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The dragon's heart

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Pharm was looking at the scenery from the classroom window as he remembered the dream from the night before and didn't hear the voice calling for him. He couldn't remember the specific details, only a warm feeling that filled his heart as someone gave him a passionate kiss. He woke up after failing to look directly into the face of the one who had kissed him.

The boy brought his fingers to his mouth, as if trying to reach the sensation that seemed to linger there, still so real, oblivious to the fact that the voice demanding his attention was increasingly in dumbfounded anger before his distraction.

"Pharm Triwinij, I swear that it doesn't matter if you are my son or even the heir to the throne, if you don't pay attention in class, you will get a warning!", the teacher's voice finally reached the ears of the distracted boy who blushed intensely.

"I'm sorry, mom!", he replied trying to hide his head between his shoulders. The entire class's attention was focused on him. It wasn't enough that the teacher was his own mother, she was also the queen, which technically made him a prince, a member of royalty. All titles he would trade for being a simple commoner any day of the week.

"If you really feel sorry, go to the front of the class and name the 3 main characteristics of dragons!", the woman still maintained her stern look and tone without any hint of humor.

Oh, great! That dragon issue again. In all of his 19 years of existence, Pharm never managed to get rid of this topic and it made him increasingly irritated about everything related to it. Wizards were mortal enemies of their neighbors, the dragons. Because of the disputes over territory between the two magical realms, wizards and dragons were prevented from interacting and living together and, for that, everyone had been taught how to recognize one of those terrible creatures.

"Okay, dragons…", Pharm cleared his throat before starting. The attention of the other mates was still glued on him. He knew that to err was to jeopardize the reputation of his mother and the realm, but that only made him even more nervous. He had always been shy and terrified of speaking in front of a group of people, as was exactly the situation he found himself in now. "Dragons…", he swallowed hard trying to remember the first information that luckily seemed to have come to him in memory form. "Dragons can take human form.", he recited and looked to his mother for encouragement.

"I asked for 3 characteristics, Pharm. Speak up and get out of there!", the woman ordered impatiently.

Pharm felt a bead of sweat running down his back and his cheeks flushed at his mother's reprimand.

"Dragons…", he started stuttering from the stress "D-dragons a-are very charismatic!", he managed to get it out with some effort.

"Charismatic?" The word had been spoken in a controlled tone to hide the indignation it carried, but Pharm knew it better and started to fear for his own smooth skin.

"Pharm Triwinij," the queen said, raising her arms to her sides, sparks sprouting organically from the tips of her 10 fingers. "How dare you say dragons are charismatic?", she punctuated the question by shooting small bolts directly at Pharm. The attack caused panic among the other students who took refuge in the back of the room for fear of getting hurt by accident, but the real victim to whom they were directed knew that there was no alternative but to resist in the place where he was. The shocks hurt and made his skin fry where they touched it, the trick was to try to use a protective shield to get away with it as best as possible. However, in addition to the main characteristics of dragons, another thing Pharm had a hard time remembering was protection spells, which made him vulnerable.

"They can convince people, I call that charismatic!", Pharm tried to explain himself, taking advantage of his mother's moment of hesitation to mumble another spell under his breath, but that also failed, so he just hid behind the pulpit.

"Pharm! You know dragons are staunch liars! That's nothing charismatic about them! Their sweet words are all about convincing people to do what they want!", she said approaching the front of the class, calmly walking to where the boy was hiding.

"Mom, please!", he finally pleaded as he saw the woman standing before him, an immense ball of electricity hovering over her right hand. If the shocks were inconvenient as if he was burned by incense, then that huge ball would leave a burn that would take weeks to heal and he didn't need that experience.

"I might think about showing mercy if you can say the third and last one. Speak up!"

It was at that moment that Pharm froze on spot. He knew what words he should say in that instant – mostly because he wanted to preserve his body intact, they were magical beings, but they could still get hurt and they weren't immortal. But the more he tried to speak, the less he could. His brain persisted in replaying the dream scenes, completely oblivious to the imminent danger. Pharm longed to feel that comfort and protection he'd experienced kissing those sweet lips.

The boy had become distracted again and realizing this, the teacher had given up trying to go easy on him.

The teacher let out a heavy sigh. "Dragons can make a person pregnant with just one kiss, Pharm. That's the right answer!" She closed her eyes, a worrying vein pulsing near her left temple.

Hearing those words, Pharm felt his heart sink. A searing pain took over his senses and he thought he was going to pass out. Unfortunately for him, it was at this very moment when his mother cursed at him and threw the ball of electricity at him.

Luckily, Pharm was carrying his protection crystal on a necklace around his neck and all he had to do was mutter a prayer under his breath, which made him disappear safe and sound, leaving the furious queen behind.

********

"If wizards and dragons are forbidden to live together, how does she know they are liars?", Pharm muttered to himself as he strolled through the forest. The greenish path he was walking was his favorite: far from the castle and close to the border with the dragon kingdom, few people chose that place for a walk. He was in no danger of being disturbed there.

"Maybe they're just misunderstood and we don't even know it yet, but due to lack of communication both sides prefer to go to war before trying to talk!", Pharm crossed his arms in front of his chest, an adorable pout appearing on his lips. "When I become the next in line, the first thing I'm going to do is changing all this nonsense!", Pharm said with conviction, thinking that only the fauna and flora served him as an audience, until he heard a low laugh.

"Who's there?", he asked suddenly, holding his protection crystal between his fingers. Anyone listening to him would think he was fearless and intimidating, such was the confidence that his tone inspired, but the reality was far from that and his knees were about to collapse under his body due to anxiety.

The laughter was heard once more, until it was interrupted by a groan that seemed to be provoked by some kind of pain. The person was probably injured. Pharm ran in the direction he thought the noise had come from.

Sitting under an old fig tree was a man still wearing some sort of armor Pharm couldn't recognize. It was all black, covering almost all of his skin, leaving only his face and hands showing. Moving closer to the man, Pharm noticed the strange texture of the armor. He was most certainly a foreigner. The man groaned again and coughed up a lot of blood.

"You're hurt!", Pharm approached worriedly, feeling around the guy's body trying to find the wound.

In turn, the man quickly raised his hands, trying to push Pharm away from him. It was certainly a warrior's reaction, to trust no one, but somehow he seemed too slow to act. Almost as if there was something wrong...

It was then that Pharm noticed the man's eyes. They had cast a spell on him to make him lose his eyesight. Pharm pursed his lips.

Only experienced wizards with great power and knowledge of spells could cast something like that. It could be that the effect was only temporary or even permanent, but he wouldn't have time to look further if the man died in the meantime.

"Let's go! I'll take care of you!", Pharm said, putting one of his arms under the man's armpit to help him up.

"What are you doing? Where are you taking me?", the injured stranger tried to protest, but soon his breath caught in another wave of blood.

"Do I need to carry you or are you willing to go?", Pharm asked, giving the man a hard look – not realizing he couldn't see him at the moment.

It turns out that despite not being able to see, it wasn't difficult for the guy to notice that his savior was quite daring. He had been waiting under that tree for some time, hoping that someone would pass by and help him, but to no avail. When he heard the boy complaining about the rivalry between dragons and wizards, his pain almost disappeared and he laughed, pleased that his soon-to-be savior was someone so peculiar. But something he also knew was that the boy was smaller than he was. As he sought a less painful position, he managed to get a good idea that the boy's petite body probably wouldn't be able to carry him and as bad as he was, he had no other options. That's how he decided not to resist anymore.

"Please guide me along the way...", he stopped, realizing that they hadn't introduced themselves yet.

"Pharm. My name is Pharm!", the boy said with conviction as he started to walk with the other's muscular body leaning against his. "Now let's go or you'll end up dying here!", he said without remembering to have good manners and ask back the name of the man who had to bite his lip to keep from smiling at the situation. He was pretty sure it would make him feel even more pain.

They walked for a long time without talking much. The foreigner because he was trying to save his energy and Pharm because he felt like he was in a trance. The proximity to the man he thought he had never seen before in his life seemed to want to awaken some kind of memory as if he were experiencing a deja vu. Luckily, his feet knew the way better than his brain and he only remembered to stop when the other protested.

"Pharm… I don't mean to judge or offend you, but is there still a long way to go?", the man asked in a weak voice that set off all the alarms in Pharm's brain.

"Oh, we…", it was then that he looked around and saw his destination less than 10 meters away. It was a small cabin that Pharm had found a while ago and decided it was perfect to spend some time or take a break when he quarreled with the queen as he had just done that morning. It would be the perfect refuge to care for a wounded foreigner warrior who had arrived there, probably using illegal means that could put them both at risk if discovered. Pharm sighed before answering the question in a light, encouraging tone: "We're here! Just a few steps to go, okay?"

For the next few weeks Pharm took care of the man diligently without asking too many questions. Not that he was one to talk much either. But vulnerable as he was, the foreigner warrior had little choice but to submit himself at the little wizard's kindness and mercy.

It wasn't even too difficult to see that Pharm had powers because during the time he tended to the stranger's wounds, the boy used minor spells and potions to help the wounds heal faster or help the man fall asleep after suffering with pain throughout the day and still not being able to sleep at night.

One day, when the warrior was feeling better enough to sit with his back against the bed rail, although he still hadn't regained his sight, Pharm finally discovered his name.

"Hey War, I'm going out fishing. Do you need anything else?"

The man listened to the question with curiosity and his brow only furrowed more when he decided to ask. "War?"

"It's just that I don't know your name yet and I don't want to pressure you into telling me if you don't want to, but we need to communicate somehow, so I decided to call you—", Pharm started to explain speaking so many words per second that the man almost missed the chance to interrupt him.

"Dean. My name is Dean. And judging by your size, I think you must be younger than me. So, you probably should call me P'Dean…", the man said, looking vaguely in the direction where he thought Pharm was standing, ready to leave.

Pharm laughed at the man's assumption that he was older just because he was taller, but decided not to comment on it. He just chuckled to himself and tested the newfound name on his lips. "Alright, P'Dean!"

Dean felt every inch of his body react to hearing that sweet voice chanting his real name. It was like a spell waking him from a deep sleep for the first time in tens, hundreds of years. He felt himself blushing though he wasn't sure Pharm would notice the effect.

"Yeah… yeah… And I don't want anything, thanks!"

"Alright! Then I'll be going!", Pharm said and without waiting any longer, he left through the forest towards the creek.

********

The rhythm that settled between them was serene and in sync. It was fun and at the same time strange how well they managed to communicate as if they had known each other for a lifetime.

One fine day, Pharm and Dean were at the waterfall to take a shower. Dean had recovered well enough to be able to walk without needing support, but his vision remained blurred. Pharm had tried to talk to the other about it, but the two of them had always ended up in a dark and anxious mood. So they avoided the topic as much as they could.

However, the lack of eyesight was not a problem for Dean. Even after spending so much time in bed recovering from his injuries, his physique was strong and his instincts sharp – a warrior ready to fight. And that was exactly what Pharm was analyzing at that moment.

Dean had taken off his tunic and was showering on the creek wearing only his pants. The shapely muscles glistened with the sunlight reflecting off them, making them even more attractive. Pharm was starting to feel a little uncomfortable inside his pants when he noticed that something inside them was starting to move.

He quickly slipped behind the tree he was sitting under while admiring Dean's physique and grabbed the distracting object.

It was a small enchanted mirror. He sighed heavily. It was probably his mother looking for news. He needed to answer it or she would probably appear in the flesh there using some tracking spell and all he wanted at the moment was to keep his favorite foreigner warrior from being discovered.

"Hi, mom…", he replied confirming that it really was the queen on the other side of the mirror.

"Pharm, you haven't been home in over 20 days! You don't care about your poor mother anymore?", she asked, adding a hint of vulnerability to her voice that Pharm knew wasn't true.

"Mom, you attacked me!", Pharm said putting a hand on his hips while he still held the small mirror in a position where he could talk to the woman.

"Son, this is old news, okay? I need you to come back to the Palace to solve some of the realm's problems. Can I count on you?", she asked with genuine sincerity this time and Pharm couldn't refuse.

He put the mirror back in his pocket and went to the bank of the creek to talk to Dean. For a few moments he almost forgot what he was going to do when Dean ran to meet him when he heard his voice calling out to him. The warrior was completely soaked, but he had on his face the smile of a boy who was playing and having a great time. A deep dimple on either side of Dean's cheeks appeared and nearly seduced Pharm away from his determination.

"Pharm?", Dean called worriedly when he didn't hear the other's answer.

"Ah! P'Dean! I'm going to need to run some errands at home and I should be late, okay? Can you make it to the cabin by yourself?", Pharm asked. He knew that even without Dean's vision, he had ways of finding the path he had taken so many times before in the last few days, but still he wanted to imagine himself being useful there and being able to delay his return to his mother's obsessive power a little longer.

"Of course, you can take your time!", Dean tried to comfort him, assuring him that he could handle himself just fine, which made Pharm's lips curl down in a grimace of displeasure.

"Okay, so… I'll be going…", Pharm sighed before disappearing into thin air.

********

Dean felt almost back to his usual self. Of course, his body complained at points about over-rest and lack of training, but he was also happy to be able to take a few days off – even if he would have preferred to do so under other circumstances.

A few hours after returning to the cabin, eating a piece of the bread Pharm had made that morning, and trying to entertain himself by playing the little guitar Pharm had in the cabin, Dean began to worry about the other being late.

Since they'd met, they'd never spent so many hours apart and it made something turn on inside Dean. Anxiety seemed to gnaw at his bones, but he didn't know what to do until he heard a familiar scream calling his name. He would recognize that voice anywhere.

Dean jumped out of bed and hurled through the door like a hurricane. In an instinctive act, he spread his dragon wings and reached the night sky at its highest point, but that seemed to be useless as his vision was still blurred.

Once again he heard Pharm screaming for help and decided to guide himself by hearing and smell to find the boy. In the night air all smells seemed stronger, so it wasn't difficult to find the trail of the little wizard who had helped him so much. However, this wasn't the only scent he recognized.

When Dean reached the place where Pharm's screams were coming from, he slowly began to descend. When his feet touched the ground, he listened to try to discern where the wizard was.

Suddenly the air became thicker and drier. Dean could recognize that feeling anywhere. It was a dragon getting ready to use its fire breath to attack someone.

In that instant, several things happened at once: first, the forest lit up as the dragon launched its gigantic flame towards the sorcerer. Then Pharm screamed in panic, feeling frozen in place to do more than cast a protection enchantment that was too weak for the impact of the blow he was about to receive. Finally, Dean felt adrenaline filling his veins and his vision returning.

Dean quickly recognized what was about to happen and placed himself between Pharm and the dragon flame that was attacking him. Pharm recognized the strong arms hugging him and leaned into Dean's protective embrace.

"P'Deean… you came to save me!"

The Dragon's flame caught Dean's wings full and he faltered, nearly falling on top of Pharm and crushing him. But not wanting to harm the boy for whom he had sacrificed himself, he made a final effort to keep himself on his feet.

"I'm sorry… Pharm…", Dean said using one of his huge hands to caress the chubby cheek he could see for the first time since they'd met.

"P'Dean! Don't say that! You saved me! Don't apologize!", Pharm said wrapping his arms around Dean's body in a tight hug and only then realizing he had wings now… dragon wings.

"Phi D-Dean?", Pharm asked confused, pulling away from the protective embrace that until then had sheltered and protected him.

"Your Majesty? Is this you? We finally found you!", the dragon that moments before was in its animal form, had now metamorphosed into a human. Pharm took another step back, startled.

Did Dean feel his stomach churn in embarrassment? Fear? He couldn't describe the feeling. He just wanted to have back in his arms the little wizard who seemed to look at him so suspiciously right now.

"Don, don't come any closer!", Dean said in a rude tone that only served to scare Pharm even more. Dean gritted his teeth and spoke grudgingly to his ally. "Go away now!"

"But…", Don had hesitated. He knew he should obey the king, but he also knew he couldn't go home without him after Dean had been missing for so long.

"I. Said. Go. Away!", Dean repeated and Don didn't want to test what could happen to his poor ass if he pissed off the king even more, so he decided to just fly away from there, but not too much. He still kept an eye on the king after putting a few miles of distance between them.

Dean realized the dragon's ruse, but knew he couldn't ask more than that. He sighed heavily and tried to approach Pharm who startled and crouched down, covering his body with his arms.

"Pharm… please…", he pleaded in vain.

"Go away, don't come any closer!", Pharm said putting his arms out in front of him, his hands open like a shield to prevent Dean from getting any closer.

Seeing that reaction, the fear in Pharm's eyes, made Dean's heart burn. He put a hand to his chest, hoping that would ease the pain, but it only made the feeling worse, it felt like the organ was beating so hard and so fast that it would soon make its way up his throat and throw itself on the floor at Pharm's feet, begging for mercy.

"Pharm… it's me. I'm still the same Dean. Your P'Dean…", the Dragon in human form said, crouching down next to Pharm, but not getting too close. He wanted to show that he wasn't a threat to the boy.

As the words settled into Pharm's mind, something in his gaze changed and he tried to look at Dean directly. The first time since he'd realized that the foreigner warrior he'd saved was actually a dragon he'd shared his cabin with for nearly an entire month. It's true that Dean was injured most of the time, but Pharm knew full well that, had he wished, the dragon could have killed him in many different ways, at many unexpected times. Maybe... dragons weren't that bad...

But the last thought made Pharm cringe. He couldn't deny the fact that he had been attacked by a dragon when he was walking back along the forest path after he had left the Palace.

Seeming to read his thoughts, Dean answered the question that lingered in the wizard's mind. "I'm sorry about Don. He's usually calmer than that, but I think the search for the king must have worn out his brain cells and he ended up attacking you."

"King?" the question formed inside Pharm's head, but he didn't have time to give it some thought because Dean tried to get a little closer.

"Stop!", Pharm suddenly warned and his quick movements ended up causing him to lose his balance and he fell to the ground, landing on the hard ground with his butt. "Ouch…", he groaned instinctively.

Dean then gave up caution and went to Pharm, helping the boy to his feet. "Be careful… I won't be here to protect you anymore…", Dean whispered after he had made sure Pharm was okay and took a few steps back so as not to invade his personal space.

"Won't you?" Pharm asked confused. "What do you mean?", It was possible to feel a note of panic taking over his voice. His body suddenly tensed again.

"I'm the king, Pharm, and I've been away from home for a long time. I need to get back and that's what Don was doing. He must have thought that you were holding me captive and that attacking you would get my freedom…", Dean explained calmly, with regret, with fatigue.

"But…", Pharm was confused. He didn't quite know what to think. All his life he'd been led to believe that dragons were disgusting creatures and maybe some were even hotheads, but Dean, his P'Dean wasn't like that. He ran towards the dragon and stopped in front of him.

Dean looked taller now, as if releasing his natural essence made him bigger and more confident, even though his eyes were warm and serene.

Pharm reached for Dean and stopped halfway. The dragon closed his eyes, hoping that would give the boy some encouragement to keep going. It worked.

Pharm stretched out his slender fingers and cupped Dean's cheek, a smile spreading across the wizard's face as he realized the dragon was still the same. More confident now, his fingers began to trace every line on Dean's face and he couldn't resist a laugh. "It tickles."

"Sorry…", Pharm said, pulling his hand away quickly, but only to see Dean holding it with his giant hand.

Dean seized the moment and gently took both of Pharm's hands between his larger ones. However, he wasn't restricting Pharm's movements. With the slightest pressure Pharm would be able to free himself if he wanted to. They both stared at their clasped hands. They were so different, yet at the same time they seemed to complement each other, and that conclusion made a sweet warmth fill Pharm's heart.

"Do you really need to go?", Pharm whispered and only the night and the creatures that inhabit it were witnesses to that dialogue. Well, they, and a not-so-discreet dragon perched in a tree a few miles away. Dragons have great hearing, after all.

"Yes…", Dean said and the expression he saw taking over Pharm's face broke his heart into a thousand pieces. "But I'll leave that up to you...", Dean said, pulling away from Pharm to do something the wizard would never have believed possible if it hadn't happened before his eyes.

Dean assumed his true animal form: a massive dragon over 10 meters long, wings exceeding 15 meters in wingspan, scaly skin, and a big head that moved quickly and intelligently. It was frightening, but Pharm found it fascinating, especially the eyes that looked very similar to a cat's, just two small black slits in the midst of the liquid gold of the irises that took in everything around them.

Dean then got on his hind legs for more support with the help of his long tail and using one of his nails, he cut his own skin above the place where heart rested.

"What are you doing?! Stop now! Don't do it!", Pharm went to him, screaming and beating his legs, trying to avoid whatever was happening, but his protests seemed as light as flies to the dragon that continued its macabre ritual. He slashed the skin and drove the long claw into his chest. He spent a few seconds there and then withdrew the nail with something shiny on the tip. Soon Dean was back to his human form, only his dragon wings – which shrunk a little in this form – indicating he was something other than human. Pharm mentally chuckled to himself because he had always suspected that Dean was not just a foreigner warrior, but only now after having the truth revealed did he realize how perfectly the pieces fit together. By the way, Dean didn't look hurt either and approached him without a hitch, holding the glowing thing in one hand.

"What is this?", Pharm asked, unable to take his eyes off the thing.

"It's a piece of my heart.", Dean said as if it was the most natural thing in the world – and maybe it was, for dragons. Pharm decided to make a mental note to study them more in the future. "If you want to see me again, just hold it and sincerely wish that I will appear in front of you.", Dean explained, placing the object in Pharm's hands, who only now could identify that it was a ruby.

"Is it like an amulet?", Pharm asked as he studied the stone.

"Yes, I guess you call it like this!", Dean smiled and once again his dimples appeared, which made it impossible for Pharm to resist doing the same.

After a few seconds, Dean sighed and finally said: "I'm going now, Pharm. Take care…".

Pharm didn't know what to say. Saying "goodbye" seemed silly, but saying nothing also made him shiver. The more time passed, the further the dragon moved away from the wizard until the latter came out screaming and running towards the first.

"Wait! P'Dean, please wait!"

The action surprised Dean who turned to see what Pharm wanted from him.

"What is it, my good boy?", the affectionate expression made Pharm blush, but he didn't lose the courage to do what he wanted. He rose on tiptoe, wrapped his arms around Dean's neck, causing the taller one to lean forward, and whispered "We'll see each other again!" Dean's eyes widened and he was about to thank him for the promise when Pharm took him by surprise once again saying "Can I kiss you? I really want to kiss you!"

Dean didn't know how to react at first, but when the impact of the request managed to sink into his brain, he couldn't resist biting his lip in anticipation and saying, "Who taught you to say those things?"

Pharm shrugged and approached Dean who soon took his full lips on his. It was then that it all made sense to Pharm: the dream he'd had several nights ago was not just a dream, but a premonition. Dean kissed exactly like the person in his dream had done, but the feeling was even better. The only problem was that at one point they ran out of breath and had to separate.

"I need to go now, Pharm.", Dean said, resting his hand on the other's narrow waist and giving it a gentle squeeze that sent an electrifying wave up Pharm's back.

"It's okay. Please take care of yourself.", Pharm tried to be strong and smile.

"Always. You too, okay? Or I'll have to come back and take care of you myself!", were Dean's last words before spreading his dragon wings and flying away as Pharm felt his legs giving out and he fell on the ground again.

One of the rules for wizards was never to come in contact with dragons and he knew he would probably never have the chance to see his P'Dean again. The boy cried in the dark night until he lost consciousness.