When she was little, there was a dream that remained as constant in her mind as the passing moon in the sky. Dark woods filled with foreign trees, carved faces along a trail with a cold wind blowing her hood away, her chestnut curls whipping against her soft pale cheeks as she tried to walk along the path towards the unknown.
Her hands had been small at first she remembered, but she did notice they grew when she had begun to as well. The woods remained the same in the passing of the years, and the wind, and the warm feeling in the middle of her belly as she walked in her dream. The first time she saw it, the pup seemed eager and playful, nipping at her fingers, licking her cheek, always pulling on her skirt as to guide her through the woods. When she took the first step and then the second, her dream would break along with dawn and she would awaken.
Years passed, the pup grew and seemed to be further away from her grasp every time they met. He would play with her less, let alone lick her fingers, but he still tried to guide her outside, safe from harm as they both grew older. “It’s not a pup” she would whisper as she flipped the pages of a book, looking for an answer. Her dreams intrigued her yet once “Dreams mean nothing” her mother had told her with an icy stare that made her quiver.
Her finger traced the outline of a drawing of a wolf, a furry thing with a long muzzle and teeth as fearsome as a monster’s in a children’s story. Yet the wolf in her picture seemed nothing like the one she had seen before; hers seemed larger and beautiful and kinder.
When at last she dreamt the dream she longed to dream, there he was, looking at her with bright blue eyes, his grey fur bristling in the cool wind, which played with her cloak as she tried to reach him. With every step she took forward, he seemed to back away but did not seem to wish to hurt her.
“Do you not like me anymore?” she managed to say as she kneeled on the ground with a sudden sadness. “Is it because I’m older now? Because I’ve flowered?” the wolf stared at her intently, slowly making his way towards her. Tears filled her eyes and tickled her skin as they slid down her cheeks.
The wolf poked her with his muzzle; a soft whine could be heard as he tried to get her attention. She lifted her hand slowly upward stroking his fur, and then wrapped her arms around his head as best as she could. He had grown bigger than ever, more beast than wolf she thought, yet she wasn’t scared.
His eyes seemed sadder than she had ever seen them, and when she looked at her fingers, hot warm blood seemed to cover them. But not her blood or his, some prey, someone else’s she thought. “Why are you sad?” she kissed the fur between his eyes and hugged him tight as to soothe him. “You can come to me, you know? Whenever you’re feeling lonely” she smiled, wiping the last of her tears away with the sleeve of her gown. The wolf stared long enough, as if it wanted to speak. He turned away from her quickly then, walking along the dark path beyond them.
He stopped right ahead, looking back as if asking her to follow. She did, quickly before the morrow made her wake. She followed him, one step, then another, light burned in her eyes and woke her. “They’re here, wake up girl. “She opened her sleepy eyes trying to make sense of things “the blood…” she looked at her fingers “no time for that” her mother pulled her out of bed throwing clothes at her in a hurry.
“The wolf’s right outside waiting to take this castle” her mother turned to look at her after she composed herself “well? What is it? Did you not hear me?” the ice in her voice seemed to melt away in panic. “A wolf?” she looked over to the window as she clutched her clothes. The screams of men and horse could be heard beyond. “The Young Wolf is at our door” she helped her younger sister to her feet to dress her. “Stay away from the window!” her mother bellowed pulling her away, yet her eyes couldn’t seem to peel themselves away from the darkness beyond her window.
The fever seemed to pass and the wound seemed to heal as it should after much work and worry. She wiped his brow carefully with a moist cloth, hoping to cool him. He smiled and touched her wrist gently “Thank you, my lady…for such wonderful care” his voice was coarse yet kind. “No need to, Your Grace” she dipped the cloth in water to drench it further. “Have we met before?” he asked taking in as much air as he could from under the covers. She merely shook her head and placed the cloth across his forehead.
Looking at her as she moved he whispered, “Maybe in a dream” and chuckled, a familiar warmth in her belly rising as his blue eyes caught her own. “Maybe…” she whispered back “you finally came and I’ve been waiting” a little voice whispered inside her as she tried to look away.