In the three years since his marriage to Aelin Ashryver Whitethorn Galathynius, Rowan had gotten used to court life.
He was still in the public eye, but he had grown more comfortable with it. He could now tolerate small talk and dressing nicely, if only because Aelin was always at his side when it came to it. His wife could command a room like no one else he had ever met.
He fell more in love with her with every passing day.
Terrasen had been reborn since the death of Arobynn Hamel. His assets had proven to be the savior of the kingdom, helping get its people back on their feet. It didn’t happen overnight, and there were still lingering scars from the destitution the kingdom had been in, but Terrasen was back on the path to reclaim its former glory.
Rowan saw how happy it made Aelin to see her kingdom healing.
The files and information found in Arobynn Hamel’s warehouse led to the arrests of plenty of others who had been working with him. Terrasen’s investigative team had worked quickly and efficiently, dismantling the web of people who had sought to bring chaos to their kingdom.
There was peace.
It had been a bit hectic in the first few months following Aelin’s return home. She was constantly asked for interviews, questioned by Terrasen’s investigative teams multiple times, often woke up beside Rowan shaking from nightmares. The healing process hadn’t been easy, nor was it completely over, but she was doing better. Much better.
About three months after they had been married, Aelin had pulled him aside, something on her face that told Rowan what she was about to utter was serious. She had explained to him that she wanted to be open with her people about her struggles following the deaths of her parents and Sam. She had been worried whether or not it was the right choice, and spent lengthy periods of time speaking to her uncle and Darrow about it.
But, eventually, she did it. Aelin shared her story with her people. The few voices that spoke out and scorned her were drowned out by the thousands of others that rushed to her support. The princess hadn’t stopped with just telling her story, creating new charities and programs to help others who had struggled like she had.
Rowan couldn’t have been more proud of her, of the life they had built.
There were a few other changes within those first few months.
Fenrys and Lorcan both decided to move permanently to Terrasen. Aelin gave them both jobs in the palace, happy to have them there. Rowan was glad to have his companions as well.
Lysandra and Aedion had been married the year prior. Aelin had been ecstatic to officially call Lysandra her sister of sorts. Elide and Lorcan were next. Rowan remembered how nervous his friend had been about proposing, an emotion Rowan had never seen in Lorcan. He had worried he would fuck it up somehow. Yet, Elide had been thrilled once he proposed. Their wedding was scheduled to be in three months.
Rowan still had a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that Lorcan Salvaterre would be a married man.
Today was an important day. Hence why Rowan bothered to dress nicely and actually care about his appearance. He stood in the room he now shared with Aelin, looking at himself in the mirror, ensuring that his hair wasn’t sticking out in any odd directions. Once he deemed that nothing was out of place, he straightened his tie once more, and turned.
His eye caught on the photo propped up on their dresser, one of his favorites. It was one of the precious few photographs they had from their impromptu wedding, depicting the first kiss they shared as husband and wife. No matter how many times he saw it, it filled his heart with joy and love.
Rowan could hear his wife in the conjoining room, humming and singing softly. A soft smile curled onto his lips at the sound.
Rowan stepped into the room which had been converted in the past few weeks. They painted the walls a soothing shade of yellow, found a comfortable rocking chair, stuffed animals, and, most importantly, the crib, which Aelin was currently standing beside, swaying and humming.
She was already dressed in a lovely pale-blue sundress, golden hair tumbling freely down her back. Once she heard Rowan approach, she turned, a bundle of white cloth and blankets in her arms.
Rowan’s heart swelled at the sight of the two of them together, the most important people in his life.
Aelin’s humming faded away, grinning at him as he came to their side, still bouncing the baby in her arms. They had brought their daughter, Eliora, home a week ago. She was a beautiful girl. A tiny little button nose she got from her mother, those striking Ashryver eyes, and a tiny tuft of silvery-blonde hair upon her head. Perfect.
Aelin had dressed their daughter in a lacy white smock, something that would get dirty rather quickly, but they just needed it to last until after photos. Today, they would make their first appearance as a family, show the people of Terrasen the future of the kingdom.
“How is she?” Rowan asked, planting a kiss upon Aelin’s hand and looking down at their daughter. Her eyes were wide, looking at everything around them, tiny fists reaching out and grabbing the ends of Aelin’s hair.
“She’s very happy today, which is good for all of us,” his wife reported, running a finger over the slope of Eliora’s nose. “I think the cameras are going to love her.”
Rowan released a low chuckle, stroking the thin hair on his daughter’s head. Good gods, she was so small. “If she’s anything like you, she’ll love them right back.”
Eliora cooed, turning her attention towards Rowan, reaching out in his direction.
“Oh, you want to go to daddy, huh?” Aelin whispered. “Traitor.”
Regardless, Aelin kissed the baby’s cheek and handed her carefully to Rowan. He took her in his arms, cradling her close to his chest. Aelin pressed herself to his side, embracing him gently, looking down at their daughter.
“She’s perfect, isn’t she?” Aelin asked quietly.
“More than perfect.”
The lapsed into silence, nothing but Eliora’s gurgles and babbles to fill the air. She truly was a happy child, a little drop of sunshine. Rowan couldn’t believe that the gods had blessed him so.
“Are you ready for today?” Aelin questioned.
“I am.” Rowan looked towards his wife, finding that she wore that look on her face that she got when she was lost in thought. He raised a brow. “What are you thinking about, Fireheart?”
Aelin loosed a long breath, slowly dragging her eyes away from her daughter. As always, Rowan was struck stupid by her bright and shining beauty. He loved her with every ounce of his being.
She held him a bit tighter, resting her head against his shoulder. “I just can’t help but feel as if… this is the first day of our lives.”
Rowan grinned and captured her lips in a quick kiss. She was right. It did feel as though this was the first day of their lives.
And Rowan couldn’t have been more thrilled to spend every single day with the two people who he loved the most.