So, after two and half years, this story is finished! My take on Book One/Series One, Episodes 1-3 is completed, and I added my own epilogue which spans the second half of this chapter.
As soon as the three children stepped into the living room, they were swept into a group hug by both Hunter parents. Lloyd squirmed, embarrassed at the 'childish' treatment, Dinah tensed, still not comfortable with such affection, and Harvey squeezed his parents back, grateful that he could witness them acting like themselves.
Bill and Teresa pulled away and regarded their sons and foster daughter with sadness. They were soon to make a heart-wrenching decision, and they dreaded the moment that would come upon the reveal of the decision, but they had to do what was best for their family. Their boys.
Lloyd and Dinah shared an incredulous look, both concerned over how Mr and Mrs Hunter were acting. Harvey, on the other hand, remained oblivious and grinned happily.
"The Show was wicked! Mum, Dad, did you watch it?!"
Watching the Show meant that the Hunter parents would have fallen under the Headmaster's control, until the Headmaster had been interrupted by the falling gunge and those susceptible broke free of his power. Yet, Harvey didn't seem fazed by this potential occurrence, and continued to grin.
"Oh, I'm sorry, sweetheart. Daddy and I were busy, don't worry, we taped it. Just like you asked us too." The last section was addressed to Lloyd, and he vowed to erase the video footage as soon as he could.
"Busy with what?"
To answer Harvey's question, Bill stuck his head into the kitchen and called: "The kids are here. We need to tell them the news."
"What news?" Lloyd queried, as Miss Wilberforce stepped into the room, sheepish smile on her face, her hands warmed by a mug of tea. Harvey frowned, attempting to figure out what was going on at the social worker's sudden appearance.
Dinah understood the reason for Miss Wilberforce's invite, and bit her lip, trying not to cry. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Mrs Hunter staring at her, and judging from the tears in her foster mother's eyes, Dinah could see that Mrs Hunter realised that Dinah knew what would be happening.
"What news?" Lloyd pressed, attempting to gauge some answers from his parents' expressions.
Mrs Hunter looked at Dinah and started speaking. "I'm so sorry, sweetheart…"
Dinah nodded, smiling tearfully at her foster parents. "It's fine, honest. You've been the best set of foster parents yet, a-and I won't forget you."
Teresa's heart broke and she clapped her hands over her face, shoulders shaking as she sobbed into her hands. Bill held her to his chest and smiled at Dinah.
"We've loved having you, and we'll always remember you, Di."
"What?" His tone sharper than his brother's, Lloyd snapped: "What do you mean?... You're not sending her away, are you?!"
Reluctantly nodding, his father spoke softly. "We've always wanted a daughter, and Dinah is the perfect fit, but… your Mum and I have had a chat, and we don't think it's best for her to stay in this environment any longer."
"B-But we're friends now!" wailed Harvey, tears streaking down his face.
"I know son, but… Lloyd hasn't always been the most… receptive towards Dinah."
Mrs Hunter gasped and raised her head from her husband's chest, her exclamation revealing how mortified she was.
"Lloyd! Don't use that word!"
"I'm sorry, Mum, but Dinah deserves to stay here. Yes, I didn't like her in the beginning, but our circumstances changed. Me and H became friends with her, and we have grown to love her like a… sister."
Harvey nodded in agreement, as the Hunter parents stared in wonderment at their eldest son. Lloyd took a deep breath and let his eyes settle onto Dinah, before announcing:
"I think you should adopt her."
Eyes widening in amazement and glee, Dinah blinked as Miss Wilberforce addressed her.
"Well, Dinah. Would you like for that to be arranged?"
All eyes were on her, and Dinah felt her barriers come crumbling down as she nodded, tears welling up in her eyes.
"Yes, yes please…"
"YES!" Lloyd's sudden shout alarmed the other occupants of the living room, and he pulled Dinah into a hug. "WE HAVE A SISTER!"
"You're Dinah Hunter now!" Harvey exclaimed, wiping away his tears and joining in on the hug.
Bill and Teresa exchanged a happy look, before turning to Miss Wilberforce, who smiled and said: "I'll get the paperwork arranged. Should we do all the legalities in the kitchen?"
The next few hours were a rush. Ian, Mandy and Ingrid had been informed and they had all rushed round to have a mini party, to celebrate Dinah joining the Hunter family as an official member. Eating junk food in the Den, the six of them had watched a sci-fi film in honour of Dinah, who was fascinated by the scientific information spouted by the scientists in the film, scribbling down notes in her notebook from the Children's Home. Harvey and Ingrid had raved at the gore, whilst the elder members of SPLAT had put their heads together to discuss purchasing a gift for Dinah, as a 'welcome home' present.
After Miss Wilberforce had left with the signed documents, promising to be back within the next few days with a legal representative to make sure that Dinah's adoption by the Hunters was declared official, Mr Hunter had rushed out to buy a carrot cake, which SPLAT and the Hunter parents shared between them. Trips to the bookstore had been planned, and Dinah buzzed at the anticipation of meeting her new set of grandparents and other Hunter relatives who were now her family members.
As she slogged to bed, the house quietening down, Dinah changed into her pyjamas, brushed her teeth and crawled into bed. She lay down, phone aloft in the air and tapped off a message to Lucy.
'Hi. Big news, I've been adopted by the Hunters! Would you like to meet up some time?'
The reply was less than a minute later. 'Oh wow! That's brilliant news, Dinah! Of course! We can arrange something when I see you at school on Monday. Wonder what happened to the Headmaster? xx'
The name sent chills down her spine as she responded. 'Thank you. I'm over the moon and yes, I'll see you Monday. I'm not sure. I think he'll resign. Hopefully, we'll never see him again. Night Lucy x'
'I think I agree with you on the resignation! He's so scary, I hope they get someone more fun, and night Dinah! Xx'
Switching her phone off, Dinah set it aside and sat up in her bed. Now that the Demon Headmaster had been defeated, her friendship with SPLAT strengthened, and she had a new family of her own, she could rest easy.
She dispelled the notion that the Headmaster was outside the front door, unaware that the man had fled the area, not wanting to hang around the town in which his plans failed, and leant across her bed, picking up the framed photograph on her bedside cabinet.
The photograph of her deceased parents, propping up her baby-self on their laps, made her smile and she touched their faces with her index finger, whispering; "Love you, Mum… Love you, Dad… I'll always l-love you. The Hunters will take care of me now. No more Children's Home. I h-hope you're proud of me…"
Religion was low on Dinah's agenda, but she imagined her parents looking down on her, and as she lay back down in her bed, she hugged the photograph to her chest, closing her eyes seconds later.
Finally, she belonged.