suit & tie
“You look beautiful,” he said immediately.
“And you look like you need to learn how to tie a bow tie yourself,” Audrey teased.
“Put on a dress, dear, we’re going to dinner,” Zach commanded at once as he stepped into Reicky Manor.
Audrey, sitting idly on the couch and flipping through a magazine, glanced up in surprise. “Why?”
“Can’t a guy do something romantic once in a while?” The eighteen year old gestured helplessly to his suit and untied bow tie. “Now come on. It’s date night, and we need to be there by half past seven.”
Audrey stood with a sigh before stepping toward the stairs, magazine in hand. “Don’t do anything stupid. I’m going to go change now,” she warned him.
“Can I watch?” Zach asked hopefully.
The magazine hit his shoulder.
“I’ll take that as a no, then,” he reasoned, settling himself on the couch with the discarded Witch Weekly, flipping through it idly.
Several minutes later, when he was halfway through an article on picking the best dress for one’s body type – hey, it might come in handy some day, one never knew – the sound of footsteps down the staircase caught the young man’s attention, and he glanced up distractedly and paused.
“You look beautiful,” he said immediately.
“And you look like you need to learn how to tie a bow tie yourself,” Audrey teased as she slipped toward him, her slim fingers working at the length of fabric around his neck.
“Well, I could, but it’s so much more satisfying watching you do it.”
“Or maybe you’re just lazy?” The young woman finished tying the bow tie with a pull on either end, setting it perfectly straight just by his collar bone.
“Now what were you saying? We’d be late if we got there after half past seven?” Audrey glanced at the clock before hurriedly tugging on his arm. “It’s already seven! Come on!”
Zach laughed as he was pulled from the house by the eager brunette.
It was the day after their wedding, the first complete day that the pair of nineteen year olds had spent as husband and wife. Of course, they’d spent most of it eating half of the ice cream in Venice, and they were currently sitting at their dinner table, looking down at the menu apprehensively.
“If I see something sweet ever again, I’m going to throw up,” Zach declared, getting queasy as he glanced at the dessert menu before flipping past it quickly.
“We work at a sweetshop, dear,” Audrey reminded him, absently flipping through her own menu although she didn’t pause to read.
“Why are we at dinner again? Neither of us is hungry,” Zach asked before he pulled at his tie with a sigh. “Audrey,” he whined, “You tied the tie too tight.”
“That’s because someone kept trying to kiss me while I was doing it,” Audrey reminded him, green eyes flicking up from off of the page for a moment.
“Not my fault.”
“Definitely your fault.”
“Maybe a little,” Zach conceded before closing his menu with a snap and a sigh. “Maybe we should have had some foresight during our ice cream adventures and made sure to cancel our dinner reservations.”
“Well, it’s such a high-class place that it would be a shame to miss out on eating here,” Audrey mused, glancing at the interior before looking down at the menu – regrettably, on the page that listed the ice cream flavors – and turning faintly green. “Shall we head back to the hotel?” she suggested, shutting her menu.
“Yes, definitely,” he agreed, closing his own menu and standing.
They exited the restaurant, walking along the streets contentedly. No one seemed to care that they were a bit overdressed; after all, Venice was a popular honeymoon spot and no one thought twice when they saw a besotted couple in evening wear.
“Did I mention that you looked beautiful?” he murmured as she leaned against him, wrapping both of her arms around one of his as she tilted her head toward his shoulder.
“Twice,” she murmured in return before adding, her eyes twinkling, “But I don’t mind hearing it again.”
Copper eyes took her in with a sideways glance. “I like that dress a lot,” Zach started, “But I think it would look so much better elsewhere.”
“Like where?” Both knew where this was going, but she played along anyway.
“On the hotel room floor,” he replied, a bit bluntly but with a cheeky grin in her direction.
“You know,” she mused aloud before mirroring his grin, “I think I can arrange that.”
“Then what are we waiting for?” Zach replied, lips curling up as they turned and stepped into the hotel.
They were twenty years old, burdened by recent events and weighed down with a sense of guilt and betrayal. Zach had returned from the hospital a week ago, but neither of the couple had been speaking to each other for more than a few words.
Until tonight. “Company dinner,” she murmured as she passed him, wordlessly handing him his suit that she’d clearly just pulled off the hanger in his closet.
Audrey had stepped out of the room without another word, leaving him alone in the bedroom. He changed slowly, his muscles still a bit stiff from the lack of use as of late. Glancing in the mirror, he tried to put on his tie but abandoned the effort at once as he accidentally made three knots.
He stepped downstairs, noticing his wife flipping through her purse, looking for their keys. She glanced up as he entered, noting the helpless look in his eyes at once. “Yes?” she asked frostily.
Zach nearly cringed at the ice in her voice that he hadn’t yet manage to defrost since his return from Yorkshire. “Could you..” he gestured helplessly to the untied tie around his neck.
She hesitated for a moment and he considered returning upstairs and trying (unsuccessfully) to tie it on himself again before she nodded slowly and stepped toward him.
Slender fingers got to work at once, moving automatically to loop the tie around his neck and start the complicated series of steps required to tie it.
Zach stayed very still the entire time. She was so close to him right now, yet at the same time, she couldn’t be more far emotionally. Her green gaze was held firmly on the fabric in her fingers. His copper eyes sought her gaze, but it wasn’t reciprocated. She remained stubbornly focused on the task at hand. It was times like these where he wanted to kiss her so badly but was too scared of her reaction to make a move.
Pulling the knot with a swift motion, Audrey soon had finished with the tie and stepped back for a moment to examine her work.
“Thanks,” Zach managed to his wife.
She didn’t acknowledge her husband’s words, turning back to the table and picking up her handbag. “We should leave now or we’ll be late,” she told him, keeping her eyes on the ground.
“Alright,” he muttered as he followed her dejectedly.
It had been a full year. At twenty-one years old, he’d thought that his life would have turned out much differently. He’d have a stable job, a nice house, and an adoring wife. He had two of the three, but it wasn’t good enough.
It was nearing the holiday season, and snow was falling softly out their window. One of their relatives was having a holiday party, and as such, the Nytes were obligated to go.
Audrey, wearing a red dress, walked around with one earring in, fretting to herself as she searched for the other. “Where did I drop it?” she muttered aloud, looking under the coffee table.
“Try behind the couch cushion,” Zach suggested as he passed.
She acted almost as if she hadn’t heard him, but then the woman turned to their couch and pulled back a cushion. A moment later, she thrust her hand in and pulled out the other glittering earring, quickly brushing it off before putting it on.
Zach looped a tie around his neck once more, stepping back toward her. “Aud?”
“I’m coming,” she replied, replacing the cushion and stepping toward him. Their relationship was no longer fraught with tension as it had once been, but at the same time, it hadn’t returned to its previous state. Time didn’t heal all wounds, but it certainly eased them slightly.
With several deft movements – she had gotten skilled at this over the years – Audrey tied the tie around her husband’s neck and stepped back. “Too tight?” she questioned aloud.
“It’s perfect,” he reassured her.
Their eyes met for the briefest of moments before she turned, smoothing her hair back quickly. “We should leave now or we’ll be late,” she added, and he agreed with a nod, following her.
The party was dull. It was filled with middle-aged couples, screaming children, and far too many elderly women who smiled at the young couple and constantly told Zach that his wife was beautiful. “I know,” he replied simply, and Audrey shot him a quick, quizzical look.
An hour later, the two stood side by side, empty cups of butterbeer in hand. “I’m bored,” Zach murmured.
“I know,” Audrey replied quietly.
He turned to her. “I don’t think they’d mind if we left early. We could just say we’re tired. What do you say we call it a day and head home? Maybe watch a movie and eat ice cream or something?”
Zach was pushing the limits, he knew. They hadn’t properly watched a movie together in ages. They ate meals together, but didn’t properly enjoy them as they should be doing. Still, he hoped with all his heart that finally she might come around.
Audrey hesitated before blinking at him. Green eyes met copper for several long seconds before she nodded. “Alright,” she agreed, her lips pulling up so briefly that he thought he might have imagined it.
“Let’s go,” he replied, taking her cup and stacking them on a table nearby before starting toward the door.
His hand automatically reached for hers and, for once, she entwined her fingers with his as they stepped outside into the moonlight.