'Elphie, did you hear? The cousins' carriages just came through the gate. They will be here any minute.' Glinda bubbled excitedly as she all but ran into Elphie's room and went straight to her wardrobe. Elphie was sitting on a chair putting on her boots and couldn't help but chuckle. Nusee glanced up from his spot on Elphie's pillow, looking highly annoyed. Namom had suggested that Elphie take the bedroom closest to Samion and Gwenot since those two bedrooms were strictly off limits to the children.
'Here, put this on. And hurry.' She said as she skipped over to Elphie with a dress in her hand.
'Yes, I heard. And no, I will not change my clothes again. I've done it three times already.' Elphie chuckled.
'What I am wearing is just fine.' She said with a smile.
'Yes, it is. I'm sorry. I'm just so excited.' Glinda said sheepishly as she took Elphie's hand. Elphie pulled her close, kissed her forehead then embraced her.
'Lyndie my sweet, you really need to settle down a little or you will be in your bubble before you can even greet everyone.' Elphie said.
'I know. I'll do a quick centering.' Glinda said.
'Since I'm here already.' She added with a grin then kissed Elphie and curled against her chest. She closed her eyes, took deep breaths and let them out slowly and for the next few minutes cleared her mind of everything except the sound of Elphie's heartbeat and the feel of her body.
'Better?' Elphie asked when Glinda started to wiggle out of her embrace.
'Yep. I'm appropriately excited now.' Glinda laughed. She had some dreams the previous night that had caused her to wake up early and show up in Elphie's room too excited for her own good.
'Good. Then let's go get you all bubbly and bouncy again.' Elphie laughed and Glinda did too.
'Right after you get your quick centering.' Glinda smiled then started a shortened version of their long reassuring kiss.
'Hi everyone!' Glinda bubbled as she and Elphie hurried out onto the porch hand in hand. The cousins, spouses and the children were all in various stages of exiting the carriages and greeting Namom, Gwenot and Samion.
'Hi Galinda, Hi Elphaba.' Came an enthusiastic chorus of greetings as what Namom referred to as glorious chaos got worse.
For the next half an hour or so everyone greeted everyone else. Children, who had already started an impromtu game of tag to release some of their pent up carriage ride energy, protested when their game was disrupted in order to properly greet their great aunt and uncle and their older cousins. But they all wished Glinda a happy graduation and Elphie and Glinda a happy birthday with very little prompting.
Gwenot, Samion, Elphie and Glinda moved off of the porch and into the fray that occurred whenever a large group arrived all at once but Namom stayed on the porch surveying the scene, contented to let it play out as it would. One of the younger children fell down and started to cry but there was an older one right there to scoop her up and give her a cuddle. Two of the older boys started shoving one another, apparently continuing a disagreement from earlier. One of the men hurried right over and broke it up with what seemed to be stern words, a severe facial expression and a pointed finger then joined a small group of little girls who were holding hands and dancing around in a circle singing a song. The chastised boys shook hands then each went to a different carriage and started to lead the horses back down the road to the cottages, presumably to unload all the luggage as their punishment. Children of all ages, including the cousins and spouses went in and out of the house under the guise of using the facilities but more than likely to pester Mrs. Koim for cookies, snacks and to find out what was for lunch. There was a buzz of conversation, lots of laughter, squeals of excitement and delight as well as a few cranky words and tears and Namom was enjoying it all when a tug at her skirt refocused her attention. She looked down and saw Sovia, Javie and Matith's three-year old daughter smiling up at her.
'Cuse me Namom.' The little girl smiled brightly.
'What can I do for you Sovia?' Namom smiled back.
'Mitit Koim taid I had to ats to get cookie.' Sovia said. Namom had no doubt that there was a group of children who had sent the youngest out as their emissary, hiding behind the door.
'Why don't you let me talk to everyone first then we can see about snacks.' Namom said.
'No cookie?' Sovia asked with a little pout and sad eyes. Namom heard soft giggles coming from the open window and smiled. She carefully leaned over and picked up Sovia who happily assisted by jumping just a little and wrapping her little arms carefully around her great grandmothers neck. Sovia was, for the time being, the only one of the children that she could still pick up and she did so as often as she could.
'After I tell everyone some things they need to know, I promise that I will take you into the kitchen and get you the biggest cookie on the plate.' Namom smiled and Sovia grinned broadly and clapped her hands.
'Thank ooou Namom.' She said brightly then gave Namom a kiss the way only an excited little girl could then squirmed to get down.
'I gets the bigets cookie Dunkie, not you. Namom taid.' Sovia squealed as soon as she hit the floor and went running into the house.
Namom chuckled and went over to the bell that was mounted on one of the posts and rang it four times, the signal that she wanted everyone's attention. As the people in the house started to filter out the buzz of conversations out on the lawn subsided. The children, who had been in search of cookies, filed past her smiling sheepishly as Namom smiled and waggled her finger at them.
'All right everyone. I have just a few things to say before you all go freshen up and get settled.' Namom said when things were quiet enough to be heard. She heard some of the children shushing one another and laughed.
'First some housekeeping items. Lunch will be a build your own sandwich and salad picnic out here on the lawn. As usual, I expect to have lots of help for Mr. And Mrs. Koim in preparing and setting it up.'
'I'll help. Me too. I'll slice cheese.' Were just some of the many comments of agreement to help that came from the group.
'While I am glad to have such enthusiastic helpers, not everyone can help with lunch or else there will not be any helpers for the other project that needs done this morning.' Namom chuckled as the buzz of curious conversation started up again. She held up her hands and it settled right down.
'I have decided to utilize the outdoor dance floor for the party tonight and we are going to try to put it together using Aleop's idea. Samion will be overseeing that.'
'Oh he will be so pleased. Aleop and Sergin will be able to come with Benim and Tinoa. They will be here by the time the party starts.' Leoil, his father said.
'Count me in to help.' He said and all of the men and older boys chimed in too.
'I'm so glad that the boys can come. We can add their apprenticeships to the list of things we are celebrating in addition to Galinda's graduation, Elphaba's twenty-first birthday and Galinda's twentieth.' Namom said enthusiastically.
'Some of you are aware of some of the other things we are celebrating but I want to announce everything at lunch, if those involved can keep their news to themselves just a little bit longer.' She added with a chuckle. After the expected groans, intrigued inquiries and excited chatter Namom continued with a few more announcements about the cottages, grounds and available activities.
'As you can see my family we have a hectic and fun time ahead of us. As well as lots to do before lunch. So I suggest that you go and freshen up and get settled quickly so you can get started.' The matriarch chuckled.
'In the meantime, Sovia and I will go see to some snacks and drinks.' She added motioning to the little girl who was standing with her parents. She beamed and scampered up onto the porch, puffing up with pride as she took Namom's hand.
'So Sovia, do you think we can get the snacks and drinks out here before they can get freshened up and settled?' Namom asked.
'We can.' The little girl laughed as she started to tug her great grandmother into the house. That was everyone's cue and the group, with a burst of chatter, dispersed.
'This is going to be so much fun.' Glinda sighed after another, longer, centering session.
'I can't wait to hear everybody's news.'
'I'm proud of you for not trying to wheedle information out of…well everyone.' Elphie chuckled.
'Oh everyone here is on to me already. I wouldn't have gotten a thing.' Glinda giggled.
'So what do you want to help with?'
'I thought I'd help with lunch. I overheard Kiuy and Chiwa talking about new sandwich spreads and I thought that would be interesting.' Elphie smiled.
'How very domestic of you. You'll be in charge of sandwiches on our wedding trip.' Glinda chuckled.
'I assumed that I would be in charge of nourishment in general.' Elphie said with a slight smile.
'Hey there is more than one way to nourish a body.' Glinda said with a sly grin as she tried to sneak her hand up Elphie's skirt.
'Well I can't argue with that.' Elphie chuckled as she deftly stopped her, as Glinda knew she would.
'Let's just attempt to ensure that food nourishment gets equal time with the others.' Elphie smiled.
'Cook still thinks that I am too skinny. She added straight-faced and Glinda burst into laughter so merry that neither one heard Namom tapping on the partially opened door.
'What a wonderful sound. The merry laughter of two young people in love.' Namom smiled as she came into the room.
'Hi Namom. Elphie was being funny.' Glinda chortled.
'I was actually being serious. She often mistakes that for funny.' Elphie said, knowing that she was blushing slightly.
'Ah. Well, I hate to interrupt your conversation but Galinda, your father wants to know if you have properly centered. He requires your assistance at the storage shed.' Namom said.
'I am centered and ready to help.' Glinda said.
'I am glad to hear that.' Namom smiled.
'And Elphaba, little Nusee wanted to go outside so I let him out onto the back deck. It is not as hectic back there. I hope that was all right.'
'It's fine. Thank you for doing that. I tried to convey to him what was going on here and that he might want to stay out of the way. Hopefully he will take heed.' Elphie smiled.
'He seemed content to sit on the railing, out of sight of almost everything and stare at some birds.' Namom said.
'I'll check on him.' Elphie said.
'That would ease my mind.' Namom said.
'And Galinda, don't forget your wand when you go to help your father.'
'I won't and I'll be right there.' Glinda said.
'Good. There are snacks and drinks out on the front porch.' Namom smiled then left, closing the door behind her.
How about a little nourishment to tide us over until lunch.' Glinda grinned slyly.
'I'm assuming from the twinkle in your eye that you are not referring to the snacks out on the porch.' Elphie smiled. Glinda's response was to draw her into a kiss.
The rest of the morning was very busy. Everyone helped in one form or another, even the young children. The group putting down the dance floor made sure to take notes on everything they did so that Aleop would know what worked and what didn't. Even though there were a few false starts and they hit a few snags, the project was tackled with lots of teasing and good humor. Inside the house, items for sandwiches were being prepared with the same teasing and good humor. One of the favorite topics was if and how Elphie was able to get Glinda to focus on other things besides their upcoming wedding. Elphie took the questions and the accompanying gentle teasing in the spirit in which it was offered but was glad that Gwenot was there to intervene when things got a bit too personal.
When lunch was ready to be put out on the tables that had been set up under the tents the dance floor was three quarters of the way finished. Glinda, who was helping Chiwa magically even out the ground so the planks would go down evenly, saw Elphie put a platter crunchy veggies and dips down on one of the tables and ran over to her.
'Come dance with me.' Glinda said as she took Elphie's hand and the cousins nearby chuckled.
'Lyndie, I'm not sure that is appropriate now.' Elphie said.
'How can you say no to that face Elphaba.' Javie chuckled.
'I'm sure that she just wants to test the stability of the dance floor.' Kiuy added.
'That's right. Test dance floor stability.' Glinda grinned.
'An important thing to do.'
'And only we can do it I suppose.' Elphie smiled as she took Glinda's hand.
'Yes, only us.' Glinda grinned.
'Why fight the inevitable.' Elphie chuckled as she allowed Glinda to lead her away.
'I'll bet that she says that a lot.' Voril chuckled.
'And you don't.' Her sister chuckled as she patted her belly.
'Shush. You'll give away my news.' Voril whispered then shoved Javie out from under the tent and towards the dance floor.
After a quick waltz with some modern steps mixed in, around the dance floor Glinda deemed the dance floor to be stable, wonderful and lots of fun. Namom praised all of the workers and announced that lunch was nearly all set out and everyone should go wash up.
'Thank you Elphie.' Glinda said as they walked toward the house.
'For dancing with you?' Elphie chuckled.
'For indulging my cousins.' Glinda smiled.
'Is that what I was doing?' Elphie replied.
'Admit it. You are getting used to all of this.' Glinda chuckled.
'Perhaps. In a way.' Elphie said
'Considering I'll be an official part of this in less than six months, trying to find ways to get used to it seems prudent.' She added with a chuckle.
'I love you Elphie. I just do.' Glinda sighed.
'Let's wash up together. In your room.' She grinned.
'There is no bathroom in there for you to wash up in.' Elphie said then saw the look on Glinda's face.
'But there are oils and soft cloths.' She added.
'There ya go Elphie.' Glinda giggled as they by passed the crowded kitchen and bathroom and went into Elphie's room.
'Now that we all have some lunch and are settled let's share our reasons to celebrate. Voril, would you like to start?' Namom smiled and Voril stood up from her spot on a blanket on the grass.
'I would indeed.' Voril smiled and Glinda felt the flutters a second before Voril said it.
'I'm pregnant.' She said and there were lots of cheers and applause as people got up to give her hugs and congratulations.
'You didn't have to avoid me you know.' Glinda chuckled as she hugged her cousin.
'I wasn't focusing enough to be able to figure out your surprise.'
'I wasn't… okay yes I was. Forgive me? Voril asked with a laugh.
'Of course.' Glinda said as she gave her cousin another hug
'When are you due?'
'In early February as far as I can tell. Frotz and I have been quite active lately.' Voril said with a grin and Glinda chuckled.
After everyone had a chance to congratulate Voril, Matith and Yosib announced their promotions and Kiuy announced her new job as the home economics teacher for the local high school. After applause and congratulations for them, Glinda announced that she graduated cum laude and received surprised, but very proud, congratulations.
After that lunch became a buzz of conversation and as soon as the children were finished eating, game watching. Clean up was quick and easy because paper plates and cups were used. The men went off to play round ball with the boys; the girls played badminton and entertained the little kids while the cousins sat around under the tent catching up. Most of them wanted graduation party details, which Glinda was happy to provide and Elphie was happy to keep on track.
Eventually the small children became cranky and were put down for naps, with some of their parents napping too, to rest up for the night ahead. The men and Samion finished the dance floor and some of the older children assisted or settled into more sedate activities. Elphie did not have to coax or even suggest that Glinda take a nap. By they time everyone else had gone to the cottages or were reading or napping in lounge chairs, she was more than ready.
'Lyndie, it's time to get up.' Elphie said then placed whisper kisses on Glinda's cheeks and forehead.
'Nap time over.' She chuckled as Glinda started to rouse and stretch.
'Hi Elphie.' Glinda bubbled.
'Hello my sweet. Did you have a nice nap?' Elphie asked.
'Mmmmmm yes.' Glinda smiled stretching again. Elphie watched her love's body move as she slowly stretched, mesmerized by the sight.
'I dreamed we were dancing under the stars. Which we will be.' Glinda grinned.
'Yes we will be. And you have about two hours to get ready.' Elphie smiled.
'Your mother said that the caterers will be here to set up the dinner buffet in an hour or so. Namom wants everyone ready by seven.'
'Have you bathed yet?' Glinda asked.
'I did while you were napping.' Elphie smiled.
'Drat.' Glinda pouted.
'Lyndie…' Elphie started.
'Oh I know Elphie. Even I agree that sharing bath time would be inappropriate in this circumstance. I just wanted to dust your hair.' Glinda said.
'You asked me if I bathed, not if I dusted my hair.' Elphie said with a slight smile.
'Mean green thing.' Glinda said with a delighted chuckle then started to kiss Elphie with gusto. They were interrupted a few beats later by a pounding on the door. They separated; chuckling softly and Glinda called come in while Elphie went over to sit in a chair.
'I think your cat was looking for you so I brought him here to see if you were here.' Kiuy and Wolte's eight-year-old daughter, Grafa said as she came in holding a struggling Nusee. Nusee saw Elphie and finally broke free, running to her and hiding under the chair.
'He seemed really scared and was fighting with me. But I wouldn't let him go.' Grafa said proudly.
'We appreciate you trying to help Nusee Graf.' Glinda said casting a significant glance at Elphie.
'But perhaps next time you think he is looking for Elphaba, you come and look for us to tell us, instead of carrying him around to try and find us.' She added.
'Okay.' The girl shrugged.
'I do appreciate you help though. Thank you.' Elphie said following Glinda's lead to be friendly and appreciative when in actuality she was a little angry.
'Welcome.' The girl said and skipped out the door. Elphie started to say something but Glinda held up her hand and got up to close the door.
'It's okay Nusee. She's gone now. You can come out.' Glinda said with a soft chuckle and Elphie realized that being angry with this was silly.
'It is safe to emerge Nuisance.' Elphie said then looked at Glinda.
'The girl didn't mean any harm…probably.' She said with a smile.
'Elphie.' Glinda admonished with a smile as Nusee poked his head out. It took about fifteen minutes to placate him and even after that he was content to lie down on the window ledge and stay put in the nursery.
'Doesn't that smell wonderful?' Glinda sighed as they stepped out onto the porch and caught the aroma of the food wafting up from the long, fully loaded buffet table.
'It does.' Elphie agreed as they walked down the steps.
Most of the family was milling around the elegantly set tables but some were still making their way up from the cottages. Everyone was dressed up, sipping some sort of drink and already having a good time. Namom was sitting in a comfortable wing back chairs at one of the adult tables, chatting with her daughter and sons.
'Ah there you are Galinda and Elphaba.' Namom said as they approached.
'Your cousins were looking for you two. Decisions about music for dancing need to be made.' She chuckled.
'I'll find them.' Glinda smiled.
'Namom this is such a great party, everything is perfect.' She sniffled happily as she leaned down to hug her grandmother.
'I'm glad that you think so.' Namom smiled.
'Now go find your cousins. A party needs music.' She chuckled.
'It certainly does.' Glinda smiled and she and Elphie headed towards one of the tents where she thought she saw her cousins.
It wasn't too long before everyone had gone through the buffet line and were making their way to tables with plates loaded down with favorite foods. Awnings were set up in sort of a T shape with the long part covering about half the dance floor and the top covering tables set up on either side of the dance floor. It was done this way because even though no rain was predicted the weather at this time of year was unpredictable.
Everyone was able to catch up even more over dinner. As people went back for seconds or even thirds they often changed tables. The children had their own tables at the far end of the dance floor and were told as long as they were not disruptive they could come and go as they pleased. The kids were being well behaved so far, but people still kept an eye on things, just in case.
'My family, my family.' Namom said as she stood.
'I'd like everyone's attention please.' She said.
'Kids, come up here please, Namom is talking.' Leoil said as he motioned the children forward.
'The sun is getting ready to set and I would like to see everyone on the dance floor for a sunset dance.' Namom said.
'Oh how romantic.' Glinda grinned.
'Very.' Voril smiled.
With a wave of her wand Namom got music started and everyone made their way onto the dance floor, even the children. At first the dances were modern and fun but as the sun got lower the music got slower. Children left the dance floor and soon only the couples were left.
The sky was streaked with reds and oranges as the sun slowly disappeared behind the mountaintops. Most of the couples were not under the awning, preferring instead to dance out in the open, letting the warm night air and the colored streaked sky fuel their movements. Elphie and Glinda were both exhilarated and it showed in their dancing. It took four long dances for the sun to fully set. As the sky got darker little twinkling lights that decorated the trees and tents came on but the couples on the dance floor did not notice because the sky above them was full of real twinkling stars.
'Look everyone.' Chiwa said excitedly and everyone stopped dancing and looked up.
'Shooting stars.' She sighed.
'Make a wish.' Voril said.
Glinda positioned herself in front of Elphie and sighed happily as Elphie wrapped her arms around her and gave her a little squeeze as she leaned back and looked up at the stars.
'Starlight, star bright the first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight.' Glinda sing-songed as she and Elphie swayed slightly in time with her chant.
'Did you make a wish Elphie?' Glinda asked as she turned around to face Elphie after a few quite minutes of stargazing.
'No.' Elphie said.
'At this moment in time I have everything that I could possibly want. I do not think there is anything for me to wish for.' She added quickly then cupped Glinda's cheek for just a beat before giving her a soft, chaste kiss on the lips, ignoring the people all around them.