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Intricate Rituals

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He couldn’t look away, not from Corvo’s face where he still wore his helmet even now, but from where he still held his partner’s left hand, the simple band fitting snug on the gloved finger he’d slipped it onto after - after they’d exchanged vows. After Corvo’d given him his own ring, slightly more ostentatious since they couldn’t find a properly matching set on such short notice, cool metal warming rapidly against his skin as he still wears it. His wedding ring. He’s holding his - Gods, his husband’s hand, transfixed in front of the priest dutifully reciting the closing rites.

It’s quiet in the small chapel, no audience but for the three people they’d come to call family, the wispy voice of Father Whatshisfuck droning over the sound of Rielle quietly sniffling and Sid shifting restlessly. But he’s not paying attention to that, too caught by the man in front of him, the hastily tailored suit and the soft silk gloves over normally rough-calloused hands, nails trimmed neatly to keep from tearing the expensive things. The only thing Corvo has on that wasn’t worn solely for this occasion is the helm, his tether of comfort and confidence in front of strangers that Nhirl would never begrudge him. Well, that, and he supposes the ring will be joining it as a constant accessory.

The ring. Their wedding ring. The ring he’d just slipped ceremoniously onto Corvo’s finger himself and can’t stop staring at. His chest feels so fucking tight. He keeps brushing his thumb across the band, feeling the metal against his palm where he holds that hand in his, softly, delicately, like he can’t believe it. The tightness isn’t just in his chest now, but in his throat, and his eyes are starting to feel hot but Gods, it’s just - they’re married now. It’s the clearest gesture he could think of to make sure Corvo knew how much he loved him, and Corvo’d agreed and married him.

There’s the faintest sound of wheezing from Corvo, like he can’t believe it either, and Nhirl wonders what kind of expression he’s making under the metal, but he doesn’t need to know. He can feel the way that hand trembles against his own, and it tells him all he needs to know. Corvo’s just as moved as he is, just as emotional, just as in love, and he can’t do this, he can’t fucking take it. He feels his face twist just as his hold on that fucking hand twitches tighter, and sees Corvo jerk almost immediately.

Corvo’s hand, the one he isn’t still holding like it’s the only thing he understands, rises quick towards his face but wavers before making contact. "Nhirl, are you - are you alright?" His voice is so loud, even as it shakes, concern and alarm apparent in every syllable.

Sid coughs.

Nhirl's face is so hot and each breath feels like a struggle but he can't figure out what's supposed to not be alright. Why wouldn't he be alright? He's married to the man he loves and he couldn't be happier. He's so fucking happy, and grateful, he doesn't know how he's containing it when it feels like it could burst from his skin at any second. For a second his face feels wet.


I'm crying.

Nhirl sucks in a sharp breath through his teeth and squares his shoulders. He grips Corvo's raised hand, holding it there, and finally realizes what kind of frustrated scowl must be on his face. "Of course I'm alright." He doesn't let his voice shake.

"I love you." The words are spat out, like he's fighting with them but refuses to let them be unsaid. He can't see the expression Corvo makes, but he can feel the way his hands are squeezed in response and it makes him deflate. I love him.

His shoulders cave in and he slumps, tugging Corvo by the hands to pull him closer as his forehead comes to rest on a black-suited shoulder. Nhirl leans on him heavily, but Corvo doesn't move, steady under the weight. Another breath shudders out of Nhirl but he does not sob. "I love you so much." His words are quiet, more delicate than anything about him has ever been.

He can feel when Corvo gasps, and doesn't fight it when he gently disentangles their hands, slowly wrapping his arms around Nhirl in a tender embrace. Nhirl takes the chance to wind his own arms around Corvo, clutching and bunching the fabric across his back, almost desperate to keep him close.

Their horns bump and grind together, echoing uncomfortably as Corvo leans to nuzzle the face of his helmet against the side of Nhirl's head as best he can, but neither of them care. They just want to be closer.

This time Nhirl's voice breaks, but he still holds the sobs at bay, even as tears continue to soak the fabric pressed against his face. "I love you so fucking much. I really do."

The arms around him hold tighter, closer, and he can hear Corvo sniffle. "Yeah, yeah I-" the words are watery, like he's starting to cry too, "I love you too."

The arms around him are strong and warm, holding him close as he cries into his husband's shoulder, and the words are so soft against his heart. It's too much. The first sob wracks his shoulders, strangled in his throat and muffled against damp fabric.

There's no telling how long they spend like that, holding each other in a pathetic little chapel as Nhirl weeps with emotion, the only people left that they can call family watching them in considerate silence. The priest gave a final quiet blessing and politely excused himself what seems like ages ago, leaving them to what privacy he can afford them in a house of the gods.

Rielle's tears were much quieter than theirs and easier to stop, sweet things from being touched by their joy and sharing in family. Sid had looked ever more uncomfortable as time had passed, unable to stand still and awkward with this openness, but nonetheless glad for them and proud to take part. Fray alone had stood silently, unwavering and solid, a pillar of support for a pair of fools that struggled not to drown in their own hearts.

It was he that stepped up once Nhirl stopped trembling, placing a still-armored hand on each of their backs, voice gentled as he called their names. "Save the rest for once you get home, you two. We have a walk ahead of us."