Yay, I’m back! -flails happily- Anyhoo, I can’t say partial nudity since you don’t really SEE anything but there is… nakedness implied in this chapter? Something like that.
“Sen? Darling? Hey–she’s waking up. Sen, can you hear me?”
My body felt heavy and it took a lot of energy to move my hand. “My head hurts,” I mumbled. “What… my… wedding…” I tried to sit up but hands pushed me back down.
“You blacked out, darling,” Hen said, leanin’ in close. “I caught you before you hit the floor but you smacked your head against the arch, I’m sorry.” His lips went against my forehead. “Mal reckons you don’t have a concussion but he’ll need to check again.”
“I–fainted… on my wedding–oh Hen I am sorry!” I tried sittin’ up again but he held me down. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine,” he promised. “Was it because of…?”
I slowly nodded and then settled back, closing my eyes. “I’m such an idiot. I never thought… so many people in one room, all that emotion.” I felt terrible, and so incredibly stupid. “How long was I out?”
“Not even an hour.” Henri stroked my cheek and I opened my eyes again, starin’ up at him. “Your family is still all at the venue, they moved into the reception room. I’ll go and get Mal, I’ll be back. Don’t fret.” He kissed my fingers and then floated off.
I turned my head and saw my daddies were sitting on a nearby couch. Mom leaned forward like he was going to stand up but he settled back again. “We can send the rest of the family off. I don’t think it would be a good thing to just continue the wedding right now–“
“No! No,” I panted. “I’ll be fine. I can’t just cancel the wedding.”
“You can’t go through with the wedding.” Dad said, looking (and feelin’) very adamant about the issue. “Are you willing to risk fainting again?”
I scowled. “Yes,” I grumbled. “This is my wedding. I have been able to get through weddings before. Duncan, and River. I can get through mine.”
“Going to a wedding and being the bride are two different things,” Grandma said, from a few feet away from my couch. “The emotions people feel are usually rather focused on the bride and groom. And if it’s anything like how I felt on my wedding day, I was a nervous wreck–I am sure that didn’t, or won’t, help anything.”
Henri floated through the door then the door opened and Mal came in. He smiled when he saw me and then came over, kneeling down. He felt kinda scared since he was still in medical school so I gave him a reassuring smile. “I’m glad to have a doctor in the family.”
“I’m not a doctor yet,” he said, leanin’ in and inspectin’ my eyes. “We should probably call a real one. But judging from what I see, I don’t see any signs of concussion though you did get a bit of a bump on your head.” He reached up and touched a spot on my head that hurt. “A little ice will help, but don’t keep it on for too long.”
“I will do that after the wedding,” I said.
“No!” Henri exclaimed. “We can’t go through that again. You can’t.”
“I can do what I want! And I want to get married.”
“We will still get married,” Henri said, strokin’ my forehead. “A private ceremony, maybe your parents and siblings if you can even stand that. Your family will understand–“
“I want my family to be there,” I whimpered.
“How hard is it with just the few of us here in this room?” Dad demanded and I flicked my gaze to my hands. “It’s difficult, isn’t it?”
“That isn’t the point–” I tried but Henri put his fingers on my lips.
“It is the point,” he said. “Your father is right. Your family will understand. In fact, if you insist on marrying now we could just bring in Nick now and get married here. Then everyone else can have the reception and you and I can head back home. You can lay down with some ice.”
Mom straightened up, hands on his hips. “That sounds good to me. I can go get Nick and your siblings, and Henri is completely right. Everyone will understand. Do you want to do it this way, hun?”
I looked at Henri who gave me a little nod. Everyone else in the room felt determined, so I nodded reluctantly. “All right. But Grandma too, since I’ll feel her no matter where she is. And Jack, and–“
“No, just the siblings and Grandma,” Dad cut in. “Otherwise you’ll keep expanding the list until we wind up in the same place as before.”
I scowled deeply at that and stretched back out on the cough, grumbling. I really wanted my family there. But they were all right, it was ridiculous for me to expect it to happen that way. Putting the wedding off wouldn’t work since even with shields I doubted I could stand anything bigger than what they had convinced me of. My siblings, dads, and Grandma. Eight people. Nine, including Nick. I could handle that. Right?
My hands were shakin’ this time around and I clutched at Henri’s hands as my cousin began the ceremony again. I felt horrible about this, about cutting out most my family because of this weakness. I tried to smile–I was so happy I was marrying Henri–but it was real hard to keep a smile on my face. Except I did feel a bit dizzy, even with just my siblings, dads, and grandma in the room. Plus my cousin.
“You okay?” Hen whispered. I gave a little nod and he held my hands tighter, probably knowin’ I was just lying. It was hard to focus on the ceremony and after a few minutes I wished I had just skipped over everything and just, oh I dunno, eloped.
Finally it came to when we spoke and then the exchange of the rings. I had had a big romantic speech planned out but I felt so drained and everything that it just left my head. So instead I said, “I love you, Henri, and don’t want to ever be without you again. We’ve been given this chance to be together again, and I–I cannot express how happy that makes me. I am looking forward to becoming your wife, and living our lives together, as strange as lives as we have.”
Henri smiled at that and snickered. “You were there for me during all my ups and downs, and through the hard times. You gave me more strength than I ever could have on my own. And you were there even when so many others would have left. I loved you for so long of my life, and continued loving you after my life was over, and will always love you.”
We pledged our vows then shared our first kiss as husband and wife. My family cheered and I had to cling to Henri to keep their feelings from overwhelmin’ me again. We were Mr. and Mrs. Laroche and Danevbie, respectively. It was difficult to get a name change when one of the couple was dead, so we decided to not bother about it for now. I wasn’t even sure how the marriage license worked but my cousin promised me he’d get it sorted out. Good enough for me.
My daddies came forward and gave us both hugs, welcoming Henri officially to the family and then kissing my forehead. They both felt rather sad but it was a good sort of sad. My siblings all pretty much felt the same as they hugged us. I understood how they felt. I had been the happy sort of sad when Duncan and River both married. And I’d feel the same if and when any of my other siblings married. Grandma didn’t have much sadness, she was very pleased at the whole thing.
“Are we going to the reception?” Henri asked. Everyone looked at me and I looked down at the tips of my red shoes, peepin’ out from under my dress. “Everyone will understand if you don’t feel up to it,” he added.
“I want to at least thank everyone for coming,” I said, liftin’ my chin back up. “I will be okay for that. But then maybe–maybe we should go home. So I can rest,” I added as Kaylee started gigglin’.
“Is that what they’re calling it these days,” she said with a big grin. I smacked her arm and she began giggling again. “Sorry, sorry! I know you’re worn out from everything.”
When we went to where the reception was, I was worried about makin’ it through even that. But I managed to announce a thank-you to my extended family for being there for me, and putting up with the craziness. Henri thanked everyone too, and then we said goodbye to my daddies, siblings, and Grandma once more before we left. Henri never got his license while he was alive so it took me a few minutes of sitting in the cab of my truck before I felt calm enough to drive.
“Should we get someone to drive us back?” he asked.
“No, I’m okay now,” I promised, pullin’ out of the parking lot of the small buildin’ we had rented for the wedding. “I still feel terrible it went this way…”
“You couldn’t help it. I don’t think anyone was mad about it, just probably worried about–well, you could tell how they felt, right?” he asked and I nodded. He was right, they were all mostly worried about my health, none of them really felt bitter about the wedding turnin’ out like it did. Plus they still got to go to a reception, even if the bride and groom weren’t there. Cake, I was sure, helped soothe any ruffled feathers.
“Are you upset?” I asked, tiltin’ my head to look sideways at him.
“Never,” he said, reachin’ over to put his hand on mine. “I am grateful we got married. Married!” he suddenly said loudly, causing me to jump “Can you believe it, Sen? We’re–we’re married. Married!”
I grinned and shifted my hand so I could hold his. “Married,” I echoed. “See, I told you I was persistent. I proposed over a decade ago and not even you dying could get you out of it,” I teased.
Henri snorted and laughed. “I have the most stubborn wife ever.”
We arrived at our sort-of-new home. I had seen it from the outside every time I came to take care of the horses but I was excited to see the inside. Henri scooped me up into his arms and I shrieked, and wriggled. “You can’t do this, you’ll drop me!” I protested.
“Nope, I’ve got you,” he said and then dropped me as when we reached the door he started to go straight through it. Since I couldn’t go through it… I was knocked out of his arms. I couldn’t help but laugh as Henri floated back through the door, a horrified look on his face. “I am so sorry! Are you okay?”
I got to my feet, still laughin’. “Yes, oh Hen! Hahahaha!”
“S-stop laughing, it was an accident. I’ve not used doors the right way for a while.” He got the look on his face, the one whenever he was embarrassed. “You’re sure you’re not hurt?”
“I’m sure,” I giggled, and opened the door. “There. Shall we try again?”
He scooped me back up and carried me through the open door then set me down in the front room. After he shut–and locked–the door behind him, we held hands and walked through the house, amazed at the difference. It looked very nice, even if a bit bare. I knew at once I’d have to go furniture shopping when I had some time but it would work for now. There were two new rooms that could possibly be bedrooms, the kitchen was bigger with a separate area for the dining room, there were now two bathrooms–one attached to the master bedroom which was a lot bigger now. And had a double bed in it.
When Henri and I looked at it, there was silence. He opened his mouth but I began talkin’ before he could. “I’m fine,” I said and ignored the look he gave me. “Honestly!”
“You’re not,” he accused. “You should rest. You fainted!”
I edged my shoulder up, turnin’ a bit away from him. “It’s our wedding night.”
“We’ve waited so long, we can wait another night,” he said, takin’ my hand and pullin’ me towards the bed. “I’d rather you get some rest. Don’t pretend you’re fine, I know you’re exhausted. You look–“
“If you are considering telling a bride on her wedding day that she doesn’t look well, you’re in for it,” I snapped.
He smiled. “I was going to say, you look very tired. Get some rest, darling. Please.” I wanted to argue but decided not to. He was right, unfortunately. I was very tired and not really feelin’ my best. So with his help, I got out of my wedding dress and shivered as he ran his hands down my bare arms and onto my hips.
His lips were against the back of my neck and I gave a little moan. “This isn’t helping convince me to go to sleep, you know.”
He let go and gave me an apologetic smile. I sighed and pulled on a nightie. I had some sexy lingerie but I’d save that for the next day. Henri changed into something that looked vaguely like somethin’ to sleep in, and then we climbed into the bed. It was very comfortable and quite roomy. I snuggled up against him, puttin’ my left hand on his. The ring I had put on him of course wasn’t suitable for everyday use, but he had managed to form a ghostly ring around his left ring finger. The real wedding ring was on the bedside table. I considered takin’ mine off and puttin’ it beside his, since I was a bit afraid it’d slip off while I slept, but it was on my finger pretty snugly. So I just held Henri’s hand tightly and closed my eyes.
“Goodnight, my husband,” I said and he pulled my hand up to his mouth so he could kiss my hand, just above the ring. I smiled, and then exhaustion took hold of me.
The next day we did consummate our marriage which was–well, honestly I wasn’t sure what to make of it since I had nothin’ to compare it to. I thought it was amazing. Brilliant. Wonderful. The most perfect experience in my entire life. Could someone have three perfect experiences in a row? Well, I did. Henri swore he never wanted to do anything else but while HE might have had more stamina than me, I really needed a break.
“Hmph,” he pouted as I got out of bed. “You train and show horses. You should have more energy than this.”
I threw a pillow at him. “Jumping does not make me that sore! Maybe when I’m more used to it but right now it hurts.”
“Are you okay?” he asked, switchin’ immediately to a worried look. “Did I–uh, did I do something wrong?”
“No you didn’t!” I said with a laugh. “It’s supposed to hurt for the first time, for a girl. I deserved that white dress, you know. I may have dated but I never did that.” Henri settled back, looking rather pleased with himself. I groaned and threw another pillow at him. “Stop looking all smug! You had sex, not something history-making.”
“It was for me,” he said with a smile.
I tried to scowl but couldn’t. “You’re lucky you’re sweet, otherwise I’d smack you. I’m gonna go get some breakfast.”
After we both ate, we shared a bath and it felt real good to have someone scrub my back. I tried my best to scrub his but sometimes the sponge slipped through. “How does this even work?” I asked after it happened. “You’re fine and solid most the time.”
“I dunno,” he mumbled and stuck his arm through the side of the tub. “I have no clue how this works. I can go through walls and stuff, but at the same time I can carry you and hold things.” He shrugged. “I really don’t know.”
After the bath I took care of the horses and then Henri and I had a bit more fun since this was our honeymoon and all. Afterwards we snuggled up in bed, starin’ at each other and smiling. I felt better than I had in ages. Having Henri in my life again… it was the best thing ever. I was really looking forward to spending the rest of my days as his wife. No matter what it meant, bein’ married to a ghost. I knew it would be difficult. We couldn’t exactly go on out-and-about types of dates anymore and I couldn’t take him with me to any shows. What did I say if someone asked me about my husband? That he was deceased? Or what? I could never introduce him to anyone, really. I doubted many people would take too kindly to a ghost. I was lucky that my family was…. well, weird.
Whatever life was like as the wife of a ghost, I was lookin’ forward to it.