Disclaimer: It's probably obvious, but I don't own any of the HSM characters or their related elements.

Written December 14, 2006

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Chapter 13 – The Wedding

And then I was standing just outside the chapel, clutching a bouquet of brightly coloured flowers, my heart pounding in my ears. Nine months after having Rachel, I was finally in enough shape to wear the beautiful dress I found so long ago… but even if I did look great, walking down the aisle in front of so many guests was enough to make me cut and run.

Suddenly Taylor was beside me. She looked gorgeous in her simple blue maid-of-honor's dress. "You okay?" she asked.

"I'm fine," I said, looking at the floor.

"Sure," she said. "But if you hold your bouquet any tighter, I think you're going to snap it in half."

"Oh," I said, blushing and loosening my grip. "It's just…"

She raised her eyebrows. "The thought of so many people looking at you is freaking you out?"

I nodded sheepishly, and she laughed, putting her arm around my shoulders. "Old habits sure do die hard," she said. "Okay. Well, don't worry about it. When the music plays… just hold onto your mom, keep your eyes on me and just keep going straight."

I looked at her. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." She smiled, rubbing my upper arm. "It's easy."

I took a deep breath. "Okay."

And suddenly Sharpay was swooping up to greet us, my mom in tow behind her. "I finally found her, just in time," Sharpay said breathlessly, looking at a list on her clipboard. "Okay, so, mother of the bride—check. Maid of honor—check. Bride—check. Now the music should start any second, and we'll be on our way…"

Suddenly the sound of Pachelbel's canon came from inside the chapel. Sharpay beamed and checked off another box on her clipboard, nudging me. "Okay, guys, get ready. I'll give you the signal… then go."

We nodded. Taylor stood in front of me, and my mom stood beside me, holding my hand. Tears were already springing to her eyes. "You look beautiful, baby," she said. "I'm so happy for you both. So happy."

She squeezed my hand, and then suddenly Sharpay was hissing, "Go!" And I kept my eyes on Taylor, narrowing my focus to only her blue dress in front of me, putting one foot in front of the other. But we were walking so slowly, and suddenly Taylor turned at the end of the aisle and disappeared. And my eyes slipped to the side and reeled at the number of people staring at me. How did I let this wedding get so big?

But then my eyes latched on baby Rachel in the arms of Mrs. Bolton. She wiggled and waved at me, and I found myself smiling back without thinking. And then my eyes fell on Troy, his blue eyes shining, and I couldn't help smiling back at him too. And coasting on the love from my little family, I made it down the aisle and up into Troy's arms. And the rest of the ceremony was a breeze, after that.

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The afternoon passed in a whirlwind of photos. Being in Albuquerque, we even went back to East High and took pictures at the roof garden. It was a beautiful sunny day, and everyone seemed in an exceptionally happy mood. Sharpay hovered around with her antennae up for any possible problems, but things went off without a hitch.

And then somehow, after a raucous speech by Taylor and some tearful ones from our parents, we were finally at the end of the reception. The dance floor was in full swing, but I wandered the ballroom instead, greeting guests and thanking them for coming to see us. Surreptitiously, I kept an eye out for Troy, who I hadn't seen since the end of dinner. I shook my head. It felt just like Sharpay's wedding, where Troy had disappeared from sight in the middle of the reception.

But suddenly, I felt a hand on my arm. Turning, there was Troy with Rachel, both of them grinning at me like fools. Rachel bounced merrily in her Baby Bjorn sling, a carrier that strapped her securely onto her father's chest, facing toward him.

"Hey, blue eyes," I said, kissing her on the cheek. She giggled and bounced again, making her father let out a grunt at the pressure.

"Look who's all cheerful at being a legitimate child now," said Troy, leaning down to kiss me quickly. "I'm serious. The kid's been ridiculously upbeat all day. And completely terrorizing both her grandmothers."

I touched Rachel's head of dark hair, letting her grab my finger in her fist. "What?"

He rolled his eyes. "It's why I had to strap her in and take her away for a bit. She's been pulling hair. She loves it. You've taught her well."

"I did not teach her… whoa." I dodged back suddenly as Rachel snatched for a handful of my hair. "You totally taught her that. You or Jack. I just know it relates to basketball somehow."

He laughed, and Rachel did too, wiggling her legs and grabbing fistfuls of Troy's shirt instead. "Well, that might be true. Grandpa Jack did spend a lot of quality time with her while we were at the high school. Could have been teaching her how to foul with style."

"Probably." I smiled at the thought. Coach Bolton was constantly wide eyed in wonderment at his granddaughter, and always thoroughly excited at showing her new things. "But you know, I warned you about the lunkhead basketball player bit."

"Oh, lay off her, she's nine months," he said, laughing. "Let her have some fun while she's young. You and Taylor can nerd her up when she starts walking."

"Nerd her up? Oh please…"

But suddenly, a bright light cut me off. I put a hand up to my eyes and realized the wedding DJ had shone his spotlight over to us. A slow song was playing on the speakers, and the DJ suddenly spoke into his microphone.

"Could we have the happy couple possibly lead us in this dance tonight?"

My stomach felt queasy. Everyone was looking at us again. "My feet are killing me," I whispered to Troy. "Can't we sit this one out?"

"Well…" He shrugged, and then grinned. "Come on, Montez. It's our wedding day. Let's just go with it." He took my hand. "And anyway… we've had good luck with spotlights before."

That he was right about. I let him lead me out on the dance floor, and he wrapped his other arm around my waist, forming a warm circle with Rachel in between. I blushed like an idiot as our friends and family started to applaud, while Troy smiled at me proudly instead. But then Rachel wiggled cheerfully, and I leaned down and kissed her. And then suddenly, with the spotlight on, it seemed there was nothing in this world but us and our beautiful daughter. I closed my eyes and held Troy tighter, wrapped in his warmth, wanting to remember this moment forever.

Suddenly, Troy leaned down and whispered to me. "I told you it would work out," he said. "You look really happy, Gabi."

I smiled and kissed him softly on the cheek. "It's because I am," I replied.

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Author's Note: So! We're finally done the story. And I hate to disappoint, but there will likely be no sequel to this. Yep, I'm going to leave them on the dance floor there indefinitely, unless by some remote chance I happen to find a story for them that just needs to be told. I actually want to try doing some original writing now, so I've just really got to keep myself away from HSM (so sorry)!

Anyway, THANK YOU SO MUCH to all who reviewed, especially carito06, Jewel2502, Amandeezy, TheFlash017, Linani, Artificial Donkey, chuppachup, sophthewiseone, nadia2008, Zanessa Fan Forever, Strawberry Starburst, mylifeismine, soaringinlove, loveRHINO, Josie21612, candyangel1791, chickenricewack, miniprincess93, Elise Efron, Oliverwoodschic, ZacNessa4ever, shoppinfreak, aussiegirl1989, Randomly Smurfy, keepermarch, BrUn3Tt3 BaBiix0, MAKEsomeDASEY, Zac.Luffs.Nessa, Vampriss-D, VanessaAnneEfron, Phia the Ducati Chick, troyella is my life, x.iNT0theRUSH.x, ssshhht hoy, StarInHeaven1014, D.A. Gray, Amalta, and x-applesauce-x. And a big special shoutout to Regina Trudeau (congrats on the math test!), smiliepie, xochrissy, and the wonderfully-named jazzsquared for their lovely reviews this whole time. (As with the last time, I hope I got everyone there… but if I didn't, you know I think everyone who submitted a review was wonderful, and you should all definitely know that!)

And just like the last story, if you have been reading along and have anything at all to say about S&T, please do feel free to send me a review right now. It is kind of like a last chance for me to hear from you while it's all fresh in both our minds.

But truly, once more: thank you all so much again for reading this story. It's your support that has been so important in making me write and continue all these fics. I really do feel honored that you took the time to read what I've put up, and that often you've responded so well to it. I thank you again from the bottom of my heart. Lots and lots of love!