We were down another member. I decided that the full moon would be the best time to tell William. I approached our hill quickly, looking about to make sure that no one else was watching.
"My love!" the Union soldier exclaimed when he saw me. He stood from the tree he was leaning against. "I thought you didn't want to come out at night!"
"I have a confession to make." I let out a sigh and did not look at him when he took my hands. "I am fine with the night. In fact, I love it. It is the full moons that I wish to not be near you under."
William looked appalled. "Why is that?" he asked softly.
"I'm not like you," I replied shortly, looking up. "I am not what you think I am."
"What are you talking about?" The young soldier backed away, looking somewhat wary. It pained me inside to tell him the truth, but I knew that I had to. I would never be satisfied hiding the truth from my love.
My back arched. I could feel my bones shifting and creating a whole other shape. Though I had transformed many times before, this moment was the one where it most hurt - even more than my first. My heart weighed heavily on me as I thought through the responses I might get from William.
"This is me," I finally told him, standing before him, now a brilliant auburn monster wolf. As a werewolf, I was larger than regular wolves, so that must have frightened William. "Please, do not fear me," I begged, pressing my furry head against his hand. "I mean you no harm."
William's eyes went wide in surprise. "That's why you did not want to meet on the full moon," he muttered, eyes finding their way to the soft grass below. He finally looked back at me. "You could have told me."
I was aghast. "You mean to say that you are not afraid of me?"
"I love you, so I will accept you no matter what you are." William's smile was dazzling. I could hardly contain myself. I had to tell him what I had discussed with Armel.
"I talked to Armel - you recall meeting Armel, do you not? - and he said that it would be all right to change you." I sighed and looked away. "It would probably benefit you and make you stronger in the war. You will be the top soldier in your regiment."
"What in God's name is wrong with that?" William ran a hand through my fur. "I like that idea! That way, I would always return to see you!"
"I know how you feel, but..." I glanced off to the side. Had I heard a rustle in the brush, or was I just imagining it? I turned back to the Union soldier. "I would have to bite you, Armel said. Nobody else should do it but me."
William flinched slightly, but he nodded, understanding. "Okay," he muttered, withdrawing his hands from me. "My regiment leaves tomorrow, though, for more fighting. I will change as soon as I return." A smile lit up his beautiful face once more. "Then we shall truly be together forever!"
"It has to be tonight!" I insisted, bushy tail lashing from side to side. "William, can you not see that I am concerned for your well-being?" An oxymoron to my previous statement, I bit down hard on his leg, making sure to break through his pants and into the skin.
Armel had told me exactly how it should be done. "Werewolves heal fast," he had informed me. "The deeper you go, the better chance you have of creating another wolf."
I ignored William's screams and curses, biting down as deeply as I could. The scent of blood filled the air; a scent I had all but forgotten. Finally, I let go, watching as William sunk to his knees and doubled over. I glanced at the moon. The night was still in its early stages, so William would be absolutely safe to transform.
"Brigitte, what are you doing? You are making me a coward!"
He howled in pain. I felt a pang of sympathy strike me, remembering my own first transformation. Looking up once again, I was sure that I had heard another sound not far away.
As soon as his monster form emerged, I looked back, ears pricked and wary. With a gasp, I realized what it was. A Confederate soldier - probably having escaped from the prisoner of war camp - pointed his musket toward William and I.
"Move!" I commanded William. The newborn werewolf probably had no idea where or how to move. As such, I stepped forward and grabbed his scruff, willing him to move as quickly as possible.
I was too late.
A single bullet shot from the musket, lodging itself into William's stomach. The monstrous wolf fell over, and I had to drag him off as quickly as I could, dodging more bullets.
The moonlight seemed to die down a bit. It was enough for me to change back, but not for William. I did not know much about my own kind, but one thing I did know was that when werewolves are gravely wounded, they neither can transform back nor heal. Another thing werewolves could not heal from was a silver bullet.
With a grunt, I tugged at the bullet, finally pulling it out of William's body. I gazed at it in pure awe. It was astonishingly silver, and it felt hot to the touch. I dropped it instantly, not wanting it to hurt me as well.
William's breathing was labored. "What...just happened?" he asked weakly.
I got on my knees and cried over him. "I apologize!" I cried. "This is my fault!"
The dying soldier didn't reply. He seemed to smile up at me. "Not...your fault..." he panted slowly, closing his eyes. "Brigitte Zeigler, I love - " William's eyes shot open again, and, shaking slightly, the werewolf drew his final breath.
With a cry of anguish, I slumped over the dead body of my soldier, my love, and I lamented over the time we had spent together. Without me, he could have lived a full life!
A felt a rough hand on my shoulder. "Come on." It was Armel. His voice was strong, yet sympathetic. He, too, sounded choked up. "We should return to the house."
I stood up, wiping the tears from my eyes. The urge to protest did not well up in me this time. Not looking back at William's body, I left with Armel, turning my back on the past and my last connection with any humans whatsoever.