Something made Katie worry the moment she entered the cave, although it took her a second to realize the source. The fire was out. The dragon usually kept it burning all day, gathering bits of wood while he hunted.

The dragon turned his head before he sneezed, spitting a bright burst of fire at the wall. Lumps of goo, still burning, clung to the rock. Foul smelling smoke wafted through the cave, making Katie and Julia cough.

“Jule, Kay,” he said, lacking his usual excitement.

Katie eyed the napalm-like phlegm burning on the walls.

“Yeah, he’s definitely sick.”

“Don’t wanna be sick,” the dragon moaned. “Can you make it better?” He eyed her hopefully. Katie swallowed and glanced at her sister. Julia was looking up at her with an equally hopeful expression.

Katie studied the dragon. Thick globs of mucus dribbled out of his nostrils. His skin, usually a vibrant shade of green was pale, and something glistened on it. She touched his forehead and had to resist the urge to pull her hand back. His leathery skin was coated in a light sheet of slime.

“Does he have a fever?” Julia asked.

“No,” Katie told her. She reached out and put a hand to her sister’s forehead for comparison. “He’s about the same temperature as you.” She paused, chewing on that for a moment. That wasn’t normal. The dragon’s skin usually felt much warmer.

“What’s a fever?” the dragon asked.

“It’s a sign that a human is sick. Their skin gets warmer. I think it’s the opposite for you, though.”

“What do we do?” Julia asked.

Katie shook her head. “I’m not sure there’s that much we can do. I don’t know how to treat a dragon cold.”

“Can we give him some medicine?” She turned to the young dragon. “It tastes yucky, but it’s good for you.”

“I feel yucky,” the dragon complained.

“Jules, he’s the size of a horse. We don’t have that much cough syrup, and I have no idea if it would even work on him. I don’t think there’s much we can do but make him comfortable and wait it out.”

She stroked the dragon’s head, doing her best to ignore the slime on her hand. “How does your tummy feel?”

“It hurts, but my head hurts more.”

Katie sat there for a moment, trying to think about how she’d treat Julia if she felt like that.

“Okay,” she said, trying to sound confident. “I’m going to the store to get some soup for you. While I’m gone, why don’t you and Julia go down to the river. You need to drink as much water as you can, okay?”

“Will that make me feel better?” the dragon asked, his voice pitiful.

“It will help.”

The dragon nodded, then turned his head and sneezed again, re-igniting the wall.

“On second thought, why don’t you stay here. Julia can get a bottle from the house and bring you some water.”

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