It was at around three in the morning when I heard the front door slam. I hadn't been able to sleep very well for the few weeks prior since Al had decided to start traveling again and spent three weeks in America. As a result, while I was normally a heavy sleeper, I had become restless and woke up to the smallest noises. Like that door.
I was up in seconds, grabbing my wand and tip-toeing to my door to peek at the front of the apartment. I didn't know what I was expecting, but definitely not what I found.
My wand clattered to the floor and I ran, practical leaping into Al's arms. He only just let go of the luggage in time to catch me, back slamming against the door. He didn't seem to notice, if his grin was any indication.
"Hi," I said breathlessly, still clinging to him.
"Are you smug?" I asked in disbelief, leaning back a little. He shrugged sheepishly, and I quickly pressed my lips to his to wipe the smirk off his face. He didn't need to know how much I missed him.
But he figured it out, and if his enthusiasm was any indication, he missed me pretty badly, too. I kissed him hard, yanking on his collar to bring him closer, nearly pinning him to the door. He only let me come up for air for a second before kissing me deeply.
I didn't think he would've remembered our anniversary in time to come back home.
He forgot our first anniversary. I didn't really mind; hell, it was a bit blurry to when it actually was. We decided to keep it to our wedding day, and even if it wasn't really the day we got together, neither of us could remember the real day, anyway. After he'd forgotten the first one, we decided to make sure we reminded each other, especially when we wanted to do something special. We hadn't always been able to spend them together, and that was fine, but like I said... this time, I was hoping he'd come home.
I missed him a lot this time.
Al used to travel a lot more. I was surprised how much I'd wanted him around; after all, I was busy with work and Julie and didn't really have time to think about it. But I missed the little things he did. Like wrestling with him to get out of bed in the morning. Kissing me before work. Watching him play with Julie at night. His presence left a hole in my life, and that hadn't happened when we were younger. I didn't really know why it was so different this time.
Al hummed against my lips, and I smiled. "Happy Anniversary."
"Happy Anniversary," he replied, pulling away with another sheepish look. "Sorry I didn't bring any flowers this time."
"You got them last year, it's okay," I said, chuckling. "They die in a week, anyway."
"I got you and Julie some stuff," he told me, nodding towards his luggage.
"I don't really care about stuff," I said, wrapping my arms around his shoulders and burying my face in his neck. "I missed you. We missed you."
"I missed you, too," he admitted, wrapping his arms around me and holding me. A sudden silence fell over us. Comfortable. Sleepy, almost. Just remembering.
Ten years ago, when Al had first proposed, we'd been stubbornly independent. I never would've thought I'd feel this way about anyone. I didn't need anyone, and I thought it was foolish to trust everyone who came my way. Ten years ago, I had no choice but to put my trust in him.
And him in mine.
I was hard to think that two people who felt so damaged on the inside and out would fit each other. Perhaps it was why we could never give up on each other, because we understood what we both felt, and who could give up on a connection like that? And sometimes I still felt those scars, and even though Al hadn't ever set out to heal them, he somehow soothed the pain in the wound, and all was left was the mark.
All of that was the past. We made it through the new Death Eater revolution. The ministry had been rebuilt to better serve the wizarding community - no prejudice. Al and I had gotten married again. We had a daughter. We'd become a permanent part in each other's lives, and I still couldn't grasp that concept properly.
And I didn't really need to.
"Can't believe it's been ten years," Al admitted quietly.
"I remember whining about the lack of chocolate cake."
"I remember that, too."
"I was a little shit."
"You still are," I teased, leaning up to peck him on the cheek. "Who was annoyed when Julie had that carrot cake on her birthday?"
"You," he lied, cheeks turning red, but he was laughing. "I was scared of you back then."
"Definitely not," he said smugly, kissing me before I could retort. I let this one go. I was too happy to see him.
And apparently so was Julie.
We broke apart just as she reached us, and Al lifted her off her feet and into the air. She loved that.
"What are you doing up?" he asked, pressing a kiss onto her cheek and letting her down. "Way past your bedtime."
"I woke up and the lights were on," she said, seemingly unconcerned. Her attention was at the baggage on the floor. "What did you get me?"
Al broke into a grin and began helping her unzip his bags, right there in the hall. He had a smile that was just for his daughter. I always thought that was silly, when I heard people talking about different smiles and expressions reserved for certain people, but I couldn't find any other way to describe it. He slipped his arms around me as Julie started rummaging through his things.
I felt warm inside. I felt part of something.
Ten years ago, I could barely stand him. The last thing I wanted was to get married to someone I didn't know and didn't want to know. I didn't have to agree, even then - but something made me agree to his proposal.
And I ended up basing my life on that moment.
A/N: Guys, this it is. Say goodbye to Emily and Al. No more scenes or extras. We're done. AHHH.
For the last time: thank you so much for reading this story. I can't describe how much your support has meant to me. If I could thank you all individually, I would. I just want to hug you all. THANK YOU.
Love you guys. :)