A magical short story (in more ways than one!) involving love, spells, and dragons. This is part of Jeff’s Food Garden Court series – don’t forget to check out his website for more.
As Jeff himself says, “The Food Garden Court and its denizens were created for a flash fiction picture prompt site (“Friday Flash Fics”) with the picture being a garden-area food court. I’d worked in one so a magical mall in a magical world seemed like a fun idea. I’ve written three earlier stories and the idea of Skid and T’amec being more than friends just popped into the most recent story, despite hints in the other two. It was fun exploring their relationship as well as the usual mall strangeness. Thanks for reading!“
The banners that hung around the Food Garden Court proclaimed “Dragon Sale.”
Skid and T’amec spent some of the lunch rush assuring customers that the pet shop sold live dragons, but that Food Garden Court in the Mall wasn’t selling dragonburgers.
“Wish the signs had been more specific,” T’amec grumbled.
Skid grinned as he refilled the broth canister and gave an extra glance to T’amec’s lean, lanky frame. He’d been working there for over a year and had only noticed him like that in the last few months. T’amec saw him, smiled and gave Skid’s shorter, more muscular body the once over. He’d been feeling the same way.
When the lunch rush was over, Skid and T’amec sat at one of the tables in the Court under a potted palminor tree and resisted the urge to tell passing mall customers they were eating dragon salad sandwiches.
When they finished, Skid got serious.
“Hey, I enjoyed going to the micaball game with you the other night,” Skid said. “In fact, I like doing about anything with you lately.”
T’amec blushed. “Thanks,” he said.
Skid took a deep breath. “But what if it’s not real?” Skid said. “The way we feel.”
“You mean, like magically not real?” T’amec said.
“Yeah, what if this is just magic and we don’t, y’know…”
Skid left the line hanging there. T’amec slid his hand across the table to grab Skid’s hand.
“What if we start officially dating and, y’know, get married and a year later ZAP! The spell goes away?” Skid said.
“What got you started worrying about this?” T’amec said. “We’re taking this slow, remember? Got a good friendship and don’t want to wreck it, right.”
“I keep thinking about that fae nest we took out a few months ago,” Skid said. “They enchanted you to do whatever I said…”
“Yeah, I remember,” T’amec said with a shudder. “But that wasn’t a love spell.”
“I know, but we had to kiss under the moonlight to break the spell.” Skid said. “And we both liked that, right?”
“But that was the first time we…I…felt something other than just being buddies with you.” Skid said.
“So, in case this is some kind of residual fae magic, I wanna check this.” Skid said.
T’amec sighed. “My Grandma knows this ritual with lilac leaves and goose fat to find if your lover is sincere and…”
“We’re not checking for love, we’re checking for magic,” Skid said. “We’ll do it scientifically. We’re still on break and the Augur’s shop is at the other end of the mall.”
“We can’t afford the Augur’s shop,” T’amec said.
“We get a Mall Employee Discount, remember?” Skid said. “Plus, I have that coupon I won a while back. So let’s do this, okay?”
The Augur’s shop was dim and dank with neon signs on the walls breaking up the dimness. They told the young Assistant Augur their problem and more importantly showed him Skid’s coupon. The Augur rubbed his goatee, checked the coupon and said that a residual fae spell was unlikely but they could check for magic or enchantment of any kind.
The process was, as the Augur said “Simple, but yucky.”
The Augur cut off a lock of each of their hair and put them in separate bowls. Then Skid and T’amec each spat on the lock of the other’s hair. The Augur made a face as he picked up the bowls.
“Should have the results back in a couple of hours,” he said.
“We’ll be back when we get off work,” T’amec said.
The two of them were laughing and walking along the upper level of the mall along the tall railing pointing at the signs when a green streak shot past them from the lower level. It circled in the air above them and they recognized it as a small, baby dragon.
“The pet store,” Skid said. “Some kind of promo?”
T’amec was about to answer when a shrill voice called out “My Dragon!”
A little girl ran up the stairs, eyes on the circling dragon.
“Dragon! Dragon!” The girl ran past Skid and T’amec only watching the dragon. When the dragon swooped low and then flew over the railing of the walkway the girl lunged for the dragon and hit the railing and toppled into the open space above the first floor. Skid had run after her, afraid of what could happen and he managed to grab her leg with both hands, but the weight started to pull him over too.
“SKID!” T’amec screamed. He jumped and grabbed Skid’s feet as he was pulled over the railing. Bracing himself with his feet against the base of the railing, T’amec was able to hold on to Skid’s legs until several passers by were able to pull both Skid and the girl to safety.
The little girl’s mother had run up and was holding her and scolding her through her tears.
T’amec and Skid sat on the floor by the railing sobbing and kissing.
“I love you. Oh, my Oaths, I love you!” Skid said.
“I love you too,” T’amec said. “And you know,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t think we need to go back to the Augur’s.”
They were laughing, crying and kissing as the dragon circled overhead.