old doobie or something but she knew, she knew that wasn’t the case.
Her ancestors tamed the dragons of the old world. Mostly the women of the line, it seemed but a few men here and there, showed up with the gift too. The women were kinder, the women cared for the dragons and kept them close, protected them. There was one story about a husband and wife that both bonded with a dragon, a big beautiful creature called Malex. Malex was known to have laid several eggs and hidden them all over the place when the great threat came for the dragons. And then they disappeared, completely from the world.
But apparently not, according to Thor.
“They’re in hiding,” Erica parrots Thor’s words. “They’re waiting. Waiting for you.”
When Darcy got off the phone with her mother she had a panic attack.
And then got rip-roaring drunk.
When he was a young boy, his mother told him the stories of the dragons.
“You are like the dragons, Steven.”
He had just gotten over one of the longest asthma attacks he had had in his short life. In all logic, he should be dead at this moment. But he’s not.
“I don’t feel like it, Ma.”
His mother smiled, gently rubbing his back as he heaved another deep cough, spitting up in the basin by the bed. “Oh but you are. You’re like the great dragon, Malex.”
Sarah nodded. “When all the dragons had to go into hiding, she laid her eggs all over so soon, her kind would rise again. Her people, her bonds were with a man and wife and they are the only known couple to bond with a dragon. It was usually the women that would create those bonds but it happened.”
“It did, huh?”
Sharon nodded. “You have the heart of a dragon, my boy. And the soul of a warrior. You’ll live through this.”
Steve later suspected it was because she wanted to distract him from the fact that each rattling breath could be his last. For that, Steve was appreciative. He was appreciative of everything the woman did for him.
He told those stories to Bucky and the rest of the Commandoes on the front lines as they listened to bombs exploding in the distance. They knew death knocking on their door and the stories of flying on the backs of dragons and being free were comforting to say the least.
But it wasn’t enough.
Watching Bucky fall from the train, Steve wished a dragon was there to catch him. To bring him back up and set him in the sky like a star.
He wished for it again when the plane plummeted towards the ice. Peggy’s begging him for the coordinates, which he honestly cannot figure out right at that moment. He imagines as the ice gets closer, the great dragon just coming out of nowhere and plucking him up.
He could be free.
His last thoughts are of the different bits of chocolate brown in Peggy’s eyes as sleep takes him in.
After her mother’s death, Darcy inherits the house at Woodcliff Lake. Her parents owned fourteen acres there, and when she went over the documents, she learned her mother had recently bought another ten.
The wooded area outside her home stretched as far as the eye could see. At least, what her less than stellar vision could take in.
That first night in the house, she imagined she heard a dragon crying in the woods.
In the last weeks, she had started working at Stark Tower with Jane. Stark had granted her a two month leave when she had informed him of the death of her mother, and she learned later on that he had lost his own mother when he was twenty.
Darcy knew she couldn’t stay out here. The house was too far away from the city, away from her job and her life. With muttered apologies that she hoped her mother could hear, she set up plans to sell the house and the land.
That all changed when she found the dragon.
Yup. A real live baby dragon. Probably freshly hatched too by the looks of it.
Darcy’s eyes about bug out of her head when she stares at the creature. He stares back at her and she sees he has the biggest most beautiful orange eyes ever, almost like the setting sun. Her heart begins to swell in her chest and oh yeah, this is what her mother and Thor were talking about.
Leaning down in front of the little thing, she watches carefully as he begins to nuzzle at his own scaly chest. And then she jumps out of the way as he sneezes and sets the nearby bush on fire.
“Oh shit, oh shit!” Darcy digs into her backpack and pulls out the two water bottles she had packed this morning in preparation for her hike, dumping them both over the small flames. Luckily that’s enough and it sets the bush to a smoldering muss of smoky weeds. She looks back at the little black and green creature at her feet and oh my Thor he’s yanking on her pant leg like a dog. “What a time to need Thor and have him not be Earthside.”
She quits her job at Stark Tower the next day.
Jane comes out the day after, and Darcy watches through her front window as the small but furious scientist comes stomping up her front walk and uses her whole body weight to bang on the door. “Darcy Abigail Lewis, you open this door!”
She does as she’s told and Jane tumbles in, turning an angry and hurt gaze on her. “Let me explain,” Darcy quickly spits out, holding up two hands like she’s trying to ease a wild dog.
“Explain what? You quit!” Jane shouts. “You left me there all alone!”
“You barely notice I’m there half the time!”
“I notice when you’re not there!”
Darcy folds her arms in front of her chest. “Gee thanks Janey.”
Jane scowls, pushing her dirty hair out of her eyes. “You know what I mean.”
“Listen, I will tell you everything. But first, for you to believe me, I’m going to have to show you. Okay?”
The other woman nods. “Okay? Darcy, what is going on here?” Darcy hesitated but her new housemate did the deciding for her by letting out the loudest scream that could probably be heard in Texas. “What the hell was that?”
“Uh...” Another shriek fills the air, one that sounds a heck of a lot like a child shouting MOM. Jane takes off like a shot towards where the scream came from, Darcy hot on her heels. “Jane! Jane, wait!”
Jane barrels through the backdoor and stops suddenly, Darcy nearly slamming into her. “That’s a – that’s –“
Her new friend lays curled on the ground, smoke puffing up through his nose. He lifts his head at the sight of Jane and shrieks again, this time a bit quieter. Both women dive out of the way as he sneezes and lights the nearby brush on fire. Darcy grabs up the fire extinguisher she had left by the backdoor and quickly douses it as Jane inches closer.
“He’s a male,” Jane says and Darcy almost drops the fire extinguisher.
Jane kneels down in front of him, reaching out a knuckle. He sniffs her hand and lets out a happy chitter, letting her stroke his nose. “Can’t be more than a few weeks old.”
“That’s – that’s what I figured. Uh Jane, how do you know this?”
“Oh please. I’m not just about the stars, Darce.” She smiles up at her, still stroking the dragon’s nose. “He needs a name.”
“Wha-oh! I’ve, uh, been thinking about Norbert.”
Jane laughs and Norbert mimics the noise. “After Harry Potter?”
Darcy shrugs. “Why not?”
Jane continues to scratch Norbert’s nose. “Do you like that name? Norbie?” Norbert chitters again and flops his head down in Jane’s lap. “I think he likes it.”
Darcy kneels down beside them. “I don’t understand. How did you know this?”
“My aunt Charlene told me the stories of the dragons when I was growing up. It was actually that that got me into the stars because I came across the Draco constellation in my research and Draco –“
“Means dragon,” Darcy echoes.
Jane smacks her lips. “I loved the stories but to me they were always stories. And then Thor fell from the sky and I knew then, that wasn’t quite true.”
“That was what clinched it for me too,” Darcy admits. “And he told me that they still roamed the earth too.”
“How did you find him?” Jane asks.
Darcy regales her with the story of her hike, and finding the midget in the brush, freshly hatched and freaked out. She continues on and tells her everything about her heritage too, almost enjoying the gobsmacked expression that crosses her friend’s face.
They switch spots on the ground, Norbert climbing into Darcy’s lap. “He’s gonna get big, Darce. He’s not one of the small ones, I can tell just by looking at him. You’re gonna have to provide for him, there’s not exactly a dragon rescue that you can go to for help.”
“I do need help though,” Darcy admits. “I need to find someone who knows about the care for dragons, and how to keep him safe. I’ve already started looking and come up with a few bites but the internet is not exactly trustworthy when it comes to stuff like this.”
Jane chuckles and pats her hand. “I have faith in you. Hey, what about Thor?”
“What about him?”
“His magic can help put a barrier around your house so no one wanders in to find Norbert. And he could direct you to someone who is an expert in dragon baby care.”
And that’s exactly what happens.
When he sees his new uniform, Steve almost bursts into laughter.
“Are those scales?”
Maria nods confusedly. “Yeah. Why?”
Steve traces the sleeve and watches as the scales begin to shift in color. You were right, Ma. “Nothing, Maria.”
The other agent leaves and Steve continues to stare at the uniform. His other one got mangled beyond repair in the Battle of New York and to be honest, he wasn’t too upset.
His mother’s words rang in his head when he woke up, alive and somewhat well seventy years later.
Rise up, like the dragon.
So he did.
Steve fiddles with the buttons on his new uniform, snorting with laughter as the scales continue to change to different shades of blue. He sees even a hint of green here and there across his shoulders. If only his Ma and Bucky could see him now. They’d never let him hear the end of it.
After suiting up, he goes down to join the rest of the team. Sam and Natasha are smirking and he flips them his middle finger as he listens to the mission from Fury, which was a low level threat in the middle of the city that once they dispersed, they could be home for lunch. They head for the jet and within a minute, they are downtown to where some asshole with an armory of weapons strapped to his body has taken a bank full of people hostage.
Once he’s taken down and the hostages are freed, Steve walks around the perimeter to double check.
He’s in the back, alone, when it happens.
There’s a great cry above and Steve looks up, seeing nothing. He brushes it off and goes to walk in the back entrance, not noticing how the sunlight makes his scales shine their brightest when, when –
Enormous claws wrap around his upper arms and lift him up, right up off of his feet and into the air. He screams but no one seems to hear, and he wrenches his head up to see – a dragon.
The dragon carries him higher and higher, it’s claws tightening around him the more he struggles.
Thor congratulates Darcy at least six times on Norbert.
“You are a great lady, lightening sister. You hold so much power you are not aware of,” Thor tells her as he rapidly shakes her hand.
Jane smiles sweetly from behind Thor, shaking her head. Thor inspects Norbert, praising his name. “Sir Norbert, the great and noble steed of my lightening sister!”
Norbert pants like a dog, letting Thor rub his hands all over his shoulders. “He’s a newborn. Probably only two weeks old. He probably survived on insects until you were led to him, Darcy.” Darcy nods, watching as Thor continues to examine Norbert. “He’s going to be big. Probably as tall as you and magnificently strong.”
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
“I would say good. He’s going to be a great one,” Thor smiles at Norbert, who flashes back a gummy grin and bats his big orange eyes at him. Darcy notices the different shades of pink that are forming in his irises.
Jane laughs out loud and the tips of Thor’s ear flush scarlet. “I can help with what Jane asked. I can put a barrier around your home so no one will find him. He’s –“ He eyes Norbert for a moment. “He will only be visible to those who believe.”
“Wait, like Santa Claus?”
Darcy chuckles at Jane’s guffaw of laughter and Thor nods. “Yes, exactly like that.”
“Wait a minute –“ Jane cocks her head. “Santa Claus exists?”
Norbert grows rapidly. Within only a few months, he’s as tall as she is and growing still. Darcy watches as ears like a cat pop from his head and his smile gets wider, thankfully with only one set of teeth in his face. He sneaks inside all the time, despite having more than enough body heat to stay warm outside. She finds him on her couch a lot and soon, he makes her couch collapse from the weight. She ends up buying out Bed, Bath, and Beyond’s pillows and makes him a couch of his own.
Darcy finds a job nearby that keeps her lights on and that’s enough for her. Jane moves her lab to the back room of Darcy’s house, much to the chagrin of Tony Stark. “Hey come on. You’ve taken care of my ass for three years. Least I can do.”
Darcy later learns that Jane is using Norbert’s dragonfire to power some of her machines.
How her house hasn’t blown to kingdom come, she will never know.
Norbert begins to fly at four months old and he is fast. As he gets older his distances increase and sometimes he comes back with gross things like a deer.
And then he comes back with a child’s bright pink bike.
Followed by a sunshine yellow ATV.
“He’s attracted to bright colors!”
Jane bursts out laughing. “You have a cat with wings!”
Darcy slaps a hand to her forehead.
The thievery increases to the point that she has to return the stuff in the middle of the night using Norbert’s invisibility shield as help.
“You’re gonna fly him?”
“I have too Janey. There’s no other way I can return his treasures.” She frowns at Norbert who at least has the decency to look ashamed.
“How are you going to stay on?”
Darcy produces the reins she had bought at a nearby sporting store. “Wasn’t easy measuring his fat neck.” Norbert chitters and she shoots him a glare. “Hey, you continue to steal stuff this is how it’s gonna be, young man!”
Norbert makes a sound that is remarkably like ‘bla bla bla’. Jane laughs again and Darcy gives her a shove before marching over to her dragon and gently looping the reins around his neck and upper arms. “All right? Not too tight?” Norbert shakes his head and Darcy props her foot up on his wing and swings her leg over his large neck. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Holy shit this is trippy.”
“Be careful, Darcy.”
“Oh, I’m always careful. You know me. The Queen of Careful. All righty, Norbie. Up. Slowly.”
Norbert begins to flap his wings like she instructs and rises about ten feet in the air so he can latch his claws around the bike and the ATV. Jane watches them apprehensively. “Are you sure about this?”
“More sure than anythinnnngggggg!”
And off they go.
For about two weeks after that terrifying night, Norbert doesn’t steal anything else. Darcy lets herself breathe a little, hoping like heck this is just a childish phase and he’s moving on.
But she’s never that lucky.
She does the frightening drive into the city one weekend to help Jane drop off some research at the Avengers tower. The Avengers are not there, having been called out on a low level threat but the queen Pepper Potts is, and she asks Jane to stay behind. “They should be back in a few hours and Mr. Stark wants to speak with you. Ms. Lewis, you are welcome to stay as well.”
Something tingles in the root of Darcy’s spine and she shakes her head. “I should really head back. Uh, Jane can you take the subway? I’ll pick you up at the station.”
Jane nods, understanding in her eyes. Before Pepper can even say anything, Darcy bolts from the room. Jarvis speeds the elevator up, taking her back down to the parking garage and she guns it as fast as she can go back to New Jersey. Which takes her a whole two hours but whatever.
When she pulls the car up the long driveway, she can see the shimmer of the force field surrounding her home. After parking the Jeep, the force field swallows her up and leads her to the backyard. A gleeful Norbert is sitting there, munching on the venison steaks she had left him this morning.
“Oh thank Thor.” Trotting over to where he sits, she brushes her fingers up and down his cheek. “I dunno why I had such a bad feeling a little while ago. Maybe I’m spending too much time around magical things.”
Norbert chitters, pressing his cheek to hers. Darcy giggles, letting him nudge her to the right.
A shine of scaly blue catches her attention.
Darcy’s eyes settle and her jaw slide opens.
An unconscious Captain America is lying on her back porch.