Saturday, 24 December 2011


"I won't put it on!  I won't wear it!  Get away from me!"  Smaragd flailed her arms around, slapping maids away from her as she tried to get away from them, and they tried to get her to put her wedding clothes on.  She caught one maid a glancing blow to the cheek-bone and she stumbled back, tripping over her own feet and landing in a crumpled heap on the floor.  Smaragd gave a cheer of triumph, flinging her arms up and knocking another maid's attempt to get a veil on her head to the ground.  Then someone or something, she didn't see what, cannoned into the back of her legs and toppled her as well.  She landed by the first fallen maid, and then ten maids all jumped on her at once.
They hauled her off the floor and tied her hands and feet to the four posts at the corners of the bed, and worked hard and steadily, untying only one limb at a time as they pulled clothes on and pushed them into place, never letting her get free or thrash around enough to damage the clothes.  As her throat finally grew hoarse from her screaming, swearing and shouting and her volume decreased, the Queen appeared in the doorway of her room.
"Not dead then?" she said.  Without waiting for an answer she walked in and sat down on a couch by the window.  The couch was essentially a long bench with a few cushions laid on it for comfort, but other than the bed and the wardrobe was the only furniture in the room.  "With the noise you've been making I'd assumed that your father had sent to down to Cole to see reason."  Cole was the torturer, executioner, and manicurist.  No-one had dared asked him why he provided nail-care as an additional service, though many of the maids took advantage of it.
"I hate you!" said Smaragd, trying to spit despite facing the ceiling and only succeeding in covering her own face in slightly-greenish spittle.
"You appear to hate everybody today," said the Queen.  "Which makes a pleasant change from loathing us, rejecting us, and ignoring us.  We feel privileged."
"You're marrying me to a dragon!  I'm supposed to be grateful?"
"I'm not marrying you to anybody," said the Queen.  "Your father made a rather curious deal regarding your future when you were just a baby, and before you say anything, that's just traditional for royalty.  If it had gone another way you'd be marrying Baron Harald, and he's over seventy."
"At least he's human!"
"That's one way of looking at it," said the Queen.  "Though not a very practical one.  Harald would definitely want a wedding night."
"The dragon might want one too!"
"Really?  Do you honestly believe that dragons want humans for that?  Oh well, if that's what you think...."
"Well, what else would the dragon want me for?"  Smaragd was almost dressed now and was physically exhausted from the struggle.  The maids didn't look much better off.
"Food?" The Queen stared out of the window thoughtfully.  "Decoration?  Perhaps a princess would go well on a hoard of gold.  Barter, maybe?  Going to another human domain and offering up the princess in return for something?"
"Those are all horrible!"
"And sex with dragons isn't?  My, I can see that all this fight is just a pretence then!"
"Is she ready?" The King walked into the chamber and found his daughter sprawled on the bed in her wedding dress, looking tired and red-eyed.  "My, I'm sure the wedding night is still some hours away, darling, mmm, you probably don't have to be, mmm, ready for that quite yet."
"See!  See!  He thinks I'll be having sex with the dragon!"
"No, dear, he just thinks that all young women think of is sex," said the Queen, wishing that her husband were a little more interested in it.  He seemed to prefer telling stories of sex he'd had as a young man to actually trying it out any more.
"The dragon is downstairs," said the King.  "Come along now."
Smaragd had to be forced down the stairs and into the courtyard by all ten maids, with the Queen following behind.  In the courtyard was an enormous blue dragon with a wing span that was easily as long as the banqueting hall and a tail that was longer still.  With her was another, smaller dragon that was turquoise and kept shuffling its feel and curling and uncurling its tail.
"Dragon!" called the King.  "I am keeping my side of the bargain!  Here is my daughter, for your son to marry!"
The dragon tilted her head slightly to one side and squinted at the King.  He stood there feeling nervous, wondering what was coming.
"Son?" The dragon's voice was whispery yet loud, like being caught in an articulate hurricane.  "This is my daughter."
"Oh?" The King thought about this for a few moments, and then said, "But the marriage... the... well, the..."
"The sex?" The dragon pulled its lips back from its huge triangular teeth and blew smoke from its nostrils.  This was, the Queen realised, dragon laughter.  "How would dragons and human have sex?"
"Well, I imagine it's easier if they're both lesbians," said the King, apparently thinking hard about this.  "Much easier than any other way I should imagine.  Do dragons have particularly hot tongues?"
"Dragon marriage is not like human marriage!  It is not some antiquated ritual designed to increase the power of a lazy, unworking caste of mystical layabouts!  Dragon marriage has significance, it bonds souls together.  It is used to form alliances and forge futures."
"Sounds like human marriage to me," said the Queen quietly, unaware that dragon's have excellent hearing.  "Except maybe for the souls bit."
The dragon did its smoke-snorting laugh again.  "Perhaps," it said.  "However, given the size difference  I think we shall forgo the sex part of human marriage and stick to the dragon parts."
"Unlucky, my dear," said the King to Smaragd, who stared at him in utter disbelief.
"You think I'm a lesbian?" she managed, though it was clearly hard for her to speak.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he thought you were a lemon," said the Queen quietly, quite aware of how deaf her husband was.  "Still, looks like you've got your wish: your father can still marry you off to someone human now."
"He thought I was a lesbian?"
"I would expect he still thinks you're a lesbian," said the Queen.  "Expect to be introduced to lots of eligible princesses from now on."

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