You have no idea how hard it was writing this epilogue. Yeah, I know it's short... but it is, as you can see, a diary entry. I thought this would be a good way to end it, but it was tricky writing it... trying to tie up loose ends etc. That, and I felt sad writing this, because it is the last chapter. I hope it's not a let-down in any way. Thank you everyone who ever reviewed... particularly the people who have been with me on this from the start. You kept me going... I just hope you're all happy with the final result.


Diary: November 29th.

It feels like ages since I last wrote in this thing. I just haven't found the time… then suddenly I got this urge to write down what's been happening. It's been over a month since I left school and everything elsebehind, but it feels like it's been longer. And so much has happened, I just had to write it down.

So, Erik and I have been moving about quite a bit. Actually, we never stay in one place for much more than a week. It's weird, living out of a bag, but I'm trying to make it into a kind of adventure… like being on the run. I guess we are, in a way, although it's actually more because of Erik than me. He's so restless. Sometimes I think that knock on the head did a lot more damage than we first thought… but probably not. It worried me at first, especially when he refused to see a doctor, but he's fine, physically anyway. Emotionally... I guess he's still not sure of things. This probably isn't the ideal situation he had planned.

Still, at least he didn't have to write all those letters explaining things to all the people I left behind. The one I wrote to my family was probably the hardest letter I've ever had to write in my life. I kept it simple, just explained that I'd left school because of the pressure from work and other things, and that I would go and stay with a friend for awhile. I spoke to my dad on the phone, briefly. He seemed more worried than anything, but hearing my voice seemed to calm him down a bit. He was sorry for all the pressure I had been put under and not making sure I was happy. I told him what I had planned for the future, and he was really understanding. I was surprised to get away with everything so easily. I think it was because they found out about the whole mess with Charlotte. It turned out to be a good excuse for leaving. Actually, her bullying probably saved me from a whole lot of trouble. I sent a letter to the school saying I left for personal reasons and a little while later I got an e-mail from Meg (e-mail's pretty much the only way I can stay in regular contact with anyone now), and she said the police aren't investigating Charlotte's poisoning anymore. The whole thing just kind of fell through. Meg said it was probably because everyone backed me up about how much she hated me… so I guess they decided she only accused me out of spite. That and it wasn't doing the school's image much good.

So that was a relief anyway. I have no idea if people are still looking for me. I try not to watch the news on TV in case they are… and I try to keep in contact with the most important people. Except one, of course.

I haven't had any contact with Richard, for Erik's sake. At least I know he's okay now. I was worried for awhile that he'd be in trouble after I left. But Meg tells me he's doing okay, and he's not going to prison, thank god. I guess she tells him how I'm doing, which is fine. I still think about him a lot. Not in a romantic way… I just miss him like I miss lots of things I left behind me. I keep all that quiet though, because I don't regret what I've done… and I'd never want Erik to think that I did. There are still some things we can't talk about, and the past is one of them. So we talk about the future instead. I was surprised when Erik suggested that, after things have settled down again, I could go back to school, finish my exams, and then move on to university. He's obsessed with helping me fulfil my dream and making sure I'm happy. The idea gave me such a thrill… knowing that I didn't have to give up on my dream yet. It just made me all the more certain that I'd made the right choice.

But, obviously, I couldn't just charge straight on with these plans. There was something else to think about, something which made me understand even more that the "right choice" isn't always the easiest or nicest one. In the end, after a long talk, it wasn't that hard for me or Erik to decide what to do about the baby. I could see just from looking at him as he spoke that he wasn't prepared, emotionally, for it… and to be honest I wasn't either. So we made a decision about what was best and I don't regret it. Well, maybe a little... but I wouldn't exactly call it regret. More like a feeling of nostalgia. Sometimes I let myself imagine what it might have been like if we had decided to keep the baby and it doesn't seem that bad. Deep down a part of me feels inescapably miserable at the loss… guilty because part of the reason was because I wanted to lead my own life. Sometimes, when I think about it too much, I start to cry…

Still… I think we made the right choice for all our sakes. If you're not ready… you're not.

Erik seemed to think so too. He worried a lot about how I felt. It's weird, seeing him this way. Sometimes he's like a different person… not in a bad way. Actually, it's quite sweet… maybe a little suffocating from time to time, but I don't mind so much. I don't even mind his mood swings. He still has them, and I still get a little scared. But I'm learning to cope. It's starting to become a sixth sense with me… knowing how Erik's feeling or if I've accidentally said the wrong thing. But I just change the subject or, if it looks like it could turn nasty, I leave the room and let him cool off for a bit. It doesn't bother me that he still behaves like this… it's a part of who he is. And when he's not angry, he goes back to being one of the kindest, gentlest people I know.

He actually suggested teaching me Italian, since I've got so much spare time these days. It's like he wants to make sure my time with him is not wasted. I'm not sure if this was the only reason… to give me something to do when we're not being musical. I like to think that he's planning on taking me back to Italy some day and maybe settling down. He hasn't said so, but I hope it does happen. Who knows… maybe I could go to an Italian university, if I learn enough of the language. Then we could live there permanently and I'd be able to see dad, Paula and Joseph again. Dad said I should come home, but I told him I was happier back here for now, but I would come home soon. I miss them so much… and it's hard not being able to communicate with them much. I can't wait to see them again. I know one day I'll have to explain things to them properly…I've told them I will do when I'm ready. Until then, they have to wait a little while.

In the meantime, it's just me and Erik. And I'm actually quite happy about that. Happier than I've felt in a long time. We're still not quite on the same level as we once were… and maybe we never will be. Things are different now… but not in a bad way, I don't think. In fact, I believe that some day we'll be even happier than we ever were. Slowly but surely, Erik's getting better… he doesn't worry so much about things… about how happy I am. The more time I spend with him the more he realises I really do want to be with him. At first he was so cautious, like he was afraid of scaring me off… so this time it was me that had to lead things along a bit. I was nervous too… so we started off small. I'll take his hand at the table when we're eating, or kiss his forehead before leaving a room,and he'll look at me for a moment. I can't describe his look… love, hope and tenderness all rolled into one intense gaze… still withthat lingering hint of disbelief. But it's fading slowly, and one day it'll be gone.

Sometimes I want to say "I love you" to him. The words will just threaten to burst out of my chest, and then I'll just want to cry, because it's true but I just can't bring myself to say it just yet. I do love him… and one day I'll tell him so again and be able to hear him say it back. I don't know why, but the thought of that scares me a little when I realise how extraordinary our relationship is. Sometimes I think I just want us to be an ordinary couple… and then I stop myself and say "what the hell does being ordinary matter?" And it doesn't… because, I think, when you love someone enough… enough to want to become a better person, and when you're willing to sacrifice everything… that kind of feeling can make even the most normal person into something else… something extraordinary.

And how many people in the world can say they feel that way? Not many, I bet. And it makes me so grateful… to my family… to Meg… Richard.

But most of all to Erik.

I wouldn't be who I am now if it weren't for him.

"We are shaped and fashioned by what we love."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The End