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Constellations

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FANFICTION

SPY X FAMILY

CONSTELLATIONS

CHAPTER I: Everything would be alright…

 

The car hadn't pulled up all the way to the entrance of the manor that Damian already felt like running away in a hole. The amount of cars and catering trucks gathered in front of the Desmond Estate was far more than he would have expected.

 

“It looks like we’ve arrived at the perfect time,” Anya commented, looking out the window, a pinch of irony in her voice.

 

It was so crowded with cars and various workers that they had to stop the car long before the marble stairs leading upwards and they finished the last fifty metres on foot. Damian was doing his best to not be noticed, although several family house staff bowed to him, while Anya looked around. Many caterers were arguing, for some reason, and the house staff couldn’t make sense of what was going on. The beehive atmosphere quickly made her feel dizzy from too many thoughts and she leaned against Damian’s side.

 

They had just arrived up the stairs when a tall figure sped by them.

 

“Demetrius!” Damian called, turning around as his brother tried to sneak out of the main entrance (not the most discreet).

 

“Damian, Anya, you’ve arrived.”

 

Demetrius blinked, as if he had forgotten they had been invited. He looked quite unlike himself. He didn’t wear any of his sharp three-piece suits like usual, his hair was dishevelled, and he even looked a little pale. Wide-eyed as he was, he almost looked like a sorry version of their father.

 

“Are you alright?” Damian asked, raising an eyebrow to see him so messy.

 

Demetrius grabbed his brother’s shoulders, leaning forward, his eyes somehow protruding even more:

 

“Do not EVER get married, Damian… Ever!”

 

Before he could even answer to that, a voice rang from the mansion’s hallway.

 

“Demetrius! We need you!” Their mother, the elegant Lady Dafni Desmond, called from the entrails of the house.

 

“You didn’t see me!” Demetrius hissed before quickly leaving.

 

He slipped behind the main entrance, into the stables and completely out of sight. Just then, Dafni stumbled out of the entrance, stopping abruptly to see Damian and Anya standing there.

 

“Oh! Oh, my darlings, you’ve arrived!” She exclaimed, embracing them joyfully, “Thank goodness, we need you so much! You haven’t happened to see your brother, have you?” She immediately asked, turning towards her younger son.

 

Damian and Anya shared a look.

 

“Ah, um, I’m afraid not… Perhaps in the greenhouse?” he answered, although he knew Demetrius never stepped in there.

 

Dafni pursed her lips, looking around the crowd of people going in and out of the mansion.

 

“Where has he gone… Nevermind that, Damian, Anya, go find Diana, she’s upstairs. Your clothes have arrived from the tailor! I need to find Demetrius…”

 

She immediately hurried down the stairs, clearly seeking her older son, while giving orders to the different people seeking her guidance.

 

“My dress! I want to try it on! After all this time!!” Anya exclaimed, rushing into the house.

 

“WAIT–”

 

Damian had no choice but watch his girlfriend disappear.

 

Anya hurried up the marble stairs, now quite familiar with the Desmond manor after over a year of dating Damian. They didn’t visit that often, but she loved exploring this huge house so much that they always found some new hidden room or corner he wasn’t familiar with. It helped that it looked like a small castle, and she had always wanted to live in a castle!

 

She heard the laughter of Diana and the rest of her bridesmaids and friends, and she followed the sound. She arrived at the door with a huge smile. Everyone stopped laughing, looking up, then a series of shrieks and giggles echoed upon Anya’s arrival.

 

“Anya!”

 

“Anya is here!”

 

“Anya! How lovely to see you again!”

 

Diana was the first to stand up to greet her, kissing her on the cheeks cheerfully before drawing her closer into the room.

 

“How were your exams?”

 

“Has Damian arrived too?”

 

“What about your handsome parents?”

 

A little overwhelmed by all the questions from Diana’s friends, Anya chuckled a little. They got her on a chair, and they immediately started catching up on the latest news and gossip.

 

When Diana had asked her to be one of her bridesmaids, Anya had been enchanted. Then, the reality of having to spend hours and hours with a group of women, adult women, she didn’t know at all had made her incredibly nervous. But Diana had made her very welcome, and Diana’s sisters, Frida and Elena, were much nicer than she had initially thought. All of Diana’s friends, although older than the three young women by almost ten years, were all far too kind and elegant to think lowly of their presence.

 

The real turning point had been when all these accomplished ladies had learned of Anya’s story with Damian… Childhood rivals, the poor boy she had punched into love over a decade ago, years of hesitation and uncertainty before finally realising that they had fallen in love with each other and how deep their love had become… Fighting against Damian’s family expectations, her own family’s worries, and continually proving again and again how important they were for one another… After the terrorist attack at Eden, after officially meeting Damian’s family, after… all the events of last summer which had drawn them even closer. Her love story with Damian had made all the ladies adore her (and Damian, to an extent) and she had officially been adopted by all these new older sisters.

 

“Your bridesmaid’s dress has arrived!” Adele exclaimed, standing up to go to the clothes rack covered of fluffy clothes hidden by clothes covers.

 

Anya excitedly joined her as they found the one wither name tag. Adele pulled it off and opened the clothe cover. Anya gasped, grabbing the beautiful fabric. She took it into her hands and jumped in front of the mirror, putting the dress in front of her. The light blue fabric shimmered and the embroidery around the chest and the traps were the loveliest thing Anya had ever seen.

 

“Do you like it?” Diana asked with a smile, “I asked for little details to be changed for each of my bridesmaids… I hope it’s alright.”

 

Anya’s fingers brushed over the embroidered butterflies and flowers.

 

“Butterflies?” she asked, turning towards Diana.

 

Her smile turned a little sad:

 

“After everything you’ve been through last summer… all the changes you’ve had to endure… I thought it fitting… Is… is this okay? We can still switch it if you’re uncomfortable–”

 

“I love it…” Anya said, tearing up a little that Diana had been so thoughtful of her past and what it now represented for her.

 

Unlike so many people, Diana was one of the rare ones to have no shame in accepting what Anya had gone through, giving her company and comfort when she had felt lost and horrified.

 

Anya turned towards her and leaned over the couch Diana was sitting on, hugging her tightly.

 

“Thank you so much, Diana!” she exclaimed.

 

She hugged her back, chuckling a little.

 

“You’re welcome, Anya,” she answered, “But now, you must tell me everything that happened since I left Berlint! It’s only been two weeks, but it feels like forever!”

 

She patted her side and Anya sat down just as someone knocked at the door, still half-opened. All the ladies turned to see Damian awkwardly standing in the doorway.

 

“H-hey… Diana. Nice to see you again,” he greeted, giving a little wave.

 

“Damian! It’s so good to see you!” Diana exclaimed, standing up and quickly embracing him.

 

“Diana, he’s a boy! Kick him out!!” Beatrice, one of her best friends, joked from her seat.

 

“It’s bad luck for anyone to see the bride before the wedding!” Adele exclaimed with a laugh.

 

They all started chuckling, except Diana who glanced at Damian.

 

“It’s only bad luck if Demetrius sees me in my wedding dress… Talking of Demetrius, have you seen him, Damian? Your mother has been looking for him for hours…”

 

“Ah… uh…”

 

He glanced quickly at Anya, then shrugged. He didn’t look the slightest bit convincing.

 

“I’m not sure, no, I haven’t see him… I was just uh… passing by to tell Anya that your luggage has been left in your bedroom… the same as usual…”

 

“The same she won’t use for a single night while staying here, mm?” Diana teased, crossing her arms over her chest as she glanced between the two young people.

 

They blushed while all the ladies Oooo’ed and Aaaaw’ed, which didn’t help with their red cheeks.

 

“I’ll just… uh, go! See you later!” Damian exclaimed, quickly escaping the pink and blue room full of too many women.

 

Most ladies laughed at his embarrassment, swooning over how adorable he and Anya were. Diana followed into the laughter, but as she sat down next to Anya, the latter realised it didn’t reach her eyes. Anya glanced at her, blinking. She didn’t have time to read her mind that Adele was continuing with the discussion…

 

That evening, as expected, Anya sneaked out of her bedroom and into Damian’s. She knew she couldn’t be caught in the hallways going to see him, so she used her usual way: hopping from balcony to balcony until she reached his. She knocked at the window door, and he opened a short moment later.

 

“You have to stop doing that. One day you’re going to trip and crack your skull,” he scolded, frowning.

 

“I missed you too,” she said, going up on her tiptoes to kiss him quickly on the lips.

 

She walked past him as he sighed, closing the window door.

 

“What have you been up to all afternoon?” she asked, plopping down on his big bed and hugging her favourite pillow.

 

He joined her, sitting on the edge of the bed, sighing once more.

 

“Hunting my brother everywhere… We didn’t find him, and mother is furious.”

 

Anya observed him.

 

“Isn’t he very busy, though?”

 

“I think mother has harassed him too much and he’s panicking somewhere…” Damian answered with a shrug, dropping on the mattress.

 

She remained silent for a short moment, looking down.

 

“The wedding is in a week… And Diana was a little strange too. Do you think something happened between them?”

 

Damian opened his eyes, glancing at her.

 

“I hope not… Demetrius would be devastated.”

 

Anya let go of the pillow to huddle against him. He put his arm around her, drawing her close to him. He kissed her forehead.

 

“I hope not too… they’re perfect for each other. Like us.”

 

“Ah? Did all your new best friends say that? Becky will be heartbroken,” he teased.

 

She smirked, raising her head to look down at him.

 

“By the way, did you know that everyone is apparently aware that I sneak into your room every time I stay at the estate?”

 

“…I’m not surprised. At that point, I believe only my mother still thinks us innocent and chaste.”

 

“If only she knew what we’re up to when we’re left alone…” Anya continued, voice lowering as she slowly approached her lips to his.

 

Damian started grinning. He slid his fingers against her cheeks and into her hair, pushing it backwards so he could admire her eyes.

 

“She’d pass out in shock…” he whispered, capturing her lips into his.

 

Anya giggled into the kiss as he drew her over him.

 

*

 

Demetrius was watching the stars in-between the few branches far above his head. He was lying on the stone bench in the small forest of the estate. He let out a long breath and smoke rose into the air. He slid his cigarette back between his lips just as he heard the familiar claps of horse galloping closer. He looked up just as he guessed, in the mid-darkness, the figure of Diana on the back of her favourite mare. Dressed in comfortable dark clothes, the only thing he could distinguish was her glowing blond hair, illuminated by the moon.

 

She slowed down when she approached him, then slid off the horse effortlessly.

 

“I knew I’d find you here,” she said, tying her mare to a nearby tree.

 

Demetrius sat up, blowing the smoke out of his lungs. She approached him and took the cigarette from his fingers, smoking a few puffs before turning her head to the sky. He put his hands against her sides, drawing her close enough to press his forehead against her stomach.

 

“My mother is going to be the death of me…” he whined, closing his eyes.

 

Diana giggled, the sound reverberating into her entire body, all the way to him.

 

“She’s very excited.”

 

He looked up, glaring.

 

“I don’t think it’s quite the right word for what she’s doing…”

 

Diana smiled, sitting next to him, giving him back the cigarette.

 

“You’re her first son, and you’re getting married. Of course, she’s very excited and happy. It’s understandable.”

 

“Your mother is perfectly sane,” he mumbled, glaring at a spot in the forest.

 

“My mother has two more daughters to marry after me, she’s got plenty of time to get emotional. Don’t forget that… after so many years of difficulty, your mother is finally feeling at peace with your father’s crimes. She probably sees our wedding as the mark that… everything is getting good again. She’ll have to say goodbye to the son she could protect from everything, even if you always assumed you never needed her.”

 

He fell silent, looking down. He glanced at the mostly finished cigarette. He pressed it under the bench until there was no spark and abandoned the cigarette stub at his feet. There were far more than before, and it was all because of the stress of the last two weeks. The wedding itself, he was looking forward to… He didn’t feel particularly anxious about it all. But his mother had a gift in making the entire ordeal a nightmare. She was nit-picking everything, changing orders, colours, ideas, just so it’d be Absolute Perfection.

 

For the first time in his life, Demetrius didn’t want perfection. He just wanted his wedding with Diana to be simple and authentic.

 

He had tried talking to Dafni, Diana had also tried calming her down, but there was no quieting his mother when she was this extravagant.

 

He understood that she was happy for him… He was glad of it. He just hoped it didn’t involve slowly grinding his will to get married into dust.

 

“Hey, look on the bright side,” Diana continued, “As soon as we’re married, she’ll focus all her energy on Damian and Anya!”

 

Demetrius frowned, glancing at her smile.

 

“As soon as we’re married, she’ll ask us every week when we’ll give her a grandchild…”

 

“And we told her she’ll have to wait a long while, we’re in no hurry to make any baby… Your brother and Anya, on the other hand–”

 

They are too young to get married or even think of children!” Demetrius exclaimed, “They’re still in high school, they still have a year before graduation, and then, they have their postgraduate studies to think of.”

 

Diana snorted. He realised a moment too late that she had been joking. Demetrius rolled his eyes, not certain his brother’s mind was that far removed from Diana’s joke.

 

“Everything will be alright, Demetrius,” Diana said, leaning her head against his shoulder.

 

He slid his fingers between hers until her hand was all he held onto. He leaned towards her, kissing her deeply. She kissed him back, standing up again above him. She cupped his cheeks, raising his face to hers. She bent down, kissing him again, more, deeper. His hands went to her sides and immediately started pushing her jacket off her shoulders. She sat over his laps as he kept exploring her mouth with his tongue and her skin with his hands.

 

“Aren’t we supposed to stay chaste until the wedding night?” she asked in a breath, pulling off his shirt, glad of the summer breeze that lingered even after nightfall.

 

“We’re only supposed to stay in separated bedrooms…” he corrected, lifting her to lower her on the ground.

 

She grinned as he bent over her. Only the forest and the starry night witnesses to their love making.

 

*

 

The following morning, when Damian and Anya walked, hand in hand, into the family’s breakfast room, only Demetrius, Diana and her parents were present.

 

“Hi, Mr and Mrs Blum… Good morning, Demetrius, Diana,” Damian greeted.

 

“Please, no need to be so formal, Damian. We’re about to be family. Call us by our first names,” Mrs Blum – no, Alicia, told him, sipping her morning coffee.

 

He smiled to her for apology as they sat down, servants bringing them some delicious breakfast. Anya immediately started eating, delighting in the Desmond family’s cook yet again. Damian glanced at his brother who was yawning into his coffee.

 

“…You came back late last night.”

 

“And how would you know unless you were still up?” Demetrius replied, giving him a deadpanned expression.

 

“Your bedroom is next to mine. You woke me up. I hear everything.”

 

“In that case, you might want to move into another bedroom after the wedding night!” Mr Blum, no – Frederik – exclaimed with a big laugh.

 

“Dad, please…” Diana mumbled, flushing in embarrassment.

 

To Damian’s great delight, Demetrius looked mortified. He started grinning at his older brother, but Diana caught sight of the glimmer in Damian’s eyes and leaned forward:

 

“Perhaps Anya’s bedroom will finally be used after all this time…”

 

Anya chocked on her mouthful of eggs and bacon, pressing her hand in front of her mouth. Damian glared at Demetrius and Diana, both smirking, while softly tapping Anya’s back.

 

“You two are shameless,” Damian said.

 

“I’m not the one who has explored the family library in unique angles,” Demetrius replied, perfectly calm as he picked up the newspapers.

 

“Demetrius! Don’t say anything like that in front of mother or she’ll skin me alive!!”

 

“Then, that will teach you a lesson on gentlemanly behaviour.”

 

“Oh, he’s a perfect gentleman…” Anya commented, cheeks flushed.

 

“Anya!!” Damian cried out, turning red.

 

She glanced at him sheepishly. It made his heart missed a beat and he almost fell off the chair.

 

What, I’m only being honest… It’s a compliment. You’re always–”

 

The door suddenly opened, and everyone fell silent as Dafni walked in, carrying several papers, lists and bouquets of flowers in her arms. Frederik and Alicia Blum glanced at each other, trying to smother their laughter.

 

“Good morning, everyone! Today is a wonderful and busy day!”

 

Demetrius looked frightened and about to bolt out when Dafni dropped the whole bunch of flowers and wedding plans in front of him.

 

“Mother, please–” he started, bringing his fingers to the edge of his nose.

 

“I was thinking of reorganising the table plans. I looked over them yesterday and–”

 

“Why do such a thing? They’ve been ready for weeks…” Diana commented.

 

“I don’t want the Forger left all alone with people they don’t know!”

 

She smiled cheerfully at Anya who grimaced a little.

 

“Oh, don’t worry about my parents… They’re very good at making friends with complete strangers, my father will be enchanted to make new acquaintances and–”

 

“Nonsense, we need to show people that you’re my future daughter-in-law, we can’t let your parents be too far away from the main table!”

 

Damian and Anya flushed, glancing at each other.

 

“Mother, they’re not even engaged–” Demetrius continued, closing his eyes.

 

“Because you won’t let them–”

 

“They’re in high school!”

 

“And I had met your father at that age, and he was discussing our engagement with my father, this isn’t relevant!”

 

“Decades have passed, things have changed! You can’t expect them to get married any time soon! Forget them, give us some peace, for heaven’s sake!” he cried out, raising his arms to the sky.

 

“Mama, it’s still breakfast, won’t you at least sit down before asking us to take care of the wedding preparations?” Damian intervened, taking pity on his brother, “I thought everything had been ready since you all left Berlint, weeks ago…”

 

Dafni did sit down, taking some bread and spreading butter and jam on it, but she enthusiastically waved her toast at Damian:

 

“Well, they thought that everything was ready, but it was sloppy organisation!”

 

“It wasn’t…” Diana mumbled, glancing annoyingly at her mother who forced a smile.

 

“This is the wedding of the century–”

 

“No, it isn’t,” Demetrius sighed, looking up at the ceiling.

 

“We can’t have the wedding of the Desmond heir be so simple! It needs more colours and elegance, and more guests! I can’t believe you didn’t think of inviting more of our friends! It’s so very rude! Which is why we had to reorganise the number of guests, the order for food– I asked for three more courses to be added. Oh, and the flowers were of the season! Can you believe it? And–”

 

“THAT’S ENOUGH!!” Demetrius shouted, sitting up and slamming his hands on the table, glaring at his mother, “We had organised the wedding WE wanted! A simple wedding with our close friends and family! Nothing extravagant or important, nothing that would appear in newspapers and TV news! Nothing to show off to your so-called friends!!”

 

Dafni stared at him, looking flabbergasted by his sudden outburst. So furious he had turned red, Demetrius pointed a finger at her as he continued:

 

“You either cancel all of your new arrangements, or the entire wedding is cancelled!!” he hissed.

 

He whipped around, leaving the breakfast room, and slammed the door behind him.

 

Everyone fell silent, watching the door. Frederik and Alicia glanced at each other awkwardly. Diana seemed the most shaken by Demetrius’ unexpected declaration. She stood up suddenly, her chair falling backwards. Anya tried calling her out, but she ran after Demetrius.

 

Dafni then stood up as well, but Damian did the same. He stood in front of his mother, catching her by the shoulders to stop her:

 

“No, no, no, that’s enough, mama, you stay here.”

 

“B-but, he can’t do such a thing! I need to talk to him, make him see reason–”

 

“No, you need to see reason… It’s their wedding and their choices, you can’t get your hands into all of it and change what they had already done.”

 

Gently, he pushed her down on the chair. She looked up at him, shocked, holding onto the arms of the chair.

 

“B-but I don’t understand… They need my help–”

 

“Dafni,” Alicia intervened patiently, “We trusted Demetrius and Diana with their relationship this entire time. They know what they want. They organised their whole wedding quickly and effectively. We have no reason to intervene into what they wish… Trust them a little more, wouldn’t you?”

 

“But, everything will be ruined…”

 

“No, mother,” Damian said in a hard voice, “You are ruining everything.”

 

His mother just stared with wide, shocked eyes. Hurt passed over her face. Her lips trembled.

 

His heart squeezed painfully to see her in such a state, but with a deep breathe, he continued, his voice as soft as he could be:

 

“Demetrius and Diana were the happiest I had ever seen them just a month ago, when they told us everything was ready for the wedding. I finally come back from Eden for the summer holidays only to find out you had changed everything, and now they look miserable and annoyed…”

 

“Shouldn’t a wedding reflect the bride and groom’s personalities?” Anya intervened hesitantly.

 

Dafni observed them all, stunned and teary eyed.

 

“Demetrius and Diana are simple people, they like simple things…” Frederik finally said, pouting a little.

 

Damian’s heart tightened when his mother lowered her head, wiping the tears from her eyes. He knelt in front of her, taking her free hand and squeezing it:

 

“Mama, I know you only want what’s best for Demetrius… but the best he wants is the wedding he wished for…”

 

Dafni remained silent for a long moment, sniffing quietly.

 

“I’ve ruined everything for him and Diana, haven’t I…”

 

“He’ll forgive you, he’s just a little annoyed right now,” Damian continued, brushing her hand reassuringly.

 

“B-but the wedding… I changed so many things and now…”

 

“I’ll go talk to him, okay? We’ll fix it, don’t worry.”

 

Damian gave a squeeze to her hand before standing up. Anya hopped up behind him as they looked for Demetrius and Diana. It didn’t take long to find them in a small drawing room that was rarely used. Demetrius was sitting on a couch, face in his hands, while Diana knelt in front of him, a comforting hand on his knee, murmuring quiet words.

 

Damian grimaced before taking a deep breath and walking in:

 

“Congratulations, you have officially upset mother,” he started loudly.

 

“Get out!” Demetrius hissed, glaring at him.

 

“Damian, now is not the time…” Diana sighed, shaking her head.

 

“We just want to help,” Anya intervened quickly to calm them down.

 

Ironically, because she was an outsider, she usually was the one they listened to the most. Also her ideas proved to be both unconventional and effective.

 

“Dafni is starting to understand that she went too far, believe me…” she said, looking right into Demetrius and Diana’s eyes.

 

They glanced at each other, both knowing the dark reasons behind Anya’s exceptional intuition. It calmed them down just a little, and she took it as an opportunity to continue:

 

“She’s terribly sorry for what she’s done but right now, there’s no need to be angry at each other. You two need to take time to enjoy the wedding preparations. It’s a once in a lifetime event, you can’t let it go to ruin just like that!”

 

“That’s very kind of you, Anya, but…”

 

“She changed everything without our consent, going as far as inviting guests I couldn’t give less of a fu–”

 

“Language, Demetrius,” Diana cut him with a harsh look.

 

He sighed annoyingly, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

“Look, there’s no point in trying to cancel those invitations. That would be a real offense,” Damian said with a shrug.

 

“But we can still make the wedding work out!” Anya continued enthusiastically, “Diana, I helped you pick out the flower arrangements, the cards, the decorations, and more… I know your vision very well. All the flowers and ornaments are still kept in one of the big drawing room, Dafni didn’t have time to get rid of it. I’ll use your ideas, and Dafni’s, to reorganise everything!”

 

Diana and Demetrius glanced at each other, feeling too tired by all this sudden stress to think of any other possibility.

 

“Anya and Damian are right.”

 

They turned towards Dafni who shyly entered the room, mouth turned upside down and eyes full of sorrow. Demetrius looked away from her, huffing annoyingly.

 

“I shouldn’t have acted the way I did… and all I can do is fix my mistakes… Let me help Anya reorganise everything, following your vision… I promise I won’t do anything selfish again.”

 

“I don’t trust you! If you’re anywhere near the wedding preparations, you’ll smother Anya and you’ll do everything as YOU want it!” Demetrius exclaimed, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

“Demetrius…” Diana sighed, sitting next to him.

 

“Demetrius is right,” Damian intervened, glancing at his mother, “It’s best if you step out and let us handle it. We’ll fix it.”

 

“I’ll take care of decorating the reception and the gardens!” Anya exclaimed excitedly.

 

Is she just taking the opportunity of organising the wedding for them…? Becky is rubbing on her… Damian thought, getting a knowing look and wink from Anya.

 

“And I’ll look at the new guest list, take charge of the catering orders, and the table plans,” Damian sighed, crossing his arms.

 

“That’s very kind, but Anya, Damian… You can’t organise all that in five days. You’ll never have time to do it on your own…” Diana continued, shaking her head.

 

Damian and Anya glanced at each other, silently communicating in a single gaze, in the manner they had gotten used to for the year and a half they had been dating. They smirked, a confident light in their eyes.

 

“Oh, don’t worry about us,” Damian replied.

 

“What are we supposed to do while you fix mother’s mistakes?” Demetrius asked, not entirely believing his brother’s competences (Anya’s even less).

 

“You two just relax,” Damian answered, waving his hand dismissively, “Go read your boring newspapers… or fuck against a tree or something–”

 

“Damian!” Dafni cried out, offended to hear such words from her son’s mouth, “You are far too young to know such… such terms!”

 

“Mother, I’m almost eighteen years old. I’m not a child,” he replied with a firm expression despite the flush on his cheeks.

 

She fanned herself, dropping in a seat.

 

“So, if everything is settled, let’s go, we’ve got lots of work!” Anya exclaimed, grabbing Damian’s hand to drag him away.

 

Dafni, Demetrius and Diana watched them go, a little bewildered by the turn of events.

 

“…Why do I feel like they’re going to provoke an even greater disaster?” Demetrius mumbled, his level of confidence at grass level.

 

“…I trust them,” Diana said with a smile, putting her hand through his.

 

He glanced at her and after a long moment, his shoulders dropped, and his lips tilted up.

 

“You want to pick the tree, then?”

 

“Demetrius!!” Both Diana and Dafni scolded.

 

He glanced hesitantly at his mother, before looking away. Diana squeezed his hand, then kissed his cheek. Slowly, she left the room, closing the door behind her.

 

“Demetrius–”

 

Don’t,” he mumbled, standing up and going to stand as far away from her as possible.

 

Dafni observed him. He looked so much like his father, and yet, he had a completely different posture. She looked down, gathering her courage, before standing up. She approached him until she could see her own reflection, next to his, in the window. He didn’t run away, but he didn’t look at her either, keeping his gaze fixated on the Desmond estate’s plains, full of people going back and forth.

 

“…Everything I did was wrong… But I wanted everything to be perfect for you. After everything you’ve been through… I wanted you to be the happiest possible. I just tried… I just tried my best…”

 

Long, long seconds stretched on, until Demetrius finally sighed. The tension escaped Dafni’s shoulders, but her heart stammered as he turned towards her.

 

“I know, mother. But you should know that I am happy… and I don’t need you to look after me as if I were a child again. I am perfectly capable of taking of myself… of Diana. My wife.”

 

She looked up, a little moved, then a small, bewildered smile made its way on her face.

 

“You are… all grown up…”

 

“If you want to help organise a wedding, wait a few more years. Damian and Anya will spend their entire time arguing and won’t decide on anything. Your presence will be essential, then.”

 

Dafni looked over the window, seeing the silhouettes of Damian and Anya as they went out to discuss with butlers and caterers.

 

“…Maybe, but by then… they’ll have their own vision, won’t they?”

 

Demetrius snorted, looking fondly at his brother who was, apparently, disagreeing once more with his girlfriend, to the house staff’s great dismay. Anya was stubbornly arguing back, hands on her hips and rolling her eyes at whatever Damian was saying.

 

“Probably.”

 

He hesitated, glancing at his mother. He opened and closed his mouth, but then, he just shook his head.

 

“If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my office,” he said, incapable of saying the words hanging onto his heart.

 

In the gardens, a few hours later, Anya had managed to get rid of Damian, busy with his own share of the tasks, while she tried to gather all the flowers, pots, decorations, ornaments, of all variety, sizes and colours, both from Diana and Dafni’s visions, into the huge tent that was being built up by workers. Because it was a summer wedding, Diana had wanted it to be in the gardens, with a vast tent to receive the reception, with a dancefloor, set up with enough room for the many, many tables for the dinner. It stood right next to the small maze that was part of the Desmond gardens. Dafni had found the whole idea too unrefined and had moved all the reception to the stuffy ballroom…

 

“So, I see it looks far more disastrous than expected.”

 

Anya whipped around, smiling widely when she saw Becky standing on the side, proud and radiant in her summer outfit and ridiculous high-heels. Becky slowly raised her eyebrows, lowering her sunglasses as her red lips smiled widely.

 

“Good thing you called me in absolute urgence, Anya,” she said, smirking.

 

“Becky!!” she called, running to her friend and giving her a huge, relieved hug, “I need your help! The wedding is in five days and nothing is ready!”

 

“Right, right. You’re lucky only I could help you organise a wedding in such a short time window! Desmond will owe me one!”

 

“I’m already having regrets with this plan,” Damian intervened from behind as he approached, sleeves pushed over his forearms which made Anya stare at him, trying very hard not to drool.

 

“Oh, please, you’re delighted to see me!” Becky exclaimed, unimpressed by his tone.

 

“…I am, surprisingly, glad that you came help us out,” he admitted, embarrassed to reveal such a thing.

 

Becky’s mouth fell open. She stared at him, body slowly leaning backwards in absolute disbelief. She grabbed Anya’s arm, pulling her closer.

 

“Did he just admit that he needs me and I am an essential and majestic part of his existence?” she asked in a low voice to Anya, albeit loud enough for everyone to hear.

 

“OI! I didn’t say any–”

 

“He did,” Anya cut him, grinning to her best friend.

 

“Brilliant! I’ll send you the note for my service after the wedding, Desmond!”

 

“HEY! You’re already rich as–”

 

“Come on, Anya! We’ve got work!!” Becky exclaimed, pulling her friend away.

 

Anya glanced over her shoulder at Damian, sharing a smile with him. He was still glaring at Becky, but the way Anya’s eyes twinkled had him sigh happily.

 

*

 

The evening before the wedding, Demetrius and Diana were reading in a drawing room, overseen by Dafni, obviously, when the clock announced the last hour before midnight. Diana glanced uneasily at Demetrius whose mouth was tight.

 

“…There’s no way they’ll be done by tomorrow morning…” She murmured, finally breaking the heavy silence.

 

He sighed, putting his book down.

 

“Do you want to call the wedding off?” he asked, avoiding her gaze.

 

“What? No!” she exclaimed, straightening up in her chair, her heart suddenly beating faster in a very uncomfortable manner.

 

“Good. I don’t want to either.”

 

Discreetly, Dafni sighed in relief.

 

Demetrius opened his mouth just as the door slammed open, startling them all.

 

“I am sweating like a PIG!” Damian shouted as he walked in, followed by Anya, Becky and the rest of Diana and Demetrius’ friends.

 

“Next time, hire someone else to do all that job!” Becky whined, glaring at Damian.

 

“HEY! I didn’t ask your help! Anya did!”

 

“We would have never been able to do so much without Becky…” Adele intervened with an uneasy smile.

 

Demetrius and Diana glanced at each other, then looked back at the group of family and friends who had, in the last forty-eight hours especially, worked harder than before to prepare the wedding, barely even taking breaks for food.

 

“Could it be… did you… Did you finish on time?” Diana asked, surprised.

 

“Of course, we did!” Her sister, Frida, exclaimed, “Did you ever doubt us?”

 

She glanced at Demetrius who looked as stunned.

 

“…I’m honestly in awe that you managed such a feast,” he said, looking at Damian.

 

Anya slipped her hand into Damian’s, as he answered:

 

“Well, it was a group effort. Everyone ended up helping… I need a shower though, and you need to sleep! Shouldn’t you be resting before your big day?!”

 

“We were waiting anxiously for your return…” Diana said with a smile.

 

“The bride needs her beauty sleep! Go to bed, Diana!” Adele exclaimed, taking her hand and forcing her up.

 

“You too! Off to bed before I kick your butt into it!” Damian scolded his brother, pushing him off the armchair with less grace.

 

“H-hey!”

 

Diana and Demetrius were unceremoniously pushed out of the room by their friends and families who, despite the absolute chaos of this wedding, had looked after them and made it all grand and beautiful – even if neither soon-to-be-wedded had any idea how any of it had turned out. They had entirely trusted Anya, Damian, and the others… for better or worse.

 

They glanced over their shoulders, stunned and grateful.

 

Adele dragged Diana in her bedroom while Damian threatened his brother some more.

 

Half an hour later, Anya was joined by him in bed. They were both too exhausted to shower immediately and they just lied in bed for a long time, staring at the ceiling.

 

“How is he feeling the night before his wedding?”

 

“Ugh, I didn’t even bother asking. Hopefully grateful!” Damian mumbled.

 

“…When we’ll get married, remind me to organise it all YEARS in advance to escape such stress…” Anya whined.

 

He snorted, raising his hand. Anya grinned, slipping her fingers into his.

 

“We should probably go to sleep… We need to be up before the groom and bride and we both know that you have terrible difficulties waking up,” Damian said.

 

“Mmm…” she hummed, already dozing off.

 

He sat up, taking off her shoes, enjoying her giggles when he tickled the bottom of her feet. She wiggled her toes, drawing her knees towards her chest. He threw his uncomfortable clothes on the floor before slipping under the sheets, pulling her close to him. Anya snuggled into him, listening to his heartbeat and falling into a deep sleep, lulled by the melody of his heart. It didn’t take long for Damian to follow.

 

*

 

“Where is the bouquet!?”

 

“Has anyone seen my earrings?!”

 

“We’re running out of hairspray!”

 

“The veil!! The veil is gone!!”

 

Anya was running around as quickly as the three other bridesmaids, Adele, Elena and Frida, everyone frantically trying to make sure the bride would be ready. Diana, bright as always, only laughed, turning around.

 

“Calm down, everyone! We still have time!” she exclaimed, glowing in joy, raising the hem of her wedding dress while Anya brought her the white high-heels.

 

“How are you not more stressed! It’s your wedding and I am about to rip my hair off!” Adele cried out, carrying five bottles of hair spray she had found in another bathroom.

 

“Adele, calm down!” Diana answered, giggling delightfully, “Everything will go well! I just know it!”

 

“I need a drink– Anya, go get a bottle of whatever alcohol you can find–”

 

“I’ll do it!” Alicia said, hurrying out of the room.

 

Meanwhile, in Demetrius’ bedroom, he, Damian and Marius Steinmann were all sitting in absolute silence, sipping on champagne and reading books. Damian, incapable of focusing on the book he had picked up randomly, glanced up at his brother.

 

“…Do you really have to read the newspaper on your wedding day?” he asked, sounding irritated.

 

“…What else do you expect me to do?” he replied, blinking.

 

“Anything other than that! Aren’t you uh… excited? You’re getting married!” Damian exclaimed, raising his hands to the ceiling.

 

“I’m very happy. And looking forward to married life, if that’s what you’re asking.”

 

“I believe Daman was asking if you’re looking forward to the wedding night–” Marius teased with a wink.

 

“I wasn’t!!”

 

“It won’t be any different than any other love making we’ve ever experienced,” Demetrius answered matter-of-factly.

 

“Oh, you’re hopeless!” Damian cried out, sliding his body off the chair dramatically.

 

“What? What’s wrong?”

 

“NOTHING! You annoy me!!”

 

Demetrius only rolled his eyes at Damian’s ridiculous behaviour.

 

Someone knocked at the door and a butler entered.

 

“The car is ready to take you to church, sir.”

 

Demetrius’ heart made a strange flip. He stood up, a little stiffer than intended. Perfectly calm, he folded his newspapers and left it on his seat for later.

 

“Well. Then. Let us go.”

 

Damian glared at him, mumbling to himself before climbing on his feet, cursing at the ceremonial sword strapped to his side.

 

They left for the church, knowing most of the guests were already there and the bride and her ladies would soon follow.

 

As planned, as they had practiced a few days ago, Demetrius made his way to the altar, greeting and thanking the priest. Marley, the only other best man other than Damian, found them. He had been in charge of greeting the guests and he eagerly shook Demetrius’ hand, congratulating him. He was one of the few friends Demetrius had made at Eden and with whom he had kept in touch, even though Damian barely knew him, he was a surprisingly sweet guy, compared to his cold brother.

 

Noticing Marius talking with the Forger, Damian’s heart missed a beat. He glanced over his shoulder at Demetrius and Marley talking to each other, a surprisingly warm smile on his brother’s face. He quickly walked down the steps and went to greet the Forger.

 

“Hi, how was the journey here?” he asked them.

 

“Nice to see you, Damian,” Loid said, shaking his hand.

 

“Damian! How elegant you look!” Yor exclaimed, looking him up and down.

 

“Anya is going to swoop!!” Rosie intervened, clearly trying to use a new word she had recently learned.

 

“Do you mean… swoon? Do you think so?” Damian asked, smiling at the little girl.

 

She wriggled between her parents’ legs to come closer and look up at him, gasping when she saw the sword.

 

“Is it real?!” she asked, immediately reaching for it.

 

Damian expertly whooped her up in his arms (she had the same adoration for pointy and sharp things as her mother) and carried her on the side of his hip.

 

“Yes, it is, and it’s very dangerous, so be careful, okay?”

 

“Promise!” she exclaimed, nodding eagerly but eying far too enthusiastically the sword for it to be an honest promise.

 

“When is the ceremony supposed to start?” Yor asked, smiling to see her daughter get along so well with Damian.

 

“Ah, in less than half an hour… If they’re not late.”

 

“Anya is part of the group, so that’s being hopeful,” Loid joked.

 

They all chuckled, and after a few more minutes of conversation, Damian left Rosie with her parents, promising a dance later, as he checked on a few other guests. He found his mother at the front, with the rest of the family, looking down and solemn. He glanced quickly at Demetrius still plunged into a conversation with some colleagues…

 

If this imbecile is talking politics and work on his wedding day, I’m going to kick his ass… he thought annoyingly.

 

Feeling bad for having practically left his mother entirely alone the last few days, he sat on the bench next to her.

 

“Hey, how are you feeling, mama?” he asked.

 

She startled, turning to him, then smiling, although it didn’t quite meet her eyes.

 

“I’m fine. A little nervous but everything has gone smoothly the entire morning…”

 

“Surprisingly so. I bet you Anya is going to trip on her way to the altar,” he said with a smirk.

 

It had the effect he had hoped for: Dafni chuckled.

 

“Poor child, she isn’t that clumsy, Damian.”

 

“You don’t know her like I do, mama.”

 

He paused, admiring her cream and golden outfit for a moment.

 

“I’m glad to see that you’re finally wearing colours again, you know…” he said, showing a hesitant smile.

 

Dafni smiled a little, dusting off her immaculate skirt.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“…Demetrius will forgive you,” he added, glancing at his brother who was walking around, hands in his back, looking lost in thoughts.

 

Perhaps the waiting was getting to him, after all.

 

“Maybe, but I’m not good at forgiving myself…” she answered, looking away.

 

“Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re the best mom we could ask for. You always look out for us, you’ve always wanted nothing but the best for us…” he continued, taking her hand in his gloved one.

 

She tightened her lips, looking back at him. She squeezed his hand, just as a butler ran to Demetrius to tell him that his bride was ready. Damian’s heart leaped in excitement for his brother who froze like a deer in headlight.

 

“Looks like it’s starting,” he said, standing up to go to his position.

 

Dafni smiled as the chatters slowly quieted down in the church.

 

Demetrius was standing next to the altar, clenching and unclenching his hands. Damian was one step lower behind him as best man, and Marley just behind him, dressed in a similar manner but without the sword (it was a Desmond-only tradition).

 

A few more minutes were necessary before the bridesmaids could start walking and everyone’s excitement was rising higher and higher by the seconds.

 

Damian took a step up, leaning towards his slightly taller brother to murmur in his ear:

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“…I need a handkerchief.”

 

“Eh?”

 

“My hands are sweaty, I don’t know why.”

 

“Because you’re human, you moron,” Damian answered, handing him a handkerchief.

 

Demetrius quickly wiped his hands before throwing the fabric back at Damian.

 

“Just calm down, everything will go well. You have no reason to be nervous.”

 

Demetrius frowned, as if offended.

 

“I am not nervous! Why would I be nervous?”

 

“…Because you’re a man about to marry the love of his life. It’s quite simple. I’m nervous just at the idea of seeing Anya in a pretty dress. I would probably be passing out if I were the one getting married.”

 

“It sounds like a very ineffective way to get married, to be so easily shaken by such emotions.”

 

“I hate you.”

 

“You’re insufferable.”

 

The priest raised his hands. Demetrius and Damian straightened up just as all the guests stood up, smiling and quiet. A religious silence fell on the room just as the double doors of the church opened.

 

Elena and Frida made their way down the aisle first, wearing matching but slightly different sparkly blue dresses, carrying small bouquets. They made their way at a perfect rhythm until they reached the stairs, standing mirror to the best men.

 

Anya was next and Damian stopped breathing. She looked like an angel, wearing a beautiful dress of glowing blue, every step making the fabric shimmer like moonlight. Her hair was up, with a lovely brooch keeping it up. A small bouquet of white roses and peonies rested between her hands.

 

“Anya! It’s Anya!!” Rosie cried out, loud enough for the entire church to hear.

 

Most guests chuckled. Anya gave her a little wave, grinning widely. As she approached the aisle, she glanced at Damian who smiled so hard his cheeks hurt. Her smile widened. For a short moment, they were alone in that church. She was wearing white, he was the one waiting at the altar for her.

 

Then, Anya tripped over a tile, catching herself before the inevitable fall, making the entire church gasp.

 

Dafni tried to help her, before glancing at Damian, a knowing smile on her face. Damian, embarrassed to have been proven right despite his best intentions, looked away, grimacing a little. From the corner of his eyes, he caught sight of Loid hiding his face behind his hand. By the time Damian was looking back at Anya, Demetrius was glaring at him, as if it was his fault his girlfriend was clumsy!!

 

Adele, looking a little embarrassed and worried for Anya’s trip, arrived next to her, quietly murmuring to her to make sure she was alright. But Anya smiled and waved it off. Damian’s shoulders relaxed, relieved she hadn’t hurt herself.

 

Then the song changed to the famous wedding march.

 

Demetrius held his breath, looking over the church doors that held his future.

 

Diana was a heavenly vision.

 

Her long, elegant dress was quite simple. A high collar around her neck, showing her shoulders and lithe arms. The dress pooled down at her feet, swishing at every footstep. It embraced her waist, showing her delicate curves. Her hair was up in an elaborate bun, a long veil followed her. Her bouquet of roses and lilies fell in cascade all the way to her knees.

 

Diana met Demetrius’ eyes. The whole world faded away. A smile he had never seen before appeared on her face.

 

His eyes burnt. Emotions chocked him. Feelings he had never imagined took over him. He quickly wiped the tear accumulating in the corner of his eye, sniffing discreetly.

 

Grinning widely, Damian witnessed it all. He leaned towards him, while Diana and her father slowly made their way to the altar.

 

“…Simp,” Damian breathed to his brother.

 

“Shut up.”

 

But Damian couldn’t stop smiling, happier than he would have thought to see his brother so incredibly happy, so moved, so human, finally coming to life.

 

Diana was at the bottom of the stairs. She kissed her father’s cheek before he smiled, nodding to Demetrius, handing her hand over to the groom. As Diana and Demetrius faced each other, bathed in light and the joy of their friends and families, they felt the same way they had always felt holding each other’s hands.

 

Everything would be alright.

 

Just like that very first time they had met, unexpectedly brought together by friends, Demetrius dark and annoyed at the world, not understand the point of going out to the country side for a picknick. Diana, who had been stunning the entire morning, horse-riding like nothing he had ever witnessed before, didn’t notice him standing next to her as she swung her leg out and kicked him in the face. Hard. Falling on the ground, growling and cursing, she immediately started apologising, kneeling next to him as everyone gathered.

She had taken his hands, squeezing them.

“Everything will be alright,” she had said.

And as he looked at her, getting lost in her bright blue eyes, bluer than the sky, bluer than summer, he believed her.

 

They watched each other, almost three years later, standing in front of the altar, bewildered by the gleam in their eyes. Shaken by how unexpectedly strong their feelings were.

 

Demetrius squeezed her hands. She smiled wider.

 

‘Everything will be alright,’ he mouthed to her, a quiet understanding passing between them.

 

Tears of happiness filled her eyes that shone like a thousand stars.

 

Everything would be alright.

 

*

 

The next hours passed in a blur, joy and laughter blending together until they felt dizzy and drunken by pure happiness. Demetrius lost count of the number of times he kissed Diana. She lost count of the number of times she threw her head back, laughing hard enough that her veil almost flew off. Rained on by cheers, grains of rice and flower petals, they climbed a carriage pulled by white horses. Other carriages, with the bridesmaids, best men and close family, followed.

 

Forgoing his supposed place in the best men’s one, Damian jumped next to Anya as she climbed in the one destined for the bridesmaids, ignoring the way the three other ladies glanced at him, quite amused. Damian sat next to her, kissing the back of her hand.

 

“You look like a prince,” Anya murmured, leaning towards him as they slipped their hands together.

 

“Do I, now?” he chuckled, “You look stunning…”

 

She admired his outfit. He wore a dark blue three-piece suit, similar to Demetrius’, with a few differences. A shimmering light blue triangle pocket square was a perfect addition to his tie, to her dress. A red and golden large fabric belt surrounded his waist, strapping the long sword to his side – a Desmond tradition for the best man at a wedding, were he a Desmond himself, to wear the family ceremonial sword and, shining on Damian’s chest, the family crest brooch, representing a proud griffin.

 

Anya and Damian squeezed their hands and as the horse-drawn carriage started moving, they leaned towards each other, kissing softly and deeply.

 

The traditional ceremony over, the legal signature at the Town hall done, the entire convoy of guests made their way, carriage by carriage, car by car, back to the Desmond Estate. Of course, Anya, Damian and the other essential close members of the bride and groom had to return to their duties for the day, congratulating once more, more intimately Demetrius and Diana, who were both glowing.

 

“Almost all the guests have arrived and are sitting in their seats!” Marius announced, tapping gladly his godson on the shoulder.

 

“Are you ready to see your wedding reception?” Anya exclaimed proudly.

 

Demetrius and Diana had almost forgotten that they had yet to see the entire reception venue their friends and families had set up.

 

Night was falling, painting the sky in shades of gold, orange and purple, softly inviting the stars to bless them.

 

When Diana and Demetrius stepped out of the back doors leading to the massive gardens, to the festivities, they gasped.

 

The path led to the elevated wooden floor installed to welcome the tables for the dinner and the dancefloor. The path was framed of beautiful candle lights leading them to the main room, open to the summer night.

 

The huge tent they had expected was gone. All the white fabric to protect from the wind and rain had been removed after Anya had checked the weather forecast. All that remained was the metallic structure, entirely decorated with climbing vines and flowers of all colours, expertly mixing all of Diana’s favourites and Dafni’s chosen ones. The roof was made of more flowers and fairy lights, with the addition of more powerful lights all around the tables elegantly decorated.

 

Slowly, enchanted and stunned, Diana and Demetrius made their way to the venue. Upon their arrival, all their guests stood up, clapping and whooping for the newlyweds. Smiling madly, they moved forward, to their main table, noticing more fairy lights hanging from the ceiling and

 

Demetrius brushed his fingers against a polaroid photograph, turning it around. Series and series of photographs had been randomly attached with invisible threads to hang over their heads. Every single one of them was a moment between Demetrius and Diana. They hadn’t even noticed so many photographs being taken of them over the last year or so, since Damian had received a polaroid instant camera by Anya and taking a liking into photography. So many smiles, shared looks, hand holdings, neither Demetrius and Diana had thought back on twice… and yet, Damian had observed them, noticed the love shining between them, and memorised it forever.

 

“The photographs were mother’s idea…” Damian murmured to his brother who looked back at him.

 

Demetrius then glanced over the main table where his mother was standing, moving her hands nervously to see him observe her final suggestion for the wedding.

 

But he smiled, then wrapped his arm around Damian, surprising him even more. Further away, Dafni smiled in relief and joy.

 

“Thank you…”

 

“Anya, Damian… everyone… it looks magical! Thank you! Thank you!” Diana exclaimed, taking Anya’s hands in hers and kissing them.

 

“Don’t forget to thank Becky, she was of great help. She’s the one who thought of getting rid of the white canvases and use the massive amount of flowers to create the roof and pillars…” Anya answered.

 

“Thank you, thank you, thank you so much…”

 

As dinner went on, for hours and hours, and hours, Damian’s favourite part eventually arrived, just after the cheesy cake cutting distributed to all guests, came the speeches.

 

The families and bridesmaids were first, then Marley who was quite simple and classic, wishing the newlyweds plenty of happiness and congratulating himself for forcing Demetrius to go to that picnic that day…

 

Damian’s turn arrived, and he stood up proudly, taking out his cards with the long-prepared speech.

 

Demetrius sent him a wary look.

 

One hand holding the mic, the other his speech cards, he coughed a little to prepare his voice.

 

“I’ll keep this short, because we’re tired of congratulating those two lovebirds and we all want to start dancing!”

 

Chuckles resonated among the reception, while Demetrius frowned at him from afar. That didn’t deter Damian for a second.

 

“A few months ago, Demetrius told me that he didn’t trust me with a role as important as best man, but that he didn’t have a choice because I’m the only brother he has.”

 

Diana covered her mouth to hide her laughter while Demetrius shook his head, mouthing ‘you’re an idiot’.

 

“It was about as excruciating as you could possibly imagine, as you all know what a funny guy my brother is.”

 

More chuckles, especially from Demetrius’ friends and colleagues who glanced at each other knowingly.

 

“But despite it all, he surprisingly acted human for about thirty seconds when Diana showed up in her wedding dress, then he went back to his usual stern self. Which, quite frankly, is reassuring! If anyone could break him, it’d be Diana and her sheer goodness, but that’s too scary for me. Demetrius and I met about… a little less than two decades ago and it took me, a cute and adorable baby, about ten seconds to vomit on him.”

 

Loud laughter resonated, even Dafni chuckled happily at the memory that she had repeated times and times again to her two sons.

 

“He never held me again afterwards,” Damian added in a dramatic voice, which only provoked another wave of laughter, “It wasn’t easy growing up with ten years of difference, especially considering that he was taller, stronger, more intelligent, popular, yadda, yadda, we all know how perfect he is– but hey, I’ve got the good looks and the prettiest girlfriend.”

 

Many gazes turned to Anya who flushed, but she couldn’t stop smiling at the unexpected funny speech he had prepared for his dear brother.

 

“I have a whole list of compliments and good things to talk about my brother and… hold on…”

 

His voice trailed off as he passed card after card, turning them around and upside down until he grimaced, turned towards his unamused older brother.

 

“Uuuh, I think I lost them, sorry, Demetrius!”

 

More laughter, which made Damian’s lips trembled as he held back his own amusement at Demetrius’ frustrated face.

 

“I’ll never forget the day Demetrius called me to announce that he was, for the second time, and this time, for real, engaged to Diana… because he never calls me.”

 

Everyone laughed, Diana most of all.

 

“I apologise again for almost ruining your first engagement… that you mentioned to us, Demetrius, without even mentioning to our poor Diana that you were interested in her!”

 

Diana and her family snickered, remembering really well how badly that Christmas Gala had almost turned out.

 

“But in my entire life… granted spent without much brotherly companionship… I have never seen my brother as embarrassed, as ridiculous and as clumsy as when he’s around you, Diana, which proves it’s true love.”

 

The laughter left place to series of Aaaaw’s and Ooooh’s that made the newlyweds flush.

 

“Although I will never understand your taste for outdoor lovemaking.”

 

“Damian!” Demetrius cried out, horrified, but everyone laughed.

 

Damian was grinning, pausing in his speech for a moment.

 

“Diana is the most incredible woman you could possibly have, you are one of the luckiest man in the world to marry her… And I really like her because she’s always been nice to me, unlike you, and she never minded that I almost got you two to break up before you were even a thing to begin with.”

 

He paused, lowering his cards that were mostly, just silly things he didn’t have the heart to add, after seeing his brother so genuinely in love and happy that day…

 

“But despite his many flaws and even more numerous good aspects… I could never be prouder of the man my older brother has become. After everything we’ve been through… as individuals, and as a family…”

 

Damian paused and everyone held their breathes, still smiling but understanding that it was a moment between the brothers. Demetrius’ eyes shone a little as he beheld Damian, watching him with a serious look on his face.

 

“You’ve always been here for me, Demetrius, even when I was too blinded to realise it… and I don’t think I’ve been grateful enough for your presence in my life. So… thank you, Demetrius, for being the irritating and hopeless older brother that you are… You’ll always be the number one for me… You deserve to be happy, and I wish you all the joys in the world… I love you both…”

 

His voice cracked a little at these words that he had never uttered to his brother before.

 

It shook Demetrius as much. His mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water. Diana quietly took his hand, squeezing softly.

 

“Anya made say that,” Damian added, waving his last card.

 

The emotional hush and applauds turned into laughter as, embarrassed by his speech despite his initial wish to embarrass his brother, Damian sat back down.

 

Demetrius observed him, then, without a word, he reached out for him, squeezing his shoulder gratefully.

 

Diana kissed his cheek, then stood up, receiving the mic from Damian.

 

“I’m afraid my speech won’t be nearly as emotional and funny as Damian’s… but I dare hope it’ll be earnest.”

 

She turned towards Demetrius who stood up, albeit on slightly shaky legs despite his usual confidence in front of crowds.

 

“For a very long time after meeting you, I couldn’t figure out why I liked you, Demetrius. You are not an easy man to understand, even less to love but, surprisingly, it happened!”

 

She chuckled, eyes getting teary, before continuing:

 

“But eventually, I understood… it’s your steadiness, your simplicity, your willpower, your strength of mind, your honesty, that I fell in love with so deeply.”

 

The crowd hummed to hear such sweet words.

 

“I have always been a happy person, but I had never realised how much more meaningful it’d be, to share my happiness with someone… someone like you… who amuses me and comforts me when I least expect it.”

 

She slipped her hand into his, smiling brightly.

 

Demetrius’ heart skipped a beat as he watched her, blooming like the brightest moonflower. As if he was her light.

 

“Falling in love with you was an unexpected adventure, Demetrius, and I am looking forward to a lifetime of more surprises at your sides! I love you, more than you could possibly understand.”

 

Tearing up a little, having no word while the guests applauded and cheered, he surprised her with a quick kiss. He moved away just as quickly, but Diana only smiled more. She handed him the mic as he pulled out the cards he had written. He looked at the carefully chosen words he had picked over the course of several days, listing her greatness and accomplishments and all the reasons why he had chosen her as a wife but now… it all sounded so hollow.

 

He put the cards back in his pocket, surprising everyone, especially Diana and Damian who both knew how attached Demetrius was to his silly cards.

 

“I love you,” he stammered with wide, panicked eyes.

 

Diana blinked, not having expected such a thing to come out of his lips so suddenly.

 

“I love you so much I can’t even think straight around you,” he continued, words stammering one after another clumsily, “You… you kicked me the very day we met, and I was probably half in love with you already by the end of that day. Thanks again, Marley, for forcing me out of my office that day…”

 

“You’re welcome!” Marley exclaimed, raising his arms proudly.

 

A few chuckles, as Demetrius continued his clumsy but honest speech:

 

“Diana, you are my summer, my sun, my solace.”

 

She smiled, tearing up at his words, squeezing even tighter his hand.

 

“I never thought I could experience a happiness such as this… marrying you… makes me the proudest, happiest man…”

 

He glanced around the crowd, his gaze resting on his mother who was smiling with tears in her eyes to see him so genuinely joyful.

 

“This wedding is the most wonderful day of my life… but it wouldn’t have been so meaningful without our families and our friends who worked so hard and sacrificed their sanity to organise all… this!” he continued, waving with the mic around the magical decorations.

 

Damian suddenly slipped next to him, forcing a paper into his hands.

 

“What the…”

 

“It’s Blackbell’s bill, I forgot to give it to you,” Damian said with a cheeky grin, trying to step away even though he had been heard into the mic.

 

“You little– you hired her, you pay!”

 

“It’s your wedding, why would I pay?!”

 

“You bastard–” he hissed, forcing the piece of paper back into his brother’s pocket.

 

Even though they had tried talking in a hushed voice, the mic had captured everything, making everyone laugh at the brotherly banter. Damian managed to escape his brother’s hold, although Demetrius kept glaring at him for ruining his emotional moment. Breathing deeply, he continued, frowning:

 

“…Despite having the most annoying, arrogant, and irritating little brother in the whole universe, I’m sure he’ll agree with me that…”

 

He stared firmly at Damian who now looked at him curiously.

 

“He’ll agree that neither of us would be the men we are today… we wouldn’t be as happy in love as we are… if it weren’t for our mother.”

 

Dafni gasped as everyone’s attention turned to her. Demetrius dived his gaze into hers:

 

“No one else encouraged us to listen to our hearts, to look for happiness, more than our mother. She taught us what to look for in a woman, in a wife…”

 

He glanced at Diana for the next few words:

 

“Safety in a smile, comfort in a touch… Happiness in a laughter. If it weren’t for my mother looking out for me… I wouldn’t be knowing the joy I am sharing with you all today.”

 

He let go of Diana’s hand, grabbing his glass of champagne and raising it.

 

“To Damian and I’s hero, the first lady of our hearts… To Dafni Desmond!”

 

“To Dafni!” everyone cheered, raising their glasses.

 

Dafni raised her hands to her mouth, quiet tears and a beautiful smile spreading on her lips.

 

Damian felt so unexpectedly emotional to see his mother and brother stitching their wounded relationship, that he almost cried. Anya slipped her hand into his, leaning against him in quiet comfort.

 

“And to the lady who has my heart… for now and forever more,” Demetrius added, looking back at Diana, “To Diana Desmond! My beautiful wife!”

 

“To Diana!”

 

“And to Demetrius Desmond! My silly husband!” she exclaimed, almost hopping up and down in happiness.

 

“To Demetrius!!”

 

He leaned down towards Diana, pressing his forehead against hers. They received more congratulations from friends and families, receiving hugs, pats, and teary compliments.

 

“You almost made me cry, you idiot,” Damian mumbled as he got close to his brother.

 

You… you have no idea what I’m going to do for your wedding after this stupid best man’s speech!” Demetrius hissed, passing an arm around his neck.

 

“AGH! I’ve got a sword! I’ve got a sword!”

 

“As if I’m scared of you, baby brother!”

 

“Let me go, old man!!”

 

Demetrius let go of Damian when he saw Frederik guiding Diana towards the dance floor, father and daughter murmuring to each other. He approached Dafni who was walking towards him:

 

“Aγάπη μου…” Dafni whispered, going to him with wide open arms.

 

For a short moment, he felt like a little kid again, running towards his mother. He embraced her, towering over her with his long limbs. He held her for far longer than he would have expected. Far longer than he ever remembered.

 

She sniffed a little, stepping away from him, smiling beautifully, as he took her hands in his.

 

“Would you do me the honour of sharing the first dance with me, one last time, mama?” he asked in a low voice.

 

Dafni teared up again, not remember the last time her older son had called her anything but ‘mother’. For so long now, she had feared to see him slip through her fingers… to the point of trying to control everything in this most important part of his life, for his wedding, just so she could hold onto her son a little longer… but now she realised that she had no reason to worry for him. Not anymore.

 

She nodded.

 

He guided her next to Frederik and Diana, just as the first song started. Demetrius vaguely remembered dancing to his mother humming, all the way back in Greece, running from a war, holding her hands and his feet pressing on top of hers.

 

So many years had gone by. So many things had changed.

 

And yet, he was still a little boy who loved his mother more than anything, a little boy whose best friend had been his mother, a little boy whose hero had been his mother, a little boy whose first love had been his mother.

 

“Μαμά, σε ευχαριστώ για όλα…” he whispered to her.

 

She looked up at him, taking his hands in hers. She kissed them tenderly, before holding them out for Diana to take. She slipped between his arms as Dafni stepped away, smiling softly, watching over them like an angel.

 

Demetrius held Diana’s hands. They looked at each other. They smiled at each other, young and beautiful.

 

Yes… Everything would be alright.