Chapter Twenty-Two

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"Aren't you going to give me a hug?" Kyra asked, standing in the middle of the crowded room at her welcome home party. While Meredith spent her summer in Scotland, Kyra spent her fall semester of college in Scotland. All in all, the two best friends had been apart for seven months. Meredith missed Harry dearly, but Meredith tended to miss Kyra the most.

Meredith practically ran over to her best friend, giving her a hug. "Scotland?"

"Marvelous," Kyra answered. "I did drink a lot, though."

"Did you enjoy the night life?"

"Um...." Meredith couldn't really remember doing a lot of drinking, or at least not at night. During nighttime in Scotland, Meredith had other plans. "No. I was more of an early riser."

"Really?" Kyra asked. "I know how much you love sleeping. What did you have to get up early for?"

"Um...." Meredith tried to choose her words wisely.

Kyra leaned in and whispered, "Because you needed to get back to the house after a very long and exciting night."

"Palace," Meredith corrected. "It's Dalkeith Palace."

The best friend gripped Meredith's arm and pulled her around to the edge of the group. "Well, Meredith, I never saw this coming, you and Prince Harry. At the same time, I never saw you having sex coming, so what do I know?"

Meredith pursed his lips. "So?"

"I know. I didn't get a dude in Scotland. I tried, but you know, I took your advice-- some me-time."

Meredith nodded and glanced over at the group. "Shouldn't you return to them?"

"Probably. I missed my family. I didn't miss some of the other people."

"This is your welcome home party. Didn't you get a choice?"

"Yes, but after talking to some of them, I realized that I'm different now, you know?" Kyra laughed. "Well, you have to know. You're different now too. A boy and an experience. Plus, you're now an RA. We're all different." She was happy with herself, while Meredith swallowed.

"Well," Meredith said, "we've only know each other for a little over a year, Kyra. I mean, we didn't know each other before." She paused. "Which is probably a good thing because we would've hated each other in high school."

"I don't hate people."

"I do, and I would've hated you." Meredith was uncomfortable with the amount of people in the room that she didn't know. Back in northern Wisconsin, no one glanced at her again. None of these people seemed to take a second glance at Meredith. It was nice again. At the same time, not knowing many people only made Meredith scared.

"Oh, two things," Kyra said. "Just so I tell you now and don't forget."

"Like when you have to go to the bathroom?"

"Shut up. Um... so, um... well, we're not parting, exactly, Meredith, but um, next fall semester, I'm going to UMD." Kyra bit her lip while Meredith stilled. "We're not breaking up our friendship or anything. I'm just going across the bay. It's, literally, a fifteen minute drive. And we may not see each other a lot during the day, but we'll see each other on the weekends."

Normally, Meredith would be angry, but she had been parted with her best friend for seven months. It was obvious that both of them had changed. What was more time? Anyway, Meredith didn't know how long she was staying too. She looked to graduate early and who knew what was going to happen.

"Meredith?"

She smiled. "Congratulations! The other news?"

Kyra glanced around and then tried to look secretive, cocking her head off to the side. Meredith groaned and followed her friend out back. It was too terribly cold outside again, and thankfully they were away from Lake Superior so it wasn't windy. "Story time."

"Oh, this always ends well," Meredith sighed.

"Well, I was out one day in Edinburgh, and suddenly there's this dude. Well, he didn't come out of nowhere. I had been walking around, and this sounds like super creepy but I don't think he was following. And so, he was just there, and I was, like, he looks familiar. And then I was, like, dude, he is familiar." Kyra laughed.

"Um... what?"

"Well, I wasn't with anyone, and I think it was just by chance that we met, but of course he knew who I was because you've talked about me, right?"

"Um... sure."

"And so, like, it must be fate. I mean, that's how you two met. No offense, but, like, we're not much getting anywhere in life, especially anywhere with royalty."

"Whoa. What?"

"I met Prince Harry."

"In Scotland?"

"Yeah, well I never went to London. We'll have to do that sometime. I'm sure you can show me around. I want to go to all the Harry Potter things and--"

"Kyra. Prince Harry? Are you sure?"

"Yeah. I mean, I was a little confused at first, but it was him. I only knew that because every time that I went into Morrison's, your face was on all the magazines, next to Prince Harry. So, yes."

"Um...."

"What did he want?" Kyra reached into the purse she brought out and handed a box over to Meredith. "He wanted me to give you this."

"I'm going to see him in a week or so."

"Yeah. I told him that, he still wanted me to give it to you. I think it's... a... um... precu-- preca--"

"Precursor?"

She snapped her fingers. "That one, to your Christmas present."

Meredith sighed. "I got him a shirt." He better be happy with it.

Kyra laughed. "Well, open it. What is it?"

"Is it the Kit Kat you were supposed to bring back for me?"

"No. I ate that on the plane."

Meredith gave a look to her friend.

"I was hungry," Kyra explained, "and they weren't serving more food for another hour. I couldn't wait. And you can always get more, when you marry him."

"Why do all people think that?"

"Because he's Prince Harry. Because he's better than anything you going to get around here. Because you're ambitious and sometimes power hungry. You like to be in charge. Because you don't like to do work." Kyra shrugged. "You also like him, I think, so that's a plus. Now open the present!"

Meredith was careful with the box, unsure what was in there. She dearly hoped it was anything expensive. With Meredith's luck, she would lose it. Also, she had nothing to do with anything expensive. She shifted the box within her hands, but nothing shifted in the box. Carefully she opened the beautiful patterned paper and found a photograph inside.

Harry liked art, where Meredith didn't have the skills nor the time. One thing that was for certain when dating Prince Harry, pictures couldn't be taken. Harry followed his room with Meredith, except for a few times. In the box was a picture of Harry and Meredith, when he had taken the picture. He wasn't a selfie person either, but with lack of people around, he had no choice.

The photograph of them was only the background. Written on the photograph in beautiful calligraphy was Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnet 43" from Sonnets from the Portuguese. It was her favorite poem. Marked at the bottom of the picture after all the beautiful handwriting was Harry's writing.

I love you, Mere.

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