It was freezing.
You wrapped yourself tighter in your coat as you continued walking up the path that led you to your isolated home. You cursed the bus that wouldn’t go up your driveway in the winter, but you immediately regretted it when you thought of the impossibly slippery slope that often had your father joking that you should get an escalator.
It was dark already, a tragic thing that happens in the winter. You hated getting home so late, and of course, by so late, you meant 4 o’clock, which was when it was currently getting dark. You had a fear of the woods, and of the bears, wolves and mountain lions that supposedly lurked within. You were always reminded that it was “supposedly”, but after a run-in with a bear in the woods when you were little, you had never lost the fear that came with it.
The branches shook all around you, making you shiver again with fear. You closed your eyes against the snowflakes that were now blowing directly into your face, and pressed onward. When you opened them again, you saw something that took your breath away (literally, since the wind sucked the air out of your lungs at that moment).
A beautiful silvery-gray dog stood in the middle of your driveway, its fur dusted with the first snowflakes. Shockingly violet eyes stared at you from a distance, and you froze, a mixture of fear and admiration for the creature halting all movement.
For a moment, you just stared at the canine, and it at you. The wind howled around you, creating a rather dramatic atmosphere. It started moving towards you, and you stepped back, sure it was going to charge you. Its movement had broken the admiration you held for it, and now you were terrified. And then you noticed it dragging one of its legs behind it. As it drew nearer, you saw the black that outlined its purple eyes, and your own (e/c) eyes widened in immense shock. It wasn’t a dog, it was a wolf. It tipped its nose to the moon, and you thought it was going to howl, but it looked back at you, head cocked to one side, and turned around, holding out its back leg.
The steel jaws of a hunter’s trap were closed around the base of its enormous paw. It looked back at you, a look that seemed to say “Take it off, or you’re dead meat.” You obliged quickly, feeling like the wolf actually had spoken to you. You grasped the trap, pulling it with all your strength. It took a few minutes, and quite a lot of in-between hand-warming, but you wrenched it open with a grunt of effort. Lucky for the wolf, you were very outdoorsy and had a lot of strength from your experiences.
It examined its paw, sitting down like it was going to lick the warm blood that was openly flowing from it off.
“Don’t do that!” You whispered, before you could stop yourself.
The wolf halted, looking at you again. If it could show more expression, you would say it looked curious.
You knelt down again, digging in your backpack. The wolf hopped a few feet away, suspicious, but when you pulled out a bandana, it limped back, offering its leg again, like it knew what you wanted.
You tied the handkerchief around the wound, winding it around twice and tying it tightly, causing the wolf to whimper slightly, but you hesitantly touched its head. “It’s alright,” You said soothingly, shivering a little. You had been out for a remarkably long time now, and your lips were beginning to turn blue. You hadn’t noticed it, but the wolf certainly had.
It reached its head up and licked your face, regaining some of your warmth in the process. You were surprised, but stood up. “Um…bye,” You said uncertainly. You weren’t quite sure how to respond to so intelligent a creature. It had looked like it understood everything you had said.
The wolf blinked at you once, and staggered away, back into the woods from whence it came.
The dramatic atmosphere faded, and you were back to your cold, irritated mood again. You stomped up the path back to your house, sliding a few times, but not falling, and stepped inside, taking off your boots and coat. You stood in the doorway for a moment, savoring the warmth.
“______! Close the door, you’re letting the cold in!” Your mom called.
“Alright, alright!” You replied, shutting it quickly. You walked over to the fire and sat down, hands still in gloves for now.
“______, what’s all that red on your gloves?” Your father asked suspiciously.
“Oh, I pulled a trap off a wolf,” You replied easily, hoping that he wouldn’t notice the slight tremor in your voice.
“You did what?!” Both your parents stood up, staring at you. You could feel the holes being bored into the back of your head.
“I…saved the wolves! Yup! I did my part for saving an endangered species!” You said hastily, covering up your fear with sarcasm.
“You know what happened when you were younger!” Your mom was pretty much shrieking. She wasn’t necessarily angry, just terrified for you. After all, you had been attacked by a bear when you were younger, and despite being very hardy, you seemed to attract a lot of attention from animals.
“Mom, it looked so…” You struggled to find the words to describe it. “So…intelligent! It walked up to me and held its leg out! It let me put a bandage on and everything!”
Your parents stared at you in disbelief.
“Well, you weren’t hallucinating with all that blood on your gloves,” Your dad murmured. “______, let me tell you a story.”
You turned around, interested. Your dad always had fascinating stories to tell, particularly about your hometown. “What about?”
“Move a bit away from the fire, honey, or your hair will catch,” Your mom sighed, leaning back in her chair.
You scooted forward and looked alertly at your dad. “Well?”
He bent towards you. “You know, they say a werewolf haunts these woods,” He said confidentially.
“A werewolf?” You echoed, disbelief tinting your voice.
He nodded. “They say long ago, there was a Russian farmer and his wife that just immigrated here, and they brought a curse with them that fell upon their newborn son. When the boy came of age on the night of a full moon, he horrified them by transforming into a wolf. It wasn’t like the normal shapeshifters you hear about either, with easy painless transformations. It tore the boy apart, both mentally and physically. Every full moon, his parents could only watch, helpless, as their son transformed into a wild beast. One night, his mother couldn’t bear to see him in pain anymore, so she took her shotgun-“
“She had a shotgun?”
“______, they were Russian.”
“Anyway, she took her shotgun, and shot her son through the heart, leaving a cold ice bullet lodged in. Of course, he fell to the ground, dead, but when she had turned her back, the wolf had disappeared. They say he’s been haunting the woods ever since.”
You shivered. The story struck a chord in you, and you couldn’t quite figure out why. “What did the wolf look like?” You asked in a hushed tone.
Your father thought for a moment before replying: “It was supposedly huge, with silver fur and purple eyes, resembling how he looked before he transformed.”
A chill went down your spine, and you stared at your father, jaw dropped. He laughed at your comical expression.
“What, wolf got your tongue?” He chuckled at his bad joke, while you closed your mouth.
“Ah, no…um…I’m gonna…go upstairs.” You said quietly, getting up and hurridly running upstairs, shutting the door behind you.
You slid down to the floor, your back against your wooden door, eyes still wide. Huge and silver with purple eyes You thought, aghast. That was exactly what to wolf looked like.
You crawled into bed, shivering with the mystery of it all. Could it possibly be that the wolf you saw was really a werewolf? No way. You closed your eyes and drifted off into sleep.
The next morning, you awoke to somebody shaking you awake. “Ten more minutes,” You mumbled, rolling over.
“Sunflower, I am wanting to talk to you,” An unfamiliar voice protested with a heavy Eastern European- no, Russian accent. Your eyes shot open and you sat up, eyes wide.
A tall young man with silver-beige hair and friendly purple eyes with a dark shadow was sitting on the edge of the bed. “Good morning, sunflower,” he greeted you again, smiling.
You couldn’t stop staring, partially because there was a strange man sitting on your bed, and partially because this strange man was unusually good looking. I mean, how often do you see silver hair? Wait, silver hair…? And purple eyes?
“W-Who are you?” You demanded, voice shaking.
He looked pityingly at you, a little bit of disappointment in his expression. “Don’t you remember me, sunflower?” He whispered. “We used to play together all the time as children…”
You frowned. “I…I don’t…” You stammered, trying to remember. Truth be told, everything before the bear attack when you were younger had been forgotten.
He looked sad. “You don’t remember the bear attack?” He asked softly.
You looked back on that horrifying memory. You had been in a field…but what had you been doing? The memory of what happened came rushing back to you.
It was a field…it was starting to get dark, and you were about to go running inside. You made a wrong turn, and wound up lost in the woods. You started crying, and the sound had attracted a black bear. Black bears…though they are small, they seemed enormous to you, and you, whimpering, had backed into a tree. Nobody had told you what to do if there was a bear. The bear approached you, rumbling threateningly, and just as you thought you were done for, a silver blur shot out of the bushes, latching itself onto the bear’s neck. It was a wolf, and for some reason, you felt relief, though you couldn’t put a finger on why. It wasn’t the wolf attacking the bear, it was the wolf’s presence that made you feel safe. The wolf chased the bear away, and turned to you, licking the blood off its muzzle. You reached out toward it, unafraid, for comfort, and it bent its muzzle towards you, and was about to touch you when a twig snapped, and your parents appeared. The wolf’s head shot up, and it glanced at you one more time, vivid purple eyes meeting your eyes one last time, before it disappeared into the depths of the forest.
You looked up at him again, and from some unknown source, your buried memories, you spoke a single word. “Ivan.”
He looked up, smiling. “You are remembering now, da?”
You nodded slowly. Ivan’s reappearance had brought back memories along with it, memories of a happy childhood playing in a field with a boy with silver hair. One more question was left.
“Are you the werewolf in the story?”
Ivan smiled and reached for you, pulling you into his arms. “Da, ______. You were too young for me to tell you before.” He bent his head down, his breath warm on your face. “I have watched from afar, sunflower. Even with my heart of ice, ya lyublyu tebya, podsolnechnika.”
You didn’t speak Russian, but you had a fair guess of what he was saying. “I love you too, silver wolf,” You whispered, sinking into him as his cold warmth enveloped you. He pressed icy cold lips to your warm ones, and he gradually warmed up, melting the ice in his heart.