Khalid ducked under the small passage that Fatin opened for him. The hidden city of Tadmur, their home, was protected by a strong barrier of wind. And in the desert, there were not many who dared to pass through such a strong barrier. Neither the humans of the neighboring city nor the French military could do so. Thanks to the small group of air elementals who were part of their community, their people were able to stay well hidden from the eyes of the curious person or the hunters of whom strange rumors were growing by each passing day.
Taking one last glance at each other, the couple bid farewell at the entrance of Tadmur, with hopes of meeting sooner than they hoped. The festival of the moon goddess was near. It was the one time in the whole year where they allowed human worshippers of the goddess to enter the city that was otherwise occupied by wolves and elementals. Many preparations were going on for the occasion, as was evident from the busy street in front of him.
Possessing the power of the wind, the air elementals were busy clearing out any last speck of dust and dirt from the streets as laughing children helped some of the members of his pack to hang up decorations throughout the place. It was a good day, Khalid thought to himself with a smile. He was an engaged man now. Soon, he'd be able to take over his father's position as the pack's Alpha, and his own children will be running around these streets.
He laughed inside, shaking his head. The idea was making him feel light in his feet. With a dreamy look on his face, he walked towards his house, greeting everyone on either side of the street cheerily. As soon as he opened the gate to the modestly big house that he called home, Khalid paused for a moment, closing his eyes. The sweet smell of baklava was calling him towards the place. His mouth watered in anticipation of having the sweet. His mother's baklava was the best that he had had in his entire life.
Khalid slipped inside the house quietly, hoping to startle his mother from behind like he always did. But as soon as he walked in the woman turned towards him with a warm smile, waving towards him to come to her. His plan got ruined, but her smile made up for his disappointment. He quickly walked over to her and wrapped her in a warm hug. It was a happy day indeed.
"Khalid, my dearest child." She said, patting his back lovingly.
"Mama." He called, detaching from her with a bright smile.
"What is it?" She asked, looking at him with suspicion. "You look unusually happy."
"Haha, yes, I am," Khalid replied, sighing dreamily.
Fatin's words lingered in his mind. He was the happiest man on earth right now, he thought to himself.
"Come here then," His mother said, breaking a small piece of Baklava from the platter. Khalid opened his mouth wide to welcome the little piece-of-heaven. "There. Sweets make such moments better." She said, pinching his face.
"Thank you, mama." He said, chewing on the sweet. "You're the best."
"Now, do you want to tell me what it is?" She asked, covering the platter with a lid.
"It's a surprise." He replied with a wink.
"What is?" A deep voice asked, coming from behind him.
Khalid turned to see his father walk into the room. A couple of dead quails were hanging by a string on his belt. The Alpha must be back from the hunting trip, he thought to himself. Luckily, he hadn't slipped. He feared his father's reaction more than his mother's. The Luna was much understanding when it came to matters of the heart, but his father was not.
"Tariq! You're here!" He exclaimed excitedly, reaching him in the blink of an eye.
"Manar, my darling!" The Alpha said, pulling his mother into a loving embrace.
Khalid gagged, watching the display of affection. His father and mother were mates. They were lucky enough to find their partners from their own pack. Not everyone was as fortunate. Many wolves among their pack lived with anyone who was willing to marry them. Since they couldn't leave the hidden city for their safety, traveling to another side of the world to find your mate was out of the question.
Although this was so, it was expected out of every Alpha to have his mate by his side, so that the pack's strength doesn't get decreased. Khalid didn't believe in such outdated ideas, although seeing his parents together in love warmed his heart. But it was not enough to make him stay when they were doing it in front of him. He took careful steps forward, hoping that it was quiet enough for them to ignore him in their moment of love.
"Stay there, boy." The Alpha's voice boomed just as he reached the door.
Khalid cursed his luck. "Yes, baba?" He asked, politely turning back to his father.
"What were you telling your mother?" Alpha Tariq asked, raising his brows.
"It's nothing," Khalid said with a shrug.
"C'mon Khalid. You know you can tell me everything." The Alpha said, his tone warming up.
Khalid sighed. Fine, if it was meant to be, then he should tell them and get it over with, he thought to himself.
"Baba, Mama, I want to get married." He said quickly, keeping his eyes on the ground.
"Praise the moon goddess! Have you found her already?!" The Luna exclaimed. "Tariq, do you hear that?! Our boy has found his mate!"
Khalid's eyes widened in surprise. It was not right. He never said that he had found his mate. How did his mother assume that it was so? That was when it occurred to him. Now that it was already said and done, correcting her would be a huge mistake on his part. The disappointment would lash out at him a hundred-fold. Maybe this was the moon goddess's will. If this was the only way that they were going to let him marry Fatin, then so be it.