"Tell me again, what's the point of this?" Crona asked, giving an exasperated sigh. It was the following week after the final exams. The young dragons had all passed their courses with flying colors and were eagerly awaiting to be moved up to the next level of their training. But before they could be moved up to the next level, the young dragons had a public event to attend.
"Consider it a reward of some sort." Cryus smiled as he walked alongside the white dragoness. The two of them had been busily gathering wildflowers from the gardens and meadows beyond the dragon city all day. Both wore a harness with a basket on each side which they could transport the flowers in.
"A simple pat on the back would be reward enough," Crona mumbled. "But to throw a ball, that just seems a bit out of the norm."
"Not at all." Cryus shook his head. "We have these events at least twice a year, if not more."
"And that's just for us passing our classes?" Crona raised a skeptical brow.
"Pretty much." Cryus nodded. "They're actually a lot of fun." The water dragon gazed at Crona out of the corner of his eye. "That is if you have someone to go with."
Crona's wings ruffled slightly but she pretended to not hear the last part of the guardian's comment. As the two entered the main courtyard, they found the grounds to be even busier than when they had left. Dragons of all ages and sizes hustled back and forth bringing food and decorations while trying to give directions to one another about where everything went.
"There you are," Terra called out when she saw Crona and Cryus return. " We were just hoping to catch you right about now."
"Of course," Cryus nodded with a smile. "What did you need us for?"
"The banquet is going to be held over in the North West corner of the courtyard." Terra pointed a talon to a large row of baskets, containing various overripe fruits. "We need someone to help decorate the area so it doesn't just look like a bundle of food."
"Can do." Cryus saluted. "Come on Crona." The white dragoness only rolled her eyes and followed after him.
"Do you think that Crona likes Cryus more than Certo?" Amp whispered.
"I doubt it." Terra shook her head. "I'm certain that this ball we're having will get her to realize her feelings for Certo."
"Do you honestly believe that?" Amp raised a skeptical brow. He was still not completely sold on the idea that Crona supposedly liked Certo.
"I think so." Terra nodded thoughtfully. "But I suppose we'll find out later tonight." She stared across the yard to see Certo along with Vixen, Katana, Kris, Ulu and Sabre all working together to hang up the lanterns that would line the perimeter of the academy. The girls were excited to be around the black dragon as usual, but Sabre seemed to be keeping a weary eye out for anyone who may report her to her parents. Certo was busy hovering in the air, lifting the string of lanterns up as Vixen proceeded to light each wick. "Now my conundrum is how to get those five away from Certo so that he and Crona can spend the evening together."
Amp nearly laughed out loud. "Good luck with that."
"Oh, you're going to help, believe me." Terra gave him a devilish grin. The smirk disappeared from Amp's face.
"We'll see you later tonight, Certo!" Vixen and the girls called as they left the academy for the afternoon. The black dragon only watched them leave with a blank stare on his face. Once they were out of sight he shook his head and headed for Terra and Amp's home. As he walked away, Terra and Amp followed after the girls, making sure Certo did not spot them. Vixen and the others were busy giggling to themselves when Terra and Amp caught up to them.
"Hey you two." Ulu smiled once the couple had joined their group. "What are you doing way out here? I thought your home was on the other side of the city."
"Of course it is." Terra laughed. "We're just here on business."
"Business?" The girls chimed in together.
"Like what?" Katana asked curiously.
"It involves Certo," Amp muttered.
"Yeah," Terra nodded. "We have reason to believe that Crona really does like Certo."
"What? No way!" Vixen laughed with a dismissive wave of her paw. "That stuck up dragoness?"
"I know what you're thinking," Terra held her paw up to silence any more accusations. "But hear me out. We've been watching Crona and Certo for a while and there are just certain things we've seen to believe that the way she acts towards him is just a facade."
"Is that so?" Kris turned and sat on her haunches to listen. "Like what?"
"Well," Terra scratched her chin nervously. "If you remember when Certo somehow got that injury on his hind leg, Crona volunteered to help take care of him." Amp glanced over at his mate, who continued to keep a straight face. "And you remember the outburst she gave when you five were all over him right?"
"How could we forget?" Sabre rolled her eyes.
"Well, if she didn't like Certo in the slightest then she would have just let it pass. Don't you agree?"
"She does have a point there." Ulu nodded to her friends. "Maybe Crona really does like Certo but she's not very good at making her feelings known."
"I knew it!" Vixen snapped. "I knew she was jealous of us!"
"No you didn't." Kris laughed. "You just guessed."
"But I was still right, wasn't I?"
"Okay, but still," Terra grabbed their attention before the argument could proceed any further. "We need your help if we're going to get those two together at all tonight."
"At the ball?" Ulu's brows jumped.
"Yes." Terra nodded. "We need you guys to make sure Certo and Crona see each other. Alone."
"That shouldn't be too hard." Katana giggled.
"The only problem is getting them together." Ulu sighed. Certo does strike me as having a stubborn streak but Crona seems even worse."
"You have no idea," Terra pondered to herself.
"So what's the plan going to be?" Vixen sat down as well and began to fidget in anticipation.
Terra smiled slyly. "Alright girls, listen up."
As Terra went on to explain her plan, she failed to realize that a pair of dragons were watching them from a nearby alley.
"I what!?" Crona gasped in astonishment. It was late afternoon, moving on to the evening. The sun was already beginning to set in the distance and the decorated lanterns could be clearly seen up at the academy.
"You have to attend," Terra repeated. "It's mandatory."
"What? Says who?" Crona huffed.
"It's one of those things that are just expected of the students." Terra shrugged casually. "We're all expected to attend. It's supposed to be a social event so we're all required to be social."
"That's stupid!" Crona nearly spat.
"Oh, come on, Crona," Terra smiled and gave her a playful bump with her hips. "It might be fun if you give it a try."
Crona thought back to the times she had visited Warfang during the guardian inaugurations. "Thought about it. Not interested," She grumbled.
"Oh, stop being such a sour puss." Terra stuck her nose up and pranced about in front of her. "You're going and that's final."
"You make it sound like I was trying to get out of it." Crona narrowed her eyes at the grey dragoness.
"Technically you were." Terra smirked. "Come on, we need to get you prettied up."
"Excuse me?" Crona raised a brow. "I don't do the whole dress up bit."
"Well you sure aren't going in your usual attire." Terra pointed a talon at Crona's breast plate. "It's a special event. You should wear something you don't usually get to."
"Like what?" Crona demanded, pointing to her breast plate. "I wear this all the time. It's not exactly informal."
"True." Terra nodded, tapping her chin with her talon as she thought to herself. After a long moment an idea popped into her mind. "Aha! I've got it!" She exclaimed with a wide grin. Crona's eyes locked with the ice dragoness's and she felt her stomach churn.
"Uh oh," she thought to herself.
Certo stood over in the corner of the academy courtyard with Amp standing next to him. The young lightning dragon was anxiously looking around the crowd of dragons trying to spot his mate. The young guardian had convinced Certo to come with him to the ball and help supervise if he did not wish to take part in the festivities. The black dragon had agreed, but rather reluctantly.
"Where is she?" Amp grumbled to himself as he continued to scan the crowd for Terra. Certo glanced at him for a moment before closing his eyes. A gentle wind blew across the academy and through the dragon city. After he locked onto the ice dragoness, Certo opened his eyes.
"She just arrived," He muttered. "And it looks like she brought along the know-it-all snow queen."
"Oh?" Amp raised a brow, pretending to act surprised. "I never would have thought Crona would be the type to show up to an event like this."
"That makes two of us," Certo thought as he stared inquisitively at the young dragon.
"Well, if you don't need me here, I'm going to go have some fun with my honey." Amp bowed slightly, excusing himself. "If you need anything don't hesitate to go for it."
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Certo asked, narrowing his eyes at Amp.
"Uh, don't worry about it." Amp waved nervously. "You'll do fine. Just don't be afraid of having a little fun." The young dragon disappeared into the crowd, leaving Certo in a puzzled state.
As he made his way through the crowd of schoolmates, Amp bumped into Sabre and Katana.
"Hey you two. Terra and Crona just showed up."
"That's good and all but I think we have a problem." Katana said shakily.
"Uh oh," Amp's eyes grew wide. "What's wrong?"
"Look," Sabre pointed across the courtyard and Amp's jaw dropped.
"Aw crap." He groaned. On the other side of the courtyard, he could see the hulking mass that was Titanus. As usual, he had his little posse trailing along behind him, making eyes at the girls nearby, only to get turned away with disgusted huffs.
"What do we do?" Sabre asked, almost frightened by the sight of the bully.
"Wait here," Amp ordered. "Don't let him out of your sight." He disappeared into the crowd again searching frantically for Terra. At last he caught her scent and forced his way over to her.
"Amp, there you are." The grey dragoness smiled. She was wearing a flower tied to a ribbon around her ankle and Amp found himself slightly lost in her beauty.
"Wow," he gasped. Terra blushed when their eyes met. "You look gorgeous."
Terra giggled and gave him a flirty wink. "You're looking pretty good yourself there, stud. Where's Certo hanging about?"
Amp's attention snapped back to reality. "Oh, uh... about that."
Terra's smile disappeared. "What's wrong? Did he disappear somewhere?"
"No, not yet anyways." Amp gritted his teeth and looked back over his shoulder. "But we do have a problem. A big one."
"How big?" Terra asked looking around. It was then she caught sight of Titanus. "Oh, that big."
"Yeah," Amp cringed. "Did you know he was going to be here?"
"No, I didn't." Terra shook her head. "I thought he wasn't going to show considering he wasn't around to help with preparations."
"Damn it," Amp cursed, digging his claws into the ground. "He must have had his cronies keeping a look out for Crona."
Terra looked her mate in the eye worriedly. "Amp, we can't let him near Crona. He'll ruin our entire operation."
"I know, I know," Amp hissed. "But what do we do? We can't exactly convince him to move along now."
"Terra! Amp!" The couple turned to see Katana and Sabre hurrying towards them. "We just spoke to Ulu. She says Vixen and Kris have Cryus occupied at the other end of the courtyard. Seems like they've got things under control over there." Across the courtyard, Vixen and Kris nearly had Cryus pinned against a wall, making very flirty gestures towards him, doing everything femininely possible to keep the young guardian distracted. Cryus considered himself a gentleman but even these girls were pushing his libido to the limits.
"So that just leaves out big tub of lard there," Terra growled, glaring at Titanus who was busy scanning the crowd for Crona. "How are we supposed to get Crona and Certo to notice each other with him in the way?"
"Wait, that's it!" Amp exclaimed. "I'll be right back."
Crona sat at the edge of the crowd, her cheeks burning with embarrassment. "Darn it all, why me of all dragons?" Several young males made side glances at her as they walked by, several with their female escorts slapped the males with their tail spades to straighten them out. Crona only pretended to smile as each male eyed her keenly. Terra had grabbed a red satin cloth from her family's storage and tied it into a very attractive bow around Crona's neck.
"I feel totally ridiculous wearing this." The white dragoness grumbled to herself, "So what if I look pretty. Who really cares around here? Cryus maybe, but that's about it."
"Well don't say that now," a gruff voice interrupted her private conversation. "I think you look just as hot with or without that bow." Crona turned her head and her eyes grew wide.
"You," she hissed and backed away only to bump into one of Titanus's goons. The young male snickered and shoved her closer to the blue fire breather.
"So you did miss me." Titanus smirked. "I've been looking for you for a long time, babe."
Crona's lip curled. "You did not just call me babe."
"Oh, I can call you whatever your heart desires, hot stuff." Titanus leaned his head down close to Crona's. "What do you say we go dance for a bit before we get out of here for a little private time."
Crona felt her temper rise. She wanted to incinerate this smug, self-centered dragon where he stood but she was unable to summon her magic with this many bystanders around.
"How about we don't." She spat in his face. "Besides, I'm not here for you!"
Titanus recoiled when the saliva hit his snout. "Oh really? Then who are you here with?" Crona had had enough. She waved her paw dismissively stopping time completely.
"Damn it Terra. This is all your fault," Crona growled to herself. She began to make her way through the cluster of time-frozen bodies until she spotted two familiar faces. Just ahead, Amp was leading Certo over in her direction. The black dragon looked about as dumb as Crona usually viewed him, but after a quick glance over her shoulder at Titanus, she began to rethink her opinion of him. "It's a long shot." She thought to herself. Crona took a deep breath before releasing her hold on time. She swiftly marched over to Certo and Amp and grabbed Certo in the crook of her wing before dragging him off.
"Hey!" Certo exclaimed in surprise at being grappled away.
"Excuse us Amp, I need this idiot for a moment," Crona called over her shoulder, leaving the young dragon in a state of bewilderment.
"Where the heck did you come from?" Certo demanded, shoving the dragoness's wing away. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Will you shut up and stop drawing attention to us?" Crona hissed ducking low. "Follow me and I'll explain everything."
"What's the big idea?" Certo growled as he followed Crona through the crowd of dragons.
"I need your help with something, that's what."
"Like what? And since when have you ever needed my help to begin with?"
"Look, I don't like it any more than you do, Darky. But right now I have a big thorn in my tail and its name is Titanus."
Certo stopped and stiffened. "Titanus? He's here?" Crona pulled his head close and pointed through the masses of dragons. On the opposite side of the yard Certo spotted the hulking dragon looking around in confusion. "Okay, so Titanus is here. Why are you coming to me?"
"Because he wants to dance, that's why."
"So what? At least he's not trying to..."
"He even added that to the end of it. Believe me," Crona growled staring at her talons.
"Never mind then." Certo rolled his eyes. "But why do you want my help?"
"Because you're here and you're convenient," Crona stated bluntly.
"Gee, thanks. That makes me feel a whole lot better."
"Look on the bright side," Crona smirked at the black dragon. "At least I hate you less than I do Titanus."
"Will you just tell me what you want me to do, already!"
"Just dance with me." Crona spat without even thinking. "Make it look like we're here together."
Certo's cheeks burned deep red. "Like... we're a couple?"
Now it was Crona's turn to blush. "If it means keeping that scum bag away from me, I suppose I can live with it." She looked up into Certo's eyes, his crimson one almost glowing in the lantern light. "But I'm not going to enjoy it."
"That I can agree to." Certo nodded.
"Then let's get this over with." Crona ordered in a low hiss before wrapping her tail around Certo's neck and dragging him to the middle of the crowd.
"Do you mind?" Certo growled, trying to pull against her.
"Not at all, if it makes you uncomfortable." Crona snickered. Once in the middle of the courtyard she hunkered down below the vision of the other dragons around them. "As soon as the next dance begins we're going to start. Got it?"
"Yeah," Certo nodded. "You know what kind of dance we're going to do right?"
"Um," Crona suddenly wore a blank stare on her face. She had been so busy trying to come up with a plan to get away from Titanus that she had completely forgotten the fact that she had never danced before in her life, let alone with a partner.
Certo rolled his eyes. "For being such a smart girl you sure can be narrow minded sometimes."
"Shut up!" Crona hissed.
"No, you shut up. And follow my lead." Certo ordered. By now the draconic symphony was beginning to switch numbers. The tempo of the music slowed down and soon, many of the couples began to enter into the dancing circle as well.
"It's now or never, Certo," Crona hissed, glancing over at Titanus who was still scanning the sea of bodies for her.
Certo nodded and began to circle Crona. The dragoness paused for a moment, confused as to what he was doing. After a moment Crona realized the path Certo was walking and mirrored his movements, step by step. Certo extended his wing out to Crona who in turned extended hers as well.
"Amp," Terra called as she hurried over to her mate. "Where were you?"
"I had Certo," Amp explained. "But Crona just sort of appeared out of nowhere and grabbed him away from me."
"Crona grabbed Certo?" Terra's brows jumped.
"Yeah. She said she needed to borrow this idiot and then she was gone."
Terra stood speechless for a long moment. "Well, I guess it's not quite what we were hoping for but it's a start."
"Terra, Amp! Come quick!" Ulu called through the crowd, ushering both dragons to follow her. The couple hurried after the lightning dragoness until they were at the edge of the dancing circle. It took them a moment to see what Ulu was pointing at but when they did their jaws dropped.
Certo and Crona continued to circle each other with their wing tips touching. Certo moved to face Crona and the two began to side-step in unison. All around the other dragons were watching in awe and amazement at the couple performing their waltz.
"Certo, everyone's staring at us," Crona muttered through her teeth.
"Deal with it. Just keep following my lead," Certo growled back before beginning his head bobbing. Crona followed and extended her other wing tip towards Certo. The two began to weave, bob and sway to the soothing music.
Off to the side, Vixen and the others all watched with excited grins on their faces. "Look, it worked," Kris whispered excitedly.
"What? What worked?" Cryus asked, joining them to see what everyone else was staring at. He spotted Crona and Certo out in the middle of the crowd, now rearing up on their hind legs and placing their front paws together. The two continued to side step in a circle, swaying with one another, supporting each other so that the other would not lose balance.
Certo and Crona continued to sway and press their chests together before reversing direction. All the while they continued to stare into each other's eyes, reading the other one's movements. Certo gave a gentle push to spin himself and Crona around on their hind legs before turning back to one another with their wings spread wide.
At the edge of the crowd, Master Kia watched with wide eyes as her two students performed their waltz together in perfect harmony. As Certo and Crona began to lift off the ground, they continued to circle one another in wide sweeping arcs. Kia smiled to herself and made a mental note. "I think we'll call it, The Dance of Lovers," she thought to herself.
The two young dragons continued to cross flight paths as they ascended high into the sky over the academy.
"You ready for this?" Certo asked over his shoulder.
"Ready for what?" Crona raised a skeptical brow. Then she remembered the next part of the waltz. "Oh, right. I..." Before she knew it, Certo took hold of her front paws in his. Crona squeaked in surprise as the black dragon plummeted towards the ground. "Certo..."
Crona watched as the ground rushed up to meet them. Certo's claws were intertwined with her talons, making it hard for her to jerk away if she wanted to. "Certo..."
"Almost," he replied. A split second later he released her and both dragons spread their wings, shooting over the heads of their fellow citizens and classmates. The crowd gasped in amazement as they watched the two dragons climb back into the sky to meet once again at the top of their arc. Certo extended his wing tip to Crona again and the two began to glide down in a tight spiral.
Down below Titanus was twitching in an angry rage. Certo spotted the big blue dragon and smiled to himself. He glanced over at Crona, who was busy taking in the sight of the dragons below all staring up at her in admiration.
"Hey Crona," Certo whispered, grabbing her attention. He leaned in close and his smirk grew even wider. "You know what I think would make Titanus really pissed off?" Crona looked down to see the bully trembling with rage.
"I'm listening." Crona snickered.
The two dragons landed in the ground and were immediately applauded by the crowd of dragons. A roar of approval went up from the spectators, causing Crona and Certo both to blush. They looked at each other for a moment, then to Titanus who was starting to push his way through the sea of bodies. Crona nuzzled Certo and began to walk away with her tail wrapped around his neck again, pulling him along. Crona made her way easily through the crowd before disappearing into the academy gardens with Certo close behind.
Titanus growled angrily as he shoved some of the younger dragons out of his way. He had just about neared the edge of the courtyard when he found his path blocked by a pale green dragoness.
"Get out of my way!" He snapped angrily.
"Watch your tongue young dragon!" Kia snapped back, the wind hissing around them. "You do not use such language around us guardians."
Titanus froze for a second before glaring daggers at the guardian of air. "You had best watch your mouth with me, lady. Otherwise I'll have my grandfather expel you from this academy. And that's if you're extremely lucky."
"You don't scare me with your empty threats," Kia hissed, baring her shining white teeth. "The headmaster may do whatever he wants to me. But mark my words I will not let you near those two so long as I'm around to do anything about it."
Titanus growled and blue flames began to lick at the edges of his mouth. His group of cronies shrank back in fright; both from their leader and their former instructor.
Kia only scoffed and gave a dismissive wave of her paw. The flames immediately disappeared leaving Titanus with a mouth full of smoke. The blue dragon coughed hard and tried to regain his wind, but the guardian had snuffed out his fire completely.
"This is the only warning you will receive from me." Kia lowered her snout until it was level with Titanus's. "Leave those two alone. Or I promise you, you will regret it." The pale green dragoness gave a curt turn to walk away. As she did, her split tails snapped across Titanus's snout causing him to sneeze loudly.
"Stupid bitch," He grumbled to himself through watery eyes.
Back in the gardens, Certo and Crona walked to the edge of the flower beds that looked over the horizon beyond the city. The two of them sat down together laughing at their little plan.
"I can only imagine how pissed that blue blunder ball is right now." Certo laughed.
"Yeah," Crona giggled. "He must be pretty steamed right now." She wiped a tear away from her eye and tried to settle herself down. "That was a good idea; walking away like that."
Certo turned to look the dragoness in the eyes. Her sky blue orbs seemed to shine like polished gems in the moonlight. He had never really taken notice of her eyes before then, but now they seemed different. Almost happy. "Thanks." Certo bobbed his head with a slight smile.
"You're welcome." Crona nodded without even thinking about it. For a long moment they both stared at one another. There was a slight chill in the gardens now that they were away from everyone else. Neither dragon realized how close they were sitting to one another until Certo glanced back over his shoulder.
"You think he's still watching us?"
"I don't know," Crona replied glancing back into the darkness of the gardens. "So what if he is?"
"I say we put the final touch on tonight's little function."
Crona raised a suspicious brow. "What do you mean?" Without answering, Certo brought his wing up to drape it over Crona's shoulders. Crona was about to protest, but when she noticed the chill had all but vanished she restrained herself. "I can deal with this." She nodded silently. She shot Certo a quick glance before staring up at the vast multitude of stars overhead. "It sure is beautiful tonight," She thought to herself.
Titanus lumbered through the dark halls of the academy. His gang had long since left him by his command. The blue fire breather snarled angrily as he stomped about the long corridors.
"I swear that black dragon will regret the day he decided to steal what's rightfully mine."
"Still blindly arrogant as always I see," A voice came from behind. Titanus whirled around, his long spikes scraping against the stone walls.
"Who goes there!? Show yourself before you get roasted!"
"Testy, testy." Tectonica shook her head as she rounded the corner. "It's a wonder where you get it from. Your grandfather is nowhere near as irritable as you are."
"What's your point, guardian!?" Titanus snarled, spreading his wings in defiance.
Tectonica smiled as she moved closer to the fire breather. "My point is, that if you want something, you have to be patient for it."
"I've never needed patience for anything!" Titanus nipped at the earth guardian. "If I want something, it's delivered to me immediately, right when I want it! End of story!" He turned his back on Tectonica and started to walk away.
"Well in case you haven't noticed, you need to have patience when dealing with those two. Especially the dark one." Titanus continued to walk away. "You want the black dragon gone, do you not?" The blue dragon stopped in mid-stride. Tectonica smiled when she saw she had hit the note she sought. Titanus slowly turned around to face her.
"What does me wanting to be rid of that feral vermin have to do with anything?"
"Because I want him gone too," Tectonica whispered, leaning her snout close to Titanus's. "And if you want him gone that much, I can make it happen."
"How!?" Titanus demanded, taking a bold step towards the guardian. Tectonica reared up her hind legs and struck Titanus with her front paws. The blue dragon's head slammed against the wall and he coughed as the earth dragoness pressed her heavy paw against his throat. Titanus glared daggers at the guardian of earth as she leaned her face closer to his.
"If you follow my exact instructions, we can rid our city of that filth and save us all from being destroyed." She released the young male and looked him square in the eye. Tectonica lowered her head and opened her jaws so that her tongue could slip out of her mouth and drag along the young male's chin. The fire breather immediately felt the blood rush through his system like it were on fire. Tectonica smiled, seeing that she had gotten his full attention. "Now are you going to cooperate, or not?"
Titanus looked into the dragoness's emerald eyes for a long, silent moment. His entire body felt hot from just that one little gesture. The longer he stared at the guardian, the longer he wished for her to be the little white dragoness he so lusted for. And with that thought came the image of the black dragon who had deliberately denied him his prize. Angry plumes of smoke jetted from the blue dragon's nostrils.