In the morning, the girl with the thick skin cloak awoke unchanged. Her dreams had been quiet, lightly lit things; sunsets and painted clouds, waves on sand and letters in moonlight. She shivered and tried to remember falling asleep, but the night had been too gentle to pick out truth from dreaming.
When she sat up from her bed she found kind eyes among pine trees. A hand helped her to her feet and steadied her, dizzy from rising. It was warm on her cool skin and his widening smile set her to laughing.She looked around for the bear and found only the man. They walked on bare feet beneath their dark cloaks and she listened to him talk. He spoke of person-hood, shadows, and stories. She told him hers in parts, and the slopes slowly changed, leveling and dipping before them. They slept in pine beds and she shared in his warmth.
His smile felt familiar to her, his laughter seemed like a memory. But that faint memory was sewn over by their hikes and gentle nights. When she felt the smokey spots of the stranger against her skin he did not dash them out, but gently smothered them and let her breath. When amethyst feathers brushed her, he stroked through the green armor and never harmed her.
She could not have said how far they had come, or even count the sunrises they’d shared, when they came upon a cliff with a steep narrow path. She thought of the waves in her dreams and the shuttered moonlight upon them, and when she knelt by the cliff and offered him her hand, he took it firmly, and started their descent.