The two crept quietly into the house. While everyone else would be asleep, Azura wanted to make sure they didn’t disturb anyone either. She led him into the family room and they sat down on the couch. Rogelio pulled her close to his side, nuzzling his cheek against hers.
“I never thought to have this,” Azura murmured after a moment. “It seemed like a fairy tale.” She swallowed. She so rarely talked of her early life, of her parents. It was just too painful for her. She could talk with Bella about it because Bella had been there for much of it. But Rog… She felt she could tell him anything. So as they sat there, just holding one another, Azura told him about the day the colors faded for her. She had already explained to him a bit about the research she and the Goths were doing, but this was the first time that she’d been able to tell him what had prompted it all.
He didn’t say anything for a long moment, the hand on her back just gentle rubbing in small circles. When he did, his gaze was tender on hers. “We’ll bring the colors back for you, my love. I’ll do whatever I have to in order to make sure that will happen.” Then he kissed her as if sealing that promise.
She closed her eyes and just savored the moment. Azura hadn’t let herself hope in a long time. Her obsession with the old manuscript, even approaching Bella and Mortimer hadn’t put this feeling in her chest. A feeling of lightness, of blossoming hope that was fragile, but nevertheless, it was a start. She let out a sigh, then lay her head on Rogelio’s shoulder and let sleep take her, for the first time in a long time, her dreams held a bit of color.
Azura had been a little afraid adding someone else to the household might disrupt things a bit, but in truth, Rogelio was proving invaluable, and not just to herself. He was quite handy and after one of the toilets downstairs sprung a leak for the fourth time that month, he was in there fixing it himself instead of having to call a plumber.
Even Alex and Cassie quite liked him. Azura often found him chatting with Alex in the morning before school. He’d have Alex rolling quite a bit with some stories from his youth.
“Nu uh!” Alex exclaimed. “Did you really?”
Rogelio chuckled lightly. “I’m afraid so. My uh… teachers weren’t overly pleased with me, of course.”
Alex giggled then he saw Azura. “’Zura, Uncle Rog let a bunch of frogs out in the halls in school!”
Azura arched a brow at him. “He did, did he?” She grinned. “And why, pray tell, did he do such a thing?”
Rogelio grinned at her, the look in his eyes making Azura’s cheeks flush.
“Why, to impress a young lady, of course,” he told Alex, turning back to him, winking at Azura. “Watcher only knows that we poor menfolk are powerless to resist when a girl bats her eyelashes at us and talks about the plight of the poor little creatures in the science room.”
Azura almost choked on her coffee as Alex let out a gagging noise. “Girls are icky!” he exclaimed. “And weird!”
“Am I weird?” Azura asked him.
He blinked. “Oh no, Aunt ‘Zura! I didn’t mean that you were weird!”
“What about your mom and sister? Are they weird?”
Alex seemed to think about that for a moment. “Well, Cassie can be a bit weird at times, but no, I guess not.” Still thinking, the young boy got up to go get ready for school.
Azura turned to her boyfriend. “Can we not try to corrupt the poor thing?” she asked with a laugh. “Alex’s a good boy.”
Rogelio inclined his head, grinning unrepentantly. “That he is. And he’ll learn all too well. Not much longer before he’ll be a hormonal mess as well. It happens to us all.”
Azura giggled. “I suppose you have a point there. Don’t mention that to his mother yet, though. She’s not ready for him to grow up quite yet.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Rogelio promised. He watched Azura walk out, needing to get ready to leave for work.
After giving Azura a hug and a steamy kiss before she went out the door, Rogelio wondered out to the dining room table. Bella and Mortimer had emerged and were eating some breakfast. Rogelio sat down with the book he’d selected and gave them a smile as he sat down. “Morning, folks,” he greeted them.
“Morning, Rogelio,” Bella greeted with a smile. She looked over at Mortimer, a little blush coloring her cheeks while Mortimer gave her a look much as Rogelio had given Azura that morning.
As Rogelio and Mortimer began an animated conversation, Bella got up and excused herself so she could go work in the garden. She felt a little pang. Mortimer and Rogelio were of an age, both several years older than her and Azura. Mortimer had swept her off her feet, much as Rogelio had done to Azura. But seeing the little hint of gray in their hair, hearing how the two talked of things that neither she nor Azura could understand was a constant reminder of the age difference. Not that it had stopped any of them, obviously. But Bella couldn’t help think on it every now and again. She couldn’t help smiling though when she heard the subject of fishing come up. Knowing they would be at that discussion for a while, she tuned it out and went out the back door to her garden.
Rogelio stretched and got out of bed. After their discussion, he and Mortimer had gone fishing together. Two old guys at the river bank. It had felt good, though he was feeling his age a bit and they’d both headed to their rooms for a quick nap. He looked over at the bedside clock and his eyes widened. Azura was going to be home any moment now! He ran to his dresser and reached into the back and pulled out the little jewelers’ box. He had thought about taking her for another date and doing this properly. But he thought doing it here, at the house would be more intimate. The Goths were her family and doing it here would have more meaning, he thought.
He heard the door open and slid the box into his pocket then strode out of their room. He found the love of his life in the kitchen. It was true what they say: the kitchen is really the heart of the home. It certainly was in their house. She looked lost in thought, but when she heard the footsteps and saw him, her face lit up and then she was in his arms, greeting him with a kiss.
“Hi,” she said breathlessly after he held her at arm’s length.
“Hi yourself,” he murmured. He seemed to be drinking her in with his eyes, his gaze sweeping over her from head to toe. He was nervous. He didn’t think he would be. It felt so right. He’d never been one to really do things on impulse. He’d been planning this for a while now, since before she’d asked him to move in. But now that it was time, he found himself nervous. But looking at her, feeling that punch in the gut that always seemed to accompany that first glimpse of her each time, he could only smile. He reached into his pocket even as he knelt down on one knee in front of her.
Azura could only stare at him, not quite computing what she was seeing or hearing. “Azura Lynn Chroma,” Rogelio began, “I knew from the moment I set eyes on you that you were the one. It was like a punch straight to my heart. I never really believed in fairy tales, until I set eyes on you. You have become my very own fairy tale, my Princess. Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife? Of sharing the rest of our lives together, however long that may be?”
Nothing came out. Azura just stood there, unable to speak past the lump that had lodged itself in her throat. Tears pricked her eyes, making Rogelio’s upturned face blurry. Her hand had gone to her chest to make sure she still had a heartbeat. She was fairly certain that her heart had stopped for a moment there.
After what seemed like an eternity for her, but was in reality only a few moments, Azura choked out, “Yes. Yes, I’ll marry you.” He slid the ring on her finger, his own eyes shimmering with just a hint of tears as well.
He stood up and they kissed tenderly, Azura letting out a little sob of noise as she tried not to cry in sheer happiness.
With a sudden wild whoop of delight, Azura leapt into Rogelio’s arms! He looked startled, but he managed to catch her at least. Older he may have been, but he was still in very good shape.
Cassie, who had been creeping at the edge of the kitchen, not wanting to interrupt the beautiful moment, ran in, cheering for them. Rogelio grinned, unable to tear his gaze away from Azura’s. She was going to be his wife. It still seemed a little unreal to him. To both of them, he thought, judging by the look in her eyes as well.
He set her down and once again, they were wrapped up in one another’s arms. Cassie let out a sappy sigh at the table. “That’s so sweet,” she murmured.
“Maybe we should just elope,” Azura sighed one night a few weeks later. Between work and the wedding planning, she was a bit overwrought.
“Nonsense,” Bella said briskly. “You’re almost there. I wish you would relax a bit more and let us handle things,” she said. “I promise, it will be beautiful.”
“Oh, I know that,” Azura assured her. “I do. I just… I would feel awful leaving it all to you.”
“Azura,” Bella said, putting her hand over her friend’s. “It’s ok, really. You’ve been working non-stop lately. You’re stressed out. Your wedding is your day. I want it to be special for you. So, let me take care of things for a while, alright?”
“Mom’s right, Aunt ‘Zura,” Alex piped up. He was doing his homework. “Mom’s good at this kinda stuff, aren’t ya, Mom?”
Bella grinned at her son. “Yes, yes I am.”
Azura stared between them bemusedly for a moment, then she threw up her hands, laughing. “Alright, alright. I’ll leave it in your capable hands, Bella.”
“Excellent!” Bella exclaimed. “I promise, you won’t regret it.”
The next month or so passed in a whirlwind. True to her word, Bella took over the wedding plans. Azura hardly had to lift a finger unless it was just to make a choice between two colors, or two kinds of stem-ware. It was suspiciously easy. And before she knew it, the day of her wedding was upon them.
As Bella had promised, things were perfect. She’d had a wedding arch set up in their backyard, even ordering a beautiful fountain and arrangement of flowers. It was beautiful. Azura stood under the arch with Rogelio, their guests looking on. Azura really left like a Princess, decked out in her light blue gown. Rogelio looked dashing in a white fedora.
“You’re beautiful,” he whispered. “You take my breath away, Azura.”
“Oh Rog,” she murmured. Tears threatened to spill over. “I-I’m so happy. Y-you make me so happy.”
As everyone found their seats, Azura and her husband-to-be could only look at one another and both count their lucky stars.
When everyone was seated, the music started. Swallowing, Azura took Rogelio’s hand in hers and then slid the ring onto his finger. “With this ring, I thee wed,” she murmured, never taking her eyes off of him. “I promise to love you, to cherish you, to be your friend and confidante for as long as we both shall live. I will be there to lift you up and to support you all of our days together.”
Rogelio held her hand and slid the ring onto her finger. His voice was a bit gruff as he recited his vows. “With this ring, I thee wed. I promise to love you, to cherish you, to be your rock and your support. I swear to you that I will help you paint your world with color once more. I will be there to lift you up and to support you all of our days together.”
And with a kiss to act as a final seal on their promises to one another, they became Mr. and Mrs. Chroma (Rogelio was only too happy to take Azura’s name as his own).
After the ceremony was the reception. They started with the cake-cutting. And then of course there was the feeding each other cake. Azura’s eyes twinkled. “Be nice,” she warned her new husband.
“You too,” he said, giving her a wink. She laughed and the two gently fed each other, both being on their best behavior, if for no other reason than they knew the other would get even.
They made the rounds afterward, sitting and chatting with as many of their guests as possible. Nancy, Geoff, and their son had come as well as a few people that Azura had met through work.
Shortly after that, Rog and ‘Zura made their escape with the help of Bella who took care of shooing any of the guests out of there. She told Azura that she and the kids would take care of clean-up. “It’s your wedding night. Enjoy it!” Bella said with a wink.
Azura laughed. “Oh we will!” Taking her husband’s hand, she led him upstairs. Once in their room, the two just stood there for a moment, looking at each other. Then Azura leaned forward. “Well Mr. Chroma?” she asked.
“Thought you’d never ask, Mrs. Chroma,” Rogelio answered, grinning devilishly.
They changed out of their wedding attire and hopped into bed, giggling like children.
Later on, as Azura lay in her new husband’s arms, she felt his mouth curl into a grin as he whispered in her ear. “Good night, Mrs. Chroma.”
She grinned back. “Good night, Mr. Chroma. Sweet dreams.”
“I’ll be dreaming of you, so of course they will be.” Flushing, her heart going pitter-pat in her chest, Azura closed her eyes, happier than she could remember being in a long time. Her dreams held a beautiful sunrise, bringing with it a light wash of color.