Owned by: Vivian Vande Velde

Warning: witch-centric, thus the irregular thought process; mid-book, implied Alys/Selendrile

Note: Written alongside "Sunburn" and "Stockholm Syndrome" – both by Muse :3

The Dragon and the Witch, a Dragon's Bait collection

5: Fire

Summary: Alys was not the first to fall for a dragon.

Watching the young girl about to burn, she was reminded of the brilliant fire that destroyed her dreams and consumed her every waking moment. Not so long ago, although terribly distant to the weary woman's mind, the flames had warmed her on the most frigid of nights and saved her from more occasions than she could recall. Yet here she stood, delighted and pained all at once as a familiar scenario unfolded before her.

The girl cast a glance her way, horrified resignation painting her pretty features, and the witch was forced to look away. If only she could fight the unrelenting horde of imbeciles and thank this Alys for setting things right; the youngling would act as a vessel for her madness, scorched flesh and charred bones exuding the lingering feelings left by the source of her troubles.

The girl would burn, and the woman's soul would be returned. The despicable demon would suffer over one of her kind as she had over his. The fire would stop.

Before she was a soulless witch, she had been a girl in love. Scorned and ostracized for things out of her control, she met an ethereal man with brilliant ruby eyes and hair the color of ashes who offered her a way out. She accepted it almost greedily, taking to the man and finding he was not a man at all, but a creature more magnificent than any she had ever encountered. More prominent in her mind than his wonderful appearance or the character only he could ever possess was the fire he spewed; fire that saved her and fire that condemned her. Latched to a haphazard cross, she, too, had faced the unrelenting flames on his behalf, and he had come too late. Her body was scarred by the brilliance that once brought her joy, and her dragon, inconsolable and enraged, fell to the fire in a fit of lapsed judgment and a horrid misunderstanding.

The woman, unaware of her surroundings, blinked back into recognition as the throng of villagers rushed past her, a ferocious howl rousing her from her ponderance. Her vision was filled with gold as the dragon descended, claws latching onto the girl amidst the flames. For a moment, the witch was filled with anguish far worse than that she'd felt since her dragon's death, and then … there was peace. As the village crumbled around her and the gold disappeared into the horizon, the witch probed her mind and found that the flames had finally burned out.