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“Prince Winter, this is Princess Blaze. Please say hello,” Queen Glacier said, looking at Winter expectantly.

Winter didn’t hesitate to dip his head towards the bejeweled SandWing, his heart pounding. He couldn’t believe he was actually meeting the esteemed Blaze face-to-face. This was a great honor, he knew. It was theorized by many IceWings that Glacier only allowed dragons she trusted to meet Blaze. Winter didn’t know if that was true, but he felt flattered nonetheless. It certainly made his parents happy too. He couldn’t remember a time they looked at him with such pride. He couldn’t remember a time when Icicle looked at him with such jealousy either.

Remembering he was supposed to speak, he quickly said, “Greetings Princess Blaze, I am Prince Winter, Glacier’s nephew. It’s an honor to meet y-”

He was cut off by a loud squeal. Jerking with alarm, he looked up, only to see Blaze with a huge smile on her face. He was taken aback by just how bright her beam was. Had he done something special? He knew SandWings were a crasser species than IceWings, but were they so uncouth that they didn’t show basic courtesy to their royalty?

He flinched, jerked out of his thoughts, when Blaze’s warm wings were suddenly wrapped around him and her face got startingly close with his. He forced himself to relax, reminding himself that Blaze was Glacier’s ally and guest. However, he couldn’t help but darkly think if any other dragon acted this familiar with him he wouldn’t have hesitated to snap at them.

Was this SandWing custom? Were they more touchy-feely than IceWings?

Continuing to hug him, Blaze cooed, “You didn’t tell me your nephew was adorable, Glacier!”

Winter was taken aback by that. Adorable? That was a word to describe freshly-hatched dragonets, not a dragon of Winter’s position and age.

He expected Glacier to correct Blaze, but much to his dismay, the IceWing queen wasn’t saying anything. Instead, she just sat there, watching the display with a strange smile. It looked like one of fond amusement.

Winter didn’t see what was so amusing about this situation or what there was to be fond of. He felt embarrassed.

Thankfully, Blaze pulled back a bit and studied him, saying, “He’s got magnificent scales! They look like they’re made of sheer diamond. Ugh! Now I am jealous!”

Now Winter felt self-conscious. He had never found his scales particularly special, but Blaze was looking down at him enviously with her glimmering black eyes. He idly wondered if she felt that way about all IceWings because their scales all looked similar.

Trying to be polite despite the awkwardness he felt, he dipped his head and said, “Thank you Princess Blaze, I-”

“Oh, you don’t need to be so formal, dear,” Blaze interrupted, waving a dismissive talon. “You can call me something else. Let’s see....” Then, letting out a gasp of excitement that had Winter flinching once again, she said, “I know! Call me Auntie Blaze instead!”

Winter was so shocked he couldn’t even hold back his next words as he stammered, “A-Auntie Blaze?”

“Yeah! Just like that!” Blaze said with a satisfied smile.

At the same time, Glacier finally stood from her seated position, saying, “That’s enough, Blaze.” She looked thoroughly embarrassed now, for reasons Winter couldn’t figure out.

“Oh? Was it supposed to be a secret? Whoopsie!” Blaze said, not sounding apologetic at all. Looking at Winter and winking, she continued, “Don’t tell anyone I said that, alright dear?”

“Yes, don’t,” Glacier said, much more warningly, her dark eyes giving him a challenging look as if daring him to say something against her. The look was enough to send a spike of fear in Winter’s heart.

Quickly nodding, Winter said, “Yes, Queen Glacier, Princess Blaze.”

Glacier nodded stiffly back before she flicked her wing towards the hall of the fortress. Slowly, she said, “Now if you excuse me, Prince Winter, Blaze and I have something to discuss. Privately. ” She emphasized the last word.

“Oh no, am I in trouble again?” Blaze asked loudly, sounding not too thrilled, but not at all terrified by the prospect like Winter would be.

Winter just bowed quickly and said, “Yes Queen Glacier.” before practically darting to the hallway to gather his thoughts.

‘What in all of Pyrrhia was that all about?” he wondered.

Surely Blaze and Glacier weren’t dating? No… no, that was a ridiculous thought.

… Was it?

The rest of the way towards his guest chambers was spent envisioning the ditzy SandWing as the second queen of the Ice Kingdom. The thought was a horrifying one.

‘Let’s hope not,’ he thought to himself as he closed the door and tried to forget what had just gone down.

But despite his efforts, he couldn’t get Glacier’s look of amused fondness for Blaze out of his head.