The wind was freezing. Starskimmer blinked awake and pulled her sleeping furs a little tighter around herself. She buried deeper into the bedding, curling her fingers into it, doing her best to ignore the chill that had made its way into her den.
It took her a few sleep-drunk moments to realize she was alone. With a yawn and a tired glare at the glimmer of light seeping in from the den's entrance, she got out of bed, a fur wrapped around her shoulders, found her footwear and made her way outside.
The world was covered in white and brightly lit by sunshine, so finding the tracks of her wayward four-turns-old cub was no challenge. Grumbling to herself about lost sleep, she began to follow them.
The tracks lead towards the river, and upon realizing this she froze. Images of Otter, swept away by a cold stream or trapped under the ice, flashed before her mind's eye and quickened her pace, hoping with all her heart that she wasn't too late. **Otter?!**
What she found was a very dismayed cub, seated on the river bank.
Starskimmer's shoulders sagged and she exhaled a breath of pure relief that created a little cloud of mist, which quickly dissolved. “Dear cub, what are you doing out here?” she asked, more to get Otter's attention than out of any real confusion.
Otter was seated in a uneven nest of snow, his small hands balled into fists and his arms crossed over his chest in a gesture that was more a sign of frustration than a way to keep the cold from making him shiver. "It didn't work," he simply said, sounding utterly heartbroken.
"What didn't work, dear one?" Starskimmer put a hand on one of his shoulders and crouched down, slipping part of the fur she'd brought with her off her back and onto his.
"Notch said," Otter mumbled, looking down at his hands, "I could wish the ice away."
Starskimmer's frown deepened, but she quickly covered it with a smile. "Silly Notch, he must have wanted to cheer you up. You know it will all be gone by New-Green. You'll just have to be a bit patient."
The nod she got in reply was anything but enthusiastic.
"You scared me half to death, running off like that on your own" she said, smile still in place, and felt Otter curled in on himself.
"I'm sorry," he said, sounding ever so pitiful.
Starskimmer shook her head, smile still in place. "Come now, cub."
Shivering, Otter got to his feet, cuddling close to her as she wrapped the fur around them both. "Since you're so eager to get up already, we're going to get dressed and then I'm going to give you a lesson."
Otter hung his head. "Sorry," he said again.
Starskimmer chuckled and hugged him close. "Don't be, dear one. I'm not angry with you! I'll just teach you how to make good snowballs that don't fall apart and then we'll go show your brother, so he can see that you have fun things to do in snow as well as the water."
Starskimmer smiled down at Otter and then began to lead the way back to their den. Before the sun had set, Notch was going to get quite the wake-up call.