"You're suffocating me!" she squealed.  Tiny hands pushed against the broad wolf's chest.  Hazzi obediently pulled back and sat looking down at her with an utterly human expression of adoration.

"Hazzi, guess what came today?"

The wolf tipped his head to one side.  What is it, his posture said.

"Come see!"  Layne got up and patted her leg to get him to come with her.  Hazzi trotted ahead and stood by her things to remind her they were there.  Her face fell for a moment before she shrugged it off.  It was only the work of a minute to gather up her spilled arrows and replace her quiver.  "I'll get the firewood and my bow later.  Don't let me forget!"  Hazzi didn't reply, just waited patiently for her to get moving again.

The two set off across the meadow and into the forest.  Instantly, Hazzi seemed to become energized.  His ears quivered and though he didn't bounce around his step became more of a swagger.  His nose jerked around to touch everything, whether it was stone or ground or green growing thing, that got in his path.  Nothing escaped his notice.  A squirrel chattered angrily at the ground where his nut used to be and where it was now not.  Birds sang happily to each other, their tiny movements making the leaves dance and whisper with something other than the wind.  Flies and other winged insects buzzed busily through the air, present but never overwhelmingly so.  One brave little mosquito dared to land on a patch of skin at Layne's elbow.  The next instant its life had been smacked away.  Hazzi noted that occurrence with interest.  When would these little bugs learn not to bother his master?

Layne cried, "We're almost there, Hazzi!" and increased her pace.  Hazzi kept up easily, loping along at her side like any normal dog would.  The sense of freedom, of pure bliss, was almost more than Layne could bear.  Running with her wolf was something she always did but the feelings never faded though nothing new ever happened.  "It's weird, Hazzi."  Layne stumbled over a root, just barely managing to right herself in time.  "We're always together, right?"  The wolf gave a short bark in confirmation.  "But it feels like every time I'm with you, it's always the first time.  Do you know what I mean?"  Because the ground had smoothed out, she risked a look at her companion.  His tail curled lazily over his back, and in that Layne saw her answer.  Hazzi felt the same way as she.

The forest abruptly cleared out and in they were a little patch of grass.  Flowers wreathed the outside, filling the air with their sweet scent.  Layne bent and picked a handful, tucking them in her belt pouch.  They were all the colors of the rainbow, except green, and they only lived for one day.  Layne had stayed to witness their deaths that started every night at the rising of the moon.  They slowly wilted and then crumpled into dust, leaving the ground barren and bland, but by dawn more would push themselves out of the earth and the circle was restored.  In the center of the circle was a flat table-like stone. 

Every day at approximately noon, various objects would appear on the stone.  Layne had no notion of how they got there.  She'd tried watching, but it was simply too hard for her to stay still for so long.  She always gave up, and now she'd accepted the mysterious appearances.  They were even something to look forward to.

"Look, Hazzi!  Look, look, look!"  Layne held up the gifts one at a time.  A basket of bread, potatoes, carrots, a jar of strawberry jam, several shirts, two new pairs of pants, a big red ball, and a picture book.  She held the book close to her chest, chattering away.  "Isn't it great, Hazzi?  We haven't gotten a new book in a really, really long time!  I wonder what it'll be about.  Do you remember the last one we read about the puppy that kept sneaking away?  We both liked that one.  I wonder if this one will be as good?  It's got a teddy on it!"  She held it out for the wolf to peer at, feigning interest.  A fuzzy brown bear in green overalls was leaning down to pick up something small and round.  Above him in yellow letters was a word.  Layne sat down and ran her finger over it.  "What's this word, Hazzi?  Cor-dur-oy.  What's corduroy?  Do you know?"  A second later, she was up on her feet.  "Come on, Hazzi, we should go home.  Can you help me?"

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