“King Franz, you must let our children mate. Rion has waited over 700 years for his female and can wait no longer!” King Alaric stood strong amongst the various shifters in the room, all of noble birth or guards to the king of the wolves, Franz Reifenberg.
King Alaric Soilleir had been king of the fae for what seemed like millennia, and he wasn’t about to see his son and heir lose his she-wolf mate. Not because of some stupid class discrimination. Though species usually only ever mated with their like, ever since the first king of wolves had taken a female who was a sorceress, the fae and wolves crossed over every once in a long while.
“Nonsense,” Franz spoke. “Klara will have a mate through the Mondblume Ceremony, just like her older brothers. Like all royalty does.”
Alaric was becoming desperate for his son. The two younger folk had met by chance and felt the first signs of the mating pull immediately. Rion had confided in due course that he was no shifter, not that Klara couldn’t tell. There was something magical, otherworldly about the handsome young man. Or at least the fae prince had looked young, be he was over 7 centuries old when he came upon his female.
“She won’t.” In Alaric’s voice was a warning. “I’ve seen what can happen and have read it the stars. They tell—”
“They tell you nothing—a pittance at most.” Franz waved him away drolly. “You are on my island as an ally, Alaric. Do not test my hospitality by forcing this ridiculousness. Klara will forget all about your son once she is mated to another. She won’t—”
“She will not want another.” The fae king was firm. “You forbid this and you will regret it. You will lose your daughter, possibly in the most decisive of ways.”
Franz had heard enough. He gestured to the guards who moved forward, sure that the spell the sorceress, Mirella, had wound around the palace would keep the fae’s magic from working. Alaric seemed to know it as well, and his face broke from its usual stern demeanor.
“Franz, I beg you.” He knelt on one leg and bent his head. “Don’t do this to my son. He will be king once he has his mate, and your daughter will be his queen. There will be many generations to come from them. Your Klara will never be happy without him.”
“Leave, Alaric, before I make you leave.”
His tone brooked no argument, and the fae king stood tall once again and snapped his fingers once. The crown jewels—the very ones he had gifted to the werewolf king in front of him on his wedding day to Queen Lillith—appeared from thin air. Franz shot to his feet as if to make towards Alaric, but froze.
“I pity you and your closeminded ways, Franz. You have the opportunity to mend the thready relationship between our kind, and yet you mock the bond my people hold so sacred. Your Mondblume potion is a mockery, a sham. You use it so you may cull out the weak and force a bond between two that was never meant to happen. You can write all the charters and articles you please, but it will never compare to the true mate’s bond. You owe it to you family.” He turned to his son, Rionnag, and nodded his head. “We take back our gift to you on your nuptials. You have betrayed us by denying my kin what was meant for him, so we take back our goodwill toward you in turn. Goodbye.”
The two men vanished before their eyes, but not before Queen Lilith saw the younger man’s face. It had broken wide open as a tear spilled down his cheek. Her hand immediately came up to her heart as she turned to her husband, looking pained.
“Franz, the boy looked so sad. My heart weeps for him.”
The king patted her arm, trying to soothe his emotional female. Lil had always been soft at heart when it came to relationships. She even held festive parties on the mainland once a year to celebrate all the mates that had bonded that year. It was a sort of wedding reception for the town, and everyone drank and were quite merry. Queen Lilith was the most popular of all the royalty, and her king was absolutely smitten with her since the day they had met at his Coming of Age Ball.
“There, there, my love,” He cooed softly to her. “The boy will be alright, and Klara will be choosing her mate come this time next week. She will have forgotten all about Rion by then and will instead choose one of our own kind.” He kissed her lips gently, and the little flip her heart did was not the good, sweet type you got that warmed your chest. It was the kind that foretold of tragedy, a broken heart, sometimes even more…
She tried to quell the horrible feeling that something was very wrong, but she couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from.
But by the end of the night, her whole world would be turned upside down.
“I’m sorry, my love,” Rion crooned to Klara from her bedroom window. “Your father won’t allow it, and I only have a few moments left to be with you.”
“He has to!” Klara sounded depleted as Rion’s light blue eyes flickered a slate grey as he watched her face droop with worry. “He can’t keep mates from bonding. It’s unreasonable and so, so wrong.”
Rion understood her plight. Though she could take another to wed and mate with, she had tasted what the true bond felt like, and it would ultimately pale in contrast to the forced one of the Mondlume elixir. And though wolves lived longer than humans, fae were nearly immortal, and there would one day be a time that Klara was gone from this world if she did not mate with future faerie king.
He wanted to sob at the thought of a world without Klara, though he knew that in time, his fate would grant him another female. If that went awry, then another. It would take hundreds of years, but it would happen.
Until then, he would always mourn for his Klara, the woman who was meant to be his but was denied due to disgusting intolerance.
He pressed his lips to her cheek, feeling as his mouth became wet with his Klara’s tears. The girl choked out a sob, and her shoulder shuddered beneath his strong hands.
He couldn’t bear to linger there anymore, to be with her, but never to be a part of her. He would have to say goodbye forever, for the spell that the sorceress cast wouldn’t allow him to do what he wanted and whisk her away to be with him forever.
He turned aside, closing his eyes as he heard her weep behind him. He didn’t want his last visual to be of her crying. He wanted to remember her laughing, like she did when they first met months ago.
As he reappeared at his father’s side on the mainland, he saw the somber looks on his siblings’ faces. All but one was mated now, and he was sure to find his soon enough. He had come of age recently, and it usually took faerie royalty no longer than a few years of maturation to find their ‘gràdhaich’, or beloved.
He wished his last brother better luck than he had.
Klara paced her floor, her thumbnail wedged in between her teeth as she nibbled it down to a nub. Rion had left only hours ago, but already the pain in her chest was increasing. She believed it meant he was getting further away from her, but as this was the first time a royal had found a true mate since…well, maybe forever, she had no one to ask if her heart was breaking, or if she was simply feeling the after-effects of crying uncontrollably for hours.
Still, her tears had never truly stopped, and they dribbled down to her chin even after she ceased attempting to wipe them away.
She ached. It felt like an injury that bloomed from her heart, the small angry muscle that felt like it was being stabbed by a million tiny needles to bleed out, and she was tired of crying herself dry every few minutes. One wave would pass, only to bubble up anew ten or twenty minutes later.
Klara had to speak with her father.
She made her way towards the east wing, determined to convince him to let her wed and mate with Rion, her true other half. If he wouldn’t allow it, she didn’t know what she would do, only that it would be severe enough to make him regret denying her.
Knocking on the glossy oak door that let to his boudoir, she was unsurprised when her mother answered it and welcomed her in with soft, sad smile.
“My darling, please come in. Your father—”
“I’m here, liebchen. Just washing up.” He was bent over the water basin and scrubbing at his beard with his fingers.
Klara stepped inside the room, stalking towards her father boldly. She was convinced she could persuade him to let her be with Rion. He just had to let her, and he’d never denied her before this.
“Father, why won’t you let me be with Rion? He is a good, honest man who—”
“Is a faerie,” the kind cut in. “We mate like with like, and you will be wed to a shifter if it’s the last thing I see to before I die.”
She pointed at his chest, poking him with the finger that had been recently in her mouth. “I will die if you don’t let me be with him. Already I can feel my heart shattering the further away he moves from me. It’s like an angry fist is squeezing it, tiny pinpricks stabbing into it like pincushion. It—”
“Will go away like all other bonds as far as the Mondblume is concerned. This is what has been done for generations, my pet. Ever since my grandfather’s grandather’s grandfather was young. It is what is to be done and will be done.” He stopped. “Next week at your 21st birthday. Now run along, my sweetling, and get some rest. You have final dress fittings tomorrow, and I’ll have no more of your backtalk.”
Klara’s cheeks flamed red as an angry slash cut across her face in her ire. She turned on her heels, muttering to herself.
“We will see who regrets this most, father. You all will see!” She stomped out of the door, her skirts swishing being her.
“What does she mean, Franz?” His wife looked to him as he patted his face dry with a clean cloth.
“Nothing, my pet. She will get over it in a few days. She just needs some rest and a fresh face tomorrow.”
Lilith smiled, but her heart wasn’t in it.
And she laid awake for what seemed like hours until she heard a frightful scream in the middle of the night, making her bolt upright in her bed.
“Dear one,” Franz mumbled from his pillow. “What was that? And how late is it?”
Lillith had no clue, but got up from her bed to seek out the source of the disturbance. She didn’t have to wait long as a maid in her nightgown scurried down the hall as soon as she swept open the door.
“Your Highness, you must hurry!” the young female with the stark wide eyes said to her. “Klara has fallen from the roof of the palace onto the flagstones on the path through the garden. She’s close to death!”
Lillith’s heart leaped into a gallop at the maid’s words, and she left behind her husband to hurry down to the grounds in nothing but her dressing gown to cover her night apparel.
She scurried down the steps to the main floor, shuffling through to the wide doors that let into the back gardens. A few other shifters surrounded a crumpled body, the light from a swinging lantern shining over the blond head of her daughter.
Only it wasn’t blond at all, but crimson in color.
Lilith screamed as the guards moved away, her knees cracking onto the stones as her hands came out to cup her daughter’s face.
As tears spilled down the queen’s cheeks, Klara’s eyes fluttered open, looking unseeing on her mother. She was simply going by her gentle touch.
“Mutter,” the girl whispered, smiling softly up at her. “So…so bright here. Tell him…tell Rion, I love him…always will.” Blood gurgled up and dripped over the side of her mouth. “Tell him…I’m free.”
Klara’s eyes clouded over as the last rasp of her breath escaped, her chest stilling for good as her mother wept over the dead body. Not caring about the state of her robes, she pulled Klara’s head onto her lap as she rocked back and forth until the tears could no longer come.
Soon, a man came over, the pack physician, and he murmured that he would take good care of
he body and prepare it for burial. One of the guards took her hands, and, pulling her upright gently, stepped away before bowing slightly to the King.
Franz’s mouth was open. Alaric had foretold he would lose his daughter. The damned man had right. He was wrong.
The king looked over at Lilith’s cold countenance and stepped back. In all the time they had been married, she had never looked at him with anything but love, except for the few times she’d berated him as she gave birth to their children. Their three sons and their youngest and only daughter, Klara.
“I will never forgive you for this. Not ever, Franz.”
She stalked past him, whipping her hand out to push his aside when he tried to reach for her.
He was aggrieved, but he couldn’t let that show.
Or let anyone know how much he regretted his dealings with the fae. From henceforth, they would always be enemies.
“Prepare my daughter for burial,” he barked at the physician before jutting his chin at the others. “Instead of a Ball, we will, unfortunately, be having a wake.”
He turned to the castle and almost broke down weeping for his daughter. The only thing he could think of, though, aside from his hatred of the fae was, ‘what have I done?’
And miles and miles away, Rion shrieked in his bed as he felt the bond between them break, knowing that his little she-wolf mate was gone for good.
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