Chapter 22 : Epilogue
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“Mr. Potter, when are you and your girlfriend getting married?”
That question was still haunting me, even though it’d been a week since I heard it.
Ever since James had been called up to play for England, he has been getting more press than ever. He might even be just a reserve, but the amount of attention that he was getting was almost ridiculous.
Wild stories were being published and rumors were being spread. It made it nearly impossible to live a life, much less raise a child.
The worst of all was when the press had somehow found out I had been to visit St. Mungo’s the other day. There wasn’t knowing who had leaked that I had been to see my Healer, but the press was raving now about how I was pregnant again and James and I were still not married.
After one of these exhausting days when I had returned from working at James’s Uncle George’s shop, I returned home in the late afternoon to a surprise.
James, who was on the Quidditch League’s off season, was home without Aurora.
“Where’s Rory?” I asked him with a frown, climbing out of the Fireplace.
“Sent her over Al’s. He needs to fulfill some of that godfather duties. Being an Auror does not excuse him from his duties.” he said, getting up from the sofa and making his way over to me and gave me a long and heady kiss.
When we finally broke apart, I felt better already.
“Tiring day at work?” James asked, as he led me away from the living room. After passing by the sitting room and the study and started to climb up the stairs, I knew where he was headed.
“Your uncle is brilliant. Your aunt is brilliant. Freddie is brilliant. The joke shop in general is brilliant. But his customers aren’t brilliant,” I complained. James opened our bedroom door, and I hurried to fling myself onto the bed.
“You really don’t have to work, you know,” James pursed his lips as he climbed onto the bed besides me. “I don’t know why you still insist. Remember how Healer Wright said Aurora was early because you were so stressed?”
“Well, that’s then. This is now,” I sighed. Grabbing the copy of Witch Weekly from the nightstand next to me, I flung it at James. “I can’t stand the press. It’s like we have to report every single little detail to them about our lives for them to be happy.”
I closed my eyes, resting a bit, but James didn’t answer.
After several long moments, I opened my eyes to see James frowning at me.
“Bella, you can tell me if you are having uncertainties,” James started saying before I rolled my eyes. I saw where he was going with this.
Sighing, I sat up straight. Almost four years of dating, one child, and a fantastic career, James Potter still remains very insecure about himself, contrary to popular belief.
“James, I’m not regretting anything. I love you, I love Aurora, and I love our life together. I just wish that sometimes the wizarding world can grow up a bit. People do live together and are together with children, and they’re not married yet. Besides, it’s none of their business anyways,” I told him firmly before leaning in and giving him a kiss on the lips.
James sighed, running one hand through his hair, frustrated. “I wish there’s something I can do. I ought to be able to file some sort of restraining order against reporters.”
“I’m not sure that’s going to work,” I giggled, imagining the thought of a restraining order against reporters.
James smirked before pulling me onto his lap. “I’ll convince the Ministry to make it happen.”
“What with your charms and good looks?” I snorted, gazing into his eyes deeply.
“It worked with you,” he replied cheekily.
I thought about telling him off, but decided against it. Instead, I just kissed him again, taking full advantage of being home alone without Aurora.
“Mummy!” Aurora jumped on me early morning the next day. “I’m hungry.”
I groaned, face down on the pillow. Noticing that she hadn’t mentioned James, I asked her in a muffled voice, “Where’s Daddy?”
“With Uncle Louis at Diagon Alley,” Aurora said, jumping on me again. For a girl who was remarkably obedient, she also had so much energy all the time that the only time she settled down was when she was sleeping.
Getting up, I smiled as I brushed her soft black hair back from behind her face. “What do you want to eat, sweetie?”
“Cereal!” Aurora grinned as she pulled me downstairs faster than I hoped to walk in the morning.
“How about eggs and sausages?” I offered. Aurora had a weird obsession with cereal, especially the Muggle chocolate-flavored ones. “We already had cereal yesterday.”
Aurora nodded eagerly as she climbed up by herself onto her chair in the kitchen. Getting the ingredients out from the fridge, I asked, “Did Daddy say why he’s going to Diagon Alley?”
“No. But Uncle Louis said he promised to get me some chocolate,” Aurora said as I handed her a glass of orange juice.
I nodded, thinking to myself. James hadn’t mentioned needing to go to Diagon Alley for any reason. “Mummy, Aunt Rosie, and Aunt Lucy are planning to go shopping in Muggle London. Daddy is going to go visit Uncle Ethan. Do you want to go with Daddy or with Mummy?”
“Daddy, please,” Aurora answered with a smile. “I like Jessica.”
I winced. Ethan and Lucy’s relationship hadn’t taken a turn for the better. After he started working in the Department of Magical Games and Sports and Lucy started her job at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement a year later, there have been awkward times when they bumped into each other at the Ministry, apparently. Now, Ethan is working for the British and Irish Quidditch League, eliminating any chances of them seeing each other at the Ministry.
Ethan was now going out with Jessica Fawcett, much to Lucy’s dismay when she found out. Now, Lucy is never there when she finds out Ethan is there. Rose and I were still convinced that Lucy’s in denial that she’s still in love with Ethan.
Lucy’s (ridiculous) hatred for Jessica Fawcett strengthened when it turned out that Aurora liked Jessica just as much as all the rest of the huge network of family and friends. The fact that Aurora liked Jessica was even weirder consider Lucy was one of Aurora’s favorite people.
Not twenty minutes later as Aurora was finishing up her breakfast did Louis and James walk through the door, arms laden with grocery.
“Good morning, Sleeping Beauty,” Louis said to Aurora as he sat down next to her. It was ironic that Louis called her that, considering Aurora was always the first to get up in this house. “Do you know what I got for you?”
“CHOCOLATE FROGS!” Aurora squealed loudly as Louis pulled out something from one of the grocery bags. “Mummy, I told you. Uncle Louis has chocolate!”
I smiled, nodding at her. James leaned down and gave me a kiss as he picked up a piece of my left over sausage and popped it in his mouth.
“Why did you go grocery shopping?” I asked as Louis entertained Aurora.
James shrugged, looking too nonchalant for me to be satisfied with. “No reason. I just felt like cooking dinner tonight.”
I raised an eyebrow at him. “You… want to cook dinner?”
“Don’t be so surprised, Bella,” Louis grinned. “He’s been talking about wanting to do something nice for you for ages.”
“Doing housework is plenty nice enough,” I reminded Louis. “How’s Ellie? I haven’t seen her in ages.”
“Oh! Yeah, I forgot to tell you last week that she’s visiting Grace in the States,” Louis slapped his forehead, looking slightly sheepish.
Louis and Ellie had started dating a couple months after they graduated from Hogwarts. Louis works at Gringotts, and Ellie is working at the Flourish and Blotts. I highly suspect that of these days, the old manager is going to retire and leave the entire shop in Ellie’s care.
The fact that they both work in the vicinity of Diagon Alley meant bumping into each other and subsequent lunch dates started occurring. Rose, Lucy, Grace, and I had been thrilled that they were dating after several long years.
Grace, on the other hand, has been at the States for the past two years with occasional visits to Britain. Originally, Grace had been there to visit her parents. However, she found a wonderful job at the American equivalent of the Daily Prophet. Grace had planned to transfer back after a year, but instead received a job promotion.
I glared at Louis. “Here is me, thinking that she needs a good night out from all the work she probably was loaded with. And all the time, she’s actually been at the States because you forgot to tell me.”
Aurora giggled. “Uncle Louis forgets things.”
“Hey!” Louis pouted, turning to look at Aurora. “I remember plenty of things! Anyways, I need to go. Victoire wants me to go babysit Remus later today because she and Teddy are going to be busy later, so I need to go finish paperwork before the goblins bit my head off.”
When the three of us waved Louis goodbye, James offered, “Love, I can take care of the dishes. Rose and Lucy said they’d be here after breakfast. Go and get ready.”
I shot him a grateful smile and went upstairs to get ready. My hair was a mess, and I was determined not to leave the house till it looked decent.
When I went downstairs, readily dressed in jeans and a white blouse, Rose and Lucy were already waiting for me, chattering happily and entertaining Aurora as Louis had.
Rose was working now as a Healer, having another year left in her training. Her curly red hair was longer than I had ever seen it. Rose insisted that it was easier to have long hair and tie it in a bun than deal with short hair at work.
Lucy, on the other hand, had opted for a daring pixie cut these days. She had her hair cut a few months ago, and Rose and I suspected it was to give her a fresh start in life.
Rose owled me the other day, saying we needed to go shopping. Lucy had suggested going to Muggle London since it has been a while since the three of us adventured there. Since James was saying he was going to spend the day with Ethan, I readily agreed.
“My friends! It’s been forever,” I grinned happily, giving each other them a hug.
Lucy snorted. “It’s been a week. That’s hardly forever.”
“That is forever, seeing as we used to spend day and night together,” I pouted. Grabbing my purse from the kitchen counter, I kissed James and Aurora both before saying, “Rory, be good at Uncle Ethan’s place. James, please don’t let her go crazy with the Chocolate frogs. I know that Ethan is going to offer her some.”
“You go and relax,” James rolled his eyes. “Have fun, love. I’ll see you tonight.”
With another wave, the two of us turned on the spot and Apparated.
“Albus and Scorpius should be here with us,” I told wistfully several hours later as the three of us were looking through clothes at a Muggle department store. “It’s been such a good day but I wish I had seen them.”
As I picked up a cute red sweater that reminded me of Gryffindor, I completely missed the significant look that my friends shared.
“All Albus would do is complain about how hard it is to be Uncle Harry’s son in the Department,” Lucy reminded me, careful not to mention anything magical. “And Scorpius would be incredibly bored shopping.”
“Eh. I suppose so,” I shrugged. “I did already see Albus yesterday. I miss Scorpius though. He’s been too busy with trying to manage his father’s business.”
“I think he tries to busy himself seeing as I’d been studying for my exams. He hates not doing anything when I’m busy studying,” Rose rolled her eyes though the smile on her face told me how much she appreciated the gesture.
“That’s like James. He keeps insisting on doing things around the house. It’s nice, but sometimes when he cleans up, I can’t find things without Accio,” I said, looking around to make sure no one heard. I held up a green dress to show my friends. “What do you think?”
Lucy raised her eyebrows. “It’s cute but it’d look better on Ellie.”
“The green clashes with your eyes,” Rose explained.
“Maybe I’ll get it for her for her birthday present. Isn’t it coming up next month?” I verified.
Rose nodded. “Grace is coming back for her celebration. Apparently she has a surprise for us too.”
“She’s going to bring back a boyfriend,” I guessed with a grin.
Lucy shook her head. “Nah, she’s probably going to say that she’s moving back. I don’t know how she can handle living in the States.”
Rose snorted, shaking her hair back. “Well, how do the Americans handle living in the States?”
“It’s their country; they have to like it. But I don’t see why we would like it when we’re foreigners,” Lucy insisted, most likely remembering her disastrous vacation at the States when she lost her virginity.
“That’s the worst argument I’ve ever heard,” I laughed before checking my watch. “It’s nearly dinner time. I should be getting back. James said he wants to cook dinner, but I don’t trust him.”
“So you don’t trust James not to burn down the house?” Lucy raised her eyebrows.
“Give me one minute to try this dress on,” Rose said, holding up the spectacular black dress she’d been holding for the past twenty minutes. “I’m not sure I want it, but I might make my mind after I see how I look.”
“Do you think Madam Malkin will be able to tailor this dress to Ellie’s measurements?” I asked Lucy as we waited for Rose to come out of the dressing room.
“You’ll have to get her measurements first,” Lucy pointed out.
I shrugged, looking back at the watch. I really didn’t trust James with dinner; he hadn’t inherited his mother or grandmother’s skills at cooking, seeing as he never cooks. “That’s easy enough to get. Louis can do it. It looks like it’d fit her either way. She’s about my size, right? But taller. We’ll have to get it lengthened.”
“Or you can leave it that length and give it to Ellie so Louis can get an aneurysm,” Lucy giggled at the thought of Louis freaking out that Ellie would wear such a short dress in public.
Rose came out of the dressing room with the black dress, and I stared in awe. “Rose Weasley, you have gotten fit.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Rose grinned, twirling around. “I’m hoping that this might do for my four year anniversary with Scorpius.”
“He’ll love you in it,” Lucy grinned. “Now hurry up so Bella can make sure that James isn’t going to burn down their house.”
“Alright, hold your horses. I’ll hurry,” Rose rolled her eyes before disappearing back into the dressing room.
“You know that Albus told me the other day that Scorpius told him he was thinking of telling his grandparents that they were getting serious?” Lucy told me in a lowered voice.
Shocked, I turned to her. “What? What do you mean? Don’t they already know?”
“Yeah, but apparently according to Scorpius, his grandparents don’t expect the two of them to get married or anything like that down the road. His parents are just fine with it, and Mrs. Malfoy loves Rose, as you know. But breaking it to his grandparents would mean that Lucius Malfoy would have to face the reality that his grandson wants to eventually marry the granddaughter of Arthur Weasley,” Lucy explained, giving me a significant look.
“Wow…” I frowned, trying to process everything. “Would Lucius Malfoy really have a problem with it? I mean, what does it matter to him?”
“It doesn’t, really. Because it’s not like Mr. Malfoy will disown Scorpius, but Scorpius apparently thinks that he needs to come clean with his grandparents in order to ease his conscious when talking to Rose about the future.”
“We can’t blame him for that. He’s really serious, though, if he’s going to want to tell his grandfather,” I mused, staring at the thick curtain of the dressing room. “I wonder whether they’ll be the first to get married.”
“You and James haven’t talked about it?” Lucy asked in a rather unnatural tone.
But I was too preoccupied with my thoughts to notice. I said, “Not really. I told him I hate how the reporters think they should have every detail about our life. He’s all insecure about me not wanting to be in this relationship, but that’s all bollocks. For all intents and purposes, I feel married. I only work when it’s Quidditch off-season. I manage our money, we share our money together, and I’m a little over a month along with the next one. I hope he knows that I want him to pop the question sooner or later.”
Before Lucy could reply, Rose flung open the curtains and said, “Ready to make our purchases?”
“Completely ready. I hope James hasn’t burned down the house by the time I get back,” I joked.
“James?” I called loudly in a wary voice. The lights were dim, and Aurora didn’t run over as she usually did when I Apparated home. “Rory?”
Setting the dress I had bought for Ellie aside, I walked towards the kitchen before discovering it was empty. I could, however, see that James indeed had been cooking.
I made my way over to the dining room table, feeling extremely confused and slightly scared something had went wrong, when I suddenly saw it.
In our fancy dining room table that we rarely use, there were roses on the table, candlelight, a rather wonderful smelling dinner, and James sitting there with a loving smile on his face.
My heart melted as I saw him.
“Aurora is with my parents. Don’t worry about her,” James said, answering the first thing I was about to ask him.
Grinning, I walked over to the seat opposite of James and sat down. “Why did you do all this?”
“Bella, there’s been a lot of things on my mind that I want to tell you about before we start dinner,” James said seriously. If it weren’t for the loving look he was giving me, I half-expected him to start the break-up speech. “I thought about telling you after dinner, but I can’t wait to tell you.”
“I know we found out that you’re expecting again. You know how happy I am that you are. I don’t want you to think that I’m pressured or anything. But there’s something I have to let you know,” James said before taking a huge breath.
Getting up from his seat, he said, “Bella Hart, I love you. I know that our life together can be hard because we’re still so young and we have a child to care for. With the next one on the way, I know that you are having thoughts in your mind. I can see in the way that you look at Aurora and the way you dread reading the Daily Prophet, Witch Weekly, and the way that you hate the looks given you when we’re at Diagon Alley. But I do love you, and these past three years have taught me that with all of the difficulties that I will face, I would rather share your burdens, and give you my joy.”
James knelt to the ground as he pulled something out of his pocket. My heart started pounding so fast I could hardly believe that it hadn’t stopped working.
James opened the small box that he had pulled out, revealing a beautiful ring. “Bella Hart, will you do me the greatest honor of being my wife?”
Tears of joy started streaming down my face as I cried out with happiness, “Yes! Yes, I will marry you, James.”
As he slipped the ring onto my ring finger (which had fit perfectly), I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. I flung my arms around James and kissed him, taking the both of us ages to break apart.
James, Aurora, and our new baby was my family now. There were no one that I loved more than my family.
Final Author's Note: I seriously can't believe that this is it! This is the last chapter! Thank you all SO much to everyone who has read and stayed with this story. Your support really had meant the world to me, and it still does. Thank you for putting up with my period of "short" hiatus, and thank you for all of your encouraging reviews.
The sequel (which will be a short story or a novella) will be posted up, but not immediately. Please look out for it in the future!
Again, thank you all so much for sticking with me and this story! I'm so excited to have completed my first novel!