Roses and Fangs

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Valdus stared at Rosebud’s bandaged arms. Enormous guilt sat on top of him. His beast whined, and Valdus stopped his temper from flaring again. It was entirely his fault. All of it. Rosebud had opened about something very personal, and he had reacted in a very frightening and off-putting manner.

His Queen’s sweet face contorted into a panicked and scared expression. That was one thing he had never hoped he would be responsible for.

“When will she wake up?” Valdus asked the healers.

“In a few hours, we have given her some herbs to keep her asleep.”

“Will she be in pain?”

“A little, my King. Please don’t be worried, the Queen will heal in no time.”

“Will the wounds leave scars,”

The healer hesitated before lowering his head. Valdus closed his fist, letting his poisonous claws pierce into the calloused skin. He didn’t deserve her, he could’ve easily killed her, his beast onlyneeded a little push.

Valdus realised his father’s decision of keeping his mother away on the full moons. He had always looked down upon that reason, but today he realised its necessity. But unlike his father, thelater King Brandon Magnar, Valdus’ beast always risked getting out of control. Maybe he needed to isolate her forever.

The thought didn’t sit down well with him. They were newlyweds, canoodling in each other’s arms and stealing kisses, they should’ve been doing that instead of him getting off the rails. Valdus walked out of the room, standing beside Valerio.

“You didn’t mean that, did you?” Valerio asked, “that you would limit your interaction with Queen Rosebud. C’ mon, she will be devastated.”

“I cannot risk hurting her, Valerio.” Valdus was resolute about his decision. He had to build up his self-control. It was all for the good of his beautiful mate. “My Beast has a mind of his own.”

“You are giving him too much power, you are the Alpha not that Beast of yours.”

Valerio was right, but Valdus couldn’t take the risk of going near Rosebud. She meant too much to him.

“Valdus, the Queen will be leaving for her tour in a few days, don’t you think you should be with her....”

“No. I have made my decision. When she opens her eyes, I command you to convey this message to her.”

“And what about the task? Asking for Evanora’s location, how will you do that?”

“I don’t need the location. I will find the woman myself.”

“What you are doing is absolutely wrong, Valdus? You found her after

years and years of penance, and now you want to create distance. I hope that you understand your mistake.”

“My mistake is hurting her, and for the rest of my eternity, I will pay the price for it. You know how much she means to me! How can you even think that I would let this all go! Rosebud’s security is my number one priority, and nothing else comes before it.”

Valdus turned around to walk away, but the words falling from the Beta’s mouth made him stop.

“And what about her happiness?”


Rosebud took a bite of the soup and stared at her bandaged shoulders and arms. It didn’t pain as much, just a slight pinching pain. She stared at the door of the bedroom, waiting for Valdus to come. She knew he was feeling guilty, she could feel his guilt in her hurt, they shared their emotions too. The mating ceremony had brought the two of them so close.

But why wasn’t Valdus coming to meet her?

Rosebud had expected to wake up frightened for her life. But she was just

overcome with sadness. The event that took place only a few hours ago was not Valdus’ fault, he had warned her how his Beast had absolutely no control over itself. Maybe the Beast hadn’t mellowed down, and why didn’t she try to sootheand pacify him. Why did she become a flighty little bird when her soulmate was out of control?

“It isn’t your fault,”

Rosebud gasped and turned towards the doorway where Carmichael stood. He had a small smile on his lips.

“How do you know?”

“It is on your face, my Queen,” Carmichael said before bowing down to greet Rosebud.

“But I should’ve been better at handling my fright,”

“And the Alpha should’ve been better at handling his Beast. Both of you could’ve handled this situation, but there is no point living in that moment. Right? We need to learn our lesson and move on.”

“You are right.”

Carmichael’s eyes softened a bit, and he stared at Rosebud with eyes full of wisdom and understanding.

“I can see the questions in your mind, my Queen. Please don’t let them stay inside, ask away,”

“The healers were talking about the poison in the King’s claws that entered my system. I don’t understand, do all lycanthropes and wolves have this poison? The concept seems strange.”

“It is strange. And not every member of the species has the poison. In fact, our King is the only one who was born with this poison. And this poison is not just in his claws but in his fangs too. The poison runs in his blood. It can never be taken away from him. It is a blessing from the Lupus Magus.”

“Is it lethal?”
“Very, my Queen,”
“But how did I survive it?”

“You are the King’s mate, the poison will never hurt you. If you know, the poison itself is an embodiment of the King. It can grow, it can procreate, and it can live on its own. But it will always remain loyal to the King. The poison is the King. Which is why the poison had absolutely no effect on you.”

“The King indeed is a special person, isn’t he?” Rosebud smiled.

“He is. And he loves you very much, my Queen. Every part of him. His poison, his beast, his soul, his heart and his blood. They all come together. They love you very much.”

Rosebud blushed and looked down at her hands.

“What other questions do you have, my Queen?”

“Not really a question, more of a request.”

“Anything, my Queen,”

“I found myself weak and helpless, and I don’t want to feel that way anymore. I am a witch but not a good one. I want to increase my knowledge and learn the art of witchcraft. I want to be good at it. I want to study witchcraft; I may be an enchantress, but I want to be a good enchantress. An expert witch.”

“I think that is a wise decision, my Queen. It is only fair that you be good at what you are born as. I will give you some books, study them deeply. Read them once, twice, as many times as you can. Imbibe the lessons, practice it.”

“I will do that.” Rosebud looked perked up and excited.

Carmichael swirled his hand, and soon a stack of books and study materials appeared in front of her.

“These are the subjects a semester oneenchantress studies at the University ofSupernatural,”

Rosebud gasped and squealed. Carmichael smiled at her infectious happiness. The Queen was indeed a blessing in the King’s dark and sad life. He couldn’t bring himself to tell her about the King’s decision. King Valdus had to do it himself.

“How did you come to find the King?” Rosebud asked while opening a book.

“I was a professor at the University of Supernatural and part of the group that was staunchly against Mother Evanora’s practices here in the werewolf realm.” Carmichael was only speaking the half- truth, he was actually a part of the secret society created by King Valdus. “But letus keep that story for another day, why don’t you go through the books, I am sure there is a lot to study.”

“There is,” Rosebud was already distracted by books, “I hope I have the time to go through them while I am on tour.”

“I am sure, my Queen. Please take your time. There is absolutely no rush.”

Carmichael left Rosebud to her books.

“Enchanting: An art,” Rosebud read out the title of the book.

She sat back against the pillows and began reading the book with great zeal. Her mind absorbed knowledge like a sponge. Rosebud didn’t even realise the hours that passed away, by the time she raised her head from the books it was already evening. The sun was setting. It was time to get up. The Palace of Ponds was such a beautiful structure. There

were so many water bodies, all for the swimming pleasure of Queen Yael.

Rosebud got out of the bed and slipped her feet into her kitten heels. She walked out of the room, relishing the crisp and aromatic breeze that flew around her.

“I wish Tiger was here with me,” Rosebud pouted, “why did I leave him back at the Capitol?”

Rosebud explored the beautiful corridors, staring at the portraits on the walls. She even stopped to observe a few. The palace was magnificent, it was very feminine in nature yet grand and imposing. The floors were made out of

pink marbles, and the walls were a beautiful yellow colour. It was all so pretty. She walked down the staircase. The staircase opened in the centre of the palace and into a large courtyard. A large pond rested in the centre with lots of lilies floating.

Rosebud giggled and ran to the pond and sat on its edge. She dropped her hand into it and played with the water. It was cold, but she liked it.

Maybe I should play with some magic....

Rosebud closed her eyes, centred herself and clicked her finger under the water.

She opened her eyes and saw beautiful fishes bouncing in the water. A shimmering little fish leapt out of the water, wiggled in the air and plunged back into the water. A hearty giggle left her lips.

Rosebud felt a pair of eyes on her, and she turned around.

Valdus stood on the balcony, looking down at her. She couldn’t decipher the expression on his face, but she liked it. She knew his eyes were full of love, only for her.

“I am coming to you,” Rosebud whispered.

Bunching the gown in her hands, she ran back inside the palace and to the balcony where Valdus stood.

I forgive you, Valdus. Please don’t feel guilty. I love you. I am so grateful to have a soulmate like you. You are the greatest blessing the Goddess could bestow upon me. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Rosebud’s mind had already forgotten what had happened mere hours ago. She wanted to move on. She wanted to enjoy this week with him thoroughly before the royal diplomatic tour started. Rosebud climbed the stairs, as fast as her feet could take her.

She reached the floor and ran through the corridors and arrived at the balcony. Valdus’ back was towards her. Rosebud brought her hands to her chest and closed her eyes, letting her breathing go back to an average speed. Her heart was wild and mind slightly dizzy, she shouldn’t have exerted herself.

“My King,” Rosebud whispered.

Valdus’ shoulders stiffened, but he didn’t turn around.

“My King,” Rosebud called him again.

This time there was no reaction at all. He stood still. Rosebud bit her lip, hurt at his ignorance.

“My King,” Rosebud uttered his name again.

No response.

“Why are you not talking to me?” Rosebud asked, “why didn’t you come to meet me?”

The tears were already swimming in her eyes. Her heart was hammering against her chest. Rosebud took a stop into the balcony, a step closer to her soulmate.

“My King,” Rosebud’s voice was uneven now, her lip wobbling dangerously. She was trying so hard to not let the tears fall down her full cheeks. “Please talk to me, have I done something wrong?”

That made Valdus turn. His expression was horrified and aghast.

“How can you even say that?” Valdus hissed, “how can you say that you’ve done something wrong? Don’t you remember what I did? Are the wounds on your shoulders and arms, not atestimony of my actions?”

The tear slipped down her cheek.

“My Queen, I am dangerous to your existence.”

“Please don’t say that,” Rosebud stopped him, “do not blame yourself.”

“But I am because I am at fault. How can you bring it upon yourself to forgive me? I am not worthy of you and your forgiveness, my love. I am a monster, and I must stay away from you.”

“No, you are not a monster. You are a perfect man,” Rosebud tried to convince him.

Valdus let out a humourless laugh.

“Don’t be stupid, my Queen. You know what I am capable of. And if you are not, then I am sorry. I am sure Mother Evanora must have given an excellent presentation.”

“Where did Mother Evanora come from?” Rosebud cried, “I love you, my King.”

“I know,” Valdus sighed, “and I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve you, Rosebud. You are an angel and far too good for me. I promised to protect you and to do that, I have to stay away from you.”

Rosebud broke down. She felt someone behind are.

“What are you doing, Valdus?”

This was the first time Rosebud had heard Valerio address the King with his name. She turned to him.

“Beta Valerio,” Rosebud sobbed, “I don’tunderstand. Why is the King doing this to me?”

Valerio’s expression became pained.

“Valdus, please rethink your decision. I am imploring,” Valerio said, “this is not good for your relationship. You cannot leave the Queen alone. The two of you need to be one.”

“No,” Valdus stated, “my mate must be protected.”

Rosebud walked to him, standing very close to him. She took his hand in hers and brought it to her cheek, she caressed her cheek against his hand, looking at him with her teary eyes. Valdus liked to touch her cheeks, maybe this would make him change his decision. But Valdus stood like a pillar of ice, unmoving and unfeeling. His face was still and expressionless while his eyes were resolute. Rosebud gasped and stepped away from him.

“You are showing a lot of self-control now, my Lord,” Rosebud hiccupped,

“you can use this control for your beast too and then we can go back to being how we were before. Please, I beg of you.”

“My Queen, the decision has been made.Tomorrow, we are going back to the Capitol. I will resume my duties as the King, and you shall prepare for your diplomatic tour. There is nothing left to say or explain. I must atone for the grave mistake I committed. I am doing you afavour.”

“See reason,” Valerio roared, “get your mind out of the fog! For god’s sake!”

Rosebud nodded, she clutched Valdus’ shirt in her palms and stared at him.

“Please,” Rosebud cried, “there is an ache in my heart. I don’t like it.”

“Live with it,” Valdus turned his face away from her, “I must protect you.”

“I’d rather die,” Rosebud cried.

Valdus side-stepped Rosebud and walked away from them. Rosebud turned to Valerio and walked to him.

“What can I do, Beta Valerio? There has to be away!”

Valerio didn’t say anything for a moment.

“Give it some time, my Queen. A true Alpha cannot stay away from his mate for long. And Alpha Valdus is the truest of all. Trust me, you will soon see him finding ways to get close to you.”

There was a mischievous grin on Valerio’s face now.

“Now, tell me about this betrothed of yours,” Valerio asked.

Rosebud sniffed and narrowed her eyes at him before sighing and sitting down. Valerio sat beside her.

“I don’t know anything about him, but I do know that Mother Evanora had set me up with someone. She must have a record of it somewhere in her office,” Rosebud whispered, “I remember being morose about it but I am so lucky, I am grateful that I am with my intended.”

Valerio nodded.

“The moment you leave the Capitol, Valdus is going to search the Moon Goddess’ temple. He is going to go through every nook and crevice.”

“The King will find a lot of things there, especially the prophecy that he is looking for.”

Valerio’s eyes widened. “You know,”

“Every word of it, Mother Evanora told me the prophecy just moments before King Magnar conquered the temple.”

“My Queen, we must tell the King about it.”

“No,” Rosebud pouted, “I am upset. Let him go through the efforts, let him tire himself out. He deserves all of that.”

Valerio grinned, his eyes softening.

“Alright,” Valerio relented, “but can you tell me the prophecy, I promise to keep it to myself.”

Rosebud bit her lip before nodding.

“The prophecy states: When the Evil threatens the realm of wolves and lycanthropes. A soul-mate to the Evil will be born. She would be a bane for his anger and his violence. She will be pure as the lilies and sweet as its nectar.

Her beauty will be the subject of many poems. Her heart will be big and made of gold. She would be dewy-eyed, guileless and unworldly. She would turn the Evil into good. But it will be a journey of pain and violence. Every Rose has Thorns, and every Wolf has Fangs. The Innocent will be blessed by the Moon herself, and the Evil will be blessed by the powers of the devil, the Lupus Magus. This is it. This is what it states.”

Valerio was quiet for a moment. His brows furrowed.

“This does not make any sense.”

“I know because the King is not evil,” Rosebud whispered.

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