I wrote this entirely while working, lol. I just finished typing it up to my computer. Working a double has its advantages and strangely enough, today I felt very creative while waiting tables. Could be that I was at work for almost 15 hours…
Bitten – Part 12
She sat outside, listening to the night, listening to the forest and listening to herself. She took a deep breath and then another, feeling truly awake for the first time in her life. There was a shift on the floor boards and then a creak as Francis came up from behind her and sat down, handing her a cup of tea as she made herself comfortable on the veranda steps. They sat in silence for a while, though it wasn’t uncomfortable.
Vaughn shifted so that she could look at Francis. The woman was truly an enigma. A part of her was so normal; the part of her that worked than tended to her garden and which still wrote essays for universities. Yet, the other part of her was wild and magical and wise beyond knowledge. Her life would not be easy- ever – but not because she wanted it to be. She chose this odd life and embraced what was pushed her way rather than running away from it. She had a gift and it was called Understanding. Vaughn found herself smiling as she reached out and touched the woman’s leg.
“What happened after I was bitten?” she asked sofly, breaking the silence. “Did you… I mean… Benjamin?”
Francis turned to look at her and smiled slightly. “Did I shoot the boy?” she queried with a chuckle, making Vaughn blush. “I saw him on the ground,” she confessed. “I thought that you had.”
Francis chuckled softly and sighed, looking out to the forest. Romulus came from behind them and went to lie at her feet. Now that she paid attention Vaughn realized that he too looked a little worse for wear. There were scratches and bite marks on his chest and legs but considering that he was still here she figured that the other dog must’ve looked worse.
“A part of me wanted to,” Francis said finally as she pushed her one foot into Romulus’s fur and rubbed his belly. “This wasn’t the first time these lads tried it but it was the first time that I was able to stop them in time. I could feel Athena’s anger and need to get home, needing to harm those trying to kill her cubs. She has lost two litters in the past three years. So, when the lad struck his lighter and threatened to kill them I didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.” She paused and smiled at Vaughn. “But I didn’t kill him love. The thing about life is that you can’t always do what you want because sometimes it’s just not the right thing to do. So, I fired next to him, making him drop the lighter and dynamite stick.” She trailed off and sighed, pulling her leg back so that she could hug her knees to her chest. “Athena didn’t mean to bite you,” she said softly. “She was scared and focused on protecting me and her cubs. They had been out hunting on the far side of the mountain when she heard Romulus’s call. When you pushed John out of the way she just reacted on instinct and grabbed you instead.” The look she gave Vaughn was almost apologetic.
Touching the bite, Vaughn shivered and wondered what would’ve happened if Athena had grabbed her by the throat. It was strange but in a sense she remembered attacking herself. She remembered standing in a stream and smelling the air as she heard Romulus’s call of alarm. As she remembered running through the forest after Bucephalus, she remembered running towards the den. One memory wolf, the other human but both hers now.
She swallowed and let her hand drop to her lap.
“What’s going to happen now?” she queried, feeling suddenly fearful. “I mean, those boys will cause a lot of trouble for you. They are just looking for legal reason to harm you.”
Francis’s smile wasn’t quite as friendly when she shrugged. “I trust that nothing will come of it,” she said slowly. “Nothing has and if they would’ve done something then they’d have done so already. You see, after you fell, the boy Benjamin couldn’t pick up himself up from the ground fast enough to run down the track – leaving quite a stink behind him I have to add. And John…” She paused and sighed – looking at her hands. “At first he ran to the truck; grabbing his dog away from Romulus who had managed to pin him down and almost suffocate him senseless. He leapt into the truck and drove off which gave me the space to get Athena off of you. I could see that you had lost your senses and admittedly for a moment I panicked, knowing that we were miles away from my cottage with no quick way to get there. Athena rushed off to see if her cubs were alright and I tried to asses the damage that had been done. While I was busy, I suddenly heard Bucephalus coming back at a quick trot and when I looked up I saw John riding him back, his face ashen and smelling of fear. He didn’t say anything but helped me get you on the horse. I have to believe that he felt remorse or rather responsible for what happened to you. Which is why I hope he won’t cause anymore trouble.”
She turned to smile at Vaughn and for the first time she saw a hint of tears in the older woman’s eyes. Again she felt an overwhelming sense of love for the woman and reached out to touch her leg.
“You’re putting a lot of faith in the good of humanity,” she said quietly. “Assuming that John wouldn’t do anything because he felt guilty.” When Francis snorted she knew that the woman was contemplating the same thing.
“I have to,” she said quietly – not looking at Vaughn. “I have to do it to keep on believing that I’m better off in my cottage, pretending to have some kind of a normal life as opposed to getting lost with the wolves.” She blinked suddenly and angrily wiped at tears that had snuck down her cheeks. “Sitting here has to be worth something.”
Vaughn heard Romulus whine but, with her new sense, she heard the comfort in his voice, saw the subtle gestures she’s always missed. But, she also knew that right now Francis needed a human gesture, a conformation that being a person was worth just as much as being a wolf. So, she leaned forward carefully and hugged the woman who had changed her life. Francis stiffened at first and then softened into her embrace.
“I’m sorry for my part in this,” Vaughn said softly as she pressed a gentle kiss on her lover’s cheek. Francis shook her head and pulled away from her, turning so that she could touch her cheek.
“You saved them Siobhan” she said softly. “If it wasn’t for you – they would’ve died.” She seemed to want to lean forward and kiss her but hesitated, unsure if she was still allowed to.
Vaughn smiled at her and gladly leaned forward to meet her halfway, brushing her soft lips with a light kiss.
‘It’s alright,’ she found herself thinking. ‘It’s going to be alright.’
Francis deepened her kiss; allowing her hands to move to Vaughn’s back. ‘I know,’ her touch sang to Vaughn’s new perception. ‘That’s why I have hope.’
Vaughn, mindful of her sore shoulder, also allowed her hands to travel to Francis’s back, moving her fingers until they brushed her hair. ‘And me,’ her touch confirmed. ‘You have me.’
To Be Continued…