prologue

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The little girl's green eyes scanned the clearing for movement, but she found only the gentle swaying of the tall grass, not the rustling of bushes where a lanky twelve-year old might be hiding. "C'mon Il, come catch me if you can!" His young voice rang out in the clearing, bringing her sharp gaze to a cluster of trees near where they had emerged only hours earlier to play.

She squinted her eyes, scouring the bushes near the trunks and then moving up to the lower branches. The wind picked up and strands of black hair blew across her face, she reached up a little hand to tuck them behind her ear, planning on begging Luna Claire to redo her plait once she got home. Home, a place she hadn't had since her parents were killed, since she watched her parents get killed.

"Come on Illyria! Catch me!" She ripped her gaze from the branches to stare up at the canopy of leaves, the last few rays of sunlight peaking through and creating spectrums on the dew drops still stuck to the foliage, foliage which rustled causing Illyria to skip forward, her clumsy five year old feet dragging her little pink shoes through a layer of dirt.

She reached up a hand and rested it on the trunk of the tree, pretending to lean against it as though she was tired. For the Oscar, however, she squeezed some crocodile tears from her eyes and let out small whimpers. The leaves above her rustled once more and the lanky boy came to kneel infront of her, his blue eyes searching her little body for somewhere she might've gotten hurt, before resting on her face. His sharp features softened as he lifted a hand and wiped a tear from her cheek, "what's wrong Il? I'm sorry for making you cry, I didn't mean to make you cry," his usually loud voice was now soft and hushed as the little girl quietened her cheeky sobs. She leaned into his soft touch and he smiled. Illyria lifted her fat little hand and wiped the rest of her tears away, looking back into Tristyn's big blue ones and smiling, sticking her tongue out and lunging forward, wrapping her little arms around his neck.

She giggled, a beautiful, innocent, pure giggle, and Tristyn started to chuckle himself, wrapping his arms around her little body. "Caught you," she whispered, pulling away from the hug and starting a walk to the path back home. He just laughed, "cheeky little one, aren't you?" and caught up, holding out his hand for hers. And so they walked, hand in hand, back to the pack house, back to home.

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