Weddings were unfamiliar to Ryoji and Minato. Minato had never had any reason to attend one and Ryoji, of course, hadn’t been human for more than a couple years. But the day the invitation to Hamuko and Shinji’s wedding had appeared in their mailbox, the couple had been looking forward to the event with an eagerness that was almost foreign. It showed in Minato’s face whenever him and his sister discussed the wedding plans at their kitchen table and the week-long tie color decision that Ryoji had insisted on agonizing over. But after nearly two months of planning, cake tasting, music selection, and careful color-coordination, the day was here and the hustle and bustle of excited wedding-goers set an air of excitement.
”Dude, I can’t believe your sister’s getting married.” Junpei had been making the same statement over and over again to the table.
”I know,” Minato replied, ”I’m happy for her.” Minato’s face did little to back his claim-- as per the usual-- but the way his hands moved in excitement as he signed was a clear indicator to his boyfriend.
”It’s not surprising that her and Shinji are the first,” Yukari smiled,”They were highschool sweethearts, after all.”
Ryoji took a sip of his drink and brought a hand to rest on top of Minato’s shoulder, casting a fond smile in his direction. Minato leaned into the touch, watching as his friends talked about each other’s outfits and predicting how Hamuko was going to look in her gown. The only person who had gone with her to choose was Aigis, and so far none of them had seen nor heard a single thing about it. It didn’t help that Aigis had been as firm as a brick wall and wouldn’t spill a single detail despite Junpei and Ryoji’s prodding.
Ryoji felt this warmth spreading in his chest, the lighthearted music playing around them thrumming in time with his heartbeat. The atmosphere made Ryoji feel like he was in a dream, with all the soft, bright colors shining in the midday spring sun. The couple had decided on using a courtyard in the Kirijo manner which Mitsuru had graciously offered to have decorated to full-tilt luxury. She wasn’t the wedding planner per se, but she would definitely be the one who would use her icy composure on anyone or anything that dared to interrupt her friends’ special day. Just the smiles on everyone’s faces was enough to make Ryoji realize just how special this whole ceremony was. Even though he had a considerably larger scope of humanity than he had a few years previously, he hadn’t truly understood what the whole wedding hype was despite his blind enthusiasm. But now that the event was here and everyone was dressed up and buzzing, he couldn’t help but feel that same sense of… something that he couldn’t quite place his finger on.
It wasn’t long before everyone shuffled to find their seats in the main lawn, the bridal party working their way up to the officiator. The two had gone down to Naganaki Shrine earlier in the week for their “official” ceremony with just each other, but had planned a more western-style ceremony for their friends and the other guests. Ryoji had the misfortune of sitting alone since he hadn’t quite slotted into the bridal party, but seeing Minato standing up next to the others as one of Shinji’s groomsmen in his dashing tuxedo almost made it a privilege to get to sit in the seats. Akihiko, Minato, and Ken looked sleek in their matching black outfits; the white lily sticking out of Akihiko’s lapel the only indication that he was the man of honor. And similarly Aigis, Mitsuru, and Fuuka looked beautiful in their petal-pink dresses next to Hamuko’s side, the same white lily fixed into Aigis’ hair. Shinji was standing up at the altar, hands nervously working at his tie. He held his stony composure, but anyone who knew Shinji could tell that his nerves were working just beneath the surface.
The ceremonial music started up and the whole room turned to face the doors leading out of the manner, waiting for Hamuko to step through. And the moment she did, Ryoji could feel his heart pounding at his ribcage. She looked stunning in her gown, all white and long enough that the train ran behind her like rippling water. Her hair had been plaited and framed the soft angles of her face, and something in Ryoji stirred so suddenly and so voraciously that he could feel tears prick at the corners of his eyes. He hadn’t grown up with the romantic idea of weddings or the weight of it all, but the look in Minato and Shinji’s eyes as Hamuko walked down the aisle made Ryoji feel the reason people called their wedding the best day of their lives.
The vows were quick and sweet, and tears were shed by just about all-- especially Junpei, who had practically cried into Ryoji’s shoulder the entire ceremony. When the deed was all said and done the guests retired to the other courtyard for the reception, where the cake was cut and Shinji and Hamuko shared their first dance. Ryoji had grabbed hold of Minato’s hand during, softly swaying to the tune of the beat bumping underneath their feet. Minato was smiling, looking up at his boyfriend from underneath his bangs, and Ryoji couldn’t resist pressing a soft kiss to his lips. He looked perfect in the soft glow of the string lights above them, and if they hadn’t been in public Ryoji wasn’t sure he’d be able to hold back from kissing the living daylights out of him. Throw Minato in a suit and he was putty, apparently.
He was broken out of his trance when Hamuko tapped Minato’s shoulder, asking her brother to come and share a dance with her. He followed her out onto the floor next to where Shinji and Akihiko had decided to dance as well, but not before flashing a familiar, “I love you.” Ryoji mirrored the gesture and walked over to the drink table where an array of very fancy alcoholic beverages were set out before him. He picked up the most colorful one and took a sip, unable to keep his eyes off of his lover where he was dancing with Hamuko. One of her hands were working excitedly to relay all of the details about her and Shinji’s planned honeymoon trip.
”Bro, this is awesome!” Junpei had piped up next to him suddenly, a nearly empty drink in his hand. “Why didn’t any of us get married sooner?” Junpei slung an elbow on Ryoji’s shoulder.
”I don’t know, honestly,” Ryoji smiled fondly at his friend, “This is wonderful. I get why everyone likes weddings so much.” Junpei raised his drink and clinked it with the one in Ryoji’s hand, downing the rest of it in one gulp. Ryoji chuckled and took a sip of his own, too.
”Who do you think’s gonna get married next?” Junpei asked, scanning around the room of people. “My bet’s on Yukari and Mitsuru. They’re a power couple.” Ryoji shrugged, swirling his drink around in his glass. Junpei continued to ramble next to him, and his eyes returned back to Minato. He looked lovely twirling his sister around, the two of them laughing and smiling like they didn’t have a care in the world. It made Ryoji smile and his cheeks heat up despite himself; it was amazing that Minato could still make him feel this way after all this time. But he supposed that was just a sign that things were as they were supposed to be.
”Yo, earth to loverboy!” Junpei waved his hand in front of his face, “You’d think this was your wedding what with all the staring.” His words had no malice, and Ryoji lightly punched his shoulder. His wedding, huh?
After the song was over Akihiko had walked over and asked Hamuko to dance, Ryoji took that as his chance to reclaim his spot next to his boyfriend. As the song switched to a slower tempo, he strode over to where Minato had finished, tapping his shoulder and flashing a grin.
”Hey handsome, it’s been awhile. Want to dance?” Minato rolled his eyes but smiled, nodding and locking hands with the other boy. Ryoji lead him out to the floor and pulled him in close, leaving Minato to rest his head on his chest. Minato moved the hand that had been resting on his shoulder to lay over his heart, letting out a contented sigh.
It felt like the world had melted away, leaving the two of them in each other’s arms. But that was how it had always been, really; the two of them, always hand-in-hand, always supporting each other. Through growing into adulthood, through university and house hunting, through the end of the world-- literally. Even on their worst days, amidst the nightmares and the tugging fear that one day the world will threaten to crash down around them again, Ryoji couldn’t imagine anyone he’d rather be with. Not in this life, and not in any that follow. He had found the other half of his heart, and that much was indisputable.
The duo hadn’t even realized they had danced through the next three songs until Yukari had gotten Minato’s attention and joked that Ryoji was hogging him. As Minato was torn away from him, Hamuko practically tugged him onto the opposite side of the dance floor, giving him a dramatic bow.
”May I have this dance, sir?”
Ryoji chuckled and gave a bow back. “It would be a pleasure, ma’am!”
The two took their positions and began to move, giggling between themselves at their purposefully poor attempt at dancing.
”This was a wonderful ceremony, Hamuko,” Ryoji said after the two had a moment to calm their laughter.
”I have to agree,” Hamuko snarked back, “It was pretty great. And did you see the groom? What a looker.” Ryoji raised his eyebrows, grinning brightly at her. She seemed so happy.
”So how did you guys know you wanted this? I know it’s an odd question, but… I’m still pretty new to this custom, so I’m curious.”
”Well,” Hamuko began, “We were just out on a walk. We had gone to this old cafe that one of our first dates was at and just hung out around the city, and we stopped at this little area on the sidewalk and… He got on one knee and told me that he wanted to spend his life with me. And he proposed, and I said yes. Nothing super glamorous, but it was perfect.”
Ryoji nodded, brows screwed up in thought. “Wasn’t he scared that you’d say no?”
”Maybe,” Hamuko shrugged, “But I think he just knew the time was right. Like, he could feel it, you know?”
”I guess that makes sense,” Ryoji replied. “Well, you seem very happy.”
”I am. Very happy.” The look that Hamuko cast over her shoulder at Shinji wasn’t lost on Ryoji, and he dramatically dipped her on the floor, much to her surprise. She snorted in laughter, and the rest of the dance was full of nonsensical twirling and dramatic ballroom maneuvers that neither of them could pull off for real in a million years.
The rest of the night went on as smooth as could be, ending late into the night when Shinji and Hamuko had to head to the airport for their early morning flight to France. The couple was waved off with fond goodbyes and the others began their trips home, leaving Minato to doze in the passenger seat while Ryoji drove them back to their apartment. The entire way, Ryoji couldn’t keep the smile off his face.
When they finally pulled into the driveway, Ryoji lightly shook Minato awake and they walked back up to their door. Once Minato had gotten inside and hung up his suit jacket on the coat rack, Ryoji had softly grabbed for his wrist, turning the other boy toward him. Minato’s brows furrowed in confusion, but Ryoji just gave him a sweet smile.
”Did you have fun?”
”Yeah. It was great. Seeing Hamuko happy is always good.”
There was a pause between them, but then Ryoji continued.
”Minato, I have to tell you something.”
”What?” The nervousness in his midnight eyes certainly wasn’t lost on Ryoji, as much as he seemed to want to hide it.
”Tonight made me realize something. It made me understand why everyone loves weddings… I mean, the emotion of it. The reason it happens. I didn’t get why it was such a big deal, but now I do.”
”I’m glad you understand.”
”I realized it’s important because it’s kind of like the ultimate show of love, right? And seeing Hamuko and Shinjiro and all of our friends so happy and feeling that happy myself, I think I get the significance. And… It’s about knowing when the time is right. With that being said--” Ryoji fiddled with the ring on his finger, the very same one he had held on to since this body had been gifted to him, and took it off, ”I’m sorry, I wasn’t quite prepared for this.”
Before Minato could even question him, Ryoji dropped to a knee in front of him. Minato’s eyes widened in surprise, steadily realizing what was going on.
”Minato, nothing’s made me feel quite as human as standing next to you. And I want to be with you for the rest of my life. You’re my other half, and I could never imagine a future without you in it. I know I don’t have a proper ring right now, but…” Ryoji’s hands could barely form the words he was trying to say, tears welling up in his eyes before he could even say the damn thing. Curse his emotional nature.
”Minato Arisato, will you do me the honor of marrying me?”
Minato’s hands trembled, face unreadable beyond the shock as he searched for what to say. When his hands couldn’t work he simply nodded, biting hard on his lip; that’s what Ryoji knew he did when he was going to cry. Ryoji leapt back up to his feet and took one of Minato’s shaking hands in his own, sliding the simple band onto the appropriate finger. Minato held his hand up in front of him, toying with the soft silver ring in a sort of joyous disbelief that Ryoji had never seen the boy wear before. The two locked eyes, and in a second Ryoji had pulled him in for a deep kiss. Minato melted into him instantly, hands coming up to tangle in his hair. They were both smiling against each other’s lips, and Ryoji could feel hot tears streaming down his cheeks. He had never felt this before, this feeling of sheer joy surging through his veins easy as blood, turning him warm from the inside out.
When the two finally pulled away, they wrapped their arms around each other, just basking in each others' company. How silly that this should happen in their entryway at nearly four in the morning; it seemed unusual, what with the brief knowledge Ryoji had about proposals. But it was perfect, and Ryoji wouldn’t change a thing.
”Minato Mochizuki,” Minato had motioned it subtly to himself, in the small space between their bodies. Ryoji nodded in affirmation, Minato blushing just the slightest bit at being caught. God, he was perfect.
”Hamuko’s gonna freak out when she finds out about this.”