He catches sight of her across the room. His eyes are wandering around, searching for something, what? He doesn’t know. Doesn’t know until he finds her. She is what he has been searching for. She looks up, momentarily catching his eyes. In that moment, he feels something, an inexplicable urge to know her.
He hangs back after class, hoping to catch her. As she moves out of the room, he grabs her arm. She turns to face him, a small smile on her face. She quirks her eyebrow at him when he fails to speak, and asks him if he wants anything. He chuckles and flicks his hair out of his eyes, introducing himself. They chat for a while before he drags up the courage to ask her on a date.
For their first date, he takes her to a park. They play on the swings, laughing with the joy of reclaimed childhood. They gaze at the stars, shining bright on a clear night. He pulls her to the monkey bars, challenging her to race. She wins by a mile. He claims he let her, but they both know it’s not true. They share their first kiss beneath the monkey bars, with a canopy of stars glinting off their hair.
After a week, they’re inseparable; they do everything together. Her friends start to complain that she isn’t around enough. They tell her he isn’t good enough. They say he dresses funny, listens to weird music, and reads strange books. They say he’s a mystery, and that they don’t like him. She tells them they’re wrong. She knows him, he isn’t a mystery to her. When they desperately tell her she can’t possibly know him after a week, she disagrees. She tells them that not only does she know him better than she knows almost anyone, but that he knows her better than anyone else does. With that, she leaves them speechless, off to find him, to be with him. That’s all she ever wants now, to be with him.
He feels alive when he is with her. He doesn’t have to hide. For so long he was used to being alone, the outcast, the reject, the mystery. It was a lonely existence, but he’s not alone anymore. He has her. She meets his brothers; they instantly love her. His sister takes a while to warm up to her, but eventually the two of them are so close, it’s as if they are sisters. He tells her about his father, how he cheats on his mother, and how his mother pretends nothing is wrong because she doesn’t want to lose her lifestyle. She is the first person at their school he tells of his wealth. He knows she won’t think differently of him, won’t judge him, for having money. She wanted to know him before she knew he was rich, and so he lets her know him and his wealth.
She whispers to him her sadness at having grown up without her father. He holds her as she cries about the lack of affection her mother shows. He reminds her of her greatest attributes when her friends refuse to acknowledge her. She doesn’t have to tell him how much their desertion bothers him, he just knows.
They see the demons in their eyes, and they aren’t scared. They accept each other as they are, and it strengthens their bond.
I wanna hide the truth
I wanna shelter you
But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide
To celebrate their first month of dating, he takes her to a concert. Imagine Dragons, her favorite band. She introduced him to their music, and now he too is a fanatic of the group. When she walked out of her house to meet him at his car, he is stunned. He has always thought her beautiful, but now she is simply breathtaking. Her clothes aren’t anything special. They aren’t particularly expensive either. It’s the way she carries herself. She looks utterly free, at ease.
He got them front row seats. Her eyes grow big when they are directed down the steps. Center stage. It is almost guaranteed she will get a chance to touch Dan Reynolds. He smiles at her joy. She kisses him as the lights dim, delighted in his gift to her.
The show is the best he has ever seen, and she is no small part of that. Dan touches her hand, and she nearly faints from the excitement. The moment she introduced him to the band, he was hooked. He feels a connection to the music, and a connection to her. Together, they share this band, and it adds another layer to their relationship.
When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
This song has become his theme, running through his head. She sees his demons, and she hasn’t run. In a way, it’s his demons that have brought her closer. Sharing his demons with her has connected them in a way he has never felt before.
He wraps his arms around her as they sway to a slow song, her favorite one to date.
Good morning myself
It's been a while since we have talked
And you have changed
For better or worse is yet to determine
But I am sure
That you'll keep living and breathing until this world turns over
This is for the better; he is better with her.
They join the crowd in the enthusiasm of the final song. The energy pumps through the arena, coursing through his veins. What happens next, he owes to this band, to this song. To her, for showing him this.
If you love somebody
Better tell them while they’re here
He turns his head, watching her as she sings and dances in time to the music. In this moment, he realizes, realizes he loves her. Pulling her close, he whispers his love in her ear. She pulls back, looking into his face, and kisses him. She whispers her love against his lips, and his heart swells. He feels complete in a way he never has before. She loves him. And he knows her love is unconditional, just as his is.
‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.
The day they graduate high school is the day they decide to spend the rest of their lives together. There is no ring; there is no proposal; just a promise. A promise of forever, whispered amidst the raucous celebrations around them. Her relationship with her mother has continued to deteriorate, to the point where she won’t even speak to the women. Her mother attends their graduation, but she does not speak to her, preferring the company of him and his family. Despite their own flaws and difficulties, they are more her family then her own mother.
They attend the same college, her on scholarship, and him on his father’s dime. After their freshman year, the find a small apartment with his elder brother. They work well, the three of them. And when Bash’s girlfriend joins them a year later, they create another family, one she cherishes even more because of her sad broken family back home.
She earns valedictorian of their graduating class, and he has never been more proud of her. She delivers her speech with poise, her words resonating across the open field on which they are spread. His heart could almost burst with all the love and pride he feels as he watches her address their peers. When she is presented with her diploma, he stands from his seat as he applauds. His family can be seen off to the side, also standing, clapping, and cheering for her, as much a part of the family as he is. He hears her voice above all others as he ascends the podium to receive his diploma. It’s the only voice he needs to hear.
He pulls her aside after the ceremony, away from their friends, and away from his family – her mother hadn’t been invited to the ceremony. He gives her a speech about how he couldn’t think of a good enough speech as he sinks to one knee, pulling a box from his pocket. Her hands cover her mouth as he presents her with the most beautiful ring she has ever seen. It is simple and elegant. Quietly expensive. She loves it instantly. He waits patiently for her response. She simply nods her head, too overcome with emotion to form words. He slips the ring on her finger, before rising to lift her from the ground, spinning her around with joy. It is when he puts her down than she manages an answer. She whispers her affirmation in his ear as he holds her tight to him.
He fidgets with his jacket, impatiently awaiting her arrival. The doors to the church open, she enters, escorted by his brother. The two of them approach, Bash tall and impressive, her gliding elegantly down the isle. He feels the tears well in his eyes as she nears him. He has never been happier than he is in this moment.
Her smile is so wide he thinks her face may break as he lifts her after the vows. Married, they are married.
He catches sight of a familiar shirt when she passes by him one night. He turns his head from the notebook he has been writing in. Her back is to him, but he still recognizes the shirt. He calls her name, and she turns from the kitchen counter, smiling softly at the sound of her voice. He was right about the shirt, he bought it after the Imagine Dragons concert, the day he knew he loved her.
“Mary, is that my shirt?” He asks her.
She smiles, moving her hand down to rest on her rounded stomach. “Yes. Yes it is, Francis.”
He has never loved her more than he does in this moment.