Gideon nipped at the ends of his sleeves as he waited for his mate to arrive. Sure, he knew that this moment was a long time coming, but the jitters of finally being able to mark Freya were still somehow getting to him.
[Calm yourself,] Eli reminded him. [You're in front of a lot of people.]
He shook his head as he quickly heeded his wolf's words. Sure enough, the great hall was packed with both friends and family alike. By one side of the hall, his own family was seated by their table along with Aurelia. Thankfully, she decided to be with their parents for this one occasion, letting Calypso be the one to accompany the Queen Mother to their own table along with Queen Xenia and the rest of their close friends.
'This is truly it…' Gideon couldn't help but think to himself. 'Freya and I are actually going to do it once all of this is over…'
The moment the doors opened, Gideon stiffened as his gaze quickly turned towards the new arrivals. Sure enough, his King was walking hand-in-hand with Freya, her gown making her stand out amidst the sea of admittedly attractive men and women in attendance. Not that he was putting disrespect to her name, but even Queen Xenia looked normal in comparison to Freya's elegant and radiant look.
[Calm down, will you?]
Gideon bit his lip as his gaze was glued solely to his mate's face. With each step they took, his anticipation only grew until eventually, he was already face to face with both his mate and his king.
"Your Majesty," Gideon nodded, doing his best to remain composed in the face of royalty.
"I'm trusting you on this, Gideon," King Darius hummed, the hand holding onto Freya's now being offered to him. "I'm giving you Freya's hand trusting that you won't break her heart."
"O-Of course!" Gideon nodded. "I only promise her what I have to offer; both in body and soul."
Darius nodded, and Gideon turned towards his mate's blushing face. Clearly, he felt a bit embarrassed by the last minute blessing. Not that he didn't appreciate getting one more blessing from his liege, but to do so in front of an audience only further cemented his legitimacy in their eyes.
"Gideon…" Freya whispered, her blush intensifying as he took her hand from the king.
"Freya…" Gideon gulped, his eyes wide in wonder and amazement. "You look dazzling…"
"T-Thank you," she meekly replied.
The two of them lingered in each other's gazes, their souls seemingly connecting the longer they stared into each other's eyes. Gideon lost himself in her soulful irises, his instincts making him drink in as much of this beautiful sight before him as possible.
Unfortunately, they were still on a timer, and the Ritual still had to happen on schedule. Before both of them even knew it, their King had already taken his place in front of them. As the highest authority present, he had the right to officiate the Ritual.
Of course, that didn't mean that the King would be the one to do all of the announcements.
"Ladies and gentlemen! We are gathered here today for the Ritual of Marking between Princess Freya and Gideon!" an officiator declared beside the king, his arms splayed out wide as if to gather everybody's attention. "Let us all stand for the official taking of vows!"
The audience stood behind them, and Gideon turned to face his soon-to-be wife. Likewise, she did the same, her smile making his heart soar the longer he stared at her.
"Gideon, do you accept Freya as your mate, to care for her in sickness and in health, for as long as you are alive?"
"I do," he firmly declared, no longer feeling nervous even up against his King's authoritative voice.
"And you, Freya, do you accept Gideon as your mate, to help him with his needs, for as long as you two are one?"
"I do," she nodded, her smile growing wider as she said her words.
"If that is so, then I now pronounce you two husband and wife," King Darius declared with a warm smile. "Gideon, you may mark your mate."
Gideon turned to Freya, a wide grin on his face as the latter simply smiled at him. With a soft motion, she bared her shoulder to him, her bare skin tantalizing to his eyes as her melodic voice called out to him.
"Go ahead, Gideon," she coaxed him with a sweet smile.
Pulling her close, Gideon held Freya by the shoulder and went right in. However, instead of going straight to marking her, he first gave her a loving kiss, soothing her before giving him one last look in the eye as he declared his intentions.
"I love you, Freya," he sincerely mumbled to her. "Thank you for accepting me."
Having said his piece, Gideon turned his gaze to her bare shoulder and sank his fangs into her.
Hearing her let out a muffled moan, his instincts carried him further as he felt the Bond forming, their minds connecting as they finally acted on their destined partnership.
A few moments later, he finally let her go, and he couldn't help but smile as he watched her flushed face pant and smile at her marking. They were connected now, and there was nothing that could ever break their Bond.
"It is done," he turned back to his King, his hand firmly holding onto Freya's as they faced their King as one.
"Very well," Darius smiled. "With this, the Ritual of Marking is officially over."
With the Ritual complete, the hall descended into a feast filled with dancing and partying. Gideon grinned as he watched the floor be cleared, revealing an empty space ripe for dancing to be had. Sure enough, the musicians waiting in the corner switched up their music to be one of joy and cheer, and every single guest wanting in on the cheer of the event went to the dance floor and vibed along with the rhythm.
"They're really having fun, huh," Gideon remarked just as he seated Freya beside him at their own personal table. Her neck was still glowing red with his own mark, a pleasing contrast to the smile currently on her face.
"There's reason to celebrate, after all," Freya remarked, her feelings of happiness coming to him through their Bond. "In fact, we should probably be out there dancing as well."
He smiled at her suggestion. "Shall we then?"
Freya beamed as she nodded, and before they both knew it, they were inching their way towards the middle of the dance floor, both of them smiling and giggling as they enjoyed each other's company. Truly, this day was only getting better and better.
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