Chapter 1: Under the Weather
It was a cold and grey morning in February. Julia sat tensely over her speech. Her fight for the keys of number 10 was at a critical stage now. She couldn’t remember the last time she had actually not been stressed. She sat up, craning her neck. It was only 10 in the morning but she already felt as if she had been up and at work for at least 12 hours. She barely had time for herself these days, that was the reason why it took her unusually long to notice that her body had been sending her signals. Whether they were alarming, she was not sure. The only thing she knew was that it had been weeks since she last remembered not feeling slightly under the weather. She had put it down to the stress she had, but the fact remained that it also had been just as long since she last had her period. And that began worrying her. The first few weeks she hadn’t bothered thinking about it, she simply didn’t have the time. But the more she had thought about it over the past few days the more she wondered if everything was alright. She was no good to anyone if she became PM but then would have to take a step back to take care of her health. So she had made an appointment with her gynaecologist, Doctor Wilson, which was due later this afternoon. When David had learned about the appointment he had been worried, she could tell, even if he didn’t want to let anything on. “It’s just a routine check-up, there is nothing to worry about,” she had told him hoping he wouldn’t ask further questions. Thankfully, he hadn’t. He had just accepted it and continued watching TV, whilst she prepared herself for the next day. She had to put up her best acting though. She was a little worried and didn’t know if she dreaded going to Mrs Wilson or if she should be relieved that she finally found out what was wrong with her. All the signs leaned towards her being premenopausal but she had actually thought she was too young for that. A knock on the door disrupted her thoughts.
“Ms Montague, we need to leave in ten minutes,” Tahir reminded her.
“Yes, thank you,” she replied giving him a nod that made him leave.
Her look left the door, wandered over the people working outside her office and halted at David standing outside, observing his surroundings. Visits at the gynaecologist were awkward enough as they were, having your secret boyfriend there, waiting for you outside, who undoubtedly would ask questions later put it all on a different level. But that was a something to worry about later. And until then there was plenty to do and enough to keep her mind entirely off that matter. With that, she chased her thoughts off, packed her speech, put on her coat, took her bags and made her way down to the car that was waiting for her, David in tow.
The next few hours passed in a blur. Her speech was successful, she felt, the other members of her party seemed to be on the same page as her and applauded her speech vigorously. While others made the usual comments. Roger glowered at her and had another remark for her of how he would find a way to stop her from succeeding. He still hadn’t gotten over the fact that she had thrown in her hat for Prime Minister and beat him with her success once again. But she was simply not in the mood to pick a fight with him, not today. So, she tried to ignore him. Roger being Roger, however, he wouldn’t leave her alone.
“Well, at least I didn’t have to sleep my way up to get where I am, not like some of us,” she finally snapped That shut him up.
He looked absolutely dumb-founded. Why she had ever married that man was beyond her today. He made it impossible to be around, without snapping at him and actually taking him seriously. Finally, she could get past him, entering the Parliament once again after a short recess. Both knew that it had always been her who was the more successful one, the one who just knew how to do things. Her quick abilities to learn, adapt, talk and charm people, were some of the reasons for her success and his dismay. When the rest of the session had finally finished, Julia grabbed her things and found eye contact with David. He was definitely very focused on his job of keeping her safe.
At work, it always was as if he had switched on the professional version of himself and he simply could not switch to the version he was, when he was with her. It would be catastrophic, at the moment at least, for these lines to blur. They were still holding their relationship under wraps and always tried to be very cautious and careful. David being unable to change into boyfriend mode at the practice later might also help her later at the doctor, Julia mused, while she weaved herself through the crowd towards David. For a normal session, it was unusually crowded today, which might have been an excuse for David to put his hands on the small of her back to lead her out of the room safely. There wasn’t really a reason for that and she knew he always did that as a personal sign to show her, he was there for her. It was professional enough not to get noticed by anyone else. But it was his way to show his support for her impending appointment.
As soon as they had left the mass of people he also took his hand off her back. She immediately missed the warmth that radiated off him. All she could do was throwing a glance in his direction behind her. They definitely had developed a secret body language that would help them understand each other without the actual need to talk.
On the way to her gynaecologist, she pretended to be busy. She could feel David’s look in the front mirror but didn’t dare look up. She knew that he could read her like no one else. He would see that she was worried that it wasn’t a merely routine check-up. She couldn’t face that and have all of that on top of everything else. So she opted for the easy and logical way out - her work. She didn’t take in a single word of the random document she had fished out of her bag. She hadn’t expected to. She was too anxious. What if it was something more serious? Her period had never failed to be on time, even during the most stressful times, when she became a lawyer or when she had some of the most difficult cases to win, not even when she first went into politics. It all had put an extreme amount of pressure on her. To be fair, running for Prime Minister was still something entirely different than taking the bar exam. At least that is what she tried to tell herself.
“Ma’am, ready when you are”, she heard the very familiar Scottish voice saying.
She simply nodded and waited for him to open the door. She was glad that everything seemed to go like clockwork. That made it so much easier for Julia to actually focus on herself and not of David being there with her in the practice, his look feeling constantly at her back. Plus, she had to hold up her end of the performance. This gave her the security she needed at the moment.
After greeting each other and having other pleasantries, Julia explained her symptoms to her gynaecologist. She didn’t know why, but she found it important to stress the fact that she was under a lot of pressure - as if to justify herself for not coming in earlier. Her doctor didn’t reply much, but she rarely did. That’s why she liked her. She was never one to do a lot of small talk or wanted to be extra friendly. She listened to you and solved the problem, without a lot of fuss. She was honest and never played around the bush either. That always made it slightly more comfortable for Julia. Doctor Wilson decided to have Julia’s blood taken and to have a urine test, among the usual procedure.
“I will be right back with your results,” her doctor said, whilst Julia was putting on her clothes again.
Julia thanked her and continued buttoning up her blouse. Getting the results took longer than Julia liked them to take. She had decided to take a seat again, but grew restless and started fidgeting with her hands and twisting her fingers. She restrained herself from getting up and walk around or take out her phone. It all will be alright she kept telling herself. “It’s okay. You’re doing fine,” she imagined her favourite Scottish voice saying. Ever since the attack at Pascoe House, this one line, this mantra David had kept on telling her while being shot at, helped her in tense situations. David always had a very soothing effect on her. Partly probably because he was her PPO, but he stayed calm during the most stressful situations, he always had this sort of peace of mind that always helped her and gave her the security that everything was indeed okay. Crossing and uncrossing her legs for the umpteenth time, she heard footsteps approaching. She felt herself taking in a deep breath as if to prepare herself for some big news. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
Doctor Wilson came in again, holding the test results in her hands. Julia tried not to look too worried and keep her cool, the one the RH Julia Montague MP always had. Still, she held her breath.
“I’ve got your results. And you are not premenopausal, Miss Montague. On the contrary. You are pregnant.”
Chapter 2: Processing the News
I finally finished the second chapter. This is basically about Julia's way of reacting to the news.
Thank you for the great feedback! I am very glad you enjoy the story. It took me a bit longer to update this one, but here we go. I hope it isn't too terrible.
Julia sat frozen in her seat. She caught herself staring at her doctor. She wanted to ask how that was possible, but she knew exactly how it was possible. That didn´t make it seem any less unreal. She was at an absolute loss for words. Her mind drew a complete blank. She was unable to understand anything of what was happening. Her doctor seemed to notice her shock and continued, helping out her patient cope with the news.
“The test shows that you are eight weeks pregnant. Your blood-pressure is raised slightly as well, which is a further indicator. I know this is a lot to take in. You probably need time to process all of this. But what is crucial now, is that you come in for regular ultrasound check-ups. Especially since you are nearing your first trimester. Do you have any questions so far?”
Julia's mind was still completely empty. She heard her doctors' words but somehow the meaning got lost on the way. It took a second for Julia to notice that her doctor was looking at her questioningly.
“Are you sure?” was all that came out.
It was a stupid question, she was aware. Her mouth had been faster than her brain. The news had thrown her off so completely, that she was having trouble to pull herself together. To show her the confident Julia Montague, the version of her everyone usually knew, was more than just a little difficult at the moment. Usually, she was prepared for everything. She hated not being prepared. The premenopausal news had been something, she would have been prepared for, but not for this. The last time that had happened, was when she met David. He had thrown her off in a similar way. Pregnancy was of course news on a whole different scale.
“Positive. I can give it to you in black and white if you prefer. If you think back, you yourself must have noticed the signs, as well. Your blood pressure is one signal. Other indicators can be that you might feel out of breath, tired and exhausted. Oftentimes pregnant women suffer from insomnia. You should be more emotional than normal. On top of that, your body might also be tenser. Around week five to eight, morning sickness might also kick in and your sense of smell could be getting stronger.”
She looked at Julia, waiting for some sign to indicate comprehension on her part. Meanwhile, Julia knew why Dr. Wilson was her gynaecologist. She had had all the arguments prepared and had won the debate. She had put a lot of those symptoms down to her stress. But there was no way that she wasn't right.
“Mmm,” she merely replied.
She had no idea what to say. It was rather as if the news had run her over like a freight train. How do you react when you get such news? Pregnancy had always been the last thing on Julia's mind. Her work, first as a criminal barrister and later as a politician had always been predominant. Plus she could never have imagined having children with Roger. Besides that, Roger never wanted children. She was sure he was terrible with them anyway . And the idea of raising a child with Roger had been so absurd that it had never crossed her mind in the first place. With David, the thought hadn't crossed her mind either. At the moment she just enjoyed being with him. She loved being in that little bubble with him. Again it was the gynaecologist who pulled her mind back to the reality.
“I know this is a lot to take in. I think, the best thing is, you take a few days to process the news and when you are ready, you make a new appointment and you can come in for an ultrasound.” Dr Wilson sounded sympathetic and everything she said made sense – in theory. It was just too foreign for Julia just now. She willed herself to look the woman sitting opposite into the eyes. It was hard when her mind was all over the place.
“Yes... yes, thank you.”, Julia cleared her throat, trying to shake her confusion out of her head. “Thank you.”
Doctor Wilson looked at Julia understandingly, putting forth her hand to shake Julia's. She took her hand, then picked up her bag and turned when she suddenly stopped. David was outside. He'd want to know and she wasn't sure if she was ready to tell him. She couldn't tell him just yet. The only thing she could do was hope he would be fine with her white lie that the checkup had been fine. She quickly trained her features to not look like someone who had just gotten the most life-changing news she had gotten just now and quickly made it to the door, hoping Doctor Wilson hadn't noticed anything. She turned around briefly to look at her and with relief Julia saw that Dr Wilson was sitting at the desk, taking notes. She had indeed not noticed any of the inner turmoil that had resulted in her stopping for a brief second.
When she came to the front desk where David was waiting a wave of anxiety hit her. She didn't know how to do this, how to handle this situation and pretend everything was fine. She could put on the best charade in front of reporters and people who didn't know her. But the one person who knew her better than anyone else was with her in the practice and he would notice. He always noticed, even the slightest differences. It came with his job. Observing people, anticipating their actions and making sure she was fine. She went towards him, eyes meeting only briefly before she swooped past him towards the Ministerial car. She could feel his look on the back of her neck. She felt his questions bombarding already. But she tried to focus on her walk out of the building. Hardly registering that he announced her imminent arrival over his speaker, she stopped in front of the lift. The only wish she had was to be home and left to her own thoughts.
“Is everything alright?” David asked slight concern in his voice, as soon as the doors had closed.
“Yeah, nothing to worry about,” she managed to get out, sounding much more convincing than she felt, avoiding eye contact just the same.
She tried to stay professional, and quite frankly, to find an excuse not to look him in the eyes. David glanced at her for a moment, somewhat sceptical. Julia knew she would have to put on an act. And a very good one on top. Before he could do or say anything further, however, the doors of the lift opened and saved her from his quizzical stare. Part of the reason why he was still her PPO was, that he was with her at all times. He was the only person she trusted and she knew, despite the fact that she had to stop and let him go as her PPO, so she and David could make their relationship official, that she never wanted anyone else protecting her. Well, making it official was a bold statement, Julia mused. He was still married and she understood his thoughts as to why that was. Even if he wasn't her PPO any more, he was still married. The press would eat her alive. Especially if a child came into the picture. She could imagine the headlines already: “Home Secretary pregnant by married Ex-PPO” or something much cruder. She didn't really want to let him go. Just seeing him gave her the security that everything was alright. Only now she wished, he wasn't around. She could basically feel his questions reeling in his head and she wasn't ready for them. And that interrogatory look wasn't helping either. It was the one time she wished he hadn't been with her, but someone else like Tom or Kim. She wouldn't have needed to worry about what to say at home because she could have kept it to herself until she was ready.
While giving away to her musings, Julia had gotten back into the ministerial car and thankfully was left to her thoughts. David's focus had finally shifted and now was on the road ahead. She was knackered. She honestly couldn't wait to get home. The only thing she wanted to do was go home, take a bath and shut herself off from the world. But she still had a mountain of work ahead of her. She could start now, but there was no way, she would get anything done. But who was she kidding? She would be just as unproductive at home. So, she might as well try now. It would give her an excuse not having that talk. Julia fished out another document and started reading. Merely one sentence in and her thoughts went back to her gynaecologist's words.
If she thought about it, the signs had been there for a while, but she would never have concluded that she might be pregnant. Julia tried to shake off those thoughts, she didn't have the time now. She forced her to look back on the words. But before she could get much more done, she felt the car slow down. She looked up and saw that they had arrived at home already.
Would David be around later? Or was today a day when he saw his kids? She didn't want to think of Vicky. She had never met the woman and she knew there was nothing to be jealous about. But the fact remained that she was still his wife. And even if she understood his reasons, it bothered her. It was Thursday, that meant that he was with Ella and Charlie. That meant she had the night for herself. She almost felt a bit guilty but she was glad he would be at his place tonight. It gave her all the more time to process things in her own way and time.
While David had opened the door for her and inspected her flat, she had followed him wordlessly, checking her phone. “All clear, ma'am,” she heard him say, voice without emotion, sounding very professional.
“Thank you, David.” she smiled at him tentatively. It was the first time she looked at him properly. Still, she hoped her eyes wouldn't give her away.
His task was done and so was his job for the day. His demeanour changed in an instant. At least to her, it was subtle but his shoulders were not quite as tensed when he was off duty. The look in his eyes always changed from unemotional, observing and meticulous to warm and protective. Just now there was a curious element on top of that.
“Is everything alright? What did the doctor say? You seemed occupied after the appointment,” he prodded gently, trying not to overstep his mark. Vicky had never told him anything about what those appointments had been about and had always let him know – albeit non-verbally – that it was none of his business.
She felt his hesitation. The only thing she wanted to do at the moment was to cry. She felt the lump in her throat growing. Damn, those emotions. She willed it down and looked at him. “As I've said before, everything's alright. It was merely my annual check-up,” she rebuffed. Julia had sounded harsher than she had intended and felt a bit guilty. He was only looking out for her.
“Alright,” he sounded irritated and recoiled slightly. There was a moment of awkward silence between them. Julia wanted to reach out and apologize but that would have entailed her explaining herself. David cleared his throat and continued somewhat awkwardly “I need to go. Ella and Charlie are waiting for me.” He went to turn around and leave when she grabbed his hand. She felt bad for snapping at him.
“Look, I am sorry. It's been a long day and I'm exhausted.” This wasn't even a lie. His look had softened at that a little as he gave the indication of a smile and nodded. She knew he deserved an explanation, but not tonight.
“I'll see you tomorrow at work,” he replied quietly.
For a second he was unsure whether he should just leave. Julia, however, still had the urge to apologize. But instead of telling him, she pulled him into a soft kiss. He immediately reciprocated it.
“I'll see you tomorrow,” Julia murmured. With that, David turned around and left.
As soon as she heard the door clicked shut, Julia closed her eyes momentarily, letting out a deep breath. The one thing she needed now, was in her fridge. So, she turned around and made a beeline for the kitchen. Once she had reached it, she immediately grabbed a wine glass and opened the fridge for her wine. No sooner than she held the cool bottle in her hand, it came to her.
“Shit,” she muttered to herself and put both the glass and the wine back. The one thing she needed now, she couldn't have. This certainly wasn't going to be easy.
Chapter 3: Morning Sickness
Julia's new situation makes itself felt and she has to find a way to deal with it and carry on with her work. At the same time, she has to try to keep it all a secret.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
David and Julia were tiptoeing around each other for the next few days. It wasn't as if they were avoiding each other, but ever since Julia's outburst, David had become somewhat more careful and didn't dare mention anything about the other day and her appointment. Even if he still had the feeling something wasn't quite right. Julia, on the other hand, felt David's slight awkwardness but didn't do anything about it either. She had started pretending that everything was normal. Her daily routine and her immense schedule helped her with that. Part of her felt a little guilty for still leaving him in the dark and making her feel as if she couldn't be as honest with him as she usually was, but she also was not ready to drop that bomb just yet. She had barely wrapped her mind around it herself. The only thing that could possibly make him suspicious was her lack of alcohol consume. She loved wine and David knew that. It was part of her after-work hours. She had to find an excuse for that, too. Maybe she would be able to make him believe that she did it for her health, well, she didn't even believe that herself. But she still had some time to come up with something.
For now, at least. Julia looked at the sleeping form of David next to her. Her insomnia gave her more time to think (and worry). Their whole life would change once she began showing and once David knew. Would he still want to be her PPO or would things have to change, to make it less complicated for both of them? The rational solution would be just that. But she liked having him around, seeing him all day long and knowing he was just behind her in case anything happened. He just made her feel safe and protected and she felt she wanted this now even more than before. It wouldn't be just her he would be protecting, but their child, too. Their child. The term didn't feel as foreign to her any more than it did when she first heard the news about her pregnancy. On the contrary. She began to feel just as protective over him or her than David must feel when it came to her.
Ever since she had gotten the news, she had caught herself looking for signs of her pregnancy. Everything Dr Wilson had said was accurate. Only the morning sickness wasn't on her list. But from what she had read, she wasn't mad if this part of the pregnancy skipped her. Morning sickness was honestly the last thing she needed, especially with the workload she had with her campaign to become PM. Her constant fatigue made it difficult already. She did feel a little queasy though, but that was probably because she hadn't eaten properly in half a day.
David stirred, Julia turned to look at her alarm clock. It was nearly time for them to get up. She heaved a sigh. She enjoyed her work, but if staying in bed all day with David would be an option, she would definitely choose this over her work any day.
“You're awake early,” David mumbled still half asleep, disrupting her train of thoughts.
“I couldn't sleep,” she replied. Both were facing each other now. She honestly could get lost in those blue eyes.
“Mornin'”, David leaned in for a tender kiss. She smiled into the kiss. It was the first morning in days that felt like a silk blanket. They were moments in the morning that felt as if they had fallen out of time. She started drawing random patterns onto the back and onto his scar tissue. As horrible as the circumstances were in which he had gotten them, as traumatic and painful it was what he had suffered, she actually loved his scars. They were part of the reason why he was now with her. She knew it sounded way too romantic and she would probably never admit it to someone, not even him. If he hadn't had all those experiences as a soldier, he wouldn't be the man he is now. He'd probably still be with Vicky. She would still feel as lonely and unhappy as she was before she met David and she most definitely would not be expecting.
Julia leaned into him and responded passionately. David didn't need to be asked twice and immediately reciprocated the kiss, which elicited a moan from her while he leaned over her. Julia raked her hands through his hair and dragged her nails down his back. That only intensified their kiss. Both started fumbling impatiently with their clothes to get rid of the offending items. Julia was desperate to feel his hot skin on hers. Unwilling to stop letting go of her lips, David settled between her legs, when both his alarm clock and her phone went off almost at the same time. This made the couple nearly jump out of their skin.
“Fuck”, he grumbled into her neck. She, too, puffed annoyed and eyed her phone angrily. The bubble had burst. Both of them knew that. “I hate your fucking work sometimes,” David growled angrily while rolling onto his back, taking another breath from the scare he got. “I do, too,” she replied, now holding her vibrating phone. “I especially hate Rob,” she hissed and then answered her phone rather harshly.
It turned out he had called to inform her about new statistics about her chances of winning her campaign, that needed to be put on the agenda of this morning's meeting. Julia knew that there was no reason to call her at such an ungodly hour of the morning and she had definitely let him know. She was also aware, however, that he fancied her and apparently thought their relationship was more than merely work-related. That apparently allowed him to call her early in the morning. In his eyes at least. If it didn't look somewhat out of place to fire him during her campaign to become PM, she would have fired him long ago. But alas she couldn't since it could have effects on people's voting decision and her public image, this would have to wait till after the campaign was over. After the phone call had ended, Julia went to join David in the bathroom, who was still looking a little morose.
“I promise you, I will make up for it tonight,” she said while hugging him from behind and giving him a kiss on his shoulder.
“It's fine. I know how important this is for you. Just sometimes I wished, we had a little more time,” he said while brushing his teeth. He met her gaze in the mirror. “I know. We will,” she replied gently.
An hour later, Julia was sat in her car on the way to Downing Street. She may be running for PM, but in the current government, she was still Home Secretary. This was one of her last meetings in this position. She was glad when the double burden would finally be a thing of the past. She felt increasingly exhausted these days. Having to do two jobs at once wasn't only quite demanding in itself. The adjustments of her body to the new situation and its need to slow down to take breaks, was just a little much, even for her. Naturally, she couldn't let anyone else know or suspect anything. So she tried to work twice as hard. What came on top today, was that she had been feeling queasy all morning. The car ride didn't really help with that either. Thus, she was glad when the car finally turned into Downing Street and it eventually slowed down.
When David opened the door at last and allowed her to exit the car, she was out just a tad quicker than usual. She needed fresh air and firm ground under her feet. She actually never got car sick, and she wasn't car sick per se. She didn't know how to define it. She felt uncomfortable and admittedly, a little sick. But there was also a tinge of anxiety and she had no idea where this had come from. There was no reason for her to be anxious. People eventually finding out didn't make her anxious. That was a fact. A fact she still had to deal with and something that definitely needed some planning on her part. That didn't make her feel anxious though. Besides that, there was still a little time until she would actually show.
The only way, she knew how to deal with that anxiety though, was trying to push it out of her mind and focus on her work. There was plenty of that. She hadn't even entered the door to number ten yet, when Roger would unknowingly help her push all that anxiety aside, by turning up outside to inform her that the PM wasn't happy how his term in office would end. He was in no position to whine about how his term would end. Besides, when was he ever happy with anything, she thought.
“Shall I brief you on the details of his wishes?” he asked her in a mixture of boredom and annoyance of having to talk to her at all. “No,” she replied coolly and swept past him, holding her jacket to protect her from the harsh wind that prevailed over London this morning. Ignoring Roger was usually the best policy, even if he was the chief whip. She knew that he would definitely not be her chief whip and that enraged him even more. The current PM had seen reason and had grudgingly decided to leave after the scandal about his serious sexual assault had hit the news. Since Roger had always been the PM's pet boy and had naturally hoped this might give him a chance to be the next one in line, he was seething that he was once again beaten by his ex-wife.
As soon as Julia had entered the building, a wave of nausea hit her. A sudden agitation assailed her as if she had just gotten off a roller-coaster and her stomach began to lurch.
“Sorry, I need to use the loo,” she managed to get out, sounding a lot like the cool Julia Montague, even though from a distance. She handed her briefcase to Tom who was on duty. Tom gave Kim a sign to follow Julia to wait for her in front of the women's bathroom. Julia tried to walk as fast as she could without actually looking suspicious. There was no time to lose since she felt her food come up. The minute the bathroom door had closed behind her, Julia ran to the loo, leaned over the toilet bowl, whilst holding her hair and vomited. The retching sound she made sounded pitiful. Part of her didn't care. The other part, however, hoped that the doors were thick enough to prevent Kim or anyone else who may pass the toilets from hearing the gagging and heaving sounds. She was sure she would come up with an excuse if the issue came up, but she'd rather not have anyone hear her throwing up her breakfast.
Eventually, Julia leaned back up, feeling hot, sweaty and sick. Her doctor had warned her about morning sickness. She just hadn't really expected it to arrive. Least of all so soon. She knew that some women hadn't had one day of morning sickness while being pregnant. Julia had secretly hoped to be among that group of women. She had barely gotten used to the idea of expecting a child. Now her body gave her another reminder of that very fact. As if being exhausted all the time, not being able to sleep and being anxious wasn't enough. Now she had to deal with this on top of it all, and hide it and find a way to keep that morning sickness at bay. Getting back on her feet, she flushed the toilet, turned around and went to the sink. The woman approaching the mirror didn't look like her. She always associated herself with being strong, determined and decisive. The woman looking at her, however, looked uneasy, sick and completely uncertain. She washed her mouth, hoping to get rid of the taste in her mouth. After adjusting her hair, she hoped nobody would notice how sick she actually looked and felt. But then hardly anyone ever noticed anything connected with human emotions or needs when it came to the people in this building. They didn't care. The only thing they cared for was money, power and their careers. Having one last look at herself, she turned and left the bathroom. Throwing a side-way glance at Kim told her that either she had actually not heard anything or she was just extremely professional about it. She hoped for the former theory to be true. She took back her briefcase, thanking Tom and followed him to the conference room. Her wave of nausea seemed to have abated for the time being. Something she was glad about.
Something she hadn't noticed, was that Roger had observed her a rather brisk walk to the loo and also saw her leaving it again. He had been married to her long enough to know that this was something out of the ordinary. Julia had never gone to the loo before when entering Downing Street. He couldn't put his finger on it, but something about this image was different and he would find out what it was. If there was any chance of embarrassing her or finding a way to strike her a blow, he was only too glad to volunteer. With that in mind, he entered the conference room after her.
Thanks so much for all the fantastic feedback. I am honestly overwhelmed. I hope I got the right tone with this chapter and I do hope my description of Julia's pregnancy are correct. I don't have children, so I can't really draw from my own experience. YouTube was a great help though.
Chapter 4: Decision
Julia finally has to face the idea of telling David about her condition.
It was a struggle to write this chapter. I hope it turned out well. I had a lot of doubts writing it (is it still in character, is this too much etc), plus I had a busy week. So, it took me extra long. But the good side is, this chapter is almost twice as long as the previous one. I hope you enjoy it. And thank you again for all the wonderful comments.
The only thing Julia wanted to do that night was to crawl into her bed and fall asleep while listening to David's heartbeat. She had spent a better part of the day trying not to feel too sick and to actually focus on the visitors she had, and the work she had to deal with. It was beyond her why it was called morning sickness when that feeling of nausea had been a constant undercurrent for most of the day. Now that it was late in the evening, it had finally abated slightly. So, a quiet night in and just try and get more than four or five hours of sleep seemed like a dream to her.
Reality, however, looked a little different. She knew that she still had a long night ahead of her, despite the fact that it was past nine already and she would have an early call tomorrow - as usual, these days. On top of her exhaustion came that it was rather unlikely that she would get any of the sleep she needed. Under normal circumstances, she would have opened a bottle of wine for the stress, or pop a sleeping pill. But given the circumstances, she wasn't sure if a sleeping pill was detrimental to the baby. The save option was a steaming cup of tea. With that thought in mind, she left the building and followed David out of the Home Office towards her car. They had arranged for him to come back after work tonight. Julia looked forward to that. She knew that her mountain of work would keep her from spending more time with David, but his mere presence helped her relax. She would doubtlessly be sitting at her desk, going through documents and plans for the next day, and he'd probably be on the couch dozing or watching something, but that little bubble of domestic bliss was something she craved more and more.
On the way home, Julia didn't go through emails on her phone. Instead, she looked out of the window, watched the lights pass her by, while she tried not to let the motion of the car get to her. She had never gotten carsick in her life, but she supposed this was part of the deal now – this continual feeling of uneasiness.
David in front of her stayed professional and kept his look forward. There wasn't much talk in the car. Neither seemed to be able to do meaningless small talk in front of her driver. Somehow, Julia was glad for the quiet downtime. All day long she had spent talking to people, campaigning, agreeing to this, discussing a TV interview and making preparations for another one and getting people on her side in general. That had barely given her a minute throughout the day, besides the toilet breaks.
When the car had finally arrived in front of the building, and David had inspected her flat, he left her on the pretence of being done for the night. He had worked out a plan. Since he had access to all the rota of all officers that guarded her, he also knew when the current guarding officer's shift would end and when he would be replaced by someone else. He knew it always was very dangerous to use the backdoor right the moment one guard had left, but it was the only time of the day where he could go to her place without running the risk of blowing up the whole affair. Quite literally. The guard's shift would end in an hour. This gave him enough time to leave with the other PCs in the car, clock off at work, grab his stuff and go back to Julia's place.
“Hey Skip,” he heard a female voice in the front seat say when he got into the car.
“Okay, in there?” he replied when he sat down. As soon as darkness engulfed him, he felt Kim's look at him through the front mirror. It had been a long day and he wasn't particularly keen on talking. He just wanted to go back and spent the night with Julia.
“You might want to have a closer look at Lavender,” Sergeant Knowles said, disrupting the silence. “Why,” David inquired, trying to sound as professional as he could. He wasn't sure he was entirely successful, as he saw Kim looking back at him in the front mirror. For a second he thought she showed curiosity at the tone in his voice. If he was right about that, she didn't let anything on, however, but continued. “She threw up in the bathroom today. It might just have been a bug, but I would keep an eye on it. Just to be sure.” The darkness around him hid any concern like a veil and he was grateful for it. He tried not to worry too much. He knew that if Julia didn't want to let him know, it would be nearly impossible to get to the root of it. He didn't know if this strong sense of determination and secrecy enraged him or made him love her even more. At the moment he didn't know what to feel. He was a little bewildered that she would keep something to herself that she knew would worry him, and that in turn annoyed him. She would come around as soon as she was ready for it, but he wished that news hadn't taken him quite as by surprise. David made the way to his apartment, pretending to go home when in reality he would go back to the source of his thoughts.
Meanwhile, Julia had made herself a cup of fennel tea. She hated fennel tea, but she knew it would console her upset stomach. A mountain of documents, preparation and paperwork finally got her much needed attention. The warmth of the tea worked like an instant relaxation aid, not just for her stomach but for her as well. That in combination with the silence around her, knowing that for the next hour, nobody, no phone calls or assistants would disrupt her, helped her be more productive than she had felt all day.
Two steaming mugs of tea later, she was so engrossed in her work that she didn't hear David enter her apartment with the spare key she had given him. She had moved from her office desk to the couch with a blanket draped around her, all kinds of documents splattered around her and her laptop propped on the table in front of her. She had opened Google to look for remedies against her morning sickness. The one thing she had come up with that did make sense to her was ginger ale. Only then she heard a Scottish accent behind her and quickly closed her laptop, trying to cover the fright he had given her.
“I didn't know if you already had dinner, so I brought takeaway,” he offered after having shrugged off his jacket. Julia looked up at him and smiled gratefully. Giving her one of his rare smiles, he went over to her and kissed her tenderly. He simply couldn't resist her, no matter how infuriating and worrisome her secretiveness could be.
“Hey,” he mumbled when they parted at last.
“Hi”, she smiled, “thank you”
“For the kiss or the food?”, he teased her. “Both”, she flirted back. “Let me just get some plates”, she proposed and made an attempt to get up from the sofa. But David was faster.
“I got it, just relax. You clean this up while I get the plates.”
With that, he left and she heard him rummaging in the kitchen. A few minutes later, both of them were sat next to each other on her sofa and had started with their food. Julia was unusually quiet, she was well aware of that, but with the raging war of thoughts of work, her pregnancy and when and how to tell David going on, she honestly didn't know what to say. So she stuck to her food, hoping dinner would be enough of an excuse not to talk. All too soon she was brought back from her reverie with a question she hadn't anticipated.
“Since when do you drink fennel tea?”, David looked curiously between her and the half-empty mug on the table. “Is everything alright?” he continued, finally showing the concern he had been feeling ever since PC Knowles had brought it up.
“I don´t. I had an upset stomach earlier, that´s all,” she replied, avoiding any details of how the upset stomach came to be.
“That is really all? Kim said she heard you throw up earlier. Are you sure there isn't more,” he queried, finally being able to ask the one question that had been a burning issue to him.
“Yes, that is all”, she replied after a pause, her voice having become a trace colder than before, “Please David, let's not argue about this tonight”, she added when she felt David's objection hanging in the air. She knew that the issue was hovering over them like a dark cloud and she couldn't put it off for too much longer. Just tonight she didn't have the strength to open up about it. She just wanted to stay in the bubble of the two of them being together without any issues or life-changing decisions ahead of them. Still, she felt David stiffen. She glanced at him, finally discarding the final piece of food on her plate. His face had lost its softness. Instead, it had been replaced by frustration and a hint of anger. He took their plates and got up rather abruptly to dispose of the bits that had remained on them. She looked after him, trying to ignore the sickening feeling of guilt building inside her. The longer she waited, the heavier she felt the weight on her shoulders got. For now, at least, she would have to live with it. Until she had a plan, the right words and the courage. She needed courage, not just to say the words out loud, let the finality of them overpower her, him, their relationship and their future. She also needed courage because she didn't know how he would react. He was a great and very loving father to Ella and Charlie, and deep down she knew he would love this little one just as much, but the paranoid and anxious side of her still had the greater power and dreaded his reaction. She willed herself to avert her gaze and it fell on the pile of documents he had put together next to her. On top of the emotional baggage and the physical strain that came with being pregnant, was all the ruthless work, all those hours of extracurricular activities nobody saw, but everyone automatically expected. Julia sighed and took her notes for tomorrow's interview with Andrew Marr. Her thoughts didn't stay on the words in front of her though but went back to David in the kitchen. She could only hope he would let go of his inquiries for now.
Absent-mindedly she ran a hand through her hair when she heard a clinking noise on the table and felt his weight on the couch next to her. She looked for the source of the sound and saw that he had made her another cup of tea, while he had brought himself a beer.
“I am sorry... are we alright?” she hesitated gently. His demeanour hadn't changed all that much since he had left for the kitchen, but the fennel tea seemed like a peace offering, for now, an acceptance of her wishes.
“Aye,” came his reply. It didn't sound too convincing, but it had to be good enough for tonight. Julia had to fight her emotions down and swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. She leaned against him, with her notes in her lap and mug in her hand. She felt him relax ever so slightly, put a kiss on his shoulder and returned back to her notes. They were fine for now, even though the tension still hadn't left the room.
The next morning didn't feel much different than the previous one. On top of her insomnia and her worries had come the tiff with David. Both were determined to make everything seem as normal as possible, but last night's tension was still there, like an undercurrent right beneath the surface. He had left for work earlier than her, as usual. She had messaged her assistant to get her ginger ale so she could fight the queasiness she felt building up again. And today was not a day to be running to the loo or to feel like gagging for most of the day. Today of all days had to be perfect. Just the thought if anyone in the television studio caught wind of it, made her even more sick to the stomach than she already felt. Something that might set everyone on the wrong track, was the fact that the combination of her emotional upheaval and the tension between her and David made her very moody today. People would think her a heartless, petulant bitch and as long as they thought that, they wouldn't care for much more.
No sooner had she arrived at work and tried the ginger ale her assistant had given her, it proved to have the complete opposite effect of what she had hoped for. She hadn't even reached her office yet when she told David, she needed to use the bathroom. For a fleeting second, she could see the concern in his eyes, she had vehemently ignored last night before he went to check the closest bathroom and allowed her inside. She inwardly cursed anyone who had suggested this to be the best remedy against morning sickness, while she heaved this morning's toast into the toilet. The smell, the hot flashes and the fact that she again hadn't slept properly and so hadn't given her body the rest it needed, made her feel dizzy. She closed her eyes momentarily and tried to let the faintness pass her by. It had probably only been a few minutes but it felt like an eternity to Julia when she finally emerged from the cubicle and washed her mouth. She didn't even want to see her gaunt expression in the mirror. There was no way around it, she needed to call her gynaecologist and get another appointment. She was the only one whose opinion she could trust. She should have done this from the start, Julia thought grumpily. When she came out of the loo, at last, she hoped that this would be the only time today she would have to throw up. There would be a way to work with the constant feeling of nausea if she could only be sure it would be the only thing giving her a hard time.
A couple of hours later proved that her wishes seemed to have been granted. Her TV interview had gone without a hitch, she had managed to deal with the influx of visitors that had come to her and even the appointment with Dr Wilson was set for later this week. She also had dealt with Rob without having the overwhelming feeling of gagging or needing the loo. A reason for that might have been the increasing amount of tea she had consumed. Even before she had learned she was pregnant, she had been constantly feeling parched. Now with her morning sickness and the abysmal disaster with the ginger ale, she had decided to switch to tea. This seemed to have done the trick for now.
There appeared to be a lull in work, which gave her time to think of her visit to the gynaecologist. She had a rough idea of what to expect. Dr Wilson had informed her that among other things they would be conducting her first ultrasound. Julia didn't know whether to laugh or to cry at this prospect. As much as she thought she might be able to mentally prepare herself for that day, she knew she would probably fail miserably the second she was lying there seeing her child for the first time. That lead her to another thought. She needed to tell David. That made her more nervous than anything had ever managed to make her feel that way in the first place. Her stomach began fluttering at the very idea and she looked at him through her glass wall. His look wasn't directed at her, but was going around the room and eventually landed on her. She gave him the indication of a smile, though she wasn't sure she had managed to make it look like one. It felt more like a grimace than an actual smile. She looked back down on her work at hand and felt her hands trembling slightly. She grabbed a pen, ignoring the slight tremor and began to write. She would have to tell him tonight. One thing she couldn't do, however, was to overthink the whole situation. That was at least what she told herself. But once again her look wandered to David. In only a few hours she would have to face him. More time than once had she imagined how he might react. Would he be elated? Probably. Would he stay on as her PPO? Realistically, it made no sense. Especially, if it came out. She couldn't hide her pregnancy forever. As soon as the news was out or she began showing, the inevitable question would be who fathered the child. If he still was her PPO at that point and it came out, the scandal would be massive. The mere thought of it made her blood run cold. Their future, his family, not to mention her political career and his job might be in jeopardy. But if he immediately resigned after she told him, and someone got wind of her condition, wouldn't that be just as dangerous? It made no sense to her that he could remain her PPO for long, but part of her still hoped, he could stay on just a little longer. She just felt safer when he was around. Now that she was feeling increasingly emotional and vulnerable, he was her pillar of security and strength. And all of that would be put out in the open and would have to be discussed, as soon as she had told him.
“Miss Montague, the meeting with Anne Sampson and the Security Service will begin shortly,” Mike Travis reminded her, after having knocked on her door, which had put a stop to those thoughts for the moment.
“Of course, thank you. I will be right there,” she replied, putting back on her best performance of the Julia Montague the public knew and followed him, fighting a wave of dizziness. She had made the mistake of getting up too quickly.
Yet another seemingly endless, mind-numbing conference later she was finally able to call it a day. She looked at David on her way to the elevators and gave a quick nod to indicate she was ready to leave and heard him say something unintelligible into his radio as she passed him.
“Can you stay a little longer later?” she muttered, trying to keep the outward appearance of the RH Julia Montague MP. She knew he would go and see his children tonight, so the timing was far from perfect.
“Aye, I can be. Why?” he answered her after a little pause, eyes fixed on the elevator door ahead of them, which had just opened.
“I need to talk to you,” she murmured and stepped into the elevator. He looked at her curiously. She, on the other hand, kept her gaze ahead of her, not trying to give away any of the anxiety and inner turmoil she was experiencing.
On her way home she didn't even bother to do any work. There was no way she would be able to focus on anything other than the news she was about to tell him. Instead, she was fidgeting with her hands in her lap, alternating her gaze between the back of David's head and the city flashing by through the window. It seemed to her as if she had only just got into the car when she felt it slow down and saw they had arrived at her flat already. She wasn't ready. As soon as David had got out of the car, Julia took a deep breath, trying to exhale all the anxiety she was holding. The next minutes happened in a blur. They had both become such a symbiosis at work that there was hardly any need for them to talk.
“Everything's clear, ma'am,” he finally announced, still in a very professional manner before he turned around and looked at her.
“Thank you, sergeant,” Julia smiled and she stepped into her flat, dropped her suitcase on the nearby table and shrugged off her coat. She knew it was ridiculous but she still avoided his gaze. She had asked him to stay and there he was, waiting for her to make the first step. At last, she didn't find any more excuses to not turn around and face him. She must look like a deer in headlights, she contemplated while analysing David's body language and facial expression. He wouldn't be the one to talk first, she was well aware. It was her after all, who had been the source for all the tension they had been under all day. Finally, Julia mustered all the Julia Montague determination and fortitude, stepped forward and took his hand. She held onto it as she wanted to hold him from running away from her or more precisely, from her running away from what she was about to do. She didn't immediately look into his eyes but averted her gaze and looked at their entwined hands. Julia felt his questioning look burning her. She took a breath and began “I – umm...,” but stopped and let out a breath. She still looked at their hands and closed her eyes for a second. Upon opening them again she glanced at his face. He might be difficult to read for others but she knew that he was waiting for her to continue, but he still didn't want to push her.
“I am sorry, I cut you off last night. You were right, there is a reason why I am not feeling all too well these days, which is also why PC Knowles overheard me vomiting yesterday. I -,” again Julia stopped, unsure of how to continue. She honestly felt like a fish out of water. Political debates and calculated replies were her forte. Emotionally charged talks, not so much. She squeezed his hand and tried again.
“What I mean to say is...David, I am pregnant.” It was out and her anxiety had hit a new level. For a second, she feared he might just walk away. His face had become unreadable. Even for her. She thought she could definitely see shock behind that stoic facade of his. Maybe incredulousness even. But before she could continue deciphering his facial expression, he had pulled her into a hug that told her everything she needed to know.
“You had me so worried...This is fantastic news, Julia,” she heard him mumble against her neck in his thick Scottish accent, clearly fighting his tears. She gave up her fight with her emotions, at last, held onto him as tightly as if her life depended on it and started crying into his neck. Relief washing over her.
Chapter 5: Ultrasound
"The time until her appointment on Friday was whirlwind of stress, work and anxiety. Her anxiety about telling David and her paranoia about his reaction had been replaced by her anxiety about the appointment on Friday. No matter how much she tried to prepare herself for that day and actually take time to read up on what her doctor would test and might do."
Thank you again so much for the wonderful feedback. I am sorry, it took so long with this chapter. I was struggling with it. But I do hope it turned out just fine.
Note: In my mind's eye Julia's gynaecologist looks like Jemma Redgrave. I always have her in mind for that character.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The time until her appointment on Friday was a whirlwind of stress, work and anxiety. Her anxiety about telling David and her paranoia about his reaction had been replaced by her anxiety about the appointment on Friday. No matter how much she tried to prepare herself for that day and actually take time to read up on what her doctor would test and might do. Nothing could calm her nerves. In fact, the more she read, the more anxious she grew. By Friday she had banned herself from looking up the topic any further. Her morning sickness still hadn't shown any kind of mercy. So, when Julia sat in the car on Friday morning, she was simply glad that the wait was finally over. Not even her morning sickness couldn't hold a candle to the anxiety she was experiencing.
David in the front seat seemed even more determined on staring at the road ahead than usual. From time to time they had some kind of small talk going on or at least they had a less inhibited atmosphere. At the moment, however, the tension in the car could be cut with a butter knife. Julia kept alternating her look between the back of David's seat and the front mirror. Whenever their glances met, they both averted their gaze. She feared she might give away too much with just one prolonged gaze, and she suspected David was just as nervous. It was ridiculous since her driver clearly had better things to do than analyse her non-verbal communication – or lack thereof – with the PPO in front. Both of them fell back into their silent routine. Just like last time, Julia had insisted on having as little protection and fuss as possible. David's boss and the secret service would be appalled at the idea of her only using her one PPO and the one ministerial car with no further backup. Her nerves simply wouldn't be able to handle all of the exposure she felt she would have to endure otherwise. Plus, this was quite a personal matter. Having strangers know where you go at all times, was something she simply wasn't comfortable with, even if they didn't know her reasons. Her morning sickness was there and had turned into carsickness. But at least it wasn't quite that bad and she could keep up her faked stoicism.
“Ma'am, we're here” David suddenly seemed to say and broke the silence. Julia had been miles away. Only now their looks met properly for the first time. Even if it was just for a fleeting moment before he got out of the car, she saw the same kind of nervousness and tension, but she also saw a trace of anticipation in his eyes that she felt, too. Well, she wasn't sure if she anticipated what was to come, she didn't know what to expect.
If Julia had hoped that the way up to her doctor's office would help her calm her nerves or help her prepare of what was to come, she was sadly mistaken. Both she and David were oozing with nervous energy. Both stared at the metal doors of the lift. She hadn't explicitly told him that she wanted him in there, and not have him wait outside. For her, it had always been obvious. Now, however, she wasn't so sure if they were on the same page on this matter.
“I want you in to come in the doctor's office with me. I hope you know that” she informed him, giving him a sideways glance as the metal doors opened. David looked at her, his face almost unreadable. Almost. His eyes were always a giveaway for her. Those didn't just show relief but gratitude. So she had been right. Stepping out the lift and preventing it from engulfing them once again, she took his hand in hers, squeezed it and smiled. It was more to reassure him than her, but holding his hand gave her an odd sense of calmness and security. Everything was going to be okay, she thought to herself, repeating the mantra for the umpteenth time today. She didn't want to let go of his hand. But coming inside her doctor's office holding hands with her PPO, doctor-patient confidentiality or not was rather inappropriate. Holding on to it for just a second longer, she felt him squeeze her hand. She looked up from their entwined hands and saw him giving her the hint of a smile while encouraging her with a final nod.
“Are you ready, Julia?” he then asked. It was the first time he had called her by her first name while he was still on duty. The sound of her name rolling off his tongue almost gave her the feeling as if he had engulfed her with a blanket. She knew they were both in for it. Things would have to change with his job, but it was still special to her, hearing her name, especially when he was actually still on duty and protocol forbid him to call her anything but formal forms of address.
“Yes. I am just nervous, I suppose” she mumbled in a low voice as if to prevent anyone else from overhearing her, although they were on their own.
“Aye, me too. But I'm sure everything's going to be alright” David reassured her. With that, he gave her a nudge and Julia started moving towards the door. Her heart was almost pounding out of her chest. She didn't know how many times that thought actually ran through her mind, but she was so glad for her political training and her ability to seem detached of any kinds of emotions when inside there was a whirlwind of emotions, the size of a hurricane.
There were a few reasons why she envied the every-woman who was pregnant and could just go and see her doctor without being forced to make a secret out of it, but staying in the waiting room wasn't one of them. The perks of being a person in a high-level position were that she immediately proceeded to Dr Wilson's office. David behind her seemed a little unsure of his role. Theoretically, he was on duty as her PPO. That meant that he had to stay professional, stay outside, observe the surroundings and do his job and protect his principal. He could not do that if he were in the doctor's office himself. There was too much at risk. If any of his superiors found out, it wouldn't just be him in trouble and his job on the line. There would be a very real possibility that their hidden relationship could and would be exposed. On the other hand, this was one of the best-rated gynaecologists in the whole of Britain. One of their main credos was their confidentiality to their patients. That didn't just include the doctor herself, but the entire rest of the staff. On top of that was the simple fact that it was his child they were talking about and not even wild horses could stop him from going in there to see him or her for the first time. Caught between those two opposing sides in his head, he lingered at the open door for a moment. He neither moved forward nor did he take his place to assess the environment again. Julia, on the other hand, had already walked inside and now shook her doctor's hand.
Like every time. Julia found her doctor to be quite a striking woman. She was tall, with beige blonde hair. Her looks suggested that she must have been quite a beautiful woman in her day. Julia was sure, she still could turn heads and wrap people around her finger if she wanted to. Besides the clarity of her mind and her firmness, she had a soft voice, but one that demanded authority. If she was in the room, you knew she was the boss, and Julia respected that. Still, she was a woman most people might not wish to cross. For once Julia wouldn't let Dr Wilson's quiet authoritative nature assume control when she immediately went to close the door. Instead, Julia stopped her.
“No. I want him in here with me” she stated determinedly. In the gynaecologist's eyes this apparently didn't just seem to be outside the norm, but also bordered a breach of her patient's privacy, as she gave Julia a rather demoralized look.
“But Ma'am, I must advise you, this is a highly unusual procedure” she then remarked and looked back from David to the Home Secretary standing next to her.
“No, it is not. He is the father and I want him here with me” Julia reprimanded curtly and then proceeded to avert her gaze from her doctor to David as if to encourage him to move inside. If the gynaecologist was astonished or even shocked at this revelation, she neither checked or cared for. David slid inside and took his stand at the door as if he took on his duties inside as well. Since Dr Wilson hadn't offered him to sit or do anything else, his soldier and professional training kicked in and he decided to wait, albeit a little awkwardly.
“Please, take a seat” Dr Wilson offered to the both of them at last. She seemed to have composed herself again since she didn't let on any befuddlement and was the professional woman, Julia appreciated. Once the parents-to-be had taken a seat, she continued.
“Before we advance, I would like to talk you through today's agenda, if you will. This is especially important for first-time parents to relieve you of any nervousness or anxiety you might have.”
“It's my first child, he has two children already” Julia corrected her causing her doctor to pause momentarily.
“Well, in that case, you know what will happen during this appointment and you can actively support the Home Secretary” Dr Wilson commented and looked at David, giving him the trace of a smile.
“Aye,” he simply replied and waited for the woman sitting in front of them to continue. His taciturnity almost made Julia smile. She was used to this by now, she didn't need him to talk in order to understand him. Besides he had learned to talk openly around her. But that was around her, and Dr Wilson was a stranger. They usually needed some warming-up to his reticence.
The doctor didn't let herself be dissuaded by this and went on to inform them about how she usually needed to do a physical exam and a blood test but why this wasn't necessary in her case and that they would conduct the first ultrasound today. She also explained that they would be able to hear a heartbeat since she was already in week nine of her pregnancy. Then she gave her some remedies on how to keep the morning sickness at bay. As much as Julia usually appreciated her clarity, her doctor's attempt of taking away her anxiety had the opposite effect.
She didn't want her to keep on talking, but to finally get going. She had been grateful for the advice on how to deal with her morning sickness, but her anxiety prevented anything further to go in. Eventually, her mind shut off completely. David looked at her with a side-way glance and saw how tense Julia sat in her chair, her hands balled in her lap to a degree that he could see her knuckles had whitened. Even if he had gone through this twice already, it didn't make him any less nervous. This was the first child with Julia and the new life they had created gave him every reason to be just as anxious, he thought. He did, however, use his training to stay calm and centred, to be the source of tranquillity for the nervous wreck sitting next to him.
When they had finally moved on, much to Julia's relief, and Julia finally lay on the doctor's couch with her stomach exposed, her heart thudded so hard against her chest, she feared it might jump out of her chest altogether. She didn't feel like she was showing just yet. She always had a bit of a pooch, this one might have been a bit bigger. But she couldn't say for certain. When David took her hand, she held onto it so tightly, she feared she might cut off his bloodstream.
“The gel for the transducer will be cold, it might startle you. However, there is nothing to worry about. But after that, we shall have a clear view of your child pretty quickly.” Doctor Wilson explained and put some gel on Julia's abdomen. Mrs Wilson had not been kidding when she had said that. It felt as if someone had splashed ice water on her, she couldn't help but flinch and mutter an audible “shit, that's cold”.
To her, it seemed like an eternity until the screen seemed to show something, even if all she could see were different shades of black and grey. She wasn't sure any more who needed more emotional support by holding the other person's hand, she or David. As hard as Julia tried to see something on the ultrasound though, she just couldn't make out anything other than a black and white something. Dr Wilson moved the transducer further down her belly. Then she heard it before she could see anything – a heartbeat. She was transfixed to the screen now, a tear running down her face and into her hair. But she didn't care. David seemed to be frozen in his seat next to her, too.
“Now, that's a nice strong heartbeat. The heartbeat is over 140, which is perfectly normal. Just your child doesn't seem to want and show itself just yet” Doctor Wilson continued to look at the screen and moved the transducer further to the side.
Finally, she nodded “There is the little bud.” At that both stared at the woman How could she know his name? Julia gaped at her. For a second she thought her heart had stopped beating. David's hand had almost painfully grabbed hers. Doctor Wilson, however, didn't seem to have noticed. She was still focused on the screen, now having found an even better angle to get a clearer view of the child at last.
“Can you see it?” she then asked and looked them. Her gynaecologist hadn't actually talked about David at all. A wash of relief poured through her. She sighed, then looked back at the screen, harrumphed as an attempt to try and get the emotions at least somewhat under control.
“Yes.” Her voice sounded oddly strange to her ears. She felt captivated by the screen and almost had to tear herself away from it to look at David, who was still holding her hand but hadn't said anything so far. By looking up at him though, she saw that his face still had the same stoicism about it, as it usually had when he was at work. But taking a closer look, she could clearly see tears in his eyes. She gently squeezed his hand to get his attention.
“David?” she asked tentatively, momentarily having forgotten that there was someone else in the room with them. Only then did he look down at her, not even trying to hide his feelings from her. The baby on the screen, the tears in his eyes and her hormones overwhelmed her. She couldn't hold her emotions at bay any more. More tears began running down her temples and she smiled at him. A rare and genuine smile, one only he ever got to see. At that moment she didn't care if the whole world saw her crying with happiness, she certainly didn't mind her gynaecologist seeing her like that. She was the last thing on Julia's mind in any case. David was just as overcome with emotions and did something that even surprised her. He leaned down towards her and gave her the most loving and tender kiss. At that, she cradled his face with her still free hand. Every fibre of her existence wanted to show him how much she loved him when she reciprocated the kiss.
All too soon they were brought back to reality by the blonde woman sitting at the screen who cleared her throat and continued as if nothing had happened. “At the moment your child has the size of a cherry. It will grow immensely week by week now, which is why it is essential for you to come in regularly. Only then we can check if the baby is okay. Would you like a sonogram of the ultrasound?”
“Aye, that would be nice, Ma'am” David managed to reply before Julia had the chance to. She was grateful as she was desperately trying to compose herself again and could not find the words without exposing herself even further than she already had. While she wiped off the remaining gel, she heard him ask “May I ask, Ma'am, when is the baby due?” At that, Julia looked up. There had been so many thoughts bouncing back and forth in her mind, and this one important question had completely escaped her.
“Well, Miss Montague is nine weeks in, which means that the baby will be due on 16th of September” the doctor answered. That information had drained Julia's mind of any other information it may have had in store. She thanked the woman and went outside to the front desk to schedule the next appointment, while David went outside already to prepare the driver for her imminent arrival. All of this happened in a blur. The only thing she could think of was the of 16/9.
That date made it all very real and that scared her. She wasn't sure if she was ready to be a mother. She had already wondered if she would actually be a good mother after all. One thing she did know was that she didn't want to be the same kind of mother, her mother had been to her. She would not want to let her child spend half of their life shipped away at some first-rate boarding school. Her relationship with mother had never been the most loving one, and after their parents had gotten a divorce, it had been nearly unbearable. The urge to protect the cherry-sized life growing inside of her was too big, to repeat the same mistakes. One thing her parents never had to face though, was the public eye and the press. She would have to think of a way to bring this child into this world without the media harassing him or her for being the product of a relationship of her with her married bodyguard. The idea of the country going after them with pitchforks made her blood boil.
Half an hour and a sonogram later, Julia sat in the back seat of her car again, not ready at all for another session at the Houses of Parliament. Why she had thought it a good idea to squeeze in the appointment just before she had to go back to work, was beyond her now. She had given up trying to do work in the car. The idea of reading documents or checking her phone alone made her sick to the stomach. So, she tried and looked out of her window and kept her focus on London passing by, whilst breathing evenly and trying not to become too carsick. David had resumed his position of PPO and seemed to be even more focused on keeping the professional facade up. Again, neither of them spoke. A talk was inevitable. At the end of the day, they would have to. It was still early on, but the sooner they had a plan, the better they could avert a possible scandal and both of them risking their careers and save their child a lot of trouble.
Once they arrived at the Parliament, Julia had more or less successfully tried to push aside the past hour in favour of work and the debate ahead. She knew it was crucial that nothing seemed out of order. If even one person noticed something was different, the plan she had constructed might crumble and fall and she would have to face the worst-case scenario. Little did she know that her ex-husband already kept an eagle eye on her.
While she made her way inside the grand building, David led her towards the chambers, having his hand on the small of her back until she was securely inside with enough police officers around. He was well aware that this was indeed not standard procedure, to touch the principal unless it was deemed absolutely necessary. But his desire to protect her and the child was simply too strong. Still, he had tried to make it look as professional as possible, letting her go the second he felt it might be too much. Judging her lack of a reaction, showed him that she actually didn't mind.
Now that she was inside and had taken her place next to Mike Travis, he took his position by the door next to PC Knowles and did his routine check of the room and its people in it. His look fell on Roger Penhaligon. When David only saw the politician, he wished he could just meet him in a dodgy corner at night and give him a good punch. He tried to keep his facial features as neutral as it was humanly possible, having the idiot stare at him. But he couldn't help, but notice that Roger's face seemed even more devious than usual. Eventually, Julia's ex turned away from him and took his own seat. David meanwhile, didn't think too much about the other man's reaction. He had always been a twat.
Almost two hours in with no prospect of a recess any time soon, Julia felt a new wave of nausea. She could hardly take out the crackers, David had gotten for her, get a cup of tea or use any of the remedies Dr Wilson had told her about, she thought. Instead, she tried to focus on her breathing, to help her relax her body a bit. This was a foredoomed and nearly impossible task, being surrounded by other MPs and installed cameras. The more she tried to calm her body, the less it seemed to have any effect. She knew she had to get out and excuse herself, even if it was frowned upon. She usually restrained from using the bathroom while she was in a sitting. Under different circumstances, she knew she had perfected this skill. But this was not one of the usual situations. So, she quietly excused herself and tried to weave herself out of the row she was sitting in, without bumping into any of the MPs. It was absurd, but she felt as if everyone in the room was staring at her. The reality was that they were all shouting and staring at the speaker in front of them at the moment. When she had finally managed to reach the exit, she made eye contact with Kim. If Kim was around, she was the one who had to accompany her to the loo. PC Knowles quietly opened the door to leave her out of the room and then proceeded to quietly follow her.
Unbeknownst to Julia, not everyone had kept minding their own business. Roger had observed her a rather hasty exit. He knew his ex-wife well enough to know that she was paler than usual and that this was highly unusual behaviour. Discreetly, he took out his phone and texted Mike who still owed him a favour. If there was anything going on, he would be the one to find out, he would be the one to spy on his ex-wife for him. Like almost everyone he knew, Mike would do anything to get a slice of the cake and not to be on bad terms with him. The chances that this was simply a bug she had caught could be one reason for her strange behaviour. But knowing her, she would stick out a sitting like this even if she ran a fever and had pneumonia. There had to be more to it. The more sordid her little secret was, the better leverage it was for him.
A few days later, Julia was back at her office, as usual, chairing meetings and waving through visitors, when she heard a knock at the door. She had been sitting at her desk, absorbed in a speech, she was about to deliver later that day when she looked up to see who the intruder was. Her assistant knew that she was not to be disturbed for the next hour, nor were there any more visits scheduled. On top of that, she was very irritable today and generally in a bad mood, which might be down to her pregnancy and not just her assistant's incompetence to do what she was told and fulfil a simple task successfully. The visitor who had knocked didn't bother to wait for her response but had already stepped inside.
“What do you want, Roger?” she greeted him coolly. Whatever the reason for him was to grace her with his presence, it couldn't be pleasant. She could count the number of occasions, he had been here. It had been exactly once. It had been shortly after her becoming Home Secretary. Back then he had told her he would do anything to make her life at her new job as difficult as possible. Threats like this could only be delivered in person. He always enjoyed the faces of his opponents once he knew he had them. She had been married to him long enough to know all about his malicious tactics. So, the fact that he was now standing in front of her desk, with his back to the glass wall could not be a good sign. Before she could think of possible reasons why she was in one room with him, he gave her a derisive smile, obviously enjoying having the upper hand for once.
“I hear congratulations are in order” he finally remarked with a sneer and put a pair of baby shoes on her desk.
I honestly hope this chapter wasn't too much or too sweet. I tried to keep the balance and stay in character.
Chapter 6: Trouble
There is trouble in paradise waiting for David and Julia. What does Roger really know about Julia's pregnancy? Will they get passed it? It´s my attempt on trying to solve some loose ends.
I am so sorry it took so long to update this. My time these days is running short and I want to do a good job at it. So things might take a little longer than usual.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
For a second, Julia was stunned. She stared at the tiny baby shoes on her desk and then looked back up at Roger whose conceitedness was oozing out of every pore of his body. He obviously felt as if he had finally caught the big fat fly in his net. Now he enjoyed his victory and the apparent control he had over her. If he thought, he had won, however, he was sadly mistaken and didn't know her at all. Having spent enough time with this man, gave her the advantage that she knew exactly what his tactics were. Those were always the same: dig up dirt on someone he wanted out of the way, get as much leverage on them as possible as to pressure them into doing what he wanted and ultimately forcing them on his team. What she had to do, was to shoot holes into his fort.
“What on earth are you on about?” she snapped at him, gracing him with such a cold and withering look, she saw his stance wavering. Even if it was just in his eyes. Just when he was about to open his mouth again to give her a retort, she talked over him, completely ignoring social etiquette of letting the other person finish speaking. For Roger, she had her own set of rules anyway.
“Isn't it funny, how you always seem to come up with some cock-and-bull story, about someone who becomes too powerful or too big for you? I suggest you turn around, take these with you. Go back to the rat hole you came from.”
She had talked herself into a state of fury and hence had managed to mask her consternation that the one person who could and would make her life a living hell if he knew that it was true. How he did come to this piece of information she wasn't sure. Someone must have tipped him off. But she had been as discreet as it was humanly possible. Her gynaecologist's office had an obligation to confidentiality. There were no grounds other than an assumption on his side. That she could work with.
“A little bird told me you are with child and I wanted to be the first one to congratulate you”, he repeated unwavering, ignoring her query. Julia just stared at him dumbfounded. How could he be so persistent? How could he know? She had never mentioned anything at work, just in case, her office was bugged. The utter confusion on her face began to unsettle him ever so slightly. He still remained the arrogant prick he was, but she could tell by his body language that her plan to shoot holes in his fort began to show its effect.
“I am not deaf. Where on earth did you get that ridiculous idea?” She knew he would never tell her his true source, but if he had real proof, he would have to tell her now or she could sue him.
“Well, sources tell me, you've seen your doctor more often lately and your urgent exits recently look an awful lot like morning sickness to me. And if you put the pieces together, there is only one solution. You are pregnant. Who would actually knock you up is beyond me, but that'll be easy to find out. In other words, you're done. A conservative MP, unmarried with child and possibly having an affair... oh I think this would be too much the people and the Parliament.”, he mocked her and tutted condescendingly, treating her like a little child.
This revelation could only make her laugh. If that was the only lead he had, there wasn't just a weight off her mind. It would also be something she would have fun end him with. It was a cold and hard laugh though. The kind that made the opponent even more insecure.
“Oh god, you are amazing. For one, I could sue you for obtaining information illegally. Also, you should definitely stop thinking. Your mind only revolves about two things: your cock and your career. I won't even grace you with an answer. I will tell you one thing, however, to make one thing quite clear: I will find out who your source was and I will destroy you both. I can the get the both of you for slandering and that's only the beginning. You know that I have enough on you to blow your career to kingdom come. So, I suggest you leave right this instant or I will call security”, she was practically seething now. Her voice had taken a tone that was so cold and harsh. She was speaking very slowly now, to make him understand while leaning across her desk. The only option her ex-husband had was to withdraw. She stared at him with a dangerous glint in her eye, without breaking eye contact once. For a moment he accepted the challenge and stared back, just as viciously, but eventually, he averted her eyes. That was the moment she knew she had won. At least for the time being. There always was a comeback with him.
“That wasn't the last you've seen of me”, he growled and turned around to leave at last. “Take those with you, will you?” she demanded, pointing at the baby shoes that were still sitting on her desk. He gave her a last despicable glare and snatched them off her desk and stalked out of her office. Julia glowered after him until he was gone, not even registering David glancing in her direction after Roger had passed him.
Only when the Chief Whip was out of sight, did Julia let out the breath she was holding. The tension that had dominated her mind and body now flowed out of her like warm water but was almost instantly replaced by an even uglier feeling. Not relief washed over her. Quite on the contrary. Instead of tension that had been raging through her body just a moment before, her chest began to constrict and she began to have difficulty breathing. Despite the fact that she never had had a panic attack in her life, she knew exactly what this was one and she couldn't fight it in a glass cage. She got up and made a beeline towards the bathroom, her heart almost beating out of her chest. Everything was in slow motion, with people around her passing by in a blur. The way to the loo seemed almost endless. She didn't know if people noticed, she hoped they didn't. She tried to pull herself together as much as she could. She tried to keep a steady pace and tried not to run to reach her destination at last. Whether David noticed, she wasn's sure either. In case he did, she didn't know. It felt to her as if she was underwater. She tried to steady her breathing without looking like a fish out of water. Ultimately, she reached the door to the loo and pushed passed it, only to locked herself in a cubicle. She gasped while leaning over the toilet pan. She didn't know if she needed to throw up or if she was merely gasping for air. Roger had definitely not given up and the idea of him releasing the news. If he really tipped off someone could have disastrous effects on both her life with David and her career. It didn't even matter if the idea with her pregnancy was true or just a rumour. The public eye would put her and her private life on high scrutiny. Even though she might have to fend him off, for now, she knew he had meant it. That also meant that David's days as her PPO were numbered. Everything came crashing down, she felt.
Now the hormones were having a field day with her. Finally, she was heaving the bit that was left in her stomach down the toilet, while she tried to ward off the tears that were threatening to roll down her cheeks. There was a knock in the distance. She heard it but didn't register its meaning. She still tried to get control over her own breathing, nothing else was important at the moment. Getting back the control over her own body. Just then she felt a warm hand on her back, slowly running up and down, helping her calm down. She didn't even need to check to know it was David. How he got in the cubicle was beyond her, but she didn't really care. She only slowly began to catch the meaning of his words, but the soothing patterns he rubbed on her back, helped her to finally regain her control and emerge from her underwater jail she seemed to have been in.
“Julia?” he barely whispered, not really accustomed to using her name in a professional setting. It had the hoped effect though. She finally seemed to win the fight against her panic attack. He had fended off enough of these attacks to recognize the signs from a mile away. When she had walked past him, almost in a trance, he knew something was off. He had started to worry the minute he saw Roger enter her office. Nobody else had looked at her twice, noticed that she was different, even if she had done an outstanding job, concealing it. Then he had heard her wretching and used his MasterCard to open the door. It was an old trick and he had hoped it would work without causing too much noise and it did. The card was ruined now, but that was the least of his problems when he saw Julia on the floor gasping for air.
“What's wrong?” he eventually asked when she had somewhat composed herself and he had helped her up. She was now standing in front to the basin, holding onto the counter, not wanting to reveal that her hands were still shaking.
“Roger knows”, she simply disclosed. Her body still felt foreign to her but she had regained enough composure over it that she was able to check herself in the mirror to see if she looked normal.
“Knows what?” he questioned not being able to hide his worry out of his voice completely. It could mean anything, he told himself. He still had his hand on the small of her back, momentarily careless. There could be someone coming in any given moment. Reluctantly he removed his hand, but still stood too close to her for a PPO.
“He suspects I'm pregnant”, she mumbled not being able to meet his eye. “I talked him out of it for the time being, but I don't think he was fully convinced.” she rambled on, finally finding her way back to her old self. “What? But how?” David looked at her flabberghasted, even he couldn't hide his shock behind his usually stoic face. His mind began to reel.
“Later,” she said and with a squeeze of his hand, she walked past him, albeit not without checking herself in the mirror one last time. Meanwhile, David tried his best to school his features and leave the bathroom as professionally and discreetly as he could muster. For the rest of the day, his mind was preoccupied and was having a hard time putting the focus on the task at hand.
Julia's mind, too, kept going back to the scene with Roger and kept thinking if there was something she could have done better or differently. But every time she thought about it, she came up with nothing but what she had done. Her work ultimately gave her mind a break. For a few hours, she was forced to focus on her speech and all the other issues had to wait.
Later that night, after she had explained to David what had transpired between her and Roger. She could somewhat put his mind at ease and finally had her legs propped on David's lap. He had begun massaging her feet, which felt absolutely heavenly to Julia. It was the kind of comfort, she never had before, the care she never knew she wanted, but now definitely knew she needed. The morning sickness still hadn't abated. Despite the fact that she had an idea now, how to fight it, rest and just being able to sit comfortably while someone else took care of her, was exactly what would end a terrible day on a sweet note. Given, she was still working, reading and researching, ready to snatch the keys for no. 10, but with David tending to her, it felt less stressful and exhausting. Especially because he kept on fussing about her, making sure she was fine. He had also taken on researching all kinds of things about their baby.
“You are in week 10 soon. That means that the baby's arm joints are growing and bones are forming. It also says that its vital organs are fully developed and start to function now. Bloody hell, even its fingernails and hair begin to grow. It is swallowing and kicking too, but since it's only the size of a strawberry, you can't feel it yet”, the father-to-be imparted. Julia looked up from her papers and smiled at him.
In fact, she did know all of this already, she had done her own research. Him being so emotional and enthusiastic, was something so endearing that she thought she might fall even more in love with him than she already was. It was a side of him, she knew he had, but he had very rarely shown until now. Only when he talked about his kids, he had this gleam in his eye. He always was so proud whenever he talked about them. There was no doubt that their little one would have a brilliant and loving father. Not that her father hadn't been loving. She had loved him. But it had always been a love that felt rather like one she had to earn. He had been a strict and demanding man. As a judge and it had been a goal early on to make him proud, to follow his footsteps, so that she could be more like him and make him proud. This little bundle, however, wouldn't need to worry about making their father proud so that he loved them. He would love them no matter what. She had been so lost in thought, that she hadn't noticed how David looked at her somewhat amused.
“What?” She merely shook her head and leaned forward for a tender kiss.
“Nothing, I just love you. That's all.”
“Well, I am glad. I love you, too”, he retorted and suddenly pulled her at her ankles towards him, which evoked a squeal of surprise from Julia who had dropped her work on the floor. He was hovering over her and now deepened their kiss. Her feeble protest died the second he sucked at her bottom lip and she mewled while she ran her fingers through his hair and pulled him even closer to her. His hands had found their way underneath her shirt at last and were now tugging impatiently at the offending item. All he wanted was to feel her skin on his and the shirt was definitely in the way.
“I am so glad we don't have to worry about protection” he joked when he managed to pull the shirt over her head at last and hungrily searched for her mouth again. “Idiot”, he heard her mumble before he nibbled on her earlobe and got the effect he wanted. She moaned and arched even further into him.
Later that night, Julia was lying awake like she so often did these days. Why she was still able to stand upright during the day and not be even more grumpy because of her exhaustion was a mystery to her. Now, however, it wasn't purely insomnia caused by her pregnancy. Roger's face kept popping up in her head. Hence, she imagined the worst-case scenarios and possible solutions for it. No matter how hard she tried, only one solution solidified in her mind and she didn't like it.
“David?” she whispered tentatively, not wanting to wake him in case he was fast asleep. “David, are you asleep?”She heard rather than saw him stirring.
“Not really, why?” came the equally quiet reply. David had now turned towards her. She could just about make out his outline in the dark. She looked at him for a minute, not really sure how to word what she was about to say, without worrying him too much or putting him off.
“Roger might not know about us yet. Knowing him though, he will do anything to find some kind of dirt on me, something he can use against me. He also is the kind of man who will hire someone to spy on me. You being my PPO makes this situation difficult. For our sake and his or her sake, I think it's best that changes”, she disclosed. She felt him recoil slightly and continued in order to make him understand.
“I hate it just as much as you do. But just imagine the repercussions it might have on you and your children if it became public knowledge that you've been intimately involved with the Home Secretary/ Candidate for PM. I don't even want to think of what it would do to me. And if the media got wind that I am pregnant with your child, they'd have a field day. If you become someone else's PPO that would diffuse that bomb. Besides that, you wouldn't have to sneak in through the backdoor every night.”
She heard David suck in his breath and could almost hear him thinking before he finally spoke up. “Aye, I know... I just don't trust anyone else protecting you and can't bear the thought of not seeing you all day long.” She smiled at him and leaned in to kiss the corner of his mouth, glad this went as smoothly as it did.
“Perhaps I shouldn´t let you be reassigned straight away. This might cause suspicion.” She was more rambling to herself now, trying to make herself feel better about the choice they had just made, prolonging the current situation of having him around just a little longer.
David, too, knew that this was inevitable but he was relieved that he would have time to adjust to the thought of not being her PPO anymore and being by her side in a more public manner. “Everything will be fine”, he murmured and pulled her towards him, to have her head on his chest. He loved having her this close, to feel her warmth, have her hair tickle his skin and her nails graze over his chest. Both stayed like this for a while, both occupied with their own thoughts, engulfed by darkness until both eventually fell asleep.
Julia was relieved that she really had been able to keep Roger in rein with her threats. Despite her apprehension of finding her face in the media and on the papers every morning, she seemed to have warded him off long enough, to really settle some things before he undoubtedly would let the bomb drop. This didn't just include planning the reassignment of David but also demanded a plan to tell her mother as well. That was a conversation she did not look forward to. Have her find out through the newspaper was something she didn't want either. How she would tell her was something she needed to think of. But this was an issue for later.
Albeit her best intentions of phoning her mother and meet her for tea at some point soon, she was swamped with work the next few days. Increasing protests because of Britains deal with the EU also caused for more security in and around London. This, in turn, made it necessary to have an emergency meeting with Stephen Hunter-Dunn further down the week. At least her body had been somewhat more cooperative. It had been more merciful. The morning sickness was still there, but it hadn't been as horrendous as it had been towards the beginning. Julia was mildly hopeful that it would soon abate and she could actually be more productive and get her tasks done without being knocked down because of nausea.
The morning she had her meeting with Stephen Hunter-Dunn also marked the 10th week of her pregnancy. The way the day had begun was pretty uneventful. There was no trace of morning sickness in sight. She felt better than she usually did in the morning. Even breakfast didn't decide to give her a hard time. The dread she had to fight off the previous mornings of finding some piece of news on her or David failed to materialise also. All in all, it seemed to be almost to good a start.
Since her pregnancy seemed to magnify every feeling tenfold, she felt better than she had in the past few weeks. Unfortunately, her elation didn't last for too long. Just when she thought she might have some kind of control over her body, it showed her the complete opposite. She had crowed too soon. The moment she had sat in her car, the trouble began. But it didn't abate either when she arrived and had firm ground under her feet again. Since it was out of the question to start eating crisps or chips out in the open and really give Roger a reason to spy on her, it only got worse.
She knew that she still had an hour until her meeting with the Director General of the Security Service, she was sure she would spend half of it attempting to get her body back under control again. Nobody with the exception of David, of course, noticed anything out of the ordinary, but the level of nausea had hit a new, hitherto unknown level that nearly knocked her off her feet. Before she even reached her office, she made a U-turn to the bathroom. Up till now, she had had her fair share of morning sickness, but never had it been as atrocious as it was at the moment. Gone was the feeling of having some say over the day when she leaned back over the toilet bowl emptying her stomach yet again. She needed to get some crisps or something equally helpful. After a last dry heave, she righted herself and made her usual way to the wash basin to wash her mouth. She felt dizzy and her head was spinning. All she wanted to do was to sit down and close her eyes and just have something to ease her stomach with.
There still might be some crisps stashed in one of the cupboards of her desk, she suddenly remembered, when she took her briefcase to exit the bathroom.
She also became acutely aware that her second trimester was edging closer and closer. Another appointment with Mrs Wilson was due on top of everything else. Maybe she could tell her when she would finally feel better. With that, she made a mental note of the list of questions she had once she'd meet with her again the following week.
Once she had made it to her office and finally sat down, she breathed a sigh of relief. The dizziness was still there but not quite as prominent than when she moved. Her nausea, however, was still as awful as it had been in the bathroom prior. It was astounding to hear how nobody in her department had caught on to her leaving for the loo much more often than usual. The emotional part of the pregnancy was something she could gloss over since she never shared much compassion towards her underlings. She expected the work to be done properly. They were hired for a reason after all and if she had to bite someone's head off for not doing their job, even if it was just Rob, then so be it. If she happened to react more extremely the past few weeks, that honestly didn't carry any weight at all.
Speaking of Rob, would he be the one who might blow her secret? It had to be him or Mike Travis. Both she worked closely with and both might have caught on the one or the other symptom. Although Rob still seemed to have a crush on her and still had not given up on making advances. But she wasn't sure if he was bright enough to actually suspect her to be with child after all. Otherwise, he would have given up his attempts to woo her a while ago. So, it had to be Mike Travis then. Something had to be done about him, as well. With those thoughts in mind, she opened the drawer with the little helpers that assisted her fight her morning sickness and sneaked out a few crisps. Her assistant had been far-sighted enough to brew her some fennel tea already. Gratefully, she took a sip of the warm beverage and quickly felt how her stomach made peace with her. For the time being at least and just in time for her appointment. She had just taken another sip and sneaked another crip while going through the points of her meeting with Stephen Hunter-Dunn when she heard a decisive knock on her door.
She stood up to meet the man when she noticed that Mike Travis was standing next to the head of the MI-5. She gritted her teeth and had to school her features as not to reveal her obvious distrust and dislike against him. He couldn't know, not yet. But years of political training had made her an excellent actress who was able to twist someone around her finger and make them believe everything would be fine. This usually gave her enough time to expose them if there was a need for it. The next one would be Mike Travis. For the moment she would grin and bear it. She greeted Stephen and then indicated for the two men to sit down.
“Home Secretary, how are you today?” Stephen asked politely.
“I can't complain, thank you...Take a seat, Stephen” Mike Travis gave no indication of a surprise of any kind. Julia decided to put her focus on the man sitting in front of her. Mike Travis would pipe up soon enough when something didn't go the way he liked.
“Given the new situation in the city, we need to think of upping the security in public places, as well as increasing security measures for Members of Parliament. But ever since the Metropolitan Police failed to collaborate and betrayed our trust, we need to think of other ways to keep you safe”, Stephen continued, looking at Julia intently.
Before Julia could stop herself and ponder over his statement, she inquired “What do you mean the Metropolitan Police betrayed our trust?”
Stephen haltered and seemed to shift in his seat ever so slightly. It was as if he had let something slip, he wasn't supposed to tell her and yet it had managed to make its way out in as such an off-hand remark. Julia, meanwhile, looked daggers at him, requiring an answer.
“Well, Home Secretary, when Lorraine Craddock was still Chief Superintendent and the commanding officer of the RaSP, she had your PPO, Sergeant Budd spy on you for her. Nothing came out of it. But that doesn't change the fact that he did spy on you.” There was it. She knew the day had started out too well, something simply had to cloud her day. This piece of information didn't just do that, it destroyed any positive thought she had in her and took away any trust she had had for David until a minute ago. On the outside, she had become uncommonly quiet. This simply was something her brain refused to understand. So, she simply stared at Stephen, before she caught herself.
“Excuse me?” she heard herself say, her voice oddly distant. “I am sorry, Home Secretary. I didn't mean to be the bearer of such news. As I said, nothing came of the attempt. But we need to think of ways to keep the country safe.”
Julia simply nodded. Her mind was blank. Any thought had evaporated. It was as if her brain had been paralysed. How could this be? Was she still spying on her? How long had this been going on? Was he only with her to get information? It just didn't make any sense. She heard Stephen and Mike Travis talk but she didn't take in a single word of what they said. It was all just background noise. Meanwhile, she simply worked on autopilot.
“I am sorry. I think we need to reschedule our appointment. This matter is more delicate than I had anticipated. For the meantime, do whatever you deem necessary”, was all she could muster and could say in order of not exposing herself in the end. Both Stephen and Mike seemed to accept her decision without any doubt or contradictions and left.
The rest of the day was a matter of routine, she had enough work to keep her mind off the bomb Stephen Hunter-Dunn had dropped. Nevertheless, her mind kept drifting back to what he had said. Every time it came to her, the numbness she had initially experienced was gradually replaced by disappointment, sorrow and pure anger. By the end of the day, she felt she merely consisted of those feelings and nothing else. She had noticed how David had kept throwing her glances throughout the day, trying to read her body language for signs of how she was. But she hadn't designed to look at him. Not once.
When it was finally time to leave, she didn't let anything on. She was a professional, the perfect image of what everyone expected her to be. At the same time, she recoiled from any kind of physical contact with David. She didn't even look at him properly. It was impossible to do so. David certainly noticed, he would be blind if he didn't, she contemplated. She didn't care. Part of her wanted him to notice, wanted to yell at him and to ask him how he could betray her the way he had done. It would have to wait until they were behind closed doors. But for now, the only thing she could do was to grit her teeth and bite her tongue. She was so absorbed in her own thoughts, that the whole way home and even when David checked her flat was almost in a complete blur.
“Is everything alright?” she finally heard him ask, looking at her worried. She finally tried to reconnect with the reality around her, took a deep breath and glared at him, almost penetrating him with it.
“How could you?”, she seethed, barely above a whisper. She tried to keep her emotions under control, albeit she was fighting a losing battle. David had no idea what she was talking about and gave her a blank expression. “What do you mean?”
“You fucking spied on me! And I thought Roger was the one who would do that job. Turns out you have been doing an outstanding job all this time. Tell me, how does it feel to give the Home Secretary the runaround while you fuck her and get her pregnant?” she had talked herself into a rage, tears threatening to spill out of her eyes. She bit them back angrily, not wanting to show weakness. Not now. A single tear still made its way down her cheek, betraying her heartbreak.
“Fuck”, she only heard him mutter, while he let his hand ran across his face. He had never expected her to find out. It had always been in the back of his mind and he knew that he should have told her long ago. But how would you approach such a delicate topic, especially if it was someone you fell in love with? It could only hurt and possibly break whatever you had and so he had hoped once Craddock was gone, this dirty little secret might be forgotten about. He was wrong. Now he had to deal with his naivete and stupidity. He had no idea how.
His heart stuttered once he had realized what she was talking about and now his heart had stopped beating altogether. The woman in front of him looked broken and he was the reason for it. He was supposed to protect her and had done the opposite. He wanted to embrace her and kiss the pain away. This scenario was out of the question, The moment of vulnerability she had let on was gone and had now entirely been replaced by fury.
It was the kind of fury that seemed to flow through her veins like lava. All she could see was red. The one person she had trusted the most had betrayed her. That was one thing she couldn't cope with and simply didn't want to accept.
“I need you to leave.” The demand came with a finality that left no room for doubt. She gave him a steely look and stepped aside, expecting him to leave. Meanwhile, David stood in the middle of her living room rooted to the spot, unable and unwilling to move and leave her on her own.
“Julia, please, let me explain”, he began helplessly.
“What is there to explain. You did a brilliant job! You spied on me and made a complete fool of me!” A small part of her still didn't want to believe he could do this to her and wanted to listen to him and thought it cruel what she was accusing him of. But the predominant part of her just felt disappointment and betrayal. David still hadn´t moved an inch. He knew that getting closer to her would have the absolute opposite effect of what he wanted. So he just stood there, his heartbreaking.
“Please, believe me, I didn't want to do it. I didn`t do it! Craddock and Sampson ordered me to spy on you to find out what you were up to. But I didn't do it! Please, Julia. You have to believe me. I didn't do it. I know I should have refused in the first place. But what was I to do? They were my commanding officers. The best thing I could do in this fucked-up situation was not to give them what they wanted! Please, Julia, you have to believe me. I never wanted to betray your trust! I love you!”
Words came tumbling out of his mouth, desperate to make her understand, better the situation somehow and to make this all go away. Knowing her, however, he knew that it would take more than just that. But he still hoped that this would give him some time to make her believe him. The tears in Julia's eyes were back once again. She had tried to fight them as hard as she could, but she simply couldn't win. The rational part of her brain knew he had a point, but the emotional side didn't want to listen to him. She simply was hurt.
“Just go, please”, she commented, a hint of despair in her voice, and moved to the door, ready to open it when he stopped her. “Julia, please, just think about it.” he hadn't given up yet. He would never give up on her. He would fight for her and if it was the last thing he did. The look in her eyes was a broken one. She needed time, he could see that. He still needed to try. Leaving her alone in this state was the worst thing he could do. But she gave him no alternative. Eventually, she moved away from him, broke their eye contact and held the door open for him.
“Good night, sergeant.” came her professional voice. There was nothing he could do about it now. So, he merely bowed his head and left.
The minute she had closed the door, she let her tears fall in an unbroken stream, enhanced by a heart-rending sob that came from deep within. Without any strength left, she slid on the floor and pressed her hands on the cold surface trying to keep her upright. The force of her emotions and tears overwhelmed her. She resembled more a wounded animal than the RH Julia Montague MP everyone seemed to have an opinion on. How long she stayed like this, she didn't know. All she knew was that at some point she dragged herself off the cold ground and slumped into bed, with her clothes still on, where her tears still wouldn't stop streaming down her face until she was so exhausted that she fell into a dreamless sleep.
David didn't feel any better. He wasn't sure how he had gotten home. It was all just a blur. He had no idea how he could fix this. All he wanted to do was to go back in time and make it all undone. But he felt numb, immobile and helpless. He let out a gut-wrenching sob and sank down on his kitchen chair, pressing his hands against his eyes, letting his desperation take over his body.
A vibrating noise that simply didn't want to be ignored, made him look at his phone, hoping it might be Julia. 'Vicky' it said and he was inclined on pressing the decline button when something, a craving for human contact let him pick up the phone. He tried to conceal the fact that he'd been crying, but made a lousy attempt at it, especially since Vicky knew him. Whatever it was she wanted to say, it wasn't important now. She was concerned for the father of her children. It had been a very long time since she had heard him cry.
“Dave, what´s wrong?” came the concerned voice from the other end of the line.
He honestly had no idea why he had taken the phone call. He craved human contact, but only with one woman and it wasn't Vicky. His mind wasn't with Vicky or anyone at all but the situation he was in. It felt as if there was a roadblock, he had no idea to get passed it.
“I'm fine”, he tried to convince her.
Vicky, however, had spent enough time with him to know better. She couldn't remember when he had sounded as down and broken. In fact, he had never sounded quite as defeated. They hadn't had quite as much personal contact lately. When they talked it was about the kids, but never beyond that. He had sounded and looked fine. Better than he had for some time, now that she thought of it. That's why she was surprised to hear him quite like that.
“You sound far from fine, Dave!” she further attempted on making him talk. If David didn't want to talk, nobody would make him. At least she never succeeded. But something must have happened between the time he had seemed content and now and she could only try and help or at least understand him if she knew what it was.
“I fucked up”, he mumbled more to himself rather than to the woman on the other end of the line. Part of him had nearly forgotten that he was still on the phone with Vicky.
“What are you talking about?” That was it. She had to find out what was wrong with him. “You know what? I will give my mum a ring and I'll come over. Please, just stay at your flat”, and with that, she hung up.
“No, you don't have to ...” he trailed off. It was too late. She had hung up on him already, decided to help him if he wanted it or not. What he needed to do now was to pull himself together and find a solution to get Julia back. With that thought in mind, he got up and went to the bathroom to wash the desperation off his face before Vicky would show up on his doorstep and see him in this state.
Thanks so much to @akh for always listening to my rambles whenever I am stuck. :)
Chapter 7: Forgive and Forget?
Julia is hurt after David's confession. Will she forgive him?
Firstly, thank you all so much for your kind comments. I really appreciate them. Secondly, I am really, really sorry this has taken so long. I can't promise the next update any time soon, but I will try my best. In the meantime, I do hope you enjoy this.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
David wasn't sure how many times he had cursed himself since Vicky had so abruptly ended their phone call. Why had he answered the phone at all? How would he be able to divert the situation? His mind was on overdrive. There was no way he could come up with even a single rational thought while being on tenterhooks and waiting for the doorbell to ring. He had tried to sit down on the couch but gotten up once again almost instantly.
He felt like a caged lion which was pacing around in its cage by the time Vicky arrived. She had made true to her promise, judging by the time on his phone. She had really hurried to get to him.
Despite the fact that he knew that Vicky was one of a total of three people who could read him like no one else, he still tried put on an act.
He simply couldn't and didn't want to talk about what had happened between him and Julia only a few hours ago and what had happened between him and the Home Secretary in general. He knew she would keep his secret. That didn't make it any easier to talk about it or being afraid of being judged for his actions. Also, part of him didn't want to share their little secret. He liked the fact that only he and Julia knew about it.
He had let her in absent-mindedly, almost automatically and sat back down on his couch for the umpteenth time.
“Dave, what is the matter? Talk to me,” she had to stop putting up the pretence of gently getting the information out of him. She needed to know and she didn't want to play this game anymore. The urgency in the tone of her voice, however, had quite a different effect of what she had hoped for. David, still wouldn´t look up to her. His eyes were firmly trained on the glass table ahead, his jaws clenched. One single teardrop made its way down his cheek. That one tear he couldn´t hold back.
“Dave?” she prodded more gently this time.
Of course, David knew that she wouldn´t give in. He had to tell her, there was no way around it. He just didn't know how. He drew in a deep breath and looked up at her, acknowledging her presence for the first time.
“I … umm...,” he began and stopped again. He genuinely had no idea how to tell her one of Britain's best-kept secrets. “I have been seeing … someone,” he paused, uncertain how to proceed, anticipating a reaction from his wife. But there was nothing.
“... and I kept information from her, I should have told her. She found out and now she doesn't want to talk to me.” Vicky didn't want to intrude in her husband's private life, but she honestly needed more to go on. There had to be more than a tiff for him to break down like that.
“What kind of information?” she asked gently, careful not to interrupt the flow of his speech. “I can't tell you. I just had to do something, which I didn´t want to do and I kept it from her. I had hoped she wouldn't find out but she did anyway and now it´s all fucked up. I don´t know what to do. I tried explaining it to her that it was beyond my control but she wouldn't listen,” he sighed, “... I just want Julia to listen to me.”
He had been rambling but Julia´s name had slipped off his tongue so naturally, that he first didn't even realize he had said her name until it was too late and he felt her eyes bore into him. Now more than ever, he couldn´t meet her eyes. It would be further admission to who he was actually talking about.
“Julia?” she barely breathed, “Julia... Montague?” Of all the things she had expected, this was not one of them.
He didn't reply. There was no need for it. The look in his eyes told her everything, she needed to know.
“Oh, Dave, how...,” before she could hurl any accusations at him, he interrupted her. He didn't need a lecture. Not now and not ever. When he started this affair with her, he knew what he had gotten himself into. The last thing he now needed was someone to question his moral standards.
“Vicky, I didn't ask you to come here to give me a lecture of how morally questionable I am. You came here because you wanted to help, remember. So, if you can't stick to that, then I'd ask you to leave.”
His remark came out more sharply than he had intended it to. Judging from the look on her face, she hadn't expected it either but it still had the desired effect. She took in a breath as if to compose herself before she changed the subject back, seeing that she had hit a wall.
“From the information you gave me, her reaction is perfectly plausible. You were dishonest with her, even if it wasn't your intention. I suggest you give her time to think. Maybe you both need time and then you can try and talk to her again. She will understand that it wasn't your fault.”
She put her hand on his arm to show her support, now more than ever. Their marriage might not have worked out, but he was still the father of her children and one of the people in her life she liked to call a confidante. Judging from his admission to her, she was the same for him. But it had been a rather feeble attempt to help the man sitting in front of her though. But what else could she say?
“Aye,” he replied after a while, not entirely sure what to make with her advice. He knew she was right, but he didn't want to give Julia time, he wanted to undo the whole thing right now.
“Listen, the weekend and a bank holiday are coming up. Why don't you take the kids and drive up to your mum? A change of scenery and being away for a few days might do you good as well as her. I can't imagine it would be such great help if you keep hovering around her after what happened tonight.”
He pondered over that thought. It might be good indeed, even if the idea of leaving her for a few days was pure torture to him. But there was the fact that he actually needed to tell his parents about their third grandchild. David took a deep breath, it had been a lot for one evening.
“Just sleep over it and decide tomorrow morning. But please don't do anything rash, Dave.”
At last, while running a hand through his hair, he looked at his wife. He saw the genuine concern in her face. She did have a point. Slowly, he nodded and he felt her squeeze his arm in support. A small smile appeared on her face.
“Just get some sleep. Tomorrow your head might be a little clearer. Do let me know what you do,” she implored gently. Again he nodded. She knew at this point, she would get absolutely nothing out of him. Still, she waited for a couple of minutes, not wanting to leave him just yet. When silence had settled upon them after a bit, she got up at last. Her mother was waiting after all. She bid him goodbye and reminded him once again to keep her in the loop before she turned around to leave.
Her hand had barely touched the doorknob when she heard the smallest of “thank yous”, she might have ever heard him utter.
“You're welcome,” and with that, he was left on his own with his thoughts.
Sleep eluded him that night, He kept twisting and turning. When his alarm clock went off in the morning he felt utterly exhausted, almost as if he had got run over by a truck. The fact that he would have to face Julia in a few hours and that he had no idea how to react around her, didn't exactly help matters. The only thing he did know was how she'd react. He had witnessed enough people who had crossed her. They usually had made it out of her office barely in one piece.
The difference between him and them was, that he had slept with her and was in a relationship, or whatever this was, with her. Plus she was pregnant, which made things even more explosive. The only trump card he had, was that he was the father of her unborn child. He would just have to enter the lion's den with 30 minutes of sleep and at least one cup of coffee and two energy drinks.
His apprehension would prove to be correct. For the entirety of the morning, the tension could be cut with a knife. Both stayed professional, but the occasional looks she'd usually give him, the comments under her breath and standing just as close to him as it was deemed appropriate were no more. She practically ignored him and only said what she had to say as not to arouse too much attention. From the outside, they didn't seem any different than usual. But he felt it with every fibre of his being. He couldn't blame her. It was his own fault.
At midday, when she had yet another interview with a big newspaper, he accompanied her to one of her favourite restaurants.
She still wouldn´t look at him. She simply couldn´t. Her fury and disappointment had replaced every feeling of love and trust. Part of her knew that this could end with her having very high blood pressure, that in turn could stress the baby just as much as it stressed her, but she couldn't calm down. It was too early. He was lucky, he actually kept his distance and didn't approach her, unless he had to. She might just say something she would regret later. With that thought, she stepped into the elevator down to her car, glaring at the back of David's head.
Her luck didn't last though. The second the metal doors had closed around them, David, still standing in front of her, began to speak, rather hastily, almost stumbling over his own words.
“I might go to Scotland over the weekend and take the kids with me. My mum hasn't seen me and the kids in far too long and...,” at this, she felt his hesitation, before he finished with a heavy accent, “... I have to tell her about the little one.”
She stopped breathing for a second. Of course, she knew he had to tell his parents. It just hadn't occurred to her up till now. She had been too preoccupied with everything else to actually think about that. Would he tell his mother about her too? Surely, he wouldn´t be that foolish. He couldn´t be. He must know how dangerous this might be at this point, for both of them. It didn't matter if one person in a small town in Scotland knew about them. If only an idea of her and her PPO expecting got out, it could cause an absolute wildfire.
David must have felt her panic, as he turned around to quickly look in her direction before soothing her unease. “I won't tell her about you... and us. But I just thought you ought to know... just in case something is the matter … or you want to talk,” he finished carefully, taking in a deep breath and turning his back up front. The doors of the elevator should open any minute now. He had once timed the ride down to the underground entrance and ever since he intrinsically knew how long it had to take down there.
Julia let out the breath she had been holding, the second she stepped out of confinements of the metal box. She honestly couldn´t deal with this assault of thoughts and feelings at the moment. Damn that Scotsman. The last thing she needed on her mind now were conflicting thoughts about the one person whom she tried to ban from her mind entirely, at the moment at least. Nevertheless, she didn't try to let anything on and stepped into the car, forcing her thoughts on the next few hours ahead instead of the next few days.
The interview itself had been relatively unspectacular. There had been the regular questions about her agenda, and about her plan, if she became PM. The only questions that required more of her acting skills, especially now, were when the journalist ventured into dangerous territory and wanted to know more about the “Julia Montague outside the limelight”.
It was fairly easy to give him the answers he wanted without giving away too much. She couldn´t shut him off entirely, it was part of the job description. Only when he asked if there was a certain someone who would move to Downing Street with her in case she won, she tensed for the fragment of a second. But she quickly glossed over that moment by pretending to weigh her words and taking a sip of her water, before she gave him a deliberate 'no’. The man interviewing her seemed pleased enough, he smiled at her and shoved his dictaphone back in his pocket, before shaking her hand and bidding goodbye. She had tried to be charming as well as honest. With her current mood, however, she wasn't sure if she had succeeded. More than once she had caught herself wanting to give a biting comment, but held back every time. She knew it would be bad for her campaign.
The minute the journalist had left, she was up on her feet again, fighting a small wave of nausea. It was slowly getting better, she thought. Or she hoped. The morning sickness couldn't last throughout her pregnancy. At least now she could go back to her office and lock herself up. Hopefully, nobody would disturb her. She had tried to pull herself together for the interview. But she couldn't promise the same around her employees, especially if they acted as if they were completely incapable of doing one task correctly.
She had been quite right with her suspicion that the day would not end well for her staff.
Entering her office for the rest of the day and the following couple of days was almost like entering the lion's den. You only did it if you had to, you definitely didn't want her rage upon you and you lived in fear of her having you fired. At some point, David saw some employees look at each other timidly when someone had to go in. Some also had the courage to actually comment on her behaviour to their colleagues afterwards. “She needs to loosen up” and “What has gotten into her?” were two of the most common remarks.
Julia was aware of her mood, as it was David. But only they knew the true reason for it. She still hadn't given any indication of wanting to speak to him. In fact, they hadn't really spoken more than the usual Principal/ PPO chatter after David had announced his plans for the weekend. He knew he should stick to the advice of giving her the time and space she needed but every time he had a moment with her, he wished he could talk to her, tell her how sorry he was and just kiss her. He missed her, missed the small smiles she had only reserved for him, her warmth, how he woke up being tickled by her hair and how she managed to make all his clothes and bedsheets smell like her. He just missed her so much, it was almost unbearable.
The weekend away would make things even more difficult. At least he could see her now, even if she ignored him as best as she could. But all he had up there were his kids, his mother, his hometown and rural countryside. Sure, he could have a pint with some of his mates, but he knew he wouldn't really feel like it. They would all want to know about his job, would talk about their own family lives and would ask how he and Vicky were faring and if there was someone new in his life.
No, he would definitely not leave his mother's house when he was up there. Well, maybe he would go hiking with his kids, but he wouldn't have to talk about anything he didn't want to talk about. But then again, he had to tell his mother about the little Montague-Budd, though he would leave out that name specifically or any name and he wasn't quite sure yet, how he would manage that. His mother usually wanted to squeeze out every piece of information out of him, particularly if it came to a new grandchild she could dote over. But until he had to worry how to make the confession, he still had to go through the rest of the day. Their train would leave first thing next morning.
Julia, on the other hand, thought the previous days had been the worst in a very long time. Her hurt had turned into fury. That, in turn, had spurred on the workaholic inside. She didn't want to think about her personal issues, wasn't ready to face David, to listen to him. She just wanted to forget about all of that. So, now she had worked almost tirelessly on her campaign and only went home at night because it was expected of her. But with David not being there, looking after her and quite frankly, distracting her with either doting over her or with sex, she worked through the night until she fell into sleepless dreams. Those more often than not, were interrupted by morning sickness, which had shifted to nights. This, in turn, meant that she didn't get much sleep if any at all. By the end of the week, she was on her last legs. Yet, she chose to ignore the signs of her body, albeit she knew she should listen to them. But she wouldn't, no, she couldn't stop, she didn't want to think about him, about them.
When the last few working hours of the day rolled around, she wished she was allowed to have an energy drink or at least more caffeine. Her pregnancy forbade any of that, so she was forced to stick to water, tea and vitamin drinks. The only advantage morning sickness in the evenings offered her, was that she could be more productive during the day. Still, she felt her exhaustion in every bone of her body.
Finally, she decided to move to the small table and have somewhere more comfortable to sit while doing the last bits of her work, now that no visitors were to be expected anymore and no other appointments were due. She got up and stretched when she noticed felt different than she usually did. The signals her body had sent her the past few days usually were ones that told her to slow down, when she gave them a minute of her time. She allowed herself to take a deep breath and a moment of rest. But the signs her body gave her now, felt different, alarmingly different, in fact. This wasn't exhaustion, she had ignored for too long. For a moment she stood frozen to the spot. Her blood had run cold. She was not sure whether to feel hot or cold. The only thing she knew was that she needed the loo, right this instant.
On the way there, she couldn't help but look at David for a moment. It was a look of insecurity and alarm, though she tried to keep her demeanour as professional as possible. Nobody could notice the sheer panic, she felt bubbling up inside. But no matter how angry she was with David, part of her still regarded him as her pillar of strength, as the first person she would seek out in distress. This was such a moment, though she prayed she was wrong.
When she had arrived at last, she locked herself in the cubicle to check herself. Her worst fears were confirmed when she looked at her underwear and found blood. For a moment her heart almost stopped beating. She stopped breathing and couldn't think straight. This clearly couldn't be. The past few days had been stressful on her and the baby, but she couldn't... She couldn't even think of the word. There simply had to be another answer. Hands trembling, she felt how cold sweat and sheer panic threatened to overwhelm her. She took almost twice as long to fix herself again before she could leave the cubicle, not even bothering to check herself in the mirror.
She left the bathroom, still trembling when she reached David standing closer to the bathrooms than he had been standing before, looking in her direction. He had noticed her moving past him towards the bathroom when he had seen her look at him for the first time in days. But it hadn’t been a look that was out for a peace offering. This had been a look of pure alarm . He felt torn between his promise to give her the space she needed, his professional credo and his urge to follow his love because she looked distressed. So, he slowly moved into her direction if she needed him but still giving her enough space in case she didn't want anything to do with him.
Julia had never been more grateful to see him as he slowly made his way towards her, his face growing grave and worried once he saw her pale face. She tried to hide the tremble in her hands, but she couldn't fool him.
“David, you need to get me to a hospital,” she mumbled under her breath, her voice shaky. She gave him one frightened look and he immediately knew. Fear clutched its ugly hands around him and tried to paralyse him. But her and the baby's needs were predominant now. He spoke into his radio, while he lead her towards the elevators, her briefcases and her jacket be damned. At this moment, even though he tried to keep up the pretence of only being her PPO, he wasn't sure if he did such a good job. He was worried for Julia and the baby and he was almost certain he did a lousy job at hiding it.
Julia couldn't think straight. Fear had numbed her completely. She let herself be led by David, who had his hand on the small of her back, now that they were on the way down.
“It's all going to be fine, Julia,” she heard him try and reassure her. If he was trying to put his own mind at ease or hers, she wasn't quite sure. The meaning of the words didn't come to her either. The only thing she heard was his soothing voice and all she felt was panic, fear and his hand on her back.
The way to the hospital was all in a blur. This couldn't be happening.
I am rather cruel, aren't I? Somehow my initial plans for this fic changed completely with this chapter, which is kind of exciting. So, stay tuned!
Chapter 8: One Week
After Julia's rush to hospital, she will find out if her child is alright or what might be wrong with it.
First things first: thank you all so much for the wonderful feedback!
This chapter is insanely long. I am so sorry in advance. I partly felt like I had to make up for the shortness of the previous chapter. Also, I didn't really want to break this chapter in two. That´s why you have this long chapter. Yay, for you I hope.
The sensation she had paid off as hunger, was now becoming increasingly painful. It hadn't been hunger she had been feeling. Those were cramps. Cramps, which she had somehow managed to ignore. How could she have been so stupid?
It would all be down on her if anything happened. She wasn't sure if she could live with the knowledge that she had lost her child because she was unwilling to stop and just take a break and think about David for a moment. Just because she had been too determined to keep the same lifestyle until the child was born. Her body had sent her enough signals to tell her to slow down, yet she had blatantly ignored all signs and had continued to work even harder.
Julia clutched her arms around her middle, hoping that warming her stomach and protecting it with her arms could somehow help ease the pain while biting the inside of her mouth.
Taking in a long, steady breath, at last, she looked up to see if they had arrived yet when she caught his glimpse in the rear-view mirror. It was a look of worry, fear and yet determination. They needed to talk, she saw that now, but right this instant, all she wanted was to get out of this car, into A & E and quite honestly, she wanted to get out of this pain. Everything had to be okay. It just had to. She closed her eyes once more to control her breathing.
A couple of minutes later, they had finally arrived at the hospital. David, her brilliant David must have been clear-headed enough to actually alert the hospital beforehand. The car had just pulled up at the back entrance when a few nurses and two doctors came hurling outside, to quickly help Julia into a wheelchair. She tried to move out of the backseat of her BMW as swiftly as possible, but every move she made her feel as if someone had pushed a knife through her.
She didn't know how they eventually managed to get her into that wheelchair but soon enough she found herself being pushed into a treatment room, David kept his distance to keep everything under control. He was still her PPO, after all, and on duty.
David's pure fear for Julia had spurred him into overdrive. But instead of being overwhelmed by it, he had managed to channel all of his energy to actually do everything to make Julia's life easier.
The first thing he had done after they had gotten into the car, was to notify her personal assistant. She should alert Mike Travis to step in as interim Home Secretary, while she was gone. He hadn't given specifics, other than she needed urgent treatment and was unable to fulfil her duties for the time being.
Obviously, Gina had been surprised enough but promised to forward the news to Mike Travis. He would know what to do. David didn't care too much if the political circus had crumbled in itself altogether with Julia being gone. But he knew how important it was to her.
His only concern was for the woman who was on her way to the treatment room with the doctors. All he wanted, was to go inside and be there for her, hold her hand and hear for himself what was going on, but he was neither family nor her husband.
At the moment he was still fulfilling his duties as PPO, and a PPO was stood outside the treatment room to protect the Principal of any oncoming threats. He had to accept that, albeit grudgingly so.
If he had already asked to be reassigned as they had talked about, he wouldn't even be in this mess. They wouldn't be. He could openly show his support to his girlfriend and be there for her. But alas, this was impossible, the only support he could give her was his presence.
“Ma'am, I'll be right outside. Everything will be fine... it will all be alright,” for the last bit he had dropped his voice, to something that resembled his private voice with her, the reassuring voice.
“Everything will be fine,” he repeated again, more earnestly this time. His deep blue eyes were reassuring.
She still had her doubts, but his words somehow managed to appease her nerves momentarily. Despite his attempts of having his stoic, cool and professional facade up, she could see that he was struggling just as much.
She merely nodded and cast her to look downwards on her lap, hands still clutching her stomach.
The nurse wheeled her inside the treatment room and the door closed behind them, with him outside and her nerves on edge again. Soft panic came bubbling up, even more than before.
Almost forcefully, she clutched her hands around her middle to hide the tremble in her hands. Images of the consultant telling her she had miscarried came to mind and she had to tear herself away from the thought. Perhaps it was morbid, but she liked being prepared. If she imagined the worst-case scenario now, she might be able to deal with it better than if it came as a shock. Deep inside, she knew that was completely absurd. In case she would really lose her child, she'd be devastated and she could not predict her own reaction.
“Hello, Miss Montague, my name is Bernie Campbell and I will be your consultant.” Her consultant was a redhead with a stern face, with kind of a no-nonsense look about it. Under any other circumstances, Julia would have accepted the initial pleasantries, but she felt far from joining in.
“Can you just tell me how bad it is?” Julia ignored the redhead's introduction.
The stern-looking redhead with the high cheekbones didn't let herself be deterred by the prominent face sitting in front of her. To her, she was yet another patient that needed her help.
“Before we can understand the gravity of the situation, I need to ask you a few questions first and afterwards we need to run a couple of tests.”
“What tests,” Julia interrupted the consultant once again, who was growing more and more impatient by the minute. The tremor in her hands she still tried to hide vehemently, was now partly due to the uncertainty she was faced with.
“After a routine check-up, we will do a transvaginal ultrasound and check if your baby's heart is beating - Afterwards, we will draw some blood to perform an hCG blood test”, Dr Campbell explained patiently and continued when Julia once again wanted to cut her short once again.
“This test measures the level of human chorionic gonadotropin, which develops during pregnancy since it's developed by the placenta. We perform such a test to diagnose a potential miscarriage. It concludes if the fetus isn't harmed. To judge whether your levels are rising or falling. In order to get a more conclusive picture, we require at least two tests in the space of two days, which is one reason why we would ask you to stay at the hospital in the meantime. But now, I need you to undress and ask you to lie on here.”
The doctor had finished and now pointed at the gynaecological chair. Her mind reeled at the amount of information Julia had been presented with. The second she had heard the word 'miscarriage' come out of the doctor's mouth, her mind had shut down almost completely. She got up and numbly moved to change.
Julia was at sea for the remainder of the examination. It was almost as if she watched herself from the sidelines as if she was watching a silent movie. She saw her doctor talk, felt her prod, put the cold gel on her stomach, yet there wasn't a single word she was able to take in. She barely even realised the pinch and the pressure of the needle when they drew her blood. The minute the ultrasound showed her baby, she continued to keep staring at the screen, biting the inside of her mouth, willing her tears back.
“Miss Montague?” the doctor appealed to Julia, lightly touching her upper arm, to get her attention. Only now, the mother-to-be realised that the Dr Campell must have attempted to talk to her for a bit now, yet Julia had been too far in her own head.
Tearing her eyes away from the screen, at last, she looked at her. “You may change back now. We have got everything we want. The ultrasound doesn't necessarily suggest a missed miscarriage. We now have to wait for the results of the hCG blood test and the subsequent one. Meanwhile, to get your high blood pressure down and since you need rest, you will stay here at the hospital. I know this all must be scary, it doesn't necessarily mean you miscarry, but what you need is rest. Maybe bedrest even, we will have to see. What is certain is that you need to lay back on your work and on all the stress that goes along with it. For now, however, do we need to call someone to make the relevant arrangements?”
“No, thank you. I've got David...” she hesitated and corrected herself. “...my PPO Seargent Budd.”
She was too overcome with worry and anxiety to even think of work, or anything other than her child. David would know what to do.
“Very well, ma'am. The nurse will give you a sedative as soon as you've settled in so you can get the rest you need.”
The nurse brought her to her room, again she was tied to the wheelchair, David following her in tow.
The moment she had exited the room, she could feel his eyes boring into her, yet his face kept its stoic professionalism.
Her room was at the end of the corridor, quite secluded from the others, albeit it was a bright room and good enough for two nights, she supposed.
“If you need anything, Ma'am just let me know, I or one of my colleagues will be right outside. I will be back with the sedative later,” the nurse commented when he had wheeled her into the room. Julia merely nodded. She didn't want to talk, at least to him.
When no further reply or request from the Home Secretary came and instead he was greeted with silence, the nurse left the room dutifully and closed the door behind him, leaving David and Julia alone.
“I need to stay here for two nights” she replied blankly while trying to get up slowly, avoiding eye contact all the same.
He was at her side in a second, ready to help her sit on the bed, eyeing her worriedly. “What did the doctor say?”
“She can't tell me just yet. They need to run some tests. In a week, we will find out...” Julia trialled off, not having taken in much from what the consultant had told her. She wasn't used to hanging in limbo, not knowing what would happen next week or even the next day. The control-freak in her had an anxiety attack and she tried to grasp on the one thing she could understand: the tests might tell them there was absolutely nothing. Or it could amount to the opposite. The anxious and morbid thoughts were interrupted by David, whose concern was clearly audible now. Especially since they were all by themselves now.
“A week? What do you mean, we will know in a week?” His thick Scottish accent, only accentuated, just how emotional this topic was for him as well.
It was the first time, she looked at him and he could see the terror in her eyes. “They need to run tests and it takes a week to get the end results that will determine if everything's fine or...,” she wasn't able to finish and looked down at their intertwined hands.
He absolutely refused to let go of her. Gone were the promises to give her space. He would be there for her, as close to her as he could. The fact that she grabbed onto his hand as if her life depended on it, almost cutting off his bloodstream in the meantime, only told him that she needed him as much as he needed her.
“We will get through this, okay?” he told her in earnest and only repeated his words once more as she looked at him uncertainly.
Her look still didn't seem to suggest that she believed him because she simply was too worried, so he let his other hand graze her cheek. It was a small gesture and a tentative one, but a first step in the right direct direction when he didn't feel her flinch away from it but felt her lean into it ever so slightly instead.
“Your assistant will arrive with your overnight bag any minute now,” he broke the silence at last and stepped back to break away from her and slowly walked towards the door to step outside and wait for Gina.
The minute he let go of her, she missed his touch and his comfort. But she knew it had been quite a daring move in such a public space. She should be angry and disappointed with him, and maybe all of that would come back at some later point. But at the moment, she was just grateful he was here.
She moved on the bed and toed off her stilettos, which fell to the floor with a clunk. Just then her assistant came in, a little uncertain at the whole situation of finding her boss in hospital.
Meanwhile, while David was waiting for the assistant to come back outside, he saw the nurse who had helped Julia into the room just before pass him by and notified him to be. The nurse nodded and turned around, getting what he needed.
Next time he saw Julia, long after Gina had gone, after he had all the bases covered, she was tugged up in bed and fast asleep. With chestnut curls cascading around her face, he wondered if there was anything more beautiful than her. She looked absolutely perfect
David looked at her sleeping form for a minute before he heaved a sigh and found himself a chair to sit next to her bed. It would be a long, sleepless night.
It was the crack of dawn, Julia finally stirred, being woken by the first rays of the sun. Her limbs felt extremely heavy and she was wrapped up in a warm little cocoon. Sleep tried to fight its way back and almost succeeded, but she pried open her eyes just the same. An attempt of having a look around the room, to actually refocus on where she was almost failed because her eyelids were simply too heavy and threatened to close again.
That was until she noticed a figure sleeping in a chair next to her bed. It must have been the most uncomfortable position she had ever seen. How anyone could sleep that way was beyond her.
The figure wasn't just anyone, it was David. He looked so uncomfortable and yet he was fast asleep. For a minute, she couldn't help but look at him and smiled to herself. This little pink bubble burst very quickly when a different thought suddenly crossed her mind. With a jolt, she was wide awake. Had he been here all night long? This was bound to spread rumours. But before she could start worrying again, he stirred in his chair, awoken by Julia's movements in her bed.
He craned his neck and rubbed it, trying to get the stiffness out of it. There had been some places he had slept in his lifetime. Once he had even camped out behind a supermarket when no buses drove back home anymore. But even that had been more comfortable, than this chair. All curses he had saved for it, stuck in his throat when he saw her. Hair tousled, still sleepy and by far the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The urge to lean forward and kiss her was almost too strong. But he managed to hold himself back.
“Mornin'. How are you feeling?” he asked stifling a jawn while getting up and stretching his limbs. For a moment, she looked at him contemplating her answer. She could get up in a seating position, but she couldn't find the strength to do so.
“Fine. I am not sure when the last time was that I slept for 9 hours straight,” she replied and only caught on the double meaning of it once the words had been out already.
“Well, but being unconscious for 9 hours is far more boring than what I keep you occupied with usually,” he had caught on in a heartbeat and smirked. His face became more sombre again almost instantly when he regarded her for a second. “But I am glad, you're feeling better.”
He had finished adjusting his tie, when he stepped forward to her bed and carefully tucked a strand of her hair, that had fallen into her face, behind her ear. The gesture was much too intimate but if he couldn't kiss her, he at least needed to touch her in some capacity.
As much as she enjoyed his touch and the comfort and security that came along with it, she couldn't help but worry about the fact that he had stayed in her room all night. Finally, too, her body seemed willing to actually move and she slowly moved into a sitting position. Immediately, David grabbed her pillow and repositioned it, so that she could sit comfortably. He hadn't missed the gradual change of sleepiness and contentment to uneasiness.
“David... do you think it was good...,” but before she could finish voicing her concern, he had interrupted her, knowing full well that she didn't really like being interrupted.
“Honestly, I don't care” he began and held up his hand when he felt her protest bubbling up.
“This is one of my last acts as your PPO and how else am I supposed to protect you and know that you're alright if I am standing outside all night long? Besides...” at this, he halted, uncertain how to put his inner-most feelings into words, “... I think it´s perfectly legitimate to look out for your pregnant girlfriend.”
For a moment, there was absolutely nothing. She just looked at him and for a second and he grew a little uneasy. They had never put whatever this was between them into words, but for him, it was safe to say that he wanted to be with her, even more now that she expected his child. But right now, he wondered if he had been a little too forward. After what seemed like an eternity to him, she tilted her head enquiringly.
“What do you mean, this is one of your last acts as my PPO?” Her words had come out more briskly than she had intended. She had wanted to sound soft but her confusion had made her words hostile.
He had just called her his girlfriend and there was nothing more she wanted than to hug him. Their conversation of what they actually were to each other had been overdue but somehow neither of them had ever had the courage to actually bring it up. The fact that he had chosen this time now, in such a setting on top, spoke volumes and she had problems keeping her emotions under control. Hence the briskness of her words.
As if he had understood the turmoil that one word had brought up in her, he explained that he had asked to be reassigned without delay upon request.
“I don't think it's a good idea to stay on as your PPO any longer if I want to be able to stay with you 24/7 and look after you. It would draw too much attention to us. I'd rather have it that way, have them find out about us after I stopped working for you, rather than them fire me and have you caught in the middle of a scandal.”
At that, she nodded and scoffed, almost at the same time. “That's good. I'm glad. But rest assured, the scandal will come, sooner or later we will have to weather it, especially when it comes out that my former PPO and current boyfriend fathered my child.”
He looked at her and replied: “We will cross that bridge when we get to it. But for now, I need to go. PS Fenton will take over. I will pop in as soon as I can, but I need to finalize some last details regarding my reassignment.” He squeezed her hand and turned around to leave her to her thoughts.
She had expected it to sound much odder to call him “boyfriend” than it actually had. The fact was, it was hard for her to imagine a life without him ever since he had barged into it rather unceremoniously.
For him to be by her side 'officially' now, rather than secretly and would put a stop to their hidden relationship, but at the same, it would take some adjusting. She was used to having him around at all times, that would be no more.
The fact was also, that the public, her colleagues and the media would give her a hard time and if she came out of this unscathed, they might be able to enjoy a semi-peaceful time together. But there was a big “if”. As much as she hated it, the double standards in politics were still very much intact.
Misogynism had always been part of her political life. She had fought it tooth and nail for as long as she could remember. If she were a man, she was sure nobody would give two hoots about it. There would be the talk for about a week, maybe two and then the collective mind would accept the man and his new girlfriend.
But as a woman, this was an entirely different subject matter. People would paint her scarlet, as a wanton and some sex-hungry woman. It would either break her political neck or would at least damage her. If she was lucky, she might only lose part of her constituents.
But at the moment, she didn't care what other people might think about her relationship with David. Her concern only belonged to the little bundle that was hopefully still growing inside her. For now, the cramps had dissipated, she noticed relieved. Even her sore boobs were back and she didn't think she'd ever been grateful to have that feeling back. Still, she dreaded a trip to the loo, afraid that her worst fears might become reality. She got out of bed slowly and shuffled towards the bathroom.
“Everything's going to be fine,” had once again become her mantra, which she kept repeating on a loop in her head. When she had taken off her clothes with trembling fingers, she heaved the biggest sigh. There was nothing. Surely, that had to be a good sign, hadn't it? Yes, it simply had to, she forced herself to think and tried to ignore the nagging doubts that kept invading her mind. With that, she stepped into the shower and let the warm water run down her body, a feeble attempt to ease her nerves.
David, on the other hand, had had another talk with his superior about his reassignment. Lorraine Craddock as his commanding officer, had raised an eyebrow and had consequently asked him if he was sure, had even tried to get some more information out of him, other than the one necessary for a reassignment.
So, when she finally had accepted it and put him on desk duty, for the time being, he was glad. For the first time in his life, he was happy to shuffle around papers and to be out of her office at last.
Well, strictly speaking, that wasn't the first time. Every time she called him to her office, he was glad to be out of it again. It was almost suffocating to be called in there. If he managed to get out of the building relatively unseen, especially by the always inquisitive eyes of Kim Knowles or Louise Rayburn, he would finally be able to go home. For once he was lucky. That was new. He almost expected Louise or anyone running after him as he hailed for a taxi. For a second he couldn't believe his luck and he stepped into a taxi unobserved.
It was the first time in over 24 hours that he was alone with his thoughts. It was almost strange to get the storm that was ripping through his mind to calm down, to actually be able and sort one or the other thought. He recalled the past few hours and his subsequent decision. It would have a profound impact on both their lives, but he felt it had been the right decision. For just a few minutes he tried not to think too much about it, but only let Lonon pass by.
“We're here, sir. That'll be £ 21.50.”
He carelessly gave the cabbie more money than was strictly necessary and almost jumped out of the taxi.
This Saturday was quite a chilly one in comparison to the days before, he noted when unlocked the door to his flat at last. Letters and post were scattered all around the floor when he entered. He hadn't been here in a few days and it clearly showed. He entered the dark flat, put his phone on the kitchen table and pulled off his tie. He needed coffee, food, a shower and maybe just five minutes of sleep in a real bed and not in an uncomfortable chair.
Just when he was about to turn on the coffee machine he saw his phone light up and saw Vicky's name appear.
“Fuck,” he groaned audibly and snatched up his phone. “Vicky, I am so sorry.”
In midst of it all, he had all but forgotten about his trip with these kids to see his mum. It was impossible to leave now. Vicky was angry with him and why shouldn't she be. He was angry with himself for forgetting his own children. His kids must be so disappointed. He clenched his fists, forcing himself not to hit the wall out of frustration, but instead, he ran a hand through his hair. The tirade of words and her anger swept over him like a wave. When he just accepted every accusation she could find, she faltered. She was used to much more protest and a much bigger fight, but there was nothing. On the contrary, it was more as if he knew she was right and he wordlessly welcomed the words of fury. It was suspicious.
“Dave, what is going on?” she asked, her voice still angry, but it had a tone of curiosity to it.
“Listen, Vicky, I can't right now. Tell the kids, I will come around the next few days, I don't know when, but I will. I will make up for it, I promise. I wished I could undo it, but I will think of something and will make up for it, okay? But I honestly need to go now.”
“But David, what...” she further attempted but was broken off by David. “Not now, Vicky. I need to go, alright. Speak to you later.” and with that, he hung up the phone, feeling guilty, not for ending the phone call but for the idea of Ella and Charlie waiting for him to pick them up.
The mix of frustration, guilt and worry, coupled with not nearly enough sleep and fuelled an almost toxic mood, he was glad he was by himself. He decided to continue with his plan of taking a shower, getting some sleep and making coffee. It wouldn't make sense to drink coffee now, he mused and left the kitchen.
Even though it took a while to actually get some rest, he knew he'd need it, especially since Julia had called him and told him to come around in the evening only, because Mike Travis and her assistant would come around and she didn't know when they would leave.
Despite the fact he hated not being there for her all the time, he knew that she was in the best possible care and running into Mike Travis or any other colleagues when he was off duty as well as not her PPO anymore, might strike everyone as suspicious. With that, he turned around once more and eventually drifted off to sleep.
Julia spent the entirety of her day, reading, answering e-mails and meeting with Mike Travis. Well, the meeting was a bit of an overstatement. She was sat in a rather comfortable armchair whilst Mike Travis had seated himself on the couch next to it, sitting at a weird angle, which only stressed how much he seemed to feel like a fish on dry land.
As much as she hated delegating some of her work onto him, she knew it was necessary and he had been her right-hand man for too long, so she didn't see why on earth he should not be able to take over for one week. It really wasn't too much to ask, and she let him know. She had no time for his insecurities and his soft way of wanting to deal with things.
As if on cue, a nurse came in just when she was ready to throw him out to bring dinner. He truly had been saved by the nurse. Her mood had grown more foul, she was yet in another room she didn't know, David was not by her side, Mike Travis had gone on her nerves and her assistant had forgotten to bring some of the documents she had asked for. When she was finally on her own, it was past the visitors time.
The next day wasn't much different. David had come around first thing in the morning but was ushered out by yet another nurse and subsequently had been confined to his desk. He would have to hit the gym later, to get out some of his pent-up energy, to get all the anxiety out of his system, he mused.
His colleagues had initially asked him why he had chosen to stop working for the Home Secretary. Was she really such a cold-heartless bitch as some called her? Others, like Kim, were surprised at the decision since she knew that you could get one with the woman in question very well. His answers had been very one-worded and eventually, they realized they would not get a proper answer out of him.
While David was working, Julia attempted a balance of relaxing and work. She had managed to get some books and started reading, but being cooped up in a room all day, eventually made her antsy and anxious to a point that she ended up working more than she wanted. She needed to get her mind off the fact that she was still waiting for the test results to see if her baby was fine or not.
After the second and last night at the hospital, she was a nervous wreck. As hard as every one of the staff tried to help her and accommodate her, she was ready to kill if she didn't get back home soon. At this point, relaxed was not what she was. She was tense, irritable and might have had yet another panic attack covered up as a tantrum, hadn't it been for David, who had taken the day off.
When Dr Campbell finally entered the room shortly after she had gotten dressed, with some documents in hand, Julia thought her heart would stop beating altogether. She was sitting on her bed once again and was now nearly gripped her bedsheets and almost immediately accepted David's hand when he sneaked a finger across her hand. It was a bit strange to show this kind of affection in a public space, but theoretically speaking there was nothing holding them back now, he wasn't her PPO anymore.
At the moment nothing mattered more than Julia and the news.
The consultant looked at David enquiringly but when neither Julia nor David made any attempt to make him leave and neither of them gave further explanation as to why he wouldn't leave, she began.
“So, Miss Montague, we have the results of the hCG blood test. Since it's confidential information, I have to make sure that you are alright with sharing said information.”
The doctor halted and looked at her patient expectantly. Julia merely nodded, cleared her throat and attempted to speak. She was surprised she sounded as normal as she did.
“Yes, that's perfectly fine.” and refused to let go of his hand.
“After running this first test and analyzing the results, we didn't notice any alarming levels that might suggest a miscarriage. The hCG levels are where they are supposed to be. What you suffered from is what we call a threatened miscarriage. To completely rule out a miscarriage, we have to take yet another blood sample and run another test. But I will forward those results to your local gynaecologist. She might also need to have another ultrasound at the end of the week.”
Julia just gaped at the woman in front of her. What did this mean? Was it going to be okay? Thankfully, she had David with her this time, who voiced his confusion.
“So, does this mean it's looking good?”
“Not to jinx it, but yes it does. I am cautiously optimistic. You will know for certain at the end of this week. So, all we need now is some more blood and then you are free to go. Bed rest still and no stress still applies when you are back at home.”
With that Dr Campbell bid her goodbye and left the room, while the nurse smiled and moved forwards to tie the rubber tourniquet on Julia's forearm and Julia instinctively squeezed David's hand even harder when she felt the negative pressure in the needle, then the blood leaving her body.
“That's it. Thank you, ma'am.” Julia couldn't hold back a sigh of relief when the ordeal was over and nodded to the man who now took off his rubber gloves.
A bit later, she was finally on her way back home. The prognosis had taken some pressure off her. But not entirely. Everything could still sway for the worst-case scenario. She was sure she'd be bored out of her mind and might be ready to kill at the end of the week, but she knew the doctor had been right. She needed to listen to her body and give it the rest it needed to allow her child to grow. It might just be the longest week of her life, she contemplated and looked out of the window, at last, not really registering what route they took back to her flat.
She had been right about that. The days seemed to stretch into weeks. By the time it was Tuesday, she thought days couldn't turn even direr. She also wasn't sure if her cabin fever drove her up the wall or if it was the fact that she still didn't have any certainty. But her appointment with her gynaecologist, Dr Wilson, was only on Friday and that certainly didn't increase her mood. On the contrary, by Thursday she had managed to drive away everyone. Well, everyone but her assistant who had to give her daily reports on the goings-on at the Home Office. She didn't really have any other choice. David wouldn't leave, he was her constant. She wasn't even sure how she would have managed the week without his calm, soothing presence.
Another thing she was surprised by was that there wasn't more about her absence in the media. Had Roger become that lax? Or did he try and gather information until he was ready to let the bomb drop at some point later? Whatever sources he claimed. In case everything ran smoothly, she wouldn't be able to hide it forever, but she certainly wouldn't acknowledge any rumours Roger spread. Whatever the reason, she was glad, she had still some time to prepare herself.
The night before the big day rolled around, ended with the only way that allowed Julia to fall asleep, still fighting bouts of morning sickness at night. Being spooned up with David. Sex was out of the question this week, as much as she hated it. Doctor's orders. But David drawing random patterns on her stomach as she tried to fall asleep had an effect on her, she had never thought possible. It was soothing, calming and put her mind at ease.
When she woke up the next morning, still wrapped up in his arms, she wasn't sure for a moment what day it was. All she knew was that she was warm, cosy and he was there.
She blinked, her look fell towards the window. Soft sunlight drifted through the window. Everything was still quiet and peaceful. Nothing would suggest that today would be such a pivotal day that would change the course of her future. She was electrified when it finally dawned on her, that it was indeed Friday and she tensed. Gone was every feeling of tranquillity.
The man engulfing her from behind stirred at her unease.
“Morning,” she heard him mumble and felt kisses trail down her neck and shoulder, which didn't really ease her anxiety. Only when she turned her head towards him and he kissed her tenderly, did she ease ever so slightly.
“I just want it to be over,” she mumbled almost inaudibly. If David hadn't been quite literally joined to the hip with her at the moment, he might not have understood what she had said, it was such a quiet admission.
“Everything will be alright, love.”
A shaky sigh escaped her and she stared at the wall opposite her, trying to fight the fear she had mostly managed to keep at bay the past few days, but which now seemed to take revenge and hit her full force. After another moment, she stirred.
“I need to get dressed.”
The moment of vulnerability was over. Now was not the time for it. So, she made her best attempt to distance herself from her emotions.
The only good thing about this day was that the appointment was early in the day. It was the first time in all those days where she had been forced to have bedrest that she didn't miss work and her office, the buss of the employees and the debates. The only thing that bugged her was the fact that her new PPO would have to accompany them. David would arrive at the practice straight from work and would not want to out himself as her boyfriend just like that. Neither of them was ready for that and both wanted to try and go under the radar. At least as long as they still could.
Arriving at her gynaecologist's practice, at last, after a car ride that seemed entirely too long, she was grateful to see David sitting in the waiting room already, tapping his foot nervously whilst doing so. As he saw her she thought she saw him sigh in relief.
Her new PPO, a fellow colleague of David's, was surprised, to say the least upon seeing his colleague and the Principal's former PPO waiting for her already. But her reaction of moving towards him without asking him to have David removed or at least ask what he´s doing here, least of all he got there, made it impossible to do anything about it and so he just watched, the depth of their relationship dawning on him.
Her PPO did stay professional, but he couldn't help but wonder if he should report what he saw? Or should he just let it slide? He didn't know. It was a situation he had never been in before.
David merely nodded at Sergeant Compston and then focused on the Home Secretary who was ushered into Dr Wilson's office immediately, followed by David.
“Good Morning, Miss Montague, sir, how are you?”
The woman had greeted Julia, the moment David had closed the door behind himself.
“I would feel better if I finally knew, what the hell is going on with our child.”
At this point, Julia has had it. All the waiting and all the stalling as it seemed now had turned her anxiety and fear into irritability.
Her gynaecologist knew her patient and didn't deter her the least bit. Instead, she simply smiled and moved on.
“Please, have a seat.” she invited the couple to sit down before she continued. “I have received the results of the second hCG blood test and Dr Campbell also send me your ultrasound results. I don't find it necessary to have yet another ultrasound,” once again she paused to look at her patient.
“I am happy to say that the results are positive. The levels are quite satisfactory and normal. In other words, your child is fine. But you need to ease up on your workload and your stress. You may work, but you have to know that your child and your body are a priority.”
She wasn't sure if Julia had ever been quite as relieved. The genuine smile on her face and the squeeze of David's hand, while looking at her intensely, showed just how happy the parents-to-be were.
Even Dr Wilson saw that if those two could weather this, nothing could throw them off.
Chapter 9: Resolving the Tension
David and Julia deal with his betrayal of trust and the fact that he spied on her while still being her PPO. Will Julia forgive him?
First of all, thank you all so, so much for all the brilliant feedback and for all the questions concerning a new chapter. I am truly happy you enjoy this story so much. I know it's been ages since I last updated this. But in my defence, work has been so stressful the past few weeks and I only got time now since I have some days off. On top of work, I also had to fight writer's block and didn't really know where I should go with this story. I am so glad I found a way because abandoning is not really an option. I hope you enjoy it and fingers crossed, my next chapter will be finished sooner than this one. x
Julia didn’t want to go back to her own flat that night. Too negative were her feelings towards it at the moment. Being cooped up in it, not knowing what would happen, if everything was going to be okay or not, fighting her own anxiety while being forced to stay in her cage, harboured the wish to stay away from this place for at least one night.
Instead, she ordered her driver to plan a different destination, much to her PPO’s horror.
“Ma’am, it isn’t safe. We first need to check the area and then order guards for you.”
“It’s Camden, not the Middle-East, for God’s sake,” Julia snapped exasperatedly at having her PPO tell her what she could and could not do. Not even David could do that and he got away with a lot.
Julia left absolutely no room for discussion. Grudgingly her PPO gave in, but only under the condition that he would check the area and the flat first before she could exit the car. She had rolled her eyes at that but knew from experience with David that it was his duty and making his job even harder, would only make life harder for her. She had to work together with him and bear him.
Before long they had arrived in the area where David’s flat was located. Her PPO had adjusted to the idea, but he was still throwing her one or the other annoyed look, which she expertly ignored by trying to catch up on some work.
It was light work only, mainly catching up on emails, backing up Mike’s work and his torrent of questions and making preparations for her campaign. That was one thing she could and would not get out of, pregnant or not. Still, it was considerably less than the hours and the workload she had had before the incident.
Julia sighed and looked up from her phone. It had been a while since she’d last been to Camden. Now that she thought of it, the last time she had actually been here was at a funeral in Highgate Cemetery. She had not been to his flat before, but she knew where it was and she had his keys.
Despite David’s unease to let her go by herself, he didn’t have any other choice. He was detained at work and couldn’t let himself be deterred from letting her go if they didn’t want any involuntary attention.
So, now, her PPO was checking the area and his flat while she waited for the get-go. The area itself seemed peaceful and quiet as she had remembered it to be, so she hoped he would be back sooner rather than later.
Almost impatiently did she sit in the back of the car, waiting whilst tapping her fingers on her briefcase.
“Everything seems to be in order, ma’am,” Sergeant Compston relented at last once he had come back.
The urge throw yet another biting remark at her PPO once more was almost too great to resist. Everything had to be unnecessarily complicated. She slid out of the car, holding her briefcase, following the man inside the building.
“Next time, I will make sure there are guards posted outside. This is impossible now, so I will have a quick search around the premises and will alert you of any suspicious activities.”
She didn’t acknowledge this with an answer, as it was completely futile and time-consuming on top. He didn’t say anymore but swiftly left her, as soon as he had let her into David’s flat - albeit after yet another swift search through it.
Agitated, she finally set down her suitcase on the nearest table and looked around. It was exactly as she had expected it to be. A typical bachelor’ home: sparsely furnished, except for the essentials. The walls were mostly bare. The only thing that adorned them were pictures of either his kids or drawings his kids had made. It didn’t matter where she looked, it all was in the same style. It definitely lacked a woman’s touch. She even doubted that a woman had ever spent the night here. When she moved to see where the bedroom was located, she was relieved to see that he at least had a king-size bed if there was not much else in it either, besides a bedside table, a chair and a cupboard.
Once she had finished her little tour through his humble abode, she settled down on his couch with a cup of tea and a blanket she had found in his bedroom. Ever since the scare, she had dialled it down a notch but was still working. Partly because her campaign was still ongoing and she had no intention of dropping out of the game and partly because she would lose her mind if she didn’t. In order to keep her high level of mental health, she needed to work. It helped her stay balanced.
For the first time in days, she felt she could breathe again. Having escaped the confinements of her own flat, she could finally get some perspective on things again, catch up on work without feeling crushed by the pandemonium of thoughts she had battled with over the past few days. Despite the fact that there was nothing homey about David’s flat, it was David’s flat. She found him in every nook and corner and that was more comforting and liberating than her overly observed place at the moment.
She began flicking through her notes and the various pages of research, for an upcoming TV debate and eventually began reading while scribbling notes to the sides of the pages every once in a while. At the same time, she unconsciously caressed her little baby belly. She had taken up the habit almost seamlessly after getting the positive news that their little Montague-Budd was fine.
By now her stomach was still far from being as round as those of other women at the same stage of their respective pregnancies, but there was unmistakably something. You could still mistake it for bloating or mere overindulgence. But there it was. Julia couldn’t help but let a small smile play around her lips, whenever she saw it in the morning. Caressing it, as foolish as it sounded, comforted her and just made her feel good. According to science, this also applied to her child. So she kept doing it, while talking to it, now and again. Only when she was alone, of course.
She had been so engrossed in her reading, that she didn’t hear the key turn in the lock. That’s how David found her: her hand running through her hair and furrowing her brows, with her legs crossed in a Buddha position on the couch, underneath a blanket. It truly was a sight for sore eyes. If someone had told him a couple of months ago, that his future would entail RH Julia Montague MP, candidate for PM, sitting on his couch of his flat, expecting his child, he would have thought them completely insane. Yet he now could not imagine a present or a future without her.
He entered the living room as quietly as possible as not to startle her and rouse her out of her thoughts since he knew how irritable that could make her these days. Only when he softly said her name, it brought her out of her focus and let her look up from her work.
“David,” she breathed and stretched her stiff limbs like a cat, while he leaned down to kiss her tenderly and grazed her cheek.
“Hey,” he mumbled against her lips. “Sorry, I am late, love. Work’s been absolute chaos today. I hope your PPO didn’t give you such a hard time with your request.”
At that, Julia merely rolled her eyes and scoffed. “I was surprised he didn’t call his superior to ask permission…”
They still hadn’t had that one essential talk. So far, neither had had the willpower, nor the strength to broach the subject. But it was pending and the idea of that conversation still hung over them like a dark cloud. Tip-toeing around the subject really could not last forever though.
He just looked at her with a sympathetic smile. It was a change for both of them. Him not being her PPO anymore. They had been so well attuned to each other. There wasn’t even a need for them to talk at some points. This was something, however, they desperately needed to do: talk.
He just had to think of how to broach the subject without turning her into a pillar of stone instantly. But, constantly having this small barrier between them, having the feeling of needing to be careful, watch your step and weigh the words you say, was becoming suffocating and as much as he hated the subject, because he knew what he had done to her, knew how much he had betrayed her trust and hurt her, he also owed it to her to be truthful. Even if it hurt and was uncomfortable.
“How are you? I brought some food, I hope you’re hungry?”
He held up a plastic bag as if to prove that it was true what he had said. Besides, she slowly seemed to start craving certain types of food and he couldn’t be quite sure if the food he had bought was the right one.
“I’m fine, tired, but fine. It’s been a long day. And yes, I am hungry. But please don’t tell me you brought chips. I don’t think I could stand chips tonight.” She eyed his plastic bag warily, before putting down the documents beside her on the couch to get up.
“You don’t have to get up, I’ll do it. Just relax… and no, it’s Chinese, not chips.”
He implored, hoping that she might listen to him and just do nothing for once. Ever since that scare, he had become one of those people who were constantly worried. Adding to this that he was not around all the time anymore, only increased concern.
“I need the loo,” she replied slightly irritated, giving him the tiniest of glares and didn’t acknowledge his choice of dinner, which in David’s eyes was her way of consenting to it. Otherwise, she would have said so. They were still treading on eggshells, especially now, with her pregnancy hormones magnifying everything. Maybe he would find a moment after dinner, he mused.
With that plan in mind, he busied himself in the kitchen to get some plates, refill her tea and get himself a beer.
Dinner itself was a rather pleasant undertaking. He knew that as soon as she had some food, her mood would improve. That had nothing to do with her pregnancy. Generally, she could get demanding if she was hungry. Being pregnant only brought out that aspect of hers. Some might take that the wrong way, but David found it rather enchanting. He bit back a smile as she bit into yet another spring roll.
“What?” she asked confused, licking her greasy fingers. For the first time today she was not really thinking about anything in particular.
“Nothing” he tried to avert her curious gaze and quickly sought to change the subject before she could probe any further. Being playful and overly emotional now would be fine under any other circumstances, but not with this sensitive undercurrent present.
She looked at him for a moment longer before she focused back on her food. One thing he enjoyed about being with Julia was that there never seemed to be an awkward silence. Neither of them really forced themselves to talk if there was no need for it. Today was one of those days when both seemed to have too much on their minds with work among other things to actually talk. This applied to David in particular. It wasn’t just the upcoming conversation he was faced with, but also a decision he had made, that would have an impact on both of their lives. No, it would have an impact on all of their lives, the little one’s included. For a few more moments, he used the silence to brood over how he might tell her the piece of news when his train of thought was interrupted by her.
“What is it? I can hear you thinking from over here.” It was a mix between exhaustion, exasperation and inquisitiveness. She really knew him too well, he thought bitterly. Now there really was no way back. He had to drop the bomb.
“I decided to apply for detective training. I don’t think I can stand desk duty for much longer, shuffling around papers has never been a strength of mine and was definitely not the reason why I became a police officer. Being a PPO for one of your colleagues is, quite frankly, out of the question. I think if I was to protect your ex-husband, I’d really rather push him in front of an oncoming bus than save him from it. No offence. And…”
Julia smirked at the image he had put in her mind with his last remark. “I think that’s a great idea - the detective training, not pushing Roger in front of a bus, that is. Although it’s not the worst idea,” was her reply, before he could finish.
There was no trace of irritation on her face anymore. Quite on the contrary. She had dropped her food and gave him the ghost of a smile. “I’m glad you did. You are no pencil pusher. In fact, I hadn’t expected anything else.”
Time and again, he thought he knew Julia. But every once in a while, she managed to surprise him. “You do? You are aware of all the extra hours and the training, I will have to undertake. Not to mention the exam…”
His sheepish remark, made it more than apparent that he had not expected such a reaction. This time it was her who had to bite back a smile, with the difference that she did a much better job. It was her daily bread to conceal her emotions.
“Well… it won’t be me who has to work the extra hours and will have to take the exam.”
Her dry comment left him dumbstruck. After another beat, he replied without sounding quite as pathetic and whiny as he felt “You know what I mean…”
“I know…” Julia finally receded with a small smile, letting him off the hook at last. “I know. There will be a way.”
It was now or never. With their relaxed atmosphere and her mood, there simply was no better moment than this one. He took a final sip of his beer, looked over at Julia who had just set down her tea mug on the table again.
“Julia, I’m sorry.” His admission came out quietly.
The silence that followed his quiet apology was almost deafening. Gone was the seemingly easy-going atmosphere. The second he had uttered those words, Julia had stiffened like he had predicted she would.
“David…” she started, but got interrupted by a pleading, that was quite unlike him. She stilled and looked at him. He was running a hand through his curly hair, begging her to look at him with those blue, now desperate eyes. She did.
“Julia, please, just hear me out. You don’t have to say anything. But just listen to me… please?” the last word had come out so imploringly, yet so quietly, that again, she couldn’t do anything but nod and listen.
She thought back to a Julia Montague a year ago, how she would have reacted to such begging. People that begged usually got exactly the opposite of what they wanted. Begging was a sign of uncertainty and insecurity. Begging only happened when people had no confidence and in her job, Julia had no time for people who were lacking that. Usually, she wouldn’t give them even five minutes of her time. Simply, she because she had no patience for muttering and stuttering and guessing what they wanted from her. Julia regarded herself as a compassionate person, who tried to live by Atticus Finch’s words of having to consider the other person’s point of view, to walk around in their skin. But her compassion didn’t go that far. She still had a time schedule and more pressing matters. So, she usually ended up treating people who begged in one of two ways: She either ignored them or she gave them a run down. That, however, depended on how those insecure people approached her.
David, however, well, David was a different matter. He always had been. He was confident and never had had an issue telling her a piece of his mind if she asked for it or not. It had stuck out to her, from the very beginning. This and his strong sense of duty to just help and save this train with all those passengers in it. Those two attributes had stuck out to her, almost just as strongly as his good looks and those damn, gorgeous blue eyes.
But she doubted that Julia Montague, a year ago, would have made an exception for him if he had come to her begging. Maybe she would have, but she definitely wouldn’t have done it so willingly. A lot had happened between then and now. She hadn’t fallen in love with him back then yet. That was his big advantage now. She loved him. Despite the fact that he had hurt her so deeply, used her trust, she loved him. Cursing him, shouting at him, banishing him from her bed, couldn’t help change her feelings for him. A life without him was something she could not and was not able to imagine.
So, she listened to him, however uncertain she was on how to forgive him.
David had thought of a dozen different ways on how this conversation might go down. He had tried to come up with what would say in each of those scenarios, he had tried to plan it. In contrast to her, words had never been his strong suit. Actions had always been louder than words. It had been that way he grew up and it also had been that way when he decided to enter the military. Even now, in his job as a police sergeant, words were still secondary to him.
But he needed those words now. He tried to force the words he wanted to say back into mind. Though, no matter how hard he tried, every possible conversation he had planned, had vanished into thin air. So, now his words would surely tumble out of his mouth and be anything but articulate and he’d surely risk his neck with his careless talk, hoping Julia would eventually understand and forgive him.
“Spying on you had never been part of the deal when I became your PPO. I was to protect you and that was that. It was a step up, even if you initially represented everything I hated: a Tory who had never been out there, didn’t know what was going on in the real world but who had sent me and my buddies out to war.”
David stopped for a minute, looking at her intently, waiting for a reaction, wondering if he had gone too far. She had stiffened ever so slightly but still listened, with her hand unwittingly stroking her little baby belly. After a moment’s pause, he continued.
“...It wasn’t exactly the way I had wanted it, me a Labour man from a rural town in Scotland, who had never had the opportunities someone else might have had. That was the prelude. Then we met and I quickly noticed that you were different than how the public had painted you. You weren’t the cold, stuck-up, manipulative bitch Chanel had warned me about.”
A scoff from Julia told him that still, she resented her former assistant, especially hearing the words she had uttered about her. He didn’t let himself be deterred and continued before he feared his courage might leave him.
“You were open, compassionate, confident, warm, brave, beautiful, yes, sassy and just so fucking attractive. I honestly hadn’t accounted for that… and for falling in love with you. My superiors had put me up to this job, knowing that we were from two different worlds. That’s when both Craddock and Sampson thought it would be easy to use me to get to you. Get information on you to ruin your career.”
Julia’s face was stony at this point. It was impossible to read her thoughts. Damn, he hated when she used her political skills when they were together. He might as well talk himself into trouble and he wouldn’t know because she wouldn’t let him read her.
“One day, Craddock called me into her office. Sampson was there, too. They began to explain how you trust me, but how dangerous you are and that it is essential to get information on you. They started asking me about you and your meetings with Hunter-Dunn. Both at this point tried to ambush me. I neither had nor would have shared anything with them. Sampson in particular, took it personally, that you took the 1/10 attack off her. That’s when they tried to manipulate me, get me to report on everything you did or said. They then handed me a black suitcase with all the bugging materials I apparently needed. Even back then I highly questioned their motifs, asked if it was all lawful and told them I’d rather stick to my duties as your PPO. But they wouldn’t listen and continued trying to dig holes into my opinion about you, plant seeds for doubt. They brought up my kids and how you had been aware that they had been a target. That’s when I started asking all those questions…”
Julia had stopped her ministrations on her belly the second, he had mentioned his kids. He knew that despite the fact that she hadn’t met them, at least not yet, bringing in innocent people into anything, was something she abhorred. So he continued, explaining how they kept calling him back into Craddock’s office, asked for information and those reports, told her that they hadn’t put him into that adjoining room for nothing when he once again had come up with nothing.
“I thought they would drop it, get the hint that I didn’t want to be their pawn in their little power play.” David took a deep breath before he continued. Julia still hadn’t said anything. She had listened, how he had asked her to.
“One day, however, when Craddock wanted to see me again, it didn’t go down the usual path, of me telling her, there was nothing to report and her to let me know what a poor job I was doing. No, this time, she just looked at me and told me that she wasn’t quite sure how long they’d be able to afford the safe house and she needed information.”
At this, David couldn’t continue. He needed to compose himself, try and get his anger under control. Compared to Julia, he did an appalling job of hiding his emotions. At least in front of her.
He was quite right. The moment he had stopped talking, she could see how his face contorted with suppressed rage. This whole story didn’t make his spying any less painful, but it did explain some things. Her anger had far from subsided, but it wasn’t solely directed at him anymore, but now was also directed towards his superiors. David had talked more than he had all those months she had known him, which told her just how much this must have weighed him down. Yet, at the same time she had the feeling, he wasn’t quite finished yet and just waited. For him to compose himself and for him to give her any indication that he might be finished.
When David looked up at Julia at last, she could see that the anger was still very much simmering beneath the surface, but he was in control over them again.
“I had no other choice. I tried not to give them anything that seemed important to me. I didn’t want to give them anything. When I listened in on your conversations it was also out of concern for you. I trusted absolutely none of the people you met. But still, they had put me into an impossible position with my back against the wall. I either had my kids’ safety in jeopardy or had to rat out the woman I had fallen in love with. I wanted neither. I am so sorry Julia, I honestly tried the best I could. I am so, so sorry.”
His accent had become increasingly thick throughout his speech and had now reached an ultimate high, now that he was finished. His were eyes begging for understanding and forgiveness.
The seconds stretched on forever as it seemed and Julia still didn’t say anything. David had thought he had tried his best to explain his situation, but her lack of response worried him. His stomach twisted into one big knot. His breathing had become very shallow and his eyes couldn’t settle on hers but kept averting her gaze. Yet she did nothing to get him out of his misery. For a moment he imagined, that one scenario he never wanted to become reality but stay merely a nightmare. In it, she had gotten up and left him, without so much as a goodbye. Would that be the end now?
Fear clutched at his heart when she wordlessly got up and walked towards the hall. David was petrified for a second, before his inner soldier turned up and he heard himself croak “Julia, please…”
Nevertheless, Julia said nothing but kept her strut purposefully slow, putting just a little more emphasis on her hips before she turned around to him and threw him a look that left no room for doubt or discussion. She was in control over him, she had him and his future in her hand and she knew it. Still, he almost didn’t dare to believe it, but he thought he saw the desire in those hazel eyes of hers. Surely, that couldn’t be.
David felt like a fish out of water. He had absolutely no idea what was going on in her head. If she turned left, he knew he had lost her. She would walk out of his flat and his nightmare scenario would be a cruel reality. But she didn’t. Instead, she turned around one last time and gave him a look that was unmistakable. She wanted him. Before he could react and get up, she finally spoke.
“Come on,” her voice was husky and low. David was quite simply stunned. Julia never ceased to amaze him. None of the scenarios he had painted out in his head, had her react such a sultry way. If she had forgiven him, was still a mystery to him, but the answer to that would have to wait.
She had already rounded the corner when his legs felt strong enough to support him again. His bloodstream had finally included them again, and not just them. The second, she had thrown him that provocative look, he had felt himself stiffen.
Last time she had done this, she has waited for him only to slowly stripping off every piece of clothing, before she had allowed for him to touch her.
This time it was an entirely different matter. Julia had given him control and full reign over her body last time. That was when she still had had the feeling of being in control over everything else in her life when she hadn’t felt threatened that life would undermine her, take away the confidence and the feeling of always knowing what to do and how to achieve that. That one fateful week and David’s confession both had compromised more of that reliance than she was ready to admit.
Somehow she had to regain that feeling of knowing that she could be in control, that she had the power. It was an almost innate need, not just for herself but for the little life growing inside of her, as well. Hence she didn’t give him one minute to contemplate on what to do when he entered his bedroom as she practically slammed him against the wall.
There was nothing gentle or slow about it as she planted one of the most arousing and fiery kisses on his lips. He almost felt her desire to handle things and was only too willing to hand over his control to her.
It had been quite a bit since they last had sex. First, there had been the news of his spying and later they hadn’t been allowed to. If she had let him, was another question entirely, which didn’t really matter now. All that mattered at the moment was Julia and how her hot tongue felt against his, how she absolutely took over his senses, how she had her body pressed against his.
Every touch, every bite of her on his lower lip, every swipe of her tongue was magnified tenfold. She was intoxicating and that made it impossible to stay comfortable in his pants. They had become so tight at this point, he was afraid he might come before they had even made it to his bed.
As much of a turn on as it was to have her dictate the pace, he needed her out of her clothes and in bed as fast as he could. She gave him another searing hot kiss before he pushed her back to pull her shirt over her head. It was a bit of a battle between them, between kisses, bites and moans, but eventually, he had her out of it, clad only in a black bra and her slacks. Her hair fell in messy waves on her shoulder, her lips were deliciously swollen and her eyes had turned so black with desire, it was absolutely irresistible.
Once again, he made an attempt on gaining at least some control to get her over to the bed. Again, he was held back by her, pushing him back against the wall.
“No, not yet.” she breathed against his neck as she sucked hard on his pulse point and continued to remove his own shirt. David was only too willing to shed any piece of clothing, to have her hot skin on hers, feeling every curve of her body.
Before he could run his fingers through her hair and put his lips back on hers, she had his fly unzipped and freed his now pulsating member. He was driven almost out of his mind, as she took hold of it to free it from its confines of his boxer briefs and gave it a few good strokes. His head dropped back against the wall, hissing in relief and pleasure of feeling her nails scratch against him.
Just then when the pleasure came in short, how waves she stopped and let go of him. He opened his eyes in confusion. Julia, however, had unbuttoned her own trousers at last and made a few steps back towards the bed with such an illicit look, it was a surprise he didn’t push her on the bed right then and there. It was her night, however, she was in control. With two strides towards her, they were pressed against each other again, now quickly discarding the remaining clothes, excepting for her bra.
She pushed him on the bed at long last, straddled him and finally unhooked her bra and flung it across the room. Never in his life had David seen something quite as erotic as the image of Julia on top of him, with her curves having become slightly more voluptuous and gradually apparent that she was carrying their child.
He put his hands on her hips and let her do the rest. That she did. She let herself glide against him, moaning and ultimately increasing his desire for some final release until she finally took him out of his misery, sank down on him with a groan and began to ride him.
David felt absolutely incredible, the way he stretched her and the way her hormones seemed to help her desire even more.
She was finally in control and she could feel her body betray her as it was nearing the climax already. Usually, she was lasting much longer, was able to prolong the experience, but today she simply didn’t have it in her. In a frenzy, she rode themselves to completion
David wasn’t much different. The way she moved above him and around him, gasping, moaning, digging her nails into his chest, while he had one of his hands on her breasts, was unlike anything, he had ever experienced before. So, when he felt her walls clench around him, squeeze him, barely holding back a scream, he was unable to last for any longer as felt himself on completely fire, when he came with a grunt.
Both of them crumbled like sandcastles. Julia lay on top of him, limbless, exhausted. She felt David brush her hair out of her face and looked back up at him to place a lingering kiss on his chest before moving further up to stroke his cheek and kiss him on his lips.
After a few more moments, when the two lovers had recovered from their lovemaking, he pulled a sheet over them while she rolled off him, just to snuggle into his side, their legs still entangled.
Those post-coital moments were some of her favourite moments with David. It was just them, open and vulnerable. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else was important.
Julia had her ear against his chest and listened to his heartbeat while drawing random shapes against his chest and his scars. She didn’t think she could ever get enough of him. Just as drowsiness threatened to overwhelm her, she took another deep breath and lifted her head from his chest to look in his eyes.
David seemed just as blissful and she felt, ready to drift into a peaceful slumber. He smiled at her, giving her one of his rare smiles. It was contagious for she could not help but return his soft smile and place another lazy kiss on his lips.
“I understand you,” Julia murmured when she had drawn back from his lips. “It might not have been right to keep it from me, but I understand you and I forgive you.”
She drew a shaky breath. David realized that her admission must have cost her a lot. His heart swelled with pride and relief and he leaned back down and tried to put all of his emotions into this kiss.
“I love you, Julia,” he mumbled against her mouth. “So much.” This was answered by a hum against his mouth and scraping of fingers along his scalp.
This time their kiss gradually became more intense and developed into more than just a leisure kiss. It quickly intensified and his tongue once again sought entrance into her mouth.
Just then his doorbell rang. Both of them stopped in their tracks and looked towards the door.
“Are you expecting anyone?”
Her bewilderment was met with concern. Nobody knew that she was here. In fact, nobody should know that she was here in an unprotected flat in Camden. But it wasn’t just that. Theoretically, there was nothing wrong with their relationship, now that he wasn’t her PPO anymore. She knew she wouldn’t be able to keep the secret for much longer. Nevertheless, she would try and fight for her privacy and their time together.
But at this moment, despite everything, she was anxious. She hadn’t prepared herself for a possible avalanche
“No… I’ll go and have a look. You stay here.”
With that, David clambered off her and located his boxers and an old shirt before he made a beeline to the door, after closing his bedroom door. All Julia could hear now, were his muffled footsteps and his voice dull asking the person on the door who they were. As hard as she tried, she couldn’t make out an answer. So, Julia climbed out of his bed herself and pulled on the pair of sweatpants she found on the chair and the shirt he had discorded earlier. Still, there was nothing she could make out. Had he let them in? Where they in the kitchen? The lack of footsteps coming back made her wonder. For the moment at least, she waited.
David, on the other hand, had been taken aback by the person who had been waiting, rather impatiently, at the other side of the door.
“Mum,” he staggered. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, if you checked your phone every once in a while, you’d have seen me call. Several times. London traffic is simply awful. I drove into the completely wrong direction, twice, before I realized.”
A small woman with a kind face and an exhausted, no-nonsense kind of expression pushed herself past him into his flat. David closed the door, completely dumbfounded.
“What are you doing here?” David repeated dumbly, not really understanding what his mother of all people was doing in London. It had been years since she had last been here.
Chapter 10: Breaking the News
The new guest is here and causes some serious emotional turbulence.
I tried my best at this. When I finished the draft initially, I was quite content with it. Now however, after going through it again, I am not so sure. But you'll judge it yourself.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
His mother was in London. The woman who had once said she would not want to visit him in this “dirty big city” again unless there was an emergency. What could have possibly motivated her to come here after all? He couldn’t think of any reason. But then, he wasn’t really in the state of being able to think straight. It was almost as if his brain had momentarily frozen.
The fact that she stood here in his hallway, also proved to be complicated for a couple of reasons. One reason was hiding out in the bedroom. His mother neither knew he was seeing someone nor did she know who and he also hadn’t told her of her new grandchild yet. Pictures of the ice-bucket challenge came to his mind and he found the comparison oddly fitting.
David’s shock must have been wildly apparent to his mother who by now had moved further down the hallway.
“Don’t just stand there. Put my bag into the bedroom. Stop gawping at me! The way down here was long enough as it was.”
That was reason enough to get going and stop staring at her.
“Kitchen - umm - why don’t we go in the kitchen first and I’ll fix you a cuppa. I can still put your bag in the kids’ bedroom later.”
Mrs Budd eyed him suspiciously for a moment and then seemed to let it slide only to further observe his son’s odd behaviour before she confronted him with it.
“Aye, alright,” was the wary reply before she padded into the kitchen, letting go of her little trolley.
David was on autopilot. Trying not to make the anxiety of her visit too obvious, he turned around to busy himself with the water kettle, making a feeble attempt of hiding the tremor in his hands. His mind was reeling. This made the task of making a simple cup of tea infinitely more difficult.
It should be easy: boiling water, putting the tea bag into a mug, pouring in the boiling water and wait. His mother’s arrival had put him off so completely, however, that he reached for the fridge and opened it and looked into it absentmindedly before closing it again, realising that was acting like a complete idiot.
“David what is going on?” his mother asked after watching his feeble attempts of making tea and looking casual.
After having finally mastered to put the tea bag into the mug, without smashing something in the meantime, he looked around at his mother sitting at his kitchen table.
“Nothing... Mum, what are you doing here?” after a pregnant pause, he finally asked the one question that had been predominant in his mind.
She ignored his question and looked at him sharp-eyed, not believing a single word he had said so far: “David, what is it?”
“Nothing, mum. I already told you. If there was something I would have told you, wouldn’t I? I would have called.” David’s shock slowly turned into irritability. How could she just barge in like that, without so much as a notice?
“Exactly! And yet I hear absolutely nothing from you! One day you suddenly tell me you would come up with the kids and then you’re not there. I call Vicky and she is just as clueless as I am as she too expected you to pick up Ella and Charlie. Then I thought you might call to apologize and explain yourself. But again, there is nothing! So, I tried to call you and still you won’t return any of my calls. What am I supposed to do with that? Should I just sit there twirling my thumbs before my dear son finally graces me with a phone call? When he hasn’t called in a week or reacted in any way? You called me more often when you were in Afghanistan!”
Her voice had become loud and accusatory in a matter of seconds. Suddenly David felt 15 again, taken back to years when she had last used that voice with him. He felt his anger rising and his defence mechanism with it when it fell like scales from his eyes.
He had been so wrapped up in his and Julia’s little bubble that he had all but forgotten about everything and everyone around him. But he saw his mistake now. Still, the part in him that wanted to oppose her, that wanted to speak against her and be right was still predominant. He didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of being right once again just yet. So, he flared up for a second, defending himself.
“Mum! You can’t just show up and expect me to welcome you with open arms when you push me into a corner and accuse me of something!”
At this point, his emotions were less directed at her, but more at the whole situation and his anger of being forced to have gone through all of it and all the anger and unfairness towards the situation Julia had to go through and suffer.
“I - Life just happened and sometimes life’s just fucked up and there is nothing you can do about it… W - I had some personal matters and I just forgot. Okay? I just forgot!”
He had become increasingly loud and more emotional and now ran his hand over his face and through his hair in an attempt to compose himself. He had to turn around. His mother more than anyone had a knack to always bring out the emotions he suppressed and that one topic he didn’t want to talk about.
Just, he couldn't talk about it, about the week. He couldn’t talk about it without the fear of breaking down. He could be strong for Julia, had to be strong for her and the little one. Julia probably knew what a toll this also took on him, what a strain it had put on him, not knowing what was going to happen with the baby and with his future with Julia. It had almost been overwhelming. He tried to get this anger and all this negative energy out of his system by working out and by finally looking for a possible therapist. But having his mother bring up that painful subject was a whole new thing.
“David… what happened?” his mother’s annoyance had vanished into thin air. Instead, her voice had dropped to an almost concerned whisper.
His whole body was tense. He gritted his teeth and then took a deep breath, to keep the tears at bay that were threatening to spill. Not now. Of all times, he could not get emotional now and tell her.
After a few moments that felt like an eternity to David, did he finally turn around to the woman sitting at his kitchen table. Her confusion from before had been replaced and now her face was full of worry and concern for her son.
“Oh, mum…” when he looked into her pained eyes, he could not hold back his tears any longer. In a heartbeat, the small woman had wrapped up her tall boy in a hug. The tension had left his body and for a few seconds, he let his tears fall freely.
David didn’t know how long it was that he was engulfed by his mother’s arms and he could honestly not remember the last time this had happened. But the entire wall he had built up around those emotions has started to crumble. When he finally had the feeling of having composed himself somewhat, he pulled back from his mum, who caressed his cheeks with her thumbs.
“Oh, darling, everything will be alright. You don’t have to talk about it now,” she soothed her son and rubbed his arms. “Now, I suggest, you take a minute and meanwhile I go, have a wee and put my trolley in the guest room.”
Grateful for the break and for being able to collect his thoughts alone for a few moments, he nodded and explained the way to the loo and to the kids’ room right next to it, which would have to do as a guest room. He was only too glad that there was no way, she could mistake the loo from any other room, especially his bedroom. Meanwhile, his mother nodded and made her way out of the kitchen.
Unbeknownst to David, Julia had indeed kept quiet for a little while. Partly because she didn’t want to be caught, but also because she wanted to know who had had the audacity to disturb them in the middle of the night. But no matter how quiet she remained, she couldn’t make out who the intruder was. Not even when she had the door ajar. She could make out voices, but that didn’t answer any more of her questions.
Exasperated, curious and equally anxious, she tucked the front of his shirt into the waistband of his sweatpants to make her style look less baggy and somewhat more feminine and sneaked out of the room as quietly as possible to get a little closer to the voices, but at the same time slowly enough to make a quick and unnoticed retreat - if necessary. She kept herself close to the wall while doing so. Finally, she heard the voices getting more distinct.
She could clearly make out David’s voice now, loud and almost angry. He was angry with… his mother? Had the person at the door really been his mother? She listened in to hear if she was right about her suspicion. When a woman with the same kind of Scottish dialect replied, she knew she had been right. For a moment, she wasn’t sure if that was supposed to appease her nerves or make her more anxious. She wouldn’t have to worry about being exposed to the media, not by her. Besides, she was still fairly certain, Roger would do that soon if he hadn’t tipped them off already and they were only gathering more information on her. He had been awfully quiet all this time. That had always been a sign of foreboding.
But on the other hand, this was his mother. She might not have the closest and warmest relationship with her own mother. She never had had that kind of special bond. Her father had more been the person she had wanted to impress. He had always been the one she really cared for what he thought about her. Studying law and becoming a lawyer had been part of that deal also.
She did want to help and make people’s lives easier. There would have been other ways to help also. But since her father had been a lawyer and later a court judge himself, it had never been a question of what she would later become. It had been obvious to her from an early age.
Her mother, however, loved her, she was sure of that and she loved mother. But she was even more conservative in her opinions than Julia was herself. Often during her childhood and her teen years she had wondered if she cared more about etiquette, charities and garden parties than humane matters. On top of that, she had never really seen her mother much during her childhood as she has spent most of the time in a boarding school.
David, however, was different. He had a very close relationship with his mother. His sense of family was very different from hers. For him a family stuck together through thick and thin, you loved each other and accepted each other no matter what and you could always be able to come to a person when you had a problem. This was a completely different level of warmth and affection in this, as she had ever experienced herself. This was a trait, she wanted to bestow on their child.
Still, she imagined his mother to be just as strong-headed as David was and just as Labour-orientated. With the difference that David and she had acclimatised to each other’s different political convictions, even if they didn’t always see eye to eye. Still, if one thing had changed ever since she met him, it was that she had become more Labour. She might still not be the most Labour-orientated member of her party, but she had found a good mix of their opinions, which was all due to sleeping with a member of the opposing team.
But even if she was more Labour-inclined as she had been just a while ago, Julia wasn’t sure she was in the mood to meet a headstrong woman from Scotland who was ready to fight her when merely seeing her. She was tired and her morning sickness began to make itself present once again. In recent days, it had mostly abated, just every once in a while it still made a nightly appearance. Battling that and a feisty, no-nonsense kind of a woman who also would be shocked to see her son in a new relationship, was something she wanted to avoid at all costs.
Julia was just about to retreat and tiptoe back to David’s bedroom when she heard something, that tugged at her heartstrings, something she hadn’t expected to hear.
David was crying. He hadn’t revealed anything to his mother, but Julia knew what had lain so heavy on his heart. Yet he had appeared so strong throughout the whole time. She had been aware that he had been strong for her, to be her tower of strength, to be able to go through this uncertain time. Yet she had been so preoccupied, fighting off her own anxiety, she had been unable to think of anything else but what would happen if she had lost the baby.
Now, however, she felt guilty for having left him alone and not having seen that it had been just as difficult on him as it had been on her. There was nothing she wanted to do more than to walk into that kitchen, take him in her arms and kiss away the pain.
Unable to do any of the above, she stood in the hallway with bated breath, running a hand through her hair and contemplated what to do. Julia was aware that she was behaving very unlike the Julia Montague everyone thought they knew. She would have made no big deal or issue about entering the kitchen and meet whoever expected her there.
But she was not the Julia Montague of the media. This was the private Julia in her boyfriend’s flat, who felt like a fish out of water, who literally just had sex with that woman’s son and felt nauseous on top of it all, but who also wanted to see if her David was alright. All of that, however, was prevented by the elder woman.
She stood in the hallway uncertainly, not really wanting to retreat but feeling the need to, all the same, just to avoid anything she wasn’t ready for tonight. Taking a slow, steady breath, she slowly turned around once again, when she overheard his mother announce she’d go to the loo. That spurred her on to sneak off into the nearby living room.
Not really hiding from Mrs Budd either, she waited in the living room until she heard a door close. After waiting for another moment to make sure Mrs Budd didn’t come out again, she cautiously rounded the corner and made a beeline to the kitchen.
David didn’t notice her when she stepped into the kitchen. He was deeply lost in thoughts and had his back to her with his look out of the window.
“David?” Julia asked tentatively, almost gingerly, her concern visible in her face.
He turned around and he looked at her surprised. It wasn’t as if he had forgotten about her. In fact, she was on his mind constantly. But seeing her in his kitchen right now was something he hadn’t really anticipated. The emotions that had burst out water out of a dam were still out in the open, despite the fact that he tried his best to reign them in, to get them back under control. There were no tears anymore though, just pain and he couldn’t hide that from Julia either.
No words were spoken. There was no need to. She went up to him wordlessly and pulled him into a hug and relaxed upon breathing in his scent. Like the first time they had hugged, he only slowly reciprocated the sentiment, afraid to burden himself on her, to let out what was going on inside. Only when she caressed his back with her hand and buried her face in the crook of his neck did he finally relax, engulfed by the last traces of her perfume, smelling of him and of sex.
“Everything’s alright,” she whispered into his ear. “We are alright and the baby is fine. We worked through this.” Not even thinking if anyone could overhear or see them, she tried to reassure him by first placing small kisses on his neck, before placing a soft kiss on his mouth. He was slow at returning it, he was still too wrapped up in his own mind. The warmth of her lips on his brought him back to reality and out of the labyrinth of his thoughts and kissed her back slowly, sucking in her bottom lip.
“Thank you,” he murmured at last and looked at her. Julia could see that she had him back, the fog that had clouded his eyes was gone. One of her rare, yet imperceptible smiles played across her lips.
“I hope you know I love you, even though I don’t say it very often,” she had pulled back now and had her fingers intertwined with his. David gave her a last tender kiss, before grazing her cheek gently.
David looked at her for a moment and suddenly, as if only just seeing her properly.
“My mum’s here.”
Julia nodded: “Yes, that’s what I gathered.”
Still caressing her cheek, he gave a sheepish smile and said out what both were thinking: “It’s not really, the end of this evening, we had planned.”
“Mmm, not really.”
“Are you alright? You look pale,” David inquired sensitively and looked into her hazel eyes.
Their eyes locked for a second and then she looked down. This was not the moment to talk about her morning sickness, she would deal with it. He was more important and she feared that she had stayed too long with him to quietly leave for the bedroom again without being noticed by their guest. Still, she knew that telling a lie, even a white lie, would be futile. So, she disclosed with an exhale: “God, no. I feel so nauseous.”
“Sit down, I’ll get you something to help soothe it.”
With a grateful nod, Julia stepped back from him and made to sit down at his kitchen table, trying to regulate her nauseation.
“David! Do you know where - oh,” the other woman’s voice halted abruptly, not having expected anyone else in the kitchen, least of all the woman she thought the stranger was. Taken aback and equally flustered she stepped into the kitchen. Could this really be the woman she suspected it to be? Their Home Secretary? Sitting in her son’s kitchen of all people, wearing his clothes?
Momentarily overwhelmed by the situation of the two women meeting, at last, he looked between them. The stark contrast between his mother and Julia became even more apparent, now that they were faced with each other.
His mother, the Scottish wildflower who had always been suspicious of politicians, even more so, since he had been sent off to Afghanistan and Julia, who even in this attire, with her hair in wild waves framing the rather pale face, had something almost regal about her appearance. Tonight of all nights though, there couldn’t be a political debate between the two.
Judging Julia’s demeanour, she was far from having a discussion with anyone now. Her mother, however, was a whole different matter. She could always argue, day or night. The only thing he hoped for was that the shock of seeing the Home Secretary in his kitchen would render her speechless to a point that everything would run cordially and smoothly.
“Ermm - mum, that’s Julia. Julia, this is my mum,” David barely managed to croak out, still tense.
Julia made the first step, by getting up and extending her hand. “How do you do?”
“Aye, likewise, Ms Montague...,” to David’s great relief his mum didn’t know what to say indeed.
“I think meeting in your son’s kitchen at night with such an outfit,” she pointed to her clothes, “begs for you to call me Julia. There is no need for such formalities here.”
His mother finally sat down, opposite Julia, eyeing her suspiciously. David meanwhile had made another cup of fennel tea and put some crackers on the table for Julia to eat, while trying to offer some food to his mum too, who declined.
Julia smiled at David gratefully, when he handed her her fennel tea and she blew at the hot beverage, trying to cool down the temperature and finally took a sip.
For a few awkward moments, there was silence in the kitchen. Nobody really knew what to say. David was floored by the fact that this was actually happening, Julia tried to be cordial but she wasn’t feeling all too well and so her focus was more on herself than on the woman sitting opposite to her and David’s mum had taken on a remarkable resemblance with a marble statue, unmoving and distant.
“I hope you found your way down here alright?” Julia made an attempt at small talk. The tension in the room was so palpable, however, that she simply had to do something about it.
“Well, if the infrastructure of this country was better, I would have had less trouble with my trains and my busses,” Mrs Budd grumbled as a response. The only thing David wanted to do was to curl up and die. That was exactly the kind of situation he had hoped would not occur. As much as he loved his mother, she had never been the most diplomatic person who kept her opinion to herself. No matter if it was appropriate in a situation or not.
“I am sorry to hear that. But the new plans for the improvement of our country’s infrastructure are my party’s idea, not mine.”
David knew he loved Julia, but at this very moment, he wasn’t sure if he could love her any more than he already did. She had stayed calm, polite and had not given his mother any more to add fuel to the fire. On the contrary, she gave his mother a small smile and sipped at her tea.
A few more awkward moments later, Julia had finally started nibbling at a cracker, feeling her stomach appease ever so slightly. At last, his mother spoke and David braced himself for the worst, clutching the counter so fiercely that his knuckles went white.
“So, you and my son… erm - how exactly…” his mother trailed off, looking intently at Julia, almost ignoring her son, who almost wanted to start praying at this point that this would be over soon.
Julia didn’t see any reason in not telling the truth. Besides, maybe she would finally find an opportunity to go leave the two Budds to themselves.
“David was assigned to me after the 1/10 attack and we got to know each other quite well and well, one thing lead to another and now we are sitting here.”
At this point, he felt he simply had to save Julia who looked worse for wear. He was perfectly aware that she could save herself, but it was his mother after all and so he felt it was his duty to stop this before it would turn into an interrogation. But as if Julia had read his mind, she did the job for him.
“If you’ll excuse me, Mrs Budd, I have to get up rather early tomorrow and I feel a little under the weather, I’m afraid.”
With that, she got up, turned towards his mother, with her hand on her stomach once again. David looked at his mother almost petrified to see if she had picked up on it. How should she know though? Nobody knows. Julia said she wasn’t feeling well, it was perfectly alright to hold your tummy in such a situation, he tried to calm himself.
His mother didn’t let anything on, but returned Julia’s smile and extended her hand. “It was lovely to finally meet you,” Julia replied at last before she gave David another look and left the room. The whole scenario had seemed too unreal to him and he waited for her uproar once Julia was out of earshot.
He had lived with this woman long enough to know how she would react. There was no way she would not react the way he expected her to. Julia was everything his mother disliked - at least at first glance. On the surface she was her complete antithesis: a Tory, calculating, a little abrasive and cold. Every single opinion she embodied was something her mother was against. So, all in all, he would have to brace himself.
The wrath didn’t come, however. Apparently, she was out to be quiet for either not to alert Julia or - and David kind of doubted that option - to look out for Julia as she had mentioned her indisposition. She stayed quiet and just stared at him. David was still standing, not quite sure why. Maybe because he had the feeling of having an advantage by towering over her.
“David, what do you think you’re doing?” she seethed barely above a whisper and suddenly David wished she’d shout at him. That would make it easier to retaliate.
“Mum, if you came here to start judging me or attack Julia in any way, I don’t think you should have come,” his voice was cold and hard.
“Love, are you sure she isn’t just using you?” her voice still hadn’t grown louder but was still as irritated.
“I am going to bed. I don’t have to listen to this,” David snarled and pushed himself away from the counter, ready to leave the kitchen.
“David, please, stay.”
Mrs Budd looked at him imploringly, only to be met with a hard, cold glance of her son.
“Why would I? I told you, there was no need to have come for this,” he hesitated and turned around once again, facing her. “You know, I often thought about this moment, how you would react and what you would say. No matter how I tried to imagine it, you always reacted like this. I couldn’t tell you, but part of me also didn’t want to tell you, just because I knew you’d try and talk me out of it, not knowing a single thing about her.”
For a moment, there was silence. It was almost deafening. David had rendered his mother, the woman who usually had a comeback to everything, absolutely speechless. No, he had shocked her.
“David?” she breathed stunned. “I am sorry, love. I hadn’t realized, you are that serious about her.”
David, still not fully appeased, let out a shaky breath, before replying “Well, you should have asked before you judged. And yes, I am.”
“What do you see in her?” she further tried to mollify him while gesturing for him to take a seat. He slowly complied and regarded his mother critically, wondering if she was serious about the question or if it was just to silence him.
After another long moment, he relented somewhat warily: “She is the best person I know. She is warm, compassionate. She accepts and respects me for who I am and she is…”
“... pregnant?” the woman opposite had completed his sentence.
Fuck. His mother’s guesswork sent cold shivers down his spine and for a moment, he had no idea how to react. A dumbly asked “what” was the only thing he managed to procure.
“Was that why you didn’t come to visit me the other week, even though you had said you would?”
His brain sent signals to his mouth, yelling at him to deny it, to somehow get himself out of that situation and for a second, it really seemed to work. He opened his mouth and closed it again, suddenly bearing a remarkable resemblance to a fish. It would be almost comical to watch if David hadn’t felt completely paralyzed. Eventually, he nodded and looked down and stared at his fingernails. He felt his mother’s inquisitive gaze burning him and he knew he’d have to talk to, put himself out of the misery.
“Aye,” he eventually croaked, clearing his throat. Giving another simple nod, as if to reassure his mother of his words, he tried to put the feelings into words, Julia had helped to reign in more or less successfully.
“Aye, she is and you can’t tell anyone….” he paused, having a glance at his mother, who knew that there was more to the story and took one of her son’s hands to squeeze it. “she… ummm… we nearly lost the child…” his gaze was not transfixed on his mother’s, being fully aware of the avalanche of emotions that would be brought up once again.
“... she came up to me, ashen-faced and asked me to take her to a hospital…”
Quietly, as if deadening his words would make it less painful to say the words out loud. He explained the whole story and by the end, his mother had covered her mouth with her hand.
“I am so sorry, you had to go through this. But the little one is fine. How far along is she?”
“Thirteen weeks…” he paused, letting his words sink in. “Listen, mum, it’s been hell of a day at work and here. I need to be up early tomorrow. I have a meeting because of my detective training and before that, I will meet Vicky to finally talk about divorce proceedings.”
“Does she know? Vicky?” his mother inquired quietly.
David merely shook his head: “Nobody knows but you. I think her new PPO knows as well, but that is the extent of it so far.”
“Alright, darling. I won’t keep you.” A warm smile finally spread across his face. She might not be on board with her son’s choice of a woman, but there was nothing she could do about it. There wasn’t even need to understand it, as long as she could see that little baby Budd and smother him or her with love. David nodded and got up, but not without giving his mother a kiss on the cheek.
It was way past midnight now and David was on his last legs. He had almost left the kitchen when he turned around a last time and regarded his mother. There was one last thing that was bothering him.
“How did you know?”
“It was as plain as the nose in your face, dear. It’s not hard for someone who’s been through that. She was white as a sheet for once, then she kept drinking this ghastly tea and ate crackers. The giveaway was how she kept grazing her belly. If she does that at work, I am sorry, love, a few people must have caught on and I doubt that it will stay a secret for much longer, even if she’s thin as a stick.”
David wasn’t sure if that answer was reassuring or worrisome. With another nod, he bid his mum goodnight and finally opted for his bed, where he snuggled up next to Julia, who immediately used him as a hot-water bottle. She had taken off his sweatpants and was merely sleeping with his shirt on.
With no idea what the next day would bring, David drifted off into an uneasy sleep.
I liked the idea of having his mother to face them with what a lot of people out there think - I mean not just in the story, but people who watched the show and don't understand the attraction of David and Julia.
Chapter 11: The Wind is Changing
David's mother is still in town, but that´s not the only problem Julia and David see themselves faced with.
Thanks so, so much for the wonderful feedback. I truly appreciate it! It felt a bit weird throw David and Julia in such a completely new situation, but I am glad you all liked it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
David woke with a start and groggily picked up his phone, which had been sitting on his nightstand, to check the time. He still had ten minutes until his alarm would go off. He put it back down and sighed, He had absolutely no desire to move from underneath his sheets. He had had an uneasy sleep after he had finally gotten to the safe haven of his bed. Too many thoughts had tormented his mind until he finally found his long-awaited sleep in the wee hours of the morning.
Now, lying there with Julia still fast asleep next to him, their fort of blankets and pillows having reached the absolute perfect temperature and level of comfort, he dreaded his alarm to go off. That would also mean, he would have to wake up Julia.
Sometimes he just wished, she would not work so much and rest instead, take care of herself. Still, he knew that she had improved a lot. But he simply couldn’t stop worrying ever since that nearly-fatal week. It might be overbearing to Julia, but there was nothing she could do about it, other than cooperate with him.
Having obviously sensed his wakefulness, Julia stirred and slowly and lazily turned around to him. Her eyes opened a crack, before immediately screwing shut again, while her forearm shielded her from the bright sunlight that invaded his bedroom.
“Why do you have no blinds?” she groaned sleepily, without having a real choice of going back to sleep. Just at that moment, his alarm went off, which was her cue that the night was over for her as well.
“Good morning to you, too,” David teased her and planted a kiss on her lips. Julia grunted in displeasure at the onslaught of the daylight but immediately melted into him. They could have gone on for another while if it weren’t for another alarm. This time it was her phone which told her that it was time to get up.
Julia blindly grabbed her phone to turn off the irritating sound and disentangled herself from David at last. “I think we need to postpone that for tonight,” she mumbled and raked her fingers through his tousled curls. David merely nodded, sighed and gave a last kiss before crawling out of bed. He stumbled towards the door to have a peek outside.
“I think my mum’s still fast asleep, so you can safely use the bathroom,” he mumbled once he had carefully closed the door again and looked back at the woman in his bed, her hair tousled, face still heavy with sleep and leaning up on her forearms, a smirk appearing on her face.
“Well, I am sure we both use the bathroom,” Julia cooed, finally getting up herself.
“There is nothing I would love to do more, but the walls are thin as paper and the kids’ room is right next to the bathroom. And you can be quite vocal, so, unless you want me to never be able to face my mother again, I suggest we wait for another time.”
“Oh, you just wait. That means revenge. I will make you scream the next time we are together and there is nothing you can do about it,” by now she had walked up to him and was now whispering in his ear, “and I don’t care who will be able to hear it.”
With a last peck on his cheek, she slipped out of the bedroom to get ready for the day.
At some point, she had given him a spare outfit to keep in his flat, just to be on the safe side. Back then, she hadn’t been quite certain if she’d ever be able to use that black suit with the white shirt with its boat neckline, that in some shape reminded her of his outfit when David had been her PPO.
She wasn’t entirely sure how she succeeded in making her hair look as presentable as she somehow had managed to, while David got ready in the shower.
Eventually, she made her way out of the bathroom and tiptoed towards the living room. For some reason, she had an incessant need to tiptoe and make as little noise as it was possible.
Probably because of his mother and because she didn’t want to wake her. It was his flat, surely, but her presence gave her the feeling of being the 17-year-old Julia who tried to sneak back out of the parents’ flat of a girl from boarding school at the time. Nobody had ever found out about it. In fact, to this day nobody but the two knew about that night, but the feeling of sneaking around a stranger’s flat and not wanting to get caught, remained the same.
For a moment, she wondered whatever had happened to that girl. Stephanie had been her name. They had lost touch over the years and sometimes Julia still wondered what she was up to now.
With a sigh, she looked down on the living-room table, covered with paper. She folded up the blanket from last night, took up her notes and her speech and looked through them again. She knew it all by heart. In fact, she knew every single detail of every report, knew every piece of information and news there was on the subject. Nobody could fool her. Still, it wouldn’t do any harm to look through it all once more, make sure there really was nothing wrong with the wording of the speech.
“Julia? Do you want some breakfast, before your PPO picks you up?” David had stuck his head around the corner on the way to the kitchen.
Seeing her on his couch, with the blanket folded neatly next to her, clad in her professional attire, yet still barefoot, was still as surreal this morning as it had been last night. Nevertheless, she looked so absolutely ravishing, albeit with no real sight of a baby belly. He would have loved to have more time with her sans his mother in tow, he mused momentarily.
“Mmm… yes, I probably should.”
She packed her documents back into her briefcase and followed him.
Her PPO would be here in about an hour and she wasn’t exactly sure when she would be able to grab a bite with the schedule she had ahead of herself. She would have a session in Parliament, followed by a TV debate and some various interviews back to back before she would be able to return to her office again, to work on the mountain of paperwork and would have to do some more preparations for her campaign. So, all in all, not at all a day prescribed by her doctor. But it would be one day of stress and then she would be able to work less again.
David had made himself busy in the kitchen and began to fry some eggs and bacon, while also chopping some cucumbers. “Could you turn on the coffee machine, love?”
He asked in her general direction while remaining focused on his task at hand. “Well, that’s quite a demand, sergeant,” she teased him, but did what he had asked and got out some mugs on top, before moving to the man who by now had put the cucumbers on a plate and continued with the radishes.
She had seen his domestic side before, lots of times, in fact. But it never ceased to amaze her. It was absolutely natural to him, to do all the work, the cooking, to care for everyone around him, with little to no regard to himself. She enjoyed watching this ridiculously handsome policeman busy himself in such tasks and there was no way, she wouldn’t start using that as a reason to have a little banter with him.
He had just turned the bacon again and was about to cut the last radishes when Julia decided to steal some of his neatly-cut cucumbers and immediately was rewarded with a light slap on her hand. “Oy, can’t you wait like a normal person.”
“I am not a normal person, I am your future PM and besides, I am eating for two.” she retorted without looking at him and snuck another cucumber.
“Well, future PM, can you at least hand me the bowl from over there?”
“This one?” Julia pointed to a bowl in on a shelf above her, which was acknowledged by him with a nod. They remained in silence for a minute, he continued making breakfast, Julia admired David’s nimble fingers.
“You know, actually, you can help me. I know I must make a brilliant sight, but we would be done much faster if we both did some of the work.”
Julia looked at him for a long moment. She knew he had caught her, but she didn’t mind. Quite on the contrary, she loved it. She leaned forward, put her hands on his shoulder and lowered her voice ever so slightly: “Well, it depends on the work you had in mind…”
“I honestly wouldn’t mind if you used your skills on me, but I am not quite sure my mother would appreciate it just as much as I did,” his witty comeback was not lost on Julia who let one of her hands roam over the front of his trousers, before pulling her hand away teasingly. She felt him twitch under her graze. Oh, she would have her fun with him tonight.
“Alright, what else can I assist you with.” Her voice had lost its huskiness and immediately took a softness, she had only reserved for him.
David, meanwhile, tried and not let himself be distracted by her too much. Beating Julia at her own game now was simply out of the question, they weren’t alone after all. He knew that under any other circumstances, he would have had her in the shower and now here in the kitchen, as well. But he needed to reign it in and so he merely took a deep breath to get some control over his body again.
“You could cut the kiwis for me. I can show you a trick,” with that he stepped behind her, towering over her while looking over her shoulder to show her the quickest way to peel and cut a kiwi he knew. In all that he had her body trapped between him and the counter. Still, he didn’t touch her. That was his way of teasing. She couldn’t retaliate or fight back.
“See, it’s quick and easy,” David murmured after having finished peeling and cutting the first fruit.
“Mmm, I should manage to do that,” she mumbled back, not quite able to hide the effect he had on her. She grabbed another kiwi and began her work with David still hovering behind her, observing her like an owl.
“... and now you just turn it around…” David had just meant to interject when Julia hit his fingers. “Will get your hands off my kiwi! I might be from a boarding school, but I am not completely incapable in the kitchen. You better check the bacon over there, instead.”
The bacon, he had nearly forgotten about it. Julia was a danger in the kitchen. At some point, he was sure, his whole flat could be on fire but he wouldn’t even notice if she was around and prepossessed him. “Ahh, shit.” he cursed and took the bacon of the hot plate and immediately put them on three plates.
They continued setting up their breakfast, more or less seriously, as they continued their little banter, threw the kitchen towel at each other and Julia bumped his shoulder affectionately when he would be a tad too cheeky. All of that happened in front of the eyes of Mrs Budd, who had waited till her son had left the bathroom to actually get ready herself.
She had heard someone rummaging in the kitchen and decided to follow the noise. Whatever David’s mum had expected to find; this was not it. This was the opposite of what she had expected. As much as she hated it, she had to concede that she began to see why David was with Julia Montague. She wasn’t at all the woman she knew from telly. All the attributes she had usually saved for her, were inept. It almost seemed to her that this was a completely different person: affectionate, cheeky, witty and very much in love with her son. Those glimpses didn’t lie. Suddenly, she felt like an intruder, as if she was a peeping tom who was looking through the keyhole, only to watch something she wasn’t supposed to see in the first place.
Torn between interrupting them, making herself known and making a retreat, she shifted from one foot to another, before she decided to clear her throat.
Julia immediately whisked around startled and somewhat uncomfortable. Mrs Budd could see that she had not thought to be caught red-handed in her little tryst with David. Before her very eyes, the Julia Montague, Home Secretary and candidate for PM appeared, the Julia who had fed her son with a kiwi, had disappeared. It was remarkable. In the fragment of a second, her whole demeanour had changed, the playful look in her eyes was masked by a coolness that seemed to want to assess her, detect how much she had seen and if she was trustworthy.
Julia almost reminded her of a wildcat, that could be as soft as a kitten and just as cuddly. Mrs Budd had no doubt that she could fight and protect something or someone like a lioness, but it also was just as difficult to gain her trust. David had somehow managed to tame her, that only counted for him, she supposed.
“Morning, mum! Perfect timing. We are nearly done preparing breakfast, you can set up the table if you want to.” David hadn’t failed to notice Julia’s shift in her behaviour and immediately jumped in, trying to help both his mum and Julia feel comfortable in this still awkward situation.
“Morning…,” she replied a little reluctantly and moved to the drawer, David was pointing out for her.
Julia put down the kitchen towel, she had wanted to fling towards the blue-eyed man in the kitchen, and began to help Mrs Budd and put the plates on the table, together with the vegetables and the fruit.
“I hope you didn’t think me rude, for making such a disappearing act last night.”
Despite Julia’s uncomfortableness, she tried to break the ice, or at least she made the first attempt. It was David’s mother after all and he loved his mother to the moon and back.
“Oh, don’t worry about it, Ms ... Julia,” she looked up at her now, having put the cutlery on the kitchen table, before she continued with a small smile. “I was much worse when I was pregnant with David.”
For a moment, neither of them said a word. Neither David nor his mother or Julia. To Julia, it was almost as if her world imploded and all she could do was to look at the older woman completely thunderstruck, before throwing a glance towards David.
“Oh, don’t worry, dear, David didn’t blow your cover. You did it yourself.”
Mrs Budd very slowly made a first step towards the Tory in David’s kitchen, approaching her cautiously, like she would with a wildcat.
“Don’t worry, love, I won’t tell anyone. The last thing I’d do is to rat out my family.”
At that, Julia wasn’t quite sure what to add, a tiny woman from Scotland had managed what nobody in the whole of London ever managed to do: render RH Julia Montague MP speechless. Nevertheless, she wasn’t entirely sure if Mrs Budd referred to her little one as family or if she included her in that term as well. One thing, she was oddly certain about though, she would keep her secret. Something told her, she could be trusted.
“Thank you,” Julia gave a small smile and made to sit down.
David had kept himself in the background, partly because he had been busy with preparing the lasts bits of their breakfast and making coffee and partly because he wanted to give them the chance to talk without him trying to butt in. It was still all a bit bumpy, awkward and careful. but he could tell by the way his mother spoke with Julia, that she tried to make an effort in getting to know her. It made his heart skip a beat and he had to bite back a smile. Maybe it hadn’t been such a terrible idea for her to come down here.
“Julia, can you drink coffee or would you rather drink tea?” David suddenly asked, only now remembering that some doctors online advised against caffeine during pregnancy.
For a moment, Julia looked at him puzzled. He knew she drank coffee in the morning. Why would he even ask her that. “Definitely coffee, with my schedule I need coffee.”
“What’s your schedule today?”
Finally, David had sat down, put the mug in front of her and began sipping at his own mug. His mother observed them, while she started her own breakfast. Julia took another cucumber before she replied: “One session in Parliament, a TV debate, some more interviews and paperwork and all the while, I will try and not kill Rob.”
David smirked, remembering Julia´s dislike for her Special Advisor, the sycophant, who always ended up drooling whenever he saw her only too well. He would get jealous if it wasn’t so pitiful. But the rest of her day sounded like more work than she should actually be putting on herself.
“Ermmm- Julia…,” he began, not quite sure how to word it, without sounding too commanding and worried.
“I know, it’s a lot today. But I can do it, the dates had been set up weeks ago and cancel them last minute might look overly suspicious. Besides, I still want the party’s leadership and become Prime Minister. I will assure you, however, that I will put in enough breaks and will put my feet up once I am in my office.”
David wasn’t overly happy with her decision but he knew that he couldn’t change her mind and accepted her choice. So, he gave her a simple nod and munched down the rest of his bacon.
Julia, too, was well aware what a strain the day would put on her and she knew David worried, but there was nothing she could do. Instead, she diverted the topic onto his work and his plans for the day. David stayed rather evasive, not wanting to tell Julia anything about the divorce as long as he didn’t have anything concrete. He was well aware that she hadn’t entirely bought his story and looked at him quizzically and just for a second too long.
Knowing, she would not get an answer now, she looked at his mother. She set down her now empty cup, “Do you have any plans today, Mrs Budd?”
She asked politely, yet with an air of the softness, she exuded whenever she was around David. But it was by far not as much.
“Well, I will visit my grandkids, I already promised to pick them up from school and babysit them,” the topic of Ella and Charlie seemed to loosen her tongue a bit, as Julia could see a spark in the woman’s eyes. Julia could see that Mrs Budd wanted to ask more questions, maybe if she had met them yet or more about kids, but she didn’t seem to dare. Not yet, at least.
“If you want to, you could always take them to Kew Gardens, it would allow the kids to exhaust themselves before you take them home and it also gives you a chance to see one of London’s most beautiful places.”
By now, Julia had eaten her last piece of toast and looked at the woman sitting opposite her once more.
“That is a good idea, thank you.” For the first time, Mrs Budd looked at her with something that resembled a smile.
“In case you do,” David interrupted, swallowing his last bit of toast himself, “let me know, and I can come to meet you there.”
His mother nodded. “I will, it’s a good idea. But won’t have the kids to do homework?”
“Nay, not today. They will have afternoon classes, too, that means no homework.”
Mrs Budd nodded again in understanding. “That would be lovely, then.”
“I had no idea you liked Kew Gardens so much, Julia,” David asked curiously. Once again she kept surprising him. He simply loved solving the riddle that was Julia Montague.
“There is a lot you don’t know about me. My father used to take me there as a child, during my holidays from school...”
Just at that moment, the doorbell rang, “That will be Sergeant Compston. I should go. I hope you enjoy your day, Mrs Budd.”
“I will bring you to the door,” David had almost immediately jumped up, seeking the last moment of solitude with Julia, before both of them would have to head out and only see each other at the end of the day again.
The second Julia slipped into her black stilettos, she had much more of the Julia Montague everyone seemed to know and have an opinion on. That didn’t deter David from pinning her against the wall and kiss her. It was a turn-on to see her in her professional attire, her political attitude and demeanour, and then to see her crumble beneath his touch, her softness peaking through the cool exterior.
“David,” she mewled against his lips as she curled his fingers around his neck. “Mmm, David, my PPO is waiting outside.” Again she was interrupted by David who had a hard time and simply could not stop kissing her. “I think, if I don’t come out in the next thirty seconds, he will charge into your flat.”
That seemed to do the trick. With a grunt, he let go of her and took a step back. “Fine. But please, take care. I’ll see you tonight.”
She gave him a last peck on her lips and opened the door to a PPO who indeed was close to calling reinforcement.
“Good morning, sergeant,” with a nod she stepped out of the flat.
With a jerk of his head, David acknowledged his colleague but had to bite back a smile all the same and closed the door behind her. He wouldn’t be able to stay for much longer if he wanted to be on time for his meeting with Vicky.
No longer being able to keep up the pretence of the perfect bubble, he went back into the kitchen to his mother who had begun to tidy up. “Mum, you don’t have to do that. I will do it later.”
But Mrs Budd wanted none of it and let him know that she would have enough time before she would be able to pick up the kids and practically shooed him out of his flat. He felt momentarily uneasy, about his mother in his flat taking care of things, she honestly wouldn’t have to take care of, with the possibility of snooping around. But he still had no chance to stop her and despite all, he had left for his appointment.
Meeting with Vicky and the divorce lawyer was, as it turned out, less complicated as he had expected. Well, he hadn’t really known what to expect. He knew that he and Vicky were on the same page with almost everything. He had made sure that in case anything happened to him, she and the kids would still have financial support, he had taken out an insurance policy for it. That had been a big part of his hesitation in divorcing Vicky, at least ever since he met Julia. Both were in relationships and happily so, why stall it any longer. He just hadn’t been entirely sure if the divorce lawyer would make matters any more difficult, but she actually seemed okay and worked with them both, instead of against him.
With that worry off his chest, he went straight to work afterwards, feeling positive for the first time ever since he and Julia had had their little fall-out. In fact, for once he didn’t even mind all the paperwork that was waiting for him, because everything seemed to be in order. He and Julia had made up, his mother knew and seemed to have digested the news rather well, he would go into detective’s training and later today he’d meet his kids in Kew Gardens.
The Home Office was buzzing like a beehive when Julia arrived. This in itself wasn’t anything unusual. The nervous and somewhat inhibited glances from some of her employees, however, were. Some bustled away throwing an odd look towards her office and made their way behind their computers. With a sense of foreboding Julia rounded the corner and could see someone waiting inside, pacing about her office like a caged lion, with an expression on his face as if he had smelled something particularly bad. Roger.
Of all the people she didn’t want to meet and have to deal with today, he was on the very top of the list, especially with the schedule she had today. The bit of time she would have in her office, should not be wasted on her ex-husband.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” Julia didn’t even give him as much as a withering glare when she entered her office.
“Good morning to you, too, Julia. I am not quite sure that’s the proper way to greet the Chief Whip,” Roger said with mock friendliness, not being able to hide his deviousness, while finally standing still, towering over her, his hands behind his back.
“Oh, cut the crap, Roger. If there is a point to this, feel free and come to it. Otherwise, you might leave, you know where the door is. I’ve got a shitload of work to do and absolutely no time for your bullshit.”
Roger always managed to make her bristle with rage, no matter where he was and what he said. Roger, however, still kept his mock friendliness upright. The weird cunning smile on his face, made her feel slightly uneasy. Something told her, that whatever reason he had came here for, her instincts screamed to be on guard and ready for attack. He gave her a cold prickle down her spine and his expression didn’t make it any better.
“I will keep it short. I don’t have time all day. But I’ve got some news for you and I felt it my duty to deliver it in person.”
Julia gave an exasperated sigh, feeling annoyed. Why did he always have to announce everything and make a mountain out of a molehill. With a raised eyebrow, she moved past him towards her desk and set down her briefcase. When he still didn’t say anything, she looked up at him again, irately. Just when she was about to ask him once again what it was he here for, he dropped a newspaper on her desk, popped open the button of his suit jacket and made himself comfortable on the chair opposite her.
“What’s that?” she asked instead and eyed the newspaper suspiciously.
“Tomorrow’s newspaper. There is quite an interesting article in it, you should read it.”
Roger didn’t elaborate but kept his vindictive expression and obviously waited for her to make the next move. Julia looked at him apprehensively for a moment longer, before finally leaning forward to grab the newspaper. She scanned it quickly, not really willing to lose sight of him. The newspaper itself was tomorrow’s edition of The Daily Mail. Her gaze moved further down the page and there was the reason for Roger’s appearance:
“Unmarried Home Secretary’s hushed-up secret: What’s hiding underneath her shirt?”
Will ice queen, Home Secretary Julia Montague, 42, be changing nappies instead of our political landscape soon? An anonymous source who has links to the inner circle of Montague claims that she is in fact pregnant. The child is due later this year as we’ve been informed. This might clash with Montague’s plans to become Prime Minister. Would this put a stopper to her plans or would she follow the footsteps of New Zealand’s PM?
Julia Montague, who was once married to Chief Whip Roger Penhaligon is as per our research single. So, who might the lucky father be? Sources claim that a rekindling of Montague and Penhaligon’s relationship is unlikely. Other colleagues also deny any connection to the Home Secretary in this capacity. So who could it be? Could it be her aide, Rob MacDonald, who as rumours tell, has been wooing her ever since he started working for her? Or is it some unknown man? Maybe Montague felt the urge to follow Whitney Houston’s footsteps and have a romp with her Bodyguard?
She might still be able to hide a possible baby bump, but she won’t be for too much longer. All eyes will be on her midriff from now on…
Julia stared at the article, unable to read and focus on the rest. She felt numb, heat spread across her face and a chill numbed her body at the same time. He had made true to his promise at last. She knew that she couldn’t keep it from the public forever but having it slapped in her face like that, made it hard for her to keep her stoic facade upright. On top of it all, she felt Roger’s gaze burning her.
So that had been the reason why he had come here; to see her reaction. She took a deep breath, steeling herself to not show any kind of emotion and looked up at him.
“Tsk, tsk, Julia, unmarried and pregnant. How will you explain that to your colleagues and your constituents?” he reprimanded her, feigning concern. “I will make see to it that you won’t win this election and make sure that you and the poor sod who felt sorry enough to shag you will be exposed.”
Julia’s mind was reeling and Roger had managed to render her momentarily speechless. She needed to say something, have a comeback and defuse the whole situation. But all she could do was stare at him.
Roger’s face had lost its last shred of fake friendliness. Instead, he smiled at her triumphantly, feeling confident about having finally won the upper hand. He got up, buttoned up his suit jacket again and turned around to leave.
“I would better have my exit plan ready. You’re finished.” with his hands in the pockets of his trousers he made a couple of steps towards the door.
“Next time, you better use this,” Roger turned around, grimaced and flung a condom on her desk.
As if in slow motion, Julia saw the item fly through the air and saw it land on her desk. This very motion triggered something in her and she felt her inner warrior come back.
“Oh Roger, that was a mistake. I will find out if you had your hand in this and sue you to kingdom come. And I promise you one more thing: I will become PM and you won’t ever put another foot in the political arena again. I will expose you and ruin you and now you better fuck off!”
Roger’s smile wavered but he made no sign of being intimidated by her this time.
The moment her ex-husband had left, Julia let herself fall back into her chair and stared at the condom that still lay carelessly on her desk. She took it slowly and let it slip into her purse. By tomorrow, everyone would know and she needed a way to defuse the situation. She would have to issue a statement. today. The timing could not be worse, especially with the debate and all the interviews.
She heaved a sigh and called her publicist to come to her office to make the necessary arrangements.
David, ignorant to everything that was happening at the Home Office, had just finished discussing the finer details of his training with his superior. Nothing stood in the way. He would start next month.
“A last thing, before you go, David,” David had just been about to get up when he sat back down again and looked at Craddock who had her hands intertwined. That was never a good sign. Almost with bated breath, yet giving away absolutely nothing of the anxiety this one line had brought up, he looked at her stoically, waiting for her to continue. “David, there is something else, that really couldn’t wait. I’ve received an extremely serious allegation regarding unprofessional intimacy between you and the Home Secretary.”
David stared at her blankly. Shit. Had that little nervous, law-abiding bastard ratted him out after all? There was absolutely nothing unlawful about their relationship now, but given that he had been her PPO himself, must leave a sour taste to the whole thing. Still, as long as they had no proof, there was nothing they could do. He still, didn’t give away anything. No, if there was anything Lorraine Craddock might read on his face, it was stubbornness.
“Who’s making this allegation?” He simply asked, doubting Craddock would give him Compson’s name.
“I am not at liberty to say. They’re alleging something goes on between you two in private.”
“With all due respect, ma’am, but I don’t see how this is any of your concern.”
“So, you do admit, there is something between you and the Home Secretary.”
“I am not saying anything. I am merely saying, that my private life is mine alone and should not be a matter of our discussion.”
David became a little angry at this point. But he couldn’t become angry. It would blow his whole cover. No matter what he did, he could not lose his head. Lorraine Craddock and the incredulous expression on her face didn’t make it too easy for him, though.
“It is a matter of our discussion in case this started when you were still her PPO.”
“Is this from the Security Service?”
“No, it isn’t. It was a simple question, David. Is it true?”
“I do admit to seeing Julia now. But ma’am, you know you have to caution me if there’s any possibility that this might incriminate me. If that should be the case, I’m entitled to consultation with my Police Federation Representative”
The moment he had said that he saw how anger flickered up behind his superior’s eyes. He had the audacity to challenge her. If there is one thing Craddock didn’t like was when things didn’t go her way. David, however, was distracted from analyzing her even further as he felt his phone buzzing inside his jacket.
“Don’t quote me the Regs, David and now piss off,” Craddock snapped and motioned her hand towards the door.
“Ma’am,” he merely replied and exited the office swiftly, his phone still buzzing. The ramifications of this conversation were difficult to foresee. The chances of Craddock blabbing weren’t really high, she would try to bury this and not let any possible scandal smear her department. If Sergeant Compston remained the same or if he would talk, was an entirely different matter though.
At the moment, however, the insistent caller was more relevant. As had finally closed the door to his boss’ office, he took out his phone to see that the caller ID named Julia as the one who so vehemently tried to reach him.
“Julia? What’s the matter?”
“David, we have a problem,” and with that Julia informed him swiftly and almost breathlessly about what had transpired in her office and how damage control would look like and that it also meant making their relationship public if they didn’t want any more nasty surprises.
“Shit,” was all David managed to say, he was still rooted in the deserted alleyway in front of Craddock’s office. Merely a couple of hours ago, David had thought this was going to be a calm, relaxing day at last. The news of her and Julia expecting a child could potentially blow up in both their faces, yet he had always known they had played with fire. Now they would have to face it. Thank God, his mother already knew and Vicky did too, sort of.
On that note, he remembered he would have to tell them before she heard the statement in the news. Today might be one of the last times for a while when he could go out with his kids unobserved and spent-quality time with them without the fear of being in the papers the next day.
“David?” she brought him out of her his reverie, “are you alright with it?”
“Do I have a choice?” It was more of a statement than a question. He knew the answer, even if he didn’t like it.
Before you think the idea with the condom might be too outlandish, I actually found this article on New Zealand's PM Jacinda Ardern who was given a condom and a pregnancy kit after she had announced her pregnancy and it kind of reminded me of Roger.
Chapter 12: Breaking News
Julia's "truth" isn't hidden anymore and she now has to deal with its ramifications.
Thank you so much to everyone who took their time to comment. I highly appreciate your feedback.
A comment sometimes it one thing that tips the scale from being unmotivated to actually want to continue writing. I had a massive writer's block and for some time I didn't feel like continuing at all, but your sweet comments were the reason why I did.
This story is nearing an end, but we still have two chapters (this and the next one) and I hope I continue to manage and stay in character.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Home Secretary and PM Candidate, Julia Montague, is pregnant. News broke earlier this week, confirming what had only been a whisper among MPs…"
Julia muted the sound of the television. Not a single TV or radio station had failed on making her the breaking news. It was the kind of news everyone loved to latch on to. But working and trying to continue or at least making an attempt of having some kind of normalcy was practically impossible with her as the apparent centre of the universe.
It had been almost exactly a week since she had come forward with her statement, only having a mere inkling of the gravity it would have and the avalanche it might provoke. That kind of news always bore a challenge for anyone who felt themselves in the midst of it. She had seen it with fellow MPs. She had had front row seats when a former PM abdicated and “cashiered”, to use David’s language.
Back then she had seen it coming, had heard about the rumours long before the media had gotten wind about it. His life and his whole career had been disarticulated to the point that he couldn’t show his face on the streets anymore. As far as Julia was aware, he had even had to leave the country for some time until everything had settled down. The whole ordeal hadn’t been a surprise to her.
But anticipating someone else’s scandal and its ramifications and knowing that her own behaviour might be regarded as scandalous was something entirely different than actually being hit by the wave of hatred full force.
The impact of her words had been immediate. The shocked speechlessness of the reporters had almost instantly turned into a myriad of questions, which she had all decided not to comment.
The curiosity the reporters had shown the following days had only been the tip of the iceberg. As soon as the news had broken, not only social media had gone crazy about the news, but also paparazzi had started documenting and following her every move.
At this point Julia was almost certain, they had started camping out in front of her flat for there wasn’t a single time in the day, when they weren’t around. Flies were less annoying than those people were.
However, it wasn’t just her and David, they had set their eyes on. No. Initially, they had tried to dig into David’s story as well, and into his family in particular. That had been the point when she had momentarily lost her temper. Nothing, absolutely nothing justified going after innocent children and people that hadn’t been involved with the story in the first place.
What she did, however, was not to shout at the reporters, journalists and paparazzi. That wasn’t RH Julia Montague MP. She had lost her temper, yes. But that had happened within her own four walls.
The result of that had been a call to her lawyer, a former colleague, making sure nobody was allowed to post, print or publicize pictures of David’s kids and his soon-to-be ex-wife in any shape or form.
So, for now, the slander, the bad-mouthing, the turning of her into the adulterer, the wanton and the “Home Sexcretary” was all on her. Julia prided herself in being able to shut everything out what the media said about her. No matter what it was.
When it came to her political life, she had accepted that she always had to fight and that people always loved to pick on her. She was used to it and quite frankly, she didn’t really care.
But this was not her political life. This was her private life. This was her as a person and that was David. Ignoring the news, the derogatory glances, the pointing fingers behind her back and the ill-concealed looks on her midriff were beginning to take their toll on her.
“Julia, I am not sure it’s good if you keep on watching… that,” Mrs Budd had entered the room without Julia realizing it.
It hadn’t gone unnoticed by her, how much Julia took the comments on her personal life to heart, even if she would never admit to doing so. Mrs Budd saw it. Julia truly was a hard-working woman and she could see her son’s worry now that she might work too much.
But she also saw how enthusiastic she was about it. Still, having to break the news to the world about a rather intimate matter had put a lot of strain on Julia and she still tried everything to get her work done, excel despite everyone finding an excuse to criticize or even attack her.
Yet, Julia still tried to do her best to protect everything that was dear to her. Despite all of that, she tried to make it seem as if the scandal hadn’t affected her the least bit. It was admirable, Mrs Budd thought if it just wasn’t so unhealthy. Nevertheless, she respected this level of devotion and determination.
She had absent-mindedly stared at the screen, of pictures and clips of yet another “Julia Montague Special”, her research lying on the table in front of her. The only safe place at the moment was her secret hideout. A subtle plan worked out by her security detail, had made it possible for her to sneak out of her flat’s back entrance, without reporters noticing - at least so far. The waiting mob would see her enter and then someone roaming around in her flat. So they waited for anything that might be of interest.
So far the decoy had worked impeccably. She would arrive in her black BMW, which then proceeded to drive to the back entrance together with a second identical vehicle. While that happened, Julia used her time wisely and usually picked up a few things, either work-related, clothes or something else. Then she would use her back entrance and either would step into car number one or two. There was no specific order as not to make it too easy for her ‘stalkers’. Both drove away at the same time, but only one drove to Coworth Park in Ascot.
It hadn’t been her idea to choose this hotel as her ‘humble’ abode, but when it had been suggested, she had not declined.
It was a remote and relatively quiet place, just outside London. The best feature was that paparazzi were forbidden to enter the grounds. This hotel, as expensive as it ultimately was, was the kind of fortress, she felt safe in. There was absolutely nothing she had to worry about, not even how vocal she could be during sex.
The change of scenery had also rejuvenated their relationship. It was almost like a little holiday to them, where they could just enjoy each other’s company, away from the drag of their daily life and the routine they had found themselves in, especially after the tough few weeks they had had.
Only for David’s mother, it had been more than a little alien to live in such an extravagant place.
“I see no reason why you need more than one towel? And what about those huge rooms? Who needs that? Both my kitchen and my living room could fit in here,” had been only a few of the various complaints Mrs Budd had brought on the minute they had checked in.
Julia understood where Mrs Budd had come from. It was all rather high-priced and not necessarily made for practical living, but rather for relaxing and winding down. Nevertheless, her little rants became a habit, that was almost endearing to Julia had it not been for the fact that David, in turn, complained about his mother.
“Why can’t she just calm down?” had been his greeting one evening once he entered their living room. One complaining Scottish mum was bearable, both the mother and the son had been simply too much.
“David, I’ve got a shitload of work to do and I don’t mind your mother’s rants,” was the only retort he had gotten to his welcome, glancing at him momentarily before lapsing into silence again.
David knew the moment the words had tumbled out of his mouth that it had been the wrong thing to say. She had been stressed over the scandal, her pregnancy hormones were raging, she was forced to live somewhere that was not her home and the icing were two grumbling flatmates.
It had taken him half the evening to get him to be on her good side again. The only way to soothe her and tame the dragon had been to seduce her. She had tried to ignore his attempts to bring about peace, but eventually, she had relented.
It had been a few days after she had moved into Coworth Park, but the constant comments on the extravagance and abundance of their new place had become such part of the deal, that Julia had immediately noticed something different in David’s mum. One evening, she had heard Mrs Budd humming to herself.
Julia had been doing some ‘light” reading, by going through some of the latest studies, when she heard the peculiar sound. Looking up in the direction of where the sound had been coming from, she had seen a tiny figure in a bathrobe scurrying towards her room. Julia had bitten back a smile but immediately knew that Mrs Budd was getting used to the lifestyle. Still, she would almost bet money on it, that Mrs Budd would be the last person to admit on enjoying spending a few days at a five-star hotel.
As predicted, Mrs Budd hadn’t admitted it but kept falling back into her grumbling-self as soon as she talked to Julia again. It was quite amusing. It was more amusing than anything else that happened in her life at that moment in any case.
Cooping herself up in her suite was no option. Not one she would have preferred in any case. She liked tackling challenges head-on.
But this scandal was something that nearly overwhelmed her at times. With Mrs Budd and David around it was easier to ignore, to work in peace and block out the rest. Her work at the office and in Parliament, in particular, was Sodom and Gomorrha and she was right in the centre.
Roger of all people, of course, had suggested she should step down as Home Secretary and leave someone else the chance of becoming PM.
“What are you still doing here, Julia? Nobody wants a homewrecker,” had been his words upon exiting her car the other day. In that particular moment, she had to bite her tongue and simply roll her eyes at him, since she knew causing a scene out in the street might be even more detrimental.
The desire to push Roger in front of an oncoming bus became stronger by the day. She should have expected him lurking at the corner of number 10 like some murky drug dealer. So, she simply couldn’t help but utter a “fuck off, Roger” under her breath while glancing at him with nothing but utter contempt.
Once again, like it had been almost every single time since they had known each other, Julia had been the cleverer one, the one who had once again gained the upper hand, leaving him with nothing but disdain.
Roger grimaced at her, biting the inside of his cheek, only now seeming to notice the mass of reporters and photographers observing them raptly. The number must have doubled since the whole nation had found out about Julia’s pregnancy.
All of them seemed just too eager to get a rise out of the ex-couple together and their interaction, most probably hoping to get some reaction of the ex-husband on camera.
He pursed his lips and turned around somewhat horrified at the flock of people being perfectly capable of reading his lips, making him seem like the bad one in the picture once again.
Even after they announced their separation and the ultimate divorce all those years back, she had been the one horned by her husband, gaining her quite a lot of sympathy, making him look like the desperate, sex-crazed cheater, he technically had been. Business had suffered back then and it not been exactly beneficial for his political career either, earning him yet another setback.
This time it was not his fault, though. He should come out on top with it, he mused. Leaving the mass of questions and people behind, he followed his ex-wife and entered the building.
“I’d give the condom back to you, but it’s not like you’re getting any. Or is … what was her name… Chloe still in the picture? Or was it Amber? Oh, right, they all left you.”
Julia had been waiting for him, inside the building, being more than well-aware of her new entourage, whom she wouldn’t give a performance like he had done so brilliantly just now.
They shot daggers at each other. He was nearly ready to throttle her and wanted to give yet another retort when an assistant came darting towards them.
“Sir, Ma’am, the PM - ermm… Mr Vosler - is waiting…” he puffed, anxious and out of breath in equal measure. You didn’t interrupt two lions fighting, especially when they were so far above you and their titles were Chief Whip and Home Secretary, but orders were orders.
Julia left Roger standing stumped in the hallway without so much as looking at him once more and followed the nervous assistant.
All through their meeting with John Vosler, however, he continued his assault with dirty looks and snide remarks, which was merely dignified with disapproving silence. Julia had managed to communicate without words over the years. As opposed to Roger, she was not as pathetic and had a definite plan. He would regret the day he had come up with his sorry excuse of a plan to tank her campaign.
But if Julia thought that only the public, Roger and other MPs were against her and almost delighted in the slander of the ice-queen, she was sadly mistaken.
Even Mike Travis had chosen her honesty towards the press to turn it into a walk of atonement.
“Julia, I don’t mean to cause offence, but I think it might be a good idea if you let your office hold abeyance, at least until all of this has blown over. It just doesn’t look good and I can’t imagine the stress to be healthy for you or the baby.”
Julia had had her back on him, looking out of the vast glass windows, her arms crossed, not even trying to hide her small baby bump anymore. The morning sickness was a thing of the past now, her energy levels were still quite low but soon a new problem would arise. She needed clothes that fitted her changing body, but that still looked like her clothes. The sports bralette she had been forced to wear due to the increasing fullness of her breasts, much to David’s delight, also needed a replacement since it was becoming rather tight.
At the moment, she had different matters on her mind, because the last thing Julia needed, was her duplicitous Minister of State for Counter-Terrorism. Mike Travis thought he was being very sly, feigning compassion and understanding when all he wanted was what everyone else wanted: get rid of her and take her place or simply use her as a stepping stone to more power.
Julia wasn’t born yesterday. She had seen it all before. Why he thought, she would believe a single word he said was beyond her. Frankly, she had more pressing matters at hand and he was not one of them.
Suppressing a sigh, she turned around and gave him a cold-eyed stare. “Thank you, Mike. I am capable of making my own decisions. Please close the door when you leave, I don’t need any more visitors today who think it’s open day at my office.”
There was nothing else to do for Mike but retreat. Slightly dumbfounded, he looked at her somewhat helplessly for a moment, before bowing his head and giving a slight nod, muttering an “Of course, Julia”.
“Oh, and Mike, if you see Tahir, will you tell him to come and see me?”
Again, it hadn’t been a request. It was a command coated as a polite request. Mike gave yet another curt nod and left her office, resembling a beaten dog with his tail between his legs more than anything else.
Julia paid no mind to him and sat down. The twinge in her lower back seemed to have radiated and intensified from all the standing around and walking, giving her the feeling of being as stiff as aboard. The dull throb in her head was yet another indicator that she was surrounded by too many incapable people who made her work even harder than it already was. She ran a hand through her hair and took out her phone, her head resting on her other hand. Just for a minute, she needed a break.
David had sent her a text, just over an hour ago, quite ominous in its context. But then, they both tried to avoid texting essential information, in fear of being hacked. Besides, David, like most men, was rather single-worded in them, which was why it shouldn’t have surprised Julia when reading: “Got some news, call me back when you can.”
Not expecting Tahir for another few minutes, she hit the dial button, while looking outside her office. She watched her employees busying themselves with whatever task they had been assigned to. The only thing Julia took really in was the dial tone of her phone.
“I think, I need a massage later…,” she disclosed wearily the minute David had answered the phone.
“Gladly, I am always happy to be of service, ma’am. Would you like the full spa deal?” came his answer, smirking into the phone, making an attempt to alleviating her mood.
He knew that voice. Working, the mud-slinging on top of her battery levelling on fifty per cent almost all the time due to her metabolism working for two, took its toll on her.
According to his pregnancy app, their baby now had the size of an avocado, so it would fit perfectly into his hand and it could finally make out differences in flavour. Only last night he had spent an obscene amount of time with his hand and head on her stomach since they had felt the baby’s movements for the first time.
He hadn’t been quite sure who had become more emotional.
All of a sudden Julia had stood frozen in the living room with her hand on her tummy, her eyes glazing over, completely unaware of what had been happening around her.
Only when he had asked what the matter was, had she had beckoned him to come and put his hand on her stomach.
Then he had felt it - the fluttering. Not quite sure how long he had held his breath, had he had looked up at Julia in wonderment and brushed her lips softly. It had been an incredibly tender, albeit wet kiss, as Julia couldn’t fight back one or the other tear, as much as she probably tried to.
“Oh yes,” came the teasing reply from the mother-to-be, before she turned serious again. “Your message was quite enigmatic. What’s the matter?”
“Ahh, that. It’s about my mother. She told me this morning that she thinks it’s time for her to go back. She misses the rural life. London is simply too busy for her and I guess she misses the banter with my dad.”
“Oh…” with her mouth forming a perfect ‘o’ was the only thing she could answer.
As unexpected and awkward as it had been at the beginning, as much had Julia gotten used to the tiny woman who always knew what she wanted by now, who had no fear of telling everyone off, from the manager of the hotel down to her assistant. Being only the two of them again would also be lovely, but she would miss her and that was new to her.
She didn’t even miss her own mother usually, especially not when she had come barging into the hotel, straight from the airport to interrogate her about the news and “that David”.
Quite frankly, that had been a fault on Julia’s side, as well, forgetting to tell her mother anything. But in her defence, she had been up to her ears in work. Besides, letting her in on such important news via a phone call or even a FaceTime call, while her mother vacationed in the south of France amidst some lavender fields, hadn’t been exactly her idea of breaking the news.
The scene Frances Montague had caused, had driven everyone away. Julia had just about managed to send David a message to stay away until the air was clear again. Eventually, her vexation of learning about her daughter’s pregnancy with her first grandchild had transformed into something that resembled delight. After a long heart-to-heart with the older woman, they had arranged to meet the following week. Whether David would join was not entirely sure as of yet.
Julia was sure that he’d rather spent an entire day protecting one of her colleagues than facing her mother. But it was only fair to meet her since technically she was family now and she had met his mother as well. It was bound to be awkward though.
“I see,” Julia pulled herself out of her reverie back to the present, “When does she want to leave?”
“Later this week, Friday, probably…”, but before David could continue, he was interrupted by Julia who had just caught a glimpse on Tahir Mahmood rounding the corner to her office.
“I’m sorry, I have to put the phone down on you, but duty calls. Speak later?”
With that Julia refocused on Tahir and her problem of finally finding a way to handle the media, to reign in the inquisitive and nosy questions, to get some kind of normalcy in her life again.
Tahir was still the nervous, albeit slightly overeager PR advisor. He had always been, constantly seeking her praise and approval. Now he stood in the middle of her office and only sat down when she expressly asked him to.
As anxious as he seemed, as elaborate were his thoughts. His conclusion of an ideal plan which she approved if grudgingly so, was to consent to one of the many interview enquiries. The idea was to do one big interview, which would also help with her exposure on a political level and answer a limited amount of pre-approved questions about her pregnancy and her private life.
Julia hated having to talk about her private life in public. She liked to have a clear cut between the two. Having her personal life flow and mingle with her public life was far from desirable but the only way to put a stop to this madness.
The interview with Andrew Marr was scheduled a week later. It was a special and advertised everywhere. No matter where you looked, you saw something notifying you of the highlight of the election campaign, or so some people called it.
The outfit she had chosen that day wasn’t much unlike the one she had worn the time she had worn David’s shirt: dark blue slacks, with a matching blazer and a light-blue blouse that almost entirely concealed her baby bump, adorned with ballerina flats. Being pregnant didn’t just entail maternity clothes, though she was still able to wear her normal clothes for the most part, but it also meant giving up on heels for the time being.
Contrary to the last time, when was coffee spilt over her shirt, it ran smoothly this time, just as it should be.
She had known Andrew for a while and appreciated him for his sharp mind. Still, being on the show for something that had nothing to do with why she became a public figure was uncomfortable. She had put on her best performance to overshadow the bout of anxiety she was experiencing. Andrew was like a bloodhound in that respect, he smelled fear and used it to try and squeeze every last bit of information out of you.
It started just as planned with the expected “How are you doing, Miss Montague”, followed by some light questions to start up the conversation and to make her feel more at ease, she assumed. Nevertheless, she remained on edge, sitting just a bit straighter, with her legs crossed at her ankles and her focus very much on the man sitting opposite her. She blended out the rest of the broadcasting studio and heard herself talk, more poised than she actually felt, while trying very hard to appear calm and measured on the inside, as well.
It was fine, she told herself, once the show was finally over and done with, she would be relieved of having this nuisance off her back and she could leave this studio for good. Although if it continued the way it currently did, it should be a success. That could only help her cause.
The question on whether putting out a statement that she was expecting a child with a man, a married one no less, could cloud her political campaign and her chances of becoming Prime Minister, wasn’t an issue. Even in her tense state.
The first question that delved deeper into her personal life was one all the reporters had been shouting at her whenever they got a chance to (“How are you going to balance motherhood with potentially running the country?”).
“Have you ever asked one of my male counterparts that same question? How many cabinet ministers are fathers, yet nobody ever seems to wonder about their work-life balance? Having said that, I am sure working motherhood is far from easy and I think it’s all about organisation, focus, really being there when you are at work or with your child and it’s about making choices about how and in what to invest your time. I believe work and motherhood can coexist in a positive, invigorating manner.”
Andrew looked at her and nodded, never having had to face this particular problem himself. So, he didn’t miss a beat and continued his interrogation: “How do you want to manage running your campaign in your state?"
"My state? I am pregnant, not sick. I will continue to work and run my campaign trail as long as my doctor deems it possible.”
“But don’t you worry how all this stress might affect the unborn child?"
Julia knew that question had to arise. It was only natural. But in that particular moment, with all the lights on her and being cross-examined by a journalist who didn’t really care about much else but his job and his show, she found it increasingly difficult to answer such emotionally-charged questions.
Yes, of course, she worried about her child. She worried about it constantly, wondered if she was, once again, working too much or if it was a bad sign when the baby kicked more than it had done the day before.
Ever since the scare of nearly losing it, she had begun to question everything and tried her best to keep that work-life balance in check. Julia was certain that on a worry scale, she wasn’t that far off from David. With the difference that he had actually begun to voice his concerns. She didn’t. Talking about matters of the heart, about things that worried her, that made her too vulnerable and potentially opened up the door to the room where she had locked up her emotions had never been her forte. With David, she had become better at it, but she still couldn’t change who she was.
Her mind drifted back to the week, back to the pain, to the sheer endless wait and all the emotions. She halted and forced her breathing to stay calm and even. For a moment it felt as if her lungs were being squeezed by an invisible force, leaving much less space for her to breathe. It felt like pushing a weight on her chest.
Yet at the same time, she sensed Andrew’s curious gaze burning her, making her hyper-aware of the where she was at the moment. She felt how her face began to burn and hoped it wouldn't show. She had to continue. For a second she wondered if taking a sip of water might help compose herself, deflect from her moment of weakness, but she knew the tremor in her hand would make this rather difficult and kept it firmly in her lap. Instead, she tried to take in another deep breath and refocused back on the interview eject a strangled: “Of course, which mother doesn’t worry about her child.”
The journalist eyed her, with a strange glint in his eyes, as if there was more to the question. As if he knew more than he let on, but Julia didn’t dream that anyone else knew about her threatened miscarriage.
Still, the look was unnerving, even if it was only for the fragment of a second. Almost like a lion lying in wait for its prey to make a mistake. Before she could contemplate further on that, Marr went in for the attack.
“We have information that you had recently been hospitalised, is that true?”
That hadn’t been a question approved by her or her staff or one that even should be answered. If she found out that either Rob or Tahir had authorised this, she didn’t care if it was bad for her campaign, but that person would have to find a new job.
Julia pursed her lips, her breathing somewhat back under control, fought the urge to snap at the man. Yet at the same time, she tried not to let the effect of his words show. She felt faint and hoped she didn’t look it. The last thing she now needed was an ashen-faced and pale look on TV, while a black hole threatened to consume her whole.
“Miss Montague, are you alright? Should I refrain the question for you? If it is true that you indeed have been hospitalised, it begs the question about the state of your pregnancy and if you might have to reconsider your priorities.”
Under normal circumstances, this would be fine, in fact, it would be fun, to play this excellent match of tennis. But all Julia currently managed, was to take a deep breath and clear her throat to croak a curt “Yes.”
“Yes, it is true,” she had found her footing and her voice again and promptly pierced him with iron eyes, daring him to delve even further into this topic.
“Why were you hospitalised?”
A trace of compassion and interest flickered up in his voice. Did he really expect her to open up and answer honestly? Julia took a sip of her water, her hands a little shaky from both the anger and the anxiety that had seized her body just moments before.
“I don’t think that is any of your business. Yes, I was hospitalised and yes, Mike Travis had to take over for that period, but I will comment no further on this aspect of my life.”
Andrew Marr relented contritely with little dissatisfied hum and shuffled through his notes, expecting her to say more on the matter, before composing himself again and asking, what appeared to be one of his last questions: “Are you going to marry the father of the child to appease your party's more conservative voters?"
Finally, Julia was in her element again She may have lost the last set, to speak in terms of tennis, but this was right down her alley and she wouldn’t let him corner her anymore.
“It isn’t so outlandish anymore to be in a relationship nowadays and not have a marriage certificate. 10% of the Conservative MPs live in concubinage. Mind you, 8% of these MPs are men. So, no, I don’t think marriage would change anything. Sergeant Budd and I are enjoying our time together and are getting ready to welcome our child.”
A nod. “Do you know the gender of your child?”
“No, I don’t. The sex scan is scheduled soon.”
That was it. The interview was over. Thank you’s were exchanged. Andrew spoke another few words and then the camera was stopped down. The sooner she got out of there the better. If she got ahold of those two twats, she might just fire both on the spot - unless they had a very good explanation for their fuck-up.
Julia didn’t care for much else that day. She only wanted to go home. So, she did something quite unlike her: she only went back to her office to pack up some work she could go over at home and headed toward Coworth Park. Dealing with anyone else but David and his mother, wouldn’t be wise for anyone.
Mrs Budd had planned on leaving last week, but when she had heard about Julia’s interview she had decided to stay until after The Andrew Marr Show, to be there for David and her. The sentiment had been so sweet, that it had rendered Julia unable to reply anything. How was it possible that people existed that were so genuinely kind, people who seemed to like her just for herself and not for what she represented?
Now, however, it was time for David’s mum to leave. As a matter of fact, Mrs Budd had all but packed already and had only been waiting for Julia’s return from work. David had warned his mum that it might take a bit and that she would have to take a later train, but his mother hadn’t cared. It had been important to her to say goodbye to Julia herself and show her her support after the day she had had.
David had spotted the ministerial car from his window and strode towards his girlfriend as soon as Julia had rounded the corner to their suite.
She looked depleted and made no attempt of hiding it as she saw him. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close to him, engulfing her in his embrace. Despite the turmoil and the exhaustion raging inside her, her stomach fluttered at the feeling of her body against his.
She let her ministerial box drop with a clank and sunk into the warmth of his body pressed against him, appreciating the simple gesture. His touch made everything warmer somehow and everything less bleak.
“Everything’s fine, love,” David mumbled against her ear and rubbed her back in soothing patterns. After a moment of silence, he murmured: “My mum wouldn’t leave without saying goodbye to you.”
“Well, she is just as headstrong as a certain someone I know and if our child takes only a bit after her and its father, I am in for a ride,” Julia muttered into David’s neck, before untangling herself from him and picking up her briefcase again.
Unfortunately, it was absolutely out of the question to accompany his mother to the train station herself, so she would say goodbye to her at the hotel.
Hearing commotion in the hallway, Mrs Budd came hurtling towards them, her trolley in tow.
Julia turned towards her, somewhat awkwardly. It was still a bit unusual to have gotten emotionally attached to someone in such a short period of time and then having to say goodbye to her.
Bidding Farewell had never been big of an issue to Julia, for she never had to part with someone that had been dear to her in such a way, but the tiny woman from Scotland had found her way into her heart, as much as she wanted to deny it.
She extended her hand to the older woman.
“Goodbye, Mrs Budd,” for once she gave her one of Julia’s rare, genuine smiles. Mrs Budd, however, had other plans, took Julia’s hand and pulled her into a bone-crushing hug, which had Julia nearly stumble forward, not quite sure how to respond before she allowed herself to return the hug while having to crouch down ever so slightly.
When Mrs Budd pulled back again, she put her hands on Julia’s shoulders and smiled at her. “Call me Carolyn, please.”
“Thank you, Carolyn,” Julia replied, her voice breathy. This day was entirely too emotional. Mrs Budd smiled back at her, understanding the sentiment.
“You are a good egg and I couldn’t imagine a better person to be the mother of my grandchild, even if you’re a Tory,” which earned Carolyn a chuckle.
“But now, I fear, we have to leave. I need updates on everything that’s going on here and you have to come to visit, especially once the little one’s born. I don’t care if we have to lock up the town once you are Prime Minister.”
After Julia’s promise to visit her as soon as she could, she really wanted to. Carolyn looked at David who had been standing at the sidelines marvelling at the sight in front of him. Ultimately, he took his mother’s trolley and they both left, leaving Julia to herself wishing his mother lived somewhere less remote.
Just to have some reference, this is a pregnancy vlog. The woman in it is 20 weeks pregnant. Julia is in about her 16th week of her pregnancy, which doesn't make such a big difference with the size of her tummy. But in my head, her baby belly (and her boobs) have about that size.
Jump to minute 2.20: https :// www. youtube. com/watch?v=1gxRGxAQ9jg
Oh, and funny enough, I drew a picture of David and Julia hugging, so there is another reference:
https: // twitter. com/alexadrakes/status/1160559459506302976?s=20
(You need to get rid of the spaces in the links, AO3 doesn't allow links in the notes)
Chapter 13: A New Path
Thanks to each and every one of you, who has ever commented or given my story kudos. It has been quite a journey and it feels odd to have finally finished it. Still, I hope you enjoy this last instalment to see what the last chapter holds for Julia and David. :)
I have some more "picture" references at the end again.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
A girl. That was one of the predominant news of the following weeks. They would have a little girl. Beatrice Elizabeth Montague-Budd to be precise. The name had initially given Julia an eyebrow raise on David’s part at her suggestion. He had not exactly been a fan of the name. Too posh, too conservative and too old-fashioned.
“Julia, why would you give our daughter that name?” had been an almost immediate reaction after she had disclosed her idea to him.
Only after she revealed that her father’s sister had been named Beatrice, who had been something of a rebel and a bit of the black sheep of the family herself, he had relented. The way Julia told him about her aunt made her seem like a true powerhouse and he saw why Julia wanted to honour this person who had played quite an important role in her early years.
“Besides, the name derives from the Latin Beatrix, which basically means ‘she who makes happy’ and I think that’s quite fitting. If it makes you any happier, we can nickname her Bea.”
David almost chuckled at the delivery of her arguments, “Aye, alright. Always the perfect barrister.”
Her enigmatic look adorned with a small victorious smile that had played around her lips, followed by the rise of an eyebrow she had shown him as an answer to his remark alone had been worth giving in. Bea, it would be.
Amidst finding out the sex of their child and henceforth choosing a name for her, Julia’s life was not as tumultuous anymore as it had been at the height when she had had her interview with Andrew Marr.
To Julia’s surprise and great relief, the interview did not just meet the intended purpose of accommodating to the country’s curiosity about her private life. The paparazzi might not have stopped taking pictures of her altogether, but the people’s opinion on her had changed somewhat, especially among the female MPs who now showed something that resembled compassion.
This general shift towards a more lenient attitude towards the Tory candidate for the country’s highest office had more than one detrimental effect on others.
As it turned out, Rob had been one of those responsible for trying to make her look like a fool on television, to prevent her from making a success with her campaign and had consented to the deeply personal questions.
“We - I - only meant to embarrass you - politically. No way would I see you harmed in any way,” was the stammering excuse of a distressed Rob MacDonald, barely able to look Julia in the eye when being confronted by her together with Tahir by her side.
“We” as it turned out were Roger Penhaligon and Mike Travis. Without missing a beat she glared at both Rob and Mike once more whom she had ordered to her office, before firing them on the spot.
She gave them exactly one hour to pack their stuff and leave. Rob hung his head in shame and retreated pretty quickly, to get as far away from her as it was humanly possible.
Mike on the other hand, ashen-faced and wide-eyed, hadn’t been as wise and stammered a desperate “But Julia, you can’t do this.” as a feeble attempt to keep his job.
“I can and I am. Either you leave now, or I will get security to escort you out of the building.”
But no matter what he did or how much he pleaded, Julia remained stoic, her arms crossed above her now visible stomach and gave a glare that bore nothing soft or understanding in it. The glare was one of utter disappointment so that Mike’s whole demeanour slumped. He wilted in front of her very eyes before he gave her one last resigned look and left the office for good.
Weeding out the moles among her staff and the campaign trail went hand in hand.
In fact, it was well underway by the time she had let go of the two men, with the sheer endless visits to different towns, schools and town halls.
She may not have been able to visit every town in the UK, at least that was what it felt like when watching the news coverage of her opponents, but the ones she was able to visit, she really took her time with.
A thing she had never favoured was going from house to house, ring people out of their homes, invade their privacy in due course to force a conversation onto them. Besides that obvious fact, the amount of walking did become more strenuous as time went by. She dearly missed David’s gifted hands in the evening, when she was lying alone in a cold bed with a stiff back that definitely told her she had been up on her feet for too long that day.
At some point, she even considered ordering a masseuse, but then realized that she’d be seeing David the next day again and she’d rather have him do the job for her, rather than have some stranger get even near her.
But this would have to wait, until she was back in London, getting a prescribed break from all the campaign stress.
On top of desperately wanting to be in her own four walls with David, she also really needed to go pregnancy shopping. Her pregnancy pillow had also stayed back in her flat since she could hardly carry a big, c-shaped pillow around with her when travelling all over the UK.
It did come with a price though since that acquisition had helped her sleep properly and without it, insomnia ruled her nights and fatigue was her companion during the long days. She did have more energy compared to her first trimester, but her ever-growing baby belly didn’t make things exactly easy for her.
What she was aware of now more than ever, was that ever since she had gotten together with her Scotsman, she had become an even better listener. That’s what she did. She listened to people’s problems and needs, as trivial as they might be. Sometimes small issues could lead to bigger ones or maybe be connected to a much bigger problem and if there was something she could do about that, she would do.
After all, she had gone into politics to help people. So, more often than not, she found herself in a discussion with a wide range of people, older ones, younger ones, in a living room, in some kindergarten or some other institution. That actually was part of the campaign trail she enjoyed, as long as the ones she talked to didn’t resemble her opponents in Parliament who’d just shout at her without rhyme or reason.
A thing that surprised her was that whoever she talked to was remarkably respectful towards her and her private life. Certainly, there was one of the other odd question, but overall they were more considerate than all reporters and journalists combined some of whom were still following her like a wild mob of lions.
“You shouldn’t be working so hard, dear. I can’t imagine it is good for the baby. I remember towards the end of my pregnancy my ankles were so swollen, that I could barely walk. My daughter, however, had compression socks which apparently helped,” a tiny old woman in her 80s piped up on one of her various stops.
The woman had stood there propped on a walker, waiting in front of the tall town hall in a small town in Cornwall.
The statistics had been right. People had really eased up on her, regarded her less of an unemotional ice-queen. She looked at the woman, initially a little surprised at the sheer randomness of the comment, yet wondering how long that lady must have stood there already, but without voicing said concern as not to offend her.
“That is such good advice, actually. My ankles are not swollen so much yet, but I do feel them in the evening. If compression socks help with that, maybe I should get a pair or two... Thanks for taking the time to come out here, I really do appreciate it,” with that she offered the kind old woman her hand who beamed at her.
“You just get those compression socks. They will do wonders for your feet.”
Something or rather, someone she had not taken into account on this campaign trail had been her mother. With David’s inability to accompany her, the whole thing had seemed like a rather solitary affair.
It had been perfectly clear to Julia, that he would not join her. He had his own responsibilities, especially now that his detective training had started. That in combination with having the kids over more often again and checking out potential houses in and around Holland Park had given them a temporary shift towards a long-distance relationship.
And even if the rather unlikely case of Julia not becoming Prime Minister manifested itself, they needed a home.
Living in two flats or even one, if he moved in with her, wouldn’t be enough. They needed the space, especially once their daughter was born. She needed her own space. Furthermore, they needed a room for Ella and Charlie and possibly one for guests, such as Carolyn.
So, they had decided to keep a lookout for a nice house with a garden attached to it, preferably in Holland Park, as this area was not so far off from Shepherd’s Bush, which was as David put it “less stuck up” and more down his alley. There was less chance for him to stick out like a sore thumb, which had been a compromise. Even though she had eyed the areas of Hampstead and Chelsea as well, but she could see that David would not feel comfortable there, so the obvious choice had been Holland Park.
Besides that, it also made no sense to her to drag their relationship into her campaign trail. She missed David terribly and the phone calls and endless messages just wouldn’t cut it. The days until she would see him again, couldn’t be over soon enough. She couldn’t wait to be with him again, to feel his warmth, smell his cologne, see the change in his eyes as he looked at her.
She longed for his massages and for their sex. Even the fact that he would always put his used dishes in the sink instead of the dishwasher straight away was something she missed. Only a few more days, Julia kept telling herself whenever there was another bout of missing her man.
Meanwhile, her mother had invited herself onto her campaign team and now didn’t just try and tell her what she had to do. No, she also tried to tell everyone else what a terrible job they were doing and what they should do instead. Julia knew that Frances only meant well and wanted to be helpful, but it still drove her up the wall and they had an argument about it more than once.
“Mother, just stop!” was probably one of her overused sentences on this campaign trail.
When she called David after one of these times and his reply to her rant had been “Well, she does take after her daughter. No offence, Julia, but you tend to be just as … decisive.”, Julia had initially wished for him to be a little less honest from time to time. She had scowled at him over their FaceTime chat that evening, but couldn’t help but have that line roam around her head for the better part of the evening and even caught herself observing her mother and comparing her behaviour to her own.
Like so many times before, David had been right. The shocking realisation didn’t exactly help her rather distant relationship with her mother, but she started to be able to let her behaviour slide a bit and accept it more often than not.
When Frances had decided to accompany her daughter, Julia had tried everything to discourage her mother to do just that. But all attempts had been futile. Now, however, Julia was quite glad to have a familiar face around, someone she trusted and could talk to and someone who knew her and knew what she was going through.
As dire as the idea of this “road trip” with her mother had initially been, as relieved was she now, when she found a round pillow on her bed one night, that could be used as a substitute for her pregnancy pillow or Tums tablets for her heartburn some other time. One day she even found grey compression socks with black polka dots on her bed. Frances really did listen and once Julia had become less tense around her, there were times when they could even have a decent conversation.
More often than not though, Julia’s defence mechanism with her mother would still weave its way through. Sarcasm had always been the one thing, she could never stop when being around her.
“You should drink more, Julia. Remember, you are drinking for two, you need to stay hydrated,” was her lecture on one of the final days of her campaign trail as she was neared the end of her second trimester.
Julia, water bottle in hand, couldn’t help but bite out an “Oh really? I thought I should water the plants with that bottle.” That, in turn, had earned her a typical Montague glare from her mother.
When Julia returned from that last part of her campaign trail she was 28 weeks in and had strict instructions to do no more travelling once the third trimester would begin.
From now on, she would fight her battles from London. As much as she enjoyed travelling, it was more than strenuous with a belly that made her look as if she’d swallowed a football. At least she now had her own bed with everything she needed, from her pillows down to her maternity wardrobe, and a belly band. It made it all much more bearable and for once she did not mind being told what to do - at least not by her doctor.
Bea was the size of an eggplant now and kept her awake more often than she let her sleep. Her doctor and the internet had told her to find something relaxing as this was not unusual. But Julia had never done anything relaxing besides taking a bath, having sex or doing some reading. Time usually didn’t allow for more and she had never been much into television and watching reruns of the same news at 3 am, was not her idea of doing something relaxing. Nevertheless, she had found something that was relaxing for her, since it took the pressure off her mind and allowed her to be prepared for all eventualities.
“Are you redecorating Bea’s bedroom again?” David mumbled against her belly one night when he noticed a dim light in their bedroom. He hadn’t simply taken up the habit of giving the best massages, but also to rub her belly and talk to it, which had struck a chord with Julia when he had done that for the first time.
It had been such a sweet and typically David thing to do, that she couldn't help but rake her fingers through his curls and pull him up into a kiss.
“No, as a matter of fact, I am finished with that and every room of the house. I am looking for children’s books to read to her.”
The hum against her stomach indicated, he had fallen asleep again.
Julia, however, was still knee-deep into her nightly shopping endeavour for their little one and their new house.
One of the houses David had put on their list had been absolutely perfect. It was a four-bedroom semi-detached house with a grand garden on Kensington Park Road. It had more than enough space for everyone and was, most importantly bright and friendly, yet still sophisticated and elegant. Another plus point had been that there were some great schools nearby.
Whenever she looked at the pictures or whenever they visited the house, an excited and nervous kind of energy surged through her. It was the kind of anticipation that tingled through her like little electrical sparks. She had no idea what the future would hold for them, but despite feeling anxious about it every once in awhile, wondering if she would be a good mother and do everything correctly, she couldn’t wait until that future was their present.
It was during one of those last weeks, that really were more of a struggle at this point when it happened. Julia had been feeling like a whale at this point, her ankles swollen, just like the old lady had predicted and a constant shortness of breath and urge to go to the loo.
“If I went into labour now, I honestly wouldn’t mind,” Julia bemoaned to her doctor at her 38 Weeks Check-Up.
“I know, Miss Montague, but the last few weeks are just as vital as the rest. How are you faring otherwise?”
“You mean besides the feeling that I am carrying around a melon inside me, which gives me electric shocks, the lack of sleep and an itching belly? My feet and ankles feel like they are twice their normal size and my back is killing me.”
“Well, these are all normal symptoms, that’s good. It seems like you are finally listening to me and you do get the rest you need. It’s still two weeks till your due date and at this point, you can’t do any more work. I will order bed rest if I have to.”
Julia nodded grimly. David sat next to his girlfriend, trying his best to keep her discomfort at a bare minimum. He had even bought a pillow for the car, as well as a seat belt cushion so that the strap would not go over her swollen belly, but in between her legs, to make driving a little easier for her and him.
He knew about her moods and he was ready to welcome their daughter just as much as she was, but he also knew that she was the one carrying her, waddling around the house (yes, their house) like a penguin with her belly band on to help her carry her belly, but he tried to at least elevate her mood a tad, to make it all a little more bearable for them all. Foot massages and any other massages included.
“It’s honestly beyond me, how there are women out there who don’t feel this big and unattractive when they are that pregnant,” Julia grumbled the evening after their visit to her gynaecologist.
The usually so self-assured Julia Montague had become increasingly self-conscious of her body. The more the belly expanded, the less confident she seemed to be. She just felt bloated at this point and wondered how David could find anything sexy about her swollen ankles or her massive belly. Yet, it had apparently made no difference to David.
“To me, you are always sexy. In fact,” David reassured her for the umpteenth time while peppering her ankles with kisses, making his way slowly upwards. “You look like a perfect goddess.”
What started as a scoff turned into a moan halfway out of her throat. Even now, sex was not an issue. Their preferred position, nowadays was her lying on her left side to reduce the pressure of her belly.
With slow, careful movements he nipped and licked his way towards her core. She stretched towards his mouth, gasping. After a few more flicks of his tongue, he moved behind her and entered her ever so tenderly, peppering her skin with kisses, while grasping her thighs to get better access. Gasps and moans from the soft act, filled the room, while David bit her lip when she turned her head around to give him a rather sloppy kiss. They were completely lost in themselves when his fingers found hers and intertwined with them and settled on her tummy, while he thrust into her, both climbing towards their peak until a hot wave of white light washed over them. By now both Julia and David knew that contractions were part of the deal of having sex while pregnant, even though Julia did have concerns when it had happened for the first time.
“You are beautiful, Julia,” David mumbled against her skin after their lovemaking, which earned him one of those enamoured looks, he would only get to see when they were alone.
She might not be the best person to share her emotions, but she always tried to show them some other way. He got it. He got her and loved her even more for it. That was the last thought David had that night before he slipped into a peaceful slumber.
For Julia, however, it took another whole while to find sleep, even after their tryst. The anxiety over the looming birth, gave her mind no rest. Instead, she turned the information she had read on the internet in her head over and over again.
The idea of a birth that would take nearly a day was really a rather scary prospect and she hoped that it wouldn’t be quite that long for her. Would her daughter be okay? What would it be like once she was born? Would everything run smoothly? Those were only three of the dozen questions that seemed to battle against each other to find the best spot in her mind. On top of her mind, her back had been sore for weeks now and no matter what she tried, it wouldn’t get any better. She felt queasy and in general her body was working in full swing. After some odd hours, some tossing and turning, she fell asleep at last.
Merely a couple of hours later, Julia woke up with a start. There was a big jolt in her stomach and something that felt like a big kick, which was followed by something that felt more like a crack than the pop her doctor had promised her. Julia slowly sat up and looked down on herself, wondering if that would be it now? But she was two weeks early, that was not possible.
She had experienced some mild contractions before and wondered if it was yet another one of those symptoms that told her that her body prepared for giving birth. Despite having read up on so many different accounts, nothing had prepared her for that. The only thing she could think of doing was,s not to get ahead of herself but have a closer look in the bathroom first. It might be nothing, she told herself.
Maybe Bea had simply moved and it was not her water breaking. The worry and concern that had followed Julia constantly over the past few weeks was back when she noticed that there was some leaking, but far from the amount that would be normal if she was in labour.
Even more restless than before, she slowly made her way towards the bedroom again when her contractions started. The pain hit Julia like an oncoming bus. Nothing, absolutely nothing had her prepared for that amount of pain.
Merely a minute ago she had felt nothing and now it was the most agonizing pain. There was no single doubt. She was in labour. Julia blindly grabbed her phone to time her contractions, she knew about the rule and when you had to go to the hospital. But as soon as she had sat back down on her side of the bed again, yet another contraction cursed through her, sending her body into a wild tremor.
“David, you need to time my contractions!” Julia shook him and shoved her phone into his chest, weaving in pain.
David looked up at her bleary-eyed, unable to comprehend what was going on, his brain had only just turned itself back on again. So, he blinked dumbly a few times, his sleepy eyes coming gradually into focus, croaking a barely audible “what?”
“I think, I am in labour, David. Time my fucking contractions!”
In the fragment of a second, he was wide awake, held her phone with trembling hands. It took all but one more contraction that he jumped out of bed, grabbed the pair of trousers and a shirt that were lying next to it.
“We are going to the hospital now!”
His military training of keeping a clear focus on the aim ahead kicked in as he grabbed Julia’s coat, while she was kneeling on the bed on all fours, leaning onto her arms, shaking from the pain that kept her body hostage. At this point she was rendered unable to do anything but try and make some feeble attempts of focusing on her breathing, to help with her contractions.
Like it had been in their days when David had still been her PPO, he took care of everything. He took her hospital bag, called her mother, texted his parents and Vicky and left their house towards their car, supporting her wherever he could.
The guard that had been stationed outside didn’t need any explanation when he saw RH Julia Montague MP writhing, holding her stomach, her face contorted in pain.
“Delta Seven Foxtrot Eight, Lavender on the move. Lavender’s in labour.” was the info the police guard gave through his radio when David led the mother-to-be towards his car.
“Sir, Ma’am, I think we should wait until the backup vehicle has arrived.”
Barely knowing how to and having the time to respond to such a ridiculous suggestion, he had just opened his mouth like a codfish, when he heard Julia, leaning against the boot of his car, snap at the guard through gritted teeth as she felt the big sensation of her water breaking.
“You better fuck off and order your colleagues to follow us to the hospital. I am certainly not waiting, only to have my daughter here in front of the house!”
Within twelve minutes had David manoeuvred them to Hospital Saint John and Elisabeth where she checked-in at around 3.30 am, as the hands of the clock on the wall told him. He was barely able to stand still, as much as he tried to think of all the commands his officers had used to give him to detach himself from a scene. David had been a nervous wreck when Ella and Charlie had been born and it certainly wasn’t any better now. He nervously drummed his fingers against the check-in desk until another nurse finally brought them a wheelchair.
“About fucking time,” Julia snapped as David helped her into the contraption and then dashed after the nurse.
Once she was in her hospital gown and propped up on the delivery chair, at last, Julia was in such excruciating pain that she didn’t really take in anything but the surprised words of the nurse announcing she was seven centimetres dilated already, which was followed by a single thought she voiced rather harshly:
“Get me an epidural now!”
She didn’t understand what the nurse said when she left the room again, neither did she really bother. All Julia knew was that she would give birth when she was ten centimetres dilated and that would be quite soon. At least it would be a fast labour. But she would kill someone if she didn’t get the painkillers straight away.
After what felt like an eternity, the nurse came back, in snail pace earning yet another shout from Julia’s side. David held her hand throughout it all, attempting to soothe her, even when she squeezed his hand so much that he didn’t feel it anymore, cutting it off from the blood cycle altogether.
“It’s going to be okay, Julia,” was the one mantra an anxious David repeated over and over again. If he was trying to calm himself down or soothe Julia who was screaming at the top of her lungs as yet another contraction shot through her body, he wasn’t quite sure.
After the painkillers had finally done their job and numbed the nether regions of Julia’s body, she could form a halfway normal thought again and she let go of David’s numb hand as she breathed deeply, grateful to be out of this pain at last. She would never want to have another child, she thought morosely.
Then it all went very fast, faster than anyone could have anticipated. Shortly after her mother had arrived, the nurse announced that Julia was finally ready and so, she started pushing. It might have been one of the most surreal feelings Julia had ever experienced. After giving it some pushes, the doctor ordered to stop as not tear too much. Followed by something, Julia couldn’t see, she could hear as he then told her: “Okay, Miss Montague, one final push!”
A couple of minutes later it was nearly over and Julia was shocked. She had not wanted for her labour to last a day, but she also hadn’t thought it would be over quite so soon either. Maybe the mix of adrenalin, coupled with pure exhaustion and painkillers made her miss the part when Beatrice’s head had come out, but apparently, she wanted to be in the world pretty fast.
Before Julia knew what was happening, she had slipped out and Julia heard her daughter’s first screams, protesting at the cold air that had hit her little body, saw how an emotionally overcome David cutting the umbilical cord and then felt how the nurse put her on her stomach. She instinctively held her tight, saw and felt how Bea went right for her nipple and started sucking and all Julia could mumble was a stunned “That happened so fast!” and gave her daughter a soft kiss on her head, taking in the smell of her newborn.
“I - I don’t know what to say!” an equally overwhelmed David stammered, staring down at Julia and their daughter. “You were brilliant!” as he first kissed Julia and then leaned down and kissed his little daughter for the first time in her life.
A little later they got the statistics as well: Beatrice Elizabeth Montague-Budd was born 5.57 am on 12th October, fit as a fiddle, although she was early. She was 49.5 cm long, weighed 3123 grams and had snuggled into her mother’s chest straight away.
At that moment, Julia didn’t care who saw it, she started crying. It was as if every single emotion had come together and they had finally torn down the wall that kept them locked inside. It all fell off, almost like a leave off a tree and she cried. She cried from happiness, that it was all over, that her daughter was healthy, that she was finally here. But she also cried out of sheer exhaustion, now that the adrenaline had finally worn off.
It was simply impossible that they had created such a perfect little life. She had been a little impatient, just like her mother but just as ready as she had been.
“She is perfect,” he mumbled, his thick Scottish accent coated with emotions, fighting back his own tears and stretched out a finger to his daughter, who immediately grabbed the tip of his index finger with her tiny hand.
“She really is,” Julia whispered back, still in awe of the little life sleeping on top of her.
“Might be a bit early to say but she’s got your nose,” David murmured unable to look at anything else.
“Fine by me, as long as she’s got your blue eyes,” tearing her eyes away from her daughter and looking at the usually so stoic man sitting next to her. He was anything but stoic at the moment, however. When he looked up at her at last, he only said one thing: “Scoot over.”
Moments later they had made some space for him on this hospital bed that was entirely too small for the two of them, and in which he was strictly speaking not even allowed to be in. But he didn’t care. They both lay there in silence, marvelling at little Bea until Julia fell asleep at long last.
After a little while, David took the fragile little bundle into his arms and gave Julia some time for some much-needed rest, cradled little Bea who was in his arms snug as a bug and just as exhausted as her mother.
The news coverage the following morning went both over David and Julia’s head. Every broadcasting station, whether it was radio or tv and the whole internet came thick and fast over the news of the day:
“PM Candidate and Former Home Secretary Julia Montague Gives Birth to a Baby Girl.”
Just as it had been when Julia had put out the statement all those months ago, the whole country seemed to go absolutely mad at the news. With one slight difference: Julia’s pregnancy and birth had almost taken on the magnitude of a royal birth. The whole nation had been thrilled over such an event, some had placed bets as to when the baby would be born, about possible names and the gender of course.
Julia, however, was in her hospital room still, after finally having taken a shower, feeling sore and strange, but finally having dressed in something more of her style. Beatrice had fallen asleep right after she had been breastfed, content and completely unproblematic. The moment she had looked up into her mother’s eyes, Julia wondered how it had taken her so long to become a mother in the first place. But then she couldn’t imagine having a child with anyone but David.
Everything felt perfectly natural. Even the horror stories about breastfeeding hadn’t come true for her. In due course, she would have to start using a breast pump as well, but she still wanted to try and breastfeed her as often as she could and as time allowed her to do so.
Shortly after Bea had fallen asleep, a few visitors stopped by. Family first and the rest second. First and foremost were Charlie and Ella who had met Julia before and for some reason that was beyond Julia, she had connected with his two oldest kids. They had immediately found a rapport.
Now they were practically tip-toeing into the room after having been told by their mother beforehand how important it was to be as quiet as possible as not to wake up or scare the baby.
Charlie, a little more clumsy than Ella, tried to stay quiet but the urge to meet his baby sister had been almost too great, so he tried to slide across the linoleum floor as quickly and quietly as he could, stopping short just before the bed. Ella stuck to her mother’s words, however, and snuck in almost inaudibly and eventually stood in front of the bed as well, looking down at their new sibling in awe.
When Vicky returned after a while to retrieve them again, to give Julia some rest, both Ella and Charlie were more than reluctant to leave. Charlie had just offered his sister his finger, while Ella had made herself comfortable on Julia’s bed, holding the baby according to her and David’s instructions. Giving a light peck on her forehead, Charlie was ultimately forced to leave, when their mother wouldn’t relent. Ella, shot her mother an angry glare first before she gave Bea back to Julia, not without giving her a small kiss on the top of her head as well.
Having gone to find a local cafeteria, Frances came back again, completely besotted by her granddaughter, almost transformed by her even, brought the exhausted father a much-needed cup of coffee. David was still awkward around Julia’s mother, but appreciated the gesture no less and took the coffee gratefully. It would still take some time to adjust to the idea of a “mother-in-law” that lived at the other end of the spectrum from where he came from.
More people came to see them than Julia was honestly ready to see that morning. either those of who genuinely cared or those who just pretended and really only wanted to see her daughter out of sheer curiosity. One of the honest ones were Kim Knowles, Tom Fenton and two other colleagues that had dropped by. Frances was a constant visitor and Julia had to use her best debating skills to finally make her leave, as she too looked like she could use some sleep.
Much to her surprise, even Anne Sampson paid her a visit, with a little gift bag in hand. Julia didn’t quite know where to put that act of kindness on her honesty scale but accepted the gift with nonetheless. All in all, it was a busy first day for their little Montague-Budd.
It was mid-afternoon when they finally left and her PPO alerted a colleague to retrieve David’s car, Julia followed David out the hospital, walking gingerly as she was still recovering from giving birth, her little daughter wrapped up in a fort of blankets, wearing a hat to keep her warm and cosy and shielding her from the cold October wind, while a range of reporters and onlookers alike waited outside to get a first glimpse at Julia’s child.
Ever, the professional politician and diplomat, she answered a few questions (“How are you doing?” “How’s the baby?” “What are you going to do now?”.) Thanking the people for the hospital for their outstanding job, and the time the waiting people had obviously taken, she gave them a last curt nod and had handed David their child to put her securely in the car and followed suit to make their way back to Kensington Park Road.
With election night only a fortnight away, it gave Julia little downtime to just focus and adjust to her new life and their little daughter and when the day and evening finally rolled around, she wished she could just stay at home, tend to Bea and do some reading instead of getting dressed up to face the nation. She didn’t have any other choice, and secretly she would enjoy the evening, she knew that. Nevertheless, there was something she insisted on and neither David nor her mother or anyone else could discourage Julia from was to not bring Bea with her, equipped with everything she might need.
Once Frances had learned about Julia’s pregnancy, she had started to seek contact with her daughter constantly. Initially, Julia hadn’t been quite sure about the motive behind all that, since her mother had always done her own thing, had always expected for Julia to act as the proper daughter without giving back all that much, which had been a reason for their distant relationship.
Having mentioned that observation to David one day, he brought up the thought that maybe all Frances wanted was to make things right and be a part of her life and didn’t just want to watch her daughter and her granddaughter’s life from the sidelines. There was something true about that, Julia supposed and had tried to give her even more chances than she had already had during the campaign trail.
That evening, Frances had babysitting duties and was with her daughter, until David joined her later in the evening after he had rushed in from work. Even Kim, who was on duty that night, had offered her services.
So, reluctantly Julia tore herself away from her daughter to change once again into RH Julia Montague MP, held the speech of her life and won the election. Frankly, it had been an open secret that she would win and that all the other competitors stood no chance to her. During the whole of the campaign trail, everything had indicated in that direction. Her baby had certainly been an added bonus.
The rest of the night passed in a blur of congratulations, shaking hands, smiles, interviews and setting up the first meeting to make first decisions about her cabinet and who should be in it. That was particularly important to Julia, as she was technically on maternity leave but needed an acting prime minister in her stead who would take the reigns until she was ready to take over.
When she fell into bed like a stone that night, she still hadn’t fully realized that she was indeed the PM now, partly because this had been a life-long goal of hers and to finally reached it, seemed a bit surreal and partly because her focus hadn’t been at all on the political circus, but rather on the new life that was sleeping in her own little bed in Julia and David’s bedroom. It would take a bit to adjust to the thought, to get down that routine and really be able to focus on both.
What was first and foremost and predominant in Julia and David’s life at the moment, was not politics, as happy as he was for her and as much as he wanted to show her, sex was still off-bounds as she was still healing, but that didn’t stop him from cuddling up with her that night and her using his chest as a pillow.
“Goodnight, Prime Minister,” David mumbled to a sleepy Julia, who merely hummed her answer, almost half-asleep. When she would wake up the next morning, not only her cabinet would be on her mind but also Bea’s imminent baptism.
Strangely enough, their religious belief or at least the one they had both been brought up with, the one that kind of only existed on paper nowadays, was one thing the two seemed to have in common when comparing their upbringing.
His family had been rather strict and so had Julia’s school life at her boarding school been. To have their child baptised had been a decision that had required no discussion, especially since she was a member of the Conservative Party and neither her colleagues nor her constituency would forgive her for not getting Bea baptised.
So, when the whole Budd clan and the Montague family gathered on a chilly, but sunny Sunday morning at the beginning of November to christen Beatrice, it was a sight to be seen. It was as if two worlds collided and both Julia and David hoped that nobody would start discussing or arguing. Bea’s charm and the reason why they had all come together worked like a charm though, which was remarkable.
Shortly before the ceremony started, Julia stood corner near the vestry with Bea snuggled up against her chest, stirring ever so slightly from the commotion and the noise the gothic building only seemed to magnify.
Although Ella and Charlie had simultaneously decided to become Bea’s protection team and refused to leave Julia’s side, she was still caught up in her little bubble, the smell of her daughter ensnaring her senses and feeling the warmth of her little body against her. Her urge to protect her from any harm and the love and affection for that little human being was almost overpowering.
So, she stood there, giving her a soothing kiss on her fragile head, snuggling her head tenderly against hers, oblivious to what was happening around her.
That was how David’s father, saw Julia for the first time in person. Up till that point he had only ever seen and previously cursed at her on TV, then gotten fan reports from Carolyn who had been close to opening a Julia Montague fan club in Elderslie and then to get some sparsely-worded accounts from his son. All in all, it had been rather difficult for him to imagine the cold, calculated Tory from the telly to be as lovely as both David and his wife had painted her to be. Richard Budd, tall and lean like his son, had been a staunch Labour man all his life and had always despised anything that even bore the name Conservative.
But seeing the PM, standing in the corner of a church, surrounded by his other two grandkids who seemed to be completely enamored by her, yet completely lost in her own thoughts apparently, cuddling a tiny bundle in a long lace dress, with dark hair peeking out from underneath the lace hat, changed something in him. He could see why his son was so crazy about her and why his wife liked her so much.
“Shenni!”, Charlie exclaimed in a loud whisper, ran towards him, gave him a quick hug and then tugged at his hand to follow him. Both Ella and Charlie were used to using the Gaelic names, or their own versions of them for their Scottish grandparents.
Ella, smiled widely at him as she came over and gave him a hug and immediately started to ramble: “Shenni, you have to see Bea, she is the cutest baby!”
“... and she smells so good!” Charlie added enthusiastically. “Though she does sleep a lot and you can’t really play with her yet.” David’s son added as an afterthought.
The initial encounter between Mr Budd and Julia was somewhat distant, but Bea as the “matchmaker” in-between, did a good job at closing the awkward gap that had existed between them. They shared pleasantries, and Richard looked at this third grandchild, still oblivious to the happenings around her.
“Aye, she looks like you,” he remarked in a deep baritone voice, his Scottish accent even thicker than she had ever heard it from David.
“Do you really think so? I think it’s still a little early to tell, but I see a lot of David in her,” she replied, alternating her looks between her daughter and the tall man in front of her.
“She has your nose, that’s for sure,” Richard who had extended his index finger to caress over her cheek, looked up when he heard a little chuckle. Something he had certainly never heard on the telly.
“That’s what David said, too,” Julia explained at his confused look. “Would you like to hold her?”
At that moment Carolyn had spotted them. Beside the fact, that she had already seen Bea and as she clogged Julia and David’s visitor’s room for several days after her birth, immediately cooed over her youngest grandchild and took her off Julia’s chest to hold her and gave her a hug, that made Charlie blurt out that she couldn’t crush the baby.
“Oy, it’s my turn now, you had her already,” Bea’s grandfather protested and looked at his wife rather sulkily who reluctantly so, handed the now squirming bundle to David’s father.
This day, with having all those people around them that did seem to care about her and David felt like a true start of a new path.
Bea might not have been too impressed by the baptism itself, in fact, she vehemently cried at the cold water being poured over her head, but her mother managed to console her little one pretty quickly again, observed by everyone and not giving a single care about it.
For David, it was quite a remarkable day, too. Only a year ago had he met her, had tried to despise her, but had noticed from very early on how she would not let herself be pressed into a mould. Now, a year later, she stood there, proudly and unwavering with their daughter in her arm. It was almost surreal.
At that moment neither of them knew yet how Julia would ask David to compile a fitness plan to get Julia back into shape. How David would take this job very seriously and subsequently wake her at the crack of dawn every morning to have an early workout or how he would drag her out to their local park to go running in the evening, little Bea in a fitting pram would accompany them, much to the chagrin of Julia’s PPO who was forced to follow them at a discreet distance wherever they went.
They also didn’t know yet how David would force her to have some extra training sessions in their living room, how they would use Bea as a weight to lift up and down, how their little one would squeal in delight at that little adventure or how Ella and Charlie were only too willing to pin their father down on the living room floor, when he had once again teased Julia about not being as fit as he was.
They didn’t know that Julia would make true to her promise and visit David’s hometown, how she would take Beatrice almost everywhere she could, only to defy rules that had been set up by men or how Roger went back to being a lowly MP, only to eventually quit the political circus altogether, just to return to his constituency to become a judge, never getting quite over Julia’s defeat over him.
They didn't know all of that yet, but they would very soon. All the dark moments of the past would finally remain in the past. Everyone would have accepted a PM living together with a man out of wedlock with their little girl who had conquered the hearts of them all. No, they really weren’t required to apologize for the past.
This is what I imagined for David and Julia's house: https:// www. rightmove .co. uk/property-for-sale/property-73059052.html
That's Bea's baptism dress: https: //pin. it/rm2fxkzw6euk7t
My initial idea was to find a way to describe this picture as a final note, but I didn't. Still, it reminded me a lot of them: https: //pin. it/d7kb7mrkqdini7
(Remove the spaces again, thanks!)