It began small.
The wolf-bloods had never been weak. Not like the purebloods, or at least that was Two-Spear's very loud, very unshakable opinion. Therefore, when he had been chief, running to the healer for every little bruise and cut was frowned upon, just like growing plants or weaving baskets.
At first, Willowgreen was almost grateful. As much as soothing the pain of others was a gift, it was also giving of her own strength to others. In the furs, just the two of them, he'd confided in her that he wished her to keep her strength for when it was needed the most – wouldn't it have been a tragedy if she was too exhausted to deal with a real wound, a life threatening one, after days and nights of tending scrubbed knees?
She'd agreed. Maybe she wouldn't have, if she'd known where such thinking would lead.
But that was now and this was then. Then Two-Spear had seemed a good chief, a good leader of the pack. For that was what he was and Willowgreen accepted him as such.
He'd always be more wolf than elf – not in the way Graywolf was, but similar. He'd never think of time or plan like someone who heard the starsong louder than the wolfsong, or someone who had no inner howling to listen to at all. That was just who he was and Willowgreen was convinced that, with enough patience, he could learn to understand his own shortcomings and listen more to the advice of others.
Graywolf was a great help.
But the humans...the humans threatened what little balance there was between wolf and elf in Two-Spear. Or maybe not. Maybe he simply chose to listen more to the wolf as nights passed and kin fell. Maybe he saw it as the best way.
Willowgreen had never truly hated anyone in her life, but if she'd been strong enough, wolf enough, she was sure she could have hated the humans.
The fight seemed endless and it cut deep into all of them – but maybe more into her than the rest and guilt clawed at her innards at her own self-pity. She finally got to put her gift to good use, like Two-Spear had promised, and she was not enough. She was not enough!
She saved some, yes. Many of those brought back to the Holt – a word she still hadn't quite gotten into her head and heart – were made whole again, or at least as whole as possible. But there were always the ones that weren't saved in time.
She could not heal an empty body.
Somehow, it all got worse. Two-Spear was like a foam sick bear chasing shadows away from its cub and yet he wouldn't share with her, he wouldn't let her help. Even Graywolf was pushed away – and then the Recognition happened, leaving both Willowgreen and him at arm's length from Two-Spear, if not by force than by necessity.
Having won over - yet lost to - Skyfire, the basket of his mind seemed to start unravelling, reed by reed.
He gave her rules. The first was to never heal him. The second was to never heal scraps or bruises, even for the children. The third was to never heal anything that wouldn't leave permanent damage.
She questioned them, of course. Not loudly, not with rage or frustration, but with honest confusion. Answers never came, only judging stare and mutters of "silly pureblood" and "head in the clouds" from her tribe mates – the ones that dared speak aloud, at least.
After the death of her (their, her) daughter, it got so, so much worse.
**What have you done?!**
The slap stung less than the pure bile the sending spewed over her inner thoughts and self. The rage and the anger and the hints of betrayal all mixed into one, bellowing at her that she was wrong and shouldn't be. It hurt worse than any physical blow she could have suffered.
"I healed her." Her voice was shaky, her hands even more so and she couldn't meet his eyes. Instead they darted over to 'her' in question:
Brave, young Harefoot who'd do anything to be seen as a true hunter, a strong member of the tribe. Harefoot, who would have been One-Foot or worse, dead, before nightfall, had she not been healed. Harefoot who now glared with utter loathing at her – her, not Two-Spear – eyes filled with tears of anger and frustration, teeth bared in a silent growl.
And suddenly, all Willowgreen could feel was numb.
Two-Spear kept attacking, with words and thoughts more than his hands, but Willowgreen heard none of it. All she could see was his eyes. There was death in her lifemate's eyes. Her death.
As swiftly as it had begun, it ended, like a challenge among the wolves, like all Two-Spear's outbursts. He left, as did Harefoot, walked away and left Willowgreen in the middle of their camp, to be glared at by many and given pitying looks by a few.
She stood and just breathed for a moment. Then she brought one hand up to her face and mended her bleeding lip and bruised cheek. Her mind was harder to settle and she knew she wouldn't be whole for a very long time.
But that didn't matter. Not now, when she'd finally realized what was wrong.
She was not the mad one. They were. And tomorrow she would begin spreading the cure.