My 2016 NaNoWriMo story, completed November 28.
It has been preordained, but that does not make this day any less special; Alexandria stands before her mirror as her maid works the countless tiny buttons that held her dress closed, the white cloth has been imported from countries far and wide for this day and once the dress is on the princess will be sequestered to her room to prevent any stains from forming before the ceremony. For nearly twenty years this wedding has been on the minds of her parents and her citizens, and now it is finally occurring. James and the Hayden royals have spent nearly four months on the road, traveling to the distant capital of their long time enemy for this day and now nothing is going to stop the wedding. Alexandria’s hands trembled with excitement as the last button was fastened and her maid steps back “You look wonderful Your Grace.”
“Thank you Ella.” The princess admires herself in the mirror before giving a curt nod and turning around “I’ve never been this nervous before.” She lifts her hands to prove the fact and Ella giggles making her long time friend and monarch frown at her.
“Worry not, after today you’ll never have to worry again.”
“I know.” her hands dropped and she turns her gaze out the window over looking the court yard “I’ll have my happily ever after and we will have peace.” Silence fills the room as the two women wait for the other to speak.
“Prince Hayden is a good man, Your Grace.” Ella offers softly, Alexandria turns to her.
“What does that mean?”
“I mean to say, if its not to bold of me, that you have made a wonderful choice in a partner. You’ll not find a more devoted man, not in this kingdom or the next.” Alexandria nods and sighs. “Sit, Your Grace. You have a long day ahead of you and will need your energy.” The younger woman carefully sits at her desk, the backless plush bench giving and creaking under the weight of the bride to be and her extravagant wedding gown.
“I would like a cup of tea, Ella. Could you get me one?” The maid smiles and nods before turning and slipping into the servant’s hall hidden by a large tapestry of cherubs and women bathing under a pure blue sky with white cumulus clouds drifting over head. Alexandria sits on her plush bench idly running her hands over the white satin of her skirt while the boning of her corset digs into her skin in a familiar but still irritating fashion. With a long sigh she swivels to face her desk covered a multitude of pigments, brushes, pens, parchment, and combs; she stares at the mess in almost a trance, broken when Ella returns with her tea, shutting the thin wooden door with a soft thunk before moving the tapestry and letting it fall back into place on the wall.
“Your tea, Your Grace.” She smiles and offers the tea to her princess, Alexandria blinks a few times, coming back from her day dreams and accepts the cup, sipping it before setting on the cluttered desk and standing.
“What time is it?” Her voice sounds ever so slightly panicked as she looks toward the court yard window.
“Tis mid day Your Grace.” Ella smiles as Alexandria walks to the window and peers out at the court yard, the rows of seats, the alter and red carpet.
“Its so beautiful, Ella.” She whispers in awe “It will be perfect.”
“Of course it will be.” Ella lifts the veil and steps up behind the princess “It will be a beautiful ceremony, you will be the most beautiful bride, and you will live happily ever after in Adderdale Keep.” the maid strains slightly to place the veil atop the bride’s newly curled brown hair, the veil reaches Alexandria’s slim hips and ends with a train of lacy flowers.
“Do you think so?” She turns to face the maid who proceeds to arrange the veil over her face, obscuring it for the most part.
“Oh of course, God has smiled upon this country and upon you.” Ella takes a step back “There, look at you. You look wonderful, Your Grace.” Alexandria smiles and pushes passed the maid to look at her reflection in the mirror, she smiles to herself as she examines the over all product.
“I look like an angel, all dressed in white.” Both giggle.
“Oh Your Grace, look.” Ella excitedly points out the window and Alexandria hurries toward her, looking down she watches as people begin taking their appointed seats and James calmly makes his way down to the alter, standing beside the high priest in a dark blue suit. “He looks wonderful.” Ella half whispers to herself.
“What was that?” Alexandria turns and glares at her maid.
“Nothing, Your Grace.” Ella’s eyes drops and she hand her head.
“Know your place.” Alexandria snarls as she turns and steps to the door, reaching it just in time to open it as three loud knocks ring out. “Hello daddy.”
“Look at you darling,” His eyes sparkle with joy “You’re all grown up now.” His grin fades some “It seems like only yesterday you would come tottering up to me asking me to pick you up.”
“Don’t worry daddy, I’ll always be your little girl” He turns and offers her his arm before escorting her through the twisting palace to the front gates of the court yard. Her cousins and a few other members of the nobility march out as the music starts, in all the bridal party is twenty-four people plus the bride and she is the last to go down the aisle, walking in time with the bridal march, smiling behind her veil as James turns to watch her and his eyes go wide with his silly half-smirk tugging at his lips. She steps forward and her father steps back, she stands next to her soon to be husband while the king of Breadon set in his reserved chair; the couple looked to the priest who nods, then they face each other and James lifts Alexandria’s veil. “You’re beautiful.” He whispers making her smile and blush.
“Say your vows child.” The priest urges, drawing James’s eye to him.
“I, James Gordon Hayden, in the name of the spirit of God that resides within us all, by the life that courses within my blood and the love that resides within my heart, take thee, Alexandria Mariana Langley to my hand, my heart, and my spirit, to be my chosen one. To desire thee and be desired by thee, to possess thee, and be possessed by thee, without sin or shame, for naught can exist in the purity of my love for thee. I promise to love thee wholly and completely without restraint, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in poverty, in life and beyond, where we shall meet, remember, and love again. I shall not seek to change thee in any way. I shall respect thee, thy beliefs, thy people, and thy ways as I respect myself.” James slides a ring onto her slender fingers, but there is no time to admire it.
“And now you, child.” The priest softly touches Alexandria’s shoulder.
“I, Alexandria Mariana Langley, in the name of the spirit of God that resides within us all, by the life that courses within my blood and the love that resides within my heart, take thee, James Gordon Hayden, to my hand, my heart, and my spirit, to be my chosen one. To desire thee and be desired by thee, to possess thee, and be possessed by thee, without sin or shame, for naught can exist in the purity of my love for thee. I promise to love thee wholly and completely without restraint, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in poverty, in life and beyond, where we shall meet, remember, and love again. I shall not seek to change thee in any way. I shall respect thee, thy beliefs, thy people, and thy ways as I respect myself.” Alexandria slides a ring onto James’s finger and the witnesses began clapping.
“By the power of the divines, I have witnessed these words exchanged in love and I pronounce them binding. May God smile on the both of you for all of time.” James grins and leans forward pressing his lips to hers and pulling her close. Her arms circle his neck and he slowly pulls away, pressing his forehead against hers. “Congratulations, royals.” They smile at the priest then turn and walk down the aisle being cheered on by the guests, leaving the courtyard they make their way to the front gravel meeting grounds. Opening the massive oak doors to the awaiting crowd of nobles, merchants, and peasants who erupt into a loud cheer that startles the newly weds, Alexandria giggles and waves after the initial shock wore off.
“Hello everyone!” She calls out but her voice is lost in the cheering, the wedding guests file in behind the couple and the crowd falls silent with the King’s presence.
“Hello and welcome, tonight we celebrate Alexandria’s wedding. Eat, drink, and be marry for tomorrow we shall see her off to the keep of Adderdale!” The cheering returns, this time accompanied by music. James smiles and pulls his wife close, pressing a kiss to her hair before scooping her up and carrying her to the dance floor; he sets her down and chuckles at her small pout before taking up her hand and placing a hand on her hip and leading her through a waltz set to the beautiful music flowing through out the feast.
The party rages through the day and as the sun sets torches and fires are lit to give off warm orange light and fight back the cold threatening to settle. Alexandria, James, and the royals of both nations sit at the head table dining and enjoying the night while it seems like the rest of the world is there in the gravel yard celebrating. Her ring sparkles in the warm light, a square princess cut diamond with small emeralds on either side set in white gold, she marvels at it openly during the feasting, much to the annoyance of her in-laws and her parents. The transgression is forgotten as the grand feast, attended by both prince and pauper alike, progresses from dancing and drinking to feasting and back to dancing till the people begin to slowly file out and the sun peeks over the high stone wall announcing its presence on both her wedding night and her birthday.
Alexandria has long since retired, exhausted from the days of preparation, the dancing, the drinking, and wearing her dress that seemed to grow heavier with every passing moment she wore it. As the sun begins its march Ella awakens her, rousing her gently with a soft touch to her shoulder and a gentle shake “Your Grace, tis time to awaken.”
“No…” She groans and pushes the hand away.
“You’re going to be late, and then your father will come for you.” Ella smiles as Alexandria yawns and sits up, sliding from bed. “There we are. Don’t worry Your Grace, everything is packed for you, you just need to get dressed, eat, and then you’ll be off.”
“You’re coming too, Ella.” Alexandria mumbles shuffling passed her maid going to the screen, Ella follows her and begins stripping off her night gown once they are hidden behind the screen.
“Very true, Your Grace.” The night gown falls away and the princess steps out of it, Ella scoops it up and sets it on a near by chair before helping her step into her underclothes then into her stockings. Before going further Alexandria sits upon her chair and Ella pulls on her slightly heeled boots, buttoning them then helping the brunette pull her chemise on followed by the princess’s corset and pulling the laces tight, Ella then sets about getting the dress on the exhausted woman. The skirt is simple, sliding over her hips and fastening in the back with a couple of buttons, the bodice is more difficult, the sleeves are tight against Alexandria’s skin and fights Ella at every step, but once it is on and the back is fastened she takes a step back and allows the princess to examine herself, with a final nod Alexandria steps away from the mirror and screen then opens the door.
Breakfast is simple and quite, water accompanied fresh bread, jams, and a solitary soft boiled egg; there is no conversation and the general assumption is silence after a night of drinking is preferable and everyone is more then happy to comply. When breakfast is done the carriages are pulled around, first carriage belongs to the Hayden Royals, the second to the newly weds and a virtuous nurse, meant to be their chaperon on the long journey back to the keep, and the last few are for servants and belongings coming with Alexandria to help make her transition easier. Alexandria sighs and looks out the window, forcing a smile and a cheerful attitude as they roll out of the gate and into the streets, flooded with children and the more respectable families that did not stay the whole night drinking and partying.
The royals wave to the people, the route through the capital is twisting and convoluted taking the procession through the whole city before they head out the front gates and into the country side. Alexandria’s smile fades as the people vanish, James reachs forward and squeezes her hand bring the small smile back her face. “Yesterday was the happiest day of my life, Lexy.”
“Mine too” She leans forward and presses a kiss to his lips but before it can go any further James pulls back and leans against the comfy, plush benches letting out a soft yawn. The nurse shootw them glances, silent warnings of their impropriety being reported to the king and queen when they rest for the night. James’s eyes close and Alexandria turns her attention back to the window, a journey she had taken hundreds of times but still she can feel the excitement welling up inside of her at the thought of returning to Adderdale Keep after so long away.