As the day wore on, I started to feel exhausted, but I pushed through it. Loki had to physically move everything, so despite the chill, he ended up warm and sweaty. He took off his shirt, and the ordinarily pleasing sight pained me. The marks on his back looked better than they had before, but they were still there. Reminders of what he’d gone through, for me.
“What happened to him?” Willa asked me while we cleaned out one of the houses. A tree had gone through the window. I got it out, and she cleaned up the glass and branches.
“What?” I asked, but I saw her staring out the open window at Loki as he tossed a destroyed couch on the garbage pile in the road.
“Loki’s back,” she said. “Is that what the King did to him? That’s why he has amnesty?”
“Yeah, it is.”
Wind came up around me, blowing my hair in my eyes, as Willa created a small tornado in the middle of the living room. It circled around, blowing all the glass and little bits of tree into the funnel, so Willa could send it out to the garbage.
“So what’s going on with you and him?” Willa asked.
“Who?” I said. I tried to pick up one of the couches that had been tipped over, and Willa came over to help me.
“You and Loki.” She helped me flip the couch back on its feet. “Don’t play dumb. There’s something major there.”
“There’s nothing anywhere.” I shook my head.
“Whatever you say.” She rolled her eyes. “But I’ve been meaning to ask you, how’s the marriage going?”
“The past three days have been fantastic,” I said dryly.
“What about the wedding night?” Willa asked with a smile.
“Willa! This isn’t the time to be talking about that.”
“Of course it is! We need to lighten the mood,” she insisted. “And I haven’t had a chance to talk to you about any of this yet. Your life has been all drama since the wedding.”
“You’re telling me,” I muttered.
“Take five minutes.” Willa sat down on the couch and patted the spot next to her. “You’re visibly exhausted. You need a break. So take five and talk to me.”
“Fine,” I said, mostly because my head was beginning to throb from all the objects I’d moved. That last tree had been hard to get going. I sat down next to her, and a bit of dirt billowed up from the couch. “This is never going to be clean.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Willa said. “We’ll get this place picked up, and then we can send out our maids to help them clean or something. We’ll get it all taken care of.”
“I hope so.”
“But Wendy, how was your wedding night?” Willa asked.
“You really wanna talk about this?” I groaned and leaned my head on the back of the couch.
“Right now, there’s nothing else I’d like to talk to about.”
“You’re in for a real disappointment,” I said. “Because there’s nothing to tell.”
“It was that bland?” she asked.
“No, it was nothing,” I said. “And I mean literally nothing. We didn’t do anything.”
“Wait.” She leaned back on the couch, as if to look at me better. “You mean that you’re married and still a virgin?”
“That is what I mean.”
“Wendy!” Willa gasped.
“What? Our marriage is weird. Really weird. You know that.”
“I know.” She looked disappointed. “I was hoping you could have a happily ever after is all.”
“Well, it’s not ever after yet,” I pointed out.
“Wendy!” Matt yelled from outside the house. “I need your help with something!”
“Duty calls.” I stood up.
“That was barely even a minute,” Willa said. “You do need to take a break, Wendy. You’re running yourself ragged.”
“I’m fine,” I said as I walked out of the house. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
We worked well into the night. We ended up getting most of the big debris cleared out and piled up. I might have pressed on to do more work for the night, but it was clear that everybody else couldn’t.
“I think we need to call it a night, Wendy,” Loki said. He rested his arms on an overturned refrigerator, leaning on it.
Matt and Willa were sitting on a log next to the pile, and Tove stood next to them, drinking a bottle of water. Only Duncan still helped me as we struggled to pull a shredded mattress from a tracker house. I had to stop using my powers, because it killed my head every time I did.
Only three streetlights in the entire town still worked, and Matt, Willa, Tove, and Loki had taken their break by one. They’d stopped working about fifteen minutes ago, but I insisted that I keep going, even though I was exhausted, and my head felt strange.
“Wendy, come on,” Matt said. “You’ve done as much as you can do.”
“There’s more stuff to do, so clearly I haven’t,” I said.
“Duncan needs a break,” Willa said. “Let’s quit. We can do more tomorrow.”
“I’m fine,” Duncan panted, but I stopped pulling on the mattress long enough to look up at him. He was filthy and haggard. I’d actually never seen him look so terrible.
“Fine. We’re done for the night,” I relented.
We walked back over and sat down on the log next to Matt and Willa. She had a small cooler of water and handed a bottle to each of us. I opened it and drank it greedily. Tove paced in front of us, fidgeting with his bottle cap, and I don’t know how he had the energy to walk that much.
“We’re getting this cleaned up, and that’s good,” Matt said. “But we’re not doing anything to rebuild. We’re not even qualified.”
“I know,” I nodded. “We’ll have to send another team down that can rebuild and do more specialized cleaning. After we get back to Förening, we’ll really have to get people down here.”
“I could work on some blueprints, if you want,” Matt offered. “I can design stuff that’s quick and easy to build but doesn’t look cheap.”
“Yeah, that would be really fantastic,” I said. “It’d be a great step in the right direction.”
Matt was an architect, or at least he would’ve been if I hadn’t dragged him to Förening with me. I’m not entirely sure how he spent his days at the palace, but it would be good for him to work on something. Not to mention that it would be good for Oslinna.