Chapter 7

As soon as Willowpaw left the shelter, she was pulled into the arms of her mother.

"Are you ok?" Willowpaw simply nodded. Her father howled to the sky, and Willowpaw joined, as they told the pack where they were, and that she was still alive. Within minutes, the whole pack bounded into the clearing and knocked her off her feet, attracting attention from many of the surrounding tailless pack. Willowpaw laughed, Akin joining her. Dark spoke up

"We will have to split up to get the ingredients for this river fever cure. Torak, you and Willowpaw fetch the sea water. Renn, get the cloudberries. There are some on the bank of the Axe-handle not far from here. With the wolves here, the wolf fur won't be hard, so I'll stay here with Fin-Keddin. Akin, what do you want to do?"

"if it's ok, I'd like to go with Torak and Willowpaw" Akin replied. Dark nodded. Immediately, the group gathered their supplies. Willowpaw hugged her mother and Fa kissed her on the cheekbone. Then they turned and headed towards the sea.

Three day walks later

Willowpaw's P.O.V

Willowpaw had had enough. Fa never let her howl, or growl, or yip, or do anything. It was always be quiet. She didn't understand why she couldn't talk. Fa and Akin got to talk. At the moment she was sitting on a rock above a river, on her own. She was lonely. Fa and Akin had left at dawn and it was sundown. She couldn't howl to her pack, or Fa.

She wasn't sure where Fa had gone, but she could smell salt on the air, and hear a loud rushing noise not far off. 'What is that' she thought. The noise had been there all day, and being on her own with it not far off was starting to scare her. Uncomfortable, she got up and lay down next to the bright-beast, or 'Fire' as Akin called it. The next moment she was asleep.

She heard a scream and woke. She was surrounded by a group of tailless cubs with a pale skin on their shoulders. Whimpering, she crawled backwards, only to yelp as the fire bit her. The cubs closed in. Quickly, she was backed so far into the fire's heat, that the heat was hurting. Finally she couldn't take it anymore. She howled. The cubs backed away in shock. Again she howled.

Fa came bursting through the tree, ignoring the cubs as they knelt and muttered the same thing Akin had when he had first seen Fa. Crying, she stood, run up to and clung to Fa as he growled comfortingly to her.

Akin started yelling at the cubs around them.

"Fa?" she asked, sinking to her knees, Fa doing the same

"My cub, I am sorry I took so long. The whale pack leader would not stop talking."

"I was so scared. I'm sorry I howled" she looked down ashamed.

"No, no, you did the right thing. You howled, and I heard" Fa replied as he lifted her chin to look into his grey eyes. Then he kissed her forehead "I'm so proud of you" he said as he pulled her close to his body and wrapped her in his arms.

Akin turned to her and put hand on her shoulder. He said something and Willowpaw looked at Fa for a translation.

"He said that the cubs are from the seal clan, my, and your bone-kin, and that they did not mean to scare you." Willowpaw nodded as Fa helped her up. Gently he pulled her through the trees.

Still Willowpaw's P.O.V

Willowpaw smiled as she watched Akin arm wrestling with another seal boy about a summer older than him.

They had gotten to the Seal Islands the day before and had been welcomed with open arms. At the moment she was sitting wearing seal furs that had been made especially for her to replace her tattered reindeer furs and was sitting at a fire in the center of the seal camp with a young girl with silver hair weaving her hair. She was the first girl to approach her when she had gotten off of the floating hide, or 'Skin-boat'. The taillesses really did have some really strange word. Fa stood not far off, keeping an eye on her while telling the Seal pack leader about Finn-Keddin's river fever.

The girl behind her let out a triumphant sound, and Willowpaw glanced back to see her hair in a pattern that stretched down to her tail-bone. She smiled, growling softly to the girl. She and the girl had known each other long enough to know the basics of the way they spoke.

The girl never said anything to anyone else. Willowpaw wondered why. Fa walked away from the Seal leader, and sat in-front of the girl. He said something Willowpaw did not understand, but she could ask later when they were alone.

Willowpaw spoke to the girl

"Why do you not speak to anyone else. It seems I am the only tailless you speak to?" Fa translate to the girl, then the answer to Willowpaw

"Because before you became known, I was treated as an outcast, because of my hair. Cubs never played with me, and the adults, apart from my parents, ignored me. When you became known, they accepted that many strange things happen in the world, so they accepted me" Willowpaw smiled

The girl suddenly said

"Snowthistle" Willowpaw just tilted her head, confused

"My name, is Snowthistle" Snowthistle grinned. " I was named this, because I was born during the first snow the Seal islands have ever seen, and I was born onto a bed of Thistles.

She pulled up the fur covering her right arm to reveal a web of scars. "They are from the thorns" she explained. Willowpaw smiled. She then noticed Fa looking out over towards a large cliff.

"Fa?" he jumped, as if she had started him "Are you alright?"

"Yes, I'm sorry my cub, but I lost someone at the base of that cliff, someone I should have been with, but I left him, and that was why he died"

Fa's eyes started watering, so Willowpaw stood, walked over and knelt in front of him

"Fa, not matter what, it was a long time ago, let the past alone. The dead will always be with us" she placed a hand over his heart "In here" She smiled, and he joined her, placing a hand over her own.

"You are so much like your mother, it scares me. She said something similar when I had to leave you". Willowpaw's eyes widened

"You had to leave me? Why? Wolf Fa always told me he found me ".

"I had to cub. The packs wanted you

FLASHBACK- (Sorry If it stinks, it's my first flashback)

An image of Torak, holding a small bundle, howling to the sky appeared.

Wolf emerged from the trees, alone as Renn came into the clearing, crying. Torak knelt in front of his pack-brother, and they touched noses in a greeting. Torak held the bundle up to the grey wolf, pulling off a layer, revealing a baby girl, eyes close, with red and black fuzz on her head. Wolf sniffed her, a gleam in his amber eyes.

Renn started to sway (Renn only just gave birth, so she's tired, but the baby is clean cause this is a story), so Torak hurriedly, but carefully set the baby on the ground and helped Renn sit on the ground. When the both looked back at the baby, they both smiled at each other. Wolf was lying, curled around the baby, with her snuggled into his grey fur, pink fists, grasping fistfuls.

"I begged My pack-brother to protect you, and he swore he would, until his dying breath."

NEW FLASHBACK

An image of a six year old girl with red and black hair, wearing a reindeer fur wrap around her hips appeared

Renn was peering through the willows at the edge of the denning place as Torak emerged with a deer carcass slung over his shoulders. He looked up as he heard the girl laugh, and saw the girl rolling in the dirt with a black she-wolf pup, growling happily.

Torak turned to Renn "The Clans want us back. They are getting suspicious"

"But I can't leave Willowpaw"

"Renn, Wolf will take care of her. Just trust him, and she will be fine"

Renn nodded

"Your right, but I have to say goodbye, I just have to"

Torak nodded.

LATER THAT NIGHT

Torak enter the denning place, Renn behind him. They stopped, startled. Their daughter lay, curled up, with her head resting on Wolf's side, as he himself lay wide awake, looking at them with calm, understanding eyes.

Torak nodded to his pack-brother, smiling and gently picked up Willowpaw, kneeling on the ground as Renn placed a hand on her forehead, muttering. Finally Renn sat on the ground, and Torak lay her daughter in her arms. Tears welled up in his eyes as Renn said

"She's so soft, and small. She's perfect"

"She gets it from her mother" Torak said softly. Renn smiled.

They sat there for hours, holding Willowpaw, and stroking her red and black hair. The sun started to rise. Full of pain, Renn lay her young daughter, on Wolf's side, and placed a soft kiss on her forehead. Torak kissed Renn's cheekbone, then drew his knife and drew it across the top of his forearm. He made sure blood was on the blade, before touching it to his jerkin, over his heart

"I swear to you, my cub, by my blood on this knife, and on my three souls, that our pack shall be together again, someday" Torak pressed his face into Wolf's scruff, breathing in the scent, as it may be the last opportunity he had.

The Pack brothers gazed into each other's eyes, both understanding, that they would see each other again

With one final look at their sleeping cub, they left.

END FLASHBACK

Torak glanced at his daughter, tears in his eyes

"it was such a pleasure to watch you grow up, but also a torture like no other. Not being able to talk to you was unbearable. I, I'm so sorry I had to leave. Please, forgive me"

Fa started to cry, so Willowpaw knelt beside him and gave him a hug. Fa looked up at her

"Fa, I understand, you had to leave. It's not your fault, so I have nothing to forgive you for, but I will not forgive the clans that took you from me." She smiled and looked at the horizon. The moon had began its rise, full. Snowthistle was the only one apart from them outside, but she lay asleep next to the fire.

Still smiling, she pulled Fa to his feet, and ran off. She heard Fa laugh and follow her. Over fallen trees, and under low branches she went, as Fa chased her. Finally, when she tried to climb a tree, Fa caught her arm and pulled her to the ground. They smiled, as he helped her stand, then she howled her joy to the full moon above. Fa joined her. They had each other, and all was right between them.