Chapter 1 : Street Lamps
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For a long, dark year you did not smile. Then she came breezing into your lab and declared that, today, you were going to take her out to dinner. She leaned her hip against the table you were working at and looked at you with her shining brown eyes as she said it. You looked up at her, your own eyes missing the spark they used to have, and said nothing. Her eyes grew softer, her smile changed, and she reached out a hand to grasp your own.
Finally you gave in and reached for your cloak. Outside the streets were nearly empty and you liked that. She was right – a few minutes after you went with her the street lamps came on and the lights in the shops began to go out. It occurred to you that she ought to have eaten dinner hours ago and you realized that you hadn’t and were, in fact, hungry. When you looked over at her the smile she gave you said she knew all of this.
You sat in a dark booth at a pub, the only place open this time of night. A smiling blonde took your order – roast chicken – and you sat in silence, looking at everyone around you. You were glad your left side was toward the wall.
“Why am I taking you out for dinner?” You ask her.
“Because you want to.” She said. “Because we’re friends and because I care about you. And because you’re hungry.”
She told you all about your old friends while you ate. The Quidditch player, the auror, and the secretary. You were surprised to hear the news that the secretary was marrying the Quidditch player. She told you that you’d get an invitation.
You walked slowly back to the shop and decided that you actually had wanted to take her out to dinner and you liked walking with her. She was familiar and friendly and welcome. When you came to the shop she hugged you tight, and hard, and you thought that maybe she had needed to go out to dinner with you, too.
“Same time next week?” She asked.
“See you then.” And you smiled. She walked away then, her dark hair gleaming in the light of the street lamps.
Tonight she isn’t walking away from you, you know. She’s feeding you. Again. Over the years since that first dinner she had made a habit of it. Turning up for dinner once a week, popping by for lunch, sandwiches in hand, at unexpected times, and bringing you scones and coffee bright and early on Mondays. She knew you had always hated Mondays. One Monday she sat beside you, drinking coffee quietly as you worked. A lot of people were surprised when they discovered that you were really quite clever and had files full of papers full of charts and numbers but not her. She watched you work and she sipped her coffee and when you picked up a scone to take a bite she made an announcement.
“I’m quitting my job.”
“You’ve always wanted to be a healer!”
“I did. I just think I’m not cut out for it.”
“Why? You’re the most caring person I know.” She laughed then and told you not to tell lies. You weren’t lying but you didn’t tell her that.
“I think I’m too tenderhearted for it. I can’t handle it.”
“So come work for me.” You just blurted it out but even as you said it you hoped she’d say yes because it would be the most marvelous thing.
“Ok.” She smiled up at you and leaned down and kissed her. For a second you were afraid she’d pull away and the smile would be gone but she just kept on smiling. “About time, Weasley.”
It was never complicated between you. She knew how you felt and she knew where she stood. Your family wasn’t even a bit surprised the first Sunday she turned up for dinner with you. For the first time in a long time, someone sat in the chair between you and Ron. You thought that was one of the best things there was. She held your hand under the table and you knew she understood – she was the only one who would ever sit in that chair.
When your brothers and sister started to get married and have kids, she was there for every occasion. She cried when Percy kissed Audrey and laughed when Ginny kissed Harry. She held Dominique before you did and she changed Molly’s diaper when you wouldn’t. Your mother adored her and your father looked at the two of you with misty eyes. When James was born she cried again and you made a joke but she gave you a secret smile that made your heart race.
She walks back into view and stands under a street lamp where you can see her clearly. You wonder why she isn’t coming up. She beckons to you and you open the window.
“Come down!” She says. So you do, because she never asks for anything she doesn’t need.
“What’s wrong?” You ask her. She laughs.
“Nothing. Do you remember the first time I came to get your for dinner?”
“I do. You said the street lamps would be coming on soon and we could pretend they were stars.”
“I did. I still like to pretend they are. It’s my favorite time of day because it feels like we’re all alone here.”
“Right. So I wanted to give you your dinner out here.” You watched her, unsure what exactly she was doing. She pulled out a carton and handed it to you. Your usual from the café up the street. Then she pulled out another carton – her usual. And then another.
“Are you expecting someone?”
“Yes.” She beams up at you and you look around and she laughs. “Not for awhile though.”
“Their food will get cold.”
“Oh, I’ll eat it for them.” You shift your head to one side and stare quizzically. She’s not making any sense but you’re certain she’s going somewhere with this. “You see, I’m not expecting them for about seven months and, well, I’m eating for two!”
You feel for a moment as if you might faint. Then you drop your food on the pavement and grab her and kiss her until you can’t breathe. This has got to be the most amazing bit of news you’ve ever heard.
“Wait here.” You tell her. She sputters a bit and laughs as you race into the shop and up the stairs into your office. You chuckle to yourself thinking that, as usual, you’re doing things a bit unconventionally. Like that time you and your brother left school in a storm of fireworks without graduating. You look out the window and she’s waiting, eating the food that had, thankfully, not spilled when you kissed her. The street lamp shines down on her and she’s quite the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.
She is the best thing that ever happened to you. You realize that for a solid year after your brother died you lived on a dark street and then she came along and became the light to guide your way. She’s your street lamp. You think she would like that so you race down the stairs again, ring box in hand, thinking that sometimes, even tragedies get happy endings.
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