Chapter 173: Kailani
Kai smiled at her friend and her groom, at Yngvi's elaborate bow, at the words of the poem that he'd chosen. She smiled until her face hurt, Xaviera's words still stinging, a little. Not the time to be jealous. She wasn't? Was she? Conrad would know, but now was certainly not the time to ask. So she smiled, and watched the elaborate ceremony in a little bit of awe. She'd never seen anything this complex.
As caught up as she was in the grandiosity of it all, she almost missed the most important part, focusing once again on the words being spoken.
"...take you, Shahin, to be my lawfully wedded wife, to love, honor, and cherish..."
Cherish. She didn't want to turn to look at Conrad and didn't dare look at Anatoliy. What a mess she'd gotten them in. And how lucky Emrys and Shahin were to have each other.
The word "swear" brought her attention sharply back to the ceremony. Professor Drake was asking… "Do you swear to protect her, to fight by her side, to take her allies as your friends and her enemies as your foes?"
"I do," Emrys declared proudly. There was no hesitation, no uncertainty, no room for doubt. Could anyone say the same for her, she wondered? Would they?
Would they do so freely, unbound by Law and Bond? She caught herself just as she was going to start chewing on her lip. This was, as she had been reminded, not her day.
Just a form of slavery, her mother would have said, but she was coming to understand that, in some circumstances, her mother had no idea at all what she was talking about.
Shahin, meanwhile, was repeating the same vows, and Kailani found herself analyzing them in more detail. "...to take his allies as your friends and his enemies as your foes..." What about people like Agatha? What about her, for that matter? She wasn't Shahin's enemy... but was she Emrys's, after the tense standoff that culminated in Bowen's release?
How would that work, if one of them considered her a friend - if Shahin did; she still wasn't certain - and one of them considered her an enemy - again, if Emrys did? Would they have to flip a coin? It seemed imprecise. They had sworn, though, so she supposed she would find out. The prospect left her with butterflies in her stomach, for all the wrong reasons at this event.
"I place this ring on your finger, Shahin, as a symbol of my life and a sign of our eternal partnership. As long as we both shall live, may nothing separate us." Emrys was sliding a slim band onto Shahin's ring finger, the sapphires set into it catching the light and dazzling the gathered friends and family.
A moment later, Shahin was repeating his words and actions, a perfect and solemn mirror. His ring, she noted, was heavier and less adorned, although the rich crimson tone of rubies still glinted forth. Fire and Ice, rubies and sapphires. It suited them.
Drake smiled beatifically down at the two of them - at his great grandchildren, weren't they? He didn't seem to mind. "By the power granted to me by the State of South Dakota, I now pronounce you husband and wife." He looked solely at Emrys for a moment, and it seemed to Kai that there must be some conversation going on, just by eye contact, that she was not privy to. "You may kiss your bride."
Whatever message may have passed between them was quickly forgotten by all, as Emrys took Shahin into his arms. It was not the chaste peck she'd seen at a relative's wedding as a young girl. Their kiss was fiery and deep, just this side of salacious, lingering to the edge of the limit of decorum. Shahin pressed her body against Emrys', her hands on his shoulder and back, her face tilted to his, her eyes closed; just watching them kiss, as if there was nobody else in the world, made Kailani blush.
And then they parted, by a mere fraction of an inch, and then, at Drake's gentle guidance, stepped slightly apart.
"Honored guests, family, and beloved friends, it is my great honor to present to you Emrys and Shahin Morn. What has been bound together here, let no man seek to tear asunder." Drake's stentorian voice rang joyfully through the hall.
The bubble of tense anticipation popped, and the hall broke into thunderous applause as the couple turned slowly to smile back at all of them. Kai was clapping just as hard as everyone, grinning ear to ear. They had done it! That they were this beautifully happy seemed like a victory against the hell they'd been through, against this place.
The triumphant joy of it carried her along, and she was barely aware of her own steps as they all processed from the hall.
They had only a short distance to go - across Main Street, to the diner, which had been redone for the occasion with giant flowers and linen-covered tables. The head table was, of course, one of the most bedecked, buried in flowers. It was, Kai thought, as she settled carefully between Aelgifu and Xaviera, almost like eating in a garden.
Around them, the crowd took on that low murmur of conversation that people tended to, excited, happy, gossiping. Did people know, she wondered, that the bride and groom were half-siblings? Did they care?
One or the other of those answers, perhaps both, had to be a "no". At the very least, no one in the gauntlet-like receiving line that the couple was currently negotiating on their way to the table seemed to show any signs of distress.
Except, possibly - it was hard for Kai to tell - the groom's mother. She was frowning faintly as Ambrus and Regine joined the receiving line. It stood to reason, of course; who knew what kind of old feelings and tensions might be harbored there, at their son's wedding? Kai watched raptly from the security of her floral bastion.
"Oh, dear," Ayla murmured from next to her. "This…" The blonde girl was glowing, Kai noticed. "This could be bad."
"For now, at least, there are plenty of others between them. Unless they seek each other out, or someone tries to get them together for something..."
"Like the parents-of-the-bride-and-groom pictures?" Xaviera whispered.
"Yes. Exactly like that. They're going to try and take those before everyone sits down, aren't they?"
"They are," Ayla agreed. "What can we do?"
"We could tackle her," Xaviera offered.
"The mother of the groom?" Kai eyed the other girl skeptically; she'd be the first to admit she wasn't well versed in social graces, but that seemed like it might be frowned upon.
"Or Regine… oh, right." The girl's voice was dripping with disdain. "You're cy'Regine, aren't you?"
"Well, I am, yes, but that's not why..." Kai wrung her hands, floundering at the unexpected barb.
"Stop it, Xav." Ayla could even make scolding someone sound gentle. "They're lining up for their pictures." The crowd of relatives began automatically sorting themselves out; but then Yngvi stepped forward, speaking and gesturing. Kailani could imagine the conversation, even though they were out of earshot; this was one family now, they were joined together, they should take a picture together rather than sorting themselves out. It was, she had to admit, a rather clever way to avoid the obvious public revelation of Ambrus's relation to each of them.
"Well done," she murmured, still watching the agitated mother of the groom - and the very, very serene mother of the bride. "Maybe this won't blow up?"
For a few moments, it seemed that her optimism might be well-placed. The relatives all packed together, and there were enough uncertain glances between the sides that, even if Ambrus garnered a few more than other attendees, he didn't really stand out. The pictures were taken - Yngvi looked quite dapper behind the camera, she couldn't help but notice, he was a natural - and the group began to disperse. That was, until Ms. Morn set a hand on Ambrus's shoulder.
He, in turn, seemed to tense up, but the smile he turned on the woman looked, at least to Kailani's eyes, completely inoffensive. Words were exchanged, and for a moment, Kai wished she could be a fly on the wall there, to hear this interaction.
But, why couldn't she? "Idu Kaana," she murmured, focusing on the ripples in the air, the patterns of spoken sound. She could see the words - and everything else. It was too much, too fast, an overwhelming affront on her mind. Gritting her teeth, she began a second Working. "Quipia Intinn, Quipia Intinn..." Yes, there it was. The images were preserved in her mind, perfect crystalline memories; she could go through them frame by frame to read the conversation, now that she didn't have to keep pace with it. Indeed, Regine was already whisking Ambrus away from the disgruntled Ms. Morn; now, what had they said?
"It was never about you or me," Ambrus had said, sounding gentle and kind. "It was always about him. About Emrys."
"Then I hope that comes back to bite you," Ms. Morn had snarled back. "And someday you find out someone else only wanted you for your seed."
Copyright © 2009-2012 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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