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i knew you tried to change the ending, peter losing wendy

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Victoria was walking through the village with Harry on her hip, words rapidly spinning in her mind as she internally practiced what to say to Aaron. He had texted an apology this morning and asked to talk about Robert’s case, with a promise to keep calm this time. 

When she gets to The Mill, she slowly opens the door to Aaron standing near the mantlepiece, “Hi,” he greets. 

She smiles, “Hiya,” she places Harry down on the couch, and he immediately scrambles back to the ground and toddles around on the ground. 

“I think I still have some colouring stuff of Seb’s,” Aaron announces, pulling them from a cupboard in the kitchen.

Victoria sets her son up with the colouring on the rug while she sits with Aaron, “So, you wanted to hear…”

“Yeah, yeah, I do. I talked with Ben about it, and he’s not keen on the idea but I talked to Liv. She really wanted me to hear about it.”

“Well, you know about Luke,” she begins, “and about the head injury, but the thing I didn’t really say much about was what it meant for Robert. Because Lee already had a head injury, there’s a chance it could lower his sentence.”

Aaron lifts his head, “You’re sure?”

“The way I see it, yes. But Ethan says it’s not likely, because he already pled guilty. I can’t understand how it couldn’t though. He was already hurt when Robert hit him, how can that not impact him dying of a brain injury?” 

He nods, “I get it. So, what does this mean? What are you doing?”

Victoria pulls open the Gmail app on her phone, scrolling down to an email from the 18th June, “I called the prison and said we had a family emergency and needed to get in contact with Robert.”

Aaron scoffs a laugh. 

“There was no other way!” 

“Did it work?”

“He’s allowed me to visit,” she smiles, “And you can come. I’m allowed to bring someone.” 

Aaron hesitates, “He-”

“He’s stupid, and he's only stopping us seeing him because he’s being a martyr. Please come, I really don’t want to go alone,” Victoria asks. 

He nods, “Okay. Okay, sure. I’ll come.” 


Liv is sitting on Aaron’s bed next to his suitcase, listening to him recall everything Vic had told him. They had arranged to go for the day and stay the night in a hotel before heading back the next morning. 

“Are you sure you don’t want to come? You can stay in the hotel while I’m at the prison,” he offers. 

“I’ll be fine,” Liv assures him, “I know it’s not been great but-” 

“Cain said he’ll drop in and make sure you’re doing okay,” Aaron says, “Not to check in on you but just for my peace of mind. Moira said if you need anythin' or just want to go there for tea then you can. Mum would've done it but I know she’s not in your good books right now."

Liv is quiet for a moment. 

“Liv?” He pauses his hands folding up another t-shirt for a second, “What’s going on?”

“Mandy said they’re not my family anymore.”

“She said what?”

Liv doesn’t meet his eyes, “The Dingles, she said. 'Said I wasn’t ever really family anyway, and since I… did what I did to Vinny. That they’re not my family anymore.” 

He sits down next to her, moving his suitcase over, “That’s not her choice to make, Liv. You did a horrible thing, but that doesn’t take your family away. You’re my little sister, family. Okay? You’re Cain and Moira’s family, and you’re my Mum’s family. A Dingle. Just without the name. Like I was.” 

She dismisses him, not meeting his eyes. 

“I did a lot when I was younger. I beat Paddy black and blue. Paddy,” he puts his arm around her, “I know how it feels hurting someone like Vinny.” 

She stands up and walks out the room, and Aaron’s brow furrows until she returns with a bottle of vodka, “I hid this downstairs.” 

He nods, “Is there any more anywhere?”

She shakes her head, “I promise.” 

“Okay,” he takes it and places it on his nightstand, preparing to take it downstairs to pour it down the sink, “I’m sorry for going.” 

“Don’t be,” she smiles at him, her eyes glossed over, “I want you to go. You need to make sure Rob is okay, and you can tell him I miss him,” she sits back down next to him and puts her head on his shoulder.


“Last time I was bad with my drinking, he helped a lot. He was good at getting in the way and crawling into my business,” she scoffs. 

Aaron laughs, “He was good at that,” They’re both quiet for a moment, and Aaron strokes the back of her head, “I promise your family isn’t going anywhere, okay? We’ll get through this, just like last time. We’re still your family, Mandy doesn’t get to decide that because of what you did to Vinny.”

She feels him kiss the top of her head, and for the first time in a long time, she believes him. 

The journey to Isle of Wight passes quickly considering the knot steadily building in Aaron’s stomach. He sends a text to Liv with a photo of the leaflet for a hotel breakfast. He knew her strong belief in the main point in staying at a hotel is the croissant the next morning. He thinks Victoria is enjoying some time without Harry attached to her side - Diane said she would look after him for the night so Vic could focus on Robert. 

They got to the hotel at 1pm, and their visiting time wasn’t until 2pm, so they spent the time trying to find the right way to tell Robert. 

“I think he’s going to be more shocked by you being there than anything either of us have to say,” Victoria chuckles. 

“Either way I think you should start with the fact you and Luke were even a thing, did he know that?” Aaron asks, knowing that Robert had sent a letter and called Vic at one point. 

She shakes her head, “He knew Luke was still around, but nothing about us being together,” she pauses for a second, like she was second-guessing herself, “Does he know about you and Seb?”

“No,” Aaron looks down, and Victoria thinks about how it must still hurt him, “Rebecca stopped me seeing him a month after Robert…” he trails off, “Yeah. He’d stopped contact with me by then. He has no clue.” 

“Big day, then.”

When they arrive at the prison, it takes half an hour before the prisoners enter the visitors room. Robert happens to be one of the last ones - he’s wearing a navy blue jumper and dark grey jogging bottoms - and Victoria can’t help but compare it to how her brother liked to dress. It couldn’t be further from his own clothes. 

Robert walked slowly, stopping in his tracks when he caught a glimpse of Aaron, “No,” he mutters to himself, “No, is it Seb? What’s happened?” 

Victoria picks up on his panic before she hears her brother’s words, and she stands, taking grip of his hand to sit him down, “Nothing, Seb’s fine, I swear.”

“Emergency, they said emergency, Vic,” he looks between Aaron and Victoria, “Aaron wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t Seb.” 

“Well he is,” she smiles, “Everything’s fine, I asked Aaron to come.”

Something about that calms him, and he finally settles into his seat, looking at the two people in front of him. 

“I missed you so much, you know,” Vic says, “Are you doing okay?”

He shrugs, “Well enough. How’s Harry? He’ll be walking by now, yeah?” 

Victoria smiles at her son’s name, nodding her head. 

Robert looks over to Aaron, who’s been silent since he had sat down, “Hi,” Robert says softly. 

Aaron bites the corner of his mouth, trying to stop himself showing any emotion. 

“How are you?”

“How am I?” Aaron repeats, “I’m fine. It’s been two years, Robert.” 

“I know it has,” Robert looks at his lap before looking back up, “I’m sorry for not talking to you, I am. I only did it because I didn’t want this for you. I couldn’t live with myself.”

Aaron nods, “I’m not thick, Robert. I’ve known you too long to know exactly why you did it, that doesn’t mean I have to like it.” 

Robert lets out an inward sigh, relieved that Aaron hadn’t forgotten the one thing he desperately needed him to remember. He feels Victoria’s thumb brushing over his fingers, noticing the clear gel nail polish on her fingernails. He’s reminded of why he was sitting here, “So, what’s happened?”

Victoria sits up in her seat, “Well, I have something important for your case.”

“My case?”

She hums in agreement. 

“And Seb’s okay? And Liv?” He turns to Aaron at his sister’s name. 

Aaron shrugs, “Do you still see Seb?

“Rebecca brings him every month or two.” 

“Then you know more than me.” 

Robert grunts in confusion. 

Victoria squeezes his hand, “Did Rebecca not tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

“She stopped Aaron seeing Seb, Rob,” she says, her eyes soft. 

He splutters, “Wha- when?” 

“The January after you were transferred.” 

“No. No, she didn’t. Aaron, she-” 

“She said it would be easier to make a clean break. I haven’t heard from her, she sent Pete to tell me and blocked all contact from me,” he says, thinking back to that conversation was hard for him, holding onto Seb was the only way he thought he would get through losing his husband. 

Robert still looks confused, “A clean break? He sees me all the time - he asks about you. I assumed you still saw him. Aaron, I-” 

“Forget it. Vic, go ahead."

“Your case has a chance to change,” she announces. 

“Change?” He repeats. 

She nods her head, “Yeah. Well, it’s a long story,” she begins to trail off before composing herself again, “I ended up dating Luke, and it was serious, we were moving in together but we broke up.” 

“I’m sorry, are you okay?” Robert asks, rubbing his fingers over her knuckles. 

“Yeah, I think I am,” she says, “I’m only saying this because the reason we broke up is kind of linked to your case. He had been messaging men online and he had lied about an ex. Turns out he’s probably bisexual or maybe gay, I don’t know.” 


“He had this ex-boyfriend and he was about to come out to Wendy, but Lee found him first and he was homophobic and tried hurting Luke and his boyfriend,” Victoria relays the story that Wendy had told her, “But Luke pushed Lee back, and he hit his head. It was the same day you hit Lee.”

Robert takes a breath, “Wow.” 

“He already had a head injury when you hit him, basically, so it might-”

“That could affect my case?”

“I think so,” Victoria agrees, “My friend Ethan is a lawyer, and he says it’s a really minor chance because you’ve already pled guilty, but it must mean something, right?”

Robert shrugs, “I don’t know Vic.”

“What are you thinking?”

“I think I’ll have to get in touch with my solicitor and see what he says.”

Victoria smiles, “Yeah? And you’ll tell me, won’t you?” She’s holding her breath hoping for some promise that her brother won’t cast her out again, “Rob, you need to ring us or let us write or something.” 

He looks down at their hands, “You know I did did this to-”

“We don’t care Robert,” Aaron interrupts. 

Victoria looks over to him, trying to stop any anger. 

“No, Vic, we don’t care why you stopped contact, Robert,” he states, “At the start, we blamed ourselves, don’t you get that?” He questions, searching Robert’s face for some fleck of understanding, “It didn’t matter why you did it. All I knew is my husband wasn’t just not with me anymore, he was just completely gone. Nothing.” 

Robert felt the guilt flush inside of him, his stomach burning with it. 

“Do you remember what it was like when I was inside? How your day surrounded that one 6 o’clock phone call?” Aaron questions, “I didn’t even have that. So no, we don’t care how guilty you felt having to know how much we missed you. We care about you, dickhead,” he lets out an angry breath, “It’s not our fault. Vic is your little sister, she needs you. And if you can’t be there, you can ring her once in a while. Let her know you’re okay.” 

“We both love you, Rob,” Victoria reiterates, “We can’t keep going like this.” 

Both of you?”

“Robert,” Vic begins. 

“Like you said, it’s been two years,” Robert says, “I get-”

Aaron interrupts him, “I do. You can’t just forget someone like you, Rob,” he says, softer than he’d been this whole visit, “You were my life, it’s hard to just get a new one.”

Robert feels the emotion weighing on his chest, “How’s Liv?”

“She’s going through stuff.”


“She’s drinking again,” Aaron admits, wiping underneath his eyes as he feels a wetness there. 

Robert closes his eyes in defeat, “No,” he mutters. 

“Yeah, so, uh. It’s hard. Last time I wasn’t on my own with it.”

He tries to take Aaron’s hand, but Aaron leans away from him, “Not here,” he whispers. 

“Everyone knows I’m married to a man, Aaron. Or was.” 


“I have photos in my cell.” 

“And it’s okay?” Victoria questions. 

He tilts his head, “I had some trouble at the start, I got moved into a single cell because of it,” he says, “It calmed down. Nobody really bothers with it anymore.” 

Aaron holds Robert’s hand. 

After some time, the alarm sounds to indicate the end of the visit, and the prisoners around them stand up to say goodbye. 

Victoria clings to her brother’s neck, wrapping her arms around him, “You’ll definitely talk to your solicitor?”

“I promise.”

“And you’ll call?”

Robert nods, “I’ll put you back on the visitor’s list, so you can contact me again.” 

Victoria holds onto him for a few more moments, and Robert can feel her tears against his neck. 

“I’m really sorry, Vic.” 

“Don’t be,” she waves her hand at him, “Just don’t underestimate us again. It’s not a burden to love you, you know.” 

He smiles, and kisses her cheek before pulling back from him, “Give Harry a hug from me, yeah?”

She nods her head, grinning, “I show him your photos all the time.” 


She hums in agreement, before turning to Aaron, hoping that he will say goodbye too, and she’s surprised when her brother wraps him in a hug as well. She sees Aaron stand firm at first before eventually relaxing into the embrace. 

Aaron places a hand on the back of Robert’s head, where it lies in Aaron’s neck, “I missed you,” he hears Robert say. 

“I missed you too.” 

“And I’ll talk to Bex.”

Robert can feel Aaron shake in emotion at the topic, so he squeezes him tighter, “He won’t remember me anymore.”

“You’re his dad. I’ll talk to her.” 

Victoria looks around to see that the last prisoner had gone through the gates, so she places a hand on her brother’s back, “It’s time to go, Rob.” 

He immediately nods, untangling himself from Aaron, “Right, uh,” he stutters, “Will you come see me… some other time?”

She grins widely, “Of course, you idiot.” 

Robert smiles at the thought, shuddering with emotion as he let go of Aaron’s hand, “I love you, you know,” he says to him as he does. 

“I know, I love you too,” he notices Robert’s eyes close at the words. 

He kisses Victoria’s cheek again, saying he loved her once more before going to walk through the gates, looking back at them and he holds his hand up in a wave as the gate closes. He catches his breath as he sees Aaron do the same back to him, while Victoria blows him a kiss. 

The visitors are led out of the room and Robert watches them leave, feeling hopeful for the first time in a long time.