“Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.” -Faith Baldwin
Raven sucked in a hiss of pain and forced herself to straighten out her back. Behind her, Grace said nothing, but simply watched on. Her fingers clutching at the ends of her skirt.
It was unclear to both of them what exactly Grace was feeling, whether it was sympathy or disgust. It surprised Grace the determination in the female in front of her. If only Grace had a clue who Raven really was.
Grace made an attempt to open the door for her, but was harshly declined by Raven. She’d rather open the door herself, instead of looking like she needed help.
She stepped out of the now open door and had to blink a few times. It took her a moment, but she finally realized where she was. She was in the upstairs part of the omega houses. Where the lowest of low pack members lived, the closest the the border. First to die if there was an attack.
Raven snarled under her breath, her nose upturned at the thought of being compared to an omega. Grace stood like a statue behind her, even as she began to wobble down the hallway towards the stairway.
Her legs threatened to give away beneath her. Much of the muscles in her entire body had diminished, making it incredibly difficult for her to hold herself upright.
The house was extremely silent. But she had a very strong inclination that she wasn’t exactly alone in here with Grace.
The stairs led down towards the kitchen, where a stiff female was facing a sink, with her back turned toward Raven. Upon feeling her gaze on her back, the female straightened and pretended like she was doing something in the sink.
Raven snorted at the cowardice. The stench of fear and her own blood heavily saturated the room.
She leaned forward, using the table as a crutch as she weakly made her way toward the next doorway. Her vision was slightly blurred, but she could still understand where she was going.
Two males sat in the living room, watching TV with the volume all the way down. One dared to turn his head toward Raven, his eyes widening at the sight. He quickly turned his head back toward the TV.
Upstairs, Grace finally regained her thoughts and bounded down the stairs and found Raven limping toward the back door. Remembering the Alpha’s direct orders to her, Grace sped up behind her, placing a supporting hand on Raven’s back.
Grace had to force herself to look away from where her hand was, and to ignore the blood that now saturated her hand, and the open gashes at her fingertips. Disgust rolled through Grace, wanting nothing more than to recoil and shove the female away. Raven said nothing, accepting the small bit of support.
Grace reached past Raven to open the door for her this time. Raven was quickly losing energy, and couldn’t afford to be mad at Grace for it this time.
Raven blanched at the open door. She squinted her eyes to adjust to the sunlight, having not seen it for a while. It hurt her eyes.
Grace gently pushed her forward into the light. Her feet came into contact with cold grass, and Raven instinctively clenched her toes, feeling the grass between them. She hadn’t realized she’d been sweating, but the cool air outside quickly chilled her. Raven’s jeans became increasingly more uncomfortable, the material soiled and disgusting.
She inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with the fresh air of autumn. The air replenished her energy slightly, giving her the willpower to keep moving.
Raven opened her eyes again and waved off Grace’s hand. “I can walk by myself now.” Her voice sounded weak, even to her own ears.
Grace nodded softly, allowing Raven to continue.
The walk was slow and treacherous, Raven often pausing to regain her energy. They kept towards the treeline, avoiding the Lonely Tree field. The pack house was now in sight, along with the stage.
Raven gave no sign that the sight affected her, and kept moving. By the time the two had reached the pack house, it had been at least an hour or so since they had left the omega house.
Grace stopped Raven before she entered. “Wait here, I’ll be back in a minute.” She then disappeared inside.
Raven could faintly hear laughter inside, followed by a silence. She turned her back to the door and gazed at the red and yellow trees that seemed to stretch out forever. A soft breeze blew through them, causing a few leaves to float gracefully toward the ground.
She tilted her head up and inhaled as the breeze ruffled her hair, breathing in the smell of Fall. The air chilled the blood that was slowly trickling down her back, making it feel like sweat.
Minutes passed by until Grace finally came back outside. Grace was still not used to the sight of her back, and had to clench her fists before calling Raven’s name. “It’s okay to come inside now.”
Raven reached her hand out to Grace, who took it and helped her up the stairs that led into the pack house. This wasn’t the front door. Raven thought to herself. They’re trying to sneak me inside through the back door. Too ashamed to have everyone see me.
The back door was part of the living room, which was currently filled with average pack members. All eyes were on her as she entered, a silence filling the room. The music and chatter that had filled the room before was suddenly replaced by their quiet shame and confusion.
A mixture of emotions washed over her as she looked back at them. They were confused on how they should feel about seeing her. Or even as to why she was here.
Raven narrowed her eyes at them but continued her limp inside.
Raven could sense him before he had even entered the room. His aura reeked of pride and dominance, coating the room full of pack members. The stillness became heavier. Raven closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, taking the scent of her mate into her lungs. A deep hate for this male’s bloodline boiled within her, though his presence eased her pain.
“Welcome, Raven.” His voice was deep and husky, and she could feel him in front of her.
“Hello, Alpha.” Grace replied instead of her, her voice no longer holding the snappiness it did with Raven. Instead her voice was flirty, hinting her attraction toward him.
Raven opened her eyes, meeting the green ones of her mate. His face was in a neutral expression, ignoring the female who was trying to capture his attention behind Raven. Stubble decorated his face, like he hadn’t bothered to shave it recently.
Raven was taken back by this show of acceptance. When males found their mates, they no longer shaved their faces or hair, to show that they were taken males.
Grace, realizing she wasn’t going to be accepted, removed her hand from Raven’s back and quickly bowed to him like everyone else was. Raven didn’t know if he expected her to bow to him too, but either way she wasn’t going to.
He towered over her, having to tilt his head down to peer upon her dirtied face. Raven sucked in a breath, trying to calm her rapidly beating heart.
She reached her hand up, placing her palm against his cheek. Her thumb rubbed over his stubble softly, listening to the small scratching noise is made against the pad of her thumb. She wanted to hate him for who he was, but couldn’t bring herself to. She wanted to be the female she was, hardly a month ago. Ezekiel half leaned into her palm, his eyes closing with the sensation.
The room remained silent, reminding Raven that quite a few pack members were watching her openly caress their Alpha. She cleared her throat, her hand coming back down to her side. “Hello, Ezekiel.”
Everyone except Ezekiel and Raven cringed within themselves at the lack of title Raven used when addressing him. She was aware of what she had done, but she had little to care about at this point.
He seemed to acknowledge that fact as well, choosing not to comment on it. It was rude, and generally punishable by death, but he was willing to overlook the disrespect for the moment being.
“How are you feeling?” His voice sounded husky to her ears. He leaned in a little closer until she could feel his hot breath fanning over her ear, causing a ripple of pleasure to travel down her spine.
Raven shook herself out of the feeling, pulling away from the mate pull. She wasn’t going to easily forget he hoisted her up to her noose, or how he left her injured and alone in a room she wasn’t familiar with for Moon knows how long.
The same hand that had caressed his cheek she now placed on his chest, giving a small amount of pressure to signal that she wanted space from him. “If you want small talk, that’s going to have to happen on some other day.”
Grace sent an apologetic smile over Raven’s shoulder, moving her hand back to small of her back to guide her towards her room. Ezekiel allowed them to pass, his expression just as neutral as it had been.
It was quite a struggle to get Raven up all of those stairs, but they managed. Towards the last few steps, Raven was grimacing with the effort it took and the pain it placed on her back.
Every movement she made amplified the wounds that decorated her back, making everything she did more and more unpleasant. She had never felt more ashamed of herself.
Never had she pictured herself needed assistance to get up a few flights of stairs.
Her new room was a major improvement from the previous omega room. The walls were a deep violent, accompanied by black curtains that gave way to a balcony that overlooked the territory. The bed was big enough to fit four- not that she was going to test it out.
“Let me lay out some towels on the bed before you lay down. Don’t want you ruining those sheets too.” Grace said, although already on her way to get towels from the bathroom without even finishing her sentence.
Raven wasn’t even slightly mad at what she said though. It’d be a damn shame for the bed sheets to be ruined by her blood.
Grace came out of the bathroom in hand with two black towels, in which she peeled back the black covers and laid them out over the silk, burgundy sheets. Grace seemed much more nicer toward Raven, whether it be simply wanting to leave or pity.
She came back over to Raven and helped her into the bed, pulling the sheets up to her chin. “The pack doctor will be in sometime today to help dress your wounds and see what he can do about healing them. Cause I guess you’ll be here for a while.” The last part was mumbled, looking at the ground.
Raven’s sleepy eyes drifted over to Grace. “Thank you for the assistance. I’m sorry to have been a burden.” Truth be told, Raven actually meant the apology. She hadn’t meant for all of this to happen. She had been prepared to die that day, yet here she still was.
Grace look taken back by the thank you, to which she narrowed her eyes and left the room.
The pack doctor did indeed stop by that day, and ended up staying throughout the night. Mostly for company, and the other part to check that she would make it. He kept repeating how it was simply a miracle she hadn’t died in that omega house, with how serious her infections were and how much blood she had lost.
“I guess I was just meant to live.” Raven mumbled sarcastically sometime in the early morning before finally passing out.