I give her a look to shut up. “No. It’s not. Okay, how about we all sit in silence until the ride is over.”
“Agreed,” Einar says from the driver’s seat. “You people never shut up. No offense, sir.”
“None taken.” I always knew one day Einar would snap.
The silence is short-lived because before long we’re pulling up alongside Oslo’s harbor. Even though it’s April, it’s still fairly cold out and the harbor is pretty quiet, just a few tall ships and fishing boats.
I help Ella out of the car and lead her down along the cobblestones of the harbor’s edge, past the Nobel Peace Prize Museum. Seagulls cry out and whirl above our heads.
“We’re by the ocean,” she says, breathing in deep with a smile on her face. “Ahh. It smells like spring.” She pauses. “Are we going sailing?”
It’s at this point I know that I’ll have to take the blindfold off.
I glance down at the docks below us.
Right there at the end of the dock is a black inflatable-hull boat, about twenty-feet long, with rows of seats and storage compartments at the back, as well as a giant propeller motor that must weigh a ton.
“Are you ready?” I ask her, positioning her so that she’s facing the water and the boat. “Just keep in mind if you step forward any more, you’re going to tumble into the sea.”
She stiffens. “What?”
“Relax,” I tell her, slipping one arm around her waist. “I’ve got you.” With my other hand I pull loose the blindfold and it’s swept away by the breeze. Damn it. I could have used that later.
She doesn’t know where to look for a minute and then she gasps, probably because she’s on the edge about ten feet above the docks. I hold her back against me so she’s not going anywhere and wait for her to really see it.
When she does, she gasps.
“Oh my god!’
“Surprise!” I tell her, kissing her cheek. “There’s your first official boat.”
The boat has the logo of her environmental organization at the front of the ship—Ocean Crusaders. At the back of the boat, there’s the actual name of the vessel.
She bursts out laughing when she sees it. “You didn’t!”
I grin at her, so happy this is her reaction. “I did.”
She turns around to stare at me with wide, awestruck eyes. “Magnus. I can’t believe you did this.”
I’d been planning on doing it for a while. Ella just stared up her organization and while she’s knee-deep in sorting everything out and hiring people and figuring out the next plan of action, I wanted to show her how much I support her goals and her dreams. She’s out to make a difference in the world, and I’ll do everything I can to help her do that, personally and politically as well.
“I know you’re just getting it off the ground and probably won’t need a boat for a little while longer but when you do, whether you’re going to go free Willy or yell at tourists for getting too close to endangered rocks or something, this is your vessel.”
“Congratulations,” Jane says, clapping. “Now, do we get to go on it?”
I raise my hand. “I’m driving.”
“Oh, hell no,” Ottar says. “Einar should drive.”
“Actually, I’m driving,” Ella says, holding her hand out for the key.
“Is that so?” I ask while I reach into my pocket and pull it out.
“It’s my boat,” she says smartly. I place it on her hand and she snatches it up with a grin. “This will be the closest I’ll get to your adrenaline sports, Magnus, mark my words.”
We’ll see about that, I think, following her down the gangplank to the docks.
“Hey, does sex count as an adrenaline sport?” I ask.
She shakes her head. “Honestly, Magnus.”
“Yeah, honestly Magnus,” Jane adds.
A year later
“I now pronounce you husband and wife, again,” Erik says. “You may kiss the bride.”
I grin at Magnus as he leans in, cupping my face with his palm. His eyes twinkle with love and adoration and a hint of something wicked before his lips press against mine and he envelopes me in a long, slow kiss. A sweet spring breeze picks up and flows through us, bringing the smell of glacial water and flowers.
Everyone claps and cheers.
And by everyone, I mean everyone that matters the most to us.
All of Magnus’s sisters.
There’s my father, and, low and behold, my brothers, most of whom spend their time ogling Magnus’s sisters, even after being told off by Cristina, but hey, at least they’re here.
There’s Viktor and Maggie.
There’s Harold, Maud and Guillermo.
And of course, Slender Man, our officiant. Apparently, it became a side business of his right after I first met him.
There are even two wedding photographers, Russian twins that Magnus likes to call the T-1000. I guess because they tend to be everywhere, Magnus just went right ahead and hired them, just to make it official. If you can’t beat them, join them.
Or hire them, as it were.
We’ve all been gathered on the top of Kjerag mountain where Magnus usually does his BASE jumping. And even though that’s not out of the question today, the reason we were really here was to renew our vows.
Yup. We’ve only been married for over a year, but Magnus had the crazy notion a couple of months ago that we should do it right this time.
Now, I happen to think that the nationally-televised wedding we had was doing it right, but I saw where Magnus was coming from. Mainly, he wanted this to be something that the both of us planned, that was under our control. Most of all, he wanted to get the proposal right all over again. I’m not sure that question time was all that official.
So, he got down on one knee and proposed and gave me a ring that he picked out himself—diamonds and orange garnets—and with that, we were doing things honestly. We’re not starting over, far from that, but at least it got to be on our terms.
The truth is, a lot has happened in a year.
My non-profit organization, Ocean Crusaders, managed to stop illegal fishing vessels off the coast of Iceland and we started a campaign to eliminate whaling in Norway by 2025. It’s been a slow process and there’s a lot of opposition, but that doesn’t stop us or scare us. In fact, one of the things that keeps us going is the youth in this country. They’re numerous, passionate and progressive and it’s through their voices, particularly through the high schools, that a lot of the changes have already begun.
It just gets me so excited to get out of bed every day and see what kind of challenge I’ll be up against with all these like-minded people at my side. It gives me hope and light and peace to know that surely but steadily I’m making a difference and I’m giving a voice to the powerless. This is exactly what my dreams have been made of and now I’m finally living it, with the man I love at my side.
We still don’t have a dog yet. But I’m working on it.
As for my father, we’re definitely closer. I visit him every few months for “diplomatic business” which is really just hot-air ballooning with him and Schnell (it’s his new hobby). We talk a lot, sometimes about business, mostly about my mother. It’s nice to know that I have that relationship with him but it’s also nice to know that I don’t need it to validate me.
On the other side of the family, the King has made a full recovery, but Magnus has really stepped up in his role of heir. He’s balancing his ADHD with mild medication and spending a lot of his time focusing on that aspect of his life. He’s attending all the high council meetings, as well as meetings with the prime minister. They still don’t get along, but at least there is respect. He’s also acting as King Regent and traveling on behalf of his father when he doesn’t feel up to going.
I couldn’t be more proud of him, taking on the new responsibilities with the same kind of zest and gusto that he has for other things in life.
But of course, he’s still Magnus.
And we wouldn’t be up here at the top of this cliff if he didn’t have some dastardly plan to jump off of it.
“As you all know,” Magnus says to the small crowd, “this is a very special place to me.” We’re gathered about twenty-feet back from the edge. It’s been a hell of a climb to get here so there wasn’t much to the actual ceremony because we couldn’t transport anything up the mountain (except for all the old folks—they were dropped off by royal helicopter) and all of us are wearing layers of warm clothing to deal with the high altitude.
But Magnus just renewed his vows in a flight suit and it seems that Viktor and Ottar are wearing the same thing.
I shake my head. They can’t all be going, can they?
“So special you have to launch yourself off of it,” the King says dryly.
“You are correct, Father.” Magnus nods. “Originally I thought that it would be fun to renew our vows and then jump off together.” He glances at me and my unimpressed expression. “But, of course, Ella here quickly shot down that idea.”
“I have my reasons,” I tell him.
I’ve told quite a few people here of my reasons too.
He’ll find out pretty soon.
“Anyway,” Magnus goes on, “I did convince Ottar and Viktor to do it with me. The rest of you are still welcome, I have some extra suits.”
“You know the cliff didn’t get any shorter,” Mari points out. “It’s still the most dangerous sport in the world.”
“Not any more dangerous than marriage,” Magnus says to me with a wink.
I have to laugh, even though I’m a bit nervous.
It’s not about him jumping. No, I trust that he knows exactly what he’s doing.
It’s about everything else.