Not edited. I decided I am going to finish the epilogue then I will go back and edit it ALL. Thanks for baring with me over the past few weeks/month lol. :)
Everett cradled Charlie in his arms, the popping and breaking of his small bones resonated in the small clearing at the back of our house. He laid him down on a small pile of leaves that was the most comfortable spot around.
Charlie screamed in agony with his eyes clinched shut as his body began to transform. Everything started from the bottom and made its way to the top. Both of us knowing that the first shift is always the hardest and the longest.
His toes slowly began elongating and shifting as his claws pushed their way through his delicate skin. Everett and I watched in amazement and remorse as his bones cracked. His tiny body quivered as his body continued to shift. When his lower half fully transformed and his fur sprouted out of his skin, I crouched down to make any attempt to comfort him.
I ran my fingers through his sweat dampened hair. Despite it being a cool night, the fever had spiked high enough to drench his clothes and leave a thin sheen of sweat coated over his small body. I leaned down and whispered in his ear, "You're doing great, buddy. Not much longer now."
Before I could get the words out fully, vibrant gray fur burst through, covering the remainder of his skin. Without missing a beat, Charlie jumped up from the pile of leaves on all fours. His vivid green eyes shown through his dark charcoal gray fur and let out a low howl.
Everett and I quickly shifted into our wolf forms and made our way even closer to Charlie. We breathed in his scent to become for familiar with it, and nuzzled our noses in his fur to help extinguish any lingering pain that may still be resonating in his bones. He let out a soft whimper as he stretched out his legs, leaning on Everett for support.
He was less than half of the size of me, keeping in mind that I was much smaller than Everett. When he finished stretching out his sore limbs he pushed off Everett and began walking around and sniffing everything. I looked over at Everett and gave him a lopsided grin. He gave me a quick nod, never taking his eyes of Charlie.
"Our boy is growing so fast." He said through the mind-link.
"I know..." I whimpered.
We watched him make his way around the small cleared out area, and then he seemed to have caught onto a scent. He followed it, leaving us. We slowly followed him and I mind-linked him, "Charlie, what is it?"
He growled in response and Everett sniffed the ground that Charlie was following. "Raccoon." He said curtly.
I nodded and followed behind Charlie, making sure to be as quiet as possible. "I still can't believe he shifted so quickly, I thought we had years."
"I know, my moon, but you know what Alberts said. The stress... no pup should ever have to go through what he has gone through." Everett responded.
"I just so thankful that he was able to escape his fate and come to a real home with us." I said sincerely, turning my head to gaze at Everett lovingly.
Once again he nodded in agreement, and never took his eyes off Charlie. With me and Everett watching over Charlie, I know that he will always be protected and safe.
Charlie was hot on the scent and began running quickly through the trees, with us hot on his heels. Charlie howled as we closed in on the small raccoon. Charlie quickly stopped and tilted his head up, looking into a tree.
"It's up there." Charlie said.
Everett walked up next to Charlie and nodded his head, confirming his assumption. Everett turned his head and looked at me, tilting his head towards the tree.
I shifted back into my human form, and quickly made my way towards the tree. I was determined to let Charlie enjoy his first "hunt" with us. I climbed onto Everett's back as he lowered himself to give me a boost. I reached and grabbed onto the lowest limb on the tree and began my ascend.
As I made sure to place my bare hands and feet on the bark so that I didn't slip and fall, Charlie let out a long, low growl of satisfaction. I smiled to myself as I made my way up the tree. When I found the small prey, I shook out the tree branch, making the animal slip off of the branch.
As the raccoon fell to the ground with a soft thud, I heard Charlie growl and move in for the kill. I made my way down the tree and by the time I landed my feet softly on the forest ground, I watched as Charlie enjoyed the fruits of his labor. I shifted back into wolf form and mind linked Everett.
"I'm so proud of him, Everett. He did great, trusted his instincts. I took me weeks to track a rabbit on my own, much less hunt!" I said excitedly.
"I know. For his age, he is so mature. Even wolves that shift at 14 don't even catch on that quickly." He said with pride.
After Charlie was done with his meal, he made his way over to us. "How do I change back?" He asked.
Everett and I looked at each other, knowing this was typically the hardest part of the first shift. Seeing the concern in my eyes, Everett took the lead. "Well buddy, you have to focus really hard. Think about your human form and eventually you will shift back." He said in a comforting tone.
"Okay, I think I can do that." He responded, determined.
"We will be right here with you, buddy." I said through the link.
We began walking back to our house, so that we could take Charlie straight to bed after he shifted back. The shift surely took a lot out of a small pup like him, so he was bound to be exhausted.
When we finally made it back to the back porch, I laid down on the wood deck still in my wolf form. Charlie trotted up the stairs and laid down beside me. He nuzzled his body up close to mine and laid my head on his neck protectively. Everett made his way over and laid down on the other side of Charlie and laid his massive head on my back.
"Our family is perfect." I said to Everett. He let out a content growl in agreement as we all laid together in silence.
After a few moments of breathing in Charlie's woodsy scent, I felt myself begin to drift off to a dreamless sleep.
"Amelia, wake up." Everett said, while lightly nudging me. I opened my eyes slowly, and shook my head to shake off the last fragments of sleep that threatened to take over once again. It was still night or rather early morning, and Charlie wasn't here anymore so he must have shifted back.
Noticing I was still in wolf form, I stood and quickly shifted back. Once I was in my human form, I wrapped my arms around Everett and rested my head on his bare chest. I closed my eyes and breathed in his familiar scent, letting out a sigh of contentment.
"When did he shift back?" I asked, curiously.
"About 15 minutes after you fell asleep." He replied, as he played with the ends of my long, black hair.
"And I missed it! Why didn't you wake me?" I asked as I pulled away, looking up at him with an expression of disbelief.
He let out a soft laugh and caressed my face with both hands. "It was his first time, my moon. It was a great father, son bonding moment for us."
My face softened as I heard him say father and son when talking about Charlie. I smiled brightly up at him, feeling the tears brim on my eyelids. I blinked them back before they could fall. "I love us, our family." I said, happily.
"I do too, my moon. Me too." He said as a small smile formed on his lips.
I leaned in to kiss him softly on his mouth, and just as I was about to pull away, Everett held me closer for a few more moments. "You know, we haven't consummated out marriage yet." He stated with a mischievous glint in his eyes.
I smiled back at him, pulled away and began making my way into the house. It may be late, but the night was far from over.
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