Chapter One: Miss Hazel
I watched my class as they sat around me in perfect little rows, their faces upturned ready to hear what tale I had for them today. It hurt me deep inside that I wouldn’t have much longer with them. “Class, this will be the last day I’ll be teaching you. Miss Moss will be taking over from tomorrow onward.”
“Miss Hazel!” A little girl was on her tiptoes and I smiled. I couldn’t tell the other but she was my favorite of this class. I nodded for her to go on. “Why do you have to leave us?”
One of the boys snorted at her and rolled his eyes. “Don’t be dumb, Lily. She’s getting married off remember? ‘Cause of the prophecy.” He grinned.
Lily’s eyes shone. Great, I hated having to talk about that damn thing but looks like I’d have to yet again. “Miss Hazel! Can you tell us the story again, please?”
I sighed. There was no escaping the cuteness of those big green eyes under that bright red hair. My weakness. I heard Ivy snickering at me from inside but rolled my eyes at the wolf. As if she had any right to say anything. She liked this fairytale as much as the kids did, more so really. “Fine, since it’s our last day together.” I settled onto the old broken tree trunk and gathered my feed beneath me. “Our pack has always lived and died by the prophecies the moon has shown us. Every single one has come true and as long as we follow them, our pack is taken care of.”
“Except this one isn’t so cut and dry,” snickered the boy.
“Marl, that’s enough. Please let me finish.” I gave him the look and smirked inside as his mouth clamped shut and he stayed perfectly still. Being a teacher for so long did have its benefits at times.
“Seventeen years ago a pair of twins were born under the light of a blood moon. As we all know those are a sign of danger and change for our kind. One will save the clan and strengthen it so it will never be broken apart. One shall destroy the clan it’s in, rip it apart, and turn it to ashes. Of course, I’m paraphrasing because none of you want to listen to a long-drawn-out prophecy from the elders that don’t seem to understand the concept of getting to the point. But as for why I have to leave, I have been decided to be the latter part of the prophecy and will be leaving this clan to join with another. That way when it comes true, it won’t be our clan that is destroyed.”
Lily’s eyes swam with tears as they always did. “I don’t want you to go.”
“You’ll be fine, Lily. Miss Moss will be here for you, and you will have a new pack leader, your new alpha.”
Marl wiggled back and forth. In his wolf form, he’d be wagging his tail by now. He always got excited when my brother was spoken of. “I can’t wait to go to his ceremony! We can go, right? Please, Miss Hazel? Please?”
I nodded. “Of course you can go to the feast, everyone is welcome there. You are all too small to go to the Great Race or the Great Hunt. Those are both sacred rites that only those that have reached adulthood may attend. I heard the chorus of awws and had to smile at them again. Ivy was making retching noises but I ignored her. All she was worried about was the race, but I was going to enjoy the final moments with these students I had spent their whole lives with.
“Will we see Lapis there?” Marl was bouncing on his toes now. He just couldn’t sit in one place anymore.
“Yes, Marl, you’ll see my brother.”
“Yay! New Alpha! I can’t wait!” Marl ran around the room over and over again until I started to get dizzy.
Lily tugged at the hem of my skirt her fingers in her mouth. She always did that when she got nervous. A habit I had been trying to break, but as Ivy had scolded me, I was too soft with the pups. “Miss Hazel, why can’t it be you?”
Marl stopped mid-stride and stared at her as if she’d grown another head. “Girls can’t be alpha!” he all but screeched. I watched as she wilted away from him. “Are you dumb, Lily? Girls are never alpha here! You guys are all soft and stuff. Boys have to be alpha we’re the ones that take care of you all and protect you.” He looked up at me proud of his words.
I pat his head. He wasn’t wrong, all of that was true. Although to be honest I felt I would have been a far better alpha than my moron brother was.
‘HAZEL!’ The voice in my head roared. ‘You do not talk about your future alpha like that! I can’t believe you’d even think such a thing! This is what the pack has demanded and it is what we will give them. I will hear no more of this insanity of us being a better alpha. Lapis is a fine alpha, and his wolf Lazuli will lead this pack to greatness just as the prophecy has said.’
I rolled my eyes at Ivy’s rant. I would argue with her later, for now, I was going to enjoy my kids. “Lily, it’s okay. Everything will be alright. I have to leave so when the destruction comes it doesn’t take out our clan. Instead, it will take out our rival one. They just think we’re bonding together to unite the packs, they have no idea of the prophecy. I’ll come to see you again when it’s all come to pass.”
Lily’s eyes shimmered again and she buried her head in my skirts. “I just wanna see your wedding!” she wailed with tiny hiccups and sobs.
I rubbed her back until she had cried herself out. “You probably won’t be able to see that. But I promise you that you’ll forget all about a silly wedding when you’re at the Great Feast and see Lapis get to take what has always been his.”
There was a cough behind me and I glanced over my shoulder. Moss leaned against the doorway her eyes scanning my figure with an upturned nose. I wasn’t really popular in the pack with the whole destined to cause doom and all. “Hazel, you do know that you’re going to be late to the races if you don’t prepare right? This isn’t some school plaything, it’s a serious business. Anything goes, if you’re not careful and paying attention you might not have to worry about leaving the pack after all.”
Her small smug smile told me what exactly she meant by that and I hoped that my kids didn’t take notice of it. The last thing I wanted was them to see their new teacher threatening their old. But that was my place in the clan, given the lowest of the low jobs, teaching. They didn’t care about the youth above making sure they grew up. There was nothing to improve their minds and it was all about becoming killing machines in the future. I knew that their lessons under Moss would be quite different than mine, but I had no choice.
I returned her smile as best as I could trying to make it look genuine. “Thank you for letting me know. I would hate to be late for such a very important event.” I crouched down and gave Lily one last strong hug. She would miss me most I think. “You be good for your new teacher.” She sniffled at me and I just kissed her head before grabbing Marl and hugging him too. His little body melted against me before he hugged me back with a wild abandon and looked up at me with tears brimming in his eyes. He wouldn’t say he was going to miss me, but I knew my wild boy would as well.
I took my time, which pissed Moss off no doubt. I hugged each and every student whispering goodbye messages to them. When I reached the last I stood tall and made my way to the door. I was fated to never see this room again. I would participate in the Great Race in order to get a time for the Great Hunt. If I was slow I would be taken over by one of the males during the hunt, and no matter my betrothal status, anything goes was allowed there as well. They had to think of some way to encourage and honor the males after all.
I hated it, all of it. But Ivy? She was over the moon at being able to participate in a pack event, and that’s what scared me. We’d have to take turns on who was in control during it, so if I wanted to keep myself the way I was for just a bit longer, I was going to have to push myself to the very limits, or the decisions she’d make I might not ever recover from.