Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I in any way associated with, HSM or Enchanted.
AN: Enchanted was on a few days ago and it gave me the idea to do a ryelsi story using the song "True Love's Kiss" as inspiration. Sadly, I had no idea what to do with that. Angellwings kindly offered up an idea, and even though I ended up doing something totally different, her idea kick-started my muse. So thanks, angelwings, for the idea I didn't use! I hope you enjoy!
You're the fairest maid I've ever met
You were made …
…To finish your duet
Kelsi shrugged on her coat, thankful for once that Sharpay had dragged her on a three day shopping spree over the summer. She had no doubt that it would have taken four of her old coats to match the glorious warmth of the one Sharpay had picked out.
By the time her history of music class let out the sky was dark, but Ryan's dance class wouldn't end for another hour and she planned on surprising him with warm drinks at the end. She hurried across the snowy quad, eager for a mug of hot chocolate at the student union while she waited. When she was two people away from the front of the line her phone rang. The ringtone was a song she'd written long ago as a joke about Sharpay, but that the girl had turned into her own personal anthem.
"Hello, Shar," Kelsi said, smiling sheepishly at the people around her.
"So, how's New York in winter?" Sharpay asked.
"Cold. It would be better if Zeke was nearby."
Sharpay hmmed wistfully. "You're thinking of his fudge."
"And his cocoa," Kelsi added, sniffing the air. "Hot chocolate," she said to the annoyed barista.
"What?" Sharpay asked.
"I'm ordering. So, why did you call? It must not be that important if you waited until after I was out of class."
"Well," Sharpay said as Kelsi took her cup and searched the crowded cafeteria for a seat, "I was wondering what you're doing for Easter."
"Studying, most likely. Why? You're not planning on dragging the wildcats on some crazy spring break adventure, are you?"
"No, I wanted to warn you that Mom's going to invite you over."
Kelsi finally spotted a free table in a far corner and began navigating her way through the crowd. "Why do I need to be warned?"
"Because she already invited Zeke and he completely freaked out. I guess she dropped all sorts of hints."
"Hints?" Kelsi echoed, shooting an apologetic smile at a girl whose backpack she kicked.
"You know. Hints. Involving rings and a white dress."
"Oh, those kinds of hints. Poor Zeke."
"Exactly. So I want you to be prepared if she does the same to you. Though I don't think she will. But she'll probably be hinting to Ryan all through dinner if you come."
Kelsi bit back a giggle as she dumped her bag on the small table, proud that she'd somehow managed to get it. "That I can live with. Can you imagine the look on his --" Kelsi froze, her hot chocolate slipping from her hand and wobbling slightly as it hit the table.
"Kels?" Sharpay asked. "What's wrong?"
Kelsi blinked rapidly, wondering if she were seeing things. A few tables away, half-hidden by a pole, was Ryan. Next to him sat Stacy Wells.
"Kelsi!" Sharpay snapped in her best diva voice.
"Sorry," Kelsi said as she slid into her seat. "I just …"
"Just what? What's wrong? You sound like Death just touched your vocal cords."
Kelsi debated just what to say to Sharpay. She wasn't sure the girl even knew about Stacy, though she knew if Sharpay had been at Julliard with them Stacy wouldn't have been a problem. The two were very much alike. Both were pretty, triple threats. They would have devoured each other, and Kelsi had yet to see the battle where Sharpay didn't claim at least some of the victory. But without Sharpay…
"Kelsi Nielson either you tell me what is wrong right now or I will fly to New York and force you to tell me."
Kelsi sighed. "Do you know who Stacy Wells is?"
"I think Ryan mentioned a Stacy at Christmas. Why?"
"She and Ryan have a lot of the same classes and they get paired together all the time, which makes sense. They're a good height for dancing, they have chemistry on stage, their voices compliment each other. I would cast them together."
"You hate her," Sharpay said dryly. "Do you want me to come out and put her in her place?"
"No," Kelsi said before adding petulantly, "maybe."
"What brings her to mind, exactly?"
Kelsi took a sip of her chocolate. "She's sitting a few tables away."
"So? At least she's not with Ryan. He's got class for another hour, doesn't he?"
"Apparently not," Kelsi said and was surprised by the venom in her tone.
There was a pause before Sharpay asked, "Where exactly is she in relation to my brother?"
"Next to him."
"What are they doing?"
"Talking and -- she's adjusting his hat."
"So that the bill is more straight or less?"
"Less." Kelsi pulled her eyes away from the scene, not willing to see Ryan's reaction to Stacy's bold move.
"Crap. Okay, you need to get out of there. Now. Go to your dorm, I'll get Ryan away from the wannabe."
"Shar --" Kelsi started.
"Don't worry, I won't let him know I even talked to you. I know how to manipulate my brother."
"No, I mean -- maybe we should just let him be."
"What?" Sharpay asked, her voice dangerously low.
Kelsi took a deep breath and forced herself to ask, "Well, what if he … likes her? They click together, Sharpay. Kind of like Troy and --"
"No! I do not want to hear that kind of insanity from you! You're supposed to be the sane one, for Heaven's sake. Troy and Gabriella are … weird. They're so dramatic and sweet and perfect and … I do not want my brother to be like that. Now you get out of that building so I can call my brother without worrying that he'll see you. I can take care of this."
Kelsi sighed and shouldered her bag. "Okay. I'll talk to you later?"
"I'll call you the second I'm done with Ryan. And don't worry. Ryan totally likes you best."
Kelsi tried to believe her as she hurried back out into the cold. She'd thrown away her half-finished chocolate on her way out, preferring the lure of microwaved chewy Chips Ahoy instead. Ryan and Stacy really did click. They wouldn't work together so much if they didn't. Maybe it was time for her and Ryan to move on. It was just a matter of time before one of the wildcat couples broke up under the strain of college, but Kelsi had never thought it would be her and Ryan.
She settled into her bed, a plate of cookies at her side, and watched the snow fall out the window. Part of her wanted to three-way call Taylor and Martha. The ever practical Taylor would help her move logically through the situation, while Martha would encourage her to remember how much she loved Ryan. But she had to wait for Sharpay, who would no doubt renew her offer to hurt Stacy.
It seemed an eternity before her phone rang, but it wasn't Sharpay's ringtone. She stared at the name on the tiny screen for a moment before answering.
"Hello?" she asked tentatively.
"Where are you?" Ryan asked, breathless.
"My dorm. Why?"
"I need you to come outside."
"Now, Kels, please. It's really important. We need to talk."
Kelsi closed her eyes. "Okay, I'll be right down." She sighed as she closed the phone. Those four little words could mean only one thing: he liked Stacy, they were breaking up. She grabbed her coat on the way out the door and put it on in the elevator. She was blessedly alone all the way down and took a deep, steadying breath before the doors opened.
Ryan was pacing outside the building, gesturing wildly as if playing out a conversation in his mind.
"Hey," she said, startling him.
He looked up at her with wide eyes. "Hey."
"So," she said slowly, wishing he would just get on with it. "You wanted to talk?"
His features dissolved into a glare and he quickly resumed pacing. "It was supposed to be different," he muttered. "I had this whole big plan."
Kelsi swallowed, wishing he wouldn't talk about the future.
"And then my sister calls and tells me --"
"Sharpay told you?" Kelsi demanded, brushing snow angrily away from her face. "I should have known better than to trust her."
Ryan blinked at her. "You're an idiot, you know that?"
Kelsi stepped back. "Well, I wouldn't go that far. Sharpay's a pretty good actress when she wants to be."
"Not about Sharpay!" he snapped. "Everyone falls for Sharpay's plans. I mean about Stacy."
This was it. Kelsi braced herself for the break up speech.
"From the very first time I sang with her, danced with her, I knew --"
Kelsi took a deep breath, determined to take this well.
"-- that no one, no matter how talented, would ever measure up to you."
The breath burst forth as if Kelsi had been punched in the gut. "What?" she asked, her voice small.
"Before we came here the only people I sang or danced with since our last East High musical were you and Sharpay. But I knew, the minute I tried it with someone else, that it would never be the same. I even made Gabriella sing 'O Holy Night' with me at Christmas just to be sure. I don't want to dance with anyone but you. I don't want to sing with anyone but you."
"But … Stacy's a really good singer."
"So?" Ryan demanded.
"And I'm not," Kelsi pointed out.
Ryan moaned and walked a few feet away before marching back, sending snow flying in his wake. "I had this whole plan, you know? Mom was supposed to invite your family over for Easter and Sharpay was supposed to joke about how our parents are pressuring Zeke to take the plunge, when really it's us who are supposed to take the plunge."
Kelsi's mouth went dry. "What?" she croaked.
Ryan thrust out his hand, showing her a small golden ring. "It was supposed to be romantic," he said.
Kelsi turned and walked to a bench, not bothering to wipe the snow off before she sat. "You really need to say it," she called, "so I know I'm not hallucinating."
Ryan smiled and walked over to kneel before her in the snow. "Will you marry me?"
Kelsi grinned and leapt into his arms, sending them both falling into the snow. Ryan laughed, holding his fist above them both so he wouldn't lose the ring.
"I'll take that as a yes," he chuckled.
"You really don't want to sing with anyone else?" she asked. "You know I'm not going to start performing any time soon, right?"
"I know. And what about you? Think you can handle a singer-slash-dancer who needs you to practice with him?"
"I can live with that," she said. "Oh my gosh!" she cried, staggering to her feet.
"I have to call Sharpay! And my mom! And Martha and Gabriella and Taylor! They're going to be so excited!"
Kelsi rushed into the building, leaving Ryan behind in the snow. He looked into his hand, wondering what sort of girl got engaged and left the ring behind. His kind of girl, he decided, and followed after her.
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