Chapter 17 — Weddings

Beth was excited to be the Bond at Abeena and Christopher’s wedding. Mira came once to Earth to explain to her the procedure of the ceremony. As the Bond, she will have to seal the couple’s union by giving them each their wedding medallion, on which a Frigellyan ideogram symbolizes what the soon-to-be spouses are to each other.

Beth went to visit Nori to speak with him about the spirit of this custom. She asked to meet the former King and former Queen as well and for the same purpose. When she was certain she understood the essence of it, she told Mira she was ready for the responsibility. She had to consider two key questions:
—What does Abeena mean to Christopher?
—What does Christopher mean to Abeena?
Beth thought that they had each opened the other’s eyes, whereby Abeena helped Chrisopher know what it is to be Frigellyan, and Christopher helped Abeena realize her potential to become a Queen. However, she made a distinction: for Christopher, this opening was an awakening, while for Abeena it was a revelation. Beth decided to consult the former sovereigns before making a final decision, as each ideogram has many ways of being presented. They went together to an art shop. They all agreed on Abeena’s medallion, but they discussed Christopher’s much longer. Beth had to deal with a disagreement between the two parents, but she succeeded in convincing them on a third choice, explaining the feelings this particular medallion brought to her.
Once more, she and the Major, and this time Rose too, were asked to choose their ceremonial clothes in the Castle. Rose was reluctant to accept, but she received a visit from Nori on Earth. He came to discuss with her the Frigellyan rules of etiquette. It is not that it would be impolite to refuse the dress, he explained, it would just be incomprehensible.
—You’ll be gorgeous in any dress, Nori added. But as you’re being offered to try Frigellyan fabrics, why should you hesitate?
Rose flushed a little and her “yes” was meant more to end the conversation that to make a real acceptance. Later, Beth helped her choose. Thereafter, Beth showed her the one she will wear.
—You’ve got a Gritchak on your strap, noticed Rose. Do you have any royal title here on Frigellya?
—What? No. It’s just… David and I are honorary citizens. It’s why we can wear the Gritchak.
—I’m impatient for it to be that day already.
—It’s happening tomorrow, Beth, even though, if I understood correctly, here it will be in about one of our weeks.
—That’s right. Anyway, let’s join David and go back home.

The day after
— Is everybody ready? Beth nearly shouts.
—I’m almost finished, answers Lucia, who is doing Rose’s hair. Please, give me five more minutes.
—Ok. Does anybody know where David is?
—He and Sylv are having a conversation. Sylv is uncomfortable about not going to my parents’ wedding.
—Well, I myself don’t know what we are going to tell them.
—You told them the simple truth: he couldn’t and they would understand later. My parents hold you in great esteem. They won’t ask any questions. I remember having asked mom myself why Sylvester didn’t come anymore.
—Really? You were so young.
—Well, it was actually painful not seeing him again. Their answer was always the same: Sylvester had a good reason not to show up on Frigellya. And I will understand later.
—Ok, sighs Beth.
—Sylvester did a good job on your hair, says Rose to Beth.
—He is the best, answers Lucia joyfully.
—You’re very talented too, retorts Rose.
—You are, adds Beth.
As Sylvester enters the room with David, he opens his eyes wide.
—Wow, this hairdo is pure art. Rose, it suits you so much.
—Thank you, Sylvester.
—I’ll be finished in a couple of minutes, whispers Lucia as she concentrates.
—Everything ok? asks Beth as much for Sylvester’s sake as for David’s.
—Yes, answers Sylvester. All this is already written anyway and Lucy knows what happened. Oh, but look who is joining us, he goes on, greeting Paul, Nelly, and their baby boy.
—Hello everybody, says Paul joyfully.
—You’re going to stay with Uncle Sylvester, whispers Nelly to her son. You’ll be good with him.
—He will. Give me this little angel.
—When I think back to what you called him the first day you saw him, taunts Beth.
—The shrimp has grown. He still looks fragile, but I can’t resist this adorable face, answers Sylvester.
They all go on chatting until Lucia says:
—Tadaaaa! I’m finished. You have a hairdo worthy of your dress.
Rose, looking at herself in a mirror, says:
—Is this really me?
—Oh yes, answers Beth with a big smile.
—The transporter is ready, your Majesties, teases David.
—You’ll tell us everything, ok? begs Lucia.
—Everything, insists Sylvester.
—We’ll think about it, answers Paul.
—Well, try not to give yourself a headache, retorts Sylvester.
—Ahhh… I’ve got three children, sighs Nelly.
Everybody laughs.
—See you soon! they all say one after the other.
As they take place in the transporter, Rose suddenly stands up.
—I’m not going…
—Rose, it’s normal to be nervous, you’re going to…
—That is not my world. I don’t know those people…
—Nori’s going to be disappointed.
Rose, closes her eyes and mutters an “oh, no.”
—Beth, may I talk with you in private before we leave.
—Sure, Rose.

Sylvester and Lucia are surprised to see Beth and Rose back.
—Rose and I need to speak in private.
—Oh, well, it’s bath time for the shrimp.
—The bathroom is going to be flooded, teases Lucia.
—This baby needs to have some fun.
—And then we’ll need to mop up.
As Beth and Rose stare at them in amazement, the pair go out of the room laughing.
—Apparently, a baby is all they need, whispers Beth.
—Those two are quarreling all the time.
—Really? They looked so good together…
—Their relationship is … complicated. But that’s not the subject right now. Rose, tell me what’s wrong?
—I’m terrified about attending this wedding.
—But you agreed…
—Beth, each time I meet Nori now, I… I…
—Oh, I see you go wandering together after each training session now. Let me guess: you have feelings for him and you’re afraid it’s another…
—He’s an alien … from the future!
—Have we ever spoken of his age?
—I don’ care about his age! I feel so good in his company. The last time I felt like this was with Benedict. And I lost him. I don’t even know if Nori…
—Rose, do you trust me?
—I can assure you, you won’t suffer this time.
—What do you mean?
—Come to this party, and enjoy.
—You mean, Nori and I…
—I mean your destiny is written. Don’t be afraid to live it. Please, come with us Rose.
Rose does not answer. Beth takes her by the hand and leads her to the transporter.
—Ready? asks the Major.
—I think so, mutters Rose as she takes her seat.
They materialize in a corner of the Earth-Dalygaran Territory, which has been transformed into a ceremony and party room. On Frigellya, a wedding is a private affair. Even if you are a sovereign, only friends and family are invited to attend. As a result, there are no more people at Abeena and Christopher’s wedding than there were at Beth and David’s.
Nori is standing nearby, waiting to welcome the Earthly guests, especially Rose.
Rose has no idea why she curtsies in front of him. He takes her hand to raise her and kneels, head lowered, just after.
—You should raise him by giving him your hand back, whispers Beth in her ear.
Rose, confused, nevertheless complies.
—I’m not sure what is happening yet, she confesses to Nori.
—You paid your respects to me, and I paid my respects to you. A good starting point for two persons about to spend the evening together, don’t you think?
—Is this something common?
—Well, considering I’m not a sovereign, it means that we think highly of each other.
As the Bond, Beth is also the Master of Ceremonies. She knows exactly what she’ll have to do after greeting everybody. The former sovereigns seem excited as two children. It’s a great day for their son. Not only does he become a husband, but also the King. It is the life they had always wished for him. Christopher and Abeena are radiant. When Beth asks everybody to take their places for the beginning of the ceremony, she is surprised by a request from Abeena.
—Before the ceremony begins, would you please stand beside Christopher’s parents, she asks her.
—As she is a war orphan, she and Christopher can’t submit to the parents’ consent except if—as the Bond—you accept to represent Abeena’s mother, whispers the former Queen in Beth’s ear.
Beth has no time to answer when Christopher kneels before her, while Abeena curtsies in front of the former King.
—Abeena, you opened my son to our world. You awoke his heart and you bring him joy. I’m definitely happy you’ll become wife and husband.
—Christopher, you led Abeena to her destiny by helping her find out what she really is. And ever since, you support her every single day. I have no doubt of the love you share, and I’m happy to see you two becoming husband and wife.
As the bride and groom stand again, the people all around hug.
—Frigellyans don’t applaud this moment, Abeena informs her Earthly friends. We share the joy by hugging each other.
When the hug is finished, Beth retakes the lead in conducting the ceremony.
—Form a circle, she asks.
Inside the circle, besides the Bond, stand the bride and groom and their companions, and little Lucia in Nori’s hands.
Mira will talk about Abeena, and Nori about Christopher. The Bond will talk about what unites them, and the ceremony will end with Beth giving them both their medallions, after explaining her choices for each. After receiving them, the newlyweds will address the guests.
Beth is stressed wondering if there will be any surprises as there were at her own wedding. But everything goes smoothly as it has to and she is relieved when Abeena and Christopher both have their medallions around their necks.
—I declare you husband and wife, says Beth, and I make the promise that I will register this event in the Great Book in the next few days.
Frigellyans consider a wedding day a non-administrative day. Paperwork can be done later.
Little Lucia escapes Nori’s arms to go hug the newlyweds. Christopher holds his hands before him and little Lucia comes closer, and lets him embrace her. She is now in his arms and Abeena holds her husband’s waist, so that Lucia appears to be in the middle of them. Christopher and Abeena speak:
—We should have done this a long time ago, starts Abeena.
—Living together was so natural that we didn’t think about it, goes on Christopher.
—We were like husband and wife.
—We are now husband and wife.
—Your daughter becomes my daughter, says Abeena, kissing Lucia on the cheek.
—She already was in both your hearts.
Lucia kisses Abeena back and her father just after.
—We hope she’ll have brothers and sisters.
—I wan’ brozers and sizders, says little Lucia.
The assembly laughs gently.
—You’re not supposed to say anything, darling, this is our wedding speech, ok? I’ll tell you when we’re finished, Christopher whispers in his daughter’s ear.
—Ok, dad, she answers as low as she can.
—Er… Well, I’m a war survivor, as most of those present here today are. I came back from Earth with this little girl and the memory of her mother. I would have turned mad if she weren’t with me. She was my little sunray in a world where I felt like a stranger, and she still is even now. This woman—he points to Abeena—gives me the clues to our world. She taught me what it means to be a Frigellyan. She helped me to find my identity … and I fell in love with her. I agree with Beth, she woke me up. But she was not alone in helping me. My uncle Nori soothed me by teaching me relaxation, Beth found me, Mira found Beth and my parents never gave up looking for me. Without all these people, and my late Earthly parents, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. And this man makes you a promise, Abeena: I’ll always be on your side, whatever life brings us.
—So will I, be sure about this, Christopher… Well, what can I say? … I am a war orphan. I had parents and a brother, and I swear there is nothing I want more than peace. As Mira told you before, I came to our main town on her advice. I was sad and angry. Nori soothed me as well with his teachings, but I still felt empty. My encounter with Christopher was really a revelation, Beth is absolutely right about this. I told him what my vision of Frigellya was, and what should be done. He listened to me. He encouraged me to develop my schemes for a better world. Each time I was with him, I felt stronger. I laughed at him when he proposed I be candidate for the throne. But he was so right. I ended up trusting him, and fell in love with him. Today, I can’t imagine my life without him, and this adorable little girl; thanks to you Beth, and your incredible abilities. The woman I am today owes you so much… If only my parents could be here today…
—They are, through you. Like my late Earthly ones, answers Christopher softly.
Abeena is overcome with emotions and a tear appears on her cheek.
—… Oh, sorry about this, she stammers.
—Maybe we should end this speech now, as we planned, with an Earthly touch? says Christopher very softly.
He winks to Beth and David.
—Ready, love?
Abeena breathes deeply, nodding yes. Christopher takes her hands after having put little Lucia down on the ground. She runs immediately into her grandma’s arms.
Abeena: Today, I have become your wife.
Christopher: Today, I have become your husband.
Together: With all my heart, I make this pledge to you: my loyalty, my love, my life are yours … forever.
The newlyweds end their vows standing forehead against forehead, smiling.
This time applause can be heard. Well, it seems that Paul and Nelly began, followed by their neighbors and soon all the others, who must have figured that since it was something Earthly…
The circle splits and the people begin to gather in small groups to chat while the buffet is being set.
—There is still light outside, would you like to see the enchantresses? asks Nori after he finds Rose among the crowd.
—I don’t know…
—Oh, you’re no longer interested in…
—Yes… No … I mean, I’m still interested, but is it correct to leave the room now?
—We’re not going to spend all the evening outside, Rose. Some people have already headed to the Gardens. I promise, we’ll talk to the newlyweds as soon as we’re back. Would that be okay with you?
—Well … yes.
—Follow me.
When they are in the Gardens, Rose can see that there are more people present than the last time she came. Actually, last time, they were alone.
—Nori, you walk too fast, these shoes are not…
—Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m an idiot.
—You’re not, protests Rose.
—You’re special tonight, Rose.
—What do you mean?
—So, beautiful … yet, tense.
As she can’t take it anymore, Rose walks to Nori and kisses him with no ambiguity.
Nori looks surprised, and Rose withdraws, embarrassed.
—I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have…
—I would understand if you want me to go back home…
—I shouldn’t have behaved like this, I’m so…
—Please, Rose, shut up.
—I’m trying to say something, but you’re always interrupting me.
Nori steps forward and kisses Rose back.
—I didn’t think you loved me too, he whispers.
—You love me?
—I do, Rose Taylor from Earth.
—I’m an idiot.
—You’re not, protests Nori.
And they both burst out laughing.
—Let’s go to see the enchantresses, Nori finally says.
—I’m impatient.

Meanwhile in the Earthly-Dalygaran Territory
—I can’t find Sylvester, says Abeena to Paul.
—Sylvester won’t come, he apologizes.
—Is there something wrong?
—Nothing you should worry about, trust me. He said you would understand one day.
Meeting Beth, a bit later, Abeena asks the same question.
—Do you know where Sylvester is? Lucia is asking for him.
—He won’t be coming, Abeena. He has his reasons. Trust me, you’ll understand later.
—Is he angry with us?
—Not at all, he is very upset he couldn’t come.
—Why is he not here then?
—Believe me when I say he can’t. That’s all you’ll have from me. Where is your husband?
—Discussing something with yours…
—I can feel you’re annoyed. You shouldn’t be. It’s your wedding day, Abeena. Sylvester will tell you one day why he couldn’t come here anymore. This is a promise.
—You know it, don’t you?
—I do. He sends you his happiness vows.
—Tell him he is always welcome here.
—I will.
—It seems my mother-in-law has something to tell me. See you later, Beth.
—Oh, and it seems that drinks are available now, says Beth more to herself. She looks around to see her husband still in a big discussion with Christopher.
—Hey, Beth, what are you doing alone? says Reymo joyfully.
—I’m not anymore, retorts Beth.
—How about a fresh Frigellyan drink?
—Excellent idea.
Once their drink is in their hands:
—These last few days my wife has been in a very good mood. To be honest, I’ve never seen Mira so happy. Why am I sure it has something to do with you?
—Yes, why?
—She overreacted the day I offered her a pair of earrings. She just flew into my arms.
—What is the connection with me? She was just very happy.
—Oh, come on, Beth. We’re talking about Mira. She knows something I don’t. You and your powers…
—Abilities, if you prefer. You and your abilities are the ideal candidate to inform her about something in the future. These earrings, they mean much more than a simple gift, am I right?
—You are.
—Won’t you tell me?
—Be prepared to be a father.
—You deserve to be as happy as she is. I won’t say more.
—Are you sure about this?
—You’re going to be parents, and, yes, I am. Do you need a seat?
—Yes, maybe.
He heads to an empty bench. Beth sits just beside him.
—Wow, Beth, I didn’t expect that. Well, yes, I wanted it. But there was a probability it would never happen, and I had prepared myself for this. I was so afraid of being disappointed. I didn’t want Mira to see it. We’ve had hard times together, and…
—Reymo, the hard times are behind. Believe me.
—You’re someone very special, Beth Smith. I’m happy we found you.
—Mira gave me life.
—And you gave us carefulness and kindness. Mira didn’t do this. Everything you do and have done in your life is on you.
—And on the many people I’ve met…
—We learn from other people, that’s true. But what we keep from them is our choice in the end, don’t you think?
—In the end, we’re all alone…
—Well, it seems that David and you share a secretive side.
—Not saying everything may be protective. I don’t want him to…
—We never keep quiet to protect anyone other than ourselves, Beth. Think about it.
—Oh… I will… I will… You know, David and I, we do hide things from each other. I personally needed to experience things without his advice. Even if I know he means well, I sometimes have the feeling he doesn’t trust me, that he thinks I’m somewhat reckless.
—Oh, he trusts you much more than you think.
—How do you know this?
—He’s going to lead a rebellion with you. Together, you’re going to upset powerful people, and you’ll both become targets to be taken down as Moira and Raymond. You risk a lot doing what you’re going to do. A man like him wouldn’t take his own wife into that kind of fight if he wasn’t sure he could trust her one hundred percent. He knows that together you’ll make this mission a success. He can’t succeed without you. He needs you.
—I’m his weakness then.
—No, you’re his strength. He told you that, on your wedding day.
—I don’t understand.
—When it’s about you, his mind is sharper, he thinks quicker; you boost him. You would have been his weakness if it would have paralyzed him. Have you any idea how angry he was when you went on that mission with Mira?
—I sensed something, yes.
—It was not just “something”. When he came to see me he was beside himself. As soon as the contact was established, he concentrated on you and got you out of there. He wouldn’t lose time in arguments. He took part in the rescue plan. He was quick and efficient. He never considered failing.
—He would be devastated if it happens one day…
—As long as humans know nothing about your abilities, you’ve both got a solid advantage. Especially since you know how to escape your body at will.
—I don’t know to do it without him.
—You will. He’ll train you before taking you on the battle field. This is what I would do. So neither of you can disappear. Never. Your love will always lead you to one another…
—Hey, how serious you look, you two. Come on, dance with us, says Abeena at Christopher’s arm.
—No one can say no to a bride… Shall we? answers Reymo offering his arm to Beth.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the Earthly-Dalygaran Territory the Major is now having a discussion with Mira.
—You’re radiant today, Mira.
—I’m radiant every day since I know … er…
—Since you know what?
—I can’t answer that.
—Is Beth involved?
—You two are getting along very well.
—She’s like a little sister to me.
—Well, you didn’t hesitate to take your little sister on a risky mission.
—Oh, I knew we’d have this conversation one day.
—Mira, I know I told you she needed to be trained. But that was not training.
—It was much more: it was a confirmation she’s ready to fight by your side. Isn’t that what you needed in order to be Moira and Raymond? She never lost heart, stayed calm, played her role. She was absolutely perfect… You’re the one who was not ready to let her go.
—Is this what you really think?
—I have no doubt about this. You were her instructor and you became her husband. It’s not the easiest way to build a life with someone. She obviously learned from you. She has nothing more to do with the Beth who was seeking out the morning star. She is channeling her energy now. And together you’ll be formidable on any battlefield. Except if you persist in not trusting in her abilities to…
—I think I understand now… And my behavior has led her to mistrust me.
—How so?
—“Little” secrets!
—Everybody hides things.
— Oh, Mira, we both know there are two main reasons to hide things: to avoid guilt or to avoid conflict. She didn’t feel guilty. She just left me out of something.
—You see. Your silence is an agreement.
—David, your situation is far from being insolvable. Beth loves you. You just need to talk to each other.
—I hope so…. Mira?
—People seem to be having a great time here. How about a dance? Apparently, my wife is not available.
—Neither is my husband. Let’s go to the dance floor.
—With pleasure.

When Rose and Nori arrive in the party room holding hands, they hear Beth saying:
—Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the opening circle.
—What is this about? whispers Rose in Nori’s ear.
—Before the meal, the spouses greet their guests with a dance, a sort of waltz. Nobody will take a place at a table without having danced with one of them. They’ll spin to some tempos, and change partners. Once you have danced with the bride or groom, you have to go sit. The spouses finish the waltz alone, and then the meal can begin.
—It sounds nice.
—Let’s join the circle.
Christopher dances first with his daughter, and Abeena with the former King. When they are done, the latter takes Lucia by the hand while saying, “Come with me sweetheart. Mom and Dad will dance with you later.” The music is joyful. All the guests are seated within a little more than five minutes. When the music ends, Christopher and Abeena bow and the guests applaud.
Beth is now beside her husband. She is burning to be alone with him and he can feel her impatience. But before this she has some needs.
—Let’s take some food from the buffet, she says. I’m starving.
—It seems everybody has the same idea, retorts the Major, pointing to the forming queue.
—Let’s not waste time then.
Beth gets up, almost running to the buffet. The Major follows her, shaking his head while smiling.
—Beth, how about going together to the Gardens once you have devoured those poor appetizers?
—I was about to suggest it to you…
—We agree then.
—Yes, absolutely.
The queue was not too long and soon Beth and the Major are back in their seats.
—Mmm, this is delicious, says Beth. I love Frigellyan food.
—You love any food, as far as I know, he taunts her.
—Won’t you finish your plate?
—Help yourself. It’s just the beginning, Beth. Remember, Frigellyan meals are made of numerous small courses…
—I could eat a mammoth … er it’s a very ancient…
—… and extinct animal. I know. Mammoth is part of my vocabulary since you’re…
—… pregnant.
They both laugh. Then pointing to Rose and Nori sitting at another table, the Major says:
—It seems a love story has begun.
—I’m happy for them…. Well, I’m finished. Shall we go?
—I’ll follow you.

When they are outside, Beth takes her husband’s hand and leads him to the fountain.
They take their time engaged in a long kiss. Then Beth says:
—I’m sorry.
—What for?
—Having distrusted you.
—Maybe I’m partly responsible for this. The balance between being your instructor and your husband is not so easy to find.
—Sometimes, I’ve the sensation you patronize me.
—I swear I don’t.
—I know. I understand today how wrong I was… I couldn’t be Moira if you had any doubt about me.
—I couldn’t be Raymond without you.
—I … know I caused you pain, even if you didn’t complain. You’ve waited until I was ready. I don’t know why I put distance between us.
—Please, for once, don’t try to spare me. Tell me the truth.
—Beth, I’m sometimes disturbed by your behavior. And yes, it happened I was hurt when I couldn’t understand why you mistrust me. You’re so unpredictable. But this is what makes you so unique, too.
—Thanks for your frankness, David. Do you forgive me?
—It’s already forgotten. I don’t care if I don’t know everything about you, Beth. I just care about your trust. Most of the time, not telling each other things is just a means to protect ourselves. It’s sad when it is to protect ourselves from others.
—I agree.
—Anything else?
—You know I drew my dreams as a child and those dreams showed the future or the past.
—My old dreams are popping up … every night now. I wanted to know if I can handle this by myself… I can.
—You’re not upset?
—Oh, now it’s my turn to apologize, Beth. By asking for an inhibitor for your night wanderings I made you think seeing the past or the future was something wrong. It’s not wrong. It’s difficult. Life is just easier not knowing. That’s all. It disturbed you at the beginning.
—That’s true. But I can’t escape what I really am, can I? I have to cope with this.
—Sure. And apparently you do.
—Well, I have something else to…
—Hey, my Betty… Again, I don’t need to know everything, he says with a laugh and takes her in his arms. That too is trust.
They hug silently for a moment. Then Beth whispers:
—We should go back.

When they are back in the party room, most of the people are still eating and chatting joyfully while some others are already spinning to soft music.
Abeena and Christopher arrive just near Beth and David.
—Am I imagining things or are those two crazy in love? says Abeena as low as she can, pointing to Rose and Nori dancing together.
—Are they? wonders Christopher now staring at them.
—We think so, answers Beth, embracing her husband by the waist.
—Earthly-Frigellyan couples are renowned for being the solidest… or the most ephemeral. The difference of lifespan is the clue to everything. Tough decisions have to be made. Once they are, nothing but death can break this kind of couple, continues Abeena.
—I bet on a long-lasting love, retorts Christopher.
—I agree, adds Abeena.
—I know Rose. She won’t give up for any excuse, including a lifespan, assures Beth.
—Neither will my uncle.
—The future will tell, concludes the Major.
—Hey, have you seen Nori and Rose? says Paul who just arrives beside the group with Nelly.
Everybody bursts out laughing except him and Nelly.
—What did I say that’s so funny?
—We were just having a conversation about them, answers Abeena.
—They’re obviously in love … observes Nelly.
—We all agree, confirms Christopher.
—I need some refreshments, says Nelly.
—See you later, adds Paul, following her.
—Beth, may I have this dance? You can’t refuse the new King’s request anyway.
—I wouldn’t dare, answers Beth laughing.
—Abeena? asks the Major presenting his arm.
—With pleasure.
And so the wedding party goes on, with everyone dancing, chatting, eating, until late into the night.

—Rose, David and I are going back to Earth. I’m tired. Paul and Nelly are coming with us. They are impatient to see their son again. You can stay if you want. Nori will bring you back with another transporter.
Rose looks at Nori.
—I don’t know, she answers.
—Oh, sure you do, retorts Beth. Enjoy your time here. We’ll see you later.
—I’ll bring you back whenever you ask for it, Rose. I promise.
—Ok then. Goodbye everybody.
When all her friends are away, Rose asks:
—Since it’s night now, could we go to the Great Terrace to see the stars. I have the feeling I’m going to come here more often than I believed before. Teach me your constellations.
—Let’s go, he says, taking her hand.
Once they are at the place:
—This view is still so beautiful…
—Let’s have a seat on this bench before we start.
After taking a seat, Rose puts her head on Nori’s shoulder, her eyes turned to the sky.
Patiently, he exposes her to the constellations he knows, describing how to find them. Each time Rose tries to draw the figure in the air with her index finger, repeating the name of the constellation, until … she falls asleep. Nori lays a kiss on her forehead and embraces her waist with an arm to keep her from falling. Closing his eyes, he reviews the evening with Rose and wonders what their future holds. He is so happy, just sitting beside her, listening to her breathing. He enjoys the moment, until he whispers in her ear:
—Rose, it’s time to go back to Earth.
—I don’t want to go, she mutters without opening her eyes.
—I want to stay with you, she mutters again.
Nori decides to take Rose in his arms and bring her to a sofa, very near. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve slept together on a sofa. He smiles at the memory of that night in David and Beth’s apartment. Rose puts her arms around his neck as he walks. He installs her on the sofa, with her head on his knees. He will wake her up so she can see the sunrise. He quickly falls asleep too.
When Abeena and Christopher arrive giggling some minutes later, after having discreetly slipped away from the party, they stop dead at the sight of the couple, and turn back as silently as they can.
—I think we have a great view too from our room, whispers Christopher.
—And a bed fit for a King.
And they both disappear in the corridors.

Rose comes back to Earth with Nori on the next training day he was scheduled to have with David. She stayed about a week on Frigellya, Nori wanted to show her his planet. For Beth and David, she was gone only 24 hours.

It is now two days after Rose and Nori’s return, and Beth and David are expected on Dalygaran for the Golden Ring Rise. The Dalygaran wedding ceremony takes place in the North, where the rise is the most amazing. As they had anticipated, they have a special Frigellyan transporter, all see-through, that will follow them in their movements. They are wearing their earthly wedding outfits, and have their purring collars around their necks.
—Is this really going to be necessary? asks Beth.
—You’ll see, he answers mysteriously. Let’s go see father first.
Traditionally, a couple about to be Dalygaranly wed visit the parents of both groom and bride before going to the ceremony. Obviously, Beth’s parents couldn’t be visited. When a set of parents’ presence is impossible, the couple has to choose stand-ins. Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe and Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain accepted the role in spite of their age. What parents do that day is give their child’s partner a colored stone as a symbol of their consent. The two stones, side by side, will have pride of place in the couple’s house’s main room, so that every visitor can see them.
The transporter shield has been set to let foreign things in, as it disinfects them. Beth and David can’t be exposed to Dalygaran germs.
The Supreme Commander is very happy to see them. He would have gladly hugged them, but he will have to wait until his next visit on Earth in two days. He gives the couple his best wishes for the future and puts the stone he wants to offer Beth on a table. Then he steps back so that they can approach, with their transporter protecting them, and take the stone.
—It’s beautiful, whispers Beth turning the stone in her hands to observe it from all angles. Thank you, father.
When they arrive in their friends’ house, they find them radiant, waiting for them. The stone is already on a corner of a table, waiting to be taken by the Major.
—We’re very proud to do this for you, Moon Crystal… Well, David …, says Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain.
—Yes, it’s an honor, adds Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe.
The Major takes the stone his friends have chosen for him.
—Thank you. Thank you so much, my friends. It’s time to go now. The Gold Ring Rise is in half a hundredth. We can’t be late. See you later, my friends.
The Major knows where to land his transporter. The Dalygaran authorities have reserved them a special place, where they can be seen by everybody. It’s the first time a couple of another species gets married along with other Dalygaran couples. Not to mention that Beth and the Major are still considered Dalygaran heroes. When they materialize, the crowd murmurs until some begin to greet them by putting their right fist on their left shoulder. The Earthly couple respond with the opposite fist on the opposite shoulder. Beth notices Very First Gold Ring Ray and Spring Wind over Laurina Mountain in the crowd. Soon purrs can be heard. It starts here and there. Then more and more, until all the couples purr in unison. That thrills Beth totally: one loud purr, waiting for the Gold Ring to rise. And suddenly, a powerful colored ray of light appears and the purring stops, even if Beth is a bit late noticing this. The Major smiles at her.
—There’s no need to feel embarrassed, he whispers. Wasn’t it great?
—This is a total surprise. Look at my skin.
—Oh, what’s this?
—It’s called having goose pimples. It means really great emotion. Oh, this Gold Ring Rise is so amazing.
—We’re considered as married when the first Gold Ring ray appears. From now on, in this world as on Earth, I’m your husband.
—And now?
—Look, couples are sitting on the ground and feeding on other couples’ happiness. We’ll take our seats, since we have them.
Beth and the Major, sitting and holding each other’s waists, close their eyes. He murmurs in her ear:
—It’s the only event in which people don’t look at the rise. We’re concentrating on feelings while the Gold Ring rises in the sky. Now let your instinct guide you. It’s the second surprise.
Concentrating on the others’ happiness, Beth soon understands what her husband means. She can sense everyone individually. Everybody is able to give kindness or receive it from the other. It is an amazing exchange where everybody takes time not to forget someone.
After a moment the Major senses his partner’s body sagging. As he has his arm around her waist, he has just enough time to prevent her from falling down. As he tries to straighten her, he can feel she is firming up. She even straightens herself out.
—Oh, sorry, my mind felt so good, it escaped my body. We’ll have to work on this, she whispers.
They close their eyes again.
After a moment, exactly as it happened before, some purrs can be heard. Then more and more, until everybody purrs in unison. Beth is late again when it suddenly stops.
—It is finished, says the Major. Look above your head.
—Oh, it’s so beautiful. Exactly what I saw when the children sang me the Gold Ring Rise song.
—Now look in front of you.
Again, the crowd is right fist on left shoulder.
—Is it going to be like this each time we’re publicly seen? asks Beth, remembering the celebration in her honor.
—Yes. Dalygaran will always be grateful for what you’ve done for them and for what they think is my sacrifice since I lost my Dalygaran body.
Beth and the Major face the crowd, left fists on their right shoulders.
—As we’re in our Earthly shape, let’s do it now a little more Earthly.
Beth curtsies, while the Major bows, sending respectful feelings to all the other couples.
They receive gratefulness in return.
Then slowly the place begins to empty as people begin to board the transporters waiting for them all around the place. When there are only a few people left, the Major says:
—It’s time to go, don’t you think?
—David, this wedding was simply great. I’m happy to be able to feel like a Dalygaran.
—I’m happy we both can.
—Thank you for the surprise.
—Well, to be honest, it’s something really hard to describe. Even if my parents speak about it with me—their own wedding I mean—living it was far beyond all my expectations.
—An experience hard to explain, I confess.
—Tell me about it… Er… Father is waiting for us. I’m impatient to show him my stone.
—Where are we going to put them?
—Alien stones can’t be exposed in the living room. I think our room is the best place.
—Agreed. Your father shouldn’t wait for us anymore. Let’s go.


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