Leap Year Fanfiction Challenge—This is in response to the challenge of writing a Leap Year fanfiction story which happens after the proposal scene on the cliff, but before the wedding.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to the film or any of the characters.
They walked back to the Caragh pub, arms wrapped around each other. Every few minutes, Declan would turn to kiss her strawberry blonde hair, taking in the scent of Irish soap and sea breeze. She already smelled like she belonged in Ireland…with him. The thought struck him like a thunderbolt. Wait…this woman said yes! This frustrating, irritating, fiery, determined, vulnerable woman said yes! To him! Declan had imagined this for the months after he had gotten his ring back from Dublin. He had kept the ring safe in his pocket, reaching in to make sure it was there several times on his trip home. Of course, the trip home was much less eventful. A bus ride took him most of the way back and then a phone call to the tow truck company to fish his classic out of the water. Other than that, however, a straight ride home. Declan didn't remember much of it really. He was too busy staring listlessly out the window, wishing Anna were there to seize his giant sandwich and toss it out the window. Of course, now when he imagined it, his mother's ring would be on her finger…
Somehow, he always imagined it happening differently. Though he would never admit the thought out loud, he couldn't help imagining that someday, things wouldn't work out between Anna and that cardiologist. That in weeks, months, even years would pass and one day, he would somehow hear news of her break-up. Then, with the money he saved up, he'd be on the first flight to America to look for her. Declan imagined a thousand different scenarios: finding her at work in those apartments which she would stage or catching sight of her through a department store window as she shopped for a companion for Louis. There, he would hope against hope that she would talk to him, look at him, give him the time of day. Then Declan would laugh inwardly at the thought. She'd probably swing her purse at the sight of him, or at least at the first thing that would come out of his mouth. The woman did have a feisty side, especially around him. It was only honesty, he'd tell himself. She should be able to take a little of that. Anna was pretty honest herself, bold and assertive as she defended her intentions to propose on Leap Day and how she saw right through him at the wedding. What was it she called him? A lion? A lovely, lovely lion. And then she puked on his shoes, he remembered with some bemusement. Somehow, though, she had come back to him, her lovely lion.
Anna's voice broke through his reverie. "You got back your mother's ring." It was more of a statement than a question.
"Yes, Bob. I retrieved my mother's ring. You're wearing it right now."
"I know, but when you proposed, you said that you wouldn't be holding this ring if it weren't for me."
"Yes, petal. I did say that. Are we just repeating obvious things now?"
Anna hit him over the shoulder. "I have a point."
"Then I suggest you get to it."
"Well, you must have known that I accepted Jeremy's proposal…at first."
"I could hear cheering from all the way down the street."
"Yet you kept this ring anyway...did you know that I would come back?"
Declan paused and exhaled sharply, running his fingers through his dark hair. "No," he finally said. "No, I did not know that you would be coming back. I thought that if there ever were a chance…Look, I would have waited years. Decades even. Even if you and I were seventy and you couldn't hear me insults anymore…well, I'd still have that ring. If I somehow got wind that you and that cardiologist weren't together, I'd be on the first plane out to Boston, the ring in one hand and your bob in the other."
Here, Declan pulled out the coin she had given to him as payment. "This one. The one thing that belonged to you which you gave to me, and this," here he held up her hand, the ring glinting in the fading sunlight. "The one thing that belonged to me which I wanted to give to you."
"I remember giving you that bob. I remember giving it to you and thinking, I'd pay all the money in the world to repeat those three days with you."
"And then that cardiologist interrupted."
"Yes, and then that cardiologist interrupted," Anna said, laughing. "His name is Jeremy."
"I don't care. All I know is that he was the man who almost had you."
Anna paused for a moment, thinking. "Declan, what were YOU about to say?"
"About what? That cardiologist?"
"No, after I gave you the bob, you turned to leave but then I heard you call out my name. If Jeremy hadn't interrupted, what would you have said?"
"I would have said, 'Don't propose to him.'"
"And what if I had asked you why?
"Because he complains about your chicken being dry."
Anna hit him again. "No really! What would you have said?"
Here Declan turned to face her and wrapped his fingers around her arms. "I would have said, 'Because if there's any man who gets to wake up next to you every day, then I would want it to be me.'"
"I'm not done yet."
Anna shut up.
"I would have said, 'If there's any man who gets to kiss you goodnight before he goes to sleep, if there's any man who gets to spend every day with you calling you his wife, if there's any man who gets to be caught in hailstorms with you, if there's any man who gets to crash weddings with you, or climb through castles with you, or miss the train with you, or bicker about Louis with you, or any number of other crazy, unfortunate things, I would want that man to be me."
"Declan…" Anna breathed. Then she remembered: "Wait, are you done?"
"One last thing. If there's any woman I want around to wreck my car and drive me crazy, I would want it to be you," Declan finished with a laugh, which was cut short by a kiss, which was cut short by him sweeping up Anna into his arms and carrying her all the way back to pub.