Georges wondered who would be knocking at his hotel-room door at ten in the morning, when all the orchestra members had arrived in Hamburg so late the night before. And without even calling, first.
"Who is it?"
What was Robert doing here? He was supposed to be at home, teaching a university class this afternoon!
"What is it?" Georges asked, opening the door.
Robert was grinning, leaning against the doorjamb. "What an affectionate welcome."
"You have a class!"
"Gave them a take-home exam. They need to work on their research skills. And I need to be with you."
Robert stepped in. Georges' mind finally registered that his Robert was here, in the room, after nearly a month's separation. They were locked in each other's arms, kissing fiercely, before the door even shut.
"Hey, hey!" Robert laughed and pulled away.
"That's your affectionate welcome! Is it good enough?"
"You're saucy when you haven't seen me in a while!" Robert ruffled Georges' silky blond hair, then leaned in and kissed him again.
"I've missed you!"
"I can tell. I've missed you too. And I had a thought the other night while I was watching the news. So I visited your mother, acquired your birth certificate and," He pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, flourishing it in front of Georges' face. "In case you've been too busy concertizing to catch the news, Germany just legalized same-sex civil marriage. Let's get married tomorrow morning before your train leaves for Berlin."
"Robert...." Georges whispered.
"Freddie's trying to get a bill through Parliament to recognize other European-Union marriages in Esperanca. And you know how he can be when he wants to see something done."
"But Esperanca's so Catholic..."
"I'm hoping a certain liberal priest can use his influence to prevent the bishop from opposing it too strenuously."
Georges smiled fondly. "Louis is so kind. I'll never forget all the hours he spent trying to convince your father to accept our relationship."
"After he convinced you that you wouldn't go to hell for loving me."
"If it weren't for him I wouldn't have even kissed you. Speaking of which..." Georges kissed Robert again. "Your idea is brilliant. Let me see that paper." Georges admired the document, with both their names and a notice to appear at City Hall within forty-eight hours to formalize their marriage. "Your middle name is Eustace?
"My maternal grandfather." Robert made a face. "He was part English. Yours is John, I noticed. How boring."
"For my father. Though everyone called him 'Jack'." Georges stared at the paper. "We're getting married."
"It's not a huge cathedral wedding. And you don't have time to buy a wedding gown and veil, unless we hurry."
"Quiet." Georges pushed Robert's chest playfully. "Shall we dress formally? Oh--you did bring luggage?"
"Outside the door." He hurried to bring in the shining black suitcase. "I brought my tails, knowing you would have both your sets with you for concerts."
"I do. Casual might be more fun, though. I have that blue sweater Hana knitted me for Christmas."
"And I have the cashmere turtleneck your mother gave me."
"That's settled then. And you are wearing your ring?"
Robert held up his right hand "Never take it off."
"Me neither." Georges turned the delicately carved ring about on his right ring finger. "We'll simply move them to our left hands tomorrow."
The next morning Georges was up shortly after dawn. He hummed happily as he put on a crisp white shirt and the pale-blue sweater over casual gray trousers.
"What's that you're humming?" Robert stepped out of the shower, wearing only a towel.
"The setting of the Song of Songs that I played for Lise and Arthur's wedding."
"Ah." Robert leaned in for a kiss, his towel slipping.
"Aah!" Georges jumped.
"It's nothing you haven't seen hundreds of time before."
"It's not that," Georges focused his eyes on the far wall.
"Oh. Twice last night wasn't enough?"
"Three times," Georges murmured. "Or don't you remember?"
"I seem to recall being groped in my sleep..." Robert scrambled safely out of tickling range and began pulling underwear out of his suitcase. "It's a good thing we had our wedding night first, since you have to catch the train at noon."
"Yeah," Georges sighed dreamily. "And we'll have plenty of time when this tour is over in a few weeks."
A knock sounded at the door. "Breakfast!"
Georges met the bellhop as Robert pulled on corduroy slacks and his favorite dark-green turtleneck.
"French toast!" Robert exclaimed when Georges removed the lid of the tray.
"Of course. It's not as good as yours, I'm sure."
"I use Hana's recipe."
"All your recipes are Hana's"
"And yours are your mother's."
Georges swallowed a mouthful of French toast and picked up his teacup. "You're by far a better cook than I am. Better even than Mom with some dishes."
"As long as you wash the dishes, I'll cook for you. For years and years," Robert added.
"Yes." Georges' jade-green eyes shone over the rim of his cup.
Georges nearly fell over as he exited the taxicab at City Hall. "Mom!" he exclaimed. She looked a bit tired from the trip, but leaned comfortably on Henri's arm. "Henri!"
"I couldn't miss my only child's wedding."
Georges hugged his mom, then turned to Henri for another hug.
"You need a best man." Henri said. "And a wedding photographer." He patted the bulky camera on his chest, then lifted it and snapped a picture of Robert paying the cabbie.
"You knew about this!" Georges accused his fiance.
"When I told your mother about my plans, she insisted on coming. And I knew better than to leave Henri out of the plans."
"What about your side of the family?"
One side of Robert's mouth turned up. "We'll be having a civil wedding, but there will be a priest's benediction."
They were ushered into a small courtroom by a clerk. A smiling young judge greeted them briefly, bent her curly head over a small black book, and read the words in elegantly paced German. Georges slipped the ring off his right hand and offered it to Robert, who recited the vows in his flawless doctoral-candidate's German. Then it was Georges' turn. Finally the justice pronounced them married. Holding hands, they kissed, Georges' eyes closed. He trembled slightly, feeling Robert's hands shaking a little too. As they let go, Louis held his hands over them and recited the traditional Catholic blessing in their own language. Their eyes shone as they gazed at each other as if they could never look away.
The flash from Henri's camera startled them.
"You are not publishing that in the Idealo Times. Robert declared. "My students will never let me forget it, and neither will my dissertation advisor."
"I would like a print for the living room, please, Henri," Mom added.
Henri grinned. "Not the Times, I promise. But I said nothing about the St. Grollo's alumni newsletter. I am the assistant editor."
Robert remembered just in time that they were in a courtroom and he really shouldn't kick the best man anyway. The small group exited quickly but decorously, all smiles.
Georges' mom treated them all to brunch, except for Louis, who had to return to his parish as soon as possible.
"You really look different," Henri said, once they were seated. "I swear you are shining."
"You are, Georges" Robert agreed, eyes firmly locked on his husband.
"I meant both of you."
"It's true," Georges' mother agreed. "And you look as happy as Jack did on our wedding day." She smiled a little sadly.
Robert couldn't help thinking about his own father. The old man had told Robert he had to preside at a school assembly, but Sister could have handled it at least as well. Ah, well, at least his father was cordial to both him and Georges when they visited.
"What about children?" Henri was asking.
"Already?" Georges laughed. "Let us have a honeymoon first."
"It's not as if I can get Georges pregnant."
"I was thinking about adoption," Henri pointed out. "The orphanage is always looking for parents, and since the law might be changing, there may not be anything to prevent you in a year or two."
"It is a fine way to have a child," Georges' mother smiled fondly at her beloved adopted son.
"My career doesn't allow me to be at home much," Georges said. "And Robert needs to finish his doctorate and find a position. We're not even sure where we'll be living."
"Hmm, a child. I hadn't thought of it..." Robert swirled the ice cubes in his water glass.
"Someday, perhaps I'll take up teaching, or a position with an orchestra that doesn't tour so much."
"I'd like having you at home more."
"I'd like that too."
Their hands found each other beneath the table.
The camera flashed again.