Kate was fussing with Sorcha’s dress. Sorcha had lost weight and nothing seemed to hang right. “Hold still,” she said around a mouthful of pins.
Sorcha did her best, but between all the fuss and being away from Desmond even this little while, she was anxious and tired. She sighed and shifted from foot to foot.
“Sorcha!” groused Kate.
“The more you move about, the longer it takes,” said Kate for the third time. Sorcha took a breath and tried to stand still. After a little while, she rocked back. “Get changed. I can finish the rest without you.”
“Thank you Kate!” Sorcha changed and was out the door to the garden in minutes. There she found Desmond, Bradan, Ogg and Murtagh. She barely cleared the garden gate when Finn came bounding up to greet her. He’d grown and when he placed his paws on her shoulders, he could look her in the eyes. “Down Finn!” she laughed. Finn dropped to the ground and the two of them went over to the men under the apple tree.
“Hello Cara,” said Desmond.
“Hello mo Chroí!” Sorcha said as she sat down next to him on the cushions.
“Are they done pinning you silly?” Desmond asked.
“For the moment. Our mamais are nested in the corner of the solar making plans and embroidering your tunic for the wedding,” she said.
“While I’ve been talking to my dadai and the priest here about where we might live,” explained Desmond.
“We’ve a fine bit of land north of us by the sea,” said Bradan.
“Only a wee bit of it is occupied,” said Ogg.
“By what or who?” asked Sorcha.
“Well, there’s a college of Druids near the oak grove,” said Bradan.
“Not that we’re any trouble,” said Murtagh.
Sorcha looked at the two priests and just smiled. She understood that they wanted to provide a safe place for them to live. “Well, will the land support crops? Livestock? Are there villagers nearby?”
“Oh yes. Good crops and three small villages,” said Murtagh.
“I think that the two of you would be very happy there,” said Bradan. “It’s almost halfway between here and our own lands.”
“Aren’t these some of your lands?” asked Sorcha.
“They are, but once Desmond is wed, they are his,” Bradan explained.
Sorcha nodded. She curled up in Desmond’s arms while the three older men talked about the house there and what the couple would need.
“Ruari, you’ll stop being such a pigheaded bastard or I’ll go live with Sorcha in their new home!” hissed Fiona.
“Fi, it isn’t fair. First he comes to marry my daughter,” he started.
“Our daughter and then they want to give them land? What else?” he asked.
“They have it to give. Quit whinging! Try being happy for them. We’ll be providing furnishings, animals and that kind of thing.”
Ruari sighed. “Fine. It’s just that it’s our girl.”
“I know you big lunk,” said Fiona as she gave Ruari a kiss.
Desmond was nearly dressed when Fianna came into the room. “Hello Mamai,”
“Hello son. I have a gift from Arditha for you to give to Sorcha,”
“Oh?” he asked.
“Yes.” She held up the filigree circlet.
“Oh, it’s beautiful,” he said. He kissed his mother and they headed downstairs.
Fiona smiled as she handed Sorcha the brooch from Arditha.
“Oh, it’s so beautiful,” said Sorcha. She tucked it into a fold in her sleeve she used as a pocket. Then Fiona helped her on with the veil and circlet of flowers. Then the two of them walked down into the great hall.
The hall was full of flowers and people. The two Druids had fresh tonsures, giving them the appearance of a high forehead as their heads were shaved from ear to ear forward. Arditha was also up front, wearing robes similar to the two men. Ruari and Bradan stood next to a wooden arch bedecked with flowers and vines. Desmond was waiting for Sorcha at the foot of the stairs with Fianna. He held out his hand and Sorcha took his hand. Then the four of them walked towards the Druids and their fathers.
Once they were in front of the Druids, they were blessed with earth, air and water. Sorcha was busy looking deep into Desmond’s eyes, and didn’t hear a word of the ceremony until Arditha spoke.
“Each of you has a token for the other and now it is time to exchange those,” Arditha said.
Desmond lifted the flowers from Sorcha’s head and then lifted he veil. Then he carefully set the circlet on her head. Once that was done, Sorcha took the brooch and pinned his cloak with it after she removed the old brooch. Then the two of them kissed.
The people in the hall cheered and threw flower petals. Kisses were exchanged between the new couple, their parents and the Druids. Then the people began to move the benches and bring in the tables for the feast. The food was brought in and people began to eat and drink. Fianna and Fiona served the new couple a special mead and cake made with honey and apples.
“Do we dare leave?” asked Sorcha. She was excited and nervous about their first night.
“I think so. No one has come up to congratulate us for at least five minutes,” he said.
Sorcha stood up and walked over to her mother. “Mamai, may we retire?”
Fiona smiled. “Are you ready?”
“Yes Mamai. We’re both tired,” said Sorcha.
Fiona smiled. It had been a long day and the noise in the hall was getting louder. She turned to Ruari and motioned to Desmond’s parents. The four of them took Sorcha and Desmond out to the center of the hall.
“Dear guests, please help us walk the bride and groom to bed,” shouted Ruari. This brought a roar up from the crowd as people clapped, called out and moved forward to get in line behind the six people at the center of the hall.
Sorcha blushed and Desmond smiled as they were sung up to the room in the tower where they would spend their wedding night. When they reached the door, it was wreathed in flowers and vines. Desmond picked Sorcha up and carried her across the door. Once they were inside, he closed the door and they were alone.