Chapter 22: "It's been awhile since I've had a sleepover with my friends and you are long overdue for a Gilmore Movie Night."

"Rory, come on. We really don't want to be late," Tristan called up to her from the living room. He had been ready to go for an hour while Rory was taking her time, finding something wrong with each piece of clothing or jewelry, prompting her to change her entire outfit five times.

"Oh, I have no problem being late," Rory said, finally coming down the stairs, Tristan deciding not to acknowledge the fact she was wearing the same dress she had first put on two hours before, "In fact, it would be alright with me if we just skipped tonight's party all together. It's my grandmother that doesn't want us to be late."

"Mary, this party is for you. It would be a little odd if the guest of honor didn't show up to her own birthday party," Tristan said, "What's up with you? You seemed into the idea when Emily first asked if she could throw you one."

"I was. I still am, I guess. Between the campaign and my job after I haven't spent any time with my family on my birthday since my last year of college," Rory said, putting her sweater on as she and Tristan walked towards the door, "And it's been since my grandmother threw me a party for my twenty-first since I had a big celebration for it."

"Which is why I thought you were into the idea?" Tristan asked, holding her door open for her as they got to the car.

"I was until the day got here and I remembered how bad my last two birthday parties thrown by Emily Gilmore ended up," Rory said.

"I was at your sixteenth birthday and I thoroughly enjoyed myself," he said with a smirk, laying a hand on her thigh, giving it a squeeze.

"You enjoyed harassing me," Rory reminded him, removing his hand from her thigh, intertwining her fingers with his, "That party was a complete disaster. I had been at Chilton all of five minutes, having really only talked to you and Paris at that point and my grandmother thought it would be a good idea if she invited half the school."

"Yeah, I can see how that wouldn't have been fun for you," Tristan said.

"Not to mention the fight we had when she requested I speak to all the guests thanking them for coming," Rory said.

"Wow, I must have left before that," Tristan said, "I don't remember that."

"It was awful. Though that was nothing compared to the deep freeze of my twenty-first birthday," Rory said.

"What happened there?" he asked, turning down the street the Gilmore's lived on.

"Well, it wasn't a birthday I was really looking forward to as it was already in the middle of the freeze out between me and Mom," Rory told him, "We had my twenty-first birthday planned from the moment I could walk it seemed so not getting to go through with them really put me off celebrating."

"Completely understandable," Tristan said, "Why let Emily throw a party then?"

"I just wanted to get through the day and if I didn't let Grandma throw a party, Logan probably would have tried to do something big and extravagant and I didn't want that either so I just let the party happen," Rory said.

"So what happened to make this party so bad?" Tristan asked.

"A few days before both Grandma and Grandpa caught Logan and I making out and became worried we might be getting close to taking our relationship to the next step," Rory told him, laughing at the look on his face.

"But you had already…" he began.

"Yeah, but not like I announced it to them when it happened," Rory said. "So anyway, to be sure I made an informed decision on who I gave my "gift" to, they invited a minister over for dinner."

"I'm guessing you told the minister that "gift" was long gone and he told Richard and Emily."

"Yep and Grandpa spent the entire party in his study sulking while Grandma barely said two words to me."

"Damn," Tristan said, parking the car and turning to look at her, "While your last two birthdays here may not have gone as well as you've liked, that doesn't mean this one will."

"I know. It's not just the birthdays though," Rory told him, "The last party I ever had here was my graduation party and…"

"Logan proposed and you guys broke up the next day," Tristan said.


"Rory, I'm not walking in there planning to walk out with you as my fiance."

"You're not?"

"While I'd love nothing more then for you to be wearing a ring on your finger that says you're mine, I'd rather not make a public event of it."


"Really. When it happens it will just be us and likely some random time that just feels right. I want our engagement day to be a celebration on it's own. Not something that happens the same day as something else."

"I like that idea," Rory said, leaning her head into his touch as he placed his hand on her cheek.

"Good, now, what do you say we put all the bad party mojo behind us and enjoy today?" Tristan asked.

"Let's go DuGrey," Rory said, kissing him quickly before opening her door.

"Right behind you, Gilmore," Tristan laughed, walking quickly to catch up to her as she walked away from the car.

Walking into her grandparents house, Rory was grateful to find that everyone her grandmother had invited she knew and actually knew really well. Emily had only invited family and some of Rory's friends, both from Stars Hollow and Yale, as well as a few of her former coworkers from The Post.

"Wow, I actually know everyone in this room," Rory said, walking with Tristan towards the bar to get drinks after they had said hello to her grandparents and his, as well as her Mother and Luke.

"Emily definitely kept it tame that's for sure," Tristan said, tipping the bartender as he handed him Rory's martini and his scotch.

"Hey, kiddo, Happy Birthday," Christopher said as he walked up to the bar to get a drink for himself, giving Rory a hug.

"Thanks, Dad," Rory said.

"Mr. Hayden, sir good to see you again," Tristan said, shaking his hand. They'd met a few times in the past year; Tristan and Rory having gone to Boston a few times to visit him and Rory's younger sister Gigi, but despite Christopher's insistence against it, Tristan still called him Mr. Hayden every time they saw each other.

"Christopher, please or Chris if you prefer," he said.

"Sorry, old habits, society and military," Tristan said.

"Yet you have no problem calling Mom, Lorelai," Rory said.

"She scares me and fear is a pretty intimidating tactic to get what you want," Tristan said.

"Lorelai can be scary when she wants to be," Christopher agreed with a laugh, enjoying the idea of this soldier being intimidated by his girlfriend's mother, "So, you get any big gifts for your birthday?"

"Unless there is something monumental in that pile over there, no, nothing big so far," Rory said, pointing towards the gift pile near the door, "Tris did give me these earrings to match the necklace he got me last year."

"Necklace last year, earrings this year," Christopher said, "Will there be a ring next year?"

"Dad!" Rory warned.

"Fair question, Ror, you've been together for a year and have known each other since you were sixteen," Christopher said, "I'm curious to know Tristan's intentions."

"Yes, Chris, there will be a ring at some point in the future," Tristan said, "The when exactly is still up in the air, but it's in the plan. When I know for sure, I'll be paying you a visit."

"Alright. I look forward to it," Christopher said, smiling as he walked away.

"Was it just me or did he seem overly happy about the prospect of being asked for his daughter's hand in marriage?" Tristan asked.

"He's never been asked before and it will be awhile still for Gigi, she's only eight," Rory said, "He wasn't expecting for that moment to come for another fifteen years or so."

"Logan didn't ask him?" Tristan wondered.

"No. They only met twice before and the first time was not a good experience," Rory said, making a mental note to share that with him later, "Plus with Mom really being the one to raise me, I guess he felt it more appropriate to ask her."

"I guess that makes sense," Tristan said, "I was planning on asking her and Luke, too."

"Really?" Rory asked.

"I want everyone important to you to know that I'm in this forever before I put that ring on your finger," Tristan said.

"That's sweet, Tris," Rory said.

"Don't spread it around. It'll ruin my bad boy image," Tristan said, laying his hand on her back as they began to move back throughout the room to greet more of the guests.

"Reporter Girl!" Rory heard called from behind her as she and Tristan stood talking with his grandparents a little later in the evening.

"Steph, it's so good to see you," Rory said turning around to give her old friend a hug. They had kept in contact after the New Year's Eve party, but both had been busy the last few months to get together.

"Happy Birthday, Love," Finn said, hugging her once Stephanie had let her go.

"Thanks, Finn," Rory said, "I'm so glad you're all here."

"Anything for you, Ace," Logan told her, joining their little gathering.

"Anything for me or my grandmother's taste in party food and endless alcohol?" Rory asked.

"Mostly you, a little on the food, and definitely the alcohol," Logan said, "Your grandparents only buy the best scotch."

"I can attest to that," Tristan said, raising his glass, drinking the last of it, "I'm going to get a refill. Anyone else?"

"I'm good," Rory told him.

"I'll join you," Logan said, "Ash?"

"Manhattan, please," Ashlee told Logan.

"How are the wedding plans going?" Rory asked Ashlee once Logan and Tristan had left to get drinks and the others left to say hello to other friends.

"Really good. It's exhausting, that's for sure," Ashlee told her, "I'm half tempted with every phone call from Shira to tell Logan I just want to elope."

"She wants a big society wedding and you don't, right?" Rory asked.

"Right. There are things I like. Getting married at the Vineyard, it's gorgeous there," Ashlee said.

"Definitely. It's been awhile since I've been, but a wedding there would be amazing," Rory said.

"Yeah so I love that and while we agreed on the colors, we continue to go back and forth on the flowers," Ashlee said, "We're getting married at the yacht club so we'll be right on the beach. I'd like to have multi-colored wildflowers lining the aisle and scattered on the beach. Shira wants roses, just roses. And then there's the whole dress debacle."

"Your wedding dress?" Rory asked.

"Yeah. Ever since I was a little girl I had this image in my mind of what I wanted my dress to be. I even drew it out a bunch of times and when Logan proposed I went to my parents house and dug out some old boxes and found all my drawings of it," Ashlee said, "I showed them to my mom and to Shira and while they agreed something custom made was the way to go, especially for the bride of the Huntzberger heir according to Shira, a custom design should be done up by a professional."

"Oh, that's awful. Your mother agreed to this?" Rory asked, "She didn't side with you on wanting your design?"

"She said it was cute, but with the Huntzbergers place in society she felt something fancier designed by someone who does it for a living would look better," Ashlee said, "They want as many names attached to the wedding as possible."

"That's terrible. You and Logan are paying for the wedding yourself, right?" Rory asked.

"Yeah. that took some arguing as well. Both families finding the idea ridiculous that Logan and I want to fund everything on our own," Ashlee said, "We keep trying to use that to convince our parents to let us do things how we want."

"It's your wedding. No matter who is paying for it, it's your day, you decide," Rory said, "If you really want your wedding dress the way you imagined it then make it happen. Find someone to make your dress the way you want it, to hell with whatever anyone else wants. Yours and Logan's are the only opinions that matter."

"Matter about what?" Logan asked, joining them along with Tristan, hearing the last of their conversation.

"Our wedding. Rory asked how the plans were going," Ashlee told him.

"Ah, she tell you about our mother's stance on the dress?" Logan asked.

"Yes and it's ridiculous. If you love the dress and you look gorgeous in it, it shouldn't matter if it came from Vera Wang or Filene's Basement," Rory said, "As long as you get that feeling when you try it on, that's all that matters."

"What feeling?" Ashlee asked.

"The feeling where the moment you have it on you never want to take it off. When you counting down the days and minutes and when the week before you find yourself trying it on every day just to get that feeling again," Rory said.

"Pretty insightful for someone that's never been married before," Tristan said.

"It's how my grandma was before she married my grandpa and Mom before she married Luke," Rory said, "The moment they put on their dress they just knew. Does the design you have give you that feeling?"

"When I pulled out my drawings of it I cried," Ashlee said, "I could see it on and feel the lace. It's my dress."

"Then let's make it happen," Rory said, "Tomorrow you and I will start looking for someone to make you your perfect dress."

"I can't get over how amazing this room is," Stephanie said as she sat down on the sofa in the theater of Rory and Tristan's house. During the times they've got together since New Year's, they'd been getting together for lunch on occasion in the city and partaking in movie nights at Rory and Tristan's.

"Are you sure it's cool with Tristan that we're honing in on the remainder of your birthday?" Ashlee asked from her spot in the floor as she leaned against the couch.

"Totally, that party wasn't exactly my idea of fun so I'm glad you all were able to come over," Rory said, "It's been awhile since I've had a sleepover with my friends and you are long overdue for a Gilmore Movie Night."

"What are we starting with?" Lorelai asked, joining Rory and Stephanie on the couch, walking in with snacks while Lane carried in a few pizzas.

"Well I promised Ashlee I'd help her track down someone to make her dream wedding dress so I thought we'd do a wedding theme," Rory said.

"So, The Wedding Singer first?" Lorelai asked.

"Of course," Rory said as Lorelai went to the DVD player to put their first movie in.

They were able to make it through The Wedding Planner and start their third movie, Wedding Crashers before sleep began to take some of them over. Sunday morning Rory woke to find all her friends asleep in various places in the theater. Finding her mother absent from the room she went in search of her in the kitchen.

"I figured I'd find you near the coffee pot," Rory said, taking a seat at the counter, accepting the cup of coffee from Lorelai, "What were you working on?"

"Oh, nothing," Lorelai said, quickly grabbing the stack of papers off the counter Rory had been looking at, one piece of paper falling to the ground.

"Ashlee's drawing? Why do you have this?" Rory asked.

"We were the last one's up and I asked her about it," Lorelai said, "She showed it to me and this morning when I woke up I got inspired."

"Let me see," Rory asked, holding her hand out to see what Lorelai had been working on.

"Now you can totally say no. I haven't said anything to Ashlee and she may not even like it or think the idea is totally crazy, which it is," Lorelai said, "I always imagined myself making your wedding dress."

"You still can, Mom," Rory told her, looking at the drawing Lorelai had made. She had copies Ashlee's almost exactly, adding a few changes and extra flourishes here and there, "Making Ashlee's dress first isn't going to stop that or make me want someone else to do it. I wasn't sure how you'd feel about it so I didn't suggest it."

"But…" Lorelai said.

"But, I think you should it. Assuming, Ashlee and Logan are cool with it," Rory said, "This is amazing, Mom. This design is gorgeous."

After having breakfast, while the rest of the girls went off to take showers and dress for the day, Rory and Lorelai stayed in the kitchen with Ashlee to discuss the idea of Lorelai designing Ashlee's wedding dress.

"Ashlee did I ever show you a picture of my first Chilton dance?" Rory asked her.

"No, why?" Ashlee asked.

"Hold on, let me just get a picture to show you," Rory said.

"Get one from graduation as well," Lorelai told her.

"Right and Romeo and Juliet," Rory said, grabbing a couple of photo albums from the living room shelves, bringing them into the kitchen.

"Who's the guy?" Ashlee asked, looking at the picture of Rory and Dean.

"First boyfriend, doesn't matter right now," Rory said, "Ignore the guy, focus on the dress."

"Your dress is beautiful," Ashlee said, moving on to look at a picture of Rory from her Chilton graduation, "It is in this one, too and the costumes are cool. Why are you showing me these?"

"How would you feel if the person who made those costumes and both of those dresses Rory is wearing made your wedding dress?" Lorelai asked, laying her drawing of Ashlee's dress down in front of her.

"You made all of these, Lorelai?" Ashlee asked.

"I did. We didn't have a lot of money when Rory was little so I used to make a lot of her clothes, mine too sometimes," Lorelai said.

"She also made our bridesmaid dresses for Sookie's wedding," Rory said, flipping one of the books a few pages to show a picture of them to Ashlee.

"Gorgeous," Ashlee said, "You want to make my wedding dress, Lorelai? That won't be weird?"

"Probably, but who cares," Lorelai said, "You have the vision of what you want your dress to be. I can make that vision a reality."

"And it wouldn't be the first wedding dress she's made," Lane said, joining them in the kitchen.

"Oh yeah, I forgot Mom made your dress," Rory said.

"Is it in here?" Ashlee asked.

"Um, yeah, should be," Rory said as she took a book and flipped a couple of pages until she found pictures from Lane's wedding.

"Wow, you look amazing Lane," Ashlee said.

"Thanks, Lorelai did wonders with that dress and I was so grateful," Lane said, "Mama wanted me to wear her dress and it came with pants."

"Pants?" Ashlee asked.

"Pants. It was bad," Lane said.

"Thankfully, it had a little accident with a cup of coffee so I was able to make Lane the dress of her dreams," Lorelai said.

"You really want to do this," Ashlee said, looking at the drawing Lorelai made, her eyes lighting up the more she looked at it.

"I really want to do this. I was inspired when you show me your drawing. I want to make this your dream dress," Lorelai told her.

"You're cool with this, Rory?" Ashlee asked her.

"Absolutely," Rory told her, "You deserve the best dress you can get and a Lorelai Gilmore is the best they come if you ask me."

"Thank you. I can't wait to get started on this and try it on," Ashlee said.

"Great. I'll take some measurements today to get started and we can plan a time to go shopping for fabric and finalize exactly what you want," Lorelai told her.

"Sounds good."