It was the signal to go.
For the moment, there is a pause in the game. I must confer with my partner.
When we began the walk to the chapel, whispered observations about the amazing noise flew around my head. I paid it no heed until we were outside and it slapped us in the face. We almost fell back with the push, but our strength propelled us forth. As my steps drew me closer to my destiny, the approving roar of the crowds compelled me to turn blindly to them and wave. My smile warmed them in the cold air.
Their support soared.
The walk to the neighboring building took some time. The citizens threw confetti and paper flowers at me, enough that the sky darkened and our pathway was a hazard to trek through. Entertainments were planned along the sides and on the other side of the gates. Most of it showered me with giggles of encouragement and bawdy suggestions.
Father Black squinted at the obscene activities. “Your Majesty, we should hurry.” A stray piece of ribbon landed on his shoulder. “The ceremony will begin without you.”
“No, it will not,” I argued as I stopped and smiled at a little girl. “Let them see me.”
Nobody else disagreed.
In between greeting those inside the palace walls, I took a good look at the people beyond the barrier. One caught my attention. It was an artist, sitting on the stairs of a nearby church. He was almost akin to a gargoyle on top of a cathedral. His face was so entranced by what he was drawing that he hardly peered up. Once in a while, he eyed me.
Insane impulses enveloped me.
I posed and I smiled for every call. I blew kisses in every direction I could. I laughed at any joke I heard. I acted as normal as any bride, excited about her wedding day. Certainly, it was not proper etiquette for the Queen of Klenard to act so shamelessly. But it sure as hell was fun and Char would not have minded.
When the doors to the church opened for us, I walked through gleefully, with moans of discontent and wishes for a return behind me. I did not turn to them, but for what was ahead. The long aisle was shorted by a single gaze down it. My sight was set on the man I was to marry.
I felt the breath sucked out of my body.
Was this love?
Char saw me. His smile broadened. He quickly looked to the ceiling. There, I saw his prank in the naves: upturned buckets of water. They had already been tipped over. Guests tried drying themselves before the mass started. Puddles littered random spots.
As the music announced my advent, I tried very hard to hide the giggles.
I do not think I succeeded much.
The dirty looks I received from various rows told me everything.
* * * *
The wedding reception did not come until late in the evening. Until then, Char and I prayed at every mass and fasted until our heads spun. Between services, we greeted everyone warmly, even long after the last one had ended. The King had to drag us out.
At sunset, Idris and his brothers and sisters escorted us back to the palace. In the Dining Hall, a rich feast was laid out, with more courses promised. Idris directed us to the main seats, next to the throne-like chair he used.
“Make Lopet proud,” he whispered to Char as we were seated. “Fuck her like you mean it.”
I ignored the comments. Char chucked and hissed something inaudible in his brother’s ear. Even though I was annoyed by the impropriety in public, I tried not to seethe. I decided it was best not to speak for the moment. I had to be dignified at all times and pretend to be happy.
One of us had to act maturely and it had to be me.
I do not think I succeeded well, though.
After the blessing for our meal, Idris began eating. It signaled the rest of us to do the same. Luckily, everyone was too involved with their food to pay attention to us. Char and I had few visitors.
We also had little to say to each other.
I bit my tongue
“Do not mind Idris,” Char told me when there was a break. “He is lewd. He has a passion for whores.”
Was my displeasure so obvious?
I tried relaxing my face more.
“I thought he’d be married by now,” I observed neutrally. “What is taking so long?”
“He wants to marry our cousin in Cherls,” Char replied. An important caller intruded on our conversation and he picked up when he finished. “Donna is older and promised to another man. Idris hopes Mother Church will side with him and break off the engagement.”
I did not see the attraction in waiting for a woman.
I only had to think of Poppa and his mismanagement of the succession and shudder.
Char saw how uncomfortable I was and changed the topic. From that moment on, he did not speak of controversial things. He also did not dare to embarrass me again. When Idris instigated another joke and threatened him with a whore, Char brushed him aside.
“You are no longer any fun, Brother,” Idris pouted.
“Maybe that is the difference,” Char teased. “I am married and you are not. Maybe you should find a woman to keep you occupied. She will keep you holy and proper.”
Idris’s face reddened. He hid the insult behind a goblet of wine. While Char and I watched in amusement, he drank copiously.
“You know, in the old days, before Mother Church set dominance, it is said that the people worshipped old gods and goddesses,” Char observed. “One of them encouraged intoxication. Indeed, he relished in it. I wonder if Idris was made in his image.”
“Blasphemy,” Idris mumbled. “Whoreson. Bitch.”
But nobody cared about the banter.
The King’s eyes alighted on a serving wench.
That alone was enough entertainment.