[Hi! I recommend reading Bridgett Means Fire before reading this.]
Bridgett finished her drawing and held it up proudly for herself. She held it delicately, fearing her claws would accidentally tear through the thin paper. Bridgett ran a claw over her emerald green scales and pushed her brown hair aside. Her small wings flapped happily as she went to find her father, “Dad! Dad!” She called as she ran out of her room, down the stairs, through the living room and finally stomped into the kitchen. Immediately, the two babies started crying, being awoken from their nap. Her father groaned, “Bridgett,” He looked at her with an exhausted stare. He sat at the counter working on his laptop trying to get some work done. “I’m sorry,” Bridgett looked down at her clawed feet, “I made this for you, dad.” She held the drawing up for him. He took it, looking over the drawing of himself and his daughter, “Its wonderful, princess. Are you gonna draw your siblings and mother next?” He taped it to the fridge along with numerous others. He picked up the babies and gently rocked both of them. “Yeah!” Bridgett gave both of them a light kiss on the cheek. Her face contorted into a disgusted frown, “Ross is stinky,” Her baby brother Ross had his mother’s hair, curly and cream colored. Samantha, the baby sister, was a weresheep like her mother and shared Bridgett and her father’s light brown hair color. “Yeah...” Her father sighed, “I hope your mother is home soon,” He sat the now quiet were sheep back down in the crib and took the boy to the laundry room to change him. “Dad, why do babies cry and poop so much?” “You pooped just as much!” He laughed, “But you didn’t cry a whole lot, to be fair. I think you got that from your mother,” He sighed as he reminisced his deceased first love. “Old mom,” Bridgett had fleeting memories of her mother. She had seen her a few times, mostly in dreams and photos. She wished she could talk to her, she wanted to ask her so many questions, “I should draw old mom!” “Bridgett,” Her father said sternly as he laid the now babbling baby in the crib with his sister, “You know how your mom feels about that stuff.” Bridgett frowned, “She’s watching over us, dad.” Her father looked down, “I know. But Gwen is your mother now, just draw her.” “Why does old mom still watch us?” Bridgett inquired as she watched the two babies make noises at each other. “I don’t know, princess. Next time you see her in a dream, why don’t you ask?” The front door opened and someone quietly entered. The sound of hooves on hardwood echoed through the house. Gwen walked into the kitchen, tired smile on her face. The smile fell off her face when she saw her husband and daughter’s sad faces, “Is something wrong?” “Hi, mom!” Bridgett gave her a hug followed by her father hugging the both of them. He buried his face in her soft neck wool, “Nothing is wrong. Just talking.” Gwen cupped his face in her hands, “You look exhausted dear. Bridgett make sure your father gets some rest. I’ll make dinner soon,” Gwen gave her a pat on the head before checking on the babies. “Honey, I’m making dinner. That’s my job,” Her husband replied. “Theodore,” She pointed a finger at him, using his first name, “You work too hard. Even harder than me on most days! Rest.” “Alright, Gwen,” He sighed, defeated. Bridgett grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him to the couch, forcing him to sit. She climbed into his lap and handed him the remote for the TV and a controller for one of the consoles attached to the TV, “What are you gonna play, dad?” Bridgett asked excitedly. “I just want to watch some TV, princess,” Theodore mumbled. “You never play games anymore,” Bridgett’s disappointment was obvious. “Once those two stop being such a handful, I’ll have more time for games with you, okay?” “You spend more time with them than me.” “Bridgett,” Theodore gave her a sad frown, “They can’t even put food in their own mouths or crawl yet. I have to keep a close eye on them. You’re such a big girl now you can do everything but cook for yourself.” Bridgett didn’t look at him. Gwen wandered over and sat next to them, “There is those sad looks again,” She reached over to pat Bridgett on the head. She dodged her mother’s hand and hopped off of her father’s lap. She trudged towards the stairs, “Bridgett, what’s wrong?” Gwen called. Bridgett didn’t turn around, “Nothing!” She shouted angrily before climbing the stairs. Theodore rubbed his eyes with his palms, “I’m such an awful dad,” He whispered. “Don’t say that!” Gwen gasped cupping his cheeks, “She’s just going through a phase!” She attempted to reassure her husband who gave her a weak smile, “You’re doing great, dear.” “Thanks,” They cuddled on the couch for a time, basking in each others’ company, “Gwen?” “Hm?” The weresheep wrapped her arms around her husband. “We should take the kids to the park tomorrow. Its supposed to be sunny.” “That would be wonderful! We could ask some of my friends if they want to go too!” Gwen beamed. “Sounds good. Let me get a pizza going,” Theodore tried to stand but was pulled back to the couch by Gwen. “I’m doing dinner. Remember?” She gave him a kiss before sitting on his lap, facing him, “But for now, how about we cuddle some more?” Theodore smiled up at her, “Of course, dear.” Bridgett sat at her desk, drawing. The pink desk was covered in claw marks, and markers. She tore up another drawing of her parents looking unhappy while holding two crying babies. She kept drawing herself in the background, incredibly sad. She sulked as she heard her door open, brushing the torn up papers underneath her desk. Gwen sat on the foot of her bed, “Are you alright, honey?” Bridgett grumbled incoherently in response, folding her arms, “Talk to me.” “No,” She grumbled. “Are you not alright or do you refuse to talk to me?” Gwen gently asked. Bridgett slowly turned around and looked at her mother, “I want to spend more time with daddy,” She sniffled, reverting to a much more childish state. “Ooooh, honey,” Gwen wrapped her arms around the small dragon. Gwen was relieved when Bridgett hugged her back, “Maybe your daddy can take you out somewhere this weekend?” “Can you come too, mommy?” Gwen was overjoyed, “Of course! Do you want to go to the park tomorrow?” Bridgett bounced excitedly, “Yes!” She hovered a few inches off the ground as her wings flapped excitedly. She landed and looked at Gwen with wide eyes. “Good flying, Bridgett!” Gwen praised her before patting her head, “Before I know it you’ll be flying to the store to buy me groceries.” “Is that something I have to do?” “No, dear. I know you dislike shopping. Come have dinner, dear,” Gwen left, giving Bridgett a small smile over her shoulder, “Its your favorite~” Bridgett looked back to her torn up drawings and frowned. She wished she had more time to quickly draw something for Gwen. She headed downstairs with a guilty feeling in her gut. Her parents sat across from each other playing footsie under the table. Bridgett’s siblings sat next to them in high chairs, being fed mushy baby food with a spoon. Bridgett sat between her parents, a plate was already there for her, three slices stacked with pepperoni and hot sauce, “Thank you for the food,” Bridgett quietly thanked no one in particular. “You’re welcome, dear. I hope I put enough hot sauce on yours,” Gwen laughed. She took bites of her plain cheese pizza in between feeding her son. “I don’t think she got enough peperoni,” Theodore smiled. “I got enough!” Bridgett huffed smoke from her mouth. “You’re going to set off the fire alarms, dear,” Gwen nervously tried to calm her daughter down. She breathed a sigh of relief as Theodore opened a few windows to air out the smoke, “Do you want to do anything tonight, Bridgett?” “Can we play Lego, papa?” She timidly asked. He nodded, mouth full of pizza. “Aw, you don’t want to play with me?” Gwen feigned disappointment. “Mama can play too!” Bridgett excitedly told her. “Thank you dear. Oh, Ross, don’t spit that out,” Gwen sighed as her son defiantly spat out his baby food. Bridgett giggled. “That one is just gonna be another Bridgett,” Theodore chuckled. Gwen sighed, “I’m already worried about him. He is going to be so popular with our friends’ children. All of them are having girls about his age. Not to mention his sisters.” “No kids of mine will be doing a rumpy pumpy with each other,” Theodore shook his head. He turned to Bridgett, “Keep them safe, okay? I’m counting on you.” He gestured towards her siblings. Bridgett stared at him, wide eyed, “Dad, what's rumpy--” “When you’re older.” “Okay!” “Theodore!” Gwen scowled, “Do not use that kind of language around our children!” “Would you rather me just say it? The S word?” He challenged. “Oh, I know THAT word!” Bridgett proudly announced, “That’s when mom and dad bring out the wine and get in bed together, forcing me to sleep in my own bed.” “And then what?” Gwen asked, mortified. “You wrestle then sleep!” Gwen light out a sigh of relief as her husband stifled a laugh, “Can I get up?” Bridgett showed her father her empty plate. “Go for it, get the Legos out, I’ll be done soon,” He did his best to not laugh at what she had said. Bridgett went to the closet in the entryway and crawled into the back. She pushed aside the vacuum, coats and out of season decorations. She found her prize, a massive green tub full of her father’s old toys. She dragged it out and took it to the living room. She quickly got to work, digging out all the special pieces. Theodore brought over the twins and set them in their playpen before sitting with his draconic daughter on the floor, “I’m building a house!” Bridgett smiled at him. “Building it like I taught you, right?” Her father quickly put a car together. “Right, you make sure the bricks are holding onto each other so they are strong and won’t fall down easy,” Bridgett recited, “If you find any people, I want them.” “Got it. Should I build a boat or plane?” “Plane,” Gwen told him as she sat on the couch nearby and dug through the box. There was a noise from the babies’ play pen. Gwen looked and groaned quietly, “Oh, my little babies.” “What--” Theodore looked and frowned as well, “Let’s go clean them off, Gwen.” “What!?” Bridgett looked up at the two of them. Gwen knelt down to her, “You brother and sister managed to throw up all over themselves. We’ll go clean them up, put them in bed and come back, okay?” Bridgett looked up at her siblings, they did look like they needed a bath, spit up in both of their hair somehow and on Samantha’s wool, “Okay...” She sadly began building her house again. She waited half an hour for her father and mother to return. The house she built was finished, but she had no desire to furnish the house without Gwen’s input. She placed the house she made in the box along with everything her father had built. Bridgett got up and trudged to her room. Gwen sighed as she finished changing her daughter, “How does such a small creature poop so much?” Theodore shook his head, finishing changing his son, “I have no idea. I think Bridgett asked the same thing,” He paused for a moment, “I forgot about playing with Bridgett!” He mentally slapped himself. “She will understand,” Gwen assured him, “Her siblings are a handful for both of us.” “No one told me monster babies were going to be so difficult. Once these two can walk they’re going to be even more of a handful.” “They do everything in synch too!” Gwen laughed, “I will lie them down. Go see your daughter.” He nodded and headed downstairs, knowing better than to argue with his wife. He scanned the living room, then the kitchen and dining room. Bridgett was gone. He sighed and climbed back upstairs and lightly knocked on Bridgett’s door, “You in there, Princess?” There was a low grumble in response. Theodore frowned in response and tried the handle. The door opened only slightly, something was blocking the door, “Princess,” Theodore stayed calm, “Can you let me in, please?” “No,” Bridgett told him, sitting cross legged on her bed, reading. “Bridgett Hope. Let me in.” Bridgett shivered at her father using both her first and middle name; fearful of what would happen if he used her full name, she moved the makeshift barricade. Theodore entered the room, frown on his face, “Hi, daddy,” Bridgett greeted mournfully. “I’m sorry,” He started, dropping to his knees and wrapping his arms around her. “It’s okay, dad,” She hugged him back, “Can we still go to the part tomorrow?” “I don’t know why you thought we wouldn’t,” He chuckled as he lifted the small dragon and put her back in bed. “I was afraid you would leave me here.” Theodore laughed, “I’d never do that, princess,” He finished tucking her into bed and returned her book to her hands, “What stuffed animals do you need tonight?” “The Chief.” “Is that the bufalo?” “Yes.” Theodore dug through piles of toys to find the one she asked for, finally finding it under a discarded dress, “Good night,” He kissed her on the forehead and quietly left the room. He returned to his bedroom. Gwen was already in bed, having put the twins in their room, “Its a bit early for bed isn’t it?” Theodore asked foolishly. “Care for some wine, dear?” Gwen asked him, removing the covers from herself and grabbing the bottle off the floor. Theodore stared at his wife’s lewd form, “Honey. We’re going to stain the sheets.” “We are skipping it? Wonderful! Come to bed, honeycock. Now.” “Can that wait? I’m really worried about Bridgett.” Gwen’s lustful gaze turned to concern, “Come sit with me,” She sat up and put one of Theodore’s shirts over her lingerie, “What’s wrong?” He changed quickly and got in bed with his loving wife, “She’s just been so angry and sad all the time. Have I been doing something wrong?” “Theodore. You are doing your best. That is the most we can ask of you. You are overthinking all of this. Bridgett is just getting older and will be going through puberty soon. Its just a moody phase of her life. Maybe you should be sleeping earlier, this stress sounds like its going to kill you,” Gwen wrapped him in a hug and forced him to lie down. “Hmph,” He folded his arms and looked at her, sighed and spoke quietly, “You’re-- You’re right. I’m overreacting,” He hugged her back. Gwen sat back up, “Rest, honey. Don’t think you’re off the hook though, I’ll have my way with you some other night,” She gave her husband a sly smile. “Sure,” He put his head on her lap and wrapped his arms around her waist. Gwen smiled and ran her fingers through his hair for a few minutes before turning the lamp on and picking up her book. The family sat around the table eating breakfast. Bridgett eagerly devoured her stack of fluffy pancakes. Gwen gave her a worried smile, unsure if her daughter was going to choke. Theodore absentmindedly chewed on his food while browsing his phone, “When did you say she would be here?” He asked Gwen. “She said she would leave at nine, but you know her. She’s quite... eccentric,” Gwen told him with a smile. “Mom, what does that mean?” Bridgett asked with her mouth full. “No speaking with your mouth full, princess,” Theodore reminded her. She quickly swallowed her food, struggling to force it down her throat, “What does eccentric mean?” “Different or strange. Don’t tell her she’s strange.” “Tell who?” Bridgett hadn’t been told who would be joining them. “Maxine. You remember her, right?” Gwen answered. The smile dropped off of Bridgett’s face, “Y-yeah I do.” “Afraid of a little magic, fierce dragon?” A voice cackled. Theodore jumped up, but breathed in relief when he saw it was merely Maxine giving him a sly grin, “I would prefer if you used the front door, Maxine,” Theodore folded his arms. Bridgett started sweating. “As you wish,” She waved her staff and disappeared in a puff of smoke. She knocked on the door. “Bridgett could you get that?” Gwen asked. Bridgett silently shook her head. Gwen sighed and slowly stood and headed for the door. She opened it, surprised to see Maxine was alone, “No husband or security today?” The witch shook her head, “Richard is busy with work today and I wanted Kimiko to have the day off. I know Mother and my mother are going to give me an earful later,” She had bright green eyes and shoulder length, messy black hair. She wore all black robes and a cone shaped wizard hat that her cat ears poked out of, “They don’t think the ‘young lady Hamilton’ can ward off a few assailants,” She scoffed. Her infant was swaddled in a black cloth. In her hands she wielded a staff of dark, gnarled wood with a green, glowing crystal at the top. “Come in, please,” Gwen offered. Maxine thanked her and followed her in, “How are you liking working for Mother?” She asked about their mutual employer and Gwen’s adoptive mother. “She sees the full use of my abilities,” Maxine replied proudly, “She only hires the best and I am quite possibly the best witch in my field on this half of the continent.” “Bridgett, say hello,” Theodore, prodded his daughter. She sat still, not eating, “Hello, Maxine. Looking as much like a witch as always.” She cackled, “I do try my best. Hello, little dragon.” Bridgett got up and hid behind her father, “Hello,” She squeaked. Maxine handed her child to Gwen and got down on one knee, “Come here, I want to show you something~” Bridgett shook her head but was gently pushed towards the witch by her father. Maxine reached up to Bridgett who shook nervously, “Oh? What’s this behind your ear?” Bridgett looked like she might cry. Maxine produced a bouquet of colorful flowers out of thin air just outside of the young dragon’s view, “How did this get there?” She presented the flowers to Bridgett. “Woah!” Bridgett took the flowers from her, eyes wide in amazement. “What do you say, Bridgett?” Gwen reminded her. “Thank you,” She squeaked, giving the flowers to Gwen who put them in a vase with water. “Still think I’m scary?” The witch asked with a small frown. “N-no,” Bridgett lied, dashing to the garage. Maxine stood and smelled the air of the house, “There’s that strange arcane smell again. Are you sure none of your children have latent magical talents?” “Yes, we had them all tested a few months back,” Theodore cleaned the table as he reminded her. “But they could still awaken to it,” She reminded him. “Well, yeah. You keep telling me that. Why are you so keen on that happening?” Theodore asked as Gwen loaded the twins in a stroller. “I just want my little darling here to have a magic rival growing up,” Maxine told him excitedly, “EVERYONE I know that can cast spells tells me that having a rival in your field of magic is the greatest feeling. My field is so niche I never had one.” “Just wait for Kimiko to have her litter. You’ve got three chances there,” Gwen told her, “Plus her husband is friends with that local Sabbath coven.” Maxine frowned, “I have no intention of teaching my children to beat up little girls. Unless they mess with me.” “Can we go to the park now?” Bridgett asked meekly. “Of course, princess. You two ready?” Theodore turned to the two ladies as he offered a piggy back ride to Bridgett. She gladly accepted, giving the ball she grabbed to her mother. “Mph,” Maxine huffed, “Only because Bridgett wants to go.” “She's coming too?” Bridgett whispered in her father’s ear. He nodded, “So your mother isn’t bored out of her mind while we play.” “She could play with Ross and Samantha,” She pouted. “Oh, come now,” Maxine frowned, “I gave you flowers and everything.” Bridgett grumbled, “She can come.” “Wonderful!” Maxine started rolling up her sleeves. “We’re walking, right?” Gwen asked nervously. The witch looked disappointed, “Yes, yes. I know how you abhor teleportation, dear Gwen,” She shook her head, “My kikimora best friend, my weresheep almost sister, and my jinko bodyguard all get nauseous after teleporting.” “What about Fíon and her husband?” Gwen asked as she put her coat on and grabbed Bridgett’s coat. The group was out the door and headed to the nearby park. Theodore shook his head at the mention of the drunk, foul mouthed fairy “Vomits on teleport. She does at least. Sean is very receptive to magic much like my husband. Your husband is also able to keep his stomach down, at least. If you want any magic glyphs put on him just let me know~” Maxine smiled at her. “Glyphs? Isn’t Richard’s back covered in those?” “Yes! I did them myself! Let me tell you what I can do with them, dear!” Maxine proudly began to talk about magic. Gwen had a vague idea what she was going on about. Theodore and Bridgett tuned out the women, “Dad, are we gonna play catch?” He nodded, “Of course! Are you gonna play on the monkey bars?” “Yes! I wanna see dad jump off them again!” “I nearly shattered my knees last time, princess. I don’t think I can. Gwen would kill me too,” He sighed, “If I didn’t kill myself on them.” “Then you could be a zombie dad!” Bridgett excitedly realized. “Bridgett,” Maxine interrupted, “How has your flight been recently?” “Fine,” She mumbled, burying her face in her father’s short hair. “Tell her what you did last night!” Gwen prompted her. “I flew a little bit,” Bridgett looked up at the beaming cat wizard. “Good job! I can’t wait to see you flying!” She smiled at the small dragon. Bridgett went back to being quiet in the presence of the cat woman. After a short time, the group had arrived at the park. Bridgett hopped off of her father, “Throw the ball! Throw the ball!” Bridgett loved playing catch even if it was an incredibly simple game. More than anything she was just excited to be playing with her father. They threw the ball back and forth, her father throwing it further and further for her. Gwen and Maxine sat on a blanket on the damp grass, children leaning up against them. The warm sun beat down on an otherwise cold day. Each of the small children were bundled up in coats and blankets. Maxine turned to Gwen after watching Bridgett throw the ball particularly hard, “She will be a very powerful girl someday. Someday soon.” “I know. It makes me a bit nervous to see my little girl become that. A little girl that can turn into a huge dragon and breath fire and fly,” Gwen smiled, “She’s been raised well, I know she will grow into a wonderful woman.” “I’m gonna throw this one far!” Bridgett cockily told her father. He panted, “Alright, just not too--” Bridgett lobbed the ball past her father and into the tree line surrounding the park, “I’ll get it!” Bridgett ran past her father and dove into the treeline. She pushed past bushes as she looked for the ball. She found it in a small clearing. Another child was examining it. She had horns on her head, hoofed feet and paw-like hands that ended in sharp, carefully painted claws. She wore an outfit similar to Kimiko-- an all black kimono. She looked at Bridgett with large red eyes, “C-can I have my ball back?” Bridgett asked. She got a similar feeling from this strange girl as if she was interacting with Maxine. She felt fear. Four other small girls leapt from the trees, making Bridgett yelp. They examined Bridgett closely. The other four girls were a purple familiar, a werecat, a kunoichi, and a witch. Each wore all black and a few had most of their face covered by black cloth, “Hey, kid,” The familiar poked at her white dress, “Wanna be a shinobi?” Bridgett looked at her, incredibly confused, “A ninja,” She still didn’t really get it. The baphomet hissed at her, “What have I told you about asking actual children to join!?” She took a deep breath, “Hello, little dragon girl,” Bridgett almost scoffed, standing nearly a foot taller than each of them, “How are you today?” “F-fine.” “This is your ball, yes? Are you playing with anyone or just throwing it around yourself?” “I’m playing ball with my dad. I got upset at him yesterday but we’re having fun today.” “Ever thought of just running away?” The werecat asked with a mischievous smirk. “R-running away?” “Uh huh. Your parents get mad and you run away and join the circus. Or a coven,” The familiar added, “Our coven.” The baphomet pinched the bridge of her nose, “Here,” She threw the ball to Bridgett, “If you do run away, come find us,” She gave Bridgett a card with an address on it. “O-okay. Thank you,” Bridgett left quickly. As she walked back to her parents, both now sitting on the blanket. “Everything okay?” Gwen asked. Bridgett nodded, “Are you going to play more?” “Can I rest first?” She sat on the blanket next to her mother. She still had what those strange girls had told her stuck in her head. She had read books about kids going on wonderful adventures after running away from home. “Of course,” Gwen ran her fingers through her panting husband’s hair. “Did you talk to anyone in there?” Maxine asked after tasting something strange on the air. Bridgett looked her in the eyes, “No,” She lied confidently. “Alright,” Maxine shrugged. “Dad, can we play now?” Bridgett changed her focus. Her father was holding Samantha up to his face and making goofy noises, making her laugh, “Dad?” Bridgett repeated, a bit of ache in her heart. “Huh?” He shook his head and handed the small weresheep back to Gwen, “Yeah, yeah let’s play more.” Bridgett sat at her desk, drawing. It was Monday evening, Gwen was working late and her father was watching the twins. She finished her drawing and hopped up. She could already hear her siblings crying as she headed down the stairs. Her father sat at the counter going over forms, a baby in both arms. He heard Bridgett’s claws on the wooden floor and turned around to her, “Hey, what's up, Princess?” He asked, bouncing each child on one of his knees. “I drew this for you and mom,” It was a picture of Gwen and Theodore standing in a field holding hands. He looked at each baby and frowned, “Hm? Oh, very nice, Princess,” He gave her a weak smile, exhaustion bleeding through. He frowned as neither baby would calm down. “Are... Are you going to put it up on the fridge?” Bridgett asked meekly. Theodore closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths, something that Gwen had recommended. He opened his eyes, calmed down a bit. Bridgett was still holding the picture up for him to take, “Can I put it up a little later? I’ve got my hands full here.” “But-- But you always put it up!” A bit of smoke started to come out of her mouth. “Princess. Daddy is really stressed out today, please be patient.” “Why do they get you now and I have to wait!?” Bridgett demanded, a large puff of smoke came out of her mouth. “Bridgett,” Theodore was shocked, “You’re upset with me?” “Yes!” She shouted, scaring her nearly calmed down siblings, “You love them more than you love me!” Theodore started to panic, “No, no, Bridgett! I love you just as much, Princess!” He was trying to juggle crying babies and an enraged dragon daughter. She glared up at him, “Liar!” “Bridgett--” “The other kids at school say you don’t love me or old mommy because you got married again!” She hissed. Theodore froze, appalled at what he had heard, “You got married again and had two stupid babies and you love them more!” “Go to your room,” Theodore commanded firmly. Bridgett recoiled at the harsh tone he used. A glare returned to her eyes and smoke poured from her lips. She stomped off, cracking the wood beneath her heavy claws. She turned around when she got to the bottom of the stairs, “I hate you!” She screamed at her father before stomping up the stairs and slamming her door. Bridgett immediately got to work. She dumped her school backpack out and started putting things in it. Markers and paper went in first followed by a spare dress. She threw two of her favorite stuffed animals into the bag and a doll. She looked around her room for anything else she wanted to take. An old photo of her biological mother, Emily, stared at her from a shelf. Bridgett grabbed it and stuff it in the bag. She threw open her window and shivered as the cold winter air blew into the room. Bridgett clawed at the mesh that separates her from freedom, easily tearing through as if it were paper. She climbed out onto the roof. With all her might, she flapped her wings and took off with much more force than she expected. She didn’t know where she was going, but that wouldn’t stop her now. Gwen returned home after an exhausting day of meetings and interviews. She had just been in a business meeting with the higher ups at her job at a fancy restaurant. She was ready for a relaxing evening with her children and lovely husband. She walked through the front door with a smile on her face and a bag of food for Bridgett and Theodore in her hand, “I’m hooooome!” She called. There was no answer in the eerily quiet house, “Husband?” She stepped into the living room. Her two precious babies were sitting in little chairs staring up at the TV, “Theodore?” Gwen knew that her husband hated just putting his children in front of the TV to entertain them. She stepped into the kitchen. Her husband sat at the kitchen table, facing away from her. He was in the dark and had his face buried in his hands, “Honey?” She gently touched him on the shoulder. He jumped, “Huh?” He turned to face her. “Have you been crying? What happened?” The hurt was obvious on his face. He wiped his face and quickly pulled her into a tight hug, sobbing quietly, “What’s wrong?” She repeated, afraid as to what was going on. “I fought with Bridgett,” Theodore told her quietly. Gwen scoffed, “Oh, that girl is just--” “She told me that I don’t love her and that she hates me.” Gwen shivered, “Okay, maybe this is a little more than a phase. I brought her favorite food, I’ll go talk to her,” She pat her husband’s head and let him go, “I’ll be right back,” Gwen walked up the stairs and knocked on Bridgett’s door, “Bridgett? I brought you some food~” She frowned as she heard no response, “I’m coming in,” Gwen entered the chilly room. She looked around and glared at the mess, “Bridgett? Where are you?” She looked at the window, going to close it. She gasped as she saw the clawed through screen on the window. She dropped the food and ran out of the room, “Theodore!” She shouted as she ran. “What? What?” He asked, jumping up as he heard the panic in Gwen’s voice. “Bridgett’s gone!” “What? Gone?” Theodore refused to believe her. “Ou-- Out the window! She must have flown out!” Theodore sat down, hand on his forehead, terror on his face, “Wha-- What do we do?” “Uhm...” Gwen tried to stay calm, “I’m so stupid, I should have seen there was a problem. I didn’t want to believe anything could be wrong in my perfect family.” Theodore looked up at her, “Now is not the time, we need to look for her.” “I’ll call... Maxine! And Mother! And... The police?” Gwen scrolled through her phone. “I’ll take my car and go look for her,” Theodore stumbled as he tried to stand. “No. No you’re not. You’re going to have a panic attack at any moment. Give me one minute.” Maxine lounged on the couch, leaning against her husband, Richard. Their baby slept peacefully in her crib nearby, “Maxy, can you pass me--” Richard was interrupted by Maxine’s phone going off. She held up a finger, asking him to pause, “You have reached the lovely lady Hamilton, what can I do for you--” Gwen interrupted her, “Bridgett ran away. I need your--” “Husband, get the baby!” Maxine leapt up and sprinted to her study, grabbing her staff, magic bag and crystal ball, “How long has she been gone?” “Half an hour maybe? Are you--” “Maxy, what the hell is going on?” Richard demanded, holding the still dozing baby in his arms. “No time. On my way, Gwen!” With a wave of her staff, she teleported the three of them into their friends’ living room. Richard shook himself and looked between Gwen and Theodore, “What happened?” “Take Theodore’s car and go look for her,” Maxine commanded as she prepared to scry. “Who?” He pleaded, still wholly confused. “Bridgett!” Maxine rolled her eyes and went back to her orb. He understood the severity of the situation now. Maxine spent more components than usual as she quickly casted the spell. “She ran off,” Gwen explained, “We have no idea where she could have gone,” She handed off her husband’s keys. “Aha!” Maxine exclaimed as the arcane in the energy built up. The curtains billowed and a fog filled the room. The fog dissipated and Maxine peered through the crystal ball. She grumbled a few words and looked up at the three people looking at her expectantly, “I can’t get a clear vision of her-- yet. She is... close, though. I think?” “Alright, I’ll head downtown,” Richard told Gwen. She nodded, “I’ll loop around here then head towards her school. Dear,” She gently spoke to Theodore, absolutely devastated by the day’s events, “Stay here in case she comes back,” He nodded. Bridgett sat on the pavement of the lookout point. She had come up here many times before with her parents. It was her favorite spot, she loved to watch the sun set here on warm summer nights. It was early winter so the sun was already set, but Bridgett had no idea where else to go. She shivered as she drew a picture in the dark, what little light the moon gave her was just enough. She was drawing a picture of the sun. She held it up to the sky and slowly moved it down, making a woosh noise with her mouth as she imagined the beautiful colors of the sun setting. She shivered as a cold wind blew through her. She wore nothing more than a simple dress. She shook herself, she was getting tired. She dug through her bag, realising she hadn’t eaten anything. She frowned, she didn’t have any food either. Cold, hungry and tired, she started to cry, “D-daddy, mommy,” She wailed. She heard a noise, similar to her claws scraping on the pavement. Bridgett stood up, facing the noise, holding her backpack to her chest to protect it. A tall figure strutted towards her. A full grown dragon woman wearing torn and cut up jeans and a thick brown hoodie that her wings poked through, “What are you doing up here all alone, kid?” The woman asked in a gruff voice. Maxine blubbered at her with no real response. The woman sighed, “Here,” She took off her coat and offered it to the crying little dragon girl. “T-thank you,” Bridgett put the warm, comfortable coat on. The overhead lights that used to illuminate the concrete had long since died, no one willing to replace them. She struggled to make out any details of the dragon woman’s form as if she was shrouded in even more darkness. “Wish I had some food for you,” She sat on the curb, staring at Bridgett, “Run away from home, huh?” Bridgett nodded, “I did the same once. You do it once then realise you should never do it again. No food or even warm clothes?” “N-no,” Bridgett whined. “Hey, stop crying. Its okay, your mom should be here soon,” She opened her arms, offering a hug to the young dragon. Bridgett pushed herself into the warm hug, fully trusting the stranger. Gwen drove through the night, sticking her head out the window to call for her daughter. Her heart raced as she passed row after row of dark houses. Maxine had not called her again to give her a location yet. A shiver ran down her spine as a voice whispered to her. It felt like it was inside her skull, telling her where to go. She couldn’t hear the words but it painted a familiar picture in her mind. The cliffside that Theodore took her to watch the sun set. She turned around and sped off towards where the voice called her. “How are you holding up?” Maxine asked between casts of her scry. “I don’t know,” Theodore admitted, holding all three babies in his arms, rocking them gently, “Aren’t you supposed to be the best at this?” He gave a weak smile as he teased the cat witch. “Your daughter is a dragon! Incredibly powerful! She has a built in antimagic even this young!” Maxine frowned and turned back to her work, “I can’t imagine the feeling of your own flesh and blood saying that she hates you,” She told Theodore quietly. “Telling me that I don’t love her or her mother as well,” He sat one of the babies down and wiped his eyes. “She said you don’t love Gwen!?” Maxine stopped her casting, so confused by what she had just heard. “Emily,” He corrected her. Maxine thought for a few moments, “Oh!” She snapped her fingers, “I forget that she is not blood related to Gwen. I know its obvious, but that little dragon is just as gentle as Gwen. How does that girl get these ideas in her head?” “School apparently. Maybe I am a bad dad. I can’t juggle everything,” He sighed. “Gwen’s told me everything you do. You cook, clean, take care of three little bundles of joy and run your own small business. I don’t think anyone alive could juggle all of that. I don’t believe you would even eat if Gwen didn’t force you to.” “I don’t know what you’re getting at.” “I’m saying that you are working very hard for your family that you love very much. Maybe Bridgett just needs someone else to remind her of that.” “Like who?” “I’m sure Gwen can talk some sense into her. Maybe... Someone else?” Maxine gave him a mischievous smile. “That’s mommy,” Bridgett pointed to the drawing she had quickly sketched, “and daddy. There’s Ross and Samantha too!” “Wow, very nice!” The stranger smiled. “Thank you. My family is great,” Bridgett boasted having forgotten about her fight with her father. “Do you love them?” The older dragon asked. Bridgett paused for a few moments, “I... I think so. But I don’t know if they love me.” The older dragon chuckled, “Do you really think that?” “Dad spends more time with his babies than me,” Bridgett grumbled. “And that means he doesn’t love you?” “Yeah.” “Bridgett,” The young dragon cocked her head, she hadn’t told the woman her name, “Theodore loves you very much. If he didn’t he wouldn’t have gone through all that pain for you. Gwen loves you too. You have three parents that love you,” The older dragon pat Bridgett’s head, “Your siblings are going to love you too when you get older too!” “Three parents?” “I love you as well, little lady.” “Old mommy?” The tears returned to Bridgett’s eyes. “Its Emily. Gwen is mommy now. You adopted her as your mother, remember?” She gave Bridgett another hug. “R-Right,” The little dragon wiped her eyes and looked back up at the apparition, “Oh! Daddy wanted me to ask you something. Why do you watch over us?” Emily laughed, “Because I love you all. Your father is also just as clueless as when I was with him. He needs all the help he can get,” She looked up, “Sounds like Gwen’s here.” A car sped into the parking lot and skid to a halt. Headlights illuminated Bridgett and Emily across the lot. Gwen jumped out and slowly approached, “Mommy!” Bridgett ran to her after scooping up her backpack and markers. “Bridgett!” Gwen picked her up in a hug. She looked up at the dragon across the parking lot, “Thank you.” Emily gave her a small smile, “Of course, Gwen. Oh, Bridgett. Give that coat back to your father, would you?” “Okay, Emily!” Bridgett waved at her. “E-Emily?” Gwen looked up just in time to see Emily wave, turn around and walk into the darkness. The weresheep stood dumbfounded at what she had just seen, “Can we go home? I’m really hungry,” Bridgett whined, still wrapped in the old brown coat. “O-of course. Do you want to stop for a burger?” Gwen asked as she loaded her daughter in the car. “I want to see daddy.” “Alright. Straight home it is. Oh, I should call Richard, he’s out there looking for you.” “Mhm,” Bridgett sleepily made a noise, the heat and comforting smell of the coat was putting her right to sleep. “Everyone is worried sick about you young lady, don’t think you get to sleep yet!” Bridgett was already asleep. Gwen struggled to carry a sleeping Bridgett inside. She was still wrapped in the coat, “Hello?” Gwen whispered, entering the living room. A tired Maxine, Richard and Theodore gestured in greeting, “Looks like someone tuckered herself out,” Maxine cackled quietly. Bridgett woke up and looked around, “Put me down,” She asked. Gwen set her down and watched her walk to her father, “Daddy?” “I should be so mad at you right now... But I’m just glad you’re okay,” He scooped his daughter up in a tight hug, “Never scare me like that again.” “I won’t. I love you.” “I love you too. Don’t think you’re not grounded, little lady.” “I think me and my hubby will take our leave,” Maxine gave a small bow, “Poker next weekend, right?” She smelled the air around Bridgett. The heavy arcane scent made her sneeze. “Of course, Maxine. Thank you again,” Gwen gave her an exhausted smile. With a nod and a wave of her staff, the witch vanished taking her husband and daughter with her. “I’m sorry,” Bridgett mumbled into her father’s chest. “Thank you,” He sighed, “Are you hungry?” “No. I want to sleep. Can I sleep in your bed?” “Sure, Princess,” He kissed her on the forehead. She took the coat off and offered it to him, “What-- Where did you get this?” “Mommy gave it to me. Oh, she said that--” Bridgett excitedly began to explain. “Stop,” Theodore ordered, “I know what she said. I can see it in those eyes of yours,” He brought the coat to his nose, taking a deep breath of the nostalgic smell. Coconut and vanilla. He poked a finger through the massive tears in the back, “Take good care of this coat. Hopefully you’ll fit into it one day.” “Okay!” Bridgett grabbed her father’s hand as he got up to go upstairs. “So I get to put the babies to bed by myself?” Gwen asked with a pout. “I’ll do it!” Bridgett carefully picked up Ross and carried him upstairs to her parents' room after quickly putting her pajamas on. Theodore grabbed Samantha and took her upstairs as well. Bridgett happily lie in the middle of the bed, parents on both sides of her and a baby in each arm. After a round of goodnight kisses, she closed her eyes. Two sets of arms wrapped around her, warm and loving. She felt a third presence, something ghostly yet comforting. A love that transcended life or death. It was the best sleep she had in a very long time.