|This was wrong, all wrong!!
All the way through the living room, Freddy, leading Daphne quietly by the hand, had kept his cool. He’d been eh picture of forced calm as they took to the stairs, and then as they began to cross the hallway. But no sooner had they passed the large hallway mirror than his solid, oft-rehearsed proposal plan was completely and totally dashed. Here he was, about to embark on one of the most important moments in his and Daphne’s lives—and he was still wearing his pajamas! Pajamas, of all things—who in the world, he thought frantically, proposed in sleepwear!? Who that actually expected to be accepted, anyhow. Granted, Daphne was still wearing her pajamas as well, which alleviated things a bit, but he was still sure this was totally unorthodox nonetheless. Why hadn’t he done this the right way, the proper way? Daphne deserved the very best, most romantic proposal—at a nice restaurant, perhaps. Yes, a restaurant—why on earth, he questioned himself in a panic, why hadn’t he done that!? Many men did, probably even most. Then Fred remembered—he’d wanted it to be a surprise. Some surprise, he thought despondently, realizing that she’d almost undoubtedly known all along. Ethan was probably right about that radar thing he had described, and anyway, it wasn’t as if the two of them hadn’t discussed marriage before. Why the surprise?
Only one thing was clear in poor Fred’s addled mind—he couldn’t turn back now. Pajamas, unromantic atmosphere or no, he was going to have to go ahead. Even if he could find some sort of half-sensible excuse for a delay, he wasn’t even sure his nerves could stand much more. He’d been counting the days until he was to propose with anticipation, and even now, the ring he’d chosen, safe in its little velvet box, was practically burning a hole in the back pocket of his pajamas. At least he’d had the presence of mind to slip it in there when he’d gone to get Daphne’s last present; it would have been awful if he’d forgotten it. Feeling relieved that at least one thing was going according to plan, Freddy led Daphne gently to the window seat at the back wall of the wide hallway. Looking the place over, he realized that two things were going well. The most beautiful rays of new morning sunshine were streaming through the wide window, bathing the area in a soft glow. In spite of himself, he’d managed to work in some romantic atmosphere after all. There was even going to be an unanticipated musical accompaniment for the big event. From downstairs, strains of "California Dreamin’" wafted up, and though it wasn’t exactly an Italian aria, Freddy figured he could do worse. The song actually sounded rather good, what with Mary Jane and Shaggy, not Scooby, singing the melody. It was also not being performed very loudly, and Fred smiled when he realized that his friends were trying not to disrupt his proposal. They were all rooting for him—and, when he turned to look at her, he saw that Daphne, smiling encouragingly—was too. His courage bolstered, he helped her to sit down on the window seat cushions—or arranged her, as the books he’d read described it. Fred never would have admitted it, but he’d been poring over etiquette and romantic advice books for weeks, making sure that he did things in a way that would be right and perfect for his Daphne. So he’d committed a bit of a faux pas with the pajamas—he could at least do the rest properly.
According to everything he knew, the rest meant that he needed to proceed with the kneeling down and the presentation of the ring, but when he looked up at the suitably arranged Daphne, all thoughts of proper order and tradition and planning flew right out of his mind. She looked so beautiful sitting there in front of him, a warm smile on her face and sunlight glittering off her red hair, that his breath caught in his throat. Only one word could escape.
"Daphne?" he managed to get out.
"What is it, Freddy?" she replied, a slight hint of prompting in her voice. He was staring at her with such an intense look that she could feel her heart literally straining. He looked so nervous, and suddenly so very much younger; she almost wanted to comfort him or assure him. Did he really think she would say no? Was he having second thoughts? Or did this just mean so much to him... Knowing that she’d found her answer, Daphne felt the heat of tears prickling at the back of her eyes. Just go on ahead, she wanted to urge him. I’ll say yes. Just go on ahead. I love you, too, Fred.
"Daphne, I..." He started again, sounding just like he had during the earlier years of the gang, when he’d tried to confess his feelings for the first time. It had taken him so many tries, because he had so much to lose. From downstairs, a noticeably louder excerpt of "California Dreamin’" came up, Shaggy’s voice predominant on the melody.
"Shaggy!" came Velma’s voice, scolding him in one of the harsher tones she’d used post-Ethan, though she was giggling in spite of herself.
"Like, what? At least we’re not playing what your boyfriend wanted."
" ‘Another One Bites the Dust!’ "
"Ethan!" The whole group cracked up, and Fred and Daphne had to join in. The break in tension was just the opening that Freddy needed, and without another word he did as the song instructed and got down onto both knees, taking Daphne’s hands in his. She immediately stopped laughing and paid rapt attention as her boyfriend began to speak, his voice sounding more steady and confident by the word.
"Daphne, we both know what it is I want to ask you," he began seriously, "but I’ve gotta say something else first. I know we haven’t been together very long in the... boyfriend-girlfriend way-- but we’ve always been best friends, and ever since we were little kids I’ve known that you were the only girl for me. The only problem is that sometimes I didn’t act like it, but..."
"It’s okay," Daphne said when he trailed off. They’d worked through all of their former problems, though she knew that Fred still felt bad about his part in them from time to time. She honestly wasn’t sure what else she could say, or really if she should say anything at all. Now that Fred was in the midst of his proposal, their roles seemed to have reversed—Daphne was the one uncertain of what to do. Sitting there in front of the kneeling Fred, listening to such heartfelt protestations of love, wasn’t as easy as it sounded. It was really a lot to take in, and Daphne couldn’t hold back a few tears. Fred, always the protector, reached up and smoothed them away with his thumb.
"But I know I’ve learned from those mistakes, and I don’t ever want to be away from you again," he continued. "And I know I can be a good husband for you... if..." At that point, he reached into his pocket and drew out the little black box, then opened it in front of her to reveal a breathtaking engagement ring. "If, Daphne Blake, you’ll do me the honor of becoming my wife." Fred had chosen that last phrase out of one of his books, but he was far too preoccupied with waiting for her answer, trying to read her facial expression, to be proud of himself for his perfect delivery. He waited on baited breath, heart speeding, for the word that would either make him the happiest man in the world or crush him completely.
For Daphne, there was really no question. She beamed a wonderful smile at him, answering him before she even said a word. "Oh, Fred, of course I’ll marry you!" she burst out, smiling and laughing a little at the same time. Fred’s expression as he took in her words was an incredible thing to see, and he let out a huge sigh, releasing the happiness and relief that had been building up inside him. He wanted to kiss Daphne more right then than he had ever wanted to, but he held off just long enough to slip his ring carefully onto her finger. She gave a little gasp as she saw the beautiful platinum band with its huge, sparkling diamond, flanked on either side with smaller, lavender amethysts. She’d been in such a fog when Fred had actually presented the ring that she hadn’t really noticed the details, and now she was touched by how much care he had obviously gone to in order to pick out a ring so perfectly suited to her. It was that which impressed her so much more than the ring itself, though it was indeed stunning. Despite her wealthy upbringing and expensive tastes, Daphne would have gladly accepted Fred had he nothing at all to offer for his proposal. She loved him that much.
It was some time later before the newly-engaged couple resumed talking (Freddy eagerly having claimed a kiss from the very willing Daphne) but when Fred finally did break away and speak, his voice was full of an urgency that he hadn’t expected. He’d thought that when he’d gone ahead and proposed, so much of the anxiousness and anticipation would leave him, and though he did feel as if a huge load had been lifted from his shoulders, the blissful, floating-on-cloud nine sensation that had come with Daphne’s acceptance was not quite complete. There was something else that he simply had to ask her.
"Daph?" he started, only a slight question in his tone. His voice was throaty with emotion, and he smoothed her hair back from her face again and again. "There’s something else... I know you prob’ly want a big wedding and that’s great, but I was wondering if we could get married really soon."
"How soon?" Daphne questioned slowly. "You don’t mean running-off-to-Vegas soon, do you?" Fred was right—she did want a big wedding—maybe not so much big as wonderful and romantic and fairy-tale. Like many women, she’d been dreaming about and even planning the event since girlhood-- she and Velma used to look at bridal magazines and cut out the dresses, rings, and cakes that they liked. (Daphne was more enthusiastic about this than her friend, who often had to be persuaded at length despite her usually-hidden sentimental side.) Of course, actually marrying Fred was far more important than the ceremony itself, and Daphne knew that one could actually have a very nice wedding in Vegas these days, but still... an elopement really wasn’t her.
"Nah, nothing like that," Fred answered quickly. He knew that wouldn’t go over well with Daph, and he didn’t think he’d really care for it either, anxious as he was for them to be man and wife. "I was thinking maybe spring—early spring?"
"Of next year?" she queried in surprise, letting out a breath.
"Jeepers, that’s awfully fast for a wedding, Fred."
"It is? What if we got a coordinator? I can pay for it." He really had no idea how long a wedding took to plan, not having given the matter much thought. Three or four months seemed a very long time to him, even for a large, fancy wedding. A new and sobering thought came to him then—what if Daphne’s reasons for waiting had to do with something else entirely? It was a possibility, and even though he didn’t want to, he knew he had to address it. "But... if you want more time or something I understand," he finished slowly.
His fiancée caught the gist of his statement immediately. "No, it’s not that at all," she assured him, causing a relieved look to cross his face, then an almost rueful half-smile.
"I’m sorry," he said after a moment. "I’m not being fair, and you should get whatever kind of wedding you want. And I want a nice wedding, too; I just didn’t know it took that long. I guess it’s just that... just that now that I know we’re getting married—definitely—it’s going to be hard to wait. I mean, we’ve known each other for such a long time, and..." Fred let his thought linger, trying hard at the difficult task of putting his feelings into words of explanation. "I always thought we would get married, even when we were little kids," he finished finally.
Daphne understood him perfectly. She had to admit that she hadn’t quite known that truth as long as he had—there were times when, as a boy, he’d annoyed the heck out of her. There were even times not very long ago-- about three years, to be specific—when he’d had the same effect. She hadn’t known, like he had, that they would work out—but she’d hoped.
"You were supposed to think I had cooties back then," she teased him, hoping to lighten things.
"Oh, I thought other girls did," Fred went along, wrapping her in his arms and kissing her playfully on the nose. "Just not you." He paused a moment for a second kiss, a longer one on the lips this time. "And maybe Velms," he added as an afterthought, before leaning in yet again.
"She’s going to hate wearing purple in our wedding," Daphne giggled a moment later, reminding them both of the matter at hand. She thought for a moment, then continued in a pondering tone. "You know, Fred... what you said about hiring a coordinator?"
"One coordinator might have a hard time putting together an elaborate wedding so fast... but we could hire more than one." Fred looked at her immediately with interest, waiting to hear more. "Daddy won’t mind—he always promised that I would have however big a wedding I wanted." She paused a moment. "May?"
"What?" Fred replied on impulse, his mind still working on the fact that Mr. Blake would pay for the wedding. Of course he knew this was traditional, but for some reason he’d forgotten that. He’d have been perfectly willing to finance whatever kind of wedding Daphne dreamed up.
"We could have the wedding in May." It was her favorite month, and already visions of a lovely spring wedding were dancing around in her head—pastel dresses, a reception outdoors with freshly-bloomed flowers all around... it would be perfect!
"Really?" Fred asked happily, bringing her back to the moment.
"Really. Unless that’s too long," she smiled, teasing him again.
"No. No, I can wait," he grinned. "I hope."
"We’re going to be busy, you know," she informed him, smiling just as widely. "The time will go by before you know it. But we can do something now."
"We’ve got to tell the gang!"
When the just-affianced couple descended the staircase a few minutes later, they quickly realized that they would have to say very little in order to communicate the news. As if Shaggy’s musical cue hadn’t been enough to clue them in, it was totally obvious by their friends’ instant looks of anticipation that they knew what nature of conversation had transpired upstairs. Even Velma, who normally would have made an effort to be discreet about such things, was staring openly at them, a prompting half-smile on her lips. Daphne didn’t keep the group in suspense. Jubilantly, she held her left hand out, letting her new ring make the announcement for them.
All at once, the room came alive, with the silence of expectation giving way to excited squeals and immediate calls of congratulations. Their friends came upon them in a small mass, with plenty of hearty claps on the back for Fred and hugs for the prospective bride. Mary Jane held back until Velma had hugged her best friend, then bounded up with a quick, excited little hug of her own. Fred was a little surprised at being embraced by his best friend Shaggy, and then even more surprised when Velma did the same, a little shyly. She was just letting go when Scooby popped up at his side, tail wagging at incredible speed. The Dane was thrilled at the news, and though he didn’t say so, he figured it was about time! He’d known that Daphne and Fred were the perfect mates for one another for years now. After all, dogs often got a sense about these things, and even though Scooby was an unusual dog to say the least, he was no exception.
The initial round of congratulations over, the young couple found themselves the recipients of tons of questions. "When’s the big day?" Mary Jane asked.
"In May sometime," Fred answered definitely. "No date yet... but soon," he grinned.
"Wow, that’s pretty fast," Ethan commented—not that he didn’t understand the situation. He’d gladly marry his intended tomorrow, if he could. With that thought, he turned immediately to look at Velma, meeting her eyes and sending an unvoiced question. After glancing about for a moment, she answered it with a smiling nod.
"Yeah, but we’ll work it out," Fred replied confidently.
"And of course we want you all to be in it," Daphne chipped in.
"Re roo?" Scooby asked, his eyes wide.
"Of course, Scooby," she said.
While fielding a few more questions, Fred noticed that Shaggy was laughing. "What’s so funny, Shag?" he queried amiably.
"Nothing, man... it’s just that I can’t believe you proposed in your pajamas!"
This brought a laugh from everyone, including Fred, for whom the pajama issue had caused such mortification not fifteen minutes earlier. "All part of the plan," he joked, bringing more laughs. "It works."
"Yeah, it does," Ethan spoke up prominently, the tone in his voice causing immediate questioning looks. Not knowing quite how to go on, he paused momentarily.
"Velma......?" Daphne solicited, her voice rising in an expectant glissando. The younger couple exchanged yet another look before Ethan went ahead.
"We’re engaged, too," he announced, drawing Velma to his side with one arm, then looking down lovingly at her.
The group of friends burst into even more excited chatter. "Since when?" Daphne exclaimed. It seemed almost impossible that Velma wouldn’t have told her right away.
"This morning," Velma informed.
"And you didn’t say a word! How did you hold it in?"
"We knew that you were gonna propose, Fred—and we figured that just announcing it right before..." Ethan explained.
"Thanks," Fred replied gratefully, understanding.
"It was kinda spur-of-the-moment," Ethan went on. "I mean—not really," he corrected, not wanting to give the wrong idea. "The proposal was but the idea wasn’t."
"Well that explains this morning," Daphne added, eyes twinkling. "I thought something was up with you two. So when is it? The wedding?"
"December," Velma supplied. "And we want all of you in it, too." She hadn’t actually spoken the matter over with Ethan, but she knew he’d want her friends in the wedding. Besides, they were his friends now, too, especially Fred. Velma had to admit that had surprised her. She’d figured he’d be closer to Shaggy, who was more like him. At any rate, it made her happy that the gang had so totally accepted Ethan.
"That’s more than half of us in one year," Fred observed, then turned with a sly smile to Shaggy. "You’ve got some pressure now, Shag." Both the beatnik and his girlfriend blushed in response. They hadn’t really talked about marriage yet, mostly because their relationship had been so long-distance and also because that, for them, settling down was a major decision. Mary Jane, who was the youngest of the gang, also preferred to wait until she was a bit older.© Still, both of them knew that when the time did come, they couldn’t imagine being with anyone else.
"Like, I think this calls for a song—whatdya think, Ethan?" Shaggy announced, sounding as if he were trying to divert attention away from Fred’s joke—though he wasn’t. Ethan, who was collecting his fiancé into his arms after she had finished being hugged by Freddy and Daph, agreed.
"I think I’ve got one," he said, moving to the guitars in the corner after gently guiding Velma to the couch. Considering the fact that he didn’t want to let go of her, it was a somewhat awkward affair, but he managed, then carefully handed her her new bass.
"Shag, you want guitar?" he offered.
"Nah, you go ahead. I’ll take the keyboard," Shaggy answered, coming over to the instrument that Fred had set up. They’d been using it for Christmas carols the night before. While he tested a few of the settings and the rest of the gang settled into various seats near the forming music group, Ethan plugged in his electric guitar and fiddled with the equipment.
"R’I want rums," Scooby piped in, coming over.
"You want drums? Like, go to it, man!" Shaggy encouraged him. His canine pal bounded into the kitchen to find some tuneful pots and pans on which to test his new drumsticks. "Eth, what’d ya have in mind?" he asked, listening as Ethan tuned his guitar.
"How about this?" Ethan began playing the opening to a very familiar tune, then stopped to await agreement. His answer came in the form of smiles of recognition and the sound of Velma tuning her guitar. He’d picked the song, which admittedly was not in his usual repertoire, mostly because it suited the occasion but partly because he knew Velma could play it. Shaggy worked out a few experimental chords on the keyboard while Scooby set up his makeshift "drums" and Mary Jane eagerly picked up her tambourine. Fred and Daphne sat on the loveseat watching the proceedings in a dreamy state, snuggled together, Daph’s head resting gently on Freddy’s shoulder. This was the most wonderful Christmas, and they thanked God for it and for one another.
No doubt the other two couples shared their sentiment as they began, off a drum cue from Scooby, playing a song for the occasion. The opening measures were played by Ethan on his guitar, soon joined by percussion and the dominant bass part. Ethan smiled to hear his fiancé’s playing, and when he came in a second later with the lyrics, he was singing straight to her.
Imagine me and you, I do
I think about you day and night, it’s only right
To think about the girl you love, and hold her tight
So happy together...
And you say you belong to me, and ease my mind
Imagine how the world could be so very fine
So happy together...
Fred and Daphne might not have known the verse lyrics, but they certainly knew the familiar chorus and main verse, and when it came they sang with true gusto along with everyone else. Mary Jane came in confidently with her tambourine while Shaggy switched over to the required horn setting on the keyboard; Ethan was just trying to get in a kiss with Velma before the chorus without getting jabbed by either of their guitars.
I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you for all my life
When you’re with me baby the skies’ll be blue, for all my life
Me and you, and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together...
The song had a lot of repeats, and each time through the main verse and chorus the gang got a little more ambitious—Shaggy tried out an interesting oboe-like setting and improvised, Velma and Mary Jane did some mostly-successful harmonization in the background vocals, and when the song had built itself up to its peak, Fred and Daphne hopped up and began dancing expertly. Scooby absolutely went to town on his drums and even howled along a bit. By the time the song was almost finished, everyone was singing at the top of their voices, knowing that this was only the beginning of what was already a perfect day... and the start of what looked to be one incredible year.
Me and you, and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together...
We’re happy together
So happy together...