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Chapter 11 : I Love You
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Matt pulled out my chair for me and waited until I was seated to sit down himself. He ordered a bottle of wine from the maitre d' and then we were alone.
“So how did you find this place?” I asked. It was in Chelsea, surrounded by other posh stores and restaurants.
“Dillan, of course,” Matt said, grinning. “He hasn't lead me astray yet.”
“I don't even know what half this stuff is,” I said, taking a look at the menu.
“I was going to take you to a steak house, but then I remembered your feelings on steak.”
I shrugged. “I still don't understand why people think it's weird. Hamburgers and steak are completely different things.”
Matt laughed. “Whatever you say. I'm getting a steak.”
“I'll get pasta,” I said, glancing at the pasta section.
A waiter returned with our wine and poured a sample for Matt to try. He nodded in acceptance and the waiter poured us each a glass, then set the bottle in a wine stand next to the table. We placed our orders and the waiter left.
“You look beautiful tonight,” Matt said.
I blushed. He'd already told me this twice. “Thanks.” I took a sip of wine.
“None of your cousins seemed to notice us together at the Rusty Bludger the other night,” Matt said. “I mean, besides Hugo, Rose, and Albus.”
“I think it's because we were there in a group,” I said. “Dillan didn't seem to notice us either.”
“He was pretty busy,” Matt pointed out. “And Amy wasn't there.”
“We should hang out with them sometime,” I suggested.
Matt laughed. “Good luck finding a time. I swear, Lucy's going to grow up thinking mine and Amy's parents are her parents.”
“You don't think they spend enough time with her?”
Matt shrugged. “It's just weird, you know? They love her, I mean, that much is very obvious, and when they are with her they're 100% with her, if you get what I mean. But it's just not very often. My mum stayed home with me and Amy when we were little, so I'm used to that. I never thought Amy would do that, but I thought once she had Lucy she would ease up on work a bit.”
“My mum stayed home with my brothers and I, too. She still worked, but she wrote articles for the Prophet so it was easy to do at home.”
“Amy definitely can't work from home,” Matt said.
“Do you ever babysit?”
“All the time. Do you want to come with me next time?”
“Just one baby?” I asked. “I'll definitely go. I haven't babysat for only one kid in ages.”
“Lucy is the easiest kid, too,” Matt added. “She only throws tantrums when she's tired.”
“None of Hugo's kids are easy,” I muttered. “I love them, of course, but they're a handful.”
“Better or worse than Remus and Henri?”
I groaned. “Worse, because there are more of them. If Victoire and Teddy had more than Remus and Henri, I'm not sure which would be worse. And they've got Sophie to off-set the twins.”
“Lucy is like Sophie was at two. I swear they could be related, except they don't look alike. Lucy looks just like Amy, though. Her hair was so blonde when she was born we all thought it was white.”
“And Sophie's darker. She looks a lot like Teddy's mum, except her hair is a lighter.”
“Speaking of Sophie, Amy invited me to a family dinner at the end of August before she goes back to Hogwarts. Do you want to come?”
That was a month away. He was planning so far in advance! “I'd love to.”
“It might be the first time you get to hang out with Amy.”
I laughed just as the waiter brought salads and bread. I took a few slices and set them on my salad plate. It was always my habit to eat more bread than salad.
“You should meet my parents, too,” Matt said.
I nearly choked on my bread. It wasn't that I didn't like meeting my boyfriends' parents. Quite the opposite, actually; I loved meeting parents. I know, I know, that's very weird, but it's true. Parents usually like me and most of the time they cross their fingers that the relationship works out because they think I'm “good” for their sons.
But I haven't been asked to meet one of my boyfriends' parents in years because of what they've been hiding from me. Sean certainly never had me meet his parents because that would've blown his lie apart. That was probably another sign I should've picked up on. Eight months was a pretty long time to go out with someone without meeting their parents.
“You okay?” Matt asked, clearly worried. “If it's too soon-”
I coughed. “No, no, it's not that. I just wasn't expecting it. I'd love to meet your parents. I'd say you could meet mine, but you already have. You can come over for Sunday dinner sometime, though. I'm sure they'd love to have you there.”
“Sounds good,” Matt said. “How about next Sunday at my parents' and the one after at yours?”
“Works for me,” I agreed. Mum and Dad never care if Al, James, and I give advance notice about coming over for dinner, but they did appreciate a heads up if we were bringing a new significant other. This would give me plenty of time to tell them I'd started dating Matt.
We ate our salads quietly, stealing glances at each other every so often. By the time we polished them, and the bread, off, our main dishes had arrived. Matt's steak was disgustingly rare, so I tried not to look at it as I ate my pasta, which was amazing.
As we finished, the discussion moved toward speculation of what Albus did on his previous mission. This was a favorite pastime of James and I, and apparently Matt and Becca did the same whenever she was home while Albus wasn't.
“Minister of Egypt's bodyguard,” Matt suggested as we perused the dessert menu.
I shook my head. “Nahh. Chasing after a bloke riding a dragon who robbed banks in China, India, and Japan.”
“Why do we even bother looking at the dessert menu?” Matt asked as he set it down. “We always get whatever has the most chocolate.”
I laughed. “Fair point. Do you think Albus will ever settle down and get a normal job?”
“I don't know,” Matt said. He paused while the waiter came over to take our dessert order. After he left, Matt continued. “He really loves it. Never complains, despite the exhaustion. I wouldn't be able to handle it.”
“Me either,” I agreed. “But he and Becca are going to have to settle down eventually.”
“She doesn't seem to want to, either, so who knows?”
“My parents want him to settle down, mostly because James and I are 'unlikely to produce any grandchildren due to our dysfunctional relationships with members of the opposite sex.'” I said.
Matt didn't say anything and I suddenly realized how stupid that was of me to say. Did that really just come out of my mouth? I felt my cheeks turn red and suddenly feigned interest in my wine glass.
Then Matt burst out laughing. I looked up, still blushing furiously, and saw him grinning.
“I'm sorry,” I said. “That was really-”
“No, don't apologize,” he said, still laughing. “Who said that? Your mum? Doesn't sound like something you would say.”
“Nana Molly,” I confessed. “She'd had a few too many eggnogs on Christmas Eve last year and let it slip. What's so funny?”
“It sounds like something Cinda would've said,” Matt mused. “She did say things quite similar, proclaiming how Amy and I, Amy mostly, would never get married and never give Mum and Dad grandchildren. I suppose Cinda and Molly do have something in common.”
“Guess so,” I said, still vaguely uncomfortable that I'd mentioned to Matt that I was incapable of having a functional relationship with a bloke. Clearly that wasn't true anymore because Matt and my relationship seemed fine. Of course, so had mine and Sean's one month in.... I quickly pushed that thought out of my mind.
“I think you're a bit better than James,” Matt pointed out. “We've made it a month and I'm loving it.” He leaned across the table and we kissed over our empty plates.
I blushed again. “I agree. In the meantime, my parents can borrow grandchildren from Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron. They've certainly got enough to share.”
Matt laughed. “That they do.”
Our massive chocolate mousse cake arrived and we devoured it in silence. Not awkward silence, because Matt and I both took our chocolate consumption seriously. It was good silence.
The night was still relatively early when we finished and I had a light buzz from the wine, enough of a buzz that I wasn't really worried about what would happen next. I'd take it as it came. I'd go with the flow.
We decided to take advantage of the nice part of London we were in and walk around for a bit. I didn't pay much attention to the scenery, instead focusing on Matt, and how nice his hair looked under the light of the waning moon.
“The moon is beautiful tonight, don't you think?” I said as we veered to the left to avoid a bicyclist.
“Mmm-hmm,” Matt agreed. “We should find somewhere else to go before we get hit by a random bike.”
“Do you want to go back to my place?” I suggested, my heart beating fast.
Matt was quiet for a few moments. “Okay. Yeah, that sounds nice.”
I tried not to grin too widely as we walked arm in arm to the nearest alley in order to apparate. We held hands as we apparated, which probably isn't the safest thing to do since neither of us was side-apparating the other, but whatever. A few seconds later we appeared in front of my flat building.
We continued holding hands as we went upstairs and into my flat, me sticking my leg out instinctively to keep Sir Thumbs from running away. He hissed at me in protest and slunk off to the kitchen for a snack. I followed him and refilled his bowl before grabbing two beers from the fridge.
When I returned to the living room Matt had already taken off his suit jacket and was sitting on the couch, looking as sexy as ever. My heart fluttered as I sat down and handed him his beer, leaning against him in the process.
Matt took one sip of his beer before putting his arms around me and kissing me. Thrilled, I deepened the kiss and we fell back onto the couch on top of each other. Matt's hands got lost in my mass of hair and mine crept up under his shirt.
“Are you sure?” Matt asked, pulling away for a moment. “I don't want to pressure you.”
“I'm sure,” I said, pressing my lips to his again.
“Should we go to the bedroom?” he asked breathlessly a few minutes later.
I shook my head. “Here is good for me.”
All talking ceased. Our beers sat ignored on the coffee table.
I woke up alongside Matt in my bed, sunlight streaming through the window. I smiled to myself and rolled over, facing his back. It was decorated with hundreds of faint, white scars, some no longer than half my pinky and others as long as my entire hand. The largest was lower down, just above his right hip. It was red, yet it seemed like it'd been there for years, and jagged. I hadn't noticed them last night. I wondered where they came from as I drew a hippogriff over them with my finger. Matt didn't wake up, so I started tracing the scars.
Matt stirred when I was nearly out of scars to trace. He rolled over to face me, a puppy-like smile on his face. “Hi,” he said.
“Hi,” I replied.
“Have you been up for long?”
“No,” I said, shaking my head. I wasn't sure whether to ask about the scars. For some reason I had a weird feeling about them, like he wouldn't tell me even if I asked. “I was watching you sleep.”
“Sorry,” he said. “I can sleep through anything.”
“Don't worry about it.” I gave him a quick kiss. “Are you busy today?”
“Yes,” Matt said. My heart sank. “I actually plan to spend the day with this beautiful woman. You'd like her. She's got red hair and she's a bit sarcastic and slightly cynical, but she's pretty fun.”
I laughed. “Very funny. So, what do you have planned?”
“A picnic at Kensington Park,” Matt said as he got out of bed. “Have you ever been there?”
“Not in ages,” I said. “Mum used to take James, Al, and I there when we were little. James always wanted to climb the Peter Pan statue. We stopped going after he accidentally broke the tip of one of the rabbit's ears off.”
“James did that?” Matt exclaimed.
I nodded and stood up. “Apparently she turned away from him for a minute because I was chasing a pigeon and she had to run after me. When she returned to the statue, me in tow, James was holding the ear and Albus was shouting 'James broke the statue!'”
“Your mum had her hands full,” Matt commented, putting on a shirt. “What did she do?”
“Took a quick glance around to make sure no Muggles were watching and fixed it with a reparo.”
“And she didn't get in trouble with the Ministry?”
“There are a few benefits to being married to Harry Potter,” I pointed out.
Matt laughed shook his head. “I can't believe Albus never told me that.”
“Later that day he wound up with a concussion from falling off his broom my aunt Hermione and uncle Ron's house, so he probably doesn't even remember it.”
“Never a dull moment when you were a kid, was there?”
“Nope, not at all.”
An hour later Matt and I were on our way. We were halfway down Diagon Alley when I realized Matt didn't have any picnic supplies.
“Um, Matt, what are we doing for food?” I asked. After all, I am half Weasley. Food is always the first thing on my mind.
“That's why we're stopping here first,” Matt said as he walked toward the Rusty Bludger. “I asked Dillan to make us something.”
“You're so prepared!”
The pub was practically empty, which wasn't surprising since it was just after two in the afternoon on a Sunday. As far as I knew, they didn't even open until two on Sundays. Only one booth and two barstools were occupied. When we stepped further inside I realized the booth was taken up by Amy, a stack of charts, half a dozen books, a few coloring books, a bucket of crayons, and a blonde, curly-haired little girl who could only be Lucy.
“Amy!” Matt shouted as we walked over. “Didn't realize you'd be here.”
“Neither did I,” Amy said, looking up from her charts. “Dillan convinced me to work here until the pub gets crowded.”
“Daddy pub,” Lucy said, a big grin on her face. “Uncle Matt!”
“Hi, Luce,” Matt said, bending down to give her a hug. “Lucy, this is my friend, Lily.”
“Lily,” Lucy said as she held up a purple crayon. “Lily color?”
I laughed. “Maybe another time, Lucy.”
“I hear you two are going to Kensington Park,” Amy said.
“Lucy color Mummy work?” Lucy asked.
“Yes, honey,” Amy said absentmindedly. “Mummy works and Lucy colors.”
“Lucy color Mummy work,” Lucy said again as she reached over and drew a long purple line on one of Amy's potions books.
“Oh, Lucy!” Amy exclaimed. “Honey, you color in your coloring books. See? Color the hippogriff.” Amy pointed to a cartoonish hippogriff in Lucy's coloring book. She picked up her wand and vanished the purple line from the textbook. “Anyway, Kensington Park?”
“Yup,” Matt said.
“Well, you two have fun,” Amy said, smiling, a mischievous glint in her eyes.
Matt blushed. “Amy...just leave it.”
“Oh, come on,” she said. “You have to let me enjoy this. You haven't had a serious girlfriend in years.”
Matt blushed even harder and I tried to stifle my laughter. “Shut up, Amy,” he muttered.
“One picnic basket!” Dillan announced as he walked in from the kitchen. I could sense Matt's relief.
“Thanks,” Matt said as he took the basket. “See you guys later.”
“I like your sister,” I said as soon as we were outside. “I wish I had an older sister. Although I suppose I've got enough cousins to make up for it.”
“Yeah, she's pretty awesome,” Matt said. “She drives me nuts, but...she's...done a lot for me over the years.”
I glanced at him. Two minutes ago he'd been excited about the picnic but suddenly he seemed very serious, as if there was some sort of ghost behind his eyes. I decided to change the subject and not press it. But what had Amy done for him?
“So, what's in the basket?” I asked.
Matt smiled and looked in the basket. “Cheese, baguettes, grapes, chocolate, and wine.”
“Fancy!” I said. “Shall we?”
“Yes,” Matt said, taking my hand. We walked in between two shops and disapparted.
The closest apparition point to the park was a few blocks away, but it didn't take long to walk from there to the park. The park itself was crowded, but we managed to find a somewhat secluded part under a tree in order to eat our picnic.
“We have to go see the statue after this,” I said in between grapes. “I'm going to have to ask Albus if he remembers James breaking it when he gets back from his mission.” Albus had left on another mission the previous day.
“Definitely. Do you remember which rabbit he broke?”
“Sadly, no,” I said.
“Too bad. I still can't believe he did that.”
“Get to know James and it won't surprise you,” I said.
“So,” Matt said tentatively, pausing to take a bite of bread. “What exactly did your nana mean when she said you haven't ever been in a functional relationship?”
I blushed. I'd been hoping he would forget about this. I could tell by his hesitation and lack of eye contact that he wasn't sure about asking, but that it had been bugging him since last night.
“Every single one of my past boyfriends have been...well...for lack of a better term, arseholes.”
Matt raised an eyebrow. “Explain.”
“Sean, the most recent one, spent the entirety of our relationship pretending to be his brother. Caleb was married and never told me. Jackson sold dodgy cauldrons on the black market in Diagon Alley. Alec's 'business trips' were actually trips to France to visit his other girlfriend. Shall I go on?” I decided not to tell him about the brothers. They didn't count since neither of them was ever officially my boyfriend.
Matt's eyes were as large as owl eyes. “How many others are there?”
I thought back and counted. I suppose it depended on one's definition of 'boyfriend.' Personally, I didn't count one-night stands or dates that didn't go further than the second date. This conversation had come up with nearly all of my past boyfriends, though, and the number hadn't scared anyone off yet. “Including Hogwarts or not?”
“Not,” Matt said. “Wait, how many were at Hogwarts?”
I laughed. “Only two. After Hogwarts there were eight.”
“Eight?” Matt exclaimed.
“Hey, that's not even one per year,” I pointed out, not mentioning that I'd left out the one-night stands. “What about you? With those eyes I'm sure you've had at least as many.”
“Ha,” Matt said. “You're funny. If I'd had that many girlfriends before you Amy wouldn't have been nearly as excited about us going on a picnic. There were two, if you must know.”
Only two? I thought. Rose certainly didn't exaggerate.
“Don't look so surprised,” Matt said. “I am pretty short.”
“You're not that short.”
Matt gave a wry smile. “Come on, Lily. I'm 5'4” and I'm a bloke.”
“Are your parents that short?” I asked. “Amy's pretty average.”
Matt shook his head. “My parents are tall. Mum is Amy's height and Dad's six foot. So is my uncle Jack. I was two months premature. A lot of preemies never catch up.”
“Two months?” I said. “Wow.”
“It doesn't bother me, though.”
His lack of eye contact and the way he was picking at the chunk of bread in his hand told me otherwise.
“For the record, I don't care that you're short. You're the perfect height for me to gaze into your weird colored eyes.” I leaned over and kissed him.
Matt smiled. “Thanks, Lily. And you're the perfect height so that people don't give us weird looks when we're in public.”
I laughed and tossed the leftover food into the basket. “Come on, let's go see the statue James broke.”
We stood up and Matt grabbed the basket. I tossed the blanket in. Matt took my hand in his and we set off down the path.
“I love you, Lily Potter,” Matt said pausing in front of a small fountain.
My heart soared and I felt warm all over. I leaned in and kissed him. “I love you, too, Matt Eckerton.”
A/N: Thanks for all the lovely reviews! Peter Pan belongs to the wonderful J.M. Barrie.
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