[dih-stil-er] (noun). 1. a person or company whose business it is to extract alcoholic liquors by distillation.

In one of the literature classes that she had taken when she was younger, their class had all been randomly assigned different contemporary, non-fiction authors to follow, analyze, and debate the merits of their claims and assertions as they related to modern society.

In one of the books that her assigned author wrote, there was a passage that said: "There is no limit to suffering human beings have been willing to inflict on others, no matter how innocent, no matter how young, and no matter how old. This fact must lead all reasonable human beings, that is, all human beings who take evidence seriously, to draw only one possible conclusion: Human nature is not basically good."

At the time, she had vehemently opposed this assertion. She had written pages to prove the contrary, filled with a youthful determination and hope. She had ardently defended human nature as if she was defending the last strands of childhood innocence.

She had believed that humans are fundamentally good.

Now, she wasn't sure what she believed.

It was the bagpipes.

She had heard them earlier when she had been downstairs in the church.

The drones had hummed on and the sharp notes of Amazing Grace had cut through the stones so that she could clearly hear the music. So many hated the instrument and could not stand the high pitch noise they produced. It made their skin crawl. It was an instrument of war.

The bumps on her arms moved for a different reason.

She had grown up around the music. It had been a happy home with the sounds of the instrument often echoing through the halls and doorways, mixing with the smell of whatever had been cooking in the oven for dinner.

It had been a long time since she had heard the drones.

"Are ye ready then?" the elder woman next to her asked, breaking her out of her reprieve.

She noticed that the pipes had been replaced by the gentle strands of a piano.

At her nod, the woman knocked once on the door and then the ushers on the other side opened the two wooden doors in front of her. The pipes once again began to sound and the church full of strangers stood up in their seats.

She swallowed.

And then took a step forward.

Followed by another.

The gazes on her felt all different. Some looked at her with curiosity, some with suspicion, others with wariness, others with an unguarded happiness which she did not entirely understand. Her shoulders straightened under the weight of their stares as she walked forward.

The song.

She recognized it.

It had been one of her favorites when she was a girl. The way the music swelled and seemed to swirl promised greatness and joy. She had felt as if it would lift her up to God himself.

She could not remember the name of the piece.

As she walked toward the front of the church, she tried to visualize the back of the worn record that had sat on their living room table.

It had been Track #5.

She felt her brows furrow as she tried to remember what the words had been. It seemed so disappointingly silly to her that she should not remember the song that she had loved in her childhood. A song she had heard dozens and dozens of times.

But that had been a long time ago.

It was a small church and her walk down the aisle did not drag on endlessly.

Small mercies, she supposed.

As she attempted to remember the two words that made up the title to the song, she registered the man in front of her.

Her groom.

It was the first time she had gotten a proper chance to look at him. For a second, she halted her procession before quickly regaining her step.

The dark red and green hues of his tartan looked impossibly mighty as his kilt. She could see the colors on a sash pinned on his broad shoulders by an antique broch. His suit jacket fit him well as he stood with straight posture. She noticed that he was staring at her as intently as she had examined him.

Highland something, she suddenly thought.

That was the song. It was Highland…and then a second word she couldn't remember.

As soon as the thought entered her mind, the song and piano slowed down and faded away. She had reached the end of her walk, she realized with blank surprise.

He nodded at her as she stopped walking. She blew a shallow breath out of her lips and nodded back.

"Mercy, grace, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all."


Highland Sound? Highland Praise? Highland…?

As he spoke and welcomed them and the congregation to the ceremony, she continued to fixate on the song that had just been playing. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the bagpiper, resting his instrument against his chest. She stared at it, willing the title to jump into her mind as the echoes of the cords seemed to.

Her groom didn't seem to be dealing with such internal conflict. He was staring intently at the minister as he spoke about God's love and forgiveness manifested into marriage. It was all well enough that she was not listening, she had never been the best at keeping herself from scoffing when something she found blatantly untrue was said to her.

Highland Games? No of course not. Highland Choir? No.

And then they were facing each other, her hands having been slipped into his without her even fully being aware of it.

"I, Edward Anthony Godfrey Cullen MacDonald-"

"I, Edward Anthony Godfrey Cullen MacDonald-"

Her eyes widened at hearing how many names he had. Edward….something, something, something, MacDonald. What was the something, something, or other something?

"Take ye, Isabella Morag Swan, to be my wife."

Why did his eyes crinkle at her middle name?

"To have and to hold from this day forward…"

Shit what had the names been?

"In the presence of God, I make this vow."

She swallowed.


Time to play her part.

Apparently, that included remembering each one of her new husband's names. She had not been anticipating that he would has so many.

"I, Isabella Morag Swan…" the minister prompted.

She swallowed again.

"I, Isabella Morag Swan," she repeated obediently, the words slowly forcing themselves from her lips.

"Take ye, Edward Anthony Godfrey Cullen MacDonald, to be my husband."

"Take you, Edward Anthony…"

He met her eyes and with the slightest movement of his lips, he mouthed her the proper names.

"…Godfrey…Cullen MacDonald, to be my husband."

She repeated the rest of the vows without mistake

"In the presence of God, I make this vow."

As the ceremony proceeded and thunderous applause rang after they each had exchanged rings and been pronounced husband and wife, she wondered how either God or the law regarded two people who didn't know the first thing about each other entering into a farce of a marriage.