So she swooped low, nearly grazing the top of a building, then spun into the air. Weary though she was, it was a delight to fly freely, without the risk of losing what she'd made. Anabel seemed less energetic, but she still circled underneath Elena, her red wings shimmering in the rain.
When she felt they'd aroused enough attention, Anabel landed gently in the town square, right beside the fountain. Elena touched down on the other side, her landing not quite as smooth.
Both dragons stood still, waiting for the crowd to gather and quiet. Elena could see Cal and Lara at the north end of the square, poking each other in the ribs. She guessed they were talking about telling her of this when she came back from the witch's house. She suppressed a grin, gleeful at the surprise they were about to witness.
It was tempting to roar, to test out her voice over the gathered mass, but she would either end up making a fool of herself or intimidating the people, neither of which was a good plan. She and Anabel made eye contact, and then in one swift move, both shifted back into their human forms.
A collective breath rose, the first quick draw of a bow across strings. Elena stepped onto the short concrete wall around the fountain. She took Anabel's hand to help her up. They looked over the crowd. Suddenly, Elena wasn't so sure of herself. What if they ran her out of town?
She pointed to the sky. The crowd fell silent.
“You have all said the witch brought the drought,” she said, trying to project her voice. “You were wrong. The drought came alone. But she brings the rain.”
The only response was renewed muttering. Elena turned to find Cal and Lara, making desperate eye contact. Somebody had to believe her. Neither of them spoke, but both of her friends smiled at her. Lara bounced on the balls of her feet in her excitement.
“Now we both bring the rain,” Anabel said. Few people besides Elena had ever spoken to the town witch, ever heard her voice. Now each word rung clear across the square, a diamond dropped into a pond. Elena had never heard something so beautiful. “The rain that falls on you now is our contribution to the wellbeing of this town.”
“Just as each of you grows food or builds furniture or repairs clothing,” Elena added, “we bring the rain.”
“This town has been wary of me,” Anabel said. “But today I ask you to trust me as you trust one another.” More of the people were nodding, and the tone of the muttering had lightened considerably.
Anabel smiled. “That's good enough,” she whispered to Elena. “They'll need time to think anyway. We can come back tomorrow so I can meet people.” They both stepped down. Elena turned back, looking out at the townspeople she was no longer sure she knew.
“Come on.” Anabel took Elena's hand, interlacing their fingers and drawing her gaze away from the crowd.
“Wait, I've got to talk to Cal and Lara.” She could hear the pattern of their voices rising above the general noise and craned her neck to find them.
“Why don't you invite them back with us?” Anabel's voice was soft and low, soothing Elena's panic. “You can tell them everything.”
Elena sighed in relief. “I can?”
“Of course.” The smile on Anabel's face was as familiar as the squeeze of her hand.
“I'd love that.”
“Good. Let's go home.”
About Megan Reynolds
Megan Reynolds is a queer woman and a writer of women-driven short stories, primarily fantasy and magical realism. She finds inspiration in fairy tales, folk music, and the everyday magic of other women. If pressed, she considers Nancy Garden and Shannon Hale to be the most significant influences on her stories. When not writing, she loves anything that keeps her near water or mountains. She's currently teaching and seeking a little magic of her own on the West Coast.
by Caitlin Nicoll
“You can't touch her,” Luan said.
“And why not?” Chataya asked, putting her hands on her