Chapter 3 - Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Franklin Pierce

She ran to him dressed in her white gown, her veil blowing in the wind. He ran toward her dressed in his tuxedo. Her bridegroom! He took her in his arms and twirled her around. She closed her eyes and enjoyed his kiss. When she opened her eyes she broke away in horror. A bloody skeleton stood where he had been. The skeleton that was clad in a US Army uniform opened its mouth and laughed.

"Margaret! Wake up! You're having a bad dream!" Lorraine shook her gently.

"Oh...oh..." Margaret was breathing hard and sweating. "I dreamed we were in our wedding clothes and suddenly he disappeared and there was...it...was horrible."

"It was only a dream...go back to sleep. It's still dark out."

"I think I'll take a walk instead."

Margaret put her coat on over her robe and opened the front door as quietly as she could. The house was full of guests and she didn't want to wake anyone.

She made her way down to the beach. The beach had become her favorite place to come in the morning and watch the sunrise. She understood why Hawkeye said it was the most magnificent sight on earth. He was right...it was.

She hoped that walking in the cool crisp air and looking out over the ocean would shake the horrid images of her dream from her mind.

There was another person on the beach. She looked at her watch in the moonlight. It was two o'clock in the morning. He turned and smiled, saying, "You couldn't sleep either, huh?"

"No, another nightmare...you?" she asked.

"Yeah, me too.... Come here, Miss Houlihan. You've turned my nightmares into a dream come true." He took her in his arms and kissed her. "Soon you'll be Mrs. Pierce." They stood on the beach for a time holding each other until Margaret shivered.

Hawkeye opened one eye to see the face of Erin Hunnicutt directly in front of him. She held his cheeks with her two little hands and kissed him on the nose. Behind him he heard riotous laughter. He looked around to see the Hunnicutts, the Potters, his dad and the O'Reilly's standing behind the couch watching the scene.

"That's quite a touching little scenario," laughed Sherman.

Margaret woke up on the couch beside Hawkeye. "What's going on," she asked groggily.

"Oh nothing, dear, just another Hunnicutt 'haha'." Hawkeye picked Erin up and sat her on his lap and kissed her nose. She giggled. "I guess we fell asleep on the couch when we came back in. What time is it?" he asked.

"It's ten o'clock...just a few hours until hitchin' time," said Sherman.

Daniel said, "We need for you two sleepyheads to move so we can turn this front room into a wedding chapel."

"Daniel!" called Rose Houlihan from kitchen. "Could I see you a moment."

Daniel rolled his eyes, shook his fist and said, "If you all will excuse me. That woman is driving me crazy!"

"I've never seen you look lovelier," said Sherman as he held out his arm for Margaret.

She leaned over and kissed him, "You dear sweet man. Thank you for being part of this day."

BJ and Lorraine were walking down the aisle. BJ was carrying Erin who, when she saw all the people became frightened and tearfully refused move. She was now happily throwing red rose petals and yelling "Weeeee!" from the safe confines of her daddy's arms.

Honoria Winchester, who was an accomplished violinist, began to play the Wedding March. She was accompanied on the piano by Crabapple Cove's own switchboard operator Mary Jo Ryan. The guests stood in anticipation of the bride.

"Well, my dear, they're playing our song!"

The Pierce's huge front room was full of people. Margaret was sure all of Crabapple Cove's population was crammed into the room. She held tightly to Sherman's arm, grateful for his fatherly presence.

From under her veil, Margaret saw Hawkeye standing between Father Mulcahy and BJ. She could scarcely believe she was marrying that unruly Captain Pierce she'd met nearly four years ago.

"Aw lay off, Frank..."

Frank continued to harangue, "Your conduct in there was not only unbecoming an officer it was equally reprehensible as a medical man."

"Frank, I happen to be an officer only because I foolishly opened an invitation from President Truman to come to this costume party. And as for my ability as a doctor, if you seriously question that I'll just have to challenge you to a duel."

"What's the pistol?" asked Trapper John.

"I'm thinking of specimen bottles at twenty paces," said Hawkeye.

Frank retorted, "There are ladies present."

"Oh sorry, Baby."

"That's Major to you," Margaret had replied.

"Right, sorry, Major Baby!"

Margaret grinned. Things had certainly changed between them!

Hawkeye watched his bride coming down the aisle on the arm of their former CO. Even under her veil Hawkeye could see the wide smile that lit up his world.

"You look great, Margaret," said Hawkeye.

"Oooh," she said rubbing her finger across her teeth. "I wish I had my toothbrush. If I don't keep my teeth polished they get positively dim!"

"You have the whitest teeth I've ever seen."

"Oh..uh...I always thought they were my weak point."

"Margaret, you could read by your teeth."

Margaret and Sherman now stood beside Hawkeye. Sherman lifted Margaret's veil and kissed her cheek. "Have a good life, Margaret," he whispered softly. She smiled and brushed a tear from his cheek.

Sherman took his seat beside Mildred who, true to form, was crying. To her right sat Rose Houlihan, matching her tear for tear.

Hawkeye gently took Margaret's hand in both of his and kissed it before they turned to face Father Mulcahy hand in hand.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered today in the presence of God to witness the union of Dr. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce to Miss Margaret Elizabeth Houlihan. It's not often I have the privilege of joining two of my dearest friends in holy matrimony..."

"We did it!" said Margaret.

"My lips are sealed," Hawkeye said, eyes closed under his helmet.

"Do you suppose there are snipers out there?"

"If they're good union snipers they are."

She sighed and brought her blanket up around her chin. He opened one eye and saw that her tough major exterior was giving way to frightened woman in a war zone. He moved closer and put the corner of his blanket over her. She moved closer to him and felt safe.

"I want you to know chivalry isn't dead, it's just been replaced by exhaustion," he said.

"Good night, Captain."

"Good night, Major."

"Do you, Margaret Elizabeth Houlihan, take Benjamin Franklin Pierce as your lawfully wedded husband to have and to hold, to love honor and cherish from this day forward as long as you both shall live?"

"Margaret, I came to level with you. I don't think anything can come of it because we're so different but something happened to us out there; both of us. Maybe we cared for each other a little bit more than either of us would like. I don't see why we can't own up to that. We might even get to be friends."

"I do."

"And do you, Benjamin Franklin Pierce take Margaret Elizabeth Houlihan as your lawfully wedded wife to have and to hold...

"Boy," exclaimed Hawkeye, "I show you a little appreciation and you hit the roof. What do you want from me?"

"Respect," said Margaret. "Simple respect. I expect nothing more and I'll accept nothing less."

"I do."

"By the power vested in me I now pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss your bride....

"I present to you Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin Franklin Pierce!" Father Mulcahy's voice rang out. "Um...Hawkeye? You may stop kissing your bride...Hawkeye? Margaret? Ahem...oh dear...."

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