(Excerpt of Sororate Chapter Four)
We were a little late because the bridal couple was already at the front of the gathering, along with their families. Declan half pushed and half excused our way through the throng of people, until we were standing with the Sabres and the Riverclaws. They stood before the Tribal Elders, whom were behind a campfire which was burning in front of the Sacred Totems.
I halted as soon as I saw the bridal couple in the traditional ‘skins’ of our ancestral costume. Made from either caribou or moose hide, Forrest wore suede pants, shirt and a jacket, which was decorated with tassels and beads. Maia wore something similar, but instead of suede pants it was a long, suede skirt with moccasins on her feet.
I was hit by the strongest sense of déjà vu… I swear I was looking on Grant and I, standing before the Tribal Elders when it was our Joining Ceremony.
Both Forrest and Maia had their long, black hair either tied back or plaited in the traditional way. Their faces were painted with the ‘claw mark’ of the Lokoti Wolf, as were our Tribal Elders whom were also wearing the Lokoti clothes of old. In the background, we could hear the traditional drum beat which was played at many of our tribe’s ceremonies.
The 24 year old groom led the 21 year old bride by the hand, to stand before the Tribal Elders. The council moved to sit in a half circle around the fire, which prompted the couple to lower themselves to the ground and then so did the rest of the tribe. Declan sat down first before he helped me because I felt awkward in my high-heels and cocktail dress. Once I was seated, I repositioned my woollen coat over my legs so not to give anything away.
“You have the council of Tribal Elders convened here for you today. What do you ask of us?” Chiron as one of the Elders, asked the couple.
Forrest spoke clearly for all to hear, “I have come to ask for the blessing of the Tribal Elders as the Guides of the way of the Lokoti Wolf, to take this woman as my mate.”
Declan squeezed my hand as we watched what took place.
“And do you have the permission of your family for this union?” Meadow as another one of the Elders, enquired.
“He does.” Stone Riverclaw answered.
“And do you have the permission of the woman’s family for this union?” Hazel Elm asked, another Elder.
Suddenly my mate spoke up, “He does.”
Oh that’s right, sometimes I forgot that Declan was the head of the Sabre family. He had been the older brother of Derik whose progeny lived on, which meant that my mate was the longest living member of the Sabre clan.
“He does.” Julius Sabre said after him, whom was Maia’s father.
As the ceremony proceeded, I noticed in the corner of my eye Declan’s solemn expression as he watched the ritual. I sensed inside of him, a touch of envy when he observed Forrest and Maia drink from the sacred Lokoti Tribal Cup, which looked like a small, wooden, painted bowl. As we observed the ceremony play out with reverence by our people, I felt his fingers fidget with my wedding ring. I sensed that in a way, he was wishing this could have been us.
I recalled long ago, something he said on the day he moved in; “but don’t you think that I would have liked a Joining Ceremony? Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole tribe threw us a Housewarming too? But instead, we have our one-person celebration squad, of only my Mom supporting our relationship.”
In a small way, Declan and I did get a Housewarming but he never got his Joining Ceremony.
This made me wonder, does he still wish that we had one? It was such an antiquated notion to me, these days many Lokoti preferred to have just the Housewarming. I was surprised when Forrest and Maia declared that they wanted a Joining Ceremony as well.
As I snuck many a glance towards my mate, I began to see that he saw differently. Declan was such an old fashioned romantic, more so than anyone ever suspected; including myself. The more I thought about this, I could see many similarities between his romanticism when compared to his faith.
Before World War Three, his parents had followed Catholicism. Afterwards, Declan was brought here to be raised on tribal lands in much the Lokoti way. However, his family did celebrate Christmases and Easters with mine, who also followed Christianity. Maybe there was a Catholic part of him that desired ritual and ceremony and pomp? There were many aspects about his life which were Catholic, aside from the gold crucifix he wore around his neck which used to be his human mother’s.