A bunch of authors from the QUILTBAG Historicals Facebook group have gotten together to try to brighten this dark midwinter time with some posts based (loosely) on The Twelve Days of Christmas. There's also a fantastic giveaway, which you can enter here!
Today is the fifth day, which means gold rings, and in my post, gold rings mean a wedding. This one is Edmund and Arden's wedding in A Harmony of Fire and Earth:
“Your Highnesses?” the priest asked. “Are you ready?”
Edmund smiled. “More than. Arden?”
Arden reached up and settled his hands on Edmund’s shoulders. He looked into Edmund’s eyes. Arden’s green gaze was serious and searching—though for what Edmund wasn’t sure—and worry twisted in Edmund’s stomach. But then it softened, became achingly tender. Something turned over inside Edmund, and he was amazed once more that this man loved him, would be his. And he would be Arden’s.
Arden nodded, as if Edmund had said something, answered whatever question Arden had. He smoothed his hands down the front of Edmund’s jacket. “Yes, we’re ready.”
They didn’t take their eyes off each other as the doors were opened once more; Edmund was caught in Arden’s green gaze. He could have imagined them all alone, could have wished it, but he barely noticed anyone except Arden anyway.
“Shall we?” Arden asked in a whisper.
“Yes. Let’s get married.”
They walked through the doors into the temple proper side by side, arm in arm.
Edmund should be paying attention to the people who lined the aisle of the crowded temple, but the faces were a blur. Everything was a blur, indistinct, unreal—everything except Arden. They walked the long aisle together and up the three steps to where the priest and priestess waited at the altar. Kerenza and Ciaran stood on the second step. Neither Edmund nor Arden had made politically expedient choices in their witnesses, nor did they care.
The priest and priestess began the ceremony. Edmund’s heart was racing; he could barely hear what they said, but he stared into Arden’s eyes, reading the emotion there, the fight not to let too much of it overflow—which Edmund shared. They were in full view of a court who thought their marriage a political matter, and, sadly, too many people would seize upon excessive displays of emotion as a weakness.
It didn’t matter so much, though, because he was marrying Arden. Edmund’s feelings for Arden were not things he needed to showcase or have judged by the members of his father’s court, by diplomats and nobility and dignitaries invited to the wedding because of their titles not their relationship to Edmund. He loved Arden, and Arden loved him. Nothing else mattered.
They said their vows to each other and exchanged rings—bands of gold set with diamonds and pearls, made new for them instead of taken from Edmund’s family’s collection. He’d wanted new for this new beginning. He slid Arden’s ring on with hands that trembled only slightly. Edmund wanted this so much, wanted Arden forever so very much. All that want had him nearly vibrating out of his own skin.
Arden’s hands were cool and sure as he placed Edmund’s ring on his finger, his voice even and strong as he recited his vows. He kept hold of Edmund’s hand after. Edmund couldn’t remember if they were supposed to, and he couldn’t much care—Arden’s hand in his felt right. Arden gave him a small smile, just a slight curve of his lips, but for Edmund alone.
About A Harmony of Fire and Earth
Prince Edmund of Thalassa and Prince Arden of Aither are eagerly anticipating their upcoming wedding, but the danger to their kingdom hasn’t lessened. They have a plan, but they won’t be able to carry it out alone: they need a strong wielder of each Element, whom they can trust implicitly, to carry out the magic.
Rhys is a commoner and wielder of Earth magic. He and his sister have made a living from the use of their magic for years and have become highly respected in scholarly circles, though he prefers a more simple life with his plants. When a message from Prince Arden reaches them asking for their help, they don’t hesitate. They stop only to request that Gaz, a strong Fire wielder and the man Rhys has long been enamored of, accompany them on the journey to Thalassa’s royal palace.
What no one knows is that Gaz was once known as Prince Gareth of Thalassa and is Edmund’s younger brother, long believed dead. He fled his home after his Fire Affinity made itself known and put him in danger, and he had no intention of ever going back. But he can’t keep himself from going to his brother’s aid, despite the risk of discovery and of the weight of his secrets potentially crushing his fledgling relationship with Rhys.
Working against time, they must find a way to come together in a magical working the likes of which none of them has ever imagined, or their homelands will surely burn.
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