A/N: Klonnie needed time alone and I needed exposition. Apologies for any spelling or grammatical errors.

Husbands and Wives

Titian. She would name him Titian.

Her wedding gift proved as fast as suspected as he carried her down the main road farther and farther away from the castle. If she stayed on this path and stopped only to eat and sleep, she would make it back to Mystic Falls in a fortnight. Back to a home and a bed and life that seemed more hers than anything here.

And then? She asked herself. What then, after you've returned to your home and your bed and your life? What comes after the entire kingdom tears itself apart deciding which throne to follow? What comes after you've left that wretched husband of yours to his own devices to pursue the ulterior motives that brought you here in the first place, oh queen of Antioch?

Bonnie growled in frustration as she veered Titian off of the main road and galloped across the countryside.

She couldn't leave. She declared before gods and men that the North was now her home and Klaus Mikaelson her husband and king. The gifting ceremony was meant to be the first in many steps toward healing the deep divisions caused by both Katherine and Elena's rule.

Instead, she'd been picked apart and chastised as one would a naughty child. She hadn't been so rudely second-guessed in years and for Klaus to have done so now, stung in a way she couldn't explain.

Bonnie glanced back at the sound of galloping hooves, expecting to see her knights. Instead, she found only the horse-apple made flesh himself; riding a steed as black as ink and gaining on her.

She thought for a moment of putting her heels to Titian and daring Klaus to overtake her. Instead, she veered off course again and raced towards the wooded area nearby.

She would lose him there and buy herself more time to think.

Klaus smiled to himself as he watched Bonnie disappear into Ammon's Woods. He'd felt a moment of concern that she would foolishly attempt to flee as there was nothing to keep her here save for her honor. He would have tracked her to the ends of the continent if need be, but the of her potential flight only served to stir an already restless beast as he followed her into the densely packed forest.

The well-worn pathways within were narrow and compelled any rider to slow their pace while tall trees reached high and barely allowed sunlight to penetrate. She was still well ahead of him; her back ramrod straight as her miraculously mollified mount was given its head and guided her through the brush.

"Do give a shout when you're ready to stop," he called, his voice cut the air and a startled flock of guineas took flight at the intrusion.

Klaus turned briefly in his saddle to find her knights nowhere in sight. He'd passed them in his pursuit of her but hadn't bothered to see if they continued to follow.

"Where are you guards?" He called again. "I shall have their heads if they've abandoned you."

"You're the one with the enhanced senses; you tell me." Bonnie returned tersely.

"Fair point," Klaus demurred.

Trained by Ser Luka in the ways of Avona riders, Bonnie's knights were likely able to disappear into shadow-even on horseback. According to Elijah, there was no more perfect union than that of horse and rider in the eyes of the Avona, and as such man and beast benefits from the each other's strengths. Horses by and large were not known for stealth and yet…

Klaus focused his hearing away from rustling of trees and the croak and titter of low creatures until he honed in on the remarkably light steps of several sets of hooves. The scents of damp earth and simple prey faded leaving only the ever-distinct notes of his wife and the pungent spice-laden scent of man. When the glint of steel alerted him to one of their presence, the rest were easy to find.

They'd formed a perimeter around Bonnie; close enough to come to her aid, yet offered enough distance for their mistress to fume in peace.

Impressive, he thought begrudgingly.

"Found them," he called again—more for Luka's benefit than anyone else. The knight was a man of few words, but Klaus had his own suspicions about the nature of the young captain's loyalty to Bonnie.

"Good for you," Bonnie answered over her shoulder. "You would do well to learn from them."

"Really? In what way?" He prodded, determined to keep her talking.

"They're charged with my safety yet respect my wishes enough to offer at least the appearance of privacy when needed," she replied.

"As they should, for they are your guards. I am your husband," Klaus shrugged.

"Are you?" Bonnie gasped. "I assumed you were my father, or maybe a preceptor like your brother, or perhaps—"

"Enough of this," he muttered and surged forward to bring his horse beside hers, determined to keep her from working up a full head of steam.

"We should talk," he demanded.

"I don't want to," Bonnie replied; her eyes straight ahead.

"You don't want to talk?" Klaus scoffed. "What the hell kind of diplomat are you then?"

Bonnie brought Titian up short and quickly dismounted.

"The kind that doesn't believe in wasting her time," Bonnie snapped. "Which is clearly what I've been doing with regard to my dealings with you." She grabbed the horse's reins and marched toward a nearby stream.

"I was wrong to believe that someone like you would have the wherewithal to foster civility between us," she continued. "No, it's much easier to second-guess, belittle and insult, isn't it?"

"That wasn't my intention—" Klaus began, following her with his own mount.

"I don't give a damn what your intentions were," Bonnie countered and whipped around to glare at him; her eyes twin daggers that promised to draw blood if pressed.

"I am not a child, I am not an invalid, nor am I a fool, husband. Since you are incapable of bearing that in mind, I see no point in discussion." She turned to Titian and began unfastening his bridle, hurriedly.

"You were brilliant," Klaus admitted finally when Bonnie nudged the beast towards the water. "In fact, I've never seen it better performed. And you should know that the return of Last Kiss to the North bodes well for your esteem among the people."

"Do not attempt to patronize me—" Bonnie warned.

"I wasn't," He replied with something that sounded alarmingly like sincerity. Leaves crunched beneath his boots as he stepped closer. "I should have said as much at the time but—" Attempts to explain such things always proved tiresome in the long run. The complicated nature of the relationship between man and wolf, was difficult to understand, even for him.

"But what?" Bonnie signed in exasperation.

"But the wolf doesn't care about the beauty of the act; only the danger to you," he answered gruffly. "We are not unlike your precious Avona with their horses—though our union often proves imperfect, as witnessed today."

"Your wolf?" Bonnie hid her surprise at his words. In truth, she hadn't expected an explanation for his behavior, let alone one she could believe, and yet he'd provided both sincerely.

"Yes," Klaus smiled ruefully. "While he only reigns beneath the full moon, he is not without input the rest of the time. He cares not for thrones or magical swords or whether there's peace in this land. What matters is that you are mine and therefore his and he is much less diplomatic regarding your safety than I."

Their eyes met and Bonnie felt caught in a web spun by his words as she searched his face; the wolf he spoke of seeming just beneath the beneath flesh and bone, daring her to face him. She tamped down her magic as it hummed in response; her husband still much too close to discovering the truth.

"None of this afternoon has been very well done of me," he offered, when she hesitated to respond.

"Was that your idea of an apology?" Bonnie huffed, seizing the opportunity to change the subject by even the tiniest bit.

"It's as close as I've ever come to offering one," Klaus smirked.

"Well, I'm afraid that won't do," Bonnie primly. "For who if not your wife, has a right to one?"

Klaus closed what little space remained and reached for her hands. He planted a kiss on the back of each before catching her gaze. Her ire was waning, leaving only caution and curiosity in its wake.

"You were unfairly subjected to the...less refined notes of my nature and for that, I apologize," he offered, still holding her hands. "And I commend your restraint on the matter; I've gutted men for lesser offenses."

"I considered it," Bonnie admitted with a hint of a smile. "Nevertheless, I accept your apology and reserve the right to gut you for any future offense, wolf or no wolf."

"I'll put the blade in your hand myself, if you'll grant one request," he offered and watch suspicion creep into her eyes.

"Why couldn't he just leave it a simple apology?" She asked the trees, only to have them rustle in reply.

"Because I'm not a simple man," Klaus replied and smirked that the roll of Bonnie's eyes.

Bonnie stood before him with her arms tightly folded; a leather-shot foot tapped impatiently as her eyebrows urged him to get on with it while her lips tried their damnedest to disappear. The desire not to unravel any progress he'd made since she'd dismounted stopped him from pointing out how adorable she looked when put out.

"Spend the remainder of the day with me in Fell's Church," He asked instead. "Unfettered; no manservants, no handmaids, no guards lurking about."

"Alone?" Bonnie scoffed. "With you?"

"You say that as if we haven't been sharing a bed, Bonnie," he pointed out.

"Yes, but that's quite different; all we do in our bed is sleep." The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them. The state of their marital bed was a pressing matter, but she'd been somewhat grateful that Elena's passing delayed her husband in fulfilling his duty.

Still, the words now said, made her face burn and the soles of her feet itch to flee. She nearly jumped when she felt one of Klaus' fingers beneath her chin; raising her face to meet his.

"A matter that will be attended to in due time, dear wife," Klaus replied with a half-smile; his eyes unwavering. "But for now, Fell's Church awaits and I know you're eager to see it."

"Of course, I want to see it, I just don't know if I want to see it with you," Bonnie shot back, eager to move the discussion away from beddings. "Your moods change direction with the wind and we've been wed less than a fortnight and are already quarrelling."

"If it makes you feel any better; I've had at least five arguments with every other member of our house in the same amount of time. I'm afraid you need to catch up," Klaus offered; his half-smile now a grin.

"Now you mock me," Bonnie murmured.

"And now you're stalling," he pressed. She was attempting a tactical retreat, he surmised. He'd seen it more than once on the battlefield. Her excuses were merely diversions thrown out to cover a retreat to a seemingly more fortified position in hopes of not only withstanding an onslaught; but to plan a counterstrike as well. To allow her to leave his grasp and escape to the relative safety that accompanied her caution, would be to lose the remainder of what little ground he'd gained; the bulk of it squandered in the royal stables.

Instead, he would flank her; use reason and her own pride to cut off retreat and force her to meet him in the open.

"Give in, little Jonquil," he coaxed. "You know as well as I that this peace you speak so earnestly of can only begin with us. Save your ire for matters more deserving and less easily resolved, I've no doubt you'll need it."

"Well that's certainly reassuring," Bonnie replied dryly. He was right, of course. But to give in to his request would place her at an even greater disadvantage. In a matter of hours, he'd both charmed and infuriated her, and now she was being tempted to lower her guard even further-and he was using her own convictions to do it.

Damn him.

"You have my word you will not regret it," Klaus assured. "A word I've yet to break, I might add," he added with a nod to the horse drinking placidly from the stream.

Bonnie said nothing as she as moved away to lead Titian from the stream and replace his bridle. She remained silent as she checked the fastens of her saddle before spring onto the horse's back.

"You'd better have your purse on you," she answered finally. "I fully intend to shop."

KBKBKBKBK

Fell's Church was all Bonnie hoped it would be and more. Mystic Falls dwarfed it by tens of thousands, but it was obvious that it too was made of sterner stuff. Seated in the cold and nearly inhospitable North, the ancient settlement endured everything from wars to famines, to the kinds of devastations wrought only by the gods themselves. Yet it remained; its people ever resolute.

Word of their arrival spread like wildfire and the crowd that followed grew with each step. Klaus said this was due more to her than to himself; as he'd roamed these streets since he was a child and continued to do so after he'd been declared king. He said that while the people showed him the deference his station required; most still remember the wild little boy who'd cut a swath of mayhem through town only to be dragged back to the castle on his father's orders.

"That sounds a bit humbling," Bonnie mused wryly. "Despite whatever power you now hold, the people of Fell's Church have seen you at your most vulnerable. Such a perspective can be a pin to even the largest balloon."

Klaus smiled at the dig as they passed a row of buildings under construction. "On behalf of myself and my swelled head, I must disagree. They know these streets were more my home than Dragon's Nest ever was and that I will always them it as such. Yes, they fear me; but, that fear—while justified—gets weighed against the certainty that I will protect and defend the North-tends to be found wanting."

"I see," Bonnie nodded. "It was different for Elena. Serving up Katherine's head was a good first step, but it took years to convince the nobles, let alone the people, of her intentions. It's a boon that yours have known your heart for so long."

Klaus chuckled at the notion and received an eyebrow arched in inquiry from Bonnie. A lock of hair broke free from its pins and danced across her face with the breeze.

"They don't know my heart; only my will," Klaus replied and lifted the lock before tucking it behind her ear. "That is all they ever need know."

Bonnie's cheeks warmed at the gesture. He'd been all errant touches and subtle grazes from the moment they arrived and he'd lifted her from Titian's back and set her on her feet. He'd held her close as he lowered her; so closely, the mop of curls that covered his brow brushed against hers on the way down. His breath was warm sweetgrass and feather-light on her face; his snark-tinted smile close enough to touch. It was frustrating; the way the air seemed heavier when he was this close. Not only heavy, but enveloping; coiling around her like a great serpent that tightened around her chest and stirred the large winged insect trapped behind her ribcage. It hammered about within its confines; determined to break free and flee towards safety and sanity.

And to make matters worse, the only reprieve for her discomfit was found in eyes she charged as the cause of it. He both infuriated and persuaded; endeared and repulsed. One could never be certain of where to stand with such a person and that was without the added wrinkle of a four-legged beast just as magical as she.

His words rang true when he spoke of the wolf, for indeed he'd given voice to the presence that scratched at the back of her mind as of late. His wolf sniffed and pawed incessantly at the door to her magic; intent on making its presence known and bent on capturing that which stirred its senses. To repel it was to risk discovery, so she endured its presence and thanked the gods that he was still no closer to discovering her secret.

"On the other hand," Klaus continued, rousing her attention. "By virtue of your role, you're compelled to wear your heart on your sleeve. An uncomfortable position to be in, yes?"

The crowds kept a distance they knew wouldn't raise Klaus' ire as they hailed the passage of their lieges with eyes both curious and wary. Still, Bonnie ventured closer to them; grasping the hands of those seeking a blessing from the new Keeper. She would linger and answer whatever questions caught her ear and was rewarded with nods of assent and the occasional bark of laughter. Whenever she strayed too close for Klaus' liking, she would suddenly feel the graze of his fingertips on her person.

To call it wearing her heart on her sleeve felt like an over simplification. The Northerners didn't know her and perhaps some even feared her, but that didn't change her now inherent commitment to their wellbeing. Her finger was now permanently on the very pulse of Antioch and made her consciously aware of the overall mood its inhabitants.

Bonnie felt the gazes of those leaning from their balconies for a peek at their strange, new queen; this riotous change to their Faith. Worry, anger and resentment warred with hope, faith and loyalty and were as a distant wailing in her mind; the tumult of the kingdom felt keenly. An empathy that was hers by virtue of her magic was now amplified due to the bond with Antioch. If she focused on any one thing, be it the land or the people for too long, she risked being overwhelmed; caught in a riptide of emotion with madness certain to follow.

Yet whenever she felt herself tilting into that yawning chasm, she would feel the feather-light brush of Klaus' fingertips against her skin. A stroke of her cheek; a graze of her knuckles and the sure footing she sought was found.

"You have no idea," Bonnie replied, finally as they continued on.

She took note of everything as Klaus pointed out places of interest and explained their origins. He was a wealth of knowledge about the inner workings of the town as they made their way to marketplace at its center. An area full to bursting with merchants and vendors shouting their wares in hopes of catching a royal eye.

Those that did, urged her to sample their wares. Craftmanship more than aesthetic drew Bonnie's interest, Klaus observed as she pored over everything from needlepoint and jewelry to armor and weaponry. Those she found of quality she purchased at once without haggling; her delicate fingers ever beckoning for coin from his purse. She spoke at length with the healers as they presented potions and tinctures; pulling small smiles from the old women as she peppered them with questions and watched them to revel in their expertise.

By the time they reached the foodwares and livestock, Bonnie's stomach began to growl. She sampled breads and pastries; commissioning more than one baker to deliver fresh baskets of some delicacy to the castle at least once a week. She even purchased a pair of water eagles despite Klaus' protests.

"Surely you don't intend to house those things within the castle?" he argued, eying the massive birds of prey with disdain.

"Of course not," Bonnie smiled. "They're creatures of sea and air and need access to both. What they also need is a safe place to nest and tend their young; which I will offer them within the godswood."

"Why?" Klaus gently pressed.

"Scientific purposes; I want to test a theory," was her blithe reply. There was no guile in her eyes, but Klaus knew that she'd withheld every bit of nuance from her answer. Indiscriminate predators, the water eagle was known to fly farther and faster across land and sea than the standard carrier raven. Attempts to tame the creatures for such use failed repeatedly over the centuries and yet his studious little wife wanted to test a theory…? He would wait to press her further on the matter; the enmity between them too newly repaired to revisit her now obvious attraction to inherently wild, inherently dangerous beasts…

"Well then, hope you'll be pleased with the results," he smoothly demurred instead; a theory of his own beginning to take shape.

Bonnie hid her surprise at his relentment. She hadn't lied; the godswood would be an excellent place for the birds to nest. Her theory however, involved not only the birds, but her magic and the desire for insight into things that would normally go unseen. Still, she said nothing when he tucked her hand into his arm and continued on; his interest in the matter apparently gone.

After Klaus was certain Bonnie spent his coin well and that her purchases were en route to the castle, he was finally able to pull her away from the marketplace without protest and towards what could only be the largest tavern in town. Once a small watering hole, The Winking Wolf had grown over the centuries to now include a small dining hall and lodgings on the upper floor.

The scent of what could only be roasted boar and strong spirits billowed from the entrance as patrons came and went in a steady flow. Strains of music reached Bonnie's ears; nearly overpowered by raucous voices. The sound brought a smile to her lips that lingered as she and Klaus approached.

The current owner of The Winking Wolf was a burly man with flaming red hair and beard that covered everything except his pale blue eyes. He towered over those around him; even holding several inches above her husband. He leaned against the entrance with his arms crossed over his barrel chest and only moved when Klaus came to stand before him; Bonnie's hand clasped firmly in his.

"Alpha," he said and bowed his head. When his eyes slid over to Bonnie, he hesitated for the briefest moment before he inclined his head again. "Queen," he said; more statement than acknowledgement.

Her magic, already on edge, became more so as the large man proved not as adept at masking his features as her husband. It was there for only a moment, but she'd seen his confusion, followed closely by his suspicion. Moreover, her senses were tingling in way she'd recently begun to associate with Klaus.

He's a wolf, Bonnie surmised. And, like Klaus, he too sensed something amiss with regard to her.

"Dear wife," she heard Klaus say and cursed her short-sightedness. Concealment from her husband proved difficult enough, but she hadn't considered the number of wolves who might also dwell in her midst.

"This is Volk the Blooded, owner of this fine establishment and an old friend," he announced with a clap to ginger's leather clad back. He was learning to read her reactions and was certain she'd realized the truth of Volk's nature. She was now tense with unease, mostly likely wondering how many more would cross her path.

There was no design in bringing her here, despite what she may already be thinking. Nevertheless, the fact remained for whatever reason she's kept her secret, it would be untenable to do so now—not unless she intended to avoid every wolf that might cross her path.

And there were many.

Bonnie steeled her features and extended her hand to Volk. "Greetings, any friend of my husband's is a friend of mine."

Volk's hand swallowed her when he brought it to his lips. "Your husband uses the word loosely. I barely tolerate him. Barely," he replied with a smirk.

"Then we are of one accord in that regard," Bonnie returned with a laugh. His voice was warm and his words easy, but it was clear to her that Volk took his cues from Klaus and without question.

"Don't encourage him in his insolence," Klaus interrupted, steering her towards the entrance. "He'll take it as a sign I won't actually kill him for it."

Volk's hand landed heavily on Klaus' shoulder and stopped him for a moment.

"You've really gone and done it this time, haven't you, Alpha?" Volk murmured with a quick nod in Bonnie's direction.

"Don't I always?" Klaus countered with a smirk.

#

Gods be good…there were more.

That morning, there had only been one wolf lurking outside her door. By Bonnie's estimation as she entered the tavern, there were now at least ten more prowling about; each masking their reaction to her presence with varying degrees of success.

The band of musicians seated in the far corner abruptly stopped playing and all activity came to a halt at Bonnie and Klaus' arrival. Dozens of chairs scraped against wood floors as all stood and presented a spectrum between indifference and awe at the sight of their queen. Eyes followed her as Klaus led through the dining area and up a set of stone steps to a small balcony that viewed the dining hall below.

The space, though small was well appointed and dominated by a table and pair of chairs that were of a quality finer than the rustically overused offerings to the public. A wave of Klaus' hand as they sat and activity resumed; the musicians lifting their instruments once more as Volk barked out orders to the kitchen over the din of voices that sprang up at each table.

A barmaid appeared and dropped into an earnest but poor approximation of a curtsy before filling a pair of bejeweled goblets with wine.

"This is a clever feature," Bonnie nodded, taking in the area as barman after barman arrived bearing soft cheeses, dried fruits, crusty breads and a bevy of jams and jellies.

"It's tradition," Klaus replied before drinking deeply. "The stories say that Queen Amara's third husband King Ivar of the North, took shelter in The Winking Wolf during Pax's Rebellion centuries ago. The place was practically a hovel back then, but the king was so grateful for the owner's assistance that gave the man his weight in gold as reward. Owner declared from that moment on that there would always be a place for the king's head to rest at The Winking Wolf. This dining area along with the similarly appointed lodgings down the hall can be used by no one, save the king of Antioch himself.

"A convenient little cave for the king to betray his wife in as often as he liked," Bonnie countered. King Ivar's philandering ways were legends committed to song long ago. "The gods only know what you've been up to in those similarly appointed lodgings down the hall, let alone your true intentions in bringing me here."

Klaus choked back a laugh. "I've no intention of bedding you here, Bonnie" he scoffed and popped a large date into his mouth.

"Forgive me," she began with a sip of wine. "But our wedding night is now over a week past, yet a certain duty remains unaddressed. Should I be concerned?" Her tone was light, but the corner of her mind where sanity dwelled screamed in alarm at the question, while Bonnie summoned every bit of strength to keep a blush from rising to her cheeks. It was one of many conversations that needed to be had, and while the most delicate of the lot, it was the one least likely to create enmity for what had turned out to be a rather pleasant afternoon. Besides, it would be a welcome distraction from the wolves below.

Klaus grinned at her boldness. There she sat, the picture of composure; her question voiced as simple inquiry. But her hummingbird heartbeat, the faintness of her breath, and her increasingly warm skin told a different tale that only convinced him to test his earlier theory further.

"Should you be?" he hedged.

"I asked you first," Bonnie countered. "You should know that a few tales of your exploits did make it to Mystic Falls so I've no reason to doubt your…ability. Therefore, if your reason for abstaining isn't physical, then I can only assume it's either political or personal. Do you not consummate the marriage because you seek a means to dissolve it? Or am I the cause of your hesitance; have you found fault with my form or features?"

"Hardly," Klaus scoffed.

Asked by anyone else and he would assume they were fishing for compliments. Klaus didn't hide his mirth at Bonnie's earnestly inquisitive face as she seemed to mentally roll up her sleeves to tackle the matter of their cold marriage bed with a gravity that rivaled Elijah's.

"I mean to seduce you, Bonnie," he leaned forward and offered before she could reply.

Whatever follow up question she had, lodged in her throat and nearly choked her.

"I…don't understand," she said, after delicately clearing her throat in mild shock. "There is no need for seduction. We're already married and I'm willing to do what is expected of us. Why the waste of effort?"

She waited with interest for the punchline to whatever jest Klaus intended. When it didn't land and she instead felt his gaze more heavily on her, she met his look with a sense of foreboding at the lack of guile she found.

"Because there's a significant difference between willing and wanting, dear wife; I'd prefer the latter," Klaus replied, content to give her just enough information to frustrate that curious mind of hers while inviting her imagination into the conversation.

"But you'd find more success with the former," Bonnie countered, unsure of what to make of his words. If they were said in jest, then she failed to find the humor. And if they weren't…

"I will not be seduced by you," she blurted out in protest of her own thoughts.

"Why's that?" Klaus asked, as a barman appeared and placed a platter of roasted boar before them. He speared a piece of the sizzling meat with a knife and eyed the morsel with interest. She was as flustered as those damn birds she'd bought and it was delightful. Though she was a tense as a soldier in his first vanguard, the blush she fought to hide, now settled in her cheeks and began its slow takeover of her skin.

Bonnie's eyes widened incredulously. "Have you forgotten that mere hours ago I was ready to gut you? If the past couple of days are an indicator, then your endeavor has already failed."

"Yet here you sit, by my side; demanding to know why I won't fuck you," Klaus replied wryly and slid the morsel from the knife with his teeth.

"I speak of a matter of State; one that greatly impacts the both of us." Bonnie argued.

"So am I," Klaus answered and motioned for her to sample the dishes being laid before her.

"How?" Bonnie demanded, her irritation beginning to rise. "Whatever gambit you attempt only delays what should have already transpired." In truth, she wanted to earth to open its maw and swallow her whole as she retraced the steps that brought her to this of all discussions.

"Indeed, it will," Klaus agreed with a nod. "But the ends do justify the means."

"Explain," Bonnie pressed when he didn't seem inclined to continue.

"Mikael and Esther Mikaelson were wed in a manner even more perfunctory than our own," Klaus began, finally. It was true, Esther of House Briston was originally betrothed to Mikael's older brother Edmund. But a summer fever returned him to the gods a mere two weeks before the wedding. Their parents, determined to unite their houses, quickly agreed that the terms of the marriage contract would remain in place with Esther still assured to marry the next Mikaelson in line.

"To her credit, Esther began as a dutiful and loyal wife," he explained. "By all accounts, she was keen to the to make the best of an awkward situation and win her new husband's affections. Unfortunately for her, Mikael's heart had always been cold as stone." The Lord of House Mikaelson had been as severe and unyielding as oak and though he was respected throughout the North, he was in no way been loved.

Klaus chewed thoughtfully. "Still, she eventually accepted being in an honorable yet loveless marriage and bore him three strong children. I'm told she was pregnant with Rebekah when she learned of my mother."

Bonnie soaked up his tale like a sponge. House Mikaelson was ancient and formidable. The obsidian monolith of the North; windowless, leaving the world blind to its inner workings. It's resolute silence a shield against scandal and ruin. Klaus' existence made Mikael's infidelity a fact, but the details surrounding it were pure speculation for the most part. Yet, here she was being frankly offered details that had only been whispered about.

Why would he speak of such things to an outsider?

The answer landed with rudeness of an iced water to the face.

You're not an outsider; you're his wife.

"Anyway," Klaus continued. "To Esther's surprise—and anyone else who cared for that matter—Mikael came to love Anella Giantsbane…desperately it seems. And Esther grew to hate them both just as desperately for it. When he brought me to live under his roof to be raised beside to his lawful children, that hatred festered and she took her resentments out on those most vulnerable to her rage. Mikael didn't care but…"

"…you do," Bonnie finished, her memory conjuring up the telltale scars on his body.

"I don't wish to repeat the mistakes of my father," Klaus replied.

"Yet, without them, you wouldn't be here," Bonnie pointed out. "The gods are nothing if not imbued with a keen sense of irony."

"Indeed," Klaus nodded. "And in turn, I've been imbued with a keen sense of family. My family; not Mikael's. A family in which you now find yourself a part. You are my wife and the lady of our House and despite evidence to the contrary, I do not wish for there to be coldness between us."

"Nor do I," Bonnie replied. "We are not a love match; such things are rare between kings and queens. I believe that it would be in the best interest of both the kingdom and our House if there's not only civility between us, but a…ah…companionable solidarity."

It was Klaus' turn to nearly choke on his wine at her words. "Couldn't have put it better myself," he demurred. The woman carried pragmatism and civil service like a heavy plated shield.

Bonnie pursed her lips in thought as she mulled over Klaus' words. She didn't question their sincerity, only whether or not they too were wrapped in an ulterior motive.

"You don't wish to be seen as a rutting brute with regard to your husbandly duties," she said, finally.

"Brute? No. Although, a proper rutting does have its place," Klaus replied. Several places, he thought to himself and made a mental note to show her exactly how many.

There was only so much blushing she could do before her face simply ignited and melted away. Political allies, trade agreements, dead languages, the progress made in curing stone sickness, these and much more were subjects on which should could speak with authority and a wealth of knowledge. But this…

"My point," she began. "Is that your sensitivity on such a delicate matter is both understood and appreciated. However, I still fail to see where or why seduction would be a factor. Again, it feels both unnecessary and futile given that if any warmth develops between us it should be founded on something less…base." He was right as far as the difference between willing and wanting, but there was power and influence that could be exploited in wanting. Elena's personal life consisted of rejection of an army's worth of suitors in favor of a paramour called Liam from Mystic Falls' most exclusive brothel.

Handpicked by Bonnie, Liam had been loyal and discreet while also too simple-minded to truly grasp the power that could be found in a queen's bed.

Klaus was not simple-minded.

And in this moment, she wished to all the gods that he were.

"Why seduction…?" Klaus echoed, pulling her from her thoughts. "Because it's fun."

"I am not for your entertainment," she bit out; her full lips pressed into an impossibly thin line.

"Of course, you are," he scoffed at the picture of indignation he'd bound his life to. "Just as I am for yours. If you ask me, it's one of the genuine perks of marriage."

"I didn't ask," Bonnie replied dryly.

"Still," Klaus chuckled. "We will take this time to acquaint ourselves with one another so that when I do claim that stubborn little maidenhead of yours, it will not be as a stranger, but as a welcomed and frequent…visitor. Though, I trust I'll have you throwing it at me long before then."

"We'll see about that," Bonnie muttered, uncomfortable with the certainly in his voice along with the notion of her being capable of such wantonness. And the way he sat there so smugly, as if he he'd been given a window into her future and was merely waited for her to catch up, made her itch to sink her fingernails into his flesh until he bled. She cursed her inexperience in such matters and inwardly groaned at yet another in the ever-growing list of things to defend against.

Wolves pawing at every door.

A/N: Hope you enjoyed and please let me know what you think. I know that not a lot of action with this one but that pretty much changes from this point on lol This chapter kind of got away from me in the writing process. I couldn't find a place for what I felt would be a natural ending so I just kept writing and writing and writing…so I decided to cut it off here. Kol finally arrives next update and with him comes more clues into what Klaus is planning both for Antioch and Bonnie while Bonnie spends time with the in-laws.

Thanks for reading! Update coming sooner rather than later, but not before Time Served.