Part Three

Stavros had insisted upon a traditional ancient Russian Orthodox ceremony, complete with all the pomp and ceremony that a week's notice could supply. Indeed, if it had not been for the substantial Cassadine family coffers providing the incentive, Stefan was doubtful that even his older brother's powers of persuasion would have been sufficient to accomplish all that had been done.

By the time the official invitations had been delivered to Stefan, Alexis, Nikolas, and Andresj', less than three days remained before the ceremony uniting Prince Stavros and his new bride, Alexandra. Stefan's hasty inquiries throughout Europe had returned unanswered. Whatever Stavros' reasons for the marriage, they were his and his alone.

Correction, Stefan thought. Helena's as well. Stavros would not have made so bold a move without at least their mother's knowledge. And if it was truly his brother's desire to take a bride, then it would be with their mother's blessing as well. It was common knowledge that Helena could deny Stavros nothing.

And so it was three days later that the entire family stood united as Alexandra Brooks DiMera wed Stavros Nikolai Mikkosovich Cassadine and became the Princess Cassadine.

Stefan Cassadine felt his admiration grow for his soon-to-be sister. He had no doubt that if he and the others were feeling totally upended by Stavros' surprise nuptials, then Alexandra's equilibrium must have been upset several times over. Stefan suspected that the beautiful young woman was not as enthused by the prospect of marriage to his older brother as Stavros claimed. But she sailed through the traditional marriage ceremony with aplomb and dignity.

Alexandra's face, expressionless through the entire ceremony, did not change even during the most demeaning portion of the traditional wedding - the presentation of the derzhava , or whip. Rarely used in modern times because of its degrading tones, the practice involved the presentation of a whip from the father of the bride to her new husband. The transfer indicated that all authority formerly exerted over the young woman by her father was now given into the hands of her husband.

Ceremonial or not, there was no one present who doubted Stavros' absolute belief in the concept. It was evident in the arrogance with which he accepted the whip from an uncomfortable Stefano DiMera. Still, Stefan hoped fervently, his brother's subsequent actions might indicate progress. For after accepting the symbolic item, Stavros placed it in his tunic sash and expressed to his bride the hope that he would not encounter a use for it'.

With those words, the ceremony was ended and the feasting began.