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she lifted up her wings

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If Dani has learned anything from co-owning a flower shop, it’s that putting together arrangements is, at the very least, a great way to keep herself busy. Not that it doesn’t need doing, when they’ve got orders to deliver and shelves to fill and customers to satisfy. But over the years, she’s found arranging flowers to be, at best, a meditative creative exercise, and at worst… a solid means of distracting herself from how much she’s missing her wife.

From how much she’s missing her wife, and from how pathetic it is that Dani’s missing her at all. Jamie’s only been gone for a couple of hours, out to a meeting with some of their vendors, but it already feels like it’s been an eternity. A scant few weeks of marriage have made Dani even clingier than usual; while she’s always made a point to seek out contact with Jamie, it never feels like she can get close enough, these days. Even being apart from her tends to make Dani feel a little crazy. She catches herself missing Jamie when she runs out to get dinner, or when she’s folding laundry in another room. She misses Jamie at work, sometimes, where they literally spend the entire day together, for the simple fact that she can’t wrap Jamie in her arms for eight straight hours, professionalism be damned.

She’d be embarrassed about it if she weren’t so deliriously happy. 

Happy, but, at the moment, feeling a lot like an abandoned puppy, stuck waiting around for Jamie to come back. It’s not Jamie’s fault, she knows, but still. Dani misses her. She can’t help it. 

What she can do, however, is keep her hands and her mind occupied by throwing some flowers into a vase and trying to make an arrangement that appears highly intentional, thought-out, and worth spending money on. The old standby does the trick; in fact, Dani’s doing such a great job distracting herself that the chime of the bell above the front door completely slips her notice.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” says a voice, familiar enough to mitigate Dani's instinct to startle, as a pair of arms encircle her waist. “Have you seen my lovely wife anywhere?”

Dani smiles almost hard to enough to hurt, leaning back into Jamie with warmth suffusing through her chest. “Mm, I love it when you call me that.”

“Not as much as I love saying it.” Jamie presses a kiss to her cheek before tucking her chin over Dani’s shoulder, quietly observing her work. As soon as Dani’s able, she frees a hand to rest it over Jamie’s at her waist, seeking out the still somewhat foreign addition on her ring finger. Jamie turns her smile into Dani’s neck, where she muffles a puzzled noise. “Are those our lillies?”

Dani snorts. “You ordered them, remember?”

“Did I?” Jamie says, with genuine but largely unbothered surprise. “Christ.”

Dani makes a few final adjustments, working a little slower now that she’s handicapped herself, but unwilling to let go of Jamie now that she’s back within reach, at long last. After a minute or two of fluffing and repositioning flowers, she hums thoughtfully, squeezing Jamie’s hand. “Good?”

“Beautiful, as always.” Jamie straightens, loosening her grip, gently turning Dani to face her. “So. I've got a bit of a confession.”

Dani raises an eyebrow. Jamie looks a little nervous, but not guilty, exactly. There’s still a decent chance this is a good surprise. “Okay,” she says slowly.

“There was no meeting with the vendors.” Jamie’s hands flex restlessly where they’re anchored at Dani’s hips. “I actually, um, stopped by city hall.”

Any potential annoyance Dani might have felt at being lied to is swiftly replaced by confusion. “What did you need to go to city hall for?”

In lieu of an answer, Jamie relinquishes her to retrieve a manila envelope from the counter, presenting it to Dani with all the same reverence and care she had once shown a single, delicate moonflower, on another bright day in this shop. Dani takes it, opens it gingerly, hyper-aware of the way Jamie is watching her, her eyes flitting back and forth between Dani’s face and the envelope, anxious for her reaction. An official-looking piece of stationery slides free, claiming the authority of the State of Vermont in intricate lettering.

CERTIFICATE OF NAME CHANGE… 

It takes Dani several bewildered moments to comprehend what she’s holding. The individual pieces are all there — the seals and signatures, Jamie’s name, the giant header that should really give the game away — but her brain refuses to understand any implications that extend beyond this piece of paper. Eventually she seizes on the two most important words on the page, reading them over and over again until the truth of this gift finally hits home, knocking the wind out of her. Jamie Clayton.

She looks up at Jamie, her mouth falling open, and Jamie gives her a tight smile. “Surprise?”

“Jamie,” Dani says. Overcome, she presses her lips together, feeling herself well up.

For a waterlogged moment, Jamie appears to her as little more than a vague suggestion of brown hair and worried gray-green eyes. But even as a smudge, Dani would recognize Jamie anywhere, would spill over with love and affection at the sight of her — as she does now, with Jamie easing closer to soothe her hands down Dani’s arms, asking hesitantly, “Are these… good tears?”

Jamie,” she says again, because it’s the only thought her mouth can form. Jamie’s name on this piece of paper, and on a thousand handwritten notes littered throughout their life together, and sitting there next to Dani’s like it’s meant to be there. Just Jamie, looking at her now with impossibly cautious, reckless hope. 

Dani throws her arms around Jamie’s neck, careful not to crush the certificate between them. “I can’t believe you — that you — you didn’t have to do this.”

“I know,” Jamie mumbles, rubbing her back. “Wanted to. Wanted to make it as official as possible. Make sure everyone knows you’re my family in every way that matters.”

That certainly doesn’t help Dani rein in her tears; instead, the lump in her throat expands to make speech impossible, if she could even find the words. Dani tightens her arms still further around Jamie’s shoulders, burying her face in the crook of her neck, where she somehow always smells the most uniquely Jamie. Immersed in the dark warmth and familiarity of her, she feels Jamie kiss the side of her head.

“If I’d known you were gonna cry this much, I’d have asked them to laminate it or something,” Jamie says eventually, and Dani chokes a laugh, pulling back to wipe at her eyes, at the damp spot she’s left on Jamie’s skin.

“Might have been a good idea,” she agrees, sniffling. Jamie swipes a thumb over her cheek as Dani lifts the certificate to the light streaming in through the storefront windows, admiring the bold look of Jamie’s new name in fine black ink. “We have to get this framed.”

Jamie smiles, grabs her hand to kiss the salt from her palm, fingers folding around Dani’s wedding ring. “We can put it wherever you like.”

Already Dani’s picturing the perfect spot for it — maybe in the breakfast nook, or in the living room, or somewhere in their bedroom. This change will slot seamlessly into their home, the bastion of their love, as though this is how things always ought to have been. Their names, their lives, entwined inextricably together.

Dani sighs, gazing adoringly at her wife, fingers splayed along her jaw. “Jamie,” she murmurs, like a benediction.

Jamie’s grin is crooked with barely-contained elation. “That’s Mrs. Clayton to you,” she says, and Dani kisses her with all the love and light in her body.