The stone dragon, smiling, watched Ezra ponder about her chores that morning. It was aware of changes in her. As part of the architecture she had been here since the cathedral was built. In the twenty years that Ezra had lived here she had never seen her so happy.
"Aldawin?" that one word was enough.
Ezra nodded, her eyes glittering. She caressed the ropes of the bells lovingly. The bells ringing quietly echoing her delight. Her heart did backflips in her chest. But it felt good. Great even. She wanted to sing to the high heavens and didn't care who heard her. Cleeves stayed away most of the day. This gave her more time to do what she wanted. She gazed at the bulging bookcase. The stone dragon leapt onto her shoulders, its stone claws clinging to her t-shirt. Despite what it was made of, it weighed surprisingly little.
"Which shall we read first?" it asked scanning the various volumes on the shelves with its glowing eyes.
Ezra grinned her eyes taking in the books hungrily.
"How about something I'm forbidden for reading?" she asked.
The dragon flicked its slender tail in confusion, "But you're forbidden from reading any of them unless Cleeves is either present or sets something for you."
Ezra turned her head to look at it, grinning again, "Exactly."
By the time the sun had reached its peak half the books lay in a pile on the floor. Ezra was reading a thick book on the history of the city while the dragon read a thinner volume on architecture. Both jumped as there was a knock at the door. Ezra glanced at the dragon who seemed to shrug, it was difficult to tell although its scales quivered. Ezra walked over to the trap door and opened it gingerly. An elderly woman in an old brown dress stepped up into the tower. Ezra recognised her as the woman who ran the book stall at the festival.
"Hello Ezra," she said smiling.
"How did you know I was here?"
The woman gave a light chuckle. But it wasn't mockery.
"It's hard to not hear your name when it's being yelled by an angry mob at the festival."
Ezra's heart skipped a beat. She had tried to erase that from her memory. The woman pulled out a scrap of parchment.
"Aldawin wanted me to give you this." she said handing it to Ezra.
Ezra opened it and scanned the letter as it turns out it was. She decided to properly read it in private.
"He also thinks you'll be pleased to hear this." the woman paused to let Ezra take it in, "There are about to be some changes."
"What sort of changes?"
"He didn't say. It's apparently explained in the letter. All he said was soon you won't have to hide any longer."
Ezra knitted her eyebrows as she tried to decode what Aldawin had meant. Although she didn't yet understand. In her mind, the changes couldn't come quick enough.
The woman smiled broadly, "I trust this pleases you. Good luck, Ezra."
With that she turned and climbed back down the spiral stairs.
As soon as her shadow disappeared, Ezra closed the trap door again. The dragon had frozen but as soon as the woman left became animated again. It stared at the letter in Ezra's hand as she returned to the pile of books.
"A letter from Aldawin apparently." said Ezra unfolding the parchment again.
The letter was written in what looked like hand-made black ink. The handwriting was a little scrawled.
I hope you are well. I won't make this too formal. I hope I can see you again soon. I presume Amity has given you my other message. I presume you are a little confused about what it means. There are changes coming. For now I have managed to evade Cleeves and his soldiers, they'll have a hard time catching me!
While I have been on the run I have managed to talk to people, hear what they have to say. I am converting them, Ezra. I am increasing their acceptance. Soon you will not have to hide any longer. I am working on getting these people to accept who you are. It hasn't been easy but I am making good progress. The public are changing their views and realising their hatred is pointless. Cleeves is becoming the enemy not you.
I plan to visit again soon but it will be after sunset, when it's safer. Hearing the bells ring continues to fill me with hope, knowing you are safe. I know we will see each other again soon.
P.S I love you
Ezra read the after note over and over, implanting it in her brain. Those three words were something she had always wanted to hear but never thought she would. Sometimes, if she stayed up late enough she could see couples walking past the cathedral at night. She had loved seeing people so happy but thought it would never happen to her. But even better, changes really were happening. People were changing, becoming more accepting. Something she had waited twenty years for this. The dragon hopped onto her shoulders again to read the letter.
"This is brilliant!" it cried swishing its tail.
It saw tears spring to Ezra's eyes, "Are you okay?"
She nodded wiping away the tears before they fell, "I guess I'm just a bit overwhelmed. All these things I've always hoped for and they're happening at once. So fast."
She suddenly noticed the sun's position in the sky.
"Oh no, I forgot!" she cried running down the steps to the bell ropes.
Grabbing it and clenching her hand round it she pulled hard. Sunlight streamed in filling the bell tower with warm, golden light and glittering on the metal of the bells as they swung to and fro. Their songs filling the room with music. Ezra loved hearing them. They all had their own unique sound. The bigger bells so loud they were like rumbling thunder, the smaller bells light, soft and gentle.
The dragon spread its wings and gave a tiny joyful roar as the sound filled the tower. Ezra continued to ring the bells for the next quarter hour or so. At times, as the rope rose to the ceiling she would jump and be carried up with it. The sound ringing in her ears and wind blowing her hair. It felt like she was really flying. Even the birds that flew past sang in unison in perfect harmony with the sound of the bells. Even Ezra sang.
Down below, the city went on as normal. The bells rang like a song through the streets. For those few short minutes, music filled the city. And for once, people began to listen.