He hates this.
The growth spurts. The claws. The danger, now, of accidentally breathing fire. All these details and more associated with becoming an adult, he growls gravely at, granted that it makes him more dangerous to me, his human.
The hardest part to accept is his new scales.
When he was a baby, his scales were dull and soft--hardly dangerous, hardly firm, hardly intimidating. But now that he's reaching adolescence, they've hardened and sharpened. No longer can I brush my hand along his back at the base of his spines just like I did when he was little; just like he likes it best--if I do, I come away with a bit more than a few scratches.
And he hates that. And he's begun to hate himself, particularly, because of them.
So that's why next time we lie together, me propped up against his soft underbelly and him starting to doze with his muzzle on top of his foreclaws, that I say it.
"Your scales are beautiful, you know. You're beautiful. Magnificent."
He doesn't respond, but I know he heard it.
His breath hitched just the slightest.