PEARLS FOR TEARS

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters since Princess Diaries 1 & 2, and its characters are the property of Disney, Buena Vista, and Meg Cabot. I make no money from this work of fiction.

According to some country's customs, it means bad luck for the marriage if the bride wears pearls on her wedding day... So, since Clarisse had pearls in her necklace on her wedding day, are people in Genovia superstitious...and how do they deal with that? (Stoneygem's challenge to write a story around this ...)

"I ... I can't get this clasp undone, Joseph," Clarisse fumbled with her necklace, unused to taking off her own jewellery. However, her ladies' maids had been dismissed this evening ... the night of her wedding to Joseph. Running through her mind were Lady Fricker's murmured comments to a few of the other ladies at the reception this evening. First of all, Clarisse's dress was green, and 'everyone' knew the old saying, "Married in green, ashamed to be seen." A green dress implied promiscuity, after all, the idea that the dress was stained from rolling in grassy fields. Secondly, Clarisse's necklace had pearls in it. Countess Puck had repeated the superstition that pearls were unlucky for brides, since they forecast danger, sickness, and death when the lustre of the pearls fade. Finally, Countess Puck had snickered while remarking that pearls supposedly could be used in love potions, and she had to wonder if Queen Clarisse had been dabbling in the dark arts when it came to dredging up a husband such as Joseph.

"Shall I help you, my dear?" Joseph was beside her in an instant.

Clarisse turned away so he could reach the clasp, and blurted out, "Countess Puck told me I had horrified her and countless others who knew that brides should NEVER wear pearls to their wedding because they are unlucky, and they bring tears to the marriage."

Joseph's fingers stilled on her neck, then he turned her to face him, looking at her gravely and intently. She could see the love shining in his eyes. "You shouldn't let irritating little problems and irritating little people get under your skin and drive you crazy, Clarisse! They aren't worth it. What does Lady Fricker know? First of all, a pearl is the "queen" of gems, therefore fitting for you, my darling. It is the symbol of something pure and fair to look upon. It represents modesty and purity. During the Crusades, knights gave pearls to their brides on their wedding day because historically a pearl ensured marital bliss and was considered the "wedding gem.". Pearls are emblems of good luck, virtue, wisdom, spirituality, and justice." Joseph smiled at her. "Secondly, pearls have a soft lustre, a glow about them, as YOU do. They have a depth to them, unlike the harsh glitter of diamonds. There is a luminescence in pearls matched only by the luminescence of your spirit. Pearls, by their very nature, have overcome adversity, and made themselves into a thing of beauty. Like you, my darling." Tears were beginning to form in Clarisse's eyes, but she couldn't tear her gaze away even had she wanted to. "And pearls may well represent tears, but those tears can be of joy as well as of sorrow ... Shades told me Charlotte had tears in her eyes watching our wedding."

"I know. Many women did at our wedding. Even I did. Oh, Joseph, I ..." her voice failed her.

"From now on, let us think of these pearls as tangible evidence of our love, the kisses we could not share for so long, kisses which can be worn around your lovely neck." Joseph drew her closer and kissed her, leaving the necklace on.

She invited and he engulfed her. He took and she gave, lavishly. All in the space of that kiss and the coming together of their clothed bodies. He conceded his mind to her, along with his heart and his soul. He admitted in that ever-deepening kiss, in its undertow, his arrogance and conceit. He treasured her compassion. He cherished her spirit.

She finally knew what it was to be loved beyond the physical, beyond the need to join more closely. Recent events all began to slip away from Clarisse. She had been alone for so long! She needed the safety of his arms, to feel herself encircled by his love. Somehow, memory was all gone, washed away on a warm tide of feeling that rode up and enclosed her, drew her under, carried her off into a strange, different world where the colours were brighter and richer, the atmosphere was sweet and caressing, and the only reality was pure sensation. And along with the feeling was a sense of something that was almost relief -- a deep knowledge that this moment has been inevitable since the very first time she and Joseph had looked into each other's eyes. It was so wonderful to give in at last, to quit struggling and simply let things happen. She abandoned herself to the joy of being nothing but a vessel full of emotion, brimming with feeling, aching with need. She felt treasured, wanted and so very loved. Gentle emotions wrapped around her, filling her and renewing her strength. She found her heart again in their affirmation of love. The need to love and be loved had never shrivelled as she'd imagined. It had only lain dormant, awaiting for the right moment to come to life.

A tear spilled down her cheek, and Joseph eased back enough to kiss it away gently. "Why are you sad, my love?"

"I'm not," she managed. "You said yourself pearls are for tears of joy as well as sadness. I just ... it's so beautiful. So loving and gentle... "

"That's the way it's meant to be for us." He drew her close once more, his lips on hers. He was hers, body and soul.

"I wasn't expecting it." she spoke softly. "I remember thinking miracles don't happen -- then one did, and it unnerved me."

"And then Countess Puck had to make that ridiculous comment about your pearl necklace!"

"I..." she paused. Her eyes were dark and stormy, complicated emotions roiling in them. Hurt. Confusion. Passion. Frustration. Suddenly aware again of the pearls, she daringly reached out to him. "Joseph, I'm not going to worry about what others are saying about today. You're right. The most important thing is that we love each other and at last we can be together!" Her hands clenched over the lapels of his jacket. All the conflicting feelings in her eyes melded into one easily identifiable emotion. Desire. She rose up on tiptoe, and pressed her body to his. "Please!" she begged shamelessly, even as her lips touched his.

"Clarisse ..." he began.

"I need this. I need you..." She wrapped her arms around his neck and tugged his head down for another blistering kiss. Like a flame set to dry tinder, the magic flared between them. She finally pulled back to breathe. "If I had any sense," she sighed, "I'd think twice about this whole superstition thing. But I don't. I can't think around you. Not any more. Oh, Joseph, behaving responsibly is what I do. And this feels so good that my brain thinks it's IRresponsible!"

"And your heart?"

"My heart is yours, Joseph, and has been for years. Now you have me body and soul."

"Oh, my queen ..." Clarisse felt him come alive, years of loneliness falling away as soundlessly as a dark shadow.

His touch dissolved her blurred sensations of a moment ago, and the whole world seemed to twist into sharp focus. Whatever the doubts and fears in her life might be, now that she was in his arms, they seemed inconsequential. Here was a man who had waited years to hold her. He was here for her; she knew that. He had waited to love her; she had longed to love him. They were perfect together. The mysteries of life were distilled into one simple truth. Love is everything. Love makes people feel like this. Love is a miracle. Love is a gift.

Through the long night, which still seemed too short, they loved. It was amazing that she could feel so utterly attuned to him, as if their bodies had been born knowing each other. Without having to think about it, he could read her body with his own. They were so compatible it was almost uncanny.

And through all the loving, the pearls gleamed around her neck, throwing their own light.