James stared at the door in front of him. He had not seen Augusta since he had hashed things out with Albus, but he wasn’t sure that she would be glad to see him. He had taken her for granted, and he should have been horsewhipped for that. She deserved far better than that—better than him
—but he was selfish enough to grovel at her feet for her to forgive him.
Finally, he found the courage to knock on the door. He had no idea why he was knocking, considering he lived there with her, but he thought that he should give her the option of tossing him out on his arse like a sane person would.
Augusta knocked on the door and started when she saw that it was James. “Where were you last night, and why in the name of Merlin are you knocking?”
Where to start? “Listen, I’ve been thinking…” He rubbed the bruise on his chest where the tip of Albus’s elbow had made contact, “…Amongst other things. These past few months have been really hard on you, and I’ve been a complete prat the whole time. I just want…I want to know where we stand, I suppose.”
“I…” Augusta seemed to struggle finding words for what she felt. “You hurt me, James. All I wanted was to help you get better, but you threw it in my face.”
“And I can’t even begin to tell you how much I hate myself for that,” James said truthfully. “Albus and I did some, er, talking, and he’s made me see some things that I couldn’t see for myself.”
Augusta held her breath. “Like?”
James shot her a half-grin. “Like how lucky I am that you didn’t give me the boot months ago, and how I need to move on with my life. I can’t get on with things until I stop looking backwards.”
“Then what are you saying?” Augusta looked up at him curiously, obviously having no idea what he was talking about.
Taking her hand, James knelt at her feet, gazing up into her eyes with complete adoration. “I want to start over again, a new life, and I want you to be a part of that.”
“James, are you—“
Digging into his pocket for the little velvet box that he had stashed in there earlier for just this occasion, James said, “I love you more than anything in this world. When I think about what is to come, I can’t imagine it without you there. I want to look into your eyes when we’re both too old for loud music and we drink nothing but tea with every meal. I want to be able to look back at things like this and ice cream bowls broken over my head and laugh.” They both chuckled at the reminder of the morning of their first kiss.
“I want to wake up every morning and smell the coffee that you’d already made because I’m too lazy to get up and make it myself. I want a batch of adorable little Hufflepuffs of our own, and I want them to all look like you, since you’re more beautiful than any other woman on the planet.
“Augusta Alice Longbottom, will you marry me?” There. He finally said it. Now James just hoped that she didn’t bash him over the head as a reply.
For over a minute, Augusta said nothing. Her mouth opened and closed several times, as if she was starting to say something but couldn’t finish. James was starting to feel dread set in that she was going to refuse.
At last, she reacted, but it wasn’t exactly what he’d had in mind. She nodded. Yes, she nodded
. “Right then, it’s your turn to clean the loo, and no shortcuts!
James was confused. “Is that a ‘yes’, or should I just start packing my stuff now? You can keep the flat, if that’s the case, but I—“ He didn’t get a chance to finish his statement, because she cut him off with a searing kiss, banishing all thoughts of words from his mind.
When she pulled away, both of them were breathless, but Augusta wore a look of smug satisfaction. “I’ve always wanted to do that. And, no, you don’t have to pack anything. In fact, if you do, I might hex you.”
“So, does that mean—“
“Of course, I’ll marry you, you idiot!” With a smile, she added, “Now, get off the ground before you ruin your pants. I know how much you paid for those.”
Laughing, James followed her into the flat, thanking his lucky stars that he had found the one woman on Earth that could put up with his nonsense and love him for it.