Dragonhearts - Page 4

“And what would you have done if I hadn't been around to help you?” I asked her snidely. “Held the wolf at bay with your basket and beaten it to death with a roll perhaps?”

“No, but . . .” She didn't know where to go from there in the face of my sudden sarcasm because, for all her precociousness, she was still only seven.

“But you need to listen to me then,” I finished for her, remembering to let a smile be heard in my voice since my face was concealed by the all-encompassing brown hooded robe I always wore around her. “Bravery is one thing, and foolishness is something else. Bravery is facing danger with full knowledge and appreciation of what could happen, what one can do about it . . . and what one can not do about it. You are the bravest child I have ever met, but dealing with a rabid wolf going for your throat is just a bit beyond your seven years, and to delude yourself otherwise is just foolishness. Do you understand me?” She nodded, but I could tell that my words had stung her, so I decided to remove all but the pain necessary for the lesson the take hold. “Now if you were eight,” I added with a chuckle. “Then maaaybe you could have taken the wolf by yourself.”

She laughed at that. “But probably not,” she conceded as she favored me with one of her smiles. “I believe I understand what you are saying.”

“I believe you do too,” I assured her as I forcefully resisted the urge to reach over and tousle her hair. “So the next time you need help, accept it, even ask for it if you need it, alright?”

“Very well, Sir Dragon,” she said with exaggerated graciousness. “I shall heed your words.” Her smile became mischievous. “As always.”

Sir Dragon, the name she had given me because in her mind a protector must be noble and thus deserving of a title, hence the “Sir,” and “Dragon” because I was “magic,” and so were dragons. It was a child's name born from a child's logic, but I allowed her to call me that since the alternative was for her to believe I was some kind of an angel . . . and that would have been too much for me to bear. “As almost always,” I reminded her, making my voice stern once again.

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