It was exactly as I remembered it. But I suppose that was to be expected since, in my memories, I last saw this place only three years from now.
The school consisted of only werewolves since our pack had that luxury. In fact, our whole territory was unknown to the humans so we had complete secrecy and safety.
I walked past the crowds of kids who were all chatting away in their groups, ignoring that I was even there, but it didn‘t bother me. That was how school had always been. Everyone either hated me or was too scared to talk to me because of the assumption I would be the future Luna. This was fine though. I was always too busy with study to pay much attention to the whole social part.
I‘d walked straight into the main building, full of confidence, before I realised that I didn‘t even know where I was going. I couldn‘t even remember where my locker was, let alone what my classes were meant to be for the day. I don’t think it was feasible for anyone to remember that sort of thing from ten years ago.
Awkwardly, I pulled out my school diary from my backpack and referred to my daily schedule, finding! had four subjects today, History, Math, Lore and English. Easy enough. Knowing my past self, I would have already handed in all my assignments and homework early so I didn‘t need to worry about any surprises there.
Suddenly, the first bell then rang out for class, breaking me from my thoughts, and I headed off towards the room my first class would take place. Thankfully, I only got lost once along the way.
However, it definitely felt as though I was getting more stares than I remembered. Not that I particularly cared about what they thought of me. I wasn‘t able to forget the fact that they had all abandoned me so easily, even cheering on my death. So, it wasn‘t like I was trying to impress them any time soon… even if their stares were making me uncomfortable.
T headed straight into the class, walking past the rows of students until I reached an empty seat at the back by the window. There was nothing they could possibly teach me that I didn‘t already know and I had too much on my mind to focus on the menial subject. However, this only seemed to warrant more glances from everyone.
I guess it would be considered strange if the girl who always diligently sat at the front suddenly sat at the back with the kids who weren‘t trying.
But before I could consider it further, a voice then broke me from my thoughts.
“Who died?” someone asked, questioning the remark towards myself.
My heart stopped as the question triggered a trauma inside me, and I looked up startled to see Brayden. Except I didn‘t just see him.
For just a moment, my vision flickered and I saw the trial grounds, the cold moonlit night. I saw Brayden standing at the podium, condemning me with his bullshit evidence about Thea. I saw my death.
‘This isn‘t real…this isn‘t real…this isn’t real‘. My mind kept repeating it like a mantra to snap myself out of i
But within a blink of my eye, instantly I was back in a classroom seated before just a teenage boy. Just a stupid teenager, not a man who had testified in my murder trial, advocating for my death. And though only a second had passed, it somehow had felt like an eternity.
I looked down towards what he was staring at and noticed he was gazing at my dress. Just my attire alone was enough to warrant this reaction?
I breathed out a sigh of relief, realising he was just being sarcastic about my choice in all black clothing today. But it was an odd feeling to think he might have actually remembered my death for a second there.
Truthfully, I‘d completely forgotten that Brayden and I were even in the same grade, but I especially didn‘t remember him ever having spoken to me in the past outside of a professional setting. Was this an attempt at… bullying me? Was a change in clothes all it took?
He was known as the popular boy in school given his rank but it seemed like an odd choice for him to target me suddenly. My family ranked higher than his, not to mention I was basically considered mated to Aleric already at this age.
Though despite his age, I couldn‘t help but feel bitter at him. It was a wave of unspoken anger towards him for an act of injustice he hadn‘t even committed yet, but I was angry nonetheless.
And so, I took a deep breath to calm myself, turning to face Brayden head–on.
“Yes, Brayden, I was in mourning. But I now know there was no need,” I replied, staring at him dead in the eye. “You see, I thought that unoriginal joke of yours had already died a while ago but, lo‘ and behold, here it is! Truly a miracle from the Goddess.”
There was silence from the entire class as Brayden looked as if I‘d just told him he had a third ear. Enough for everyone to become too shocked to move, unsure of how to respond. However, it didn‘t take long before someone up the front burst into laughter, quickly prompting the whole class to join in.
The teacher came in after that and swiftly had everyone quietly working in no time. But I stared out the window for the lesson, barely paying attention as the class went by in a blur.
Once the bell for the end of the period had rung, I immediately stood up and grabbed my backpack, leaving quickly to avoid further conversation. Though, I couldn‘t help but notice the weary look Brayden gave as I walked by his desk.
I found out not long afterwards that I was suddenly the talk of the school, making this discovery as I was standing in the lunch line. Normally, there was no need to go to the cafeteria since I usually had a lunch bag prepared for me, but I realised too late that I‘d left it at home today, forgetting we even needed that sort of thing. I was so used to doing business in my office with someone delivering me meals every day.
I‘d need to be more careful from now on. There was a lot of smaller details to remember.
It was as I was almost at the front of the queue that I picked up a conversation several people back between two girls. My name was spoken, instantly drawing my attention.
“Did you see Ariadne today?” the first girl asked in a hushed voice.
“No, why?” the other replied.
“Shhh, she‘s a few people ahead so be careful, don‘t be so loud. She‘s wearing all black today. Doesn‘t she normally wear those really girly dresses every day?”
“Oh yeah, you‘re right. You know what‘s crazy though? This isn‘t even the first time I‘ve heard people talking about her today,” the second girl added. “Get this…my friend is in her History class and they said she spoke today. It wasn‘t even for like a question from the teacher. She was talking to Brayden before the class had even started.”
“What? You‘re kidding?”
“No! And get this… she made a joke.”
I didn‘t want to hear anymore as I got to the front of the queue. Grateful for the excuse to leave, I quickly grabbed an apple and left directly to the library. Somehow, I didn‘t feel so hungry anymore.
I‘d never realised that people paid so much attention to my behaviour. I knew I kept to myself but that was mostly due to my studies, and it wasn‘t like anyone had really made an effort to talk to me either. Today had definitely felt different though. It felt like people were noticing me more all of a sudden when I was used to being ignored. Had I changed something in the past already by doing such simple things? A change of clothes and a sarcastic remark in class?
I remembered the library well. There was a desk in the back corner that was always free, that being because I always occupied it every day.
I walked directly to the seat and pulled out a notebook and pen, taking several bites of my apple on the way. I had a lot to go over and needed privacy in order to organise my thoughts.
Okay… What did I know?
I knew that something terrible happens after I die but that there were no specific details of what that was. The Goddess did mention before she left that all werewolves would fall when I did. So, what was something strong enough to wipe out an entire species?
I shook my head. No, I needed to focus on the things that I did know. Like what causes my death? Of which, there were three main things I could think of; Aleric, my Luna position, and, of course, the biggest one, Thea.
The Goddess said that she couldn‘t change my mate because it could have potentially rewritten my entire identity. However, she didn‘t mention anything about having to accept that relationship or become Luna, just that it was the fate that she had chosen for me.
…But, she had also told me that I could choose my own destiny now. Did that mean I could just…reject Aleric and the Luna position? But how would I even begin to explain why I didn‘t want to be Luna? Or why I didn‘t want to be with my mate?
I had four years until my coming of age where it would be publicly revealed that Aleric is my mate, and then it would be another year after that before Aleric‘s father passes and we ascend to become Alpha and Luna. This meant that I needed to find a way to escape that outcome before those events happened.
The good news was that at the age of sixteen, Aleric would be currently on an exchange trip to an ally pack. It was common for the future heirs of ranked positions to spend a year or so learning from allies to become more independent. It was also used as a political tool to strengthen ties with that pack for the future.
But it did mean that I only had one year or so before I would have to come face–to–face with Aleric again. And to be honest, I didn‘t think I was emotionally ready to face him any time soon. The sound of the blade hitting my neck was still echoing inside my brain, never leaving me alone.
Right now, the biggest threat was Thea. She would be the hardest one to figure out because she managed to hide her true self from me the entire time I knew her. I also knew basically nothing about her or her background.
I was pretty sure I met her for the first time when I was sixteen or seventeen, but given the complexities of her schemes, I was pretty sure she must have had someone watching me without my knowledge earlier. She was one year older than me, making it possible that she had already set her sights on Aleric.
So, what was my plan to ultimately stop my death? Secretly kill Thea? Run away? Find another pack?
All of these options seemed wrong or not possible yet. Killing Thea would be reckless and really risky, and finding another pack would be impossible since I was now a fourteen year old girl with no social connections. Running away was still the best option, but I would definitely not survive alone out there in the wild as a rogue. Not until my coming of age at least when I would get my wolf back. However, I knew running would also put my parents in a difficult position so I needed to be careful.
The bell for class then chimed and I realised I still needed more time to think about my plans. At least I knew I had two things to work on in the meantime though; sniff out anyone spying on me for Thea, and collect as much independent income as possible in case I ended up needing to run away. I figured amassing funds into the family accounts would be easily monitored and suspicious, so I needed to focus on building my own wealth instead.
Luckily for me, I literally knew the future. Saving up some funds wouldn‘t be too difficult.
Ah, but then again, the detail I keep forgetting…I was only fourteen. I would need an adult to conduct the business on my behalf until I was older, legally being unable to operate my own finances.
My mind went to Lucy first but the thought of trusting another attendant made me feel sick. Thinking of Sophie still made my heart ache. However… however, it may just be my only chance without drawing suspicion.
I decided I would need to test her, making sure this time their loyalty could be relied upon. I refused to make the same mistake as last time.
But all the while, as I was still thinking everything out in the library, I had completely forgotten that the bell had rung and I was now going to be late.
| quickly gathered up my bag and ran out.
I ran out into the hallway… and straight into the shoulder of someone coming from the opposite direction