I know, I know, I'm a bad person for not updating! However, this chapter does have some Harry/Ruth fluffy goodness to appease all you H/R fans. I'm a bit rubbish at romance though (ask any of my ex-boyfriends) so I hope it's not too OOC.
Thank you soooooooo much to everyone who put this story on their favourites and alerts, and particular thanks to my amazing reviewers: Morello, Bbt, cowbell2011, Sparky75, Mtn Cousin, pook, Nimax1, HR always live on, bobith and Anonymous.
On with the show!
A slight pressure against his fingers was the first indication of Ruth's renewed wakefulness. Suddenly alert, Harry sat bolt upright in the uncomfortable chair and watched eagerly as Ruth's eyelids fluttered and opened, revealing her beautiful eyes, the eyes that had captivated him all those years ago.
"Harry," she breathed, and his heart leapt with relief, joy and love.
"Ruth, are you okay? Are you in pain? Shall I get the doctor? Or the nurse?"
"Harry, one question at a time, please? You're making my head hurt."
Harry looked guilty. "Sorry. How are you feeling?"
Ruth smiled slightly. "Sore but alive. Which is definitely a surprise." She bit her lip. "I thought I was going to die."
Harry swallowed painfully as his throat constricted. "So did I," he admitted in a small voice.
Ruth met his eyes and he was shocked to see them filling with tears. "Harry, what I said... That we weren't meant to have a normal life..."
"No, Harry, listen. I didn't mean it. I didn't want you to live your life thinking about what might have been if I died. I'm sorry."
"Ruth..." Harry looked away, trying to compose himself. When he looked back, Ruth's eyes were still fixed on him. "I love you," he blurted out, all eloquence gone. His face reddened. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."
Ruth's smile grew. "Stupid man," she murmured. "I love you, too, Harry."
Harry looked nonplussed. "You... Really?"
Ruth laughed. "Harry, you really are the most difficult man sometimes. Yes, really. Of course I love you."
Harry searched for the right words, but all he could come up with was, "Oh."
Ruth shook her head slightly. "Harry..." Her smile dropped as a thought occurred to her. "Harry, Erin and the others, are they okay? Was anyone else hurt?"
Harry shook his head. "No, they're all fine. The only other person injured was Sasha. He's still in surgery." Ruth's eyes searched his. "Ilya is devastated. We were waiting together. I felt sorry for him."
"You felt sorry for Gavrik?" Ruth asked, a tinge of hurt colouring her voice.
"He has lost almost everything he cared about today," Harry said softly. "Sasha is the only person he has left and he may not survive."
The atmosphere in the small room had become very heavy. Harry met Ruth's eyes, staring directly at her.
"Ruth, I need you to be completely honest with me about something."
She looked confused. "Of course. What's wrong?"
"Ruth, do I look like a tortoise?"
She spluttered. "What? Where on earth did that come from?"
"Ilya told me that I looked like his tortoise."
Ruth pressed her lips together in an attempt to keep a straight face. "Only when you pout. Like that."
Harry tried to look insulted but failed and they shared a laugh. The oppressive seriousness in the room evaporated, replaced by a comfortable silence. The door opened and a doctor entered.
"Miss Evershed, I'm glad to see you awake. Visiting hours are now over, Mr Pearce, you can come back tomorrow."
Harry glanced at Ruth who nodded. "Go. Get some rest. I'll still be here in the morning."
He smiled and nodded. "I'll see you tomorrow. I love you." It was easier to say now that he knew the feeling was reciprocated. He left the room with one more glance at Ruth.
At first he contemplated going home, but the thought of the empty house and being alone with his thoughts dissuaded him and he found himself heading towards the waiting room where Ilya still sat. He looked up as Harry entered.
"How is she?"
"She's awake. I think she's going to be fine. Any word on Sasha?"
Ilya shook his head. "No. All I can hope is that no news is good news."
Harry sat down next to his old acquaintance and they waited in silence.
It was another two hours before a doctor approached them. Ilya's head snapped up and Harry saw his knuckles turn white as his hands clenched into fists.
"Minister Gavrik?" the doctor asked and Ilya nodded. Harry scanned the doctor's face, trying to discern any clues as to whether the news was good or bad. His face was serious and gave nothing away. "Your son is alive." At these words, all the tension left Ilya and a sob of relief escaped his lips. "However, his condition is still critical. He has been moved to a room in ICU. I can allow you five minutes to see him but no more."
Ilya nodded and stood unsteadily. Harry stood as well, putting a hand on Gavrik's shoulder to steady him. He followed the Russian minister and the doctor, unsure as to why he wanted to see the man who had stabbed his Ruth. They stopped at a large glass window, looking into the room beyond. An alarming number of machines surrounded the bed where Sasha lay. Harry looked at Gavrik and was shocked to see tears coursing down his cheeks.
"Sasha..." he choked.
"Sir?" the doctor asked hesitantly. "Would you like to sit with him?"
Ilya nodded, unable to speak. Harry watched him enter the room and sit by the bed, taking Sasha's hand in his own, careful not to dislodge the IV. The doctor stood at the window with Harry.
"What are his chances of surviving?" Harry asked quietly.
The doctor hesitated before replying. "The bullet caused significant internal bleeding and he lost a massive amount of blood. I can't be sure that we repaired all of the bleeding during surgery; his condition was unstable and we almost lost him a few times. We repaired as much as we could but we need to stabilise his condition before we can risk any more surgery. If his condition doesn't stabilise we could lose him on the table. As it is..." The doctor sighed. "If he survives the next twenty four hours then he will have a chance."
Harry nodded, staring at Ilya. Things just kept going from bad to worse for the Russian.
A little bit of H/R there for you! Don't worry, I'm just warming them up. In case anyone's interested, Harry's reaction to Ruth telling him that she also loves him was based on my own reaction when one of my boyfriends told me that he loved me. "Oh...Really? Huh... That's funny." Lol.
Hope you enjoyed this chapter; I know there's a lot of focus on Harry and Ilya at the moment but Ruth will be getting out of the hospital soon. And then I can have some fun. Please review, constructive criticism is welcome but no flames.