“Try not to use your arm too much. The magic is… delicate.” The Wolf handed him a mug of tea, humming under his breath.
“Okay.” The Owl stared at his arm. “It looks well enough.”
“The bones are still mending.”
“Oh.” The Owl poked his arm, stretched the skin a little. “Where did you learn to heal?”
The Wolf hesitated. “From a witch.”
“Is that where you got the mark on your back from?”
“… Yes. It’s… complicated.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means, little Owl,” he said, tickling the Owl’s ribs. “That I have an angry demon caged in my soul.”
The Owl stopped laughing. “Oh.”
“Don’t worry, I’m kidding. It’s… It’s a curse. There are charms in place to keep it contained.”
“Okay.” The Owl smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes.
“The spells that keep it are strong magics.” The Wolf swallowed. “Death magics.”
“Oh.” The Owl held the other man’s gaze. “I’m sorry,” he said eventually. He took the Wolf’s hand and squeezed it before going back to poking his arm.
The Wolf woke one night to find the bed next to him empty. For a moment his heart throttled his throat, but the soft sound of singing stayed his pulse. He crept from his bed like a shadow. The Owl had built a fire in the living room and was singing quietly into the flames.
“I have a thousand score words,
And an infinity in which to arrange them all,
But not one of them can adequately describe
The feelings you stir.”
The Owl’s voice was surprisingly high and sweet. The slight hitch in it broke the Wolf’s heart. He stood and listened for a little while longer, still as a painting, to songs of love and loss and bitterness and rage and regret, then made his way back to bed before the call to howl grew too great for him to suppress.
“I just want to love you, that’s all.”