an accurate representation of my feelings right now

4

Late post from 4.3.16 // This photo set is pretty full-on and clustered but I feel like that’s a pretty accurate representation of my life in general right now. I went to see my Japanese teacher today and asked whether she had any more challenging textbooks…and she proceeded to show me THREE ENTIRE SHELVES FILLED WITH TEXTBOOKS. The picture on the right is the result of my textbook scavenging session. Honestly, I’m still fangirling over them right now which is totally not creepy and Gollum-like at all.

Do I Wanna Know - Chapter Forty-Three

Ever since I had told my parents about my illness, I felt like there was this weight lifted off my shoulders. Up until that point I hadn’t even known how much it had affected me to keep my health issues a secret. Maybe there were upset now but Camila kept telling me that I had made the right decision in finally coming clean about everything.

My parents, Taylor and Chris had all come to New York a little earlier than originally planned because Camila and I wanted to get married this weekend. We had applied for a Marriage License very quickly and thanks to my celebrity status and a few contacts, I was able to get the desired papers a lot faster than others. Without the license there was no way we could get married but we pulled it off even though it might have been unfair to use my connections. But I was selfish and wanted to marry the woman of my dreams as soon as I possibly could.

Our official date was set and we would get married tomorrow afternoon, on the last Friday before Christmas.

Weirdly enough, I wasn’t feeling too nervous yet. It was probably a little too soon and I would be a mess tomorrow but the atmosphere at the moment was nothing short of perfect. My family had come in yesterday and I had to admit that I was overjoyed to see them. I had a tendency to forget how incredible it was to be around the people I loved most, even when I felt like I was being a burden to them. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits, though. They were relieved to see me up and walking and not dying somewhere in a hospital bed like my father had feared. Naturally, I noticed their concern still. But it wasn’t to a point where I felt guilty about telling them. It had been the right choice.

My own spirits were a lot higher than usual as well. I was able to feed off the energy my family was giving me. Not just my own but also Camila’s. Her father and Sofi had flown out to New York to be part of our wedding day although I was adamant about not making it a big deal; much to my mother’s disappointment. Thankfully she had accepted the idea of Camila and I just getting married at city hall very simply and then having dinner to celebrate.

I remembered the conversation from last night. Our entire families had been sitting around the table for dinner when my mother, Taylor and Sofi tried convincing us to have a bigger wedding. At that point I had told them multiple times that I didn’t need something fancy because I cared more about being married than getting married. I had opened up about another reason that I hadn’t shared with anyone. A part of me didn’t want a big ceremony because I frankly didn’t like the way I looked right now. Maybe I was being vain but my outer appearance would not be an accurate representation of what I felt on the inside that day. I didn’t want to look back at our wedding pictures and always be reminded of how miserable I had been feeling physically. Emotionally, I was more in love than I had probably ever been. And I wanted to glow on every single picture so my happiness would forever be captured on that special day. But how could I glow when I was as pale as ghost and thin as a rail?

Everyone at the table had become silent when I had explained my further reasoning and I recalled Camila squeezing my hand in my lap. We were able to compromise. Instead of having a big wedding, we planned on having a big first year anniversary party. One year was a lot of time for me to recuperate and hopefully be back to my old self. And my mother had enough time to plan whatever her heart desired.

There was only person missing before the big day tomorrow: Ally.

I was not nervous about my wedding but I was extremely nervous about seeing my former group member. She had been very upset when I had called her to inform her about my illness. Of course, she was happy hearing about the wedding part and her invitation but I knew she was hurt being the last one to find out. I wanted to make it up to her because I felt horrible. Never would I ever want her to feel like an outsider because Normani and I or Dinah and Camila seemed closer. That feeling of being the odd one out was something I was pretty familiar with and I wouldn’t wish that anyone; especially not my good-hearted friend.

I was pacing the apartment and trying to calm down while Camila had given up on trying to sooth me. She was making coffee instead because Ally should arrive any second now. The doorbell rang and I exchanged one last look with my fiancée before we made our way to the door. I took a deep breath and opened the door.

“Hey”, Ally said in her typically cheerful voice but she was quieter and I instantly knew why. In her arms, she was holding her sixteen month-old son. Trevor’s head was resting on Ally’s shoulder. “He’s sleepy, it was a long flight”, the oldest explained as she noticed Camila and I staring at the child full of endearment.

“Come on in”, I said and saw Camila solely focusing on the little boy. The way her brown eyes lit up was causing my heart to swell. But I didn’t want to think about this now. However, Trevor seemed to like Camila right off the bat and started wiggling around, stretching his little arms out so he would reach my fiancée. Camila immediately took over and held the blond boy as if she had never done anything else. I gulped slightly at the image because I wanted this: our own little family. But there was still something I hadn’t told Camila.

“Let’s sit down, shall we”, Camila snapped me back to reality but I stopped Ally and hugged her first. She smiled at me after and I was relieved; at least a little bit. Sitting down in the living room, Camila was fully focused on Trevor but I focused on Ally sitting next to her. I took the reclining chair and pulled a thin blanket over my legs because I was a little cold.

“How was the flight?”, I started with small talk.

“Good, no turbulence but Trevor isn’t the best flyer. He doesn’t cry but he doesn’t like it. Just like Troy, who went to hotel because he wasn’t feeling well but he’ll be here tomorrow”, Ally informed me and I nodded gently.

“Ally”, I sighed lightly because I couldn’t handle making pointless conversation when I knew my best friend was possibly angry with me. “I’m really sorry for not telling you earlier. It wasn’t my intention to hurt you, I hope you know that.”

“I know”, she said but took a deep breath before meeting my eyes more narrowly. “I just don’t understand why you would tell everyone else but not me.”

“To be completely honest, I only told Normani. They wouldn’t let me seek treatment without someone there and she was the only one I told right away”, I confessed. “I didn’t even want to tell Camila.”

“You haven’t heard?”, Camila asked bewildered and looked at the older woman.  “Lauren broke up with me first instead of telling me what was going on.”

“Lauren!”, Ally gasped in a scolding but shocked tone.

“I know, I know that was a very bad call”, I admitted right after and saw Camila smirking. “Camila then told Dinah and I only told people who were living in New York like Alexa, Vero and Chelsea because they would notice something was going on. I didn’t even tell my family until a few days ago.”

“You what?”, Ally exclaimed and it was almost amusing to see her so rattled. It occurred to me how insane it was of me to not let the people I loved so much in. Being around them now was so uplifting.

“Another bad call. Trust me I’m trying to make it up to you all because I didn’t want to hurt you. I genuinely never meant to make you feel like I love you less because that couldn’t be further from the truth”, I continued more softly. “It’s just…you have your own family and your life to worry about. I didn’t want you to worry about me.”

“But that’s what friends do, Lauren. They worry. And I have multiple families. You girls are my family as well”, Ally answered with a smile. “You are my sisters.”

“I know”, I sighed because I truly felt bad for possibly making her question my appreciation of her. “If I’m being brutally honest…I was hesitant to get too close to you at times”, I added and saw Ally and Camila looking at me questioningly. “You are so positive and optimistic…and hopeful. A part of me was always scared that I might damage or corrupt you. I’ve never met someone so genuinely caring and I feared that I would taint your essence with my own. And that’s partly why I didn’t want to tell you about my illness as well. I was afraid you might…lose that positive aura. Not that I could break your faith or anything, that’s not what I mean because I know your faith is stronger than that but…I didn’t want to be the reason for dimming your brightness or tainting your spirits even the slightest bit.”

I was nervously playing with the hem of the blanket while trying to explain what was going on in my messy mind sometimes. Looking up, I saw two pairs of eyes lingering on me. I couldn’t read their gaze. Were they surprised? Touched or just confused? Camila’s brown eyes exuded more tenderness before I noticed Ally smiling again.

“I wanted to stay mad for at least an hour but how can I do that when you’re saying stuff like that”, Ally broke the silence with a bigger smile and I sighed in relief.

“Listen to me, Lauren. I understand what you’re saying but please don’t ever shut me out”, the Texan pleaded in a sincere tone. She inhaled deeply and seemed to look for the right words. “You said you never met someone like me before but I’ve never met someone like you either. Ever since hearing you sing for the first time, I held a certain fascination with you. And that never stopped. You were the closest thing I had to an equal in the group because you, for the most part, had a maturity about you that I needed. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of you girls”, Ally placed one hand on Camila’s knee and looked at her quickly.

“I know”, the youngest smiled and I saw her lovingly stroking Trevor’s blond hair.

“But I worried about you most”, Ally caught my attention again with her words addressing me. “I knew there was something going on between you and Camila. We all did but we were too scared to ask and risk doing more damage than good. And I also saw the toll it took on you both. I wasn’t as concerned about Camila because I knew she had Dinah and she was more centered. But you…I noticed you changing, losing your way, hanging around with the wrong kind of people. And I felt like I let you down. The reason why I never reached out to you after the group split up was not that I was angry or that I took Camila’s side. I felt like I failed you. As your friend and the older sister you never had but needed to guide you. I wanted to be that for you but I wasn’t and that…I never forgave myself for.”

The lump in my throat was growing ever since Ally had started talking to me so sincerely. Her words took me by complete surprise. Did she really feel that way? For years I had felt like no one really cared about me. After Fifth Harmony but also the while being in the group at times. Hearing how concerned my friend had been for me; that she had noticed me on the wrong path and simply acknowledging that she had not been indifferent towards me was opening up some old wounds. But they didn’t hurt anymore. I felt like there were healing with every syllable she spoke. I felt tears swelling in my eyes and was too choked up to say anything at this point.

I got up instead and joined the two other women on the couch. Taking a seat next to Ally, I hugged her tightly and felt her doing the same.

“I love you”, I whispered and opened my eyes to see Camila warmly smiling at me.

“I love you, too”, Ally reciprocated and pulled back afterwards.

“And I have an idea how I can make it up to you”, I said and saw her eyebrows rising.

“I’m all ears.”

“Well, as you know Camila and I are going to city hall tomorrow by ourselves because we’re going to make things quick before celebrating with all of you but…we need one witness”, I explained.

“Wait…you want me to come with you of all people?” Ally sounded genuinely astonished.

“We do. I think it’s actually kind of perfect because the three of us were pretty inseparable in the very beginning and it’s only right that ‘camallen’ makes a comeback in a big way”, Camila confirmed what we had discussed this morning when I had come up with it. She had loved the idea just as much as I did and it was the perfect way to include her after Normani and Dinah had been more prominent parts in our lives lately.

“Aww, you guys”, Ally squealed almost and I heard a soft tremble in her voice. “Now you’re going to make my cry.”

“Is that a yes then?”, I asked with a grin.

“Of course!”, she said and pulled me into another hug while I laughed in absolute joy now. All my worries were vanishing and I felt so incredibly relieved after our conversation.

Ally ended up staying for another hour before she decided to go to the hotel because Trevor was getting really tired. The little boy was the most precious thing I had seen in a long time. Camila was absolutely infatuated with him, though. She would not let me hold him for more than a few minutes before she reclaimed him.

Watching her take care of him was causing a mixture of feelings. The younger woman had great maternal instincts and her kindness was tangible for children. They had always felt drawn to her. I had admired her ability to connect with especially young children so effortlessly although I had a pretty good connection with them too. There was just something special when it came to Camila and children. The expressive brown eyes lit up in a very distinctive manner that was impossible to describe. Her entire demeanor changed. She was in her element.

I could have watched her for hours; gently rocking Trevor in her arms, stroking his hair lovingly with her fingertips and eyeing him with that indescribable look in her eyes. It was like falling in love with her all over again. But it also brought back something I hadn’t shared with her and I felt like I really had to after seeing this.

After Ally left, Camila settled back on the living room couch with her phone in her hands.

“Dinah texted me. She’s still shopping with Normani and will probably sleep at her place tonight”, Camila informed me while I was standing close by.

Taking a deep breath, I closed the remaining distance and just straddled her lap. Camila looked up pleasantly surprised and smiled. The brown-eyed woman dropped her phone instantly and gently stroked up and down my thighs while gazing deeply into my eyes. I felt a lump building in the back of my throat because I wanted to talk about something that was not easy for me. Clearly in thought, I traced some patterns on her forearms and tried articulating my thoughts. But there was still nothing coming out.

“What’s on your mind?”, I heard the slightly husky voice ask and sighed frustrated with myself. She was obviously noticing my brooding and I didn’t want her to worry so I finally spoke up.

“Do you remember what we talked about right after my surgery?” I slowly tested the waters.

“You mean…having kids?” Camila responded quite cautiously herself as I nodded. “Of course I remember.”

That fucking lump in my throat was even bigger than before when I saw Camila’s soft smile just mentioning wanting to have children. Her eyes grew more anxious when I stayed silent and didn’t say a word again. Why was this so hard? I had already talked about it once a little bit but not in depth.

“What’s going on? Talk to me”, she pleaded full of concern but understanding. I gulped heavily and tried swallowing the non-existent blockage in my throat.

“You really want kids, right?” I tried again and this time she was nodding without answering further. “And I said that I want two little Camila’s…which is still something I would love very much but I can’t forget what you said either.”

“What was that?”, she didn’t seem to catch on but grabbed a hold of my hands now, interlacing them tenderly.

“That you wanted a little Lauren”, I only whispered and saw her eyebrows rising inadvertently.

“But you said…”, the younger one voiced carefully.

“I know and that’s kind of what I’m trying to explain more thoroughly but I can’t find the goddamn courage”, I confessed while she smiled supportively. Her thumb was stroking the back of my hand without trying to pressure me so I was able to take my time. “When I first got diagnosed, there was something else they found out. It turns out that my chances of getting pregnant were pretty slim to begin with even before the cancer. Apparently I don’t have the best conditions to conceive or carry a child and the doctors said that after treatment there was a high chance that I…could become fully infertile.”

Using that word made it even realer and I felt some tears burning in my eyes even though I tried so hard to suppress it.

“Lauren, I’m so sorry”, Camila said genuinely and I detected the sincerity in her voice and eyes.

“It’s ok, that’s not what I wanted to say. Well, kind of but I’m getting to the point, bear with me”, I replied with another deep breath while my fiancée for another day held my hands firmer in hers. “So, they presented me with different options but they strongly advised me to…freeze my eggs because they would most likely get compromised or even ‘destroyed’ with treatment. And…I did”, I finally revealed and saw the brown eyes widening slightly. “It’s not like I’m saying we have to use them or something. I just kept thinking about what you said about having a little Lauren and I didn’t want to tell you at first because I’d be more than happy with having little Camila’s but I don’t want to disregard your wishes. It’s supposed to be our family and not just mine. You have such a good way with children and I would hate the idea of you not having the family you wanted. What I’m trying to say is, that if you really want to have a little Lauren, then there’s a chance but you would have to…”

“Carry it”, she concluded quickly and I nodded again.

“I know this is probably a lot of information but I didn’t want to keep secrets anymore”, I admitted while my heart was pounding because Camila looked a little overwhelmed. Why on earth would I even spring this all on her? I grew more insecure by the second whereas the light-haired one tried gathering her thoughts it seemed.

“I’m really happy that you told me, Lauren”, she said and eased my anxiety within seconds. “And since you’re being so honest, I’ll do the same. I’m not going to lie, I would love the idea of having little versions of you but…are you sure you don’t want to try having them yourself when you’re better? We could see some specialists and at least give it a try if that’s what you want. I don’t want you to miss out on anything or give up on it before we truly know that there is no way.”

The pumping organ in my chest was swelling and breaking at the same time when I heard Camila’s words. She was obviously trying to look out for me but I was having a hard time dealing with everything concerning my illness already. The possibility of me never having kids was a harsh reality that I wasn’t really ready to face. At least not fully. But I wanted her to know the whole truth and all the facts before we got married.

“I don’t know if I’m ready to think about all of this”, I answered truthfully and felt her releasing one of our hands so she could stroke my cheek. “Maybe this is some sort of karmic retribution. I was always so focused on my career and the idea of having kids was not even something I considered but I always thought I could have if I wanted to. This is probably fate’s way of saying that I shouldn’t have taken things for granted.”

“Don’t say that”, Camila interfered gently but affirmatively. “This is not over yet. There are things we can do and options we can discuss…”

“But I don’t know if I want to anymore”, I cut her off with a frustrated sigh while shaking my head. “I don’t know if I could bear the idea of having a human being grow inside of me when I know how my body has betrayed me; when I know that it could fail me again; when I know there is great chance that I might…not be able to carry to full term and…lose it”, my voice cracked at the end when I essentially beard my soul right there.

It didn’t take long for Camila to pull me towards her and wrap her slender arms around me in a tight embrace. I rested my head on her shoulder before nuzzling her neck and enjoying the warmth of her body so close to mine. This was not easy for me to say or explain but I had done the best I could and the other woman seemed to have understood what I was saying. I wasn’t entirely ready to talk about this but I needed her to know the full story. It was probably stupid but there was a little part of me that was actually afraid this might change something between us.

“I love you”, I whispered and the insecurity in my voice was more evident than I had wanted. The younger one instantly pulled back so she could see me and looked surprised for some reason.

“You don’t honestly think this could change how I feel about you, do you?”, she absolutely stunned me by basically reading my mind. I was too shocked to answer but heard her sighing quietly. “How do you still not know that I love you just because of what you just told me? You don’t even realize how much I love the fact that you are sometimes so brutally honest and vulnerable with your feelings. I’ve never met someone who felt so deeply and intensely. You, sharing your most inner secrets and fears, is not something that will ever make me retreat. It just makes me love and adore you all the more. And I seriously need you to know that I want to know every little thing that goes on in your head. I know that sounds creepy but you should know by now that there is nothing you could reveal about yourself that will change how much I love you.”

I shook my head lightly and bit my lower lip, trying to hold back tears because I actually hated that I was so vulnerable at times. My tough exterior was not that easy to crack but Camila seemed to do it so easily it genuinely scared me. I looked up and revealed the smile on my lips which was immediately reciprocated by her. She looked relieved.

“I’m sorry for making the evening before our wedding really depressing”, I said but Camila pressed her index finger on my lips.

“Stop apologizing for your feelings, I’m serious. Such a bad habit”, she scolded playfully and I felt another big weight lifted.

“I’m not saying that we should take about having kids but I just wanted you to know all the facts. To be honest, I want to enjoy our time together first when I’m back to normal and we’ll have enough time to discuss details later”, I wanted to conclude our conversation and saw Camila now tearing up. “What? Did I say something wrong?”, I added slightly panicky.

“No, not at all”, she answered quickly. “You just…said we have enough time and actually meant it.”

I couldn’t help but smile as well when I heard that and I realized how scared she must have been at times when I had doubted my recovery or chances of surviving. My doubts were entirely gone but they were only a fraction of what they used to. I genuinely believed I would make it to get married, have kids and have the life I had never seen for myself but wished more than anything now.

My hands cupped her face as I leaned in and planted a soft kiss on her wonderful lips. Camila folded her arms around my waist and kissed back with the same amount of affection. She leaned back on the couch and pulled me with her so I was able to just cuddle up while still straddling her. Obviously, she didn’t mind and I felt her slim fingers gently caressing my back. I could hear her steady breathing and it was by far my favorite sound on this planet. Her chest was moving regularly beneath me and I loved closing my eyes in complete bliss and serenity like this.

The rest of the night was rather uneventful. Camila and I had basically just cuddled all night while watching a movie and then went to bed. I was tired and wanted to sleep enough so I would be more energized on our big day. Even though it wasn’t a big ceremony and I always emphasized that it wasn’t a big deal, it was huge deal! My God, I would get married! To Camila!

Now, the next morning, my nerves were definitely flaring up when I realized what was going to happen today. I was awake before Camila which was very unusual but I couldn’t stop my heart beating like crazy ever since opening my eyes. It was impossible to fall asleep again as I watched the light-haired woman sleeping next to me. My pulse was racing. ‘I’m getting married to her today! ‘ it kept echoing in my head and I felt myself smiling like an idiot. The younger woman looked so beautiful in her sleep it was hard to focus on anything else.

Sometimes I still had a hard time actually the grasping the fact that the stunning woman next to me was the same person as the introverted, shy fangirl I had met over a decade ago. So much had changed. We had changed. Although we were still the same people essentially, there was no denying that both of us had also grown a lot. Yet, with all the change we ended up here, together. That idea was still making my heart flutter every single time. After everything that happened, we had survived somehow and I genuinely didn’t see any way we would ever be separated again after going through what we had gone through lately, and were still going through actually.

Inhaling deeply, I used my fingertips to trace her perfect facial features but barely touched her skin so I wouldn’t wake her. I couldn’t tell how much time passed while I just stared at the other woman and reminisced before I heard a couple of voices entering the apartment. Camila was slowly waking up now as well and I recognized Normani’s and Dinah’s voices first. There was a knock on the door before Dinah appeared in our bedroom. What the hell was going on?

“Why are you still sleeping? You two are getting married! What the fuck are you doing?”, Dinah scolded us while I exchanged a confused look with the sleepy Camila.

“What is going on out there?”, I asked because there were definitely more voices now.

“We’re setting everything up for the party after you come back from city hall, duh”, the youngest responded while rolling her eyes.

“Dinah, I told you I don’t want something big-“

“Lauren, shut it”, the Polynesian cut me off and I kinked an eyebrow amused before Normani appeared next to her.

“Why are you in bed? Get in the shower, we have a tight schedule”, Normani said adding to my confusion. “Dinah and I didn’t spend six hours yesterday shopping for nothing! You’ll shower and then try on the dresses we bought. I’m going to do your hair and make-up because we won’t let you get married looking like a bunch of hobos, no matter how small the ceremony is. So, chop chop!”

I looked to my side again and saw Camila’s confused face. A smile appeared on her lips right and we simply nodded at each other. There was no way our friends were going to stop with their plans now and it was admittedly cute of them to make it as special as they could considering I wanted something low-key.

The apartment was filled with chaos and so many people that I decided to just follow Normani’s instructions. Ally was a real-life version of Jennifer Lopez in the Wedding Planner, running around and trying to make everything perfect. Dinah, Sofi and Camila were in the guest room. My fiancée was probably getting ready as well and time had passed in a haze. Normani was making me try on a bunch of dresses. They weren’t really full-on bridal dresses because I insisted on not making this a fancy wedding but the chosen pieces were still elegant. Her fashionista-ways were clearly coming in handy but she was also a perfectionist like me. There was a lot of discussion about what dress to wear before we agreed on something.

Standing in front of the mirror and looking at myself for such a long time was still making me somewhat uncomfortable because I didn’t like the way my body looked these days. Finally, I found something that made me feel comfortable and pretty at the same time. The chic ivory bateau neck lace dress over almond lining with a deep V back, above the knee length slim skirt, 34 length sleeves, and an oatmeal grosgrain ribbon belt at natural waist fit perfectly. Normani and I exchanged a knowing look. This was the dress. I added a simple bracelet and pearl earrings but nothing more.

Next up was hair and make-up and I gladly handed myself over to my friend because I knew about her skills in that department. She was a beautician at heart and ended up styling my hair so that it was falling in my natural locks but looked quite voluminous. I asked her to go easy and this was what she came up with. But I decided to let her have fun. My make-up was not as subtle as I wanted but Normani said she needed to do that much because she didn’t want me to look pale. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea, I thought. She applied the signature red lipstick at the end and then finally allowed me to see the finished product. I had to admit that I looked…good. Better than I ever could have imagined considering the circumstances. I genuinely didn’t look sick and that alone made me hug my friend in absolute gratitude.

Looking at my watch, I realized that there wasn’t much time left and just a few minutes after that I found myself in the hallway waiting on Camila so we could go to city hall with Ally while the rest stayed behind. I was fidgeting nervously because I hadn’t seen her in a couple of hours but that was not too common these days. It was insane how much time we actually spent together and didn’t grow tired of each other. We hadn’t been apart this long in weeks but I liked how attached I was after having lived such a detached lifestyle for such a long time.

I heard heels coming towards us and immediately looked up when I saw the most flawless creature coming out of the apartment and into the hallway. Camila wore a tight dainty white one shoulder silk dress with a tucked bodice, short back sash and slim above the knee length dress. My eyes must have popped out of their sockets when I looked her up and down. She was so incredibly tall in the high heels and I felt my heart beating out of chest when I let my eyes wander further up. Her make-up was subtle but perfect. The full lips were pink and looked so kissable right now. Her tan skin was glowing while the brown eyes sparkled in what it seemed like a lighter-brown shade than usual. Speaking of light brown; the same-colored hair was wavy and only slightly curled. The silky strands framed the feminine facial features impeccably and I noticed a small bow barrette on the side. Of course, I thought and felt my lips forming a smile.

Even though I had planned on not making this a big deal, seeing Camila now definitely made all of it worth it. I was glued to the spot and simply looked at her in awe while she seemed to do the same thing. Sofi was standing next to her and put on her coat, snapping us both back to reality. Next thing I knew was the younger sister coming up to me and hugging me quickly.

“Go and get married so I can say that you’re officially part of my family, Lauren Cabello”, Sofi grinned and I laughed gently. My heart was imploding when I heard someone else calling me that, though. I held out my hand for Camila and saw the younger woman smiling widely before interlacing her fingers with mine. God, my chest was about to burst when she was so close but Ally told us to hurry because we shouldn’t miss our appointment at city hall. I took another deep breath and felt Camila squeezing my hand reassuringly before making our way to the designated city building.

We had the very last appointment on the day and I had arranged it like that on purpose so we were going to have some privacy. I didn’t want anyone finding out yet. There was no need to have strangers snapping pictures of us in the intimate moment I wanted to share even though it was “just” a city hall wedding. The three of us were waiting for the woman at the City Clerks Office to check our documents and Marriage License before we could go in. I was so nervous that I was genuinely scared of fainting at some point. Ally was incredibly hyper and squealing at everything while Camila was the calm presence between the three of us. She looked happy and content.

My knees were shaking when we got called in. The officiant was already waiting and I was holding Camila’s hand for support so I wouldn’t fall caused by my shaky legs. Taking our places in front of the elderly man, I looked at the Marriage Certificate we had to sign to make it official and read my name: Lauren Cabello.

Jesus, I felt tears coming already just reading it! Camila let go of my hand to sign while I had a hard time controlling my emotions. Ally was taking pictures like crazy although I didn’t want to at first but I couldn’t care less right now. I only watched the woman of my dreams, biting her lower lip while taking the pen and officially making me her wife. It was probably a dream-like state that I was in when she handed me the pen and I signed off next. I was just replicating her action and tried holding myself together.

“Would you like to exchange vows?”, the officiant suddenly asked and Camila and I looked at each other shocked.

“I…didn’t know we had to prepare them…”, I admitted because I hadn’t thought we would need vows for a city hall wedding.

“Me neither”, Camila whispered and I felt a little relieved that I wasn’t the only one.

“It’s not mandatory”, the man explained but Ally quickly jumped in while filming us apparently.

“Come on, just…speak from the heart”, she pleaded and I was already close to having a heart attack without the pressures of having to make a speech. I remembered Camila saying yesterday that she loved it when I spoke about my feelings. Usually, she was the one taking the reins and I had a difficult time verbalizing what I felt. This time, I wanted to step up and not follow her lead when it came to confessing my love for her. No more running and no more hiding.

I took her left hand and she turned so we were facing each other. The surprise was blatantly obvious on her face. It reinforced my will to start and not have her be the dominant force in this. As ambitious as that idea was, I quickly realized how much I sucked at improvising. Clearing my throat, I spent several seconds just looking at her hand in mine, eyeing the engagement ring in thought before meeting the brown eyes.

“I think you already know that I’m not the best at this. Whenever I have to say something meaningful on the spot, I tend to blank on everything that I want to say”, I started in a shaky voice already but Camila’s soft smile was soothing. “I have honestly tried so many times putting into words what I feel for you. And in that process I have probably written a hundred songs about you. But…that feeling…”, I inhaled deeply and kept my eyes locked with hers, somehow losing myself in the chocolate color, “…that feeling I get when I look at you, I still haven’t done it justice.”

One more deep breath, I said to myself and cleared my throat again quietly.

“I have never felt so strongly about and for anyone in my life. You’re my best friend, my lover, my other half, my confidant, my soulmate…whatever you want to call it; you’re my person”, I said with a little smile and saw Camila fighting tears. “The truth is that I’ve never loved anyone else. When we met, you took up such a large part of my heart and persistently inhabited it, making it impossible for anyone else to even have a chance. And I’m so glad that you did because I was an idiot for taking such a long time to realize what was in there all along.”

I heard Ally sniffling while filming but instantly ignored it again because I didn’t want to focus on anything else than my wonderful bride wiping the first tear off her cheek.

“Today, I want to make you a promise and make good on one as well”, I continued in a trembling voice. “The promise I want to make good on is one I made to your mother: a promise I made at sixteen, standing in your kitchen, reassuring your mother that I would always be there for you. There was no hesitancy in making that promise because I was so sure we’d always be in each other’s lives. Unfortunately, I have broken that promise in the past but I won’t do it again. I wholeheartedly mean it.”

My eyes didn’t leave hers for a single second but I could see her struggling with her emotions as soon as I mentioned her passed parent. She was still smiling though and tightened her grasp around on my hand.

“So, maybe I’ll never find the words that truly encompass everything I feel for you. But my promise to you is that I will gladly spend the rest of my life trying to find them with you by my side”, I exhaled and felt my chest relaxing from the strenuous heaving before while making the little speech.

“Until then, I’ll make it really simple: I love you, Camila Cabello. All of you. I always have and I always will.”

Maybe for the first time, I felt like Camila was experiencing what I felt so many times when she would use her words to mess with every emotion in my body. The younger woman looked absolutely floored while my heart fluttered like crazy. Her eyes were damp and more tears were definitely falling from the brown orbs while her fingers trembled in mine. I felt Ally handing me something. It was the matching wedding band for Camila’s engagement ring and I followed my instincts by sliding the rose-golden band on her ring finger. She gulped heavily and this was way more of a ceremony than I had intended but I couldn’t bring myself to regret it when I saw how genuinely touched the woman I loved so much looked.

“How am I supposed to follow that?”, her unsteady voice joked slightly and I laughed joyfully because I liked the idea of causing her so much inner turmoil for some reason. She was looking at the new wedding band on her ring finger before trying to regain her composure. Her eyes were basically piercing through mine and I knew she was in a worse position than I was. Having to go second was harder because you were clearly rattled by what the other had said already. It took her a few seconds to switch the arrangement of our intertwined hands so she was holding mine now.

“I don’t think I can follow that but I’ll try and make it short”, Camila started in her perfectly husky speaking-voice. “I have loved you for more than a decade now. But the majority of that time, I loved you in silence.”

Those two lines already killed me. How was this fair? Why did she always find those perfect words that made every fiber in my being realize how much she had the upper hand emotionally? Her words were so heartbreaking, sincere, poignant, fulfilling and filled with love all at the same time.

“Never would I have thought I’d get the chance to speak out on how much I love you and have you return that love so intensely. You, allowing me to break that silence means more to me than you’ll ever understand”, she continued metaphorically and literally taking my breath away. “I don’t want to be silent anymore. Sometimes…I want to shout it from the rooftops…”, Camila smiled through her own tears while I felt the salty droplets rolling down my cheeks now. I didn’t stop or wipe them at this point because I wanted to solely focus on her. “…that I get to be with the person who makes me feel so whole, so alive and so worthy.”

Her voice cracked now and I subtly stroked her hand in mine as a reflex to comfort her. She had broken our eye-contact for a second to take a deep breath but met my green eyes full of adoration.

“For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with self-confidence and insecurities concerning my value to other people. Being with you was a double-edged sword for a long time. On the one hand, I felt so precious that someone so incredible would want to be around me. On the other hand, it fueled my anxiety that you would realize you deserved better at some point. But somehow, through all the hardships lately, you managed to genuinely convince me that I am worthy of your big heart and wonderful mind. Spending so much time with you and seeing what our life together entails even in hard times like these, makes me so excited for what’s to come. You continuously diminish that sad feeling of not ever being enough by simply loving me for who I am. I can honestly say that I’ve never been as happy as I am today.”

I was bawling by now because she spoke on everything that made me weak about her. Her vulnerability was probably one of the things I loved most about her. Hearing that I somehow helped her coming to terms with her insecurities was filling me with so much joy that I was scared my heart would combust.

“You’re scared of not finding the finding right words? You don’t have to. Teaching me to love myself without you even realizing it is all that matters to me”, the light-haired woman said and looked to Ally who used her free hand to hand her my matching wedding band.

“So, loving you for the rest of my life is not a decision I’m making today. It has been an irrevocable fact ever since I was fifteen years old”, Camila whispered while putting the piece of jewelry next to the matching one.

“What I’m promising you today is to never be silent again.”

If I hadn’t been a mess by now, she absolutely killed me with that line coming full circle with the beginning of her speech.

“I love you, too. Always have, always will.”

My lower lip was quivering so much that I had to bite down on it to hold back a sob. We were both smiling at each other and I was in awe of how happy I actually was. I wasn’t sure how much time passed until the officiant interrupted our staring contest by holding out our signed and sealed Marriage Certificate. My hand reached out to grab it but I suddenly felt two hands cupping my face and pulling me in.

The still trembling part of my mouth was now captured between the softest lips I had ever kissed in the most heartwarming affection. I instantly wrapped my arms around Camila’s waist while the younger woman was pressing her lips against mine with a mixture of passion and tenderness that was uncanny. If there was ever a moment that I wanted to relive for the rest of my life then it would have to be this one: the moment I officially became Lauren Cabello.

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A/N: I know it’s been a really long time but I’m still busy with moving and I don’t have internet access all the time. The chapter was longer but I had to split it because I wanted to give you something after almost two weeks. I’m sorry but I hope this makes up for it. It’s a bit cheesy and emotional but oh well haha

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