I Now Pronounce you Husband and Wife
It was a little under an hour before the wedding was scheduled to begin and everything was in full swing. There was chaos in Olivia's room as everyone was running around getting ready and Lizzie was reminding everyone of the time every five minutes. Everyone was dressed except for Olivia who opted to wait as long as she could before putting her dress on in case she needed to run to the bathroom. Her hair was done and styled in a modest updo with a white flower pinned to the side. Her makeup was simple as well. After arguing with Lizzie and Casey for ten minutes about it, she insisted that she did not want to walk down the aisle looking like a person that Elliot didn't recognize.
In spite of all the noise and commotion around her, she managed to find a quiet spot on a wall length bench in the bedroom and found herself overlooking the beach. The crashing of the waves and the stillness of the atmosphere matched her serene feeling. After not sleeping the night before in anticipation, she was shocked at how peaceful she was. She didn't have the slightest bit of nerves and she mindlessly played with her engagement ring while watching the preparations for the ceremony on the sand below.
"Hey what are you thinking about over here?" Maureen asked sitting beside her.
"Nothing actually. Just taking it all in," she responded wistfully.
"Good for you. If I could give you any advice it would be for you and dad to just take some time together throughout the day to take it all in. It all goes by so fast, trust me."
They sat quietly for a few instants before Olivia stole a glance at Maureen who was now watching the beach as well.
"You're thinking about her aren't you?" Olivia asked.
"Yeah," she said sadly. "She would've loved to be a part of all this. I think that's partly why Lizzie is in drill sergeant mode. She's trying to take Kathleen's place or something because that would've definitely been her role if she was here," she laughed.
"Oh yeah I'm sure," Olivia agreed.
"Were you thinking about your mom?"
"Yeah a little. I don't even know if she would've wanted to be here with how everything was with me and her and the drinking of course but I think she would've liked your dad. She would've been a little slow to admit it but I think she would've." They squeezed hands briefly both silently willing the other not to cry.
"Ok ladies we are now almost within the 30 minute window for the ceremony to start," Lizzie announced.
"Thank you Miss Time Keeper," Maureen responded rolling her eyes.
"Anyway. Liv we need to be getting you in your dress soon," she said pointing to the sleeveless chiffon dress with the sweetheart neckline that hung on the back of the ensuite bathroom door. Olivia knew it was the right gown for her the second she saw it in the bridal shop. It was A-line so it didn't hug her bump and the material was light, flowy and perfect for the beach. It was simple and classic, just like her ring.
"Liv, you good?" Casey asked sensing her hesitation.
"Yeah," she responded simply.
"Well I know you are not a traditional girl but humor me here for a second," Casey said reaching for a small box. "We need to get you something borrowed, blue, old and new. I have a few things here."
"I have old and new covered. My engagement ring is new and El's Semper Fi medal he gave me is old." Lizzie was listening to the conversation and almost shuddered in horror. "Umm Liv, not to be a buzzkill because I know that necklace is really important to you but you absolutely cannot wear that with this gown. It would look all wrong."
Olivia and the rest of the ladies laughed in response. "She has a point Liv," Alex agreed.
"I know that so I got a smaller chain for it and I'm going to wear it as a bracelet. See," she said pulling it from some tissue paper in a box. "It matches perfectly."
"Whew thank God," Lizzie responded holding her chest dramatically.
"I think I have the something borrowed and blue covered," Bernie said from the door startling everyone. "I've been holding on to these for some time. No time like the present to share them." Everyone stood back while she made her way to sit across from Olivia and open the small black velvet box. Inside were the most beautiful earrings that she had ever seen.
"Oh my god…they're..I don't know what to say."
"These were my grandmothers. They've been in the family for ages. Right Maureen?" Bernie said prodding Maureen.
"That's right. I wore them at me and Jason's wedding, Grandma wore them at hers and now you will wear them. Keeping the Stabler family tradition alive."
Olivia struggled with words since she was so overcome with emotion but managed to thank Bernie.
"It's my pleasure dear. Thank you for everything you have done for my son. Not just over these last months but while you were partners too. I think he would've gone down the path of his father a long time ago if it wasn't for you. I have my son back and I know that you are a large part of the reason why," she said holding Olivia's hands in hers.
"You take good care of those earrings Liv. I'll need them for when I get married," Liz added trying to ease some of the sentiment in the room.
"Don't worry Lizard," Maureen said wiping away a stray tear. "By the time you get married, it will be Noah's wife that you need to worry about getting the earrings from, not Olivia." The room erupted in laughter to Liz's annoyance. She deflected Maureen's comment and addressed Olivia. "Do you still need a few minutes or can we get you in this gown?"
Olivia agreed and ten minutes later everyone was tearing up taking in her appearance showering her with compliments. A chorus of 'You look so beautiful' and 'Elliot is going to be blown away' filled the room and all she could think of was that she couldn't wait to hear seven little words, "I now pronounce you husband and wife."
There was nothing short of pandemonium on the men's side as well. They were at the hotel getting dressed and even though Liz was not there barking orders, she was blowing up her dad's cell phone every other minute with a question, comment or demand. If it wasn't her on his case, it was Dickie. You would never know they were twins because they didn't look that much alike but on days like this, it reminded him that they were.
"Dad, you aren't answering your texts. Liz wants to make sure you don't forget your vows. I can hold them for you if you like."
"I don't have them written down. They are all up here," he said pointing to his head.
"Oh shit, Liz is going to freak. I mean shoot," he corrected himself.
"I don't know why. I don't need to have it written down to know what I want to say to Olivia."
"Yeah but no offense dad you've never been the best with words," Dickie says to Elliot's chuckle.
"It'll be fine son."
"Alright Stabler. Get your ass up so I can make sure your tie and everything is straight. That's my job as co-best man right?" Eric asked. "I'm a grown man and this isn't my first rodeo. I'm pretty sure that I know how to check my tie."
"Ok good point. Are you nervous?"
"Nahh. Not at all actually," he said shaking his head. "I thought I would be but I'm probably cooler than I've been in awhile."
"Man remember when you first came to the team?" Eric laughs at the memory. "You were all nervous and uptight and shit so we tried to get you some tail thinking you just needed to unwind."
"I can't believe you guys did that," he reminisces. "It took a couple of weeks before I realized what the real deal was that you were a love sick fool and even longer for you to admit it to me." Elliot can't help but recollect how distant he was when he first joined the FBI and how the other agents looked on in shock when beautiful women would practically throw themselves at him and he would always turn them down. His thoughts were only of Olivia. He didn't know if she would ever forgive him for leaving the way he did but his sole focus was getting himself together so she could let him back in her life. Now here he was, an hour away from making her his wife. "I'm happy for you Elliot. Olivia's an amazing woman," Eric says breaking his reverie.
"Yes she is."
"I'm sure she can do much better but lucky for you she has low standards," Fin interrupts drawing laughter from everyone in the room.
"Yeah yeah," he responds waving him off. He gathers Noah and Eli together for another once over to make sure they are good to go. He gives the rings to Eli who says he will guard them with his life and looks very proud to be given such an important responsibility. Noah managed to take a nap in the middle of everything earlier so by the time he's dressed and they are about to go he's wide awake and alert.
"Ok. Let's head out to the limos," Dickie announces. "We need to be pulling off in the next five minutes or Lizzie is going to explode."
"How about a toast before we head over?" Munch announces. Everyone raises their glasses and Elliot holds up Noah's hand with his sippy cup in it. "Here's to Olivia…and her low standards."
"Melinda can I have my cell phone for a second?" Olivia asks. She is in her wedding dress with her bouquet and they are getting ready to head downstairs. Melinda eyes her suspiciously at her request. "Why do you need it?" she asks worrying that she's trying to check work emails or make a work related call. "I just want to send Elliot a quick text. You can stand right here and watch me."
Melinda finally hands it over and she sends the text before handing it back. Melinda sneaks a peek at the text before putting the phone back in her purse. "Congrats Liv," she says and turns to head downstairs while Don walks up."You look absolutely beautiful Olivia," he says trying to stop the tears that are threatening to come out."Thank you Don."
"Are you ready to do this?"
"More than ready. Let's do it." She takes his hand and they make their way down the stairs to a small area near the study that's out of sight from the guests that are already seated. She looks around for signs of the guys but it looks like they aren't there yet.
"Before we go out there I just wanted to tell you…I—", she tries to choke out before Don interrupts her.
"I know," he chokes out. "Me too." He knows she loves him but he didn't want her to say it then when he was barely holding on to his tears.
Elliot's limo pulled up to the beach house and he watched the excited faces of his sons as they marveled at the decorations. Fin, Munch, Nick and Eric rode in a separate car while Elliot opted to spend his last few moments before marrying Olivia with his sons. It was a short ride but he appreciated having some quiet time alone with them and watching them interact. Lizzie managed to have the outside area all set up and wedding ready in the matter of a couple hours since they left to go to the hotel shortly after the adoption. It almost looked like a completely different house. As they got ready to exit the limo, Elliot checked his phone to see a text message from Olivia.
I will see you soon at the altar. I'll be the pregnant one wearing the white dress. Oh and I can't wait to be your wife.
He smiles to himself when he reads the text. Finally neither one of them is walking out of the other's life. They are walking towards a life together.
Olivia takes a deep steadying breath before she walks down the short aisle. She's a bit nervous initially at all of the eyes staring at her as she begins to walk. She notices briefly the guests' reactions and phones being pointed at her taking pictures but when she sees Elliot at the end of the aisle, she doesn't see anyone else. Their eyes meet and she sees the stray tear that has escaped and he doesn't bother to wipe it away. Instead he stays solely focused on her with his arms folded in front of him.
"Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" Judge Linden asks.
"I do," Don says in an even tone. He hugs Elliot and places Olivia's hand in his as they both step forward to stand in front of the judge.
While the judge goes through the normal wedding rhetoric, Olivia and Elliot are almost completely tuned out to the scene around them and tuned in to each other. She continues to stare at him and the intensity and emotion that she sees in the blue eyes that have watched over her for years and witnessed her in turmoil, pain, happiness and contentment brings on her own tears. In her eyes, Elliot sees the vulnerability and compassion he saw for years as her partner on the streets of Manhattan and the love he's experienced as her partner in life.
"Elliot and Olivia have prepared their own vows that they would like to read to one another. Olivia?" the judge prompts.
She takes another steadying breath before Alex hands her the vows she has written down and begins reading.
"Elliot. It's hard for me to remember a time when I didn't love you. I have never had a person that I felt like I could completely count on and trust with my life. There was a time in my life when I always asked myself "Why me?" "Why did certain things happen to me?" "Why was I always alone?" I couldn't see the light in the world because I was always surrounded by the dark…. and then you happened. It's like one day I woke up and my life had changed. You, Elliot Stabler, are my life and I don't sleep. You've seen every side of me, even the parts I don't always want to see. You are my other half. Be it good, bad or sick. Being your partner at SVU was an honor but being your partner in life is truly the greatest gift of all. So on this day in front of our children, family and friends I promise you that I will love you unconditionally, protect you fiercely and be your light in the darkness. P.S. I promise when things get rough, I will never ever run back to Oregon," she joked trying to regain her composure and people in the audience laughed while wiping away tears.
"You may now read your vows Elliot." He took a moment to gather himself after hearing her words so he wouldn't stumble all over himself.
"I didn't prepare anything before hand because I wanted to do something that I didn't do a lot in my past which is just speak from the heart. Olivia, there was such a long time in my life that I thought I never did anything right. I thought that any blessings I did have I didn't deserve so I didn't appreciate them and took them for granted, but when I stand here today looking at you and my children, I know I must have done something right. It wasn't that long ago that I was drowning in such a sense of loss and desperation that I thought I would never see the other side. One of the few things that kept me going was the hope that one day you would forgive me and let me back into your life. At best I hoped for your forgiveness and friendship but I…," he choked up and cleared his throat to continue. "I never thought that I would get not only those things but your heart too. You will probably have to convince me everyday that I deserve you but I promise you that I will always be there for you and protect you. I love you immeasurably. The limited time I have here would never give my feelings justice. You have every part of me Liv, my heart and my soul. I promise you that you can trust me with every part of you too. I will always be here for you because us as a whole is greater than the sum of our parts."
Olivia wiped away his tears and cupped his cheek when he finished.
The judge continued with the vows. "Olivia Benson do you take Elliot Stabler to be your husband? Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect him, forsaking all others as long as you both shall live?"
"Elliot Stabler, do you take Olivia Benson to be your wife? Do you promise to love, honor, cherish and protect him, forsaking all others as long as you both shall live?"
"Can we have the rings please?"
"I have them! I have them!" Eli shouted emphatically causing everyone to laugh.
"Olivia place the ring on Elliot's finger and repeat after me. This ring is my sacred gift, with my promise that I always love you, cherish you and honor you all the days of my life. With this ring I thee wed."
They both repeated after the judge and when it came time for Elliot to put the ring on Olivia's finger he whispered in her ear. "Look at the inscription inside."
She glanced briefly and saw the words that had meant so much to them. Semper Fi. The inscription was engraved inside his ring as well, a reminder that no matter what they were always faithful to each other in every way.
"By the power vested in me I now pronounce you husband and wife. Elliot, you may kiss your bride," the judge announced to applause from the audience.
His hands framed her face as he kissed her on the lips tenderly. The kiss went on a little longer than normal and the cheers quickly turned to amusement.
"Ok ok dad," Dickie said while the judge looked on smiling.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Stabler."
After walking down the aisle arm and arm, Elliot pulled Olivia into the same small space that she and Don gathered when she was getting ready to walk down the aisle.
"Elliot what are we doing here? Don't tell me you are trying to get a quickie," she joked.
"No. I just..I want to just spend a moment with you before all the mingling and pictures and music," he said seriously placing his forehead against hers.
"Mmm, that's a good idea," she said. "Maureen said we should take a moment to ourselves."
"I actually gave her that advice."
"I guess I married a smart man," she said kissing him.
They held each other for a few more moments just breathing and taking in everything.
"You're my husband," she smiled up at him as if it was just hitting her. "Can you believe it? You're really my husband."
"Yes I am," he said. "And nothing makes me happier."
They held each other a little longer until Lizzie came barreling in. "There you guys are. Come on we need to take pictures before the reception."
"Can you give us a minute?" Elliot asked.
They started bickering and Olivia started to hold her stomach with a weird look on her face that got both of their attention.
"Liv? Liv? You ok? Is the baby ok?" he asked concerned.
"It's fine El, it's fine. It's just…kicking. The baby's kicking," she said in wonder. "Here, feel it," she said putting his hand to her belly. It took a minute but he finally felt the slight movement. "Isn't it amazing?"
"Yes it is," he agreed placing a kiss on her lips.
"Can..can I feel?" Lizzie asked timidly.
"Yes of course you can. Come here honey," Olivia responded motioning her over. She positioned Lizzie's hand where she thought she could feel the movement and after a moment Lizzie jumped back in delight at feeling the kick.
"I felt it. She's ok, she's really ok in there," she repeated in amazement. "My sister's ok."
"Yes the baby's ok honey," Olivia said rubbing her arm and reassuring her. "Everything is going to be fine."
"So you are on the girl bandwagon too hunh?" Elliot teased putting his arm around her and kissing her head.
"Not really. I'm sorry dad. I peeked at the gender results, I couldn't help myself," she said looking guilty.
"Yeah. It's a girl," Lizzie announced. "And most importantly she's ok."