“No, it won’t be so bad,” I agreed. “Snowball fights I can handle.”
“Are you nervous?” he asked.
“A little.” I turned my head to face him, pressing my cheek into the snow. “Are you?”
“Yeah, I am.” He furrowed his brow, staring thoughtfully at the sky. “I think I’m most scared of the kiss. It will be our first time, and in front of all those people.”
“Yeah,” I said, and my stomach twisted at the thought. “But you can’t really mess up a kiss.”
“Do you think we should?” Tove asked, and he looked over at me.
“Kiss?” I asked. “You mean when we get married? I think we kind of have to.”
“No, I mean, do you think we should now?” Tove sat up, propping himself up with his arms behind him. “Maybe it will make it a bit easier tomorrow.”
“Do you think we should?” I asked, sitting too. “Do you want to?”
“I feel like we’re in the third grade right now.” He sighed and brushed snow off his pants. “But you’re going to be my wife. We’ll have to kiss.”
“Yeah, we will.”
“Okay. Let’s do it.” He smiled thinly at me. “Let’s just kiss.”
I swallowed hard and leaned forward. I closed my eyes, since it felt less embarrassing if I didn’t have to see him. His lips were cold, and the kiss was chaste. It only lasted a moment, and my stomach swirled with nerves, but not the pleasurable kind.
“Well?” Tove asked, sitting up straighter.
“It was alright,” I nodded, more to convince myself than him.
“Yeah, it was good.” He licked his lips and looked away from me. “We can do this. Right?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Of course we can. If anybody can, it’s us. We’re like the most powerful Trylle ever. And we’re neat people. We can handle spending the rest of our lives with each other.”
“Yeah,” Tove said, sounding more encouraged by the prospect. “In fact, I’m looking forward to it. I like you. You like me. We have fun together. We agree on almost everything. We’re going to be the best husband and wife ever.”
“Yeah, totally,” I chimed in. “We’re perfect for each other.”
“We are,” Tove said, and then more quietly, “We really are.”
We both lapsed into silence after that, staring off at the snow, lost in our own thoughts. I wasn’t sure exactly what Tove was thinking. I wasn’t even sure what I was thinking. On paper, Tove and I made more sense than anyone else, but in my heart, it didn’t feel that way.
“Should we go in?” Tove asked abruptly. “I’m getting cold.”
“Yeah, me too.”
He got up and then took my hand, pulling me to my feet. He didn’t need to, but it was a nice gesture. We went into the palace together, neither of us saying anything, and I twisted at my engagement ring. The metal was icy from the snow, and it suddenly felt too large and heavy on my finger. I wanted to take it off and give it back, but I couldn’t.
I snuck in a copy of the Tryllic workbook Tove had gotten for me so I had something to do while Aurora went over all the last-minute details. It was the day before the wedding, so I hoped everything was on track. We didn’t have time for anything else.
I sat in a chair with the book open on my lap, while Aurora and Willa went over a checklist with about twenty wedding planners. Aurora had even put Duncan to work counting table centerpieces to make sure we had enough.
Sometimes they asked for my help, and I gave it, but I think Aurora was happier when I didn’t have input. I might disagree with her if I did.
All my bridesmaids were here, and most of them I’d never even met. Willa was my maid of honor, and she’d chosen the rest of the wedding party because she actually knew them. Aurora insisted that this had to be huge, so I had ten bridesmaids.
“It’s the wedding of the century, and you’re studying,” Willa sighed as the day drew to a close. Aurora had checked everything twice, and the only people left in the room were me, Willa, Aurora, and Duncan.
“I need to know this.” I gestured to the book. “This is essential to being able to decipher old treaties. I don’t need to know about lavish party planning. You and Aurora have that covered.”
“That we do,” Willa smiled. “I think everything’s all set. You’re going to have a fantastic day tomorrow.”
“Thank you,” I said and closed the book. “I really do appreciate everything you’ve done.”
“Oh come on, I loved it,” she laughed. “If I can’t have a fairy tale wedding, at least I can plan one, right?”
“Just because you’re not a Princess doesn’t mean you can’t have a fairy tale wedding,” I said and stood up.
She gave me a pained smile, and I realized what I’d said. Willa was a Marksinna dating my brother Matt, a human, and if anybody found out, she’d be banished. She wasn’t even supposed to date him, let alone marry him.
“Sorry,” I said.
“Don’t be.” She waved it off. “You’re doing the best you can, and we all know it.”
She was referring to my efforts for more equality among the Trylle, trackers, and mänks. We were losing most of our population because they fell in love with humans, and then they were exiled. Nobody was staying around.
From any standpoint, it made more sense to let people love who they loved. They were going to anyway, but if we stopped making it illegal, they would stick around more often and contribute to society.
I hadn’t done much to convince people of this yet, but I was too busy struggling with a Vittra solution. Once we got this fixed (if we ever got it fixed), I would make equal rights for everyone in Förening my top priority.
“Are we all done here then?” I asked.
“Yep,” Willa said. “You’ve got nothing left to do except get some rest, and get pretty tomorrow before the wedding. Then you just have to say ‘I do.’”
“I think I can handle that,” I said, but I wasn’t sure that I could.
“Are you alright by yourself, Aurora?” Willa asked as we headed to the door.
“I’m just finishing a few things up,” Aurora said without looking up from the papers she was going over. “Thank you, though.”