He was crying.
The only sounds to break the silence of the icy forest were his gentle sobs. The boy was alone. He was lost. There was no hope. So now, alone, lost, and cold, the boy wept.
He buried his head in his hands. His black globes matched his jacket. He was dressed for the cold, but four days pushed his fragile limits. The boy's pockets were halfway full with nuts and berries he had found while wandering. The nuts were hard and left him with a sore jaw, while the berries were dry and withered. They weren't the best food he had ever eaten, but they kept him alive this long.
But now? Now it was over. He had finally lost all hope of rescue. He was alone and that was it. He yelled at himself for being so stupid. He just wanted to go exploring. But now he was lost. He wasn't going to get out of these woods.
Then, something happened. Nothing ever happened, but there was a change in the snowy realm he was stuck in.
It was only a small change, but any shift in the environment, any change of a way out was magnified tenfold in his current state. A speck. That was all it was just a black dot on the white horizon, but it was something. The boy stared as the speck grew to a dull smudge, from a smudge to a figure, and finally from a figure to a man.
His hair was as black as the boy's, black as night. His skin was but a half shade off from the snow. His black jacket stood out clearly in this world of white.
He walked next to the boy. The boy looked up from the ground at his possible savior, but he was given a glare of hate and condemnation by the man. The sharp details of his face accentuated the dark eyes that pierced the boy's already breaking heart.
The man kept walking. He never looked back, as he continued through the woods. The boy's face was marked with tears and shock.
His chance to escape the frozen hell was walking slowly away from him, not even bothering to give a second glance. The boy had no other choice. He followed the man. The man would eventually leave the forest. This would be the child's only chance to make it back home.
The man never rested. He always was walking. He never once looked at the boy, much less spoke to him. The boy accepted the silence and kept his distance from the dark haired man.
The young boy's cheeks burned with the cold wind. He stopped for a moment and looked around and noticed, in horror that the trees were getting thicker. His supposed savior was leading him further into the forest.
He gasped at the realization and was suddenly frantic. He had to find another way out. There had to be hope somewhere. The young child's head darted back and forth, looking for any sign of a way out. He looked all around then noticed something in the snow.
It had gone unseen earlier, because it was as pure white as the snow. Colorless fur ruffled slightly in movement. A black nose with two bright blue eyes faced him.
The boy started walking slowly towards the creature when it stood up and began walking towards him. It was a wolf its fur was thick and heavy, yet it was smooth and soft. Its well-muscled legs flowed seamlessly through the snow as its tail glided behind it.
The boy stepped back out of instinct, his hands pulled up slightly to try to block an attack. The wolf continued its slow glide to the scared boy.
The boy's eyes closed. The wolf was too close. It was going to attack. Then the boy felt something against his hand. He opened his eyes to see the wolf's head against his hand, as if it were a tame dog.
The boy knelt down in curiosity. It was a large animal. Its head was now just a few inches above the boy's. The boy looked up at the wolf, and it returned his gaze in silence.
The young boy slowly reached up at the wolf and petted it just above its eyes, and then he reached up and hugged the large animal around the neck. His arms could barely get around the warm wolf.
It lied down by the boy, and he was able to get closer to the warmth the creature gave him. The wolf wrapped its tail around the boy to keep him warm.
The boy looked up to see the man still walking away. He buried his head in the wolf's side. He didn't care. He might not make it out, but the boy was fine with this. He was warm. He had a friend. Everything would be fine.
The boy smiled and drifted to sleep. The sky got darker, but the wolf stayed by the boy even as night enveloped them.
The boy was smiling. Something was lightly brushing his face. He opened his eyes to see the wolf, vaguely visible in the darkness, was nuzzling the boy's cheek. The boy sat up and looked at the pure white creature.
The wolf stood up and looked at the boy. A slight wind moved its coat gently. The boy stood up with the wolf. He was only a head taller than it.
The wolf took a few steps in the opposite direction, looked back at the boy, and waited. The boy walked to where the wolf was and wrapped his arms around its strong neck. The two began walking by the light of the moon and stars. The boy was shivering in the biting cold, but the wolf kept him warm by simply being near him as they walked. The boy looked at the sky to see stars slowly beginning to disappear.
The sky was turning from black to a gradually lightening blue and pink. Day was coming, and warmth would come with it. The wolf stopped in the remains of bushes.
The boy looked around and picked as many berries as he could find. These quickly filled his stomach and his pockets.
The boy yawned as the sun's first rays illuminated the top branches of the trees overhead. He lied down next to the wolf and huddled close to it for warmth.
He fell asleep as the sun started to rise and begin its journey across the sky. The wolf stayed by him again, never leaving his side while he slept.
The boy woke at the late sunset. The sky was orange in the place where the sun was last seen on the horizon
He looked first to the sky, and his eyes then turned to the wolf. He jumped slightly at the sight. The wolf had become a pitch black. The boy doubted it was the same wolf until it looked up at him with those same eyes.
The boy reached out and tentatively stroked the wolf's side. His fur felt just as it had before, but it was now the color of night.
The boy was so intrigued by the wolf's fur that he only noticed his jacket when he reached to touch the wolf. His coal-black jacket was now as pure as the snow. There was no change in the jacket except in the color.
The boy stared just a few moments longer before beginning to stand. He smiled at his companion that still gave him that same look. The look was one that you would expect a leader to have. It was very direct, yet it wasn't harsh. It was knowing, yet it wasn't condescending.
The boy held the gaze a moment longer before reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a few berries and ate them slowly. He leaned down and offered the wolf some of them to eat, but it showed no interest in the berries and maintained its gaze on the boy.
The wolf stood up and turned the same direction it had walked yesterday. The boy clung to its neck and they began to walk again. The boy looked back once, remembering a memory of a memory, and then kept walking. He never looked back again.
The young girl looked back, trying to remember that fading memory, but no recollection ever came. She turned back in the direction she was walking towards earlier, clinging to the gray fur of her warm companion
Her chocolate-brown hair whipped around her face in a flurry of wind. Her tiny arms, clothed in a black jacket, wrapped around the large animal lovingly.
The two walked on. They were two figures of gray in a world of eternal white.
The boy was walking with the wolf still. They had made a lot of progress, or so the boy guessed. The trees were starting to spread more and more.
The two continued on, and the boy released the wolf. He decided to explore the area around him while still staying within sight of his coal-black savior.
He walked to the left and right, collecting berries for later. He turned back to return closer to the wolf, who kept walking, but he didn't see the small log buried beneath soil and snow.
The boy's foot caught the top, and he fell forward and felt a sharp pain in his knee as his face hit the cold, snowy ground. The screams of the child rang through the forest. The wolf's head jerked back at the noise, and it ran the distance to the boy. It stopped a few feet from the screaming child.
The boy's eyes were blurred with tears of anguish. He tried searching for the wolf but his tears distorted his shaky vision. His black coat should have stood out in the snow, but he saw nothing but the darkened snow. He squeezed his eyes shut and screamed. The dark woods resounded.
The girl walked along with her friend through the maze of trees. Her heart ached. She buried her head in the large, gray shoulder of the wolf. Her tears were full of sorrow.
A feeling of pain and sadness settled over her. She remembered a friend from long ago or maybe not so long ago. His hair was as black as the night sky. He was her best friend, but that didn't matter now.
They were both lost. She didn't know where she was, where he was, or even where home was. Now, though, this pain, this pit in her soul told her the truth. He was dead.
White fur blew in the gentle breeze. The wolf watched the boy soberly as he bled and cried in anguish. The boy wiped his eyes bitterly and looked up at the shining white wolf. It began to walk towards the boy.
The boy glared at the animal. It was the wolf's fault this happened. It should have kept the boy close. How could it have let this happen to him?
The wolf was almost within arm's length of the boy when he suddenly screamed at the beast. His screams said it all without words. He trusted the wolf to protect him. He trusted the wolf to not let him get hurt, but it let him get hurt. It let him bleed. It let him get to this point where he now couldn't even get up.
He grabbed a jagged rock nearby and flung it blindly at the wolf. The boy heard the rock collide solidly, a yelp, a scurrying of padded paws, and silence.
The boy buried his head in the snow and cried again. He was done. This was it. His end had come. He would die alone tonight.
The boy's arms covered his face as he sobbed into the snow. His hand rested on the cold, piercing snow. A cold began to ease through his body. The boy stopped crying. There was no use in it. He simply lay there in the snow, matching its silence.
He felt something moving up under his hand. It was warm and soft, yet it felt sturdy beneath the layer of fluff. He looked up and saw the wolf under his hand. The gentle creature's front right leg was bleeding. The small cut wasn't enough to cause lasting harm, but the boy still felt intense guilt for the harm he brought to his innocent friend.
The wolf turned its head slightly, still staying beneath the boy's hand, and licked at the cut. When it was satisfied, it put its head back down meekly under the boy's hand.
The small child choked back sobs, not at his pain, but at the wolf's loyalty and compassion. For the first time in a long time, he smiled. With that smile, he wept.
The boy woke up to the midday sun. He had fallen asleep as the horizon became pink in a sunrise. The wolf was still beside him. It was watching the boy intently. He wondered if it had been awake all this time.
He looked down at the hole in his pants over his knee. The blood had dried and the surrounding skin was purple. He couldn't feel the spot on his knee except for a dull pain from the cut. The boy didn't really care and tried to go back to sleep.
Then he heard it. It was the soft noise of crunching snow. That must have been what woke him. He sat up suddenly and looked around for the source. Then his eyes caught it. The boy saw that same figure of a man walking towards him. His black hair was swept back in the wind. His bold eyes were locked forward, beyond the boy, to his unseen destination. His long coat was waving slightly in the gently gusts that swept through the icy wasteland. His stride was smooth and confident. His air about him was purposeful and strong. He was born to lead.
The boy blinked a few times as the man closed the yards between them. His eyes were locked on the man as he passed by the shivering, awestruck boy. He never slowed. He never sped up.
The boy looked at his knee again. He would need to get help for it somehow, so he turned over to stand up. He stood up and began running before he had balanced himself. He stumbled forward a few steps before a piercing pain stabbed his knee.
His leg suddenly buckled beneath him. The boy fell forward into the snow. He cringed in pain and cold, but he was more concerned with the numbness in his leg. From just above his knee to his ankle, he felt nothing.
The boy didn't try to get up this time. He was tired. He was weary. It was time to quit. He lay there in silence. His eyes were closed to the snow in which his face was buried. He slowly drifted in and out of consciousness.
The boy finally gave in. He didn't care what happened now. If he was able to rest, the boy was willing to let anything happen.
Padded steps came up beside the boy. The wolf nudged its nose under the boy's face, getting it out of the freezing snow. His face was deathly pale. The wolf kept nudging it up out of the snow. The boy's breaths were shallow, and when he exhaled, the young child's breath didn't hold enough heat to become visible.
The forest was silent except for the boy's raspy breaths. The wolf nudged the boy's head, still. The boy's eyes fluttered momentarily. He took a deep breath and let out a steamy puff of air. He moved his hands to push up off the ground. His knees took a portion of the weight as he began to stand.
His worn shoes gripped the snow enough to let him stand. He pushed down to stand. He finally rose to his full height. A young man with long black hair stood next to a pure white wolf. His jacket was the same shade as charcoal. He began to walk forward, the same direction that the wolf had led him before.
He stopped for a moment to look down at the wolf. Its gaze returned his with the same look he knew so well. The young man reached down and petted the wolf on the head.
The teenager's gaze shifted back to the spot on the horizon the wolf had led him towards for days now. He took up a steady and focused stride forward. He walked with the wolf towards freedom.
A trail of smoke followed the two. Its black wisps swirled around in their wake. Their origin was the young man's jacket. Its white brilliance was enough to rival the snow he walked through.
The girl stayed near the grey animal constantly. They never separated, but they were always moving forward. The two had been walking for several nights now. The walking kept them warm in the bitter cold.
The wolf's radiating warmth helped the girl's chills too. It remained by her as she slept, and she kept with its constant walk forward when she was awake.
The pair walked through the scattered trees with snow that came to the top of the girl's boots. A soft crunch came from every step. The girl and wolf came to a clearing in the trees only snow was seen for yards in every direction.
The sudden openness of the sky prompted a sigh from the girl. She finally felt like she could breathe. They walked into the clearing as the young girl took in the refreshing effects of there being nothing around her.
The wolf kept straight, aiming to cut straight through the clearing. The child kept up, but she stayed slightly behind to enjoy this break from starless nights. Her contented smile warmed her body more than any fire ever could.
As they reached the middle of the clearing, the snow got deeper. The usual crunch of frozen water beneath feet became deeper in tone. Near the center, the girl's foot met the ground and the snow sank a few more inches than usual.
The snow around it sank too with a loud crack, as if the backbone of the clearing itself had been broken. Then the snow was gone. It had disappeared along with the girl's leg up to her knee. It was suddenly wet and extremely cold.
She tried pulling her leg up, but the weight of her other leg broke through the unseen ice. The young girl fell in the freezing water. Her hair glided under as she began to sink.
The cold's shock sent thought after thought racing through her head. A rainbow of emotions exploded within her, fear, excitement, horror, surprise, and fear again. Then it all went black and silent. The frail girl was still.
The wolf's gray fur clung to its body, wet from diving into the waters. It shivered as the hairs froze together. The freezing animal dragged her up by her jacket to the edge of the frozen pond.
She was drenched, and her lips were losing color. She was shivering slightly, and her breaths were shaky and quick. The few seconds underwater had put her into shock.
A noise from the woods turned the wolf's attention to the trees. A young man was walking towards the pair. His hair was as black as the night sky above them. His jacket was whiter than the snow beneath them.
At his side was a wolf the same pure white as the jacket. It walked slightly ahead of the young man. He saw the gray wolf. Then he looked next to it and saw a beautiful young woman. Her chocolate brown hair was covered in ice.
He kneeled next to her and picked her up by her back so that she was sitting up. He brushed back her brittle hair and looked into the young woman's face. He paused for a moment.
Realization crept over his face and tears came to his eyes. She was the friend he once had. Her face still had the same shape, and he was sure behind her still eyelids were the same eyes he grew up knowing well.
He pulled her into his embrace, crying softly on her shoulder. Her hair slowly became clear of ice. It blew softly in the breeze. Her arms reached around the young man. The color in her face returned. The two wept against each other.
The young man turned to look at the wolf, his grin as wide as the moon. He saw a shimmering silver wolf facing him. The same eyes pierced his heart with a watchful, unfathomable love.
His arm wrapped around the girl as he helped her to her feet. The two looked to the wolf, and it turned to the trees. The three began walking together, always in the same direction. Somehow, the days and nights in the snow seemed warmer with three.
After they had begun walking, the group was generally elated. Even the wolf seemed to smile. Gradually, though, the young woman's feet began dragging. The ordeal at the pond was taking its toll. The young man glanced at her as her eyes began drooping.
He went to her and gently picked her up. He kept her to his body to keep her warm as he kept pace with the wolf. Their direction and speed remained unchanged. The girl breathed deeply as she faded to sleep in the boy's arms.
Days had passed since the two young adults met at the pond. The teenage girl slowly gained the strength to walk further and further. She still couldn't keep up for more than an hour, though.
Her friend was carrying her and walking with the wind and the wolf. It was nearing dawn, the time to rest. His eyes rested on the horizon for a place to spend the night. He was scanning the horizon for a possible when his eyes caught a familiar shape.
A small, dark dot appeared on the horizon directly in front of them. The boy's breath caught, but he kept following the wolf. The speck grew to a large hazy smudge. The teenager squinted to make out what he was seeing.
The haze slowly sharpened into angles of a house. Relief swept over the young man. The wolf kept walking towards the house, and the boy sped up to walk alongside the animal.
His gaze was focused on the deck facing them. A door waited at the top of a set of stairs. They came closer and closer with every step. The forest seemed to fall away around him, the girl, and the house. Once he reached the steps, he paused a moment and looked up to the rest of the house.
His feet hit every step with a new weight. When he reached the top, the snow on the deck was thinner than on the ground, but harder to walk through. He stopped one last time at the door. His eyes were fixed on the handle as wind blew softly through his hair.
He made sure the girl was steady in his arms and opened the door. He closed the door behind him and began walking through the house. In the large den, he sat on a warm couch by a fire. The cold eased out of his body along with tears from his eyes.
The girl stirred next to him and woke. She looked around the room, then at him. He smiled through tears and parted his lips to say the most beautiful words either had ever heard.
They broke down in tears and clung to each other through tears of joy. Through the window, the wolf watched always. Its eyes were strong, calm, and loving. They never swayed from the house.
Two children ran through the house in the woods. Their laughter filled the house with warmth. Each laugh filled their parents' hearts with a loving blaze. Their playing and running could last for hours on end.
The boy chased his sister down the steps, but stopped by the window on the landing. He saw something in the distance, beyond the always-watching wolf
It slid into focus slowly. It was a man dressed in all black, from his jacket to his boots. He walked past the wolf towards the house. He shifted his course and began walking past the house.
The wolf's gaze shifted to one of heartache, but remained on the child. The young one watched the man in fascination and reached for his jacket as he walked to the door.