The End of an Era

The End of an Era

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closed The End of an Era

Post by Keiran Hayes on Mon Sep 12, 2016 5:16 am

Ben would forever call them "The Hayes Years." The ones when some part of the world made sense because Keiran and Melissa were together. Sure, he also counted the time that he was with Baldric as a sign that all was right with his own little world, but it wasn't the same without Kegs and Millie there to either be angsty, act as Baldric's pseudo-family, or to cause absolute havoc but have things work out.  

When the apparated back home, Keiran mentally deemed it 'their house.' And that stung. But it didn't hurt half as badly as what Millie had said to Liv. It wasn't meant to hurt him, and it was entirely valid. In no way did he want Millie to stop loving other people when she stopped loving him. But it hurt to think it wouldn't be a phrase she directed at him sincerely anymore.

But it wasn't like he really believed that he deserved to hear that anymore.

Exhaustion sunk his shoulders already, but he had suggested they have a discussion. The problem was the actual instigation of the chat. He didn't know how. He wanted to but he didn't want to at the same time.

Keiran sank into one of the living room chairs, dropping his head into his hands and propping his elbows on his knees. He was supposed to think of the children. Couldn't they make it work for the kids? Even if they acted like it worked, wouldn't that be worse for them in the end, when they realized that the relationship they looked to as a representative of what is supposed to be true and genuine and what they look for in their future. That would be like cursing them to a life of confusion. Admitting the truth and explaining it to them would surely be better. They would learn how to be honest in a relationship.

Right?

“I love you. You know that, don’t you? Don’t you ever doubt it.”

Damn.

He had absolutely no idea how to make his failure okay. It did feel like a failure. He had never gotten over some of the things she'd done. Had stopped understanding for reasons he couldn't put into words. He just wanted Missie back, and he couldn't have her.

It was terrible to think, but he knew the truth about himself. After so many doomed relationships. So many people that used him to get what they wanted. How could he not want something better? How could he not crave the genuine affection of someone who wouldn't seek anyone else, who wouldn't agree when he said he wanted someone who could communicate effectively and not change personalities without warning? Wouldn't they agree that he deserved someone who needed him, who respected him, who- ...loved him?

Keiran had killed for this woman, and look where they had ended up. It was appalling and insulting and he knew he hadn't made it any better but he didn't want to admit that it was his fault too even though he knew better.

Passing his fingers through his hair, Keiran sat up properly and looked at her. Looked at the woman who was the very image of what he'd wanted in his years at Hogwarts. Wildly beautiful, formerly spontaneous to counter his worried nature. The mother of his children. And he didn't feel that jolt in his chest like he'd done before. He just felt sad.

"Millie," he began, refraining from using her full name after much difficulty. "You have to know this isn't working. I know you feel it, too."

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closed Re: The End of an Era

Post by Melissa Finnigan on Mon Oct 03, 2016 6:03 pm

Breakfast was unfinished, cold on the kitchen table. Distantly, the sound of the children playing upstairs could be heard. Downstairs, the air was icy, thick and stifling with the sense of what was coming. If she exhaled, Melissa Hayes was likely, almost, to see her breath. Everything seemed faded against the backdrop of the sunshine that still streamed in through the windows, if now intermittently as clouds gathered on the horizon. Bleak. The threat of rain. A downpour. Thunder. Lightning. Something like their life. Bleak, with the threat of disaster. Yet at points, sunshine did peep through, her golden tendrils warming their skin and their hearts, urging within them for each other fond feelings that had been blotted out by the clouds that had been growing in number for what was now years. It was something she should have foreseen. Death, of course, had been her teenage forte when it came to fortune telling. Stephen’s had always loomed large in her mind. Trent’s, too. In time, both had been fulfilled. Of course, her father’s had blindsided her. Like so much. Things always happen in threes, of course. Stephen first. Seamus. Trent. Then she was alone. Painfully, almost. Her life, thereafter, had been on a downward spiral. Even the lifts, the upward trend that suggested a chance at happiness, were brief, almost affairs. Them. Their life. Their family. A brief, almost affair.

Thunder rumbled in the near distance, brooding over their home, ushering away the sun. Pathetic fallacy. That had been what her literature teacher had called it. She herself couldn’t have written it better. And as he spoke, the rain began, falling with a hiss, peppering its beat against the windowpanes. Somewhere in London, their eldest little witch was watching the way it fell, wondering absently after the pair who were coming to the conclusion that had been coming for a long time. There it was, let loose into the air against the backdrop of juddering panes of glass. Melissa lowered herself down into a chair, landing with more of a thump than she had been reckoning for. It felt like a body blow. It was a body blow. It hurt. Merlin, did it hurt. But it, like the world around them, was dulled, almost. Blunted with the resigning fact that this had been coming. Hearing it killed her but she would have been a liar if she had claimed surprise. She would have done him a great injustice if she’d said she hadn’t known. And she’d let it happen. She’d watched blithely, mouth agog, as they’d glided gently to rock bottom. And there was no up. Not this time. It was the end of the line.

She didn’t trust herself to speak, not least because she had no clue where to begin. She didn’t know what to say to him. All she could manage was the heaviest exhale she could ever had let go of, one that suggested that there was some sort of catharsis in reaching this point, and she nodded. Merlin, she just nodded. And then her lips parted and she found a word. A phrase. “Yeah.” That was it. Acknowledgement. Resignation. And she knew that, in spite of what was upstairs, the little patter of feet, the squeals of joy, the life and happiness thrumming in the veins of those children, their children, their family, it was too late. They couldn’t do it. There was nothing left in them that made pretending seem like the right thing to do. They were uneasy next to each other. They weren’t a unit anymore. They weren’t happy anymore. She didn’t know when it had happened, of course, just that it had. And she’d made no moves to do anything about it. She’d not uttered a single word. It had just happened.

“I’m sorry, Keiran.” And she was. Truly. “There’s no point …” her brows furrowed briefly, realising that she was actually just going to accept this, continue to flow down the river that they’d been coursing down of their own accord. She wasn’t going to change course. She wasn’t even going to try. “There’s no point kicking and screaming about it. It’s not… I think it would be fair to say we love each other but we’re not …” She rolled her lips together, something within her cracking at the reality she was about to give voice to. “We’re not in love anymore … and some days we don’t even get along. We’ve diverged, haven’t we?”

And saying so was matter of fact. Cold. Clinical.

“You deserve to be happy and you’re not and part of that is me. I’m sure it’s also other things but we’ve become a show couple, haven’t we? To our children, to our friends, and to ourselves.” She swallowed and stilled her hands, alerted to the way she was furiously wringing them together by the pain that flared in her wrists. “What do you want to do?” She asked carefully, lifting her eyes to his. I don’t think we’ve got anything left in the tank to try again, have we?” She rolled her lips together, feeling her eyes beginning to splinter with tears. Stop it. “Keiran I’m … I’m sorry that this has happened … that it’s come to this … I … this wasn’t what I wanted, what either of us wanted, and it …” She sucked back and buttoned her lips, knowing it was pointless to apologise for not even trying.

“What do you want to do?” She repeated softly, reaching up to wipe away a traitorous escapee tear.

And then one thought burst to the forefront of her mind in that moment, a thought that threatened to break the barrier of her lids and send tears in a torrent down her cheeks like the rain from the skies outside. She kept herself sober, steeling herself, knowing it was pointless to cry. This was it. But …

God, I’ll miss him.
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closed Re: The End of an Era

Post by Keiran Hayes on Mon Oct 03, 2016 6:48 pm

As soon as she spoke, Keiran truly began to hate himself. He had felt guilty before, at least to an extent, knowing that he wasn't even trying anymore. But this? This wasn't who Millie was. This wasn't even who Melissa was. In fact, it was the opposite of Melissa. Melissa was the one he shouted at for being far too outgoing, far too excitable and far too charming. Even if she hated being told as much. It was important. It was why he had taken so long to shut up about it. She just hadn't ever understood.

But this? He didn't know who this was. This was Millie re-invented, and not in a good way. But Keiran knew - he knew - that he had created this apathy. Despite feeling so deeply that he wouldn't have been as dreadful as he was if Millie hadn't decided one day to cheat because she just felt like it, he knew that his moods, temper and refusal to take a break had fostered this. This part was his fault.

And she wasn't even trying. He knew he hadn't either, but this was so different from the other times they'd had this sort of discussion. One of them had always fought. One of them had been determined to prove the other wrong. Perhaps that was the problem. They'd never fought for it at the same time.

"We have," he agreed slowly, not even finding it in him to be upset at her lack of resistance. He hadn't earned her fight, hadn't given her spirit a reason to flare and bite back at him. "It isn't fair to the children. We're... we're showing them what isn't good enough, and if they grow up thinking that this is the sort of love they should want... It's so wrong."

Keiran shook his head, hating it even as he said it. "I do love you," he confirmed pointedly. "There isn't a day that'll change or a way you could stop it. You're-- the mother of my children, Mills. But...This? This isn't what you should want. I think it's fair to say that neither of us wanted the marriage in the first place and although it did work for a while, although the Ministry clearly had a point, this isn't how you should want to be loved. I had never though about a family or kids, true, but... this isn't good enough anymore. Not after what was there before."

The question was a loaded one, but one that desperately needed answers. That wasn't lost on him.

"We... we can't stay like this. I think we both know that. We both know we need to... split," he winced. "You'd be happier with a chance to find...." He stopped, swallowing and looking away. He didn't want to say it, didn't want to offend by saying it if she would only retaliate by saying she didn't want that. And if she did, he'd have to concede that he didn't want anyone else either. But he still knew that he didn't want this.

So he turned towards her, reached out purposefully for her hand. When he spoke again, his voice was low and serious, but it was probably the most gentle tone he'd used with her in months. "Missie. I won't stop loving you. You know that. But I cannot make you happy and I refuse to force you into a life without the right sort. Without whoever can fix that and fill the whole I've let open. If you find someone... All that will matter is how they are with the kids. The instant they risk our babies in any way, I will absolutely become a threat. But not until then. I swear it. But that doesn't mean I don't care. You know?"

He sighed, looking down at the floor. "I'll talk to Theo about getting Mai to help you. I'll find someone if we need another, or maybe we just sit down with both of them and let them help figure things out? I don't... I don't want it to be a fight, and I don't want the kids to know anything's wrong until they have to. But it needs to be done."

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Post by Melissa Finnigan on Mon Oct 03, 2016 11:25 pm

The maturity was something that had come slowly and then all of a sudden, thrust upon her narrow shoulders. She’d learned to bear it. It had started in the flat in London when, still a teenager, she’d found herself responsible for two, tiny, innocent people when she could barely look after herself. It had culminated in being very, very good at looking after what was now three tiny, innocent people. She could almost be said to possess the ability of looking after herself, too. Almost. But the joy had been meted out by the strange and far from wonderful stresses of being an adult. Then, too, it seemed, the reality of being a Hayes, the reality of being married to the man she was pushed out the joy in their marriage and spread the gulf between them. She had adored him. As she looked at him, she couldn't deny that she still did. The world demanded too much of him, though. In the end, she’d gotten on without him. Now, she wasn’t even sure who she was, let alone him – a sentiment she was near certain he concurred with.

For all of their ills and mistakes, though, they knew when the game was up and they were on the same wavelength, too. It was no good, not to them and, more particularly, not to the children. If they did reach maturity believing that the hot and cold of their parents’ relationship was normal, was something they should seek and partake in creating, then they had failed them. Showing them two healthy, happy, if separate, individuals was important. Only then could they themselves be happy, healthy people. She hoped that even if they did not find love again, that their children would see in their extended family the relationships they should seek to emulate. That of Bentley and Baldric. That of Mairen and Theodore. Love that was good. Quirky but good. Warm, welcoming … the sort that wrapped around you and made you feel fuzzy inside. Their parents had stopped being that a long time ago. Millie wanted them to be able to see it, though. Only, it couldn’t be with them.

Oddly, she didn’t avert her gaze or lower her head. She did not feel reproached. The sense of failure would not kick in until the door of her room in the Leaky Cauldron was closed and as the small hours approached there was nothing left to do but to slip between the starched sheets that were cold and smelt nothing of home. Then it would hit her. But in that moment it was like a business meeting. Both parties knew exactly what had to be done so she could just look at him, straight on. Knowing it didn’t make it any easier to hear, though. The word itself did make her start, made her blink and increased the pace of her breathing. When his fingers curled around hers, the warmth and familiarity did a little to sooth the sudden feeling of dread that had spread through her. It was a feeling she couldn’t quite realise. She wouldn't. Not until she was alone. Truly alone. Seer or not, anyone could have sensed it coming.

“I am not sure there is a human being out there strong enough to love someone who can never love them back,” she replied temperately, a watery smile peeking at her lips as she drew her thumb over the back of his hand. “Besides, even if things didn’t work out the way we wanted, you’re still the man I fell in love with. You’re it for me, Keiran. I’ll always love you … but we don’t make each other happy anymore,” she amended his words, her brows lifting pointedly as her fingers squeezed his. “Things decay and fall apart. We’re wrong for allowing it to happen but it’s not right to sit amongst ruins when we can rebuild. God knows we probably don’t want to really but you’re not wrong … we can’t show them this. And we can’t do it to each other. I don’t think I could face the day when we’d wake up and hate each other for trying to make it work when we both know it won’t.”

And that realisation was the one that hurt the most – not that it was true, necessarily, but that it was a notion that was believable.

“I love you, Keiran Hayes,” she murmured, leaning forward with her other hand to tentatively cup his cheek, urging him to meet her gaze. She smiled again, drawing her thumb under his eye. “And I am so proud of you. You deserve all of the happiness in the world. I know I can’t contribute to that anymore and it hurts but I think that if we love each other enough to know when to let go then that means something, at least. We’re not all bad to each other. The holes we leave in each other are ones I don’t think anyone else can fix. We can’t squeeze someone else into the gap and try and make them fit. I think we’ve got to patch them up ourselves and learn something about being … not necessarily alone but … I’m not sure what but something. How to be happy again, I suppose.”

“I haven’t got designs on anything,” she admitted, reaching up to push back the front of his hair, puffing it up a little, before dropping her hand away. “We should be able to work it out between ourselves,” she added optimistically. “Even if … even if we’re not married anymore then … I mean, we should … we should still be able to get along for our babies shouldn’t we?” She swallowed, overcome by the thickness of her voice and with that spare hand reached up to rub under her eyes again.

“I need you to do something for me, though,” she confided with a sniff, dropping her arm into her lap, her fingers tightening absent-mindedly around his. “I need you to have sole custody of them … just for a little while until … until I can be sure I will be the mother they deserve to have. I don’t think I have ever been, really. Not the sort that they won’t come to resent, anyway. I think I’m too much like my mum, in more ways than I’d like. I want to be good for them. For me. Merlin, for you, even. I don’t think I can even pretend. I want … I’d like,” she corrected herself, “to start from scratch to … well, I’ve never really been on my own … not as an adult, anyway. I’m going to make mistakes and I can’t say that I am going to be good for them in any way shape or form at first. I want to at least be able to pretend I have my life in good working order before I can contribute properly. I’m not walking away from them – please don’t think that – but I can’t … Keiran I’m not perfect, am I? I know I’m never going to be but I can’t … I can’t mess it up. I want to be able to do right by them and I know I won’t at first and I don’t want to hurt them. I don’t want to let them down.”

She shrugged her shoulders, finally lowering her gaze as uncertainty crept in. Then, despite herself, knowing that it was probably going to be the last time, she got up and plopped herself firmly in his lap before wrapping her arms around him. It was platonic, largely: a commiseration of everything that had passed between them, an act that bubbled over with love but also sadness, the realisation that this was ending and that it was ending mutually, in a way that wasn’t with fireworks. It was just happening. It was something that was almost being treated as a fact of life. But perhaps that was for the best. It might hurt more but it would at least mean they could perhaps look at each other at the end of it. But then really, didn’t it beg the question of why they couldn’t be this way for each other, upright and direct and communicative, when it had mattered? Of course. But it was too late for that. It was too late for many things.

“I’ll always be here for you Keiran,” she whispered in his ear. “I know … it’s never really been our style but I … if … if you ever need someone to … to talk to who … is I guess … familiar but disconnected then you can … well, you’ve always got me.” Lifting her head, Millie swallowed and met his gaze. A funny feeling ballooned in her chest, one that she couldn’t properly name. But she knew no good would come of it.

“Should we sort it out now, roughly?” She asked, sliding off of his lap, wishing she didn’t have to. “Or shall I … I suppose I should really say goodbye, for the moment, to them and go …” And then it would be real, wouldn’t it?
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closed Re: The End of an Era

Post by Keiran Hayes on Tue Oct 04, 2016 4:59 am

"I need you to take it back, Millie."

As she paused to rub at her skin, he lost his patience, lost the ability to hold it in. Lost the part of himself that was rationally waiting to break down on his own because actually, despite the many friends he felt he had, Keiran couldn't point to one specific person and think, they can help, or, I should seek them out. For all he had done to be involved in the lives of others, he had somehow failed to instill trust, to form a bond that genuine. The one time that a man of his insecurity - and thus, of course, of his overcompensating attempt at masculinity - actually wanted to let himself cry.

And he wanted, for once, to have someone there to bear witness to it and understand and teach him to pretend it didn't burn every time he breathed because his throat wouldn't stop tightening. But no. He had managed to alienate himself without even realizing it. And in a few months, when he laughed for the first time, smirked at someone with pride after weeks of nothing, he wouldn't realize the effect he had on her. Nor would he care, once he found out the truth. It wouldn't register for him that despite feeling so absent and useless, he would draw yet another person into the fold without meaning to.

Bizarrely, he could be quite lovable when he didn't want to be. Millie could probably attest to that.

Still, he forced the words out roughly. Remember when he thought he hated himself? Past Keiran from a few minutes ago was so wrong. This? This was self-hatred to an extreme he hadn't known had existed. "If you genuinely believe that there's nobody else... Millie, I'll go to my grave with the knowledge that I stole your life from you. I could have- I mean..." He pulled away from her, staring with an expression that told her absolutely everything she could've wanted to know.

Keiran Hayes, man of many temperaments and outbursts, was desperately wishing he were someone else. An entirely different man, just the right amount opposite of his current self to match her but somehow understand her, even from the start. No part of him, looking back, could fathom why she did so many of the things she did. But if he had been anybody else, perhaps he could have.

"I don't care if it means you're lying to me, but you have to take it back. I don't want to be that to you. I don't want to hold you back when someone brilliant appears. Not like last time."

Keiran's jaw clenched, the muscle in his cheek jumping. His eyes were wide now, panic racing through his veins. Merlin, he was ruining everything. He refused to turn this into a fight about who had done what. He knew her list for him would be just as long as his for her.

"I-. Just -- you know I didn't mean it like that. Sorry. I'm not... I'm not trying to have at you, Millie. I'm really not. But life might have been much better for you if you'd chosen differently. I won't ever claim I wish it had gone that way. We wouldn't have our Darcie if it had, and I'd never forgive myself if I suggested I'd prefer that. Just... Let's just act like that didn't come out. It wasn't meant to."

"I do want us to get along," he corrected his irrational outburst and ramblings. "I can't bring up these kids without you. I'm not convinced I'll be able to do much as get them to sleep without you."

And then the bomb hit, destroying him so strongly that he didn't know how to react except to push his back against the upright of his chair. She corrected her own comment too, saving him from the heart attack that would've come from her disappearance. He should've known better. He really, truly had been listening, but after a mixup like his own, he wasn't taking her words for granted. Every syllable she uttered mattered.

"I- if that's what you want, love. I'll do it, but I... You'll leave them messages or something, right? You won't stay away? I can't let them forget your voice or your laugh or what you look like. It's- it's so easy to forget," he registered, the fear and the spike of pain for his father appearing behind his eyes at the exact same time.

She stood, and he would have done the same or at least leaned forward, but then she was curling around him as she had done before and it brought him back to his mother's foyer, the day Jack, Oliver and Henry had brought him home. He had declared that he loved them all, that he had wanted nothing more during those months away than to be back at her side and with them. And they'd gone home, set the kids down for a nap after the excitement got to them, and he had given her the letters, and--

She had fallen asleep.

Keiran had obviously pushed that away for quite some time. Had ensured that he didn't think about it that day after they stopped Tobias' attack on Simon. And that hadn't been long ago at all. But it hadn't been entirely real. Millie had always been more affectionate after something like that. Always. Or when she could see him unraveling at the seams.

But the letters. Nothing had mattered more to him, after his return, than to see her reaction to them when they had time without distractions. The one thing that had kept him sane was the thought of sending them to her even when he knew he couldn't. He glanced at her, in the present, when she looked for his gaze.

And she had fallen asleep.

Keiran's arms draped loosely around her, hearing the words as she offered them, even as he ran through those last minutes before her nap, over and over again. Disconnected. Yes, that sounded about right. That accurately defined how his heart felt, now. Like someone had cut it loose to float within him, but not to send any signals to his brain. He knew better than to think that that was really how affection worked, but he wasn't beyond believing it for a moment when his chest felt like it was shriveling beneath her weight.

When she moved, he stayed statue-like, assuming that his stiffness and silence had scared her off. "I... Really ought to go talk to Theodore about this," he said slowly, as if nothing else was going wrong in his head. As if he hadn't just conjured one of his boxes of old to file away a piece of himself. Only then did he stand. His expression became one of understanding and apology, as it should have been before he lifted his chin to show her how he felt after she removed herself. "Perhaps you'd want some time with them. With mum. I'll light the floo, hmm?"

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Post by Melissa Finnigan on Tue Oct 04, 2016 2:13 pm

“Are you listening to yourself?” She felt herself laugh, the sound heavy with disbelief. “Keiran, if I take it back and lie to you it won’t make any difference, will it? You can’t console yourself with a lie when you know the truth.” She brought her lips together, one side curling down as she realised who he was referring to. To her it felt like a lifetime ago. The person who had made those choices was very different to the person that was sat in their living room in that moment as the rain continued to tumble down outside. The girl who had made that choice was unlike the woman who now existed in her place. The fragile person who could not be alone was so different from the still-fragile person who had learned to be.

“No one brilliant is going to come along,” she told him, settling her hands on his shoulders. “No one brilliant has ever come along, you know. Not until you. Those choices that I made … those bad choices. I was … Merlin, I was young,” she shrugged one of her own, her face growing graver as she conceded in her expression that it wasn’t necessarily the best reason. “I did what I did for reasons that will never be good enough, that will never erase the hurt it caused you. You never held me back. I was too foolish to see the value in what I had. Have. Had.” She sighed heavily. “My life is better for you and everything you have done for me. It might’ve gone awry but you were the best thing to ever happen to me and the last person in the world I deserved the love of. I am who I am for the better because of you. There is no one else but you do yourself too much credit to say you’ve stolen my life away, Hayes. I’m … no, I am. I am strong,” she lifted her head, her jaw set resolutely. “I need to be enough for me. I need to fix me on my terms not stand around hoping someone will tape up the cracks. So I’m not going to lie to you or to me. You are it. Were it. But I’m also going to be it for me, too. If someone sufferable is mad enough to want to be with me then that’s on their head. I won’t go looking for them.”

Millie brought her hand up to his neck as his expression changed at her words. She hoped he understood. She hoped that he wouldn’t take it the wrong way, that he wouldn’t hate her for it – or, at least, if he did it wouldn’t be forever.

“Believe me, I know,” she murmured faintly, her eyes tracing over his features. “I won’t be gone I just … I can’t demand them to come with me – not when I don’t know where I’m going yet. Your trajectory has always been easier to pin down. And a mother’s … well, no … I …” She rolled her lips together. “I will always be there,” she promised. “I will never leave them. But I need to be someone who does make their lives better. I don't … I don’t want them to look at me the way I look at my mum. I wouldn’t survive it. I … I need to be everything they need me to be and I want to make sure I am before I can ask them to follow me down the path I will tread. Yours is safer, the paving smoothed out by the sun. I’ll visit all the time if you’ll let me I just … I don’t have anything for them bar me and I’m not enough.”

“Only long enough to say goodbye,” she replied, pushing up the sleeves of her cardigan. “I can’t … I won’t … I won’t go. I’ll make the wrong choice for them, the one I think is right for me. They deserve better.” She bit her lip, unsure what on earth she’d say to Bridget. “I’ll just go and … I’ll pack a bag…” she said, turning away, not entirely sure she’d be able to say goodbye to them and come back to the house – not least because she didn’t want to run the risk of bumping into him if he returned at a similar time. She was sure she’d break down, grovel, beg until she was hoarse for a second third fourth chance. And it would do them no good. Perhaps he’d even acquiesce if he had half a mind to. But they’d be back here soon enough, telling each other it was the end – this time for good.

A duffel bag shrunken within a small suitcase, itself filled, was all she managed. She packed a mishmash of clothes – the important articles and a series of tops, jeans, and other bits and pieces no discernible sense of an outfit could be made out of. In the nooks and crannies she put pictures and precious other tokens she kept on her bedside. She put her glasses on the top of her head almost as an afterthought and once the suitcase was clasped she slumped back downstairs, sliding past Bean who had emerged from where he’d been asleep in the nursery, confused now as to what the case meant. He gave a loud whine from the top of the stairs as she reached the bottom. Yeah, me too, buddy.

“I’m sorry, Keiran,” she said, her voice thick, crackling at the sides as she reached the fireplace. “I’m so sorry. I didn't ... I didn't mean to let you down."
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Melissa Finnigan
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