Ceremonies of Love and Sadness

by Sali Wynants

"Commander, you came!" Delenn looked like a storybook bride on the night before her wedding.
Yeah, but I still wish I knew why "How can I help you Ambassador?"
"Susan, please, call me Delenn, rank has no place in the Shi'l Raan."
She called me 'Susan'.... "'Shi'l Rann'?"
Delenn took a seat on the couch and gestured for Susan to do the same. "The Shi'l Raan is a Minbari ceremony, it is conducted on the eve of the wedding ceremony.
Susan nodded for Delenn to continue. That voice...
"The Shi'l Raan dates back to the time before Valen, even before the castes.....back to our earliest history. In the beginning, Minbari weddings were arranged by the clan and village, not by the individuals. Sometimes, more often then is admitted, one party or another or both was not completely willing. To prevent the dishonor of a broken wedding, the elders decreed that the couple to be married needed support from outside themselves. So, it was then that the closest friend of the female, and the closest friend of the male stay the night with their friend and convince them that they are doing the right thing, that he or she will be happy in the marriage. That has become a tradition, for the friend of the 'bride' and 'groom' stay the night. And that, Susan, is why you are here."
"So basically I'm just here to keep you company? Or is there an actual ritual involved?"
"I am afraid it's not that simple, Susan, I have a confession.......I need you to fulfill the original purpose of the Shi'l Raan"
Is she saying what I think she's saying....? "Delenn, are you saying you need me to convince you to marry John?" Susan hoped she didn't sound as desperate to Delenn as she did to herself.
The Minbari Ambassador looked up at Susan, then away quickly. "I-.....I am no longer absolutely certain that John is the other half of my soul. Lately, i have begun to believe it is another who is the other half of my heart." I can not let her know who it is that I love now.
Oh...Delenn.....if i could only.... Susan did the only thing she could think of, she wrapped Delenn in her arms and held her close.
Delenn returned the embrace eagerly. Oh Susan...if you knew how much I've wanted this....
The two women held each other for quite some time, each yearning for the other, yet neither following their hearts and confessing their love.
Finally Susan spoke "Delenn, I'm sorry, I can't convince you to marry John"
"Do you not think you can argue in favor of your Captain, Commander?" Delenn's voice was challenging and Susan's answer was out before she had a chance to think....
"I don't want to"
The women were still holding each other and Delenn cupped the back of Susan's head and brought her mouth down for a soft kiss.
Susan's response was immediate, she tightened her arms around Delenn and deepened the kiss. Oh my sweet Delenn......
Delenn broke the kiss what seemed like several years later and looked deep into Susan's eyes. "Now you know who I love that I can not marry John"
Susan looked down at the tiny woman in her arms and smiled. "I know, and I love you too, Delenn." Susan kissed Delenn again and leaned her back, stretching them out on the couch.......

Later.....much later......the two women lay together....Susan spoke first. "I wish it didn't have to be like this...."
Delenn gently kissed her love's neck. "Would you like us to be together after this night?"
"Oh Delenn, it's impossible, John told me about the dishonor of eloping....." Susan kissed the delicate curve of Delenn's small bone crest.
"I never said 'elope' I said 'be together'....would you like for us to be together after this night?" She looked up at Susan, the question on her face and passion in her eyes.
Susan returned the gaze and answered firmly. "Yes."
Delenn kissed her love firmly on the lips as she rose from the couch and wrapped a blanket around herself. "Wait here, darling Susan, we will be together forever soon..." With that, Delenn made her way to her private room and soon returned with a small flask. She sat on the foot of the couch and indicated for Susan to sit up as well.
"The Minbari have ceremonies for everything....including being in love with the so-called 'wrong person'." She held up the flask. "If we drink this together, our souls will be together in the next life as they could not be in this one." She opened the flask and raised it to her lips "Will you drink with me Susan?"
Susan took the flask from Delenn and took a large swallow of the spicy-sweet liquid. "Yes." She handed the bottle back to Delenn.
Delenn finished the bottle and looked at Susan. "We will be together soon, my love." She leaned forward to kiss her love. "Forever."
Some time later Susan felt Delenn relax in her arms, and knew that Delenn wasn't sleeping, and that she would join her soon. Susan smiled and closed her eyes, never to open them again.