A New Dawn Upon Us
(A Christmas Preview)
Altius-Ostium Wedding Chapter
(Merry Christmas Everyone! 3)
Titus Drautos was a man whose loyalty represented many: that of his King, the kingdom of Insomnia and its inhabitants, the men of the Kingsglaive that he leads into battle, that of his late wife and unborn child whom he loved dearly and unconditionally. For more than half his life, he has fought against all odds to lead and protect with unwavering resolution and an infamous frown to go with it. However, nothing in his many years of battle could prepare him for this.
Standing in front of the full-length mirror, Drautos adjusted and readjusted his tie, attempting to straighten the piece of formalwear although he had just done so moments ago. A heavy sigh escaped his chapped lips. He definitely was not cut out for wearing something like this, he thought to himself. The Commander was much more comfortable in his commanding outfit. Etro forbid an attack were to happen, his movements would be ceaseless. But in this black and white tuxedo, he felt vertigo in every step—it was too smooth for his taste.
As much as he was uncomfortable in the outfit, he was also a man of his word and promised he would wear it. It was the least he could do. The battle-scarred brunette was about to give up on the tie until a couple raps on the door took his attention.
"Ulric, sir" a voice called out.
"Come in", he called back.
The door creaked open and entered a young man also dressed in a tuxedo, except his was steel grey with an olive satin bowtie. "You look great, Commander", Nyx commented.
Drautos glanced at him through the mirror. "You think so?"
"One hundred percent. It suits you well." Drautos hummed in response. "Have to say, Crowe and Lelouch did a fine job on coordinating everyone's outfits and colors, being the Plain Jane fashionistas they are." Finally satisfied with his tie, Drautos inspected his outfit from top to hem. He couldn't agree more. A comfortable silence fell between the Commander and the Glaive before Nyx broke the silence.
"You nervous, Drautos?" the latter questioned.
He released another tense sigh. Was it that obvious? "I'm still getting over the fact that I've fought against behemoths and daemons my entire life and none of those moments that have threatened to take away my life have ever made me feel what I do now. Why is that?"
A smirk appeared on his face before he swiftly looked to the floor, trying to suppress a gleeful chuckle. It baffled the soldier seeing his Commander in a pinch over something so simple a task. But it was also refreshing to see the man wind down a bit from his stoic demeanor. Nyx knew exactly why the man was on edge and it warmed him to know this warmer side still existed within the being that was Titus Drautos, the stone-cold leader of Insomnia's Kingsglaive.
Instead of answering, Nyx simply made eye contact with the man and gave his sincere smile. "You'll do just fine, Commander. Just remember to walk slow and try not to bawl too loudly." With a wink, the Glaive made it for the door. He glanced at his watch before exiting. "They'll be starting in fifteen minutes. See you at the altar!" With that, Ulric was gone.
Looking up at the ceiling, Drautos closed his eyes and leveled his breathing. This was going to be the longest fifteen minutes of his life.
In another part of the citadel, Crowe Altius was applying the final touches to her make-up while Luna looped the buttons on her gown. "Oh, Crowe, you look absolutely gorgeous", the Tenebraean princess exclaimed, excited for her friend's big day. "He is going to DIE when he sees you!"
"Erm, he better not 'cuz I ain't raising our kids by myself", Crowe countered with a smirk.
"Well if he ain't dying, he better be bawling his eyes out or else we'll be walking down that aisle again", Kallen playfully said, who was brushing in a little more eye shadow to Crowe's eyes.
"Damn straight I will. He'll never be able to live that one down, ever." The ladies chorused in laughter at the image of the poor Ostium being the center of "that" story at every party they would attend. Now that'd be a sight to see, they all agreed. They chatted for a few moments, quickly going over details of order, parts of Crowe's speech, who might be next on Lelouch's hit list, etcetera.
"I have to admit, he's been good so far", the Mage told them, her mind dwindling on memory lane as she thought of every intimate moment they shared. "Him and Nyx fight sometimes, but that's just the two of them being idiots. They'll make great uncles to each other's kids."
"Speaking of kids, do you guys have a plan on starting a family yet?" Luna asked. The other occupants turned their attention to Crowe, interested to know her thoughts on said question. She thought for a moment before answering.
"We've talked about it. We're not entirely sure yet, only because of our duties to the kingdom and my recent promotion. I don't want to completely abandon my post without someone I trust to take my place, y'know?" She looked to the floor, her mind in deep thought on the subject. "The King is a benevolent ruler, and I know he'll understand but it just doesn't sit right with me." She waved her hand, offing the topic. "Don't worry, me and Lib, we'll figure it out. We're definitely having at least one kid, that's for sure."
"Good", came a voice entering the room. "Because I look forward to being an aunt again." They all turned to see Lelouch gracefully making her way into the room, her navy halter gown accentuating her lithe figure before billowing out into a flowy A-line. She greeted the ladies and hugged Crowe, congratulating the winter bride. They held each other at arm's length, inspecting her hair to heel for any imperfections.
"You are a stunning bride, my dear. May Etro bless you both with prosperity and happiness from this day forth", Lelouch squeezed Crowe's hands, tears threatening to fall past her amethyst eyes.
"Thank you Lelouch. I couldn't have done it without you, heck you picked out my gown!"
"That's right, and I get to brag about it all night!" she laughed. A quick glance at her pocket watch, she directed the ladies into their positions, checked everyone's dresses and bouquets, went over final details, and at five minutes before the time, they held hands and made silent prayers to bless the two in union. "Alright ladies, let's get this show on the road!"
To say Libertus was nervous was an understatement. He was a mess (on the inside). Years of battle has allowed him to school his features without showing his thoughts, but on a big day like this—hell, the most important day of his entire life—he was having a hard time holding it in. His mind was racing with excitement, worry, happiness, and longing. He couldn't believe they were finally getting married. He thought of every moment they spent together talking and laughing and just being at each other's side; it warmed Libertus's core thinking of these moments and always brought a smile to his face. But the expectations, the big deal everyone was making out of their wedding, was setting his nerves on fire. The Ostium did not bode well with such pressure. Thoughts of people's reactions in discovering their private wedding was held within Insomnia's citadel—the King's castle—hosting a wedding for two Glaives—would send a good majority of the populous into an uproar. They would be questioning the validation of their marriage; the reason behind the ceremony occurring within the King's palace for immigrants no less, and a thousand other thoughts invaded his mind. Although he did have to admit he wasn't feeling the heat as much as Luche did. Lazarus, heir second-in-command had become the first to marry of the Kingsglaive and to an Insomnian resident at that. She was a fourth generation citizen of the Crown City her great-grandparents immigrated there from beyond the Wall. Surprisingly, she and her family were very accepting and welcomed him into the family with open arms. They'd been happily married for over a year now and are expecting a month after the Altius-Ostium wedding. Still, the pressure was on and it made Libertus no less comfortable.
As if sensing the man's distress, a certain Galahdian made his way into the ceremony room. He walked up to the altar and shot his signature Ulric smirk at the groom. "You doing alright there, buddy?"
Libertus let out a shaky breath and ran his hand over his beard. "Sugar honey ice tea, I'm about ready to jump out of my skin right now, but yeah, I'm ready—to get this over with."
"Oh, come on, Lib. You can't think like that. Where's that proud man of Galahd chasing after that fiery woman's heart go? This is your wedding day! And you're marrying the love of your life. Now that's exciting news. You guys have been together since the beginning of time and now it's gonna be official." He gave the man a healthy smack in the back and suddenly pulled him into a tight hug.
"I'm really happy for you both. I know this sounds real sappy, but I wish you and Crowe all the happiness in the world. You guys deserve each other and so much more." He let the larger man go and gave him his sincerest smile. "I can't wait for you two to be pronounced husband and wife—now she'll really get to boss you around for all eternity." Both men laughed, easing Libertus's nerves. "That's right, Ulric, but I'll happily do for her anytime", Libertus responded, wiping his eyes. "Gods, I just love her so much, I can't wait to be together forever. Thanks man."
"You got it. I'm always here for you and Crowe, never forget that." With a nod, Libertus repositioned his stance, waiting his beloved bride as Nyx made his exit. Keeping Libertus on point, check. Now to join the rest of the bridal party.
The ceremony came by and flew by like a fleeting whirlwind. For the bride and groom, it felt as if the allotted hour wasn't enough time. However, as many would describe it later, everything was perfect. As instructed, the Best Man and Maid of Honor made their way down first, followed by the rest of the ladies and gentlemen. The maids in their wisteria gowns filed behind Luna while the men in black did the same after Nyx. Soft piano music echoed throughout the room—an instrumental version of Lady Ingrid Michaelson's Can't Help Falling In Love—as they made their way down the aisle. The door closed, allowing a moment of anticipation for the bride to sweep the room's occupants.
Outside the doors, Titus Drautos stood firm as a statue, shoulders tense, about ready to fly down that runner once those doors open. In all actuality, he truly wanted to bolt from that very spot and never return. He tried to understand this insane nervousness he was feeling. He was just walking Crowe down the aisle; that was all. It's not like he was battling the worst of Nifelheim's daemons singlehandedly…right? Well, he may not be facing the eyes of daemons, but he definitely will be having all eyes on him walking the bride down the aisle. That's what has him shaken to the core. He could feel their judgmental minds analyzing his actions, a war-ridden man bringing such purity to her waiting groom. A man who couldn't save his home, who has taken lives, couldn't save his beloved ones, who has sinned beyond redemption, hands soaked in so much blood. He pondered; did he really deserve such a task on such an important day?
Crowe made her way down the hallway, her silk chiffon skirt flowing with her movements as she made her way to Drautos, bouquet of purple and white gladioli and foliage cascading from the bundle in hand. Upon seeing Crowe, the Commander's train of thought completely vanished. They made eye contact and he swore she was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen in his life. They shared silent but sincere smiles and nods upon her entry as she wrapped an arm around his own.
The Commander swallowed a lump in his throat, the nervousness creeping back up, but not as intensely as before. It would be a couple more minutes before they made their way down the aisle themselves, so he took the opportunity to hopefully and finally find the answer to his question.
"Crowe Altius, I have to say you absolutely took my breath away. You look wonderful", he praised, glancing at her. He noticed her arm tightening slightly around his own for a moment before she responded.
"Thank you, sir. And thank you for doing this, for me. I truly appreciate it." She looked up at the man who led her and her brothers into battle and she could see the conflict in his eyes steel blue eyes. In the back of her mind, she knew he would have some trouble accepting her request, but what surprised her the most was his acceptance of the task. It made her extremely happy to know of his agreement. But now seeing his hesitation, she knew the question was to come and she was going to give him her reason for being here, standing with her now, at this very moment in time.
"I know you're probably wondering why I asked you to do this." She released a small breath before continuing. "I never knew my parents and if I did, I don't remember them. My past is so fuzzy that the only things I remember clearly are when Libertus found me in the outskirts of my village and then joining the Kingsglaive. Ever since we were brought into Insomnia and joined the other Glaives, you've done nothing but guide us in the right direction. You pounded us hard, you pushed us beyond our limits, you made us realize reality versus fantasy and made us better people. Without you, Commander Drautos, I wouldn't be here today and neither would Libertus, Nyx or the rest of us. We have so many people to thank but you come first on that list. You became the father figure I never had, and gave us a home and a family. And for that, this is the only way I can repay you."
Drautos couldn't hold back, as much as he tried, and tears began to flow down his hardened cheeks. His chest ached, his brain numb. In an instant, he felt arms wrap around his shoulders and Crowe pulled him close in a tight embrace. "I know this would be hard on you because it's not something you're used to and it would bring back painful memories. But I wanted you to give you the opportunity to walk me down the aisle, not as my commander or as a fellow glaive, but as my father figure and I, the daughter you never had."
Comfortable silence fell over the two individuals, Drautos returning the embrace and holding onto Crowe tightly, the latter rubbing small circles on his tuxedo jacket. After a moment, the man broke contact and wiped away the tears that dare try to stain his gift from the lovely couple. He cupped Crowe's face and placed a soft, fatherly kiss on her forehead. "Crowe, you truly did not have to do this", he began, "but from the very bottom of my heart, thank you for letting me be part of such an important day. I truly am honored", he said with a genuine smile. Crowe returned his smile with her own glowing one, tears brimming at the edges of her eyes, threatening to ruin her make-up already. She looked to the ground, sniffing, before looking up again and giving the man one last embrace.
Gentiana then came by, fixed in her veil and gave them the signal. It was time. The double doors of the citadel opened, sending a soft gust of wind into the room to the awaiting guests and bridal party. Arms looped around one another, Drautos and Crowe took their first steps down the aisle, their walk at ease and lightweight with every step. Sunlight shone through the tinted high-glass windows, illuminating the aisle. The crystal jewels of her cape adorning the Galahdian symbol reflected the light, adding sparkles in the air around her. The simple rushed top accentuated her hourglass figure before the draping skirt billowed with a cathedral train. The veil was the finishing touch, lining the blusher and the train edge with elegant scallop edges to complete her bridal look. The crowd was in awe at Crowe's beauty and heart warmed to see Commander Drautos leading her to the altar. Before making it down half the way, the entire crowd—consisting of fellow glaive members close friends and family, the royals and chosen advisors—all stood and began clapping their hands. Overwhelmed with everyone's support and smiles, Crowe broke into tears and clutching to Drautos in attempt to meet her groom at the top of the stairs. Thank goodness for waterproof make-up.
Making it to the altar, she and Libertus glanced at each other, taking in the moment. And oh boy, he wasn't any better either. The bearded glaive was a mess himself with tears streaming down his face in thick rivers as he too was overcome with emotion and seeing Crowe tear up sent him over the edge. Titus let out some tears too as he lifted the blusher from Crowe's face and kissed her forehead once more, whispering his blessings to the newlyweds. "May love and harmony guide your way through this life together." He then took his leave and stood next to the groomsmen.
Libertus wiped his tears, as did Crowe, as they tried to look half decent for to say their vows. "Today we are here to celebrate and share the union between two very brave soldiers, lovers and unique individuals Libertus Ostium and Crowe Altius on an important moment in their lives. In their time together, they have seen their love, passion and understanding of each other grow and blossom into something beautiful and now have decided to live out the rest of their lives as one." The couple tuned out the rest of the speech, simply staring at each other, holding one another's hands, and smiling the sappiest smile they could muster. Besides, no one could poke fun at them at this point; it was the only time to get this schmaltzy.
When it came to the next set of speeches, everyone had another crying fit and a good laugh at what they had to say.
The couple turned towards the crowd, Libertus starting first. "We just wanted to thank everyone here today for everything you guys have done for us. We truly appreciate you all being here and we are blessed to have you all be part of our wedding ceremony. We wouldn't be here without any of you guys."
"And I would like to give a very big thank you to King Regis, Commander Drautos, revered council, Lordship Lamperouge, for opening your homes and hearts to us and having us become a part of your family and you ours. It means so much to us. We can't thank you enough for your kindness and humbleness. And to our fellow brothers and sisters of the glaive and crownsguard, the Black Knights and those of Insomnia thank you for being a part of our lives. You've made everyday a new day and another reason worth fighting for", Crowe completed. After nods of acknowledgement began the vows.
"Crowe Altius, I remember the first time I met you outside of Galahd's borders, and taking you in as one of our own." He sniffled. "It was over a decade ago, but at times I feel like it was just yesterday. I was an only child and never had a little sister before and was so excited to help raise you with me. Ever since then we grew evermore closer into best friends and shared practically everything together. Although a certain Nyx Ulric—."
He glanced at said man, "—has tried valiantly—," earning a smirk, an eye roll and a head shake from the said glaive and from the crowd. "—to get in between our intimate moments, that never stopped us from going on date nights or simply gazing at the stars your hand in mine. Every time I look into your eyes, your passion and love is beyond anything that I have ever witnessed and you and your fierce but kind person has me spellbound to you, since that day and onward more. I promise to be by your side through the good and the bad times and I'll chase after you, no matter where you go, even if that place is in Valhalla. I love you, Crowe, with all my heart and soul, and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life looking into your eyes and falling in love with you every single time."
He paused for a moment before speaking once more. "And I promise I won't be mad at you when you take food off of my plate without asking too." A hearty laughter filled the room, Crowe wiping her eyes and controlling her chuckles before starting her own.
"Libertus Ostium, you are a dent in my life that I cannot fix and do not want to mend; a starting point where my life truly began and the endpoint where I hope it will end with you by my side. Every moment we spend together makes me feel alive and everything you've shown me and taught me I cherish with my life. In the beginning our journey together I simply thought we were just the greatest of friends a person could have until I realize every time I'm around you getting a hot cup of mocha latte on those early morning runs and my heart speeds up and my mind races in your presence, that you are the man that I've fallen for. I love everything about you, Libertus, and I promise as your wife, I will always stand by your side through life and beyond. Not only will I try not to get tempted to take food off your plate, but to also improve on my cooking so I won't have to."
Another round of laughter came from everyone, this time Libertus breaking down into another joyful fit of tears. Tissues were on high demand (Crowe instructed the decorators to provide a box per row) as they finished their speeches. All eyes then fell on the bride and groom and the officiant continued.
"Now that we're done with the sentimental part of this ceremony, I now proudly announce you husband and wife. You may now kiss, Mr. and Mrs. Ostium!" Without further ado, lips smashed into each other in a passionate kiss, sealing the union in marriage for the two glaives. Everyone stood and clapped, cheering and hooting and shouting in happiness. Prompto sneaked in from the second row and managed to snap some pictures, his duty as photographer was his wedding gift to them.
Breaking apart from their kiss, Libertus looked into Crowe's eyes as he cupped her face with his calloused hands in adoration. "I can't believe you're actually mine now", he whispered to her, settling his forehead on hers. "I know", she responded, "and you're mine now too, big guy." Taking Crowe's hand in his, the couple made their way down the corridor with everyone in tow towards the cocktail room to enjoy the rest of their wedding day with their family and friends.