Epilogue: Four Months Later

The first few weeks after the Vittra attack were rough. I’d broken several bones and dislocated my shoulder. So many of our people needed the healing powers of Aurora and Sara that I refused to use any on myself. I had to heal the old fashioned way.

Everyone was quick to point out that I healed much more quickly because of my Vittra blood, but it was still a rough couple of weeks. Some good things came out of it, though. Like Loki waiting on me hand and foot. Truth be told, he barely left my side.

As soon as I was well enough to attend, we had my mother’s funeral. The entire kingdom turned out, and to my surprise, the King and Queen of the Kanin came, as well as the Queen of the Omte. They came to pay their respects but also to thank us for ending the tyranny of the Vittra.

Oren had set his sights most fervently on the Trylle, but we weren’t the only ones. It wasn’t until the funeral, when so many people came that the crowd overflowed into the street, that I realized what exactly we’d accomplished.

I also got to hear from other Trylle and even other tribes what my mother had done to protect them. The deals she had made, the things she gave up, and all the work she put into keeping the peace. Elora had given so much to the people, and it was so moving to see them truly appreciate it.

Losing Elora made me understand even more the importance of having a mother, and what had been taken from Rhys. Despite the way my “host” mother, Kim, had treated me, I knew she’d done everything out of love, love of a child she’d never even met.

Matt took Rhys to see Kim, where she’s still locked up in an asylum. Matt’s working to repair his relationship with her, although he’s resistant to the idea. Being willing to see her at all is a huge step.

Rhys plans to go to college near the hospital in the fall, so he can start to get to know her. Matt says that Kim is doing a bit better, and if she continues on the road to recovery, she might be released one day.

Matt came back to Förening, though. He says his home is here, and for that I’m grateful. I know I’m an adult with my own kingdom now, but I don’t think I’m ready to that live far away from my brother.

Oslinna is still working on improvements, but Matt has spent a great deal of time helping rebuild. His designs are gorgeous, and it’s been really good for the Trylle people to see a mänks do something so well.

We’re still working against prejudice, and I know it will be a while before they completely give in to the idea that it’s okay for people to marry who they love, no matter if they’re Trylle or mänks or even a tracker. But we’re on the right road.

Before I hang up my crown as Queen, I’m certain we’ll make it legal for anyone to marry whoever they love. Willa’s hoping that it’s sooner rather than later, of course, but she’s been shopping around for a wedding dress since she was eight.

She’s taken a much more active role in our society. Since I was on bed rest when we first came back, she stepped up to handle a lot of the day-to-day work. Which is good, because it gave me someone to hand the reigns over to when I went on my honeymoon.

 Even before the funeral, Tove and I had our marriage annulled. He insisted on it, because he said my and Loki’s auras were blinding him.

Tove seems to be taking our annulment better than our marriage. I appointed him Chancellor, since Tove was still one of my smartest and most trusted confidants. He’s met someone, although he’s been very tight lipped about who it is. I’m hoping that someday soon he’ll open up and let me know who that special someone is.

After we defeated the Vittra, Thomas left, joining his family in another tribe, and I don’t think he’ll be coming back. Finn stayed behind, taking over his father’s duties as head tracker.

It’s still a bit strange seeing Finn around the palace. I don’t love him anymore, not like I did, although I don’t think I can ever truly stop caring for him. He was my first love, and he was immensely important to me becoming the Queen I am today.

At first, he was cold and distant, but the ice between us seems to be melting. We’re on the path to becoming friends again, and that’s something.

I saw him flirting with a girl from Oslinna, and I’d expected to feel some jealousy, but I didn’t. Only genuine happiness for him. I want Finn to be happy, and honestly, I don’t think that I was the right person to do that.

And Loki… well, Loki has hardly left my side since we came back, but I wouldn’t let him into my bed until he made an honest woman of me. So he did.

 Two weeks ago in the garden, beneath the spring flowers, we had a small wedding, much different than my first one. This time, it was only my closest friends in attendance, including my aunt Maggie. But its greatest difference was that I wanted this wedding, and I married a man that I desperately love.

Maggie’s been staying with us for a few weeks, and it’s mostly been wonderful. She still hasn’t completely wrapped her mind around everything that’s going on here, but she took to Rhys immediately. Thankfully, he’s spent the last week keeping her entertained so Loki and I could have a little bit of time to ourselves.

Unfortunately, there’s never enough time. The nights seem too short, and the sun always seems to come up too early when I’m still snuggled in bed with Loki. Usually, he wants to sleep in as much as I do, but not today.

He opened the shades, so the morning light shone in too brightly, and I squeezed my eyes shut and buried my face in the pillow.

“Aw, Wendy.” Loki knelt down on the floor next to the bed and brushed the hair back from my eyes. “You knew today was coming.”

“I know, but I didn’t want it come.” I opened my eyes so I could look at him, smiling at me even though his eyes were pained. “I shouldn’t have let you agree to this.”

“You don’t let me,” Loki laughed. “I’m the King. Nobody tells me what to do.”

“That’s what you think,” I scoffed, making him laugh harder.

“But seriously, my love, are you going to get up and see me off today?” Loki asked. He took my hand in his, kissing it. “You don’t have to, of course. I know how mornings have been for you lately.”

“No, if you’re going to leave, I want to say goodbye,” I sighed. “But you better hurry back.”

“As quickly as I can,” he smiled. “Nothing in the world will keep me from my Queen.”

I threw the covers off me and went into the closet to get dressed. We were having a whole ceremony to see Loki off, so I had to choose a nice gown, and I’d even have to wear my crown. I avoided it for the most part, since it made me feel silly, but I had to put it on for formal occasions.

Loki was already dressed for the day. I’d felt him get up about an hour ago. I kept sleeping, though, since I’d been so tired lately. I’d like to say it was because of how worn out Loki had left me on our honeymoon, and while that was definitely part of the reason, it wasn’t all of it.

“How are you feeling this morning?” Loki asked. He leaned against the closet door, watching me as I pulled on a dark emerald gown.

“Other than being sad, I’m okay.” I slipped the dress on, but I couldn’t zip it up myself, so I turned my back to him. “A little help, please.”

“You really ought to get a lady in waiting or something,” Loki said as he struggled with the zipper. “These things are impossible to get on.”

“That’s what husbands are for,” I teased. He continued to yank at the zipper, and it finally went up. But I knew what the problem was, why my dresses were so hard to get on anymore.

From behind me, Loki reached around me, holding his hand against the snugness in my middle, and he kissed my shoulder.

“We’re going to have to tell them soon,” Loki said, hugging me.

“I know,” I sighed. “But not until you get back, okay? I don’t want to have to deal with all the talking and questions unless you’re with me.” I turned around so I was facing him. “That means you’ll have to hurry back soon.”

“As if I needed another reason to convince me.” He smiled and playfully tugged at my silver curl, the strand of hair that refused to stay in place anymore.

Loki kissed me deeply, holding me to him, and he still made my knees go weak. I kept expecting that feeling to fade, but every time he touched me, I felt it all the same.

We went down to the throne room for the ceremony. Sara was already waiting for us, along with Finn working as head guard and Tove working as the Chancellor. Sara had been here since last night, so she could ride with Loki in a gesture of solidarity.

Loki and I sat on our thrones, waiting until everyone else arrived before beginning the ceremony. I had met with Markis Bain last night, and he had gone over all the right words I should say. Uniting kingdoms had happened so rarely in our history, but apparently there was still a script I should follow.

Once everyone was here, Loki and Sara took their places in front of me. I stood up and did my best to recite the words that Bain had taught me. I think I muddled up the middle part, but the basic idea was that we were uniting the Vittra and Trylle, pledging to work together, and all that.

As a part of the deal, Loki was going back to the Vittra to help them rebuild. Their society had completely crumbled once I killed the King. Sara was doing her best to hold it together, but without intervention, it would fall apart. 

“Since you both agree to work together in peace and respect, I say this union is complete,” I said, finishing up the ceremony. “You may now… work together.”

“Thank you.” Sara gathered her skirts and curtseyed to me.

“Thank you.” Loki bowed with a smirk on his face.

“And you’ll only be gone for two weeks?” I asked him.

“Two weeks is the absolute maximum, and then I’ll be right back at your side,” Loki assured me.

“I promise not to keep him any longer than I need him,” Sara added. Her eyes were warm when she smiled at me. I didn’t want to lend my husband out to her, but she had saved his life. And it would be better if the Vittra worked to become our allies instead of our enemies.

Loki kissed me, even though it wasn’t polite. A King and Queen were never supposed to show public affection, but Loki broke that rule as often as he could. Although, to be honest, I didn’t do much to enforce it.

“Hurry back to me,” I whispered.

“As you wish,” Loki smiled.                  

As he turned to leave, I felt that familiar flutter in my stomach. Not the one out of love for Loki, but something different, something alive inside of me. I put my hand on my stomach, holding it as if to calm the baby.

The night Loki and I had spent together while I was still married to Tove had resulted in a small surprise. I’d told Loki weeks ago, and even though we were both frightened, we were both really excited. We were first-time parents, but we would also be the first royal Trylle parents. My child wouldn’t be a changeling.

I know that changelings couldn’t go away overnight. Our society still needed a lot of restructuring before everything would change, and we could stop being dependent on the money the changelings brought in.

But we were working on it every day, Loki and I, and Willa, Tove, and even Finn. We were going to turn the Trylle into something they should’ve been all along. A great people with a great appreciation for each other and for life.

I will make this world a better place, whether they like it or not. That’s the fun of being Queen.