There was no break in the noise that surrounded me, each glance directed my way sending me into a state of internal panic. Candlelight lit my face, brightening my emerald eyes and not allowing me to hide in the throng of soon-to-be adults. The voices never paused as they sent 'I'll miss you's and 'oh my god's to everyone. I was at graduation- the 'Prom', or 'Formal' that everyone waits for to dress up at the end of year 12. Girls pranced past me in their cupcake dresses, the long trails behind some reminding me of slugs- leaving sticky goo in commemoration of where they had travelled. Each girl I looked at had her face layered with makeup- so thick I imagined them scraping it off with a cement scraper. The silver ring fitted snugly on my finger only served to embarrass me more at each glance. I had never been the kind of girl who enjoyed attention- a tomboy, but not an attention-seeker.
"Alexis! There you are"
I was greeted with a kiss to both cheeks, alerting me to my French companion.
"I've been looking for you, how are you?"
He practically had to yell into my ear for me to hear him over the noise of the other people in the room, and I smiled nervously, giving him a quick nod. He pulled me from the corner of the room that I'd been hiding in and dragged me across the room to the drinks. He went over the drink menu with me watching over his shoulder.
"Do you want some of the strong stuff? I can afford to get you some Vodka, it'll calm you down"
His words were pointed toward my jumpiness, and I shook my head at him, sending a look towards him that warned him against drinking anything around me. He feint surrendered before he ordered us both lemonade and handed mine to me as I tried to look as small as humanely possible in the continuously growing and expanding crowd.
"Francis… Where is Gilbert?"
My words distracted him from complimenting another female, and he smiled, patting my shoulder and casting a look to the ring I was playing nervously with on my finger.
"He's fine, mon ami, just late, like usual"
That rung true. Gilbert was never one to pay attention to time- he often had to be dragged around by his younger brother. I grasped the cup in my hands nervously as I tried to spot his trademark silver hair through the crowds. I was distracted by the sound of a slap, and held back a giggle as Francis held a hand to his face, which was stuck in a puppy-dog look of rejection. A woman strode away from him at a steady pace, her hands balled by her sides and her face flushed. Francis saw me looking at him and then frowned childishly, sticking his tongue out.
"I'm going to call Gilbert"
Francis nodded and then smiled as if he knew something I didn't, before disappearing into the crowd. If I looked for him, I would be able to find him easily; his loose golden hair was simply unable to blend in with the hideous hairstyles some of the females had adopted. My phone rung six times before it was picked up, and as I found a quiet space in the hallway, I heard a yelling in the background.
"Alexis! Just the person I- Ow! Don't pull on my hair, bruder!"
I smiled as I imagined Ludwig ripping out masses of Gilbert's hair.
"Damnit- I'm so sorry, Alexis, I'm running a bit late~ But the awesome me will be there in just a few more minutes…"
Ludwig's voice was rising again, and I heard a padding sound as Gilbert obviously ran away. There was a loud thud and then a moment of silence,
"Oh, Damnit- I havetogo!"
I smiled goofily as his voice rose in tone, and then laughed at something he was doing,
The phone cut off.
There was a high-pitched squeal as Elizaveta threw herself at me, enveloping me in a bear-hug and rubbing her face against mine.
"Oh, I missed you soooo much, and look at you! So pretty!"
I looked down at myself, and snorted. I was wearing a simple blue and purple fairy dress that went to my knees, and purple converse. My plain brown hair was down as always, still wavy, and I did my best to hide my face with my fringe, which was currently covering the good half of my face. There was no time to react to her opinion before I was dragged behind her, my hair splaying out behind me as I flew forward at supersonic speed.
Francis seemed confused to see me moving so fast, before he noticed Elizaveta, and gave me a 'thumbs up'. He knew best not to get too close to her- wary of her trusty skillet. In fact, I wondered just where she was going to pull it from, since she was wearing a rather tight, revealing red dress, coinciding well with her personality. She looked practically the same as me, except having a smaller butt and bust- although I wasn't proud of it. She also had a smaller, cuter face, in contrast to my own… I sighed, I was doing it again. Gilbert hated that. We'd been dating for four years, and I still hadn't been able to shake my criticality towards myself. Gilbert was fine- he was more than fine, as he would say it he was 'awesome'. His self-confidence was enough for twenty people, and most passed him off as egotistical and selfish… And he was. But underneath all of that…
Elizaveta's voice cut through my thoughts, and I looked up through my lashes to see her grinning, gesturing around me. I looked around to see the crowd giving me a wide berth, eyes expectant and a few smirks… I tried to calm my heartbeat as Elizaveta left me there, and ran outside, leaving me watching the door- hoping she was going to come back and not just leave me there.
I was not good with people watching me. The eyes of those around me seemed viciously curious, watching my every move and gesture like a hungry wolf. I felt my arms shaking uncontrollably, my legs wobbling like jelly. My head spun, and the world rocked, reminding me to focus on my breathing- which had stopped. The world was in slow motion, the edges of my vision black as I stared at the door… Waiting… Elizaveta's head popped back through the door, her face in a wide grin that shrunk slightly at my expression. She danced over to me, and I felt the eyes around me shift to accommodate her. Hands gripped my forearms, and she was then right in front of me.
Her words were easy enough to say, but not to follow. I did her the favour of looking more relaxed, but I never changed from my gelatine-like state.
I understood then, what this was about. No-one wanted to be in his way, right? They were all probably waiting to be blown away by his performance. Was I expected to do something? Was Gilbert supposed to tell me on the phone? Then, Ludwig stopped him? Was I supposed to know what was happening? The world spun dangerously again, and I tried to focus on the ground I felt under my feet. I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, hoping to god that Gilbert never did anything reckless.
My fingers found the ring on my hand, and I played with it, feeling it rubbing at my skin…
He'd given it to me…
When we were at the shops…
He spotted it, and told me he would give it to me to remind me of the awesome him…
My lips curved into a small smile as my breathing regulated. He'd confessed there was nothing he was more afraid of than engagement and marriage- being tied down… But then he looked down at me and… Smiled. I opened my eyes as I began to feel better… He wouldn't do anything to embarrass me too badly.
Psychotic laughter rung in from outside…
"The awesome Gilbert Beilschmidt is here~!"
"Shut up, bruder."
The german pair entered through the very doors everyone was watching… And the audience's eyes fell out of their heads. I must admit- my jaw dropped a little. They looked so… Different.
Ludwig was wearing a classic Tuxedo, and was playing with his cufflink as he walked in. His hair was impeccable as always, and he looked like the perfect man… Gilbert had chosen an older version of formalwear- and looked like an English gentleman. His silver hair was neatly combed, and he looked presentable- for once. He flashed a trademark grin the moment he spotted me, and waved his brother to stand with the adults, marching his way toward me.
I was rooted to my spot in fear. Some part of my brain was still trying to find my Gilbert in this man. In fact- it had stopped working.
Error 404- brain not found.
My fingers had frozen to my hand, clasped around the ring as this strange man enveloped me in a bear hug. The world was quiet- as if someone had pressed a giant 'mute' button, leaving a pitched ringing in my ears. I was still as he pulled back and planted a kiss on my forehead. Then, his mouth moved, and he waited, then, he tried again, his face showing confusion. I tried to focus on him.
I realized I hadn't been breathing.
His answering smile was dazzling.
"The one and only amazingly awesome Gilbert… Also known as your awesome boyfriend"
I felt the trickle of knowledge pass through to my brain.
It was him.
I smiled wide, jumping at the idiot and wrapping my arms around him. He stepped backwards due to the onslaught, and then laughed as I buried my face in his chest.
"I'll take that as you missed me" his words were just for me, his lips by my ear, and I nodded enthusiastically even as the onlookers stared.
"Yes, I missed you, you idiot. You had me worried."
Gilbert pulled back, and grasped my left hand, looking at where the ring had torn at my skin.
"Well, that isn't good" he grumbled, giving me a look. I stuck my tongue out and tried to pull my hand away, but he held it there, gently tugging the ring off my finger.
"I remember, when I bought this ring"
He spoke loudly, as always, but I couldn't help but think he was speaking to everyone else, as well, as whispers ran through the crowd.
"I was thinking about marriage, you know. And I told you- how I was so scared of it"
I looked to Elizaveta, who grinned and told me to look back at Gilbert, who fiddled with the ring.
"Marriage had always seemed like a cage to me. A way to trap down people and force them into a dedicated relationship- something I never had… Until you"
Gilbert's unusual red eyes held mine as he smirked.
"Telling you that I was afraid, of marriage was very un-awesome of me, Alexis, mein liebe"
He pulled out a small blue box.
My face heated up as the crowds muttered, and I tried to make out a word, something to tell him this wasn't funny, but I only choked, unable to force enough air out of my lungs to breathe properly.
"Because… Ich Liebe Dich, Alexis… I love you. And I want to say it now, in front of everyone, because I want you to know just how much I mean that"
The world around me seemed to have been paused. Gilbert's eyes were the only thing I could focus on, the red orbs captivating my own, and not allowing me to look away.
"You're eighteen now, I'm nineteen… People will talk, and say things… But I want everyone to know you're mine"
He knelt down.
I stopped breathing.
"Alexis… Please, do the awesome Gilbert Beilschmidt the favour of becoming his awesome wife?"
He opened the blue box, revealing a stunning silver ring, imitating a bird in flight.
The room was silent.
Tears built in my eyes- and I was unable to stop them as they rolled freely down my cheeks.
I choked on my tears as I failed to breathe properly, and the crowd watched intently as he grinned, sliding the new ring on my finger gently. He then surprised me, picking me up bridal-style, and spinning me around, making me laugh.
"She said yes!"
The once quiet room of people erupted into cheers, whooping laughter and clapping. While I spun I managed to pick out three significant people. Francis, his mouth curved into an unusual, real smile as he sipped something I guessed was not apple juice. Elizaveta- clapping enthusiastically and jumping up and down. And last but not least, there was Ludwig. I shot the younger brother a grin, and thanked him silently- without him, Gilbert wouldn't have grown up the way he did. Ludwig returned the gesture his own way, nodding and sipping a glass of clear liquid.
"Oh, I see Ludwig has found his way to the beverages~"
Gilbert sounded like a child who had discovered their older sibling doing something taboo, and I raised an eyebrow at him as he grinned.
"It's water… Isn't it?"
Gilbert's smile grew.
"No, most definitely not- In fact, one might say it's the most powerful drink here"
I remembered how Francis had looked over the menu with me, and my eyes widened.
"Vodka!? You're letting him drink Vodka?!"
My hand hit against his chest, and Gilbert gave me a puppy-dog face, laughing as I pouted.
I was going to complain again, but Gilbert shut me up with a quick kiss.
Damn- I hadn't realised how much I'd begun to miss those rude interruptions.
As we broke apart, I played with the new ring on my finger, and wondered about what was to come.
"A ring is a circle …"
I muttered my words under my breath.
"A reflection of eternity, no beginning, no end…"
I looked up to Gilbert, who was smiling at me as he listened.
"There will never be long enough to spend with you meine liebe. But we can start with forever"
And then, under the candlelight, the crowds pressing around, and people's messy conversations, a promise was made… A silent promise made between two people as their lips brushed only one of the many times that night.