Ben goes first, claiming the honors as Mal’s original boyfriend.
“For a while,” he starts, a funny little smirk on his lips as he catches curious green eyes, “I thought it was going to be me and Mal...Where I’m from that’s what’s expected.”
Good ol’ Auradon, Mal chuckles to herself, where everyone marries their highschool sweetheart, pops out a few perfect kids to keep up the family business they’ve been in since dinosaurs roamed, all in the same boring houses side by side, wash, rinse, repeat once the kids are out of college in a neighborhood a few blocks over. While she had only traveled to the land in her later years with her friends from what most of the population considered the wrong side of the tracks (read: the rundown peninsula south of what Harry dubbed Bore -adon in fifth grade), Ben had the privilege of being the mayor’s son, right in the center of the occult activities she so easily looked down on before meeting him. Then the only high school the Isle, as locals call it thanks to the only piece of land connecting to the rest of society being a thin road used mainly for transporting supplies their land cannot produce or sustain- still technically a peninsula, though, Carlos likes to remind them- had to offer burned to the ground in a very tragic case of arson, and the teenagers of the community were granted free tuition to the private education of Auradon Prep, meal plans and boarding included thanks to Ben’s father.
That’s where she met Ben, sweet naive little Ben with his tourney stick and crowns on his swim shorts. He gave them a tour on their very first day, and he stuttered over his words as soon as his eyes met hers. That’s where they fell in love.
That’s where she fell out of love.
It makes this moment bittersweet, just as their entire breakup was. There weren’t fights, no one cheated, no one was miserable. They were good together.
But good together just couldn’t be enough forever.
Ben then glances over to Evie, and they share a grin. “And after the breakup, I went to Evie, actually, because she’s always been one of my best friends.”
Mal’s brows bunch in confusion, eyes dancing between the two of them. Never once had this been mentioned to her.
“We hadn’t been as close towards the end because I knew, and what nineteen year old boy wants to admit that his girlfriend is in love with someone else? And I told Evie how many nights I spent begging any star that would listen for Mal to look at me the way that she did her, and you know what she did?” he laughs now, the bride he mentioned following suit. “She apologized to me.” The crowd chuckles knowingly. What an Evie thing to do; apologize for Mal being helplessly enamored.
“I felt bad!” Evie defends, her hands covering her rouged cheeks. “You were so sad, and I made out with the girl that broke your heart like two minutes before you came over! I felt guilty !”
Mal’s mouth dropped open the same time Ben’s did, incredulous smiles across their faces as their loved ones only laughed harder, and they both, at the same time, yell:
“ That’s why you kicked me out to Carlos and Jay’s dorm?!”
“You made out with Mal within half an hour of us breaking up?!”
More than embarrassed, Evie takes the opportunity to end Ben’s speech right there, rising from her seat with her glass. She downs her wine in no more than three gulps and waves over to a waiter for a refill.
“To a quick and easy divorce!” she chirps, waving the crystal in the air before Mal tugs her back to share a kiss.
Audrey is kind enough to take the microphone, shaking her head at Ben’s astonished expression and mumbling about u-haul stereotypes and the crown wasn’t even cold .
“As many of you know, I had the unfortunate luck of living with these heathens for all four years of college,” she begins, earning sympathetic nods from the entire crowd. Mal wants to defend that she could’ve lived in the dorms like all their other friends, except she couldn’t have because they wouldn’t have been able to afford the apartment that Evie fell in love with immediately out of high school that was perfect for our college shenanigans, M!
No, Evie didn’t get into shenanigans in high school, but that was going to change, she said, so she would need her own space to do so, and with that look in her eyes and lip pouted, Mal was convincing Audrey to just look at the place that she, Evie, and-
“That is Uma erasure, ” said girl calls out, perched on Harry’s lap from the three seats down as she sips what Audrey assumes is a very strong mix of rum and coke.
Mal grins warmly at their bickering. She’d never admit it, but more than once she’s found herself lost in Snapchat memories, trying to laugh away the sadness she feels that they all aren’t just a room away anymore. She loves her place with just Evie, but there was something about the four of them together that she knows they’ll never find again. When they have sleepovers now, the ones she and Uma pretend they’re not as equally excited for as Evie and Audrey are despite it being their favorite night of the month, she will break out her old comforter set from college just for the occasion. She makes snacks that she remembers them sharing, and Uma will braid her hair while Audrey and Evie dramatically duet the musical number on the screen, whether it’s written as a solo or for a chorus, because they always pick what movie gets played.
She hopes that doesn’t change now.
“Shut up, you moved out halfway through junior year, you don’t count,” Audrey bites, rolling her eyes and getting back to the point. “ Anyways, even with knowing them long before, we didn’t really become close until we became roomies, and I can pinpoint the exact moment that Ums and I knew that Mal had it bad.”
Now, Uma gets up, walking over with an almost giddy gleam in her eyes. “Oh, shit! We’re pulling out the good ones today, huh? But what princess over here is getting wrong is that I definitely knew before her.”
Audrey bumps her with her hip. “Shut up, you did not!”
Uma takes the attention now, knowing exactly the situation her best friend is referring to. “So, in our place, our first present was this prissy pink little pot that Auds’ godmothers had given us.”
Evie’s eyes go wide and her hand flies to Mal’s. “Oh gods…”
“But the plant in there was fake, just for show so that we could pick one out and plant it or whatever, and we all realized that… well, all of us except Evie .” Uma takes a long sip of her drink as her audience soaks in the information. “She had her little morning routine, and it included, every day, for six months, watering this plastic plant she was so proud of keeping green, and it was literally the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, but then it starts bordering on like… y’know, cruel when she forgets one day and almost misses a class because she had to run back to water him instead of texting us to do it because Evie’s guilt over becoming that plant’s mom and forgetting a morning was… phew!... Absolutely fucking hilarious, but still Audrey, ever the buzzkill, says that we have to tell her.” A glare at the comment prompts her on. “Mal goes into fight mode. She makes us swear not to say a word to Evie about the plant being fake because guys, she’s so proud she even named him and do you see her smile when she thinks he got even greener? and blah blah blah the sun rises and sets around Evie existing .”
It’s Mal’s turn to blush, head ducking down. Evie lets out a little squeal, a quick flow of spanish that Mal only recognizes the words ‘ my love ’ in graces her ears and with a kiss to her cheek, she guesses it’s not the worst story in the world.
“That’s when I realized that Mal was a fucking goner, but she was still with beastie boy back then so… yikes.”
Audrey swiftly whacks Uma’s arm and takes the mic back, rolling her eyes. “Back to my story, it shortly follows that one, but it’s actually when Evie found out that our little plant wasn’t real.” She reminisces for a moment, much like she can see Mal doing from the head of the table. “We were having dinner, and Evie bursts in with tears streaming down her face. Originally, I hadn’t thought much about Mal wanting to keep it a secret because they’re best friends! Creepy close, but that’s just who they are, so whatever, and then Evie walked in crying, and Mal looked even more pale than usual- which is like… well you’ve seen her. It’s alarming! Then Eves screams out, ‘Six months!’ and we’re all confused, so Mal starts asking questions and Ums is like, ‘It’s probably nothing,’ and finally Evie just screams, ‘For six months, you watched me water a fake plant !’ and our kitchen goes silent.”
Again, Evie’s face finds refuge in her hands, the sounds of her wedding guests finding amusement in her stupidity most definitely not comforting her right now.
“Mal then has the nerve to stand up, walk over, wrap her arms around her, and with the most blown away look in her eyes say the words, ‘ You mean Augustus isn’t real ?’” Uma tells everyone, empty glass on the table and arms up in defeat.
“Thankfully Eves saw right through that one,” Audrey snickers. “She had answered the phone for one of my godmothers and when they asked if we had gotten a real plant to fill our pot yet, seeing as it’d been six months already, they mentioned the flower shops they recommended to Mal the previous week-- but that’s not even what made me realize…”
Audrey stops, her line of sight going from Uma to her pair of best friends now joined in marriage, hands clasped and smiles genuine. “It was after all of that and we cleaned up dinner, Uma was waiting in her room for us to watch a movie and you guys were in the living room on the couch. That little plant was on the table and Evie was just staring at it, the hardest I’ve ever seen her stare, and with the tiniest little voice says that she’s going to miss watering him. It was her favorite part of her routine. She’d tell him good morning, but now she just feels dumb doing it, and then she realized that if she was watering and watering and watering but no plant was drinking, where was that water? And that’s when I realized. Mal gave some dumb line about evaporation that Evie laughed at and clearly didn’t buy, but, no offense, I’d seen Evie water her plant, and for her to do that every day for six months and not flood our place? It had to be true love at work.”
Uma steals Audrey’s glass of champagne, waving it in the air with flourish and leaning into the microphone. “To Mal, Evie, and a certain potted present on the gift table with your names on it from your favorite ex roomies,” she winks, and if Audrey didn’t love her so much, she could swear the girl would murder her for spoiling the surprise.
Mal supposes that some things are just forever, and Uma and Audrey happen to be among them.
When Carlos is up, he cuts to the chase because he’s tag teaming. “Jay and I had a bet about who would tell who about their feelings,” he shrugs, no one batting an eyelash. “Most of you know because most of you were in on it, but our bet goes back- way back, to when we were kids.”
Jay nods, “Because Mal had the fattest crush on Evie when we were kids.”
“Shut up, I did not ,” Mal glares, but it’s too late, and her bride is chuckling.
“Babe, you had a crush on me? That’s so cute!”
“ No!” Mal yelps out at the same time that Carlos and Jay shout an eager, “ Yes!”
“I used to ask you every single week about it, remember?” Carlos snickers, “I would always ask how your dream girl is, then Jay would go, ‘Why don’t you just ask Evie? We’re hanging out with her soon,’ and Mal would ask why we would think Evie is your dream girl, so we would obviously say because you have a big, fat crush on her, and every single time, you would just go-”
The boys stop and simultaneously do the most obnoxious scoff that everyone can recognize as a signature Mal gesture.
Mal rolls her eyes, grabbing a dinner roll and throwing it at them with a glare. So maybe she’s a little emotionally stunted, what about it?
Jay’s part is Mal’s favorite. She’s a little biased because he’s Mal’s best man, but that’s not official because she knows that there would be a small riot if Harry found out that he isn’t the unofficial official best man.
Such a drama queen , Mal rolls her eyes internally before focusing on Jay.
“We’ve obviously been rooting for you guys for a while,” he says with a charming smile, standing a bit stiff in his suit, but she knows that he’s trying. Jay isn’t built for fancy clothes and large crowds, but he’s trying because his best friends are getting married, and that’s why they love him so much. She had told him she understood if he said nothing, she would get it, but he insisted that he wouldn’t miss the chance to embarrass her a little.
“I knew that I would be here when we were seventeen.”
It’s a bold statement, and everyone goes quiet. Seventeen was a year right in the thick of Ben. There were mentions of Ben before, mentions of their breakup by Ben himself, but everything was talking about the end or damn near it. No one dared to touch seventeen year old Ben and Mal, trapped in their little fairytale bubble.
No one until Jay, who is so sure of his words, but she doesn’t mind.
“I can remember every single time we were in a room together…” The corner of his lip tugs up, eyes focused down as if he’s remembering it all over again. “No matter who was telling the joke, she was always looking at Evie to see if she was laughing, too, and as soon as she realized that she was, the way that Mal absolutely lit up was insane.”
“We planned this speech out when we were seventeen,” Carlos confesses. “Jay and I were in our dorm after everyone left one night, and it’s after he told me about that, so I finally watch and see it happen, and he goes, ‘This is what we’re going to talk about at their wedding, isn’t it?’”
Evie’s eyes are full of warm tears, threatening to spill over because she can remember those nights. She remembers wondering if she was imagining Mal staring at her like that, so adoringly, and as silly as it sounds, it’s nice to know she wasn’t making it up from her now wife who could very well say she liked her for all of time and possibly still be being nice. She wouldn’t blame Mal for not returning her feelings during that period either.
Seventeen was the strongest year for Ben and Mal...just maybe not as strong as she thought.
In comparison, Mal looks like the air was taken right from her lungs. She obviously knows she had repressed feelings for Evie going back into her relationship with Ben, but was she really that obvious ?
She finally looks at him, takes that chance that he could be looking back, and he is- but he smiles.
A genuine smile.
A boyish, handsome smile that says I’m so happy that you found your place.
A lovable, delicate smile that whispers You never belonged with me, and we were just the last to find out.
She thinks in another timeline they could’ve ruled a kingdom together, in their fairytale bubble, in a world where she and Evie couldn’t be together.
“But I was the one that mentioned bringing up our bet!” Carlos slips in, bringing Mal back to reality.
“It was, of course, Evie that made the first move,” Jay pipes in proudly. “Best twenty bucks I ever made.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Carlos shoos him off, “but I was actually most surprised when Mal proposed first. Evie and I spent hours picking out a ring like two months before I can remember Jay even mentioning that Mal was thinking about proposing.”
“What?” Mal lets out under her breath, face flushing as she searches her wife- fuck, her wife - for an answer. Evie had made it a whole thing about getting Mal a ring as well, but waiting a few days after receiving her own, going as far as to mention some random jewelry stores in the area she was going to check out. Mal knew no better, passing along a family ring that she had resized for Evie earlier than she cares to admit, so she had kissed her goodbye and continued with her day.
“I just…” Evie shrugs bashfully, “I couldn’t find the right moment, and then when you proposed everything was just absolutely perfect.”
Mal can only gape, blinking a few times as she goes over this just one more time. “E, I spilled pasta on our $2000 carpet- the only item you special requested when we moved into our new apartment that you worked so many extra commissions to get-“
“I got it out with a little bit of stain remover…”
“I kneed you in the chin while you were cleaning it up-“
“It was an accident and didn’t even bruise…”
“I then felt guilty enough that I cried so hard I got a nosebleed and ruined our couch-“
“Always underestimating the power of stain remover…”
“When we were showering covered in my blood, the water shut off because I forgot to pay the bill again for the third time in a row-“
“It’s really like you don’t read my little notes on our calendar at all…”
Their eyes lock, and Mal feels closed in their master bathroom, safe at home, one of the fluffy towels that Evie insisted they need wrapped snugly around her torso. She can hear Evie suggesting delivery because the pasta on their coffee table is surely dried out, both emotionally drained and starving from Mal’s spill only two bites in. She can feel the haze of the steam around her from the hot water they did experience before it was so rudely shut off- stupid water company with its expectations for bills to be paid on time .
Most importantly, she can see Evie.
All she can see is Evie.
“And what did I say to you once we were out of the shower? When you were looking at me how you are now? All starry eyed and loopy?” her bride asks in a low voice, leaning in confidently.
Mal snorts, honest to god snorts, and in her best angry Evie voice recites, “ Earth to Mal, I’m actually starving so as precious as you are, please kick your ass into gear because you need to be dressed when the thai food gets here so that I don’t need to get out of bed. ” She could probably say it word for word in her sleep. She had been trying to plan the perfect proposal for weeks-dinner, a vacation, maybe an extravagant rouse with a new family pet- but nothing felt right until she was standing there, dumbly staring after ruining a perfectly planned evening, her girlfriend politely bitching at her stop being so disgustingly in love.
“To which your instantaneous comeback was?”
Mal proposed. In a hushed whisper, just audible enough for Evie to make out, she said, “ Marry me? ” She followed it with a louder, a less reserved, “ Please, E? Marry me? ”
Evie beams, fingertips rising through the air to trace across Mal’s cheek. The distant clinking on glasses and silverware, a silly Auradon tradition that Uma had insisted on leading when the couple was rarely apart throughout the night, occurs in the background, signaling them to share a kiss.
Evie effortlessly leans in, breath tickling Mal’s lips as she finishes off the conversation that they had so many months ago so they can finally close the space between them.
“As if you’d even have to ask, M.”