Plucking a lump of hair from the torso of the fox, she grins and places it in the front pocket of her nightie. Yelping in pain, the fox snaps back its head and bares its teeth. For a second, it thinks about giving the girl a nip, but it’s not angry for long as the sight of a beaming Gretchen is enough to dampen its anger and warm its belly in ways nothing else ever has. Why she needed to obtain its hair, she can’t quite say. Perhaps it’s so she can sniff it before she goes to sleep at night, in the hope that it might remind her that it’s possible for magic to exist in the world after all, or maybe it’s because she wants something to remind her of the one she first shared herself with, for she already knows that after this night, she will never see him again. As an adult, such fleeting meetings will be commonplace, but this evening, unlike those that follow, holds meaning. It’s the meaning that she cherishes, and in the strands of orange hair in her pocket, she will never forget. The fox, sensing the tenderness in the young girl’s soul, comes to a halt amidst the rush of animals all around him. Overhead, the booming of thunder is absolute. It owns his soul the same as it does hers.