Wendy curled up on the edge of Hazel’s bed. She always found Hazel’s room a little odd. It was like the girl had tried to have a personal touch to things, but hadn’t quite known what she was doing, and then the maid had come and moved everything away. There were little knick-knacks poking out in corners and a few odd mismatched cushions amid all the silks and upholstery. The dollhouse sat in the corner looking sad and unloved – apparently it was supposed to be decorative rather than played with. Inkaaah lived in it now.
Hazel pottered about the room. Wendy had asked about Marco’s grand gesture a moment ago, and the other girl had gotten flustered and dithery. It was sweet. Wendy knew that Hazel had been getting a lot of training lately about being a better ruler, especially having a blanker poker face. But behind closed doors Hazel was still anxious and socially awkward. She tucked her knees up under her chin.
“So, what was it like? I mean, really.”
Hazel sat down next to her in a big gust of skirts and flushed cheeks.
“I don’t know! It was… unexpected. I thought he was just going to ask for Inkaah back, but it didn’t even come up. He was so… decisive and brave.” She flopped back onto the bed. “It made me so confused, but in a good way.” Wendy laughed at Hazel’s flushed, happy face.
“Was he wearing his purple cape?”
“Yeah. I thought it made him look valiant and heroic, like a knight.” Hazel sighed, an hint of dreaminess in her voice. Wendy inwardly winced. Better not mention they had dyed it black. She hadn’t been sure why Marco wore a cape – maybe it gave him courage? – or why he wanted it to be black. Maybe he was really into comics. She didn’t know much about Marco’s hobbies.
“And he said he would do a quest! To prove that he was worthy of me. Me! Nobody’s ever done anything like that. I didn’t know what to say. And he went to mama too, even though she hates him. He’s just… are all boys like that?” Hazel sat up. “I mean, does Kevin do quests for you?”
“Uh…” Wendy wasn’t sure how to answer. “Not really. I mean…it… isn’t the same?”
“What? Why not?”
“Well, firstly, my parents don’t want to murder Kevin. I think.” She paused. “I’m pretty sure. And I’m not a princess, so questing isn’t really a required part of… courtship. I mean, I guess if he wanted to do a quest, I’d be OK with it, but it would probably be more along the lines of ‘get me some donuts’ rather than ‘slay a mighty beast that is terrorising the kingdom’.”
Hazel sat up, wide-eyed in horror. “You don’t think mama would ask Marco to do that, do you? I mean, I don’t think there are any beasts at the moment, but she could find one! And she might get it to murder him! Mama’s very protective.”
“No, I’m sure it will be something else.” Probably something worse. “And Kevin and I would help out any way we could obviously.” The other girl gave a loud sigh of relief and sank back into the pillows.
“That’s good. I don’t want my true love to die.”
“True love? That’s a bit fast, isn’t it?” Wendy raised an eyebrow. Hazel looked confused.
“Why? Isn’t this how it works? The handsome knight does valiant deeds for his lady, and then they get to be together forever? I mean, he makes me feel funny and special inside, and he makes me laugh and I wouldn’t mind it if he kissed me. That’s how it works, right? Like you and Kevin?”
“I… guess. I don’t really think about it that much.” Wendy frowned a little. Everyone seemed to know. Was it that obvious? Apparently not to Kevin.
“What? Why not? I think about Marco all the time. Especially after he told me he loved me.”
Wendy laughed. “Well, that would probably do it. I just… I have other things to do, I guess. I always figured it will just happen in its own time.” She paused, frowning again. “Things that are supposed to happen, do. Right? I figure he just needs time to get his act together. I can wait.”
Hazel curled up, looking thoughtful. “Maybe… he isn’t the knight? Maybe you are? And you have to do the quest instead. Or whatever normal people do.” Wendy looked at the other girl in surprise. For someone so socially inept, Hazel was sometimes surprisingly insightful.
“Maybe. I don’t really have time for quests at the moment. Things have been a bit hectic lately. I haven’t really had a chance to sit still and take stock. I mean, your mum and her sisters keep pitting us against huge scary things, and it sucks because I can’t really hurt someone, even if they are bad. And I tried to talk to Marco about things, but he just got confused and flustered and he threw some paper at me, so I gave up.”
“Well, why didn’t you talk to Kevin? Not that I’m not happy you’re talking to me, I don’t get a lot of visitors.” Hazel tilted her head. “Although I guess I didn’t talk to Marco, and he hasn’t visited me again.” She sighed. “Being in love is hard.”
“True that.” Wendy uncurled. “Do you have food?”
“Mim put some apples and juice on the table by the sitting area.” Her eyes lit up as Wendy leaned down pulled a bag of cookies from her satchel. “Where did you get those?”
“I hear that chocolate is supposed to be good in situations like these.” Hazel beamed, holding out her hands for the packet. She ripped it open and began happily crunching away.
“So tell me about Marco? You went to visit him? I wish I could visit him.” Wendy smiled. She had heard and read that in this situation, spending time with another girl’s boyfriend was supposed to cause jealousy and issues. But Hazel was either unversed in these texts, or just too nice to be worried. Or she just knew that Wendy was in no way a threat, even after Wendy had talked about the weird dream world where she had dated Marco.
“Yeah. We watched movies and he cried at the sad bits. And some of the happy bits.”
“Hazel sighed. “He’s so sensitive. Not like all the stiff, growly faced knights at court.”
“I guess that’s one way to put it. And we had ice cream and stuff.”
“Ooh! I want to try ice cream.” They had tried to bring some across, but it hadn’t survived the transition well.
“Maybe when you get to come back earthside. But yeah, that was it really. He said he missed you, and he wanted to see you soon.” Hazel smiled and hugged her pillow.
“He’s my special person, I just know it!” She paused. “That was what you called Kevin, wasn’t it? Your person.”
Wendy smiled a little wistfully. She sat back in the pillows, listening as Hazel rambled on. “Yeah. Kevin’s my person.”