“Where’s Mom?” Hana asked, lifting her skirts and rushing towards Harlowe coming in the door. “You can’t let her drink or she’ll fall asleep during the ceremony and she snores. I can’t have snoring in my wedding.”
Harlowe caught her sister carefully by the waist, making sure to only grab places on the bodice that wouldn’t rip or wrinkle or otherwise worry Hana even more about the perfection of the day. “Miss Abigail is on Mom watch. She knows the rules, and Mom will be in later to gush and oo and awe over you in your dress, but I thought—and I know I’m right—that you could use a moment to breathe. Just—sit with your thoughts and be happy that today is your big day. Yeah?”
Hana took a deep breath and looked up at her older sister. “Yeah.” She took another deep breath and then crossed back to the couch, where cushions had been set up to help her sit with minimal wrinkling and mussing up. Harlowe sat down on the floor in front of her, helping her keep the hem of the dress from bending as she sat. Hana smiled down at Harlowe, the biggest grin that Harlowe had seen in years, ages, maybe even their whole life. “Harlowe, I’m getting married today.”
“Yes, yes you are.” Harlowe smiled back.
“To Conlyn. When we go to bed tonight we will be Hana and Conlyn of Shelton farm. He’ll be my husband. I’ll be his wife.” Hana continued.
“All also very true,” Harlowe replied, almost automatically as she looked at a loose thread near the bottom of the dress, most of her mind dedicated to the decision-making of whether or not it looked bad enough to mention it to Hana and break out the needle and thread or to just let it lie.
That was just one of the reasons it took her so long to respond when Hana said “Harlowe, am I making a mistake?”
Harlowe looked up and blinked at her sister—trying to search for something beyond the face value of the words, a hidden question that Hana had to be asking, because there couldn’t be any way that Hana genuinely thought that she shouldn’t get married. “What?”
“He’s a good guard, Harlowe. He does good work for the lower lands, and I know he was helping some kids get out of the Mercs and there was so much more he could do for them. Am I doing the wrong thing by making him come here? Does this make me selfish?”
Harlowe stood up quickly, pulling Hana up with her into a crushing a hug, not even worrying about the wrinkled dress possibility this time. “Oh, Hana, of course you’re not making a mistake. Conlyn was a great guard, and trust me, if we need him in the Capital I will not hesitate to call him back to service. But he’s not the only great guard, and his work will still get done without him there to watch over it, I promise. He wants to be here with you, and if you send him away now, I can almost promise you that he will never be quite as good a guard again. You get in people’s heads, Hana, and he’ll never let you go. And—even if it is selfish, which I should stress I don’t think it is for either of you, don’t you deserve some selfish, Hana? You’ve done so much so much quicker than you ever should have had to. You deserve this. You deserve him. You deserve to be happy.”
Hana took a step back and looked up at Harlowe with teary eyes. “Thank you, Harlowe.”
“No problem, now—what do you say we pin-up your hair and get you ready to be married?”