Anne was seriously contemplating murder and the only thing that kept her from doing it was the fact that it was her sister’s wedding. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for her older sister, and that awful dress she was wearing was proof enough. For a brief instance, Anne had hoped that this was it, but no. Her sister’s seating plan was a cruel joke. Richard was seated at the same table - and even worse, he sat right opposite to her, constantly watching her, freaking her out. She hated everyone and everything right now, from her father to her mother who just let the man talk and talk and talk. Seriously, would he ever stop? Apparently not.
She sighed, her eyes wandering to the small wrist watch she just couldn’t be parted from. Was it acceptable to leave your sister's wedding that early? Probably not, damnit. All she wanted was her bed, a book and a cup of tea, but what she got was a father who was disgustingly happy about this marriage, as he was - once again - proclaiming vigorously. Yes, she got it, everyone else did too. Richard Neville was over the moon that his daughter Isabel had married George York.
It wasn’t that Anne wasn’t happy for Isabel too, the problem had black curls and was - once again - trying, and failing, to inconspicuously look at her. “You got a problem?” she hissed under her breath. Whatever reaction she’d been expecting, it wasn’t what he was giving her. The Richard she was used to would blush and cast his eyes down to the ground, but this Richard raised one of his eyebrows and cocked his head slightly.
“You look like you don’t want to be here.”
“It’s my sister’s wedding, of course I want to be here. Now, mind your own business, I want to listen to my dad’s speech.”
“You haven’t been listening for the last three minutes.”
Crap. Only three goddamn minutes? It had certainly felt like more.
He chuckled, but actually obeyed her order. Maybe she wouldn’t kill him, at least not now. In the meantime, her father had - finally - concluded his speech and was now embracing the air out of George and Isabel’s lungs. Their dad had been walking on cloud nine ever since George had asked him for Isabel’s hand. He could die happy now, knowing that his eldest daughter had married one of his late best friend’s sons.
Anne watched her older sister and a pang of nostalgia hit her. The girl who’d slouched with her on the couch every Sunday morning, proudly sporting the ugliest pyjamas ever, was no longer there. Izzie looked like a fairy with her dark hair and fair skin. And George looked like he’d just hopped out of a L’Oréal commercial. A grin crept over her lips as she thought of one of George’s aunts, who’d unceremoniously announced that they would make the most beautiful children together. In the church. So loud everyone heard. It had been one of her personal highlights.
There were more speeches, more tears, more hugs and more complaints about waterproof make-up not doing its job. Anne was beyond relieved when Isabel and George opened the dancefloor. She enjoyed weddings as such, but she didn’t really enjoy the fact that Richard was now...family...ugh.
“So...uh...you wanna dance?” Anne's eyes shot up to his face before they dropped to the hand he held outstretched as an invitation to join him.
“No, I actually asked you to dance with Edward. I don’t think you’d enjoy that, though. He’s a terrible dancer, you can ask Elsie.” Richard grinned, jerking his head towards his older brother and his wife.
“I’ve heard his ‘Saturday-night-fever-dance’ seeks its equal.”
Richard laughed and Anne couldn’t deny the fact that she liked the sound. Very much. Too much.
“Now, do you want to dance? With me?”
Oh well, it couldn’t hurt.
“If you step on my foot, you’ll have to protect your private parts.”
“Don’t worry, Annie, I actually went to the dance classes mum wanted us to attend,” he smirked, whisking her off to the dancefloor before she could kick his shin for having called her Annie.
“Here you are.” Anne approached her new brother-in-law and the still present part of his family. Edward and Elizabeth discussed something with Edmund. Richard looked amused, listening to his sister Meg and her husband Charles, whilst George bounced little Bessie on his back. “Eeeeeyyy, little Annie!” Edward grinned, waving his hand to make her join them. It was so late that the men had already discarded their ties and opened the collars of their shirts. They looked like business majors after a long day of ruining other people’s lives and being way too happy about it. God, did Anne hate business majors. She muttered a quick thank you for the fact that they were lawyers.
“Stop calling her ‘little Annie’, Ned. She might be younger than you are, but boy if someone’s a child here, it’s you!” Meg snickered at her brother’s startled expression. It had been so good to see Meg again. If only Belgium wasn’t on the other side of the channel...but as long as her friend was happy there, Anne didn’t mind their communication being limited to texts and occasional phone calls. They’d been inseparable when they were girls. Well, they weren’t girls anymore and Meg was a married mother, but they still got along well and Anne could always count on having a place to sleep - should she ever decide to go on a trip to Antwerp.
“Tell me you don’t plan on leaving already?” Anne hugged Meg quickly before looking around.
“We have to. No one tells you that you have to leave the fun early when you’ve got a family”, Edward grinned, gently patting the back of his youngest daughter, whilst his wife shook her head.
“As much as I hate to agree with my older brother, he’s right. But the Sunday brunch is still a thing, right?”
“Sure thing”, Anne nodded and Elizabeth raised her thumb.
“What about you, Lu?”
“I’m in. Edmund can look after John, right, amore?” Edmund’s wife raised her eyebrows, and Edmund knew that he had no say in that matter.
“Well, then it’s settled,” Anne clapped her hand in excitement. “Oh, by the way...where’s Izzie?” She looked around, trying to find the actual reason for her wandering the halls.
George froze and muttered something that suspiciously sounded like “shoot” before he carefully put Bessie back on the ground. “Not even married for a day and already lost the missus, eh? And don’t flip the finger at me, there are children present!” Edward’s laughter echoed through the hall, as George quickly lowered his raised hands (in fact, he had wanted to flip both of his middle fingers at his brother) before racing off to find his wife.
“He could’ve asked me...I would’ve told him that he’s heading into the wrong direction.” Elizabeth shrugged and more laughter echoed through the halls. “She was actually trying to find someone to take your parents home, Anne. Your uncle already took off with the car and forgot them. We were waiting for her to come back to say goodbye.”
Anne groaned. This family was a mess. A part of her was glad, though. Her uncle John was a terrible driver and the thought of her parents being in the same car with him had left her a little uneasy all day. Her father had insisted on it, with his broken wrist (golf, so she had learnt, was a dangerous sport when you had a temper like Richard Neville), he was still unable to drive and her mother hated driving in the dark.
“I’m sorry guys! But the matter has been solved, mum and dad are on their way back home...and uncle John is not the driver. It’s a win-win.” Isabel grinned, hugging her sister close to her before she gently tucked a stray strand of Anne’s hair behind her ear. “So who’s the innocent soul that’s to suffer a whole hour with mum and dad in their car?” Isabel snorted, nuding Anne with her hip.
“Well, aunt Alice was so nice and…”
“What? She was supposed to take me home?!”
“I’m sorry, Annie. I didn’t know that. I saw her getting ready to leave and shoved mum and dad at her. Really, I’m sorry.” Isabel bit her lip, before her face lit up. “Maybe one of you could take Anne back home?”
Anne’s heart stopped as she heard the voice she didn’t want to hear speak up first.
“I’ll take her home.”
Richard fucking York.
No. fucking. way.