They met on the train.
The first time, it was the Hogwarts Express.
He was going back for his third year as a popular Gryffindor, she was a Muggle-born, still getting over the shock of it all – magic, being a witch. It was like being in a fairytale.
He ended her fairytale, and the fears caught up to her.
Fear of failure, rejection, having no friends.
He ended it when she knocked into him.
"Oi!" he said, "Watch where you're bloody well going!"
She was frightened, intimidated. He shoved past her.
She trudged to the nearest empty compartment and whispered to herself, whilst holding back tears, "You're better than him."
He grew up.
She forgot about him.
His sister was pregnant, at just eighteen, and this scared him. He realised how close he was to becoming an adult.
He tried harder in class and got better grades. His popularity increased tenfold, but this time, he didn't want it. He wanted to be himself.
She became a Hufflepuff, and was happy, with her two closest friends. There were ups and downs, but she had always been a hard worker, and was fine with what she had.
On the way back from his sixth year, he held the train door open for her. He didn't know her name.
She smiled gratefully. She didn't know his face.
After being Head Boy, he got a job at the ministry.
Everyday, he took the train to the ministry. He always sat alone.
He hated it.
All of it. How people didn't see him for who he was. Only as a Weasley, Hugo Weasley, who was the son of Hermione and Ron Weasley. How he knew he only got this job because he was a Weasley.
Eventually, he quit.
She was never Head Girl, but she was fine with it.
She got good grades, grades she had worked for, and she didn't mind not being popular.
She had always known what she wanted, and those closest to her had often joked, but in a way seriously, that she could easily have been a Slytherin for her ambition.
But she was humane, kind.
Eventually, she became a Healer.
She took the train to Healer school everyday.
She never gave up.
He wanted to do good in the world. He wanted to go to Healer school.
And so he did.
They were in the same year, though he started a week later.
He jumped onto the train at the last minute. She was early, as usual.
She looked up from her book as he sat across from her.
He gave a half-smile as he caught his breath.
She looked back down, and stifled an eye-roll.
They thought they knew each other from somewhere, but they weren't sure.
Until they got off the train.
She thought he was following her.
He didn't notice that they were going the same way.
It was only when they both walked into the side street where the entrance to Healer school was that she burst out, "Are you following me?"
He blinked. Once, Twice. "Ermm, no." He hesitated, "Sorry, do I know you?"
She frowned, "I don't think so...but I recognise you."
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"Well." she paused, "School."
She gaped at him. Was he a wizard? "What's your name?"
He sighed, "Weasley."
It clicked for her, and she remembered all the times their paths had crossed.
He, too, remembered, but in a very different way.
Everyday, she got on the train early.
Everyday, he would jump on at the last minute and give her a half-smile.
One day, she started to return them.
"Why don't you apparate to school?" she asked one train journey.
He looked her in the eyes, and said seriously, "The same reason that you don't."
They both knew that the train was an escape.
Once, she wasn't on the train.
He jumped on as usual, upbeat and chirpy, until he found that she wasn't there.
The train left, and he was left wondering about where she was.
After school that day, he texted her, a message saying:
Where were you today? You missed out; I bought popcorn for the train. (They often brought food to share.)
She replied later in the day:
Family issues. I'll be in next week.
This was when he realised he cared for her a lot more than a friend would.
Her father had died, and this had destroyed her.
She cried everyday, and had never felt so alone.
Four days later, he showed up at her door.
She opened it.
"Hugo," she began, "Now's not really the best time..."
"Nonsense." he said, shoving his way inside, "What's going on? You haven't talked to me for days, I thought I'd give you some space, but you can't just expect me to not..."
He broke off when he realised she was crying.
It was strange for him. He hardly ever saw people cry. The Weasleys were a tough family. The last time his mum and dad had cried was at their first grandchild's birth. His sister had cried when she got pregnant, and he himself had only cried when he was younger.
He watched her, transfixed, unsure on what to do.
"WELL?" she yelled, snapping him out of his trance, "YOU WANTED TO SEE ME, AND NOW YOU CAN! LOOK AT ME, HUGO! LOOK! I'M..." she sobbed, "broken."
It broke his heart.
She sobbed uncontrollably, and he took her in his arms, and guided her to the sofa where she slumped against him, tears running onto his shirt.
"Em...shhh," he stroked her hair, "Emma...tell me what happened."
"M-m-my dad," she gasped.
"Oh, Em." he hugged her tight.
They sat there, like that for what seemed like years, centuries, even. When she had calmed down, she said in a small voice:
"Promise me something."
He meant it.
"Promise me...you'll never leave."
"I'd never leave you, Emma."
The next day, he went on the train with her, to the funeral.
"I'm okay, Hugo. I'm okay."
He looked her in the eye, her eyes were dull, and slightly bloodshot, but he saw past that. She was coping.
And that was enough for him.
She realised something, at her father's funeral.
She loved Hugo.
She was pretty sure it wasn't platonic, either, from the way she looked at him.
He was tall, with scruffy brown hair, and an uncountable amount of freckles.
His eyes were like...chocolate. Almost like liquid, the way they shined.
He locked eyes with her, at that point, and both their eyes brimmed full with tears.
She let hers fall onto her cheeks.
He brushed them away softly with his thumb, never letting go of her hand.
He was strong for her.
They graduated a month later.
They cheered for each other.
They were best friends.
They took the train to St Mungo's (or work as they now called it), together, everyday.
"EMMA!" yelled a voice coming from her living room, around six months later.
She ran into the room, "Hugo?"
His head was sticking out of her fireplace.
"What's up?" she said.
"I need a favour..."
He loved how she always listened.
"Right, well, you know how Albus is getting married next week?"
"Well, here's the thing: apparently, I'm supposed to have a date as one of the groomsmen, and I don't, so..."
"You want me to set you up again?" she groaned, "Hugh, you've already dated half the girls I know..."
He dated them in an attempt to get over her.
Clearly, it wasn't working.
"Well." he looked sheepishly at her, "I was kind of hoping that...well...maybe..."
"Spit it out then." she crossed her arms.
"Okay," he sighed, "D'youwanttobemydateforthewedding?"
She stared at him, dumbfounded.
"What?" she whispered.
He groaned, "Oh, don't make me ask again, I've already had enough teasing from James about this...honestly, cousins." he muttered, "Okay fine, do you want to –"
"I heard you the first time," she said.
"Well then?" he bit his lip nervously.
A grin spread over her face, "Thought you'd never ask."
She ran out of the room.
"What? EM! Was that a yes?" he groaned. "Women."
The next week, he showed up at her door.
She opened it, still in her shorts and t-shirt.
He smirked, "You coming to the wedding like that?"
She smiled, "Well you know me, comfort over fashion any day."
He grinned, "You make it work."
She blushed and he came into her flat.
"You clean up nicely, by the way."
He cleared his throat. These dress robes were extremely irritating to wear.
"I'm not so sure about the bow tie, though, who tied it?"
The tips of his ears went red, like his dad's always did. "Me."
She smirked. "No wonder."
She walked over to him, closer and closer and closer, until she was right in front of him, pulling at the bow tie.
She untied it, and he felt the fabric shifting on his neck.
He gulped, and his Adam's apple bobbed up and down.
She smirked, eyes twinkling as she whispered, "Nervous, Hugh?" Her breath fanned over his chin.
He looked her in the eye, "Never."
She finished tying it, and was about to step away, when he grabbed her waist, pulling her body flush against his.
"Yes?" she asked innocently.
"Em..." he groaned, "You're killing me..."
"Aww, Hugo." she grinned devilishly, "I'd never do that to you."
And with that, she ran off to her room to get ready.
"Every fucking time." he groaned.
They took the train together to the wedding.
They looked odd, him more so, with his wizard's robes, and her with her dress, glimmering in the sunrise.
It was snowing when they got off the train.
They walked up the hill together, shoving each other playfully, when he stopped and grabbed her hand instead. She swung round to face him.
"I need to tell you something." He tucked a stray lock of blonde hair behind her ear.
"Yes?" Her heart beat faster.
"Hugo," she said softly, "It's okay."
"You look really beautiful, Emma."
She blushed. "So do you."
She didn't know what else to say.
He thought about it, what she had said, then made a choking sound in the back of his throat, and he said incredulously, "Beautiful?! No, no, no, you mean manly, handsome, sexy, hot...not beautiful."
She giggled at his horrified face, "Alright, Hugo, you manly, sex-on-legs man, let's get you to this wedding."
He wished she meant it.
She wished she was marrying him.
Two weeks later, they were at the Weasley Sunday dinner, held every week at the Burrow.
Emma often tagged along with Hugo, she was close to not only him, but got along well with Rose and Lily, and Hermione and Molly (Senior) adored her.
It was as dinner finished that Hugo stood up.
"Hugo?" said Lily, "What on earth are you doing?"
He was standing up on his chair. "I have an announcement to make."
Everyone looked up at him. "Right." he said, already turning red, "Okay. I can do this."
He took a deep breath.
"Emma Sanders. I need to tell you how I feel."
Everyone started whispering. He ignored them.
"I love you, Emma. I have done for ages, even before I properly realised it that day when you weren't on the train."
Her eyes were glued to his. She couldn't believe it.
"So, Emma, now you know. I'm wearing my heart on my sleeve and only ask you if you want it."
He jumped down from the chair, and took her hands in his.
"Emma." he whispered, "Say something. Please. Anything."
"I'm...I'm," she locked eyes with him. "I love you too."
His lips crashed down onto hers. It was explosive.
In that moment, everything, everyone, vanished.
It was just them.
Emma and Hugo.
Hugh and Em.
And that's the way it was meant to be.
He proposed on a train.
There weren't any people on it, he had hired out the entire thing, and it wasn't cheap, but he didn't mind.
She was worth it.
"I need to tell you something."
She smirked. "This sounds familiar."
He gulped. She frowned.
"Hugh? What is it?"
He didn't reply. His face paled.
"Hugo...you're not...breaking up with me, are you?"
He laughed, almost hysterically.
"What? Hugo, stop laughing at me. WHAT?"
"S-sorry, Em, but it's just. So. Damn. Funny! I mean, here I am, worrying about this, and you think I'm going to break up with you?!" He snorted with laughter.
"Well then," she said, crossing her arms, "Why don't you tell me what you are worrying about then?"
He fell silent and got up, nodding to his reflection in the train's window, as if reassuring himself.
"Hugo?" she asked, "What're you doing?"
He dropped down onto one knee in front of her. She gasped.
"Hugo." she whispered.
He grinned nervously.
"Emma. I've loved you for the longest time. You're amazing. You're my best friend, my lover, my girl, and I, really, really, want to make you my wife. So, I have to ask you something. Emma Sanders, will you marry me?"
There was a pregnant pause, then,
"Yes." she whispered, so quietly that he had almost thought that he had imagined it.
He stared at her.
"Yes. Definitely yes. Oh my bloody Merlin, yesyesyes!" She stood up and so did he.
"You sure about that?" he smirked against her forehead, lips brushing against it, "You don't sound so certain."
"You prat." she slapped his arm playfully, "You're such a prat."
A tear fell from his eye, and landed on her shoulder. She looked up.
"Hugo? You okay?"
He hadn't even realised he was crying.
"Okay? I'm bloody fantastic!" he yelled, laughter bubbling through his tears as he swung her around. She squealed as they fell over when the train came to an abrupt stop.
He landed on top of her, and supported his weight on his hands as he kissed her softly.
When they broke apart, she asked slowly, "Hey, Hugh? Do I...you know...get a ring?"
"SHIT!" he swore. "Shitty shit shit...I've gone and ruined everything..." he sat up and held his head in his hands. "I've got it as well...bloody hell, it was meant to be perfect..." he groaned.
He stopped when he realised she was giggling. "What?" he asked, "What?"
"It's just," she laughed, "You're so silly, Hugh. It is perfect. You. For me."
"Really?" he looked at her through his fingers, removing them slowly from his face, "Well, it's here anyways..."
He rummaged through his pocket and retrieved a velvety blue box, which he opened and showed her.
Her mouth fell open.
"Merlin, Hugo...it's perfect."
"And so are you." he said, kissing her nose.
He took the ring from the box and slid it easily onto her finger. It glimmered in the sunset. The ring was a diamond in the centre, not too big, not too small, and it was offset by tiny peridots.
She smiled at the obvious effort he had put into the ring, the diamond was her birthstone and the peridot was his.
"It's, umm, goblin made. I got Rose to come along when I got it, you know, she's good at bargaining with all sorts..." he rambled, but was silenced by a kiss.
"I love it." she whispered against his lips, "And I love you."
And they got off the train.
They reflected, (on their wedding night a year after) that their relationship was a lot like a train journey.
You get on, and there's stops, and starts, and ups, and downs. There are the good parts, and the not-so-good parts.
But at the end of the day, it's a journey, and one of many.
And when you get off, well, that's only the beginning.