Chapter One

Note: The first "chapter" was a prologue.

"Leader, look what I've found!"


Turning and seeing his mate coming into the den carrying a wolf pup in her mouth, Leader frowned up at her.  "Who is this?" he asked, standing up and walking up to her.

Dawn sighed.  "I don't know," she said rather quietly, putting the pup down in a grassy area of the den gently.  "I found him by a bush after finding his scent and hearing him moving in a bush.  He didn't move for the first few seconds, but then he whined.  Leader, I couldn't help but take him home.  He looked so tiny and helpless - I couldn't just let him die!  The area was deserted."

Leader opened his mouth to speak, but Dawn interrupted him.  "Leader, I'm aware that we are raising two pups at the moment, but what's it matter?  We will treat him like one of our own."
     
Leader frowned again, focusing on the pup.  He was laying down silently in the nest, apparently asleep.  With a sigh, Leader slowly said, "I suppose he could stay until we find his mother."
     
Now, it was Dawn's turn to frown.  "Leader, what if we never find his mother or his pack?" she said softly, looking into Leader's amber eyes.  "If we cannot find anyone related to him, we will have to raise him.  We have no choice.  We can't let him starve or be killed by another animal."
     
"Very well," Leader said curtly, turning backwards and walking to the corner of the den which Sparrow was currently asleep in.  "But I have one condition."
     
"What?" Dawn asked, a slight smile forming at the corners of her mouth.  
     
"He sleeps in your den," Leader replied in a firm voice, but Dawn could see he was fighting back a grin.  "Alright," Dawn said to her mate, and she lifted Sparrow up by the back of the neck, leaving the den and going into her own.

~ ~ ~ 

A Few Months Later  

"It's winter now," Dawn was explaining to her now older pups, including Sparrow.  Dawn and Leader's other pups were about as old as Sparrow was.  Their names were Sapphire and Snowflake - Sapphire was grey-and-white and almost exactly resembled her mother, and Snowflake was nearly pure white.  Sparrow looked pretty weird standing next to them because of his dark coat, but his "siblings" didn't seem to care about that.
     
"Now, I know that this is your first winter," she told her pups, "and I have a few reminders for you all.  One, there is going to be a sheet of ice covering what once was water.  Make sure you do not walk onto any of the ice, for it may not be thick enough and you could fall into the water if it is not thoroughly frozen.  Two, the winter is cold, as you all know, so please do not get lost - you could freeze to death and we may not be able to find you.  That especially is a warning for you, Snowflake," Dawn said gently to her, noting her daughter's pure white fur.  "And last, please stay close to me at all times.  The snow may be too deep for you to walk on, so I should probably test it first."
     
Leaving the den, Dawn watched as her pups curiously peered out of the den.  She gingerly walked on top of the snow.  It wasn't very deep; it seemed safe to walk on.
     
"You can come out now," she said cheerfully to her pups, and they eagerly left the cave.
     
"What's this, mother?" Snowflake asked quietly, her muzzle pointed towards an icicle hanging down from a tree.
     
"That's an icicle," Dawn explained.  "When water freezes while dripping from trees, it turns into ice and becomes and icicle."  
     
"Well, what about this?" Sapphire, who was the more outgoing of Dawn's actual pups, asked her mother.  "Shhh," Dawn said to her daughter.  "That's actually a rabbit, but their fur changes from brown to white in winter so they can camouflage and hide from predators."
     
Sparrow noticed a sheet of ice over top of what he remembered was a pond.  Remembering what his mother said about ice, he quickly turned the other way, but was suddenly drawn to the ice again as he noticed a strange scent in the air.
     
"Dawn, I smell something that I don't recognize," he said to his mother, who walked to his side.  Sniffing the air, Dawn looked down at her "son."  "That's the smell of a bear," she said quietly.  "I think that we should go back a little closer to the den."
    
Sparrow, however, was still about curious.  The scent of the bear wasn't very far away, he could tell.  Feeling adventurous, Sparrow began to walk across the ice.  Placing his paws on the ice very carefully, Sparrow's eyes widened as his efforts to walk lightly began to fail.  The ice was starting to crack, and Sparrow was in the middle of the pond.  
     
"Sparrow!''
     
Hearing his mother's voice, Sparrow began to feel guilty.  "W-what should I do?" he asked, looking down at the ice.  "Just slowly back up," Dawn said to him, her eyes locked on the cracking ice.  
     
Doing so, Sparrow managed to get back onto safe ground.  "That was very close," Dawn said sternly to him.  "Please, don't ever scare me like that again."  

The End

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