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í hjartarót

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In a certain land there was an island made out of bones that had fallen from the sky and lost all their skin. On that island lived a woman who had once been a princess, but who had lost her title in dragonfire and ashes, and now was left with everything that she had ever wanted to be.

There was also a dragon.

This was perhaps to be expected, as it was quite difficult to have dragon bones and dragon fire without a dragon. But this princess was very skilled at the creation of small, important things like kites and songs and ropes and, yes, bones, so it is also important to understand that there was also a dragon on the island with her.

He had been the one to carry the princess there, when she asked, and therefore he fancied that he was the one who knew all there was to know about being a dragon, and about being a dragon on this particular island. But dragons - and this is a secret that they would not much like me telling you - are creatures of habit, and there were parts of the island that this dragon, Arman was his name, had not seen in ...

Well, perhaps we will spare him his modesty and simply say that it had been quite such time since he had seen the sky from underneath certain ribs, or the sea from atop certain vertebrae. The princess, whose name was Miroslava, was very good at uncovering these places. Arman's habit, you see, was sulking, and Miroslava excelled at disrupting such habits - that is one of the first things one learns, when one is a sister.

Arman may have taken issue with that version of their adventures on the island, but the fact remains that Miroslava's telling is the one that survived the years, perhaps because (as the notes in her diaries made clear) hers was the better penmanship, perhaps there were other reasons. And Miroslava's tales, in both words and maps, spoke of flight, and fire, and of showing Arman that a skeleton could be a home, with some work. A home to trees and fish and children and -

Did I say there was a dragon on the island?

Well, I did not lie to you. There was a dragon, and there was a princess, and there was also the thing which took them both quite some time to discover, which was that when Arman had plucked Mira from her wedding boat, the sea had all fallen out of her. A body cannot abide emptiness, yet Arman had long tired of death, and so had nothing to replace it.

This was where Miroslava's talent for creation became important: she built fires, on the beach, beside the pools, in the hollows of bones and deep in Arman's heart. And in the fires that she lay next to with Arman they discovered a warmth like a spell that bound their hearts together.

And in the fires there was another way to be a dragon, one that embraced the sky just like the sparks as they rose.

In a certain land there was an island made out of bones that had fallen from the sky and lost all their skin. On that island two dragons reached into each others' hearts and found there that the roots that had grown over the course of their time together had become tangled irrevocably close. And in the very centre of that tangle was a heat that was fit to melt all the ice in all of Russia. And at the very hottest part of that fire, the part that should have turned their hands to ash when they ventured that far, Miroslava and Arman found instead a new dragon.