8- Oberon Whiteclaw
I was mentally exhausted. No I was beyond exhausted. I don’t know how my father kept up with this for so long. Of course he had mother to help.
That conversation with my uncle could have gone better. I was just so frustrated. First I got that blasted report and then my uncle still refused to return to his duties. He even refused to reestablish the pack bond! My wolf became angry upon hearing that. He felt as if my uncle was hiding something and I’m starting to agree with him. Something happened when he went to the Ever Green pack, and it hurts that he won’t tell me what.
I needed a rest to take off the weight of it all even for just a few minutes. That was why I was headed to my mother. Even though her official title was the Dowager Queen, she still did most of the duties of the Luna Queen and would until I took a mate. She had gone through similar issues with my father and she was someone I could lean on now.
I walked solemnly through the hallways to my mother’s wing. I tried to keep an air of regal authority but I knew those who really looked at me could tell it was a front. My shoulders were sagging by the time I reached my mother’s apartment door.
Straightening my vest and jacket. I knocked on the door. Even though it was my mother, I knew better than to barge in there without permission. I only had to wait for a moment before the door was opened by a young woman I have never seen before.
“Hello, can I help you?” Her voice was soft, almost unsure of what she was suppose to do. I stared at her feeling similarly. I was caught off guard at seeing her. She was beautiful She had dark black hair that was pulled up into an elegant bun. Her skin was pale in comparison, and her eyes! The were like two jade ovals staring at me. I knew she was waiting for me to say something but I unabashedly continued to stare at her. She was wearing the grey dress of a Lady’s Maid. It was simple but elegant on her.
“Excuse me sir. Can I help you?” She interrupted my thoughts again and only then did I break my study of her, fidgeting trying to cover the obvious stare I had made.
“Oh yes, I was wondering if the Dowager Queen was available?” Smooth Oberon. I sounded almost like a school boy again stuttering over my thoughts. The young woman didn’t seem to let it bother her.
“May I ask who is calling?” A smile tugged at one side of my mouth. This woman was oblivious as to who I was and I was enjoying the anonymity. Before I could answer my mother walked near the door.
“Artemis who is there?” She called out. I saw her peak past the door towards me, and I gave my mother a bright smile. Her face instantly lit up and I was given a feeling of excitement. No doubt it came from her. “Oberon! I didn’t expect you!” My mother cried. I tried to see my mother often, but it was not unheard of to go for days without visiting her. I saw her at official dinners and such but those events didn’t really count.
“Good morning mother! I hope I’m not interrupting your morning.” Even if I was I knew she wouldn’t care.
“Of course not my dear come on in.” The young woman opened the door wider stepping to the side to allow me room to walk past. I couldn’t help but to stare again as I walked by. She was now looking at the ground avoiding my gaze. She obviously made the connection between my mother and who I was. So much for the anonymity.
Once I walked past, the young woman closed the door and stood by it clasping her hands in front of her still looking at the ground. I wanted her to look up at me and see the reassuring smile I held. However, her looking away gave me the chance to study her more. It was then that I noticed on her face the three faded scars that ran along the side of her face. I knew what they were instantly. Claw marks. Seeing those scars made me frown wondering who would attack such a sweet creature.
“Oberon.” My mother seemed to be doing nothing but interrupting my thoughts. I looked up to see her give me a knowing smile. She had caught me staring which mean she would obviously question me about it later. She gestured towards her sitting area and I followed her. Before we sat on the white couches my mother turned to the young woman at the door.“Artemis could you fetch us a tray of tea and some lemon cakes please.” The woman bowed her head slightly with a “Yes ma’am,” and hurried out the door. Even after it closed I stared at it thinking of the woman who left.
My mother made a humming sound, bringing my attention back to her. I turned towards her, seeing that mischievous knowing look again. She didn’t say a thing instead she stared with that same look enjoying the awkwardness I was now feeling. Leave it to my mother to put me in my place without saying a word. Not wanting to deal with the tension any longer I finally spoke.
“She seems nice. When did you hire her?” I asked. My mom’s smirk increased.
“Nice?” Her tone was sarcastic. “By the way you were staring at her I would say you thought her more than nice.” Great. Just was I needed right now. My mother was firmly in grandchildren fever mode and since that was an impossibility, as I did not have a mate, she would become excited at any kind of sign I might be interested in a lady. I sighed rolling my eye at her.
“Mother please don’t read too much into it. I was just caught off guard that’s all. I had no idea you had found a new Lady’s Maid.”
“Of course,” my mother replied. “Because there is no possible reason why you would ignore your mother to stare at a beautiful young woman other than because she is new.” I pointed my look at her mentally begging her to let it go. “Alright,” she gave in with a sigh. ” I won’t bring up the fact that she is 24 years old, a hard worker and very lovely.”
“Mother,” I quickly interrupted.
“She also as a lovely singing voice she uses when she thinks no one is listening.”
“Mother!” She lifted both hands in surrender.
“So,” she said changing the subject.“Mind telling me why you feel like a black tornado?” My mother’s affinity was empathy. She could feel the emotions of those around her and in someways manipulate them. Made it almost impossible to hide things from her. She was almost as good as my uncle in sniffing out lies. In someways she was more useful. It was easier to make trading deals with someone you felt trustful of. She had to be careful though. Some counsel members didn’t like the idea of having their emotions manipulated. She couldn’t override someone’s free will, but it hard to go against your gut feeling.
Right now I needed her for a different reason. Comfort. I was hoping she could help me relax and from the slight buzz in my head she was doing exactly that. But the relief she provided didn’t come without cost. She always expected me to explain my feelings. Made for a few awkward conversations in my teen years.
“Oh it’s just the usual,” I started. “Pushy council members and such.” My mother growled at the mention of the council. She did not care for them.
“What do they want now?” she snarled.
“The usual. Take a mate. Produce some heirs.” My mother scoffed looking away.
“When your father was around they didn’t dare to try and push him around half as much as they do you. It’s despicable.”
“Father also had a mate to support him. The council had a hard time going against him because of it.” Mother’s shoulder slumped as she turned towards me. The topic of my mate was a bit of a sore subject. It was hard enough knowing she was gone but even harder when you realize how I needed her to help rule and I would never have that support.
“You will have a mate someday dear.” I could feel the sadness seep away from me as my mother tried to comfort me.
“It’s not the same thing,” I mumbled,
Before we could go further into the melancholy topic the door opened and the young woman from before walked it holding a tray with tea service on it. My wolf perked up to look at her. As she walked in he noticed a slight limp of her left leg. It was so minor I didn’t notice it before. What happened to her?
The young woman sat the tray down at the table by the door and turned to leave.
“Artemis, would you mind pouring for us?” I whipped my head back to my mother. She never lets anyone pour tea for her. She always said she was too picky about it and no one ever did it right. My mother returned my confused look with that knowing smile.
The young woman smiled and nodded to my mother before returning to the tea tray. I watched as she elegantly poured the tea into cups along with cream, sugar and honey before lifting the smaller tray holding the cups and some lemon cakes. She then timidly crept towards us, her eyes on the floor. The nervous state brought out her limp more and I was afraid she would drop everything entirely.
Before I could think about it I was up out of my seat and rushing to meet her. She must have her the rustle of my clothing as her eyes shot up in shock as I approached. I tried to give her a reassuring smile as I gently grabbed the tray she was holding. I was close enough to catch her soft scent of lavender and snow as it wafted towards me. We stood there a moment together. her in shock at my approach and me standing and enjoying her scent.
We heard a throat cleared behind us. The young woman startled let go of the stray instantly gave a slight bow with a “your majesty,” and scuttled towards the door. She paused and turned one last time to glance at me before promptly leaving the room and closing the door behind her. I couldn’t help the smile on my face as I turned to bring the tray to where I sat with my mother.
Upon turning to face her, my mother wore a sly smile with one upturned eyebrow. I hated that look. I knew she was going to read into this more than she needed to.
“What?” I grunted at her. My mother lifted both eyebrows before she spoke in a less than innocent tone.
“Nothing.” She said nonchalantly. I shook my head as I carried the tray over and placed it on the tea table in front of me as I sat down. My mother picked up her cup of tea and stirred it slightly with her spoon while staring into it. She was enjoying this too much. I scowled at her as she slowly took a sip of tea before continuing to stare at her cup all coy like. It was only then she finally spoke.
“Her name is Artemis by the way.” I didn’t even bother to ask for clarification of who she was talking about. I leaned back in my seat with my cup not wanting to admit my interest to her. That didn’t stop her. “You might trying using it next time.”