The sun is streaming through her bedroom window when Emily's eyes crack open. She and the others usually wake up around first light. Without any alarm clocks, mobile phones, or screeching car alarms, her body has found the natural sleeping pattern that was seemingly lost to humanity for decades. She rolls over on to her side, her hand grasping for something that is no longer there.
Waking up alone is always hard. She feels her chest tighten with anxiety as she sits up and brushes her hair out of her face. Sounds coming from outside of her window remind her she isn't actually alone and she begins to relax again. She melts back against the pillows behind her as she hears baby Albert's infectious laugh. He's probably chasing one of the dogs again; or another chicken.
She still calls him the baby, but in actual fact he's almost eighteen months old now and growing bigger with each passing day; he's been terrorising their animals ever since he first found his feet. They've amassed a fairly productive live stock for the new farm; nestled deep in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. It's quieter up north, there doesn't seem to be quite so many survivors. Life is pretty peaceful for a change.
The new farm is larger than the one they had down in Bristol. It has more acres of workable land, and even a few cottages dotted around the grounds; which definitely helped ease the congestion of ten teenagers and a baby trying to live in one farmhouse. They found it towards the end of winter, just after they rang in the new year. It was hard work clearing the fields, but they took back the land and had their first crops planted in the early spring. Their first harvest won't be spectacular, but they have enough provisions left from their raid on the depot to see them through until the next one.
It's been over a year since the first outbreak of the virus; somehow Emily and the rest of the group survived the end of the world. Emily is grateful for every day that she wakes up, though the burden of being a survivor hangs heavily around her neck. She wasn't immune to the virus. She caught it and she lived, whereas so many others died. Billions of people wiped off the face of the earth in a matter of weeks; yet she lived. It doesn't seem fair sometimes, but she can't let herself dwell on that kind of thinking for too long.
She lingers in bed for a few more minutes before she finally gets up. The water in her shower is hot for once. The warm summer months are doing wonders for the solar panels they've fitted to the roof. The group managed to scavenge what they could from the old farm and they've made quite a home for themselves at the new one. They've got running water, and their generator makes it possible for them to have a few hours of light in the evenings. It's nothing like before the outbreak, but it's something.
Emily towel dries her hair off a bit before tying it back. It's early June and the English sun is pleasantly warm, so she throws on a pair of jeans and a vest before venturing downstairs. She lives in the main farmhouse with most of the other girls, and JJ and Albert. Cook and Freddie share one of the cottages, and Panda and Thomas have the other one. It's still a little cramped, but it's nice to have her family so close.
She finds Katie in the kitchen, her hair tied back in a messy bun and flour covering one of her cheeks. She's wearing a pink apron with 'kiss the cook' emblazoned across the front; and Effy is happily obliging. She has the older twin pushed up against one of the counters and they're kissing like there's no tomorrow. Emily feels a pang of loneliness at the sight of the happy couple. Despite this, she forces a smile as she waltzes in to the kitchen. Seeing her 'straight' twin getting off with a girl is hardly a new sight for her any more. "Get a room you two."
"Got one, thanks." Effy pulls back from her girlfriend long enough to give Emily a lazy smile, though her attention quickly goes back to the other girl. Katie giggles happily as she wraps her arms around Effy's small waist and rests her chin on her shoulder.
"You're up late." She observes, a touch of concern in her voice. Emily shrugs it off. The group had a late one last night.
"It's my birthday. I'm allowed to sleep in."
"Happy birthday, babe." Katie grins and throws herself around her younger twin. For all they're identical twins, they were born six minutes apart, with Emily's birthday landing after midnight. They celebrated Katie's birthday the day before, and the group are looking forward to another round of celebrations. "I'm making you a cake! And Effy's got you some of her cider." Effy's 'cider' is made from the apples growing in their orchard, and it makes even the hardest prison hooch taste like champagne. Emily can practically feel her liver shrinking in protest.
She leaves the two girls in the kitchen and heads out the back door to find the others. Albert, as predicted, is chasing one of the puppies around the yard; laughing happily as the Labrador evades him at every turn. JJ stands over him, every bit the doting dad. Lara sits on the patch of grass by the back door and shoots Emily a welcoming smile as she joins her. Her sun-dress is stretched by her bulging stomach, and pretty soon there'll be the sound of even more tiny feet running around the farm. She still has a few months to go, just long enough for Panda and JJ to read up about how to deliver a baby. At least they've got the lambing season coming up, so that should give them some practise.
"Happy happy day, Emmy!" Albert launches himself at the redhead without warning and she has to think fast to stop him from knocking her over.
"Thanks kiddo." She ruffles his hair with her hand. His chubby cheeks and long blond curls, which almost reach his collar, give him the appearance of a cherub. The toddler is anything but an angel, but Emily wouldn't have him any other way. She spends a few minutes with the happy family before moving on.
She waves at Cook and Freddie as she passes them out in the fields. Cook has his shirt off and his usually pale skin looks angry and red from spending hours under the sun. He starts dancing when he spots her, his hands going for the zip of his pants as he howls with laughter, a reminder that he's been promising her a strip tease for her birthday for weeks. Emily gives him an obscene hand gesture in return as Freddie looks on in despair. She'll never admit it, but Cook is probably her favourite of the group. For all of his faults, he's always been a pillar of strength for her to depend on. He was there for her when she needed him most, when she felt like her whole world was crumbling all over again.
For all it's her birthday, Emily doesn't really want to be the centre of attention. Maybe it's something to do with being the younger twin, but she always seems to shy away from people fussing over her on her birthday. She makes her way down to the stream at the bottom of their fields, passing Effy's apple orchard on the way.
There's an old tyre swing hanging over the stream and a crumbling wooden bench facing the water. It's Emily's favourite place on the farm; but it isn't hers alone. "I thought we had an agreement." She flops down on to the bench, right on top of the figure already lying there. "We weren't going to leave each other alone in bed any more!"
The blonde lets out a chuckle of laughter as her arms wrap protectively around the smaller girl and she leans up to kiss her. "Hmm, I thought that meant I wasn't allowed to keep my hands off of you in bed?" Naomi teases with an easy smile. There's a soft sun kissed glow to her skin and her baby blue eyes are alight with mischief. She's the picture of health. Emily kisses her extra hard as she thinks about how easily things could have gone the other way.
Naomi had been on death's door when Emily had made it back to the farm. Cook had gone for the doctor at the nearby dairy farm, but even the seasoned professional hadn't given the blonde more than a few hours at best. Emily had stayed by her side that first day, and every day after that, trying to nurse her back to health. Naomi had survived being exposed to the original virus, so Emily had been sure that she could overcome the new evolved strain. The road to recovery had been a slow and painful process, but Naomi had eventually pulled through; she'd had everything to live for.
"I thought I'd let you sleep... Happy birthday." Naomi tilts her head to catch her girlfriend's lips again in a slow, tantalising kiss that holds a promise of many more to come. "So what do you want to do today? We could take the bikes up to the lake, or-"
"Nothing." Emily cuts her off with another kiss before lying her head back down on the other girl's chest. The sun is shining overhead and a warm breeze is blowing lightly against her wet hair. They've done the hard part and made it through the winter. Summer is finally here and Emily wants to make the most of it before they have to start worrying about the harvest and preparing the land for next year. She lets out a contented sigh as she watches the water in the stream trickle by. "Let's just do nothing."
"Sounds good." Naomi agrees and they lie on their bench in a comfortable silence. It's easy to forget that they've only known each other for a little more than six months. Sometimes Naomi feels like she's known the twins her whole life; Katie spoke so much about her missing sister in those early days that it's like Naomi actually knew the younger twin long before they first met. "You know, we could always go back to bed and do nothing?" Naomi suggests with a smirk as Emily starts to kiss the side of her neck.
"Hmm, what's wrong with doing nothing right here?" Emily asks in a teasing voice as her hand slips under the blonde's shirt. Naomi lets out a small hiss as the other girl's nails rake over the sensitive flesh of her hip.
"Cook catching us last time kind of put me off..." Naomi grumbles as she moves to catch hold of Emily's wrist; her actions are more than a litle bit distracting.
"Asking if he could join in put me off." The redhead frowns and they both end up bursting in to a fit of laughter. Eventually Emily gets to her feet and tugs the blonde up along with her. "Come on then. Let's get you back to bed."
Naomi spent weeks bed bound as she recovered from the terrible virus that destroyed the rest of the world. As far as she knows, she and Emily are the only two people to live through the infection, because of that they share an understanding that makes them even closer. Neither of them should still be alive, and they know it.
They've both been given a second chance at life. Sometimes, when Naomi wakes up in the mornings and finds the tiny redhead curled up against her side, everything they've suffered through almost seems worth it. The world had to end for the two girls to find each other; and Naomi's pretty certain that nothing short of the apocalypse is ever going to part them.
A/N: So that's it folks! It's been a long two years to get this finished and I'd like to thank everyone for sticking with this fic through my hectic work schedule and lack of updating! As ever, thanks for reading and for the amazing feedback.