Epilogue | Hakota
TWO YEARS LATER
My heart thundered in my chest, I could feel my pulse in my throat making it hard to swallow. I stared up at the massive castle before me. Built by my ancestors and lived in by generation after generation of lycans, my own home during the first years of my life before we were chased out by the hunters.
The last I had heard of my pack's location was two years ago when Cleo had informed me that she had sent them all here to protect each other before luring me into her trap with the Lunars and then left me to die while her bargain rang through my ears.
I truly had cut off all ties with her and my pack after that day. In fact, I didn't even know for certain that my pack was still here. All I had was the promise of a goddess who had screwed me over more times than I could count.
However, her words were all I had, so I climbed the stairs to the castle gate. The heavy cast iron grate greeted me with its foreboding presence. I looked up at the guard tower, peering into the windows for the sentry on duty.
The guard was staring back at me, awestruck, his mouth hanging open slightly. Although I had no recollection of him, he seemed to know who I was and was having a hard time regaining his senses.
"Can I enter or...?" I called up to him, gesturing at the gate.
His mouth snapped shut, and he paled, jumping to attention and brought up the gate for me. I wondered if perhaps he thought I was just a phantom and it was only when I had spoken that he realized I was not a ghost.
I passed through the gate, now one step closer to my destination. The whole circumstance seemed surreal to me as I walked through the courtyard. Never would I have thought that meeting my own pack would cause the amount of anxiety I was feeling. My gut felt like it was gnawing itself into oblivion from the nerves dancing through me.
There was now only one door standing between me and them, and I dreaded seeing their faces. I was scared of what I may find in their eyes. Would it be disappointment? Loathing? Anger? Forgiveness?
I hoped for the better, but it seemed unlikely. The last time I had spoken to most of them had not been on good terms or an enjoyable time. Would they resent me for what I had done?
I would, was I in their place.
I had abandoned them. Me their alpha.
I had dragged them with me into a war and had disappeared without so much as a word.
I was a failure to them.
So when I lifted my hand to the last door that would allow me into the castle, I was not surprised to see my hand shaking. I stared at my hand, watching my fingers quiver, before I curled them into a fist. I poised my hand to knock and attempted several times to bring it down only to halt just before making contact each time.
With a shaky breath, I let my forehead thunk against the door, my balled hand now laying flat on the surface.
I had to do this, I know I did. I was only alive for this very reason.
Mustering up my courage, I shoved open the door before I could think twice, and quickly stepped inside, closing the door behind me and sagging against it. I let out a breath of relief that I was now inside.
Allowing myself a moment to collect myself, I pushed off the door and began walking through the seemingly empty castle. I was silent as I walked the halls, my boots not making a single sound. While making my presence known would have been easier for me to find people, as they would most likely come to me, I was terrified to run into them. At least this way, I could approach them without their knowledge and at the last minute I could decide if I wanted to face them or not.
It was cowardly of me, but I couldn't help but feel nauseous at the thought of a confrontation.
For the love of Lune, who knew that two years away from my family would turn me into such a scaredy cat? I was being pathetic, not acting worthy of being the alpha of the lycans.
Steeling my nerves, I forced myself to peak into all of the rooms only to find each and every one empty. Upon opening the fifth door, which happened to be just one of numerous bedrooms, I could see the obvious signs of habitation that I had not in the others. Swallowing down the clog in my throat, I moved to back out of the room only for my leg to knock into something behind me.
I twisted around to see a small child on his rump, rubbing his nose in an attempt to soothe it. Behind him was a girl the same age, staring at me with big doe eyes. They both had matching brown eyes, and faces so similar I knew they had to be twins.
I crouched down to the boy, knowing exactly whose child he was. It brought tears to my eyes to see two healthy pups born of my pack. There had been a time when I believed I would never see the next generation of my kind. But here they were, living proof that the lycans would live on.
"Sasha? Cahtta?" A voice called from down the hallway. I swung my head to the side and watched as the familiar male approached. "Where did you go, you rascals? You know your mother gets worried when–" he cut himself off as he spotted me.
Sani was frozen in place as he looked down at me. His kids scuttled over to him and wrapped themselves around his legs. Absently, he placed his hand on top of Sasha's head as the boy pressed his cheek into his father's leg.
Slowly rising to my feet, I stayed where I was, not sure if my presence would be welcomed.
"H—Hakota?" Sani's voice got stuck in his throat.
The male turned to his children. Grasping their shoulders he told them very seriously, "Go to your mother." The kids scampered off, vanishing around a corner.
I watched as they disappeared and then look back at Sani only to find him crashing into me. I stumbled back several steps as he embraced me, clutching me tightly. "I thought you'd never come back," he whispered hoarsely.
I wrapped my own arms around him now, hugging him close. I let my tears run freely, happy to be in the arms of my pack member again. Two years of isolation knew how to break a man.
"Where are the others?" I asked when we pulled apart.
"Outside, they were all in the gardens, watching the pups but then I had to take Cahtta and Sasha to the bathroom." Sani flicked his head, "Come, I knew they will all be eager to see you."
We took all of five steps when my whole pack came into view. Sitka was on me in an instant, hitting me with so much force I went sprawling across the ground. I looked up at the seething male, rubbing my stomach where he had knocked the breath out of me. I blinked up at him to see angry tears running down his face. "Sitka?" I breathed.
The male yanked me to my feet and did a complete one-eighty, hooking his arm around my shoulder and smashing us together in a hug. "You stupid, stupid, idiot," he growled. "How dare you just leave us without a word."
"I'm sorry," I replied, "I'm sorry."
"You came back."
"Of course I came back," I said, pulling away from him.
"I looked for you Hakota. I searched for you but I could never find you."
"I know Sitka."
"Why?" He asked in a broken voice. "You're my friend, Hakota, my brother. I would have helped you."
"I know Sitka, but this was something I needed to do myself."
The male shook his head in denial, "Never, you never need to do anything yourself. Never again." And I knew it was true, looking at all of the faces here, and not a single one of them holding any animosity or hatred towards me. Frayah was holding her pups, one on each hip, Sani now by her side with an arm wrapped around her. Syn was standing between them and the twins who both signed me the same message of 'I missed you' at the same time. Roshan and Innoko stood side by side and I was overjoyed as I looked upon the female.
"Your pregnant?" I asked.
She nodded in conformation, her eyes glassy with unused tears.
They were all here, everyone expect for one.
It took me a few seconds to get her name to form on my tongue but eventually I was able to say, "Cleo?"
They all looked at me and my heart dropped, immediately assuming the worst. She didn't want to see me. Even after all this time, even though I had done as she asked, she was still never going to forgive me. Lune had been wrong, she had lied to me.
"Hakota," Frayah said my name gently and I looked up at her. She flicked her chin up and it was then that I realized they weren't looking at me, they were looking behind me.
I whirled around to come face to face with Cleo. I had to look down at her, forgetting how small she was in comparison. "Cleo," I croaked.
She said nothing, she was unmoving and emotionless.
I felt my heart crack.
"Cleo," I said again and fell to my knees before her. I didn't care if the others saw. I didn't care what they would think of me. This was between me and my mate and there was no way I was walking out of here today without her forgiveness. Even if that meant getting on my knees before her and begging her to forgive me. "Cleo please," I pleaded with her. Hoping she could see how broken I was.
Cleo looked behind me and I could hear the shuffle of feet as the others decided it was best to give us some space. She looked back down at me. It was silent between us. For how long I didn't know. Seconds, minutes, hours? All I knew was the silence was too long and tortuous. Then finally her lips parted and she said, "Well, here you are."
A small smile broke through on my face. Her statement was so like her that I couldn't help but smile at her bluntness. "Yes, here I am," I concurred.
"So you were able to pick yourself up from where I left you after all," she remarked, looking at the scars on my neck that now matched hers.
I shook my head, my smile falling at the reminder. "Where I had failed, you succeeded," I told her and watched her eyes go wide. "I died Cleo, you killed me."
"Lune," I told her truthfully, "She brought me back. Gave me quite the earful beforehand though. She told me this was our last chance Cleo."
"You—You saw Lune?" She stuttered.
I nodded solemnly. The memory was not one I was fond of. The goddess had been quite angry when I had faced her. After her lengthy lecture on messing up her plans and not being able to just let the mate bond do its thing and instead, and I quote 'using my dumbass alpha head over my pure goddess given loving heart' she had informed me this was my last chance to prove myself. She told me not to mess this up because this was the lycans last chance at peace with the hunters and if I wanted to save my race I would just love my mate like I was supposed to do in the first place. She had then told me to live out my two years of exile and get my head on straight and to go back to the castle in two years to face my mate and pack. Then I had been violently shoved back in my body and left to fend for myself. "I'd rather not talked about her, if you don't mind."
Cleo fell to her own knees then, her hands moving to rest flat on her thighs, "And even after I killed you, actually killed you, you still came back?"
I nodded again, "Of course, I told you I would do whatever it took to earn your forgiveness. I forgive you for what you did to me," I said, "but will you forgive me?"
"How? How can you forgive me after all that? I took your life, I took away your pack. I still had Terrin but I didn't even allow you one of your friends."
"I think that this is beyond our control, that it always was. Lune never gave us a choice and I think we both hated that. All of this time, every decision we've made that has torn us apart, was us trying to gain control. Neither of us wanted to trust the mate bond so we used our heads too much to think of reasons why we'd never work instead of trusting our hearts to find reasons we should."
"I've never really trusted anyone," Cleo told me softly, "so why would I trust some goddess I had never seen?"
"I know Cleo, there's no need to explain to me. I've had two years to think about everything, but I know what I want know, I know what I need."
"A lot has happened these past two years for me as well," Cleo admitted. "I gave full control of the Hunter pack to Coda but with a warning that if things go to shit between the hunters and lycans again I will not hesitate to march in there and beat him up. I have taken on role of alpha with Sitka's help over the lycans. It's really Sitka doing all the work, I just hang around."
"And Sebastian?" I asked, dreading her answer.
"Long gone," Cleo answered with a knowing smile. "He told me he couldn't deal with it anymore. Said he deserved someone who could love him back."
"What an idiot," I said through a crooked grin, relieved that the werewolf was no longer in the picture. "Will you forgive me then? For everything I've done to you?"
She gave me a wry smile, "Well I did promise..."
I then grabbed her chin and kissed her forehead, murmuring against her skin, "I want this Cleo. I want us to both be happy. So let's try. For real this time."
She only nodded, a lone tear leaking from her eye. She pressed our foreheads together, "For real this time."
I've decided to end it here for ya'll. It's really up to you to decided if they worked out in the end or not. I do have two spin offs pre-pared but ehhh... probably not going to write those for like...a really long time. Anyway, I'm interested to here how you guys liked my stories and what your thoughts are on how Cleo and Hakota ended up in the future.