Source: geocities.com/televisioncity/9171/fanfic

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Yet Another 'Fluffy' Fanfic - by Becks
I started writing this a couple of years ago and it finally
got finished on the Palm during a train journey...

The morning sun came through the gap in the curtains and
landed in a line on the bedroom floor and halfway up the
wall. Peter gazed at it for a while, waiting for Assumpta
to wake up. Her head lay on his chest and she was beginning
to cut off the circulation in his arm. He kissed her
forehead and waited as she gradually woke up and looked at
him.
"Morning. Could you get off my arm please?" "Sorry," said
Assumpta, as she moved slightly. "No problem. D'you want
some breakfast?" Assumpta nodded and closed her eyes again.

Peter chatted to Fionn as he made the breakfast. Things
wouldn't be like this for much longer. Earlier starts, less
sleep, less energy for Fionn's walks... Just as the kettle
boiled, Assumpta appeared at the kitchen door, the bump now
very obvious. Peter's smile turned to a look of concern as
she suddenly looked uncomfortable. "Ow!"
Peter rushed to her side. "Assumpta? what's the matter?"
"Nothing, it just kicked me right in the stomach." Relief
spread over Peter's face and he hugged her from behind, his
hands on top of the bump. He felt another kick and wagged a
finger at it. "Oi, cut it out."
Assumpta laughed and turned to face him.  "You happy?"
Peter asked. 
Assumpta at looked him. "Of course I am." She turned round
and placed her arms round his neck. "I'll be even better
when this thing gets out of my way." "Well, not long to go
now." 
"I know."
She kissed him, then came a knock at the door. She groaned,
reluctant to give up the kiss. "I'll get it."
Assumpta struggled to sit down as Peter answered the door
to Niamh - her usual cheery self. The problem was that
Niamh was fussing over her and had been for weeks. It was
beginning to wear on Assumpta's nerves. "Hi Assumpta."
"Hi Niamh."
"I just wanted to check you were okay."
"I'm fine. I have Peter here to worry about me as well now
you know." Niamh shrugged. "Ah, but what do men know about
it?" Considering that Peter had read all the books, all the
check-ups and pretended to go through labour at the classes,
he probably knew more about it than Assumpta did. "You told
me you hated being fussed over when you were pregnant with
Kieran." "This is different."
"Because you're fussing over someone else?" "I'm just
trying to help."
The lights in the bar flickered, then a second later, went
out. "I'll get it!" called Peter from the bar. He put the
tea towel on the bar and went down to the cellar. "You
still having problems with that fuse box?" Niamh asked.
Assumpta nodded.
"You should get it seen to. Believe me, you don't want that
hassle when you've got a baby to look after." "I've got
other things on my mind right now Niamh." "Why don't you go
and lie down?"
"Because I'd rather be doing something useful than lying in
bed all day." Niamh never knew why she bothered. She did it
out of concern for her friend of course, but Assumpta was
difficult and never took advice. Mind you, it wasn't in her
nature to keep her mouth shut if she thought it needed
saying. That trait wasn't in Assumpta's nature either.
Peter emerged from the cellar and dusted himself off. "That
fuse box is ancient. We should get someone in to look at
it." Assumpta rolled her eyes. "Don't you start!" Peter
smiled. "Sorry."
"I'm going to get dressed." Peter helped her to get up and
she went upstairs to change. Peter finished dishing up
breakfast while talking to Niamh. "She should be taking
things a lot easier, you know," Niamh said with concern.
"Yes, I know. But you know what she's like for her
independence and Dr Ryan says she's absolutely fine." "Even
so..." Niamh stopped herself in her tracks.

That evening, Fitzgerald's was packed. Assumpta sat in a
chair by the kitchen door. Peter had banned her from doing
too much, besides which she could feel herself slowing down
as the baby grew. She had refused to take a seat on the
other side of the bar. She watched, frustrated, from that
chair, with Peter coming back to her  in between serving
customers, checking she was okay and passing on the gossip
from the regular's end of the bar. Dr Ryan came in and
stood next to Siobhan. Peter came over to serve him. 
"Michael. Nice to see you. What will you have?" "Just an
orange juice, thanks, I'm on call tonight. How's our Mum to
be?" "She's fine, it'd be you who'd wake up in hospital if
she heard you calling her that!" "Problem?"
"No, she's just being difficult... just being Assumpta.
She's touchy 'cos Niamh keeps fussing over her." Michael
understood. "Ah. Well, it'll all be over soon." Peter
nodded with enthusiasm. "Yep."
"Looking forward to it yourself?"
That was the understatement of his life. It wasn't
something he'd thought very much about until he met
Assumpta. Then there was the baby dumped on his doorstep,
then Kieran, then Aisling. As time had gone on, he'd
started to realise that being a father - in the literal
sense of the word - was what he wanted to do. Assumpta
telling him that she was pregnant was the second best day
of his life - after the day she became his wife. He wasn't
sure where the birth of their baby was going to come on
that list. He'd probably have to move Assumpta's
announcement down to third place and put the child's birth
in second place. He looked over at Assumpta and smiled. She
was absentmindedly stroking the bump with both hands,
protecting it. He'd watched that bump grow over the last
few months, spent many peaceful hours feeling the kicks,
watching the movement. His favourite times were when they
were falling asleep, or in the mornings when they lay in
bed for hours just trying to work out which way round the
baby was lying, talking to it, building up a relationship
with their unborn child. In some ways he couldn't wait to
see their child, but in other ways he would desperately
miss those times.  "You are going to be there aren't you?"
Michael interrupted Peter's daydream. "Wouldn't miss it for
the world."
Assumpta had got up and wandered to the end of the bar to
chat to Siobhan and Brendan and to see Aisling - who was
growing fast. Once again, the lights flickered and went
out. Assumpta automatically went down to the cellar.
"Assumpta! I don't think you should be..."  "I'm fine!"
Peter started do go down the cellar steps after her. There
was a buzz as the lights went back on, then a thud. 
"Assumpta?
Assumpta!"
Peter looked down. She was lying on her back on the floor.
"Assumpta! Michael, get down here, quick!" Dr Ryan rushed
down the steps after Peter, followed by Brendan, Niamh and
Padraig. Peter knelt by her and took her hand. "Assumpta?
Can you hear me? Oh God, don't leave me now." He put her
hand to his face and silently willed her to come back to
him. Michael started the resuscitation.
"Brendan, can you do mouth to mouth?"
"Yes."
"Right, we need to keep her going." 
Michael did the chest compressions while Brendan did the
breathing for her. Peter felt sick.  "Niamh, call for an
ambulance, urgently," Michael called. "What about the
baby?" Peter had two people on his mind.  Assumpta was the
most precious person in the world to him, but they'd both
spent so much time getting to know their baby, he couldn't
bear the thought that they could lose it with such
a short time left to go. "We have to keep her oxygen level
up."
"Oh, God! Assumpta, please don't go now!"

At the hospital, Peter waited outside a casualty cubicle.
He impatiently fiddled with a tissue, soaked with his own
tears. He sighed and stared up at the ceiling, then closed
his eyes and tried not to cry any more. He heard the
curtain swish back and forth. A doctor stood in front of
him. "Doctor?"
"We're going to have to do a caesarean. It's much easier
for Assumpta to recover if she's only got herself to
support." "Will she be alright?"  "It's still too early to
say."
"What about the baby?"
"Resuscitation was started very quickly, she's nearly
full-term. There's no reason why there should be any damage
from the accident." Peter sighed with some form of relief.
"I wanted to be there." "At the birth? You still can be. I
know it's not the same, but the baby will need its Dad."
Peter nodded. It wasn't what he'd been planning for, but
that was the way it had to be. Less than an hour later,
Peter had been scrubbed up and put into regulation
clothing. Assumpta was on a ventilator, tubes and wires
attached to all kinds of machines. A green sheet was
suspended above her chest, preventing Peter from seeing the
gory details of what was going on on the other side. He sat
beside her, stroking her hair, occasionally kissing the
side of her head and talking to her. "Our baby's going to
be fine. I'll look after it until you come round. You just
need a rest, that's all." A quarter of an hour or so passed
and the doctor's comments to the theatre nurses and the
bleeps of the equipment faded into the background. Suddenly
a new noise entered the equation. Peter heard his child take
its first breath and start crying. Peter froze until the
baby, slightly smeared with blood and wrapped in a hospital
issue blanket, was passed to him. "Congratulations. You have
a daughter."
He cradled his baby and stared at her, transfixed. He took
one corner of the blanket and very gently wiped a spot of
blood off her face then kissed her forehead. He turned to
Assumpta with tears in his eyes yet again. "Assumpta, she's
gorgeous. She's so beautiful." He looked down at his
daughter again. "Aren't you?" He smiled and stroked the
baby's cheek, then looked back to Assumpta. "God, I wish
you were awake."

The next morning, Peter by Assumpta's bedside, in a private
room off the intensive care ward. His daughter had barely
been out of his arms since her birth and he was still
gazing at her, taking in every detail of her face while she
got used to what her father looked like. "Your mum is going
to think you're the most gorgeous little thing on earth.
She is." Peter grinned and kissed the baby again. A nurse
watched from the doorway.
"Getting to know each other?"
"Something like that."
"Well, she's due for a feed. Would you like to do it?" "Of
course." She handed him a bottle and watched as the baby
settled down happily to her feed. "You're a natural."
Peter smiled back. "That's what everyone always says." The
nurse left him to it. After a couple of minutes, he looked
at Assumpta. "You should be doing this."
Their daughter continued to thoroughly enjoy her drink and
Peter began to talk to her. "You are the most beautiful
thing in the world... your mum'd better not hear me saying
that."
"Damn right."
Peter spun around. It was Niamh. For a second there it
sounded like Assumpta. "Hi Niamh."
She walked round to get a closer look at the baby. "She is
gorgeous though."
Peter grinned proudly.
"I brought some of her clothes over. There's some of
Aisling's stuff here too if there's nothing small enough."
"Thanks."
There was an awkward pause.
"So what was the birth like?"
Peter sighed. "Clinical. I just wish Assumpta had seen her.
I've got the nurses to take photos for when she comes round.
Actually, could you pick my camera up from the pub, please?"
"Yeah, sure... You should take a break yourself." Peter was
utterly appalled at the suggestion. "I'm not leaving her.
Either of them. I won't." "Peter you're exhausted."
"No. Niamh, I want to be here when Assumpta wakes up. She's
my wife. I should be here. And this one," he said, looking
at the baby. "This one's all I've got at the moment, Niamh,
I can't leave my daughter with anyone else." "I'm sorry...
Listen, I brought you some food. Just make sure you eat,
okay?" "Sorry, Niamh, thanks."
"Okay. I'll leave you to it. Promise you'll call me if
there's any change?" "Of course," Peter nodded. 

For the next week, Peter's life revolved around the women
in his life. There was no change in Assumpta but plenty of
changing to be done for the new girl in his life... who
didn't even have a name yet. He lived in the hospital. He
ate there, he slept there - he refused the bed they offered
him, preferring to sleep in the chair next to Assumpta's
bed. Every night he'd fall asleep with his daughter
sleeping in his arms and every night one of the nurses
would creep in and tuck the baby into her cot. The nurses
admired him. Everyone who knew him was telling him to go
back home and get some sleep, but he always refused to
leave her. The problem was that as much as they admired
him, they knew that this could go on for months. With
recoveries like this, there was no predictable time scale.
Assumpta would be left to recover in her own time. That
could mean days, weeks or months. Seven days after the baby
was born, Peter was worried that she'd grown. He wanted to
preserve her exactly as she was the day she was born. He
didn't want Assumpta to miss any of it. The child's skin
was settling down now - looking less like she'd been in the
bath for too long, losing the kind of waxy appearance. Her
hair was different too. Taking photographs of her was
becoming almost obsessional. Every morning and night,
he took another picture. He hated the fact that Assumpta
wasn't able to see it for herself. They'd spent all these
months planning how it was going to be and then she had to
go and fix that stupid fuse box. After a quiet moment of
anger - with Assumpta for being so stupid and with himself
for letting her - he fell asleep. An hour or so later, a
nurse crept around him, trying not to wake him up, while
she checked the readings from the various monitors around
Assumpta's bed. The nurse smiled at Peter, asleep with his
sleeping daughter in his arms. He awoke suddenly when he
heard a cough.  "Assumpta?"
The nurse turned back. It was Assumpta. She ran into the
corridor and summoned help from the ward sister. "Oh thank
God."
He reached out and grabbed her hand as the doctor rushed
in. "Will she be okay now?"
"The doctor's on his way to check her over." "Peter?"
Her voice was shaky and sounded confused. "It's okay. It's
all right. I'm here."
Her eyes scanned the room and she tried to remember how on
earth she'd come to be there. "What happened?" "I'll tell
you later. You've got more important things to know about.
We've got a daughter." Unsurprisingly, it took a moment for
that to sink in.  "When... how?"
"That doesn't matter right now."
She turned to look at the baby and a weak smile crossed her
face. "She's gorgeous."  She was just about to reach out and
touch her daughter's face when a doctor came rushing into
the room. He turned to Peter. "Could you wait outside
please? It won't take long."
Peter nodded, kissed Assumpta's forehead, squeezed her hand
and waited outside cuddling his daughter. Assumpta tried to
get her head around the fact that she had a daughter while
the doctor checked her blood pressure, pulse and took
readings from the heart monitor. "You're very lucky to have
such a devoted husband. That child's barely been out of his
arms from the second she was born," said the doctor as he
walked out. "Mr Clifford?"
"Is she okay?" Peter asked with concern.
"She's still very weak. She needs plenty of rest. But she
should recover very well. She's very lucky to still be
here." "We're very lucky to still have her. Can I see her
now?" "Of course you can. Just make sure she gets plenty of
sleep." "Thank you doctor."
Peter put his head round the curtain. Assumpta was
struggling to prop herself up in bed. He helped and then
sat down beside her on the bed. "You should be resting."
"I am."
"Yeah, I know what your idea of rest is." Assumpta gestured
towards the baby, who was looking very angelic, fast asleep
in Peter's arms. "Can I hold her."
"She's your daughter too."
She smiled and Peter passed the child over into her arms.
"To be honest, my arm's gone to sleep." Assumpta just
stared. It was just like another morning, she'd just woken
up and all of a sudden she had her first child in her arms,
still fast asleep and looking very angelic. A very strange
experience. 
"How long since she was born?"
"A week. But I've taken photos for you every day." It
wasn't what she had imagined. Of course, she'd bypassed all
the pain, which had to be a good thing. But she'd imagined
going through all that with Peter by her side, then being
presented with the newborn baby she'd waited nine months to
see. "I wish I'd been able to see her."
"It wasn't terribly glamorous, I'm afraid." "Was it a..."
"Caesarean? Yeah."
"Were you there?"
"Wouldn't have missed it for the world."
She felt a movement in her arms and looked down at her
daughter, who was yawning and waking up. She opened her
greenish-brown eyes and tried to focus on her mother for
the first time. 
Assumpta was overcome.
"Hello." She stroked the baby's cheek.
"Oh, you're beautiful. Yes you are. You don't get that from
your dad's side!" "Oi, watch it!"
The baby's fascinated face began to contort and she started
to cry. Peter looked at his watch. "She's due for a feed.
I'll get a bottle." He kissed her on the forehead and went
off in search of the bottle.  Assumpta looked down at the
grizzling infant and cuddled her, stroking her cheek and
wiping away the tears which were making the child's
eyelashes stick together. She put her little finger in the
baby's hand and then tried unsuccessfully to extract it
again.  "Strong grip eh?" said Peter as he came back into
the room. He uncurled the baby's hand from her finger and
handed Assumpta the bottle. "Here we go."
Assumpta looked up at him.
"Me?"
"Well I'm not feeding her forever."
The doctors had told him that went she eventually came
round there may be some problems with the sudden transition
to being a mother and there was no way Peter was about to
let that happen. He sat back and watched as she began to
talk softly to the baby as she drank the milk. After a
couple of minutes she looked up at him. She was clearly
more than a little overwhelmed, but given the circumstances
that wasn't unexpected. Peter leant over and very gently
kissed her. An hour later, the baby's hunger satisfied, she
lay fast asleep in Assumpta's arms. Peter went over, picked
the baby up and gently placed her in the cot, then turned
his attentions towards Assumpta.
"You okay?"
"Yeah. Just trying to make up for lost time." "I know it's
difficult, but at least you're here now. I didn't think
you'd make it. I didn't want her to grow up without you."
Assumpta saw the tears forming in his eyes and patted the
bed. He moved to sit next to her, then hugged her tight. "I
thought I was going to lose you."
"I know. He's going to have to try harder than that if he
wants to get rid of me."

Assumpta was discharged from hospital a few days later,
having made a remarkable recovery, and Peter drove his new
family home. A welcoming party awaited them.
"Welcome home Assumpta!" 
The chorus came from all the regulars as they raised their
glasses. Assumpta glared at Niamh behind the bar. "I hope
those drinks aren't on the house." "Ah, she's lost none of
her charm, has she?" "So motherhood hasn't softened you up
a bit then?" Asked Siobhan. "It certainly has not."
It became clear that she was lying when Siobhan went over
to have a look at the baby. Assumpta was beaming with pride
as she showed her off. "She takes after her mum," Siobhan
remarked to Brendan. "Poor child. I hope you don't expect
me to teach her. One of you was enough." "Well, I think
that's a long way off yet." "I'll retire as soon as she
comes anywhere near that school." With perfect timing, the
baby started to whinge. "See what you've done now?"
Assumpta gave her a little cuddle and then passed her over
to Peter, who kissed the top of the child's head and
immediately had the magic touch. Niamh was impressed.
"You got yours trained then?"
"No, he came pre-programmed."
Siobhan was still admiring the baby. "You got a name for
her yet?" "We're still arguing... thinking about that."
Peter said. "Anyway, this little lady should be in bed." He
looked at his daughter. "Say night-night." He waved her hand
at them and took her upstairs." A few minutes later,
Assumpta followed them. "Back in a minute." When she
reached the nursery, Peter was changing the baby into her
fleecy sleepsuit, talking softly to her. "Is this exciting,
eh? Your own room at last? Nice comfy bed..." "Is there one
of those for me too?"
Peter turned round. Assumpta stood in the doorway with a
broad smile on her face. She came over and stroked the
baby's cheek and hand while Peter finished dressing her,
then held her while Peter put the sheets and blankets on
the cot. "The nurses said you've been really good with
her." "Well I wasn't going to have some total stranger
looking after her." "What kind of a mother am I going to
be?" "You'll be brilliant. Once you get used to the idea."
Assumpta looked unsure. Peter finished making up the cot
and put his arm round her. "I know it's difficult but it's
not your fault you weren't around for the first week. You
will get used to it and she'll have a fantastic mother." He
looked down and realised the baby was fast asleep. Assumpta
kissed her head and laid her into the cot. They both stood
there for a moment just looking at their child, then Peter
kissed her cheek. Assumpta looked at him with a smile and
they headed off to bed.

In the middle of the night, the pub was silent. Assumpta
slept soundly, with Peter's arm draped over her. The sound
through the baby monitor grew from a gentle whinge to a
quiet whimper and suddenly evolved into a loud scream
followed by regular crying. Peter rolled over and sat up in
bed, closely followed by his wife.  "I'll get her," Peter
said, rubbing his eyes and shuffling out of the room.
Assumpta lay back in bed and listened through the monitor.
"What's all this about, eh?"
A while later, having done all the checks - nappy,
temperature, food - she was still crying. "Come on, let's
go and see your mum, shall we?" Peter smiled as he brought
her in to their room. Assumpta sat up in bed. "There we go.
Our first sleepless night." Assumpta laughed and took her
daughter from him. He got back into bed and looked at their
baby. "Are we ever going to get a name for you or what?"
"Actually, I've been thinking about that." "Yeah?"
"How about Laoise?"
Peter repeated the name to himself a few times. "Yep. That
suits her... it's beautiful."

Assumpta slept soundly that night. She'd hated hospital
beds. She didn't like being ill at the best of times, but
this was when she and Peter should have been getting to
know their baby and it had frustrated her that she couldn't
do that. After their early wake-up call, she and Peter fell
back to sleep and Assumpta's sleep was so deep that it took
her a moment to realise that Peter wasn't beside her when
she woke up. She got up, put on a dressing gown and went
into Laoise's room. The cot was empty. Assumpta went
downstairs and stopped when she got to the landing. From
there she silently watched as Peter, sat on the sofa, fed
his daughter. He gently stroked her cheek and grinned as
she gazed up at him. He softly whispered calming words to
her as she continued her breakfast. Assumpta looked
lovingly at the pair of them, went downstairs and sat on
the sofa next to Peter. She held out her arms and Peter
placed their child into them, then put his arms round
Assumpta and supported her while she gave their daughter
the rest of her feed. It was the first time Assumpta felt
they were a real family. Sitting together on the sofa
taking care of the beautiful baby they had produced, Peter
realised that Assumpta and his child were the things which
had made his life complete and he couldn't imagine how on
earth he ever lived without either of them.