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For Better or Worse

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After Waverly had slung her backpack over her shoulder at the end of the lecture, she checked her phone, remembering it had vibrated halfway through class.

*One New Message From Nicole Haught*
NH: Can you marry me?

Waverly stopped dead in her tracks on the front steps of the building, causing a couple of students to bump into her. Nicole and her joked around a lot but not like this. As she kept thinking about how to reply, three little dots appeared and a new message followed.

NH: I just got back from the financial aid office and they can’t give me any more aid except for more loans unless I have a child, get married, or turn 24 so I have to get married

The more Waverly thought about it, the more sense it made. She was there on a partial academic scholarship and knew Nicole was in a similar position with basketball. They had both taken out several loans and the amount of money owed was not something Waverly liked to think about often.

WE: Yeah ok I’ll marry you, I’ll need a financial aid application too

NH: Wait seriously
NH: Would you really do it
NH: I’m doing actual research on it
NH: It would have to be soon because I owe school money soon

WE: Let me check how fast we can do it
WE: We’d need a marriage license which is like $30 and THEN we file for a marriage certificate
WE: I’m an ordained minister but I don’t think I can do my own wedding :/

“Waves!” she heard a familiar voice shout across the quad. Waverly realized she was still stuck to the steps, only less confused and more nervous than before.

“This isn’t a joke, right? Like it’s not like the time Wynonna stole your phone and pranked everyone?” Waverly asked the approaching redhead.

“It’s not a joke, I really did just get out of a meeting about my money and apparently my bastard parents put a freeze on my account so I can’t access most of my savings until I’m 25 now,” Nicole paused before adding, “so, you know, marriage.”

“Were you heading to your dorm?” Waverly replied, trying to ignore the butterflies bothering her for some reason.

Nicole shook her head no. “I’m going to the library to do more research on it, wanna come?”

Waverly nodded and asked, “Before we get to the whole, marriage now part, could you, if you feel comfortable, explain to me what’s going on? I get the freeze on the account but I’m confused I thought you lived with your grandparents?”

Nicole wrung her hands together trying to collect her thoughts. “Well, ok so technically when I go home I do stay with my grandparents but it’s not- they don’t- I’m- they um-“

Waverly stopped and turned Nicole to face her. “Hey, only if you want to, and you don’t have to blurt it all out at once. Families are messy I get that,” she finished with a chuckle.

Nicole smiled, looking into warm, hazel eyes that always made her feel safe. “It really is ok, Waves, let me start at the top, yea? I mean you’ll have to know eventually we are engaged.”

Waverly let out a more strangled chuckle at that, Nicole giving her a weird look as they started walking again.

“Anyways,” Nicole continued, “My parents kicked me out because they don’t want me to be a cop, you know that and so I moved in with my grandparents physically, but I’m still technically a dependent of my parents. Purgatory U gave me a partial basketball scholarship which pays for about 75% of my tuition but the rest I pay myself, including all the books and food and housing and etcetera. I thought I would get the money next year when I turn 22 but it’s not the case anymore.”

Nicole took a deep sigh as they walked into the library. Waverly softly said, “I’m in almost the same situation. Not, living wise because…well my academic scholarship covers what yours does and I’m so tired of taking out loans I may never be able to pay back plus most of my parent’s funds went to Willa and Wynonna and I’m working with what I can, so marriage.”

+++

After a few hours of homework and wedding research, they headed to the dining hall to meet up with their friends.

“If one partner commits adultery that’s quicker grounds for a divorce so this won’t affect our dating lives,” Nicole said, offering Waverly her arm as she often did when they walked together.

“Yeah, I was looking at a sample form and it said ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of marriage so staging a fight would also work,” Waverly replied.

“Mhm, although divorce is a lot of money too, lawyer-wise.”

“I don’t think we’d need a lawyer, we wouldn’t really have kids or a house or anything really to divide,” Waverly paused and added, “although there are other things we need to decide on.”

“Oh, like what?” Nicole asked.

“Well, one when are we actually doing this, two when are we telling my sister, and three what’s the plan after?”

Nicole sucked air in at Waverly’s ‘number two’ question, fearing Wynonna’s reaction. “Well, I’m free on Saturday if you want to get married then, there was an opening on the website I checked for that afternoon, and the university actually pays for our housing so we’d move in together soon too, which I wouldn’t mind, and umm never?”

Waverly bumped her shoulder into Nicole’s. “She has to know, or she’ll find out from someone that isn’t us and that’s worse. Plus, I kinda want her to be one of the witnesses, sorta like a fake maid-of-honor in a way for me?”

Nicole groaned as they walked in and Waverly spotted their friends. She pulled Nicole along as she said, “We’re telling them now, yea?”

“What?!” Nicole whispered, panicked.

“Took you long enough,” Wynonna said, dunking a fry into her ketchup and attempting to feed it to Doc.

“Will you stop that, Wynonna, you’re just getting it all over my moustache!” He exclaimed, grabbing a napkin off the top of his hat which he had set almost like a table centerpiece. He was an eclectic dresser studying biology with the hopes of going to dentistry school.

He had met Wynonna at a party their sophomore year around the same time she had begun to date a new addition to her criminology class, Xavier Dolls. Both men had a very on again/off again relationship with Wynonna but had developed a friendship with each other along the way.

Now at the start of their senior year, the group was really unsure of who Wynonna was with most of the time.

“It’s looking good, Doc! I think mine is too,” replied Jeremy stroking the hairs of the newest addition to his face. “I put some serum I made in the lab on it so it would grow quicker,” the junior, chemistry student added.

He and Waverly had met at their freshman year required seminar when they both geeked out over Buffy the Vampire Slayer together. They had also met Rosita in that class during a group project.

“Oh please,” Wynonna retorted, “I could’ve grown a better one when I started puberty, at 13.”

“Pass me a napkin,” Dolls asked Nicole, completely ignoring everything that was said.

“Don’t worry, Xavie-baby, I didn’t forget about you,” Wynonna teased. “It’s ok if you can’t grow a stache.”

“I asked you to please not call me that, Wy,” he replied, “And unlike these two I shave every morning to prevent looking like a wild west reenactor.”

“Hey, sorry I’m late I was at the library,” Rosita said sitting down. “I think I saw you two there but I was tragically working with Champ on a project so I didn’t get to say hello since I was losing brain cells by the second.”

“Library, schmibrary, I’m here for the pretty boys and the free booze,” Wynonna replied, now attempting to toss fries into Nicole’s mouth, the redhead playing along with most of them landing on Waverly next to her.

“Wyn can you stop that, please?! And yes, Nicole and I were at the library researching something big. We actually have an important announcement to make. Nic?” Waverly said.

Nicole looked at her with worried eyes and a slight shake off her head.

Waverly sighed and said, “Nicole and I are getting married.”

A silence fell over the table. Dolls locked eyes with Nicole while Wynonna locked eyes with Waverly.

Jeremy coughed, breaking the trance and added afterward, “Well at least we know it’s not because you’re pregnant.” He continued talking when he realized his joke had fallen flat, “Wait are you pregnant?!”

Waverly sighed, and turned to look at him instead. “No Jeremy, no one is pregnant, it’s not even like a real, real marriage. I mean it’s real but, can you explain it please?” she asked Nicole.

Nicole broke out of her trance and began to talk. “So, I got out of a financial meeting today and as it ends up I’m short on my payments and my parents froze my account so I can’t access most of the money I had been using to pay for loans and school. Getting married means the school legally HAS to give you more aid and free housing and I knew my scholarship and situation was similar to Waves’s, so I asked her to marry me for mutual benefit.”

“It’s just until we graduate and then divorce is super easy too,” Waverly added.

Doc sighed and said, “Well, that’s seemingly mighty honorable of you Nicole, but will it work?”

Waverly answered the question instead. “It should. I read up on all the laws and university guidelines and as long as we just stay married and live in the university housing they give us, it should do the trick.”

“Haught, I want a cupcake do you?” Wynonna interrupted.

“No?” Nicole answered, confused.

“Yeah, you do. Walk with me to the dessert station,” Wynonna replied standing up.

Nicole followed looking anywhere but at her soon to be sister-in-law.

Wynonna grumbled at another student until he moved out of her way. “So, what are your intentions with my sister, Haught?”

“My what? Wynonna, you just heard our intentions it’s for money,” she replied, confused.

“I know that,” Wynonna said, piling desserts on her plate. “What I mean is I know you and Waverly had like, a thing your freshman year.”

Nicole opened her mouth to interrupt but Wynonna continued. “AND I know it was mostly just gooey eyes and weird talking BUT is this about that? What are your intentions?”

Nicole took a steadying breath and spoke. “Wyn, you know you’re my best friend, but Waverly? She’s like my rock. Sure, we were flirty, TWO years ago, but this really is more about the aid. We even spoke about how if we date other people it’s quicker grounds for divorce!”

Wynonna squinted her eyes at Nicole not fully believing her. “And?”

Nicole rolled her eyes and grumbled, “And if anything comes out of it I won’t be mad, exactly.”

“I KNEW IT!” Wynonna yelled out, scaring the kids next to her. “You have to tell her.”

“No way! I promise I’m just focused on financial aid. You know I would never hurt Waverly or do anything to betray her trust. I’d rather have her as a friend than as nothing at all. I promise the marriage is just platonic I swear.”

Wynonna turned to look at Nicole. “Ok, ok, I believe you. You always have been like a walking bumper sticker and the type of person Waverly should’ve been hanging out with since before college.”

They headed back to their table to see Doc and Dolls having an arm wrestling match while Rosita was now the ref. Jeremy and Waverly were discussing something across the table.

“My money's on Dolls right now because I saw him at the gym,” said Wynonna.

“You go to the gym, darling?” Doc fired back.

“Only if Waverly drags me, but no I was on my way to class when I saw him go in.”

“You go to class?” Dolls responded.

“Ouch, how you wound me. You know, I liked it better at the beginning when you two hated each other,” Wynonna shot back.

Meanwhile, Waverly tugged on Nicole’s hand so she would turn from Wynonna’s playful bickering to her and Jeremy.

“Hey, I know this wedding isn’t REAL real but Jeremy was making a point about how it is technically our first marriage and we should do something to celebrate after.” Waverly finished, making the last part sound more like a question.

“Uh, yea sounds good, what were you guys thinking?”

Jeremy cleared let out a squeal and a quick apology for it. “I’m assuming it’ll be just us there so we could either go out to a bar or have a Wayhaught celebration at Doc and Rosita’s apartment.”

Nicole scrunched her eyebrows in. “I’m sorry a what celebration?”

“Wayhaught! It’s your ship name. Like you and Waverly’s relationship name. So, Way and Haught.”

“Gotcha, well I think since it’s a money saving ceremony it’d probably be easier to do it at the apartment.” She turned to Waverly and asked, “What do you think?”

Waverly nodded, saying, “I think that’s best. Plus, Rosita has been wanting to try new drinks and we can pass out at Wynonna’s since she’ll probably stay over with whoever she picks that night.”

“Awesome!” exclaimed Jeremy. “Don’t worry about a thing, I’ll do the planning and make sure it’s a great wedding reception!”

“It’s not real though,” Nicole reminded him.

“It’ll be real enough for me,” he responded.