I'm still alive but I'm barely breathing. Lol, did not mean to plagiarize The Script. Awesome song by the way. I just meant to reassure you that I am forever committed to finishing this story even if it does take more than a while to update. Heartfelt thanks to those who keep reminding me that there are people waiting for the continuation of the duke and duchess' story.
The Rose Garden.
At seven o`clock.
Hermione clutched the little note against her heart and smiled inwardly, her elation stemming from what could only be described as relief. She had woken up with the note lying on the pillow next to hers. Considering their current situation, the invitation had been the last thing she was expecting to receive from her husband.
She had all but given up believing her marriage still had a chance of surviving.
Harry's recuperation had been thankfully swift, yet his bouts of energy were always ill-timed. Whenever Hermione was elsewhere, either procuring herbs by the village or strolling along the riverbank, Harry seemed to choose those moments to be fully active. William's suspicious appearance each time made it worse, his recaps of their little "adventures" only adding fuel to the fire.
In exchange for these stories, Harry grew more and more distant. He saw and heard nothing, merely and practically commanded her to stay away from Will. Seeing how it was affecting her marriage, Hermione decided it was best to follow his advice. However, it was always William who found her, not she who sought out his company. But if she were to blame somebody for their situation, it was not William. His fault was only for wanting her company.
Not telling the truth was hers.
Familiar with her fondness for children, Willam had brought Hermione along to a celebration in the village. A harmless two-hour visit turned into an all-night absence as the weather turned awful just as she and William thought to leave. An already shady night, the only safe choice was to stay. Their arrival in Godric's Hollow the following day did not go unnoticed. Harry had been pacing back and forth in his chambers when Hermione had gone into her own room. Knowing that if he found out the truth, she foolishly denied William had been with her, only to have William himself, betray her secret.
"I have forgotten how pleasurable it is to celebrate with simple English country folks. I believe I shall thank Mr. Colter again for inviting us. Would you like to come with, Hermione?"
Hermione had seen the murderous look in Harry's eyes and felt the explanation die in her throat. In that moment, nothing could have made Harry see sense. The fact that she lied to him had been the cause of their estrangement.
The first two weeks went by with him still putting in effort to talk, albeit only about superficial things like the manor, the staff, the weather. She tried to placate him with planned picnics, simple walks, or rides in the forest, but all her efforts went in vain. His rejection went from soft dismissals like "Perhaps later…" or "I would care for nothing more, but…" To "I do not need a diversion right now..."; "Averley does not seem to mind your company, perhaps he can go with you…" or "You can always go alone."
And then his final blow: "If I want your company, I shall ask. Please stop inquiring when it is clear I do not care for it."
Hermione wished his indifference would turn into anger. Anger meant he still cared; disregard said otherwise. Hermione refused to stoop to his level of punishment, though. As far as she was concerned, she had done nothing wrong but tried to protect what was already a fragile relationship. If he would only listen, this would not have gotten far. Despite William's intentional interference, she had given Harry no reason to think she was disloyal.
She only hoped he would soon come to his senses.
Not only for her sake, she shuddered.
Or even his.
Harry could not stop pacing, a scene in his mind playing over and over in his head. He had been contemplating for days as to how to go about offering a truce with his wife. Nervous as he should be, he partly blamed the chilly air that blew against him every so often for his sudden cold feet.
For weeks, he had let his justifiable yet totally irrational, jealousy over William come between himself and his wife. To say that he did not trust her was absurd, but then again, she was only human, and so was he. He also did not trust himself to not explode into fits of jealousy around her. So instead of getting angry, he had chosen to ignore her. It had not been the best solution, but rather than getting into fights that would have led two passionate and stubborn people nowhere, he chose to ignore the situation.
William Averley was the bane of his existence. It had occurred to Harry a million times to send the bastard away, but Hermione was adamant not to. With such a support backing him, he could hardly blame the son of a bitch for trying to steal his wife, growing bolder with each effort. And he, Harry, all but physically pushed his wife into Averley's eager arms.
"Damn!" Harry cursed.
How could he be so insecure when it came to his wife? Her love and loyalty were with him. Yet why could he still see a chance of her leaving him for her best friend?
"Perhaps because there is a thin line between love and hate?"
That nagging voice at the back of his head taunted.
He may not say it aloud, but perchance Hermione's hatred towards him still existed. She only knew him for a few months, loved him in the last couple, but had hated him for seven years. No amount of love, no matter how strong, could erase that completely.
Or maybe it was only because he was a coward.
He had put his heart on a silver platter before, gave everything he could for the love of his mother. That love made him weak, made him a different man. It galled him to think of what he had to do, but he saw no other choice. To live with Hermione yet not be with her was no longer an option. Either she chose him or she chose Averley. That's why tonight, instead of following his recently acquired routine of drowning himself with a bottle of wine and self-pity, he had made up his mind to face their differences and find out the truth.
Closing the windows to vanquish the air circulating in his chambers, he approached the connecting door to his wife's room and knocked. When silence ensued, he frowned. It was half-past seven, and from what he could deduct from her usual activities, she would be in her room, enjoying a book. He went inside and was greeted by an "oh" and a belated curtsy from her maid.
"Good evening, Your Grace," Eloise said with a frown
He responded with one of his. "Where is my wife?"
"She is by the Rose Garden, Your Grace."
"At half past seven?"
Frown deeper, Eloise walked over to where Hermione's vanity mirror and table were. From the one drawer that she pulled out, she retrieved what looked to be a piece of paper. Holding it out, she said. "She told me this came from you."
Taking the note from her outstretched hand, Harry read out loud. "The Rose Garden. At seven o'clock."
Not one second did he waste thinking whether or not he wrote her the letter and had just forgotten about it. He knew from whom it came, but as to how on earth Hermione had believed it came from him, he could not surmise. He always signed his letters with his name, no matter whom he addressed it to. The growing suspicion in his mind not only overshadowed his initial plan, it enraged him, enough to crumple the letter, toss it in the fire and slam his palms on the wooden table.
Eloise gasped in alarm. "B-begging your pardon, Your Grace, b-but I do believe that my mistress really does believe it is from you. She even-"
"It is none of your concern, Eloise." Harry said dismissively with fire in his voice. He strode out of the room and started out for The Rose Garden. Whatever William was planning with his wife, whether it was a tryst in the Garden or an arrangement to get rid of him, he will be damned if he did not do anything to thwart it.
"Good evening, Hermione."
Turning towards a familiar yet unexpected voice, Hermione felt her heart plummet. "William."
"I am glad you responded to my letter," he walked towards her, his hands behind his back, his gaze calculating. "I did not dare to think I would be eating alone tonight."
Hermione stepped back from the completely set table she had been admiring only a second ago. She did not care for unfamiliar gleam in William's eyes. She felt the initial stirring of annoyance grow within her. She had not wanted to believe that her friend had changed, but she realized, albeit too late, that years apart could have and already had made him a stranger.
He clearly did not care for her hurt feelings or he would have done a noble deed by not insinuating himself in their lives at this very crucial period. The crazed expression in his eyes was a whole different story though. But was he a physical threat? In all the years she had known him, seen his anger, witnessed his grieving, he had never raised a hand on anyone. She was hopeful that with at least that, he had not changed.
If she was not alone, she would risk it and try to walk away. But his size and his strength, not to mention the determination in his stance, told her to be sensible.
"To tell you the truth, I believed it was Harry-"Hermione closed her mouth. To have come only because she was expecting Harry would definitely bruise William's pride. She picked up the long-stemmed rose lying beside the plate and smiled at him instead. "Thank you for doing this."
William returned her smile. There was something about it that neither looked genuine nor eccentric. More calculated, she belatedly realized. Come to think of it, he never smiled that way before.
"You are welcome." William pulled out the chair for her. As she sat down, his fingers brushed against her shoulders. She shivered. "That husband of yours seems unconcerned of late. Dare I hope you feel the same?"
"Thank you for your concern, Will, but I would have my relationship with Harry remain private," Hermione pointed out as she watched him take a seat.
Her thoughts disappeared in a rush as she felt his hand lie atop hers. "Perhaps. But friends share their concerns. When you suffer, I suffer." When she tried to subtly remove it from under his, his grip engulfed hers.
If there ever was an alarm to heed, this certainly was one. Her voice cracked as she tried to calmly talk him out of his uncharacteristic display of strength. "Will, you're hurting me."
"Forgive me," he let go of her hand and settled his back on the chair, "I'm afraid being near you has gotten me quite aggressive."
Hermione rubbed her wrist as she continued to look at William warily. How far should she let him take this? It was quite clear that William was behaving oddly and that each minute that she spent in his company meant one more minute of putting her safety at risk. Harry was right. It was time for William to leave.
"Eat or your dinner shall get cold." William pointed at her dome-covered plate. When she obediently lifted it up, her first instinct was to gag. It was some sort of fish, Hermione didn't dare find out which. All that registered in her brain was that she had to get it away from her as soon possible. Pushing it away, she felt an acidic feeling creep up her throat. Hastily, she reached out for the glass of water in front of her and took a sip. The unmistakable taste of wine glazed her tongue and she spat it onto the ground before she realized that William was eyeing her curiously.
His eyes kept moving from her, to her untouched plate, and then to her glass. His eyes narrowed. "Are you ill?"
"My stomach's not very agreeable this evening." Hermione excused lamely. She looked away as he continued his perusal.
"Is this what he has done to you," William whispered. "Ill with worry, weak with sadness? Why do you stay with him, Hermione? He cannot give you what you need."
"He loves me," Hermione said softy, but even she heard the uncertainty in her voice.
"No man who loves his wife would let you go through anything like this."
"It's your fault," Hermione swallowed, refusing to look at William. "If you had not purposefully made him jealous, he would not have gotten furious."
William crossed his arms. "All I had done was tried to make you see with whom you belong. It is not my fault, Hermione, that your husband is insecure. Or perhaps you have given him reason to believe you love me more than you love him."
Hermione's head sharply turned his way. Her eyes were suddenly alight with fury. "You? I no longer hold any love for you. You are not the William I knew. The William I knew would know why I am feeling this way and the William I knew would not do anything to jeopardize my happiness."
William stared at her for the longest time. Then he said, without breaking his stare. "Yes, the William you knew would sacrifice everything for you. He would have gone through the lengths of making sure that your happiness would come before his. But I can't be him-anymore. Now I am selfish, enough to go after I want."
"What has made you believe that I could ever want, much less think, of being with you?" Hermione asked angrily. "I have never given any indication that I would rather have you than Harry!"
"Perhaps, but your mind is very fickle. I know that you prefer a quiet life over a chaotic one, which your husband has given you nothing but. Do not defend him, Hermione, we both know that drama may be part of your life but you have given everything to escape it."
Hermione snatched the napkin on her lap and tossed it angrily on the table. "We have been estranged for years, William, I have changed. Clearly, you have as well." Pushing back her chair, Hermione stood up in haste. Before she could even take a step away from the table, her world spun, her eyes glazed over and her knees gave beneath her.
Out of nowhere, William had her in his arms, his hands splaying her back in support.
"You are ill." His eyes flashed worry as he looked down at her.
Hermione shook her head and tried to break free from his grasp, but he wouldn't have any of it. Even as she tried to fight him, her strength was worn out. All she could do was clutch his arms and hold on. Looking up, she tried to search for her friend in those eyes. She saw nothing but coldness, a coldness that made her shiver. Hermione reached up to touch his cheek. "You are still in there, William, I know. Tell me I have not lost you."
William opened his mouth to speak but thunderous footsteps reverberated near them, followed by a loud thud. In her daze, Hermione could only turn her head to where the sound had come from. It did not immediately register to her that her husband was but a few feet away, looking murderously at them, albeit panting heavily. She only belatedly realized what her current pose with William looked like when he spoke.
"Isn't-this-a-cozy-sight?" Harry asked in between words.
Hermione heard William curse but paid him no heed. She tried to push him away, but he held on. "Please do not think anything of this, Harry."
"Forgive my manners," he remarked with full of snide, ignoring her as he scanned the setting before him, "I must be disturbing your dinner."
When William loosened his hold, Hermione saw the chance to pry away. Immediately, she rushed over to Harry's side, her light-headedness replaced with a more urgent need to be mobile. She clutched his forearm, but he snatched it away as if her hands were on fire and he had just gotten burnt. Never mind that, she thought, as she attempted to touch him again.
"My lady, if you so much as let your fingertip graze a part of me, I swear to God, I shall kill your lover right here, right now."
Hermione's hand flew to her mouth. She had never seen Harry so menacing before, his eyes ablaze with fire, his jaw so stiff, barely moving as each taunting word came out of his mouth. In her shock, she had not thought to deny William as her lover. The absence thereof did not go unnoticed.
All of a sudden, Harry just shut down. From hot to cold, he simply turned off any emotional connection. Hermione felt it even if she was not touching him. She could see it in his eyes; she could felt it in her heart.
In one desperate attempt to bring him back to her, Hermione lunged forward just as Harry turned around to leave but William caught her.
"Stop it! He does not want you." William hissed. "Do not make yourself a fool anymore. It is not good for you and it is not good for the baby."
Hermione's struggles halted and she twisted her head around to look at William. How had he known? She had never told anybody and had been very careful over the last weeks. Harry did not even know himself. Three weeks ago had not been the right time to tell him. Unreasonable as it was, she had no way to tell how he would react. She had been hoping tonight she could finally do it, but it was William she had faced, not Harry.
Behind them, Harry stopped in mid-stride, unsure of what he had just heard.
"I have had enough of this," William said in resignation, sighing for effect. He leaned over, all gentle and romantic, as if to murmur soothing words in her ear. But what Hermione heard was nothing close to comforting.
She reared back, her eyes wide all of a sudden. William's eyes looked distant as he continued to look into her eyes. "What?" Hermione whispered, frantic. "No, no-he will hate me."
"He will never let you go," he smiled at her gently, but it was only for Harry's sake. "Break his heart, Hermione, so he can walk away with no more than that."
Hermione blinked several times. She could not believe this was happening. That everything had boiled down to this moment. Would there be time for making amends? She could not bear to think that there won't be, so she willed herself to be strong. Right now, she held the key to their survival.
"All right," Hermione sobbed out loud. William released his grip on hers but kept her firmly at his side. His hand was at her waist, a reminder that he held their lives in it. In Harry's eyes, however, it symbolized support for what she was about to tell him.
Hermione closed her eyes.
She had to think he would come to her rescue. He had, always had, and hopefully, even after this, he will.
"It's…the child is…is William's."
Harry did not dare move, not even as much look at her face. He wanted to scream, wanted to kill. But to what avail? Hermione was not in harm's way. Nobody was pointing a gun to her head. She was saying this on her own volition. And for him to beg, to plead for her to say that the child was his, was unthinkable.
"I am sorry," he heard her say.
The wind howled, swaying the trees' branches above. His breathing became laborious and his fists clenched at his sides. If there was something amiss in the air that he should have caught on, he ignored it. All he wanted to acknowledge was the acidic feeling in his stomach that made equally bitter words rise from his throat to the open air. "Spare me your apologies, madam. I am glad it is not mine. My deepest regret goes to the child."
Hermione choked back the sob that threatened to escape her lips. Someday he will realize, someday he will apologize. Get yourself together. Drive him away, Hermione, drive him away to safety.
"Perhaps I do not deserve to be someone's mother. But you, my lord, do not deserve to be a husband either. In that, we can say we are even."
Harry smiled bitterly. "Well played, Hermione. Well played."
With that, he turned around to walk away, and then stopped. He shook his head. No, this cannot end like this. He made a move to turn back and face her, face William, only to halt when a couple of men emerged from behind the bushes. Sharply, his head turned when a similar sound came from behind him. At least half a dozen men were surrounding them.
From beneath the shadowy corner of the maze, a decrepit man stepped forward. He looked so frail Hermione thought in a second or two she would hear a bone breaking. But the man was quiet as he moved forward, albeit slowly, his staff bearing most of his weight,
"How very touching."
"This was not the plan." William hissed. "Take one more step and I shall-"
"Do shut your mouth, Averley." The man commanded with more exasperation than authority. It sounded as if he was used to William talking to him that way and tolerated it but only to a certain degree. "I was getting tired of waiting. Moreover, this knight in shining armour role you play does not seem to be working. At least not in my point of view. Harry Potter would not have countenanced being left behind. He would have gone after his wife in a blink of an eye. Pity, her sacrifice would be for naught. It is not her loyalty in question, it is his. Let us reverse the situation, shall we?" He turned to Harry and looked him up and down as if sizing him up for battle. "Hand over the Keys, Harry Potter, and I shall leave your wife and the child she carries to you for your discretion."
Harry could not look at Hermione. He refused to look at her. He was afraid to look and see what he did or did not want to see.
"Ask anything, Riddle, anything but the Keys."
"You try my patience, boy."
"And you try mine, old man." Harry snapped. "I do not have them. Even if I did, I will never hand them to you."
"Even at the expense of your wife and your child?"
Harry refused to look at her again. "The child is not mine."
"It is yours!" Hermione, who had been immobilized all this time, yelled.
Harry finally made himself look. His throat constricted but he forced himself to say anyway. "Forgive me for not jumping for joy, madam. This whole night might have been planned for your abduction, yet for the last month to have just been a precursor for this, it just seems too brilliant for the likes of Voldemort."
"It was. You know it was."
"Mayhap." Harry said, his mind an array of wheels turning, working. "But Averley needed your consent to have achieved everything according to his plan. Do not think me a fool to believe that all those walks in the park and the constant visits in the village were his fault. You agreed to go with him. He hit the target at the centre, my dear, and you gave him the ammunition."
"What a touching speech." Voldemort clapped his hands, a feat deemed ridiculous to have been achieved for having only one good arm to do so. He rolled his head, taking his time as if he was in the safety of his own domain. "It appears no one would be leaving tonight satisfied. But if anybody shall be leaving safely, it would be me. It would also be on my terms and my terms alone."
He walked closer to William and towered over him before slouching back as if he couldn't maintain the position for so long. "I had thought that you would succeed in convincing this woman to leave with you tonight."
William rolled his eyes in obvious disgust. "My plan would have succeeded had you not appeared, you old bastard. Whatever's left of that decaying brain of yours probably did not realize that Potter here was about to leave."
Voldemort look miffed for a bit but chose to hold back his temper. Whatever William had on him, it was mighty powerful for him to have backed down without a fight. "Harry Potter was not supposed to be here in the first place. You reassured me that you have done everything to keep him and the duchess apart." And then, as if realizing that Harry and Hermione were still part of his audience, he turned to Harry. "But as is the case, you are here. I am certain as soon as I turn my back, your simple will alone will have your men surrounding me in no time. The duchess shall be my escort." He turned to Hermione and jovially held out his arms to her. "Come here, my dear. Your family awaits you."
Hermione was close enough to spit on him, and spit she did. Her saliva barely even had time to drip from Voldemort's face before his heavy hand violently met her cheek, throwing her off guard. William prevented her from falling, his arms tightening around hers. His hold did not bear the force of securing her, but for control. He looked like he wanted to let go and pound the old schemer into the ground until he no longer breathed.
In the midst of the drama, Voldemort had turned to Harry, watching any reaction. Harry refused to give him the satisfaction, so he forced his lips into a grim line but said nothing. Still watching, Voldemort said. "William, secure your hold on her. I do not want to find a knife embedded in my back." Voldemort turned to leave, and then slowly pivoted around. "I am a very reasonable man, my lord duke. I propose a very simple trade. The duchess-and your heir-for the Keys."
Harry's jaw ticked.
"You can have her," he snarled. "I will never give you power."
Hermione tried to struggle out of William's grip, but he just tightened it more. "Harry, please. Please give him what he wants."
Harry turned to look at her with eyes full of regret. "I will not."
"It is just wealth." Hermione thought it hypocritical to say so for she had battled Voldemort all her life for the same reason, but everything had changed the minute her child was brought into the bargain. "Please, our child cannot be part of this. Do not make him pay for what you think I did."
"What I know you have done has nothing to do with this. He may be my child, but I cannot be selfish just for you and him alone. Handing over the power and right to Hogwarts would endanger all who live in it. Mine or not, the child's existence has not changed anything. I will not give the Keys."
With that, he turned his back on her. He closed his eyes against the sound of her anguished cry.
"I love you, I love you. I never betrayed you! Please…" he heard her whisper the last plea, reminding him of the truth. The truth that, an hour ago-hell, a month ago-he had dared to question. His heart wanted him to turn and say what he knew she wanted to hear, but clouded by uncertainty, his mind overruled his heart.
Her sobs and her pleas were noticed yet ignored as he forced himself to walk away.
She will never forgive him, not until he saved her.
And save her, he will.
As soon as he rounded the corner he broke into a sprint and then a run. He ran until his lungs burned with lack of air and his muscles threatened to spasm from lack of oxygen. His shout echoed all over the foyer as he burst past the front door and called to attention every one of his staff. In but a few minutes, he had all his men assembled, given them instructions to surround all the exits of Godric's Hollow, including the underground passageways and overhead walls.
There was no way he was going to let them leave.
Not with Hermione and his child.
He knew with every fibre of his being that Hermione was telling the truth, yet he had not been able to say so in front of her. He could not even so much as lift his eyes up to hers to reassure her that he would be coming for her. To have done so would have alerted Voldemort. The plan that had suddenly emerged in Harry's head would have been thwarted even before he could have gone through with it. He needed to convince everyone, just as Hermione almost had him convinced earlier, that he cared nothing for her anymore or the child.
'God, if anything happened…' He thought in desperation. 'Please let this be the right plan.'
He could not afford to lose them. And just as she was probably thinking earlier when she tried to drive him away, he would apologize, over and over. Until he bled for her, until he had made sure she knew how much his love for her ran deep in his veins. Lover or no lover. Hermione was his life. But for now, her safety, their safety, was all he could think of.
The search had been brutal. It was darker than he originally thought and there was not a sight nor a sound that emerged as Harry made his way deeper into the woods. It had begun to rain about half an hour ago. The roads were mushy, but this was to his favour. They could not have gotten far, either on foot or on horse.
The forest would have been the only escape route that Voldemort and his men could have taken. With everybody else blocking all possible exits and secret passageways, Harry had instructed the rest and most of his able-bodied men to stand guard and roam this forest. If luck permitted, he would encounter his enemies in a few minutes. He just hoped that the time in between his run back to the house and his instructions had not been enough for Voldemort and his men to escape.
A hoarse cry on his west side alerted Harry. It sounded like one of his men. There was a sense of alarm in it that Harry did not dare to dismiss as merely a cry of surprise or a taunt. As he ran towards that direction, the continuous shout started to make sense.
"Your Grace! Over here! Your Grace!"
His foot slipped and threatened to take him down as he stepped on a mushy part of the ground, but he righted himself almost as quickly. He shoved branches out of his way even as they threatened to thwack him right in the face. He did not stop until the voice that kept screaming was so loud it reverberated in his mind as if he was in a domed church with echoes going off in all direction.
He came to a stop at the foot of a hill so steep it would have taken more than just an effort of momentum to propel him upward. His heart stopped as his gaze focused on an unmoving form right below where the hill curved to straight ground.
"Hermione?" he was almost too afraid say her name. He hoped to God it was somebody else. His selfish thought did not care whether he was wishing it was another human being. It just mattered whether or not it was his wife.
Yet some things in life could never be his, and one of those was this moment's wish.
As he dropped to his knees beside her, there was nothing on earth that would have stopped him from screaming at the top of his lungs.
And so screamed he did.
One for the woman whose heart he had broken in an attempt to save her life.
Another for the child he had shunned in an effort to spare his involvement.
And as a flash of lightning illuminated the form in front of him, he gave a final scream for the woman whose love he will surely lose as surely as she had just lost their child.
Her blood soaked her gown, and as he watched it slowly seep onto the ground that lay beneath her, he felt his tears mingle with the raindrops relentlessly beating down on them.
What in hell had he done?
He had no recollection of how he or Hermione had been moved back to the mansion. His next awareness of where they were came from Madame Pomfrey pulling up the covers over Hermione's still form. 'She was not far along,' the midwife thought to comfort him. 'It was not a birthing, but a simple miscarriage.'
Harry doubted he or Hermione would ever look at it as simple.
As soon as they were left alone, his finger traced the contour of her cheek, traced and traced until she finally opened her eyes. They were unfocused, surely from dull, physical pain, but they did not brim with tears as he had originally expected. But her understanding for what has happened was reflected in them.
He held her tightly, rocked her back and forth. "I'm sorry." He kept repeating in a chant-like rhythm, lost in his voice, in his own world.
She said nothing.
But her silence said everything he needed to hear.
Or maybe everything he did not want to hear.
I hate you.
And this time, he knew she meant it.
I realize it has taken me a year to actually update. Shame on me. But I'm back. To stay, of course. Hopefully it won't be another year before I finish this story. I was in school, yada-yada-yada. And too much has happened that I really couldn't sit down and write a chapter. It was more than a writer's block. It was more like heartbroken writer's block.
Anyhow, my job right now is so boring I am able to sit and write for four hours non-stop. That is how I actually came to finish this chapter. I'll be at this desk for a couple more weeks. And the way I see it, I only have about two-three more chapters to go before we finally say goodbye to Caught in the Past. Cross my fingers I will have the energy and the inspiration to write the final chapters with no glitch. Thank you for reading and I hope I haven't lost any of my loyal readers.