Chapter Ninety-Five

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"I preferred to do this better," Harry said the next morning. Meredith's hair and makeup were done, and she wore a green dress, matching her ring. Staring at herself in the mirror, Harry hovered beside her. Holding the ring in his hand, Harry asked, "May I?"

"You may." Meredith smiled and turned.

Harry dropped to a knee.

"Are you going to do this every time?"

"If I may."

Holding out her hand, Harry slipped on her engagement ring. "One time-- eventually-- I'll get this right." Meredith let her hand stay in front of his face, shifting in his light. "Yes, it is very nice."

"You did pick it out." Meredith went back to checking herself.

"You look gorgeous."

"I know." She flipped her hair again.

Harry's blue eyes narrowed on his soon-to-be official fiancee. "Are you scared?"

"Of cameras?"

Harry shrugged. "The flashes may cause migraines."

"It's controlled," she said.

"I meant are you scared of whatever comes next?" he asked.

"The whole world will be watching, and the whole world will know I am willing to deal with you for the rest of my life," she joked. "Yet, I think many of them already know that." She kissed him. "And I am a scared, a little. This will be the first time they see. I am representing the monarchy."

"You are taking this very seriously, Mere."

"Should I not be?"

"No. You're right. This is serious."

Reaching up, Meredith put a hand to his face gently. "Are you scared?"

"Absolutely terrified."

"Why? You've been doing this your whole life."

"I can't be scared?"

"You can," Meredith affirmed. "All humans are afraid of something, but what are you scared of? Why are you terrified?"

"Today they know. It's no longer about us. Everyone knows," Harry whispered.

"They've known for a while."

"Mere, you're part of the monarchy now."

"That's terrifying?"

"The Monarchists, yes. You fucking scare them."

Meredith laughed, delighted.

"But the world will want the attention. The paparazzi will come after you more. I know that you are highly talented at dealing with the paparazzi, and you will have protection now. You will have your own bodyguard," Harry said. "You will have your own staff. You have your own events."

"And this is scary?"

"I'm scared for you."

"Why?" Meredith asked.

"I know you can handle it." Harry wanted Meredith to know this above all else. "But can't I be scared of the next step?"

Stepping forward, Meredith kissed Harry. "Are you having seconds thoughts?"

"No." He winked. "We have to go soon. The world is waiting."

Looking back at herself in the mirror, Meredith checked herself again. She noticed nothing wrong, not that she found herself at all. Her makeup had been done to perfection, wiping away anything wrong with her face today. Her hair had been straightened, and Meredith was told that curly hair was hard to handle. Her dress slid over her body. Meredith yet needed to get used to wearing dresses and skirts. Thankfully, she didn't have to wear high heels today, not becoming much taller than Harry.

Her green eyes followed along her body, looking for any sign of herself. It looked like herself, and Meredith talked like herself. It was just hard to imagine herself as soon-to-be princess-- duchess-- whatever she was.


"I'm good. I'm good." She sighed. "I'm good. Let's go."

It felt like the longest walk of her life as it was step after step after step after step after step. She matched her walk with Harry, scared she walked too fast. Her footsteps were too loud. Blood rushed past her ears. Her heart thundered. Vomit threatened to roll off her tongue, so she clamped her teeth down.

Harry held her hand, running his thumb over the back of her hand. While he said he was absolutely terrified, he was much calmer in this situation than she was. It was years of training. For Meredith, walking was difficult. The standing was worse as they waited outside the doors.

The murmuring of voices echoed through the doors. The paparazzi didn't wait patiently. Rumors had increased over the past few days as this was announced. If it was urgent, the paparazzi would be called in sooner. For now, it was just them and the paparazzi.

"Mere," Harry whispered, mouth against her ear.

"Now I'm scared."

Harry gulped. "Me too. Me too."

"I just have to smile. I don't have to say anything."

"Not until this afternoon."

"Yep." Even that made a rotting feeling in her stomach, where she needed to be very careful what she said during an interview. Most times, she didn't believe anyone really cared because Harry wasn't the future king, but everyone was so invested in him. "What if I'm not good enough?"

"Mere, you're more than enough. People love you. People will continue to love you. People will grow to love you. And if they hate you, they can go fuck themselves." Turning toward his future wife, Harry promised, "I love you. I chose you. For the first time in my life, I didn't screw up. I did something that made me happy. You make me happy."

"Harry, what if I'm not good enough for you?"

"Don't believe that, because sometimes I think I'm not good enough for you," he admitted. "Sometimes I think that-- I hope that this is all a dream and you will break my heart."


"Because you deserve to be free."

"I am free, Harry, with you." She kissed his cheek. "I can't promise I'll always feel this way, but I will always love you."

"Always is a long time, Mere."

"It isn't long enough," she said. "Forever isn't long enough. And I don't know how long we will live. And I'm scared that I don't know our future. I know my future is with you. My future is with the monarchy."

Harry smiled. "Mere, do you really know what you're signing onto?"

Meredith shrugged. "Maybe that's all the fun. I will go with the flow. I will follow you. I will do what I'm told." She didn't do well with rules and she didn't do well with authority. "Yet I will be by your side-- or two feet behind or blah blah whatever. I will need training, but I am willing to do this for you."

"Do you really love me that much?"

"No. Of course not. I just want to be famous," Meredith mocked.

"Your highness, ma'am, it's time."

Flipping her hair back, Meredith faced the door. "Are you ready?"

"Yes. And you?"

"Fuck it. Let's go."

The doors opened.

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