“You're such a stubborn she-wolf,” Honey said, trying to examine the paw. Mooncrier was having none of it, though, and stubbornly tucked the injured leg up underneath herself. It was clear from the slight whine of pain that she couldn't quite contain that the injury was painful for her, but thus far she was resisting any offer of sympathy or help.
“Well, at least it didn't look too bad yesterday after you did it. Shouldn't be any worse today since you've stayed off of it.”
Despite the mild annoyance she felt at her bond-wolf refusing any aid, Honey was still a bit concerned. Barely a full day ago they had been chasing after a rabbit near the Holt when Mooncrier had stepped into small hole and twisted her foreleg. It wasn't serious but it would keep her from running, or even walking well, for a couple of hands of days while it healed.
“I bet one of Starskimmer's poultices would help that heal faster,” she said thoughtfully. Seeing the look of confusion Mooncrier gave her she elaborated.
“It's medicine...it helps you feel better sooner.”
As she explained she tried to send her wolf, in the simplest possible, terms what she meant. She shared a memory of once having a poultice applied to heal an injury and how it had felt. She didn't get much further in her description though than a memory of how it smelled.
Mooncrier withdrew a bit at just the shared memory of it. Like most wolves she wasn't very comfortable with things she couldn't understand. That apparently included strong smelling medicines applied by anyone other than her bond mate. Even then it might be a bit of a struggle but the point was moot since Honey wouldn't be skilled enough to do the job in Starskimmer's place....even if Mooncrier would cooperate. It was quite obvious that she intended to lay right here until she felt well enough to run by her own natural healing.
“Fine then. Have it your own way. Lay there like a big lump and starve if you must.”
With a huff Honey sat back against the tree they were sitting under. She had brought her work with her and had meant to keep Mooncrier company before the wolf's aloof manner had gotten on her nerves. As her bondmate did her best to ignore Honey, she now returned the favor and returned to attaching the fletching to the arrows she needed to finish.
For many long moments they sat like that, both of them seeming to try to out-ignore each other. Finally the silence was broken when Mooncrier's belly gave a loud rumble. Honey remembered then, belatedly, that since her wolf had been injured they hadn't caught anything. While Honey had found something to eat from the elves' stores of food, the wolf had gone hungry. Instead of asking for any help the stubborn creature seemed determined to starve herself, just like the unbonded members of the pack, until she was well enough to hunt for herself.
“Stubborn wolf,” she huffed, rising to her feet. “You wait right here. I'll be back.”
And with that she stalked off, leaving Mooncrier to watch after her. She only spared one backwards glance to see the confused look she was being given. Moments later she was jogging out and away from the center of the Holt.
Solo hunts were forbidden at any real distance from the Holt. With so many wolves and elves living here there was very little in the way of game this close. Honey suspected though that she could scrounge up a little something if she was patient enough. No doubt Mooncrier would turn up her nose at something that had been stored in Preserver silk. She would want something freshly killed.
Honey only had a few arrows since she hadn't finished the ones she had been working on. With a wry smile she realized that maybe she was just as stubborn and headstrong as Mooncrier for running off that way to fend for her injured friend. This would have been so much simpler if she had thought it through. No matter though, she would find a bit of game and feed the hard-headed she-wolf....whether she wanted to be fed or not!
Becoming a hunter had brought out good things in her, Honey decided. She felt more self-sufficient, of course, but there was more to it than that. Now she was more patient and enjoyed helping others. The old Honey might not have felt so strongly about that sort of thing but now she did. It felt good to help Mooncrier and tend to her. Now if only her wolf would relent and actually let herself be care for!
As she pondered this, a noise came to her. With her instincts now tuned to such things, Honey stopped and listened, letting the sound come to her instead of rushing to find it. There, in a tree not too far away, she heard it again. Looking into the high branches, she caught sight of movement and waited patiently for it show itself again.
Her patience was rewarded. Peeking out of the foliage was a large red squirrel. Not much more than a snack for a wolf the size of Mooncrier, but it would be a good start. Taking aim with her bow, Honey held the arrow for a long moment, waiting to have as perfect a shot as she was able. Once she was certain, she let the arrow fly.
There was a high pitched squeal as the arrow hit true. Then both the arrow and the now-impaled squirrel came tumbling out of the tree. Honey had to jog several paces to where they had fallen and retrieve her prey. The animal hadn't suffered but the arrow had broken in the fall to the ground. Well, no harm done then. She had others or could at least make more. With her prize in hand she turned for the not-so-long walk back into the Holt.
Much to her chagrin Mooncrier at first seemed reluctant to take the offered food. She sniffed it once and then turned her head away from it. Honey frowned and crossed her arms across her chest.
“It's perfectly good meat! Why won't you eat it?”
The wolf looked at her and her sending was somehow more profound than words. Honey could feel Mooncrier's desire to run and hunt for herself. It wasn't the Way in her mind to let others take care of her as if she was a helpless cub. It seemed more like she was the one who wanted to be taking care of others, not the other way around.
Honey sighed and sat down beside her wolf. She wrapped her arms around Mooncrier's neck and gave her a hug. While she might be hard-headed and infuriating sometimes, she was still Honey's!
“You would do the same for me. We help each other, right? You need to eat so you can stay strong for our future hunts.”
With that, she released her grip on Mooncrier and moved back to where she had been sitting before. Her wolf would eat or she would not. Honey just had to accept that she couldn't control that. What she could control, though, was getting her arrows ready for the promised hunt once Mooncrier's leg was well enough to run on.
As she worked, she saw Mooncrier sniff tentatively at the meat but pretended not to notice. Moments later she was feeding from the meat but seemed to be trying to be quiet about it. Honey smiled to herself. If Mooncrier wanted to still play it tough,she could play along. Whatever got her to actually eat.
With her meal done, the two of them then sat there together for the rest of the evening. It was quiet and peaceful with only the night sounds of the forest and the muted sounds of the rest of the Holt in the distance. They passed the rest of the night in that manner and Honey decided she was rather happy with that.
Several nights passed in a pleasant blur of activity and flow of life in the Holt. With time, Mooncrier's leg healed and Honey finished her arrows. In fact it was almost time for the hunt she had promised. A party was setting out at nightfall, and they were riding with it.
In the distance Honey could hear the others starting to assemble. Making sure she had everything, she hurried to join them. She was surprised, though, as she exited the Mother Tree. Mooncrier was waiting there for her and in the wolf's jaws was a very recently dead rabbit.
“Did you get anxious and start without us?” she asked, a bemused smile coming to her face. Instead of any other reply, Mooncrier came forward and dropped the animal at her feet. Honey looked at it for a moment and then back to the wolf.
**Same for you**
It took a moment for that to sink in. It hadn't been so much in words but as a memory of what she had said before. Mooncrier remembered and had reciprocated. Her smile grew wider as she hugged the wolf again.
“Like I told you before.....we take care of each other.”
The hunt might be waiting for them, but Honey imagined they could wait a moment more. Enjoying the deepening of her bond with Mooncrier seemed more important just this moment. There would be plenty of game and they would get to it....in just another moment more.