Two of Arinyanka’s younger cousins were helping her dress, while a third and fourth stood behind her on a stool, braiding ribbons into her hair.
On the other side of the room, two more of her cousins were doing what they could with Girey’s hair and beard. He was reading, holding the ancient scroll carefully while layers were draped over and around him. There was no complaining. He hadn’t spoken, as a matter of fact, since she’d handed him the scroll.
He looked up. There were eight other people in the room with them, but he looked directly at her. “This isn’t in any of the Bitrani histories.”
Rin opened her mouth to answer, but he beat her to it. “It wouldn’t be. We – the priests removed so much as heresy.” He set the scroll down with the reverence it deserved; a cousin stepped in immediately to clasp bracelets on both Girey’s wrists.
He cleared his throat. “I -” He shifted to Bitrani and tried again. “I understand.” His gesture, short as it was, took in the finery he was wearing, the Bitrani royal colors a repeated note in clothing that was otherwise entirely Calenyena.
“You don’t mind?” It was a foolish question, but the Girey she was wedding this week was so different from the one she’d kidnapped. She found herself still expecting some complaint, some whining.
He smiled crookedly. “Of course I mind. But I was always going to go to a state marriage, before. And this… this is a state marriage all right. Just… gaudier.”
Rin chuckled quietly. “Don’t tell me that Bitrani get married in mud and dirt colors, too?”
“Mud and dirt,” he agreed solemnly, “and don’t forget dust.”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for getting married in silk and finest linen, then.” Her shoulders settled and Rin found herself smiling. “Not even itchy army-issue wool.”
“I suppose I can live with it.” The cousins were looking at him strangely. Girey laughed, a short sound she still didn’t hear often. “For you.”
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