Chapter 15

Meridion flowed in and out of the well wishing and celebrating crowds as if in a trance, giving the necessary replies and thank-you's in an automatic fashion. Slowly, he found himself winding his way to where the Nain were gathered having their own celebration.

Passing Faedryth, he returned the salute that the leader gave him and moved on further into the Nain congregation. Finally, he came up to a high ranking official whom he had been introduced to the night before.

"Hello again sir, I thought that it would be nice to talk with you once again," he said.

"Yes, we had a very… interesting conversation last night, did we not?" the Nain replied

Meridion nodded.

"Here, your highness, why don't we go to my tent, that we may have a more private place to discuss things."

"Lead on."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"I suppose that you're not going to want a public wedding, are you?" Rhapsody asked Achmed later that night.

Achmed looked over at her, his glace spoke all she needed to know.

"That's alright with me, I'm all for a private marriage. But the Cymrian's are also looking for a party and might feel slighted if we deny them of one."

"To hell with the Cymrian's. Those arse rags get their way too often and don't hardly deserve half the things that come their way."

Rhapsody smiled and nodded. She knew that he would feel that way, and his firm position made it somewhat easier for her to follow in step. Truly, she didn't like the idea of another public wedding. Rhapsody didn't even want the last one that she had. But, being that they were both the rulers of a nation, it was a rather important ceremony for the people. This union now was more for her than the people and Achmed certainly was not going to be any part of the Cymrian's, so they didn't need to witness their union.

"I'm glad you feel that way. We shall have a private ceremony and I will tell the Cymrians so tomorrow as the moot wraps up. When would you like to perform the ceremony?"

Looking up at her like she was crazy for asking he said, "Why not tonight? If we are not waiting for any real ceremony…"

Rhapsody smiled, she figured this was what he wanted, but she wanted to hear it from him. "You're right. Tonight it will be."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Late that night, two complementing souls stood before an alter of pure fire that sprang from the depths of the earth. Utter peace and a feeling of fulfillment consumed the surrounding atmosphere. It was a picture of perfection and grace; opposite sides of the same coin finally being joined together.

Rhapsody stood, clothed in a deep violet gown that gently reflected the light from the whirling crown of diamonds of the Lirin. The gems sparkled with their own starlight, captured within the crystals. As they reached for each other's hands as Rhapsody began the chant of bonding, the starlit gems drifted from their path around her head to encircle their joined hands. The light became stronger and more intense as the diamonds spun faster and faster, shinning their light upon the clasped hands of the two monarchs.

Dimly, the alive, pulsing, rosy hue of the blood within their hands could be seen through the skin as the light became more intense. It felt as if they were becoming fused together as the Rhapsody continued her song, blending and mixing their names into one.

All elements of the Earth were present - fire from the well, starlight from the diamonds, earth surrounded them with the earth child sleeping nearby, water from their unchecked tears of joy, wind within both of their souls, with the life blood pulsing through their veins.

When the ceremony was complete, the two stood breathless in front of each other, hardly able to comprehend what had just happened; too afraid to speak for fear of shattering their moment. Finally, they moved in tandem into one another's arms and clung to each other for what felt like an eternity and yet only an instant.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"I must admit Rhapsody, I have never felt so complete and whole as I do at this moment," Achmed confided to his new wife as they sat together on the stone bench beside the sleeping child.

A light of love and awe spilled through her eyes as she looked back upon the face of her new husband. Everything finally felt like it had fallen into place for them and it felt so right, so complete, that she wondered how she could have missed this for so long. "I feel the same, Achmed. How could I ever have overlooked the connection that we have to one another all of these years?"

"Because you had another to love. Now you are free to see all that is available to you and the blinders have been lifted from your eyes."

"Oh Achmed, I am so sorry that I had been so blind. And I am sorry, but I must admit that, as complete and in love as I am now, I still feel a hollow place where Ashe once was. I don't know if I'll ever fully ease the pain of losing him," she said with a sigh.

Achmed bowed his head for a moment as he thought how best to respond. Finally he looked back into her eyes once again, "I know. And I would never expect to be able to fill that place that he left inside your soul. Ashe held a part of you that I can never touch, as much as I might wish I could. The two of you were soul mates and that is no trifle thing. We are only soul matches, complements and fit together perfectly. We can never be one of soul because we are opposites in too many ways."

"Yes, I see what you mean, but I would not use the word 'only' when describing us. A soul match is many ways more wonderful than a soul mate. We are not automatically connected with each other. We have something to work at and to help grow. This in many ways can be considered a greater gift than to have your soul mate handed to you. We have choice, and choice is what determines the course of life and time."

He watched her for a moment longer, taking in all of her words. A latch deep inside seemed to lift, ever so slightly as what she was telling him rang true. It was much like the locks that Gwylliam had left about the mountain that were tuned to certain musical vibrations. She was right, they were able to choose to be together and that made it that much more special.

"Rhapsody… I have a gift for you," he said, finally making a decision.

"A gift? What for?"

"It was originally going to be a birthday present for you, after all tomorrow is your birthday. But now it seems that it would be best as a wedding gift."

"Oh, well please; you know how much I love gifts."

Slowly Achmed rose from the bench and stood in front of her, still holding onto one of her hands. He stood there for a moment looking very uncomfortable, trying to collect his nerve. This was something he hated to do but knew it was the most that he could ever give to the singer.

Finally, after clearing his throat several times he began to sing a song that Rhapsody had never heard from him before. Unlike the first one that he ever sang for her, this one suited his voice. He still had the rasping fricative sound to his voice, but the melody and sound of this new song felt right and sat well in his range, a haunting baritone and seemed to echo from the walls of the cave itself.

You ask me if I love you

And I choke on my reply

I'd rather hurt you honestly

Than mislead you with a lie

And who am I to judge you

On what you say or do?

I'm only just beginning to see the real you

And sometimes when we touch

The honesty's too much

And I have to close my eyes and hide

I want to hold you till I die

Till we both break down and cry

I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides

Romance and all its strategy

Leaves me battling with my pride

But through the insecurity

Some tenderness survives

I'm just another writer

Still trapped within my truth

A hesitant prize fighter

Still trapped within my youth

And sometimes when we touch

The honesty's too much

And I have to close my eyes and hide

I want to hold you till I die

Till we both break down and cry

I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides

At times I'd like to break you

And drive you to your knees

At times I'd like to break through

And hold you endlessly

At times I understand you

And I know how hard you've tried

I've watched while love commands you

And I've watched love pass you by

At times I think we're drifters

Still searching for a friend

A brother or a sister

But then the passion flares again

And sometimes when we touch

The honesty's too much

And I have to close my eyes and hide

I want to hold you till I die

Till we both break down and cry

I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides.

As he brought the song to an end silence settled within their hall. Achmed stood in front of his wife, seeing tears of joy and love pouring from the emerald jewels of her eyes. There was no room for anymore words. Everything that they felt for each other had been communicated up to one finale point. There was now only one last thing that could be said between them.

After waiting a moment longer, Achmed bent down and lifted Rhapsody from the bench and easily carried her up the tunnel of the Loritorium to their now shared chambers.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Awakening upon the following morning, Rhapsody smiled at the still sleeping form of her new husband beside her. She had finally managed to wake up before him, but after last night, he must still be exhausted. A larger grin spread over her face as she relived the night's exploits.

Quietly, she rose from the bed to make both of them a breakfast, but unfortunately, Achmed was still a light sleeper and awoke as soon as she moved from his side. "Good morning," she smiled down at him as he opened his eyes. "I thought I could make us some breakfast before we begin this final long day ahead of us."

The king allowed a smile to pull at his lips as he answered, "That would be nice."

Rhapsody rose from the bed and began to dress as Achmed watched her, the smile slightly fading. As she was fastening her last button with her back still to him, he called out quietly, "Rhapsody?"

"Yes?" she answered, turning around and seeing for the first time the almost pensive frown the he now wore.

He stared at her for a moment, wondering what it was that he had wanted to say. "Rhapsody," he repeated, "this is real, isn't it? Last night, it wasn't a dream?"

Rhapsody allowed her retreating smile to return as she gently crossed to his side and knelt on the floor, taking his hand in hers. Softly, she brought his hand to her lips and kissed it before answering, "Oh yes! It was all real. You and I are finally bound together forever, as it should be."

Relaxing and allowing his happiness to take over once again, Achmed nodded and bent down to kiss her on the forehead. Then, using a gentle firm hand, he raised her chin slightly to kiss her deeply on the lips, bring a rush of feeling and emotions from the previous night to return. Rhapsody answered in like and before she knew what had happened she found her clothes on the floor once again and herself wrapped in his arms on the bed.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Several hours later, Rhapsody found herself finally in front of the entire Cymrian gathering with Achmed by her side. When she announced that she and the King of the Firbolg were now married, a huge roar of approval rose up from the masses and resounded through the mountains proclaiming their union. Everything was as it should be; Meridion officially took his place as the new Lord beside his mother and the new order was established. It was now official, the Lady did not have to be married to the Lord and she or the Lord could enter a union with whomever they pleased as long as it caused no interference with their duties.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

As the moot began to break up and the different the peoples left to return to their different homes, an odd pair met in a shadowy niche.

"This changes everything, brother" the one said to the other.

"Yes, but we may still well accomplish what we set out to do. I… acquired a new ally that can swing this back in our favor. But the plans have now changed. You must send the sister to me as soon as you return."

"You are going to take the Lady?"

"No, she will come to me after she leaves you. All is settled. You will do nothing to her when she is within your reach. Send her on her way and leave the rest to me."

"As you wish, brother."

"Do not worry, all shall soon fall into place and then we shall rule all of the nations and I believe that this new plan will make taking the mountain even easier."

And with two equally evil grins, the pair parted, each returning to their own groups.

A/N the song is, as some may recognize, is Sometimes When We Touch, by Dan Hill. Now, I heard this song when I was writing Promise and I knew that it would be a perfect Achmed song. Of course, when I hear him singing it, it is nothing like the actual song, only the lyrics really fit well. Sometime, if my compositional skills are ever good enough, I may include a midi file of what I think this song should sound like.

p.s thank you all for your wonderful comments and reviews. It really inspires me to write more. And if anyone out there thinks I skimped on some part somewhere, it's probably because I wasn't sure what to put and I am open to anyone's suggestions to include.

p.p.s. There will be one more story in the group, I'm working on it as fast as I can, but I have school, work, and a beta who wants me to finish other Fanfics first. So please be patient