I will demand all that a marriage of the first degree entails, joint equal property with rights to keep said property if we divorce within one year and a day. I assume my Da put those terms in what you are holding." She leaned forward, looking at him intensely, the ruddy locks dropping over one eye. "This is a first degree marriage. Is it not?"
The color came back to his face and he took a deep breath. "I'm not trying to cheat you, Geil. That is what the contract states. So we can marry as soon as the Brehon arrives. Then we willl—."
Geileis raised a hand. "There's one condition I'd like to add to the contract."
"You will respect me as your first wife? Not only in property but with your actions?"
His eyes narrowed and she could see he was confused.
"It's very simple Arguis and part of Brehon law. The first wife is always consulted before making any decisions, rents, trades, even taking another wife or concubine."
"I didn't say I ... Gel, what kind of a man do you think I am?!"
"A man like any other man," she replied, not able to keep the mirth from her lips. "But your taking more wives is not my concern."
"What is my concern are our children's dowries. I have to protect them, Arguis. The first born inherits the most you see, so I demand the right of carrying your first child. I don't want the biggest pot going to some concubine's son."
"You do?" she said, relieved.
"Nothing would make me happier than if you were carrying my child, Gel, but there's a small problem with that and I hope you'll still want to marry me when I tell you this." He hesitated. "Tis Kera who already carries my firstborn."
She stared at him, thunderstruck. She was sure some wandering minstrel or cattle-lord had got Kera with child.
"Didn't you know?"
She shook her head, wordless.
"You and I weren't married yet. No contract and such," he explained.
A newfound anger erupted in her throat but this time she was angry with herself. If her father had included in the details of the marriage contract, the exact age they should marry it would have been so much easier, but he hadn't, so she had waited until her twenty fifth season, an age way past what most women married. "This is all my fault. If I had agreed to marry you before. When you asked me the first time—."
He opened his mouth to speak, but then pulled her to him, holding her solid against his beating heart. He whispered into her hair. "Will you still marry me, gra' mo chroi?"
She had waited for this day for so long, had wanted him to pledge his love to her at their betrothal. He never had. He may have been with another woman, or several, for all she knew but that was all over now. Love or no, he was marrying her. She'd accept that for now. She pulled back slightly and looked up. "I'll still marry you, Arguis."
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