Chapter One - New Memories and Old Flames
Clara Gilmore-Danes stood anxiously in line, waiting for Headmaster Charleston to announce her name, as valedictorian. She fidgeted with her gown and cap, pushed a few stray curls from her forehead and shook all nervousness from her body, as if that worked. She could see her parents, Luke and Lorelai, hunched over a digital camera ( Luke probably had no idea how to use the thing), her sister Rory and her brother in law, Logan, waving profusely and her grandparents, Emily and Richard, were beaming. Lastly, James who was sitting handsomely in the shade of one of the trees, winking at her. Headmaster Charleston approached the platform, tapping the microphone. But before he could speak, a screeching bell went off, louder than any fire alarm she ever remembered hearing. Covering her ears, she tried to block out the obnoxious sound but no luck. All of the sudden, Lorelai was right beside her. .
"Wake up, honey. I have no idea how to turn this blasted thing off!" Lorelai Gilmore aroused her daughter from slumber. Clara shook her head with confusion before smacking the snooze button on the alarm, realizing the graduation ceremony had been nothing but a dream. She rolled over and her eyes made contact with her mother's startling blue ones.
"Morning, sunshine!" Lorelai said enthusiastically, kissing Clara on the forehead. Clara groaned, realizing it was not even seven in the morning.
"Mom, my favorite mom of all…" Lorelai laughed as Clara continued. "I love you, you are the greatest mom in the world but why on earth did you set my alarm this early?" Clara threw her pillow over her head to block out the creeping sunshine peeking through the sheer curtains. Lorelai chuckled.
"Well your sister set your alarm…she is sort of getting married today…" Lorelai reminded her casually.
"The wedding!" Clara shot out of bed as if she had been fired out of a human cannon, rushing down the stairs of her garage apartment to the miniature kitchen. Pinned to the side of the mini-fridge was a magnetic calendar, the day's date circled at least fifty times.
"How could I have forgotten? I'm the maid of honor!" Clara exclaimed. She stopped panicking when she saw herself in the mirror. She smirked. "I look like the maid of horror right now…" She slowly climbed the steps back to the loft.
"Perhaps Sleeping Beauty should get in the shower… we have to leave in an hour." Lorelai noted. Clara noticed her mother was already dressed and ready to go. This was peculiar for Lorelai Gilmore. She was not a morning person.
"Mom…you had coffee…" Clara gave her mom a look, crossing her arms. Lorelai blushed guiltily.
"Dad is going to kill you…you shouldn't drink coffee when you're pregnant!"
"Clara, darling, one of my favorite daughters," Lorelai replied mockingly, imitating Clara's tone. "I drank gallons of the stuff when I was pregnant with Rory and she is just fine!" Lorelai blushed and smiled up at Clara, a silent plea in her eyes.
"I want me to pretend it was me don't you?" Clara groaned.
"Please and thank you!" Lorelai beamed.
"It's a good thing I like you a little…" Clara descended the stairs once again, journeyed through the passageway to the kitchen, the aroma of the world's strongest coffee meeting her nose as she entered. It was then she heard the muffled footsteps of her father, obviously trying to sneak down and catch Lorelai in the act. She was used to this; her mother usually wanted her to cover up her coffee making habits. Clara dashed across the white and yellow tiled floor to the far counter, pulling the coffee pot from its dock, reaching for a mug (to make it look like the half a pot that was missing she filled the mug a fourth of the way full). Returning the coffee pot to its rightful place, she leaned casually against the counter as Luke Danes rounded the corner.
"Ah ha! Oh jeez, Clara!" Luke clutched his chest in shock, breathing deeply.
"Good morning, Dad…" Clara remarked sarcastically, setting her mug on the counter.
"Good morning, sweetie…" He smirked, pulling her into a hug. Clara sighed happily, it was the best feeling, his strong arms around her thin frame made her feel like it was the safest place in the world, to be right here, in his embrace.
"I would have bet money it was your mother…where is she anyway?"
"In my room, making sure my dress is perfect…I swear, I think being pregnant makes her a little OCD…" Clara snorted.
"You think?" Luke stared at her curiously all of the sudden. "It is just a shame your coffee maker doesn't work though, I could have sworn you had one of those in your room...and you come all the way in here for coffee…" Luke glanced over at her, in which she choked a little on the coffee she had just sipped.
"Mom made the coffee, huh?"
Clara nodded slowly. Luke rolled his eyes.
"Lorelai…" he mumbled before smiling.
"She'll be fine Dad, she just needs a little caffeine boost."
"Yeah I know…I just worry about her."
"She's a big girl, Daddy…" Clara laughed, kissing him on the cheek. He chuckled as Lorelai reappeared on the scene.
"How's the dress?" Luke crossed his arms and Lorelai searched Clara's face for an explanation.
"Um, the sash was um… falling off…all fixed now. Super Mom…" Lorelai's attempt failed. She blushed scarlet.
"Lorelai…how many times have I asked, no pleaded with you, not to drink that stuff…" Luke groaned. Lorelai smiled, wrapping her arms around her husband.
"Have some faith in me, hon…I know what I am doing." She kissed him lovingly and the two did not break apart. Clara cleared her throat; Luke and Lorelai looked over.
"Oh sorry sweetie…" Lorelai blushed again.
"No, no, go on…" Clara remarked sarcastically. "We wouldn't want to get carried away, now would we? You're already pregnant…" Luke snorted.
"Clara!" Lorelai scolded. Clara grinned sheepishly.
"I'm going to get ready…" She laughed and rushed back to her room.
Ever since Luke and Lorelai had officially adopted her nearly six months ago, and even since she had met them a year ago, she always
An hour later, the three of them entered the Windsor Club, late.
"Good Lord, finally!" Emily Gilmore sauntered over to them and her red hair bounced as she walked, her face etched in an irritated expression.
"Nice to see you too, Mom." Lorelai said ironically. Emily sighed.
"I don't have time for this, Lorelai. The flowers have not arrived, the caterers dropped three pans of sheet cake and Rory's dress has a seam coming loose. On top of all of that, I can not find your father; he was supposed to be back with my pearl earrings fifteen minutes ago!" Emily ranted. "Is that what you are wearing to the ceremony?" She turned her attention to Lorelai's outfit, dark jeans and a violet cotton blouse. Lorelai groaned.
"Mother, honestly, this is not the first wedding I have been to…give me some credit." Lorelai answered, as she held up a gray plastic garment bag. Clara snorted.
"Emily, tell me what we can do and we will help in anyway we can." Luke interrupted. Emily sighed.
"Find Richard…" she insisted, and with that she turned on her heel, grasping her daughter's wrist.
"Come help me with the chairs, Lorelai!" Emily ordered.
"Mom, it's my daughter's wedding! Shouldn't I be with the, you know, bride?"
"Lorelai, can't you help me with one little thing?" Emily seemed almost mournful. Clara felt a twinge in her chest, a sense of sorrow too. She knew what Emily was feeling. Lorelai's facial expression softened.
"Sure, Mom…" Lorelai grinned.
"No heavy lifting!" Clara pointed her finger at her mother, lightening the mood. Emily smiled a little.
"Clara, you should get down to the bridal suite. Take a left down the main hallway, and it's the last door on the right." Emily instructed.
"Yes, maam." Clara nodded, hoisted her bag over her shoulder and ventured along until she came to her destination. She knocked twice, and twisted the brass knob.
"Rory?" Clara called, entering cautiously. Rory Gilmore turned, her blue eyes, identical to the Lorelai Gilmore before her, shone bright with happy tears. Clara squealed with utmost delight as she dropped her things and rushed into her waiting sister's embrace. The two girls jumped around happily, shrieking excitedly.
"You look beautiful!" Clara gushed as Rory took a spin in her wedding dress. It was exquisite, white satin and sleeveless with a corset bodice, beaded across the front. The train trailed behind her as she swept it up over her arm. Clara remembered her sister trying it on when they were in London six weeks back but it looked even better on her now. Perhaps because Rory was positively glowing.
"Everything is perfect except for this one little seam on my strap." Rory pointed. "Grandma nearly died when she saw it but I think we can fix it pretty easily, don't you?"
Clara nodded, reaching into her bag and pulling out a miniature sewing box. Rory laughed.
"Mom makes me carry this now after than incident at your graduation…" Clara shuddered at the memory of her skirt splitting as Rory received her diploma last month.
"Haha and Luke found out his little girl wears lace underwear…" Rory snorted as Clara carefully thread her needle with ivory thread.
"Shut up, I thought Dad was going to have a heart attack!" Clara scolded, as she began to fix the seam. With a few quick stitches, she was done.
"Well, Luke is the picture of health. So no worries." Rory laughed, sitting down at the lighted vanity table, checking her hair.
"You look beautiful, quit fidgeting or you are going to mess it up!" Clara advised as she slipped into the bathroom and put on her violet gown. She smoothed the bottom, secured the silver sash and reemerged.
"Perfect!" Rory laughed as Clara spun around, imitating her sister.
"Perfect…" Clara repeated and the two of them finished getting ready.
"Mom, what do you need?" Lorelai asked exasperated as Emily dragged her along the hallway into the ballroom. Her jaw dropped, for she was sure this room must never have looked this beautiful. The crystal chandeliers glimmered with the summer sunshine pouring through the windows, bouncing on the shiny wood floors. Two hundred chairs were lined up along the ivory silk aisle runner, and either side of the aisle were tall silver candlesticks. As they stood there, the florists brought in huge bouquets of summer roses, setting them by the altar.
"Mom, its beautiful…" Lorelai gasped, covering her mouth in awe.
"You think so? Not nearly as extravagant as the Anderson wedding, but so much better than the Lawson wedding. Hip hop music and doughnuts. That's not a wedding, more like a horrible sweet sixteen…" Emily started back up again as she pulled a few loose leaves from a flower arrangement. "Sookie has been so much help, assembling the cake Logan had shipped here. You know they send the signature mix and icing, and you can make it yourself. Of course I have complete faith in Sookie, but you know, accidents can happen."
"Mom…" Lorelai interrupted. "You needed my help?"
yes, come over here." Emily walked to the altar and Lorelai
"Do you think we should keep the chairs as they are, or move them into narrower sections so everyone can see better. Of course that would make the aisle longer, so I wouldn't want the runner to be too short…what do you think, Lorelai?" Emily stopped at the look on her daughter's face.
"I think it looks gorgeous, Mom…honest. No one could have done this better than you. I think Rory will be thrilled. Why don't you go get ready and I will supervise everything until you come back?" Lorelai suggested.
"Lorelai, I am not going to let you work, you should be resting."
"Mom, I am three months pregnant…I think I will be alright."
"Well, still. I should stay until everything is squared away." Emily marched back across the room to the back of the hall, where the staircase was being adorned with garlands of lights.
"It's funny…your father and I had our vow renewal here, and this is where our granddaughter is getting married for the first time…" Emily's voice cracked, and a tear slipped down her cheek.
"Mom, she's not fleeing the country, she is just getting married. To someone she loves. We shouldn't be sad about this."
"Tell me you aren't the least bit sad. Lorelai, you still have so much life ahead of you, Clara's graduation, her wedding, their children, their lives and all the firsts of your new child. What if I don't get to be there for all of those things?" Emily exclaimed.
"Where is this coming from? Of course you will be!" Lorelai did not get to finish before Luke arrived on the scene, along with none other than Richard Gilmore.
"Sorry it took so long, Emily. I failed to realize how many pairs of pearl earrings you have, so…" Richard pulled a small wooden jewelry box from behind his back. "I brought them all." He chuckled, his mustache curling. Emily sighed happily.
"Thank you, Richard. Perhaps I should go get ready. Lorelai, take over here until I come back, won't you?" Emily linked her arm in Richard's and they walked out.
"You ok?" Luke asked as he wrapped his arms around his wife, curious at the look on her face.
"Just tired… but happy." She grinned before kissing him.
"I think we could escape and get ready too, huh?" Luke whispered happily in her ear. Lorelai laughed, resting her hand on his chest.
"I think so. I had better go find Rory."
"Yeah, I told Logan that I would come help him out."
"No booze…" Lorelai warned. Luke protectively reached to his coat pocket where Lorelai saw the glimmer of light bounce of the top of the silver flask.
"I love you!" he called as he headed out.
"Where have I heard that before?" She chuckled and she went off to the bridal suite.
Lorelai knocked and found her daughters both bent over the mirror, fixing their eyeliner. Kodak moment.
"Oh Rory…" Lorelai beamed with pride as Rory jumped up to hug her mother.
"Good, I hoped you would. You feel ok this morning?" Rory smiled as Lorelai hurried to change into her dress too.
"Yeah, no morning sickness, thank goodness." Lorelai replied.
"Everything go ok with Grandma?" Clara asked as she dug through Rory's makeup back for her shimmer lip-gloss and applied it liberally to her lips. Rory snatched it away.
"Yeah, Grandma is just in one of her moods. She'll be ok." Lorelai answered, emerging in her magenta colored mother of the bride dress, knee length with a silver shawl to accompany it.
I hope she will be, Lorelai thought.
"Gosh, I hope I look as good as Mom when I am pregnant…" Clara muttered as she put one last pin in her hair. Lorelai gave her a warning stare.
"You better not be until you are thirty!" Lorelai retorted.
"I promise." Clara winked.
Lorelai flipped her long tresses over her shoulder, adjusted her jewelry, and slipped her feet into her silver pumps. Ready.
"Ah, I think that's it." Rory said as she slipped her narrow jeweled tiara into her hair, the finishing touch.
"Me too!" Clara added.
"Well, I think this calls for a picture." Lorelai pulled her digital camera out of her purse, set the timer as all three girls posed.
All of a sudden, the door to the suite banged open. Finn burst in, laughing as Colin rushed to get him out.
"Ah, Rory, love. You look lovely, I do say. Are you sure you really want to marry Logan? I would be a suitable bachelor for any lovely lady such as yourself!" Finn announced loudly.
"Sorry Rory!" Colin exclaimed as he pulled the ranting Finn out by the tails of his tuxedo.
"None is as lovely as the bride Rory!" Finn shouted again as Colin shut the door, and he could be heard yelling at Finn all the way down the hall.
"Ah, he is a moron…" Clara mumbled
"Don't forget to make me tell you the story when the two of them and Logan burst into my philosophy class one day." Rory replied.
"Oh I won't."
"Why did Logan ask them to be in the wedding?" Lorelai asked, as she went to check the camera.
"Well luckily they are only ushers. But they are his closest friends so I guess he wanted them to feel included."
"Well this picture is a keeper…" Lorelai remarked sarcastically as she showed the girls the photo. All of them were clutching their chest in shock and the picture predominantly showed the back of Finn's head.
"Ah keep it." Rory insisted. "My first wedding photo."
"As you wish." Lorelai laughed. "Hey, Clara, sweetie, would you go check on Grandma for me? I want to talk to Rory for a minute."
"Sure. Be right back." Clara left and Lorelai closed the door behind her.
"Everything ok, Mom?"
"Yeah I just wanted one last alone moment with Rory Gilmore." Lorelai's eyes glazed over with tears.
"Awe, Mom. Don't cry!" Rory pulled a Kleenex from the vanity.
"Being pregnant makes me hormonal, sorry." Lorelai dabbed at her eyes, trying to keep her makeup from running.
"I just wanted to say that I love you, kid. And I want you to be happy with Logan. And I want you to reach all your dreams. And I want you to come home once in a while. Don't be one of those slacker daughters who forget to call. Your sister needs you too." Lorelai stopped, looking her daughter up and down, remembering a lifetime of memories in a single moment. Her daughter's birth, her first steps, her first snow, teaching her to tie her shoes, first day of school, reading her first chapter book, running around the Independence Inn, playing tricks on Michel, taking lessons at Miss Patty's, all the coffee at Luke's, her acceptance to Chilton, being valedictorian. Graduating Yale, and now soon to be Mrs. Rory Gilmore-Huntzberger.
"My first pancake turned out pretty damn good…" Lorelai stated and Rory laughed, remembering the first time she had ever said that.
"Yeah, it did." Rory hugged her mother tightly.
"I love you so much, Mom."
"I love you more, sweetie."
As the hour of ten o'clock approached, all the final details of the wedding were put into place. The hall was filled to the brim with people, members of the DAR and high society friends of the Huntzbergers, but Rory felt the happiest when she noticed a cluster of the people she loved most, the townsfolk of Stars Hollow. Taking up at least five rows of chairs were Miss Patty, Babette, Morey, Kirk, Lulu, Taylor, Gypsy, Liz, TJ, Sookie, Jackson, Michel, Lane, Zack and even Mrs. Kim. Her extended family.
Emily and Richard sat in the front row beside Lorelai, Luke, and April. Mitchum, Shira, Honor and Josh sat on the other side. Even Francine Haden had made one of her rare appearances in her granddaughters and Rory appreciated it all the same. Honor gave Rory a small wave when she noticed the bride peek a look into the gorgeous room. Rory winked and let the door shut, concealing her once in again in the privacy of the empty foyer.
She stood nervously, wringing her hands together. Clara walked in at that moment and reached to take Rory's hand.
"Ready?" she asked.
"Yes, more than anything…just nervous. I just feel like I am forgetting something."
Clara smirked as she held a silver chain adorned with a silver heart out to her sister.
"Mom and I are wearing ours too." Clara beamed as Rory lit up, pulling aside her hair and Clara fastened it.
"Wow, Rory…" Christopher Haden entered at that moment, accompanied by G.G, dressed as the flower girl.
"Hi Dad!" Rory gushed as she hugged him and her little sister.
"You look so adorable, G.G." Clara knelt to her level. G.G. blushed then hugged Clara. Clara had always made it a point to be as sweet to G.G. as possible, making her a part of her life too. She was after all, Rory's sister.
"You look pretty too." She whispered then smiled, showing her perfect little white teeth.
"Do I even get a hug?!" Rory laughed as G.G. hugged her too.
"You all ready to go?"
"Yep, Lorelai gave me my basket of petals!" She held it up and beamed.
"Excellent," Rory set her down and all of the sudden; Luke poked his head around the door.
"Showtime…" He grinned. "Clara, and G.G., you guys ready?"
"We're girls, Uncle Luke!" G.G. laughed.
"Ah right." Luke laughed. "Come on girls." He led them through; Clara blew Rory a kiss and followed her dad into the hall. Chris hugged his daughter lovingly.
"I'll be waiting for you…knock when your ready, and I will there, ready to walk you down the aisle."
Rory swore as she saw tears in his eyes as he disappeared too.
She sighed, took one last look in the mirror and said "Goodbye, Rory Gilmore. Hello, Rory Huntzberger."
"Rory Gilmore isn't going anywhere…" a soft yet husky voice said from behind her. Her heart missed a beat. She knew that voice. She turned swiftly and she knew him instantly, his hair stuck out in a funny way, his worn leather jacket.