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“You know-”

 

“No.”

 

“But if-”

 

“No.”

 

“I can-”

 

“NO.” This time, Karamatsu has the decency to look up from where he’s watching his dragon sibling spew out small orbs of fire. A very small and young looking dragon sibling.

 

Choromatsu frowns. This is not fair, why is he getting the cold shoulder when it was Osomatsu who very blatantly walked into his room. After very specifically being told not to and in the middle of an incantation! It’s not entirely his fault that Osomatsu has been reduced to a baby.

 

“Fine. I won’t, what’s next?” Asks Choromatsu, crosses his arms and gives his brother a long dry look.

 

“Don’t your spells wear out eventually? Let’s give it time.” Is Karamatsu’s flat reply. Osomatsu’s tail thumps against his armored chest in his excitement at seeing ants. The young dragon moves closer to the ground, not leaving the security of Karamatsu’s lap, and reaches with a hand toward the file of ants. Karamatsu has to stand up and shake Osomatsu’s hand when the baby attempts to put a mouthful of dirt into his mouth.

 

“If you say so, but I’m so not changing nappies.”

 

At that Karamatsu seems to consider the idea. Osomatsu is naked but he figures that with him being a dragon, nudity wouldn’t be a problem for humans. He’s seen plenty of the village children running around butt naked during the summer days too. Osomatsu is no different from a human child in his current state, except maybe for the tail, horns and red scales against his cheeks. Karamatsu reaches with a finger and scratches at them, causing Osomatsu’s eyes to zero in on his face and stare at him curiously.

 

“Does it hurt?”

 

The only answer he gets is a blank stare.

 

“Guess not,” and in the same breath, “Let’s go Choromatsu, we should grab something to eat.”

 

“After you,” mutters the mage in defeat and follows after the knight. This is going to be a long day.

 

******

Feeding Osomatsu proves to be more of a task than they anticipated. Despite not having the full strength of his species, the baby dragon manages to flip tables over and makes the small tavern shake and creak in protest. The problem that caused it all in the first place?

 

Karamatsu. Karamatsu who just stepped out of Osomatsu’s line of sight for a few seconds to talk to the owner of the place. That seems like reason enough for Osomatsu to get riled up.

 

“Oi! Karamatsu hurry up!” Shouts Choromatsu over the cacophony of noise and quickly takes ahold of the fighting dragon, keeping him at arms length away from him. Osomatsu squirms, kicks and roars—though it sounds more like a puppy yipping— against his hold. He exits the tavern to avoid further commotion and Karamatsu follows after him.

 

“What is-” Osomatsu launches himself from Choromatsu’s hold, the momentum dragging Choromatsu in the same direction, and clings to Karamatsu, quietly sniffling. “Oh, there, there. I’m here Osomatsu, no need to be scared. Choromatsu is not so bad either, I get why you may not like him-”

 

“Oi!”

 

“But he’s a good brother,” reassures Karamatsu, patting Osomatsu’s head in comfort and entirely ignoring Choromatsu’s protests.  Later that day, Choromatsu shares a loaded hot cocoa with Osomatsu and very pointedly leaves as soon as Karamats u returns to their home.

 

Karamatsu deals with a hyperactive Osomatsu.

 

******

“Ah, he’s so cute!”

 

“Look at his tiny horns.”

 

“Look at his widdle-fingers.”

 

“His wings, oh my Gods look at them.”

 

“Stop don’t touch them it might hurt!”

 

“Does it hurt?” Asks the child and gingerly runs her fingers over the smooth wings.

 

Karamatsu can only stare from a distance, bag barely hanging from his fingertips, as women and children alike flock around Choromatsu and Osomatsu. Choromatsu is indifferent to the attentions and wears a deadpan look on his face, only intervening when the children pull too hard on Osomatsu’s wings and tail. His brow twitching every so often when women voice their need to bite at Osomatsu’s cheek and eat him up because of how adorable he is. What is it with women turning into cannibals for babies? 

 

Karamatsu pinches the bridge of his nose—the textbook definition of long-suffering—and t he action alone speaks volumes to what he knows is bound to happen if the group keeps it up. Choromatsu remains passive.

 

Per Choromatsu’s research about the dragon species, they find out that when baby dragons hatch from their eggs, they imprint on whichever moving object comes across their field of vision. Usually this is the mother. Then they keep themselves in the company of their families until they reach their pre-teen years. What’s more, dragons don’t learn to shape-shift into a human form until they are very well into their young adulthood years. Anytime before that, they remain in their original forms. But, because Osomatsu was turned into a baby in his human form, it seems like it stuck. And despite having a human baby’s resemblance, Osomatsu still has the instincts of an infant dragon. When an infant dragon feels threatened they rush back to their parents, much like toddlers do with their mothers, however, in the absence of a parent they do what they know best—they throw a tantrum.

 

It’s only a matter of seconds before-

 

A fireball shoots up from Choromatsu’s location. It’s not big enough that it would cause any collateral damage but it is hot enough that all women scatter away in horror and the children clap in amazement and glee at the display.  Karamatsu goes to intervene before the situation can scalate. Choromatsu is scolding the infant dragon and bouncing him on his arms to calm him down.

 

“Geez. I told them not to touch him so much,” mutters Choromatsu as he’s ushered away by the knight.

 

“Mhm, here let me help.”

 

Osomatsu squeals when Karamatsu reaches for him. He attempts to pull at Karamatsu’s hair as soon as he’s settled comfortably against the knight’s arms. A dribble of saliva rolls down his chin.

 

“That was pretty amazing Osomatsu,” congratulates Karamatsu, raising Osomatsu up in the air and moves his head just a centimeter away before the saliva can drip on his face. Osomatsu squeals in approval, “you’ll be a strong dragon right!? Yes you will!”

 

“Why are you even praising him?”

 

“He’s still a baby, he needs encouragement,” counters Karamatsu, glancing at Choromatsu who has a small frown gracing his features. He’s looking away from them. Karamatsu sighs, letting a smile slip, and raises a hand to run his fingers through dark hair. “I’m sure he’ll turn back to normal soon. But for now we should encourage his growth.”

 

“Whatever you say,” he says and shrugs. He feels both slightly guilt and annoyed. Guilty because now they have to deal with the issue and adjust accordingly. It’s been a day and Osomatsu has yet to turn back, which is worrisome on its own. But with how much of a handful Osomatsu is, he quickly forgets about that feeling and allows annoyance to take over. Osomatsu is a brat and Choromatsu is itching to find a spell to fix it already. But Karamatsu won’t let him and he made it clear that they would wait a month at the very least.

 

Choromatsu’s  gloomy mood is slowly lifted the more he pays attention to Karamatsu’s praises for Osomatsu and Osomatsu’s joyful cries. When Osomatsu wiggles his way out of Karamatsu’s hold and wobbly flies towards him, Choromatsu can only gasp and clutch at his heart from the effort Osomatsu is doing. 

 

“Why can’t you be this adorable? You grow up to be a shitty older brother you know?” Osomatsu cocks his head to the side, huge red eyes staring in amazement at Choromatsu. A butterfly lands right on Osomatsu’s nose making the dragon sneeze. Almost on reflex, Choromatsu holds Osomatsu away from him so he can finish his fiery sneezes. Osomatsu looks back at him in confusion, now all done with snot running down his nose, and gives Choromatsu a beaming toothless smile.

 

The three brothers laugh in unison and make their way back to their shared home.

 

******

It’s three days later that Osomatsu finally returns to his normal size and age and finds himself squished between Karamatsu and Choromatsu. He’s confused but the warmth is nice so he stays put. He even has the tact to pretend to be asleep when Choromatsu wakes up.

 

Karamatsu, however, is not as easily fooled and promptly kicks the older dragon off his bed.

 

“You two are so mean to your niichan,” laments Osomatsu loudly, crawling back in bed to put his full weight against Karamatsu’s middle. But as soon as he hears Choromatsu voice his annoyance at his older brothers’ laziness, Osomatsu takes it as his cue to go to the mage and whine to him instead.

 

Karamatsu huffs and pulls the covers around his neck. He intends to sleep as much as he can, it’s his personal reward for being a good big brother to a baby Osomatsu. He can vaguely hear  Choromatsu and Osomatsu arguing.

 

At least the day seems to get off to a normal start.