How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on… when in your heart you begin to understand… there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend… some hurts that go too deep… that have taken hold. Bilbo once told me his part in this tale would end… that each of us must come and go in the telling. Bilbo’s story was now over. There would be no more journeys for him… save one.
“Explain it to me again - why do we need to pretend to be married?”
Steven was getting deja vu feelings from back when Connie had told her parents Steven’s family was nuclear. He had hated lying then, as a kid who didn’t even know what nuclear meant, and he hated it now as an adult.
“My family’s really traditional,” Connie said. She was keeping herself distracted, avoiding his gaze, as she tidied up the living room. “Like, most of my extended cousins have arranged marriages traditional.”
Connie’s extended family was visiting from India. Though she had seen them a handful of times in India, this was the first time the family was flying over to visit her and her parents - and Steven. In their living room.
“They’re already gonna be pretty upset I’m not with an Indian man, so let’s not try and anger them further,” she chuckled.
He ran his hand through his hair. “I still don’t think I get it. I mean, you’re fine with not being married? You think it’s just a piece of paper.”
“It is just a piece of paper - to me,” she said. “My family sees marriage differently than I do. They see it as a lifelong commitment. So, in their eyes, I mean, we kind of are married. We’re living together - and we’re in a committed relationship, aren’t we?”
“Yeah, of course!”
“Then you agree,” she stated, and before he could say another word, she said, “now help me move this table.”
When he had finished changing into a nice set of clothes, she approached him with a ring.
“What’s this?” He asked as she took his hand.
“Wedding rings - if we don’t wear them, they’ll ask. This way they’ll stay pretty quiet.”
He noticed her mother’s engagement ring on her finger. She stuck the ring on his finger. It was a bit snug, but she didn’t seem to notice - or care.
When Connie’s family arrived, Steven fell into the background as the room filled with people shouting in sentences mixed with English and Hindi. When everyone had greeted Connie and the room quieted just enough for her shouts to be heard, she brought Steven forward.
“This is my husband, Steven,” Connie said, holding his hand tightly.
With his free hand, he waved. “It’s nice to meet you all!”
Grandma Maheswaran mumbled something in Hindi.
“How long have you been married?” asked an aunt.
“Two years,” Connie answered.
“Why didn’t you invite us to wedding?” asked another aunt.
“We had a small ceremony to save money,” Connie said.
“Kids?” asked Grandma.
“We’re waiting until I get a promotion at my firm,” Connie replied.
Steven was surprised she had all the answers. He wondered if she had pre-planned the lies or if she thought of them on the spot.
The room felt slightly tense until a cousin said, “I’m happy for you, Connie!” And the room erupted in conversations.
Steven was getting a snack when a cousin approached him.
“Steven, yes?” asked the cousin. “Connie’s husband?”
He nodded. He thought hearing the word husband might make him feel weird because it was technically a lie - but it felt weird in a good way.
“How long have you been married, again?” the cousin asked.
Steven couldn’t remember how long Connie had said. Was it two years? Three?
He said truthfully, “We’ve been together since I was seventeen.”
The cousin nodded. “Your relationship is good?”
“Oh, yeah!” Steven laughed. “I mean, I love her like crazy. She’s so incredible, too. I,” he laughed again, “I could just go on and on about her.”
The cousin chuckled. “So she’s a good wife, eh?”
Steven looked over at Connie across the room. He watched her embrace her grandmother. She laughed with her cousins, tilting her head back.
“Connie’s a great wife,” he said more to himself.
“Did you have fun?” Connie asked as she tossed a plastic cup into the trash bag.
“Yeah,” Steven said as he swept the living room. “Your family’s great.”
She sighed contently. “It’s so nice to see them. It’s funny - I like never see them, but they never feel like strangers. The minute we reunite, it’s like we just saw one another yesterday.”
He smiled at her. He was so happy for her.
“It wasn’t too weird, pretending we were married?” Connie asked as she threw a plate away.
“No, actually,” he said as he put the broom down. He walked toward her. “It, uh, actually felt kinda right.”
“Right?” She teased. She threw another cup away before setting down the trash bag. “How so?”
“Well, you were right. I mean, we’re living together - we’re committed to one another. We don’t need a piece of paper saying we love each other.”
She nodded. “Yeah.”
“But,” he said, taking her hands, “it’s a lifelong commitment, isn’t that what you said? Getting married is kind of like, doing an action to show the world you intend to keep that promise, huh?”
Her voice was getting quieter. “Yeah.”
“Well, Connie,” he said as he got down on one knee, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I know we don’t need it - you know I love you - but I want to show you how much I love you. I want to show you that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. So, will you marry - ”
Connie threw herself into him, and they crashed to the floor.
“Yes!” She said, laughing.
When she pulled away for him to look at her, he smirked. “I thought you said it was just a piece of paper?”
“Yes, well,” she said, clearing her throat, “the tax break will be nice.”
aaaaaaay i was to submit this a day earlier (easter sunday) but alas; procrastination’s a dick, so sorry! but hopefully easter monday will suffice? any excuse to draw neamhni in that one bunny onesie tbh
i hope you like it; and happy late easter! (depending on your timezone of course)
yoooo what!! would you look at this– how rad! Thank you so much for drawing this oh my gosh (and happy easter to you too! :D)