She took the gin, staring at the bottle glumly before raising it to her lips and swallowing twice, ingesting Maggie's frank affirmation of her failure along with the liquor.
"Do you think they'll be strong enough?"
She glanced over her shoulder, Maggie matching her gaze gingerly.
"I don't know," she replied after a pause. "But I hope so... For all our sakes."
Jocelyn sighed, lips curling as Maggie pulled the bottle away from her. Maggie swirled the gin before titling her head towards the sky and taking an almighty swig. Jocelyn could hear her swallow.
"You shouldn't have brought that, you know," she said, nodding at the gin.
"Oh really?" replied Maggie, wiping her lips with her sleeve and giving it back, "And what was your plan then? Sit on the beach and feel miserable all evening?"
"You know you're a terrible drunk," declared Jocelyn, staring into the horizon before bringing the bottle to her lips.
"Mhm, so are you. I don't see that stopping you though."
Jocelyn shoved the bottle into Maggie's lap.
"Well, what do you expect me to do?" she said snippily. "You come up here, wave booze in my face, then have the nerve to tell me I'm at fault for drinking it."
Maggie stared at her, lips in a thin line, caught somewhere between disbelief and resentment.
"Grow up Jocelyn," she said bluntly, swinging the bottle back again. Jocelyn clenched her jaw.
Maggie stared at her expectantly.
"Oh, forget it."
She snatched the bottle back and took another gulp, wetting her lips.
"I'm sorry, okay? It's..."
"I know," said Maggie softly, prising the bottle off Jocelyn and nudging her with one shoulder. "Don't worry, I know."
She screwed the cap on the bottle, eyeing the thin swirl of remaining liquid grimly.
"But you're still a horrible drunk."
"I know," said Jocelyn, smiling with an exhalation of air that almost passed for laughter.
"Come on then," said Maggie, standing upright and shoving the bottle back in her bag. Jocelyn stared up at her. "Come on," repeated Maggie more forcefully, holding out her hand to help Jocelyn up, "You can't sit about moping here all evening."
"No," replied Jocelyn, taking her hand as Maggie pulled her up, "No, I suppose you're right."
"I know I am."
Maggie went to pull away her hand, but Jocelyn held fast, watching her carefully. She opened her mouth to speak, but seemed to change her mind at the last minute, and turned away, relinquishing her grip. Maggie frowned as she strode into the distance.
"Jocelyn?" she began, scrambling after her, "What's wrong?"
"Forget it," said Jocelyn, without looking back.
"I don't even know what I'm supposed to forget!" snorted Maggie loudly, as Jocelyn continued marching resolutely up the hill. "Oh, for goodness' sake Jocelyn, you might as well tell me."
Jocelyn slowed to stop and turned to face her, voice hushed.
"If you must know, I..." Jocelyn looked at her feet and scratched her forehead, shielding herself. "I was going to be a schoolboy and ask if you wanted to stay the night. Alright?"
"That gin's gone straight to your head."
"You see!" said Jocelyn, throwing her arms to her sides in exasperation. "I knew you'd think it was stupid."
"No," replied Maggie earnestly, "What I mean is, you should at least wait until we got to your house to ask me that."
"You're..." Jocelyn stared at her in disbelief, the insult on her judgement suddenly overruled by surprise. "You're not offended?"
"No, Jocelyn," said Maggie, leaning in close, and placing one hand on Jocelyn's jaw, giving her the faintest ghost of a kiss before pulling away, "Of course I'm not offended."
Jocelyn's expression didn't change.
"Now," continued Maggie, moving her hand away and giving Jocelyn's own a small squeeze. "Are we going to your house, or not?"
"What?" said Jocelyn, blinking in surprise as she was dragged back into the real world. "Yes. Yes, of course."
"Good," replied Maggie, with a nod of affirmation before walking off briskly, Jocelyn now struggling to keep up.
They were almost at the top of the cliffs before either spoke again, when Jocelyn grabbed Maggie by the hand suddenly and she almost fell over.
"You're sure this is what you want, aren't you?"
"How many times do I have to say it? Yes, I am sure this is what I want." She put her hands to Jocelyn's face once more, running her fingers through Jocelyn's hair and tucking it behind her ears. "You are what I want. Accept that."
Jocelyn reached up, a teased Maggie's hand out her hair slowly, pulling on her coat sleeve.
"Maggie..." she began, visibly uncomfortable, "Not here..."
Maggie turned away and started striding up the hill again.
"You better hurry up though, or I'll lose my nerve."
"And what," began Jocelyn, feeling far more self-assured with Maggie's confession and far less anxious now she was a good five feet away, "Do you actually think is going to happen, hmm?"
"I don't know," shouted Maggie back, "You tell me."
"Maggie..." continued Jocelyn, trailing off when Maggie began marching up the steps to the house and briefly disappeared out of view. She followed and found Maggie waiting nest to the patio doors, gate open. Jocelyn pulled the keys out of her pocket and wriggled the gate shut. She stood next to Maggie, fumbling with the lock on the patio doors. "I... I just don't want to fuck this up, okay?"
Maggie snorted as Jocelyn slid open the doors.
"Such eloquence, Jocelyn."
"Mhm," said Jocelyn, complacently as she ushered Maggie into the house. "Maybe if I had a little more I would've been able to do my job."
"Hey now," said Maggie turning round and catching Jocelyn by the waist as she turned from locking the patio doors, "None of that. Or I'll start making you drink your own gin, and that would be terrible for us both."
"Yes," replied Jocelyn, her hands on Maggie's shoulders, face settling in a soft smile. "Yes, it would be."
Both were silent for a time, until Jocelyn leaned in and kissed Maggie lightly, her fingers curling and clutching at the fabric of Maggie's coat when she pushed back harder. Jocelyn ran her hands up the back of Maggie's neck and into her hair, kissing more forcefully now, while Maggie's own hands slid downwards, finding their way below Jocelyn's hips. She gave a small squeeze and Jocelyn jumped in surprise, only fuelling Maggie's delight.
"Now that," said Jocelyn slowly, shifting her fingers back to Maggie's shoulders, "Was childish."
"Your point?" replied Maggie, with a grin, leaning in and giving her a light peck. "Now go on," she continued, giving Jocelyn a small pat, "Go and get your headphones, I'm too tired to read to you tonight."
Jocelyn huffed in response, pulling away before she went hunt down her headphones.
"I don't know why I put up with you," she muttered loudly, as Maggie settled herself down in the living room.
"Me!?" came the indignant response, "Have you heard yourself sometimes?"
"Yes," said Jocelyn, reappearing at the lounge door, "I have, as a matter of fact."
"Oh. Well then, you'll know what I'm talking about then, won't you?" replied Maggie, patting at the space next to her on the sofa. Jocelyn sat down obligingly, slipping the headphones on as Maggie nuzzled her head into her shoulder, leaning heavy against Jocelyn. Jocelyn clicked the audio tape on and as Chapter 4 of My Cousin Rachel began playing she leant her head atop Maggie's own, sighing wistfully.
It would be less than half an hour before both fell into a hazy sleep. Eventually Jocelyn would wake and take her headphones off slowly, unwillingly Maggie stirring in the process. Maggie would lift her head from Jocelyn's lap and stare at her, before taking her by the hand and leading her up the stairs. Jocelyn would run her free hand along the banister, taking each step slowly for fear of tripping. And then when they round the corner of bedroom Maggie would sit on the edge of the bed, still clinging onto Jocelyn's hand as she pulled her close. She would wrap her arms around Jocelyn's waist until Jocelyn sat down too. And then Jocelyn would kiss her tenderly, and Maggie would kiss her back, and they would dissolve into each other, with all the urgency and uncertainty of people who had spent fifteen years waiting to be together.