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Diamond Anniversary

Cardamon walked through the tap room at Murphy’s Tavern.

The tap room with its peat moss fire hadn’t changed at all from his childhood till now. Timeless, it exuded comfort to every guest inviting them to stay, lingering over their ale or a pint of stout.

Through his early years and from all the paintings artists had made over the three centuries since it was first built, the building had never changed. Only the thick thatched roof had been replaced as necessary over the years.

He raised his eyes to the rafters. Smoke blackened; they formed the framework for the straw materials laid over them. Sturdy and rainproof, those beneath gathered in small groups at the tables, around a small floor cleared for dancing.

The banner Alanna and Morgan had strung between the beams read Happy Diamond Anniversary. Another was printed with Happy 60th.

Harry and Gaia had met for the first time here, in his family’s pub. Harry with his bold prophetic declaration, and Gaia scoffing at the mere possibility. And now, as family from both sides of the Atlantic gathered, he was struck by their diversity.

Morgan’s triplets ran amok, the boys chased by Fiona as she tried to keep up with their already longer legs. She was petite, blessed with Harry’s and the great Fiona MacDonald’s tiny stature. Blaire’s girls sat in the nook beside the peat hearth, great green eyes wide with anticipation.

James and Andrew stood with Aiden as he taught them the art of building a proper Guinness. Aiden, his unexpected little brother. A gift from heaven after his father had returned from the war. Tommy Murphy and his Ceili had long since passed on, but Aiden and his boys had continued the family business, adding another dining hall on the other side of the kitchen.

The other hall was ready, places set for almost one hundred as cousins poured into the pub. A quiet cheer sighed across the room as the couple at the center of the celebration pushed through the door.

Gaia, still taller than most men, her back ruler straight, and her long silver braids tucked into an elegant coronet, stepped down the three stairs from the entrance way. She turned to help Harry, as he reached down with his ebony and hawthorn cane. His once black hair as white as the linen gracing the tables.

Such an odd couple. Harry not truly a dwarf, but a miniature man. Perfectly proportioned, his powerful chest and arms strong supports as he limped down taking the stairs one at a time. In today’s politically correct world, they were called little people, but how was that any different from dwarf or midget? Small is small, Cardamon’s thoughts skittered from greeting to healing. When had Harry’s hip gone out?

Alanna caught his eye, she’d finished her pre-med studies, and come to learn more about his tonics this summer. He nodded, and she came across the dance floor to where he stood observing.

“We’ll have to fix that hip, before they leave.” Her speaking voice was like a soft velvet cocoon.

“Aye, I’ll get the blood stones,” Cardamon said as he headed out the door. His home, given to him as the oldest child, held the spirits of generations of Murphy’s.

Gaia watched her cousin slip out and wondered what he’d forgotten. Cardamon had the same slender, straight spine she did, but kept his beard trimmed close, and the white fringe of his hair shorter yet. He claimed it got in his way.

Unlike her Harry, who still let his grow as thick as ever down to his shoulders. Braided back down his neck when he worked his crystals, moving small packages and luggage for his family, it curled fiercely around the black leather thong he used to keep it safely out of the way.

How had the years passed so quickly? She remembered their wedding day, in the grand cathedral in Dublin. A scant week before they boarded the ship for America. The priest who married them, shook his head, and tried to tell her she could do better. Take him with you as a servant, but not as your husband.

How could he? In the end they’d won the argument and the bishop waived the banns. They were married on St. Valentines day, 1965. The Beatles were at their peak of popularity, and they danced to Yesterday, at the bar where they celebrated their elopement.

How strange they’d gone to a priest, when the wizard’s conclave would have been more appropriate, but then again, they were trying to hide from Gaia’s fame as a medium. Every magickly inclined soul wanted to ask questions. Didn’t they understand she couldn’t seek those who didn’t have a message?

Harry’s green eyes met hers as he reached up to stroke her cheek.

“Thinking of our wedding day?”

“I wish we’d had our parents there,” Gaia’s heart ached for her mother. Aine had counselled her daughter on ways to hide herself. Telling her to seek a priest.

“My father said we’d have a journey before we wed, it took me years to convince you I was right, you are mine, as surely as you have always been.” Harry smiled at the turbulent memories.

“Was it worth it?” Gaia asked the question once more.

“You know it was. Look at our family.”

“Who would have thought the O’Connor’s and the Murphy’s would end up together? Look at Gloria,” her pride in her daughter rang in her voice.

“She bloomed late, our child did. Now her dreams predict the future. I’m proud of her, and her ability to cast the spells she needs to keep herself safe.”

“Remember when she ran, because she didn’t have even the tiniest spark?” Gaia couldn’t stop the kaleidoscope of memories from cascading through her mind.

“Eddy was her salvation, and her undoing when he died. But Andrew and Morgan were her gift to us. The years our grandchildren spent with us, were precious, weren’t they?”

It seemed Harry was on the memory train as well. Gaia patted the bench at the side of the hearth. Killa and Maura peeked at them from the other side. Their green eyes echoing his. He hitched himself up beside Gaia, fitting himself under her shoulder, and snuggling into a familiar posture.

“Grammie, peek-a-boo,” Killa’s silvery giggle sounded, quickly joined by her identical twin’s.

“Peek-a-boo, I see you,” Harry answered, his smile radiant. Gaia saw his lips move in a short prayer of thanks for these two beautiful girls. Their mother had been very lucky to survive an attack on her and her older sons. She echoed his words.

Speaking of whom, she wondered if they’d make it to Ireland in time. Andrew had sent his jet for them, but weather was ugly over the north Atlantic this winter. They were stranded in Greenland waiting out a blizzard.

“Do you remember when we got to Ellis Island?” Harry squeezed her hand between both of his.

“Oh, I was so ill. We thought it was sea sickness. But I was pregnant with Gloria. Morning sickness that bothered me all day, and then the moment we passed through the immigration process, it went away. Like it never happened.”

“The doctor who checked our health records, teased you, asked you about so many things. And then when you remembered you hadn’t bled since before our wedding, he said congratulations. You’re going to be a mother.”

“We were damn lucky it didn’t happen sooner.” Gaia snickered.

“Randy, weren’t we? But you still give my heart a lift, and when I look at you, I see the most beautiful woman in the world.”

“I see my man, the one person who completes me, every day of our lives together has been an adventure, and I love you more now than yesterday and less than I will tomorrow.” Gaia looked down at his strong face, the stubborn chin and strong jaw. The long nose and sensuous lips under it, still begged to be kissed with fresh desire spurting through her veins. She laid a soft kiss on them, and all else faded from her senses.

“I love you, goddess,” Harry broke the embrace. “But I think we’d better go see what they’ve planned.”

Little Edward skidded to a stop in front of him, and picked up his cane, where it had clattered to the floor.

“Here Grandda, why are you kissing Grammie?” he handed the cane to Harry.

“Why would anyone kiss a girl?” his brother wanted to know.

“Because we’re pretty and sweet and everyone loves us,” Fiona answered, sticking her tongue out at her brothers.

“Well, Fiona’s right, but it’s something you share with the one you love forever as well.” Harry told the triplets.

“Well I’m never going to love anyone like that! It’s yucky!” Harry’s namesake declared, his face an exact mirror of his great grandfather’s.

“Dinner is ready to be served,” Aiden called out. “Everyone into the great hall.”

“Go ahead, we’ll be right along,” Gaia acknowledged. “We’ll just wait for your brother to get back.”

“If I know Cardamon, he’ll be a bit yet. Dinner’s about to be served. He’ll find his way to the kitchen in any case. He still has a fine hand with the herbs.”

“Shoo, Aiden, give us a moment.” Harry waved Gaia’s much younger cousin away.

“What’s on your mind?”

“Would you marry me?”

“I would marry you again, for this life and the next!” Gaia touched the amethyst hanging between her breasts.

“Good because we’re renewing our vows, with the head of the witch’s council officiating. She’s coming to this party.”

Tears threatened to overflow, as Gaia stroked her pendant.

“Do you remember when you tossed this necklace from the door, the day we met?”

“You’ve worn it since, displayed it proudly for all to see, or hidden under your clothing, before you knew I spoke true.” Harry said. “You weren’t too receptive when you were fourteen.”

“You weren’t much older. But we found each other again. Years later.”

“And I want our families to know, I’d do it all again. I wouldn’t trade a second of our time together.” Harry insisted.

“Neither would I, love,” Gaia agreed. “Neither would I.”

Cardamon entered the pub to find the tap room empty, except for Cousin Gaia and Harry. Wrapped in each other’s arms they rocked to a rhythm only they could hear.

As he tiptoed around them toward the kitchen, the door opened once more, and the most exquisite woman he’d ever seen let herself into the pub. Ethereal in white robes; she looked at him as she pulled the black cloak she wore off her shoulders.

“Where do I leave this?”

“I’ll take it, the cloak room is over to the right,” Cardamon pointed as he came back to find a hanger on the racks tucked beside the door.

“I’m Pandora, head of the Witch’s Counsel. I’m here to perform a wedding ceremony.”

Harry looked up, his eyes dreamy, and said, “That would be ours, a re-dedication of our vows, this time with a proper magical binding, even if it is at the wrong end of our life.”

“Cardamon, take her into the kitchen, make sure she has a meal fit for a queen, and when dessert is served, we’ll have our ceremony,” Gaia decided.

“As feisty as ever, aren’t you?” Pandora’s voice bore no ill will.

“I am, we’ll see you after dinner, yes?” Gaia’s smile was unrepentant.

“Yes.”

Gaia felt like she was floating on air. After more than half a century together, Harry had found a way to ease an ache in her heart, she’d buried without a second thought. And now on the sixtieth anniversary of her wedding, when the priest had insisted on forcing to love and obey into the vows, she would declare her love once more.

She remembered Harry’s outrage. He’d very nearly let his magic loose to silence the vitriol of the priest. The lecture on being fruitful, of the wife’s duty to make a family, had a tic twitching across his cheek, masquerading as a dimple. Women all over the world were beginning to understand marriage and family were equally the responsibility of both partners.

Her connection to the spirit world needed to disappear, and Gaia remembered the first time she signed a document with her new name. The sense of belonging and of becoming, brought relief and pride in the same moment. For whatever it was worth, her ability with ghosts was far more critical to disguise than Harry’s talent for bringing things to him or moving them to any location needed.

Tears brimmed over as she scanned the room. Tables were set on either side of a central aisle lined with standing bouquets of lilac, hyacinth, violets, and pansies. Once again, she wrapped her fingers around the amethyst spear Harry had thrown her way before she had fully understood what love could do.

All of Harry’s cousins were seated there, on one side, the groom’s family. On the other side, the entire Murphy clan, and the Byrne’s as well. Across the front, behind the bridal arbor, her entire family waited in anticipation surrounding the longest table in the room.

Gloria, her hair now liberally streaked with silver, dramatic against the inky blue black of her curls. Her daughter shone like a beacon, her joy in life such a contrast with her grief when her husband passed. Alanna, her dark russet hair pulled back in a brutally disciplined tail at the nape of her neck. Morgan, sitting beside her husband of nearly ten years, and Andrew with is forehead against Blaire’s as they shared a private joke.

As Harry guided her over to their seats at the long table, the entire assembly turned to look, and stood. Cheers of congratulations and wishes of many more years together flowed like the stream in the lea behind their Montana home.

James came to her and squatted beside her as she took in the decorations and wait staff began serving the first course.

Golden butternut squash soup, with accents of nutmeg, cloves and other subtle spices assailed her sensitive nose, and she picked up her spoon as the Wizard of Astra spoke.

“I’m whisking Doug and Mike out of Greenland. The blizzard raging there will have them trapped for at least another day. I can get them back with no one the wiser after the party’s over.” James had long since become more powerful than Harry ever dreamed.

“Go to the kitchen, through the back door there, Pandora is eating there, and Cardamon will find you a private spot to put them down. You’ve talked to them about this?” Harry knew how special the boys were to his wife.

“They called me. I agree. This can be pulled off with very little fuss.” James replied.

“Then go, your soup can be rewarmed.” Gaia gestured toward the kitchen passage.

“I don’t like squash, so no loss. I’ll be right back. I’ll have the staff set two more places at the head table.”

Watching James hurry away with a broad smile on his face, his silver gray eyes glowing, Gaia turned to Harry.

“You’ve thought of everything, love,” her deep blue eyes locked with his.

“I’ve wanted this since the day the priest gave his hypocritical blessing in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s time. Enjoy your meal, and I’ll pledge myself to you once more. With the most powerful witch in the world officiating, we’ll blend our light together.”

“My heart is full. I’m not sure if I can even say any vows.”

“Speak what’s in your heart,” Harry’s soft lips brushed her forehead.

She picked up her spoon once more. The meal, all of her favorites, slipped by as her thoughts drifted through their years together. Their joint use of knowledge gathered from her continuous conversations with departed souls helped turn the fees from judicious consultations into more wealth than they knew what to do with.

Harry’s work with disaster services disguised his talents until the fateful days of the Missing Seven. Even now, with their hard fought recovery behind them, they continued to work with the government in secrecy. Blaire ran the investments now, Hanson International once more one of the premiere wealth management services in the world.

Her stomach jittered as if she were a young woman about to commit herself to the love of her life. She’d done so long ago, but today was a declaration of what love could do. She rose to go to the lady’s room, and every woman at the table stood with her and followed, even the twins, and Fiona.

From the corner of her eye, she saw the men tugging Harry toward the arbor, arranging themselves in a line with little Harry, and Edward standing in front of James. Doug and Mike stood shoulder to shoulder beside Andrew, it wouldn’t be long before they outgrew him.

Doug’s saucy smile and wink as he caught her eye, lifted her nervous panic. The two boys were teetering into manhood, in their first year of college. Mike in engineering, Doug in nutritional sciences, they’d taken their snowboarding scholarships to opposite ends of the country. Their father’s cursed soul long forgotten.

“Hurry Grammie, you have to change. We’ve ordered you a wedding gown. I hope you like it.”

Alanna unzipped the garment bag hanging from a hook on the wall.

Inside, Aine’s gown spilled frothy lace covered silk out into the cramped area. Blaire grabbed her daughter’s hands and headed back out.

“I’ll get the music started. Killa, where are the flower girl baskets?”

“We gave them to Uncle Aiden, he put them inside the fridge behind the bar. On the bottom shelf.”

Blair laughed, “Of course you know. Run and get them, sweetie. I’ll wait for you right here. Grammie will be ready in a few minutes.”

The girls dashed off, returning with Cardamon in tow. Their baskets full of rose petals clutched in eager hands, but the bridal bouquet of orchids, white roses and lilies brought tears to Blaire. The emotions they stirred as she thought of her own wedding rolled through her as she accepted the flowers from Cardamon.

“I’m locking the doors to anyone who isn’t here yet. You can start the ceremony any time.”

The door from the powder room groaned quietly, and Gaia came out.

“Are you a princess?” Maura’s eyes were wide.

Glistening in the dim lights of the hallway, Gaia stood as regal as royalty, in her pencil slim dress. The ruffled mini train of lace frothing behind her.

“I missed this, the first time. How did you get this altered?”

“Aiden’s wife. We sent her your gown from my wedding, you’re still the same size as you were then, as you always were. You have to tell me how you do it.” Blaire explained.

Overwhelmed as the women gathered around her and led her to the entry to the big hall, Gaia pondered the power of love. Harry must have set this in motion months ago. She felt as pampered as the princess Killa had asked about.

While she’d changed, musicians had assembled on the other side of the hall and an Irish harp sounded the beginnings of the wedding march. Killa skipped down the aisle followed by Maura, scattering petals on the crimson carpet.

Alanna followed with Morgan and Blaire behind her leaving Gaia alone framed in the archway as everyone stood turning to honor the bride. And her eyes met the deep green of her husband’s as she made the walk toward affirmation of all she was. Shimmering beside her, her father’s ghost brought a chill into the overly warm room.

“You didn’t think I’d let my best girl walk alone? I missed this once, but this time I’m here. I love you, poppet.”

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