Betrothal

On the way back to the castle, Thalion stopped abruptly and faced me.

"Do you remember what we were talking about before I was ...uh... attacked?"

I could see his aura struggle before he said that word 'attacked.' In his mind he had never died, although his mortal remains were quite dead before his parents returned them to the  Amazon.

"I remember we were talking about.. "

My voice trailed off. Thalion waited.

"Marriage."

 I finished. He had never actually asked me to marry him. I had just assumed. Now I wasn't so sure.  He had  asked me if I ever thought about marriage. He could have been talking about the general concept, as opposed to a marriage to each other.

"Yes, well...I've read as much as I can about human betrothals, and they are far different from Elven rituals."

"Rituals? I wasn't aware of any particular rituals. The guy asks the girl.. and she says yes or no, and that's it. Oh yeah, there's usually a ring."

"That is all part of it as I understand, but there is the ritual of asking the parent or guardian for the woman's hand in marriage."

I laughed. I don't know where he was getting his reading material but it certainly wasn't from the twenty first century.

"Some do, some don't I suppose. Mostly people don't at least not in this century."

"I suppose that explains the response I got when I asked your uncle for your hand in marriage this morning."

I rolled my eyes. I could only imagine. My uncle had a strange sense of humour. I hope he didn't laugh at Thalion. That would  have  been  insulting.

"What did he say?"

"He said he had no objection to us getting married, but I should ask you. If I didn't, he  said  I  would only get your hand.. upside my head for assuming your uncle speaks for you."

"I laughed. That's my uncle Ben. It's usually a good idea to ask the girl at some point."

" I was getting to that. The Elven tradition is to exchange bracelets made of flexible woven mesh, usually gold, with tiny gemstone beads representing fire and water in patterns representing falling rain and the rising sun. The couple gather after dusk with family and friends in a circle around them as witnesses. There is a candle, or some form of small fire between them. The couple hold hands over the flame and hold the bracelet in the other hand. They exchange bracelets and set the wedding date. It  has to take place within a year of this ceremony."

"Okay, that sounds beautiful, but at what point does the girl get asked?"

He grinned. I watched his aura closely. He was hiding something from me. Some kind of surprise. Something he felt good about.

"You'll see. I thought we could spend this afternoon making arrangements to have the ceremony in the orchard this evening after dusk."

"What? I can't get ready for something this important in just an afternoon. "

He smiled gently and put his arms around me and Sarah, who was sleeping soundly on my shoulder.

"It need not be anything showy or staged. It is a simple ceremony with friends and family surrounding us. They  will  hold candles while we exchange bracelets and   announce a wedding date. I suppose it is like posting wedding banns at a family church."

I snuggled into his shoulder.

"Oh, well if you put it that way, I guess there's no need to panic. What about the bracelets? I have no idea how to go about getting one for you."

"That shouldn't be a problem. Your uncle said that there is an excellent gold  smith on the island. All you have to do is bring a gold chain or something with semi precious or precious stones in it to be woven into the bracelet. It is important that the thing you bring has some significance for you. By giving me the bracelet with your cherished jewellery in it, you are sharing something you love with me. I will do the same with your bracelet."

"Oh... that sounds so romantic! "

I looked at my wrist. A delicate gold chain wound itself twice around my wrist. I held  my wrist toward him.

"My grandmother, aunt Sarah's sister, put this necklace on me the day I was born. When I outgrew it, I wore it on my wrist ever since. It's the only thing I have of her."

"Are you sure you want to part with it?'

"I won't be parting with it. You'll be wearing it, and I most certainly don't intend to part with you."

Thalion's eyes went soft and he held me as close as he could with the baby asleep between us. He kissed my forehead.

"I love you so much." He said quietly.

 I leaned against him for a moment. The church bells in the village chimed the hour.

"Oh my gosh! we better get those bracelets made! I'll call aunt Sarah and see if she wants to sit with Sarah Morgan for an hour or so."

"Do you suppose it would be alright if my mother sat with her as well? She doesn't show her feelings much, but I know that she is very pleased with our daughter. There is a definite bond forming there."

I looked at the bright strawberry blond head of the  baby  in my arms and smiled proudly.

"Who could help but love this little angel?"

I found aunt Sarah and Galadriel in the sun room, sipping tea. They both readily agreed to take Sarah Morgan up to my room where she could have a comfortable nap.

When we went into the village to see the goldsmith, he was waiting for us. I had known him since I first started coming to the island in the summer. I loved to watch him make the most delicate jewellery. He came around the counter and gave  me a big bear hug.

"Well now, if it isn't little 'Glorious.' It's so good to see you again, all grown up."

"Thanks Mr. Connor. It's good to see you too. I guess you know why we're here."

"Yes, yes, your uncle Ben called. I understand you want these bracelets immediately if not sooner."

I nodded, smiling.

"Well, let me see what you want woven in."

I took the delicate chain off my wrist and gave it to him. Thalion opened his shirt at the top and pulled out  something that looked like spun silk, but it was actually spun gold. It was in a couple of loops around his neck. He put his head forward and pulled it off over his hair.

" This is  the chain of the eldest son, or heir. it's charmed to keep the wearer safe. This chain kept just enough life in my body to return my spirit to it."

I gasped.

"No no don't take it off! I don't want you to be unprotected."

"I won't be. My father is the leader of the clan, the king, I suppose you would call him. As such he has the ability to put protective charms on anyone and anything he so chooses. He told me that they will be fully charmed and protective by the time we exchange them this evening."

We spent the rest of the afternoon spreading the word. We let Sarah Morgan sleep the whole afternoon so that she could be part of the ceremony.

At supper time everyone sat around the table and discussed who was going to be standing where, and so on. Morgan actually joined in the conversation a little bit. I think she was feeling strong because her training had gone so well. After supper aunt Sarah took me up to the suite she shared with uncle Ben.

She pulled the most beautiful silk gown out of her closet.

"This is the gown I wore at my débutante ball when I was eighteen. I was just about your size then. I had it dry cleaned this afternoon."

I took the gown and swirled around the room in it. it had a satin peach underskirt with emerald green silk over it. There were tiny flowers intermingled in the silk. It was the perfect dress for an elven betrothal. I would look like a meadow in it! I tried it on and it fit perfectly. I could see aunt Sarah wipe away a tear as I sashayed around the room in it.

Just as the sun was setting in the west, aunt Sarah and uncle Ben escorted me to the orchard through a pathway of well wishers holding  candles to guide the way. Mike escorted Morgan, who was carrying Sarah Morgan.

we arrived at the place where a small fire was burning in a small iron cauldron. Thalion came to meet me and escorted me to the fire. His parents formed a closed circle around the fire with Mike, Morgan, aunt Sarah and uncle Ben.We had discussed a wedding date, and neither one of us wanted to wait, so we set the date  for the following week.

We clasped hands above the fire and announced our intentions to marry on that day next week. We exchanged bracelets. He put on his, and I put on mine. Thalion's father announced that we were betrothed.  Everyone gave us congratulations and hugs. I think Thalion was uncomfortable about that part of it, but he gracefully accepted it for my sake.

 I noticed that Morgan looked particularly weepy. In the midst of my happiness, I regretted her sorrow.She gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. I knew that she wished Ash was there. So did I, for her sake. After the ceremony, Morgan  walked with Aunt Sarah, who took Sarah Morgan home so that we could be alone for awhile.

When everyone had gone, Thalion walked me through the orchard. Fruit of all kinds grew there. Apples, pears, peaches, bananas. It truly was a magical place. The full moon was up by that time and the stars were out.

We came to a place where petals of many different flowers had  been  strewn   upon the grass. We stopped there and  suddenly Thalion went down on one knee and took my left hand.

I stared at him in surprise. The whole evening  had been so amazing that I had no idea what he was doing. He kissed my hand.

"Gloria, I love you more than life itself. Will you marry me?"

I burst into tears and threw myself into his arms.

"Yesyesyesyesyes  YES!!"

He reached into a little pocket in his shirt and took out a little velvet box. In it was the most beautiful diamond ring I had ever seen!  He  put it on my finger. It fit perfectly.

" I wanted you to have the benefit of your own rituals as well as mine. We represent two different races, two different cultures, and yet our love transcends the differences and we are one."

We walked back to the castle in the moonlight with our arms around each other. It was the most perfect night of my whole life!

The End

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