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Blowing Smoke


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Well, this ended up being a lot longer than I intended. My original idea was just for a half-dragon girl sneezing; but then I figured I needed to include some background information about what her home situation would be like; and then I figured I needed to explain how her mother came to be in that situation, and it kept growing less and less about just the isolated sneeze incident and more and more about the complexities of a dragon-draconata mother-daughter relationship... but there are sneezes at the end, I promise!


Title: Blowing Smoke

Author: Chronosynclastic

Fandom: Original Characters

Summary: Original character (F)

Anyone could tell at a glance that Megan Malificus was no ordinary girl.

Those who only saw her from a distance would be able to conclude with confidence that she had a perpetually bad attitude. Her typical outfit consisted of artistically ripped jeans and a T- shirt emblazoned with the logo of an extreme death metal band whose music could most charitably be described as "loud", and she was constantly glowering at the world from beneath a mop of unruly black hair.

Those who came to learn more about her would notice some other unusual things. Her highly unusual last name, for instance, which had some unpleasant connotations in Latin. Or the fact that it was impossible to pinpoint her ethnicity. Or that her eyes, when they could be seen through her hair, were inhumanly yellow and slitted like a reptile's.

There were relatively few people in the world who would be able to recognize the reason Megan was so unusual. She was draconata, the hybrid offspring of a human and a dragon. Dragons were quite rare in this modern age, and for two suitable mates to meet was even rarer, so many turned to other methods to fulfill their deeply-rooted instinctual reproductive urges. Dragons possessed powerful inherent magic that allowed, among other things, shapeshifting into human form. Megan's mother had done so in order to conceive and bear Megan.

Of course, just because it was possible for a dragon to produce draconata offspring didn't mean it was easy to raise them. Being reptiles, female dragons were notably devoid of anything resembling maternal instinct. This was no problem when it came to raising dragon young, as hatchlings emerged from their eggs already possessing the necessary strength and instinct to be self-sufficient. Draconata, however, displayed far more of their human than their dragon heritage. They needed care and nurture like any other person. Dragons didn't tend to do "nurture" very well.

Megan was a source of constant disappointment to her mother. No matter how tough she acted, she could never live up to the predatory majesty of a true dragon. People might describe her as a tomboy, a punk, a misfit, or a bully; they would never call her a great tyrant lizard. She could get in countless fights and win them all; but any reputation she earned would never equal the primal fear and worship of those who witnessed a true dragon. Most of the powers of a full- blooded dragon were beyond her: though her abilities were nearly equal to those of her mother's human form, she couldn't shapeshift. Whenever her mother assumed her true draconic form and took to the skies, Megan was forced to remain behind.

From a human perspective, a draconata was super-powered; but from a dragon's point of view, it was just another monkey.

Strangely, what vexed Megan most of all wasn't her lack of the greater draconic abilities like shapeshifting and flight. Rather, it was the fact that she couldn't breathe fire. Perhaps this was because, while her mother had never expected her to be capable of the other feats, she had seemed genuinely surprised that Megan couldn't breathe fire. Like it was something that even a weakling draconata was supposed to be able to do. After all, her mother could breathe fire even while in human form. Dragonfire wasn't anything biological; it was an inherent magic. Megan had inherited various other odds and ends of draconic magic — she could tell real gold from fake by instinct, how amazingly useful — but the single most iconic aspect of dragon-kind, the one thing that everyone expected a dragon to be able to do, managed to elude her.

After a while, her mother had stopped trying to teach her fire breathing. Had given up on her. She'd also stopped breathing fire when Megan could see her. Didn't want to make her poor, inadequate daughter feel bad about her handicap. And to think some people said dragons were incapable of feeling emotions like pity.

The ringing of a bell signaled the end of the school day. Megan grabbed her backpack and headed outside. Her bicycle was parked in a rack outside. Though not nearly as strong as her mother, Megan was much fitter than most ordinary humans, and so the fairly long distance between the school and her home didn't pose any challenge to her endurance. It did take a while to travel the whole distance twice a day, but biking was one of the few activities she truly enjoyed. Sometimes, when she picked up speed going down a hill, she'd close her eyes and imagine for a moment that she was flying.

Megan's house was quite fancy — it wouldn't be inappropriate to refer to it as a mansion. Her mother had purchased it using some of the considerable funds she'd accumulated over the centuries — though in response to any comments about the tendency of dragons to hoard treasure, she'd be quick to point out that pretty much everybody wants to be rich. And she hadn't just bought this house to show off; it was well-suited to the needs of a dragon. Being located on the edge of town, her mother could take on her true form and go flying without the risk of being seen by any suburbanites. The mansion's basement was also a cavern where her mother could sleep in her true form — though she actually slept in her human form most nights these days, having apparently green accustomed to it during her long time living among humans.

Megan's mother's unusual personality could be attributed to the fact that she was relatively young for a full-blooded dragon and had spent her entire life among humans. She had only just hatched from her egg when her mother was killed by Roman Legionnaires. She had survived by shapeshifting into human form and pretending to be a child, abducted to serve as part of her mother's next meal. She had never had the opportunity to be named by her mother, nor had she had the chance to learn her mother's true draconic name; since the Romans had called her mother Regina Draco Malificus, she adopted the moniker Regina Puella Draco Malificus as her own "true" name. Of course, she never referred to herself that was in the company of humans, rather using a long litany of aliases that changed along with her appearance over the ages. Currently, in her identity as Megan's mother, she went by the name Melissa Malificus. She also used a consistent human form with a strong familial resemblance to Megan; possibly it was the same one she'd used while pregnant, though Megan wasn't entirely sure of how draconata genetic inheritance worked. Ironically, Melissa was capable of appearing even more fully human than Megan, due to her shapeshfting ability; however, to maintain their resemblance, she allowed her eyes to remain yellow and serpentine to match Megan's.

Megan entered the house to the smell of dinner being cooked. It was nothing that would have raised any eyebrows had an ordinary human seen it; a bit heavy on meat-based dishes, perhaps, and significantly larger than ordinary portion sizes, but no ingredients that would be out of place in any other kitchen. The one time Megan had asked Melissa what humans tasted like, she'd been harshly scolded. She didn't live like that, Melissa had said. More like she couldn't live like that anymore. Megan was sure Melissa would prefer obtaining her dinner by swooping down on some unsuspecting rancher's livestock, hauling off a cow, and cooking it with her flaming breath before devouring it whole. That was the way dragons lived. But Melissa couldn't, because she was stuck caring for a draconata daughter who would never be able to live the way a dragon should.

Melissa was adding seasoning to a steak as Megan entered the kitchen. At that moment, an unexpected draft blew through one of the kitchen's open windows. The swirling air currents caught the grains falling from Melissa's paper shaker and sent them rising back up towards her face, where they were quickly sucked into her nostrils by Melissa's next inhalation.

An odd expression crossed Melissa's face. She frowned and rubbed her nose several times. Her face slackened for a moment, then she crinkled her nose and rubbed it again with greater vigor. Megan realized with amusement that Melissa was going to sneeze. It wasn't very often that her mother displayed a human frailty such as sneezing; dragons didn't get sick as easily or have as many allergies as humans. Melissa must have gotten quite the noseful of pepper for it to overwhelm her like this.

Melissa's eyelids fluttered and her nostrils flared. She sniffed loudly, her nose twitching from the pepper's continued irritation. Then, abruptly, she turned around and let out a ferocious sneeze. Jets of flame shot from her nostrils and extended for several feet before breaking up. Megan was shocked; it was the first time she'd ever seen her mother breathe fire while in human form. Had the pepper somehow triggered the draconic magic involved, perhaps even enhanced it? An idea began to formulate in Megan's mind.

When dinner was served, Megan ate with unusual haste. She usually took time to savor her mother's cooking — it really was remarkably good — but the idea that had taken root in her mind crowded out all other thoughts. As she left the table, Megan inconspicuously palmed the pepper shaker. Then, barely trying to conceal her haste, Megan retreated to her room and closed the door.

Sitting on the edge of her bed, Megan unscrewed the lid of the pepper shaker. She lifted the open shaker to her nose, then inhaled deeply. A cloud of pepper particles was pulled into the air and sucked into Megan's nostrils. She was immediately hit by a fierce burning sensation as the countless grains began irritating her nasal tissues. Megan felt her nose begin to quiver. Her breathing grew ragged and her nostrils repeatedly flared. There was no mistaking the signs: a sneeze was building.

Once she was certain that she was past the point of no return and the sneeze was inevitable, Megan began trying to call the fire. Her mother had tried to teach her many times before, back when she'd still had expectations of Megan, and Megan still recalled every instruction. She visualized a roaring fire burning inside her chest, pictured the flames rising up the back of her throat, tried to feel the heat of the draconic magic throbbing inside of her. Only it was getting harder and harder to concentrate, as the pepper she'd inhaled relentlessly tickled the inside of her nose. Megan could feel her nostrils spasming and her breath hitching, and fire was slipping away, and no matter how hard she tried to hold onto it the growing irritation in her nose was simply too much to ignore.

It was too much; Megan couldn't hold it in any longer. She threw back her head, then let out an tremendous sneeze. And as the sneeze exploded out of her, two jets of smoke shot out of her nostrils. The thick black smoke quickly filled her room, sending Megan into a coughing fit. She quickly opened the door and stumbled out into the hall, where she bumped into her mother.

Megan flushed in embarrassment. It was all to obvious what she'd been doing; her nose was red with irritation, snot was dripping from her nostrils, and thin streams of smoke still coiled from her nose with each exhalation. Melissa tilted her head.

"Is there something troubling you?" she asked.

"I was trying... to breathe fire." she admitted. "I thought the pepper would help... but I still failed. Even with it, I can only make smoke."

"We've spoken about this before." Melissa said. "It's okay if you can't do it."

"You say that, but I know you don't mean it!" Megan said. "You're disappointed in me. Because I can't be a dragon."

Melissa sighed, then sat down on Megan's bed. She motioned for Megan to join her. Although surprised by this unusually maternal gesture, Megan complied.

"I'll admit that I've faced some unforseen challenges, raising a daughter so... different from myself. "Melissa said. "But I've never been disappointed in you. I knew when I birthed you that you'd be draconata; I've never expected you to be a dragon. I don't need you to be anything more than what you are."

"You're... okay with it?" Megan asked. "Even though I'll never be as strong as you, or as ruthless; or capable of flying, or shapeshifting, or breathing fire!? Even though I'll never be able to see the world the same way you can, as a dragon?"

"I know you've been trying hard to act like you think a dragon should." Melissa said. "But you don't have to do that to impress me. I was born a dragon, but I've spent most of my life living as a human. So... you don't have to try to be a dragon for my sake. You can just be yourself... whatever that might be."

Mother and daughter hugged each other, the misunderstanding which had driven a wedge between them for so long finally resolved. For the first time, Megan was able to see Melissa not as a cold, enigmatic reptile, but as a loving mother. It was the start of a new beginning for Megan.

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Aww, that was really cute! I also find it kind of adorable that Megan can only sneeze out big clouds of smoke. There's something endearing about her trying so hard, but still only ending up making a mess.

You've set up such a great world here, and I love your characters. Naturally, this is totally up to you, but I'd absolutely love to see this universe expanded upon, be it with other draconata characters going about their business, or with Megan and her mother coninuing their time together. Again, up to you, but I really hope we'll see some more!

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Thank you for your compliments. I'm glad you enjoyed my writing.

I'm not sure whether I'll continue the story any further. I originally intended it just as a one-shot, so I don't have any plans for what might happen next. Maybe if I get a good idea I'll come back to it. In the meantime, I'll probably write something else; I like to experiment with different story types and styles.

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cool but this story so far is great chrono! I had the idea that perhaps Megan could end up getting into a confrontation with some-one and the fight could act as a catalyst giving her the fire ability unintentionally like a side effect... just a thought

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Excellent story. It was written with great detail and I enjoyed it greatly.

I would love to see a sequel or expansion to this story.

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Terrific story! I love the detail of how she experiences different sensations while the sneeze builds up. Like everyone else, I can see at least one sequel, for example if she induces with something she's allergic to or with an object to find the fiery place in her nose she can tickle.....

I hope I won't be called a grammar nazi if I mention that , like English, Latin is an inflected language , so that words change their form with context. So for example if you were addressing a wicked queen you would say "regina malefica", and so on.

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Thank you for your compliments. It always makes me happy to know that people are enjoying my stories.

Count de Tisza: Duly noted. If I ever do write a sequel, I'll correct the inflections.

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Aww, that was really cute! I also find it kind of adorable that Megan can only sneeze out big clouds of smoke. There's something endearing about her trying so hard, but still only ending up making a mess.

This pretty much sums up my thoughts about it. :) Very cute story.
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