The pack elders stand in a loose circle around me. They’re not here to support me or encourage me. They’re here to put me down if I lose control. It’s my twelfth full moon after my sixteenth birthday. Tonight I become a full pack member or die. The pack has no place for wolves who can not control themselves.
The woods call to me. The dark concealing night beckons me. I want to run. To howl with my packmates. To hunt. To taste that spurt of blood as my jaws clamp down on my prey. It’s the greatest feeling. Being set free to just be. My body wants it so bad I slip a little.
My father frowns as my spine cracks. I force the change back. Pushing away thoughts of hunting, of running under the moon. The need to change burns through my bones. I take a deep breath, slowly through my nose, releasing it through clenched teeth. My skin crawls with the need to sprout fur.
Another deep breath. I glance at my father. His stern gaze seems to chid me being weak. I’ve heard the stories, we’ve all heard the stories, of his test. How he stood tall proud the whole night through. Never once slipping control.
I’m on my knees from the pain. My bones ache to reform to shift to become. I’ve almost lost control three times. It’s fine; so long as I don’t fully change I’ll have passed the test, in the pack’s eyes. But not in my father’s.
Hours pass. The moon’s pull lessens as the sun rises until I can stand without trembling. I’ve passed. I’m a full member of the pack now. No longer a cub to anyone, except to my father. One by one they pass me brushing lightly against a shoulder. We are pack. Then they leave.
He watches the others leave before approaching me. He grabs my shoulders, looks me in the eyes, smiles and says, “I am so proud of you.” He pulls me into a hug so tight I almost can’t breath.
“I almost changed,” I sputter.
“Everyone almost changes the first time,” he says.
He pulls back so I can see his face his smile, “I did.”
“But everyone says..”
“Everyone exaggerates. I’m the pack leader. They want to believe I’m stronger than them. That I can protect them. But the truth is I’m not a superwolf. I’m just another werewolf like them.”
“Because I’ve chosen to protect them. From the outside and from themselves. Ok Pup, that’s enough pack politics. Your mother is waiting for us at the Ihop.”
Author’s Note: This is a little flash fic that is loosely part of a larger idea story idea I’ve had. A world where werewolves are not savage beasts waiting to run amuck but civilized in their own way. They still have the capacity to be brutal killing machines but have learned to tame their inner wolves. Anyone who doesn’t learn or can’t learn is killed to protect the pack.
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