The night was warm but the twisting silver of the trees was cold to the touch. Regardless, the Witch ran her weathered fingers over the smooth metal, marveling at the power it must have taken to create such an enchantment. She peered closely at the leaves, delicate but sharp as a blade.
Between the trees was only darkness and fog. Above a canopy of leaves blocked out the moon but it's light was reflected all they way to the bottom most branches.
All she could hear was the metallic crunch of her pointed boots as she kicked through the leaves under foot. And, every so often, there came the long lonely cry of something caged.
The sound was getting closer which she found encouraging. Even as it filled her veins with ice and tore at her heart, she was encouraged.
The spell had been cast centuries ago and even then the Witch had been an old woman. The walls of the house where she might once have raised a family had long turned to ash. She hadn't been able to help then, though she'd tried.
Many had tried. Witches with spells. Hunters with arrows. Priests with prayers.
All had failed. Many had fallen beneath its claws trying to do the right thing.
The Witch had woken weeks after her own encounter with the creature with clawmarks raking down he whole right side of her body. Villagers had gathered at her bedside to tell her of the miracle, of the great Enchantress who'd sealed the beast away.
Thus she'd never met the woman but she'd often wondered about her. Who was she? How did she learn such skills? Was she a witch or something other? And where had she gone when it was all done?
Everyone had reasoned there was no need to come this way again. Only a fool would travel to the heart of these woods.
The Witch was no fool. She had something those hunters and priests never had. A relic from a time long forgotten.
She reached the edge of the woods, where the silver trees fell away and at last there was nothing but darkness. Not even the moon shone here. Just the shadows of the tall dewy grass.
A long and terrible keening filled the air. It could only be a few yards away.
With a steeling breath the Witch removed her coat from her shoulders and looked down at the label stitched its collar.
The name, "John Doe" was written there.
Looking back into the dark she called back, "John!? John!?"
Her voice echoed and was swallowed by the long pause that followed. Then a pair of yellowed eyes appeared from the void.
They stared at her hungrily but she raised her chin stubbornly in turn.
Lifting the coat she announced, "It's time to come home now, John!"
Did she imagine it? Or had his gaze softened.
The Wolf crept forward, slowly edging into the reflected light from the trees. The silver light glowed off his black fur. He was tall enough that his head was leveled with hers.
She held her breath as she waited patiently for him to come before her.
At last he stopped and a deep understanding passed between them as they watched eachother.
"That's enough now, John." The Witch told him.
Slowly the Wolf laid down and the Witch struggled to contain her shock and relief.
She threw the coat over him and at once the Wolf was gone. All that remained was the much smaller, lumpy shape beneath the coat.
Slowly the Witch knelt and lifted the collar of the coat. The dazed eyes of a man looked back at her.
She smiled at him tearfully and she cupped his face in her hands like she might have done when he was a child. He blinked at her, his eyes growing clearer.
"I've missed you, my child." She whispered to him.
At once he crawled into her arms and the pair of them wept.