Such beautiful news awaited me once I woke up in the morning, the alpha had left to take care of some business and wouldn’t come back until sometime next week.
He didn’t need to come back at all, for all I cared.
My mood was so good that for a change I woke up the children who were still sleeping and hastily clothed myself and the smaller ones and then pushed them all outside, all but Rem and Morr who were too little for long games in the frozen wonderland.
Fresh snow was glinting all around us, I was lost in the moment when a small body jumped on my back and sent us both flying to the ground, our fall cushioned by a snowdrift.
I quickly turned around and trapped the little rascal with my back, his laughing told me it was Hadden, then the rest jumped into the snow near us and so the great snow war began.
We began building a huge snowman when grandma called for us to come inside for a late lunch. I completely forgot about time or anything to be honest, it was just me and the children, having fun.
I didn’t care if I was being childish as a certain somebody would say. Even back in our village, I swore to myself to always protect my inner child. Because I often felt like children were the only people who were genuinely happy and who were able to appreciate even the smallest joys of life. I felt like people lost this ability as they grew older, that’s why I'd always admired those who had the spark of youth in their eyes long after finding first wrinkles on their faces.
I wanted to be that person, always.
What happened back home… I forgot about my vow to myself.
But in that moment, when our cheeks were pink, almost red from the chill and our smiles were wide, and these children around me, their eyes sparkling with life. They’d lost so much and yet…
Sabah noticed my stalling and came to my side, “What are you thinking Meg?”
I smiled down at her, she had beautiful grey-blue eyes and long red curls falling wildly around her head and down her back. She was smiling back at me.
“I’m just thinking how lucky I am to have all of you.”
She put her small hand in mine, both cold after the hours spent in snow, and looked at the others, still grinning.
I was just noticing how much they had changed since we came here.
I still woke up some nights to the sound of one of them silently crying for their mom or dad, and I still held each one until they fell back asleep. But then, when they woke up in the morning, eyes red and puffy, they were smiling towards a new and exciting day.
I got used to their smiles so quickly I sometimes forgot how miserable they’d looked back in the woods, and how malnourished they were. Their cheeks had filled up quite nicely since then and were looking healthily chubby again.
I gained weight too, some curves were finally showing underneath my clothes and I no longer felt like fainting after more than five steps. Thinking of our weight gain I remembered that grandma called for us to come eat lunch.
I hushed them inside, they were groaning but pretty willing to go since we’d forgotten to eat breakfast.
It showed. Both me and grandma had to remind them every now and then to slow down for the sake of their bellies. Still, lunch had been quickly devoured and I set up to wash the dishes while grandma and the children nestled in the living room.
I was halfway in washing the dishes when someone knocked on the door, Haken was immediately there, I couldn’t see who it was but I could hear Haken talking and then heard the mysterious someone entering.
I thought it was Binah or her boys who’d come to play but the wolf who stepped into kitchen smelled differently, and it was definitely a male. I spun around quickly to find Korbin grinning down at Haken and messing his light brown hair.
The little fox was smiling when he looked at me, “Look who came to see you Megara.”
I stopped the running water before turning back to them, “What are you doing here Korbin?”
“Didn’t I say that I wanted to see you again and talk to you? I had already missed you so much, I just had to come and get you to go out with me.”
I couldn’t hide a smile, “Natural born actor I see.”
“So I was told a couple of times, I’ll take it as a compliment from you,” that flirty grin could spin girls’ heads for sure.
“We were going to play board games, do you want to join?” interrupted Argo who came into the kitchen.
“I actually wanted to ask Megara if she wanted to come for a walk with me,” Korbin smiled at her.
“Oh,” Haken cast his sad eyes down to the floor, another natural.
“I have to finish these dishes, I think you’d be able to play a game or two Korbin,” I was teasing him a little, I doubted he wanted to play board games with a couple of kids and a grandma, but nonetheless, I wanted to see his reaction.
Korbin’s smile didn’t falter, “Then I’ll play, but you two will help me get Megara to go for a walk with me,” he was looking at me when he spoke.
Without waiting for my answer Haken grabbed Korbin’s hand and dragged him into the living room, I could hear Korbin saying hi to grandma.
“Oh, Korbin is that you? I swear you’ve grown since I’d last seen you,” said grandma, and then I could only hear children chirping and bickering as they couldn’t decide which game to play and who would be in a team with Korbin, since everybody seemed to want the prestigious spot.
I was smiling when I started the water again and began washing.
There was an impossible amount of snow closer to the edge of the forest. Branches of trees reaching down, heavy with white clumps, some shaking the snow off and reaching back up towards the darkening sky.
We were surrounded by beauty as we made our way through waist-deep walls of snow. Korbin insisted on being in front to make a free pass for me. But I grew bored of it after some time and jogged and jumped to his side. He looked at me with a frown but when I grinned at him he smiled too.
Korbin wanted to show me a favourite place of his, but first, we’d had to get there.
He played three games with my kids and grandma while not complaining one single time. I was stunned and the children were almost in love with him. Just after a couple of hours of knowing this young man.
I looked at him again. The white wolf tied his hair in a bun, some strands falling around his face.
I was indeed surrounded by beauty.
“Why are you talking to me? Why make effort when your whole village is clearly against us?” I had to voice the thoughts that kept circling in my head.
He frowned again then looked at me, “Honestly Megara, why does a man approach a beautiful woman?”
I stopped, still watching him, “Why?”
He stopped too, leaning his head to the side, almost like a puppy, “I wanted to see if we’d get along.”
“And do we?”
“I’d like to say yes.”
We had been talking the whole time since we left the warmth of grandma’s house. The conversation wasn’t awkward, we had a lot of things in common and our humour was very similar.
“What do you think momma?” It was his teasing nickname for me.
I pretended to think about it, “I don’t know, you’re kind of starting to annoy me already,” I kept a fake serious look on my face.
“Well you’re far more patient than anyone else I’ve talked to,” it made me laugh a little.
He was so easy to talk to, to joke around, to laugh with.
“We’re almost there.”
I didn’t notice the moment we stepped into the forest, or that we were walking up a moderate incline, our conversation and my wandering eyes kept me busy.
After a couple of minutes Korbin turned to me and asked me to close my eyes. If it was any other wolf, well except Binah, I would probably not comply so easily. But I was already building some form of trust towards Korbin and so I closed my eyes. I still had my nose and ears to sense danger if it should had befallen on me.
But Korbin just lightly took my freezing hand and led me higher up into the forest and then carefully helped me around trees until I felt a mild wind grazing my face and caressing my hair, sweeping it with its ever-changing current.
“You can open your eyes,” he stood beside me, not letting go of my hand, and then I looked and beheld the village of the wolves spreading bellow us. Yellow lights flickered in windows of houses, trying to mirror the starry cloudless sky above. We were standing near a ledge in a rocky side of the mountain, not too far up from the settlement.
I squeezed his hand tighter, “Thank you for sharing this place with me, it’s stunning.”
It almost looked unreal, more like a peaceful painting. This point of view was changing my perspective of the village. The place I dreaded, the people that hated me, the place where they took us in and clothed us, gave us food. They were apprehensive but they still offered us the clothes. And grandma, she gave us home.
I could see her house, now full of life, lights shining invitingly.
Maybe we gave her something in return.