2.21. The Peat Dance
It’s a windless day, cool and still. Steam rises off the geothermal lake, carrying with it the faint smell of sulfur.
A faded gazebo stands watch over the lake and its triad of waterfalls. It’s rustic, verging on run-down. But with the proper decor, it serves well as a setting for the day’s festivities.
Everything has been set up with meticulous attention to detail.
The flowers are coordinated with the table cloths.
The food is inoffensive but expertly made.
The cake is sweet and simple.
And half the seats are empty. Lark requested a small ceremony, which Dominic happily agreed to. That makes the procession down the aisle easier--only twenty eyes are on her, not including the anxious gaze of her bridegroom.
Her gait is cautious, almost teetering. On her feet is her something old: a pair of heels from a long-forgotten school dance.
Her dress, which is both far too white and far too tight, is her something new. It had also been purchased too far in advance, and had to be let out on the actual wedding day.
Earrings--on loan from Lydia--serve both as her something borrowed and her something blue, thus rounding out the requisite items for protection, luck, and fidelity in her marriage. It’s picture perfect.
Of course, Lark never expected to be this pregnant on her wedding day. But at least she’s picturesquely pregnant.
She joins Dom under the bowed birch branches of the wedding arch. They decided against an officiant, opting instead for a simple exchange of vows and rings.
“You look beautiful,” he says absently.
“You don’t think I’m too huge? The seamstress had to let out the waist so much I feel like I’m wearing a tent,” she places a hand on her stomach and smiles as she feels a kick, “I mean, I’m basically a beached whale at this point. A beached whale in an expensive tent.”
“Beautiful,” he repeats, “you look beautiful.”
“Are you okay?”
“I’m wearing too many clothes, right? It feels like I’m wearing too much,” Dominic fans his face with his hand, “it’s way too hot.”
“Dominic,” her face falls, “Please don’t tell me you’re getting cold feet.”
“No,” he shakes his head, “not at all. It’s just--it’s just--there are so many people, and this is happening. We’re getting married and you’re having a baby and I could make so many mistakes in either one of those areas, and those mistakes are going to affect real, actual people for the rest of their lives and--
“You need to relax.”
“Shh,” she flashes a strained smile, “I need calm, level-headed Dom, not crazy, staring-out-the-window-in-existential-terror Dom. Okay?”
“No. Stop. I will patiently listen to your brooding after the wedding. But right now our family is waiting for us to get married. We need to get married, Dominic.”
Dominic inhales deeply. “I’m fine,” he exhales, “I’m sorry.” He tightens his fists at his side and then loosens them, breathing in through his nose and out his mouth.
With Dominic’s fears momentarily silenced, the wedding proceeds. Lark begins the vows, speaking as loudly as she can so she isn’t drowned out by the crash of the waterfalls: “"In the presence of our friends and family, I take thee, Dominic Trémaux, to be my husband, promising to be unto thee a loving and faithful wife so long as we both shall live."
She punctuates her promise by presenting the ring, warm and sweaty from being held in her fist during the procession and recitation. Her hands tremble and she holds her breath as she slides the ring onto his finger. For a moment surreal silence overtakes her: no waterfalls, no bird songs, nothing. Just her heart beating in her ears. She releases her breath and the drone of the waterfalls floods her senses.
Dominic repeats the vows, speeding through them far too quickly: “In the presence of our friends and family, I take thee, Lark Bee, to be my wife, promising to be unto thee a loving and faithful husband so long as we both shall live."
She holds out her hand for the ring. His palm--as always, sweaty, rough, much too warm--meets hers, and a tingle rushes down her spine.
She’s heard that year of marriage dull even the brightest relationships, but she prays that this--the heat the radiates through her every time he touches her--never fades.
Although required to be there by familial obligation, the guests are equally full of well wishes. Quentin in particular is overjoyed at his youngest daughter’s marriage. He had even made sure to snag a seat in the very front so he wouldn’t miss a word of the vows, abandoning his wife to the back row in the process.
Luna doesn’t seem to care, though. “It was such a beautiful ceremony,” she says as she blinks back tears.
“I’m just glad she married this guy instead of Nik,” Luke replies.
“Oh, that too.”
“This is so romantic,” Kyra exhales, “isnt it, Lo?”
“Yeah,” Lowell sobs. He’s always been a sucker for a good wedding.
“And his aura is so calm,” she continues, “much better than Nikolas’.”
While some are relieved, other guests are left wondering about the future of their family, and their place in it.
But they have no one to articulate those concerns to.
The ceremony ends traditionally, with a kiss that is simultaneously deep and chaste.
Raven leads the celebration, throwing rice and cheering as the couple makes their way back down the aisle and to the reception.
Not everyone is there to celebrate, though.
Nor are they charmed by the painstakingly selected decor.
The reception is a blur. Dominic delivers a heartfelt and completely forgettable toast before cutting the cake. The guests mill about, offering congratulations to the bride and groom and reminiscing about past weddings.
The kids, sugar high on cake and sick of nostalgia, seek refuge on the dance floor.
“No, Bjorn! Like this,” Raven demonstrates, “you have to shimmy more. No, more! Shimmy harder!”
Bjorn ignores his stepsister, opting for a more relaxed dance.
Quentin, meanwhile, requests a dance with his daughter. Luna makes the same request of her obviously overwhelmed son-in-law.
“It was a lovely ceremony,” she says.
“Thank you, Mrs. Bee.”
“When are you going to start calling me Luna?”
“Sorry. Luna,” he says her name with palpable discomfort.
“So have you and Lark picked out a name for the baby yet?”
“Umm,” Dominic stutters, “Lark told me not to tell anyone because you would try to dissuade us.”
“Oh. Well. That doesn’t bode well, does it?”
“I promise it’s pretty.”
“Pretty? So it’s a girl then,” Luna’s eyes twinkle. So far she only has grandsons: Bjorn, Fenrir, and Laurence, Lydia’s boy. A granddaughter would be welcome.
“No! I didn’t say that. I mean, Lark asked the doctor not to tell her the sex so we really don’t know for sure.”
“Mmm-hmm,” Luna smiles knowingly.
Lark’s conversation with her father is more carefree and idle. They flitter between topics, discussing her gown, Lydia’s recent city representative election, Bjorn’s growing interest in art, and Quentin’s dwindling garden. A scratchy cough interrupts them.
“May I cut in?” Bastian asks.
Quentin looks at his daughter, who nods. “Of course,” he says before giving her a quick kiss on the cheek, “I’ll talk to you later.”
Lark reluctantly puts her hand in Bastian’s. He leads, obviously familiar with the steps, but his form is mechanical and forced.
“Thanks for coming,” Lark breaks the silence, “we didn’t know if you’d make it.”
“I wouldn’t miss my own son’s wedding,” Bastian snaps.
“That’s not what I was saying--I know it’s a long way to travel.”
His face softens. “It was a long trip, yes. But I had to come, even if it wasn’t what was expected.”
“Oh maker,” Lark rolls her eyes, “I’m almost afraid to ask.”
“Dominic didn’t tell you about the betrothal? Figures.”
“What are you talking about?”
“His mother started arranging a marriage right around Dom’s twelfth birthday,” his tone is too nonchalant, “He was promised to marry someone else.”
“Is this something you really need to tell me? Like, does this urgently need to be discussed at this moment, or are you just being a dick?”
“It was a little early,” Bastian continues, “but she wanted to know that our boy would have a family.”
“He has a family now.”
Bastian ignores her. “My wife made headway with another family in Bridgeport--the Martíns, I think. Their daughter was around the same age as Dominic.”
“Let me finish, Lark,” Bastian’s voice--worn with age--is still commanding, “She came to an agreement with the Martíns. Their daughter--what was her name? It started with an S--Sandra? Selena? I don’t recall. But their daughter would marry Dominic when she was twenty one.”
“Well unless Dom is keeping a huge secret from me, he didn’t marry her.”
“The betrothal never happened. My wife died shortly after they came to a tentative agreement. It was sudden,” he pauses, “she was tithed, not that that means nothing to you. The point is, after her death the betrothal fell through. I didn’t have the heart to go through with it, to find where I was supposed to pick up after her.”
Lark searches his face, trying to glean what he expects from her. Finding nothing, she falls back on a platitude. “You must have loved her a lot.”
Bastian looks up, his watery gaze meeting hers. “I had come to an understanding with Beatrice. But not until I had broken her heart. Several times, actually. I was never able to love my wife the way she wanted, but I appreciated what she gave to me.”
“I don’t understand why you’re telling me this,” she says as she glances over her shoulder at her husband. Dominic is locked in a seemingly pleasant conversation with her father. “Like, did you come all the way from Bridgeport just to shit on my wedding?”
“I suppose there’s no reason for you not to think that,” he shakes his head, “No. That’s not why I’m here. I’m here to celebrate your marriage. My marriage was arranged, just like Dominic’s was supposed to be. It works well for some people--maker knows Beatrice wanted it to work. Other people can never acclimate. And some people, like me, take advantage of the permanency of the institution. It works to preserve our bloodlines and our magic, though, and that can’t be underestimated.”
Lark furrows her brows as she thinks, then narrows her eyes when she realizes what he’s saying. “You’re mad I’m not a witch.”
“I was at first. That feeling passed.”
“Well I’m not super duper happy about you being my father-in-law.”
He laughs, his raspy voice cutting through the warm air. “You shouldn’t be.”
“So you didn’t answer my question. Why are you telling me this?”
“Because I’m glad that Dominic chose to marry you. And I’m glad he had that choice.”
“That wasn’t something I should actually be thankful for,” she laughs, “you old bastard.”
“You always were a spitfire,” he smiles, “welcome to the family, Lark.” He holds out his arms. She hesitantly meets him for a hug. While his coat is bulky, she can feel the frailty of his aging body. It surprises her--he’s slighter than she expected, and it feels like she could crush him with ease.
“Yeah. See you around,” she responds with a slight frown.
Finally, after hours of ceremony and speeches and pained conversations, Lark and Dominic meet for their first dance as a married couple. They sway together, ignoring their post-nuptial panic fatigue in favor of each other’s company.
“I hope my father didn’t bother you too much,” Dominic says.
“He only terrorized me a little.”
“Other than that, was today…?”
“Nice. It was nice.”
“Just nice?” Dominic asks as he twirls her around.
“Amazing. Fantastic. Wonderful,” she laughs as the world spins around her, “it was whatever you wanna hear. Just stop spinning me because I’m fairly certain if I fall I’ll be stuck until I pop out this baby.”
“Sorry,” he grins.
“Thanks for this. For suggesting a wedding. It was...nice.”
He doesn’t respond, though.
And that’s fine. They’ll have their whole lives for conversation.
"The Peat Dance" -- The Danish String QuartetAuthor’s note: Writing anything even vaguely romantic is so, so difficult for me. But I went back and read the chapter in which Luna and Quentin get married, as well as Crux and Polly’s wedding chapter from my last legacy and when I was done cringing I decided I needed to devote more than a few paragraphs to this wedding. And then I ruined it with Bastian’s nonsense at the end. XD
Also, I have not been good about keeping up with SP stuff so here’s the rundown: Luke is married to a sim named Amara, whom I dropped in to the world JUST for him. Still no babies, and he’s an adult now. Lydia is still married to Kristofer, and she’s pregnant with their second baby (she’s actually due the same day as Lark--I just realized none of the pictures show how huge she is). She’s still a young adult despite being Luke’s twin, probably because she got pregnant at the right time. Her son, Laurence, was invited but didn’t come. Kyra and Lowell have one daughter, Donna, who also didn’t show up. Lowell’s brother Liev is married and has one daughter (named Kenya--that might change next time I see her around town). Nikolas started dating Valeria Wrede (Kyra’s older sister), but then she married some old bastard like a day after I got that notification. I’m actually a little heartbroken about that because they would have made absolutely gorgeous babies.*
I’ll probably move some of the Bees out of the neighborhood in the next generation, or I’ll at least ban some of them from having children. Their family tree is getting a little out of hand, and it’s only their second generation in AS.
*I might cheat and force them back together.