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Dragon Fire

Children's Story
Dominic Dragon lived in a cave in the Welsh hills. He lived alone, and rarely ventured out of his cave, except when he was hungry or wanted some fun. Both of those events revolved around fire.

When Dominic was hungry he would make for the valleys, and prowl until he found some likely prey for food. He was partial to roast lamb even without any mint sauce, and he quite enjoyed the odd baked cat. But his favourite meal was roast human.

Part of the enjoyment was the fun to be had from chasing humans, with fire streaming from his mouth and nostrils. They were all terrified of Dominic, and even the bravest of them fled immediately the first faint puff of smoke appeared.

Sometimes they'd collect a whole gang of people together armed with guns and rifles, spears and pitch forks, to hunt Dominic, and that was even more fun, for he'd pretend to be frightened and lead them halfway up the mountain. Then, when he was well above them and they were struggling to breathe, he'd turn, take a huge breath and thrust it out in their direction. Flames would pour from him, scorching anything in their path, and the humans would shriek and scream and run all over the place trying to escape. Dominic would laugh so much his fire would inevitably dry up, but he was nearly always fortunate enough to roast two or three humans first, and that made a tasty meal. The big advantage of being a fire-breathing dragon was that your meals always came ready cooked.

But there were disadvantages too. Most of the time, Dominic was lonely. He had never in his life spoken to anyone or anything else, but had always been entirely on his own. And although his best fun was when people ran away and he had to aim his breath so that he caught them squarely in his flames and roasted them from top to bottom in one go, a tiny, tiny part of him didn't much like what he was doing. But he had to eat, and he knew no other way of feeding himself.

Sadly, as he grew older Dominic became more and more bad tempered and irascible. And the more irritable he grew, so his feeding times became less fun and more of a necessity. Sometimes, as he lay in wait for a juicy human (the young ones were best) he couldn't help but notice how happy they seemed together. They talked to each other and laughed together and often they touched each other too.

Dominic had never, ever been touched. When he had hatched from his egg, there were no other dragons in sight, so as soon as his legs were strong enough he had toddled off and found his cave where he had lived alone ever since. He wondered what it felt like to be touched. The humans seem to enjoy it, and he wondered how he would feel if somebody stroked his rough, scaly skin.

One day, when he was very, very old, Dominic had a vision. Well, he thought afterwards it must have been a vision, but at the time he wasn't sure whether or not it was real. He saw another dragon flying across the sky. He'd never seen another dragon before, but he'd looked at himself in the surface of the stream and knew what he looked like. This dragon looked just like him, except that it was shimmering and radiant and not green, but silver.

Dominic cried out to the dragon, "Wait! Stop! Who are you? Where are you going?"

The silver dragon didn't stop, but it hovered over Dominic. And Dominic felt something beaming towards him. He couldn't identify it at the time, for he'd never experienced love before, but he felt so warm inside and so wonderful that he knew he wanted more of this feeling.

Dominic didn't know whether or not the silver dragon opened its mouth, but he heard some words in his head just the same. "What do you want, Dominic?" the silver dragon seemed to be saying.

"I ... it's that feeling," stuttered Dominic. "I want to feel it again. In fact," he added in some amazement, "I want to feel it all the time."

The silver dragon seemed to be laughing gently. "Oh Dominic! You don't know what you're asking. You could feel love all the time, but you would be completely different. You'd lose your fire, and you'd lose your scales. You would no longer be able to run, you'd no longer be able to chase people. Is that what you really want?"

Dominic felt confused and unsure. "How would I eat?" he asked, "if I had no fire and I couldn't run?"

But all the silver dragon would say was, "That wouldn't be a problem."

Dominic felt more confused than ever, and for the first time in his life he felt really frightened. Frightened of leaving behind all that he'd ever known, for - he scarcely knew what! Then he remembered the wonderful feeling, and a great "Yes!" was dragged from his inner being and threw itself out of his mouth.

When he woke up, Dominic scarcely recognised himself. He had shrunk. He was now only about six inches high. His skin was different too. It was still green, but his scales had disappeared and he had become soft and furry. He rather liked it. But best of all, he was cuddled in the arms of a little girl. She was stroking him all over and kissing him, and whispering in his ear, "I do love you, Dominic!"

Dominic longed to answer back and tell her how happy he was with this huge change in his being, but he discovered he could no longer speak. But somehow or other, it didn't seem to matter. For the first time in his life, Dominic was completely, ecstatically, contented. After a while, he wasn't sure whether or not he'd dreamed his previous existence as a real, live dragon, but he was absolutely certain about one thing. Dominic knew that the rest of his life spent as a well-loved toy was exactly what he wanted.
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