The funeral for Hamid’s sister, Aziza, had taken place a few days ago. Hamid’s father and brother were both in jail. And now, a new dilemma had presented itself.
“What is it?” Zolf asked, looking up from the couch half-interestedly. Hamid’s utterances of ‘oh dear’ were relatively frequent, so it didn’t necessarily seem of immediate concern.
“Zolf, you’ve… given my address as your own for a while now, right?”
Now he set down the book he’d been flipping through while Grizzop and Sasha bet knives and arrows in the corner and gave Hamid his full attention.
“Yeah, I suppose I have. I gave it to the Navy back when we were in Dover. And probably a few other places in Prague when I was looking around for information on my dad and brother. I hope that’s alright.”
“It is! That’s not the problem…” Hamid came to sit next to Zolf and show him a series of letters. “I had the mail from that apartment forwarded here, in case there was anything I needed to deal with sooner than the next time we’re in London. But it looks like, because you had your mail sent there too, that… a lot of institutions think we’re married.”
Zolf paused for a long moment, then read through the letters he’d been handed. Many of them were addressed to ‘Mr. and Mr. al-Tahan,’ and others referred to Hamid’s husband.
“Wait,” Sasha called from the corner. “You two got married and you didn’t even tell me?” She threw down a set of cards and Grizzop dutifully passed over another arrow.
“We’re not actually married,” Zolf insisted, still scanning the letters, looking for some mistake.
“If you’d told me, I would’ve gotten you a present, something well good. I’d even have paid for it; I wouldn’t have stolen it or anything. That’s how much you guys mean to me.”
“We’re not married,” Zolf stressed again.
Hamid intervened. “It must be some clerical mistake. Other people got your information from the Navy, or from… somewhere else, and just extrapolated. Quite wildly, but still.”
“The dissemination of private information has gotten quite out of hand in recent years,” Grizzop remarked while handing over yet another arrow.
“I suppose I did open that bank vault for you in Prague…” Hamid wondered to himself while opening another envelope. “But that’s no reason why the bank should assume we’re married!”
“Don’t you own the bank? Can’t you just get it fixed?” Grizzop asked.
“I’m not sure. It would take a while, certainly. It’s not easy to rectify this kind of paperwork, and if we want to get moving on to Damascus…”
At this, Azu, shimmering in pink, stepped into the room and read the consternated faces of Hamid and Zolf.
“What is going on? Can I help?”
Sasha looked up from her cards. “Hamid and Zolf got married and didn’t tell anybody.”
“We’re not married!” Zolf insisted, but that didn’t stop anything.
Azu’s face lit up and she smiled ear to ear. “How wonderful! But why didn’t you tell anyone? We would have thrown a splendid wedding to celebrate!”
“Because. We’re not. Married.” Zolf crossed his arms as if that was all to be said on the matter.
It was not.
“You two never saw these two together before,” Sasha said, speaking to Grizzop and Azu, the latter of whom had taken a seat on the couch after she tried and failed to shake Zolf and Hamid’s hands in celebration. Was the pink of her armor glowing brighter than before? “They’re like ‘oh, we’re not married!’ They were basically an old married couple for a long time.”
“That’s not true,” Hamid snapped.
Sasha continued, “‘I’m going to sneak you a bottle of brandy into jail!’ ‘I’m going to cry outside your door because you won’t talk to me and I want to help but don’t know how!’ ‘I’m going to pass you my entire company because I trust you and think you’ll take better care of people because I love you!’”
“That’s a bit of an exaggeration,” Zolf replied flatly, but Hamid sighed and hesitantly nodded along.
“When did you do it? Did you sneak off somewhere in Paris to get it all official? Did Mr. Ceiling do it? Officimiate or whatever, for you?”
“No. Sasha, it’s a mistake.”
“Is it though?”
Grizzop confidently set down a set of cards in a feeble hope of being victorious over Sasha one time. As he waited for her to inevitably beat him, he remarked, “I bet they did it quietly so that they didn’t have to go through a big fancy wedding ceremony.”
“I’m sorry,” Zolf replied quickly, his stony expression starting to wear to annoyance, “what makes you think I wouldn’t want a big fancy wedding? What, because I’m a dwarf or an adventurer I’m not allowed to like nice things?”
“I just didn’t-”
“Maybe I do want a big fancy wedding! Maybe I would like that!” He quieted down. “If I were to ever properly get married, that is.”
The room fell silent for a few moments, during which Azu didn’t stop beaming, Sasha collected another arrow, and Hamid set aside the correspondence to turn to Zolf.
“Do you want a big fancy wedding, Zolf? We can do that.”
“We’re not actually married, Hamid. Don’t tell me you got caught up in all this too.”
“I mean, it will take a long time to get all the paperwork sorted, and if we want to keep moving…”
“Just because it says so on some paperwork doesn’t mean we’re married!”
Grizzop gesticulated with his cards, showing them off to everyone and eliminating any secrecy even if Sasha hadn’t been cheating. “To be fair, there are a lot of financial incentives to marriage. It might be worth keeping it on the record for the time being anyway.”
“I will grant that,” Zolf said reluctantly. “But that doesn’t mean we’re actually husbands.”
“But you are though,” Sasha mumbled. She held up her hands and said nothing more when Zolf cast her a pointed glare.
“I suppose a wedding would be good to raise everyone’s spirits…” Hamid thought quietly while tapping a finger to his lips. “It’ll take a couple days to get it all put together, but not too long. Maybe Father and Saleh could be allowed to come see the ceremony! Oh, there’s so much to prepare!”
With that and not waiting for a reply from Zolf or anyone else in the room, Hamid stood and darted down the corridor.
“Am I the only one who realizes how ridiculous this is?” Zolf asked no one.
Azu watched Hamid run off and then stood hastily. She stepped over to Zolf.
“Blessings of Aphrodite be upon you and Hamid,” she blessed. “Let me know how I can help prepare the ceremony. Anything at all.”
Zolf attempted to find words, but instead just stuttered haphazardly.
“In that case, I will go assist Hamid.”
“Do you think there will be food?” Sasha asked Grizzop as Azu stomped joyously from the room.
“Oh, I’m sure. Weddings always have a bunch.”
“I don’t know how weddings work up here. Down where I was, it just kind of happened. There weren’t big parties or anything. Small ones, maybe, if you could afford it and you were sure assassins wouldn’t come get you when you draw that much attention.”
Grizzop hesitated. “Other London is very different, huh,” he pondered as if this was a sudden, new, and unique revelation. “Oh well. Yes, there’s going to be a lot of food. You saw all the food at the wake before the Squizard showed up, and that was for a funeral. At a wedding, there’ll be loads more.”
“So… we should go help taste test everything, right?”
“Works for me!” Grizzop and Sasha stood, the former counting the meager number of arrows still in his quiver.
This left Zolf, still sitting on the couch and staring out the window.
He’d come to Cairo after reading the news that Hamid’s sister and Bertie had died, hoping to help comfort Hamid and mourn with him. He certainly didn’t expect to get wrapped back up into their adventures or to be involved in a wedding, least of all his own.
With a heavy sigh and the faintest smile, he stood and followed his friends down the corridor. It wouldn’t be so bad. After all, he could think of plenty worse people to marry.