July 7th, 18–
“Dearly beloved. . .we are gathered here today to join this man and this woman in marriage.”
Victor smiled brightly at his bride, who smiled back. This was it! After a whirlwind of planning, of getting everything together in a little less than a month, this was it.
“Marriage is more than just a contract – a few words on a piece of paper. Marriage is one of the greatest expressions of love. It is a lifetime commitment between two people who never wish to be apart.”
God, he didn’t think Alice could look any lovelier than she did now. Victor drank her in with his eyes – her white gown with the blue embroidered flowers and butterflies circling the skirt; her fragrant bouquet of lilies, tulips, daffodils, and bluebells; her crown of orange blossoms with the shimmery veil; and of course her soft pink lips and brilliant green eyes, accented beautifully with just a hint of makeup. She was the image of the perfect bride. Victor felt rather plain and ordinary in his simple charcoal suit and white vest. At least he had the hat Richard had made him when he first arrived – that had to count for something in the “handsome groom” department.
“These two young lovers have already proven their devotion to each other through good times and bad. They have enjoyed beautiful days and weathered dark nights at each other’s side. They are stronger together than they could ever be apart.”
Victor nodded – oh, that was definitely true enough. Life without Alice. . .it wasn’t something he liked to think about. Just considering the fact they’d almost never met was bad enough. But worse were the nightmares he had occasionally, the ones where she had – where the Queen had –
He quickly banished such thoughts. They weren’t appropriate for a day like today. Reminded him too much of the abyss lurking in the back of his mind. God, please, he thought, concealing a shiver, don’t do anything like that again. Don’t take her away from me. At least, not until we’re about a hundred. That’s the earliest I’ll be able to let her go.
“We are all here, family and friend alike, to celebrate the love these two share for each other, and to celebrate the commitment they are making today.”
Victor smiled again, managing to tear his eyes away from Alice long enough to look at the wedding party. Marty and Doc were behind him, acting as his two best men (he couldn’t bring himself to pick just one of them), while Richard and Christopher stood proudly at attention next to them – Richard in his best suit, Christopher in his shiniest armor. All of them were grinning to beat the band. Though Victor noticed Richard looked a little distant – he suspected his friend was mentally hatting everyone in the audience who wasn’t wearing one (and maybe even those who were). In a line behind Alice were her aunt Susan as the matron of honor, Victoria, Emily, and the Cheshire Cat. Alice hadn’t had another truly close female friend to round out her bridesmaids, and considering how Cheshire had pretty much saved Victor’s life when he first entered Wonderland Park during the Queen’s brief reign, they’d both decided the least they could do was offer him a part in the wedding. Besides, he’d also been the first one to pick up on the fact that they were going to end up together. It was only fitting. All of them were smiling just as brightly as his groomsmen. Susan was admittedly crying, but they were very clearly tears of joy. Even Cheshire’s usually somewhat sardonic grin looked perfectly genuine. Victor felt a warmth deep inside him spread through his body. Marrying the woman he loved, and surrounded by the best friends a person could ask for – what else could he ever want?
“If there is anyone here who objects to this union, let them speak now, or forever hold their peace.”
Now Victor’s gaze went to the faces gazing at them from the pews. The wedding wasn’t particularly big, but it was bigger than Victor had ever imagined his wedding to be. And much more varied – Bonejangles shared a pew with March Hare and Dormy, Toothless was curled up in the seats next to Hiccup and Astrid, and Flint’s monkey Steve was giving Gromit a good groom. Everyone looked just as happy as he felt – both Flint and Bonejangles gave him a thumbs up as his eyes passed over them, making him chuckle.
Unwillingly, though, his gaze was drawn to a few empty seats in the front of the church. His parents hadn’t even opened their wedding invitation – just sent it straight back without a word. Victor wasn’t even sure why he’d invited them in the first place. It wasn’t like they were even speaking to each other any more. Not after what his mother had said once he’d finally gotten the courage to talk to them. A brief burst of anger flared up in his heart. Fixed indeed. . . . No, it was probably for the best that they weren’t here, no matter how much the rejection hurt.
And then there was the seat that should have been Lewis’s. The anger was replaced by deep sadness. Would Lewis even have wanted to come to this wedding? He’d been reassured multiple times by numerous people that his old friend had not actually hated him. But it was still hard to believe sometimes. Not for the first time, Victor wished Doc had a working time machine – just so he could go back and say an apology poor past Lewis would never understand.
He felt Alice’s hand on his arm, and looked back to see her giving him a tender smile. “He’s watching from wherever he ended up,” she whispered. “And I’m sure he’s perfectly happy seeing us together. Don’t make this a day about regrets.”
Victor smiled back, feeling comforted. She was right – today wasn’t a day to mourn. Today was a day for celebration. “Thanks.”
Father Gale smiled at the silence from the pews. “Good. Now then, I believe Master Van Dort has some rather unique vows. . .Victor, if you would?”
Victor nodded, looking at Alice as he raised his right hand. “With this hand, I will lift your sorrows.” It felt a little weird to be using his hometown’s special vows here in Secundus, but Alice liked them, and they were the ones he was used to. He’d spent hours practicing them, wanting to make sure he got them just right for her. He picked up a goblet and a bottle of sacramental wine. “Your cup will never empty, for I will be your wine,” he continued, emphasizing the line by pouring a little of the wine into the goblet. Cup was then exchanged for a tapered candle. “With this candle, I will light your way in darkness.”
And now, the most important part. He reached into his vest pocket and extracted the ring. Holding it very carefully – he’d discovered how slippery the damn thing could be after dropping it during rehearsal the other day – he took her hand and slipped it onto her finger. “With this ring, I ask you to be mine.”
“Miss Liddell?” Father Gale said.
Alice grinned at Victor, raising her hand. “With this hand, I will lift your sorrows,” she said. She took the cup and added some more wine. “Your cup will never empty, for I will be your wine.” Cup was changed for a candle, which she held aloft. “With this candle, I will light your way in darkness.” She set down the candle and took his hand. “With this ring – I’ll always be thine.” (Victor overheard Victoria whisper, “Oh, I wish I’d thought of that! It’s so much nicer than just ‘I do.’”)
Father Gale beamed at the couple. “Then, by the power invested in me, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
Victor quite eagerly did so, to a chorus of applause and cheers. He didn’t think Alice’s lips had ever felt this good pressed against his own. “This is easily the happiest day of my life,” he told her once he finally released her.
“Mine too – so far,” Alice said, smirking. “I expect you to start making a few contenders for the title very soon.”
Victor laughed. “Your wish is my command.”
They retired to the church’s back office to take care of the fiddly legal things, such as signing the marriage licence. Victor watched as Alice put her name down. “That’s it,” he said suddenly, feeling a bit odd.
“What’s it?” Alice asked, handing the pen to her aunt so she could sign as a witness.
“That’s the last time you’ll ever be Alice Liddell. It’s Alice Van Dort now.” He shook his head. “It’s just – a little strange, thinking of you with my last name.”
“A little,” Alice agreed, contemplating it a moment. “But we’ll get used to it. I wouldn’t have given up my old last name for anyone else.”
“I know,” Victor said, drawing her close. “I – I hope your parents would have approved of me.”
“They would have loved you,” Susan assured him, smiling. “You’re just the sort of man they would have hoped Alice would marry.”
“You kept them from having to see their daughter again prematurely,” Cheshire said, hopping onto the desk to put a paw print on the certificate. “I’m sure they are quite happy to have you as a son-in-law for that alone.”
Victor smiled at them. “Thanks, both of you.”
Finally, the last “i” was dotted and the last “t” crossed on the paperwork. Victor and Alice celebrated with another kiss, then made their way out of the church through the crowd of friends and relations waiting for them. “Thank you all for coming!” Victor said, grinning and waving at them all. “We’ll see you all at the reception in half a hour, all right?”
“What will you be doing?” Astrid called.
In response, Victor turned, put two fingers to his mouth, and whistled. Moments later, a large, butterfly-shaped shadow appeared above them. There were a few gusts of wind that threatened to destroy hairstyles and blow away hats, then the biggest blue butterfly anyone had ever seen landed in front of them. “Ready to take us on a tour of the city, Ferdinand?” Victor said, patting the butterfly’s feelers.
Ferdinand ran his proboscis over his creator’s face, fluttering his wings eagerly. Victor laughed. “Yes, I thought so. We’ll meet up with all of you at Mr. and Mrs. Liddell’s house!”
“Oh, do the bouquet throw before you go!” Emily cried as Victor and Alice prepared to mount. “I can’t wait to see who’s getting married next!”
“We know who’s getting married next!” Alice replied, laughing. “For goodness sake, Emily, we were with you when you and Richard booked the church!”
“Well then, after me, then!” Emily giggled, as Richard put a loving arm around her. “Come on, please!”
“All right, all right!” Alice turned around, hefting her flowers a couple of times to prepare. “All married women, you’d better clear the area!”
Susan, Victoria, and Sam Lockwood quickly got out of the way, retreating into the arms of their respective husbands. The unmarried ladies left bunched up eagerly in front of the crowd. “One – two – three!” Alice cried, and launched her bouquet. There was a brief friendly scuffle as the girls tried to jump for it, and then –
“I don’t think that’s allowed. Is it?”
“Alice, you overshot!”
“What?” Alice turned, frowning. Beside her, Victor peered with equal puzzlement at the women. “Who got it?”
The crowd of girls separated, revealing – of all people – Doc Brown holding the flowers. The scientist was staring at them like he’d never seen them before. “I – I don’t know – they were in the air, then--” he stammered, sounding rather like Victor. He finally lifted his head. “I don’t even have a girlfriend!”
“Better find one, Doc,” Marty joked, gently nudging his friend in the side.
Victor couldn’t help a laugh. “Yes – can’t break with tradition, after all,” he nodded, earning himself a look from his friend. “And now, the sky calls.” He waved again. “We’ll see you all later!”
“Goodbye!” “Have a good flight!” “Watch out for the air over Narbonics, they’ve got a weird thermal going!” “We’ll see you at the reception!” “Safe flying!” “Steve!”
Victor and Alice waved one last time, then got themselves settled on Ferdinand’s back. “All right, Ferdy – up and away!” Victor said, patting the butterfly’s head.
Ferdinand wiggled his feelers, then flapped his wings, launching them into the air. They slowly drifted up into the sky, then lazily turned and started their meandering way over the city. Victor looked around as they flew. There were the lightning rods decorating many of the stained and scorched roofs. There was Flint’s FLDSMDFR floating on the breeze, quiet for now but ready to release food later for many hungry people. There was Professor Madblood, finishing work on yet another rocket – he gave them a wave as they passed. And, far below, there was the hustle and bustle of the city, with motorized carriages making their way along the streets and pickle people ambling along the cobblestone sidewalks.
Victor smiled at it all. Alice wrapped her arms around him, resting her head on his shoulder. “So – happy Doc Brown kidnapped you all those months ago?”
Victor turned a little and kissed her. “You have no idea.”