Disclaimer: Doc Martin, the program and characters are the property of Buffalo Pictures.

CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE

Family Life

Chris regained consciousness but fell into an exhausted sleep soon after. Martin, having made peace with his father left him so that Elizabeth could return and be with Chris once he woke again. When he did finally open his eyes Chris saw Elizabeth by his side. She was holding his hand and staring into the distance.

"A penny for your thoughts?" Chris said now coming fully awake. Having been checked over thoroughly when he regained consciousness earlier, the medical staff had been able to check on him with less frequency which Elizabeth was thankful for, as she was hoping that they may now finally find some private time together.

"I was thinking how brave you were saving Phil like that and about how I felt when I thought you may have been dead. I never want to feel like that again Chris, and I don't know about you, but I'm sure about how I feel. So are you ever going to ask me to marry you?"

Chris felt he must still be unconscious and surreptitiously dug his nails into his palm to make sure he was actually awake.

"Are you sure? What about everything I mentioned earlier?"

"I'm not bothered by your scars, and your actions today show that you are no longer the selfish, pitiful excuse for a man that you used to be. Now are you making excuses so you can let me down lightly or are you going to propose?" Elizabeth asked determinedly.

"Elizabeth, I'd like nothing more than for you to do me the honour of becoming my wife. Will you marry me?"

"Yes, Chris I'll marry you. What a surprise, I thought you'd never ask" Elizabeth said with a smile as she bent over and gently kissed him until she noticed him wince in pain.

"Ouch, sorry – my head is still very sore and you bumped my sprained wrist. I can't wait to get out of here so I can show you how I feel properly, but at the moment, I just feel so weak."

"There's time enough yet" Elizabeth said as she once more took his hand in hers, at least now we know where we stand with each other everything else can wait" she said staying with him until he fell asleep.

A week later Chris was back home although he wasn't back at work yet. It was his birthday and a party was being held for him at Martin and Louisa's house that evening. Elizabeth had come down for the day and they'd spent an enjoyable day together and Chris was now getting ready to head across the road.

"It's hard to believe that Martin has actually forgiven me, and I've been accepted into his family, I feel a bit like it's all a dream and I'm scared I'm going to wake up" Chris said to Elizabeth as he admired the dress she was wearing for the party this evening.

"Well it's not a dream, so you don't need to worry about waking up" Elizabeth said. "Just sit back and enjoy your birthday party, it's going to be a lovely night, I just know it is" Elizabeth said. "Jeff, Clare and Amelia should be here soon so that will make it a real family evening. It's hard to believe that Jeff going to that one surgical conference in London has made such a change to our lives. It's unlikely he would have met Martin and struck up a friendship if he'd not attended it, and then we would probably never have met, I hate to think about how close we came to not meeting each other."

"It's a horrible thought isn't it, I prefer to think of it as being destined to meet" Chris said with a smile as he pulled Elizabeth to him and kissed her.

"Mmmm, I suppose you're right" Elizabeth said returning his kiss. They were disturbed just then by some headlights turning into Martin and Louisa's driveway. "It looks like the rest of the family have arrived. Let's go birthday boy" Elizabeth said pulling Chris along with her.

Catching up with Jeff and family, they all arrived at the front door together. "You look nice tonight Mum" Jeff said, giving Elizabeth a quick kiss on the cheek. "By the way, happy birthday Chris, nice to see you up and about again" Jeff said as he shook Chris' hand.

"Happy birthday Dochris" Amelia said as she gave Chris a parcel.

"For me? Why thank you Amelia" Chris said, bending down to retrieve the parcel. Louisa hearing everyone arrive opened the front door and ushered everyone to the table which had been set with party hats and decorations and plenty of delicious food, some of which had been cooked earlier by Terry before he left for work.

Chris was given the seat of honour which had been decorated with balloons courtesy of Phil, and had a very elaborate party hat sitting on the placemat in front of it. To his right sat Elizabeth and his left sat Phil. Martin sat at the opposite end with Louisa to his left and Jeff to his right. Clare sat next to Jeff and Amelia, and Amelia was next to Phil. Joan was next to Elizabeth and another seat had been left for Terry in case he was able to leave work early and join them.

As Chris sat down, Martin helped Phil to put a very large present on the floor in front of Chris, just near the gift that he had been given by Amelia. A small gift was handed to him from Joan too. Chris was so happy he didn't know how to contain his joy. Starting with the gift from the Stones he read the card which had "Happy birthday Dochris, welcome to the family. Love Jeff, Clare and Amelia" With slightly moist eyes he proceeded to open the gift from them. Carefully unwrapping the paper he discovered a lovely photo album and a silver photo frame. "This is for putting all of your new happy memories in. We wanted you to be able to treasure each day that you spend with Mum, and this was one of the best ways we could think of to help you to do that" Jeff said.

Chris got up to kiss Clare and shake Jeff's hand. He then bent down and thanked Amelia too. "Thank you all, what a thoughtful present" Chris said. "It's just the thing to go with my new digital camera that Elizabeth gave me. Why do I get the feeling that you worked in together on this?" Chris said with a laugh.

Going back to his seat he then opened the card from Martin, Louisa and Phil. "Happy birthday 'Grandad Dochris' all our love and best wishes from your family."

With glistening eyes he looked up at his family and then started to unwrap the accompanying very large and bulky present. Pulling the paper away from it he discovered a brand new multi function printer, scanner and photocopier.

"We thought you'd like to be able to print out photos from your new digital camera and to be able to put them straight into your new photo album" Louisa said with a smile.

"It's wonderful, thank you so much. What a thoughtful gift" Chris said as he got up to give Louisa a kiss and hug Martin. Martin was a bit stiff but he accepted the hug. Chris knelt down and thanked Phil too and shook his hand solemnly.

Last but not least, Chris opened Joan's card. "Happy birthday big brother, hope you have a wonderful birthday. Love your little sister"

Thanking Joan for the card, he opened up the present to find a camera case that would fit his new camera and some deluxe photo paper.

Walking to Joan, Chris gave her a hug and thanked her.

Elizabeth then pulled Chris' new camera out of her handbag and asked everyone to put on their party hats so that she could take a photo. To give him credit, Martin did try but his head was too big and the hat broke, so Elizabeth took a photo of him with his ripped hat instead. Gathering everyone together she took several shots and then said "Your first documented happy memories for your new photo album".

"I'll print them out tomorrow and put them straight into my book" he said with a smile.

There was plenty of food available and soon everyone was eating. Phil and Amelia finished theirs first and were allowed to go and play leaving the adults to enjoy their conversation uninterrupted.

"So what ended up happening with Margaret then?" Clare asked after the children had left.

"Margaret is currently enjoying a stay at Her Majesty's Pleasure. I hope she uses the time to stop and think about how shallow her life is and decides to improve things but I don't hold out much hope. Having no skills at all other than socialising and spending money I don't think she's likely to find a cushy occupation behind bars. The only job that I can think she'd have any skill at would be cleaning, and to picture Margaret cleaning toilets to earn enough money to survive inside is a sobering thought, it will no doubt broaden her character though" Chris said.

"Things have certainly been eventful for you in the last couple of weeks haven't they?" Jeff said thinking of everything that they had been through recently.

"You could certainly say that, and there is one other thing that we thought we should probably mention this evening too" Louisa said.

"What's that?" Clare asked curiously.

"We're going to have another baby" Louisa said, grinning happily.

"Congratulations" everyone said as they got up to wish Martin and Louisa all the best.

Joan was beside herself with joy. "I'm going to be a Grandma again, I can't wait. How far are you along?" Joan asked.

"Not far yet, that's why we're not letting anyone else know yet. We're about 6 weeks along, but we thought tonight would be a good night to share the news" Louisa replied.

"Can this night get any better?" Chris said. "Thank you all, for the best evening I've ever enjoyed, lovely family, food, presents and best of all lovely news. Congratulations to you both, I'm so happy for you" Chris said kissing Louisa on the cheek and hugging Martin once again.

Not long after Martin and Louisa had shared their news, Phil and Amelia came running in and Amelia said "Dochris, Dochris, have you seen your birthday cake yet?"

"He's not Dochris anymore" Phil said. "He's Grandad Dochris – Daddy said so."

"I was wrong" Chris said, "It appears my evening can get better."

THE END

A/N. Thank you to all who have read and reviewed and special thanks to Griffinstar for her help throughout. I hope you have enjoyed my first attempt at fanfic as much as I enjoyed writing it.