Wolves helped assist with the arrival of Alpha Brett’s pack, the Ash Crescent- as it formed from the volcanic ash found on the Shetland Islands- onto Alpha Titania’s lands.
The wolves living with the Ash Crescent followed behind, out of puff from the journey. A week of intensive training and running could only improve someone so much, but it did not work miracles and the wolves could still feel the tell-tale ache that the trek brought deep-set within their bones. At least there was a traditional party to look forward to for their efforts.
The morning was chaotic. Wolves piled in and it took an age for Duskfall, with help from the surrounding Alpha’s, to house the visitors and even then, many had to share cabins. Large tents made up the difference, allowing the additional hundred and fifty wolves to be housed. Graciously, many of the wild wolves offered to sleep outside to alleviate the pressure on housing, the city wolves, stubbornly refused such a preposterous idea.
Alpha Titania paired the higher-ups of the same packs within their own cabins. With difficulty, many complained but with a flash of teeth and lecture about how it was only temporary, many conceded. Not as if anyone would openly defy Titania, not when she had trounced them in fights. Nonetheless, some specific wolves did not learn from such humbling incidents.
“That’s most the wolves housed, there’s a few left over.” Athdara flicked through the papers on her clipboard while huffing a piece of stray hair out her face, “We have a slight issue though Alpha, I’ve accidentally miscounted and well...... well.....”
Titania turned her blue eyes to the teen, “Spit it out Athdara.”
“Alpha Brett and two others are the odd ones out, we’ve split them between you, Eóghan and Garth.” She rushed out, not wanting to see the fury that awaited in her Alpha’s glacial look.
She was not expecting, however, the resigned sigh from her superior and the tired hand that locked onto her temples. “Assign Alpha Brett with me, we can’t have him intimidating the newcomers. Look how well that went two years ago,” Athdara nodded, scribbling something down hurriedly.
“Thank you Alpha, I’ll see you later at the party!” With that goodbye, she diligently went off, shouting her own orders at the males who were setting up for tonight.
Titania grumbled in response, standing still as the world buzzed around her.
She checked in with Eóghan, Garth and her Border patrollers before strolling off to the gym; needing to occupy herself before the ever-present numbness took over and left her struggling to get out of bed. Slowly but surely, the anguish was making itself known on the outside. Her impassive façade could only hide so much but now the physical effects of rejection had torn her soul to such an extent that her outside reflected that: deep-set eyes embellished with bags that screamed fatigue, a deathlike pallor to her skin and a temper much more deadly than what she was originally recognized for. Overall, a deadly mix.
Releasing some pent-up irritation at the world, she threw punches into a punching bag, lifted weights until her muscles roared in protest but didn’t stop. Not until she rid herself of the raw memories that assaulted her, her barren heart just a wounded reminder of the very life she had put behind her.
Her first mate, Beta Lucus of a pack in Ireland, had been quite lovely at first. Spoiling her like she was more than just sixteen and instead, made her feel like a grown woman. That was before the green-eyed monster, one of the three beasts that haunted her switched and emotionally abused her until she was as a mindless as a sheep, following his every order. Following every comment about her clothes, her hair, her body until she no longer recognized herself when looking at her own reflection.
This wasn’t Titania, yet she saw the male as her bondmate and treasured him even when he proved that he was not worth her in the slightest. Lucus manipulated her. Using her nativity, innocence, and purity to his advantage.
She cursed. Swinging her clawed fist right through the punching bag as images of his cruel emerald eyes, slicked-back hair and venomous soul rippled through her. He was the first step in corrupting Titania- and the very thought of him sent her rage bubbling within. The bitterness which she gladly released onto the gym equipment.
Wolves came and went. A Beta male, in particular, watched Titania from the comfort of the bench machine. Eóghan watched with reserved anguish as he observed his Alpha starting to lose it. The wolves around could sense it also, moving away from the enraged Alpha while the other packs, who had heard but not seen the Mountain Widow, watched on keenly with interest mixed with unease.
“Didn’t realize Nathan pissed you off that much,” Eóghan appeared behind her, “I’ll tell him to watch his back.”
His teasing had the opposite effect on Titania than he would have hoped. Instead of a sly smirk or curve of her lips, he received a deathly glare that was peppered with deeply concealed hurt. Cursing at his stupidity, he relented, “Maybe that wasn’t the best greeting...”
“I’m fine. You don’t have to sweet coat anything Beta.”
Her crisp tone didn’t hide the damage her mate bond had caused. But Eóghan was a headstrong wolf and he was hell-bent on ensuring his Alpha’s welfare; someone had to care for the wolf who refused to care for herself.
He gave her a look that translated, I don’t believe you and said “Let’s continue this in your office, you’re scaring the others,” He motioned to the rest of the gym which had half vacated, “At least then we can talk privately.”
She huffed but relented, unclipping the bag from its fastening. Picking up her towel she wiped the sweat that had gathered on her body and chugged down a bottle of water. Eóghan waited patiently for her to finish before walking alongside her to her office. A two minute walk away.
“This better be good, I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“Work that includes ruining the gym equipment? Sounds like tough work to me.” At his raised eyebrow and jesting tone, Titania simply shook her head at her Beta’s antics.
Opening the office door they both entered, “If I hadn’t let off steam then nothing would’ve been done,” She ran a hand through her hair before sitting behind her desk, “It was necessary.”
“Well the events being organized, the food is set, although I am disappointed there’s no hog but the Bison will do nicely. Music is set up and we have ourselves a dancefloor. Apart from rounding everyone up, there’s not much else to do.”
“And you want to talk about what exactly then, Eóghan?” She asked exasperated, her full attention on the male in front.
Shutting the door he sat down on the leather couch. “I’ve spoken to the Doctor...” He let the sentence sink in and from the storm brewing within Titania’s eyes, he was best to let it settle.
“That old bastard...” She hissed, none too happy.
“Aye, it’s nothing I didn’t know. No matter how hard you try to conceal it, I know darn well that you’re not fine, you’re not okay and you’re letting the broken bond ruin you.”
Her eyes held his, “Look at you! Have you not seen yourself?” Eóghan scolded.
She leaned back in her chair and for what seemed like the fiftieth time today, ran a hand through her hair, which recently had decided to fall out. Cussing her sharp-eyed Beta and the Doctor that couldn’t see to keep his mouth shut; Titania kept her guard up but indulged the closest person she had to a companion.
“I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. The pain is nothing I haven’t handled, at least then Nathan won’t have to.”
Enraged at the lack of care for herself Eóghan countered, “Sorry what? Alpha, he’s done nothing but criticise, mock and undermine you the whole time he’s been here. I don’t mind him as a person but when it comes to you he does not deserve to be your mate.”
Not agreeing with her Beta at all she leveled her gaze to his, “To you, maybe not but to put him through a pain that’s soul destroying. No wolf deserves that and it’s better me than him. Someone who knows how to deal with it.”
Raising a hand to gesture, “This is knowing how to deal with it? This is not a simple bond, he is your mate, your destined and you may have handled the past three bonds but not this one. You need to be careful!”
He didn’t stop as her eyes swirled with the power of her wolf. Instead, he fought for what he believed in: her.
“You have no care in the world for yourself but your wolves look up to you and what do they think when you’re slowly killing yourself? Over what exactly? Alpha I will not idly sit back and watch you disappear. Not over my dead body.”
Titania growled low and rich. Not liking the aggressive stance nor dominant vibes her Beta, an ex-Alpha, was throwing her way. This was her pack, her land and in her eyes, only she knew how and what she was capable of, not something any wolf but she could determine.
She rose, the hair on the back of her neck prickling with the anticipation of her wolf. “I know what I’m capable of Eóghan. And I suggest right now you back off.” Her teeth flashed as Eóghan’s eyes gleamed dark, “Your concerns have been noted even though if you’d experienced what I have you’d see where I’m coming from.”
With the melancholy that now filled the room, Eóghan calmed. His wolf ears pricked at the information Titania was willingly sharing, something she didn’t usually do.
“I still think you should break the bond and reject him back. This is doing nothing for you.”
Having had enough of where the conversation was leading, she stood, signaling with a simple look that she was done. “Your opinion. My life.”
The conversation lingered with Titania until that night while she attempted to tame her hair. The raven locks refused to cooperate and growing irritated, she rubbed some mouse into it before deciding that was enough. Applying some dark eyeshadow and liner with a dark crimson lipstick, to cover up any lasting signs of fatigue, she eyed the black dress on the bed. She had evaded dresses for years, not liking the reminder they gave of her past. How her previous bondmates loved it when she looked prim and proper, dressed in everything from pearls to gem encrusted ballgowns at formal events, so ever since she avoided them like the plague that they were.
With hooded eyes, she grabbed the offending item of clothing and deciding that the past was the past; she walked into the bathroom. Ready to not let fear dominate her. She was a twenty-six-year-old woman, and she would not be afraid of a measly dress. How belittling.
She emerged, uncomfortable but feeling that little bit lighter as the black silk fluttered over her body. It was a simple garment. Black spaghetti straps, a deep backline and a long slit up the side. It screamed sex appeal over trophy wife, something that Titania long since preferred.
She didn't wait on Brett getting ready as she made her way to the thrumming set-up of the pack grounds. He was a man, he could walk himself. The party was in full swing. Music blared through the grounds, filling the sounds of nature with deep beats and cheerful tunes. Chatter sounded throughout as wolves from all over Europe mingled and conversed, mates finding each other once again. Faces from all packs, even the ones from afar, had tribal facepaint and two of the French Alpha's had worn kilts- in thanks for Titania's warm welcome. The dark sky was illuminated by fairy lights strung up from tree to tree. Torches were lit, a Bison hung from a spit and a buffet was set up around a campfire. Light and music, happiness and freedom all in one meeting. A euphoric mix and Titania couldn’t help but let her lip tilt upwards, everything she had dreamed of for her pack was coming together.
Alpha Brett appeared alongside her, having given her a wide berth since arriving and his own lips curled upwards at her reaction to the festivities. Adorning a traditional kilt, the tartan from his family name, he extended his arm for Titania. With a glance to tell him that she meant business, she hesitantly looped her arm through his and let him escort her forwards. At first, the contact bothered her but quickly became captivated by the beauty of her grounds to let the touch bother her and instead took it all in. The utter joy from the wolves radiating through the chill on the wind. Even the moon shone on the event, her rays only serving to add to the atmosphere.
Alpha Brett’s stoic posture loosened at the sight of his wolves relaxing and laughing. “I must say, this is a view to behold.”
Titania’s expression eased also, for nothing made her smile more than her pack satisfied and right now, cheers of rejoicing and excitement echoed through the night. Compelling her mood to brighten, if only slight.
"This is what being an Alpha is all about."
Brett stole a quick glance at Titania. The glow from the torches accentuating what beauty she was graced with. It was subtle, but the want was everpresent deep within his eyes. "I couldn't agree more."
He watched her as she joined right in the festivities, Eóghan and Garth grabbed her to join the traditional dance of the Dashing White Sergeant. Where two trios join together, a very old Scottish dance. Those who knew it paved the way to those who did not, bringing Scottish culture to the different cultures of Europe. Titania enjoyed dances with Garth, Eóghan, and even Alpha Brett as they embraced their roots. The very origins of their culture.
Laughs. Glee. Happiness pranced in the moonlit night alongside the dancers. When the bagpipes, played by Colton and drummers sounded, couples joined for the Gay Gordons and Titania found herself without a partner. About to sit down she was surprised when sparks flew up against her arms as a male bowed in front. Nathan offered his arm and was pleasantly surprised when she accepted.
Eóghan watched skeptically in the background, spinning the partner in his arms he made sure to keep a keen eye on the Alpha pair. He may not have a high opinion of the male, but he kept his reservations hoping his Alpha knew that she was dancing with fire and that he was on the sidelines waiting to aid her if she got burnt.
They twirled and spun. Following the music and while Nathan struggled to memorize the steps, Titania showed him the way; just like her ancestors had shown her. With him wearing a traditional kilt and her in her elegant black dress, they looked the pair. Electricity darting off them in every direction, chemistry gripping them both by their strings as they got caught up in each other.
Nathan admired her dark beauty. Angelic features framed by make-up, enhancing the eyes, lips, and hair he seemed to overlook. He was lost. So hopelessly lost in the blue depths that held so many secrets and so much pain. He looked down to his mate to see the elegance she possessed with a hint of softness. Something that caused his mouth to open. Alpha Titania seemed... content, an emotion he never thought would cross the usual cold appearance she usually wore.
While staring at the ruggedly handsome appearance of her own destined, Titania was equally as lost. Harsh angles of his foreign features, a strong stubbled jaw, and cheekbones that seemed like they were carved from the Gods above. The vivid hazel eyes drawing her impossibly closer and she felt the undercurrent of their connection as if she already knew him like the back of her hand. It was profound. Closed off all her life it was odd to consider someone as deep within her as he was yet on other levels it was if she didn’t know him in the slightest.
He decided to break the silence, “Your smile is beautiful.”
She froze at the compliment and Nathan saw the walls erect behind her eyes, the moment of happiness disappearing before his eyes.
“Thanks,” was her curt reply.
Nathan stumbled with the next move and Titania guided him. His eyes widened in fascination at the abrupt change in her. From an apparently detached wolf to someone who reflected the mood of her wolves perfectly, like a true Alpha who was content when her own wolves were.
His hand found her hand once again and pin prickles caused his skin to raise. The very feeling of their skin to skin contact forcing unwanted, to Nathan, emotions to the surface. His wolf was basking in this precious time with his mate, so much so, he was starting to push Nathan's restraint. Gulping deeply, he steeled himself.
“Don’t think I’ll ever get used to this kind of dancing.” He muttered distastefully.
Titania frowned, “Just because you’re not good at it doesn’t mean the dance itself is at fault. This kind of dancing goes back to our ancestral Scottish roots. After practice, it flows easily.”
Nathan stumbled once again and cursed under his breath. “For you maybe.” He ended up standing on Titania’s heeled foot, “Fuck!”
Titania couldn’t help but let a giggle escape her red lips and it was as if Nathan’s whole world stopped right there and then. Unembarrassed he stared right at her, the musical noise so remarkable, rare and extraordinary that he couldn’t help himself. It was clear to see that she didn’t do it often from the gruff undertone but it was delightful to his ears none the less.
Eóghan caught the noise and snapped his head to hers. Seeing her so carefree in that exact snapshot made his heart tremble. A smile forced itself upon his face and he continued his own dance, hoping, with both his hands that Titania found what she needed.
She regained her composure after catching him staring, “What?” She questioned.
“Nothing. Absolutely, positively nothing.” Nathan rambled, hoping she didn’t catch the stutter his heart made at such a noise coming from her.
“For this dance, you only need to know five moves, if you can’t get that after this long then I have no hope.” She badgered watching as his foot once again landed on her foot, “and standing on your partner’s foot is not part of the dance.”
“I’m sorry, my family always said I had two left feet and no amount of practice will ever change that. It’s a disease.”
Nathan was astounded at how easy it was to converse with her. Pushing past the rumors and hatred he could see why they were bonded together, and that thought in itself was what scared him.
“For your sake it better not be contagious.”
Her cherry lips tilted for the third time that night and Nathan felt his heart blossom. They continued to dance and the charged tension between them only continued to grow. At the end of their third dance, they bowed to each other, sharing a sly look before departing.
The pain of her broken heart lessened while in Nathans company, but when separated it started to hum louder, demanding her mates presence. It dug and caused her face to stiffen but even she couldn’t help but enjoy the night. She was a strong woman and after so many broken bonds it was nice to feel that spark just once, if even for a few mere minutes.
The thrill of the event coursed through her, each of the bonds attached to her packmates feeding into her emotions. Making her feel so much more lightweight and she floated around the entirety of the night, fleeting from the drinks table, to carving the first piece of Bison they had hunted, to observing the new mates that had paired in the meantime.
The Scottish band had lifted her spirits and it reminded her of her home, her first family. But she shut down that line of thought, a family that did not contact their daughter after being bonded was not worth thinking about.
With a glass of prosecco in her right hand, she sat, legs crossed on the grass as she inspected the expanse of the night sky above her head. The lack of pollution made for a clearer sky and she could see constellations performing their own dances, in tune with the nature that they looked down upon from the heavens.
A few glasses later, a familiar buzz shot through her veins and she relaxed once more. Appreciating the sight before her, she made her way to a bench and sighed. The stars twinkled above her, passing as much strength as they possibly, and physically could through the large stretch of space between them.
What a world we live in, she thought to herself as she finished her sixth glass and wandered, content, back to the festivities that were only just beginning.