The Charming palace was in a bustle. Of course, Rosemary had never seen the palace any other way, but there was something different about the chaotic pace surrounding the wedding. Charming Family Balls were big, but Charming wedding were huge.
Rosemary dodged another decorator as she made her way down the corridor. She would've liked nothing more than to help decorate, but right now, she was on a mission. She had to find Gal before he ran off to be best man. She had some choice words for him, but, for Roman's sake, they'd only be words.
Rosemary dodged a few distant relations that she didn't want to talk to before bumping into a black haired girl in pajamas with a curling iron in her hand-Maggie Charming, the second oldest of the Charming cousins.
"Rosemary, thank God," Maggie said with a sigh, "Have you seen Lavender. Joy wants our hair in ringlets and I just can't get mine to stay."
Rosemary smiled at the older girl. "Last I saw her she was talking to Gideon Hatter."
"And where is he?"
"Like I know," Rosemary shrugged.
"Thanks anyways," Maggie said and headed off down the corridor. Rosemary watched her leave with a smile. The Charming cousins were known for being a little bit crazy, and for there being a lot of them. Though, Rosemary thought, there weren't that many of them, only seven; Brick, Maggie, Joy, Scarlet, Lavender, Gal, and herself.
Rosemary reached Gal's door and pulled herself out of thought. Right now, she was mad at Gal, she couldn't afford to be sentimental. Rosemary knocked on the door and waited. When there wasn't an answer, she knocked again. "Gallant Charming!" she yelled and smiled as she her rushed footsteps and cursing.
The person that answered the door, however, was not Rosemary's cousin. Instead of seeing Gal's bright purple hair, she was met by a mop of red hair, brown eyes, and a face covered in freckles. A face that ninety-nine percent of the female population at their school found attractive. Thankfully for Rosemary, she was the one percent that didn't.
"Hey, Rosie," Duke Hood said with a grin.
Rosemary shook her head. "It's Rosemary, Duke," she said, "Rose. Mary. It shouldn't be that hard. Even for a dumb jock like you."
Once upon a time, Rosemary hadn't minded when Duke Hood called her 'Rosie', in fact, she'd loved it, but that was back when Duke and Gal were just nerds that she had to make sure didn't get bullied. That was before Duke and Gal became two of the most pursued boys at Ever After and suddenly didn't have time for her. At least Gal had still tried, Duke had completely ignored her for over a year and a half. He did not have 'Rosie' privileges.
"Ouch," Duke said, acting like she'd wounded him. Rosemary rolled her eyes.
"Where's my cousin?" she asked.
"The stupid one with the purple hair," Rosemary said, "I need to talk to him."
Duke raised an eyebrow. "Do you need relationship advice or something? 'Cause I know way more about relationships than he does."
"Where's Gal?" Rosemary asked with a sigh.
Duke stared at her for a moment, studying her. It made Rosemary uncomfortable. "He's in the bathroom," he said after a full minute, stepping to the side so that Rosemary could enter.
"Thank you," Rosemary said with a smile, practically skipping past Duke in to Gal's rooms, just as Gal exited the bathroom.
"Shit," he said as he noticed her. Then he shot an irritated look at Duke. "I told you not to let her in."
Duke shrugged. "I have a weakness for pretty girls."
At that, Rosemary snorted. Duke glanced at her, but she ignored him, instead focusing on her cousin. "Why did Sage cancel last minute on me, Gal?" she asked, "Just last week she was super excited, and all of a sudden she has 'family commitments'. Care to explain what happened?"
Gal sat down on his bed. "I don't know," he said, "You know that we've been hanging out all summer practically. She's a really cool girl."
"What did you do?" Duke asked, suddenly interested in their conversation.
"She told me that she liked me."
"That's good though," Rosemary said, "right?"
Gal groaned and flopped on to the mattress. "No, it's not, Rosie," he said, "Sage is your best friend. That would be like you dating Duke."
"First of all, I would never date Duke," Rosemary said. When Duke shot her an accusatory look she just shrugged. It was true. "Second of all, why the hell would you think that I wouldn't be okay with the two of you dating?"
"No, Gallant Charming," Rosemary said, "You are going to call Sage, and tell her how you feel, or I am going to find Roman and tell him exactly what has been going on. Believe me, he would be more than happy to help."
"I most definitely would," Rosemary said, "If I don't hear from Sage within the next hour, I will tell him myself." With all of that said, Rosemary turned on her heel and left, leaving two very shocked boys behind her. The first one wondering how on earth he was going to tell Sage how he felt, and the second admiring the way her hair swung back and forth as she walked.
"There you go," Lavender sprayed the remainder of the hairspray can on her cousin's hair before turning Maggie around so that she could see herself in the mirror.
Maggie gasped, taking in the way that her naturally pin straight hair curled in lazy ringlets. "It's beautiful," she said.
"I know," Lavender said with a smirk.
Lavender had always been skilled with things like hair and makeup, to the point where it drove her mother mad. Rosemary had always been the one that her mother and father understood, when it came to Lavender with her brains and intense interest in fashion the best that Darling Charming could do was shrug.
"So," Maggie said, stepping out of her dressing robe and putting on her maid of honor dress, "What's going on between you and Gideon Hatter?"
Lavender shrugged. "Honestly?" she asked, "I have no idea. He's nice and sweet and cute."
"He's Gideon Hatter," Lavender sighed, "The only person crazier than he is is his twin. Besides, he's planning on going back to Wonderland after the wedding."
"Weren't you planning on doing the exact same thing?" Maggie asked, turning around so that Lavender could zip up her dress.
Lavender slid the zipper up and stepped back, viewing her cousin. Maggie sure was pretty when she bothered to put in contacts and spent time on the way she looked. "I don't know," Lavender said, "I mean, it would be great to get to study the fashion in Queen Lizzie's court, but I've got a great career here."
Maggie stared at her cousin. "You're joking, right?" she asked, "You're nineteen, and you won't go work with the leading fashion designer in the world because of a small chance that you'll be promoted from barely paid intern?"
"I'm not-" Lavender's reply was cut off by her younger sister, Rosemary, bursting into the room.
"Ugh, I hate him," Rosemary groaned, flopping down on Lavender's bed. Lavender glanced at her sister, glad for the change of topic, though one look at Maggie told her this wasn't the end.
"Who is it that you hate this time?" Lavender asked. Her younger sister was famous for her ability to make enemies with strangers. It was a weird talent, but one that Rosemary exceeded in.
Rosemary flipped over on her stomach and eyed the two older girls before sighing dramatically. Lavender smiled, the theater department had no idea what they were missing by not casting Rosemary.
"So, this morning Sage called me and said that she couldn't make it anymore. Naturally, I was like 'what happened', and basically it came down to that Gal broke her heart. So, I was all, 'I can fix this'. So, I demanded that Gal tell her that he liked her, because he does, and they are absolutely cute together. I threatened him, and he did it-which is great. I love them. But, Gal decided to take it a step forward and ask Sage to be his plus one to the wedding, even though she was supposed to be my plus one and he was already taking his idiotic best friend. And Sage said yes. So now she's going with Gal, and I'm stuck with Duke freakin' Hood, because he already had his suit and all of that, even though we don't like each other, and can barely stand each other, and sometimes I want to throw a knife in that ridiculously perfect face of his," Rosemary heaved another sigh, "What do I do?"
Lavender almost laughed. Rosemary got herself into the weirdest messes. "Why are you asking me?" Lavender asked.
"Because you always seem to know how to fix my problems."
Lavender shook her head. "I can't fix this one for you, Rosie," she said.
"Couldn't you take him as your plus one."
"No," Lavender said, "Besides, it's not like you'll even have to talk to each other."
Maggie opened her mouth to speak, but Lavender shot her a look. Rosemary did not need to know about the planned seating arrangements.
"If you want my advice," Maggie said, "I think you should stab him with one of those knives of yours and hit him a few times. The boy's too cocky for his own good."
"That sounds like a good idea."
"It's not," Lavender said, "And if you lay so much as a hand on that boy, I'm going to make sure that you spend the rest of the summer with Nana in Wonderland."
"You're no fun," Rosemary pouted.
Lavender sighed. "One of us has to be the grownup, and since Maggie won't do it, I will. Now, go get dressed or Joy will kill you."
Rosemary protested, but went to get dressed all the same.
Rosemary never liked weddings, they were too much fuss and bother, which is why she decided that she was never ever going to tell her parents that she was getting married. She would elope, plain and simple, and then her parents would have to find out along with the rest of the family.
That being said, the wedding was incredibly beautiful, everything that you'd expect when a goddess of love planned your wedding. Joy was beautiful, Roman was handsome, there were tears, everything went off without a hitch, and Rosemary felt incredibly uncomfortable standing in the front of the church at the very back of a line of bridesmaids, which was selfish of her. This was Joy's big day, and it was nice that she wanted to have all of her cousins on stage with her.
The wedding was perfect-everything that a girl could hope for-it was the pictures afterwards that really got on Rosemary's nerves. Here's how it worked; Joy had decided to have all of her cousins and Roman's sisters as her bridesmaids. Maggie, was her maid of honor, so it naturally made sense to put the bridesmaids in age order. Maggie was first, then Scarlet, then Athen, Roman's older sister, then Lavender, then Alex, Roman's younger sister who just so happened to be in Rosemary's grade, then Rosemary. All of those girls were lined up and smiling for twenty minutes after the wedding ended and everyone had left.
Rosemary huffed and tried to keep the smile on her face. She was a second from requesting that Lavender do the hair thing to get them out of there when Alex spoke up. "This is taking forever," she said so that only Rosemary could hear it.
"Yeah," Rosemary muttered back.
Alex and Rosemary had never been friends. The may have been in the same grade, but they weren't in the same social circles at all. Alex hung out with the popular crowd, consisting of people like Jon White, Ella Huntsman, and, Rosemary's personal favorite, Duke Hood. Rosemary hung out with the Charming crowd, and Sage. Though now that all of the Charmings except Gal were graduated, she supposed that she only hung out with Sage, and occasionally Pepper Breadhouse. That didn't mean that Alex wasn't nice, though. Alex was pretty nice, she and Rosemary simply didn't talk.
"Who's your plus one?" Alex asked after a second.
Rosemary sighed. "Duke Hood," she mumbled.
Alex let out a low whistle only to be scolded by the photographer. "How many girls did you have to fight to get him?"
"None," Rosemary said, "My cousin stuck me with him. If you want him, he's all yours."
"As much as I would love to take him off of your hands, I can't. I started going steady with Jon."
Rosemary didn't know whether or not to laugh at that, Jon White and Alex Cupid had one of the most complicated relationships in the history of Ever After High, and that was saying something. Rosemary had been privy to the whole Joy/Roman I'm-in-love-with-my-best-friend-and-don't-know-if-telling-them-will-ruin-our-friendship thing for years. Maybe it was just a children of Cupid thing that they couldn't get a break.
"He's not that bad, you know?"
"No, Duke," Alex said, "He really misses your friendship."
"Miss Charming!" bellowed the photographer, "Will you please stand still!?"
Lavender glanced around the ballroom, taking in the beautiful decor as she did so. Joy had been complaining about it earlier, insisting that she hadn't wanted anything fancy, but when your future mother in law is Cupid, fancy is what you got.
The bride and groom had a table in the middle of the room right before the dance floor for themselves and their parents. Tables surrounded the rest of the dance floor, each one with six place settings and engraved place cards to match. Lavender made her way through the tables, finding her name card in the process. She was at the same table as Scarlet, Athen, and their dates. The place card right next to hers made her smile as she read it.
Lavender set her clutch down just as said person walked up to the table. "Hey, Lavender," he said, "Can I sit here?"
Lavender spun around with a smile on her face. Gideon Hatter was by no means tall, but he was taller than Lavender, and that was what really counted. His curly bright teal hair stood out on his head and matched his eyes. It appeared that he'd tried, and failed, to get his hair under control. He was wearing a purple tuxedo that would've looked horrible on anyone else, but he could pull it off.
"It is your seat," Lavender said, gesturing to the name card.
"There's assigned seats?" Gideon asked, taking the seat next to her as he did so. Lavender laughed.
"Yes," she said, "There's assigned seats."
"Oh," Gideon swallowed nervously, "So, I was talking to Maggie-"
Lavender almost groaned, Gideon talking to Maggie could never be good.
"and she said that you were planning on going to Wonderland to study with the queen."
Lavender shook her head, this was all part of Maggie's plan to get her to accept the apprenticeship. "I've been offered the opportunity," Lavender said, "but I'm not sure if I'm going to accept. Wonderlands a long way from home."
"But you have family in Wonderland," Gideon pointed out.
"Trust me," Lavender said, "I'd rather not have to live with Nana for a full year. She's crazy."
"Why don't you live at the palace?" Gideon asked, "I'm sure Aunt Lizzie would be fine with it."
"I'm not sure."
"It would be great. Everyone lives there."
"And by everyone you mean?"
"Andrew, and Cat, and me."
"You live at the palace."
"Yeah," Gideon said, "You know, since I'm studying realm travel, and collection at the palace is extensive."
Just that moment, the sound of arguing reached Lavender's ears. She winced as she recognized the voices, glancing towards the table her sister was sitting at. Sure enough, Rosemary was in the middle of a very heated argument with Duke Hood. Lavender groaned, this was Joy's big day, couldn't Rosemary just be civil with Duke for five minutes.
"Is that your sister?" Gideon asked.
Lavender sighed. "Yes," she said.
"Do you want to help her?"
Lavender glanced from Rosemary to Gideon for a minute before shaking her head. "Not really," she said, "I just want to dance wit you, though I have to do something first." Lavender picked up her phone and sent a text to Rosemary that she knew would shut her up. She smiled at Gideon. "Would you like to dance?" she asked.
Gideon grinned back. "I'd love to."
If he's pissing you off, walk away. If he's not, play nice. If you don't, you'll spend the rest of the summer at Nana's.
Rosemary threw another knife that embedded itself in the very center of the target. She wanted to kill Duke Hood, Lavender's text was the only thing stopping her. It was Joy's big day and she didn't want to ruin it for her, but Duke Hood was a complete and total asshat.
The reception had started off well enough with her, Duke, Gal, Sage, Alex, and Jon all sitting at a table enjoying dinner. Rosemary had mostly talked to Sage, but Sage had wanted to talk to Gal, so she also talked to Alex. However, talking to Alex meant talking to Jon as well, who was deeply engrossed in a conversation with Duke Hood. And Alex had thought that it would be a good idea to try and get Rosemary and Duke back on speaking terms, which hadn't gone that well. Actually, that was an understatement, it had gone horribly.
Rosemary dug another knife out of her bag and tossed it from hand to hand, assessing its balance.
Alex, it seemed, liked talking about relationships, and when Duke found out that Rosemary had never been in one, he couldn't help but gloat. So, naturally, Rosemary had called him a slut for the three or four girlfriends that he'd had, even though it wasn't that many. Duke had called her a dyke, and the fighting just escalated from there. Then the text from Lavender came and Rosemary stormed out.
Rosemary flipped the knife over in her hand, gripping the blade in her palm. She took a deep breath, picturing the target as Duke Hood's face and threw. The knife embedded itself where Duke's eye socket would've been.
"You missed," came a voice from not too far behind her. Not even bothering to think, Rosemary whirled around and punched Duke Hood right in that ridiculously perfect nose of his. The crunching sound was satisfying, even though Rosemary knew that it came from her own knuckles more than it came from Duke's nose.
"I suppose, I deserved that," Duke said, covering his bloody nose with his hand.
"Yeah," Rosemary said, "You did." She picked up her bag and grabbed a handkerchief out of it. She offered it to Duke, and, surprisingly, he took it. "What are you doing out here?"
"I came out here to apologize."
Rosemary raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"Well, that, but mostly because the couples sitting at our table are nauseating, and only got worse once you left."
Rosemary laughed, which surprised her. She hadn't laughed with Duke Hood in a long time.
"I'm sorry for calling you a dyke," Duke said, "You're not."
"And I'm sorry for calling you a slut," Rosemary said. The silence that followed was awkward. Rosemary shifted, picking up her bag to leave when Duke grabbed her wrist, stopping her.
"Wait," he said, and, for a reason unknown to her, Rosemary stopped.
"What happened?" Duke asked, "I mean, to us. We used to be best friends."
Rosemary paused. "I don't know," she said after a full minute, "I suppose you stopped having time for me."
"That's not true," Duke said.
Rosemary shrugged. "You started dating Stella," she said, "even though she hated me. I suppose it just hurt."
"What do you mean?"
Rosemary sat down on the grass. "It was like, my one of my best friends chose her over me, and it hurt. I thought that maybe that was your of telling me that you didn't want to be friends anymore."
"I didn't…" Duke trailed off as he joined her on the damp grass. "I still wanted to be friends with you. I still want to be friends with you."
"Why not tell me sooner?"
Duke leaned back on his hands. "You're pretty intimidating."
Rosemary almost laughed at that. Duke Hood thought that she was intimidating. It was laughable.
"So, will you?"
"Will I what?"
"Be friends with me again, even though I can be a total asshole?"
"Yes," Rosemary said, watching as a grin spread across Duke's face.
"Does this mean I have 'Rosie' privileges?"
"Did you ever stop calling me Rosie?"
"Then I don't see why you need to ask."
Joy tore her eyes off of her parents dancing on the floor as her husband-husband, she'd never get used to that-grabbed her hand. "What is it?" she asked Roman.
Roman smiled. "Relationships are starting," he said.
"What did you do?" Joy asked.
"Nothing," Roman said not that convincingly, "I just gave a couple people the push that they needed."
"Are these people related to me?"
Roman shrugged. "Maybe."
Joy rolled her eyes. "I just hope that everything went well for them."
"Trust me," Roman said, "It did. Cupid's son, remember?"
"More like a meddling little pixie," Joy said.
"I'm not a pixie," Roman pretended to be offended, "And I'm offended that you even thought such a thing."
Joy laughed. Her husband(eep!) was definitely someone else. She just hoped that whichever one of her cousins he'd been setting up would forgive her. She smiled again as Roman kissed her. Or that they'd end up as happy as her, because, right now, Joy could say with certainty that she was the happiest woman in the world.