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Wolf, Becoming

by Rory Ni Coileain

Volyk learns very young that he has to hide what he is—oboroten’, shape-shifter—after his father is killed and skinned by a hunter, and the pack that takes in his pregnant mother is hostile to his kind. When Volyk is ordered to fight the pack’s beta to prove his fitness, but instead obeys his hormones and tries to mount him, he’s declared an abomination and forced to flee.

Ilya, too, hides a secret. Being young and gay in modern Russia is dangerous, and he knows it. But the truth eventually gets out, and his brothers lure him into the forest to kill him. They’re stopped by Volyk, who hides the mortally wounded Ilya in his den. The only way to heal the human is to turn him into an oboroten’.

Unfortunately, Ilya’s gentle nature is ill-suited to the life of a wolf. But when Volyk’s old pack returns, seeking to take away Volyk’s magickal den, Ilya will have to embrace—truly become—the wolf Volyk made him to save both his mate’s life and his own.

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It was impossible, what the wolf demanded. Impossible. Yet Ilya crept forward, on hands that slipped and knees he could not feel, the few feet to the fissure. He looked up, once, and saw nothing but darkness. Shuddering, he lowered his head and made his way forward. One hand. The other. Knees, feet pushing against the snow. Behind him, the wolf whined, a lost and mournful sound.

“Just a little more,” he mumbled to himself, or to the wolf, or to the air. Another promise. Dragging himself until the darkness closed around him took everything Ilya had left. He slumped to the ground as if the last life in him were draining out into the cold stone.

He sensed movement behind him, heard claws scrabbling against stone, panting. The wolf’s silver glow reflected off not walls of stone, but walls of crystal. Like a world of stars within the stone, a beauty that would have taken Ilya’s breath if he had had any left to be taken. Almost as beautiful as eyes of burning amber.


The wolf curled around him, nosing at his cheek.

Ilya closed his eyes, surrounded by the soft warmth of star-dusted fur.


About the Author

Rory Ni Coileain has been writing almost as long as she’s been reading, and reading almost as long as she’s been talking. She majored in creative writing in college, back when Respectable Colleges didn’t offer such a major, so she designed it herself—being careful to ensure that she never had to take a class before nine in the morning or take a Hemingway survey course.

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa at the age of nineteen, sent off her first short story to an anthology being assembled by an author she idolized, received the kind of rejection letter that fuels decades of therapy, and found other things to do for the next thirty years or so, including nightclub singing, working as a volunteer lawyer for Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and studying ballet in New York City, until her stories grabbed her by the shirt collar and announced they were back.

Now she’s a legal editor, a soprano in her church choir and the St. Mark’s Cathedral Choral Society (unless they’re singing Mozart, because she’s decided that Mozart didn’t like sopranos very much), the mother of a teenaged son and budding film-maker, and amanuensis to a host of Fae, Gille Dubh, and shapeshifters who are all anxious to tell their stories, and some of whom aren’t very good at waiting their turns.