Who: Terence Higgs, Gwen Montgomery
Where: Town Square
When: 13 September 2001, evening
Terence had tried very hard to justify why the fireworks he had pushed for were three times the going rate. Of course, that was because there was a hidden component beyond the regular five-minute show he thought the plebs would enjoy, but he couldn’t well tell Gwen he’d planned to spell out “Gwen, I love you. Will you marry me?” 100 feet in the air with pyrotechnics. He’d thought of doing a much more complicated message — money wasn’t an object, of course — but a demonstration showed the words ended up being too small. Less was better. It’d be highly embarrassing if it couldn’t be read.
“Look, fireworks,” said Terence, giving her a nudge.
“Ah yes,” Gwen said, nudging him back with a cheeky smile, “the most expensive firework display in Great Britain.”
Inwardly, she had to admit that she was rather looking forward to whatever Terence had up his sleeve. The cost of the firework display meant it couldn’t possibly be just your basic bursts of color. No, she was expecting something typically Ter to surprise them all. She just hoped it wouldn’t be a giant firework snake eating a giant firework badger or something like that. She’d rather he not be the next murder victim if it could be avoided.
Slipping an arm around his waist, she snuggled into his side and kept her eyes on the sky.
“Any minute now,” muttered Terence to himself. Ugh, why did he have to watch all these other fireworks first? Sod the crowd, he should have just come right out with it. The ring felt heavy in his pocket. He clenched his fingers around the box.
“Yeah, but worth every knut. As I hope you’ll agree.”
“I’m sure I will,” Gwen said indulgently but with a fond smile. It was a very nice firework display thus far. However, the tension in Terence only confirmed her suspicion that this wasn’t going to be just any old firework display.
She knew the minute whatever it was he was planning started. There were suddenly far more bits of light shooting up into the sky. When they exploded, however, they didn’t make shapes. They formed brilliant, sparkling letters which hung in the sky in a manner that Muggle fireworks could never have achieved.
G. W. E. N. I. L. O. V. E. Y. O. U. W. I. L. L. Y. O. U. M. A. R. R.
Gwen’s internal spelling trailed off as she realized exactly what the message said and her jaw dropped. Had Terence just proposed to her with actual, literal fireworks in front of the entire town? From the hush that had descended upon the crowd and then then the excited chattering that began as if everyone found their voices again all at once, he absolutely had.
“Terence!” she sputtered, grinning like an idiot.
“Stupid last letter is lopsided,” Terence tried to say, but he too was grinning in the same idiotic manner. Suddenly, it all felt… like he wanted to either burst into laughter or cry. This was the most emotional he’d been in a lifetime.
He got down on one knee — tradition was tradition, after all — and took her hand. “Gwen, Gwen, Gwen… what can I say?” He had to stop talking to let out an implacable smile. “Well, I hope you were watching because I’ve forgotten my lines now.”
Gwen felt a bit like laughing or crying herself. She never imagined, all those years ago on the deck of the Durmstrang boat when she was drunk and he’d offered to keep the other boys at bay so she’s never have to deal with love again, that they’d end up here. She was incredibly grateful that she had somehow.
“Yes!” she said, squeezing his hand tightly and nodding. “Yes, yes, of course, yes. Now get off the ground and kiss me, stupid!”
He thought she’d say yes, he was 99% sure she’d say yes, but it wasn’t until she had actually said yes that Terence realised why he’d been tense earlier; oh, the relief. His hands still shook a little as he slipped the ring onto her finger.
“I am so, so happy,” Terence said, getting back to his feet and putting his arms around her. It was a long kiss.
“Do you want to get out of here, before your sisters swamp us?” he murmured.
“Yeah,” Gwen said, nodding quickly and then kissing him again. It was probably bad form to ditch your own party, but she honestly couldn’t care less right now. “They can congratulates us later.”
Right now she just wanted Ter all to herself.
Terence grinned. He apparated them both back to his flat. “Um, I packed a few things in advance,” he said. “So we could either stay here, barricade the doors, or I’ve got a Portkey to Vienna.” He kissed her. “Your choice.”
Well, well, well. Gwen had always suspected Terence was a closet romantic (much to her sisters’ scoffing disbelief), and if tonight didn’t prove her correct, she didn’t know what would. She grinned widely and kissed him again.
“Vienna. I’ve always wanted to twirl around on top of an Austrian mountain before marrying a naval captain with seven children. But I suppose you’ll do in a pinch.”
Yeah, he’d do.