Others, 50

Getting Everything You Want Isn’t Too Much to Ask on Your Long Awaited Wedding Day

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It was a good day to get married.

It had been a long enough betrothal, though Gabrielle knew that was stupid. Lots of people were betrothed for years and years, the fact that hers had only lasted a year and a half wasn’t such a big deal, even if she had wanted it to be shorter. She’d always liked Remin too, so the first was a good day for their future anniversary to be on.

But none of that was as important as the fact that Gabrielle was happy to be getting married. Not finally getting married or getting it over with or anything like that. It was her wedding day and she was happy.

“I wore these when I got married,” Mom said, pulling a string of pearls around Gabrielle’s neck. They were gorgeous and had a small pendant in the centre with the horn of House Arkberry on one side and an image of Saint Samuel on the other. “They were a gift from my father to my mother. I know they’re not your style, but…”

“I love them,” Gabrielle said, touching the pendant. She was wearing more rings and jewels and silk than she’d ever worn in her life and she felt wonderful. She’d had her hair all done up in a tower exactly like she’d asked for and even let the barber add some extensions to it to make it longer for the occasion. She’d have them taken out in a few days—Gabrielle didn’t want long hair normally—but for today she felt perfect. When she looked in the mirror, she saw exactly what she’d always imagined she’d look like on her wedding day. Exactly what she’d wanted

Her gown was purple and gold and way too expensive, lacy and frilly and girly. She was wearing gorgeous impractical shoes with heels that had amethysts on them even though they were totally covered by the dress. Even her smallclothes and corset had lace on them. Makeup was one thing Gabrielle didn’t like much, but she was wearing a lot of it and instead of looking like a jester like she always thought she did with it on, it just highlighted all the things about her face that were pretty and complemented all the things about the outfit that were pretty.

It had taken her six hours to get put together. Gabrielle would kill everyone in Dolovai and then herself if she had to do this every single day. But this wasn’t every single day.

Dad put a hand on her shoulder, looking into the mirror. “How are you feeling?”

“Good,” Gabrielle said, smiling at him and putting her hand over his. “I thought I’d be nervous, but I’m not.”

“You’re doing better than your mother and I. We were both terrified before our wedding.”

Mom smiled, putting a hand on Dad’s shoulder. “I think it’s tradition. We delayed everything by an hour between us, but your grandfather had already told the High Presbyter to build the time in for our nerves.”

Gabrielle snorted. “Did you do that for Pauline?”

“We did,” said Dad, making a face. It had been a while since she’d seen him even mildly embarrassed. “And she made sure we knew how inconvenient it was. But it looks like you won’t need it anyway.”

“No,” Gabrielle agreed. “Unless Franz is having conniptions in the other room. Ash?”

“Yeah?” Ashton asked. He wasn’t her squire anymore, but she was glad he was here.

“You want to go tell Silas I’m ready?” Gabrielle asked him. Silas would tell Franz and if he was ready, they’d all go out and do this wedding thing.

“Sure.” Ashton slipped out.

Gabrielle sighed, resisting the urge to fiddle with her hair. Yes, they should get started soon so she didn’t take her own outfit completely to pieces before anyone but her family saw it. “Okay, someone help me stand up,” she said.

Her parents helped her stand, and then Noel came over and straightened out the parts of the dress that were supposed to be straight and ruffled the parts that were supposed to be ruffled. He’d surprised her by being just as competent at helping her get into a gigantic dress as he was at getting her into her armour. “Where’d you get so good at tailoring?” she asked him.

“My uncle’s a tailor,” Noel told her, stepping back with a nod. “There you go.”

“Thank you,” she said, rubbing his hair because he was into that. She reached up suddenly and touched her hair. “Aren’t I supposed to have a circlet here?” It was a symbolic crown—more symbolic than crowns normally were—to remind everyone that she was the princess, in case they fucking forgot.

“Here,” Gavin said, coming over with it in his hands. He’d been out in the front doing their family’s mandatory meeting and greeting with everyone in the world and so had missed most of the part where Gabrielle got her hair done. He reached up and put the circlet carefully on her head, over her brow just at her hairline. “There you go,” he said, giving her a gentle kiss on the cheek. “Just for today I’ll let you be prettier than me.”

Gabrielle kissed him back. “Thank you for your extreme generosity,” she said. He’d gotten so grown up, she thought. He was already married—pretending he wasn’t, which might have been fooling their parents but certainly wasn’t fooling Gabrielle—and had kids. Maturity was a good look for Gabrielle’s clumsy baby brother. He didn’t need her anymore, and Owen there in the corner was the reason why.

He had her anyway, of course, just like she had him, and the rest of her family. And just like she had Franz. Soon she’d have him closer than she had anyone, and Gabrielle had never thought she’d need someone that closely. But that had been before.

The door opened again and Ash poked his head in. “They’re ready.”

Gabrielle nodded, took as deep a breath as she could in this corset, and she stepped out into the hallway. “Let’s go,” she said to Devin, who was outside the door. He nodded and they went. From there it was only a short walk to the nave, and out of an adjoining hallway came Franz with all of his family.

He was wearing a dress too and that’s when she realized that the only one as pretty as her today was her groom. The top half of his was more form fitting than hers, but the skirt was voluminous and structured, moving with his every step. It was also purple but slashed with his house’s green, and he’d put on some makeup of his own and some oil in his hair to make it shine. He smiled at her, and Gabrielle smiled back.

Franz offered her his hand, and Gabrielle took it, and they walked together down the main aisle, towards the altar, where Boey was waiting. He’d tried to warn them about the optics of him appearing in the wedding, but they’d rightfully ignored him and made him a significant part of the ceremony anyway. He helped them both up to the altar and then stepped just slightly aside so Pauline was between them. Gabrielle’s friends had become Franz’s friends before she’d even introduced them, so they were arrayed behind the two of them, witnessing. Olivia was Gabrielle’s best woman, touching Gabrielle’s back gently before the ceremony started.

“We have come together under the roof of the angels,” said the High Presbyter, “to create the most holy union in God’s creation. Her Highness Gabrielle ven Sancte and his Highness Franz DiGorre are to be blessed in matrimony, here in the eyes of all present.”

Nobody was allowed to be blessed in matrimony without a few hours of scripture explaining why that was important, but it was important. Lots of people thought Gabrielle didn’t care much about the Catechism, assuming her pragmatism meant she didn’t care much for churches and scripture. But she’d read all of the Catechism literature about marriage and was quite sure that God did want her and Franz to be married, otherwise they wouldn’t be.

And standing there, listening to the sermon, watching Franz watch her, she could feel God’s presence across her skin. She could feel Him watching her. And she knew this was right.

“With that,” said Pauline, after reciting a homily on the White Epistle. It would have been so easy for her to just read it and talk about how it said marriage was important, but she’d actually spent several minutes explaining that its whole theme was that marriage was a foundational concept to Catechism theology and how its beauty reflected the beauty of God’s plan for the world, and it had been really lovely. “I ask Gabrielle ven Sancte. Do you accept this man as your husband, freely and of your own God-given will?”

Gabrielle had never been more accepting of anything. “Yes, I do.”

With a nod, Pauline turned to Franz. She didn’t like him, but for months she’d been merely disliking him quietly. Or at least, as quietly as a High Presbyter did anything. “And thus I ask Franz DiGorre. Do you accept this woman as your wife, freely and of your own God-given will?”

“Yes, I do,” Franz said, looking lighter and happier than he’d looked the whole time Gabrielle had known him.

“Then in the name of God,” said the High Presbyter, “I ask that you exchange your vows, and your rings.”

Franz had originally wanted Flora and Donny to hand them the rings but that had proven too overwhelming for Donny, so Silas came forward with a ring for Gabrielle, and she took it. They’d practiced the vows several times, because everyone cared if they got them right, but they would be right either way. “Franz,” said Gabrielle, her voice ringing through the cathedral. “I vow to love and honour you, and to support you and your family, with everything I have. I vow to be the best queen I can for you and for our family. And I vow to protect everything we’ll build together, with every bit of strength I have.” They were good vows, and despite everyone’s best efforts, Gabrielle had written them herself. She’d written the next part herself too, and just not told anyone. “I vow to be there for you no matter what, no matter when, and I vow that I’ll always make you happy. These are my vows to you, Franz.” And she slipped Franz’s ring onto his finger, feeling something connect inside her as she did.

Franz was looking at her with so much love in his eyes. Gabrielle knew exactly how lucky she was that her arranged marriage was going to have this much love in it. Frederick handed him his ring, and he put it on before making the vow. “Gabrielle. I vow to love you, unconditionally and without end, to honour you and your house and our family, with all my being. I vow to be the king Dolovai needs, for you and your kingdom and our family. I vow to support you and be what you need, and to use all my power to protect everything we’ll build together.” He took a breath, and went off-script, because of course he matched her perfectly. “And I vow to be your ally, and your confidant, and your king, the king you deserve. I vow to love you so much you’ll be sick of me, and then to love you even more. These are my vows to you, Gabrielle.”

The rings being too much had not deterred Franz and Gabrielle from including Flora and Donny, who handed them a giant bouquet of huge, vibrant flowers, which they held together. Boey held out the marriage ribbon and wrapped their hands in it. Pauline held out her hand over them.

“In the eyes of God, all the saints and all the angels, I hold you to these vows,” she declared. “In the name of God, and all the saints and angels, I bless your union. Gabrielle and Franz ven Sancte, by the will of God and all the saints and angels, and the entire host of heaven and the powers of the world, I pronounce you wed.”

Gabrielle had tears in her eyes as she and Franz kissed, Boey still holding their hands together. It wasn’t the end of the service or the ceremony or the ritual or their duties, and there was a procession still to come and congratulations from every royal and noble who mattered, and a party and a reception and speeches and a dinner and Gabrielle was excited for all of that, but this was what she’d been waiting for. This was what she’d wanted.

Gabrielle and Franz ven Sancte were married, it had been a perfect day, and that was all Gabrielle had wanted.


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