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Chapter Eight

A Day Unlike Any Other

"And are you fully prepared?" Èowyn asked gently, smoothing the soft curtain of Beryl's hair one last time.

The young woman stood before a long mirror, clothed in a misty yellow edged with palest green silk. No ornament or jewel glistened against her skin that had softened to gentle tan, and her hair was brushed free down her back and around her shoulders declaring her virginity. A thin mint veil of elvish weave lay against a chair and only waited for placement to complete the bridal gear.

"I expect so," Beryl whispered. Her eyes were fastened on her folded hands. They were held quietly and calmly without strain or tension. Èowyn marveled at Beryl's tranquility.

"And is there nothing I might do for you before the ceremony?" the she probed.

"If you could—" Beryl's eyes wet up for a second and down again, "No, I will not ask that." She offered a stronger smile and took the Shieldmaiden's hands in her own, "Rather, Èowyn, if I might count you a friend—if I might, when I have need write to you of the little things that happen here and ask you questions you will answer won't you?"

"Of course," Èowyn pressed the warm hands that held her's, "Of course, I shall answer whenever you like, you do me great honor to request such from me."

"But I feel that all the good will be on my side," Beryl smiled, "Thank you, Lady Èowyn, you make me fell bolder already."

They embraced gently. Èowyn silently called down a blessing on the young woman as she fastened the veil, praying that all might work together for the girl's happiness. She pressed Beryl's hand one last time and went to the door where the procession was waiting. Am army of pages and little maidens were waiting all surrounded by the elite Gondorian sentry. As Beryl emerged from her room the trumpets began to sound and the walk to the citadel began.

It was a long and tedious affair because even though the distance was not far, the walk was slow and controlled so every citizen might have a chance look at their queen in her bridal beauty. The light fell on Beryl and cast a kind of golden halo around her, a sign that made many who doubted her forgive her country life for she was sweet to look upon; a pure gentle woman.

Even from his position on the steps of the citadel, Elessar could see the approval settling over the peoples' faces as Beryl slowly walked by. He felt his heart constrict and a strange pull tugged at his chest as he thought of what was about to happen. Whatever may have been, this action would sunder him forever from his greatest love and place him side by side with another woman. But as she reached the bottom step and lifted her tiny foot to come to him, Elessar saw his hand reach out to her and wrap itself around her slender fingers, accepting that eternity. Her eyes were large and liquid behind her veil and a smile traced across her face as their eyes met.

After all, he thought, this is the beginning of her happiness, why should I not hope for it to be mine as well.

The ceremony was long, the vows unending it seemed and many exchanging and giving of promises that covered nearly every aspect of life. When they swore to love one another and no one else, Elessar felt Beryl's hand trembling in his but he wrapped his other hand over her's reassuringly. Her voice steadied and she swore that to no other would she cleave and find comfort only in him all the days of her life.

When Elessar's turn came the words seemed to speak themselves and he heard himself as from very far away. He did not allow himself to look anywhere but into the trusting hazel eyes of his betrothed, he allowed no other thought. This was Beryl's pledge; his oath to her as she had given her heart to him he would swear his allegiance to her.

"As much as Beryl, Lady of Lamedon and citizen of Gondor and Arnor hath sworn I declare her wife to Elessar, King of Gondor, Arnor and her principalities. May they rule in peace." The priest announced solemnly. He smiled at the two and bowed a little to the side as Faramir stepped forward bearing a cushion that held a golden circlet set with pearls and rubies.

Lifting the slip of veil in his fingers, Elessar uncovered Beryl's head. Gazing steadily into her eyes, he lowered the delicate crown onto her head where it rested easily. As the weight settled fully Beryl's eyes fluttered closed and she took a deep breath. She took in all her girlhood and childhood in that breath and as she released it, she opened her eyes on her future as a queen.

"Rise Beryl, Queen of Gondor," Elessar intoned.

As she stood, the crowd erupted with wild cheers and flowers flew through the air. Trumpets heralded the great news across the city and all over the city bells rang their joyful message across the land. Messengers rode out from the city with letters to all the surrounding kings and princes. A new banner snapped in the breeze over the citadel, one that entwined the initials of A and B in silver on a field of velvet black.

Beryl smiled at Elessar, "A beautiful day," she said, "A perfect day."

"Unlike any other before it," Elessar agreed, "And if the gods have anything to do with it, unlike any other that follow."

"I love you," she said seriously, the jewels twinkling above her hazel eyes.

He raised her hand to his lips and kissed the palm to rousing cheers from the people, "Will you come and meet the people of your Kingdom, my queen?" he asked.

"If you say you love me," she said, her voice catching, "Even if it is only a little. Please, Aragorn, it will last me all my life."

"Beryl, I love you," he said simply and tenderly but the look in his eyes let her know it was no more than affection. She tried to smile bravely; she had known that he would answer so. With a nod they went forward into the opening arms of the people.

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