Gregor sat down in bed and glumly opened his laptop. Luise had been sleeping for a couple hours in the chair she'd dropped off in. And miracle of miracles the babies were finally asleep—their nanny had assured him they were fine. He was exhausted, but unable to relax. In the back of his mind he knew he was overjoyed with his new family, but he was still turning his new reality over and over—getting used to the idea that he was finally a father.
Luise padded softly into the bedroom and Gregor looked up with surprise. "Hello sweetheart, did you have a good nap?"
She gave him a sweet smile. "Yes, and now I'm ready to go to bed." They looked at each other and giggled. Gregor leaned over and stroked her cheek, losing himself in her gaze before his email gave a ping. They looked at the display and saw a new message—from Constantin. It had one word: wedding.
A file was attached. Gregor clicked on it and footage filled the screen. His eyes widened as he saw Christian pacing back and forth in front of an iron fence surrounding a church. His little brother practically vibrated with nervous energy. "What's keeping Olli? Maybe he changed his mind." Charlie and Miriam, dressed in elegant finery just a little nicer than a morning wedding demanded were struggling to keep him calm, laughing gently as he continued to pace and worry, mutter and pace.
Luise leaned into him as Gregor watched the scene unfold. "Look at him," she murmured. "He looks so handsome."
He did. He looked…different. Young, and nervous…but very ready to get married. There was a certainty of intention Gregor wasn't used to seeing in Christian.
There were cuts in the footage (Constantin had obviously edited this down) and a dark green cooper pulled up. Lydia, Sebastian, Helena and Nico were all out in quick succession, and then Oliver rose out of the car, smiling at the camera. Christian could be seen behind him, looking the other groom up and down with a wry quirk on his lips as Oliver turned towards him. "I was starting to think you were going to leave me standing at the altar."
"Are you crazy?"
They kissed gently, almost carefully, and an open, vulnerable look flashed across Christian's face before the footage cut.
Next they were seen at the altar, backs to the camera, which was halfway back in the congregation. They were doing…breathing exercises? Gregor and Luise looked at each other with a small frown. But it quickly became obvious that the priest was simply killing time…or something, as a commotion was heard behind the camera. Christian and Olli turned, and Christian, looking irritated, motioned impatiently with his hands; "Los!" Suddenly Rebecca and Andi were seen speeding up the aisle. Christian bent down during a hurried conversation between Olli and Rebecca. Gregor frowned. What the hell was he doing?
"He's changing his shoes," Luise murmured, bemused. Gregor looked at her for a brief second before turning back to see Christian tossing a pair of shoes at Andi, who sat in the front pew. That's right, Andi was Christian's acting best man in his absence. He felt a brief pang of regret that he couldn't have been there to smooth things over for his kleiner bruder…but then focused on the what the priest was saying, about modifying rituals so that change could happen. Then the grooms were turning, facing each other, and Olli typically, impulsively grabbed both of Christian's hands, and began to speak.
Gregor smiled a little as Olli quietly and extravagantly described what Christian meant to him in a way that was so typically Olli. But what caught his eyes was the emotions playing on Christian's face. Gregor had never seen him so…joyful. So happy he could hardly contain it, to the point where he interrupted the vow's end to say "I do."
Then Christian grasped one of Olli's hands in both of his own as if holding onto a lifeline. His vows, so eloquent as he stumbled and laughed over a word, gripping Olli tighter and obviously struggling to hold himself together, made Gregor's eyes sting. He heard Luise sniff beside him and kissed her hair absently as his eyes stayed on the screen. Olli was standing very still as Christian spoke, as if providing the solid and safe space for Christian to be so vulnerable—before interrupting at the end with an enthusiastic assent that left both grooms laughing with an almost surprised joy.
Then Rebecca was there, handing over the rings. Both men stood straight and solid as they placed rings on each other's hands. And then each gripped the other's, seeing nothing but the man in front of him, not noticing the priest walking up to them until he was reaching out.
Gregor was surprised to feel a lump in his throat as the priest gently placed Christian's hand over Olli's and then folded them in his own, pronouncing a blessing from a psalm. "Praise the Lord, my soul, and never forget all the good that he has done."
They kissed, and laughed, and kissed again, and Gregor heard a deep sniff, and heard Luise's voice murmuring again softly as she rubbed his shoulders, and realized that he was crying. The blessing of the church on his little brother, and his husband…seeing them standing together surrounded by soft light through the windows and embraced by acceptance and love… his little brother…he'd never seen Christian look so happy, so vibrating with joy—and at the same time so peaceful.
Gregor cleared this throat loudly and passed a hand across his eyes. He looked at his wife and fought back the standard excuses that were already surfacing in his mind as if by a reflex. Luise simply looked at him, tears in her own eyes, as Gregor got himself together. He looked at the clock. It was only 4pm. He'd only have been at work for a couple of hours.
Gregor squeezed his wife's hand. "I'll be right back, sweetheart. I…I need to make a call." Luise squeezed his hand back and he got out of bed, gently setting down the laptop. He pulled out his phone and dialed the same number that used to be a regular part of his life.
"Gregor! Hey! Christian isn't here right now, but…"
"No," Gregor cut in. "I wanted to talk to you."
"Well sure, big brother," Olli said, a surprised and amused tone in his voice. "What's on your mind?"
"Listen…I…just saw the video Constantin shot of the wedding."
"Oh really? I haven't gotten a chance to see it yet! Oh Constantin is gonna get it. Do you know he was all over the place with that thing during the—"
"Listen Olli…" Gregor cut in, "Just give me a minute, ok?"
Gregor heard faint music from the bar in the background. He suddenly found himself struggling to find the right words, realized he probably wouldn't be able to, and pushed on anyway. "Look, I…I've never seen Christian like I saw in that video, you know? And I…I just wanted to thank you. For taking care of him, and for…for loving him so much. You make him really happy."
A quick, quiet sigh was heard on the other end of the line. "He makes me happy too."
Gregor smiled. "I know, little brother. He couldn't have picked a better man to be with. I just wanted to let you know."
Olli's throat cleared on the other end of the line. "Thanks, Gregor. Um…look, I have to go, there's a delivery that just came in. But…why don't you call back later this evening? I know Christian would love to hear the latest on his niece and nephew."
"Sure, Olli. Take it easy."
Gregor walked back into the bedroom and smiled at Luise, who was already asleep again. He gingerly got in next to her and closed the laptop. He leaned back and felt himself begin to truly relax. His little brother was happy, and loved, and accepted in a way Gregor had feared deep down, without knowing that he feared it, would never be possible. As he felt sleep begin to creep over him and he closed his eyes he again saw his little brother's face open with joy as he gripped Olli's hands, seeing nothing but his new husband as the priest moved towards them. "All the good that he has done," indeed.