Megan stayed asleep for the walk home. Ivan and Candace lived a few houses down from the forgery and the bedroom I shared with Megan was small but I was fine with it. As Megan's soft breath hit my neck, though, I wondered if she was fine with it. I wanted her to be happy and I wondered if she really was. I sighed.

Elvira's suspicions were correct. I had inhaled too much smoke while working and had to take a few days off. The doctor gave me some bitter medicine to help soothe my throat and clear the smoke out. I was only allowed to drink hot tea. Although I enjoyed tea, it got rather old after a while.

Candace giggled when she saw Megan. "Looks like she had a good time," she said as I put her in the bed, tucking her in carefully.

"She did," I said with a nod. "Do you need help with dinner?"

"No," she said. "Go rest. Ivan told me what the doctor said."

"Snitch," I grumbled and she laughed.

I went back to the room and shut the door quietly. The bed was too small for me to share with Megan so I had fashioned a bit of a bed with extra quilts on the floor. I got in and closed my eyes, coughing and wincing at the taste of smoke. We had caught it early, though, so I would only be like this for a couple days. I closed my eyes and dreamt of Elvira.


I was back to normal quickly and eager to get to work. On my first day, the doctor came by with strange masks for Ivan and I.

"It works like this," he explained. "You loop the string around your ears. The material will help filter the smoke so you won't get sick as easily."

"Very hand," Ivan complimented, his voice muffled behind the mask.

It was a little uncomfortable but it covered my mouth and my nose and that's what mattered.

Ivan tasked me with fixing a few swords and I held them over the fire, frowning. Megan was getting restless. There was a school but I couldn't afford to send her there yet. At the moment, she was sitting outside with me, drawing with charcoal on a spare bit of paper. While I hit the hot iron with my mallet, I looked up a couple for time. She soon looked bored and I sighed, feeling like a failure.

It'll get better, Thomas. Somehow, it'll get better. 

"Mr. Buckley?"

I looked up. Elvira was standing there with her parasol on her shoulder and a bag in her other hand.

"Elly!" Megan said happily and hugged her.

Elvira smiled. "It's good to see you, too, Megan." She turned to me. "My mother has send me and asks that you repair this for us."

I put the mallet down and lowered the mask to my neck. I opened the bag and gasped.

"Maybe Ivan should do this," I breathed.

It was a sword made of fine silver. It had their family crest on the hilt. Somehow, it was broken halfway up the blade.

"I've never worked with silver before," I explained. "I don't want to-"

"Miss Rivers," Ivan said, coming up from the water. "How wonderful to see you! What brings you here?"

I passed him the bag. "They need that repaired but I don't think I should be the one."

He frowned. "Why not?"

"I don't know about silver," I reminded him. "You're supposed to teach me that next week."

He smiled and took out the two pieces carefully. "Sometimes the best teacher is experience. When would you like this done?"

"If you can have it by Friday, we would be appreciative," Elvira answered. Megan was playing with her parasol. "It is my brother's birthday and, since he is turning 26, it is time for him to have our father's sword."

"Of course. I'll have Thomas start today and we should get it done by tomorrow morning."

She smiled.


"My mother is willing spend 100 gold for it," Elvira interrupted and I stared at her.

That would be more than enough to put Megan in school for at least one term. I looked at the little girl. She was prancing around, lifting her shirt a little as if she were a princess at a ball. She giggled when she bumped into a table and apologized to her imaginary dance partner.

I bit my lower lip and took a deep breath.

"I would be honored," I said.


"I'm sleepy," Megan mumbled.

The sun had gone down but I was still working on the sword. I frowned at her.

"You were supposed to go home hours ago," I said, taking my mask off and kneeling down in front of her.

"I don't like being there without you," she said.

I opened my arms and she snuggled into me as I sat down, leaning my back up against the forge. She yawned loudly.

"Is it because you don't like them?" I asked.

"No. I like them a lot. I just get lonely and... I have bad dreams."

I made her look at me. "What kind of bad dreams, Meggie?"

"Fire," she said in a small voice. "Fire and Mommy and Daddy."

I sighed. "How much do you remember of that night?"

She leaned back into my chest, her head in my neck.

"I remember sleeping. It got hot and Daddy was yelling. You picked me up but you were crying a lot. Then we were talking to someone else."

"That's all?" I whispered and she nodded.

I stared at the ground, trying to think of a way to explain it without prompting more nightmares. I cleared my throat.

"Do you remember the story I told you about the brave prince going to save his princess?" I asked.

She nodded again. "You said he ran in and fought off the dragon. The princess was sleeping, though, and he had to kiss her to wake her up."

"Yes," I whispered. "You see, there was... a dragon that came to our house. Dad... Dad went back in to save Mom just like the prince. She was too fast asleep and his kiss didn't work, though. He got so sad that he swore to never leave her side again. He's... he's still with her."

Neither of us spoke for a while.

"Where's the dragon?" she whispered.

"I don't know," I answered. "I'm looking for it, though, and I know I'll find it someday."

"Is that why you work with fire? 'Cause you want to beat the dragon?"

I kissed her forehead. "That's exactly why I work with fire."

"I miss them," she whimpered and I held her tightly as she cried.

"I do too, Meggie. I do, too."

I continued to hold her until she cried herself to sleep. I lifted her carefully and took her to the grass where it was soft. I draped a sheet we used for cleaning spills over her, thankful I had cleaned it this morning. Then I went back to the sword.

"Is that why you work with fire? 'Cause you want to beat the dragon?" 

I sighed sadly. I don't know how she remembered all of that.

The fire had started because my father wasn't paying attention. He had been busy teaching me how to chop wood when a log rolled out of the fire inside the house. I had warned him not to put another one on but he was certain it would be okay. My mother had been resting and didn't smell the smoke. A beam fell on top of her and, when my father ran back in to her, the house collapsed on top of the two of them.

When the silver had melted together, I used gloves to push the two pieces together as Ivan had taught me. I laid them out and, after checking that Megan was still okay, I picked up my mallet. Blinking back my tears, I used all my pent up emotions to fix the blade.

The End

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