I avoided Patch as best I could with us still living in the same house. I didn't want to talk to him about what I had confessed, because I knew he would make me go to Kelly and Mica and tell them what I had seen. I avoided everyone, even Zac. Instead, I spent my time alone in the woods testing my theory about my Fae and Skin Walker mixed blood. My idea was that if I had such a close bond to Nature because I was Fae, then perhaps I could use that connection to turn into another animal, instead of wearing the animal's skin after killing it.
There were so many animals in the Woods Realm, and I wanted to try and become one. Even if the power scared me, I still wanted to try it and see what I could do. I was sitting alone in the woods outside of the Rebel Camp, communing with nature, when I heard an animal approaching. Something big and heavy with a good sense of smell, I could hear him sniffing. I let my eyes open slightly to catch a glimpse of what sort of animal had been drawn to my energy. It was a wolf.
"Hello there," I said when the animal got closer to me. He looked at me a little suspiciously. "I'm not going to hurt you," I promised him. The wolf took cautious steps towards me and my outstretched hand. "That's it," I said enticing him to come smell me.
When he got close enough, I let my hand fall gently to his muzzle. The wolf sniffed me, and began licking me with much affection. He seemed to sense something in me. I stroked his muzzle and let him playfully nip at me. It didn't hurt or leave marks, he was very gentle. After a while I calmed him with my thoughts. The wolf sat before me and looked into my eyes expectantly.
"Let's see if this works," I said slowly. I closed my eyes and concentrated on the wolf, his fur under my hand, the steady sound of his breathing, and the warmth of his skin. I felt my body begin to shift. My bones crunched with sickening sound but absolute pleasure shot through me. I felt fur sprout across my skin, and my limbs changed to legs with paws. When I opened my eyes again I was still looking straight at the wolf, only now I could smell him in a way I couldn't before. I could understand his joy at seeing me in wolf form from his body language.
We began to play, me in my wolf form, being taught by the other how to run and use my muscles gracefully; how to play gently and tumble through the brush in the Woods. I yapped at him, and we tussled, wrestling in the grass. I was so lost in the freedom of changing form, the enjoyment of making a friend, and the awesomeness of my power that I forgot to try and change back for a very long time. It wasn't until I heard Patch's voice in the distance that I remembered I was in fact not a wolf. I nudged my new friend, and he understood that I was telling him to leave, but he didn't go. He licked my face. I nodded and thought of my Faery body. I had creamy skin, blonde hair, and sapphire eyes. I felt the shift begin again, and just as Patch came into view, I found myself a Faery girl lying naked in a crumple on the ground.
My new wolf friend stood over me, protecting me. Patch entered the small clearing, and looked around in slight alarm. My clothes were in shreds on the ground, and I had cuts and scrapes on my skin from when we had been playing. The wolf above me growled warningly at Patch, who drew a belt knife.
"What are you doing?" I asked, mortified at seeing the weapon.
"Saving you," Patch said pointing at the wolf with his knife.
"I'm in no danger," I said sitting up and grabbing my torn shirt to cover my body.
"Your clothing is shredded and so is your skin, how are you in no danger?" He asked still in a standoff with the wolf who hadn't moved.
"I was testing my Skin Walker power," I said rolling my eyes and seeing how much coverage I could get from my torn clothing. It wasn't much, but enough to keep my descent until I could get back to Patch's house.
"Well it looks like you didn't exactly kill the wolf, he got the upper hand," Patch said still not understanding. The wolf growled again and took a step towards Patch, baring his teeth.
"Put the knife away and I will explain what is going on," I said resting my hand on the wolf's back and used him for support to lift myself to my feet. Patch still looked threatened by the wolf, and nervous that I was so close to him, but he put the knife away.
"I knew I could never take a life, not even an animal," I said. "My Faery connection to nature is too strong. I used that connection to change into an animal like Skin Walkers, only without killing the animal, just touching him. I was a wolf!" The excitement couldn't be contained for a moment. "We were playing, I got scratched," I added to account for my bleeding. Patch was looking at me with irritation and amusement at the same time.
"You were a wolf?" He asked. I nodded. "And this is your new friend?" He asked.
"This is my new friend," I said sensing the loyalty that the wolf had formed for me. I supposed Skin Walkers would form loyalties with their model animals, if they kept them alive and didn't have to wear their skins.
"Are you going to give him a name?" Patch asked.
"Talon," I said patting the wolf's head. "I'd like to get clothing that is, you know, more covering," I said. At saying this I wished I hadn't, because Patch let his dark eyes roam over my scantily clad body. I felt like slapping him, but part of me was enjoying it!
I began walking back towards the rebel camp. Talon followed me happily. We seemed to have bonded, because of our connection that let me shift into a wolf. I felt Patch follow us.
In his house, Talon had happily curled up by the fire, and I had changed into clothing that wasn't ripped. Patch lounged on the couch, and I sat on the dirt floor. I liked being closer to the earth.
"What can you do, as a Fire Elemental?" I asked him. We hadn't talked much about him. I knew nothing about him at all.
"I can manipulate fire, but I can also create it," He said. "I can also control different types of heat, heat from the fire, I can boil water, influence body heat."
"You have used it actually support my weight," I said.
"Yes, I can make a harmless warm glow that can support matter," He said.
"You have many talents," I said smiling at him.
"You do to, as I understand," He said.
"I have sparkly wings that allow me to fly," I said. "What else do they let me do?"
"I don't know much about faeries," Patch admitted. "Only what Kelly tells me, which isn't much." I nodded and absently began stroking Talon's grey fur. He gave a heavy sigh, but I could tell he was enjoying my company.
"I met a Nymph," I said. "When I left here."
"Uka," Patch said. "She isn't the friendliest nymph out there, but most nymphs are completely uninterested in our cause."
"Your cause?" I asked. "You mean to prevent The Guild from assuming total control by keeping the Winter Realm under control?" I asked.
"We keep the Winter Realm Creatures in their place, but if The Guild continues to try and stretch their power, Jerico is going to get a nasty shock from us," Patch explained.
"Who is Jerico?" I asked.
"A faery, the leader of The Guild," He said. We lapsed into an easy silence, and I found myself enjoying Patch's company for the first time since I met him. Finally I stood up, stretching, and headed into his room. I was tired. Skin Walking had wiped me out. Talon obediently jumped onto the bed and curled up there, waiting for me to join him. I slid under the covers and fell asleep rather easily. Unfortunately my dreams wouldn't let me sleep peacefully for long.
I was shaken awake, screaming. It took me a moment to orient myself. I was in a bed. It was dark. I was inside. I was at Patch's house, and Talon was whimpering at my side and licking my hand. Patch was kneeling on the bed next to me, his hands on my upper arms. He had shaken me awake. What had I been dreaming about, I couldn't even remember now?
"Helena, are you all right?" Patch asked me, real worry in his voice.
"Just a nightmare," I said.
"What did you see, anything about The Guild?" He asked. I shook my head.
"I don't remember, all I remember are the feelings of complete and utter despair, torment, pain and hatred," I said. I inhaled deeply and my breath shook and I was surprised to find I was crying. I sat up, wiping the tears away. The feelings were so ingrained in my mind, so real!
"Its going to be okay," Patch said putting an arm around my shoulders. It was a little awkward at first, but then he relaxed, and I leaned into him. Patch was shirtless, which I hadn't realized in the dark, but now I knew because I was pressing against him. I let him comfort me.
For weeks now I had been experiencing all the horrors of The Guild, the horrors they were hiding from all the other faeries, and I didn't want to carry that burden anymore. Not alone at least. Patch was warm and solid, and he smelled amazing!
"Are you cold, you're shaking?" Patch asked.
"Just…recovering," I said snuggling a little closer to him. He tightened his grip on my shoulders and lifted his other hand to my cheek. His finger brushed against my delicate soft skin, and I closed my eyes, leaning into the touch. It felt good to be touched! I had never in all my life been given a tender touch, and here I was feeling compassion for the first time.
I looked up at Patch, letting my eyes find his in the dark. I licked my lips as we looked at each other. He held my body and my face. Patch leaned in close to me. I could feel his breath against my face. His lips brushed mine in the softest, most innocent movement. He parted almost instantly.
"I'm sorry," He said. "I shouldn't have done that."
"Why not?" I asked.
"Unless….you wanted me to?" He asked slowly, almost as if trying not to hope too much. I didn't answer him with words. I nodded slowly and put my hand on the back of his neck, pulling him lightly closer to me. This time, when our lips connected, I didn't let him leave so quickly.
At first it was a little strange. Clearly, neither of us were very experienced in this department, so we stumbled through a first kiss, parting out lips ever so lightly, moving in time with one another. I felt a rush of heat through my body, and then Patch began to heat up too. Patch's skin literally warmed up several degrees and he began to glow. It didn't burn, it was a pleasant sensation. After a long moment our lips began to part.
"You're glowing," I said unable to hold back a small giggle.
"I am, aren't I?" He asked looking down at himself. "How strange."
"Not strange," I said. "It is sexy." He looked at me with a strange face, which I could now see because he was glowing.
"You should get some sleep," He said finally disengaging from me.
"You could….stay," I said when he got off the bed. His eyes widened for a moment, and then his expression was hidden again as his glow faded. "This is your bed after all." Patch gave a small snort of laughter.
"Is that a good idea?" He asked.
"You can keep the bad dreams from coming back," I said patting the bed beside me.
"Are you afraid?" He asked, teasing me. I nodded, in all seriousness this time. Patch scooted onto the bed next to me. We lay back against the pillows, and he put his arms around me again. We snuggled together, and then Talon jumped onto the bed to lie at our feet. I felt comfort and peace for the first time in a very long time.