Even at four Draco knew that his father was a giant. That man could push Draco on the swings at the park with the kind of strength that only a giant possessed. Each push was harder than the one before it. Each push would send the boy closer and closer to the clouds above. It was in those moments that Draco felt like he was flying. Draco’s father laughed like a giant too, loud and gruff, eyes twinkling. When Draco’s father was mad he would lash out just like a giant, bash and smash and crash. Never Draco, but often the castle or the princess that lived there would feel the brunt of the giant’s wrath. After such a storm there would always be a deafening silence.
Draco’s mother was that princess who had the cuts and bruises to show what an angry giant can do. She was pale and sweet, quiet and kind, just like a princess ought to be. Or so it was that the giant said. When the giant went to work he would place the princess in the dungeon. Sometimes Draco would go there too; the dark and warm dungeon was a place where he would cuddle up with the princess and she would tell him stories of her childhood, the time before the giant came.
Draco knew he was a dragon, what else would come from a giant and a princess having a child? He was as wise as a dragon is wise, watching and listening, never missing a thing. Draco knew where the giant kept his happiness potions and in which cupboard was kept the sleeping broth he brewed for the princess when she made him extra angry. Like a dragon, Draco was strong. Sometimes he would go out with the giant into the forest that surrounded the castle and fetch water or wood. The giant made sure to give his dragon only as much as a dragon should carry. Draco sometimes watched the giant kill. Rabbits or deer, never people. The giant told Draco he could kill though, if he had to. Draco only nodded, showing that he understood.
Draco knew stories of giants and dragons and princesses. They were the picture stories he found in the castle’s books or the stories that the princess told him in the dark in the dungeon when the giant was away. Draco knew that one day the brave hero would come and fight the giant and then take the princess away. Draco didn’t know if he wanted that to happen. Not on the days when the giant was happy anyway. Those were the days when Draco thought his life living with the giant and the princess was perfect. On the dark days though, those days when the princess cried and the giant roared his terrible roars, on those days Draco wished that he was the hero and not the dragon. Or those were the days when he wished he was a bigger dragon, big enough to swallow the giant whole.
There were other times too when Draco worried. As he read those stories or heard the hushed whisper of his mother he wondered would the hero need to slay the dragon too before the princess could be saved? The princess always laughed at such thoughts and smiled a smile that lit up her face. There was always reassurance then that baby dragons are cute, no hero would wish to hurt a baby dragon.
Draco found ways to make the giant happy. Unlike the princess, Draco was free to explore for much of the time and so he learnt to play with fire. He watched and listened and began to try. By taking the chunks of rabbit or deer that the giant cut and prepared Draco found he could turn the meat into a meal. By following the pictures in some books he found, Draco was able to make something the giant loved and the princess ate. A full giant was a happier giant. A fed princess slept at night and woke the next morning brighter and with more spirit.
Then came the night when the princess told a brand new story. It was the story of how she wished to be a bird. She told her little dragon that birds can sneak through small spaces, spread their little wings and fly up into the beautiful blue sky. Draco already knew this about birds but he was a smart little dragon. Draco knew to listen and watch and learn. The princess cried while she told her story, fat tears falling hard and fast and plopping silently on to the faded pillows and the mattress.
The morning that followed after that story something changed within the little dragon. It began when the princess fought verbally with the giant, a foolish bravery that Draco initially couldn’t understand. The giant left the castle with huffs and puffs. Draco watched him as the giant punished the princess and then locked her away. For hours Draco listened at the door of the dungeon as the princess whimpered. Each moment, every tear, Draco wished for the hero to come but a dragon as wise and clever as Draco knew such a wish was just fantasy.
When the giant returned home that evening Draco could hear his clumsiness and could sense the giant needed rest. The meal of deer had been prepared especially. A magic spell to make the giant sleep for a hundred years. Draco smiled as he found the keys to the dungeon on the giant’s belt. Taking them was easy as his father slept on.
“How is this possible?” asked the princess as the dungeon door swung open. Her pretty eyes were wide with wonder.
“It is time,” was Draco’s reply. “Time for a dragon and a little bird to fly free and far.”
* * *
When the heroes finally came to the castle they found it burnt to the ground. In his chair lay the giant, very much dead to the world. He had taught his little dragon much and so Draco knew that the giant’s magic potion liked fire. The little dragon had spent that day spreading potion all around the castle’s floors. With a single match Draco had breathed his flames. Hand in hand with the princess he had said his goodbyes.
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