Summary: Colonel Montenegro brings the young princess Elspeth a surprising gift. Originally written for the For the writerverse challenge “definition of adorable” 328 words. PG, no warnings apply.
Colonel Montenegro held out the box carefully, trying not to jostle it. The gaps between the wooden slats meant he had not had to drill air-holes in it, but he had fashioned a lid to cover the fruit crate.
“Is it a kitten?” Elspeth asked hopefully.
The answer was ‘no’. But he hated to disappoint the young princess. The king really didn’t get on with cats – he sneezed around them, and they knew it, and deliberately liked to rub against him whenever they got the chance. A kitten just wasn’t going to be a suitable pet.
Elspeth had been asking for a kitten for a very long time. Finding this poor orphaned creature had seemed, to the Colonel, like Mistress Fate finally spinning her wheel in their favour.
“Why don’t you open it and see?” he asked.
Elspeth placed the box on her bed and lifted the lid of the slatted crate. Inside the box, nestled within a straw bed, was a baby dragon. Its sea-green eyes blinked, tail swishing. Her mouth fell open. The colonel’s heart sank.
“I know it’s not a cat,” he began.
Elspeth lifted the dragon out of the box and hugged it tightly. The scaly little creature squirmed, gave an indignant squeak, and puffed out steam. Elspeth giggled.
“Oh, he’s adorable! Is it a he? Thank you, Colonel!”
The colonel felt relief wash over him. “You’re welcome, Elspeth. Yes, it’s a male dragon. Are you going to name him?”
“Of course. Calico.”
He blinked. “That’s…unusual.”
Elspeth shrugged. “He was supposed to be a calico cat, but instead he’s a dragon named Calico.”
It made sense, he supposed, even if the iridescent blue-green scales were not the traditional colouring of a calico cat. Elspeth hugged the dragon tighter and he wriggled free, clambering up to sit on her shoulder. His forked tongue licked out, tasting the air.
“Who’s a pretty dragon?” Elspeth cooed. “You are, Calico.”
Calico tossed his head and began to preen.