A/N: It's Epilogue time!
Thank you so much to everyone who's been following this story, your reviews and support have been inspiring and kept me going when I started to flag.
And of course, a huge thank you to my wonderful pre-readers: Beckybrit, Miss Dare and Sadtomato and to Mamdi for betaing. I love you, ladies.
I grimace at my reflection in the mirror in the hallway. Objectively I suppose that I look okay - I just don't look like me. The expensive fabric of the lightweight suit feels unfamiliar on my skin. I fiddle with my tie again, adjusting it minutely.
"You look pretty damn good, little bro," Leah reassures me. "Now stop fussing."
"I feel weird," I grumble. "I wish I could just wear my jeans, Riley wouldn't care."
"You look great, honestly," Jake reassures me. "If I can handle wearing a suit then you sure as fuck can do it without complaining. It's your wedding after all."
I turn to look at my best man. His suit is similar to mine, but a subtly darker shade of gray. Alice was in charge of our outfits of course, and I have to admit she's done an awesome job. Riley will be wearing a suit like mine; while his best man, Edward, will be wearing the darker version.
True to her word, Leah flatly refused to be a bridesmaid and wouldn't let Alice take her shopping - insisting that she didn't need some tiny vamp-chick telling her what the fuck to wear. But she looks fantastic in the dress that she chose herself. It's deep red silk and sets off her coloring perfectly.
"I'll go and see whether Mom's ready," Leah says. "You look hot in that suit," she grins suggestively at Jake and squeezes his ass as she passes him. He jumps and gives a surprised chuckle.
"Have you got the ring?" I ask Jake anxiously.
"Of course," he pats his breast pocket. "Give me some credit, Seth. It's the most important job a best man has to do. I'm hardly likely to forget it."
I chuckle, running a nervous hand through my hair, then curse as I realize I've messed it up again. "Fuck!"
Leah and Mom emerge and my mother approaches, her face glowing as she looks at me. "You look wonderful, sweetheart." She smoothes my errant hair down carefully. "So handsome."
"Okay," Jake claps his hands together. "Are we ready?"
I take a deep breath and nod. "Yeah, let's do it."
We squeeze into Jake's Rabbit to drive the short distance to the beach at La Push. We'll need the car later to get to the reception, which is going to be held at the Cullens' house.
"Are you sure you have the ring?" I can't help myself.
"Oh, for God's sake," Jake pulls the velvet pouch from his pocket and passes it back to me. "Go on," he says. "Check that it's inside, and then you can shut up about the damn thing."
I tip the ring out into my hand and pick it up to look at it for the last time before I get to put it on Riley's finger.
We're having matching rings, white gold bands etched with a tribal design that we chose together. But because I can't wear a ring when I shift, we decided that mine will only be worn on special occasions - otherwise one day I'll be bound to forget to take it off and will either break the ring or my finger when I phase. I have an appointment in a couple of weeks to have the interlocking design tattooed onto my finger instead, so it will be there always.
I slip the ring back into the bag and hand it back to Jake.
"Can we go now?" he rolls his eyes at me.
Excitement and nerves ripple through me. Mom takes my hand and squeezes as the car starts to move.
"Alice, I can tie my own fucking tie," I snap. "Will you please just leave me in peace?"
I'm this close to tearing my hair out.
Don't get me wrong, I adore Alice and I'm generally very grateful for her tireless enthusiasm when it's come to planning our wedding. But sometimes she's just too much to handle. I'm jittery already and she's not helping matters.
"I wish Seth could have stayed here," I mutter, fiddling with my tie again. "He always keeps me calm when I'm stressed out. I don't see why you insisted on him going home last night."
"Because it's traditional," Alice puts her hands on her hips and frowns at me.
"Humph," I huff. "It's traditional for a wedding to be for two humans of the opposite sex. Nothing about this wedding is traditional!"
"Whatever," she sniffs. "I think it's a nice tradition and it will be all the more exciting when you get to see him at the ceremony after spending the night apart. You have a ridiculously long future together ahead of you, I'm sure you can cope with another hour."
I'm about to lose my shit and snap at her, but fortunately we're interrupted by Bella poking her head around the door. Her amber eyes catch mine and she flashes me a knowing look.
"Alice, Rose needs you right away. Can you come?"
Alice looks at me and raises her eyebrows.
"It's fine Alice, you go help Rose. You can check my tie later."
I never thought I'd have cause to be grateful to Rose, but she's my savior this morning. The pre-arranged, deliberate hair-emergency gets Alice off my back, so I'm able to finish getting dressed and ready with a minimum of fuss.
Edward knocks on the door and enters just as I'm finishing up.
"How do I look?" I ask uncertainly.
"You look fine," he smiles. "I don't know... I'm as clueless as most guys when it comes to clothes, but Alice knows her stuff, so just trust her when she tells you it's perfect."
We assemble in the living room while we wait for everyone to be ready to leave. Rose - God bless her - keeps Alice occupied until the eleventh hour and they're the last to come downstairs.
Rose shoots me a look as if to remind me that I owe her. I flash her a quick, grateful grin.
"Right," Alice rushes over to me, her tiny hands tweaking and straightening as she inspects me carefully. "You look wonderful, Riley, so dashing. And that tie is the perfect color on you.
Different colored ties are what make our outfits distinctive. Although my and Seth's suits are the same, I'm wearing a dark amber tie that apparently complements my hair and eyes, while Seth's is a deep burgundy. Edward and Jake, our best men, are each wearing different colors too - an emerald green for Edward and a greenish-blue for Jake.
I look around the room at the people assembled there, the people that I've come to think of as my family, just as much as my mom. A warm feeling spreads through my chest as they smile at me and my face splits into a huge grin.
Alice claps her hands. "Okay, are we all ready?"
She takes charge again, ushering us all out of the house and into waiting vehicles. We didn't bother to hire limos, the Cullens have more than enough vehicles between them.
I climb into the back of Edward's Volvo, with Edward driving and Bella in the passenger seat. We're stopping to collect my mom before heading to the beach so we pull away first, leaving the rest of the Cullens to follow.
"Are you okay?" Bella turns to smile at me. Her strange yellow eyes glow in her porcelain face. Bella makes a beautiful vampire.
"I think so," I nod. "It all feels a bit unreal."
"I felt like that too," she said, "as though it was happening to someone else."
"Yeah, that's it exactly!" It's true. I can't believe that in approximately an hour I'm going to be married. Seth will be my husband and I'll be his. It's crazy... but it's wonderful too.
"No second thoughts?" she grins, already knowing the answer.
"Of course not," I chuckle.
I don't have a single doubt in my mind.
The weather couldn't be better.
Of course the ideal weather for a wedding where one of the grooms and half the guests are vampires is a cloudy day - which is exactly what we've been granted, thanks to Alice's abilities. The sky is pale gray with high, light clouds and the sea stretches out beneath it like slate. There's no wind and a gentle swell sends lazy waves spilling up the wet sand at the shoreline.
The beach is the perfect setting for what we're about to do. It's the place where we first met, where we shared our first kiss. It feels wonderfully appropriate that it's also going to be the place where we promise to spend eternity together. I'm grateful that the pack agreed to allow us to have our wedding here. It's testament to how much the relationship between the pack and the Cullens has changed.
We only wanted our closest friends and family present for this part of our day. There will be more guests at the reception later, but we wanted this part to be just for us and the people who matter the most. The ceremony is simple, using the standard vows. Billy Black is our officiant, as an Elder of the Quileute tribe, and I'm glad that there are no strangers here to spoil the intimacy of the occasion.
Riley looks beautiful, his face intent and his eyes fixed on mine as we say our vows. When it's time to exchange rings, Edward and Jake step forward, placing them into our hands. As I slip my ring onto Riley's finger, and he slips his onto mine, we smile at each other and it's as though we're the only two people present.
When Billy finally pronounces us husband and husband, we grin at each other and are kissing before anyone gives us permission. I chuckle against Riley's lips when people start clapping and I hear a catcall, which I'm pretty sure came from Quil or Embry.
Once the ceremony is over, the guests line the path back to the parking lot, waiting to congratulate us as we pass. Our moms, the Cullens, the pack - they're all united here to help us celebrate our love for each other. Even Paul is there, and I smile at him as he shakes Riley's hand.
Back at the Cullens place we stand around, chatting and laughing with our guests as other people start to arrive.
Charlie Swan turns up first; he's my mom's date for the evening. Their relationship is still fairly new and tentative, but he makes my mom smile in a way that I haven't seen since Dad died.
Kathy has a date this evening, too. She met a guy through her work as an administrator at Forks Hospital and they've been together for a few months now. He's a clerk in the same department as her, and he's a good man. Riley's happy that his mom has met someone. He was worried about her being lonely with him living at the Cullens, knowing that he was unlikely to ever move back home.
It took us a while to decide where we'll be living after we're married. Even though the pack would allow Riley to live back on the res if he chose to, he wasn't comfortable with the idea, feeling that he'd be under scrutiny and never entirely trusted. Likewise the Cullens made it very clear that I could live with them and I'm grateful for their acceptance. But it wouldn't feel right for me to live there permanently, even though I've stayed there most nights for the last year.
Esme came up with the perfect solution, suggesting that we move into a small cottage that's on the edge of the Cullens' land. It was dilapidated and needed lots of work to get it suitable to live in, but with Esme's decorating skills and lots of hard work we've turned it into a beautiful place that will be perfect for us. We're both going to college in Seattle in the fall, but when we come back for the holidays the cottage will always be there waiting for us.
Other friends drift in and soon the room is a noisy throng of people, drinking and chatting animatedly until Jake and Edward call for silence.
Riley and I stumble through our very short speeches, neither of us enjoys being the center of attention and we get our thank yous over with as fast as we can. But we kiss each other again when our friends raise their glasses and Riley chuckles at my flushed face.
"You're so cute when you blush, Mr Biers-Clearwater," he murmurs against my cheek before pulling back to a respectable distance.
Nobody else makes any speeches; we don't see the need for funny anecdotes about our childhood, or embarrassing stories about our teenage years. Our focus is on the future and we just want to get on with the celebrations so that we can finally leave and be alone together at last. I'm exhausted by the intense emotions of the day and I know that Riley is feeling the same.
There are copious amounts of food and drink for the humans and the ever-hungry wolves, and Riley and the Cullens do a great job of pretending to partake. After the food there's dancing, and I'm glad for the opportunity to pull Riley close to me even though I feel self-conscious when we're the first couple to take to the dance floor. The others follow quickly though, and we relax in each other's arms once we're lost in a sea of bodies. We sway gently in time to the music, my hands on his waist and our cheeks pressed together as his hands slip into my hair. I breathe in his sweet scent and wish that I could take him to bed and peel his clothes off and find the skin beneath. Soon.
Later there's cake cutting, and cake eating, and I catch Riley's eye across the room as we're both caught up talking with people. He gestures with his head towards the door and raises his eyebrows questioningly. I nod and excuse myself from my conversation.
We go together to find Alice, the mistress of ceremonies, and she mock-glares as she sees us approaching.
"Already?" she shakes her head. "Very well, you lasted longer than I thought you might actually. Come along then, your carriage awaits."
We're driving up into the mountains for our honeymoon. We're not going far, just to a cabin a couple of hours away, somewhere we can be alone together and enjoy some peace and quiet after all the fuss of the wedding.
Alice organizes everyone with impressive speed, getting them out onto the driveway. Riley and I wait.
"So where's the car?" I ask him.
Neither of us owns our own car yet and Edward is lending us his Volvo while we're away.
Riley shrugs. "Who knows?"
I see Alice murmur something to Edward and he goes off in the direction of the garage. The sound of an engine draws everybody's attention and then the laughter starts.
My jaw drops as the Volvo pulls out of the garage and into the driveway.
Alice has surpassed herself; I wondered where she'd sneaked off to while everyone was eating. Edward's normally sedate silver Volvo has been liberally sprayed with rainbow stripes of paint and glitter. Silver balloons are tied onto every part that they could be, and the back window is plastered with the words 'JUST MARRIED' in bright pink paint. I'm laughing so hard that Riley has to hold me up.
Edward shoots Alice a death-glare as he gets out of the car. "If this doesn't wash off, you owe me a car," he huffs.
And finally it's time.
With a flurry of hugs and kisses and happy-tears we say our goodbyes.
"Thank you for everything, Alice," I say as I squeeze her. "Oh... and you did put our luggage in the trunk didn't you?"
"You're welcome, Seth. And of course I did," she grins. "Not that you boys are going to need much in the way of clothing, anyway, I imagine."
"Alice!" I scold - although I hope that she's right of course.
We extract ourselves from our well-wishers and climb into the glittery, multi-colored Volvo. I'm driving and we wind down the windows, waving to everyone as I pull away.
I look in the rear-view mirror at the sight of our families and friends watching us go. Vampires, human and shape-shifters all with smiles on their faces. It makes my lips curve upwards too. Then Riley's hand finds my knee and my smile gets even wider.
"Do you ever wonder whether we would have ended up together if we were both still human?" he asks.
"Sometimes," I reply, because it's true. "But then I think that it doesn't really matter. Because this is what our life is now, and I wouldn't change it."
His fingers squeeze my knee, a casual gesture of affection that says so much. I reach down to take his hand, and I lace our fingers together as I look forward at the road that stretches out ahead of us.
A/N: *sniffles* I can't believe it's over! I promised you a happy ending so I hope you like how things have worked out.
Please review and let me know what you thought if you made it to the end, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
I'm marking this as complete but may add outtakes at some point. I don't actually have any firm plans yet – so feel free to make suggestions in a review if there's something in particular you'd like to see in an outtake.