Chapter 24 – Here's Where the Story Ends
Rachel smiled nervously at her reflection. As nervous as she was, though, she was also just as excited. Senior prom only came once in a lifetime and she was determined to have a memorable one. And memorable for all the right reasons for once. She knew Quinn was waiting for her downstairs, but she wanted to make sure she was absolutely perfect before making her appearance.
Turning, she walked to the door and opened it with a smile; she was excited for Quinn to finally see her. She had refused to let Quinn see the dress, so she hoped her girlfriend liked it. Of course she had already seen Quinn's—she had to make sure their dresses were going to complement each other and not clash—but she was also excited to see her in the dress again, too. As she walked around the corner at the top of the stairs, her smile only grew.
She heard someone in the room gasp and she was fairly certain someone was talking, but her eyes were solely on Quinn. The blonde looked beautiful in her green dress and the sight nearly took Rachel's breath away. And judging by the look on her girlfriend's face, she certainly seemed to approve of Rachel's dress. For a moment, she forgot there was anyone else in the room, but then a flash nearly blinded her and she blinked rapidly, looking over at her fathers.
"Are you coming down?" Leroy asked with a laugh.
"Yes, sorry," Rachel said, ducking her head, and descending the stairs.
"Slowly," Hiram instructed. "And look up. And smile."
Rachel rolled her eyes before plastering on a smile and looking up. Hiram was taking pictures while Leroy was filming everything. Quinn's parents were standing just to the side of them; Judy looked as if she was about to cry while Russell just had a slight smile on his face. Quinn and Rachel had debated who would be the one to pick the other up, and it was ultimately decided that Quinn would be the one to do. As soon as they decided on it, Judy had insisted on going to the Berry house, not wanting to miss anything. Quinn complained, but Rachel knew if it had been reversed, her fathers would have wanted to do the exact same thing.
"You look beautiful," Quinn whispered to her as soon as she was in earshot.
"So do you," Rachel said with a smile. "Stunning, really."
"Here," Quinn said, looking down at the box in her hands.
She opened it up to reveal corsage; it was a lily with a light blue ribbon. Rachel's smile grew as the blonde slipped it on her wrist and then looked at Leroy, who grabbed the corsage she'd gotten Quinn, handing it to her. It was a gardenia with a ribbon that matched Quinn's dress.
"Okay, pictures!" Hiram said in excitement.
"Give them a moment, honey," Leroy said.
"It's okay," Rachel replied. "We'll take pictures now."
"The sooner we do, the quicker we can leave," Quinn mumbled to her.
"Those were my exact thoughts," Rachel whispered back.
"Okay, smile you two," Hiram instructed.
Rachel put on her best smile as she looked at the camera. As much as she wished they could just be at the dance, she would like to preserve these memories. It was the first time she was going to the dance with a real date and the first time she would really get to dance with Quinn at an event. Or at least without having to dance in the hallway, being interrupted, and spending the rest of the night crying because she was sure she'd lost her best friend forever.
"Quinn, wrap your arms around Rachel," Judy called out.
"Don't have to tell me twice," Quinn whispered into Rachel's ear, sending chills down Rachel's spine.
They continued to take pictures in various positions and in every imaginable location. By the time they got outside, Rachel was fairly certain she would be seeing spots for the rest of her life. She wondered how much longer they would be doing this; she told Sam they would meet him there, but they were far past the time she'd told him. She thought about sending him a message, but she knew that would just delay them further. So, she continued to smile for the cameras even though her cheeks were getting tired and she was half blind.
"How about in front of the—"
"Judy," Russell interrupted. "I think we have enough pictures. I'm sure the girls want to get to the dance."
Judy sighed. "I suppose you're right."
"I guess we have taken quite a few pictures," Hiram added. "Okay, girls, have fun."
"Be back by one," Leroy called out.
"We will," Rachel said as Quinn took her hand.
"I didn't think that was ever going to end," Quinn said as she led Rachel toward the limousine.
"Are you okay?" Quinn asked when they pulled to a stop in front of the school.
"Yes," Rachel answered. "I think so." She sighed. "I guess I'm a little nervous."
"We don't have to do this if you don't want to," Quinn said.
"No, I want to," Rachel said, shaking her head. "It's just a big step. One that I'm ready for, but it's still a little nerve-wracking at the same time."
"I know," Quinn said, squeezing her hand. "Do you want to go around the block a few times?"
"No," Rachel answered. "I'm ready."
She and Quinn had been together for nearly three months and she knew it was time to reveal their relationship to the rest of the school. Their fellow Glee members knew, but they had thankfully remained tight lipped about it. Even Finn and Puck had managed to keep it a secret, but Rachel figured it was because they were both a little afraid of Santana and didn't want to incur her wrath if they spilled the beans to everyone.
Quinn had been incredibly patient and understanding about everything until Rachel was finally ready to come out. They discussed doing it several weeks prior, but ultimately decided to simply show up at the dance together. Rachel just hoped everyone would be having too much fun to really focus on them. And it's not as if they would be the only same sex couple at the dance. Kurt and Blaine would be there and Brittany had assured Quinn that she and Santana would be there, too.
"Are you sure you're ready?" Quinn asked.
"Positive," Rachel said, giving Quinn a smile.
The blonde nodded and got out of the limo, walking around to Rachel's door. When she opened it, she offered Rachel her hand, which she gladly accepted. Once she was out of the vehicle, she didn't let go. Quinn looked at her, smiling softly, and Rachel nodded to the school, returning her girlfriend's smile. Quinn gave a slight nod as well and then the two began walking to the front entrance. Most of the McKinley High student body was already inside, but a few were lingering outside. She noticed several people looking at them curiously, but she tried to keep her eyes straight ahead. Tonight was about having fun and making memories; she refused to focus on what other people thought of them.
As they continued to the gym, out of the corner of her eye she could see more people looking at them, but she continued to ignore them. She assumed Quinn had also noticed when the blonde gave her hand a squeeze. She looked at her, giving Quinn a smile to let her know she was still okay. She wanted Quinn to have a good night, too, and she didn't want her girlfriend worrying about her.
When they finally walked through the open auditorium doors, it felt like all eyes turned to them. Thankfully, most people went back to whatever they were doing after only a few moments, but some people continued to stare. Rachel just squared her shoulders and flipped her hair back as if she didn't care. Truthfully, she cared a little, but she wasn't going to let them know that. She'd spent most of her high school career being bullied, so she wasn't going to let a few people staring at her get to her.
"Dude, there you are," Sam said, coming up to them with Mercedes. "Where've you been?"
"Our parents wanted pictures," Rachel answered.
"Lots of pictures," Quinn added.
"I've been there," Sam said with a laugh. "And we were just going as friends."
"Hey, guys," Blaine said as he walked up. "You two look amazing."
"Thank you," Rachel said, giving him a hug. "You look rather dashing yourself."
"Your entrance has caused quite a splash," Kurt commented. "It's all anyone over there can talk about."
"Let them talk," Rachel said with a shrug.
Rachel spotted Tina a little bit away dancing with Mike; smiling, she gave her a wave. She was happy that Tina and Mike had finally admitted their feelings for each other. It was quite sweet, really. Despite not being the best singer, Mike had put on a wonderful performance, which surprised everyone since no one had ever heard him sing, asking Tina to go on a date with him. Since then, they had been happily dating.
"Where are people voting for prom king and queen?" Rachel asked, suddenly remembering that she needed to do it before voting closed.
"In the corner," Blaine said, nodding to the other side of the room.
"I guess there's no question who you're voting for," Mercedes said with a laugh. "Well, don't tell Santana, but I voted for you, Quinn."
"I hope everyone does," Kurt commented. "Knowing her, she'll start calling us her subjects and make us bow every time we see her."
"What was that, Hummel?" Santana asked, appearing out of nowhere.
As Kurt sputtered out a lie, Rachel laughed and looked at Quinn before whispering, "Would you like to dance."
"Do you really need to ask?" Quinn asked back with a smile.
"Where's Quinn at?" Sam asked.
"She went to the restroom," Rachel answered.
"Think she'll care if you dance with me?" Sam asked with a smile.
"I would hope not," Rachel replied. "She knows I love her and that she has nothing to worry about."
Sam offered her his hand in an overly dramatic bow, which made Rachel laugh. Together, they walked to the dance floor. He nearly walked toward Brittany and Santana, but veered off at the last moment. Since her outburst in the choir room, Sam had been even more afraid of Santana than before. Rachel, on the other hand, no longer had to worry about the Cheerio; they were even almost friends now. Okay, maybe friends was too strong of a word; Santana tolerated her now. It was a good thing, too, because Rachel found herself having to interact with her more and more. Rachel still wasn't quite sure if Quinn and Santana were friends, but Brittany certainly was, and where Brittany was, Santana was.
"Are you having fun with Mercedes?" Rachel asked.
Sam shrugged, but then smiled. "She's kinda cool."
"Well, at least she's single," Rachel stated.
"And straight," Sam added.
"That's always a bonus for you," Rachel joked.
Now that everything was in the past, there were definitely no hard feelings on Sam's part. Rachel was thankful everything had gone back to normal between them relatively quickly. She could tell he was trying not to mope the first few times he saw them together, but it wasn't long before that ended and he seemed genuinely happy for them. Really, their friendship only seemed to get stronger; she now knew they could make it through the rough patches and that she should have more faith in him.
"Can I cut in?" Quinn asked.
They both looked at her and Sam released Rachel, motioning to her. He looked around for a moment before smiling, and Rachel followed his gaze to Mercedes. Rachel smiled as she took Quinn's hand while still watching Sam as he walked up to his date.
"I must admit I never really saw that one coming," Rachel remarked.
"I don't think anyone did," Quinn replied.
"I think they're going to announce prom queen soon," Rachel said.
Quinn nodded. "Yeah, Principal Figgins told me to be in the auditorium in fifteen minutes."
"I can't believe you're so calm about it," Rachel said.
"Honestly, it doesn't really matter to me," Quinn said with a shrug. "It used to matter—more than I care to admit—but not anymore."
"What changed?" Rachel asked.
"I found you," Quinn answered. "I don't need to be prom queen to be happy anymore. I'm not saying it wouldn't be nice, but at this point, it just doesn't matter that much."
Rachel smiled. "So, I'm better than winning prom queen, huh?"
"Always," Quinn said, smiling back.
"I know how you feel," Rachel replied. "Before, winning Nationals seemed like everything to me. Of course I still want to win and will certainly make sure we do our best, but if we don't, I no longer feel like it will be the end of the world."
"Oh, we're going to win," Quinn said with a light laugh. "I've had to endure far too many of Mr. Schue's lectures and too many hours of rehearsals not to."
Rachel laughed. They had managed to get Mr. Schue to begin rehearsals in April, so they would have time to perfect everything. It was a nice change of pace from the previous year, but he also liked to give long lectures or motivational talks about how they were going to win. As much as it was beginning to annoy everyone—even Rachel—but she was just glad they were going to be prepared this time. Even if Nationals wasn't as important to her as it once was, she still wanted to win, and she was confident that this would be their year.
"You're thinking about winning, aren't you?" Quinn stated.
Rachel blushed. "No."
"Liar," Quinn said with a smile.
"Fine, yes," Rachel relented.
"You get this look in your eyes every time," Quinn said, shaking her head. "It's cute."
"You think everything I do is cute," Rachel pointed out.
"That's because everything about you is cute," Quinn replied.
"I don't know about that," Rachel said, trying not to blush at Quinn's words as she ducked her head.
"I do," Quinn whispered.
"Have I told you how much I love you today?" Rachel inquired.
"You may have," Quinn answered. "But that doesn't mean I don't want to hear it again."
Rachel smiled, but instead of saying anything, she brought their lips together, hoping to convey just how much she loved every little thing about Quinn.
"Somethin' in your eyes, makes me wanna lose myself
Makes me wanna lose myself, in your arms
There's somethin' in your voice, makes my heart beat fast
Hope this feeling lasts, the rest of my life"
Rachel looked down into the crowd as Quinn danced with Finn, the prom queen crown firmly atop her head. Even if Quinn had said it was no longer that important to her, she knew her girlfriend still wanted it. And judging by the smile on Quinn's face when she won, Rachel had been right.
"If you knew how lonely my life has been
And how long I've been so alone
And if you knew how I wanted someone to come along
And change my life the way you've done"
Rachel locked eyes with Quinn as the blonde looked over Finn's shoulder. She wanted her girlfriend to know that she was singing to her and only her. She had been confident that Quinn would win prom queen and immediately volunteered the moment Mr. Schue began talking about who would sing. She had even persuaded him to let her be the one to choose the song; he wanted her to go with something a little more upbeat, but the moment she heard the song, she knew she wanted to sing it to Quinn.
"It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I come from
It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I belong"
Rachel could see that Finn had said something to Quinn, but she didn't respond as she kept her eyes locked onto Rachel's. Quinn's lips quirked up slightly and Rachel almost wanted to laugh. You could practically fit another person between Quinn and Finn, and Rachel knew she would much rather dance with anyone else. Except maybe Puck, who would have been much worse than Finn.
"A window breaks, down a long, dark street
And a siren wails in the night
But I'm alright, 'cause I have you here with me
And I can almost see, through the dark there is light"
Quinn cringed a bit and Rachel imagined that Finn had stepped on her toes. He had actually come to Rachel and sheepishly asked if she would help him learn to slow dance. Since he was up for prom king, he didn't want to completely embarrass himself if he won. Rachel was surprised he came to her, but she supposed he didn't want any of his friends to know. Being the person that she was, Rachel agreed to help him. Even after giving him several lessons, he still wasn't the greatest dancer, but he had certainly improved. Of course, she had done it more for her girlfriend than Finn. She was confident that Quinn would win prom queen and she didn't want the uncoordinated boy maiming her girlfriend.
"Well, if you knew how much this moment means to me
And how long I've waited for your touch
And if you knew how happy you are making me
I never thought that I'd love anyone so much"
As the song came to a close, Rachel belted out the lyrics before finishing it softly. Her eyes still remained locked onto Quinn's, who was barely moving as she danced with Finn. And Rachel knew it was because the other girl didn't want to take her eyes off her. Rachel gave her another soft smile as she thought for the millionth time how lucky she was to have someone like Quinn.
"It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way the back where I come from
It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I belong
It feels like I'm all the way back where I belong"
Everyone in the gymnasium clapped as the song ended. Quinn quickly parted from Finn and turned, walking up to the stage, where Rachel stood. The blonde reached up, grabbing her hand, and pulled her down and into a kiss. The clapping only grew louder and Rachel was certain she heard a few whistles. As Quinn pulled away, Rachel tried to contain the grin on her face and the blush she knew was inevitably coloring her cheeks.
"Dance with me?" Quinn whispered.
"Always," Rachel softly answered back.
"I really don't want this night to end," Rachel said as she stared up at her house.
"Hold on," Quinn said before crawling across the limo and knocking on the window to get the driver's attention.
She couldn't hear what Quinn was saying, but the driver nodded, and the next thing Rachel knew, they were moving again. She looked at Quinn curiously as she sat back down, but the blonde just shrugged. Rachel knew better than to ask where they were going; Quinn wouldn't tell her anyway, so she just sat back and waited. It only took a few minutes to get where they were going, and Rachel soon found herself looking at the Lima City Park.
"What are we doing here?" Rachel asked.
"Come with me and you'll see," Quinn said, holding out her hand.
Rachel put her hand in Quinn's and the blonde opened the door. When Rachel stepped out into the warm, night air, she looked at Quinn. Her girlfriend just smiled softly and began leading Rachel into the park. As she looked over her shoulder, she saw the limousine pulling away and frowned.
"Why is he leaving?" Rachel asked.
"I told him we could walk back," Quinn said with a shrug. "Do you know why we're here?"
"I have absolutely no idea why we're here," Rachel answered.
As far as she could remember, they had never gone to the park together, so she couldn't imagine any significance that it could possibly have, so she joked, "Did you just suddenly have the urge to play on the swing?"
"Not exactly," Quinn said with a smile as she looked at Rachel, and then sat down on one of the benches along the path. "Do you remember last summer?"
"Yes?" Rachel said, joining Quinn, and suddenly feeling a little uncertain.
"You and Sam were here," Quinn said. "I assume you were with his brother and sister."
"That's right," Rachel said, remembering the day perfectly. "It was just before school started. I promised Stacey that I would show her how to build a sandcastle and Sam tried to show Stevie how to swing without being pushed. Wait—how did you know that?"
"When my dad told me we were moving here, we took a drive into town," Quinn answered. "I went off on my own for a while and I walked through the park. I saw you and," Quinn sighed, pausing, "I don't know. But I felt like you were going to change my life somehow. Suddenly, I wasn't so against moving to Lima. I didn't even know if I was going to see you ever again, but then I saw you when I walked into school on my first day. You were standing with Sam by your locker." Quinn smiled. "Of course I thought he was your boyfriend; you have no idea how happy I was when I found out you were just friends."
"So, you really noticed me then?" Rachel asked.
"Yeah," Quinn said softly.
Rachel found it hard to believe, but she knew Quinn wouldn't lie to her. She just wasn't used to being noticed like that, and especially not by someone like Quinn. It made her hate even more that she wasted so much time being scared.
"Why didn't you ever tell me that before?" Rachel wondered.
Quinn shrugged and laughed lightly. "Honestly? I was afraid you would find it a little weird."
"Well, I think it's sweet," Rachel stated.
Quinn smiled as she gave Rachel a soft kiss before leaning their foreheads together. "I can't wait for us to be in New York.
"I know," Rachel said with a sigh.
She couldn't wait, either. Since Rachel was going to NYADA and Quinn was going to Columbia, it only made sense for them to share an apartment. Their parents hadn't been thrilled with the idea, but Rachel sat them all down and presented a very detailed PowerPoint about why it would be for the best. Rachel didn't care about it saving money or being convenient, though. She just wanted to be able to wake up next to Quinn every morning.
They still hadn't taken that next step yet, but Rachel planned on it happening their first night in their apartment. The hard part was waiting until then. She loved Quinn with all her heart and wanted to be able to express it. Thankfully, it wouldn't be too long now; they were going to move there the week after graduation rather than waiting until school started.
"What are you thinking about?" Quinn whispered.
"How much I love you and how lucky I am that I found you," Rachel answered.
Quinn smiled softly. "That makes two of us."
The song Rachel sung was Feels Like Home by Chantal Kreviazuk.
And that's the end. Thanks to everyone who had read, and especially to those who've been encouraging along the way.