Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 8 –

– 8 –

The reason you’re not supposed to hit Edmund in the mouth is that hitting people is wrong. It is particularly wrong if you’ve been sainted and Tom’s hat holds you to a higher standard. It is doubly particularly wrong if Edmund will just open his mouth really, really wide and take your whole hand in. In fact this is a really good way to lose your hand.

Edmund’s stomach rumbles.

It keeps on rumbling. It rumbles like the sea.

Finally, Saul pulls his hand out. He glares. He turns away.

“Nice self-control, you sodden git.”

Edmund shrugs. Edmund walks past Saul. Edmund sits. Edmund squints up at Saul. “Do I even know you?” he asks.

“I have a band,” Saul says. “Had.”

“I see.”

Edmund catches Saul’s eyes with his. There is a pulse in them; the white in them rises; there is a wave of hunger that should stagger Saul, could separate him from the binding on him that Tom’s hat has lain; but Saul mazes that power as it comes in, skips back from it in his mind, retreats and leaves baffle-concepts in its path, like a man who distracts himself from his impending execution by fretting over the surprise exam paradox.

After a few moments, the pressure of Edmund’s eyes relents.

“I had a wolf,” says Saul.

Edmund frowns at him. “That’s surprisingly common.”


“Linus has a black dog,” says Edmund. “Well, it turned white later. Then you blink, and the dog is gone.”

“No,” says Saul. “I mean, it’s yours.

Edmund tilts his head to one side. Then he sighs. “Would you like tea?” he says.

Saul glances around the room.

“You don’t have a teapot,” he says.

“Ah,” Edmund concedes.

He shrugs. He stretches out on the cot. He sleeps.

“We were going to have an important discussion,” says St. Saul, “about my dreams about wolves and things. They might have been prophetic!”

Or about a previous incarnation.

“Or about past lives!”

But they don’t have that discussion. Edmund is snoring.

“Fine,” says Saul. “I’m leaving.”

But he doesn’t leave.

“I’m making tea,” says Saul, after a while.

But he doesn’t make tea.

“I’m strangling you in your sleep!”

But he doesn’t strangle him in his sleep.

St. Saul finds himself sitting on the edge of the cot and stroking Edmund’s hair. He doesn’t really understand it himself, except maybe, he ran out of other options.

“If we’re reincarnated lovers,” he cautions the world —

After a while, though, it comes to him; he can feel it in Edmund. He can see the puppy wound through and with and in the other boy; it articulates itself through him. The air tastes suddenly of caverns underneath the earth, of wolf dander, and of gold.

Saul doesn’t even understand why he’s crying.

It’s just —

Everything hurts, suddenly, for no reason at all.

After a while he gets up and goes to the door to slip quietly away. He turns the handle. He pulls.

After a further while Edmund wakes up. He looks at Saul.

“I’m a prisoner of my circumstances,” Saul says, embarrassedly. He wipes his cheeks dry.

Edmund rolls his eyes. He gets up. He stretches.

He bursts the seals, he snaps the chains, the touch of his hand shatters the wall of concrete poured out over the door.

Then he blinks, a few times, because he hasn’t had his coffee or his shower yet, and he wanders off.



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