She should return to the woods. She’d lived in this town for five full moons, longer than she usually stayed in one human place, but she had been comfortable. Another like her lived here and though she had not met with him he felt like family. It was more than she usually had and she had not wished to give it up.
But they knew. She did not think it was her that was caught, but it was a warning she could not ignore. If a ringian had not already been sent for one would be soon.
The full moon had been last night, and unlike months before many had hid in their homes from late afternoon, when the moon first appeared in the day-sky. As a born werewolf she could change shape whenever she wanted and was not even forced to by the moon, so she had not dared shift. She had wanted it, desperately, and felt dizzy and on edge all night, but she sat with the other urchins and homeless of the town in the meeting hall and tried not to bring attention to herself. They were told they had been brought to the hall for their own safety, but more likely it was to make sure they were human. She stole a cap to wear over her white hair and did not look up, hoping her amber eyes would seem hazel in the shadows. She had not slept at all.
Now it was dawn and she felt safe enough to leave. She would eat, hide things she could not take, and disappear. Once she was far enough in the forests she would shift and find a place to curl up and sleep. If she was lucky she would run into a pack that could take her in for a time, but she had been a lone wolf before.
She had caches all over the town and she went from one to another. Most had food, meat she had caught or stolen and then packed in snow, and some had clothes. One had a knife she had found in the woods. She ate the food and left the clothes- maybe some of the other urchins would find them and use them. She would not need them with her fur. The knife she wished she could take, it was a good quality, but would be useless with her teeth and claws.
Every moment she stayed was another moment she was in danger. Some of the shops were opening for the day, people were beginning to leave the safety of their homes, and all would be wary and on the lookout for a werewolf in their midst. She decided she had eaten enough and abandoned the last few caches, heading towards the woods. It would be best if she was not seen, even though she had ‘proven’ her humanity. It would be foolish to be seen going into the forests the day after a full moon.
Voices stopped her. She froze behind the thick trunk of a tree and listened. They were speaking to each other and it did not seem they were looking for her.
“Go!” a woman sobbed.
“Quick, son.” A man’s voice, gruff with emotion.
“But if I leave they will know!” The third voice was of a boy.
“If you stay you will die.” The man again.
The wind picked up and blew towards her, bringing her a wealth of information. The man and woman were married, and the boy was their son. He also had the scent of wolf and blood on him.
She peered around from her hiding spot. The boy had a hand wrapped in bloody bandage, and his clothes were torn and ragged. This was not the werewolf she had scented before, though, this werewolf seemed to have shifted for the first time last night, not even aware enough about what was happening to take his clothes off.
She began to walk to them slowly, but the boy turned to her as the wind changed direction again, and now gave him information about her. The parents looked at her too and the mother’s eyes widened in fear. The father moved towards her, as if he could silence her and protect his son. If she was a human girl who heard what was being spoken, and then told the town it could be death for all of them.
“She’s one too,” the boy said, figuring out what her scent meant, moving to stop his father.
“Was she the one—”
“No,” the boy said quickly. “It was a male, a man, that..” He moved his hurt arm. His father took a step back, but did not look away from her.
“I’m Inisaira,” she said, reaching them. “Aira. I was leaving after last night.”
“Ander,” the boy replied when his father said nothing. “I was too, I guess. I… changed last night.”
“We want him safe!” his mother said. “Please, help us. Take him far away!”
How could she turn him away? He was was taller than her by a few inches, older than her,but she had certainly been a werewolf longer. She had felt safe enough just knowing a werewolf was in the same town (even though she now thought horrible things about the wolf that had bitten a child). This could be the start of her own real pack.
She began to take her clothes off. The man turned away, but the mother and boy did not. She was still young enough that it was not unusual to be naked in the summer months. Of course this was winter.
“Hurry,” she urged Ander, throwing her shirt on to the ground. “We will run faster as wolves. Your parents want you safe, that is more than I’ve seen in some other places.”
Once they were both naked, the boy looking more uncomfortable than her, she nodded to him. Good, he was listening to her. “You were bit, but you can still turn into a wolf if it isn’t a full moon. You need to mean it- say a prayer to Luna and picture yourself shifting.”
It took him a few minutes to change. Aira was a wolf in only a moment, and she observed the boy while he concentrated. Finally his limbs began to move and fur sprouted from his body. The mother gasped and she hid in her husband’s arms, but the father did not look away. Ander crouched and then fell in the snow, but quickly his new form appeared, one accustom to snow and the forest.
He stood, shaking off the snow that clung to his golden fur, the same color as his hair. He was an older puppy, like Aira, neither yet adults as people or beasts but needing to act without guidance from adults.
They regarded each other in this second form. Their scents filled the air and both knew even more about each other than when they had scented each other in human form. Ander knew she was a born werewolf, the alpha, and that she was tired and worried, even if she tried to hide it. She knew he was bitten a few days ago, the bite tearing when he shifted last night and reopening wounds. He was worried too, even afraid, but was determined.
She took a step to him and looked up into his eyes. He tilted his head in confusion, and then slowly bent his head in understanding. He licked her snout, crouching before her.
Brother, she said, nudging him. Beta.
Sister, he agreed, nuzzling her face. Alpha.
She looked to his front paw. He had taken off his clothes but had forgotten about the bandage. It was now lose and twisted up in his fur. She bent over and grabbed an end in her mouth, pulling and shaking her head until it came loose and she dropped it. When his wound began to bleed and he whined she licked at it until it stopped.
She glanced to the parents and gave a nod so they would understand. The father nodded back, and then mother tried to hide her tears by picking up their clothes. With a meaningful look to Ander she dashed off into the underbrush. He followed.