Dragon fairy tales rarely ever end well. In The tale of the "The Bad Mother and the Dragon," for example, the hero defeats the dragon and traps it in a magic jar but the dragon seduces his mother who then conspires to murder him.
Like monsters out of Lovecraftian tales dragons seem to have the power to corrupt everything around them, and like the devil they seek to buy souls. For example, in the story of the "The Dragon and His Grandmother" a dragon rescues some starving soldiers, in return for their eventual servitude to him. Dragons, it seems, want people who well serve them. One of the things dragons most desired was someone to pick the lice from and groom their hair.
Being a dragons eternal slave was rarely something anyone desired, for slavery is hard and dragons were easily angered. In early Japan where those who married water kami that could take dragon form were almost always murdered by their spouses in early fairy tales, for the dragon would eventually turn into a monster.
In the story of the "Dragon and the Prince" we read about an old lady who has been forced to serve a dragon for her whole life. In this tale she finally gains freedom by helping a prince kill the dragon. However, the most interesting part of this story is the beginning in which the dragon takes the form of a hare to lure hunters into a mill where he can kill them.
Tell the tale of someone who is forced into a deal with a dragon and is now trying to get out of it.
Tell the tale of someone who makes a deal with a dragon to accomplish something. This could be anything, from traveling to the well at the end of the world, which has waters that can cure death, allowing them to save a child a spouse, etc. Or they could make a deal in which the dragon kills those they seek revenge against.
Even when the heroes defeat the dragon they rarely ever get the girl. In some Slavic Sagas they realize that as peasants they don't deserve to marry the princess and so they let a prince marry her (perhaps the least romantic ending ever). In the German story of "The Four Skillful Brothers" Four brothers learn amazing skills which they use to rescue a princess from a dragon. Since there are four of them, however, it's decided that none of them will marry the princess.
The Laidly Worm of Spindlestone Heugh Is the story of a Princess who is turned into a destructive dragon by her wicked step mother. So in this story the prince must avoid harming the dragon in battle while trying to kill the Queen in the tower... The prince in this case is the princess's brother, and thankfully they don't get married at the end, but they do get to live happily ever after.
People cursed to be dragons, in the way that stories have people cursed to be werewolves.
Weirder still is the tale of the "Dragon of the North" a young man goes on a journey to recover a magical ring that can be used to defeat the dragon. At last he finds in in the hands of a witch whom he seduces and robs... At the end of the tale he marries the princess but the witch gets her revenge.
So why are dragon tales so rarely "classic fairy tales?"
Why do we obsess over the image of the dragon and the princess in the tower when this image was so rare in fairy tales?
Perhaps it's because of story tellers natural love of tragedies. Think about some of the most famous stories, "Romeo and Juliette," "Titanic," and more.
Heck the Germanic people's believed that the entire world was a tragedy, one that would end with Ragnarok. Beowulf died poignantly battling a dragon, as does Thor. So perhaps dragons in fairy tales help the heroes meet their tragically beautiful end, because nothing else can.
A few more dragon tales of interest
Princess Miranda and the Prince Hero
The lord of the Underworld seeks to conquer the world so Princess Miranda leads her army to defeat him and despite his power, she turns him into ice with her magical powers. He eventually escapes this ice, however, and sends a fiery twelve headed dragon to hold her prisoner in her own castle.
Although Princess Miranda is powerful she is now trapped, so the Sun helps a young man enter the realm of the dead where he encounters a witch who tells him how to rescue Princess Miranda.
On the one hand this is sort of a classic rescue the Princess from the tower fairy tale. On the other hand, the only reason she needs rescuing is that the Lord of the Underworld is so terrified of her power he's concentrating all his efforts on keeping her imprisoned, so she's not exactly a damsel in distress so much as she's a warrior who needs reinforcements.
The Lambton Worms
A young man brings about the destruction of his castle when he releases a baby dragon in his a well.
By capturing a baby dragon and releasing it in an enemies well a person could do a lot of damage to their rivals.
The Three Princess
"After long wanderings the eldest came to a town which was wholly covered with black cloth, and here he took lodgings with an old woman. " Why is this town hung with black ?" asked the prince. u Alas, we live in great danger here ! " said the old woman, " in the lake near the town lives the dragon with seven heads, who vomits fire..."
A classic tale of a hero who saves a town from a dragon.
Three Princes, Three Dragons and the Old Woman with the Iron Nose
The tale of a young man who is given a magical horse by his fairy godmother. A very interesting and sometimes strange journey into the Hungarian Other World.
The Dragon and the Prince
In this tale the dragon lures people to it by pretending to be a defenseless animal, then at the last moment it takes it's real form a slaughters them.
In order to defeat it a young prince must seek the help of one of the dragons slaves.
Dragon of Ghent
The Tale of a kindly Dragon, who tired of war, searches for a massive flower garden to live in.
The Deluded Dragon
A goofy tale about an old man who tricks a dragon into thinking he's a great warrior.
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