It was only two days till the pledging ceremony and Amanda was starting to get panicky.
"Relax, Amanda. It all will work out fine," Sarah tried to reassure her friend.
"How can you be so sure?" asked Amanda.
"Because that's one of the great advantages of the faeryfolke world," answered Sarah. "Once things are set up, they go smoothly. We've set up the celebration for after through the meal choices, music, decorations and seating arrangements. The Gardeners have been notified. Your gown is finished. About the only thing left, is for you and Miles to write your vows."
"Only!" exclaimed Amanda. "That is not an 'only'. I've no idea what to say. What do people say at these?"
"You simply say what is in your heart," said Sarah. "It's different for everyone. Some say only 'I pledge unto you my love and devotion as long as we both shall live.' Others write long vows with poetry or stories from their courtship. There is no right or wrong."
"Maybe Miles will let me see his and I'll get an idea what to say," suggested Amanda.
"Sorry, but that would be a no-no," laughed Sarah. "You don't show each other your vows ahead of time. Maybe we should discuss something else and you'll relax more. How's the house coming?"
"Fabulously," said Amanda."I can't believe how quickly it is going up. Miles thinks we'll need the second bedroom before a year is up. I sure hope he is right."
"I hope so too," said Sarah. "Miles was so wonderful as a surrogate father to Geoff over the years I know he'll be a wonderful father."
"I know," said Amanda. "I hope I could do as well as a mother."
"I'm certain you will," said Sarah. "When the constructors are finished with your house, they will build Mother and Father a house since they will be permanent citizens. Then it will be onto here to add a couple of bedrooms and a bath. Kevin said it's best to add two rooms at a time. This family is certainly keeping the constructors busy."
"I've a question," said Amanda.
"What's that?" asked Sarah.
"I thought all single people lived in the Bachelor's Quarters but Hugh has his own house. Why?" asked Amanda.
"Well, that's easy to answer actually. Kevin lived there, too, with Hugh as his guardian until we married. Hugh just kept the house after," explained Sarah.
"That makes sense. I don't know why I didn't think of that," said Amanda. "It's probably good that he and Mama aren't both living in the Bachelor's Quarters anyways."
"Aw. So that's why the concern. Amanda, they are two lonely souls who might have found something special with each other. Don't you think that's beautiful?" asked Sarah.
"In a way I do. But on the other hand, she's my mother!" exclaimed Amanda.
"She's a woman first and foremost, Amanda. Being a mother does not change that. I'm a mother but I love my husband and hope to always have the kind of relationship we have now. The relationship I cherish so much as it was lost to me for so many years. Neither age nor parental status will change who we are with each other. You will most likely become a mother soon yourself. Do you look to the future and see a time when you won't need Miles?" Sarah asked.
"Never," said Amanda. "Of course, you are right. I really do want Mama to be happy and feel loved."
"I never doubted it," said Sarah as she gave Amanda a reassuring hug.
The day of Miles and Amanda's pledging Mother Nature smiled down warm sunshine. Miles had left the cottage early in the morning to allow Amanda all the time she might need to get ready for their ceremony. He would dress at his parents' cottage. Although only a formality, still Miles was nervous. At 39, he really had thought his chances of finding a life-mate very slim. But, he decided, Amanda had been worth the wait. He knew that she was nervous too, especially about her vows. He had tried to reassure her that it need be no more than "I love you and pledge to be loyal to you" but he knew she was still worried. He decided to give her a surprise and dress formally in a tuxedo as Amanda had only ever seen him wearing jeans. He had asked Sarah's advice and she had said it was a splendid idea. He had spent the morning in quiet, reflective solitude in the woods but was now heading to his parent's to get ready. He'd been too nervous to eat so had skipped the midday meal. No one would believe that, he thought with a smile.
Arriving at the cottage, his parents greeted him warmly. It was so obvious that they were happy for him. Miles was so glad to have them here as witnesses on this day. His mother soon left to help Amanda get ready. Kevin and Geoff arrived to add their support and help, along with his father, as Miles prepared for the ceremony. Kevin had brought along a deep coral rosebud for Miles to wear on his lapel that Sarah had chosen.
Meanwhile, at Miles and Amanda's cottage, Susannah, Sarah and Margaret had arrived to help a very nervous Amanda get ready.
She donned the beautiful dress her mother had made. Although she would not have thought it possible such a short time ago, she felt beautiful and feminine.
"Oh Mama," she said whirling around so that the soft petals floated around her. "It's so beautiful that it makes me feel beautiful!"
"You are beautiful Amanda!" said Sarah and the other 2 agreed with her.
"Thank you all," said Amanda. "I am so fortunate to have you all in my life."
"Let's not get weepy yet," said Margaret. "I know we most likely will later!"
"True!," laughed Sarah.
"I know I will," said Susannah.
"Here's the crowning touch," said Sarah as she removed the coronet of roses, in shades of corals and salmons, and baby's breath from a box she had brought along. Amanda sat on a stool so that Sarah could put it in place with the numerous ribbons in matching hues, trailing down the back of Amanda's head in various lengths; some nearly reaching her waist. It looked so lovely on her dark hair.
"I feel like a fairy princess!" Amanda exclaimed looking into the mirror.
The others laughed. "Well, in a way, you are!" said Susannah.
Amanda smiled at her mother.
"Time for us to start on our way," said Margaret.
"I've something for you to tuck somewhere," said Susannah to Amanda.
"What Mama?" asked Amanda.
"Well you can never have too many traditions," Susannah said, handing a soft, pale blue handkerchief to her daughter. "The blue linen is new and the lace edging antique and I'm loaning it to you so ... you have "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" all in one!"
Amanda hugged her mother. "Thank you! Lets see ... how about," and with that Amanda tucked the dainty handerkercheif down her cleavage smiling as the other women laughed.
"Perfect!" said Sarah. "Now we're ready to go."
When Amanda went out the door she was surprised to see a beautiful white landau with 4 unicorns sporting garlands of roses and daisies waiting for them. Daniel was sitting in the driver's seat.
"Oh!" gasped Amanda. "I've never seen anything so beautiful!"
Daniel helped all four women into the open carriage.
"If I'm dreaming this, please do not wake me," said Amanda. The other women smiled at her.
Daniel parked near an opening in the hedge that was behind the gazebo. After helping the women down, he escorted Margaret and Susannah through the opening to take their seats in the front row of the witnesses area where Geoff was already waiting. Then Sarah blocked the opening.
"Aren't I allowed to look out?" asked Amanda.
"Not yet," said Sarah smiling. "I see Kevin has just appeared in the other opening. When he gives me the sign, you and Miles will both start walking from these two paths to meet each other where they join up and walk together to the gazebo."
Sarah poked her head out to see the other opening about twenty feet down. Kevin appeared and gave her a little wave.
Sarah gave Amanda a big hug and whispered, "Now!"
Miles and Sarah walked along converging paths from their separate areas behind the backing hedge till they joined near to the gazebo.
Miles long strides had him at the intersection first and he turned to look at Amanda approaching. Miles nearly melted at the sight. A tender breeze played with her hair and the soft petals of her gown. He'd always thought her beautiful but now he added radiant, confident, graceful ... perfect!
When Amanda saw Miles waiting at the intersection for her, she once again thought she was dreaming. She didn't think it possible for him to look more handsome than he had but the sight of him in a tuxedo nearly stole her breath away. He was holding his hand out to her and when she neared she gladly placed hers in it. They walked the last ten feet together, hand in hand. Then climbed the back few steps to the gazebo and walked across to the opening on the other side which was close to the seated community. Kevin and Sarah had settled in with the rest of the family.
Miles began," Family and friends, we are pleased to have you here to witness as we make our pledges to each other."
Miles and Amanda turned to each other and clasped both hands.
Looking into Amanda's upturned face, Miles began,"Amanda, I know I've already told you this but wish to say it again. You complete me. You are a part of me that was missing. I think I knew almost immediately upon meeting you that I had finally met my life-mate but didn't acknowledge it to myself for a few days. When I did, I felt a deep inner sense of rightness and peace. I love you Amanda and wish to be your lover and the father of your children; your friend and confidante; your supporter in all you wish to do. I promise to respect and honor you. I will be there with you sharing all the trials and tribulations of life, as well as the joyous times. I pledge this day my love and loyalty to you, Amanda, as long as we both shall live."
Amanda looked into Miles eyes and started, "Miles, you came into my life and changed everything. I was sad, lonely, lost and confused. You gave me myself. For that I will be forever grateful. But more importantly, you taught me about love. You gave me love and made me feel beautiful, vital, alive and valued. I also learned that I had love in me to give. You opened up my life and my heart. I learnt to trust as well. I give my heart into your keeping as I know that it will be safe there. I will be with you through the years to share the tears and the laughter that life will send our way. I pledge this day my love and loyalty to you, Miles, as long as we both shall live."
Miles then bent his face to Amanda's and kissed her gently on the lips. He heard someone ... Kevin? ... say he could do better than that. He smiled and took Amanda completely into his arms. Amanda thought she'd heard Sarah say something about doing better so she put her arms around Miles neck. Then the two kissed long and deep and nothing could have been better. They both had forgot there was a crowd of people watching them until some of the laughter and comments penetrated their absorption with each other.
They broke the kiss but continued to look only at each other till they heard a "Ahem!" nearby. They looked over to see that Daniel had brought the landau around to the side of the gazebo. The happy couple scurried down the steps and over to the waiting carriage where Miles aided Amanda in and then joined her. It was off to the celebration with dining and dancing and then on to their first night in their house, which had already had the big brass bed installed in the master bedroom.
[Whimsical Woods Index]