Chapter 1 : Ravissant
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She wraps her coat closely around her shivering frame, the expensive material hugging her tightly. Her breath forms a mist in front of her face, the cool air whisking it away into the night before she has time to watch it. The remains of the year’s snow crunches under the heel of her shoe as she strolls beside Bill, his arm tucked around her waist. It is late at night and she leans into him, enjoying the warmth he brings to her. Though the streets are busy on this night, she does not notice the others that pass them. One foot in front of the other, she enjoys the time spent in the simplicity of routine. Nothing can be more enjoyable than time spent with him, the man who makes her world spin. She has left her country, her family, her customs in order to be with him and it is all worth it. She loves him passionately and ineffably; she is enchanted.
They pause, gloved fingers clutching the icy bridge. The water below is dark and icy, the surface still and cool. The lights of nearby buildings light up the surface, a perfect mirror. Fleur smiles, her white teeth shining like the stars hidden beneath the clouds. At that moment, she is happy and she knows he is too. She leans up and kisses his cheek, overtaken by a momentary euphoria.
She is lucky to have him, and she starts to feel it as he supports her back, his hand splayed. What she wants to say she cannot express, the language barrier rendering her words ineffective and blunt. She has always considered the French language far more beautiful than the English, and she wishes he could understand her mother tongue. Like Paris, where they stand now, is the city of romance, Fleur considers her language to be romantic too. The words slip off her tongue and caress her lips, the words gentle and adoring. But she stays in England to improve this skill, to translate her feelings into something Bill can understand. And she thinks, somehow, he does. Perhaps it is the way her eyes sparkle when he looks at her, or how radiant she becomes when he holds her close; something happens to her that is more than magic.
She wonders how they ended up here so quickly; the trust, the friendship, the love all seem so natural Fleur cannot remember a time without them. He is home to her even though she is so far from her home country and family. That’s how he makes her feel, that no matter where she is, as long as he’s there she is safe. She has never had many friends, for most people find her intimidating; Bill is refreshing because he is not scared to know her, to love her. She can be Fleur without fear of losing him.
It is Fleur he now takes in his arms and clutches to his chest. It is Fleur he holds tightly on this cold December evening, protecting her from the snow. He considers her dainty and delicate, even though he knows she is tough and strong. This woman is remarkably strong-willed, something he finds both surprising and endearing. She’s hard as a nutshell, but so entrancing that he can’t help but love her. He knows why she came to England, but he cannot begrudge her of it because it is what brought them together. Seeing her face as she walked through his front door for the first time in years brought something out of him he never knew existed; and he feels it now as she smiles into his chest.
It isn’t just the way she speaks French, though he cant deny it’s attractive; no, it is her persona that makes him so irresistibly addicted to her. He finds it amusing how his family do not warm to her, though he admits it is perplexing. For he loves everything about her, from the shine in her hair and the spark in her eye to her shapely legs and extensive collection of shoes. Sometimes the things she says brings him the edge of hilarity, at others he marvels at her tenacious passion. This woman fires something in the rebel within him, the illicit thoughts and feelings that his mother certainly doesn’t approve of. He no longer cares what his mother thinks, he know Fleur will win her around eventually. How can anyone resist her?
He steps back momentarily, a frown creasing her forehead. He smiles mischievously, burying his hands in his pockets.
“Bill?” she murmurs, her hand reaching out for him, ready to pull him close again.
He catches her hand mid-air, squeezing it gently before lowering himself to the ground. Her eyes widen, a small smile playing on her lips. He struggles not to laugh, for she knows what he is about to do and he feels foolish, one knee on the melting snow, her hand in his. He pulls the small velvet box from his coat pocket, opening it and watching as her cheeks glow.
“Veux-tu m'épouser?” The words feel strange on his tongue, his own cheeks blushing as he says the words he has been memorizing for weeks. His eyes never leave her face, the grin masking her surprise.
Her breath forming mist in front of her, she laughs. “Oui.” How can she say anything else?
He slips the ring onto her slender fingers, a grin escaping his face. He takes her face in his strong hands and kisses her lips over and over again as he captures the moment and saves it. It is one moment with of her of many that he wishes he can relive and while they stand above the Seine he can pretend it will last forever. He doesn’t ever want the feeling to end and it doesn’t have to; he can hold her close to him like this every day until the day they die because he is hers and she is his. As he kisses her for a final time, the fireworks erupt into the sky.
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