Paw sat on the steps outside, alone, under the setting sun. Staring off into the distance, her thoughts ran unchecked. They began with a single name.
In Paw's mind, images and short clips of memories flooded her mind. Volley as she had first met him, about five months back when they were first beginning their journey. Volley in wolf form, the first time she had seen him that way, just over a month ago. Volley in wolf form, when he stayed by her side in the Dragon Reserves. Volley when she declared that she could no longer be a part of the group. Volley when she had blown into the whistle he had given her.
Paw pulled out that whistle, which was around her neck. It hung on her shirt hem, which she had pulled off the day she got the whistle. She held it in her hand, looking at it. She set it on the step beside her, making a mental note to ask Maylyn for a ribbon or chain, something more proper to put the whistle on.
And then, more recent memories. Volley pulling the cart that held a dragon egg. Volley carrying the egg up the stairs. The look on his face when he dropped the egg, and when he came perhaps to face his punishment. The look on his face when she announced that the dragon seemed okay. Volley in wolf form in Fred's room.
Here fell one memory that didn't seem to fit with the rest. The sight of Fred's arm, with blood flowing from what was almost surely a wolf bite.
Volley in wolf form as she pet him, sitting at the bottom of the steps, trying to assure him that everything was going to be okay and that he hadn't totally screwed things up, even though she wasn't sure of that herself. Volley sitting by Fred, more relaxed, and now the two having a common bond with each other.
The last thought dwelled in Paw's mind longer than any of the others had. Volley and Fred…having a common bond…sharing the same curse…but together they could make it a blessing.
Paw knew that she should be happy for Volley, but there was something that stopped her from doing so. Now Volley has Fred…someone who he can be with all the time, even during the full moon…someone that really and truly understands him…even more than I.
Her mind came to a near standstill before it reached the last conclusion. She reached beside her and picked up the whistle, looking at it. Volley gave this to me because he was afraid something might happen to me…that we might not see each other again…
Paw could remember distinctly the fear which had caused her to break off from the group, however temporary. But, equally prominent was another feeling: a need for companionship, and more specifically, Volley.
We had become friends because we understood each other. We understood what it was like to be apart from society, even if our reasons were different. We came together because there was nobody else we could turn to, nobody else we could be with, nobody else…
But now, now there is someone else. There is somebody for Volley. There is Fred. Fred will understand just what it is like to dread the full moon. Fred will understand…oh, I do not even know myself, if it is painful or what goes through the mind of the wolf. But Fred…he will learn and he can share this with Volley and make things easier.
What have I done for Volley? Whatcan I do? I am but one more person that he has to worry about. One more person that he could possibly harm if things get out of hand. Me? I guess I have just been in his way.
Paw sat there, dwelling on such thoughts and watching the sun set. She searched the sky, and spotted the moon, nearly full. Twenty-four hours would bring the moon again, full this time. Twenty-four hours would bring proof of the things she dreaded. Twenty-four hours…and Paw would be alone.