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[personal profile] dollsome
Title: The Best of It
Pairing: Rory/Paris, ft. the Stars Hollow ensemble
Chapter: 13 (Previous chapters here)
Word Count: 5,300



Part 13: Emily Says Hell No

By the time afternoon rolls around, Richard and Emily Gilmore having dinner in Stars Hollow sounds like the greatest way to spend an evening that Rory could ever imagine.

Anything that’s not dancing sounds like the greatest way to spend an evening that Rory could ever imagine.

On the plus side, after hours of rehearsal she’s pretty sure she and Paris are prepared for tonight. If they’re going to do the stupidest and most unnecessary dance known to mankind, well, at least they’re going to do it well!

What’s going less well is actual interaction with Paris. With every hour that passes, she seems to retreat more and more into Robot Paris mode. By the end of the practice, Rory’s resigned herself to the futility of trying to start any small talk that isn’t directly related to giving Republicans Firelight Festival nightmares for years to come. She knows how Paris gets sometimes, so fixated on whatever she’s trying to accomplish that she forgets to operate on a normal human beingly level.

But it’s been awhile since she was like that with Rory. Over the years, Rory has secretly prided herself on her ability to snap Paris out of it and bring her back to the world of the mostly non-crazy.

She feels like she’s seventeen and accidentally did something to make Paris hate her. It still leaves the same hollow sick sinking feeling in her stomach, but roughly a million times worse. Back then, Paris was the almost-a-friend that Rory never could have predicted. Now, Paris is like a limb or something. Maybe even more important than a limb. Necessary for a complete Rory Gilmore existence.

The grandparents’ car is already parked outside the house when they get home from Miss Patty’s. Emily must have been watching from inside for the camera crew to show up, because she bursts out of the front door with all the subtlety of Scarlett O’Hara and cries, “Rory, Paris! There are my girls!”

“Simply divine, Emily!” Nigel effuses, scurrying up the driveway. “Will you do that again so that we can capture it properly on camera?”

Emily, of course, obliges.

“Jeez,” Paris grumbles, watching the déjà vu unfold.

“You’re the one who got them involved,” Rory sing-songs under her breath, and then they’re swept up the steps and into Hurricane Affectionate Grandmother.

“It’s so good to see you both,” Emily says, wrapping an arm around each of them and guiding them into the house. “Albeit at a very strange time for dinner.”

“We have to be back at Miss Patty’s at five thirty sharp for costumes and hair and makeup,” Rory says, and manages not to grimace while saying the words.

“Oh, as if either of you will need any makeup. You’re flawless as can be.”

“Look who’s talking!” Paris says in that fake-Paris voice. Rory’s getting really sick of that voice. Of this fake world where Paris and her grandparents are best pals and they’re all one big family and everyone is happy and capable of holding casual conversations with each other.

When they step inside the house, Rory is immediately overwhelmed by delicious food smells. It’s clear Luke has been making some miracles happen in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Emily and Paris seem to have spiraled into some sort of complimenting-each-other competition for the camera, and Nigel is eating it up.

“Richard! Come sing Paris’s praises with me,” Emily calls.

Richard puts down the copy of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) that he must have discovered on the coffee table. “Gladly, my dear.”

Nigel does a giddy little bounce as Richard joins the party.

It feels like a good opportunity to sneak away.

And so sneak away Rory does, ducking into the kitchen. Luke is at the stove working his magic, and Lorelai gets up from the table at the sight of Rory.

“Hey, dancing queen! I thought I heard a girl and her trusty camera crew.”

“Then why didn’t you come say hi?”

“Well, I would have, until my mother decided we needed to coordinate our casual greeting of you by bursting out of the front door like Keira Knightley in a Chanel commercial. You know me, I like a good dramatic entrance, but things were veering dangerously close to Jenna Maroney level madness.”

“I forgive you,” Rory says. “Mostly because I’m too exhausted to hold a grudge.”

Lorelai pouts sympathetically. “Aw, honey. Break any toes yet?”

“Only the toes of my dignity.”

“Huh?”

“Yeah, don’t expect me to say anything that makes sense today.”

“Poor little groove thing shaker.” Lorelai kisses Rory’s temple. “Have you had coffee?”

“I’m about ten percent Rory, ninety percent coffee at this point in time.”

“Yikes. That’s probably not what the doctors would call wise.” Lorelai pauses mock-thoughtfully for a moment, then drags Rory toward the coffeepot. “Well, come on, let’s see if we can get you to ninety-five.”

“Indubitably, Dr. Gilmore,” Rory says, and accepts the cup of coffee that her mother pours for her.

“She’s never gonna sleep again if she drinks that,” Luke warns, “and she needs sleep.”

“Is it that obvious?” Rory asks, just loving that confidence booster.

“You look great,” Luke backtracks sheepishly. “You always look great. It’s just a sleepy great right now.”

“I wouldn’t say no to some sleep,” Rory says. “Like, say, sleeping through this entire stupid night and not waking up until the only cameras in Stars Hollow are the ones on everyone’s phones.”

“Pfft,” Lorelai scoffs. “Do the great lords and ladies of the dance let sleep get in their way? Did Natalie Portman sleep in Black Swan? No, she did not. When she was in bed, she was doing things that you should never do in front of your mother in front of her mother. On second thought, maybe sleep isn’t the worst idea—”

“I’d really appreciate it if people would stop making Black Swan references,” Rory declares.

“You won’t hear any Black Swan references from me,” Luke vows.

“Because you don’t know what it is?” Rory ventures a guess.

“Exactly,” says Luke.

“You’re a good one, Lucas Danes.” Luke bristles slightly at the ‘Lucas,’ but doesn’t verbally strike back. Aw. Being an old married person has really softened him. “And,” Rory continues, “it smells amazing in here. Thank you so much for leaving the diner to cook for us.”

“It’s no problem,” Luke assures her. “In fact, you probably did me a favor. If Kirk had asked me to give him feedback on his talents—and I use that word loosely—one more time, he would have gotten to see my talent, which happens to be beating annoying people to death with a spatula.”

“And making amazing mid-day feasts,” Rory teases. “Don’t sell yourself short.”

“Get a man who can do both,” Lorelai says with a hearty wink. Then she says to Luke, “Wait. Are you saying you’re willing to make Lulu into a spatula widow?”

“Kirk,” Luke announces grimly, “has been working on his bellydancing. See, I know that because he showed me.”

“There’s a certain quiet dignity to being a spatula widow,” Lorelai decides.

“Why was Kirk bellydancing at you, exactly?” Rory asks. A dim dread starts to rise up in her.

“Oh,” Luke says, with the tense too-calmness that always precedes his most legendary rants. “He’s decided tonight’s his night to make it big. Apparently, he’s gonna be in the background impressing America at the Firelight Festival. He plans to, and I’m quoting here, ‘make background the new foreground.’”

“Oh boy,” says Rory.

“He’s a man of many talents, according to him and only him. The struggle – once again, according to him – was deciding which of those talents to show off. I saw bellydancing. I saw juggling. I heard the song stylings of Kirky Beige the Macy Gray impersonator.”

“Oooh, Macy Gray!” Lorelai says. “I haven’t thought about her in forever.”

“Where is Macy?” Rory muses.

“So Rory, just try to stand in front of him tonight while there’s filming going on,” Luke concludes. “And maybe wear tall shoes.”

“You mean high heels?” Lorelai says.

“Same thing,” Luke shrugs.

“Not really,” Lorelai says with an affectionate-slash-judgy huff. To Rory, she adds, “It’s like the man has never heard of platforms.”

“Then shouldn’t we envy his ignorance?” Rory says.

“Good point,” says Lorelai.

Rory adds another concern to the ol’ worries pile that is the impending evening. It feels inevitable that Kirk is going to crash into either her or Paris at some point tonight, and that somebody’s walking away with some grievous bodily harm.

Or not walking. Most likely not walking.

The only way to triumph over the feeling of dread paralyzing her body, she concludes, is to lean into the silliness.

“Maybe he’ll do a live reenactment of his short film,” she speculates. “It’s been way too long since I saw A Film By Kirk.”

“I sent you the YouTube link!” Lorelai says indignantly.

“If I watched every YouTube link you sent me, I wouldn’t have time to get dressed in the morning!”

“You exaggerate,” Lorelai accuses.

“You didn’t have to link me to every Ylvis music video. I get it. They’re funny and Norwegian.”

“But Rory,” Lorelai implores in an annoying sing-song, “what’s the meaning of Stonehenge??”

Rory makes a dramatic show of collapsing face-down onto the table. An action that has become an unsettlingly regular habit over the past few days.

It’s actually kind of comfy, considering the circumstances.

Who needs a pillow when your eyes are closed and you’re resting on a flat surface?

“What are you doing?” come Paris’s sharpened tones.

“Paris,” Rory says, forcing her eyes open and sitting up. “Hi.”

“You’re fading fast,” Paris determines with a sort of clinical coldness.

“Not all of us embraced the dark kiss of vampirism so that we’d never have to sleep again, Edward Cullen,” Rory says grumpily.

“That was a weirdly specific Twilight reference.”

“I had to read them to make sure my mocking was accurate!”

Paris huffs impatiently, making strands of hair dance around her face. “Nerd.”

Then she leans down and presses her lips to Rory’s forehead, which would have been enough of a dead giveaway that the camera crew had ambled in even if you couldn’t hear the footsteps. Rory looks over, and sure enough, there they are, accompanied by Richard and Emily.

“Go to bed and close your eyes for fifteen minutes,” Paris instructs. “It’s as good as a five hour nap. That’s scientifically proven.”

Even the words ‘five hour nap’ make Rory’s heart ache with longing. “That doesn’t seem possible.”

“It got me through med school. You’ll deal.” Paris pauses for just a second too long. “Sweetheart.”

Rory notices her grandfather watching them with concern. Rory gives him a weak, what-can-you-do smile.

Meanwhile, Nigel is committed as ever to making TV magic happen. “Emily, Lorelai, I’ve been dying to get you together. This must be such a special evening for you,” he says excitedly.

“Having my parents over for dinner? Nige, it’s the stuff dreams are made of.” Off Luke’s doubtful look, Lorelai says, “What? Dreams, night terrors—same difference.”

“No, no, I meant—” Nigel pauses, puzzled. “Is having your parents over for dinner really such a rare occasion?”

“Uh, of course not! They’re over for lunch, breakfast, you name it.”

“Those are the two other meals,” Luke tells her. “There’s nothing left to name.”

“Okay, brunch denier,” Lorelai scowls. “Shunner of linner.”

“You just let me know when linner catches on,” Luke says.

“The trend is starting tonight, buddy.” Lorelai pokes his shoulder. “You’re one of the forerunners of the linner revolution, whether you like it or not.”

Emily clearly decides to just pretend her daughter’s not speaking—a pretty common Emily Gilmore tactic. “We just love small town charm, don’t we, Richard?”

“Can’t get enough of the stuff,” Richard says affably.

“That makes three of us!” Nigel exclaims. Emily titters sociably. Sobering, Nigel says, “But no. I’d really love to hear your thoughts as Rory’s grandmother and mother on her big day.”

Something about the phrase ‘big day’ sends a gross shiver through her.

“It’s not that big,” Rory protests. “It’s not like being born, or graduating college, or watching the Lord of the Rings extended editions for the first time.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Nigel says rhapsodically. “It seems big to me! A fairytale festival!”

“Firelight Festival,” Rory says glumly.

“Nigel, we would love to chat with you,” Emily declares graciously.

“Uh, I guess we’d love to chat with you, then,” Lorelai says with a very unconvincing smile.

“Wonderful! Where would you like to talk?”

“Here in the kitchen should be fine,” Lorelai suggests.

“Really, Lorelai? The kitchen? You want us to be interviewed on television sitting in your kitchen like some scullery maid?”

“Sorry we don’t have a drawing room, Mom. Sorry we can’t convene in the parlor.”

“I think the front porch would be simply perfect,” Nigel interjects brightly. “There are few things more charming than spending an afternoon just lazing around on a good front porch.”

“Nigel, I always say that,” Emily says, at which point Lorelai breaks into a very suspicious coughing fit.

Paris clears her throat, snapping Rory’s attention back to her.

“Fifteen minutes,” Paris says brusquely. “Rest. Now. I’m stealing your parents’ bed.”

“So you do need sleep like the rest of us.”

“Can it, Bella,” Paris says, and then turns and storms away. She does a furious little heel click before she disappears from Rory’s view. Determined to perfect those dance moves until the very end.

Meanwhile, Nigel herds Emily and Lorelai and the camera crew out onto the porch.

“Ookay, then,” says Rory. She turns to ... well, her grandfather, since he got miraculously left out of Nigel’s interview plan.

“Um, I guess it’s super fast naptime for me before the big night begins. According to Paris, I’ve got fifteen minutes.”

“Good idea,” Richard says. “If you need someone to wake you in fifteen minutes, I’d be happy to oblige.”

“Please do,” Rory says. “I’m sorry you didn’t get to be in Mom and Grandma’s special interview.”

“I think I’ll find the will to live on,” Richard says wryly. “Especially with some light reading at my disposal. She’s funny, that Kaling girl. Paris should try reaching out to her on Twitter instead of provoking Donald Trump at every turn.”

“You read Paris’s Twitter?” Rory asks, smiling.

“Oh, I’m on the cutting edge of technology,” Richard assures her with a twinkle in his eye.

“I don’t doubt it,” Rory says. “You know, if you’re in the mood for witty writings of TV funny ladies, you might like Bossypants by Tina Fey too. It’s fluff, but it’s good fluff, you know?”

“I do enjoy her credit card commercials. You’ll have to show me how to download it onto the Kindle.”

“I thought you were on the cutting edge of technology,” Rory reminds him.

Richard smiles at her. “There’s one exception, and it's called making excuses to spend time with my granddaughter.”

Rory smiles back. “Goodnight for fifteen minutes, Grandpa.”

“Goodnight for fifteen minutes, Rory.”


+

FULL TRANSCRIPTS OF INTERVIEW SEGMENTS – PARIS & RORY’S MODERN STARS HOLLOW FAMILY - EPISODE 6: “THE FIRELIGHT FESTIVAL”

INTERVIEW – Lorelai Gilmore and Emily Gilmore

LOCATION – the front porch of the Gilmore/Danes residence

INTERVIEWER
Now, Lorelai, you’ve made it clear that you enthusiastically support your daughter’s relationship.

LORELAI
Team Raris forever. Or as I like to call it: Team Pory Gilger.

[Let the record state that EMILY looks not precisely impressed by this team name.]

INTERVIEWER
And Emily, you spoke glowingly of Paris to us in the past.

EMILY
Can you blame me? The girl is an angel.

LORELAI
One of the biblical ones. You know, with the sword and the twelve faces.

EMILY
Lorelai, really.

LORELAI
I’m saying that with a future mother-in-law’s love. Obviously. Hey – it’s kind of like all those lovely descriptions of Luke you used to come up with, Mom!

EMILY
I’m sure it is.

INTERVIEWER
You said, Emily, that you and Richard have loved Paris ever since Rory brought her home to meet you years ago. But was it ever a struggle for you to accept that your granddaughter has chosen to spend her life with another woman?

LORELAI
Fun fact about my mother, Nige: a more accepting person has probably never drawn breath on this earth.

EMILY (smiling)
You’re too kind, Lorelai.

LORELAI
How could I not be, with such an accepting mother? It’s just the way I was raised. I tell you, Nigel, this woman is an angel. The fluffy clouds and harps kind. Can’t you just imagine a halo atop that auburn head?

EMILY (smiling harder)
Nigel, I’m going to answer your question now.

INTERVIEWER
Spectacular!

EMILY
While no, I did not expect my granddaughter to spend her life with a woman, I’m happy to support her in all her decisions. As my daughter said, I’m a very accepting person.

[At this point, LORELAI is overcome with a coughing fit. Perhaps plagued by some illness?]

EMILY
Do you need a lozenge, Lorelai?

LORELAI (recovering)
Do you have a lozenge, Mom?

EMILY
I most certainly do not. You don’t carry around cough drops in a Louis Vuitton.

LORELAI
Ricola tease.

EMILY
Nigel—

LORELAI
Riiiicolaaaaa!

EMILY
It’s true that on occasion in the past, I’ve gotten carried away with thinking I know best about the lives of my family members. It’s possible that once or twice, this tendency has caused conflicts between myself and my loved ones.

LORELAI
That was before she became so accepting, you see.

EMILY (oddly pensive)
Yes, it was. [A pause.] But I love Rory with all my heart, and I’m proud to be there for her, whatever she chooses. It’s an honor to be a part of her life, and one that I hope never to jeopardize by regarding her with judgment instead of support. One can waste so many years when they approach life that way, even if they think they’re acting out of love. The fact that Rory trusts me enough to let me into her life ... I count myself very lucky to have gotten that chance. It’s hard to imagine what these past many years would have been like otherwise.

LORELAI
Aw. Mom.

INTERVIEWER
Lorelai, you sound like you’re not used to hearing your mother talk this way!

LORELAI
Uh, of course I am, Nige. This woman is a regular well of compliments and affection. Hey, Mom! Tell him all the good stuff about me next.

EMILY
Oh good Lord.

INTERVIEWER
Oh, yes! Let’s hear the good things about Lorelai! I’m sure that list would go on for pages and pages.

LORELAI
Well, I don’t know if we have time for pages. But heck, Mom! Treat us to page one.

[A long pause.]

EMILY
Lorelai manages to eat an astonishing number of French fries without dropping dead from congestive heart failure. I suppose you could call that a skill, in its own bizarre way.

[Another long pause.]

INTERVIEWER
Ha ha ha! Oh, goodness gracious. You almost had me there, Emily! Let me guess: that was your best Lucille Bluth impression.

LORELAI
‘I don’t care for Lorelai.’

INTERVIEWER
‘I don’t care for Lorelai.’ Oh, classic!

The INTERVIEWER and LORELAI laugh hysterically.

EMILY
What?

INTERVIEWER
‘Get rid of The Seaward.’

LORELAI (in a shockingly effective Snooty Old Lady voice)
‘I’ll leave when I’m good and ready.’

The INTERVIEWER and LORELAI continue to laugh hysterically.

EMILY
What?


+


It turns out that fifteen minutes is a hideously brief amount of time.

Rory finally nods off. What feels like one second later, there’s a light knock on her bedroom door.

“No, whyyyyyy,” she mumbles, and takes a few seconds to feel abjectly sorry for herself.

Then she sits up. The act of sitting up may be the hardest thing she’s ever had to do. Forget fixing her life after the whole dropping-out-of-Yale debacle. Forget turning down Logan’s proposal. Forget leaving her mom and the promise of dozens of rollercoasters behind in order to very suddenly become an employed journalist-shaped adult. This, this business of sitting up—this is the hardest challenge Rory Gilmore has ever had to meet.

She does it.

But man oh man, is it intensely unrewarding.

Finally, she finds the strength to (at least try to) smooth her hair and calls, “Come in!”

Richard enters obediently. “You look exhausted, poor girl.”

“Nothing a team of professional makeup artists can’t fix,” Rory says, trying to sound chipper.

“When all of this is over, you deserve some relaxation. I tell you what: I’ll have your grandmother book you an appointment at one of those lavish spas of hers.”

“Honestly, I would rather spend a weekend reading in my pajamas.”

Richard chuckles. “A girl after my own heart.” His eyebrows furrow as he looks at her more closely. “You are all right, aren’t you?”

“Sure,” Rory says with a sigh. “Cameras following me everywhere? I’m living the dream. At least according to Madeline and Louise.”

“But you’ve never been interested in fame for fame’s sake,” Richard says discerningly.

“No. And I gotta say, I don’t know how Taylor does it.”

“The power-mad man who makes you all congregate in the dancing barn? I wasn’t aware he was popular.”

“Swift. Sorry, I should have clarified.”

Richard laughs, and Rory feels a slight sense of I-don’t-entirely-hate-the-world in her heart. “And how’s Paris holding up?”

“Oh, you know. She’s Paris. She’s terrifying in her thirst to succeed. All that fun stuff.”

“Ah yes,” says Richard. He sits down at the foot of Rory’s bed. After a moment of tactful silence, he says, “Things seem a bit chilly between you two.”

“Yeah, well. It’s been a long two weeks. We’re both just tired.”

“I can imagine. I suppose you’ll be glad when all of this is over, hmm?”

“Oh yeah. Once things are back to normal, it should—it should all be good.” Rory puts on the best smile she can, and thinks about drifting back into pre-Nigel normalcy. There’s a part of her that hates the idea of being so far away from Paris, and another part that wants to lean into the way things were before and pretend that nothing’s changed.

She suddenly feels so overcome with the urge to cry that it almost makes her head ache. Without quite meaning to, she covers her face with her hands.

“Rory?”

“I’m fine,” she says shakily from between her fingers, not completely able to keep the weepiness out of her voice. “I’m fine. I just – I was up really early rehearsing breakfast with Madeline and Louise, and I said ‘on fleek’—”

“Dear God. Why?” Richard murmurs, aghast.

“And Madeline and Louise said—” Rory stops.

“Said what?” Richard asks.

“They seemed to think that maybe Paris ...” Rory inhales. “... that she ... liked me back when we were in school. You know. In a more-than-friends kind of way.”

“Ah,” Richard says.

“And it’s completely crazy, and when I talked to Paris about it she said it wasn’t true, and I know I should just believe her and get over it. But I know her, and I know that she gets like this sometimes, where she gets so stubborn and stuck in her own head that she won’t admit what’s really going on, and instead she just turns into this really efficient terrifying robot person, and if that’s what she’s doing this time, I don’t want her to get trapped in it. I don’t want us to miss whatever chance we might have. But then it sounds so stupid to say it out loud, because it’s Paris, and how are we even supposed to be in a relationship? We’re like the strangest best friends ever. It’s a miracle we still talk to each other. It defies science! Did you know that she’s declared us to be mortal enemies for life on at least six separate occasions in the twelve years we’ve known each other? And now, what? She’s my Pacey? And so I try to tell myself that once this is over and we’re past it, I can get back to imagining that person I might be with someday. Get back to thinking about how—how they’re out there, and my life still has all this possibility. But when I do think about it, it just makes me really sad. Because they won’t be her.”

Rory finally succumbs to the urge to cry. She can’t remember the last time she needed a good cry quite this much. Or, to be more accurate, a really bad ugly cry. There’s no way this isn’t an ugly cry.

Then comes her grandpa’s hand on her back and his voice, gentle. “I know that feeling, as it so happens.”

“You do? Why?” Rory is so, so, so not in the mood to find out about the (second) dissolution of her grandparents’ marriage right now. She might have to throw herself out the window. Which won’t do much harm, on account of the whole first-floor thing, but as a symbolic gesture, she feels like it will sum things up pretty accurately.

“When I was engaged to Pennilyn Lott,” Richard says, and that’s a blast-from-the-past relief, “I did strive to keep things going between us after I first met your grandmother. But the thought of a life without Emily was such a depressing thing. When I tried to imagine the future, there seemed to be no color in it. Breaking off an engagement to someone is no small feat, but I mustered up the nerve and I did it. And damned if it wasn’t the best choice I’ve ever made.”

“Oh yeah?” Rory says, hope starting to rise in her.

“Oh yeah,” Richard repeats in Very Serious tones, making Rory laugh. “You know, I like Paris. I’ve always liked her a great deal. She’s an extraordinary girl—well, young woman now. I’ve enjoyed having her be part of the family over the past few weeks. Not to mention that time that you brought her to the family Christmas party a few years ago. Granted, she may have horrified some of our guests with her political views, but there’s no denying that she brings a certain zestful presence to a room.”

“Well, she and Doyle had just split up, and I didn’t want her to be alone for the holidays.” Rory smiles slightly at the memory. “She did make some waves, huh?”

“One of the guests assured me that my granddaughter’s companion was another Hillary in the making.”

Rory laughs. “I’m definitely going to have to pass that one along to her.”

“I don’t know that it was entirely meant as a compliment,” Richard adds, frowning slightly.

“She’ll take it that way. Don’t worry.” And then it finally registers in Rory’s brain. “‘Companion’?”

“Do you know, it’s possible he thought you were life partners,” Richard says in a tone of pensive surprise. “It didn’t cross my mind at the time.”

Rory feels caught between laughing and more weeping hysterically. It would have been nice for Mr. Snobby Christmas Guest to fill her in on the whole companions thing before the situation became more or less broadcast to the entire world.

“But my opinion on the subject isn’t the one that matters,” Richard says more seriously. “Rory, what is it that you want?”

It feels so strange, to have her grandfather looking at her like he is, all kind and supportive. Like she could say anything and he would keep sitting right there, making her feel better. He’s so different from the cold and distant man that her mother always described when Rory was little.

Rory stares at the bookshelf across from her bed. Most of the books that are left here now are the ones she loved as a kid, stories about trapped girls defying the odds and finding adventures. Being brave.

Staring at the spine of Anne of the Island, she says the truth out loud. “I want to ... be with her, I guess. Is that stupid? It feels stupid.”

“Not stupid at all. This girl is devoted to you. She adores you—it’s plain to see. And it would be a shame for you to miss out on a great opportunity just because both of you are too afraid to make the first move. After all, neither of you are usually timid of heart.”

“So you don’t ... disapprove?” Rory checks.

“It may not be what I expected for you,” Richard says. “And if your mother had come home with the same news when she was young, perhaps I would have started having heart trouble much earlier in life.”

“Not funny,” scolds Rory.

Richard chuckles a little. “But the only thing I disapprove of is my granddaughter missing out on a chance at happiness. And if you ask me, I think you have a very good chance. You two have had a special bond since you first brought her home to our house for that business project at Chilton.”

“A special bond? I can barely remember that project, but I’m pretty sure all she did was berate me.”

“A certain amount of berating can keep things fresh. Take that from your grandparents who’ve been married for over forty years. Judging by the Richard and Emily Gilmore gold standard, you and Paris are a couple for the ages.”

“God.” Rory lets out a watery little laugh. “Imagine what Grandma would say if she knew about this.”

“Never mind your grandmother,” Richard advises, patting her hand. “It may take her a little time to adjust to the news, but she only wants what’s best for you. You just do what will make you happy.”

“Adjust to what?”

Rory looks up at the new voice. Emily is standing in the doorway.

“Oh,” Rory says quickly, trying to give off the air of somebody whose heart didn’t just plummet to their toes, “nothing. Hi Grandma.”

“Hello,” Emily says icily. “Adjust to what?”

“Rory’s quite right: nothing at all,” Richard says smoothly, getting up from the bed. “Now let’s get ready for more time in the spotlight, shall we? You look lovely, my dear.”

Emily ignores him. “Because it sounds like I’ll adjust to the fact that you and Paris are in a real relationship. You know. Assuming you ever get around to telling your hysterical old-fashioned grandmother.”

“Grandma—” Rory attempts, feeling more nauseated with every step that Emily takes toward her.

“I can’t believe you would spin a lie this elaborate just to avoid having to tell me the truth. You’ll tell the world on national television, but not me?”

Grandma—” Rory says, standing.

“You’ve officially surpassed your mother, which is something I never thought possible.” Emily’s eyes are gleaming, and Rory can’t quite tell if it’s from tears or pure fury.

Richard frowns. “Emily, it was a private conversation, and Rory will tell you what’s going on in her own time—”

“And of course you’ll tell your cuddly old grandfather, but the idea of sharing any aspect of your personal life with me is tantamount to having a heart-to-heart with Hitler—”

There’s the sound of footsteps scuffling, and Rory looks past her grandmother to see Nigel and the crew appearing outside the door. Lorelai is at the head of the group, a distinct ‘Danger! Danger!’ expression on her face.

“Hi Mom and everyone else!” Rory yelps, desperate.

“—and I swear, Rory Gilmore, you become more beautiful every day,” Emily adapts gracefully. She puts her hands on Rory’s shoulders and presses an elegant kiss to her cheek. “It will be such a treat to get to sit down for a meal with you and your sweetheart.”

Richard coughs nervously.

“Thanks Grandma,” Rory says, and decides that Emily Gilmore is in fact the most terrifying person in the world.


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