I was alone in the room, pacing in my dress, trying to get used to the weight. If I fell, I would never, ever be able to show my face to anyone ever again. May alone would probably never let me live it down.
I'd forced out my maids, Mom, and May. I needed a few minutes alone, to really come to terms with what was happening. I'd known for months now that this day was coming. We had pushed back the wedding to honor Maxon's parents funerals, allow a period of mourning for those lost during the massacre—a number far larger than I'd like to think about. There was also Maxon's extensive healing. I refused to add more stress onto him as he still had to perform as king while he was recovering.
A knock at the door pulled me out of my thoughts and I groaned. "Mom, please—"
"It's me," a deeper voice, muffled by the door, echoed through the room.
I moved quickly to press my face to the door. "Go away," I hissed.
"Oh, don't tell me you believe in that old superstition," he chuckled.
"Considering our entire meeting was entirely, purely luck, I'm going to roll with that," I retorted.
"Okay, well, I just wanted to give something to you," he explained quickly. "I snuck away from my handlers. Do you remember at Christmas, I said I had another gift for you?"
"You said I had to earn it," I told him, remembering.
"Well, I have it here for you, if you want it," he offered quietly.
"Really, Maxon?" I hissed. "Now is the time for this?"
"Now is the perfect time for this," he countered firmly.
So I opened the door a crack, hiding myself behind it, and reached around with a hand. I felt him press something into my palm and close my fingers around it. The familiar feel of it, knowing what it was the minute he put it into my hand, I almost started crying right there.
Stunned and needing to be sure, I pulled my hand back to me and stared down at it. "Maxon…"
"I figured since he's not here physically to give you away, this would be the next best thing," he explained softly, and I wished so badly that I could wrench open the door and kiss him, but I didn't. So I stared down at the songbird necklace my dad had given me, the same necklace I had given away during the Conviction.
"Maxon, how?" I whispered, near tears.
"I'm king," he said simply, as if that it explained it all. "I have your bracelet back at the palace, as well. Safe in my room. You can have that back if you want it, too, but I figured this would be something to make you feel better going down the aisle.
"Thank you," I said over and over. "Thank you. You have no idea how much this means to me."
He let out a soft chuckle. "I can guess."
"I love you."
"And I love you as well, America," he replied, closing the door for me. "I'll be waiting for you. At the end of the aisle, can't miss it."
"Go away before we get into trouble," I giggled, giddy and excited now. "We could be breaking a law right now." I clasped the necklace around my neck, letting it rest on top of the intricate high-necked gown Mary had made me. It might now fit, but I figured she would forgive me.
"When has that ever stopped you?" I listened as Maxon's laugh echoed down the hall, and I was even more excited now than I was before.