The little dragon was on his way to visit his best friend, the rabbit.
As he waded through puddles and happily jumped into any muddy hole he could find,
he thought of all the adventures they'd had together.
He remembered flying down to the big river with his little friend on his back,
splashing around in the water,
seeing who could skip stones the farthest.
He remembered sneaking out at night to see the stars,
staying out until their paws got cold
and they got goosebumps all over.
He remembered singing little tunes together with their other friends,
the doe, the fox and the hedgehog.
They'd dance around in the forest, making up new steps for every song.
Yes, the little dragon thought, they'd had a marvelous summer!
But now, the fall was coming,
and as the little dragon felt the fallen leaves crunch under his paws,
he wondered if the winter would be just as good.
The little dragon shook his head.
Of course it would!
As long as he had his friend Rabbit by his side, everything would be just fine.
But when the little dragon got to the rabbit's burrow,
his friend was nowhere to be found.
"Rabbit?" The little dragon called out, "Where are you?"
When he got no answer,
the little dragon stuck his snout into the burrow as far as he could.
"Rabbit? Are you in here?"
It was too dark for the little dragon to see anything,
but suddenly he heard the quiet voice of his friend:
"I'm sorry, little dragon, but I am very tired. I can't play with you today."
"Oh, that's alright", said the little dragon,
"Rest up. We can play tomorrow."
The little dragon was sad - he had been looking forward to spending time with his friend.
But he understood that rest was important too.
So he played by himself for the day, and on his way home,
he brought some flowers and put them in front of the burrow.
He knew they were Rabbits favorite,
and he hoped they would cheer him up so they could play together the next day.
But when the little dragon came back the next day,
the rabbit was still tired and didn't want to play.
"I'm sorry", he told the little dragon "but I need more time".
Today, the little dragon was upset.
"How can Rabbit still be tired?" he said to himself,
as he left the clearing that held the rabbit's burrow.
"Didn't he rest all day yesterday?
Didn't I bring him his favorite flowers?
Why does he still not want to play?"
And suddenly, the little dragon got scared.
As he beat his wings in the air, he thought:
"What if Rabbit isn't tired at all - what if he is just tired of me?
What if he doesn't want to be my friend anymore?"
The little dragon started to cry,
and his tears fell down to the earth like rain.
He was convinced that he had done something wrong.
Had he made a mean joke?
Had he flown too high with the rabbit on his back and scared him?
Had he done something that the rabbit didn't like?
The little dragon's head was filled with these stormy thoughts all day,
as he flew over the fields, forests, and rivers of the valley,
until he made his way to his little cave on a big hill.
But as the dragon turned to fly home,
he spotted his friend the rabbit, sitting in a field with their friend, the doe.
And all the bad thoughts the little dragon had seemed to be true.
"So he wasn't tired after all!" the little dragon cried.
"He just didn't want to see me!"
When the little dragon came home, he rolled into a tight little ball and cried all night.
For days, the little dragon barely wanted to get up.
He grieved the loss of his best friend.
But one evening, his friend the doe climbed all the way up to his cave,
and sat down next to him.
"Little dragon", she asked, "Why are you crying?"
"Because", the little dragon sobbed, "Rabbit has grown tired of me".
"Why do you think that?" the doe said, and she sounded surprised.
"He doesn't wanna see me! He says he is tired, but I know he doesn't like me anymore",
the little dragon cried.
And to his anger, the doe started laughing.
Outraged, the little dragon reared up,
and with smoke puffing out of his nostrils, he shouted,
"Why is that so funny? Can't you see how sad I am?"
The doe returned his furious look calmly, and with one last chuckle, she started to explain.
"Little dragon", she said, "You need to remember.
Even though you are still small for a dragon,
to a rabbit, you are big and scary.
You have sharp teeth, and your claws could carve through the bark
of the greatest tree in the forest.
The fire in your lungs burns so hot,
it can feel dangerous to be close to you.
Even for me, it is hard to keep up with you at the best of times.
And yet, the Rabbit played with you all summer.
That must have been very exhausting.
Don't you think he might need to take a break to get back his strength?
Otherwise he might not be able to play with you again."
The little dragon considered the doe's words for a long time.
He'd never felt like he was losing strength when he spent time with his friends.
But the more he thought about it, the more he understood.
"It's like flying for a long time, right? When I fly for hours, my wings get very tired,
and I need to rest so I can fly again."
"That's right!", smiled the doe.
And the dragon smiled back at her, for he had realized that he hadn't lost his best friend,
he just had to wait for him patiently.
So the little dragon waited.
At first, he didn't know what to do with himself.
All summer, he'd played with the rabbit every day.
But the little dragon had other friends - the fox, the hedgehog, the doe,
the big owl from the forest, even the squirrel,
they all liked to play with him sometimes.
While he waited, the little dragon spent time seeking new adventures.
He raced through the air with the owl,
he chased sunbeams with the fox,
he searched for acorns with the squirrel,
he watched the stars with the hedgehog,
and he took long walks with the doe.
But he never stopped waiting for the rabbit.
And one night, when the little dragon was lying awake in his cave,
he heard a voice call out to him from the bottom of the hill.
"Little dragon!" the voice said, "I'm sorry for making you wait. I'm not tired anymore.
Do you want to come and play?"
And the little dragon stretched out his wings and roared his happiness out into the night.
His best friend had rested, and he had returned to him.