I awoke one morning to find Skyler sweeping the courtyard. When I sat up, he gave me a smile, but continued his work.
“The guards think you’re protesting.” He told me. “Like, if your father doesn’t acknowledge your marriage to Peran, you aren’t leaving this room.”
“He doesn’t have to acknowledge it.” I grumbled. “No one does.”
“I know.” He chuckled. “Peran would have eloped with you if you weren’t the princess. All he cared about was the two of you being together.”
I sat quietly while he worked. The silence was calming. Skyler always had that affect when he was in the room. While my father’s Air Guardian had been like a tornado, Skyler was a gentle breeze.
“Luna’s officially engaged.” He told me. “To Reiner.”
“What?!” I stood at the news. “Him?!”
“And your father approves.”
“Well, I don’t!” My hands clenched into fists around Peran’s band. “I’ll never hand the king’s crown to him!” Again, I felt a stab in my heart, remembering that Peran would never wear the crown. Never sit beside me on our thrones.
“Luna’s happy.” Skyler added, leaning his broom against the wall. “She’s been in love with Reiner for years.”
I kicked at the stone path that lead to Peran’s memorial. “I know that. That’s why she made him her guard. So he’d always be close.”
“He’s not a bad person.” Skyler assured me.
“What about Seraphina?!” I challenged him. “She thinks he’s going to replace her!”
Skyler’s cheeks flushed. Seraphina was the only thing that could break through his calm façade. “Sera will be fine. Now that he’s marrying Luna, Reiner’s no longer eligible to be a Guardian.”
He was right. Peran would have had to find a successor when we got engaged officially. That was why we were putting it off.
Skyler walked closer, but made sure he was still at a respectful distance. “Luna wants you to be a part of the wedding.”
“She’s your sister.”
“I hate him.”
“But you love her.”
“I love Peran.” My tone of voice left no room for corrections. “I have affection for my sister, but Peran is the only person I love.”
I was numb. I’d been numb for days. When Peran’s body wend cold, so did mine. And finally, someone understood.
Skyler’s eyes grew wide for a moment before he got his shock and realization under control. “Lucia.” His hand raised, then dropped. “The world isn’t ending. You told Sera that Peran was still with you. Wouldn’t he want you to move forward?”
“Maybe.” My heart seized with longing. “But I can’t. He was the one who knew how.”
Reluctantly, Skyler nodded. “We’re all here for you.” He waved his hand and a strong wind pushed past me. Leaves and dirt were pushed from my dress and hair, but nothing about me was displaced. “We’ve all pledged to protect you, no matter what. That includes from loneliness.”
Despite everything, I smiled. “Thank you, Skyler.”
He bowed and, grabbing his broom, left the courtyard.
The morning was cold and I shivered. Looking down, I saw frost covered most of the ground. But the trees were untouched. So was Peran’s memorial.