Anthy and Utena stop in front of the next piece, and Utena stares up, mouth agape, as Anthy reads from the brochure in perfect French. They had ones in Japanese, but it didn’t matter to Anthy what language it was in.
“This next piece is a portrait of Louis XIV, the Sun King. He had this portrait commissioned after--”
Utena tunes her out as gazes up at the portrait, tears springing to her eyes as she tugs insistently on Anthy’s sleeve.
“Himemiya, I want my frills back.”
Anthy slowly looks up from the brochure.
“We can get...frills…”
“He never wore frills, Himemiya, I can still wear them and not feel bad!” Utena says, clearly trying to convince herself more than anyone else.
“Yes, Utena,” Anthy assures her. “You can wear whatever you want.”
She pats her girlfriend’s shoulder as Utena stares dejectedly at the tiled floor.
“If you don’t want still, that’s fine as well.” Anthy genuinely can’t imagine what’s got her so worked up. Going to this museum was Utena’s idea after all, and clothes were just clothes. In fact, if Anthy was being honest with herself, Utena didn’t seem too bothered by frilly clothing until now, and given that it was all over the Lily Cafe…
Ooh, Anthy might have to do some redesigning.
“We can’t both wear the frills at our wedding, Himemiya!”
Oh. Was that it? Anthy lets out a little laugh.
“Utena, it’s our wedding. We can do whatever we want.”
“Yes. I’ll design you the frilliest outfit in the world for our special day.”
Utena’s eyes light up and she scoops Anthy into a Wakaba-grade hug.
It was only several hours later, in the dead of night in their hotel room that Anthy realized what Utena had said and shot up out of bed.
A bleary-eyed Utena looks at her over her shoulder.
“Himemiya, what are you--” Utena’s eyes widen and she throws off the covers as she starts digging through the bedside drawer. “IFORGOTTOPROPOSE”
“I forgot to propose! I was supposed to do it at the museum and I had a clever line and everything and if Chu-Chu has it I SWEAR--”
Utena sees the box sitting on the far edge of the nightstand and snatches it up as she turns back to Anthy.
“Anthy Himemiya--” Utena opens the box. Inside is a watch made of rose gold and Anthy’s eyes widen as she looks at and realizes that this is legit she’s going to be someone’s legitimate bride-- “Will you--”
Anthy kisses her and doesn’t pull away for a good while, leaving Utena flushed when she finally does.
“Cool, cool, cool,” Utena says, always the height of wit. “Glad we worked that out.”
She chuckles nervously as she fumbles trying to put the watch on Himemiya’s wrist.
“I figured rings were a but, um,...so I decided to you an engagement watch instead, you know, because a, because a long, long time, and, uh I have this pretty neat idea instead of doing wedding rings, you know, b-but I also have a backup idea too if you don’t like that one and--”
Anthy puts a hand on her cheek and Utena shuts the fuck up for a second.
“Whatever you decide, it’s perfect.”
Anthy delicately steps aside as Wakaba crashes into Utena and the two of them hit the ground with a thump that draws out the other girls from Juri’s parlor.
“Congratulations on the wedding!” Wakaba plants a wet kiss on Utena’s cheek.
“I’m spoken for!” Utena squeals.
“I don’t mind, Utena,” Anthy says, turning her attention to Juri who approaches with one glass of peach bellini and another with peach soda.
Anthy takes the bellini and shares a knowing nod with Juri.
“I was wondering when you two would tie the knot,” she says, a weak attempt at conversation with someone she barely liked in the first place. Anthy would say the feeling is mutual, but she did admire Juri in some respects. The sword-using ones.
“I was thinking it myself, Miss Juri, but I always imagined I would be the one doing the proposing--”
“Can’t relate,” Kozue says, sauntering up and leaning against juri. “This girl’s gonna be freer than a stallion running in the wind.” Kozue takes a long sip of her drink. “Congrats on the proposal though.”
“Thank you. Speaking of single people…?”
Kozue narrows her eyes and glares of her shoulder at Nanami who couldn’t be bothered to come out to grace the mortals with her presence. Anthy makes eye contact with her and her peach soda and sips her bellini.
Nanami’s hackles go up.
“I won’t apologize for one date!”
Kozue turns back around.
“Okay, I’m done with this conversation. I’m gonna go smoke.”
She pushes off of Juri and walks out of the house. So, the twins are still working out their shit and they got Nanami involved. Interesting, interesting. Anthy takes a sip of her drink and makes a mental reminder to have a...luncheon...with the three of them before the wedding.
“How’s Miss Shiori?” Anthy asks as Utena finally gets up off the floor with Wakaba on her back like usual.
“Please stop killing the mood, Himemiya, this is supposed to be fun.”
“I don’t mind,” Juri says, delicately tipping her head as she passes Utena her peach soda.
Utena takes a sip, completely distracted, but Anthy takes the hint and follows the line of Juri’s head up to the top of the staircase, where there are ten toes painted a delicate shade of purple.
“We’re working through things slowly,” Jury says, and then a little more softly. “I trust you to keep it discreet?”
Anthy nods just slightly and Juri smiles.
“Thank you for understanding.”
“Thank you for understanding what?” Utena says, because she actually pays attention to things now. “Are you getting back together with Shiori?”
“With who?” Wakaba says.
Everyone winces. The ten toes disappear from the staircase.
“Hey, Wakaba, could you, uh, give us a second?”
“Yeah, later, just, uh…”
Wakaba gets off Utena’s back and heads into the parlor but not without some grumbling.
“Juri, why?” Utena says.
“I think it’s a bit late to be mad on her behalf, Utena,” Anthy says, wrapping her arm around her fiance. At least one could argue that she was handling it better than she did last time. “Weren’t you the one who said we shouldn’t kill the mood?”
Utena takes a sip of her drink and makes a mental reminder to...call out Juri on her bullshit...before the wedding.
“Shall we head in?” Juri says with a pained smile.
Later, Anthy makes a note to bring up some bellini and hors d’oeuvres for Shiori later. Despite everything, Anthy didn’t mind the girl. Maybe it was the fact that they both were ambiguous in morality, maybe it was the purple hair.
Maybe it was the fact that Shiori could turn into a car.
Juri’s parlor is about as expensive as the rest of her and Utena feels uncomfortable being in there, like her denim shorts will ruin the value of the couches and ~”chaise lounges”~, and she almost regrets not having a bachelor party with dudes until she remembers how shitty Touga and Saionji’s apartment is, not to mention the actual company itself.
Almost seeming to sense her anxieties, Anthy guides her to the nearest seat with room for the both of them and sits her down, then sits down by her and leans up against her, as if Utena were a pink-haired pillow. Utena smiles and pecks the crown of Anthy’s head before setting her chin on top. Anthy really wasn’t one for physical contact, but she definitely had her moments.
Her very strange, almost cat-like moments.
Utena sips her drink as Juri takes her seat and Kozue comes back in.
Wakaba finishes her drink in one gulp, claps her hands, and gets up to wheel in a dry-erase board she hid...somewhere.
“First things first: the wedding party--”
“If that’s what we’re discussing why didn’t you invite my brother? Or Miki?” Nanami says.
Wakaba looks at Nanami. Nanami looks at her, then over at Utena and Anthy who look at the ceiling and in her drink, respectively. Juri has her eyes shut serenely. And Kozue is clearly holding back giggles.
“Probably for the same reason why you didn’t mention Saionji,” someone mutters.
Nanami looks like she’s about to object then shuts her mouth and sinks back into the couch.
“Let’s start with the groomsmen--”
“Wakaba, best man,” Utena says and Wakaba pumps her fist like she totally didn’t see this coming. “And Juri.”
”That takes care of the groomsmen,” Wakaba says, crossing that off the list, “Next is the bridal...party…”
Wakaba’s voice peters out and her arm falls to her side, limp, as she remembers who exactly the bride is and what happened in middle school. Everyone else seems to have the same reaction as they stare down into their drinks. Everyone except for Anthy, who gives everyone one of her trademark creepy smiles.
Utena huffs and makes a move to stand up, but Anthy’s, er, very sudden density, keeps her in place, even when she jostles her leg. Anthy pecks her cheek and rests her head on her shoulder.
“Anyway,” she mutters quietly before saying a little louder. “Someone has to at least stand next to Himemiya at the wedding--”
“It’s alright, Utena. I’ll be busy anyway.”
“Busy doing what?”
“Well, I was thinking about what you said at the museum, and I thought it’d be nice if I designed and sewed our gowns for the wedding.”
“That takes care of that,” Wakaba says, crossing another item off the list.
“Are you sure, Himemiya?” Utena says, giving Nanami and Kozue side-eyes.
“It’s fine. I don’t mean to make anyone uncomfortable--”
“Himemiya. It’s our wedding--”
“Who wants to play party games!” Wakaba says, pushing the dry-erase board out of the room.
”Himemiya?” Utena knocks on the door to Anthy’s office.
There’s no response, but the door does creak open, so Utena steps in.
“I know it’s been awhile, but we had some leftovers, so since you’ve been working so hard, I thought I’d try my hand at making a bento again and...Himemiya?”
Anthy is slumped over the low table and her sketchpad, surrounded by crumpled pieces of paper and bare mannequins, a pencil still in her hand, her purple hair tied in a ponytail so it’s out of her face. Chu-Chu is lying on his back by her hand, but he gets up and starts climbing Utena once the smell of the bento hits his nose.
“Himemiya,” Utena whispers. “Are you asleep? Maybe I should get her a blanket…”
Anthy slowly sits up with a low groan and covers her eyes with her free hand.
“Utena. What time is it?”
“Uh. It’s around 1pm…”
“Is it still Monday?”
“Himemiya, no. You did not stay up for three days straight.”
“Oh, three days is hardly anything to me. I’m just having a little difficulty.”
Anthy picks up her sketchbook and makes like she’s about to start sketching something, then slowly slumps forward. Utena sets down the bento and pulls Anthy back up by her shoulders. This reminds Utena of something she shouldn’t remember...was there a point when Anthy was tired all the time? Nothing comes to mind…
”You’re allowed to take a break, you know,” Utena says, kneeling next to her. “I feel terrible working you like this.”
“Really, Utena, it’s nothing like that. Once I have the designs, then sewing them will be snap.” Anthy yawns delicately. “Thank you for the bento.”
“Oh, I didn’t know you noticed--Hey! Don’t change the subject. I’m serious. Take a nap and come back to it later--”
Anthy’s voice is sharp like knives or a shit ton of swords. Utena winces. Even though Utena was trying to help, after the events of Ohtori Academy, Anthy really had a sore spot when it came to being told what to do.
Or, she always did, but this time she was more direct about how she hated it.
“Right. Sorry. I’m just really worried about you, Himemiya.”
Anthy sighs and kisses her fiance on the cheek.
“You’re doing fine, dear, and so am I. I’ll take a break for dinner, alright?”
“I’ll hold you to that,” Utena says, returning her kiss and getting to her feet. “Good luck, Himemiya.”
“Thank you, dear.”
Utena yanks the tarp off the mannequin with a flourish and stares open-mouthed at what lie underneath.
It’s like...It’s like a new version of her duel outfit, more adult and with less stab holes, but what else could she expect from the person who designed the first? On the mannequin is a vest in white and a pair of purple capri tights (they decided on purple and pink for the wedding, and figured to hot pants were a little too pedestrian for such a special day). There’s also a black choker to make up for the lack of collar or shoulders on the black justacorps. The justacorps itself has hanging sleeves from the elbow and under the sleeves and at the bottom hem are frills. The frills.
And the cape. A real white cape that gathers on the floor and connects to the top hem of the justacorps with two chains that connect up to the black choker. Nothing like that nonsense flyway bullshit Akio had.
Anthy Himemiya really knocked it out of the park.
“Isn’t it amazing, Chu-Chu?” Utena says, trying not to tear up. “Chu-Chu?”
She turns around. Chu-Chu is sleeping peacefully by the doorway, half draped over the box with Utena’s white tea gloves and low black heels.
Utena takes a deep breath.
If Chu-Chu’s sleeping, then that means…
“For fuck’s sake, Himemiya.”
”For fuck’s sake, Himemiya.”
Utena says it again when she sees her wife, only softer this time and with a little more love.
Anthy is slumped over the vanity the way Chu-Chu is slumped over Utena’s shoulder, in her loosely-curled fist is tube of liquid eyeliner, the same eyeliner that traces a tired and shaky path from her eye down to her jaw, stopping just before the puddle of drool forming on the vanity.
In the corner of the room is the twin mannequin to the one in Utena’s room. It has pants! Pink pants! Utena’s only seen Anthy in pencil skirts up until today but here she is with pants.
Her vest has a more feminine cut than Utena’s and is structured more like a crop top or a bustier. She doesn't have a black choker or a cape, but her floor-length jacket has a high-collar to make up for it, that and the the elaborate trailing bustle, topped with a big white bow with trailing ribbons.
It’s more Victorian than Utena would’ve liked, but the paned gigot sleeves are very Roccoco, similar to the one’s at Ohtori, but so exaggerated it’s like a mockery.
Utena loves it!
...And then realizes Anthy sewed it all by hand.
Utena gently shakes her. Anthy stirs and then lifts her head just slightly.
“Utena? Why aren’t you dressed?”
“We can’t get married with you half asleep like this. You stayed up late, didn’t you?”
Anthy makes a noncommittal noise before passing out again.
“Damn it, Himemiya. C’mere.“
Utena scoops her up bridal style and weighs her options.
The chapel door opens without a key and Utena carefully maneuvers herself and Anthy in and onto one of the pews.
The silence is nice and Utena combs her fingers through Anthy's hair as she sleeps. After a while, she shuts her own eyes as well, or at least she does until the chapel door flies open.
“Tenjou Utena!” Saionji shouts, shattering the silence.
Utena puts her finger to her lips and shushes him, starting out softly and gradually increasing in volume until the room is filled with her susurrations, all the while making eye contact with Saionji who recoils as Utena leans forward and finally whispers:
“Himemiya is sleeping, you piece of shit!”
Saionji grunts and adjusts the lapels of his dumb fancy tux as he tries to save face.
“Well, I’m glad you two are together. I was concerned you ran away from the altar.”
“What, like you were gonna defend her honor?”
“Slapping girls around doesn’t count, you know.” Saionji bristles. “Oh, hey, Juri.”
Utena gives him a shit-eating grin as Saionji steps aside for Juri, who’s holding a cocktail and wearing a red get-up that could be a dress but might also be a jumpsuit. If only Anthy was awake for these sick burns.
“Utena. I thought the wedding started at 11,” Juri says.
“It was supposed to, but I think Anthy stayed up late last night.” Utena pokes her forehead. Anthy was always a light sleeper, but she’s practically catatonic right now. Did this have something to do with her magic? “I think it’s better if we reschedule. Sorry, guys.”
“Very last minute, but I’ll tell everyone the news. Stop bothering the bride, Saionji.”
Juri hauls Saionji out by his collar, still sipping her drink unbothered.
Utena sighs, then starts helping Anthy to her feet.
Wow, even in her sleep Anthy manages to cop a feel, but who would she be if she didn’t?
Anthy wakes up to the feeling of Utena trying to kiss away the sword scars on her back, a pleasant side effect of sharing a bed with her. She yawns and stretches without disturbing her ministrations, then glances at the corner of the room.
“Those gowns don’t look worn, Utena.”
“Hey, you were the one who blacked out all of yesterday. I told you not stay up late.”
For once in her life, Anthy actually feels kinda sorta guilty. She rolls over and Utena does the same so Anthy can wrap her arms around her and return the favor. Utena’s scars are newer and less numerous, but still…
“I made us breakfast.”
“That’s very sweet of you.” Anthy sighs. “I’ll have to send out apology baskets to everyone and book the venue all over again--”
“It’s not that big a deal. I already planned everything out.”
Anthy hums and rests her cheek against Utena’s scarred back. “Is that so? I’m looking forward to what you have planned.”
The first stop, for Anthy at least, is the tattoo parlor.
Utena stretches nervously as Anthy looks over the design she drew up for her consideration.
“I figured since you’ve been around a long time that you’d want something that would last a long time too.” The design she came up with was a pocket watch for the back of Anthy’s hand with the chain wrapping around her wrist. “If you don’t like it, I could just buy you a matching watch to go with mine--”
“You’re not getting a tattoo, Utena?”
“I...well...you know how it is…”
“I know how lots of things are,” Anthy says, folding the paper with the design neatly and setting it in her lap. “Do you want a tattoo?”
Utena stands up straight and scratches her neck.
“They are pretty neat-looking…”
Anthy takes Utena’s hand and guides her down into the seat next to her.
A few hours later, Utena watches the hands on Anthy’s tattoo tick the time away perfectly as her own watch likes hidden under a glamour specially made by her wife.
The next stop is the courthouse.
“Thanks for letting us borrow your house again, Juri. It’s just suited to fancy parties.”
“My house is suited to parties too--” Nanami starts, but Kozue elbows her and she yelps.
“Anthy doesn’t want to be indebted to you, dumbass,” she mutters into her drink.
Nanami gasps.“What did you just--?!”
“Girls!” Juri barks, and then more quietly to Utena. “I’m sorry about them.”
Utena shrugs. She knew what she was getting into when she invited all these fucks to the reception. Juri compliments the outfit Anthy made for her, and not being as well-versed in clothing words, Utena compliments her back. Nanami, Kozue, and Wakaba descend like hawks, speaking words of fashion that might as well have been from another language.
She diligently holds the fort until Anthy returns from talking with Shiori, two drinks from the bar in hand, a true saviour in pink pants. Anthy takes the compliments given to her with grace and ease and answers those in-depth fashion questions well enough that they’re soon free to slip away and talk by themselves.
“Feeling overwhelmed?” Anthy asks, sipping her drink.
“Just nerves, I guess. I can’t believe we’re actually married, Himemiya. A-and I should be asking you the same thing! I thought you didn’t like crowds?”
“I’m fine. Nine people is hardly a crowd.”
Utena pecks her forehead and sips her drink, but as she does so she accidentally makes eye contact with Saionji, who cuts off his conversation with Touga so they can both walk up to them.
“Shit. Sorry, Himemiya.”
Anthy sighs and hands off her drink to Utena.
“You two look lovely,” Touga says, looking them over a little too much for anyone’s comfort. Luckily, Saionji taps him on the back of the head.
Who knew that the two of them being in a relationship was actually a universal good, even if the state of their apartment was the opposite?
Saionji clears his throat.
Saionji recovers quickly from that, but not so quickly from Utena and Touga’s snickers.
“I expect you to treat her right. I’ll have your head if you don’t.”
Utena looks at him. Saionji looks at her.
Utena moves to hand the drinks to Anthy, then reconsiders and passes the drinks to Saionji before guiding Anthy away.