Impossible to Love (The Starlite Heart Book 1)

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The Ceremony

Sophie watched from the shore, along with hundreds of others, as the princess performed her part in the ceremony.

Sia was standing two feet above the great lake. The single cloth wrapped around her body caressed the surface of the water. She wore exactly eleven silver ornaments on her body. One of them was a ring gifted by Sophie.

Prince Philip stood facing her, but closer to the water, nullifying their height difference. He wore the ceremonial fur robe. Three priests stood a little far from the bride and the groom, above the same lake. They wore silver clothes and chanted hymns in rhythm with Sia’s every action.

One by one, the princess bared her body of the ornaments and threw them in the water below her. With each ornament the priests chanted a different hymn and many starlites chanted with them.

Each ornament had a different hymn made for it. As Sia threw her anklet into the lake, they sang,

“I free my feet to go wherever you take me,

Be it a bed of roses or a thorny sea.”

She removed her earrings and they chanted,

“To hear your will, my ears are now free,

Pain them with shrieks or sing pretty melodies.”

After all the eleven ornaments had settled at the bottom of the lake, King Suffle came forward and said to the groom,

“Wrapped in the velvet shawl,

Here is the precious of them all.

For her body may be bare,

Her heart is full of care.

Make her happy and you’ll see

How happy a man can be.”

He returned to his seat at the shore. Now it was the turn of the friends of the bride. With Sophie as their leader, they sang,

“Bright as the sun, cool as the moon,

She was happy till you made her swoon.”

Sophie rolled her eyes at the last word. For people who could not feel love, the starlites sure had very romantic hymns. They continued,

“Tell us if you dare,

She’ll live, where?”

As the last word was shouted by everyone in the bridal party, the groom answered,

“In my castle oh so fair,

In myself, toe to hair.”

The groom’s party shouted, “Or dragon’s lair.”

On this infamy, Charles roared as per his part, “Dragon’s lair?”

Sophie and party repeated,

“Bright as the sun, cool as the moon,

She was happy till you made her swoon.

Tell us lord, don’t you cheat,

What will she eat?”

Philip answered,

“Fruits of season, sour and sweet,

Roasted chicken and juicy meat.”

The fun loving party again shouted, “Or horse’s feet.”

Charles again feigned anger repeating the words.

“Bright as the sun, cool as the moon,

She was happy till you made her swoon.

Tell us now, don’t you blink,

What will she drink?”

Philip answered,

Wine, juice, milk and cream,

Glasses filled up to the brim.”

The crowd shouted, “Or, cow-urine.”

Charles repeated his earlier antics but this time he sprang forward with a blunt sword in his hand shouting that he would not let his sister marry such a man.

Sophie knew the ceremony was designed to beware young couples about the harshness of life and to teach them the fragility of faithfully made promises. Still, she felt some parts of the ceremony to be ridiculous. She knew that the silver in the lake made it rich in minerals, but she also knew that it was not to remain in the lake for more than a few hours. People were poor and they would take the silver out. The thought of Sia’s ring on an unknown finger made her sigh ruefully.

Philip had given up his fur robe in favour of a fighting attire. Charles was engaged with him in the duel. Sia had taken up her seat between the king and Sophie. The shore was divided into two parts. One part was occupied by the bridal party and the other part was filled with the westerners who were Philip’s friends and relatives. Both parties were cheering for their man.

Starlite weddings always happened at the high noon, between the sun and the lake. It symbolised the need for harmony between the hot and the cold. Some people also believed the couple got the blessings from the sun and the lake after giving silver as an offering.

Sophie looked around. Everything was covered in silver and gold, bells and flowers and other tinkers. The starlite castle was decorated with all the lamps they could buy, make and find at such a short notice. Sophie knew that by the time the ceremony was over, the sun would be long gone and the castle would sparkle in the dark. The bride and the groom would then proceed to the castle for their first meal as husband and wife. It would be a beautiful sight.

Sophie’s train of thought was broken when Charles came back defeated and put his sword on Sia’s feet.

“He’s a good fighter Si,” Charles said.

“You were supposed to lose.” Sophie rolled her eyes.

“No I wasn’t,” he said winking at Sia.

Sophie understood what had happened and regretted missing a real sword fight between the two crown-princes. She looked pointedly at Sia. “I would have paid more attention if I knew.”

“I would rather have had you duel,” the bride said, “but…oh well.”

“If you had me fighting him, you wouldn’t be getting married,” Sophie chuckled.

The bride and groom retook their positiins above the lake and the final ceremony started. Prince Philip started placing gold ornaments on Sia’s body. They were eleven too but these were splendid enough to adorn a queen.

This time there were no hymns. The only audible sound was the strong voice of the groom ringing in every ear. Again, each ornament had a different verse and Philip said them like a true romantic.

With this necklace, I knock on your heart, hoping to get an entry, and make it my permanent home…..with this tiara I crown you the queen of my heart, my body, my-self.”

With these words, Philip had made Sia his wife. The crowd cheered.

Rose petals were showered on them which settled on the lake making it look like a giant flower.

The divers sensed that the party was about to break and made their moves to dive into the lake. The hunger and poverty of their situation had overpowered the dangers of the task. Tradition lost to greed and the race began. The offerings of the newlyweds were taken to be sold.

The wedding party had already moved to the castle for the grand feast and Sophie reflected on the events of the past month. It was just ten days ago that the westerners had come. The three royalties were accommodated in the three castles. Due to the presence of the foreigners, Sophie had decreased her presence in the castle. And then one day, out of the blue, Sia had told her she was to be married.

The plans of the western emperor to trap Neal were smashed. As per Sia, the human princess Marya was still hopeful but had decided to let some time pass before she tried her charms again. When exactly had Sia and Philip planned their marriage, Sophie did not know.

‘It is funny how things work,’ Sophie had thought. What better way to secure a peace-treaty than a marriage? And who would marry a prince if not the princess? Who better to marry for logic than a starlite? It was logical and starlites lived by logic. Charles had done it and Sia had done it. Sophie knew that she would lose Sia one day, but the day had come sooner than her anticipation. Maybe somebody had thought about Philip and Sia but all eyes were on Marya and Neal. But Philip and Sia had decided the nations’ fate. Neal may have brought the westerns, but it was Sia who held the crown of the peace on her head.

Sophie looked at Sia enjoying her first meal as a married woman. ‘Good thing I’m going away or I would have missed her too much.’

She thought about her decision to join the guardians. It had been a month and she was still not sure if she had taken the right decision. She felt like there was something scratching the back of her mind which she could not see. ‘Well it’s a little late now. I start my new job tomorrow.’

Soon, it was time for Philip and Sia to leave.

Sia gave Sophie a final hug.

“What will we all do when you are gone?” Sophie cried. “Who will take care of us?”

“Charlie and Alex can manage each other. You will take care of father and he will care for the whole realm.”

“And who will take care of me?”

“I’m sure we’ll find someone for you too,” Sia winked. “It’s a shame my brother-in-law couldn’t make it.”

Sophie rolled her eyes. “What is it with married people wanting everyone else to be married too?”

“Well there is one more person who needs to be cared for,” Sia said in a serious whisper.

“Who?”

“Will you take care of him?” Sia asked ignoring her question.

“Anything for you,” Sophie promised, “but who?”

“Neal, he has got no friends.”

Before Sophie could respond there was such a hullabaloo by the groom’s side that Sia had to leave in a rush. Anything she said was lost in the noise.

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