Northern Lights

"So what now?" Charlie said in a whisper.

I rolled round to face him, resting my head on my arm. He wasn't looking at me, he was staring straight ahead, up to the ceiling, his familiar profile illuminated by the soft bluish light from outside. I placed my hand on his bare shoulder and he glanced at it, then up to meet my eye but only fleetingly before returning to the ceiling. I thought I saw tears, but in the lighting it was difficult to be sure.

"Baz... What now?" He tried again.

I didn't know. Just an hour ago I'd been so sure about everything, I'd opened the door to our chalet and seen Charlie waiting there in the firelight for me and I'd known beyond doubt that I'd made the biggest mistake of my life when I ended things between us. I'd let the lights, the snow the magic of the place distract me from his words though, the words he'd uttered, hard and bitter when I'd told him it was him I wanted.

'Well you can't always have what you want, you taught me that'

Now they were the only sound I could hear.

Just a few miles away my husband was lying in pain, wounded by a snowmobile and my betrayal. Because I'd betrayed him even before I'd slept with Charlie. I'd betrayed him with my thoughts when I'd called out for Charlie before I'd called out for him at the accident site, I'd betrayed him when I held Charlie's hand back in the hospital when Louis was ill.

But maybe the truth was I'd betrayed Charlie by marrying Dan at all. Whichever way I turned I felt guilty, and I honestly didn't know what to do.

He shifted in the bed next to me, twisting around so he could sit on it's edge. "I should go".

"Go? Go where?" I said, alarmed.

"To my room tonight, back to Holby in the morning" Finally he turned around, faced me properly. He looked tired, his eyes glassy with emotion and his face so much older than he'd seemed before as we'd played in the snow making angels like a couple of kids. I couldn't help but think back to when we'd first met, when he was a wirey, cheeky, boyish man and we'd both had our whole lives ahead of us. Nearly twenty years later and we still weren't sorted; we were still snatching at brief moments of happiness and letting them slip away again.

Not this time, please God, not again.

"We've been through this already, you can't leave now, not yet!" I grabbed his arm; he prised my fingers away.

"Why do you have to make this harder than it is already?"

"Because I love you"

"But you married him" he shot back bitterly, and too loudly for the time of night. I suppose I should have been worried about Dad or Louis coming to investigate but I didn't even think of them. Charlie's words had ripped though me. Not insulting or vicious, they were the truth.

"I made a mistake"

He shook his head, sadly, wearily. I don't think he believed me.

'You, you don't know what you want, you never did'

But I do.

Tears streamed down my face, but he wasn't looking at me, I felt like I couldn't breathe, but he continued to dress.

I tried to compose myself, feeling like my world was falling apart. Words escaped me, but I didn't think they'd do any good anyway. I'd hurt him so many times nothing I said meant enough anymore. So, if not words, what about deeds?

He was dressed now, except for his boots in one hand and his fleece over his arm - dressed and leaving the room without a second glance. How dare he!

I followed him out, yanking on my robe and rubbing my sleeve across my eyes. The fire in the living room had gone out, leaving only the soft smoky flavour in the air. The northern lights still played across the sky outside, shining through the window and competing against the artificial fairy lights on the tree. All so beautiful and romantic, why weren't we happy?

"So what was that about?" I hissed.

He stopped, turned, leant against the mantelpiece and sighed. "What do you mean?"

"In there," I nodded toward the bedroom, "We just made love Charlie, didn't that mean anything?"

"It meant everything. To me. You're married to another man for God's sake. We had our chance... twice... we don't work. We should; I love you, you love me -"

"That's all that matters"

"I wish it were that simple"

"It is"

"Baz..." He came to me, put his arms around me and I fell against him, hugging him tightly. I felt his jaw move against the side of my head as he spoke, "I'm sorry".

"For what?"

"For being so scared," I pulled away enough to see his face, confusion written on my own. "I can't bear to lose you again. I want us to be together so much but even though it's agony seeing you with him, the thought of letting myself believe we could be happy together and then you changing your mind again... It's worse Baz. I'm terrified of that. Terrified I won't cope. I can't go through it again. I'm sorry". He stepped back, dejected.

"Have I hurt you that much? Oh Charlie, I never meant to".

"I know" and I believed him, it had never been deliberate, and if he knew that there was hope for us after all.

"It won't happen again. Trust me Charlie. I know I don't deserve you to, but I swear I'll never leave you 'til the day I die. Trust me?"

His mouth curled into a small smile, "I never have had much common sense, have I?"

"Does that mean you'll give me a chance. Give us a chance?"

He nodded, "But what about Dan?"

I sighed, the guilt hitting me, though tempered with the feeling that this time I was doing right, "I think he's guessed. When we argued earlier he said I changed as soon as I got back to Holby, as soon as I couldn't pretend you weren't a part of my life. He'll hate us both, but he has his dignity, he'll leave us be. Come here".

He kissed me. A gentle kiss, that barely brushed my lips but set me tingling all over. No one else could do that; no one else made me feel like he did. I kissed him back, like we did before in the snow, passionate and desperate, making up for wasted years.

Outside, the northern lights faded away leaving the sky black, the magic gone - not that we noticed. We had magic all of our own.


The End

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