Blood of the Clans Ch. 40byRoyceConnors©
The gardens were alive with light and colour, as the streaks of sunlight filled the grounds of Dunvegan. High up in the Fairy Tower, banners were raised and the soft wind had them fluttering gently. Benches were placed in rows for the guests to sit on and two rows of colourful flower petals delineated the path for the couples to walk along.
Servants and staff were busy at first light, preparing food and drink for the feast afterwards. The hall was decorated in bright colours of cloth and ribbons with juniper and heath with heather intertwined through it. Banners of all clan tartans were hung from the walls and the clan banners were flown side by side from the walls. In honour of Therese, flags of Fleur de Lis of gold on a blue background were hung alongside the tartans.
By the time the couples had awakened, the castle was a flurry of bodies making every effort to make the day spectacular. Gregor broke the misty morning silence, as he filled his pipes and began to play Grayson's favourite air. Within a few minutes of playing, two McCrimmon pipers were making their way into the courtyard to where Gregor was, playing in harmony with him. Gregor nodded and smiled, as he played on, the two taking a position to either side of him. Once the tune was over, they asked if Gregor knew an Ode to the Bride. He winked and smiled at them, as he started it off and the sweet blend of the pipes rang out to the castle and filled the air with the melody. A swath of sunlight broke through the clouds and made it's way along the ground and seemed to highlight the pipers as they played.
Grayson awoke smiling, hearing his air being played so well. He relieved himself in the pot and breathed in the morning air, as he listened.
Garreth awoke to the pipes as well and felt the drink from last night make his head swirl a bit. He opened his window to the sounds of his pipers and leaned on the sill to listen, letting the fresh air clear his head.
Heather and Therese shared the same room, the bride's to be being treated to their feet being washed by the other ladies, a tradition to wish her a good path ahead. Their pillows were scented by sachets of lavender, heather and juniper hung from the corner posts. They awoke facing one another and in moments, held hands and smiled. Heather boldly leaned forward and kissed Therese's lips briefly.
"I am so happy for us, Heather. Our lives will be lived with the men we love and we will be friends forever. I could never dream of so beautiful a day. Listen...do you hear that?" Therese asked, hearing the sounds of the pipes.
"Aye, that's Grayson's favourite air they're playing. Isn't it lovely? Oh, listen. I know what they're playing noo. That's fer us, Therese, it's an Ode tae the Bride. Come, let's listen." Heather told her and climbed out of bed, covering herself with a robe. Therese did the same and the two stood at the open window and waved to the pipers, as they played.
Once the music finished, the pipers waved to the Ladies and the Lairds and came back into the castle. Maids came to the ladies to help them get ready and a bath was soon filled and shortly after, the two ladies were being bathed and then dressed, their hair brushed and combed before intricate braids were made with coloured beads interwoven in them.
Garreth and Grayson were in their own chambers doing the same. Garreth looked in the mirror at himself and felt proud. For all the fussing they did on grooming him that annoyed him, it clearly showed in his appearance. His new kilt was perfectly pleated and the 'blanket' hung over his left shoulder, held in place with a very ornate brooch made of silver with a dark, purple amethyst for the thistle, the end tucked under his belt.
His new leather belt gleamed from the polishing and there hanging proudly from it, was
the new basket handled sword Grayson had made for him. The filigree metal gleamed
brightly in the sunlight and dazzled his eyes. His Skean Dubh was sheathed in the oxter, the Cairngorm stone gleaming from the end of the handle. His dirk, bog wood sheath, with silver filament adorning the tip and front, sat on his sporran belt on his left side. His new cuarans, deerskin boots he had finely tanned, were tied to his legs with thongs, over his tartan hose, that were held up with ribbon garters. He adjusted his bonnet, so the feathers stood straight up, making him take one last look at himself before exiting his chambers.
Grayson watched the servants leave and then turned to admire himself as well. His long, crimson hair had been tamed and combed out, making him look civil and less feral. He admired how every piece of silver gleamed brightly about him. He felt prouder than he had ever felt before in his life, feeling he presented himself well on this special day of days. His MacDonald plaid was carefully assembled on him and his Cairngorm brooch twinkled when the light hit it, the dark, brown crystal turning golden in the light. His new sword and belt shone brilliantly as well, his other blades equally as dazzling. He looked at his new shoes and turned his foot to admire them more. Arabella had sworn by their comfort and Grayson was quickly agreeing with her. Brogans she called them, but he liked his cuarans for daily wear. He proudly walked out of his chambers and met Garreth just leaving his.
"My friend, we do great honour this day tae oorselves and oor clans. Ye strike a good look tae ye. The sword pleases ye I take it?" Grayson said to him, as they walked the hall together.
"Aye, Grayson. It's a beautiful sword. I can'ne thank ye enough dear friend fer the kindness. I must find a way tae repay ye in kind." Garreth said to him, his hand extending out to Grayson.
They shook firmly and looked at each other with admiration, before a quick hug and they continued on to the stairs. Garreth couldn't help but poke a bit of fun at Grayson's footwear, but Grayson quickly gave Garreth a kick in his arse, as he went down first, making Garreth catch his step and then laugh. Once they reached the bottom, Gregor led the two chiefs from the keep and the four McCrimmon pipers followed behind out into the grounds towards the altar. The guests stood when they heard the pipers and watched the two friends being led towards them. The looks on their faces confirmed they were greatly impressed with their display. The guests had been treated to a bath and some grooming to look their best, but the lairds truly were magnificent in their splendid dress.
As the men made their way along the flower lined aisle, they took their place and faced the guests. The pipers finished playing and returned to the castle in quick order. Julia and Anne stood together, their dresses adorned with brocade panels, studded with semi-precious stones in intricate Celtic patterns. As different in colour and style as they were, they seemed to match well together.
The sound of the pipes echoed from inside the castle, signalling everyone the brides were on their way. All eyes watched, as the pipers led the two ladies along the path to the gardens and along the flowered aisle. They slowly paced their steps in time with the air, coming to stand beside their mates. Everyone looked in awe at the beautiful women coming towards them. Heather and Therese looked translucent in the morning light, the fine linen so sheer to let the light pass through. Heather's light, silk panels of green across her bosom and down the legs of her dress glowed with the sunlight, while Therese's cobalt blue front bodice panel tapered down to a point on her abdomen and numerous strips sewn vertically down the legs.
The layers of linen masked enough of their silhouettes, that their bodies weren't seen clearly, but the outline was clear enough to know they were naked underneath. A 'vee' of gossamer lace splay open the chest and cleavage of Therese's breasts, while delicate lace adorned Heather the same way. The
pipers peeled off to the sides and finished, deflating the bagpipes.
Julia spoke first, offering a welcome to the guests.
"I welcome ye all t'day tae Dunvegan and the joinings of Laird Garreth MacLeod tae Lady Therese de Mornay de Trecesson and Laird Grayson MacDonald tae Lady Heather MacDonnell. It is their decision tae join in bond and if there is anyone here who objects tae their joining, speak and be heard." she waited for the length of a breath and continued.
"I will preside o'er the joining of my son, tae Lady Therese, while Lady Anne MacDonnell of Eilean Donan will preside o'er the joining of Laird Grayson and her daughter, Heather."
Arabella sat in front, looking at her brother and felt so much joy, then to the man she truly loved, and felt her heart sink, while Braedon sat beside her holding her hand. She could feel her sadness threatening her happiness and choked back her feelings, then looked up at Braedon and smiled. Braedon noticed her move and saw her looking at him. He felt his heart warm at the sight and smiled back, his love showing clearly in his eyes.
Julia came closer to Garreth and Therese and took each of their right hands and had them hold each other, as she placed her hand over top of them, the red, silk ribbon on her wrist. Anne came to Grayson and Heather and did the same with them. Together they spoke the blessing to the couples and to everyone.
"Blessed be this union wi' the gifts of the East
Communication of the heart, mind and body
Fresh beginnings with the rising of each Sun
The knowledge of the growth found in their silences.
Blessed be this union wi' the gifts of the South
Warmth of heart and home
The heat of the heart's passion
The light created by both to illuminate the darkest of times
Blessed be this union wi' the gifts of the West
The deep commitments of the lake. The swift excitement of the river
The refreshing cleansing of the rain
The all encompassing passion of the sea
Blessed be this union wi' the gifts of the North
Firm foundation on which tae build
Fertility of the fields tae enrich yer lives
A stable home tae which ye may always return
Julia spoke first to Garreth and Therese, now saying their vows.
"Do ye, Garreth Malcolm William MacLeod, take Therese Marie de Mornay de Trecesson tae be yer wife, tae be her constant friend, her partner in life, her own true love?
Tae love her wi'oot reservation, honour and respect her, protect her from harm, comfort her in times of distress and tae grow wi' her in mind and spirit?"
Garreth turned to Therese and looked into her eyes deeply and felt the love in his heart for her.
He looked at her and spoke his vows to her, looking at her with all his love.
"I pledge my love tae ye and all that I own.
I promise ye the first bits of my meal and the first sip from my cup.
I pledge that yer name will always be the name I cry aloud in the dead of night.
I promise tae honour ye above all others.
Oor love is never-ending and we will remain, forevermore, equals in oor marriage.
This is my wedding vow tae ye."
Anne turned to Grayson and repeated the same vows. He looked at Heather and clasped her hand a little tighter and repeated the same vows. Julia then turned to Therese and gave her the vows, which she spoke out in words from
her heart and squeezed Garreth's hand as she spoke.
Anne turned to Heather and asked her the vows, her eyes welling in tears as she spoke.
With that, the two ladies untied the ribbon on their wrists and wrapped it around the couples wrists twice and tied it. The couples looked at each other, now facing each other, as the ladies finished the bonding. Together they spoke out, as they held the couple's hands in theirs, once the ribbons were tied.
"Noo ye are bound, one tae the other
Wi' a tie not easy tae break
Take the time of binding
Before the final vows are made
Tae learn what ye need tae know
Tae grow in wisdom and love
That yer marriage will be strong
That yer love will last
In this life and beyond."
Julia spoke first. "Garreth, ye may take yer wife and welcome her tae ye."
Garreth took his free hand and held Therese to him as he kissed his wife for the first time.
Before they started, Anne spoke the same words to Grayson. Both women smiled happily, as they watched their coupled children celebrate their love, then hugged, as they looked at their children, now grown and united in bond with fine mates.
Arabella kept swallowing the lump in her throat, trying to fight back her personal misery at knowing she would never have a chance to be with Garreth. Her smile was forced and she cheered along with the others, as the couples were welcomed for the first time, wishing in her heart that it was her standing with Garreth.
Julia stood before Garreth and Therese and placed her hand on the couples bound hands.
"Mi'le fa'ilte dhuit le d'bhre'id. Fa do re gun robh thu sla'n. Mo'ran la'thean duit is sith. Le d'maitheas is le dni bhi fas." she told them, Therese smiling, but looking confused at the Gaelic wedding blessing. "Oh Therese, no tae worry my dear, it means, A thousand welcomes tae ye and yer marriage. May ye be healthy all yer days. May ye be blessed wi' long life and peace, may ye grow old wi' goodness and riches."
Therese hugged Julia happily and thanked her for the lovely blessing, as did Garreth.
Guests soon offered blessings of their own and before everything lost its order, the pipers were filling the bagpipes and playing a march to bring everyone back to the castle. The couples followed behind them and then the two mothers, then guests, as the procession made the walk back along the path.
The hall was gayly decorated and the head table, raised higher on a podium, was covered in a broad swath of tartans of MacLeod, MacDonald and MacDonnell. A table in front of that for the distinguished guests, was covered in linen cloth and richly decorated. Three tables ran perpendicular to it, with enough seating for the rest, they too given embellishments to enrich the look of it and delight the guests.
The pipers played until everyone had entered and was seated, then deflated the skins as the newly weds took their places at the centre of the head table. Peadair called for calm among the guests and soon a quiet fell in the hall. Garreth rose and stood proudly in front of them, looking at them with great happiness on his face.
"My family, my friends, my loyal clansmen, it is my honour tae stand here before ye's on this great day of days. This day sees three clans united in bond and the ally of France wi'
us. It also sees many clans coming t'gether in common bond of friendship and peace throughout oor lands. But more-so, it's the joining of my heart wi' that of Therese and my dearest friend, Grayson, joining his heart wi' his lady fair, Heather. It is a time tae celebrate these joinings and share in the joys of them wi' us. Let there be feasting and drink tae fill yer bellies, let the music play, till not an ear is left tae hear it. Let this day be remembered in yer hearts, as it will in oors."
Clapping and cheers filled the hall, then a minstrel group playing flutes and drums started playing, as food was brought out in abundance. The early afternoon was met with laughter and love, merriment and joy, as everyone ate and drank well.
Once there was a consensus that the guests were finished eating, Peadair rose and quieted the guests.
"It's time fer entertainment, so let the pipers play a fling and bring oot the dancers."
The pipers rose from their seats and filled the pipes bladders. The skirl rose, as they tuned together and began to play, along with the pipes and drums of the minstrels. In moments, four girls in tartan trewes with swords came dancing into the hall, moving in unison with the tune. Therese had never seen highland dancing and was thrilled to see the intricate stepping and hand work. Garreth explained it was called a Ghillie Chalum.
The dance signified the moves made in battle by a soldier. The object was to complete all the moves without touching the blades. Therese watched closely, as the girls feet almost blurred in their steps. Finally the song stopped and the girls bowed to the head table. The girls left and two men returned with two dirks each. They took their places on corner swords opposite each other. Therese asked what they were doing now and Garreth explained it was called a bruicheath, or battle dance. The drummer counted out the beat and everyone joined in again, as the two men began dancing from corner to corner, brandishing the dirks at each other. The blades came within inches and one false step could mean death or serious injury.
Therese and many of the women gasped at the ferocity of the dance, as they spun and twirled, their feet playing around the blades. The guests clapped in time, keeping the tempo for them and cheering their efforts. As the end built to a crescendo of music, the men jumped high in the air and spun quickly. As they came down, they landed in a genuflecting position, with both dirks piercing the wooden floor. The guests applauded and cheered and brought Therese, then everyone, to their feet to thank them. The two bowed happily to them, panting breathlessly for their efforts, before gathering the swords and dirks and exiting the hall.
Peadair called for the tables to be moved, so an open area was made in the centre of the hall. The pipers and minstrels received word from Grayson to play a reel so he could dance with Heather and Garreth could dance with Therese. They picked one that everyone knew and shortly the hall filled with a gay tune. Grayson and Garreth led their ladies to the open area and Grayson and Heather began to dance. Therese had never done a reel before, but seeing how Heather moved with Grayson, she understood the moves and soon she and Garreth were stepping together in time and laughing. Shortly after, every couple was dancing and singles were soon pairing up to enjoy the lively tune. Dancing continued for several songs more, before the pipers took a rest, while the mistrels played on.
Laughter and merriment rang out and the hall continued to be festive. Jugglers came out and amazed everyone with their feats, as cups were continually filled and plates of food brought to those with an appetite still. Happiness was present on every face throughout
the day, as celebrations continued. When the sun had finished lighting the day, The mood returned to one of honour and respect, as guests lined up to approach the head table and offer tributes to the couples. Sorley was first to offer his.
"May God go wi' ye's and bless ye.
May ye see yer children's children.
May ye be poor in misfortune and rich in blessings,
May ye's know nothing but happiness from this day forward.
May joy and peace surround ye's both.
Contentment latch yer door
And happiness be wi' ye's noo
and God bless ye's e'ermore.
May ye live yer lives wi' trust
and nurture lifelong affection
May yer lifelong dreams come true fer ye,
Move e'er that direction.
May the road rise up tae meet ye,
May the wind be always at yer back.
May the sun shine upon yer face,
the rains fall softly on yer fields.
May the light of friendship guide yer paths t'gether,
May the laughter of children grace the halls of yer home.
May the joy of living fer each other, trip a smile from your lips,
a twinkle from yer eye.
And when eternity beckons, at the end of life,
heaped high wi' love,
May the good Lord embrace ye, wi' arms that ha'e nurtured ye,
the length of yer joy-filled days.
May the gracious God hold ye both in the palm of his hands,
and t'day, may the Spirit of Love,
find a dwelling place in yer hearts."
Sorley finished and crossed his hand over his heart and bowed to the couples, before taking his seat again. The couples sat and listened to blessing after blessing, wishing them all the happiness and joy a couple could have. Sloan and Kyla approached and Sloan offered his blessing to them. The couples thanked him and Kyla, but Kyla spoke out, before Sloan moved on.