After an hour or so Ember had risen from Rusty's side and began to dig a grave for her beloved mate, Crimson noticed and waited for her to finish. He didn't want to disrupt the fleeting moments of goodbye between her and Rusty.
It was a very long time she sat wistfully staring as his grave. All anger left her leaving only sorrow. Soon nightfall came, though Ember never moved, not even a flick of her ear.
The pale moon rose full in the sky now and Crimson grew restless. Softly he padded to Ember's side and nudge her gently. "What are you doing here?" Ember whispered as she suppressed a sniffle.
"I have been waiting for you all day," he replied softly.
"Oh," Ember mumbled sounding genuinely surprised.
"Follow me," Crimson offered. "You can stay at my den." He nudged her to her feet and halfheartedly she followed. Crimson looked behind him and Ember followed slowly with her head hung low and her tail drooping; this worried him, very much.
As they approached his well-hidden den, Ember stopped and stared blankly at him. "What?" he questioned.
"I.. I.. I can't go in there," she stuttered.
"And why not?" he questioned, tilting his head slightly.
"Because what if they find me and ransack your den, or worse... kill you?" she trailed off.
Crimson stood there surprised. Here stood this fox, so fierce and strong only hours ago. Now she was weak and broken, what should he do?
"Nah, they wouldn't dare come in here, or they'd have to face some crimson embers!" he joked, though it didn't work. Ember was as sad as ever. "Look Ember, you'll be safe, I won't let them come. As long as you tell me who 'they' are," he finished.
"Coyotes, those savage coyotes," she breathed as a tremor shot down her spine. "If only they would have taken me instead of Rusty!" she sobbed.
Crimson padded forward and nuzzled her. "It'll be OK," he sighed. Suddenly, a threatening howl pierced the air and Ember froze. She was out of it. Crimson quickly took action and herded Ember into his den. Once inside, it was quiet and comforting, but there was still no response from Ember. Then she dropped! "Ember!" he yelped, rushing to her limp body. Her breathing was slow and shallow and there was no response to her name, only her eyes blank. "No come on, Ember, fight! The world's not over yet. Be strong, Ember, fight!"
Then it happened, her breathing stopped. "No!" Crimson whimpered, he nudged her once more, "I lost her!" he whispered. After a few moments, Crimson only watched and was about to close his eyes when the shallow breathing returned.
"Ember! Good girl, fight it!" he sighed as relief gushed through him. That night he had a very troubled sleep, he tossed and turned, and frequently he checked on Ember. "Looks like no sleep tonight," he muttered.
In the morning he awoke, yawned, and stretch as he prepared for the day. Groggy due to his lack of sleep, he shook himself then padded over to Ember. "Morning," he nuzzled her softly.
"Rusty?" she whispered hoarsely as she squinted her eyes open.
"No, I'm not..." he started before getting cut off.
"Rusty, I'm glad your still here. I had a terrible dream," she said as she stood up slowly, shaking herself.
"You don't understand, I'm not..." Once more he was cut off.
"I'm hungry, how about a morning hunt?" she invited him as she licked his cheek. "I love you." That was it. Crimson couldn't tell her he wasn't Rusty—he would just play the part today.
The sun was welcoming and he felt great having a companion, seeing that he was normally a loner. Rusty was a lucky fox, he thought to himself as he caught up with Ember. "So, uh, Ember, are you thirsty? We can take a break and go to the creek if you want," he offered.
"Sure," she answered as she dashed along happily. Crimson had never seen her so happy. Inside he wanted to do somersaults.
On their way back, Crimson couldn't help but feel guilty that Ember thought he was Rusty.
"Rusty, that was a good hunt today, wasn't it?" she smiled as she bumped into him.
"Look, Ember, I'm not Rusty. My name is Crimson, remember?" he pressed.
"No, you're Rusty silly!" she teased.
"No, I'm not, Rusty... Rusty is dead," he whispered.
"No! No, he's not, you are Rusty!" Ember yelled sounding offended.
"No, I'm not!" he argued.
Without realizing they were right next to Ember's den, Crimson saw it. Quickly, he cut Ember off then pushed her head.
"No... it can't," she trailed off. Her eyes fell on Rusty's grave.
"I'm sorry, Ember," Crimson sighed. "I couldn't go on with you thinking that I'm Rusty."
"No, you were right. I'm sorry... I guess I just didn't want to face that... he's gone. Forever," she muttered sorrowfully.
With that, the pair went home to Crimson's den and faced the fact that everything is going to be different in the darkening forest where evil was quickly spreading.
About the Creator
I'm a new author starting here to practice my writing. If you like what you read please share with friends on social media or send a tip if you wish:) Your support is always welcome.Thanks again!