It's hard on the both of us, trying to go back to living our normal lives. Especially now that the word of our miscarriage is out, it feels like everyone stares us down everywhere we go.
There's still a distance in between us, though now mostly physical. We talk more, at home but also in therapy. It takes a lot of getting used to, being this vulnerable with one another with another adult in the room, but I slowly feel a weight being taken from my chest. It might take Lucien some more time, which is something I've accepted, and I don't pressure him into talking about his feelings outside of the office.
I, on the other hand, talk to everyone about it. My mum, Beth, and to everyone's surprise, Kenna. It was hard for me, seeing her after a long time of avoiding her, and at the sight of her growing bump I cried immediately.
She cried, too. We both just cried, and I let her hug me until I couldn't cry no more. She's beautiful, and I'm so happy for her, but it hurt me immensely to see her glowing and pregnant, not a worry in the world.
I've even started work again. After our therapist's advice, it's only part time, and I've dropped quite a few of my classes, just focussing on my own class of first years, and I spend most of my days replying to e-mails and grading essays.
It has brought some sense of usefulness back into my life, which is definitely something that was needed. I was done staring at the ceiling in self-pity, spending my days inside waiting for nothing to happen.
Every day, on my commute home, I try and enjoy the feeling of life I am slowly regaining. No longer an empty shell of a human, but more and more an actual person.
"I'm home!" My bag is heavy on my shoulder, filled to the brim with term papers, and I drop it on the floor as soon as I can, careful not to drop it on Frank's leg as he has come sprinting up to me.
The house smells like garlic and onions, which means Lucien has started cooking early.
Not only that, when I come into the kitchen, the oven is on, too, which means he's also made dessert. I press a kiss to his cheek, touching still being something we're slowly getting comfortable with again, and peek into the pan.
"Hhhhm, risotto," I smile, "my favourite."
He presses a kiss to my temple, smiling back. "How was your day?"
"Long," I grunt, opening up the fridge. "There's this one punk in my class who always thinks he's right. Truly thinks of woman as a lesser species, I'm sure," I shake my head, pouring myself a cold glass of wine. "His essay was absolute shit, full of mistakes, so I graded it accordingly, and today he shows up all mad, telling me he doesn't agree..."
Lucien shakes his head with me, chuckling. "Sounds like a total douche."
"Massive douche," I confirm. "How was your day?"
"Had some calls, did some research.. Eailyn is trying to get me to go back like nothing happened, but... well, that feels kind of wrong. I told her I'd try and go back to work after this summer, but that it might become less because I'm trying to go back to school," he shrugs. "She seemed to understand, though I'm sure she doesn't fully agree."
The subject of becoming a student again is a tense one, because it causes a lot of unresolved worries to come back up in Lucien's brain, so we leave the subject about as quickly as we got to it.
"Oh, and Frank surprised me with a dead bird in the middle of one of my calls," he laughs. "Just fished it out of the air and brought it in."
"Such a sweetheart," I chuckle, watching the murderous cat cirle into the kitchen, trying to see if there's anything else for him to massacre.
"I truly can't wait for summer to start," I take my hair out of its bun and shake my head to let it all flow loosely. "My parents asked us if we'd like to join them on their trip, Beth, Daniel and Phoebe are coming too. Charlie wasn't sure, because of the bar, but he was going to see if he could make it. I told them we'd consider it, but... well, they're my parents, so I'm not sure if we're down to spend a few nights with them in a small cottage on the countryside somewhere. And even if we do go, we should see if there's some place we could go together... I'd be down for another adventure."
He chuckles. "We'll see, Middleton. It's your birthday, first."
I groan. "Don't remind me."
"Why not? You love birthdays," he immediately holds his hand up to stop me from talking. "Yes, I know, other peoples' birthdays, but come on.. it'll be fun. Did you manage to rent out the Griffin?"
"I did," I sip from my wine, watching Lucien stir in the pot. "Charlie insisted I didn't pay for it, but I told him I would, so we're still fighting about that. I just... after all that happened this year and you missing your party, I thought the least I could do is make it a little bigger than I'm used to. But... God, I'm almost thirty."
"You're turning twenty-nine, Em," he laughs. "It's not like you're about to hit retirement age."
"Oh, but it sure feels like it," I sigh. "Oh, and in case I need to remind you - nothing massive, okay? I don't have space for any more rings, and I don't need anything expensive. Just getting to celebrate it with you and the other people I love is enough."

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