“That one looks like a fat old wolf chasing its tail. Only the head is a bit… square, maybe.”
True Edge looked up from the new spearhead he was working on to where Kestrel sat on a branch a couple of wolf-lengths over his head. “What are you talking about?
“The clouds, of course. That one looks like a wolf, while that one over towards the mountains looks more like one of Starskimmer’s wine skins.”
He peered up through the nearly-bare branches and scanned the clouds himself. True Edge wasn’t seeing any of those things. To him they all just looked like clouds. Shrugging his shoulders, he turned his attention back to the task at hand. This spearhead wasn’t going to finish itself, and he would need it when he went back out to scout in a few nights' time. As it turned out, though, Kestrel was not to be so easily put off.
“You don’t see any of it, do you?” she asked, with only a hint of agitation to be heard in her voice. “You don’t see anything in the clouds?”
Sighing a bit, he looked again. If you stared at them long enough, he supposed, you could imagine shapes in them, but he didn’t see much point to it.
“All I see is rain… in maybe another day's time,” he offered, not really sure what to say.
“More like two days,” she corrected him, and in this at least he wouldn’t argue. Kestrel's weather-sense could be uncanny at times, and he certainly respected it.
“All right, then, two days' time. What’s the point, though, in staring at the clouds? They won't tell us anything except when the rains come.”
He couldn’t understand her preoccupation with such things sometimes, nor some of her other odd habits. True, she was his lovemate now, but that was still relatively new and they had yet to work out all the little problems between them that they had stumbled over. Seeming to sense his mood, Kestrel stared at him for several moments with that strangely intense stare she would get sometimes.
“It lets my mind wander free and soar like a bird. It sets my imagination free and helps me to see things I might not otherwise. You should try it sometime. The world is more than what you can hold in your hands, True Edge.”
Having no answer for that, he merely returned the stare for a bit before shrugging again and returning to his work. This apparently was the wrong answer, as he heard her make an irritated noise from her perch up above. This had all the makings of one of those ‘little disagreements’, as Snowfall called them, that they would have on occasion. What was worse, at least from True Edge’s perspective, was that he had started to dread such disagreements and usually felt badly for them.
This was unusual for him, in that he generally didn’t give a pile of wolf droppings for having irritated someone else so long as he was speaking the truth. Only very close friends and family received such consideration from him, and he realized what that meant. Though their bond was young yet, as such things went, it was true. Snowfall had been wise, apparently, in suggesting the three-mating. Beyond making her very happy, it seemed to also be bringing out the best in both of her mates, and what had begun as a tentative arrangement was growing stronger… much to Snowfall’s delight.
Laying his work aside, True Edge looked up and studied Kestrel where she sat. She had turned her attention away from him now to study the sky again. In fact, if he had to guess, he would say she was pointedly ignoring him. Considering the situation for a moment, he finally climbed the tree and choose a branch of his own close to but a bit above hers. She looked at him oddly for a moment as he climbed past her but then returned to ignoring him.
“Do you know what I see?” he finally asked once he had settled in on his branch. She didn’t answer but gave him a quizzical look so he pressed on. “I don’t see wolves or wine-skins up there. Just the clouds that bring us rain. My imagination doesn’t work like that. Not as well as yours does, anyway. That must be something else you and Snowfall share that I can’t follow. She can see all manner of stories playing out in the clouds and can hear the voices of old tales in the rain and wind. I guess that’s a gift of some sort.”
“It is,” Kestrel said in a quiet voice. “It’s a wonderful gift. We try to share it with you.”
It was true, he realized. She did try to share it with him. They both did, in fact. Just because he couldn’t fully share their vision, though, didn’t mean that he didn’t appreciate the effort.
“I know you do,” True Edge said, holding out his hand to her across the narrow distance between them. When she took it, he gave her hand a gentle squeeze before speaking again. “You ask what I see in the clouds. I prefer what I see now. My imagination isn’t as strong as yours, Kestrel, but I’m satisfied with that. After all, I’m quite happy with the world I can hold in my hands.”
For emphasis, he gave her hand another squeeze, and was pleasantly surprised when she smiled and squeezed back. There were still great differences and often distance of a kind between them, but with effort they were narrowing the gap. It amazed True Edge how far they had come, so quickly, but maybe it shouldn’t have. In a way they had touched each other's souls through shared love of another, and now it was maturing between them as well. In his own way, True Edge was willing to just accept and be grateful for all the joys he had found. He would leave the imagining to others.