this is the last chapter of A Little Burden and the long-awaited wedding! I'm due in for another dental surgery this week, so while a sequel to this is in the works (as well as updates for other fics), it might not be up this week! Please enjoy! - Dee
She smoothed the fabric over her stomach - her hands shaking slightly as she saw the tell-tale bump in the mirror.
Jean was a marvel, altering the pale blue dress to conceal how much the baby grew between weeks twelve and sixteen, but Alice still worried that it was easily seen.
"Alice, it's fine," Jean came up behind her and squeezed her shoulders. "No one will know unless they already do."
"I just… I don't want people getting the wrong idea about why we're getting married."
Jean pulled her hands away from the bump and readjusted the fabric of the skirt so it lay a little more naturally. She squeezed Alice's shoulders again and marveled at the simple, yet elegant dress Alice chose to get married in.
A portrait neckline, fitted bodice - sleeves ending above her elbows - until right above her natural waistline where a simple circle skirt fanned out to just below her knees. A sheer overlay skirt with scalloped edges the same color as the rest of the dress added a bit of subtle detail to the whole look. Alice wore a thin black leather belt around her waist, a borrowed sapphire brooch from Miss Fisher, Jean's pearls (a gift from Dorothy Lucas), black pumps, and black gloves to tie it all together. It was a dress she could wear again after the wedding and Jean thought she looked amazing.
"You look gorgeous, Alice," Jean smiled. "Anyone who thinks you're getting married to Matthew for any other reason than the fact that the two of you love each other are bloody idiots."
Alice laughed and her hands stopped shaking. "What would I do without you, Jean?"
"Worry more, now sit and have something to eat and drink if Baby Lawson will let you while I do your hair, and then we'll touch up the make up."
As Jean tackled her hair with a brush, Alice ate the small sandwiches Dot Collins brought to them earlier that morning. It was quiet in the small room where she, Jean, and Rose got ready (Rose was currently standing guard outside the door). Alice didn't mind the quiet and Jean's presence was more than enough to keep her calm.
"Stop fidgeting," Jean laughed, "Unless you want pins stuck in your scalp."
"I'd prefer not to bleed on my wedding day," Alice grinned. "I'm sorry, Jean, I just…"
"You're getting antsy because you're excited, I know."
"A lot has happened in the past few months, well, this past month really."
Jean chuckled, "Yes, I don't think any of us were expecting your flat to flood quite so… dramatically. Luckily, your lease was up soon and all that was left in it was some furniture."
"I'm glad I listened to you and started storing my things in the garage as I packed it all up. You're sure you don't mind Matthew and I living in the house after we get married?"
"Not at all! It'll help the two of you save some money while you look for a house of your own, plus easier to schedule doctor's appointments for you." She leaned forward with a mischievous look, "And all the chocolate cake you'd like, whenever you'd like it."
Alice laughed as Rose poked her head around the door.
"Alice? A Jack Robinson is here to see you."
"You can send him in, Rose, Jean's nearly done."
Jean put the finishing touches on Alice's hair and makeup and let her stand as the door opened further and a man with mostly grey hair (turning white at the temples) and gold-rimmed spectacles entered.
"Alice Harvey, look at you," He smiled, his voice low and soft. "That man of yours is very lucky indeed."
Alice shook her head with a fond smile, "Thank you. Um… Jack, this is Mrs. Jean Blake, a very close friend of mine in Ballarat. Jean, this is Chief Superintendent of City South Jack Robinson. He works with Miss Fisher and Mac… well, they work with him really."
"Ah, much like Lucien?" Jean smiled and shook Jack's hand. "Alice works with my husband in the morgue, he's the police surgeon and drives Matthew up a wall most days."
Jack laughed, "I'm familiar with nosey detectives, Mrs. Blake."
"Call me Jean, Superintendent Robinson."
"Jack, please." He smiled and turned to Alice, "I… uh, I hope I'm not interrupting, but I wanted to stop by before the ceremony to congratulate you on the baby and the wedding."
"No, you weren't interrupting, we're just about done," Alice looked to Jean - who nodded - and then back at Jack. "Actually, there was something I wanted to ask of you, but I wasn't sure if you were going to be able to make it today - police business and all that."
"Anything, Alice, you're family."
She smiled and ducked her head as Jean squeezed her shoulder.
"I was wondering, Jack, if you would… walk me down the aisle? My… my own father and I haven't spoken or seen each other in decades and since I started university here in Melbourne, you were always the closest thing I had to a father figure."
His blue eyes widened behind the spectacles as he cleared his throat, "Oh, um…"
"I would have thought Mac to be the better person, honestly, Alice," Jack shrugged with a soft smile. "She was your mentor and you were closer to her than anyone else."
"Mac and I agreed that it would be a little too… unconventional," Alice grinned. "Besides, I've already dropped a very large surprise on Matthew's family regarding the baby, I'd like to keep his family on good terms."
Jack laughed and pulled her in for a gentle hug, "Then I'd be honored, Alice."
"Are we ready?" Rose poked her head around again. "Dr. Mac says it's good to go out here."
Alice picked up her bouquet - large enough to disguise her growing bump, but simple enough for Alice's tastes - and tucked her arm in Jack's elbow as Jean exited first.
"Ready?" Jack asked her as they neared the doors of the ceremonial space.
Alice bit down on her lower lip briefly - hands shaking again, a bundle of nerves and excitement - but she looked up at Jack and smiled. "Ready."
Jack leaned down and pressed a kiss to her temple as Jean started down the aisle. "It'll be over before you know it, just focus on that man of yours."
And she did.
Alice barely remembered the walk down the aisle - her hand tight around Jack's elbow - or the ceremony itself, but she remembered the shining look in Matthew's eyes as he blinked back tears on her walk towards him and Lucien. She remembered his soft and slightly gruff, "you look beautiful, sweetheart" when Jack gave her away. She remembered the familiar, steady warmth of Matthew's hand in hers as they stood before the minister and exchanged vows and rings (Lucien briefly pretending he'd lost the rings, just to get back at Matthew after his wedding last year). She remembered murmuring an "I love you" to Matthew before they shared their first kiss as husband and wife - feeling his grin against her lips as their friends and family cheered around them. And she remembered the utter relief that the ceremony was over and they could relax at the reception at Miss Fisher's home before leaving for the hotel.
"We did it," Matthew whispered in her ear as Rose snapped a few photos. He pressed a kiss to her cheek just as the flash went off. "I'm officially Matthew Harvey."
Alice laughed, "You are a silly man."
Matthew grinned and kissed the back of her hand. "By the way, you never told me you knew the legendary Jack Robinson, sweetheart."
"You never asked," she teased. "I told you about him, dearest."
"I know, I know, I just never connected the dots between Robinson and your stories, I guess," Matthew smiled. "How do you feel?"
"Hungry," Alice smiled when he laughed. "Excited, elated, happy, content… everything, I think. It's been a whirlwind of a past few months and I still can't quite believe that I just got married and that we're going to have a baby by Christmas. I'm ready to put my feet up."
"It's been a wild ride so far, it'll be an adventure to come."
"A kiss for the camera, Uncle Matthew?" Rose teased as she held up the camera.
"Rose," he frowned as Alice laughed. "You didn't do this to Lucien and Jean."
"Lucien and Jean didn't ask me to take photos. And don't tell me you don't want to kiss your new wife, Uncle Matthew."
"If we do it she'll probably leave us alone, Matthew," Alice whispered, grinning when he let out a long-suffering sigh.
"One photo," Matthew narrowed his eyes at Rose until his niece nodded (with a begrudging eye roll). Turning back to Alice, he leaned in and kissed her - smiling against her mouth when she slid a hand around the back of his neck as Rose took the photo. He pressed a kiss to Alice's forehead and whispered, "I love you."
"I love you too."
"Ready to sit and eat?"
"Oh, God, yes."
He laughed and led her over to Phryne Fisher, with a quick word the lady detective soon gathered their friends and family around to rendezvous at Wardlow for food and drink. Mac escorted the newlyweds to her car ("I figured you'd like to arrive at your reception in one piece, Alice." "Thank you, Mac.") and they were one of the first to arrive.
Phryne's butler took Alice's bouquet off her hands and filled them with small sandwiches (same as this morning), and a champagne flute filled with water. Alice chuckled, but took the offerings with gratitude.
Matthew pressed a kiss to the side of her head as she made a beeline for the chaise lounge in Phryne's parlor. "I'll be with you in a minute, sweetheart."
"I'll save you a seat," Alice smiled over her shoulder and settled down to eat before the interruptions started. Matthew joined her and she looked at her husband with a smile.
Her husband - something she never saw herself having, but Alice learned that with Matthew life had a way of going awry. And she wouldn't have it any other way.
Matthew held on to Alice's hand tightly as they slowed to a stop in the hotel lobby. He whistled lowly, "I don't think I could ever afford this place."
Alice nodded next to him, her eyes just as wide, "Me either."
He nudged her with his elbow, "We get to stay here for the week, sweetheart."
"I know," Alice smiled. "We should probably check in."
"Right," Matthew grinned and walked up to the front desk.
Checking in took little time to do, Matthew smiled when Alice leaned her head against his shoulder as they waited for their keys. The giddiness over the wedding finally subsiding, the calm settling in as they both started to relax and look forward to a week alone without any responsibilities.
A steward led them up to the honeymoon suite ("A suite!" Alice gaped when the front desk clerk told them. "We really have to thank Miss Fisher." "Yes we do.") and unlocked the door for them.
"Enjoy your stay, Mr. and Mrs. Lawson."
"I can't quite carry you over the threshold, Alice." Matthew turned to her with a grin.
She just shook her head fondly and pulled him into the suite. Immediately after he closed the door, Alice kicked off her pumps and sighed in relief.
"C'mon," he wrapped an arm around her waist and directed her towards the bedroom and en suite bathroom. "Let's draw you a nice bath and then we'll relax."
"Only if you'll join me, dearest. It'll be good for your leg."
Matthew pressed a kiss to the side of her head with a smile, "Deal."
Quickly and quietly, the two of them entered the bedroom. It was decked out in unlit candles and rose petals scattered around the bed - a bouquet of the same roses in a vase on the vanity table. The lights were dimmed pleasantly and Alice covered her mouth with her hand as she fought back tears. The whole room was lovely and she struggled to think of a way to thank Miss Fisher for it.
Matthew whistled lowly, his arm tightening around her waist, "Wow."
"Yeah," she sniffed and smiled wryly at her rampaging hormones.
"We'll have to really thank Miss Fisher later," he whispered and held her close. "But… let's not look a gift horse in the mouth, hm, and enjoy this."
"My thoughts exactly."
Matthew shrugged off his suit jacket and hung it up as Alice set to work removing her jewelry and putting on the vanity table. He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
She sighed and leaned back against him, "We got married today."
"Who's going to be more shocked back home, Hobart or the hospital?"
Matthew laughed and tilted her head back for a kiss, "You are a devious woman, Alice Lawson."
Alice just hummed and smiled as Matthew trailed kisses along her jaw and neck. She threaded her fingers through his over the small swell of her stomach. They were married and by the end of the year they'd be joined by a child of their own. Her mind reeled over everything that had happened in just a short amount of time: pregnancy, engagement, meeting his family, her flat flooding, moving into the Blake house with Matthew and the Blakes, marriage, and all just within the past four months. Within four months she'd gone from worrying about being pregnant to a small part of her looking forward to becoming a mother - she still worried she'd be too strange for the baby, but late night talks with Matthew, Jean, Lucien, and Matthew's mother were slowly putting some of her fears to rest.
"I can hear you thinking, sweetheart." Matthew whispered in her ear, his hands smoothing over the small bump - she'd feel the baby move soon from what Jean told her.
"Just musing over everything that's happened in the past four months… bit of a whirlwind, no?"
He smiled against her cheek and kissed the corner of her mouth, "Yeah, it has been, but… I've kind of liked it. Everyone needs a little excitement in life."
She laughed, "I suppose. We'll get plenty of it with a baby."
Matthew pressed a kiss to her cheek, "Yeah, we will. But, for this week, sweetheart, we can relax a bit… enjoy each other before Baby Lawson interrupts us."
She nodded and Matthew's hands smoothed up her sides to gently unbutton her dress. Her cheeks warmed as she shivered with each brush of his fingers against her skin - Matthew pressed a kiss to the crown of her head as he undid all of the buttons with a skill that echoed the casual intimacy between them. His touch felt new and familiar at the same time and Alice wondered if she'd ever get tired of his hands on her body.
"Let me go find you a hanger for the dress," Matthew murmured against her skin as he kissed the back of her shoulder. "And then I'll go start the bath."
"Okay," she nodded and stepped out of the beautiful dress - careful not to snag her feet on the fabric - as Matthew brought back a hanger and held it up for her to rebutton it.
Alice hung the dress up and swiftly turned to Matthew before he could go into the bathroom - pulling him to her for a kiss by his loosened tie.
He laughed against her lips and willingly swept her up in a kiss, "I love you, Mrs. Lawson."
"I love you, dear husband." She loosened his tie further, pulling it from his neck and tossing over the door of the wardrobe as she started to unbutton his shirt. Matthew undid his cufflinks behind her back, chuckling when Alice kissed his neck and jaw.
"I've still got to run that bath."
"I know," Alice kissed him softly. "But you are far too dressed for my liking."
He laughed and kissed her back as she finally unbuttoned his shirt and pushed it from his shoulders. Alice's hands smoothed up his arms and around his neck as Matthew pulled her in for another kiss. She didn't think she'd ever tire of kissing him - of loving him.
"Would you like bubbles in your bath, sweetheart?" Matthew nuzzled her nose and pressed a kiss to her lips.
"Yes please," Alice giggled. "And you're joining me, yes?"
"Yes," he nodded. "I'll go start it now, why don't you go see if they left us anything to enjoy in our bath?"
With another kiss, Matthew went into the en suite bathroom and soon Alice heard the water running. Walking out into the parlor, Alice noticed the ice bucket with a bottle of champagne, a box of (likely expensive) chocolates, and a letter propped up against it. Tilting her head to the side, Alice picked up the letter.
It was addressed to her in Phryne's familiar looping handwriting. Intrigued even more, she quickly opened the envelope and pulled out the creamy white pages. She read it quickly, tears springing to her eyes with each line, and that was how Matthew found her: standing in a richly decorated parlor wearing only her slip and underwear, tears streaming down her face as she stared at the letter.
"Sweetheart?" He approached her carefully - his hand smoothing over her back as Alice wiped away her tears with a trembling smile. "What is it?"
Wordlessly, his wife handed him the letter and he took it as she buried her face in the crook of his neck.
"My Darling Alice," it read - Matthew vaguely recognized the handwriting as Miss Fisher's. "First, congratulations on your nuptials. When Mac told me of your engagement, I was ecstatic. When she then told me of your other little surprise, I laughed because when does Alice Harvey do anything by halves?
"I know this is not exactly how you saw your life going, but I know you'll cherish it. A love like the one between you and Matthew is not easily found. It'll be an adjustment, being a wife and mother, but I know you'll take it head on like all of your other challenges in life. You've such a capacity for love, my darling girl, and the world is better for it. You love Matthew and I know you'll love the life the two of you created with that love.
"Take this week to focus on each other. Spoil each other, love each other, and just relax for once! We're likely to not see you two this week, but you're always welcome for tea or dinner at Wardlow. And order whatever room service you'd like this week, darling, I'm covering the bill.
"With much love, Phryne Fisher."
"You weren't joking when you said she was generous," Matthew pulled Alice in for a hug, smiling when she let out a watery laugh. "You okay?"
"I'm just… a little overwhelmed, I think."
"Is it so surprising that people love you, sweetheart?" He pressed a kiss to the top of her head.
Alice shrugged and wrapped her arms around his waist. "I… the only person I ever loved before I met Mac and her friends was my little sister… she was only six when we got separated in the foster care system. My parents… well they were expecting sons and got two daughters instead and they turned… violent."
Matthew held her closer, "Well, bugger them for not appreciating you or your sister. And bugger them for hitting you and… what's your sister's name?"
"Margaret, I called her Peg."
"Bugger your parents for hitting you and Peg," he smiled when she chuckled. "You are loved, Alice Eleanor Lawson, you are so loved and you deserve it."
She rose up on her toes slightly and kissed him, "And so are you, Matthew Henry Lawson, and you deserve it too."
Matthew kissed her back. Quietly, he picked up the bottle of champagne - only to discover it was sparkling apple cider from America and therefore non-alcoholic. Grinning (Miss Fisher must have told the hotel about Alice's aversion to the smell and taste of alcohol), Matthew showed her the label.
Alice laughed and picked up the two champagne flutes as well as the box of chocolates, "To the bath, Mr. Lawson?"
"To the bath, Mrs. Lawson."
Alice pushed the sheet back with a groan. "I don't think I can move anymore."
Matthew chuckled as he nipped at her hip and emerged from under the sheet. He kissed his way up her body, pausing every so often to admire the various love bites he'd left already.
"You wore me out." She complained, her hands landing in his hair.
"I thought that's what you're supposed to do on your wedding night."
"I can't move."
Matthew laughed and kissed her stomach, "Lucky for us, we don't have to go anywhere for a week."
Her nails scratched at his scalp as he continued to pepper her torso with kisses - his hands roaming over her hips and sides. This was nice, both of them didn't usually get to laze around and have clear schedules together, but this week was all about them.
He smoothed a hand below Alice's belly button, and felt the bump of where their child resided. Four months gone now, Alice was starting to show - only if you really knew where to look - and relax a little more about the pregnancy as a whole (though her worries about motherhood remained).
"How are you feeling today?" He asked her quietly, resting his head just below her ribs.
She ran her fingers through his hair and sighed. "Better… I think the morning sickness is starting to subside, but I'm still tired a lot more than usual."
"Maybe Baby Lawson is trying to tell their mum to slow down."
His head moved as she laughed under his ear.
"Maybe, maybe… Jean and Lucien said things would start to change more after about twelve to sixteen weeks, so now the fun begins."
He pressed a kiss to her stomach, "We'll get through it, sweetheart."
"Mm-hm, you're stuck with me now, Superintendent." He felt the thin, cool touch of her wedding band against his neck and Matthew just kissed her stomach again with a smile. Pulling himself up until he was face to face with Alice, Matthew leaned down and kissed his wife.
His wife - something he never thought he'd find. He'd been too shy, too much of a gruff and grumpy man for any woman to put time into peeking under his walls, but Alice stalked into his life with all the subtlety of a storm. It had taken them awhile to slowly let down their walls - to be friends, let alone lovers - but she'd been unlike any other woman he'd courted in the past. As she lay beneath him, a gold band on her finger and her body carrying his child, Matthew thanked his lucky stars that she'd come into his life at all.
"Good morning," he whispered - feeling her grin against his lips.
"A very good morning indeed."
"What would you like to do today?" Matthew asked as he lay next to Alice. She scooted closer and rested her forehead against his - as though she couldn't bear not touching him in some way.
"Actually sleep," she grinned when he laughed. "Order room service… laze around… I don't know, how do you do rest and relaxation?"
Matthew tucked her hair behind her ear, "Wouldn't know, sweetheart, but I'm sure we can figure it out this week. We'll take it easy today, order food in and sleep since neither of us got much of that last night."
Alice blushed and giggled, "No, we didn't. I'd say the marriage is thoroughly consummated."
He kissed her, lazily stroking her tongue with his, and held her close. "Any requests for breakfast, Mrs. Lawson?"
"You're never going to get tired of that, are you?"
"Well, then, Mr. Harvey," she teased. "Ginger tea if they have it, fruit, and scrambled eggs with some cheese, please?"
"Your wish is my command."
They spent the week lazing around in bed, ordering food when they felt like it, and going out and about around Melbourne. They explored museums and bookstores, the waterfront and open air markets where Matthew bought her a small, delicate necklace, and Alice found him a smart pair of cufflinks. They ate in small cafes and restaurants both remembered from their time in the city years ago - Alice even braving the cold weather as she ate an ice cream cone (a spur of the moment craving that made Matthew smile fondly as she enjoyed the treat).
The two of them enjoyed their week vacation - enjoyed just being Matthew and Alice Lawson instead of Chief Superintendent and Doctor. Though they did stop in City South to see Jack and Hugh, somehow managing to get roped into a bit of a mystery over tea for a majority of their last afternoon in Melbourne. It bled over into dinner at Miss Fisher's house and a late night discussion with everyone about it and other cases of their pasts - before Alice's yawns got too frequent and they retired back to the hotel for one last night of luxury before a mid-morning train back to Ballarat.
Alice leaned up against Matthew for a nap as the train pulled out of Melbourne, humming contentedly when he pressed a kiss to the top of her head.
"I love you, Mr. Lawson," she whispered, smiling as he dropped a kiss on her forehead.
"I love you, Mrs. Lawson."