Disclaimer: This is a story about characters who don't belong to me. Written after Episode 3x09.
He couldn't seem to pull in a full breath. His chest felt so constricted that he actually looked down at himself to make sure that his shirt and vest hadn't shrunk. His brother must have sensed his discomfort, as he reached over to rest a hand on Ben's shoulder.
"Benjy. Breathe." His words were solemn, but his tone was amused.
"I'm trying to," Ben replied through his teeth.
It wasn't that he was nervous; it wasn't even that he expected things to go wrong. It was just that in Pawnee, things had a tendency to go sideways when you least expected it. He had done everything in his power, called in every favor he could think of, to ensure that everything went off without a hitch. But now it was too late. If anything happened now, it was essentially out of his control. And he certainly didn't want her to have to deal with it.
He reached up to tug on his tie. Had he tied it too tight? Jesus, what if he choked while standing up here?
His brother spoke up again. "Your tie is fine. Everything is fine."
He pulled in another strangled breath. "Right."
The whirring sound of an electric engine came from behind the line of trees that blocked his view of the rest of the park. What the…?
"I'VE GOT EVERYTHING BLOCKED OFF, MS. KNOPE! NOBODY'S GONNA DISTURB YOU ON YOUR SPECIAL DAY."
He'd only met him once, but it was a voice that Ben doubted he'd soon forget. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Ron valiantly fight to keep a solemn look on his face.
Beyond the trees, there came another murmur of voices.
"I SAID THAT'S GREAT, CARL, THANK YOU."
A helpless smile spread across his face, and suddenly Ben could breathe again. What the hell had he been thinking? This was Pawnee. Chaos was inevitable.
And he couldn't think of a better place to spend his wedding day.
Leslie was micromanaging. She wasn't doing it on purpose, it was just sort of happening. Ann adjusted the neckline of Leslie's dress for the hundredth time at Leslie's request and tried to sooth her nerves. She thought that Carl's interruption would have broken the tension, and then she realized that Leslie wasn't actually tense. No more than she was at any public park event. She was just being Leslie.
"Is it better now?"
"Leslie, it looks perfect."
"It feels crooked."
"It's not crooked, that's just the way the dress is draped."
"Are you sure?"
"Leslie, how many times have you put on this dress before today?"
Leslie had found the dress, a simple white silk column with a deep V-neck, on her first and only foray in Indianapolis to look. That had been about four months earlier. "…a lot."
"Right. And has it ever been crooked before?"
Leslie shot Ann a begrudging look. "No, it hasn't."
"No, it hasn't. You need to just relax, honey. You look beautiful."
"April, the clasp of your necklace is showing."
April rolled her eyes but did nothing. Ann shot Donna, who was inspecting her manicure, a pleading look. She glared in response, but walked over to April to fix it.
Ann gave her a grateful smile. "Thank you, Donna."
Leslie wasn't satisfied. "Oh, but it's still—"
"Leslie." Ann gripped her friend's shoulders and waited until she'd met her eyes. "In a few minutes, Andy is going to start playing, and you are going to walk down that aisle. I guarantee you, you'll take one look at Ben and it won't matter to you if we all have toilet paper stuck our shoes."
Leslie's eyes widened in alarm and she tried to look around Ann at their shoes. Ann tightened her grip. "We don't, but it wouldn't matter anyway. All that's going to matter is you and Ben. Okay?"
Leslie closed her eyes and nodded. "You're right. I know you're right. But can everyone check their shoes for toilet paper anyway?"
Soft strains of music seemed to waft in through the dense tree branches as Andy began his (fortunately much improved) instrumental rendition of "What A Wonderful World." Leslie straightened and resisted the urge to peek around the trees. "That's it, that's the signal!" She turned to face her bridesmaids and maid of honor and suddenly her eyes filled. "Oh!" It was April who reached out first, then Ann, and finally Donna enfolded them all in a group hug. "I love you all so much."
"We love you, too. Now." Donna pulled back and the others followed suit. "Why don't you go get hitched?"
Leslie sniffed back the last of her tears. "I think I will." She watched April pick up her bouquet and had a sudden panicked thought. "Wait!" Three pairs of eyes turned to her with varying expressions of exasperation. "Does everyone remember how to walk?"
April came down the aisle first, and actually managed to look less bored than usual. Not quite as excited as she had been on her own wedding day, but it was close. To his right, Ben heard Andy say to someone "That's my wife!" in a voice that was probably as close to a whisper as Andy Dwyer could get.
Donna walked next, and cast a wink at Ben as she took her place next to April. Ben wasn't entirely sure that was a good thing. He found the grin that Ann aimed at him as she approached much more comforting. And then everyone was standing and there she was, finally. Leslie Knope. His Leslie.
Her eyes looked a little wet, but she had that unstoppable smile on her face, and Ben realized he was smiling back at her just as widely.
Everything went off without a hitch. Sure, Carl could be heard loudly warning people away from the ceremony a few times, and at one point a crowd of Japanese tourists (who Carl had apparently missed) gathered at the end of the aisle and snapped photos. Ben heard his brother murmur to Chris "Who brings a busload of tourists to Pawnee, Indiana?" and Tom's snorted laughter in response, but it was all peripheral. In the end it was just Leslie and he, grinning at each other like a pair of idiots.
And then they were married.
They'd rehearsed the traditional recessional, with Andy playing something else on the guitar, though Ben couldn't remember for the life of him what song it was supposed to be. He was kissing his wife.
He could vaguely hear their guests cheering, and then the cheering got abruptly louder as Andy, who had also evidently forgotten he was supposed to play another song, ran over and caught them both up in a hug. Leslie laughed in delight and hugged him back, which the other guests seemed to take as a sign and soon they were in danger of being crushed in a massive group hug. Just as it occurred to Ben to be concerned, he heard Ron shout, "Alright everybody, it's time to eat!" and then with slightly less volume, "And there had better be a goddamn cake this time."
The crowd moved towards the pavilion where food and a temporary dance floor had been set up. The wedding party hung back for a quick session with the photographer, and then the attendants were dismissed and it was just Leslie and Ben standing under the widest, oldest tree in Ramsett Park.
The photographer, a young woman who had come highly recommended by the community center's photography teacher, was going for some candid shots, so she encouraged them to "Just act natural."
Leslie grinned up at Ben and found him steadily looking down at her with an expression she couldn't quite read. "What is it?"
He cleared his throat and glanced at his feet before meeting her eyes with a bashful grin. "I know you're keeping your name, but can I call you Mrs. Wyatt? Just once?"
Her face settled into a thoughtful expression as she considered his request. "Well, that depends. Will you still respect me as an individual woman capable of making her own intelligent decisions?"
Considerably better at detecting her sarcasm than he had been a year and a half before, he nodded solemnly. "Absolutely."
"Well, alright then. Just once."
He wrapped his arms around her waist and leaned in to touch his forehead to hers. "I love you, Mrs. Wyatt."
Leslie reached up on her tiptoes to connect her lips with his and chuckled. "I love you back, Mr. Knope."
A/N: Okay, you get one more chapter. And one without any waffles at all! (Though if you'd like to imagine that their wedding guests are dining on waffles and calzones, you'd be perfectly justified in doing so.) The dress Leslie is wearing is the "Silk tricotine Cecelia gown " from J. Crew. It's the closest I could find to the dress in my head. Ben is wearing a shirt in a subtle check (I read a story-don't remember which, sorry!-which put him in pale gray on white check, which I thought sounded lovely), a dark gray vest, and I think probably a brightly colored tie. Green, maybe, or a saturated blue. It isn't necessary to the story, but it's the picture I had in my head while writing this and I couldn't find a way to include the information in the story that didn't feel clunky. So bonus for you, readers of Author's Notes!