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Marry me, Evans

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It is one night, when they are lying in bed after a particularly nice romp that Lily is just beginning to doze off, snuggling up to her boyfriend's chest, when she hears it.

"Marry me, Evans."

It is soft and quiet, and she thinks in the back of her mind that maybe, just maybe she has imagined it. After all, she had never really thought of marrying him before. Marriage seems like such a far off concept for the real adults of the world, the ones who have not just moved in together a month ago, who are not fighting in a war, who are not nineteen. She puts it in the back of her mind, hoping she really has just imagined the words, but finds for the rest of the night as she tries to doze, she cannot hear anything as distinctly as she hears "Marry me" in his soft quiet voice.
The next night, after another particularly nice romp, she spends time enjoying the afterglow and quiet, meaningful pillow talk between her and James, until they both decide to sleep. She dozes once more, lulled by the comforting feeling of James's fingers running through her hair, when she hears it again.

"Marry me, Evans."

She is thinking about it now. Marriage. With James. She is still partially opposed to the idea, because they are so young, and unsure, and unsteady in all aspects of life. Her parents have passed seven months ago, his father a year, and though she will never admit it, she is sure his mother is on her way out too. She cannot handle the responsibilities of marriage, of being an adult, not when everything around her is so chaotic and messy and unsure.

But James, she realizes as he strokes her hair, and kisses her shoulder, and holds her in a way that is good, and solid and warm and permanent, James is always solid, always there, always good at making her happy. And that feeling she gets with James, the one that includes what she would give to stay forever cuddled up with him in the mornings, the one where they stand forehead to forehead and she swears her heart will burst from the giddy smile spreading across her lips, the one where she would be completely and totally and utterly lost without him, that feeling is one she wants to keep forever.

Maybe, just maybe, she'll say yes next time he asks.
It is as soft as a whisper can be.

"Marry me, Evans."

She figures he might be practicing.

So she lets him practice the next night too.
By the fifth day she is bursting at the seams. She is on the edge of her seat whenever she and James have their rare moments alone without being interrupted by some Marauder scheme. She waits in the morning, at the lunch when he came and picked her up from work, on the beautifully romantic walk they took around the Black Lake the other day when he brought her back to Hogwarts (come on that had to be it). She waits, being painstakingly patient for her daft boyfriend to bring up something, anything, about the words she is sure she has heard him whisper for the past four nights. She prays to Merlin to get it through to his thick skull that she is now prepared, aware, and willing and ready to marry him.

And just like that, her prayer is answered as an owl flies through the window and drops a single letter right in her lap.

"What's that, love?" he asks over breakfast, chewing his lamb lazily.

"It appears to be a letter from Alice, " she says slowly, opening up the letter with a newfound sense of curiosity.

"Oh!" she exclaims at once, reading down the line. "Oh! This is fantastic!"

"What is it?" James asks, peering over the table to try to catch a glimpse of the letter and its contents that have made her so excitable.

She pulls the letter to her chest quickly, a mischievous smirk dancing its way across her mouth.

"Well, it appears our good friends Alice and Frank are getting married."

She waits, for that cute little flush to side up to the back of his neck, for his hand to jump to his hair. She waits, watching his face for any kind of change, any kind of recognition that he too would like to marry her, would like to spend the rest of his life with her, would like to love her as they party with all their friends, raise little sticky hands and tiny pitter-patter footprints, and grow old and turn grey.

He smiles, a normal regular smile.

"Good for them. When's the big day?"

She gives him a forced smile back.

She wants to bang her head against the table.
She overhears James on the Floo with Sirius when she comes home a little later than usual from work.

"It needs to be perfect Padfoot. She needs to love it."

"Are you telling me you chickened out even when you brought her to Hogwarts? You told me you were ready to blurt it out any day." There's a long sigh. "You're making too big a deal out of this, Prongs" she hears Sirius reply, "Lily loves you, and she's not going to do anything to jeopardize your relationship."

"What if she's not ready?" James asks frustrated, and she can just imagine him running his hands frantically through his hair. "We're so young, and you know Lily is going to need time to come to one of these big decisions. Merlin's left buttcheck, she didn't agree to even dating me until I'd asked for seven years!"

She wants to scream. "I've had my time! Several long nights laying awake and thinking about it! And I want to marry you, you dolt!"

She's about ready to propose to him, but she doesn't have a ring, and Aice has informed her that she will ruin everything about their upcoming marriage if she starts it with a frustrated out of place proposal. So she keeps her mouth shut, as instructed. For now.

"Honestly, Prongs, just buy the girl a big enough diamond and she'll say yes to anything."

She hears James rustle around in his pocket.

"Do you think this is big enough?"

Her jaw drops open.

There's no way in all of the wizarding world that the bastard has got the ring already, and had all these opportunities, and still hasn't proposed.

She goes to bed still frustrated with him that night.

"Marry me, Evans."

She rolls over to avoid screaming at him.
She has an idea. One she is sure Alice wouldn't approve of, but one she hasn't specifically declined yet.

Well, she sort of stumbles upon the idea.

And by that she means that while she looking for a pair of socks that always get mixed in with James's in their shared wardrobe, when inside of one of his socks she finds a lump, a box shaped lump.

"It can't be," she mutters to herself, her hands running over the box over and over again. There is no way her clever, bright, top of their transfiguration class boyfriend could illegally be running around as an unregistered animagus and have the nerve to hide her engagement ring in his wardrobe of their shared bedroom. There's no bloody way.

But as she finds her Gryffindor courage to open the small, wooden box, she finds the 20,000 galleon diamond Potter family ring, modified slightly more modern and intimately for her with an engraving on the side, staring back at her from her sock drawer.

She takes it out of the box and tries it on her left ring finger, the charm sizing the ring perfectly. It is more brilliant than she can possibly imagine, trying on a symbol that will commit her to James forever. She doesn't take it off for the rest of the day.

She doesn't ever take it off.
It is the next day when James walks down the stairs a little flustered. He is still in his work clothes and is running his hand through his hair like crazy, that cute little frown at the side of his mouth.

She has forgotten she has stolen the ring from his sock drawer. She has forgotten to take the damn thing off. By now, that ring being attached to her finger is as natural as breathing.

"Love," he begins, the flush starting to creep up the back of his neck, "You didn't happen to do any laundry when you got home did you?"

"No," she replies innocently, still stirring her potion that she must have finished tomorrow for her apprenticeship. "Are you missing a shirt, love? Because I thought I saw one of yours in the living room the other day."

"No, no, not a shirt," he mumbles to himself, still poking around the kitchen.

"Anything I can do to help?" she asks.

"No, no, I'll be fine."

"Alright then."

It suddenly hits her that he might be looking for the ring.
It is Friday when she sneaks in the back door at 5:45, forty-five minutes late from the grocery store and mumbling curses and stumbling through the front door and up the stairs to quickly throw on the dress that she is supposed to be wearing to Alice's engagement which she and James are supposed to be arriving at at 6:00. She is already mentally tallying how much time it will take her to do her makeup and if she can manage that frizz charm on her hair when she tries to set foot in her bedroom but gets caught in the doorway thanks to the absolute chaos thrown about. In the middle of which stands James, looking frantically at the mountains of clothing he has created.

"James?" she asks quietly, hoping not to startle him into another episode of what appears to be a mental breakdown.

"I can't find it." He tells her, voice crazed, eyes wild. "I can't find the damn thing!". He picks up a lone sock and throws it against the wall.

"What is it? What can't you find?" She asks from her position in the doorway, voice soft and light. "Did you try 'accio'?"

"I tried everything and I can't find it!" he bellows, throwing the other sock he's holding. "I can't find it." His voice is softer and thick now and he looks so broken and so helpless that Lily feels he compelling need to comfort him and attempts to step over the abundance of clothing in her way.

She reaches him and immediately hugs him around the middle, and slowly feels his arms come around her as they both sink to the ground among the piles of clothing. She feels him let out a lone tear.

Finally, he speaks, "He told me to marry you, you know" he tells her conversationally.

She looks up at him surprised, "Who?"

He laughs, one barren and dry as he looks down at her. "My dad."

She is immediately surprised. From what she remembered about Fleamont he and James have never had a blooming relationship, considering the fact that he was a bit of a hard ass.

James continued, "Said you were a keeper and for someone to make me this happy I had to secure you or you'd leave and find someone better."

She smiles a little bit. That sounds more like his father.

She places a hand, her left hand on his cheek, and reaches up to kiss him slowly, a promise that she would never leave, that she is was always reaching for this unattainable happiness that seems now to only come in some form of James, and that she wouldn't trade that spark for the world.

They're both a little dazed as she pulls away.

"Why didn't you?" she asks, focusing on the previous topic.

"Why didn't I what?" he asks, eyes seemingly finally focusing back on her.

"Why didn't you marry me?"

He laughs and wraps her up in a hug once more.

"Honestly?" he says, "I kept chickening out. I didn't know if you were ready for all that, I mean we haven't discussed it at all, and you, you like to think about things before you make a permanent decision. I wanted to ask when we went to lunch the other day, or when we went to Hogwarts, and I was going to do it tonight after we took a nice romantic walk home from Alice and Frank's party, but I lost the damn-"

He stops, catching a glint of something as her left hand has just come to move from around his neck, and grabs it, staring her ring finger with open mouth shock.

"How long have you been wearing this?" he asks when he finds his voice again.

She blushes darker than her hair, a shade of purple, she's sure. "A day or two?" she half-asks half-guesses.

He opens and closes his mouth a few times before he jumps back in, "Where-where did you find this?"

She is defensive now, "Well I was looking for my fuzzy socks, you know the big maroon one that you always steal-"

"You mean the ones you stole from me last February?" he jokes, smile blinding.

"Yes, my maroon fuzzy socks," she continues, "And there is was, just sitting there in a pair of yours, so if you were really trying to hide it you could have at least put it somewhere that-"

He cuts her off by kissing her full on the mouth.

"Does this means it's a yes?" he asks, grinning like a fool and pressing one last kiss to her mouth.

She smirks. "Well you haven't asked me a question yet Potter."

He immediately swoops the ring off of her finger, the ring that has not left her hand in nearly 48 hours, and there, in the chaos of the their very messy room , kneels down on top of some of their shared work clothing and impishly holds up a singular ring.

"Marry me, Evans?"

She smirks back,and begins teasing him, leaving him on the edge like he has done to her for so many days "Well you've been sort of cowardly asking for the past three nights…"

He looks shocked that she knows about that but quickly recovers, "A yes or no, Evans."

"But I do rather like how that ring looks on my finger..."

"Evans," he warns.

"It's bloody annoying to be waiting for something isn't it?" she asks, "I guess I'll just have to think this over…"

"Evans!" he yells, smile wide, but a nervous glint in his eye.

"Oh of course I'll marry you , you daft idiot! I've only been wearing your ring for the past ooh-"

And he kisses her once more, full of passion and promise as they fall onto the bed, adding clothes to the existing piles on the floor.

Needless to say they were extremely late to Alice and Frank's engagement, as they were engaged in a little engagement party of their own.
And later that night, when they had used "Scourify" on every surface of their room and gone to bed, James had leaned over and quietly said, "Marry me, Evans."

And Lily rolled over and kissed him once more, and whispered what she had been dying to answer for the past seven days over and over again until they feel asleep to mantra of a promise to stay together forever.