I had glanced into
Mal’s room, despite vowing that I would not, as I passed—and what I saw in
there had made me stop dead in my tracks and turn, staring openly, at what
presented itself to my astonished gaze.
Peregrine had picked up on the tensing of my shoulders, moments before he
stepped up to the door himself.
“What is it?” he said, alerted that something out of the ordinary was going
on. And then he was beside me, looking into the room, and he, too, had gone
“Oh,” he murmured, very softly. “Oh, my.”
Given the circumstances, it might be construed as strange—but perhaps it
was just that what I was seeing was not really registering yet and so I picked on
the second most obvious thing that I was seeing to comment on. Or not seeing,
as it were. Because the words I heard coming out of my mouth were,
“Where’s the weasel?”
“I think that might be it,” Peregrine said, pointing with his chin into a cor-
ner of the room distinguished by nothing so much as a wet, bloody smear and
what looked like it might have been the remains of a weasel tail. “Or at least
what’s left of it.”
The only other thing inside that room… was not my brother.
Or at least not the brother I was accustomed to seeing in there, sitting mo-
rosely on the floor wrapped in a Turning cloak, engaged in a staring contest
with the weasel into which he was supposed to Turn, and losing the contest
time after time, leaving the field to the triumphant weasel after his human form
(when it became obvious that the Turning was not going to happen) was es-
corted from the room.
I could see the Turning cloak, discarded and crumpled in the far corner; it
looked like it had been through the wars, bloodied and ripped—no, shredded—
and lying where it had been left when… when Mal…
Well. I took a firm grip on the matter, thorns and all, with both hands.
When Mal had Turned… into a wolf.
Because that was the only other thing in that room. A young, leggy, pale-
gray wolf, with glowing golden eyes and a bloody muzzle which left little further
mystery as to what had happened to the weasel that was supposed to be his pat-
tern-animal. Given the number of times he had had to sit there staring at that
weasel, even if memories didn’t specifical y carry over from one from to the
other, I would have thought that Mal’s building and towering resentment of
that weasel and all that it had represented had been the final straw onto what
had already been a wolf’s instinct to kill that kind of helpless prey. Not only
had Mal not done the decent Random thing and Turned into the last warm-
blooded living thing his human eyes saw just before the Turn began, he had
gone and eaten that thing.
The wolf was aware of us, because those eyes were fastened on the window
in the Turning room door, and his lips were drawn back from some fairly seri-
ous teeth. The doors of the Turning Rooms were sturdy and muffling but they
were not wholly sound-proof; the growling which Peregrine had been so arch
about had probably not been coming from my belly.
% . '
“Oh, my,” Peregrine said again, and I tore my eyes from wolf-Mal and lifted
them to Peregrine’s face. The expression on it made my heart lurch in a funny
way—there was fascination there, and vivid interest, neither of which were un-
expected under the circumstances, but there was also something else. A deep
and visceral regret.
He realized I was staring at him and turned his head to glance down at me.
“You,” he said softly, “are an anomaly, and right now you are numbered
amongst the most unique Were-kind that had ever lived, simply because I can
talk to you instead of looking at you through a glass window as we are looking
at Mal right now. But like I told you before, you’re a perfect Random—in that
much, you are not so different from somebody like, say, your parents at all. You
showed me, you proved to me, that I could make you turn into a different thing,
simply by offering it to you at precisely the right moment. But what happened
in that room…” He looked up again, away from me, back at the wolf who was
steadily staring right back at him. “You, I can make a case for simply monitor-
ing, and registering you as a Random Were—because there is no hierarchy, no
Clan, no Guild, the Random cannot organize in that way by very virtue of what
“But Mal is a Random, the family is Random,” I said, but it sounded des-
perate and, well, wrong— even to me, even as I uttered the words.
Peregrine was shaking his head. “No. Oh, no, he is not. If he were, there
would be two weasels in that room right now—either at a respectful standoff or
at one another’s throats—but Mal did not Turn into the last warm-blooded crea-
ture he saw before he Turned. No, there was such a creature before him, for
that very reason, and yet he Turned into something else altogether. Some-
thing… that is very rare these days.”
“What? A Were-wolf?”
“Indeed. Two things have just happened here—your brother has Turned
into a form that is apparently fixed for him, not Random at al , and he has
turned into a form that once used to dominate our kind but has become very,
very rare in modern times. You, I have the luxury of fudging—there is nobody
to whom I am supposed to, or even required to, report directly at all. But there
is an authority where Mal is concerned, and I am obliged to report the nascence
of a new and whol y unexpected lycan to the Lycan Pack. I have to…” He shiv-
ered, and his hands spasmed on the door. “Jazz… “ he said quietly, and then
corrected himself. “Jesse… I had hoped to have more time with you—to talk as
Jesse—but this—I think this has triggered—I think you’d better lock me into
my Turning Room. Right now. We will have a lot to talk about, when I come
back in three days’ time. Oh, and don’t forget to alert Vivian. She will need to
procure the proper food for that wolf; I don’t suppose you have anything suit-
able lying around the house. This was never expected or planned for. Hurry,
now. I can feel the Turn beginning…”
He hustled himself into the empty room that was to have been Celia’s, and
I closed the door behind him. I didn’t wait to watch him Turn; I went back to
Mal’s door and stood there staring, transfixed, unable to take my eyes off this
thing that was my brother.
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