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The Stuff of Legends

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In the grand Achievement kingdom, a great wedding was being held. The oldest son of the King Geoff and Queen Griffin, Prince Michael, was getting married to Princess Lindsey, the daughter of the warrior Queen of a nearby kingdom. Their marriage was to make peace and the two truly loved each other. The entire castle was bustling with excitement and joy. Which was all well and good, but it made Ray gag.

            Ray was the personal servant of Michael’s best friend and one day royal advisor, Gavin. Michael, Lindsey, and Gavin all treated him like a friend which he was grateful for, however, he was only a lowly servant. Along with the wedding came boisterous and obnoxious nobles that either harassed or screamed at Ray for no apparent reason.

            As Gavin’s servant, he had to deal with them more than most of the castles working staff. He had to fetch this lord or that, make sure they had a nice stay. It was bull shit and Ray hated it. He hated being a servant, Gavin often asked him his opinion and Ray would give it to him. He often stopped fights between Michael and Gavin in order to get work done. However, since Lindsey came, they asked him his opinions less and less. 

            He was just another servant in a castle of obnoxious nobles and people who generally didn’t give a shit. The King and Queen were kind, Michael, Gavin, and Lindsey cared, but that was about it. He didn’t even know why Gavin even needed a servant, Ray would feel more useful being the gardener.

            The wedding was beautiful, white and red tapestries hung from the castle’s church. Lindsey dressed in red instead of white and Michael stood in his best clothes. Gavin was trying and failing not to cry. The King and Queen looked so proud and the crowd was smiling. Only Ray seemed to notice the fucking dragon circling the church. He could see its shadow through the stained glass windows. Seriously, how was no one noticing that?

            He was running for Michael and Lindsey when the dragon burst through the large stain glass window that they were standing in front of. The dragon’s scales glistened varying shade of blue, the color morphing as it moved. It roared, spitting fire at the crowds, catching some people on fire. Its huge talon claws reached for Lindsey, the warrior Princess trying to reach for a sword while Michael had already drawn his.

            The dragon swatted Michael away without a second though and just before it could grab Lindsey, Ray pushed her out of the way. He hissed when the dragon grabbed him instead, the talons squeezing him tightly. The dragon took no notice of who it grabbed and flew away from the castle. Ray didn’t even struggle, he’d probably be eaten when they got back to the dragon’s den. He was fucked, he accepted that.

            Why the hell was a dragon trying to steal the Princess anyway? Oh yes, the story Ray’s mother always told him. About the dragon that came on every wedding day and tried to steal the bride away. How could they forget? It was a curse on the castle that no one knew how to break. Ray wondered if he had accidentally broken it by taking Lindsey’s place. He doubted it.

            They flew for quite some time before coming to a large mountain range. Ray could see other beasts, griffins, dragons, and trolls as they flew overhead. He gulped nervously hoping the dragon wouldn’t accidentally drop him.

            They eventually came to a small out cove carved out into the side of a mountain. The dragon gently placed Ray on the ground before landing. Ray yelped when the dragon’s tail curled around him and the dragon looked him over. He froze, watching the sky eyes look at him. “You’re not a Princess.” It said, its voice gravelly and confused. “What the hell?”

            Ray shrugged. “Oh uh, you know. Better look before you grab random people.” Ray nervously laughed, a little shocked that the dragon could talk.

            The dragon snorted amused. Ray watched in amazement as the dragon began to shrink in size as it wondered into the shallow cave that was its home. A man with the same dragon tail and wings stood with his back to Ray as he dug through a pile of clothes. He pulled on some pants before looking at Ray. If it wasn’t for the wings and the tail, he would have looked like any other man. Granted, he was a very, very good looking man. His hair was a sandy blond and his eyes were still the same color as the sky. His chest, abs, and arms were well toned and Ray gulped trying not to stare. The dragon had been beautiful before, the scales and wings were so amazing.

            “Well, I guess you’re stuck here until they come to get you.” The dragon said, moving around the cave. There were piles of armor and bones, previous knights probably. There was a nest of twigs and pillows that the man dragon curled up on. “I can only take one person from the castle at a time. You’ll just do what I’d make the Princess do.”

            Ray stood awkwardly, watching the dragon pick at the scales on his tail. “I- what?” He asked, eyeing the piles of bones nervously. “Why?”

            The dragon sighed. “It’s part of the curse, I don’t like it as much as you do.” He said, stretching his wings. “You’ll clean and cook. I have the things in the armor pile I think.” He waved lazily at the pile. “There’s bedding somewhere in there, I think.”

            Ray frowned he left one hell to enter another. He sighed and started digging through the pile of armor and other random things. He found the cooking pot, bowls, and wood, but no bedding nor anything to actually cook in the pot. “Hey, where’s your food?”

            The dragon glanced at him from his nest then pointed to a small path leading down the mountain. “There’s a witch at the end of that path, just ask her for food.”

            Ray frowned and hesitantly followed the path to a small house. Before he could knock, an old women threw the door open and pushed a sack into Ray’s arms. She slammed the door shut leaving Ray standing in front of her house confused. He glanced in the sack and found enough food to last him the week if he did it right.

            “I’m fucked.” He sighed as he started back up the path. “No one is coming for me, and I’m stuck in this place until that dragon decides to kill me.”

            When he returned, the dragon didn’t acknowledge him and he just sighed. It was nearly exactly like living in the castle. No one cared about what Ray did.

            The day turned to night quickly as Ray cooked stew in the pot over a wood fire. There was a freshwater pond a small waterfall fed next to the bone pile that Ray used for water. As the sun went down and Ray waiting for his food to cook, it got colder and colder.

            Ray curled up on himself to stay warm, moving closer and closer to his meek fire. He had to stop when he was practically burning himself on the heat, but he was still cold. There were no blankets or bedding in the junk pile. He would freeze to death, he was sure of it.

            When the stew was done, Ray dipped his bowl in and ate quickly, hoping the food would warm him. He didn’t notice the dragon stir or even stand. He didn’t realize the dragon was right behind him until a blanket landed on his shoulders.

            Ray jumped and watched the dragon grab the remaining bowl and take some of the stew. He curled up in the blanket, shivering and blowing into his hands. The dragon didn’t talk to him, just ate the stew slowly. His tail tapped the ground and a small rumble went through his chest. He then started to eat the stew faster after that, Ray took it that to mean that he liked it.

            That night, Ray slept close to the fire, curled into a ball under the blanket. The blanket helped, but he was still cold. The dragon didn’t speak a word to him. Even in the morning, Ray was left to his own devices so he dug through the junk pile, sorting between armor and useful things.

            The dragon snarled at him when something dropped. “What are you doing?” He asked Ray sleepily, tail whipping angrily back and forth.

            “I’m organizing your shit.” Ray said, not caring that the dragon was annoyed with him. “You have a lot of useless things and then a lot of good stuff.”

            The dragon watched Ray for a short while before snorting and going back to sleep. Ray found that the dragon did nothing but sleep. He took nearly all day to organize the junk pile, some armor and jewels Ray was sure were far older than he thought possible.

            He didn’t eat until that night either. He ate the stew, curled up in the blanket again. He wanted to eat more but this was the only way to make the food last a week before he had to go back to the witch’s house.

            Just like the night before, the dragon came over, ate, and then returned to his nest. He didn’t even look at Ray. It didn’t matter to Ray however, this was nothing new to him. Servants were scum of the earth and all that shit.

            They progressed like that for weeks. Ray would clean the things he found in the junk pile, the dragon would sleep, Ray would hide the weapons he found for later use, the dragon would sleep, Ray would go see the witch once a week and Ray wouldn’t eat until that night, and the dragon slept and ate what Ray made. Sometimes the dragon would be awake for the entire day, watching Ray clean and sort his pile of random things that he had collected over the years. Sometimes he would ask Ray questions. It was literally sickening to Ray.

            Ray’s new eating habits were taking their toll. He was getting thinner. The dragon watched him one his few awake days. “You’re thinner.” He observed as Ray struggled to pick up a heavy chest piece that was covered in green gems.

            “Yep, thanks for noticing.” Ray sighed, dragging the piece over to the pond. He only did this to do something with his time. “I’m watching my figure.”

            “It’s not healthy.” The dragon countered, frowning. “You can ask the witch for food at any time you know.”

            “I don’t like bothering her.” Ray sighed, dipping a rag into the pond before trying to scrub the dirt, grime, and what he assumed was blood off of the chest piece. “Why do you care anyway? You want me gone.”

            The dragon snorted, his tail thumbing against the ground. “The curse isn’t to kill you.” He snapped. “It’s only until someone comes to get you. If you were a Princess I would have to fight who ever came, but you’re not.”

            Ray groaned, scrubbing harder at the chest piece. “I don’t think you’re understanding. No one is coming to get me. It’d be best to just let me starve myself or turn me into one of those piles of bones over there.” He hated the truth of his words. “I’m a servant, replaceable. No one is coming for me.”

            The dragon frowned, his tail thumbing louder against the ground. “No family?” He asked, his scales clicking against each other.

            “Mother died when I was ten and I never knew my father.” Ray sighed, dipping the rag back into the pond. “I was the servant of the Prince’s friend, he can find another.”

            The dragon didn’t respond, but Ray heard him get up and actually leave the cave. Ray looked back, watching in surprise as the dragon disappeared down the path to the witch’s house. He shook his head and quickly stood and grabbed the sword he had hidden weeks ago. He ran for the only other path that lead out of the cave. It was the path that whoever would come to save the Princess would arrive on.

            Ray figured that since no one was coming for him, he might as well use it. Even if he was weak with hunger, the path couldn’t be that bad. He didn’t get far before he found a group of sleeping trolls blocking the path. They were huge monsters with sharp teeth and gnarled claws that could rip Ray to shreds in seconds.

            “Nope.” There was no way around them and Ray decided that, although he had told the dragon earlier that he would probably be better off dead, he rather liked living. He was back in the cave before the dragon, the sword haphazardly throw back onto the pile of weapons Ray had yet to clean.

            Ray was back exactly where the dragon left him when the man beast returned with five sacks of food in each of his hands. He dropped them next to the sack Ray had brought back earlier in the week.

            Ray looked at the dragon in shock and the beast snorted at him. “Eat normally.” He hissed at Ray before walking over to the pile of armor and dragging the heavier pieces over to Ray.

            Ray just stared as the dragon grabbed a cloth and started helping Ray polish the old armor. “What are you- why?” Ray asked, frowning.

            The dragon shrugged. “Ryan.” He said, frowning at a particularly stubborn spot of blood. “My name is Ryan.”

            Ray started to laugh, smiling bitterly. “I’m Ray.” He said, turning back to the armor he was cleaning.

            Ray found that Ryan was rather stubborn. The dragon would wake up with him and make sure Ray ate a breakfast before doing anything else. He helped Ray in his busy work and then would force him to eat a noon meal before continuing working.

            Ray didn’t understand it, but he wondered how long it would last. How long would Ryan actually care about his health? Weeks and months past and Ryan kept to his new habits. They rarely talked, but Ray found peace in heaving Ryan just being awake and doing something with him.

            Ray tried to escape only one more time, managing to sneak out while Ryan was sleeping and managed to sneak around the trolls only to find another hell waiting him. He found himself trapped between sleeping trolls and sleeping griffins when Ryan found him. The dragon was in his beast form hissing at the trolls who had just woken up and were heading for Ray.

            Ryan curled around Ray spitting fire at the monsters until they backed off. Ryan growled at Ray, picking him up and taking him back to the cave. “It’s dangerous out there!” Ryan hissed at Ray as he changed back to his human form, digging around for a pair of pants. “It’s a trial path! People die on that road!”

            Ray sighed and tossed the sword onto the weapon pile. “No shit.” He snapped back at the dragon. “I’m sorry I don’t want to be stuck here! Sorry I want to bother returning to my own kind!”

            Ryan growled at him, his tail whipping back and forth. “I know you want to do that! Someone is coming for you! Just be patient!” He turned and started toward his nest.

            Ray shook with anger. Ever since Ryan started helping him the dragon would insist that someone was coming for him over and over again. He couldn’t take it anymore. He grabbed a rock and chucked it Ryan’s back. It landed in the middle of Ryan’s back.

            The dragon whirled around and roared at him, fire and smoke steaming from his lips. Ray just glared at Ryan. “No one is coming for me!” He yelled. “Stop saying that someone is because they aren’t!”

            Ryan stared at Ray as he started to pace, pulling at his hair. “I was useless. ­Replaceable. Why aren’t you getting that?!” Ray yelled, glaring at Ryan, tears streaming down his cheeks. “Sure, I won’t go back to my home, but I could go somewhere else and be something! Anything, I don’t give a fuck!”

            Ryan’s tensed muscles relaxed as he watched Ray rant and cry. He slowly approached the human. “Then I could be somewhere where people didn’t pretend! There wouldn’t be any snotty nobles or people who pretend to care!” Ray continued. He froze when strong arms wrapped around him and he was pulled to a warm chest. Ryan’s wings wrapped protectively around him.

            Ray sobbed and wrapped his arms around Ryan’s waist. He hid his face in the dragon’s chest. “No one is coming.” He sniffed.

            He felt Ryan’s fingers pet his hair, straightening out the knots he hadn’t bothered to take care of. “You’re someone here.” The dragon soothed softly.

            Ray sniffed and sobbed, holding onto Ryan with all he had. He didn’t really remember how it happened, but he slept in Ryan’s nest that night. The dragon’s wing warmed him as he curled into Ryan’s side.

            The next day progressed much like the others had, but Ryan talked more. He pulled Ray into conversations about the politics that he knew and the culture of humans and of dragons. He told Ray about how he got caught up in the curse and how old he was.

            “So you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time?” Ray snickered, smiling at the dragon’s embarrassment. Ryan’s scales changed to be a light red tinge.

            “Alright, listen. It’s not my fault I lost the fucking cow. How the hell was I supposed to know that I stole a witch’s cow?” Ryan insisted, smiling. Once he had stolen said witch’s cow he lost it, making the witch angry and cursing him to steal Princesses from the nearby kingdom for the rest of his life.

            Ray laughed, shaking his head. “How the hell do you lose a cow?” He asked, resting his chin on his knees.

            Ryan shrugged. “It was smart! I turned my back for five seconds and it was gone!” He said, shaking his head at the memory. “So now I’m cursed to steal Princesses so that I can eat.”

            Ray frowned. “Wait, so that’s the entire point of this curse?” He asked, glancing at the sacks of food. The realization clicked in his head. “You stole her cow?!”

            Ryan sighed and nodded. “Yep, the witch that gives us food is the one. There are two ways that the curse can be broken. One is if I die and the other is if I and a human fall in love. That’s why I have this human form.” He gestured down to himself. “I can only be in my actual form for varying amount of time. I get tired after I change back.”

            Ray nodded. “Oh, so that’s why you sleep so much.” He said, previous events suddenly making much more sense. “So you steal Princesses to get one to fall in love with you which doesn’t happen, someone comes to get her and you fight them and they escape?”

            Ryan nodded. “Basically. That’s the idea anyway. I don’t have to steal Princesses, clearly, but there’s usually a bunch of knights that come for them that are easy to fend off.”

            “Ah.” Ray frowned, hugging his knees tighter to his chest. “Well I guess it also works if no one comes at all then.”     

            Ryan frowned at Ray, shifting closer to the human to wrap his wing around Ray in a comforting gesture. “You’re much better company than any of the Princesses and Princes I’ve had to deal with.” He smiled at Ray gently. “You hold decent conversations.”

            Ray laughed, leaning into Ryan’s wing smiling. “Thank you Rye.” He said, watching the fire burn.

            Ryan froze for a moment at the name Ray used then relaxed, smiling. “No problem Ray.” He said.


 

            Ryan learned a lot about humans from Ray and how they’re changed since the last time he was in decent contact with one. He loved Ray’s stories that he recounted from his mother and the stories about the shenanigans that Ray experienced at the castle. He especially loved the story where Michael lost to Lindsey in a fight and that’s how they fell in love with each other.

            He found he enjoyed Ray’s company more than he thought he would. He loved watching Ray find something to do with his hands, whether that be to clean armor or draw in the dirt with a rusted sword. He was amused that Ray took a liking to a knife. The blade was standard iron, but the guard looked like the leaves of a rose and the hilt itself was made to look like vines. The bottom of the hilt was a rose carved into garnet.

            “You can have it.” Ryan told Ray when the human kept picking the weapon up and looking at it before setting it back down. “I don’t have any use for it.”

            Ray gave him a look that made the dragon’s heart flutter. Ray’s eyes were wide and excited, his smile bright and adorable. “Really?! Thank you!” Ray said happily, searching around the scattered sheaths Ryan had to find one that fit the knife.

            Ryan made a point to go to see the witch that week, asking her to give him a living rose. She gave him a knowing smile before giving him one. When he returned to Ray, the human was ecstatic at the sight of the flower. Ryan was amazed at how long Ray made the flower live after getting it.

            “I always wanted to be the gardener.” Ray said as he gently stroked the petals of the rose. “I was always much better at it than being a general servant.”

            Ryan watched Ray, smiling fondly. “You’ve taken good care of that rose.” He commented, sitting beside Ray at the pond. 

            Ray smiled sheepishly at Ryan. “It’s not hard, roses are stubborn.”

            Ryan laughed. “That’s not the only thing that’s stubborn.” He commented, running his fingers through Ray’s hair.

            Ray snorted. “Yeah, you’re a fucking mule.” He smiled at Ryan, shifting closer to the dragon.

            Ryan snorted, shaking his head. He knew his mistake as soon as he realized that Ray had a growing pile of roses. He would get the human a rose every time he visited the witch. The human was ecstatic, but Ryan saw what was happening. He was falling in love and it pained him to think that Ray would never love him back.

            He no longer wanted anyone to come for Ray, he wanted to keep the human happy. If that meant sending away anyone from the kingdom that came for Ray, if any did, he would. Ray wasn’t happy there. He smiled with Ryan, he should stay where he was happy. At least, Ryan hoped that Ray was happy.

            Ray didn’t talk about the castle unless Ryan asked for a story. Instead he talked about the different things that he knew something about. Ryan would tell Ray about what he knew and the human was more than a little interesting in new things. When Ryan told Ray about the stars and their stories, Ray asked Ryan to show him the constellations he always talked about.

            Ryan and Ray would look at the stars from Ryan’s nest. Ryan would tell Ray stories about the stars until the human fell asleep curled into Ryan’s side, using the dragon’s wings for warmth. Ryan would play with Ray’s hair, smiling until he fell asleep himself. He would always wake up the next morning alone, Ray doing something already.

            When winter came, Ryan insisted that Ray sleep in his next every night. “It’s too cold to sleep by yourself.” He insisted, watching Ray’s cheeks turn pink and smiling. “I don’t want you to freeze to death.”

            “Fine! But it’s only because you’re warm!” Ray finally caved, blushing to his ears. He was already shivering and the sun was hanging high in the sky. “I should get warmer clothes.”

            Ryan instinctively wrapped his arms and wings around Ray to keep him warm. “I’ll ask the witch the next time I go.” He said gently, nuzzling Ray’s head.

            Ray’s face turned a darker pink. “Rye?” He asked nervously, looking up at the dragon. Ryan had been showing him what the dragon had defined as dragon courting behavior. He wasn’t sure what to make of it.

            “Yes?” Ryan smiled, breathing in Ray’s scent and pulling the human into his lap. Ray flirted with him, Ryan knew he was. They were getting closer to each other, so Ryan decided that he should at least try to get Ray to fall in love with him.

            Ray curled into Ryan, frowning. “You’re not doing this to break the curse, are you?” He asked in a small voice.

            Ryan frowned, a small growl reverberating through his chest. “I don’t give a shit about the curse.” He said, pulling Ray closer to him. “If you’re here, it breaking is a nice addition.”

            Ray smiled brightly at him, warping his arms around Ryan’s waist. They stayed like that for the majority of the day. Small touches and happy smiles. It wasn’t until Ryan cared Ray over to his nest for the knight that the human kissed Ryan.

            Ryan froze, not knowing what to do. Kissing wasn’t something dragons did, but fuck did it feel nice. He kissed Ray back to the best of his ability, his wings surrounding them and his tail wrapping around Ray’s legs.

            Ray pulled back, his face a faint shade of pink and smiling. Ryan smiled and nuzzled his nose into Ray’s neck, peppering his neck with kisses. He never asked the witch for warmer clothes for Ray that week, he forgot to. The cold never bothered Ryan and he could be Ray’s warmth. He got Ray clothes the next week, although the human had nothing really to do around the cave other than to lay in the nest with Ryan.

            Ray was happy to stay snuggled into Ryan’s chest and have the dragon be his heat source. They spent their days in the nest for the most part. Ryan asked Ray far too many embarrassing questions about how exactly they would mate. It took Ryan a lot of coaxing and kisses before he was able to get it out of Ray.

            “Uh well, you uh. Take your dick, the thing between your legs? And put it up my…Oh I can’t do this.” Ray blushed hiding his face in Ryan’s shoulder.

            Ryan purred (yes purred because that’s a dragon thing, Ray loved it) and drew shapes into Ray’s side. “Where do I put it?” Ryan asked innocently which didn’t help Ray at all.

            Ray swallowed his nerves. “You put it up my ass, I-I mean, I can’t have kids but that’s how it works between guys and yeah.” He managed out, blushing deeply.

            Ryan snorted, purring and nuzzling Ray’s head. “That’s all? It seems similar to what dragons do.”

            “Well, that’s not all.” Ray sighed, leaning into Ryan’s hand when the dragon started to run his fingers through his hair. “You do foreplay stuff.”

            Ryan chuckled. “Dragons do that too.” He purred, kissing Ray’s neck. “Although I suppose it’s a little different.”

            Ray shuddered under Ryan, moving his neck slightly to give Ryan space. “Y-yep.” He managed out with a quiet gasp.

            Ryan chuckled, nipping at Ray’s skin and sliding his fingers up Ray’s shirt. “Alright with this?”

            Ray threaded his fingers in Ryan’s hair then gently tugged on his hair. “Yeah, I’m fine with it.” He smiled, pulling Ryan into a kiss.

            Ryan kissed him back deeply. Their hands wondered until Ray’s clothes were thrown away and Ryan lost his pants. Ray directed him, fingers first then dick. Ryan greatly enjoyed just watching Ray moan and arch from the actions of his fingers, but he ached to feel Ray more completely.

            Ryan nipped and kissed at Ray’s neck as he moved rhythmically inside of Ray. Growls rumbled in his chest when Ray’s fingers tugged at his hair and Ray’s beautiful moans hit his ears. His arms were wrapped around Ray’s body as Ray arched against him, moaning Ryan’s name.

            Ray squeezed him tightly when he tipped over the edge, pulling Ryan with him. Ryan moaned loudly, filling Ray with his seed before struggling not to crush Ray. He pulled away from Ray, rolling to his side and pulling Ray to his chest. Ray was panting and smiling, laughing when Ryan’s wing s wrapped around him and Ryan’s tail curled around his legs.

            “Fuck Rye.” Ray laughed breathlessly, peppering kisses on Ryan’s chest. “That was amazing.”

            Ryan purred loudly, kissing Ray’s head. He held his mate closely. “It was my rose.” He sighed, glad he could finally feel right using his pet name for Ray.

            Ray laughed at the name and moved closer to Ryan. “Does this mean the curse if broken?” He asked, knowing he shouldn’t obsess over it, but he was wondering something. “Will you go back to being just a dragon?”

            Ryan nuzzled Ray’s hair, feeling tired. “I won’t go back, I’ll stay like I am.” He said, kissing Ray’s head. “I prefer it that way. Sleep rose.”

            Ray chuckled, closing his eyes and feeling at home. He wasn’t sure when Ryan and the cave had started to feel like home to him, but they had. He belonged here. Ryan’s purrs as the dragon slept told him the he was loved. That the dragon cared more than he probably should. It warmed Ray more than Ryan did. This was home, and neither Ray nor Ryan thought anything would change that.


 

            Winter passed and spring was starting when someone actually came for Ray. Ryan was waiting for Ray to return from the witch’s house. Although the curse was actually broken, it was easier for the both of them if the witch just continued to give them food. He stretched his wings as he waited, his nose catching the scent of humans that were not his mate.

            Ryan growled and looked at the path most hero’s arrived on. He turned into his beast form and paced at the path. He hopped that Ray got caught up talking to the witch which he often did now. He could see the Prince and another human from the kingdom he had attacked fighting and winning against the trolls.

            Neither looked particularly weak, they were some of the few that made it through the path without injury. Ryan normally would have had to fight many badly injured knights before this point. When the best knight came, the one who would save the Princess came, he gave up quickly, not wanting to risk death.

            Ryan was not giving up easily this time. Ray was his mate, he wasn’t going to let anyone take him away. He snarled as the humans made their way up to his cave. He was grateful that Ray had yet to return, he knew these humans to be his friends.

            “Where’s Ray you fucker?!” The Prince, Michael Ryan remembered, snarled at the dragon, his sword at the ready.

            The other human, a tall skinny man that looked awkward in armor shook as he notched an arrow on his bow. He looked determined but scared. “I don’t see him Michael!” He said, looking around Ryan at the cave. Gavin was his name, although that didn’t sound right to Ryan.

            Ryan roared spitting fire at the two. Michael grabbed Gavin and dived behind a rock. “Leave!” He snarled at them, blocking the way into the cave.

            Gavin popped up and fired arrows in quick succession at Ryan. The weak arrows bounced off of Ryan’s scales so Ryan ignored him, making sure that the archer didn’t hit him in the eye. His concern was Michael.

            Ryan roared, smoke pouring from his mouth and nostrils. Michael tried to charge him, thinking that he was distracted by Gavin’s arrows but Ryan was ready for it. He swiped at Michael, making the Prince fall back.

            Ryan blew smoke at Gavin to distract him and was about to breathe fire at Michael who was getting ready to charge again when Ray’s voice startled him. Ray had heard the noise and had come running. He dropped the food and supplies from the witch and managed to stand in front of Ryan.

            “Ryan!” He shouted, wanting to calm the dragon down. Behind him, through the smoke, Michael charged. Blinded by the smoke, Michael was almost too late in stopping his swinging sword. Michael just missed stabbing Ray through the chest, managing to instead lightly cut Ray’s side. “Michael?!” Ray gasped, stumbling away from his friend’s blade, his side bleeding.

            Ryan smelled Ray’s blood and roared a blood curdling sound. He wrapped himself around Ray. He went between gently nuzzling Ray with his muzzle to make sure Ray was alright and hissing at the two humans who were shocked at the scene before them.

            Ray hugged Ryan’s muzzle, the dragons head nearly half the size of Ray when in this form. “I’m alright Rye, it’s just a scratch.” Ray soothed, holding on tightly.

            Ryan purred lightly, calming down. He tightened his grip on Ray however and hissed when the humans came closer.

            “Ray?” Gavin asked, amazed. “Are you alright?!”

            “Fuck man, do you know how long we’ve been looking for you?” Michael spit onto the ground. “We finally find you and you’ve got the fucking dragon tamed?”

            Ryan snorted at them then growled. He inspected Ray’s side and licked at the blood there. Ray chuckled at Ryan then frowned at Michael. “I didn’t tame him.” He said, gently petting Ryan’s muzzle. “Why the hell were you looking for me?”

            “You’re our friend you bloody idiot!” Gavin squawked, watching Ryan’s behavior with confusion. “Of course we came looking for you, it just took us forever to find the bloody dragon’s den!”

            “Are you sure you didn’t tame it?” Michael asked, watching Ryan nuzzle Ray gently. “It’s fucking loving on you.”

            Ray sighed at them both. “Gavin, the story my mother told the both of us told you exactly where the dragon’s den was.” He rolled his eyes when the gears in Gavin’s mind finally started spinning and realization covered his face. “And I didn’t tame Ryan. He’s his own being.”

            Ryan sighed, tired of this mess of a meeting. “Ray’s my mate. I won’t bother your kingdom anymore. Leave.” He hissed at them.

            “MATE?!” Michael yelled, face twisting. “The fuck?!” Gavin winced and looked at Ray confused.

            Ray groaned and rubbed his temples. He quickly wondered into the cave and grabbed Ryan’s pants. When he returned, he held the garment out to Ryan who turned back into his human form. He put the offered pants on then wrapped his arms and wings around Ray, nuzzling his head. “Make more sense?” Ray asked Michael and Gavin who just stared with dropped jaws.

            “What the fuck?” Michael asked dazed. “How the hell, he, human, wings, what?”

            Gavin just squawked incomprehensively for a moment before actually speaking understandable English. “Why is the dragon human?”

            Ryan snorted annoyed and Ray sighed. “It’s part of the curse, why are you guys here? There’s no point in coming to get me.”

            Michael shook his head and sighed. “We came to bring you back.” He said. “No one could really replace you.”

            Gavin nodded, smiling. “I’m a mess without you Ray! No one else puts up with me.” He said sheepishly. “Lindsay misses you too.”

            Ryan’s heart dropped and he froze. He looked at Ray who stared at his friends shocked. He was so sure that no one would come. Ryan loosened his grip on Ray, startling the human and making him look up at Ryan confused. Ryan would not fault Ray in wanting to go back. As much as he wanted Ray to stay with him, as much as he loved the human, he wasn’t going to force Ray to stay.

            Ray frowned at Ryan then looked back at his friends. “As much as I didn’t think you’d come and how happy I am that you did, I don’t want to go back.” He said, leaning into Ryan’s chest. “It was hell back there, only you guys really didn’t treat me like shit. I like it here.”

            Ryan smiled brightly, holding Ray tighter and nuzzling his hair. This worked much better than he thought it would. His fingers brushed Ray’s still bleeding side and he frowned. He glared at the human’s and hissed.

            Michael and Gavin shared confused and concerned looks. “Ray, I’m sure you’re just under some spell, but we should go home.” Michael said slowly, moving closer. His sword was up and ready if Ryan decided to attack.

            Ryan hissed, pulling his wings protectively around Ray. “I don’t have magic!” He growled at them. “I didn’t put him under a spell!”

            “HEY!” Ray yelled, moving out of Ryan’s arms and pushing his wings aside. Ryan looked at Ray shocked, then recognized the look on his face. It was the same look Ray had given Ryan when he had fallen sick for a short time and Ryan had babied him too much. The dragon chuckled and just folded his arms to watch the show.

            “Who gave you the fucking right?!” Ray yelled at Michael, getting in the Prince’s face. “To make my decisions for me? I’m an adult! A highly functioning adult that took care of yours and Gavin’s sorry asses for years.”

            Michael backed away from Ray, knowing that look on Ray’s face. Gavin was already hiding behind the rock, he got that look far too much. “Ray-“ He started but would never finish.

            “No! I’ve had it! I took the blame. I took the shit for things. I dealt with handsy nobles who didn’t’ give two shits!” Ray was backing Michael up into the rock Gavin was hiding behind. “You are my friend, my lord, but I refuse to take orders from you or let you decided my frame of mind! I’m staying here!”

            No one said a word. Ryan was smiling, making a mental note to ask Ray if he could barbeque those ‘handsy nobles’ later. Michael looked scared and took a deep breath. Gavin was well hidden behind the rock. “Ray, I didn’t mean to insult you.” Michael tried to stay calm.

            Ray threw his hands up and stalked back over to Ryan. “Fine, whatever. I don’t care anymore. Go home Michael.” He said, going into the cave.

            Ryan followed Ray, knowing that he didn’t need to do anything after that. “Ray? Can I patch up your side?” He ask gently, not wanting to make him angrier.

            Ray flopped onto their nest with a sigh. “Could you please?” He asked, looking at his side. “I’m too tired to do it.”

            Ryan chuckled and ripped up some of the spare cloth they had from the sacks the witch gave them. He dipped a rag in the pond before coming over to Ray and gently washing the wound. “I’m glad he didn’t stab you.” He said, having Ray sit up so he could properly wrap his side.

            Ray frowned, watching Ryan work. “Me too.” He paused, holding his breath before sighing. “Thank you.”

            Ryan nuzzled Ray’s neck, purring. “For what my rose?” He asked setting the rag aside and climbing into the nest next to Ray.

            “I don’t fucking know.” Ray laughed out, leaning into Ryan’s side. “For caring? For trying to fight them off? For.” Ray sighed again, taking Ryan’s hand in his. “For giving me the choice to leave.”

            Ryan watched Ray intertwine their fingers and smiled. “As you said, they’re your decisions to make. As much as it would have hurt for you to leave, as much as I love you and want you to stay, I want you to do whatever makes you happy.”

            Ray looked up at Ryan and smiled. He kissed Ryan gently, tangling his fingers in Ryan’s hair. Ryan cupped Ray’s cheek and traced his cheek bone with his thumb. When they pulled back, Ray was smiling at him happily. “Thank you Rye.”

            Ryan smiled, wrapping his arm around Ray’s waist and pulling him closer. “Anything for you my rose.” He purred softly, kissing Ray’s cheeks.


 

            Michael and Gavin didn’t leave. They set up camp not far from the cave and came every day to try and convince Ray to return with them. Ryan let Ray handle it when the human was feeling up to it, when he wasn’t Ryan changed into his beast form and chased them away.

            Ray grew more and more annoyed as the days past. He punched Michael once and threw rocks at Gavin until the man went away. They kept trying to convince Ray that he was under a spell or delusional and it was driving him mad. Ryan found new ways to calm Ray down, he invented a few games that could play by making shapes in the dirt or took Ray out of the cave for a few hours to fly around the area. That helped but Michael and Gavin were insistent and Ray couldn’t take it anymore.

            Two weeks into the constant pestering, Ray coaxed Ryan into mating him just as Michael and Gavin usual came around. It was cruel, yes, but Ray didn’t care anymore. “Make me scream.” He hissed to Ryan and Ryan happily did so. Regardless, as soon as they were done, Michael and Gavin appeared at the mouth of the cave and continued their usual pestering.

            Ryan had enough at that point. He hated seeing Ray so distressed and he was also tired of being painted a monster. He may be one, but that didn’t mean he liked it any more than they did. Pulling a blanket around Ray, Ryan stood, pulling pants on as he approached the two humans. Michael went for his sword but Ryan didn’t care.

            “Truthfully you two have thick skulls.” He hissed at them, feeling Ray’s curious eyes on him. “Ray has told you over and over again that he’s happy here, why can’t you leave it at that?”

            Michael and Gavin glanced at each other, frowning. Ryan sighed, standing in front of them with his arms folded across his chest. “I didn’t put him under a spell, I’m not forcing him to stay here, and I’m not doing whatever it is you keep saying I’m doing. I’m a monster, yes, but that doesn’t mean I like it any more than you do.”

            Michael stood tall, taking his hand off of his sword. He was trying to be taller than Ryan, but he was much shorter than the dragon man. “You’re a monster. Why the hell should we trust our friend to you?”

            Gavin peaked around Ryan to look at Ray who was smiling fondly at Ryan’s back. Something clicked in Gavin’s head and he smiled. “Because he’s happy?” He asked, looking back at Ryan.

            Both Ryan and Michael stared at him in shock. Ryan relaxed, smiling gently. “Because he’s happy.” He nodded. “That should be enough for you.”

            Michael looked like he wanted to protest, but Gavin dragged him away before he could. He waved to Ryan over his shoulder as Michael sputtered curses at all of them. Ryan shook his head and quickly returned to Ray, nuzzling his head. “At least one of them got it.” He offered.

            Ray laughed, snuggling into Ryan’s chest. “Thank you Rye.” He sighed happily. “Although you’re not a monster.”

            Ryan chuckled and played with Ray’s hair. “I really wish that was true.” He was purring softly. “But we both know that I highly enjoy being a monster.” Ray laughed, rolling his eyes at Ryan before falling asleep.

            Michael and Gavin didn’t appear at the cave again for the next week, although they were still camped out nearby. Ryan didn’t particularly care what they did as long as they didn’t upset Ray. Although their presence itched at Ray’s mind.

            He slipped through Ryan’s arms one night, smiling when the dragon curled around the pillow Ray had put in his place. He quietly left the cave and approached Michael and Gavin’s camp. They were still awake and talking, but they stopped in shock when Ray entered their camp.

            “Ray? What are you doing here?” Gavin asked, glancing around for Ryan. “Is everything alright?”

            Michael just folded his arms and sighed. “We’ll be leaving tomorrow if that’s what you’re here for.”

            Ray smiled, sitting down next to Gavin. “I’m sorry I’ve been so annoyed.” He sighed. “It’s just, I was so convinced that no one would come for me and Ryan actually makes me really happy. I just got angry when you assumed that I wasn’t in my right mind.”          

            Michael and Gavin shared a look then looked back at Ray. “I know you didn’t like the castle.” Gavin said, patting Ray’s shoulder.

            Ray sighed. “It’s not that, it’s the uselessness. You don’t need me at the castle, and really Ryan doesn’t need me here, but at least I feel like I have a point here.” He said with a sigh. “You guys only needed me when you’re fighting and now you have Lindsey for that.”

            “That only added to the problem.” Michael groaned. “Sometimes she’s a peacekeeper and others she has her own position. We can’t get anything done.”

            Gavin nodded. “We were going to come get you sooner, but we couldn’t agree on who would go do it.” He said, smiling sheepishly. “Without you around, we’re pretty useless ourselves.”

            “I want to make you an advisor once I’m King.” Michael nodded. “You’re smart enough to be one.”

            Ray looked between them, shocked before laughing. He held his stomach as he laughed, shaking his head. “You’re both morons!” He laughed, smiling.

            Michael and Gavin chuckled sheepishly. “But I have an idea for you.” Michael said, stretching. “You and the dragon should come back with us.”

            Ray raised an eyebrow then frowned. “I don’t think Ryan will agree with that idea, why?” He asked.

            “Well, war looks highly possible from a nearby kingdom.” Gavin said, shrugging. “If we have a dragon on our side we’re highly likely to win.”

            “Now you’re just using him.” Ray folded his arms, thinking it over. “He’s definitely going to see it that way.”

            “He seems very civil.” Gavin said. “And educated, we might benefit from what he knows. Dragons are smarter than humans aren’t they?”

            Michael shrugged. “He’d be a good advisor.” He offered, actually warming up to the idea. “Although there’s the case of where he would stay.”

            Ray smiled, liking the idea his friends presented him. “The garden.” He said quickly. “We could stay in the garden, Ryan wouldn’t do well with closed spaces.”

            Michael nodded. “The garden it is then.” He smiled, laying down with a yawn. “We’ll make an overhang similar to the cave.”

            Gavin hugged Ray tightly. “Perfect! We can all go home!” He laughed, smiling.

            Ray laughed with Gavin, shaking his head. “Let me talk to Ryan first. I don’t know what he’ll think of this idea.”

            “You do that.” Michael said, closing his eyes. “We’ll figure everything out in the morning.”

            Before either Gavin or Ray could reply, an ear bleeding screech filled the air. All three humans covered their ears, Michael pulling Gavin and Ray under an overhanging rock for cover. One of the griffins that Michael and Gavin had defeated to get to the cave was back from wherever it had fled to. It screeched and landed on their campsite. It tried to reach the humans with its claws.

            In the cave, Ryan woke with a start at the sound. In his panicked sleep filled haze he searched for Ray and couldn’t find his mate. Without a second thought he ran out of the cave, changing into his beast form. He roared and landed on the griffin. As he held the great beast down he scanned for Ray. Smoke plumed out of his mouth and he hissed at the griffin to make it hold still.

            Ray scrambled out from under the rock, waving to Ryan. The dragon growled, getting off of the griffin to curl around Ray. Ryan breathed fire at the griffin when the beast tried to attack them again. The griffin hissed at Ryan before flying off.

            Ryan snorted after the griffin then leaned down to nuzzle Ray. “Are you alright?” He asked purring loudly. “Why were you out here?”

            Ray rubbed Ryan’s muzzle, smiling at the dragon. “I wanted to talk to Michael and Gavin. I want to ask you something.”

            Ryan paused, his body tensing at Ray’s words. “Alright, but let’s talk in the cave.” He said, uncurling from around Ray and making sure that all three humans got into the cave safely. He did not like his odds here.

            When he transformed back into a human and pulled his pants on, Ryan laughed when Ray ran into his arms and hugged him tightly. Ray kissed Ryan’s cheek. “Thank you Rye.”

            Ryan chuckled and nuzzled Ray’s head. He looked at Michael and Gavin and sighed. “What did you want to ask me?” He asked, mentally preparing for the worst although Ray’s actions told him that he shouldn’t worry.

            “I have a proposition for you.” Michael said, stepping forward. “We want you and Ray to come back to the castle.”

            Ryan frowned and held Ray tighter. “Why?” He ask suspiciously. In his experience, human’s just wanted to kill him.

            “We want you to help to protect the kingdom and act as an advisor.” Gavin said happily, smiling at them. “You’d have free range over the castle as long as you don’t kill anything within the kingdom, and you and Ray can live in the garden.”

            Ryan frowned and looked at Ray who was smiling up at him. “I promise it’ll be alright.” Ray told him wrapping his arms around Ryan’s waist.

            “No one will try to attack you or separate you from Ray.” Michael offered. “Like Gavin said, you have free reign of the kingdom as long as you only kill invading soldiers.” He said, standing at full attention, looking like the prince he was raised to be.

            “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.” Ray added, although he and Gavin were looking at Ryan rather hopefully.

            Ryan sighed and rubbed Ray’s back. “Do you want to go back?” he asked Ray, not wanting to drag Ray back into a miserable situation.

            “When he returns, he’ll be a royal advisor.” Michael smiled. “And he’ll probably be the only one who could get near you anyway.”

            Ryan chuckled, smiling slightly. He nuzzled Ray’s head. “Let me sleep on it. I’ll tell you my decision in the morning.”

            Michael and Gavin respected Ryan’s wishes and they slept under a shared blanket in the cave. Ryan stayed awake as Ray slept on his chest. This cave had been his home for so long, and not by choice. He had to live here because of the curse. A change would be nice, although he didn’t know if he trusted Michael’s people. The man himself didn’t seem to be one to go against his word, but people were cruel.

            He played with Ray’s hair as he thought. Protector and advisor, a space for he and Ray only, in a garden no less. Ryan smiled, perhaps it wouldn’t be too bad, perhaps at the start, but that would be fine.

            That morning, Ryan flew them back to the castle having agreed to Michael’s offer. They landed in the castle’s court yard, surrounded by guards with drawn swords. Michael called them off and someone gave Ryan some pants.

            Ryan took an instant liking to the King and Queen. Lindsey was also a spit fire that he could get used to. All of them were accepting and welcoming. Within the week, the garden was set up to accommodate Ryan’s needs. The set up was similar to his cave, although he refused to use the bed they offered him.

            He built a new nest with things he found around the castle, making it big enough for him and Ray to comfortably be within it without too much difficulty. His old nest had been made for only one being to be in it, not two.

            His and Ray’s relationship was highly frowned upon, but no one really wanted to question the man dragon. A few nobles made the mistake of insulting Ray when Ryan was near and they were swiftly taken care of. To spite the nobles that constantly discredited both Ray and Ryan, the King and Queen lowered the social ranking, but Ryan also made a show of wrapping his arms around Ray and nuzzling his head.

            Ray found the entire thing amusing and became a highly respected advisor in his own right. Foreign diplomats often bargained Michael for Ray’s loyalty. They were all quickly turned down. Ryan got used to human social life and shirts, shirts were the worst part to him. He would accidently rip them with his wings and they were a hassle to get on and off. They had to get specially made shirts that Ray had to help Ryan put on.

            “I hate shirts.” Ryan sighed for probably the thousandth time. “They’re a waste of time.”

            Ray laughed, pulling the shirt free for Ryan before helping him take it off. “I know Rye. But you have to wear them.”

            Ryan groaned, tossing the shirt onto a messy pile of clothes before wondering over to their nest and curling up on it. “I know.” He droned with a sigh.

            Ray chuckled and undressed himself. He added his clothes to Ryan’s pile before crawling into the nest. He rested his head on Ryan’s chest, smiling when Ryan wrapped his arms around him.

Their lives were kind to them. Another kingdom only invaded once and they were swiftly defeated by Ryan. They grew old, Ray aging much faster than Ryan, although that didn’t stop the dragon from loving Ray.

When Ray died in Ryan’s arms one night, Ryan died a week later. Dragons mated for life and feel into deep depression at the loss of a mate. They were buried side by side and became the new legend mother’s told their children.