The Time of My Life
I could feel my heart race and pound in my chest. I could hear the murmured voices of my family and hers as we were crammed inside the shrine. Though it was supposed to be a small ceremony for just families, it was my family that took up the most room within the shrine. The Kobiru main branch was a large bunch of people. We always overcrowded our welcome, but I wouldn't want it any other way. After all, today was focused on family and the uniting of two major clans of the village. At my sister's wedding, we had the same problem, but with our eldest brother in charge, no one had a complaint.
I chuckled at the thought of my oldest brother. Hade was an interesting person. He was a giant teddy bear and a diva at the same time. However, he knew when it was someone else's turn to play the center of attention. He wanted the best for us siblings and knew that this was my day.
I didn't think it was my day. I mean, it was going to be one of the biggest days of my life, but it wasn't my day. This day was dedicated to my blushing bride. I could picture her already in my head. Her chestnut brown curls cascaded over her shoulders and framing her face. Those intoxicating chocolate eyes staring into my own gold ones as they had a way of capturing my every cell of attention. Her lips carefully spread out in a soft and gentle smile, revealing pearly white teeth. With that face in my thoughts, I was fearless. I could step aside and let her take the spotlight. This was the day for her to show off her beauty to everyone. I wanted everyone to see the woman that would become mine and in turn, I'd be hers.
“Getting cold feet?”
I turned around to see my grinning groomsman. My only groomsman. My best man. “Baka, why do you think I'd get cold feet?” I chuckled as I looked at my brother's face. I knew he was playing around, but I hated that he'd joke about something like that.
I loved Kan. I would never want to leave her.
“Just kidding,” Hikaru chuckled. “I know you'd never get cold feet.”
I nodded at that. Finally, he got it. Why leave now? This was the start of my new life. This was going to be the time of my life. “Although...I'm about ready to go find her...We've been standing around forever...” I muttered under my breath, just voicing a thought.
“Relax, Raiden...She'll come.” Hikaru gave me a reassuring smile, though some people might think that it was a mischievous smile. I knew it as a comforting smile.
I nodded. “Right...She'll come.” I took a deep breath to calm myself down. I could feel my heart beat a bit rapidly in my chest. Maybe I was a bit nervous. I didn't want to mess up. What if I forgot what I wanted to say? What if I accidentally spilled sake on Kan's kimono? I would embarrass her for sure...
I closed my eyes as I let my ears listen to the sounds all around the shrine. We had decided upon the Kinsen shrine or otherwise known as the Heartstrings shrine. The alter was over top of a small lake where strands of string were strung tightly. There was a natural waterfall that flooded through the open wall behind me. When the water hit the strings, notes would play which would cause the room to hum and echo in all sorts of natural songs. It was a beautiful shrine. Not many people visited it and so it was no problem to hold the ceremony here. As I stood there, I concentrated on the notes that were being played by the waterfall. It was an endless song and for a moment, I thought I could hear our song playing. I smiled at the thought.
And as I started to lose myself in the natural music, I could hear whispers start to bubble up and out of the overtones playing around me. I opened my eyes and smiled softly. There, at the end of the aisle, was my beautiful bride. She wore the traditional dressings of her clan and though she was covered in white, silver, and pink, I could still see my Kan underneath it all. I took in a deep breath as I gazed out at her. I would never forget the sight. She was fearless.
“Ready?” Hikaru's voice whispered behind me as he had also taken notice of the bride.
“Ready,” I nodded and smiled, waiting for her to start her journey towards me.
The natural music continued to play thanks to the waterfall. It was joined by “oo”s and “ah”s of the crowded family. I could hear Hade blubbering as he watched Kan make her way down the aisle towards the alter. I could also hear the soft whisperings of my sisters as they all admired Kan's dress and noted at how beautiful she looked.
My eyes never left her.
I could see that fiery woman from the Academy before me. I remembered the day Hikaru and I ruined her classroom. I had gone back to the Academy after finally moving in with my clan, and I brought Hikaru along with me to make me feel better. I never would have thought that I'd be marrying my sensei nearly three years later. I couldn't believe it had been three years. It felt like I'd known her an entire lifetime. I tried to think back to when we first met. Perhaps we crossed paths at a Kobiru festivity or a Byakko festivity considering the two clans were so close, but obviously, it was that fated day in the Academy that would remain the first day I met Kanmuri Byakko.
I never thought I would marry Kan to be honest. At first, I saw her as I saw any woman. She was cute and fun to tease, though she had a temper that could tame anyone. When we grew closer as friends, I still didn't see us together, but fate had decided to push us closer together. She had slowly turned into one of my best friends; however, it wasn't until she hit her lowest point that I had realized it. I had fallen for this woman, and I had fallen hard. Seeing her devastated was like my own heart being ripped from my chest. I didn't want her to suffer anymore, and I knew she didn't want to give up. When nearly no one could see her, I was the only one who saw her. Night and day. I was there. Now, I would always be there. Nothing would hurt her again. I'll make sure of that.
A smile spread across my face as she got closer and closer to me. I could feel my heart reach out to hers as it called her name with each thump. Taking in a deep breath, I slowly began to lift my hand out to take hers. I wasn't sure if it was customary or not, but I didn't care. I wanted to hold her hand and feel that this was real.
Taking her hand in mine, I gave it a light squeezed and smiled. This felt right. This was comforting. “Hey...” I mouthed to her as everyone started to quiet down.
“Hey...” She mouthed back, smiling. Her smile could take my breath away.
The Head Priest Joshua started speaking, beginning the ceremony. I registered what he was saying, but I wasn't necessarily paying attention. I couldn't keep my eyes off of my bride. I traced every plane of her face as I stared at her. I was happy to see that she still resembled my Kan and not something so...fake like most traditional brides tended to look. Besides, her natural creamy skin was enough. She didn't need to wear that ghostly white make up.
Someone cleared their throat.
I looked over Kan's shoulder and saw Eimi, our Mikokage, giving me a look as her eyes darted to Joshua beside me. Blinking, I looked over at him and he repeated the last line. Right! Our vows...Well, here it goes...
Clearing my throat, I took both of Kan's hands and smiled at her. I am normally a charismatic person—always knowing what to say—but this time I was at a loss for words. “Wow...” I breathed after a moment of silence. I could hear a few chuckles from my side of the shrine and blushed a bit, embarrassed. “I mean...wow...” I smiled wide at her. “I've been waiting for my dreams to turn into something I could believe in...and now I'm coming alive, body and soul, feeling my world start to turn.” I took in a deep breath. “I know it's turning for the good as I look at you everyday. When I see you, I know everything will turn out right. I'll lie...cheat...beg...and bribe just to make you well. I'll be there to catch you and put you on your feet because I know you'll do the same for me.” I smiled at her. A single tear ran down her cheek as she smiled back, causing my heart to swell. “When enemies are at your door, I'll carry you away from war if you need help. Your hope dangling by a string?” I shook my head. “I'll share in your suffering...to make you well.” I breathed, my hands tightening around hers. “You're my back bone. You're my cornerstone. You're my crutch when my legs stop moving. You're my head start. You're my rugged heart. You're the pulse that I've always needed. Like a drum, my heart never stops beating for you.”
The waterfall continued to make music in the echoing chamber of the shrine. I could hear everyone's breathing as they all took in my words. They all thought that they were beautiful words that could never be duplicated. But Kan knew the truth. It was our song. I saw another tear roll down her cheek as her smile widened. That song was precious to us. After I was able to get my words right, though with the help of our song, everything seemed to clear up.
Then it was her turn. I could hear everyone fall silent again as Kan cleared her throat quietly. Her voice wavered a bit and I could tell she was struggling through her tears. I smiled at her and listened. Her voice was soft and I felt as if I had to lean in to listen to her words, but at the same time, I didn't need to listen. I knew the words she was speaking before she spoke. Kan and I would constantly tell the other just how much they meant to them. I already knew how much I meant to her. I could feel it in her gaze, her smile, and in her voice. With each word she spoke, I could hear a preciousness that only she could possess. I knew I was her life line just as much as she was to me. I gave her hands a light squeeze as I could feel my heart swell and soar with her words. Nothing was more valuable than those words.
After we had done our personal vows, we recited the vows of both clans and performed the sake ritual as well. Joshua performed the purification ritual for the both of us before we lit candles and prayed to the spirits. It was as if I could do anything. Knowing Kan was by my side, I was ready to take on the world. I slipped the wedding ring on Kan's finger and smiled, watching the silver slide up her slender finger, resting against my mother's ring. It was the perfect fit. Nothing could ruin this day.
“Now, under the spirits, I pronounce you man and wife.” Joshua announced, his voice echoing over top of the waterfall's music. “You may kiss the bride.”
Taking Kan's hands again, we faced each other. I smiled and she smiled. Her smile could melt my heart in the toughest of snow storms. As I was leaning in to kiss her, I felt something cold flutter in through the open wall. Pulling back, I blinked as I looked around. Everyone started to gasp as snow filtered in through the open wall of the shrine. I looked back at Kan and chuckled.
She chuckled with me.
It was perfect. Snow was a blessing...at least to us.
I leaned back in and smirked. “I love you, Mrs. Kanmuri Yuki.”
“And I love you, Mr. Raiden Byakko.” She smirked back before leaning the rest of the way in to interlock our lips together.
This was the time of our lives.