When Kallijas withdrew so did Kyriala and I. Even though it was midnight, the servants were already laying out the raised walkway, all across the square. I wouldn’t be able to set foot on the ground so she and I would walk across that together. I couldn’t properly escort her, with her on the ground and I even raised up a handspan, even fan to comb. It would be ungraceful and Tanii and Skorsas both would have been mortified to present anything ungraceful.
They strapped me into the wedding armour and threw the final veil back over Ky’s head, and pressed our wedding regalia into our hands. The Imperial sword on my hip was the old one, not the be-jewelled nose picker still in its display case.
Just inside the Steel Gate I was met by Ky descending the steps, with Fara as her attendant and Gan as mine, and we touched the ridiculously ornate fan and comb, as if we were still unmarried though the whole city had seen us in Ten Angels fountain. I could barely see her smile through the veil.
I leaned forward and whispered ‘I love you,” and she smiled wider.
“I love you too. I’d marry you a dozen times if I needed to,” she said.
“I would too but I think that many wedding nights would kill me!” I managed to hiss back as the Gates were opened with a boom that I could feel through my feet.
I couldn’t put a stern face on, and Gan was carrying my helmet so everyone could see the wild grin on my face. I didn’t care. We paced across the square with as much stately grace as we could manage. Well Ky did. I managed not to fall over my own feet. Up the stairs and through the open Temple gate, around to the wedding laefeti up to touch hands inside the fancy box emblazoned with sunbursts, and through the Wedding Gate itself.
With me being in the Imperial waiting period... that had always been a mourning period, before, I didn’t have to be challenged and declare myself Imperator. That would have been seen as rude before the Gods, before my Ten Tens. So we walked through the Wedding Gate hand in hand and I stopped to pull the veil back so people could see her and we exchanged the most solemn kiss we’d ever done so far.
I could feel her giggle against my lips just as I pulled back before I started laughing too. We smiled at each other and we got the quietest cheer for our wedding, so far. Of course it was Muunas the first. We walked back to the Marble Palace, still hand in hand.
As we stepped off the Temple steps onto the raised walk, behind me, I could hear the ponderously smooth sound of the door closing. The Temple cleansing bell sounded and the black coating began pouring down from the golden roof. I didn’t need to turn to see the black glistening trails pour down the white walls. Ky’s hand tightened on mine. “You should sleep a little before Rim dawn,” she said to me as she nodded to the crowds lining our walk.
“Listen to her, moron,” Gan whispered, behind me, just as Fara said, “You’ll meditate better if you catch up on some sleep.”
“Yes, loves. Yes, yes.” I would lay my head down and I knew I was tired enough to sleep the last few beads of the first night. “I am listening.”