A Patchwork Fantasy Tale about bravery and family.
Dragon eggs shouldn’t be left lying around without proper care, they really shouldn’t.
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[Gentle theme music]
Laura: Hi, you can call me Laura, I’m here to tell you a story if you like. If you want to read as well as listen you can find a transcript and mp3 download on patchworkfairytales.wordpress.com. You found one of my Patchwork Fantasy Tales! This one is all about family and bravery…
The Stolen Egg
George and Martha Finley were three things: very happily married, very fond of adventure and, at the moment, running as fast as they possibly could.
“We shouldn’t be doing this,” George panted, looking over his shoulder.
“No,” Martha agreed breathlessly, hugging the large egg closer to her chest. “Are they following us?”
“Not yet,” he replied.
Their footsteps thumped as they hurried back towards the blinking lights of the town. Nobody seems to have seen what they did and it really seems like no one is following them, but they don’t slow down. Because they just stole a real life dragon egg and there is no way they are giving it back.
The travelling sideshow that had set up a little way outside of town was mostly a colourful sham. It promised to give visitors a rare glimpse at ‘the wonders of the magical world’, but all it had was parlour tricks. Rabbits with wooden antlers tied behind their ears, horses with their manes dyed and braided and their hooves stained with gold, magicians that pretended to be true users of magic. All amusing enough, but not real. The large, red and gold egg lying in a basket among a pile of fake glass gemstones had been real though.
Both Martha and George thought it looked suspiciously realistic right from the start. It was warm to the touch and the rough, scaly texture of the shell felt so strange and wonderful that they had stroked it. Neither of them had really meant to, it just felt like the right thing to do. So they did. Just one stroke. Just because it seemed like the proper thing to do.
That was when the egg purred at them.
By now that was about fifteen minutes ago. Because it had taken exactly eleven and a half minutes for George and Martha to decide that this egg was not only alive, it was also extremely rare and extremely badly cared for. An egg, after all, was a baby, and babies should not be exhibited like cheap props. It wasn’t right. There wasn’t even a blanket in the basket the egg was lying in. And it had purred at them. Not even a blanket.
So now they were running, George looking over his shoulder at every turn and Martha cradling the egg in her arms, trying not the jostle it too much.
“Mattie,” George panted, looking back once more. “Mattie, slow down.”
Martha slowed to a trot, breathing hard.
“I think,” George said, gulping down air. “I think they really haven’t noticed.” He could hardly believe it, but there really was no one chasing them. No cries of theft or outrage behind them. And they were nearly out of earshot of the fairground already.
“Well,” Martha huffed. “So much the better.” She stood still for a moment, trying to breathe thought the stabbing in her sides.
“Is he heavy?” George asked concernedly. “Shall I carry him – it – the rest of the way?” What was he supposed to call the egg?
“Please,” Martha nodded, but she still felt oddly unwilling to let go of the egg. Still, she was only putting it into George’s arms, so that was alright. “Have you got him – it?” she asked.
“Yeah,” George muttered, an involuntary smile dawning on his face. The egg was so warm… “Do you think he’s cold?” he asked, looking up at Martha.
“I have no idea,” she said. “But let’s not take any chances. Come on.”
They hurried home, as fast as they could go without running or looking too suspicious. When they reached the town, Martha took off her jacket and draped it across the egg just in case. More to hide it from prying eyes than for warmth, but it couldn’t hurt.
When they finally closed the door to their home behind them, they both breathed a sigh of relief. For a moment they just stood there in the dark hallway, huddled close together, the egg in between them. Then, slowly, Martha said:
“George…we stole a dragon.” She felt a bit lightheaded.
“We stole an egg,” George corrected her weakly.
Martha nodded. “Yes,” she said. “A badly cared for egg.”
“Very badly,” he agreed hastily. “Very badly indeed.”
“They probably didn’t even know what it was,” Martha added, putting her hand on the warm shell. It seemed to hum under her fingertips.
“Very possible,” he nodded, rocking the egg slightly in his arms. “And it looked cold.” Not even a blanket, how dare they.
“Yes, very cold,” Martha said firmly.
There was a short silence.
“He’s ours now,” Martha said, just to be perfectly clear.
“Yes,” George said, addressing the world in general rather than anyone in particular. “Yes, he is.”
Another silence followed, a slightly more tense one this time.
“So…what do we do now?”
As it turned out, it mattered very little what they did. Both of them tried very hard to remember if they had ever read anything that might be of help and George very much lamented the fact that it was too late to go to the library. In the end they settled for wrapping the egg in a woollen shawl and placing it in front of the fireplace, in which they lit as big a fire as they deemed safe.
All these preparations, as good as they were, were largely useless. Because just as they had begun to discuss whether making hot steam might be better for the egg than the dry heat of the fire, there was a decided cracking noise.
It is doubtful if any parent is ever fully ready to be a parent, but it is safe to say that Martha and George, having had exactly three hours to prepare, were certainly not ready. Within seconds they were both on their knees beside the egg, their eyes wide with affectionate panic.
“It can’t be hatching,” Martha said. “Not already!” This was a rather nonsensical statement and she knew it, because they had no way of telling how old this egg was. They didn’t even know how long dragon eggs took to hatch.
“Maybe it’s because it is safe now?” George stammered. “I’m sure I read somewhere that-”
There was another loud crack and Martha and George winced in the universal shared pain that all humans are capable of, but that is particularly prevalent in parents. They both reached out to the egg without realizing it and under their hands, as if it truly knew it would at last be well cared for, the dragon hatched.
The egg had been big, but it was still a surprise to see a whole creature crawl out of it. There were red scales, and little claws and a tail and a warm body that curved into their hands like a cat would do.
“Oh Mattie,” George breathed. “Look at him…”
“I am,” Martha said hoarsely.
The little dragon had dark eyes. Brown, brilliant eyes that looked from one parent to the other with such a human expression that they were both nearly speechless.
“Hello little one,” George breathed, stroking the dragons back.
The creature purred and looked up at him.
Martha held out her hand and the baby dragon turned his slender neck to look at her instead. Then he looked at her hand and put out his paw. His tiny claw spread against her palm and Martha felt a lump in her throat.
The dragon bent his head and it seemed to George that he was studying how his own paw looked on Martha’s hand. Almost like he was-
Martha let out a cry of surprise and a second later George saw it too.
Right in front of their eyes, the little dragon, red and scaly, with a twisty tail and little, folded wings of creased leather, started to change form. Bewildered, George and Martha watched claws turn to fingers and scales turn to soft skin until what they held in between them in front of the fire was no longer a creature, but a child. A small boy with big, brown eyes, soft hair reminiscent of spun gold and a skin with a warm tan to it. They stared at him, in dumbfounded admiration, until he smiled and they both broke down.
“It’s a boy,” Martha cried, wrapping him up in her arms. “Look at you, you’re a- George we have a son. A dragon and a son.”
“Hello,” George just managed to say, one of the toddlers tiny hands in his. “That’s a neat trick you just did, I didn’t know you could do that.”
The toddler looked rather pleased with himself and was certainly quite content to be cuddled and have his hair stroked. Both parents inspected him carefully and they found that he really looked completely human, with the exception of rather long and slightly pointed ears and a dusting of red scales lining his round cheeks.
Martha thought she was going to spill over, so full up with happiness she felt. “You-” she muttered against the side of the boy’s head. “-are the most wonderful thing we ever stole.”
“You make it sound like we steal things all the time,” George protested, an immovable smile on his face.
“Well,” Martha said thoughtfully. “We-”
“We haven’t even introduced ourselves properly yet and you’re already making a bad first impression,” he interrupted her chidingly.
Martha grinned at him and George wondered vaguely if it was his imagination or if his wife and the boy in her arms really did have the same sort of light in their eyes.
“Am I a bad influence?” Martha cooed, touching her nose to the toddler’s. “I don’t think I am. Remember, your mother only steals things if they need to be liberated from where they currently are.”
The boy blinked his dark eyes and suddenly he laughed. Not a gurgle, a real laugh, it rang out like gold pieces clattering on a marble floor and both Martha and George felt a tugging at their heart.
“You are definitely a bad influence,” George informed her. “And we still haven’t introduced ourselves.”
“Should we give him a name?” Martha asked, gazing down at the golden-haired child in her lap.
“Maybe he has a name,” George said. “Do you have a name?”
The question made the boy look up. He fixed his brown eyes on George with a seriousness that should not exist in a child so small and because he could think of nothing else to do, George made an exaggerated movement with his hand and bowed his head. “Welcome, your dragon-ness,” he said. “I am George Finley.”
The boy gazed at him questioningly.
“That’s right,” Martha said, smiling warmly at her husband. She gave a wave of her hand herself. “And I’m Martha Finley.” She gave the boy a gentle look. “We’d like to be your parents if we may.”
The child made a sound that was almost a hum and suddenly he smiled, raised a chubby little hand, made a vague attempt at a wave and said, with a voice that was very young, but surprisingly articulate: “Finley!”
The sounds that escaped from both George and Martha’s mouths were far too emotional to be any sort of coherent.
“Alright,” George said, voice trembling. “What a pleasure to meet you, Finley.”
“Our own little Finley.”
Neither of the new parents (and more inexperienced and overwhelmed parents there had never been) had any attention left over for anything besides their son. Finley seemed to light up the room and warm the air around him with no more effort than simply existing.
It was not until later that his parents found out this was indeed a thing he did. Finley might look human, he had dragon fire in his soul and it radiated all around him like the rays of the sun.
They still had a great deal to learn about baby dragons and were at that moment still completely unaware of quite how steep a learning curve this was going to be. They would learn soon enough however, that bewildering as it was to raise a child, raising a dragon came with special challenges. Like the time Finley pushed a freshly made pie out of the heated oven to climb into it himself. Or the first time his parents tried to give him a bath and he boiled the water, steaming up the entire bathroom and drenching both his parents. Or the time he was lost for an hour because he had dragged all the blankets off his bed and gone to sleep in a nest in his closet instead. Not to mention the countless objects, big and small, that fell victim to the dragonish hoarding tendencies of a child that, while extremely intelligent and well-spoken for his age, was certainly not less impulsive because of it.
No, at this point in time Martha and George were blissfully unaware of all these trials to come. All they knew was how happy they were and how hard they were going to work to make this boy, their son, Finley, as happy as they possibly could. Of course such feelings were too overwhelming to leave room for anything else, which is why they must be forgiven for thinking that on this wonderful night they had stolen a baby. Because of course this was not at all what had happened. On this wonderful night, a young dragon had started his first treasured hoard. It was a hoard of two. Two parents.
Laura: And with that last word stitching up the very last sentence, this story has its proper end.
Thank you so much for listening, lovely of you to stop by. You can follow this podcast on podcatchers like Spotify, iTunes, or Stitcher, but for an mp3 download, transcripts, themed tags and summaries, you can check out patchworkfairytales.wordpress.com, where you can also contact me and find out about my other projects. Like my book Coffee and Faerie Cakes and my webcomic The Fisherman’s Favour. You can also find me at laurasimonsdaughter.tumblr.com which is full of folklore and urban fantasy. Or you can follow me on Kofi at Laura Simons or AO3 at laurasimonsdaughter.
There’s another tale to tell some other day, but until then…
Mind your dragons, guard your name, and be safe~
Copyright Laura Simons, please do not copy my stories without my permission, lest you insult the fae.