"When your legs don't work like they used to before and I can't sweep you off of your feet, will your mouth still remember the taste of my love? Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?... When my hair's all but gone and my memory fades and the crowds don't remember my name. When my hands don't play the strings the same way, I know you will still love me the same." – Ed Sheeran, 'Thinking Out Loud'
She ran a hand over the embroidery of her dress, touched the makeup on her face once more, and fixed a stray hair. She fidgeted when there was nothing left to fidget with and still looked for more reprieve. A warm body pressed into her side, almost as if sensing she needed the comfort and Aria smiled as she looked down at her daughter- at their daughter she thought, correcting herself. Ava stared back up at her, eyes adjusting to the brightness of the room after having just awoken from her nap not too long ago.
"Are you ready, Baby Girl?" Aria asked gently, smoothing her hand over Ava's hair. "I think that Daddy's waiting for us."
Ava nodded but Emily turned to place one last flower in the little girl's basket before nodding her approval as well.
"I think that we're about set," Emily said with a smile. She motioned with her head towards the door. "You ready to get married?"
Aria sucked in a deep breath, her nerves once again on edge. This was Ezra she was walking down the aisle towards, she could do this. Aria nodded after a moment and pushed to her feet. Just then a knock sounded from the door and Aria turned her head to see her brother, Mike, sticking his head into the room. Seeing that everyone was fully dressed, he entered the room completely and slowly approached Aria. He was silent for a few moments and Aria began to wonder if he was having doubts about everything. She knew she was. She wasn't doubting her love for Ezra, but that didn't stop the thousands of thoughts that filled her mind regarding whether she'd be a good mother, a good wife, a good-
"You look beautiful," Mike said quietly, breaking her from her thoughts. "Mom and Dad would be so proud of you. Of us."
Aria felt herself start to tear up at her brother's words. She pulled him into a fierce hug, trying unsuccessfully to stop the flow of tears before they overwhelmed her.
"I wish they could be here," she whispered into his suit jacket. "But I'm glad that I at least have you."
Pulling away, Mike caught the last of her tears on his hand and handed her a tissue. Shooting her a lopsided grin, he offered her his elbow.
"How about we get this show on the road? I think we've had enough tears for one day."
Aria let out a short giggle and nodded, quickly composing herself and nodding towards Emily who gently guided Ava out the door as the processional music started to play.
She took one final ragged breath before joining them, eager to put a permanence to the happiness that had engulfed her life. When they finally stepped into the small vestibule and her eyes locked with Ezra's, she knew that everything was finally falling into place.
"You look stunning," Ezra whispered into her neck as they danced after the ceremony later that night. "Absolutely gorgeous."
Aria smiled into his shoulder and pulled him tighter. Their wedding had been small; they'd only invited a handful of friends and family members. Afterwards, they'd retreated back to Aria and Ezra's house where Emily, Hardy and Spencer had transformed their backyard into a magical venue appropriate for a celebration. Tea lights decorated almost every visible surface and candles burned atop the small tables they'd placed around the yard. Everything circled a small clearing they'd made for a mock-dance floor and Aria couldn't have been happier with the setup. It was perfect.
"You can thank Emily for cleaning me up," Aria responded to Ezra. "She was at it for hours."
Ezra chuckled as he pulled away slightly so that he could see her. "You could have done nothing and I would still think that you're the most beautiful woman that I've ever seen."
Aria felt a blush fill her cheeks at his words. She feared she'd never get use to his constant compliments. She guessed that that's how husbands were supposed to act, though. Husband. That word still seemed foreign to her.
"Well thank you."
Ezra smiled in response and leaned forward to gently kiss her lips. Before she could get too lost in him, however, a slight tug at the hem of her dress broke them apart. Aria glanced down and caught sight of Ava, her hands raised towards Ezra in expectation.
"I wanna dans wit you, Daddy," Ava asked shyly.
Ezra chuckled and bent to scoop her into his arms, twirling a couple of times before slowing down into a gentle waltz.
"Come on, Ava Bear," Ezra said smiling. "I think your mommy will let us have a song or two."
Aria nodded and Ezra leaned over to press a kiss to her cheek before pulling away. Aria took that as her que to leave and headed for the makeshift bar that Toby was tending.
"There's the beautiful bride," Toby greeted, pressing his own kiss to her cheek. "What'll you have? Champagne? Wine? Beer?"
Aria giggled but shook her head. "I'll just have a water for now, Toby. Thanks, though." She hadn't been feeling all too well as of late and didn't want to chance getting sick on her wedding day.
He gave her a strange look but nodded before responding. "Coming right up!"
She turned to lean against the bar top, her gaze once more being pulled towards her husband and daughter. They seemed so happy and Aria could relate to their joy, this was probably one of the happiest days of her life. The soft creak of the wood she rested against taking on additional weight alerted Aria to someone's presence and she turned to find Hardy coming to rest beside her.
"You know, I think that you owe me a new roommate," Hardy teased, gently nudging her shoulder with his own. "It's unfair that I have to pay the mortgage completely on my own now."
Aria let out a laugh, letting her fingers play over the cool condensation from the glass in her hand. "I'll see what I can do."
They were silent for a moment, taking in the night and relishing in the fact that they didn't feel the need to fill the empty air with words. Hardy had always been the easiest person to get along with and Aria was glad to have met him. When the slow dance music suddenly turned into an upbeat pop song, Aria watched in amusement as Ezra set Ava on her feet and they proceeded to start bouncing across the dance floor. Watching them, Aria felt her stomach start to turn. She quickly gulped down some water.
"So when are you going to tell him?" Hardy asked, breaking his gaze from the dance floor to look at her.
Aria knitted her brows in confusion. "Tell him?"
Hardy looked at her pointedly. "I have four sisters and five nieces and nephews. Come on, Aria, it's easy to put two and two together," he said, smiling at her. "You've looked a little green for the better part of a week now..."
Aria stilled. "You think…"
She didn't finish her statement but she knew that she didn't have to, the answer was written across Hardy's face. He chuckled, threw back the rest of his drink and gave her arm a quick squeeze before disappearing back on to the dance floor. Aria was left speechless. She had been feeling sick for the past week or two, and Hardy's explanation would certainly explain why. Shaking her head, she decided that it didn't matter if she was or she wasn't. She was certain that she'd be ready for that next step whenever it came.
Before she could get too lost inside of her own thoughts, however, Ezra was once again at her side, slightly out of breath from the crazy dance moves he and Ava had been pulling off.
"Hey, you ok?" He asked, taking in her posture and far away expression. He gratefully accepted a beer from Toby and took a large swig before turning back towards her, eyes still questioning.
"Yeah, I'm good," Aria responded, running a hand through her hair. She cocked her head towards the somewhat private bench hidden in one corner of the yard. "Want to sit with me for a second?"
"I'd love nothing more," Ezra grinned and quickly grabbed her hand, leading them over to the bench.
When they finally sat, Aria couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief, her feet were killing her in her heels. Ezra noticed her discomfort and reached down to remove the treacherous shoes, rubbing her feet slightly before sitting back up.
"Thank you," Aria whispered, locking her gaze with his. Her heart picked up its pace, as was the norm lately, just from the mere connection that instantly sparked between them.
Ezra reached forward and brushed the back of his hand down her cheek. "Anything for you," he whispered back, a small smile tugging at his lips. Not for the first time that evening, he lent down and kissed her softly. She felt as if the world stopped in that moment and everything around them disappeared. Would it always be like this between them? She really hoped it would be.
When they pulled apart, Aria felt cold without the connection and pressed herself into his side to regain the warmth his body offered. She tucked her head into the crook of his neck and shared in the silent moment engulfing them, staring off towards the small group that had gathered to share in this day with them.
"I'm thinking I'll finally be able to apply for graduation in a couple of months," Ezra told her, breaking the silence. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her tighter against him. "Then I'll have my college degree and can start freelancing for local publishing houses or newspapers."
"That'd be nice," Aria hummed. "You'll do great."
Ezra nodded and pressed a kiss to the crown of her head. "It's funny, though, how all of that seems irrelevant now."
Aria pulled back slightly to look up at him in question.
"I've got everything I've ever wanted," Ezra shrugged. "I'm finally happy and as long as I've got you and Ava, I think that I'll be ok."
Aria felt tears form in her eyes. They'd both gone through a lot to get to this moment but she was certain that everything had been worth it.
"I love you," she whispered, reaching up to cup his cheek.
Ezra leaned forward and pressed his forehead to hers. "More. I love you so much more."
Aria smiled at his response and leaned forward until her lips were mere millimeters from his own. "That's not possible. How about we conceded that we love each other equally."
Ezra laughed, his lips brushing hers as he did. "Ok," he whispered. "Same." Finally, their lips connected and once again, the world faded away.