Dominick was beginning to worry, as was his wont. Through his head tumbled all the possible horrors and misfortunes of the wedding… What if someone answered when the priest called ‘speak now or forever’? What if Gabrielle said no at the last moment, stood him up, jilted him at the altar? He would never get over it. And if she didn’t even show up at all? What then?

But surely—surely!—after so long, it must go right. Since his early teenage years and before he had been awaiting this day, anticipating it… What if it didn’t reach up to those expectations?

Fidgeting uncontrollably with his jacket buttons, he stood at the Mary Virgin Chapel porch greeting the latecomers, fretting no matter how Aleks endeavoured to reassure his nerves.

Finally—but not too soon—the music began to play. Led by his little brother, Dominick stumbled down to the front of the church, there to await the coming of his bride. If she came…

But that final moment of panic dissolved when Gabrielle stepped in.

The congregation pivoted as if drawn by her beauty; but Dominick was too stunned to acknowledge any movement but hers.

Her long dark hair was pulled back by a red lily clip, her dress magic and flowing a river of red and white [meh, you ought to do the dress description when we come to edit]

Hermann led her down the aisle, and Dominick couldn’t help but note how gently her arm rested on his, and yet how her eyes were drawn only to himself. Oh, how sweet and perfect she was to him. And she was his own now—or nearly—and he hers. Forever.

Mrs Cardington watched her son with tears spilling down her cheeks. From the front row she could see clearly his nervous smile and shaking fingers, overcome by anxious emotion. Yet his shoulders seemed to rise higher than usual, a tower of joyful anticipation and pride for his beautiful bride.

She saw the way his eyes were locked to Gabrielle’s even after the ceremony had begun, even when the vicar began talking and Aleks whispered in his ear. She saw the tears fighting forward as he struggled to stay strong. And she saw beneath it all a grey-eyed twelve-year-old, soaked and shivering after a long day out toiling for the family’s welfare.

Pride warmed through her and she stretched to stand taller. The man whom her undersized son had become would never cease to amaze her. If anything happened now—please God, no—she would be happy to remember him this way forever.

As Soffie shuffled along the pew to sit on her lap, she squeezed her husband’s hand…the ceremony began.

The End

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