Chapter 19 : Epilogue
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I turned away from my slice of cake and saw Matt returning with two glasses of wine. He sat down, set the glasses on the table, and stole a bite of my cake.
“Hey!” I said as I tried and failed to knock the cake off his fork with my own.
Matt grinned, frosting covering his lips. “I called you beautiful, didn't I?”
“Yes, but you've already told me at least five times since I walked down the aisle.”
The dress was beautiful, I gave him that. It was a strapless teal number that ended just above my knees and bunched slightly to the right side of my waist. Early on in the wedding planning Becca had informed her best friend Katie, her cousin Charlotte, Rose, and I that we could pick out our own dresses so long as they were teal and not floor length. It worked out very nicely and we made quite the awesome quartet of bridesmaids, if I do say so myself.
It was nearly a year after Albus proposed to Becca, and they got married on the coast, near Becca's childhood home. The ceremony had been simple and elegant, and the reception took place at the Burrow, like most Weasley and Potter wedding receptions did.
“Well, you look rather dashing in those dress robes,” I said before eating the last bite of cake.
The groomsmen had worn black dress robes accented with the same color teal as the bridesmaids' dresses.
“We match,” Matt said.
I smiled and gazed around the marquee. The dance floor was packed and I could see James dancing with Katie, a drunken smile on his face. Uncle George and Aunt Alicia were the worst dancers of all, not even trying to keep with the beat. I laughed and shook my head. So much had stayed the same since the last Weasley wedding, yet so much had changed.
Matt and I had settled into a routine over the past year. We'd agreed to get a flat together after Albus and Becca married, and we were set to move in to our new place a week from yesterday. It was close to where Matt currently lived, and much nicer than my current flat. Sir Thumbs would be coming with us, of course.
I now stayed with Matt the day after his transformations, except for when I had to work. He usually slept the whole time I was there, but it somehow brought us closer nonetheless. One thing he was adamant about was me not seeing him in his wolf form, and he still went to his parents' to transform. Part of me wished he'd let me see him as a wolf, but part of me was grateful he wouldn't. I couldn't put my finger on why this was, but I wasn't worried. If it ever became an issue I'd just talk to Rose.
Matt still had the occasional nightmare, but he always let me trace his scars afterward, and while we never spoke during this, I think it comforted him. Rose was right in that the trauma he suffered as a kid would stay with him for his entire life, but I liked to think I was helping him in some small way.
“Becca's throwing the bouquet,” Matt said, jolting me out of my thoughts.
I turned and saw a crowd of girls hovering near Becca on the dance floor. I smiled and laughed to myself. A year ago this was the worst part of weddings, but for whatever reason, it didn't bother me now. Rose probably knew why, but I didn't feel the need to ask her. Not that I wanted to actually catch the bouquet, but standing there didn't bother me anymore.
“Lily!” Katie shouted.
“Coming!” I shouted back. “Be right back,” I said to Matt.
I joined the group of chattering girls and took my place in front of Rose. She tapped me on the shoulder and grinned at me. I grinned back.
Becca turned around and heaved the bouquet into the crowd. I held up my arms and swallowed hard. It was sailing right toward me, despite the girls who had pushed their way in front of me. But I caught the bouquet at Angie's wedding, and the last thing I wanted was to become the girl who caught the bouquet at two weddings in a row. Sure, catching the bouquet once didn't freak me out anymore, but twice? No thanks.
I ducked at the last minute and then stood up to see the bouquet in the hands of a shocked Rose. Her mouth was agape and she glared at me.
“Lily!” she exclaimed. “Why did you duck?”
“Why? Because I caught it at Angie's, that's why!” I asked. “And you've never caught it.”
Rose was turning bright red and I burst out laughing. “Oh, come on, Rose. It's just a game.”
Rose sighed. “I know. Come on.”
I followed Rose back to our table where Matt and Kyle were waiting. Both of them were laughing, although Kyle looked vaguely uncomfortable, probably because Rose caught the bouquet.
“You two are next,” Matt joked.
Rose and Kyle glanced at each other. “So,” Rose said loudly, “anyone know what Al and Becca are doing about their jobs?”
“Nothing,” Matt said. “They're going to keep things the way they are until they have kids.”
Rose shook her head. “I don't know how they do it.”
“Me either,” I agreed, putting my arm around Matt. I couldn't imagine not seeing Matt for weeks on end.
“Look, they're leaving,” Rose said, pointing to the entrance to the marquee, where Al and Becca were standing, saying goodbye to everyone.
Matt, Rose, Kyle, and I hurried through the crowd of tables and pushed our way to the front of the group. Matt and I held hands as we waved goodbye to Al and Becca, who were going to Italy on their honeymoon.
After they left the two of us walked slowly around the yard, outside the marquee. We didn't talk, but we didn't need to. Instead, we listened to the muted laughter coming from the marquee and gazed at the stars in the sky. A cloud shifted and the waning crescent moon peeked out, shining a small amount of light onto the yard.
“You think this will ever be us?” Matt asked, squeezing my hand.
My face grew warm and I hoped there wasn't enough light from the moon for Matt to notice. “Maybe...I don't know...”
Matt laughed. “Lily, it's okay. Don't freak out. I'm not proposing or anything.”
I let out a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding. “It's not that I don't want to marry-”
“Lily,” Matt cut me off. “We don't have to think about that.” He stopped walking and took my other hand in his.
I looked up and gazed into his golden eyes. “I love you, Matt. I do. But marriage....”
Matt laughed. “Lily, seriously. Stop worrying about it. Just because your brother got married today doesn't mean you have to be next. I'm not thinking about marriage. All I'm thinking about is that I love you, and how you make me feel normal and whole. You are the only person, ever, who has made me feel that way.”
I squeezed his hands and smiled. “Really? What about Amy? And your parents? They're always there for you.”
Matt smiled wryly. “They are, and I love them for that. When it comes to support and advocacy, I couldn't have asked for a better family. Everything I have, my entire life, I owe to all three of them. But they've always been protective and they always worry. My lycanthropy is always there, right there on the surface, with them. With you, I can forget about it, even just for a few hours. And Lily, that's something I never, ever thought I'd have.”
I felt my eyes begin to water. I blinked quickly to try to keep them at bay, but I didn't succeed. “Matt...I don't know what to say.”
“You don't have to say anything. I don't know what the future will bring. It's a mystery for both of us, me more than you, but I know it will be a whole lot better to face with you by my side.”
I looked at him uneasily. “Matt, this is starting to sound a whole lot like-”
He laughed again. “No, Lily, it's not a proposal. As I said, who knows what the future will bring. But for now, I want to face it with you.”
I leaned in close and kissed him. He kissed me back and we were both smiling when we broke apart. “I love you, Matt Eckerton.”
“I love you, too, Lily Potter.”
I took his hand and we walked back to the marquee. The future was still unknown, but for now we'd face that unknown together, and together, it wouldn't be as scary. We loved each other, and that was all that mattered.
A/N: And that's it! I really hope you guys have enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you so much for the supportive and encouraging reviews! Special shout out to my sister, Linda, who has supported this story since before it was a story and helped talk me out of my original epilogue idea (which I'm not going to explain, sorry!). And another special shout out to Leslie (onestop_hpfan18) for all the support and word wars (in which I wrote most of this) over the past few months!
My fifth Albus novel is up next, but I can't promise when I'll post it. I want to have at least ten chapters written (I'm at nine now) and I still need a title. So, once I've written one more chapter and have a title, I'll post the first chapter. Just keep checking! The chapter won't take long to write and I'm working on a title.