"The Alpha's and his crew are approaching the border," Peter informed me through the mindlink. I acknowledged his statement before cutting off the mindlink and letting relief wash over me. Their date of return was scheduled to be three days ago and when there was no sign of them in sight, I ordered the guard wolves to tighten their watch, already preparing for the worst. Two days ago, I felt the agitation and anxiousness spreading throughout the pack so I ordered a meeting, to reassure them that the Alpha was still alive since I haven't felt a disturbance between our bond. Although still apprehensive, the wolves took my reassurance and continued their daily activities as normal. Yesterday, the tension was at its height since the Alpha always returned on time and this was the longest that he had ever been delayed. Inwardly, I was worried about him too, but comforted myself knowing that our bond was still intact. Yet that only told me he was alive, not that he wasn't injured. Unable to handle my growing concern for him, I buried myself in the medical lab, delegating all Alpha duties to the Beta's wife, Danielle. Danielle had taken the temporary position without comment and since I last saw her 34 hours ago, I was in the lab, developing a treatment to wolfsbane.

It was well known not only to wolves, but to other creatures that a wolf's greatest weakness was our inability to handle wolfsbane in our bloodstream. Although wolves preferred to fight equally on the grounds of pure dominance, there had been cases in the past where wolves, especially rogues, would use wolfsbane to win the fight. The previous healer of the pack and the one before her had been experimenting with finding a cure, yet two generations later, we were nowhere closer than when we first started. The last healer of the pack had passed down all her notes to me, yet there wasn't anything useful in it. The entire notebook was full of details of failed experiments and failed mixtures. I finished writing of my latest failed trial and shut the notebook, tucking it in my backpack. I shrugged out of my labcoat, hanging it on the hook before grabbing my backpack off the ground and heading out of the lab, heading out to the borders to welcome my brother home.

The majority of the guards on duty nearby had already convened, ready to welcome our Alpha, Beta, and Gamma back from their trip. I spotted Danielle at the front of the pack, holding little Benny in her arms. Besides her, stood Peter and Josh, two of our head guards as well as to serve as protection for Danielle and Benny in an event of a surprise attack. The other guards parted ways for me upon spotting me. I nodded in thanks to them as I made my way to the front of the pack, taking my position behind Danielle, Peter, and Josh just as the silhouettes of the Alpha's crew were in sight. Subtly Peter and Josh attempted to stand behind me, out of respect, but I shook my head, conveying to them that Danielle's safety was more important than standing according to rank. The two of them bowed their heads in respect and resumed their previous position as the crew approached us.

While Danielle ran up to hug Ryan, the Beta, I assessed the crew for any injuries, but found that they had none. Steven caught my eye, giving me a light-hearted smile, conveying to me that there was nothing to worry about. My eyes moved to catch the scene of two guards that had joined Steven reuniting with their mates. The unmated guard stood stiffly next to the Gamma, Harris, who was watching Ryan and Danielle's reunion. Steven broke from his crew to stand besides me, Peter and Josh moving to give us space, but also remaining close enough to intervene should something happen.

"How is everything?" Steven asked me.

"It's been normal, but what I would like to know is why you're three days late. The entire pack has been on edge because of you."

"Negotiations took a bit longer than expected," Steven explained, "Then we were delayed because we took a detour to avoid rogue territory. And there's been some interesting rumors flying around lately."

"Oh?" I responded, his words piquing my interest. In the wolf world, there was hardly any rumours, it was always a confirmed fact by the time it reached our ears. They mostly consisted of if an Alpha found his or her mate, or if there had been a change in Alphas within a pack, or even more rarely, a pack being wiped out of existence or taken over by another. War between packs had long ceased by my generation, so most troubles were usually stirred up by rogues, but they weren't large enough in number to be deemed a threat.

"They're saying that Carson found his successor," Steven said, pausing to let the information sink in. If the rumour is true, then it is going to be a huge deal in among the wolves. The passing of such power usually only happened once in a lifetime if we were lucky enough to witness it.

"So do they know who it is?" I asked.

"Let's continue this conversation later," Steven said, brushing aside the topic as he greeted the guards who came to welcome him back. Ryan and Danielle approached me, hand in hand, with Benny sitting on Ryan's shoulders with his tiny hands gripping his hair.

"Sophia!" Danielle called, a glint of happiness in her eye that had been missing in Ryan's absence. Danielle broke her grip from Ryan's to give me a large hug, saying how much she had missed me since I had holed myself up in the lab. Once she released me, I greeted Ryan and reached out to grab Benny when he extended his arms out. Ryan handed Benny over to me and I held him as he grabbed a piece of my hair and pulled. Although slightly annoyed, I brushed my annoyance aside and smiled at Benny, whom I hadn't seen in a while.

"Let's head back to the pack house," Harris said, from behind Ryan, "We have a lot of things to discuss. Harris caught Steven's eye and Steven nodded in understanding. After ordering the guards to return to their posts, we began to head over to the pack house. Although I knew Harris was usually a stoic person, something we hoped would change after finding his mate, the gravity in his statement think that there wasn't something that they knew something that I didn't. And that something was probably what Steven had been unwilling to discuss in the presence of the rest of the pack. A lot of greetings were given on our way back to the pack house, slowing us down enough that Danielle had time to drop off Benny with their babysitter and rejoin us by the time we reached the pack house.

The meeting room felt really empty with only five of us present. Usually meetings consisted of head guards as well as the head of every sector: medical, education, agriculture, and many more yet today none of them were here. The meeting must about something important if Steven wanted to keep the information within his inner circle, the people in the pack that he trusted the most.

"What's wrong?" Danielle asked, seeing Steven's light-hearted facade disappear, replaced by a grim expression.

Steven sighed, looking pointedly at me, before speaking, "While we were at the Raven Pack, we heard rumors that the Head Alpha had found his successor and was stepping down from his position. We were taking a detour to avoid rogue territory, but that wasn't what really delayed us. Chris found us and wanted to talk to me."

"And?" Danielle asked, prodding Steven to hurry up with his narrative.

"Chris has been chosen to be the successor. And he asked me to be his Beta." Judging from Ryan and Harris' surprised looks on their faces, they had no idea about Chris' offer. As for me, I wasn't shocked by Chris' request at all. Since my father was an alpha, our pack had close ties with the River Pack and every time my father paid their pack a visit, Steven would tag along to get first hand experience in alliance politics, and soon Steven became friends with Chris, the alpha's youngest son out of three. After Chris' father stepped down as alpha, his oldest son, Derrick, was handed the reins. Despite being the youngest, there was no denying Chris' dominance and on many occasions, even Steven admitted that he was more dominant than him. That said a lot.

"So are you going to take it?" Harris asked, already recovered from his initial shock.

"I don't know," Steven admitted, "I'm torn between my duty to this pack and accepting the offer. I'm really honored and flattered that I'm chosen to be the Head Alpha's Beta, but the packā€¦"

"According to the history books," I began, "The previous Head Alpha must also approve of the successor's choice of his Beta and Gamma. So if Chris asked you, then the Head Alpha has already approved of you. Logically speaking, that means you are the best candidate because if you weren't, the Head Alpha would reject you."

"Perhaps your duties to the wolves are not only limited to protecting your pack, but to protect all packs," Ryan pointed out, "But whatever decision you make, I will fully support you. The pack will understand." Danielle, Harris, and I also chimed in with our support. Although Steven was torn at the moment, based on many years of interaction with him, I knew what his final answer would be, so it didn't surprise me when Steven replied that he was going to accept the offer.

"That leaves the question of who is going to take over as Alpha," Danielle pointed out, after our chorus of congratulations had died out, "According to the laws, since you don't have a mate nor any children of age, the next in line is Sophia."

"I'll pass," I announced, "I have no desire nor am I most qualified to be Alpha." Steven didn't question my decision; he probably already knew that I would turn down the position.

"Then Ryan?" Steven prompted.

"I will be glad to accept the position," Ryan stated. The entire pack hierarchy was shifting. Ryan would be the Alpha, with Danielle as their Luna. Harris would be promoted to Beta, and the Gamma position would have to be filled. As for me, I was content with keeping my position as head healer of the pack.

The meeting ended with Steven deciding to call an entire pack meeting tomorrow. On my way out of the pack house, I felt Harris fall in stride next to me with his hands stuck in the pocket of his jeans. I gave him a questioning look, but continued walking towards the direction of my home.

"You're the most qualified to be the next Alpha. Why did you turn down the position?" Harris asked, with a mixture of curiosity and genuine confusion at my decision.

"On the contrary, Ryan is most qualified," I said, "He has been Steven's right hand man for many years so he knows the inner workings to running a pack as well as the politics associated with being an Alpha. Plus the fact the pack will have Danielle as a Luna, and her nurturing side can already be seen by the way she treats Benny. The pack has been lacking balance since Steven hasn't found his mate. Ryan and Danielle will bring balance to the pack again."

"You're more dominated than him," Harris pointed out, "How can your wolf handling submitting to someone weaker than you?"

"Dominance alone doesn't make a great leader," I rebuked, "On the contrary, dominance tends to lead to too much control and even an abusive environment. And it's not dominance that makes wolves not able to submit, it's our human pride, which I don't have. And I'm content with my current position; I want to use my power to heal, not to destroy."

"So the prophecy is true," Harris commented, "One will become well respected among the wolf community, while the other protects and supports the pack from the shadows."

"Prophecies tend to come true," I commented, "Well this is my stop, I'll see you tomorrow?" Harris nodded his farewell and turned back to head his way back to the pack house, while I entered my home. Harris was one of the few privy to the details of the prophecy that was given at Steven and I's birth, but even he didn't know all of the details. Steven and I accidently found out about the hidden part of the prophecy when my wolf went into a rage and almost killed Steven when we were younger. It was only then did our parents reveal to us that even though I was younger, I was said to be more dominant than him. Steven took in the information all in stride, but I had felt that he was off put by the revelation since he had been set all of his life to become Alpha so I trained to rein in my wolf. With my wolf reined in, she became dormant, leading outsiders to believe that I was an Omega, although the pack members knew better after I wrestled Harris to the ground after he insulted me for being weak when we first met. Now, there was nothing but respect from him.

But there was another part of the prophecy that Steven didn't know about. On her deathbed, my mother revealed the last part of the prophecy to me and made me promise that I would never tell Steven. I had a feeling that if Steven knew about the last part of the prophecy, then he would never accept the offer, but he was destined to the follow fate's course.

The pack was going to encounter a threat in the future, the prophecy confirmed that much. But the prophecy was unclear what would happen to the future of the pack. All I knew was the one from the shadows would try to protect the pack, leading to something big to happen in their life. And that something big usually meant death.


A/N: Hi guys! I hope you enjoyed the first part.

Originally this was a really long one shot, over 25k words, so I decided to break it up by parts, based on the time skips in my story so it would be easier to read.

I realize the beginning is meh, but there's a certain number of things that must happen before the romance can officially begin, so keep in mind that it will be a slowish burn, but not that slow since this isn't actually a full length novel. Any guesses what's going to happen? And who do you think her mate will be?

Also this is the first time I actually tried my hand at a fantasy-romance ish type of story, so I welcome any constructive criticism on how to improve!

I look forward to reading your comments, and replying to them.

Thanks for reading! See you soon.

-MM