Who: Frank Longbottom and Alice Travers What: A modest proposal When: 2017 Where: Their flat Warnings: None
After three long and gruelling years, the end of auror training was in sight. There had certainly been more than a few moments when Frank had been sure he wouldn't make it this far, though his persistence and drive had worked in overtime to the point of exhaustion or sheer delerium to pull him through it. Alongside him through it all- in one way or another- had been Alice Travers. As they progressed through training, their shared experiences and hardships had made them better friends- and, eventually, a couple. That change had come about a year into training- two years ago now- and yet, even with that passage of time, Frank was no less in awe of his luck and of, well, her. If he'd had to make a choice in who was the better auror(-to-be), it would be Alice, every time. And it wasn't even that Frank thought he'd do a poor job, once he got through their final examination. He just knew that Alice was, and always would be, better.
They'd been living together for about six months now, having combined their small London flats into… a slightly less small London flat. That knowledge, however, was kept in strict confidence- mostly so that Frank didn't have to get an earful about sin and propriety from his mother. He'd tell her. Eventually. Just not yet. (Luck was with him, in this, as Augusta been actively disinterested in ever visiting his place in London.)
With their final examination beginning the next morning, Frank had requested a quiet night in with Alice. The calm before the storm. Having settled onto the sofa with a bottle of butterbeer in hand, Frank glanced over to the clock. "Twelve hours left. You ready for this?"
Alice sat down on the sofa next to Frank, her side comfortably pressed against his. Five years ago when she’d first met him she never would have imagined that one day she’d find great comfort being near him or just touching him. Five years ago she would’ve assumed that he’d have been hexed by her at this point. But Frank Longbottom had a way of getting under her skin and turning her inside out despite all her attempts to prevent it. And she absolutely had tried to prevent it.
Still, he was a constant now that she couldn’t live without. Imagining life without Frank now was impossible, especially after all the hard work they’d gone through the past three years together. Alice folded her legs up on the sofa and placed her hand on his arm. “Of course,” she answered without hesitation. She’d always been ready for this. “And so are you.”
He slouched down just slightly, leaning back against Alice as he did. After a drink from the bottle, a small grin tugged at his lips. "Yeah, I mean, suppose I've got to be by now. And Moody said no one's died in the final examination for at least seventeen years." Sometimes Frank couldn't quite tell what was Moody's ridiculous bravado and what was offered to be legitimately concerning.
Though he was, at least, mostly certain he wouldn't reset that seventeen year streak.
“Only an idiot would die,” she said matter-of-factly. Truly though, if someone did happen to die during the exam, they obviously weren’t cut out for the job. It was as simple as that. She turned her head slightly to the side to glance at him with the tiniest of smirks on her face. “No, you’re not that much of an idiot.” While jokes had never been her strong suit, spending five years with Frank could bring it out in anyone, even Alice.
He glanced back to her when he felt her shift, raising an eyebrow as she seemed to study him, discerning something. What Frank hadn't expected- and never really did, with Alice- was a joke. It took him a beat, letting the words sink in, but then he laughed, brightly, genuinely. Even if the joke itself had been somewhat depreciating, he didn't care.
"I do love you," Frank insisted in return, still grinning. Maybe an odd response to being called half an idiot, but he wouldn't take it back.
Alice certainly had no idea where that statement had come from, but then again it was common for Frank to surprise her. She liked routine and structure and he was anything but. Frank had changed her over the years and she would admit (even if begrudgingly) it was for the better. “I love you too, Frank,” she said and squeezed his arm. “And you’re going to do fine tomorrow.”
They were well matched, really, even if it had taken them the better part of three years to realize it. Frank's easy-going buoyed by Alice's love of structure; her routines playfully upended by his willingness to take chances and make surprises.
"I know," he nodded, once, then took another drink before setting the bottle down on a small side table. "I've only wanted this since I was fourteen. It's just strange to think all of it comes down to one test, you know?"
Alice turned a little more against him when he set down his drink and placed her other hand on his knee. She knew he was nervous, but she had trouble really understanding the feeling. Alice had no doubts in her mind about her own abilities or Frank’s. “Even if by some chance you didn’t make it, you can retake the test.”
He knew that do-overs were possible, but would he take that, if it came down to it? Frank could just imagine being saddled with that mantle for the rest of his career with the DMLE. Third Try Longbottom. No thanks. No, it was tomorrow or not at all. "I won't need to." Alice was confident in him, so he had to be confident in himself. One way or another, tomorrow would decide things.
"You'll still love me if I don't make it, though, right?"
Her mouth hung open slightly as she looked at her boyfriend. He was more than that though - he was her best friend and her partner. She couldn’t think of anything that Frank could do that would possibly change that. “Don’t be ridiculous, Frank. Of course I will.” She couldn’t tell for certain if he was joking and when that was the case she always responded seriously.
He was… mostly joking, but then, that was the trouble when Frank had something serious to ask of her. Was she going to take it as a genuine question, or would she just assume he was always trying to pull one over on her?
Well, only one way to find out, you bloody Gryffindor.
"Good." Frank brought a hand up, easing a finger under Alice's jaw to close where she'd been somewhat agape at him. He kissed her, slowly, and as he did his other hand pulled a small object from his trousers pocket.
Once he'd pulled back, he offered a small smile and continued, "In that case, I was thinking I'd like to make an honest woman of you." He held open his palm, showing a simple ring there. And it was simple- no adornments, no frivolities. He'd stayed well clear of every antique heirloom his mother had once suggested, and instead bought something that- he hoped- wouldn't bother Alice to wear. "If you're interested, I mean."
The scene of Frank closing Alice’s jaw would have seemed comical if he hadn’t kissed her right after and melted all that from her brain. Kissing Frank had never once crossed her mind until a year into their training after a particularly physical day when she happened to take a good look at him and realised how much she appreciated looking at him. Things had spiraled from there, really.
Alice wasn’t certain she would have believed the proposal he offered if he didn’t have a ring in his palm. Something so simple and thoughtful and so obviously Alice because this was her best friend and of course he knew her well enough to choose something she would like. Her mouth was agape again, not that she could help it. She looked back up into his face from his hand and back down again. “Oh, Frank…”
It wasn’t often that Alice was speechless and it was safe to say she hated being so most of the time. This wasn’t one of those times. She all but threw herself into him, wrapping arms around his shoulders and kissing him again.
Mercifully, Frank had the presence of mind to close his fingers around the ring he still held before Alice all but launched herself at him. Laughing, delightedly, he caught her with an arm around her middle and returning the kiss just as eagerly.
"That's an oh Frank yes, right?" he asked, grinning against her lips before kissing her again, just to be sure.
Alice would’ve been rolling her eyes at him if she wasn’t currently kissing him. When she pulled back she looked at him pointedly. “Well, you haven’t actually asked me properly, have you?” she said in a teasing tone.
Perhaps that was true, though Frank didn't think he'd really been entirely unclear with the way he'd phrased things before. But if she wanted to be asked properly, then that was what she'd get.
He extricated himself (however reluctantly) from Alice on the sofa, stood, and then reached his free hand down to her to pull her up to standing as well. Once she had, Frank took a step backward and lowered himself to one knee. The movement wasn't entirely graceful, but it wasn't exactly something he did often.
Holding the ring up, this time between two fingers, Frank looked to Alice and offered a hopeful smile. "Alice Temperance Travers, will you marry me?"
Strangely, Alice had never imagined herself being here in this moment even though she’d heard plenty of other girls gushing over how amazing it would be when it finally happened. Extravagant affairs with flowers and chocolates and doves being released into the air. But this had been perfect, really. The easy way in which Frank had asked to begin with, as though it was not a huge change because they’d already been partners this whole time.
She gave him a sly smile. “Actually, I think I liked the first proposal better.” She held out her hand for the pomp and ceremony anyway. And maybe she secretly did feel giddy over the whole thing. Enough so that she’d forgotten to actually give him a real answer. “Of course I’ll marry you, Frank. There’s no one else I’d rather be with.”
When she declared that she like the first proposal better- even though she'd asked for this one- Frank rolled his eyes. It was unbecoming, but he couldn't help it. But then she was holding her hand out, and he waited just a beat, a breath, for her answer- her yes- before slipping the ring into place.
But rather than stand back up, Frank just kept hold of Alice's hand and tugged her down toward him- rather hoping to unbalance her, at least slightly, so she'd have to join him there on the floor, even if it meant she tumbled right into him.
Alice was looking at her hand where Frank had placed the ring and didn’t even realise what was happening before it was too late. She let out an undignified squeak of surprise as she tumbled into him, her arms flailed out to grab hold of him and not fall on her face. “Frank!” she complained indignantly as she settled onto the floor with him in a bit more comfortable of a position, one hand clutched at his upper arm and the other at his shoulders.
He was laughing, delightedly, and completely unapologetic for what he'd done. "Always knew I could sweep you off your feet, Travers," he replied, still grinning at the terrible joke- as he always did.
Frank had settled into a seated position as he'd pulled Alice in, and he leaned over to kiss her again- even if she was indignant. He didn't think she'd really mind it. "I think you mean fiance Frank," he added, after a moment more.
If she were so inclined, Alice might have considered giving him a piece of her mind, but really she was fine with it. She had just agreed to marry him, after all. She’d long ago learned to deal with his ridiculous behaviour. And maybe she even looked forward to it from time to time. “You’re ridiculous,” was all she said before he kissed her and she reciprocated without hesitation.
“If you think I’m going to refer to you as ‘fiance Frank’ whenever I speak to you, you’ve bloody lost your mind.”
At her accusation- one that he wouldn't even consider refuting- Frank just gave a little shrug of his shoulders and leaned in closer still. The refusal of the new title- even if he'd only offered it as a joke, was met with mock-indignation. "Honestly, Alice. I ask so little of you."
But then Frank was laughing again, and this time he fell back against the carpet, lying on his back with an all too pleased smile (perhaps now permanently) on his face. "Not every time. Maybe once a week. Just to keep things fresh."
Alice watched him lying back on the floor and gave a small snort at how silly he was being, but she didn’t really mind that much. She felt quite giddy herself as she looked down at her hand with the ring on. It felt odd to have the weight there yet it also felt like it had been there all along. Alice had never had any other plans besides Frank.
She crawled a bit on the floor until she could bracket both sides of his face with her hands and stare down at him with a smile. “I can call you ‘git’ once a week if that makes you feel fresh.”
His gaze followed her, and when her hands moved to his cheeks, Frank's smile didn't dim in the slightest. He could feel the very slight press of metal now, where that ring rested on her finger. That would be normal one day, but for now it was still new and exciting.
"Sure, but I'm your git."
She pressed a kiss to his mouth and pulled away slightly. “You are, Merlin help me.”