To Enchant a Dragon by Amanda Milo



Sunlight flashes off my scales as I soak in the rays. There’s nothing like feeling the cool refreshing water on my fins while the rest of me enjoys the unparalleled view of a cheery, cloudless sky. Tendrils of my hair trail off the rock I’m reclining on, floating across the water’s surface like rainbow-colored seaweed.

My sisters are sunning themselves on rocks nearby, everyone with full bellies thanks to the school of fish we came upon, and now the cry of sea birds lulls us into a gentle drowse. We’ve got a sweet breeze tickling our ears, and not one of us has a single care in the world.

A large shadow passes over me.

It’s so swift that it’s gone when my eyes pop open, but a chill cuts through my sunshine-induced haze.


Instinctively, I know it. “Did anyone else see—” I start to ask.

A ball of fire hurtles down from the sky.

Panicked, I slap my tail down with enough force to roll me off my rock, diving for safety, the shrieks and splashes from my sisters filling my ears—and then I can’t hear anything over the furious hiss of fire meeting water as flames blast across the waves and the rock tops we were resting on a breath before.

Recoiling from the water’s surface, we watch the fire dance over us like we’re under a glass ceiling. A quick glance around shows everyone is accounted for; the dragon did not claim one of us today. The gills on either side of my throat gape open as I gasp the biggest sigh of relief.

Massive clawed fingers close around me, and I’m snatched right out of the water.

A curdled scream bubbles up from my throat—and the dragon fumbles me, almost dropping me right back into the water. Because a mermaid’s song can be so beautiful it beguiles a sailor into a shipwreck, but a mermaid’s scream can burst a man’s eardrums.

I scream again and thrash like a caught fish, but rather than drop me, the dragon claps his other scaly hand around me, bringing me against the wall of his chest to keep me securely in his grasp. I push against him, shoving at the scales right over his heart no doubt, and—

A blinding spark of multi-colored light flares between us, heating my fingers, my hand, and traveling down my whole body.

What magic is this?

The dragon’s hands spasm.

“Ouch!” I yelp, because now my tail is caught—it’s being crushed and squeezed between his fingers.

I try to tug myself free, hating the pinch, terrified of what’s to come, and to my shock, the dragon loosens his fists enough to poke my flowing gossamer tail fins from between his fingers so that none of me is dangling on this flight.

I gulp and choke because I’m too panicked to close my gills so I can process the pure air. All I can think is dragons always burn their food to death. Why did this one take me alive?

For as long as any mermaid can remember, there’s been enmity between merfolk and dragon kind. At least the dragons in our corner of the world. Our cove is a peaceful place, nowhere near to the nest of dragons who live in the craggy clefts of Ember Pass, or Flame Pass, for that matter.

Yet we’ve lost countless sisters of the sea tribes to the marauding dragons.

Not expecting him to answer, I collapse into his cupped palm, his other palm forming a cage over me, and I cry, “Dragon! I am begging you—please let me go!”

His deep voice makes me shiver when he utters two words that nearly stop my heart. “I can’t.”



I have made a terrible mistake. Never play with your food, the nestmasters warned us. And I never have. Find prey, coat it in flames, snatch it up, eat. The process is very simple, and I’ve never deviated.

But today, I ventured to the waters called Titan’s Tears, situated under an ancient volcano, where the meats are said to be the choicest of delicacies. I’ve never hunted mermaids before and I fumbled my chance when I flew over them, casting my shadow down. Like startled fish, they scattered. I blew flames but was too late.

But I saw one—this one, the one I’m so tenderly holding now—I saw her shimmer of hair just under the water. Her mane is a prism of colors, the whole spectrum, just like a sky’s bow after a rain.

Dragons love shimmery eye-catching things. How could I resist? I knew I could capture her if I reached