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Will he think me weak? (If I tremble when I speak)
By thegirl20


She wakes early, the pain in her abdomen dragging her out of slumber quicker than she'd like. In the excitement of the previous evening, she had forgotten to take her painkillers before bed, so now there's a persistent, nagging ache in her side. She pushes herself up on an elbow, hissing as it stretches her damaged muscles. Charity wakes with a start behind her.

"Babe?" A gentle hand touches her hip. "Babe, you okay? What is it?"

Vanessa pats her hand, trying not to wince. "Nothing, it's okay, I just forgot to take my tablets last night so-"

Charity's up and out of the bed before she can even finish. The bedside lamp goes on and Vanessa blinks a few times before she can focus. Charity trips over something, stumbling a little before catching herself on the end of the bed. "I'll get them. God, I'm sorry, I should've reminded you. I just-"

"We were both a bit distracted, Charity," Vanessa says, with as much of a smile as she can muster. She presses a hand over her wound, trying to relieve some of the pain.

Charity's lips curl as though she's only just remembered what happened the previous night. "Yeah, yeah we were." She nods once. "Be back in a tick. Don't move."

Easing herself onto her back, Vanessa lets out a sigh and removes her hand, lifting it up in front of her face so that she can admire the ring Charity placed there barely ten hours ago. Her smile grows as she inspects it. It's subtle, dainty even, and a little unusual. And beautiful. Vanessa couldn't have picked a more perfect ring herself. It's thrilling that Charity knows her so well. Stolen carriages and peacocks aside, when they got down to it, the proposal was everything Vanessa could have wished.

"You like it, then?" Vanessa looks up to find Charity approaching the bed, glass of water in one hand and Vanessa's pills in the other. She nods to Vanessa's hand. "The ring? I don't think I actually asked you if you liked it last night, did I?"

"I love it," Vanessa tells her, before she can second-guess herself or her choice. "And I love you."

Charity smiles and ducks her head, setting the glass of water down before settling on the bed beside Vanessa. "Good." She pops a couple of pills out of the blister pack. "Bet you're glad I never took your Tracy to help me pick it, eh? You'd have ended up with something that could sink the Titanic on your finger."

Grinning, Vanessa accepts the pills and chucks them in her mouth, washing them down with a mouthful of water. She takes Charity's left hand in her own, turning them so the ring's on top. "It's perfect. And yes, I'm glad you picked it."

There's a moment where their eyes meet and Vanessa feels goosebumps ripple along her arms, the same way they had the day before when she'd realised that Charity had a ringbox in her hands. The same way they did when Charity asked if she could stay with Vanessa forever. The same way they did when Charity told her she loved her for the first time. She smiles and lifts her free hand to the back of Charity's neck, tugging her down.

"C'mere, you." Their lips brush together in the softest of kisses. Charity's been treating her like a china doll since this whole stabbing nonsense, and Vanessa knows that any exertion right at this moment would hurt like hell, no matter how much she wants to deepen the contact, she keeps it gentle until Charity pulls away enough to kiss her nose.

"Oh, babe," she murmurs, the words warm against Vanessa's lips. "Tell you what, when you're better I am gonna keep you in this bed for at least a week."

"Promises, promises." Vanessa smiles against Charity's cheek.

With a final peck to Vanessa's chin, Charity sits up. "So, what d'you fancy doing today?"

"Well, I was thinking." She strokes her thumb over the inside of Charity's elbow. "Since we're just after getting engaged, that we might want to, I don't know...tell everyone we know?" She lifts her eyebrows at Charity's frown. "Is that...not what people normally do? Tell folk?"

"Well...yeah." Charity nods, slowly. "I mean...if that's...is that what you want to do?"

"Are you kidding?" Vanessa laughs, then winces. Charity's hand immediately goes to cover her injury, not pressing or rubbing, just sitting over the top of her dressing. "Charity, I want to tell everyone. If I wasn't a bit impaired at the moment, I'd get up on the flamin' roof and shout it for the whole village to hear."

Charity's face does that thing it sometimes does when Vanessa says something that surprises her. It's like a mask melting off, revealing the softest, most wonderful smile Vanessa's ever seen. "Yeah, well, don't even think of trying that." Her eyes are clear and earnest. "Not sure I could take another-" Whatever she was going to say is cut off when she bites her lip, her eyes falling to Vanessa's side.

"Hey," Vanessa soothes, lifting her hand to sift through Charity's hair and noting that the pills are starting to kick in. "I promised you I wouldn't give you another scare like that again, didn't I?"

Nodding, Charity tries to smile, but the fear in her eyes is unmistakable. "Yeah, and I'm holding you to that."

Before Vanessa can reply, a muffled beeping sound starts up somewhere along the hallway. Glancing at the clock, Vanessa's surprised at how late it is. "Noah's alarm?"

"Yeah, must be."

Vanessa struggles into a sitting position, forcing Charity to move back, quirking her eyebrows in question. "Well, we need to catch him before he goes to school, don't we?"

"Do we?" Charity asks, standing up and helping Vanessa out of bed.

"If we're going to be telling other people later on, we can't have him be the last to know." Vanessa hands Charity her dressing gown and puts her own on. "He's the one that this is actually going to affect. Well, the only one who'll understand that it'll affect him, at least."

Panic flares in Charity's eyes, and she twists the belt of her gown in her hands. "He's also the one who's lived through my...ummm, previous disastrous marriages."

Vanessa nods, setting her mouth in a firm line. "How do you think he'll take the news?"

"I dunno, babe." Charity shrugs. "It's not that...he likes you. He definitely likes you now, so that's not..." She sighs. "I dunno."

Vanessa swallows, sudden worry making her stomach feel heavy. "Will it...will it make a difference if he doesn't-"

"No." Charity strides over to her, taking hold of her shoulders. "No, babe. I'm marrying you. If he's not happy about that then...well, he'll just have to get used to the idea." Vanessa smiles and Charity leans in and kisses her, she stays close, hands drifting down Vanessa's back to her waist, gently pulling her in. "Nothing is going to keep me from marrying you. Okay?"

"Okay," Vanessa whispers into Charity's neck, allowing herself to be gently rocked. "Good."

They make their way downstairs and when Noah traipses into the kitchen, there's a brew and two slices of toast and nutella waiting for him. He looks from the plate to the two of them.

"What's going on?" He puts his bag down on the couch. "Has summat happened?"

Charity looks over at her and smiles. "Yeah, you could say that." Vanessa moves over and takes Charity's hand, linking their fingers together and squeezing. "Babe, we've uh...we've got some news."

The worry clears from his face. "You're getting married."

Charity's hand tightens in hers. "How did you know?"

He picks up a piece of toast and rips it in half. "Not like it's the first time I've heard that from you, is it?" He takes a bite. "Was either that or you're pregnant and I don't think Vanessa would be grinning like an idiot if it was that, do you?"

Vanessa laughs. She lets go of Charity's hand and approaches him, careful not to get too close and trigger the Dingle flight response. "You're the first to know. We wanted to tell you first because...well, this affects you too."

"I knew it were coming when you moved in." He shrugs. "It's fine."

"It's more than fine, babe," Charity says, moving to stand beside her. "It's real this time. I promise."

He looks at his mother for a long time, and Vanessa wills him not to disagree, not to crush the hope in her eyes. Finally, he nods. "Well, you've had worse."

Charity's mouth drops open in a gasp, but Vanessa laughs so hard that she has to grab her side. Charity's beside her in a second, hands fluttering around her. She waves her off, meeting Noah's amused eyes.

"I'll take that as a compliment, shall I?" she asks.

"Take it however you want," he says. He tilts his head. "I'm not calling you 'mum'."

Vanessa shakes her head. "Wouldn't expect you to."

Picking up the other piece of toast, he smiles at his mother. "Well, congratulations or whatever." He shifts his gaze to Vanessa. "Can I wear a kilt to the wedding?"

She shrugs. "Why not?"

"Why not? Because we're not flamin' Scottish!" Charity interjects, shaking her head at Noah. "Has Moira turned your head or what?"

"I think he'd look right handsome in a kilt," Vanessa says. She clasps her hands over her heart. "Oh! We could get them for Moses and Johnny an'all!"

Noah grins at her, but Charity pushes his shoulder. "Wedding outfits still to be decided." She rolls her eyes. "Now, get to school, you."

He shakes his head, and flashes a smile at Vanessa over his shoulder as Charity shoves him to the door, she grabs him and plants a kiss on his cheek, causing him to scoff and rub at his cheek, but he's still grinning as he heads out.

Charity turns to her and holds out her arms. "Well...that went...fairly well!"

She nods, smiling. "It did."

Sweeping across the room, Charity cups her face and kisses her soundly. "I love you," she whispers, before kissing her again. "And we're getting married."

"We are," Vanessa laughs, sweeping her hands up and down Charity's back. "We're getting married!"

"Well, thank God for that!" They both turn at the sound of Chas' voice, finding her grinning at them from the doorway. She winks. "Congratulations." Shaking her head, she blinks away tears and heads over to them, wrapping them both up in her arms. "Awwww, I'm made up for the pair of you."

Charity rolls her eyes at Vanessa over Chas's head. "Thanks babe." She pats her back and she lets them go. Vanessa moves closer, smiling when Charity wraps an arm around her. "And you better get the Dingle drums going, because this one wants to announce it to all and sundry."

"I'll make some calls," Chas says with a wink. She squeezes Vanessa's shoulder. "Seriously, I couldn't be happier."

She bustles out of the room, wiping at her eyes. Charity sighs. "What a stupid, soppy cow she is."

"Shut up, Charity Dingle." Vanessa snuggles closer to her. "You love her to bits."

Charity lets out a soft laugh. "Yeah." She presses a kiss to Vanessa's forehead. "But don't tell her that."

Shaking her head, Vanessa draws her fingers along her mouth. "My lips are sealed."

"Yeah?" Charity smiles and leans in. "Let's see if I can do anything about that."

Vanessa closes her eyes and lets her fiancée kiss her.

The End

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