Flame walked into the massive sanctuary and immediately drew the attention of the few thousand Gardevoirs, Kirlia, Ralts as well as a few dozen other Gallades. Flame slowly walked down the aisle with Sage right behind him. The onlookers stared at Flame as he walked past them, admiring his wedding attire. Flame glanced about the giant room. He noticed that every married Gardevoir and Gallade were in their wedding dresses and sitting next to their mates. Most importantly, he saw that no other Gallade or male Gardevoir was nearly as decorated as he was. Also, in the back left corner of the room, there was a small orchestra of Gardevoirs playing fine instruments: soft music filled the air. Up ahead, Aero was sitting in an ornate, dark oak chair behind the pulpit also in his simple, white wedding attire. Sunlight poured through the large, colorful windows lining the walls on the sanctuary. Aero nodded appreciatively as Flame walked up to the altar. Sage stood behind Flame on his left as Aero faced Flame. Kage and Richard sat in the front right row of the pews. Sure enough, Richard’s wife, Celeste was at his side. Ice and Tim had recovered fully and were sitting in the right front row towards Flame’s left. They were very eager to bear witness to the wedding of the Protectors. Flame continued to gaze at the large crowd.
“I see you’ve noticed,” said Aero, “No other married Gallade or male Gardevoir is dressed nearly as splendidly as you are. Do you know why this is so?” Flame shrugged.
“Your fabulous wedding dress sets you apart and denotes your importance. Not just as a very honorable Gallade, but as a Protector,” explained Aero, “Plus, the fact that there has never been a wedding for the Protectors. They were always married well before they accepted their duties. This truly is a once in a lifetime experience: no one in this entire city have even seen the Protector couple get married. Thus, Elegon, Blizz and I wanted to make sure that you and Serene would really stand out on your wedding day.”
“I see,” said Flame with excitement, “And I suppose that Serene is going to be even more decorated than me?” Aero nodded his head.
“Indeed,” said Aero with a smile, “You seem ready, but I must counsel you: if you feel any doubt about this, then you should not marry Serene.”
“I’m ready,” said Flame with great determination and confidence. Aero smiled at the young Protector.
“This will indeed be a day to remember,” remarked Aero, “And I’d say it is time to begin.” Aero faced the orchestra in the back corner and they stopped playing their tune. Moments later, the Gardevoir musicians started to play a soft, slow melody as the back center doors on the sanctuary opened up. Blizz slowly walked down the aisle with a bouquet of white roses in her hands. Shawn followed close behind with the rings in tow. They eventually stepped up onto the dais and stood at the left of the pulpit. Aero and Blizz glanced at each other and smiled, admiring each other. Aero and Blizz soon returned their attention to the aisle as Lily walked towards the altar, scattering red rose petals as she went. The congregation watched closely as she walked along, admiring her fluffy, pink dress. Lily had a bright smile on her face as she stepped up towards the pulpit and stood next to Shawn on his right as the back doors were closed. Aero glanced at Flame as he stood still, anxiously awaiting the arrival of his bride.
“As you can see,” whispered Elegon, “We’ve adopted many wedding traditions from the humans and they have…shall we say…‘Borrowed’ some of ours.” The congregation stood up and faced the back doors. The musicians finished their song and the whole room became very silent. Only the breathing from the massive congregation could be heard as Flame gazed at the doors with great anticipation. The orchestra started to play the wedding march as the doors opened wide. The congregation gasped and Flame almost fainted when he laid eyes on his bride for the first time. Elegon was slowly leading Serene down the aisle: Flame was astounded at his gorgeous bride. Her wedding dress shimmered and sparkled brightly in the light. Thousands of sparkling diamonds covered her dress with several large blue diamonds accenting fine patterns all over the bodice, the puffed long sleeves and full skirt. A large white bow at the back of her dress, just above Serene’s skirt bobbed with each step she took. Every time she took a step, Flame could hear the soft rustling of the tulle petticoats under Serene’s skirt. Her long, white, lace veil reached to the floor and dragged behind her on the ground, flowing as she walked towards the altar: Flame blushed deeply at this sight. Serene’s jewelry, made out of gold white diamonds and deep blue diamonds sparkled with bright luster from the morning sunlight. She also carried a bouquet of red and white roses. Serene was equally amazed at her mate-to-be. Flame’s own shimmering and sparkling wedding dress with its diamonds, dark blue sapphires and full skirt was a wonderful sight for the young bride. Flame smiled and blushed as Serene came ever closer. The young bride smiled brightly and blushed as well: it was a dream come true for the young Protectors. Just as Serene neared the altar, she and Elegon came to a stop as the Gardevoir musicians ended their song. Aero stood up and came towards the pulpit as Elegon unlinked arms with Serene. The beautiful, blushing bride stepped up onto the dais, towards her waiting groom. She then stood face to face with Flame as she handed Blizz her bouquet. The young lovers stared at each other as Flame reached forward and held Serene’s hands in his own.
“Wow…” whispered Flame, “Everyone wasn’t kidding when they said I was in for a wonderful surprise.” Serene smiled at Flame.
“Same here,” said Serene softly as she and Flame faced Aero. The old Gallade stepped up to the pulpit, facing the congregation.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here on this most joyous occasion to witness Flame and Serene, the Protectors, as they enter into holy wedlock,” said Aero loudly so all could hear him, “Before we begin, if anyone has any reason why these two should not be wed, than speak now or forever hold your peace.” The congregation was completely silent.
“Very well,” said Aero with a smile as he faced Flame and Serene: he spoke sternly “Flame and Serene, our grand Protectors, the vows you are about to make must not be taken lightly. Flame, much is expected of a husband. You must care for and protect your mate for the rest of your days. You are also the head of your household and must lead your family.”
“I understand,” said a determined Flame. Aero faced Serene.
“Likewise, Serene, much is expected of a wife,” said Aero, “You are to follow your mate in his leadership and obey him. You must also care for your mate for the rest of your days.”
“I understand,” said Serene.
“And, since you are the first Protector couple ever to be married after taking on your duties, I must remind you that it is up to the two of you to continue on the bloodline of the Protectors. Do you understand what this means?”
“Yes,” replied Flame.
“I do,” said Serene with a nod.
“Very good,” said Aero as he smiled once again, “With your acceptance of these duties, you may now exchange your vows.” Aero faced Flame.
“Flame, the Protector, do you take Serene to be your wedded mate, to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, in wealth or poverty, for better or worse, forsaking all others, ‘til death do you part?” asked Aero.
“I do!” said Flame with a bright smile, blushing as he stroked Serene’s hands with his thumbs.
“Serene,” said Aero as he faced Flame’s wondrous bride, “Do you take Flame to be your wedded mate, to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, in wealth or poverty, for better or worse, forsaking all others, ‘til death do you part?” asked Aero. Serene blushed as a single tear of joy streamed down her face.
“I do,” said Serene as she stared deep into Flame’s eyes. Aero faced Flame once again.
“Flame, do you have a ring for Serene?” asked Aero.
“I do,” said Flame, releasing his hold on Serene’s hands as Shawn walked up to the young Gallade. Flame smiled at the young Ralts as he knelt down and picked up one of the golden bands. Flame then faced his bride and held her right hand with the ring in his right hand.
“Repeat after me,” said Aero, “With this ring, I thee wed.” Flame smiled and blushed as he tenderly slid the ring onto Serene’s finger.
“With this ring, I thee wed,” said Flame as Serene smiled and giggled with delight.
“Serene, do you have a ring for Flame?” asked Aero. Serene nodded and smiled.
“Yes!” said Serene with great excitement as she too knelt down and picked up the last golden ring. She stood back up and held Flame’s left hand, grasping the ring in her right hand as Shawn stepped back beside Blizz.
“Repeat after me, Serene,” said Aero with happiness, “With this ring, I thee wed.” Serene smiled as she slowly slid the ring onto Flame’s finger.
“With this ring, I thee wed,” said Serene. The young lovers just gazed and held each other’s hands once the last ring was in place.
“With the acceptance of their duties and with the exchange of their vows and rings, by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you two…mates!” said Aero with triumph. Flame and Serene blushed deeply and smiled at each other, knowing they belonged to each other now.
“Flame, you may now kiss the bride,” said Aero. The lovers let go of each others hands and Flame stepped towards his bride. He wrapped his arms around her tightly, getting to feel the smooth gemstones and the soft fabric of her wedding dress for the first time. Serene embraced Flame, holding him close to her body. The lovers closed their eyes, cheers and applause erupted from the once silent congregation. Flame and Serene sighed with sheer delight as their lips touched. Their kiss was long and passionate: the sound of loud celebration filled the cathedral. Minutes later, Flame and Serene broke their kiss, slowly released each other from their embrace as they faced the large group of Gardevoirs, Gallades and their children. The cheers and applause continued, uninterrupted.
“And now, it is my honor to present to you all, for the first time, Flame and Serene, the Protectors, as husband and wife!” The orchestra played loud triumphal music as Blizz handed Serene her bouquet. The newlyweds held hands tightly as they walked down the aisle to the continuous, loud celebration of the delighted onlookers. Blizz, Lily and Shawn followed after the hopeful bride and groom as they slowly and eventually, walked down the aisle and out the back, center doors of the sanctuary. The orchestra soon stopped playing as Aero addressed the crowd.
“You are all welcome to join Flame and Serene with a grand banquet to celebrate this wonderful, wonderful day!” announced Aero. The entire congregation started to leave the massive sanctuary, one row at a time, proceeding to the back of the cathedral for the celebration of Flame and Serene’s marriage had only just begun.
By the time an hour had passed, everyone had gathered into the gigantic dinning room of the cathedral with plenty of room and extravagant food for all. As the musicians played more light and uplifting music, lunch was served uneventfully with wonderful delicacies in abundance. From what Flame and Serene could gather, nothing had been spared for the feast. The bride and groom faced the elders, sitting to their right.
“Elders, thank you very much,” said Flame with amazement, “For…everything.”
“Including your wedding dress?” asked Elegon with a grin. Flame glanced at Serene as she held his left hand and smiled at her new husband. Flame chuckled as he returned his gaze to Elegon.
“Yes. Even my dress,” said Flame with warm laughter.
“I’m glad you like it,” said Serene sweetly, “You look so wonderful in it.”
“And you look absolutely gorgeous,” said Flame tenderly.
“I knew you’d like it, sooner or later,” said Richard with a smile as he and Celeste walked by the table.
“Besides, it’s just for today, anyway,” said Flame.
“On the contrary!” said Elegon, “You must have forgotten, dear Protector. You and Serene shall wear your wedding attire during your honeymoon as a sign of celebration.”
“He is right,” said Blizz.
“Indeed,” said Aero with a smirk, “It is tradition.” Flame gazed at Serene as she continued to eat.
“Very well,” said Flame, “Just for you, Serene.” The young bride smiled, put down her silverware and promptly kissed Flame.
“Flame, my love, are you looking forward to having children one day?” asked Serene telepathically while she and Flame continued to kiss.
“Someday, yes, Serene. Someday…” was Flame’s telepathic reply. Aero wrapped his arm around Blizz and held her close.
“Doesn’t this bring back wonderful memories?” asked Aero, admiring his mates wedding dress and jewelry.
“Yes, my dear Aero. I’ll never forget the day we were married,” whispered Blizz as her gaze fell on Flame and Serene, “And neither will they.” Before long, it was time for dessert. A towering, 5 layer cake was brought before the newlyweds. It was covered with white, vanilla icing. A short sword was presented to Flame and Serene by Sage and Kage. Serene wrapped her hands around the handle.
“Wait,” said Flame.
“Is something wrong, honey?” asked Serene. Flame tenderly slid the sword out of Serene’s hands and set it down on the table.
“I have a better idea,” said Flame, smiling at Serene, “I could use the practice.” The young bride giggled.
“I think that’s a great idea,” said Serene with a nod. The lovers stood up as their eyes started to glow with a faint, blue light. A strange, blue aura surrounded the ornate sword as it lifted into the air. With a gentle motion, the sword sliced into the cake, cutting a small piece for Flame and Serene. The sword floated back onto the table, propelled by the newlyweds’ telekinetic power as the small piece of marble cake floated onto a nearby plate. They took their forks and each cut a small bite of cake. They took the pieces of cake up in their hands and then fed each other the bites of wedding cake, enjoying the wonderful flavor.
“It’s very good,” remarked Flame.
“I love chocolate and vanilla,” said Serene with delight, “This cake is perfect.” Eventually, the cake was served to the other guests. Sage then brought a pair of crystal goblets to Flame and Serene, filled with fine red wine. The lovers knew just what to do with these as they picked up the goblets, moved them towards each other and drank some of the sweet wine.
“Mmmm…” said Serene, savoring the refined drink, “Where did this come from?”
“I think it came from a place called…Gardev,” said Sage, “It was very hard to find.”
“Indeed,” said Aero, “For millennia, this wine has been served at weddings of both our kind and humans alike, but that is no longer the case. It has become a rare treat, indeed.”
“I love it,” said Flame, “Thank you.”
“The bottle is yours,” said Aero, “Think of it as a gift from the Elders, to you.” Eventually, dessert was over. Sage brought a wooden chair before Flame and Serene’s table as Aero addressed the guests. The orchestra finished another song and stopped playing.
“Alright,” said Aero happily, “May we please have all eligible, single, female Ralts, Kirlia and Gardevoirs gather in the middle of the room. It is now time for the bouquet and garter toss.” As the hopeful Poke’mon gather in the middle of the room, Flame and Serene stepped forward. Aero took Flame aside for a moment.
“You know what’s going to happen now, right?” asked Aero. Flame nodded.
“How long has this tradition been around?” asked Flame.
“Believe it or not, the bouquet and garter toss have been done by Gardevoirs and Gallades for millennia as well as the wearing of extravagant, white dresses. Humans picked up these traditions from us not long ago, except that human grooms don’t like the idea of wearing wedding dresses,” explained Aero.
“I can’t imagine why,” said Flame with a shrug.
“You and me both,” said Aero as Flame stood in front of the table with Serene. Serene giggled as she turned away from the eager, female Poke’mon. Moments later, she threw the bouquet behind her back with a hearty toss. Flame tried not to laugh as Kirlias leapt high into the air, trying intercept the bouquet. The female Gardevoirs also jumped, hoping to snag the bouquet, but many of them collided, jumping and running into each other. Despite the chaos and mayhem, the bouquet soon landed in the hands of its surprised new owner, a Kirlia wearing a fluffy, pink dress. Lily was shocked, wondering how the bouquet could have come to her despite the army of other Kirlias and Gardevoirs. Aero laughed out loud. Not only had competition for the bouquet been unusually rough, but the soft flowers wound up in the hands of the most unlikely Kirlia. Lily was quite happy and the other Kirlias and Gardevoirs congratulated her.
“Well! How about we have all single, eligible male Ralts, Kirlia, Gardevoirs and Gallades come to the center of the room,” announced Aero. As the hopeful Poke’mon gathered, Serene took a seat in the wooden chair. She smiled as Flame knelt before her. He started by taking off her right slipper. Then, he tenderly gripped the front edge of her skirt with his left hand. Flame chuckled and Serene giggled nervously as Flame slowly lifted up her skirt. Flame was greeted by a jungle of soft white petticoats as well as Serene’s gold and diamond anklets. He slowly reached his right hand up Serene’s skirt, feeling for the garter. Serene blushed and laughed nervously as her mate’s fingers rubbed her right leg. Soon, Flame found what he was looking for and gently wrapped his fingers around the soft, diamond-encrusted garter. He slowly pulled Serene’s garter down her leg, savoring the moment. Serene gazed at Flame, blushing deeply as she winked at him. Flame chuckled again as he tenderly pulled the soft, sparkling garter off her foot. With the garter in his hand, he gently put Serene’s slipped back on her foot and lowered her skirt. Finally, Flame stood back up and faced away from the young, male Poke’mon. With a light toss, he threw the garter over his back. It didn’t fly very far before a male Kirlia snagged it right before it hit the ground. Lily quickly recognized the young Kirlia. She stood next to him with the bouquet of red and white roses.
“Didn’t I see you in the hallway earlier?” asked Lily with a smile. The male Kirlia blushed.
“Yes…that was me,” said the Kirlia nervously.
“Well, do you like my dress?” asked Lily as she twirled a few times on her tiptoes.
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” said the Kirlia with a smile, “Just…like…you…” Lily stopped twirling and the Kirlia bowed his head as his face turned bright red, realizing what he had just said out loud. Lily giggled and held the Kirlia’s left hand.
“Let’s have a big hand for the happy couple!” said Aero with delight as the guests cheered and applauded Lily and her new, bashful friend. As Lily and the Kirlia left the floor and walked back to their seats hand in hand, Kage approached Flame and Serene as Sage whisked away the bride’s chair.
“Would you two like to dance?” asked Kage.
“Yes, please,” said Flame, smiling as he held Serene’s hand.
“I would love to!” said an excited Serene. Kage nodded and faced the Gardevoir musicians. The bandleader nodded and faced the small orchestra. Moments later, they started to play a soft waltz. With that, Flame and Serene walked forward. Flame placed his right hand on Serene’s waist while she put an arm around his back. Serene held the front of her skirt with her right hand. With Serene’s left hand held in his, Flame and his bride started to dance, drifting and twirling about the dance floor. Other couples soon joined in on the Protectors’ first dance. Flame and Serene’s wedding dresses sparkled and shimmered brightly as they danced. It wasn’t long before Serene noticed that Flame’s dancing was very refined and very, very good.
“You never told me you could dance,” said Serene, blushing at her mate, “Your dancing is just so…perfect.”
“I’m just full of surprises,” said Flame, “You’re pretty good, yourself.” Serene giggled as she and Flame continued to dance. They stared deep into each other’s eyes, not paying any attention to what was going on around them. In fact, they kept dancing even as the musicians finished the song. Some of the guests laughed and Elegon shouted to the bandleader.
“Well?! What are you waiting for?!” shouted Elegon with loud laughter, “Keep playing!” The bandleader nodded and the orchestra resumed their playing. For hours, Flame and Serene danced, only stopping to take sips of their fabulous wine or to kiss. Flame was enjoying rubbing his hands against Serene’s soft and smooth dress. Now and then, Serene would reach out and stroke the soft, shimmering satin on Flame’s shoulders. This continued for hours and before anyone knew it, the sun was setting over the city. The day of celebrations had come to an end. Flame and Serene said goodbye to their guests: in turn, the wedding guests congratulated Flame and wished the best for Serene. By the time the newlyweds had said goodbye to the last of the several thousand guests, the sun had set and the cathedral was quiet.
“What a day,” said Aero with joy as he stretched out.
“Yes indeed,” said Blizz with a smile, “Now, we’d better start cleaning up.”
“I’ll help,” said Sage.
“As will I,” said Kage.
“Ah, thank you both very much,” said Elegon, “With the five of us working together, we’ll have this place in tip-top shape again in no time.”
“Elders,” said Flame, “I want to thank you for everything.”
“You’re very welcome, Flame,” said Aero, “You’d best get home now with your bride.”
“Enjoy your first night together, Flame and Serene,” said Blizz, giggling with happiness.
“So, where are you guys going to spend your honeymoon?” asked Sage with curiosity.
“I don’t know,” said Flame, “But I know a few nice, romantic places we can visit.”
“Like our home for tonight,” said Serene with a seductive smile.
“Yes…” said Flame as he embraced his wife, “It is our home now, isn’t it?”
“Hmmmm…” sighed Serene blissfully, “Shall we get going now, honey?”
“Yeah…” said Flame tenderly, “Let’s go home, my love.” With a one quick, yet gentle move, Flame took Serene, his beautiful bride up in his arms. He held her tightly and close to his body as she laid her head against his chest.
“Have a wonderful night you two,” said Sage happily.
“Indeed. Have a pleasant night,” said Kage with a polite bow, “And a great honeymoon.” Flame and Serene nodded as the young Gallade carried his bride out of the room. Kage let out a loud sigh.
“Sage, we have got to get ourselves a mate one of these days,” said Kage.
“Don’t I know it,” said Sage with a smile. The other Gallades and the elders tended to the cathedral as Flame carried Serene down the quiet, city streets. Night had fallen over the white marble city. Torches of bright, blue fire lit up the city streets and made Flame and Serene’s wedding dresses sparkle and shimmer enchantingly all the more. Serene’s jewelry shone with a bright luster despite the fairly low light. As the lovers looked into each others eyes longingly, the blue fire from the torches was reflected in their eyes: in a way, showing the deep, bright, building and burning passion between the newlyweds as they approached their home for their wedding night. They rounded a corner and were soon just yards from their home and their first night together. As Flame carried Serene through the front door and towards their bedroom, the lovers knew there would be many hard times and tough challenges ahead. However, they also knew there would be an abundance of wonderful moments in the future and they would always be together to share those great times as the Protectors and, most importantly, as husband and wife.