Tell the world that we finally got it all right
I choose you
I will become yours and you will become mine
I choose you
I choose, choose you
i choose you by sara bareillies
Their friends had no idea it was happening.
Neville Longbottom had grown up in a rough part of Manchester, thought about becoming a priest until he decided he couldn't live the rest of his life without sex and had ended up at St. Andrews as a psychology student with no direction. Seamus Finnigan had grown up in the considerably more well-off city of Killarney in Ireland, grew tired of the Church long before he ever realized his sexuality, and surprised his entire family by taking off for university in Scotland to be a solicitor instead of taking over the family restaurant. Seamus had been there for two days before he ran into Neville for the first time, and it was a meeting that would change both their lives.
Not that either of them realized that at the time, because Seamus had, literally, just run into Neville.
Neville had three boxes full of books in his hands and was trying to make his way to his residence hall when he came around a bend in the path and Seamus, who'd had his head down checking his watch, had run directly into him. The boxes and Neville and Seamus all went crashing to the ground, and when their eyes had met for the first time, there wasn't even a spark. Neville had rolled his eyes and started picking up his books; Seamus had murmured a brief apology and gone back to his run.
They didn't see one another again for three months until Neville settled down at the bar in Ma Bells while Seamus was working behind it. Neville looked miserable and out of place after a lengthy fight over the telephone with his grandmother over his studies; Seamus felt bad for him and made him stronger drinks than he ordered. Neither one remembers who started the conversation; all they remember is that the night ended with Neville in Seamus's bed.
Neville went crawling back to his residence hall the next morning before Seamus woke up; Seamus slept in and missed his first two classes. Neville was too embarrassed about what had happened to go back to Ma Bells; Seamus had so many one night stands that this one was practically forgotten about by noon the next day.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” had begun.
Harry had eventually been the one who coaxed Neville into going back to Ma Bells when he had asked him to come to the small bar just in case Harry needed a quick out if his date didn't work out. Neville put a baseball hat on, settled down at a table in the back, and tried to read while Harry was having an awkward first date in front of the bar. The girl didn't stay long – Neville hadn't really expected her to, but he'd been hoping for Harry – and soon Harry had dragged him from the back to the bar, and Neville was blushing his way through drink orders once he realized Seamus was still a bartender there.
Seamus, to his credit, recognized Neville, recognized how embarrassed Neville was, and exploited it for all it was worth. (To this day, Neville calls him a bastard whenever the night is brought up; Seamus and Harry just laugh at him.) It wasn't long before Harry's attentions were taken away by a girl from one of his classes, and it was just Neville at the bar, blushing more every time Seamus said something to him. Seamus kept him plied with alcohol, kept him talking about his psychology course, and kept him interested in going back to Seamus's again.
The next morning, Neville woke up in Seamus's bed to find Seamus already awake and watching him. There had been a brief, brief conversation before Seamus had pounced upon him once more, and neither of them made it to any of their classes that day. Harry finally called Neville around four in the afternoon because he was concerned, and Seamus silently laughed as Neville blushed his way through explaining where he'd spent the night and most of the day. Not long after that, Neville slipped out of Seamus's flat with his hat pulled down low on his head, with plans to meet up with Harry in an hour to go over what he'd missed in the classes they shared, and with plans to meet up with Seamus again following that for some more sex.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was firmly on.
Two months later, Neville swore to Harry that he was never going to see Seamus ever again, never going to Ma Bells ever again, never going to miss a class to fuck a hot guy ever, ever again. It took Harry two days to get the story out of him, but Neville eventually confessed to thinking that there was more than just sex to his relationship with Seamus, while Seamus didn't view what they were doing as a relationship at all. Harry agreed that Seamus sounded like someone Neville had better stay away from, Neville silently thanked him for not asking for more information because he really didn't want to tell him that Seamus was having no problems finding other bar patrons to go home with on nights when Neville couldn't be there, and that was that.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was firmly off.
Neville's ban on Ma Bells lasted exactly three months, two weeks, and five days. Harry had a girlfriend by then, and Ginny was insistent that the only way he was ever going to find a boyfriend for himself was to go out there and look for one. Neville said he'd go out with the two of them and for them to pick the place, and then found himself led directly into Ma Bells on a night when Seamus was working. He almost turned around and left on the spot, but Ginny had grabbed a hold of him, dragged him to the bar, and started ordering drinks. Neville kept his head down, even when Seamus greeted him, and grabbed his drink and headed to a table in the back before he could say a word.
He had not wanted to admit to how much he missed Seamus, but Harry took one look at him and Neville realized he had no choice but to admit it. Ginny, hearing the story for the first time, found the whole thing fascinating, and swore she could tell just from the way that Seamus had looked at him that he wasn't the callous jerk that Neville was making him out to be. Neville had never been more thankful than when Harry and Ginny disappeared for the night because he really didn't want to talk about Seamus anymore.
Still, he stayed until the end of Seamus's shift, looked up when Seamus slid into the seat that Harry had left empty, and listened when Seamus asked him if he wanted to have dinner one night that week. He got the yes out somewhere between Ma Bells and Seamus's flat when Seamus's lips left his long enough for Neville to do more than just gasp in some air to breathe.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was firmly back on.
When the end of Neville's first year at St. Andrews came, he had a choice to make – return to Manchester and his grandmother, with whom his relationship had remained frosty since that fight over the telephone, or go to Ireland with Seamus for the summer, knowing that if he did so, his tuition was likely going to stop being paid and his grandmother would never let him come back home again. Seamus made a convincing case for him and Ireland and Neville had always wanted to see Ireland. But there was a lot of stuff about that trip that made Neville wary, like the “meeting the parents” thing, and the “having to pretend they weren't in a relationship” thing, and the “Seamus wouldn't admit they were in a relationship anyway” thing.
In the end, Neville decided he needed a career more than he needed a guy who wouldn't even admit to dating him when pressed with the question, so he went back to Manchester and his grandmother. Seamus didn't answer his calls on the few times Neville tried to make contact with him and Neville figured that was that. He told Harry through an email that he thought Seamus had been nothing more than one, gigantic, year-long mistake. Harry concurred.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was firmly back off.
Harry and Ginny dragged Neville to Ma Bells the first night all three of them were back at St. Andrews. Seamus was there tending bar. Their eyes met from across the room. This time, there was a spark. Neville woke up in Seamus's bed the next morning. Seamus made him breakfast.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was firmly back on.
It was Ginny that coined the phrase “the longest on/off relationship EVER” sometime during the holiday break of Neville's third year of university, because by that point his relationship with Seamus had been on, off, on, off, back on, and the decidedly back off again. Neville was staying with Harry and Ginny at Ginny's parents for the break, and Ginny was telling a fellow St. Andrews student, Dean Thomas, all about Neville and Seamus when the phrase manifested itself into their lingo. Neville had hated it. Dean had laughed.
Neville called Seamus one night to wish him a happy Christmas, thinking that at the very least he should be friendly. He heard a decidedly male voice in the background and hung up before he could say a word. Then, just to spite Seamus, he fucked Dean for the rest of the break.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was firmly off, and the “seeing other people era” began.
Neville, Harry, and Ginny were sharing a flat that year. It didn't take much to talk them into Dean moving in. It didn't take Neville much talking to convince Dean to move in either. Harry and Ginny stayed silent when Dean moved directly into Neville's room, but they didn't stay silent when the bruises started appearing on Neville's skin. Neville tried to tell them that it was fine, that he didn't mind, that rough was good sometimes and maybe they should try it. But there was a particularly loud scream of pain one night, and one highly embarrassing moment when Harry and Ginny kicked down the door to his room later, Dean was on the streets, and Neville started staying in the flat more than usual.
Seamus, in the meantime, had started sleeping with one of Neville's professors, so Neville was forced to see them together all over town. Neville started staying even more in the flat, and that professor stopped being one of Neville's favorites. That lasted for about three months, during which Neville inquired four times if he absolutely had to have that class for graduation before there was a very public breakup in the middle of the grocery of all places. Harry and Ginny, concerned with Neville's isolationism since the end of the Dean affair, dragged him to Ma Bells, planted him in a chair at the bar, and told him and Seamus to fix it.
Neville woke up in Seamus's bed the next morning.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was back on, and the “seeing other people era” was over.
They were about to graduate and Seamus had announced he'd be doing the next part of his law degree in Edinburgh. Neville tried to talk him into staying at St. Andrews, but Seamus said he'd had enough of the small town and he needed a much bigger city. Neville had gotten very quiet and hurt until Seamus had pulled him close and made sure he realized that this didn't mean he'd had enough of Neville. They were just going to have to wait to be together.
Neville was relieved because somewhere along the line, he'd realized he'd fallen in love with Seamus. He didn't tell him that, however. He didn't think it was the appropriate time. Still, they spent so much time having sex that they barely made it to their graduation.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was put on hold.
Seamus met an American man named Kevin in Edinburgh and couldn't help himself.
Neville found out in an email.
Harry and Ginny wanted to go to Edinburgh to kill him, but Neville wouldn't let them. After all, all he wanted was for Seamus to be happy, even if it wasn't with him.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was back off.
Neville was pursued by a woman named Luna for the rest of the year. He tried telling her that he was gay; she seemed not to notice. Eventually, he just gave in to it, because it was nice to have someone else to talk to while Harry and Ginny were flirting or dancing or kissing. Still, at the end of the year, he made it very clear that despite some kisses and one drunken night that Neville never wanted to remember ever, there was absolutely nothing going on between them. Luna was upset, Neville stressed that he was gay, Harry and Ginny filled the awkward silence with tales of "the longest on/off relationship EVER."
By the end of it, Luna was feeling sorry for Neville instead of herself. Neville didn't even want to think about what that meant about his longing for Seamus.
Meanwhile, American Kevin in Edinburgh turned out to be an asshole. Neville found this out in another email and tried to tell himself he didn't care. Instead, he called Seamus up and spent all night talking to him.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was something, but neither of them was sure what.
Seamus was a year into his traineeship in Edinburgh when Neville decided to transfer. Harry and Ginny assumed that Neville would move to Edinburgh to be closer to Seamus, even if they had no idea why Neville was continuing to associate himself with the man. But Neville didn't move to Edinburgh; he moved to Newcastle to continue his postgraduate study because he was more determined than ever to become a psychologist, especially since his grandmother thought it was useless.
Edinburgh was roughly two and a half hours from Newcastle by car. They traded off weekends, Neville making the trip one week, Seamus the next. And somehow, seeing each other for two days a week, with a five hour round trip drive involved in that, made them realize how important the other was to them. Neville finally told Seamus that he was in love with him. Seamus finally realized that he loved Neville back.
Harry and Ginny monitored the situation from London, but after a weekend in which all four of them met up, they gave Neville their approval again. “Seamus's a good guy when he's not being an asshole” was the phrase used by Harry, but Ginny stuck with the tried and true.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was back on, and they were in love.
It had taken Seamus seven years, much of which was spent convincing his family that he knew was he was doing when he said he wanted to live and work in Scotland, but he was finally a solicitor. He got a job offer in Edinburgh, and given the state of the job market, both he and Neville knew the smart thing to do was to accept it, so Seamus stayed in Edinburgh while Neville was still working on his postgraduate studies in Newcastle. But with the hours he had to spend on his work, Seamus started to spend more time in Edinburgh by himself, canceling weekends with Neville before Neville could even bring them up.
Neville called him at four in the morning one night and heard a female voice in the background. Seamus tried to explain that it was just Padma, they were just working on a case, but Neville knew what Seamus sounded like when he was drunk, and Seamus was drunk. He didn't give him any more time to explain, just hung up the phone and refused to answer it when Seamus called him back.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was back off, and as far as Neville was concerned, it was for good.
Neville wanted to be close to his aging grandmother once he graduated, but he didn't want to live in Manchester, so he moved to Liverpool. He got a job, he found a flat to live in, and he tried to move on with his life. After a while, he fell into a rhythm, and soon, he was only thinking of Seamus ever other day instead of every day. But he hadn't spoken to Seamus in almost two years, and he was slowly coming to terms with the fact that it was really, truly, over for good.
Then, six months after he'd moved to Liverpool, he walked into a cinema and saw Seamus at the counter, getting popcorn. Seamus turned to look in his direction, and when their eyes met, it said everything that they couldn't. Neville took a deep breath and walked over to him, found out they were seeing the same film and started laughing. Seamus slung an arm around Neville's shoulders as they walked into the theater, Neville held the popcorn as they settled down into seats, and by the time the film was over, dinner was a foregone conclusion.
By the time dinner was over, they'd established that Seamus had been offered a better job in Liverpool and had just moved there a month earlier, they were living within four blocks of each other, and time apart had only made Seamus realize that what they had was what he wanted. He wanted Neville, no one else. Neville made it clear that it wasn't going to be that easy to get him back and Seamus said he understood. He asked Neville out on a date, a real, proper date like they'd never done before, and Neville couldn't keep from smiling as he said yes.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was back on.
Seamus wanted to do something special for Neville's thirtieth birthday, and so he suggested a trip to Killarney. Neville was all for it until he found out that Seamus still had not told his parents that he was looking for a man, not a woman, to spend the rest of his life with. This culminated in a huge fight that resorted in Seamus storming out of Neville's flat, claiming Neville could never understand why he couldn't tell them. Neville spent three weeks hoping that Seamus would change his mind and come back before giving up on the phone call that he knew was never coming.
He called Harry to tell him, but Harry had some news first. He had proposed to Ginny on her twenty-ninth birthday, and after hearing that, Neville couldn't tell Harry that he and Seamus had broken up AGAIN. Instead, he put the lovebirds on speakerphone and listened to all their ideas for their wedding and plans for the future while he clung to a throw pillow and silently cried, wondering if that would ever be him with anyone.
Because it wasn't going to be with Seamus. That had become obvious.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” tipped back to off.
Neville was an usher at Harry and Ginny's wedding, and he nearly fell over from shock when Seamus showed up. He had no idea that Seamus had been invited, and he had been quite certain that, after finally telling Harry and Ginny that he and Seamus had split up again, Seamus wasn't going to be invited. After he recovered, he plastered a smile on his face, showed Seamus to his seat, noted that it was on Ginny's side of the aisle, and silently cursed interfering ginger women with propensities for coming up with phrases like “the longest on/off relationship EVER.”
At the reception, Ginny dragged Neville onto the dance floor, told him all about a conversation she'd had with Seamus about how he needed to finally be true to himself or he was never going to be happy, and then told him to go get the man he loved. But Neville didn't listen, not at that moment, nor when Harry told him basically the same thing while watching Ginny dance with his dad.
But when Seamus approached him, handed him a beer, and told him that he was an idiot who was afraid of losing his parents, Neville listened. He listened to Seamus say that first he'd told his sister, who'd laughed because she'd already known, and then he'd gone back to Killarney and told his parents in person about how he'd fallen in love with a man named Neville, and his fear of losing them had lost him Neville. And Neville, despite every logical bone in his body telling him to push Seamus away, pulled Seamus closer and kissed him softly before linking their fingers together and telling Seamus he was on his last chance.
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was back on, this time for good.
They took it slowly once they were back in Liverpool, but eventually, Seamus moved into Neville's flat. And then when that flat became too small for law books and psychology books and shelf after shelf of DVDs and Blu-Rays, closets full of suits for work and casual clothes for the weekends, a sofa that was broken one night when they thought the bedroom was just too far away, and four televisions that not even they were sure how they'd acquired, Seamus suggested that they buy a house. They looked for months for the right place before finally finding an old Victorian four-bedroom near Liverpool Cathedral, and when Neville had asked why they needed three extra bedrooms, and Seamus had implied that maybe it might be nice to have children someday, Neville had just grinned and asked where to sign the paperwork.
Neville never found it curious that Seamus was always on top of the knowledge that civil partnerships had started in 2005 or that same-sex adoption was legalized in 2009, or the latest on the fight for marriage equality. He just figured that Seamus needed to know these things for work. But when Seamus told him that same-sex marriage had been legalized and was just awaiting royal assent, well, Neville found it curious. Seamus was acting funny, and if there was anything Neville knew after all their years together, it was when Seamus was hiding something. But Seamus refused to say what it was, and Neville eventually gave up, knowing that Seamus would tell him when he was ready.
He hadn't expected it to come in the form of a gold band in a velvet box sitting on his nightstand on his thirty-third birthday, with a note written in Seamus's typical scrawl saying “how about New Year's Eve?” on it. He hadn't expected the rush of emotion that welled up within him just staring at it, or when Seamus had slid his arms around Neville's waist and made it clear that he knew Neville was awake and that he was nervously awaiting an answer. Neville just reached for the box, set the note to the side, and pulled the ring out of it. He flipped it around in his fingers for a moment before shakily asking if Seamus had gotten one for himself too. He could feel Seamus grinning into his back as he said yes, there was one for him too.
Seamus took the ring from Neville's fingers and slid it onto the right one, and then there was kissing and crying and declarations of love and, at the end of it, Neville let his eyes close and think of how ridiculously happy he was to have finally reached that moment with the only man he'd ever really loved.
So, New Year's Eve, 2014. It was set to be a monumental day in the history of Scotland, the first day upon which same-sex couples could legally marry. It was going to be a pretty monumental day for a psychologist and a solicitor in Liverpool too because it was the day on which they would marry. It was a marriage long in the making, and would legally consummate what their friends liked to call "the longest on/off relationship EVER."
And thus, “the longest on/off relationship EVER” was firmly, and permanently, on.