Ava prepares for her wedding, her nerves set in and she receives something old
The Morning Of…
It’s been an hour or so since Athanasios left. I crawled to what was his side of the bed and lay there, in his scent and warmth, dozing on and off. After an hour, I can hear Aunt Em moving around, then Alison and Eunice knock, entering my room.
Marry him. I close my eyes. Last night, we slept in the same bed, nothing more. Tonight… My nerves take hold, anticipating what tonight will bring.
“What’s bothering you, sister mine?” She asks and she closes the door to keep Eunice contained, affording us some privacy. I try a few times to tell her, but I can’t get the words out.
“Ah… being with him?” She asks, tucking my hair behind my ears. I nod and sigh.
“I’ve heard so many stories, of knots and things,” I blurt out. Alison chuckles, but not cruelly.
“Ava, let me tell you when a shifter male does it right, it’s magical. More so when they’re fated and you join in all ways.” She stands up but still looks at me laying in bed. “As for knots, that’s a wolf shifter thing, not a Dragon thing. Dragons lay eggs, so he’s not likely to do anything to you like…” she leans in, lowering her voice, so her daughter doesn’t hear, “knotting you. Which, when it’s done, is beautiful, intense and deeply arousing,” she grins. “So, come on… Or I’ll make you say ‘I do’ where you are,” she threatens.
“You wouldn’t?!” I challenge, forgetting my nerves for a moment. She might be younger and more experienced in this area, but she’s not trained with the blades since… “Oh my! The blades,” I gasp. She grins.
“You get two days before you need to worry about those things. Come on, bath time!” She chimes out and Eunice claps, running to the bath and then turning to her mother, her face crestfallen. Alison laughs and then turns on the taps, making Eunice clap. I smile and climb out of bed, grabbing a dressing gown that wasn’t there before.
Starting to Prepare
It’s in a soft, heather pink, full length and silky to the touch. I sit on the edge of the bath and watch my niece play as the bubble mix is added and they begin to form. The heady smell of heather, with hints of lavender and rosemary, greets me and I smile at my sister.
“I know, but, this is special, hence the lavender,” she tells me. Eunice claps and grabs a fistful of bubbles, then she blows them into the bath. She grabs another handful and claps, sending bubbles over Alison and me.
“Eunice, enough now. This bath is for Aunt Ava,” Alison tells her and the child’s face threatens to burst into tears. “Don’t you play your face at me, young lady. This is Aunt Ava’s special bath, to make her smell even nicer for when she gets married in a few hours.”
Eunice sulks and I grin at Alison. “Never bathed with a toddler afore,” I share and Alison shakes her head.
“These scents… Athanasios asked for,” she tells me and I go wide-eyed.
“What?! Why?” I ask. Alison shrugs.
“He conveyed the message via Dad to Aunt Em. He loves the smell of rosemary, apparently. Heather, I knew you’d pick but it was missing something… so I tried a few and found a tiny drop or two of lavender worked with both.” I smile at her, thanking her quietly.
Eunice is promised a bath in her own room once I’ve had mine and for half an hour, Alison stays with me, watching Eunice blow the bubbles everywhere she can. Alison looks up as Aunt Em comes in and Alison smiles at me, kissing me gently on my cheek.
“Soon, sister mine,” she says and calls for her daughter, leaving Aunt Em and I alone. I climb out as Eunice goes to her mother and I help clear up while wrapped in a fluffy white towel. Aunt Em motions for me to follow and she takes me to the main room. Then, she tells me to close my eyes and I do, for a moment, before she tells me to open them again.
Hanging up is my mother’s wedding dress. White with the external corset with gold trim. I’d heard of it, growing up, but I’d never seen it. Until now.
I’m not sure how long I stand, just looking at the dress, but Aunt Em has to call my name several times before I focus on her.
“Let’s get you fed, before we get ready, okay?” She tells me and I nod.
Hours later, after food and being poked and preened, I’m ready to step into my mother’s dress.
As I do so, something… wonderful happens. Aunt Em calls to me, but next to her is my mother; her sister.
“Hello, Ava my darling,” she says, speaking as if she’s not been dead for eighteen years.
“Mum,” I whisper which makes Aunt Em freeze.
“Is Ailith here?” Em asks and I nod, still mesmerized by my mother being here, today of all days. Then I grab Aunt Em’s hand, hoping she can see her sister. “I can’t see her Ava, I’m sorry honey. She must be here just for you,” Aunt Em says and sits down on the bed.
“Ava, I don’t have long darling. Just, know I am here for you, today, as I often am. He was sent, for you; you deserve it this lifetime. Know I love you!” She fades as if the sun rippled through the tree and I gasp as she vanishes from sight.
Aunt Em doesn’t say anything, she just holds me, both of us unable to keep the tears at bay.
An hour later, dad is at my bedroom door and once again, my nerves take hold. Like a breeze, my mother’s voice calls to me, reminding me to breathe.
Dad looks at me.
“Was that… Ailith?” He asks and I give him a slight nod. He holds his arms out for me and I embrace him, despite my anger at his attitude and his demeanour, he is still my father.
“Twice today,” I tell him and he nods.
“She’d want to be here, we missed…” He doesn’t need to say he wasn’t there for Alison’s. I can sense mum was there though, somehow.
“Are you ready?” He asks and I nod. I’m as ready as I am ever going to be, nerves be damned now. I turn at the sound of fabric rustling against the floor to see my sister, her daughter and a man I do not know, waiting for me.
“Ava, meet Charlie, your brother-in-law,” she turns to the man beside her, dressed formally in Highland dress. “Charlie, my sister, Ava,” she smiles and before I know it, he’s hugging me too.
“Archie, we need to get going,” Charlie states and my father extends his arm for me to take. It’s time.