The Saturday after Midsummer dawned cool and clear with the sun rising at 04:39. William was up bare minutes later, watching the horizon from the window of their bedroom. The sky was pinkish-blue in the most atrociously candy hues, the trees were obnoxiously green and the far lawn by the lake had been left unmown for several weeks, growing into a lovely, flowering mess. Girls had been working to make it into that state ever since Georgiana and Lucy had informed everyone of their plans in early spring.
Namely, Rose and Mina had pooled their considerable allowances and spent quite a lot of money on seeds. He would have bought whatever they wished, had he known about their plans, but all they asked him for was a permission to prepare the specific plot of grass chosen by Georgiana according to their aunt's wishes.
They had bought several dozens of packets of "meadow flowers", "butterfly-friendly mix", "climbing blooms", "sweet herbs" and "rustic bouquet" combinations and covered every square foot of the fenced-off area - vines by the fenceposts, everything else, well, everywhere else. They did it under the watchful eye of one of the gardeners, who helped them to achieve the happy balance between the grass and the flowers and oversaw the correct watering and care for the plot in the subsequent weeks.
The varieties chosen by the girls were quick to sprout and eager to flower, making the overgrown lawn a centre of activity for unusual number of butterflies and - what was slightly more worrisome - bees. Luckily, with it being rather removed from either of the houses Elizabeth avoided it easily, while it still provided entertainment to both guests touring the grounds and the girls themselves.
They had done allergy tests for the girls and they both turned out to be safe to eat, touch and breathe in most everything. Therefore, their involvement with the preparations for Georgiana's wedding was unimpeded by any mishaps and gave them the outlet for the same creative restlessness that drove Elizabeth to crocheting, knitting and programming.
He had to say, the result was astonishing.
He could even consider giving them more control over the gardens in the coming years. This definitely would make Rose happy, and as long as they kept their activities away from the formal gardens belonging to the main house, nobody could complain about a lawn gone to flower or unusual vegetables being tended to by his daughters. And if that kept them outside, active and content, well, all the better. They would probably have to brave several dinners cooked out of whatever edible the girls would manage to grow, but he was not going to let it stop him. Or them.
His wife's quiet murmur drew him away from the window.
End of second trimester.
If she allowed him, he would gladly carry her around everywhere to ensure she wouldn't need to exert herself overly.
She didn't, of course. Allow him, that is.
Like today, for example.
Today she was going to dress in her newly created gown (because simple "sewing" did not really reflect the work done on that dress) and, together with Lucy and Georgiana, lead a whole crowd of guests down to the lake side.
He would be praying for no bee-related accidents all day.
There were none.
The day was nearly perfect - apart from some mishaps involving children trying to jump into the duck pond - and he hoped his sister and sister-in-law would be able to look back at it with happiness for years to come.
The family breakfast gathered everyone downstairs - the Darcys, both Yang sisters, their parents, Susan's boyfriend, Mary and Jimmy, Richard and Evan, Richard's parents and, finally, Matthew and Leanna.
There was some quiet bickering between the two engaged couples, since Richard felt he was being upstaged by Georgiana — he had asked Elizabeth to be his best woman, while Georgie...!
Georgie answered that he should have thought about it himself and it wasn't her fault he wasn't imaginative enough.
"So, half past eleven downstairs?" Lucy's mother asked finally, as they all lazed about, finishing their coffee.
"Twenty past, just in case," he chewed his lip. "The girls will be already there, to make sure everything is set up, so all we have to do is to wait for the guests and walk down."
There was a marquee set up on the side of the manor, on the part of the main lawn furthest away from the new house, to avoid any unsightly pieces of machinery getting caught in the wedding photos, and a dancing floor next to it, strung with fairy lights and paper lanterns.
During the short but intensive planning process there were various concepts presented of how the day should be commemorated, before they settled on an open-air fest and dancing. Lucy's cousin Maya, unexpectedly, had floated the idea of releasing flying lanterns, as some kind of reminiscence of "Tangled", but before William had a chance to question the idea, Rose and Mina had shot it down so firmly that he could only sit back and watch in amazement as they tore the woman nearly to shreds, pointing out the inherent idiocy of the romantic vision she had. When they were done, nobody in the family had any doubt that there would be no flying candles encased in highly flammable paper and sharp wires being set free anywhere on the premises.
Also, that Maya would not be allowed access to anything more risky than safety scissors.
He had been slightly anxious that Lucy might have seen the girls' sudden intervention as overbearing or somehow intrusive, but since the very same day his sister-in-law-to-be had thanked the twins profusely for guarding the ceremony planning with such dedication, she apparently wasn't a fan of floating lanterns either.
So, the whole plan settled on a lakeside ceremony, a day on the grounds with light lunch, a dinner and dancing until everyone dropped, with an addition of a large bonfire to satisfy the ones seeking some Midsummer celebration.
The marquee was decorated with greenery, the dancing floor well-lit, the food waiting in the kitchen and the guests were slowly gathering in the front of the house, ready for the ceremony to begin.
This day? It had to be perfect.
Richard was watching the whole proceedings with an eye of a man already quite tired of all the wedding-related idiocy. Evan, however, seemed to be taking notes.
"The fact that your cousin managed to get this all organised in four months means she had some good help. I think I will hire these little devious nieces of yours to do some planning for us, too. I mean, all of this? And a full flowery meadow, just for the wedding? Rose told me how they planted all the little morning glories and sweetpeas around this, to cover the fence with vines. We won't be able to do this, of course, but these kids have some mad skills."
"William may not appreciate us abducting his girls to make them plan our party in Matlock. Mother would probably be rather unhappy if we tried, too."
The sigh heaved by his fiancé drew attention of people around them.
"I know. I know. Your mother has enough on her hands working with Leanna, we don't need to add to her burden."
"Very wise of you."
The crowd milling between the drive and the front door quieted as the heavy wings were both pushed open and both brides exited at the same time.
Georgiana, tall and even more slender-looking than usual, was wearing a light blue dress with slight pink and orange accents, sewn in seemingly random patches, making her look like a piece of the morning sky, with small wandering clouds reflecting early sunlight. Her overall cool look was complemented by Lucy's pale-green-and-yellow gown, cut in the same wide-necked, low-on-the-hips fashion with a long sash and trailing sleeves. Their hairdos were finished with flower crowns reflecting the others' colours - Georgie's short-cut bob was covered with green and yellow carnation wreath while Lucy's long, black mane was decorated with blue and pink cornflowers. It should have clashed. These colours had no business being worn by one person all at the same time.
Yet, it worked.
The same as Elizabeth, in her signature russet reds and fiery oranges, should have clashed with the brides.
And she didn't.
It all worked together rather perfectly.
They walked down the stairs - Elizabeth on William's arm - and slowly, down to the spot where Mina, Rose and Teddy were waiting, opening the bloom-wreathed gate and directing everyone to find a nice place amongst the flowers. There was a narrow lane mown in the wild growth, allowing people to walk without wading in knee-high greens and letting the brides and their chosen celebrant to make their way to the middle of the gathering.
Elizabeth climbed the small stone dais raised for the purpose and motioned Lucy and Georgiana closer to her.
"Dearly beloved..." she began, to everyone's merriment. "And not so beloved. Everyone. Friends and family. You came here to see these two lovely ladies see joined in matrimony... Well, you're late. We've signed the register with them last week in the office. There, you can all go, shoo."
Tittering and giggles went in a wave around the meadow.
"But, Lizzy, you promised!" Georgiana pouted theatrically and pulled on her sister-in-law's sleeve. "Come on!"
"Oh, very well. Very well. Come on then, come closer, since this little one is robbing me of my lung volume and I can't shout loud enough right now."
People crowded nearer to the dais, camera flashes going off here and there.
"Now, who gives this woman to be married to— to this woman?" Elizabeth pointed to the both of brides with her eyebrows raised high.
"Nobody!" came a thin cry from the other side of the crowd.
"Nobody!" another thin cry - ah, this time it was Rose - came from slightly closer to where Richard and Evan were standing.
Elizabeth was having a lot of fun with this.
"Because they don't belong to anyone! So they can't be given away!"
That was Mina again.
"Oh, well. That's... unexpected," Elizabeth scrunched her nose and looked down at the two brides - standing in front of her with the silliest possible grins. "So what am I supposed to do about the two of you?"
"Tell them they are married and let us all go and eat?!"
Everyone was smiling widely by now.
"I think there are some parts of the ceremony we shouldn't forgo, however," Elizabeth's hands landed on the brides' shoulders, turning them to face each other. "Now. You two. Do you have anything to say to each other?"
Georgiana reached out, gathering Lucy's hands in hers.
"Lu-Lu, I... I never imagined I'd find someone like you. You make me feel seen. You make me feel like I am real. You make me want to try new things and to keep doing old things, you make me go slow and you make me run towards the future. You make me feel safe. I can only hope I can do the same for you, forever. I promise I will try."
Her fiancée — well, wife — had some obvious trouble getting her voice to start working.
"Georgiana Darcy, you make me go soft. And mushy. And—" she swallowed. "I love you. I remember the first time we met and I don't understand how I managed to not fall in love with you at the first sight. I needed at least ten minutes, I think. Silly me. I hope you can stand my silliness for years to come. I promise I will be there for you."
Silence was only broken by the remote whispering of slight wind in the bushes around the lake, as the brides kissed sweetly in the middle of the quiet, teary crowd.
"Now, I pronounce you wives. You don't need my permission to kiss — you don't need anyone's permission to kiss. Or to do anything else. We've all witnessed you promise things - not very easy things, either - to try. To be there. To be together. Everyone heard them?"
That was Mina.
"Yes!" shouted several more voices from the crowd.
"Very well, then. Lucy and Georgiana Darcy-Yang, everyone!"
A loud cheering arose from the crowd as the wives kissed again - and William helped Elizabeth down from the little platform.
"Nice," Richard whispered to Evan, watching people crowding the newlywed pair. "Weird, wild, unconventional. Completely not like the Georgiana I knew as a kid."
"She grew up, Rick. She is not a kid anymore, old man."
"Don't. Just don't. Let's go congratulate them."
Before they could make their way through the crowd however, both brides were already standing on the dais vacated by Elizabeth, looking at each other with smiles. Georgiana took off Lucy's wreath, bowing her head to allow her wife to fetch hers. At a shout from the crowd, in one synchronous move, they threw the flowery accessories up, high, high above the crowd...
One of them landed, slightly off-center, on Evan's head.
The other hit Mina.
The epic explosion of fatherly concern from William's side was overshadowed by his husbandly concern the moment Elizabeth voiced her need to get back to the house and comforts of her own room. The short "I'll be watching you two," that Will threw in Mina and Teddy's direction was all he could manage before he had to hurry up and help his wife. The kids rolled their eyes and slowly followed their elders - Mina wearing the cornflower crown and Teddy with one blue flower stuck behind his ear.
"Do you think he will ever allow us to, like, go on an actual date?"
"I'm kind of afraid that thing about me being sixteen before we can date has just been quietly modified to twenty-one."
"Then I will just resign myself to quietly pining away."
"Oh, come here, Strickland, stop being so dramatic."
Richard sneaked a glance over his shoulder to check what made the boy go so quiet so suddenly.
Mina was standing on her tiptoes - most probably, since it was hard to see in the tall grass - and kissing Teddy. Rather soundly.
Evan pulled his sleeve, turning him away from the teens.
"If you dare to say anything to Mina today, I will tell Leanna you secretly wish to have a Robin Hood themed wedding," he threatened in an undertone.
That was a risk Richard was not willing to take.
She was happy. Stupid happy, someone could say. Completely silly happy.
Like, happy in a way she had not ever predicted she would be.
Like, she hadn't ever thought a piece of paper from the Town Hall and a gathering in the middle of a flowery meadow could make her.
Like, Lucy was holding her hand, and there were their friends and families all around them and there was Elizabeth who had actually gotten them married, and everyone was happy, silly happy, for them.
She was married.
She was married.
People said they were too similar.
People said they would not last.
People said that opposites attract.
Georgiana was having none of that.
She knew better.
People pointed out that Elizabeth and William were such opposites.
Georgiana was having none of that, either.
She definitely knew better.
Because Elizabeth and William were, in fact, one and the same. Fundamentally good people, interested in making others happy, creative and innovative, if each in a different manner.
People only saw the face her brother and sister-in-law presented to the people - the hard businessman and the flighty artistic academic.
They never saw how similar Mr and Mrs Darcy were, deep inside.
It was all because of the music. She and Lucy were both working in the same area - Lucy as a teacher and performer, Georgiana as researcher and performer. They had very similar education, grew up in the same county, had vaguely overlapping interests—
They would soon tire of each other. Grow bored.
It was all balderdash.
She loved Lucy, Lucy loved her. They both loved playing, singing, teaching children (even if Georgiana had less experience doing that, she still knew she liked it), tinkering with old instruments. They had similar, but not perfectly identical, taste in music, movies and books. Georgiana had introduced Lucy to urban fantasy novels while Lucy had shown her the corners of the internet Georgiana had never dared to touch before (now she had a tumblr account!) and both accepted that they would never be 100% identical - because they were separate people.
They had hit the right balance of being just different enough to make it interesting and just similar enough to allow them to feel comfortable with each other.
Mostly, she thought, people were jealous. Jealous of the way the two of them found each other and the way they were perfect for each other.
She pulled Lucy into another kiss, as people cheered around them.
"Wife," she caught the smaller hand, adorned with a single, simple band of silver shot with a line of rose gold. "Let's get our guests back home."
She didn't need anyone's validation of her feelings. She had Lucy, Lucy had her. Their families were happy for them, their friends supported them on every step.
The weather was promising to be lovely, the sun was high in the sky and it was the second longest day in the year. It was the best day to be alive for.