Chapter Eighty-Four

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Laying on the bed, Meredith needed a moment, and Harry took a shower. While Meredith had brought a few skirts and nice shirts for moment like these, she wanted to wear none of them. Her whole body ached, and her head pounded. After coming out of the shower, Harry laid down on the bed too.

"Tired?" he whispered.

"Never."

"Liar."

"I'm not on the clock yet, plus I didn't have any coffee this morning." Rolling over, Meredith laid her head on his chest. Her fingers smoothed the light blond hair up and down.

"You're so close to meeting the whole family," he said.

"Am I, though?" Meredith asked. "Your family is never ending. People count themselves royal into the thousands. I'll never stop meeting people."

"Yes, well, you do still have to meet a few more people, but they aren't exactly going to stop us from marrying. They aren't going to stop our futures."

Her heart thundered. Panic coursed through her veins. "And the rest of these people have that ability?"

"No," Harry interjected quickly. "Of course not. I love you. I wouldn't let them-- I mean, technically, but not really." With her mouth open, Meredith sat up, and he continued, "I wouldn't let them, Mere. I want to marry you-- I will marry you. It doesn't matter what they say."

"It's your family. Of course it matters." Meredith kept her voice low, not knowing how thick the walls were. "Also, they're, like, one of the most powerful families in the world. They could have me killed."

"Mere." Harry gripped her hands tightly. "It's okay. Why are you freaking out? It's like we're back in the woods. It's just Dad and Camilla."

"It will be everyone at dinner tonight, and then... I'm spending the whole summer with you, Harry. We're going to Australia. You have the Invictus Games; I'm just there. The world will be watching," she said. "And that doesn't scare me as much meeting your family, Harry. I'm basically white trash compared to them."

"Mere." Harry kissed her forehead. "Everything is okay. They're normal."

"You live in a fucking palace," Meredith whispered. "You are not normal. No one is normal."

"You're moving into a palace," he mumbled.

"Harry." Meredith flopped down on the bed next to him, sighing. "What should I expect tonight?"

"Hmm?"

"I've watched some videos on YouTube, like the etiquette and stuff. I can't say that it's good, but I tried a bit. Should I be nervous for whatever happens tonight?"

"No." Snuggling up beside her, he looked her in the eyes. "I'm telling you, Mere: you have no reason to be scared."

A while later, Meredith was redressed and reapplying makeup. This morning hadn't been even with makeup, while some parts of her usual makeup were, and tonight wasn't heavy. She was careful around her eyes, where Meredith liked to put on dark eyeliner. She only put on a clear lipstick. But the rest her face was heavy and groomed with no flaws to be seen.

Harry rolled his eyes at his girlfriend but laughing. "You ready? We don't want to make them late."

"Shit." Meredith threw down the tools and tried to find a clock.

"Not that we're going to be late," he said. "Just, we don't want to be...." At this point, he knew there wasn't hope. While he knew how to help in other ways to calm his girlfriend, right here and now, it was her needing to figure it out herself. Kissing her on the head, Harry led his girlfriend downstairs and into the dining room.

Although Meredith had been here before, she marveled at her surrounding features. The floor creaked underneath Harry and her as they walked, worse on the steps. It felt like the rest of the castle had stilled, listening to her. Harry kept a firm hand on her back, right above her where her Target skirt ended. "This way," Harry whispered, entering the dining room.

Thankfully, most of the family was yet absent. Like Harry had planned it, it was his dad and Camilla there. Meredith stopped in her tracks, but Harry gave a nudge forward, so she went. Pasting a smile on her face, Meredith curtsied, and Harry laughed behind her.

"That's not necessary," Charles, Prince of Wales, said. "From what Harry's told me, we're practically family." Coming over, he gave her a hug. Camilla took a step too, giving Meredith a hug after her husband finished. "How are you enjoying Balmoral?"

"It-- it-- it-- it's nice, your highness."

"Call me Charles, Dad-- whatever works for you."

"Thank you," Meredith swallowed, "your highness."

Harry cleared his throat. "She's nervous." Not removing his hand from her back, Harry handed Meredith a glass of wine. Politely she took a sip.

"Meredith, are you enjoying Scotland?" Camilla asked.

"Yes, your highness." Meredith felt the urge to curtsy again. "Scotland is beautiful and wild. It feels free. The Highlands are one of my favorites. You can go miles without seeing people. And the green is left untouched. It can't really be found in the US, but here," Meredith swallowed, "it's left open, for everyone."

"Scotland is for favorite," Harry inputted.

"You haven't spent enough time in England," Charles joked. "You studied here for university?"

"Yes. I studied in a town outside of Edinburgh."

"What brought you to Scotland?"

"The Scotland study abroad program is the most popular in the University of Wisconsin system." Meredith breathed. "Honestly, we live in Dalkeith Palace for a bit, so I got to live in a palace for a summer. But I never realized I may in fact... um...."

"Live in a palace for the rest of your life?" Camilla smiled.

"Yes." Her cheeks burned. Her whole body was on fire, not in a good way. She didn't feel her feet anymore. Meredith's legs swayed.

"And what brought you to the Highlands?" Charles wondered.

"It was a weekend trip, brought by the study abroad, and well, we went Skye and Loch Ness, and..." Meredith trailed off. In perfect honesty, she didn't want to leave the Highlands when she was there, even knowing she was going back to Harry. It was all too perfect. Sometimes she didn't want to share the Highlands with the rest of the world. "There are no words to describe Scotland. Perfect doesn't do it justice. I can see why so many people have wanted to claim it."

Charles agreed.

Before he said anymore, the doors burst open, and Meredith let out a sigh in relief. Finally, all the eyes were off her, at least for a moment. Harry relaxed beside her too. Meredith didn't calm for too long as she was suddenly surrounded by royals she had met throughout the day. It wasn't helpful. She wasn't used to them yet. Pressing the glass of wine to her lips, she took a gulp.



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Well, this week and the past few weeks have kicked my ass. That is the reason for the delays. And it'll only get better worse because finals start on Monday for my university.

(By the way, I thought this was going to end faster, but.... We're getting there; we're taking steps. At least there will be a lot more Harry and Meredith time.)


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