Margaret Peregrine is a high school sophomore. Most of the time, she's either at school, at the school robotics club, at the school chess club, or doing schoolwork. Today, she's cleaning out her late great-grandmother's attic.
Things in her late great-grandmother's attic:
- the good china
- an ancient banjo
- a birdcage, which was not thoroughly cleaned before it was stashed
- some paintings, several framed
- a box of vintage dresses
- quilting supplies
- National Geographics
- a bassinet
- a broken printer
- a jewelry box
- 48 jigsaw puzzles
- books of banjo music
- a broken rocking chair
- a music box with a spinning ballerina
Keep, donate, garbage, keep except for this hideous abstract one that gets donated unless her mother's really attached, keep unless the historical society wants them, donate, donate, donate, set aside to see if she can fix it, look through further, keep these two lamps and donate the rest, keep, prune for duplicates with existing library, donate alongside the banjo, garbage, donate.
Sorting the books should wait until there's a bit more clear floor space; she'll go through the jewelry box while she waits for her mother to get back from the previous donation run.
Untangling piles of tangled things is the best fidget. She starts picking items out of the morass one at a time and laying them out, matching up pairs of earrings and folding the scarves.
Yup she's a dragon alright! She's scaly and green and doesn't really fit in this teeny attic very well! This is kind of distressing but also kind of the coolest thing to happen in the history of forever. She has wings. She has scales. She has absolutely no room to turn around and really hopes this is a back-and-forth sort of deal rather than a permanent one-off because there are a lot of fragile things in here and she can't even look at the far end of herself.
She is not looking forward to explaining this to her mother. Can she even talk with these mouthparts? She tries to say "what is going on" to the otherwise-unoccupied room.
Okay, that's one worry out of the way. She should really get back to trying to turn human again, though. Can she sort of squash herself down into humanness? Can she do it by focusing really hard on what being human-shaped felt like? Where did that thing that poked her right when it happened end up, maybe she needs to poke it again?
That's certainly suggestive. She gets it onto a clawed forelimb and holds onto it and concentrates again.
Occasionally she loses it and some chunk of her goes dragony again, but she manages to get herself fully human in time for her parents to get back. She doesn't say anything to them yet; she wants to have a bit more clue what's going on before she tries to explain it to anyone else. She ends up with the medallion under her shirt.
If she can manage to stay human for the rest of the day, she tries to find any internet discussion of this sort of phenomenon that night.
She knew she was going to have to dig deep to find any truth under all the fiction. She tries "dragon medallion turned me into a dragon" and "dragon medallion shapeshifting powers" and similar.
She tries "dragon", "drake", and "wyrm" as the password and examines the medallion for hidden text, both without much hope.
She'll have to try offline. Maybe the school library or the public library will have something suspiciously accurate under "fiction" or "occult".
When she goes to bed that night, she absent-mindedly pulls the medallion off along with her wristwatch and hair tie, and once she's grabbed it back it takes her another fifteen minutes to get human again so she can sleep.
Well, how about the public library? She even looks under "religion and spirituality".
This is not a one-off natural phenomenon. One-off natural phenomena don't come with clearly person-made artifacts and secret websites. That means there's a deliberate masquerade. She writes a decidedly mediocre YA short story about a kid with heavily altered demographic details who finds a medallion and turns into a dragon and learns who her real friends are. This gets uploaded to a couple of original fiction sites, from a computer at a public library that isn't the one she normally goes to but which also doesn't have anything suspiciously accurate, just in case. At the bottom is a line saying that if you liked this story, send feedback to this email address (created the previous day for the occasion).