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Game Of Hearts
Author's note: i was bored and this is what helped me understand that i love to write.
Life is confusing. That’s all I have to say. But before I tell you poor little Anna’s sob story I should probably introduce myself. My name is Anna Key, I’m 18 years old, I have blond hair that is almost white, and my eyes are a deep blue. I live in a town called Hope. (Weird huh?) It’s on the north side of the Jorain Mountains we are surrounded by miles of forest so we are in the middle of nowhere, literally.
I really don’t know where to start. Hmm? How about the day I found out that I’m adopted?
I woke up to a bright light. I look around and notice I’m not in my warm bed, but lying on a pile of leaves in the middle of a forest. I stand up slowly. I feel a slight breeze on my legs and look down to see that I’m in different clothes to. At this I was a little miffed. Who had seen me nude? Yikes! Hopefully not a man! I felt my cheeks reddening so I shoved that thought aside. I started to inspect myself further. In the middle of my inspection I hear someone chuckle behind me. I whip around faster than thought humanly possible to see a boy about my age standing there with an amused look on his face. The first thing I noticed was his eyes, they were a gold color, and I searched my mind for what they reminded me of. Cat eyes. That’s what they looked like. I was sure. I take a step back and he takes a step towards me. I take another step back and yet again he follows. We continued this strange little dance until I felt the rough bark of a tree press up against my back, yet he doesn’t stop. When he’s about three feet away I say “Stop!”
“Why?” he asks still slowly advancing. “Don’t you know who I am?”
“No, all I know is that I’m in a strange place, with strange clothes on, with a strange boy, who at the moment is getting very close.” I said, eyeing him.
He chuckles but stops about a foot away. “Better?” he asks with an amused tone.
“No, I still don’t know what’s going on or who you are or even who changed me into these clothes. Wait it wasn’t you was it?!” I asked him warily.
He grins and I forget what I asked him, I forget what I’m angry about, I forget my name, I forget everything.
“Not something we should talk about right now, but, if you really want to know who I am then I’ll tell you. I’m…..”
And I woke up. As I curse myself, I try to fall back asleep to no avail. Just then my mom knocks on the door and walks in with tears in her eyes and I forget almost entirely about my dream.
“Mom, what’s wrong?” I asked warily, afraid something had happened to dad or something. She sits on my bed as I sit up.
“I have something to tell you, and I have wanted to tell you this for so long but I just wasn’t able to. When I was pregnant with, well I told you it was you but it wasn’t. When I was pregnant I couldn’t tell but my baby died and we had absolutely no idea, so when I went into labor, something felt wrong. When, she, came out, well let’s just say,” She takes a deep breath of air and lets it out loudly “We adopted you to replace our dead baby” She says quickly, and before I have time to even open my mouth she pleads
“Please don’t hate me, I tried to tell you earlier but I just couldn’t”
I couldn’t think or say anything too much in shock, I just sat there staring at the back of her head. She stands up and murmurs
“I’ll let you adjust or… something”
I couldn’t even nod, I just sat there my mind starting to race, but I could only make out one thought in the jumble of my mind:
“So, I’m the wrong Key”
Then I passed out
I woke up to a gentle chuckle.
“I’m guessing you were tired?” he asked with an amused tone. I opened my eyes to look up into his beautiful golden ones. I notice that even though I’m looking up at him, I’m not laying on the ground. I look down to see that I’m draped across his knee while his hand was cupping the back of my neck supporting it, While his other arm was stretched across my chest holding my other arm, holding me to his chest. I whipped off his arm faster than thought possible and stood up and looked down at him with a look of disgust on my face. He looks up at me with worried eyes and asks,
As I feel the grimace slowly fade off my face I feel something wet on my cheek and I scrub away the tear but more follow until I couldn’t hold them back anymore. He stood and took me into his arms, gently but firmly, all the while crooning,
“Shh it’s ok your fine, its ok” over and over again.
I don’t know how long we stood like that but I didn’t care, too sad to care. Then I looked up at him and studied his features, his square jaw, his clear golden eyes that were staring into mine, unwaveringly, his shaggy brown hair, the smooth span of his forehead, and his slightly tanned neck and cheeks. Suddenly all I wanted was to get away from that place, from him, from everything. I pushed him away, not caring if he fell or not, and ran. Just ran. The trees were a blur. I fell heavily and forced myself up and kept running. I fell again but didn’t want to get back up so I rolled onto my back and stared at the starry night sky and felt the hot tears trickle into my hair, turning cold and tickling. As I looked up at the stars I thought but one thing,
“Nothing left for.”
And I fell asleep.
I woke up to him coughing; I opened my eyes to see him sitting next to me, looking into the forest. Seeing that he doesn’t know that I’m awake I study him again. And as I do I realize that he’s not wearing a shirt so I quickly look back up at his face and notice it looks like he had been sitting up all night.
“Protective huh?” I asked groggily.
He jumped and then looked down at me. He smiled sheepishly. “I guess” we both laughed but mine was more hysterical. He reaches out to me then hesitates
“May I?” he asks.
I shrugged “sure”
He reaches out and slowly brushes my hair out of my eyes, then stands and helps me up. As I let go of his hand I take a step back,
“Hey look, I’m sorry for, well you know, pushing you and all that crying.”
He smiled and said “It’s forgotten” then chuckles again, mainly to himself.
“Why do you laugh so much?” I blurted.
“I try to find humor in everything; it helps time go by faster than you think.”
I thought about that for a second then smiled up at him “I guess your right” then we both burst out laughing, we couldn’t seem to stop. When we finally did stop my sides ached and my eyes were streaming. We were both sitting on the ground. I wiped my eyes and looked at him and gave a shocked laugh. He stopped and said “What?”
I pointed to his head where it looked like he had a miniature tree stuck there. He felt his head and groaned as he started to pick it out, muttering under his breath the entire time, but it was hard because he couldn’t see. He gave a frustrated sigh and turned to me
“Please?” He said, with a pleading look, pointing to his head.
I laughed and crawled over there and sat in front of him and started to pick it out. As I pulled out the last leaf I fell onto his lap and as I try to get up he pulls me back down so I’m sitting on his lap. So I lean back against his shoulder and sigh. He says,
“We were never properly introduced, I’m Faelyn”
“Anna” I say.
He chuckles “Short for anything?”
“Yes” I laughed.
He raised an eyebrow, something I never could but always wanted to do “Well do I get to know?” he asked, with an amused tone.
“I guess” I sighed with mock reluctance “its short for Annabella”
He looked down thoughtfully and murmured “Annabella” then looked at me and said “I like it”
“Ok if you say so” I laughed at him and then snuggled up closer to him, it was getting cold. He looked at the sky and grinned,
“A storms coming” he said with excitement. I looked up but shouldn’t have, a big, fat raindrop landed right on my eye. I could feel him shaking with silent laughter. I turned around and smacked him playfully on the arm. He growled at me, smiling. I stood up and started running, knowing he could keep up. I heard him laugh and then start to run. I could hear him pull up beside me and as I looked over he gave me a wicked grin. He reached out to grab my arm, but I dodged away, threw my head back and laughed, then put on an extra burst of speed and left him faltering behind. I turned around just in time to see him turn off into the trees and disappear. I stopped and looked around. “Faelyn? Where did you go?” I called
Then all of a sudden something knocked me forward from behind. We rolled down the hill, him holding me tight. When we finally hit the bottom I tried to stand but couldn’t because I was to dizzy and so I fell back on top of Faelyn. He was breathing hard. I turned around to see a sight that made me laugh. His hair now looked shaggier than ever, his face was all dirty and he was spitting dirt, leaves and god-knows-what-else out of his mouth. I started laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. He looked at me and rolled his eyes, “You think I look bad? Ha, you should see yourself!” he said, still spitting dirt, mock annoyance coloring every word. I stopped laughing at this and said “Oh no you’re NOT going to ruin this for me, oh god I wish I had my camera!”
He threw me a look that I didn’t quite catch, it looked something like annoyance.
“Really? That bad?” he asked.
I stopped laughing long enough to confirm it “That bad”
He stands and runs his hands through his hair and sighs. “It’s amazing; everything that you consider fun always ends up in disaster”
I looked up at him, “Disaster?”
He doesn’t say anything just points to his head.
“Oh” then I started laughing again and he gave a lopsided grin. As I look around I notice that the storm is still going on strong and with every minute it continues, the more I want to run, to frolic, and dance, to act like a little kid again.
“Why do I feel like this? I mean, I’ve always loved a good storm but this is different.”
“Our kind loves storms” he said like I should already know.
“Our kind? Please explain ‘our kind’”
“A subject for a later date right now we need to enjoy the rest of the storm” I narrowed my eyes and said
“Fine but you WILL tell me”
“Later” he promised
Then it was my turn to catch up, I could hear his laugh echo up ahead. I could see him up ahead and as I caught up to him, I gave a wicked grin and put on a burst of speed and left him faltering behind. As he caught up I turned off to my right as disappeared, like he did before. I hid up in a fir tree about three meters away and watched him look for me, laughing silently the entire time. Finally, he started to look worried so I jumped down, silently absorbing the shock on the balls of my feet, and walked up behind him and yelled,
He gave a startled yelp and spun around but in the process, tripped and fell on his rump with a very shocked look on his face and then it was my turn to fall, but this time it was with laughter. He looked at me, disbelief as plain as day on his face.
“How…? How did you…?” he stammered.
“What? How did I what?” I asked him surprised.
“How did you sneak up behind me like that?!”
“Well it was easy really, I hid in that fir over there” I pointed it out and he looked d at it like it was glowing “and I jumped out of it and walked up behind you and-“
“Yes, yes but how come I didn’t hear you?” he cut me off.
“Well I don’t know, maybe your hearing isn’t as good as you think?”
“Nonsense, that’s preposterous!”
“Ok Mr. Smarty-pants, what do you think?” I asked, getting frustrated now.
“Honestly, I don’t know.” He said sounding scared.
And just like that my anger evaporated. I walked up to him and put one hand on his shoulder, and using my other hand I made him look me in the eyes,
“Do not be afraid Faelyn, we will figure this out, together”
He looked me in the eyes and did not speak for a minute.
“Together” he finally agreed.
We started to walk into the forest and I asked him
“Is this a dream? Because if it is, then I prefer this over reality.”
He laughed, which was my goal in the first place
“No this is not a dream but it’s not reality either” then all of a sudden “Pffffffffffttttt!!!!!!” I looked at him, startled then jumped away with a squeal, a weird cat-like thing was sitting on Faelyn’s head, with its tail in his mouth while he was trying to spit fur out of his mouth at the same time,
“Get off me stupid thing!!” he yelled (quite to loud if you ask me) and it jumped off his head and sat down on its haunches with its tail wrapped around its legs. It looked up at me and said,
“So you found another lady friend Fae? Classic Fae, ha-ha always the lady’s man huh?” In a very high pitched voice. I squealed and backed up quickly, and tripped and fell and the creature stats to laugh at me. Then I thought for some random reason, I’ll have to talk to him about ‘lady’s man’.
“Well, it’s a klutz this time huh?” the thing said, and laughed again.
“Oh, shut up Jeron, that’s not nice” he said to it angrily. Then looked at me, apologetic “Sorry about him, he’s a grouch”
“Rouch, get it right Fae”
“Whatever, but they still aren’t known for their nice attitude or wonderful manners”
“Uh-huh ok” I said, still staring at the thing, still terrified.
“Oh, stop looking at me like that; please it’s kind of creepy.”
I looked at Faelyn with big eyes. “I’m the one creepy one?” He started to laugh!
“W-W-What is going on here? And what is that!?” I squeaked.
He squatted down next to me and took my hands in his and looked me in the eyes.
“It’s ok; he couldn’t hurt a fly, even if he wanted to”
“That’s true” Jeron piped up.
Faelyn turned around and told him “Shut up.”
It was still not enough to convince me and Faelyn saw this in my eyes so he told me
“I’m serious, he is a dying species because they literally are pretty much the most helpless creature in the forest, they have nothing to defend themselves with but their annoyingness, and most of the time that’s what gets them killed.”
“True” squeaked Jeron.
“How many times do I have to tell you? BE QUIET! You’re scaring her!”
Faelyn hissed to Jeron.
“Fine, fine alright sorry!”
Faelyn turned back to me and smiled,
“We’d better get back to camp or else there will be no more food left, and Mareana makes the best food ever”
At this I smiled, more running.
“So, where’s camp this time grouch?” he asked Jeron. Jeron sighed “I’ve told you a hundred times, I’m not a grouch, I’m a Rouch!”
“Ok whatever you say roach, so, where is camp”
“Gods, I hate you! It northwest of here about 14 miles.” Jeron said in an exasperated tone.
“Well that’s easy, let’s go grab some grub I’m betting you’re hungry?”
“Ravenous” I told him.
As we ran I asked Faelyn,
“I feel like a moron asking this but, what is that thing exactly?
As I pointed to Jeron, running up ahead.
He laughed, “It’s a Rouch, and he’s my servant, sort of” he told me
“How ‘sort of’?” I asked, curious.
“Well, a Rouch when it’s born it can do anything, it can walk it can run it can take care of its self. But it only needs one thing, blood and when you give it yours, it’s devoted to you for life.” He explained
I stopped running so abruptly that he had to run back to me. I looked at him, horrified,
“So you’re telling me that it’s a vampire cat?” I squeaked.
“No nothing like that, it only needs blood when its born and only a drop and its fine, but you can keep feeding it and it gets stronger and stronger until it doesn’t rely on your blood or any other food substance” he calmly explained.
“So he won’t suck me dry if I somehow insult him?” I asked warily, wanting to get this straight.
He laughed, “No, no, no, nothing like that, it has to be willingly, and you would need witnesses to prove it, if you gave it to him or her.”
“Oh” I said, feeling like a moron.
He smiled and started to run again. As I ran I thought about what other creatures were here, in this strange place. As if reading my mind he said,
“Don’t worry, there’s not that many animals that will bother you when you are with something as annoying as that” he pointed to Jeron.
I smiled and nodded. Then I gasped because all of a sudden there was people running alongside us, I looked at Faelyn and he looked so calm I thought I was seeing things. Then one brushed up against me and I knew they were real.
“Who are they?” I whispered to Faelyn.
“Oh just some scouts guarding the camp.” He said, completely unfazed and still running.
One of the scouts looked at me and smiled. I couldn’t help but smile back. Then he looked forward and started to slow, like the rest of them. As I slowed I noticed that it got lighter up ahead, as if a clearing was coming up ahead. Then we burst through the last of the brush.
We walked into a huge clearing and as I looked around all I could see were people, running everywhere. Some women, some men and lot of children. As one bumped into me I recoiled, it felt wrong, like I wasn’t supposed to be near him. I looked up into a pair of sky blue eyes and saw an apology in them. I just nodded and caught up to Faelyn. He held out his hand and I took it without a single thought, knowing it wouldn’t be like that man back there. I don’t know why, but I just knew. I looked to my right and saw a big group of women walking away from us with piles of clothing in their arms. “Probably to wash them”, I thought. Faelyn looked at me and smiled mischievously, “Ready?” he asked.
“For what? I asked, bracing myself here, it couldn’t anything from wrestling with 12’ alligators, to cuddling with kittens. But he smiled wickedly and said “You’ll see” then took off like lightning with me in tow. I laughed and ran with him as a guide. We ran through or around big tents, or groups of people. We started to head to the biggest of the tents. We walked inside and a whole bunch of mouthwatering aromas hit me full in the face. I looked down at my stomach when it growled, then at Faelyn. He laughed and started to head towards the back of the tent where the smells only got stronger. Faelyn stopped for a second, looked around, and for some reason over people’s heads, almost at the ceiling and smiled. He weaved through all the pots and pans and food and different things towards the very back, to a giant fire, where an even bigger woman stood cooking steaks. She looked down at us and said “Well, you’re actually early”
He smiled and looked up at her and smiled “Well hello to you to Mareana. Oh, this is Anna, Anna, Mareana.” He introduced us. She held out her hand and I took it. Mine disappeared, entirely engulfed by hers. I knew I would not want to make this woman angry, or even play tug-of-war against her.
“Well, where did you find this little pretty thing?” she asked once she had let go of my hand.
“She’s only little to you Mar.” he said teasingly. I looked up at the woman, afraid she’d be insulted but instead, she laughed.
“So, what’s for lunch today?” Faelyn asked.
“Food” she replied.
Faelyn sighed. “Ok then, what’s the food that we are going to be eating for lunch today called?”
“Steak, rice, corn, and to drink, well I don’t supply that you’ll have to get it yourself”
“What kind of steak?” he asked excitedly.
“Jara” she said it like she was bored of having to explain something over and over again.
I looked up at Faelyn and asked “What’s a Jara?”
“A Jara” she said before Faelyn could “my dear girl, is a deer-like animal”
“Oh, well sorry I didn’t know-“
Faelyn cut me off,
“Well since lunch isn’t ready yet, let’s go introduce her to Aptura” he said.
“Yes, yes, he will want to meet this one, she is feisty”
Faelyn growled something under his breath I didn’t quite catch, it sounded something like ‘…keep his hands off her…’ but I couldn’t be sure and I didn’t want to ask either. Then we started walking towards the front of the tent again. Once we were outside again he stopped for a second again then started to head to the second biggest tent in the camp. This one was the only red one. He stopped in front of it and waited silently.
Then from inside came a call of, “Come!” and he walked inside. I could smell the smoke of the fire as we walked towards it. Then a giant figure rose up from behind it (though, I noticed, not nearly as big as Mareana) and say,
“Well, well you’ve decided to come home in less than a week” Faelyn just nodded. The figure started to walk around the fire and as it did I saw a face very similar to Faelyn’s, smiling down at me.
“Well now, who is this pretty little thing?” he asked.
“Well how about we get three things straight first, one, she’s mine, two you will not touch her and three, you will not give anyone else permission to touch her.” He told the man “Her name is Anna, Anna this is Aptura, or my father. He said the last two words icily.
“Oh, you always have been protective of your toys, even with me,” Aptura said “and I’m your father” the man roared with laughter.
I don’t know what he found amusing and I know that whatever it was, if Faelyn got it at all, he certainly didn’t find it amusing, whatever it was. While we waited for Aptura to stop laughing, Faelyn looked at me with reassuring eyes and took my hand. I squeezed his hand as if to say “I’m ok” he nodded and looked back at his father, who had stopped laughing and was watching our silent exchange with sparkling eyes. His father nodded and said
“Don’t worry I won’t touch her, but I can’t speak for everyone.” Faelyn just nodded as if he’d already thought of this, and squeezed my hand again. His father reached out to shake hands with me and I reached out with my free hand. As he grasped my hand he said “Unless she wishes to come to me?” with a raised brow. I wrenched my hand out of his grasp, (not without difficulty might I add) and took a step back and looked up at him with a fierce expression and said icily “No thanks buddy, your little too old for me.” He laughed again and said, “You’ve found a feisty one Faelyn!”
“As I’ve heard” he looked up at his father “Is that all? I wish to finish showing Anna around.” Aptura laughed and nodded. As we walked out of the tent Faelyn muttered something under his breath that sounded like “should get a life” and from inside came the call of “I heard that!”
Faelyn smiled and yelled back over his shoulder, “Knew you would” and started running. I laughed as he started to head back to the food tent. “I thought you wanted to show me around?” I asked him, still laughing. “Well that’s later, first you need to eat.” He told me, I’m betting as an excuse to go eat. I laughed again and he started to run faster. When we got to the back again instead of rice, Mareana gave us grapes. I gasped with excitement, I love grapes. I popped one in my mouth and bit down, sweet juice filled my mouth, spreading across my tongue and flooding down my throat.
“Mmmmm! I haven’t had grapes in such a long time! ” he looked at me, mouth full and nodded. I laughed and popped another one in my mouth. As I chewed I thought how my earlier statement of preferring this over reality, was becoming more and more believable. I heard Faelyn swallow loudly and then cough as food went down the wrong pipe. I turned around to see him shoveling in another giant mouthful of food and chewing, acting like he hadn’t eaten in days.
“Pig” I taunted and then laughed when he pushed up his nose and snorted then snorted. I laughed and he finished chewing. I cut a small piece of the steak off and tried it, chewing slowly. I swallowed and ate the rest so fast it was a wonder I didn’t choke (much). Faelyn looked at me and said
“I’m the pig around here huh?” we both laughed.
We finished our meal and we went on a tour of the camp, him pointing things out and telling me what they are.
“Oh, and that’s my tent, we don’t have anything set up for you yet so you’ll be sleeping in there with me” he explained. I looked at him, surprised. “I mean unless, you know, you don’t want to we could fix something up for you.” He said quickly. “No, no that’s fine.” I reassured him, uneasily, things turning awkward instantly. He nodded and we walked on. He showed me Mareana’s tent, his mothers tent, the weapons tent (which was quite dusty.) the food stores, and a few animal tents, set up like stables. When we came to those I stopped. There was a weird variety of animals. Some looked like horses but were gray, had armor like skin, rhino horns on its nose and the end of its tail had a hard ball on it used for hitting enemies is what Faelyn told me. Faelyn called it a stage (It’s pronounced like stag) “The Arnold Swartz nagger of horses” I said.
“Who?” he asked me, looking puzzled. “Oh he’s an actor in a movie, he does the most extreme things, and he’s got a deep voice and an accent.”
“Oh, ok” he said, still clearly puzzled.
“He’s an actor.” I summarized.
He laughed and finished showing me around. I’ll have to admit, it was pretty cool here. The only thing they were missing was a bathroom. I was curious about this so I asked Faelyn “Where’s the bathroom?”
“You go in the woods” he said as if it was the most obvious thing ever. This dampened my spirits. Even in girl scouts I had never gotten used to the leaf thing. We went for a walk in the woods and he showed me more animals that I hadn’t seen yet. I even saw a Jara. It looked like a deer except it was a light green, with golden eyes, and red hooves. When Faelyn told me that they are very friendly creatures, I plucked up a handful of the waist high grass and held it out to the animal while Faelyn was looking for something on the ground a few feet away, his back turned towards me. The Jara walked up to me, totally unafraid and snatched the grass out of my outstretched hand Just as Faelyn started laughing so hard he had to sit down. I turned to look at him, startled.
“Sucks…to…be…you.” He gasped in between laughs.
“What? Why? I asked him.
I waited silently for him to stop laughing. The Jara hadn’t even flinched during all this and suddenly I had the urge to pet the animal standing next to me. As I reached out I heard Faelyn yell “NO!” and I pulled my arm back and turned to look at him. He stood and calmly walked over to the Jara and looked it squarely in the eyes. He stood there for a silent second, staring deep into the Jara’s eyes. The all of a sudden his foot flashed out, faster than the strike of a snake and caught the animal squarely under the jaw. The animal screeched with pain and ran off into the woods, shaking its head vigorously.
He turned back to me with a grin, like he had done something good. I stood there, horrified. Then my horror turned into rage.
“Why did you kick it? It wants doing anything wrong.” I hissed at him as his grin faded, letting some acid seep into my voice.
“Don’t get mad at me! I just helped you! “He said, equally mad now.
“Uh-huh. So explain to me how kicking a poor deer–thing is supposed to help me! Ha don’t give me that load of bull!” I said.
“A poor deer-thing? If you had petted that ‘poor thing’ then you would have gone mad! That’s why we kill Jara’s! They take over your mind. If you feed them then you make a bond with them and they follow you around, but if you touch them, it seals the bond and you will go mad! They take over your mind and they change it around. So yes kicking it helped you.” He said.
“Oh” I said feeling guilty about yelling at him. “Oh, I didn’t know that.”
“Well maybe you should have asked first.” he said
“Ok, next time I will, and I’m sorry for yelling at you,” I said, still feeling pretty guilty.
“It’s fine but next time, think with your own mind please.” He said then, as if nothing had happened, he grabbed my hand and started running into the woods. I laughed and ran with him, the wind throwing my hair back and flinging it out behind me, the bushes feeling like soft caresses against my skin, before I knew what was happening he let go of my hand and started to run off into the woods without me,
“Oh, no you don’t!” I yelled after him and ran to catch up with him. He started to pull ahead and before he could turn I tackled him from behind and we went flying over a hill, getting air that a bike rider would be jealous of. We rolled for what seemed like forever, I made the mistake of letting go of him and I rolled off on my own, away from him. When I got up I could still hear him grunting as he kept on rolling down the hill. When he finally stopped I ran down to him yelling “Faelyn? Are you ok?” Then I got to the spot he should be, and he wasn’t there! I instantly stopped and looked around, knowing he could be anywhere. Then all of a suddenly I heard a stick snap behind me. I whirled around, but it wasn’t Faelyn standing there. I don’t know who was or why they were staring at me like that but all I knew is that he shouldn’t be here and neither should I.
“Who are you?” I asked the boy.
“Where is that person you were with?” he countered.
“I would answer that but-”
I heard someone cough behind me and I looked back and saw Faelyn standing there with a huge lopsided grin on his face, and for a fleeting second I didn’t see him, I saw a child with a goofy grin on his face. I ran into his outstretched arms and he pulled me close and looked at the boy.
“Brother, father has been wondering where you are.” He said.
I looked up at him “That’s your brother?” I said, confused already.
He laughed, “Yes that is my little brother, Jared this is Anna, Anna, this is Jared.” I held out my hand that wasn’t holding Faelyn’s and shook hands with him. He looked up at his brother and said “You know what else father has been wondering about? How I became so much like you.” He said with the tone of someone who knew they were annoying, and embraced it. Faelyn laughed and said “Yes” and started to walk away from his little brother.
“Hey! Where are you two going?” he yelled after us, trying to catch up.
“Away from my annoying little brother.” Faelyn yelled back over his shoulder and started to run. “Hey! Not fair!” I heard Jared yell from behind us. I laughed and went the opposite way Faelyn wanted to go, I heard him sigh, knowing that if he went his way, he’d have to let go of my hand. We ran faster and faster then all of a sudden I slipped and Faelyn fell on top of me. As we lay in the mud, breathing hard, it starts to rain. I groaned and pushed Faelyn off of me and stood, trying unsuccessfully to wipe mud off of my back.
“Now my only pair of clothes are dirty and I don’t have anything to wear while they get washed.” I complained to Faelyn as he tried to help me get the sticks and leaves and mud clumps out of my hair. He laughed and said,
“Don’t worry we’ll find something for you to wear.” I sighed and then started shivering. He sat down and sat me on his lap and I gratefully snuggled deeper into his shoulder, burrowing for the warmth he always seemed to be radiating. When I was warm we just sat there and breathed, looking at the forest, watching the ever-singing birds. We watched the sun set and finally I started to yawn. He laughed and stood up. We ran back to the camp and there was only one tent awake and it was Aptura’s tent. We quietly tiptoed past it to our own tent. When I walked in I noticed that there was only one bed.
“Where am I supposed to sleep?” I asked him afraid of the answer. “We will have to sleep in the same bed for tonight” I looked at him. “Unless you don’t want to, I could get a sleeping bag out and sleep on the floor.” He added quickly.
“No, that’s fine; it is your tent after all.” I said, trying to hide my disappointment. I must not have been doing it to well, but he didn’t say anything. He went and got me some clothes and waited outside so I could change. When I was done he went inside and changed while I waited outside. “Ok, I’m done, you can come in now.” He called out to me quietly. I walked in and said “Do you want the inside or the outside?”
“I prefer the outside, you know, just in case an emergency.” I nodded and got in the bed. It was surprisingly soft and not itchy like I thought it would be. The Hart skin blanket was fluffy and soft. It smelled like Faelyn, like sun, dirt, the woods, and something floral. I scooted over to the wall of the tent and he lay down beside me. I turned towards the wall as he pulled the covers onto himself. He reached around me to get the candle hanging above me and pinched it out with a soft hiss.
“Goodnight Faelyn” I said softly.
“Goodnight Anna. He said even softer.
I smiled. He chuckled and turned over, facing me, he pulled me closer to him. I snuggled into the blankets and into him. I closed my eyes and right before I fell asleep I thought, “This is just the beginning.”
I woke up to Faelyn’s hand shaking my shoulder.
“It’s time to get up sleepy head.” He said softly. I groaned and pulled the covers up over my head and said
“I don’t want to get up”
He chuckled and then silence, I peeked out of the covers to see him lighting the candle. I pulled my head back under the covers and relaxed. Then all of a sudden he pulled the covers off of me and sprayed me with icy cold water. I squealed loudly and jumped up. He continued to spray me until he thought I was awake enough. I was jumping around the tent and had fallen; when he stopped I glared up at him from the floor. He grinned so wide I was wondering how it didn’t hurt his cheeks. I got up and started to grab my clothes when he made the mistake of setting the bottle down where I could get it, and turning to make the bed. I snatched it up, opened the bottle and poured it down the back of his shirt in a blink of an eye. I jumped away when he reached around for me and his hand missed me by an inch. He jumped at me and I dodged away, but not in time, he grabbed my arm and pulled me to him. I tried to wriggle free but he was stronger than me. He leaned down to my ear and whispered, “What do have to say for yourself?”
I looked up at him and smiled as sweetly as I could, “That it was so worth it and I’m glad I did it.” He pushed me onto the bed and said
“Wrong answer” and then all of a sudden he was tickling me unmercifully.
“Stop, quit it Faelyn!” I squealed, finally both of us out of breath he said again
“What do you say?” I knew what would happen if I said it, but I just couldn’t resist
“That it was totally worth it and that I’m never going to let you forget it.” He sighs and looks at the ground and shakes his head. “You never give in do you?” he asked.
“Nope” I popped my lips on the ‘p’. He sighed and turned away then said
“Ok then you win.” I nodded like I knew that already, and turned away from him to gather up my clothes from yesterday so I could find somewhere to wash them. Then all of a suddenly I was flying through the air and landed on the bed with a muted thud. He was holding me to his chest so I wasn’t jarred too much. “You’re forgetting that I’m stronger and more cunning than you.” He whispered in my ear.
“Har Har, very funny, now would you mind letting me go so I can get dressed?” I said.
“Hmm? I’ll think about it” he said. I rolled my eyes, which was pretty much all I could move, he was holding me so tight. I tried to move but he just held me tighter.
“Ok, ok then I’m sorry that I poured the cold water down your back as revenge for you spraying me. Now let me go please?” I asked the question as sweetly as I could manage. He shook his head “Nope, not happening.”
“What? Why not? I apologized.”
“I know, but you need to be punished.” He said menacingly, his long hair brushing my cheek as he whispered in my ear. I gulped “What do you mean ‘punished’?” I asked warily.
“I don’t know yet, I’ll have to think about that for a while.” He said. I sighed,
“Do I have to sit here the entire time? I’m getting a cramp.” I said. He laughed, squeezed me once, and set me free. I stood up and stretched.
“Thanks” I said voice heavy with sarcasm.
“Any day” he said brightly, like I really meant it. I snorted and turned around; listening to him to make sure he couldn’t catch me off guard again. He turned away and started to make up the bed again. When he was done I asked him to go outside the tent so I could change. He smiled nodded and walked out, the tent flap closing heavily behind him. I sighed turned around and picked up the pile of clothes that he had brought me the night before. I picked the shirt up and shook it out, then stared in disbelief; it was a belly shirt that didn’t cover much. I set it down and sat on the bed, afraid to ask for something different, maybe all women wore this. Or maybe it was something that only a man would pick. I sighed and walked out of the tent. Faelyn was standing outside waiting. “I thought you were going to change?” he said, straightening up. I held up the offending garment, ignoring his question. “What is this?” I asked.
“A shirt.” He said. I rolled my eyes; he was such a smart-alike. “Well I knew that, but why so short?”
He smiled and shrugged.
“Well is it ok if I get something a bit… I don’t know, longer?” I said. He sighed and said
“Ok I guess” and walked towards Mariana’s tent with his head down, like he was sulking. I smiled and walked back into the tent. I sat on the bed and looked around. Our little wrestling match earlier had made the tent a mess. I stood and started to pick things up. He walked in just as I finished picking up. With a pile of clothes in his hands. He held them out and started for the door.
“Oh, no you don’t! Get back here mister. You will wait and let me see what you brought me this time.” He sighed and turned around and walked to the bed and sat down. “Ok, ok fine, see I’m waiting.” I laughed and put the clothes down on the bed and sat next to him. He sat there patiently, waiting for the verdict. I held them up and the shirt was a short sleeved baby blue shirt. I nodded and set that down. I picked up the shorts, they were a little short but I didn’t mind that. They were black and stretchy. I nodded and looked around.
“What about shoes?” I asked.
“You didn’t need them yesterday, why would you need them now?” he countered. I nodded and smiled. I turned to him “I like these better, now out. I need to change.” He smiled, and got up and headed for the door. Before he left he called over his shoulder, “Hurry up please, I need to change to you know.” And walked out, still smiling. I changed and walked outside. He looked up from the stick he was fiddling with and smiled. “Done?” he asked with a raised brow.
“No I’m just out here to annoy you.” I said with heavy sarcasm. He laughed and went into the tent. I waited outside and when he came out he had black jean cut-off shorts and a dark green shirt on. I noticed that he wasn’t wearing shoes either. He noticed me looking and spun around “Well?” he asked. I nodded my approval and he smiled. We started to walk to the side of the camp and I asked him
“So, what are we doing today?”
He shrugged “Usually I just make it up as I go.” I laughed and said
“Well today we are doing what I want to do.”
He smiled and said “Ok, so what are we doing then?”
I thought about that for a second, my mind came up blank. “You know, I don’t know yet.” He laughed and started to run. I caught up to him. I looked over at him and smiled wickedly. He looked at me, wary. He should be, I was in my element. I laughed at the look on his face. I ran faster and then all of a sudden someone jumped out in front of me. I tried to stop but the mud wouldn’t let me, it was too slippery. The figure stood there and the second before I hit him, he moved off to the side and out of my way. I tripped and ran face first into a hedge. I stood up and spit out leaves, dirt, spider webs and god-knows-what-else. I turned around to see Faelyn and the stranger laughing so hard their eyes were wet and they were clutching their sides. I stalked up to them and stared at Faelyn, pointedly ignoring the stranger. Faelyn looked down at me stopped laughing at my expression. “Sorry.” He said, clearly not. I just looked at him, waiting for an explanation.
“Oh sorry this is my friend, Markin, Markin, this is Anna. He’s quite the mischief maker.” I just kept looking at him.
“What?” he said. I raised my eyebrows, waiting.
“Ok, I’m sorry he made you trip it was not a nice thing to do, Markin, say sorry.” He looked at him and waited. I turned to Markin.
“Ok. Sorry for making you trip and fall into the hedge.” He said, amusement glittering in his eyes. I turned and stalked away. I heard Faelyn sigh and start after me, whispering to Markin,
“Great now you made her mad at me to, smooth move Elvis.”
Markin whispered back “Well I said I was sorry didn’t I? It’s not my fault that she’s being a moody-”
“You guys do know I can hear every word you’re saying right?” I called over my shoulder, cutting him off.
Then Faelyn pulled up beside me and took my hand. I didn’t pull away like I wanted to. “We know that we shouldn’t have done that, but he convinced me and it kind of was funny, you have to admit it.” I turned to look up at him and gave him a basilisk glare. He looked down at me with a calm gaze; my gaze flickered to his head as the wind blew his hair around his face and framed his golden eyes that I love so much. I looked at Markin, standing there, acting like he wasn’t there. I looked back up at Faelyn; he wasn’t looking me in the eyes anymore. His gaze had switched to my lips. Before I had time to say anything, he was leaning towards me. I stretched up on my tiptoes and then I was home. I felt the cool miracle of his lips on mine, I didn’t care that he was a lot taller than me; but he seemed to notice this and leaned down even farther. I pressed my lips against his and then I sighed, lips still on his. I heard someone clear their throat behind him. I opened my eyes and looked at him. We broke apart and stepped away from each other, still holding hands, me breathing hard. I looked at Markin and felt my cheeks flush red as I saw the amusement in his eyes. I looked up at Faelyn and saw triumph glittering in his eyes. I looked at the leaf covered ground. My first kiss and it was broken apart by a mischievous kid. I looked at Markin with a defiant look in my eyes and said,
“You got a problem with it? Then don’t watch.” I turned back to Faelyn and wrapped my arms around his neck. He smiled and leaned down. I kissed him again until we were both breathless, then I heard someone laugh. I thought it was Markin until I heard more than one person laughing. I broke away to see Markin and Jared standing there, clutching their sides pretty much rolling in the ground. I snorted and said to Faelyn in a whisper so that only he could hear me, “Can we go somewhere that these two little kids won’t be?” he nodded, grinning, and then I looked at the two behind us and said
“Well, it was so nice to meet you but, we’ve got to run.” And we took off like lightning.
“Hey…” that’s all I had time to hear from the two behind us until we were too far away to hear them anymore. I heard the two behind us, footsteps drumming the ground and I pulled Faelyn to the side and we quickly climbed a tree. We sat there and waited for a second before we saw Markin and Jared run by still thinking they were following us. I laughed silently and leaned back against Faelyn, sighing with contentment. I heard him chuckle and shift to get comfortable. I leaned forward until he pulled me back against him again. I leaned back into him and closed my eyes, loving the feeling of him brushing butterfly kisses along my neck. I smiled and said all of a sudden,
“Do you love me?” he stopped kissing my neck and leaned back against the tree. I instantly felt awkward. “I mean you don’t have to answer me.” I said quickly.
“No, no, it’s a good question.” He said “I think that I do.” He said finally. I sighed with relief, and then I thought, he hadn’t really said the words. So I decided that I would. “Faelyn, can I tell you something?”
“I love you.” I said it. Bracing myself for rejection. I could hear the smile in his voice as he said,
“I’m glad to hear it.” Then he turned me around and sat me back on his lap and rested his forehead against mine and looked deeply into my eyes with his amazing gold ones. We sat like that for a while. I smile as he leaned forwards. I leaned towards him and we met in the middle. I felt the soft shape of his lips brush against mine, his lips parted and I tasted his breath. He tasted like toothpaste. I felt him shift closer to me and I ran my hands through his hair, feeling the softness of it. I grabbed a handful of it and pulled his head closer. I felt him smile against my lips and then he started to pull away. I wrapped my hands around his neck but let him pull away a little bit. He looked at me with love in his eyes, so fierce that I knew he had meant it when he said that he loves me. He took one look at my pouting face and laughed. I looked at him and asked,
“Why did you stop?” in a voice of a child not getting candy before dinner. He looked pointedly at the sky, and I looked up. It was dark. We had sat there for a long time apparently. I smiled and gave him a quick peck on the lips and jumped off his lap onto the ground. He laughed and jumped down beside me. He took my hand and started towards the camp. When we got to camp, my weariness fell on me all at once. I crawled under the blankets and sighed, waiting for Faelyn to come lay down beside me but he didn’t. I looked up and instantly looked away. He was changing right there! Still looking at the wall I said in an uneasy voice
“What are you doing?” I heard him chuckle, “Getting dressed. What did you think I was doing?”
I frowned “Well I’m sorry but I don’t quite appreciate it when someone doesn’t give me, I don’t know, any warning when they are going to change right in front of me.”
I heard him chuckle again, “It’s my tent remember, and I trust you enough not to look.” I smiled in spite of myself and my situation.
“Alright you’re safe now.” He said, thinking he was funny. I growled at him, but turned over. He was standing there grinning my favorite lopsided grin. I smiled and waved him over. He walked over to me and lay down on top of the blankets. I looked at him puzzled. “I’m too hot right now; I’ll get under them later.” He explained as he pulled me towards him. I nodded sleepily; he smiled and laid his chin on my shoulder, so that we are cheek-to-cheek. I smiled and thought that before I went to sleep I had to do one thing. I sat there for a second until he sounded almost asleep then rolled over and pushed. He toppled over the edge of the bed with a cry of surprise. Me? Well, I couldn’t stop laughing. His head popped up over the edge of the bed. He looked at me with a look that said it all. When I stopped laughing he got back on the bed and scooted over so that he wasn’t near the edge anymore. “What was that for?” he asked me angrily.
“Earlier.” I said simply. He shot me a look of disbelief, “Really? I thought that we cleared that up?”
I laughed and said “Not even close buddy. You’re not getting off that easily.” He frowned and said “well what if I…”
I cut him off. “Oh no you are just going to have to wait it out, now I want to go to sleep please, I’m tired.” He frowned but leaned in and gave me a kiss goodnight. I laughed “Thank you.” I said.
He smiled and said with a slightly persuasive voice, “You’re welcome to ask for more.” With a raised eyebrow.
I narrowed my eyes at him, “I would but I have to get some sleep.” Then turned over, away from him. I heard him sigh with disappointment then he reached over and pulled me to him. I smiled and closed my eyes.
I woke up to Faelyn’s voice outside the tent. He sounded angry. I got to my feet and went to the tent flap. As I was about to open it I heard Faelyn say
“Well to bad, she’s not going anywhere.” I heard someone mumble a reply.
“Yes, tell him that in those exact words!” I heard a faint voice then Faelyn said,
“I don’t care, now leave me alone, I need to go see to Anna. Goodbye.” I rushed back to the bed and had just gotten settled when he walked back in. I looked up and saw him starting at me with an unreadable face. I looked back at him with fake-sleepy eyes. He looked back at me with love. He smiled and I waved him over. He walked over and sat down on the bed. “So, how much of that did you hear out there?” he said in a voice that I knew well.
I smiled sheepishly, “Something about someone not leaving and ‘to bad’ and ‘yes tell him that in those exact words’ or something like that.” I admitted. He smiled and I sat up and before he could say anything I leaned forwards and gave him a long, slow , drugging kiss. As I sat back he smiled even wider.
“What was that for?” he asked me, I could hear the longing in his voice, being a boy and wanting more. I grinned and said, “Because I hate it when you are in a bad mood, and because I love you.” I said. He looked at me and a weird look crossed his face. I felt the smile fade away as he looked at me more intensely. “What are you looking at? Is it my hair? You know I didn’t have time to grab a brush.” he shook his head and grinned, but I could tell that it wasn’t the same.
“I know I just kind of zoned-out.” I nodded even though I didn’t believe him. He stood and picked up a pile of clothes and threw them at my head. I narrowed my eyes at him, and he laughed and said
“Don’t worry; I picked something more you this time.” I nodded at the bed and he said “Still don’t trust me huh?”
and sighed. I shook my head and he laughed again. He came and sat down in the bed so close that our hips were touching. I picked up the shirt and it was ok. It had a vest but I decided I wouldn’t wear that so I set it aside. The shirt itself was long-sleeved and a light forest green. The jeans were knee-short and blue. I noticed there was underwear. Thank god I didn’t have to embarrass myself asking for a pair. I didn’t look at them much; just long enough that I knew that it was safe to wear them. I looked at Faelyn and said,
“You’re really getting to know what I will say Yes and No to aren’t you?” he shrugged
“I guess.” I laughed and swatted at his butt as he walked away.
“Behave yourself.” He said in a mocking one.
“Hmm? I don’t think I’ve heard of that saying before.” I said sarcastically. He raised his eyebrows
“Hmm. I think that you may be right.” I laughed and shooed him out of the tent. I picked up the shirt and all of a sudden I had this back-wrenching pain start in my neck. I gasped and then it hit again. I screamed so hard that a vessel in my eye popped and dropped like a rock. Faelyn came running in with a stick thing in his hand. He dropped it and ran to my side and dropped onto his knees beside me. I looked at him with terrified eyes.
“Help me!” I croaked before another spasm hit me. I screamed again. He held my head in his hands trying to pick me up but my body was a slippery noodle, he was looking at me with a panicked look, his usual calm gone like it never existed. I couldn’t move. It hurt just thinking about it. He yelled something but I couldn’t hear him, all I could do was try and read his lips. It looked like he was shouting a name. He was shouting Aptura’s name! I tried to tell him no but he kept yelling. Aptura’s massive frame filled the tent all of a sudden and I felt myself being lifted up and carried. I squinted as the bright sun pierced my un-adjusted eyes. I tried to fight against his arms but then I felt myself being switched to someone else. It was Faelyn. I recognized the feel of his arms on me, holding me tight. I stopped trying to struggle. I felt his warm breath on my ears and heard a faint
“Its ok, you’re going to be just fine, the first time always hurts.” He explained. But what did he mean first time? First time for what? I felt the wind whip past me as he started to run. Where was he going? Why was he going into the forest? Then another spasm hit and I screamed again, turning stiff as a board. He finally set me down after what seemed like forever, in a clearing somewhere in the forest. I heard Aptura shout over my screaming
“She started the Change to early, all we can do now is wait!” I felt Faelyn shaking with sobs as he listened to my screaming, knowing he couldn’t do anything to stop it. I somehow managed to shift my hand over to his, through my pain. He felt my hand and looked down and held it. He looked into my eyes and I looked into his golden ones. I knew that it would be alright, even though I had no idea what was happening, he did. We sat like that, me screaming, him crying for my pain like it was his own. Then my hand went limp, I sat there just staring into open space, I could hear him talking to me, shaking me but as much as I wanted to I couldn’t move, talk or anything. All of a sudden felt my bones grinding together, moving shifting, changing.
It hurt like nothing I had ever experienced before.
I couldn’t even scream so I just lay there. He tried to shift me but every time he touched me I stiffened in pain. He finally gave up and then I didn’t feel anything. I opened my eyes and the world looked different, somehow clearer, like I was seeing it through new eyes. I looked over at Faelyn and he looked down at me. He smiled grimly and I stood up. But as I tried to stand on two legs I fell back down with a wince. I tried to speak to Faelyn, ask him why I can’t stand but all that came out was a choked snarl. I looked down at my body and all I saw was white-ish blonde, fur. I started to try and scramble up and he reached out to me saying, “It’s ok, just take it slowly.” And amazingly, I understood him. I tried to nod but it was just a bob of my head. He nodded like he understood then he started to spasm. I stood up as he fell to the ground writhing like he was in pain, I heard a soft moan escape his lips and could tell he was trying to hold it in for my sake, again. I blinked and before me stood a giant leopard. He was as big as I was, bigger even. He looked at me and I stepped back a step. He gave off a familiar smell. I took a hesitant step forward and he stood as still as he could. I took another and then we were nose-to-nose. He blinked at my daringness. I rubbed my head against his with a purr. All of a sudden he lunged at me with a playful growl. I leaped aside and he rolled past me. I tried to stifle a purr of amusement but it came out anyways. He looked at me while getting up with the look of someone who didn’t want to look embarrassed even though they knew they were beat. He shook himself off and padded up to me. I leaned down on my front paws and left my back end up in the air, saying I wanted to play. He shook his head slightly and took off. I sat down and waited there. He walked back into the clearing and sat next to me. He nudged my shoulder and I stood up. We walked into the forest instead of running, I had to get used to my new four-foot thing. Finally it felt ok so I started to go faster and he trotted alongside me. I glanced at him from the corner of my eye. He was so graceful and here I was tripping over every stick and leaf there was in the forest. He ran ahead of me and stopped, facing me. I tried to go around him but he stepped in my way. I growled a warning, and he snarled back, much fiercer. I took a step back in surprise. All of a sudden he lunged for me and I felt his teeth sink into my flank. I howled out in pain and surprise. I growled and spun on him. He was standing there waiting for my attack. I lunged at him and he side-stepped me easily. I spun before he had time to collect himself and sank my teeth into his shoulder. He cried out and I took a step back. I felt this tingly-feeling starting in the back of my head. Then I heard Faelyn’s voice as if he was in my head. “Did you really have to bite me so hard?” I growled and thought
“If you hadn’t bit me I never would have bit back!” then felt like an idiot; of course he can’t hear me. He can’t read minds. But apparently I was wrong
“Hey, I only did that so we could communicate! You bit me back for no reason!” I stared at I’m and he looked like he would have a grin on his face if he was a human.
“How is that even possible? We are just cats, we can’t read minds!” I thought back slowly.
“Do you feel like just a cat?”
I thought about that for a second “No not really, I feel like a giant cat but I thought that it would be… different somehow.”
“Humph!” he grunted and started to walk off. I caught up to him and he looked over at me and so I though at him, “Why do you have to bite me to talk like this?”
“I don’t know you just do, I’m still new at this too so you’d have to ask someone else all your questions, I can only answer a few.”
“Ok then what do I look like then?” He looked over at me and thought finally “Beautiful as usual.”
I looked down“That’s not an answer, what do I look like? Like what color, height, you know that kind of stuff.”
“Hmm. You are a little shorter than me which is about 5’ 6” so you’re about five foot tall. You have fur the same color as your hair; you have a very long fluffy tail. Is there anything else you want to know?”
I thought for a second “I don’t think so. So how come my fur is the same color as my hair when you look like a leopard?”
He didn’t answer for a second, thinking, “We have tried to figure that out but we never could, maybe I was meant for this? Who knows, it’s just the way mother-nature made me.”
I walked silently for a little while.
“Well I think I like you better like this. You would probably not look too good dark brown.” He rolled his eyes. I purred and started to run. He growled and ran after me. As he caught up to me I nipped at his ear, careful not to break skin or hurt him, too much anyways. He yelped in a playful manner and I hissed at him playfully. He pretended to be afraid and let me stand over him for a second before lunging at me, keeping his claws sheathed. He knocked me over and we wrestled for a while, him finally pinning me down. I waited for him to let go of the scruff of my neck but he didn’t until I shook my head slightly, reminding him. He purred and let go and I thought to him “So how do I change back into a human? Or is this an all-my-life kind of thing?”
“Well no its not and you can change back and forth whenever you want to. Like I did before.” He replied. I kept on walking and thinking at the same time. Big mistake. I felt something snag my forepaw and I went down with a screech. I rolled down the hill and bumped into a tree and lay there, dazed. I heard Faelyn running to me and he started to yell to me in my mind.
“Anna! Are you ok? Anna! Oh please be ok!” he reached me and I felt something brush my face. “Anna!” He said and I realized it wasn’t in my head, he had changed back. I looked up at him and something blurred my vision. I reached up with a forepaw and wiped it away then looked at my paw. It was blood. My eyes rolled and then blackness.
I woke up in our bed. Faelyn was sitting at the end of the bed watching me. I opened my eyes and his eyes lit up.
“Oh my god! Are you ok? I’m so sorry!” as he crawled over to me and sat next to me, sitting as close as he could to me. I blinked
“For what?” I asked, confused. He frowned,
“Don’t you remember anything from yesterday?” I blinked as everything came back to me. I tried to sit up but I couldn’t, something was holding me down. I looked down to see Faelyn’s hand on my chest, keeping me there. I looked up at him and said,
“Your hands a little too close for comfort there bud.” He looked at his hand as if he hadn’t realized it was there. He slowly pulled his hand away and said softly
“Sorry, I wasn’t thinking.” I sat up a little slower and he moved away from me, like he didn’t want to touch me. I grabbed his hand before he could pull it away.
“What’s wrong Faelyn? Did I do something wrong?” he looked down at our twined fingers and said slowly,
“No, nothing’s wrong, I’m still wondering how you can touch me, most normal people would probably be afraid of me, that’s all.” He said still slowly moving away from me. I grabbed his arm and pulled him to me,
“Well I would have thought that you would have known by now that I’m not really normal am I?” We laughed. “Why do you think I would be afraid of you? We are the same, not different, remember?” He looked at me sheepishly and shrugged. I leaned over to him and gave him a quick peck. He smiled and started to lean in for more but I pulled away, and then pushed him off the bed again, but this time he was prepared for it. He dodged out of the way and I yelped, fighting to keep my balance. He smiled and leaned over me. I glared at him and then that little movement of my head sent me crashing over the edge of the bed. I pulled myself up.
“Injured lady here remember? You should treat me with more respect. You know, respect your elders kind of thing?” I laughed as I crawled back onto the bed, careful to move as far from the edge as I could.
“Elders? Your only 18 though, I’m 19 so I’m your elder.” I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye. “You don’t look 19 you look 17 or 18.” I said.
He laughed and said “Thanks” I tried to hide my smile but he saw it anyway. He grabbed me around the waist and swung me around the tent. When he stopped spinning I was dizzy. I looked up at him and he caught me off guard. As his lips met mine I felt like this should never end even though he would end it if I didn’t. We sat there, entwined for a while, him shifting me every once in a while until I was straddling his lap. He pulled me as close as he was able to and laid me down on the bed, our lips still together. His shirt was already unbuttoned and as I wrapped my arms around his waist and pulled him closer. We heard a knock on the tent side. We both groaned and pulled reluctantly apart. He stood up and I sat up on the bed. When he got to the door I heard Aptura’s voice saying
“We need you to come help us with the hunt, will you come?” Faelyn looked back towards me and Aptura said “Oh you probably are too busy, you can come on morning patrol instead.”
Faelyn sighed and looked back at me for permission; I laughed “Go, we can talk later.” With a wink. He turned back to Aptura and said “I will come but just wait for five minutes I need to get ready.” Aptura nodded and walked away towards the stables. Faelyn sighed and turned to me with an apologetic expression. I laughed and picked a pile of his clothes up and threw them at his head. He caught them and laughed and I got up to go outside so he could change. As I waited outside I saw the stick thing he was holding when he came in to find me changing, or whatever I was doing. I picked it up and it was a walking stick with a beautiful design carved into it. In the middle my name was carved in to it. I stood there studying the work of art, and hadn’t even realized it when Faelyn walked up behind me. I jumped as he wrapped his arms around my waist and rested his head on my shoulder.
“Do you like it?” he asked in a soft voice. I shook my head and replied “No, I love it.” And turned to face him. He looked down at me and I smiled
“So, who made this?” He smiled and said with a proud voice
“I did.” I laughed again, “It will be treasured forever” and stretched up on my tiptoes and kissed his cheek. He smiled “Thank you.”
“You know if I keep you here any longer then you will miss the hunt.” He leaned closer to me,
“I wouldn’t mind.” He said in just slightly persuasive voice. I groaned and pushed him away. “Get going” I said. He smiled, leaned down and kissed me good-bye and started to walk towards the stables to get his Stage. I walked back into the tent and looked around at my new home. I sat down on the bed and put my head in my hands. I don’t know why but I had the urge to cry. I held my breath until it passed. When I looked up again I saw someone at the door. I stood up quickly. I couldn’t see who it was all I could see was a shadow. I took a cautious step forward.
“Who’s there?” I called. The figure moved and took off. I ran out the door and looked around. There was no one there. I shook my head, I must be imagining things. I walked back into the tent. I lay down on the bed, tired again. I closed my eyes and fell into a dreamless sleep. When I woke up Faelyn was home and was just sitting down next to me. I sat up and looked over at him as I wrinkled my nose. “You stink”
He smiled and said, “Well I missed you too.” He leaned in for a kiss but I leaned away,
“Like I said before, you stink.” I said to his pouting face. He rolled his eyes and said,
“Fine I’ll wash up and I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He leaned in and gave me a quick peck before I could pull away and jumped off the bed. I rolled my eyes and threw a pillow at him. He laughed and threw it back as he pushed out of the tent. I rolled my eyes again and lay back down. I closed my eyes and laid there thinking, where were my parents? Did I have any here? Maybe I could meet them! I shook my head and thought; maybe they put me up for adoption because they didn’t want me. If they didn’t want me then, why would they want me now? I laid there and thought until Faelyn came back. His hair was slicked to his head and his eyes shone. I smiled and he walked over to the bed and sat down. I sat up and laid my head on his shoulder with a sigh. He picked my head up and cupped it in his hands, and searched my eyes then said, “What’s wrong?”
I looked at him, surprised. “Nothing, why?” he looked more deeply into my eyes, “I can tell something is wrong, I can see it in your eyes.”
I sighed, “Sorry, I was thinking that’s all.” He raised an eyebrow. I looked back at him, “I don’t want to talk about it right now.” He nodded and laid me back down on the bed and laid next to me. I snuggled into him. I breathed in the scent of him, soap, dirt, and sunshine. He chuckled, “Did you just sniff me?”
I flushed, “Sorry I just love the way you smell.” He shook his head, “Sometimes I don’t understand you women.” But I could hear the smile in his voice.
I rolled over and looked up at him
“And you think that we women understand you men? Because you are sadly mistaken my friend.” He smiled and shrugged. I rolled my eyes and thought “Why not lighten the mood?” and went to push him over the edge again but he looked at me and said
“Don’t you dare.” I looked up at him with an innocent expression, “Who me? I wasn’t going to do anything.”
He rolled his eyes and started to say “Uh-huh, sure yo-” then gasped as I pushed my cold feet against his warm legs. He glared down at me as I smiled up at him,
“Something wrong?” I asked him as sweetly as I could. He narrowed his eyes at me again. I laughed and said “Well, it’s not my fault you’re so warm and I’m so cold.”
That did it and he started to laugh and I smiled even wider. “So how did you wash anyway, in the stream?” I asked him, for future reference of course. He rolled his eyes, “Duh.”
I shook my head; he didn’t understand what I meant. “Ok. How do you get there, you’re not the only one who needs to wash you know.” I looked at him knowingly. He stood up and pulled me to my feet. “Let’s go there then”
I grinned as we walked out of the tent and started running. He took a well-used path and before I knew it we were coming into a huge clearing and I saw waterfalls and a giant pool. It looked like something you would find in a fairy-tale, or a cartoon. I looked around in amazement, and not even turning to look at him I ask, “Am I dreaming? Because this can’t be real, it’s to…to… amazing.” He chuckled and I shivered as his warm breath blew onto my ear.
“No you’re not dreaming, yet.”
I raised my eyebrows, “Yet? That sounds…interesting, I guess.”
He threw his head back and laughed, and I grinned. He turned to the pool as I looked away, to keep looking around.
“SPLASH!” I turned around in time to see a shirtless Faelyn jump into the pool and splash me with enough water to soak anyone down to the bone. I squealed and ducked, but sadly, not in time. As Faelyn’s head popped up above the water he grinned. “The waters fine, come on in!” he called out to me, hands cupped around his mouth as a microphone. I rolled my eyes and sat on a sun warmed rock about ten feet away from the water’s edge and propped my hand on my knee and rested my chin in my palm. He sighed and disappeared under water again. I looked around for him, expecting him to come back up right in front on me but he didn’t. After about two minutes I got worried so I walked down to the water’s edge and peered in.
Faelyn jumped up and pulled me into the water. I screamed and he pulled me farther from the edge until we were in the middle of the pool. He didn’t let me go and I clung to his arm. He pulled me close and I glared up at him, it was quite hard, trying to glare and blink away the water spiked to my lashes. He looked down at me and laughed,
“What?” I shook my head and said,
“I didn’t want to go swimming you know. I just wanted to see where this place was, I didn’t have a bathing suit either.” He shook his head to,
“You don’t need one.” His warm breath on my ear made me shiver. He chuckled in my ear and clutched me tighter. I rolled my eyes as he pulled me closer to the waterfalls. He stopped “What now?”
I smiled. “Do you know how many times I have had people go to the waterfall, and drag me along with them? Too many times to count thank you.”
His brow furrowed but he kept on heading towards the waterfalls. I laughed and tried to pull myself out of his grasp. He squeezed me tighter and swam faster. We passed around the waterfall and came out into a humungous cave, bigger than any I had ever seen. I gazed around in amazement until Faelyn said,
“Do you like it? I thought you would.” I didn’t answer for a second and he must’ve thought I didn’t like it because he said in a worried tone,
“If you don’t like it we can always go to a different one.”
I turned around to see his worried face; I looked him in the eyes and said, “No, I love it.”
Before he could reply I leaned forwards and he grinned thinking he knows what I am doing. I grinned again and darted out of his loosened grip. I darted behind him, but the water made me slow and he grabbed for me, but the water also made him slow (and not to mention clumsy) too. He tripped and fell face first into the water. I laughed and looked around, I felt something brush my leg and I squealed and danced out of the way. But something grabbed my ankle and I tripped. He popped up from the water. I stared up at him until he smiled. “What was that about?”
“A joke. Perhaps you’ve heard of them.” He teased.
I smiled and splashed him with water.
“Hey! What was that for?” he said after wiping water out of his eyes. I shrugged, “I think you referred to it as a ‘joke’? Yes that’s it.”
I said tapping my chin in mock thought. He chuckled and swam away. I shook my head and started to head towards the front of the cave, planning on going back outside but he heard me splashing around and snaked a hand around my waist and started to pull me farther into the cave. I struggled against his arm and he shook his head and pulled me closer. All of a sudden I couldn’t keep the question back. “Where are my real parents? I know that they must be from here.”
He looked at me startled, but still swimming, but slowing. “Why would you think that? Your parents are in the human’s world, remember?”
I shook my head in denial, “No, when I was crying the day we met,” he stopped swimming. “I had found out that I was adopted to replace a dead baby.”
“Oh, that must have…. well I don’t know how to tell you this but, your parents were killed because they committed treason, they-”
I shook my head and whispered “No, no, no, that can’t be true. They have to be alive, who killed them?!”
He looked away; I shook my head again and pushed away from Faelyn, backing away, staring at him wide-eyed. I felt the hot tears running down my face. He reached out to me but I cringed away from him, I couldn’t help it. I turned away from him to pull myself up onto the ledge and ran away. I heard Faelyn shout my name behind me, calling me back.
“Anna! Stop, I’m sorry, please come back!” I shook my head and felt the tears fling off my face. I didn’t care where I was going, didn’t care that I didn’t know an inch of these woods. My brain just shut down and told me to keep running, to never stop, that I never could stop. I ran and ran and ran. Life had no more meaning.
It was over.
I ran after her, calling her name, “Anna! Anna! Come back, I’m sorry but they were traitors!”
“Oh great that won’t help you idiot.” I whispered to myself. I smacked my hand to my forehead as I ran, thinking how I just didn’t lie when she asked me the question. Then I remembered that when I first kissed her that I would never lie to her, ever again. I shook my head again and ran faster. I stopped to look at a broken twig, sloppy for her, she usually doesn’t even leave a trail of footprints. I shook my head, that’s never good. There was way to many people out here that would like to take her home and… I shuddered and just focused my mind on the task at hand. I called her name again, knowing she was close enough to hear me.
“Aaaaaannnnnnnnnaaaaaa! I know you can hear me, please come out. Don’t be like this we can talk this over, I swear!”
I heard a faint rustle beside me. I smiled and darted that way. I saw her shape in front of me and ran faster. She was running, not towards me, but away from me. I cursed under my breath. She was still faster than me as a human, but as a cat, well that’s a different story. I stopped, knowing I had to hurry and Shifted, I felt a small pain in my back start up and spread across my body. I moaned with pain then fell. I stood back up as a cat and started to run again. I slowly made process against her but as soon as I got close enough to reach out and grasp her shirt in between my teeth, she darted off to the side and left me behind in a cloud of dust. I growled and pushed off to the side after her. I screeched to a stop and looked around. She was gone. I snarled and paced in a circle. I sat down and looked around and started to sniff the ground. There it is, I followed her trail until it disappeared , I lifted my head and looked around. She was gone. I looked up in the trees, remembering the time she snuck up behind me. Nothing. I ran off in the direction that the trail was heading. I heard a thump of someone jumping down from a tree behind me and the salty, tangy, smell of The Change. I spun around in time to see a white cat dart the opposite way as I was running. I hissed a warning and ran after her but apparently she was faster than me as a cat too. I ran as fast as I could but she still was much faster than I was. We ran and ran until I couldn’t run anymore. I flopped onto my side panting hard, as she disappeared over a hill. I Shifted back, painlessly this time thank god. I’d had enough pain today to last me a lifetime. I cursed myself with everything I knew, even the ones I didn’t realize I knew. I walked in a circle until night fell. I slowly made my way back to camp, alone once more. As I walked into camp, people clustered around me, worry darkening their eyes. I looked up as my old mentor walked up to me, with a tear on his cheek.
“What has happened, Kiro?”
He looked down as I took another step closer to him to hear his whisper, “We heard what happened with Anna and we are very sorry.”
I looked at him confused, “How did you already know before I even got back to camp?” I asked him searching the crowd for anyone who looked like they had been spying on us. I looked back at Kiro as he said “Jared told us, he said you sent him back to tell us to keep a lookout for her at all times. Is this true? Is she really gone?” I nodded and he fell back a step with a gasp. I turned and called out to the rest
“Where is Jared? I have to…. discuss something with him, now.” Someone rushed off to retreive him. I looked around at all the worried faces around me, no one had ever been excepted into the pride this quickly. It amazed me greatly. Someone came rushing back to the crowd with a smaller figure behind. The bigger of the shadows stayed at the edge of the crowd but the smaller kept coming until he was at my side. I looked down at my brothers face. He looked scared. He had every right to, I was very angry.
“How did you know where to find me and Anna?” I said in a voice that made him cower back, acid leaking unintentionally into my voice. He took a step back, away from my fuming face. I glanced around as the crowd started to melt away. Nobody interfered with family business, ever. I looked back at Jared and he shrank away again.
“Stop doing that, its not like I’m going to hit you.” He stopped and I pressed on, “So, how did you know? Were you spying on us?” he shook his head.
“Well, then how?” I asked, getting frustrated again. He looked back at me and started to speak,
“After you dumped me in the woods with that idiot Markin,” He snarled the name “I followed you both, but I was left behind. I went back to camp in time to see you guys leave for the pool. I was left behind again but I knew where you were going so I ran a little slower. I came in time to hear you explain about her parents, I hid in a crevice next to the cave and listened. I watched her run away and ran after her before you did. I caught up to her and she left me in the dust. I followed you and when you got left behind by her for a second time, I ran back to camp and informed everyone that the only Pure One was gone. I’m sorry brother for your loss.”
I shook my head “She is not a Pure One.” I hissed.
“I’m sorry brother but she is, she has all the-”
“NO!” I roared, “She can’t be a Pure One, there are none left, we killed them all off, remember?”
He shook his head and backed away from me. I turned around and ran back to my tent. As I pushed into the tent, her scent hit me full in the face. I whimpered and fell on the bed. I buried my face in the pillows and breathed her scent. I couldn’t stop. I fell asleep that night dreaming about her out there, in a world she doesn’t know, hungry, scared, and alone. The week passed me by in a daze. I woke up covered in a cold sweat as usual. I was breathing hard, I looked outside, and it was still dark. I cursed myself and got dressed. As I walked out in the cool night air, I smelled her. My eyes opened wide, and I raced off in the direction that her scent was coming from. As I got closer, I smelled the fear that it was covered with. She was terrified. I burst into a clearing and there she was, standing there, paralyzed with fear, staring at a Banda snake. I called out to her, she didn’t move. “Anna.” I said softly. “Just back away slowly, and you’ll be alright.”
She looked at me and the snake hissed at her, she whipped her head back to the snake. “Don’t break eye contact or else it will strike” I called softly.
“Shut up, don’t talk to me, I can get myself away from a stupid snake, I’ve been out here for a week remember?” She snapped her eyes still locked with the snakes.
I rolled my eyes, always stubborn. While she had the snake occupied I snuck up behind it and waited for it to forget I was there. That’s the only good thing about a Banda snake, they have a bad memory. As it looked away from me I jumped on its back. It turned to me, hissing, I hissed back. Its head reared back, surprised. It probably wasn’t used to its prey fighting back. I hissed at it again as Anna backed away and started to run. I cursed myself and jumped off of the snake and ran after her. The snake, too big to go as fast as us slithered away. I caught up to Anna and before she could move I tackled her. She fought wildly; it was easy to duck her wildly thrown punches, kicks and bites. I grabbed her hands before she could grab a lock of my long hair and yank, we stopped rolling, me pinning her down to the ground and her struggling underneath me. I grabbed a wrist in each of my hands and put my knees on her legs, holding her securely down. I leaned down to inspect her. Her eyes were rolling with anger and fear, and something else I didn’t recognize. She had cuts and bruises all over her face. She had a black eye and a fat lip. She was thin; she hadn’t eaten in a week. I searched her eyes for forgiveness but all I saw was rage, she tried to bite me but I moved my face out of reach just in time.
“I’m so sorry for this.” I whispered, and then I punched her. Her eyes went wide with shock and she slumped, asleep. I felt a tear run down my face as I scooped her up off the ground, she murmured something incoherent, I leaned in farther. She was whispering curses to me in her sleep. I leaned back and grinned. Same old, same old. I walked back to camp slowly, knowing she could not wake up yet. As I walked into camp everyone once again surrounded me, but I wasn’t there, they were all worried about Anna. I smiled as I walked to our tent. Everyone walked by my side until I got to the tent, I walked in and set her down on the bed. She rolled over and dug deeper into the warmth of the bed. I smiled and sat on the bed next to her. She rolled over again and murmured another curse for me. I got up again and walked outside, everyone was waiting outside for the news about Anna.
“She’s ok, she is tired and has a few cuts and bruises but she’ll live.” Everyone sighed at once and melted away to their own tents, it had been a long night for everyone. I walked back into the tent and lay there with her all night. I woke up to someone shouting. I sat bolt upright and looked around.
Anna was gone.
“God, please tell me she’s is ok.” I yelled at Aptura as he ran by me. He just kept on running by me with a glare.
“Don’t worry about her right now, worry about your Pride.” He yelled as he passed me.
I growled, “She’s is part of my Pride now!” I yelled as I heard someone scream. Then I heard a growl that I hoped I wouldn’t hear today.
As I rounded the last tent I saw her. “Anna! Stop you can’t do this, not right now.”
She turned her head towards me and the person she was cornering ran off, shaking with fright, to paralyzed to Change to defend themselves. Anna snarled at me and whipped away towards the forest but I ran in front of her. She growled at me and I growled back. She hissed at me before turning around and tearing through the tents and destroying everything around her. She snapped at the people starting to surround her, them all Changing one-by-one. I changed and ran to her side. She snarled at me but I said to her jumbled mind.
“Stop this Anna; they will kill you if you keep doing this.” She shook her head and sent back,
“You monsters killed the only family I had, you killed them Faelyn! Do you understand that?” she looked at me with pleading eyes,
“You still have family Anna, you have me, you have Mareana, and you have this whole pride, do you understand that?” I asked her, ignoring the monsters part. She looked back at me shocked, and then she Changed back. I Changed after her and sat with her in the middle of the rubble that I had called home for eighteen years now.
“I’m sorry.” She whispered into my chest. I just nodded and rested my chin on the top of her head. It felt good to have her back in my arms once again. I carried her to the tent, pretty much the only thing she hadn’t destroyed. I laid her on the bed and covered her with the blankets and started to walk away. She sat up and whimpered. I walked back to her and took her into my arms again. “I’m, so sorry Faelyn, the cat just… took over my mind I guess.”
I chuckled, “That’s happened to me too. Besides,” I leaned down to whisper in her ear. “The last time we had that much excitement was when I ran away for the first time too.” She giggled and wrapped her arms, slowly around me, as if asking if this was ok. I nodded and leaned into her embrace and wrapped my arms around her and pulled her as close as I could. She sighed and soon fell asleep in my arms. I sat there with her all night long. She finally stirred against my chest and I looked down at her with her big blue eyes.
“Please tell me that was all a dream.” She whispered.
I shook my head and gave her a grim smile. “Sadly, no, it wasn’t.” I told her.
She looked down and started to cry, I held her and whispered in her ear, “But, it’s not your fault. No one got hurt and that’s the important thing, right?” she shook her head and I looked down at her, confused.
“I hurt you, I hurt myself, I could’ve hurt anyone here and that’s just as bad.” She said, still refusing to look me in the eyes. I lifted her head with a hand on her chin and made her look me in the eyes. “You could never hurt me, not ever. Whatever you dish out, I will keep up and deal with it.” I told her, staring into her eyes.
She looked up at me, “Really? You’re not mad at me, not going to kick me out of the…what did you call it? A Pride?”
I shook my head.
“Oh thank you!” she yelled. She lunged at me and wrapped her arms around my neck and started to sob into my shoulder. I patted her shoulder and picked her up. “W-What are you doing?” she asked, her voice trembling.
“You need to take a bath, you stink and we need to clean your cuts.” She laughed shakily,
“I recall me telling you the same thing.” I nodded and started to run. When we got to the pool she slipped from my arms and jumped into the pool with a giant splash. I laughed, stripped my shirt and followed after her. She came up spluttering and I swam out to her with powerful strokes. She clung to me and I grabbed her arm and started to scrub with the soap I always left hidden by the rocks. She looked up at me, startled,
“Can’t I do it myself?” she asked. I chuckled and finished with her right arm and moved onto her left. She tried to squirm away but I held her tight. I reached down and grabbed her left leg. She squealed and tried to jump away, but I had ahold of her leg and she tripped. I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. She came up and wiped the water out of her eyes with a glare sent my way. I laughed as she tried to swim away from me. I climbed out of the pool and ran alongside it until I came to my favorite rock. I stood on top and waited until she was almost to the spot I was going to land, and jumped. The wind whipping past me chilled me with the water helping it, I shivered slightly. I landed with a big splash and I heard Anna scream. I swam to her and grinned at her. She looked at me after wiping the water out of her eyes with a glare that was so cutting, I’m surprised I dint start to bleed. I shook my head,
“When will you learn I will always help you, even when you don’t want it?” I asked her, shaking my head.
She rolled her eyes as she replied with, “When you learn I don’t always need nor want, the help you offer.” I rolled my eyes and returned to scrubbing her. She tried to pull away but stopped with a look from me. She sighed and moved to sit on a rock about three feet away. I followed her and carefully cleaned the cuts and sores on her face. She winced when I touched a cut but I kept cleaning until she shone. She shook her head and stood up on the rock. I looked at her, puzzled. She grinned at me then looked at the waterfall and I realized what she was going to do. I shook my head and glared at her but she ignored me. She started to run up the hill and laughed at my expression. She was really going to do it. I sighed and ran after her. She ran to the top of the waterfall and stood there to wait for me. I caught up to her and she said,
“Do you want to go first, or should I?” I looked at her and replied,
She nodded and reached out to grab my hand. I grasped hers and looked forwards. My stomach had butterflies in it, even when I was younger we had never tried this. She grinned and jumped off the edge of the waterfall with a blood-curdling scream of exhilaration. I grinned as the wind whipped past us. I felt her shivering and looked down. The ground was coming up faster than I liked. My stomach was doing little flips that felt like I was about to upchuck my lunch. The water from the falls splashed us as we fell. We plunged into the water with a gasp. It was colder the closer to the falls than I thought it would be. We fell back under the water and fell and fell until my ears started to pop from the pressure. We swam upward and burst above the water. We gulped in the icy air. I looked over at her with a grin. She looked at me, and I noticed she looked slightly nauseated. I can’t imagine what my face looked like. Bad enough to make her laugh. She tried to hide her blushing face in her arm, but I could still see a bit of crimson on the edge of her face. I laughed and pulled her to my chest. She shivered and I leaned down to whisper in her ear,
“I think it’s time to go home, don’t you?” she looked up at me and nodded vigorously. I chuckled and started towards the edge of the pool, dragging her along, still pressed up against my chest. When we got out I looked down at her. She looked so small. I leaned down and caught her by surprise. As I pressed my lips against hers, she was uncertain and resisted a little, and then she returned the kiss ferociously. I chuckled against her lips and pressed her closer to my chest, as close as I possibly could. She wrapped her arms around my neck and I lost all thought. We stumbled over to the nearest rock and stopped. I looked into her hungry eyes and whispered, “Let’s go home.” In a husky voice.
She nodded and we ran faster than we ever have before. We walked into the tent and we had barely gotten to the bed when she pressed her lips against mine. I laid her down on the bed and we understood each other more deeply than ever before.
The following week I woke up to Anna’s soft snoring beside me. I smiled against her soft hair. She stirred but stayed asleep. I rolled over onto my back and stared at the ceiling of my tent. It was light. Must be around noon. I rolled back over to face Anna and gently woke her. She groaned but sat up. I smiled and kissed her bare shoulders, one at a time. She shivered and curled up against my chest. She was cold. I gasped as she pushed her cold hands onto my warm chest. I looked down at her, puzzled and asked,
“How can you be so cold after that?” She shook her head and blushed,
“How am I supposed to know? I just am.”
I rolled my eyes and stretched. I heard her gasp as I stood to get dressed. I looked over and saw her covering her eyes and blushing redder than a tomato. I grinned and pulled some shorts on. I walked back to the bed and pulled her hand from her eyes. She had her eyes closed and I said softly,
“I’m dressed now, you can open your eyes.” she peeked one eye open and sighed with relief. I sighed and chuckled. She glared at me. “What is it with you and not giving me any warning?” she asked me, almost angrily.
I shrugged, and said, “It’s not like you haven’t seen all I have to offer.” With an amused tone. I turned away to give her some privacy while she got dressed. I turned around in time to see her pull a yellow shirt over her head. She was facing away from me to my disappointment. She turned around, “Thinking you were going to see something important again huh?” she asked me with a smirk.
I sighed, “Not thinking, hoping, wishing, wanting.” I replied in a wistful voice.
She rolled her eyes and turned around, away from me with a snort. I grinned and went behind her and wrapped my long arms around her waist and rested my chin on her shoulder. She sighed and leaned back into my chest. I kissed her neck and she blushed again. “You blush a lot, you know that?” I said absently.
She looked up at me, surprised. “I do not! I...I... I just get cold easily, and my cheeks get red!” She scrambled for an excuse. I shook my head,
“You can deny it all you want but it’s not going to change anything.” I whispered in her ear, making her shiver again.
She pushed me away and turned to the bed so she could gather her clothes up and go to the stream and wash them with the rest of the women. I sighed again. “When are you going to learn that you don’t have to wash your clothes at the same time as everyone else?” I asked her for the thousandth time.
She didn’t bother turning to face me anymore. “When you realize I like helping the other women.”
I shook my head, “I will never understand you women.”
She turned to me and raised a brow, she had mastered that a while ago from watching me. She opened her mouth to reply but I cut her off, “I know, I know, we never understand you but you will never understand us either.”
With a bored expression. She laughed but it sounded uneasy, and nodded, “Very good, you’re actually learning something.”
I snorted and turned away. She hesitated but then reached out and grabbed my hand and squeezed it as she slowly whispered, “I know now Faelyn.”
I slowly looked up, wary, and saw tears in her eyes. I grabbed her and pulled her against me as the tears started to flow. She sobbed on my shoulder and we stood like that for a long time. Me holding and crooning to her like a wounded animal, and her crying on my shoulder. She finally looked up at me and stopped crying. I looked down at her tear streaked face. She pressed her forehead against my chest and took deep, shuddering breaths. As she stopped I took her chin in my hand and made her look at me. She looked away and I shook her slightly.
“Why?” I asked, knowing she would understand. Why now, why hold it, why wait, why be afraid? She took a breath and looked up at me.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She said defiantly.
I shook my head and said “You know exactly what I mean and you know it.” She tried to pull away from me but I wouldn’t let her budge an inch.
“Why?” I repeated. She turned up her nose, crossed her arms and said nothing. I snarled and shoved her away from me and stormed out of the tent. I could hear her softly sobbing and had an urge to go back in the tent and comfort her, but I resisted it. I walked out into the forest and ran. I reached the spot where I found her for the first time. I sat on the stump that I had sat on when she woke up and looked around at the clearing, remembering. I remembered how she had been so brave to confront a stranger so... valiantly. I chuckled without thinking. I forced myself to stop laughing but I couldn’t. She meant too much to me to find out this way. Anger flared up inside me. How did she find out? She shouldn’t have found out yet. I stood up and paced, crushing the sticks and leaves beneath my feet. I hissed as I stepped on a thorn and hopped on one foot until the pain subsided. I growled under my breath as I started to pace again, careful with my footing. I stopped as I heard a stick snap behind me, instantly going on alert. Anna walked out of the trees and I relaxed, but stayed tense.
“What do you want?” I snarled at her, careful to not look in her eyes as I said it. She flinched away then straightened up and looked anywhere but at me.
“I need to know where Aptura is.” She said slowly. I spun around and managed to snarl out, “Why? Are you going to go to him now that you know the truth about me? Is that how it works?”
She looked up at me, eyes wide and I realized that she looked scared of me; good. “No! No! Why would I do that to you? I still love…” she trailed off as whispered the last word. I nodded, my face softening, knowing what she meant and she took a deep breath of relief.
“I just want to talk to him is all, because I think only he would know and still, help me.”
I looked at her and tears were streaming down her face. I walked to her and wrapped my arms around her. She pushed against my chest, but I held her until she stopped. I looked down at her. ”What do you need, I want to help you I really do, but I can’t if you won’t tell me.”
She looked down and I pulled her back up to look me in the eye. She looked away again and I sighed.
“What is it darling?” it sounded so natural in my mouth but she didn’t look up as she said,
“I’ll tell you after I talk to Aptura. Nothing more, do you understand?”
I snarled, “No, I certainly do not understand.”
She shook her head, “You can try and scare me all you want but it won’t work on me and it wont help our-”
She stopped and looked down. I stared at her dazed, hoping she didn’t mean what I think it meant, “Our?”
She shook her head and whispered, “I’m so sorry but I need to talk to him.” She pulled out of my loosened grip and walked away without looking back, but I could see silent sobs wracking her body. I sat down where I was and stared ahead. Shocked. I rested my head on my knees as I pulled them up to my chest, and wept. I wept for my betrayal, for my beautiful Anna, for my lies, for anything but myself. I wept for the cruel way of life, the cruel way that I was the next in line for the head of the Pride and my position, the way life used us as pawns in its sick and twisted game, of the way she looked when she told me the truth is known. I wept. And she filled my mind as I wept for eighteen years of betrayal to all of those who trusted me and I hurt them without a single thought. This was different, more different than a house cat is to a lion. I snorted what a fitting example. The little, scared house cat, hunted by the big, ferocious lion. I remembered once something my mother once said to my father before she died. ‘The lion felt in love with the lamb’.
I stood, starting to cramp up and walked, still weeping silently. I didn’t care where, or how far. I couldn’t get her and her ‘our’ out of my head. I paced again, thinking. What did she mean by ‘our’? I couldn’t get it out of my head. I paced until dark and sighed. I need to get back home.
When I got there I was surprised to see Anna sitting on the bed half asleep. I sat down on my chair made of branches and vines and watched her. She stirred as I tiptoed up to her and pulled the covers onto her, up to her shoulders. I walked out of the tent with purposeful strides to my father’s tent. I didn’t bother to stop outside and wait, I walked right in. He didn’t look up from the maps he was looking at on his table. “I know why you are here and no I won’t tell you what she asked of me. Suvate.” He said using his favorite word to signal he was done talking. Well I wasn’t.
“You will tell me or I will ring it out of the fats lip you will have when I am done with you.” I snarled at him through clenched teeth. He looked up this time.
“You will talk to me with respect, that girl” he spat the words now. “has gotten to your head.”
“That girl is the only one who has been around me long enough to be able to get in my head.” I spat back. “or taken the time to get to know me. Unlike some people.” I looked down and whispered,
“I think I really do love her. For the first time in my life I have someone who loves me back, truly loves me even after finding out what I’ve done to them.”
He looked up at me sharply, “Don’t say that. It is not true, no matter what you say it’s not true.” He grinned without humor. More of a grimace, “And if it is, well we have plenty of men who would fancy a new wife.”
I growled at him and he looked on calmly. “Don’t. Even. Try. It. I will kill you I swear it. I will leave your body to the crows. A fitting way to die, don’t you think? A scavenger eaten by scavengers.” I barely had time to finish saying ‘scavengers’ when he lunged at me with a snarl. I dodged out of the way knowing had to either defend myself or he would kill me. Son or not. He roared and lunged at me again. I dodged his wildly thrown blows as easily as I would push a branch out of my way. He wasn’t even trying.
“See father you can’t even fight your own son!” I yelled at him. He stopped and a look of peace came over his face. I braced myself; he could be just tricking me. He all of a sudden fell backwards and I ran to his side. He was asleep. I looked at him carefully and saw something sticking out of his neck. I pulled it out and looked at it. It was a sleeping dart. We didn’t have many of these around. I looked around for the one who shot it. I saw a flicker of a shadow at the door of the tent. I darted after it. I burst out of the tent and looked around. I saw the shadow heading in the direction of my tent. “Anna! No!” I yelled.
The figure paused but kept running. It was faster than me. I studied it and it had a familiar feline look to it. It looked a lot like... like… Anna. I rushed after the figure as it raced to my tent. It disappeared inside and I heard Anna scream. I burst into the tent to see Anna with a knife to her neck. She whimpered and I took a step towards the hooded figure holding her from behind. The figure stepped back and in a woman’s voice said,
“Don’t take another step or you will lose her. I may be small but I’m a lot better at fighting than you could ever hope to be. I’m Special by the way, who are you?”
I shook my head, “Please don’t hurt her, whoever you are.” I could feel tears running down my face.
“I asked you your name and I told you, I’m Special. And I don’t want to hurt her, I want her to come home with me.” She said and then she threw back her hood. I gasped, she looked exactly like Anna. She had the same white-blonde hair, her eyes were the same color, she was pale and she looked like Anna exactly except for her height. She was shorter than her by about two or more inches. She was the perfect replica of Anna. “My name is Faelyn.” Anna whimpered again and the person leaned down to her ear and whispered something in her ear. Anna froze with a shocked look on her face.
“What did you do to her? What’s wrong with her?” I yelled. Anna looked at me and shook her head slightly. I looked at her look-alike and asked, “Why do you want her? Can I come? I can’t leave her alone. Please let me come.” I looked at her with pleading eyes. She seemed to consider it. Finally she sighed. “Fine”
I sighed with relief and asked her slowly, “Can you let her go now? I don’t think she would want to have a knife at her throat the entire trip.” The person thought about it for less time than she had before. She lifted the knife away and sheathed it in a sheath at her side in one fluid motion. Anna ran to me and I plucked her up off the ground and squeezed her until she was panting for breath. “Let me go! You’re going to squeeze my eyeballs out of my head!”
I laughed and loosened my grip but kept her in my arms. The woman had thrown her hood back up and had wasted no time. She brushed past us and as she stepped out of the tent I caught a faint whiff of horses. They were not common here and I was intrigued. I waited until she had left the tent to lean down and press my lips to Anna’s in a quick ‘I’m right here’ kiss. She had her eyes closed when we broke apart but she nodded. I pulled her out of the tent and we walked after the hooded woman. She walked fast and we had to jog to keep up. We walked for about an hour we tried to pay attention to our surroundings but it was dark and we had never been to this part of the forest so we mostly watched out feet. After about half an hour of hiking through the thick under growth I was too tired to go on. Me and Anna flopped onto a convenient flat rock and held each other to keep warm. The woman on the other hand didn’t have such hang ups. She stood there and paced while she waited for us to catch our breath. Once we had she said “No more wasting time. We need to keep moving.” And started walking again. We both groaned but got up. We walked for a while then heard a weird whickering noise. It sounded like an animal. Anna groaned and I looked down at her. The woman ignored her. “Great, horses. I never did like riding horses. They stink.”
I looked at her and shook my head. “I’ve never seen horses before; don’t ruin it for me, please.”
She rolled her eyes and snorted, “Just wait.”
I sighed and we ran to catch up to the woman. We walked into a clearing. Everyone looked up at the same time. We stood behind the woman and waited for them to kill us. They all started to cheer. They surrounded us as we clutched each other. They started to drag us apart. I struck out and heard a grunt as my fist made impact.
“What are you doing? Help us! Please!” I yelled to the woman who was standing calmly on the outside of the crowd. I felt a hand snake its way around my waist. I looked down to see Anna looking up at me with big, frightened eyes. I held her tighter. They dragged us apart but I wasn’t going down without a fight. I whipped around and grabbed a hand-full of hair and yanked the person to me and held her by her throat.
“Leave us alone or she gets it!” I roared, struggling to be heard over the cheers and whoops of the crowd. The crowd fell silent in a second. One man came up to me with his hands spread.
“Wa tarna suh con pora seena cara.” He said. I cocked my head in confusion. He also looked puzzled. He leaned forwards a little causing me to step back, pulling the woman with me, she gurgled so I loosened my grip a fraction.
“Sen cara raif gara?” he cocked his head too. I shook my head and he sighed and turned to the woman who brought here.
“Hin con wa hap shum, dife wa no tok pora dem?” the woman also sighed and replied with a quick and curt answer of, “Bef det lanage.”
The man raised a brow, “Whit dis don?”
The woman looked down as she said it almost sheepishly, “Con deif.”
The man sucked in a breath and closed his eyes briefly. He opened them again and nodded. He cleared his throat and said with a heavy accent, “We are not going to hurt you; we just want to help you both.”
I didn’t say anything, I just snarled, darting a look to my right as Anna mumbled something under her breath. The man beckoned for me to let the woman go, I held her tighter and she moaned. I didn’t relax my grip this time and she started to pull at my hands.
“Leave me and Anna alone or you will regret it.” I said quietly, and some people shrank back from my stare. The man nodded at the crowd and said something in that weird language, and it melted away just as fast as it had come. I snarled and pushed the woman away from me with disgust. I grabbed Anna and started back the way we had come. I felt a hand on my shoulder and I stopped.
“Unless you wish to lose that hand, I suggest you let me go.” I said with quiet menace. The hand didn’t move and I whipped around.
“Keep your hands off of me lady.” I growled. She smiled, “Hmm, kitty’s got attitude. We could fix that.” I snarled again and her tight smile got bigger. I stopped growling and made my face blank. She laughed at that, “You can’t hide anything from me, boy. I can still see it, the want to leave. The need to protect your mate,” She paused and sniffed. “And your unborn child as well.”
I looked down at Anna with shock. She shook her head and the woman said, “Oh, she hasn’t told you yet has she? Ooh, sorry darling but if the smell is that strong, then he should be able to smell it by now too.”
I sniffed without thinking and she stiffened. I smelled something alien mixed with her scent; it smelled like... a child, mixed with mine and a small amount of Anna’s scent. I knew because my mother had smelled like that when she was pregnant with Jared.
“Why haven’t you told me?” I whispered. She shook her head, the tears starting to spill. “I was afraid you wouldn’t want us. I didn’t want to tell you until I knew for sure and I wasn’t sure until yesterday and I wasn’t thinking straight yesterday and and.”
I put my finger against her lips and said, “Shh its ok I understand, but why didn’t you go to someone?”
She looked up at me with watery eyes, “But I did, remember? I asked you where Aptura is but I wouldn’t tell you because I wanted to ask him before I told you!”
I laughed as tears of joy started down my face and I put my arms around her and held her tight to my chest. She tucked her head underneath my chin and I held her as tight as possible without breaking her. I felt something wet on my chest and looked down, she was sobbing, and it wasn’t with joy. I ducked my head down to her level and looked in her eyes.
“What’s wrong? Aren’t you happy?” I asked her quietly.
She looked up at me with red rimmed eyes, “I’m scared.” She whispered before burying her head in my chest again. “I’ve never had a child before and I don’t know what to do Faelyn. What if I can’t do it? What if…” she trailed off. I forced her to look me in the eyes again and I told her firmly,
“You have me remember? I have been around so many children and I know the basics. We will learn more as we go, remember this, We Can Do It. Together.” she laid her head on my chest and sobbed. In a small voice she said to me without looking up from my chest, “I don’t think I can do it Faelyn.” She looked up at me and her eyes were blank. “Anna? Anna! What’s wrong?” I shook her a little by the shoulders. She slumped to the ground and shuddered as I fell to my knees beside her. I felt tears slide down my face as she screamed and I recognized what was happening. She was Changing. I sat back on my heels to wait it out. Unable to stop the tears rolling down my face I swiped at them angrily. I should be happy for her. Not crying, but I felt as if her pain was my own and it hurt. Almost as bad as if someone had stabbed me through with a steel bar. Oh no! I had forgotten to tell Anna about steel! It could kill us, it weakened us and then we were almost as slow as a human, even slower sometimes. I looked down at Anna as I heard her groan. It was almost over.
And I wanted to die.
It was my fault that she was like this; it was my fault that she had to go through the pain of Changing. It wasn’t her fault that she had this, this, curse put on her at birth. I hated that I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I hated myself for being so weak. But most of all, it was my fault that we were both the most wanted Shifters around. I looked away from her grimacing face and thought back to when she thought she was just a normal human, happy, bubbly, red cheeks, big smile. I remembered her warm laugh, one that I hadn’t heard in a while now, I remembered that now. I realized that I wanted to hear it again. I heard a snarl and looked back down at Anna, but it wasn’t Anna who had snarled. It was Special. She had Changed when Anna had started and she was now snarling at me. I felt surprise flit across my face then I looked down and realized why. I was changing as well, well I had started to and then all of a sudden the Change had reversed itself halfway. I was sitting there with a tail and claws coming out of my fingertips. If I hadn’t been so scared I probably would have laughed. I bet I looked quite ridiculous at this point. I looked around as I heard more snarls until it seemed as if the whole clearing full of people had Changed. And indeed they had. I looked around at all the different types of cats. Tigers, golden lions and many others. But as I studied them, I realized that none of them were pure white like Anna, and none were leopards, like me. I shuddered, not of my own accord and my body started to finish the change. I fell onto my side panting once the Change had finished and looked around me. I stood up and looked around me. I realized at once that they were all bowing to me as I turned in a circle. “My King.” I heard a mental shout. I looked down at Anna and she was also bowing to me.
“Rise.” I whispered to them all and rise they did. They all looked at me as I said, “What is this ‘king’ business?” I’m nobody’s king and I never have been. You will not call me King Anna and I don’t want to hear any of you say it again.”
I watched as everyone bowed their heads, “Stop bowing already would you?!” I listened to my voice as it rang around the clearing. It had a double-toned sound to it. Everyone stayed down on their sides, pushing their faces into the dirt. I snarled angrily and stalked away. I heard someone behind me and I recognized the soft tread of Anna’s footsteps. I slowed down so that she could walk beside me. She was quite as we walked and as we reached the edge of the forest she nudged my shoulder. I slowed and she sat on her haunches and looked at me. “What?” I said after about a minute of sitting there.
“Why didn’t you tell me? I would have found out anyways but still, it would be better to hear it from you.” I looked up sharply and said, “What do you mean ‘why didn’t I tell you?’ what did I not tell you?”
She snarled and got up and advanced on me. I jumped up and backed away from her large canines and backed away slowly as she walked after me. “Don’t lie to me! You have lied to me already and I’m tired of it! You told me that you loved me but you lied!” I cut her off there.
“I have never lied to you! When I say I love you, it’s not to make conversation or to say it just so you’ll believe me! I say it to remind you that you are the most important thing that has ever happened to me! I tell you I love you, because I want to be able to say the truth for once in my life, and I can’t stand lying to you! I have only lied to you when it was to protect you!” I stopped and started to advance on her she backed away slowly and the snarl left her face. She tripped over a branch and stopped letting me advance until we were nose to nose. I stopped as our noses touched and thought quietly,
“When have I ever lied to you?” While staring her in the eyes. She shook her head as my gaze became deeper. She snarled harshly,
“I don’t, I… DAMN YOU!!” She shook her head and stalked off back towards the campsite. I tried to Shift but my emotions were too jumbled so I just thought back as loudly as I could, “FINE!! BE LIKE THAT!!” and turned around and started running deeper into the unknown woods. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t do anything but run. How could she think that I lied to her? And what did she think I lied to her about? I skidded to a stop before I ran straight into the figure standing before me, leaving deep furrows in the dirt. It was not human I could smell that, but it was also not Shifter either. I sniffed in the direction of the thing standing there and I caught a whiff of decaying flesh and fresh blood. I stepped back quickly and snarled at the Vampyre. It laughed, and took a step towards me. I snarled even louder. It raised its hands in front of it in the sign of surrender. I held my ground. I shivered at the dry voice coming out of its mouth,
“Do you really want to go there little ball of fluff?” it stepped into the light, but it didn’t scream and burst into flames as the sun hit it. It merely stood there, it looked like a young male, around my age, but Vampyres could make themselves look like anything, their Glamour often did that for them. It slowly lowered its hands and relaxed its position. I didn’t. These things were faster than a Shifter by ten times. He laughed again and said in his, (at least I think it’s a ‘he’) dry husky voice, “Would you happen to know where a girl named Annabella Key might be? I have a bone to pick with her.”
I roared in fury and pounced. I never should have. He stood there as I advanced on him and the second before I reached him he darted out of sight and I heard the crunching of bone before I felt the pain. I screamed. My momentum kept me going for about a foot before my shattered leg buckled out from under me. I screamed again and tried to get up, fury blinding me, overriding the pain. I stood up, tears blurring my vision. I blinked several times and shook my head to clear my vision. I opened my eyes in time to see the Vampyre disappear. I froze, listening with all I had, straining my ears. I heard a soft swish of air to my left and spun that way in time to see a dark shape blur and disappear. I heard its dry laugh and tried not to shudder as it seemed to echo all around me. I tried to sit but my leg wouldn’t do as I commanded it to so I just stood there and closed my eyes, breathing deeply. I had heard legends about how Vampyres could make you see things. I cleared my mind as best I could then I heard another dry laugh. I couldn’t help it, I opened my eyes. There it stood. I snarled, then thought at it,
“What do you want from Anna?” I knew it could hear me.
“Well you could stop referring to me as an ‘it’ for one and I want to talk to the last Pure One there is. Oh by the way, the names Eric. And I’m not what you think. I’m not some old, decaying vamp who wants nothing but blood. I was just changed a week ago. I was told that if I found the Pure Ones, they could lift my curse. I just want help.” His face stayed the same, showing nothing but his eyes glazed over with pain.
I tried to take a step back but my leg buckled underneath me. He pointed at it. “Don’t worry it’s not as bad as you think, just a clean break right about here.” He pointed to right below his own knee. I tried to keep the snarl off of my face but I couldn’t. Somebody walked out of the shadows behind Eric and I tried not to give away Anna’s position while telling her with my eyes to run. She ignored me as usual. Just as she stepped out of the trees, Eric said in a loud voice, without turning around, “Well, well, this is no way to treat your own brother is it Anna? Planning to kill me from behind instead of looking me in the eyes as you do it.” He turned around to look at a frozen Anna, She Shifted. Of all the things she could have done, she Shifted in front of a Vampyre! I almost couldn’t believe it. She took a step closer to Eric. “Eric? Is that really you?” She didn’t wait for an answer and just jumped into his open arms. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her. And she let him! I snarled and lurched towards them. Anna looked over his shoulder in time to see me moving. “Oh my god! Faelyn, what happened to you?!” She untangled herself from his arms and ran towards me. She reached me and wrapped her arms around my neck. Her hands fluttered down my body, afraid to touch me. Her hand touched my leg and I hissed in pain. She quickly removed her hand before turning to glare at Eric. “Did you do this?”
I huffed, obviously. She glared at him until he took a step back raising his hands. “Whoa, don’t be mad at me! Be mad at your boyfriend here, he attacked me first, self defense.”
She shook her head and started to rise and stalk towards him. He backed away slowly, I wondered why. He could easily beat her if she attacked him, but I doubted he would hurt her. I tried to Shift but as I did I let out a snarl of pain, I’d have to stay in cat form until my leg healed.
It might take about three days, that’s one good thing about being a Shifter; you heal about four times faster than a human. At hearing my painful snarl Anna stopped stalking the Vampyre and turned towards me, her expression softening instantly. I looked away as she approached me and kneeled down beside me, wrapping her long white arms around my neck and burying her face in the scruff of my neck. Without lifting her head she said, her voice muffled from my thick scruff,
“If I ever, find out you two were fighting again, wild grizzles will look tame next to what you will face when you see me. And if I ever find out you have hurt him again Eric, well let’s just say my vengeance will unfold in rapid time. And Faelyn,” she lifted her head and looked me in the eyes, “Leave my brother alone please? No one’s allowed to beat him up but me.” Her lips lifted at the corners slightly. I opened my mouth before I remembered I couldn’t talk to I just bobbed my head in a sort of nod. She stood and put her hands on her hips, looked at us both and Shifted. Just like that, no writhing in pain for a few minutes. Just one second she was standing there and then a ghostly image of a white cat overlapped her own, and then she was on all fours staring at me. She nodded at my leg and asked, “Can you walk?”
I tried to stand but my leg buckled, I shook my head. I heard a sigh then all of a sudden I was swinging through the air. I yelped in surprise. I swung my head around wildly, bracing myself for the hard ground. But it never came. I slowly peeked open one eye and looked around. Eric had picked me up and swung me over his shoulder and had started to walk back towards camp. I struggled wildly, lashing out with teeth and claws but he simply grabbed my muzzle and made me look him in the eyes.
“Stop trying to kill me would you? I’m just taking you back to your camp.” I tried to bite his face but he had his hand clamped around my muzzle and of course, he was stronger than me. By a lot apparently. He shook my head hard enough to daze me slightly. “Knock it off or I’ll leave you here. I’m the only one here strong enough to carry you all the way,” he ignored Anna’s whine of protest and went on. “I may be a Vamp but I don’t want to be a cold hearted asshole as well you know.”
I slumped against him making myself hard to hold and he sighed, frustrated. I felt his hands loosening from around me and as they got loose enough as to where he could drop me if I struggled. And I did exactly that. I thrashed from side to side, as hard as I could and he struggled to keep me in his grip but his hands slipped, I was thankful that he was still young, an older Vampyre would not have dropped me. No matter how much I struggled, I would not have hit the ground. But still expecting it, it hurt when I hit the ground. I grumbled as I stood up on my three legs, not expecting it when Eric stuck his face in mine yelling at the top of his lungs.
“Why did you do that? I was trying to help; it’s not like I would have run off with you and sucked on your friggan neck!!! I should though for the way you’re returning my help! Stupid friggan fluff ball!” he snarled and then went into a crouch, a hunting crouch. I crouched as well,
“Bring it on Bloodsucker!” I thought at him. He snarled and braced his body to leap but something white, big, and snarling ran into his side and barreled him across the field. Anna and the Vampyre rolled across the dusty field, a snarling mess. I tried to run after them but all I could do was hobble. I watched as they slammed against a tree and Anna rolled on top and braced her paw on his neck, blocking off his air, not that he cared, Vampyre’s didn’t need air. She pushed down and braced her other paw on his arm while sitting on his legs. He was in a hunting frenzy so he still thrashed even though I could tell he was fighting it. She pushed down harder and then she bit him. I didn’t see any blood but I could tell she sank her large canines into his shoulder. It was almost as if I could hear teeth scraping against bone. He screamed and thrashed harder. Letting the frenzy take over. He flung her off of him and she sailed through the air. I gaped in horror as she slammed against a tree on the far side of the clearing and slid down the trunk to land in a jumbled heap at the foot of the giant Redwood. She didn’t stand, I stood up and tried to run over to her but I landed in a pile. So I jumped up and then started painfully towards her. I had never felt this kind of fear, and I had always prided myself on that fact, but right now I felt that fear that froze a mans blood, stops everything and made a man want to scream and rip his hair out. The kind that made a man want to fall to his knees and beg for mercy. I finally reached Anna and lightly nudged her back. She didn’t move. I watched her sides for a second but I didn’t see an even rise and fall of her side. I howled and turned around to a soft tread of footsteps. I snarled at Eric and didn’t even think about what I was doing. I charged him and knocked him to the ground, I was going for his throat when I realized he had his eyes shut and was actually letting me, wanting me, to kill him. He had lifted his chin and bared his neck. I stopped.
“You don’t deserve my mercy, you deserve to live with what you have done.” And I walked away. I walked back to Anna and sat there. I stared down at her still form. I whined and nudged her again, almost willing her to wake up. “Wake up Anna, Wake up. Please, you can’t leave me alone, please just wake up. For me, we all need you, I need you. Please, just please, wake up.”
I heard a sniffing noise but I ignored it. I laid down and rested my chin along Anna’s back. She was still warm, it hurt. I stayed there, my head on her body and Eric behind me, crying for what he had done. I blinked and felt something wet slide down my face. I blinked again, more tears came. I cried myself to sleep.
They found us like that. Special had sent out a search party and they found us about two miles from the river. Or should I say, she found us. My head still on Anna’s prone body. I felt a hand on the top of my hand, in between my ears. I flicked my ear in annoyance and the hand softly patted me. Like I was some house cat. I lifted my head and peered at the person who was there. It looked like a young girl. About thirteen years of age. I looked at her, my gaze blank. I let my eyes wander down her body and then back up. I recognized her from somewhere, but I just couldn’t remember from where. I searched her face, and thought, she looks kind of like my mom. I couldn’t help it, I don’t know why that was the first thing that came to mind. I preferred not to think of her in her last moments, sweating, bloody hands reaching towards me and beckoning me closer. The last words she said to me, but my mind flashed back to the present as the girl said something. I cocked my head to show my confusion before setting my head back on Anna’s soft leg. The girl repeated her earlier sentence.
“Are you Faelyn?” she asked again.
I shook my head with a small snort.
“Well I don’t believe you, I think you are and you just don’t want me bothering you. So now I have to run all the way back to camp and tell Jay.”
I lifted my head and looked at her again. She straightened up and put her hands on her hips and glared down at me. I just stared back at her; she narrowed her eyes before walking away with an exaggerated sweep of her hands, saying in an equally exaggerated voice,
“Alright, ill go get him but he won’t be happy. He is soooo scary when he is angry, trust me, he’s my dad.” And rolled her eyes. I huffed and laid my head back down on Anna’s body but I quickly lifted it as if it had burned me. Well, it was warm. But I had just felt her and she was still cold. I scrambled up as she took a deep breath all of a sudden. I took another step back as Eric scrambled up and rushed to her side.
“Anna? Oh my god Anna, you’re ok! I’m so sorry, I never meant for this to happen oh Anna-”
She cut him off with a yelp of pain as she tried to sit up, I ran to her and roughly shoved Eric away with my head and looked over her body franticly. Anna. My Anna was ok. I felt as if I could cry, but I can’t. I want to. Even as she stands, wobbly, I know that something’s wrong, she shouldn’t be here. But I am glad she is. I lean against her and support her weight and she leaned back onto me and stood there panting. I tried to talk to her, “Anna, are you ok?”
But I felt the words bounce off of a wall. She was hiding her feelings and thoughts from me. I nudged her and she looked over at me, but not really, she avoided my eyes. I stopped suddenly and she jerked to a stop as well with a hiss of pain.
“Anna let me in, now!” And pushed against her wall. Hard. It burst and I gasped at the sudden pain that hit me.
“You idiot! I tried to stop this! Oh my god Faelyn, I’m so sorry but I tried to stop you!” she yelled as I stumbled away from her and hit the ground, this was worse than Shifting. I writhed there and I could feel her putting the wall back up but she couldn’t, I was already inside. She realized this at the same time that I did and franticly started to push me away. I tried to help but I couldn’t even think, that’s how much pain I was in. I tried to do what I did when I Shifted but I couldn’t. I finally let my breath out after what seemed like ages as the wall went back up. I wait until my heart picks back up and then I try to stand. I finally make it and wobble for a bit on three legs. She stands back and hangs her head. I started toward her and she looked up at me for a fleeting second before looking away again. I nudged her and then nodded in the direction that we needed to go. She bobbed her head and started to lean against me again. We hobbled our way back to our temporary home. We broke from the trees and found a most unusual sight. Special was laughing. With a man. A man I knew. Keilor. I watched as Anna lifted her head hearing the laughter and then watched with surprised eyes as she backed away. Almost falling over to get back into the trees. I looked back over to where they stood and saw Keilor’s bright blue eyes following her movements with more interest than I liked. I gave him a hard glare then turned to follow Anna. I’m not even sure he saw it. As I walked back into the trees I saw Anna on her stomach staring into space. I sat on my haunches and stared down at her while she stared at nothing. Finally I couldn’t handle doing nothing and flicked her nose with my tail. She jumped and looked up at me. I cocked my head. She Shifted and sat down, legs crossed as she plopped her head down into her hands.
“That’s him.” She mumbled. “That is the guy that I bumped into on my first day. He gave me a bad feeling then and he’s giving me a bad feeling now. I don’t understand it.”
I didn’t understand it either but if he was then she needed to stay away from him. I whined and she looked up into my worried eyes. She reached a hand out and stroked my cheek, then reached up to tug on my ear smiling weakly. “I know, we need to go out there anyways and face him. Or avoid him.” She said as an afterthought, her head snapping up. I nodded my head vigorously and she laughed. She took a deep breath and stood up. She took a step towards camp and hid behind a tree all of a sudden with a gasp.
“He’s heading this way! Hurry we need to hide!”
I just looked at her. She ran her hands through her hair, mussing it even further. “Ok, I know what I said about going out there but this is different, he’s, I don’t know he’s…”
“He’s what?” a deep voice cut her off before her voice could get any higher pitched. She whirled with a gasp. Keilor stood there with his tanned arms across his chest, leaning against a tree. He was the perfect picture of innocents but I knew better.
“Uh, nothing. Are you from this, uh, Pride?” she asked, buying time. Distracting him. He shook his head and said with a smirk.
“Nope, you know that Anna. You ran into me on your first day remember?” He continued without giving her a chance to answer. “Of course you do, nobody forgets me.”
The way he said her name and looked at her made me nervous. I stepped in between the two of them and faced him. He laughed and shook his head, his smirk becoming more pronounced.
“So, um, what are you doing here then? Running an errand? You know they have some of the coolest things here? They have these things called, what was it? Oh yea, they’re called Spinsters. They’re so cool you should go try them out. Over there. On the back side of camp. That way.”
He held up a hand and said, “I’ve tried one, they don’t hold much interest for me. And by the way, I can take a subtle hint.” He walked around me until he was face to face with her. “I just don’t want to listen right now.”
He dropped his voice until it was rumbling. I grasped his shirt between my teeth and pulled him back until he shook me off. “Oi! Watch it! This is Jara leather! What’s your problem Fae? I was just joking.”
I rolled my eyes and walked back over to Anna and started pushing her towards camp. She got the hint and started walking on her own. I looked over my shoulder at Keilor. He was watching our progress with hard eyes. He caught my eyes and curled his lips, crossing his arms and leaning on a tree. I faced away but I could feel his eyes on us. We broke the tree line and walked into the clearing. Anna looked down at me and asked,
“Why don’t you Shift back?” I turned to look at my leg; I could kind of put it on the ground but not with much pressure. She nodded and turned away. We reached the guest tent we were staying in and she held the flap open for me. I squinted my eyes and pulled my ears back as I caught sight of the bed on the floor. It was like a giant cushion for a cat. A house cat. I growled and turned to look at Anna. She was pressing her lips together trying to hold back laughter. I hissed at the bed on the floor and she lost it. She had to sit down on the bed and by the time she was finished her face was tear streaked and she was clutching her sides. I walk over to the bed and purposely jump on it and lay down.
“Hey now, you’re gonna break the bed if you keep jumping on it like that.” She scolded lightly then gasped as she gripped her stomach. She barely made it outside before emptying her stomach. After she finished she stood and wiped her mouth panting.
“I’m ok, we’re ok.” She mumbled patting her stomach. I hadn’t noticed it before but there was a small but defined bump between her hips. Just enough to push her shirt out slightly. I nudged her and she turned towards me smiling weakly. “I’m ok, we’re fine.”
I flattened my ears to my head and squinted at her. She laughed and wiped her mouth again, getting the rest. I paced in a circle around her until she finished panting and started to head back into the tent, careful of her every move. I could tell she was trying to hide her pain from me. I wasn’t blind and I know she was hoping I wasn’t watching that hard. I walked over to her sitting on the bed and laid my head in her lap and started to purr, I knew she found that comforting. She smiled and started to stroke my head between my ears. I closed my eyes and rubbed my tail on her knee. She laid on her back I jumped lightly up next to her. I lay down and she laid her small head on my huge paw and wrapped her skinny arms around my neck and soon fell asleep. It wasn’t long after that I fell asleep also.
Opening my eyes I looked around, finding myself in a bright clearing, not unlike the one I had found Anna in. Or I was told, I would find Anna in. I sat up and looked around then stood. Without thinking I stood on my injured leg and as I slowly realized that there was no pain, I noticed the edges of my vision were blurry. I snorted. Dreaming. Typical. I stood and started walking in the general direction of North. All of a sudden the world started spinning. I stood as still as possible as the sky went from bright blue to a dark navy blue. Dotting the sky were the stars. I looked around and quickly spotted the bright blue eyes in the bushes. They blinked and then disappeared into the tall bushes, rustling them. I took a hesitant step towards the small grove of trees and short bushes. All of a sudden Anna walked out, swishing her tail, another rustle, a smaller version of Anna came wobbling out of the bracken. Wet and dripping the cub ran towards me with stumbling steps of a newborn but without my permission my body simply just turned away from our child and walked away. Looking back all I could see was blood and Anna standing over our baby with tears in her eyes. Shaking his shoulder she tried to rouse him but he didn’t look up. Simply laid there without replying. She looked up at me and hissed “How could you do this to our baby? Look at him, you brutal monster!! You did this!”
She advanced on me. The world blurred then stilled. Anna lay at my feet, bloodied and broken, bleeding her life blood into the Earth. I tried to move, to do something but my body wouldn’t obey me. My mind screamed in pain at what I had done. Reaching up to wipe an itch on my nose I looked at my paw, covered in both my baby’s and my lovers blood. Looking down at my body I finally realized I could move and my body would move with me. Dropping to my stomach I fainted at the sight of the blood covering both me and the ground beneath me.
Gasping I startled awake. Panting I quickly looked over at Anna. She was still fast asleep and she had wrapped her small body around mine in a very interesting way. Both her legs were pulled over me and her arms were around my neck. As if I were still human, if I was I would have wrapped her small body in mine. I wanted to be human again so bad. Schooching closer I tested out my leg. It was sore but usable. Well I guess I healed faster than normal today. Closing my eyes I concentrated on my body shifting from one form to another. Shivering I felt a small fire building at the small of my back. Slowly moving up my spine I shuddered. The pain was more because of my injury but I could pull through it. The fire decided it was going to build a bit more before finally explode into my brain. Stiffening I gripped my pillow and the sheets with new hands. Struggling not to cry out. Shaking I quickly tested myself out. No tail, no claws, ears on the side of my head. I was back. Shifting into the cat was always less painful. Testing out my hands and legs again I slowly wrapped my arms around Anna. She shifted and burrowed deeper into the warmth of my chest. I grinned against her hair and eventually I fell asleep, the girl of my dreams wrapped safely in my arms once again.
Waking I lay there, feeling the small, warm, body spooned to mine in perfect harmony. I felt her shift and turn around so that she was facing me. I opened my eyes, my sight bleary with sleep. Big blue eyes looked back at me, closer than I had thought. Our faces were an inch apart. Her eyes crossed as she focused on me. Before I could stop myself I closed that small distance between our lips. Closing my eyes I felt her lips, they were soft and willing. She slowly wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled my head closer. Our lips never left each others as we shifted so that she was on her back and I was above, holding my weigh up as not to crush her small form beneath me as she hungrily bit my lip and touched her tongue to my teeth gently. I licked her bottom lip that I had unintentionally bit and pulled on. She groaned as I pulled away to put my lips to her neck before running them up and down her jaw line. I lifted her body in order to wrap my arms around her and pull her to me. She didn’t resist in the slightest. Maybe that’s what turned me off. I don’t know. I had put her through so much pain and here she was, forgiving me because of a single kiss. I pulled away and she frowned. “What’s wrong?”
I shook my head and rolled to the side. I stared at the ceiling and she put a hand on my bare chest. I shivered. It was cold. Using her other hand she pulled my face to look at her. I smiled slightly and rested a finger on her pouting lips, dragging it down her lips, over her chin, and slowly down her neck until I rested my hand in the indent at the bottom of her neck. She was warm there. I heard a sound coming from her and looked up with a grin. Her eyes were closed and she was smiling. But the funny thing was, she was purring. Well almost, leaned away from her and doubled over with laughter. She frowned and opened one eye. “What? I can’t be so happy I purr?”
I couldn’t stop laughing to answer her so I just shook my head. She groaned and let her head fall back on the pillow. I was surprised when she started chuckling as well. I wiped my eyes and turned to her while holding myself up against the bedrail. She smiled at me and I smiled back at her and leaned over to press my lips lightly to her forehead. She closed her eyes briefly and grinned at me as I pulled away. I stood and gathered a pile of clothes that looked like they belonged to her and threw them on the bed. Standing I looked around and realized that they hadn’t left a change of clothes for me. I sighed and she giggled. I turned around to face her, still sitting on the bed. “I couldn’t help myself; they’re over there, under the chair.”
I looked and growled. They had given me a t-shirt which was fine but they also gave me parachute pants. With a head band. I reached in Anna’s bag and quickly found a razor knife. I set the pants on the chair and quickly sliced across the knees. Woops, no more parachute pants. I heard Anna giggle again and I threw the headband to her. She caught it and put it on, “Well, what do you think, can I pull off hippie?” giggled and flopped back on the bed. I tried to turn around and put the now-shorts on but that wasn’t a good idea, that I learned the hard way. Falling onto the bed I rammed my head into her shoulder as she caught me and I couldn’t help it, I started to laugh. She giggled along with me. I finally managed to pull the pants on, button them and then I flopped back onto the bed. She couldn’t stop giggling and it was very contagious.