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“You want me to kill the King,” I said. “You want to extend the deadline so I have more time to train.”

Tove and Finn wouldn’t meet my eyes, so I knew I’d gotten it right. They expected me to kill my father.


fairy tale

Thomas grabbed a large book from the bookshelf and dropped it on the desk with a heavy thud. Dust rose from the leather cover. Tove had been so busy avoiding my gaze that he jumped when the book banged.

“That might be of some help.” Thomas motioned to the book. “But it’s written in Tryllic.”

“What’s Tryllic?” I asked, eager to change the subject to something that wasn’t patricide.

“It’s the old Trylle language,” Finn explained, and pointed to the papers I’d seen written in a symbolic language. “Only Tove is any good at reading it.”

“It’s a dead language,” the Chancellor said. “I don’t know how anyone knows it anymore.”

“It’s not that hard.” Tove reached for the book. He opened the pages, letting out a musty odor. “I can teach you sometime, if you’d like.”

“I should learn it,” I said. “But not right now. We’re trying to find a way to extend this thing, right? How can I help?”

“Look through the papers.” Finn sifted through some on the table and handed me a small stack. “See if you can find anything about treaties or truces, even if it’s not with the Vittra. Anything that might help.”

Tove sat in one of the distressed leather chairs to read the book. I sat down on the floor with my stack of papers, preparing to dig into Trylle legalese. It always seemed to be written in riddles and limericks. A lot of it was hard to understand, and I had to ask for interpretations.

I didn’t feel so bad about that, though, when Tove called Finn over to help him understand a passage. Finn leaned over the chair so he could peer down at the page, and he and Tove discussed what it meant.

I thought about how strange it was that Finn and Tove got along so well. Finn seemed to turn into a jealous freak whenever I flirted with a guy, but I was engaged to Tove, and he seemed perfectly okay with him.

Finn looked up from the book, and his eyes met mine, only for a second before he looked away. I saw something in them, a longing I missed, and I wondered again if I had made the right decision.

“Princess?” Aurora called from the hallway.

I’d only been sitting on the floor, reading pages, but she probably wouldn’t approve of it. I jumped to my feet and set the papers on the desk to avoid a lecture about ladylike behavior.

“Princess?” Aurora said again, and she poked her head into the room. “Ah, there you are. And you’re with Tove. Perfect. We need you to go over engagement details.”

“Oh. Right.” Tove set the book aside and gave me an awkward smile. “Wedding stuff. We have to do that now.”

“Yeah.” I nodded.

I glanced over at Finn. His expression had hardened, but he didn’t look up. Tove and I followed Aurora out as she talked about the things we needed to do for the wedding, and I looked over my shoulder at Finn.

Aurora held Tove and me hostage for far too long, and Willa couldn’t lighten the mood. It would’ve been so much easier if Aurora and Willa were just marrying each other. By the time Aurora let us go, even Willa was relieved to escape.

Duncan was waiting for me, and we went down to the kitchen to eat supper together. Tove went to the War Room to work, and Willa said she had plans. I knew I should be helping Tove, but I was starving. I had to get something to eat first.

I talked to Duncan about what Tove and Finn were researching, and how some of the papers were written in Tryllic. Duncan said he thought he’d seen a book on Tryllic upstairs in Rhys’s living room, which made sense because he’d explained that a lot of mänks went through a phase where they tried to learn it.

I didn’t really need to learn it this second, but I wanted to get a feel for the language. As soon as we were done eating, I headed up to the living room. The door was shut, but most doors in the palace were kept closed, and I opened it without knocking.

I hadn’t been trying to be sneaky, but since Matt and Willa didn’t hear me, I must’ve been awfully quiet. Or maybe they were too caught up in the moment.

Willa was lying on her back on the couch, and Matt was on top of her. She had on a short dress, the way she always seemed to, and Matt had his hand on her thigh, pushing her hem up. Her other leg was wrapped around his waist, and she buried her fingers in his sandy hair as they kissed.

“Oh, my god!” I gasped. I didn’t mean to, but it just came out.

“Wendy!” Willa shrieked, and Matt jumped off her.

“What’s going on?” Duncan asked from behind me and tried to push past me, so he could protect me if he needed to.

“Quiet!” Willa hissed, fixing her dress so all her parts were a bit more covered. “Shut the door!”

“Oh, right.” I pulled the door shut and averted my eyes from Willa and Matt.

They weren’t doing anything particularly graphic, but I’d never seen Matt in any compromising situations before. He hardly ever dated, and he almost never brought girls home. It was bizarre thinking of him getting sexy with someone.

When I glanced up at Matt, his cheeks were red, and he wouldn’t lift his head. His hair was messed up, and he kept smoothing out the wrinkles in his shirt. Some of Willa’s lipstick had rubbed off on his cheek and mouth, but I didn’t have the guts to tell him about it.