A/N: I kind of feel like I'm trying to populate a PQ fandom all on my own. It seems a little daunting, but I'm also kind of taken with the endless possibilities, when there's no precedent. I have a couple more things in mind, but for now enjoy this chapter. I have a few more written, never fear. And reviews = inspiration. Just a thought. :)
"May God bless the bride and groom."
The words echoed in his head as the crowd took up the song, words pounding, running rampant through his mind. Dear Lord, his head hurt.
He attended the wedding as he had promised, though his head seemed to revolt every moment he was there. His head ached fiercely, and nothing he did seemed to abate it.
He stood at the edge of the gathering, so his lack of participation in the celebration would go unnoticed. Though he wished his Grania all the best, the words to the communal blessing caught in his throat.
No - just Grania, he corrected. Not his anymore.
But she is, another voice nagged at him. You made a vow. 'We'll be one forever now.' That means you are hers and she is yours, forever.
Then why was he standing here at her wedding, watching another man claim her as his own?
Because it would hurt a hundred times worse to be away from her. How could he deal with the fact she was marrying another without his experiencing the event?
"Dance with me, Tiernan!" Majella grabbed his hand, pulling him towards the dancing group. When had that started? "Let's show these O'Flaherty how a real clan dances!"
Finding no reason to protest, he threw himself into the dance, finding some semblance of a rhythm. He was not a skilled dancer; Grania often made fun of him for it, but tonight he danced with all his might, glad for something to focus on besides his nearly broken heart.
At least the pounding in his head matched the pounding of the drum. The whiskey someone pressed into his hand was strong and fiery, and he found himself enjoying the rush of the music and dance and women and alcohol that was coursing through his system. It felt so good to be young, to be strong, to be free of the complications that had made his life so difficult for the past weeks. It all came out as he danced hard, probably poorly, at his beloved's wedding.
He threw back the next whiskey cup handed to him, laughing with the cheers of the O'Malley women, only freezing when he met Grania's eyes across the room.
She was standing next to her husband, watching him with a schooled neutral expression. When she caught his gaze, she smiled. He nodded once, raising a fresh glass in her direction with a challenging look.
Grinning in response, Grania grabbed the nearest cup and raised it up. It was a game they played: who could swallow the drink faster.
They downed their glasses at precisely the same moment, coming back down almost simultaneously as well. The O'Malley clan, used to such displays, cheered and hollered in response, startling the watching O'Flaherty's to join in hesitantly.
She smiled, the first real, unrestrained Tiernan had seen on her face in weeks, and it caused his own injured heart to soar so high that he knew he had made the right decision, that he would stay by her side for eternity without once touching her if only she would give him that smile just once a year.
But then the moment was over, and Majella and Muireann were pulling him back into the dance, and the clan was all around him, and he couldn't see Grania anymore.
As they celebrated late into the night, Tiernan only caught glimpses of Grace, but with every passing moment he became more and more convinced of his decision.
He could do this, stay by her side without losing his mind, as crazy as it may seem. Yes, he could be there, no matter how much that hurt.
And wasn't that the definition of love?