It shouldn’t mean much. It’s a glance across the teacher's lounge, him seated at the table with Emma, her leaning near the coffee machine, but there’s a familiar crinkle to his eyes, a softness to his smile, one that appears only when he catches her eye. She doesn’t miss the engagement ring around the redhead’s finger, and she can’t deny the way her stomach churns and her fingers tighten around her mug, but then Will’s looking at her, with those eyes, and her stomach settles. But only for a minute, because she remembers the wedding invitation (her little sister, the beauty of the family) sitting on her kitchen counter, and she wishes she had the courage to ask him to be her plus one.
But his fingers are entangled with another woman’s, and their gaze is broken by something Emma says, his laughter bursting forward because of something Shelby didn’t say, and she realizes how foolish she’s been. Turning, she adds her one sugar, one cream, and breezes out of the teacher’s lounge, making a mental note to send the invitation back with the lonely woman’s choice checked.
omg your tag but ok as long as you’re asking how about shelby watching will marry emma and feeling stupid for getting upset ok go
It was a very stupid idea. The invitation fell onto her kitchen table amidst junk mail and bills, and she knew the moment she picked it up that he had nothing to do with the selection of announcements. It was very neat, and prim, and it screamed Emma. It was even scented. (She washed her hands three times after picking it up, and they still had the faint smell of lavender on them. Shelby has never liked lavender.) And yet, she knew it wasn’t Emma’s idea to put her on the guest list. It was Will’s. She didn’t know how to feel, and yet, she found herself checking the small yes box, pushing away her bitterness. She didn’t feel the need to put plus one. The one she would have wanted to go with would be there already.
She bought a new dress, which was unnecessary and expensive, but it made her look good, so she forgave herself the frivolity. She hired a babysitter, different from her usual, because Quinn and Puck would both be at the wedding. She sprayed her favorite perfume on her wrists and dabbed it behind her ears, and she pulled out her brightest and best showface. Her dreams may have fallen flat in New York, but they taught her how to fake a smile better than any acting class could have. She knew she’d need it.
She sat in the back. She smiled politely at Rachel, and then a little softer at Quinn, with an amused grin at Puck’s wink, shaking her head. And then, somehow, the wedding march began, and her stomach twisted into knots, and the entire congregation turned. Save for one. Shelby stared into her lap, stoic and silent, unable to stomach the sight of the blushing and undoubtedly beautiful bride. Soon, they stood at the altar, hand in hand. But that wasn’t what broke Shelby’s heart. When the preacher asked for any objections, Will’s eyes didn’t stray from Emma’s. He didn’t stop looking absolutely in love, he did not search the crowd for dark eyes and darker hair, he didn’t look for a way out. He didn’t want one. He was in love - and he didn’t need Shelby.
She had always known that he wouldn’t need her. It was stupid to think that he would search the crowd frantically, begging her with his eyes to release him from the terrible mistake he was about to make. It was dumb to be upset. It was very, very dumb. She couldn’t even hate him - he looked so genuinely happy that she could only wish him the best. But even that was dumb. He already had it.