It looked as if this meeting wasn’t just going to be a small chat with my father and the Alpha.
No, there were several key figures here, leading me to believe this was a far more serious affair than I had anticipated earlier.
In their usual seats sat the Elders, including Elder Tom who gave me a small nod when our eyes met. However, standing before the council to the left was my Uncle William and cousin, Alexander.
My Uncle William looked so similar to my father that it was almost uncanny. The only difference being his usually very sour personality. He’d made almost no attempts at being a part of my life growing up and so I wasn’t surprised to see that it took potentially robbing his son of a rank for him to get up and meet with me. I honestly felt bad for Alexander.
Suddenly, the doors behind us then opened, and Alpha Leo walked in… followed by Benjamin.
The usual fear that tightened in my chest constricted me per normal when I saw him, but I could feel it wasn’t as bad today. It looked as if talking to my father had helped somewhat; even if it was just to help stop me from wanting to run away immediately at the sight of him.
We all bowed our heads in respect at their approach and waited until they were seated.
“Alright,” Leo said in an oddly excited tone. “Shall we get started then?”
Alpha Leo smiled between Alexander and I, clearly eager for whatever was about to ensue. In response, I couldn’t help but squirm a little under his gaze.
Naturally, my father had to leave me to sit by Leo given his rank. I watched him go and tried to not outwardly express just how nervous I was about him leaving me. But he needed to show that he was unbiased in this decision, and I needed to show that I didn’t require my father to fight my battles for me.
“Okay, Winona,” Leo started. “Why don’t you begin by telling us why you’re here today?”
It was clear by those selected to attend that they all knew already what I was about to say, and yet he wanted to hear it from me anyway. Once again, I found myself having to tread carefully, stuck in the game I knew Leo was laying out for me. I knew he wanted me to become Luna but I didn’t know yet what he thought of my desire to be Beta. Would it be enough for him to feel I was contained and not a threat? Or did he see through my plan to make myself immune, trapping his son should he ever cross me?
“Alpha, I’m here today to appeal a process that has for too long been an outdated tradition of our kind,” I spoke out confidently. I knew if he sensed any weakness in me that it would be game over. “I am here today to request you hear out my petition to succeed my father in his role as Beta when the time comes.”
There was a small murmur amongst the Elders but it wasn’t their whispers that worried me; it was the feeling of a cold
stare on me, something I was too familiar with. I spared a glance to the Alpha’s right for only a moment and caught Benjamin’s eye. As I’d thought, he wasn’t happy with my announcement and was staring daggers at me.
My natural instinct was to shy away and submit to his icy gaze, but I held my own, only breaking eye contact to return my attention to the Alpha.
“Mmm… definitely an intriguing prospect coming from you, young Winona,” he mused. “And Alexander? What say you about all of this?”
“My son is the most qualified person in this pack to succeed my older brother upon his retirement,” my Uncle William replied.
“I believe I was asking Alexander, not you, William.”
Leo stared down sharply at my uncle enough to make him bow his head apologetically. The awkward silence that fell was only broken moments later by Alexander clearing his throat, clearly nervous over how badly this had already started.
“Alpha, it would be my greatest honour to support our pack by becoming Beta one day. I am at the service of you, Benjamin and our fellow pack members.”
Leo inhaled deeply in thought having listened to the replies on both sides. His eyes then turned back to me.
“Winona, tell me something…,” he said, reclining into his chair. “The last time we spoke you mentioned having no desire for the Luna position… or any other role of substantial authority for that matter. What has finally changed your mind?”
I looked to my father and saw him nod at me in encouragement.
“… My father has, Alpha,” I said after a pause in thought. “He has shown me the kind of strength I am capable of possessing and how my body doesn’t need to define who I am allowed to become.”
It wasn’t a lie but it wasn’t the entire truth. If it hadn’t been for my father accepting who I was, who I am, and who I could be, there would have been no possible way I would be standing here now before Leo. His training over this last month had proven to me that I was capable of changing who I was if I worked hard enough. That there was no reason to let others choose my fate for me; not even a Goddess.
“I am the only direct descendant of the house of Granger,” I continued. “As you know, we have been the only family for hundreds of generations now to produce Betas time and time again. Our family’s wits and strength have guaranteed our position, never failing in any challenge issued for our rank. It is our family’s right to hand over this title to the next in line.”
“Ridiculous!” Uncle William called out. “By your logic then, there should be no issue if my son takes over. We are your family too, after all.”
“Your son is not the direct descendant of this house,” I reminded him. “…I am.”
“Alpha, you’re not actually listening to this are you?” he laughed. “There has never been a female Beta, and for good reason too. They do not have the strength required to defend the pack against larger male wolves. By extension, my Alexander is still of Beta blood and already started his training
over a year ago. To jeopardize our pack’s safety for the sake of taking a chance on her is ridiculous. We have a perfectly good heir right here.”
He patted his son on the back who looked embarrassed that his father was still speaking on his behalf.
But I could barely pay attention to anything he was doing as my blood began to boil. His arrogance and blatant disrespect for me was evident. Without even knowing what I was capable of, he had already written me off for the sake of his own greed. He most likely only wanted his son to become Beta to better his own chances of being accepted as an Elder one day. Anything to feel important, for once.
I stepped towards him, a fire now burning within me, and spoke of the one thing I knew he would not be able to refute. It was something I had never wanted to use, something I had refused to invoke before now, but I knew that it was my best hope. When it came to breaking old habits of stubborn fools, sometimes you needed to take extreme measures.
“Need I remind you who I am, uncle?” I yelled out, a chill in my words. Instantly, the room became dead silent.
My sudden stride towards Uncle William had also been enough to scare him backwards, even though I was still several feet away. His face was no longer laughing.
“I am not some silly girl with hopeless ambitions as you may think,” I snapped. “I am Winona the Saintess, the marked. The chosen. I was selected by the Goddess herself and a piece of her lives within me. I embody her will, her desires… and yet you are here, merely an insignificant unranked member of our pack, trying to tell me that my succession is not possible
because of the genitals I possess?”