Chapter 5 : V: Rafe
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Rafe grabbed an entire hunk of beef and stuffed it into his mouth, chewing with his mouth open. Once he was done, he took care to wipe the sweat off his brow and the dirt smears from his chest. He cleaned his mouth with a napkin and ran a hand through his thick, dark hair. Rafe then headed to the grounds, where the rest of the Loup was convening to wait for a word from the Master. He always spoke after a “crisis”, telling the students what they needed to expect and how they’d done and why they needed to do it. It was boring, really.
Rafe darted through the crowd, looking for a certain blond head. She was short, so she didn’t stand out immediately. But Cala’s hair was white blond, and extremely long and curly, unlike anyone else’s. It was never that hard to find her.
As he ran, Rafe thought about running his hands through that hair. Moving them down to her neck, over her muscular shoulders…
There! She was up towards the front, talking to her friends. As he slowed his pace to a strut and straightened his posture, Cala glanced back at him with a half smile on her perfect, rose colored lips.
Rafe’s heart nearly melted. Cala was in his batch, so he’d known her since babyhood. They’d ran around naked together. But sometime in the last year, something had changed. Rafe blushed when Cala looked at him, his voice broke when he spoke to her, and just sitting behind her in class made him happy for the rest of the day.
Rafe was positive that Cala liked him too, and was just flirting when she turned her cheek on his kisses and made excuses when he asked her to sit with him. And when she glared at him, well, it was just sexy. And only made Rafe try harder to get her.
The Master appeared, old and powerful and proud of his school. He stood on the sloping hill the Loup was on, so that he towered over even Darcy and Gethin. Rafe stood behind Cala, breathing in her flowery scent and swooning from it.
“You all hid efficiently and impeccably,” began the Master, surveying his students who he saw only if they were sent to him for rule-breaking or during these speeches. Rafe admired him greatly, but also hated him. He thought he was so safe with that little wand in his hand. Rafe longed to swipe out his eyes just to prove that no one could move faster than a Knight, without or without a magic stick.
“People are not a bad thing, we are just trying to protect them in their ignorance. The less they know, the less they will try and meddle and take control. People are too curious for their own good. That is why we are so far away from civilization, and that is why we hide when they stray up our road. We are not in any danger from them…”
“He speaks as if he’s not one of them, the asshole.” snickered Darcy to Zevi, who cracked a grin. Rafe had not been aware they were standing so close. Like all cautious kids, Rafe was in awe of those who could so openly mock the Master. Sure, Rafe disliked him, and of course Rafe longed to show him how weak that wand was, but Rafe knew deep down that the Master had more power than just a wooden thing that he waved around.
Rafe lost track of the talk as Cala flipped her hair over to one shoulder and a strand or two brushed his still-bare chest. He pictured once again his hands, moving from her shoulders down to her back, still farther down to her hips, sliding down…
A few months ago Rafe had come into control of his own body, not blushing or squeaking as much around Cala, hiding his more embarrassing emotions. But on the inside he was giddy as ever.
Rafe was pulled back to his senses as the group began to disband, most kids heading to the Dining Hall for lunch. Cala and her friends sat down on the ground, however, and lifted their faces to the sun, which hadn’t shown is pretty face in over a week.
Glancing down at Cala’s glowing face, bathed in sunlight, her eyes closed, lips turned up, Rafe forgot that he’d been planning to get more food after the speech. Instead, he sat down on the grass beside Cala.
“Hey,” Rafe said, lowering his voice an octave, “You going to get any lunch?”
“Hi, Rafe.” Cala smiled at him, and a flutter went through Rafe’s stomach. “In a minute. I just want to enjoy all this good weather before it disappears.”
“I know what you mean.” Rafe didn’t actually care that much about the weather, but since Cala obviously did, for now he absolutely adored it.
“Did you catch anything on the Hunt last night?” Cala asked.
“A coyote,” said Rafe proudly. Mostly people caught deer and wild turkey. But coyotes were bigger and more of a challenge. There also weren’t nearly as many. “You?”
“Turkey,” said Cala, “But it was thin and tiny.”
“It’s not their season,” agreed Rafe. He hated how he could only come up with small talk with Cala, but it was more than he could manage a month ago.
“What do you think of Arnulf, Rafe?” said Cala, turning her face from the sun for the first time and setting her deep, sky blue eyes onto Rafe’s dark brown ones.
Rafe narrowed his eyes and spat “I hate him.”
Cala laughed, a ringing laugh that always made Rafe smile. “You should see your face!” she giggled, “So hateful and ugly and… jealous!”
“Wha…” Rafe considered this. “Jealous? Nah.” He choked out a fake laugh.
“Silly,” grinned Cala. And then she leaned forward and kissed him. On the lips. With her mouth open. And with her tongue. And her hands were on his chest. His bare chest. And her hair was brushing against him. And his hands were somehow around her waist. And then they were lying down, and she was on top of him, giggling and still kissing him. And someone was saying something, but Rafe wasn’t listening. He was kissing Cala. And her hands were mussing up his hair. And he couldn’t even think a fully-formed thought, so why should he care about what anyone thought except Cala anyway?
After an eternity, when they finally pulled apart, both Rafe and Cala were flushed and breathing hard. And smiling.
“Let’s go to lunch,” said Cala breathlessly, taking his hand.
“Yeah,” Rafe let a broad smile escape his lips.
They walked up the hill to the Loup, and Rafe knew why the sun was suddenly the best thing in the world, why the Loup was a castle of power and strength, why the Proie was full of opportunity instead of death.
Because everything is beautiful when you’re in love.
After gathering food from the kitchen, Rafe pulled Cala down onto his lap at a table in the Dining Hall, marveling at his good fortune.
Rafe would never remember what they talked about that lunch, or what he ate, only that he was with Cala. But he would never forget what happened just as they were standing up to go find something to do before classes started.
Raul: short, ripped, tanned Raul appeared out of nowhere and grabbed Cala’s face. He then thrust himself on her, forcing her lips open with his. One arm slid down to lock itself securely around her waist.
Rafe didn’t see the expression on Cala’s face, he simply threw himself at Raul, knocking him away from Cala. Rafe grabbed a fistful of Raul’s hair and yanked it upward. Rafe felt himself involuntarily morphing, felt the added power coursing through his muscles, felt hair forcing its way up all over his body. Rafe’s jeans split along the seams and fell to the ground.
Rafe snarled, spittle flying from between his bared teeth and peppering Raul’s face. Raul began transforming too, but before he could do anything, Rafe raked a claw across his face, quickly drawing blood. As Raul screamed, Rafe drew his paw over Raul’s throat, and Raul was silent.
Triumphant and sweaty, Rafe looked up, ready to claim back Cala. But he did not see the congratulatory smile on her face.
Instead, Cala’s terrified face stared back at his own. And when Rafe reached a furry hand for her, she turned and ran.
Rafe swung around and punched a bench so hard it splintered, and he heard a crack as his hand broke.
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