And so, after what seems like an eternity and then some, this story is drawing to an end. Thank you chiefly to Helen, who is wonderful, and to everyone who has reviewed, encouraged and nudged me to get a move on and write. I owe you all a huge hug and a huge thank you.
And so it began. Maggie Doyle was back. Hasham and Doyle, Doyle and Hasham. Actually, Hasham, Doyle and family. Mt Thomas had been delighted to have their favourite copper back, even if she hadn't reclaimed that particular role back just yet. And she had been just as delighted with them. Yes, people had been curious, and yes, there had been a lot of questions, but, as ever, Maggie had handled it all with her usual tact and diplomacy, only resorting to a blunt 'none of your business' once (compared to PJ, who tended to be the opposite, but then tact and diplomacy were never his strengths).
They'd rented a house, a three bedroomed house with a huge garden for the boys, who were delighted with what, for them, was a play area the size of a football pitch. Maggie had enrolled them in playgroup, which they loved, while she and PJ worked on the mountain of paperwork that was involved in getting her reinstated in the police force. PJ was back at work, not so covertly involving her in a lot of his cases, which, surprisingly enough was causing no problems whatsoever – except to the criminal fraternity who began to feel rather doomed.
Chris Reilly had been delighted to have her ally and friend back, and their friendship had gone from strength to strength, the boys adopting her as Aunty Chris within days. She'd become their favourite babysitter, which had nothing to do with the fact that each twin got a Freddo Frog each time Aunty Chris came round for the night – or day, depending on where work took their parents.
Zoe and Nick had moved back to Mt Thomas, and Nick was soon once again the bane of Tom Croydon's working life, and the cause of many a wry smile. Zoe had rejoined the hospital, but had had to go on leave a few months after she arrived, delighted to announce that a Mini Shultz would soon be joining the ranks. Tom and Joe could not wait for their baby cousin to arrive, and set about telling Zoe exactly what they would be playing with him, while Nick put both the fear of God, and an incredible sense of pride and joy into Tom Croydon by asking him to become an honorary future Grampa.
Kay and Luka visited often, and Maggie and her family returned the favour. The boys still adored Luka, and while they missed each other greatly, both Kay and Maggie agreed that it was better that she and Luka stayed where they were. Luka was settled, happy and flourishing in his new job at the supermarket. He was the life and soul of the supermarket, the customers adored him, his smiling face around the place as he did his odd jobs making what could have been a mundane chore that little bit more bearable.
And then there was Maggie and PJ.
Maggie Doyle and PJ Hasham.
Maggie Doyle, who was going to remain Maggie Doyle, even though she had the world's most beautiful engagement ring on her finger, and the world's happiest fiancé. They'd talked about it, lain there for hours and talked about it, and both of them had come to the conclusion that she needed to grow into her name again, to own it again. That didn't mean that they couldn't get married, women often kept their own name and got married into the bargain. PJ hadn't minded at all, Maggie's 'Doylishness' was one of the things that had always drawn him to her.
They'd picked up their lives where they had left off, and at the same time had started anew. Familiar existed alongside the unknown future, and neither would have it any different. The future held so many possibilities, so many new chances, and they would face them as a team, as part of each other – they would face them together because they knew each other, they knew each other's hearts, knew their souls.
They would face them together because they could.
Because she was back, and because they could both now face the future as one.
PJ smiled to himself as he held her in his arms, the door to his office closed and shielding them from view. The man made memories that had been so creatively forced upon her and the crippling memories that had almost brought him to his knees, they were all in the past and it was time to move forward. It was time to let it go, and it was time to celebrate.
Definitely time to celebrate, PJ's grin widened as he once again gazed down at the small white stick that she held so tightly in her hand, conclusive evidence for two fine police officers, that everything was changing, that their happiness was only going to continue to grow, as was their family.
Doyle and Hasham, Hasham and Doyle, memories and future combined. The world was theirs and they were going to grab on to it with both hands and thoroughly enjoy the ride.