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By , wrightwood, CA
Chapters:   « Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 9 Next »

Chapter Two

Tom stayed by the cave opening with Flame, watching May run. Had it been right, what he did? Showing the best in Dragon Slaying class his biggest secret...His dragon? What she had been trained to hunt down and destroy? Had it been rash? Irresponsible?
He heard footsteps behind him. He didn’t need to look to know it was his mother, the witch. “You shouldn’t have told her your secret,” she said.
Tom tensed his muscles. “I know.”
“Then why did you do it?”
Tom sighed. “She was pestering me. Said she wanted to see my ‘dog’, Flame. So I showed her. And I told her about you.”
His mother frowned. Tom could feel the force of it on his back. “Will we have to move again, Tom?”
“I don’t know. I hope not. I hope she doesn’t tell.”
“All we can do is wait,” the witch said.
So Tom did.

The next day, at Dragon Slaying class, May was silent. She didn’t make an announcement that there was a dragon abroad, she didn’t even give a hint. Not a visible one, anyway. She seemed nervous, glancing at Tom every half-minute to watch him. He felt conspicuous.
She kept it up, and even missed a parry while looking at him. The whole class, not excepting Captain Mag, was shocked. As far as any of them remembered, May had not missed anything since she had the measles in 7th year.
“What is going on, May?” Captain Mag asked after she forgot to duck and ended up face flat on the ground.
“I-I’m just nervous,” she stammered. “There are only so many days in a year.” she glanced at Tom, but  betrayed nothing.
He tried to smile at her, but judging by the look on her face, he failed.
After class Tom caught up with her before he could head home. “May–” he began, but hardly got her name out before she cut him off.
“Go away, Tom. I don’t feel like talking about it.”
“May, I’m sorry–”
“For what? Having a dragon? A ‘sorry’ won’t fix it, Tom. You betrayed us. You betrayed the queen.”
Tom couldn’t hold it in any longer. “The queen killed my father! She murdered him! So I’m sorry if it feels like betrayal to you, but it’s not. I’m just trying to fix what’s wrong.”
May whirled around to face him. Her face was flushed red, and her eyes were watery. “What’s wrong is that you’re a traitor, the enemy!” she cried. “And what’s wrong is that I can’t find it in my heart to alert the town. The queen. That’s what’s wrong, Tom. Not whatever happened to your family. Dragons are evil. Witches are evil. Magic is evil.”
Then she stormed away, leaving Tom stunned, shocked, and a little hurt.

Flame stretched up his head, flapped his wings, and let out a moan that would sound dangerous to anyone that didn’t know him. He thrashed his tail, and whipped his head around to face Tom.
“I know, boy,” he murmured, stroking the fiery red scales. “I know you want to go flying. But we can’t. We’ll be seen.”
Flame kept on acting up, rearing onto his hind legs and setting out a stream of fire. He didn’t care if they were seen or not. He just wanted to fly.
“Don’t you understand?” Tom asked sadly. “Flame, if they catch you, they’ll kill you. And me. And probably Mother, too. If they catch us, we’ll all die.”
Flame snorted. He thrashed his tail all the more wildly and let out a plume of thick smoke. Then he pawed at the ground, and stretched his wings wide.
“I don’t see how we can pull it off,” Tom said. In an effort to appease his dragon, he grimaced. “Unless it was a very cloudy night. With a crescent moon. And very few stars.”
Flame looked at him with a close-to-incredulous expression on his scaly face. Just look outside! It seemed to say.
Tom sighed, and went to the cave mouth. Looking up at the sky, he managed to suppress a startled laugh. The sky wasn’t visible, hidden above a thick canopy of clouds. The moon’s light was as dim as it had ever been, and not a star was to be seen.
Flame walked up to him and rested his head on the ground. He whimpered – softly, but not pitifully, as if to say, “Can we go flying now?”
Tom shook his head in disbelief. “I guess we can, if only for a little bit,” he replied. “But it must be quick. We must not be seen. All right?”
Flame snorted, then crouched down to the ground, lowering his head and folding in his wings. Tom knew this was an invitation to climb on. He did so, and was hardly seated before they were off, flying like an arrow towards their destination, which was above the clouds.
They got there almost at the speed of light. At least, that’s what it felt like to Tom. “Yes!” he shouted, clinging to Flame’s neck as he shot upward at a breathtaking speed. “I missed this, Flame. I missed this!”
The dragon snorted and flicked his tail. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.
They flew into a steep dive, and Tom thought that they would break through the cover of the clouds, but they swerved at the last minute and skimmed along their surface.
Tom gazed up at the stars, happy to be free like this once again. Once upon a time, he had been able to soar like this freely. He had dipped, he had flown, he had spent time with his dragon in the open all the time.
That was before the stronghold he had lived in had burnt down. That was before he saw his family around him die. That was before the queen killed his father. That was before he and his mother had fled, only to be pursued into the far depths of the caves in the tallest mountains. Before they had barely escaped to this little village, where they had spent the remainder of their days.
And now they could never fly. Not without giving themselves away, not without the threat of death. How Tom savored the feeling of the air rushing against his cheeks, the awareness of his dragon under him, the joy of being airborne. He wished that they wouldn’t have to go back and face life, that they wouldn’t have to pretend to be like everyone else...hating dragons, training to fight them, going out in the world to kill them. He wished it could be like this forever, this eternal feeling of peace and solitude staying inside him and Flame always.
But it could never be. No one one else would ever see the world as he saw it, from the sky. No one else would get to feel the pleasure of flying.
Except…maybe they could. All of a sudden Tom was filled with an inexplicable desire to share his privilege, his emotions. All of a sudden he didn’t want to hide anymore.
And he didn’t need to. May knew about Flame, she had seen him with her own eyes! She didn’t kill him, like he had half expected her to try to. She could fly, too. She could come with him, enjoy the feelings, just like him. But would she come? Probably not. And would Flame allow her to get on his back? Probably not.
But, Tom thought to himself with a longing for his father, who always said this, the least I can do is try.

Chapters:   « Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 9 Next »

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