Once Ed had gone Don hugged me.
"Ignore him, angel."
"Okay," I murmured numbly, feeling cold inside.
When he let go, I stood up.
"What have you got next?" I asked.
"Everyone has Moon Child Law. But there's a good twenty minutes left of break."
Don's brow was furrowed. "Angel, are you all right?"
"Can we go for a walk in the grounds?"
"Sure." Don rose to his feet, though he was still frowning slightly. I walked down the steps, through the apron cupboard and into the lab, and exited the mansion.
"Angel?" Don called, a short distance behind me. I turned and faced him. There was so much concern in his eyes. When he drew near, I embraced him.
"I'm sorry," I murmured. He held me, not pressing me for an explanation. I was grateful for this and kissed his cheek, murmuring my thanks.
We let go of each other. Don smiled. I smiled back, a little ruefully.
"Where d'you want to go then?" Don asked.
I looked around the meadow.
"To the river behind the willows," I replied.
Don led me around the edge of the plot of wildflowers to the back where the stream was situated. The walk was long, therapeutic. The cool air helped to clear my mind. I also found that being around nature was calming.
"Is this a Moon Child thing?" I wondered aloud. "I just feel ... so light-hearted."
Don smiled. "It could be. I know Lor likes to go outside when he's upset. And Ed certainly seems happy when he's walking around the grounds during his free periods. Maybe it's just certain people, though. Something genetic rather than wolf-specific."
I nodded. "Yeah, there are lots of people who probably aren't Moon Children who love nature." I lapsed into silence. A thought struck me. Amused, I expressed it. "Then again, they wouldn't necessarily know that they were a Moon Child."
Don grinned. "It's true. But I personally don't adore nature so it's probably genes."
After a few minutes, we reached the river. The water was beautifully clear and I could see each fish as it passed us by.
"This is such a lovely place," I murmured. I sat on the river bank, letting the last ounces of negative energy slip away. I held the poetry books against my tummy, barely noticing I had them after having held them for so long.
Don sat beside me.
"You're so serene when you're thoughtful," he murmured.
I looked at him, surprised.
"Am I thoughtful?"
"You look it."
His soft gaze met mine and I kissed him briefly on the lips before looking out across the water. Beyond the river there was another field. A few metres away lay the entrance to a thick forest.
As I looked, a dark shape appeared out of its depths. I stiffened.
"Don," I whispered, reaching out with one hand to clasp his arm, yet not averting my gaze from the silhouetted form.
Don looked in the same direction that I was looking.
"Oh, it's okay," he said reassuringly. "That's just Lor."
"It- it's the wrong shape."
"In wolf form," Don said patiently.
Indeed as the shape walked forwards, I could see pointed ears, a long muzzle and liquidy eyes: the face of a wolf.
"He - he won't attack us, will he?" I asked nervously.
Don snorted. "Lor is docile as a wolf. You never see him so weak when he's in human form so you'd never guess that he could be. But when he has claws and fangs, he's pathetic!"
‘But I have seen him weak,' I thought. ‘Am I the exception?'
The wolf appeared to notice us as it walked. It abruptly headed further upstream to cross the river. I watched his movements - so smooth and deliberate.
"Why are you staring, angel?" Don asked, his tone one of confusion.
"Oh, I like animals," I said, tearing my eyes away from Lor and looking back at Don.
Don laughed loudly. I was about to ask what was funny when I realised a possible interpretation of my statement.
"Oh, no, I didn't mean it like that," I said, blushing embarrassedly.
Don stopped. He looked at me and his face became serious.
"Are you sure? Because I can definitely be an animal if you want me to be."
"You're such a guy!" I said, laughing and hitting him playfully.
Don sighed and looked away.
"And you're such an angel," he murmured.
"I guess angel was the most appropriate nickname you could give me," I said quietly. "Are you disappointed?"
"Of course not," Don replied. "It's just ..." He looked back at me. "I'm a guy."
"Well, you can wait for me, can't you?" I asked, worried he'd say no.
He sighed again. "Yes. But I don't think I have the same level of self-control as you. I have to confess it's difficult."
"Am I wrong for you?" I murmured sadly.
Don looked startled.
"Of course not, angel!" He hugged me tightly. "No, you're just right. I can learn how to be a better guy if I date an angel."
"You could be an angel too," I joked.
He laughed. "Probably not."
"Ah well. I'll have some other big effect on you."
Once again, we lapsed into silence. At one point I realised that break didn't last forever.
"When do we need to be back in class?" I asked Don who was lying on the ground with his eyes shut. At my question, his eyes flickered open and he grinned.
"Round about now. But I feel like kidnapping you."
At that, he sat up with alarming speed and pulled me on top of him, holding his hands to form a circle with his arms around my waist.
"Let go," I giggled, struggling against him. "We can't skip class!"
"Yes, we can," he said, seeming to relax in his position.
"I'm visiting," I said. "If I'm late, it's going to look awful."
"Nah, it won't."
I squirmed. "Please, Don."
He held me for a few minutes longer. When I didn't stop struggling he sighed heavily.
"Oh, fine." He let go.
I stood up and looked down at him.
"You're so outrageous," I said, grinning.
I offered him the hand in which I wasn't still holding the miraculously unbent poetry books.
"I know," he said cheerfully, taking it and pulling himself to his feet. "I'm surprised you went for me."
"You can thank your looks for that," I replied, sticking my tongue out at him.
Don chuckled. "I will thank them."
I laughed and began to head back towards the mansion.