Contributed to by Stacy Meyer
Eira pulled her cloak tight around her as she moved slowly through the snow covered forest, shivering with every gust of wind. Snow clung to her and her feet and hands stung and ached with how cold they were. She was lost, she had to admit that to herself. The storm had blown through and she had gotten turned around in all the white. She stopped, her breath puffing out in clouds as she caught her breath. What was she going to do? Her mother was probably terrified.
“Excuse me miss?” Her heart leaped and she twisted around, the wind catching her hood and pulling it off, tugging at strands of her red hair. Amber eyes met her green, looking at her curiously. “Are you lost?”
“Who are you?”
“Alarick. What are you doing out here?”
“I…I got turned around in the storm.”
“You could freeze to death.” He stepped closer and she backed up right into a tree, swallowing. “It’s okay, I mean you know harm.” He held out his hand and smiled, revealing sharp canines.
“W…wolf.” Her voice squeaked and he tipped his head to the side.
“No need to fear me little fire, I only wish to help you.”
“Your hair.” He reached out, gently running his fingers through the ends. “Like fire.” She pressed herself further back and he smiled. “Come, my uncle’s pack is near, it’s warm there. Please come until the storm blows through.” His hand was still out and she looked at it, at his sharp nails and swallowed again. She had been warned that wolves were dangerous, but if she didn’t go with him, she would freeze.
Another particularly strong gust hit her and she didn’t think for another moment. She was less likely to die if she accepted this wolf’s help so she hesitantly took his hand, hoping he was genuine and that she’d see her mother again once the storm had passed. She hadn’t expected him to pull her into his arms but next thing she knew she was being cradled as he hurried through the snow. She hadn’t been held since she was a toddler so it felt awkward but she admitted to herself it was nice to have at least the part of her pressed against him safe from the snowfall.
Eira nestled in closer to Alarick’s chest. She could feel his heat beating against her face,and she was grateful for the warmth from the bitter cold and the snow.
Lost in her thoughts Eira drifted off to sleep in Alarick’s arms,suddenly she was awoke when Alarick stopped just outside a cluster of evergreen trees that were covered in white snow that was swirling in the chilled air around them. “Little fire,we are here. There is no need to fear my pack I am your protector and you are safe here” Alarick smiled as he gently placed her down on the snow covered ground.
Eira was a little embarrassed she had slept during the journey here but she planned to stay alert now. Until she got to safety it would now be an entire pack she was dealing with. She wanted to trust this wolf but a lifetime of stories from loved ones told her she couldn’t so despite his words she’d stay vigilant and ready to protect herself to the best of her abilities. It was wild to her how kind his eyes were and how much she actually liked his voice. It took her a second to realize he had asked her something “hm?” there it was, that smile again “may I know your name now, you know mine”
“well, I’m very happy the world directed me to you Eira, come on” He said then began walking.
Will your uncle be alright with me intruding?” She asked nervously.
“I don’t see why not.”
“I see, that’s good I suppose.”
She clung tightly to him, giving a little yelp when a few people came running up. They looked to be teenagers or younger, all curious as to who Alarick had brought home. “Easy guys.” He said as he gave a little growl, surprising Eira. “She’s scared can’t you tell?”
A loud whistle caught everyone’s attention and they all turned as Alarick’s uncle came walking up. “Go back to what you were doing, no need to crowd everyone.” His voice rumbled out of his chest and Eira was surprised by how big the man was, that this imposing figure was her saviour’s uncle, especially since Alarick was so lean in comparison.
Though he was still an intimidating being he did soften a little as he welcomed her “I am the pack leader, Xanlis. I am also this ones Uncle if he hasn’t mentioned it. I see he has brought you here so you are welcome. There’s really no need to be so afraid though I gather you’ve probably been raised with nasty stories of us so I take no offense” He seemed so cordial, it was incredibly shocking. “Um…thank you” she felt all the ums made her sound stupid but she felt even her brain was frozen over and how these wolves appeared was still a shock. “she was about to freeze to death when I found her” Alarick chimed in “then we should get her warm” Xanlis said and Alarick took her hand to guide her along. She blushed, first he had held her and now he was just taking her hand as if everyone did that with strangers.
Alarick led Eira down a small hallway to a small room at the end of it. Eira glanced around the room and saw a wooden 4 poster bedmate up with a luxurious warm looking quilt. “This will be your room for your stay,mine is just next door to the left if you require anything.” Alarick gently said walking over to a old looking chest of drawers. She watched him as he pulled out some soft fleece pyjamas and a knitted sweater. “These belonged to my aunt,you look to be about her size” Eira looked at the clothes the wolf had handed her. “Um thank you,I hate to bother but where is your aunt? I didn’t see her?”
“She died giving birth to my cousin.”
“Oh, sorry, that must have been hard for your uncle.”
“A wolf losing its mate is one of the most devastating things that can happen to them, but he lived for my cousin and his pack.”
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.”
Alarick smiled. “It’s alright, he wouldn’t mind. It’s been twenty years so she’s easier for him to talk about. Now, please change, your clothes look wet from the snow.”
“Oh, yes, thank you.”
“I’ll wait just outside the door.” She nodded and Alarick gave her her privacy. He stood dutifully outside the bedroom door, enjoying what was left of scent on him.
“How is our guest?” Xanlis’s voice startled him and he straightened.
“Good I suppose, changing. I let her borrow Cheza’s clothes, I hope that was alright.”
His patted him on the shoulder. Alarick still marveled at how big his uncle really was, almost more bear than wolf. His father was tall too, but he had inherited his mother’s more lean build. “Of course. Let her know there’s warm food ready and waiting for her if she’s hungry. I just wanted to check that none of the others had sneaked in and were bothering her. The pups are curious.”
“I wont let them overwhelm her”
“is she…special?” Xanlis asked and Alarick knew what the question meant instantly, it was in the way Xanlis asked it. Alarick nodded and Xanlis seemed pleased but said in a whisper “good luck then.” his Uncle could tell as well as he could wooing her wouldn’t come easy. A human would be able to see plain as day how afraid she was of them. Eira didn’t want to be rude so changed as fast as her aching body would allow. Her muscles were stiff from the snow but just removing her wet clothing seemed to help her feel better. Alarick had been right about the clothes, they fit her pretty nicely. She just hoped seeing them truly wouldn’t bring any pain to Xanlis.
Eira heard a knock at the door sighing from her thoughts she opened it. “There is dinner ready downstairs,I will accompany you when you are ready” Alarick smiled kindly at her and Eria smiled in return. She felt butterflies but she couldn’t tell if it was from hunger,fear or the strange attraction she felt for this wolf man.
Eira was happy to be warm and she had to admit that the food the wolves had made for her was delicious. “Does it taste alright?” Alarick asked.
“Yes, thank you.”
He suddenly turned and looked over his shoulder, letting out a little growl that startled Eira. Alarick heard her heart thumping in her chest and he turned back to her, an apologetic look on his face. “Sorry, the pups want to see you, but I don’t want you crowded.”
“Pups?” She looked over her shoulder and she could see a bunch of little heads peeking over the window sill from outside. “Oh, they can come in, if they want.”
“Eat first then if you’re sure, they can meet you. I don’t want you frightened any more than you already are.”
She looked again and even had to admit to herself they were kind of cute. Eira finished eating then assured Alarick it was okay if they wanted to meet her so he let them come in, giving them a warning look that he knew they would understand. They all said hi at practically the same time, causing Eira to smile which surprised even her. She supposed children, no matter the species were hard to fear. All children started innocent, it was the world that corrupted them slowly over time. “Hey”
“do you feel better?”
“your name’s Eira?” Two had questions at the same time and Alarick spoke “One question at a time.” he tried to keep the annoyance out of his voice for Eira but he wished they’d calm down before she went running off. “I do feel much better and yes it is”
“are you going to stay?”
“Until the storm calms enough it’s safe to go home”
Eira smiled watching Alarick try and control the pups as a couple of them climbed up on her lap,almost knocking the dinner plate over. Sensing Eria’s warm reaction to the pups he said “Okay! I think our guest has had enough excitement,perhaps before she departs tomorrow you can come see her off.” This was followed by a round of “can we stay?” And “awe” replies from the pups.
The pups in Eira’s lap threw their arms around her and scurried down to the join the group with shouts of good byes and waves along with smiling faces as the pups filed out of the room.
“They can be quite rambunctious.”
“I can see that, they’re really sweet.” She had actually described wolves as sweet, but they really were, even Alarick.
“I take it you weren’t expecting that?”
She blushed as she shook her head. “No, I’m sorry. It’s just…”
“Please don’t apologize, you’ve been raised hating my father’s kind.”
“Your father’s kind?”
He gave her a gentle smile. “I am only half werewolf, my mother is a vampire.”
Eira swallowed, her hand coming protectively to her throat. “Oh.”
“I’m not going to hurt you, Eira, I should have said something before, but you were already terrified of me. I won’t be angry if you start avoiding me.” He hated the thought, his wolf even whined at the idea, but he wouldn’t force his presence on her.
Eira dropped her hand, knowing she was acting foolish. He hadn’t given her any reason to be afraid. “I’m okay, it’s just surprising.”
“I promise, you’re safe with me.”
She was actually starting to believe that “so…you really think this snow storm will be over by tomorrow?”
“we can hope, I don’t want you worried about you family or to keep you from whatever it is you do with your life” it sounded as if he wanted to know more about her so she said “well, I don’t do anything important really besides helping out my mother. I am working on this pretty amazing knitting project though. I’m excited to finish it” Another smile flashed across his face, warm and kind as he sits back down next to her “you knit, if this storm keeps up I know two women here who knit. Maybe they can let you borrow some things to keep you entertained. I’d enjoy hearing about what you’re making at home if you’d like to tell me”
“I would love that!” Eira was starting to feel more at home and began talking at a rapid pace. “At home I have made some socks,sweaters and mittens for friends and their children. In fact the mittens I was wearing I made those as well. My mother and I were going to work on a blanket for my uncles birthday which is coming up. I could knit something for you Alarick if you would like?”
“You don’t have to do that, I don’t need payment or anything.”
“Not as payment, because I want to. It’s so cold, you might need a scarf or something.”
Alarick’s heart stuttered and his wolf let out a little whine, a sound he managed to keep from rising in his throat. “That’s very kind of you, thank you, Eira.”
Eira actually smiled at how sincere he sounded. She hadn’t expected it from a creature such as him. “Do you have any specific colors you like?”
He let his eyes move over and found himself reaching out, his fingers brushing through the ends of her hair. “Perhaps red or maybe a dark orange? Like your hair.”She felt her cheeks heat and he looked surprised at himself as he pulled away. “Sorry, I shouldn’t just touch you.”
“It…it’s fine, you just surprised me is all.”
“Still, you’ve been through quite a bit today, the cold, being saved by me, and now you’re sitting in the middle of a wolf pack.”
“You said I was safe though and I…I trust you, so…”
“You do?” He perked up, his wolf barking at him to get closer to her.
“You saved me, you could have done worse, but you didn’t. I’ll try not to be so nervous.”
“I’m sure once you’ve had some rest in a proper bed you’ll feel more at ease. It’s late enough, why don’t I show you back to your room so you can rest. The blankets in there are incredibly warm but if you aren’t comfortable feel free to tell me. I can get you more blankets or anything else you might need. “That does sound nice, I know sleep will find me easy. I fell asleep embarrassingly fast in your arms” He smiled warmly and soon they were back at her room “Please tell me if you need something. Anybody here would be willing to help you themselves or come get me if I’m not near”
“Thank you so much” He didn’t want to leave when she shut the door but if she opened it later he knew how creepy it would be for him to be there so he decided to go talk to his Uncle. He couldn’t sleep, not when he had just met his mate and his Uncle would probably have good advice on how to handle things with her. He didn’t want to mess this up and end up spending his life without the woman his wolf told him he would be most happy with.
Alarick walked down the hallway and stopped to knock on the door to his uncles office. He knew he shouldn’t disturb his uncle this late at night but he really didn’t want to lose this chance with Eira.
“Come in Alarick” his uncle hollered in a grumbly voice and Alarick turned the knob and opened the door to see his uncle sitting at his desk with a stack of papers in front of him. “Uncle I am sorry to bother you at this time of the night but I am looking on some advice” Alarick sat down in the chair opposite his uncle. “I think I found my mate in the girl that I brought back here with me tonight,I was hoping you would be able to help me convince her to stay or at the very least give me permission to go on her journey with her?”
Alarick, you’re an adult, you don’t have to ask for my permission.” He chuckled. “You’re so much like your father.” He smiled, letting out a little sigh. “All I ask is that you stay safe. You know how humans can be when it comes to not only our kind, but your mother’s kind as well.”
“I will, I just want to get her home. If I let her go alone, she might get lost again.”
“And you don’t want to lose your chance.”
Alarick could tell his uncle was thinking about his wife. “Yeah, I know I’d regret it.”
“Just promise you’ll come back when you have the time.”
“It also might be awhile before you can leave. It sounds like the snow storm is growing worse rather than settling. It’s good you found her when you did.”
“we’re a lucky race, the world seems to like to guide us to our mates”
“how is she right now?”
“she isn’t as afraid as when I brought her in”
“well, I’m going to try and rest while she is.”
“goodnight Alarick” Alarick left his Uncles office, walking down the halls until he found his room.
Alarick sat on his bed with his mind racing. He was having all these thoughts about Eira. “Could she really be my mate?” He wondered to himself,scrunching the silky edge of duvet cover up into a ball in his hand. “How could a human accept a werewolf as her mate? How could I make her love me?” Alarick spoke to himself as he heard a soft knock on his door.
He knew who it was “come in” he said and watched the door open. Eira stepped inside the room. “I hope I didn’t wake you I just couldn’t sleep.” She looked at him and he smiled in reply “no I wasn’t asleep I just got back from speaking with my uncle. The storm doesn’t appear to be shifting the way we hoped for so you might be here a while longer then planned”
“Oh, that’s alright.” She stood there, clutching the blanket wrapped around her.
He patted his bed. “Would you like to sit?”
“Yes, thank you.” She walked over and dropped down next to him, his wolf giving a little whine as her scent washed over him.
“Would you like something to drink, like tea or water?”
“I’m fine, really.” She fidgeted a little.
“Would you like to stay in here? Nothing weird of course, maybe I could tell you a story.”
“Do you have any about your parents?”
“I have plenty about them.” He stood up and pulled his covers back. “Why don’t you lay down and I’ll start.”
“But where will you sleep?”
“The floor or maybe at your feet. Shifting is one of my gifts.”
“you’d be comfortable sleeping as a wolf?”
“then…if you shift you can stay in the bed after I fall asleep…I’d hate to make you sleep on the floor” He gave her another soft smile, trying to push down his wolfs excitement they’d be sharing the room together. “Why don’t you lay down and get comfortable. I’ll just talk about different moments in my parents lives worth telling until you’re sleeping”
“You’re no trouble at all Eira” Her heart stuttered. There was just something about the way he was talking to her. She laid down and he waited for her to finish adjusting the blanket before he settled beside her, leaning against the headboard. He started with how they met and how his father won his mother over. When he finished that story she still hadn’t fallen asleep but he could tell she was close by how softly she asked “so wolves really just know when they find who they are meant to be with”
“I had heard that but I didn’t know it was true until now” He was tempted to stroke her hair again but refrained “its probably one of the only true things you’ve been told about us” She fell asleep and he couldn’t help but give her a gentle kiss on the head “Goodnight Eira” Alarick stood up then took his clothes off before shifting and getting back into bed with her. Her steady breathing and the warmth of her trusting him enough to sleep in here lulled Alarick to sleep quickly and they both rested without interruption until morning.
Alarick’s fur tickling Eira’s nose woke her the next morning and she let out a little sigh as she wrapped her arms around him and scooted closer. Alarick lay as still as possible, not wanting to embarrass her. “Alarick, are you awake?” She asked softly and he moved his head a little to indicate he was. “It doesn’t sound like it’s storming anymore.” He let a little whine slip out. He didn’t want her to go, not when he had just found her. “What’s wrong?” She asked as she stroked his fur.
He shifted back, hoping she wouldn’t be offended and wrapped his arms around her, feeling her body heat. “I’ve just enjoyed my time with you and now you’ll have to leave.”
Eira’s heart was beating hard in her chest and she was relieved they were pressed so close together. “But you’ll be coming with me and I have nod idea how far I wandered off the path.”
He buried his nose in her hair, soaking up her scent. “I know, but then I won’t be able to see you anymore. Your family, your people, they won’t like me, they’ll be scared of me and it’ll be hard for you.”
He wanted to tell her, but didn’t want to scare her. Then again, what if he never saw her again? “Eira, do you…do you think maybe you could stay a little longer? I mean the storm might have stopped for now, but it could blow in again. I think it would be safe to wait another day.” He wanted to say please, but he already knew he sounded like he was begging.
“I probably should. I really don’t want to be caught in something like that again, especially since I’m not sure how to get home” she nervously fidgeted a bit before saying “it was really comforting sleeping with you in here last night. Thank you…and no matter what my village says you’ll be a part of my life. You saved me and you’ve been so kind since I came here. I wont turn my back on you…what kind of monster would that make me Alarick” it was a relief to hear, especially since he could tell she meant those words “well, lets see about breakfast and getting you another change of clothes”
Alarick quickly dressed and guided her back to where she could change into new clothes “I’ll meet you in the kitchen alright”
“Good morning.” Xanlis said when Alarick entered the kitchen, startling him. The older man chuckled. “Well, you must be incredibly distracted if you didn’t smell or hear me.” He was already cooking breakfast.
“I am.” He let out a sigh. “I don’t know how to tell her.”
“You just tell her.”
“It’s not that easy.” He swallowed. “Um, how did you tell my aunt?”
“I think we both realized it the moment we saw each other. I approached her immediately and told her, you’re my mate. She just smiled and laughed and told me if I wanted her then I would have to catch her.”
“What if she had said no?”
“Then I would have worked even harder to make her see me, to show her how much I needed her.”
“So just be honest then?”
“It’s better to be honest than to regret never saying anything at all. There are so many things I wanted to tell your aunt before she died, but I didn’t. So tell her, even if it hurts.”
“well, I’ve convinced her to stay another day so I have a little time. I know I need to find my nerve before I walk her home. If I try to wait until then I might lose my chance”
“even if she says she wont be with you at first in time you can win her over Alarick.”
“well we should stop talking about it for now. I told her to meet me in the kitchen once she is changed…do you want something for breakfast too?”
“I already ate with a few of the others” Xanlis walked away, giving Alarick space to think. He was startled again out of his thoughts when Eira finally came into the kitchen “can I help?” she asked and he said “it’s okay” They hung around inside until after they had lunch “Would you like to walk around some more to take in where I live? I mean, I know we’re going to stay friends but I’m sure you wont be back this way for awhile”
“sure” He began guiding her around, trying not to stare at her too much. His wolf was worried and wanted him to take her in as much as possible incase the villagers re intstilled her old fear and she decided not to talk to him again. His wolf was nudging him hard when they went outside, she looked so beautiful with the snow as a back drop. The words started coming out unbidden “Eira” as she turned to look at him he continued “I love you”
He could tell she was surprised, just the look on her face “what?”
“I’m sorry…it’s just…I don’t know I didn’t even mean to say that out loud but I do”
“You,I’m your mate?” He nodded and it was hard to tell what she was feeling, she was feeling so much. “Have you known the entire time?”
“Yeah but you were so scared” she looked him over and he patiently waited for her to say something. “You are really sweet Alarick. I mean, if I’m really your mate…um…we could go on dates if you want” His heart trembled “you’d really be willing to try?”
“You’re probably the nicest man I’ve ever met. I…I like you more than any of the boys in my village”
“Could I kiss you?” she blushed “yeah” he moved in slowly, gently pressing his lips against hers and that was when they realized some of the other wolves were looking at them. Eira pushed her face into his chest with embarrassment and he chuckled, lifting her up to take her inside. He knew he still had to take her home but as he walked her inside he couldn’t be happier.
~ The End