Title: The Unfinished Fanfic Author: Deb Jones "Come on then Fionn," said Assumpta. "Let's see if we can blow the cobwebs away, and better still blow that man out of my head!" So saying she clipped Fionn's lead onto his collar, laughed at the excited circles he turned and banged Fitzgerald's door shut behind her. As they headed down the main street of Ballykissangel past all the old familiar sights, Assumpta looked at the setting sun on the mountains in the distance and as usual its beauty stunned her. Would she be doing the right thing if she left Ballyk? How could she consider leaving such a peaceful, beautiful place? She could hear the Angel River lapping to the left of her, what would she do without its serenity to calm her in times of crisis? All her friends were here in Ballyk, all her memories of her parents and childhood were here in this small town but so, unfortunately, was the man she loved but could never have. Peter Clifford was a priest, married to the church. In Siobhan's words although he was one of the two eligible bachelors in town, "He doesn't count." For months now Assumpta had tried to put him out of her mind. She'd told herself a million times that she was wasting her time, but when Peter looked at her in a certain way, when his eyes met hers and he smiled in his shy way it may have been wishful thinking but Assumpta felt there was something he wanted to say. "What am I going to do Fionn? Do I stay or do I go? Do I tell Peter how I feel? Oh I'm so confused, I don't know what to do." In reply Fionn licked Assumpta's hand, pulled as hard as he could on the lead and charged off down the road dragging Assumpta behind him. * * * * * * Meanwhile Peter Clifford was not having a much better time in St Josephs church. He'd just finished the christening of little Dermot Fitzpatrick who'd made more noise than a pack of hyenas, and Peter's head was splitting. Apart from that Peter hadn't had a decent nights sleep for weeks, he just couldn't get 'that woman' out of his head. Assumpta Fitzgerald seemed to fill every waking moment and now she was invading his sleep as well. Only in his dreams did Peter ever feel totally contented. In his dreams he and Assumpta were free to laugh and touch, to kiss, to make love. There was never any guilt and everyone was happy for them. If only life were as easy! "I love her," Peter muttered to himself. "Does she have any feelings for me? I need to find out, but what if she doesn't, what if she couldn't care less? I don't think I could stand that." As he locked the church door behind him Peter considered the situation yet again. He knew that he had to speak to Assumpta but when would he ever find the courage? * * * * * * Back in the warmth of his house Peter hurriedly pulled on his jeans and jumper before searching in the bathroom for a couple of aspirin. Washing them down with a glass of water he settled down to relax and watch some TV, but still feeling heady and restless decided that a brisk walk in the cool February air would probably do him more good. Grabbing a warm jacket and scarf he strode off down the main road oblivious to the darkening sky and the rumble of thunder in the air. An hour later Peter found himself wandering around the Wicklow lanes completely lost. His head had been so full of thoughts of Assumpta that he hadn't paid any attention to his surroundings and now where on earth was he? He vaguely remembered passing an old cottage a few miles back so perhaps the best thing to do would be to return there and get directions. He just hoped the cottage was inhabited or he might be in real trouble! Just as he turned round to retrace his steps the heavens opened and rain poured down, soaking Peter instantly. He started to run down the lane hoping to find shelter along the way but stopped when a large bedraggled dog with a lead attached seemed to appear from nowhere, wagging its tail in a friendly way at Peter. "Fionn! It is you isn't it old fella, what are you doing here?" Checking Fionn's nametag Peter felt a shiver run down his spine. Where was Assumpta? She'd never let Fionn run free around the countryside like this. What had happened to her? His imagination started to run wild; he pictured Assumpta injured in some country lane, crying for help. Oh God where was she? "Fionn where is she? Show me where Assumpta is. Come on, good boy." Taking Fionn's lead in his hand Peter set off down the lane praying that Fionn would lead him to Assumpta. * * * * * * * * By now Assumpta had decided that this wasn't one of her better days! Here she was standing in the middle of a field, dripping wet and freezing cold. And it was all Fionn's fault! She would kill that dog when she eventually found him! He'd decided that rabbit hunting was far more fun than walking sedately on the lead so he'd pulled just a little harder than normal, nearly wrenched Assumpta's arm out of its socket and off he'd gone. All she had to do was find him! She stood by the gate in the field feeling totally exasperated and bellowed at the top of her voice, "Fionn, you mangy mutt, where the hell are you? Fionn come here!" Silence was the only reply and Assumpta was beginning to quietly worry. Where was Fionn? She was sure that he'd be alright but what if he couldn't find his way home. She began to walk faster calling out Fionn's name. What if he'd had an accident, what if someone went off with him. Assumpta told herself not to be so stupid but she was starting to panic. Tears filled her eyes as she raced along the lanes, splashing through the puddles. Suddenly above the noise of the pouring rain Assumpta thought that she heard something. She stood still for a moment and listened. "I must be hallucinating ,"she thought, "it sounds like Peter. Will I never get him out of my head!" But to her astonishment a few seconds later a very wet Fionn was jumping up to say hello to her, held on a very tight lead by Peter. "Peter!" she managed to say, but before she could say anything else he had her tightly in his arms. "Assumpta I thought you'd been hurt!" Peter managed to whisper, " I've been so worried. Are you OK?" And then, as if realising that he'd done and said too much, he pushed her away from him and stood looking at her. "You are absolutely soaking Assumpta. Come on we'll have to find shelter. There's a cottage just down the lane here, perhaps they'll be able to help us." With this Peter grabbed Assumpta's hand and they set off down the road. * * * * * * * * It was apparent when they reached the cottage that there was no-one in and there was no convenient window to climb through. At the rear of the cottage however was an old barn that, although somewhat dilapidated, would do to keep the rain off them. It looked as if it hadn't been used for many years but still had piles of hay lying about. For a few moments Assumpta and Peter stood in the middle of the barn looking around. Fionn had settled himself down immediately and was already sleeping contentedly on a large pile of hay. "Well we'd better sort you out first Assumpta," said Peter. "You are absolutely dripping!" "I'll be alright Peter, stop fussing," she replied. "It'll dry soon enough." "Not before you've caught pneumonia," he answered, removing his coat and scarf. "Now take off that wet cardigan. You'll be perfectly respectable, you've still got your T-shirt on underneath." "Oh this is ridiculous," muttered Assumpta as she removed her cardigan. "You're worse than my mother was!" At that moment she was acutely conscious of Peter staring at her. She could see the muscles in his face tightening and that gentle look in his eyes. "You look frozen ," he said , pulling her towards him and tenderly starting to rub her arms to warm them up. At his touch a sudden shock seemed to pass through both of them and they gazed intently into each others eyes. Peter reached out and wiped a stray raindrop from Assumpta's cheek. "You have such soft skin," he told her quietly, pulling her towards him. Smiling, Assumpta moved her hand across Peter's face as she reached for him. "You need a shave," she whispered, tracing the shape of his jaw with her finger. "Assumpta..........." Without another word, Peter pulled her close and then bent his head and kissed her. The kiss was intense and passionate and they were both breathless when Peter finally pulled away, leaning his forehead against Assumptas. "I love you Assumpta, I have done for a long time. Do you think there's a chance that we can be together?" Assumpta lay on the hay feeling dazed. She wanted Peter so much that their worries about the future really didn't matter at that moment! "I love you Peter," she assured him. "And I'll spend my life proving it!" * * * * * * * * Outside the storm continued to rage but Assumpta and Peter were totally oblivious to this. As the rain thundered down onto the roof of the barn they lay with their arms wrapped around each other, happy to have at last spoken of their love for each other. Feelings of peace and contentment filled both of them and, as the evening drew on, they slept. Assumpta woke up feeling stiff and uncomfortable, and for a moment couldn't remember where she was. By now it was very dark in the barn and she could hear Fionn scratching urgently at the door. She looked around her and was just able to make out Peter's sleeping form. Memories of the last few hours flooded into her mind and she smiled contentedly. Picking up a handful of hay she crept towards Peter and started tickling him on the face, laughing at him blinking and twitching as he woke. Suddenly two large hands grabbed her round the waist, and Peter threw her backwards on to the hay laughing at the expression on her face. He put his arms round her and began kissing her in unexpected places so that she squirmed and tried to wriggle away. Then he started kissing her more passionately than she'd ever known. She could hardly breathe but she didn't want him to stop, she'd never known such happiness. Fionn on the other hand had different ideas, he was desperate to get out of the barn. Scratching on the door didn't seem to be working so he started to attract his owner's attention by licking her on the nose! "Help! Peter! What's happening?" laughed Assumpta. "Well thanks a lot Fionn, that's really spoilt the moment." She and Peter both sprang to their feet, brushing away the hay from their clothes. "We'd better get moving anyway Assumpta," muttered Peter, "Goodness knows what time it is." * * * * * * As they approached Fitzgeralds Assumpta suddenly let out a wail. "Oh my God Peter! They're queuing up to get in! We must be really late." Sure enough there waiting at the door were Brendan, Siobhan, Niamh and Padraig, all peering down the road at Assumpta and Peter and giving them very strange looks. "Don't panic," said Peter. "Just remember that we can't say anything yet until I've been to see Father Mac. If he hears anything on the grapevine before I've officially resigned I could really be in hot water. Don't worry, no-one will suspect a thing." Looking braver than he felt Peter took Fionn's lead, put a smile on his face and waited for the onslaught of questions that he felt sure would come. Later that evening Niamh was feeling very puzzled. What was going on between Peter and Assumpta? Ever since they'd returned from their walk with Fionn they'd seemed different. Niamh had noticed little glances between the two of them and odd little smiles for no apparent reason, and to top it all Assumpta had come in with loads of hay in her hair! Padraig had had plenty to say about that of course but Assumpta had simply told him to get lost! Niamh had suspected for some time that Assumpta liked Father Clifford but was there more to it than that? She had to find out!