Just in case you haven't seen - this is the second chapter I've posted today. Go back and read the previous one first if you haven't already. So, for the very last time, enjoy :) x
The roof of the block of flats where Sybil lives boasts spectacular views out over the city of Edinburgh. Mary had taken up her sister's offer to stay with her and Tom in the Scottish capital for a few days while she decides what to do with her life now that she's a single woman again. As they so often do during the summer months, they're sitting under the stars, listening to music, drinking wine and eating a feast of whatever Tom's managed to throw together from the rather meagre contents of his girlfriend's fridge.
"It still amazes me just how much of a good cook you are," Sybil says as she finishes off the last of the sweet and sour chicken.
Mary nods. "Between him and Matthew's rather surprising love of baking, I was very well looked after in our University days," she smiles.
"Ahh, ladies," Tom grins as he tops up their wine glasses. "You flatter me."
"You ought to watch you don't inflate his ego any more."
The three of them turn their heads towards the door, smiling as they see Matthew standing there.
Sybil looks back to Mary who's staring straight at him, clearly stunned by his presence. "I... errm... we'll give you two some time to talk. Tom?"
"Yeah," he replies, also sensing the shift in the atmosphere. "There's some leftover food going downstairs if you want it in a bit," he says to his friend as they gather the plates and the empty glasses.
"Thanks," Matthew smiles. "That is if you don't mind me staying?"
"Not at all," Sybil replies. "The more the merrier. Oh and here's the key to get back through this door," she says, handing him the keys before disappearing back down to her flat with Tom.
"What are you doing here?" Mary asks when they're finally alone.
"I just needed to see you," he tells her. "The last time I did you ran away and the next thing I hear you've jumped on a train to Edinburgh."
"I just needed to get away from there," she says.
Matthew smiles at her. "I know you did, but we were all worried... I was worried. Do you want to know why else I'm here?"
"Because," he says, reaching for two of the empty wine glasses. "There was rather a lot of expensive champagne going to waste and I thought that it wouldn't be much fun to drink it without my best friend for company."
She squeals as he pops the cork on the bottle in his hand and laughs. "So you came all the way to Edinburgh just to drink champagne with me on a rooftop?"
"Call it my grand romantic gesture."
She blushes and suddenly becomes aware of what she's wearing – a pair of knee length running lycras, a jumper and some battered old Converse all of which had been borrowed from Sybil. There's not a scrap of make-up on her face and her hair has been pulled back into a messy ponytail He's still in his kilt and she suspects that, secretly, he's growing rather fond of it.
"Well, it can't be," she says defiantly in that very 'Lady Mary-like' way of hers. "Because I'm not appropriately dressed."
"Nonsense," he replies. "You look beautiful... cheers."
"What are we drinking to?"
"New beginnings," he replies after a moment's pause. "And to us?"
"Us," he repeats as a familiar song starts to play – one that had played the last time they had been alone on a rooftop.
I can't win, I can't reign
I will never win this game
Without you, without you
I am lost, I am vain,
I will never be the same
Without you, without you
Matthew sets down his glass and offers out his hand to her.
"Dance with me," he says.
Mary smiles as she too recalls the memory. Taking his hand, she suddenly feels as though everything is right and good with the world again.
"Do you really mean it?" she asks as he pulls her closer to him. "Us?"
"Yes," he nods.
Mary sighs. "We've been on the edge of this so many times, Matthew. Please don't take me there again unless you're sure."
"I am sure," he tells her – he's so close now that she can feel his warm breath on her face and count every single individual eyelash and, in that moment, she knows that she's sure too. His lips ghost over hers, so gently as though he's testing the waters. She smiles and returns his kiss and it isn't long before the two of them are engaged in that age old dance of passion that they'd perfected so very long ago now. Breaking apart, he picks her up and spins her round, much as he had done on the night of her graduation when she'd told him that she loved him for the very first time. "This," Mary thinks to herself. "This is what true happiness is." She knows she's made mistakes – he has too but neither of them are perfect and nor do they claim to be – but if there's one thing she's learnt from her time with Carlisle then it's to seize the day, to live for the moment and to do so without any regrets. Life is short – it's a precious gift and one has to make of it what they can and so, here on a rooftop in Edinburgh, ten years after they first met, that is exactly what she vows to do. The future is scary, but at least they'll be stepping into the unknown together...
...And she wouldn't have it any other way.
A/N: Well, what can I say? It's been one hell of an emotional rollercoaster but this story is now at and end. Thank you so very much to each and every single one of you who have read, reviewed, subscribed and whatever else - you're darlings and I love you. I couldn't have done it without your continued support and it would mean the absolute world to me if, even if you haven't before, you could just let me know what you thought of this story. I want to keep typing because I don't want it to end... but it must... so here goes. Goodbye then, and such good luck! xx