I knocked on Rosebud's door. She didn't answer so I walked in. She was sitting at the vanity, staring at her reflection with dull eyes. I closed the door gently behind me.
She turned her eyes to me. "Princess Angel," she said. "It is good to see you. How may I assist you today? Another dangerous journey?"
"William is concerned for you," I said.
Rosebud stood and walked to her window. It overlooked the front and, in the distance, she could see the clan.
"Yes, I'm sure he is."
"Why won't you see him?"
"I am pregnant with his child."
I sighed. "I thought that was the case." I sat down on the bed and she sat beside me stiffly. "Why hide it from him?"
"Such a thing has never happened before," she answered. She put her hands on her stomach. "I don't even know if the baby will live."
"Why wouldn't it live?"
"It is half wolf," she whispered, "but it is also part elf and part nymph. These three races have never merged."
"So it would be the first of its kind."
"And most likely the last."
"You must tell him, Rosebud," I said. "He needs to know."
She bit her lip. "What if it angers him?"
"Why would it anger him?"
"He didn't ask me to get pregnant," she answered, wiping tears from her face. "What if he doesn't want a child with me?"
I smiled a little. "Oh, Rosebud. These are doubts every woman has."
"How do you know?" she asked a little harshly.
"My mother told me," I whispered. "Shortly after I learned of my infertility, I asked her what it was like to be pregnant. I just wanted to know what I was going to miss out on." I stood and held my hand out to her. "Come with me. We're going to speak with William."
She looked fearful. "I don't want to."
I arched a brow. "My husband is your master. I can have him order you."
"You wouldn't," she challenged.
I stared and then poked my head out. "Summon my husband, please."
"Angel!" she cried, hurrying over. "You can't tell him!"
"Because then he will surely make me tell William!"
She was crying in desperation. I sighed just as David arrived.
"We have a story to tell you, Rosebud," I said. "One that will make you see that you must speak with William."
An hour later, we were walking down to the clan. I was holding onto Rosebud's arm. She was shaking in fear. After we told her of the secrets David and I were hiding from each other and how it almost destroyed us, she finally agreed to talk to him. David went ahead of us to get William. When he saw Rosebud, he hurried over and took her hands.
"I've been so worried about you!" he said. He frowned and touched her cheek. "You look pale. Are you ill?"
"There's something I have been hiding from you," she whispered and looked at me. I nodded in encouragement. "William... I am pregnant."
William's jaw dropped and he looked at her stomach. He reached out to it slowly. Rosebud looked absolutely terrified. She jumped when he pressed his palm to it. David held my hand.
"I'm sorry," Rosebud said and he frowned.
"Why do you apologize, my love?" he asked.
"Our child... it will not be like others." She turned her face away. It was strange seeing Rosebud so vulnerable. "I will understand if you wish to send us away."
William looked at her as if she had lost her sanity. He made her look at him and kissed her gently. I leaned into David, smiling at the scene.
"I don't want you to leave," he said. "I want you to stay so we can raise our child together."
Her eyes widened. "You mean... you are not angry? You do not wish to kill it?"
He laughed a little. "Oh, my Rose. Is this why you have been avoiding me?"
She nodded and he hugged her. David pulled me away and I followed him back up to the palace.
"What do you think of this pregnancy?" Angel asked as we walked.
"I think it's wonderful," I said honestly. "I didn't know such a thing was possible."
"She didn't either. She's so terrified."
"I wasn't expecting that to be the reason she was avoiding him."
"I did. It's not uncommon for a woman to be afraid when in such vulnerable situations." She sighed sadly. "I wish we could experience this."
I took her to our bedchamber and closed the door behind us. I kissed her gently at first, but it quickly became something more. She held herself to my chest. I could taste her tears on my tongue and I pushed her gently against the wall. I ran my hand up her stomach, lingering under her breasts, unsure how far she wanted this to go.
She took my left hand and pulled it up. I moaned quietly into her mouth and she ran a hand up my shirt. I shivered at her soft touch. For a moment, we both held back. It was Angel who took over this time, though, and pulled her dress off.
"I can't walk to the bed," I panted. "You have taken my cane."
She smiled at me, her eyes glinting. "Who said we had to go to the bed?"
I was shocked at her boldness as she pulled my lips to hers.
A few days later, Tiberius and Christina announced their engagement. I was excited for my friends and we had a special celebration. Sally was ecstatic when she learned what that meant. I wondered if they would have a child of their own.
As we drank to their future, a messenger came in and passed me a scroll. I opened it and sighed.
"Tiberius, my Sword," I said and he tied it on my hip.
"Do you want me to come with you?" he asked and I shook my head.
"Stay here and celebrate. Angel, I can't stop you from coming but the news is... unpleasant."
Angel frowned but quickly stood to follow me.
"What is it, David?" she asked as I limped as fast as I could.
"Adam," I said simply. "He is causing trouble. I don't want to do this, Angel," I sighed as we got closer to the clan. "There's been so much death already."
She gripped my hand tightly. "You must do what is right. What is he doing?"
The answer came with the sounds of snarling and Rosebud's screaming. Angel ran to Rosebud and I pushed through the wolves. Once again, Adam was in his wolf form. William wasn't, though. He had his hands up.
"I was given orders not to fight you," he was saying to Adam. "I will obey my alpha."
I stepped into the circle and Adam turned to me as I drew my Sword. He stared at it.
"Turn back to a man," I said, "or I will fight, and kill you, as a wolf."
William's eyes widened as I tossed my cane. Adam snarled at me. My stomach twisted at the thought of what I was about to do. I couldn't have him doing this any longer, though. It was too dangerous.
Adam and I stared at each other for a long time.
I choose to die as a beast!
I didn't know we could communicate like that but I didn't have time to ponder about it. Adam was running at me. I raised my sword and sung, chopping off his front right leg. He roared in pain. Around us, the wolves were yelling again, this time in my favor. I stared at the rogue wolf in front of me sadly.
"I don't want to do this, Adam," I said. "Don't make me do this."
He ran at me, though, and with regret, I swung the sword horizontally, beheading him.
Silence fell as thick as a blanket. Rosebud ran to William.
"Are you injured?" she cried.
"No, my love, I'm not," he said sadly, giving me my cane back.
"Give your respects," I said quietly, "then burn his body." I turned to them all. "Let this be a lesson for you. I will not tolerate those who do not obey. If you choose to go rogue, this is the consequence. It pained me to have to do this but I must do what is right."
They lifted their voices in a howl for their fallen brother. A couple wolves started a bonfire while two more dragged Adam's body to it. I watched sadly as it burned. Angel was shaking beside me and I put my arm around her waist.
"I'm sorry you had to see that," I said but she shook her head.
The wolves then got on their knees and saluted me. I returned the salute.
"What started the fight?" I asked William.
"I announced the pregnancy," he answered.
I nodded. "Regroup your brothers and sisters," I said. "I must go back to the castle and make a note of what has happened."
"Yes, my alpha."
I didn't go to the castle right away, though. I went around to the barn. I sat down heavily and stared at the targets. Angel sighed and sat on my lap. She kissed my temple.
"You did the right thing," she whispered. "He had gone rogue."
"I'm so tired of death, Angel," I said wearily.
"As am I. Perhaps, now that the problems are gone, things will go back to normal."
I rested my chin on her shoulder. "I do hope you're right, my love."
She smiled and kissed me. "I'm always right," she teased.