Five

Wolf didn't need any more encouragement. He ran faster than humanly possible, with the agility and speed of a wolf, leaving me hurrying to catch up.

"Come back you filthy beast!" Robert yelled.

I could hear him stumbling blindly behind us through the undergrowth, but I didn't dare turn around to see how close he was. I didn't know how long we could keep running, or where we would go, but I wouldn't let anyone hurt Wolf.

Caught up in my thoughts, I tripped and fell to the ground. I could taste dirt and the metallic taste of blood, and I realized I must have bitten my lip open.

I tried to stand up, but I cried out in pain as my ankle twisted under me. I shut my eyes, took a deep breath and tried again, but I didn't even get to my feet this time.

Desperately, I glanced behind me to see where Robert was. When I turned back around, there was a hand in front of my face.

I looked up into the face of Wolf and smiled. I took his hand and he helped me stand, but I couldn't help cringing.

"What's wrong?" Wolf asked, his eyebrows furrowing together.

"I think I twisted my ankle." I told him bitterly. "Go on without me, it's you he wants."

Wolf smiled and gripped my arm. Slowly, so as not to hurt me, he lifted me into his arms and took off through the trees.

((-))

Eventually I couldn't hear Robert behind us anymore, and we stopped for the night in an alcove made by an outcrop of hanging rocks. It was too dark to see anything, but Wolf's golden eyes illuminated the small space somewhat. We didn't dare make a fire, though we were both shivering. We were too afraid we would be caught.

"Wolf, I am so, so sorry. I've put you in danger." I whispered, my voice cracking. "This is all my fault."

"No it's not, Red. I'm glad I met you, even if it's led to this." He said softly. I felt his hand searching for mine in the darkness.

Tears blurred my vision, and I was suddenly angry with myself. I didn't deserve his sympathy. I wiped my eyes on my cloak and moved onto more practical matters.

"Do you think he knows who you are?"

Wolf shook his head. "I don't know. It doesn't seem very likely, does it? But then, you never know." He added darkly. I shivered in the cold.

Suddenly Wolf's attention snapped back to me. "Your ankle's still hurt."

I shrugged. "It's nothing," I said, though the pain was hard to bear.

"It's not nothing." He said softly. I smiled; he was repeating our conversation from the day we first met. "I can try to heal you."

"Heal me?" I asked in surprise.

He nodded shyly. "It's part of my..." He paused hesitantly. "Gift."

"I'm going to put my hand on your ankle, and it will probably hurt, but I need you to stay still, okay?" He said, his hands hovering over my ankle. I nodded and clenched my teeth.

I almost yelped when he pressed down on my ankle, murmuring words I could hear. A golden glow started to come from his fingertips, and an iciness so cold it burned spread over me.

Instantly my ankle stopped hurting. He let go, closed his eyes, and slammed the palm of his hand into the side of the alcove, his breathing ragged and labored.

"What's wrong?" I asked when he had calmed down again.

"I took the pain out of you and put it into the stone. It had to flow through me to get there." He pushed the dark hair out of his face, and my heart flipped.

"Oh." He had to experience my own pain before it was gone. I didn't say anything, but that struck me as cruel.

Sensing my discomfort, he added quickly, "I'm fine now. It's gone."

I nodded, unconvinced, and we lapsed into silence.

Behind us, the sun sunk low in the sky until it was almost gone, illuminating our world with a dark crimson glow.

We didn't know it then, but it was an omen of what was to come. And not everyone would escape with their lives.

((-))

A/N: My scene breaks seemed to have disappeared from my earlier chapters and stories, so from now on I'll be using the symbol above. (If it doesn't show up, I'll try something else. Sorry for any inconvenience.)

Do you guys remember the reason Robert Hunter came back in chapter four? No? Maybe that's because I didn't tell you (I'm sneaky like that).

Remember that the reason for his return only moments after the end of the conversation wasn't given, because that's going to be really important later on in the story. Also remember how Wolf reacted to the pain from healing Red. That's also important.

Fun Fact time! Any Terry Pratchett fans out there? If so, I hope you caught my reference to the Tiffany Aching series! (See last statement above) What? What are you talking about? It's not stealing an idea! It's an homage to his work! You're so judgmental! Oh. Wait. Yeah, it is stealing an idea. ;) I'm just kidding. It's actually just how I wrote it and then I realized it was really similar to his idea of moving around the pain. (Oops...) Maybe it was Terry Pratchett writing through me. (Unlikely, but you never know – it could happen!) (I'm not crazy!) (Yes, I'm sure! God, you guys are so mean! *Indignant*)