“Quuuiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnn.” Rachel whined. “Where are we going? We’ve been in the car for five hours now.”
Quinn just laughed as she pulled into a layby. “Don’t be so impatient. This is a surprise.”
“Well then at least tell me why we’ve stopped. We stopped at the gas station less than ten minutes ago. I can’t think what you need.” Rachel huffed. She really did love surprises but she was always so keen to find out what they are before it’s time.
“We’ve stopped,” Quinn started, taking her scarf off, “because we’re almost there. And I need to blindfold you so that you don’t get any clues.”
Rachel’s jaw dropped. “Are you actually serious?”
“Deadly serious, Rach.” Quinn smirked at her girlfriend before wrapping the scarf around Rachel’s head so that the brunette couldn’t see. “I swear I’ll make it worth your while.” The blonde then leaned across to peck Rachel on the lips. “I promise you’ll love it.”
“I better do.” Rachel paused before a cheeky grin etched across her face. “Hey, Quinnie?”
“Yes?” Quinn answered with caution. The diva’s tone of voice could only mean mischief and that could only mean annoyance for herself.
“Are we nearly there yet?” The brunette sing-songed.
“Clearly we are. I literally said a few moments ago that we’re almost there.” Quinn tried to sound firm but the smile in her voice gave it away. “Give over, Rach.”
“Finnnneee-uuhhh.” Rachel moaned.
Part of Quinn hated surprising Rachel. During the lead up to it, she was the biggest pain in the backside. Ever. But the reaction always made up for it.
“I know!!” Shouted Rachel, clapping her hands together a couple of times. “Let’s play I-Spy!” She grinned.
Quinn snorted. “Go on then, you big nerd. You go first.”
Rachel giggled. “I spy with my little eye something beginning with n.”
The blonde let out a sigh. “Rach, are you making things up in your head? Because you know full well I’ll never be able to guess what goes on in your head.”
“Not this time, Quinn.”
“Well then I can’t think of anything. You can’t see anything so you therefore can’t spy anything.”
“Exactly.” Grinned Rachel. “Do you give up?” She taunted.
“I-” Giving up was the last thing Quinn wanted to do. Rachel would hold it over her head for eternity. But then she really had no clue what to say. And she really couldn’t be bothered to make a dozen mindless answers. Especially when she knew they wouldn't get her any closer to the actual answer. “Okay, I give up.”
“Nothing, Quinn.” Rachel grinned and then raised her voice, jokingly shouting at her girlfriend. “I see nothing because you’ve BLINDFOLDED ME.” The brunette crossed her arms and huffed.
“Oh my god.” Quinn groaned. “I think I’m dating a child.”
“Don’t be silly.” Rachel lightly chastised.
Then Quinn had an idea. They were rounding the corner to their destination. “My turn. I spy with my little eye something beginning with t.”
Not that anyone could see, but Rachel rolled her eyes. “Really, Quinn?”
“Really, honey.” Quinn smiled. “Take a guess.”
Quinn shook her head. Then realised that Rachel couldn’t see the action. “No.”
“Not even close.”
“Quuiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnn.” Rachel moaned.
Quinn smirked. “Does that mean you give up?”
“Fine.” Rachel answered in an irritated short manner.
“Tents.” Quinn looked to Rachel and despite not being able to see most of her face, it was clear that she was confused and trying to work things out. The blonde parked the car. Then she got out of the car to let her girlfriend out. Once Rachel was out? the blonde gently remove the scarf that was covering Rachel’s eyes.
Once Rachel’s eyes had adjusted, her jaw dropped. “Holy shit.” She whispered.
“Children aren’t supposed to use that kind of language, Rachel.” Quinn grinned at her girlfriend’s face. It was a beautiful picture of surprise.
“Mmhmm.” Quinn hummed in response.
Rachel threw herself at her girlfriend. “I love you so much!” Stepping back, the brunette took a sweeping look around. It was exactly how she remembered it. She and Quinn had been to the campsite twice after their first time being there the summer they got together. After that, university had taken up most of their time. Then they'd been too wrapped up starting new lives together to think about going away anywhere. Now it was nine years after they'd been for the first time. "Where are our pitches?"
Quinn pressed her lips together trying to suppress a smile ."Would you believe me if I told you that we had the exact same pitches as the first time?"
Rachel narrowed her eyes suspiciously at Quinn. "I'd say that it would be a highly unlikely occurrence."
"Then I'd say that your girlfriend is a keeper because she's managed the almost impossible." Now Quinn let the grin spread right across her face. "Come on. We'll get back in the car and I can drive us to the pitches."
When they were back in the car, Rachel began asking a million questions a minute. "How long have you been planning this? How were you so sneaky? I couldn't have even guessed that you'd planned this. Where are the tents? I know that we didn't pack any. In fact we haven't got any camping stuff. Will we even be able to camp?"
"Woah!" Quinn interrupted so that Rachel couldn't ask anything else. "One question at a time, please."
"Sorry." Rachel apologised meekly. "When did you plan all of this?"
Quinn tapped her fingers on the steering wheel in thought. "Mentally, I've been planning this for several years. But I only got it completely organised about five months ago."
"And you kept it secret for that long?" Rachel asked, shocked. It was hard for Quinn to keep anything from her girlfriend. The brunette was impressed to say the least. A lot of willpower must have gone into the vacation.
"It seems so." Quinn nodded. "I almost blurted it out a couple of times. Quite a few times in the past week, actually. I'm surprised I managed to keep it from you."
"Me too." Rachel agreed. She hummed, trying to remember what her next question was. "Where's all the camping gear?"
"Ahaaa." The blonde smiled knowingly and tapped the side of her nose. "I have my connections."
"My family still live nearby. You can see the others by our tent." Quinn turned the car into the field so she could park up just behind their tent.
Rachel squinted her eyes trying to make out who the group of people were by their tents. Once she realised who it was, she whipped her head in Quinn's direction. "Are you trying to give me deja vu?"
"That wasn't my intention, no." The blonde laughed. She had invited their friends from their first camp. Over the years, they'd stayed in close contact despite their distance from one another. They were all there by the tents. Claudia, Fuad, Julian and Danny. In appearance, they had all grown. Fuad hadn’t grown too much but he still towered over them. Julian had caught up with Danny and they were both the same height at just under six foot. Surprisingly there was another couple in the group. Claudia and Danny had been together on and off throughout college but now they’d been together for a steady three years. As the group of friends saw the car, they waved to the couple.
“You made it on time!” Julian smiled in greeting. “We thought you’d be late without Rachel’s planning.”
Quinn rolled her eyes. “Just because Rachel’s organised about everything doesn’t mean I’m not capable of it too.” She got out of the car and went to hug him in greeting. “Hello to you too.”
“Hello Q-bear.” He replied as they pulled out of the hug. It was a nickname that came from their last year of camping together. Quinn had suddenly acquired an unusual temporary fear of bears and thought that the animals were everywhere.
Rachel and Quinn went around greeting everyone and catching up on idle chit-chat. The plan was to separate for a few hours. Then, at dusk they’d all meet up around a campfire. They all knew exactly where it would be without discussion. It would be at their spot by the lake.
And so, at dusk, everyone made their way down to the lake with marshmallows and biscuits (all vegan friendly for Rachel) to make s’mores over the fire. Quinn and Rachel meandered down and arrived to find both Julian and Fuad already there, chatting over a few beers. The women settled on a log next to theirs and snuggled close together. “Where’s Clauds and Danny?” Rachel asked.
Fuad and Julian shared an awkward look. It was Julian who explained, somewhat embarrassed. “They’re just finishing some… business in their tent.”
“Ah.” The couple nodded in understanding.
“He means they’re doing the frick frack.” Fuad stage whispered unnecessarily, covering one side of his mouth with his hand.
Quinn rolled her eyes. “Thanks for that, Fuad.” She replied sarcastically. “I had no idea what Julian meant. I’m so glad you elaborated.”
“Now, now, children.” Rachel chastised jokingly. Then she caught sight of Claudia and Danny making their way down to the lake. “Be quiet now, though. I can see them.”
Of course Fuad didn’t listen. Instead, he called out to the couple. “GOOD TO KNOW YOU TWO ARE STILL AT IT!!”
Rachel shook her head. There was no point in trying to stop him. She’d learnt a long while ago that Fuad would do what he wanted. Especially when Quinn was there. Those two, if up to something mischievous together, were a nightmare. She liked to keep them from being alone together as much as possible.
Danny and Claudia joined the four, sitting on the third log together. Claudia blushed, knowing that now everyone in a three mile radius knew what her and Danny had just been doing. Danny felt no shame, though and just grinned at his friends. “Sorry we’re a bit late, guys.” He said, voice completely unapologetic. “We got uhh..” He looked to the side of him to Claudia. “A little bit tied up.”
That earned him a light slap to the bicep from his girlfriend. “Shut up, Dan. We are sorry we’re late. However, to make up for it…” Claudia reached into her bag to pull something out. “We brought food!” In her hand was a packet of hotdog buns and some Quorn sausages.
“I guess I can forgive your lateness.” Fuad teased, walking around to take the sausages from her so he could put them on a skewer and roast them over the fire.
Within minutes, they were all chatting and laughing about their previous camping trips. A bike ride when the boys hadn’t realised there was a river at the bottom of a hill they were racing down. They’d ended up flying in over the handlebars head first. Luckily no harm was done. There were other times like when a group of raccoons sneaked their way into Danny’s tent and stole his secret stash of nuts. Or when they went hiking and got lost and a five year old gave them directions back to the campsite right away.
When it turned half eleven, everyone was getting sleepy and so they all retired to their tents. Everyone but Rachel knew what a big day it was going to be when they woke up.
Waking up the following day wasn’t the most pleasant experience for Quinn and Rachel. The blonde had requested, during the planning of the trip, that they come to wake the pair up on the first morning. Unfortunately she hadn’t specified that she wanted a nice waking up. And so, at half past eight, their friends circled their tent chanting and banging pots and pans together.
Rachel woke with a start, sitting bolt upright at the noise. When she realised where she was and who was making the racket, she slithered out of her sleeping bag and stomped outside. “Will. You. Shut. Up.” That just made them make more noise. So Rachel raised her voice and boy could she shout. “I SWEAR TO GOD YOU BETTER SHUT UP. THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE ON THIS CAMPSITE WHO WON’T APPRECIATE THIS EITHER.”
That made them stop. Thank god.
“Sorry. We had orders from Quinn to wake you guys up.” Fuad used as an excuse.
Rachel raised her eyebrows. “And she asked you to wake us up like that?”
The four mischief makers looked at each other shiftily. “Yes?” Julian answered, clearly meaning no
“I thought as much.” Rachel turned to go back into the tent. The dew had made her bare feet cold and wet. “I’ll be out in a few minutes with Quinn when we’ve changed.”
No less than a few minutes later, the pair exited the tent, eyes still bleary from sleep. “So from my understanding,” Rachel said. “We’re going on a hike today and we need to set off ASAP?” Everyone nodded in agreement. They settled down in some folding chairs to eat some fruit before they left. "Where is it we're going? I can't remember you telling me."
"It's another surprise." Quinn smiled apologetically. Not so much in Rachel's direction. It was directed more so at those with them. Rachel was the most impatient person in the world when it came to surprises. It almost made Quinn want to stop surprising her. Almost.
Thanks to Rachel, everyone was up and ready (but not necessarily raring) to go. They set off walking in pairs with Quinn and Rachel taking the lead, Fuad and Julian behind, and Danny and Claudia following just behind them. Each were carrying their own conversation. Then, when they stepped off the path to get to their destination, Rachel stopped in her tracks. "Quinn?" She turned to her girlfriend. "I think I recognise the way."
"Oh?" Quinn commented, acting aloof, carrying on walking.
Rachel followed her and everyone started working. "We're a few minutes from where we had our first date."
Quinn stayed silent.
"I knew it." The smile on the brunette's face was one that was rarely beaten in size. It was the smile she wore when she was right. "If we just walk a bit further..." Rachel skipped ahead, now completely sure of their whereabouts. "There should be a clearing.." Then she reached the treeless area. It was exactly how she remembered it. Tall trees surrounding it at every side apart from where they entered it. The tall waterfall on the right as you look from the opening. Rachel turned back to Quinn and her friends. "This is the best surprise ever. Thank you guys."
Claudia shrugged. "You don't need to thank us, Rach." She nodded her head in Quinn's direction, smiling.. "This is all your girlfriend's doing."
"But!" Interrupted Danny. "She wouldn't have been able to do it without our help so it was no problem." He winked cockily at Rachel only for her to roll her eyes at him.
Claudia elbowed her boyfriend. He was always so overly self-confident. She knew that it was an act and he wasn't actually quite so cocky but for those who didn't know him, often saw him in a negative light because of it. He was much more bearable when modest. "Who's up for a small game of soccer?" she asked, trying to hint at him that she discouraged the quality.
"I'm up for it!" Julian grinned. He'd come out of his shell a lot over the past few years. It came with gaining independence. In that time he'd also excelled in sports. Julian was a valued team member on whatever sport he played. He recognised his talent and used it to encourage and train others. Across many schools that he coached in, he was very much a role model. Lots of students wanted to reach his level and he set a good example by being a team player and not being selfish.
"I'll play." Fuad grinned. He was always up for sport. Football wasn't his strong suit but it wasn't to say that he didn't enjoy it. He often played five aside games to distract himself from his stressful work for the police.
"I'm in if Rachel's in." Quinn looked to her girlfriend.
"We'll be playing, then." Rachel took off her rucksack and placed it at the far end of the clearing. She then moved Quinn's bag and put it five foot away from her own to create one set of goal posts.
Danny jogged to do the same with his rucksack while Claudia fetched the ball from her bag before creating another set of goal posts. "Girls against guys?" She suggested.
Her boyfriend nodded in agreement. Claudia was good for him. And he was well aware of how lucky he was. Over the time they'd been together she'd helped him become a much better person. She hadn't changed him but rather helped him to see his better qualities so that he could make them larger parts of his personality.
"Do we have to do boys against girls?" Rachel pouted. "It isn't fair."
"Oh?" Fuad's voice took on a tone that was made for winding people up. "Are you saying that girls are worse than guys at sport?"
"Of course I'm not." Rachel was indignant. "I'm just saying because Julian was offered a spot for a professional team."
"I don't knowwwww..." Fuad kept winding her up. "But I'll let you believe that."
Quinn came up behind Rachel and put a hand on her shoulder. "Just leave this one, Rae. He's just trying to get a rise out of you." She whispered in her ear.
The brunette visibly relaxed and murmured a thank you to Quinn. "All right." Rachel spoke up. "Boys v girls let's go!"
And so a game followed. With so few people in the game it was very much a goal here and a goal there kind of match. When the six began to tire, Danny called, "Last goal winner!" And then it got competitive.
Rachel had the ball at that point. She passed it smoothly to Claudia, sending out encouragement. "Easy passes, girls, easy passes."
When Danny got close to Claudia, she passed it back to Rachel. Rachel gave it one touch and the ball went straight to Quinn. The blonde kicked it forward, heading closer to the goal.
"MAN ON!" Claudia shouted but it was a moment too late. Quinn got tackled.
Fuad ran forward with the ball. Quinn couldn't catch him up. Rachel went in for a tackle but he knocked the ball past her, just out of her reach. He was ten yards from the goal. He took the shot. It was on target. Last minute, Claudia slid across the grass feet first. She deflected the goal! Quinn ran towards the ball. Just as she was getting closed down by Julian, she passed the ball to Rachel. Her path was clear. She made the run for it. Five meters off the goal she made the shot. It went in! The girls had won!
The men fell to their knees, pretending to be devastated by their loss. The ladies, on the other hand, celebrated by running in circles with their hands in the air. Claudia whipped off her t-shirt and shorts, leaving her in her bikini. Rachel and Quinn followed suit and, with a nod, the three ran to jump into the plunge pool beneath the waterfall. Moments later, the men's shirts were off too and they sprinted to the pool, Danny beelining for Claudia, Julian for Rachel and Julian for Quinn. At the water's edge, they jumped, tucked, and hit the water with a huge splash just a foot away from each girl. The splashes were met with loud screams and splashes back.
When they were even, they decided to get back out again. It was nice to cool down after their game but they were all rather hungry. So out they got to eat the pre-prepared sandwiches.
The combination of food, heat and fatigue made the friends' eyelids heavy and they settled down for an afternoon nap.
An hour later, Rachel woke up. Looking at her watch, she saw that it was five o'clock. She decided to wake the others as they'd never get any sleep later. It had been decided that both her and Quinn would sleep there under the stars and the others would head back to camp. If they wanted to be back in plenty of light, they probably needed to set off soon anyway. So Rachel wandered to where Quinn was lying. Making sure none of the others were up, she woke her girlfriend up the best way she knew how. Kissing. The brunette kissed Quinn on her cheeks and halfway down her jawline before she woke up.
The blonde woke with a moan. Then she remembered others were there and started whining sleepily. "You can't wake me up like that when others are here. That's not fair."
Rachel grinned. "They'll have gone soon. They need to get to camp before it's dark. Help me wake them up?"
"Anything to get in your pants." Quinn joked, winking.
The pair woke their four friends up and they were ready to leave within ten minutes. Quinn whispered something into Julian's ear that Rachel didn't quite catch. All she managed to hear was his reply of "good luck". That was confusing. Rachel had no idea what that could have been in relation to. She'd have to ask Quinn later.
Once they'd waved their friends off until they were out of sight, Quinn turned to Rachel. "Hey uhmm..." She suddenly sounded incredibly nervous. "Do you want to go on a quick walk? It's not too far."
"Yeah sure." Rachel agreed, moving to put on some shoes. "Are you okay? You seem a little shaky."
"I'm fine, don't worry about it." Quinn attempted to reduce her worry but her inability to make eye contact with the brunette made her reply hard to believe. She held her hand out to Rachel. "Shall we go?"
Rachel took her hand. "Yeah, let's go."
The couple walked in silence, Quinn's breathing uneven.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Rachel asked concerned. "We can go back to the clearing. I don't want you to faint in a forest. You've had a lot of sun today. Is that what it is?"
"No, it's nothing like that!" Quinn was quick to rid that idea. "I'm just thinking."
"Thinking?" Rachel was a little nervous now. Quinn had stopped walking. What was she thinking about? Was everything okay?
The blonde wiped her clammy hands on her shorts. "Yeah, thinking." She let out a deep breath. "Do you recognise where we are?"
"We're on the route between the campsite and the clearing." Rachel said, incredibly confused.
"Think harder than that." Quinn willed Rachel to remember. "What happened here the first time we got to this spot."
"Ooooh." A smile spread across Rachel's face. "I remember. We were on a date and you asked if I'd be your girlfriend. I was so happy that I ran into a hug and hit you to the ground." The brunette chuckled at the memory. "That was a great kiss as well."
Quinn was so relieved that Rachel had remembered. That made things so much easier. "Well, since this is such a substantial place for us both for firsts, I thought that there was no better place for this." Quinn reached into her back pocket to get out a black case and got down on one knee, trying not to laugh at her girlfriend's shocked face. She opened the small box. "Rachel Barbra Berry. You are the light of-"
"Yes." Rachel was nodding at an alarming speed, her hands covering her nose and mouth in shock, tears making tracks down her cheeks.
"You have no idea how happy I am to hear that answer." Tears fell from Quinn's eyes too. "But I've planned a whole speech..."
"Sorry!" Rachel smiled meekly. "Do carry on."
"It's no problem. I know you get a bit carried away during big moments." The blonde smiled fondly up at Rachel. "As I was saying, you are the light of my life. Gold stars are your thing. They always have been. It may have started out as a metaphor but you have become my star. You bring me light when times are dark. When I'm with you I feel warm and fuzzy. I will never forget the first summer we had together here. You opened my eyes so much. And since then, you've helped me be a better me. You mean the world to me, Rachel." Quinn paused to wipe a tear away. "I don't know what I'd do without you. I love you so, so, so much. Rachel Barbra Berry, love of my life. Will you marry me?"
"... I can answer now, right?" Rachel checked.
Quinn nodded tearily. "You can answer now."
"YES!" Rachel threw herself at Quinn, arms around her neck. They both ended up lying on the floor side by side but neither of them minded.
“Can I put the ring on?”
Rachel nodded and Quinn slipped it onto her finger. It was beautiful. The ring was silver with a single diamond. The ring around the diamond was silver bands intertwined to make a pattern almost like a royal stamp. “Oh Quinn..” Rachel gasped, admiring the ring and its perfect fit. “It’s gorgeous.” She met Quinn’s eyes. “I love you.”
Quinn leant in to press her forehead to Rachel’s. “I love you too.” She caught Rachel’s top lip between hers as she kissed her slowly. Rachel’s tongue traced her teeth before entering her mouth. Both of their eyes were closed, just allowing them to enjoy the feel and the taste of their fiancée.
The blonde was the first to pull back. “I hate to ruin the moment but I promised I’d ring Julian straight away so him and the gang can know what’s happened.
“That’s fine.” Rachel smiled. She doubted her grin would leave for a long time now. “So long as that’s all and we can go back to just us afterwards.
“Of course.” Quinn granted her fiancée’s wish. She pulled out her phone to put it on speakerphone. It was answered right away with a single question from Julian.
“Wassup Q-bear, what did she say?”
“I SAID YES!” Rachel shouted and was met with deafening shouts of congratulations from their friends.
After a minute or so of congratulations and small details, Claudia spoke up. “We’ll let you go now. We’re so happy for you. You deserve to be happy.”
Quinn and Rachel thanked her quietly before hanging up the phone.
“Back to the clearing?” Quinn asked.
“I’d love to.” Rachel held the blonde’s hand and they started walking back. “When it’s dark, can we watch the stars?”
“We can do whatever you want to do.” Quinn smiled and kissed the top of Rachel’s head. This was the happiest she had ever been.