John came in and asked Astila if he had a suit.
"Yes, sir I do. I have to have one for when I teach." He looks at the older gentleman in curiosity.
" I suggest you go get changed. That is if you want to be able to live as a husband to my niece until the wedding." He winks starts him and goes to set the chairs up outside. He hears a lot of commotion coming from the upstairs. Peaking in on the girls in Aisling's room. He sees them pulling the trunks from the secret room. He thought that no one really knew about them. Then he hears one of the girls tell her that she would have never guessed that even existed. Just then Debra comes out.
"Astila do you mind if I get the emeralds from your room," she whispers it very quietly she doesn't want anyone to know that there are any other rooms. He nods and they head to his room. Once inside she goes to get them out. He asks her
"What is going on? We can't get married without my family."
"Your not we are having a handfasting. It's an Irish custom. The couple can live together as if they are married for up to a year. If they have this ceremony. Since Auntie Norma and Uncle John have agreed. You guys can have the handfasting and live together. No one can then say anything about living in sin and all that stuff. Since everyone will be heard Uncle John will perform it and Aunt Norma will bless it. You both Ned to say a few vows just like a marriage. I already called Salali and Sam will be video chatting with her and Inola so they won't miss anything. The girls are going through the dresses to see if any are suitable for the Ceremony. The other aunties are getting the outside ready for it. All you have to do is change and promise to love my sister. Also, I haven't really had the chance to thank you for saving my life. I am so grateful to you. If there is anything I can ever don't hesitate to ask. With that, she hugs him and rushes back to the other room leaving him to change. Astila sits on the bed for a second in shock. He can't believe that her family is so accepting of him. He wonders if he should call his sister. Not one to second guess things he decides to call.
"Hey, it's me. Hmm, I have no idea what really going on. But after today I will be able to freely live with Aisling. They are giving us some kind of ceremony to make it ok. You thought they controlled things before. All I did was mention that I wasn't sure if I could live with her and not sleep with her. Within an hour everything was arranged. I'm basically getting married today."
Salali starts to laugh at her brother.
"Is this what you want? Do you want to live with her as her husband?"
He tells her without hesitation
"yes more than anything I have ever wanted. "
"Then you have your answer. It doesn't matter if I am there or not. This is one of their traditions so go with it. I will be there. Sam is FaceTime with me so that we can be apart of it. Then when we come we can have a Christian wedding. When you come home to introduce her to the rest of the family we can have ours. Your plans are not changing really. They are doing this for her. They know she will feel guilt and try to hide the fact that you two want to sleep together. They are just eliminating that guilt by doing this ceremony. "
Astila is much more at ease after talking to his sister and knowing that Sam will be on FaceTime with her makes him feel better. There is a knock at the door. It's John who comes to get him. Taking a deep breath he opens the door. He comes in and hands him a small bunch of carnations and shamrocks Looking at him with a puzzled look.
"It's for good luck it goes in your lapel pocket. I know we kind of ran over you two and didn't really tell you anything. When Norma called she said that she was worried that the two of you being in such close quarters. You may not be able to abstain until the wedding. So she said that this would be for the best. I know nowadays this seems the ridiculous and old fashion. It's just our way. " he puts his hand out to shake Astila's.
"I want you to know I have a lot of respect for you and I want to be the first to welcome you to the family." With that, they go outside. The back yard has been completely transformed. There are baskets of carnations lilies and shamrocks adorning the tables that have been set up. A ribbon on the ends of every row of chairs. At the end of the area in front of Aisling's rose garden is tall trellis filled with climbing roses and Cherokee roses. In every color, it seems like. He walks to stand next to John seeing a long rope of multiple colors beside him on a table wondering what that is for. He hears a fiddle playing and out walks the cousins. They have the ball gowns on. They each suit each girl perfectly. Then behind them comes Aisling walking in with Aunt Norma. She is in a white and deep green lace ball gown. It has butterflies embroidered along the hem and throughout the edging of the dress. In her hand is a matching bouquet to his lapel. Her hair is braided intricately as if she were wearing a crown. The emeralds around her neck and in her ears. She looks like a goddess. Walking towards him her eyes reflect the color of her dress. When they get to where John is standing Norma takes their hand and clasp them together. She then picks up the ribbons and starts to weave them intricately around their joined hands. She begins the ceremony.
"We come today to allow Astila and Aisling to join hands. To walk side by side into the future whatever it may bring. We are here to acknowledge their love for one another . " she ties a special knot with each line. She then looks at John signaling that it's his turn.
"Astila and Aisling I ask you to look into each other's eyes. Do you promise to love and respect each other? To do what you can to be a helpmate to one another. To be understanding and celebrate in your sameness as well as your differences. By binding your hands together. We are binding your future together. As you look into the future I pray you are blessed with happiness beyond measure. That your sorrows will be few and your joys will be plenty. " he placed his had atop of Norma's and theirs. Astila continues to look into his love's eyes.
"Aisling I have loved you since the first day I showed up here. I have never wanted to leave your side. You have become my everything."
Aisling looks at him with tears of happiness in her eyes.
"Astila I am so grateful that God saw fit to send you to me. I have wanted to hold your hand since the first day you saved me. Though I was too young at that time. I had always hoped that you would come. I was breathless when I saw you pull up in my drive. I love you and I promise to love you always."
The two elders turn to the rest of the family together they say
"Blessed be this union by the gifts of the East.
Bringing thy bountiful spirit to keep thy heart mind and body.
New love and beginning with each new sun.
Blessed be this union by the gift of the South.
The warmth of hearth and home bringing forth thy passion.
With a light to illuminate the darkest path.
Blessed be this union by the gift of the west.
The depth of thy love is like the depth of the lakes.
May it's excitement endlessly flow like the river.
May it be cleansing as the gentle rain and as passionate as the raging sea.
Blessed be this union by the gifts of the north.
A firm foundation on which to build a strong unbreakable bond. The fertility of the riches loves to enrich your lives ." They each kiss Aisling on the cheek and give Astila a hug to welcome him to the family.
John turns to them and tells everyone it's time to greet the new couple and give them their blessing.