Despite the fact that she was supposed to ascend a mountain covered in fire and fight the most powerful force that Remnant had ever seen – this task in front of her the night before felt even scarier.
That was not an exaggeration, Winter Schnee scared the hell out of her and had since the day they first met.
Of course, that fear only quadrupled like a litter of adorable puppies when she started dating Winter's baby sister. Where Yang had been accepting and even a part of bringing them together – Winter was protective and cautious. She didn't want anyone hurting Weiss and though Ruby would never, she understood the reasons for trepidation.
Weiss had built sturdy emotional walls around herself – that had taken Ruby years to break them down. She had though, she'd put in the time and the effort to earn Weiss' trust and with that came all the good things she imagined.
All of this led her to this moment – in the middle of the night – standing outside of Winter's room.
The Last Castle was the name given to the final safe haven left for them during this war. It was solid and strong, with Salem's forces depleted and their own soldiers weary and broken, Ruby knew tomorrow would be the end. One way or another – this war would be over.
Deep down, she knew they would win. That optimism she'd spent her entire life trying to master was too strong now to give into the fear of losing. There was too much left for them all to do.
Including this, her reason for being here and for the tenth time, she shook herself out of her thoughts and tried to knock on the door.
Pushing her hair back and taking a deep breath, Ruby knocked three times and waited.
There was silence that met her and for a moment she considered knocking again. Though if Winter was ignoring her and she persisted she might end up on the right side of a butt kicking. It didn't matter if Ruby knew deep down that she could defeat Winter in a fight – she was still afraid.
Suddenly, the clipping of boots on concrete sounded and Ruby knew Winter was coming. She stood upright, as upright as she could. Stiff as a rod and chin up so high she could almost see the ceiling.
When the door opened, she jumped back just a bit and was met with a pair of icy blue eyes. "Ruby? What is it? Is Weiss all right?"
Ruby smiled, because of course that's what Winter would think of immediately. "She's fine, she was sleeping like a baby when I left her." Ruby took a step into Winter's room, only to be blocked off. "Oh," she stepped back quickly. "I uh…I'm sorry. Can I come in?"
Winter did not move. "It's very late, Ruby. If nothing is wrong with my sister I'd prefer that you tell me what the meaning of this is."
"Right," Ruby tucked her hands behind her back. "R—right, you wanna know why I'm here at your door in the middle of the night."
"Looking like a scared toddler, yes."
She closed her fists, begging her hands to stop shaking. "Of course." She inhaled deeply and closed her eyes. "I was…hoping to speak with you about Weiss. Specifically, about Weiss and myself. About our…recoupling." Winter quirked a brow up. "Our relationship!" Ruby laughed at herself. "Recoupling, that's not even a word!"
"It is a word."
"It is?" Winter nodded. "Really?"
"Not at all in the context that you were using it, but recoupling is, in fact, a word."
She couldn't figure out context would that word even be used? She'd heard of decoupling before, but not recoupling.
"Ms. Rose," Winter raised her voice and Ruby jumped again. "Neither this night or myself are getting any younger."
Ruby nodded, silently willing herself to just come out and say it. "After tomorrow, after everything…I want to ask Weiss to marry me."
The silence she was met with was deafening and Ruby slowly drew her head up and opened her eyes to find Winter staring intensely at her. For a moment, Ruby wondered if she should fire up her aura just in case Winter decided to drive her rapier into her chest and throw the whole war down the drain to protect her baby sister. It was not something she would doubt coming from someone as protective as Winter Schnee.
Instead, after a lingering quiet, Winter took a step back and made room in the doorway. "Come in."
Ruby was not about to make Winter ask her twice.
The room Winter held as her own was dark and quiet – save for a few candles set up around a rather comfy looking couch where Ruby saw an open book lying face down on the cushions.
Winter had her back to Ruby, walking deeper into the room and stopping just before her desk. She turned in one motion, almost as if she were on command from a general, and Ruby stood even more tightly than she already had.
"You wish to marry my sister?" Ruby nodded. "You're very young. You both are."
"I'm twenty-two, Weiss is twenty-four. Plus, we've been through so much I'm pretty sure we both feel much older."
Winter did not seem impressed. "Marriage is not a passing fancy, Ruby. It is not some gesture you can offer on a whim to make something mean more. It is a commitment beyond anything you can imagine."
"I think I know a few things about commitment." Ruby said – feeling a bit offended. "I've spent years training my body and my mind to fight monsters and control powers nobody could actually teach me about. I've never abandoned the fight or my responsibilities."
"You do not have to sell me on your abilities to work hard."
"Then what do I have to sell you on?" Ruby lowered her voice. She didn't intend to be hostile, she was just so nervous. "I love Weiss and this is something I am serious about. I wouldn't have come to you if I wasn't."
Winter's defensive stance faltered as she dropped her hands to her side and lowered her head just enough for her hair to fall into her face. She moved and walked over to the couch where the book lay and sat down next to it. Ruby thought perhaps she would be offered to sit as well.
She was not.
"All her life, Weiss has been failed by the people she loved. By people that were supposed to love her." Winter still wouldn't look up at her, she seemed lost in her own head. "Our father never gave her a chance. He never cared too. She was a means to an end. An heir to the company he stole from our family in the first place. Our mother was weak – the only word to describe her. She buried herself in booze and I often believe she died not even remembering that either of us existed. Then I –" Winter hesitated and Ruby saw her grip the cushion of the couch so tightly she swore her fingers were going to break through. "I left her behind to get away from him. I left her alone with him and she still managed to find some way to be better than me, better than him." Winter looked up and met Ruby's eyes. "If you want to marry my sister then you need to understand the responsibility. Weiss has had enough people let her down. I see how she looks at you and I hear the way she speaks of you. She loves you and you being here tells me that those feelings are mutual. You want my blessing?" Ruby nodded, her hands shaking again even worse than before. "Then promise me that you will never abandon her."
It was the easiest response of her life. "I will never abandon Weiss."
Winter stood up in a flurry and soon she was right in Ruby's face, staring down at her severely. "Then don't you dare do anything stupid on that mountain tomorrow. You come back to her, you understand me?"
"I will, Winter. She…she's the most important person in the world to me."
The eldest Schnee daughter stepped away from Ruby's personal space and seemed to relax a little. Ruby thought for a moment that she even saw the ghost of a smile on her lips. "So, how do you plan on asking her? Weiss isn't really the romantic type. Finds it all a bit dramatic."
"Actually uhm…she…already asked me."
This grabbed Winter's attention. "I beg your pardon?"
Ruby grinned. "It was a while back, we were with everyone and having fun and she just…asked me. I'm not even sure if she was entirely serious but I said yes and even made a note of it." Ruby took out the piece of paper she'd kept for far too long in the deepest pocket of her backpack and showed it to Winter. "When things calm down I'm going to show it to her and ask her if her offer still stands."
Winter strode over to Ruby again, this time with a bit more reservation, and took the note from her. She read it over for a moment and frowned. "You have horrendous penmanship." Ruby's expression must have masterfully matched her disappointment. "Your uncle is not invited to the wedding."
"Might as well, you're still just as childish as ever."
Ruby sniffled and wiped at the tears building in her eyes. Crying over Weiss was something she thought she'd moved on from years ago. The frustration of fighting with her was always the worst because it was not at all how she wanted to think about her. Weiss represented the best memories of her life and for so long Ruby had worked to remember those and not how hard their end was.
Only now it felt like this fighting and this anger was all they'd have left between them. Perhaps it was the way their relationship was destined to be. It made sense really – given her history.
She slowed down on the dirt road, not wanting to drive off as she cleared up her blurry vision and refocused. She was almost home. Her scroll had buzzed at some point – most certainly Yang checking on her – but she'd answer it in the morning. Tonight wasn't about her and Weiss. None of this was. Yang and Blake deserved to have fun and enjoy the build up to their wedding. Ruby would come back when she'd figured out how to deal with all of this.
Once she reached her home, Ruby parked her truck at the top of the hill and shut off the engine. The silence around her made all the anxiety in her head start to fire up again as loudly as ever. She was mostly used to it, and when she was hunting it was easy to shut off.
Unfortunately, this pain in her hip had grown worse since her last mission and she'd been putting off accepting another one until it calmed down. Each morning she would wake up, hoping it would feel better. It had been three weeks now and it had only gotten worse.
After the wedding, whether she felt better or not, she'd take a mission and get away. Having to spend the next two weeks around Weiss would require a long one.
Opening her truck door, Ruby stepped out and jumped when she realized someone was sitting on the steps in front of her door.
"Uncle Qrow?" She cried, throwing her hands in the air. "What are you doing here?"
He slowly pushed up to his feet. "Since when do you lock this?"
"Since always!" He looked back at the door and then back to her. "You still haven't answered my question."
"I was in the neighborhood." Ruby frowned and moved up the stairs around him to open the door. She let him in after her and shed her coat while kicking the door shut behind her. She watched him immediately go to her kitchen and reach for the top cabinet above the stove.
"Really?" She followed him to the kitchen and watched him take out his flask and fill it with liquor. "You were waiting outside my door to get free booze?"
He grinned up at her. "No, I was waiting to talk to you because your sister messaged me that you split from her place without so much as a goodbye. I flew over to check on you and somehow beat you here." He then tipped up his flask and took a drink. "This is just a bonus."
"Did you…literally fly over here?" He gave her a long, silent look and that was all the answer she needed. "I keep thinking one day I'll unlock my bird form."
He chuckled before patting her head. "You will one day, dodo."
"I am not a dodo!" She swatted him away and followed him over to the couch. She sat down gently, not wanting to tweak her hip and let off any sign that she was in pain. Qrow was a blabbermouth and would tell her father and sister before he even left the front door.
He didn't seem to notice as he sat down next to her. "So I'm obligated to ask, are you okay?"
Ruby nodded, even though she was trying to remove Weiss' blue eyes from her mind. "I am, it was just kind of overwhelming, you know? To be around it all again. I've probably been hunting alone for too long." She laughed and it was almost believable.
If it had been anyone else, she probably would have gotten away with it. Except her Uncle Qrow knew all about lying. "You know, you're allowed to care about them."
"Pot and kettle." She said in kind – a phrase she'd said to him more than once.
"Mine is at least true, yours is just theory."
Ruby shook her head, suddenly frustrated. "It's not theory, Uncle Qrow. I have actual blood on my hands."
"No! I'm no good for them, any of them. I'm fine with the life I have and I'm fine with it being my own. I don't want to be around them." That was a lie, she wanted it more than anything. "I can't."
"You're not cursed, Ruby."
She cast her head down and felt the tears coming again. It was something she'd struggled with for years – this feeling that pain followed her. So many people she cared about had been hurt or killed. She wasn't fast enough to save Penny and Pyrrha. Her mother was taken before she could even build any true memories of her. Yang had lost her arm.
Then Jaune…that was the one that broke her. A death by her own "gift" – she murdered one of her best friends and everyone deemed to call her a hero.
They didn't understand, no one ever could. Qrow was the closest person she could find who might even slightly understand what it felt like to be a curse on those you love.
"You can't keep them out of your life forever, Ruby. I'm not going to tell you to move to Vale with Blake and Yang. I'm not going to tell you to rekindle your relationship with the ice queen and I'm not going to tell you to forget what happened. Just…don't be like me – this lonely life is awful and it's why I'm around so much. Your sister and your dad, you…the three of you gave me stability. I may still be a mess but I've got you and that's what gives me purpose. Hunting is fine for a distraction – but you need people too. Salem was another kind of curse on this world and we fought her. That's what we do…we fight."
Tears fell freely now; Ruby was too tired to fight them. Still, she nodded and felt the couch shift as Qrow moved closer. He wrapped an arm around her and drew her in for a hug. She sank into it and exhaled, feeling herself relax.
"How is the head of the Schnee Dust Company these days?"
Ruby shook her head. "Even more beautiful than I remembered."
"I mean of course I still care about you and miss you and all of that stuff! But we didn't work out in the romantic way and it was hard. But seeing you now, I missed you, Weiss – and I realized that the romantic stuff shouldn't get in the way of what we had before! We were partners first right? Partners and friends – that bond we had at Beacon can't be broken. That's what's important! I—is that okay?" Ruby begged herself to stop rambling. She'd spent a good five minutes in the bathroom at the restaurant practicing this very speech and not once did she ramble like a fool.
She had fully intended to see where Weiss stood on their relationship because of how much history there was between them. For Ruby, it was as simple as wanting to reconnect and rebuild. Whatever they'd had before was broken now – it wasn't something she wanted to go back to because the memories of it were so painful. She wasn't sure what she wanted it to be, but it certainly wasn't a confession of love and making out in her truck.
Okay, she had certainly thought about making out with Weiss, but friendship seemed like the best jumping off point.
"Of course," Weiss said and she did that cute little nod of hers while smiling tightly. It took a lot to bring to Weiss' true smile but this one was one Ruby had memorized from seeing it a thousand times over. Eventually she learned that it was a real smile, despite how forced it looked. Weiss just didn't play fast and loose with her brightest ones. "It would certainly make things easier for Blake and Yang and this wedding.
"Yes! Oh I'm so glad you understand! It's been so awkward and I thought we could just…push past it, but we needed to figure it out. I—I think I learned that from you," she grinned. "Planning and preparation always lead to success." Weiss pursed her lips together and nodded.
"I used to tell you in the library back at Beacon."
Ruby couldn't help but laugh – thrilled that Weiss remembered. "At least once a week," she beamed. "You were very persistent."
Suddenly there was a finger in her face. "And you were very good at procrastinating."
It was banter and it was playful and Ruby suddenly felt alive again. Being around Weiss like this, to have the tension and drama gone and to just…be themselves was so wonderful.
"I learned that from Yang." She lobbed back before starting the truck up to take them home. "Come on, let's get you back to my dad's and see if the rest of team RWBY wants to do anything fun tonight before wedding stuff starts tomorrow." Ruby clapped her hands – she felt so relieved. "We're finally all back together!"
We're going to be okay. She thought. She forced herself to believe it. We're fighters. I won't let my past take them from me.
"We should text ahead and make sure those two are properly clothed and not…touching one another." Weiss said and Ruby winced at the thought before her mind slowly flashed to images of the two of them touching one another.
One step at a time, Rose.
"Oh, good idea. You really are a genius, Weiss."
It wasn't supposed to go this way. She'd spent so much time convincing herself that this hip problem would work itself out – that her aura would melt away the pain. Then weeks turned into months and months suddenly became a year and it still hurt.
The first time she damaged her hip was fighting in Haven with her team. It was years ago and back then she would only feel it after sleeping on a hard surface and the pain would subside with a bit of movement and stretching.
Now, it was constant. Every morning she woke up in pain and every night she spent hours trying to find a good position to make sleeping tolerable. Still, she kept it to herself because she wanted to be able to handle it. Ruby knew that eventually she'd have to call and go to a doctor. She'd have to have it properly checked and maybe even fixed – but she didn't want to do it now. Not with Yang breathing down her neck about Vale and Weiss here trying to maintain some kind of solidity to this new relationship they'd started.
They had just barely become friends again – she didn't want to burden Weiss with more of her trauma.
Unfortunately, that curse that Qrow swore wasn't real had reared its ugly head again and Weiss found out about her injury.
What surprised Ruby most, was that Weiss hadn't seemed burdened at all. It would have been easy for Weiss to scold her and drive her to a hospital, or tattle to Yang about it – but she hadn't. Instead she had promised to help Ruby – no only in finding proper care, but letting her do it at her own pace.
That was one of the many things Ruby always adored about Weiss – she never treated her with kid gloves. For so long, everyone swore to protecting her innocence and trying to shield her from the realities of the world.
It was something that ended up hurting her more than helping when that innocent world was suddenly torn away from her. She watched people she loved die and be torn apart and she had no idea how to process it because all she'd ever known before was heroes winning battles and good always prevailing.
A hero couldn't learn to rise if they were never shown how to fall.
That's where Weiss was different. Weiss let Ruby take in the world as it was. She didn't try to protect her, she just promised to be there for her if she needed help.
Those were the memories of Weiss that Ruby wanted to keep. The times in the darkness of war and the pain of loss that they carried each other through. Weiss was so…neat because she never tried to make anything more or less than what it was. To Weiss, Ruby was never perfect or broken. She was just growing up and learning – they both were.
Ruby knew deep down that she'd messed up years ago when she shut Weiss out after Jaune died. It could have been easier – perhaps could have saved their relationship – if she'd just let Weiss help her. Except Ruby had no idea how to even process killing a loved one. In a lot of ways, she still hadn't processed it.
Enough time had simply passed that she could function.
Perhaps enough time could pass that Ruby might be able to find the courage to openly admit just how much she missed Weiss being in her life. The courage to be selfish enough to ask Weiss if she wanted to start over. Start fresh – free of war and tragedy and maybe find a way to be happy again.
As she finished drying off from a much needed shower, Ruby tied the towel on top of her head (another trick Weiss showed her years ago) and put on her red bathrobe before deciding that a cup of hot cocoa was extremely necessary. Chocolate was always a good quick fix for the agonizingly deep thoughts that didn't seem to want to let her rest.
Unfortunately, the moment she took the first step, Ruby knew something was wrong. Her hip flared up with pain that shot down her leg and climbed up her back. She screamed and tried to grab for the railing, but her arm wouldn't move properly and her balance gave out.
She tumbled quickly, the wooden stairs rapidly approaching. Just as she was about to face plant into them, something smashed against the side of her head and the world went dark.
"I'll go get your sister!" Weiss said as she frantically ran out of the bathroom and left Ruby sitting in a quickly draining tub, naked and confused.
She grabbed my boob, Ruby thought.
It was a confusing situation because everything had seemed so professional with Weiss. When she'd agreed to be Ruby's caretaker during her recovery, it had feel like stuffy old Weiss from Beacon. Everything was by the book and proper form. She hadn't even batted an eye when the nurses mentioned helping with bathing and dressing.
"I can handle it," Weiss had said. "It's all about making sure she's comfortable."
Ruby had appreciated the thought, and had only been mildly offended that her naked body no longer had the same affects it had on her years earlier when she once literally made Weiss' nose bleed when Weiss walked in on her doing pull ups without a shirt on.
Now it was just business as usual and proper form and Weiss 'Business' Schnee.
It was…until Weiss grabbed her boob and ran away like a scared baby Grimm.
"Uh," the door opened and Yang stepped inside. "What the heck was that?"
Ruby looked up at her sister who was grinning ear to ear. "I—I don't know. Is Weiss okay?"
Yang shrugged before helping Ruby to her feet and out of the tub. "I have no idea, she said she needed air and she's just standing outside with her head in her hands."
"Sleep well," Weiss said with a smile as she climbed up the stairs and left Ruby alone.
Exhaling, Ruby sat down on the couch and put her head in her hands. She was so confused. On the one hand, she felt like she was making a good decision - to let Weiss return to Atlas and to her own life felt as if it would be for the best. Since she'd been here, the only thing Weiss had done was take care of her. It was nice to have that support, but Weiss had so many responsibilities and even more so lately because she'd been on her scroll a lot the last few days.
On the other hand, she couldn't seem to stop herself from making advances towards her. It was as if years of forgotten (or suppressed) feelings had come surging back and all Ruby wanted to do was beg Weiss to stay and never leave her.
She had a brand new hip and perhaps a little perspective on asking for help and more importantly, she had her life back. Yet, the idea of going back to it seemed far emptier than it ever had before.
When she was at her lowest, being alone was easier. It's less work to be miserable when no one is around to see it. Now though, she didn't want that. She didn't want this tiny house all to herself. She didn't want to put her bed back upstairs and not have Weiss be there.
Still, she couldn't ask Weiss to stay and deep down, Ruby knew there was no place for her in Atlas. It was a lose/lose situation and she was stuck right in the middle of it.
She was stuck and even though she hated to be a bother, she needed someone to talk to.
Standing up, Ruby grabbed her scroll and went outside. She quietly shut the door behind her so it wouldn't make any noise to draw Weiss' attention and quickly redialed the most recent number.
It rang three times before a familiar voice answered.
"What's up, Ruby?"
Yang's voice immediately calmed her down. "Hey, I…you guys still awake?"
"Yeah?" Yang seemed immediately concerned. "We're staying up for a bit cause we'll probably sleep on the airship. What's up? We just talked like five minutes ago and you were all…perky."
Closing her eyes, Ruby followed her dad's advice and jumped in head first. "I'm in love with Weiss."
"She's in love with Weiss," Ruby heard Yang mumble away from the scroll – no doubt to Blake.
"Sorry, she needs to know," Yang said with a laugh in her throat. "Ruby, I don't think you were ever not in love with Weiss. You just weren't very in love with yourself for a long time."
Ruby sighed and sat down on the swing. "I know…I had my reasons."
"I'm sure you did," Yang kept her voice soft. "I hope one day you'll tell me why."
She would, she absolutely would because Yang deserved to know. "I don't know what to do, Yang. I love her but…she's leaving soon and I can't ask her to stay."
That was not the response she was expecting. "Because…her life is in Atlas. Her company and all of her responsibilities."
"Responsibilities she easily put aside – for you."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean; don't you think you owe it to her to tell her how you feel?"
Ruby wanted to tell Weiss, but she was so scared because they'd just reached a place where they were fully comfortable with one another again. They'd rebuilt what the war had torn down and Ruby didn't want to lose that again. Even if Weiss left, they were at a point where she could talk to her.
It felt too risky. "I just got her back, Yang."
"For what? So you two can be miserable in the same vicinity of one another."
"Yang what if –"
"What if, Ruby? What if's are the worst and you know it. I –" Yang sighed and Ruby knew a speech was coming. She just hoped it was a good one. "Do you remember how long it took Jaune to get over Pyrrha?"
"I'm not trying to make you upset, Ruby. I'm not trying to bring up bad memories – I just want you to think about how badly those two screwed that up. Nora told us how much Pyrrha loved Jaune and when he found out, he was devastated because he didn't know and they didn't have a chance. I know it's scary and I know that it's risky but trust me when I tell you that Weiss Schnee loves you. She put her entire life on hold for you. She risked so much just so you could have your happiness and you don't do that for just anybody. You don't do that for a friend, you don't do that for a partner. You do it for the person in life that you love the most. It's what Pyrrha would do for Jaune. It's what I would do for Blake. It's what Dad would do for Mom. It's love, Ruby. The real deal and I know it's scary but life's too short. It's cliché and lame but it's true."
Tears were flowing down Ruby's cheeks faster than she could wipe them away. Yang was right – life was short and she'd certainly been on the brink of losing her own multiple times. There were still so many questions.
"How could it even work, Yang? If she loves me too and we give it another shot – I don't have a place in Atlas and Weiss has so much there that I can't just ask her to move here with me. What would she do? Yang she's amazing but she's not in hunting shape and I don't even know if she'd want to hunt again. Of course I would help her get back into shape for it but why would she? She's the boss of a huge company and –"
"Ruby!" Yang called out with a laugh. "Calm down, Rubes. You're getting way ahead of yourself. You just need to tell her how you feel. If there's something there you two can figure it out together. You know from all our missions together that Weiss would be upset with you planning out the future without her input."
Weiss always did hate it when Ruby strategized without her.
"So I should…talk to her?"
"Yes," Ruby could almost feel Yang rolling her eyes. "Don't make this decision without her. You're too old for hidden feelings and all this nonsense. Tell her, be honest with her about all of it. Your fears and concerns and your feelings. I promise you there are mutual feelings – I just…you have to trust me and yourself. Trust her."
"Ruby," there was a rustling and suddenly another voice on the line. "I love you, Ruby." It was Blake. "You know how much I love you and Weiss and I am rooting for you two – but we already postponed our wedding once and I am not upset about it, but can you at least let us say our vows before you confess to Weiss? We will be there for both of you after but…just wait another forty-eight hours, please."
"O—okay," she answered, knowing that Blake would only accept one answer. "I won't ruin your wedding."
"Thank you, Ruby and I promise you'll be fine. Weiss is my best friend and believe me when I tell you that there is something there on her end too. It's just complicated."
"Wait, Weiss is your best friend?" Yang said away from the speaker.
"Oh here we go."
Ruby latched the chocker around her neck and let her hands fall to her side as she stared at herself in the mirror. The dress fit perfectly and she was glad to have gone strapless because they never made dresses that fit her shoulders well. Apparently dressmakers couldn't understand that some people swung giant sniper scythes around for a living.
Still, it was comfortable and looked good – even though she was never the best judge of these things.
It was kind of surreal, that her sister would be married in the next hour. Not that it would really change anything – Yang had essentially been tied to Blake for the last ten years. Though the fall of Beacon tore them apart for a little while, they always found a way back to each other.
There was a time when Ruby thought the same of herself and Weiss. That nothing could ever really keep them apart. Even after Beacon and wandering around with RNJR, Ruby never doubted that she'd find her way back to Weiss.
It wasn't until Jaune died at her hand that she decided it was time to break away. Though not because she wanted to, but because she feared she needed to.
That was such a dark time in her life and one that she'd only recently started to pull herself out of. It was not a coincidence that she found the strength to climb out when Weiss suddenly returned to her life. Weiss had always had that power over her – to make her drive to be better and work harder and believe in herself.
She'd gone from trying to push Weiss away to protect her, to being scared of Weiss leaving because of how she might fall again.
The truth was, she needed Weiss – but it wasn't even for support or to keep her head above water. It was the way Weiss made her feel when she woke up in the morning and knew Weiss was around. It was the comfort of sharing a meal together and the way they could sit in a room without talking and feel like they were somehow still connecting.
Weiss completed her, in every cheesy romance novel kind of way. The thought of losing that was scarier than any monster she'd fought and nightmare she'd had.
"Ruby?" A voice came from the door and it opened slightly. "Are you decent?"
Looking through the mirror, she saw Weiss' hair as she leaned in slightly through the door. "I am; you can come in." She then watched in awe as Weiss stepped in wearing a beautiful white dress. It tied up around her neck and had a pretty decent slit going down the right leg – exposing wonderful patches of skin that Ruby forced herself not to stare at.
Her hair was down, slightly curled and rolling down her shoulders like soft clouds.
"You look beautiful," it was Weiss that beat her to the compliment and Ruby felt her cheeks heating up. "I think your arms are the best fashion accessory you could possibly have." Weiss smiled at her and Ruby was fairly certain she could take on an army of Grimm right now – even in these awful shoes.
"You look beautiful too," she said and hated that she couldn't come up with anything cleverer to say.
You shine like the sun. You sparkle like the ocean. You glow like my sister's hair when she's angry.
"Thank you," Weiss said with a soft smile. "Oh, I almost forgot." Ruby watched as Weiss lifted her hand that had been behind her back and held out a thick and beautiful red rose. "This is for you." Ruby thought her heart might explode when Weiss reached up and gently tucked the rose stem into her hair and slid it through. Weiss was incredibly close to her now and even though they'd been so close the last few weeks with Weiss taking care of her, it was suddenly painfully different and Ruby was putting all of her energy into standing completely still. It was made even harder when Weiss tucked her hair behind her ear. "Ruby Rose, are you wearing earrings?"
Reaching up, Ruby touched the silver cross hanging from her ear and nodded. "Th—they were my moms. My dad gave them to me a few years ago."
Weiss smiled even more. "I never thought I'd see the day. I didn't even know your ears were pierced."
"I kinda did it just for these. They're the only pair I have and I only wear them on special occasions."
"So this is the first time you've worn them?" Weiss asked, clearly knowing the answer already.
Ruby chuckled. "It is."
"Well they're lovely. Your mother had good taste – even if I do wish I could ask her what the cloak was all about." There was nothing but compassion in ever word she spoke and though it was rare, Ruby always loved it when Weiss talked about her mom. It was something Ruby scarcely brought up, but something Weiss always handled so well. She never balked in talking about her and she'd always ask questions and compliment a woman she'd never actually have the chance to meet.
That thought always devastated Ruby. She just knew that her mom would love Weiss and that Weiss could probably use someone like Summer in her own life.
Before Beacon, Weiss had been mostly alone. She had Winter, but Winter was working hard enough to build her own life away from a terrible upbringing. Weiss had told Ruby all the horror stories of Jacques Schnee – man who would belittle her and, on occasion, physically and emotionally abuse her.
As much as she wished her own mother was alive for Weiss to meet, she wished that man was still alive so she could kick his pasty white butt all over Remnant.
Weiss didn't deserve that – nobody did but especially not Weiss who worked so hard and cared so much. Sure she could be bristly and tough but once she let you in, nobody cared more about people than she did.
"Hey?" Weiss' blue eyes drew Ruby's attention again. "Are you all right?"
Ruby swallowed the lump in her throat and internally apologized to Blake – but no moment would be better than this.
"I love you."
The hand lingering near Ruby's ear drew back. Weiss held it close to her chest and stared wide eyed. "I—I love you too?" She said hesitantly and Ruby remembered that they'd shared these sentiments a few nights earlier. Even though Ruby's meant so much more now. "Ruby, you're kind of scaring me. What's the—"
"Can I kiss you?"
Ruby felt herself bouncing on her feet. "In the movies it's like a big, dramatic thing – someone confesses that they love someone else and they go back and forth and then one person kisses the other and the music goes all crazy. Usually it's too loud and the camera spins around while they're kissing. But I know that you don't like people touching you without your permission – I mean you gave me permission but that was years ago and we broke up and I didn't want to make you uncomfortable and mmmfffff!"
Weiss cut her off with a kiss. She took Ruby's face into her hands and smashed their lips together with so much force that Ruby was afraid she might have cut her lip open. It didn't matter though, because Weiss drew back only for a second before diving in again with a softer touch.
Ruby couldn't control herself, she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around Weiss' back to bring them together. She drew her hands up Weiss' back before losing them in her hair.
They'd kissed before, thousands of times, but this one felt so different. It was more of a relief, like finding your way back home after being lost for years. It was familiar, but exciting and uncertain. There was a part of Ruby that didn't want to end, but another part that wanted to pull back and see if Weiss felt it as much as she did.
It was Weiss that gave in first, she always did have more self-control. She broke the kiss and tried to catch her breath. Only then did Ruby realize that Weiss was grabbing both of her arms and squeezing them. Holding Ruby in place.
"You kissed me." Ruby said and Weiss could only nod as she stared at the floor and tried to collect herself. "You…you still have feelings for me?"
"Like you wouldn't believe," she said and finally she looked up at Ruby. "You said you didn't. You said you didn't have any feelings for me."
Ruby closed her eyes as the guilt settled in. "I think…I had convinced myself that I didn't. I spent so long trying to forget about you and tell myself that you were better off without me that I finally started to believe it. Weiss…I was in such a bad place when we broke up. I wouldn't listen to you or Yang or…anyone. I didn't know how to handle that life. After Jaune and after the war I just…I didn't want to take you down with me."
"You listen to me, Ruby Rose." Weiss touched under Ruby's chin and lifted her head. "I am your partner. I will always be your partner. I don't care what happens with either one of us, that will never change. If you need me, I will be there because I told you I'd be the best teammate and I meant it. You wouldn't drag me down. I'd follow you so we could climb out together."
Tears bloomed in Ruby's eyes and she nodded. "You're better with words than I am." Ruby took a deep breath. "What does this mean?" That was the scariest question imaginable.
However, Weiss once again smiled and suddenly everything felt okay. "Well, your smeared makeup tells me that my feelings are somewhat reciprocated." She said as she reached up and wiped the running mascara from Ruby's cheek. "I spent so long trying to talk myself out of this and then I found that stupid proposal your drunkenly wrote and apparently kept."
"You found that?" Ruby knew exactly where that note had been.
"It was an accident – I dropped my necklace in the drawer and found it." She wiped at her eyes. "It felt like a lifeline. I was desperate for something, for any sign that you hadn't let go of me. When I found that, I thought that you might still—"
Ruby smiled so hard she thought her cheeks might split. "I do, still." She shook her head. "Or I do…again, but different. Like when you get sick and you tell yourself that you'll appreciate being healthy so much more if you can just get over it. It's like that – like I'll appreciate you more now because I didn't have you for so long."
It was Weiss' turn to blush. "See, you're not that bad with words."
"What about your job though? My job? We live in two different places and lead two different lives."
"Ruby, I hate Atlas." Weiss ran a hand through her hair. "I've hated it for a long time and I hate my job, I hate the people I work with except Violet and she deserves so much more than to just be my assistant. I have been dreading going back so much that I considered shoving you down the stairs and breaking your other hip just so I could take care of you for longer!"
"Weiss!" Ruby gasped saw a shimmer in Weiss' eyes that made her start laughing. "So you…want to stay?"
"If you'll have me?" Weiss said hopefully.
"What will you do?"
This gave her pause, but only for a moment. "I—I don't know. I've considered breaking up the company and selling it out in pieces. The SDC has such a monopoly on dust trade – I could almost expand the marker just by imploding my own company." She watched the gears turn in Weiss' head. "It would honestly create more jobs because dust miners wouldn't be tied down to one company. They could outsource and expand all over Remnant."
"Weiss," Ruby drew her back in, reaching out and cupping her cheek. "You're getting all shop talky."
"Right, sorry – I think I'm trying to convince myself that this is a good idea."
Weiss shrugged slightly. "I really don't know. I just know that I don't want to go back. I want to stay here in Patch and be with you. I've spent my whole life doing things for others. For my father or my sister or the leaders during the war. I never did anything for me and when I think about what I want – you are at the very top of the list."
"There's still so much we need to sort out. This seems so…sudden."
Weiss leaned forward and pressed their foreheads together. "Speak for yourself – I've been wanting to kiss you since the moment you walked in carrying pizza's in that flannel shirt."
Ruby couldn't help but giggle, she had noticed Weiss staring at her arms that day. "I knew you were a fan of that shirt."
"I'm a fan of these," she grabbed Ruby's arms and squeezed them again. "I'll ask again and you tell me, okay? Do you want me to stay?"
Carefully, Ruby moved them apart and saw Weiss stare at her with confusion. A moment later, she closed the distance and wrapped her arms around Weiss' neck to hug her. It was always her favorite form of intimacy with Weiss – the simple hugs that they shared when things were hard or scary or uncertain, they always brought her comfort.
When Weiss' arms found their way around her, Ruby answered. "I want you to stay."
Apparently, neither of them heard the door open. "Oh for the love of – really Ruby? You couldn't wait until after the wedding?"
She and Weiss both turned to see Blake, in her full wedding dress, standing in the doorway and glaring at them with her ears pressed down on her head.
"At least I have a dance partner now! You don't have to stick me with Sun!"
Blake rolled her eyes. "Oh please, Yang was never going to let you dance with Sun, she had this big master plan to stick you with Weiss in hopes that you two would do, well, exactly this."
"Yang and her ridiculous schemes." Weiss groaned and Ruby couldn't agree more.
"Whatever, it doesn't matter. Weiss, we're swapping you with Sun. You sit at the table with Ruby, you walk down the isle with Ruby, you dance with Ruby." Blake turned to leave. "Also I'm taking you up on that offer to pay for my honeymoon!" She said as she quickly jogged down the hallway – her dress sashaying around her feet as she went.
Through the accompanying silence, Ruby felt Weiss staring at her and quickly turned to stare back. "You know my sister is going to make a big deal out of this, right?"
"Oh please," Weiss sighed. "My sister is going to have a field day."
Taking a step back, Ruby held out her hand. Despite a somewhat uncertain future – the present was currently as good as it could possibly be and Ruby felt like that was enough for now. "Shall we?"
Weiss took her hand, only to then take her free hand and gently lick her thumb before touching it to Ruby's cheek. "You've made a mess of your makeup."
"Ew," Ruby cringed as she dragged Weiss out of the room. "You licked me."
"I didn't not lick you." Weiss countered. "I am simply keeping you presentable – no date of mine is going to have black smudges on her face."
"Maybe I want black smudges on my face."
"You would – you remember how to dance, right?"
Ruby winced. "Uh…well…oh! That dance you taught me! I remember that one." She stopped and put her hands up by her face and started hopping like a bunny. "The foxtrot! Just like this, right?!"
"The new hip has not improved your sense of humor."
Undeterred, Ruby hopped over and threw her arms around Weiss' neck. "There's still time to back out."
Weiss kissed her.