The Dragon and the Waif


Once upon a time ago, there lived a fair young maiden who was as brilliant as she was beautiful.
Suitors from countries far and wide came to call, imploring her relatively impoverished parents for
her hand in marriage.

She declined each with heartfelt apologies. They all left sullen and insulted, yet with their heads
held high. A young woman so poor and beautiful would need to concede eventually, so the suitors
persisted until one day the young woman could not take their advances no more.

Her mother disapproved of the refusals and impressed upon her daughter of the many possibilities
for happiness she could have if she chose “this” prince or “that” lord. Her father impressed upon
her the financial benefits to the family and how they could finally afford to have luxuries they have
lived without.

Her looks were only a small part of herself and gave it little thought; the young woman grew
frustrated to the lack of respect for her intelligence which far surpassed any physical beauty she had.

After a particularly rotten encounter with a suitor (he shook an axe in her face after refusing him),
she took chase to the woods not knowing were she was going, but knowing she had to get away.

A day or two had passed until she found herself in a large clearing at the base of a mountain.
The ground was charred and littered with animal bones. At first, she was afraid. “What kind of
monster could do this?” She gasped.

Her stomach growled with hunger, and soon food was more important than fear. She found some
cooked meat near a vast cave carved into the mountain’s side and sat down to eat. During her
haste to get food into her belly, she didn’t notice that she was being watched carefully from the
blackness at the end of the cave.

The eyes watched her shovel bite after bite into her mouth. Her hands were filthy, clothing torn
and ragged, and hair matted. The eyes continued to watch until she sagged against the stone
wall with her stomach full, sighing pleasantly. She nearly fell asleep until a pebble smacked against
her leg. She rubbed the spot, mildly confused, and laid herself onto her stomach on the cave floor.
Her eyes fluttered closed as another pebble hit her shoulder. She started, looking up for signs of a cave-in.

A low chuckle erupted from the dark side of the cave.

Squinting her eyes, she peered into the blackness. “Who’s there?” she demanded, uncharacteristically

“No one” the deep growl of a voice replied.

In no mood for pleasantries, she barked. “Well then leave me alone.”

“Would you rather I not pay attention to you? You did just eat my dinner you know.”

Despite her irritation, she smiled.  “Who are you?” She asked kindly.

The growling voice belonged to a large scarlet dragon with wise eyes, a toothy grin, and a large
rounded belly. He came out to greet the girl with his head down low so that she may take a good
look at his face.

“A dragon!” she gasped.

From that day forth, the dragon and the girl became best of friends for he appreciated her mind
 and she appreciated his wit and endless knowledge.

For the first year they learned of each other’s past and bantered and debated endlessly of the
mystical great beyond.  His dragon wisdom and rapier wit entertained the girl endlessly. Her
innocence and purity fascinated him relentlessly.

The second year was spent roaming the land. The girl high on his shoulders, they explored and
discussed varieties of peoples and societies, rediscovering themselves within the other.

The third year passed awkwardly as the dragon fell in love with the girl, which she reciprocated
reluctantly. Their difference was obvious, humans and dragons don’t fall in love… but there they
were, two hearts intertwined. She cried a thousand tears, only wishing she didn’t love a
dragon- wishing he were human. He massacred an entire forest in desperation; never did he want
to cause her such pain.

"Human, why do you love me?”

“In you, I see myself being who I want to be.”

“I cannot be a lover to you.”

“Lovers come and go. Friendship remains.”

“We are no longer friends, however.”

“You truly think so? I would choose you over a thousand lovers.”

The fourth year bade better. They had resolved that their love was different and as such, they
will simply have to adapt. And adapt they did. In fact they adapted so well that they were truly
happy.  Days were spent enjoying each other’s company immensely. Each night that they lay their
head to rest was with anticipation of spending the next day together.

The fifth year, their differences began to drive a wedge between them. She, as a human woman,
dreamed of children, art, and other fantastical things. He, as a dragon, thought of nothing but his
next meal, an intruderless territory, and the comings and goings of the universe.

One morning, the dragon approached the young woman. “Human, do you love me?”

“Of course, Dragon.”

“But you dream of children… I cannot give you children.”

“That may be, but they are but dreams. To dream is human.”

“Then you must not love me.”

Stricken by the statement, the young woman steeled her shoulders and smiled kindly at the dragon.
“I love you. I have had my chances with having a human husband and children. I chose you.”

Satisfied, the dragon spoke no more of the matter.

In the sixth year as the young woman sat by a river, planting her feet into the soft sandy shore,
the dragon approached her again.

“Human, do you love me?”

“Yes, always have, Dragon.”

“What is it do you think of when alone?”

“Does it matter, Dragon?”

“You musn’t love me then.”

Again, stricken by the statement, she steeled her shoulders and smiled kindly at the dragon with a
chuckle to her voice. “I don’t understand what you mean.”

“If you love me, you will speak your mind to me.”

“Dragon, they are nothing but dreams and fantasies.”

“Do you dream of me?”

“Not much.”


“You are real.”

“Dragons do not dream.”

“Have you met other dragons?”


“How do you know dragons do not dream?”

“I do not dream. I have no need for fantasy.”

“I am human. I need fantasy.”

The young woman began to cry. So much did she weep that her tears made the river swell.
Unsatisfied, the dragon left. He charred another forest in his anger for making his beloved cry.

By the seventh year, the woman and the dragon barely spoke words of kindness. One evening
as they prepared to sleep, the dragon asked her again.

“Human, do you love me?”

“Yes, and always will, Dragon.”

“And yet you continue to dream.”

“And yet I continue to be human.”

“Do I not make you happy?”

“Will you not realize that it is not my dreams that make me happiest?”

In his fury, the dragon shouted matter-of-factly, “You do not love me!”

“I always have, I still do, and I always will. It is you who does not love yourself and as such, cannot
love me or see the love I have for you.”

The dragon left the cave that night and returned the next morning to find it empty.