Home Sweet Home
I woke early despite having a troubled sleep. I decided to get up and start getting ready to leave as I wasn't entirely sure when my dad wanted to leave. As I entered the kitchen to see if there was anything to eat I glanced at the clock and saw that it was 7:30am. I then noticed my dad sitting at the dining table.
"I cooked some bacon and eggs for you. Still hot too."
I went over to the stove where the bacon and eggs was still in the pan a lid to keep as much warmth in as possible. I grabbed a plate and transferred the eggs and bacon over before joining my dad at the table. He looked at me and saw how tired I was.
"Looks like you didn't sleep well last night."
I shook my head. "I kept thinking about everything I've been told and how much I still don't know. It's hard to digest."
He nodded and he let me eat the rest of my breakfast in silence. Once I had finished he took my plate along with his and put them in the sink.
"We should head off."
"What about the dishes and stuff?"
"Oh, we have someone who comes here to check on the place and make sure it's tidy in case one of us has to use it for an emergency. They also stock up the food and make sure it's all fresh and not past it's best before date."
I nodded. "Then let's go. I want to get to the village as soon as possible."
We were a ten minute walk from the village when my dad decided to shift back into his human form. Trees surrounded us, their leaves whispering in the slight wind. The sunlight shone between the branches. As we made the short walk to the village I noticed animals were emerging from the surrounding forest. More and more could be seen as we got closer to the village. Once we arrived at the village we were welcomed by a small crowd of people and animals. A small group of animals were trailing behind us by this point. There were still others coming from other parts of the village to see us arrive. Some of the animals started to glow with a soft white light and I knew I was witnessing a few of the animals change shape. Though of course they weren't normal animals, they were shape shifters. An elderly man of whom I recognised from my dream was standing at the front of the crowd. As soon as he saw us he started smiling and I could see the relief in his eyes now that he knew we were safe and weren't obviously harmed. My father walked up to the elderly man and hugged him who must have said something as my father shook his head as they came out of the hug.
"Alistair, as you know this is Tobias. Did Alex bring his stuff back safely?"
Alistair nodded, "It's in your house waiting for you in the spare room."
He turned to me and gave me a quick examination before smiling again. "I'm so glad I could meet you in person again before my day comes to part this world. You look just like Lysander though of course you have some of your mother's features. I'm very curious as to what your animal form will be but we all shall know soon enough. Your birthday is only a couple of days away and there's much to be prepared."
I suddenly got very nervous at the mention of my birthday and how close it was considering that I would be changing for the first time in my life so soon. Alistair laughed slightly as he saw my nervousness show.
"Don't worry Tobias, it won't hurt. Or at least not as much as you might think. But anyway, come and meet the rest of the tribe." He turned to everyone behind him. "Everyone, this is Tobias. My grandson and Lysander's son. Don't be afraid to come up and welcome him to the family, the Xavian Tribe. He hasn't grown up with our ways of living and learning so please excuse any of his ignorance. He has much to learn."
And so I was greeted by many members of the tribe. There was Abigail who was the tribes healer who used herbs and such to aid her in the practice, Grenwick the blacksmith who also trained some of the tribe members in swordplay and he was a large muscular man, Baelorn the historian and keeper of scrolls and history books (also kept a few books on medicines and other informative books) and there were a whole lot more including a spiritualist. The last person who came up to greet me was Remus of whom my father had told me about yesterday. As Remus was trying to get a conversation started my father came over.
"Remus, why don't you show Tobias around the place. Once you're done bring him over to mine. You'll be welcome to stay for dinner too. I have a few things to do." He winked at me and walked off.
Remus looked a little nervous and looked down at the ground before looking back at me. "So…uh….where do you want to go first?"
I shrugged. "I don't really know. Where do you think would be a good place to start?"
He seemed to think for a bit. "Let's have a look at Grenwick's forge first. Then we can maybe have a look at the herbalist's and go on from there."
I nodded. "Ok, lead the way."
As we headed for the forge I couldn't help but notice how attractive Remus was. His hair was a light blonde and his eyes were a nice icy blue. He was of a skinny to medium build and seemed to have a confidence about him despite some of his nervousness. As we got closer to the forge his nervousness had diminished and he seemed a lot more relaxed. We could hear the sound of metal on metal as Grenwick worked on a blade. He glanced up at us as we arrived.
"Hello boys. How Can I help you two today?"
"I'm just showing Tobias around. His father Lysander thought it would be a good idea."
Grenwick looked over at me. "Nice to meet you again Tobias. I hope you settle into the place nicely. Probably a lot more different than where you were raised."
I nodded. "Yeah, it is. Though to be honest it's nice to see buildings replaced by trees and bushes and what not. I hated living in a town. But in the short time I've been here I've felt free and not so confined."
Grenwick nodded. "Aye, that's what it's like with us shape shifters. We dislike the towns and cities and prefer the forest over anything else. Anyway I should get back to work. Feel free to have a look around the place. Just be careful." He smiled.
After Remus showed me around Grenwick's forge he took me to the herbalist's. Wasn't much to see though one day I wouldn't mind learning about all the herbs and their medicinal uses.
An hour or so later Remus had led me to a medium sized clearing. In the middle of the clearing was a large gazebo with a two-seater chair sitting in the middle with a couple of tables more towards the sides.
"This is where we hold special ceremonies for example weddings, funerals, peoples first changing and we even hold birthday parties of a sort here for those that want one."
I nodded and looked around a little. I started heading towards the gazebo and sat down on the two-seater chair. Remus came over and sat down next to me.
"Any questions about anything?"
I shook my head and laughed a little. "Not that I know of and if I do I'll ask someone."
"Well if there's anything you want to ask you can come to me if you want. Or you can ask your dad or Alistair."
"Thanks." I looked at Remus and smiled. "So what do you do around here?"
"Not much really. I just try and learn as much as I can about herbal medicines and what not. Otherwise I just do some odd jobs around the place and help anyone that needs it."
"Is there anything fun to do?"
"Yeah but it won't be what you'll be used to. At least once a week there is some sort of competition held somewhere in the forest. Most of the time it's usually physical or athletic but sometimes it can get a little more on the poetic side. Sometimes, some of the younger ones, the ones that haven't had their 16th birthday yet, they organise a play and they use the gazebo as their stage and sometimes they get some of the older ones to help out with a few things. The plays aren't held that often though, maybe once every couple of months or so. Other than that we just hang out and do what we want as long as we don't cause trouble. There are those who are specifically used as messengers due to their animal form for example most, if not all, of the members with birds as their animal form are useful with delivering verbal or written messages unless they're deemed too important to be delivered in that manner."
I sat back and closed my eyes. As I opened them and looked over at Remus, I noticed that he was getting a little nervous again.
"Remus, just out of curiousity, why have you been a little nervous? You've seemed to be nervous from time to time ever since my dad got you to show me around."
He looked at me with his icy blue eyes before looking away again. "It's…it's nothing." We were both silent for a bit before he spoke again. "Is there any girls from your area that you liked or had an interest in?"
I shook my head, "No, I've never been interested in girls. Never had a girlfriend and I don't want one. Guys catch my interest more than anything though I've never known anyone else that's gay."
Remus seemed to perk his ears up at the mention of me being gay. "There aren't many gay or bisexual shape shifters alive as far as I know but that doesn't mean that we're against it all. There have definitely been some in the past. I'm glad you could tell me."
I shrugged. "I don't really see it as a big deal really. If people know then they know. If they don't like it then it's their problem." I looked over at Remus. "Have you had an interest in anyone?" I didn't want to let him give any hints that I knew he was gay. If he wanted to tell me then I would let him do so in his own time.
He shook his head. "I'm the same. Never had a girlfriend and not looking for one either. Though…." He paused for a bit.
He sighed. "It's nothing. We should head back to your dad's. I'll help you unpack your bags if you want."
I nodded. "That would be great." I smiled at him.
Remus led me to my dad's house and as we walked past the other houses I paid attention to their exteriors. They all were plain, not painted but it looked like they were oiled to try and help protect the exposed wood from the elements. The only sort of decorations were engravings around the doors and windows. I also noticed that each house had a small indentation next to the front door. I guessed they were for placing werelights so they wouldn't be missed when walking around the village at night.
It wasn't long before we arrived at my dad's house. Remus knocked on the front door of which was opened almost immediately by my dad. He smiled at the two of us and stepped back to let us enter.
"Did you enjoy the small tour Toby?"
I nodded. "I did and I would have to say it's a lot better than living in the city or in a small town. Though, I'm going to find it a little hard to adapt to living here, especially when it comes to having fun."
My dad chuckled a little. "You'll get used to that. You'll also start getting a few more jobs to do to keep you busy. But just enjoy the time you have now before it's gone. Do you guys want something to eat and drink?"
Both Remus and I looked at each other and smiled. We hadn't realised how hungry we were. We both agreed to have a small snack before I unpacked my stuff. The biscuits that my dad had made were nicer than what you could buy from the supermarket and the water tasted so much better too. It didn't taste of chlorine. The goblets used were made out of wood, though I'm not sure what sort of wood it was. Once the two of us had finished my dad led us to the spare bedroom where my bags were sitting on the king sized bed of which looked like it was handmade. Just as my dad was about to leave the room he looked at me as if he knew I was going to say something.
"Hey dad, is everything you guys have, all the buildings, furniture and stuff handmade by the tribe?"
"Not everything but yes, the houses were built by those who were capable and so was the furniture though fabrics were purchased except that anything made of wool was also handmade. We have a good source when it comes to wool so we know it hasn't been tampered with. Some, if not most, of our food we grow ourselves for example we grow our own fruits and vegetables and we try to use our own fertilizers. Anything like flour and other ingredients used for baking we get from supermarkets. Meat we hunt ourselves. We have a small group of people dedicated to hunting though we don't eat meat every day. And I think that's about it. Anyway I have to head off. I'll be back in time to make dinner. You two are free to do what you want." He started to head out but then turned back to us. "Oh and also, don't go looking for a chat with your grandfather, Toby. Let Alistair come to you first, ok?"
I nodded. My dad smiled and headed off to do his business. I grabbed my bags and put them on the ground at the foot of my bed before I jumped onto my bed and lay on my back. I felt Remus's gaze on me as he stood there feeling a little awkward. I looked at him and sat up, once again noticing his good looks. I started to get butterflies in my stomach as I thought about telling him that I found him attractive. I gazed around the room while trying to gather up the courage and with a deep sigh concluding my decision I once again looked at Remus, my eyes drawn to his blue ones.
"Can I tell you a little something Remus?" He nodded. "I don't want to make you uncomfortable or anything but…I think you're quite an attractive guy."
He blushed a little. "Uh….thanks…I guess. Never really been complimented like that before."
"It's true though. You have nice blue eyes, a good body build." I winked at him a little and smiled. "You're also a nice guy." This made him blush even more.
"So…you still need help with your stuff?"
"Yeah, I just wanted to get off my feet for a bit. If you want you can make yourself comfortable and we can chat for a bit."
He sat on the end of the bed facing me with legs crossed. There was a bit of silence as we tried to think of something to talk about. We ended up talking about how different things were between living in the village here in the forest and living in a town. From there we just started to talk about random things. We became more comfortable with each other and became friends though at this point we wouldn't realise how close we would become and how things would change for the both of us in such a short amount of time.
By the time my dad had come home and had made dinner both Remus and I were lying side by side talking about random stuff glad that we hadn't forgotten about sorting out my bags and putting things away. My dad softly knocked on the door and popped his head into the room.
"Dinner is ready guys. Its salmon freshly caught today from the river with fresh salad from Abigail's vegetable garden. I also got a few herbs and spices from her for any future meals. Now come and get it before the salmon goes cold."
We headed into the kitchen and as we passed through some of the other rooms I noticed a few paintings. Some of them were landscapes. Mountains, forests, oceans and lakes. But then there were some that were portraits of people. One of them was my grandfather, Alistair, and next to his portrait was who I assumed was my grandmother. As my gaze wondered over to the fireplace there was a portrait of a beautiful woman hanging over the mantelpiece. I pointed out the painting to my dad and asked about the woman.
"That's your mother. I had that portrait of her painted a week before she died. You haven't met the painter of our tribe yet but you will soon enough. She's brilliant at what she does."
I looked over at my dad and his eyes were filled with sorrow and love for the most important person that he had lost. He then turned and went into the kitchen and as Remus and I followed I saw that any trace of sorrow had now left him.
"Sit down and dig in boys."
As we both sat down my dad handed us some fresh homemade lemonade. He then joined us and we ate in silence. Once we were all done my dad looked at me.
"Is there anything you would like to ask? Anything in general?"
I thought about it for a bit and only two questions seemed to come to mind. "What time does the first change usually happen on the 16th birthday?"
"Anywhere between 10pm and midnight, it depends on the person. Though I think with you it'll most likely happen closer to midnight but I could be wrong."
I nodded. "Ok. How do others identify what animal form you have apart from seeing you change?"
"Everyone gets a marking on the night of their first change that looks like a small tattoo and it would be of their animal form. Though where it's found is based on gender. For males the mark will appear on the left side of the chest, for females it'll appear on their right hip. Anything else?"
I shook my head. "Not at the moment. Though something might pop up at some point."
"That's fine but if you do have any questions, don't be afraid to ask someone. Anyway we should clean up and you Remus should head home. You're parents expect you to be home soon."
Remus and I helped with the dishes and everything had to be hand washed and dried seeing as there were no dishwashers in the village and soon after they were done Remus left for home. I hoped that I would see him tomorrow and be able to hang out with him as he was a nice guy and all.