Harvey walked closer to the golden wolf but Archer started to back away. He was afraid of Harvey. He had been growing up constantly being told that werewolves were bad news and now he was one of us.
Archer was now as close to the wall as he could get and he was trapped. There was no way out unless he attacked for which the chances were next to zero since he could barely stand up.
Harvey sat down next to him and ran his hand through Archer's fur. "What happened, Archer?" Archer couldn't respond with words so he whimpered instead.
"I am so sorry that this has happened to you. I wish there was a way to undo it..." I felt a little offended by his words. He was basically saying that being a werewolf was next to the worst thing in the world but I also understood why he said those exact words to Archer. He needed to calm him down.
"I know that the next while will be a struggle but it's not all bad." We all turned our attention to him. "My wife, Diana... Do you remember those stories?" He asked Archer. Archer did his best to form something that could be a nod.
"There is something I haven't told you about her... She was a werewolf. Just like Rieka." Archer looked like someone who didn't believe what he was hearing.
"Actually, she was exactly like Rieka. Same bloodline, same character, same appearances. She looks just like her, " Harvey said and smiled at me. "She was Icarus's sister and he killed her because of me. I'm sorry that I haven't told you before but it's not something that I have been fond of sharing with everyone."
Harvey took a deep breath before he continued. "I have seen a lot of my soldiers turn by the bite but that was so long ago. When times were different. I had no idea..." He sighed. "But I can help you..."
"What do you mean by helping him?" Shay said before I could. "I have picked up a few tricks in my time, so don't worry. I know what I'm doing."
Harvey got on his knees and started poking Archer along his spine. Then he broke the pattern and buried his fingers into Archer's shoulder.
Archer shrieked and then he started to change. Archer's bones were breaking again and the paws turned into hands.
"Quick, Everly! Grab the sheets, " Harvey called. She did as she was told and Harvey covered Archer's naked body.
Shay had grabbed me from behind and wrapped me in his arms. He meant to protect me if Archer decided to strike. Harvey noticed. "He's not going to do anything, Shay. In fact. A few weeks ago, he started roaming around like a body without a soul. He stopped eating and spent all his time alone in the woods. I think he was looking for her. Not to kill her but to make amends. He hasn't been talking to any of us since. Not even me. I think he blames us for ruining another relationship."
Shay wasn't convinced and didn't let go of me but I had felt Archer's sorrow. I just hadn't known what it was.
Archer was back to his normal human form, only covered by the sheet. He was still sweating but he no longer seemed to experience any physical pain. Harvey helped him get up from the floor and onto the bed.
"How are you feeling, buddy?" Harvey asked. "... Groggy..." Archer answered. He looked almost surprised to hear his own voice again.
It was weird seeing him without the bandages and the blood. I could see that it was him but he had changed so much.
His baby face was now a man's. A messy beard was covering his mouth and his hair was shorter than Shay's. He looked skinny but Harvey also said that he hadn't been eating properly. His hands looked rough. Mistreated. Scars that I hadn't seen before was all over his body. One on the right side of his face too. What the hell happened to him?
His eyes travelled along the floor and ended at my feet. He slowly lifted his head and met my eyes. I knew that my face had worry written all over it but also fear. I had known him for so long but right now, he felt like a stranger.
His eyes quickly found their way to the floor once again and he buried his face in his hands. "Harvey... I'm sorry..." He mumbled. Harvey smiled and looked at me. "I don't think that it's me you owe an apology."
I took a step forward but Shay pulled me back. He didn't trust Archer at all. "Shay... I know that I have to be careful and I know that you're right here if anything happens. I promise to be careful, " I whispered into his arms. He sighed loudly but let me go.
Harvey stepped back as I came closer. I stopped a few steps before I reached him. He looked up but quickly looked away again.
No one said anything and it was quiet for a while. Then Archer took the initiative. "I am so sorry, Rieka... I know that those words will never be enough but I don't know what else to do..." He still didn't look at me but kept resting his head in his palms.
"I have been restless lately... It all started a month ago. After Harvey talked to me... It got me thinking. Thinking about what I threw away. That involves you as well, Everly..."
Everly held her breath hearing her name from Archer. "I'm sorry that I blamed you, Rieka. You were nothing but a child and your mother never intended for Icarus to escape. I haven't been able to sleep... To eat... I miss what the three of us had and I know that it will never be the same but I..."
He stopped himself and couldn't get the last of the sentence passed his mind. "...would like to start over?" I finished for him. I had slowly approached him while he had been talking and had narrowed the distance between us to the point where I could reach him.
He still didn't look at me. He was too ashamed of himself. Of the fact that he was hoping for forgiveness. I kneeled down and put my hand on his knee.
"Archer... I don't think that I can forget what has happened..." I could see that he was trying to hide the pain that my words provided. I sighed. "And I don't think that we can get back what we lost. I don't believe that we can go back to the way it was..."
I was letting him sweat a little. "...But I can forgive you." He looked up and I could see that a tear had rolled down his cheek even though he had tried his hardest to repress it. "It will take a while but you're part of our pack now and we..."
Archer didn't listen to the rest of my sentence before he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me in for a hug.
Shay immediately reacted and stepped forward but Harvey stopped him by blocking his way. "Let him have it, Shay. He has been tormenting himself for so long. Let him have it." Shay wasn't happy about it but accepted Harvey's words.
"Archer..." I said, trying to breathe. "... You're squeezing me too hard..." He let go right away and I gasped for air. "Sorry!" He said franticly. "It's okay, " I laughed. "We'll teach you how to control it." He smiled embarrassedly.
Everly had dared herself to come closer. "Can we really trust you, Archer..?" She carefully asked. He got up and it made her step back. "Everly... I'm sorry... I shouldn't have acted the way I did... I shouldn't have pushed you away. Can you forgive me..?"
She didn't waste a minute. She threw herself into his open arms. "You're an idiot, Archer! Where have you been! I have so much to tell you!" She practically screamed.
I wanted to join their little bundle of joy but Harvey grabbed my wrist before I could. "Hey!" I shouted surprised. "Harvey?" Shay said. "What are you doing?"
Harvey had twisted my hand so he could look at my palm. "Where did you get this?" He asked. I couldn't answer. It had appeared after I touched Icarus.
"Answer me, Rieka!" He shouted. Everyone was quiet and looking at us. "Rieka! Did you engage with Icarus?" Shay looked horrified. I couldn't lie to him and I certainly couldn't procrastinate it anymore.
"I..." Everyone was waiting for my answer. I looked at the floor to avoid their eyes. "He caught me in the forest... Just as I found you, Harvey. But he didn't hurt me! He just talked!" I tried to avoid the scolding I knew was coming by explaining that I wasn't hurt.
"But you hurt him, didn't you..?" Harvey asked with a very serious expression. I looked at him with big eyes. "How did you know?"
He turned my hand and made me face the mark in the palm of my hand. The circle and the diagonal line crossing the palm.
"This is the symbol of the witch. A symbol of purity."