Part Eleven

"I'm so sorry, Kate." His voice was soft but still very much audible. "I was so stupid to leave."

Kate's heart fluttered as she heard emotions return to Humphrey's words, but she was quickly halted by the sadness and remorse that could be heard.

"I don't care if you love Garth. That doesn't change the fact that I love you. You've always held such a strong responsibility on your back, and not once have you ever let it down."

Kates mouth began to open in response, but no words came as Humphrey continued.

"The more I think about it, the more I come to love that about you. You are determined. You are caring. You are loving. The same traits that made me fall for you are the same traits I foolishly let draw me away from you."

A sharp breath could be felt while riding on Humphrey's back. It was obvious that he could no longer keep back any tears. Each breath that he took caused his back spasm slightly. Each breath that he took caused physical pain for Kate, but she did not seem to mind as she listened to each word he spoke.

"No matter what happens, I will always love you. But I hate myself because of it. I have treated you so poorly since you've arrived here. What kind of wolf wants to hurt the wolf he loves?"

Kate's eyes began to water as she could hear the pain in his words.

"I promise you I will do all I can to help you heal, but I don't want to hurt you."

Kate could no longer keep silent as her own emotions now became too much to bear: "You are the reason why I am here Humphrey. There is so much I need to tell you." She was ready to add another sentence to her plea, but Humphrey was quick to interrupt her.

"I know what you are going to say. All my life I had wished for you to say that, but not now. You are a wonderful wolf Kate. You do not deserve someone like me."

Silence once again took hold of the forest as neither wolf were able to continue now. The only noises that could be heard was the quiet echo of birds chirping and the soft padding of each step the wolf took.

The lake really was not that far, but the pace had been much slower when Humphrey had been slowed by the fact he had to focus his balance on each step. But they did eventually arrive at their destination. He carefully leaned forward and allowed Kate to hobble onto the ground. Although she normally hated to get wet, the soft sand-like mud felt wonderful on her paws. Despite the physically calming elements that surrounded her, she was unable to relax.

She was finally ready to confess her love to Humphrey. And even though she had not yet said anything to him, he had already rejected it. That did little to stop her however.

As soon as she managed to get her body settled in the soothing coolness of the soil, she said the three words: "I love you."

Although she couldn't see it, Humphrey frowned at her words. "You shouldn't love me. I'm not the type of wolf that deserves that kind of affection."

"I told you I needed to tell you what happened."

Humphrey turned to look at her; their eyes locked. "I don't need to know, but I will listen if it will make you happy."

"I didn't marry Garth."

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As always, read for your own enjoyment.