Ok, so I’m als a sucker. You asked for chapters weekly…I guess I’ll do chapters weekly now. How about we check in with exactly what Darcy is up to as well. He better have a good reason for not coming to the rescue–right? (Don’t forget, comments really do inspire me to write faster…just saying…)
Find previous chapters HERE
Of course Aunt Catherine required a change of garments before leaving for the dragon’s lair. A walking dress, he was informed, was the proper attire for one to call upon dragons.
Thankfully Miss Elizabeth had no such notions when rushing out from the ball to rescue Pemberley. He really ought to replace that gown for her. All things considered, there was little chance her father would do that for her.
Rosings’ cavern lay along an overgrown path, deep in the woods along the west side of the estate, well away from the grazing pastures, small farms and tenant houses. Although Rosings would never violate the accords and harm a trespasser, she was by nature grouchy and no one wanted to make her grouchier.
Cait flew out to greet them whilst they were still a hundred yards off. She was a spectacular example of a cockatrix in her prime, covered in glossy black feathers, punctuated with deep purple along her head ruff and deep blue under her wings. Her head ruff was so full and fluffy, it was hard to make out her face, only the tip of her razor-honed beak stood out. She boasted tail feathers so long, they often dragged the ground when she perched. If one considered looks alone, it was hard to understand Walker’s adverse reaction to her, especially since she had chosen him.
“You have deigned to grace us with your presence.” Cait landed in front of them and bent her head toward the ground, but her wings were still spread.
Cockatrix sarcasm at its finest.
“Do not take that tone with me. You well know I have been occupied. I should have thought the two of you could manage a baby between you. Especially considering that you have raised two broods already.” Aunt Catherine flipped her skirts at Cait.
“Mine did not have teeth, and I assure you feather scales are not nearly so arduous to grow as teeth.” Cait flapped her wings and took off, trailing her tail feathers over their shoulders.
She must be tired and worn too, stooping to such obvious insults.
He could not blame Walker, not at all.
Aunt Catherine gathered her skirts and stormed into the hillside cavern.
At some point long ago, small cracks had opened up in the ceiling, just enough to let some light through, but still overgrown enough to keep out the rain. He paused a moment for his eyes to adjust. At last, he could make out a broad expanse, swept clear by a dragon’s tail. Along the nearest wall, a pile of soft leaves and underbrush formed Pemberley’s nest, where she lay fitful and whining softly. Several yards away, Rosings stretched out across the ground, forelegs thrown over her ears.
“Cowntess,” Aunt Catherine called.
How she loved those reminders of rank, her own and her dragon’s.
Rosings rose to her feet and shook. Starting at her head, it progressed down her shoulders, her wings, to the tip of her tail. A small cloud of dust stirred. Darcy sneezed into his handkerchief.
The firedrake Cowntess, was an exemplar of her kind. Like Pemberley, she was various shades of red, from pale red at her underbelly, to deep red, nearly purple along her spine. Her talons reflected the meager light, sharp as Cait’s beak. Her smooth scales, dusty now, shone when freshly cleaned. Nose to base of tail she must have been fifteen feet long, with another eight feet of tail behind her. Fully extended, her wings probably spanned over twenty feet. None had ever measured them though. And since she only flew on nights with no moons, none alive now had actually seen her in flight. She was a very private creature.
“Lady.” Rosings bobbed her head and Aunt Catherine curtsied.
How very different this was from the warm, almost intimate greetings that Miss Elizabeth shared with her dragon friends. At first it had seemed so odd, so improper to him, now Aunt Catherine seemed too stiff and formal.
“Will you introduce me to your guest?”
Rosings rolled her eyes. “If she will see you.”
“Pemberley is much taxed by teething right now.” Darcy hurried to her side. The last thing he needed was Aunt Catherine agitating Pemberley—and it took very little to do so.
“I shall determine that for myself.” In a swish of skirts, Aunt Catherine stormed toward the nest, Rosings barley half a step ahead.
“You should rise and greet your guest.” Rosings nosed Pemberley.
Pemberley lifted her head blinking. “She is not her. I want her.”
“What is the drakling blithering about?”
“Nothing to be concerned with. She spent a great deal of time with Miss Bennet—”
“And is having some difficulty adjusting to her removal.”
Aunt Catherine snorted. “That is why nursery maids should be changed out often. It is always a problem when youngsters get attached.”
“May I present my aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh?” Darcy gestured toward her.
“She is not her.” Pemberley looked away.
“You will not be rude to my Keeper.” Rosings slapped the tip of her tail on the ground.
“Yes, Cowntess.” Pemberley clambered to her feet, eyes down. “Greetings, Lady.”
“That is better.” Aunt Catherine nodded, still scowling. “Now, I have heard your teeth are troublesome.”
“I have no teeth.” Pemberley turned her face away.
“Yes, but you will soon. Now open your mouth and let me see.”
“I insist. Do as you are told.”
Darcy edged closer. “Now, Pemberley. If she—ah ‘her’—asked you, would you do so?”
“Then please do so now. Lady only wants to see you well, like ‘her’.”
Aunt Catherine glowered at him, but Pemberley opened her mouth.
Hopefully she would not bite.
Aunt peered into Pemberley’s mouth, but stopped short of putting her hand inside. She did have baby fangs after all.
Aunt Catherine turned her back on Pemberley. “There is no doubt the trouble is teething. But that is very good because now we have a solution.”
“Of course. All she needs is to have her gums lanced to reveal the teeth, just like any infant. Then this nonsense shall be over. I shall make arrangements for it immediately. Perhaps Cait can do it, her talons might do very nicely.” In a swish of skirts, she bustled from the cavern.
“What she mean, lance?” Pemberley tucked her head under Darcy’s arm.
“It is a surgery to free your teeth from your gums. It is often done for babies as I understand—teething is very dangerous you know.”
At least it was for humans, but who knew if it was for Dragons.
Miss Elizabeth probably would.
“No, it not dangerous. It itches. It hurts. Make it stop. I no want Cait talons in my mouth. I will bite her.” She rustled her wings.
That usually signaled the beginning of a tantrum.
“You must not bite. You know that.”
“Rosings say I can if someone hurt me.”
Technically she was right. Self-defense was an admissible reason for dragon aggression.
“Cait is your friend.”
“No she not. She thinks I am vex … vexanamous … vexatious. I not know what means vexatious, but it not sound good.”
“She thinks Walker is vexatious too, and she likes him a great deal.” He scratched under her chin.
She took his wrist in her mouth and gummed it, whining. “Make it better.”
He took her face in his hands and pressed his forehead to her. “I will find some way to make it better, soon.”
Pray he would be able to keep that promise. If only Miss Elizabeth was near.
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