Arm in arm Vyse and Aika strode forward towards the altar. There the Holy Man awaited the young couple, ready to commence the ritual. Vyse's heart pounded in a way it had never pounded before. Friends for all their lifes, soon they would be wed… to each other. Bonded together forever.
Vyse turned his gaze to his wife-to-be. Aika glowed with joy. Her happiness shone just as much as a ship's lantern at night. She was about to set sail on the ocean of love, with him at her side.
They reached the small altar, then knelt down.
"Vyse," Aika said, in a low tone. "Before we do this, there's something you must know."
"What?" Vyse asked.
"YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP!"
With a sudden jerk, Vyse awoke. The room lay in darkness, dimly illuminated by the moon's shine. It was probably in the middle of the night.
Aika's gibberish still lingered in his ears, almost as if it had awoken him. It had all felt so real, as dreams did. Just one moment ago he had been about to get married. With Aika! A very strange dream indeed, especially now when…
"Vyse, what is it?" said Fina's voice, just next to him, worried.
"Nothing," Vyse yawned. "Just a weird dream."
"Was it a nightmare?"
"Nah, just strange."
They tucked in again, their heads resting on the comfy pillows, wrapped in the cream soft covering.
"Good night, Vyse," Fina whispered.
"'Night, Fina," Vyse mumbled.
The mists of sleep disappeared at once as Vyse's muddled mind caught up with reality. With a surprised shout, Vyse rolled over and ended up in a heap down on the floor.
"What are YOU doing here!"
Fina sat up, her back against the wall. She was dressed in her regular white nightgown, and a guilty face.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Vyse," Fina said. "It's just that earlier this night I... I read that book I had borrowed from Aika and..."
"You mean that horror book which you should only read in full daylight?" Vyse asked knowingly. "Didn't I warn you?"
"Yes that one, and now I understand what you meant. I took a quick read, and before I knew it I couldn't put it away. After that, I just didn't dare go to sleep. Not alone. If you hadn't been sleeping, I would of course have asked. But I was going to leave before you awoke, or so I thought."
"Couldn't you've just gone over to Aika?"
"Yes, but… from what I understand, that wouldn't be proper."
"But this is?"
"Her… the word is fiancée, is it not?"
"Oh, yeah." Vyse slapped himself over the forehead. "I forgot."
One week left until the wedding. He had arrived last night from his journey to find 'the perfect wedding-gift' as he said. For now they shared Aika's room, but soon they might get something bigger. Kirala had promised to give a helping build-hand.
"Would you like me to leave?" Fina asked.
"Well, it's okay with me," Vyse said. "If you stay, I mean. But someone else might be ticked."
"Who? Oh, don't worry; he knows you and I are friends."
It seemed like Fina wasn't totally one-hundred percent on what to do or not to do with a guy-friend while being engaged, even though she was grass widow for the time being. But if Fina needed Vyse's help with anything, he'd do it. Just like he always did. But he'd never thought that would involve sharing his bed with her.
"If you say so."
Fina smiled in relief and rolled over to the right to make room for Vyse. He crept down in the bed just next to her. The bed was for one person only, but it didn't matter much. It felt nice, cosy, and even safe to have her near.
Whoa there, Vyse thought. Easy now.
Well, Fina's darling sweetheart could file a complaint after he had been wed to his beloved one. Both end and means were quite innocent. All Vyse was doing was helping Fina get a good night's sleep. He was not taking advantage of neither the situation nor her. And this wasn't the first time Vyse had…
"What are you thinking?" Fina asked, noticing Vyse's suppressed smile.
"Well," Vyse started. "It was some years ago, back on Pirate Isle. Aika was over at my place for a sleep-over. That night there was a thunderstorm going on, and back then she was really scared of lightning. She couldn't sleep in her own bed so I… well, I couldn't refuse since she never asked."
"It must be wonderful to have such nice memories," Fina said. "For such a long time. I wish…"
Her voice died out, as if she had fallen asleep. But Vyse saw Fina's wide awake eyes, and they had turned…
"What were you going to say?"
"Nothing. It's just…" Fina looked away. "I have…"
"You've what?" Vyse asked. "What is it? You looked sad."
"… I've wished I lived with you and Aika when I was little."
No matter how close friends they all were, she had come in much later. But as far as Vyse and Aika were concerned, that didn't matter the slightest bit. Did she feel a certain distance from them? Fina had never complained about her earlier life at the Silver Shrine, but he knew it hadn't been easy for her.
"It's nothing wrong making a wish," Vyse said. "It would've been great if you'd lived with us. But the most important thing is that you're here now, and that you came to us. You were well worth waiting for. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. He can be very happy for having you."
Fina's pretty smile returned. Carefully she brought out her hand and stroked Vyse on his cheek.
"Thank you," Fina whispered. "Much will change soon, but you'll always be special for me."
Everything sorted out, they lay down, closed their eyes and let themselves be carried away to the realm of sleep. It didn't take long before Fina fell into a calm and peaceful slumber. Vyse glanced at her, listened to her soft rhythmic breathing, sensing and feeling her presence. She was such a pretty sight Vyse couldn't hold back a smile.
Fina and Aika sure stood on the threshold of a new start in life. And if the guys didn't make their girls happy; Vyse would have a private conversation with them both. Cutlasses unsheathed of course.
Many thanks to user 'SPG inc' for proof-reading.