Jean Luc walked Aria back to the house, where her mother was standing at the door, with her hands on her hips. When Aria was close enough to the house her mother quickly ushered her inside and shooed him away. “Don’t you know it is bad luck for the bride to see the groom before her wedding?” she said as they stood in the kitchen.
“Mother, we don’t need luck,” was all she could say. She was so happy. Nothing could come close to crushing her mood.
“I know darling, Jean Luc really does love you. I knew it from the first time I saw him look at you. I hope you are happy with him.”
“I am Mother. I have never felt this way about anyone before.”
“He is a lucky man to have such a wonderful woman in his life. Your father and I were that lucky. I still love him as much as the day we exchanged vows.”
“I wish Daddy was here with us today. It’s things like this that make me miss him all over again.”
Claudia took her little girl in her arms and held her. “I miss him too darling. I miss him each day. But don’t worry, he is with us today. He will look out for you and Jean Luc as you travel through the universe together. We have always been so proud of you, today is no exception.” The two ladies wiped away the tears that had silently fallen from their eyes and Claudia continued. “Now darling, we have to get you ready for your wedding. Now, go get out of those sweaty clothes and get cleaned up.”
“Yes, mother. And thanks for everything.” Aria kissed her mother on her cheek and ran up to her room and showered.
The mother of the bride kept the bride and her attendants on schedule. By five-thirty that evening, Aria, Deanna, Celeste and Gaza had all been dressed and had gone through hair and makeup. There she stood, in the living room of the guest house, in her white Chartazian silk gown with her best girlfriends fussing over her in their own gowns of deep plumb. Aria looked like a princess with the full skirt and tight, strapless bodice. The entire bodice was encrusted with crystals and pearls as well as the hem of the dress and most of the train. Gaza helped secure the sparkling tiara on her head while Deanna waited to attach the veil and Celeste made sure all of the buttons that ran down the dress were buttoned.
When they were all ready, they women picked up their bouquets of snow-white roses and made their way over to the main house. The sun was hovering at the horizon, as if it was waiting for her to make her way. Mrs. Finny was there waiting for them and shooed them into the study and closed the door behind them.
“It is almost time. Wait here, I will return shortly,” she told the bridal party.
After what had felt like an eternity one of the ushers, Commander Data, entered the room with Commander Riker following him. “Lieutenant, Mrs. Finny told me that everyone is ready and that I need to escort you mother to her seat. Mrs. Swenson, are you ready?” he said as he gave her his arm. After a last kiss to her daughter, Claudia helped her lift the veil over her face and left the room.
From inside the study they could hear the music begin, played by her old friends from school, and the door opened. Mrs. Finny led them out to the back door, where they waited for their musical cue. The door opened and Mrs. Finny spaced the departure of Deanna, Celeste and Gaza and then closed the old wooden door. When they were in place, the doors re-opened, framing Aria and Riker. The garden had been transformed by flowers and candles into a beautiful chapel. The path up the isle was marked with tall candles. The music started again, playing the traditional wedding march.
“You ready, kid?” Riker asked her.
“I have never been more ready. Thank you for being like a brother to me and filling in for my father,” she replied as they began up the isle. Riker held her arm tightly and beamed with pride, as the closest thing he had to a little sister was about to marry a man they both loved and respected. She could see the mosaic of faces watching her walk calmly up to the man she truly loved.
When she was only a few rows from the alter, she finally saw her groom, looking as handsome as ever in his mess dress uniform, waiting for her.
They approached the front of the congregation where Riker gave her to his Captain, shaking his hand and giving the bride a kiss. Aria joined Jean Luc at his side, both with big smiles and holding her hand as they faced Admiral O’Neill, who was about to officially marry them.
At the end of the day, when the last guest left the farm, the newlyweds finally had a moment of privacy in the vacated guest house. Candles provided the only light throughout the house and lead a path to the master bedroom. Holding hands, together they walked up to the room that Jean Luc had been keeping a secret. In front of the door, he produced from his jacket pocket, an antique key on a white, satin ribbon. He unlocked the door and opened it. Again, the only light was by white candles and there was a trail of white and pink rose petals leading from the doorway to the bed and all over the oversized bed, covered in a white comforter and a mountain of pillows. Jean Luc picked up his bride in his arms and carried her over the threshold. He kicked the door closed and put her feet back on the floor not letting go of her and he kissed her with all the passion he felt for her. Soft music played in the room and Aria, still wearing her spectacular gown, danced with her husband, moving as one with the music.
“Today was perfect. I am so happy. You make me happy. I love you Jean Luc Picard,” she told him as they slowly danced to the music.
“And I love you, Aria Picard.” He kissed her.
“There is something I need to tell you now that we are married and finally alone.”
“What is it? Is there something wrong?”
“There is no problem. Something is very right,” she paused for the dramatic effect. With a proud smile on her face, she told him, “I’m pregnant.”
“You are pregnant?” he was shocked, but a smile equally as big as Aria’s quickly spread over his face. He picked her up and spun her around with happiness. Her gown’s train following them in a huge circle.
“Yes, I’m five weeks along.”
“I’m going to be a father,” he said excited and with pride in his eyes. The last of their wounds from months ago had healed with her announcement. They were not replacing the child they had lost, but celebrating in the gift that was growing inside of her. He held her tightly against him, not wanting to leave this moment of perfection. Right now all that mattered to him was held within his arms, the woman he so deeply loved and the child he looked forward to raising with her.