Meredith paced the small room the bridal party was grouped in and struggled to take deep breaths. She said her vows over and over again, complete with hand gestures and smiles for added emotion. Izzie followed her, attempting to remove the curls from her dark blonde tresses, sighing in frustration every time Meredith moved. Removing the final curler, she stopped Meredith by placing her palms on her shoulders and looking her straight in the eye.
"You're freaking out," Izzie stated. "Stop freaking out."
"I'm not freaking out," Meredith argued.
"You're freaking out," Callie said, agreeing with Izzie.
"Where's Cristina?" Meredith sighed.
"Probably doing some last minute surgery," Izzie growled.
"Shut up Bipolar Barbie. I'm right here," Cristina said as she slipped into the room.
"I thought you changed your mind or something..."
"Well you obviously thought wrong because here I am...in a dress, with my hair done, wearing eyeliner. Feel special."
"I do," Meredith nodded.
"She's freaking out," Cristina stated.
"I don't want to be like my parents. Do you know how high divorce rates are? Children...what if my children hate me?"
"Are you pregnant?" Cristina asked, raising an eyebrow.
"No! I just...don't want to end up like my mother and have my children turn out like me...do you know how terrifying it would be to unleash mini-Meredith's into the world? I'm talking regardless of fantastic hair here."
"This is where I take over," Cristina said, shoving Izzie out of the way. She lifted her dress and pulled a silver flask from the waist of her stockings.
"Drink this," Cristina ordered.
"What is that?" Miranda asked from her corner of the room, turning away from the mirror where she was applying her eye shadow.
"It's uh... apple juice," Cristina nodded.
"What?" Miranda asked, reaching out and grabbing the flask. She took a whiff and raised an eyebrow at Cristina. "That is some strong smelling apple juice."
"Oh, perhaps it fermented a bit..."
"I didn't know Jose Cuervo made apple juice," Miranda said as she handed the flask back.
Meredith grabbed the flask from Cristina and took a swig, sighing in relief.
"Better?" Cristina asked.
"Much," Meredith nodded.
"Someone go infiltrate the men's group, I need to know how things are flowing...time is running out here folks," Izzie exclaimed.
"Uh...whose wedding is this?" Cristina asked and Izzie shot her a look.
"I'll go," Callie offered.
"Thank you!" Izzie gratefully stated.
Addison stood up to help Callie to her feet. Callie's stomach made everything awkward and she smiled at her best friend before exiting the room.
George was adjusting his tie in the front hall of the church and smiled wide upon seeing Callie walking towards him.
"You look amazing," he said softly.
"I look like a yellow whale," Callie pouted.
"Far from it," George responded. "How's our girl?"
"She doesn't do weddings either apparently," Callie laughed. "She's insanely feisty and active this afternoon."
George rested his palms on her belly and soon enough felt a series of jabs that caused his smile to grow wider. "What do you think of Emma?" he asked her tummy. The baby gave another quick jab to his palm and Callie shook her head.
"She hates it."
"We're running out of names here," George sighed. "Nothing fits."
"Then again everything you suggest sounds like it belongs on the roll call of an old folk's home."
"Am I far too early?" Louise O'Malley asked as she walked over to her son and daughter-in-law.
"No, you're alright," George smiled, giving his mother a hug. "Derek's family and random people are scattered throughout the chapel."
"Good, I figured if Meredith needed any help or needed someone to run and grab something for her I could be of some help."
"That's very sweet of you," Callie said as she loosely hugged Louise, her belly getting in the way.
"Still arguing over names?" Louise asked.
"Yep," Callie sighed. "George loathes everything I suggest."
"And vice versa."
"When all else fails, name them after a relative."
"I'm not naming my daughter Harold, Mom," George laughed.
"You have more than one relative, Georgie," Louise smiled, shaking her head.
George thought for a moment but before anything could dawn on him, Louise spoke up again.
"For instance, my mother's name was Sadie...she passed away when you were still very little."
"I remember her," George nodded. "Jerry pushed me off my trike and made fun of me for crying and she put him in his place."
"She was a great woman," Louise sighed.
"Sadie? Sadie O'Malley..." Callie said, giving a nod.
"I love it," George smiled.
"So do I," Callie agreed.
"Sadie Rebecca O'Malley," George added.
"Rebecca?" Callie asked.
Louise looked at George with tears in her eyes.
"It's Mom's middle name," he grinned.
"It's perfect," Callie beamed.
"Sadie Rebecca, what do you think?" George asked as he leaned down and rubbed Callie's belly. George felt her roll against his hand and smiled. "I'm taking that as a yes."
Alex felt a tap on his shoulder as he struggled to adjust his own tie. Turning around, he was more than happy to be met with Lexie Grey's smiling face.
"Hey," she said sweetly.
"Hey," he responded, his eyes shifting to take her in. She had on a black dress with a tulle underlay and pink silk at the hem that fell just above her knees. The strapless neckline of the dress placed a black bow dead center on her chest and Alex had to force himself to stop focusing on it.
"Need some help?" She offered and Alex gave a nod.
"You uh...look great," Alex managed to choke out.
"Thank you," Lexie smiled. "Who knew you'd clean up so nicely?" she winked.
"Take a picture, it's not every day you see Alex Karev in a cummerbund. I feel like an idiot," he laughed.
"You look handsome," Lexie reassured. "There," she added as she finished perfectly his tie.
He moved to check out his reflection in on decorative mirror and caught a glimpse of Lexie standing beside him. He caught her eyes shifting back and forth between them, as if she too were seeing just how great they looked together.
Locking eyes in the mirror, Alex shifted nervously and turned away.
"This thing should be starting soon," he shrugged.
"Thing?" Lexie laughed. "Not a fan of weddings?"
"I like the liquor and free food at the reception...that's about it," Alex stated.
"Hm, I think you might need someone to share your drink with," Lexie suggested.
"Oh?" Alex smirked.
"I'll see you at the reception," Lexie smiled before placing a soft kiss on Alex's cheek.
"The Chief is standing outside looking all proud poppa or whatever...I think he wants to do the pep talk type deal with you, Mer," Cristina stated.
"Where's Derek?" Meredith asked.
"Probably getting his hair done...still," Cristina smirked.
"Shut it," Meredith snapped back.
"Oh you know that isn't just hair gel and a comb through. Face it, your ball and chain to-be has nicer hair than you, and he spends much more time perfecting it."
"That's because Meredith doesn't do anything to her hair other than that wannabe Farrah Faucet bang flip on acid," Izzie added in.
"I'm the bride, I'm free from verbal attacks," Meredith sulked.
"Oh no, you are far from free...you are an easy target," Addison pointed out.
"I like her," Cristina nodded, pointing to Addison. "All hail the vagina doctor and her agreeing."
"You all suck," Meredith pouted.
"Middle aged boss man slash Daddy stand-in waiting outside for you," Cristina reminded.
"Oh...yeah..." Meredith blushed before adjusting her dress and peaking outside.
"You look wonderful," Richard said as he spied her and cleared his throat.
"Thank you," Meredith smiled.
"I know you most likely don't want to hear about your mother...especially from me it seems. However, she would be proud of you, despite whatever façade she might have hid behind, she would have smiled and maybe even shocked us all and cried. I can speak personally and say that I am very proud of you and all that you have overcome and all you will face in the future."
Meredith couldn't force back the smile spreading on her face even if she wanted to. She gave a small nod before wrapping her arms around Richard.
Emerging from the chapel and into the front hall, Thatcher Grey caught sight of his eldest daughter mid embrace with the very man who stole his ex-wife. He gave a sigh and watched their exchange. As much as it burned him, Richard was more of a father to Meredith than he ever was.
"Excuse me," came the voice of Derek Shepherd as he pushed past Thatcher, guided by Mark so he wouldn't catch sight of Meredith. Derek lifted his eyes to lock them with Thatcher's lost gaze.
"I want to apologize," Thatcher began, as he watched Richard guide Meredith off through the corner of his eye.
"For?" Derek asked, his patience limited for the so-called man who stood before him.
"For any pain I may have caused Meredith...and by proxy, you...for my imbecilic behavior."
"You should apologize to her, not to me. It's her respect you need to gain before I can ever even give you a chance."
"I don't know where to begin with her," Thatcher sighed.
"Begin just as you did with me, apologize," Derek said before walking into the chapel.
Thatcher gave yet another sigh and lowered his gaze to his shoes. Easier said than done.
"You ready?" Cristina asked as she looked arms with Mark and turned to stare at Meredith.
"I think so," Meredith sighed.
"No! No second thoughts!" Izzie gasped from her spot with Alex.
"Shut it," Cristina snapped.
"She'll be fine," Miranda said, giving a pat of reassurance to Meredith's shoulder.
The music began and Meredith shifted nervously as she heard "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban begin to fill the chapel.
"This is it!" Izzie squealed with delight. Cristina groaned.
Mark and Cristina pushed through the doors first slowly walking their way to Derek, followed by Derek's nephew who proudly held the rings with an exaggerated smile on his face.
Izzie and Alex followed after.
"So you and Lexie?" Izzie whispered.
"What the? We're walking down the aisle here and you want to know who I'm screwing?"
"OH! So you are sleeping together?"
"No! We're in a wedding though, Iz, come on..."
"I approve, you know."
"Shhh!" Cristina shushed loudly from the front of the chapel as she turned and stood opposite Derek.
The rest of the wedding party made their way down the aisle but Izzie paid them not attention. She could not remove her gaze from Mark. The man could wear the hell out of a tux and Izzie couldn't help but stare. Mark noticed her watching him and gave a wink before his eyes focused on her beautiful figure...her curves perfectly hugged by the soft yellow fabric.
Their moment was interrupted by Meredith's slow journey down the aisle. Everyone turned to watch, Izzie and Cristina holding their breaths figuring at any moment Mer would turn and bolt down the aisle screaming.
Much to their relief, she made it to Derek and she did so with a smile.
The Priest gave a small smile to them both before speaking.
"Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. Into this holy union Derek and Meredith now come to be joined. If any of you can show just cause why they may not lawfully be married, speak now, or else for ever hold your peace."
Derek and Meredith were grateful for the silence that filled the church as the priest's eyes scanned the room. He cleared his throat and spoke again.
"I require and charge you both, here in the presence of God, that if either of you know any reason why you may not be united in marriage lawfully, or in accordance with God's Word, you do now confess it."
Meredith and Derek looked at each other and then back to the priest, who nodded.
"Derek and Meredith have written their own vows and would like to share them. Derek..." the priest urged.
Derek nodded and cleared his throat, standing tall as he began to speak, "I promise to give you the best of myself, and to ask of you no more than you can give. I promise to accept you the way you are. I fell in love with you for the qualities, abilities, and outlook on life that you have, and won't try to reshape you in a different image. You are Meredith, and that's the best explanation I can give. You're the love of my life. I've lived thirty nine years and meeting you was the first moment I truly felt alive...It was as if I was feeling my lungs fill with air for the first time. I've felt lost, out of place...relocating to Seattle, living in a trailer with acres of land I have no clue to do with...it's not home, it's not home unless you are there with me. I know you can be dark and distant, but to me you are full of light and life. You laugh makes me feel whole, your smile makes me feel secure and I will spend the rest of my life proving to you that you are far better than the dark mentality you have surrounded yourself with. I want to make you to feel like the beautiful, vibrant amazing woman you truly are. I love you, I have always loved you, and I will continue to love you from now into eternity."
The priest nodded and then turned to Meredith. "Meredith..." he urged.
"I never thought I'd be here," Meredith began.
"Oh God," Izzie sighed. "Meredith...that is not how your vows begin..." she whispered.
Cristina turned to Izzie and narrowed her eyes. "She's a big girl, she can do this herself. She doesn't need us holding her hand anymore."
Callie turned and stared both women down as Meredith continued to speak.
"I'm not perfect; I have a stand in father, a flask of apple juice strapped to my thigh, two dead mothers and a sordid love affair with tequila. My person even tried to talk me out of this, but I can't think of ONE reason why I should have turned you down...why I shouldn't be here doing this right now. I always thought I had to follow in my mother's footsteps, terrified because they're pretty big shoes to fill...but you showed me that my own shoes are just fine and accepted me and my countless flaws. I won't be wife of the year...I'm not a good cook, Izzie still comes over to help me with my laundry, and sometimes I forget to clean the bathroom. But I do know that I love you, and I know that you make me feel like my life is worth living. You make me happy Derek Shepherd, and I know now that I can have the happy ending...because I have you in my life."
Izzie began to sniffle and Cristina groaned in order to hide the tears forming in her own eyes.
"Please present the rings," the priest stated, as Austen walked forward and offered up the small pillow holding the white gold bands.
"Derek, please place the ring on Meredith's finger and repeat after me; with this ring, I thee wed."
"With this ring, I thee wed," Derek said softly, slipping the ring on Meredith finger.
"Meredith, could you do the same and repeat after me; with this ring, I thee wed."
"With this ring, I thee wed," Meredith repeated, smiling as she looked up at Derek and slipping the ring on his finger.
"By the power vested in me and the State of Washington, I now pronounce you...Mister and Misses Derek Shepherd...you may now kiss the bride."
Derek grinned and pulled Meredith into his arms, dipping her and planting a sensual kiss on her lips which caused everyone in the church to gasp, laugh and clap.
The priest smiled and stepped forward, motioning to Derek and Meredith as they broke their kiss. "Ladies and Gentleman, Derek and Meredith Shepherd!"
AN: I'm alive! Between work, losing my muse, being stuck on dial up for two weeks, broken keyboards and sadly, the loss of my grandma...I've been MIA. So here's the elusive chapter 15. Not much else to say...I'm way, way, way behind on everyone elses fics so one of these days I'll lock myself somewhere and catch up. And yes, to my readers who have been waiting on my Heroes multichapter fic, I'll be posting that tomorrow hopefully! So, yes...I'm here and I'm updating :)