A/N: Time for the final chapter. Thank you to everyone for the warm reception to this story. This is a tale that is very close to my heart since it's set in my hometown, which I love and miss very much. I hope you have enjoyed the brief glimpse into this little piece of paradise. Pooh and Boston4, I sincerely hope this story was everything you expected.
Jewels12, thank you for being so generous with your time, compliments and comments. You are the wind beneath my wings!
Chapter 7: Stained Glass and Veils
Saturday afternoon, Lorelai, Rory and Emily stood in front of the large, Catholic Cathedral as distant relatives descended upon them, eager to catch up.
Cousin Marsha made a beeline for Lorelai, and promptly clung to her arm and tugged her into the church as she babbled. "Oh, Lorelai, I'm so glad you could come. I've missed being able to spend time with you. You have to see my dress. I'm not wearing it yet because mom says it's bad luck to put it on too early. But you'll love it. It's a Vera Wang and it's got the most delicate lace and the most precious..."
Lorelai tuned her cousin out, nodding occasionally as she continued to prattle on. Instead, she was admiring the gorgeous stained glass windows that surrounded the church. Rory had followed them in and she was also staring at the colourful windows, her eyes wide.
After what seemed like hours, Emily and Cecily joined them. Cecily dragged her daughter away to get changed, and the three Gilmores breathed a collective sigh of relief. They found a seat near the front of the church, just to the right of the altar. Lorelai wrinkled her nose as she took in the plethora of pink flowers that decorated the end of each pew and the front of the altar. It looked like someone had dumped a bottle of Pepto-Bismol on the whole church. Which was a shame, because it really was an incredible building.
A woman with shoulder-length black hair came out of a side door and seated herself at the grand piano. She smoothed her blue, flowered skirt and began to play a beautiful melody that filled the church. The groomsmen filed in and took their place in front of the altar, where the priest was already waiting for them.
The music stopped and everyone stood. The woman at the piano began to play and sing Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring as Marsha embarked on her long trek up the aisle, her arm looped through her father's. The final notes of the musician's song floated through the spacious Cathedral just as Marsha reached the groom. The smile on her face was so bright that Lorelai instantly forgave her for her clingyness.
The ceremony was lovely from beginning to end, and Lorelai reflected on what her own wedding might be like one day. She would want something simpler, she decided. Not quite so many people, and certainly not so much pink. An image of her future groom flashed through her mind, and she nearly gasped aloud when she realized who it was. Lorelai quickly fixed her eyes on the altar, willing all thoughts of flannel clad men from her brain.
Beside her, Emily was having similar thoughts of her own. She was remembering her own wedding to Richard and how terribly nervous she'd been that day. The church had been decorated with beautiful white lace and dozens of white roses. Richard had looked dashing in his perfectly groomed suit, and as she'd walked down the aisle, everything else become invisible. She could only see him. Sadness filled her heart now, as she regretfully recalled the recent distance between herself and her husband. Suddenly, she was missing him desperately.
Emily insisted that they dress in fresh clothing, so they'd returned to the hotel to change before heading over to the reception. The reception was being held in the Crystal Ballroom of the Empress Hotel, and Rory took great pleasure from watching her mother's reaction to the news that the hotel was built on water.
They entered the room and joined the line of people who were waiting to check the seating chart. As they waited, Lorelai scanned the hall, nauseated by the sheer level of pinkness in the room. Marsha must really love pink, she thought. Her eyes rested on a couple at a nearby table and Lorelai was surprised to find that she recognized one of them. She nudged Rory. "Look, Rory, that's 'mystery man'."
"Really?" Rory craned her neck. "Where?"
"He's cute," Rory noted approvingly. "Isn't that the musician from the wedding who's sitting beside him?"
Lorelai looked again. "Oh, I think you're right. She's still wearing the same skirt."
"You should go say hi." Rory shoved her mother toward the couple.
"You said yourself you wished you could thank him again. Now's your chance."
"Fine, but you're coming with me. Grandma can find our seats." Before Rory could protest, Lorelai had grabbed her arm and was pulling her across the room.
"Hello, mysterious man with no name." Lorelai grinned.
"Why, it's the lady with the devil's shoes. How are the feet?" He glanced down at the sensible, white flats she was wearing.
Rory answered for her mother, "She's fine, despite the whining and complaining."
"Hey, I'm not that bad." Lorelai crossed her arms and stuck out her bottom lip in a pout.
"Right. Says the woman who claimed she'd never walk again." Rory rolled her eyes. "My mother has a tendency to be rather dramatic at times. I'm Rory, by the way, and she's Lorelai."
"Nice to meet you, Rory." Mystery man held out his hand. "I'm John. And this is Anne."
"How do you know Marsha and Tim?" Anne asked them.
"Marsha is my cousin." Lorelai frowned. "Or is she my second cousin? I'm not entirely clear on that. Either way, we're related."
Anne and John both laughed. Anne rested her hand on John's arm and Lorelai envied the obvious ease and comfort between them. That's what I want in a relationship, she realized. Suddenly it dawned on her that she did have that, but with Luke, not Jason. The thought made her uncomfortable and she shoved it aside, quickly returning to the conversation. "Anyway, I just wanted to thank you again for helping me out the other day."
"No problem, Lorelai. It was my pleasure." John smiled. "Have a great time tonight."
"We will," Lorelai assured him as she and Rory turned to walk away. "I'm wearing my dancing shoes."
"I thought you could barely walk," Rory countered.
"Dancing is not walking, Rory. Have I taught you nothing?"
Emily sat alone at the round, dinner table. People had finished eating about half an hour before, and the dancing was now well underway. Marsha and Tim had danced a beautiful waltz together before asking everyone to join them on the dance floor.
She watched Rory and Lorelai dancing together, both of them talking vibrantly. The music changed to a familiar ballad, and as Lorelai and Rory spun each other, Emily was transported back in time, to another wedding, another dance.
Lorelai was four and they were attending the wedding of one of Richard's relatives. Lorelai had tired of watching the adults dancing and had begged to be allowed to dance too. At first Emily and Richard had refused, but when Lorelai had fixed her wide, teary eyes on her father and stuck out her bottom lip, he couldn't bear it any longer and he had relented, agreeing to take her for one dance.
Lorelai had squealed with glee, eagerly grasping her father's hand and bouncing her way to the dance floor saying, "Hurry, Daddy, I like this song."
They finally reached the dance floor and Richard tried to teach her a few proper dance steps. Lorelai would have nothing of it, though. She was impatient to start dancing, so she gently stood on his feet and held his hands tightly. "Dance, Daddy, dance."
Unable to resist her impish pleading, Richard laughed and obliged, dancing and spinning with her as she giggled with unadulterated joy.
When the song ended, Lorelai had begged to keep dancing,and again Richard had given in, his adoration for her evident in the way he patiently taught her how to twirl while he held her hand.
Several songs later they returned to the table, Lorelai finally collapsing from exhaustion and falling asleep in his arms. Richard arranged her small, limp body gently on two chairs and turned to Emily, asking her for the honour of a dance. Emily had gone to him instantly, feeling safe and serene in his arms. They'd danced the evening away, so comfortable, so in love, causing all the guests to admire them.
Emily swiped away a tear as she returned to the present. Her heart ached for that man, the one who was so attentive to her needs, who was so in love with their daughter that he'd take the time to indulge her whims. After Lorelai had announced her pregnancy at sixteen, he'd never been the same. A part of him had died that day and there was nothing Emily could do to make it better. He'd thrown himself into his work and she'd let herself get swept up in DAR events and charity functions. Over time, distance had grown between them and Emily had let it. She took a shaky breath and steeled herself, resolving to rectify that wrong as soon as she could. She loved her husband with all of her heart and it was time she reminded him of that.
Her eyes drifted back to Lorelai and Rory. They spotted her and waved before continuing to spin their way across the dance floor. Emily waved back, smiling as she watched them. At one point earlier this week she'd thought she'd made a horrible mistake in bringing them all here, but now she was incredibly grateful that she had. She felt like she and Lorelai were finally on solid ground when it came to their relationship. Emily knew it wouldn't be prefect, but she was confident that they would continue to make strides in their efforts to understand each other. She was certainly planning to do her part.
Lorelai and Rory had apparently sorted out their issues, too. As much as she envied the closeness of their relationship, Emily had been unnerved by the tension between her daughter and granddaughter. She was relieved that they now seemed to be closer than ever.
Yes, she thought, this trip was good for all of us. But now, it was definitely time to go home.