Bound by Duty

By The Crimson Quill All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Drama

Secrets Will Only Scare You

“There are two things you need to pay attention to, now.” Helena’s voice rung across the hall. “First, your coronation. You have to go through all the rituals and practice them. Second, your status as queen.”

Danielle raised a brow and asked, “My status as queen will be questioned openly? I mean, I understand some will be unhappy, but they won’t rebel, will they?”

Helena chortled. “No, no, no one will challenge you for your status. But you won’t have much of a political standing either.”

Danielle sighed, relieved. “So you’re talking about strength, mother.” She said, the word ‘mother’ coming out effortlessly. “If it’s that, you needn’t worry at all.”

Helena didn’t even listen to what she said. After hearing her call her mother, everything else floated over her head. A joyful twinkle appeared in her eyes, knowing that she had truly accepted and been accepted by this child.

“Mum. Mum!” Danielle waved her hand in front of her face. Helena abruptly came to.

“What did you say?” Helena asked dazedly. Danielle sighed.

“I said that if it’s about strength,” She explained patiently, “you don’t have to worry too much. That part, I will sort out.”

Helena raised her brows in surprise. “That is some confidence. Does it come from your training?”

“No, it just comes from my ability,” Danielle said simply.

“Well,” Helena drawled. “I will have to see it to believe it.”

“I will put up a fine show, then. Please take tickets for the front seat.”

The coronation was going to happen soon, and there were many things expected of Danielle during and before the coronation. The preparations were immense, she was told. There were actually people who were alive from the time the previous King Archer and Queen Helena were coronated. Like the Elders. Danielle felt her head spin thinking about living as long as even her mate.

But in the face of all these pressures, Danielle remained calm. “Love, if you want, we’ll postpone the coronation, give you some time.” Alex had looked at her worriedly. “I’m not sure... I’m not doubting your capability, but this truly—”

“Alex,” Danielle had whispered, covering his mouth with her hands. “Calm down. See? I’m calm. This is not as difficult or tiresome as you make it out to be. I’ve seen what I have to do, and I can handle it.”

Alex had suddenly licked her palm. She had taken it back yelping. Glaring at him once, she had turned around and walked away, listening to his rich, beautiful laughter the whole way.

She had then begun her etiquette and ceremonies’ class. She smiled at her teacher respectfully, as the latter was much older and experienced than her. The door to the ballroom had closed behind them as they began. For two hours, Alex, who was pacing outside, could hear only murmurs and instructions. But suddenly, the door opened. The teacher looked flushed, her face red and roused.

She curtsied before her king and said breathlessly, “I can’t teach her anymore, my king!”

Alex was alarmed. Surely Dani couldn’t be as bad as that? Surely she was teachable? Or was this teacher one of those who was biased against their new queen? Red hot fury flowed through his being, at the thought of his mate disrespected. He was about to rage at this woman when the latter continued.

“Your Majesty, the young queen knew everything even before I began teaching her. And what she didn’t know, she picked up within seconds. That kind of grasping power is... incredible.” The teacher lamented. “Your Majesty, I can guarantee you that the queen is ready to go through the coronation even if it is tomorrow. It’s best she spends her time in learning things other than my subject.”

Alex was stupefied, to say the least. His mouth was open in shock and didn’t show any signs of closing. Danielle came out of the hall finally and smiled a little at this look of his. She lifted his jaw and closed his mouth. He then snapped out of his daze.

“Okay,” he said finally, “okay. You’re dismissed.” He sent the teacher away. He turned to his mate, with incredible joy in his face. He lifted her by the waist and twirled her about in the ballroom until she squealed happily. He put her down and steadied her. Pulling her close to his chest, he looked down at her deeply, his green eyes almost hypnotising.

“You,” he breathed, “are so much more than I expected.”

She smiled jerkily but in his joy, he didn’t see the difference. She brought her hand to his face. Stroking his cheek, she asked with a small smile, “I take it you like who you mated, then?”

He nodded eagerly. “Oh, yes. And I plan to spend the rest of our existence showing just how much I like you, Dani.”

Danielle made a sound which was a mix of a choked sob and a laugh. Now, Alex noticed something off about her expression. Rubbing a thumb on her cheek, he asked, frowning anxiously. “What’s wrong, Dani? Aren’t you happy here? Did something happen?”

She shook her head at his questions. “I’m very happy here, Alex. I finally have a mom, a home, a family and... you. It’s because I’m so happy that... it makes me emotional.”

Alex looked at her sceptically. She laughed a little at his suspicion. She decided to the one thing which would make him believe her. She simply leaned in and kissed away all his fears.

It was an hour later that found her in the queen’s study. She asked the guards she had been assigned — Ryan and Terrence to help her bring in some of the files related to the alliances and treaties in the kingdom from the king’s office and the library. She spent the rest of the day reading through them and, whether anyone else believed it or not, memorising them.

As she finished up, she stared at the lights, her thoughts drifting towards her fears, once again. The knowledge she held and the power she could wield were things which had to be feared. These treaties, these alliances, the workings of the royal household, the factions in the royal court, the history of politics among the werewolf nobility — she knew all of them. Without skimping on a single detail.

It frightened her.

Not because she had it, but because a slip of tongue, a casual remark somewhere could trap her. Bind her literally in chains. Knowledge was power. Knowledge was also dangerous. And she was mated to the most dangerous and astute mind in the continent. Currently, he was blinded by the mate bond between them, but soon, he would start to notice.This combination constantly kept her on tenterhooks. She wasn’t one to get pressured so easily, but keeping secrets and hiding things was taking a toll on her.

She was just trying to do some good. Why was it so hard?

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