Four months later…
I stood off to one side, watching the couple dance happily in the middle of the crowd. Their matching caramel brown heads bent together, whispering to each other.
Imogen was radiate in her stunning white dress that Melanie had designed personally for her. After having been locked up together for hours, Imogen had offered for Melanie to work for her personally. Melanie, in turn, was more than thrilled to be the personal maid and seamstress to the Princess.
Once the dance was over, Erik went to reclaim his bride from her father, sweeping her into his arms. Nikolas excused himself and with hobbling was assisted to his seat by his son. Once Laurie made sure his father was comfortable, he walked out onto one the balconies and seemed to disappear.
Nikolas never did fully recover from his poisoning at Tristan's hands, but he was alive. He awoke from his stupor about two days after the showdown in the Hall. To say he was surprised by what had happened would have been a gross understatement. However, he was proud of his son and how the situation was eventually handled.
However, Laurie still sat upon his father's throne. Nikolas knew that his strength was never to return to the way it was and he trusted Laurie to act on his behalf. Nikolas was still very involved and helped guide his son through the intricacies of ruling an entire country. For this we were all eternally grateful.
Laurie took his duties much more seriously than any of us had expected him to. It was quite clear that this was what he was born to do and I no longer had any more doubts about his ability to be King.
Even though the King lived, everything did not go as planned. Erik and Henrik had taken Tristan from the Hall and put him in the highest tower and under constant surveillance by Guards who were trusted not to let him escape. Those who had sided with Tristan were exiled and if they were seen in Älvor again, their lives would be forfeit. However, Tristan did escape. No one is quite sure how it happened. When it came for the Guards to change the new guard found the old one unconscious on the floor and the door to Tristan's cell wide open. Wherever he went, he was not to be found and since he had stayed away this long, we all desperately hoped to never see him again.
Once his son had escaped for a second time, Damian choose to retired from the House. It would seem he knew he would never retrieve the good graces of Nikolas and decided to live out his days in a small village a few hours away. Bianca, though mortified by her brother's treachery, decided not to follow her father. I thought she was too much in love with Laurie to ever truly leave him behind. Besides, he never gave any indication he wanted to forfeit their marriage agreement.
However, this was not a day to dwell on the past or Tristan for that matter. Today was the day Erik and Imogen were wed. They made such a striking pair and their happiness was infectious.
"May I steal you away for a moment?" whispered a deep voice from behind me.
"Of course, my love," I responded, looping my arms through Donovan's as he lead us out into the warm spring air. We wondered allow one the paths through the gardens, enjoying the heady scent of roses surrounding us.
In the weeks following Donovan's injury, I hardly ever left him. I even slept by his side in case he was ever in need of me. It was high improper, but Donovan and I were very irregular people. Nothing about us could have ever been called normal and we were more than happy to keep it that way.
As soon as he was well again, we continued my training. Donovan ensured me that if progress was consistently being made, that he would recommend me to Nikolas for promotion within the next year. This helped to solidify mine and Donovan's ambitions about my being the first female full member of the Guard.
Donovan paused by one of the benches and urged me to sit. Pulling the knife from his boot he cut a small pink rose bud and stripped it of its thrones. When he offered it to me, I was more than happy to accept it. I slowly raised it to my nose and smelled it.
"Will you not sit?" I asked when I noticed how he stood there almost awkwardly shifting his feet.
"Marcy, there was a reason I brought you out here," he remarked.
"And I am sure it has nothing to do with roses," I said, patting the place beside me.
Donovan slowly lowered himself to the seat and reached for my hands. He ran the pads of thumbs over my knuckles and he paused to fiddle with the gold ring which still rested upon my finger. He wore his as well, so I wasn't sure why he was so intent on it.
"You know I love you, do you not?" he whispered.
"As I love you."
Donovan cleared his throat and carefully shifted until he was on bended knee before me. I sucked in my breath.
"Marcy, I knew we have not been together for very long, but I cannot think of anyone who I would rather share my life with. I would never hurt you or betray you. I would fill your life with love, happiness and maybe one day children. So, I must ask you: will you marry me?" He paused before adding with a wink: "For real this time."
My heart was so full of love for his elf that I didn't even have to think of my answer. It flowed so naturally from my lips.
"Yes, I will."