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Title: alternative ending 3
Author: Anne

Assumpta groaned as the plate slid to the floor. 'Oh God!'
'You alright there Assumpta?' Padraig called out from the bar.
'I'm fine,' she sighed, cleaning up the plate. She remembered her conversation with Peter. Do what you have to do, she had said. She'd love to know what was going on in Cilldargen at that moment.

Assumpta would have been disappointed. At that very moment, Peter Clifford was sitting, bored out of his mind in the Bishop's office as he ran through reasons why he might not want to leave the church. 
'Your grace,' Peter said, with as much tact as possible. 'I do know what I am doing. I love Assumpta and she loves me. I can assure you that I won't be regretting my decision. I have thought long and hard about this and Assumpta is who I want to spend the rest of my life with.'
Bishop Costello (AN: I am using this name for a special reason to do with this story. The other person who used it I am not trying to steal your idea) looked at him long and hard. He remembered what he had seen that night he had gone to find the publican in question. He looked back at the young man. He had no doubts that these two would have a long and happy life together. 
'Very well. You are released from your duties.'
Peter nodded. 'Thankyou.'

Another plate crashed to the floor. 'Damn! Number four.'
'Why have you dropped four plates in two hours?' Peter asked, stepping over the broken crockery.
Assumpta smiled when she realised who it was. 'Welcome back.'
'You didn't doubt me did you?' he asked, taking her in his arms.
Assumpta moved a bit closer. 'I was a little afraid that you would change your mind.'
Peter smiled and kissed the top of her head. 'I couldn't do that. I love you too much.'
Assumpta shivered involuntarily. She didn't think she could ever get used to him saying that. 'I love you too.'
Peter broke the embrace and started cleaning up the plate. 'Does this mean we have to go shopping for more plates?'
Assumpta smiled. 'Guess so.'
Peter looked at her hard. 'Are you okay?'
'You do know that we have to go back to England don't you?' Assumpta asked.
Peter nodded. 'I know. And I don't mind. I just wanted to spare you from meeting my crazy family.'
'Are they anything like you?'
'A little.'
'Then I'll love them.'

'There he is!' the shortest male of the group exclaimed.
'Yes Jacob there he is. Do you think that is his girlfriend?'
'She's really pretty,' another of the boys commented.
Assumpta's hand tightened around Peter's as they approached the group. He smiled softly at her.
'It's great to see you again Peter.'
'Assumpta, this is Jacob. The youngest of our crazy clan. That's Timothy, Steven and Nicholas. Guys, this is Assumpta Fitzgerald.'
The men nodded politely and shook hands. Involuntarily, Assumpta's grip around Peter's hand tightened again.

Niamh was beginning to get run off her feet. Kieran was crying, Padraig and Brendan were arguing, Eammon was questioning and Ambrose was wearing a gormless expression.
'Right!' she called. 'Padraig, Brendan, the price rise in petrol is not fair. Eammon it is two pounds, Ambrose go and look after Kieran.'
Everyone looked at her, shocked for a moment. Then, they started to comply with the bidding.

Assumpta lay in bed for awhile, staring at the ceiling. She couldn't sleep. Putting on her robe she padded to where Peter's bedroom was and knocked softly. After the welcome had been issued she entered. Peter looked up from his book and seemed surprised to see her there. 
'Are you okay?' he asked.
Assumpta shrugged. 'I couldn't sleep.'
Peter smiled. He pulled the covers back from his bed. 'Do you want to come here?'
Assumpta looked at him dubiosly.
'I promise I'll behave,' he grinned.
Assumpta smiled wanly and walked over. She slid beneath the covers carefully and Peter pulled her close.
'Now you won't freeze to death,' he told her. 'Are you worried about tomorrow?'
'Partly,' she said quietly.
'What's the other part?' he asked.
'I'm wondering what your brothers think of me.'
'Are you really worried about that?'
'I'd like them to like me.'
'They like you. They just aren't very good at showing it.'
'I love you,' Assumpta said.
Peter looked at her, facing him and kissed her softly. She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him back. 
'I'm sorry. I better go back to bed,' Assumpta told him, trying to catch her breath.
Peter pulled her back toward him. 'Stay here. I won't do anything, I promise.'
Assumpta smiled and snuggled down.

'When's Assumpta coming back?' Ambrose asked Niamh.
'As soon as the marriage has been annulled.'
'Which is when?'
'I don't know Ambrose. Go and check on Kieran and stop being a pain.'
Niamh sighed as she continued making dinner. She was worried about Peter and Assumpta. 

Peter and Assumpta walked from the bus to the courtroom. Peter had her arm around her and Assumpta entwined his fingers with hers. 
'You worried?' Peter asked her.
'A little. Worried he won't accept it. That kind of thing.'
'You're nervous around my brothers aren't you?'
Assumpta blushed a little. 'I guess so. I just really want their approval.'
'We don't need their approval.'
'I know. But, I don't know. I guess they're kind of an avenue of your parents. Instead of meeting them I meet your brothers.'
'Well who did I meet to get their approval?'
'Niamh, Ambrose, Brendan, Padraig, Siobhan,' Assumpta ticked off the names.
Peter smiled. 'Well, I guess that means I'm approved by them doesn't it.'
'Yeah.' Assumpta sucked in a deep breath as they entered the courthouse. 
Peter tightens his grip to her hand. 'Calm down.'
'I am calm,' Assumpta replied.
'Breathe a little.'
'I've done plenty of breathing,' she told him.
'Good day Assumpta', Leo said, walking towards them. He notices the joined hands and scowled. 'How are you?'
'Fine,' Assumpta answered.
'Well, then we better go in.'
Leo stalked off. Assumpa watched him go and then turned to Peter, who was about to leave the courthouse.
He turned.
'Please stay. I think I'll need you when I come out.'
Peter nodded. 'I'll wait right here for you.'
Assumpta turned to leave and then walked back and places a soft kiss on his lips. 'I love you,' she whispered.
Peter smiled. 'I love you too Assumpta.'

The congregation of St Joeph's filed out after a long and boring sermon from Fr Mac. The entirety except Kathleen, were happy for Peter and Assumpta, but sermons from Fr Mac weren't exactly welcome.
'I think I'll skip Mass until the new fella arrives,' Brendan muttered to Padraig and Siobhan as they left the Church.
Padraig chuckled. 'I agree.'
'Well, it can't be easy for him,' Siobhan conceded. 'I mean, he runs the parish in Cilldargen as well, plus his curate that assured him that there was no problem is over in England with his girlfriend so they can meet his family.'
'Niamh!' Padraig called her over. 'Have you heard from Assumpta and Peter yet?'
Niamh shook her head. 'Last time I heard, they were going to see Leo today at the courthouse.'
'Do you think he'll let go easily?' Siobhan asked.
Niamh shrugged. 'Hard to tell.'

Assumpta came out to the waiting room. Upon seeing her, Peter placed the magazine he had been reading down and went and hugged her.
'How are you doing?' he asked.
Assumpta buried her head in his chest. 'Can we go now?'
Peter nodded and taking her hand, led her out.
'Well?' Peter asked.
'It's over. Done and finished with,' Assumpta replied.
Peter sat down and then exclaimed with pain as he rubbed at something in his pocket. It had been in there for ages.
Assumpta looked at him strangely. 'What is it?'
'Nothing,' Peter replied quickly.
Peter sighed. 'You are really stubborn. Do you know that?'
Assumpta smiled. 'What do you have there or do I have to get it out myself?'
Peter gave her a shocked look and took the small box from his pocket.
Assumpta began to smile. She looked at him expectantly.
'What?' Peter asked.
'Well, I don't know about England but where I come from it is customary for the man to ask the woman to marry him,' she replied.
'It's not too soon?'
Assumpta shook her head. 'Three years is definetly not too soon.'

Niamh watched Brendan slam the door and take a seat on the left hand side of the bar. About two minutes later, Siobhan slammed in, taking a seat on the right hand side. Finally Padraig slammed in and took a seat in the middle.
'Nice to see everyone is getting along so well,' Niamh sighed.
Michael Ryan entered the room, and looked at the three sitting at different ends. 'What's going on?' he asked Niamh.
'I was hoping you might tell me,' she replied.
'A pity Assumpta and Peter aren't here. They'd make them behave.'
Niamh nodded.

'This is where you used to play?' Assumpta asked, as they entered a park.
Peter nodded. 'I came here a lot when I was little.' He watched Assumpta, still staring at the ring on her finger and smiled.
Assumpta caught him watching her and smiled back. 'Sorry. I wasn't being very attentive was I?'
'You were being very attentive. Just not to me,' Peter replied.
Assumpta swiped at him and it ended up in a long kiss.
A cough came from behind them.
'Jennie?' Peter exclaimed.
'Welcome back to England Peter,' Jennie replied. 'Hello Assumpta.'
Assumpta nodded. 'Peter, I might just go and have a look over there okay?'
Peter smiled and kissed her softly. 'I love you,' he whispered.
'I love you too,' she replied, wandering off.
'So it happened again,' Jennie said quietly.
Peter sighed. 'This is different.'
'Such as?'
'I don't really want to discuss it.'
'So you're engaged?'
Peter nodded.
'Congratulations,' came the forced reply. She watched Peter's eyes. They were straying to see Assumpta, feeding the ducks. 'I'll let you go.'
Peter looked at her. 'I am sorry.'
Jennie averted her eyes. 'There's someone else that loves you more than I probably ever did.'
Peter sighed and walked over to join Assumpta.

Niamh groaned in the silence of the bar. The trio were still not talking to each other and no one else was there. 
'You alright Niamh?' Siobhan asked.
'What are you three fighting about?'
'What's the matter with this lot?' Assumpta asked, as she and Peter entered the bar.
Niamh smiled. 'Welcome home you two.'
Assumpta and Niamh hugged as Brendan noticed the flash on Assumpta's hand.
'And congratulations,' Brendan smiled.
Niamh looked at him. 
'They're engaged,' Brendan said, pointing at the ring.
After congratulations had been given, Peter looked at the three sitting at different parts of the room. 
'What's going on?' he asked.
Niamh rolled her eyes. 'Wouldn't the rest of us like to know.'
'They had a fight?' Assumpta asked, taking Peter's hand.
'Apparantly so,' Niamh replied.
'I give up. We leave you alone for one week and the whole place is in uproar,' Assumpta sighed.
Peter smiled slightly. 'No battle of the bars I'm afraid.'
'I, uh, have something to tell you,' Niamh said slowly.
Assumpta looked at her quizzically.
'You're going to have a houseguest tomorrow.'
'Who?' Peter asked.
'Leo,' Niamh said slowly.
Assumpta groaned. 'Right. Another miserable person to add to this lot.'
'We're not miserable,' Brendan told her. 'Just mad.'
'Mad is definetly the word,' Assumpta replied.

Assumpta turned out the lights downstairs and moved upstairs. She watched Peter opening and shutting doors to try and find one to stay in.
'Try the first one on the left,' Assumpta told him.
Peter opened the first one on the left to reveal Assumpta's bedroom. He shut it again hurriedly. Assumpta raised her eyebrows.
'Very funny,' Peter told her, looking for a room.
'I wasn't trying to be funny,' Assumpta replied softly.
Peter stopped for a moment, trying to digest what she had just said. 'Assumpta, I don't trust myself to just be able to hold you tonight.'
Assumpta walked over and took his hand, taking her into her bedroom. 'Who said anything about just holding me?' she asked, closing the door.

Ambrose awoke to a jackhammer and clanging. He turned on his side and looked at Niamh who had a pillow over her head. 'You hear it too?'
Kieran began crying.
'So does Kieran,' Niamh sighed.

Peter woke up, a little disorientated as to where he was, until he saw the dark head curled up next to him. He smiled as she sighed with contentment and snuggled up to him. He then frowned, as the noise that had woken him up was starting again. He tried to move to see what it was but only succeeded in waking Assumpta up.
'I didn't mean to wake you,' he told her, kissing her softly.
'Where are you going?' Assumpta asked.
'It sounds like someone is jackhammering outside so I'm just going to remind them that its 7.30 in the morning.'
Assumpta smiled. 'Don't be too long.'

'Mr Quigley, Ambrose is not going to like this,' Liam said.
'Just keep working. It needs to be in place before the tourist bus arrives.'
'Brian what's going on?' Peter asked, coming out from Fitzgerald's.
'Good morning Peter. Just erecting a few statues to point to my new business.'
It was only now that Peter looked at the statue. It was of Brian Quigley and it was pointing down the street. Peter sighed. 'Brian do you have any idea what time it is?'
'We do and it's madness,' Liam replied.
'Frighteningly enough I agree with you,' Peter said slowly.
'Mr Quigley can you please explain yourself?' Ambrose asked. Niamh was carrying Kieran over, who was crying loudly. Kathleen came out in a cross mood and Assumpta came downstairs.
'I thought you were going to stay in bed,' Peter told her. Only Niamh heard that and her eyes widened.
'I like to know what's going on too you know,' Assumpta replied.
'Mr Quigley it is seven thirty seven in the morning. You are disturbing the peace.'
'I need to get them up before the tourist bus arrives.'
'Tourists?' Assumpta asked. 'What are they?'
Brian sent  her a  look. 
'Come on Assumpta,' Peter said. 'Ambrose has got it under control.'
Niamh watched with curiosity as the couple entered the pub.

'It's positively ghastly,' Siobhan said, sipping her Harp.
'I agree,' Assumpta replied. 'But that's his taste for you.'
'Right,' Peter said, picking up the keys, 'I'm off to Cilldargen to do the shopping. Is everything you want on the list?'
'Yes thanks,' Assumpta replied. She kissed him. 'Don't be too long.'
Siobhan watched this with interest until her beeper went off. 'Got to go Assumpta. See you both later.'
After Siobhan and Peter left, Assumpta was left alone in the bar. She began humming to herself as she scrubbed the bartop. She didn't hear Niamh enter the pub and stand watching her.
'Not trying to be blunt, but what's got you in such a good mood?' she asked.
Assumpta gave a start. 'Oh, hi Niamh. Nothing. Just life.'
Niamh looked at her happy face and listened to her hum a bit more. 'Did you and Peter sleep together last night?'
Assumpta's head jerked upwards. 'Keep it down Niamh!'
'So you did sleep together?'
Assumpta watched in horror as Kathleen Hendley closed the door.

Lunchtime came, bringing with it, the gossips of Ballyk. Assumpta's ears were burning. Peter was oblivious to the whole fact because  no one was mentioning names.
'Another pint please Assumpta,' Padraig asked, grinning.
Assumpta glared at  him.
Brendan walked in, whistling cheerfully. 'Pint please Assumpta.'
Assumpta looked at him expectantly.
'No puns or jokes for me?'
Brendan looked at her quizzically.
'Haven't you heard?' Padraig asked.
'Heard what? I've been at school all morning.'
Padraig leaned over and whispered to him. 'Assumpta and know.'
Peter's eyebrow's raised as he now knew what was going on.
A small smiled tugged at Brendan's mouth. 'Well.'
Assumpta crashed the glass down in front of Padraig. 'Thanks Padraig.'
Peter motioned for her to join him in the kitchen.
'What?' Assumpta asked.
Peter smiled. 'This annoys you doesn't it?'
Assumpta looked at him. 'Doesn't it annoy you?'
'I'm used to having people know all my business. It doesn't bother me.'
Assumpta sighed. 'I'm not. Well, usually they know it all anyway, but I don't know why this should bother me?'
Peter smiled and kissed her softly. 'I have absolutely no idea.'