"Now that we're here, maybe we should check how old we are," Sophie decided. "I'll go inside Havenfield and see if Grady and Edaline are home. If they are, I'll ask them how old I am - but after some huge hellos, of course. They are big huggers, as you all know firsthand!" Everyone laughed, and Sophie set off for home.
As soon as she opened the front door, Grady and Edaline ran to embrace her. "Sophie!" they shouted enthusiastically. "We've missed you so much!"
Sophie teared up. "I've missed you too," she whispered. "But now I'm home. And you don't have to worry any longer."
As soon as Edaline wiped away her tears, she laughed halfheartedly. "With you, Sophie, we'll always have to worry."
Sophie giggled. She'd forgotten what it was like to have real elvin parents in the Lost Cities - and boy, was it a huge relief! "I mean, not as much as you have in the last year. I was with humans - and you know how they are! I thought of you every minute I was there, though. I'm so glad I'm back now." It was a bit of a lie - she'd been thinking mostly about how the boys used to look, and what she was going to do with them - but every other minute, she'd missed Edaline's custard bursts and Grady's Verdi-feather covered tunics, even the long lectures on why she shouldn't be so impulsive.
"Well, we have some news for you!" Grady looked like he was going to burst with happiness. "Your first matchmaking scroll arrived three months ago - and it looks like some interesting young men are recommended for you!"
Sophie thought about this. It meant two things. "Wait - you peeked inside my matchmaking scroll?" She rolled her eyes when Grady nodded sheepishly. "Are you ever going to get any less overprotective?"
Grady chuckled. "No. I'm not. But I will assure you, I approve of the top five, and I think you will too..." He winked as Sophie groaned. "Seriously, though. You'll like them, I'm sure."
Now for the other thing she had to check. "Okay, so I was fifteen when we got the matchmaking packet. Scrolls only arrive a year later with the names - when you're sixteen. So that means..."
Edaline nodded. "Yes, Sophie. You're seventeen now. And Biana, Tam, and Linh have been dying of suspense, since they've vowed to wait until you and your boys -" she paused, smiling at her phrase - "have come back. So you need to hurry up and get those scrolls opened!"
Sophie obeyed, grabbing the scroll (which, true to Grady's word, looked suspiciously like it had been broken into) after uttering some quick goodbyes. She raced outside, to where Fitz, Dex, and Keefe were waiting. "Guys, you need to snatch your matchmaking scrolls right now! Yes, they have come! And Biana, Tam, and Linh have been waiting for a year! We'll meet in my room, how about that?" They all agreed it would be fine, and light leaped away.
Sophie breathlessly hailed Biana on her newly fixed Imparter. "Biana?" Sophie said when the silver screen flashed to Biana's face. "We just got back, and we're going to meet in my room here at Havenfield to open our matchmaking scrolls, okay?"
After many enthusiastic "hello"s and "I'm so glad you're back"s, Sophie finally convinced Biana to come. She repeated the same process with Tam, since Linh was always with him, and there was no real need to contact both of them.
Fifteen minutes later, they were all gathered on Sophie's fluffy bedspread. Sandor waited outside, and Sophie knew he would be listening - but at the moment, she really didn't care. He could know about her love life, just like she could know about his: He and Grizel had officially announced their engagement just before she, Keefe, Dex, and Fitz had left, and the wedding was set to occur two months after they came back from the Forbidden Cities. There had been some celebrating, and gloating, and many "I told you so!"s, but it had been a success, and everyone was very excited for the event.
Sophie took a deep breath. "Okay, guys, I can't believe I'm doing this," she told them shakily. "But let's all open our scrolls on the count of three. One..." Her voice faltered, and she looked at the circle of friends surrounding her. She could do this; they believed in her. With those words repeating in her mind, Sophie found new strength hidden deep in her heart. She continued, relieved when her voice sounded steady and confident. "Two... THREE!" With that, everyone tore into their scrolls.