The wedding date is set, and the arrangements proceed apace. It will be a
civil ceremony. Both Jarlath and Astra are Christians - at least
nominally - whilst Annafrid as far as she knows has no religion at all.
Though the Church is rather less strict
on matters of sexual morality than it is on our own world, it can't be
seen to condone bigamy by allowing a church ceremony. Fortunately for the
however, there is nothing in Aqualarian law to forbid such a marriage as
As the big day draws near, Jarlath begins to suspect that Astra and Annafrid are up to something. Several times he notices them having a whispered conversation in a quiet corner, with much giggling. When they notice him, they fall silent, and won't tell him what they have been talking about.
The wedding day dawns warm and sunny. In accordance with tradition, Jarlath is not allowed to see either Astra or Annafrid prior to the ceremony. To him, the day seems to drag, but eventually the appointed time arrives. The guests take their seats in the main hall of Castle D'Honaire, where the marriage is to take place. Then Jarlath and his father (who is acting as his best man, in accordance with Allarian custom) take their places, standing in front of the officiating registrar.
The ceremony follows Allarian practice in another respect, in that the groom waits for the bride(s) to arrive rather than vice versa (as would normally be the practice in Aqualaria). Before long the two brides enter the hall, one on Anina's right arm and one on her left (for Anina, as Astra's adoptive parent, is giving both girls away). Many of the guests have seen some unusual weddings in their time, but nevertheless there is a low murmur of surprise for a second or two.
Astra and Annafrid are wearing identical white lace dresses which are very beautiful. Each dress has a tight-boned corset which compresses the waist. Long skirts billow out and down to the ground. Both women's heads are topped with a crown of white velvet roses.
However, none of this is the reason for the guests' - and Jarlath's - astonishment. At a distance the girls could pass for identical twins! The bodice of Astra's dress has been padded out so that her bust appears equally as impressive as Annafrid's, whilst Annafrid has dyed her hair red and had it cut in the same style as Astra's. Though Annafrid's feet can't be seen beneath her dress, Jarlath realises that she must be wearing very high heels, as she would ordinarily be some four inches shorter than Astra but now she appears the same height. Only the two girls' different facial features enable Jarlath to tell them apart.
"We felt that both brides should be seen to be equal," Astra whispers to him as she reaches his side, grinning broadly. "We did think of getting one of the mages to cast an illusion spell to make the resemblance perfect, but we decided that would be going a bit too far," Annafrid says with a smile.
12/22/2000 7:38:40 AM
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