DISCLAIMER: Not mine. I promise I'm only borrowing them and will return them to their rightful owners whenever they ask for them back. My imagination took a flight of fancy.....my bank account stayed empty. (Not mine, no profit, just some day-dreaming I wrote down - everything belongs to the BBC and Sally Wainwright).
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is gentle fluff - it has neither angst nor high drama but gently potters along and is almost certainly a little bit sugary and 'neat', but that's what this pairing triggers for me and I make no apology. It is self-contained, but there will be more self-contained one-shots in the same 'story canon' of 'Some Dances in Harrogate' and will make more sense if you have already read 'Invitations'
STORY CANON POINTS: To make things work, I've decided Kate went to Cambridge University (to compliment Caroline's Oxford University pedigree) and William is now there himself. Lawrence is about 14 and in his last year before embarking on the two year GCSE courses (UK school years 10 and 11). John is still being brattish but the divorce is progressing to plan and very much 'off screen'. I assumed (based on the references to A Level exams, that the first series ended in June/July and that therefore, this story arc starts about 8 months later.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To ncruuk[at]gmail.com
Some Dances in Harrogate
Night & Day
"You okay?" asked Kate quietly as they waited for the lift to arrive.
"Yes " Caroline sighed and, as the doors opened, stepped to the side to allow the couple in the lift to exit before stepping into the lift and leaning against the wall as Kate pressed the button for their floor, " I'm sorry."
"Because " Frowning, Caroline got no further she didn't know what she was about to apologise for, but instinct from years of marriage and being frequently in the same room as her fuss loathing mother had made it an instinctive response.
"The way I see it," started Kate conversationally, desperately hoping she'd pick the right words to lift her dejected lover who was amassing an unfortunate track record when it came to trying to organise things, "you were brilliant and have nothing to apologise for," unlike the hotel staff, though Kate who, if she got a moment, she would be having words with at some point.
"I wanted it to be special " continued Caroline as the lift doors opened and they set off down the corridor to find their room.
"And it is a whole weekend with you and no school stuff is pretty special to begin with, nevermind seeing William sing and getting to sleep in, in a luxurious hotel " reassured Kate as they came to a halt outside their room door, " now, do you want to continue with your surprise, Dr Elliot?" asked Kate as she held out the keycard to Caroline, "I'll even close my eyes if you'd like?" she joked, pleased to see her childish excitement at Caroline's surprise was starting to infect the blonde just a little.
"Do I trust you not to peek?" mused Caroline as she stepped close to Kate, uninterested for the moment in unlocking the door and seemingly far more interested in getting Kate backed up against the wall just next to the door.
"I could promise " started Kate, only to be cut off by Caroline's lips as the blonde dipped her head forwards and stole a kiss that rapidly escalated, fuelled by Caroline's lingering adrenalin from the discord at check-in, fuelled by Kate's need to communicate to Caroline how proud and protected Caroline had made her feel, fuelled by their shared love for each other. Eventually however, they had to end the kiss, leaving Kate leaning somewhat breathlessly against the wall, " or I could just wait here, enjoying the corridor," she joked, still slightly dazed from that kiss.
"Ha!" smirked Caroline, tucking a stray strand of hair gently behind Kate's ear, suddenly realising she'd effectively got payback for some of Kate's recent 'mega-kisses' that had left Caroline a jelly-legged wreck in her office on more than one occasion, " catch your breath," she encouraged before efficiently opening the bedroom door and taking their bags inside where, to her relief, everything was perfect.
"Kate?" she called, sticking her head back out into the corridor, only to see her lover still slumped against the wall, "come here," she beckoned, holding out her hand whilst she quickly grabbed the 'Do Not Disturb' sign and put it over the doorknob.
"Hello " whispered Kate, feet stuck firmly in the open doorway, eyes locked on her girlfriend, not remotely interested in whatever delights might be in store it all was superfluous as long as she had Caroline.
"I " Caroline tugged Kate forward, pulling her fully into the room so that she could let the door close, shutting out the rest of the world, " I still don't know how normal people do relationships with other people " her eyes locked with Kate's as she tried to convey what she felt with a language more fundamental and basic than words, " and I know I still make mistakes and assumptions and get things very, very wrong " she reached out and gently brushed a finger across Kate's parting lips when she sensed she was about to protest, " still get things wrong," she repeated, smiling, " but I've learned so much, from Alan and my mother and the boys but most of all I've learned so much from you, you darling wonderful person who's borne the brunt of most of my assumptions coped with most of my mistakes made me understand I'm not too old to learn, made me want to learn " Caroline paused to catch the errant tear escaping down Kate's cheek, ignoring the little bit of moisture gathering in her own eyes, " I have never been in love with anyone as much as I am today, with you, and I know that tomorrow will be even better because every tomorrow is always even better than the day before, and that has nothing to do with William," she qualified suddenly, worried in case Kate missed her point, " all those songs about falling in love every day, falling deeper in love every time you see someone? I get it now, because that's what I'm feeling now, with you and I know I don't always say or do the things that help you see that, but I hope, well, I hope you can remember that and believe it."
Caroline's thumbs couldn't keep up with the tears escaping from Kate's eyes now, nor could she ignore her own tears but she had one final thing she wanted to add, " it's not very romantic, having a girlfriend who's got a mother, two teenagers and a petulant soon-to-be-very-ex-husband that keep appearing in the relationship but I love you so much for being with me for all of it, for being there for the boys on terms that you and they have made, together I love you for being part of all my lives, even if it isn't always flowers and romance and so, just once, I wanted to, well, more than once because you deserve it every day " Caroline stopped herself once she realised she was rambling and, taking a calming breathe, smiled through her tears and said,
"I wanted to give you romance," and, dropping her hand to Kate's hip, stepped aside to enable Kate to see the room, although she didn't stop looking at Kate, wanting to see what she hoped was a welcome reaction.
"Caroline, I " Still tearful and rather overwhelmed by Caroline's unexpected speech, Kate didn't know what to say, instead sticking in Caroline's half embrace, eyes locked with her girlfriend's watery blue ones, unwilling and unable to turn away to take in whatever the surprise was. Finally though, after a long moment, words started tumbling out, " I love you in every way I love the daughter in you, love the mother in you, love the teacher and scholar in you I love all of you and feel loved by you every day I even love your mistakes and assumptions " she teased, putting her finger to Caroline's lips so she wasn't interrupted, " sshh, it's my turn to embarrass you I do love your mistakes and assumptions because they're part of you and us and I even love your mother, in a way " acknowledged Kate, knowing Caroline would smile at the next bit, " she's far from perfect but I've learnt to find her entertaining but most of all, I love that you don't realise how romantic you are, every day." Seeing Caroline's frown, Kate anticipated her question, " and no, I'm not going to explain in detail because it's enough for you to know that you, being you, as you are, in all your roles, at the same time as always being in love with me, that's what's romantic " Kate paused to see if her cumbersome explanation of something that just 'was' for her had made any sort of sense to Caroline.
"You find pasta dinner in the kitchen with Lawrence romantic?"
"It has a certain charm," agreed Kate, smiling when she realised Caroline was starting to get what she meant it was the fact that Kate was entwined throughout Caroline's life, all areas and aspects of that life and as a result included in everything, that everything for the Elliot family now also included noisy phone calls to Kate's grandmother in Nigeria (she was 93 and deaf) and visits to her father in the hospice and DVDs with subtitles
"I think your grandmother is prouder of William than we are," commented Caroline, starting to grin as she remembered the long letter they'd received from the proud elderly lady in response to the last set of photographs they'd sent to her.
"I love you." Kate confirmed her statement with another kiss, a gentle, quiet kiss that spoke of commitment and connection, conveyed peace not passion, promised tomorrow's love as it confirmed today's and remembered yesterday's.
"Mmm, and I love you, thank you," whispered Caroline when they eventually separated just enough to breathe, just enough for Kate to turn her head.
"Surprise, of the most romantic sort," agreed Kate, pulling Caroline into an even closer embrace as she took in the four poster bed (an unrealised childhood fantasy confessed to one dark winter's evening whilst watching television), gorgeous bouquet of parrot tulips (her favourite flower after old fashioned English roses, revealed one rare summer afternoon when they were sitting out in Caroline's garden enjoying the sunshine) and a wine bucket containing a bottle of white wine (champagne didn't like her all that much, which Caroline had discovered at New Year's, much to Kate's embarrassment).
As she locked eyes with Caroline once again, there really was only one thing left to say, " you're magnificent " before they both abandoned any further attempts at expressing their feelings verbally and concentrated instead on showing each other exactly how much love they shared.
From her comfortable vantage point, the view of the plantations and forest gave way to clear turquoise sea and a gentle breeze was tickling her shoulder and hair, helping to lull her into a sleepy, relaxed mood, further encouraged by the rumble and shake of the ground of the ground? That wasn't supposed to be part of this Caribbean vacation, wait
On that rather irritatingly rational conclusion, Caroline shifted from being mainly asleep to being very awake, a change in circumstance that helped her to realise the 'gentle breeze' was actually Kate's fingers tracing random patterns on her bare shoulder and the ground's 'rumble and shake' was the sound of Kate's voice as she spoke quietly on her mobile phone, her chest (which was Caroline's pillow) rising and falling as she did so. Not quite fully awake, Caroline was happy to stay quietly snuggled up against Kate until it became clear who Kate was talking to, which, as it happened, didn't take long.
"But Celia " protested Kate, clearly trying and failing to get a word in edgeways, a comment which not only made it clear to Caroline who was ruining their morning at she craned her neck a little so she could just make out the illuminated clock on the TV 8.17am but it also confirmed how she was going to solve the problem.
Just as he closed the front door, Alan felt the mobile phone vibrate a split second before it began to ring, loudly.
"Alan, hi "
"Caroline! This is a surprise." Holding the phone in one hand, he carefully navigated the hall and headed to the kitchen where he could hear Celia also talking on the phone, needing now to put the papers and milk down before he could take his coat off.
"Isn't it just."
"I thought you were away, visiting William?" He made polite conversation as he deposited his shopping on the kitchen table, Celia oblivious to him as she continued mid-conversation with someone, before he headed back to the hall to hang up his coat.
"We are," said Caroline through what sounded like gritted teeth, worrying Alan.
"Everything okay love? Your Mam's on the phone."
"Oh, everything's delightful the hotel's luxurious, the bed's a four poster and the sheets are sinful."
"Sounds very romantic," said Alan neutrally, a bit confused hadn't that been exactly what Caroline had hoped the weekend would be, and wasn't that why she'd explained to Celia to ring her only if it was urgent?
"Until I wake up to discover my mother on the phone with Kate, and I can guarantee Kate didn't make the call."
"Oh." Alan now understood why Caroline's teeth were actually gritted, but loyally to Celia required him to ask, "you sure Kate didn't make the call?"
"Would you ring your mother-in-law when you were naked?" exclaimed Caroline before she instinctively added, "and no, I'm not being sarcastic, we actually "
" .are away for the weekend, got it," interrupted Alan, not sure his heart would stand hearing anymore, "I'll deal with Celia."
"Thank you!" Caroline was audibly relieved.
"Have a good weekend," wished Alan, arriving in the kitchen as he ended the call to Caroline and stepping up being Celia, he snatched the phone from her hand, shouting, "bye Kate!" before he ended that phone call too.
"Hey!" protested Celia, annoyed at the interruption.
"Did you forget what Caroline said about this weekend?"
"She's gone to Oxford to see William didn't want me to call unless it was urgent," recalled Caroline, still visibly cross with Alan, " not that I get why William singing once means no phone calls for four days," she continued, clearly less than impressed with her daughter as well.
"They, Caroline and Kate, have gone away for the weekend," said Alan, wondering if Celia was being deliberately obtuse.
"Yes, I said that."
"Do you remember our weekend in the Lake District?" asked Alan, hoping to get his point across.
"What? Yes, of course, the hotel was wonderful and we had a four poster " Celia ground to a halt as several pennies dropped, " are they, I mean, together? The two of them "
"And when she said not to call, she meant "
"Both of them, yes," confirmed Alan gently, sitting down next to the now visibly upset Celia as she realised what's she'd done.
I didn't think it's not that I mind, well, I do, but only because she's still my little girl and I don't like to think of that at all I like Kate, I really do Caroline she's, she's so much like my dad now, and not just because she's tall she's lighter, happier and she laughs, and I know it's because of Kate, I " On the verge of tears, Celia hiccupped to a stop.
"I know love, I know," reassured Alan, recognising the truth in Celia's words.
"Why didn't she say anything, Kate I mean?"
"I mean, I know she's polite and everything, but she could have said!"
"Umm " Smiling, Alan was amused that he was struggling to interrupt Celia in full flow enough to point out she wasn't easy to interrupt.
"Caroline must hate me!"
"Not hate "
"What do I do? I can't ring to explain, or can I? Do I text? How do I text?"
"Let's have a bite to eat and a cup of tea," suggested Alan sensibly, looking at the clock on the cooker, "then at 9 o'clock we'll ring William and ask him to pass a message on."
"And maybe your Raff can show us how to text this afternoon?" asked Celia, calming now there was a plan in place that made sense.
"Course he can," agreed Alan easily, preparing to stand up, "now, we got any black pudding?"
"What just happened?" asked Kate, holding her mobile phone at arm's length like it was about to explode.
"My mother is now realising I'm not a virgin and we've not got two hotel rooms," stated Caroline, taking Kate's phone and tossing it with hers, on the floor, some distance from the bed.
"But you've I mean, we've " Kate was struggling to understand why Caroline's virginity (how had Celia thought the boys arrived, by stork?) and their sleeping arrangements were a surprise all of a sudden, especially given how often Kate had stayed at Caroline's and definitely not been in the spare room.
"And didn't you explain about us being away, together?"
"Wow, poor Alan."
"Why did you even answer?"
"Habit I was awake anyway," Kate shifted slightly so they were now lying side by side, facing each other, making it easier to talk.
"You were?" Caroline was relieved her mother hadn't woken Kate but a little concerned this was supposed to be a lazy Saturday morning.
"View was nice " whispered Kate, brushing a stray strand of hair out of Caroline's eyes, "and I coped with Celia."
"What did she want anyway?" asked Caroline, propping her head up with her right arm and reaching out to start stroking Kate's collar bone, which happened to be one of Kate's more sensitive areas.
"Do we have to talk about your mother right now?" Kate emphasised her point by tangling her legs with Caroline's.
"You have another topic in mind?"
"One or two " confirmed Kate as she shifted forwards and began making suggestions, starting with a kiss or three
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