Leo’s therapy ended without incident. Despite that, he stayed withdrawn, refusing to see anyone. Aria cautioned everyone that asked not to take it personally. “He’s got something that’s very important to him. He knows you all care, and he cares too, but he has to do this.”
Weeks turned into months.
One day, a select group of people received invitations to the Twilight Glade, once home to the Menagerie. The time and date had been carefully chosen to make room for everyone’s schedules. And everyone who saw the invitation knew they had to show up.
The wedding of Leo Snow and Aria Newman was a quiet affair, in spite of how many people had shown up.
The bride was dressed elegantly, and carried herself with poise and grace. Her dress was holographic, custom-created by herself and her sister, and flowed and glowed in ways impossible for a material garment. The groom looked only somewhat out of place in a tuxedo and a very recent haircut.
Otto Newman served as best man. Summer filled in as maid of honor. Aria didn’t choose any other bridesmaids, uncertain at first about attendance, but discovered later to her surprise and pleasure that several girls in her social orbit would have been happy to serve.
The question of a religious vs. secular ceremony had finally been settled. Aria felt that the Grove itself lent sufficient sanctity to the proceedings.
Who, then, to officiate? Someone had jokingly suggested Daphne Palin, the only priestess they knew, but Summer had gently pointed out that Daph didn’t seem interested in the office, and maybe it was better to respect that feeling.
They settled for the person they felt could supply the appropriate dignity and gravitas: Charlotte Palmer. And she had accepted.
The pair had written their own vows, and exchanged them when ready.
Leo went first. It was clear he still spoke with difficulty, even after therapy, but Aria’s hand around his, and her encouraging smile, gave him strength. “Aria Newman. I vow to love, and respect, and cherish you. I vow never to give up on the man you know I can be. I vow to nurture the connection we have, however it keeps changing.”
Aria’s was longer, and just as heartfelt. “Leo Snow. I’ve known you my whole life. You’ve been everything to me in that time. I want you to keep being my everything. I want to stay with you as we both grow and change. I want to discover what we become together. I vow to share, to care, to be there, whenever and for whatever you need. I vow to keep you safe, to bring you joy, to share your sorrow, today and tomorrow and tomorrow.”
The phrase “for as long as we both shall live” was absent in both cases. This marriage was a new thing - a mortal man and immortal woman - so who could say what the future would hold?
The remaining Menagerie members applauded at the appropriate moments. The other guests didn’t appreciate as fully what it had taken to get to this point, but the pair looked happy, so why not?
Alycia didn’t handle it well when Summer really started crying, but Jason was on hand to help her regain her poise.
Maury Jones was on hand to take photos and video. There would be no public website for the ceremony, but the footage would be available to attendees.
The Grove took care of the reception’s food supply. With no catering needed, there were just speeches to make, and dancing to do.
All of the Newman clan had something to say. Otto’s was about the time he was “born” - his first meeting with Leo - and how it felt when it was his turn to see Pneuma emerge.
“We ain’t father and mother, son and daughter,” he concluded. “Not brother, not sister either. I dunno if there’s words for what we are, not yet. But between us, no words are needed. And for everyone who isn’t one of us, but who have been with us through trying times, I don’t know that there’s words enough to say how grateful each and every one of us are to you.”
Summer kept her comments short. “I just want to say how thankful I am, to Leo and Aria both, who in their own ways gave me a life and let me lead it. I have been so blessed. And I want to say how blessed I am to be a part of their lives in return. Our time together hasn’t all been cheerful or easy. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I look forward to the future, whatever ups and downs it has in store for us.”
Aria, who had switched off her gown for a more practical (and material) outfit underneath, had another announcement near the end. “We’re having a gathering for the Newmen at the Garage after this. It’s very important to us that you all attend. Jason and Alycia, we’d appreciate it if you’d come along too.”
Leo only had one short addition. “Hey, uh, just in case the invitation wasn’t clear, I’m taking Aria’s name. Leo Newman. I gave her a name originally, and she’s giving me one in return. Seems fair.”
There was more dancing, and chatting, and food. The guests departed, in ones and twos. And the Newmen went, however they were able, to see what the newly married couple had in store.