Hi. I’m Katie. Maybe you’ve heard of me, though if you have, I am going to knock you out.
I was born into one of the most powerful magical families in the world, but I ran away years ago to live a normal life. (FYI, the first person to make a “muggle” joke will also be knocked out.) I know what you’re thinking: I was nuts to leave. Sure, magic seems great until you realize everybody has it, including your mean aunt and your weird neighbor with the sock fetish and those guys over there who actually want to murder your whole family. It gets old really fast.
I moved to an obscure non-magical town in New Hampshire, tried (and failed) to complete community college, and ended up with a string of temp jobs that marked me and my resume completely unremarkable. A smashing success!
Then my insane uncle dropped a baby dragon on my doorstep, and my whole fragile life fell to pieces.
The good news: the dragon (whom I call Vesuvius because he barfs fire) is fine. Somehow, I still have my job. My neighbors don’t realize that the crowbar in my trunk is really a wand. And I wish I could say that was all she wrote, but I can’t.
There are two problems.
One: Vesuvius – Suvi – has imprinted on me. When I’m not there, he refuses to eat or sleep and cries all night.
Two: In the process of keeping Suvi away from some fairly bad guys, I had an unfortunate encounter with the infamous Crow King.
The Crow King is a shadow-djinn, very powerful and very dangerous. He’s also a collector of anything he finds interesting, and that means me. Well, ha ha, not me. He wants to make a baby with me and keep that.
I know. I’m living the dream, right?
He won’t leave me alone. Politely fending him off is my only option, though I’d rather one that includes punching (and possibly setting him on fire). If I’m too rude, I could start a war.
And people wonder why I opted out of the magical world.
* * *
Ten Tips for Raising Your Baby Dragon: By Katie Lin (co-written by Suvi, A.K.A. Vesuvius)
One: give it back to its mother. Can’t do that? On to rule two.
I am Suvi! I rule all the dragons because I am their prince. My mama is Katie. She’s funny and she can’t fly, but she’s the prettiest lady in all the world.
Two: Be prepared for a varied diet.
I like eating stones and newspapers and rose-honey soda. I like fish, but only on Tuesday, and I do not like chicken because it makes my fire taste weird. My fire will come out straight and strong someday, but right now it just falls out of my mouth onto the ground all splat, so I have to taste it for a while. Yuck!
Three: Tickle his soft little tummy while you still can, because someday it will harden with scales.
Pettings are nice. Mama’s hands are really warm, and I don’t have any bad dreams when she holds me.
Four: Learn to say “no” a lot. No, he can’t have all the sheep. No, he can’t test how much fire it takes to melt stone. No, he can’t eat your guests. Especially no to that.
I don’t like the man who comes to see my mama. He calls himself the Crow King, and he smells like feathers, and mama is afraid of him.
I told him to go away, but he wouldn’t. Doesn’t he know who I am?
Five: Keep a fire extinguisher on hand at all times.
I put fire on his shoes! Mama told me not to do that anymore, but I’m not sorry.
Six: He will tear fabrics like a kitten. Just put “textiles” in the budget and let it go.
Hahaha! His underwear tastes like feathers.
Seven: Learning to talk means he will never, ever shut up, and that’s okay.
I wrote a story, want to hear? It’s called The Tale of the Stupid Bird Man. It starts with the perfect beautifulest lady Katie the dragon-mama who was scared by the wicked stupid Bird King, and then a white star fell from the sky in the shape of a dragon and fixed everything and then there was cake, and fireworks, and then a fountain made of jello–
Eight: Learning to listen and obey will take him a while, but that’s okay. That’s what patience is for.
Mama says I didn’t do right by attacking the Crow King. I don’t wanna say I’m sorry. Do I have to?
I guess I do.
Nine: Early to bed, early to rise. He’s a growing dragon, after all.
I don’t like today. Saying sorry was hard. It’s worse than chicken-flavor. But I made mama happy, and that makes me the hero.
Ten: Always have a heat source handy. If exposed, he falls asleep, and all your problems are solved.
I love you, mama. I’ll always make you happy.
Your hands are really warm.