Raissei Cora astin Velain... Dear elder sister -- we are married! We have had four wonderful weeks in Gralen and now are back in Turenay. Raisse married us on the morning of the festival day of Anshen. I need to tell about that first, and then I can tell you all about the festival, the fire, the weeks in Gralen and our homecoming in Turenay.
When we came back from the vigil at the fire, Aidan and I first went to our broomshed to change into the clothes I had made -- I later learned that white was exactly the right choice, but that I also should have made something red to wear over the white, but we could borrow that -- and Raisse came to us and took us a little way uphill, over a small path through the wood, along a brook that passes the brewery and ends in the Rycha.
At the source of the brook the path stopped, and there we stopped, too. We had to walk after each other, instead of holding hands, because the path was so narrow, but at the end, we could stand, the three of us. Raisse made us hold each other's hands, hand over hand, and there she scooped up water and poured it over our hands, singing the invocation to the Mother.
Then we had to say something to each other, and Aidan promised me that he would never desert me, and I gave myself to him, in Ilaini, but also in the court language, so all of me would be his. And now we are married! I am Aidan's wife! I'm a proper woman again now, so I can wear a scarf again, at least outside the compound, which is a relief. I had already sneakily worn a headscarf whenever I visited Erne, which nobody in Valdyas minds, fortunately, because it did help in avoiding the attentions of the men visiting the improper women. I'm also longing to wear proper Iss-Peranian court dress again... And I thought I had become fully Valdyan! Indeed, Aidan has been wondering about that, but I do not know whether any reversion into being more like Asa or Khora and less like Cora will displease my beloved lord husband. But the scarf stays. I am a proper woman again!
We were not the only ones who got married, and on our way back, we came across another couple, a woman from the brewery and a man from the village, with great-grandmother Aine who had been at another place to get married. And most of the good places near the river were already occupied, but Aidan knew a nice little clearing in the woods uphill, and we went there to be together as man and wife, for the first time. By now we know each other so well that we are together in each other's spirit when we make love, instead of one being with the other or the other way around. But it was not so much different as a great occasion, nonetheless, and we made the most of it. I am afraid I did forget to make a seal, and I love my lord and husband so much, it tends to spill out to the rest of the world, as milk that has been for too long on the fire, but there was so much midsummer loving going on that I don't think anyone noticed.
We were only just in time to make it for the procession. Jerna gaves us a red stole to wear over our white jackets -- Vurian remarked that he had worn the one Aidan was wearing when he had married Rava, twenty-two years ago. It was quite a long procession, given that there are only about two-hundred, maybe two-hundred-fifty people living in the village, and about fifty more in the farms around it. Everyone cheered for us, and at the end, in the place where we had the vigil, there were tables and benches, and a fire, and food and drink, and we, and all the village celebrated Midsummer, the festival of Anshen.
I seem to remember that there was a Guild meeting too, that day, but I cannot remember exactly when -- and it was quite boring, since all that happened was that the new apprentices (me and Lara, and someone at the brewery) were introduced, and journeyman's and master's tests were discussed. I told everyone about Ebru's journeyman's test, and also about Erian-from-Essle. It appears that he had been in Gralen, too, because he had lost his way.
The midsummer vigil was quite an occasion -- almost all of the village (except for the servants of the Deceiver, who had been invited, but had gone to Veray, as they do every year) went to the green where there was an enormous campfire, ready to be lit. Raisse and Vurian had promised me that I could light it, and I was indeed allowed to. I am not sure why I like making fire so much: there is something strangely similar to lighting fire and the art of seduction, which I am not allowed to (and should not and want not) practice any more, so maybe I like making fire because it's just the same. In any case, I asked Raisse whether I should be careful or could let go, and she said that I should decide.
So I asked everyone to step back a bit and made the fire go with all my power (although it wanted to go very much by itself, too, maybe that was Anshen, who was present), and I later heard from Lord Ervan, when he came back from Veray where he had gone to sell beer and buy things (like embroidery thread for me to use on the children's clothes) that people in Veray had seen the fire go up and had wondered whether all of Gralen was on fire. People had to bring more and more wood, but then the fire abated a bit, and we sat around the fire.
One by one the people who were not in the Guild left to go home, and in the morning the whole Guild in Gralen was waiting for the sun to rise.
And then the long, lazy days and weeks really began. I did not know I could be that lazy! It's true that after a day or two, when all the needlework in the repair basket was finished, I asked Jerna whether I might be allowed to make new smocks, skirts and trousers for the children, which she allowed me to do, using the common stock of linen and the cloth in the scraps basket, so I spent most afternoons sitting under the chestnut tree sewing. I think most of the brewery children and also Rava's children now have one or two things I've made for them. There was a six-year old girl called Aine who took to sitting with me and making little things for her doll.
While I was doing nothing in the afternoons, Aidan was busy helping out in the brewery, cleaning tuns, mashing grain, loading and unloading the carts -- doing all kinds of hot, sweaty work, which made it very fortunate that I had learned to swim, since he liked to go for a bath in the river before dinner, together. Now we're back, he can come home soaked with sweat from the fencing (which starts again tomorrow), and I will be able to enjoy it and wash him properly again.
For I have learned to swim! It was a bit of a bother at first, since all the boys from the brewery had told their friends from the village, and the the third morning that Aidan wanted to give me lessons, the safe-for-beginning-swimmers cove near the brewery was so full with boys pretending to be swimming that not only was there no place for us, but also not for the young children who wanted to splash about!
And all of them looking expectantly at me, waiting for me to undress, as if they'd never seen a naked woman before. Some of them at least had the decency to blush. I've never seen Aidan so furious! He ordered them all out of the water and for days afterwards, every boy and young man looked away when our paths crossed.
But I did learn how to swim, in the end, and I have grown to like it. And all this fuss was reassuring, in a way: I know I am still good to look at, despite not getting complimented often (except by my lord and husband), and I have gotten used to being undressed in the presence of other men than my husband. Indeed, when we were travelling back to Turenay, we camped near the Rycha in Veray where in the morning I was helping Rava's little Halla eat. She got us both so sticky we had to wash ourselves in the river again, something I was able to do without feeling self-conscious at all, even though we were with at least twenty people camping in that place, and I had to fetch clean clothes from the cart.
I have also learned to sit on a horse and not fall off, not even when the horse is moving. Aidan is right (of course, since he is my lord and husband, now!), in saying that sitting on a horse while it rides is not too different from dancing. I even asked Aidan to be allowed to travel part of the road between Gralen and Veray on a horse. It is not very comfortable to sit on horse for a longer period of time, though, and for the rest of the journey I joined Leva. It would not do to be too tender to be able to receive my beloved lord and husband, especially since his ardour has not abated after our marriage, I think even increased. In this Aidan is fortunately most unlike Sakatimara!
Gralen is without doubt a place where it is easy to be very happy, even when one is not getting married -- but I was so glad when Leva arrived, because that meant that we would be going back to Turenay in a few days. While I love the people at the brewery, and the old man who always sits on the bench in front of the Gralen inn, and the priestess of Naigha, and especially her daughter, and all the children, I have missed my friends in Turenay so much.
Leva approved, fortunately, of my treating Jeran's knee. In a week I'll be a proper doctor's apprentice, when we've been at the Guild Meeting. I asked Leva whether I'd need something special to wear for that, and she said yes. But she was actually afraid that that would inconvenience me, and told me she usually wore something she borrowed from Riei -- but if Leva goes to the trouble to wear something made by Riei, then it must be quite an occasion! So I had a reason to make something really nice for myself.
And Jerna, Ervan's wife, the sister of my sister-in-law, wanted to give me something because I had helped her and the other women of the brewery so much by making clothes for all their children (at first I thought that I should not have done that, but they do not pay seamstresses to make clothes for their children anyway, so I have not beggared anyone), and she had some wonderful light, green woolen cloth that was too small a piece to use for Ervan, and she allowed me to take as much of the common stock of linen as I needed. So I have made a tight fitting shirt with very wide, big, billowing sleeves wrapped tightly at my wrist and a high collar, and a wide, green jacket with a low breastpiece and held together under my arms with ribbons (which I must still buy, tomorrow at the market). But what I really want is show Aidan some proper Iss-Peranian court clothes, but there will not be time to make those, I fear, nor cloth enough.
Besides, when we returned to Turenay, we heard that three rogues had tried to kidnap Selle, thinking she was me (she was wearing my clothes and had her hair wrapped in a scarf). But her Arin (they are married, too!) hit them on the head with a broom and handed them over to the captain of the town guard. Which was a mistake, of course, since the lazy good-for-nothing let them escape! But the guard captain is now incarcerated in his own cellars, and people seem to think that my father-in-law will become the next captain of the town guard, and so does he. It seems that the captain has always been a member of the Brun family, until about fifty years ago.
Selle, by the way, is most happily married to her Arin. He has received as a wedding present from his parents their hunting lodge up north, with all animals, farms and tenants! They must have been very relieved that their son has finally decided upon a worthy and capable wife. The strange thing is this: Selle used to receive Arin's father some years ago, in the course of her work. Arin's mother was very sad, but not because of this deception, rather she was so sad of herself that Arin's father went to Selle to be comforted. It must be awkward for Selle, to lie with the son of the man she has lain with -- but as long as Arin does not know, it seems to be not too big a problem. She did tell Arin, before she married him, that she had been an improper woman, but he did not come back on his promise, for which I admire him. Aidan still does not want to accompany me when I visit Doryn or doctor Erne, for fear all the girls he has known will be greeting him in an improper way in my presence.
Selle and Arin dined with us tonight, and they were the first guests under our own roof. Tomorrow I will have to prepare breakfast myself! Lord Vurian made us a present of a barrel of wine, and we got eggs and spices from Lady Rava. And all Erne's kind gifts were stored in the hospital, so we were quite at home and almost ready (everything except for the tapestries for our bed chamber (or rather attic) is in place now). It was a very pleasant evening, and it feels very good to be mistress of my own house! But I still went to Raisse through the door to the weaving workshop to kiss her goodnight, it is good not to be to far away from her.