Written for the Psychic Wolves for Lupercalia challenge. (Jaegers are wolves!)
Valois for grace and perfect poise, it was said, Stuart for unmatched hunting prowess, Wulfenbach for robustness and unity of purpose -- and Heterodyne for the monster under the bed.
The wolf that trotted in at the side of Lady Agatha Heterodyne could have been bred straight out of Valois stock, so prettily put together was she. Such a delicate silver that she shone, moonlike, under the hundreds of candles hanging from the walls and ceiling of the grand ballroom, but for a sooty mask, legs like opera gloves. A delicate build and paws that trotted daintily almost succeeded in making her an asset instead of a shock.
Then again, Mechanicsburg being what it was, they'd all been braced for far worse than one of the gentler sex being soul-bonded to a war beast. This even seemed almost calculated, even though Tarvek knew -- not from first hand, but from many a recounting -- that there was, in the end, no forcing a bond. You could direct it, make sure only the appropriate sort would have access, but in the end the wolf chose. This wolf...
"Anevka?" he inquired. His sister chuckled pleasantly at some princeling's words and turned to him, looking outwardly polite, inwardly sarcastic.
Tarvek handed her a flute of champagne, eyes cutting toward the new entrance, hardly unremarked, smiled into his own flute so his lips would be obscured. "Is that her very own?"
Anevka, was the thing, had a soul for wolves. Had she been born to some lower house, or one with a passel of sisters to lose herself amongst, she would have not passed sixteen without being bonded. (And then, probably, been relegated to some forgettable country estate.) Things being as they were, their father had noticed the interest their Blitzengaard cousins' companions paid her, and immediately forbidden any unbonded wolf from putting toe onto the castle grounds.
Being bonded would ruin most of her marriage prospects, ruin her reputation. She'd accepted it easily enough. She still had a feel for them, somehow, that Tarvek could not for the life of him learn.
Meanwhile Tarvek himself had never gotten a second look. But that was neither here nor there.( Read more... )