Chapter 16 : A Proposal
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After Teddy's explanation of the eyes of werewolves at the Annual August Weasley Gathering I managed to fake my way through the evening as if I hadn't just gotten a huge clue about my boyfriend's secret life. It must've worked pretty well because no one, not even Matt, suspected a thing. I even managed to spend the next week hiding my suspicions all while gathering evidence.
While Bradley worked on investigating for clients, I worked on investigating Matt's possible lycanthropy. While I definitely wouldn't have Bradley investigate Matt, I had no qualms about investigating him myself, using the skills I picked up from working with Bradley all these years.
I sighed as I stared at my list of clues. To be honest I wasn't sure if they were all clues or if I was just paranoid because of my past relationships. Could that also be the reason I was jumping to lycanthropy of all things? Werewolves were rare, and I already had one lycanthropic cousin and and an uncle with wolfish tendencies. Plus there was Teddy, and he had wolfish tendencies as well. What were the chances of my boyfriend being a werewolf?
Then again, what were the chances of me being the daughter of the most famous wizard since Dumbledore?
My list of clues was getting long. The scars were at the top of the list, of course, and I'd underlined them. Below that I'd listed his golden eyes, the fact that he never talked about his childhood in Australia, how he was ill all the time (and specifically how he didn't want me around when he was ill), how he was Sophie's godfather (thus giving Sophie an adult with lycanthropy to look up to), and the fact that he and Amy were so close (because she is the leading lycanthropy researcher in the United Kingdom, or possibly the world).
The last one was the one that really gave me pause for thought. I distinctly remembered Matt telling me how he owes Amy a lot back when we first started dating. He got really quiet afterward and didn't elaborate. If there's one thing I know a lot about it's brother-sister relationships and I don't feel I owe any of my brothers anything. We're there for each other like siblings always are, but that's it. None of them have saved my life or anything.
But if Amy had discovered or created something that drastically changed Matt's life for the better, now that would explain their relationship. With that in mind, I went to the library over my lunch break to find a book about Amy's discoveries. Apparently someone had written one entirely on developments in lycanthropy research in the 21st century. I checked it out and headed back to work.
Given the fact that I am normally a model employee with a near perfect record, I did not feel at all guilty about spending the afternoon reading the book. Bradley didn't even notice since he was out of the office.
I skimmed through a lot of the medical descriptions and was thus able to read most of the book before I left work. The bottom line of it was that Amy discovered a new strain of lycanthropy (which I knew, because she discovered it with Rose) and that strain developed in Australia (another hint, as Matt used to live there). But then Amy discovered a new version of the Wolfsbane potion for werewolves with that particular strain, since regular Wolfsbane doesn't work for them.
My first thought was that everything Amy did was incredibly impressive and the fact that she did it all before she turned 32 was just insane. Clearly I was doing nothing with my life. My second thought was that this new information only solidified my theories.
But what should I do with the information? For Bradley it was easy. He gathered information and presented it to his clients, but didn't have to do anything active with it. That was for his clients to decide. Whether they actually used the information or not, Bradley got paid.
This, however, was my life. I'd gathered the information, organized it, and presented it to myself. I was my own private investigator and now I had to decide what to do with the information.
When it came down to it, there were two options. Option one was to confront Matt, which could go poorly for a variety of reasons. Option two was to do nothing and hope one day Matt would feel comfortable enough to confide in me. There could be problems with this as well. The question was, which one would cause the fewest problems?
If I confronted him and it turns out he isn't a werewolf, would he be offended? That would introduce all sorts of conflict into our relationship, which at the moment, was pretty good. But if he is a werewolf, would he even admit it if I confronted him about it? Or would he deny it out of fear?
Would I even be able to keep my mouth shut if I decided to go with option two? Everyone knew I didn't have the greatest track record with keeping quiet when needed.
What I needed was just a shred more proof. Something. Anything. Some sort of solid evidence I could present Matt with just in case he decided to deny it. And if even after presenting him with such evidence he still denied it, well, then maybe I hadn't finally found a great guy after all.
Gathering more evidence proved to be more difficult than I originally thought. By Friday I still hadn't found anything, and so I did what I always do when at a loss. I went to see Rose.
My Friday night plans included meeting Rose and her boyfriend, Kyle, as well as James and Matt at the Rusty Bludger. James and I planned on staying there until we heard from Albus, who was supposed to be proposing to Becca. She'd returned home earlier in the day and Albus wanted to do it as soon as possible in case he got called on a mission.
But I snuck out of work early in order to catch up with Rose at St. Mungo's to talk to her privately before meeting everyone at the pub. Unfortunately she was with a patient when I arrived so I had to wait for about a half hour.
As soon as the patient left I ran in, before she even had a chance to close her door.
“Lily?” she asked, surprised.
“Hi,” I said as I shut the door.
“What are you doing here?”
“I need to talk,” I said, sitting down in one of the chairs.
“You must be desperate if you came here. I know how much you dislike Mungo's.” Rose laughed as she returned to her desk.
I nodded. “Yeah, pretty desperate. And I didn't want to talk about it at the pub with all the guys around.”
Rose's eyes grew large. “Lily, you're not preg-”
“No!” I exclaimed. “I am not pregnant.”
“Sorry,” Rose said. “You're just being so secretive and you seem very nervous.”
“Do I?” There were some plusses to having a psychiatrist for a cousin, but there were also negatives. This was one of them. She could always tell when I was nervous.
“Well, spill it. I have a patient coming in in twenty minutes.”
I stood up and began to pace the room. It was a habit I'd picked up from my dad over the years.
“You look like Albus when you pace,” Rose commented.
I ignored the comment. “I've figured something out about Matt. Or at least I think I have.”
Rose raised her eyebrows, but revealed nothing. I'd had a fleeting hope that Rose would reveal something in her facial expressions when I brought this up, but she was Rose, so I don't know why I'd even entertained the thought.
“And I know you can't tell me anything, but I don't know what to do.”
“Okay, just tell me.”
“Lycanthropy. I think he's a werewolf,” I said quietly, finally sitting down.
Rose nodded. “I see.”
“He and Sophie have the same eyes. That's what prompted all of this. I talked to Teddy and he told me werewolves with light colored eyes have golden flecks in them that make their eyes look gold. I guess werewolves with brown eyes do, too, but it's not as noticeable.”
“That's true,” Rose said. She was using her healer voice, which meant I wasn't going to get any information out of her.
I sighed. “I just wish I had something more solid, you know? Some sort of absolute proof.”
“That would be hard to find.”
“Seriously. But I guess I just need advice on what to do. Should I ask him about it? Tell him all of this?”
“Okay, that I can sort of help you with,” Rose said.
“Thank God,” I muttered. “What if I tell him and it turns out he isn't a werewolf?”
“That you don't need to worry about,” Rose said.
I stared at her. Her expression hadn't changed, but it sounded like she revealed that he is a werewolf.
“No, I'm not confirming that he's a werewolf,” Rose said, smirking. “I know that look. I'm just saying that you won't offend him if he isn't one. His sister researches werewolves and he works in the Werewolf Control Unit.”
I groaned and put my head in my hands. “I'd forgotten about that. That's so weird.”
“Point is, you won't offend him.”
I lifted my head up. “Good. So you think I should confront him?”
“I think you should do what's right for your relationship,” Rose said quietly. “First think about this. If he is a werewolf, would that change the way you feel about him? Bottom line, would you break up with him over it?”
“Of course not,” I said immediately. And I meant it. My own cousin was a werewolf and I didn't treat her any differently than I treated my other cousins. Lycanthropy was a disease, not a reason to discriminate against someone.
Rose smiled. “Good. Second, is it going to eat away at you so much that you'll blurt it out at a bad time?”
Would I? My first instinct was to say 'no,' but was that strictly true? I had to be honest with myself. “It might.”
“Then you need to think of a good way to bring it up,” Rose said quietly. “And I think you have your answer.”
I nodded. I supposed I did. But I was still unsettled about the amount of evidence I'd gathered. I was Bradley's secretary, after all, and Bradley didn't consider a job done until he'd exhausted all options and found all the information possible.
“I think I'm going to wait until after the next full moon,” I said. “I've only been with him for two full moons. I looked it up. But he was ill for both. I just think a third will make me feel better.”
“No harm in that,” Rose said as she checked her watch. “My next patient is going to be here in two minutes. But I'll see you later at the pub.”
I got up. “Thanks, Rose.”
“No problem, Lily.”
As usual, I felt ten times better after talking with Rose. Between our talk and my newly created plan for dealing with the possible lycanthropy, I felt relatively calm, and I returned to my flat to read before going to the pub.
The Rusty Bludger was already packed by the time I arrived a few hours later. Every table and all the barstools were filled, as was the back room. Much of the floor space was taken as well. I squeezed my way through the crowd until I reached the bar, where a pock-faced kid was tending. I waited a good five minutes for my beer and then wandered until I found James, who'd been instructed to arrive early in order to snag a table.
James's table was in the back room and I had to dodge a few pool players in order to reach it. He was the only one there so far and was earning quite a few glares from others who wanted the table.
“Good, you're here,” James said. “Maybe now those blokes will stop cursing me under their breath.”
I laughed as I sidled into the booth. “Heard from Al?”
“He Flooed me at the shop earlier. Said they had seven o'clock dinner reservations and that they'd try to stop by here after the proposal, assuming it goes well.”
It was nearly eight now. “They probably won't stop by until at least ten.”
James nodded. “We must be patient, Lily.”
I gave him a withering look. “Neither of us are patient. That's generally one of our biggest problems.”
“How did we get stuck with all the bad genes?” James asked. “Al got all the good ones.”
“We're the outgoing ones,” I pointed out.
“Then why is he the one proposing right now?”
I shrugged. “Beats me.”
I looked up and saw Matt, holding the same beer I had. I grinned and slid over. He greeted me with a kiss and said hello to James.
“What do you two look so depressed about?” Matt asked.
“Al's proposal,” James muttered. “We're listing our faults.”
“Lily has no faults,” Matt said.
“Oh, shut it,” I replied. “We've been going out for two and a half months. You can stop that.”
Matt shrugged. “Nothing wrong with a bit of flattery.”
“I'll list your faults for you,” James put in. “You're impatient, impulsive, oblivious to your surroundings, you've got an awful memory, you can't keep a secret-”
“Shut up,” I said, “and you basically just described yourself.”
“I have an excellent memory and I can keep secrets.”
“But you're also loud and obnoxious,” I pointed out.
“Oh, give it a rest, both of you,” Matt interrupted. “I feel like I'm in the middle of a Remus and Henri argument. So what do you think Albus and Becca are doing right now?”
Talk of Albus and Becca took us through our first drinks and by that point Rose and Kyle finally arrived, so we had to stop.
I really like Kyle. He and Rose have been going out for two years, but haven't moved in together yet. Kyle is a Healer as well and works on the Spell Damage floor, which is how they met. He's very tall, dark, and handsome, with closely cut pitch black hair and deep brown eyes. Pretty much the opposite of Matt, actually.
“Sorry,” Rose said as she slid into the booth. “My last patient ran way over time.”
“So the usual,” I said, laughing. “You two are always the last ones here.”
“Comes with the job,” Kyle said, shrugging.
“Have you met Matt?” I asked Kyle.
Kyle nodded. “Yeah.”
“I've been Rose's friend for a while,” Matt said, laughing.
“Oh, right,” I said. Two months and I still hadn't fully gotten used to that.
“Anyone up for a round of darts?” Kyle asked. “Dart board is actually free.”
We jumped at the chance. The dart board was so rarely free. I'm terrible at darts, but Rose, James, and Kyle are pretty good.
“I'm awful at darts,” Matt said as we got up. “Dillan banned me from playing when the pub is full.”
“Really?” I asked.
Matt nodded. “I launched a dart into the back of some bloke's head once.”
I burst out laughing. “Sorry, I know, that isn't really funny. But it is.”
“He was fine. Amy happened to be there that night so she fixed him up in about a minute.”
“Think the pub is too full now?” I asked, glancing around. It was fairly busy, but not at full capacity yet.
“I think it'll be fine, for a little while anyway.”
A few minutes later I discovered just how bad at darts he really was. Rose and Kyle had already played with him so they were expecting it, but I was surprised. He made me look like a decent darts player. Out of five darts, only one of them even hit the target. The rest got lodged in the wall surrounding the dart board. For once, I didn't lose.
The pub began to fill up as we got another round of drinks. Someone took our table so we gathered at the bar, where Dillan was helping the bartender. I scanned the crowd, noticing that half my cousins were scattered throughout the pub. No surprises there.
The doors opened and Albus walked in, followed by Becca. They were here much earlier than I'd expected, but both of them were grinning. I turned and poked both Matt and James in the side.
“What?” Matt asked.
“Albus and Becca are here,” I whispered. I looked up again and my eyes met Al's. He nodded at me and led Becca through the crowd.
“Albus!” Rose exclaimed. “Didn't know you two were coming tonight.”
“We've got a bit of a surprise,” Albus said, grinning at Becca.
Becca held up her left hand, where a huge diamond sat on her ring finger. It was absolutely gorgeous and by far the largest ring any of my cousins had either received or given. Albus's job paid very well since so few wizards had the skills or desire to do what he did.
“So she said yes,” James said, clapping Albus on the back. “Congratulations!”
“Oh my God!” Rose exclaimed. “Congratulations! Why didn't you tell me you were going to propose?”
“Told you she'd say yes,” Matt said, smiling.
“Thank God,” I said. “I kept it a secret, by the way. I want that noted for the record. James, I can keep secrets.”
“Wait, all of you knew?” Rose said incredulously.
Albus sighed. “I only told James and Matt. James told Lily. I didn't want word getting out to all the cousins.”
“Then James shouldn't have told Lily,” Rose pointed out.
“Hey, I didn't tell anyone!”
“Oh give it a rest,” Matt said. “Come on, we should be celebrating! My best mate just got engaged! Dillan, could we get some champagne over here?”
“Of course!” Dillan shouted. “Congratulations to both of you, by the way!”
Dillan retrieved the champagne and seven glasses. We took it to a table that had just opened up and toasted while Albus and Becca told us about the proposal. Apparently it had started raining while they were at the restaurant so Albus proposed right there instead of going to the park after.
“Another Weasley wedding,” I said, taking another sip of champagne. “Aunt Fleur will be happy.”
“You'll be a bridesmaid, right Lily?” Becca asked. “I haven't got any sisters. You, too, Rose?”
I glanced at Albus, who shrugged. He'd been right. “Yeah, of course,” I said.
“That'll work nicely, seeing as Matt's going to be a groomsman,” Albus pointed out. “James, will you be the best man?”
James grinned. “Excellent. I'll get to plan the stag night.”
I glanced at Matt and took his hand in mine under the table. Our first wedding to attend as a couple. It was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time because who knew? Maybe one day it would be the two of us at the alter.
I felt my face pale at that thought and took a quick sip of champagne. Was I really thinking about my own wedding? I hadn't done that since I was about twelve. Plus, first I had to figure out the whole possible lycanthropy thing.
Grabbing my glass, I chugged the rest of the champagne.
A/N: Thanks for the reviews! A lot of you have been asking about the next Albus novel, so I figured I'd explain what's going on with it in this author's note so I don't have to type it out dozens of times. I started it a few weeks ago and am on the seventh chapter, so I'm hoping to start posting it as soon as I finish posting this. But I still don't have a title for it, so it'll depend on whether I can come up with one by then or not.
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