“Get up!” He shook the dragon what seemed like dozenth time. The peach monster was always up way before him on every single workday to take the shower he could hear all the way to his own flat over the corridor, sometimes being his alarm clock, and now he couldn’t be bothered when the sun was shining through tree tops? “Get up, I say! You hear me?” He pulled the jacket away from his face and realized the shoulder muscles beneath his hands were stiff.
He tossed the jacket towards his bags where it landed in a heap. Like touching a corpse, he thought with stone settling in his stomach. He turned Accark over, avoiding from bending his petrified limbs. Accark’s eyes were open wide and looked straight at him the moment he came in view, but his body remained stiff. “The heck is going on?” He demanded, massaging through his paws, taking in the state of his muscles. When he didn’t answer, desperately trying to close his eyes instead, he moved one hand on his wings and squeezed them too. They were in the same state as Accark’s hands. Gale didn’t know how to describe this.
“I-it hap-hap-happens!” Accark managed through clattering teeth. “I-I ne-e-ed t-t-time t-t-to w-warm up.”
Gale didn’t bother to hide how relieved he was hearing this and he slumped over him, pressing his forehead against Accark’s for a long moment. The dragon was just being dragon! The morning sun hadn’t had time to warm him up yet. His eyes fell on the stones he’d been sleeping on and realized his mistake. They’d drained his body’s warmth throughout the night and now his body was simply hibernating.
“Yo-you’re not mad?” Accark whispered.
“No.” Gale assured him. He was too happy he was simply experiencing fatigue instead of all the scenarios running past his mind to be angry at him.
Instead, he glanced back at the dead fireplace and after retrieving the jacket, he wrapped him up like a cocoon, as much as the jacket allowed, and began building up the fire again. He would have preferred not to make any in the morning, but he understood that because of his peachy blushed white fur it would take forever to warm up naturally on gray stones that most likely captured the warmth only by evenings, so he had to do it. Maybe that’s why he’d never encountered any northern dragons that looked light in color like Accark? Why did he look like that anyway? His wings were mesh of rainbow, his mismatched black and gray feathers among his peachy, pinks and white feathers were all shining like gems.
When the fire was big enough to offer measurable amount of warmth, he returned to the cocoon, pulled him up from the ground and set him as close as he could . His tail had coiled up around his legs and the thin fabric of his trousers, which reminded him he still had to either toss dragon’s clothes away or somehow get them wearable again. How had it happen that he was doing all this care-taking after they left when the dragon was the one who’d offered him to pay for all his expenses? Yet here he was, his cocooned back huddled against his chest while he wiggled and fanned his toes against the heat.
“Are you not northern dragon?” He decided they weren’t flying any time soon, so he changed his position, letting Accark use him as his chair.
“I am.” He said, purring from the simple joy of having warmth. It never ceased to amaze him how the dragon could find such happiness from the simplest things in life. He knew, how tasty the bun would be after long time of starving, and the memory scared him slightly, but to still enjoy something without being deprived of it previously was strangely warming to his heart.
“I thought you guys were immune to cold?” He observed his tail uncoil and join the toes, pressing the scales wide open, then hard against the bone, then wide again. As if all that clattering had suddenly turned into one fierce and mighty dagger before turned back into children’s toy.
“No, we like our warmth.” Accark said, concentrating on his tail. Gale rubbed his shoulders to get the warmth moving beneath his fur. At least he was talking normal again. “We build our castles near mountains that have the stones that keep the warmth longest. Mine is small, I bought it long time ago after I…” he trailed off, but squared his shoulders then beneath his touch and his voice cracked as he admitted. “I didn’t buy it. It was gift from my brother-in-law. I think Salone asked him when I… I haven’t been there for several years, I’m not sure what it is like there right now.”
Place with memories and too close to his family, Gale gathered from what he left unsaid. He knew that feeling well, the need to be as far away from his folks as he possibly could. Thus the reason he was heading north instead of south. He hadn’t been to north yet while the rest of Hatangy had become his home at one point or another. He wondered over the possibilities what could’ve happened that had caused him to leave, he could see from far how Accark sought contact with other dragons, sought to belong anywhere or to anyone, who would accept him. He bit his lower lip not to ask about why he hadn’t joined any nests yet.
“Was it because you’re not dark furred as they are?” He chose to ask instead.
“What? Oh no, not at all!” He pulled away, shedding the jacket and waved his wings wider, hiding the warmth of fire from him. “We are not bound to the color we are born with. We change our color with what we eat when we get bored with the old one, but it’s quite tiresome to completely change the fur.”
“So you have this peach color because…”
“Fruits, but I miss fish. Kiley, that’s the wine red dragon, she always eats bugs in her lunch, she gets them from the marketplace and Berta never misses a chance to enjoy the brathan roots.”
“You ate fish?” He wondered what he’d originally looked like. As dark as night? Or like magpie, like the feathers on his wings? Maybe he would look like that dragon, who had bought the egg? He’d never got a good look at the bastard, but he remembered clearly the colors of his hands and the dark nails pointing at his father.
“I love fish. But you’ve seen the market – there’s hardly any fresh available and I can’t eat the salted stuff.”
He nodded. It was nasty surprise when he’d first moved there, being himself from seaside city.
“What makes you northern then?”
He felt dragon shrug against his chest. “Place of birth? We can freeze water – maybe that?”
He snorted. Yeah, maybe that. “How can you freeze water if you get frostbite from sleeping on the ground?”
Accark turned his head enough to see him eye to eye. “How do you clean water? By melting into one?” He asked back, but he didn’t sound offended. “I have you know, the warmer I am and the water I am to freeze, the better the results of freezing.” He declared confidently. He flopped over when Gale suddenly stood to get his water flask. He took it to the bond, filled it, cleaned the water in it out of habit and returned the flask to the dragon.
He blinked back at him, his confidence melting.
He hesitated at first, but took the flask and Gale helped him up. He walked to the fire, standing very close for a minute or so and then turned around, held the flask out and with a soft gush of breath froze it all, covering the outside of the metal with thin layer of ice. Then he returned the flask to Gale and pulled the jacket back over his shoulders.
It felt cold against his fingers. He unscrewed the cork and peaked inside – solid through and through.
He let out a laugh. The ice in the flask was so crystal clear, if he held it right, the sun shined into it and he could see the bottom without problem.
“Now unfreeze it.” He nudged Accark with it, but the dragon pointedly looked away.
“It’s our drinking water, unfreeze it, please!” Gale snapped.
He took it and hid the entire thing in his pouch under his chin, pulling very ugly face out of Gale.
“You’re buying me a new one at the next stop!” he announced.
“You wanted it unfrozen, so I’m melting it up, alright?”
“By keeping it in your pouch?”
“I’m warming it. Or do you know any other way to unfreeze water?”
“For pity’s sake!” He grabbed his neck before Accark could protest, pushed his finger into his pouch, which was surprisingly warm and dry and pulled out the flask. He let go of him and tossed it straight into the fire. The water melted quickly in the hot coal, drizzling out of the flask while he packed their small camp, included Accark’s clothes which ended up in his bag, ignoring Accark himself and by the time the bottle was empty again, all drained out, they were ready to go. He nudged Accark to stop glaring and get up. He took the flask, which had cooled enough to be touched, got them new water from the bond, and then took off, waiting only seconds for Accark to follow or to be left behind. His hand, where Accark had left his teeth marks had began hurting again and he had lost all his good mood.