There Be Dragons

by Camy


The bell finally rang, and as I leapt to my feet I grinned at the foresight I'd had to sit at the back, next to the door.

"Wait!" Mister Rombald bellowed, stopping thirty of us in our tracks. "Before you all disappear off for the long weekend I want to make one thing quite clear," he continued, his beady eyes roving around the room. "I will brook no excuses on Monday morning for unfinished homework." He paused and took a breath as Simpkins rolled his eyes and grinned at me. "I want no 'I was away with my family and forgot, sir,' no 'I think I left it on the bus, sir,' in fact I want no excuses at all. Do you understand?"

"Yes sir," we all answered in a drone, someone trying a descant.

"Good!" he smiled, "then off you go, and have a good we ...." I didn't hear the rest of what he said as I was halfway down the corridor to the lockers. Trying to remember what books I needed for what homework was the least of my concern as I spun the combination and opened my locker to the distinct smell of old socks. Wrinkling my nose I shoveled my games kit to one side and found my physics book. It was suspiciously damp which wasn't surprising as it had been under my rugger shirt, and the last game we'd played had ended in a thunderstorm.

Thunderstorm! That was it! I stood, lost in the moment as several hundred others opened and closed their lockers in preparation for the weekend ahead. If I could somehow wangle the dénouement to include a thunderstorm, that would be magnificent. Dragons and lightning. Excellent!

"You okay?" A hand briefly brushed down my arm before being withdrawn. I turned and looked into Richard's eyes, both of us smiling shyly. I nodded.

"Yeah," I said, "sorry, I was miles away." He snorted.

"I'll say," he said, "your NaNo thing is it?" I nodded, wanting to touch him, wanting to pull him into a hug that might end up being a little less than classically manly. Little did he know that one of my characters -- my hero -- was based on him. It had crossed my mind that if I ever actually got the story finished and it was good enough, I might, just might, let him read it. Not that I'd ever tell him he was the hero. Oh, no. Richard wasn't like that. He'd have thought it odd. He was my best friend, but not like me by a long shot. Though in my head I often imagined him as more: a lot more ... I had the weirdest dreams.

"There you go again," he said, "off in a reverie, or whatever it was Mister Sims said."

"Yeah, reverie sounds about right," I said, smiling. "Anyway, I'll be back on the first of December." I flexed my muscles like a paltry version of Schwarzenegger. "Back new and refreshed and a novel richer!"

"Does that mean you'll be hidden in your room all weekend, tippy typing away like the utter loon you are?"

"Mmm," I said, shoving my physics book into my backpack and deciding against removing my games kit with Richard standing there. I certainly didn't want him to think I was some sort of unhygienic freak. I was just about to close my locker when he coughed politely.

"Umm, Seb?"

Mmm?" I paused, waiting for him to continue.

"You should take your games stuff home, mate. It smells awful. Almost as bad as mine did." He smiled to take the slight out of his words as I flushed with embarrassment.

"Yeah, you're right" I said, pulling out an armful of damp rank kit and chucking it on top of the books in my backpack. Then I zipped it closed and he patted me on the arm.

"See, Seb, the training isn't that hard and it's worth it, 'cause one day you'll make a great slave!"

"Your slave, I suppose?" I said, playing along.

"Of course my slave. You don't think I'd let anyone else get their hands on you, do you?" I gawped at him, unsure of quite what he was saying. It felt like there were undercurrents that I wasn't sure I reading right. Then he winked. "Seb the Slave sounds good, don't you think?"

I closed my mouth and laughed. "Yeah, right, and just what would you have me do, master?" I slammed the locker, twirling the combination lock just for show.

"Oh, I don't know, but I'm sure I'd come up with a few good ideas. Walk with me to my bus?"

"Yes master," I said, and giggling we walked towards the exit, aware that we were the last two to leave.


I thundered in through the door, dropped my bag and started upstairs. I had one day left: one day to go before the end of the month, the end of the NaNo competition, and I was still two thousand words shy of finishing.

"And just where do you think you are going young man?" My mother's voice floated up the stairs and wiggled its way into my mind which had already started to focus on the characters in my story. I came to a halt on the last stair and turned around.

"Upstairs, Mum," I said, wondering how on earth I was going to rescue David, Andrew and Mary from Equella the Dragon. He was a really fierce dragon, and I was proud of how his scales glistened in the sunlight, even though there wasn't a lot of sunlight in a deep dank cave in the mountain side. "I was ...."

"Did you hear what I said?" she asked. I found that I'd sat down on the landing, and brought my mind back to the here and now.

"Sorry, Mum, I was miles away," I said. Perhaps Equella could teleport out of the cave?

"Your boyfriend phoned, Sebastian. He wants you to call him back."

"Did he, mum?" I said, then came to a screeching halt as my brain caught up with my mouth.

"I knew it!" my mother said, though for the life of me I couldn't work out her tone. "Now, no nonsense, down to the kitchen and have some tea."

"Yes, mum. I'm just going to the loo," I said, needing more than a little space to deal with my suddenly raging stomach ache.

I plodded upstairs and into the bathroom, all thought of David, Andrew, Mary and the dragon evaporating.

With a feeling of dread I walked back downstairs.

My dad had died when I was ten, seven years ago, and though I missed him and still remembered him quite well, my memory of him was fading as the days went by. He was far removed from my reality, now, like photographs of old family members you knew, but not well. As I waked into the kitchen I wondered how he would have reacted if he'd still been alive. Anyway, my mother had it all wrong. I had a boyfriend, yes. But he was a boy and a friend. It was just the way I thought of him that caused me grief.

Even as I thought it I knew it was a lie. Richard was my best friend, and if I had the chance I knew I would like to take our friendship elsewhere. But I honestly didn't know what he thought of me, or even if he was ....

I stopped myself before I thought of the word. I was seventeen, and seventeen year olds didn't know what they were. That was the fact of the matter: the reality. I knew because I had read it on the internet. Richard was seventeen, too. And I'd seen him out with girls on lots of occasions. Just because my brain had made a slip didn't mean what my mother had taken it to mean. Now all I had to do was persuade her of that. Persuade her that she'd have lots of little grandchildren if I had anything to do with it.

"Mum," I began as I slid into my chair behind the table, "you've got the wrong end of the stick, I think." She raised her eyebrows, but said nothing, just put a plate of assorted fairy cakes on the table and began pouring the tea. I looked at the little sponge cakes with their tops cut off, cut in half and placed back into the icing like wings, then I looked at her. She was watching me, a small mischievous smile playing across her lips.

"MUM!" I said, "what on earth do you think I am?" She frowned, her lips still twitching.

"Think you are? I thought you liked fairy cakes, Sebastian," she said. "I made them the last time Richard was here and I distinctly remember you both seemed very fond of them."

"Yes, they're very nice," I said taking one and savagely biting its wings off. I chewed for a moment and took a sip of the scalding tea. "But that's not what this is about, is it." I thought for a second, re-arranging what I had been going to say. "Richard is my friend, Mum. My best friend. And he's a boy. So he's my boy friend." She nodded.

"Yes. Well?"

"Well. About what you said when I came in."

"What was that, dear?"

I sighed. "You said, 'your boyfriend's phoned', and I said 'did he', and then you said, 'I knew it,' and sounded kind of sad. Then you insisted I come down for tea." She looked at me, twirling a teaspoon around her fingers, her expression blank.

"Yes, well?" she said as I blew over the tea and took another sip.

"Well if you think he's my boyfriend, Mum, then you're wrong. I mean he is my boy friend, but he's not my boyfriend." I blinked trying to remember a phrase our English teacher had used as my mother looked at me, the spoon now almost a blur.

"Methinks he protesteth too much," my mother said using the very phrase I'd been trying to remember, then burst into laughter, presumably at the sight of me blushing. I continued digging my grave.

"I was thinking of my story, Mum. My NaNo story. I was trying to work out how to end it all, and thinking about Equella's scales and how they'd glisten in the sunlight, and then I realised they were all in a cave and ...." I petered off as my mother stopped laughing, nodded sagely, and then burst into a fit of giggles.

"MUM!" I was getting cross. It was obvious that she'd made up her mind that I was ... well, that I was, and it .... It was suddenly impossible to breathe. I'd never had a panic attack before, and I thought I was going to die.

My mother shot around the table and wrapped her arms around me, her calming "There, there, Sebastians" and the smell of her, of her favourite perfume, soothing. I began crying. I couldn't help it. I tried to stop it, but the hiccups came first followed by floods of tears. I hadn't had a good cry since our dog had died when I was twelve, and after the first few seconds of awful, awful embarrassment, I let go, which was wonderfully cathartic. I was wailing at the unfairness of it all -- though what in particular was unfair I had no idea -- when into the middle of the scene Richard came in. He smiled at my mother, walked around behind me and the arms that held me changed. From female to male, and the light floral fragrance changed too as my nose picked up a distinctly masculine scent. A scent that I knew well. A scent that I'd dreamt of on many more than one occasion.

"Sebastian, Sebastian," he whispered in my ear, "let it all out, let it all out," and I did. I watched my mother grab her coat and, smiling at us, leave the room. A few seconds later the front door opened and closed. We were on our own.

"I don't understand," I said a few minutes later once I'd recovered and washed my face. "I just don't understand." We were sitting opposite each other and Richard had made a fresh pot of tea and was examining one of the fairy cakes with an expression of glee. He looked across at me and I saw what I'd always wanted to see: a look of profound and gentle love. I gulped, knowing he was seeing the same thing.

"Do you remember when we first met, Seb?" he asked, smiling. I grinned.

"Yes, of course I do. The first day of the lower fifth. You came into English and that bastard Reigns tripped you up."

"Mmm, and you rushed over and helped me to my feet, then asked your desk partner to move so we could share."

I nodded, smiling at the memory. "Yes, but why?"

"Because ever since then I've loved you." he said. "Truly, madly, deeply." I sniffed back a new set of tears that I was sure wanted to embarrass me.

"You have?"

"I have."

"But I don't understand. When I came in earlier ... Mum and tea and ... then you arrived. I don't ...."

"She's always known," Richard said. "She told me that she saw it the first time we were together."

"She did?"

"Mmm, yes. And this was her plan, not mine. She knew how hung up you were."

"I was, I mean, she did?"

"Mmm," he said, leaning across the table. "I hope you're not still hung up, are you Seb?" I shook my head, and for the first time our lips touched and Equella roared with delight.


'There be Dragons' by Camy

This is one of several short stories written during the mad month of November 2008, as part of my NaNoWriMo.

Dedicated to R, and with many thanks to C.
Any mistakes are mine, and mine alone.


Feedback would really be appreciated! you can email me at: Camy[at]

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