So this chapter took forever to post and I AM SOOOO SORRY (seriously I am, it was killing me, I live for those reviews :)) Since this is the last chapter in Part I, I wanted it to be PERFECT so I was very nit picky about every little detail. Tipper and Kate were there for me once again and I thank them both. Your reviews were as wonderful as always and I hope that you guys enjoy this chapter.
Part II will be started within the week (at least I hope) and lastly the end of this chapter is well...ahem...a little BAD, again nothing that deserves an 'M' rating, but I just wanted to warn you ahead of time.
Happy reading and as always R/R (like I said, I live for reviews lol)
May 16, 1912
I let out a long exhale as I looked at myself in the mirror, amazed at the reflection that stared back at me. A strong and sturdy man stood before me, sure of himself and his position. His demeanor was confident, right down to the steadiness of his hands as he adjusted the gray tie that fell down his chest. It, however, was a far cry from what was happening on the inside.
I was nervous, I don't know why, I don't how, I just was. That alone was enough to confuse me, but the way it had hit me so suddenly was another mystery entirely. Lying in bed last night the thought hit me that exactly twenty-four hours from that moment, Sarah would be with me. That was when it started, just seconds after the thought had finished in my head the apprehension slammed into me like a locomotive.
She was going to be my wife and I was going to be her husband; the person who is supposed to take care of her, put a roof over her head, food on the table. I had never taken care of anyone before; I'd never even had a pet. It had always been me; free and independent from everyone else, but not anymore. I had eluded heavy responsibility for most of my life and now suddenly I had wife…and then another thought came to me…and a child. If it was at all possible, I began to feel even more apprehension after that.
Usually a man has time to adjust to things like this; first, he meets the woman, they court, they become engaged, they marry. That was at least two years right there, then maybe a year or so after marriage the children would come. That certainly wasn't the way that things were happening for me, instead of two years, I had two hours to prepare for my wedding, and instead of a year of marriage before children, it would be somewhere along the line of eight to nine months.
Then a much more frightening thought came to me…my family. In particular, my parents. It was safe to assume that they would be shocked by the fact that I managed to find a girl, marry her, and put in a family way, all within a little over a month. My mother would point out that she did not raise me to be just another hooligan, and then my father would agree and persist with a compilation of every bad decision that I had ever made in my life. They loved me, but they weren't above showing their disappointment in something when the time was right.
Then there was there was old reliable. Something I could always count on to be there to torment me…Rose. Starting my marriage off with a lie, it couldn't get much worse than that. Sarah would hate me if she ever found out that I had lied to her about that. All I could do was pray that she didn't and so far it had worked…so far….
So it was due to these thoughts, along with many others, that I was kept awake all night, unable to sleep and even now, within just hours of the time Sarah's aunt had told me to meet them in chapel, I was still struggling with all of it.
I undid my tie and then redid it again, then straightened the waistcoat of the gray pin striped suit that I was wearing. The jacket was flung over a nearby chair, but I had decided not to put it on until I was ready to leave.
A knock on the door pulled me away from the mirror that I had been standing in front of and, thankful for the interruption, I went to over and opened it.
"There's the blushing groom!" Lights replied when he saw me.
I shook my head, not in the mood for jokes and pushed the door open for him. I went back over the mirror and began to tug at the tie again, which was now starting to feel constricting.
Lights stepped into the room and shut the door behind him, looking at me raised eyebrows,
"Nervous?" he asked, stating the obvious.
"Do you really have to ask?" I asked, turning to him.
He laughed, "I suppose I don't." he sat down on the chair that my jacket was on.
"You know Harry, there's nothing wrong with being nervous, especially when you're in the position that you are. You had quite a night last night."
I nodded, that I had.
He scratched his chin thoughtfully looking as though he was making a big decision in his mind. I turned and leaned up against my dresser, crossing my arms over my chest,
He took a deep breath, "I should have said something, but I didn't, simply because I didn't know if it was true or not."
"What?" I asked again.
He clicked his tongue quietly against the top of his mouth and paused, "I suspected that Sarah was…um with child…when I saw her last week."
"What? Why didn't you say anything?" I asked, my shock noticeable.
"I had no way of knowing for sure and I didn't think it would be fair to you if I told you that she was, when she really wasn't."
"You could have at least informed of your suspicions."
He nodded, "You're right, I should have, but frankly I think the mess you two had gotten yourselves into was large enough without adding another problem onto it." he rose from his seat, "It's not like it would have made a bit of difference anyway. You two found one another and you're getting married, what more could you want?"
I scoffed, "My sanity." I muttered.
He heard me loud and clear though and laughed, "That, my boy, is not something you're going to find in marriage."
I laughed too, unable to keep a straight face after a comment like that.
After we calmed down he came over and put his hand on my shoulder, "In all honesty, you have got nothing to worry yourself about. Sarah is a fine young lady; she has a good head on her shoulders, and she clearly cares about you."
"That's not what I'm worried about." I replied, shaking my head.
"Then what is it? You're not worried about the wedding night are you?" he quipped with a grin.
"No." I replied, hiding my amusement.
"Because if that is the issue, I'll give you the birds and the bee's discussion. Granted I'm not very well rehearsed, but I'll give it my best shot-"
"No, that's all right…really." I said, speaking up before he started to divulge in information I would rather not hear from him.
He smiled, "All right, I guess I'll just have to keep it on the backburner until my sons are old enough.
"I don't know what I'm doing, Lights. Last night I was so sure of everything…now…now I'm wondering if I'm doing the right thing." I shook my head, "I've got nothing to offer her."
"Now that isn't true. You have a job, incidentally a very good job. You're sensible and mature and there's no reason at all that you should be thinking otherwise."
"I can't give her the life that she's used to." I replied, realizing the fact only as I was saying it.
"If things like that were important to her, you would know it. She's fought just as hard to be with you as you have to be with her and I highly doubt that something as mediocre as how much money you had or didn't have would pull her away."
I heard what he said and it made sense to me, but there was still so much more, so many other questions I needed answers for that they couldn't help but spill out of me,
"And what about our families? What will hers think when they find out she married me? And what will mine think when they find out why we had to marry like this and-"
"Harry, when did you start caring about what others thought?" he asked in a simple, plain tone that made me stop with my questions and ponder the answer.
He was right, usually this kind of thing just slid off my back. I didn't give a damn what others thought and there was no point in my starting to now. There were really only two people that mattered right now and two people only…Sarah and our child.
Lights could see the revelation in my face and smiled, patting me on the back, "There see, all you needed was a little push in the right direction. In time everything will work itself out."
I nodded, "Yes, you're right."
"Of course I am, now is there anything else?"
I thought about telling him about Rose, but decided against it. I didn't need to make the situation even more complicated than it did all ready was. I shook my head,
"No…" then quickly I added, "Thank you."
Accepting my gratitude, he smiled, "Don't mention it. I'll leave you to get ready now." He said and started for the door.
"Wait." I said, stopping him.
He turned around, "What?"
"Will…will you be my best man?"
He smiled, "Well I was planning on it anyway, but since you asked…of course. What time should I meet you down there?"
"Noon." I told him.
"Ship's chapel, right?"
"I'll be there."
The sun filtered through the small porthole of my stateroom bringing in a brightness I very much needed to see right now. I sighed as I neared it to look out over the bluish gray waters of the Atlantic on this, my wedding day. I absentmindedly took the pendent from my necklace into my fingers and moved it back and forth across the chain as I my mind began to swim with thoughts.
This really was my wedding day….MY wedding day…the day I had always dreamed of. Only this wasn't exactly the way I had pictured this day to be. I was marrying the man that I loved, and there was no doubt in my mind that I did love Harry, what I struggled with was the thought of how skewed the natural order of things had become for us. Love was supposed to come first, then a proposal, then an engagement followed by marriage and then children. Somewhere towards the end of that plan we had gotten lost, for I was pregnant now, and had been for several weeks, before marriage was anymore than an aspiration we both shared.
My body seemed to have no intention of letting me forget that fact either. All together I had been sick five different times that morning and coincidentally it had started immediately after Aunt Isabel had come in earlier to give me her lecture.
I had tried to her ignore her, really I had. I positively knew that what she had said about Harry wasn't true, but her words about my selfishness and hints at my lack of maturity disturbed me. It brought back flashes of that afternoon at the Waldorf and Harry's disappointed face when my immaturity had shone its ugly side. I felt as if I let Harry down then and according to Aunt Isabel, it was inevitable that it would happen again.
A knock on the door pulled me away from my window where I had become so honest with myself and brought Anya into the room. I assumed Aunt Isabel had sent her, after all the time of the ceremony was only an hour away and coming upon me very quickly. I followed Anya's silent order as she ushered me into the stool of my vanity and proceeded to brush out my hair, rather roughly I might add, and swoop it up into an elegant ribbon band that matched the dress I had chosen to wear that day. She then plucked a few strands of hair out and curled them, letting them fall gracefully down and reminding me of the way I had worn my hair the last night on Titanic.
After my hair was done Anya helped me dress in the rose-colored gown that I had chosen to wear that day. It was made of silk, with the inset and sleeve trim done in beautiful ivory lace. Under the split overskirt, which stopped just under my knee, the longer ivory satin underskirt shown, trimmed in an embroidered floral design. I watched in the mirror as Anya wrapped a bright pink sash around me, just under my breast, completing the outfit while at the same time dashing away any apprehension that I had about what I was wearing. I could not help but be vain and think that I looked quite pretty all dressed up the way I was. Still, lovely as it was, it was no wedding dress. Still, even if it was not a white dress and I wore no veil, there was sparkle in my eye that labeled me a bride, and I decided that was more than enough for me.
After I had been topped off with a string of pearls and matching earrings dangling from my lobes, I slipped a drawstring handbag onto my wrist, took a breath, and with all my bravery, opened my bedroom door and went into the sitting room.
Both Aunt Isabel and Uncle Serge were waiting for me. Aunt Isabel, wearing a garish green suit trimmed in black fur was holding Mishka in her arms and eyed me scrupulously when I entered;
"Well, you look lovely, not that you deserve to, but at least you aren't wearing white," she turned to Uncle Serge and leaned over, "Though I wouldn't be surprised if she did." She said in low whisper, but made sure it was loud enough for me to hear.
"Sarah," she said turning back to me, "I hope our conversation earlier opened your eyes to what is happening today."
"Yea ma'am, it has." Answering with the truth, but indulging it slightly to make her feel more superior.
She nodded, "Good, because this is not some flippant decision that I have made for your happiness. I did it for your soul, both yours and Mr. Lowe's, but most of all I did this for your child. Though I am only distantly related to it, I feel that I must do my best to spare it from any harsh words that the world may utter about such a child conceived out of wedlock.
"You need to right the wrong that you have done and this is only the first step. It will be your responsibility to make sure that this child, who is a product of a sin, grows up to be a mature and religious per-"
"Isabel, I think that's enough." Uncle Serge interrupted, to my great relief.
Aunt Isabel whirled on him, "I just want the best for her child."
"I think Sarah will manage, now let's go, we're going to be late." He said, his voice stiff and agitated.
Aunt Isabel looked back at me and reluctantly nodded, "Yes, it is time…." She motioned to one of the maids who was standing nearby and handed Mishka to her. She then turned to Uncle Serge and then to me,
"Let's be off then."
Aunt Isabel, being the one to take the charge in any situation, led Uncle Serge and I to the chapel, which was located just off the first class dining room. The windows that we followed along the corridor showed me that the peaceful sky I had seen earlier was now brighter and more blue than before, and it renewed my confidence in what I was doing.
When we arrived in the chapel area, Uncle Serge opened the door for Aunt Isabel and I used the opportunity of having me alone for a split second to say,
"I do wonder if Mr. Lowe has decided to grace us with his presence."
I glared at her and started to fire back, when something else did it for me; Harry himself who was sitting in the front row of chairs next to Mr. Lightoller. I smiled to myself and threw a look to Aunt Isabel, who looked positively shocked to see him there.
The door closing alerted Harry to our presence and he stood up, turning around to meet us as we walked towards him. He looked very handsome, dressed in a gray suit and his hair neatly combed. He smiled at me our gazes locked for a moment before Aunt Isabel cut in front of me,
"So you've decided to the responsible thing after all?"she asked him.
"Of course I have, your Imperial Highness, why else would I be here?" he quipped and then winked at me.
I smiled and thought I saw Uncle Serge nearly do the same, luckily Mr. Lightoller broke in and asked where the chaplain was before Aunt Isabel could give any of it a second thought.
"He said he may be a little late." Uncle Serge informed, but a little late was an understatement. It was a full half an hour later before he showed up, which allowed plenty of time for emotions and tensions to stir between the five of us.
It also gave me plenty of time to think about how much my life had changed over the course of a month. The external changes had happened swiftly and without warning, but I seemed to have gone unscathed by them, after all, I did not look any different, but internally my struggle was apparent. My mind was a mess of thoughts, feelings and apprehension. Because of the baby growing inside of me, I was listless, nauseous and even sore and on top of that, there were those pre-wedding jitters I had heard women speak for so many years. Together they all created an amalgam of feelings that did not compliment one another and I hoped that by getting married that some of them would fade away.
Never was I more relieved to see someone than when the chaplain made his entrance.
"This must be the wedding party." He announced upon seeing all of us.
Uncle Serge stood and offered his hand, "Yes, this is the bride, my niece, Sarah Wilkes," he said gesturing towards me after they had shook hands, "and this is the groom, Harold Lowe."
He shifted a pile of papers he carried from one hand to the next and shook hands with both Harry and myself,
"I have some papers that you both need to fill out." He said moving towards a nearby table and scattering the papers he carried on it. Both Harry and I took a pen, filled in the appropriate lines, and handed them back to the chaplain.
He twisted the lids back on them and smiled, "Now that that's over with, will you two follow me and we'll begin the ceremony."
Those words sent my heart beat racing and I looked over at Harry taking in a deep breath as I looked for reassurance in his eyes, which I found and smiled warmly back at him. It all happened rather quickly but before I knew it, Harry and I standing side by side in front of the chaplain, who now held and opened bible in his hand and began to speak.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…"
It was strange to think that words I had heard so many times over the years and thought very little of, could suddenly hold such significance. I listened intently to every word the chaplain said and repeated the vows of loving, honoring and obeying with the strongest parts of my heart and mind.
Then came time for the ring. I began to panic, knowing I did not have a ring to give Harry, nor did he have one to give me, but Harry's face was calm and from beside him Mr. Lightoller stepped up and placed a beautiful diamond ring on the chaplain's bible. I looked up at Harry, amazed that he could afford such a thing. It was only when he began to slip the ring on my finger did I realize how familiar it was and then it came to me. It was Grandmother Wilkes' ring, the same one my grandfather had given to her.
I wasn't given time to question him though and soon the ring was on my finger and I was hearing,
"By the power invested in me by the laws of the sea, I now pronounce you man and wife."
Man and wife…oh my, this was it. After all that we had been through, which had seemed so much only moments and now seemed so little, it now came down to this.
"You may now kiss the bride."
Harry, who I envied for being so calm throughout this whole ordeal, began to lean towards me with that handsome smile still resting on his lips. I said a quick prayer and took a deep breath before I let him capture my own lips within his and magically felt all of my worries wash away.
From this moment on and for the rest of my life, I was Harry's wife, Mrs. Harold Lowe…Sarah Lowe. My adolescent fantasy had come true, we were held together by a bond that could never be broken, not even in death.
Uncle Serge invited Harry and me to have lunch with him and Aunt Isabel after the ceremony. It was not the most comfortable meal I had ever had, but it wasn't the worst either, but I was thankful when it was finally over and Harry and I walked arm in arm back to his stateroom, which was now our stateroom.
Once we were inside and the door was shut, I could feel my body begin to tingle with apprehension. We were alone and it was no secret of what as expected of me now that we were married. Sure enough just as I had finished the thought, Harry moved to me swiftly and began kissing with such intensity that I had to push him away in order to catch my breath.
He was practically panting, "Do you know how long I've waited for this?" he asked, but didn't give me the chance to answer before he leaned in to kiss me again. I quickly moved out of the way, nearly causing him to press his lips against the wall.
"I uh…may I take a bath?" I asked.
His eyes narrowed in confusion, "A bath?"
I nodded, not quite ready for what he wanted yet, "It's just been such a long morning and…it would relax me."
"By all means…" he said backing up and gesturing towards the bathroom, but I couldn't help but see that he looked slightly put out.
Ignoring it, I smiled and thanked him before shutting myself up in the bathroom and falling back against the door; desperately seeking an answer for why I was acting this way. I should not be nervous, he was my husband and wasn't a stranger to me, and yet here I was, so nervous that I was shaking, making a simple task like removing my gloves difficult.
However, I did manage, and turned on the water for the bath. I let it fill and after checking the temperature, I undressed and stepped into the warm water, falling gracefully into a lounge position in the porcelain tub.
I laid there for a few moments, longer than I had intended to actually, relaxing and becoming caught up in the feel of the water around me and the damp air over me. It felt so good to inhale the humid air and let it set comfortably in my chest before I slowly exhaled. It was hypnotic and I felt myself slowly slip out of this world and into another.
A tap at my door brought me from my dream world and I sat up, sloshing water over the side. I grabbed the towel I had nearby and strategically placed it over my breasts. The door creaked open and then I saw Harry standing there smiling at me, seemingly amused at my attempts at modesty.
"Harry, I'm not ready for you to see me yet," I exclaimed. He leaned against the door facing me with his arms crossed. He stared at me for a moment and what I saw in his eyes made me forget that I was sitting nude in the bathtub with my hair all askew. What I saw was the love he had for me.
I sat there under the spell he had put on me, frozen in my place with the towel still covering me, watching as he moved from the doorway and slowly made his way towards me. He kneeled down next to the tub and gingerly removed the towel and dropped it on the floor next to him, still not taking his eyes off me.
I opened my mouth to speak to him, but he shushed me, shaking his head. I did as I was told and he leaned over and kissed me sweetly and softly on the cheek, and then moved down to my neck, collarbone and finally my shoulder,
"You're so beautiful." He whispered against my damp skin.
I began to turn towards him, but he stopped me and reached for the sponge that lay on the side of the tub, dipped it into the warm water and then began to slowly wash my back. I tensed up at first, feeling slightly shy because nothing like this had ever happened to me before, but then Harry surprised me by doing something that pushed all of my shyness out the window, he began to follow each of his sponge strokes with tiny fluttering kiss.
Kisses that caused my heart to beat faster and my stomach to flip and then tighten. It was such a nice feeling, one that I couldn't help but react to,
"Harry," my voice began in a hoarse whisper, "I love you."
Harry smiled and then he brought my face up to his and kissed me so intensely that I could feel the tremors of it down to my toes. We became so caught up in the kiss and the caresses that we were exchanging that we didn't even notice that Harry had practically come into the tub with me.
The feeling of his wet shirt between us broke us apart and He pulled back and looked down at it in dismay. For some odd reason it struck me as funny and before I could catch myself, I laughed. Harry looked up at me and cocked an dubious eyebrow at me,
"You think this is funny, do you?"
"Yes," I replied, attempting to smother another laugh, but it did not work and I soon broke out into laughter again, he quickly joined me.
"See what you do to me," he said as he pulled it back from his skin.
"I'm sure I don't know what you are talking about." I replied, hiding a smile.
A strange look came over his face that was a mixture of amusement and mischievousness and he peeled his shirt off before me and let it drop to the floor. I was struck at how handsome and masculine he was and found myself yearning for him to come back to me. Knowing how beautiful he was and that he was my husband and only mine, only increased my feelings to want him close enough to touch. Then he stood and removed his pants kicking them over next to his shirt and I thought I would die with pleasure as my heart beat faster and Harry climbed into the tub with me and pulled me close to him, my back pressing against his chest.
His arms slid somewhat seductively around my waist and rested on my still flat middle. He then began to kiss the shoulder that he had neglected earlier, make a trail of kisses from it, all the way up my neck and then to my ear where he whispered,
"Now this is what I call taking a bath."
I smiled and leaned back against Harry, resting my head on his shoulder enjoying the feeling of being in my husbands arms,
"Harry, tell me this isn't a dream. It is real isn't it?"
"Do you want me to pinch you?" he asked, nuzzling my neck to where it tickled. I smiled, but brought my seriousness back rather quickly,
"I'm serious, Harry," I turned to him, looking him directly in the eyes, "Tell me this is real and not just another dream. It wasn't that long ago that I was so lost and convinced that I was never going to see you again and now I'm here…with you. It just seems too good to be true and I need reassurance. I want to know this will never end…ever."
The playfulness disappeared from Harry's eyes and with all the seriousness in him he replied, "It won't, Sarah. I promise." He pressed his palm into my stomach, indicating the child inside of me that we had created, "There is nothing that could pull me away from you. We're a part of one another now."
I smiled; satisfied with the answer that he had given me, "For better or worse, right?" I asked no longer the naïve child I had been when we had first met, but a married woman who wanted nothing more than to have her husband close to her. With that in mind, I brought my hands up to his chest daring myself to show him how close I wanted him.
"Right." He answered, watching my hands roam over his upper body.
"Then prove it." I told him, boldly.
He did not seem shocked at all by my sudden assertiveness, but instead seized my wrist and pulled me towards him, "Gladly." He whispered gruffly in my ear before he began to passionately kiss me.
There in the confines of that small tub, Harry took me to a place I had never been. He made my body sing with each touch and caress he gave me and I in return gave him back what I received. It was magical, it was passionate, and I know a woman never felt more alive or loved than I did at that moment when we came together. When it was over, Harry lifted me from the tub and dried every part of my body of my body before carrying me back into the bedroom and laying me gently down on the bed.
I kept him there, hovering over me, so I could run my fingers through his damp hair and look deep into his eyes for just a few moments longer. I told him again how much I loved him and he smiled that smile that warmed my heart and pulled me into another kiss.
That night, as Harry lay next to me, sleepy soundly into his pillow, I found I was free of all of the agonizing and nagging thoughts that had been with me for so long. I was finally at peace, finally able to have a clear thought and all though there were still many, there were all of Harry.
"I love you." I whispered into the darkness and then with my hand resting on my middle and my head nestled in the crook of Harry's arms, I fell asleep dreaming of him, of us, of our child, and the life we would all have together.