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Breath of Life

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The Fold had never looked so grand before. All of he Shepherds had spent every hour the day before the wedding preparing. They set out the tables and chairs, strung the lights, hung the flowers, set the stage, and many more tasks. The more restless members of other guilds helped where they could, but they were for the most part politely asked to leave the work to the hosts.

In her room, Tailor was making last minute alterations to Fleece's dress. The most difficult part of the entire outfit was the sash that depicted Fleece's life. With all the gems used and the heavier fabric she had chosen, the sash made it difficult to walk, but there was no time to make a new one. With Patch's aid, the two tried many techniques to make the sash more manageable, but they were finding it difficult.

"I may have to stitch it to the dress once you're in it for good," Tailor finally declared in defeat. "I shouldn't have used so many gems."

"I think it's quite alright," Fleece replied. "I can manage. It isn't much of a walk, and I can get help walking over to the veranda. I will just take my time."

"Of course. I think I can take a little off the end, though." Tailor lifted the sash and measured out how much she could take off of each end before cutting off about six inches from each side and re-hemming it. Each stitch was made with extreme concentration and focus Fleece actually thought Tailor's head might explode if something broke her concentration.

Once the sash was done, Fleece found it noticeably easier to move. She wasn't sure how a single foot less of fabric could make such a difference, but it did.

"What do you think?" Tailor asked, moving out of the mirror's line of sight so Fleece could admire herself.

"It's beautiful," Fleece replied, checking every angle she could, her eyes lit up with joy and her mouth slightly agape in awe. "I've never seen something so elegant before."

"Shepherds need clothes made for durability and work in the fields instead of elegance," Tailor explained. "I hardly need to tell you that, though, you know it yourself. The more elegant garments are used mostly by the artsy guilds. But, that makes these moments even more special."

Fleece nodded her agreement. Having such a beautiful piece of art created for her, someone who wore plain work clothes, made the moment even more magnificent.

"Fleece," an older shepherd called, opening the door to the room, "they're ready for you."

"Will you need us for anything else?" Tailor asked. When Fleece shook her head, the seamstress excused herself and her apprentice to go and join the rest of the guests. They had done all they could. The rest was up to Fate.

Tailor and Patch quickly found their places at the front of the venue. She was seated next to Bobbin, who was wearing his own embroidered sash, a sign of prestige among the Weavers.

They didn't have time to exchange greetings before the music began playing and everyone stood to face the aisle. This was it. The moment everyone had been waiting for.

Fleece stood at the end of the aisle, all of the gems shimmering brilliantly in the rising sun. She looked stunning. There really was no other word to describe her in that moment. Her movements were graceful, so completely unlike the image of the shepherds, who were constantly chasing sheep and chasing predators away from them. She walked with an elegance unseen from a shepherd, but it felt so right on a woman as beautiful as her.

Bobbin stole a glance at Rusty and had to force himself not to laugh. The smith was so smitten his mouth had fallen agape as he watched his soon-to-be wife walk toward him. No doubt he'd never seen such a work of art before. Admittedly, it was hard to find Fleece without dirt on her face and twigs in her hair, covered in sheep's wool, but never had that meant she looked ugly. No, this polished Fleece was simply more stunning than she usually was.

When he could see his friend made no attempt to make himself more presentable, Bobbin nudged him and motioned for him to shut his mouth. It was embarrassing, and Rusty was glad no one was watching him. He quickly closed his mouth and straightened up.

When Fleece finally made it to the stage at the front and stood with her soon-to-be husband, the new elder of the guild of clerics, Bishop Peter, began to speak. "Gathered friends," he boomed, "we come to witness the birth of a new beginning to two people who are prepared to begin a new life together. Together, they have faced many foes, many hardships, many friends, and many happinesses. And together they shall face even more foes, hardships, friends, and happinesses. No longer will their lives be two separate lives, but one combined life. You may now speak the words."

Fleece and Rusty put their hands together, one on top of the other, and began to speak.

"From now until the end of time, we are one." As they spoke, Bishop Peter wrapped their hands in a white silk ribbon with the markings of the Clerics. "From now until the end of time, we will be together. I am yours, and you are mine. Forevermore, we are bound to and in our bodies, hearts, and spirits."

"By the power given to me by the gods, I pronounce you husband and wife," Bishop Peter declared. Everyone clapped as Rusty and Fleece kissed before they turned to the crowd and walked down the aisle, hands still bound by the ribbon. Once they had made it down the aisle, everyone followed them, some of the others helping carry Fleece's skirt.

Bobbin and Tailor walked silently together behind the rest of the crowd. They admired everything around them, from the decorations to how the trees looked in the afternoon light, to how the sheep grazed the field away from the festivities. Together, they admired how perfect the day was.

"It almost feels as if something bad is about to happen," Tailor commented after a time. Sadly, Bobbin nodded his head. "It goes to show just how far we have to go before we feel comfortable again."

"Sadly," Bobbin agreed. "That time feels so long ago, and yet, it feels like it hasn't yet ended. I still find myself waking from nightmares where all I see are her eyes, or the dead bodies of my loved ones around me, or worse."

"I'll never forget Chaos," Tailor softly declared. "She almost took Patch from me. Every night I dream that I wasn't able to save her, and I cradle her dead body in my arms. It was hard enough losing her parents years ago, I can't stand the thought of losing her, too."

Bobbin placed a hand on her shoulder, a gesture of understanding. Taking deep breaths, they placed smiles on their faces and returned to the party, where Fleece and Rusty were having their first dance as husband and wife. Fleece had removed the sash and was no able to move freely, as well as let her skirt sway in the wind.

It was the first time Bobbin had seen Tailor act distant and unhappy. He held out a hand to her as everyone started piling onto the dance floor. She raised an eyebrow at him, but took his hand and allowed herself to be pulled onto the dance floor. He twirled her around and then pulled her close like all of the other pairs.

"You've been oddly quite today," he said, placing his hand hesitantly on her hip.

"Have I?" she asked. "I hadn't noticed."

"Are you feeling alright?"

"Just a bit...reminiscent." She cast her gaze over to Patch, who was dancing in a group with the other apprentices. She was laughing and clapping her hands before linking arms with the others and spinning around.

"She's more than just your apprentice, isn't she?" Bobbin asked.

"She's like my daughter," Tailor replied. "I took her in after her parents died of the plague. I promised them I would care for her if anything happened to them, and then they were gone. She was so little she doesn't even remember them, not really. It was hard, taking care of her, but I've done my best."

She smiled softly over at her, but it fell quickly. "I was an apprentice then. That was six years ago."

Bobbin was in shock. She adopted a child when she was only thirteen years old.

The song ended and everyone started clapping. Tailor and Bobbin joined in, the two of them unable to keep from laughing as they did. Bobbin admired her smile and when the next song started, they danced together again.

In the middle of the dance floor, Fleece motioned for Rusty to look and they both smiled when they saw their friend looking happy. "Looks like he got chummy with her pretty quickly," Rusty commented with a large smirk on his face.

"He deserves to be happy," Fleece replied.

"And so do we," Rusty replied and kissed her. She giggled and allowed her husband to dip her down.

With each song, Tailor became a little more like the outgoing Tailor Bobbin knew. By the time the sun set, the pair had not only danced to basically every song, but they had also drunk quite a bit of wine, courtesy of Master Vin, who incidentally was the one refilling their cups.

This led to the two of them being pretty tipsy. They sat at a secluded table and talked, a little louder than usual, but no one paid them any mind. Everyone was having a great time talking to their own little groups of people.

Once the sun had finally set and the lights were turned on, Patch wandered over to the pair and pouted at Tailor. Immediately, Tailor snapped into mom mode and was asking her a million questions.

"I don't feel good," Patch told her. "I think I ate too much."

"Oh, my poor baby," Tailor replied. Patch scrunched up her face when Tailor pulled her into a tight hug and petted her hair like a kitten. They moved to go back to their room for the night, so Bobbin stood to walk with them.

"You don't have to come," Tailor said.

"It's fine," he replied, "it's getting late and I'm getting tired. I'll walk back with you two."

Tailor nodded and wrapped her arm around Patch's shoulders protectively. The walk to their residence was quiet, save for Tailor's occasional cooing. Once they got there, Bobbin said goodnight to Tailor and Patch before going to his own room. Once in his own, he collapsed on his bed and fell asleep instantly.