Chapter 18 Part 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2
The Mothers were nothing if not efficient. Twenna found herself packed and ready to go in two days, her gray uniform returned to the laundry and her fine clothes from her former life sold in exchange for four plain dresses, two of cotton and two of wool, and a warm wool cloak; she kept her beautiful underthings, stowed these last spokes in a paper box under her bed. The Captain paid for her to keep her sturdy gray shawl, her Mother's House underthings, her boots, Rikki's clothes, his sling and a supply of diapers. "I will buy you more when we are in Hawksfield, my dear, but this will do for now."
The young Father who worked as the Mother's Temple liaison officiated at the wedding, a small affair held in the Mother's House chapel. "Obedience, humility, fidelity," Father Nino chanted as he helped Lorrenz tie the marriage cord round her left wrist--expensive, fine silken cord, many-stranded and braided in bright colors. Lorrenz tucked the end into the sleeve of her new fawn-colored dress: "I'll not lead you through the streets by it all the way back to Hawksfield, I promise," he winked, and she smiled.
Twenna made her goodbyes in the main hall now, a carpet bag at her feet and the cheerful Rikki kicking his legs in her new husband's arms. "Don't forget me," said Meggan, kissing her cheek and hugging her with her free arm.
"How could I ever forget you!" said Twenna, kissing Meggan in return. "You're the best--no, you're the only real friend I've ever had! I shall write, I promise." She kissed Connia's fuzz-covered head. "Be good, little bunny." She didn't know whether to cry tears of relief or regret as they walked from the Mother's House, through the Temple and onto the street, the Captain carrying her carpet bag and she carrying Rikki re-wrapped in her woolen shawl and a blanket, a soft white bonnet trimmed in pale yellow ribbons on his round little head. Lorrenz hired a cab and they trundled off to the post house to begin their long journey northeast into Barle and Captain Marr's new command. His daughter Mellit had gone ahead with Twenna's maid Wendia, newly recalled to service; Wendia would make the garrison commander's house fit to live in before the newlyweds arrived.
"I, ah, I must be honest with you, Twenna, now that we're married," said the Captain, fidgeting against the cab's firmly-stuffed seats.
Twenna tried to ignore the cold, trembling fingers stealing over her heart. "Please, sir, I hope you shall always feel you may tell me anything."
"Well…I don't wish to mislead you as to the kind the life we shall have in Hawksfield. You see, I've done myself up very nicely," he said, indicating his uniform, "and I'm afraid I indulged myself in the matter of our marriage cord."
Twenna touched the silk at her wrist; the cold fingers around her heart paused in confusion. "I'm not sure I understand."
"What I'm trying to say is, I am not a rich man. I've presented myself perhaps as having more money than I do in an effort to impress. You are used to far, far better than I can provide. Not that I am poor, not at all," he hastened. "I just don't wish to mislead you. My pay as a commander is not magnificent, but I have a family annuity as well. You will always have a good solid roof over your head, a cook, a footman and a girl of all work not including your Wendia, but I can't afford to keep my own carriage. And I can't afford many silk dresses, though you shall have at least one. I am sorry you could not keep the one you had. You were very beautiful in it, but I thought it might contain too many memories."
Twenna cast her mind back. She hadn't worn that dress since she'd arrived at the Mother's House. When could he have seen her in it?
His Farr's knot bobbed as he cleared his throat, rippling up and down his solid neck. "Which brings me to my last confession." He held her hands between his own, so large they made hers look childlike. "I have loved you since the first moment I saw you. You would not have noticed me, but I was quite close by many times. I was one of the King's Own in His Majesty's personal escort--we're trained to fade into the background. I was already on my way to becoming Chief Commander of the King's Own itself some day. When you…when Nerrik was born, I heard you'd come to the Mother's House. I gave up my position in the King's Own and applied to become Commander at Hawksfield in the hope that you would marry me. If you would, then I wanted to take you away from here, away from bad memories and staring eyes. If you wouldn't, then I wanted to be as far away as possible, for fear I might see you again and my heart crack wide open in grief."
Astonished tears filled Twenna's eyes, and the icy fingers melted. "Lorrenz--!"
"I know you don't love me yet, but I hope some day you may...that some day you may forget the King and love me instead."
Twenna reversed their hand clasp to wrap hers around his. "I'm not very clever as you may know, Lorrenz, but I will try to be a good wife to you, and I will try so very hard to love you."