trekwriter151: by <lj user="cedarrapidsgirl>" (malcolm hoshi)
[personal profile] trekwriter151
Here it is, the wedding!

Information on weddings in the Renaissance can be found here: The ring vow I used is here. The actual ceremony took place at the door of the church, with a wedding Mass to follow inside the church. Wedding rings were worn on the thumb or the fourth finger of the right hand. It didn't switch to the left hand until after the Reformation.

Latin: Benedictio annuli ante hostium templi...” "Blessing the ring at the door of the church"

Thanks for reading! Cast list (a Who's Who) is included in the end notes in the Coda.

May 1484, Milan

Paola de Conti-Montagnari, soon to be Paola Tocceri, smoothed down her blue silk dress that was edged with gold and white lace. Her Aunt Lara braided and arranged her hair into a lovely crown, weaving sprigs of rosemary and thyme into the tucks and folds; their distinct aroma permeated the room.

“There, look at yourself in the mirror, Paola. You are beautiful. Your groom will be speechless when he sees you,” Lara announced with satisfaction.

Paola gazed in the polished silver mirror with wide eyes. The colors gave her a sense of poise and nobility that she never knew existed within her. This was the first day of the rest of her life, and her stomach fluttered with nervous excitement.

“Aunt Lara...I never thanked you for everything you've done for me--”

Lara made a scoffing noise and shook her head. “You don't have to thank me for anything, Paola. Extreme pathos doesn't suit you, my dear. Don't you start.”

The blunt assessment startled her into laughter. Paola sighed and gave her aunt a wide smile. “Blunt and insightful, as usual.”

“Now that sounds like my Paola.” The lines around Lara's eyes deepened as they crinkled in wry amusement. “Your uncle and I are very proud of the woman you've become. He may not show it overtly, but he considers you the daughter he never had. Try not to embarrass him.”

Her smiled turned into a slight smirk. “I'll try.”

Forty days had passed since that fateful duel in Venice. Not long after Kosso's burial, the Archer-Hernandez household left Venice and went to Milan. Umbrico Sovale invited them to stay at his grand palazzo for the wedding preparations. Although Carlo and Paola would have preferred a quieter affair, Umbrico and Lara pointed out that the niece of a prominent Milanese banker was an important figure in the city's social structure. Besides, Lara and Eriana decided to make it a grand occasion.

“News from Venice has reached the ears of the powerful in Milan,” Lara pointed out. “There's no way you and your betrothed can sneak off like thieves into the night. Not if you wish to make Milan or Naples your new home.”

Both Paola and Carlo were originally from Naples, and they wanted to settle there, by the bay. Luckily, they reached a compromise with Umbrico: half the year, they would spend in Naples with Carlo's family, and the other half in Milan with Paola's. That was an easy agreement compared with other parts of the marriage agreement. There was the issue of the Paola's bridal dowry, the rest of the items of her trousseau, and other financial matters. Complicating things was the fact that Carlo's family came from a more modest background.

Luckily, Captain Archer's and Umbrico's negotiating skills helped iron out the legal complications. Umbrico had no direct heir, so Carlo and Paola would inherit his estate when the time came. Archer acquired a fleet of ships based in Naples, and Carlo would oversee its construction and launch. So, he was able to use his engineering expertise in honest work.

When all the contracts were settled and signed, the families focused on the wedding nuptials. Technically, Milanese society considered Carlo and Paola wed as soon as the ink dried. Yet Carlo insisted on waiting until the formal ceremony. After all, what was wrong with waiting another twenty-four hours?

Besides the anticipation, and the nervousness, and...Paola wanted it over with. The wedding was the talk of Milan, and if the more conservative members of society felt scandalized, Umbrico Sovale didn't care one bit. Of course, they prudently kept their grumbling to themselves.

Paola heard a knock at the door and called for the visitor to enter. Estrella glided into the room, splendidly attired in the gown Paola had designed for her. The wide sleeves and flowing cut gave Estrella the look of a ruby-plumed bird. Her dark hair, unlike Paola's, was done in simple curls and held back by a golden headband and veil.

Lara surveyed Estrella's gown with a critical eye, then nodded her approval. “Eriana told me that this is done in the style of your people. I would be interested in discussing the fine details with you at a later time.”

“Of course, Lady Lara. It would be an honor.” Estrella's smile widened at the sight of Paola. “Carlo won't be able to concentrate on anything else, Paola, including the ceremony.”

“As long as he remembers what to say and do, he should be fine.” Paola extended a hand and Estrella took it. “Are you ready to become a matron, Estrella?”

“I've been ready for a while. Shall we go and scandalize the whole of Milan, my lady?”

Lara sighed, but Paola laughed and answered, “Yes, let's.”

The piazza in front of the Duomo di Milano was filled with people. Carlo's huge clan came all the way from Naples, while Malcolm's parents and sister journeyed south from Plymouth. The Tocceris and the Reeds were opposites in every sense of the word, but they got along surprisingly well. Caterina Tocceri and Mary Reed chatted like old friends, while Carlo Tocceri Senior and Captain Stuart Reed talked about their experiences on the sea.

Both Carlo and Malcolm breathed a sigh of relief. It was one of life's mysteries.

“You look quite dashing in your uniform, Malcolm.”

Malcolm sketched a salute with his rapier. He wore a ruffled white shirt, black vest with gold buttons, breeches, boots and a jaunty hat with a red feather in it. Carlo, too, wore a long-sleeved blue shirt with vest, with black pants, hose, boots, and a matching hat. People at a distance mistook them for brothers, albeit an interesting pair of brothers.

The crowd turned at the commotion at the end of the piazza. The bridal train came into view and both men stared as their betrotheds arrived on white horses, with Lady Eriana and Lady Lara on either side and their ladies close behind. Paola wore a blue silk gown, Estrella a red one, and both women's faces were veiled from view.

“The first time I saw Paola, she was veiled. It was her eyes that drew her to me.”

Malcolm glanced sideways at him and replied, “Quite appropriate that the end matches the beginning, then.”

“You've been talking philosophy with Estrella again.”

“And we'll continue to do so, as long as possible.”

Carlo's grin widened, but he held his tongue as Sovale and Archer helped the ladies down to the stones of the piazza and escorted them to the doors of the Duomo. Paola's mouth quirked into a smile under the veil, while Estrella gazed at her groom with loving eyes. Both couples joined hands in front of Cardinal Giardiniere. The cardinal's solemn expression didn't change, though his eyes twinkled with humor.

Giardiniere's voice rang out over the piazza as he invoked the opening blessing. "Benedictio annuli ante hostium templi...

The entire ordeal took less than fifteen minutes as the couples repeated their vows before God and their witnesses. Traveo BuonTempo held the rings for the exchange. Carlo and Malcolm slipped the gold bands on their ladies' right ring fingers.

“With this ring I thee wed,

This gold and silver I thee give,

With my body I thee worship

And with this dowry I thee endow.”

Carlo gazed into Paola's eyes as he said the traditional words, first in Latin, then in English. She blushed at the intensity of the look; she found herself trembling in anticipation of what was to come after. He smirked a little as he said the third line, causing her to blush even hotter.

No one noticed as Cardinal Giardiniere finally pronounced the couples wed. Cheers broke out over the piazza as the wedding party filed into the Duomo for the wedding Mass. The rest of the guests followed them inside.

Two hours later, the bells announced the news all over Milan.

Umbrico Sovale spared no expense for the wedding feast. He hired musicians and dancers, the finest comedians and jesters, the most skilled chefs and decorators. It was a curious blend of Milanese and Spanish traditions, but unique all the same. Traveo and Elisabetta BuonTempo sat with Doctor Floccia, while Captain Ramirez kept a close vigil during the celebration.

Sovale watched as his niece and new nephew-in-law as they danced the rondo. Carlo picked up the steps fairly quickly, if a bit awkwardly in the beginning. Sovale was impressed at how Lieutenant Reed and his new bride moved smoothly across the floor.

“Malcolm's mother insisted he learn some of the social graces,” Archer commented.

Sovale smiled slightly. Archer leaned against the marble column, resplendent in his captain's uniform. “In that case, the Mistress Mary did right by her son, then.”

“I think Captain Reed's proud of Malcolm, even if he isn't demonstrative about it. His family's rather restrained in their emotions, unlike certain Milanese and Neopolitans.”

Sovale chuckled at the unspoken teasing in Archer's tone. “Certain Milanese and Neopolitans choose to shout their feelings from the highest mountaintop. Others are...more subtle, but we still feel it all the same.”

“I had no doubt about that, Signor Sovale. It's just a matter of digging below the surface.”

This was an old topic of conversation between the two. Sovale inclined his head in agreement, though he kept a calm demeanor. “So Carlo claims as well. I believe he enjoys provoking certain reactions from the more conservative of people.”

“And Paola's followed suit?” Archer laughed outright. “In some ways, yes. I think Carlo's in for a lifetime of surprises.”

“Isn't that the joy—and the bane—of marriage, Captain Archer?”

“Indeed it is, Signor Sovale. Indeed it is.”

The wedding feast lasted long into the night. Paola enjoyed her turns on the dance floor; a stern-faced Captain Stuart Reed taught her and Estrella a simple hornpipe, much to the amusement of all. Malcolm stared at the impromptu group before bursting out in laughter and Carlo joined the merry-making with his usual enthusiasm.

Finally, Lara took her aside and whispered, “It's time, Paola.”

She nodded and followed her aunt up to the private rooms of the palazzo. Caterina Tocceri was in the process of scattering rose petals on the bridal bed and lighting candles in the room. Caterina smiled at her new daughter-in-law and opened her arms for a hug.

“You take care of my son, Paola,” Caterina whispered. “He can be a handful to deal with.”

“I'll do my best, Mistress Caterina.”

The older woman laughed and shook her head. “You don't have to address me so; I'm not noble. Caterina is fine; Signora Tocceri if you want to be formal.”

“Thank you...Caterina, for everything.”

The women helped Paola into a pale cream camiccia, then with a final kiss on the cheek and some words of wisdom, they withdrew from the room. Paola sat at the edge of the bed, her heart hammering in her chest. Although she'd asked Estrella extensively about the experience, Paola still felt unprepared.

A few moments later, Carlo entered the room. He'd shed the formal wear and wore a white shirt and soft breeches. He gazed at her for the longest time, then whispered, “Paola?”

“I am here,” she replied softly.

He crossed the room in a few steps and took her within his arms. Gently, he brushed the loose strands of blonde-brown hair from her face and smiled. She felt a smile tug on her own lips.

“You're so beautiful. I love you.” He bent and kissed her, and the outside world vanished for both of them.

John Archer stood on the balcony, looking up at the stars overlooking Milan. Eriana leaned back in his arms as they savored the silence over the city. It was eerily quiet; they found themselves looking forward to the hustle and bustle of the port of Naples.

“It's time to get some rest. It'll be a long journey south.”

“But it is worth it, John.” She smiled at him. “It's all worth it.”

“I couldn't agree more.” He kissed his wife on the forehead, then led her into the room. As they prepared for bed, the silence was broken by soft murmurs and whispers through the walls. Archer's head shot up as the noise increased in pitch and volume...from two certain rooms down the hall. He shook his head as Eriana laughed aloud.

“Are we going to have to deal with this all the way to Naples?”

“They're married now, John. What did you expect?” Eriana raised her eyebrows suggestively. “It's not like we haven't been there before.”

His expression turned rueful as he remarked, “Well, there won't be any question about whether or not the marriages were consummated.”

“I doubt anyone would doubt that, John.” Her smile became wicked. “Enough talk, my dear. I might need some assistance to get to sleep, especially with this chaos.”

Archer grinned and pulled her into his arms. “Your wish is my command, Señora.”


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