A/N: This is darker than anything I've written before, and I take a harder look at a few issues the show makes jokes out of; Sheldon's aversion/Amy's desire for sex, Penny's drinking, and Leonard's ever changing mind and heart. Pay attention to all warnings, flames regarding things I've warned about including pairings with be immediate deleted and ignored so let's not waste our time. Chapter specific warnings will be included at the end of the chapter for those who do not wished to be spoiled.
The first wedding Penny ever attended was her cousin Maryann's when she was seven years old. She remembered The First Baptist Church being covered in lilac trimmings and lily blossoms. Penny herself had been allowed to wear a pretty new lavender dress that made her friend Lauren green with envy. Her parents were part of the wedding party and so Penny and her brother were told to sit quietly and behave. Her brother had a game-boy to hold his attention, but Penny was bored as she absently flipped through an old hymnal.
After what seemed like hours, but was probably only about twenty minutes, the ceremony finally started. Penny enjoyed watching the ladies in varying shades of purple taffeta as they were escorted down the aisle on the arms of handsome men dressed in gray tuxedos as the organ played. The tune changed to the bridal march and Penny stood and turned to face the back of the church along with the rest of the assembly as the blushing bride made her appearance on the arm of Penny's uncle.
To Penny's young eyes, her cousin was beautiful. The white satin dress fell in waves and folds around her form and the crown of the veil sparkled with diamond-like studs where it was woven into her expertly curled brown hair.
Penny sighed happily as she grinned at the passing young woman and rolled her eyes at her brother who was till entranced by his video game. Then Penny heard them.
Three women, known by the whole town as the Pinkerton Sisters, sat directly behind her. They were the oldest and most respected people in town, though Penny had heard her father complain about them on multiple occasions.
"Well, here comes the no good hussy who can't keep her legs crossed," a shaky old voice muttered loud enough for Penny to hear.
As Penny listened to their derisive commentary, the beautiful scene before her eyes melted into an awkward nightmare.
They had first berated Penny's young cousin, who had just turned eighteen, for having to marry so young. Penny leaned forward to look at the groom and was dismayed to see that while he was handsome, he was much older than Maryann, hair and beard already starting to gray. The look on his face was a mixture of nervousness and shame. Penny's mother had always said that people married when they were in love, but as she really looked at the bride and groom neither of them seemed to be very happy and they certainly didn't act like they were in love.
According to the Pinkerton Sisters, he had cheated on his wife of ten years and then left her and his children to marry Penny's cousin today. The sisters also seemed to obsess about the way the bride's dress was stretched tight around her middle. Overall Penny was left with the impression that if you were young and fat when you got married you would be ridiculed.
Over the next few weeks, Penny became obsessively worried that something like that might one day happen to her. Penny went from being the class flirt who loved a good doughnut to refusing to interact with boys and leaving her meals barely touched. When she passed out in gym class her teacher sent her to the nurse who made her drink some juice and asked point blank why she wasn't eating.
She told the nurse about the Pinkerton sisters talking bad about her cousin because she married while she was young and fat, and it made the nurse laugh.
"Oh sweetie, your cousin's not fat, she's pregnant. Her tummy is big because she's going to have a baby. Some old fashion people, like the Pinkerton sisters, think its bad to have a baby on the way before you get married. Not everybody thinks like that though. And anyway, not eating isn't going to make it not happen to you. So you eat up all your lunch today, you hear me?"
Penny had nodded, and ended up convincing her mother to give her the sex talk when she got home that night. Armed with knowledge, Penny was able to relax and be her old self again. Still, her first wedding had made quite the impression.
Now as she looked around the surprisingly tasteful chapel in Vegas, Penny wondered what the Pinkerton Sister's would have to say about her wedding.
Penny wanted to marry Leonard, she really did. She loved him, but was upset about his confession on the drive out there. Not so much that he had made-out with the woman on the boat, but that he felt the need to tell her about it the same night he expected her to say, "I do." It was like he was saying that he messed up but she wasn't allowed to be mad at him about it. After him accusing her of ruining Valentine's Day, she would not put it past him to say she was ruining their wedding night as well. And so, she held her tongue.
While Leonard paid and arranged things, Penny excused herself to the restroom. She looked at herself critically in the mirror under florescent lights. The short hair cut made her look older and more responsible than she felt, which was why she had cut it in the first place. Something inside her had died when she finally shut the door on her life long dream to be an actress. She did it for Leonard. New grown-up hair, new grown-up job... Penny, the girl who swore she would never change for anyone, had become someone different for her future husband.
Not that she didn't like the person she had become. Everyone was so proud of her, from her friends to her family. They were all so proud she had finally grown up. They believed that this was the best thing that could happen for her. If so many people that knew and loved her believed that she was doing the right thing then it had to be true, right?
Penny sighed and pulled a few small bottles of Smirnoff out of her purse. She downed them quickly and then rinsed her mouth out so that Leonard wouldn't taste it on her. Probably not a good sign that she was starting off her marriage with a deception however slight, but she was afraid either he or she wouldn't go through with it. And she was so ready for it to be over and done with. She was sick of this unfulfilled promise hanging over her head. She wanted to either get married or break-up right now. And she was afraid of losing too many people out of her life that she loved if they broke up.
She grinned as the warmth from the alcohol hit her and the tension in her shoulders began to ebb away. She may not have the best reason to get married, but it was still better than Maryann's.
The ride home the next morning had been filled with Leonard grinning uncontrollably and saying things like, "Hello, Mrs. Hofstadter!"... and "I can't believe we're finally married!" Penny mostly kept a hand over her eyes in an attempt to ease her pounding head. There had been more drinking after the "I Do's" and she had forgotten to take some aspirin before bed.
Luckily, Leonard didn't seem to mind as he prattled on and on about the different neighborhoods he wanted to start house hunting in and why. Half-way home Penny pretended to fall asleep.
She 'woke-up' as they pulled into the parking lot of their apartment building. As they entered the building Leonard, smiling, commented on how much he had enjoyed living here and would miss it. By the time they reached their landing, he was short of breath saying how he couldn't wait to live somewhere not accessed by five flights of stairs.
"You're just tired from the late night and all that driving," Penny said with a yawn. Leonard frowned at her. "Yeah, I didn't have a good long nap like you did," he grumbled and unlocked his apartment door.
They walked into the apartment and stopped short at the sight in front of them. Sheldon had built another blanket fort like he had with Amy a few months ago. The whole place was quiet except for the soft sound of muffled crying.
"Sheldon? Sweetie, are you okay?" Penny asked worriedly as Leonard rolled his eyes and huffed.
There was no response from the 'fort', but the volume of sobbing increased slightly. Penny ignored Leonard, and shifted through the hanging sheets as she looked for an opening. After a few minutes of futile searching, she finally gave up and just tugged really hard on the sheet in her hand. The whole thing fell down and she glared at Leonard and motioned for him to help her.
It took a few minutes but they were finally able to uncover their sobbing friend. Sheldon was wearing the same clothes he had on when they had left for Vegas the night before. Penny pulled him to her in a hug and felt her heart lurch when his arms came up to hug her back without being prompted. He must really be upset to not only accept a hug from her, but to cling the way he was.
"Sheldon, please tell us what happened," Leonard asked in a gentle voice as he knelt next to them.
"A-amy broke up with m-me," he wailed and buried his face in Penny's shirt. She and Leonard winced at each other and Penny tightened her hold on Sheldon.
"It's okay, Sheldon. I know it hurts right now, but you're not alone. I promise it will be okay," she murmured, running a hand through his hair. He shook his head, but was unable to speak as he cried harder and continued clinging to her.
"Sheldon, is this an engagement ring?" Leonard asked, holding up the open ring box he had accidentally knelt on.
Sheldon nodded and finally pulled back from Penny's embrace. He took a couple of deep breaths and then looked up at them sniffling. "I wanted to take her to dinner so I could propose. I even created 'The Engagement Contract', but before I could invite her to dinner she said she needed to take some time away from m-me..." he got through the whole explanation before dissolving into tears again.
Almost an hour later they were tucking him into bed with warm milk. Penny started to sing 'Soft Kitty', but he stopped her.
"Soft Kitty is for when your sick, I'm not sick," he insisted.
Penny smiled at him affectionately.
"A broken heart is a kind of sickness," Leonard pointed out.
Sheldon thought about that for a moment and then nodded.
After singing the song several times, Sheldon had wanted Leonard to hear him and Penny sing it as a round, the newly weds bid their friend goodnight and headed to Leonard's room.
"I'm so exhausted I can't even see straight with my glasses," he complained handing Penny one of his clean t-shirts and boxers to sleep in. She put them on as he got ready for bed and then frowned when he collapsed face first onto a pillow.
"So, second night as husband and wife and we're not gonna have sex?" She asked, even though she really wasn't in the mood.
He let out an exaggerated sigh and flopped over onto his back, spread eagle.
"Do whatever you want, just don't wake me," he teased, eyes falling shut.
Penny giggled and rolled her eyes. Then she sighed and climbed into bed.
"I know you wanted to announce our marriage to everyone tomorrow night at dinner, but I think we should wait a week or so," Penny said, carefully watching his face.
He sighed and opened his eyes, "You think so?"
"We need to give Sheldon and Amy a little while to figure out where they stand before doing anything that might rub our happiness in their faces," she pointed out, pleading silently for him to understand.
He sat up and scooted back to lean against the headboard.
"But what if they can't fix things?" He asked.
"They will! I'm going to call Amy over first thing in the morning. She and Sheldon are going to talk it out if I have to stand there and make them," she vowed, determined.
Leonard tilted his head and pursed his lips.
"Your going to tell her about the engagement ring so she'll change her mind," he accused.
"Of course I am! It's not fair! Amy has been so patient with him, she needs to know that he's finally ready," Penny insisted.
"Is he?" Leonard countered. "Or is this just one more thing he's doing to keep her around as long as possible? Do you really want Amy to stay with Sheldon just because of the ring? Is it fair to her?" He pressed.
Penny glared at him.
"Leonard, you saw Sheldon tonight. Do you honestly think that I am going to be okay with us leaving him to start a life on our own while he is going through this?"
Leonard stared at her in horror.
"You're right! You need to call Amy right now and make her see sense," he said, reaching over her to grab her purse and retrieve her cell phone.
Penny shook her head but accepted the proffered phone. Amy agreed to meet Penny for breakfast the next morning.
When the call was done Penny allowed Leonard to spoon up against her back.
"Thank you, Leonard. I know I can get Amy to see sense, I just need some time," she whispered placing a hand on the arm he had wrapped around her waist.
Her only response was a soft snore.
*Warnings: Brief eating disorder, closeted drinking, and excessive drinking
This fic will consist of three parts. Part one is four or five chapters long and has already been written (but still being edited). I need to know that this fic is liked for me to continue as I've already spent so much time working on the first part. I will update every Sunday evening until Part One is completely posted and will at that time give you the time table for Part Two.
Thanks for reading!