The dragon, no larger than a housecat normally looked considerably bigger at the moment with his wings spread. He'd been industriously cleaning himself up from his hatching since establishing their mental link. Now his wings were spread to catch the slight breeze. He looked at her.
INDEED I AM. The voice reverberated in her head, surprisingly deep for a such a small creature.
"Annnd...you're inside my head." Not that big a surprise, really, given the mental rapport they shared. But still. Not something she'd expected.
"What should I call you? Pete?"
"No," Michelle agreed. "Pete was the guy who had the dragon, not the dragon." She thought for a moment. "I'm afraid I'm not up on my dragon mythology. I got nothing." She thought for a moment. "Mergatroyd?"
The dragon looked at her for a moment. She could almost feel him rifling through her mind, looking for a connection. DO I LOOK LIKE A SEA SERPENT?
Michelle, who'd never seen a sea serpent--or a dragon until now, hesitated.
NO, the dragon said. I DO NOT.
"You have any preferences, then?" Michelle asked.
I MUST THINK ON IT. NAMING IS NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY. NAMES HAVE POWER.
"I could call you George."
THERE WILL BE NO HUGGING AND SQUEEZING AND CALLING ME GEORGE.
"Aww, not even a little?" Michelle asked. She leaned forward to stroke the dragon under his chin. He closed his eyes and leaned closer, enjoying her touch.
PERHAPS...A LITTLE. OCCASIONALLY. WHEN YOU HAVE EARNED IT.
"When I've...okay," Michelle said. She continued stroking the creature, which moved forward and settled in her lap very much like a cat.
She continued to pet him. He didn't purr. He wasn't a cat, after all. And yet she could feel his pleasure in her touch, and in her company. She could feel that he could feel hers in his presence too. It was weird, but pleasant.
"Can you fly?" she asked.
NOT YET. EVENTUALLY. IN TIME, I WILL BE ABLE TO CARRY YOU INTO THE SKY.
Michelle imagined being carried aloft in his taloned forefeet. It didn't look comfortable. She felt her mental picture adjusted, saw herself astride the dragon, somewhat like riding a horse but farther forward, along the neck.
"Oh," she said. "Yeah, that seems more comfortable. Uh...how big will you eventually be?"
The Dragon--George, at least tentatively--shrugged. LARGE. LARGER THAN YOU. EXACTLY HOW BIG I DO NOT KNOW.
Michelle nodded. "I guess there's a lot for both of us to learn." She stretched a little, feeling restless. She looked toward the village. "What say we go explore a little. See if there's anyone else around?"
AS YOU WISH. George rose, turned in a tight circle on her lap, then leaped up to take up a position on her shoulder. When she shifted position and stood, he swayed, using his wings to help keep his balance, then folded them again.
Michelle nodded. That would work. She slung her bag over her other shoulder and started toward the village.