Aline stood, already trembling in anticipation and utter joy. Today was her and Helen’s two year anniversary, and she had been in a flurry of preparations. Her siblings-in-law had been infinitely helpful in assisting her, and now everything was in perfect place. All she had to do was get Helen and then everything would be golden. Pulling out the gift she had chosen, Aline shoved down the nervous butterflies in her stomach and exited her bedroom, feet clicking on the stone of the Institute as she made her way to Emma’s room, where Helen was waiting.
Helen stood, shaking out her arms to calm the adrenaline running like fire through her veins. Turning to Julian and Emma, both who offered her encouraging smile and a nod. When the knock on the door came, Helen practically ran to answer it and grinned as bright as the sun when she saw Aline on the other side. “Hello my love. Are you ready?” Aline inquired, extending her hand to Helen. “I’m always ready.” Helen replied, taking Aline’s hand and positively shining. They both turned, laughing happily, and disappeared down the halls. Julian, also exuding joy, turned to Emma. “Well, it seems that they’re happy. And Kit and Ty are taking care of the kids. So, we’re free. What would you like to do, Em?”
“I don’t care. As long as I’m with you, It’s sure to be fun.” Julian grinned at this, leaned in, and kissed her.
Ty smiled, dropping a bit of flour onto Kit’s nose. Given the job of looking after the younger ones, they had agreed that baking would be a good option. Now, the best type of chaos had descended. Tavvy was sitting on the floor, surrounded by flour, and making shapes in the powdery white stuff, and smiling a toothy smile the entire time. “Look! Ty! I made a cat!” he called up to his brother, proud of his work. “I see that Tavvy! And it’s a very good drawing of a cat. You have executed it very well for someone your age.” Tavvy, grinning, went back to his drawing. Dru was fully throwing herself into the baking, and opened the oven to pull out a tray of cookies, emitting a glorious smell of melted chocolate and homey warmth. Livvy was helping Dru, laughing at her little sister’s jokes and teaching her how to knead the cookie dough. All of a sudden, the kitchen went up in a puff of white. Dru had knocked over the flour bag, which had been sitting precariously on the table. “Don’t worry Dru, it’s ok. I do sometimes think that you all are going to be the death of me, or tire of me. But then again, if you’re going to be the death of me that is how I’d want to go.” Ty said, bending down to pick up the now-empty bag. Kit, smiling and kissing Ty, also bent down and began to clean up the mess. “As long as I’m with you, Ty, I am so unbelievably happy. I will never tire of you. Ever. And that’s final.”
The waves crashed gently on the beach, fading and receding. The sun was bright in the sky, and the air was filled with lazy wonder. Aline and Helen were stretched out, side by side on a blanket on the sand. Laughing and playing with each other’s hair, they stopped for only a minute to wonder how they had gotten so lucky. How they had managed to beat the challenges and climb the mountains, to end up here, right in a little paradise. “Helen?” Aline said, propping herself up on one shoulder and turning to face Helen. “What is it? What is happening.” Helen answered, also propping herself up. “Well, since it is our anniversary, I have bought you a gift. In the hope that whenever you use it, you will think of me. Aline, reaching inside her pack, pulled out a gorgeous silver and aquamarine dagger and placed it gently in Helen’s waiting hands. “Oh my god, Aline. Thank you so much! It’s gorgeous. Just like you.”
And with that, their lips met in a gentle kiss. One that said everything that ever needed to be said. After a few moments, they pulled apart and hugged each other close. Soon after, Aline drifted off into a nap, snuggling into Helen’s arms. Helen, smiling gently, gently brushed her love’s dark hair off her face. “Oh Aline. I hope to whichever god is listening that you know how much I love you. How I would burn the world just to see you smile. How I will go to the ends of the earth and beyond to stay by your side.” Helen murmured, stretching out beside Aline and closing her eyes as well. It took Helen a few seconds to discern the fact that Aline was murmuring something as well. Listening closely, Helen could only make out the phrase “I love you so much Helen. And as long as I’m with you, I could never be sad.” before Aline drifted off again. Helen, smiling with love and joy, closed her eyes and drifted off beside the love of her life.