Whitestag ran a finger around the fading artifact of Flash's red-and-orange handprint, gladly enduring the ache in his heart for the loss of one of his lovemates. Then he looked down to the other lovemate, still silently waiting in wrapstuff.
"Flash stopped coming down here by herself, I know. Sometimes, before the end, I had to drag her down here to see you." He kneeled down to address Fletcher more closely. "I was never able to say the words before... but... she'd given up on ever seeing you again. By the end, she came to believe that there'd never be another healer - that the line, her line had become thin and weak, like watered down wine. She thought it was cruel having to come down here and look at what she'd never have, wished that she could just howl for you and get on with this, but she and I were just as trapped in the moment as you. We used to fight about it, I'd tell her she just needed to be more patient and do it for me if not herself, but... then... as time went by... what she had to say made more and more sense. She was Owl's great grand-daughter. If not her, then who?"
"One night, when we were out alone together, out catching rabbits among the Three Sisters, she fell to her knees and started sobbing. It was as weak and desperate as I'd ever seen her. Right then and there she made me promise never to do to her what had been done with you. To be honest, I asked her to make the same promise to me that very night. I don't want... this. And in a curious way, I'm glad she didn't..." The very thought of seeing two mates cocooned in this sad place.... He still didn't have the words for that.
He turned around to sit, his eyes on the passageway out of the cocoon chamber, his mind traveling its course up to the sun-bathed grass and into his parents' den where a white-haired jewel lay slumbering. "But I have a sister now. And she's... unique. She has fangs! She's all growls and stare-downs, and for the life of me, it's easier to deal with her as a wolf than as an elf. She reminds me of all the old tales of how Wolfsister and Moth and Rain were." Tears threatened to break forth on to his cheeks. "I do wish Flash were here, so I could hear them all again with her peerless voice."
He turned his head back toward his lover. "She gives me the hope I'd thought I'd lost.
If the wolf-gift can come back with such force after so many generations, why not a healer's?"
He got up to go back to his den. "I'll see you later."