Disclaimer: The following story has been written with no intention of claiming ownership or solicitation, nor does the author claim the movie character(s) as his/her own. The movie character(s) have been borrowed solely out of a love of the particular movie and is not intended for any other purpose but amusement and entertainment.
“So…are you ready?” Anthony put the car in park and turned to his fiancé.
“Yeah.” Stephanie smiled weakly, then moved her eyes to scan the parking lot. “Tina and Sophy should be here any minute. I told them 4 o’clock.”
Anthony followed her gaze. “They have a few minutes.”
At this, Stephanie turned and flashed him a quick smile. “No! Of course not.” She looked at her hands. “Not really….I mean…sort of….a little….” She laughed. “Yeah.”
Anthony reached over and squeezer her hand. “Me too.” he confessed.
Stephanie nodded her head. “I know it’s the right decision, but I’m still scared. I don’t want to screw it up like I did before. You know that’s why I don’t want a fancy wedding…” she searched his eyes for reassurance. “It’s not that I don’t want to do this, just the memories–”
Anthony silenced her with a finger over her lips.
“I love you.” He said firmly. “This is going to work.”
She was getting married again. Until this morning, the lawyer thought that she was comfortable with that fact, but sitting in the car, too many bad memories were giving her doubts. He’s nothing like Jack. She reminded herself, then leaned across the seat divider to thread her arms around Anthony’s neck. He bent forward to gather her in a tender kiss. He’s nothing like Jack… The soft warmth of his lips against her own was finally making the sentiment stick.
“Get a room!” A sharp tap on the windshield cased them both to sit up straight. Sure enough, Sophy was standing next to the car, with Tina slightly behind.
Embarrassed, the doctor and his bride-to-be scrambled out of the car.
“Thanks for coming.” Anthony said quickly, running his fingers through his hair.
Sophy answered with a nod. Tina, however, couldn’t hold her tongue. “It’s not too late to change your mind, you know.” She said gruffly.
The doctor arches his eyebrow in question, but Stephanie merely laughed. She knew that Tina would never forgive her for forgoing a big white wedding in favor of – *gasp!* – a civil ceremony. No doubt there was an empty notebook- well, empty save a coverpage that read “Stephanie and Anthony’s wedding”- sitting somewhere in the Biebe house plaguing Tina like a splinter in her foot.
“We’re going through with it, Tina!” The younger Kentuckian insisted. Linking her arm through Anthony’s, she led the way inside the courthouse. Unlike most of the picturesque Connecticut town, this building lacked aesthetic charm. It was a cement cube- ugly, but functional. They quickly found the office they were looking for.
“We need a license, please.” Stephanie said quickly, passing a bundle of documents: birth certificates, divorce verification, blood-test results, and a check over the counter. The elderly attendant smiled. “Alright…”
Stephanie drew her coat tighter across her figure. It was still early autumn- not really cold enough for a full-length coat, but she didn’t want her figure on display. Truthfully, her pregnancy barely showed at all, but she didn’t want to take the chance that anyone would get the wrong impression- or was it the right impression?- about her reasons for marrying Anthony.
Luckily, the courthouse was about to close, and there weren’t many people milling about. It had never ceased to amaze the young attorney that so many people liked to linger in the courthouse for no reason. Back in Kentucky she had known old men who attended County Fiscal Court every week…they attended arraignments, sat in on trials, harassed the clerks- and when there wasn’t anything else to do, they simply lingered in the halls. It was primarily for their sake that Stephanie had worn the coat.
“You’ll need to sign here, and her…” The clerk pushed a form back toward them, and Anthony accepted a pen. Stephanie watched him closely as he filled in the tiny squares.
They had been engaged before the baby came along. He claimed that he wanted to marry her even then…but part of her wondered if he would ever have gone through with it if she hadn’t forced his hand. He loved her- she never doubted that- but she knew that the piece of paper they were about to collect would be harder for him than most people could begin to understand. Although few people still thought of him as a priest, to the Catholic church, it was an indelible change. Before her married her, their dalliances, though “sin” could be excused…but after he did…
Excommunicated. Stephanie wasn’t a cradle Catholic, but the word still made her shiver. Anthony would be cut off from receiving communion, or holding a position in the church until the day that he (or she) died. He was making a bigger sacrifice than most people realized. She wondered if she was worth it. She wondered if she wanted the sense of obligation to him that his self-sacrifice caused.
“Your turn.” Anthony slid the paper to Stephanie and handed her the pen. Name of Bride… Her fiancé had already filled out the biographical information, there was nothing left for Stephanie to do but sign her name…
I, Stephanie Sterling Bailey certify that I am over 18, of sound mind, and not operating under any disability or undue influence…
The clerk plucked away the pen.
“When are you getting married?” She asked.
“Right now.” Anthony slid his arm protectively around his fiancé’s waist.
“Congratulations.” The clerk handed over the license and a receipt. “And good luck!”
“Thanks.” Stephanie murmured, sliding her hand into Anthony’s as they stepped into the hall. Sophy and Tina trailed silently behind.
“The Judge’s office is this way….” She pointed to a small door, then rang the buzzer for them to be admitted inside.
Like the rest of the building, the judge’s chamber was more functional than attractive. His secretary led them into the office: a small, windowless rectangle filled with an old couch, an enormous desk, and stacks of dusty books.
The Judge stood to greet them. “Stephanie…” he nodded. They knew each other, vaguely, from Stephanie’s dabbling in the legal community in town. “And this is….” He stole a quick glance at the paperwork which his secretary had supplied. “Anthony Giraudeau…” He smiled reassuringly. “Are you ready?”
“Uhm…sure….” Stephanie let the coat slide off her shoulders and accepted the small bouquet that Tina (having admitted defeat in Stephanie’s choice of dress: a black, lace trimmed number by ABS) had absolutely insisted that she bring.
“Do you have the rings?”
“Uhm…yeah…..” Anthony fished fruitlessly in his pocket until Sophy presented the box.
“I’m the best man, remember?” the petite sorceress smiled.
The Judge took the rings out of the box and held them in his hands. “Alright then, let’s get going.”
“Do you, Stephanie Sterling Bailey, take this man…” he paused to look at the paper again. “Anthony Bartholomew Giraudeau to be your lawful husband, to have and to hold, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, so long as you both shall live?”
This is happening too fast. Stephanie’s palms were sweaty. “I do.” She somehow managed to croak.
“And do you, Anthony Bartholomew Giraudeau, take this woman, Stephanie Sterling Bailey, to be your lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, so long as you both shall live?”
The judge handed them both a ring. “Repeat after me….”
“I, Stephanie Sterling Bailey take you, Anthony Giraudeau…” Stephanie repeated her vows like a sleepwalker, concentrating on the doctor’s face.
“With this ring, I thee wed.” Stephanie slid the ring onto Anthony’s finger and then listened to him repeat the same words back.
“With this ring, I thee wed…” Anthony’s hands were sweating too. Stephanie had to smile.
“Does anyone know a reason why these two should not be joined?”
Stephanie forced herself not to look at Sophy- she certainly didn’t need any encouragement….And no, Tina, lack of bridesmaids is NOT sufficient grounds, she added mentally for good measure.
“Then, by the power vested in me by the State of Connecticut, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
Stephanie blinked. Two minutes? It had lasted two minutes from beginning to end: no “we are gathered here together, no “you may kiss the bride”. Anthony didn’t wait for an instruction on the last matter. He bent forward and brushed his lips against her own. “I love you.” He whispered against her ear. Then he straightened and watched as the Judge signed his name to the license.
“That’s all?” Stephanie asked hollowly.
“That’s all.” The Judge stood as if to subtly usher them out. “You’re official now.”
Stephanie and Anthony followed their friends back out of doors. The young lawyer’s grip on her boyfriend- no, her husband‘s- hand tightening as she tried to restrain her tears. Everything had gone exactly as she had planned and yet…somehow it felt all hollow and wrong. She had told her friends that the wedding was “just a legal technicality”…but did it have to be? Did she want it to be?
It was too late to do anything about it now. Stephanie felt a large, wet drop on her scalp – the flight of a half dozen pigeons, residents of the concrete and asphalt square fronting the courthouse caught her attention. Gingerly she touched her head.
“It’s just rain.” Anthony, reading his new wife’s mind, smiled gently.
Stephanie tried to smile back, but somehow… somehow…the torrent of tears that she had been holding in broke free. Almost instantly the doctor gathered her to his chest. “What’s wrong, honey?” He asked, full of concern. Stephanie snuggled gratefully if morosely into her lover’s arms.
“Ah wbwa mah haa hah hahhhhha.” She sniffled. It had all made so much sense at the time: a simply civil ceremony. Nothing to get excited about. It wasn’t as if anything was going to change. Stephanie and the doctor were already living together…but now that it was over, Stephanie was overwhelmed with sadness. A sense of….lost opportunity…gnawed at her gut.
Sophy coughed to capture the pair’s attention.
“That was pretty bleak.” She said to the doctor, the words accented with hidden meaning.
“Umhmmm.” The doctor’s forced back his own smile as he rubbed his sniffling spouse’s back.
Tina joined in. “Well, it was what Stephanie said she wanted.” She, too, was having trouble keeping the laugh from her voice, but she did not sound as accusatory as she and Sophy had planned.
Sophy cast an arched glance at Anthony who, fighting back another smile, nodded his head.
“That’s it,” interrupted Sophy. “I can’t stand this place any more.” The drops were falling faster, the sky was ever lowering, and the pigeons – Well. She was glad London had the good sense to chase the flying rats out of Trafalgar Square.
Only Tina saw Sophy unzip her navy blue leather Bottega Veneta pocketbook and withdraw the tip of her wand.
“<imagine a clever, magic sounding word>” She said, then the air filled with sparkles.
Anthony’s mirth faded slightly as he wondered, for an instant, if he was getting more than he had bargained for, but when the glitter faded, a wide smile returned to his face.
“It stopped raining honey…” He kissed Stephanie’s forehead in a coaxing manner, trying to get her to lift her head.
“I….I wanna go home….” She sniffled.
“Well, we have to get married first.”
“W….what?” At last he had captured the woman’s attention, and she lifted her head.
And then she gasped.
They were in Hawaii.
Stephanie would never forget the majestic sweep of the ocean behind the western slope of Mt. Haleakala…the broad swath of jungle that ended in a beach of glittering black sand. The sun was warm over head- just like she had remembered- with a balmy breeze drifting upwards over the sea.
“Wh….how….?” Stephanie’s tongue refused to form all of the questions floating through her mind.
“Sophy’s wedding present.” Anthony whispered , tenderly brushing away the tears. “We had a feeling you’d change your mind. He nodded his head toward a small building in the valley: a mission church, from the looks of it, old, but well-kept and painted a cheerful pink. “Now…” He nudged her forward. “Why don’t we try this again.”
Stephanie followed the doctor’s lead, but couldn’t help looking around in awe. Tina and Sophy were stepping behind them.
“Is it really Hawaii?” the bride inquired.
Tina shook her head. “No, not really…but pretty close, isn’t it?”
Stephanie nodded her head vigorously. “Perfect! Or maybe even better….”
Sophy noted, with satisfaction, the growing excitement in her friend’s features. “I could have taken us to the real Hawaii.” She wanted to be clear about the extend of her powers. “But then not everyone could have come.”
“Sis!” Stephanie spun around at the sound of her older brother’s voice. He had stepped out of the front of the chapel- wearing a nice suit and a broad smile.
“Avery!” she rushed forward. “What are you doing here?”
“Come to see that Anthony makes an honest woman out of you!” He replied, winking in the doctor’s direction.
Sophy looked at her watch. “We are!”
Tina frowned. “And we haven’t even started to get ready!”
“Yes, yes…” Sophy shooed the doctor away. “It’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding!”
Anthony raised his hands in surrender, then he kissed Stephanie’s cheek. “I’ll wait for you inside.” He promised, turning to join her brother.
The doctor took a few steps away before he turned and came back. He lifted Stephanie’s hand and removed her wedding band. “Care if I borrow this for a few minutes?” He queried, tossing his own ring to Sophy who caught it on the tip of her wand.
When Anthony and Avery had gone, Sophy lifted her wand again. “Tina?” She said firmly, and when they friend stepped forward, she tapped her firmly on the shoulder. In a swirl of pink smoke, the woman was transformed, her skirt and sweater replaced with a dusky rose gown and a plumeria in her hair. A matching posy of flowers was in her hand. Sophy quickly transformed herself as well, and then she turned to Stephanie.
“Black….” she muttered again in a disapproving tone. Then, after stretching her fingers like a maestro about to play her instrument, she swept the wand deftly through the air.
Stephanie could only guess how the dress looked on her figure, but tears- this time happy ones- came to her eyes as she recognized the dress…Months earlier (more to humor Tina than anything else) she had spent an afternoon leafing through magazines comparing gowns. She had dog-eared, on page 386 of Modern Bride “the dress that I would get IF I were going to get a wedding dress- which I’m NOT!”. She was touched that Sophy had remembered. The simply ivory silk was fitted at the waist, but flared into a full skirt that trailed slightly in the back.
“And now for the hair.” As the tip of the magic wand swirled, Stephanie could feel her auburn locks twisting into perfect curls.
“Away from her face…” Tina recommended. “We’ll need it to hold the veil.
“Veil?” Stephanie looked expectantly to Sophy, wondering what her friend would conjure next, but Sophy nodded to Tina.
“That’s my department.” Mrs. Biebe announced. Stephanie noticed, for the first time, that she was carrying a small silk bag. She extracted something from it. “You owe your brother a lot for getting this!” She scolded. “He had to go to Palm Beach!”
Stephanie groaned good-naturedly at the mention of her parents, but the laughter that had started in her throat ended in a choked sob as Tina extracted the bag’s contents.
It was a veil- but not just any veil- the hand-tatted lace that her great-grandmother had brought from Ireland. She sniffled quietly as Tina draped it over her coiffure.
“But how did you? I mean…for my first wedding mama wouldn’t let–”
“Avery works in mysterious ways.” Tina laughed.
There were a few more sweeps of the wand: makeup and flowers and then…
“Aren’t you ready yet?” Arthur, trailed by an apologetic-looking Savannah came out of the chapel. He was toting a clipboard and looking very stern.
Sophy smiled proudly at Steph. “Yes.” She said with a nod of satisfaction. “We’re finally ready.”
Arthur and Savannah went back inside. A second later, the strains of a small organ filled the air.
Still, Sophy and Tina lingered.
“What are we waiting for?” Stephanie asked.
Tina gestured toward the door. “Your dad.”
“My dad?” Her face turned white with horror.
“Well, not your real dad.” Tina assured her.
“I’ll do in a pinch, eh luv?”
Stephanie jumped at the sound of Terry’s voice close behind her head.
“Sorry we’re late.” He said to Tina and Sophy. A few steps behind him Kaz was rushing into the church. “Had a bit of a delay…” He returned his attention to Stephanie. “Well, are you ready?”
“I guess so.”
Tina laughed. “You aren’t allowed to be nervous this time…You’ve already had one wedding today!”
Sophy snorted. “Such as it was….but still….”
The organ music changed to Air in G and the sorceress’s expression became all-business. She turned to Tina. “That’s our cue.”
Stephanie watched as they walked slowly into the building, then she felt Terry’s arm loop through hers. “You’re beautiful.” He whispered in encouragement….and then they went inside.
This is how it was always supposed to be. Stephanie thought as they entered. Her eyes skimmed over the faces: Aurore and Bud, Mannie and NormaJean, Roberta and Cort, Maximus and Laura, even Hando was sulking in the back row, Trisha and Stef on either side with smiles that hinted at the knives and/or firearms they must be holding somewhere in the vicinity of his lap to keep him in place. Chelle and Colin, Zach and Buggy, Jennifer and Andy, Kath and East, and Tawny were sitting on the left. Sid was missing- a thought that Stephanie didn’t allow herself to dwell on, but Johnny and Jack Corbett were there. Lisa and Lachlan, arm in arm (and not paying too much attention to Avery) were seated on the right. Jeff and Rick, and the new Jeff were there. John was at the front, next to Avery, waiting to escort Tina back down the aisle when they left. Evelyne was playing the organ, and Steve was snapping pictures with what seemed like every step. Donna….Una….the bride’s eyes swept over some of the newer faces, touched that they had made time to attend. Even Ilaria and Massimo were there- confirming Stephanie’s suspicion (if her friends had been alerted to come all the way from Italy) that she was experiencing the fruits of a well-laid, and long-settled plan. Stephanie felt like she was lost inside a lovely dream….but it wasn’t a dream. The warmth of Anthony hand as he led her forward to the altar was real, and his eyes…
Stephanie had been looking everywhere but her husband’s face. When she finally did, she felt tears well up in her eyes. How could she ever have doubted that- baby or not- this was what Anthony really wanted. The look of pure adoration that suffused his face said more than a lifetime of words ever could.
I just hope I’m worth it… She whispered, then tightened her hand over his own.
She barely heard the words of the priest….priest? Stephanie arched her eyebrow…now how had Sophy managed that? Oh well, better not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Smiling through her tears, she repeated her vows, then listened as Anthony said his own.
The priest made the final blessing,, raised his hands. “I now pronounce you man and wife. What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” He turned to Anthony. “And now, you may kiss your bride.”
Anthony’s lips moved deliberately against her own, sealing his vows with all the warmth and tenderness that he could translate into a kiss. They were both short of breath when he finally moved away.
“Well, it’s official now…” The doctor whispered, squeezing his new bride’s hand as they turned to greet the crowd.
Stephanie shook her head. “It was official before….” She ran her fingertip over the smooth gold of his ring. “You made it perfect.”