Marriage of True Minds

Summary: The Lord Wrath marries her adjutant. The Lord Wrath’s adjutant has the best day of his life, so far.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Shakespeare's Sonnet 116

“If you keep fussing, you’ll crinkle it,” said Major Ovech reasonably, and Malavai forced his hands to stop trying to smooth out his dress tunic. Iulius gave Malavai a look-over, then nodded, businesslike. “You’re good to go,” he said. “There’s no use in keeping a Sith waiting.”

If that was meant to be a joke, it didn’t land. “There are many Sith waiting,” said Quinn tightly, “for both of us.”

“I’ll tell you a secret, Quinn,” said Ovech. “As soon as you see her, it won’t matter to you.”

Iulius Ovech’s current marriage was a match of expedience – he and his husband, being amicable acquaintances, had pooled their economic resources. His marriage with his first spouse, though, who had died honourably in the last war, had been, as he’d called it, “An indulgence of the young in love”.

He wasn’t calling Malavai Quinn’s wedding an indulgence, a love match though it might have been. For one thing, he was marrying well above his rank, vastly improving his station in the Empire (Finally free of Broysc and Darth Baras’ marks against his promotion, Malavai had been promoted. from captain, first class, to commodore – next, they hoped, in the right time, rear admiral, then admiral, then possibly the rank of moff. But even if he had been a moff, this match would have decidedly increased his station dramatically.) For another, he was marrying, in the Lord Wrath, quite possibly the most dangerous being in the Empire; the incarnate fury, the incarnate right to kill and to spill blood without censure, of the very Emperor Himself. If Iulius called her marriage an indulgence, his life may well have been forfeit… all strictly theoretically, of course. In practice, she’d broken him out of execution row with Malavai for the late, disgraced Moff Broysc’s murder and had the man tried posthumously, finding him guilty of gross negligence likely to adversely impact the Empire’s military might over the politely termed shitstorm that had been Druckenwell. She would only consider killing him to keep him quiet about the truth of who had killed Broysc, which would not be necessary.

All this was to say, he had experience with a love-match wedding, and he was probably correct.

“Time to walk, son,” said Ovech.

Malavai took in a final deep breath, and pushed open the curtain -

There were too many people. He was not going to manage this. They would all be looking at him and they would all know about the Broysc trial, they would –

His Lord’s gaze cut across to him, and the gold of her eyes burned away the mist of terror that had grasped him. They would know that his court-martial had been revoked. That the Sphere of Laws and Justice and the Sphere of Military Offence had both found him blameless in his retrial. That the Emperor’s Wrath had taken his part, and taken his hand, and given passionate testimony about doing what is right for the Empire, no matter the expense to oneself. About how Malavai had sacrificed everything he possessed, his career, his pride, his rules, to save an Imperial fleet.

(They would know that she had chosen him. That she had wanted him to be her spouse.)

That was the woman he was walking towards. His wife, in approximately an hour. And with her fighting for him, he could withstand anything, even the largest Kaasi wedding crowd in more than a century.

Ovech was right. She was the only person there he looked at, or felt the need to look at.

It had been a long time since he hadn’t at least been one of the people helping her into her armour. She was, as it turned out, not wearing much of it. Smaller-than-usual pauldrons; bracers; armoured boots. Beneath them, she was wearing… not even elaborate battle robes, but a dress. It was purple and black, shot through with bolts of red as was practically the requirement for those not marrying in uniform – red for passion, as purple was for mystical power and knowledge (though she wore it because it was her favourite colour… which few but himself, Vette and Jaesa would know, if any save himself did) and black was for authority and tradition – the red then shot through with gold. It was complimented by the colours of her makeup, her red-and-purple lips and golden curls painted across her hands and face. The cut of her dress left the top of some of the many scars decorating her chest visible, something far more tantalising to him than the gold paint trailing below her neckline would have been.

Her hair wasn’t completely down, but it was still looser than it usually was when she went out in public, silken black curls swept subtly behind her rather than pulled back so tightly that they looked straight.

She wasn’t marrying him as the Emperor’s Wrath, despite the mighty crowds, despite Darth Marr officiating, despite all of the pomp that wouldn’t have occurred had she not been the Emperor’s Wrath. She was marrying him as herself. As Irati. Not even as a Sith, as a person – as a person who happened to be Sith and happened to be Emperor’s Wrath.

He would marry her as Malavai. He didn’t need to cling to his rank.

(Before he had known her, he would never have dreamed of one day contemplating such a sentiment, let alone professing it to himself on his wedding day.)

The procession was achingly slow, out of respect for the traditions, and he kept having to force himself not to fidget. As her senior apprentice, Irati’s banner was carried ahead of her by Lord Willsaam. It was plain black, but for the sigil of the Emperor embroidered in the centre in gold. Malavai’s banner was carried, of course, by Ovech, as his only friend outside of Irati's personnel, and was patterned with his rank insignia, as was the tradition for the wedding banners of military officers.

For all the terrible slowness, and for all he wanted to remember everything about this day forever, the intensity of emotion must have entirely overwhelmed him, because he blacked out until it was time for him to say his vows. He knelt before her, like he had done when he had first requested to be stationed at her side. He had to force the first words out; his throat was tight. Once he had begun, however, the memorised, standard lines flowed out fluently.

“To you I pledge my life, my possessions and my chattel, my histories and my legacies. To you I pledge my arms and service in warfare, my counsel and advice in all matters. To you I pledge my strength to partake in your burdens, and my appetites to partake in your table and your delights. To you I surrender all rank, and I am yours. I give myself to no other Lord. For myself I take your enemies to combat, and your every victory to triumph, for they shall all be as my own. Our binding shall be my pride, to which shame shall never be dealt.”

Somehow, what he choked on was the personalised line. “For you I would journey through every galaxy, would face all dooms a million times. For you I will tolerate Vette’s music.” He didn’t dare to stop to clear his throat, they were in public, the Empire was watching them, but his voice held when he said “I love you, Irati.”

Her eyes were shining with more than her power in the Force. She pulled him to his feet, standing evenly, facing one another, and held out one hand to Jaesa, who gave her a small item. Her eyes not leaving Malavai, she passed the object to him. It was a small flimsi book, bound like a great, sacred tome with a wood and leather cover. Inside were her vows in calligraphy, each sentence written out twice, in Kittât on the left page and Imperial Standard on the right.

The text was projected to the crowd, including the Kittât version for all the inquisitors there who wanted to criticise the Wrath’s wedding planners (particularly the Twi’lek).

To you I pledge my life, my possessions and my chattel, my histories and my legacies, my arms and service in warfare, my counsel and advice in all matters. To you I pledge my strength to partake in your burdens, and my appetites to partake in your table and your delights. To you I surrender my armour to dress me in, my weapons to hold for me. To you I surrender all rank, and I am yours, Malavai Quinn. No other will I place beside me in all matters, such as will I you. For myself I take your enemies to combat, and your every victory to triumph, for they shall all be as my own. Our binding shall be my pride, to which shame shall never be dealt.

His vision blurred, and he had to run through the basic facts again to maintain composure: to symbolise the vows, rings would be worn for the rest of their lives ( or until annulment, death of one partner, breakage of the physical ring, rejection of the partner , he recited, mentally, but even all of his fears could not drown out the concept of the life ahead of them, a life where it would be publicly known not only that he was hers but that she was his).

The ring Irati slipped onto his finger was a simple electrum band, glinting golden in any thrown light, set with a cut crystal from the very same batch of artificed lightsaber crystals that powered her lightsaber. She – and Jaesa – had spared no effort to track it down.

The ring that Malavai slipped onto hers was identical save but for the set crystal – it was the same grey-blue, initially innocuous, but intense upon examination, of his eyes.

Their rings placed onto their hands by each other, they clasped one another’s fingers in their right hands, one another’s wrists in their left. Darth Marr took the red sash offered to him by a kneeling Laws & Justice official and bound their wrists and hands together. Their fingers gripped one another’s, the red cloth binding them not enough for them, just an outward symbol to the masses of what they sought most of all to repeat to one another.

Then Darth Marr pronounced them wed.

He moved before she did, but she moved fast to catch up, and the two of them claimed their kiss in rapidly-evolving tandem.

Through courageous applause, he heard Darth Ravage pronounce it ‘Sickening,’ and Darth Vowrawn respond, with a drawl, that ‘through passion we gain strength’. He did not care. It was a revelation, freedom he had never in his life felt. He was married to Irati. The entire Republic could come for him, and he would still keep kissing her. Nothing could touch him, like this.

When they finally tore apart to gasp in breath, the formalities were rapidly concluded; Darth Marr stalked off to intercept Darth Vowrawn before he could find the drinks and approach any non-Ravage personage of consequence.

Wife,” he said, with reverence and pride, and she smiled down at him, at his perfect unrumpled commodore’s uniform, finally gaining ranks he has deserved for so long, now made up for by the fast-tracking of traditional old-fashioned Sith favouritism, and –

She told him husband by leaning down and kissing him, again, claiming it like it was just one of her many conquests, but one she took the most joy in, derived the greatest satisfaction from.

“I am yours, and no other’s,” he whispered, lips near her mouth.

She pressed a finger against her chest, then pressed herself against him, jabbing a finger into his arm. And I am yours.

He retrieved his kiss, making it last. “Might I suggest that we retire somewhere more private? Wife?”