Beloved Runt: Part I

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2- Artemis

Today was just like any other day. Or so it seemed. I way more energy than usual and I was taking full advantage of it. After making breakfast for the men I’d gone straight into full housekeeping mode. I didn’t mind it. Made me feel useful especially when there are many ways I could not be. The warriors in the packhouse always appreciated coming back to a clean space.

It started with some laundry that had been neglected over the past few days. As I was collecting the various items left about, I came to a stop in front of one of the guest rooms. Our pack house was filled with many, but they were never used as we never had any guests. Still my wolf urged me to enter the room. It was the largest room in the house and was covered with a layer of dust from the lack of use. I had been in here many times. Usually it’s just to put away some extra laundry or to open a window to air out the house. This time standing in the room I felt uneasy. As if it was unfinished.

I looked around the room pausing at a dresser on one side. Curious I put down the basket of clothes and rummaged through the dresser drawers. Inside were some abandoned items of clothing. Whoever they belonged too much of been giant. Even Dalton didn’t wear sizes this big. Seemed a shame to let them sit abandoned. Before I thought of it more, I collected all the clothes and threw them in the basket. It wouldn’t hurt to wash them. Normally just doing the regular laundry would wipe me out for the day, here I was giving myself extra loads and I didn’t feel the least bit tired.

Looking around the guest room it seemed almost sad how musty it had gotten. Without thinking and went and grabbed some cleaning supplies and began sweeping and dusting everything. I opened the windows to air out the rooms then changed all the bedding and fluffed the pillows. I even found a vase to put on the desk table. I would have to have Edwin get some flowers from the green house to fill it.

After three hours of straitening and cleaning the room looked warm and welcoming. I still had to finish the clothes I found in the dresser, but it was otherwise done. I felt proud in my accomplishment but a little sad knowing no one would enjoy it. No one ever traveled this far north to visit. Taking one last look around the room a gave a small smile before turning off the light and leaving.

As I walked down the hallway, I saw a clock read 5:30. Dalton would be back from his patrol soon with the rest of his crew. They would be hungry and mostly only have enough energy to make a pile of sandwiches before climbing up to their rooms leaving the kitchen a mess. We can do better than that.

Leaving out of the pack house I went to the meat locker we kept stocked. Most of it was deer and wild boar but when cooked properly it made a warm meal. I decided to grab some chunks of deer. Back in the kitchen I looked through the pantry and saw potatoes, celery, all the workings for a great stew.

I didn’t mind doing housework here and there, but the kitchen was where I was in my element. That or the garden. I loved putting together different combinations of ingredients to make a complete dish. Being so remote my ingredients were limits but that didn’t stop my enthusiasm. Everything seemed to be going my way. The roux I made didn’t burn and the vegetables caramelized perfectly. I zoned into my work no paying attention to how much of each ingredient I really put in. Lost in my thoughts, I went through the motions of cooking. Soon the kitchen was filled with the aroma of the hearty stew I was making. I went a little overboard this time with how much I made but knew it wouldn’t go to waste. Whatever everyone didn’t eat tonight would be polished off tomorrow.

I was pulling the loaves of bread out of the oven when I heard the kitchen door open and turned to see Dalton rushing in.

“Hey! I didn’t expect you for another hour. You’re back early today,” I cried cheerfully as I closed the oven. I set the loaves of bread on the rack to cool before wiping the flower off my hands and turning back to Dalton. “I hope you’re hungry. I made a lot by accident.” Dalton looked at the bread and giant pot of stew.

“It smells amazing in here,” he sighed. “You must have been in here for hours.”

I shrugged one shoulder at him “No. Not too long. I wanted to have it ready by the time everyone got back. Better than cold sandwiches?” I smiled at Dalton. I have known him all my life and he is one of the dearest people too me. Almost like a brother. Dalton smiled back but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. Something is bothering him. “What’s going on? Everything alright?”

“Yeah,” Dalton replied back. Almost a little too quickly. “I’m just worried about you. I hope all this didn’t wear you out. Maybe you should go take a rest.” Dalton was always fussing over me. Telling me to rest or lay down. I wanted to do my part. I didn’t want the pack to think I wasn’t doing my part.

“Dalton I’m fine. In fact, today was a good day. Haven’t felt this good in a while.” I turned to see Dalton narrowing his eye inspecting me.

“Are you sure you aren’t tired?”

“Nope.”

“No headaches?”

“No.” Dalton’s eyebrows scrunched together giving him worry wrinkles on his forehead. He wasn’t going to let it go. I dropped the rag I was holding with a sigh and crossed my arms before facing him dead on. “If I go downstairs to sit in my room will you stop worrying and relax?” Dalton’s face changed immediately into a heat melting grin. That was exactly what he wanted. “Fine I give up. Let me just grab the clean laundry and I will disappear.”

“You did laundry too?” he cried out surprised. “Are you sure you aren’t over doing it?” I walked away from him in a huff.

“Good night Dalton,” I called out instead of responding. I walked down the hallway to the washroom and gathered the laundry I had hung earlier, before going to the folding table. Once everything was folded, I left most of it in piles for various pack members to pick up. Only a small pile was left in the basket.

Grabbing the clothes, basket and all, I hobbled up the flights of stairs to the guest room I had cleaned. Without thinking I opened the door and walked in only to see a large older man in his 40’s sitting at the desk table. The man sprung to standing as I entered his face in a scowl obviously upset at having been walked in on.

Upon meeting his gaze, I let out a small shriek dropping the basket.

“Oh my, I’m so sorry. I had no idea anyone was in here.” My wolf wanted to dart and run from that spot but in my panic, I couldn’t make a decision to do so. It took a few minutes beore I could even look at the man I walked him on.

The man had dark hair and a short beard to match. He was huge! I would say even bigger the Dalton. His stance exuded power. His clothes however were snug on him. The sweats he was wearing wear 5 inches too short and the t-shirt looked like it was about the split at the seams. The clothes were obviously borrowed. I wonder which poor pack member they were from.

“Forgive me sir.” I tried to keep my voice steady and quickly readjusted myself so my good side was face more towards him. “Had I known I would most have definitely knocked.”

“What’s your name?” The man had a deep voice to math his huge frame.

“Artemis sir. Most people around here call me Artie.” I tried smiling to cover up my awkwardness. I think it only made it worse.

“What were you doing in here Artemis?” The man sounded annoyed and suspicious

“I was just putting away some clothes I had found and washed.” I quickly picked and raised the laundry basket as proof. See? Totally normal, not weird behavior. The man nodded seemingly satisfied with that answer

Now that my attention had somewhat returned to the clothes it gave me and idea.

“Actually sir, I think I might have something in here that would fit you better.” I set the basket down on the dresser and turned away hiding my right side more before rummaging through the folded clothes. I could hear the man walk closer to peer over my right shoulder. That made me a little nervous. I didn’t like people standing on my right side for obvious reasons. It mad me self concious. Finding what I thought could work I pulled out a pair of drawstring cotton pants and a linen shirt.

“Here we go.” I said holding out the garments. “They’re a little older in style but I think they would work out a lot better than what you’ve got.” The man grabbed the shirt and held it out looking at it thoughtfully.

“Thank you, Artemis. I appreciate it.” I just nodded my head n response.

“I’ll just leave the rest here. You can see if there anything else that will work for you.” The man looked at me and smiled softly nodding again.

“I will thank you.” With that I darted out of the room not wanting to be there a moment more. Once in the hallway I took a deep breath swallowing down my embarrassment. Dalton would kill me if he saw me now. Better if he didn’t know.

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