Current phase: Waning Crescent Moon 🌘

The summer sun warmed her back as Karin knelt in front of the patch of earth and withdrew her water bottle and a small packet of seeds from her backpack. She planted the seeds in the dirt and poured water on top. She then shut her eyes and extended her focus out to gather the abundant, free swirling energy from the trees and plants of the forest and let the energy seep into her body.

As the energy flowed into her hands, she pressed them down into the ground and recited firmly:

"Tiny seeds and earth

Add water to grow swiftly

Wildflowers blossom"

As the energy flowed out of her hands, they became cool and she stowed the remainder of the energy back into the core of her body. She opened her eyes to see tiny wild flowers sprouting out of the earth and grinned as the flowers started to grow at a quicker pace until they were fully in bloom. Then, she carefully plucked them out of the dirt and placed them in the empty seed packet.

"T-that's preeetty." A child's voice spoke out of nowhere.

Karin glanced upward to see a thin, bony girl with fair skin and long dark brown hair. Her delicate pale blue eyes were bright and curious despite her fragile appearance. Karin noticed the girl's slight spasms as she approached with her little walker.

The little girl was none other than Amaris Baines of the Baines Pack.

"Hello, Amaris!" Karin smiled gently and stood up from her crouched position, but Amaris shook her head and Karin watched carefully as the seven-year-old girl made her way slowly but surely toward her.

It had been three years since Tala Baines first brought her daughter to the flower shop and Karin had grown terribly fond of the child. Sometimes Karin pretended that if she had a little sister, she'd want her to be like Amaris. Karin had always wanted siblings, but it was just her and her mother, Matsuko. Her father had passed away when she was very young that she hardly remembered him, and Matsuko never found anyone else.

From what she had inferred, it was likely that Amaris wouldn't be able to shift into a wolf like the rest of her pack. Karin wasn't sure how much the girl's cerebral palsy affected the ability to transform or if she would be a late bloomer like her brother, Radley. The youngest in their pack was four-year-old Willow who had her first shift during the last full moon.

"H-hi, Care-inn. D-don't tell No-ah I'm here. I'm playing hide-n-seek with him."

"Do you want to hide in a tree?" Karin suggested.

Amaris's eyes widened with shock but excitement. "C-can I?"

When the girl finally joined Karin's side a few minutes later, she helped the child sit down and watched her large eyes dart around the forest.

"How we gon climb a tree?"

"We won't. You're not afraid of heights, right?"

"I wanna be up high!" Amaris giggled.

Karin smiled and told the girl to pick a tree. Amaris pointed at a black cottonwood tree a few paces away and then stuck her hand out toward Karin. She took it and led the child to the tree. With the forest's energy still coursing through her, Karin laid her palm against the bark and spoke aloud an impromptu haiku spell:

"Branches build a cage

Cottonwood descend then rise

Treehouse in the sky"

Branches rearranged from above, startling Amaris, but she watched in awe as the branches started to entwine into a lattice structure to form a cage. Then the tree trunk started to descend to their height, causing the ground to tremble and crack. She then lifted Amaris into her arms and let the girl crawl into the makeshift branchy cage. Karin followed with Amaris's walker and her backpack. Afterwards, they were lifted slowly into the air and Amaris poked her head out a hole in the cage.

"We-th, blech, up high!" she shrieked with excitement, spitting out a leaf. "No-ah won't find me now."

Karin laughed as the tree returned to its original height. "Sorry, Amaris, but I'm afraid I disturbed the forest when I made the tree come down so Noah will find us soon."

"But he won't be able to get up." Amaris smiled mischievously.

"Aren't you cheeky?" Karin chuckled.

Amaris pulled her head back into the cage and turned around to admire the sunlight peeking through the branches and leaves.

"Hey, Care, can I have a flower that you made? It pretty," Amaris asked without a hint of shyness.

"Of course you can, just a moment." Karin took the flowers out of the seed packet and handed one to her. Then she started to weave a crown for Amaris with the remaining flowers. After she finished, she placed it on top of Amaris's head and the little girl beamed.

"How do I look?"

"Just like a princess." Karin answered with a smile.

"Lea tell me that too!" Amaris giggled.

It took a moment for Karin to realize that Amaris was calling her brother by a nickname. Then, she smiled thoughtfully. "Your brother is right."

"He also tell me he think you pretty and nice like a flower."

Karin was taken aback by the statement and burst out laughing. Karin had no idea what Amaris was talking about since Radley had made it his personal goal in life to irritate her senselessly after they had drifted apart.

"That's silly." The words left Karin's mouth before she could stop herself. "Radley and I aren't even friends."

"Not silly!" Amaris sounded annoyed and frowned which frankly Karin thought was adorable. "You are! You and Lea good friends. Lea say so."

"He does?" Karin couldn't fight her shock.

"Yeah!" Amaris nodded emphatically.

They had been good friends once back in their childhood after a nine-year-old Karin and her mom had moved in next door to a ten-year-old Radley and his family. The two had become fast friends but when Karin had begged her mom to help Tala give birth to Amaris using magic, the lives of both their families inevitably became complicated. Radley's parents, Damien and Tala had allegedly guarded the secret that Karin and Matsuko were witches from their own pack for about half a year before Radley's aunt, the Alpha at that time, had discovered the circumstances surrounding her niece's birth. At about six months old, Amaris had began displaying strange signs such as favouring her left side of her body more while crawling or not being able to easily lift her hands to her mouth to eat.

It quickly became known that keeping Karin and her mom's identities a secret was something Radley's parents shouldn't have done because Imogen then had Matsuko imprisoned for cursing Amaris with cerebral palsy. However, before further punishment could ensue, Damien had challenged Imogen for the Alpha title and won. Upon his victory and rise in rank, he had declared to the entire pack that although a witch took the life of one of their own according to their family history, another had helped give a life. So, the hate and prejudice that his family harboured against witches should now be pardoned. Subsequently, Imogen was demoted, and Damien freed Matsuko from captivity.

After that, Karin and her mom lived safely under the new Alpha's protection despite Imogen's protests. While growing up on the island, Karin was always afraid the former Alpha would hurt her mom again, but it seemed that Damien's words were law because Imogen hadn't approached them since. Despite enduring the bullying from Lloyd, Imogen's only son, Karin was able to continue being friends with Radley as well as befriend his cousin, Mason, who was the same age as her.

It wasn't until after Radley's thirteenth birthday following his first transformation that their budding friendship came to an abrupt end. Karin had thought that his sudden mood swings were a side effect of being a late bloomer for a werewolf. She had tolerated it in the very beginning until he had kept using the same excuse that he had no recollection of his barbs and uncanny behaviour toward her which unavoidably led to creating a rift in between them.

"You don't like him?" Amaris deflated.

"No, no. That's not it. I just…" she paused and chose her next words carefully. "I didn't know he still considered me a friend."

Amaris giggled. The child smiled as if she knew something that Karin didn't. Karin smoothed out the child's hair and fixed the flower crown.

"Care, I have anotha q-quest-shun. How you make ma-gic?"

"Hmm…" Karin pondered for an easy explanation to give to Amaris and was relieved that the topic had moved on from whether she liked Radley or not.

Her ability to practice magic was due to channeling the energy that surrounded them and then harnessing it as power through incantations. Even in fiction, the concept of magic appeared essentially the same, at least from what she gathered after consuming a seven book series about a fictional school for young witches and wizards. They used wands as their conduit for magic and some variation of Latin to cast their spells whereas Karin could let the energy flow within her body and then cast it by reciting a haiku.

If Karin could wield a wand to cast magic, she totally would've. She couldn't help but think back on a memory of when she was eleven and had tried a levitation charm on Radley using a twig as a substitute for a proper wand. After all, wands were crafted from trees so Karin didn't see why a twig couldn't work. Radley had insisted on wanting to be the target of enchantment and had persuaded her to close her eyes while reciting the charm with the correct pronunciation on her o's. When she had opened her eyes again to the sound of a small whoop from Radley, he was in the air for a split second. In response, Karin had dropped the twig in excitement only for Radley to land on his feet before collapsing onto the ground in a fit of laughter. Apparently, he had been timing his jump so that when Karin would open her eyes, she'd see that he was in the air. It was the last time she ever tried to cast magic in Latin. Although, Karin liked to think that she only failed at levitating Radley because the twig didn't choose her, and she chose it.

~oOo~

"Amaris! Where are you?" a voice yelled, and Karin startled awake from her nap.

Karin had placed the child's head in her lap after Amaris had fallen asleep while watching her practice magic, so she had decided to take a break and rest her eyes as well.

She poked her head outside the cage to see a figure leaning against the bottom of the tree. They were still in the cage, so she shouted a warning below that they were coming down causing him to startle and back away. She lowered the tree slowly toward the ground with another incantation, depleting the remainder of her borrowed energy from the forest. As the branches unfolded and revealed the two girls, a guy with similar features as Amaris approached them.

Karin nudged Amaris awake gently and whispered that her brother was here to take her home. The girl stirred and sat up, rubbing her eyes. The flower crown fell from her head as Amaris blinked away the remnants of sleep. She glanced up at Radley who was waiting patiently.

Amaris grinned. "You f-found me."

"You little cheater. Noah wouldn't have thought of looking up in the trees for you." Radley addressed his sister warmly as Amaris shakily lifted her hands up for him. Bending down, he took his sister into his arms. Karin stood up and reached for Amaris's walker and held it as she watched the two siblings talk.

Radley then glanced out toward the trees and called for Noah. A moment later, an eleven-year-old boy with claws and pointed ears emerged from the trees. He was only in a partial form that was somewhere in between a human and a wolf. Karin watched Noah draw back his wolfish features; his pointed ears shrunk, and his claws became short fingernails.

He made his way over to them meekly and Radley patted his younger cousin's head. "Amaris wasn't playing fair with you. Fang was helping her hide."

Noah looked up and sighed with relief. "Phew, I thought I was gonna be in trouble if I lost Amaris and she got hurt. I felt the earth shake a while ago and smelt her scent, but I couldn't find her, which is why I came to get you."

"Sorry about that," Karin smiled sheepishly. "That was me creating a hiding spot for Amaris."

"By making a tree grow out of thin air?" Radley eyed her incredulously.

"You can't just make a tree grow out of nowhere. I'd need seeds or a sapling for that." Karin replied, "I just manipulated a fully grown tree instead."

"Geez, why don't you just grow another forest while you're at it?"

"Why don't I just turn you into a tree instead?"

"You can do that?" Noah asked in horror, inching toward his cousin.

Radley laughed, "Don't worry, Noah. Fang couldn't even make me float when we were kids, so I highly doubt her abilities to transfigure me into a tree."

Karin masked her surprise at the coincidence that Radley made a reference to the memory that she had just dwelt on earlier. Before she could speak, Radley then turned to his cousin, "So, you just have to practice more with your tracking. Besides, we're not used to looking up." He reached out to mess up his cousin's hair, but Noah ducked to avoid Radley's hand.

Amaris patted her head for the missing crown and Karin found the flowers at her feet. She bent down to pick it up.

"Here," Karin said softly, handing the flowers to Amaris.

She smiled. "T-hank you."

Radley switched to one arm to hold Amaris and Karin held out the walker toward his free hand. Karin fidgeted a little as his eyes pierced hers. She wasn't used to seeing softness in his eyes. Usually they were lit with amusement from annoying her or heated whenever he was in a bad mood.

"What was it like to be up in the sky?" Radley asked his sister.

"Coool!" Amaris exclaimed.

"So, what do you say to our friend for helping you with your hiding spot?"

Amaris's eyes met hers. "T-hank you, Care-inn!"

Radley winked at Karin and started to walk away with Noah trailing behind. "Later, Fang."

"Later, Fang!" Amaris repeated after Radley with a wave, and Karin waved back.


A/N: Hello (old or new) readers!

First and foremost, a HUGE heartfelt thank you to icaruswalks for all the edits, feedback and comments as a betareader so far! :D I think AWB would've honestly stayed on hiatus forever if I hadn't felt even slightly motivated to rewrite/revise this story. (Off topic: I recommend checking out her work, Like Never Ever if you're interested in reading about a hilarious college girl and her daily shenanigans. xD)

**Beware of possible spoilers in past reviews and read them at your own risk**

Since this story is now is a combination of a rewrite and revision, I'd like to state the changes I make between versions at the end of each chapter since I won't be uploading AWB as a brand new story. So, past reviews will remain which may or may not be drastically different or spoiler-ish compared to what the new version might entail.

What's different in this version:
- Latin magic incantations are now haiku (I guess this is my new magic system now haha...?)
- Witches & werewolves are no longer 'sworn enemies' (because I honestly couldn't think of a good reason lol). Instead, only Radley's pack holds a personal grudge against witches.

Thanks for reading! ^_^

(07/25/19)