In the end, it was easier than either of them had been anticipating. They took the train into town on the Saturday, and went straight there. Jonathan hung back and let Maddy go up the stairs herself, and followed only when she had opened the front door and taken a step inside.

They went out that evening to a local bistro for a meal and then wandered back, happy with a full belly and a wine flush, having shared a bottle of Pinot Noir between them.

It was, however, somewhat bizarre, to him at least, going back to that reality where the boundaries between them had been wider and seemed to date back for eons. Before, she'd been the one in charge, this force of nature. Now she was quieter, more subdued, although there were more and more flashes of the old Maddy re-appearing as time went on. He was more relieved about that than he cared to admit. The bond they'd forged now was stronger and felt more resilient, to both of them. Neither wanted to lose it but they were both uncertain how to retain it if normality returned around about them.

They arrived back to the flat and decided to have a cup of tea before bed, winding down. Then, unsure what else to do, Jonathan headed for his usual spot on the couch, pulling out the duvet and pillows hidden behind it. Maddy hesitated a moment as she saw him do this but didn't know how to articulate the slight sense of fear at the thought of having to sleep in a bed without him or, for that matter, the disappointment which suddenly struck her. Would their newfound closeness be lost now that she was trying to regain some independence?

She went to bed herself and managed to drift off, probably thanks to the wine making her drowsy, but she woke with a start a few hours later, her breath heavy and sweat on her brow, having had a nightmare for the first time in two weeks. Then she realised he was there, half sitting up on the bed beside her, holding her close to his chest and murmuring soothing words into her hair. He'd been unable to sleep at all, trying unsuccessfully to dampen the mix of emotions running through him, and when he heard a scream coming from the bedroom, he'd rushed in to help her. As soon as he realised she was awake, he clammed up and let go of her, awkward and unsure. "Sorry" he began, "I heard you having a nightmare…"

"Don't be sorry, you big wombat" she said affectionately, as she sat alongside him, their backs against the headboard. "What were you going to do? Leave me to scream the building down and wake all the neighbours?" There was that humour offensive again, trying to deflect her emotions as far away as possible.

"Don't do that" he sighed. "You're allowed to be scared".

She took a long look at him in the dark shadows and then, gathering her nerve, she quietly said, "I'm not so scared when you're here." Stilling her beating heart, she lent towards him and softly planted a kiss on his lips, then, just as fast, she turned over, snuggled back under the duvet, and squeezed her eyes tight, listening for any reaction.

Typical of Jonathan, there was nothing. Complete silence as he froze, not knowing what to do next, working through a dozen possibilities in that unfathomable brain of his. He knew what he wanted to do, that was undeniable to him now. It wasn't that they hadn't kissed before, and there was even the one time they'd got their act together and made love, but this was different. The low-level panic from the realisation that he didn't want to be apart from her had hit him full force as he'd lain awake on the couch. He was sure now, for the first time ever, that he wanted more, needed more. He knew that Maddy didn't necessarily intend for anything to happen in this moment, so he simply buried himself under the covers and closed his eyes, feeling the heat of her body next to his.

The fact that he hadn't bolted from the bed in haste was a huge relief for Maddy, and she smiled to herself. She inched backwards, spooning her body into the curve of his, and let out a contented sigh as he adjusted himself, draping an arm across her body. Folding his hand into her own, she realised that, despite the on-going trials and tribulations of her relationship with Jonathan, things had irrevocably changed between them, and she trusted someone else as much as herself for the first time ever in her life. She closed her eyes, happy to be there, and felt him squeeze her hand in the darkness.

FIN