Felipe smiled as the rest of the room exploded in confusion, everyone looking around to work out what was going on.
‘That’s not what comes next,’ the priest said, confused. ‘You say ‘I do.’’
‘No I don’t,’ Felipe said. ‘He does.’ He held his hand out to Artem who took it gladly, pulling Felipe into a hug. ‘Look after her,’ Felipe said in Artem’s ear. ‘She is a beautiful woman.’
‘I know,’ Artem responded. ‘I’m the luckiest man alive.’ Felipe pulled away and took Rowena’s hands in his.
‘Congratulations. I’m sure you will both make a very fine king and queen.’ He kissed her on both cheeks and then on her hands. ‘Good luck.’ He turned away and began walking back down the aisle towards the doors, which had been standing open since Artem, Hans and Vincent had first arrived. Vincent was cowering behind the back pew and Hans was still standing by the door, unsure of what to do.
‘Wait.’ Rowena moved away from Artem’s hold, his hands falling to his sides as she moved down the aisle after the Prince. ‘Where are you going?’
‘I’m not sure,’ Felipe replied. ‘Maybe the Wild Lands. They don’t regulate who can stay there so I’ll probably be safe.’
‘Then don’t go,’ Rowena pleaded. ‘My father has just lost his chief advisor and he needs someone he can trust to help him run the country. You would be perfect for the job.’
‘Rowena, I’m not sure. What about us?’
‘We’re good friends aren’t we?’
‘Yes, but I just stood you up at the altar. I hear women don’t take that too well.’
‘When it’s allowing me to marry the man I love, I think I can make an exception. Artem thinks you’re a good man. I’ve never seen him trust someone so readily before. And I’d miss you.’
‘Really?’ Felipe said skeptically.
‘I would. Because I love you Felipe, not like I love Artem, I could never love anyone else like that, but you’ve been so kind to me. If I knew what it was like to have an older brother I would say you had been one to me. Please don’t leave.’
‘I suppose I can stick around for a bit longer,’ he said, smiling. ‘I’m assuming there will be another wedding soon that we will need to plan and I think I have some expertise in that area.’ They both laughed.
‘Good,’ Rowena said. ‘Because I think I will need you. But don’t tell anyone I told you that.’
‘I promise,’ Felipe said, holding up his hands. ‘But I think there is someone else who deserves some of your time right now.’ He nodded behind Rowena to Artem, who was standing patiently by the altar. ‘I’ll be waiting when you need me.’
Rowena hugged him and turned towards Artem. She took his hands as she reached the altar, suddenly feeling a bit shy.
‘So this is what your world is like,’ Artem said, looking around at the faces staring up at them. ‘Is it always this exciting?’
‘No, that’s only because you’re here.’ Rowena looked up into Artem’s eyes, her heart fluttering. ‘Do you still love me now?’
‘Even with all the extra stuff, the fact that you are going to be queen, your father is a king and you were meant to marry a prince, all that means nothing, because you are what I want. Not your title or your crown or your money. You. Now I know this isn’t much,’ he said reaching into the pocket of his trousers. ‘And it probably isn’t as fancy as the one he gave to you, but it’s all I have.’ He pulled out a small wooden box, and opened the lid to reveal a silver ring with the tiniest of diamonds in the centre. ‘Ena, will you marry me?’
‘Of course I will,’ Rowena said, tears streaming down her cheeks as she threw her arms around him, hugging him as tightly as she could.
‘Well I’m really glad you said that because it could have been really awkward-‘
‘Oh shut up,’ Rowena laughed, putting a hand on the back of Artem’s head and pulling his lips down to meet hers. Hot sparks spread between their two bodies as the pulled each other as close as possible, hanging on as though their lives depended on it, oblivious to the cheering crowd around them.