Addie burst out laughing at the idea that a three-year-old could be either of those things. Viv joined in a moment later, while Reggie, unbeknownst to his sister or his fiancée, listened at the door. He had been hoping to take refuge in the attic while Valentine and Coramund held an audience with General Matthias, but as soon as he’d heard Viv talking about her family, he had pressed his ear to the door. Reggie had been on edge since his ‘talk’ with his mother. Convincing his father to go to the hunting lodge was easy. Convincing him to stay was the tricky part. One week was all that Valentine had originally wanted. Reggie knew he could come back safely after a week, but he was desperate to stay away from Coramund and Viv. The last thing he wanted was more pressure and anxiety. After much begging and coercing on his part, Reggie had finally been able to convince his father to stay a second week. Around the end of that week, he ate a rotten apple so he’d be sick enough to force Valentine to stay a third. A fourth week was entirely out of the question. When they returned to the castle, Reggie hid. If Viv didn’t want to see him, he’d simply stay out of her way. Still, he felt that he should at least try to get to know Viv. Yes, eavesdropping was wrong, but this was his chance to stay out of Viv’s way and still get to know her. With his ear pressed to the ancient door, Reggie listened with abated breath.
“You must really miss them,” said Addie, stepping down off the stage. “It’s a shame they couldn’t come with you.”
“Yeah,” said Viv with a sigh. She followed Addie to the door. “I wish Turkey was here. Oh, well. Let’s go back to the stables. I want to pet Helena again.”
Reggie quickly retreated from the door, scrambling behind a rickety abandoned bookcase nearby. He slipped behind in the nick of time. He heard the door to the attic creak open and then slam closed again. Addie and Viv walked past, giggling and talking about their favourite horses. As they headed down the groaning stairs, the gears in Reggie’s mind began to turn. Turkey? What did that mean, Turkey? Maybe Viv had had a pet turkey back in Underland. Maybe she wanted a turkey in Alterra, too. Yes, that made perfect sense to him. If he got Viv a pet Turkey, they might start to be friends. She’d feel more at home in the Alterran court. Getting Viv a pet turkey would be his main priority.
Or, at least, it would’ve been, if not for wedding preparations. Reggie had known that weddings took a lot of time and planning to get right. He just hadn’t realized that royal weddings took ten times that. The only part of it that made him exceptionally happy was the Alterran wedding tradition. The father of the bride would stay with the groom for three weeks before the wedding, and the mother of the groom would do the same for the bride. This meant that Reggie could avoid Coramund completely for three weeks. Still, he was asked dozens of questions about things he didn’t care about, like which kind of flower do you like best? Or, which color do you prefer, eggshell or ivory? Would you like gold florets on the cake or violet? And since Viv wasn’t allowed to spend time with her father but had to spend time with Coramund, nobody won. Except for Arthur.