“Fine.” Willa held up her hands like she didn’t care, but I could tell she still was irritated. “You do what you want. That is your right.”
“Let’s work on the wedding for now.” Aurora looked down at me. “Who did you want in your wedding party?”
“Um…” I shrugged. “Willa should be my maid of honor, obviously.”
“Thank you.” Willa gave Aurora a smug smile.
“Of course.” Aurora smiled thinly at her and scribbled down Willa’s name on a piece of paper. “What about the rest of your party?”
“I don’t know.” I shook my head. “I don’t really know that many people here.”
“Excellent. I’ve compiled a list for you.” Aurora grabbed a three-page list from off the table and handed it to me. “Here are upstanding eligible young Marksinna that would make perfect bridesmaids.”
“This is just their names and a few random facts,” I said, looking over the list. “Kenna Tomas has black hair, freckles, and her father is the Markis of Oslinna. That means nothing to me. I’m supposed to pick strangers off a list based on their hair color?”
“If you’d like, I can pick them for you,” Aurora offered. “But I did list them from most desirable to least desirable to make it easier for you, although they are all acceptable choices.”
“I can help her,” Willa said, taking the list from me before Aurora had a chance to. “I know a lot of these girls.”
She immediately flipped to the end of the list, and I felt a small satisfaction in knowing she’d pick the ones that Aurora liked least.
“Can’t I just have Willa?” I asked. “I’m sure Tove doesn’t have that many friends for groomsmen either. We could have a small wedding.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Aurora said. “You’re a Princess. You can’t have a small wedding.”
“Aurora is right,” Willa said, sounding sad to be agreeing with her. “You need to have a huge wedding. You have to let them know that you’re a Princess to be reckoned with.”
“Don’t they already know that?” I asked honestly, and Willa shrugged.
“It doesn’t hurt to remind them.”
“Since your father is out of the picture, Noah can walk you down the aisle,” Aurora said, writing something else on her paper.
“Noah?” I asked. “Your husband?”
“Yes, he’s a suitable choice,” Aurora replied offhandedly.
“But I barely know him,” I said.
“Well, you can’t walk down alone,” Aurora said, giving me an annoyed look.
“Why can’t Matt walk me down?” I asked. “He practically raised me anyway.”
“Matt?” Aurora was confused, and when she remembered who he was, she wrinkled her nose in disgust. “That human boy? Absolutely not. He shouldn’t even be living in the palace, and if others were to find out he was here, you’d be the laughingstock of the kingdom.”
“Then … fine.” I scrambled to think of someone other than Noah. “What about Garrett?”
“Garrett Strom?” Aurora was appalled, but I think it was because he was actually an acceptable candidate.
“He is nearly her stepfather,” Willa pointed out with a sly smile. Having her father walk me down the aisle would give her and her family more prestige.
That wasn’t why I picked him, though. I actually liked Garrett, and he was the closest thing I had to a decent father figure around here.
“If it is as the Princess wishes,” Aurora said, and grudgingly she crossed out her husband’s name and wrote Garrett’s instead.
They continued that way for a while, and eventually I had to excuse myself. I needed a break from their subtle jabs and bickering. I wandered down the hall. My plan only went so far as to be anywhere that they weren’t.
As I got closer to the War Room, I heard voices. I stopped and poked my head inside. The pasty Chancellor sat at the desk with a stack of papers spread out before him. Finn and Tove stood on the other side of the desk, talking, and Thomas was at the bookshelves, searching for something.
“What are you guys doing?” I asked as I came into the room.
“The boys here have an idiotic plan, and I’m indulging them,” the Chancellor said.
“It’s not idiotic,” Finn said, glaring at the Chancellor, who was too busy dabbing sweat from his forehead to notice.
“We’re trying to find a way to extend the truce,” Tove explained. “We’re going through old treaties with the Vittra and any other tribes to see if we have a precedent.”
“Have you found anything?” I asked.
I went over to the desk and touched some of the papers. Most of them were written in a language I didn’t understand. It was all symbols, almost like Russian or Arabic. When I looked in the library, I’d found that to be common of the older documents.
“Nothing useful yet, but we only just started,” Tove said.
“You won’t find anything useful.” The Chancellor shook his head. “The Vittra never extend their deals.”
“What kinds of things could extend the truce?” I asked, ignoring the Chancellor.
“We don’t know, exactly,” Tove admitted. “But often there are loopholes in the language that we can use against them.”
“Loopholes?” I asked.
“Yeah, like Rumpelstiltskin,” Finn said. “They usually throw in something clever like that when they make a deal. It seems impossible, but sometimes you can break it.”
“I heard the deal. They didn’t say anything like that,” I said. “Except that the peace only lasts until I become Queen. What if I never become Queen?”
“No, you need to be Queen,” Finn said and picked up a stack of papers.
“But that would make indefinite peace, wouldn’t it?” I asked. “If I was never Queen.”
“I doubt it,” Tove said. “The King would find a way around it eventually, and it would only make him more pissed when he finally did.”
“But…” I trailed off and sighed. “So he’ll find his way around anything, including an extension. Why are you even bothering?”
“An extension isn’t our goal.” Tove met my eyes. “We’ll settle for a temporary fix if it’s all we can find, but we want to find something that will end this.”