Patricia sighed and tossed the book onto the table, a soft “thunk” sounding as the tome struck the wood of the tabletop. The sound echoed through the cavernous library, but no one appeared to her off for her noisemaking. Her sigh, long and deep, was also left unchallenged in the place of learning. Her ears twitched at the deafening silence that came after, and Patricia looked about the Library only now realizing the cause of her isolation: Nightfall had come once again.
“But that can’t be…” She muttered, standing up and stretching her lithe frame. A yawn escaped her mouth as she did, and she placed a black, fur-covered paw over her mouth to stifle it unsuccessfully. Her wolf-like tail swished behind her during the stretch and her canine ears twitched, as if remembering they were there for more than show. After cracking her neck she began to gather up her supplies, a stack of books and various papers covered in notes, before her hand rested upon on particular tome, an aged book with multiple bookmarks labeled, “Phallia’s Mixed Blessings: A Compilation of Legends on the Goddess of Plants.”
She grunted and put it on top of the pile, preparing to get back to work right after having some food. She’d spent the better part of two weeks on this particular book due to its relevance to the world as it stood. But like all creatures, she needed food every now and then and besides, stretching might help her think better. As she made to leave, a voice called out behind her, one which made her back go rigid and her tail stand up straight.
“Patricia! Hey! Didn’t know you were still here!”
Patricia turned with mechanical slowness, like a magitek clock ticking, as she took in her addressor. He was a tall man of early twenties with strong shoulders and a frame and looked like it spent just enough time exercising to be lean, but not enough to have many visible muscles through his tight shirt and trousers. His perfect white teeth showed as he smiled at her and used his free hand to push away his messy brown hair from his spectacles, the other holding a stack of books.
“You still have those bags under your eyes, are you sleeping properly?”
“Huh? My… eyes? Oh! OH!” Patricia blushed furiously and put a over her face to hide the embarrassment. “S…sorry, I guess I’ve b…been a little busy.”
“Haha, always so shy. Come on, you don’t have to hide that face of yours, though I’m sure it would look much nicer if you got some proper sleep.”
Patricia’s mouth went dry at the compliment. Many people had hailed her as a gifted young scholar, a paragon of the written word, and even an expert in religious history and mythology. She could walk into a room full of professors, man and Monster alike, and command their attention for an entire two hour session with nary a sleeping eye. And yet here she was, floundering like a fish out of water in front of a BOY, no matter how cute his dimples were.
“I have to say, you’re always so funny when you’re tired, blushing and stammering like that. I’ve heard your speeches though, so when you’re in form you’re clearly in form.” He shook his head and adjusted his glasses again before continuing. “Still, it’s getting pretty late. Have you eaten yet?”
“Ah… no, I uhm. Haven’t.”
“Huh, is that so? Would you like to go to the cafeteria then? I think they’re still open.”
Patricia felt a fluttering in her heart so powerful she almost fainted. No, no she had to be strong! If that damn Saya could find herself a boyfriend, she certainly could as well! Still, for someone to be so forward was very off putting for her. Summoning up all her courage, she made to reply with an affirmative when the sound of padded feet on tile floors echoed through the Library and a young, female voice cried,
The man and Wolfgirl turned in unison as another Wolfgirl sped around the corner and used her enhanced senses and reflexes to slide across the floor, coming to a stop before the two. Panting, the girl smiled with a face that looked like Patricia’s but younger and with brilliant grey eyes instead of her green ones. As the little Wolf finished the motion, she pointed a furred paw at Patricia and said in an overly dramatic tone, “I have been sent to find you, rapscallion!”
Both Patrick and Patricia stared at the little Monster, her prepubescent chest rising and falling as she did her best to hold a pose that she must have considered to be suitably heroic. An awkward silence pervaded the room and the girl’s smile faltered under the gaze of the older scholars. She gulped and took a less dramatic stance before saying, “Uhm. That is, hi sis.”
Patricia groaned, placing a paw on her forehead in shame rather than embarrassment. She growled out, “Beli, what are you DOING here?”
“Duh, bringing you home for dinner.”
“I’m not a child anymore!” Patricia said, throwing her paws up in the air. “Come on, you can’t just barge in here and tell me to go home for dinner!”
Beli huffed and stamped her padded foot on the floor. “But you said you’d be coming to dinner tonight!”
“When did I say… ” Patricia began before she drifted off, vaguely remembering promising to come home to see her family a few weeks ago just to shut her Mother up and let her get back to work. She groaned and shook her head, realizing her bone-headed mistake.
“Come on, Mom is going to get mad if we’re not home before Dad.”
Patricia rubbed her face with her paw, trying to find a way out of this so she could still go to dinner with Patrick, but before she could come up with any excuse, the man chuckled and said, “Ah, I see you already have plans. You go and be with your family tonight. Maybe some other time.” He gave her that wonderful little smile again and turned to go, leaving Patricia reaching for him with a stricken expression.
“Ufufufu, you liiiiiikkkeeeee him!” Beli said, giggling.
Patricia wheeled on the little girl, lashing out to grasp her with her claws, but the girl danced away nimbly, still giggling. “Patricia and what’s his face, sitting in a tree, F-U-C-K-“
“Beli! You naughty little thing!” Patricia said, scowling. “Wherever did you learn that?”
The little Wolfgirl rolled her eyes, “Come on sis, everyone knows these things.”
Patricia’s cheeks went red as she muttered, “I didn’t…”
Beli’s ears twitched and she giggled again before turning to pad away, calling out, “Come on, we need to go!”
Giving one last, forlorn look to where Patrick left, Patricia finished gathering up her supplies and headed after her younger sister, grumbling to herself about missed opportunities and how her Mother managed to cause her trouble once again.
“We’re hoooooome!” Beli called, pushing open the door before taking a rather smug pose in the entryway. Patricia sighed and gave her sister a noogie, causing the smaller Wolfgirl to squeal and rub at her head, giving her elder sister a scowl.
“Yaaaaaay Big Sis is home!” A duo of voices called from another room, and two more Wolfgirls with gray hair raced into the room to dive at Patricia’s feet. The larger Monster couldn’t evade in time and she barely managed to keep her balance as the two attached themselves firmly to her legs through her robes.
“Uhh, hi Ignila, Lily.” She said, gently reaching down to pat the heads of the smallest Wolves. The older of the two, eight year old Ignila, beamed up at her sister with a grin missing a few teeth while the other, little four year old Lily, merely snuffled into her sister’s robes.
Patricia sighed but couldn’t stay mad at her two youngest sisters. Despite being nearly sixteen years apart from Lily, she still felt that sisterly bond that she shared with all of her sisters, though she was quite glad that her Father had put his foot down on having more than five children despite her Mother’s protests.
“Did you miss us, Patwicia?” Lily asked, looking up at the older girl.
Patricia sighed and said, “Yes, of course I did little pup.”
“But why don’t you come home then?”
“I… I’ve been busy and…” She trailed off, unable to name the true reason she didn’t come home as she didn’t want to say it in front of her sisters. Her ears perked up when another Wolfgirl entered the entryway. Older than all the others save Patricia herself, she stood apart with her regal posture and long, brown hair with shining blue eyes. Glancing over the assembled pack of Wolfgirls, she coughed into her furred paw, adjusted her pink dress, and said,
“Young ones, pray behave yourselves when our eldest sister is present.”
The three younger Monsters pouted and turned to the newcomer. Beli huffed and stamped her foot down as she crossed her arms and said, “Awww come on Minfilia, just because you’re older than us doesn’t mean that you can boss us around!”
Minfilia sniffed and raised her nose up as she replied, “Of course it does.”
“Hey… if that works, then if Patricia says it’s fine, then it’s fine, right?” Ignila asked, eyes sparkling.
Patricia rolled her eyes and waved her arm weakly. “I think for this moment it would be best to listen to Minfilia, no matter how overbearing she is.”
“Hmph!” Minfilia sniffed, putting on an expression that, for all intents and purposes, appeared just as childish as her younger sisters. But what did Patricia expect? The girl was only fifteen and with her older sister away, she had to grow from being shy to being the head of the house while her sisters were still young. Of course, Patricia had no idea where the formerly flighty fifteen year old had picked up such… imperious habits.
“Come then.” Minfilia said, waving her paw. “Dinner is to be ready soon, and the three of you should wash up before coming to the table.”
“Mom never tells us to wash up…” Ignila grumbled and Minfilia raised an eyebrow.
“Mother also grew up in a forest.”
“I like the forest! It’s fun! I can run around all I want!” Lily said, eyes sparkling. “I even rode on a bear once!”
The others devolved into little random outbursts as Minfilia herded them away into to the kitchens, giving Patricia a knowing look before finishing the motion. She watched them leave and sighed before looking about the household that she grew up in.
From rags to riches, such was the story of the Boudreaux family. A young man groomed to become a great Hero meets a half-starved, sex-crazed Wolfgirl in the forest. Theirs was a story right out of a fairy tale. Hells, it BECAME a fairy tale and sold rather well! It even had a happily ever after, with the Great Hero and his wife settling down to having five, adorable little pups which the Mother looked after as their Father officiated the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood.
Every time she saw this house, three storied and a masterpiece of architecture with marble pillars and fine wooden paneling, she was reminded just how wonderful her parents were. Then there she was, just the bookworm who spent all her time in the library reading old and obscure texts. She had accepted this fact, that it was her choice to make, but she knew that her inner turmoil was just a prelude to what would happen soon, what always happened. Breaking herself out of her thoughts, she walked forward out of the foyer and into the dining hall.
Spacious, but not overly ostentatious, the dining hall could fit some twenty people if they were hosting a party. As it stood, there were only seven places set , four of which were occupied by the younger Wolfgirls, all clamoring about the table and generally causing a ruckus. Beli had already taken to scratching at the previously mended tablecloth and Minfilia had to stop Lily from eating a decorate flower, but she noticed that her Mother was absent from the room which was likely why such was coccuring.
Patricia briefly considered finding some excuse to leave again when she felt strong paws on her back, causing her to go rigid. Hot breath hissed into her ears and a predatory voice growled, “Where do you think you’ve been, pup?” She closed her eyes and regained her composure before sighing out,
The presence behind her shifted from one of predatory power to joviality, and the paw on her back shifted to her head, rubbing her bookish hair into even more of a mess. Patricia cried out in alarm and tried to push away the assault, but a moment later the attack turned into a hug, the arms of her Mother crushing her ribs and forcing the breath out of her.
The pressure suddenly abated and Patricia hunched over, regaining her breath. She heard a feminine chuckle behind her and she turned about to see her Mother, wolfish grin stretching from ear to ear. She pinched her darling daughter’s cheeks with paws the same color as Patricia’s and said, “Hello dear!”
“M…Mother, can you not try to crush me to death?”
“Bah, you don’t visit in so long, how am I supposed to get rid of this pent up love for you?”
“I don’t know, use Beli instead?” From the Dining Hall the little Wolfgirl looked at the two in abject horror, shaking her head vigorously in the negative as their Mother laughed.
“Of course not, I have a special love for each of you. Yours just takes the form of frustration for trying to avoid your Mother.”
Patricia sighed and looked up at her Mother, inspecting her. It hadn’t been THAT long since they last saw each other. A month or two at Saya and Tobias’s little victory party? Couldn’t have been THAT much longer, right? Still, her Mother, Hala, hadn’t seemed to have aged much at all. Once she hit thirty and filled out to have quite the motherly figure, the Wolfgirl just outwardly stopped aging. Inwardly Patricia, who was the spitting image of her Mother beyond the deep bags under her eyes and less defined muscles, hoped she’d have the same luck with her figure. She suspected though that unless she had the rather erotic workout routine her Mother had, she might not get the same results.
“Moooom, is dinner ready?” Beli asked, waving her fork in the air. Hala lifted her lip toward the girl, exposing a sharp canine tooth, and the girl hurriedly became quiet, her ears flattening down. Her Mother sighed and then brightened, clapping her paws together and saying,
“Of course dear! I worked my very best to cook a wonderful meal for everyone!”
The assembled group went ashen, Patricia included, and their Mother’s eyes went flat as she growled out, “What’s those looks supposed to mean?”
“It means that your cooking is largely inedible by polite standards and your cleanliness in the kitchen leaves much to be desired, Mistress.” A maid said, walking into the room with a tray on wheels. The feathers underneath her black and white maid outfit swayed and she gave her Mistress a level look before saying, “Fortunately I have cooked a delicious, and nutritious meal for all of you instead.”
“Thank you Danica.” Minfilia said, giving the Kikimora maid a smile before turning to her Mother. “I am sure your latest attempt at cooking a slab of meat to a charred husk would also be wonderful Mother.”
Hala grumbled and crossed her arms, ears going flat. “Damn pups, back when I was little we’d eat a raw Kitsune corpse and like it.”
“Thank heavens then the Master plucked you from such unfortunate situations.” Danica said, before gesturing to the Monsters to sit. “Please, if you would take your seat Mistress, Lady Patricia.”
The two Wolfgirls went to their seats, Hala near the head of the table and Patricia in the center of the pack of younger wolves, Beli and Ignila, while Minfilia and Lily sat on the opposite side. At the head was an empty seat which Patricia glanced at before asking, “Where is Father?”
“The Master is delayed due to a series of events in the city beyond his control.” Danica replied, cool as could be, before filling water glasses around the table, then red wine for Hala and Patricia. The eldest sister looked at the glass impartially, but her Mother downed the whole glass before Danica had left. The glass was refilled quickly, almost as if the Kikimora was expecting that to happen.
“Your Father will be home when he gets home. You know he has important work to do.” Hala said, sighing as she looked at her glass filled with blood-red liquid. She took a sip, rather daintily this time, and said to Patricia, “So, have you found a mate yet?”
Patricia let out a pent-up sigh, knowing this would come up. It always came up, every damn time. “No Mother.” She sighed, rolling her eyes. “I haven’t.”
“You know, when I was your age, I was already pregnant with you.”
“When you were my age, I was already born.”
“Dear Gods girl, you better get on it then!” Hala said, looking shocked. “There’s so many boys at that university, haven’t any of them looked at you with hungry eyes?”
“Ughhhhhhh.” Groaned Patricia, placing a paw to her forehead. “Mother, PLEASE! Things don’t work that way anymore!”
“I beg to differ, when your Father and I have sex it works the exact same way as it always has, that haughty bitch Selene or no!”
“Look! I just… you know, have been busy doing work to help out the crown in these troubling times, and with my own studies, I just…” She waved a paw, trying to think of something else to say that she hadn’t used before. She failed and resorted to her lamest excuse. “Haven’t had the time to meet anyone.”
“Nuh uh!” Beli said, pointing at Patricia.”You were giving the look to that boy in the library!”
All the ears in the room swiveled directly to Patricia, the Kikimora’s included, and she felt nothing so much as a deer cornered by a pack of ravenous predators. Every Monster there, excluding little Lily, gave her a wolfish grin, and she gulped before saying, “It’s not like that.”
“Tell us dear, what is it like?” Hala said, her grin the most shit-eating of them all.
“It’s…it’s just… I mean he’s a friend and… and… arrrrgghhh!” Patricia groaned, placing her paws on her head, having had enough of this interrogation. “It’s none of your business!”
“I should say that it is my business to know if my little girl has found a man yet!” Said Hala, looking indignant. “Even your sister here has a little boyfriend.” She waved to Minfilia who blushed and waved a paw at her Mother.
“Please Mother, Thancred is merely a friend.” She paused and then blushed deeper.”For now.”
“Mmm, for now.” Hala chuckled, before looking back to Patricia, a twinkle in her eye. Settling her arms on the table, much to Danica’s disdain, she bored a hole into her daughter with her eyes. “Now then, tell us about him!”
A clamor rose from the pack around her and Patricia groaned, closing her eyes as she pressed her forehead, trying to keep her cool until the noise died down. It didn’t abate however, and before she could stop herself, she let out a feral growl which caused her siblings to pause in their chattering. When the silence came she opened her eyes, blinking in surprise before realizing what she’d done.
“Huhm.” Hala said, smirking as she rested her cheek on her paw. “Alright, alright, let’s stop badgering your sister.”
“But we’re wolves!” Lily said, much to Ignila’s amusement. Patricia didn’t find it so amusing, and merely glared at her Mother, who gave her an smug look, like an alpha eyeing an upstart pup. She fought down her urge to snarl in anger, instead channeling her more civilized side and said,
“I do not appreciate being hounded like this every time I come home, Mother. I do very important research at the University, and if I am to be assaulted like this, I don’t even know why I bother.”
A look of hurt flashed through Hala’s eyes before anger swelled up in its place. She growled out at her daughter, “I only ask because I care about you.”
“Well you have a funny way of showing it.” Patricia retorted, a defiant look in her eyes. “You could ask any number of things like, ‘how was your day?’ or ‘what work have you been doing?’ But no, you ask about my love life every time, as if you had any business being in it, the moment we see each other.”
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before saying, “If you MUST know, Patrick is a colleague who invited me to dinner tonight but instead I had to come HERE to be harangued by the whole family!” The anger left Patricia and she deflated like a balloon before saying in a soft voice, “There. Are you happy?”
A silence permeated the dining hall as the assembled wolves all looked away with guilty expressions. The only one to keep her gaze upon Patricia was her Mother, who stared with eyes that bespoke of inner conflict, yet would not yield. Patricia studied her gaze for a long while before breathing out a soft, “Ah,” knowing that her Mother, who had been stubborn all her life, would not yield on this either.
The chair grated behind her as Patricia stood up and placed her napkin upon her plate. The others all looked to her and she said, eyes fixed on her Mother, “Thank you for the invitation, but I believe I had other plans after all.” A small paw grabbed her robe and she looked down to see a distraught Ignila.
“W…where are you going big sis?”
“Away, little pup.”
“D…do you hate us?”
She took in a deep breath before sighing out, “No, of course not. You’re my family, and though I could never hate you, I think it would be best to have some time away.” She gave her Mother one last look before continuing off to the foyer. The dining hall erupted in soft chatter between the other little wolves as she left it behind, but she didn’t pay it any mind, heading toward the main door in a hurry, paw up to her eyes to wipe away tears that had formed there.
Her paw touched the door and she turned the handle before pausing and sniffing the air. She turned her head sharply to the right to find a man standing in the corner, his arms crossed over his fine doublet as he leaned against the wall. She blinked away tears in her confusion, taking in the sight of the tall, toned man with short, brown hair and piercing grey eyes that looked at her with a somber expression.
“Leaving so soon, huh?” He asked.
Patricia sniffed and turned away, hiding her expression as she said, “H… Hello Father.”
“I heard everything when I came in.” Blake said, a sigh escaping his lips. “A shame you’re leaving, but I understand. You do what you think is best.”
Sniffing further, she looked away from him and said, “I… I don’t know when I’ll be back. I don’t know if I want to come back.”
“We all have to make our own way sometime.” He gave her a soft smile, teeth shining like the glint of a million gold coins. “No matter what you do, you’re still my little girl, and I love you.”
Unable to hold it back anymore, Patricia flew into her Father and cried, “Daddy!” burying her nose into his strong chest as she wrapped her furred arms about his waist. He didn’t so much as grunt, and wrapped his arms around the Wolfgirl’s back as she quietly sobbed.
She didn’t know how much time had passed, but she finally broke from her trance as she felt something around her leg. Sniffling, she turned about to see the form of little Lily holding onto her and once again rubbing her little face into the hem of her robe. Tears obstructed her view, but as she wiped them away she noticed the forms of her other siblings coming into the room, each adding themselves into the pile before she had a chance to say anything. Only Minfilia stood aloof from the others, a conflicted expression upon her face, before she too sighed and joined the pile.
The pressure upon her was not oppressive from so many bodies, but was instead warm and reassuring. She felt a wave of emotion rise up inside her at the heartfelt gestures, and she cursed her emotional nature when her Mother walked into the room, holding her paws clasped out in front of her. The two stared eye to eye and after a moment Hala looked away, her once powerful expression falling into sorrow as tears formed into her eyes.
Patricia’s eyes went wide as she watched her Mother, the commanding alpha female, devolve into tears. Hala took a step forward and with a pleading tone in her voice asked, “Please, will you stay?”
Patricia’s mouth went open at the sight and she couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the gesture. It may not seem like much to humans, but for Monsters, especially those of such tight-knit packs like Wolfgirls, her Mother had just given up a great amount of power and shown her daughter a world of respect. She closed her eyes and took in a shuddering breath before looking back up and nodding.
Hala swallowed and ran in to join the pile, squeezing hard with all the might in her body. She didn’t need to say anything else, for words had little meaning here any longer. The message was understood by all who were present, and they stayed like this for a long while until Blake wheezed, “I can’t- breathe.”
The pack of wolves all tumbled off Patricia and Blake, the latter taking in a deep breath while the former hugged her Mother, the two sharing in the warm embrace. They pulled away and Hala said, “I’m sorry dear I just… Guess that’s what I thought being a good Mother meant.”
Wiping away her own tears, Patricia said, “I know Mother, I know you’re a great Mother, the best. It’s just…”
“You have your own life and goals, I know. I should know by now things aren’t the same as in the forest.” Hala took in a deep breath before sighing and looking her daughter in the eyes to ask in an awkward tone. “So, how about these uh… books? Sure are… readable?”
“Dear, you’re trying too hard.” Blake said, hoisting little Lily into his arms after she asked for upsies. His wife rolled her eyes as Danica walked into the room and clapped her hands.
“The meal is getting cold, please enter quickly so I can restore some semblance of order to this evening.”
Everyone looked at the Kikimora before breaking out into giggles, and then full laughter at the maid’s blunt attitude. Even she took it in stride, smiling softly while the group filed into the dining hall again.
Patricia stopped at the entryway to the dining hall and noticed something. On the side paneling was multiple scratch marks from the sharp claws of padded feet and paws over the years. Feeling one spot where the scratches were especially deep, she remembered grabbing onto that doorway as a pup so she could slide around into the hall and she wondered why it wasn’t fixed after all these years. Hala stepped beside her and nudged her shoulder, saying with a genuine smile, “I’m sorry about that.”
“It’s fine Mother.” Patricia said, smiling herself as she closed her eyes.. She didn’t need to ask why the scratches which marred the wood were still there, she was sure she already knew the answer. Shaking her head, she looked up at her Mother then and the smile vanished as she noticed her Mother’s predatory grin.
“So… Patrick, huh?”
“Joking, joking!” Hala chuckled and patted Patricia’s back. “Come on, let’s enjoy dinner, as a family.”
Patricia sighed but a smile crept back into her expression. Together, they entered the dining hall and sat down to enjoy the meal lovingly prepared by Danica as a family once again.