Only hours left. Not even a whole day before the wedding. As I expected, I am nervous. More than nervous, I have never experienced this sort of anxiety before.
Up until now I have not worried because I have been so certain about this. Truly I love Arios. I knew he was the man for the rest of my life. Only he makes me feel that particular sort of ecstasy. Whenever I am with him excitement I am struck by the force of my excitement. Suddenly I experience the world as if it's all new. Things I would normally take for granted become precious and beautiful.
It reminds me of a summer when I was a child and we went to the sea for the first time. Even now I remember the heat of the sun, everything was so bright. It was the first time I'd ever seen the sea and I was absolutely mesmerized by how the sun twinkles on the water. The beams of light teasingly tickling the surface of the waves. It was irresistible.
Similarly, when I was finally in the sea, I loved the feeling of letting go. Since I could not brace myself steady against the force of the waves, I had to let them carry me. To fall into their caress and move with their rhythm. They guided me and I felt secure, the water a pillow beneath me, cool against my skin. Being so relaxed I my appreciation becomes so much more intense. Suddenly I can see wonder and beauty in everything around me.
This is exactly how I feel with Arios. It is the best way to describe it. Despite my nerves, I can't wait to be his wife. With that extra commitment I will feel even more secure. I will be at peace knowing that beautiful experience of life can not be taken from me. Unlike some who may fear making the life-long commitment, I am sure we will love each other forever. Though is has been so soon, I can't imagine myself not loving Arios. He has become part of who I am.
Still I am not entirely settled. After all it is a huge, huge thing I'm doing tomorrow. Surely it's natural for me to be nervous before I take such serious vows. Weddings are also a solemn occasion, it is right for me to be in a sober state of mind.
However I decide the best thing to do is still to go and find Arios. When I am with him it seems so natural I know it will reassure me. I want to know if he's nervous too, whether or he's having any last minute doubts about this.
Surely the fact I'm seeking him now is reassurance in itself. Because it proves that when I am afraid, when I stumble across obstacles, I draw closer to him rather than pull away. Being his wife will not be difficult for me, I am so comfortable with him. In fact, he is one of very
few people I am truly at ease with.
When I find him, he is sat in the conservatory, I can understand why, it is a pleasant spot. He is unusually still, normally Arios is so restless, so much energy waiting to be let lose. Now he is stood still and silent. Looking unusually peaceful for him. Stood there in the shadows, oddly vulnerable, I have an irresistible desire to go and throw my arms round him. He looks as if he needs someone, for some reason it doesn't feel right to see him alone.
I understand why. It is because I have begun expecting to see myself at his side. No longer do I view him as a single man, alone in this world. I am his partner for life.
Before I know it, I am held securely in his embrace. Just like when I was in the sea all those years ago, I surrender control. Quietly submitting, I let him claim me, giving over to his rhythm, matching his movements.
I make no attempt to harden myself, to support my own weight. For the first time I don't even try to look strong. All along I have wanted to be strong and to be brave and to be defiant. I hated to be weak or to be considered weak. Assuming the world would less of me if I hesitated, if I thought before acting. For some reason I was desperate to find the strength I believed I lacked.
Here in his arms none of that seemed to matter. I believed he'd still love me if I showed weakness, I let him support me when I can not support myself. Breaking down completely, I sobbed into his chest. There wasn't really one single reason for my outburst. Really, I think, it was an accumulation of the emotions I'd been trying to hide. Being strong meant I'd ignored so much sorrow. Realistically I have been through a lot over the lately. It was comforting to let it all out.
Arios even seemed to understand. Holding me tighter I felt his compassion and reassurance. He really loved me. I knew he would always be there for me.
Although I wanted to talk to him, there was so much to say. Even if I had time to explain it all to him, I wouldn't know where to start. Yet even if he wasn't aware of exact details, he understood my feelings. He cared for me and I was touched. It was a brilliant feeling.
“Did you need to speak to me?” he asked gently. He was so ready to love me and care about every little concern. I felt so important. This was my place in the world, here where he can protect me.
“Just a few last minute nerves. I admit, I'm slightly overwhelmed, it's such a big thing. It will change my life. I wanted to be with you, that's all. It felt right. I always feel better with you, calm. And when I'm with you, I know we will always be together.” We stood together enjoying the closeness. A warm longing feeling seared through me, overcome with emotion I wanted only to cry some more.
In the end I gave in, I've already let him see my vulnerability. Yet when I am feeling weakest it seems to stir up some deep protective instinct programmed deep into Arios' personality. It's good to have someone else care about me, to know I have at least one ally in all the world. When I am his wife, I know I will be well looked after. He'd never allow anything bad to happen to me.
The next morning I wake early, still tired because I didn't go to be till late. I was enjoying being with him, being reminded that this was the best thing to do.
He'd pointed out that I'd got away from Binnin now and he'd never know if we didn't actually get married. I told him I wanted to marry him.
It's true. Now I prepare for my wedding with complete certainty. This is right. This is necessary, I couldn't live with him. In marriage I can expect every sort of happiness. My husband is perfect, he will love and care for me, he will listen to me and help me and brighten my days. A life-time together is scarcely enough time. He makes me want to live forever.
Desperately hoping I don' loom to groggy, I climb out of bed and turn the light one. Admittedly I'd forgotten about Lottie, who was not to pleased to have he sleep disturbed by me for the third time in 24 hours. She understood however, she is always selflessly supportive of me.
To be honest, although it's cruel, I'm sort of glad she woke up when I put put the light on. She'll be able to help me get ready. Since I got so little sleep last night, I have dark circles under my eyes, I also have a spot coming on my chin. Today of all days, I really need her make-up expertise.
My hair too seems particularly flat and unexciting this morning but I trust she can set it right. Her hairstyles are beautiful. Most reassuring though, is the fact I couldn't possibly look ugly in my dress. Obviously, I can't wait to put it on. But I'll have to wait for that because I don't want to get make-up or hairspray on it or burn it with the curlers.
Although this started soon after I arrived, I'm still not over the novelty of seeing my face on all the papers that arrive in the mornings. Everywhere I look I see myself. It is kind of all those people to be so welcoming. From what I've heard and read, it seems they do not begrudge being ruled by a foreign queen. They are only to happy to see me married to Arios. He was right when he said they all viewed him as a best friend.
Already, I'm beginning to fall in love with this country. The lively people, the stunning scenery, the bustling city. In the palace I feel surprisingly settled too. Whilst it is grand, it is also homely. It has been designed to be comfortable and not overly showy. Soon all this will be my family home. I am getting married in four hours.
Arios desired a quiet wedding outside the city so both the ceremony and reception are to be held in an ancient castle out in the country side. Back home we had very few open, wild spaces left but here in Mylian they have preserved so much natural beauty.
I am waiting in the great entrance to the castle. The few guests Arios invited have already assembled in the great hall.
Someone I do not recognize is stood waiting for me as I entrance. He hands me a note.
My darling Vita,
Unbelievable as it may sound, today we are going to be married. Naturally I want every moment of today to be perfect for you. I don't want you to have any regrets so soon. Firstly I have persuaded Binnin to allow your mother to come. That was the easiest bit, and then it gets more complicated. I finally managed to locate your old friend Zayna and she too is here, I'll explain it all later. And finally, most importantly, I realized you had nobody to walk you down the aisle and give you away. Fortunately I managed to secure your brother just in time. Seeing as you think he's dead, he was more than a little nervous about this so be kind.
Wow, that was a lot to take in. Nasty man, expecting me to marry him in such a state of shock. This is not the time for me to be side tracked. The next few minutes will be the most important in my life. I will be taking the sacred vows that will bind me to Arios for the rest of my life. Yet now I suddenly have a brother to be reunited with, back from the dead as far as I'm concerned. I have to speak to my mother who I'm still very confused about. I was planning on saving all that discomfort till after I was safely married. And after all that, I still have to explain to one of my best friends why I choose to abandon her without even telling her a word of my plans. Why thank you my love; I can't imagine a better wedding present.
All sarcasm aside, I am touched (and rather curious) by his gesture. It could not have been easy to arrange.
To my utter disbelief, Mr. Edington joins me in the castle entrance.
“I'm sorry Vita. They lied to you. After they took your memories they told you I was dead. I couldn't get word to you. It was too dangerous. I had chosen my course and I didn't want to force you to follow. I wanted you to discover it all again for yourself. To take back what they stole. I hoped you might work it out when you were with us, you know Ed, Edington, farfetched I know. However improbable it was, I convinced myself you knew because I was afraid to tell you. I didn't know how. Maybe that's why we argued and fought against each other. Even if they tried to take me from you, somewhere inside it is deeply engrained that we are siblings.”
However angry I should be at him, however unsure this first reconciliation should be, I was in a mind to be happy today. Ready and eager to be pleased by everything and everyone. The realization that I had someone else to love, one good and decent relative, was more than I could resist. I was so proud of him too. To know that whatever a monster my father was, however doomed that made me feel, even though even my mother had defaulted to his side, my own brother, dear Edward, had stuck with the good guys. Trust Ed to be the one to keep up a fight when the rest of the world crumbles. To be strong when others fall short.
I give him a big hug, gripping him tight so he can't slip past me again. Another set of memories comes back, all from when we were growing up together. I've always been so proud of my big brother.
“Hey don't we have a wedding or something to get to, you haven't dressed up like that just for me?” How could I ever have considered getting married without Eddie here at my side to keep my mind from wandering off.
“Come on, take my arm, you've got yourself a pretty smart man and I won't let you run off now.”
Together we walk into the hall. The music strikes up and we both step perfectly in time. Arios has picked a beautiful piece, it's so romantic. He needn't have worried, there is nothing I could regret.
Time seems slowed as I progress down the aisle, I take in every detail, this is so important to me. Yet as soon as I get my first glance of him I am totally transfixed. The love filling his eyes leaves me captivated: I wonder how anyone could feel that way about me. Soon I will belong to him.
Remaining in a fuzzy blur, I take my vows. Not that any of this feels real. Of all the emotions I imagined I would feel, I didn't suspect I would be so utterly overwhelmed by disbelief. When the last few words are spoken, I will suddenly become his wife. No matter what others think, I believe that is something that can never be undone. Here I am promising myself to this man, for better or for worse, till death do us part.
Despite all this I am not hesitant, for once it is not hard for me to make a decision. The promises, although sacred, come easily. Stood beside him I yearn to spend my life with him. To never be parted even in death. My feelings are set, I can relax in cool certainty.
Before I know it my part is over, those precious moments ended my married life begins. Now I am secured a life-time of Arios. We start with the kiss.
He is crying as he kisses me. Shamelessly, in front of all these guests, in fact recorded for the entire world to see, he gives way to his emotions. Whoever would dare call that weak misunderstand what it means to be strong. When I see Arios in tears, I feel most in awe of him.
At last we are bound together, he feels it too because he is holding me more tightly than normal. Taking possession of me, he kisses me, letting everyone see- here I belong. I fit snugly into his arms as if I was designed to be there, a wife made to measure. The perfect fit. Engulfed in Arios, I feel his warmth all over me, still I shiver. Unfortunately, we have the practical difficulty of leading out when I refuse to leave the place I have found nestled against my husband.
Arios is quick to solve the dilemma, sweeping me up into his arms and forcing me to press myself harder against his chest. Desperate not to slip and spoil the moment, I wrap my arms tightly around is neck. His skin feels hot. When I press my head into him, I can here his breathing- far faster than usual.
Surely my confident, collected (perhaps bordering arrogant) husband isn't anxious.
“What's the matter my darling?” I whisper it right into his ear to make sure I am not overheard. As I do I stroke his cheek, unable to resist that inviting face.
“Are you sure you don't mind being stuck with me. I am so terrified of making a mistake, here today I have been entrusted with the care of the most precious treasure ever known and I know I am not worthy.”
“I am insulted! How dare you call yourself unworthy when I chose you. And you know what else? I wouldn't take anybody else. Please believe me when I say, 'I love you' because in this troubled world, it is the only thing I know for certain. I have spent my life searching for truth in one way or another and now I have found it. The truth is this, that I, Vita Zavisan, love you, need you and, if I must admit it, depend upon you. The truth is I can never leave you. So please, I beg you, take me and all that I am. Let me be your flagship, give me purpose.....”
He cuts me off by putting me down but without letting go. He seems to fold me into his arms. He kisses me again. All the guests have gone on now so we stand alone. All I want his him. Eventually, we'll still have to find the will to rejoin our guests, but this moment is ours and ours alone.