What is happening? What's this string? Why is it glowing? What is happening?
The red string drags me into the ballroom of the castle. I hear gasps, and I look up.
Oh no. The soulmate ceremony was today, wasn't it? Am I going to have to marry Princess Allison?
The string pulls me to the front. A servant boy with frizzy hair is already standing by Allison. Does that mean...
I look at Christopher. He looks horrified. So do the Queen and King. And my dad, who's standing by them.
This is not what was supposed to happen.
The string is still yanking on my arms, and it’s pulling me towards Chris. It doesn’t stop pulling until my finger brushes his shoulder.
My hands drop, and the string falls to my feet. Chris and I look at each other.
I can’t believe this. That means Delvin lied to me. But he would never. But this wasn’t supposed to happen. I was supposed to marry a royal princess, not a prince.
Finally, Allison clears her throat and people stop looking at us. She says something to the Queen, and she nods.
“Everyone is dismissed.” She annonces. “Go to the courtyard for the feast.”
People stand, chairs scraping the floor. As people file out my dad walks over.
“Explain.” He says. Is he mad?
I shrug. “I don’t know. I was in the stables, and the string dragged me here.”
He looks at the king who is frowning.
“Do you think there was something wrong with the spell?” He asks.
The king shook his head. “No.”
He knows something. He studies me, then nods. “It’s not wrong.”
“Are you sure? Because-”
“I am sure, Salen.” He interrupts.
The Queen stands. “We need to attend to the festivities. Children, stay here, and get to know one another.”
They walk out, my dad following.
“I wish she wouldn’t call us children.” Chris and I mutter. He glances at me, almost smiling. Then he seems to remember I’m me, and frowns.
“This makes no sense.” He says out loud. “Why would we be soulmates?”
He’s nervous, which is rare. He runs his hands through his hair, and my eyes widen.
His fingers are fuzzy and black.
I grab his hand, ignoring his protest. It’s spreading fast, and if he doesn’t do something he’ll turn into a cat.
“What are you doing?” He hisses. “Let go of me.”
I glare at him. “Would you shut up a minute?”
I cover his hand with mine, and he stops. “Calm down,” I whisper. “Do you want people to know?”
He seems shocked, but shakes his head.
“Then calm down.”
I glance up at him. Is he seriously blushing? I look for his sister, and see her sitting with the servant, deep in conversation.
His fingers slowly go back to normal. I let his hand drop.
“You can change too.” He says in wonder.
I nod. “Yeah. Why can’t you control it?”
“I never told anyone.” He admits.
Smart. “You need to work on that.”
He’s still blushing, and he doesn’t look mad anymore. Now that I’m this close to him, he doesn’t look how he normally does. He’s usually serious, and annoying. Now, he looks calm and cute.
Wait, cute? No, I can’t think that. Right? Because Delvin would never lie to me. Right?
I put a hand to my forehead, and see it’s turning white and furry.
I swear. Chris widens his eyes, and grabs my hand. For some reason it’s spreading much faster than his fur was. It’s halfway up my arm.
Chris drags me to a door before his sister sees me. He shuts the door just as I turn into a white cat. Why is it always a cat?
I curse loudly. Chris winces, and bends down.
“Are you okay?” He asks me.
I try to turn back, but can’t. “What do you think?” I mutter at him, pacing around the small room.
“You don’t have to be rude.” He replies.
I stop and look at him. “You can understand me?”
“No, I’m talking to the fly on your head.” He deadpans.
I growl at him, but he just picks me up.
“Put me down!” I howl. “What are you doing?”
“Shut up a minute.” He says.
He pets my back, and the growl turns into an unintentional purr. He grins.
“What are you doing?” I demand.
He scratches my ears. “Calming you down. Is it working?”
“No.” I mutter. Yes. Yes it is.
He sits down in a chair, and keeps stroking my fur. “What happened?”
“When I get mad I change.” I tell him. I might as well.
He nods. “Why were you mad?”
“Remember Delvin?” I ask.
He nods. “Your older brother?”
“Yeah. He ran off with his girlfriend.” I say.
He runs his fingers through my fur. “What about him?”
“He had precognition.”
“He could tell the future.”
“When I was born, he told my dad I would grow up and marry a princess.”
“So he lied?”
“I don’t think so. He never lied in his life. Well, not that I know of.”
“So you're mad why?”
“Because I grew up expecting one thing, and got something else.”
“Isn’t your something else better, though?”
“Whatever. I just don’t know how my dad is going to take this.”
“He’ll have to deal with it.”
“Are you still mad?”
“What do you think?”
“Why do you hate me so much?”
“I don’t hate you.”
“You act like it.”
“You constantly annoy me.”
“How would that be me hating you? I annoy everyone.”
“I never hated you.”
The door swings open, revealing the king, queen, and my dad. Thank god. I was about to tell him I like him.
“Christopher? What are you doing here?” His mom asks.
His face is red, and he seems at a loss for words.
“Say you lost something, and I went somewhere.” I hiss.
They don’t even look at me, and I’m glad I’m too nervous to change back.
“I - I lost my..ring and I was looking for it.” He says.
He’s a terrible liar. He’s also freaking out. His hands are softer, so I curl up in his arms, trying to calm him down.
His mother nods, and I sigh in relief.
“Come on honey, we have things to do.” he says, walking away. The king glances at Chris, who nods, then follows her. My dad looks like he doesn’t want to, but they need a guard, so he goes as well, closing the door behind him.
I calm down immediately after they’re gone, realizing what's going to happen too late.
I change back, and fall on top of Chris. He’s bright red, and I suspect I am too.
Our faces are inches apart, and we’re staring at each other. He is really cute.
“Sorry,” I say, getting up.
He sits up, and rubs his head. “It’s fine.”
I open the door and we walk out.
“Where do we go?” I ask him.
He bites his lip. “My room. I want to show you something.”
“Not like that!” He says, blushing.
We walk to the doors.
“Shut up, it doesn’t work like that.” He mutters suddenly.
I look at him. “What?”
“Not you, this stupid fly.” He says as we go into the hallway.
I raise an eyebrow. “What did he say?”
“She said that, uh, I have something in my hair?”
I snort. “You are a terrible liar.”
“Shut up.” He tells me, blushing again.
I grin. “So what did she really say?”
“What were you going to say before our parents came?” He asks, turning the corner.
Now I turn red. “Nothing.”
“It was nothing!”
“If it was nothing, why are you so red?” He asks smugly, opening a door.
I cover my face. “You're annoying.”
“I’m not.” He replies, walking into the room.
It’s...huge. Like, two times the size as mine. He has a huge bed in the middle, and random stuff all around it.
I don’t know where to go, so I stand around until he rolls his eyes and gestures towards his bed, where he’s sitting.
I close the door and walk over. He’s rummaging through a box he got from under the bed.
“Here,” He says, pulling out a thick book, and sitting by me.
He’s really close, and I get nervous. Not enough to change, though.
“We have to read? That takes too long.” I ask.
“I am not lazy!” I protest.
He smiles. “Are you sure?”
He shakes his head. “Yes you are.”
“Then you’re annoying.”
“Shut up.” He mutters.
I grin. “Make me.”
“Fine.” He says.
Then he leans forward and kisses me.
I turn into a cat.
His eyes widen. “Are you okay?”
“What just happened?” I ask.
He bites his lip. “I kissed you…”
“...I like you?”
“Okay, that’s what I thought.”
Now that I know he likes me back, I calm down, and turn back.
He looks down. “Sorry.”
“Shut up.” I tell him.
He looks up. I grab his face, and kiss him.
When I pull back, he’s red.
“What just happened?”
I tilt my head. “Seriously?”
“Shut up.” He says.
We kiss again, this one longer than before.
I pull him close, and he twists his fingers in my hair. When we break apart he grins.
“Stop that,” I tell him. “It’s cute.”
He blushes which makes me laugh.
“Finally!” A voice says.
We both whip around. A boy about our age is sitting in the desk chair, with his feet propped up on the desk.
He has pointed ears, and pale skin. His hair is curly and red. He looks like the paintings of elves that are in the library.
“Who are you?” I ask.
He grins. “I’m Aerin.”