A Not-So-Standard Valentine’s Day


“I love you,” reads the rose-colored candy heart.

I smile to myself, fully knowing Paige must’ve spent the entire night hunched over her desk working on this.

I had come to the library to find one of my favorite books carved hollow (to my horror!) and in the space, a box of candy hearts.

Now, my fingers are covered with the faint dust of sweets and my heart is dancing around– though I would appreciate it if she didn’t destroy more books. Velllichor, the library, has a limited number of books that both mortal and mage can understand; even so, the book currently mauled open before me wouldn’t be missed by anyone. It was our shared favorite, The Romance of Evon and Rehka, and considered a controversial read. Mortal and mage relationships are quite taboo, in both of our realms.

Paige and I met weeks back. When picking up a book, I found a business card for Callum’s Dragons and Other Magical Beings tucked in between its pages.

Amused, I doodled on the business card, and returned the book with it inside.

The following day there was a reply: “Hiya!”

Since then, we’ve communicated through a series of parcels, parchments, and anything we could slip between the book’s pages.

Eventually, I was able to place a name and face on this mystery pen pal. Paige was a student of the Arc Academy in the city of Anecdoche, a magical and otherworldly metropolis. There, anything was possible. Changing your appearance in the blink of an eye, shapeshifting. Paige was studying to be a conjurer.

Paige painted herself as a short girl, my age with uncooperative hair that requires at least five potions a day to maintain. Compared to her, I paled. Rolling Hills, my home, is nice enough but quaint. And I certainly don’t study magic.

I stop reminiscing, and empty her box of candy hearts into my hand, realizing they contain specialized messages. These were written carefully with her cursive, or spaghetti writing as I call it.

“My little Valentine,” “My love,” “My Moon.” All the names Paige has showered me with in the past.

While scanning the hearts, the book shakes. Worrying Paige went a little overboard in her gifts and enchanted the book, I set the hearts down and watched it warily for a moment. The remaining contents nestled in the book: a letter covered in her doodles, and a round, egg-like object. This shimmers with iridescent shades of sapphire.

It shakes, the round thing, again and again until…crack! An eye appears, with slit-like pupils. I stare back, enamored by this strange being.

It pokes its head, and I at last see what it is. I can’t believe my eyes! A dragon. A dragon egg inside a hollowed book, timed perfectly so that it hatches for me. Paige, you creative genius.

The dragon chirps as it takes in its new surroundings. I’m sure an ancient library and someone with even more ancient glasses are not what it was expecting.

I go to pet it, careful to not lose a finger in the process, but the dragon is ahead of me and nestles its head underneath my fingertips, its pale scales still damp.

During our little petting session, I notice one of hearts overturned, with a small print. I hadn’t noticed it initially.

I bring it close to my face, careful to not drop it and read. An address to somewhere in Anecdoche.

In brackets below the message, Paige warns to be careful in handling the newborn dragon during my travels.

“Follow the dragon,” she writes. “He will lead you to my home.”

My heart beats with excitement. I’ll be sure to, my love, I think, picturing Paige planning out the wonderful gift before me.

Excited, I gather my things, the book tucked in my arm, the dragon curled in the cup of my hand, and the candy heart address in the other.

I have no idea how I’ll out-gift her. How can the standard mortal Valentine’s gift of a bouquet of roses, chocolate hearts and scented cards compare to a baby dragon and an address to a secret location on candy hearts?