Oops, I forgot to post this chapter! Just ran into it in my folders, and did the Picard facepalm :D

Also, if you like this kind of John/Thorin+Wren romance, run to inkitt dot com, and grab a FREE COPY of my story "Due North." You can find it in Amour Romance Novel Writing contest. It's a very nice publishing site. There are just five days left, and if you click 'claim a free copy' you will significantly raise my chances to win.

Thank you!

Katya Kolmakov

The last drop which makes the cup of Wren's patience to overflow is a lolly. Her eye starts twitching when a bat puppet goes into the basket; she's gritting her teeth after a Peppa plushie lands on top - but a lolly?! That's when she decides that he's gone too far! Spoiling her child as part of his 'Wren conquest' - she can somewhat tolerate, since it's Christmas; and maybe she thinks that Mira doesn't get spoiled enough. But a lolly! He doesn't even ask! What if Mira can't have sugar? Or there's a quota? And Wren was watching him - he didn't check the list of the ingredients!

Wren sinks her nails into his sleeve covered arm, and drags him aside. He glanced down at her, and now he looks worried. He should be, in the name of mulled wine and mince-pies!

"We are done," she hisses at him, her irises probably shooting enraged sparks like the fireworks over the Eye. "You're giving her these presents - because you've already promised them to her, and I'm not being a baddie here, and won't take them away - but after that, you and I are done."

"Wren..." he starts, and Wren growls at him.

"You didn't check the ingredients!"

"What?" He gives her a flabbergasted look.

"You didn't check the ingredients!" She picks up the red and white monstrosity from his basket. It's the size of Mira's face, for Santa's sake! Seriously?! Wren glares at him, and brandishes the lolly like an oaken branch. "Consider this your goodbye gift to her!"

"Mommy, would you like some tea?" Mira's polite voice comes from below, and Wren squeezes her eyes quickly taking her temper under control.

"Sorry, sweetie, what is it?" she asks a second later, in an even jolly tone, schooling her face in a saccharine smile.

Mira points at an Alice in Wonderland style tea party set up in the center of the shop.

"Tea? You always feel better after you have a cuppa."

Wren properly doesn't feel like playing right now, but she takes a deep calming breath in, and nods.

"And you too, John," Mira adds, in her more common demanding tone. "You will be mother."

"Why is he mother? I always pour us tea!" Wren squeaks in indignation.

"Because he's taller, and can reach across the table," Mira gives her an 'isn't it obvious' look, and marches to the table.

Wren throws John a look as sharp and cold as the icicles on the Trafalgar square fountain of 2013; and stomps to the toy table, her chin raised high.

The three of them sit down. Thorington's knees are near his ears; even the vertically challenged Wren is struggling.

A toy teapot - porcelain, Peppa bearing, and disgustingly pink - is passed to Thorington, who is as cheery as a certain furry green recluse whose cave overlooks the merry town of Whoville.

"Not too full, please," Mira commands him mannerly. "I take cream."

Thorington throws Wren a dark look, and she presses her lips. He then pours imaginary tea in Mira's cup - and after a pause, in the one in front of Wren. She picks up the milk jug and offers it to him, raising one eyebrow. He nods, still giving her the perfect Scrooge impersonation.

Mira then picks up the three-tier platter, and passes it to Thorington.

"It's a talking sarnie, John." She gives him a pointed look. His eyebrows jump up. Wren groans. Unlike him, she knows the drill.

"And what does the sarnie say?" he asks, giving the empty space a suspicious look.

"Sarnies don't talk. They don't have a mouth." Mira rolls her eyes. Wren have to shamefully admit, that's her gesture, copied with astonishing precision. "You take a sarnie, and talk. We do that when someone pushes me at school, and then I kick them, and Mum needs to know the truth." And then to finish Wren up, Mira repeats their usual line, "Talking is the key to understanding."

"Sweetie, John doesn't need a talking sarnie," Wren tries to interfere.

"No, I want it." Thorington narrows his eyes at Wren, and picks up an invisible sarnie, and places it on his plate. "And you will take one as well."

"Me?" Wren defensively winces away from the plate Thorington is now handing her with a fake polite expression. "I'm OK, thank you. I'm not… hungry!"

"You don't need to be hungry to take a talking sarnie, Mum. And it's your favourite. Egg and cress." Mira points at the tray with her eyes, and Wren gives into her fate.

She picks up the fake sandwich, and sighs.

"John, you go first." Mira mannerly sips from her Peppa cup. Thorington is quiet, with muscle knots moving on his jaw, and then he pins Wren with a heavy glare.

"I don't understand why your Mum is unhappy with me. I thought we're having a grand evening."

Mira stirs her cuppa, and using the spoon as pointer she passes the right to speak to Wren. Wren scoffs.

"I can see that John sees nothing wrong in this evening. All I see is him barging in and making all decisions and not asking my permission."

"John?" Mira prompts.

"I don't see anything to ask permission for." Thorington sounds haughty. "I invited you and your Mum to dinner, and now we're having a jolly shopping trip." To calm herself, Wren picks up a spoon and starts stirring - it's more of drilling, to be honest.


Wren exhales a long calming breath.

"We're not supposed to have a shopping trip altogether. Everyone's presents have already been..." Wren swallows the word 'bought.' "Have been sent out by Father Christmas. And we have traditions. We were supposed to eat chicken alfredo tonight. And we've eaten so many biscuits in the last few days, that Mira surely doesn't need a lolly the size of a grown up turkey!" By the end of her speech Wren loses her composure, and shakes the spoon in front of Thorington's long nose.

"If we do everything your way, I'll be let in as a guest!" Thorington has lost his bottle too, and is now talking to Wren, having forgotten he's supposed to be holding an invisible sarnie in his hand. "I don't want you to..." He searches for the right words. "You'll just add a chair at the table for me. I don't want a chair!"

Wren's staring at him without understanding, and Mira pats his upper arm.

"You need to explain it, John. Would you like an explaining scone?"

"I don't want to be invited to join, and then asked to leave in the morning," Thorington apparently manages without the scone. "You ran away! And you will do it again!" He's raising his voice now. "I need you to let me in! Completely!"

There's silence in the shop, and Wren squirms on the tiny uncomfortable chair, under the unblinking judgemental stare of two shelves of plush Tiggers, Toads, and Peter Rabbits.

"You can't just… spring it on me like that," she mumbles. "I need to get used to it, to process..." Wren straightens up her napkin, eyes lowered.

"It's true." Mira nods, presumably slicing another cake. "She always asks for a day to think things over. She needs three cuppas to know what she thinks."

Wren feels Thorington's eyes on her, and she gingerly lifts her face.

"And what do you mean you don't want a chair? Are you going to eat standing up?" She tries a lighter tone, with a tentative smile.

"I mean, not a guest chair, with upholstery that doesn't match the living room set. I want a half of everything." Judging by the Roger Moore eyebrow, it's not only the living room furniture he's talking about.

"You can't have a half," Mira answers decisively. "It's mine. We share everything."

Mira looks around her, clearly losing interest in the tea party. "Oh, look, railway!" She jumps up and rushes to the other corner of the shop.

Thorington slightly shifts in the chair - and Wren swoons, because he turned to keep an eye on Mira. She chews her bottom lip to gather her courage, and then offers, "Maybe you can..." Wren awkwardly clears her throat. "You can have a third."

Thorington whips his head to look at her.

"But you need to start checking the ingredients," she adds, and he gives her a wide grin.

Back home, Mira bounces to her room to change in her jammies; and Thorington is lingering in the living room, as if absorbed in studying the Christmas tree.

Wren helps to brush the little teeth, turns on Tardis night light, and kisses her offspring goodnight.

"Is John going to be here in the morning?" Mira asks, busily arranging the army of her plushies around her. It's a laborious task, they are about fifty of them.

"Um… maybe?" Wren answers, and Mira throws her a sharp look.

"It's about the bed, right?" she asks, and Wren freezes, her hand hovering over the lime green sock she was going to pick up from the floor. "He said he wanted the half of all furniture, and you don't want to share the bed."

Mira couldn't be any more wrong.

"And he's big. He will take a lot of room," Mira continues her musings. "And then in the morning, you will have to give him the turn in your bathroom as well." Wren didn't need the image that her libido readily supplied: Thorington stepping out of a shower, a tiny fluffy towel precariously sitting on his hipbones.

"Well, I will have to somehow manage, I reckon," Wren answers in a disobedient raspy voice. "It'll take some time to get used to it, I suppose..."

"He's nice though," Mira announces, and Wren throws her a surprised look.

"Yeah?" Wren ruffles Mira's orange curls.

"Yeah," Mira firmly states, and yawns.

After kisses and cuddles, Wren is slowly closing the door, when she hears a sleepy voice, "Say goodnight to him. And tomorrow, if he's still here, he gets a kiss too."

Wren smiles, shakes her head at how different her life has suddenly become, and leaves.

One thing, for sure - coming up to a large male from behind, wrapping her arms around his middle, and pressing her cheek into a warm jumper clad back is a bliss.

"I sleep on the right side of the bed," she mutters, and feels a low throaty chuckle shake his body.

"Well, how perfect is that? I definitely prefer the left one."

He turns, and his long heavy arms wrap around her shoulders. Wren smiles into the bright blue eyes.

"Do you skate?" she asks, and he smirks lopsidedly.

"Luke Boothroyd has nothing on me."

Wren quickly rises on her tip toes, kisses him - and then picks up his hand and leads him to the bedroom.


P.S. Probably, till Christmas 2017 :)