she climbed her own tower, with hook and rope and fingertips dug into the chinks in the stone. she let the sounds of the forest fade below her, only her heavy breath and the blood rushing in her own ears.
through the window at the top, she collapsed onto the cool stone floor and pulled the rope up after her. sweat mixed with salt tears, drying together into a mask on her skin.
she relished the silence, her footfalls deliberate clicks, the echoes fully under her control. she kept herself warm with her own fires on stone beds. if she noticed when her footsteps became claw-tipped and the mask became scales and freedom burst from her back in leather wings, the tower become a mountain steeped in magic and salt falls, she said nothing but there was no one to speak to.
over time she forgot what she had been before she wore scales.
when she heard heavy breathing outside below her cave, she looked down in confusion to see a young woman there. "I am fleeing a marriage," she confessed. "May I...?" she didn't finish, but the dragon welcomed her in, fed her and combed her hair as best she could with claws that had long forgotten, held her while she cried and waited until she slept before enjoying the sound of breathing around her.
This post was sponsored through my Spring Birdcage prompt call.