All summer long he’s played in the woods; he’s sated every hunger and the leaves no longer rustle when he passes. The nights are all so bright, the days so sunlit. No one fears him. He’s content.

As autumn comes the prey grows thinner; the stiffer leaves are harder to get through. The harvest comes though, months’ worth of food all taken up and stored away, and that’s enough to keep him fed. He has furs aplenty to warm him, as much companionship as he seeks out, and in his pantry is a winter’s worth of food. Evenings, the candles’ yellow light is cheerful; he fixes the flames in the centers of his eyes and is content.

As the leaves drop off the nights last longer; the full moon is a sight to see. Huge and almost bright as day, with no cover left on the margins of the forest. He goes deeper, to the evergreens; they almost block the light. But he can see; his eyes are keen. And he’s so hungry. So hungry, and there’s nothing here. He wails at the moon’s dim shape, aching and alone. That morning he falls tired into bed and wakes up hungry still, his hands clenched tight, fingernails cutting into his palms. The pantry, so well-stocked, is worthless; there’s nothing there he cares to swallow. He’d shred throats for a proper meal, he really would, break every townsman’s every bone.

He holds back; he has so many friends here. They trust him so. He thinks of all their eyes on him, the browns and blues and grays, the white of every eye so huge around the iris. He thinks of fire, of his cottage going up, so bright the moon is dim beside it. He thinks of being alone, accused and suddenly untrusted; and then, of companionship, a pack behind him, pelts gleaming silver in the moonlight, every member focused on their goal. They could bring down a moose together, weeks’ worth of meat; he could gorge himself, and every member of the pack do likewise, and so much left for them to drag or carry home.

He can contain himself, he knows he can. He can do it quick and painless so they’d hardly notice, and they’d be so grateful, surely. To know this freedom and this power, he would’ve given anything; surely anyone would do the same. And they would fear him, after, just a little. That he could hurt them so with ease (their flesh and bone between his teeth; his muzzle soaked with blood, his belly full) and didn’t, and gave this gift to them, so careful and so kind.

This month is chiller than the last, though he lights fires aplenty, and hunger gnaws at him. Still, he’s strong; he has his plan in its perfection. The full moon comes and he leaps into his skin, delighted; it’s all he can do to wait until the village is abed. Down the hill and up the street, in the opened window; he noses the covers back, he shuts his jaws with care and opens them again, he flees. He’s careful. The rest of the night he spends in the woods, and catches a squirrel to eat. It’s not enough but the anticipation is, and he goes home content. No need to be alone, or hungry; winter can be as kind as summer, the ice reflect the moonlight bright as day. In town the windows shatter, the floors run red; the scent of meat is in the air. When he goes down that day he smells it, realizes, turns away and runs.

He’s weaker, like this, and tired from the night. But he has courage, won’t go down without a fight. Then, though, he does; he’s knocked right to the ground, can barely even struggle. That vast strong body with its silver fur above him, those eyes so bright, the jaws with rows of teeth. So sharp.