Dante’s Inferno

Dante was fairly sure he wasn’t supposed to be looking down  at the princess right now. Sure, the heteronormative pattern dictated he’d be a little taller, but not like this. This was wrong. About two stories’ worth of wrong.

“Eek!” screamed the princess.

“Wait a minute,” Dante said, startled to find his voice transformed from croaky to sonorous. “Wait! It’s me!”

“Eek!” screamed the princess, and then she passed out.

At least his new claws (Claws? Really?) were nimble enough to catch her before she fell.

Claws weren’t heteronormative. Neither were red scales. Neither was the bizarre yet pertinent understanding that he needed to lay an egg really soon or things were going to go terribly wrong.

An egg?

Oh.

“So it turns out I’m female,” Dante said to the slumped princess, and laid her gently on a desk. It figured; frogs were known to change gender in adverse environments, and heaven knew being trapped as University’s psychology department mascot for forty amphibian years was stressful. They hadn’t even been willing to accept his (her?) application for a grant.

Dante eyed the comatose co-ed; she’d sworn herself possessed of royal blood, but now he (this whole “she” thing was going to take a while) wasn’t so sure.

Lindsay didn’t smell royal. Dante suddenly knew he could tell if she were.

Weird.

And the egg thing was becoming an issue.

First things first: he had to get out of this classroom. Arena-style, it was large enough for his suddenly-inconvenient (though beautifully red) bulk, but the windows were nowhere near big enough to allow egress. The door, of course, was right out. He’d have to take down the entire wall.

Dante glared at the co-ed (“princess,” his spiky tail!) but it wasn’t really her fault. Besides, it worked. He was supposed to become a prince when kissed, and he had. A dragon prince. A fecund dragon prince carrying an egg. Apparently.

Yes, it was time to leave. He felt bad for the impending damage, but what was a pregnant dragon prince to do? Dante raised his brand-new wings (fire-engine red and so much fun) and flew right at the center window.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry! he thought as he smashed through the frame, scattering glass and wood and stone like some horrible snowfall. He discovered at once that flying wasn’t nearly as easy as it looked in the movies.

“Whoa!” he bellowed (which was probably every bit as frightening as the sight of him) and careened into the ground, knocking over two founders’ statues and one hot dog cart that sat permanently on the route between classes. This would have been mortifying if done in front of actual students. Thank heavens it was night.

Dante stood, shook snow off his bright red scales, and realized with horror that the egg was coming, was not waiting, was coming right now and he had nowhere warm to put the thing for incubation.

Oh, dear. This was going to be bad.


The Green was a mess the next day, and somehow, security cameras failed to capture the cause. “Tampered with,” security murmured ominously, writing up reports about electro-magnetic disturbances and potential student pranks-turned-terrorism.

No one thought to wonder about the hot dog cart. Everything around it was knocked over, but the cart sat neat and tidy in the middle of the pathway, undisturbed – apart from a slightly bent umbrella, as if it had been run into.

It chugged away, propane tanks not quite run dry, and no one really noticed steam escaping around its slightly bent lid.

Police walked by, jabbering into their radios and sweeping for more clues.

No one was listening for the distinctive sound of eggshell cracking open.

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