a post-proposal, shorter (for me anyway) oneshot :)
contains hints of spoilers, but mostly spec. this will probably be all void when the ep airs so i figured i'd publish this while i could :)
dedicated to the lovely miss mary gael as always
love, love, love, all through our bodies
She can't breathe.
He's looking up at her expectantly, a nervous smile still on his lips, the ring out, reflecting the dim lighting of the auditorium, and she can't breathe.
"Rach?" His voice is hesitant, yet it somehow manages to sound unnaturally loud, her blood pounding in her ears.
"I – I…"
She sees his smile falter, and her heart clenches. "Finn," she says quietly. "This is – this is a huge decision."
His eyes don't leave hers, and his tongue darts out to wet his lips.
"I – I just need time."
His face falls, but he nods, standing up. She really just wants to reach over and hug him, but she's still so numb.
"Finn," she whispers, her hands trembling as she grips the edge of the stool.
"No, it's fine," he insists, giving her a small smile. He hesitates, then he clamps the box shut. "Really, just… take your time, okay?" He holds the little box out to her. "Just let me know when you… come to a decision."
She nods, her hands closing around the velvet box, her fingers still shaking.
She feels like she should say something else, but she can't. She hears his footsteps, and when she looks up, he's gone.
She looks down at the box in her hand, knowing what's contained inside.
She can't breathe.
She can't stop staring at it. She made the mistake of taking it out of the box, and now it's sitting on her left hand, and she can't stop staring.
She bites her lip. Finn really did a wonderful job picking it out. It's beautiful.
She turns her hand to the side, and the light catches the surface of the ring just right.
A soft gasp escapes her lips.
It's not like she's never thought about marrying Finn before. In fact, she's imagined it all many times: The dress, the flowers, his face as she's walking down the aisle. But, more importantly, she's imagined a life, everything she's ever dreamed, with him. She wants the house, and the cat, and, god, the kids. She just never thought she'd be considering any of this seriously until years down the road.
She bites her lip, glancing down at the ring once more.
Part of her just wants to say yes, but the more practical, responsible part knows she should say no. She loves him, she knows she does, and she wants to marry him someday, but she knows it's not probable to get engaged in high school.
But, then again, what's the point in waiting when it's going to happen anyway?
Her head is swimming, and she literally feels like she's being pulled in ten directions at once. She takes off the ring, putting it back in the box and clamping the lid shut, setting it down on her bedside table. She rolls over on her side, drawing the covers up around her and squeezing her eyes shut.
Her heart aches. She knows that, above all things, she loves him, loves him, loves him, but, even above all things, is love really enough?
She manages to avoid Finn all weekend, but it's harder to avoid him at school. She does her best (and for once she's glad that they have conflicting schedules), but she's able to keep her distance until she's at her locker, preparing to leave on Monday afternoon, when Finn comes up.
"It's been exactly three days to the minute since I proposed to you," he says, the words tumbling over each other, and she gulps, looking up at him.
"Finn," she whispers.
"Rach," he replies, his voice soft and his eyes earnest. "I – I gave you time, just like you asked. It's just – it's killin' me here."
She swallows. She knows it's not fair to him, not really. Her eyes meet his, and she knows what she has to say. "I've thought about it," she tells him, slowly, carefully, "and my answer, for now, is…" She looks around, and suddenly she realizes just how crowded the hallway is, and she needs to be sure, needs to know this is right.
"Rach?" Finn asks.
She grabs his arm, dragging him down the hallway to the empty choir room. She leads him inside, sitting him down at the piano bench. She bites her lip as she stands before him, her arms crossed.
"Rachel, just say something," Finn begs.
Rachel takes a deep breath. "Why did you ask me to marry you?"
"W – What?" he sputters.
"I just… I need to know."
He shifts on the bench, licking his lips, and his eyes meet hers. "Because I love you," he says, his voice shaking just slightly. "And because I want to spend to the rest of my life with you. I just – I guess I just want to make sure that it's really forever."
Her heart melts, and she reaches out to touch his face with his fingers, his skin smooth under her touch. "Of course it is," she murmurs.
"You made me realize that – that I already have something special, and that's us." He licks his lips again, his eyes darting nervously across her face. "Look, I know I was probably rushing things, and you'll say it's too soon, and, really, I don't blame you," he says, his eyes now cast downward. "If – if you're gonna say no, just tell me," he whispers.
"Actually," Rachel says, her thumb stroking his cheek, "I was going to say yes."
He looks up at her in disbelief. "You were?" he asks softly, as if he dares not believe it.
She nods, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. "I am," she corrects, and his grin is so bright and so wide, she swears she's never seen anything more beautiful. "On a few conditions," she adds, but he's already putting his hands on her waist and tugging her to him.
"Anything," he vows, taking her hand and pressing a kiss to her fingertips. "Anything you'd like."
"We wait," she says, "at least for a few years before we get married. Because we're still young, Finn," she adds hastily when she notices his expression, "and we shouldn't rush into this. I love you," she reminds him, her voice soft and sure, "and the last thing I want is for us to end up resenting each other because we pushed things too quickly."
"But you do want to marry me," he clarifies.
She grins. "I do, I really do."
"Then fine," he agrees. "We wait." He pauses, licking his lips before he adds, "As long as you're mine."
"Forever," she promises, and he kisses the inside of her wrist.
"Any other conditions?" he murmurs against her skin.
"Y – Yes," she manages to get out, her eyelids fluttering at his touch. "Just one more."
"And what's that?" he asks.
"We don't tell anyone, at least for now."
She sees him raise his eyebrows, but he nods. "Okay."
"Okay," he affirms. One hand closes around her wrist and the other hand presses against the back of her neck, pulling her down so he can press his lips to hers.
She smiles against his mouth, and she pulls away, whispering, "You're really okay with this?"
"Well, yeah, I mean… as long as I know, it doesn't really matter about anyone else."
She just smiles impossibly wider, looping her arms around his neck as she kisses him once more, her tongue sliding easily into his mouth, and her last thought is that she's officially engaged.
She doesn't think she's ever been this happy.
He tells her he wants to be the one to officially put the ring on her finger, so he goes home with her after school. Her dads aren't home yet, but they go up to her room and lock the door anyway, sitting on the edge of her bed.
She bites her lip as he reaches over and grabs the box from its spot on her bedside table, his lips twitching into a smile as he opens it, the ring already shining in the light of her bedroom.
She holds her breath as he plucks it out of the box, taking her hand, his fingers running over the back of it. "I love you," he whispers, sliding the ring into place on her slender finger, placing a kiss on top of it.
"I love you," she replies, holding her hand out so they can both just look at the ring sitting on her hand for a moment. Rachel glances up at Finn to see him grinning even wider, and she says suspiciously, "You like that, don't you?"
"So much," he breathes, and then he's kissing her, his mouth on hers, his tongue probing the inside of her mouth gently, his hands sliding up her sides. She lets out a little groan as he pushes her back against the mattress, moving to her neck and the exposed skin of her collar bone, nipping and sucking as he goes.
Rachel sits up slightly so she can begin to unzip her dress, and his hand quickly covers hers, getting rid of the material for her. It pools around her waist, and she quickly shimmies out of it, leaving her in just her bra and underwear. She looks at him with hooded eyes, tugging him down to her level by the collar of his shirt, her hands quickly moving to the hemline and hoisting it over his head.
He quickly undoes his jeans and shucks them off, then he's reaching into the drawer of her bedside table for a condom, and suddenly, just as he's preparing himself to push into her, it hits her that she's his fiancée now, that they have a bond even stronger than they had before.
Sure, she always knew that they were soul mates – tethered, to use the phrase Finn was fond of – but this just made it all the more real. She would literally be his for the rest of forever, and he would be hers.
She mashes her mouth against his as he slides into her, gasping against his lips as he begins to move. She whispers that she loves him, and he groans the words out in reply, and when she sees stars behind her eyelids, she sees something else: She sees Finn, standing at the end of an aisle, an indescribable look on his face.
And afterwards, when she's curled into his side and he's running his fingers through her hair, she presses a kiss against his shoulder, looking up to see the same look on his face, and it hits her. He's looking at her like she's the rest of his life.
Hiding their engagement is harder than Rachel thought it would be. She can't wear the ring at home because her dads would notice it straightaway. (They have an apt eye when it comes to jewelry.) She can't really wear it to school either, because, although her classmates are not the brightest, it probably wouldn't take much for them to put two and two together.
So she's taken to wearing it on a chain around her neck, just long enough that she can hide it under her shirt on most days. Finn grins the first time he notices it, leaning down to kiss her cheek, his fingers running over the cool metal chain, causing her to shiver.
"Very inventive," he mutters, kissing the top of her head, and she just smiles as she wraps his arm around her shoulder, intertwining their fingers as they head to the choir room.
She leans into Finn's side, giggling when he nuzzles her cheek with his nose, and Kurt shoots her a weird look as they sit down, his eyebrows nearly disappearing into his picture perfect hairline. She just ignores him, kissing Finn's cheek chastely, pulling his hand into her lap so she can draw random patterns on his skin.
She feels her phone vibrate in her pocket a few minutes later, and she waits until Mr. Schue is distracted before checking it. It's a text from Kurt.
Something's going on with you and Finn. Something fishy.
Her heart pounds and she sneaks a glance at Finn, who is looking at her curiously. Kurt can't possibly know; Finn said he wouldn't tell anyone, and she trusts him.
She quickly types out that she doesn't know what he's talking about, and within seconds, it seems, he sends her his reply.
Alright, if you say so, but girls' night at Mercedes' tomorrow! Just you, me, and her, like old times :) You in?
She responds that she'll be there, then she stashes her phone away, picking up Finn's hand once more. She reminds herself that Kurt can't possibly know, so she's worried for nothing.
She just doesn't know why she can't shake the worried feeling in the pit of her stomach.
The girls' night turns out to be an ambush. She should have known.
"Something's going on," Kurt insists, settling on Mercedes' bed, lips pursed, looking at her expectantly. "So spill."
She sighs, glancing between the two of them, Mercedes looking just as interested, her own eyes probing.
"Nothing's going on," Rachel says, trying to keep her tone light, although she doesn't lock eyes with either one of her friends. "Finn and I are in love, deeply so, but you knew that already, and I doubt you want to discuss it, so let's move on to Mercedes and her conflicting feelings—"
"No," Kurt says sharply. "Something's going on, Rachel. Something's changed between you two, and as your best friend and the stepbrother of your boyfriend, I demand to know what it is."
He's glaring fiercely at her, and Rachel sighs, knowing he'll be relentless until she tells him. She bites her lip, looking first at Kurt, then at Mercedes. "Okay," she says finally. "But you can't tell anyone."
"Oh my God, are you pregnant?" Mercedes asks with wide eyes.
"Wh – no! Every time Finn and I are intimate, we always make sure we take every precaution—"
Kurt covers his ears and begins singing "lalalala" loudly, and Rachel patiently waits for him to finish.
"Yours and Finn's disgusting practices aside," he laments after a few moments, "what is it that's so secret you can't even tell your two best friends?"
Rachel takes a deep breath, fiddling with the chain around her neck. "Finn sort of… asked me to marry him."
"He what?" Kurt shrieks, and Mercedes gasps, covering her mouth with her hand. "Please tell me you're kidding."
"Well, I'm not," Rachel says defensively, crossing her arms over her chest. She doesn't know why, but she's offended by Kurt's tone.
"You expect me to believe that Finn proposed to you without consulting me?" He scoffs.
"Well, we both agreed not to tell anyone," Rachel explains, "so it makes sense that he didn't consult you on the matter."
"Wait, you didn't say yes, did you?"
In response, she takes the chain out from under her shirt, the ring sparkling in the light.
"Ooh," Mercedes gasps, reaching out to take the ring between her fingers. "It's beautiful, Rach!"
"This is a terrible idea, Rachel," Kurt says, his mouth set in a hard line. "Absolutely terrible."
"Are you mad Finn didn't tell you beforehand?" Rachel asks as Mercedes continues to examine her ring. "Because, really, he didn't even tell his mom—"
"Rachel, you are way too young to get married," Kurt tells her seriously.
"Who are you to decide that?" Rachel asks. "I mean, I love Finn, and he loves me, and we know we're going to be together forever, as cliché as that sounds. And it's not like we're getting married next week or next month or even next year! We're going about this maturely, like responsible adults."
"The mature thing to do would be to wait," Kurt fires back. "You're rushing into things, Rachel, and I get that you and Finn love each other – I get that, I do. But you need to step back and evaluate what this means for the two of you, what this means for your future. What about New York? What if you're engaged but your fiancé is living in a different state? Don't you think that'll take its toll, Rachel?"
Rachel sits in stunned silence. Mercedes drops her necklace, also staring at Kurt in disbelief.
"Kurt," Mercedes says reprovingly.
"No!" Kurt insists, his voice shrill. "She's living in this fantasy world, she and Finn both, and they need to wake up and actually consider their life choices!"
There's a beat of awkward silence as Kurt stares at her with wild eyes, then she finds her voice. "Look," Rachel says, struggling to keep her voice calm. "I have thought about this. I thought about saying no. But I said yes because I believe that Finn and I can get through anything, that he's it for me, and there's no point in holding off the inevitable. I'm sorry you can't understand that."
She gets up then, grabbing her overnight bag, and she doesn't let herself cry until she's out of the room, shutting the door behind her.
She's crying again by the time she gets to Finn's house, texting him that she's outside, somehow managing to hit the right keys through her tears. She knows that Burt and Carole are gone again, but she doesn't get out of the car. She's crying too hard to see straight, and her hands won't stop shaking.
She sees the front door open and Finn comes outside, a concerned frown on his face. He opens her car door and she practically falls onto him, his arms quickly coming out to catch her as sobs wrack her entire body.
He mutters her name, pressing a light kiss against her hair, his strong arms lifting her out of the car. She loops her arms around his neck, her tears dampening his sweater as he shuts her car door and carries her inside.
He gently sets her down on the couch once they get into the living room, sitting down next to her and combing his fingers through her hair as she cries, the tears still falling down her face as she leans into his side.
After a few minutes, her sobs subside, and he whispers, "You wanna tell me why you're here instead of at Mercedes' house? And why you're so upset?"
She sniffs, wiping her nose on the back of her hand, looking up at him with bloodshot eyes. His gaze is concerned, and he runs a hand soothingly up and down her back.
"I t-told them, Finn."
"Told them what?" he asks slowly.
"A-About us b-being engaged."
His eyebrows knit together, but he doesn't say anything.
"K-Kurt basically t-told me we're m-making a mistake. He said that we're t-too young and we're j-jeopardizing our future." Her lower lip trembles.
Finn takes in a sharp breath. "And do you agree with him?"
"No!" Rachel insists without missing a beat, her eyes wide. "O-Of course not! D-Do you?"
"Rachel," Finn murmurs, his hand cupping her face, his thumb brushing away a few stray tears. "If I thought that, I wouldn't have asked you to marry me."
She gives him a watery smile, taking his hand and squeezing it. "K-Kurt just… he said so many things, things that I k-know so many other people are going to bring up when they find out."
"Like?" Finn prods.
"Like the fact that we might be in d-different states," Rachel sniffs. "I mean I'll be in New York and – and you'll be… wherever you want to go."
"I – I was going to wait to tell you but…" Finn trails off as he takes in a deep breath, squeezing Rachel's hand as he looks in her eyes. "I – I applied to some schools in New York. Nothing fancy, but… if you'll let me… I'd love to go to New York with you."
Her heart pounds and she grins, throwing her arms around his neck. He laughs, his hold tightening on her waist, and she wonders how he could've thought she wouldn't want this. "Of course I want you to come with me," she whispers, kissing the side of his neck. "I love you, Finn, and we're tethered forever, right?"
He's smiling as she pulls away, his gaze falling on the ring that's still around her neck. "Forever," he echoes.
"We'll be okay," she says, but she hesitates, looking up at him for confirmation.
"Of course we will," he says confidently, easily. "As long as I have you, and you have me, everything's going to be okay."
She nods, leaning into him again and interlacing his fingers with hers. He drops a kiss onto her hair, and they just sit like that for a few minutes, the sound of their steady breathing filling the room.
"Can I stay here tonight?" she asks quietly. "I mean… my dads think I'm still over at Mercedes' and… I really just want to be with you tonight."
He shoots her a crooked smile, the corner of his mouth turning up, and he tells her that of course she can, since Carole and Burt won't be back until the next day anyway. She reaches up to kiss him then, the kiss quickly escalating as her breath becomes his breath, as her hand finds a resting place directly over his heart.
"It's beating really hard," he whispers, and she smiles. She knows he remembers.
They make love by the fireplace just like the first time, and he's nothing but gentle and sweet, his hands soft and perfect against her skin, his lips pressed against every inch of her. She sighs into his mouth as he enters her, intertwining her fingers with his, and as he begins to thrust in and out, slowly and carefully, she looks up into his face, tracing it with the fingertips of her free hand.
He doesn't ask for the words, but she gives them anyway, and he smiles when he says them back, kissing the tip of her nose.
Her toes curl and her breath hitches as she comes, her back arched. He follows soon after, and she kisses his face, kisses the palms of his hands, kisses his collar bone, kisses any place she can reach.
They sleep on the floor in front of the fireplace that night, his arm firmly wrapped around her waist and his face buried in her hair. Rachel thinks that as long as she has Finn, as long as she has the promise that things can actually be this perfect, she can handle everything else.
She thinks they really will be okay, that everything will be okay.
Rachel avoids Kurt at school on Monday. Finn texted her after she left on Saturday to let her know that Kurt had confronted him, wondering why he hadn't been consulted in the proposal matter, basically telling Finn the same thing he told Rachel.
He threatened to tell Burt and Carole, but Finn managed to talk him out of it, and Rachel's grateful, but she still can't bear to talk to him, because his words hurt. She can't believe that's the way he actually feels.
She and Finn are serious. Why can't everyone else see that?
She still wears the chain around her neck, concealing her ring beneath her dress, but she really wants to start wearing it on her finger, to show Kurt and everyone that she's proud of her decision. Finn is her future, and that's good enough for her.
Kurt apparently does tell the rest of the club about their engagement, though, because they're both bombarded with questions as soon as they walk in the room for practice.
"Alright Berry, where's the bling?" Santana demands, hand on her hip.
Rachel hesitates, then pulls on the chain, showing her the ring.
Santana nods. "I would've personally liked something a little larger, but for you, it's perfect."
"You think so?" Rachel beams, squeezing Finn's hand.
Santana shrugs. "Not like Hudson could afford anything bigger than that anyway."
The rest of the club seems relatively unfazed by the news, and Rachel's grateful. She doesn't have to be judged in glee club, and it really is her safe haven.
Kurt, however, keeps shooting her looks when he thinks she can't see.
It hurts, that he can't see what everyone else can: That she and Finn are simply made for each other, and there's no use putting off the inevitable.
Quinn stops Rachel in the bathroom later that afternoon as she washes her hands, the soap falling in bubbles into the sink. Rachel sees her in the mirror, and she turns off the faucet, reaching for a paper towel. Quinn's expression is unreadable.
She was quiet in glee, so Rachel wonders what Quinn really thinks of the whole situation.
"I suppose you think that Finn and I are making a mistake as well," she says offhandedly.
"Actually," Quinn says. "I don't."
Rachel's actually surprised. "I – you don't?"
Quinn shakes her head, smiling slightly through closed lips. "I can't say I'm that surprised either."
Rachel just stands at the sink in stunned silence. She's not really sure what to make of this whole situation. She supposes she and Quinn are friends now, after the talk they had outside the principal's office not so long ago, but it's still strange. She did date Finn, after all.
"Do you know what Finn said to me when he broke up with me, Rachel?"
Mutely, Rachel shakes her head. Her heart pounds in her chest, and she's nervous, but she doesn't know why.
"It was at Sue's sister's funeral," Quinn begins, her voice soft but seemingly louder in the empty bathroom. "I got in his truck afterwards, and he was crying, and then he started talking about tethers."
Rachel's heard Finn theory that they're tethered before, but she didn't realize he'd told other people about it, even before he told her.
"He said that he could feel that with you," Quinn continues, "but he couldn't with me." She smiles slightly, the corner of her mouth turning up. "And that's when I knew… when I knew that you and him were really supposed to be together."
"And you were okay with that?" Rachel asks in disbelief.
Quinn laughs. "Oh God no. But I knew regardless, no matter how much I hated it, that for him, it would always be you."
Rachel feels herself blush, and she fingers the ring on the chain around her neck. "Y-You knew then?"
Quinn nods. "So I just want to offer my congratulations. I really am happy for both of you."
"So…" Rachel takes in a deep breath. "You don't think we're making a mistake?"
"No," Quinn says, her nose crinkling. "I mean, the only person who knows if you're ready for a decision like this is you. And Finn, of course. So if you think it's right, then who's to tell you otherwise?"
Rachel beams, and before Quinn can react, she flings her arms around her. Quinn doesn't really hug back, but she doesn't look angry when Rachel breaks away.
"Thank you," Rachel whispers.
Quinn just gives another nod, and with that, she leaves.
Rachel looks at herself in the mirror for a moment, smiling at her reflection. She reaches for the chain around her neck and slowly lifts it off her hand, removing the ring from it. She studies it for a moment, then she slides it onto her finger.
She glances back up at her reflection, and she can see the tears in her eyes.
Finn's still really screwed up about his dad. He doesn't say much about it, but Rachel can tell by the way his jaw clenches when he's around his mom, the way his hands tighten around his glass when they sit down to dinner.
It kills her that she doesn't know what to do to help him.
She just grabs his hand, smoothes her thumb over the back of his skin as soothingly as she can, and he shoots her a grateful smile.
"Finn, more green beans?" his mom asks, and then the muscle in Finn's jaw is tensing again as he shakes his head. She gives his hand a squeeze, reminding her that she's here, that everything's okay.
The muscle's still pulsating in his jaw, but he runs his thumb across her ring finger, and slowly, he smiles. She knows he's imagining the ring sitting there right now, knows he's imagining a time when she can wear it all the time, when they don't have to worry about the opinions of parents or peers or even friends.
Kurt shoots them a suspicious look as he stabs at his lasagna, but Rachel just blocks him out, concentrating on Finn's thumb, which is still rubbing the certain spot on her ring finger where his engagement ring was sitting hours before.
She likes that they know just how to comfort each other, know how to make everything okay.
That's why she thinks they'll make it. They can literally get through anything.
They decide to invite both sets of parents as well as Kurt and Blaine to dinner in order to break the news of their engagement on Valentine's Day, fittingly enough. They agree to have it at Rachel's house, and her dads offer to cook a vegan-friendly meal (since one of her dads – Hiram – is a vegan as well).
Rachel can tell that, even after all this time, her dads still intimidate Finn, and she's sure his nerves are even more abundant on this particular evening since he's about to tell them he plans on marrying their daughter.
"Don't worry," Rachel teases when he's helping her pick out a dress in her room – with the door open, as her fathers are home, "my dads don't own any shotguns as they don't advocate violence."
Finn just gulps, his Adam's apple bobbing nervously, and she knows she shouldn't have said anything, because now he's just even more worried.
"Hey," she says, her voice soft. "Look at me, Finn." He obliges his soft brown eyes meeting hers. "Everything's going to be okay. Okay?"
He nods. "Okay." He gives her a small smile as she raises her hand, cupping his cheek, her thumb running over his skin. She stands on her tiptoes to kiss the tip of his nose, then she backs away, turning once more to her closet.
She finally decides on a cream-colored dress covered in red hearts (very Valentine's Day-esque), and she has to practically force Finn to leave so she can get dressed.
("You just want to take my clothes off, Finn!"
"You can put them back on when we're done!")
She does manage to get him out of the room by reminding him their parents are downstairs, and she gets ready in practically record time.
Dinner goes relatively smoothly, her dads chatting sweetly with Burt and Carole, and her heartbeat hums in her chest. Maybe it'll all be okay. Maybe everything will go smoothly after all.
She catches Kurt's eye across the table, and he gives her a small smile, one that doesn't reach his eyes.
Regardless, she gives him a small smile back.
After the plates have been cleared, Finn clears his throat, standing up, wiping his sweaty hands on his khakis.
"Finn?" Carole asks, a look of concern on her face.
Rachel's own heart pounds in her chest. This is it.
"Rachel and I actually asked you all to be here because, uh, we have something we want to tell you," Finn says, his voice shaking slightly. Rachel grabs his hand, giving it a squeeze, and he smiles gratefully down at her.
"Rachel and I…" He clears his throat, and she stands up, gripping his arm, intertwining her fingers with his. "We're… we're engaged."
Both her dads and Finn's parents look completely shocked. No one moves. Hardly anyone breathes.
Finn squeezes her hand nervously. Her daddy's eyes go to her left hand, where the ring has been sitting all evening.
Finally, Burt breaks the silence. "This some kind of joke?"
"Wh – No," Finn says hastily.
"Rachel, you can't be serious," her daddy says, his gaze intense behind his glasses. "Please, tell me you're not serious."
Her mouth goes dry, but she just squeezes Finn's hand even more tightly, her lower lip trembling. "Well… Well, I am serious." She looks up at Finn, a smile tugging on the corner of his mouth. "We are serious. Finn asked me to marry him, and I said yes."
There's another pause, silence falling over the room, then Carole speaks up this time. "But you're so young. You have so much ahead of you – so much time. You don't need to be engaged to be together."
"No, we don't," Finn snaps, and Rachel can tell all the bad feelings he's had toward his mother are about to come to a boil. "And I know that Rachel and I will be together, but this is just showing our commitment to each other. I'm – I'm not saying we'll get married next month or even next year, but it's just… we're getting married someday. Rachel's going to New York, and I – I'm gonna do my best to go with her. I – I love her, and I want to be with her for the rest of my life. Inexplicably, she feels the same. I just hope you can all see that."
Burt just shakes his head, and both of Rachel's dads just continue to stare at them. "I think we'll need to ask you to leave now," her dad says, his expression unreadable as he stands up from the table. "We have a lot to discuss with our daughter. I'm sure you understand."
Carole stands, standing up as well, and Kurt and Blaine quickly file out of the room.
"Text me later if you can," Finn murmurs, pressing a kiss against her hair before he follows his parents out the door.
Rachel takes in a deep breath, then she turns to face her fathers.
Her daddy screams at her for fifteen minutes straight, wondering how she could be so naïve, how she could possibly even consider jeopardizing her future like this. She just stands still, clasping her hands and biting her tongue, because she knows speaking to him when he's like this will do her no good.
So she just waits for the yelling to stop, and eventually it does, followed by him leaving the room and slamming the door behind him.
Her dad remains, and, surprisingly, he's been calm the entire evening. He surveys her carefully, his expression seemingly blank. He takes in a deep breath, then he says, "You really love this boy, don't you?"
Rachel nods, biting her lip lightly. "Very much."
"And you really want to spend the rest of your life with him? You've thought about the impact it'll have on your future, you're aware of the challenges that will come your way?"
"Yes," she whispers. "Yes, I'm aware."
Her dad nods, looking pensive. "Did he get you a ring?"
She's shocked for a moment, but then she nods again, brandishing her left hand. He smiles, taking her hand, and his smile widens as he turns it, the ring sparkling on her finger. "Finn picked this out all on his own?"
She grins. "He did."
"Well, he did a great job."
Rachel ducks her head as he drops her hand, and she hesitates, then she asks, peeking up at him under her eyelashes, "You aren't mad, like Daddy?"
He shakes his head, and she launches herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Thank you," she whispers, and he squeezes her tightly to him.
"Your daddy will come around," her daddy murmurs against her hair. "He just doesn't want to imagine his little girl growing up so fast – frankly I don't either. But just give him a few days, and he'll come around."
"You think so?" Rachel asks, pulling away so she can look up at him.
"I know so," he promises, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "Now, why don't you go text Finn and let him know you're alive; I'm sure he'd love to hear from you."
She beams, pressing a chaste kiss to his cheek, and then she turns and bounces out of the room, a grin on her face. The grin fades when she passes her daddy's study, however, the door firmly shut. Her heart clenches, but then she remembers what her dad said. He'll come around.
She has to choose to believe that.
Within two periods, everyone in the school seems to know that she and Finn are engaged. She's wearing her ring for the first time in a public setting, and people keep craning their necks to get a look at her left hand, whispers following her down the hall.
She tries to block it all out, honestly. She shouldn't care about anyone's opinion on the matter besides Finn's.
She turns the corner to see him already standing by her locker, a smile appearing on his face once he sees her. She gives him a small smile, planting a kiss against his cheek before turning to open her locker.
"So how long are you grounded for?" she asks, her eyes still on the dial.
"Surprisingly, I'm not," he says, and he himself sounds shocked.
Rachel laughs. "Surprisingly, I'm not either. I mean, Daddy was really mad, but Dad was perfectly fine with it, really. He said that we're old enough to make this decision ourselves, that I'm not his little girl anymore."
She looks up to see Finn smiling. "So we're really doing this? This being engaged thing?"
She laughs again. "Only if you want to."
"I want to," he breathes, and then his lips are pressed against hers. She smiles against his lips, her fingers curling around his wrist, but the sound of a throat being cleared forces them to break apart.
Rachel turns around to see Kurt, watching them with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes?" she asks curtly.
"I – I just wanted to – to apologize. To both of you." He takes a deep breath, surveying them both with hesitant eyes. "I was just assuming I knew what was best for both of you – that you would be ruining your lives, even – but I realize now that… that this is the way it's supposed to be. Not a lot of high school couples make it, but the two of you… You've already defied the odds. So I'm sorry," he finishes, "and I can't wait to go to New York with the both of you.
Rachel glances up at Finn, who's nodding, and then she flings herself unexpectedly at Kurt, wrapping her arms around his neck. He stumbles, but he hugs her back. She feels Finn's arms wrap around both her and Kurt, somewhat awkwardly, but she feels content.
Everything's actually turning out splendidly.
"Okay, okay, people can see us," Kurt hisses, and Finn lets go, then Rachel does as well. Finn grabs her hand, and she links arms with Kurt, bumping his hip with hers lightly as the three of them make their way down the hallway.
She grins. Everything's turning out splendidly, indeed.
Her daddy knocks on her door, poking his head inside. "Can I come in?" he asks.
She nods, sitting up on her bed. Hesitantly, he sits beside her.
"Daddy?" she asks quietly after a few moments.
"I'm sorry," he says, his voice quiet. "I talked to your dad about this, and I've come to the decision that I was wrong."
Rachel just sits, silent, watching him carefully.
"I – I don't want to let my baby girl grow up, you know?" He laughs a little bit. "But it seems you already have, right in front of my eyes."
Rachel reaches over and grabs his hand, squeezing it a little bit. "I'll always be your little girl, Daddy."
He glances down at her hand on top of his, running the thumb of his other hand over the ring on her finger. "But you'll be Finn's now, too, and that idea – it scares me, Rachel. I haven't had to share you with someone who loves you as much as I do before."
"Daddy," she says quietly, her eyes filling with tears.
"Finn's a good boy, though. Well, man, I suppose. He'll take care of you." He nods, but she notices tears gathering in his own eyes.
"He will," she agrees, "but it's not like we're getting married tomorrow, Daddy. We're perfectly fine with having a long engagement. It's more of the promise of it all, the promise to always be together."
Her daddy nods again. "But one day I will be walking you down the aisle. And Finn will be waiting for you, looking at you like you're the rest of his life."
She nods, leaning her head against his shoulder. "One day. Except…"
"Except what, Princess?"
"Except Finn already looks at me like I'm the rest of his life," she murmurs.
"I know," her daddy says quietly. "That's why I decided to give you both my blessing."
She hardly dares to breathe. "Really?" she squeaks out, pulling away to beam at him.
"Really," he promises.
He laughs as she throws her arms around him, murmuring her thanks. "You're the best, Daddy," she promises, pressing her lips to his cheek, and he hugs her back. He's smiling when she pulls away.
"Vegan stir fry for supper?" she asks, standing up, holding out her hand so she can help him off the bed as well.
"Sure, Princess," her daddy replies. "And why don't you call Finn and see if he'd like to join us for dinner?"
Rachel beams, hugging him again, and then she scampers from her room to get her phone. She scrolls until she finds Fiance ;) and she quickly types out the invitation, telling him he can come over if he wants.
Her phone buzzes a few minutes later, and she smiles as she reads his reply.
Of course I'll be there for dinner, as long as you promise your dads don't actually own a shotgun.
She swears they don't, and he says he'll be over in ten minutes. She sighs, holding her phone briefly to her chest, glancing down at her ring, then she goes to help her dads in the kitchen.
It's a Saturday afternoon, and they're lying on her bed together, legs intertwined, her head on his chest. She rubs her fingers in small circles on his t-shirt, listening to his heartbeat, and he plays with the ring on her left hand. He tends to do that a lot lately, spin her ring around her finger, but she doesn't mind. It makes her feel at home, makes her feel loved. It reminds her that she really is his forever.
"When we get married," she begins, and she can already feel him smiling, "I've been thinking about what I want my last name to be."
He hums, wrapping his arms more tightly around her. "Yeah?"
"Yeah," she confirms. "At first I thought I should just keep it Berry for performing purposes, or even Berry-Hudson, but then I considered what I actually wanted, and I think… I think I just want to be Rachel Hudson."
She looks up at Finn to survey his reaction, and he's beaming, his eyes sparkling, softening the way they only seem to when he's looking at her. "You're sure? Because you don't have to, Rach, I understand—"
"I want to," she promises quietly, pressing her hand to his chest, just above his heart. It's thrumming, its beat strong beneath her palm.
He kisses her then, his fingers tangling in her hair, and he whispers that he loves her so much, that he always will love her, forever and always.
She smiles, her lips curling into his, her grip tight on his t-shirt.
"I love you, too," she whispers, sliding her hand under the fabric, her fingers slowly moving over his skin.
They take their time, because they have all the time in the world. They have the rest of forever.
thanks so much for reading, and if you'd be so kind as to review, i'd love you forever :)