Snow walked cheerfully through town in the new dress Barnum had given her as an anniversary gift. Every noise was music and every bit of her being felt at peace until an elderly woman stepped on her dress and ripped it. Just like that the fiery temper that mostly rested deep within her now burst out like a volcano “what the hell old woman!” she yelled “it was an accident deary”
“senile old ladies shouldn’t be walking by themselves!”
“You best respect your elders girl” she said with cut eyes and a menacing tone. Snow scoffed “you ripped my new dress and I owe you no respect just because you are old and withered!” the old lady said a few words in a language Snow didn’t know “you don’t use your voice wisely little brat. People who don’t know how to use somthing shouldn’t have it.” Snow went to retort and found she couldn’t speak. The elderly woman cackled harder and harder as panic settled into Snow. She screamed, saying random words just to try but nothing would come out.
“I know yer a dragon girl but my magic is centuries old. I’m withered you know” she said then began cackling again as she walked away from Snow and seemed to vanish into the crowd.
Snow began to panic, her heart beating so fast she thought it might explode. She started crying and shifted, taking to the sky to get to Barnum. She nearly crashed when she landed in front of their cave and shifted on the run. Barnum could here her coming and came to greet her, his smile quickly dissolving when he saw her tear streaked face. “Baby what happened?” He asked as he grabbed her shoulders.
She tried to speak and cried even harder when nothing came out but air. She touched her throat and he just looked at her, concerned and confused. She pushed away from him and ran into the kitchen, ripping the drawers open until she found a pen. She then ran to their room, Barnum close behind and pulled the drawers open to his desk until she found a piece of paper. ‘I yelled at someone for stepping on my dress and she cursed me.’ She wrote out and held it up for him to see.
“What?” His eyes clouded over with anger.
She slapped the piece of paper back down. ‘I just lost my temper, I didn’t mean it.’ More tears fell down her face and he pulled her tightly against him, his hand stroking her hair.
“Shh, it’s okay baby, we’ll fix this.” She tried to pull back to write, but he knew she wanted to know how and said, “We’ll talk to Irim, he’ll know what to do. Throwing around curses like that just because someone made you mad is stupid and dangerous.”
She pressed the paper against his chest and wrote, ‘I shouldn’t have yelled, it’s all my fault.’
“It is not your fault. I know we’ve been working on your temper because you shouldn’t rise to anger so quickly but what this woman did was worse than just yelling. You don’t deserve to have your voice taken away Snow and I’m getting it back. Once you have it Irim and I will have a thing or two to say to her” she cried into his chest again, gripping him tightly. “maybe Ariel can mend your dress too. She’s great at sewing” Barnum whispered encouragingly. The thought made her happy yet sad at the same time. It still was frustrating to Snow she wasn’t as good at being a woman as her sisters. She had tried and tried to be good at even one thing women were supposed to be good at and nothing, no matter the effort she put into it. She would always be clumsy, foul tempered Snow.
He lifted her into his arms and carried her out of the cave, not wanting her flying in such a sad state. He didn’t want her crashing and hurting herself. He shifted shape once he was out in the open and his powerful wings pulled him skyward, kicking up rocks and dust as he pushed from the ground. She just sat cradled in his clawed hands, her heart aching more with every second she could not speak. More tears slipped down her face, only to be carried away by the wind whipping around her. She would do anything to get her voice back.
Barnum was in a rage over his mate’s suffering, but had not let on just how angry he really was. It angered him even more that he was not nearly powerful enough to break such a powerful curse. He knew he could count on Irim though, he had spent centuries researching, memorizing and perfecting different spells and concoctions. There were no limits to his abilities it seemed and he even impressed those who were older than him with his physical and mental prowess. If anyone could get Snow’s voice back, it was Irim and he would do it with the anger of a rabid dog since an attack had been launched on his family.
Barnum landed and shifted smoothly, still carrying his wife as they walked up to the entrance of Ariel and Irims home. Ariel quickly answered, at first with joy to see them but that joy drained out of her when she saw how upset her sister was “what’s wrong?”
“Is Irim home so I can explain it to him too?”
“Yes, he’s just inside playing with Amaranthi.” Barnum hurried in, finally setting down his mate so Ariel could hug her. Irim and Aranthis laughter filled the home until he saw their guests and how obviously angry Barnum was “what’s the matter?” Irim asked as he set down his daughter. “A woman ripped Snows dress and Snow lost her temper. The old woman cursed her and now she can’t speak. It’s too powerful for me to handle but I knew if anybody could fix this it would be you” Irims face grew serious “Amaranthi the adults have grown up things to deal with. Go play in your room”
“Okay dad, love you”
“Love you too princess” Amaranthi ran off and Irim studied Snow, taking her face in his hands as he stared at her silently. “Hm”
“Hm?” Barnum asked, impatient for his wife to spak again “I was just feeling the power of her curse. This old woman is powerful. It pisses me off when the powerful use their gifts so carelessly. The more power you have the more vital it becomes you don’t use it unless you have to. To go cursing people for small spats is unforgivable but I can make this right. Excuse me a few moments Snow” he said then glanced at Barnum “come with me, you will be my assistant.”
As the men walked away Ariel hugged her sister again “I’m sorry Snow” Snow just looked at the ground with the most depressed look Ariel had ever seen on her face. She sighed and grabbed her sisters hand “Irim actually made somthing for you last week. We were going to wait until your birthday but I want to give it to you now. I know he wont mind.” Snow allowed her sister to guide her to the bedroom where she opened a small wooden box, producing a large glass bottle filled with light blue liquid. Snows sad face became confused and Ariel explained “He overheard you complaining about your frizzy hair the last time we came for a visit and made that for you. He says it will make your hair just as smooth as mine. I know it doesn’t replace a voice but Irim will fix that too. I know he will.”
Snow’s lip quivered and she started crying as she took the bottle and looked at it. She didn’t deserve to have a sister like Ariel. “It’s okay Snow, don’t cry.” Ariel hugged her and rubbed her back. “Here, let’s put some in your hair.” She pulled back and took the bottle. “Turn around.” Snow did as Ariel told her and Ariel popped the bottle open and poured some into her hand, working it into Snow’s hair. “Just let it sit in you hair all day then rinse it out before bed.” She put the lid back on the bottle then sat it down and grabbed a ponytail holder off the top of her chest of drawers. She braided Snow’s hair then turned her around. “There, now you’ll have the hair you always wanted.”
Snow wanted very much to thank Ariel, but all she could do was cry. She wiped at her face and Ariel gave her a warm smile. “Come on, let me fix your dress while we wait for the guys.” Snow just nodded and let Ariel pull her away.
Barnum stood there in silence as Irim looked through a book. He wasn’t sure what to do with himself so he walked around the study, looking at all the tubes and concoctions Irim has sitting around. He also had some really strange looking devices. “Don’t touch those, you could very easily tear apart the fabric of space and time.” Irim suddenly said, making him jump.
“No, I was just messing with you. Ah, here it is.”
He seemed to be concentrating on the book so Barnum just stayed right where he was and waited eagerly for Irim to fix Snow. Ariel finished repairing Snow’s dress “see, good as new” she looked up at her sister with a smile. Snow hugged her again, always unbelieving of Ariel’s kindness. Snow had spent so much of their childhood trying to make sure Ariel was miserable and all it took was an I’m sorry for them to be sisters. If she had had her way from the very beginning little Ariel wouldn’t have made it past being a baby. She had unjustly blamed her sister for the loss of their mother and it was a fact she had only come to fully realize after Barnum came into her life.
Snow only let her sister go when Irim and Barnum came back out. She walked over to Irim who rested his hands on her throat and began speaking in that same language the old lady used. Snow still couldn’t understand it but she could tell it was the same. As Snow stood still and listened she realized how big and strong Irims hands were. It was somthing you couldn’t help but notice with his hands on your neck. If he wasn’t such a good dragon he could easily kill her instead of help her, had probably wanted to a few times with how protective he was of Ariel. Nobody outside of the family could have gotten away with some of the crap she pulled on Ariel after she and Irim had become mated.
As painlessly and quick as she had been cursed Irim removed his hands from her neck and returned to English commanding “speak Snow”
“Okay” she responded and her eyes grew wide “O my god! Irim!” she hugged him then ran to her husband “Oh I was so scared!” As Snow and Barnum exchanged affections Irim walked over to Ariel, that same adoring look in his eyes he always had when looking at her. Irim took her hand and kissed it before pulling her out of her seat to wrap his arms around her.
“Thank you Irim.” Ariel said softly and he kissed her forehead.
“You know I would do anything for your family.”
“So what now?” Barnum asked.
“I would like to set out on a search for this woman as soon as possible. I would not want her cursing anyone else who she takes offense too.” Irim answered.
“But I don’t even know where she went.” Snow said. “She was pretty quick walking away.”
“You just take me to where you last saw her and I can track her no matter the magic she uses to cover her tracks. Someone who throws their magic around like that does not deserve to carry such power. Who knows how many she has cursed.”
“You all shouldn’t fly on empty stomachs. Let me at least make some PBJ’s” Ariel said and Irim nodded. “I’ll help Ariel” Snow said, surprising her “Okay, thanks” In the kitchen Ariel said “I’ll make Irims first since his is special”
“He likes honey added”
“Oh, sounds like it might be good. I’ll try that too” They finished the sandwiches then ate them in the living room. Just before leaving Irim hugged his wife and daughter tightly before shifting with Snow and Barnum. “will dad be back home today?” Amaranthi asked her mother as they watched the three fly off “I don’t know but he’ll be back as soon as he can”
“How come we can’t go?”
“Same reason we can never go when dad takes care of things like this. You’re too young just yet and I need to stay with you”
“Can I have another sandwich?”
“sure, come on” They flew quickly through the sky, Snow leading with the two men close behind. They landed a little outside of town in a large meadow, causing all the animals to flee even though they cared not for coming after them. “very far from here Snow?” Irims voice still a bit deeper from being in dragon form. “No, not at all. I was almost out and ready to fly home when she stepped on my dress.” She took them to where the curse had been cast on her and Irim seemed to concentrate a few moments before taking off at a gait.
Snow and Barnum kept up, Barnum letting a little more of how furious he was with this woman show.
“She used magic here.” Irim said as he came to a stop. “Tried covering her tracks by putting up a false trail.” He smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “She went this way.”
Both Barnum and Snow had to admit to themselves that he looked scary as he followed the woman’s trail like a bloodhound. He was determined, blocking out everything else. Snow grabbed Barnum’s hand and he brought her fingers to his lips. “You okay?”
“Yeah, what if she tries cursing us?”
“You know Irim won’t let that happen. He is far more powerful than any witch.”
He tugged her closer and lifted her into his arms mid stride. “Stop looking so down Snow.”
“I’m causing so much trouble for everyone.”
“This is no trouble Snow.” Irim suddenly said. “Her overreaction to your temper was unwarranted.”
“See, everything’s going to be just fine.” Barnum added and kissed her cheek.
“she lives pretty far out” Snow said as they were now entering woods “A lot of witches who act like this one choose to live outside of town. Makes it harder for people she wrongs to find her”
“Knowing everything about everything as usual” Snow said lightly. He smiled “I live for Ariel, my children and then knowledge. Before Ariel all I ever wanted was to learn and get better”
“Might be a weird time but thank you for the stuff for my hair”
“I noticed Ariel went ahead and gave it to you. You’ll love your hair. I’m confident it will work just how I wanted it to”
“Oh so thats what’s in your hair. I smelled somthing different”
“yeah, Ariel said it was supposed to be for my birthday but she thought I needed cheering up” Irim spoke again “I’m glad she thought of it. We’ll do somthing else for your birthday”
“You two are really the best”
“you’ve always meant a lot to Ariel. I am glad you two get along so well now.” Snow looked down and Barnum kissed her head. “aha” he said and Barnum asked “what?”
“she’s even hidden her home. Good, but not good enough” He said one word in the ancient dragon language and her home came into view “woah” Snow said in a gasp. Barnum smiled “amazing again brother” He walked up to her home, deciding to give her the curtosey of a knock. She wung the door open angrily “how did” she started then backed up slightly, knowing this was the High Dragon Irim “I..Irim”
“You cursed a family member of mine today” he said as he invited himself in “BU but she yelled at me”
“You curse people for yelling? Just how careless are you?”
“What do you plan to do?”
“You aren’t responsible enough to have your power so I’m here to take it away. Thats all the punishment you’ll get if you own up to others you’ve cursed so I can mend them”
“I don’t know them all.” Irim shook his head, obviously disgusted by this woman “There are good witches out there who get horrible names because of witches like you”
“No excuses, if you had harmed her I would be here to kill you.” He snapped and Snow swore she saw smoke curl from his nose and mouth and his voice took on a deep grumble.
She took another step back and whispered something, her finger pointing toward him. Her spell had no effect on him and both Snow and Barnum could see the panic in her eyes. Irim growled then began to speak in dragon tongue. His hands moved as his voice grew louder and a slight wind blew through the house. The witch clutched at her chest in fear, a look of desperation on her face. She truly feared losing her magic and Snow could feel nothing but pity for her. A thought occurred to her that she could have been this woman, bitter and alone, hurting others and she actually grabbed onto Irim, interrupting his spell.
“Stop, please stop.” Irim stared at her and Barnum felt confused. “Sorry, it’s just, isn’t stripping her of her power a bit much.”
“You don’t want me too?”
“I mean, she deserves to be punished, but not have her gift taken away. Maybe a fail safe would be better. Put a spell on her so every time she tried to do something bad it backfires on her. If she tries to blind someone she is blinded instead, if she tries to make someone mute she is made mute instead.”
“You wish to forgive her?” Barnum asked.
“Yes…Irim please. If Ariel can forgive me then I can forgive this woman. Punish her, but don’t take her power away.”
He sighed “it deeply angers me when people misuse power and you in no way deserve forgiveness but I will grant it for my sister in law, I will however make it so any curse you cast you will cast on yourself so you will only be able to use good magic for now on” Irim began speaking again, reciting the incantation from memory. When he was done he said “don’t test me you foul woman. I promise you it worked”
“say you’re sorry to Snow”
“I forgive you”
“alright, lets leave. You two can have dinner with my wife and i” Outside he said “while walking through town I saw somthing I want for Ariel. I wont be long” They followed him to the shop and waited patiently as he purchased a necklace and earrings. Not really speaking to them he said “she will look so gorgeous” They walked out of town and to the spot where they first shifted before shifting again and using their powerful wings to propel themselves into the sky.
The flight back to Ariel and Irims didn’t feel as long as it had been to reach this town again but it was still well after dark when they landed. Ariel came out to greet them with a very tired looking little girl. As Irim shifted he quickly pockets his gifts for Ariel so she wouldn’t see until he wanted her to. “Amaranthi wanted you to read to her” Irim kissed Ariel then lifted his daughter to take her to bed.
“He’s such a good dad.” Snow said as she watched Irim walk away.
“Are you two planning on having any?” Ariel asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. I mean I want them is Barnum does too, but I’m afraid I’d be a terrible mother.”
Barnum wrapped his arms around her from behind and kissed her cheek. “Don’t say such silly things Snow, you’d make a great mother.”
“Of course, you’re so sweet and loving to me so I know you would be even more so to our children.”
Snow felt herself choke up, but held back her tears. She felt she had cried enough today and didn’t want to worry anyone. “Come on, come eat.” Ariel said with a warm smile. “And I agree with Barnum, you’d be a great mom.”
“thanks Ariel” Ariel reheated dinner and set it out for everyone. They waited to start until Irim joined them “sorry, she wanted another after the first”
“and you can never say no” Ariel finished. He smiled at her then looked at Snow and Barnum “stay tonight if you two want”
“Oh we’ll be fine. After the day we had today I think we both need to relax” Irim nodded and began making himself a plate. They ate and lightened the evening with talk of their futures, mainly Snow and Barnum having children. It was somthing he wanted to go further into tonight or in the morning with Snow. At this point nothing would make him happier than having children. It was always so sweet watching Ariel and Irims little family grow and he knew it could be just as amazing if not more to do the same with Snow. When they were all done Irim asked again “are you two sure you don’t want to stay the night”
“We’re sure, thank you so much though.”
“Yeah, let me help Ariel with dishes before I leave” Snow said but irim shook his head “No, she isn’t even doing them tonight, especially if you two aren’t staying” Ariel blushed and Barnum almost chuckled “see you two soon” Irim picked up Ariel “Bye guys”
“bye” they called back and walked out “it’s a wonder they don’t have more children” Barnum teased and Snow laughed. Just outside Ariel and Irims home Barnum gave Snow a long, meaningful kiss “I love you Snow” he whispered and she answered ‘i love you too”
“lets get home beautiful”
“lets” Snow said with a blissful smile.
Their night flight home was quiet and peaceful, the air cool as the sped across the sky. The moment they landed and shifted, Barnum had her in his arms and was carrying her inside. He dropped her down on their bed and pulled her shoes off before crawling up her and pressing his lips into hers. “What’s got you so worked up?” Snow asked, a smile pulling at her lips.
“Babies, I think we should have a few.”
He kissed her again. “You know, if you’re up for it.”
“You really think I’d be a good mom?”
“An excellent mom.”
He slid his hands up her legs, pushing her dress up so her entire body grew hot. “I…if you really think that then I’d love to have children with you.”
He smiled happily. “I love you my perfect Snow.”
“I love you too” was the last words spoken before they allowed themselves to get lost in ecstasy. In the morning Snow groggily rolled out of bed and prepared a pot of coffee so she would be able to do anything today. It wasn’t until she was about halfway through her cup that she remembered that Ariel said she needed to rinse the light blue stuff out of her hair. She set her coffe down so hastily she spilled a little on the counter but that hardly mattered to her. With energy coming from the mere thought of hair like her sisters had she rushed into the bathroom and took a shower. It was the running water that woke Barnum so he pushed himself up and out of bed, heading into the kitchen to pour some of that coffee he smelled.
He noticed Snow had spilled some so he cleaned up her mess then just went back to enjoying his coffee, wondering in what cute clumsy way she had managed it. He loved how much his gifts always meant to her. This morning she was using a mug he made himself for her. He tried to be creative with his gifts and not just give something people would normally give so occasionally he would make things himself since most wouldn’t take them time to. It wasn’t anything particularly beautiful but she still used it most mornings. The only exception being if it was still dirty from the last use.
When Snow got out the shower she began furiously drying her hair. Once it felt mostly dry she brushed it out, already noticing the difference just from how her hair responded to the brushing. Looking at herself in the mirror was often somthing she hated but now she was overwhelmed with happy emotions as she stood infront of it and played with her hair. All she wanted now was to see how it was when it was fully dry.
“Good morning beautiful.” Barnum said when she came back into the kitchen and she felt a blush creep into her cheeks as his eyes moved over her.
He smiled and sat his cup down, taking her in his arms and pressing his lips into hers. He could so easily get lost in the sweetness of her lips and the addictive heat of her body. He let his lips drift over her chin and to her neck, causing goosebumps to cover her skin. “I could just gobble you up.”
“Do dragons always talk about eating others?” She teased, her voice coming out breathy.
“Mmm, tasty, delicious Snow is perfect for breakfast.”
“Barnum, be good.”
He chuckled and raised his head to stare into her eyes. “It’s very hard to be good when I have my mate so close.” He brushed his fingers through her hair. “Looks different.”
“Is it bad?”
“You’re always perfect baby, no matter how you look. I just want you to be happy.”
“I am, I’m so full of joy that I’m overflowing with it. You make me so happy Barnum sometimes it’s overwhelming.”
“good, because that’s how I feel” she sighed, thinking how different her life was than she thought it would be at this age. She had a mate who adored her and could handle her temper, she was planning to have children, her siblings all actually liked her, even Ariel. She could even feel good about her hair now. It was all so amazing she couldn’t help but cry again. Barnum rubbed her back, offering her sweet words. He could tell they were happy tears which is why his mind wasn’t frantic with how to fix it. He would just hold her and reaffirm how much she was loved and how truly magnificent she was to him until she was ready to return to their bedroom and continue working on their babies.
~ The End