I woke up in Aaron’s bed the morning of The Coronation. I felt him breathing against my neck and smiled. To know this is settled will make peace, which I don’t know if I built for, easier. I slide my hand to my stomach.
I haven’t told him. We’ve been careless, too happy, and full of grief and relief. And I don’t know if it’s real. My period should have come last week, and it didn’t.
“Come back to me,” Aaron whispered in my ear. I laughed and rolled over.
“I didn’t mean to go away,” I said, he smiled and kissed me softly. “Aaron,” I whispered, “If,” I sighed, “I know we said we’d wait for the wedding and I’m happy to.” He brushed my hair out of my face. “But, well, we may need it to be earlier.”
“Oh,” he said, “oh I see.” I swallowed. “Are you sure?”
“No,” I said softly, “I’m late is all, I’ll see a midwife, but I didn’t want,” he nodded.
“Did you think I’d abandon you?” He asked. I shook my head.
“Never,” I said softly. “You would have by now.” He smiled and pulled me close.
“What do you need me to do?” He asked. I laughed.
“Nothing,” I sighed and stood up, “I suppose if I’m not I’ll have to start using Whip Willow, ugh,” he laughed.
“Or we could just stop sleeping together,” he shrugged. I glanced over my shoulder at him and rolled my eyes. “It’s a suggestion.”
“Mm,” I sighed and looked in the mirror.
“Are you in uniform today?” He asked. I piled my hair on my head.
“For the ceremony,” I explained, “then a gown for the ball.” He nodded. “Why?” He rolled over and pulled out a box. “Aaron,” I muttered, and opened it.
There was a small pendant on a green ribbon, with the crest of Pantona, wheat with a sun rising behind it, on one side, and two A’s intertwined on the other.
“You don’t have to wear it if you don’t want,” he said, “I don’t know if it’s still done.” I kissed him.
“I love it,” I said, “and I don’t care, I’ll bring it back in fashion, put it on me please.” He laughed and slid on the betrothment necklace. It isn’t really done anymore, not even at court, but I love that he did it. I have my mother’s still.
“You’re my family now,” he whispered, “whatever comes next.” I kissed him gently. “With the coronation settled, I want to announce it officially.”
“Alright,” I said, “but we have to do the negotiations first.”
“Right,” he mumbled, “that.” I raised my eyebrows. “Me and Tristan?”
“You can’t negotiate for yourself,” I shook my head. “You have to choose someone.” He sighed and ran his hands through his hair. “This is important to me.”
“I know that love,” he said, “and I suppose Lisette can do it.” I looked at him. “Do you want to do it before, or after I bury my father?” That was sharper than I expected from him.
“Well, that depends, doesn’t it?” I snapped back. He exhaled. “But if I’m going to have your child, it makes no difference to my people if it’s born before we marry. That’s your side of it.”
“Please don’t be mad at me today,” he said walked over and slid his arms around me. “I become irrelevant today, as if it wasn’t made clear by Harran last night.” I giggled. I liked Prince Harran, the heir of border tribes.
He knew Lisette and Aaron well, as his father had sent him to Pantona three years ago. While she’d managed most of the suitors coldly and politely, she’d clearly gone weak in the knees around Harran. I couldn’t say I blamed her, he was well over six feet tall, completely muscled and was also charming and clearly adored her. If I weren’t spoken for, I’d have gone for him myself. But the fact that anyone could turn her head besides Tristan made the truth of the future painfully clear for Aaron.
She would marry, and he wouldn’t be the person she turned to first anymore.
“Fine,” I sighed, “we’ll discuss it later, and we both have work to do today. I’ll see you at the ball.” He kissed me, and his hand slid to my stomach.
“I’d be happy, Thena,” he said. I smiled at him. “Truly.”