“Grandmother! Sunlight! Wait for me!” Moonmoth cried out as he ran to catch up.
Shyheart smiled knowingly at her daughter, then squeezed her legs in a movement that caused her wolf-friend to stop. She turned and watched as Moonmoth’s legs flew beneath him. The cub was running fast as he could to catch them. She and Sunlight had purposefully left, hoping that Moonmoth would hurry to catch them. He had said he wanted to go with them, but had dallied. Their departure would teach him, without him being left behind.
“Can I ride with you?” he asked his aunt, panting as he neared them.
Sunlight nodded, then reached down to help her nephew up. She touseled his hair, then put an arm around him and motioned Nipper to move on.
As they started again through the forest, Moonmoth spoke up, his voice indignant. “You almost left me!” he accused.
“You weren’t ready, little one,” Shyheart said softly to her grandson.
“But—” he protested.
“No ‘buts,’” Sunlight chided. “We asked you to be ready, we told you we were leaving, so we did. You’re lucky you caught up with us.”
“Why would you leave me, though? Mother and Father told you to keep me with you!”
Sunlight smiled. “They asked me to keep an eye on you while they’re out scouting, but that doesn’t mean you are always with me. Especially if you’re not ready to gather.”
“I’m ready to gather,” Moonmoth insisted. “I’m ready to go with Mother and Father, too, but they won’t let me.” His lower lip trembled.
Shyheart didn’t want her grandson to feel left out. It was hard on him when his parents left on long scouting trips — she wanted to make their absence easier on him. She changed the subject. “I’m glad you caught us, Moonmoth. The berries are particularly sweet this season, and we need your help!”
Moonmoth left off any thought of argument and sat up proudly. “I can climb and crawl around easier, right?”
Sunlight and her mother laughed. That, the cub could do.
“Umm… Sunlight?” Moonmoth asked uncertainly.
Sunlight couldn’t hear her nephew. Unknown to him, she had stepped out of earshot for such a quiet call. Shyheart, however, did. She tucked the herbs she had gathered into a pouch and stood, brushing the dust off her pants.
"Grandmother?” he asked next, having not gotten an answer before.
“Yes, cub?” she asked, heading in the direction of his voice.
“I’m... stuck,” he responded.
Looking between two joined trunks of a tree, Shyheart could see Moonmoth’s large, violet eyes looking for her. “Here, cub,” she called, and his eyes met hers. He looked frightened, but she couldn’t make out what it was that had him scared. Or what he meant by being stuck.
“The bushes caught my hair,” he explained.
Hopping between the trunks of the tree, Shyheart came to rest in front of the berry bushes Moonmoth had crawled under. Sure enough, his hair was a tangled mess in the branches. She almost laughed, but he looked so solemn that she stopped herself. She knelt on the ground in front of him and reached to stroke his face.
Sending, she soothed, **It’ll be all right, Moonmoth. We’ll get you out of there.** She started to reach for her knife, knowing that the quickest way to get him out was to cut his hair. It would grow back.
**No!** he sent forcefully. **Don’t cut my hair. Please?**
**You've been told before, haven’t you? To tie your hair back, I mean.** she asked plainly.
**Yes, but… I didn’t realize,** he responded.
**All right, cub. How do you propose we get you out?**
“Well,” he whispered. “It’s why I wanted Aunt Sunlight first. She could… well, maybe she could, you know, shape the bushes out of my hair?”
Shyheart sighed. She knew her daughter could do it, but she didn’t want anyone taking Sunlight, or her powers, for granted. Still, she thought Moonmoth had learned his lesson and was willing to summon her daughter and see if she would help.
**Sunlight?** she sent.
**Moonmoth needs your help.**
A locked mental giggle was the response Sunlight gave. She was coming to help, and she would not laugh in front of Moonmoth, but she was mirthful at the image Shyheart had sent. **I’ll be right there,** she responded.
“Sunlight!” Moonmoth called as soon as he could see her. Though he was stuck, the cub tried to move toward his aunt. The branches, and his hair, wouldn’t let him. “Help?” he asked his aunt.
She nodded, then knelt on the ground next to Shyheart and extended her hands. The telltale green glow of shaping power emerged, and Sunlight began playing with the bushes. It was the only way Shyheart could think of it as she watched her daughter — the smile on Sunlight’s face, and the joy she seemed to get from using her powers. It was work, for sure, but Sunlight wouldn’t complain about it. This work with the bushes was much easier than other work she had done.
Soon, Moonmoth’s hair was free, and the cub crawled out from under it. He crawled into his aunt’s lap and hugged her tightly. “Thank you!” he whispered.
“Next time, Moonmoth, tie your hair back before you go crawling under bushes,” Sunlight advised.
Shyheart smiled at her daughter and grandson, then added, “Next time, we’ll just cut your hair.”