A/N: Okay, here's chapter 17 for you all. Hey, please comment, otherwise I feel like I'm writing to a wall. This was a very hard chapter to write, both times. Like, reeeeaaaally hard, so sorry if it didn't come out great.
Disclaimer: I don't own PLL.
Aria came home after school and rushed into the warm shower. It was already four in the afternoon; she had gone out for a coffee with Emily. After that, she blow dried her brown hair and used a curling iron to shape it. She walked towards her room and opened her drawer, taking out the outfit she had picked out for the occasion. She slipped on the red tribal wool skirt and a loose long sleeved black shirt. Aria sat on her chair and grabbed her lacy thights, sliding them around her legs. She then grabbed her black knee-high boots and put them on, zipping them on the side. The girl stood up and made her way to her wooden vanity to do her usual earth-tone makeup.
When the clock struck five thirty, she settled her blush brush on its place, declaring finished her makeup. Ezra had said he'd be there in thirty minutes, so there still was some free time. Aria walked out of her bedroom and went downstairs to find her mother busy in the kitchen, attempting to do some multitasking. Aria approached and took the salad from her hands, placing it on the counter and grabbing the wooden spoons to mix it. She was already causing so much nuisance in that family that she wanted to feel helpful for once.
"Thanks, honey," Ella said, turning her attention back to the spaghetti on the stove.
"No problem, mom," Aria grinned at the woman.
Mother and daughter just stayed there, working hard and rushing to get the meal that was supposed to be served that night finished, until the ring of the doorbell awakened them.
"I'll get it," Aria said, settling the utensils she had been working with on the counter next to the bowl and jogging over to the front door. She unlocked it and turned the doorknob, making the entrance free for Ezra. He looked amazing, truly. He was wearing a pair of dark jeans, a dress shirt and a blazer. As soon as he laid eyes on Aria, Ezra showed off his pearly whites and stepped inside, leaning forward to kiss her on the cheek.
Ella walked over to them wiping her hands with a towel.
"Hello, Ezra," she greeted him politely, taking the flowers he handed over to her. "Thank you, they're beautiful. I'll just go put them in a vase."
Aria smiled at the both of them and took the man's hands, leading him to the brown leather couch, sitting down beside him and making sure he was comfortable.
She squeezed his hands and beamed. "Wow, I can't believe they actually invited you over for dinner!"
"I know, right? And I was gonna bring a bottle of wine, but that didn't sound like a very good idea." They chuckled. That was true, Aria thought.
She sighed happily. "This is so much progress; we're going to be able to really talk to them about our situation, Ezra. This is great!"
Ezra smirked and pressed his lips against hers affectionately for a few seconds, shutting out the world.
Ella cleared her throat.
"Oh god, mom!" Aria exclaimed, startled and frowning at the serious woman.
"Aria, can I see you in the kitchen for a moment?"
The girl looked over at Ezra and stood up, following her mother.
"Honey, your father has just walked past you two and asked me to talk to you. Just because we're making an effort to assess your relationship by inviting Ezra over to dinner does not mean the two of you can go around doing whatever you want. Please don't test us. Understood?"
"Yes, you're right, sorry." Aria knew Ella was right; she had been given a chance not to mess anything up and was wasting it by crossing boundaries. When she walked back to the living room, Byron was sitting on a chair next to Ezra, who was clearly trying to make small talk, even though it was awkward. He wasn't comfortable. Nobody in that house was.
~~ o ~~
They all sat around the dinner table, eating silently. The spaghetti looked great, and tasted amazing. Too bad the air was too heavy and awkward for any of the people in the room to truly enjoy the meal.
"Um, so Fitz, thanks for coming over tonight," Mike said. "It means a lot to Aria. And to us." He shot a look at Byron, trying to break the ice for his sister. Ezra smiled gratefully at him and turned to the girl sitting beside him. She looked very nervous, so he squeezed her hand underneath the table, offering her a sympathetic grin.
The room remained silent. Byron looked down at his plate while Ella pushed some meatballs around with her fork. When Aria reached the final conclusion that her parents weren't going to say anything - mainly because they didn't know what to say - she tried to be humorous.
"Hey people! Are we gonna keep not talking or what? This is a dinner, it's supposed to be social, y'know..." She softened as Byron gave her a look. "Come on, please say something!"
"You're right. We're sorry," Ella told them. Ezra just sat there looking at each one of them tensely, caring not to let go of Aria's hands once she had sat back down.
"I wanna know how the two of you met," Byron suddenly demanded very seriously. Aria and Ezra exchanged looks.
"It was in a bar just before school started," the young man started. His girlfriend's parents scowled at him, probably wondering what the hell their teenage daughter was doing in a bar. He quickly corrected his phrase. "I was having a drink while Aria here had a cheeseburger. We started talking and found out we had a lot in common. I thought she was older..."
"And I didn't exactly deny," she added.
"And next thing we know…"
"We were kissing. We exchanged numbers and then, next thing we know, he was standing in front of a classroom calling himself Mr. Fitz," she finished, forcing a smile.
Her parents narrowed their eyes suspiciously.
Ezra inhaled and proceeded to explain. "Byron, Ella, please understand that we tried to end this, because it wasn't right but- we couldn't."
"We loved each other way too much for that," she affirmed, shutting her fingers tightly around his and shooting him a caring smile, which was reciprocal.
"And, incredibly, it has always felt right," he chuckled slightly.
During that final line, Ezra wasn't looking at the Montgomery's anymore, he now looked passionately into his loved one's hazel eyes. Ella shifted in her seat, noticing the way his eyes sparkled.
Byron blinked a few times, settling his hands in front of him. "Okay, but… How did you get pregnant, Aria? I still don't get it."
Aria could honestly feel her cheeks turn crimson red as she exchanged shy glances with Ezra. "You know, dad. The usual way..."
"No, dear God! I mean why?" Byron snapped shaking his head and trying to get that image out of his mind. Mike seemed to be doing the same.
"I wish I knew. But we can't back down now," Ezra nodded with certainty and Byron looked down. "What's done it's done."
Aria brushed her thumb across his sweaty palm as the blue-eyed man proceeded to stand up determinedly.
"Byron, Ella. Mike. Please listen. I love Aria so much and I am sorry for the trouble our decisions caused but… I am here for her, and always will be. I mean it. I care about her and this baby, and I would never do anything to hurt her, because she's incredibly amazing and special. I am lucky to be with your daughter and have her in my life; I just wish you would understand how much she truly means to me."
Aria looked up at him, wiping tears off her eyes to prevent them from rolling across her face. She smiled and stood up, throwing her lips over his. Right there in front of her parents, yes, but she didn't care. When parted, she turned to her family.
"I love him too, too much actually. He's the one I want to be with for as long as I live, okay? We're going to have this baby. Together. And raise it, once again together. And I truly- truly wish you would support us, because I also love you guys with all my heart. You're my family."
Ella's eyes were watering, but she tried to hide it discreetly while her husband just looked aside for a moment and pondered.
~~ o ~~
After dinner, Mike went up to his room while Ella stayed in the kitchen with her husband, clearing the table and discussing their daughter's situation. Ezra and Aria just went to the living room and sat there.
"Gosh, that was intense," Ezra exhaled.
"It sure was."
"Do you think they might start coming around?" He wondered.
"I really don't know, I-" She was interrupted by her mother, who cleared her throat before speaking. Byron was standing right behind her.
"Okay, so after listening to you two tonight, we have come to the conclusion that-" Ella sighed. "That you may stay together."
The young couple stood up, completely exultant and surprised.
"Wow, really?" Aria asked for a confirmation.
"Yes. I mean, you two are having a baby, there's not much we can do about that." The woman noted as they all nodded in comprehension.
"However," Byron manifested. "I do want to clarify that I, in any way, think this relationship of yours is right, okay? Because it's not."
Everyone just did their best to ignore his comment and don't get hurt by it. Aria wrapped her arms tightly around both her parents simultaneously. They hugged her back, it had been a while since they'd last shared a good hug with their dear daughter. She let go of them several beats later, smiling happily at them. Aria turned to Ezra and threw herself on his arms, allowing them to surround her affectionately. He looked into her eyes gladly and pressed his lips against hers and then leaning to rub her stomach and kiss it caringly.
~~ o ~~
Aria was in her room later that night, just cleaning up and getting ready to go to sleep when her mother came in knocking. She looked up at her.
"Hey," she smiled brightly.
"How're you doing, sweetheart?"
Ella grinned at her response and sat on the end of the bed, patting the place next to her in order for her daughter to sit down, which she did.
"You know, honey, when you two were speaking tonight at dinner I- I saw the way he looked at you. And it was so- real…"
"Mom, our relationship is nothing but real, I've told you that."
"Okay, but tonight was the first time I actually understood it,"she sighed. "And the way he kissed your belly, honey... It was beautiful."
Aria smiled softly. "Yeah, it was pretty great..."
"Listen, even though I am not comfortable with the fact that he was your teacher or that you're having his baby... You do have my blessing, Aria."
She looked at her mother, clearly moved by the older woman's words. Beaming, the girl wrapped her arms around her, pulling her for a tight hug they both needed. After a few moments, mother and daughter let go of each other and sat up straight.
"I was thinking, we have to schedule a doctor appointment for you," Ella told her. "A real doctor."