*PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU RE PLANNING ON READING CRUEL BEAUTY*
Sunlight seeps through the gap between the curtains and falls upon my eyes. The birds outside the window sing their sweet melodic tune and I sigh at the peacefulness of it all. Although the curse The Kindly Ones bestowed upon us has been broken for over a month now, I still, along with, the entire kingdom of Arcadia, smile with delight when the radiant heat of the fire that hangs in the sky like a Hermetic lamp, hits my face. I roll over and find Lux still deep in his dreams. As I watch the rise and fall of his chest, I realize how simple and tranquil my life is now.
“I Love you Dear, but will you please stop watching me while I sleep.” Lux’s deep voice catches me off guard.
“Oh! I’m sorry shall I just walk to the kitchen and slave away in there to cook you a lovely breakfast while you fall back into your dreams?” I tease.
Lux turns on his side and stares into my eyes, his face serious. “You are my dreams, and my desires, and my world, but most of all you are my reality. If one day I do have a dream that I wish to come true, I will wake up and realize that everything I will ever want or need is lying in my bed next to me. Don’t you ever forget that.” He gently leans in and places a kiss upon my forehead.
I can only form three words after that. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” Lux whispers in my ear. “However a cooked breakfast does sound good though.”
“That is never going to happen.”
Lux grins. “No, I didn’t think so, but it was worth a try.”
We lay there for a while, heads touching, wrapped in each other’s arms. When suddenly Lux pulls away and sits up.
“We should get married.” Lux declares.
“You forget Dear, we are already married.” I respond.
“Yes, but I wasn’t there. Technically you married a stone man. This wedding would actually mean something. We will stand upon the tithe-rock, give our vows, we may even write our own if we like, and after the ceremony is over we shall celebrate with the people of our kingdom and dance, and eat and live life like it is supposed to be lived!”
“I think it is too late to start following the rules of life now. We may have lost our chance at that a long time ago.” Lux leapt out of the covers, walked round to my side of the bed and knelt down in front of me.
“Nyx Triskelion, will you do me the honour of becoming my wife? Not the way we are right now with only papers and signatures to document our matrimony, but with songs and dances and vows and all of the little things that will make our love known to the world. We will have the birds soaring above us in the ocean, we call the sky, and the people of the earth wearing ribbons in their hair and gold chains dangling from their necks to bear witness as I become yours and you become mine. As we become one. Will you marry me?”
“Yes.” It only comes out as a whisper, and I am surprised I even managed that. I believe Lux heard me though, for in an instant his lips are upon mine and we become lost in our own little world.
I sit in front of the mirror as my sister, Astraia, ties my hair up with delicate pins; each one decorated with a miniature ruby. I close my eyes and think back to the first time I ever met Lux. Although I didn’t call him Lux, back then his name was Ignifex and he was trapped, just like the rest of the kingdom by The Kindly Ones and their curse. I cannot believe that after all we have been through Lux and I managed to find love. I remember once, while lounging on the couch in the library, Lux recited a poem.
Thunderous nights and perilous dreams,
Will make the beast begin to scream,
Come save me dear!
Come rescue thy!
The darkness starts to fill the sky,
It crawls and creeps from deep beneath,
The children start to bite with teeth,
The black begins to burn my skin,
The world starts to slowly spin,
Its faster now the light is dim,
Survival’s looking pretty grim
You’ll be safe my dear, it’s quite alright,
But I think it’s time to say Goodnight.
At first I was going to ask Lux, who wrote the poem, but I realized he did. To others, it may be a poem of a mad man speaking of his bizarre fears, or of a man dying and saying that his wife will be okay, but to us it is the Children of Typhon and how, unsuspectingly while almost killing Lux in the process they were the beginning of our love for each other.
Once Astraia is finished with my hair I take a look in the mirror. She has intricately woven miniature roses and ruby pins throughout a long braid that begins on the right side of my head weaves all the way over to the left and falls into loose curls that hang over my shoulder. I stand up and Astraia helps with my wedding dress. Lux chose my dress secretly, so I have no idea what it looks like. I silently worry that I will hate it. Once it is fastened at the back with an array of scarlet ribbons, I position myself in front of the mirror to look at the dress.
Without meaning to, I let out an involuntary gasp. Oh Lux, you can write poetry, serve the Kindly Ones, make me fall in love with you, and you can even pick the perfect wedding dress for your bride. What can you not do? I feel as if I do not deserve you. You wrote and memorized your vows not even a month before the wedding and now, standing here, I have nothing I can say.
The white dress hugs me until it reaches my waist, where it then floats down to the floor elegantly. Rising up like flames across the bodice is an eloquent design of red lace. It curls around my shoulders and reaches down to my waist like leaves falling in autumn. The mesmerizing detailed stitching of delicate roses that climb across my back like the roses that scale our courtyard wall is astonishing.
I am beautiful.
Astraia places my veil over my head and makes sure it stays in place by attaching a garland of roses to it.
I ride a carriage to the village where a sea of villagers was waiting to greet me. The sound of violins playing my favourite song fills the air, and then the crowd dispersed, leaving in their wake a path leading up to the tithe-rock. Standing upon the rock was Lux. He turned around to face me, and at that exact same moment the sun appeared from behind a cloud and sunlight illuminated Lux’s body. He looks like an angel. No he is an angel, and he is about to become mine.
As I take my place beside Lux, I look into his eyes, and his face breaks into a large grin that grows all the way up to his eyes. I cannot help but smile too.
The ceremony begins and my father, before witnesses gives me up freely to Lux and wishes us a life full of happiness and joy. Then the maidens of the village sing hymns to Hera and Artemis. After the hymns, we gave each other a gift. Lux took my hand in his then places a ring on my finger. I look down and saw that it was a gold ring, of small size that was engraved with a rose vine wrapping itself around it. Right in the middle was a ruby that glistened when the light hit it. I have never seen such a beautiful piece of jewelry in all my life. It makes my gift seem meager in comparison. Astraia passes a box into my hands, that holds Lux’s gift inside. I open the box and take out the gift with care. It is a golden chain of long length, that stops right at his heart. Dangling from the chain is a golden key with a ruby heart embedded in it.
“In our last house you had a key for each room, and only let me in a few. This key is the only key that you will need in our new house and that is the key to my heart.”
“I love you.” Lux whispers, so only I can hear.
“I love you too.” I reply.
We drink from the same cup of wine, Lux holds the cup while I drink. Finally it is time for the vows that will bind us together. Usually we would recite pre-written vows that have couples have been saying for centuries, but since we are technically married, we decided to write our own. Lux says his first.
“The first time I laid my eyes upon you, I knew you were the one. I knew this because of your fiery soul, your loving heart, your deceptive mind and most importantly, even though all of Arcadia loved me with fear, you were the only one that loved me with love.” Lux leaned down and kissed my hand that was clasped in his.
After almost a month of worrying about my vows, I finally know what to say. I take a shuddering breath and speak.“The first time we were married, I was trying to plunge a dagger through your heart any time your back was turned.” I smile at Lux. “After a while though, I learned that killing you would leave a hole in my heart, and would be the death of me.”I take a deep breath. “We may still be foolish, and vicious and cruel, and we never try too hard to be cheerful,” I look up into his eyes and the rest of the world disappears, except for the light of the sun shining down on us, “But I know we have finally learned how to love.”
Lux envelops me in his arms and we are lost in our kiss.