Chapter 27 : The Epilogue
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"You know, if she hasn't picked up, then screaming at her isn't going to help." Albus grinned, pushing the kitchen door open with his arse and smirking at me.
Well, as much as he could with a toddler on his hip that seemed to enjoy hitting him in the face repeatedly whilst giggling.
"Daddy," She giggled, and Albus jerked his head out of the way just in time to avoid another blow. Whoever said children were cute and harmless was quite clearly high. "Daddy, I want Auntie Nessa to hold me." She blinked her large green eyes at Al, being too young to see the immediate relief that I noticed.
Albus held her out to me, her cute little chubby arms thrust outwards as she waited for me to pick her up.
I smiled at the cuteness and picked her up, wondering idly if I would be able to pick up the same fluffy pink baby-gro in an adult size. What? I'm twenty six, that doesn't mean I can't wear a onesie to bed. Hugo does when he's got a Quidditch injury.
But tell anyone that and he'll kill you.
"Be good for Auntie Nessa, Annabelle." Albus cooed, leaning down to peck his daughter on the top of the head. I tried not to gag at the cuteness. And it would have been ever cuter if Albus hadn't scarpered off a second later.
Probably to go and have a nap – he really is a lazy whatsit.
And he always uses the same bloody excuse –
"Well Van, when you and Hugo get round to popping out a few kids, we'll have this conversation again. You sleep when you can. The little devil doesn't sleep, I swear it! I need to nap or I'll die! Do you want me to die?" Then there would be a pause. "When are you and Hugo going to get round to having kids, anyway?"
I'll tell you when – when he's not jetting the globe being an incredibly fit Quidditch star, and we're married.
Which probably isn't going to happen anytime soon.
... yeah. We're not married. Please do not tell me you're going to lecture me like everyone else in this bloody family of loons. I don't need another rendition of 'but you've been together for ten years! You should be married by now!'. Well, we're not.
Deal with it.
"Aunt Vanessa?" Lucie smiled, sidling into the room with a smirky little grin on her face. "Can I have some of that cheesecake that dad hid?" I grinned. Don't tell anyone, but Lucie is my favourite.
Maybe it's because she's nine and not about three like all the other little rugrats, or maybe it's because she's James' daughter and therefore pretty much the reincarnation of the devil when she wants to be. Oh, I can't wait for her to become a teenager. Jamesie-boy will not know what hit him. I'm looking forward to it.
"Sure you can, love. If you find where he hid it, I'm not sure." I shrugged and bounced the gurgling Annabelle on my hip a little. That's what I see Al doing with her, and what Lily does with her twin girls. And Fred with his two sons. And James used to do it with Lucie, and does it now with Josie and Marie.
...there are far too many kids in this family.
Seriously, it's like being in a family of rabbits. You turn around and BAM, a new baby has been popped out by some relation. It's insane.
"Vanessa, oh thank the lord!" Hermione rushed in (I'm not allowed to call her Aunt Hermione any more – she tells me off for it) and grinned at the smiling Annabelle. "Do you have any idea when my son is getting here? He was supposed to be here an hour ago, we want to start dinner!"
I grinned sheepishly.
Hugo may have been a little late for practice this morning because he got a tad distracted by something, so his captain may be making him stay behind for an extra hour after practice to run laps... but it's not my fault.
The Chudley Cannons are mean.
I glanced at the clock over the fridge and blew some of Annabelle's fluffy blonde hair out of my mouth.
"Should be here in about five minutes." Hermione noticed my flush and didn't press the matter, but smirked slightly and headed back out to where the rest of the family was crammed – I mean seated.
Honestly, why they hold these monthly whole-family dinners at the Burrow is beyond me. We don't all fit. I ended up sitting on Albus' knee for the last two, because there was an addition of about three high chairs from the last time.
And Victoire was preggo again, so we had to listen to her whine to Teddy about how much her feet were hurting her. Well love, Al's knee isn't that comfy, so my arse was killing me.
Annabelle gurgled again as Sofia – little note for you, she's Al's wife – headed into the room, rubbing her eyes, and noticed her daughter humming into my ear and chewing on my hair. I dearly hope my children never do that to anyone. If I ever have children, you know.
"Anna!" She cried, rushing over and scooping her into her arms. "'Ave you been bozzering Auntie Nessa again? I taught I told Al to geev her to someone else – 'e's always giving 'er to you, it's not fair. You shouldn't be lumped with looking after zee kids all zee time."
Sofia grinned and pecked each of my cheeks – yeah, she's French. Can you tell? – and headed out the door, screaming Al's name in that strange French way of hers.
I leant against the counter and checked the clock again. Hugo should have gotten back ten minutes ago.
"What are you thinking about so loudly?" A deep voice murmured into my ear as strong arms wound their way around my waist and chin came to rest on my shoulder, lips pressing against my neck for a little longer than necessary.
"About how my useless lump of a boyfriend was still heaving his incredibly fit arse around a Quidditch Pitch whilst I stood here all alone." I smirked, leaning upwards to kiss his cheek.
"And we all know whose fault that is." Hugo cocked his eyebrow at me. I flushed.
"Yes, we do." I agreed. "Yours."
"Well, why don't we go and continue this debate upstairs somewhere? There are plenty of free bedrooms..." Hugo leant forwards and kissed me, his arms tightening around my waist and the tension slipping out of his shoulders.
Just as I slipped my arms around his neck, a voice rang out from the pantry behind me.
"Aunt Vanessa, I found it! I don't know why dad thought that I wouldn't find the cheesecake in the car washing bucket – EW! STOP KISSING!" Hugo pulled away from me quickly and blushed, staring at Lucie like she had witnessed nothing out of the ordinary.
"Ooh good, you're here Hugo." Jen smiled, strolling into the kitchen. She took one look at Lucie's horrified face and stopped. "Lucie, honey, what's the matter?"
"They were kissing!" Lucie cried, point at Hugo and I with wide eyes.
I blushed an even brighter shade of red and Hugo smirked proudly. I elbowed him in the stomach.
Jen just laughed and shook her head, wrapping her arm around her daughter's shoulder and pulling her out of the room.
"When you're older, remind me to tell you the story of the first time they were at the Burrow together, if you think that's bad." Hugo rolled his eyes and leaned down to kiss me again. Moving his lips to my neck, he murmured –
"You know, those bedrooms aren't getting any warmer." He grabbed my hand and went to start moving backwards without breaking this kiss when someone else entered the kitchen.
We leapt apart.
Goddamn it. What is it with this family and not letting me snog my boyfriend (and don't worry, the novelty wore off eventually. I won't rub it in that he's my boyfriend)?
"Hugo! You're here! You should have told us." Hermione smiled, waltzing into with a tray piled high with about twenty empty mugs of tea. She set it down on the counter and shooed us out into the living room, to where the rest of the Clan de Loony were waiting.
"Hugo, I think I've gone deaf." I muttered, poking at my ears dejectedly as we flooed back into our apartment, Hugo's arm wrapped around my shoulders and my head buried in his chest. "How on earth one household can be so loud is beyond me."
Hugo chuckled, flicking a little of his deep brown hair out of his eyes and shooting me one of those 'yeah I'm hot, what you gonna do about it?' looks.
"You want a drink, love?" He asked, heading over to the small kitchen off the living room.
"Red wine. Gin. Vodka. Coffee. Anything." I sighed, plopping down onto the couch and propping my feet up on the other end. Hugo can just sit on the floor.
I glanced around the room for a moment and smiled at the familiarity. Same open plan apartment with fancy oak furnishings and a brown leather couch decorated with cream throw pillows, beanbags dotted everywhere and random candlesticks on the mantelpiece that we just had to have.
Same kitchen off the living room with black worktops that Hugo was forever cleaning, fancy-arse oven and fridge and whatnot and some scary looking thing that was supposed to make smoothies and blend food together but really looked like some kind of torture device.
Same Hugo standing in the kitchen, humming the national anthem and dancing around as he poured two glasses of wine.
Hugo picked up the two glasses and headed over to the couch, set them down on the coffee table and smirked at my feet on his end of the couch.
He cocked an eyebrow at me, and I just closed my eyes, letting my head loll back onto the armrest. I heard Hugo chuckle, there was a little bit of shuffling, the sound of some wine being slurped up – ah, the manners of that boy – and then nothing.
I cracked an eyelid open.
Hugo was still staring at me, a devilish glint in his eye that I did not like one iota.
He leant down onto the couch, kicked a leg over one of my hips and then sat down on my stomach, straddling me. Whilst looking very proud of himself for his 'ingenious' plan.
"Well if you won't let me sit on the couch, then I'll just sit on you." He smirked again. I poked him in the stomach, but all that did was bruise my finger. The boy has a stomach like bleeding rock.
Which is probably why he weighs so much – seriously, it's like having a boulder sitting on me. And I am not happy about it.
I glared up at Hugo, but he merely smiled at me cheerfully, before leaning down and capturing my lips in a soft kiss, his hand moving to the armrest so he could hold himself up. He pulled away far too soon – I pouted at him and glared a little bit more, before reaching up and curling my fingers around the collar of his shirt and pulling him back down again.
This went on for several minutes, and Hugo's shirt somehow managed to disappear. I have no idea how that happened.
But our moment together was ruined by someone I most definatley did not want to see in that situation tumbling out of our fireplace and landing in an ashy mess in the middle of the floor. Bloody Lily. Never have best friends, I'm telling you.
"EW! WHAT THE BLOODY HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING? GET A ROOM! EW!" Lily shrieked, clapping her hands over her eyes.
"This was a room until you barged in here! And this is our bloody apartment; we can do what we like! We can walk around bloody naked if we want to!" Hugo protested, hastily pulling his shirt back on and glaring at his cousin, who looked quite unashamed.
I knew I never should have approached her on the Hogwarts Express.
"Well you should have a bloody sign on your door that says 'please don't come in, I'm shagging my girlfriend on the couch'!" Lily protested from behind her hands, and I slammed my own hand to my forehead.
"Well how would that have helped? You didn't even have the courtesy to use the door, you just flooed right on in here!" Hugo cried back.
"And we weren't shagging." I added as an aside. What? I wanted to make thinks clear.
"Yet..." Hugo winked at me, I grinned and Lily whimpered.
"Anyway, what do you want?" Hugo asked, turning around to face Lily as he remembered his cousin's presence. Lily suddenly turned her horrified and slightly sick expression into a dazzling beam.
She wants something.
"Weeeeeeell," She said, "Lysander and I haven't been on a date in months, and we haven't had a proper weekend to ourselves in a very long time, what with another little 'un on the way," Lily patted her slightly rounded stomach, "and I was just wondering if, well, you two would take Charlotte and Katie for the weekend – they're three now, I'm sure they won't put all of Hugo's Quidditch dolls in the blender like they did last time..." And here comes another Lily Beam.
I went to agree, the fact she barged in on us already forgotten, when something in Hugo's expression made me stop.
He went an odd white colour and looked like he was choking, his hand immediately flying to his left side and clamping it to his hip.
"Um, sorry Lils, but we can't this weekend." He said woodenly. "And also, they're not bloody dolls, they're collectable Quidditch figurines!" Lily rolled her eyes, having heard this at least a million and twelve times.
"Why can't we babysit?" I asked Hugo, and the choking face returned. Lily stared at her cousin for a moment and then headed over, grabbed his arm in a vice grip and pulled him out of the room, not saying a word.
I stared at the door that was slammed shut for a moment, blinked, shrugged and sat down to watch some Wiz-TV.
Ooh goodie, How to Cook with Magic is on. Hugo hates it, he says that the presenter gives him a headache with all of his smiling, but I think he's just jealous. Damn, that man has a fine arse. Seriously. Gives Hugo a bloody run for his money, I'll tell you that.
My programme watching (or arse staring, whichever) was interrupted by Hugo and Lily re-entering the room, Hugo looking slightly red and Lily beaming like nobody's business.
"Oh, not that bloody git again." Hugo grumbled, glaring at the Wiz-TV screen. "Turn it off. I'm not going to forget that function we went to and he tried to hit on you. Good job I was there to protect you."
He dropped down on the couch next to me, wrapped his arms around my waist and buried his face in my hair, quickly kissing the back of my neck.
"And by protect, you mean that you punched him in the face and said that if he came anywhere near to me for the rest of the night, you would rip off a pretty important part of his anatomy?" Hugo grinned sheepishly.
"Is that what happened? Huh. I don't seem to remember..."
"Sure you don't."
I turned around to kiss him when I realised that Lily was still standing there, watching us from the end of the couch. Tears were glistening in her eyes and she was beaming, her hands held over her heart in a maternal fashion.
Okay, those pregnancy hormones have seriously whacked her up. I'm going to have to tell Lysander to stop knocking her up.
"Um, Lily?" I asked gently. "Aren't you going to get going now?" Lily jumped slightly, smiled guiltily at Hugo and then leapt forwards to scoop the both of us up in a hug.
"You guys just make the cutest couple ever, yeah?" She whinged into my hair, and I shot Hugo a bewildered look through the curtain of red. The arse was laughing.
And with that she flew off, into the green flames of the fire and was gone. What the bloody hell was all that about?
"Right, shag now?" Hugo asked.
"What were you talking to Lily about yesterday when she came round?" I asked Hugo over breakfast – two generously buttered pieces of toast and a pot of chocolate spread.
I am the epitome of health.
"About how much I love you." He answered immediately, and I could not hold back the knee-jerk reaction to roll my eyes.
"Right, of course." I rolled my eyes and went to take another bite of toast, only to find that it had suddenly disappeared off my plate. Glancing up, I saw Hugo munching on said piece of toast. Honestly, depriving his girlfriend of toast. What kind of bloke, really?
"By the way, we're going out on Saturday." He said, glancing up through his hair and shooting me one of those looks – you know the ones I mean. The one's that made me fall in love with him in the first place.
And no, I am not a bloody sap.
"Where are we going?" I asked, leaning over the breakfast bar to give him a quick kiss. He fed me a bite of his – ahem, my – toast and tapped the side of my nose.
"Would it be a surprise if I told you?" He asked, kissing the end of my nose and smearing a little of the chocolate spread on my forehead.
"And then my boss came up to Lily and I and was like 'excuse me, but your lunch ended two and a half minutes ago – get back to work'. Is that a pisstake or what? Two and a half freaking minutes!"
Hugo rolled his eyes and ordered another bottle of red wine for the two of us, glaring at the waiter when he smiled at me for a little longer than strictly necessary.
"That's why I hate working as a healer in St Mungo's sometimes – the bosses are so freaking up themselves." I grumbled, stabbing at the fancy French dish in front of me with a little of the anger I felt.
That's where we were, by the way – some fancy French restaurant in the middle of Muggle London. I don't even know. Apparently he's been planning it for a while, because I just wanted a nice Saturday night in with a pizza and some Quidditch reruns on Wiz-TV, but Hugo had other plans. According to him, it's of 'vital' importance that we went to dinner tonight.
I think he's off his head, personally, but hey-ho.
Pretty soon the plates from dinner had been cleared and the desserts had been ordered – honeycomb and toffee pudding, here I come – when I noticed that a piano had begun to plan in the background, and a little of the colour had drained out of Hugo's face.
"Are you alright, love?" I asked, leaning my arm across the table to touch his clenched fist.
I noticed that his forehead was slightly shiny with sweat, and he looked on the verge of passing out. I pushed my glass of water across the table quickly and he downed it in one with a grateful grin.
"Um, V-Vanessa?" He stammered, the colour once again leaving his cheeks. "I have something I want to talk to talk to you about – well, ask you really." He ran a hand through his hair.
"Sure, what's up?" I asked uncertainly, rubbing my fingers across the back of his hand as he breathed shallowly to himself. Oh shit, is he leaving me? After ten bloody years? Oh, I'll kill the bloody arsehole if he's leaving me.
Who is going to get our apartment? We're not married, and he pays for it mostly, so I'd have no legal rights...
Shit, I'm gonna be homeless! Oh good god.
I was so busy panicking about where I was going to live after the soon to come breakup that I didn't notice Hugo half fall out of his chair onto the floor, prop himself up on one knee or start scrabbling at his pockets for something, cursing under his breath as he went.
It was only when he cleared his throat and I looked back up that my colon fell to my feet and my heart started hammering in my throat.
He's not... he can't be...
A small box of black velvet was pinched between two of Hugo's fingers, which were shaking almost as much as I was. My eyes filled with tears – not that I had any idea why. I saw the old lady at the next table nudge her husband and point to us.
"Van, you know how much I love you." He said, his voice shaking. "And I don't ever want to be with anyone else, ever – I know that. And we've been together so long, and it's just been right for us, you know? I love you so bloody much, a-and... shit, I can't remember the next bit!" Hugo looked like he might cry.
A tear rolled down my cheek.
"Keep going." I whispered, leaning forwards and stroking his cheek with my palm.
"I-I was just wondering if, if you want to, will you marry my wife?"
... wait, what?
Hugo froze, and then our eyes met in the middle – mine were wide and slightly amused, and his were wide and horrified, the colour returning back to his cheeks in the form of a deep pink blush. Who's the traffic light blusher now, eh Hugo?
"Bugger! I was gonna say will you marry me and then changed it to will you be my wife halfway... oh god, I've screwed this all up. Let's forget it – we'll come out next week and try again, I promise it will be perfect –"
I shook my head, cutting him off.
"It is perfect." I whispered. I really am being a sap tonight.
"Oh! Well then – Vanessa McIver, w-will you marry me?"
I took a moment to look back over us – the way Lysander and Lily got engaged the day we graduated Hogwarts, two weeks after Rose got married, and held their wedding the next summer, the way Albus met Sofia and got married in the next six months. All the children, the moving, everything. Yet Hugo and I just moved in together after Hogwarts, and that was it. Pretty much his whole family seemed to get married in their teens – not us.
Hugo and Vanessa. Just always there. Always together.
"Yeah, I'll marry you." My voice cracked and split, as did Hugo's smile. He slowly lifted the lid to the box to reveal a thin gold band studded with diamonds, with a bloody pumpkin sized rock sitting in the middle.
He slid it onto my ring finger, kissed it, and then leaned up to kiss my lips. The restaurant around us erupted in a round of applause. I wiped away more tears. More wine was ordered. Pudding was divine.
"Hey Van?" Hugo said on the way home. "I love you."
"I love you too." I murmured. "Always."
disclaimer: i own nothing you recognise, and none of this belongs to me.
well. there we go. the last ever chapter. i feel kind of sad actually, like i might cry. this is the first story ive ever completed. wow. feels like such a big achievement to me. but a huge thank you to everyone who has read this story, and who have stuck with it. that had to be hard, considering how annoying those two can get at times. so thank you <333
so. haha. something that made me laugh was in the reviews of the last chapter ~ i think pretty much all people guessed they were going to have kids, and they were going to be married... and they werent even engaged. so i bet that came as a bit of a surprise, that they were just living together. but hey - they dont need to take things fast, right? OH! and congrats to the person that guessed lily was going to be pregnant, because you were right :D
any thoughts on the proposal? id looove to hear them. anyway. again, thank you so much for reading this story, and im very sad to see it end.
much love, ellie :) xx