The drive back home is surreal. It's maybe a three-hour drive but every time I see Emma sitting next to me, my heart gives a little jolt. Our hands are intertwined, resting on her thigh, and her and Eschieve chat joyfully about last night's party, their schools and anything else that comes up while I navigate us through the French traffic. We sing along to the music that Emma's picked and when Eschieve falls asleep, we just hold hands and enjoy each other's company in silence.
There's things to talk about, problems to work through and choices to be made,plenty of which aren't going to be easy or fun. But at least we're together now, and she's going to be with me for a while. I don't know how long, and I don't she knows either, but that's okay. For the first time since August, I don't have to leave her at the door.
      It's a surprisingly warm day for mid-April, which is why the three of us are at the edge of the pool with our feet in the water, enjoying the pizza we ordered in. By the time we got home we were all knackered, so no one felt like cooking. It almost feels like a summer day, like you find them in the books or the movies. No longer does every conversation I have with my sister end up about how I'm still in love with Emma or how I should just go ahead and kiss her, because that's over and done with.
"Do you know how long father is going to stay?" Eschieve asks, licking her fingers clean. Emma, having given up on finishing her pizza, has her head on my shoulder and her arm laced through mine. I shake my head.
"I think the conference is five days, but God knows how long he'll stick around."
Eschieve wrinkles her nose. "I think I'm going to be at school a lot."
"So you're just going to let me deal with him?" I tease. "How very kind of you."
"Hey, after what I did for you two, you owe me for life." She laughs, yelping when I toss a piece of pepperoni her way. It falls short though, and I'm left trying to fish it out of the pool with my foot.
"When's the last time you talked to him?" Emma asks, sounding very tired. The light is almost gone from the sky, and I wish I'd had the insight to pull out the heaters, because it's rapidly cooling down.
"Jacques? A month and a half ago, maybe. Something about a case I worked last year came up and he needed information on it."
"Did he message you for your birthday?"
"In fact he has! A lovely bon anniversaire, and nothing else."
I see Eschieve flinch, and can't help but feel a little guilty. Where I have given up on my relationships with my father quite a while ago, she's still learning how little he truly cares. "Hey," I nudge my sister's knee with my foot. "You've got me now. And Beth, and Emma, and Gabriel and Matthew. We'll celebrate your birthday every year. We'll take care of you."

"You and Eschieve have really gotten close, huh?"
We're on our way to the bedroom, Emma latched onto my arm again. I don't mind it one bit; I've missed her warmth next to me. At her words, I smile. "We have. I think she came to realise some things when Jacques sent her off to Wales last year, and with me suddenly being here again..."
"I think it's lovely. You make a good pair."
"Mhm, I suppose we do." I smile, kissing the top her head as we slowly shuffle upstairs. Once we get there, Emma's eyes land on the door across of mine.
"Wait," She says, stopping me with a hand on my stomach before looking up at me. "Will you play for me?"
"Are you sure? You're barely able to stay awake as is." I point out with a smile, but she just pouts and starts tugging me towards the music room.
"Come oooonn, I kept dreaming about you behind the piano."
"You dreamt about me?"
At the realisation of what she just said, her cheeks turn a bright pink. "Maybe."
I chuckle, leaning down to kiss her. "And here I thought I was the only one."
She smiles against my lips. "Really now?"
"For months on end. And I was always sad to wake up."
"I had nearly forgotten what a romantic you were." She teases, leading me into the music room by hand. She sits down in the same chair she did last time and the sight almost makes me crumble. I stay frozen in my place, just gazing at her. When she notices I'm not moving, her head tips to the side and while there's a small smile on her lips, her brow is also furrowed with concern. "You okay?"
"Yeah, I just... didn't think I'd ever get to see you in here again." I admit, running a hand over the back of my neck. "I mean, I wanted nothing more. I just didn't expect it to happen. I'm still a little worried this is all some elaborate dream and I'm going to wake up alone."
The smile has become soft and warm, and she looks at me in that way that makes my insides turn to jelly and causes me to feel absolutely overwhelmed with love. A week ago I wouldn't have dared wishing that she would ever look at me like that again, and now...
"I have no plans on letting you wake up alone." She promises me. "Because if you wake up alone, then so do I, and I don't want that either."
By now I've taken my place behind the piano and begin to play, and like everything else today - this feels so absolutely right. Emma being here, watching me play, and then going to bed together. I can't help but feel like it's how things are supposed to be. Tomorrow we're heading into Paris, to run our little list of errands and to get some more clothes for Emma because she was packed for only a day or two, and I can't wait to get coffee somewhere, or to hold her hand as we stroll through the streets, just to no longer to have to pretend that there isn't something more.
And yes, there are still things to work through, but this time I am determined to keep her with me.

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