VI

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Dedicated to kattyarshi

"Arnav-ji!" Arnav turned around abruptly surprised at hearing Khushi's voice. Khushi gasped looking at Arnav's moistened eyes.

"Arnav-ji!" Khushi stepped towards Arnav cupping his cheek and gazing deep in his eyes trying to comprehend the reason behind his unshed tears.

Arnav glanced at Khushi and wrapped his arms around Khushi taking her by surprise. Khushi stood immobile in his arms at the sudden hug. Before she could comprehend the situation, she felt wetness on her nape. Her breath stuck realizing that her Arnav-ji was crying. Her arms went around his torso forming soothing circles at his back frantically trying to calm him.

"What happened, Arnav-ji?" Khushi asked slowly after a while. She sighed at his lack of response and stayed silent letting him get over his emotions.

Not much later, Khushi heard Arnav whisper, "I am sorry, Khushi." Khushi gasped as the words registered inside her. She was sure to have missed his words if not for her standing so close to him in his arms.

"I am sorry for every single time I have hurt you. I am sor-"

"Shhh! No, Arnav-ji. We have already passed this phase." Khushi replied recalling the day Arnav had confessed his feelings to her and had apologized. That day brought various memories rushing back into her head.

"How could you just forget all the hurt, Khushi?" Arnav mumbled.

Khushi sighed closing her eyes and listening to his heart beat. "I never said I forgot everything, Arnav-ji."

Khushi tried breaking the hug to look at him but failed as she felt Arnav tighten his hold around her. Giving up not wanting to upset him, she lightly nuzzled her face in his chest and continued, "I have forgiven you, Arnav-ji, but that does not mean I have forgotten everything. It is so easy to forgive you because I know what situation you were in. But then, forgetting the pain is just as hard. It will take time. But eventually, it will subside and get locked in the back of my head."

Khushi felt her eyes turning wet feeling a bit of a heart ache from the past. Her breath labored controlling her thoughts from waying off.

Arnav loosened the hug not breaking it completely and cupped Khushi's cheek with his left palm. He tried forming words to say what he wished to but Khushi beat him to it and asked, "Arnav-ji—" Khushi gulped hard and looked at Arnav as she said the words, "—what after the six months end?"

Arnav sighed deeply and broke the hug completely. He lead Khushi towards the recliner and made her sit comfortably there before turning around and walking towards the walk-in closet. Khushi sat on the recliner dejected and bewildered at his lack of response, her heart thudding with an unknown anticipation.

Arnav walked out of the closet with a blue file in his hand and walked to where Khushi sat looking at him, lost. He knelt in front of Khushi and forwarded her the file which she took without a thought more trying to get an end to his confusing gestures.

Khushi opened the file and read the words written on the stamp paper. Her eyes widened and moistened at every sentence she read. She gasped loudly for air as she felt the tears choking her throat, her eyes darting to look at Arnav who sat there with his head bowed down.

Tears rolled down her eyes as she continued looking at Arnav with questions filling her head.

"I.. I was coming on the terrace to tell you kyun mujhe farq padta hain. But then, I saw you with Shyam." Arnav started slowly too ashamed to look at Khushi. Khushi's gazed stayed fixated at him wanting him to continue. "I was broken when I saw you in his arms. And then, you asked him to leave Di. I was messed up. I couldn't think straight. For the first time, I fell in love. I was angry and hurt. But I was also scared — to lose you. I wanted you for myself. I couldn't think of anything else. That's why I came up with the marriage part."

Khushi's glassy eyes looked at Arnav, a little hurt as she asked, "If you wanted me and wished to marry me for the rest of your life, why did you threaten me with a six month contract? Why marry me with a contract and then make me sign a legalized marriage document?"

Khushi looked at the file in her hand painfully. How scared she was with the thought of her Arnav-ji leaving her at the end of six months! How she was scared of her own life! She recalled the day of their contractual - now, legalized - marriage day when he had asked her to read and sign the document. She was too broken and lost to have read the papers and had just signed at the pages Aman had asked her to. All this while, she thought he didn't consider her as his wife and there he was considering her as his legally wedded wife.

"I was angry. I wanted to hurt you. I wanted you to feel the hurt I was feeling, at that time." Arnav whispered in defeat. How his one action has caused so much pain to his love. He looked up frantically adding, "I never wanted to leave you, Khushi. Trust me. I would never have let you walk away. You are my wife, my life. I love you!"

Khushi looked at Arnav in his eyes as he tried to make her believe his words. Khushi chuckled mirthlessly inside as she realized that he did not even have to make an effort to make her trust him. She did. She trusted him again. His eyes were a window to his soul. How did she fail to notice the possessiveness in them? How could she not see how protective he got over her!?

A thick atmosphere of silence filled the room. Khushi was satisfied with their future. She will always be with her Arnav-ji. Her Arnav-ji loves her. But she's a little hurt, okay, maybe a lot hurt with the way Arnav hid about their legalized marriage.

Khushi sighed in defeat. There was a conflict between two parts of her mind. Heart did not even have to step in. Her mind was occupied with the thoughts of forgiveness and needing time.

Arnav looked at his Khushi who was lost in her own thoughts. He knew he has done some irreversible damages in her life, their lives but he accepts them and he knows it's high time he sets things right gives his Khushi the happiness she deserves.

Arnav cleared his throat gaining his Khushi's attention. "I know you are hurt, Khushi. But give me a chance to fix this. Please?"

Khushi looked at a determined Arnav waiting for her acceptance. It felt so good to see Arnav asking her opinion or even permission for their relationship. She felt equally participating in their present life, together. Khushi smiled lightly and nodded her head in acceptance gaining a dimpled smile from Arnav.

"Khushi, I have broken your dream of a big fat Indian wedding. Let me make it come true. I want you to live your dream." Arnav said looking at Khushi who stayed silent too overwhelmed to speak.

"But —" Arnav gulped before continuing, "I wish to take it slow, Khushi." Seeing Khushi's confused eyes, Arnav rushed to explain, "We have spent months with each other but we hardly know anything about the other. I want us to know each other better, go on a few dates. Let Nani decide the dates and before marriage, let us have a few outings, just us."

Arnav looked at his Khushi with baited breath to know what she thought of his idea. He felt it a necessity to know each other to avoid any sort of miscommunication and misunderstanding in the near future. But he was unsure of Khushi. She has been brought up in a society where a girl and a boy weren't allowed to spend time before their wedding. That is why he needed to know if she was comfortable with the idea.

Khushi smiled lightly knowing Arnav was right. They knew very little of each other and it was really needed to spend time. "I agree with you, Arnav-ji." Arnav looked startled at Khushi making her chuckle seeing his surprised expression. "You are right, Arnav-ji. We do need to know each other."

"Thank you, Khushi—" Arnav whispered hugging her tightly "— for agreeing to this. I promise, I will make everything fine."

"I know, Arnav-ji, you will make everything fine." Khushi said wrapping her arms around him.

~

Tadda! The update is here.
I'm waiting for the reviews.
I hope you are enjoying it.
Oh, please, forgive the typos.

This is a special 'Anjali-free' update as requested. Enjoy it.

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Good night!
Sweet dreams!

Love,
Kiddo ♥️

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