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Maren walked arm-in-arm with her father, clutching her bouquet with a duratanium grip to keep her hands from shaking. She was keenly aware that she was the absolute center of attention – a quantum singularity drifting slowly down the aisle.

Her sisters and Rachel had done a remarkable job transforming her from a ponytailed engineering prodigy into a bride.  Her dress was a work of art, a sheath of lace featuring the same fractal patterns Icheb had engraved on her engagement ring, with a chiffon train like a comet’s tail.  Her fine blond hair was pulled into a sleek modern updo, while a dusting of pearlescent powder at her cheeks and temples gave her an ethereal glow. She had barely recognized herself in the mirror when she saw an elegant young woman instead of an awkward, scrawny girl.

She filtered out the smiles and awed looks on the faces of their friends and family and kept her eyes on Icheb.  As long as she remembered why she was here, she’d be okay.

At the front of the church, she locked eyes with him and smiled.  His usual unflappable calm was mostly on display, but the pink flush to his cheeks and ears betrayed him – he was just as excited as she was. They had always been able to talk to each other with just a look. Now, they launched into silent conversation.  As Father Henry made his opening remarks, she was so absorbed in their shared thoughts that she almost missed it when he asked, “Who gives this woman to be married here today?” 

“I do,” her father said, snapping her out of her trance.  The look on his face broke her heart – he was so happy for her, yet there was a pain in his eyes that she knew she had caused, just by growing up.

She turned and kissed him on the cheek.  “I love you, Daddy,” she whispered in his ear, before stepping up to take her place beside Icheb.

The ceremony was beautiful, but it felt neverending to Maren.   Finally, the time arrived to say “I do.”

Icheb wasn’t Catholic, which meant no Mass.  But since Maren still wanted to be married in the Church, they had to use traditional vows.  Truth be told, they didn’t mind.  The ancient words appealed to both Icheb’s love of Terran classicism and Maren’s respect for family tradition.  They felt strange and wonderful on her tongue as she promised:

"I, Maren, take you, Icheb, as my husband ... to have and to hold from this day forward ... for better, for worse ... for richer, for poorer ... in sickness and health, until death do us part."

Icheb said the same thing back to her, and it was finished.

“By the power vested in me by God and the United Federation of Planets, I pronounce you husband and wife,” Father Henry said, as their friends and family cheered.  At long last, he turned to Icheb. 

“You may now kiss your bride.”



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