A/N: Wow! 19 reviews for chapter to. I'm completely overwhelmed! Thanks so much to those who took the time to review. (Is it too cheeky to ask for another after you've read this chapter?!)
For those of you who wished me luck for the move - it went well and I'm settling in nicely. Had an incident with a spider on my first night, but apart from that it's great. Thanks for the wishes and enjoy chapter 3!
"We were going to watch a film," Catherine announces after she finishes her hot chocolate. "Would you like to stay and watch with us?"
"Catey," warns Harry gently, "Ruth might have plans."
"Do you have plans?" she asks Ruth. Harry rolls his eyes and throws Ruth an apologetic glance.
"No, no plans. I'd like to stay…if that's alright?" She's checking with Harry; she doesn't want to outstay her welcome. After her behaviour earlier, he might not want her here.
"It's more than fine."
So they decamp to the living room and Harry and Ruth sit on the sofa, Graham on Harry's knee as Catherine chooses what they will watch.
"Ten to one, she chooses 'The Lion King'," whispers Harry. She does of course, causing Harry and Ruth to share a smile.
Catherine squeezes herself into the small gap between Ruth and the arm of the sofa, snuggling into her as she presses play on the remote control. For the first half of the film, Catherine gives Ruth a running commentary, only stopping to sing along to the songs. Graham joins in with some of the songs too, as well as he can do for his age. Ruth particularly enjoys his rendition of 'I Just Can't Wait to be King'; his enthusiasm is unbounding. Just before half way point Graham falls fast asleep on Harry so he excuses himself and takes his son up to bed. When he returns fifteen minutes later, Catherine is struggling to keep her eyes open.
Harry presses the pause button, at which Catherine emits a sleepy groan. "Daaaaaad!"
"Time for bed young lady."
"But the film's not finished."
"You can watch the rest in the morning. You're falling asleep on poor Ruth!"
"Ruth doesn't mind, do you?" Catherine asks, stifling a yawn.
"I don't, but I think your Dad is right. You'll enjoy the rest of the film much more when you're fully awake."
Reluctantly Catherine agrees to go to bed and begins to doze off as soon as Harry picks her up. "I won't be long. Will you wait so we can talk?"
"Yeh. I'd quite like to see how the film ends anyway," she admits, slightly embarrassed at how engrossed she's become in a children's film. "I'll finish this while you put her to bed."
Catherine wakes as he puts her down and insists on a story, so when Harry finally returns to the living room the film is finished and Ruth is channel hopping, Scarlett sitting at her feet. Harry marvels at how right she looks sat in his house, on his sofa. He wishes she was there all the time. He knows however, that he's got a lot of explaining to do before they can contemplate getting to that stage. "I can't imagine anyone being a bigger hit with my children," he comments as he joins Ruth on the sofa.
Ruth laughs slightly nervously and switches the television off. "They're really great," she replies. "Graham's going to be such a heartbreaker when he grows up."
"He certainly is." Harry agrees. "Catherine's unfortunately become very insecure since Jane left. She's scared I'll leave too."
"That's understandable. I'm sure things will ease with time."
"Yeah. She's miles better now than she was when it first happened. She'd scream bloody murder every morning when I left for work. I'm surprised the nanny didn't resign! She's a wonderful girl; great with Catey and Graham. I always have to ask her to work extra hours, as you can imagine with our job but she never complains. Obviously, I pay her well for the inconvenience. Would be easier if she lived in, but she won't; no matter how hard I try to persuade her. Suppose she likes her own space."
"Yeh," Ruth replies distractedly. Harry waits for her to come back to the conversation and when she realises she's not been paying attention she's mortified. "Sorry! I was just…well I was trying to figure out why you didn't tell me about them," she admits.
Harry looks down at the floor ashamed. "I'm sorry. Not many other people on the Grid know about them either. I prefer to keep my home life off the Grid. I always did; even when Jane was still here. Now, I don't tell people because it's just easier not to."
"I'm just a little confused because it was you who asked me to dinner; who wanted to further our relationship and…"
Harry groans. "When you put it that way it sounds awful! I have no defence really. My life is so complicated. I'm a full time Dad; a working parent. I spend what little spare time I have watching Disney films, reading cook books and learning to sew, so it's helps to compartmentalise my life; just until I figure this out. I have no idea how to date and be…who I am now. And I suppose, I was trying to protect them too. Introducing someone to their life, without knowing if they're going to be a permanent fixture…after what happened with Jane…"
"You're scared of what will happen if they get attached and it doesn't work out," Ruth surmises.
Harry sighs and runs a hand through his hair; it's not easy to admit ones fears. "Yes."
"And now I've come round anyway and…"
"I'm glad you did," he admits.
"Even though it complicates things?"
"Even though it complicates things," he assures her. "You never did get chance to tell me why you'd come round."
Ruth blushes. "I…just wanted to see how you were. After yesterday, I mean. It was one hell of a day."
"Oh, I'm fine." The disappointment is evident in his voice and it's enough for Ruth to admit the truth.
"Actually, that's not the only reason I'm here." Harry raises an eyebrow at her, intrigued. "I realised that I left work yesterday without actually giving you an answer about dinner."
"Ah yes. That. It's okay Ruth. Don't worry about it. Although I will say that I'm not a monster; if you don't want to go out to dinner with me, just tell me. There's no need to run away and avoid me."
Ruth stand up, ready to defend her actions. "I…I didn't. I mean I wasn't…I…it,"
"Ruth! Take a deep breath," Harry tells her.
She does so and gathers herself together. "I'll admit I was avoiding you; but not for the reasons you think." She proceeds to tell Harry about her subsequent conversation with Adam and how it had spooked her a little.
"I've half a mind to put him on the next plane to far reaches of Siberia."
"Hardly a rational thing to do; he's your section chief and the best field office you have. Anyway, I think you've rather missed the point. I didn't run because I didn't want to go to dinner with you; it was because I so badly did and didn't know how to handle the inevitable gossip it would create."
Harry's eyes widen. "And now?"
"And now I've decided that I'm not going to the opinions of people at work dictate my personal life. So, if the offer of dinner still stands," she takes a deep breath, "I'd like to accept."
He stands and approaches Ruth. "Of course it still stands."
"Good. Do you still have the dinner reservation or did you cancel it when you thought I was turning you down?"
"I was going to, but I hadn't got around to it. Is tomorrow at 8 okay?
"Daaaaaaaaaaaad!" comes a cry from Catherine upstairs.
Harry rushes to the bottom of the stairs, Ruth following behind. "I'm here sweetheart. I'll be up in a second." He turns to Ruth. "Nightmare," he explains and Ruth can tell they happen frequently.
She nods sympathetically. "I'll get going then. Let you see to her. I'll see you tomorrow night."
"I'll pick you up at seven thirty," he offers, as she retrieves her coat from the end of the bannister and he opens the front door for her.
"I'll be ready. Goodnight Harry.
"Goodnight Ruth." He kisses her gently on the cheek before watching her walk down the path to her car. He closes the door and leans against it. 'That went well,' he thinks, 'I introduced someone from work to the children and the world didn't implode. Plus I have a date.' He revels in the new developments in his life for a few moments, before another shout from Catherine reminds him that he is first and foremost a father and that is where his priorities must lie.