My inspiration from a FB DM post: "Just watched a repeat on PBS of the episode of series 5 where Louisa decides that she and JH are going to move to London with M. At the end is where Louisa returns from an evening out to overhear M reading from a medical journal to JH. Hint to fanfic folks...it would be interesting to read a short ficlet of what happens later that evening." OK, then, here we go.

(Just playing with your lovely characters, BP. Thanks for inventing them.)


Read to Him, Martin

I stand with my cup of espresso looking out over the harbor and the rest of Portwenn. Louisa and James are already off on their day. This quiet and peace in my schedule is a welcome respite that clears my mind and gives me time with my own thoughts.

My mind turns to last night. Louisa was getting together with her school friend, Pippa. Apparently, they felt the need to socialize before our move to London. Undoubtedly, Louisa had a good time but what they found to talk about for three hours, I can't imagine.

Even more puzzling, was why Louisa got all dressed up and expressed concern about her looks. She is always beautiful and I don't understand how she doesn't just know it. Her white blouse set off her dark hair and glowing complexion. But it was that glowing that made me worry whether she was well or might have a fever. I was incredibly relieved to find her pulse was regular and I felt no sign of extra heat in her skin. She seemed a bit disappointed when I gave her my opinion. I should have thought she'd be relieved, too.

But then, she was nervous about being apart from James Henry. I don't know why; after all, he was going to be with me. I understand and can look after his health and care. I did have to take a course in pediatrics as part of my basic medical training as well as when I prepared to be a GP.

And James is not difficult during the day. If only I could say the same thing for his night-time habits! Keeping him clean and sanitary and well-fed and hydrated is easy enough. Beyond that, it is very hard to do anything else with James, though Louisa seems to think he needs constant entertainment when awake. I've read studies, too, but Louisa seems to take them and their findings most seriously.

But I acquiesced to her wishes to read to James and knew it didn't matter what words he hears. I could satisfy my needs and James' at the same time. The article I chose to read was on a very complex subject but one I needed to brush up on. In fact, it was an intriguing piece that focused my mind and I was thankful that James seemed equally satisfied with it so I could finish it. He seemed to smile even, but I'm sure it was only wind causing his facial expression.

I was so involved in it, I didn't notice Louisa come in the kitchen door. But then, when I decided it was time for James to go to his cot and got up to ready him for bed, I found Louisa upstairs, already in bed, lightly snoring. She'd forgotten to apply her nose strip. But I have to admit I am getting used to it.

I settled James and proceeded to my own bedtime routine, trying to be quiet and not waken Louisa. I tried to slip into bed quietly and with no disruption. As I settled in and lay very still, I felt a hand steal to my side, without quite reaching me. It stopped so near my skin, I could feel the warmth of it, Louisa's warmth, and I could imagine the softness of her skin.

But that warmth, and the heat it would lead to, was exactly what I couldn't allow right now—for Louisa's sake. Louisa... Louisa—beautiful, desirable Louisa. But that was the problem—my problem. I do so desire her and long for her touch, or dare I say, our touching. I remembered how just to catch hold of her hand after the concert was …. overwhelming.

But it was too soon. I'm a doctor. I know the obstetrical protocol and recommendations. And it wouldn't be acceptable behavior to ignite any passionate feelings in Louisa – or fair to her. I wouldn't dream of taking advantage of her medical condition, just for my own selfish reasons.

I thought that maybe I could just hold her hand. Uh, best not.

Better just lay my hand on hers casually. No, that would be too tempting.

I could just put my hand at my side near hers. Blast it – NO!

I remember the cab ride and how that touch of our two hands ignited …..things. I daren't offer any indication of my feelings. I remembered all too well what happened every time I had. Louisa is not shy and she inevitably returned and emlarged on my gestures. And it always ended in a disaster for our relationship.

No, I had to control myself and show Louisa the respect a new mum deserves. She must feel no pressure. I just needed to support her as best I can, helping with the baby.

The baby. What a new world he is. And I realize I feel like a new explorer in that world. It is a separate place, one that contains only him, Louisa and me. I hadn't known what having a son would be like. I still don't understand it really. It is in many ways, inexplicable.

And outside of feeding, changing nappies, and winding him, I don't know what else I should do. I must get a grip on my responsibility to him. Well, how did I grow up? Ahhh, I must look into a good prep school. Dad and Mum did that for me. Well, Mum anyhow, based on what she told me on their last unfortunate visit. Painful that...

Oh, god – the prep school. Mum did that to get rid of me. Because Dad no longer saw her as a woman. Did that mean...? …...What? …...What exactly? …...And how might things have been different if Dad...?

So Mum suffered for want of Dad's affection. And then I suffered. I didn't want that for the baby. But how do I try to make sure it won't happen? To the baby. To Louisa.

And then suddenly I knew. I laid my hand on Louisa's, at the same time saying a quiet "good night, luv."

And I slept well...

Waking up this morning, I found myself in the same position on my back as always. But somehow, during the night, Louisa's hand had slipped into mine. It was a pleasant way to wake up and daring to look over, I saw Louisa looking back at me, smiling. "Good morning, luv."

My mind comes back to the present and I notice a few seagulls following a boat into the harbor. Back home... safe. Then, again…. Louisa... Maybe... just maybe... I got it right.

I turn, step to the surgery door, and enter... home.


I came up with the Doc's solution in the story after seeing a video where Martin Clunes is at the Weldmar Hospice Fete in Summer, 2013 and is looking for Philippa when it is time to present the check from Buckham Fair. Couldn't resist using his term of endearment.

Thanks for reading.