Silverfur slowly turned to face the family. Cat felt her heart jump into her throat, but she clenched her jaw. She had really hoped that the poisoned fork would’ve done more than annoy him… but it didn’t look like it.
“Gran,” she said again. “Give me the cane.”
“That won’t be necessary, dear,” Gran replied.
Cat glanced over. Gran straightened up, her eyes sharply gazing at Silverfur. Her cane shimmered into a sword.
“Take your mother,” Gran said, pushing her way in front. “Go to your room and lock the door.”
Silverfur lunged towards them. Cat felt herself stumble backwards into Mom.
“Now!” Gran yelled.
Cat watched Gran leap forward, swinging her sword at Silverfur. Mom screamed and grabbed onto Cat’s shoulder. Cat dragged her away from the living room. She sprinted for the bedroom, pulling Mom behind her. Glancing back, she saw Gran roll away from Silverfur’s claws and slash her blade at him.
Gran rose to her full height, her shoulders straightening as she swung her sword and motioned for Silverfur to come at her with one extended finger. She glanced at Cat and shot a quick wink. Cat suddenly felt like an idiot. Of course Gran was using her old lady ploy again; when did she not revert to that? She still made a mental note to talk to Gran later about faking old lady energy without telling her the plan first.
Cat pushed Mom into the bedroom first and then slammed the door behind them. Her dagger was a headband again, laying on the floor where it had been dropped. Cat reached for it, grabbing the hilt as it once more transformed into a dagger. She turned and saw Mom trying to drag a dresser in front of the door.
“Wait,” she said, standing up quickly.
“We need to call the cops,” Mom said, but it seemed like she was talking more to herself than to Cat. “Where’s the phone? What do I say? What’s even happening?”
“Mom,” Cat said, grabbing her Mom’s shoulder and turning her. “Look at me.”
Mom gave a wide-eyed gaze, but it was like she was barely registering Cat’s words. Cat couldn’t blame her. This wasn’t the best way to find out about Mythics, she thought.
“I’m going out,” Cat said firmly, surprised at how calm her own voice sounded. “I need you to lock the door as soon as I’m gone, okay? Don’t come out unless it’s me or Gran at the door.”
Mom grabbed Cat’s arms and gave her a shake.
“You can’t go out there!” she practically squeaked. “There’s a—you could—”
Mom stammered, searching for words. Cat shrugged off her mom’s hands and moved her from the door.
“I’m not leaving Gran out there alone,” she said. “And, no offense, it’s better for everyone if you stay in here.”
She unlocked the door and slipped out, letting it silently close behind her. She held her breath, hoping her mom wasn’t going to be stubborn enough to follow her out. After a moment, she heard the lock click and breathed a sigh of relief. She headed back to the living room.
The couch was overturned.
Gran was standing on the fireplace, slashing at Silverfur. Blood streaked across the end chairs, but Cat couldn’t tell whose it was.
Cat ran into the room, jumping on the couch to shoot herself forward. Her knife caught Silverfur’s back, slicing across it swiftly.
Silverfur let out a howl and spun around. Cat dropped on the ground, rolling away from his giant paws, feeling the whoosh of air as it barely missed her. She leapt to her feet. Gran took the opening. Her sword slashed the back of Silverfur’s leg as she surged towards him, smacking into his body with her shoulder as she moved past him. He howled again and clawed at her, missing Gran by a hair. Cat noticed he was panting heavily as he glowered at them.
“You’re really losing your touch,” Gran noted.
Cat wanted to ask what made Gran say that. He still looked like he was one good shot away from taking them both down. She recalled how quick he had been earlier, though, when he was only a human. Maybe his movements were a little less strong and quick as before. The fight with Gran in the woods seemed so long ago, but Cat felt he was more threatening then.
“Maybe he’s not used to two-on-one,” Cat suggested, inching closer.
“Or maybe that fork of yours slowed him down,” Gran added, her voice sounding conversational, like she wasn’t in the middle of a battle. “I guess not doing the dishes paid off.”
“That was Bree’s idea,” Cat replied with a flush.
It sounded to her like Gran was a little impressed, and Cat kinda wished she had been the one to think of it.
Silverfur snapped at Cat, his jaw gripping the bottom of her shirt. Cat stabbed at his snout, but he pulled back faster than her knife could reach him. She wished she had stabbed him a few more times with that fork.
Gran’s sword caught him as he retreated, slashing his other back leg. He pulled it away a moment too late and snapped at Gran. His jaws grabbed Gran’s arm, and she cried out.
Cat had never heard Gran’s cries before, and it sent a chill down her spine, even as her hand gripped her dagger with fury. She rushed forward with a shout.
Her knife dug into his front paw. She could see the point of her knife on the other side of his claws. He yowled, losing his grip on Gran and turning his attention towards Cat. She tried to pull out her knife and move away, but she was too slow. His bloody paw smacked her on the side of her face. She felt her body fly across the room like she was a rag doll being tossed aside.
Stars danced in her eyes. She tried to push herself up and groaned. She was pretty sure this was a concussion.
Two legs stood in front of her. Cat glanced up. Gran had placed herself in between Silverfur and Cat. Silverfur lunged, and Gran slashed at him with her sword. He dodged, swiping his paw at her. But Gran was anticipating this. She spun out of the way and swung a kick, hitting him square in the face. Her foot landed on an overturned teacup. Cat heard the shatter of china, and she saw Gran’s footing falter.
Cat forced herself up, giving her head a slight shake. It didn’t help the throbbing pain in her temples.
“Gran,” she groaned, pushing herself to her feet.
“It’s okay, dear,” Gran said, turning to shoot Cat a smile.
Silverfur lunged for Gran’s face.
It happened in slow motion. Cat heard a scream, probably coming for her own mouth, as Gran slipped to the side. Silverfur’s jaw snapped, catching one of Gran’s silver curls. Cat felt her body surge forward, and she stretched out her hand, grabbing a tuft of fur.
Silverfur gave a yipped in surprise as Cat pulled his tail, throwing her body away from him. He stumbled back, and Cat heard the rip as her fist clung to bloody white fur.
“Sorry!” she exclaimed, dropping the bloody fur quickly.
Silverfur turned towards her with a snarl, looking understandably upset that he now had a bald patch on his tail the size of her fist.
It was the opening Gran needed. She swung her sword, cutting across Silverfur’s chest. He stumbled to the side. Cat grabbed her knife, pulling it from his paw and digging it into his flank with all her strength before falling back.
Silverfur collapsed with a thump, and Gran tilted her heads towards Cat.
“Sorry?” she repeated, and Cat felt her cheeks grow warm.
“I dunno, it was kinda instinct,” she mumbled. “Like stepping on a dog’s tail. I heard the yelp and just reacted.”
Gran turned away from her with a shake of her head, and Cat could have sworn she heard her mutter, “Not a single thank you to me for helping you all summer, but you apologize to him for defending yourself.”
Gran moved in front of Cat, forcing her to peek around Gran’s shoulder to see if he was getting up again.
His red teeth grinned up at the two of them, making Cat wonder if he was lying there as part of a trap. Maybe he was just reveling in Cat’s embarrassment. Her knife was still in his hip, so she was weaponless once more. Gran didn’t seem scared, though. She slowly walked up to him, giving him a disdainful look.
“I have to say, laying on my floor is a good look on you,” she said. “Maybe you’ll make a good throw rug after all.”
He panted, still grinning. Cat took a nervous step towards Gran.
“This isn’t the end, Betty,” he said.
It was creepy hearing his voice coming out of a giant, bloody wolf body, Cat thought.
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Gran replied coldly. “Our story ends here.”
“Mine might be over, but my legacy will live on,” he said, his breath starting to get raspier. “Don’t forget… I’ve been in this world… long enough.”
“What do you mean?” Gran and Cat said at the same time.
Gran’s voice was more of a tell-me-now-before-I-smite-you tone, while Cat’s was more like a squeak. Silverfur panted, his smile seeming more peaceful and a little smug.
“Especially… with the help… of the fairies,” he said slowly. “I’ve made… my mark… soon you’ll have more like me… to deal with.”
Cat glanced at Gran. Her face was hard as stone. Cat saw the grip on her sword tighten.
“Well, I’ll have one less problem when you’re gone at least,” Gran replied.
With one clean sweep, her sword slashed across his throat. Cat flinched, closing her eyes. She heard Silverfur sigh. Then, silence. She opened one eye cautiously.
He seemed to be vacantly staring at Gran, his triumphant grin etched on his face even as his white fur stained red. Gran stared back at him, without a trace of regret or sadness on her face.
“I think I’ll put him under the coffee table,” Gran said thoughtfully. “Or maybe next to the fireplace.”
Cat put a hand on Gran’s shoulder, and Gran glanced over. Her eyes seemed misty, Cat noted, and looked her over. Her arm was still bleeding profusely, and she had scratches and slashes all over her limbs. She was definitely leaning her weight to one side, and Cat saw that one of her feet was dripping blood. Cat ripped off a bit of her shirt (trying not to think about how Mom would be mad at her for ruining one of her old tops) and tied it around Gran’s arm.
“We should get you to a hospital,” Cat said, checking to see if Gran was bleeding anywhere else.
“I have medicine here,” Gran said with a shake of her head. “I’m not explaining this to ER nurses, and the vampires already have one patient to tend to.”
“There are, like, three of them,” Cat replied. “One of them can take at look at you.”
“You’re the one with a concussion.”
“Now you’re deflecting.”
Gran sighed and shook her head. Then she dropped her sword and pulled Cat towards her. She felt Gran’s arms wrap around her. Cat’s legs began to wobble.
“We did it,” Gran whispered softly.
Cat leaned her head on Gran’s shoulder and nodded slowly.
“I think your sister’s resting in peace,” Cat whispered back.
Gran let out a deep sigh and squeezed Cat closer to her. Cat wrapped her arms around Gran, careful not to hug too tightly in case Gran had more hidden injuries. After a few moments, Gran let go.
“Now what?” Cat asked, glancing around. “We have a lot of cleaning up to do, huh?”
“Oh, you have no idea,” Gran replied with another sigh. “This house and the whole mess.” She shook her head. “The fairies, the Guardian on the other side who let Silverfur through knowingly or unknowingly,… and his little legacy he’s trying to leave behind.”
“Sounds like we’re gonna be busy all summer,” Cat said.
“First things first,” Gran said. “Why don’t you tell your mother it’s safe to come out, while I tell the ones outside our house to stand down?”
“Family business,” Gran said. “It’s a code for the others. Bree probably got the local Mythic Militia to stand guard outside the protective circle. You know, to make sure no one left this house, in case I wasn’t able to stop him.”
“Wait, there’s a Mythic Militia?”
“You’ve still got a lot to learn,” Gran replied with a small smile.
“This means I can keep learning about it, right?” Cat asked. “I mean, I helped you take down fairies and a werewolf. You gotta admit it: I’m a natural at this.”
“I’m not making you Guardian,” she said firmly. “It’s not something I want to pass on. But… I’ll still teach you for a while longer.” She paused. “I quite like having someone to share this with.”
Cat felt her cheeks flush. She grinned.
“Now, go get your mom before she has a heart attack in there,” Gran ordered. “Just… um… maybe bring her to the front porch? I don’t think she needs to see the living room just yet.”
Cat nodded. Her head throbbed as she slowly walked out of the living room. Suddenly, she wanted to go another round with Silverfur. It’d be better than having to explain all of this to Mom.