A/N - This is the final chapter and I have been eager to get it completed before the new series airs on 12th September. I'm afraid that I have had to succumb to the romantic in me. I know that they are probably never going to be together properly in the series, but they love each other so much that they really deserve a chance… don't you think? Thanks once again to Diane, my super beta and also thank you to everyone that has reviewed, it really does make a difference.
Change of Heart
Dishes washed and put away, baby bathed and settled, Louisa was quite proud of herself for having coped so well on her first night home from the hospital, but she was now undeniably shattered.
She switched off the lights downstairs and made her way up to the bedroom with the Moses basket. It was quite a struggle, and by the time she got upstairs all she wanted to do was collapse on the bed and get a good night's sleep.
Of course, she knew that would be impossible, as the baby was bound to wake her at least twice during the night. More if she was unlucky.
After placing him down on the bed, she went into the bathroom to carry out her bedtime routine. Face washed, teeth brushed and mouthwash used… twice. She then went back to the bedroom and lay down on the bed.
The baby murmured and she looked over the edge of the basket to see him wriggling around slightly before settling once again.
She'd told Martin in the hospital, during one of their spats, that she was glad that the baby didn't look like him. The truth of the matter was that he did look like his father. Louisa was glad. She always thought Martin was very distinguished looking and extremely handsome in her eyes. Her baby could do a lot worse than look like his father.
Where on earth had the stupid man gone? Louisa knew that Joan had no room on the farm and she also knew that his aunt was probably being particularly awkward about not letting him stay, even on the sofa, because she would be trying to get them to sort themselves out.
There was no way that Martin would stay at the pub; he'd rather sleep in the car than do that. Oh God, it suddenly dawned on her that's exactly what he was doing.
She couldn't feel any anger towards him, even though he had walked out on her and the baby on one of the most important nights that they were likely to have. She was shattered and could really have done with some support during the evening, but all she really felt towards him was pity. They had seemed so close in that moment in the bathroom. The feel of his skin on hers had made her feel desirable again. Even though she was still far from returning to her pre-pregnancy state, she had hopes now that she would be attractive again and that Martin already found her so.
How she wished he had carried on with the massage; it made her feel so relaxed and at ease. He really did have the most remarkable hands-big and strong, but soft and gentle at the same time. She could tell by the way that he touched her that he was enjoying the experience too.
Throughout their relationship, if you could call it that, she had always been the one to take the initiative. Never once had he really made any sort of romantic gesture. The fact that he was a gentleman when it came to their liaisons was extremely admirable, but it would have been nice just once in a while if he had actually tried to get into her knickers. The thought of Martin getting overly amorous made her giggle and she had to stop herself from laughing too loudly, just in case she woke the baby.
After dragging herself up from the bed, she barely had the energy to change into her pyjamas, but somehow she managed to throw them on and then she slipped under the duvet.
Thoughts of Martin continued to swirl around in her mind as she started to slowly drift off to sleep. Outside she could hear the water thrashing against the sea defences. The wind had picked up and it whistled eerily through the old wooden window frame. He would be freezing wherever he was and she wished that he was there with her so that they could keep each other warm.
Her eyelids flickered shut just as she thought she heard the sound of car wheels on gravel once again. But then the sound was gone and she banished the thought from her mind as sleep overcame her.
Martin's whole body jerked as he woke from what he could only describe as a nightmare. He was back in Edith's office and all he could hear had been Edith jeering at him, telling him that no one would ever want to be with him, that he would never be able to tell Louisa that he loved her because he was incapable of loving or of being loved.
As he looked around he felt disorientated and for a moment he wondered exactly where he was and why he was sleeping in his car. Then he remembered kneeling beside Louisa, stroking her back. He remembered the emotions that were building inside him and back came the feelings of guilt. He remembered fleeing from the cottage, his heart pounding at the thought of facing Louisa after having taken such liberties.
Recalling Louisa's sighs of satisfaction in the bath, he began to think that perhaps she had enjoyed their intimacy. After all, she would have asked him to stop if she had found it disagreeable. Doubts now filled his mind as he slowly realised that he had misinterpreted the situation. He'd jumped to the conclusion that because he felt uncomfortable about what had happened, Louisa would have done so too.
"You can't even say that you love Louisa… what does that tell you?" He heard Edith's spiteful words once more.
"If I'm going to say that I love her, then I will say it to Louisa," had been his reply.
He rubbed his face and ran his fingers through his hair before pulling himself up in his seat and then shuffling across to the driver's side. It was now or never. If he didn't make a positive move now, then he would lose Louisa's trust and end up alone in London with his loved ones back in Cornwall.
Starting the engine, he knew what he needed to do. He turned on the headlights and set off back to Louisa's cottage.
Louisa's was roused by what she thought was the sound of knocking on the front door. She lay in bed uncertain that she had actually heard anything at all and as she started to drift back to sleep, she heard the sound of Martin's voice below her window.
"Louisa, Louisa, are you awake? I don't want to knock too hard on the door in case I wake the baby," Martin whispered as loudly as he could.
This time she knew that it was him; it must have been his car that she had heard. She went over to the window and pulled it up. Below she saw Martin looking crumpled and certainly less than his usual pristine self.
"I'll come down," she said, still half asleep and closed the window.
As he stood by the door waiting for Louisa to open it, he felt the urge to run away as he had done once before when standing outside her door.
His heart started to race as he wondered exactly what he was going to say to her. He knew what he needed to say, but even he had to admit that he wasn't the best person at expressing his feelings. He nervously tapped his hands beside the pockets of his jacket and then suddenly Louisa appeared.
"Martin?" Louisa asked as she looked at him quizzically.
"Louisa, I…," his voice trailed off as his instincts took over. He stepped across the threshold and into the cottage. Taking Louisa's face gently between his hands, he kissed her deeply for several seconds and then slowly withdrawing, he looked into her eyes and said softly, "I love you."
"Oh, Martin," she sighed as she pulled him towards her and wrapped her arms around him. "I know why you ran away, but what was it that brought you back?"
"It was Edith," he whispered into her ear.
Louisa pushed him away slightly so that she could look at the expression on his face.
"Edith? I don't understand."
"When I saw her in the hospital, she told me that I didn't love you because I couldn't tell you." Martin pulled her back into him and squeezed her tightly in his arms. "Louisa, I have always loved you. From the moment I stared through the window of the school and saw you sitting there, I knew that I would never meet anyone as remarkable and as beautiful as you ever again."
They kissed once more, revelling in the taste and feel of each other's lips.
"My life is a mess, Louisa. I've ruined everything with you. Every time you've ever tried to make a go of it with me, I just cocked it up. And here I am, on the verge of running away for good."
Louisa guided Martin into the cottage and shut the door behind them.
"Just as you ran away earlier, I was about to ask you to stay with us…just. until you make your decision about London, of course. I thought it would be nice for you to spend some time with your son."
"And with you," Martin added.
"Yes, Martin. It would be lovely for us to spend some time together." Louisa smiled at him warmly and gestured for them to sit down on the sofa.
"I'm sorry about before… you know, in the bathroom," Martin said nervously.
"What do you have to be sorry about? It's one of the most romantic things I think you've ever done, Martin."
"Yes. And I enjoyed it… a lot. You have very talented hands. Not just as a surgeon either," she teased.
He looked down to where her hands rested on her lap. He took her right hand between both of his and he rubbed it softly. Staring at their hands, he was shaken from his daydream by the sound of their baby son crying in the room above them.
"I better go and feed him. Why don't you come upstairs and I'll sort out the spare room for you after I'm done. You are going to stay, aren't you?" she looked at him hopefully.
"Yes, thank you. I'll just give you a few minutes to get settled with the baby."
Martin stepped outside to retrieve the only suitcase of clothes that he hadn't sent in the removal van. Thankfully it included some overnight things and he'd bought a few other items when he'd gone to collect Louisa's stuff from Mrs Tishell's.
As he locked up the car, he looked across to the surgery on the other side of the harbour. He saw the lights switch off and although he found it hard to admit to himself, he felt a pang of regret that he was no longer Portwenn's GP. If he had no job, then how could he possibly stay here and support Louisa and their baby.
The wind had certainly picked up and there was more than a slight chill that summer evening. Martin quickly went back into the cottage and locked the door behind him. He turned off the lights and made his way up the staircase.
Standing outside the bedroom door, he listened quietly as Louisa talked softly to the baby. These were the things that he would miss if he left Portwenn.
"You can come in, Martin." He heard Louisa say quietly.
"Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you. Things…" he said as he gestured awkwardly towards Louisa's breast, "… seem to be going well."
"Yes, he's caught on quite quickly. I did worry at first that I wouldn't be able to breast feed, but it seems to be going as well as can be expected at the moment. I'm quite glad actually; my boobs have been killing me. They're enormous… don't you think, Martin?"
"Oh, um… I can't say I'd noticed actually," he said rather embarrassed and not at all convincingly. He started to blush quite noticeably as he had to admit to himself that he had actually acknowledged the fact that Louisa's breasts were at least twice the size that they normally were.
"Oh, Martin. Don't be such a prude. You must have seen hundreds of boobs during your time as a doctor."
"Of course I have. But I was never looking at them in the same way as I look at yours… erm - I mean, looked at yours."
For Martin, this was almost an admission that he was actually a red-blooded male and had the same urges as any other man, something that was very hard to recognise in him normally.
Louisa giggled and the baby started to splutter slightly.
"Be careful, Louisa, you might make him sick or something."
"Stop worrying, he's fine. Just had enough that's all."
She adjusted herself and then handed the baby to Martin. "Here, you wind him for me whilst I go and sort some things out for you."
Martin held his son at arm's length for a moment and looked at him curiously. Then he held the tiny bundle to his shoulder and began to carefully rub his back. Before long Martin managed to extract a few good burps from his son, and just as the baby decided to bring a considerable amount of milk back up all over his shoulder, Louisa shouted through, "Oh, Martin. You might want to put one of those muslin cloths over your jacket."
"Yes, that might have been a good idea…. had I known about it earlier," he grumbled.
Louisa returned and saw the mess. She took the baby from him and put the little boy back in the basket.
"Here let me go and sponge that for you," she said as she went behind Martin and started to take the jacket from his shoulders. He shrugged it off and thanked her for taking it from him.
"There, it's not perfect but it'll do until you can get it to the dry cleaners."
"Thank you." Martin picked up his suitcase. "Maybe we should get settled now."
"Oh, yes. I made the bed up in the spare room. Will that be okay for you?" Louisa desperately wanted Martin to ask her if he could stay in her room, but if she were being realistic, she knew that he wouldn't do that. Neither did she want to frighten him off again by suggesting it, so she led him through to the other bedroom in the house.
Martin followed her reluctantly. He felt that he had been as open as he could be about his feelings for her and yet he couldn't go that one step further and ask her if he could sleep in the same bed as her. All he wanted was to be close to her, to feel her body next to his, to comfort her if she wanted him to and to be there for her.
Looking around the room, Martin nodded at Louisa. "Thank you, I'm sure this will be satisfactory."
"Fine, well, I'm quite tired so I think I'll say goodnight," Louisa yawned.
"Goodnight," he answered.
The door closed. Martin looked towards it, struggling with his feelings. He wanted to chase after her, to ask her permission to be with her, but he quickly changed his mind and set about unpacking his case.
Louisa turned and stared at the closed door. Her hand hovered at the door knob. She wanted to go back in and ask him to come with her, but she knew that it would be too much for him. However much she wanted his company that night, she would just have to bide her time until she felt that he was more comfortable with their situation.
Great howls of wind whistled through the window in the spare room. The curtains moved visibly as a cold draft drifted its way across the room towards the bed.
Martin pulled the bed clothes over him. If he had wanted to fall asleep quickly, he stood little chance. He cursed the fact that it was probably the coldest night he'd ever known for a July. He listened carefully to see if he could hear either Louisa or the baby, but all he heard was silence. Cursing, he realised that he'd missed his chance earlier. He thought he'd noticed Louisa hesitating as she left his room. That would have been the time to ask her. There was nothing else for it, he'd have to just turn over and try to go to sleep.
Louisa pulled her legs up as far as she could towards her. She still felt very vulnerable and sore. She listened quietly to see if she could hear Martin in the spare room. Alas, all she could hear was the storm outside. It had reached a crescendo and it sounded almost as if the waves were about to burst through the window.
At least the baby was sound asleep for the moment; she had to count her blessings for something. And so she pulled the duvet up to her chin and closed her eyes tightly in an effort to go quickly to sleep.
After spending at least 30 minutes staring into space and no nearer slumber, Martin finally made a monumental decision. He decided that his tactic earlier of surprising Louisa with his uncharacteristic boldness had worked well. Life was too short to pussy-foot around, now was the time for action.
He padded across the landing to Louisa's room and tapped gently on the door. There was no reply and so he knocked a little harder; still nothing. He cursed to himself but decided that he had come this far and he wasn't going to just give up and go back to bed. He opened the door slowly and looked over to where Louisa was curled up in bed. Quietly he walked over and sat down on the edge beside her.
"Louisa, are you awake," he said, gently rocking her shoulder.
"Ugh, Martin. I'd only just got to sleep. What's the matter?"
"I was wondering if I could… well, what I mean is - maybe it would be useful if I stayed in here with you and then if the baby wakes in the night, I could take my turn in seeing to him?"
"That's really thoughtful, Martin, thank you." She pulled back the duvet and tapped the bed beside her to welcome him in.
"There, that's better," she said, knowing full well that Martin had used an excuse to get into her bed. Not that she was complaining. She quite liked the new confident Martin Ellingham.
As a wicked grin crossed her lips, she turned to him and said," There's just one problem with you taking your turn during the night, Martin. You don't have any breasts!"
Martin looked at her in horror, and then when he saw that she was laughing and not at all offended by his excuse, he pulled her towards him and hugged her tightly.
"I love you, Doc Martin," she whispered into his neck, as he pulled the covers over them.
Neither one of them thought it was going to be easy, but maybe for the sake of their baby they could try and get along, even learn to tolerate one another's quirks.
As the storm continued to batter the harbour outside, they hoped that their future together would be far smoother than the raging sea below them.