Tir glanced up into the afternoon sky looking once again for Feras’s scarlet form, until a loud snort brought him back to the task at hand. With a smile he once again started to rub the white sand against Ebony’s black glistening scales. As he continued his work he felt the irritated yellow and red colors begin to fade in his mind, turning into more pleasant mellow colors. Ebony hummed in contentment, something she rarely felt lately.
It had been over a month since Feras and Marek had been called away to the border where tension was running high. During that time Ebony’s body as well as her temper had expanded along with her developing eggs. Feras’s absence weighed heavily on the pregnant dragon, as well as Drake’s frequent absences in emergency council sessions that were becoming an everyday all day occurrence. He could feel her discontent at the abandonment of her mate and rider when she needed them most, so he had put aside his own studies in the library to spend his days with the lonely, irate dragon. He couldn’t help but feel sorry for her and tried to comfort her as best he could, although he wasn’t what she needed the most, her mate and rider.
Within the next couple of days Feras and Marek were finally to return home and Tir couldn’t help but feel excited. At first he had felt a sense of relief when the pair had been called away only days after his release from the harem. The tension between Drake and Marek had abated somewhat with the little discipline session Drake had participated in, but still was far from gone. Tir was at a loss of how to balance a relationship between the three of them when the summons to border had arrived. Now after over a month apart from Marek Tir couldn’t help but miss the man.
It had been rather strange to realize Marek had become someone that Tir would miss so much. He hardly knew anything about the Baron and he still was very much an enigma to Tir. He had only started to see the glimmerings of Marek’s personality beyond the cool mask he normally wore, and Tir found he wanted more than anything to see more of the complex man that had become Feras’s rider.
During Marek’s absence Tir had begun to learn more about Drake and couldn’t help but love the open, easygoing man. With Marek gone Drake’s tension eased away and he had become very much the man Tir had first become interested in. Although problems had begun to build between a neighboring country and war seemed a possibility, Drake still remained upbeat. As the sun set every day he would return to Ebony’s pen and spend time talking with Tir and soothing away Ebony’s frustrations. Drake never tired of answering Tir’s unending questions, and often got in a few of his own. He had quickly become the friend Tir had always wished he could have.
With Marek’s return Tir knew that the tension between the two would spring forth again, but he was determined to find a way to bring harmony between the three of them.
Although he couldn’t help but wonder exactly how he was going to do it.
Stepping back he looked at the now sparkling midnight scales with pleasure. Even though Ebony had grown bigger with her pregnancy she still was the most amazingly beautiful creature he had ever seen. Even now after living so close with her she still could stun him with her beauty. He could feel her preen under his thoughts until white colors hot with pain shot through his mind.
Looking stunned at Ebony he heard her roar at the stab of pain as she backed over to the far corner of her pen, where a few days ago she had meticulously dug a huge hole in the sand.
Paralyzed with the shock at the feelings of pain flowing from Ebony he stood rooted in place as Ebony’s breath became labored. When he heard the door slam open Tir felt himself shake free of his paralysis as he watched Drake run over to the dragon that was now breathing even more erratically, streams of smoke suddenly trickling out of her mouth.
“It’s ok. I’m here,” Drake soothed as his hands went to Ebony’s glistening scales.
Tir watched as the great dragon’s breathing calmed a little and he felt her pain lessen slightly as well. Suddenly he moved over to stand on the side opposite from Drake and also placed his hands on her warm scales to feel her pain directly flow into his body. He realized that Drake and now him as well were sharing and helping to lessen Ebony’s pain as she pushed forth enormous eggs from her body.
Minutes slipped by into ah hour as Ebony laid one egg then rested a while to lay yet another. Both Drake and Tir remained quiet as Ebony worked and rested, sensing her need for quiet as she labored on. Tir had read and asked many questions about the process around the birth of Ebony’s children, but nothing could compare to the actual experience of helping her.
Every once in a while Tir would look over at Drake and wondered if he could feel Tir’s own bond with Ebony as they shared her pain. Yet Drake was always focused only on his laboring dragon, as if he didn’t even realize Tir was present.
Finally Tir felt the pain slip out of his body as Ebony moved slightly away from the eggs and began to bathe them in fire. Tir watched as the tired dragon worked to harden the newly laid eggs with a steady stream of fire. Only after each one of the fifteen very large, creamy white eggs had been completely bathed in her fire did she walk a little away to collapse on the ground near them.
Drake moved over to Tir and pulled him away from the eggs and over to the platform, only to drop down in a chair. Tir also slipped into a vacant chair, feeling exhausted yet also extremely hungry as well.
“I had hoped Feras would make it back in time. She wasn’t due to lay until another week,” Drake said tiredly, looking over at his now sleeping dragon. “Yet she didn’t seem to have near the trouble I thought she would considering he wasn’t here.”
“Huh?” Tir asked tiredly, unable to bring forth more of a response.
“A dragon’s mate shares the laying pains, but Feras wasn’t here. I couldn’t shoulder the full weight he could have,” Drake said.
“Oh, are you hungry?” Tir asked changing the subject, knowing that he was probably the reason Ebony’s pain was lessened to a tolerable amount, but not wanting Drake to suspect.
“Yes, I’m starving.”
“I will go get some food,” Tir said as he pushed himself up.
“Hey, are you ok?” Drake asked looking at the boy.
“Yeah I’m just stiff from standing in place so long,” Tir lied as he walked over to the door. His whole body felt as though he had been beaten up but he knew that was the last thing he could tell Drake. Besides, they both needed food and the servants wouldn’t dare deliver to Ebony’s pen, especially now that her eggs had been laid. Before Drake could say anything else he slipped out of the door and headed down the dragon walkway.
In the month that he had lived in Ebony’s pen he had gradually found his way to key areas in the palace, one of them being the kitchen. The first few days after his release from the harem had been rather difficult, since most nobles and servants assumed he was a harem boy wandering around without a eunuch. They often tried to take him back to the harem or even a couple times back to their own rooms.
The pendant hanging around his neck often times went overlooked, although Tir couldn’t understand how they could miss the gleaming onyx pendant hanging against his pale white chest. Then the inevitable argument of how he got such a thing occurred until Drake or one of his personal servants was sent for.
It took only a couple of days for the rumors to spread like wildfire throughout the palace and suddenly he was able to walk freely through the palace without being stopped. The nobles gave him measuring glances and the servants treated him with the greatest of care, both whispering behind his back at the ex-harem boy who now lived with the prince of the kingdom and his dragon.
He suspected his residence in Ebony’s pen was the source of the respect among the servants and the distance that all of the residents of the palace put between them and Tir. Although everyone, even the nobles were courteous, they all seemed to avoid him. Even though the dragons were respected they were also feared, and no one except their riders ever ventured into their pens. Tir was the only exception and he not only freely came and went from Ebony’s pen, he also spent most of his time there.
Sighing wearily he leaned against one of the cool marble walls of the palace. Luckily the kitchen wasn’t far from the dragon pens, yet Tir knew that he would be the one carrying the food back and wanted to rest a little bit. Only the gnawing hunger pains in the pit of his stomach kept him from wanting to sleep instead of eat. He would have never imagined sharing another’s pain would exhaust him so much. Even though Ebony’s pain had subsided and he was no longer in contact with her his body ached in places he didn’t even know existed.
“Tir, are you alright?” came a quiet voice from down the hallway.
Tir looked up in surprise to see the familiar form of Simeon rush towards him, followed at a slower pace by the girl who had only a month ago been rather aggravated at his place in the King’s bed. Looking at the one person he actually missed a little from the harem he was surprised to see the silver and gold wrist cuff, the mark of the Chief Eunuch, encircling the man’s slender, delicate wrists.
“I’m fine, just a little tired. Ebony just laid her eggs,” Tir said with a smile.
“Oh, and what did you do? The dragon did all the work. Just like a man to pretend like he actually had any part in childbirth,” snorted the raven haired beauty as she stood off to the side of the two men with her hands planted firmly on her curvy waist.
“That is enough Sasha,” Simeon said firmly, his almond eyes fixing the girl with a serious glance.
“Why? Because the Prince has taken him in? I’m the King’s favorite now not him, and the King is still above the Prince,” snapped the girl as she glared at Tir.
“Sasha one more word and I will take you back to the harem, and inform the King of your disobedience. You’re only a shadow of the woman he loved, not the real thing. Do not think for a moment the King will tolerate your willfulness. I have kept my peace about your recent behavior but my patience is limited,” Simeon said calmly as he continued to stare at the girl.
Sasha held Simeon’s gaze for a few moments before snorting and turning her back to both of them. Tir watched the interchange in disbelief. He would have never imagined that the quiet, gentle eunuch was capable of facing down someone so domineering and arrogant. He hardly ever heard Simeon speak let alone command before.
“I see a lot has changed since I left the harem,” Tir said with a grin.
“Yes, now that Esper is gone. It was horrible what he did to you, but thanks to that he was dismissed from his post and now is the lowest ranked eunuch in the harem,” Simeon said with a nod.
“I can’t say that I enjoyed the experience, but I’m glad that some good came of it. Especially since they made you Chief Eunuch. Congratulation Simeon, I’m so happy for you,” Tir said, feeling some of his excitement and happiness for Simeon giving him a lift in energy.
“I never thought of becoming Chief Eunuch, but the King said the Prince suggested me and I couldn’t turn down the job. Prince Drake has always been so good to me. But what of you, are you ok now? I know that you were never happy in the harem,” Simeon asked.
“I’m the happiest I have ever been, although it wasn’t that I didn’t like being a harem boy, it was just boring. But now with Ebony nothing is ever boring,” Tir said with excitement.
“I’m glad for you. I must be going, if you are ok. I must take Sasha to the King,” Simeon said looking over at the sulking girl.
Tir nodded, pushing away from the wall. “I need to go as well. I’m glad I was able to see you again.”
Simeon smiled and turned to Sasha, who had already started walking down the hallway. Tir watch the two retreating figures and smiled a little, feeling sorry for Simeon having to deal with the spoiled little girl stomping down the hallway.
With his new found energy he quickly got a huge plate full of food and headed back to the pen to discover that Drake was not alone. Tir was rather surprised to find that Drake was already fast asleep in the king sized bed that had replaced the smaller one a month ago, when Ebony’s pen had been expanded to house both Feras and Tir. In a simple wooden chair next to the oak table with empty dishes sat the King.
Tir had not seen the King since the day in the bath over a month ago and was surprised at the changes in the man. His steely gray hair was longer and now braided down his back, and instead of his more regal clothes he wore a set of plain black leathers that Tir often saw many of the riders wearing. His black eyes held more worry than Tir had ever seen and there were far more wrinkles on his face. In a space of a month he had aged considerable.
“Your Majesty,” Tir greeted the man as he put his tray down on the table.
“Ah Tir you’re too late. When I heard her roar I knew what was happening. My Sela told me Ebony had completed her laying and I knew Drake would be hungry. I’m afraid he and Ebony both will sleep the rest of the day and night before awakening. It was a heavy burden for them both with Feras not being here,” the King said with a sigh.
“I know, Drake told me that a dragon’s mate will help share the pain and help tend to the eggs. Drake thought that there would still be time,” Tir said, looking down at the King.
“We all did,” the King mused then looked up at Tir. “Sit down and eat. By the way you are eyeing that food you must be hungry as well.”
“Thank you, your Majesty,” Tir said gratefully.
“Just Logan, at least when I’m here in the Dragon enclave. It has always been the rule that all formalities are dropped here. We are equal as riders. Even though you aren’t a rider you still are part of the enclave now,” the King said gently, looking at the young boy staring up at him with wide eyes.
“I have to say, young one, I do miss you. I think I should have fought Drake a little harder before letting you go. Although there was no way I could have won against her,” the King said looking out at the slumbering dragon.
Tir remained quiet, a little shocked at his words. The King had always been kind to him, but he didn’t expect the man to like him so much. He felt a kind of fondness for the man and was saddened by the obvious worry and pressure the man was under. Standing up he walked over to the King and leaned down and kissed the man gently.
“Thank you Logan, I always liked you too,” Tir said softly, pulling away from the man.
The King looked up in surprise at the boy before a genuine smile appeared on his face. Standing up he put his hand on Tir’s head, stroking the soft waves of hair.
“I think I better go, before I do something to make Drake angry again,” the King said as he looked at Tir for a moment before heading out the door.
Tir yawned and looked down at the rest of the food and decided he was now more tired than hungry. Slipping out of his clothes he went over to the bed and crawled in, snuggling up next to Drake. It only took a few minutes before he felt sleep pull him under as Drake’s arms wrapped around him, pulling him close.