When the whine first cut through the song growing in his head and beneath his fingers, Moss was annoyed but not angry. Things had not progressed too far and it was all still embryonic, too new to be lost completely. Still he frowned and lowered Heartsong to give Weasel a stern look. "No," he said firmly. "Not now."
The wolf tilted his head, tongue lolling out, and Moss suddenly had a feeling that his wolf-friend was laughing at him. He dismissed the idea with a shake of his head and brought the harp back to his knee in the proper upright position, fingers moving back to the start point without conscious thought. He tested first one note and then the next, frowning, and finally settled on a third as his key note. Closing his eyes, Moss once more began chasing the idea which had come to him the night before. He could still summon up the sensations if he tried hard enough – the glow of the lifting moons, the soft whisper of the wind against his cheeks that also made the newly budding leaves dance in slow pirouette, the smell of green dampness that would bring on the fullness of everything.
His fingers wandered over the delicate golden strings, directed by the sensory recall to mimic the soughing wind. One note rose above the rest, here and there, until it became a steady highlight against the base hum. Another note joined it in a quick one-two downbeat. He smiled a bit, remembering the way the spring rain fell, and he increased the tempo. Leaning into the tune now, Moss drew his fingers more nimbly over the strings to emphasize the odd notes. He added another, decided it was too far off the mark, and removed it in the next round. Another tone was tried and he nodded vaguely to himself. One, two, three. This was how the night translated to music. Anyone could see it by listening and closing their eyes – the fresh spring rain and the peaceful rebirth of the forest.
When the piercing howl cut through his haze, his hand slipped and a jarring tangle of notes joined the pained, off-key sound. Eyes opening wide, Moss snarled as he looked around for the perpetrator.
Weasel lay flat on his belly, front paws placed dramatically over his upper muzzle, nearly hiding his eyes, and his ears pressed back in exaggerated pain. Moss glared at his bond. **That was you, wasn’t it?** he accused, the rare sharpness in him bleeding through in the distress of losing his song.
Paws coming away, Weasel lifted his head and gave a cheerful, unrepentant bark. Then he shook his head, ears flopping a bit at the force of the motion. Moss felt his mind assaulted with images of other wolves hiding and his fellow elves covering their ears. Then there was a brief tease of the river and the fun had there. **Stop.**
The elf quality to the send, clear indications of too high, too sad, and too blue, drew Moss up short and he frowned at Weasel. The young wolf looked back at him placidly before sharing another, more vivid picture of cool, lapping water and silvery fish just beneath the surface. The shared idea shaded then into lush green grass being shifted about by small, crunchy, tasty, running things. Moss felt the corners of his mouth threatening to draw upwards and shook his head slightly. "I'm doing something," he informed Weasel in deliberately haughty tones.
Moss set Heartsong to one side and leaned forward, hands braced on his knees. "What do you mean, not good?" he asked, interpreting Weasel's reaction into a value statement. "It was turning out perfectly until someone decided to add his own voice to it."
Weasel shook his head again firmly and settled back onto his haunches. **Not good.** came the determined opinion in echo of the words Moss had used.
"What do you know about music?" Now it was becoming a game and Moss had to fight his smile, determined to avoid letting his wolf-friend have the last laugh. "You're just a pup, after all. Not even old enough to properly howl."
With that accusation, Moss found himself abruptly flat on his back, tumbled off his perch on the stump by Weasel's weight and held in place with a careful paw. He laughed, nose to nose with his bond. "You're lucky Heartsong was out of my hands for this, pup," he said. "Or else you'd be in serious dung."
Weasel snuffled at his hair and then drew back. Sitting again, he raised his muzzle and delivered a long, echoing howl to the night sky. Then he looked to Moss again with a grin and generous shared thoughts about a pack howling together, voices raising skyward, then haring off. A branch-horn falling. Full bellies and bloody jaws. **Good.**
Laughing again, Moss propped himself up on straight arms and nodded. **Yes,** he agreed. **Good.**
Carefully, Weasel moved to nudge Heartsong with his nose, indicating that he expected Moss to pick it up and comply. He gave a low, encouraging bark that then switched to a soft croon to illustrate the range of notes he suggested. Head cocked to one side, Weasel gave his bond an expectant look before repeating the earlier images of grass and water. This time, though, the send of moving grass resolved into a mouthful of furry tastiness and Weasel's increased salivation at the thought came through shockingly clear.
"All right, all right." Moss scrambled to his feet and picked up his harp, taking his seat atop the stump once more. "Let's see what I can do with your... thoughtful feedback." He grinned. "Now keep your muzzle shut, pup. Sooner started, sooner done."
With a worryingly perceptive nod, Weasel settled down to wait. He knew there were always ways around delay if his kin proved too slow. Closing his eyes, he listened to the growing strains of music and felt pleased that his bond had enough sense to listen to criticism.