This is it, my first full day in Banff. Classes do not start until tomorrow, but it is still mandatory to be here for the second day of orientation. The only difference is that now there are students other than first-years making the place packed. And I can smell them, more of the Pack is here. My grip on my bag strap tightens as I frantically look around hoping to catch a glimpse, to know whom to look out for.
I do not know exactly where I am supposed to be right now, the schedule I got yesterday only told me that I was to meet other first years in the courtyard to be put in groups for an actual tour of the buildings here at Banff University of Arts. But there are students everywhere I look. I cannot pinpoint who all is first year and here for the tour. It is all so much, and my senses are getting overwhelmed. So many new scents, not to mention the Pack scent that lingers along with a couple of other Rogues.
Rogues do not mingle with Rogues, it can lead to bad situations for the people in the area, and for one another.
My eyes catch a familiar figure entering the courtyard with a black-haired woman at her side, and the older version of herself from yesterday getting out of the same SUV. Those light brown eyes search the crowd and catch mine for a second before she looks around some more. I may not be wholly happy to see her, but there is a sense of relief that flows through my chest at a familiar face. Margaret.
She begins walking in my general direction after a few more moments of scanning the crowd and the two women behind her go another way, they do not seem to have noticed me there, the scent of other Rogues no doubt mingling with my own in the air. Margaret stops two feet from me and gives a hesitant smile. “What are we supposed to do now?”
I let out a shaky laugh and shrug, “I’m not sure, the form only says to meet in your groups in the courtyard.”
“I hope we are in the same group.”
I can not hide the surprised expression on my face, “Wha-”
“Seriously, I hate meeting new people, I’d like to at least sort of know someone in my group.”
I let out another soft, nervous laugh, I get what she means though, “Yeah. I totally agree.”
We fall into another awkward silence, but this one is not as hostile as the one from yesterday. I can feel a mutual hope for some kind of friendship here. Margaret is cautious with me, but she is curious as well. Just as I am with her.
After a couple of minutes of standing and brief bantering, some students from the welcoming committee yesterday enter the courtyard and since we were all waiting for this moment, the crowd hushes quickly. One in the middle, a pretty blonde girl, steps forward with a clipboard and a broad smile.
“Welcome to the Banff University of Arts! As you are all freshmen, there are some things that we’d like to share with you before we split you into groups for your tours of campus.” She pauses for dramatic effect, probably a theatre student with her ability to command a crowd’s attention. “There are a few rules here and some general housekeeping I need to cover. First, there will be no drinking alcohol or drug use on campus. Second, you must dress appropriately; this is a school after all not a club or a slumber party. Third, Professors will go over assignment rules and expectations with your class directly, but we have an overarching rule of no plagiarism, students caught plagiarising will be automatically suspended and there will be an investigation promptly-” The blonde continued on talking about expectations on attendance, tardiness, what to do in case of illness and so on. Overall, it was very dull. “Of course, all of your profs will go over these in detail with you while going over their syllabi.
“Now that we are finished with that boring part, lets split into your groups. There is a name on each of your schedule sheets at the top right corner followed by a number between one and twenty. Behind me in the cafeteria there are booths set up, go to the one with your corresponding number and there you’ll meet the student leading your tour today. That name before the number is theirs so you don’t forget it. Have fun and get to know one another!”
As soon as she finished her speech Margaret turned to me with a serious expression. “What number do you have?”
I look down at my form, “Six, you?”
She lets out a sigh and her posture loosens up, “I have six as well.” She comes closer to me and then goes to my side, “Well, let’s go meet our student leader,” she pauses to look at the name beside the number, “Grace McDonald.”
The tour was, well it was boring. I am glad we had it, so I know where everything is, but with a lunch break, I am glad to have a reprieve from Grace’s droning voice. She is kind, but I think she only joined student leadership for the volunteer hours she needs to graduate.
Margaret and I are currently sitting at a table with the cafeteria burgers on our plates talking about the school.
“I don’t mind the large school, but after years of being in such a small town it is all a bit overwhelming.” I nod with her and am about to respond with my own perspective from growing up in Clearwater when the black-haired woman and older Margaret suddenly sit on the opposite side of the table.
“Margaret! I told you to wait for us before lunch. Why don’t you ever listen to me?”
“Ugh, Beta Victoria, I’m not a child. Besides, I’d like to make my own friends thank you very much. She’s nice.”
I look at the black-haired woman, Victoria for her response, she doesn’t look happy, and the woman beside her is fuming as she says, “You know Alpha’s rules regarding, Rogues. You need to come with us.” Her voice, while not as authoritarian as Beta Victoria is sharp with an underlying growl and does influence Margaret’s countenance. She shrinks into her seat and lowers her eyes to her plate. I watch the exchange with cautious interest. I’ve never witness pack exchanges so close, always turned away before anything happens.
“She’s done nothing wrong, Carly,” Margaret mumbles out. Compassion fills Victoria’s eyes as she regards the young girl.
“You don’t know that. How could you? All Rogues cannot be trusted, silly Omega.” Carly continues berating Margaret with a scowl in my direction as she says, "Rogues".
Carly looks like she is about to say more when she is cut off by Victoria speaking directly to me, “What is your name, Rogue?”
“Erica,” I respond quickly and she leans closer, her stance defensive and yet ready to pounce if she senses danger.
“I’m going to warn you now, if you hurt Margaret, if you even think about it, I will take you directly to Alpha for him to deal with, he does not like Rogues. I’ll be keeping an eye on you myself, so don’t even think about doing anything stupid, girl. Got it?”
I nod frantically.
“Good, we’ll be joining you for lunch today. Carly!” Carly straightens her posture at her name being called. “Go get some food for yourself and me.”
“Yes, Beta Victoria.” Carly turns to do so, but before she is turned fully away from me, she sends me a warning look.
Well, at least I am not alone anymore, now I am at a table of four. Though half the people here do not like me much.
Victoria was true to her word. For the rest of the day, she stuck with Margaret’s and my tour group, she even stuck through the boring library orientation game. Margaret and I kept a three-foot distance, if I was any closer to the Omega, she looked like she would rip my head from my shoulders and smile viciously while doing so.
Just as I am leaving for my car, I hear a voice from behind me, “See you tomorrow, Erica!”
I turn around to a smiling Margaret and stone-faced Victoria with a scowling Carly. I give a farewell wave and smile before sliding into my civic; the smile still resting on my face.
The next week and a half were fairly uneventful. Victoria kept a close watch on me the whole time, but I did not mind. Most of my time at the campus was spent in classes, at the cafeteria, and in the library. Margaret often sat with me in the cafeteria and would occasionally join me in the library where I went over my schedule and arranged timelines for assignments. Victoria was always nearby, and if she was not, then Carly was. I noticed a few other young adults that had the same Pack scent wandering close by often.
At this point in the semester, I have only needed to bring my violin once for a skills assessment. I think it went well. Margaret showed a lot of interest in my violin, I even saw curiosity in Victoria’s eyes as she watched our exchange. I had offered to show Margaret my favourite song over the weekend at a coffee shop, Carly stepped in and declined for Margaret. Though Margaret did not look pleased, she offered me an apologetic look and said nothing else. We were still lucky that we could hang out at all on campus.
When I was not at the campus, I was arranging my instruments in my house. I made space for my keyboard, my acoustic guitar, my electric guitar and amp, and my violin. In my bedroom is where my cage stays where it is out of sight if I happen to have guests, which I doubt I ever will.
I also got to know the city, I went to the grocery store, familiarized myself with the cheapest gas station, and, most importantly, the thrift store. I never needed to thrift growing up, but I did anyway for the cheap book prices and vintage clothing for a reasonable cost.
Once my agenda was organized and my home was in relative order, I got a head start on assignments and practiced my instruments. Basically, I am loving living on my own.
As I am seated at my desk near the end of my second week and creating an outline for my first assignment in Music Theory, I glance at the calendar on the bulletin. Tomorrow is the first full moon. I look behind me at the cage and sigh. I hate locking myself up, but I understand that it is necessary; people will get hurt, killed otherwise.
I will have to get home right after class to get started, luckily the Werewolf form only takes over when the sun is hidden. Margaret, Victoria, and Carly along with all other Werewolves, including myself, are going to have to be careful. Our emotions tend to heighten and are difficult to control. This can cause poor reactions that could draw too much attention or even hurt someone if they get too close.
But I have been dealing with the change for eleven years now. What could go wrong?