Ladies and gentlemen, will you please stand?
With every guitar string scar on my hand,
I take this magnetic force of a man
to be my lover...
- 'Lover', Taylor Swift
Eliot had spent at least an hour making sure his hair was perfect. It had to be perfect. Everything had to be perfect. Nothing could go wrong today.
He will not allow it.
“Calm down El, you look perfect,” Margo says, rolling her eyes. A frustrated sound slips out as he fixes his tie yet again, barely sparing a glance at Margo in his mirror.
Margo sighs and slips off the chair she had been lounging on, smoothing down her dress before going over to do up Eliot’s tie for him. She tightens it up before smoothing it down, straightening his suit jacket and checking his cuff links for him too. Then she looks up at him, a hand resting on his chest soothingly.
“You’ve got this, El. Everything’s perfect. Okay?”
Eliot stares down at her for a long moment, taking in her floaty pink dress and hair that cascaded down her back in soft waves in an intricate half-up do, before a resigned smile makes its way onto his face, and he draws her into his chest for a hug. He holds her for a long moment, both taking comfort and reassurance from the other, and then he kisses her on the top of her head.
“You’re perfect, Bambi. You look amazing, as usual. I’m sorry I haven’t said that yet,” he mumbles into her hair, breathing in her familiar spicy-floral scent. The arms around his waist tighten slightly before she relaxes.
“Yeah well, I’ll give you a pass. This time,” she warns, but he can hear the smile in her voice.
“I just. I don’t know why I’m so nervous, it’s not like he’s going to drop me now.”
Margo snorts, unladylike. “Yeah, he’s totally going to get cold feet at the last minute.”
Her hand is already running a course up and down his back pacifyingly. “Relax, I’m just messing.”
“Not. Funny.” He gripes.
“Yeah, yeah, tell it to someone who cares,” she teases.
Eliot grumbles into her hair a bit more, but the truth is–he’s thankful she’s here, right now. She knows exactly how to get him to unwind while managing to blow his fears away at the same time. She always has known how to do that, his one-in-a-million Bambi; he could never imagine his life without her, can’t even remember the time in his life when he didn’t have her.
He lets out a quiet sigh before pulling back a bit, but not far enough to break either of their holds on each other. He holds her gaze in seriousness. “I love you Bambi, you know that right?”
He smiles gently when her eyes fill with tears but she blinks them back rapidly so they don’t fall and ruin her make-up. “Of course I do, but it’s still nice to hear it.” Her eyes searches his for a beat before she gives a nod. “I love you too, you know. I’m proud of you.” She says quietly.
“I know,” he replies, matching her volume.
Then she takes a step back and smooths down his suit jacket again.
“So, while we’re here, being all honest and serious,” Eliot starts, biting his lip to keep a straight face. “When are you going to pop the question?”
Margo raises a brow and lightly smacks his chest with the back of her hand. “Wouldn’t you like to know,” she grins, eyes glittering slyly.
Eliot laughs, the final anxious knot in his chest undoing itself. Then he loops arms with Margo and they both leave the room.
Eliot stops breathing when he turns to watch Quentin walk down the aisle.
Never, in a million years, would he have thought this would happen, that he would get to have this: to fall in love with someone so deeply that he wanted them to know his darkest secrets; to love that person so much that he is willing to better himself in every possible way; to love someone so wholly and completely that he wants to spend the rest of his life with them.
Quentin is grinning at him, his hair off his face in a neat bun, eyes shining with the hint of unshed tears.
He’s sexy as all hell.
He’s everything Eliot’s ever wanted.
And he falls in love with him all over again, like it’s the first time. Like they’re back at Brakebills, and he’s stepping up to that wide-eyed first year and says I’m Eliot; like he’s watching that first year on stage with his guitar singing Taylor Swift; like they’re back on the porch of the Cottage where they shared their first kiss; like they’re back in Eliot’s room, naked skin on naked skin; like they’re sitting in that café and he’s being told that you are not alone here; like they’re at Arielle’s Mosaic art puzzle and he’s thinking Jesus, I could spend an entire life with this man and never get tired; like they’re standing on the Cottage’s porch, and he’s being asked who gets that kind of proof of concept?; like he’s on stage with a dance he had titled Minor Mendings, full of hope and despair; like they’re in the safety of Quentin’s childhood room, and he’s having his tears kissed away; like they’ve just finished a song together on stage, and he’s being asked will you be the plum to my peach?
Each and every moment he’s spent with Quentin in the last seven years has culminated into this single instant–where they get to step up to the altar to show that their love is final.
That it’s forever.
Eliot never thought he’d get a year, or even two, with someone as good and true as Quentin. But they’ve had seven years, and they’re ready for at least another fifty more. Eliot’s heart feels full to bursting and he’s grinning back at Quentin as he offers up his hand for him to take, interlacing their fingers as they both turn to the officiate.
They had both decided to write their own vows, so when prompted, they turn to each other.
“Can I go first?” Q asks before he can say anything.
Eliot nods, wide grin tugging at his lips.
“Eliot. Remember when we first met? You stepped up to me, and told me I was late. But all I could think about was how gorgeous you were; as cheesy as it sounds, you captivated me from the moment I saw you, and you continued to captivate me for every moment after that too.” Quentin reaches out to take his other hand, rubbing his thumbs on the back of each as he stares earnestly up at Eliot. “So destiny is… It’s bullshit, but I feel like we were meant to meet there that day, in front of that Brakebills sign because–the minute I met you, it felt like something had clicked into place. It felt right.”
Eliot swallows the lump in his throat, choking up already at Quentin’s words. Christ, he doesn’t think he’s going to be able to make it through today without crying.
“And you showed me you loved me, even when you couldn’t admit to it just yet. But you did. You did eventually tell me, El. You showed me, when it truly mattered. You trusted me with your heart and. And I promise to continue looking after it, for as long as you’ll let me have it. For as long as I live. For our ups and downs. The beauty of all life, yeah? I want to live it with you.”
Quentin leans forward to kiss a tear slowly tracing its way down Eliot’s cheek. Then he steps back, still holding his hands, and smiles shyly at him. Eliot squeezes Q’s hands, mouthing I love you before clearing his throat.
“Q. I remember that day like it was yesterday. You were all cute and adorable, stumbling onto campus with this wide-eyed look, and it took everything in me not to just kiss you straight off the bat. I thank the stars every day that I was made your student guide. Aside from Bambi, you were the only person I wanted to tell all my darkest secrets to; all of my baggage, everything I didn’t like about myself–I wanted you to know. I wanted you to see me, in all of my entirety. And it was difficult, and it took me months of therapy and practise to be able to start telling you straight away when I was having a bad day.”
Eliot briefly thinks about the young man he had been, and his heart goes out to him; he had experienced so much in his short life that he had begun to believe that he could never have anything good, only to be proven wrong so fast that it had made his head spin. And he gazes down at the man who had been the proof he needed, and he doesn’t feel scared anymore–hasn’t felt it in a while. Instead, he feels elated. Excited. They had both come so far, and they were still going. Who needed more proof than that?
“So–do you remember the day we finally solved Arielle’s Mosaic? I’ve never told you this, but I think now is the right time; it had been your turn to set the pattern that time, so I was relegated to drawing it down. I had this bit of chalk in my hand, and the paper in my other, and I was just watching you lay down the tiles, and. And I had this passing thought that I could spend an entire life–the rest of my life–with you, and I would never get tired. You know? Because. Because I realised, in that moment, that you’re my home; you’re the one I want to go to when I’ve had a bad day; the one I want to go to when I’m having a good day; the one I want to fall asleep with at night, and the one I want to wake up to in the mornings. In that one thought, I realised that my beauty of all life meant getting to live it with you–and that was the solution to the puzzle. Quentin Coldwater is the key to my mosaic.”
Eliot blinks hard, trying to keep the tears at bay even as he watches Quentin’s fall, and he lets go of a hand to bop his nose before cupping his face, brushing away his tears with a gentle stroke of his thumb.
“Q, that thought alone both scared me, and consumed me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, but I knew that we were too young at the time to start thinking about forever. So I waited, and waited. Now, I think seven years is long enough.” He winks, and Quentin chuckles before nodding in agreement. “You have not betrayed my trust or my heart, not once, and I am more than happy for you to continue holding it for as long as you want it. I didn’t think I would ever get to be this happy with someone I love, but you have proven me wrong time and time again. You are my proof–who else can say they get that? So Q–my beautiful, amazing Q–lets live this life together.”
Margo’s at his side with his ring before Eliot’s even turning, and she’s smiling softly but proudly at him as he takes the gold band from her. He kisses her briefly on the cheek, murmuring a thank you, before his gaze goes back to Q. He doesn’t take his eyes off the love of his life as he slips his ring onto Quentin’s finger, nor when Quentin is slipping his own ring onto Eliot’s finger.
And then he’s kissing his husband gently, his hand cupping the back of his neck in the way Quentin likes, and Quentin’s thrown his own arms around Eliot’s neck, keeping him close as their guests made up of close family and friends bursts into cheers and hollers.
Eliot has danced with Margo, and with Julia, and with Alice. He has also danced with Josh, and Arielle, and Fen who has been dating Alice for the last couple of years, and even Kady. He’d gotten a semi-awkward hug from Penny, and an all-encompassing hug from Quentin’s father, Ted.
And through it all, Eliot could not take his eyes off Quentin who had not stopped smiling once; he looked so radiant making his rounds, also dancing with everyone who asks him for one. God, Eliot had so much love for his husband–his husband!–that he could feel it oozing out of his very soul.
It’s almost time for their first dance as a married couple, but Eliot figures he has time for one more glass of champagne. He’s busy at the refreshments table, refilling his flute of champagne when a self-conscious cough sounds in a microphone, and Eliot – turns, because he would know the sound of that cough anywhere. It’s the one Quentin does when he’s on stage every time, shy at the attention he receives by being in the spotlight even when he should be used to it by now.
“Hey, um. I just–I have a few words, before me and El share our first dance.”
Eliot melts, because Quentin’s just so nervous and adorable. But he’s also wondering what Quentin is doing, because a speech on the stage wasn’t in their party plans; he leaves his champagne on the table and wanders to the middle of the dance floor, and Quentin’s eyes catch his and–Eliot stops breathing. The absolute love and adoration he sees in those depths staggers him, and Eliot grins dopily up at his husband, who winks back. Quentin then goes to the side of the stage, where one of the live band members is standing, and gently takes the acoustic guitar he’s offering out. He settles the strap around his shoulders and walks back to the microphone stand.
“So. I have this song prepared–not an original, just a cover–but. The first time I even came close to telling El how I felt, I was up on a little stage just like this, with my old guitar. It was my first showcase at Brakebills and. And I sang this song because at that point, music was the only way I knew how to get my feelings across. So I sat down, and I did a cover of a Taylor Swift song, and that night–that night, El and I got together. And–and when we got engaged, we sang another song together. So um. Um. It stands to reason that, starting this new part of our lives together, I sing another cover for us. Tradition, right?”
There’s a few laughs, and Eliot knows he’s staring at his husband–God, calling Quentin his husband will never get old–with heart eyes. And Quentin only has eyes for him as he stands up there on stage and starts strumming.
“We could leave the Christmas lights up ‘til January;
This is our place, we make the rules.
And there’s a dazzling haze,
A mysterious way about you, dear.
Have I known you twenty seconds, or twenty years?”
Without him noticing, Eliot has drawn close to the stage until he’s right in front of Quentin, Margo’s arm looped through his and Julia on her other side. All three sway in time to the music, as if they were back at Q’s showcase in Brakebills, but they’ve all changed; they’ve all grown now, all more emotionally available with less baggage, all successful–Eliot was still on his way to principle dancer, Q’s career was still taking off, Margo was now not only a lead actress in her theatre, but also stage manager in some of the plays, and Julia… Julia was working towards becoming a directing assistant in small-time television (“Next step–worldwide film director!”). The bumpy road they had taken to get here? Eliot wouldn’t change it for another. He only needs to look up at his gorgeous husband to know that.
When Q finishes his cover with a soft note, Eliot jumps up onto the stage to kiss him, smiling as he leans into it. Quentin tastes like champagne and chocolate and strawberries, and it becomes Eliot’s favourite flavour. It’s sweet and dark, chaste yet filthy–a kiss full of promise for later.
They only break away when they’re ushered back onto the dance floor for their first dance, and when the song starts, Eliot draws Quentin in close to wrap his arms around his waist while Q places his around his neck so they can slow dance.
“I love you, you know that?” Eliot says quietly, touching foreheads with Q.
Quentin grins, saying, “Well, I would hope so considering you just married me.”
Eliot rolls his eyes but places a quick, closed-mouth kiss on his lips anyway.
“You look amazing in your suit, by the way. Have I said that yet? And you were spectacular up there. Thank you for that,” he murmurs.
Quentin’s cheeks bloom a faint shade of red, eyes darting to the side bashfully before meeting Eliot’s, a mischievous spark lighting them up.
“You’re looking pretty amazing yourself,” Quentin says, before he rises up to whisper in his ear, “Can’t wait to get you out of your suit though.”
A strangled groan slips out before Eliot can bite it back. Fuck. How does Quentin still manage to make him react like a horny teenager even after all these years?
“Jesus Q, behave, we have an audience.” He replies, half-jokingly.
Quentin gives him a wicked grin before shrugging his shoulders. “Thought you were an exhibitionist?”
Eliot laughs and spins Quentin out before pulling him back into his chest. “Just don’t want anyone else to see you naked, darling,” he drawls, low and hot into Q’s ear, smiling delightedly when he feels him shudder in response.
Before Quentin can reply, Eliot gives him a slow, lazy kiss under the soft glow of the disco lights, the music fading out into the quiet hum of the background.
Eliot flails, getting tangled in the sheets as he almost falls off the bed when loud screaming and yelling wakes him up the next morning. He scrambles to catch himself, sitting up and murmuring a sleep-confused “What?” as he blinks blearily around, his brain trying to comprehend what is going on; he absently notes that Quentin is not in bed where he should be.
There’s more yelling, making Eliot start to untangle himself from the sheets so he can get out of bed as he briefly wonders if someone is getting murdered, when Quentin appears in the doorway in Eliot’s silk robe, eyes bright and shouting, “Taylor Swift called us her favourite couple!”
Eliot groans and flops back onto the bed, dragging a pillow over his face.