They were head-over-heels in love, or so the papers had it, and that was why the wedding took place on the first of December as opposed to waiting for more clement weather and a more fashionable time of year. The New York Standard ran the story too, although its star reporter was strangely silent on the delicious gossip, making only a passing reference in his column and preferring to talk about the dubious origins of an English duchess just arrived in town; there was no greater courtesy Asher could do his fallen comrade, a person who hadn't been seen since the night before the formal announcement. It was said that she'd succumbed to a fever, and was keeping to her bed while sickly cream silk was cut to pattern and then fitted over the blushing bride.

She carried a bouquet of scarlet roses.

She wore a flashing emerald ring.

Engraved Tiffany bells were gifted to all the guests, complete with dates and initials: CBB & JTH, Dec. 1st, 1899.

He waited for her at the altar with his gaze fathomless and black, his hair brushed smooth, his skin and countenance still handsome but a little singed looking. She was radiant, triumphant, the dog who had its day draped in a gauzy veil and victory. She was the very epitome of a bride, and all of New York knew at whose feet they should now worship.

Blair fed the fire with letter after letter after love letter, with their binding bootlace, with that gown of her grandmother's which still held the scent of roses and ecstasy. She watched the flames leap up to consume the hand that had consumed the paper and her heart, and her eyes so dry and empty of tears that the firelight made them crackle. She watched until every last scrap had been destroyed, and then she voided her stomach over the hearthrug, responding to the nausea she now felt every morning and especially that one – the morning after Chuck's wedding, which dawned blood red in the eastern sky.

I am, as ever, grateful for and humbled by the time and love you've given me. See you at the sequel...
Thanks to:
bla-bl-bl, Maribells, katharienne, flipped, Laura, chantibeblogging, Cb, BeautifullyExcruciatingLove, Kate2008, dreamgurl, thegoodgossipgirl, Lalai, Eternally Romantic, Krazy4Spike, CBBW3words8letters, EK, SaturnineSunshine, Arazadia, Lucy.Q, purple-passionate, , yahaira, Trosev, Blood Red Kiss of Death, GEH, ChairLuver, drewiswickedcool, fiona249, ParfaitCherie, avrilk, BellaB2010, Whatevergirl1985, L, loveyouforever77 and BW.