Regina was so frightened. Her hands were shaking, and her breathing was in gasps. How had she gotten into this mess?
Yes, she knew. There was no blaming anyone but herself. Regina, being the bright child she was wanted to meet a dragon. Dragons were so strong, dragons were so smart... there were stories all over the library about how knights were outsmarted by a dragon, and then of course eaten.
But as a shy little girl, they were quite impressive. Even her biggest knights were afraid of them. And their wives scolded when they even thought of going to battle one.
So, why was it that day in the library, with just her and Merlin she looked up from her book and said,
"I think someday, I want to meet a dragon."
He had looked at her for a moment, stroking his long and grary beard. His hat tilted at an angle, showing he was thinking about something really hard. Getting to his feet, he walked over to her, and smiled.
"Be on the jousting court tomorrow at dawn. And bring something for him to eat!"
So, here she was with a sheep carcass and her warmest clothes. The sky was dark at first, but the pink color of the sun behind the eastern moutains showed it would be day before much longer. The stars were fading and the cold night wind was loosing some of it's bite.
There was still time to change her mind. All the ladies in her chamber this morning had begged her to reconsider. It just wasn't proper for her to be exposed to sigh fright at her age, it would stunt her growth for sure. Anther promised her hair would turn gray and fall out leaving her bald if she was in too much turmoil. It wasn't what Royalty did, (or any quality folks at that) putting themselves in harms way. Not when there were servants to take care of such things.
That alone was enough to make her pick up her mittens and head for the door. But as the light changed the sky from black to blue, a spot appeared in the distance. Even with her untrained eye, Regina knew is was closing fast. And it was much larger than any bird! The dragon was almost here.
She wiped her hands in her muffs. Royals did not sweat. Ladies did not sweat, it must be the early morning dew on her hands somehow. But stay there she did. As the dragon swept closer, and the beat of it's wings whistled in the still air.
In a moment the winds from it's landing buffeted her, and she shielded her face, but only for a moment. Soon she was able to open her eyes again.
And to what a sight! A huge dragon crouched down before her. It had the most beautiful eyes, eyes that had intellegence, and such a big mouth. With that in mind she motioned her arm to the meat she had brought with her.
"Would you care for something to eat? I brought you some breakfast." The eye blinked at her for a moment. Then the dragon started to laugh.
"Aren't you afraid to meet a dragon out here alone, away from the protection of your castle?" It moved to the meat and swallowed it down.s
"Most ladies of quality wouldnt' be caught dead dealing with a dragon when they have their knights, or servants to do it for them...." He turned to look at her again.
Regina was shocked, how did he know? There was no other way out of it, she would talk to it, and give it a decent answer.
"Well, yes I'm terrified. But Merlin would never have sent a dragoan without manners, and I'd heard so much about Dragons, I had to meet one for myself. "
'Besides, I've been afraid of lots of things, and I don't let it stop me from taking care of things."
The dragon smiled at her, with it's huge teeth close enough to touch, if she had wanted too.
"That's what Merlin said of you." It winked at her and jumped into the air.
That evening she sat in the library another book open on her lap. But she wasn't able to read it. All the words were jumbled up inside her head.
She couldn't forget that wink, what had it meant?
A voice from behind her caught her attention.
"A fool would not have been afraid.
"You are no fool, yet you stood there and let the dragon approach, and fed him!
Merlin walked to the chair beside her, and sat down. He rubbed his chin for a moment, then added.
"Always remember, ignoring fear doesn't make us brave, but instead makes us stupid.
"I hope as Queen someday you face all your fears just as wisely and bravely."
Rising, he bowed solumnly and with a puff of smoke vanished.