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Snippet from a wedding story

I was feeling self-indulgent. Char and Garma are getting married. Char has stopped denying he's a deeply messed-up kid from being raised to kill a whole family and is in serious therapy. It's the night before their wedding.

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As Char fretted himself to sleep, Garma was having similar problems. He was installed in what had once been his bedroom in his father’s enormous suite. The walls were the same colour and the furniture was in the same place, but it didn’t feel “his” anymore without posters and musical instruments around the place. “His” place had been the apartment at the end of the residential wing. Garma’s things had been moved into the flat he and Char would occupy starting on their wedding night, but the apartment at the other end of the wing still felt like “his” place because Char was there. He’d heard of love being the condition where one’s true home was another person, but Garma hadn’t ever thought he’d experience it .

He thought about sneaking out of the suite—something he’d been adept at doing when he’d lived with his father—and running down the hall to where Char was. Garma mentally stomped on the idea. This night was different, and being away from Char now was like skipping lunch so as to be ready for an anticipated special dinner.

Still, Garma felt very alone. He didn’t feel alone on those weeknights when he and Char slept apart, but at that moment, he felt isolated on the longest night in history.

“That tears it,” Garma muttered to himself and swung his feet out of the single bed to the floor. He grabbed his pillow (he always carried the same one with him to wherever he was staying) and went down the hall to his father’s room . He could see a light on under the door, so he knocked.

“Come in,” his father’s voice rumbled.

Garma did, feeling as if he must look ten years old, dressed in plaid pajama bottoms and a Zum City Jazz Festival 0078 t-shirt. “I can’t sleep.”

“Neither can I.” Degin was sitting up in bed in his pajamas, his worn olivewood rosary in his hands.

“Sorry, Dad, I didn’t know you were praying.”

“It’s all right.” He patted the empty side of the bed and finished his set of ten as Garma curled up and arranged his pillow. Once the beads were stashed in his bedside drawer, Degin said, “It’s not unusual at all for a young groom to be anxious the night before his wedding. Are you nervous about the ceremony or the marriage, or both?”

“I’m worried about Char. He’s so fragile, Dad. His psyche’s like an eggshell. I’m worried about him getting through the wedding and the festivities afterwards. There’s so much that could set him off. Plus the constant public scrutiny is hard on people who are psychologically healthy.”

“I think he’ll feel safer afterwards,” Degin said. “The public eye also means that he knows that they watch how we treat him. And he’ll be with you, which seems to be what matters.” He shook his head. “I always knew I should have taken in Zeon’s widow and children, but I thought it would look suspicious. Little did I know.”

“And I’m also wondering if I’m old enough for this.”

Degin reached down and stroked Garma’s hair. “Unfortunately, so am I. But it is what it is, and that’s why I’m praying.”

Garma closed his eyes. “I think I might be able to sleep now.”

“Good. It’s after midnight. “ Degin turned off his bedside light and pulled the covers up to Garma’s shoulder. “Sleep well, tesoro mio.”

Garma heard Degin open the drawer again and the soft click of the beads. He drifted off to his father’s whispers, and found his own lips moving to “Santa Maria, Madre di Dio,
prega per noi peccatori,” as sleep engulfed him.


The morning light awakened Garma naturally. It was earlier than he needed to rise, he saw, but his father was already out of the room, so he followed. Degin was watching out the window, not leaning on his cane as much as he sometimes did. Garma had learned over the years that this meant Degin was feeling more lighthearted than usual, so he came to his father’s side to see what he was looking at.

“I daresay you and Char are the most adored young men in the country,” Degin observed. Garma smiled a little, seeing where Giren had gotten his habit of making a statement rather than saying “Hello,” or “Good morning.” He looked down and felt his mouth go dry.

“Is that all for us?”

Degin nodded. Garma pressed his hands against the window, staring in disbelief at what looked like millions of people crowded around the palace fence. He could vaguely hear the susurration of their voices and read large handmade signs with messages like GARMA + CHAR = <3 and the like. He sat down.

“There’s coffee,” Degin told him.

“Shall I send for breakfast?” a servant seated in the corner of a room asked.

“Yes, please. My usual.”

“Veggie scramble, wholegrain toast,” Garma said.

After that, Garma’s morning went the same as Char’s. He showered, shaved and brushed his teeth. He wore one of his father’s dressing gowns as a stylist trimmed, brushed, and sprayed his hair. He was used to being dressed in formal attire, so there was no hesitation as he stepped into his trousers and let the wardrobe servants put the rest of his uniform on.

Finally, he too stood ready for the wedding. Garma’s uniform was identical in cut and style to Char’s, but his tunic and trousers were snowy white, his cape and panels dove-grey with gold embroidery. He’d decided not to wear a sword.

“Your Majesty, Your Highness, the Princess Kishira and party,” the door guard announced.
Kishiria strode in, her hip-length red hair flowing loose behind her. She had opted for civilian clothes for this, and was dressed in a raw silk suit in a subdued reddish-brown. She was also trailed by what Char referred to as The Irish Cousins, a pack of Nalisse Zabi’s relatives who appeared to have already been into the whiskey.

“Garma, you look gorgeous!” Kishiria gushed as she came over to him. She started to hug him, thought better of it, and kissed his cheek instead.

“Thank you,” he said, as cell phone cameras flashed at him.

“You keep those off the internet!” Kishiria roared. “Nobody sees what he looks like until he reaches the church!”

“’Tis bad luck,” one of the female Cousins agreed.

“No sending them when I arrive, either,” Garma said. “I don’t want the population seeing my relatives texting in church.”

“But it’s a Protestant church,” one argued.

“I wasn’t going to say it,” Degin added from his armchair.

“It’s High Anglican,” Garma protested. “It’s not like I’m being married by—“

“Wiccans,” said a Cousin.

“Hey, I’m a Wiccan, you gombeen man,” riposted another.

“Scientologists.”

“Qabbala Centrists.”

“Those Catholic Traditionalists who split off from the Society of St Pius IX who married cousin Gertie.”

“I was just going to say ‘Baptists’ myself,” Kishiria concluded. Everyone agreed that Baptists would indeed be intolerable. Someone offered Garma a mouthful from a hip flask. Garma agreed.

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charxgarma
Zeon Military Academy

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