After the royal army's departure, rumors flew around the castle, each new more outrageous than the previous one. No one knew the location of the king's army, but there were many speculations of fighting in the mountains.
Bonnie barely slept. She missed her husband. The bed was too big and cold without him to keep her warm. She often grabbed his pillow, sniffing his lingering scent and hugging it tightly to her chest-as if she could somehow replicate his presence. She worried constantly over Nik's safety. She knew Nik was strong and brave but they were at war and no one could truly predict the outcome no matter how confident or large the Mikaelson army was. The only thing that helped to keep Bonnie calm was the fact that thanks to the pendant she made for him, she was certain her husband was alive and well.
But he could still get hurt.
What if he doesn't return?
Those treacherous thoughts always got to her as she laid in bed. They had been married a short time but Bonnie had grown used to her husband's body keeping her warm at night. She missed his sensual touch and passionate kisses and the talks they had as they laid naked in their bed. She spent many nights pacing in her chambers, recalling those sweet moment she shared with Nik before his departure. The memories of their passionate nights helped to ease the pain of missing him.
Bonnie also spent many waking hours by the large oak tree with blood red leaves; staring at the ancient tree brought a strange kind of peace. Whenever her fears got the best of her, she found herself walking towards the white oak, contemplating its beautiful leaves; it helped ease all her worries. When she wasn't worrying or spending time with her good sisters or with Henrik in the training yard, Bonnie attended court. Apart from the royal family, only a handful of nobles attended (those living inside the castle's walls) as the king had ordered the gates to be closed for safety.
Elijah looked every inch a king as he listened to endless petitions and reports. His mother stood by his side, always listening, giving her opinion, and at times, she even dared to question his decisions. Queen Esther made sure everyone knew she was the queen. Elijah was a gentleman and even though there were times Bonnie could see how annoyed he was by the queen's intrusion, he never made it known publicly. He was a skilled diplomat, who knew better than to let others see any discord among the royal family.
"She's insufferable!" Katherine complained every time she joined Bonnie in the throne room. "I have told him time and time again, not to let her have a say but he's too kind." Her hands bawled into fists as she glared at the queen. "It does not look good when his mother questions his decisions publicly."
Bonnie had to agree. Her good brother definitely looked the part but he lacked the ruthlessness King Mikael possessed. And unlike the king, Elijah was far gentler and respectful towards the queen.
One particular day, the tension between mother and son became obvious to the people outside their family.
It started with an elderly lord who got on his knees in front of Elijah.
"Lord Royce," Elijah greeted neutrally.
"What is he doing here?" Katherine wondered out loud.
"Who is he?" Bonnie questioned, feeling intrigued by the many murmurs and hateful looks the old man received. He seemed to be well known at court.
"He was a sellsword," Freya was the one to fill her in. "He's employed by the Forbes family now."
Forbes...the name sounded familiar to Bonnie. She watched the white haired, wrinkled man cleared his throat before addressing Elijah politely. "My prince," Lord Royce began. "I have been sent by my Lady Forbes to inquire about her daughter, the Lady Caroline Lockwood."
The murmurs grew louder, someone in the back shouted angrily while many ladies gasped. Everyone knew that after Tyler's arrest, his wife had been locked in one of the towers.
The traitor's wife!
She's a prisoner now.
She should rot in the dungeons.
She probably helped her husband plot against the king.
The voices mixed together but the tension was palpable.
Elijah's expression did not betray his feelings on the matter.
"Lady Forbes wishes for me to see the Lady Caroline and her child and report back on their good health." The old man did not have to say it but the threat was implicit. Caroline's family wanted her safe.
"Lady Caroline and her daughter are well," Elijah said in an even voice.
"You may not see them," Queen Esther decided on her own. "She's a prisoner."
Katherine groaned. "Don't let her speak for you, Elijah." She stared at her husband, wishing that he would heed her advice.
Bonnie watched Elijah carefully. He gave his mother a look, clearly feeling displeased by her meddling but he did not utter a word.
People were whispering and watching the exchange with curious eyes.
Isn't prince Elijah in charge?
Why is he letting the queen decide?
Lord Royce looked directly at the queen. "And what charges have been brought against her?"
"She is the wife of a traitor!" Esther hissed.
"She is a dutiful wife," Lord Royce barked back. "An innocent lady held against her will. She should not pay for her husband's sins and neither should her child."
The queen laughed at that.
"Innocent," Sage who was close to Bonnie and Katherine scoffed. "She's never been innocent, she's a whore."
Judging by the way other people reacted, many of them shared Sage's opinion.
"What else would her family claim?" The queen retorted.
"If you would allow me to see her," Lord Royce pleaded. "Her mother wishes to know she is well, that her accommodations are acceptable for a lady of her station."
"You can be assured that Lady Caroline and her daughter are treated well," Elijah told the man.
"My prince," Lord Royce turned to Elijah then. "I beg you, allow me to see with my own eyes that she and the child are well."
"You don't trust the word of your prince?" Someone shouted from the back of the room.
More murmurs and whispers followed.
"Caroline and her child are to stay here for as long as it pleases the crown," Esther decided.
"But your Grace-" Lord Royce protested. "The Forbes clan is loyal to the king and his family. All my Lady Forbes wishes for is for her daughter's safety, if you could at least let me see them-"
"Petition denied," the queen cut the old man off.
All eyes turned to Elijah who was acting as regent on behalf of the king.
Bonnie felt sorry for Elijah, she could see how angry he was. Elijah clearly didn't like his mother intervening in such manner but he kept his calm. The queen hadn't allowed him to decide on the matter on his own, people had seen that. If he denied her now, things would escalate and the gossip would be unbearable.
"Petition denied," Elijah agreed after sharing a tense look with his mother.
The older man had no choice but to bow down and leave the room.
"Mother," Elijah stood up, signaling to everybody that court was dismissed. "A word, please."
Esther followed him out of the throne room, a smirk dancing on her lips.
Katherine growled in frustration. "He should have made the decision not her!"
"He couldn't go against mother's decision," Freya defended her brother's actions. "Not in front of the court. It wouldn't reflect well on him."
"The king would have never allowed her to speak out of turn," Katherine huffed.
"No," Bonnie agreed. "But Elijah is not king Mikael." As she looked at the ladies and lords making their way out of the throne room, Bonnie's eyes landed on Lord Royce, he was speaking with two other men and judging by the redness in his face, the discussion was not going well. She couldn't help but wonder how Caroline was doing since she was imprisoned.
Walking through the camp with the harsh wind splitting his face open, the soldier that accompanied him let out a string of curses. Their camp was near a lake-now frozen- and the small fires scattered about did nothing to keep the cold away. Nik's boots sank into the mud, his cloak billowed around him, and his hair blew over his face. His cheeks were pink from the bitter wind and his lips were chapped.
The women following the army were passing ale, meat, and vegetable soup to the soldiers. The camp followers did the washing, the cooking, and entertained the men after a long journey of riding. The particular trek towards the lake had been harsh and plenty of the men where seeking the warmth and comfort of the camp whores.
The soldier following after him, groaned when he saw a pretty dark-haired girl exposing her teats and enticing the men to come inside her tent. The girl paid him no mind, batting her eyelashes at the prince who ignored her and headed straight for the king's tent which was set right in the middle of the camp. He welcomed the warmth as he stepped inside, heading straight for the fire; even with gloves, his fingers felt like ice.
As the frost on his hair and cheeks melted away, a servant poured him wine while another offered some food which Nik declined.
The king, his generals, and a few lords who commanded their own small armies gathered around a long wooden table.
"They want to drag us into the open field," Lord Garland muttered angrily. "That way they'll attack and surround us on all sides."
"Pigs to the slaughter," another Lord agreed.
The king took a long sip of his wine. So far, there had been a few skirmishes. Lord Lockwood's strategy was to attack with a few men before retreating to the mountains. He still hadn't used his full army and that angered Mikael terribly.
"Our army is bigger and stronger," Lord Fell stated proudly. "If he wasn't hiding in the mountains, we would have crushed them already."
"He must be waiting for something," Nik murmured as he joined the group. All eyes focused on him. When the prince spoke, everyone listened, for he commanded the same respect as his father. "Allies perhaps…" his eyes glanced at the map.
"Our scouts have not seen any armies approaching the mountains," Lord Garland pointed out. "Who could he be waiting for?"
"Plenty of lords have refused the call to war," a red face fat lord retorted angrily. "They are bidding their time before joining Richard's forces."
"The Salvatore family," someone shouted from the other end of the table.
"We don't need them," another general responded.
"We need to force them out of their hiding hole," the king stated. "I grow tired of this waiting game."
"We could sent a small army-"
"The mountains are treacherous, even for us wolves," Lord Fell looked at the king as he spoke.
"It would be difficult to send our forces without alerting the enemy," another lord pointed out.
"So, how do you propose we drag Richard into the open?" The king hissed."I won't stand for any more of his games." He looked at his son, wondering what he thought.
"We could use his son to bait him out," one general suggested.
"Would he come for his son?" someone questioned.
"Wouldn't you?" Lord Garland challenged. "We can dangle that traitor for the Lockwood army to see, no father would stand by and watch his son be hurt or threatened." He nodded his head, liking the plan more and more. "Tyler is Richard's favorite or so they say."
"He has another son," lord Fell pointed out. "Mason."
All eyes once again fell on Nik.
"Richard has never been a caring father, he hasn't asked about his son, he hasn't even made any demands for his release…" he shook his head. "Tyler could be useful but not yet."
"What do you propose, my prince?" Lord Garland wondered.
"What if we fool him into thinking we're retreating?" Nik said."Give him a false sense of security. We can do what they are doing, hiding and waiting for the right opportunity to strike but we will do it on our terms."
"It could work," the king muttered, studying the map. "Beat them at their own game," he smirked. "I quite like the sound of that."
"Princess." Lady Caroline and the lady accompanying her, bowed their heads when Bonnie entered the room. In the corner, another lady sat with a little girl with golden curls and cherub cheeks. Upon feeling Bonnie's eyes on her, the lady stood up quickly and made a deep curtsy. The little girl followed with a rather graceful curtsy of her own. She was beautiful with big bright blue eyes and a sweet smile. She looked a lot like Caroline, there was no trace of her Tyler in her.
"Lady Caroline," Bonnie greeted while her eyes moved around the room. It was cold. There were hardly any logs in the dwindling fire. She looked over her shoulder and nodded towards the servants standing outside the door.
Caroline's eyes went wide when she saw the servants stepping inside her little tower room, they brought clean sheets, trays filled with food, logs for the fire, and rich colorful tapestries to adorn the wall and keep the cold winds at bay. "What…" she turned to Bonnie, mouth wide open.
"I thought these might give you some comfort during this difficult time," Bonnie said.
Caroline's eyes filled with tears. "Thank-you," she curtsied once more. "But the King-" her voice broke as she rose to her feet.
The uncertainty, the fear Caroline felt hit Bonnie like a knife. Her witch instincts could easily perceive Caroline's anguish. "The king has left with his army," Bonnie said, studying Caroline's reaction.
Caroline gasped and placed a shaky hand against a near table. The other hand, she placed over her stomach. She looked into Bonnie's face with fearful eyes. "I didn't know…I assumed." She grew pale. "War, just like they…" she stopped abruptly.
"Let's sit." Bonnie pointed at the nearby chair. "Davina," she turned to her lady. "Would you give the Lady Caroline a cup of wine?"
Davina did as she was told before turning to the servants and instructing them to start serving the food.
Bonnie and Caroline sat across from each other, Bonnie noticed how thin and sickly Caroline looked. She clearly hadn't slept or eaten well in a while. Her eyes went to the little girl in the corner who was delightfully eating the bread and cheese Bonnie had brought for them. The days in captivity had taken a toll on Caroline but her daughter seemed fine.
"Look mama!" The little girl grinned with delight. "An orange!"
She was an enchanting creature just like her mother, Bonnie thought.
"At home we have an orchard," Caroline explained. "Lizzie loves picking fruit."
"Elizabeth after my mother," there was a fond smile on Caroline's face. Her love for her mother shone through.
"You both must miss home terribly."
"Not really." Caroline's face turned sour. "My mother's home no doubt, the Lockwood estate…" she trailed off.
Bonnie waited for her to elaborate.
"If we weren't locked inside this tower, without knowing what fate awaits us, I might be happier…" she cut herself off and studied Bonnie's face carefully. Can I trust you? those sad eyes seemed to say.
As she stared into Caroline's eyes, Bonnie probed with her magic. Emily would consider it rude, Lucy would advise to read Caroline's mind like an open book while her grandmother would caution her to be careful. Do not abuse your powers, child. Bonnie merely wanted to know Caroline better, to see beyond the court gossip and intrigues. Fear, that was the emotion Bonnie felt the most. Caroline was scared not for herself but for her child. Bonnie felt pity for the poor woman and innocent little girl caught in this mess.
"I was at court before."
Caroline's murmur drew Bonnie's attention once again.
"Father thought it best, so I could make an advantageous marriage. I had so many suitors..." she smiled sadly. "For a young impressionable girl having so much attention can get to your head..." She swallowed hard. "I'm sure you have heard the rumors."
Bonnie nodded. She had heard things from Sage and Katherine, she had even heard the servants whisper about Caroline's reputation. The jealousy she had once felt towards Caroline was now replaced by an intense curiosity. "You had the attention of every man at court," she said carefully. "Even the royal princes..."
Caroline laughed. "I was flattered but the attention got to my head," her voice was filled with regret. "Some vicious gossipers said I was a mistress to all of them, even to the king." She shook her head. "It's a lie! I have never lain with any of them."
She was telling the truth, Bonnie's magic told her so.
"Most of the things they say about me are not true," Caroline stated. "I did enjoy the attention of men at court. Having so many suitors made me feel like I could do anything, get anything I wanted. Most of the Lords that courted me were kind but there were some who had ulterior motives…" A shadow passed over her features. "I regret it terribly."
Bonnie couldn't help but wonder which things were true. She wanted to ask but waited for Caroline to open up on her own accord.
"I was foolish, and I paid the price for it." She stared at her hands, fingers playing with the ring on her finger. "And now I'm paying for my husband's sins." There were tears in her eyes as she contemplated Bonnie. "They don't tell me anything…" she complained. "They placed us under lock and key and told me my husband had been arrested but they won't even let me write to my mother. I didn't even know the king had gone to war. My husband is he-" she didn't dare finish the question.
"He lives," Caroline repeated in a whisper.
Bonnie gave her a curious look. She seemed upset by the news.
"His hatred of the royal family knows no bounds but I never thought he would attempt to kill Prince Elijah during he tourney."
"It was very foolish of him," Bonnie commented.
Caroline's eyes flashed suddenly. "No, not foolish. Impulsive," she hissed. "He is always quick to anger…" the shadows returned to her face. "He never thinks before he acts. His anger always gets the best of him."
"The king ordered his father to present himself at court, but Lord Lockwood raised an army instead."
Caroline did not look surprised by that. "It's the opportunity they've been waiting for," she spat angrily. "They want the throne."
"Did you know-"
Caroline shook her head vigorously. She looked over her shoulder and chewed on her bottom lip. She glanced at Bonnie nervously. She was afraid to speak, Bonnie realized. "Leave us."
The servants bowed their heads and left the room.
Davina lingered by the door, uncertain.
"Could you keep Lady Elizabeth company, Davina?"
"Yes, princess." Davina got down on the floor next to the little girl and began talking to her quietly.
Bonnie whispered a silencing spell around herself and Caroline. "You may speak freely. Davina won't betray my trust, but I placed a silencing spell around us just in case."
Caroline frowned. "A spell?" her eyes lit up suddenly. "You're a witch, of course you know spells!" she exclaimed. "Silly me, I forgot…"
"It's quite alright."
"I knew Tyler and his father were plotting something," Caroline confessed in a hurried murmur. "I wasn't sure what…" she paused. "But they met frequently. Tyler also met with other people, other lords I think."
"But he never shared anything with you?"
"He hardly speaks to me sometimes." She stared into Bonnie's eyes pleadingly. "Are they going to use us for ransom?" she asked.
"My mother doesn't have any money or profitable lands and Lord Lockwood, Richard- he doesn't care for us, he won't pay you any ransom."
"You're his son's wife, and your daughter-"
"It's a girl," Caroline muttered angrily. "In his eyes, she is worth less than a bastard." She stood up and made her way towards the small window. "He's cruel and determined to overthrow the king." She glanced at Bonnie once more. "The fool actually thinks he has a chance at winning the crown for himself. He's arrogant and has always filled Tyler's head with grandeur. They're both fools, Tyler more so than his father."
Bonnie agreed with her on that.
"Do you know what they plan to do with us?" Caroline asked worriedly.
"No." Caroline's fate and her daughter's were in the king's hands. Even if Bonnie wanted to help her, she couldn't set them free. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be," Caroline sat down once more. "You have shown me more kindness than most."
"You have suffered quite a lot, haven't you?"
"Don't we all?" she asked in a cracked voice.
"Caroline-" Bonnie began.
"I have no love for my husband," Caroline interrupted. "I married him because I had to, my father forced me to, you see." She took a deep breath before continuing. "Our family is noble, but we are not rich, if anything my father left my poor mother drowning in debts after he died. Debts my husband paid, not because he wanted to but because he didn't want it to reflect badly on him. He treats me like one of his horses, a pretty possession for him to own, and use for his pleasure." Tears were streaming down her face now. "The only comfort I have is my daughter." She glanced at the little girl happily playing with Davina. "If I didn't have her, I would have thrown myself from the highest window and-" she clasped a hand over her mouth and looked down at her lap, ashamed for having said such words.
Bonnie got the impression that Caroline had not been allowed to speak with such candor in a very long time.
"She is my only joy," Caroline said after composing herself. "She is innocent, she doesn't deserve this. Please, I-" she got down on her knees right in front of Bonnie.
"Caroline, please don't-"
"I will do anything!" Caroline stated. "Anything you ask of me, but please don't let my child suffer for Tyler's actions. If you want to punish me, I can take it but please, not Lizzie."
"Don't do that," Bonnie helped her to her feet. "You don't have to-"
"You're a woman, you understand how difficult our choices are," Caroline murmured. "Please, if there is anything you can do-"
"I cannot make any promises," Bonnie told her gently. "But I will do my best to help you and your child."
"Thank-you." Caroline threw her arms around her.
Bonnie was surprised by the gesture, but she found herself hugging her back.
Caroline pulled away quickly. "I'm sorry, princess." She bowed once more. "I did not mean to offend you."
"It's alright," Bonnie assured her. "There is no need to apologize." She smiled.
Caroline smiled back. "There is something you should know," she said in a low voice. "Tyler never shared any of his plans but there were nights when he was deep in his cups and he came to my bed-" a shudder passed through her at the memory of those horrible nights. "He would talk, most of the time it made no sense to me but there were a few nights when he alluded to a traitor close to the royal family."
Bonnie felt her blood turn to ice.
"Someone very powerful. Someone who could protect him and his father if things went wrong, he never mentioned names but…" Caroline grabbed Bonnie's hands in hers. "Prince Klaus is my friend, he was one of the few people who didn't turn his back on me after my foolishness at court, he and Prince Elijah showed me kindness, just like you…" she squeezed Bonnie's fingers. "Be careful, if what Tyler said is true, there is a traitor at the heart of the royal family. Be very careful princess."
"I will," Bonnie said.
"There has not been much fighting, your Grace." The soldier looked nervously around the queen's chambers. He was not supposed to be here. "Skirmishes here and there, nothing more." If someone were to find out that he went straight to the queen's chamber rather to the regent, he would be in deep trouble.
"Not much, your Grace. Dozen or so men injured, a few dead but nothing tragic." He stood still, hands at his sides, hazel eyes darting around the room. He hoped she would dismiss him soon.
"My son…" the queen wondered. "Finn, is he in the front lines?"
"I don't think so, your Grace."
"Do you know anything useful?" she snapped.
The soldier looked down. "I'm not supposed to be here," he muttered. "I was told to speak with the regent directly."
"I am the queen!" Esther hissed. "I'm the highest authority in the land."
The soldier kept his head down.
"What else are you supposed to tell the regent?" Queen Esther demanded.
"Your Grace, please. The message I am to deliver is for Prince Elijah only," the soldier responded quietly. "The king-"
"It's not here," Esther retorted. "Nor is he going to find out that you informed me first."
The solder swallowed. "But, your Grace-"
"Do you wish to be thrown in the dungeon with the traitor?"
The soldier shook his head.
"Speak then, my patience is running thin."
The defeated soldier sighed. "The king wants to stop any trading with the Lockwoods. No grain is to pass through their lands. Any merchants selling anything to their lands are to be punished too."
"He wants to starve them," Esther murmured. "So, the peasants will turn against Richard and his family." It was a good plan. It could create revolts in the Lockwood's territory. If the people were not happy, they would turn on their liege lord. She doubted it would be enough to stop Richard's ambitions but it would certainly give him a big headache. "What else?"
"He wants reports on everything. He also told me to tell the regent to ensure Lord Tyler's life. He wants him to suffer but he doesn't want him dead."
"Any letters?" Esther asked.
"Prince Finn sent you this," the soldier handed a letter to the queen, sealed with Finn's personal emblem. "He sent another letter to his wife."
"Give it to me?"
"But your Grace-"
"Give me all the letters you have with you," Esther hissed. "I won't ask you again," she added when the soldier did not move.
The murderous look in her eyes and her words were enough to scare him. The soldier reluctantly handed her the letters he carried in his satchel.
"You may go now and remember; we did not speak at all."
"But the letters-"
"I will make sure they are received as intended."
The soldier was ready to protest.
The solder scurried out of the room, legs shaking.
Esther looked at the letters. Kol had sent letters to his sisters and Niklaus had sent one to Bonnie, she ripped it open and read the words quickly, rolling her eyes. Niklaus was clearly infatuated with his bride. I know it hasn't been that long, but I wonder if I left you with child? The color drained from her face as she read the words. The thought of Niklaus having a child…a son, with that stupid girl set her blood on fire. She had been so focused on the war, on securing Finn's crown, she hadn't given much thought to that insipid girl. She will have difficulty conceiving, Esther thought. Witches and Wolves don't mix. She might even be barren like Sage. But what if she's not? What if she has a son?
She threw all the letter into the fire. Her entire body was trembling as she stared at the flames. "I cannot allow it," Esther murmured. That girl could not bear Niklaus a son. It would ruin everything if she did. Esther was so lost in thought; she didn't hear the door opening.
"My queen," her lady made a deep curtsy.
"What do you want?" Esther snarled.
"The witch princess…." The lady in waiting replied. "I thought you would like to know that she visited the traitor's wife. She brought her food and toys for her daughter."
"What?" Esther's eyes grew murderous.
"She spent a lot of time with Lady Caroline," the lady in waiting confirmed. "Many servants saw her there."
Esther growled and stormed out of her bedchamber.
After visiting Caroline in the tower, Bonnie retired to her chambers; Caroline's warning still in her ears. Davina had her meal brought up to her chambers but as soon as the servants deposited the plates over the table, Bonnie made a face. The smell of roasted pork that would once made her mouth water, now made her nauseous. Not even the potatoes look appealing to her.
"Are you alright, princess?" Davina asked with concern.
"Yes…" Bonnie's voice lacked conviction. She pushed the plate away and tried her best to stop the bile rising in her throat.
"Would you prefer some fruit, princess?" A servant asked.
Bonnie shook her head and placed a hand over her mouth.
"Wine?" the servant insisted.
"Water is best, I think." Davina hurried to fill a cup with water.
Bonnie gave her a grateful smile and took the offered cup, drinking the fresh liquid slowly. Her troubling stomach seemed to calm a bit. "Thank-you."
The doors to her chamber slammed open, causing one of the servant girls to shriek.
The queen strode in, looking every inch a she-wolf; unforgiving eyes settling on Bonnie who quickly pulled herself to her feet. "Who gave you permission to visit Lady Lockwood?" Esther demanded.
The rage boiling inside Esther was as hot as a blacksmith's forge. For someone who could perceive other's feelings, it was a blow to the stomach. The wolf inside Esther wanted to kill, to tear Bonnie's flesh apart with its sharp teeth.
"You gave her food, furs, even toys for her pup," the queen continued furiously. She came to stand right in Bonnie's breathing space. "Do you realize the crime you just committed?"
Bonnie arched an eyebrow. "Crime?" she repeated as she steeled herself. She felt dizzy but she would not show any weakness in front of her good mother. "I did not know kindness was considered a crime."
The queen's eyes narrowed. "The Lockwoods are the enemy."
Bonnie didn't need to be reminded of that. "Lady Caroline had nothing to do with Tyler's plan, she did not know-"
The queen laughed. "You stupid girl, did you honestly expect that traitor to tell you the truth?"
"She was telling the truth," Bonnie insisted. As a witch, she would have known if Caroline had lied to her face.
"What else did she tell you?"
There is a traitor at the heart of the royal family.
Caroline's words haunted Bonnie still as did Nik's own warning.
Don't trust my mother.
Bonnie locked eyes with the queen, wondering why Esther was so interested in her conversation with Caroline. Why did she care? Did she think Caroline was planning to escape? Or was there something else?
She was tempted to pry with her magic but the dizziness was making her sick. She chose her words carefully instead. "We spoke about her daughter, about her fears," Bonnie said calmly. "She doesn't think Tyler's father will pay any ransom for her and her child."
"Of course, he won't." The queen looked down at Bonnie as if she were a bug that needed to be crushed. She was taller and could easily have intimidated the younger woman, but Bonnie stood her ground, defiantly holding the queen's gaze. "Caroline and her bastard are our hostages," Esther spat. "You are forbidden from seeing her again or helping her in any way."
"Even if they are hostages," Bonnie retorted. "They should still be treated with dignity." Caroline was a victim of circumstances and so was her child, they did not deserve to pay for Tyler's mistakes.
"You are not to see her again, you are not to speak to her ever again, I forbid it."
"Why?" Bonnie honestly couldn't understand why the queen was so against her talking to Caroline. "There is no harm-"
"I'm your queen and you will do as I command," Esther hissed. "Or do I need to lock you up, so you can understand your place?"
Bonnie felt furious and she had a handful of biting retorts at the tip of her tongue, but she forced herself to keep quiet. With the King and Nik away, she knew better than to provoke Esther. Something deep inside her told her to back down for now. "I understand, your Grace." She lowered her eyes and bowed her head. As a witch, Bonnie knew that she could defend herself against the queen, but she was also smart enough to realize that there were certain battles that needed to be won not by magic or defiance but with her mind. When she met the queen's eyes once more, Bonnie's face was a blank canvas.
Esther looked her up and down, trying to read her thoughts. Bonnie gave nothing away. Esther gave her one last angry look before leaving the room.
Bonnie placed one hand over the table, her body swaying. The anger she felt, coupled with the nausea and the dizziness of earlier was too much.
"Princess," Davina grabbed her arm, supporting her. "You look pale."
"I…" Bonnie pushed Davina away and grabbed the nearest bowl. She couldn't keep it down any longer.
Davina pulled her hair back and rubbed her back while Bonnie emptied her stomach.
Later that night
"Come to bed my love," Katherine murmured as she leaned down to wrap her arms around his neck. "The hour grows late."
Elijah dropped the quill and leaned back against her, a soft smile on his lips. "I must finish these reports for father," he protested. There were countless rolls of parchments scattered over his desk.
Katherine sighed. "You need to rest." Many days had passed since the tourney but she still worried for his health, more so now that he had such responsibility upon his shoulders.
"I'm much better." Bonnie's potion had done its work perfectly. Elijah felt better than ever. He was tried yes, but that was more to do with what had been thrust upon him.
"You wake before the sun rises and hardly rest at night, if you're not with the council, you are constantly writing and reading and-"
"I must do my duty, Katherine."
Katherine pouted. "Many times I hoped you would be king but seeing all the labor you must endure, I'm glad it's only temporary," she admitted.
A frown crossed his features. "Do you not think me capable?"
The way he said it made Katherine pause. She pulled away from him.
Elijah turned to his side, so he could stare into her pretty face, which seemed to be glowing with the candlelight.
"I didn't say that." Katherine could see that there was something troubling him. He was trying to hide it, Elijah was good at masking his feelings, but Katherine had learned to read him like a book by now. "Tell me darling, what troubles you?"
Elijah looked away. "It's difficult to be in charge when another wears the crown, and one does not even have the power of being the heir." His jaw clenched.
There was a sharp intake of breath from Katherine.
"Forgive me, I didn't mean-"
"I know." Katherine understood what he meant. Her husband wasn't accusing her of failing to prove him with a son, he was simply stating that in the eyes of their people he wasn't considered a strong candidate for the succession given his lack of male heirs which made his job as the regent harder.
"Sometimes I feel like the council is just amusing me," Elijah continued. "I don't inspire the same reverence, let alone the same fear as the king. I wasn't even able to prove myself during the tourney…" he almost seemed ashamed to admit his failings.
Unlike Niklaus, Katherine thought. Elijah didn't need to voice his brother's name; she knew that as much as Elijah loved his younger brother there was a bit of envy there. Niklaus had after all proven himself as a fierce warrior. People saw him defend his brother and his king during the tourney and now that he was at war, fighting for their throne, he was loved even more by the peasants and high born alike. That admiration was something no other son of the king had. "Elijah…" Katherine whispered while gently tracing his cheek. "A king should be loved, nor feared."
"A true king should be both," Elijah countered bitterly.
"The king left you in charge," Katherine stated. "I know he wants to keep things as they are, but as the regent you have the authority to command your subjects Elijah. And if the council is being difficult-"
"It's not just the council." Elijah stood up and made his way towards the open window. A soft wind was blowing outside, and light rain was soon to follow, he could smell it in the air. "Mother…"
Of course, Katherine thought. She had seen the way the queen had undermined her son during the morning audiences. "She doesn't know her place."
"I would be open to her council," Elijah confessed in a murmur. "But she doesn't want to advice, she wants to rule, and she seems determined to go against me at every opportunity." It was an insult to his pride that his own mother didn't think him capable of ruling. "If she were to do it in private it's one thing but when she does it in public…" he let out a frustrated huff.
"Keep her away then."
Elijah turned to his wife. "You want me to forbid her from attending court?"
"From attending court, from the council meetings, lock her up if you must."
Elijah arched an eyebrow.
"I know she's your mother and as long as your father lives, she is the queen." Katherine approached him, hand reaching out to cradle his face gently. "But he left you in charge, Elijah. He trusted you, not his council, not the queen, you," She emphasized. "If she is not helping, keep her away." He opened his mouth, but Katherine did not let him utter any protests. "You have the king's blessing; your word is law. Until the king returns, you are King." The pride she felt for him was more than evident. "Don't let anyone, not even your mother make you feel anything less."
Elijah was clearly captivated by her words.
Katherine pulled his face down and kissed him passionately. She poured all her love for him in that kiss, her admiration and support as well. Esther be damned, Katherine was going to help and support her husband so that he could prove to everyone that he was a wise ruler.
Bonnie groaned and blinked her eyes open. Night had fallen in the kingdom, and her chamber was illuminated by the burning fire and flickering candles.
"You slept for the better part of the afternoon," Rebekah remarked. She was sitting close to the bed, a thick leather-bound book in her lap. "Your maid said you were unwell."
Bonnie sat up and leaning her back against the pillows. She felt well rested now. "The food did not sit well with me," she told Rebekah. "I felt very tired. I only intended to laid down for a bit but..." she had slept for much longer.
"And mother's visit didn't help, I bet."
Bonnie gave her a curious look. "How do you know?"
"The whole castle knows you visited Lady Lockwood and that mother threw a fit because of it."
"The servants like to gossip and so do the guards," Rebekah reminded her. "You shouldn't have gone to see her."
"I was just trying to be nice," Bonnie murmured. "I feel bad for her and for her child."
"Your gesture was very kind Bonnie, but dangerous."
"I know but-"
"Caroline is married to the man that attacked the king's son. The Lockwood family has risen in open rebellion."
"Caroline didn't know anything about Tyler's plan."
"Perhaps," Rebekah conceded. "But any sympathy you show her, could be perceived as a weakness or worst yet, as a sign that you favor the rebels."
"That's not fair-"
"I know," Rebekah cut her off. "But you are in the wolf's den now, you must think like one."
"I'm not very good at this game…" Bonnie admitted. Every action, every word, there was always a hidden meaning. Court life was not a bed of roses and without Nik by her side, Bonnie began to second guess herself. Trust your instincts, her grandmother had always told her. Her instincts had never failed her thus far but she still felt like a fish out of water.
"You will learn," Rebekah replied confidently.
Bonnie hoped so.
Silence befell them.
"Have you heard any news from the king and Nik?" Bonnie asked after a while.
Rebekah shook her head. "I was hoping that you might know something."
Bonnie looked towards the burning fire. "I know Nik is alive and well," she murmured, eyes lost in the flames. The pendant Nik wore around his neck allowed her to sense his well-being. "I have not received any letters from him though." Every morning she woke with the hope that she would receive a missive from her husband and every night she went to bed disappointed.
"Even if he wants to write to you every day, I'm sure he is very busy." Rebekah commented.
"Would you like me to order Davina to bring you something to eat?" Rebekah asked after a while. "You missed supper."
"I bet your mother wasn't pleased about that," Bonnie mumbled.
"No." Rebekah gave her a look. "But nothing pleases mother, except Finn."
Bonnie gave her a sad look.
"You must be really hungry-"
"No," Bonnie made a face. "I don't think I can stomach anything…." She remembered the smell from the food earlier and grimaced. The thought of food made her stomach uneasy again.
Rebekah frowned. "Should I call a physician?"
"I'm fine," Bonnie assured her with a small smile. She didn't want Rebekah to worry. "I'll have some warm milk and bread; I think I can eat bread." Well, she hoped she could at least.
Rebekah looked relieved. She stood up and walked towards the door, ordering one of the guards outside to bring the princess warm milk and bread from the kitchen.
Bonnie rested back against the pillows and sighed. Nik, when will you return? One hand absently moved towards her flat stomach. I need you my love.
Tyler's body laid on the stone floor, shivering uncontrollably. He had no notion of time. All Tyler Lockwood knew was pain. His bones had been broken, a couple of his fingers had been cut off and he had barely been fed since his captivity. The pain was endless as was the desperation inside him.
Where was his father? His brother?
Why had they abandoned him?
His whore of a wife was probably happy that he had been locked up. He hoped that at his trial, she wouldn't dare to speak against him. If she does, I will kill her with my own hands, he thought angrily.
A single torch suddenly illuminated his cell.
Tyler groaned, he had been in darkness for so long, the light hurt his eyes.
A guard pushed the door open.
Tyler lifted his bloodied face, trying to catch a glimpse of the cloaked figure standing by the heavy door. He could only see through his left eye; his right had been lost by the blows from the torturer. He had lost two fingers from his left hand, and a toe from his right foot. Even his wolf healing could not restore lost limbs. He whimpered when the figure got on the floor, next to him.
A sweet floral scent reached his nose.
He felt something against his lips.
Water…he nearly choked as he drank the precious liquid greedily. He moaned and sucked on the flask, drinking all of it. His throat was parched. "Than..thank…you…" he breathed with relief.
A soft giggle echoed inside the cold cell.
It sounded mocking to Tyler's ears. He looked up and swore he saw a flash of blonde hair and red lips curling into a wicked grin. He opened his mouth to speak once more but his throat suddenly burned. He gasped, body contorting in pain as the burning sensation spread all the way down to his belly.
The cloaked figure stood up.
Tyler chocked, pitiful whimpers escaping him. His eyes nearly bulged out with the horrible realization. He had been poisoned. As he laid dying, Tyler watched as the figure lowered her hood.
"Your actions ignited a war," Esther murmured. "And your death, will help me win it."
Tyler's face was turning purple, and white foam came out of his mouth. Everything burned. Why? He didn't understand why the queen was doing this. He thought of his father, he had made a secret deal with the queen, why was she doing this? She was supposed to be helping them.
"You're more use to me dead," Esther said. "There is no way your father will surrender when he learns you died." She gave him a scornful look. "I must also tie up all loose ends, you understand that don't you, my dear?"
She played them.
That was his last thought.
Tyler's eyes rolled back.
Esther watched as his body convulsed one last time before going completely still. She smirked. "You and your father are pawns," she murmured while taking a couple of seconds to contemplate Tyler's dead body. She picked the flask and exited the cell.
Her loyal guard locked the door once more and walked behind her.
When the sun rose that morning, the castle woke with the news of the traitor's death.
A/N: I hope that you enjoyed this chapter. As usual, Thank-you very much for all your support. Stay safe!