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This Time With Us by Celestie
Chapter 6: November-December, 2029 - Always in Roses
Always in Roses
“My dear boy, I would be delighted!” Mr. Bernard squeaked, wringing Albus’s hands.
Albus exhaled in relief. “Thanks, Mr. Bernard.”
“Father-in-law to you soon, eh?” said Mr. Bernard, sitting back and looking satisfied. “Oh, June’ll be wonderfully surprised! She’ll love it!” With a hint of sadness, he said, “And Victoria would have been as well. So happy.”
“Yeah,” said Albus somberly, thinking privately that he’d fully expected June to say as much as well.
But Mr. Bernard did not seem too upset for long. He sprang back up. “Such a joyous occasion calls for a drink, my boy. Let me see what I’ve got.”
In the seven years since they’d graduated, Mr. Bernard had moved out of the home he’d once shared with Albus’s parents. He now lived in a small flat above the muggle café he owned and cooked for. It was small and cozy; June had painted in oranges and beiges last summer and filled it with knick-knacks and keepsakes. The oddly coloured purple teapot and the assortment of flowery vases stamped her presence over the flat. Mr. Bernard himself looked and acted much the same, though he’d grown less plump and much balder.
“This was all I could manage, I’m afraid,” said Mr. Bernard, tottering out of the kitchen with a bottle in hand. “Just apple cider. Not exactly the champagne I’d hoped for. But all the same.”
“Good enough,” said Albus, accepting the glass that Mr. Bernard poured him and taking a sip to be polite. “Do you think she’ll be happy with how I’ve arranged it?”
“Delighted, my boy, she’ll be delighted,” he said firmly. “What a considerate thing to do. And I’ll be very happy to book the place for you, very happy indeed. She’s got a strong personal connection to the place, of course, since she’s been a little girl.”
“I’m glad, sir.”
Albus waited until they’d finished drinking before taking his leave. As he clambered into the fireplace, he heard Mr. Bernard ask behind him, “Have you told Ginny already, Albus? She must be very happy. As I recall, she’s been hoping for this sort of thing for a good eight years.”
“You’ve got no idea,” said Albus, grinning before he whirled out of sight.
At this time of year, the boutique Mademoiselle was a veritable mangle of chaos. There were shopgirls yelling to each other when Albus entered, yelling bits and pieces of phrases he couldn’t understand.
“ – the magenta one, size two, asked for it to be flowy – ”
“ – Emma, she wants it in chartreuse! This’s beige.”
“I’ve got no bloody idea what beige is and what chartreuse is! Come and get it yourself!”
“ – aubergine, size ten, doxy skin – ”
Albus sighed and looked around. It was a stylish place, reeking of expensive clothes. The walls were light gold coloured and every few feet hung another elaborate chandelier. There was already a small drove of women inside, sorting through racks and pulling out dresses and bags, chattering excitedly to one another.
“Can I help you with something?” a girl probed Albus. She appeared behind him, several dress robes draped over one arm. She began folding them as he watched. “You must be Mr. James. Mrs. Lupin said you might be coming.”
“Albus, actually,” he amended. “Is she here, by any chance?”
“She should be in her office,” she said. “Go down to the end of the store and down that long corridor. Her office’s three doors down. You’ll know it when you see it.”
“Thanks,” he said, getting on his way. As he navigated through the labyrinth of clothes, it became more obvious precisely why he’d never ventured past the door to go inside his cousin’s boutique.
Suddenly, a familiar dash of black streaked his way. He grabbed the first dress he saw and held it aloft, hiding his face. He peeked behind it.
June stood a few feet away, engrossed in a clipboard. She called out to one of the shopgirls arranging the clothes. “Emma, has the Dublin order been shipped already?”
Albus tip-toed his way across the few feet in between him and the door, still holding the frilly pink dress in front of his face. Once he was safely out of view, he tossed it aside and dashed down the corridor.
Victoire’s office door was immediately visible. It was a bright gold colour, ornamented with a large sign: Victoire A. Weasley-Lupin, Owner.
Without knocking, he wrenched the door open.
There, on her desk, his cousin was sitting, wearing her signature glasses and frown. Without looking up, she droned, “James, you’re early.”
“It’s Al,” he said and she looked up.
“For heaven’s sakes, Albus, you know I don’t like being surprised,” she said, pulling off her glasses. Despite being in her mid-thirties, she looked younger. “Even James had the good sense to call ahead of time. What on earth do you want?”
“Nice to see you too,” he said, taking a seat opposite her.
“You know how busy I am this time of year. We’ve run out on half our winter stock and we’re putting the finishing touches on our spring line.”
“I know. June’s busy too, remember?”
“Fine, fine.” she said, brandishing her long, lacquered nails at him. Every bit of her reeked of being primed and stylized, from the crocodile skin bag at her feet to her heels to her bright red lips. Her beauty had always occurred to Albus as being a little severe – she was a businesswoman and looked every inch of it. “I can spare a few minutes, I suppose. What do you need?”
“I’m proposing to June.”
“Oh good,” she said, not looking particularly surprised but smiling all the same. “I was starting to worry for her. I thought at the pace you were going, she’d be stuck a spinster. So what do you need? A wedding dress? I’ve got some great designs I’ve been dying to test out.” Without waiting for an answer, she began yanking out several sketchbooks from behind her. “Look, look at this one –”
“Er, no. Actually, Vic, I had something else in mind. Could you design a ring for me?”
“A ring?” her eyes widened.
“I wasn’t sure if you knew how to design rings. If you don’t, I could ask – ”
“Of course I do,” she said angrily. “I’ve learned it all in school and more.”
“Um, Vic, if you don’t know, you don’t have to force yourself.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she said. “I’m just going to draw the design. We’ll get a jewel expert to actually make it. But I know a few things about design myself, so all we need to decide is what kind of stone, colour and clarity you had in mind. And if we’re talking about diamonds – ” She looked at him eagerly.
“Yeah, I think we are.”
“Then carat.” She leaned her head in closer. She reminded him why simultaneously, he admired and was slightly terrified of her. “This’ll be perfect. Let’s get started.”
“Finally,” gushed Lucy, taking Albus’s hands in her own and beaming.
“I agree,” said Trista, taking a sip of her tea. “I think it’s brilliant you’ve finally plucked up the courage to do it.”
Albus looked sideways at Priscilla, who looked as though she were halfway between a conniption and a tantrum. “You’re marrying her?”
“Well Fawcett,” he said irritably, “I haven’t proposed yet. But if she says yes, that’s the general idea of things, yes.”
“And you’re proposing over the holidays!” said Lucy, clasping her hands together. “Oh, it’s lovely! It’s the perfect time of year!”
“Yeah, if you like rain and cold and doom and all the joy in the world shriveling up and dying,” said Priscilla grumpily.
“I happen to like doom very much, thanks,” said Albus.
They continued glaring at each other.
Lucy sighed. “Albus, Priscilla, please.”
“You’d think after nearly fifteen years of knowing each other, some things would change,” quipped Trista.
“Potters don’t change their spots,” said Priscilla.
“Careful,” said Albus, “June’ll be a Potter soon if things go my way.”
Priscilla’s jaw dropped. “I hadn’t thought of that! I’ll have to call her Potter instead of Bernard! You’ve turned everything inside out!” But after her glaring, she paused. “Oh, I imagine she’ll be thrilled, though. Even if I hate you and wish she’d found someone else.”
“Thanks,” said Albus dryly.
“But at this point, that seems impossible. She’s just too dim. So I suppose I’ll have to deal with it.” Priscilla frowned.
“That’s as close to a blessing as you’ll ever get, Albus,” said Trista. “But Lucy and I approve, so go for it.”
It was almost two weeks later that Albus found himself whispering into the phone, “Is everything ready?”
“All ready,” Mr. Bernard repeated obediently. “I wish you the best of luck, my boy.”
Albus hung up the phone and waited until June Floo’d back home. When she arrived twenty minutes later, she found him sitting on the floor, his hands tied together. He looked up and jumped. “You’re here!”
“Yes, I am,” she smiled, taking off her coat.
“You’ll want to put that back on,” he said, stashing something into his pocket. “We’re going out for a bit.”
“We are?” she said, looking surprised.
“We are,” he said firmly. “I insist. It’s important.”
“O…kay,” she said. “Are you going to tell me where?”
“No. Put your coat back on.” He grabbed her hand. “We’re Apparating there, so hold on.”
“Okay,” she said, closing her eyes. He flicked his wand and the world blurred before them.
When they stepped out, it was on a winding staircase. It was a windy December evening in muggle London. The sky had already turned black and a few stars were glinting out. Behind the lampposts and the trees, a wispy winter moon was hovering.
“Wow,” June began to gush, before Albus once more grabbed her hand. She looked around; it all looked very familiar. She blinked and the blurry world settled in. The winding staircase was beside a storefront. There were a few tables outside, situated under a large sign that read, Victoria’s Café. “You brought me to my dad’s café?”
“Yeah,” he said, trying to sound nonchalant. “He wanted to talk to you about something. Said it was important. Let’s go inside.”
“All right,” she said anxiously. “I hope he’s all right.”
“He’s fine,” said Albus, pushing the door open.
“But how do you know – ” She broke off, her eyes huge. Inside, the café was fully left in darkness, save for the candles he’d scattered on each table an hour ago. There were hundreds of lights hanging from the ceiling, each in the shape of a star. Finally, he’d hung a big white orb, which dangled at the center of the room and the star-shaped lights. She turned around, unable to find her voice. For a brief moment, June thought she knew what was coming next. But she pushed it out of her mind. No, she’d thought he was going to do it many times before, only to be disappointed each time.
“It’s been an amazing seven years,” he said, taking her hand. “When I think about all the things that’ve changed, it’s just…it’s brilliant. Everything’s worked out.”
“It has,” she said, flustered. She swallowed resolutely. “What’s all this for? Early Christmas present?”
“Not exactly,” he said. “You know I love you. I really do. And I think you feel the same way about me. You’ve made me so happy all these years. And I think it’s time.” He grasped her hand and dropped to one knee, yanking out a box from his pocket. “June, will you marry – “
June clenched her hands tightly, feeling very much like the flustered girl who was penning the first love letter of her life seven years ago. Their relationship had gone through its angry and ugly moments, through its arguments and bickering and seven years later, they had emerged out of it together.
“YES!” she exhaled, going furiously red. “Yes! Yes, I’ll marry you!”
“I didn’t even finish,” he said, disbelievingly. “I even forgot half that speech I memorized.”
Laughing, he kissed her. She collapsed into an embrace, laughing and crying at the same time. He swept her hair away from her face. “God, you won’t believe how nervous I was.”
“How nervous you were,” she said, accepting his kiss. “I can’t believe you finally got to proposing! I’ve been waiting for it for ages!”
They kissed once more for a long moment. She broke away and looked around, laughing waterily. “I haven’t even seen the ring yet.”
“Oh, right!” He opened the box.
She stared at it, dumbfounded. “Albus.”
“It’s special,” he said. “I had Victoire draw it out for me. I know you wanted to wear your mum’s wedding ring, but your dad said it’s been lost for a long time. And then you wanted to wear my mum’s, but my mum’s already promised hers to Lily. I’m just lucky your dad still remembered what your mum’s ring looked like. He knew exactly. Even after all this time. ” He held the ring closer to her. “So this’s kind of a blend of both. My mum’s was antique early nineteenth century. Your mum’s was some kind of 1950s French design. It’s some of both.”
“It’s perfect,” she said, accepting the box. He took the ring out of the box and slid it onto her finger.
She looked at it for a moment, looking as though she were near tears. “I love it. Thank you.” She looked around the room. “But I have been wondering though. Why all these decorations?”
“Lucy’s idea,” said Albus. “I wasn’t going to do anything to the place, but she insisted it look nice.”
“I love that you proposed in my mother’s café,” said June. “I really feel like she’s here with us today.”
Before they could kiss again, there was a knock on the windowpanes and a hiss of, “Potter? Are you done yet? It’s freezing outside!”
There was a collective groan of “Priscilla!”
“What?!” came back a voice filled with umbrage. “It’s snowing and I’m eight and a half months pregnant! I might just have this baby right now just to spite you! Let me in!”
“Priscilla’s outside,” said June, turning to Albus. “And who else?”
“Practically everybody,” said Albus. He turned and called, “You lot weren’t supposed to say anything until I announced it!”
“Screw your announcements, it’s snowing,” came back James Potter’s voice. “I’m with your mad pregnant friend here – I’m turning into an icicle. Let us in, won’t you Jane?”
“I concur with both women,” snarked Desmond’s voice.
“Oh, just let them in, Albus,” said June.
“But I wasn’t finished,” said Albus grumpily. “Oh, fine.”
He wrenched open one of the doors and a crowd much larger than June had anticipated filtered in. Both James and Lily Potter came in together, teeth chattering. James had his arm slung around his sister’s shoulder and looked nearly blue with cold. “I’ll congratulate you once I’m done melting, Al.”
“Honestly,” said his sister in exasperation. “I told you to dress warmly but you insisted on dressing the only way you know how. Like an idiot.”
Behind her came Rose and Victoire. Both beamed at Albus and June.
“Finally, you’re done living in sin,” said Rose, embracing Albus. “I wish you all the happiness you need.”
“How’d the ring work out, June?” said Victoire, pushing Rose aside. “Beautiful, isn’t it? I drew it myself off those ratty designs Al gave me. Honestly, the man sounds like Michelangelo the way he describes his own designs and then draws stick figures for me. His first design looked more like a raisin than a ring. But you do like it, don’t you?”
“It’s lovely, thank you,” June assured her and they hugged.
Behind Victoire came June’s favorite shivering trio: a beaming Trista, a crying Lucy and a tempestuous Priscilla.
“I’m so happy for you,” trilled Trista, flinging her arms around June. “So, so, so happy! I know how badly you wanted this! I’m so glad for you! I hope you’re very happy!”
“As am I,” said Lucy shakily, mopping her eyes. “Oh, I can’t b- believe it’s already b - been eight years. It feels like just yes- yesterday that you were egging me on to deliver that love letter and Priscilla was so angry.” She hiccupped through her tears. “I hope you know how happy I am.”
June hugged her and Albus kissed his cousin briefly on the forehead. “We do, Lucy.”
“Oh, now you’re on the engagement bandwagon,” said Priscilla. She looked at Albus blearily. “Do anything wrong and I break every bone in your body and then you go for a mysterious, decade long vacation in the jungles of Cambodia.”
“Priscilla!” said Lucy, scandalized.
But Albus laughed. “I appreciate the sentiment, Fawcett. I know you mean the best.”
Still looking at him suspiciously, Priscilla walked on. June was then hugged by her father and Albus’s parents. It was after she’d accepted Henry and Eliza’s congratulations, smiled at Nikita’s “Stalking does wonders, doesn’t it?”, taken Desmond’s promise to stay awake through the wedding, laughed at Nicholas’s “Now you’ve done it, mate,” to Albus, and posed for Cora Livingston’s cover photo for tomorrow’s Witch Weekly, that she got a moment of peace. She peered at Albus beside her and squeezed his hand.
“I feel like you’ve invited the whole world. What would you’ve done if I’d said no?”
“Gone into hiding and never shown my face to these people again,” he said smiling. “And tomorrow’s press headline would be ‘Potter humiliated in front of dozens’ with a picture of me hiding sheepishly, I suppose. But I didn’t think you would. So I thought you’d enjoy it more this way. You always say, ‘the more, the merrier’.”
“I do love it,” she said. “I’m glad we can share it with them.”
“One last thing I’ve got to give you, then,” he said. He pulled out his wand and stroked the air. A single white rose appeared and he offered it to her. “Can’t forget the roses today.”
Her eyes twinkled with amusement as she took it. “No, we definitely can’t.”
Lucy turned around, breaking off her animated conversation with Trista to admire Albus’s handiwork. “Oooh, roses. That’s lovely, Albus.”
“We’ll have plenty of them in our wedding, won’t we?” said June.
“Why?” said Lucy, scanning between Albus and June and not understanding the familiar grin they shared.
When she looked at Albus, he smiled, remembering their seven years together and the many more to come and said, “I suppose you could say it’s just a little joke. It’s always roses with us.”
Author's Note: Hello my wonderful, wonderful readers. I actually updated relatively...on time. I was eager to get this chapter out. It's not one of my favorite ones in this novella (and definitely not in the original BIR) but I really thought it was a necessary one. We all know that cliche moment when the proposal comes, right? But I suppose I still wanted to write one for Junebus anyway before we bid them goodbye.
This is technically the very last chapter. I have an epilogue typed away, set some fifteen years or so later, though I'm still very much debating putting it up. It's very DH epilogue-esque, but it will indicate who got married, who had kids and who didn't. Would you like to see it or would you rather have TWWU end on this note? I'll keep your feedback in mind before posting anything.
And in any case, this chapter marks a pretty big deal for me. My main characters are going to be married off after 3 long years of writing and mulling over them. I can't say how much I've appreciated the reads, the reviews, and the support. It's been such a pleasure writing this story and its prequel and I really hope you've enjoyed the ride as well.