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Lifelong Love Letter

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Part Seven: Get To Be the Other Half Of You

Rachel is dancing on a cloud of bliss—perhaps not literally, at least not right this very second, because she isn't dancing with Quinn, but overall, the entire day has her feeling like she's under a spotlight at center stage in Carnegie Hall and basking in the thunderous roar of a standing ovation. She's imagined what her wedding would be like at various points during her life, in various venues, and with various grooms standing across from her—and she can't deny that they'd always been grooms from the ages of five to twenty-two.

Well—there had been a brief period after she'd seen Yentl for the first time in which she'd imagined her groom to be Barbra Streisand dressed in a crisp, period suit as Anshel, but it hadn't seemed much different to her six-year-old self than imagining Billy Flynn or Han Solo repeating their vows to her. Not every film she's ever been infatuated with has been a musical. She also might have imagined marrying Edward Cullen at one point, but that's certainly not something that bears repeating out loud. It's bad enough that Kurt and Mercedes both vividly recall that particular, unfortunate phase.

She's been imagining Quinn in the coveted role of her other half almost since they'd shared their very first kiss, but that hasn't stopped the wedding venues from occasionally changing—from churches and temples to rooftops, gardens, and wineries. It's always seemed to come right back here to Central Park. It's an oasis of beauty and calm in the midst of the frenzied city, but more importantly, it's the place where Rachel and Quinn had taken their first steps together into the future they both wanted, so it only made sense that it should be the place where they each vowed to never walk any path without the other.

Most of the other details of their wedding and reception were negotiable to a point. Rachel has even been graciously accepting most of the jokes about that other almost-wedding (that really doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as this one because it was so completely ridiculous of her to even consider marrying Finn Hudson at seventeen and think that they could live happily-ever-after before they'd even graduated from high school) because she knows exactly how many mistakes she's made on her way to becoming Quinn's wife.

She's mostly able to laugh at them now, but there are moments when the remembered aftermath of that rushed, rash, non-wedding overwhelm her unexpectedly and leave her shaken to the core—like waiting for Quinn to arrive at the ceremony today while she'd paced the floor and battled the sinking dread in her stomach that there would be another phone call like the one Santana had gotten all those years ago. Rachel can hardly bear to think of it even now.

If nothing else, her youthful folly is at least evidence that Rachel's focus has always been more on the who than the when, where, or how.

She won't deny that having that person be Quinn had opened up a plethora of possibilities that most typical grooms wouldn't have cared to plan with her—like the flower placement, the color scheme down to the napkins on the tables, the flavor and design of the cake and how many tiers, and the list of songs that the band simply has to play. Rachel really doesn't want to compare this experience to the one that she'd had with Finn, but she doesn't need Quinn or anyone else to point out how much better it is to be with someone who was actually excited to sit down with her and look through bridal magazines while they sipped on their wine and planned out the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of their married life together.

Rachel realized very early on that Quinn—despite her long ago, prom-obsessed claim that you can get married as many times as you want (which is absolutely not happening under any circumstances unless she is re-marrying Rachel)—really did want all the trimmings and trappings of a big, traditional wedding day. And Rachel has been more than happy to make sure that all of Quinn's dreams come true, because she gets to be the one experiencing them all with her. They both went a little overboard in their planning at times and a little crazy at others, and she's certain they've gotten on Candace's nerves as much as she's gotten on theirs, but they've manage to pull everything together into a nearly perfect event.

And now Rachel can finally breathe more easily, because apart from a few snafus and glitches here and there—and a near nervous breakdown or four—the wedding has been beautifully disaster-free, and Quinn is finally her wife.

She's already so incredibly happy about everything that entails, but she gets an extra, little rush every time she flashes her ring at someone and reminds them that she's married to Quinn Fabray—cheerio Quinn Fabray, former president of the Celibacy Club.

Those days are far behind Quinn now, unless one counts the last two weeks and Quinn's not-so-brilliant idea to abstain from intimacy in order to make their first time together as wife and wife even more memorable. Rachel had agreed, of course, because it's part of creating the perfect wedding experience, just like she'd agreed to not see Quinn for twenty-four hours before the wedding. She's very glad that torture is over—and the abstinence will be over in a few more hours.

For everyone outside of their circle of friends from Lima, Rachel flashes her ring and reminds them that she's married to bestselling novelist, Quinn Fabray. And, frankly, that's even better than the best version of Quinn's teenaged self—because this Quinn is happy and free and hers.

But the point is that Rachel is married to Quinn Fabray, and she's sufficiently satisfied that everyone here is aware of that fact, even if none of them can fully fathom exactly how happy and blessed Rachel feels today every time she looks at her wife and remembers that she gets to spend the rest of her life with Quinn.

She thinks that she's probably spoken or danced with almost all of their guests by now, and she'd even shared half of an awkward dance with Finn earlier, made all the more awkward by the exaggerated distance that he'd tried to keep between their bodies. Rachel thought it might have been for Quinn's benefit, but—

"Um, Harm is a little weird about you," Finn had admitted with flushed cheeks, watching his still-clumsy steps through the five inch gap between them.

Rachel's feet, arms, and back had been begging for relief by the end of the dance. She'd forgotten what an ungraceful dancer Finn can be and how uncomfortable their height difference had been, especially after so many years of fitting so perfectly with Quinn. Still, it was nice to chat with him for a few minutes about their respective lives, even though Finn had sadly confessed that he doesn't really talk to anyone from high school anymore outside of an occasional stilted conversation with Kurt.

Finn's isolation from everyone that he'd once counted as a friend is more than a little depressing when Rachel stops to think about it, though she knows how easily people can drift apart. She and Quinn don't actually see much of the old gang either outside of Kurt and Santana. Noah occasionally takes the time to say hello when he's in the area visiting Beth, and they both still touch base with Mercedes by email or text a few times a year, but other than that, their connections to their former schoolmates are threadbare at best. Neither of them were even able to find Mike Chang to extend an invitation.

Finn seems to have made a new life with new friends in much the same way that Rachel and Quinn have done, but there's no denying how happy he seems today to be able to reconnect with his old friends. So she certainly can't begrudge him his current attempt to reconnect with Quinn, even though it means that her wife is once again being subjected to Harmony's enthusiastic fangirling.

The couple had snagged Quinn right after her dance with Sarah ended, and Rachel had been still chatting with Josie as they slowly walked back to the table, so she hadn't been able to rescue Quinn right away. She debates heading over there now, but Finn gestures for Quinn to dance with him, leaving Harmony alone to wander back to the dessert spread.

That leaves Rachel currently unattended and fair game for Jesse St. James. She's mostly fond of him ninety percent of the time, but that other ten percent leaves her rolling her eyes and wondering why she'd ever been seduced into dating him in the first place. Quinn is only ten percent fond of him and ninety percent annoyed by his occasional, unannounced visits to New York, during which he inevitably attempts to convince Rachel that they could have been the golden couple of show business had she chosen him. His invitation had been in and out of their outgoing mail pile several times before they'd agreed that they should invite him, if for no other reason than to collect an additional wedding gift.

"I have to admit, you make a stunning bride," Jesse compliments with his patented charming grin. "Of course, you would have been more stunning if I was your groom."

"Jesse," Rachel warns.

He chuckles, raising his champagne glass to her in a silent toast. "But, as far as women go, Quinn complements you nicely. I'm genuinely happy for you."

"Thank you," Rachel murmurs graciously as she glances at Quinn again—the dance that she's sharing with Finn at least appears to be slightly less uncomfortable than the one he'd shared with Rachel. Seeing them together brings back a strange echo of high school, and Rachel wonders now how she'd never noticed that her eyes had always been on Quinn at least as much as they'd been on Finn.

"I do expect you to keep me in mind for your second marriage, of course," Jesse informs her before taking a sip of his drink.

Rachel scowls at him. "There won't be one."

"That's what they all say," Jesse dismisses easily. "I've been the dalliance of more than a few bored housewives, you know. I've even met one or two potential liaisons here tonight," he admits with a smirk. "It really is a shame that I don't live in New York."

"At moments like this, I'm glad you don't," Rachel grumbles, thinking that this conversation is quickly falling into the ten percent category.

Jesse presses a hand over his heart. "You wound me deeply."

Rachel shakes her head. "Sometimes I wonder why I," she trails off with a frown when her eyes catch on Finn and Quinn. At some point, they stopped dancing, standing at the edge of the dance floor instead—Finn towering over Quinn with his hand on her shoulder, and Quinn with her head bowed as she clutches something in her hand.

"What? What's wrong?" Jesse asks.

"I...I don't know," Rachel whispers in concern, feeling her heart twist at the sight of her wife not smiling for the first time today.

"Hmmm. It seems your ex still hasn't mastered the simple mechanics of dancing," Jesse muses, but even as he says it, Quinn shakes off Finn's touch and races out of the room. "Oh, that doesn't look promising," Jesse concedes while Rachel's stomach drops to the floor.

Finn spares a guilty glance in Rachel's direction before he hurriedly follows after Quinn.

"Excuse me," Rachel barely mutters before she's chasing after the both of them with her hands curled into fists and her jaw clenched. She doesn't know what she just witnessed, but she knows that Quinn isn't happy, and that means that Rachel isn't happy.

She finds Finn hovering in front of the door to the ladies' room, looking like he's about to the pull the handle and go inside.

"Finn Hudson," Rachel growls, pointing an accusatory finger in his direction. "What did you do?"

Finn lets go of the door handle as he turns to face Rachel, shaking his head. "Nothing. I swear. I just wanted to show her this list I made and…"

"You upset her," Rachel accuses heatedly.

"Not on purpose," he defends. "I wouldn't have even said anything if I knew she was gonna start crying."

Rachel gasps, pressing a hand to her heart. "She was crying?" she asks shakily.

No, no, no. This is not acceptable. Only happy tears are allowed today.

"Look, I'm sorry. I guess I'm still pretty bad at this stuff," Finn apologizes dejectedly.

Rachel puts up a hand to stop him from saying anything else. She can't listen to him right now when her only concern is Quinn. "Just...go back to your wife and let me take care of mine," she demands, pushing past him to get to the door.

She sees Quinn the moment that she walks inside the bathroom, leaning heavily against the countertop that holds the sinks and staring down at a crinkled and folded piece of paper in her hand. Rachel can see the tears glistening on her cheeks, and her stomach twists and flips unpleasantly.

"Quinn, baby. What's wrong?" Rachel begs, slipping into the space next to Quinn and wrapping an arm around her waist. She reaches up with her free hand to cup Quinn's cheek and softly brushes at the moisture beneath her touch with the pad of her thumb. "What stupid thing did Finn say to upset you?"

Quinn closes her eyes and shakes her head, a small smile curving her lips. "He didn't upset me. He gave me this," she explains as she holds out the paper for Rachel to see.

Rachel drops her eyes down to see a well-worn piece of ruled notebook paper, slightly smudged with what looks like ink (or possibly grease) and sporting a wet patch on the upper right corner from Quinn's tears. She recognizes Finn's sloppy script scrawled in about four different colors of ink.

"What is it?" Rachel asks, taking the page from Quinn.

"Just read it," Quinn urges softly.

Rachel reluctantly focuses her attention on the paper. The very first sentence reads, Times it was all about Quinn, and she frowns in confusion, not really understanding what that means until she reads the next few sentences. Her breath catches on the sudden lump in her throat, and her arm falls away from Quinn's waist as she leans back against the counter and holds on to the paper with a shaking hand.

Times it was all about Quinn, she silently reads again.

Rachel postponed our wedding to wait for Quinn.

She didn't want to leave the hospital.

She cried for like an hour after she saw Quinn in the wheelchair.

Said she still looked beautiful.

Rachel presses trembling fingers against her lips as her eyes fill with tears—just a few words on a piece of paper instantly bringing back all of the emotions that she'd felt in those moments. The nerves and worry and dread that sank like an anchor in her stomach as she'd paced the hallway in the courthouse, obsessively checking her phone for a message from Quinn because she promised to be there. And Quinn always kept her promises to Rachel, even then.

The surreal sensation of the world crumbling to ashes beneath her feet after Santana had brokenly told them that Quinn had been rushed to the hospital. All the light and air and color being drained from the room around her as she fell to the floor in tears.

The paralyzing fear that had twisted her insides into knots as they'd waited for word on Quinn's condition. Arguing in vain with her dads that she should stay at the hospital before defying them after they'd dragged her home by coming back before the sun had even risen the next day—because she needed to be close to Quinn and be there the moment that she woke up. Begging every deity in existence across every religion that Quinn would wake up.

The overwhelming guilt and regret at seeing Quinn faced with yet another setback and hardship to overcome in her life, and knowing that she couldn't undo what had been done. Thinking that despite all of it, Quinn was still the prettiest girl that she'd ever met, and so very much more than that.

Rachel glances up at her wife as Quinn reverses their positions from just a moment ago, coiling an arm around Rachel's waist and holding her lightly. It isn't enough for Rachel, and she leans into Quinn's strong body, slipping an arm across her back and reveling in the solid warmth beneath her fingertips as she continues to read what Finn had written.

She already knew all this detailed stuff about Quinn before we even joined glee.

Well, Quinn had become the head cheerleader at only fifteen—of course Rachel had taken the necessary time to learn everything there was to know about the girl. It hadn't seemed the least bit odd to her at the time, nor had the fact that she really hadn't cared to make the same effort to learn anything about Finn Hudson until after he'd opened his mouth to sing in glee club.

She gave Jew-Fro her underwear to protect Quinn.

She told me how to get a job to pay for Quinn's medical bills.

Asked all the time if Quinn was taking care of herself when she was pregnant.

She told me to make sure Sam was a decent guy when he started going out with Quinn.

Asked me what it felt like to kiss Quinn.

Rachel blushes—she won't even try to excuse that one. She'd legitimately wanted to know, no matter how she'd tried to reason away her curiosity as jealousy at the time. She's so very happy that she was finally able to discover the answer first hand and in glorious detail.

She told me she wrote "Get It Right" because Quinn inspired her.

Told me I was a jerk for breaking up with Quinn at a funeral.

That was just the truth.

She went after Quinn when I got kicked out of prom. Not me.

Rachel smiles a little, knowing that she'd followed after an upset Quinn on several occasions—today included. She knows she always will.

Wanted Quinn's blessing to marry me. It really bugged her that Quinn didn't approve.

It always bugged her when Quinn didn't approve of something.

Frankly, it still does.

She called Quinn's weird punk phase "unexpectedly titillating."

Titillating doesn't mean flashing her boobs. It means hot.

Rachel laughs after reading that one.

"Unexpectedly titillating?" Quinn questions knowingly.

Rachel nods as she gazes at Quinn. "You were, you know? Very much so."

Quinn smiles and presses her forehead against Rachel's temple. "Keep reading," she whispers, so Rachel does.

She said she didn't want to watch me getting all the attention from the pretty blonde cheerleader.

I think she meant  she  wanted Quinn's attention.

She voted for Quinn for prom queen. Both times.

She hated Joe Hart. Said he wasn't right for Quinn.

He wasn't. Rachel had been very right about that one on every level.

I never saw her smile as big as she did when she told me Quinn bought them both train tickets.

She said the thing she was proudest of was finding a way to be Quinn's friend.

She told me to get Quinn a gardenia with a light green ribbon to match her eyes.

Knew what color would match Quinn's eyes.

Harmony just told me gardenias mean "you're lovely." Also secret love. Sounds about right.

"Exactly right," Rachel agrees quietly, brushing away the tears that had reformed after reading Finn's final observations about her feelings for Quinn.

"He told me that he's been working on that list for the last few months," Quinn informs her in quiet awe. "That he wanted me to know that…that even when you were with him, you never stopped thinking about me."

"I can't believe he did this," Rachel murmurs, as impressed that Finn would want to make this list as she is that he actually managed to remember all of that—or even noticed it, really.

"It was sweet," Quinn admits, lightly fingering the paper in Rachel's hand. "It made me remember why I dated him. Twice," she adds with a small laugh.

Rachel nods. Finn does have his moments—it's part of the reason that she almost married him once upon a time. Still, she knows without a doubt that she ultimately made the right choice, and she carefully sets the paper aside on the counter before she turns into Quinn, kissing her softly and wrapping both arms around her wife's back to hold her. "I did want your attention," she confesses quietly. "And your approval. And to know what it feels like to kiss you."

Quinn laughs. "Well, you got your wish. All of them."

Rachel leans back just enough to admire every soft line and delicate feature on Quinn's face, losing her breath all over again at the knowledge that this woman loves her—chose her. "I love you so much, Quinn."

Quinn's arms tighten around her waist. "I love you, too, Rach."

Rachel sighs happily and melts into Quinn, unwilling to leave this moment just yet, even though they're both a mess of sentimentality and tears right now, and she knows they have a banquet room full of guests who will undoubtedly be missing them at any minute. And speaking of that—

"Ay, dios! What's wrong now?" Santana demands, interrupting their quiet embrace as she comes storming into the bathroom with Brittany right behind her.

Rachel reluctantly lets go of Quinn, who attempts to conceal the evidence of her tears and reassure Santana that it's, "Nothing."

Rachel picks up two of the linen towelettes that the Boathouse provides for its guests and hands one to her wife. "Quinn and I were just having a moment," she explains vaguely before she turns to the mirror to assess the damage to her makeup.

Santana crosses her arms and scowls. "Does it have anything to do with Wreck-It Ralph out there asking me to fetch you like I'm his very own personal Fix-It Felix?"

Quinn glances at Rachel with a hint of regret that Rachel shares. She hadn't even considered that Finn might still be out there waiting for them after the way she'd dismissed him earlier. She really does need to apologize to him. She's not certain why she immediately jumped to the worst possible conclusion but seeing Quinn upset and in tears always has fired up every one of her protective instincts.

"Finn's outside?" Quinn verifies before she looks herself over in the mirror and begins to artfully remove the traces of her tears without leaving her makeup in further disarray. It's a skill that Rachel has always envied and never quite mastered.

"Yeah. Pacing around like he needs to ask your permission to take a crap," Santana confirms crassly, but there's genuine concern in her expression that she really doesn't attempt to hide. "I can go out there and kick his ass if you need me to."

Brittany nods in agreement. "I'll totally help."

"That's not necessary. I think Quinn and I are more than capable of handling this," Rachel assures them with a smile before her gaze drifts to Quinn, who nods in agreement as she carefully collects the list that Finn had made for her. Rachel lightly lays a hand over Santana's arm. "But thank you for the offer."

It's nice to know that Santana is looking out for them despite her obvious preoccupation with Brittany. The two of them have been together for most of the night, and while Rachel isn't sure exactly what's going on between them, she hopes whatever it is works out for Santana. She thinks that maybe Brittany is the reason that Santana has never quite been ready to settle down with anyone else.

Rachel gives into her impulse and quickly kisses Santana's cheek, giggling at the inelegant grunt that she gets as an answer. Quinn laughs too, following behind Rachel and stopping to kiss Santana's other cheek. "Yes, thank you, Santana," she chirps sweetly before entwining her fingers with Rachel's .

Rachel hears Santana's disgruntled, "Oh, get out of here you sappy bitches," as she and Quinn step out into the hallway, and just as she told them, Finn is right there, pacing back and forth along the length of the hall.

The moment he sees them, he moves in front of them with a remorseful frown. "Quinn. Look, I'm really sorry. I guess I wasn't thinking how some of that stuff probably had a bunch of bad memories for you."

Quinn shakes her head, letting go of Rachel's hand so that she can place her palms against his shoulders, and, pushing up on her toes, she presses a soft kiss to his cheek. Finn's eyes widen in surprise before Quinn pulls back with a smile. "Thank you, Finn. That was the perfect wedding gift."

Finn glances uncertainly between them until Rachel nods, letting her own soft smile bloom until he's reassured that, "It really was."

Rachel can see the relief spread over his face, and his mouth quirks into a crooked grin. "Um...yeah. We got you a card too. And a gift certificate," he adds, shoving his hands into the pockets of his trousers. "Well, Harm did, but I helped pick out the card. It's not much because we have to save our money for the baby and everything," he tells them with an apologetic shrug.

"Baby?" Quinn repeats in surprise, beating Rachel to the punch as the meaning of the word registers.

Finn's grin transforms into a proud smile. "Oh...ah, yeah. I'm gonna be a dad," he confesses happily, chuckling a little. "For real this time."

There was time when the news probably would have left Rachel reeling—even after they'd broken up for good. After all, she'd spent four years of her life imagining that she would be in love with Finn forever and that she would be the one having his children (albeit many, many, many years in the future after her shelf was lined with every conceivable award available in the entertainment industry). But now—all she feels is incredibly happy for her friend.

"Finn, that's wonderful," she exclaims, rushing forward to give him a hug. "I'm so happy for you."

"Congratulations," Quinn offers from beside her, stepping in to give him a hug of her own as soon as he lets go of Rachel. "I know you'll be a good dad," she tells him sincerely, and Rachel bites her lip as she watches them because she remembers everything that they'd both gone through in high school—Finn thinking that he'd been Beth's father for so many months and Quinn wanting so desperately for her lie to have been the truth.

"Thanks," Finn murmurs, closing his eyes as he rubs Quinn's back once before he lets go. "We're not really telling a lot of people yet. It's still kind of early, you know?" he admits, looking at them with eyes that silently ask them not to go making any announcements.

"Your secret is safe with us," Rachel promises, slipping her hand back into Quinn's. "And I'm sorry for jumping to the wrong conclusions before," she tells him contritely.

"It's cool," Finn dismisses, running his hand through his hair. "So...I'm gonna go dance with my wife," he informs them, gesturing back to the Lake Room. "You should do that too."

"I think we will," Rachel agrees, squeezing Quinn's hand. Quinn grins and gazes at her lovingly, and they both follow Finn back into the reception. He stops to gallantly hold the door for them both, smiling as they pass him and enter the room, before he slips in behind them, nods, and heads for his wife, who seems to be chatting with Jesse now.

They make a stop at the bridal table so that Quinn can carefully tuck Finn's list into a safe place, and as they're doing so, Rachel watches Finn scowl at Jesse before he persuades Harmony out onto the dance floor. She looks positively thrilled at the attention.

"You know, I almost feel guilty now for trying to avoid Harmony today. I remember how crazy pregnancy hormones made me," Quinn muses once she notices the direction of Rachel's gaze.

Rachel chuckles. "Oh, I'm not sure that can be blamed on the hormones."

Quinn arches an eyebrow. "I hope you're only referring to her."

Rachel stifles her grin. "Of course, baby," she reassures her wife, gifting her with a soft kiss that she's very tempted to deepen—until they're rudely interrupted.

"I trust this means that all is well between Houses Fabray and Hudson."

Quinn groans against Rachel's lips before Rachel reluctantly pulls away. "We're fine. Thank you, Jesse."

"Good. Good," he enthuses, clapping his hands together once in emphasis. "I did worry for a moment that I was witnessing the beginning of another love triangle. Or square," he amends with a slight frown, glancing around the room in amusement. "Or...well, there are potentially too many angles to count."

"Why did we invite him again?" Quinn asks.

"I'm beginning to wonder that myself," Rachel confesses. Knowing Jesse, his wedding gift is probably a framed picture of himself for them to admire.

"You obviously wanted to add a touch of class to your soiree," Jesse point out with a smug smile.

"Did he say ass?" Quinn questions with a sly grin, making Rachel giggle. "Because I'm sure that's what I heard."

Jesse smiles wanly. "Rachel obviously chose you for your superior wit and not merely your unparalleled beauty," he observes. "In either event, I am admittedly very jealous."

Quinn seems to consider this, pursing her lips thoughtfully before she nods. "I don't have a problem with that."

"It's our goal to make everyone jealous today," Rachel agrees.

"Well, you're certainly doing a fine job of it."

"We know," Rachel informs him.

"And now we're going to dance," Quinn announces, taking Rachel's hand. "If you'll excuse us?" she recites politely, but she doesn't bother to wait for Jesse's disgruntled agreement before she's leading Rachel away.

It's not exactly a slow song—the band is playing a cover of Jason Mraz's "Lucky" that Quinn requested and Rachel couldn't veto after Quinn insisted that, "I would have rather been singing it with you." They both know it wouldn't have really been true at the time, because Quinn's feelings for her didn't really solidify until much later, and they both remember how resistant Quinn had been to singing their one and only duet back in high school. Rachel also made sure to slip the arrangement for that mashup to the band just in case, but she hasn't been able to convince Quinn to sing it with her. The Fabray women can be awfully stubborn about certain things.

But that doesn't bother Rachel much right now because Quinn is once again happy and smiling and singing a few lines of the song to Rachel as they dance, and it's wonderful. She spots her dads dancing together nearby, along with Mercedes and Dante, and at some point, Santana and Brittany made their way back into the room, and now they're laughing as they try out some old dance moves that Rachel recognizes from their high school days. Everyone is having a good time together at her wedding, and it's so much better than anything that she'd ever dreamed as a child. Well—except for the lack of Barbra Streisand as either her "groom" or her wedding singer.

After another upbeat song where she and Quinn are able to dance with a small group of their friends, Candace nearly tackles them and tells them, "It's time to toss the bouquets. We have forty-five minutes to wrap this up."

As much as Rachel wants the night to last forever, she's also looking forward to finally being alone with Quinn. She has plans for her wife tonight and for the next several nights to be honest—tomorrow will take them to the Hamptons and a canopied king-sized bed, luxury shower, sauna, and private pool—but tonight involves a short drive to the Plaza Hotel where an Edwardian Suite awaits them. So when Candace brings them their bouquets, she's more than ready to toss hers at someone and start counting down to the moment that she'll finally get her wife all to herself.

Rachel had originally suggested that Quinn could toss the bouquet and she could toss the garter (or vice versa since she isn't exactly opposed to having Quinn crawl under her dress during the reception), but Quinn rolled her eyes and told her that they were both the brides so everyone would just have to deal with two bouquets. But—

"We're not discriminating," Quinn announces from the stage after the band has called everyone to gather around. "Boys, you can catch it for your ladies. Or for your gentlemen," she adds with a wink. "You all get two chances at being the next down the aisle."

"You can keep both of mine," Santana shouts from the back of the crowd, drawing some laughter. She steadfastly stays back there with her hip cocked and a glass of wine in her hand, as do Mercedes and her fiancé because they're already planning their own walk down the aisle. A few of the guys, like Steven, Peter, and Sam, hang back there with them while others head to the bar, and the already marrieds, like Finn and Quinn's friend, Jason, and their wives, stand off to the side watching.

"Ready?" Quinn asks, waiting for the chorus of affirmative cheers before she turns around and puts her back to the crowd.

Rachel watches her give it a good toss, sending it up into a high arc before it drops down right where Josie and Sarah are standing. They both reflexively reach for it, and it bounces off Josie's palms and into Sarah's waiting hands. Quinn turns around in time to see Sarah's shy grin and Josie's wide smile and thumbs up sign.

"Nice aim," Rachel compliments her with a laugh.

Quinn grins. "Thanks, sweetie. Try not to land yours in the chocolate fountain," she teases before she pecks Rachel's pouting lips. Really, her aim isn't that bad. The chocolate fountain is much too far away for her to send her bouquet sailing into it. She thinks.

"Ready for chance number two?" Rachel asks them.

"Should we get some helmets?" Santana heckles. Rachel frowns at her as everyone laughs at her expense, even her fathers. So much for family loyalty.

"A hundred bucks says she can't get it past the edge of the stage," Noah chimes in.

Kurt raises his hand. "I'll take that bet. Her arm strength has improved since high school."

"Wonder why," Santana snarks with a wicked grin.

Rachel huffs, stomping her foot on the stage as she clutches her bouquet and turns her back to everyone, not particularly caring anymore whether they're ready or not. Quinn steps close and rests a hand on her wrist before she can toss it, leaning in and whispering, "Aim for Finn."

Rachel narrows her eyes at her wife. "Why would I do that?" she asks with a frown, briefly glancing over her shoulder to where Finn is standing with Harmony.

Quinn's eyebrow arches. "Do you trust me?" she challenges playfully.

Rachel sighs. She trusts Quinn with her life, and her heart, and apparently the tossing of her wedding bouquet, so she closes her eyes and thinks of where Finn is standing before she grips the bouquet with both hands and whips it over her head as hard as she can.

She hears riotous laughter greet her effort at the same time Santana sputters, "What the fuck?"

Rachel frowns as she turns, thinking that Quinn convinced her to do something embarrassing, only to realize that Santana is gripping an upside-down bouquet in her hand with an annoyed glare aimed at Rachel, and there's a very telling stray gardenia stuck in her hair. Quinn laughs and claps before she hugs Rachel to her side. "And that's how you do it," she crows proudly, pressing a kiss to Rachel's warm cheek.

"Pay up, Puckerman," Kurt demands with a smug smile, holding out his hand for his winnings.

Noah laughs and digs for his wallet. "Totally worth the money to see Santana get beaned with a sonic bouquet."

Quinn steps down off the stage and holds out a hand to help Rachel down after her. Rachel accepts it happily, and together they walk through the lingering crowd of their guests until they're standing in front of Santana. "Guess you needed that helmet after all," Quinn points out with a smirk.

Santana shifts the bouquet into the hand that's holding her now empty wine glass and flips them both off, but there's an impressed smile pulling at her lips. "Yeah, well…you best be glad I'm not walking down any aisles anytime soon, because I'm gonna have you bitches in the ugliest bridesmaids' dresses known to man. I'm talking camouflage, drop waist tunics," she promises, and Rachel has a feeling that it's not just an empty threat.

Brittany pulls Santana's attention back to her as the band begins to play "I Won't Give Up," and Quinn turns to face Rachel with a grin. "I'm officially claiming the rest of your dance card, Mrs. Fabray," she vows before escorting Rachel back to the center of the dance floor and slipping her arms around Rachel's waist.

Rachel sighs as she loops her arms around Quinn's shoulders. "I really do love the way that sounds."

"So you've been saying all day," Quinn reminds her with laughter in her voice.

"But it sounds even better when you say it. All low and rumbly." Actually, everything sounds better when Quinn says it—a fact that had first tickled at Rachel's awareness as far back as their senior year of high school. And she especially loves the way her name—every variation of it—sounds in the husky tones of Quinn tremulous alto.

"Rumbly?" Quinn questions in amusement.

"It's almost like you're purring," Rachel informs her with a playful grin. "And you know how I love to make you purr."

"As much as I love to make you sing off key," Quinn replies wickedly.

Rachel gasps in mock affront. "I never sing off key."

Quinn laughs. "We'll see about that later tonight."

Rachel lightly trails her fingers across the back of Quinn's neck, making her hum in pleasure. "Challenge accepted, Mrs. Fabray."

Quinn's eyes fall closed for a moment as she sighs around a soft smile. "Have I mentioned how much I love the way that sounds?"

"I don't believe you have," Rachel realizes. "But I'll be happy to call you that as many times as you like," she offers. "Perhaps I'll even scream it once or twice."

"Oh, it will be more than twice," Quinn promises with a sexy smirk. "And off key."

Rachel laughs and shakes her head, silently conceding that it probably will be. Quinn has a knack for reducing her to a mess of incoherent rambling and moans, and it has been two weeks. Rachel somehow doubts that she'll be able to stay quiet tonight even if she had a reason to try—which she certainly does not. She takes some comfort in the fact that she has the same effect on Quinn.

"I'm so happy I get to be your wife," Rachel murmurs, gazing at Quinn with all the love in her heart.

Quinn's smirk transforms into an adoring smile. "So am I. As much as I've loved everything about today…the ceremony and being here with all of our friends and family…the best part…the very best part is you, Rachel. Knowing that my life is joined to yours, for better or worse."

"For better," Rachel is quick to assert. "It's always better with you."

Quinn's eyes glisten as she holds Rachel closer, pressing a soft kiss to her lips as they dance together—once again oblivious to everything but each other. Rachel shifts closer into her wife's embrace, savoring the way their bodies mold together as the music washes over them and knowing that this moment, this woman, this love is so much better than anything that she'd ever imagined. No matter how messy or imperfect their life together has been and would probably continue to be at times, it's real, and it's beautiful. And it's theirs.

And it's just the beginning.