This is complete and utter fluff, but it is about the wedding at the end of TBoM, and, having read the first couple of chapters of the next book, I think the DioM world could use some more fluff at the moment, so it's justified :)
All healing is first a healing of the heart.
- Carl Townsend
Shiloh Nathanson happily watched the couples twirling around the grassy dance area. The three newly wedded couples had been joined by their parents, and even Carl Foley had set aside his cane to sway slowly in place with his wife. A glance over her shoulder told Shiloh that Makaidos and Thigocia were attempting a similar swaying dance.
Looking around at all the dancers with their widely varying dancing abilities, Shiloh had to admit that being in love did tend to make people look silly. Still, everyone was so happy they didn't seem to care. With this thought in mind, Shiloh found her gaze being drawn to the other end of the long table, where Gabriel sat.
He was facing away from her, watching his sister and Walter dancing, it seemed. He had a little smile on his face, and his fingers were tapping the table in time to the music. She and Gabriel were so very similar, she knew; both of them had trapped so long, able to watch others go about their lives but unable to join in. She wondered if he ever felt like she did sometimes, like she needed people around her at all times, and yet felt so suffocated when they were. That's what being alone for forty years does to you, she smiled grimly.
Shiloh remembered the look of utter relief on his face when he had come to rescue her and Acacia earlier that day—had it really been less than a day?—and she remembered thinking that was the most wonderful thing she'd seen in four years. She was so lost in thought that she nearly fell out of her chair when Gabriel turned suddenly and looked right at her.
He smiled widely, and she couldn't help smiling back as she righted herself, even though her face was bright red at the embarrassment of being caught. He stood up and made his way to her, and she stood up too. She tucked her left hand, the one with a gap where her index finger should be, into the folds of her blue bridesmaid dress.
Gabriel seemed to notice this, and his eyes followed the movement of her hand, his brow wrinkling into a slight frown before he looked back up at her. She thought he was going to say something about it, but when he spoke, all he said was, "Hi."
She relaxed a little at that. "Hi."
He cleared his throat, and one of his wingtips twitched slightly. "I thought you might like to—Would you like to—I mean, I'm not very good, but—"
"Gabriel," Shiloh cut in. Suppressing a smile, she laid her right hand on his arm.
At her touch, he let out his breath in a big whoosh, and grinned sheepishly. "Would you like to dance with me?"
She rolled her eyes, but this time, she didn't bother suppressing the smile.
"Come on, Batman," she tugged him onto the dance floor. However, when they reached the middle of the floor, it was her turn to hesitate. She cringed internally. Her hand…
But Gabriel seemed to read her mind. Before she could pull away, he grasped her left hand firmly but gently in his own. She tensed, but he smiled reassuringly down at her, which calmed her enough for her to place her other hand on his shoulder when he placed his on her waist.
Moving slowly, they joined in the dance. Despite her uncertainty, she found that she was enjoying herself immensely. The music from the band of fiddlers and pipers was sweet and simple, the grass was soft and cool beneath her bare feet, and Gabriel's hands were gentle and warm. When Tamara danced by enthusiastically with Listener and a group of Second Eden children, they both laughed and all of the children waved to them. Watching them bounce around, Shiloh had a feeling that the animated dance had been made up only moments ago by Listener and her newfound mother.
They danced in silence for a while after that, and Shiloh ended up leading most of the time because Gabriel hadn't been lying when he said he wasn't very good at dancing. The silence was not awkward, but at the same time Shiloh felt that he was struggling to say something. Their dancing became slower and slower until they reached the edge of the dance floor. They came to a stop by unspoken consent, but he kept her left hand in his.
When he finally spoke, the words dropped slowly from his mouth, as if he was carefully considering each one. "I don't want you to hide from me."
Shiloh looked up at him. He looked puzzled, and a little sad. "What do you mean?"
He turned their joined hands over, almost cradling hers. "I mean, I can't tell you what to do; it's your hand, I guess you can do what you want, but I just don't want you to feel like you have to hide it from me."
Shiloh swallowed thickly at the sight of her maimed hand. She didn't know how to respond, she just kept thinking about that gap where her finger was supposed to be. "Look at it!" She finally burst out.
He held her eyes for several long seconds before looking down at their hands. Slowly, he ran the pad of his thumb across the stump. His touch was so light, it almost tickled. Lifting her hand, he kissed it gently, this touch hardly more substantial than the first one. In the dim light, she could just barely see that he was blushing furiously, and her heart flipped in her chest. He was being so sweet, but still…
He raised his eyebrows, aware that he hadn't fully gotten through to her. "Do you want me to be ashamed of my wings?"
"Well, of course not! They're a part of you!" Suddenly she groaned. "That's exactly what you wanted me to say, isn't it?
A smile curved his lips. "Yeah, pretty much."
"It's not the same," she protested weakly.
He shrugged. "It doesn't matter. I love you, not parts of you."
She froze. He had spoken casually, but his face was bright red again and his smile was wider than she had ever seen it at having finally spit out what both of them knew but had not been able to say. As her shock faded, her joy increased.
"I love you, too, Batman." After all this time dancing around it, the words came to her lips so naturally, and she knew she was probably smiling like an idiot, but it didn't matter because so was he. She knew she would never be happy to see that stump on her left hand, but as Gabriel pulled her closer, it no longer seemed to matter as much.
*Unless I missed it, the book never specified which of Shiloh's fingers was missing, so I decided it was her left index finger**Also, I decided that everyone at the wedding was barefoot, since at least the three brides were and it seems in keeping with the theme (After all, the guests were sitting on the grass)*