Author's Note: Thank you guys for the lovely comments! I can't believe I've nearly reached a 100 pages! SO EXCITED! Oh and special mention to arhifandebi, our late birthday girl! Hope you enjoyed your gift! <3
Amicitia, A New Beginning
Her heart thumped as she looked out of the window, she was still surprised at everything that had happened; her rush wedding, Shiv and then that man. "Who was he? And why was he taking pictures of me?" She wondered.
"Er...you okay?" Virat mumbled as he looked on ahead of the road.
"Erm, ha." She replied back. "Woh aadmi..."
"Don't worry about him, the picture is gone and you know what the mechanic and his sons did." He tried to joke, lightning the moment but Maanvi wasn't sure. She felt uncomfortable being in this place, being in this situation. She missed Shiv. She missed her family. Even her silly younger brother, Daboo.
"Ha...but..." She struggled to tell him what she really wanted to know. "Why was he there? I mean, why me?"
Virat bit his lip. The man, or reporter rather didn't want Maanvi. He wanted Virat, he only took Maanvi's picture because she was an acquaintance of Virat, or better still his wife. This was one of the reasons why Virat hated his life, disliked being a Royal, the constant bombarding of questions and pictures being taken. Privacy being lost. He curled his hand into a fist, trying to keep calm as he drove. Was this what was going to happen with Maanvi now? She was going to be known everywhere in Chandrilasia as Mrs Virat Singh Vadhera and everyone would take the chance to take a glimpse of her. He gulped, Maanvi wasn't used to this. He began to feel guilty at pushing her into a life that even he detested.
"Actually..." Dare he tell her? Could he lie and let her find out how hard being a Royal actually is? He inwardly shook his head. No. He could not do that. He couldn't deceive anyone who was in essence close to him. He couldn't deceive Maanvi just like she had. "These things will happen. Er, the curse of being a Prince's wife." He said not even looking at her.
Maanvi nodded understanding. She bit her lip. "Is this the life I'd have to live now? Always hiding from the Media and their cameras?...Would I be able to do it? Would I ever be able to fit into Royalty and that too as his wife?" She wondered.
For a split second, Virat looked to his left and noticed Maanvi deep in thoughts. He knew what she was thinking. Would she fit in? Even he thought about that sometimes. When life got rough when he was younger, when he had no one to talk to, he would always find himself talking of running away. He would have given anything to live another life, as just Virat. Not Prince Virat. It was a label that he despised. And when he had the opportunity to study in London four years earlier, he had quickly jumped on the idea. A place where he was not a Prince? It was a dream come true. But that dream suddenly started to fade away, as his dream turned to reality. In a year, he fell in love and in that year his heart was smashed, crushed and broke into pieces. Virat widened out of his thoughts as he looked at Maanvi still in thoughts.
"Don't worry, I'm here." She looked at his words, confused. He quickly cleared his throat. "I mean, I'll help you in fitting in." He corrected.
She nodded, appreciating his words.
The car turned into a pathway and Maanvi saw a sign board, covered in elegant italic writing. Vadhera Palace. Her stomach fluttered like butterflies as the guards opened the gates for Virat. She felt nervous, not sure how to address her family, how to react. The car stopped as two guards, dressed full in black with protective clothing came out, ready to collect the both of them. Virat switched off the engine as he parked in. He contemplated for a bit before opening the door and walking out. The guard looked at Virat before giving him a bow of greeting. Virat rolled his eyes at his actions, the guard walked over to the passenger door to open it. Instantly Virat stopped him and opened the door for Maanvi. She watched both in nervousness and confusion as Virat took her by the hand and walked her in. They walked, him holding her wrist towards the doors of the Palace.
This was every girl's dream. To live in a Palace as grand as the Vadhera Palace. It was a building of crystal white bricks, a beautiful orchard towards the right with ripe apple and orange trees. To the far left was the outside building of the servant's quarters, a building where the servants lived for those that did not have a home. The Vadhera's were wealthy, full of pride but they were not arrogant. In fact, they did not take someone on a job if they didn't think they were nice, or respectable person. And those that did, the Vadhera's would go all out in giving them more money than they could think of. It was a good price to pay for being a servant, or a guard.
Maanvi hesitated as they stood in front of the door, two guards on each side looking straight on at each other. The door opened and Virat felt Maanvi's arm tighten. She looked up at him as he realised that he was still holding her wrist. He let it go, in embarrassment. As the doors opened and everyone started to rush forward, the reality became so serious. This was happening. Right now. Everything was real. Maanvi was his wife. And he was her husband.
"Virat?" Viren questioned as everyone walked down to see the runaway Prince and Maanvi stand in front of the building. His head was bandaged due to the incident earlier and he still felt light headed. He was pleased that Virat was backed but as his eyes hovered over to Maanvi, he was just confused.
Jeevika rushed down near her husband, as she turned to see Virat standing. She smiled, her puffy eyes glistening. She limped a bit, as her wounds were still fresh. She wanted to hug her devar, happy that he was alright. In the space of a few hours, after the riot, she had thought that he had gotten hurt. She wanted to find him but everyone Viren included told her thought to because of her bleeding wounds. Viren had assured her that Virat will be alright and that he is only going to get things right. Jeevika noticed the effects. She looked at Maanvi but more especially the red sindoor on her forehead. Jeevika wanted to smile, so finally Maanvi was her devrani. She rushed downstairs, taking the stairs two at a time wanting to greet the newly married couple.
"One minute Jeevika." She turned around to see Swamini standing with the Queen and Earl of Chandia behind her.
"Buaji..." Jeevika said softly as Swamini walked past her, staring hard at the married couple.
Swamini was the stone hearted daughter of the Earl and the sister of the deceased King. Anyone who knew her also knew that she was someone never to be messed with. She had the power and the courage to do what others may not want to do, good or bad. In other words, you make her angry and she will fight back. When she was younger, she was set to marry someone who she had loved but he had sadly died before the wedding. Since then, she had grown into a stronger person and vowed to live unmarried. Of course, no one decided against her and soon after Viren was born, she became almost like his second mother. Though she did what she thought was right even if others thought she was cold hearted, this was not true. It was simply just a faade that she upheld. A couple of days earlier when she had met Maanvi, she truly wanted Maanvi to become the Choti Bahu of the Vadhera palace. And she still wanted to but she didn't want to forgive Virat for putting Viren and the family members in potential danger. Two people had gotten hurt and she knew that it all happened because of Virat.
As she walked, Maanvi's heart began to beat faster and faster. She was scared as she saw the look on Swamini's face: of hurt and anger. Maanvi placed her head down on the floor, unable to look at anyone in the eyes. But Virat didn't. Infact he stood head on still, looking straight on. He was wrong before, but now? He was right. He knew it. Though it did take him some time and he didn't do it the way his family would want him to.
"What is this Virat?" She spoke, hard and clear. "You leave us suddenly and now you're here with Maanvi?" Swamini looked at the Sindoor and Mangalsutra on her neck and contemplated hard. She nodded. "I get it. You married her haven't you? To save yourself, you married her."
She huffed, faking a smile. "It's what you wanted." Virat spoke. Instantly, she looked at him giving him a hard stare. True, it was what she wanted. But her morals and conscious said that the way everything happened was wrong. Maanvi wasn't meant to be pushed into all this straight away. Today was meant to be her roka, not her marriage. Swamini remembered the day when she was meant to be getting married, she had been waiting for this moment for years. She remembered the way she loved going through all the traditions and customs, the roka, the mehendi, the sangeet. She could only imagine what it must be like for Maanvi to just leave her family suddenly for a family she doesn't even know.
"Ha, I wanted this. But not like this." She said, giving a sympathetic look to Maanvi. In her eyes, Virat was the one in wrong, not Maanvi and as the caretaker of the country, she couldn't let wrong happen to her own citizen.
Viren and Jeevika walked down the rest of the stairs carefully. He held Jeevika's waist, protecting her. They went towards Maanvi and Virat.
"Virat, you are alright, right?" Jeevika asked, the mother in her not being able not to talk to him. Virat gave her a nod assuring her. She whimpered as her back edged back, the pain stinging her. Viren rubbed her neck, calming her down.
"Jeevika beta, please go to your room. You must be tired." The Earl said. Jeevika shook her head but Viren took her into the heart of the house away from the drama. Once they were gone, the Earl looked straight on into Virat's eyes. "So, tell me...what is going on? How could you even think of marrying Maanvi like this? Did you not think of her? Did you not think of her parents? We are Royals Virat! You shouldn't have done this!"
Virat looked at his grandfather in anger. We are Royals, Virat! The words ringing in his ear. Yes, they were Royals and he hated each and every moment of it. Maanvi noticed Virat's rigid body language.
"I agreed to this." Maanvi said, protecting Virat. "If anything, I'm at fault too." She spoke out loud, mustering the courage. The Earl nodded.
"But Beta, this is not your fault. You were not to be pulled into these things yet fate managed to do so. Whatever happened is not your fault." He replied.
"But marriages are between two people right? If Virat agreed to it then I did to. And what you see in front of you is the proof of that. This sindoor and this mangalsutra are the proof of my suhaag." She pointed to her forehead and then pulled out her necklace.
Virat stood still, surprised that Maanvi was actually defending him. He wanted to thank her but the situation was such that he couldn't.
"Tik hai, beta. Whatever you say. Though I agree to this marriage because it was what we wanted to happen, I won't forgive Virat for his foolishness which nearly killed Viren and Jeevika." He ordered. Swamini nodded in agreement.
"But Bauji, what happened has happened. And now, Virat had put everything right." Vanshika stepped in, not wanting her son to be left in limbo. On one hand there was Viren who was right and then there was Virat whose every steps were wrong. But even she could not allow bad to happen to the other.
"Wounds can heal but the scar will always remain, Vanshika. Whatever Virat did, he will have to repent for it." He said. A tear fell down the eyes of the disheartened mother.
Swamini sighed. "Anyway, what happened had happened. We can't let Maanvi get hurt for it." She looked at Maanvi. "Come on, you are our bahu now. I'll take you to your room." Maanvi gave her a slow nod as she started to walk.
"Ek minute Buaji!" Jeevika called out, limping whilst holding a taali. Behind her Viren came in with Avantika, a maid. Swamini, Vanshika and the Earl looked at them confused.
"Jeevika, what is all this?" Swamini asked.
"It's not right for the bride to come in without performing the rituals." Jeevika explained as Avantika placed the vessel of rice on the front.
Swamini nodded as Jeevika gave Vanshika the thaali. Vanshika stood in front of Virat and Maanvi as she placed a tika on their forehead and blessed them. She told Maanvi to slowly kick the vessel with her right foot as she walked in. Maanvi did as she was told as Virat walked besides her. She then dipped her feet in red water and walked into the Palace. Virat watched Maanvi as she walked, her tiny feet making tiny footprints. He found himself smiling, somewhat admiring her.
After the rituals were done, Maanvi stood near Virat as they walked towards the Earl and leant down to get his blessings. He blessed the couple, but more so Maanvi. "Have a long life, beta." He whispered. Maanvi smiled as Swamini did the same, except she had refused to look Virat in the eye. He became dejected but accepted his fate. They walked to Vanshika and leant down, however the Queen stopped them and brought them up, "My blessings are always with you." She said.
Jeevika smiled to her husband, who was grinning. "Doesn't this bring you back memories?" She asked him. She sighed.
"What happened? Having the urge to take our marriage vows again?" He smirked, whispering back.
Jeevika laughed softly. "Yes yes. Mock me why don't you? And anyway, isn't this what you want too?"
He hummed. "Maybe." He laughed along with her. They watched as the couples were blessed, smiling at them.
"Looks like they have a happy ending." Jeevika whispered.
Viren shook his head. "Nope, my dear wife." He placed his arm around her shoulder and brought her closer. "Because this is just the beginning."