Hiya! I’m here as Holly today 😊 Do you know what day it is today? It’s No Socks Day 🥳 and I wrote a story. Mated to the Fire Dragon was released on the 6th. I feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment.
If you’ve followed me for some time, you know my mother passed away back in November #fuckcancer. This is me processing that, with an added aversion to socks, dragons, and a certain blacksmith because why not?
It’s not a sad story, and no one dies, but Zale is very ill, and he is preparing to let go.
So there is illness and grieving what will never come to be, unless you find a sock-less dragon, of course.
I came home yesterday evening after having been in Mum’s house clearing out things. AND Mated to the Fire Dragon was released on her birthday. She would’ve turned 64 on the 6th of May. So I’m a little raw and a little weepy, but the story isn’t!
It’s all about life, about finding a miracle, living for several hundred years, and embracing love.
Everything you want can be yours. All you have to do is mate a dragon. It’s simple 😆
To Mum 🥂
Mated to the Fire Dragon
Zale wanted to see a dragon. He never expected a miracle.
Zale Hagan is dying. He doesn’t have many days left, but he wants to see a dragon before he leaves the world behind. As a fisherman, he’s seen where land ends many times, but he wants to visit the town where the human realm ends and the dragon realm begins.
Albus the Abomination is a blacksmith on Dragon Row. As a white dragon, he has no status and does his best to keep out of the way of the other dragons living there. But one day Zale steps into his smithy, and everything inside Albus catches fire.
Albus can tell Zale is very ill, but he can’t let him die. Dragon mates don’t get sick, and they live for a long time. Albus tries his best to get one of the other dragons to mate with Zale, but when no one wants to, Albus is at a loss. He could breathe fire into him, but then Zale would have to live his entire life with a white dragon, and no one wants that, do they?
NOTE: Mated to the Fire Dragon takes place on the same street as The Book Dragon’s Lair but can be read as a standalone story.
Paranormal Gay Romance: 38,392 words
JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read.com/MatedToTheFireDragon
Albus the Abomination never wanted to come to the human realm. He’d dug his claws in for as long as he could, but when he’d heard his mother discuss how to make his death look like an accident with a group of her friends, he’d grabbed his sodalite and flown off the tower without another word to anyone in his family.
Why she would’ve bother to make it look like an accident, he didn’t know. She’d never kept quiet about wanting him dead.
He’d gone. Left everything he knew, went through the portal, and started a new life. It might not be the kind of life he dreamed of, but he wanted to live, and crossing over into the human realm upped his chances of survival considerably.
Dragons loved fiercely. They worshiped beauty, adored everything sparkly, revered gemstones and precious metals. The darker the skin, the more important the dragon. Albus’ family came from a family of dark blue skin. Perhaps it was why he loved his sodalite stone so much because it reminded him of home? Dark blue with little veins of white, a symbol of how he dirtied the bloodline. In the stone, it was beautiful, in the bloodline, not so much.
He shifted his throat and mouth to be able to breathe fire and blew a flame at the iron in front of him, watched it glow a pretty orange, then swung his hammer.
He’d been a disgrace to his family from the moment he’d driven his egg tooth through the shell. Maybe it had taken a bit longer. He didn’t think his parents had been able to see the color of his skin through the first crack.
He swung the hammer again. The clang of metal hitting metal helped disperse some of the shame, not all, but some.
There was no color more despicable than white, and when he’d emerged from the egg, his parents had been horrified. His mother had wanted to drown him right away despite the hard work of laying and tending to an egg, but his father’s mother had stopped her. She’d said to at least give it a summer to see if his skin changed in the sun.
It did. It turned an angry red, stung, and flaked a few days later. The new skin emerging was as white as it had been before. Pale white. Egg shell white. Plain as can be.
He swung the hammer again. The metal was too cold for it to do any good, and if he wasn’t careful, he’d break it. He always had to be mindful of his strength, but it was one of the things he liked about being a blacksmith. He could warm the metal, make it soft and pliant, but if he used too much force, it would break.
He shifted one hand into a dragon’s claw, ignoring how his skin almost luminesced in the dim light, breathed fire, and twisted the metal before dunking it in the bucket of water.
“Holy shit! Why did you do that?”
Albus glanced over his shoulder. He hadn’t heard anyone enter the smithy, and it took him a moment to realize no one had.
Outside, in the early morning light, stood a male, a human man Albus hadn’t seen before. He didn’t know the humans in Edge—didn’t know the dragons either. They avoided him, and he could understand why. The same rules might not apply in the human realm as back home, but no one wanted to ruin their reputation by being seen with an abomination.
“Do you need medical care?” The man didn’t enter the smithy, but he was hovering on the doorstep. Normally, Albus closed the door. He was sure he’d closed the door this morning too. Maybe not. He’d woken from a nightmare and had come straight here.
“No.” The short word came out snarly and harsh.
The man frowned. “Are you sure? You touched glowing metal.”
Hadn’t he seen him breathing the fire? Dragons weren’t harmed by fire as long as they were in dragon form, and he’d changed his hand.
Albus turned around, and the man gasped. He’d stopped wincing, at least visibly, at people’s reactions to him. He was the freak on Dragon Row. All the other shops dealt with gemstones and precious metals, Albus dealt with iron. There was no iron in a dragon’s treasure cave.
“Holy fuck! You’re a dragon.”
Albus didn’t think Reverend Goodwin would appreciate this young man’s language, but then there wasn’t much the reverend liked. Albus could relate. One of the things he liked the least was the reverend himself. He wished someone would eat him.
When Albus had first arrived, he’d learned the reverend arranged matings. Albus had been excited by the prospect. He’d always known he wouldn’t have a mate, no one would mate a white dragon even if he survived long enough to reach mature age, but it all changed when he came here. A joy he’d never experienced had bubbled in his chest, but then the reverend had changed his mind—or someone else had changed his mind.
He’d come by the smithy—it hadn’t been a smithy then, Albus hadn’t decided what he’d do on this side of the realm yet—and told him there were no available mates. Albus had been disappointed but had accepted it. He hadn’t walked around Edge. He didn’t know how many humans resided there. It was possible they all were paired up already.
It wasn’t until a few years later when Nithe the Nefarious had arrived, and the reverend had hurried to present mates to him, Albus realized there were mates. If you were another color than white, there were mates.
It was nothing new, but it hurt that he’d allowed himself to hope.
“Right.” The man bounced on the heels of his feet. “I didn’t realize… I guess I’ve reached Edge?”
Albus shifted entirely back into human form and nodded. In response, the man’s face split into a grin.
“Really?” He took a step into the smithy and spun around. “Wow. Is it yours?”
Albus nodded again. He never allowed anyone into the smithy. He had his shop; people were welcome to browse his creations there—not many did—but this was where he worked. It was private, his personal space.
“Amazing. I believed dragons only did useless things. No offense, but you’re working. A real job, I mean.”
Holding his breath, Albus tried to come up with a way to answer. Was it an insult? He wasn’t trading gemstones, there had already been several shops doing that on Dragon Row when he’d arrived, and no one would trade gemstones with a white dragon if they could do it with a red or a blue. Who would go to Albus the Abomination when they could go to Saxon the Sinful or Mort the Monstrous?
“I didn’t mean to interrupt.” The human sent him a blinding smile, and Albus’ heart made an effort to escape his body. No one ever smiled at him. This man would stop too once he talked to people in the city.
“What’s your name?”
“Zale Hagan, at your service.” The man bowed, then all color drained from his face, and he reached out to steady himself on a wrought iron bookshelf Albus had yet to finish. The iron parts were done, but he needed wooden shelves and he didn’t know where to find a woodworker. He could do them himself if he got hold of wood, but he didn’t know where to go.
“Fuck.” Zale breathed in deeply. Gone was the smile and bubbly energy.
“Do you need medical care?” Albus believed there was some kind of healer on this side of the veil. He flicked his tongue to taste the air and winced. Zale was sick, sicker than anyone Albus had met before.
Zale waved the hand he didn’t use to cling to the shelf—good thing it was sturdy. “Nothing can be done. I’ve been to all the doctors I could find, but they can’t help me. I wanted to see the edge of the world before my demise.” He gave Albus a sorrowful look. “I guess it’s time to embrace my fate.”
“And what fate is that?” What a weird human.
“My death, I mean. It’s time to accept I don’t have much longer.”
An invisible fist curled around Albus’ soul. He was aware humans died young, but the man didn’t look to be more than… it was hard to tell with humans, but thirty-five maybe. “You should wait a bit longer.”
Zale barked a laugh, still holding onto the shelf. “I wish I could.” He sobered. “I’m ill. Something is growing in my belly, and it’s eating me from the inside.”
Albus shuddered. “A parasite?”
Zale’s eyes grew wide, then he shook his head. “No, nothing sentient, though it has a life of its own.”
It took effort not to take a step back. Dragons couldn’t be infected by human diseases, but Albus didn’t want to have anything growing inside of him.
* * * *
Zale watched the dragon, and longing welled up inside of him. He wished he’d have time to get to know a dragon, but he feared he had little more than days left. It was a miracle he’d made it this far. He’d fully expected to die on the way, and he’d been forced to remain in a few cities along the trip, had spent a few nights in hospitals.
There was nothing that could be done, so as soon as he could stand on his own, they let him go and he’d continued his travels to the end of the world.
He was done. It was over. He’d set his affairs in order, had sold his half of his boat to Dylan since he refused it as a gift. He’d get the money back when Zale died. It was all in his will. He’d sold the rest of his things, and he’d used the money to get here. He still had some left. It would go to his parents once he no longer was around, and he assumed they’d give part of it to Bay, his brother.
He’d said goodbye to his friends and family, but he wanted one last adventure. He’d sailed to the horizon until there was nothing but him and the waves. He’d seen the end of the land, but he wanted to see the end of the human realm. Edge. He assumed there were other portals leading to the dragon realm, but he’d never heard of one. So he’d packed a couple of changes of clothes, kissed his mother goodbye, engulfed his father in a wordless hug, and walked away.
The last they’d see of him was, if not a healthy man, then at least a mostly healthy-looking one. One who could walk on his own, who wasn’t bed-bound and lost to fevers and pain. He spent days lost in fevers and pain. They came more and more often now. He’d lost his strength, his legs didn’t carry him for any long walks anymore, and he had to rest several times a day. What precious time he had left was overtaken by fatigue.
At least he’d spare his family what was to come, what had already come. He had no appetite anymore and had lost a lot of weight. Seeing a dragon had sparked enough joy to fight off the lethargy for a few glorious seconds, but now he was fading fast. He needed to sit.
“I’m sorry, but do you have a chair or a stool or something?”
The dragon looked around, as if seeing the room for the first time. Zale looked too. There was no hearth or whatever a blacksmith’s fireplace was called. A dragon blacksmith. He wished he could tell Dylan.
“I don’t think I have one, but it’s time to open the shop, anyway.”
“Right, I’ll…” He allowed his legs to fold, but before he landed on the floor, strong arms wrapped around him. Zale gasped in surprise. Damn, he’d moved fast.
“The floor is dirty.”
Zale glanced down and realized the dragon was barefoot. “You’re not wearing shoes.”
He looked away so fast, Zale feared he’d inadvertently insulted him. Maybe dragons didn’t wear shoes.
“What’s your name?” Zale did his best to ignore being carried. A month ago, no one would’ve been able to carry him, both because he’d been too heavy, and he’d been healthy enough to fight off anyone who tried. Now he could accept being carried, or spend part of his day sprawled on the dirty stone floor in a smithy.
It took a few seconds before the dragon answered. “Albus the Abomination.”
Zale didn’t think he imagined the wince, and he did nothing to hide his own. Who in their right mind named their kid Abomination? He’d heard dragons had weird names, but often they were called something with strength or… They valued strange things. He’d heard of one dragon named Frightful, Finn the Frightful, or something similar. “Do all dragons have alliterations in their names?”
“What’s your mother’s name?”
“Orinda the Odious.”
Zale chuckled. “It’s not.”
Albus looked down at him, his pupils changing into cat-like slits and his eyes glowing red like rubies. Magnificent, but fear blocked Zale’s throat. Shit.
Zale nodded his agreement. It was, of course, it was. Could someone name their kid Albus the Abomination, someone else could name theirs Orinda the Odious.
“My mother’s name is Ocean.”
Albus blinked at him, his eyes turning human again. “Ocean?”
He nodded. “My brother’s name is Bay.”
“And your father?”
Zale grinned. “George. He’s not from the coast.”
“You’re from the coast?”
“And when you’re from the sea, you have sea names?” Albus bent to open the door to one of the narrow, tall houses on the street. It was like stepping into a fairytale. An entire street of small, tower-like houses. They had to be at least four floors. Some towered over the others, but no house appeared broader than another.
“Wow, this road is—” Zale didn’t have time to say anything else before Albus stepped into the shop. There were things everywhere—shelves, large wooden boxes filled with what looked like hooks, coat racks, wine stands, tables without tabletops, room dividers, but most of all there were candle holders. Wall mounted, floor standing, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and some scattered around the floor.
Albus jumped at his outburst.
“Did you make all these?” There were too many things to give them justice, and there wasn’t any order to where things stood or how they were organized, which was too bad. The more Zale looked, the more amazed he became. “You’re an artist.”
“I don’t deal in art. It’s too risky.”
“But you sell these. These are your things, your shop?”
Albus grimaced. “On this side of the veil, everyone is paper-note dragons. If I get enough paper notes, I invest in gemstones, but my treasure is still small.”
Zale tried to process what he was saying without much luck. All dragons on this side of the veil collected money? Humans did too. “Have you been on this side of the veil for long?”
Albus put him on an iron-wrought stool by the counter, next to the brass cash register. “Did you make this too?”
Albus looked at the cash register with narrowed eyes. “I don’t like working in brass.”
“Oh. But could you make one?”
For a second, scales covered his throat before smoothing out into skin again. He flicked a forked tongue as he moved away, which made Zale freeze. Shit, he hadn’t known they had forked tongues. Knowledge about dragons wasn’t widespread, and not much reached small seaside towns like the one he came from.
“Too many details.”
Zale nodded his understanding. Buttons, and he assumed there were a lot of cogs and stuff inside. Not things you made in a smithy, perhaps.
“I’ll go clean up.” And then he was gone.
Zale slumped against the counter, the pain in his stomach gnawing at him. He closed his eyes for a moment, wishing for more time, but he was so tired.
There was a chime of a bell when the door to the shop opened, and a priest entered. He looked around in distaste, and when his gaze landed on Zale, he stilled. “Who are you?”
Where he came from, they weren’t big on formalities, but hospitality was important. “Zale Hagan.”
The man’s eyes narrowed and something close to a sneer crept onto his lips. “And what are you doing here?”
He was saved from replying by Albus entering the shop. “Reverend.”
The sneer bloomed. “Albus the Abomination.”
Since Albus didn’t move a muscle, Zale assumed he’d foreseen what kind of greeting he’d get.
“Why is there a human on that side of the counter?”
Rude. Zale wished he’d had the energy to stand. He wasn’t as strong as he’d been, his muscles fading with each passing minute, but he was taller than the reverend, and something inside urged him to stand united with Albus against him.
Albus didn’t answer, his eyes had changed to the glowing red color Zale had seen earlier, but it was the only indication he’d heard the reverend’s question.
Zale used the counter for support and stood. He did his best not to show what it cost him and smiled at the reverend. “How can we help you?”
“We?” The reverend slid his cold gaze over Zale. “I don’t know who you are.”
Did he know everyone in this city? Maybe he did. Zale was unsure of how big it was, but it was a tourist town. He couldn’t possibly keep track of the people coming and going.
“I’m with Albus the Astute.” He gestured at Albus so there wouldn’t be any confusion about who he meant. Albus hadn’t shown much emotion before, but now his face grew into a blank mask.
“You’re his mate?” The words dripped with distaste.
“What’s it to you if I am?” Oh, shit. He didn’t mind pissing the reverend off, though he should play nice with the church considering where he was heading, but he didn’t want to offend Albus. Would having a male mate make him less of a dragon? He’d heard the dragons coming here often took human mates, but maybe it was a bad thing in the eyes of a dragon too?
“I’m the one handling the human-dragon matings and Albus the Abomination—” he emphasized Abomination “—hasn’t been approved.”
The growl coming from Albus had Zale’s heart quicken, and he fought against the need to sit.
“What Albus the Adroit does is not your business. Now, how can we help you?”
Red painted the reverend’s face as he spluttered. “You can’t change his name!”
Zale glanced at Albus, who still held on to his blank face. “I don’t see how what I call Albus the Adept is any of your business. Did you have a reason to grace us with your presence?”
What little energy Zale had was quickly leaving him. He needed to sit, or his legs would soon go out from under him, but he didn’t want to show any weakness. He didn’t mind if Albus knew he was hanging on by a thread, but admitting defeat to the reverend would sting more than Zale wanted to admit.
“A nozzle on one of the church’s candlesticks has come off, and I was wondering if you could attach it again.” He dug out a heavy-looking bronze candle holder from the bag he was carrying and then held up a small plate-like thing—the nozzle—from his pocket. “If you could weld it back into place.”
Weld? Zale didn’t say anything. This was Albus’ field of expertise, so he’d sit this one out. And sit he did. It still hurt to have to lower himself in front of the reverend, but he made it look as nonchalant as he could, as if he’d lost interest now when they were talking shop.
“I can fix it.” Albus’ voice was growly, and when he stepped forward to grab the candle holder Zale was struck by how big he was. Not only was he more than a head taller than the reverend, but he was also twice as broad. Blacksmith, lots of heavy lifting.
“Can you do it now? I need to get back to the church.”
Albus nodded, and he plucked the nozzle from the reverend’s hand.
“I can take your payment while Albus is working.” Zale didn’t know what all the buttons meant, but there was one that was bigger than the rest, and he wanted to push it.
“It’s for the church.” The outraged tone had Zale fighting a grin. He wasn’t normally this petty.
“Yes, and the church will want to show their appreciation for Albus’ hard work, not to mention how important it is to keep a dragon fed. If all he has to eat is the customers daring to enter the shop, there will be a problem.”
Albus whipped around and stared at him, but Zale ignored him.
The reverend more or less threw a bill on the counter, which Zale quickly picked up. “Thank you.” He placed it in one of the slots and closed the drawer with a grin. The reverend glared, but Zale didn’t care. He wouldn’t be here long enough to have to suffer any repercussions, and he hoped he hadn’t made things harder for Albus.
It didn’t take many minutes before Albus came back into the shop and handed the candle holder to the reverend. “Done.” Then he walked in behind the counter without so much as looking at the reverend. Zale bit the inside of his cheek and waited until the bell above the door chimed before he chuckled.
He reached out and patted Albus’ arm. “I’m so sorry if I made things harder for you, but he wasn’t pleasant to talk to. It was childish of me.”
Albus studied him for a second. “Hatchlings are rude?”
Hatchlings? Ah, childish. “They can be.”
Albus nodded as if it explained everything. “You’re young, so it makes sense.”
A laugh bubbled out of Zale. “I’m not young. My mother would be appalled by my lack of manners.”
Albus didn’t reply. He had a faraway look in his eyes, which made Zale suspect he’d said something wrong. “How old are you?” He didn’t know if it was rude to ask, but at least it was a different topic.
“Two hundred thirty-four.”
“And yet you don’t look a day over forty.” Zale grinned, but it was soon replaced by a sigh. Two hundred and thirty-four years. Wouldn’t it be amazing? Or maybe you grew bored. Life was precious because it was limited and always a little too short. In his case, a lot too short.
“How old are you?”
“A hatchling.” There was something similar to fondness in Albus’ eyes, and it had a lump forming in Zale’s throat. He wasn’t sure his voice would carry, so he nodded instead and did his best to blink away the burn in his eyes.
When the silence grew too long, he cleared his throat. “A dying man.”
Albus was saved from answering by the bell above the door.