A Boy And His Dragon

 

The wind whistled through Howl’s hair. To either side were Sabriel’s black, leathery wings, rising and falling in a hypnotic rhythm. On long rides like this one, the boy liked to talk aloud—to stay awake, and reassure his companion with the sound of his voice. “Can you remember how we met, girl? It seems like I can only ever remember my most recent memories. What is it that keeps us traveling together? We’re never apart, yet there are times with you that have been the loneliest of my life…”

“Do I love you, Sabriel?” Howl wondered aloud. “Can a boy love a beast such as yourself? If it is love that we have, it’s certainly a different love than what I felt for her, all those years ago. No, I think this is something altogether different… Something shared between us, and no one else. An experience we make, continually—never permanent, but always uniquely our own.”

The boy leaned forward to rest his head on his lady’s neck, and the warmth of her inner furnace leeched into his body. They’d spent the night riding through a storm; the morning sun was shining brightly now through broken clouds, but it did little to dry Howl’s soaked riding leathers.

Sabriel huffed, and two small gouts of flame erupted from her nostrils before they dissipated into the air. She never said much, being a dragon, but her thoughts were more or less constant.

If her thoughts on this particular morning could have been put into English, they’d have gone something like this:

“Do I love Howl? Sometimes I do. Sometimes I resent him. The differences between us seem too profound to comprehend… Surely too vast of a gulf for love to exist.

“I take pride in my friend, even while I resent his smallness. I have to tame my inner fires for his comfort. I have to resist the desire to eat him, even when I grow ravenously hungry. Before Howl, I was free, and beautiful, and terrifying to behold.

“Before I met Howl, I never knew myself. What is my power? What is my freedom? They have no meaning, without love. They are meaningless unless perceived by someone who understands. He doesn’t understand, but later, he may. I’ll go where he leads, for awhile longer. I can always eat him if I need to.”

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Howl was born in the wastes north of Hithlum, where only beasts and witches dare roam. He was raised by two old hags, Tabby and Wiles, who had an unhealthy fascination towards the literary arts. Howl now resides in a well-furnished cave off South Rim Trail, complete with an old iBook and Wi-Fi.