They had been in London for almost two years already, and while Ingrid was growing like a weed, and easily picking up English, her Swedish was lagging behind. Henrik felt a twinge of guilt at not teaching their daughter his mother tongue, but being so busy at the hospital, it was difficult to switch between the languages at home, especially when Roxanna hadn't had time to learn much more than rudimentary Swedish as well, given how often she was working late at the hospital. Some weeks it felt like they barely saw each other at all, and Henrik could feel the creeping depression start to blacken his thoughts once more, the longer that they were ships passing in the night.
"What has you wool gathering this evening?" his wife asked as she took a seat next to him on the sofa, curling up into his side as she let her head come to rest on his chest.
"I was just thinking about how smoothly our lives have gone since we moved here to London. There hasn't really been any bumps in our pathway, even if we are working so often. I haven't even given John and his issues much thought, since he hasn't called or written in over a year." Roxanna stiffened in his arms, and Henrik frowned a little as he let his hand come to rest on her shoulder, squeezing it a little as he waited for her to tell him what was bothering her. As the silence stretched on into uncomfortability, he drew in a long breath and then opened his mouth to ask the question that was on his mind. "What did I say that caused you to react that way?"
There was another period of silence before Roxanna took a matching long breath. "I actually saw John today at the hospital. He was talking to the head of my ward, and then he took me to lunch." Abruptly, she stopped speaking and snaked her arm around his waist, holding on to him tightly as they allowed silence to settle down around them once more. He wanted to prod her for more details, but knew that she would open up more in her own time. Still, the waiting was difficult, and he had to fight to keep from just demanding the answers that he wanted. "It was a long lunch. I guess that he's headed to the Continent to start work on some trial relevant to his interests."
Again, she cut off quickly and then pressed her body closer to his, as if to assure herself that he was really there, and Henrik felt a slight flame of anger flare up in his chest as he began to imagine all the things that John could have done to make his beloved wife react in this manner. Pursing his lips into a firm line, Henrik stroked her arm a few times as he tried to tamp down on the anger in his chest, even though he was happy that he could still feel that emotion, since it was usually the first to be subsumed by the black veil of his depression. "Do I need to have words with John?" he finally managed to say, hoping that those words came out at least somewhat evenly.
"No, because I don't think that we'll be seeing him for a while, Henrik. And I would much rather focus on us and our happiness. Maja sent me a letter, telling me how much Freddie loved his last visit with us. And…"
"She offered to send some Swedish picture books for Ingrid, so that she can hear you read the traditional stories of her homeland. It's a thoroughly sweet offer, and I wrote back to tell her that I would love for her to do that. And I think that I want to also read them to her. I know that you'll have to correct my accent, but this would be a good way for me to learn more of your language. It's been on the backburner for far too long, as I've been so overworked here, but it is still something so important to me."
"I would love to do that with you, Rox," he murmured before dropping a soft kiss to the top of her head. A part of him knew that he wouldn't get any more information out of Roxanna that evening, and he tried not to let that gnaw at his mind, since he wanted to know everything that had occurred during their visit. It was enough to upset his wife, that much he knew, but Roxanna would not appreciate the interrogation from him, especially on one of their few nights together. "And since we have tomorrow off, by some rota miracle, what would you say to heading up to bed and becoming reacquainted with each other?"
"I like the way that you think, Henrik," she replied as she contorted her body so that she could capture his lips in a soft, tender, kiss. "It has been too long since we have had the opportunity for prolonged intimacy, and since Ingrid has so graciously started to sleep in until nine when we let her, I think that we can stay up and explore where things lead us to their fullest extent." He nodded before she kissed him once more, then sliding off the couch to stand up and hold her hand out to him. Henrik took it without hesitation, allowing Roxanna to tug him to his feet as well, welcoming her arm around his waist as they made their way down the hall to their bedroom. "I have missed so much, darling. I know that it will get easier when I've had the opportunity to rise up in the ranks, when I have more experience, and aren't expected to stay late so that those above me can head out to fundraisers and galas and the like, but I feel like I'm just missing so much. I wish that we could have less crazy schedules. I wish that we were still at Holby and St James."
Tears clogged her throat, and he stopped them just inside their room to draw her into the warmest embrace that he could manage in that moment, her sorrow starting to spiral his own dark feelings even deeper into the void. "Life doesn't often allow us to have the wishes that we want. We have to follow the path that our decisions lead us on, even if that path is dark and scary at times."
"I know. Henrik?"
"Yes?" he asked as he led her over to their bed, his fingers starting to undo the buttons on her blouse, letting his fingers caress her skin in delicate patterns as he waited for her to reply.
"You do love me, yes? You would tell me if you didn't?"
His heart shattered with those questions, and Henrik's brain circled back to Roxanna telling him that John had paid her a visit earlier that afternoon. He knew that their friend had been the one to place doubts in Roxanna's mind, and once more that flame of anger flared up in his chest as he slid her blouse off her shoulders with every ounce of control that he had, not wanting to startle her with his frustration. "Of course I would tell you if I had fallen out of love with you. I haven't, though. I love you more than I did yesterday. I'll probably love you more tomorrow. But I might just have my love plateau, since there are times of coasting in every relationship. I would never destroy you by pretending to feel something I didn't. I love you, Roxanna Hanssen, from now until the end."
Roxanna looked up at him, her eyes shiny with unshed tears, and gave him a brilliant smile as she nodded. "I'm sorry, I just needed to hear those words from you tonight. Now, finally, we can make love, and renew our covenant with each other." Henrik dipped his head in return before capturing her lips in a soft kiss, allowing her to take the lead in order to help her regain her equilibrium from John's obviously upsetting visit that afternoon.