This is the next post in the ‘Rescue, of Sorts’ storyline, which can be found at this tag: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/tag/character:+daxton
It is written to a commissioned present for clare_dragonfly, as well as to kelkyag‘s prompt here for my Summer Giraffe Call and a very-requested line item to my Finish It? request.
The wedding was the sort of pomp-and-circumstance affair you’d expect from a nation in the middle of a long peacetime, not one that was attacked on nearly a weekly basis. It was rich and extravagant, and if the coffers of the Duchy and some of the King and Queen’s own money had been plundered to pay for it, so had many people donated time and materials to the event as well.
The bride was stunning, in a confection whispered to have been designed by the groom. You could see the lines of armor in the design of the bodice, and she carried her sword proudly. They were still a nation at war, after all, and she was a soldier.
The groom was handsome, walking tall, recovered from his ordeal in the Red Queen’s dungeon. He wore a suit no less fancy than the bride’s gown, and he, too, carried a sword. They were accompanied by seven warriors, all of them armed to the teeth.
They wore white, all of them, even the priests, the Duke, the Duchess. Most of the guests gave some nod to the white as well, if even just a sash. There was no red to be seen anywhere in the temple or around it. The Red Queen had been driven back but not defeated, and they would not give her quarter here, in their most intimate of celebrations, even in showing her color.
The bride was nervous, but she walked straight forward, her back straight, a smile on her face that would have been beaming had it not been quavering a bit on the edges. The groom smiled almost shyly as he looked around the gathered guests: so many people, his smile seemed to say, although he and his bride both understood. This was only about them in a very small part; this was about not being defeated.
Daxton reached his long march down the left of the temple as Esha finished walking down the right. There his parents, her captain and first lieutenant, and the three highest priests of the duchy awaited them. Daxton reached his hands out to Esha and she, in turn, clasped his wrists.
There were words said, of course. The Duke and Duchess began, speaking of the deal they had made, should anyone rescue their son. There was a moment of silence, because many people had died in attempting that rescue, and so many more people had died in this awful war against the Red Queen. Daxton and Esha bowed their heads no less sadly than anyone else in the temple; they, too, had lost people, and they, too, wanted to remember those people.
Then there were homilies and vows, promises and quiet jokes, input from the crowd — loud input, in some situations, and a few snickered whispers that were probably still louder than intended. For all of the solemnity, marriage was a fun affair and a public one; Daxton and Esha joked right back along with their guests, as did the priests and the Duke and Duchess, the Captain and the attendants.
The ceremony segued naturally into the feast, with the jokes growing louder and more wild, the shouting sliding into group songs. “Let the Red Queen hear what she’s missing!” was a common refrain. Nobody was surprised to hear Esha joining in; the bride, after all, was a mercenary, even if she had been catapulted into nobility by her exploits.
Almost everyone was surprised when Daxton joined in on one of the crudest songs, even presenting a verse nobody had heard before. When Esha elbowed her new husband, he blushed. “The Red Queen’s guards sing, too,” he whispered to her, before providing yet another verse of the ridiculous song.
Eventually, the party died down. The bride and groom slipped away — snuck away might be more accurate — to Daxton’s suite up in the castle.
A few weeks from now, they might head out to the country, to find a piece of land they could grow comfortable on. For tonight, they locked and barred his door and pulled the curtains tightly closed.
“They’ll be expecting…” Daxton began.
Esha shook her head. “Let them expect. We are alone together and it is our wedding night. What happens here is our business and ours alone.”
It wasn’t — not in some sense. They belonged to the Duchy, their returned son and their hero, and they knew it. But for tonight, they could pretend.
“Did you expect this, when you came to rescue me?” Daxton lay on the wide bed and stared up at the ceiling.
“I barely expected to survive.” She lay on her side studying him. “No, let’s be honest. I expected to die. But someone had to try, we were going to keep trying, and I wanted it to be me dying, not someone more important.”
Daxton rolled over to look at her. “You’re important to me.”
Esha smiled crookedly. “Well, then… I’m glad I lived.”
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