Notes: Spoilers for Interview with a Werewolf and a minor one for Witch's College. I assumed Violet's wedding happened later on in the show, so this story is set after season 1.
Violet Thorne's wedding is beautiful. The groom is Merton's uncle Spencer, who owns a gothic literature bookshop and lives in a Queen Anne style house in New England. The ceremony is in the park with a white gazebo serving as the alter.
Merton shows up in a black three-piece suit and a bowtie printed with tiny silver skulls. Becky calls him a freak, but Tommy thinks he looks pretty dapper. Tommy shows up in his Dawkins best, which is the philosophy that you can dress up anything if you throw on a sports coat. He knows Merton will cluck and shake his head, so he steals his dad's best tie and spends hours in front of the mirror trying to get the knot right. He has the unsettling suspicion that he's dressing up more for Merton than for Violet and then uses a gold stickpin on the tie before he can stop himself.
Most of Violet's family is dead and the Dingle family is only enough for a few tiny rows of seats, so Tommy invites the high school football team with Violet's blessing, and Merton puts them to work setting up the chairs and collapsible archway. It's hilarious to see quarterbacks docilely taking orders from a guy half their size, but Merton is a human juggernaut in his element. He's practically running the whole wedding himself, and Tommy follows him around feeling useless as Merton talks to the caterers and pokes the tablecloths. The only thing Violet has insisted upon doing herself is the floral arrangements, and Tommy has to admit they're impressive. He also thinks Merton is taking the whole, 'bride tried to suck the life out of me' deal better than he'd expected.
Not to be outdone, Merton has also invited his group of fellow Gothic Fantasy Guild members who show up, all three of them, like a dark cloud of apathy. One of the goths is pimply and tall and wearing a Cure shirt under his suit jacket. The other two arrive arm in arm dressed in dark purple velvet that is too hot for a summer wedding; the girl has apparently foreseen this and is carrying a tiny black lace parasol over her head. Merton calls the style 'gothic Victorian,' but Tommy thinks that's giving them way too much credit. He starts calling them Morticia and Gomez Addams in his head.
Merton goes over to greet them, and the bored expressions on all their faces don't waver, though the tall goth does shake Merton's hand. Tommy can't see his face, which is obscured by a long unruly mop of dyed black hair. Cousin It, Tommy thinks and almost bursts a kidney trying to keep a straight face as Merton brings the Guild members over to meet him.
Merton has actually hired an honest-to-God live band, and they strike up a jazzy version of The Battle Hymn of the Republic as all the guests find their seats on either side of the grassy aisle in front of the gazebo. Tommy finds a seat next to Merton and drapes an arm across the back of his chair. Merton is sitting ramrod straight with his fingers laced together.
Tommy puts a hand on his stiff shoulder and squeezes. "Relax, it'll be fine," he whispers, and Merton nods and swallows.
Despite Merton's misgivings, the ceremony starts without a hitch. Uncle Spencer and the reverend from Violet's home town come in from the sides and watch as the procession filters in from the back. Uncle Spenser is beaming and dressed in what he calls his 'best greys,' complete with bowler hat, and Tommy wonders how much of an influence he was on young Merton's budding sartorial tastes. Tommy sees Spencer's sister roll her eyes as she walks down the aisle with one of the groomsmen, and he wonders if each generation of Dingles is just a succession of Mertons and Beckys. The best man is Spencer's brother, and the maid of honour is Violet's best friend from Pensacola. Incidentally, she is also Violet's arch nemesis. Violet describes her as the one who got married before her, rubbed it in her face, and proceeded to go through a succession of ex-husbands before finally settling on a retired army general who is seldom in the country.
Becky is a very reluctant flower girl, and the ring bearer is Merton's five year old cousin, whose procession is more of a mad dash down the aisle to freedom. He tries to escape through the gazebo and is chased down by his father. Tommy has to physically restrain Merton, who is whispering, "Hundreds of dollars worth of rings? To him? Really?" and trying to join the chase.
The band finally goes into the opening strains of the Bridal March, and the assembly turns as one to watch Violet Thorne walk down the aisle. There's no one to give her away, but Tommy doesn't think Violet is that kind of woman anyway. She looks radiant in an old-fashioned lace gown that she's been keeping all these years since her first failed wedding, and the bouquet of roses in her hand stands out in a splash of red and pink.
Violet's smile turns wicked as she passes them, and Tommy wonders again how they've ended up helping her get married after she did her damnest to drain the life from both of them. He supposes he and Merton are just romantics like that. And being old had certainly been…interesting. He's always wondered how they would look when they grew old, and for a moment after she had stolen their youth, he'd allowed himself to imagine that this was how they would look when they grew old together, with Merton complaining about children on his lawn and Tommy barely able to fight from the arthiritis crippling his werewolf form.
Tommy's always assumed that settling on someone to spend your life with is something so completely out of the scope of high-school that he won't have to worry about it for years. So he is taken completely by surprise when he turns to Merton during the ceremony to whisper in his ear and thinks, yes, of course. It's you.
He must be sitting there open-mouthed, because Merton glances at him and hisses, "What? Was the bowtie too much?"
Tommy closes his mouth and has difficulty swallowing, let alone forming multi-syllable words. "No. You look. Great."
The wolf wants to come out. It wants to drag Merton away from everyone else and run into the woods where it's cool and dark and familiar. It wants to howl at the moon and grab Merton's hand to lead him through the brush and show him all the interesting sounds and smells of the forest. It wants to hold onto Merton and never let go.
He realizes he's crowding Merton's space. His arm is in a death grip around Merton's chair, and his other hand is pressed against the white starched handkerchief in Merton's breast pocket. The wolf pricks up its ears and detects Merton's pulse and the even shh-shhof his breath. It is comforted for a time, and Tommy is able to banish it away to a corner like a disobedient puppy. He turns around to see if anyone else has noticed him, and it's only then that he discovers the two lines of stone-faced football players that are sitting behind him. Tommy feels all the blood drain out of his face.
Then the entire first row bursts into grins. One of the linebackers gives him a thumbs up, and another begins a series of encouraging and increasingly inappropriate hand gestures. The blood surges back into Tommy's face with a vengeance, and he turns back to the ceremony before he can embarrass himself further.
He can't pull away from Merton. The wolf won't allow it, and Merton will probably shoot him quizzical glances that will start with, 'hey, are you feeling okay?' and somehow end up at 'Oh god, let me get my stake.' For Merton, the transition between these two states is alarmingly sudden, and Tommy doesn't want the wedding to end in a grisly reenactment of Salem's Lot. Tommy is sure the best man likes his heart just where it is. So he doesn't move an inch for the entire rest of the ceremony and tries not to breathe in the scent of Merton's cologne.
He only comes to when he hears the reverend pronouncing Violet and Spencer husband and wife. Violet and Spencer kiss, and Merton finally collapses against Tommy in a whoosh of nerves. He leans back to rest his head in the crook of Tommy's neck.
"I never knew this could be so nerve-wracking," he whispers over, and his lips brush Tommy's jaw. Someone behind them snickers.
Tommy has to hand it to him: Merton really does have the worst timing in the entire world. "Tell me about it," he manages to grit out and wills Merton to stop snuggling against him.
Luck seems to be on his side for once as Merton leaps up with the others to cheer and throw confetti at the newlyweds as they beam and walk back up the aisle to greet their well-wishers. Violet blows them a kiss when she sees them, and Merton laughs. Tommy finds out a second later that Luck is a fickle bitch when Merton reaches out and grabs his hand.
"Come on, Tommy," he says. "We should help set up for the reception."
Tommy lets himself be dragged along and ignores the whistling coming from the rows behind them. Apparently the football team is okay with his fictional relationship with Merton, and he isn't sure whether he's touched or horrified by their support.
Everyone helps move the white wicker tables and chairs for the reception, and catering swoops in with tablecloths and colourful centerpieces. It's a small wedding, after all, and there isn't much to tear down and build back up. Tommy just wants some alone time to think, but it seems that every time he tries he's accosted by someone. Violet's old friends, who want to pinch his cheeks, and the entire male clan of Dingles, who want to smoke and talk football with him. To make matters worse, the band has stayed for the reception and has begun to serenade them with lively music.
"Finally," Merton mutters as Tommy returns to sit beside him. "The speeches are about to start, and I'm pretty sure the best man is drunk already."
The best man is very drunk, but he manages to pull together a very poignant speech from the still-sober corners of his brain. "You know exactly when you meet The One," he finishes and spills some champagne on himself as he toasts the couple. "You never forget it. She becomes your best friend, the one you can't imagine life without."
Tommy drains his champagne glass and regrets not asking Merton to have a bar during the reception. He really needs it right now. Maybe he can sneak away early.
Catering serves dishes of classic Southern cuisine. Tommy barely tastes it and listens to Merton ramble with half an ear. Merton is talking to Morticia Addams and one of Violet's old friends about the proper way to cast a circle, whatever that means. Morticia looks bored, but Violet's friend is fascinated, clutching a handkerchief to her heart and interjecting with a soft, "I declare," now and again.
"Hey, Dawkins," someone says and claps him on the shoulder. Tommy turns around and finds Billy, one of the cornerbacks, offering him a hand to shake. "You, my friend, have some balls. I respect that."
"Uh, thanks," Tommy says and wonders if he's in one of Merton's surrealist movies. "But I don't really—"
"Dude." Billy shakes his head. "Chill out. The team already knows."
"Knows?" Tommy is again reduced to single-syllable words. "What?"
"Besides, Coach told us not to give you shit about it, since we need you to win this year."
"Coach knows too?" Tommy demands. He should be telling Billy that this is all a misunderstanding, but the words are sticking in his throat.
"Sure." Billy shrugs and picks at his teeth with a thumbnail. Tommy wonders how he can be so casual and wants to shake him. "Most of the guys are good about it. But you let me know if there's any trouble. Team morale and all that."
"Team morale," Tommy repeats. "But how did you... Merton was never—"
Billy is looking at him like he's an idiot. "Dude, why else would you hang out with Dingle?"
"What?" Merton turns around, and course he would choose now to come out of his bubble. "What about me?"
"You guys." Billy punches Tommy and then Merton on the arm. Merton winces, and Tommy's shoulder twinges in sympathy. Billy has a mean punch, even when it's friendly. "You're alright."
Merton watches with a perplexed expression as Billy saunters away to flirt with one of the bridesmaids. "What was that about?"
"Just telling us we did a great job with the wedding," Tommy lies.
Merton buys it and turns back to discuss pagan rituals with Morticia, whose real name is Raven. Tommy doesn't think this is much better and keeps calling her Morticia in his head. She's a Wicked ("Wiccan," Merton sighs when Tommy asks. "Wic-can. Honestly, Tommy.") and has just come from a coven meeting with her boyfriend Apollonius. Tommy eyes her pockets for low-fat celery or pretzel wands just in case.
Merton leans forward to listen to whatever she's saying, and the wolf growls. It doesn't want Merton to pay attention to Morticia, and Tommy finds himself agreeing. He slumps back in his seat and stretches out his legs till his knee is knocking against Merton's and then does the old yawn-stretch trick to put his arm around Merton's shoulders. Merton absently leans against him and keeps talking with Morticia, but Tommy and the wolf are satisfied now. He catches Morticia's eyes and tries to broadcast back off as strongly as he can. It must work, because she excuses herself to get more punch and disappears somewhere into the parking lot with her boyfriend in tow. The wolf is pleased, but Tommy is now embarrassed.
"I declare," Violet's friend repeats in a disapproving voice before continuing to pick at her rosemary chicken.
Violet and Spencer cut the wedding cake, which is a towering red velvet behemoth of white icing and real candied flower petals pressed into the sides. It's dry on Tommy's tongue, and he spends more time than he should staring at the glob of icing clinging to the side of Merton's mouth. He figures he just has a secret obsessive-compulsive side to him that Merton has a knack of bringing out. After cake, the football players help clear away the tables, and Violet climbs on top of the bandstand while all the eligible unmarried women cluster behind her.
Tommy catches the bouquet completely by accident because Violet has an arm like a cannon, and she sends the bouquet hurtling right towards Merton's face. It's a good thing Tommy has wolfy reflexes, or Merton could have been sent to the emergency room via Estelle tea roses and baby's breath. Tommy suspects she's anticipated this, because she gives him a sly wink and then looks from his face to Merton's and then back.
Tommy knows his face is heating up, and she laughs and turns back to kiss her new husband. He can see some of the young woman she used to be in her gestures, the way she tosses her hair and flings out her hands to touch the floral arrangements decorating the bandstand. Merton's uncle is clearly smitten.
There's dancing afterward with the band playing ragtime tunes. Some of the older couples are dancing the Bunny Hug while their younger offspring watch from the sidelines, perplexed. Violet and Spencer take a break after their first dance to greet their guests and glad-hand. She compliments the Addams couple on their period-accurate clothes, and Morticia cracks a smile for the first time all evening.
The evening is cool but still humid, and Tommy has loosened his tie and gone in search of a glass of lemonade. Merton's dad finds him instead.
"Hey, Tommy Dawkins, right?" he says and shakes Tommy's hand. "Merton talks about you all the time. What a party, huh?"
"Yeah," Tommy says and looks longingly at the cool perspiring pitchers of lemonade on the table just over Mr. Dingle's shoulder. "Merton did great."
"Hmph," Mr. Dawkins says. "Not saying it isn't nice, but that kind of thing isn't really man's work, is it?"
"I helped," Tommy adds and gives Mr. Dingle a toothy challenging grin. He personally knows that Merton put more effort and time into this wedding than most rebels spend staging government coups, and there were times Tommy suspected Merton had connections to the mob with all the contacts and strings he finagled to get Violet's wedding off the ground at such short notice. The thought of a weaponised Merton involved in organised crime is kind of terrifying and hot at the same time.
Mr. Dingle wisely changes the subject. "It's funny how Violet and old Spencer met, isn't it?" he says. "Just goes to show you that you can never know. I met my wife back in high school."
Tommy is suddenly very interested. "Huh. Really," he says in a way he hopes sounds nonchalant. "High school. Kind of early to decide that kind of thing, isn't it?"
"I know it sounds far down the road for you, young man," Mr. Dingle says. "But you can't help when you meet someone."
"No," Tommy murmurs. He's certain his voice doesn't crack. "You really can't. So how did you, uh…" He clears his throat. "How did you spring it on her?"
Mr. Dingle smiles and looks nostalgic. "Nothing special. Just took her aside one day and said, you know, Jenine, one day I'm going to marry you. And she said, yeah, Frank, I know. And then we went to catch a movie like we always did on Friday nights." He shakes his head. "Sorry, weddings always make me sentimental."
"It's fine," Tommy says. One of Mr. Dingle's relatives takes that moment to say hello, and Tommy sees an opening. "Excuse me," he says and dives for the lemonade table. He grabs two glasses of lemonade and makes his way back to the shady gazebo to wait for Merton.
Merton is dancing with the newly minted Mrs. Dingle, who is laughing up at him as he leads her through the steps of a waltz. Merton is good at it. Of course he's good. His mind is still helplessly caught in the 19th century, and his body is comfortable in the realm of ballroom etiquette and lace gloves. It's the first time Tommy has seen him move with grace. The black lines of his jacket are crisp and elegant.
Tommy isn't sure how long he stares, but the next thing he knows the song has ended to general applause, and Merton hands Violet off to Spencer and weaves his way through the dancers towards the gazebo.
His pale face is flushed with colour, and his bowtie is wilting. "Hi," he says. "Thought I'd find you here. Enjoying the party?"
Tommy hands him one of the glasses. "You did a good job."
Merton shrugs and gulps down the lemonade. A drop trickles down his chin and lands on his jacket. "I do know something of parties in the 1800s. And Becky actually helped a lot."
"Becky?" Tommy looks over to where Becky is doing her damnest to Dip with one of the football players despite the quick swinging brass beat the band has struck up. She catches them both watching and sticks out her tongue.
"Temporary truce," Merton clarifies. "Hey, why do the football players keep smiling at me? Am I going to find some kind of nasty surprise in my locker come Monday?"
"No," Tommy says. "I don't think you'll have to worry about that."
Merton wipes his forehead with the cold edge of his glass. He puts it down to join Tommy's empty one on the gazebo railing. "I'm surprised nothing weird has happened yet. You know, supernatural."
"Don't say that," Tommy warns him. "Seriously, you know the minute you say that…"
"Could be worse. Could be raining," Merton quips and grins. His dimples show.
Tommy can't help it and reaches over to tweak Merton's bowtie. "It's coming apart," he explains and knows Merton probably sees right through him.
"Oh." Merton bites his lip and then returns the favour by pulling at the knot of Tommy's tie. He runs his fingers over the gold stickpin. "I never thought I'd see you wear one of these. I think my dad has one."
"Hey," Tommy protests. "I wore this because of you. For solidarity."
"I didn't say it looked bad," Merton mumbles, and then his eyes narrow. "Hm. Might make for a good stake, too. Does that best man look a little too pale and dodgy to you, or is it just me?"
Tommy laughs and laughs and feels the tension leave his shoulders. He grabs the back of Merton's neck and reels him in to kiss his forehead. "What would I do without you, Merton?"
"Oh," Merton whispers in a warm puff of breath, and Tommy realises too late that the wolf got the drop on him when he least expected it.
"Oh shit," he says, and it comes out an octave lower than normal. Bad dog, he scolds the wolf, who grumbles and worries the edges of Tommy's oncoming headache like it's a chew toy. "Merton, I'm really sorry. That was completely out of—"
"No," Merton says. He grabs the lapels of Tommy's coat and presses his face against them. He's warm.
They're deep in each other's personal spaces, even for them. Tommy's hand is still on Merton's neck, and his other hand is trying to insinuate itself into the black spiky tufts of Merton's hair.
"Are we okay?" Tommy asks and rubs his fingers against Merton's scalp.
"Yeah," Merton's voice comes out muffled against his coat. He's taking deep breaths like he's trying not to hyperventilate. "Just give me a minute."
"Sure." Tommy looks out at the dancers, but no one is paying attention to them. The maid of honour is dancing with future ex-husband number six, and Cousin It is helping himself to seconds of cake. He can see the Addams couple wandering around trying to find a place to sit. Tommy is certain they're jealous that he and Merton have stolen all the dramatic shadowy places in the park, but he figures they can just deal with it. The fairy lights in the trees have come on, and everything is lit up in a soft golden glow. It's the best party Tommy's ever been to, including the ones with pyramids of beer cans and nachos with chili-cheese dip. Oh man, chilli-cheese dip. Catering needs to get on that.
"So," Merton says finally. He's trying to sound casual and failing miserably, but Tommy doesn't have the heart to tell him, possibly because he's doing a pretty poor job of acting casual, himself. "Uh, nice catch back there with the bouquet thing. I thought I was a dead man."
"Yup," Tommy says. He can feel Merton's voice reverberating through his chest. "Guess I'm getting hitched next."
Merton huffs. "Got anyone in mind?"
Tommy presses his mouth against Merton's temples and breathes in the scent of his old-fashioned cologne. Merton shivers but says nothing, and Tommy smiles into his hair. "Does that answer your question?"
Merton hisses in a breath. "Let me get this straight," he says. His voice comes out in a squeak. "Did you just confess your feelings and then ask me to marry you three seconds later?"
"Yeah," Tommy says. He fights the strange urge to laugh, because he had never imagined they would have this conversation, and really, who the hell apart from a Jane Austen heroine uses the words confess your feelings in an actual sentence? "Not right away. But someday. Maybe."
"Okay," Merton says like that's a perfectly reasonable answer. He pulls away and jerks his head towards the parking lot. His face is suspiciously pink, but Tommy's not going to call him on it. "Let's get out of here. I'm exhausted, and there's a Romero-style zombie marathon on tonight. I'll make popcorn."
"Sweet," Tommy says. "And you can tell me all about Morticia's wicker religion."
"Wiccan. And who's Morticia?" Merton asks, grinning, and Tommy feels another rush of affection for him. He doesn't bother moving his arm from Merton's shoulder on their way out. Merton even wraps a timid arm around Tommy's waist. He's spinning the keys to the hearse around his finger and humming the opening lines of Stagger Lee, and Tommy thinks that he could get used to this.
The best man smiles at them as they leave, and his eyeteeth may or may not be longer and pointier than average, but Evil Dead II is coming on in fifteen minutes, so Tommy lets it slide just this once.