Queens

Ever heard of that joke about the lion amongst the wolves? No, well, neither has Vivienne. How was she supposed to know that her life would be the punchline?

Vivienne is a little special. Turns out, her best friend Casey, is also a little special. According to a local legend, they're part of a group called 'The Ascended', who's purpose is to reunite werewolves and wereanimals together.

Can they do it? Can they do what no other person has done and be the heroes that everyone wants them to be? Or will they crumble and fail?

[Cover made by me, but the picture isn't mine. Found it on tumblr]
[COMPLETELY UNEDITED]
[not your typical werewolf story]

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11. eleven.

Chapter 11

Giddiness wakes me up. My eyes shoot open with only one thought in mind: It’s my birthday. I sit up in my bed, pulling the curtains open. Maya rushes into the room, flinging the door open as she does so, before my feet even touch the ground. Her brown curls bounce as she hurls herself onto my legs. Her eyes are wide and excited as she throws a badly wrapped present at my face. My brain doesn’t seem process the link between hurtling object aimed at my face and using my hands to protect my face. The present hits me on the nose – it’s a good thing that Maya didn’t chuck it as hard as she could have. Maya laughs at my misfortune, her laugh developing into one of those loud tummy-rubs, clapping laughs.

Nice to see that she’s celebrating my birthday. It falls onto the bed as I try to figure out what just happened. She snatches it from me before I can inspect what it is and throws it at me again. This time, using all of her strength. Now, my brain is awake and I manage to catch it to Maya’s dismay. For a little girl, she seems to enjoy watching people in pain, even if she’s the cause of it.

“Open it! Open it!” She urges.

I grunt in response. Mornings aren’t my thing until I have some sort of caffeinated drink. Mum never allowed me to have coffee (or even tea!) but Dad got sick of my complaints and started giving me cups of coffee whenever Mum’s back was turned. She still hasn’t found out and this has been going on since I was 10. If she did, we’d both be screwed.

I fiddle with the wrapping but the present slips from my fingers. Maya slaps my hands as she grabs the present, again, from me. I thought this was my present.

“You’re taking too long!” She complains, ripping apart the wrapping paper and throwing it everywhere, everywhere except from the bin.

I watch in amazement as she tears it apart so easily with her tiny fingers. She’s a wolf, alright. I can’t help but feel sorry for the people who will get in her way once she shifts.

A piece of paper is shoved into my face and waved around. “Look! I made you a card and,” She climbs onto my body, her hands digging into my stomach, “this is me and you together. You’re the big flower because you’re bigger but you’re prettier than me.” Well, thank you Maya. “I’m the nearly-big one because I’m nearly big and beautiful.”

She grins at me expectedly while I brush off her insult. I can’t help but smile at her chubby face and her gappy grin. The card is a crayon drawing of me and Maya standing together as flowers. ‘Happy Bloomday’ is written across the top in different coloured crayons.  She’s developed an obsession with flowers lately and brings back all the flowers she’s found and places them in a box. Lilies, roses, daises – you name it. She brings back flowers with names I’ve never heard before. Glass jars filled with soil sits on her windowsill, with flowers planted inside. She spent the whole day painting the jars different colours so that whenever the sun shines, her room turns into a living rainbow.

Creative, I told her when I saw it happen for myself. I stood there, mesmerised for a second, watching the walls change colours. She shrugged when I asked her where she got the idea from. She thinks it’s normal for little girls to come back home with flowers and seeds.

“It’s amazing.” I say.

She claps excitedly. Sometimes, I don’t even realise that she’s only four; I feel like I’m her younger sister.

“Here!”

I brace my face for impact but it never arrives. A box lands in my lap, detailed with gold strokes. I look at her expectant face and look back at the box. Pretty box but I’m half expecting it to be one of those handmade necklaces or one of those edible candy necklaces.

My stomach rumbles. Those would be really good right now.

She sighs at me when she sees that I’m not doing anything with it. She turns the box on its side and a wind-up key becomes visible. Out of pure curiosity (because who wouldn’t?) I turn the key clockwise. Light, dainty piano keys start to play as I turn the gold key. She giggles excitedly as a ballerina pops up with a button near her feet. She presses it before I do and the ballerina suddenly flips over, revealing an expensive looking silver necklace. There’s a larger-than-usual heart locket attached to the chain. I don’t get to open it because guess who does before me?

Maya.

She opens the locket and points to the picture of us as a family. Maya is sitting on top of my dad’s neck and Mum’s looking at her worriedly, probably overthinking the consequences of her falling off. And there’s me, wandering off somewhere – pointing at something I’d found.  This was taken a year ago; the day after Maya turned four.

I wrap her in a hug which she despises. The need for human touch has confused her and she says that she doesn’t understand the reason why we have to touch each other. I tell her that she’ll understand when she’s older- she doubts that.

“Thank you.” I say as I kiss her on her forehead.

She wiggles herself out of my grip and wipes her forehead with the back of her hand. “It’s for when-” She begins but is interrupted by my dad calling us downstairs. Instead of finishing her sentence, she runs out of the room, leaving me completely confused.

It’s for when I what? What was she going to say? Why do people start sentences if they don’t intend to finish them?

Despite this, I hang the chain around my neck, shivering when the cold metal meets my skin. I check the mirror before going downstairs, peering closer to see that I have a tiny spot on my chin. Great, you just had to arrive on my birthday. Downstairs, there’s a buffet-like breakfast waiting for me, with my parents and Maya sat down at the dining table.

“Happy birthday sweetie.” My parents hug me.

“Thank you.”

Mum tears up, wiping her eyes with her tears. She holds me at arm’s length, giving me the once-over. “Look at you. I remember when you were so tiny and you always used to grip my thumb like it was your life support. Now, you’re all big and beautiful. I’m so incredibly proud of you.”

“Yadda, yadda, yadda. Can we eat now?” Maya whines, making us all laugh.

We sit down around the table, asking how our night was. We laugh at Maya’s exaggeration of her dreams, her demonstrating the dinosaurs that came to take over our town with her hands. She mimics the screaming people as she grabs her pancake in the other hand and throws it across the table. At that point, Mum tells her to stop and while Dad and I collapse into laughter.

When we’re done, Maya and Mum leave, leaving Dad and I alone. I pass him the dirty dishes and he loads them into the dishwasher. Mid-load, he pauses and stares at me for a while.

“Vivienne-Rose. You know we love you, no matter what.” He starts, surprising me a bit.

Oh God, what have I done now? I nod, unsure of where this is leading. He only used my first and middle name when I was in trouble. I’m sure that I haven’t done anything wrong, not while I was sleeping anyway.

“And we will always be behind you, no matter what happens to you.” His voice breaks a bit.

“What’s this about, Dad?” I ask, confused.

“Do you feel like anything’s different with you? Any strange symptoms, except from the episode you and Casey had?”

“I feel fine.”

Naturally, I told him what happened at the library but left out the part about Nate. I don’t know why I left it out but I did. He didn’t look surprised or shocked when I told him about what Louis had said. It’s almost like he knew and wanted me to find out for myself. I wonder whether it was common knowledge but forbidden to talk about or if everyone was under this façade that our ancestors were the brave warriors that everyone should aspire to be.

“Good, now get changed. Everyone’s coming over later.”

***

When he said everyone, I didn’t realise that he meant everyone. I didn’t realise how big our pack really was or that our garden could fit all these people until now. I’ve had a lot of random people commenting on how pretty I looked, or how big I’ve gotten, or how fast I’d grown. I nod at their questions, laughing with them as if they were old friends and hug them when it was necessary. When Casey takes me aside and asks if I knew who I that was, I laugh and shake my head.

“Have you seen Nate yet?” She says, quietly.

A small girl wishes me a happy birthday and passes me a small gift. I recognise her as one of Maya’s many friends and point her in the direction of Maya. Her blonde ponytail swings while her dress floats in the light breeze. Maya shouts her name out as they collide into each other in a heap of giggles.

“Nala?”

I focus on her now. Her voice softs, like when you’re speaking to a small child. I can’t tell if it’s filled with pity or sadness.

“No, I haven’t. I don’t think he’s coming.”

My heart sinks as soon as the words leave my mouth. The voice in my head has been silent ever since the library incident, leaving an empty space for the sarcasm. In some ways, I miss it but in others, I don’t. I’d rather not be told that I’m an idiot or that I’m being naïve.

“It’s okay, whether he turns up or not, we’ll still have a good time.” Behind her, Maya chases a little boy with the hose, cackling evilly. He doesn’t seem to be enjoying it.

She smiles. I nod.

“He was acting like a dick anyway.” She says as we walk over to where our parents are talking.

I nod.

“He should’ve apologised.”

Nod. There’s a hubbub by our fence that we share with our neighbour. As I walk closer, I realise that people climbing over the fence to get to their garden. It seems that our neighbour is finally putting the pool to good use. Our 75-year old neighbour Jim waves at me and mouths a ‘happy birthday.’ I give him thumbs up and watch him retreat into his house. He lives alone ever since his mate died but his children visit him from time to time. Despite the death of his mate, he’s the happiest man I know.

Casey stops suddenly and turns to me. “Did he apologise?”

I shake my head. “I haven’t seen him since.”

She sighed loudly. “Forget about him, let’s just have fun. It’s your birthday!”

***

"Happy birthday to you!” Everyone sings around me, giving me goofy grins. I notice that most of the little kids are eyeing the cake more than me. “Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Vivi! Happy birthday to you!”

I grin back at them as I stand around awkwardly before my cake. In the middle, it has a picture of me when I was younger, grinning with only two teeth at the camera. Everyone claps and cheers, creating more noise than a football stadium. As I bend down to blow the candles, I see Nate standing in the doorway. My heart quickens as he smiles, a real, genuine smile at me that makes his eyes crinkle too.

“Make a wish!”

I wish that life gets better from here.

I blow out the candles to the sound of cheers. I watch everyone’s faces as they hurry closer for a slice of cake. Several people pat me on the back, complimenting the party. Music booms from inside the house and there are little kids dancing along with awkward teenagers. I watch the kids splashing in the pool next door, parents chatting amongst themselves, teenagers making moves on each other and Casey playing tag with a couple of toddlers. Someone taps me on the shoulder. I turn around to see that it’s Nate. He gives me a sheepish grin as he intertwines his fingers with mine.

An electric shock runs through my arm as my fingers relax against his. I glance up at his face and smile harder than I have done in a while. He takes me away from the crowd, navigating through the maze of party guests. He takes me to a secluded part of my garden and sits me down on the swing.

“Happy birthday.” He says, casually.

 “Thanks.” I want to be mad at him. I really do, but I can’t.

“Look, I’m really sorry. For the way I’ve been acting lately. I’ve been a jerk to you. I shouldn’t have allowed my dad to speak to you the way he did. It’s just that the pressure’s getting to me-” I frown  at him. Is this one of those backhanded apologies? “That’s not important. What’s important is that...um...I hope you can forgive me.”

“There’s nothing to worry about.” Behind him, Casey makes foul gestures and stupid faces, making me giggle. He turns around almost immediately and Casey passes him a fake smile and waves, making me giggle even more.

I start to wave back at her but a sharp pain enters my chest. It disappears as quickly as it came. I put my hand on my chest, wondering what just happened. Nate turns back, concern written on his face. Casey walks over too, glaring at Nate when his back is turned.

“What’s wrong?” She asks me then turns to Nate, “What did you do?!”

He holds his hands in front of his face, surrendering to Casey. “I didn’t do anything!”

“Well, she was fine before you came along!”

“How does this equal my fault?!”

“Guys, I’m-” The sharp pain enters my chest again, spreading to the rest of my body. I feel like I’ve been pierced multiple times by tiny little arrows. My heart speeds up and I can almost feeling it beating fast against my ribcage. I feel heavy. My legs fail me as I try to stand up properly. Nate and Casey reach out to catch me before I crash to the ground. They struggle to support me as my body goes limp in their hands. I try to reassure them that I’m okay but the words don’t come out of my mouth. My mouth doesn’t even open.

“Someone! Help!” Casey shouts.

I feel myself getting lifted off the ground but the world spins around me. Tiny dark clouds come into view, slowly morphing together to blanket the sky. The wind changes suddenly, picking up speed. Trees sway together, almost dancing with each other. Little kids scream. A branch hits the ground, creating an echo throughout my body.

“Vivi, are you okay?”

I try to nod, but my head doesn’t move.

There’s a blur of movement around me. Faces merge together, resembling one-eyed monsters. My heart pounds. Goosebumps emerge on my hands.  I can feel them crawling up my arm.

Close your eyes.

The voice is comforting unlike the voice that occupied my mind a few days ago. Yet, it sounds strangely familiar as if it was the same the same voice that occupied my mind a few days ago.

My eyes stay open. A scream escapes my mouth as I feel my bones start to break. The loud crack resonates through my body.

Darkness overcomes me.

**

The girl wakes up, gasping for air. She slowly falls to the bottom of the ocean floor, accidentally breathing in water. She can feel her heart beat growing faint and her eyes start to slowly close. She doesn’t panic. She doesn’t fight the cold water threatening to take her lungs from her. She hears splashing and starts to kick her feet, somehow swimming to the surface. She throws her head back as soon as her head is out of the water, swallowing every gulp of air like it was her last.

A roar. A mighty roar turns her attention to the cliff ahead. Something in her mind recognises this place yet she couldn’t put her finger on it. The animal turns and stares at her, leaving her mesmerised. The animal breaks the gaze and turns away, its tail swinging as it does so. She feels an urge, deep in her soul, to follow it. She swims, pushing her body to its hardest. She feels so weak, so frail yet she refuses to stop swimming. With every ounce of strength she has, she makes it to the island. Her breathing is ragged as the tiny freckles of sand stick to her body. She laughs, whole-heartedly, her laughter rings through the forest. The birds start to sing, even laughing along with her. She forces her body up, even though her legs struggle as she does so. The urge to follow the animal is still there. Adrenaline runs through her body as she runs into the jungle. Branches and bushes trip her up but she doesn’t stop. Her body screams for her to rest but she doesn’t. She keeps running.

The animal, white as snow, lies in the middle of a nest of leaves. She stops, captured by this animal’s grace and beauty. Her breathing is almost silent, out of fear that she will scare it off. The animal notices her presence, lifting its head to acknowledge her. She tentatively walks forward, half captivated and half scared by this animal. The animal suddenly stands up, making her jump a bit. She remains frozen as this animal nears her. The animal stares at her for a while before sniffing her leg. It was at this point she realised that she was stripped of her clothes. Yet she didn’t rush to cover herself, away from prying eyes. She felt natural. The animal respectfully bows its head, waiting for her reaction. She gasps as the creature nudges her but soon relaxes as it licks her feet. As soon as she touches the head of this animal, light erupts out of her. Out of her nostrils, out of her eyes and her body radiates.

The animal is no longer seen.

**

We are one. Finally!

I open my eyes to see that I can see everything in HD. I can hear the crickets chirping as if they were right next to me. I can smell the sizzling of meat from a nearby barbeque. I can see the details of the purple butterfly sitting on the daisy, a couple of meters away. I can hear the incessant buzzing of the bees in the tree above me.

What the hell happened?

I look down to see a white paw on the ground. Another white paw appears beneath me. I lift the paw off the ground, toppling over as I do so. As I try to sit up, I realise that I now have a tail.

I’ve shifted.

Walking on all fours is going to take some getting used to as I fall over on the soft blades of grass again. That’s when the silence turns into harsh whispers, filling up my eardrums. I whine, burying my head in the grass with my paws over my ears. They all come at once:

“Woah, dude. Have you seen her?”

“Uh. Do wereanimals even exist anymore?”

“I knew there was something off about her!”

“Holy shit. Video it dude!”

“I don’t think that’s right…”

“Wonder what Nate’s father is going to have to say about this?”

“Forget that, what’s Nate going to say about her!”

What were they talking about? Wereanimal? I’m pretty sure that I’m a wolf. I stand and turn around to see everyone’s stunned faces aimed at me. Why is everyone staring? Have they not seen anyone shift before?

A roar escapes from my mouth. Wait, that didn’t sound right. Wolves don’t roar. Everyone looks taken aback, even Casey does. I tilt my head, clearly confused. Something switches in Casey’s eyes as she widens her eyes. She jumps into a shift, landing as a wolf on the ground. She playfully nudges me, her red fur glistening in the sun. I freeze as I realise that some people are passing me dirty looks, even scoffing at me.

“You do know why they’re staring right?” She says in my mind.

I shake my head.

“You’re a lion.”

What? Do be serious. There is no way on this green earth that I could be a lion! My parents are wolves. Maya is a wolf. How can I be a lion?

“I don’t know! You heard that roar. Last time I checked, wolves don’t roar.”

I falter, realising that she’s right. But how? How in the world is any of this even possible?

Nate makes his way through the crowd, pushing aside some of the older ladies. There’s a small gasp as he shifts into his wolf and struts towards me. I freeze, my heart beating faster than I thought was possible.

Here it comes. The voice sneers.

To my surprise, he walks towards me and playfully nudges me, making me fall down. He’s bigger than me. If he stood up on his hind legs and I stood up straight on a stool, he’d still be taller than me. As quickly as he knocks me over, he runs away. It takes more than a second to figure out what he’s doing.

He wants me to play tag. It’s his way of accepting me.

I run after him, actually liking the breeze that hits my face as I run. Some people have already started to shift, obviously interested in this game of tag we have going on. I can still feel the most of the tension in the air, leaving as most of the adults start to shift. More than a dozen wolves run away as Nate chases after them.

The tension is still there, I can feel the harsh breeze pass me as I stop to rest. I notice some of the older men speaking in hushed tones on the phone. I can hear the words “Alpha” and “Vivienne” being used in the same sentence. My heart drops as I realised what’s happening.

They’re telling him. This can’t be good.

__________________________________________________________

{remember to favourite and or comment or like, just tell me if you love it! merci, have a lovely day xx}

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