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Draw Your Arrow

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He could have killed her from a distance.

He figured that was what his brother wanted.

Hawkeye grimaced, slipping into the hidden passage leading to the king's room. He did not know what his brother wanted. He did not know what the purpose of any of this was. Why marry a woman only to kill her? He knew that the people had little respect or sympathy for the king, but killing his new bride would not gain him that. He had what he wanted—fear—and the people would still fear him after the woman was dead.

She had no great alliance anywhere to threaten. Her death was not political enough. She was not a bargaining piece or so beloved of people here or in her homeland to start a war. Killing her for that was pointless.

So what was his brother hoping for in killing her? He did not think it had anything to do with the rumors about Hawkeye's supposed interest in her. That was Phillip's teasing, mostly, and even if it had gotten back to the king, he doubted it would have changed his plans for his queen. The king had told him to kill people he cared about before, and he'd refused. His brother knew he would, knew that was the one order that Hawkeye would never follow.

He would have pushed them into war with each other if the woman meant a damn to Hawkeye.

She didn't. He didn't trust her, and he didn't know what her motivations were. He knew she did not have her eye only on the throne, the role of queen. That was not her ambition, though most assumed it was. Something lurked within her, something dark and dangerous, that a simple quest for power did not explain.

She was something else, something he couldn't figure out yet, and so would not kill her with his bow, not at a distance. He needed to be closer, needed to find what answers he could before he carried out his brother's orders.

He needed to be certain of his target.

He killed, he did it for war or under orders. He did what was necessary.

The king was dead when he stepped into the room.

It was necessary.

He reached for his bow.