She - The Wolf
The air was icy and a wafting fragrance of pine needles scented the bleak forest. The cold penetrated even the depth of the wolf’s private lair. She crept out into the light of the rising moon and sniffed the currents. Her coat rippled as she caught a hint of a male nearby. She stretched, front legs burying deep in the soft snow. An icicle slid from a nearby branch and floated past her side into the white felt. She stepped cautiously forwards, using all of her acute senses to test the forest’s surroundings. A mouse clumsily ran across the snow behind the hedge but She wasn’t bothered. Her thoughts were on larger prey. A majestic barn owl swooped down to a thick branch above her, brushing a waterfall of snow onto her silver back. Again, She took only minimal notice but thought little of the tiny mouse’s chances now. She left the comforting vicinity of her den, trotting confidently towards the frozen lake. There was no need to hurry, She had no prevailing worries.
As her paws made parallel tracks in the velvet white, the moon steadied its rise and beamed a glow around the wintry forest. The light over the lake was accented into a halo of glimmering yellow by the ice settled on the surface. The reeds, trapped in wavering solitude at the edges of the mirrored expanse, whistled a greeting to her as She approached. She bent her white velvet-covered neck back and let out a longing, gentle howl. She shifted her ears in all directions slowly; listening for a reply from the male She knew was somewhere in the dense, pale forest. She moved soundlessly along the snow-carpeted bank of the lake and came to a halt next to the old otter holt that seemed like an igloo under the icy white layer. She padded down towards the water and let the water-borne breeze ruffle her silky coat. She extended a paw towards the sparkling solid lid of the lake and determinedly scraped a hole in a thin section to reveal the still liquid waiting beneath. She drank her fill of the cool water and splashed some up on to her snow-caked muzzle. Her senses found a hint of the male again and she stared across the dazzling surface towards the wooded area behind the reeds back the way She had travelled. Her keen eyesight alerted her to a slight movement by a silver birch and She crouched down low to the ground, feeling the soft flakes shift beneath her fur. Her eyes and ears stayed pointed at that spot until She finally saw the light shape of the prey she had been searching for. The male, too, looked alert and cautious but sauntered up to the edge of the lake with mock confidence. He knew She was there, She could tell from his stance at the other side of the frozen water.
She stood up boldly and eyed him warily from behind the screen of reeds. He continued scraping his own hole in the surface and did not seem to notice her scanning gaze. He looked young, only just left to find his own territory by his pack, having not defeated the alpha male there. She started cautiously moving back around the lake towards his bank but kept her senses open to the night sounds. The moon slipped behind one of the many gathering clouds and the wind gusted, wafting his scent closer to her receptive nose. She stopped some distance away and stood and waited. She watched his ivory coat ripple with a sheen as brilliant as the moon. His strong haunches balanced to keep him from slipping down further into the lake. The ruff at his neck stiffened as the wind turned slightly carrying her scent to him. He was aware of her close proximity now and he turned his head slowly, muscles tensing ready to spin him round if she attacked. She stood and watched as his deep eyes settled on her own rippling coat, which seemed dappled in the moonlight.
As they appraised each other, the snow started to fall heavier, landing quicker in their tracks and gently covering their ears. She shook casually to rid herself of the thickening felt jacket, but he stood still, still watching her warily. She relaxed and settled down on the ground with her soft under-fur making streaking patterns in the snow as she wriggled forward playfully towards him. He seemed to relax his muscles and turned to face her properly. She stopped, still flat to the ground, a foot closer to his strong-featured face. His muzzle probed the air in front of him questioningly as he placed one foot in front and then halted again. She tilted her head invitingly, still centred on his dark eyes. She stood gracefully and moved a little closer until their heads were almost level. The male made no move; he was content She was friendly and even interested so he waited. She turned so her body was angled the same way as his, just above the bank of the lake, but kept one eye to the side, watching his reaction.
The lake behind them was becoming white with the snowfall but the two wolves’ reflections were still cast upon the surface still visible. A vole scurried across the cold iced glass, distorting the reflection, but neither wolf did anything more than sniff its presence. The she-wolf bounded forward suddenly, spraying the male with fluttering flakes of snow as he stood intrigued. She continued playing in the snow, pushing mounds of snow towards him whenever She landed. The male moved forward slowly and then pounced into the snow at the side of her, decorating her with more white silk. She rolled over on to her back, lay sprawled for a few seconds as he watched and then leaped up and began retracing her route back to her den, running eagerly to the edge of the forest before twirling round to check he was following. He saw her turn and took his cue to join her. She led the way as they pelted back through the eerie white trees, over the freshly fallen soft water, leaving it to fill in the tracks left in their wake.