What they do not often tell you is that even in the Church, the ring of marriage is symbolic of the collar of slavery. Ask any priest who is not the mouthpiece of his superiors, and at an unguarded moment they will tell you this is so. Of course, some clever fellow thought it much better if they could tie that miniature symbol of alleged sentiment and assured servitude to some ‘ancient legend.’ The whole idea that the ring finger was believed by the Ancient Egyptians or Babylonians to be tied directly in a line to the heart is a complete lie. It most definitely was no such thing. Ancient Egyptian weddings were and still are civil affairs that have nothing to do with religion, or the heart. They were more apt to exchange goats and jars of beer than little bands of jewellery to be placed on the hand of one’s betrothed.
A Fae sovereign can marry but once. But I have been affianced to two men in my lifetime. Each of them one-time brother to the other, then turned bitterest enemy. I have no time to go into the complexities of all of that now. I am sure I have spoken of it before and probably will yet again, but know that the man whom I did marry held my heart more completely than any man has before or since. But to answer the inevitable question, yes, I have a wedding ring. Though it is not some simple band of gold fashioned into a miniature slave collar.
It was Yuletide, after the first night that Sebastien and I were ever together, after our having waited literal years. In that night I was willing to give him myself, all of me. And I did so without reservation, without recrimination. What I got in return was a man who would give himself to me for a lifetime – and beyond.
I pulled myself to sit up in the bed, still nestled under the thick comforter that he must have placed upon me. Not seeing him anywhere, I glanced down at a small round table that was near the bedside, On it rested the surface of the cherrywood chessboard that we had left the night before in the library beside the fire. This morning, however, there were only two pieces bound together with a white satin bow. The Chinosoire ivory queen stood upright and proud, and at her feet laying on it’s side was the black ebony Knight. Caught within the bow was a sprig of mistletoe punctuated with the waxy white berries. Entwined within those leafy branches was a ring. It was a ring that I well-recognized from the portrait that had hung above a stairway of a distant chateaux that was a day’s ride from my own. I had seen that elaborate jewel upon the finger of Joselyn Ysabetta De la Montagne, the Comptesse de Rochefort; Sebastien’s mother.
The emerald was exquisite, surrounded by diamonds and other emeralds that went down either side of the ring’s shank. The significance of both his mother’s wedding ring and the mistletoe together were clear. Sebastien did not merely wish for me to be the lover I had become the night before or merely to become his Mistress at Court, of which he had several over the years since his wife’s death. This was a gift bestowed only to a woman that he would have wished to be his wife. It was then that the door opened and Sebastien came through it.
I swallowed hard and a small almost disbelieving smile touched the corner of my mouth, “I thought you had gone.” I glanced back down at the ring and back up at the Comte de Rochefort. “Is this what I think it is?” I asked, ” Are you asking…”
He took a few steps closer toward the chessboard, pulling his hat off to rest it on a chair near the fireplace as he dusted the snow off the feather.
“I was gone. However, as you can see, I have returned. And Of course it is what you think it is. It’s a pretty little stone in a cold band of metal. What else could it be? A vegetable? I think not, for all it’s deep green color.”
His voice was light, droll. And though his face was slightly turned, he watched for my response carefully out of the corner of his one good eye.
“I have seen this ring, ” I replied, my eyes not leaving his, “I saw it in the portrait of your mother at le Chateau de Rochefort.” I considered my next words carefully, realizing he had not answered my most important question. I decided to reframe the question instead. “How am I to think about this? Why do you give me your mother’s wedding ring?”
“How are you to think? With your brain, mademoiselle,” he retorted with a smirk,” and perhaps with your heart as well.”
He shrugged out of his long coat, draping it over the back of the chair and began pulling his gloves off, one finger at a time as he warmed up near the fireplace. “Why?” he murmured after a few moments more of silence, “I am asking you whether the damned thing fits, or whether we will have to get it sized before the banns are read. Truly woman, I did not realize that you became foolish if left to sleep too long into the day. Next time I see I shall have to keep you awake, or let you go to sleep earlier in the evening.”
Gloves off, he turned to face me, standing at the foot of the bed and leaning his arm against the tall, carved mahogany bed post. “Which shall it be? Should I flip a coin perhaps? Let me think… ” he feigned a long ponder, “let my wife sleep the part of the night and all the day away to get her beauty rest?” His voice softened slightly, losing it’s gruff, aristocratic tone. “Or do I keep you awake all night long, for I know in my heart that there is no woman in all this world more beautiful than you are right now?”
My heart caught and my eyes flew up to his.
With trembling fingers I handed the ring back to him, and for a moment, I think he might have thought that I was refusing him. “Will you not at least place it upon my finger yourself then to see if it fits?” I quirked an eyebrow, a slight smile nudging my lips. “and if you were to keep me awake forevermore, I promise you that I shall not complain – even unto becoming your wife,” I said.
He took the ring, tilting it so that the sunlight was captured in the emerald, reflecting in flashes and causing the stone to nearly glow with colour. And though his hands were gentle, his sigh was audible, as if the effort caused him to be both long-suffering and patient. “Ah, oui. Fine, fine, I shall do this thing, since you ask so very nicely, and you are such a lovely shade of pink this morning. Is it the sunlight that raises the blood to your cheeks, Faelyn?”
Bowing over my outstretched hand, Sebastien slipped the ring on my finger with a tenderness that belied his ever-present, arrogant attitude. “I fear it to be a bit loose, but perhaps/…. ahhh, see?” he smiled, satisfied, ” It fits. Now, do you wish it or not?” The man in black gave a slight smirk, his one eye meeting mine.”Of course, you do understand that this comes with certain conditions, oui? For instance,” He raised my hand up and pressed his lips to the skin just before my knuckles. “It is a package deal, the ring and I.”
Of course I wanted it, but more than that, I had wanted him. My answer was to throw my arms around him. The melting snow in his hair fell onto my naked skin, causing droplets of chilled water to fall along my shoulders and arms as he held me close.
Later, on the Fortunate Island, at the eve of the Rites of the Beltane Fires, we were wed. But the ring was not the collar of slavery for either of us. It was just a small symbol, a token of one man’s love passed on to his wife, and to then from the father to his son to give bestow when he at last took a wife. I myself wonder if my daughter will ever know such a gift, which is not so much a collar of slavery for either party, but a symbol of the legacy of something else that is far greater. I can only hope that one day she might.
Muse: Fanny Fae / Faelyn
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore / Mythology
Word Count: 1475
Special thanks go to the amazing mun of all_forme for her most generous indulgence and use of her muse.