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a dress of silk, blossoms in her hair

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In the end they go for the smallest possible ceremony, just a little affair in Bristol's city hall. Dea chooses a dress by touch, picking one in satin that swirls around her legs and makes her feel like Titania amongst the forest tangles. By smell she chooses lavender, of course, and weaves a stem into the braid in her hair, along with a few sprigs of baby's breath because she's heard they're traditional, and a few larger chicory blossoms because Gwyn always said they remind him of her.

 

Gwyn himself wears charcoal grey and a bolo tie with a cold metal clasp, on which there's the raised design of a wolf, and Dea had delighted in feeling out the point of its little snout. Looks like Mojo, she'd said, and Mojo had woofed his agreement. It had been her father's, of course, since he'd had his western phase as a young man and Gwyn couldn't be convinced into wearing a real tie come hell or high water, (though if you asked Dea, she'd say he was really only griping for show, and truly wanted nothing other than to wear the thing, with it being so special to Ursus.)

 

Of course she wears Gwyn's mother's bracelet, her something borrowed for years now, and elects Josiana her maid of honour, because as soon as Dea had mentioned wedding bells around her she'd essentially claimed the position for herself. And that's alright - Dea's world is little and once they'd got over their initial jealousy about each other, the two young women found they got along much better than anyone expected them to, what with their similar passions for Gothic romance and tragic theatre. Jojo had thrown herself into dress shopping and hairstyle choices and creating invitations for all of the three extra guests in attendance, and when Dea had found herself teary eyed on the morning of the event, Josiana had been the one to wipe away her tears and hug her tightly before they got into their dresses.

 

She meets Gwyn now at the altar, Mojo having led her up the aisle, and Gwyn reaches for her hands and holds them tight as Angelica, in the role of officiant, speaks. Together, they say all the necessary responses, and giggle like the schoolchildren they'd been when they first met once they hear the words I now pronounce you married. They kiss and Gwyn has been unmasked from the start, it's only their dearest friends around anyway, (and everyone in attendance will say afterwards that in the springtime light pouring through the windows, you could hardly see his scars for his smile and the overjoyed tears in his eyes.)

 

Dea can feel those scars crinkle under her fingers as she holds his face in her hands, her mouth moving against his for a sweet, chaste moment before they pull away, and then they're husband and wife. And someone snaps a photo and everyone cheers, and suddenly she and Gwyn are the sweet bubble-gum centre in a group-hug lollipop, with Osric's good arm flung around Gwyn's neck, and Ursus's hands on Dea's shoulders, and David and Jojo squeezing them around the outside, Angelica dragged somewhere into there too.

 

Together they emerge into the sunlight, and the perfume of roses hits Dea's nose as tossed petals fly in her face and settle on her hair and shoulders. She holds on tight to Gwyn's arm and presses her forehead into his shoulder and breathes deeply, deeply.

 

When they all get back to the house, (with a few white streamers pinned to the walls and a few vases of fragrant flowers on the sturdier surfaces,) Ursus gives a speech, a toast. He takes them all back to the day a scruffy twelve-year-old Gwyn had rescued a tiny eleven-year-old Dea and how, with some coaxing, he'd stuck around afterwards -- and just how glad Ursus is that he did so. To my darling girl, he finishes, and my strong, brave lad. May you have many happy years together. May you never have to be apart for long. Beside her, with her hand on his back, Dea can feel a sob bubble up in Gwyn's chest.

 

And they all drink, and the dining room table's been turned into a buffet of home-made delicacies - pierogi and a huge pot of bigos from Angelica, she'd gotten the recipes during her studies in Poland, a selection of misshapen sandwiches because that was the best David and Osric could manage on a team effort and their combined culinary knowledge (which was negligible). There's a cheeseboard Ursus put together based on a cookbook from 1978, and a cake Josiana commissioned from the best baker in the city - a three tier sponge with sweet buttercream and delicate sugar flowers. An hour later Osric climbs into the sofa with his shoes on and he'd be reprimanded on any other day, but today he gets away with it and gets to give a somewhat tipsy toast of his own, Gwyn, Dea, congratulations! Best ceremony I've ever been to, I think, bar that time I stumbled in on a biker wedding in Glasgow -- yours a much classier affair I have to say, hey, good on ye!

 

You'll be next! someone shouts up at him. Osric sticks out his tongue and gives a drunken chortle, stumbling down from the sofa before flinging his good arm lazily around David's shoulders. Jojo fiddles with plugging her phone into the stereo speakers so that they can dance - it's no expensive wedding reception but they clear a little space in the kitchen for a dance floor and pair up, first father-and-bride and then maid-of-honour-and-bride and then bride-and-tipsy-dundonian and bride-and-tipsy-dundonian's-boyfriend 'til finally Dea finds herself in Gwynplaine Trelaw's unmistakable arms.

 

"Hello," he says, bending close to her. "We're married."

 

"Yes," she replies, giggling. "That we are."

 

After so long being practically married , she has to say it doesn't feel all that different, or at least not yet, but she's happier than she can express that all their friends were there to witness it happen. And she's very happy with her dress, the slippery-smooth feel of it just like magic .

 

"I'm…" Gwyn starts. "I'm really happy. I mean, I didn't think I wouldn't be, but now that we're here …"

 

"You're right," Dea says. "It's wonderful isn't it? Maybe we should get married every week, so we can always feel like this. We could go to Las Vegas."

 

"Oh really," Gwyn replies, wrapping his arms around her waist. "Or we could do a destination wedding and head somewhere tropical."

 

"The Bermuda Triangle!" Dea says, thrilled. "And then we'll honeymoon in Dracula's castle."

 

Suddenly, Gwyn's lifting her in the air and laughing as he spins them, like he almost never does, like he doesn't care at all, like everything's wonderful. Because everything is! Everything's wonderful, right now, and Dea shrieks with surprised laughter too, still giggling when he sets her safely back down.

 

"I love you," Gwyn says, breathless, like he's so happy he could sing. "I love you."

 

"I love you," says Dea, "I'm going to tell you every day, 'til you're sick of it."

 

"I couldn't ever be!" Gwyn says, and he twirls her, and they dance. They dance, and their friends dance with them long into the night, and they hold each other tight until everyone else has gone home, and then they dance once more even after all the music has been switched off, when they're just in their pajamas and the flowers that had been in Dea's hair are now in the sink, and they hold each other tight until the morning. 

 

There's a ring on Dea's finger, and a matching one on Gwyn's. And Dea thinks, yes , they might just have to get married a few more times, because after all, she really likes her dress. It'd be a shame if she only got to wear it once.