There’s something so intimate about the way he holds her left hand in his as he ties the ribbon around her wrist, looping it in elegant knots and crosses as he works it up, up, up until it starts to secure her hand with his, clasped tightly together with their fingers entwined. Vex has done a lot of things with Percy-- a lot of them intimate, although in different ways. This, though; this feels almost soul-baring, standing so close to him as he ties them together, although it’s not just ribbon he’s binding them together with.
Moonlight filters in through the window of her library, painting their forms in an odd light as he works. It’s-- it’s a spur of the moment thing, really, and maybe they should wait, but there’s a part of her that wants this. This quiet solitude, this feeling of just the two of them, like they’re all that matters in this moment; and they are, at least with this.
“Do human nobles not use rings?” she asks, amused, and her voice startles him. They’ve been quiet for a while now.
“Ah, we do.” He gives her a sheepish little smile, the moonlight reflecting off his glasses. “This is just… a much older ceremony, I suppose. Now it’s more often for it to occur in times of war when there’s no time for rings or formalities like weddings. Or, in our case, on a whim.”
“I’m okay with whims,” she says softly, tilting her head up slightly so their lips are almost touching, but not quite, his head bowed to inspect his work, the angle not quite right.
“As am I,” he murmurs, and starts working the ribbon down his own hand. And it’s fascinating, Vex realizes as she watches him work. The way the blue-- blue like his eyes, like her old feathers, like his coat and the skies he helped her to fry freely through-- looks against their skin, twining around their hands and across her dark olive skin and onto his own pale. It seems right, seeing them together like that, their bond laid out physically with the little blue ribbon.
“And I know it’s old, but-- well, it’ll still count, right?” She bites her lip, and it’s adorable the way his eyes dart to her mouth, his fingers fumbling over their work as his gaze is caught by that little movement. She smiles despite herself. What a silly man she’s fallen in love with.
“Of course,” he says, and clears his throat, his cheeks reddening as he looks back down at the ribbon and starts again. “We’ll have to see Keeper Yennen and, well, Cassandra, but this will stand in the records as a marriage ceremony.”
“Good,” she says.
"I'll have rings commissioned once we talk to them." He glances up at her apologetically. "I hope you don't mind that you'll have to wait."
She smiles at him fondly. "I don't care about a ring, I care about you."
He doesn't respond with words, but the look he gives her says enough.
The silence falls over them again, although it’s not uncomfortable. Silence is rarely uncomfortable with Percy, instead wrapping around them like a warm blanket, familiar. On impulse, she takes her free hand and settles it on the back of his neck, pulling him down a little bit more so his forehead rests against hers. He pauses, momentarily caught off guard, but then he resumes his work, one corner of his mouth quirking up.
Finally, she asks, “Do we have to say anything?”
He’s tying the last couple of knots now, his hands stilling at her question. “I’ll have to say the words that a cleric would traditionally say at the end of the tying, but, ah, I’m guessing that’s not what you’re asking.”
“Um, it’s just that-- well, the way I grew up hearing it, there were vows. You know, promises about how we’d treat each other, what we mean to each other.” She gives a little laugh then, feeling a bit childish. “It’s silly, I know. It’s not as if we both don’t already know how much we mean to each other, or how we want to treat each other. I mean, we are here, aren’t we?”
“It’s not silly,” he reassures, and she glances up to meet his eyes, their foreheads still pressed together. His eyes are impossibly soft and impossibly blue, even in the dim light of the library. “We do vows for big wedding ceremonies, but who’s to say we can’t do vows here, too?”
She can’t help the soft little gasp of excitement that escapes her lips. “Can we?”
Amusement glistens in his eyes, settling in nicely with the warm affection so obvious as he looks at her. “Of course, dear. Anything you want, we can do. It’s just us. Do whatever makes this happier for you.”
“I’m already very happy,” she says, and she means it. It feels like there's a light in her chest, burning bright, not quite like sunlight but more so the easy, gentle flame of a candle; not overpowering but cozy and warm. She’s felt like this a lot with him, true, but never more than this moment as they stand together.
“Is that the start of your vows?” Percy teases, and she reaches up with a free hand to whack his shoulder, earning a sweet laugh from-- her boyfriend? No. Husband? Not yet. Fiancé? No, that’s not quite right either. Lover? Not personal enough.
There it is. Her heart.
She smiles despite herself at the revelation, big and wide. “No. Why don’t you start then, darling?”
He chuckles. “I’m not quite sure I have the words.”
“Try,” she says, tilting her head to look at him, her smile softening.
“Alright. Well.” He holds the ribbon in place, not yet tied off-- she guesses he’s waiting to say the words that will officially bond them together, and for a moment she feels guilty for making him wait, but he doesn’t seem to mind. “You are… a lot.”
She can’t help but laugh at that. “So I’ve been told!”
“Hush, dear,” he says, but he’s smiling at her. “You are Mistress of the Grey Hunt of Whitestone.”
“Just going for my titles, then?” she teases, and in lieu of whacking her shoulder he leans forward a bit more and bops his nose against hers gently, making her giggle.
“Darling, I will turn this marriage ceremony around.”
“No! No, please, Percy! Go on!”
He huffs exasperatedly, although he’s clearly not bothered by her interruptions in the slightest. “You are-- you will be Baroness of the First House of Whitestone.”
And suddenly her breath catches, almost as if she’s been hit in the stomach. She hadn’t-- she hadn’t realized-- her title, her name--
“You are my heart,” he says, and she reaches up to cover her mouth, suddenly overwhelmed, not just because it’s setting in that this is happening but-- he feels it too. She is his heart. “And you are my judgement.”
Vex sniffles, wetness rapidly beginning to well up in her eyes. Carefully, she moves her hand from her face and settles it against the crook of his neck, her breath shaky.
Their hands are bound together now, but still he finds a way to gently brush his thumb against hers, up and down in a way that’s nearly entrancing. “And you are the future that I have chosen.”
It’s like the dam bursts, and with a tiny whimper the tears begin to flow down her flushed cheeks. No amount of blinking can stop them now.
“Oh, Vex,” Percy murmurs, and tilts his head so he can press kisses against her cheeks where the tears have started to fall. She sniffles uselessly, the hand at his nape tightening in his shirt. She lets her eyelids flutter shut. “Dear, dearest, darling, my love, my heart--”
His voice is impossibly soft as he says the endearments, punctuating each one with a kiss against her damp cheeks.
“I’m sorry,” she says, her voice creaking.
“Don’t,” he says gently. “Don’t be sorry. It’s okay. It’s okay to cry.”
She laughs at that, ending in a small sniffle. “Then why aren’t you crying, Percy?”
“Give me a minute,” he says, and when she opens her eyes to meet his, she finds them red-rimmed and glistening a little too brightly.
“Oh,” Vex says.
“Oh,” he agrees, his mouth quirking up on one side. “I think it’s your turn, my dear.”
“Oh,” she says again, and now he laughs.
“I do believe we’re going to have to say something besides ‘oh’ sooner or later, Vex’ahlia.”
She licks her lips, thinking. “It’s much harder coming up with vows on the spot than I initially thought when I suggested this.”
“The true fatal flaw of this plan,” he says, and she smiles.
“Percival,” she says finally, and she moves to rest her forehead against his again, “Fredrickstein Von Musel--”
“Oh no,” Percy says.
“--Klossowski de Rolo--”
“You’re really doing this.”
“--the Third.” She barrels through it. “You are… the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
His eyes, full of exasperation and amusement a second ago, suddenly soften at her words.
“I didn’t-- I wasn’t born with a lot. And I didn’t get to keep what little I had when I grew up, just… just my brother. But besides him, I had nothing, really. No one else who cared about me, no home to call my own.” Her free hand slowly creeps up so she can cup his face, her words slow as she painstakingly picks them out. “And then I found you.”
He takes a shuddering breath.
“You helped me feel okay when everything felt like it was crashing down around me, and-- and you stayed at my side when I asked you to, and you taught me I was enough. And it took me a long time to realize it, but suddenly I had somewhere to call a home again for the first time in a long time.” She blinks rapidly, her vision starting to swim as she smiles at him through the tears. “It was you, Percy. You’re my home.”
Percy suddenly looks like he’s been struck, his mouth parting and his blue eyes widening. Gods, how she loves him.
She shakes her head a little bit. “I’m not quite sure what’s ahead of us now, but I just… I know that whatever it is, I want to face the future with you.”
They’re quiet for a moment. Percy sniffles, and when she stands on her tip-toes to kiss his cheek she finds it damp.
“Darling,” she says softly, and she rubs his cheek, drawing his attention back to her, “I think we still have a bit more to do.”
He clears his throat and takes a deep, shaky breath before he slowly nods his head. Carefully he loops the ribbon twice more, and then--
“I need help,” he says a moment later, running his tongue over his bottom lip. She raises an eyebrow at him. “Usually it’s the officiant that will tie the bond, but, ah-- well, I only have one hand. I’m afraid I’ll need to borrow one of yours.”
She can’t help but smile. “It seems rather fitting, doesn’t it? That both of us have to finish it?”
He laughs hoarsely. “I suppose it is.”
With her help, he manages to finish the last of the knots, binding their hands together in an elegant and intricate pattern of blue ribbon. She looks down at it in awe.
“It’s beautiful,” she murmurs.
“It is,” he agrees. “Now I just… have to say the ceremonial words.”
“Now’s your chance to back out,” she jokes, and she surprises herself by not being worried in the slightest that he will.
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” he says. “And you?”
“You’ll have to try much harder to get rid of me, I’m afraid.”
And then he surprises her, cupping the back of her neck and pulling her closer, pressing his lips close to her ear as he starts to speak. The words are quiet, whispered like a prayer, and she knows Percy isn’t religious but when he speaks to her like this she feels damn near holy. She lets her eyes close, the gentleness of his voice washing over her.
The words take longer than she expected, although perhaps it’s just because time seems to stretch like this. Part of her knows this is something she’ll come back to for the rest of her life, and even with her eyes closed she tries to memorize the way he sounds, the way his breath warms her ear, the gentle restriction of the ribbon binding their hands together and so much more than that. Finally, though, his words come to an end.
“What now?” Vex asks quietly, breathlessly.
“That’s very simple.” His voice is a low rumble in her ear, rough at the edges from speaking and from tears.
And then he pulls back and kisses her.
It’s not-- look. Vex has kissed Percy a lot. They’ve had a lot of really good ones. A lot of sweet ones and hot ones, fleeting pecks on the way out the door and steamy ones that lead to something more. This one, though, she’s surprised to find, is somehow all of them and none of them, even if she finds it hard to wrap her brain around that. It’s familiar and warm and Percy, with an underlying emotion to it, and yet at the same time it’s like nothing she’s ever felt before, unlike any kiss she’s ever had.
And it occurs to her, very quietly in the back of her mind, that it’s not just Percy she’s kissing now, it’s her husband.
She melts into the kiss at that realization, into him, and he seems all too happy to accept her, equally desperate for her kiss, for her touch and affection. And Percy has always been touch-starved with her, clinging to anything she’s willing to give him, but now he kisses her like she’s his lifeline, like she’s the only thing in the world that matters to him-- and perhaps she is.
It takes all of her willpower to finally pull away from the kiss, separating with a soft gasp. Percy blinks rapidly, looking more than a little dazed.
“Is that it?” Her voice is hoarse.
“I… yes. I do believe it is.” His mouth tilts up in a small smile. “Lady de Rolo.”
“Say it again,” she whispers, because she can’t help herself.
“Lady Vex’ahlia de Rolo,” he says, and her breath hitches because oh, that’s even better.
He leans down then, resting his forehead against hers yet again.
Beginning to tear up again, she whacks him on his shoulder with her hand that isn’t bound.
Percy yelps. “Hey! What was that for?”
“You liar!” Vex says accusingly, a big grin spreading across her face despite the wetness gathering in her eyes again.
His eyebrows scrunch up in the cutest way. “What did I lie about?”
“You said you didn’t have the words! And then you gave me that-- that fucking gorgeous little speech about me being your heart and your future and--” She waves her free hand around rapidly. “--then you made me feel things!”
“It was our vows, Vex! I should hope you felt something, even if they were hastily thought of on the spot!” But he’s smiling again, and he puts his free hand on the small of her back and pulls her to him, her body easily melting against his.
She leans her cheek against his chest, her ear right above his heart. Her eyelids flutter shut as she listens to the steady thump, thump, thump--
And on it goes.
“They were very good vows on the spot and it’s not fair,” she finally says, eyes still closed.
“I could say the same for yours.”
She laughs shakily at that, burying her face in his chest now, the front of his shirt damp with her tears. She feels his hand leave her back, settling now in her hair, fingers tangling into the elaborate braid she wore for this, past the strings of pearls she weaved into it.
“My husband,” she whispers, and she hears Percy inhale sharply at her words.
“My wife,” he says, and she can tell by the way he says it that it still feels funny in his mouth.
“Doesn’t feel real yet, does it?”
“No,” he admits. Then he lifts the hand still bound to hers, moving her hand as well. “Although this definitely feels real.”
She giggles. “Perhaps we should undo that before we both lose circulation.”
“Perhaps.” Although when she pulls back from his chest, he’s looking down at the ribbon almost wistfully. “It’s such a shame to get rid of it, though. The pattern really is lovely.”
Vex smiles up at him. “Admiring your own handy work?”
He somehow manages to flush an even deeper red. “I-- I just--”
She laughs. “Oh, darling, I’m just teasing.” She leans up and pecks him on the cheek. “It is quite pretty, though, isn’t it? You’ve been holding out on me.”
One of his eyebrows shoots up. “Have I? How?”
Her smile slides into a smirk, unable to help herself. “Well, if I knew you were this good with knots and making them look pretty, we would mostly certainly be using that more.”
There’s a long pause as he looks at her. Finally, he says, “I mean, we do have all night.”
She laughs, caught off-guard by his answer, before reaching up to tousle his hair. “That’s the spirit, Percival!” After a moment, she adds, “Although perhaps we’ll leave the self-indulgent knot-tying for a different time that isn’t our wedding night.”
“I don’t know,” he says with a snort. “I’m pretty sure our wedding night is exactly the time for self-indulgent things.”
“Oh, trust me. I plan to indulge myself.” She kisses him again, although this time it’s brief, letting her lips linger against his just long enough for him to attempt to lean into it before she pulls away again, smiling wide. A second passes and her smile softens. “I adore you, you know?”
He looks back at her with unfathomable warmth in his eyes. “I do know, but it’s nice to hear it. I’m rather fond of you as well.”
“Fond enough to spend the rest of your life with me?” she teases.
“This one and the next,” he says, and there’s such a raw honestly in his voice and in his eyes as he answers her that it takes her breath away.
Overwhelmed with how much she loves him once more, she buries her face in his chest again, his heart against her cheek, ever-steady: thump, thump, thump--
And so it goes.