Every dragon has their own fruit. And when someone eats it they fall madly in love with the dragon.
The crazy youthful male sitting before the oldest tree in the woods could be called nothing special. He looks normal, acts normal, and speaks normal. However, he is not normal. He only pretends, because in this world, dragons are more often killed.
The girl coming to him does not know his secret. She has no idea about Shin the dragon. All she knows is the boy before her is the most average person in her class. She has no idea he has lived as a fifteen year old boy for fifty years. He tried pretending to be an adult, but it never worked out. He is not that old and cannot seem to act old enough for the adult humans. Teenagers suit him best. “Shin!”
“Hey, Azuela.” He blinks as she huffs out her greeting. The bright smile shows how much she wanted to see him. But there would be no reason as to why. She smiles that way to everyone in class. She is class president and her election to stay class president is coming up soon. “What’s up?”
“You’ll vote for me, right?”
“Sure.” Shin closes his eyes resting again. This tree has been here his entire life. All the other trees fall and new ones grow, but this one survived everything he threw at it. That’s because this is his tree. His dragon fruit tree. The red fruit look delicious, but are too sour yet. As he grows things will be better.
“Why are you here anyway?” She looks up at the tree. “I heard you always hang out at this tree. Why?” She paces the tree a little.
“It survived.” One hundred years, just like him. “Most of the trees died when the forest caught fire in ’96, but this one lived.” He caused the fire and a sigh catches him off guard.
“We weren’t alive then.” She looks up at the grand tree. “But I guess you’re right. Come on. We need to go back to class.”
Shin stands up patting hi dragon tree. Another year as a freshman means another festival to ready for. Every year he acts the freshman in high school. Yet as he sees the people around him grow he wonders if he should try it again. Watching the tree fall out of sight, he follows Azuela out of the woods and back to the classroom.
“You’re late!” The teacher knocks the desk pointing at the sign they were supposed to be working on. “Hurry up or you won’t be ready for tomorrow.”
When the next day came around, Shin found the festival dull and boring. Just like every other year. He slips between work and strolling in the woods. No one noticed him leave them upon his break. His tree stares him down. “It’s time to move on, huh?”
“To where?” Azuela asks looking back and forth.
Shin glances at her then his tree. “I need to move.”
“After the festival?” She grabs his hands in a friendly gesture. “You’ll leave us? But then I may not become President again. Chianti is trying her best to…”
“When the school year ends, I’ll leave.” Like normal. Change a little something about the body, choose another school, and begin as a freshman again. There are several schools close to the dragon tree. “It’s expected.”
“Your parents are so harsh!” She whines taking a step back while offering her smile. “Can’t you get them to let you stay? It’s only three years.”
“Ah.” Shin places a hand on his tree. “Three years is a long time.” Not for a dragon, but for a human. They grow so fast. If Shin cannot act like an adult, he cannot become what one calls an adult.
“I can help persuade them!” She takes the hand off the tree and pulls Shin closer. “Where do you live? I’ll come over. We can plan after school and then…”
Shin glances at the tree. He has no real home. No need for one. Houses are for humans. He lives in the woods like any other magical creature. A pixie was around before the fire. Nothing has come since. “It’s okay.”
“But I can…” She tugs him away from the tree. “Let’s go have fun at the festival!”
A final look leaves Shin walking back to the festival and the life he lives for now.
After six months, Shin shows up at his new school a fresh faced freshman who looks so average no one gives him a second look. It’ll take days before he is noticed at this rate. Which is good. He has perfected normal. Normal average every day freshman.
Each night he finds his way to his tree. It is too far to reach during school hours, but he can rest with his back against the tree at night.
“Shin!” Wait he is no longer called Shin. His new name is Chiron. “Shin! I found you!”
Shin pulls back staring in horror as Azuela comes up to him puffing. “Azuela?” He covers his mouth at her grin. She shouldn’t have been able to find him.
“Shin! What happened? You look odd. And you are still coming here, but not in school anymore. Did you quit?” She drops to kneel before him looking completely innocent.
“I…” Shin looks away. Could she see through his perfect looks? “I moved to another school. One closer to…”
“You always come to this tree and our school is closest. Why did you leave? Did your parents…?”
Always with the parents. Shin closes his eyes wanting nothing more than to savor the tree at his back. “You should go home. It’s late.”
“I’m fine.” She states with pride. “I have you to protect me.”
“Protect?” Confusion litters the dragon’s features. All she offers is her endearing smile. The smile she offers everyone.
“You may look weak and average, but you’re actually strong, right?” She tilts her head analyzing the small dragon. “I’ve been watching you. When you disappeared, I tried to figure out where I could see you. The tree came to mind recently.”
“You searched for me?” Shin pulls back not feeling the normal comfort of the tree. “Why?”
“Because I missed you, silly.” She giggles.
“Azuela?” Shin gets up looking at the fruit high in the tree. “Have you eaten from this tree?”
She stares at the fruit without a word. Her smile greets him with a cool expression. Without a word she jumps up and politely kisses his lips. “I’ll expect you here tomorrow too.” Then she runs off leaving Shin alone at his tree.
Returning to Shin, the sixteen year old, was easy to do. Magic and power have a way of making things work. And when he forces his name into Azuela’s class, he knew the trouble would only continue, but she interested him.
For years, they were together and Shin grew right alongside Azuela. Her body dying even while he lived healthy. As an adult beside her, he felt at ease. Her quick life drifts into him giving him reason to run fast and live faster. Even if his life would grant him many more treasured memories.
“Shin!” She calls from her deathbed. Her features gone with age, but her love as strong as ever. “Before I die, I want to tell you.” She takes his hand weakly. He still has his strength, he is a timeless dragon after all. “When I was fifteen, I ate the fruit from your tree.”
“I know.” He nods patting her hand. She grins at him showing off the perfect smile before drifting off into sleep. That slumber she does not wake from. Shin did not grieve her loss. The very next day, he slips into his magic and become a freshman in high school again. Things are different, but his normal average teenager will become lost in a crowd. As long as no one eats his fruit.