A House Full of Wolves

Chapter 10

The day of the full moon found Stiles and Lydia standing in front of a bare, white wall in the dining room. They were the only people in the house. The wolves were all out in the preserve, already running off some of the energy that was building up because of the pull of the moon. Derek wanted everyone to be as tired as possible when the moon rose, so they wouldn’t be energized and maybe just sleep through the full moon. Wishful thinking, Stiles thought.

“And why exactly are we standing in front of a bare wall?” Lydia asked, looking over at Stiles as if he was stupid. Stiles looked back at his friend, a bright grin on his face. He turned back to the dining table and picked up the linen bag that lay on top of it.

“Because” he started, pulling out a large envelope, a hammer and a brand new pack of nails, “we are going to hang pictures.” Lydia looked at him as if he was stupid.

“Why would we hang pictures? Doesn’t Derek want to do that himself?”

“Derek is way too busy with the puppies to think about hanging pictures. I talked to him over a week ago and still nothing has been done, so I thought why not do it myself?” Stiles explained and motioned for Lydia to follow him out of the dining room and the house, all the way to where his Jeep was parked in the drive way.

“This is why” he said, opening the trunk to his car, “I bought picture frames yesterday. I bought too many, I know, but I suggested to Derek we start a picture wall of pictures from the pack.” Stiles placed a bag of frames in Lydia’s hand and then took the remaining two. They made their trek back to the house and set the bags down on the dining room chairs.

“So if you want to start a wall of pictures from the pack, what are these pictures?” Lydia asked and pointed to the envelope. “As far as I know, we haven’t had any pictures taken yet. Unless you didn’t invite me for that!”

“Oh Lydia, Lydia, never would we forget about you when it comes to pictures. And really, I thought you were the genius of the pack” Stiles said slightly condescending. He was the only one allowed to talk to Lydia that way. It showed how far their friendship had come.

“These are pictures of Derek’s family. They are as much part of our pack as Erica and Scott are.”

Lydia was silent after that statement. Of course Stiles was right, the Hale family was an important part of the pack, even if they couldn’t be with them physically anymore. For sure they were with Derek in spirit at any point in time. And if they were with their alpha, then they would also be with the rest of the pack.

“Okay then. I frame the pictures, you hang them. And please don’t hit your thumb” Lydia decided, turning to the table and taking the frames out of the first bag.

“Knowing you, you’ll hit your thumb on the first try” she mumbled to herself.

The pair worked in silence for some time, until Lydia picked up a new batch of pictures to be framed. At first she didn’t look at them too closely, but when she was making sure that the photographs were straight and center in the frames Stiles had bought, she huffed. She knew that person on the picture.

“Why is my cousin in these pictures?”

Lydia’s words disturbed Stiles and he hit his thumb smack with the hammer. With a chorus of expletives Stiles stepped off the chair and next to Lydia.

“Your cousin?” he asked, holding his finger under his arm pit to lessen the pain.

“Yeah… That’s my cousin” Lydia explained, pointing to a young woman with red hair. It was the woman that had caught Stiles’ attention before, when he first looked at these pictures. Lydia and she had the exact same shade of hair. “That’s my cousin Caro-“


“How do you know my cousin’s name?” Lydia asked confused. She had never talked about her with anyone. Lydia didn’t even really know her.

“Derek told me about her. She was his aunt. Peter’s wife” Stiles cleared up her confusion, but the expression that followed was worse- shock.

“What? She was… she was Peter’s wife? My cousin was Peter’s wife?” she exclaimed, sitting down in a chair. Stiles couldn’t blame her for the shock. He would be overwhelmed as well if he found out a member of his family was the wife of a reckless sociopath.

“Yeah… How did you not know that?” Curiosity got the best of Stiles.

“I… my family didn’t have the best relationship with her. You know how my relationship is with my dad. She was the daughter of his older brother. I never met her, only saw her in pictures. My parents told me that she had died, she and her daughters, but I didn’t know… I didn’t know it was the fire…” Lydia kept shaking her head, willing herself to understand the news she had just received. The psychopath that had terrorized her, had tried to kill her, was related to her. Not by blood, mind you, but still related.

Stiles didn’t really know what to do. Finding out about something big like that sure wasn’t easy. He tried not to disturb the girl as he cleared the table around her. They had done enough hanging of pictures for one day.

Just then the front door opened and with loud steps and incessant chatter the rest of the pack entered the house. They stopped on the threshold of the dining room, looking at the pair of humans sitting at the table, silent. Amongst the wolves was, who else could it be, Peter.

Lydia’s breaths stuttered as she saw the man who had caused her so much pain and problems. She didn’t want to deal with him quite yet. It was too early. She would have to come to grips with the fact that her cousin had been married to Peter Hale of all people on her own before she could really talk to anyone about it, especially the culprit himself. She would have to talk about it sooner or later, but the night of the full moon really wasn’t the best point of time for it.

“Everything okay?” Derek asked suspiciously. Stiles was sure all of the wolves could smell the despair and confusion on Lydia, and the helplessness on Stiles. He wanted to help his friend, if he only knew how.

“Yes, sure, everything’s fine” he lied, and he knew Derek had looked right through him, but thankfully didn’t call him out on it. “Lydia just wanted to leave so she could pack a few things for our human sleep over. Right Lyds?”

The girl nodded as if she was in a trance, stood up from her perch on the chair and moved to her bag. She put her phone in it and hoisted it on her shoulder. Seriously, how one tiny human could carry so much stuff around was beyond Stiles.

The wolves moved out of the way as Lydia walked to the door. Only Jackson stood his ground, looking at his girlfriend concernedly.

“Lydia?” he asked, putting a hand on her shoulder. His worries about the full moon were currently forgotten. He was more worried about his girlfriend’s behavior. “Is everything all right?”

At Jackson’s words Lydia’s eyes finally cleared again.

“What? Yes. Everything is okay. I just still need to pack so I have something to wear tonight. I’m not going to be caught dead in one of Stiles’ gruesome t-shirts” she said and put on a smile that was so fake even a blind man could see right through it.

Jackson wrapped his arms around Lydia’s tiny frame and pressed a kiss to the crown of her head.

“Good. I don’t want you smelling like Stilinski” he said, meaning every word.

“I won’t, don’t worry. And don’t worry about tonight. Everything will be fine, I’m sure. You can annoy Scott if you have too much energy, just don’t ruin the couch, okay?” she said, smiling slightly, and this time it was genuine. Lydia even giggled at Scott’s exclamations at her words.

Jackson escorted Lydia to her car and the rest of the pack dispersed into the many rooms of the Hale house. To Stiles’ chagrin, Peter followed him into the kitchen, where Stiles started to pull out ingredients for sandwiches. He had decided he would make the wolves something to eat before the night, or they would probably end up chewing at the furniture.

“Lydia was distressed because of me, wasn’t she” Peter asked, his voice somber for once. Stiles didn’t turn away from the fridge when he answered.

“Lydia has to tell you that yourself, it’s not my conversation to have” he said, slightly colder than necessary, but he just couldn’t hold himself in Peter’s presence. He didn’t like the man. His past actions were explainable, seeing his whole family didn’t leave anyone unscathed, but that didn’t make them forgivable.

“So it was because of me” Peter reasoned.

“I never said that” Stiles replied and closed the fridge with slightly too much force. The bottles rattled inside. Stiles didn’t see Peter leave but when he turned to the kitchen island the werewolf was gone.

Stiles didn’t stay much longer than that. He finished preparing numerous platters of sandwiches and stored them in the refrigerator, so they would stay fresh. He knew Scott; he knew that his best friend wouldn’t eat stale sandwiches.

Stiles walked into the office, where Derek had holed up before the pull of the moon got too bad and he would have to rally up the wolves, looking over papers that Stiles had no clue about.

“Uhm, I’m going now. Don’t let the puppies chew on the furniture. And don’t make them kill each other. They might annoy me sometimes, but I want them back in one piece. All of them” he said, leaning against the door frame. His words elicited a small smile from Derek. He already seemed affected by the moon, differently to all the other times though. It seemed like lately, the major planets brought a better side out of the sour wolf.

“Don’t worry, Stiles. I won’t let them battle to certain death” he said sarcastically and Stiles grinned in return.

“I hope you don’t. ‘Cause I would like to be able to watch that, and not be rudely excluded from a pack exercise like that” he said, slightly poking at the fact that Derek had stood his ground the day before and had forbidden the humans of the pack to stay in the Hale house during the full moon. He didn’t want to risk them getting hurt, especially with Jackson, who was still so very new to the whole changing under the pull of the moon thing, and Stiles had understood that Derek just wanted them to be safe, but it still felt stupid that Lydia and he weren’t allowed to stay.

“I’ll sent you an e-vite” Derek said, now full on grinning. Stiles wasn’t prepared for the sight. Something awoke in his stomach and it certainly wasn’t hunger.

Yup. The crush on the alpha was still present, and it was rearing its head just then. But this was not the time to think about it.

“So very funny, Mr Hale. Maybe you should overthink going to college once more. Maybe a career as a stand-up comedian would be better for you” he said and rolled his eyes. Derek chuckled dryly.

“I’ll think about it. And now get out before the moon starts to rise” Derek said, his tone somber again from one moment to the next. “And Stiles?”


“Look after Lydia. I don’t know what it was earlier, but I could see she wasn’t doing so well.” Stiles smiled at the alpha and his attentiveness. He really was getting better at the whole caring thing.

“Will do, boss.”

Derek called the wolves together half an hour before the moon was set to rise. He wanted the entire pack, well, the entire wolf part of the pack, to be together from start to end. Strength in number is what Stiles had called it, and the human wasn’t wrong.

In the past, with his family, the full moon had always been spent with the entire pack, and even the youngest wolves had managed to keep from shifting some nights. Even Tristan, with his five years, and Ayleen with her four years, had been able to sleep through the full moon once or twice.

Derek didn’t think the wolves would sleep this night, but he wished for them to be able to stay calm, even Jackson, who had only gone through one other full moon, or Scott, who still had problems finding his anchor now that he and Allison had broken up.

But if they didn’t manage to stay calm, the rest of the pack would be there for them, Derek included. They had grown closer in the last few weeks, spending hours on end together had helped a lot.

The betas all sat around the kitchen table when Derek entered last from the office. They looked at him expectantly.

“So, what are we going to do tonight? Hunt rabbits?” Erica asked with a slight smile, but Derek could see in her eyes that the humor was just to mask her nerves. She wanted everything to go fine, for everyone, but herself mostly. Erica had lived all her life being terrorized by her epilepsy, and after the bite she had hoped she would be able to take control over herself again. That it was taken away from her once a month again wasn’t something she was particularly fond of.

“No rabbits. Stiles made sandwiches” Derek stated, emotions void from his voice. The night was already straining his nerves, and it hadn’t even started yet.

It wasn’t that Derek wasn’t confident that his betas would get through the night. He was worried he wouldn’t be able to be there for them should they get restless. They had grown closer, yes, but had Derek grown stronger as an alpha? Strong enough to keep his pack together at a night like this?

“Well, sandwiches make really lousy prey” Jackson said dryly, and Derek could also see in his eyes that this was just show. Jackson more than anyone was concerned about the night. Understandable.

Just then Peter entered the kitchen as well. Derek hadn’t necessarily agreed to him coming along to the night, but he was family after all. No matter what had happened between them, no matter what Peter had done, he was blood. Derek had been raised to treat family as the highest good. And that included all black sheep as well.

The older man didn’t sit down on one of the empty chairs but kept standing in the door way, leaning his shoulder on the frame.

“So, what are we going to do? Hunt rabbits?” he asked and Derek scowled at him. He knew very well that Peter had heard Erica’s words from only a moment ago loudly and clearly. He just wanted to get a rise out of the alpha.

“No. Rabbits.” Derek repeated once more, making his way to the fridge and pulling out the platters that Stiles had prepared before he had left. He put them on the table in front of the betas, and he seriously thought they would attack them as soon as he had pulled his hand away. Surprisingly, they stayed seated with their hands in their laps. Even Scott who was eying the treats as if they would vanish the next moment.

Derek didn’t get what they were doing until a few moments later, when he put glasses and ice tea on the table and the wolves still weren’t moving. They were waiting for him, their alpha.

He didn’t really know what to do with this realization. He was flattered, and proud of himself that the month they had spent together had made them really recognize him as their alpha, but at the same time he felt uncomfortable. He didn’t want to be put on a pedestal. He had come across packs where the alpha had used the higher status to undermine the betas, and the betas had let them do it. He didn’t want to become someone like that. He wanted to be recognized as the leader, but he didn’t want to be feared. He wanted to be a friend, a brother, not a king that had to be waited on.

But he couldn’t deny that it felt good that the betas were waiting for him.

To keep them from waiting any longer, Derek finally sat down in his seat. He filled the glasses with tea and passed them out, then set the pitcher back on the surface. He was just about to take a sandwich when he sighed.

“Sit down, Peter. We’re having dinner” he said without turning around to look at his uncle.

The kitchen was silent for a whole second, until the legs of the last remaining chair scraped across the tiled floor and Peter sat down next to Erica and Jackson.

Derek breathed in once deeply, then took a sandwich. As soon as he had taken the first bite out of the bread, the betas attacked the platters and started stuffing their faces.

It would be a long night, Derek was sure of that already.

Two hours later the atmosphere wasn’t as calm and collected anymore. The moon had risen, yet it still wasn’t at its highest point, so they hadn’t even made it half way through. Still, Derek was close to freaking out. Not just because the betas, and Peter, were restless, more restless than the month before, but also because Derek himself, the born wolf, the alpha, was restless.

Derek could practically see the animal within him pacing back and forth. He definitely could feel it.

But Derek had to concentrate on the betas. They were more important than him. Derek had his whole life as experience, and a strong anchor to hold him down, but his betas were still new to all this. Even Scott, who had been a wolf longest out of all of them. Thanks Peter.

Derek walked upstairs and into Isaac’s room, where the betas were holed up, sitting or pacing restlessly. They weren’t strong enough yet to suppress the wolf’s urges to move.

Isaac was the only one of them who sat still in his chair, busying his hands with cutting out random shapes from pieces of paper. What the boy would do with the numerous flowers and circles was beyond Derek, but at least he wasn’t shifting and shredding his bed sheets.

“You guys okay?” Derek asked, even though it was obvious that they weren’t. Erica and Boyd sat as closely together as possible, their hands grasping each other, trying to keep a grip on reality. They had each other as their anchor, so being close helped a lot.

“Okay? Okay? Does it look like we’re okay? We’re damn animals, we-I want to run, I want to fight, I want to chase rabbits!” Jackson snapped, turning dark eyes at Derek, glaring deeply. Scott nodded enthusiastically at Jackson’s words.

Derek could understand them. Chasing rabbits was fun. But they couldn’t give in to their urges. Not yet. Maybe in a few months, when they had all become more in control and a close knit unit as a pack, but not just then.

“I know you want to do something. But we can’t. We have to stay calm, or else you lose control” Derek tried to reason with them, but his words had the opposite effect.

“Calm? To hell with control! We are werewolves! We shouldn’t need to have control!” Jackson roared, making Isaac jump up in his chair, collect his scissors and papers and rush from the room.

Derek only looked after the blur of wolf. What Isaac was doing he didn’t know. But as long as it kept the wolf calm he didn’t care.

Another two hours later and the house was close to being in shambles. Derek didn’t know what he was doing. Jackson and Scott had started to chase each other through the rooms, growling under their breaths, which in turn made Isaac start losing control. He had stopped cutting out shapes and instead wandered around the house, mumbling something about not being complete. Erica and Boyd were still clutching each other, their claws elongated and their eyes glowing bright yellow. Tears were running down Erica’s face and her sobs permeated the air.

Peter wasn’t making things easier. The oldest wolf among them was pacing around and around the dining room table, stopping in front of the half finished picture wall after every round, staring, whimpering and then starting to walk again. It was doing Derek’s head in. What was with his uncle? Yes, it was only his second full moon since coming back to life as well, but he had had a full life as a wolf before that. What had changed so suddenly that he wasn’t able to cope anymore?

That was a question Derek really wanted answered, because the same was happening to him. He had always managed to get through the full moon somehow, tiring himself out with an extensive run before the moon rose and then he would suppress any urges that came up, but he was having a harder time today than at any moment in the last few years. His eyes were starting to glow constantly and his wolf was growling inside him.

Suddenly, a commotion rose in the front hallway. Jackson had finally caught up to Scott and had him pinned against a wall. His teeth were bared and he was growling at Scott menacingly. The two had fought often and hard, but never had Jackson looked so vicious.

“Where is she? Where is SHE!” he yelled, pressing closer to Scott, his face almost touching the other wolf. “Where is LYDIA?”

And finally Derek understood. He understood why Jackson was so restless and aggressive, he understood Isaac’s mumblings of something being incomplete, he somehow even understood why Peter wasn’t faring so well. And he might even understand why he was having a hard time himself.

They weren’t complete. The pack wasn’t whole. People were missing.

It didn’t take Derek a second before the number was dialed and the phone at his ear. He didn’t even let his opposite get in a word before he ground out his words.

“You need to get here. NOW!”

Stiles and Lydia were sitting on the living room couch watching movies. Stiles was indulging the girl and The Notebook was on. Not that Stiles particularly disliked the film, it was a cute story, but had it gone after him, they would be watching Captain America or Avengers. On the coffee table in front of them stood bowls of peanuts and dried apple slices, again Lydia’s choices.

Stiles loved the girl too much to say no to her. Platonically by now, of course.

Ryan Gosling was just starting to rebuild his house when Stiles’ phone started chirping from where it was buried under pillows. Lydia had made him put his phone away after he had looked at it every other minute, worried something had come up and they were needed.

The girl now looked at Stiles as he pulled out his phone from between the cushions and checked who was disturbing their human sleep-over. A frown made its way onto Stiles’ face when he saw the caller id.

“It’s Derek” he said simply, then accepted the call.

“You need to get here. NOW!” Stiles had to hold his phone away from his ear or else he would have been deaf. The alpha’s growl was deep and guttural, with a slight tint of desperation at the edges.

“On our way” was all Stiles said before hanging up again. He didn’t need an explanation. If Derek went back on his words to keep the humans out of the house during the full moon, something was going on.

One look to Lydia had the girl standing up and shutting off the TV and DVD player. Her bag was still packed, the only things taken out were her yoga pants and the satin-y top she was wearing, replaced with her clothes from the day

“Can you pack the bags of chips together? I’m pretty sure the wolves need comfort food. I’m just going to pack a bag” Stiles asked, already taking two steps at a time up the staircase.

He came back a moment later with a bag half open and overflowing with stuff he had thrown in haphazardly. He had pulled on a sweater over his shirt, as had Lydia. Together they walked outside and into Stiles’ car.

“Can you text my dad to tell him something’s up with the wolves and we had to go there?” Stiles asked while backing out of the driveway, pointing to his phone that lay on the middle console. Lydia nodded and made to type out the message, putting the phone back down only a minute later.

“Can you please tell me what’s going on with you and Derek?” she said after a moment of silence. Stiles almost got whiplash from how fast he turned his head to look at her. Thankfully the streets were empty that time of the night, or else he would have been a hazard to the driving public.

“What are you talking about? Nothing is going on with me and Derek” he replied, but the crush monster in his stomach was telling a different story. Thankfully Lydia couldn’t look inside him. “We’re getting along better now, but that’s it.”

“Don’t even try to deny it. You like him. And I don’t blame you. Derek does look good, there is no use denying it. And he listens to you, which is good. Some of the time” Lydia stated with a voice that implied that she knew everything and denying anything was useless.

“Yes, I like him, we are starting to be friends, liking someone would be a good start for that” Stiles rebutted. He didn’t have the nerves to talk about this now. He wanted to get to the house and know what was wrong. If something hadn’t been wrong Derek wouldn’t have called.

“You know exactly that I don’t mean it like that” Lydia said, slightly shaking her head. But she didn’t urge it any further. She, as well, was worried about what was going on at the Hale house.

Just then did they turn into the long drive way through the preserve of the Hale property. Lydia had opened her door the moment the car had come to a stop, and Stiles had followed suit. The bags in the back of the car were forgotten, the wolves were more important in that moment. Stiles was making up horror scenarios in his head. The wolves could have started fighting each other. Oh God, what is one of them was hurt? Or they could have gotten out and into the preserve. But had that happened then Derek would have greeted them outside the house.

Lydia opened the front door and the sight the two humans were met with was disturbing, to say the least. Erica and Isaac were sitting left and right of Boyd at the top of the stairs, the two blondes clutching Boyd’s shirt in their clawed hands and sobbing tearfully, their eyes glowing bright yellow. Derek was trying to keep Jackson and Scott apart, who were changed into their wolf form, snapping their teeth at Derek’s arms and growling at the other beta menacingly. Peter was still pacing around the dining room table, as if in trance, and Derek? Derek was close to collapsing, his eyes glowing red and his arms bleeding from the scratches Scott and Jackson’s claws had left while they had tried to get past the alpha. It was worse than what Stiles had come up with.

“What the ever-loving hell is going on here?” he exclaimed loudly from where he stood on the threshold one step in front of Lydia. The noise from the wolves stopped immediately. It was silent for one, two seconds, then a completely different kind of noise started up again. Isaac started whimpering from the top of the stairs, his eyes shining brightly. He let go of Boyd and stumbled down the stairs, only to jump into Stiles arms, wrapping himself around the human and squeezing tightly. He kept mumbling ‘complete, complete’ over and over again, burying his head in Stiles’ shoulder.

He hadn’t seen that coming, but oh well.

Something he had seen coming was the transformation of Jackson as soon as he saw Lydia. Claws and teeth were gone instantly and he actually started purring when he was able to hold his mate in his arms.

It was as if everyone was able to breathe again.

Over Isaac’s mob of hair Stiles looked at Derek, who had let himself slump down on the last step of the staircase, his arms still bleeding and breathing deeply. His eyes had turned green again.

“Were the pups being a handful?” Stiles asked with a grin, ruffling Isaac’s hair, who was still sniffing at Stiles’ shoulder. He only received a large sigh in response. “I take that as a yes.”

Stiles shuffled Isaac into the movie room and onto the couch, where he didn’t want to let go of the human. Only after promising that he wouldn’t leave again was he able to leave the room and get his and Lydia’s bag from the Jeep.

When he came back in the entire pack was in the movie room. Even Peter sat on the floor, leaning on the couch with his back, directly at Lydia’s feet. Stiles had an inkling why that was. Since he had found out that Peter had been married to Lydia’s cousin, a lot of things made more sense.

Stiles made his way into the middle of the couch, where a spot was left open for him and immediately Isaac and Scott curled around him.

“Can anyone tell me what was going on?” Stiles asked after a moment of silence.

“We weren’t complete” Isaac explained quietly, and Stiles smiled slightly.

“Well, we are now, so can we calm down and sleep soon, huh? How about that?” he suggested and received answers in the form of large yawns. Stiles let himself slump backwards and his head rested on someone’s legs.

It wasn’t long before the whole pack fell asleep, the moon still high in the sky.

Lydia was the first one awake the next moment. She carefully extracted herself out from under the various limbs strewn across the couch, smiling slightly at Scott, who had Isaac’s hair clutched in his hands and was… chewing on them?

The girl tiptoed out of the movie room and into the hallway, where she took her overnight bag and made her way upstairs and into a bathroom to get ready for the day.

Freshly washed and dressed she came back downstairs some time later and moved into the kitchen, starting up a pot of coffee. The rest of the pack was going to be up soon and she knew they would all be demanding coffee. A lot of coffee.

She was slicing up apples when she heard someone behind her. Her breath stopped when she saw it was Peter.

“You were upset because of me” he said, cutting right to the chase. Lydia knew exactly what the man was talking about, but she didn’t want to indulge him.

“I wasn’t upset.”

“Yes you were, Lydia. And it was about me. I know I have done a lot of things that could make you upset, but I’d like to know what it was this time” he said smoothly, coming further into the kitchen and sitting down on the chair he had occupied the evening before as well.

“I-“ Lydia started, but she didn’t know what to say to him. She was scared of him. But at the same time, he was, somehow, a part of her family.

“You lost your wife” she eventually said, trying to make her voice sound emotionless. She didn’t quite succeed. Peter closed his eyes and swallowed when he heard her words. But he would be honest with her.

“I did. And two daughters” he said, trying to stay calm. His family was still, and would always be, a sore spot.

“And I lost a cousin” Lydia eventually breathed out, trying her hardest to not make eye contact with Peter. He didn’t want to see his reaction to her words. She couldn’t see it.

“What?” It was silent a long time before Peter said it.

“Your wife. Caroline. She was my cousin” Lydia said, and this time she did look at Peter. The look on his face was inexplicable. Before he could say anything she continued. “I’m scared of you. I don’t want to be, but I am. You used me, you tried to kill me, and it will forever haunt me. But we had something in common. Even though I never really knew her, didn’t know how she died, Caroline was still my blood, and she was your everything. I want to, but I can’t look past that. Your actions aren’t forgivable, or forgettable. But maybe someday they can be overlooked, somehow.”

Peter nodded at her words. “I know what I did can never be forgiven. But knowing that we share something that was important to both of us, no matter to what extent is making me want to redeem myself. I’m sorry, Lydia, for what I did to you.” With those words he stood up and walked to the French doors. He opened them and vanished into the midday sun.

Lydia stayed standing still for a long time. She had heard what Peter had said. And she believed he meant every word. Something had changed.

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