and another thing, 2023
“Héloïse, why aren’t you and maman married?”
The question should not be too surprising, what with Louis’ upcoming wedding and Nico finally deciding to tie the knot with Chloé earlier in the year.
“I-” still, she finds herself searching for an answer. “You know what Théo, that’s a good question. I should probably discuss that with your mother.”
“Mhm,” Théo nods, a sneaky little smile on his face.
“I think your son has opinions on us living in sin,” is how she brings it up later that night, after they’ve put said son to bed, and have curled up in their own with a book and a crossword, respectively.
“He has what now?” Marianne scrunches her nose, looking extra adorable when her glasses slips down a little.
“He asked me why we aren’t married. And I didn’t really know what to answer to be honest.” Héloïse puts her book on the nightstand and turns over on her side, facing Marianne.
“Yeah, good answer. I somehow doubt that marriage is a patriarchal institution forced upon us by millennia of oppression, economic alliances and guilt would go down well with a romantic nine year-old.”
“So do I.”
“Would you, though? Want to get married?”
Héloïse goes quiet, running the thought through all the winding corners of her mind. Marianne waits patiently, curling up next to her, with her head in the crook of her neck, tangling and untangling their fingers, until Héloïse holds their hands steady, as if to say that she’s done organising her thoughts now.
“Why is this scary to talk about?” she asks. “I’ve known you forever, we share a house, a life, kids..”
“Because expectations and traditions?” Marianne asks back.
“Yeah,” Héloïse agrees, her voice smaller than before. Then, “I love you”.
“And I don’t need to be married to you to be sure of that. But I also wouldn’t mind. It just..”
She swallows, waits for another batch of words to gain structure.
“I might sound like the least romantic person in the world now, but I’m good. We’re good, right? The only reason for me to get it on paper is literally just that. To have it on paper. In case something ever happens to one of us.”
“You’re not the least romantic person in the world. Quite the opposite, in my opinion,” Marianne says, scooting even closer and planting a kiss on her cheek. “We could also just pop by the mairie one of these days. To get it on paper. And to be a part of a statistic that will bug at least some conservatives.”
“You want to get married to spite ass backwards idiots?” Héloïse has to hold back a laugh.
“Hell yeah. Also, because I love you, and it’s a good reason to have a party.”
“I’m not wearing a dress though,” she blurts out, because she needs to say something that might slow down the speed of this conversation, even just by a little bit.
“Good. Neither am I.”
“Nope. I’m thinking nice pants and a shirt. Or that flowy white top you like.”
“I do like that top.”
“I like taking it off of you even more though.”
“Héloïse. Don’t change the subject.”
“Don’t bring up the top. You know it gets to my head.”
“Fine, I won’t.”
Héloïse lets out a disappointed sigh, flipping her pillow over to get the cold side. “But, are we having this conversation, are we doing this? Really?”
“Why the heck not. But can we just.. not make it a thing? I’d much rather have a party some other time, when I think of it. Not because I don’t want to shout from the rooftops that I’ve called dibs on you forever and ever, just.. I don’t know.” Marianne swallows, and Héloïse understands, reaches for her hand. “It was just such a big deal, last time. So much trying, and it just.. felt weird. Not wrong but weird. Like, all the hullabaloo, the effort to make it a big thing – it shouldn’t have to be so complicated.”
“I know, and I agree. We can keep the ceremony small. Just us, and the kids, and the witnesses.”
Marianne smiles at her, an arm sneaking around her waist under the duvet, pulling her a wee bit closer. “If we ask Matt and Nico to be witnesses, we can also ask them to babysit. Just for the night,” she points out.
“I like how you’re thinking.” Héloïse pushes herself up a little, and Marianne mirrors her movements, rolling fully onto her back. And as if to underline that very thought, their lips are millimetres apart when a sob makes its way through the slightly open door of what used to be a tiny home office, through the corridor and into the also slightly open door of their bedroom.
Héloïse flops down like a pancake. Marianne lets out a soft oooof sound, then starts to giggle.
“I’ll go,” Héloïse sighs, scrambling out from the warm nest of duvet and into Marianne’s dressing gown and whichever pair of slippers is closest to the bed. They’re too small, so probably not hers. Whatever.
The light is out but Marianne is still awake when she returns five minutes later, with a tiny passenger in passed down dino pajamas sniffling on her shoulder.
“I know we said she should sleep in her own bed now, but-”
“Meh,” Marianne mumbles, lifting the duvet to make room for Amélie who immediately curls up like a ball next to her, mumbling something incomprehensible. “As long as we can hand her over to the uncles for a day or two if we actually get married, I’m good. Also, we will miss this when she’s a grouchy teenager.”
“You said if we get married. I say when,” Héloïse points out, wiggling around to get comfortable.
It’s not pitch black, neither of them has ever felt the need to draw blinds except for in the middle of summer, and she can see Marianne’s eyes softening. “Okay, when,” she agrees. “But no dresses.”
“No dresses. And no hullabaloo.”
“I’m calling dibs on you forever.” Marianne smiles completely unrestricted, and Héloïse scoots up to kiss her, slumbering kid between them be damned.
The sleepy quiet is just about to settle, when Marianne whispers. “Wanna bet that Théo will be the most well dressed out of everyone present?”
“Of all the things he and my father could possibly bond over, they chose bowties ,” Héloïse grumps. Then. “Oh god maman will kill me if we get married in secret.”
“Don’t be dramatic, I know you secretly think that’s a bonus.”