Gustin woke in the morning to the smell of meat frying and people talking. He rolled out of bed, stretching his legs, delighted at how good he felt - it had been eight weeks since the birth, and Gus felt back to running condition. The coming of the springtime had helped; things were brighter now, happier. And spring had come sooner since they'd moved south, to a lower part of the Irion.
Gus dropped both feet down onto the fur-covered wooden floors of their new home, and padded out of his bedroom into the main room first. The smell of frying meat and cooked fruits filled the air, and Kellan, Adotre, Iorir, and the Mellozsian were all gathered around the large dining table, cooing over the twin bundles (one human, one Layer) that rested in Kellan-carved bassinets on the table's surface.
Gus paused in the doorway to smile at the scene. Kellan looked up and met his eyes, and Gus noticed that he looked even more delighted than usual. He picked up their cub and carried him over to kiss his mate.
"Good morning, mate."
He held the baby out to Gus to receive a kiss as well. Gus grinned.
"Good morning to you, too." Gus took the bundle from Kellan. "And good morning, Lucky."
Kellan's eyes narrowed.
"That is not his name."
Gus grinned and shrugged.
"It's easier to pronounce than Kelflurialuckamansturr or whatever."
"Kel'luknar is a very simple name."
"Right. That's what I said. Lucky."
Kellan rolled his eyes but let it go.
"We have news."
Gus sniffed the baby, which appeared to be in need of changing. Kellan nodded.
"From my father."
Gus went still.
Kellan nodded excitedly, waiting for Gus to understand.
"Ideste - " Gus's mouth went dry, and he felt overwhelmed suddenly, with happiness. "Ideste sent a confession."
Kellan nodded vigorously. Gus frowned suddenly.
"So what's going to happen to him? Is he in trouble?"
"He had the good sense to disappear. He's somewhere in the Irion; with his mate, most likely. But he cannot return to Arem'mir. Ever again."
Gus felt a little relief; much as he had disliked Ideste, the man had still saved his life.
"So you can go back home?" Gus asked. Kellan nodded. "You can go back home!" Gus shouted, startling Lucky. As he soothed him, he kissed Kellan. "That's - that's amazing! When do we leave?"
Kellan drew back, and looked away. Gus waited. Kellan glanced over his shoulder, to where Adotre, Iorir, and Tilo all cooed over the recently-hatched Sodre. Kellan looked back at Gus, his eyes shielded. Gus understood.
"You don't want to go back."
"This is my pack now." he met Gustin's eyes openly, happily, his hand reaching out to stroke his little son's head. "This is my home."
Gus felt his heart warm and expand, and he fell in love with Kellan all over again. He smiled at his wolfe.
"I know. It's mine, too."
Kellan smiled an honest smile, which changed suddenly to a frown as Gus shouted and grasped out for Kel'luknar.
Kellan jumped as Gus lunged to keep from dropping his baby onto the hardwood floor below. When they had righted themselves, the wolfe looked up at Gustin.
Gus sucked in panicked breaths.
"I don't know! I don't know - he just - felt like he got smaller!"
Kellan's eyes widened and all eyes in the room looked down to Gus's arms, where Kel'luknar had been replaced with a tiny, whining, entirely black wolfe cub wrapped loosely in blue blankets and a filthy diaper. Everyone stared. For a long minute, nobody spoke. Even Sodre, in his little bassinet on the table, was quiet. Gus looked around at them.
"So? What is - what does that mean?! He's changing? He can change? He's not a baby, he's a cub??"
Kellan shook his head, still staring in wonderment at his son.
"No tail, no cub. He is human."
"Just not a normal human." Gus answered, fearfully.
From the table, Iorir spoke, slowly, a smile growing over his face.
"Gus...he's the human who can change his form. That's it. That's the fourth tenet of the Prophecy."
Gus shook his head.
"Oh, no. No. Not this Synthesis thing again. You're not telling me - "
"That's it! All this time, we thought it was you, but it wasn't! It was Lucky! Lucky is the prophesized one! Lucky is the Synthesis! He can understand the wolfe, he was marked under the eye of the moon, and he can change his shape like the wolfe! He's a wolfe and a human, don't you see! He's going to be just like you, but also just like Kellan!"
Gus clenched his wolfe-son to his chest and raised an amused eyebrow at Kellan.
"If that's true, we are going to have a hell of a time raising this one."
"Whatever he is, he will be perfect. He is our cub."
"Yes. He is our cub, and he is already perfect."
In Gus's arms, the little black cub yipped once, then yawned, shifted, and quietly went to sleep.