Epilogue, Part 1
As the weather got warmer, the budding flowers sprouted. The fresh green leaves and soft spring breeze made her smile and forget all her worries. She was happy that the weather was nice, but she was ecstatic for another reason too. Today was her special day. She had a smile on her face all day.
This was the day of her wedding.
“You feel that good?” asked Yulia, who was also smiling.
“Yeah. I feel great,” said Siana.
The translucent veil which had been laced on Siana’s head gently fluttered in the wind.
Yulia asked her, who couldn’t stop smiling.
Siana nodded fervently at her question. The translucent white veil, which had been put on her head a few minutes ago, gently fluttered. “The very first letter I sent you on my wedding,” said Yulia, “You were indifferent.”
“Well, yes, at that time, I was,” said Siana, “But, you were so nervous about getting married.”
“Well, I was tired when preparing for it,” said Yulia, “But now that we are here, I am so excited for you.”
Siana blushed. “Do you remember when I asked you to catch my bouquet?”
“I remember a little but not so much,” said Siana.
“You said you didn’t want it because you never wanted to get married,” said Yulia, chuckling.
“Oh, I remember now,” said Siana.
“I thought you will be alone forever, but seeing you now, I feel so happy for you,” said Yulia, “Life can be so unpredictable.”
“That is true,” said Siana trying to avoid Yulia’s gaze. She felt ashamed of hearing those words thrown back at her.
“Anyway, I am so glad you are happy,” said Yulia, ‘Your dress and bouquet are so bright and pretty!”
“I chose these with Alan,” said Siana.
“I knew it even before you told me,” said Yulia, “There is no way Alan wouldn’t have accompanied you. He is totally moon-eyed over you.”
Siana smiled as she admired her dress in the mirror and the bouquet in her hands. When she touched the dress with the gloves on her hands, they felt so soft and fluffy. Everything felt nice and pretty.
“I envy you. My husband didn’t follow me, so my mother and sister-in-law helped me choose my dress,” said Yulia.
“What? He didn’t follow you?” asked Siana.
“It was the harvest season of all time,” said Yulia, “So, he was very busy with everything.”
“So, he’s not here with you today either?” asked Siana, staring at the back of Yulia’s head.
Yulia had always arrived at the capital alone. Maybe because Siana had never seen Yulia with her husband before, she almost she had one.
“Oh, we did come together,” said Yulia, “We had to come together no matter what because it’s the wedding of my closest friend. I just told him I had to come and see if you were prepared. My husband’s probably at the front door.” Yulia looked at her. “Seems like you haven’t seen my husband in a long time.”
“You’re right,” said Siana, “I saw him just once during your wedding and haven’t seen him since then.” Siana racked her brain to recall what he looked like. I remember him leaving quite a good impression, thought Siana.
She tried very hard to remember Yulia’s wedding. She wrinkled her brow in effort. Yulia poked her on her arm.
“Anyway, tell me the aftermath of the Viscount North situation,” said Yulia.
“Which one?” asked Siana with a sigh.
“About how Alan sued him,” said Yulia, “I asked you in the letter, but you said it was too long to write about. You promised me you would tell me everything when we met. So, tell me.”
“Ah, right,” said Siana, “So Alan sued him for defamation. Viscount North hired a lawyer to fight his case, but Alan and Hugh were so eloquent with their evidences that he lost the case. He had to pay a hefty fine.”
“So, he paid a fine and now is free?” asked Yulia.
“Well…,” said Siana, “There is more.”
Siana continued to tell the over-excited Yulia about everything that happened after that. She told her of the interrogation of Viscount North where it was found out that he had been evading his taxes and how he had earned money through fraudulent solicitation. She told her of all other illegal activities that Viscount North had indulged in. In the end, he paid a much larger fine to Alan than the last one and had been thrown into prison for three years.
“From what Alan said,” continued Siana, “Viscount North can never recover from this.”
“Really?!” said Yulia with a huge smile.
“What? Why are you smiling?”
“No, just thinking. Don’t worry about it.”
Siana always worried when she was told not to worry. Feeling like there was something else in Yulia’s mind, Siana was about to coax her to reveal it but Yulia interrupted her thoughts.
“Serves him right,” said Yulia, “Three years in prison will hopefully humble him. He won’t be able to show his face anywhere near you again.”
Siana nodded at her words. She forgot she had meant to ask her something. They talked for a long time about random things when the maid arrived to let them know that it was almost time for the wedding.
Yulia took her leave. She told Siana that she will be in the waiting room. Siana had been fine until Yulia had been with her. But now, she suddenly felt nervous about the whole thing. She knew the wedding process and the ceremony; it wasn’t very complicated but she still felt jittery. She stood up from her seat and the maid pulled the veil over her face.
The sunlight hit her warmly as soon as she stepped into the wedding hall. From under her veil, she could see many familiar faces. There was only one face she wanted to see right now, who was standing in front of the priest. Someone with dazzling blond hair and a beaming smile.
“Sia,” said Alan as he offered her his hand. She took it without hesitation.
Siana and Alan stood in front of the priest, hand in hand. Once, this was never what they had imagined. The familiar wedding choirs was heard in the room.
The priest, whom Siana had never seen before, seemed to know about Alan from his time on the battlefield.
The wedding hall was filled with commanders and soldiers who were either indebted to Alan or had formed an unforgettable bond with him from his time in the military. Servants from their estate were also present along with those from Yulia’s and Hugh’s household.
The priest cleared his throat and began the sermon. Siana kept her eyes on Alan, through the veil. They faced each other. Siana recalled her journey with Alan till now: Alan’s proposal, her time with him, Viscount North’s accusations, and the trial. They had been through a lot together.
Now that everything had been resolved, these will be her memory, to look back on comfortably. But at that time, it had been difficult situations. We fought through it all, thought Siana, gratefully.
Alan’s curse hadn’t resurfaced since the first time. She would make sure it stayed that way, since they were going to be together forever. She glanced at Alan one last time before focusing on the sermons. Words continued to bless them as bride and groom for the future to come.
Even if they were married legally long before this and had used words like ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, everything felt a little strange and more important today. Now I understand why people put so much importance to the ceremonies.
Before so many people, Siana and Alan felt like they were only now publicly and officially being recognized as ‘couple’. With a gesture from the priest, they exchanged the rings and put it on each other’s fingers. The birthstone on the rings gleamed.
“Now, you may kiss the bride,” said the priest.
Alan lifted up her veil and took her face in his hands. As Siana closed her eyes, Alan’s lips dropped on hers. “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” said the priest.
A roar of cheers resounded from the hall as the crowd erupted in happiness. Among the applause and cheers stood Siana and Alan, holding hands and beaming.
* * *
The reception was held after the wedding. Siana and Alan had both changed into comfortable clothes to welcome their guests and exchange greetings and gifts. The first ones they met were the priest and Alan’s chief.
“Thank you for coming.”
“Oh, Alan. I am so happy for you,” said the chief, “I was shocked when your wife contacted me. Have you finished everything you needed to do?”
“Yes, sir,” said Alan, “Everything is in order. Thank you again for coming.”
“Think nothing of it! It’s not like I did anything.”
“Alan is not the type to ask for help,” said someone.
“That is true,” said yet another guest.
Siana stood a little at the side, listening to their conversation, but not really understanding what they were talking about. She was just starting to space out when Alan pulled her to him by her shoulder.
“This is Siana, my wife,” he said.
“Well, hello, Siana Lagarde.”
“Oh! Mrs. Lagarde! Yeah, I saw you during the sermon earlier. You truly are very beautiful. Sorry for my rudeness. I am Carmine Brilliant.”
“And I am Rip Greene.”
“I’ve heard so much about you two from Alan. He said you helped him so much on the battlefield.”
“We were blessed to have him with us,” said Carmine, smiling pleasantly at her.
Carmine and Rip congratulated them both on the wedding. They finally left and the soldiers behind them came forward to congratulate and wish them well.
The next guests who Alan and Siana approached were Yulia and her husband. The two were at a table, leisurely drinking wine. They stood up as soon as they saw Alan and Siana approach.
“Hello Lord Lagarde. Ah, long time no see, Mrs. Lagarde. I am Ashley Linen. Congratulations on your marriage.”
“Congrats!” said Yulia.
“Thank you,” said Alan, shaking Asley’s hand.
Siana studied the man whom she had only seen at a long time ago when Yulia was getting married. Ashley turned to Siana after shaking Alan’s hand.
“I have wanted to thank you for a while now,” he said.
“Thank me? Whatever for?” asked Siana.
Ashley smiled. “After marriage, I felt Yulia missed her home and her friends. I knew she was feeling a little blue,” he said, “I was worried about her, but she has been happier recently. I think it is all thanks to you. Thank you for being such a good friend to my wife.”
“What are you even talking about?” asked Yulia, “When was I ever feeling blue?”
“Oh, come now,” said Ashley, “You looked so grim and sad all the time in our estate. But you were always happy when you came back from the capital. So, I thought…”
“Well, it was because I saw my friend after a very long time!”
“That’s what I just said.”
“Ugh, you really…,” said Yulia and slapped him playfully on his shoulder. He laughed at her reaction.
It was unfamiliar for Siana to see Yulia like this, flustered and blushing. The Yulia she had come to know for years was always so spontaneous and unapologetic. It was rare to see her flustered with anyone. Alan and Siana smiled at them being playful.
* * *
The reception ended in the afternoon and all the guests slowly returned to their own estate. Except the Legarde’s servants and the soldiers, the banquet hall was almost empty.
Siana and Alan finally relaxed. They had been moving around and talking to their guests all day. The felt tired being on their feet for the whole day. Siana, seated at an empty table, muttered. “It’s finally over…”
“You did great, Sia,” said Alan.
“You too!” said Siana, “Who knew weddings could be this tiring?”
Alan laughed at her reply. “It was so tiring even though it was a small wedding with people that we knew,” said Alan, “It would have been exhausting if we had thrown a big wedding, right?’
“Exactly,” said Siana, “I don’t even want to imagine. Thank god we didn’t.”
Siana stood up with a groan. The more she moved, the more tired she felt.
“Are you going inside?” asked Alan.
“Yes,” said Siana, stretching, “I want to bathe and then sleep. I feel so tired.”
“Wait,” he said. He took her hand and pulled her to him. Siana looked at him, curious.
“Why?” she asked.
“Are you very tired?” he asked.
“Um….” Siana wasn’t to say yes but she thought something was on his mind. Why would he ask that? She had already told him she was practically dying. What reason could there be? Don’t tell me he wants to make love…