Until You Met Me

Forty Five

Running his fingers over the label on the bottle of wine he held in his hands, Gerard tilted his head slightly, casting a glance towards Molly who was sat next to him, steering her car towards her parents’ home. He was nervous. For the first time in as long as he could remember, he was apprehensive about being in the same room as Xavier and Julia, and as much as Molly had tried to reassure him that there was nothing for him to be worried about, he knew that he wouldn’t relax until he saw it for himself. He knew Molly’s parents. He knew that all they wanted for their daughter was for her to be happy, and that if Molly told them that she was happy with him, they wouldn’t say a word, but it didn’t mean that he wasn’t nervous. He had hurt Molly, and whilst they had fixed things, and let those around them know that they had fixed things, the fact that he had hurt her in the first place hadn’t magically disappeared.

“Is that my father’s favourite?”

Gerard, who had turned back to the bottle in his hand, quirked a bashful grin. “Maybe” he quipped “I thought it would help” he added, shrugging his shoulders slightly.

Molly looked at him softly. “You know that they’re not like that, don’t you?” she asked “I mean, they can be a little...a little much sometimes, but they’re not going to bar you from following me into the house or anything, and they’re not going to glare at you throughout dinner. You know them, Gerard” she added, her lips quirking upwards into a small, encouraging smile.

Gerard admired her smile for a beat before he nodded to himself.

Molly pulled the car to a stop outside of her parents’ house before she leant over, pressing a soft kiss to his cheek. “I love you” she said gently “And they know that. Something went wrong, we fixed it, and we’re OK. It will be fine, and if they are a little frosty, you can bribe them with that nice bottle of wine you bought” she added, kissing the side of his nose playfully.

Gerard laughed. “It’s not a bribe” he quipped.

“You just happened to bring my father’s favourite wine?” Molly teased.

“I know he likes it” Gerard countered, playing along “If it happens to get him to like me a little better too, that’s just a happy coincidence” he added.

Molly pressed another kiss against the side of his nose before she moved to climb out of the car. Gerard hesitated for a second, fiddling with the bottle of wine in his hands, before he followed after her, placing his hand in the one that Molly held out towards him. Twining their fingers together, Molly squeezed his hand gently before she guided him towards the front door, knocking on it a couple of times before it swung open, revealing Julia whose smile was just as warm as always. “You’re the first ones here” she mused.

“Pop lives two minutes from here” Molly quipped, stepping into her mother’s welcoming hug.

“Felipe got held up at work” Julia said as she leant back “They’ll be here soon. Gerard?” she asked, turning her attention towards the defender, holding her arms open to him.

Gerard blinked a couple of times, his expression softening.

Julia stepped towards him, wrapping him a soft hug.

Gerard hesitated, but he slowly wrapped his arms around the older woman, letting out a soft sigh of relief. “Thank you for the invite” he murmured as he pulled away, flashing Julia a shy smile.

Julia smiled back at him, warm and reassuring, before she turned and walked into the house with Molly in tow. Gerard hung back a couple of steps as he followed. It shouldn’t have surprised him. Since he had met Molly, and gotten to know her family, he had always felt comfortable around them, but seeing Julia smile at him, and feeling the familiar warmth of her hug, had made it clear just what he would be losing if things between him and Molly went wrong. He loved her, and his priority was making her happy, but he liked being a part of her family, and it was another thing he didn’t want to lose.

“Can I get anyone another cup of coffee?” Gerard asked as he slipped out of his seat beside Molly, sparing a slightly nervous smile at the other people who were in the room with him. It had gone exactly as Molly had said it would. Xavier and Julia, as well as Poppy, had been as welcoming to him as they had ever been, but Gerard still remained cautious, not wanting Molly’s family to think he was unaware of how much he had hurt her. He knew it, and even if they were in a better place, it wasn’t something he was just going to forget any time soon. He knew he still had a way to go to make things up to her.

“I’d love one” Julia quipped “Xavi, help him” she added, gently prodding her husband out of his seat.

Xavier grumbled, but obliged, standing up. “Pop? Molly?” he asked.

“I’m good” Poppy answered.

“I’d love some tea” Molly said “Milk...”

“No sugar” Gerard finished for her “This isn’t my first time, Molly” he added, rolling his eyes playfully.

Molly playfully poked her tongue out at him, something which caused Gerard to laugh gently before he turned and walked out of the room, missing the significant look that Julia sent to Xavier who nodded his head, wordlessly telling her that he knew what she wanted from him. Letting out a quiet sigh, he followed Gerard into the kitchen before he cleared his throat gently, causing the defender to turn and look at him, a shy smile on his face. “You’re not really here to help me with coffee, are you?” he asked.

Xavier’s lips lifted into a slightly rueful smile. “We just want to know what is happening” he said “You know we like you, and that hasn’t changed, but...but we just want to know that this isn’t going to be some kind of on and off again thing. We’re just trying to look out for Molly, even if it means having a conversation with you that I never imagined I would have to have. Is this real, Gerard?” he asked, his voice soft.

Gerard’s nod was immediate. “Very real” he confirmed.

Xavier’s eyes scrutinised Gerard’s features, looking for any sign of dishonesty, before he nodded, his usual warm smile brightening his features. “I hope it is” he quipped “I mean, I have been rooting for you two since you were kids. I would very like to have something official tying you to my family” he added.

Gerard spluttered out a surprised laugh. “I don’t think we’re quite there yet” he quipped.

Xavier shook his head, laughing embarrassedly. “I didn’t mean to suggest that you were” he said “And Molly would kill me if she thought I was pushing. I am just saying that I like you, and as long as Molly’s happy, you’re always going to be welcome here. Please don’t tell her I said something about an engagement. She already thinks that me and Julia are too invested” he added with another chuckle.

Gerard smiled at him, but didn’t say anything, causing Xavier to excuse himself, still grinning bashfully as he retreated into the hall. Gerard shook his head amusedly before he turned back to the kettle, hoping that whatever Xavier had seen in his expression had been enough to convince him that he was serious about Molly.