Chapter 1 : Ava
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Seamus’s hands were shaking so violently that he had accidentally spilt coffee all over his brand new shirt.
“Bollocks,” he muttered to himself, carefully setting the china cup down on his bedside cabinet and unbuttoning the shirt with fumbling fingers, looking out the window and into the cloudless sky every so often.
Seamus was waiting for a letter: a letter which would make this beautiful summers day even better. But he had been sitting in his bedroom for over an hour and no owl had come zooming in through his window to deliver the words that would (hopefully) make Seamus’s heart pound even harder in his chest than it was already.
On second thoughts, maybe that wasn’t such a good thing. Surely it couldn’t be possible for a mere human heart to pump blood harder than Seamus’s was already? He didn’t want to have a heart attack and have to be carted off to St Mungos on the most important day of his life.
“Are you alright, mate?”
Without Seamus even noticing, Dean had walked into the room, and was leaning casually against the doorframe, wearing a long sleeved black t-shirt and ripped jeans.
Sometimes, usually when he and his best friend had had a falling out over something petty, Seamus wondered how Dean could possibly be so cool, calm and collected, even in the most frantic moments. Seamus on the other hand…well, if his education at Hogwarts had been any proof, things tended to blow up in his face. In the most literal sense possible.
Seamus took a deep breath, and shrugged the shirt off his shoulders. “Fine,” he said shortly, chucking the shirt on the bed and wandering over to his open wardrobe. There were crumpled clothes lying all around his bedroom floor-however these were all covered in stains and probably smelt like his Grandma Enid’s feet. Sometimes Seamus missed the luxuries of having the Hogwarts house elves cook, clean and do laundry for you. Being a grown up…well, to be fair it really sucked sometimes.
As he threw on a semi decent top, one that only had a small rip near the collar, Dean walked into the room and picked up the small box sitting next to the bed. He looked up at Seamus uncertainly. “Can I have a peek?”
Somewhat reluctantly, Seamus nodded. “Yeah, go for your life.” He watched as Dean carefully opened the lid of the box, somewhat distracted by the fact that his hands were sweating as much as a block of cheese left out in the sun. Why hadn’t the owl come yet? She only lived a few blocks away! What if she said no? Maybe she’d just moved on to bigger and better things…
“Mate,” said Dean quietly, handing the box to Seamus, who tucked it into the pocket of his jeans. “She is bloody lucky to have you. You know that right?”
Seamus nodded numbly as his best mate clapped him on the shoulder and walked out of the room, leaving him with nothing but the little box and his pounding heart for company as he waiting for a small shape to appear outside the window. And then…just like that, it did.
“Yes!” Seamus whooped, punching a fist in the air-he couldn’t help it. He raced over and yanked the window open. It groaned a little in protest. The apartment that Seamus and Dean shared just outside Diagon Alley was extremely old and almost everything in it was broken in some way. The first day they’d moved in, Seamus had gotten an awful surprise when his mirror told him to “Sharpen up, scruffy!” in a horrible, piercing voice, that reminded him rather too much of his mother for his liking. He’d gotten rid of that mirror, shortly after.
The small barn owl fluttered through the window and landed on the desk in front of it. It was so small that it was thrown off balance slightly, and skidded the whole length of the table, stopping at the very edge where it balanced precariously. Feeling as though he were about to faint, Seamus carefully untied the note that had been attached to the owl’s leg.
There were just five words written on the piece of parchment in a familiar, bubbly handwriting: Yes. Meet you in ten.
Clasping his hand over the small box in his pocket Seamus grabbed a jacket and stumbled out the door: heading for the new café in Diagon Alley: The Far Friar.
Seamus attempted to wipe his wet hands on his trousers as she opened the door of the café, waved cheerfully and hurried over to join him. Seamus admired her from afar, which he knew embarrassed her-but what could a guy do? Her dirty blonde hair was tied up in a loose ponytail and tendrils were climbing out of the hair tie and falling into her face. Her bright blue eyes were framed by thick lashes and dark eyebrows and she wore a baggy t-shirt, faded jeans and a pair of ripped converse sneakers.
One of the best things about Ava was that she didn’t know how beautiful she was. Seamus saw other girls flaunting their beauty for all it was worth-caking layers of make up onto their faces and wearing flashy heels and revealing dresses. But Ava was gorgeous without even trying.
“Hey, you,” she said, sitting down in the chair opposite, beaming the cheesy, goofball grin that Seamus had first fallen in love with. “What up, S Dawg?”
Despite his nervousness, Seamus chuckled. “Did you just go all gangster on me?”
The corners of Ava’s rosy lips were twitching. “Yes,” she said serenely. “Yes I did. So, what is this place anyway? I’ve never been here before.”
“That’s because it’s new. But I’ve been wanting to check it out for ages and who better to do it with than you? Anyway, a place that’s called The Far Friar must be good, right? Never trust a skinny cook.”
“Well, it’s got terrible service,” said Ava, craning her neck and looking around the café which was pretty crowded. An older man wearing glasses was reading a copy of The Daily Prophet over in the corner and there were several couples scattered about the place. Seamus couldn’t help but notice a girl and a boy who were snogging passionately-they looked like they were attempting to suck each others faces off. The sight of them made Seamus feel strangely urgent.
Just do it, he told himself firmly, better to get it over and done with. Then you’ll know.
“Finally!” said Ava loudly, as a slick haired waiter sauntered over. He had dark hair and several ear piercings. Seamus knew his type at once and vividly remembered the time he’d attempted to die his own hair black. The end result had not been good-Dean had laughed himself silly for days.
“Hey,” the waiter said, leaning up against the table and smiling at Ava with a look that made Seamus want to give him a nice, big punch on the nose. Nothing better than a good smack to say “Don’t you dare look at my girlfriend like that, you greasy git!” However, he managed to restrain himself. He must not stuff anything up. Not today. “What can I get you?”
Ava glanced at Seamus. “Just two coffees please,” she said pleasantly.
“But of course,” said the waiter in a deep, throaty voice. He took one more look at Ava before disappearing into the kitchens.
When he was gone, Ava leaned in towards Seamus and muttered; “He was hot!”
Seamus snorted. “He was not! He was ugly-did you see his nose? It was the size of Jupiter! And he is going to get serious ear infections if he doesn’t sort those ear piercings out.”
“Oh, come on,” grinned Ava playfully. “He was a little hot.” She laughed when Seamus glared at her, and his stomach began somersaulting, like he was still a teenager at Hogwarts. Her laugh reminded him of the water splashing down from the waterfall he and Ava had once visited. “But not as hot as you, of course.”
Seamus chucked. “Thanks.”
Now! He told himself firmly. Just do it now, you coward!
He pulled the little box slightly out of his jeans. “Ava,” he said slowly. “I…”
“OhmygoodnessIhavetotellyousomething!” she suddenly blurted out, very quickly. “Seamus, you will never guess what happened to me today!”
The box slipped slightly from his hands, back into the pocket of his jeans.
“I got the job!”
Seamus gaped at her. “What?” he asked stupidly, probably sounding like some sort of idiotic gorilla.
“The job!” Ava said enthusiastically, and so loudly that the elderly couple at the next table turned around in disapproval. “The one at the Magical Games and Sports Department. It’s official! I’m a Ministry employee!”
“Ava, that’s great!” said Seamus honestly. “Actually, I have some news too. I went out today and…”
“I’ve wanted that job for so long…” said Ava dreamily, leaning forwards on the table and cupping her chin with her hand. Seamus immediately noticed that her nails were chewed and bitten, and that the purple nail polish she wore was chipped. “And now I’ve got it! Apparently Oliver Wood is heading up the department. Did I tell you I had a childhood crush on him? Which could make things pre-tty awkward! Seamus? Seamus! Are you even listening?”
Seamus mentally shook himself. “Of course I’m listening! You have no idea how proud I am of you. Of course, you make my bartending job look pretty damn pathetic…”
“Nothing you do is pathetic,” said Ava sternly. “And as long as you continue giving me free Firewhiskeys every time I stop by the Leaky Cauldron…”
She continued chattering away, eyes shining, making flamboyant hand gestures every so often. Sometimes she talked so much that Seamus found it hard to get a word in. He didn’t mind-he’d always been a better listener, anyway. And he liked watching her lips move-liked watching her entire face light up as she laughed. But now…now was the time for him to get his two sickles in. It was now or never.
“Ava!” he said loudly, and the beautiful girl in front of him halted her speech, a small crease appearing between her eyebrows.
“I have something to ask you,” said Seamus slowly, well aware that his whole body had started to shake again. Cool, calm and collected, he told himself. Like Dean. “It’s…it’s really important.”
Seamus’s fingers reached for the small box again. “Ava Fitzpatrick,” he said. “Will…”
“Here you go lovely,” the pierced waiter had returned, and was sliding a cup of steaming coffee at Ava. “And this one must be for your little boyfriend.”
“Yes, thank you,” said Seamus irritably, glaring up at the stupid waiter. Jesus! Did the twat not realise he’d just walked in on a very important moment?
Ava took a sip of her coffee but Seamus just sat with his arms crossed over his chest, waiting for the moronic man to go away. But he just stayed there, like an incessant fly buzzing about and eating its own poop. “Can I help you?” Seamus finally asked angrily. He’d never been able to control his temper very well. And sometimes it got him in a lot of trouble.
“Just waiting to see if you need anything else,” the waiter said, smiling at Ava with a look that clearly said; “I’m open for business: call me and I’ll lay one on you. Any time, anywhere.” Or maybe Seamus was just reading things into it.
“No, we’re fine thank you,” said Ava sweetly.
“So…BUGGER OFF!” finished Seamus, with relish.
He was pleased to see the fly-like waiter looked quite offended as he skulked off to take the orders of yet another couple that had just walked it.
Just do it…
“You’re very rude sometimes, you know that right?” teased Ava, taking another sip of coffee. “This coffee is delicious by the way-you should try yours Seamus, before it gets cold.”
Partly to gather his thoughts, Seamus flashed her a grin and lifted the cup to his mouth, giving a tentative sniff. Ava was the one that had cottoned him on to drinking coffee. Before Ava, he’d always asserted that coffee was a woman’s drink-that real men drank Firewhiskey and beer. He took a large sip. The drink was so hot that it scalded his throat and his eyes began to tear. Coughing and spluttering like a complete idiot, he momentarily lost the thread of conversation. When his mouth had stopped burning, Ava was talking at full speed again.
“…I was never a fan of Madam Puddifoot’s-all those disgustingly romantic couples, snogging each other like their lives depended on it! I mean, I love a good snog-but that place just made me uncomfortable…”
“Ava,” said Seamus, but she didn’t seem to hear him.
“…and it was so pink! I hate the colour pink! I’m more an orange kind of girl-and did you know colours have different meanings? It’s some sort of spiritual thing. I was thinking of getting into it actually…”
“…you know, astrology and that sort of stuff. I know it’s supposed to be a load of crap but…”
“FOR MERLINS SAKE AVA, WILL YOU MARRY ME!?”
Seamus felt his face reddening as Ava trailed off uncertainly and an unnatural hush fell over the café. It seemed as though everyone had turned around to look at him. The waiter who’d brought them their coffee was staring unashamedly with his mouth hanging wide open.
He hadn’t meant for the words to come out like that.
There was meant to be a moment. A moment when Ava looked at him lovingly, and he got down onto his knees and proposed to her. It was meant to be perfect.
The minutes seemed to stretch into years as Ava just sat staring at him. Seamus’s heart was pounding so hard in his chest, he felt like it was about to break into a tiny million little pieces; pieces that could never be repaired.
Slowly, everything was becoming a reality.
He was an idiot, an idiot for asking her, in a stupid café of all places. Of course she didn’t want to marry him! She was now a successful Ministry official with her own apartment. She was beautiful, she was intelligent, and she was funny. What did he have? A dead-end bartending job and a grungy old flat which he lived in with his best mate.
What girl would want to marry him?
“What?” she whispered finally. Not the answer Seamus had been hoping for. But…there was no turning back now.
His whole body trembling, he slid the little box out of his pocket, pushed his chair away and kneeled in front of Ava, whose eyes were wider than galleons. Taking a deep breath, he opened the box, revealing a beautiful diamond ring.
A ring that had cost almost all of his life savings.
A ring that was worth three times as much as the flat he lived in.
A ring he couldn’t afford.
But the ring that he had to give the girl he loved.
“Ava Fitzpatrick,” he said for a second time, in a very shaky voice. “Will you marry me?”
He was alarmed to see that she was crying. A single tear was dribbling out of her bright blue eyes, and all he wanted to do was reach up, touch her warm skin with his thumb, and wipe it away.
“Yes,” she said, in a voice that shook almost as much as his. “Yes, Seamus. I would love to marry you.”
Seamus stared at her, not quite registering what she had said. Surely…she couldn’t possibly…?
“Are…are you sure?” he asked, his voice cracking halfway though the sentence.
Ava gave a watery laugh. “Of course I’m sure! Now hurry up and put that ring on my finger before I change my mind!”
He was laughing now-whether out of relief, joy, shock, confusion or delight he could not tell. Maybe it was a combination of them all.
Ava-his fiancée-held out her hand with the bitten, chewed nails and the chipped nail polish, and Seamus gently slid the diamond ring onto her slim finger.
It was a perfect fit.
For a few moments he admired it-the way it glittered in the light; the way that diamond sparkled.
He ran a hand through his hair which he’d forgotten to brush-though that hardly seemed to matter now-and got to his feet. Ava jumped up from her chair and threw her arms around his neck. “I love you so much,” Seamus murmured into her shoulder. She smelt of strawberries and chocolate and flowers and all of his other favourite scents.
Ava put her hand on his cheek and pressed her lips against his. The soft touch of her mouth on his was all that connected them, but Seamus felt immediately that Ava was all he ever wanted-all he needed. His arms circled her waist and he drew her nearer, pressing his lips more firmly against hers.
That ring-that diamond ring had just made Seamus the happiest man in the world.
He had no regrets. Only a burning love.
So...I hope this wasn't too dreadfully cheesy! If it was, well...I'm a bit of a cheeseball, what can I say?
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