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Chapter 36 : Of epilogues and endings
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One year later…
James Potter rolled over in bed, sweat covering his brow as he breathed heavily. He shot Hayley a cheeky but weary grin as she sighed in a satisfied manner and then he kissed her, her soft red lips tasting vaguely of strawberries as he rolled his tongue across them. She kissed him back, shifting slightly so her left leg moved over him and his grin became more mischievous as she dangled her curls over his cheeks.
“One more round?” James whispered as she leant in closer, her eyes never leaving his as their legs connected and their chests met with a light brush that soon became her resting on him. She glanced at the clock then swore, rolling him off urgently and refusing to acknowledge his face as it fell. Hayley hurriedly dressed and tied up her wild hair as James pulled on boxers and watched bemused as she crashed around, stumbling into the hall where she found herself face-to-face with an amused Lily Potter.
“Going somewhere Hayley?” Lily asked, smirking victoriously as James sank low into his bed, hoping the covers would hide his shame. “Or are you just desperate to get away from my brother? He has that effect on women you know!”
“Late for a bridesmaid meeting with Victoire!” Hayley explained, panicking as she spun on the spot. “We really need to find our own place soon, we can’t keep having your parents walk in on us!” she shouted to James as she apparated.
“One time that happened!” James shouted back as she vanished. “And dad was really cool about it! What are you looking at? Don’t you have to go to that bridesmaids meeting with her?” James turned on his sister, who was stood in his doorway, still looking too smug for his liking.
“It’s only the older ones,” Lily explained. “Seeing as how she’s got so many. I think it’s just Molly, Hayley, Dom and the Maid of Honour. And before you ask, we’re all under strict instruction not to talk about bridesmaids stuff to anyone that isn’t a bridesmaid or Victoire and Phlegm.”
“As if you still call her that!” James laughed. “Doesn’t mum have anything to say about that? And what about Vic and Teddy?”
“Mum came up with the name in the first place,” Lily snorted, sitting on the end of James’ bed as he endeavoured to find a shirt. “And as for Teddy, he’s perfectly fine with it as long as I don’t call her that when Victoire’s around. As much as we get on, I’m pretty sure insulting her mum in her presence isn’t considered politically correct.”
“Obviously,” James replied, rolling his eyes. “You’d think I’d have enough trouble on my hands organising this bloody wedding, but it seems like Ted is determined to do all the work and that of course, means I’m not only doing my job and helping him, but also cleaning up his messes before Victoire finds out.”
“One might think the whole wedding rested on your shoulders!” Lily replied sarcastically. “As apparently did the entire Appleby’s season according to you.”
“Well I did catch the snitch in the last game of the season, snatching us a European spot for the first time since 1958!” James pointed out.
“And the stupid amount of goals Hayley scored to get you there meant what exactly?” Lily teased as James shook his head.
“My point is,” James elaborated. “All you have to do is be a bridesmaid, I have to damn near make the wedding happen. Where are dad and mum?”
“They’re at the Burrow, discussing arrangements with the other adults,” Lily replied, standing up and heading for the door as James protested that he was in fact an adult. She wasn’t listening and shut the door, chuckling to herself as her brother fired expletives through the wooden door frame.
James was glad it was closed season. It had been a strenuous, but ultimately rewarding first year with the Appleby Arrows and he was glad to be able to enjoy his summer holiday with the rest of his family. He had seen Hayley virtually every minute of the last year so it was also nice to spend some time away from her, as much as he missed her when she wasn’t there. And whenever she wasn’t by his side, that’s where he wanted to be and so when he came across the shop when heading to meet Teddy and the wedding cake designer, he was stopped in his tracks. Surely he couldn’t… But why not? James shook his head and carried on walking…
The meeting was boring and Teddy must’ve sensed James’ growing frustration because he called an end to it early and took the younger boy out to lunch. James picked at his food, deep in thought and Teddy watched him carefully as he eventually nibbled his steak.
“Victoire said that Hayley looked a bit windswept at their meeting this morning,” Teddy said. “She reckons you two must’ve been interrupted again, is she right?”
“For Merlin’s sake Teddy,” James groaned. “That happened one time. Dad walked in, we were…you know and he left straight away, apologising profusely. He was fine with it. It just feels like we need a bit more space to stretch out and Hayley’s definitely not okay with spending half her mornings being eyed up by my parents after a long night’s…you know.”
“You know James,” Teddy smiled. “There is space in my new flat for another couple of people. Since the fire, Vic and I decided to move a bit upmarket and we were about to start advertising for another roommate or two, because we can’t afford the rent alone and it’s got two double bedrooms. You’ve been inside, what did you think of it?”
“Teddy…” James was shocked. “We can’t move in with you and Victoire! You’re newlyweds, you need your privacy, you need…”
“James,” Teddy interrupted. “We need someone to move into our flat and why invite a complete stranger in when my oldest friend and practical brother needs to get away from his parents with his first serious girlfriend?”
James opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, digesting the information before grinning like an idiot and pulling Teddy into a massive hug, and then glancing down at his meal, storming into it as Teddy laughed. James looked up and Teddy hurled him a set of keys.
“Move in as soon as you want!” Teddy reassured him.
James found himself living on cloud nine and as he passed the shop on the way back home, impulse overtook him and he stepped inside, immediately satisfied with what he saw. When he got back home, he hurried upstairs and began packing. Hayley was showering and when she came out, dripping wet and wrapped in a towel, James engulfed her, beaming stupidly as he told her the good news. Within the hour, she too had packed up her stuff, and then she headed back to her house to collect the possessions she hadn’t left at James’. The more James thought about it, the more right it felt. In many ways, he’d enjoyed finding hairspray and makeup cluttering his bedroom, but it had always been his bedroom, not their bedroom. Now, they were going to a place where it was their bedroom, where all their things were side by side, where there was no more trying to be outlandish on a relatively small bed. Hayley had spoken to her parents and they had consented. It took several hours for the pair to move all their belongings, the contents of both their bedrooms, minus all their unwanted rubbish, into the main hall at the Potters’ mansion and when James’ parents returned, he ended up explaining the situation once again.
“And you’re sure this is alright with Teddy?” Ginny asked for what seemed like the millionth time as James prepared to apparate.
“100%,” James laughed. “It was his idea for Merlin’s sake. Hayley and I will be out of your hair now mother, dad.”
“Just don’t do anything we wouldn’t approve of!” Harry shouted as he apparated, carrying as much of his gear as he could. Hayley shrugged before following suit. “That boy is growing up almost as fast as we had to!” Harry noted. “And that’s not a bad thing at all.”
James had been eyeing it up since the moment he had bought it. How? When? Where? All the questions had been toying with him in the month following his and Hayley’s move in with Teddy and Victoire. It had been a period of adjustment, but everything was going well and James was as in love with Hayley as he had ever been. She in turn, hadn’t changed a bit since the move and that made it feel more right than ever. James had a sneaking suspicion Teddy had dropped the invitation now because both he and Hayley had nothing to do about from the occasional workout to keep fit. They were both on a fairly tight fitness regime, but they both only kept to it as much as it bothered them. Magic made it easy to stay fit, as did the amount of exercise they had in the bedroom. And the fact that they were so available made sure that if anything wedding related needed doing, they were always on hand to help out.
It was one afternoon when the girls were out dress shopping when James showed it to Teddy. Teddy almost exploded and spoke for a long time and all this led them to the conclusion that James already knew. It would have to be that evening that he did it, before either of them was overwhelmed by the momentum of the relationship. Teddy grinned like an idiot throughout the entire day and when Hayley got back, she too was squealing and excited. She refused point blank to show James the dress she had and Victoire hid it away with a complicated bit of magic that James had no idea how to bypass. Despite his various attempts to charm and pout it out of her, she wouldn’t show him it and he pretended to sulk until she kissed him and then they moved off to their room, Teddy and Victoire rolling their eyes at them.
The kiss that started it all off had been nothing more than a service, a quick: “oh stop whining you arse and if I kiss you will you give in” kiss but James quickly developed it into more, his mouth using hers as a buffer as it twisted and turned, using all his various expertise to great effect as Hayley battled to keep up. It took all his self-control to keep her top on until they were in their bedroom, but once they were it was gone, lost in the depths of the clothing pile as she pressed her hands against his chest. He felt hard, strong in his upper torso and she pushed against it, feeling every contour, every rough motion across his smooth and yet solid muscle. James in turn had his hands on her delicate shoulders; for all her Quidditch playing she was still slender, feminine and utterly gorgeous. His mouth was lost amongst her neck, nipping and sucking on her tender flesh like a vampire eager to feed. She gasped as his head moved down, but his hands moved up, entangling themselves in her seemingly never-ending curls which amassed on top of her head in a loose bun. His teeth moved around the strap and her bra fell, but James was forced to recoil as her own lips moved against his shoulder blades. James’ hands slipped up and down her chest, enjoying every bump, every curve as her own hands were looping downwards. Then, with a slight shove, he was on top of her, they were both rapidly de-clothed and then she moaned as he found her and he let out an involuntary noise of his own as she pushed back, the two connecting as their eyes met.
“I love you so much!” Hayley whispered, their heads so close they were practically touching.
“Quite right too!” James laughed. “Now let’s cut to the chase.”
And Hayley squealed with delight and pain as he did just that.
James’ head was on her chest for a change. Usually when they were lying together, entangled relaxing in each other’s bodies with very few clothes on, Hayley had her head buried in James’ ribcage. This time, it was the other way round and he could see why she enjoyed it so much. Her hair was long enough to roll down his shoulder, which was almost halfway down her back and he toyed with the ends, occasionally chewing them as she giggled.
“Hayley,” James whispered. “I need you to do something for me. And this isn’t going to be easy for either of us so I need you to bear with me and think about all the good times we’ve had in the last year and even before that, all those times we had growing up. I want you to think of Fred, Toni, Nicky and Josh and what they’d say. And think of me, and what I’m asking you to do.”
“What is it Trouble-Maker?” Hayley sat up as he followed suit, his arm dangling into his jacket which was on the chair beside the bed. He turned back to her and she felt her breath catch in her throat. She was so stunned, so paralysed that she barely registered his next words. He was holding a box and in the box was a ring, a single diamond ring.
“Hayley, marry me.”
She punched him in the face.
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