A/N: Sorry it's taken longer than anticipated. I'm getting slaughtered with uni assessment and exams. I also got stuck in this chapter, as a result I am unsure how the end of it is. So sorry in advance if the end is horrendous. I keep thinking about doing a prequel to this, I would like to finish this story before I start it though. But just a heads up in case you are interested.
Disclaimer: Not Tamora Pierce
Chapter Nine: Neal Gets Married (Finally)
The next day dawned bright and clear, Kel thought it was a perfect sort of day for two of her best friends to get married. Kel had planned to have a leisurely morning after the dramatics of the night before, but of course that was not to happen.
Kel was woken by Yuki, Ilane and Silvia (who then proceeded to jump on Kel until she groaned and fell onto the floor with a painful thump) and the morning was spent directing the decorators and ensuring everything would be perfect for the afternoon's festivities. The women were ready well before the ceremony which was just as well when Dom came barging in looking for assistance with Neal.
True, it did take both Kel and Dom two hours to get Neal presentable. True, it did take another hour for them to convince him that Yuki wasn't going to leave him at the altar. In the end Kel had threatened to tell Yuki that he was being difficult and planning to ruin her wedding by not showing up, which Kel added for effect, would break her heart. That definitely got Neal moving.
After they had gotten the couple to the makeshift altar at New Hope and made sure that they both actually made it to the ceremony, the rest of the day went by rather easily, except when Neal nearly fainted after Yuki said "I do".
After finally getting through the ceremony there was possibly the biggest party that any of the residents of New Hope had ever seen.
That evening Kel had watched Silvia dance with every man from Dom's squad several times, her undisputed favourite was Dom though. Kel was watching Dom dance with Silvia, their laughter ringing out over the dance floor and got lost in her thoughts watching the two of them, the two people she loved more than anything in this world.
Where would she be now if she had chosen against keeping Silvia? What would her life be? Sure enough, there was always a hole in her heart every time she left her daughter behind, but if she had chosen against keeping her, would she not have a bigger hole instead? She did not know what her other path would have been, and even if she did not know what she now knew… Kel was happy with her choice.
Lost in her thoughts she almost didn't notice Neal sneaking up behind her. Almost. "Hello Neal."
"How on earth did you know it was me?" Kel's only response was to raise her brows questioningly. Neal watched the party around them for a little before Kel gave in, "Spit it out Neal."
"You and Dom eh?" Kel's face flushed despite her best efforts and Neal laughed light-heartedly.
"Are you going to be difficult about it? I mean, he is your cousin and I know what the two of you are like."
Neal thought a moment. He knew that Kel cared for his cousin, if it hadn't become obvious over the past week he still would have known. It had become more obvious over the years without either of them realising. He was worried that his cousin would hurt Kel, but he also knew that Dom had not courted a lady in three years, which he highly suspected was solely because of the woman sitting in front of him now.
He replied slowly, "No, I don't think I am."
Kel turned to her best friend in shock, "You're kidding right? You, not be difficult? About your best friend and your cousin being together?"
"What's so wrong with that?" Neal muttered darkly.
"Who are you and what have you done with my best friend?" Kel demanded.
Neal rolled his eyes, "Stop being dramatic Kel. I guess I'm just accepting it. Especially because part of me always knew it was inevitable."
Before Kel could come up with any kind of answer, Yuki whisked her new husband off to the dance floor. They looked so blissfully happy, and neither seemed to care too much that their wedding had taken place in a refugee camp, on the Scanran border, in the middle of one of the biggest wars of King Jonathan's reign. They were happy simply because they officially belonged to each other now. Who could begrudge them that? Neal's easy acceptance of her relationship with Dom had been entirely unexpected.
Dom caught her eye and swiftly passed Silvia to dance with her grandfather, before walking over to Kel, a somewhat dreamy look on his face. "Care to dance my lovely Protector?" She took the hand he offered and walked her to the dance floor.
The night wore on and the party began to wind down, only by a little, when the newlyweds were ushered to Neal's rooms, followed by many lewd jokes. The couple had been offered two weeks leave at Queenscove by the king. He would have liked to give them more time he told them apologetically, but at such an uncertain point in the war and Neal's position as the only skilled healer at New Hope (not to mention one of the only knights), the king and Lord Wyldon were unwilling to let him go for too long. However, Neal took one look at Yuki and she had known that they would not be taking the leave to Queenscove. Neal cared about New Hope as much as Kel did, though he would never admit to it.
The party was still going fairly strong after the happy couple's departure, when Kel found herself sitting with Alanna, Raoul, Buri, Dom, Piers and Ilane with Silvia asleep in her lap. They were watching Wolset dance on a table a few feet away singing an extremely bawdy song and slowly losing various items of clothing. Kel and Dom were in stitches, when Kel glanced over at Raoul he was just shaking his head in mock sorrow.
"One of the best fighting forces I have ever known, and yet, I fear that in this moment Wolset pretty much sums up the entirety of Third Company." That drew more laughter from those seated at their table.
Dom saw Kel yawn, "And I think its bed time for you two beautiful ladies."
Kel looked down at Silvia in her lap and ran her fingers through her daughter's hair, "I think you may be right."
Ilane and Alanna traded looks, "Kel, you can put Silvia in our room for the night if you like?" Ilane offered quietly.
"Why would I do that Mama?" Kel was slightly confused. Alanna only snorted at the comment.
"Oh you know, I just thought you may want a good night's sleep for a change is all."
Dom chuckled quietly hearing the exchange between the women. "Come Protector, I'll make sure you get to your room."
Kel only nodded and stood up, cradling Silvia to her as Dom helped her out of the hall without tripping over the various members of Third Company who had passed out on the floor. They got to Kel's door and he opened it for her and the one to the adjoining room where Silvia was staying so Kel could put her to bed. Dom was sitting on the bed when Kel walked out and silently closed the door to Silvia's room.
"Well, I can't say I'm not glad that madness is over." He commented dryly.
Kel giggled and crashed onto her bed, "It wasn't that bad. After the actual ceremony anyway. I honestly thought we would never get Neal there."
"I think he was just being a drama queen. He loves her way too much to not have gone through with it."
Kel propped her head up on her hand, "That is true I suppose. Now it may just be my tired brain but what on earth was my mother going on about?"
Dom tried his absolute best not to laugh, he really did. In the end he couldn't help but chuckle as he answer her, sometimes she was just a bit too clueless for her own good. "She was offering to have Silvia for the night."
Kel scowled, "I understood that much! But why?"
"I believe she was insinuating that we might want some privacy to spend the night together, dear."
Comprehension dawned on Kel's face. "Oh."
Dom settled back on the bed, his hands behind his head. "This whole thing is up to you entirely. We don't do anything unless you want to. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Kel wondered how she could possibly deserve someone as sweet and caring as the man before her.
"Does it matter that Silvia will nearly always be in the other room?"
"Only if it bothers you. She's your daughter. You dictate what happens, when and where. But I'm not leaving because of her. I'm a bit attached if you haven't noticed."
Kel's hand automatically went to the little gold chain that hung around her throat, knowing that the choice was hers.
"I've waited six years for you Kel, waiting until you're ready for to take this step is nothing compared to that."
Her decision made, she leaned in and kissed him. Life was uncertain, why wait and regret it later.