I let invisible hands tend to my mate and I. We were both too weak to take care of ourselves. The only thing I was strong enough to do was growl if anyone tried to pull David from my arms. Even near death I wouldn't risk letting him go. The hands took care of us as best as they could, reaching around my arms and in between us.
Otherwise I kept David held safe as I drifted in and out of consciousness. I accepted the food and water lifted to my lips, sighed as grime was scrubbed from my flesh. Even though I couldn't open my eyes I sensed that David had a similar appreciation. Finally after what seemed like forever, we were left alone. A blanket covered us and that was it.
I drifted. Then I woke.
My body seemed dead even as I started to rejoin the world. Everything was sluggish and disconnected. The one thing I was quickly aware of was the fact David wasn't wrapped in my arms anymore.
"-ave… D… Dave." I struggled to call out as I started to sit up. My mates hands touched my shoulders, trying to push me back down to the bed as my eyes struggled for sight.
"shh, Antony. I'm here." His soft voice assured me. I didn't stop moving and squirming until I managed to pull him down ontop of me again, despite my sleep-weakened state.
"Tony." His sweet voice whined to me. His tiny fingers found my hair, curling the locks around his fingers. "You have to eat something… Get up. You've been asleep for a whole day."
I didn't argue as much as I mulled over his words. David helped me sit up even though that seemed to drain what little energy I had. Rather than let him sneak away, I sat on the bed cross legged and pulled him down to sit in my lap. To be honest I felt like I lost all sense of time and awareness. All I could manage to feel was my mate in my arms. I didn't even have enough energy to feel afraid of what might happen if David pulled away.
My little mate fed me from a spoon some broth slowly. My love for him grew impossibly larger as broth dripped down my chin like an old man and David didn't laugh. He didn't smile, just picked up a cloth and dabbed the liquid from my chin. There was no pity in his eyes. Just concern and love. After that I closed my lips and refused to take another spoonful. Instead I squeezed whatever bits of david I had in my grip.
"Tony, please. Two more bites." Dave begged until he realized that wasn't my protest. Confused, he set aside the half empty bowl and sat up in my arms, so he was looking down at me slightly. His hands touched my shoulders the way he would whenever I lifted him in the sun, spinning him around as if trying to show the world what a perfect mate David was before bringing him down into my arms, making sure the world knew who was blessed enough to have him. Now he didn't look happy of course. It didn't matter.
"What is it, Tony? You'll get sick if you don't-"
"Ki… me." I grunted, my throat dry and tongue numb.
"What?" Giving a frustrated noise, I tried to pull David down and kiss him, needing to feel his lips. I barely managed to half bite his jaw instead as I lost my balance. "Tony!"
"Kiss!" I demanded, panting as I slid down. Blankets were tangled around my legs, making any attempt to right myself pointless. Now on my back, David lay across my belly. He laughed, finally. The sound was twisted with tears and resisted sobs but it was beautiful all the same.
"You impossible man! Impossible, greedy, insatiable m-" I jerked my mate down, silencing him with a hard kiss. My heavy hand made sure david couldn't wiggling away or resist.
Unfortunately I couldn't keep up the kiss for very long and soon let go of my mate so I could pant to the side, feeling dizzy. David was still for several moments, letting me pant and come down from my exhaustion. When I recovered for the most part, he ran a gentle hand through my hair.
"You need to take it slow, Anthony. We're both hurting pretty bad." Dave whispered. My eyes reflected my understanding and agreement. I trusted him to take care of me even though I was dominant to him.
After David forced the remainder of the broth down my throat and helped me lay down, I held him with one arm wondering about us. Before this whole ordeal I didn't think of him the way I did now. It wasn't like I consciously distrusted my soul mate. Yet I was aware of a deeper understanding and trust. Perhaps it had taken running off stupidly, abandoning my love carelessly to realize we shouldn't be a dominant-submissive pair but more… equal.
"I love you." I whispered more sincerely than I'd ever remember. My David barely schnuffled in his sleep in response. That was enough to satisfy me. "I love you." My voice whispered once more before the dark ceiling faded as I slept.
There was a lot of confusion happening before we could leave the Frost pack. Bill had killed their alpha and because Frost had kept them so weak for so long, none were able to take the position. As desperate as I was to go home I knew Fenrir couldn't leave them yet and I wasn't about to leave my mate. I did my best to relax in the corner with the others of our pack, thinking to myself that I never expected being the alphas mate would be such hard work. Being separated half the time and having almost no time to ourselves. I knew Fenrir did all he could to make sure he had time for me as well. But these last few weeks were particularly draining.
Draco lay at my side, half sleeping. Recovering from the panic when Bill ran off scaring him. His hands rubbed his belly absentmindedly, soothing the tiny life growing inside. After he passed out many of the mothers, including those of Frosts pack worried and fretted over him. He was clearly pregnant and everyone assumed the worst. Knowing how concerned wolves were over pregnant mates made me smile. Made me glad too because I knew my pup would be well cared for even if something bad happened to Fenrir or I.
"What do you think is going to happen?" A voice whispered, taking me out of my thoughts. I looked down to see Draco watching our mates discussing with several of the packs strongest protectors. The ones who were even more starved and beaten than the mothers or children. As far as I could tell they did their best to take the brunt of Frosts wrath. They expressed that it was out of protective instincts for their family but I suspected their alpha targeted them to take away hope. If he kept them weak there was no way they could get out from under him.
"I don't know." I answered honestly in a quiet voice. I ran my fingers through his hair absentmindedly, staring off towards our mates as I returned to my thoughts. For the most part Bill and Fenrir looked rather sad. They were learning just how badly our allies had it with their alpha, the things he had done. I could see it on their faces. The sadness was mixed with horror. None of us could completely fathom how anyone could hurt them so much, hurt anyone. I think it confused my own pack. My history with the Dursleys was nothing in comparison but I felt as though I understood at least a little.
After a long time of staring and thinking and petting Draco, I felt a wave of relief. Fenrir had ended the discussion and was now approaching us. I looked up and reached up to him with both arms like an infant child begging to be picked up. He did as I silently asked, lifting me to my feet and into his arms.
"How are you feeling love?" His deep voice asked. I nodded as if tired and laid my head on his chest. Being separated for so long all I could think of at moments was how badly I needed him. Perhaps when I was sixteen I might have been concerned about my dependency but then again I didn't love as deeply then as I did now.
"We can go home now. Theres going to be some changes but it'll all be okay." Fenrir assured me, rubbing the back of my neck.
"What changes?" I half whimpered, scared that more terrible things would happen. That Fenrir would leave me behind again. My heart raced, my mind pulling in every direction over different worried thoughts. But my mate pulled me flush against his chest, pushing his hand over my heart as if to hold it safely in my chest.
"There is no reason to fear my mate. We are going to travel back to our home. Some of our pack will volunteer to stay. Some of the Frost pack will come with us." Fenrir promised although he left something out. I could see it, practically hear it in his voice.
I knew we couldn't just leave them but at the same time there wasn't room back home. Every available space was in use even to the point that some talked of digging new rooms into the mountain while others discussed leaving the pack to search for a new home. These individuals merely wanted to see the world and find a home somewhere else. Some did leave and we held a small going away party for them, wishing them the best of luck and assuring them they always had a home there.
"I'll start the preparations, Alpha." I heard Bill say as he paused to hold Draco and rub his mates belly to soothe the unborn life.
Fenrir nodded understandingly before helping me walk from the cave. "I want you to know I am sorry, Harry. I've been a terrible alpha and a worse mate-"
I stopped with a frustrated sigh. My alpha immediately looked at me with a terrified expression, as if he believed I finally saw the reason he did for me to leave him. Of course that wasn't even remotely true. Instead I looked at him with all the frustration I had built up. My fears sunk down as did my anger but my disappointment remained the same.
"You have got to stop apologizing Fenrir." I told him firmly. I could see his initial fear fading to shock. I continued. "Listen, I get that you're sorry. I know you understand what you did was wrong but constantly apologizing is just making it worse. I'm so angry with you for all of this but that doesn't change the fact that I love you. Forgiveness isn't going to come easy and it isn't going to come with pleading apologies. So please just give it a rest."
I didn't know what my words would do to him and I was too tired to be worried about it. Fenrir just stared at me for a moment before looking away and staring off for a bit longer. "I don't know what to say…?" He muttered, seemingly lost. We were both men but I hadn't heard something so stereotypically male out of him, not in a long time.
"I don't need you to say anything. I just need you." I told him. I didn't quite know what I meant by that but Fenrir seemed to make some sense of it. His shock wore off into his own self disappointment and sadness.
My alpha crouched to scoop me up and hold me close to his chest. I automatically relaxed letting myself be nuzzled and cradled affectionately.
"I love you." He whispered simply, his voice brushing my ear like a carefree breeze. The troubled, anxious knots in my chest loosened. For the briefest moment I felt much better. I echoed Fenrir's words back to him, closing my eyes. It was easy to forget everything going on around us.
When our stolen moment ended, he set me back down on my feet, kissing me to seal it. I touched his cheek with one hand staring into his stormy eyes. "What did you want to tell me?" I asked. I knew my mated one well. It almost made me smile to see the complete lack of surprise in Fenrirs expression. Being able to keep his secrets to himself was a proud point to him.
"You know we can't help these people. Not the way they need in the short term." Fenrir said point blank. I nodded, trying to keep my mind from finishing my alphas words and come to assumptions. "The most we can do is take the sick ones back home with us, to our healers and send some food back for the rest. They don't have an alpha to take care of them, Harry. Bill is the one that killed him."
He said the last part as some sort of serious punchline with a deep emphasis. Like Darthvader telling Luke Skywalker who he was. I stared back confused by it. "What does that mean? Does Bill have to stay here?"
"He doesn't have to. But as the one who defeated the alpha who had no successors, it is his right. I've spoken to him about this and he's decided to stay. He said the service he did would not be worth anything if they didn't have a good leader in his place. I support Bill in this. He's ready to be an alpha." Fenrir explained to me. I took a deep breath, looking away. I knew Fenrir was giving up his best friend by supporting but it made me especially sad knowing Draco would go with him. They were close enough to visit but as both our mates would be alphas, we would be lucky to see each other once a year. My mind was already thinking of how hard it would be to make a visit happen. It couldn't be during the harvest, a pack would need every hand they could get. In the winter it would be a poor choice. The mother of the forest was always careful to direct the worst of the snows away from the caves but the land surrounding the caves would be piled high with snow. Plus our children would be born soon. How could be travel such a great distance with our young ones?
Fenrir pulled me to him with a hand on my back, breaking my thoughts. "Do not worry, love. I know you'll miss Draco. For the moment, we will take our pack home with as much of Bills pack as we can manage. We'll all have some time to say good bye." He promised me, kissing my forehead.
"Does Draco know?" I asked of him.
"Yes." Bills voice interrupted. We looked up to see him standing there. Knowing what was going to happen, he seemed a little more tired looking than before. "I just wanted to let you both know, we're ready to go. Our hunters are leaving enough game to hopefully last those staying behind until I return."
Giving a sad face, I gave our friend a hug. He was still for a moment but returned it all the same. "Thanks Harry. Take care of the bloke will you?" I nodded against his chest, sad to know he would be leaving us. Fenrir pulled me from Bills arms gently as if he suspected I would cry again and refuse to let Bill go. Managing a smile, we rejoined our family and started the journey home.