Snow was about to reassure her friend it was nothing when she was suddenly wrapped in a warm embrace and had a kiss stolen from her lips. This time, she couldn’t help but blush at the thought of the two spectators who she knew fairly well were more than just animals, yet her long lashes still fluttered closed and she gently returned the gesture, not able to pull herself away from Rose’s affection.
Once their lips had parted, the reactions of their guests only served to prove her point; while the wolf stared at them with a very human hunger to his eyes, the bear strayed his gaze away. A smile threatened to tip her lips at how such a powerful creature could look so endearingly coy and embarrassed.
Once the question left her lips, she saw the tension running through both of their bodies and her eyes locked with the great bear’s for a second longer than necessary. Even if their silence hadn’t at all changed her initial assessment, Snow’s shoulders still relaxed at their inability to speak, if only because it would certainly soothe Rose’s nerves. Pushing herself up, the former princess smoothed over the creases on the tail of her coat absentmindedly and took a cautious step towards the two animals.
"You should sleep by the fireplace." She suggested almost worriedly, reaching out to lightly rid the bear’s fur of the flurried snow still clinging to it. "It looks like it’ll get colder still." Walking up to the closed door, she slid the wooden plank that ensured it would stay shut into place and refrained from chanting the usual protection spell to keep from alarming the perceptive creatures.
"And you" Snow began, turning around again and looking over her friend. "should go back to bed. Before you catch a cold wearing so little out here." She pointed out with the hint of a fond tease to her voice. "I’ll make sure they’re comfortable before turning in too."
Rose couldn’t relax until she knew whether or not the bear and the wolf could talk. There was something special about them, she could feel it in the air, but thankfully they were mute and she didn’t have anything to worry about. Even Snow felt they were harmless with the way she also relaxed even though she sat so close to them. Feeling that it was fine for her to approach the wolf again Rose went to sit next to the wolf. She ran her fingers through his lovely, thick fur that was damp now from the melting snow. Rose did her best to dry it out as he ate so he wouldn’t catch a cold. Did animals even catch cold? She wasn’t sure but she didn’t want to find out.
Having them dry off in front of the fire was a good idea but Rose didn’t want to be parted from the wolf just yet. She didn’t even notice that Snow didn’t put the protection spell in place or she would have reminded her, instead she stood up while keeping her fingers buried in the wolf’s coat. “Maybe this one could sleep with me to keep me warm then. Would you like that boy? You could curl up on top of my feet and make sure I don’t get sick.” Rose already felt so much love for the animal and it would be nice to have something warm at the foot of her bed.
So she started walking towards her room in the back of the house and bid Snow a good night. “I’ll see you in the morning then, love. Sweet dreams.” With her a low whistle she called for the wolf to follow her to her bedroom before shutting the door behind her. Her bed was so inviting and her weary bones ached from the nights work so Rose collapsed on top of it. Rolling onto her back she patted a spot on the bed near her legs where she wanted the wolf to join her. “I like you a lot. Shall I give you a name? If you are going to be staying with us I should like to have something proper to call you besides wolf. “How about… Grover? Do you like that?” Rose had no experience in naming animals, it was something people always did when they had a pet. She wasn’t trying to make the wolf her pet but there really wasn’t a better word.
A small sigh of exasperation escaped Snow’s lips when her friend practically lunged at the wolf, and she hid her face behind a hand at Rose’s decision and manner of checking the animal’s gender before the embarrassment had a chance to flush her moon pale skin. “They can stay.” She spoke once she regained the hold on her own composure, moving past their impromptu guests and waiting until the large bear had made his way further into the cottage to close the door and preserve the escaping heat. “I only wanted to check and see if you were okay with it.”
Circling back to stand at a small distance in front of them while Rose brought some food, she watched the two animals closely, easily noting that the larger creature didn’t share of the same easy disposition towards herself and her friend as the smaller one. It was the wolf that had come to their door, after all, and seeing the reluctance with which the bear entered their home, he had simply followed without actually being consulted on what to do.
Either way, his suspicion was as warranted as her own. Regardless of how fond animals were of the two girls and how positively they reacted to their presence, Snow noticed the careful way with which they carried themselves around them and around each other. It didn’t speak of survivalist instinct, but of choice and free will. In the same token, she saw it in those wise eyes filled with struggle. The bear was well aware that they were far from being defenseless maidens leading a peaceful life in the woods; no human in their right mind would have invited two wild beasts into their home. They both had reasons to believe the circumstances they currently found themselves in to be more than mere coincidence and mistrust the others’ intentions.
As Rose came to stand beside her, Snow gently tapped her digits to her leg a couple of times without straying her gaze from them, silently asking her friend to stay there as she stepped forward once and sat down cross-legged on the wooden floor. Despite the fact that her thoughts always lingered over the worst possible case scenarios whenever she considered the outcomes of a surprising situation, she still looked over them with gentle eyes that fully believed they had no intention of causing any harm.
Slowly, the dark-haired girl placed a hand to her boot, delicate fingers plucking out a small hidden knife. She held it in the air for a moment, mostly for the bear’s sake, and then reached out to cut off a thin slice from the rabbit in front of him. Bringing it to her lips, she chewed calmly as she safely tucked the knife away again and swallowed in an attempt to show that they were safe to eat it themselves.
"…What are you?" She finally voiced the question that had been nagging at her from the moment she opened the door. Despite knowing that she might not get a proper answer from them, there was no doubt in her mind that they were more than simple animals. All that was left was to find out was what, exactly.
Rose smiled brightly at the wolf when Snow told her they could stay and clapped her hands excitedly. “Oh thank you Snow! Thank you for letting him stay and thank you for checking with me first, you are ever so considerate.” With a final hug to the wolf Rose skipped back to the side of her best friend to hug her as well and to plant a kiss squarely on her lips. Rose had always been a very affectionate person and she wasn’t shy about showing her friend just how much she loved her. Her feelings weren’t entirely platonic, a mixture of lust and love was the best way to describe them but more so the latter because that was just the feminine way.
She tried not to be offended as the bear literally turned his nose up at her offering and the wolf also didn’t start devouring it. They were perfectly good rabbits she had caught with her own two hands and now wanted to share with these two starved creatures. As if she sensed her friend growing tense Snow signaled for her to stay put, part of their secret signals they had created to communicate in the woods without being overheard, and Rose reluctantly did as she asked. Snow clearly had something she wanted to do and didn’t want Rose interfering, which was a good idea because she was often impulsive.
So she stood back near the fire and watched with sharp eyes as the raven haired girl stepped forward towards the wild beasts to show them that the food was safe to eat. Rose was bemused by why she was doing this for they were only animals and animals never worried about their food being poisoned. Except for they didn’t seem like they were just animals, they had this highly intelligent look in their eyes and had several humanlike expressions that almost seemed like they had their own secret way of communication as well. She waited with bated breath to see if either the bear or the wolf answered Snow’s question. If they could talk then that was not a good sign in her experience. 'Please, oh please let them be mute beasts,' she prayed silently to the fates.
Offering Rose a small, tired smile, Snow wished her a goodnight and waited until her friend had retired to her room. Every night after they’d returned from one of their jobs, the forgotten princess took the time to clean and sharp their weapons. A lifetime on the run had taught her it was not something to be left to do later. She also kept a log of brief yet meticulous descriptions of what happened: creatures they encountered, which were slain and which were pardoned, measures that were taken, places traveled, injuries sustained. Even having all the time in the world to do so in the morning, with the sun shining bright above and confining her to the safety of the cottage, she wrote down everything while the memories were still fresh, taking note of any peculiar plants, hidden pathways, strange feelings she might’ve had.
As she was detailing the sensation of being watched, Snow heard the scratching at the door and exchanged the light grip of her fingers around a pen for the solid feel of a sword. Moving quietly, she pulled the door open, quickly enough that it wouldn’t creak, blade pointing at whoever or whatever was on the other side. Long lashes fluttered over pale cheeks in slight confusion at seeing a wolf and a bear at her doorstep, and she slowly lowered the blade from a less offensive yet still defensive position when the two animals remained politely still, as if awaiting an invitation.
Maybe it was the tiredness, or the lingering suspicion and mistrust that a fugitive mindset had given her, but it took her a moment longer than normal to notice how different those two visitors were. There was an air of regality to them, not at all the same as the ancient dwelling deities she had met in the forests of the kingdom she still had a claim to, but something closer, she daresay human. Lowering the sword completely, she looked into the striking blue of the wolf’s eyes. “Wait here.” She requested kindly and turned to face the direction of her friend’s room. “Rose. Can you come to the door for a moment?”
Rose was so soundly asleep that she didn’t hear the scratching at the front door but she did stir at the knock on the door. Snow was asking her to come out and she knew that it must be something important for the girl to wake her up. So she didn’t bother covering up her thin dress before coming out of her room. The sight at her front door made her freeze in her tracks. A bear and a wolf stood there with snow dusting their fur, the last thing she would have expected to see at this time of night. The bitter cold air was seeping in but she hardly noticed for she was far too shocked to see the wild beasts. Her mind was instantly brought back to when she was a little girl but these creatures didn’t have that hard look in their eyes that the other one’s had.
So there was no fear in Rose’s heart, not after she locked eyes with the wolf in the front. It looked to be so kind and if it had wanted to attack, which was unlikely as all the animals from the woods loved her and Snow, it would have done so already. There was a fine dusting of snow covering it’s fur and she rushed forward to wrap her arms around the wolf. “Oh he is so sweet Snow! Can we let them stay with us? It’s so cold outside, they’ll likely freeze to death!” Her arms could feel the bones sticking through his fur, an indication that the poor thing hadn’t had a proper meal in ages. “He must be starved too! At least… I think it’s a he.” A quick look underneath the wolf confirmed this and Rose straightened back up with a nod. “Yes, he’s a he.” Rose began running her fingers through the thick fur and finally looked up at the tall bear who was also in the room. He was so large that he was almost intimidating but she could sense that he had a good heart, just like the wolf in her arms.
"Are you hungry?" She looked down at the wolf, hoping that perhaps he would be able to answer her. There were a few birds who could speak in a few short sentences and this wolf had a look of intelligence in his eyes, as if he knew and understood everything she was saying. Standing up slowly Rose was still waiting for a response but she didn’t want to waste time for something that might not come so she made her way over to the fireplace where a few rabbits hung to dry. She took two down and walked back over to the wolf. "Would you like some rabbit? He’s very good, I caught him myself. Almost got away before I could gut him but luckily I’m just as fast as a rabbit." With a smirk coming over her rosy lips she laid a rabbit down in front of both the bear and the wolf and stepped back to stand near Snow.
Rose was exhausted from their trek through to woods to get to the troll before he got to them. And then once they found him he put up a good fight that lasted for nearly half an hour. The moon was high in the night sky and her bed was singing its siren song to her through the trees. Her eyes were heavy but she reached out to take Snow’s hand, finding comfort in the action. They were in this together and they always would be. That’s what she tried to tell her friend when she gave her hand a squeeze. So consumed with her own thoughts that she didn’t feel the eery feeling she normally did when she was being watched. But living in the woods for so long she was used to having animal eyes on her, especially with how well both girls got on with them. Snow more so than her though, but that was to be expected after the insane encounters she’d had with them in her childhood.
Their cabin was waiting for them, warm from the crackling fire, and Rose gave Snow a goodnight hug and kiss before going into her room to change for bed. Her thin, white nightgown skimmed down her white thighs, both illuminated by the light of the moon streaming in through the window. She was so tired that by the time her head hit the pillow she was out and unable to hear the scratching at the door.