Posted on September 3, 2017 at 07:29:31 PM by ROYAL WEDDING
It was strange, being so happy so soon. It was strange wearing white so soon. Gaiane understood why the wedding hadn’t been postponed in light of the battle and attack. The sooner the wedding, the sooner everything would return to normal and the grief would end. The chaos of hearing that Tristan had killed his father would die down and the rage of the passing of the king would give way to acceptance of the new king. It was just strange to be in this position that Gaiane hadn’t even considered until she had heard the news.
Never had she been waited on hand and foot. Even as a courtier, she’d done most things herself. She had assumed as Mordred’s wife it would remain the same, but she was about to gain a much higher title. Everyone seemed to buzz around her at her beck and call. A rumble in her mind drowned out the welling panic as servants darted back and forth. At least Pallas was enjoying herself. The attention being lavished on the feather dragon had been something Pallas had deemed herself worthy of the moment she and Gaiane had met. Having others pamper her and groom her feathers was simply a right she’d been denied for her whole life.
“Ow,” Gaiane hissed, her leg recoiling as the seamstress jumped back.
“Beginning your pardon, your…” the seamstress stumbled for the proper title to address Gaiane. She’d been commissioned after the battle to do the final adjustments to ensure the dress fit perfectly.
Gaiane waved off the apology and smiled nervously at the woman, who seemed to relax and return to her work. With a shaky breath, Gaiane turned to the mirror and let her hands roam over the details she was wearing. Nimueh had outdone herself on this dress. Beading and jewels were in abundance, but what Gaiane loved most were the feathers. Not so many as to look gaudy, but in small areas as accessories. If Pallas was going to play a part in the ceremony, Gaiane felt that having her represented on the dress was important. She teared up at her reflection.
Another servant stepped into the line of vision, and Gaiane dabbed the moisture from the corners of her eyes with a finger before her face could become wet. The man before her gave her the stink eye, before applying powders and paints to her face. At the same him, her head began to tilt in one direction and then another as someone she couldn’t see began to address her hair. She held as still as she could to aid both in their endeavors but she was glad when they were finished. She was not her familiar. The only detail she’d insisted on – a bright blue ribbon matching her eyes, one matching the favor she’d bestowed upon Mordred before his tournament, so long ago – was apparent, even with her hair done up elegantly.
When everyone finally stepped away from her, Gaiane stared at herself, barely recognizable in the reflection. She smiled. “Thank you,” she murmured to the retreating backs of the servants.
She waited then, alone in her quarters. She hadn’t been comfortable in these room since she’d be locked inside somehow during the attack on the castle. Unable to escape, unable to even open the lock, she’d feared for her life. Mordred had saved her again, and the evidence was still present on the damage to the frame and the lock that had snapped as the door was kicked open. It had been then she’d learned of the death of the king, the disappearance of Nimueh. It was then she’d comforted her fiancé on the loss of so much of his family. She stared at the lock now, remembering. At least today would be joyous. At least today the family would grow, even if not everyone could be present.
She stayed there, staring, until a pale hand and face entered the room. Gaiane had rarely seen much emotion on her mother’s face, but Styx was smiling now. It wasn’t the overwhelming joyful grin that so many would expect, but Gaiane knew it was about the upper limit on emotion that the oracle would show. Neither was particularly close, and embracing would be awkward, but Styx put her hand on her daughter’s arm, letting the moment sink in.
“We should head down,” the immortal one stated, breaking the silence and ending the connection by pulling away. A small serving girl held the train as mother and daughter wove through the castle and down the stairs. Only a few guards were positioned in the corridors. Everyone else had been kept away from this area of the castle until the wedding was finished.
Just outside the great doors, Gaiane stepped into a room filled with other members of the wedding party.
Just outside the door, citizens from all over Shaman had been gathering in anticipation. Invitations had been sent throughout the world before the Battle of the Peaks. In the aftermath, once it had been decided there would be no postponement or cancellation, announcements were made to ensure the safety of hosts and guests alike. Now, the clamour of hundreds of conversations all fighting to be heard over the din became the only thing Gaiane could hear, even as those in the room with her attempted to get her attention to remind her of last minute obligations and traditional rites.
It was Morgana who was finally able to break through the noise in Gaiane’s head.
Morgana rested her hand on Gaiane’s arm and leaned over with a smile, “Can I just steal you for five minutes?” She tipped her head in the direction of a door to their left. Gaiane nodded and found herself being steered through the crowd. They parted to let her through, a phenomenon she still needed to get used to.
The empty room was smaller, emptier and several degrees cooler. Morgana brushed past her and set a black leather box down on one of the smaller tables. Curiosity peaked, Gaiane took a couple of steps further into the room. It was quieter here, but the buzz of excited chatter from the neighbouring room leaked under the door.
“I know Dred is still waiting for the jeweller to finish your crown,” Morgana said, lifting off the top of the box, “so I thought you might like to borrow this.” She stepped to one side so Gaiane could see and rested her pale hands against the dark blue of her dress.
The tiara, lightweight and elegant, lay against a cushion of blue velvet. Delicately sculpted leaves overlapped and gemstones took the place of berries.
“It’s…” Gaiane couldn’t pull her eyes off the gemstones, and the speckles of light reflected around the room. “It’s beautiful, Morgana.” She turned to her soon-to-be sister-in-law and smiled. “Thank you so much. You, your family have all be so kind and welcoming to me. I…” She trailed off again, realizing it was probably the wrong thing to say. Bringing up recent losses was a rather poor show of gratitude, but it was true. In an attempt to overcome the awkward pause, Gaiane embraced Morgana tightly. “Thank you.”
She held her a few moments longer, in spite of Morgana’ straight-backed stiffness, before stepping away again. Though the smile remained, her eyes had faltered, falling into a state of contrition over her words rather than excitement.
A head appeared through the door - a noblewoman wearing what must have been every piece of jewelry she owned - and glanced at the pair. “They’ve just given a two minute warning, your highnesses,” she said before retreating.
Although it didn’t cut the tension, it at least spurred the two women into action. Morgana lifted the tiara from its cushion and placed it on Gaiane’s head. “There,” she said stepping back to admire her work. Nodding her satisfaction she turned and placed the lid back on the now-empty box.
“I’d stay in here until you’re ready if I were you,” Morgana told her matter-of-factly, “if you need more time, they’ll wait.” She reached out and gave Gaiane’s hand an encouraging squeeze.
“I’d best go.”
Gaiane nodded as Morgana left. She took another minute to compose herself and, taking a deep breath, returned to the busy room to wait for the procession to start, and her cue to walk down the aisle.
When the music began to play, it echoed through the castle’s halls, rebounding off stone walls, only blunted by the sporadic tapestries, every noble who would be in the processional began to line up in the atrium of the great hall. Gaiane stood at the end, just behind a few of the young children of the higher ranking members of court. Slowly, and with trembling hands, she reached up to pull her veil down over her face. Gaiane’s breath caught in her chest as the double doors were pulled open and the long walk to the altar. The destination of the long journey of courtship and love was in easy reach, and the veil was the only thing maintaining the appearance of composure, hiding the grin that stretched between the apples of Gaiane’s cheeks.
The music changed, and Gaiane began her march, down the gap between faces staring at her from the crowds on each side of the aisle. She barely noticed them. They were the white noise framing Mordred, standing tall at the end, waiting. It seemed endless, this march, but she strode on, finally passing her mother in the front row, and stepping onto the dais beside Mordred.
When the music ended, Morgana stepped up in between the bride and groom to address the throngs of Shamanites. “Dearly beloved,” she began.
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