The Wedding of Alyse Suidop

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Alyse is engaged, again, but when she wakes up in the wrong room her life takes an entirely unexpected turn.

If Marina Morten had been a different sort of person she would have been pacing the room, wringing her hands, worrying her hair, chewing her lip. She would have been contemplating tying bedsheets together and absconding through the window. She would have stuck her head out the door and demanded loudly of the servants lounging in the corridor what had been decided downstairs. But Marina was herself, not a different sort of person, and she was sitting quietly in front of the fire knitting. What, precisely, she was knitting could not be easily determined. But she was the picture of contentment and ease as she sat and knitted by firelight. Downstairs a hoard of men was bargaining, exchanging one sort of property (of the metallic variety) for another (of the feminine variety). It was the new emperor’s idea, a way to deal with a whole generation of marriages at once while maintaining the Imperial interests. That so many had gone along with the idea of turning the Market into a festival of arranged marriages was fairly repulsive, in Marina’s opinion, but you would never have known it had you seen her sitting there in the room assigned her, knitting a rather misshapen sweater (or perhaps it was a blanket).

 

It should be noted that everyone was very, very drunk. Not mildly tipsy, not I-may-have-had-one-too-many, but wildly, ridiculously, absurdly drunk. This explains (but not excuses) what occurred. Alyse Suidop woke up alone in her room, naked and with the bedsheets in wild disarray. Her head pounded horribly and her memory was exceedingly vague, but it didn’t take a genius to infer what had happened. Clearly, she and her new fiancé had gotten a bit ahead of themselves, what with so many others getting wed on the spot and heading off to consummate their unions. She carefully dressed, moving slowly to keep her head from exploding, and then removed the stained sheet from the bed and folded it into a neat little bundle (to be reused on her actual wedding night). She made the bed as best she could and then tucked the sheet into her small bag of belongings. These were the steps that had to be taken, and now she wasn’t entirely sure what to do.

The door banged open and a maid, neatly dressed but also looking as though her head was in danger of exploding, curtseyed quickly in Alyse’s direction. “Riha Griva is waiting on you in the hall, leena,” she said before hastily exiting.

Alyse wondered who Griva was and what on earth he wanted with her. It was very possible that he was a friend of her new betrothed and wished to be introduced before departing, no doubt with his own new bride. The governors and overseers of the province had mostly been the ones to marry immediately, while the lesser (but still important enough to have participated) folk would reconvene in a month’s time for their weddings. At which point Alyse would be married to the man her father had chosen to replace the one she’d been drime’ad to for a year. Relieved that she had dressed and tidied the room before the maid saw it, Alyse headed downstairs.

 

“Ah, wife, there you are,” Simon Griva said, rather more quietly than he usually spoke, as he too had a splitting headache. “We are nearly ready to depart; none of us felt much like eating.” He couldn’t help thinking his wife looked rather different than she had at their very brief wedding, but then it had been night then and the candlelight wasn’t particularly illuminating. And then upstairs there hadn’t been any light at all. So it was very likely the slim, brown-haired creature before him, staring at him with wide, incredibly confused grey eyes was, in fact, his bride.

“I’m sorry, riha, but I had rather thought to leave with my father, as my fiancé and I are not yet wed,” she said, tilting her head to the side and looking as if she thought he was insane.

“I can assure you we are very much wed, wife,” he said with a laugh. Obviously, she’d drunk even more than him last night. How awkward not to remember one’s wedding. But then, he barely did either. And almost nothing of what came after. Almost nothing. But something. Definitely something.

“I very much doubt that,” his wife said firmly. “I distinctly recall being betrothed to Turin Dunhill, first captain to Governor Josef. And I haven’t any idea who you are.”

 

Alyse’s father was summoned to confirm that she was, in fact, Alyse Suidop and not Marina Morten. And that she was, in fact, unmarried. And drime’ad to Turin Dunhill, who was still unconscious following the revelry of the previous night and had last been seen sleeping beneath a bush in the courtyard. Where, a guard gleefully reported, he had spent the entire night curled up like a wet puppy.

“I should very much like to know where my actual wife is,” Griva declared, feeling rather embarrassed but also irritated. At which point a search of the Imperial Residence of Thetaton (setting of the many weddings of the previous day) began. It took quite a long time (for it was a very large building and a number of the rooms were still being used quite enthusiastically) and by the end of it Alyse was quite tired of standing in the hall beside her father and Marina Morten was nowhere to be found. A very irritated Simon Griva dragged Alyse and her father into an empty room to explain why, exactly, the servants had thought she was Marina. And then the maid was called, and then the imperial registrar. And the housekeeper. And finally, Turin Dunhill.

This, as it turned out, is what had taken place:

After her wedding, Marina Griva (né Morten) retired to her room early, claiming the smoke from the hall fireplace was making her dizzy. A maid led her to the room assigned her, but Marina found it too drafty and asked to be moved down the hall. The maid didn’t much care (she was eager to get back to the merriment) and so she moved Alyse’s belongings out of the next room and installed Marina into it. An hour later, when Alyse retired (being far, far more inebriated than Marina had been), the same maid installed her in what had previously been Marina’s room.

Much, much later, long after the maid had quit the hall and Turin Dunhill had passed out in the courtyard, Simon Griva was escorted upstairs by a steward and shown to the room that had been assigned, by the housekeeper, to his bride (Marina, in case that wasn’t clear already). Except it hadn’t been Marina asleep in the bed, and so it hadn’t been Marina who had been partially awoken and drunkenly…well, you know.

Meanwhile, Marina had apparently slipped out of the Imperial Residence and disappeared into the night.

At this point, the imperial registrar summoned the reverend who had presided over the various weddings and betrothals the previous day. Having caught him up to speed and then dismissed the maid and steward, he then suggested that the various interested parties should express their concerns.

“Clearly,” Alyse’s father said, “riha Griva  has taken…liberties with my daughter and ought to pay damages to myself and her fiancé.” This, Alyse felt, was not quite what should have been said. At least, not all that should have been said.

There then followed a great deal of shouting, during which Turin said some fairly unkind things about both Alyse and Griva, Griva had some heated rejoinders concerning people who were incapable of adequately guarding their fiancés, as well as the desperate need of discipline among the staff members. There were, unfortunately, quite a few remarks concerning the fact that Alyse, having known she was unwed, ought to have protested the consummation. At this her father did mention that, even if she had, it was hardly likely the esteemed riha would have listened, having had every right (in his own mind) to consummate his marriage with the woman he believed to be his bride. At which point Griva became quite angry and demanded to know whether Alyse’s father thought him the kind of man who would rape his bride. And then, in the awkward silence that followed, Alyse said, “Perhaps not your bride, riha, but you raped me, did you not?”

And then, at last, being the only other woman present, the housekeeper decided to speak. “Lord Registrar,” she said, addressing her employer and ignoring everyone else for the present, “It is true that there are evidently serious issues among the staff. Which will be addressed. It is also true that riha Griva acted within his rights as a husband with the woman he believed to be his bride. And that the woman who was, in fact, in his room did not protest his actions. Most likely because she mistook him for her own fiancé and was far too…indisposed…to decline his advances as she ought. A young, unmarried girl ought not to have been left to sleep alone last night, in any case. That is clearly the fault of her father for failing to adequately protect his daughter. I hardly think the girl can be blamed.”

The registrar nodded.

“There is every reason,” the housekeeper continued, “to fine riha Griva for his actions and then perform the wedding for the young lady and Dunhill. He can take his bride and this whole drunken affair be forgotten.”

Several heads in the room began to nod, although not, it must be noted, Alyse’s nor Turin’s.

“Except,” the housekeeper said, “that the young woman may be with child. It is possible, although unlikely, that the riha gave her a child last night. And if that is the case, you can hardly wed her to another man and expect him to raise the riha’s bastard.”

There was a great silence in the room and all eyes turned back to Alyse to see what she would say. She said nothing. Everything the housekeeper had said was true. There was really nothing to say.

“My Lord Registrar,” the reverend said finally, “If I may make a suggestion?”

“Yes, Reverend,” the registrar said. “By all means, tell us how to get out of this mess.”

“The revelry last evening was unholy and not at all in keeping with the sacrament of marriage. And thus I will impose a severe penance on all within the keep for a length of time. The girl in question will feel especially penitent and will serve her penance in solitude within one of the prayer cells in the chapel. By the end of a certain length of time, which she will tell us, we will know whether she is with child or not.”

Eyes were back on Alyse. After a minute she realized they were waiting for her to tell them when she next expected to bleed. How horrifying to discuss such a thing in a room full of men. And with the registrar and her father! But no more awful than the other thing they were discussing, a thing she couldn’t even remember happening.

“Two weeks,” she whispered.

“And after two weeks?” the registrar asked the reverend.

“If she is with child, she will wed riha Griva. If not, she weds Dunhill as planned. Should he still desire the union, of course.”

And that, of course, was the difficulty. Because it was fairly obvious to everyone in the room that Turin did not still desire the union. And there was one other problem.

“In case everyone has forgotten,” Griva  said unhappily, “I am already wed to Marina Morten.”

“Not for very much longer,” the registrar said. “Your bride is nowhere to be found, your marriage unconsummated. It will be annulled easily enough. Especially since you broke your vows before even bothering to consummate the marriage.”

This was very insulting and Griva was quite angry about it. After all, the housekeeper had said it wasn’t his fault, and he didn’t like being called unfaithful, even if he had been.

And then a messenger knocked on the door with a letter for the registrar, and it became obvious to everyone that this whole mess had actually been orchestrated purposefully.

Leena Marina writes that she was, unfortunately, already wed before her marriage to you, riha. To a cattle baron, of all people, and that she is well on her way to his side. And also that she is very sorry for tricking you into…hmm…with some poor unsuspecting girl and knows you’ll do the right thing.” The registrar laughed. “It appears you’re not married at all, Griva. How fortunate for you.”

 

Alyse was rather glad to be locked into the prayer cell. It was bare and a bit cold, but she had plenty of cloaks and blankets and it was better to be bored and alone than surrounded by everyone staring and/or yelling at her. Several people had looked ready to start yelling again before the reverend hurried her away.

“It’ll be alright, my child,” he said encouragingly. And then he turned the key in the lock.

Silence and solitude. Her penance for getting thoroughly, disgustingly drunk, and accidentally letting the wrong man between her legs. She wondered what penance the rest of the castle was receiving and hoped it was particularly severe. Especially for Simon Griva. And Turin. Because if the fool had stayed conscious long enough to come to her himself, this whole thing would have been avoided.

 

Two-and-a-half weeks later, without a drop of blood in sight, Alyse was released from the cell and married to Simon Griva, who seemed less than thrilled about the idea. Of course, he was supposed to get a wealthy bride and a step closer to the imperial court. Instead he got the daughter of a shopkeeper and no alliance whatsoever, and also the embarrassment of having been abandoned by his first (fake) wife, which he evidently had not yet got over. It was definitely not the stuff of fairy tales. Four days after that, Alyse's bleeding started. Only a week behind schedule. Simon Griva was seriously annoyed.


Submitted: May 31, 2021

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