Ryne was being annoying. I mean, I love her, but she’d set my hair on fire at least three times since breakfast. “Ryne,” I chided, scooping her off my shoulder to look at her. “What did we say about the fire?”

Ryne blinked her bright blue eyes at me. The guy we got her from said her mother had been huge, but that Ryne would probably stay tiny. Of course, now almost all dragons are tiny. They were just bred that way. 

I reached out to touch the dragon’s blue-green scales. They were smooth and cool to the touch and felt a bit like silk. Ryne purred, leaning into my hand, smoke coming out of her nostrils. 

“No fire,” I reminded her before putting her back on my shoulder and returning to my homework. “But if you maybe burnt up my Spanish worksheet instead. . .” I felt her perk up on my shoulder. “Nah, I’m just joking. Pretty sure my teacher would kill me. Eighth grade blows.” I told her. I pack up the worksheet, slipping it  into my binder. I gave Ryne one more smile before eating breakfast, zipping up my backpack, and heading out. 

It wasn’t until I had gotten to school and was unpacking my backpack when I realized that it was a bit heavier than normal. I carefully looked into the tiny secret pocket, dreading what I would find. I wish I could say I was surprised to find a little ball of blue-green scales snoring smoke into the polyester fabric. I groaned. “Ryne,” I hissed, poking at her back. “Ryne. You devil lizard, you wake up now and tell my why you stowed away in my backpack.” Ryne, of course, didn’t say a word. Instead, the little troublemaker rolled over to look me in the eye, snort a little ring of smoke, and rolled right over again. Hate you too, dragon. I looked around the hallway furtively. First period was about to start, and everyone was streaming into the classrooms. I looked at Ryne one more time before stuffing her and my backpack into my locker. 

“I’ll be back to check on you,” I promised before heading off to class. 

Nothing went wrong with that arrangement before my last period. My science teacher’s lecture was interrupted by the insistent blaring of the smoke alarm, commanding all students, staff, and visitors to please exit the building. We filed out, a sense of alam growing in my stomach. It was twenty minutes before the principal came storming out the front door, followed closely by the fire department.

“Who, in God’s name,” he bellowed, his face turning a rather amusing shade of red. “Brought a bloody dragon into the school?!”

Oops. Suddenly his rage wasn’t quite so funny anymore. I was just now noticing the small, curled up bundle of blue-green scales clutched in the chief fire fighter’s gloved hands. I slowly, slowly, raised my hand.

Before I knew what was happening, we were back in school, me in the chair in front of the principal’s desk. He was practically blowing up.

“A dragon! In our school! The risk! The danger! The audacity!” It sounded like he was describing a really good adventure novel. “What came over you?”

“It wasn’t my fault!” I protested. “Ryne snuck into my bag. I didn’t even know she was in there until I was already here!”

It was clear the principal was trying to stay calm. “Then why,” he grumbled low. “Didn’t you tell someone?”

I’m sure I looked like a tomato as I answered. “I dunno. Ryne doesn’t like strangers.” 

“Ryne doesn’t like strangers.” He repeated it slowly, eyes closed. I brace for the upcoming explosion. 

Instead I’m surprised. He motions for the firefighters to bring Ryne in. They set her on the desk in between us and walked back out quietly. I wonder why they haven’t left yet. Ryne didn’t seem to mind being taken out of my locker. The baby dragon happily curled up on top of the desk, purring like a cat, the ominous smoke coming out of her nostrils. 

The principal nodded at her. “She’s a beauty. Blue-tail brim?” he asked.

I blink. Ryne’s breed is a blue-tail brim. “Yes,” I said hesitantly. 

He smiled at me. Smiled. “I have a fire-back brim myself. The brims are rather inclined to fire. I guess that’s why they’re called brimstones.” He sighed and looked down. “To tell you the truth, I would probably bring Undim to school, too, if I could. Problem with him is, he’s the most hyperactive dragon on the face of the planet.” I stifle a laugh. I don’t know why. “My office would be a mess by the end of the day. Everything in flames, papers everywhere, my chair ripped, my computer fried. Madness.” He sighed again. “Dragons are fun pets, I get it. I know you didn’t know Ryne here was in your bag. And I wouldn’t want to do something to scare Undim, either. But,” He leaned across the desk, looking me in the eye. “You cannot bring a dragon to school in the future. Knowingly or unknowingly. We can’t keep having impromptu fire drills. You’re dismissed.” 

“What?”

“You’re dismissed. You and Ryne have a nice day.” 

I get out of my chair and scoop up Ryne. I mutter “you too, sir” before rushing out of the office. I turn to Ryne staring into her gleaming eyes. “Well, that was surprising,” I tell her. She blinks slowly, languidly, and blows a ring of smoke out of her nose. Go figure. 

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