She scarcely breathed. Her muscles ached. Her eyes watered. Her fingers stung where they gripped the bark of the tree. She didn't think she could hold herself still for another moment. Her leg started to shake from the strain of holding it still for so long.
She loved this game.
The doe was less than an arm's reach away, and yet it hadn't spotted or scented her yet. Windsong reached out with a slender finger ever so slowly and tapped its flank. Its head whipped around and it stared at her with its large, liquid-midnight eyes. Too startled to move, the doe stood still as Windsong smiled at it and waved. Its instinct caught up with it and it bounded away in a heartbeat, leaving Windsong exhausted from the chase-and-stalk and grinning from pointed ear to pointed ear.
That poor doe. Windsong had been stalking her on and off for days now, always sneaking up and getting the best of her. She chuckled to herself, and decided the time had come to give the game a rest.
She stretched her arms above her head and limbered up muscles that had just spent the past several hours going from either perfectly still, scurrying to keep up, or moving excruciatingly slowly. She stretched her back and reflected on how much more difficult it was to do this with so much extra weight on her front. She rubbed her swollen belly and smiled. I'll teach you to do this someday soon, she promised her cub. But first, let's go get something to eat.
She found a few handfuls of berries and sat on a rock overlooking a meadow and ate them. The early sun was chasing away the morning mist, and even the dew that hadn't yet dried out sparkled in the grass. She allowed herself a yawn. She knew she really should get back to the holt soon her new mate would be beside himself with worry if she didn't. But as much as she loved the new bond, it was very strong, almost overwhelming, and she felt a need to stand her ground and defend herself from being completely subsumed into it. Suddendusk was as fine a mate as anyone could ask for, but Windsong still loved her solitude, and her independence. He knew that about her. But she knew it didn't stop him from worrying.
She played with a braid and watched the butterflies float from flower to flower. She was a bit sleepy, she supposed, but something in her still resisted the idea of returning home. She rubbed her belly and hummed a quiet tune to herself. Herself and the cub. The hum grew louder until she was la'ing an aimless but pleasant little tune. The sun was warm and the rock was comfortable and the berries had both sated her hunger and slaked her thirst. She could see no reason in the world to move from her little spot.
She sang to herself, to the sun, to the morning, as well as to her new mate, to the new life within her, and the new life that awaited her with them both. As she often did, she lost herself to the song, and lifted her face to the sky.
The warmth of another body. The sudden exhale of breath on her neck. Who was there? How did they get so close? She startled and whirled around, her hand already at the knife in her belt, and she came eye-to-eye with liquid midnight and thick lashes. The doe gave another snort and bounded away into the woods.
All Windsong could do was laugh herself sick, and head back to the holt, having lost at her own game.