Selkies' SkinsInstallment 39
About that Thing...
The werewolf ran as fast as he could and ignored as well as he could the claws of the white cat that were digging painfully into his flesh. She was still shivering, and she stank of fear and the loch, but most heavily of fear. He would have preferred Kirsty to have gone into the castle, with the humans he avoided, but he obeyed his professor's orders. The professor wasn't part of his Pack, but he did retain enough presence of humanity to remember she was to be obeyed.
He did not stop until he got to the Sanctuary, and only to figure out how to slip past the whipping vines that obscured the passage. In his human form it was simple, all he needed to do was stun the plant guardian. In this form however it was more a matter of timing. David grumbled to Kirsty, glancing back at her over his shoulder. Her claws retracted a bit, though the scent of normal wolves was in her nose as well as his own. Although the palaver sounded more like growling and muttering rather than speech, she understood it and felt a bit calmer.
“Are you going to stun them so you can get through safely? I don't want to risk you getting hit...”
Kirsty sank her claws again at the thought of letting go, then pulled them further out. She shook her head vehemently and sneezed before replying, sounding like a cat but speaking to him through the strange manner that she had discovered after her first successes with this shape.
“I... don't think that if I transformed again that I could turn back to this shape. Not right now. I don't want getting chased again, especially by you.”
David grumbled and snuffed. “Alright, but be careful.”
The vines seemed especially irritated tonight, and it took a bit for them to figure out the timing with neither of them being able to stun currently. They both managed to make it through and trotted along the passage, Kirsty having to hurry in order to keep up with David's much longer strides. When they were inside, he relaxed a bit, but not enough to fully untense his muscles and allow all his fur to lay down.
“So, what happened?”
Kirsty bounded a few steps to catch up and he stopped to scoop her up at her mew of frustration. Now that speed was not an issue he could revert back to a more bipedal gait. Her eyes were a lighter blue than their usual as he gazed into them.
“I was getting ready to go inside after my lessons... then a thing came after me. But, I was still on the school's grounds so I don't know how it got on.” She shuddered in his arms. “I had to fight it, managed not to pass out this time. If I had it would have taken me.”
He stepped up into the main room and shuffled to the chair beside the fire. Kirsty sneezed when he sat down, then burrowed into his fur. David sighed deeply. The two sat like that until all her tremors passed, his paw stroking her fur.
He said nothing, grumbled nothing. No growl, nor huff escaped him. Yet Kirsty could feel him thinking. She wasn't sure how to interpret the smell coming off of him, and she tentatively licked at him once stretching up for his muzzle.
He nuzzled back and sighed before tiredly standing up and shambling up the stairs for the bed, taking her with him. He took her under the cover with him, and she snuggled in, very quickly falling asleep. The only thing that disturbed her was much later in the night, when heavier and slower steps than David's came up the stairs, then plodded their way past David's door and into the room next to his on the upper level.
A thud let her know that whoever it was had fallen into the other bed, and the lingering scent from the hall told her that it was Professor Gerwulf. The kitty laid her head back down on David's chest and snuggled again, falling into dreams of swimming through the seas clothed in fur and frolicking with the special sort of narwhals that Mara held so dear, enjoying the respite from dreams of storm tossed seas and floating debris.
Kirsty's rest was interrupted again by the howls of the two werewolves undergoing their change back. She was off David and beside him before he was even up, slipping behind him and once again morphing to her birth form, holding him as soon as it was safe. Soon enough, he was clinging back and resting from the ordeal, and she wondered why if all shapeshifters had the blessing of Herne, it was the involuntary shifters that had to feel such pain.
She doubted that she would have the courage to ask if she were to ever come face to face with the Lord of the Hunt. Mara was scary enough, and the short time that she had encountered Brigit-
The screaming in the next room had also subsided, and she looked in the direction of what she knew was the professor's monthly room of refuge. It was a bit before there was any further sound of movement as their elder rested, but after a few moments there was rustling as he donned his clothing.
A light knock on the door came next, and the voice was as tired thin as a banshee's winding sheet.
“Rise and shine children, moonset is too close to sunrise this month. We need to wash before anyone gets up for breakfast. Miss Makay's not been nibbled on I trust?”
“We're coming professor..” David called, brushing Kirsty's hair a moment before they started getting up.
Professor Gerwulf was still at the door by the time Kirsty opened the door, revealing him to be much paler and bedraggled looking than usual. The beginnings of a silver streak had started above his right temple.
“Professor...?” David wrinkled his nose in distaste of whatever he had gone through, having no memory of how Kirsty had come to be snuggled against him.
“What happened?” The professor finished his pupil's question, putting his weight on the doorjamb. “That is your guess as well as mine David, for the same reasons. By how cold, tired, and incredibly saddened I feel... I may have had a run in with one of the things." He shuddered at the thought of something to horrendous even for a proper name. " I'm thinking that hot chocolate with breakfast would be in order today, instead of the pumpkin cider...”
“You and Professor MacLeomhann went after one last night sir, after one somehow managed to get onto the grounds. It attacked me on my way back from the Loch.” She flicked her eyes toward David when she heard his indrawn breath, then back to the professor to continue. “Auntie wanted me with David. I just wanted away.”
“Did it touch you?”
“No sir, but it came close. There was also this black dog, looked a bit like an Angus, but too scrawny to be one. It knocked me down and probably saved me from a Snatching.”
“I see.” The Professor sighed as she stepped out to allow David to change in private. “Then I shall make certain that the Headmaster, your aunt, and I are able to confer before the day progresses far. We will find a safer way for you to continue your studies. I also think we should find this stray dog if possible as well. Even though you think it isn't an Angus, there are other sorts of spirit dogs.”
“Thank you sir...” She went down to the lower level and waited for David beside the table, only now noting the fact that the table was free of the past night's dinner scraps.
Hm. Maybe that's why they came so fast. They'd taken the leftovers out to the regular wolves once done. Then the memory of that spectral horn came. Or maybe not. Maybe He was here.
The walk back was slower than usual, but not due to the young pair dawdling and trying to have a bit more time together. The professor's step was slower than usual, a slight drag noticeable in his step, and his students preferred to match their pace to his. When the three of them got to the castle entrance and stepped inside, they discovered the thin form of Professor MacLeomhann wringing her hands from where she waited in the shadows.
The elderly professor was on her young niece almost faster than David could step out of the way or Kirsty could react. Her slim form trembled as Kirsty gasped for breath and blushed at the unaccustomed force.
“Och, Kirstine... Do nae scare me like that again child.” She sighed, mashing Kirsty's nose into her shoulder and stroking her hair, accent thick and on the verge of slipping into the Gaelic.
David and Professor Gerwulf stood nearby, exchanging looks of discomfort and surprise at the usually stoic professor's silent tears and slightly hitched breath. After a moment she released Kirsty and pulled David into a hug as well, which he returned awkwardly. Soon she released him as well and looked at her colleague, her speech a little stiffer than normal.
“Thank goodness you're alright as well, Hemming. I am glad.”
He nodded and bowed lightly, the hint of a wan smile twitching the corners of his lips. “As I am of you. It seems that we had a little tryst last night. I hope I was well behaved and kept my teeth from yourself.”
Professor MacLeomhann smiled slightly. “Well enough behaved for a slightly hairy charmer. Still the same as a schoolboy...” She tutted at him. “Quite intent on driving the interloper off.”
Kirsty nearly choked and looked at David wide eyed. He shrugged in reply and inclined his head. She nodded in reply, and the two of them slipped off to tend their morning needs, leaving Professor Gerwulf using his humor to help dispel the effects of the night on Professor MacLeomhann, and for her to be able to tell him of what he would not otherwise remember.