It happened just hours ago; I had gone to visit him on his father’s farm so I could return the book of poetry he lent me. (T.S. Eliot, who must have known about the magical world, otherwise he couldn’t have written what he did about cats and mermaids.)
He took the book, but I could tell he was nervous about something because he bent the paper covers back and forth between his hands as he spoke to me. He looked agitated—excited—brilliant—handsome. I wanted to kiss him, so I asked him if I could, and then I did.
This was a different kind of kiss than the ones we had shared all summer. There was sadness in it, and hope. Then Dougal asked me if I would walk with him. I followed him out to his freshly ploughed field, the smell of the earth around us and the blue sky above, and Dougal said he wanted to ask me something “on the land that we might someday share.”
He asked me to marry him.
He had a ring in his pocket that had once belonged to his grandmother. He tucked the T.S. Eliot under his arm and held the ring towards me, bare and sparkling in the center of his palm. It was like he was holding out his heart.
And I knew, because he knew me, that he thought I might say no.
I said yes.
Later, when I was walking home, I slipped the ring off my finger and into my pocket, casting a Sticking Charm to ensure it would stay there. I suddenly realized that I didn’t know what I would tell my parents—that I would be giving up my job at the Ministry of Magic to remain in the village and marry Dougal? That I would be giving up my magic, everything I had loved for the past seven years, to stay?
So I didn’t tell them. I helped my mother with the cooking and the washing up—all done without magic, of course—and then I went upstairs to think, and now I am here.
I love Dougal. We could have a very happy life together.
But I also love magic. Which makes me think our life wouldn’t be all that happy, not over time; I would have to constantly pretend I was less than I was, knew less than I did, to fit into his world. He teases me about not knowing poetry or how to plant asparagus, but I cannot tease him about not knowing how Quidditch is played, or how to identify which gillyweed sprig will let you breathe underwater the longest. He asks me to read about cats and mermaids when I can become them.
But under it all Dougal knows me, which is why there was both love and surprise in his eyes when I accepted him. I think he knows what the real answer should be. I think I know.
But I don’t have to decide today. I don’t have to be in London until the first of September. I could carry this ring next to me a while longer.
As Eliot writes: And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea.
Even if I lose Dougal I will always have poetry. I only wish that he could also have magic.