“Alpha you need to rest your wounds! Its only been one day.” The Doctor huffed after Titania who was training in the sparring rings with the other wolves.
She sent him an unimpressed look. Veins burst out his forehead at the stress Alpha Titania was causing to the pack doctor. Daring to stare her down, he pointed a finger at her chest. “Don’t you dare give me that look! Alpha or not, I’m the Doctor and I remember confining you to bed-rest alongside Alpha Alfonso.”
Turning away from her current opponent her steely gaze met that of the Doctors and while he didn’t back down, his eyes flickered with fear. He may stand up to Alpha in terms of her health but he still respected her authority and right now, he was on the receiving end of it.
She wiped her face with a towel, “And there’s your problem. Listening to Alpha Alfonso whinge is more detrimental to my health than staying outside in the fresh air and doing something productive.”
The wrinkles on his aged face crinkled. Alpha Alfonso’s complaints were enough to drive voices into one’s head. So, it came to no surprise that the Alpha had chosen to escape over listening to him when his own actions caused the very wounds he wailed about.
“Well, training is only going to tear your stitches open.” He told her sternly, “At least take it easy. We can’t afford to aggravate the tissue.”
The silent warning was clear. Permanent damage could occur and that would leave her unable to be an asset during the hunts, and even impede her ability to run the lands. Leaving her at Death’s metaphorical door.
She nodded, respecting the Doctors decision and he released a deep breath. Garth took over her spar with a female warrior, to which her partner was relieved. Motioning to her now soiled bandages he addressed her, “I’ll change those and we’ll work on toning the muscles in your stomach, otherwise they’ll slacken.”
“Alright.” She followed the old Doctor while he mumbled about herbs and the stupidy of the millennial generation. She kept the wobbling in her walk to a minimum. The pain would never drive her and she let its familiarity flow through, at peace with the stinging sensation. Many would assume she didn’t feel pain. Others knew she had mastered it.
Eóghan sent his Alpha a sideways glance, giving Nathan an open opportunity to attack his distracted stance but he too, found his eyes glued to Titania’s retreating figure.
Many had been wary when their Alpha had appeared at training in the morning having passed out from blood loss the afternoon prior. The females had prepared the meat with natural preservatives while the males used the bones and fur to craft items knowing that while Titania lay in bed, she had provided for them. Pack or not.
She simply ignored the looks with determination through her demeanour as she took up sparring as if the gouge out her stomach meant absolutely nothing. At first glance, her injury was not apparent, but if watching carefully, you could spot the obvious pain it caused her with every twist and turn, every punch and dodge, every plain movement sending her on the verge of passing out once more.
Eóghan shook his head, the scene reminding him of the past, “Nothing’s changed. She’s still the same hard-headed female since when I first met her.”
“How long have you known her?” Nathan took the bait Eóghan had thrown and the smirk plastered on his face caused Nathan to internally curse.
“Years. Believe it or not, I was an Alpha of a small pack- much like this further north.” Nathan listened intently as a deep sense of sombreness took over Eóghan’s usual playfulness.
“I was pushed into being Alpha and not long after a bitter winter took out the majority of the pack. The guilt never left and if it wasn’t for Titania forcing me to come with her then I’d still be there... probably dead.”
Nathan was shocked. He didn’t expect that of Eóghan but could easily sense the strength he spoke about, Alpha blood humming softly through his veins.
After a minute of stunned silence, Nathan spoke up watching Eóghan’s dark past swirl ever present in his eyes, “You didn’t want the position here?”
Eóghan chuckled, low and gruff, “And end up with the guilt of ending another pack? No thank-you. Being an Alpha is harder said than done, and I still haven’t fully got past the grief of what happened over six years ago. Titania helped me through a bad patch and that’s why I owe her; if serving her as a Beta is the way to do it then I will. Happily.” A smile hinted at the corners of his mouth and the previous gloominess lifted, like a passing rain cloud. “She has my undying loyalty.”
Taken back, Nathan once again just looked at him. “So you’re happy?” He questioned as if the words should not be something possible so far away from civilisation with an Alpha known as the Mountain Widow.
“My Alpha has done nothing that I wouldn’t have done. She feeds the pack, protects us and despite what they say, she keeps us alive. Which as you can see,” He motioned to the mountains towered around them, “is pretty hard to do. I would know.”
Nathan once again spotted the males inner struggling. His closest friends and family had been killed and Eóghan had suffered the exact same, only except by different hands. Naturally, Nathan’s respect for Eóghan increased. They had more in common than he initially thought.
Treading carefully, Nathan asked what had been bugging him since the day before, “Alpha Titania’s not as crazy as people say...is she?” Even he knew the answer and at Eóghan’s blank stare, he realised how stupid he sounded.
“I told you not to believe everything you hear and aye, despite everything she’s not half as crazed as those rumors portray her to be. If anything, males who have been beaten by her tend to exaggerate to nurse their egos. I’m assuming you’re starting to see that for yourself?”
Nathan pursed his lips. Unsure whether he wanted to admit, aloud, that he had been wrong. He had been here for a few weeks, lost his closest relative and friends and yet Titania was right. Nathan was the one at fault and she did what any Alpha would: protect their own. Unfortunately, Nathan was as stubborn as an mule and would not give that satisfaction to her.
Rubbing a hand through the sweat that now clung to his hair he levelled his gaze to Eóghan, who was soon becoming an ally of his. “I’m seeing a lot but the rejection still stands. I’m not wanting it. After everything I’ve got lots to sort through, especially with my family.”
Although Eóghan was unimpressed at the mention of the rejection he nodded in understanding, for grief was a silent plague that kept the heart locked in chains. “At least give her a chance.” I’m not sure she’s going to cope much longer, he wanted to add but kept his lips shut.
“We’ll see.” Was all Nathan replied before Eóghan sent a swift punch in warning.
Unable to hold it back, Nathan laughed at the somewhat constipated look that was plastered over Eóghan’s face as they took off sparring once again, the hushed force of grief fuelling them both.
The usual sullen expression on Titania’s face deepened. The Doctors cabin not helping her current mood of being kept inside away from training. The Doctor’s sharp gaze didn’t miss the fleeting look of despair across the young woman’s face and internally, he sympathised. He himself recognised what losing a mate did to one’s self and it was clear to him that the Alpha was hiding much more than she let on.
“Alpha, it’s not just your wound I’m worried about.”
After restitching the skin that had come loose, he dabbed some alcohol on, to clean the leaking flesh-wound. Titania didn’t flinch, even without painkillers, and simply let her eyes trail the scar that would be sure to form to add to her collection.
Her boring stare pierced the Doctor’s head and he continued, “I know firsthand what rejection looks like. I can see it in your eyes, your posture and even the simple things. Let’s not forget that you’re up at all hours and to me, I can assume that your true mate has cast you aside?”
She growled at the implication, “He’s an idiot.”
The Doctor suppressed a chuckle at her response. Instead he finished cleaning the wound before rebandaging it. He could sense she wanted to elaborate so he gave her space to do so. To be a good Doctor, one had to be a good listener.
“I can feel my wolf growing restless and if it’s anything like the past three times, I’m not sure I can stay in control. “The confession momentarily startled the Doctor but he recovered swiftly.
“The bond is a steadfast thing, sturdy and demanding and to deny it of what it craves, what the moon has destined for us- well, let’s just say that if you’ve ever imagined pain then try a severed mate bond.”
She clenched her jaw. The utter torment of the bond was not evident on the outside, but inside, Titania knew it was consuming her. She may have hidden it well but it would not be long before she lost the control she had built brick by brick over the decade, and the consequences, she knew, could be catastrophic.
“Severing the bond on both ends alleviates the worst of the pain but I can’t guarantee anything else,” Barely concealed vulnerability took over his voice, “It’s the emptiness that has you at its knees.”
He busied himself by the cabinets, flickering through differently labeled jars and containers. She didn’t press the male, for she knew of the loss of his mate. The Doctor, Craig, had moved from the lowlands to a life of seclusion in the mountains. Initially, he vied for death but eventually, he took the position of pack Doctor and left the rejection to the past. As best he could.
With his back to her, the short-lived emotion of hope that touched Titania’s expression went unnoticed. She did not admit such weak things, much so after what her past had taught her, nonetheless even she couldn’t deny the childish spark Nathan brought back to her. A small reminder of who she once was.
“If I reject him he’ll feel what I feel?”
The question took Craig by surprise and he turned around to face her. Her face gave nothing away. If anything, it was devoid of anything other than curiosity. “Yes. He’ll feel the severing of the connection to you, as an Alpha it will be even stronger than most wolves.”
Perplexed, Titania just nodded.
“Alpha, Let me get this straight. You won’t break the bond to spare his feelings?” To him, even his question seemed quite peculiar but by the deep sadness etched into her very being, Titania dismissed him and that gave him his answer.
His Alpha would take the brunt of the pain to protect her mate. A noble, yet suicidal proposition.
“What I do with my mate is none of your business. I’ve coped before I’ll cope once again.” Titania knew the pain of a broken bond too well and after her childhood, she’d protect who she could from it. She lost nothing, for she was already damaged.
Doctor Craig shook at her determination but protested, eyes wide, “You’re playing with the Moon Goddess and that’s a dangerous thing. Alpha I must warn-”
Bottles smashed at the force of Titania's smashing her fist against the counter. “As I repeat, it is not your concern. Drop it.”
Her cold exterior veiled the inner turmoil within. Control back in full effect. The elderly Doctor was about to open his mouth but shut it promptly at the deathly glint in Titania’s eyes. Darkness pooled the room as Titania’s dominance swept through and Craig tilted his head, in attempt to appease the beast.
But her beast was not and never would be satisfied. Even after a full circuit of her territory, over fifty miles of rough and muscle jerking terrain, did not squash the aching inside.
She may forever be the Queen of the Mountains, the Alpha of Duskfall despite the heartbreaking, heavy headed revelation that continuously broke her over and over: She was unlovable.