Edelweiss was engineering a major overhaul of the ol’ homestead. With Malcolm there, though, she was having a hard time concentrating. No matter what they did, even if parts of them were entwined and interlocking, she just couldn’t get close enough to him. But that didn’t stop her from trying at every available opportunity.
If the two of them weren’t doing stuff, they were half-present, basking in the afterglow, fueling up for the next round.
“I didn’t even know that was on the radial menu,” Ede said sheepishly, picking at her food.
“It’s not,” Malcolm smiled.
With Malcolm’s assistance Ede had determined that she could get away with storing most of her family’s vital items, moving a couple “keeper” rooms to safety, and then radically demolishing the rest of the house & starting over. Scary, but also pretty exciting!
“I think it’s going to be a lot nicer with more open space back here,” Ede remarked.
“Keeping the observatory?” he asked.
“Maybe? Haven’t decided.” She added, playfully, “We should probably check out the inside.”
It wasn’t just me that noticed their inseparability. A certain figure from the past had been observing them for several hours before he finally decided to make his presence known.
“Dad??” Ede scolded, “What are you doing?!”
The late Dianthus had been toying with Malcolm a bit – Malcolm handled it well. The initial shock of having an ethereal presence leap through his chest twice wore off and he wasn’t freaked out or pissed off, so Dia decided that it was probably okay to go ahead and introduce himself.
“There are three of you now, so it felt like a good time for me to say Hi.” Dia’s voice sounded a bit eerie, as though there were several of him speaking at once. Still, it had a gentle, relaxed quality to it that put Malcolm at ease.
“Malcolm Presley. I.. love your daughter.” It wasn’t what Malcolm intended to say, but it’s what came out.
“I can see that,” Dianthus smiled.
They all had a nice visit, catching up on the goings-on and such. Dia seemed a bit more carefree and less self-conscious than Edelweiss remembered him; perhaps shedding his mortal body had removed the need to try to fit into it. If that was true, it gave her something to look forward to.
Dia had to go, but he wanted to tell Malcolm one last thing.
“You don’t need it, but you have my blessing.”
It really did mean a lot to have his blessing. Malcolm had a great deal of admiration for Dia, even though they’d never formally met. The man had produced and nurtured a unique person who’d become very dear to him. And as an author, he was unlike any other Malcolm had chanced upon – Malcolm was still enjoying exploring his works.
The strange encounter gave Malcolm just the confidence boost he needed to finally do something he’d been wanting to do since that first cooking lesson.
“I haven’t been home in days, and still I find myself not wanting to leave you,” Malcolm began.
Ede smiled, and he grinned and took a knee.
“You said that I needed to decide if I was ready,” he said. “I am.”
Malcolm produced a ring and handed it to Edelweiss, who held it up to the light as though she were trying to ID an artifact – perhaps she’d find a bit of writing only visible at a certain hour of the day that would give a clue to its origin and purpose.
“What would you do if I swallowed this thing, right now?” she asked. “I’m feeling a certain panic.”
“Well, I guess I’d stay here kneeling a bit longer,” he said. “Reassess my life goals. Wonder if you needed medical attention.”
“That sounds unpleasant. Your poor knees.”
“Yes, let’s try to avoid that,” he smiled.
Malcolm waited there patiently, sure and true. Ede wanted to take his face in her hands and kiss it. She loved that face. His often-cocked brow. That little muscle just beside his mouth that tensed to form his smirk. The bridge of his nose. His eyes. She loved his brain as well; could she kiss that, somehow? Maybe she’d simply crawl up around him and live there at his shoulders, like a stole – she wouldn’t make any trouble, just hang out until she melded into his body and didn’t have to struggle with an individual consciousness any more. She wandered further, entertaining all manner of other high-contact low-class thoughts that probably shouldn’t be described here.
“Edelweiss?” he asked, leading her back.
“Wanna get married?”
“I believe I do,” she said. “Yes.”
Somehow the perplexing, glowing band of light made it onto her finger,
and they were back in each other’s arms where things made sense again.
“Thank you for asking,” she whispered into his neck. “I really do want to.”
“What did your dad mean, there are three of us now?” Malcolm asked Ede later.
“Me, you, mom? He’s a loner so he doesn’t like crowds. I almost never see him, so this was pretty unique!”
“Oh, right. You hungry?”
“Ravenous,” she laughed, playfully shoving past him as she ran for the kitchen.