A/N: I love Disneyland and I've been missing it since my move to NYC. This is my tribute to all the magical nostalgia of my youth.
Rachel raises her phone and frames Quinn in the center before she snaps the image. There's no way for her to know that this will happen time and time again at this very location, that Quinn will insist on posing here, that she will always attempt the impossible.
The thing about Quinn is, once she allows herself to dream, she's more relentless than Rachel.
Right now, Disneyland is part of an itinerary, part of a plan. It's a page among many in a folder, sandwiched between hotel printouts from Orbitz and Google maps to California universities. It's a first, this time.
When Quinn grips the handle of the sword in the stone, right there in front of King Arthur's Carousel, she's a friend, an unlikely ally. But their desire to get out of Lima is a shared passion and Rachel's learning quickly that she can't rely on New York alone.
Despite this trip, she ends up at NYU and Quinn settles in at UCLA and changes her major three times before she ultimately decides to pursue history. As much as she's been running from her own, she's fascinated by everyone else's.
They don't even see each other, again, until the summer before junior year of college. Well, Quinn's junior year, anyway. While they're in line for the Jungle Cruise, Rachel drops the bomb that she's dropping out, but only because she's been offered a job doing voice-over work.
By October, they occupy the same coast and Rachel surprises Quinn with top tier annual passes. Quinn tries to turn hers down until Rachel reveals the passes were given to her by her new employer, because the voice-over job is the lead role in an upcoming Disney film.
Even though Rachel's the bona fide Disney princess, Quinn's the one who insists on wearing a tiara that day in the park.
That Christmas, under the fake snow on Main Street, Quinn slips her hand into Rachel's and holds it all through their traditional ride on the Disneyland Railroad for the entire Grand Circle Tour. In the dark of the ridiculous Grand Canyon section, right before they encounter the dinosaurs, Quinn kisses her.
The picture Rachel took earlier that day by the carousel, the one with Quinn in the Santa hat with Mickey ears, is the last one where Quinn Fabray isn't her girlfriend. For a while, anyway.
There's one from a couple years later, where Quinn's tugging on the sword with particular determination, one eyebrow raised, bottom lip between her teeth. It's summer, and aside from the eyebrow, her eyes are hidden behind her sunglasses. She takes them off a little while later, while they're touring the Rivers of America, then drops to one knee and asks Rachel to marry her. After that day, Rachel no longer refers to the Mark Twain Riverboat as boring.
They don't get married there, because they're not that ridiculous. They do invite the entire wedding party to spend the day with them in their favorite theme park. As much fun as it is to watch their friends discover all the magic for the first time, Rachel's favorite part of the day is the time they spend alone on the Haunted Mansion. It's always creeped her out, but with Quinn's arm around her shoulders and that new ring around her finger, she feels safer than she ever has, before. And even though Quinn doesn't get scared, not on this ride, not on roller coasters, she whispers a similar sentiment in Rachel's ear.
They have each other. They'll always have each other.
In a few years, Quinn has help when it comes to trying to force that damn sword out of that damn stone. The first time, baby Jonathan just kind of slaps his chubby little hand against the handle. But by the time he's celebrating his sixth birthday, he's a seasoned professional and proceeds to give his sister, Austen, a lesson in how to pull and pose and make a wish.
This is the first Rachel hears about the wish making part of the process. When she asks Quinn, her wife just shrugs and suggests she not question something that's obviously worked so well for them over time.
Eventually, there will be a photo where Jon will tower over Quinn, his arms over her shoulders as they both pull up on the sword while Austen not so patiently waits for her turn and threatens to eat her brother's mouse-ear shaped ice cream sandwich. It will be a favorite in the digital photo frame and also serve as the background on Rachel's iPad for a long time.
Still, the image Rachel keeps in her trailer, the one that's been with her in dressing rooms and on location, the one that sits in an actual frame, the one that's printed on photo paper, is the one of a girl, barely eighteen, short blonde hair tossed by the wind. It's a picture of someone who will dare to dream, even if it terrifies her.
It's a picture of someone Rachel loves, has loved, and will love.
It's a picture of the beginning.
And even if that sword never budges, she knows Quinn will never stop trying.