She could see the prey before her, a rustling in the grass. She could smell its scent, even if she was blind she could follow it now. It had become a competition. A game to track and capture between her and the wild Wolfblood. She flicked her ear, smelled the air around her for any traces of him. This would be her win, finally her win. As a wolf, she could run for miles; speed had always been her strongest asset, she would always be able to beat him in that. But as she launched for the prey, it moved, banking right as it sensed her. That's where he appeared, ready and waiting. She hadn't even known he was there, hadn't sensed him at all. But he had known where she was, had known what she would do. His ability to hide himself, his instincts, that's what made him stronger than her. That's what made her hold back all these hours they spent together, made her refrain from killing him. Because she would lose, she knew it. Knew what it would be like to be held within those jaws just as he held their prey. He called it training, and she knew she would not eat tonight because of it. A low growl escaped her, irritated that she could not detect him. He knew, he knew she wanted to escape, but that bond that had snapped into place on the full moon. It was terrifying and ancient, a bond that had formed through her death. It would take death to break it and it had taken her a long time to accept that. So, she wasn't free, and he knew she couldn't escape. He relished in it, curled up his lips to flash her his blood-soaked canines. She had to stay calm. Rhydian. Mum. Dad. Mal. Isaac. Thomas. Alyassa. She began to repeat their names silently, in the dark corner of her mind where his probing couldn't reach. He was beginning to control the bond now, beginning to understand how to seep into her dreams at night. A nightmare, he was becoming a living nightmare and she knew she had to deal with it soon. Alyassa, that was a thought he would regularly visit in her dreams. So, she made it her goal to figure it out while she was awake. Alyassa, the girl with golden eyes. Golden eyes. A wolf's eyes. And this man, he was her father but his eyes were dark, almost as dark as his pupils. She'd gotten them from her mother then, passed down through one side of her family. There were things in her mind, links she was making that she just couldn't piece together.
That night, as she felt his claws seep into her thoughts, as she felt them tear up the image of Alyassa and her golden eyes that she had purposely been thinking of, she sent more images. Pictures of them in the woods the day they found her, replaying the scene, Alyassa calling him her father. He tore them all up. It hurt, the rage he was in, shredding images in her mind. It hurt, but she wouldn't stop. He would reveal something, she knew he would. Because this bond, it had started going two ways, and now she could feel his emotions… and sometimes, when his emotions were running high, she could hear his thoughts. As she watched him tear up those eyes, she felt one barrel through her. A single word: rebellion.
That morning, she left before he woke up. She couldn't go far, not without him sensing her, he could always find her now. But as she looked at him, a large black wolf sleeping in the forest, unafraid and uncaring of predators. She smiled, because he wasn't the only one who could always find her.
Taking her time, not wanting to disturb the earth, she walked towards a clearing that had become their meeting point. Something in her chest broke at the sight of him, at the way he stood. His back was to her unaware of her presence, his hands were in his pockets shielding him from the cold of the morning, the light from the canopy of leaves above playing on his hair. If she could draw like he could, she would have drawn him. He still didn't turn when she came behind him and changed, her paws becoming arms that she reached for him, pulling away before she could touch him. He jumped, startled but didn't move.
"You know, you're really good at that now. Scarily good." He was talking about her stealth. She had indeed been learning with the wild Wolfblood, she was becoming stronger. But she knew he only trained her because he was confident he wouldn't lose her. That this bond would become further cemented in time and there would be no way to break it. She wanted to bury her face in his back, taking in the scent of him, so familiar yet not, and he turned to face her she felt like crying. But instead she grinned as she looked up at him.
"Now who's the better tracker," she spoke, confidence in her quiet voice. She was still scared he could hear her. It was a risk, meeting Rhydian, it was always such a risk. Especially when she still couldn't locate him fully. But she would cover it up, every morning she would bring back a hunt, tell him she'd gone training, wash the smell of Rhydian away in the river. She would always make sure they never came by this route in their runs. At the beginning, he would follow her, thinking she didn't know. And on those days, she would just hunt and train. After a few weeks, he stopped following her and she would meet here on the border of their two territories with him. He smiled at her, reaching to move her hair aside with his hand, watching his own fingers as they curled up before he could touch her rather than looking at her.
"I hate this," he said, after a long silence. She couldn't look at him. Couldn't explain to him again how hard it was to get away. But she needed to, because every meeting with Rhydian made the hold He had on her relax, even if she couldn't touch him.
"Last night, when he thought about Alyassa, he mentioned rebellion. What do you think that means?" Rhydian stopped looking at his hand and frowned, thinking. It was playing in her mind, the word, over and over again. Something about it tugged at a thought from the past but she couldn't quite grasp it.
"Rebellion. Revolt. Uprising…" His words were a murmur.
"What?" She cut off his thoughts.
"From history, remember? French revolution?" Something was there, something she was so close to. Alyassa. She needed to speak to Alyassa. "You thought of something? What is it?" He was asking her something but her mind was a mess of words and images, sentences and scenes clicking into place. She needed to speak to Malory.
"I don't know, I'll think on it…" she trailed off, thinking for a moment. "How's everything? The pack?" She asked every time, and every time that lump formed in her throat. Rhydian sighed, hand coming up to rub his head. It was taking a toll on him, she could see that. Dark circles had formed beneath his eyes, he'd lost weight – not from lack of eating, though, she could see that- from over exerting himself, from the endless pacing through the woods she would dream of him doing at night.
"They miss you, everyone's worried. Mal's going crazy, it's like she's trying to start a pack fight the way she argues with Isaac. Ceri's trying to think of a way out of this, she's contacted all the pack's she can think of back home who might know something about it. Your parents… Well, they're struggling. Your mum's so angry she never stops moving, your dad's the opposite, he's just quiet a lot." That lump in her throat squeezed and she felt tears threaten to fall. Rhydian's own face was strained and she wanted to reach out to him, ached to just touch him once, but she couldn't. She couldn't risk the wild Wolfblood scenting him on her.
"You'll tell them, won't you? That I'm okay, and that I love them?" She lowered her head, watching the pattern of the dirt on the ground, crumbling because it was cold and had been disturbed by their feet.
"You know I will, Mads." He opened his mouth to say more, but closed it again. She knew what he was going to say, that she wasn't really okay. But what good would that have done when they couldn't find a way out of this.
"I'm okay. I'll be okay. Rhydian..." She started, focusing his attention on her. "I'm going to kill him." She watched as his eyes turned hard and icy, watched as her resolve dawned on him.
"Can you really do that, Mads. Could you kill him?" She didn't know. The idea of it made her sick. But for her freedom, for her pack, she would do anything. To ensure their safety, she could kill the threat. She said as much to him and he nodded.
"I'm with you, Maddy. When the time comes, I'm with you." She didn't need to touch him then, because no physical contact could compare to the emotion that played between them. The absolute understanding, the bond between them, the love that she could always see behind everything.
"I know, that's why I love you," she smiled at him. A genuine smile that he returned.
"Come back safe, okay. We're all waiting." With that, they left each other. One second there, the next gone. Like they had never been stood there at all. The woods remained untouched, the birds never halted their songs, as though even the forest was trying to hide them.