There was something very beautiful and heart-warming to me about
Julian's wedding, and it wasn't just the presence of ancient trees.
Perhaps it was the proximity to my own; perhaps it was the fact that
Julian actually wore something other than his armor for the occasion
(though my image of Julian, tall and remote in those white enamel scales
is the image I prefer). It was probably neither of these things. I think
it was the bride, Flavia Bances, now Barimen, her head held high, marching
to the altar on the arm of her rat-bastard brother, wearing tights and a
Now that is a woman to be reckoned with. I hope Julian is happy
with her, and more importantly, she with him. She could easily be the
best of his rangers, if he unbent enough to make her one.
This ceremony was uneventful, and the party thereafter wound down
to Gerard and Felix collapsed and snoring in the corner, while Vivienne
caught fireflies among the trees.
I thought only briefly of Shard; I could not work up enough
sympathy to feel sad that he had missed his father's wedding, as Foster
and I hauled Felix home to his rooms in Foil.
The next day dawned with a flurry of wedding plans. As soon as I
could, I turned over the planning of details to my various mothers and
fathers and other relatives. I charged Foster with inviting the
Amberites, and I sent out the invitations to my newly Chaosite aunts
myself. I turned some of the planning over to Felix, who turned it over
to Tamaryn, and some over to Fiona, who turned it over to Flora. Hm.
Score one for Felix and Fiona, each.
While inviting Mandor and Emer and Jordan to the wedding, I had
the stupidity to mention that Vetch wouldn't be there and I had wanted him
to. Mandor thrilled to the notion of ordering Vetch there, and for a
moment, I did too. There's nothing quite like being the impetus for an
abuse of power--until you begin to consider the notion of karmic
retribution. Or worse, Vetchian retribution. Ah, well. He'll either
torture me or kill me... or he won't. We'll see.
My bridesmaids and I went into Shadow to find my dress, since it
wouldn't be much of a statement to repeat Flavia's performance with the
tights, and besides, I had sort of promised Foster. Ariana talked me out
of Elizabethan, the only style for dresses that I really feel comfortable
in, and since she had me in a Napoleonic Empire waist anyways, I insisted
that we follow the fashion of pre-Waterloo and dampen the thin muslin.
Ariana had no problem with this, of course, and neither did the woman who
eventually became my third bridesmaid. It was Beauty who balked. She's
nothing like her mother...
The day passed, and everything was beginning to at least pretend
to cohere. I contacted the Priest of the Unicorn who was to marry us, and
also Usires, who it was suggested would be *the* groomsman to make Foster
sorry for whoever he was going to choose for me.
Evening came, and I booted the extraneous men from Foil (i.e., not
my subjects), and Ariana, Viktoria, Kira and Fiona came to deliver me to
my doom. Which I met tied up in a lavender blindfold, I might add (nice
touch, Mom). They took me to Rebma, where a most wonderful thing awaited
me, and that was a production of _Measure for Measure_ that would have
made Elizabeth dance for joy. Preferably with two or three of the Rebman
men who attended us. Afterwards, there was an episode of Rebman Rhythmic
Massage--external only for those of us with vows to honor. It was...
hedonistic. And about what I'd expect from Ariana. Needless to say, I
had a lovely time, except for the bit with Beauty.
We've got to find someone to replace her vampire.
In any case, we returned to our various homes in the wee hours,
and I was glad I had barred the Amberite males from my Shadow. I only
went to bed for a little while, being far too nervous to truly sleep
(though I was extremely well-relaxed). I went to the grove and spent a
long time there, considering the step I was about to take.
Meditation wasn't coming to me easily, and I knelt for a long
time, until my legs from the knees down were absolutely numb, and even
longer than that.... I opened my mind slowly to the trees, and felt that
my feet were taking root... that my legs and torso were growing a tough
outer layer of bark... my arms became branches and my hair became
leaves... The sunlight was warm, on my face and my closed eyelids, and on
the earth surrounding me.
Slowly, I opened my heart to the air, and to the sunlight, and to
the trees... And to Foster, my love, and onward, to my children, Haris
and Beauty, and to the other children of Amber, Nicholas and Vivienne,
Darby and all of Ariana's brood... and on, to Ariana and Ahab and
Felix.... and out again, in greater concentric circles, to the people I am
wary to love, Mandor and Fiona, Driscoll and Riftvan... and to the first
family that I had grown to love, some still living, most gone to the earth
and the Isles of the Blessed: Mother, Rose, Senlin, Elizabeth, and even
Calamus. And my heart opened wider and I thought of everyone I had ever
thought to love -- my brother and sister in Chaos, my blind cousin on the
Disc and his companions who were, for a brief time, my companions, Looks
Twice and Hickory.
It was a deep and long meditation, and when I was through, I came
back to myself and Foster again... after all, today was our wedding day.
I made a mantra:
My love is not a lily,
Neither pale nor pure nor white,
And it did not grow in one day,
Nor perish in one night.
My love is not a rose,
For my passion's not so red,
Though there are thorns to pierce me,
And there is sweetness in my bed.
My love, if it's nature were
Vegetable, would be
In height and in circumference
The image of a tree;
Its beauty in its verdure,
Its truth in rings unseen.
And then, after a dizzying session of dressing and primping and
everything, Lord Suhuy guided me through the gathering of people, to stand
between Ariana and Foster. The world came into focus again when he took
my hand, and Foster's case of nerves came through to me... though I wasn't
so sure it was a case of nerves, but a case of rampant frustration. I
looked over at Ahab briefly--what had he done to my husband?
I pulsed a few visual images to Foster to help him regain his
grasp on reality--some of which worked better than others. The
"woman-pain" that he had scorned about three months before was delivered
into his mind with some relish, and he reeled, but had a better grasp on
the situation when it had passed. The ceremony continued. When the
priest asked if any present objected to the proceedings, I saw both my
Matron of Honor and the Best Man finger objects in their sleeves and look
speculatively behind their shoulders. If it weren't so sad, it would have
been funny, how they were prepared for Driscoll.
Then--a quick vow, an exchange of rings, and a long, desperate
kiss from my beloved, and we were marching down the aisle at the head of
our wedding party. Foster began muttering a spell before we had cleared
to the area of the Grove where we were to make a receiving line--and then
propelled me forward, into the trees, where a nice patch of moss awaited
us, and the marriage was consummated with all due haste. Poor Foster.
Then, straightening and fussing, we hurried back to make the
receiving line, as the last bit of sunlight faded from above the trees,
and the first stars came out; and I realized that these were the stars of
Amber, and once again, Amber was my home.
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