A/N: SNAP! My first Rave fanfic! :D Okies, first off, this was by FAR the best manga I've EVER read. I read it all in like three or four days! I just couldn't put it down or stop reading, it was so good xD I could go on and on about why I love it so much, but this isn't why we're here. So all I knew is that I really really wanted to write a Rave fanfic, but I didn't have an idea for one. So I consulted my online friend Aria (a fellow Rave fan - we read it together), and she suggested a wedding/proposal! I was like HECK YES. So I got to work. x3 I would love to give a HUGE thank you to Aria. She's just the sweetest friend ever and was SUCH a big help with this story. She never stopped supporting me and telling me what I needed to hear. THANK YOU!
And I'd also love to give a big shoutout to my online friend Trey, who introduced me to Rave Master and got me reading it. ^_^ HE CHANGED MY LIFE. XD
So this is like the longest fanfic I've ever written, seriously, so if you don't like oober-long stories, click off right now. For those of you who are still sticking around, kudos! I hope I'm ok with characterization and that this wasn't too drawn out and boring :s Guess that's for you to decide.
Disclaimer: Let's be real here. I could never own something as awesome as Rave Master, and even if I did, this story would be utterly canon. Ok? Ok.
Read onward! 8D Hope you like it! I seriously slaved over this story o-o xD
It was as if the heavens had arranged the day perfectly to meet the occasion. It was as if the clouds had positioned themselves in perfect trajectory solely for their benefit, so that the sun was shining down in glorious rays down on the small chapel at Garage Island. The sky was a deep, beautiful cerulean blue, and had you asked anyone on that day, they would have said the sky was bluer than they'd ever seen it.
Anyone and everyone came to view the celebration that day, not only the islanders, but also friends and companions, from all across the world, to firsthand see for themselves the uniting of the two people who had saved the world, the Rave Master and Dancing Maiden. The large gathering were already taking their seats in the pews, which usually seemed like more than enough room for the regular faithful attendees on the small island, but now with so many visitors it was miraculous that all of them managed to even find a spot, whether it was to perch on the very end of the seat or drag in extra chairs, or to even stand in the corner. The church was filled with hushed voices and excited whispers, the warmth and sheer excitement at the fact that the second Rave Master, whom they'd thought dead for an entire year, was in fact back and entering matrimony, flooding the entire island with contentment and adding to the gorgeous day.
It was a stunning autumn morning, the scenery adding to the beauty of the day with scattered multicolored amber leaves. Haru and Elie had chosen September 9th as the wedding date, a day that'd gone down in history. It'd been the date of the birthdays and deaths of Gale Glory and Raregroove, it was the day Resha supposedly created the Rave Stones and went into hiding to become Elie, the day of the Overdrive, and also the day Endless was defeated. It was a perfect date, they'd both unanimously decided.
Only two people were partially exempt from the entirety of busy-ness and the last-minute stress of making sure everything was to proceed smoothly and perfectly, with only jittery anxiousness on their minds accompanied by, yet almost drowning out, euphoria. The in fact reason for the occasion, Haru and Elie soon-to-be Glory.
Neither of them could hardly believe this was happening. It'd seemed to pass by so fast, despite the fact that Haru had tried to wait it out until he asked for her hand in marriage. After all, Elie had lived a different life for the entire year he was presumed dead, and he didn't want to outright tear her from that familiarity. He felt like he had to back off and give her time to sort it out before taking her home to Garage Island like he'd promised. Not to mention several times in the week before the wedding Haru himself had been experiencing cold feet, wanting to back out because he felt like either he or Elie weren't ready for this type of commitment, nothing Musica couldn't at least partially punch out of his head. Or, if that wouldn't work (which once it hadn't), threaten him with the interference of he and Julia. (And they all knew how that'd turned out; in the party before the big battle, when Musica and Julia had teamed up and tried to get Haru and Elie to confess their feelings to each other. They made a good enough duo when they were drunk; one could only imagine the mischief they'd scheme when sober.) Haru might be be many things, but stupid was not one of them, and that threat alone was enough to make him follow through with the wedding.
Naturally, Musica was his best man; it only made sense, being one of Haru and Elie's first friends and the first one to team up with them, and meanwhile Cattleya was the maid of honor. (Elie and Cattleya had instantly taken to each other and gotten along like sisters; it almost scared Haru, the way they'd whisper to each other, look at him, then burst into giggles as if sharing some huge secret. He didn't want to know.) At the moment Haru was in a room sectioned off for the purpose of the groom getting ready, with only Musica, Shuda, Ruby, and Plue for company. (Griff was trying to sneak into the room where the bride and bridesmaids were dressing, to get a peek; old habits died hard.)
Ruby, now owning his own casino, had been more than happy to provide some finances for the wedding, which Haru and Elie had blalantly tried to refuse, but the penguin wouldn't have it. He was all for throwing a big, fancy wedding, because naturally that was what he was used to, growing up rich and all. But they had to remind him that Garage Island was a quaint and small island, so a big shebang wasn't necessary. Haru and Elie preferred it to be a relatively small, comfortable celebration, nothing too gaudy. (Ruby wasn't bothered by this; he and Lazenby were more disappointed with the fact that they couldn't help pick out the wedding gown, which Elie had made it clear she'd be taking Belnika, Cattleya, and Julia dress-shopping with her to help her decide on.)
Haru was fumbling with the tie on his white tux (the color scheme they'd chosen was black and white; he and Elie would be the only ones wearing white in the midst of everyone else adorned in black), but he was not only frustrated with the tie's incapability to come together right, but also with the perpetual shaking of his hands. Snap! I can't go out there all shaken up like this! Be a man, Haru!
Shuda noticed his predicament and wordlessly turned Haru around to fix his tie for him with only the small smirk true to his nature. Haru rolled his eyes, hating to look incompetent, but was inwardly grateful for the help. It was all he could do to stand without his knees knocking together.
Musica snickered a bit. "You're just white all over," he remarked, taking note of Haru's silver spikes and pale, apprehensive face in addition to the snow-white tuxedo.
"Puuun," Plue added between licks of his lollipop. Even he was dressed for the occasion, in a small black tux that had been made for an infant.
"Don't poke fun, poyo! Anyone would be nervous at a time like this, poyo!" Ruby exclaimed, quick to defend.
Before anyone could respond, Griff bounced back into the room, hearts in his eyes. "I got a peek of Miss Elie before they kicked me out!" he announced, clearly starstruck.
Haru was knelt down to Griff's height in a split second, eyes wide and eager to know. "Did you see the dress? Has she put it on? How'd she look?" The questions all tumbled out almost too quickly to keep up with.
"I saw her putting on the dress!" Griff nodded proudly with a dreamy sigh. "Miss Elie is so beautiful. I've never before seen her so radiant!"
That was all Haru needed to hear. Whether it was his natural speed or sheer excitement driving him, he was climbing out the window before you could say 'Oh snap!'
"Poyo!" Ruby shrieked in distress, waddling toward the window frantically. "Haru, stop! You'll dirty your perfectly white tux, poyo!"
"What the deuce, Haru?" Musica rolled his dark eyes, pulling Haru back in. "Hey, hey, I know you're nervous and you've got the pre-marital jitters. But how many times do we have to go over this?" he growled in frustration as Haru struggled. "You are not leaving Elie at the altar!"
"No! It's not like that. I just wanna get a peek of Elie in her wedding dress!" Haru whined, shoving Musica away.
Musica blinked, then a smirk slowly graced his features. "Oh." He flashed his best friend a thumbs-up, backing away. "In that case, go for it."
Ruby's eyes were wide in shock. "NO! Poyo! The groom isn't supposed to see the bride in her dress before the ceremony, poyo! It's tradition, poyo!" But his words went unheeded as Haru perched on the windowsill and slipped out. Musica chuckled to himself, smirking, as Shuda rolled his eyes and Griff swooned.
Leave it to Haru.
Haru swung a careful gaze around as he crouched down, peering around the corner of the church. Good. Coast's clear.. He snuck around the building, discreetly peering into each window to see which room the girls would be in.
Then, he heard them before he saw them. Giggles and feminine exclamations wafted into the air through a slightly cracked-open window. For once Haru was grateful for the noise and havoc only girls could wreak, tiptoeing quietly toward it and crouching under the window, listening in. When he was certain none of them were too close to the window, he dared a peek, eyes inching above the windowsill.
His purple eyes widened, a warmth seeping into his cheeks.
God, Elie was gorgeous.
Elie was in front of the mirror as the girls bustled around her, applying makeup, fixing her hair, and helping her into the dress, a beautiful white, sleeveless, trailing dress that swished the ground she walked on, adorned with laces and designs of roses on the threading all over. But it was none of these things Haru really took note of. It was her glowing, adorably flushed countenance, her dancing brown eyes, filled with a warmth that touched something deep inside him. Try as he might, he couldn't tear his gaze away, couldn't stop staring.
"I swear the dress looks better on you now than it did the day you tried it on," Cattleya proclaimed with a big jubilant smile as she secured the bow in the back.
Belnika, being good with hair like she was, was intricately pinning up Elie's shoulder-length brown tresses and carefully sliding on a floral headband at the top of her head. "You look beautiful, Elie," she said earnestly, smiling at the bride's nervous, glowing face in the mirror.
"Thank you," Elie smiled back, then laughed a little with a note of shakiness. "Look, my hands are even shaking." She shook her head, only slightly, then stopped as Belnika's hands froze above her hair. "Sorry."
"No problem," Belnika giggled, doing the finishing touches on Elie's hair. "It's perfectly normal to feel nervous at a time like this."
Julia snickered a bit, watching from afar. "She's just scared about the wedding night," she smirked, shaking her head a bit. "That's cute. You're such a little virgin, Elie."
Haru snapped out of his reverie, the warmth across his cheeks from earlier turning into a fiery hot, consuming redness that crawled down his neck and made him feel stuffy inside his tuxedo. His eyes grew wide as saucers.
Haru could sense a major girl talk coming up. He knew he should probably be on his way about now, but...
.. Against his better judgment, he stayed right where he was.
Elie's entire face bloomed beet red. She embarrassedly opened her mouth, closed it, opened it again, then hung her head in defeat. Belnika shot Julia a Look, and Cattleya covered her mouth to hide a smile, patting Elie's shoulder with her free hand. "It's really nothing to be scared about once you get your first time over and done with, Elie," her about-to-be sister-in-law supplied kindly. "It gets a lot better after that."
Julia really did laugh then. "Well, duh! If it didn't, nobody would do it!"
Elie was still crimson-faced, squirming uncomfortably. Belnika narrowed her eyes. "You're not helping," she mouthed at Julia with a sharp frown.
Hearing everyone tease Elie, Haru could handle. But hearing his own sister giving her advice on..on... on that, it was unsettling. Unnerving to think that she'd actually.. she'd actually...
Haru fell over on his back, quietly flailing.
Julia grinned at the dark-haired Glory. "Say, Cattleya... have you ever given Haru the talk..?"
Haru stopped cold.
Cattleya tried to suppress laughter, but a few muffled giggles came out anyway. "Well, yeah.. kinda had to. Who else would do it, you know?"
Elie lifted a palm to her forehead. "Oh, god.. subject change, please? For the bride?" The pleading in her voice was almost heartbreaking, in a pathetically funny way.
Haru breathed a quiet sigh of relief, inwardly thanking his imminent wife. He was spared further ridicule and embarrassment. I love that girl..
"I'm all for it," Belnika said, a certain authorative sharpness in her voice directed to Cattleya and Julia, especially.
The girls complied, dropping the subject, but continued to share slightly grinning glances.
Belnika rolled her eyes and turned back to an even more nervous Elie, fiddling with the pattern on her dress, as if she needed something to occupy her hands with in order to avoid strangling someone. Belnika softened her voice, her smile matching the sincerity in her tone. "You never did tell me how Haru proposed to you, did you?"
Haru grimaced, overhearing. If it's not one humiliation, it's another.. He wasn't exactly proud of his proposal. He'd never really been known for being a master at romance.. obviously. He always managed to somehow screw it up with the awkwardness that came to him way too naturally for his liking.
But a new light filled Elie's entire face as she brightened. "Really? I haven't?" She dared a glance at the clock. "I guess I have a little time to spare." She turned around, positively beaming. The bridesmaids flocked close, even though Cattleya had heard the story countless times.
Haru inwardly groaned. Hopefully it wouldn't sound as embarrassing in Elie's words as he felt like it was. He dared another look over the windowsill, mesmirized by the merriment in his bride's facade.
"Well.. it all started when apparently Haru asked Musica for advice.."
Belnika instantly groaned. "Oh, dear.. Musica may be a ladies' man, but he is certainly not the go-to about girls." Julia smirked slyly, seeing another couple in the making.
Elie was giggling now as she wholeheartedly launched into the story. "It went a little like this.."
A few months after Haru had taken Elie home to live with him and Cattleya on Garage Island, Musica came in for a visit. Haru was antsy, about ready to burst with the things swimming in his mind that he'd needed to share with his best friend lately, things that could only be discussed between men, that had been accumulating over the course of Elie's time spent with him. But he had to wait for a moment when it was just he and Musica alone. It was surprisingly scarce; Elie had been overjoyed to see Musica and was almost constantly with Haru and him. "Like old times," she'd beamed once, and it was all Haru could do to keep his smile in tact.
Finally, and Haru had never before been so grateful for his perceptive sister, Cattleya had sensed Haru's crisis and taken Elie out one day for "some girl time".
Haru couldn't wait any longer. He practically dragged the forever-sleeping Musica out of bed. "Hey, hey, what the deuce?" his dark-haired companion snapped, cracking an eye open in irritation. "Where's the fire?"
"I want to pop the question to Elie!" The words were out before Haru could even comprehend it, and he finally felt relieved to have it off his chest.
Musica's eyes both flashed open and he was on his feet in an instant. "Well, why didn't you just say so, man? What's the hold-up?"
Haru let his gaze drop down, almost ashamed to share that, "I don't.. eh.. know how, exactly.." He rubbed his head sheepishly. "I was thinking... you could help me with that. Being good with girls and all.."
A big grin stretched across Musica's face, and he slipped an arm around Haru's shoulders supportively. "You came to the right guy."
Taking a break from the casino and leaving his best employee, Julia, in charge of everything like only Ruby would do (a scary thought indeed), the penguin accompanied Lazenby for a visit to Garage Island.
One night when Ruby was contemplating opening a casino in Garage Island to add to his stream of casinos worldwide, Lazenby tore through the door of their hotel room, instantly throwing up Bony onto the rug. The starfish cheered as he landed with a splash. "Freedom!"
Ruby was appalled and distressed. "Again, poyo? Will you leave that poor starfish alone, poyo?"
"You'll never guess what I just overheard!" Lazenby breathed, words spilling out almost too fast to be cohensible. "Haru's going to propose to Miss Elie!"
Ruby's beak dropped to the floor. "WHAT?" he squeaked.
"Yes! I heard Musica and Haru talking about it!"
He hopped up. "Oh, this is wonderful news, poyo! How exciting, poyo!" He danced around the room as Lazenby sobbed at the loss of his love.
The next day, the group was going to reunite and have lunch together. Elie arrived early at the cafe, waving at Genma, noticing Ruby on a barstool. "Ruby! Hey there!" she greeted brightly, running over and scooping him up in a quick hug.
"Poyo! Elie! Hello!" Ruby squealed in surprise, eyes wide as he stared at her.
Elie set him back down, then frowned curiously, tilting her head in such an adorable way that only she could unintentionally pull off. "Ruby? What's wrong? You seem kinda.."
Ruby interrupted her before she could finish, flapping his wings around frantically. "I don't know any secret, poyo! I'm not hiding anything, poyo! I most certainly don't know about Haru planning to propose, poyo! I won't tell you that Lazenby overheard Haru asking Musica how to propose to you, poyo!" He clamped his wings over his beak, practically shaking as he realized what he let slip.
Elie's jaw dropped, staring at him with wide, aghast brown eyes, a bright redness gradually creeping across her face, stunned into silence for several moments.
When she regained her voice, it was highpitched and squeaky.
All through lunch that day, Elie was out of it, edgy and twitchy, merely pushing the food around on her plate and stealing glances at Haru but avoiding his eyes. It didn't take long for him to notice this.
Haru leaned forward with a frown. "Elie? Can I ask you something..?"
Elie froze. Oh god, oh god, this has gotta be it! Everyone's around.. oh god, he's gonna do it! He's gonna propose! Oh god! Smile, Elie, stay calm! Oh my god! She glanced up with wide eyes, hands practically shaking. She didn't take her own advice very well; she was staring at him expectantly, muscles clenched, her face red. She very slowly, slightly nodded.
"Are you ok? You look like you don't feel well.. want me to walk you home?" Haru asked kindly, his concern for her obvious.
Elie released the breath she'd been holding. .. I'm such an idiot..
Over the next few days Elie relaxed a bit but still stayed on edge, fighting between sheer joy and fear at the prospect of Haru popping the big question to her.
"Elie's been acting weird," Haru shared with Nakajima one day, sighing as he ran his hand through his disarrayed silver spikes.
"Then perhaps it's finally time for you to ask for her hand in marriage," Nakajima suggested, obviously having overheard Musica and Haru that one day; he was part of the house, after all.
A thoughtful look crossed Haru's face, and he stared into the distance. "Maybe.." He contemplated Elie's weird mannerisms and behavior as of late. Maybe he didn't have much time left to ask her to join him in matrimony.
Nakajima got his familiar nostalgic storytelling voice. "Want to hear a story about my first love? When I worked up the courage to propose to her, I.."
"Maybe later," Haru mumbled distractedly, getting up and going into the house in search of his elder sister.
Nakajima hung his head, tears falling. "Nobody ever wants to hear my stories!"
At the stove, Cattleya turned around, expecting Haru, as she'd heard he and Nakajima talking outside. "Are you ready for this?" she smiled kindly. Haru couldn't summon the voice to speak, so he gave a feeble nod in response. She turned to check on whatever she was cooking, speaking to her brother over her shoulder. "Did you pick out a ring?"
"Yeah. Musica made me one." Musica was becoming an expert blacksmith with his unique silver abilities, taking on the role of his grandfather's apprentice. He'd designed a sterling silver band with a simple, yet elegantly beautiful diamond on it. Haru knew Elie didn't like anything extravagant; she was more for the simpler things. (And, well, you know, plus it'd been the only thing within his budget.)
Cattleya put the lid over the steaming pot. "May I see it?"
Haru nodded, leaving the room to fetch the small black box. He shortly returned and opened it, showing her proudly. "It's.. ok, right?" He in no way doubted Musica's extravagant abilities, but women were fickle.
Cattleya nodded, gazing at it with sparkling dark eyes. "It's beautiful." She lifted her face and smiled at him. "Did you get the wedding ring, too? Or are you going to wait and get that later?"
Haru's face twisted in confusion. Was she talking crazy? ".. Uh. This is the wedding ring. You just looked at it.."
A frown touched Cattleya's pretty features. "Oh. I thought it was the engagement ring."
Haru looked even more bewildered. "What? Isn't that the same thing?" Cattleya stared at him, then put a hand over her mouth, beginning to laugh. He frowned defensively, confused and curious. "What? What's so funny?" he demanded.
"..I should've known... haha, boys!" she breathed between laughter. Cattleya straightened, her laughter decreasing to an occasional chuckle and a grin. "Haru, an engagement ring is what your fiancee wears the time she's engaged. A wedding ring is what you give to her at the wedding."
Haru's eyes widened, completely floored. "What? There's two rings?" He raked his hands through his messy hair in exasperation. "Oh snap!" It'd been all he could do to get one; how on earth was he going to buy another one? And why hadn't Musica told him? Wasn't he the one who was supposed to know all there was to know in the area of girls and this kind of junk?
Cattleya saw the stress reflecting in his eyes and touched his shoulder. "Hold on." She briefly left the room. Haru hardly noticed, too caught up in his own distressed musings. And then suddenly Cattleya was holding something out to him, a gold band, gleaming as if it was still new, but Haru could see a couple of scratches on it.
"This was Mom's wedding ring," Cattleya spoke quietly with a small sad smile. "When they sent her body home.. they let me have her ring." She looked down for a moment to regain her composure, then she placed it in his palm and closed his fingers over it, smiling. He stood still, staring at her with surprised, shimmering eyes. "I don't think Mom would want it any other way. Go propose to Elie, little brother."
Haru wordlessly hugged her, his arms tight around her. Cattleya smiled in surprise and hugged back, noting, not for the first time, that she had to look up at him now. He wasn't her 'little' brother anymore. He'd grown up on her. And she couldn't possibly be more proud of him. Mom..Dad.. do you see the hero your son has turned out to be?
"Thanks, Sis!" Haru grinned at her gratefully before tearing out of the house. Cattleya stood in the doorway, watching him until he was out of sight.
Good luck, Haru. Don't screw things up.
Haru visited his parents' graves often, and now he felt it only necessary to consult them before continuing with the one decision that would change the course of his entire life.
He made his way toward the cliff where two headstones were gleaming in the sunlight, illuminating the words engraved on them. "Gale Glory 0021-0061" and "Sakura Glory 0023-0056".
"Hey, Mom, Dad. I'm back," Haru spoke softly, kneeling before them. He raised his gaze to the sky, collecting his thoughts. "I'm gonna do it today. I'm gonna propose to Elie." Somehow speaking the words made it much more official and final. He smiled a little at his father's grave marker. "Remember when you kept teasing me about Elie being my girlfriend and I kept denying it? Heh.. fathers know best, I guess." He turned more serious, brow creasing. "I'm gonna make you proud, Dad. I'm gonna take care of Elie. I'm gonna work to raise money for our own house, and I'm gonna build it with my own two hands."
He was silent for a moment before turning to the right, toward his mother's gravestone. "I know I've said this before, Mom.." He suddenly had a lump in his throat. "But you'd love Elie. You really would. Cattleya took her in like the sister she'd never had." He got on his knees in the grass. "I'm gonna make you proud, too. I'm going to prove that you and Cattleya raised me to be a gentleman. I'll never do Elie wrong, I promise."
Haru rose to his feet, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. "I love you both." Then he took his leave, feeling like he accomplished what he'd set out to do. He'd asked permission from his parents, and he felt like he had their approval.
He walked with a wider gait, filled with a renewed vigor.
Haru and Musica had been over the plan at least a dozen times. They'd decided to just set an atmosphere of regularity so that when he proposed, Elie wouldn't be expecting it. And in order to do this, she had to be in her zone, the place she was most comfortable at. And, nine times out of ten, that was anything relating to her penchant for winning a gamble.
Musica had told Haru that he'd get Elie to play Poker with him and a couple of other guys or something, and Haru could slip the ring into the money placed in the middle of the table. Because Elie would inevitably win; never once had she lost, not that neither of them had seen.
When Haru slipped into Cafe Tsubomi, Elie was at a table, playing Poker with Musica, a laughing Genma, and Musica's right-hand man, Hebi, who'd come to Garage Island soon after his gang leader had.
"Nothing I admire more in a girl than smarts," Hebi smirked at the brunette. "Besides sexiness, of course. But you've got that down, too." Elie laughed a little, uncomfortably, obviously flattered but not knowing what to say in response. Haru bristled, everything within him wanting to tear the guy to shreds.
Musica rolled his dark eyes. "Let up, Hebi. The girl's taken."
"Has that ever stopped me before?"
Genma laughed even harder as he drew another card. "If you're smart, you wouldn't even bother, kid, considering her boyfriend's our very own Rave Master."
Hebi blinked, startled at this revelation, then brushed it off with a laugh that was borderline fake-sounding. "Him? Whatever. I don't care." He moved a little closer to Elie, who raised an eyebrow at him. Haru narrowed his eyes and came closer, still unnoticed by all. "I'd like to see what he does if I-"
Haru cleared his throat, approaching. "Go ahead. Here's your chance." His eyes were stormy, just daring him to try and make another move on his girl. Elie's face lit up in relief.
Genma burst into another round of guffaws. Musica hid his smirk behind his cards. "Don't say we didn't warn ya, bro."
Hebi took the hint and got as far away from Elie as he could, not caring at the moment about how weak he looked. Heck, with that freaking huge sword, Hebi wasn't about to take any chances. Haru pulled up a chair beside Elie and sat in it backwards. "I hope you know how stupid this was of you guys, challenging Elie to this kind of card game. She'll strip you of everything you're worth."
Elie laughed goodnaturedly. "It's just for fun, Haru. I'm showing them some pointers." She seemed relaxed, and not jittery and flighty like she'd been around him the past week, Haru noticed with truimphant relief.
Musica caught his eye and tilted his chin slightly in an inquisitive manner. Haru almost incomprehensibly nodded. Musica got the memo and waved Elie down. "Hey, El? I need you to go over this with me one more time.." As she leaned over, when she wasn't looking, Haru slipped a small black box out of his pocket and into the money pile, quietly arranging it underneath some coins and cash so it would be briefly camouflaged. Genma stopped laughing, staring at him in slack-jawed surprise. Hebi blinked. Haru held a finger to his lips to them, then quickly straightened as Elie finished explaining the difference to Musica about betting limits and splitting the pot between a high hand and a low hand.
Now it was Haru's turn to be fidgety and nervously impatient, waiting for the game to end. He wiped his sweaty palms on his pants, inwardly willing for them to hurry, for someone to purposely lose or something. The other half of him hoped the time would never come.
Finally, at the end of the last betting round, it was just Elie and Genma left. They revealed their previously hidden cards and evaluated their hands. Unsurprisingly, Elie won. She beamed. "You guys did really good! You came so close, Genma!" Haru took a second out of his inner distress to admire Elie's good sportmanship. She was never a sore winner. "Anyway, like I said, this was just for fun, like a practice round. So you can take your share of the money back."
Everyone exchanged glances before carefully taking their portions.. Musica and Hebi probably stretching the truth about how much exactly they'd withdrawn. Elie reached for her share, and as she scooped up a couple of bills, the small black box came into view. "Huh?" She blinked, and Haru started sweating bullets. "I don't remember this being put in.. whose is this?" She picked it up.
You could've heard a pen drop. Genma, Musica, nor Hebi answered, just gauging her reaction, carefully scrutinizing the scene. Haru swallowed. "It's yours, Elie," he said softly, almost inaudible.
Elie remained oblivious, frowning at the small box in her hand. "No, it's not. I know I have a penchant for losing my memory sometimes," here she gave a small grin at him, "but this I'm pretty sure I'd remember.." She opened it and fell silent, staring with wide, unregistering brown eyes at the gold band placed in it. "Wha-" She looked to Haru questioningly, only to find him down on one knee beside her chair, and she choked off, her heartrate kicking into high gear. "Oh... oh..! Oh..my..." Now she was no Belnika, but she felt pretty close to fainting right about now. It was like the breath had been clear knocked out of her.
Haru wordlessly removed the ring from its holder and gently took her left hand in his, sliding the band onto her ring finger. "Elie.. I'm not good with words..but.." he started, and he could kick himself for how much his voice was shaking. He took a deep breath and started over. "You're what I always fought for, Elie. Shiba told me...that in order to protect the world, I have to have one specific person that I cherish the most, that one person that I would do anything to ensure their safety... and only one person came first to mind, Elie, and that was you. The reason why I fought, why I kept on fighting even when I didn't want to, was because of you. And... that's why I'm glad it was you who had to destroy Endless with me inside it. I'm glad the roles weren't reversed. Because, honestly, Elie.. I'm so selfish that if it became between losing you or losing the world, there's no doubt in my mind what I would have chosen." He lifted his stark honest, genuine eyes to hers, holding her hand in both of his tightly, protectively. Her teary eyes never left his face. "And that's why you're stronger than me in heart, Elie. Over fifty years ago you made a sacrifice I don't think anyone else would have the heart to do - when you had everything going for you, you gave up your identity, you gave up everything, for everyone else. For the world. You're the real hero, Elie. Not the Rave Master." By now Elie wasn't the only one crying. "You're absolutely amazing in every way possible, and smart.. how else could you win at gambling every single time?" A small laugh rippled through the group. "And you're beautiful.. so beautiful, Elie, that it takes my breath away. You're sweet and funny... you've got it all. I don't deserve you... but if you'll have me.. will you make the happiest, most envied man on Earth? I can't imagine any other way I'd want to spend my life.. I want to live my days with you by my side." Elie was covering her mouth with her free hand, tears streaming down her positively glowing face. Haru smiled a little, quickly swiping at his own tearstains before reaching up to fondly brush her tears away. "Will you marry me?" he finished, his fingers lingering on her face.
When Elie found her voice, it was trembling. "You're not good with words?" was the first thing she choked out, making Musica and especially Genma laugh. "Oh, Haru... I love you too..so much.." she breathed, more tears beginning to fall. "I wouldn't want to spend the rest of my life any other way. Of course I will!" She laughed then, in disbelief. "Yes! Yes, I'll marry you!" she exclaimed with more fervor, the biggest smile stretching across her face.
By now everyone in the cafe had started to look over at the commotion, watching with big smiles.
Haru looked dazed as if unable to believe what he'd just heard, staring at Elie, a slow grin warming his eyes. "Y..You will...?" He laughed, beaming at a proud Musica. "Hear that? She said yes!" he laughed again, a sound of pure ecstasy. Elie shot out of her chair and got down on her knees too, sealing the thought by warmly encasing his lips with her own in a heartfelt kiss.
The group of bystanders viewing the scene launched into deafening applause, cheering loudly.
Musica smirked. "About time."
"Elie! Don't cry! You'll ruin your makeup!" Belnika cried out, but she was teary-eyed, too.
By now some of the wedding guests had crowded into the bridal room to hear the story: Rosa, Remi, Nagisa, and even Let. All of them had come in to inform Elie and her bridesmaids that the wedding was soon to commence, but had been sucked into the story and stayed to listen. Let had come the closest to being able to drag everyone out for the wedding, but a good kick to the face from Julia - and with her high heels, no less - had done the trick, as usual.
All the girls were sighing dreamily, gushing over how sweet and heartfelt it was. Cattleya handed Elie a tissue, beaming.
Haru meanwhile was still embarrassed about the whole thing - after all, it wasn't very manly to cry all over your girlfriend's shirt in the middle of a proposal, now was it?
"While we're telling stories, what about the lingerie shower?" Rosa smirked.
Julia grinned at her. "I like the way you think."
"Or even the bachelorette party," Nagisa offered.
Remi sighed, shaking her head with a roll of her eyes. "Way to ruin the moment. Let the bride at least dry her tears, will you?"
The bachelor and bachelorette party had been run by Musica and Julia, respectively. They were the perfect ones for the job. The parties had certainly been... nights to remember. Some stories weren't meant to be told, though. Sensing this, Let spoke up. "Ladies, I hate to rush you, but the crowd gathered out there have been waiting for the wedding to start for ten minutes."
Aw snap! That means I'm late, too! Haru inwardly panicked, backing away from the window only to bump into something sharp. "Wah!" he instinctively exclaimed in pain, spinning around to see Plue there in all his sharp-nosed glory. Everyone in Elie's room fell silent, turning shocked gazes to the window.
"Puuunn," Plue said innocently up at him. Haru facepalmed. Busted.
Meanwhile everyone in the room slowly turned to look at Elie. Her eyes were wide, face bright red. Then she puffed out her cheeks sullenly, a habit of hers whenever she sulked, and stormed to the window. "Haru Glory!" she barked, stopping Haru in his tracks as he was trying to dash away, Plue on his shoulder.
He spun around back to face her angry facade, rubbing his head sheepishly. ".. Nice day today, huh?" was all he could think to utter.
"Were you spying on me this whole time?" Elie snapped, leaning out the window to yell at him.
"Whaaat? No.. pft. Of course not.."
"How much did you hear?"
"Oh.. you know.. bits and pieces.."
Elie let out her breath, face softening. "You're a horrible liar, Haru."
Meanwhile Let was silently ushering everyone out of the room to give the bride and groom some privacy. Plus, not to mention the bridesmaids and bridesgrooms were supposed to be walking down the aisle by now.
Haru grinned widely, sheepishly shrugging his shoulders, making Plue fall off and to the ground. Neither of them noticed, too occupied with their significant other. "Guilty as charged. I was kinda raised not to lie.. Sis taught me that," he said, Elie in sync with him on the last four words. She started giggling as he grinned at her.
It was silent for a moment, then Elie spoke up. "Are you nervous?"
"I'd just look even more stupid if I lied about it, since apparently I'm bad at it, so.. yeah. A little nervous." He tugged at his tie. ".. Ok, a lot nervous."
Elie smiled at this. "I'd be worried if you weren't," she said softly. "Because I am, too."
Haru seemed to relax a bit, his rigid form easing. "Musica calls it the jitters, but I call it getting freaking married to the love of my life." This made Elie laugh, and his grin turned into a small intimate smile as he watched her. He loved her laugh.
"Well, freaking love of my life, we should probably go give the audience what they came for," Elie said, reluctant to leave her comfort zone, this personal time she had with Haru before they settled down together.
Haru nodded in agreement, coming closer to lean on the windowsill. "Before I leave, y'think the bride would mind if I stole a kiss?"
Elie leaned in closer, resting her forehead against his. "I would say not.. seeing as we've already broken tradition," she giggled before their lips met.
"Jeez, take long enough? What took you, man?" Musica hissed as Haru came back in through the window. Haru opened his mouth to answer, but Musica waved him off, checking over his white tux to see if he'd acquired any stains on it. "What're you waiting for? You're supposed to already be out there!" He shoved Haru out into the hallway, where the priest was waiting to be accompanied.
The music began to play, and using that as their cue, Haru and the minister entered through a side door to the altar, taking their places.
The first to walk up the aisle were Let and Julia, her hand placed in the crook of his arm. They parted ways at the altar, taking their appointed spots at the top step. Then came Shuda escorting Belnika, who looked as if she might faint from all the eyes on her. Last came the best man leading the maid of honor; Musica and Cattleya walked down the aisle together. Next came the ring bearer, none other than Niebel, with an exuberant grin as he delicately carried the rings down the aisle. After everyone was in place, as the crowd was looking back to see if the bride was next, Musica discreetly slipped out the side door, only to reappear moments later at the back entrance as he escorted Elie down the aisle. The crowd rose to their feet, all smiling to beat the band.
If Shiba, Sieghart, Kaim, or even her own father were still around, Elie would have wanted them to walk her down the aisle, but in this sense, it was only natural that Musica should be the one to do the honor. The entire year Elie had lost her memory again, he'd taken care of her, lived with her, partially raised her, to the extent she had even called him "Brother". Sometimes she even still did out of habit.
Despite the fact that Haru had seen his bride only minutes before, it was like seeing her for the first time all over again. He looked like the breath had been knocked out of him, absolutely in awe at the sight, it was like he was unaware of everything and everyone but Elie. His eyes shimmering, he gave a smile so tender that it made Elie warm all over.
As Musica led her to the front of the altar, he smiled and kissed her temple before taking his place beside Haru as the best man. Elie stood before Haru and the minister with her bouquet of flowers, beaming as if she'd won the lottery (which she had before).
The music came to a stop before the celebrant began to speak. "We are gathered here today in the face of this company, to join together Haru Glory and Elie in holy matrimony; which is an honorable and solemn estate and therefore is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently and soberly. Into this estate these two persons present come now to be joined. If any one can show just cause why they may not be lawfully joined together, let them speak now or forever hold their peace." Not one body objected. As the silence ensued, the minister spoke again. "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?"
Not for the first time, Elie wished her parents were still around to be present for this perfect day, to see how happy she was and to be able to meet the love of her life. Musica spoke up. "The Rave Warriors. We all do." Everyone else nodded, voicing their consent.
The minister smiled at this and continued with the ceremony, turning towards Haru. "Haru, do you take Elie for your lawful wedded wife, to live in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love, honor, comfort, and cherish her from this day forward, forsaking all others, keeping only unto her for as long as you both shall live?"
Haru never took his eyes off Elie. "I do."
"And Elie, do you take Haru for your lawful wedded husband, to live in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love, honor, comfort, and cherish him from this day forward, forsaking all others, keeping only unto him for as long as you both shall live?"
"I do!" Elie practically squealed, causing a collective chuckle.
The celebrant nodded. "If you have any personal vows to each other, let them be spoken now."
Elie went first, the warmth and merriment in her countenance sparkling in her big eyes. She took a deep breath, her voice evident of her love for Haru as she spoke soft in tone but loud enough for all the guests to hear. "I vow to help you love life, to always hold you with tenderness, and to have the patience that love demands." She swallowed, collecting her thoughts and struggling to put them into words for a moment. "To speak when words are needed...and to share the silence when they're not. To agree or disagree on red velvet cake," there was a little laughter in her voice, and Haru grinned at this. A laugh rustled through the crowd. Then her voice softened as her words went from her heart to his. ".. And to live within the warmth of your heart and always call it home," Elie finished.
Haru was a little choked up when his turn came. "I.. vow to love you," he swore with meaning. "I promise to never forget..that this is a once in a lifetime love."
There was not a single dry eye in the entire room.
The priest dabbed at the corners of his eyes before addressing Haru and telling him to repeat his words. "I, Haru Glory."
"I, Haru Glory."
"I'm sure the key to your memory is out there somewhere, just waiting to be found... it might be small and hard to find..but it's the key to a very important doorway, so I'm sure we'll find it."
"Take thee, Elie."
"Take thee, Elie."
"I..I wanna protect Elie. That's my reason to fight! That's one feeling that I won't lose to anyone! I'm fighting for Elie!"
"To be my wedded wife."
"To be my wedded wife."
"When I met you, I made some new memories."
"To have and to hold from this day forward."
"To have and to hold from this day forward."
"I know I've been nothing but a bother for you.. I've never helped you out...but you've always come to MY rescue, right? Can't I do something to save YOU now?"
"For better or for worse."
"For better or for worse.."
"Look, I can understand how you feel, knowing that you are unwilling to see any more sacrifices... but, you should never leave me alone! I will fight by your side!"
"For richer for poorer."
"For richer for poorer.."
"A world without Haru.. I don't want it.."
"In sickness and health."
"In sickness and health.."
"I thought I was going to die..but when I heard your last words... all I could think was how bad I wanted to live."
"To love, honor, and cherish 'til death do us part."
"To love, honor, and cherish 'til death do us part."
"We met in this world.. if the world ends, then our meeting would vanish too.. everything we shared along the journey, bit by bit...are you willing to sacrifice these memories? ..Let's protect the world together, Elie."
The celebrant had Elie repeat the same speech to Haru, neither of them even aware of saying the words, too caught up in each other and minds swirling with nostalgic memories. The priest then accepted the rings from Musica, who had taken them from Niebel. As Haru took Elie's ring, the priest said, "May this ring be blessed so he who gives it and she who wears it may abide in peace, and continue in love until life's end."
Haru delicately took Elie's left hand in his and slipped the shining diamond ring onto her ring finger. "With this ring I thee wed."
A smile played on Elie's full lips as she accepted Haru's ring from the minister. "May this ring be blessed so she who gives it and he who wears it may abide in peace, and continue in love until life's end," he said.
Elie placed the ring on Haru's finger. "With this ring I thee wed," her words rang out.
"I only have you in my mind at this moment...fate has let us two meet each other.."
The minister stepped back, smiling. "May this couple be prepared to continue to give, be able to forgive and experience more and more joy with each passing day, with each passing year. Haru and Elie are now beginning their married life together.."
"You're still the Elie I know. Nothing's changed.. I'll never stop calling you Elie, Elie."
"We hope that they may have loving assistance from their family, the constant support of friends, and a long life with good health and everlasting love.."
"You're silly, you never do anything right..you're selfish..you love gambling, and you're just a strange girl...but still..I..I love you for who you are, Elie."
"...In so much as Haru and Elie have consented to live forever together in wedlock.."
"After this war, do you want to come home with me?"
"...And have witnessed the same before this company.."
Life is like a journey.
"..having given and pledged their troth each to the other.."
Life's meaning will keep traveling..
"..and having declared same by the giving and receiving of a ring.."
Even though we may meet hardship on the way..
"...I now pronounce them man and wife."
But together, we will not be beaten by difficulties.
Now came the words they'd all been waiting for, "You may kiss the bride."
Hand to hand.. till eternity..
Haru wasted no time in taking Elie into his arms and giving her a kiss so sweet and lingering Belnika fainted on the spot. The entire room burst into deafening applause accompanied by equally as loud shouts.
This journey will never, ever end.
"I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Haru Glory!"
Everyone in and attending the wedding went outside for a quick group photo outside the church, and for just a split second, a passing moment in time, Haru and Elie could both feel their missed ones smiling down on them from above, their happy faces etched in the clouds. Gale and Sakura, Shiba, Sieg, Reina, Malakia, the Knights of the Blue Sky, Elie's parents, maybe even Branch and Lucia, their approval shining down from the heavens.
Then came the wedding reception, where Haru and Elie smashed cake in each other's faces until it accumulated into an all-out red velvet cake brawl. A tipsy Musica and Julia were quick to join in... whereas Cattleya was quick to regain order before things spiraled out of control. The self-proclaimed Queen of Karaoke began the dancing ceremony by singing a song directed to her brother and sister-in-law.
Then came the first dance, which started out a little awkwardly, due to Elie's expertise in dancing and Haru's...lack of it. But Haru and Elie had both always been quick to perfectly blend into each other's mannerisms and soon had it down, swaying together lovingly, gazing into each other's eyes.
Then a drunk Musica hit the dance floor and killed the mood with his less-than-impressive dancing. Elie and Haru stopped their own dance to watch, bursting into laughter. Then even Haru resorted to performing his traditional Garage Island dance, which had everyone in tears from laughing so hard.
Elie brought the moment back a few minutes later when Julius urged her to solo-dance as well. It didn't take much convincing due to her love for it, and she had the entire room silent with tearjerking, heartstrings-tugging awe as the Dancing Maiden twirled gracefully around the room. Haru's thoughts only consisted of how beautiful she was and how utterly, truly blessed he was to have a woman like her finally his, entranced, his eyes trained only on her swirling white form. Elie was almost like an alluring vapor, a phantom, in perfect synchronization with the melody of the music playing.
Afterwards, as Haru and Elie Glory were about to take their leave, came the traditional throwing of the bouquet. Belnika, Julia, Nagisa, Lasagna, Rose, Cattleya, Range, Sopra, Remi, Melodia, and other women from Garage Island attending all gathered together, lining up in front of the bride. Elie faced her back to them and shrieked with laughter as she gave her bouquet a good backwards heave. There was a mad scramble for it, and a few kicks to some faces from Julia, but Rosa was the one who emerged with the flowers, practically glowing. Go sweatdropped.
When Haru and Elie were hurrying out of the church toward the carriage their good ol' kangaroo-horse creature, Tanchimo, was leading, as everyone threw birdseed at them, the sign on the front of the chapel gleamed brighter than ever: Love, Heart, Friendship, Peace. It was almost a premonition of their life together, what was to come, and most of all, what they already had.
Haru and Elie waved to their guests until they were out of sight and the church was just a speck in the distance. "Elie Glory," Elie kept repeating to herself, grinning widely at the sound of it as she nestled up to Haru. "Elie Glory.. I like the sound of that! It even rhymes a little!"
Haru grinned too, her blissfulness contagious. "I could get used to it," he agreed, sliding an arm around his bride and pulling her close, where he whispered sweet nothings into her hair. He might have taken her for granted at one time, but now he had the rest of his life to cherish and love Elie, and he didn't intend for them to go to waste.
Despite everything they'd endured, the good outweighed the bad, and neither of them would ever take any of it back, because it'd led them to this.
No matter what the future held in store, their love, their bond, was strong enough to withstand anything. It'd survived the worst, been proven over and over again in times past, relied on each other's strength.
And no matter what challenges may carry them apart, they would always find a way back to each other. Because that's what love was, the root of it, in any form.
Here and now, in each other's arms, was their future.
"My love for you is a journey, starting at forever, and ending at never."
A/N: Whew! Finally got to the end, didja? :D For those of you who stuck it out and kept reading, thankies SO much! Chu get a cookie! 8D Feedback would be highly appreciated, I would love to see if anyone actually enjoyed this piece of work. Hope y'all liked it! =3 Oh, and I won't lie, some of the wedding lines I got from the movie The Vow. Looove that movie! I'm not naturally creative xD; Now review, my Ravies!