Forgive And Forget
I gave it a few days before I decided I was ready to talk to Aponi. Even when I decided on today, I had been hesitant around her all morning. Making excuses to myself like ‘there are too many people around’ and ‘she looks busy.’ In the late afternoon when I decided to go out for some fresh air, I spotted her in the garden picking bell peppers and pulling out weeds.
Before I could walk away, she stood up, wiping her hands on her work apron before looking over at me.
“I’m done,” she said in a matter of fact tone. I licked my lips, looking from the basket of bell peppers to the neat pile of weeds that had formed at the side. She was alone, and my brain couldn’t come up with a justified excuse to ignore her.
“I wanted to talk to you,” I got out after staring at her for the Gods know how long, “Alek told me what you said.”
I watched as her eyes softened as she pushed back the braid of hair in front of her face. “I’m so sorry,” she muttered in a low tone, so low the sound of children laughing in the distance could have caught it if I hadn’t been watching her mouth. “I’m sorry,” she repeated more firmly this time as she started to walk towards me. I was standing by the stairs that lead to the back entrance to the kitchen.
“I intervened because I thought it was the right thing to do. I thought you were playing house with Alek because you missed Honon. I’m sorry,” she said, stopping right in front of me. “I shouldn’t have acted like I knew what you wanted more than you did,” she said.
“Forgive me?” Her words came out like a question. She reached out her hand, staring down at mine as if begging me to hold hers. I licked my lips, nodding before I reached out to grasp her hand. The hand I had held on to since my mother died. The hand of the person that had mothered me since then even though she was only six years older. Aponi had done a lot for me. I couldn’t sacrifice her because of her mistake.
“Remember when my mother died, and I would cry all day and Lapu never shed a tear?” I asked, and she nodded. The gods bless my brother, but he didn’t have a delicate bone in his body. I had been too young to remember father passing, but I had an understanding of death when my mother left, and it crushed me.
“Do you remember how I would cry at my father’s door and he wouldn’t open, and then I’d come to you and we would cry together?” I asked, and a small smile formed on Aponi’s face as she nodded.
“You didn’t really know my mum, but you cried with me anyway. Thank you,” I muttered in a low voice as Aponi moved to pull me into a hug. We stayed like that, holding each other and swaying from side to side under the shade of the iron sheet roof.
“Do you remember when your husband decided he had to work off pack grounds, and you refused to follow him even though someone else could replace you as the head housekeeper?” I asked, and I felt Aponi nod into my shoulder. “I know you didn’t leave because of me—”
“I wanted to take care of you,” she muttered, cutting me off as she squeezed my shirt from behind.
“You didn’t talk to anyone else much and I was scared...” she muttered. “I was so happy when you figured out who your mate was, but the joy didn’t last after what Honon did. I couldn’t just leave you by yourself...” she went on, choking a bit on her words.
“Yes, your brother was there to protect you but he’s not an omega. He doesn’t know how any of that feels, and I couldn’t expect Kaya to take care of you then. Too young,” she went on, and all I could do was let out a hum in agreement.
I nodded into her shoulder, tightening the hug. I was glad she had made that decision all those years ago. Things were terrible then, but they had been less terrible with her and Kaya by my side.
Aponi pulled away from me suddenly. She had me at arm’s length as she looked down at my stomach. “I felt the baby move,” she muttered before focusing her gaze on me. Her dark eyes piercing mine.
“The cub’s been moving for a while,” I told her, watching as glint danced in her eyes.
“Yes,” I said before Aponi could finish her question. She reached out to feel my stomach, smiling at the cub pawed around.
“So energetic,” she muttered, giggling a little. She was excited. “Catori if it’s a girl, Achak if it’s a boy, yes?”
I smiled at that, nodding. I hadn’t thought of names yet, but the ones Aponi proposed were beautiful—both meaning spirit and she probably picked them because of how lively the cubs were.
“We should probably give the baby a Siberian name as well?” I spoke up, thinking about Alek. Sure, he was integrating into my pack and living with me, but at the end of the day, the baby was still part him—still part Siberian.
“That sounds like a lovely idea,” Aponi muttered. “Can I pray?” She asked looking straight at me. I nodded, watching as she started saying prayers softly under her breath as she drew invisible lines on my stomach through my shirt. She prayed for a smooth pregnancy. She prayed that things went well with Alek, and that we had a fulfilling family together.
“There,” she muttered when she was done, grinning at me. “Speaking of Siberian wolves, do you think we’ll ever get to meet any of Alek’s relatives?” Aponi asked, making me think for a bit.
Alek had been keeping in touch with a good friend from back home. He had hinted at the possibility, but he didn’t think he was that special to warranty people traveling all the way to Canada to see him.
“I’m not sure,” I ended up saying, and Aponi sighed.
“Well, it doesn’t matter if they come or if they don’t. It won’t change much,” she said, and I gave her a small smile. She meant well, but now that I thought about it, I really wanted them to come. Alek didn’t talk about home much, but when he did, I saw a glint in his eyes that was hard to interpret any other way but homesickness. He loved it here, but it made sense that he was homesick. He hadn’t been home in over five years.
“I’ll talk to Alek about it,” I said when Aponi pulled away from me.
“It’s worth a shot,” she said as he walked back into the sun to pick up the basket of peppers she had picked in the garden.
I watched her go about her business for a bit, before deciding to head back into the packhouse to find Alek.