Everything was ready.
The Queen’s guards were standing by, watching the door carefully.
The Queen herself sat on her throne, dressed elegantly in a green gown, her long black hair cascading down her shoulders, those sharp blue eyes staring at the door warily. Her only protection was her intricately woven chainmail beneath her gown, and her sword leaning against the side of the throne.
“Are you ready, Your Majesty?”
Queen Lorelai looked up at her personal guard, Luca, and gave a terse nod. “I guess I don’t really have a choice, do I?” she asked with a deep breath. “My father brought this upon all of us. He did what he thought was best for the Kingdom twenty years ago, and now I have to make my decision for my people as well.”
Luca nodded, and his eyes studied her face. There was a harsh knock at the grand doors, and they both looked up, snapping to attention. “It’s time,” Luca said, his voice a low rumble.
“It sure is,” Lorelai said, finding her voice. “Go ahead. Let it in.”
Luca inclined his head affirmatively at the doormen, and the two pulled the doors wide open, jumping back as far as they could to stay away from the beast that was to enter. It was crouched low, its wings drawn into it so it could crawl into the throne room. Slowly it lumbered into the room towards Lorelai, and the Queen stood respectfully, looking over the creature.
The dragon was beautiful, with cream colored scales and wild violet hair. Its bright blue eyes spotted the Queen, and as soon as it was through the doors that were too small for it, it brightened up and gave what could only be presumed to be a smile. “Well, you could have had your doors made a little bigger, couldn’t you have? I guess you weren’t expecting a dragon when you built it, I understand.”
Lorelai couldn’t help but stare. She hadn’t expected the dragon to be so beautiful, to have such a lovely lilting voice. She took a moment to take a long breath, and smiled her most courtly smile. “Welcome to my home,” she finally said, bolstering her courage. “I am Lorelai, it’s a pleasure to finally have you here.”
The dragon looked around the throne room, a strange wistful glint in her eyes. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in these halls,” she said, before letting her eyes land on Lorelai once again. “You’ve grown so much.”
Lorelai froze, staring at the dragon. “I beg your pardon?” She straightened herself, taking a long breath. “It’s my understanding that the last time that you were in this castle was when you failed to protect my mother, Queen Grace, and entered into a treaty with my father. You and I do not have a history.” Time to get to business, she thought. No need for pleasantries with a beast she had no desire to become close with. “The treaty that has expired. Now, what is it that you want from me in exchange for the past twenty years of peace?”
“Failed to protect your mother?” The dragon asked, ignoring the change in topic. Her stance became more relaxed somehow, her shoulders dropping as if she were about to stretch out on the cool tile floors. “Your father never told you, then. Child, I am your mother.”
There was silence in the throne room. Lorelai felt all of the air leave her body, and she couldn’t force anymore into her lungs. She turned and looked back to Luca, her eyes searching him as if he’d have the answers. He looked as surprised as she was. “Leave me,” she finally said, making her voice work.
“Your Majesty, are you sure?” Luca took a step forward, his head tilted towards the Queen, and his voice was hushed.
Lorelai nodded, meeting his eyes. “Take your men. I’m armed, I’ll be fine.”
“I’ll be right outside the door if you need me.” Luca took a long breath, hesitant to leave, but he finally bowed to her, and waved to call off his men, leaving with them.
Once the room was clear, Lorelai regarded the dragon before her carefully, her eyes narrowed and confused. She took a few moments to breathe, and think, before she finally spoke in a calm voice. “I think you owe me an explanation, then. Because I’m fairly certain that the former Queen was not a dragon in any of the paintings around here.” How many times had she laid under the painting of her and her mother, staring up at it, searching for some kind of resemblance with her, to hope that she’d look like her or have her mother’s sweet nature. “I knew her, I remember her. She wasn’t…”
The dragon was quiet and let Lorelai process this, her blue eyes watching with mild curiosity and amusement. “There is so much that your father didn’t tell you before he died,” she murmured, laying down on her belly. With her on the floor, she was eye level with Lorelai, and she gave what almost looked like a smile. “He was scared, he sent me away to keep me far from you both. Please, will you allow me to explain?”
For several long moments, Lorelai stared into those bright blue pools, seeing the softness and kindness that was there. It was a look that was lodged in her memories, one that she could never forget. “It is you,” she breathed, her voice raw, and she walked forward and put her forehead to the dragon’s, soft sobs escaping her.
Grace nuzzled her daughter’s neck, though stayed quiet while the Queen shook in her sobs. “I’m sorry,” she finally said, her voice gentle. “I thought your father would have told you, eventually. I thought this would be a celebration, my being allowed back at the castle now that the treaty has expired. I was wondering why you needed so many guards around you for our reunion.” She pulled back, looking over Lorelai, that hint of a smile forming on her lips. “My child, I am so sorry that I’ve been absent for so much of your life. I’ve been waiting for today for so long, to let you know that I’ve been watching over you, hearing about all of your accomplishments. Lorelai, I am so very proud of you.”
Lorelai wiped her tears and took a ragged breath. She was thankful that Luca had taken the guards with him, that they weren’t around to see her like this. “What happened, with you and Father? I remember having such a happy childhood, how are you…”
“A dragon?” Grace laughed in her soft voice, watching her daughter closely. “Your father fell in love with my human body, while I was under a curse. I’ve always been a dragon, except for those brief, wonderful years that I was cursed to be a human. I was just trying to find a way out of the magic that had transformed me, when I met a Prince who said he would help. I didn’t mean to fall in love with him, or become his Queen, or have the most precious baby girl bless our lives.” She looked upon Lorelai fondly, raising a scaly eyebrow. “Do you remember the attack on the castle, right before I left? You were only eight or nine.”
“How could I forget it?” At the nudging of Grace, Lorelai moved to go and sit on her throne, feeling numb and overwhelmed to hear all of this information. “You were struck by one of the fiends who was able to breach the castle, Father said that it killed you. He always told me that some great dragon was supposed to be watching over us, and that the dragon failed by letting you die.”
Grace shook her large head, and moved towards the throne, her claws clicking on the tile floor as she walked. “I was struck, by a sword. That much is correct. But the damage done to me was what broke the curse that had been placed upon me. Because of that, I was able to summon my beastly strength to protect those that I loved.” She paused, looking around the throne room, and let out a small sigh. “It scared your father, to see me like…like this. The thought that I could become a dragon one day when the curse was broken was all very fantastical and whimsical to him. When it actually happened, seeing me without the affliction of the curse was terrifying. I finished off the raiders, and I left the castle.”
“But the treaty? We were supposed to have twenty years of peace and protection, in exchange for what? What did Father give you?”
A large shrug accompanied Grace’s smile. “He gave me you, Lorelai. I was still able to keep watch over you. I know that it was hard to grow up without a mother, but your father still gave me that chance. Once he thought for a moment, he realized that he was worried that someone might come after me, and really take me from you. As troubled as he was about me, he didn’t want that for all us. And he gave me protection as well, in his own way.”
“He did?” Lorelai felt very small, very childlike listening to Grace’s explanations. It was hard for her to remember that she was the Queen here, someone who had grown and become respected and powerful in this kingdom. “I don’t understand.”
“Lorelai…” Grace paused, considering her words. “I wasn’t known as the grotesque Dragon Queen, someone to be feared or hunted. I was simply Queen Grace, may she be at peace. And I could live in peace, so long as no one knew who I was. Your father didn’t realize just how much he was giving me in return.”
For a moment, Lorelai sat back on the throne, melting into it as she tried to take in all of this information. Finally, she sighed, her eyes turned towards her mother, though she was looking through her. “What happens now, with the treaty?” she made herself ask. There were other questions, of course, but the treaty, the whole reason they’d been reunited, was still on her mind. She could figure out her own life later, she still needed to know what was going to happen with the safety of her people.
“Now, I’d like to rest, and bask in the feeling of finally being here, in my home, with my strong daughter.” Grace was looking around the throne room, taking it all in, before she returned those eyes to her daughter. “What will you do?”
Lorelai considered this for a moment, then looked to the doors. “I should go and reassure Luca that I’m alright. I know him, he’s out there pacing a hole in the hallway.” Grace smirked, watching Lorelai start out of the room, curling herself into a ball on the cool tiles to rest.
Luca stood at attention when the doors of the throne room opened and the Queen stepped out, though she noticed that he’d been mid-step when he saw her. “Your Majesty?” he asked, his wary eyes on his Queen.
She leaned back against the closed door and pressed her fingers against the bridge of her nose. “I think we’re going to need bigger doors.”