Ghosts of Haunting Past

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Stars above me were bright, twinkling and shooting through the sky. If they were trying to tell me something, I didn’t understand them. No matter how hard I tried.

My hair lightly caressed my shoulders and arms, my body was silently floating in hot water.

While running I found a small pond. Hidden from the outside world by tall pine trees it looked almost eerie with steam coming up towards the night sky. It was easier to sort my thoughts in the deafening silence of this place.

I thought about my plans when the winter subsides, about the dinner at grandma’s. I thought about anything at least remotely interesting just to occupy my mind and forget a certain alpha, who for the first time didn’t order me to come at night.

The water was the perfect temperature, not too hot to burn the skin, but hot enough to soothe and dull any aches in your body.

Only the mental pains remained burdening my soul. Those were much more determined.

So I had to occupy my mind to give myself a break.

Binah came, along with her twins, while her mate refused. She told me she wasn’t happy about his behaviour. I didn’t mind though, there were a plenty nice people. Me and the kids felt welcomed in their tight circle.

Grandma made sure I talked to all of our visitors and that they got to know me enough to not believe any rumours about me. Some expressed their distrust with foxes at first, but later into the evening admitted that they were slowly changing their minds.

I was surprised to hear how the other species felt about my own. I was taught that they were stronger and so that we should either fear them or try to work around their obvious advantage if a fight was issued. I never thought about them fearing foxes in return, altough fear might have been a strong word in this case. I slowly started to understand their apprehension towards us.

To occupy my mind was a stupid decision, it dulled my senses.

While I was lost in my head I failed to notice someone breaking the silence around my newly discovered safe space.

When I heard crunches of dead leaves and hollow sticks it was too late and the intruder too close. There were no smells around so I figured nobody knew of this place.

I moved quietly from a horizontal position to a crouch, water lightly flowing around my pale body. Submerged in the calm water up to my shoulders, I waited patiently.

More cracking reverberated around the trees surrounding my pond, but this was no sound of leaves, I would never mistake this sound for anything else. Bones made that sound, bones changing shape, and then joints popping back to better accommodate their new form.

However, before I could eavesdrop any more information a great figure slowly stepped out from behind the prickly branches of trees.

“Shouldn’t you be at the dinner with Maeve?” of course it was none other than the filthy alpha bear. Standing naked in front of me, demanding answers.

He knows her name? Grandma told me her name the first night of my stay at the bear’s den, because I was crying so loudly she feared I would wake up the children. She had to distract me.

I had to promise her not to tell anyone.

Why does he know her name and more importantly why did he say it in front of me as if he knew she told me? They must had spoken together.

Is she giving him information about us? He knew about the dinner.

“It ended some time ago,” I didn’t want to talk to him nor see him, especially not when there were no clothes between us. Thick concrete walls would have been great but sometimes you just can’t choose I guess.

“I see,” with that he started moving closer to the pond. I also began my move, shuffling back as far as possible until my back hit a rock wall. I watched him descend into the steaming water with a troubled expression on my face. Thankfully the alpha didn’t come any closer, just sat down right opposite of me and spoke again, “How’d you find this spring, it’s quite far and well hidden from the pack.”

I shrugged my shoulders, water rippling lightly around me.

“Hm,” he kept looking at me, my gaze not leaving his. To someone else we must had resembled two people having a staring contest.

This time I was the one to break the silence, “Why did you not want to see me tonight?” I needed to know if it had something to do with our protection.

“Did you miss me?” light smirk playing across his lips, how full of himself can one be?

“Hardly,” I regarded him with a sarcastic smile myself.

“I wanted to be alone,” he looked elsewhere, it seemed like a genuine answer though.

“I thought this place was beautiful,” I went on.

“It is,” he countered, still looking somewhere else, beyond the pond and the trees around it.

“Not since you came here,” I stood up, drops of water cascaded down my naked breasts, lower, around my stomach and further down my legs. His eyes snapped to me, watching them hungrily. I felt like there was no point in being shy, he’d seen it all.

Even worse, he’d touched it all.

I quickly got out of the hot spring and made my way around it towards the village of wolves. As soon as I was engulfed by trees I shifted into a lean rusty fox, and ran home. I left the same way he came.

When I came home I questioned grandma whether she was giving the bear any information. She told me that she hadn’t talked to him ever since he made the decision to take me into bed and most certainly didn’t tell him about the dinner.

When I asked her why he knew her name her kind face stiffened a bit before she simply replied that as her alpha he ought to know. I couldn’t pry any more information from her after that, so I wished her good night and went to our room.

What she told me was enough, call it whatever you want, but I trusted her that she had told me the truth.

Time doesn’t wait for you to notice it slipping by. I didn’t notice it at first, but when the first snowfall came, my children started calling grandma’s home our home and Binah and I started sharing our secrets together.

A month went by. I had been growing accustomed to my strange situation, watched the kids make new friends and learn new things from the wolves with a heavy heart. The more they grew accustomed to this place the harder it would be to tear them away.

I wasn’t planning on staying.

I thought about our possibilities as I lay in bed at night, after leaving the alpha’s house. Where would we go, how far would we get?

Maybe somewhere south, where there are no harsh winters or cruel alphas.

I couldn’t stop my mind going back to the awful months after the attack, when food was scarce and smiles on our faces even less likely to occur. How we struggled with nightmares at night and bellyaches during the day.

My thoughts went even further, to the night of the attack. Our people left behind in the arms of villains. How many had managed to survive the horrors? I needed to know what happened, if our enemies killed everyone.

Maybe some survived and returned to our ruined village.

When I got out of bed the next morning I went straight to grandma with my plan.

“Are you sure you’re ready my dear?” was her only question. She didn’t try to persuade me, nor stop me.

She was sitting in a rocking chair in the living room, rocking lightly back to front, front to back, looking out of the window towards the snow covered land, her long pepper and white hair braided in a loose braid. She must had been a beautiful woman when she was younger, you could still see it in her face, hidden slightly by a veil of wrinkles.

“I need to do this to relieve my mind grandma. Images of my people alone and scared, fighting for their lives amongst ruins of their old homes won’t let me sleep at night.”

She smiled lightly before answering me, “I understand your sorrow Megara, but know that you might come here with more if you go back there.”

I didn’t say anything, just nodded my head. She knew she was right and she knew that I knew it too.

I turned around heading for the door when she spoke again, “And for the love of Goddess, tell the kids and the alpha about your trip. I don’t want to be the one listening to all the crying and yelling when they wake up and don’t find you here.”

I had to laugh at her remark, “I don’t suppose you think the alpha would be the one crying.”

“You never know,” with that she finally looked at me with a devious smirk creasing the corners of her mouth.

I left then, I liked her very much and the children loved her as their own grandmother. But she was a very strange woman and I feared how she always seemed to be right.

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