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Time to Relax

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"Thank you for the lift, Howard," Emma smiled as she unlocked the front door and led the way into her house, "Would you like a drink? Tea? Coffee?"

"I'll make it," he replied, smiling at her, "You go and sit down. Rest."

Emma laughed lightly, "I keep telling you, I'm perfectly capable of looking after myself. I'm not ill, you know."

"No, you're not. But you are carrying our baby, which means that for the next few months I am going to do everything I can to make things more comfortable for you. It's the least I can, considering it is me who...um...got you into this...predicament," Howard cleared his throat to cover up his embarrassment at the reference to the night they had spent together all those weeks earlier.

"Actually, Howard, I think you'll find I was a more than willing participant," Emma smiled, looking at him teasingly. She always found it funny that such an intelligent, strong man could be embarrassed about the everyday topic of sex. She found it annoying, and endearing at the same time.

"Yes. Well. Tea," he muttered as he headed for the kitchen, trying to look as confident as possible.

Emma smiled fondly at his retreating back and went into the living room and took a seat on the sofa with a long sigh. Despite her reluctance to admit it to Howard, she was indeed feeling tired and the anxiety she had been feeling before her scan followed by the relief and happiness of finding out that everything was okay - not to mention seeing their baby for the first time - suddenly threatened to overwhelm her. Leaning her head back, she closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths to prevent the tears from overflowing.

"Here we are! I even found some biscuits in the cupboard!" Howard declared as he pushed the door open with his foot and entered the room, carrying a tray containing a pot of tea, two mugs and a plate of chocolate biscuits.

Emma smiled as she sat forward, watching as Howard poured them both tea, then took her mug from him, as well as a biscuit from the plate he held out to her.

"Thank you for this," she smiled at him as she took a sip of tea.

"It's just a cup of tea," he brushed the comment aside with a wave of his hand.

"I don't mean the tea. Not that it isn't greatly appreciated, of course. I meant...thank you for everything. For coming with me today. For being so supportive."

"You never need to thank me for that, Emma. I told you, we're in this together. Every step of the way."

Emma smiled, "I know, but..."

"I mean it," Howard interupted, "I'm not going anywhere."

"I just don't want you to feel obligated to..."

"Emma! Listen to me. I'm not here because I feel some sort of obligation. I'm here because I want to be. You know how I feel about you, how I've always felt about you. And now we're having a baby. And it's...well...it's perfect."

They held each other's gaze for a long moment, before a noise from outside distracted them, interrupting the silent words flowing between them. They both returned to their drinks and finished them in silence. Once done, Emma leaned forward to put her empty mug on the coffee table in front of the sofa, sighing as she moved back to settle into the cushions behind her.

"Tired?" Howard asked.

"Mmm," she murmured.

"You should go and lie down. Have a nap. It's probably time I was going, anyway."

"No!" Emma opened her eyes and looked at him imploringly, "Don't. Don't go, I mean."

"I really think you should get some rest..." Howard began.

"I will. If you stay. Come and lie down with me," Emma replied. It wasn't a question, more of an insistence.

"Oh. Erm..." Howard cleared his throat and loosened his tie.

"Oh, Howard!" Emma laughed, looking at him fondly, "Don't worry, I won't pounce on you or anything. I just don't really want to be on my own. I thought it might be nice if you stayed for a while longer."

"I can definitely manage that. Although I must add, just for the record, that I wouldn't complain if you did happen to get a sudden urge to...er...pounce on me..." he trailed off, winking at her.

"Yes," Emma drawled, smirking, "I'm quite sure you wouldn't."

Howard laughed loudly and then followed Emma up to her bedroom, removing his jacket, tie and shoes before opening the top two buttons of his shirt. He climbed onto the bed next to Emma and lay on his side, facing her. She was already lying down, facing him, smiling as he reached a hand out to brush hair out of her eyes.

"You should sleep," he said.

"If I do, you aren't going to leave, are you?" she asked.

"Not if you don't want me to."

"I don't. It's nice, knowing you'll be there when I wake up."

"In that case, I definitely will be here," he smiled.

There was a pause before Emma spoke again, haltingly.

"Howard...you...you know I love you, don't you?"

Howard's smile widened, "I know. You know I love you too, don't you Emma?"

Emma nodded and smiled, reaching her arm out so she could run her hand up and down his arm, I do know. Just because things are a bit...awkward...at the moment...it doesn't mean they always will be. It doesn't mean we won't...work it out. Whatever that means."

Howard caught Emma's hand in his, squeezing it, "I hope so. You know I want us to be...well, us. Together. Properly."

"And you know I want that, too. Just..."

"It's okay," Howard said gently, "Whenever you're ready, I'll still be here. However long you need."

Emma smiled and leaned forward, brushing a gentle kiss against his lips, before pulling back and settling back on her side of the bed.

"Hold me?" she asked, moving over onto her other side.

Howard moved closer to her, then put his arm around her, holding her close to him, hand resting on her stomach. Emma moved her own hand to place on his, their fingers entwining tightly.