It had snowed during the day today, while most of the tribe had been asleep. Greenweave was pleasantly surprised to have caught a glimpse of it before the rest of the tribe had awakened. The snowfall hadn't come from a roaring blizzard. It was a stealthy, steady, quiet snowfall that had covered the ground while nearly everyone had been unaware of its presence.
'Just like everything else has been this season, or maybe even longer than that,' Greenweave thought to himself. He pulled his heavy tunic a bit more tightly around his neck and leaned against the curved opening of the den, trying to find a comfortable spot. He'd been sitting here for quite a while, and his back was starting to hurt.
His gaze went back to the landscape of white. To him, a snowstorm like this was such a wonderful, almost magical, thing. As the flakes drifted down and blanketed everything with an even coating of white, everything stopped to listen. Birds fell silent. Animals one normally could hear scurrying through the underbrush went quiet. At times like this when everything around was so soft and still, any noise, whether it be a footstep or the sound of one's own breathing, seemed much clearer and louder.
The snowfall had the same effect on Greenweave's thoughts.
'All is calm and quiet now,' he mused. 'Everything is so clean... almost perfect.' Everything was uniform, untouched. But oh, how soon that would change. When the young ones, and even some of the older ones, saw this new snow, they were certain to run through it. Footsteps would soon crisscross the pristine whiteness. Someone – more than likely Notch – would be sure to shove snow down someone's tunic just to hear them scream. There would be laughter, happiness. It would be a good day.
However, there was a little part inside Greenweave that would mourn the loss of the perfect, untouched, scene before him as it gave way to that pleasant chaos.
Much like he knew that a perfect part of his life must sometime, soon, be touched by another kind of chaos. Greenweave sighed. Sometimes, he tried not to think about it, but he knew there was no use in avoiding the inevitable.
Willow's healing powers had come upon the tribe almost like this snowfall had -- stealthily, quietly. Oh yes, the revelation of those abilities had come like a blizzard. But Willow had known about those abilities some time before. How she had kept that secret for so long was a mystery to most. She had been afraid -- unwilling and unwanting of her powers -- but now she'd had a change of heart. No one could argue now that the new healer wasn't trying her hardest to master her new abilities. She worked at it most of her waking hours until she was exhausted from trying. She seemed to be making progress. If all went well, sometime – perhaps sooner, perhaps later – she would venture down below the dentrees where the tribe's beloved wrapstuffed ones lay waiting. She would give them a chance to live again.
Honey, his Recognized, would get that chance. There was a part of him, a small part of him, that didn't look forward to her day of healing. It bothered him that he had such mixed emotions about that event. Of course he wanted her to be well and happy. He cared for her deeply. But time spent apart from her brought light to a fact about their relationship he had known all along. It would not work. When it came down to it, the life he was living now, with Cloudfern, was a happier life than the life he'd had before Honey was wrapped.
Her wrapping had been the peaceful, quiet snowfall that had given him a bit of reprieve. Time to think and for his thoughts to become clear and sharp.
When she was unwrapped, it would be time to face her; to tell her the truth that both of them knew, but neither of them really wanted to admit. They would both be happier apart. He loved her, but they were not meant to be together. He would not return to den with her. He would stay with Cloudfern. He knew it would hurt Honey when he told her, even though it was the truth. But it was a truth Greenweave knew needed to be said. He hoped she would be able to find the same happiness elsewhere as he had found with Cloudfern.
He knew he would not enjoy saying it. He hadn't spoken of his choice to anyone, because he guessed it would probably also hurt his daughter deeply when she found out. He didn't want his decision to reach her before he felt the time was right. He wanted to be the one to tell her.
Footsteps cracked in the fresh-fallen snow. Greenweave searched for the source of the sound that had permeated the silent peace. His gaze fell on Willow, who had descended from her high tree den. Judging from the gear she carried, she was going to check and reset her traplines.
How ironic that she had been the one to set first footsteps in today's fresh-fallen snow.
As he watched her figure retreat to the forest's edge, he took in one last glimpse of the near-perfect, snow-bathed scene before him, then ducked back inside to a warm den and a warm lovemate's side.