A month after Peran’s death, my father came to visit me. Natsuki and Mizuki led him into the courtyard, eyeing me nervously.
“Lucia.” My father’s voice was commanding, but it didn’t affect me as it used to. “This has gone on long enough. The dressmaker is here for your sister’s fitting and has brought a gown for you as well.”
“Gown?” He couldn’t mean a second wedding dress, but my heart swelled at the thought of having a double wedding with Luna, even if she was marrying Reiner and Peran would only be a spirit.
“Yes. You and the Sekai twins will be bridesmaids.” Natsuki and Mizuki grinned with excitement at the king’s words. “You will show a strong face to the public, even if you spend your private time in sorrow.”
I grit my teeth and glared at him. He didn’t care about my heartache one bit. All he cared about was the family’s image and celebrating his obedient daughter.
“Princess Lucia.” Mizuki said excitedly, her green eyes shining. “Isn’t this exciting?”
“Bridesmaids.” Natsuki breathed dreamily, her blue eyes copying her sister’s.
Of course they’d be excited. They’d come from another country with their father on his merchant ship and stayed behind to learn about our culture. They’d probably never imagined attending a grand wedding ceremony, let alone being part of one.
“I… will attend.” I offered. “For Luna.”
My father’s eyes narrowed. “Lucia, I have been patient with you until now. But your actions are starting to hurt this family.” His eyes wandered down to Peran’s band in my hands. “After Luna’s wedding, we will select your new Guardian. It’s time you put this in the past.”
“No!” I protested, but he’d already turned away.
“The dressmaker will see you in one hour.” He added before the door closed behind him.
I’d heard people describe anger and rage as a fire of burning courage that heats a person’s skin from the inside out. My anger must have been much stronger, because I felt no heat. My blood slid through my veins like ice. The hair that I could see in front of my face paled in my vision, frosted by hatred.
In front of me, Mizuki stepped away, fear making her cower behind her sister.
“Lucia?” Natsuki called out tentatively. “Are you alright.”
“Leave.” I told my friends.
Mizuki walked backwards to the door, but Natsuki didn’t budge.
“Lucia, you’re shaking.” Natsuki looked around the courtyard and frowned. “It must be freezing out here. There’s frost everywhere. Should we bring you a blanket?”
“Leave.” I repeated. My hands shook, so I slipped Peran’s band in my pocket to keep it safe. “Enjoy the wedding. Take Ellen with you. Make sure Skyler catches the bouquet.”
Natsuki stepped forward and put a hand on my arm. “Lucia, we’re all worr—”
“I said leave!” I screamed, pushing her back.
She stumbled back and, for a moment, I thought the shock on her face was from my force. Then she slumped to the ground, a red stain spreading across her chest.
“Natsuki!” Mizuki screamed, running to her sister’s side. “Lucia, what happened?! Natsuki, hold on!”
I took in the rest of the scene. Three long icicles stuck out of Natsuki’s chest. She was shivering as she gasped for breath. “Mi…zu…”
“Just stay still!” Mizuki looked up at me. “I need to get help.” She said before running from the room.
I met Natsuki’s eyes and watched as they glazed over. Her hands stopped shivering and she stared at the sky. Frost spread over her limbs.
I took one last look at Peran’s memorial, then left the yard.