The Sugar Quill
Author: Lady Narcissa (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Four Simple Little Words  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Four Simple Little Words

Disclaimer: Bill Weasley, Fleur Delacour, and any other incidental Weasleys belong to JK Rowling. I thank her kindly for letting me take her characters for a pleasant fluffy stroll.

This story ©2005 by Lady Narcissa. Rated G. Huge thanks to Heather (my Fleur) and to Corgi (my first reader).


Will you marry me?


They were just four little words. Bill was used to things in four-word segments; from curse-breaking to magic spells, it was a part of his life. Things like take seven steps east or don’t touch the amulet or Charlie, let’s go drinking or Percy’s being a git. But this set of four words felt so much bigger than anything else. Bigger than anything he’d ever said.


In fact, he could fairly well define his life in terms of four-word directives:


Bill, clean your room.

Don’t drown your sister.

I’m going to Hogwarts.

Mum, I’m Head Boy!

I’ll work for Gringott’s.

Send me to Egypt!

Dad, I’ll stay home.


Things like that. He remembered the very first time he saw Fleur in person, in the Great Hall at Hogwarts before the final task of the Triwizard Tournament. But there had been other times: he’d managed, even in Egypt, to get his hands on the Daily Prophet any time the four champions were featured. Somewhere, tucked deep away and protected by all manner of charms, were those clippings. He remembered a few evenings after a drink or three pulling out the newspapers and running his fingers over her long silvery hair.


The way she smiled, even on paper…


Before making his decision, he didn’t talk to anybody. It was no one else’s business: not his mum’s, not his dad’s, not his brothers’, not his sister’s. He had written a note to Charlie one night but it was left unsent; it was as if he simply needed to get it out of his system, commit the words to writing so that they might give him the courage he needed to continue.


Charlie, I’m asking Fleur to marry me. Soon.


Usually, Bill was blessed with a surfeit of courage: it went well with his don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of me attitude reflected in his job, his manner of dress, his movement, his way of thinking and acting. For years no one told him what to do or how to do it; he couldn’t be fussed to let it happen now.


Except for Fleur; Bill cared what she thought more than anything. When he looked into the future—something he rarely if ever did; he was no diviner—he could see her by his side. She was beautiful now and in his mind she was beautiful then, and he didn’t approach his decision from the perspective of oh, look, Bill’s got himself a quarter-Veela, how lucky. No, that wasn’t it at all. She’d never once had to turn on that Veela charm for him: as far as he was concerned, she was pure delight. He loved her accent and the way her words got turned round when she tried to express herself in English. He loved the haughty little pout on her upturned lips. He loved the disdainful way she looked at everyone else at the Gringott’s London office, and in contrast the way her eyes lit up with an inner sparkle when he walked into the room.


He loved the way her tiny white-skinned hand felt against his. He loved the drape of her hair over her shoulders and the lines and curves of her body. He loved the way other people looked at them when they were together: all admiration for Fleur, all you bloody lucky son of a bitch to him.


More than all of that, though, he loved her mind. He loved the way she thought, and the way she feared so little, and the way their best and most important conversations happened before breakfast when no one knew she was in his room, not even his mum (who prided herself on knowing everything going on under her roof). He loved the discussions they had: they talked about literature and magic and England and France and Egypt and Gabrielle and Beauxbatons and travel. She was teaching him to speak French; he was helping her improve her English. Through it all, he loved the way she wasn’t afraid to ask him to explain the nuances of any of it.


He loved her self-confidence.


He loved her grace.


And I am back to four-word directives again: will you marry me?


There was only one way to find out.




After work was done, Bill met her just outside the bank as he did every evening. The white marble pillars were an imposing presence in Diagon Alley, but he’d seen bigger and far more impressive structures in Luxor, in Cairo, at the temple in Karnak. And the goblins didn’t bother him in the least; he ignored the way their beady little eyes followed him as he reached for Fleur’s hand and strolled off with her in the general direction of the Leaky Cauldron. They passed Madam Malkin’s and Flourish & Blott’s and the stationery shop sandwiched next to Quality Quidditch Supplies. On the other side of the street just past the Magical Instruments store and Eeylop’s, Bill stopped, directing Fleur to a tiny shop with no sign indicating what it might have sold. “In here, love.”


He turned and nodded to the shopkeeper, a middle-aged witch with a pleasant smile and rosy cheeks. “Hallo, Mr Weasley,” she said, handing him a small package before disappearing into a room hidden behind curtains.


“Beel?” Fleur turned to him, one graceful eyebrow arched, the smile fading from her mouth. “What ees…”


“Shh.” He pressed his finger to her lips. He tucked the package away into a pocket. “Fleur.”


It was at that moment that his voice left him completely; it was at that moment that the rest of the world simply seemed to shrink away into nothing. Bill swallowed hard and blinked twice and some rational part of his brain reminded him that if he could face down Sphinxes and mummies and other magical creatures, there was nothing so frightening here that he couldn’t get through this with his usual aplomb.


He cleared his throat. He fingered the fang earring. He shook back his hair.


“I think,” he said softly, “that we should…”


Bill paused.


“Step outside.” With a decisive nod he grabbed her hand and led her back into Diagon Alley. There, in the early-evening crowd he turned to face her, planting a kiss on her cheek.


“Beel?” she asked again. “What ees…”


“Shh.” Again, he pressed his finger to her lips. “I’m going to whisper it into your ear so that it’s just for the two of us.” Leaning close, he spoke so very quietly and somehow it was easier this way, holding her so tightly. “Fleur. I have a question for you.”


She nodded against him.


“Will you…” Go on, Bill, it’s only four words. Like who ate my sandwich? or my puffskein got lost or was there any mail? and yet not like any of those things. It’s only four words. “Will you marry me?”


The only sound Bill could hear was the beating of his own heart, wild and desperate against Fleur. There, he’d said it: why wasn’t she answering?


Women. He pulled back, studying the eyes that reminded him of the bluest ocean he’d ever seen, the warmest water, the most healing soothing place he could imagine. He wanted to wake up to those eyes every morning and fall asleep to them every night. “Fleur?”


A tear rolled down her cheek and he thought no, no, I didn’t mean to make you cry. I’m not that bad, am I? It’s not the worst thing I could have asked… He brushed it away softly. “Are you all right?”


Finally, a tiny sound escaped her lips. “Oui.” She sniffled, blinking hard.


“Oui, you’re all right, or oui, you’ll marry me?” For a moment, he could swear his heart simply… stopped and everything was frozen in time. There were no other sounds and there were no other smells and there were no other sights. There were no people bumping them as they passed by in their eagerness to get to the Leaky Cauldron; there were no distant sounds of laughter. There were no owls circling about Eeylop’s; there were no street vendors.


There wasn’t even a Diagon Alley. There was simply an infinite moment caught motionless in time and space.


And then Fleur smiled. “Oui… and oui, silly man. Yes. Yes to both.”


Bill laughed. “Good, or I’d have had to return this.” Taking the package from his pocket he opened it and handed her the small velveteen box within. The ring was white Egyptian gold and a sapphire begged, borrowed, or stolen from a tomb with small diamonds gracing either side. He slipped it onto her finger (the fit was perfect, just like magic) and admired the way it matched her eyes. “I love you.” He picked her up into his arms and spun her round. He carried her through the rest of Diagon Alley and through the Leaky Cauldron and out into Muggle London, a huge smile plastered onto his face.


And he didn’t give a damn what anybody thought.

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