A/N: ...will it be a happy ending? ;)


Epilogue

Tuesday; after the elections.

It had taken a whole three days after the fire but, finally, the Hollingsworth kids had each slept in their own bed. At around 8 a.m., wide awake, Frankie was still lying under the covers, checking the news on her phone. It seemed their dad had won the elections, at last. It was Tuesday morning, and suddenly they were the family of the new Mayor of Toronto – except they weren't, or at least not in a sense the press would have approved of.

Being their father's children, Frankie knew her brothers also had news alerts on their phones, and they probably had both seen by now. Strangely enough, she felt completely indifferent to the news. Only a week ago, she had been completely invested in the campaign; gosh, the time she had spent organising that stupid youth forum, and countless press releases before that. Still, right now it hardly seemed to matter.

Nothing really seemed to matter, to be honest, and Frankie felt a bit scared about that. She hadn't spoken to any of her friends in days, and she didn't even feel like calling Winston, not really. She just kept scrolling down the online edition of the Toronto Interpreter, feeling a dash of pain in her guts every time she caught sight of her father's smiling face in one of the press pictures. Still, she couldn't keep her eyes off them.

Frankie didn't honestly think that anything would feel back to normal for a while, what with all the craziness of the past few days. She couldn't quite believe yet that their father was gone for good, that he wouldn't be downstairs for breakfast, that he wouldn't greet her in the mornings or give her a lift to school. And he shouldn't, clearly: Frankie wasn't sure she would ever be able to forgive him for what he had done, and right now she was pretty much set on the idea of never talking to him ever again.

She was sure of this, it was the rational, logical response. Then, she wondered, why did she feel so empty?

Hunter woke up to someone climbing into his bed, the mattress shifting under the sudden new weight. He turned around, trying to open his eyes and take in what was happening, but gosh, he was so tired. It was like his lids were glued together or something.

"What the…"

"It's just me," his sister voice whispered in his ear, as she snuggled in closer to him, her flowery scent invading his nostrils. Hunter relaxed back into the pillows, giving up on trying to wake up. He had gamed until well into the night, and only got in a few hours of sleep – which probably explained why he felt so terrible.

Frankie cuddled up behind him, lacing an arm around his waist and hiding her face on the back of his shoulder. He seriously should have a chat with her about boundaries, he thought. This sneaking into his room and his bed was fine and all, but also no thanks. Maybe he should just lock his door at night or something. He was too tired right now, though, so he just gave up on life and buried his face in the covers once more.

"Dad won," his sister informed him.

Her voice was just a whisper coming from somewhere behind him, but Hunter immediately knew he couldn't go back to sleep now. When Frankie needed to talk, she'd find a way to talk, and this was definitely one of those times. With a sigh, he rolled on his back and turned his face towards her.

"He did, uh?" he mumbled, voice rusty from sleep.

Frankie scooted closer to him, if that was even possible, and rested her head on his shoulder. "I don't really know how I feel about it," she confessed, and that's when Hunter realised he didn't either.

He had always imagined this moment to be very different. He thought he'd be proud of his dad, happy for his success, excited about the prospect of being the Mayor's son. He had cared about the campaign, worked hard on it, tried his best to help his dad achieve this goal. All of this had kind of taken a backseat in the past few days, and now Hunter mostly felt a lot of confusion about the entire situation.

He still was proud and all, in a way – which was kind of confusing him even more, because maybe he shouldn't. Because his father was clearly not the man he had believed him to be for his entire life. He had hit their brother. He had hurt Frankie's feelings. The father he thought he knew would never have done those ugly things.

Hunter turned his eyes back towards Frankie, still resting on his shoulder. She looked lost in her thoughts, her eyes wandering aimlessly around his room. No matter how annoying he found her at times – especially when she sneaked unannounced into his bed – Hunter couldn't possibly fathom the mere idea of going through any of this without her. Their father had left. This was a huge thing, in and of itself, even ignoring all the related ugliness. Hunter was far from being an affectionate person, but right now a little part of him kind of relished in the warmth of his sister, so close to him.

Life as they knew it was over, forever. And deep down, in a place he was absolutely not comfortable exploring, Hunter was afraid their house would never feel the same, now that Dad was gone.

Miles didn't come downstairs until well into the morning. He was still trying to get his head around what had happened the night before, his chat with his mother. He felt like a whiny baby just thinking this, but her words had resonated in his head for hours, and he still wasn't sure exactly how he felt about it all.

He stared down to his phone, where the breaking news of the election still covered half of the screen. He wasn't ready for this, he thought, he wasn't ready to look at pictures, read the headlines, hear congratulatory comments. And for the first time since Sunday, he realised how grateful he was that Mum had kicked him out, for good.

As he entered the kitchen, he found his mother sitting at the breakfast bar, her laptop in front of her. She was so concentrated in whatever she was doing that she didn't even notice him, standing by the door.

"Mum…" he called her, hesitant, trying to catch her attention.

"Miles, honey!"

She looked almost surprised to see him. She raised her eyes to him, expectant, quickly disregarding everything else. Miles took a couple of hesitant steps towards her, his eyes glued to the floor.

"I thought about it," he started, nervous. "I think you should go, tonight – to the party. You were right, it's better this way."

His mother looked right at him, a mix of surprise and relief showing on her face.

"Are you sure, honey?"

"Yes," he reassured her. "I know you can't just skip something like this without questions being asked, and it wouldn't be fair on anyone."

A grateful smile curved his mother's lips. "Thank you, for saying that," she said.

Miles moved closer to her, eyeing the pile of paper on the counter in front of her. He hadn't noticed it at first, but his mother was surrounded by a bunch of leaflets and business cards.

"…What's all this?" he asked.

His mother's face changed slightly, at his question, almost caught doing something she wasn't supposed to.

"Oh. It's just some contacts… phone numbers. Of family therapists." She dropped the last piece of information like a bomb, and Miles blinked back at her a few times, puzzled. "I think we should give it a try," she continued, "You know, it might help all of us… to deal."

Miles found himself staring at those resources, mesmerised. Words like Conflict and Communication popped up on most of the leaflets, and Miles was surprised to realise that he didn't feel anything in particular about it all. He felt almost empty, and if anything a bit disoriented, in a light-headed kind of way.

His mother seemed to misinterpret his silence, though. Her posture betrayed a certain anxiousness, as she hurried to distance herself from what she thought he might be thinkig.

"I was going to talk to you and your siblings about it, I wasn't-"

"Mum." He stopped her.

Diana silenced herself, waiting for him to continue.

And Miles walked up to her, stretched out his arms, and hugged her. She seemed startled for a second, but then hugged him back, lacing her arms around his shoulders and cupping the back of his head in her hand.

"I know you're trying," he whispered in her ear, "And I'm sorry I-"

"Shhh…. It's okay…"

She ran a hand up and down the back of his neck, soothingly, and Miles let his forehead rest on her shoulder. His mum was warm, and soft, and he couldn't remember the last time she had held him like this.

"It's okay," she repeated, "You have nothing to feel sorry about. Okay?"

He squeezed her a little tighter, holding on to her like to a lifebelt after a shipwreck. It felt very foreign to him, but also good. Maybe he didn't have to keep his defences up all the time, he thought; maybe he could lean back, and let her take care of him, for once.

In the early afternoon, their mother disappeared to go get ready for the party. She had a hair and makeup appointment at the salon, and then would head straight to the venue to fix last minute details before the guests arrived. Frankie wondered if she felt nervous at the prospect of seeing their dad, so soon, if she felt the burden of having to perform in front of the press. If she did, she wasn't showing it, anyway: she looked on top of things, as always, busy and flawless.

All three of them gathered in the den, in a sort of silent agreement to stick together now that they had the house to themselves. The TV was on, but they weren't paying too much attention to it. Hunter was mostly on his phone, and Miles was sitting at the corner of the sofa, unusually quiet. Frankie took a seat right by his side, her eyes wandering in search for his.

"You did a good thing you know?" she told him.

Miles looked back at her questioningly, so she clarified, "It made Mum really happy."

It was sort of an understatement – Mum had been literally beaming when she found her in the kitchen after Miles had left. Frankie thought it was really sweet of him to try and make things right.

Her brother didn't really answer, but she caught the faintest smile slightly twisting his face as he lowered his gaze. She patted him amicably over his knee, and then headed back to her corner near the window, where she had left the book she was reading before lunch.

As she did so, though, the sound of an all-too-familiar voice forced her to turn back on herself. It was no mistake, their father had just appeared on TV, in the latest edition of the local news. Surrounded by his campaign staff, relaxed and charming, laughing pleasantly at the reporter's questions, there he stood: her dad, the newly-elected mayor of Toronto.

Frankie immediately saw the changed expression on Miles's face. He was almost transfixed, his eyes staring wide at the images on the screen, his fists tensing at the sound of their father's voice. She went for the remote as quickly as she could, and immediately switched off the TV.

Miles was practically panting, his face a mask. She turned towards Hunter, who had stopped still where he was and was staring back at her, eyes wide in anticipation. They exchanged a quick look, then both turned back to their brother.

Frankie traced back her steps hesitantly towards Miles, stopping short of actually touching him.

"He's gone, Miles," she said, quietly.

He raised his eyes to meet hers, his expression hard. He didn't say a word, just nodded, exhaling slowly. For a second, it was just like Sunday night, all over again. But then he closed his eyes, and as he breathed in and out once again, his tensed shoulders seemed to relax a little. And Frankie thought that she was incredibly proud of her brother.

She decisively covered the little distance left between them, making space for herself on his lap. She crossed her arms around his neck, placing a gentle kiss on his cheek. Hunter moved up from his spot on the loveseat just opposite them, and she felt him dropping down right behind her. She turned her head towards him, without leaving Miles's shoulder, and she saw her twin nestled up on the sofa, his head reclined on the backrest. She gave him a tentative smile. He smiled back, the corner of his lips curving slightly upwards.

They were all right. Everything was going to be all right.

Fin


A/N: Finally, this story is now complete! I truly hope you enjoyed it, and I look forward to reading your comments :)

A special mention to a guest reviewer called Lilly, who mentioned a while back she would like to see how the Hollingsworths ended up in family therapy: I only managed to briefly touch on it here, but I should still credit her for the idea!

I have also re-uploaded the previous chapters, after fixing a few mistakes I noticed. I made a few minor edits to Ch1 following your comments, trying to tone down Hunter's affectionate side. Nothing major, but if you go back and it sounds different, that's why.

A final thank you to all of you who followed this story until the end. You're all awesome, and you all deserve a hug! :)