“There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”—Homer
“Nervous?” Niall asked.
Sookie shook her head as she looked at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were already brimming with moisture—given the emotion of the day and her hormones. However, the shiny tears in her eyes no longer made her think of her mother’s critiquing eyes in the same way they once had. Still, Sookie couldn’t help but to think of her mother on—this—her wedding day. She sighed. In truth, Michelle’s voice still sprang into her head every now and then, but there were many, many things to help Sookie block out her mother’s negativity.
One of them was kicking some sense into her even then.
“The baby kicking?” Niall asked excitedly. None of his own grandchildren had given him great-grandchildren yet, so Niall had happily adopted Sookie’s as his first, even though the child would literally be his first cousin—though four times removed. And he didn’t intend to own to the “great” part of the “grandfather” label—except when it came to quality.
“Yes,” she smiled.
“May I?” he asked.
She nodded, and he put his hand over her belly where she indicated.
He chuckled as he felt little Johan kicking. “My Viola and I had only one child, but I always wanted an army of them,” he grinned.
“Sookie?” came Henry’s voice from behind her.
She turned around and faced her friend—her adopted brother. Henry smiled brightly. “You look beautiful,” he said, his eyes shining.
“And you look handsome,” Sookie smiled. Eric, Henry, and Bobby were all dressed in all black, though because of the warm temperature, they had opted for vests instead of suit jackets. One burst of color, a boutonniere of a single yellow ranuculus, contrasted the black.
“Everything’s ready.” He chuckled. “And by everything, I mean Eric. He’s chomping at the bit.”
Sookie giggled and looked at her bare left hand. Her ring was currently tucked into Bobby’s vest pocket, just as the ring she’d gotten for Eric was in Henry’s pocket. Sookie had opted for a simple white gold band for Eric. She’d had the ring inscribed with the same word that she’d found inside of her own ring: “forever.” She was ready to get her ring back on her finger, which felt odd and empty without it now.
“I’m ready too,” she said.
“I’ll tell him that,” Henry smiled. “And I’ll tell them to start the music. I’ll see you down there in a few minutes,” he said as he kissed her cheek.
Sookie nodded as she gave herself one last appraisal in the mirror. The temporary red hair coloring had long since faded, so her hair shone with its natural blond color. Amelia had styled her locks into a braided bun, and daffodils arranged in the bun complemented her own hue. Her make-up was light, and she wore minimal jewelry—only the dangling yellow diamond earrings that Eric had put into her stocking the Christmas before. Niall handed her the bouquet that Louise had constructed from yellow tulips and daffodils from the garden and then offered her his arm.
Sookie smiled and took it.
Eric shifted from his left foot to his right. In truth, he was waiting for the other shoe to drop. He worried that—any minute—Appius would come bursting through the gates to destroy that which Eric loved the most. But when he glanced toward the driveway, he saw only Sean and Mikey, dressed a bit nicer than usual and looking on at the festivities.
He felt a soft hand press into his and he looked down at his mormor.
“It’s okay,” she whispered to him. “Nothing is going to interfere with this happy day.”
He nodded. “I know. It’s just that . . . .” He stopped.
“Things have never been okay for you before,” Mormor finished for him. “I know. But now, things will be different.”
Eric nodded again, trying to believe her.
“She’s ready,” Henry said, coming up to them. “And she’s gorgeous.”
Suddenly Eric’s fears diminished as he thought about his bride.
Mormor patted his arm and then took her seat as Eric and Henry took their places by the minister; Bobby joined them moments later after getting the music started.
The wedding was simple. The “orchestra” was Bobby’s ipod set to a selection of the soundtrack from The Mission, played by Yo-Yo Ma. The piece of music was one that Eric knew how to play on the piano, and it had become one of Sookie’s favorite selections during her time with him. Ma’s cello version was a lovely adaptation of the piece.
The pews were simple white folding chairs, two rows with ten each—with a “center aisle” in the middle of the row. The “church” was Jake’s garden, blooming with an array of flowers. There was not an elaborate cake, though Louise and Karen had made a large white sheet cake. There was not a feast to be had after the wedding, though Louise and Mormor had made a nice buffet for the small party—and Ned even had a special bowl with tuna waiting for him. There was not an army of bridesmaids and groomsmen; only Bobby and Henry stood with Eric by the minister, with Henry being Sookie’s attendant. Eric was not dressed in a tux. He had on black trousers, a black shirt, and a black vest. He didn’t even have on a tie. And he knew that Sookie’s gown would not be cathedral length, nor would she have a long veil trailing her.
But as Eric looked around, he couldn’t imagine a more perfect setting or moment. And that’s when he knew that he would be safe from Appius, for his father wouldn’t understand such a moment; thus, he wouldn’t know how to look for it—let alone find it.
Eric closed his eyes and smiled. And for the first time that day, he let himself truly relax.
When he open his eyes, he saw her walking toward him on Niall’s arm.
“Sookie,” he whispered to himself, knowing that she would be able to read her name on his lips even though she was still 20 feet from him.
She looked radiant. Her dress was short, but lovely, and it perfectly fit both her personality and her body. She smiled as she walked toward him, and her hand was reaching out for his even when she was still several steps away. He stepped forward to give it purchase in his own outstretched hand.
Niall patted Eric affectionately on the back.
“Beautiful,” Eric mouthed. “You’re beautiful.”
Sookie smiled at him radiantly.
The next few minutes went by in a blur for the couple as the stared at each other. Neither of them had felt the need to exchange elaborate vows; the “ceremony” that they’d had together on their bed in January had already married them in their hearts. The minister was there to make things official, and their friends and family were there to celebrate with them.
Thus, they repeated the standard—though beautiful—vows that the minister prompted them to say. They promised once more to love each other and to keep that love strong in good and bad times. They promised fidelity. They promised to stay together as long as they both lived.
Then they exchanged rings. First, Sookie slipped Eric’s ring onto his finger, and both of them smiled to see it there, happy that it would tell anyone who saw it that he belonged to her. After that, Eric once again slipped Sookie’s ring onto her finger, which—thankfully—hadn’t swollen too much because of her pregnancy. This time, however, the ring had even more meaning to both Sookie and Eric. For Eric, it represented a family that his father couldn’t stop him from becoming a part of. For Sookie it represented a family that had accepted her with open arms.
Moments later, the minister announced that they were married, and then Eric got to do what he had been aching to do since he first saw Sookie walking to him.
He got to kiss his bride.
A/N: Okay—so this is a very, very short chapter. At first, a part with Appius was going to be attached to the end of it, but I decided to let Eric and Sookie have their happy day in peace. I also really wanted this wedding to be “quiet” in a way. Eric and Sookie are already “married” in my head (because of the vows they exchanged before), so this really is just to make it official. I remember spending days and days “planning” Eric and Sookie’s wedding in Come Back to Me, but this story seemed to be calling for the opposite of that—something simply, something “sweet.” I was also trying to capture the feeling of my own wedding, which I tried to “be present for,” but which flew by in a cloud of my happiness.
Anyway, if you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll check out my new story Life from Death. It’s already got two chapters and 3 more are with Kleannhouse, who saves me by doing my beta-work on the stories I want to release quickly. It looks like the whole story will be about 9 chapters. I’m going to finish that and then go to Uncharted for a bit. But I’ll “see” you with more of this story in about ten day—I figure.
Up next: Appius
Picture inspirations for the chapter