I had another shock just now, and I’m still working out what to do about it.
Terrael was not at breakfast. Audryn and Sovrin were at our usual spot when I arrived. Audryn looked radiantly happy. I hoped I didn’t. I hadn’t decided if I should tell them what had passed between me and Cederic. Sovrin I could trust not to give me away, but Audryn has a very expressive face, and while she would carry my secret to her grave as far as telling anyone went, I wasn’t sure she could keep her face under control.
So I decided first to tackle Audryn, who at least knew that I knew something had happened. “Well?” I said.
Audryn grinned and hugged me. “Thank you for interfering in our business,” she said. “I can’t believe neither of us knew what the other was feeling. Who knows how long that might have gone on?”
“And they spent the night together. The whole night,” Sovrin said with a meaningful smirk.
“I don’t know what that means in your culture,” I said, trying not to blush.
“It means they’re married,” Sovrin said, and Audryn blushed harder than I was trying not to. “Married, but without the public vowing, of course.”
“Married,” I said.
“It’s symbolic of the commitment you make to each other,” Audryn said. “Because you’re most vulnerable when you’re sleeping, and sharing a bed with someone means you trust that person with your safety, physical and spiritual.”
“I see,” I said.
“And every day is a new beginning,” Sovrin said, “so waking together is like a promise to meet the future as one.”
“That’s…beautiful,” I said. “So what are the public vows for, if you’re already married?”
“That’s the legal commitment,” Audryn said. “You speak them in front of a priest during a special ceremony and they grant certain legal and social rights. Who knows if that will even be possible for us any time soon, what with everything that’s happening! But we didn’t think we should wait, given how uncertain the future is. Like you said, Sesskia, we don’t want to waste any more time.”
“That makes sense,” I said, but my voice sounded distant to me, because I felt as if I might fall over if someone breathed on me the wrong way. He sees us as married. He’s pledged himself to me, as we’d say in Balaen.
And the shock isn’t that he took that step without explaining it to me first, which bothers me a little—the shock is that it doesn’t bother me more. That the idea of being married to Cederic, even so soon, fills me with joy. Maybe it’s like Audryn said, that we don’t know how much time we have, but I want nothing more than to be with him for the rest of my life, even if that’s only a few more weeks. I am his foundation, and he is mine.
I don’t have more time before I have to be in the circle chamber, or I would write about re-reading my early entries in the other book and laughing over how much Cederic annoyed me. I’m nervous on his behalf right now, wondering how he’s going to behave to Vorantor, how he’s going to reclaim his reputation. But Cederic is the greatest mage living—I don’t think it’s just my love for him saying that—and he won’t let Vorantor’s pride and jealousy stop him from saving as much of this world as he can. He might even manage to save some of mine as well.