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See How They Shine

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“And there’s Capricornus.”

You followed Jennie’s arm, extended far beyond your own nose, and narrowed your eyes. You spotted the constellation after a moment of glaring at the sky and smiled.

“You sure do love that one.”

“Well, yeah,” she snorted, rolling her head to the side to look at you. “It’s my star sign; of course I love it.” You gazed back at her, your faces only inches apart, and offered a wink as your only response. She shoved your face away with a huff. You laughed, laying your head back onto the blanket.

The two of you lay on a hill, blanket sprawled haphazardly beneath your bodies, gazing at the sky like a pair of kids. You’d done this countless times—always in the fall because it gifted you with the clearest skies and most neutral weather of every season. You yourself loved the light breeze that accompanied the night. Jennie loved how the trees swayed with the breeze that you adored. You’d picked this hill more than five years ago, while you were only acquaintances, and sat together atop it one night in a futile bid to get away from the responsibilities of adulthood.

There had been many times since where you’d lost yourself in the sky. Looking at the stars reminded you of a tapestry you had once seen; with swathes of deep indigo, interrupted by patches of white and yellow that were meant to be stars, all hanging over deep greens and endless pastel colors, dipping below the rise of a hill just like the one you sat upon. Jennie liked to compare your boundless wonder to that of a child. She’d told you countless times before, but she loved how you seemed to bounce ideas around in your head no matter the time of day. She loved that spark you’d retained against all the world had thrown at you. “It’s special,” she had told you one particularly chilly night when you had just started to realize you had a crush on her. “You have that imagination that most people lose by the time they’re adults.” You’d hidden your smile in the windbreaker of your jacket, feeling the breeze ruffle your hair as Jennie did the same. She never stopped being proud of you, even when you stopped taking pride in who you were.

Amidst the many discussions you’d had together on that hill—about life, love, family, boys, girls, general gossip, and everything in between—you asked her one night, after a stretch of comfortable silence, to be your girlfriend on the first anniversary of the day you found the hill. At first, she didn’t respond—and you were worried. She sat cross legged next to you, with her head hanging low and hair curtained around her face. You’d just been about to rescind the question when she wrapped her arms around your neck. You weren’t caught off-guard by the hug; no, she’d done that many times before, often for no reason. You were almost frightened by the soft crying that radiated from her body and made her shoulders shake in a pitiable way. She’d managed to choke out a “Yes,” between her tears, and you hugged her back, hiding your face in her shoulder in a failed attempt to hold back your own.

And there you lay—in the same spot, four years later.

Jennie had met you, dragged you out to a hill, and gotten to know you through the words and stories exchanged there. She absorbed everything you said, always listening with the utmost respect. There were times when you couldn’t help but be awed by her insatiable desire to just know. Jennie loved to learn—mostly about you. Sometimes, in the mornings after a long night of looking at the sky and having conversations about nothing, she would join you for breakfast and tell you random things about you that she adored; things she noticed during your talks that she found endearing or sometimes confusing. She would take these observations with her, wherever she went, and keep them close to her heart. By this point in time, she had all of you memorized and you knew it. Her hand finding yours was instinct. Her ability to read you was an art that she mastered long before your relationship even began.

Sometimes you really couldn’t believe how much she loved you and you loved her. There were days where you were sure you would spend eternity with this girl you met in Seoul, South Korea, five years, three months, and eighteen days ago. Every day, you’re more and more certain of it.

I want to marry her, you think with the loveliest swell of happiness in your chest.

“Y/N?”

You shifted your head to look into Jennie’s eyes. They were wistful, almost like she was thinking the same thing. “Yeah?”

“You didn’t answer my question,” she said with a lopsided smile. Her eyes searched your face quietly as you searched for an adequate response. You made a small noise of confusion—until you vaguely remembered her asking if you could see your own star sign. You smiled sheepishly.

“Sorry, I was just thinking,” you replied. Your eyes remained locked on hers, and you thought to yourself that no matter how many times you went on these silly fieldtrips with her, the sky would never compare to the stars you saw in her eyes.

“About what?” Her voice reminded you of a soft melody from your childhood that you couldn’t quite recall.

“You.”

Jennie watched you for a moment, eyes wide. You could see the blush overtake her cheeks, despite the fact that the night had painted everything in shades of blue and grey. Her smile formed slowly, akin to the moon when it rose, and eventually she was grinning at you.

“You’re such a sap,” she teased. You scoffed and punched her in the shoulder, lips turned up in the beginnings of a laugh.

“Says the one who suggested we go stargazing all those years ago,” you retorted.

“You’re the one who asked me out under a full moon, Y/N.” She got you there. You buried your face in your hands as you groaned in the back of your throat.

“Please don’t bring up how gross I was that night,” you pleaded, flinging an arm out for her to catch. “That was over the top, even for me.”

It took her a moment to respond, and you thought that perhaps she hadn’t heard you. In fact, she was so quiet that if you hadn’t lifted a finger to peek at her gorgeous profile you might have just assumed she’d vanished.

“Why wouldn’t I want to bring up the greatest night of my life?” Jennie’s voice was suddenly soft, and uncharacteristically shy. Your head snapped to the side, eyes slightly wide and your brows arched in surprise. You watched her face, or at least the half that you could see. Her eyes seemed to be searching the sky for the answer to a question she hadn’t asked yet. And you, with your tendency to hear Jennie’s voice as more of a song than spoken word, waited with bated breath to hear it.

“My whole life, Y/N. All of it, has been dedicated to myself. Even when I didn’t want it to be.”

You grabbed her hand and laced your fingers with hers, weaving patterns neither of you had known existed until that moment. You felt her squeeze your hand as she continued.

“I was told I could grow up to be who I wanted. I believed it, so I tried to be everything. And when I found that I wanted to do this,” she uttered, referencing Blackpink, “for the rest of my life, I chose to pursue something. But then, being a trainee was more than I thought it would be. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, friends and teachers praising your every move and applauding you even when you don’t deserve it. It’s exhaustion, and aches in your muscles every morning—feeling disappointment when your performances are less than perfect or when you gain a kilo. Hearing the whispers of who got cut as you approach the next deadline. Fearing all of your work will be for nothing.”

There was nothing you felt you could say, so rather than interrupt her, you began to lightly drag your thumb over her knuckles. It was one of her favorite things that you did. Sometimes she didn’t need a hug or a kiss, not sex or incessant cuddling. There were times where all she wanted from you was to remind her that you were there with her. You knew that she needed it, some days. She exhaled slowly.

“There were times I felt like I was doing it for them. Doing it for the managers and the evaluations, to impress others and be proud of my numbers when it was all said and done. That wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to be able to dedicate at least some of my time to others—to friends and family. So, when I finally debuted, and there were hundreds of thousands of people supporting us, I thought I could do that more.”

You smiled wide. “You’re a sweetheart,” you whispered into her ear. She rolled to face you, laying her free hand on the dip of your waist and playing innocently with the hem of your shirt.

“I’m not done,” she pouted, flashing her lip at you.

“My bad,” you spoke through a toothy grin. “Go on.”

Jennie sulked for a moment longer, somehow managing to make herself seem even more adorable to you, before she became thoughtful. “I love being a part of this group. It makes me happy to make other people happy. But I also love this group because it led me to you.”

Your heart nearly stopped—Lord, and she thinks I’m the sappy one? —and you scanned Jennie’s face. She was never one to be very outwardly emotional. Not often, anyway. Back when things were platonic between the two of you, she rarely needed a shoulder to cry on. It was why, like most people, you assumed she was the leader of Blackpink. She was stoic, mature, collected, and just so very Jennie. Rarely ever did that mask of hers crack. But when you started dating, she had begun to lean on you as an emotional crutch. You didn’t mind one bit. It wasn’t like she suddenly became a blubbering mess every time someone said they didn’t like her hair, but she did open more of her heart to you. But now, with her laying inches away, hands connected like a lifeline and her fingers tracing patterns over the cotton of your shirt, it felt like she wasn’t just opening her heart to you; she was handing it to you on a silver platter.

“All my life I’ve been doing things for myself. I became an idol for myself. But you showed up and suddenly everything I did had another motivation behind it. Even the simplest things; cooking, cleaning, watching movies, even just thinking. Even when I performed, I knew in the back of my mind that it wasn’t just for me anymore.” Jennie sniffled, blinking back tears as you belatedly realized that you yourself were crying. She reached up and brushed a tear away, hand resting tenderly on your cheek. “That night, when you asked me the question that led us to where we are now, was when I realized that I wanted to do it—everything—for you. I knew I loved you even before you asked,” she murmured, “and when I agreed to be with you, I said ‘yes’ to a lot of things, Y/N.”

A watery laugh escaped you, punctuated with an involuntary half sob. “Like what?”

Well,” Jennie mused, “I said yes to meeting your family. I said yes to going abroad with you. I said yes, every time you asked, to going to amusement parks.” You giggled at that. “I said yes to every date, every gift I received, every gift I gave, and I said yes to every moment spent with the most amazing woman I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.”

You couldn’t help but weep just a bit harder. You wondered if your cries sounded just as bittersweet to Jennie as they did to your own ears. She just kept speaking, pressing your foreheads together as she did. Her hand was still resting on your cheek, and you laid your own on top of it just to have something to hold onto other than the fabric of her shirt.

“Y/N, I want you to know something.” Jennie’s voice had hardened a bit, which to you sounded so different from her voice not five seconds ago that it was almost jarring. Your eyes were wide open and watching her intently in an instant. “This? What we have? Was the best decision I’ve ever made. But I wasn’t the only one who chose this. We both did. All of this is because of the two of us—because you asked the question and I said yes.”

And suddenly, through all the tears, confessions, and gentle caresses, you knew exactly where this conversation was going.

“This time, I’m the one asking the question.”

The ring was gorgeous and reminded you of the relationship you had with the girl who was offering it to you. The silver band twisted around itself in a dance that was reminiscent of all those you had shared with her in your kitchen on Sunday mornings. The diamonds were set few and far between like the quiet moments of your day to day lives. The sterling silver reflected what little illumination there was around you with a brilliance that brought to mind the most wonderful smile you had ever seen. And, at the center of it all, was the stone that represented the woman who loved you through everything. She pinched it delicately between her fingers, smiling at you like you had given her the world.

“I had a whole other half of that speech to give, but I don’t want to waste any more time,” she murmured, voice unsteady. “You’re amazing. Respectful, kind, patient, and everything in between. You’ve given me so much more than I thought could come from one person. More than that, you gave me the strength I needed to be able to give it all back to you in equal measure. I want to dedicate my life to you. Y/N L/N,” she paused, clearly struggling against her own nerves. “If you’ll have me, I want to be your wife. Will you marry me?”

You couldn’t help but smile at the way things had come full circle. Your mind wandered to every breakfast cooked for you when you overslept, every note left on the bedroom door before you went to work, and every evening spent watching sunsets that paled in comparison to the woman who stood beside you on your balcony. You had never been more grateful for anything than you were for her.

“You know my answer, Jennie Kim,” you joked. Despite how much you had already cried, there were fresh tears carving new paths down your cheeks and over the swell of your nose. Jennie flashed you a cheeky smirk and pulled you into a lopsided hug.

“Yeah, I do. But I want to hear you say it. For the sake of remembering this.” Her voice was barely above a whisper. You sighed, feigning exasperation.

“Yes.” With your head buried in her shoulder, you sighed unevenly as another sob wracked your body. Despite that, your face was split with the widest, happiest grin of your life. “Of course I’ll marry you.”

When she slipped the ring onto your finger, it felt like the last piece of the puzzle had finally found its way to where it belonged. It felt like the first morning spent in your cozy apartment drinking coffee, laughing about nothing and knowing that’s what you wanted until the day you died. It felt like coming home.