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One year later

"Jane!" Maura called up the stairs. "You're going to make us late!"

"Coming! Coming!" Jane called back as she bounded down the stairs, but she stopped dead when she turned the corner into the kitchen and laid eyes on her mother. "You look like a unicorn threw up on you," she deadpanned.

"What?" Angela asked in mock innocence as she looked down at her outfit, but she couldn't hold her own laughter for long.

Maura had to admit that Jane's description, while a bit uncouth, was pretty accurate. Angela was decked out from head to toe in everything rainbow. She was wearing a tie die BPD shirt that she had somehow acquired from the precinct; she had paired this with a rainbow grass skirt over khaki Bermuda shorts.

"I'm a proud mama," Angela added with a wide smile, and Jane and Maura both knew that was true. Despite Angela's initial discomfort about their relationship, Jane had been correct. Angela had come around pretty quickly. She loved her daughter and she loved Maura. If they made each other happy – and it was abundantly clear that they did – who was she to ruin that.

Jane smiled at her mother's words before turning to address Maura. "You look adorable," she said softly before giving Maura a gentle, chaste kiss on the lips. Maura smiled into the kiss.

Maura was wearing a fitted black t-shirt that said "Love is Love" in rainbow letters with white shorts. She was also wearing black converse with rainbow soles. Her hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail since it was supposed to be warm today. But what really made her look not only adorable but absolutely beautiful was the wide genuine smile that graced her lips and the twinkle in her eyes.

"We should go," Maura said breathlessly when they separated. "Frankie, Nina, Tommy, and TJ are meeting us there.

"'Kay, let's go," Jane said, gently pushing Maura towards the door by the hip.

The walk to where their group was gathering for the parade was the same distance as last year, but to Maura it felt completely different. Last year, her anxiety was threatening to overwhelm her, but this year, she was excited. She was looking forward to today. This past year had easily been the best year of her life, and she was looking forward to celebrating that with her friends and family but especially with Jane.

When they reached the sidewalk in front of their home, Maura linked hands with Jane, threading their fingers together. Their home, she thought with a smile. Jane had moved in months ago but calling it their home still caused her stomach to flutter.

"Aunt Jane! Aunt Maura!" TJ screeched when she saw his two favorite people approaching. He ran towards them and jumped directly into Maura's arms. She lifted him and swung him around before placing him on her hip.

"Wow! You're getting so big. I'm not going to be able to do that for much longer!" Maura teased the little boy, whose smile lit up the whole area.

"I eats my veggietables," he said smartly, causing Maura to chuckle. "I wanna be as smart as you," he added, shoving his little finger in Maura's face, "and as strong as Aunt Janie."

"Well, if you keep eating your vegetables, I think you will be," Maura said with a smile, using her own forefinger to tap TJ's nose gently.

Jane's heart melted as she watched her girlfriend and her nephew interact. She loved seeing them together. Maura really had a special bond with TJ. The little boy absolutely idolized her. TJ had spent a lot of time with his aunts since he and Tommy had moved back to Boston the previous fall.

Jane was finally pulled from her trance when she noticed the back of TJ's shirt. "Oh, ma, what did you do?" she whined as she used her hand to smooth the back of TJ's shirt, which was printed with a picture of TJ with Jane and Maura. It was one of Jane's favorite pictures, but she was slightly embarrassed to have it printed on a t-shirt.

"Look!" TJ said excitedly, using his own little fingers to hold out the front of his shirt. "My aunts love me!" he said proudly, repeating the words printed on his shirt.

Jane wanted to roll her eyes, but she couldn't bring herself to wipe the smile from her nephew's adorable face.

They entire family had a blast at the parade and festival. TJ especially loved all of the rainbows. He even convinced his Aunt Maura to let him tie a rainbow ribbon around her ponytail. They spent hours exploring the festival together and just enjoying the day.

"We're gonna head out, Janie," Angela said as she walked up to Jane and Maura. Tommy had taken TJ home for a nap a while ago, so it was just Jane, Maura, Angela, Frankie, and Nina left at this point.

"Okay, I think we're going to stay for a little while longer," Jane said, looking to Maura for confirmation and receiving it in the form of a small nod and smile. "We won't be far behind you though."

"Okay, have fun," Angela said, giving each of them a hug.

Jane and Maura both waved their goodbyes to Frankie and Nina before turning back to listen to the live music much like they had the previous year. Jane wrapped her arm around Maura's shoulders and pulled her close. Maura instantly responded by snaking her arm around Jane's waist and resting her head on Jane's shoulder. After a few minutes of standing like that Maura brought her other arm up to circle Jane's waist, pulling her closer, and Jane completed the embrace by wrapping both of her arms around Maura and holding her tight against her body. They stayed like that for a while, just enjoying the atmosphere and the ability to be together.

Jane gently kissed Maura's forehead before asking, "Do you want to walk around a little more before we go home?"

"Sure," Maura replied, reluctantly releasing Jane from her embrace but maintaining contact by grabbing her hand. They walked silently hand-in-hand for a while until Jane paused when they reached the far corner of the park. Maura slowed to see why Jane stopped, and when she turned to face Jane, her heart jumped into her throat as she realized what was happening. Her hands flew to cover her mouth as tears instantly started pouring down her face.

"Maura, a year ago…" Jane started.

"Yes!" Maura cut in, unable to stop herself.

Jane laughed. "You didn't even let me ask!" she said in mock indignation.

"Sorry," Maura said, chuckling, but her smile made it very clear that she was in no way sorry. "Go ahead," she added, waving her hand vaguely in Jane's direction.

Jane took Maura's right hand in her own while Maura's left hand covered her heart. "I love you so much, Maura, more than I ever thought it was possible to love another person. When we started the journey together one year ago, we were both scared, but we got through it together, just like we've gotten through everything else together since we met. And I want to spend the rest of our lives getting through the hard stuff and enjoying the good stuff together. I want to be the person you come to when you're hurting or scared, and I want to be the first person you want to share your good news with. I want to spend the rest of my life trying to make you half as happy as you make me." Jane paused and let go of Maura's hand before lowering herself down on one knee and opening the ring box to show Maura what was inside. "Maura, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"

Maura nodded vigorously as she tried to form words through her tears. "Yes!" she finally choked out. "Absolutely! Yes! I would love to marry you!" Maura reached down and pulled Jane up and into a passionate kiss. Jane instantly wrapped her arms around Maura and returned the kiss with equal vigor. "I love you so much, too," Maura whispered against Jane's lips in between kisses.

Jane smiled so wide that she broke their kiss. She used the opportunity to let go of Maura, once again opening the box, but this time, she pulled out the ring. Maura held out her left hand, which was shaking with the emotions running through her.

Jane slipped the ring on Maura's finger. "It's beautiful, Jane," Maura whispered reverently.

"If you want something different…" Jane started.

Maura shook her head violently but did not take her eyes off the ring or her hand, which remained in Jane's. "It's perfect," she said. The ring was white gold with three twists. Inside the middle twist sat three diamond that were flush with the rest of the ring.

"Um, well I figured you wouldn't want something that could catch on things. I mean, I know you have to take it off for autopsies, so there's actually a chain in the box," she added, holding up the ring box, "but I figured even for other things, you wouldn't want something that could cut through gloves or catch on your clothes or whatever. And the twist forms two intersecting infinity symbols, which I thought were good representations of our infinite friendship and infinite love for each other. Okay, now that I say it out loud it sounds so cheesy, but…"

"I love it, Jane. Really, it's perfect," Maura said vehemently, finally tearing her eyes away from the ring to make eye contact with Jane before pulling her in for another passionate kiss. They continued to make-out for a few moments, and Maura could feel her own arousal threatening to override her rational thought. Before they could do something they would regret, Maura whispered seductively, "Maybe we should take this celebration home."

Jane paused and pulled back only a hair, but Maura could instantly read the look on Jane's face. "Your entire family is going to be there when we get back, aren't they?" she asked with a smirk.

Jane dropped her forehead against Maura's. "Yes," she breathed out, and Maura could hear the intense regret in her voice.

Maura chuckled. Yes, part of her was disappointed that they couldn't go home and celebrate the way she had originally intended, but that was only a small part of her. Most of her actually really wanted to celebrate with their friends and family. Jane, on the other hand, was 100% regretting the planned celebration with their family and friends.

Maura gave Jane a chaste kiss before stepping back from her and putting some space between their bodies. She laughed again at the look on Jane's face. "Well, we should probably get home then," she said. "Besides, the sooner we get the party started, the sooner they'll leave, and we can start our own celebration."

Jane laughed loudly. "You know that's not at all how it works," she said.

Maura laughed, too. "I do, but let's go anyway," she admitted.

They walked home hand-in-hand. After a few minutes, Maura teased, "You were pretty confident in yourself to invite everyone over before I actually said yes."

Jane laughed. She knew Maura was teasing. They had talked about getting married with increasing frequency over the past few months. The proposal was much more about the romanticism of the moment than actually asking a question. They both knew where this was headed.

Jane let go of Maura's hand and wrapped her arm around Maura's shoulders as they walked. "I was sure you'd say yes," Jane said honestly. "Actually, I was slightly worried – okay, worried is not at all the right word – but I was wondering if you'd ruin my plans by asking first."

Maura laughed loudly. "Well, you beat me to it," she admitted.

As soon as they opened the front door, there was an explosion of noise. Angela was on top of them, asking to see the ring before they could even close the door behind them. It wasn't until after she had showed Angela and Nina the ring that Maura looked past her future mother-in-law and noticed who else was present in the room.

Maura's smile grew impossibly larger when her eyes landed on parents – all three of them – and her sister. Maura squeezed Angela's hand before letting it go and walking away. She walked first to her parents, Constance and Arthur. Constance leaned in to give her a (somewhat awkward) hug, and Arthur gave her a kiss on the cheek. Both offered their congratulations and asked to see the ring. Like always, the interaction was a bit formal, but it meant the world to Maura that they were here today.

After a few minutes, Maura left her parents in conversation with Angela as she turned to talk to Hope and Cailin. They both gave her warm hugs and congratulations. Maura was still getting to know her birth mother and sister, but she was so happy that Jane had invited them today.

Neither Maura nor Jane could keep the smiles off their faces as they mingled with their guests. The house was packed with friends and family. Korsak was manning the grill, and Angela had set up quite the spread of food and drinks. It was a fun summer barbeque – exactly the kind of family event that Maura had wanted since she was a child.

Once she had finally had a chance to talk to every one of their guests, Maura was able to get a moment to slip upstairs unnoticed. She had been planning her own proposal, but she didn't want to wait. She found the ring she had purchased for Jane in the very back of the drawer of her nightstand. She slipped the box into her pocket and headed back downstairs.

Maura had never planned to propose in front of people, but since they were technically already engaged, she didn't have the same nerves she would have had if she had been the first to ask. She wanted to share this moment with their friends and family.

Maura found Jane outside talking to Korsak and Angela. She quietly asked Nina to get the few stragglers that remained inside and ask them to come out for a few minutes. When everyone was outside, Maura cleared her throat. "Can I get everyone's attention for a moment?" she asked nervously. Okay, maybe she was still nervous even if there was no chance Jane was going to say no. She was starting to slightly regret her decision to do this in front of everyone, but it was too late. Everyone was looking at her, so she decided to just go for it.

"Jane," she said softly, waving her over. Jane was only standing a few feet from her, but she instantly moved to stand right in front of Maura. Maura locked her eyes on Jane's as she started talking. "Jane, I spent most of my life hiding myself in order to be accepted and liked," she said, and as she talked, the world around her faded. It was only her and Jane, and she could say anything to Jane. Her nerves fell away as she poured her heart out to the love of her life.

"But once I met you, I realized that I no longer needed to change who I was for other people. Even when we were just friends, you made me feel more loved and accepted than I ever had before. It was because of you that I felt safe enough to learn more about myself, to better understand myself, to accept myself. You loved every part of me even when I couldn't always love myself.

"You did all that before we even took the next step, and when we finally did admit our feelings for each other, it was like you lifted a weight I didn't even know was crushing me from my shoulders. I've never been happier than I have this past year. Being with you – being everything with you – it's more than I ever could have hoped for. I never believed that this kind of love was possible, but you have proved me wrong at every turn."

"There's a first time for everything," Jane teased quietly.

Maura smiled as she continued her speech, "Jane, I want this for the rest of my life. I want you for the rest of my life. I know that I can get through absolutely everything with you by my side, and I want to be there every step of the way for you. I want to promise you, in front of all of our friends and family – both today and on the day we get married – that I will always be there for you, that I will always love you because there is nothing in my life that I have ever been more sure of than how I feel about you."

Maura paused as she pulled the box out of her pocket and lowered herself down to one knee. "Jane, I know I've already said yes to you, but I'm hoping that you'll still do me the honor of accepting my proposal. Jane, will you marry me?"

Tears were pouring down Jane's face as she listened to Maura. "Yes," she choked out between sobs. She reached out her hands, pulling Maura up and into a gigantic hug. "Yes, I will marry you," she whispered into Maura's shoulder where she had buried her face.

Maura pulled back slightly, just enough to give Jane a gentle kiss. It was the cheering that erupted from their friends and family that finally pulled them from their bubble. Now it was Jane's turn to be bombarded by their guests asking to see her ring.

Jane couldn't believe how perfect the ring Maura had chosen for her was. Only Maura knew her well enough to choose this unique style of ring. It was a white-gold wrap ring with a small circular diamond at each end of the band. Like Maura's ring, the diamonds were flush with the ring itself.

After at least 30 minutes of having her hand examined by their friends and family, Maura was finally back by Jane's side. She leaned into Jane's side and slipped her arm around Jane's waist. Jane placed her free arm around Maura's shoulders.

"I absolutely love my ring," Jane said so that only Maura could hear her.

Maura smiled as she could read the genuineness in Jane's features. "I'm glad you like it. I know it's not a traditional style, but it seemed right for you. And there's a wedding ring that goes with it. I can show you later, but don't feel like you have to use it. We could also decide we want matching wedding band or something, or we could just find something else that we like. My point is, I bought this for the engagement ring, so don't feel bound to use the wedding right too, but you can if you want," Maura rambled.

Jane laughed. "We'll figure that part out together, but what's important right now is that this ring is perfect for me. To be completely honest, I didn't think there would be a ring in existence that I would actually like. I figured you'd be able to find something I would be able to tolerate, and then I would love it because it came from you. But I actually love this ring, and I love it infinitely more because it's from you," Jane said.

"I'm glad," Maura said with a smile before she leaned onto her tiptoes to give Jane a kiss.

The rest of the party was just as fun as the rest of the day. Both women would forever remember today as one of the best days of their lives. It took a long time for everyone to leave, and to Maura's surprise, her parents were among the last people to leave along with Angela. Angela had of course invited them back for Sunday dinner the next day, and Maura and Jane had asked them to come over earlier so that the four of them could spend time together.

When they were finally alone, Maura was standing on the bottom stair while Jane remained on the ground floor. Since they were both barefoot, this position gave Maura just enough extra height to make her a tiny bit taller than Jane. She had her arms resting on Jane's shoulders, loosely folded behind Jane's back, and Jane was gripping desperately at Maura's hips. They continued their passionate make-out session for a few minutes.

As Maura moved her kisses down Jane's jawline, Jane whispered, "I hope you're okay that your parents aren't staying here. I know that you usually want them here but…"

"It makes sense," Maura said in between kisses. "I love that you surprised me. If they were staying here, it could have ruined the surprise," she said distractedly.

"That was part of it, but it was…it…ohhhh," Jane lost her train of thought when Maura nipped at her earlobe.

Maura smirked as she pulled her face away from Jane slightly. "It was what?" she asked, raising her eyebrow in amusement at Jane's obvious distraction.

Jane blinked a few times before answering, "Oh, um, I didn't think you'd really want your parents to know how vocal their daughter is during sex."

Maura blushed furiously as a smile tugged at her lips.

"And I plan on making you lose your voice tonight," Jane added seductively before leaning in for another bruising kiss.

"Uhhh," Maura groaned as she leaned more of her weight against Jane. "Good thinking."

Jane chuckled.

"Let's take this upstairs," Maura whispered against Jane's mouth.

"Mmm," Jane hummed. "But I know you want to shower first."

"At the moment, I'm having a hard time caring," Maura admitted as she got lost again in the feeling of Jane's lips against her skin.

Jane laughed and the vibrations sent a shiver through Maura's body. She reluctantly stepped back slightly, putting space between their bodies. "At some point, you'll remember that you do care," she teased. "We're both covered in sweat and sunscreen."

Maura pouted, but she knew Jane was right. Eventually, her brain would catch up to her arousal, and at that point, she wouldn't be able to stop thinking about all the germs and chemicals on their skin. "You're right," she admitted grudgingly. "But we'll be quick." Maura started walking up the stairs before turning around and adding, "And separate."

Jane chuckled. "Aww, come on," she whined. "No shower sex?"

"I don't want to wash my hair tonight," Maura explained. "I just want to wash the grime off of my skin. Shower sex with a shower cap on isn't exactly sexy. Besides, I know we can't behave enough for it to even stay on, which means my hair would get wet, and I hate getting in bed with wet hair, even if we won't be sleeping anytime soon."

Jane laughed. "Okay, okay," she relented. "I'll shower in the guest bathroom. Stop talking and start moving."

Maura laughed as she ran up the stairs with Jane not far behind her.

Fifteen minutes later, they were once again engaged in a passionate make-out session, but this time they were lying on their bed completely naked, neither woman having bothered to put clothes on after their showers.

Jane rolled on top of Maura and began kissing down her body. "What do you want?" she asked after she had paid ample attention to each of Maura's breasts.

"Uh, um…" Maura stalled as she tried to decide.

Noticing her girlfriend – no fiancée's indecision, Jane chuckled. "You don't have to pick one thing. We have all night."

Maura laughed. "Okay, I want you to make me come hard and fast, and then, I want you to do it slow and soft…just like our first time," she whispered.

"In other words, you want a quick fuck followed by slow love-making," Jane teased.

"Basically, yes," Maura conceded, but the rest of her thoughts were instantly wiped from her brain as Jane resumed her ministrations. "Oh my god," Maura whimpered. "Yes, yes, yes," she chanted as Jane's fingers worked their magic on her clit. "Ahhhhhh, yes," she cried out when Jane thrust two fingers inside her, but when Jane immediately pulled out, Maura groaned and pushed herself up onto her elbows to see why Jane stopped. "What's wrong?"

Jane laughed at the epic pout on Maura's face. "The patriarchy didn't consider left-handed lesbians when they decided engagement rings belong on the left ring finger," she said before she sucked the cum off her finger and slipped off her engagement ring. She quickly slid her ring onto her right finger and returned her attention back to what she had been doing.

"No, I don't think they did," Maura laughed. "The tradition dates back to ancient Rome. They believed that there was a vein that runs from your left-hand ring finger…oh," Maura was monetarily distracted when Jane once again thrust into her. She fell back against the pillow as the sensations shot through her body like lightening. Still, even in her state of intense pleasure, she couldn't not finish her thought. "Yes, right there…oh, yes, yes, yes…don't stop…faster…oh…the vein from the left-hand ring finger…oh, yes, yes…the vein runs directly to the heart, or so they thought…oh my god, don't stop…faster…harder…yes, yes…it's supposed to connect your heart directly to the love of your li-i-i…oh yes, gah…yes…the love of your life." Maura's hips were moving fast in time with Jane's hand, which was pumping in and out as fast as it could. Jane used her other hand to rub furious circles on Maura's clit, driving her higher and higher. "There's…oh, yes, yes…keep…oh, yes…faster…there's no such vein…oh my god, don't stop. Jaaaaannnnnneeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Maura screamed Jane's name as she fell over the edge. Pleasure pulsed through her body as Jane continued moving her fingers in order to draw out Maura's pleasure.

When the tension in Maura's body released, Jane moved back up the bed to plant a loving kiss on Maura's lips, but Maura had to break the kiss after a few moments as she tried to catch her breath after her climax.

"Only you would give a history lecture during sex," Jane teased.

Maura blushed – if that was even possible given the intense post-orgasm flush covering her body – at Jane's words. She reached up to cup Jane's face and pulled her in for another kiss. They kissed slowly and lovingly for a few minutes before Jane's hands began to explore again. As requested, her hands moved slowly, making sure to caress every inch of Maura's skin before eventually once again making their way to Maura's center.

"Ohhhh," Maura moaned loudly when Jane's fingers slowly slipped inside. "Yes, just like that…nice and slow," she whispered as Jane began moving inside of her. Maura's eyes were closed as she enjoyed the feelings flooding her body. "This…oh, yes, right there…this is still my favorite…please don't stop…don't stop…oh, ah…I love…oh, yes…I love how I can feel every movement, every caress…god, yes…ohhhh…slower…yes, just like that. I never feel more loved and cared for than when you make love to me like this. I love you, Jane." Maura reached out her hand without opening her eyes, and Jane instantly knew what she was looking for. Jane grasped Maura's hand, intertwining their fingers. She rotated her left hand to allow her thumb to gently move against Maura's clit while her fingers inside continued their slow, loving caress. Words continued to tumble out of Maura's mouth as Jane drove her higher and higher. Maura loved this slow, passionate assent. It took nearly 45 minutes for Maura to tumble over the edge as she reached her second climax of the night, and she loved every single minute of it.

In the past year, they had tried many new things, and they had both found that they loved a variety of positions and techniques. They had learned how to read each other at such an intimate level that despite Maura's constant vocalization of her thoughts and feelings, she knew that Jane knew almost before she did how she was feeling. They both knew how much Maura loved the slow lovemaking that they had partaken in that first night, but she was often reluctant to request it because she knew it was hard on Jane's hand and wrist. It didn't matter though because Jane always seemed to be able to tell when Maura wasn't being forthcoming about what she wanted.

Jane cuddled into Maura's side as she came down from her most recent high, but Maura couldn't hold back long. After a few minutes of recovery, she moved on top of Jane, beginning her own worship of Jane's body. Just like Jane had learned her favorite path to orgasm, Maura knew Jane's. To Jane's immense surprise, they had discovered that Jane loved when Maura would go down on her, and that was exactly what Maura was planning to do now.

Maura kissed, licked, and nipped at every inch of Jane's skin before she even touched where Jane wanted her most. She had Jane squirming underneath her within minutes, but she didn't let up. She knew that despite Jane's pleas, she loved the foreplay. The longer they both could hold out, the better Jane's resulting orgasm would be.

Jane was reduced to a begging mess by the time Maura finally wrapped her mouth around Jane's clit and sucked gently. She spent a few minutes rotating between running her tongue down Jane's slit and between every fold, circling her tongue around Jane's clit, and wrapping her lips around Jane's clit. On the next pass, Maura lightly dipped her tongue into Jane's opening, just enough to make her hips buck but not enough to provide any relief. She continued to move her tongue back and forth between Jane's clit and her opening, thrusting deeper on each pass over her vagina.

When she could feel Jane's walls twitching against her tongue, Maura moved her mouth back to focus on Jane's clit while thrusting two fingers inside. She pumped her fingers in and out as fast as she could while sucking hard on Jane's clit and applying pressure with her tongue. Within minutes, Jane was flying over the edge for her first climax of the night.

Maura moved back up Jane's body when the other woman had finished riding out her orgasm. She placed soft butterfly kisses across Jane's abdomen and over her breasts until she reached Jane's mouth. She captured Jane's lips in a passionate kiss, causing Jane to moan at the taste of herself on Maura's lips.

They spent a few minutes basking in the aftermath of their climaxes, cuddling and whispering sweet nothings into each other's ear, but neither of them was finished yet. They spent many hours showing each other just how much love they held for the other. By the time they finally passed out from exhaustion in the early hours of the morning, Jane had climaxed six times and Maura had had five orgasms of her own. They had even come together twice; while both women enjoyed coming together, they still felt an unmatchable intimacy when they focused all of their attention on pleasuring their loves.

It may have taken years of pain and fear for them to get here, but Jane and Maura would both say that it was worth every minute if it meant they got to where they were now. They had never felt happier or more loved, and with the knowledge that this was just the beginning of their life together, they had never felt more hopeful or excited.