He made sure that his second wedding was a grander affair than the first. "How the world comes around," he had thought, watching the tears in the young girl's eyes. It wasn't her fault, but that did nothing to stop his anger. The least he deserved was his anger.
"An ingenious plot," they had lauded him, "A rich orphan, not yet 18, ripe for the plundering. How had he ever thought of it?" They had marveled at his creativity, and he'd done his best impression of an unperturbed man.
It wasn't her fault, no. But her dear parents, so dead and noble, had damned her on that front. At least he didn't lie, he thought, at least he didn't pretend to love her.
He still wondered if all of it had been pretend. It certainly hadn't tasted so. It couldn't have all been misery, no. People warn you not to marry young, but when you're too young to marry, you're also too young to care. And when you're too young to care, you're also too young to manage your own financial accounts. It was painfully clever, he had to give them that. Clever enough to work the second time around, evidently.
Did it make him stupid to not want to believe it had been her plan? He wanted to think that greedy fingers had just seized upon opportunity, but she was just clever enough that he couldn't be sure.
He watched as the girl's lithe fingers tightened around the bouquet that had been thrust into her hands. He wanted to hurt her, wanted to see the pain and fear he was owed, even if it was a generation too late. She looked so much like her mother, too pale and beautiful to be of any use. Of course, he was only gaining half of what he used to have, but there was time enough for that. There would be plenty of time.
He didn't take well to being split like an unloved Solomon's baby. Sure, there was enough to share, but it felt unnecessary at the very least. He should have trusted his gut, should have stayed away, but it was too late for all of that now.
She had even had the gall to begrudge him his misery, his solitude, his mourning; perhaps that was the worst of it. She had necessitated the mourning, true, but she had begrudged him it as well. "Did he miss them?" she had asked once upon a time, all innocence, as if she was disparate, untouched by the blood spilling around him. He had never been able to understand how she had been able to speak to him with such nonchalance, knowing what she had done, but he had come to revere it.
So what better place for it all to close than a theater? He was a poet after all, he mused, or at least had sense of irony enough to become one. He still loved the theater despite it all, still loved fire and sorrow and the wonderful way the world could wince under his touch.
His young bride shrank away as he grabbed her hand. She was younger than he had been, softer too, still unused to life's capacity for cruelty. He was saving her in other ways, though. She would only have to mourn, wouldn't have to learn to love before she learned to hate. She would take to hating easily enough, he could tell. He would be all the horror she needed; he would take everything, would watch it burn. She came from a legacy of destruction; it was her heritage.
She was pretty with her doll-like tears caught in her eyelashes. He wasn't planning to hurt her, but she didn't know that, of course. He has no reason to hurt her; he already had everything he needed from her, anything else would be superfluous. She did look so much like her mother though.
Her hand was so small, her fingers trembling as he slipped the ring on, reclaiming what was his. And yet, when he met her eyes, there was no weakness, none of the fear that betrayed itself in her shaking hands. She hated him already, he noted, pleased. Smart girl. She would learn quickly. She may even be a bit of fun in the end; fury was endlessly entertaining. She didn't let the tears spill over onto her cheeks, reddened with emotion. Good. He hated crying, hated the awkward weakness of it.
And then he was taking her arm, her small frame lost beneath the bundle of fabric, making her a hideous flower, a chrysanthemum of cheap lace.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen," he stepped forward to address the audience, "I have an announcement. There is no reason to continue tonight's performance…"