A/N I want to thank AThingofBeauty, Anita Rez, and gxsdoug for looking this over. Beauty and Squidley each made comments in the forum that I modified and used, with their permission. I want to dedicate this to all those long time Leonard and Penny admirers, who, like me, have been waiting for this for years.
The Ring Revisitation.
Penny was leaning back on the couch. Leonard had said he had to run to his apartment and get some things. She took a sip of the wine Leonard had poured to celebrate their engagement. She was holding her left hand out, looking at her ring.
The white gold gleamed and even the smaller diamonds, on the band, sparkled. While her grin hadn't faded since Leonard had put it on, she was still shocked at the ring. Why did he get such a large diamond along with so many smaller diamonds? He didn't need to get something like this, I would have accepted any kind of ring from him, but, she loved this one. After all, Leonard found and bought this one. Tears started forming in her eyes.
She saw a piece of the fake black monkey hair between her finger and her ring and she carefully pulled it out and dropped it on the floor, leaving her just admiring the ring. She looked up as Leonard walked through the door. As he closed it, she saw that he had some clothes, his robe and a paper bag.
He paused and turned at the bedroom door, "We spent last night over there, and I just want to spend tonight here, just us, OK?"
Penny smiled and nodded, "I'd love that." He turned to walk into the bedroom. Penny called out, "Did you say anything to Sheldon?"
She could hear his muffled reply, "No, he's involved in whatever he was doing on the computer, something about looking for a new field of study. So, I just told him we were staying over here tonight."
"Good," Penny said with a smile. "I want everyone to be there when we announce it."
"Well, so do I," Leonard said as he came out of the bedroom. He looked at her and said with a sly smile, "So, what do you think, of being the future Mrs. Hofstadter?"
"Oh God." Penny exclaimed.
"What's wrong?" said Leonard walking over to the couch.
"Mrs. Hofstadter," said Penny. "Your mother is called that. How will she feel about me being Mrs Hofstadter?"
"Well, to be pedantic," Leonard said, "she's Dr. Hofstadter, and she's divorced, so Mrs doesn't really apply. Besides, I think she has a soft spot for you."
Penny giggled, "Oh, that's good to know. I guess I'll just be plain Mrs. Penny Hofstadter."
Leonard sat down next to her, look at her lovingly, and said softly, "You'll never be 'plain' to me, you'll always be 'THE' Mrs Hofstadter. You know, I've been looking forward to this since that day you moved in."
"I know," she said smiling, "I kinda figured that out a while ago."
"Sooooo," started Leonard, "now that were engaged, do you have a time frame for the wedding?"
"No, Leonard, I don't." Penny said, "I want to talk to my parents and get some information from them." She paused, "How about this, give me some time to get some ideas for the wedding. We have time to think about who, what, when, where and how." She smiled slyly at him, "We also have to figure out what we're going to do with Sheldon."
"I say we turn him over to Amy," chuckled Leonard. "Actually, let me think about how the living arrangements will work out. Can we discuss moving in together?"
"Again, we have time Leonard," said Penny. "We practically live together now. It's like we have a two bedroom, two bath, two kitchen apartment, with an attached Sheldon. We just chose what side of the hall we sleep in each night." Putting her hands on his arms, she said, "Let's enjoy getting engaged for tonight. We can start talking about all of that tomorrow."
"Yeah, OK," Leonard said. "No more worries about the engagement tonight, let's just enjoy it."
"Hold on." Penny continued timidly, "Can I ask you something?"
"I know you said it didn't matter, and it really doesn't." She held out her hand and looked at the ring and continued uncertainly, "But, I want to know, when did you get the ring?"
Leonard looked a bit embarrassed, but a smile started to form and he said, "Do you remember when they made Sheldon take his vacation..."
"That was a couple of months ago, you said..."
"No, no." Leonard interrupted. "The week he worked with Amy, before Howard and Bernadette got married."
Penny's eyes opened wide, "That far back? We hadn't been back together that long...what a few weeks? How...why...what?" Penny looked confused.
Leonard chuckled, "Well you said you thought about us getting married."
"When did I say that?"
"We were walking down the stairs," Leonard explained, "and you mentioned how Bernadette wanted a pre-nup and you asked me if I would sign one if you were a big star. I was surprised you thought about us getting married at that point."
Penny was completely lost, "I don't remember any of that."
"Yeah, you said you thought about getting married, about us breaking up, and something about hitting another car."
Penny was thinking hard, she couldn't remember the conversation at all and it showed on her face.
Leonard saw the look grinned, "I was startled by the fact that YOU were thinking about us being married. That got ME thinking, and a few days later when I was out, I was walking past a jewelry store and I stopped to look at the rings in the window. I saw this one," he said, taking her hand and rubbing his thumb on the ring, "I thought was perfect for you."
"How'd you know what size ring I needed and how big of a diamond I would want," something else occurred to her, "and how much did you pay for it?"
"The price is none of your business," he said. "As for the rest, I didn't know, but I thought, logically, what would the most beautiful woman I know want." Penny smiled at that as Leonard continued, "I knew you well enough to know that you would want a diamond for your engagement."
Her smile got bigger, and she said, "You know me pretty well, Hofstadter."
"Yeah, and to think I still want to marry you," chuckled Leonard. Penny made a face at him, then smiled as he continued. "Really, I just wanted to make it obvious that your fiancé loved you," said Leonard, grinning back.
"Yeah, you've done that." She said sweetly, then, questionably, "So, you've had that sitting in your wallet for over two years?"
His smile slipped a bit, "Well, I took it out and hid it away a couple of times."
"I don't understand."
"Well," he started sadly, "there were times where I thought we weren't going to make it, so I took the ring out of my wallet and had it hidden away."
"What do you mean?" she demanded.
"Think about it Penny," said Leonard. "There were several times when I wasn't sure we were going to get to this point."
Penny thought back, "You mean the proposals?"
"Yeah, but not so much the proposals, but your reaction to them."
"Wait," said Penny with realization "you had it with you when you proposed in bed?"
Leonard looked embarrassed. "Obviously, I didn't have it on me, but it was in my wallet."
Penny looked surprised.
Leonard continued, "I thought about grabbing it, but you were so...so...so pissed off and ran out here. So, I came out, thought that I would cool you down, go get it, and propose. But, I realized while I was talking to you that you weren't going to cool down and it was obvious you weren't ready to get married, so I just got dressed and left."
Penny could tell how sad the last sounded, "So, what made you propose anyway?"
"There were all the Bernadette and Howard wedding things going on," said Leonard. "I had bought the ring so I guess it was just on my mind." "Not to mention the blood flow to my brain was a bit low due to the circumstances so I just blurted it out.
Penny laughed, "Yeah your timing wasn't the best there."
Leonard smiled and said, "See, I told you we'd laugh about it someday." Leonard joined in laughing with Penny for a few seconds, then he got serious, "Your reaction made me think about how upset you were and what happened after I said, 'I love you'. It looked to me like I had pissed you off and you'd break up with me again, I hoped you would keep dating me."
Penny looked down, "Breaking up was my first thought. I was freaking out again, like after the 'I love you'. But, then I remembered how lonely I felt after we broke up, how much I missed you and that terrible time when you were dating Priya and I thought I lost you. Over the next couple of days, I thought some more about it."
"I didn't even think about giving you an answer, but decided I wasn't going to break up with you. I would just wait until I saw you and bring it up. Then I saw you and I couldn't think of a word to say. I was hoping you would say something, but when you didn't I was just going to run off to work."
Leonard sighed, "I was so scared when I caught you in the hallway, so I hesitated. Then you started down the stairs and I realized I had to know. After you said no to the proposal, but we could keep dating, there was no reason to carry the ring around, so I put it away, I hid it in the bottom of my dresser."
Penny was intrigued, "So when did you get it back out?"
"After you said 'I love you' and the thing with Alex," explained Leonard. "You had finally said 'I love you' and if you were insecure about me having another woman interested in me, I felt you were committed to me and were possibly ready for a proposal. I was just looking for a good time to bring it up."
Penny again was surprised, but remembering something she said, "We had the problem about moving in together a couple of weeks later, so you put it away, right?"
Leonard smiled, "No, I almost put it away when you had the problem with us moving in together, but I came up with the idea that we could have a long engagement to give you time to get over it. I didn't realize your problem extended to being afraid of getting married."
"Valentine's Day was coming up," Leonard said, "and I thought of taking you to a really nice restaurant and proposing on Valentine's Day. So, I got the reservations and when Howard broke his present to Bernadette, I thought it would be great to have Howard and Bernadette there. You weren't there when Howard proposed, but I thought having them there when you got engaged would make up for it a little."
"I had taken the ring out of the dresser and was carrying it with me that night," said Leonard. "I told the waiter what I was planning and to be ready to bring a bottle of champagne. Then you saw that couple and got all pissed off."
Penny looked shocked, "Wait, you mean you were actually going to propose that night?
"Yes, I was."
"You weren't just doing it because he proposed to her?"
Leonard said very seriously, "No, I was not doing it because of them. I was doing it because of us."
Penny blinked a few times, trying to control her tears. "I'm sorry Leonard." She paused, "To be honest, you were talking about the romance ninja and it crossed my mind that you might propose and it scared me. That's why I got so pissed off when I saw those two; it gave me an excuse. Then you getting down on one knee just after he did, it seemed more like a reaction to their proposal not a real one."
Leonard shook his head in resignation. "Well, yeah, the timing was my reaction to try to get your mind off of it, but you told me to get up right away and then we argued. When we talked later, I understood you still weren't ready, which is why I told you that you would have to propose. I was willing to wait until you were ready. Since I wasn't the one who was going to propose, back into the bottom of my dresser it went."
Penny looked at him, "I was serious about being so happy with you and being freaked out about thinking of getting married. After you told me I had to propose, I felt relieved about the whole thing. Over the next couple of months, we kept getting closer."
"After a while," Penny said, "you were practically living here, I enjoyed it so much that it was silly to be bothered by living with you. Thoughts of proposing to you started creeping into my head." Her voice cracked, "Then...then... you went away for the summer."
She paused to regain her composure, "The good thing, it was so wonderful being together with you those first few days you were back, like you belonged here. After those first few days, it was weird like we had to get to know each other again, almost like our relationship went backwards. We did do a lot of sniping at each other for a while."
"Then there was that stupid thing when I found out I was married to Zack," Penny said with disgust. "I know it seemed that I was angry at you that day, but I wasn't pissed at you so much as I was pissed at myself, I was just taking it out on you. Even I could tell you were upset with this, I really thought you were going to just dump me. I was just so happy you were so understanding. I know you were snippy about it, but I would have been a lot worse if the situation had been reversed. I wanted to get an annulment as soon as possible, that's why I called Zack to come over."
Penny continued, "It was right after that, when I started thinking about proposing. I couldn't do anything until I got the annulment approved, but I started looking back and I realized that all the good things that happened to me, over the last few years, were when we were together or you were doing something for me."
"All the bad times I had were when we were apart. I knew I'd never find anyone else that was as understanding as you, that would love me as much as you did. I really did love you and the idea of proposing kept getting stronger and stronger in my mind."
Penny sighed, "After that whole part on television thing happened, and I quit The Cheesecake Factory to work on acting." She looked guilty, "I didn't think you really were supporting me. You said you were, but then you would do something like telling me you were glad I got my job back, I just didn't know"
"Then you bought me the car." Penny's voice cracked, "That was a big commitment, and showed you really did support me. Not just with words, but with your actions and it brought home to me how committed you were to me. I needed to show you I was committed to you. I know it seems like it was a rush decision, but I've been thinking about it and getting fired today made me realize what was important."
Penny paused her eyes tearing up, looking at Leonard. "Can I asked why you had it with you now, when I was supposed to propose?"
Leonard got up, walking to the kitchen, "Do you want some tea?"
Penny looked puzzled, but said, "Yeah, that sounds good."
Leonard put the kettle on, got out the cups and put the tea bags in the cups. He then walked back to the couch and sat down, "Now, what was the question?"
"Why did you have the ring with you?"
Leonard looked thoughtful, "When you were drunk and proposed, I didn't know what to say, as you know. By proposing, you obviously had thought about proposing and getting married. Being drunk evidently allowed you to express something you couldn't do sober. I just couldn't say yes, because you were drunk and upset. It wouldn't have been fair to you and I wanted it to come from your heart, when you were ready."
Penny smiled and nodded, "I was so relieved the next morning when I woke up, remembering what I said and your answer. It was another demonstration of your understanding."
"Then, last Sunday at the funeral," said Leonard, "we actually talked about the different proposals, and you didn't freak out. We made jokes and I was giving you a hard time about it. Finally, you got tired of the joking, but you didn't get mad, you just kind of gave up, like you knew I was just fooling around with you."
Penny reached over and rubbed Leonard's arm.
Leonard continued, "This past Monday, the day after the funeral, I pulled the ring out and put it in my wallet. After that mess on Valentine's Day, I wasn't going to bring it out, or say anything until you proposed. I kind of thought you'd have a ring. After all, I asked for the 'whole nine yards'. But, I put the ring in my wallet because I wanted to be sure I had one for you, when you did propose. I just didn't realize it would be so soon."
He chuckled slightly, "The way this worked out tonight was much better, more like you. You don't do well when you try to be romantic, you do better with romance when you don't try."
Penny looked at him in mock anger, playfully slapping Leonard's arm.
Leonard laughed, "Really, this work out so much better, in a way." Leonard's laugh relaxed into a smile, "I did kid you about it, but I really didn't think that you did a second proposal on Sunday, so it really was two to two, in number of proposals. When you suggested getting married tonight, that made it three to two and it gave me an opening to do a proper proposal to you and give you the ring." Leonard stopped, looking at Penny, "So, when are we getting married?"
Penny stared at him, "I told you, we have time to think about it." She smiled slyly, "Hmmmmmm, if you're so worried about it, we could always run off to Vegas for one of those fake weddings, that way, we can play at being married until we do get married."
Leonard looked at her strangely, "Ummm, remember, those are real."
Penny now had a wicked grin, "Yeah, I know. Remember, I said I'd be marring for love, the next time?"
Leonard tried to get back at her, "Welllllll, you also said 'or money'."
Penny was still grinning, "That's because I know you have the money, you bought me a car. So I'm marrying for love AND money, what more could I ask for?" She stopped, glaring at Leonard, "Except for some time to think about the date for the wedding."
Leonard looked contrite, until Penny started laughing. They enjoyed a short laugh together.
Penny became serious, "Really, Leonard, I want to wait for a bit while I work on my career. I'm getting roles, I just have to get one where I'm seen on-screen. Just remember, now that we're engaged, I want us to work together on everything."
"I tried to help with you with the tenure thing, and you talked to me about going away. I know you've helped me with the car and I should have talked to you about quitting. I try to do better, but let's continue working on being a team."
Leonard nodded as the kettle whistled. He got up, went to the kitchen and poured the water into the cups. He brought them over. "Oh, wait, let me go get something, I brought from across the hall." Leonard ran into the bedroom and was back a couple of seconds later, carrying the paper bag.
"I want you to know I'm on your team...our team...for ever." He sat down as a slight smile formed on his face, "I've got something else to toast to our engagement." He reached into the bag and pulled out two items. He gave Penny one of the items, holding on to the other.
She looked at it smiling. She raised it up and Leonard touch his Strawberry pop-tart to hers.
"To our engagement and marriage," said Leonard.
"To our engagement and marriage," said Penny, "I love you. Leonard."
"I love you too, Penny," said Leonard. They both took a bite from their pastry and smiled at each other.