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And It's Always Raining In the Shroud

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It starts with a letter. A letter to Yda. She rolls her eyes and won't read it for days. She doesn't tell anyone about it but Papalymo sees her bending the corners of the envelope and fussing about it. He tells her to open it. She waits another three days. Papalymo walks in on her throwing shredded pieces of the letter into the fire. She wants to be alone. Yda leaves and doesn't return for a whole week. He worries about her but doesn't let it show. He sits with his back against the Lifemend Stump at night — counting fireflies.

Yda finds him there and sits down next to him. He doesn't speak.

“Where do we draw the line, Papalymo? Where do we finally decide it's just too much to protect Eorzea?” And the question is out of the blue. Papalymo turns to look at her.

“Is this about that letter?”

Yda is holding her mask in her hands, staring at it, “The letter was from my family.”

Papalymo grits his teeth, “You got a letter from the Garlean Empire and didn't tell anyone? Is that where you went? Back to Garlemald? Yda, this isn't something you can hide. We need people to trust us and you sneaking around won't help.”

A tear runs down her cheek and Papalymo curses under his breath. The days have been tense and hard. He didn't mean to take it out on her. He reaches out and touches her arm.

“My family...has never really seen eye to eye with the Emperor,” Yda explains, “Look, you don't want to hear about my problems.”

“You wouldn't be bring this up if it didn't matter.”

She sighs, “I hate them. I will never consider them my family...but... My mother,” she kind of spits the word, “leads a very large group. They want the Emperor to focus on rebuilding their own land, instead of trying to conquer more. She is Garlean to the core, will never renounce the Empire, blah blah blah... but they have power.”

“What does this have to do with you?”

Yda takes a deep breath, “They promised to convince the Emperor to give up his plans for conquest.”

“If?”

“If I marry someone of power in Eorzea.”

“Who would possibly agree to marry you if they knew you were Garlean?!” Papalymo exclaims. He jumps to his feet, throwing his hands up. Yda wants to hit him. He's making such a big deal over nothing. She won't do it.

“Do you really think I plan on going through with this? They'll make me wear a dress! Never!”

Papalymo calms himself, taking a deep breath, “We can just forget this ever happened then. It's not like you can just walk up to Kan-E-Senna and propose to her!” He laughs awkwardly.

Yda chews at her lip, “I wouldn't even be able to marry just anyone. The City-States aren't united enough for their taste.”

“Then who do they expect you to marry?!”

“The Scions of the Seventh Dawn are the only true power that holds together all of Eorzea.”

“You cannot mean to marry Thancred?”

Yda does hit him then, a fist straight to the back of his head, “You! I want to marry you!”

Papalymo nearly faints.

 

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Papalymo didn't know how he got all wrapped up in this but, in the end, they both know it is something that has to be done, but that doesn't mean either are happy about it. The good news is that they were allowed to do a traditional Eorzean wedding. The bad news, however, is that Yda would have to wear traditional Garlean wedding attire — including the most gaudy headpiece she has ever seen to frame her Third Eye. The idea of the dress, though, is much, much worse.

It is awkward and forced, but Yda pens the letter to the Garlean Sect that includes her family, agreeing to the terms. Then all that is left is actually planning the wedding.

“So...how do we go about this?” Papalymo asks finally. They had been ignoring the whole situation for days. Not even bring it up to the other Scions. He is holding the reply Yda had gotten from her family. She just briefly glanced over it before shoving it towards him earlier. Yda wants to go back to the training she had been doing but instead lets her shoulders slump, leaving her back turned to him.

“I guess we go to the Sanctum of the Twelve to get it all planned out,” a pause as she swings a punch at the sandbag, “Are you really sure about this?” she finally glances back at him.

“We do what we must. Even if the circumstances are...rather strange.”

“For Eorzea...” Yda whispers.

-

It's raining when they arrive in the Shroud and, while not uncommon, it does little to lighten the mood. The two trudge through the mud and rain until they arrive at the Sanctum. Claribel is a bit surprised to see the two Archons but ushers them inside to dry.

“Oh my, is there a problem, Scions? Usually we don't see you two this far in the Shroud.”

Papalymo shakes his head, “Gods no. We...” he clears his throat, “Yda and I are looking to arrange a...ceremony,” he lowers his voice like it's some forbidden spell.

Claribel looks at them in shock for a few moments and then she laughs, albeit awkwardly, “Twelve! Two Archons getting married! What an exciting day it will be!” She has to catch her breath, “Have you obtained the rings?”

“R-rings?” Yda sputters dumbly. She knew that usually there are rings but she had hoped it could be skipped. Papalymo shoots her a glare.

“Yes, rings! You have to have something to symbolize you're eternal bond! You'll have to pick out a nice one so that the Twelve can bless them!” Claribel chuckles again, “You two are really new to this, aren't you?”

Yda and Papalymo exchange looks but neither rush to answer. Claribel clasps her hands together.

“Don't be nervous! Here, you two go get your rings and then take them to the Goldsmiths Guild in Ul'dah. When you get back, we'll have your wedding attire ready to be fitted!”

Yda turns, quickly, to leave but Papalymo catches her arm.

“Oh! Before I forget, is there any specific style of dress you would like, ma'am?”

Yda grits her teeth before digging into her pocket and pulling out a crumpled drawing. It is an extravagant dress and she hopes Claribel doesn't know enough about Garleans to recognize the style.

“Something like this, maybe?” A blush tints her cheeks and she looks away as she hands over the paper. Papalymo tries to get a look at the picture but Claribel holds it up to her face too fast.

“Oh my! What a beautiful dress! We'll get right on this,” she smiles sweetly.

The drawing is missing the headpiece but that will harder to obtain. She will worry about that later. Yda and Papalymo leave the Sanctum, making their way back through the rain.

“Ring, huh?” Yda says finally.

“Aye...Rings.”

“Were are we going to get them? We don't exactly have very much gil.”

“I have an idea...”

-

To say Prisusu isn't enthusiastic about making a pair of wedding rings for her two teachers would be a lie. At first Prisusu is shocked and can barely speak. Yda has to interrupt Papalymo's blunt request for a pair of flawless bands to explain that the whole thing was an arranged marriage.

Prisusu is still just as happy. She could think no better two to help bring peace. She sets to work quickly and although she usually used her crafting abilities to keep the Aether Meters in check, they couldn't deny she had skill.

Having Prisusu make the rings helps ease the feelings of doubt they have. Prisusu always did that for them. She makes them feel at peace; humming as she works on the bands. The three of them talk and it makes them all miss how simple it all used to be. Yda and Papalymo would be lost without Prisusu.

When the rings are done, they are elegant but simple. She presses one into each of their hands. They both hold onto her hand for longer than necessary. She smiles before rushes off to find something to wear to the ceremony.

Yda and Papalymo meet each others eyes and Yda tries to ignore the tightness in her chest. She looks down at her ring before putting it into her pocket. The two set off to Ul'dah. The Goldsmith is expecting them because word of two Archons getting married travels faster than they would like to admit. He takes their rings and engraves them carefully with the Twelve's runes. The rings are still warm when they get them back.

At the end of the day, they are, at least, happy it's not raining when they return to the Shroud.

-

The next day, the make the walk back out the Sanctum of the Twelve, rings in hand. Claribel is happy to see them but before taking their rings she ushers them into separate dressing rooms to have their garments fitted. It's chaos and Yda can barely tell what is going on. The fabric is too soft and the boning on the corset is too tight. She can't breath, can't walk with the fabric pooled around her feet and she sure as hell can't fight. She hates it.

“I am not going out there in this!”

“You have to show you're husband-to-be your dress!” One of the weavers say.

“Absolutely not! I look ridiculous!”

Papalymo tugs at the stiff collar of his suit. He has been done with his fitting for a while now and is simply waiting for Yda to be done. Skarn and Prisusu are sitting on a bench, giggling with each other. There is another loud commotion from inside Yda's dressing room.

“Fine! At least let me wear this!” Another loud bang, some cursing coming from Yda and a sigh from the weavers. Papalymo turns to talk with Prisusu.

The door creaks open and he doesn't turn around at first but both Skarn and Prisusu's faces light up.

“Don't look at me like that...” Yda growls.

Papalymo turns around to look at her. His breath gets caught in his throat and he feels his cheeks light up. Yda is, without a doubt, beautiful. Even with her damned mask and turban still on. He can't speak and he can't deny she cleans up well. Yda takes him in as well. His suit fits well and he looks good in white. She had never really seen him in anything but robes — no matter how fancy the robes were.

Skarn stands and walks up to Yda.

“Don't suppose you'll let me walk ya down the aisle?” She grins widely, breaking the trance Yda and Papalymo where in.

Yda laughs, “I'd love that!”

 

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After the fitting, the next step was to have their rings blessed by the Twelve. Yda let Claribel explain the whole situation, but quickly tuned her out. Papalymo, though, listened, even if he already knew all of the information she gave him.

“Do I need to mark the locations of the Stones on your map?”

“No, no. We know,” Papalymo holds up his hand.

“Oh, of course! I forget that you two are Archons,” Claribel chuckles, “You better be on you're way then. This part always takes the longest. May you walk in the light of the Crystal!”

“To Gridania first?” Yda asks as they leave.

“Back to where it all begun, I suppose.”

-

The pause just outside Nophica's Alter. It brings back many memories for them. Papalymo glances at Yda and then they step up to the Stone. This is where they tried so hard to save the realm — and they had succeeded, if just barely. They can still feel the power here and it seems to welcome them back. The Elementals brought them here for a reason and now they are back. Papalymo kneels first and glances up at Yda. She nods, swallowing. She kneels next to him.

Once again, Yda and Papalymo find themselves begging the Matron for her blessing. To protect the realm. But this is different and it almost feels selfish to Yda. They had prayed here before when it was life or death but now others come from all over Eorzea — simply to ask for a blessing in order to be married. Yda wonders if the Twelve really bother with such seemingly pity requests.

A warm breeze swirls around them. It smells like fresh soil and spring leaves. It warms them and Yda starts to realize that marriage is never selfish. Papalymo stands while Yda stares at the rune carved into the stone above them. He touches her hand softly; she takes it as she shakes with memories. Maybe, someday, she will be able to call Gridania home, but she has lost so many homes that maybe she is afraid to give anywhere else the name.

They move on.

It doesn't take long for them to arrive at the next stone but there is still hesitation in them. The Builder's Stone is dedicated to Byregot. Papalymo traces the rune with his finger. They had built much over the years — from creating the Scions of the Seventh Dawn from the broken remains of the Circe of Knowing and the Path of Twelve to rebuilding all of Eorzea after the Calamity. Papalymo is no stranger to building. But what does it mean in this context? Are they building a peace treaty or are they building something between them? Papalymo doesn't know what he wants anymore.

Yda is already kneeling and he moves to pray next to her. They ask for the blessing but Papalymo also asks for guidance: just what are they building? The air stills and they can feel the heat of a forge on their faces. They smell heated steel. They have their work cut out for them but Papalymo understands that it doesn't matter what happens, so long as they continue to help build up each other.

There is one more stone in the Shroud and they make their towards it with a renewed sense of urgency. The arrive at the Stone for the Keeper and Yda approaches it slowly. They both kneel together. As part of the Circle of Knowing, they were truly keepers of knowledge and history but they pray more to Althyk's understanding of change because change had come and change is still coming. Sometimes Yda thinks it's all moving too fast — the eras giving way to each other at a speed she can't quite comprehend. They can't stop time but Yda at least hopes that the changes they bring about will be for the best. As they pray, the air stills around them and they feel like a weight is lifted from them.

The amount of aether they have been around is exhausting and overwhelming. Papalymo suggests they rest for the night.

“Only if you buy me dinner.”

He sighs, annoyed but flashes her a faint smile. Still the same Yda.

 

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Yda and Papalymo stay the night in Gridania but the next day they set out to Limsa Lominsa to find the Mark of the Navigator. Limsa Lominsa is crowded when they arrive but they make their way to Stone and when they arrive the movements almost come naturally.

They are guided to the stone and when they kneel, Papalymo's hand brushes against Yda's. Even in times when Yda doubted herself, she could always depend on Papalymo to help her on the right the path. When they pray, the smell of the sea is stronger and the salty winds rustle their clothing. Yda knows that no matter what happens, she will never be lost as long as she has Papalymo.

Their journey takes them next to the Spinner's Stone and Yda hangs back slightly as Papalymo walks up it. Fate was never really something that existed in the Garlean Empire. Everything was assigned to you, being the daughter of a prominent woman had dictated much of Yda's childhood. She took escape when it was offered to her but she knew she couldn't hide forever. So maybe, in an essence, fate did exist, even for Garleans. But Nymeia was just so cruel with it that Yda may have held a grudge, even after all these years. Papalymo beckons her, worry wrinkling his brow slightly. She forces a smile and kneels down next to him. Yda prays for her fate to be kinder; Papalymo prays for the stars to guide him. The smell of the sea and sound of the waves leaves a calm in them both. Their fates are intertwined. Papalymo offers his hand to Yda to help her stand and then they continue, hand in hand.

The last stone in La Noscea belongs to Oschon, the Wanderer. Papalymo takes a deep breath when they approach and when they kneel, he wonders if Yda will ever truly consider somewhere a home again. She had left Garlemald, Ala Mhigo was destroyed and everything she may have considered a home in Sharlayan she had not seen in years. He wants Yda to be happy. The smell of the mountains is strong here and it overpowers the scent of the ocean. They hear birds. Papalymo realizes that maybe home is not a place, but a person. He glances at Yda and she is looking at him too.

“Can we take a break?” Yda asks, her hands are shaking. Papalymo nods in agreement. The feelings the Twelve are giving them seem to be too much at times but they are on the right path.

“We should at least get to Ul'dah, then we can continue on from there tomorrow.”

“I have business in Ul'dah, anyway, so that works,” she says and Papalymo trusts her.

When they arrive, Papalymo gets them rooms at the Quicksand and Yda excuses herself to find her contact. She stands awkwardly in the Marketplace until someone bumps into her. She opens her mouth to yell but the hooded figure just forces a package into her hands before disappearing back into the crowd. She swallows hard and glances down at it. She rushes back to her inn room and opens it, carefully.

Inside is the ugliest headpiece she has ever seen. She closes the box and tosses it to the side. She can't believe she is doing this.

 

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Papalymo makes Yda get up early so that they can get to the Arrazaneth Ossuary before it starts to fill with people. Like all the places they visited, the air is charged with energy but here, it feels balanced. People watch them as they kneel and Yda shifts uncomfortably. There is a feeling in her gut that she is just a bartering chip in this war and it makes her sick. She doesn't know exactly what to ask of Nald'thal so she simply asks for a blessing. She thinks about asking for a full stomach but decides it probably isn't the best time. The room heats up and it feels like the desert sun is shining down on them. Yda feels at ease because whatever happens she is her own person in the end.

The next stone belongs to Azeyma and when they finally arrive the sun is high in the sky. Its is hot and Yda takes a drink out of her water skin before following Papalymo up to The Warden Stone. The sand is warm under them when they start to pray. Papalymo has always been the curious one, often seeking too many answers. He worries that now, though, he isn't asking enough questions. He lets the feeling go as he lets the sun warm him. Everything will happen as the Twelve will it, he hopes. If this wasn't meant to be, the Twelve wouldn't be giving them their blessings.

The last stone in Thanalan is Rhalgr's stone and it is a blessing they both dread. Yda's strong connection to Rhalgr always gets her in trouble but this...this is different. It isn't exactly praying to Rhalgr that makes it awkward but more so traveling back to Little Ala Mhigo. Ala Mhigo had been their home once, a long time ago, but Little Ala Mhigo is nothing but a shadow. It brings back memories.

Yet, they do what needs to be done and so they return to where they first met, or at least as close to that home as they can get.

It isn't the first time returning but the feelings now are different. Yda reaches out to touch the Stone as she has done so many times. Her hands have nearly memorizes the textures. She has keeled before this one often — maybe too often. She does so again, letting her fingers run down the cold rock. Rhalgr is her guardian and it is most important that she get his blessing for this. Maybe, somewhere in the back of her mind, she hopes he won't give it and then this whole thing can be over. Papalymo places his hand on top of hers.

When they pray, they see memories — vivid and terrifying. They see the fall of Ala Mhigo — gone so quickly and so soon like the blink of eye. There is screaming and fighting; it is a beginning. They see Yda getting her Sage Mark. She cries because she belongs to something bigger, something better; it is a new start. And they see the Calamity. There is so much pain, so much death. Bodies and fire give birth to a new era; it is a genesis. They both jerk their hands away from the stone, panting and scared. They understand then that they must do whatever it takes to protect Eorzea. They are a dawn of something new.

 

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The colds of Camp Dragonhead is a stark change from the deserts of Thanalan. It takes them a couple of days to gather themselves after receiving Rhalgr's blessing but none the less, they push on. They put on their heavy coats and take time to warm themselves in the Camp before continuing the journey to the next stone, The Lover's Stone. A woman from the camp gives them hot chocolate — it was the Lord's favorite she says and it still a fresh wound. No one can bring themselves to say his name. Yda and Papalymo thank her and after they rest for a moment, they continue on through the snow.

They pause when they get to the stone dedicated to Menphina. It is awkward. They are not lovers and Papalymo doesn't know what to pray for. He glances at Yda who takes a step towards the Stone. They will never be lovers in the sense that everyone thinks. Papalymo kneels down in the snow and closes his eyes. Yda follows. The air is cold and Yda shivers. It is silent — not even a dragon call in the distance. Then they feel the warmth in their chests, like a blush spreading to their cheeks and fingers. Papalymo loves Yda and Yda loves him. Papalymo guesses that sometimes there is no need to differentiate between what kinds of love. They are enough.

Now, it is a slow journey back towards Mor Dhona. They are both happy that they have one more stone in the colds of Coerthas before they have to go to Mor Dhona because what awaits them there is not something she wants to see — not something she wants to face ever again. She forgets about it for now and concentrates on trying to keep her toes warm.

Finding Halone's Stone proved to be a bit harder than they thought. They hadn't really had any reason to visit it since the Calamity but the locals were helpful enough to point them in the right direction. The cave it is located in now is colder that the snow outside and although expected, Yda still complains. Papalymo glares at her but when they finally arrive at the stone — both of them lose their will to speak.

The light glistening from the ice makes it beautiful and the energy contained in the cave is immense. They have to catch their breath before they walk up the stone. The amount of aether around them makes Yda dizzy but Papalymo puts his hand on her arm to steady her. He helps her kneel and then takes his place beside her. They are no strangers to war and Yda doesn't really want to live in a world with no war, as petty as that sounds. She won't pray for war though; she is not naive. Yda prays instead that is strong enough to stand against any coming conflict. They hear the distant sound of fighting and a sense of power washes over them.

Papalymo and Yda have one stone left but they find themselves dragging their feet as they make their way to Mor Dhona. It's the Scholar's Stone and while Thaliak is Papalymo's patron deity, the location of the stone brings too memories for Yda. The situation always leaves Papalymo at a loss for words and so the two continue on in a strange silence. Papalymo offers to let them rest in Revenant's Toll but Yda is determined to get it over with. He buys her some food anyway to save for when she is feeling better.

It doesn't take them as long as they thought to get to Rathefrost, maybe because it is a trip they had made plenty of times. Papalymo stays back for a second, watching as Yda walks up to the Mark of the Scholar. She falls to knees and Papalymo bites his lip.

“Hey Moen...” she pauses, a whimper escaping her lips, “I-It's been a while.”

 

Chapter Text

At first Yda is silent again, just fumbling with her fingers and Papalymo almost walks over to her but he can't bring himself to break the trance. Seeing Yda so weak always made him feel so helpless. He wants to reach out her, but then she starts talking again.

“I guess you're probably wondering what brought us all the way out...” she laughs awkwardly, “Well, you won't believe it Moen, but me and the old man are getting married. We...We're supposed to ask Thaliak for his blessing but... I thought you would want to know too,” a tear drips down her cheek and she glances back at Papalymo. She nods at him stiffly. He furrows his brows but walks up to kneel next to her. She grabs his hand as a sob shakes her body.

Papalymo begs Thaliak for wisdom and he grips Yda's hand tightly. The can hear the sound of rain and thunder in the back of their heads and all the pieces come together. And why would the Twelve be so cruel? How could they take so much from Yda and then ask her to give back? She is angry and she is bitter. Yda can feel arms around her back and Yda can hear Moenbryda's voice.

Because, sister, you're doin' just fine without me.”

-

It takes a bit for Yda finally to be ready to leave. She ends up telling the whole story to Moenbryda, her shoulders shaking and Papalymo just holding her hand. The moon is high in the sky — full and bright before she is finally able to return to Mor Dhona. Papalymo buys them dinner and rents a room for them to rest in because neither of them are strong enough to return to the Rising Stones nor to face the other Scions who will obviously know what is happening by now.

After a few days, Yda is ready to return to the Sanctum of the Twelve to finalize this whole mess. They give Claribel their rings and she smiles brightly.

“I've never seen two rings shine so bright! The God's must really want this to happen! The two of you sure are lucky.”

The spend the next few hours setting up a date and getting the invitations made. It's a scramble to get them all sent out but then they left with the sense of dread as they wait for the day of the actual ceremony to arrive.

 

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And you deserve to be loved
And you deserve what you are given

-Third Eye by Florence and The Machine

And you know, New Years means...well new. It is hard to deny that everything that is happening is all very, very new. New to both of them and new to everyone else. It will set something into motion and neither really know if that's good or bad. Yda thought it fit and that was why they had chosen the date. It is a new beginning. But that doesn't stop the sinking feeling as the day approaches. The final preparations are falling into place and Yda think it's not worth the stress.

To make it worse, the day before the wedding, Yda gets a letter saying there will be a Garlean liaison in attendance. The letter won't say who it is but assures here there will only be one and they will be there simply to verify the wedding actually happens in accordance to the agreement. Yda doesn't tell Papalymo. She doesn't want to know how he will react if he knows there will be a Garlean at the wedding.

It's come down to the wire now and Papalymo is desperately trying to get the food figured out for the guests.

“What about Fig Bavarois?” Papalymo is flipping through a recipe book — older than him and brought all the way from Sharlayan.

“Let's just have Aldgoat Steak,” Yda mumbles, clearly bored. She is spinning a book on its corner, trying to keep it balanced. Papalymo snatches it from her hands.

“Can you at least try to be helpful?” He sighs.

“Why do we even have to put so much effort into this? Can't we just do the ceremony and get it over with?”

He glares at her from the corner of his eyes, “We need to do this right way or not at all.”

Yda stands up, fast and sudden, “Then I don't want to,” she snaps.

Papalymo turns to look at her questioningly, afraid he misheard her but before he can even say anything, Yda has stormed out of the room. He stares at where she was in shock for a few moments, then he jumps up and chases her. Papalymo runs out of the room and nearly face first into Thancred.

“Gah! I'm sorry but I don't have time to talk. Have you seen Yda run past?”

Thancred chuckles, “Woman trouble?”

“This is not the time of jokes,” Papalymo growls.

Thancred shrugs with a grin, “She took the Aetheryte in a hurry, that's all I can tell you.”

Papalymo grit his teeth. Where would she run off to? He thinks for a moment and then nods at Thancred. He hopes he's right. He goes to the Aetheryte and concentrates. It's a brief moment of weightlessness and the rush of aether before he finds himself in the Shroud.

He remembers Yda saying the smell of the rain calms her. He takes a deep breath and sets off towards the Hedgetree — where they first fell when they crashed — where they first saw the Shroud for the first time. He sees Yda when he gets there; she is practicing swinging punches and kicks. She hears him walk up behind her and stops. Papalymo can hear her sniffle. He walks up next to her and takes her hand. She is cold and soaked to the bone. She interlaces their fingers but still doesn't look at him.

“I just want you to be happy, Papalymo.”

“And I will be happy so long as I am with you.”

 

Chapter Text

And from the rain
Comes a river running wild that will create
An empire for you

-Empire by Of Monsters and Men

 

When the time for the Ceremony arrives, it is raining in the Shroud. It isn't really a surprise to anyone but Yda and Papalymo stand outside to help usher their guests into the Sanctum. They hand out food and drinks — warm tea and warmer steak — and soon the rows of seats are filled. Yda notices a woman standing in the rain, staring off into the distance. She is tall, elegant; with long blonde hair, though it is starting the grey near the roots. The older woman looks familiar — too much so. Yda bites her lip and Papalymo gives her a questioningly look.

There is no doubt in Yda's mind who it is, but she doesn't have the courage to tell Papalymo that her own mother showed up for their wedding.

There is a call for Yda and Papalymo to go to their separate rooms so that they can change. Yda gives Papalymo a kind of pleading look and he just gives her a smile. Once in their rooms and helped into their garments, there is nothing left to do but wait for the actual ceremony to start. Papalymo is dressed fairly quickly and without any help; Yda, though, takes longer. It takes two people to get her into her corset, mostly because of her complaining and then they have to do her hair and make-up. They try to cover the scar on her nose but she reassures them it's not necessary. Finally, though, they manage to get her presentable.

Yda stares at the box on the table and slowly removes the headpiece. Her hair has been done up and she remembers the looks the attendants gave her Third Eye. She fits the headpiece on and glances at herself in the mirror. She doesn't look like herself. Her Third Eye is framed by elegant metal and jewels. When the attendants leave, she pulls on her red boots under the dress to remind herself who she is — to remind everyone she is still the same.

Papalymo finds himself pacing back and forth in the small room. It is taking so long. He is anxious and he is almost tempted to just walk out. He wishes he could at least talk to Yda while they are waiting. The minutes tick by painfully slow and he has to take deep breaths to calm himself. Finally, they hear the bell chime and someone shows them back out of the room. Papalymo sees Yda for the first time across the room. She meets his eyes and then lowers them.

Yda is beautiful and he swallows. His knees shake as he meets her in the center of the room. His hand brushes her and she flashes him a shy smile. Her face is flustered and as Minfilia would say 'She cleans up nicely.' If Papalymo hadn't been in love with her before, he is smitten now.

Yda takes a deep breath as they turn to face the door. Then, in sync, they start to walk towards it. She is happy she has the banquet of flowers to hide her shaking hands. The doors open and they face the crowd. At first everyone is silent — maybe in awe or shock. A few eyes land on her Third Eye, whispers erupting. Then, there are a few gasps and Yda and Papalymo keep walking forward. It doesn't take long for the cheers start. There's clapping and even the sound of crying. Yda and Papalymo exchange looks and they can't help but smile at each other. Papalymo's heart skips a beat and Yda's face is still flustered. Papalymo doesn't even look at her Third Eye, doesn't even notice it. He just sees Yda.

When they arrive before the alter, there is silence. A few whispers and a wail from the audience, something about 'my wee lil Yda is getting married!' most likely from Skarn. The Officiant of the Graces clears her throat. Yda and Papalymo glance at her, but mostly keep their eyes on each other.

“Here, in the presence of gods and men, they shall take a solemn oath to endure all future trials as one. Supporting the other, should they falter. Guiding the other, should they lose their way.”

Papalymo's hands are sweating and Yda's lips are dry. The Officiant smiles at them.

“If there is any person here present who might show just cause as to why this couple should not be so joined, let them speak now or forever hold their peace,” she pauses and Papalymo tenses, afraid there will be some outburst. There is none and so the Officiant continues, “If there is none, then allow our couple to read aloud their prepared vows.”

And of course they had prepared vows. They had worked hard on them — Yda smooths her palms against her dress and nods.

She starts, trying to ease the quiver in her voice, “Like Rhalgr, I will protect you from anything that threatens you. I will be the destroyer of your enemies and the passion that drives you. I will be the lightning that lights up your darkest nights. We will stand together.”

Papalymo inhales deeply, “And like Thaliak, I will guide you with my wisdom. I will your teacher and your friend, keeping you on the right path. I will be the water that calms you. We will stand together.”

Yda glances to the back of the room, meeting eyes with the older woman standing near the doorway. She quickly looks back to Papalymo and continues the vows, “Whatever it takes, we will bring the dawn to banish the darkness.”

Papalymo raises an eyebrow but continues, “Whatever it takes.”

There is a brief silence and the doors behind them opens and slams shut. Yda jumps and glances back. The figure that had been at the door had left. The Officiant blinks but then holds out her arms. Yda barely hears what she says to them but she sees the rings again for the first time in weeks. She is nervous again as Papalymo turns his gaze to the rings also. He reaches out and takes one before reaching out to Yda's hand. Her hands quiver as she brings it up for him. Time seems to stop as he slips it on her finger and she has to force herself to remember to breathe. His hands linger against hers before he pulls back.

Yda reaches out for the other ring and fumbles with it slightly, nearly dropping it. Papalymo offers his hand and she almost can't get it on his finger. He reaches up to help her, a smile on the corners of his lips. She finds herself smiling back. There is a cheer from the crowd and the sound of Skarn bawling uncontrollably. They glance back at the Officiant and watch as she pours champagne into their goblets.

Once full, they both reached forward and took their glasses. Yda's hands shake so much she is afraid she will spill it. Papalymo brushes his hand against her free one and it is enough to steady her. She swallows and nods at him. They turn to each other and she lowers her glass to tap against his before they both raise them up in a toast. For Eorzea — for each other.

There is another rally of cheers and cries and then the clapping starts. Yda and Papalymo turn towards their guests and meet each others eyes. They smile and time seems to stop. Right now, everything is right in the world — right now, they are happy. Finally, they break their gaze and each take a sip from their goblets.

At that moment, there isn't any thought of why they are doing this, just that it is happening. Nothing else matters but them. When it is all said and done, it's still raining in the Shroud but in the end, it's okay.