Walk in the Park (1SHOT41D)

Although they are no longer together, Liam and Ruby still spend every Saturday in the park together with their daughter. Is their time together just another walk in the park or something all together different?

1SHOT41D

Based on a true story, dedicated to my brother Zander...I miss you x

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1. Walk in The Park

 

Every Saturday the routine was the same, and today would be no different. Liam had left Ruby three years ago, but every Saturday, rain or shine, they spent the day together in the park as a family with their daughter. Abigail, who was four when her father left; adjusted well to her parents separation. Her mother however did not. Ruby had been with Liam since she was fourteen, and married him right after they graduated high school. All totalled, Ruby had spent eighteen years with Liam before they separated, so for Ruby, learning how to be on her own, even three years after Liam was gone, was still a hard adjustment as she tried to wrap her head around the fact that some people weren't meant to be together forever.

 

Ruby, waiting by the front door for her daughter, smiled as she heard the sound of a child's footsteps coming down the stairs. Looking up and seeing her daughter, Ruby let out a sigh as she thought of how much more Abigail looked like her father every day. While Abby's personality was much the same as her mother's, her looks were that of her father. The piercing blue eyes and uniquely bronze shade of hair that the little girl possessed left little question as to her paternity; Abby was without a doubt Liam's child. When Liam had first left Ruby, it was hard for her to look at her daughter without feeling her heart break all over again, but over time, Ruby came to be thankful for the Abby's resemblance to her father because it served as a reminder of just how loved she once was.

 

"Ready to go see Daddy, Mumma?" Abby asked her mother as she reached the bottom of the stairs.

 

"I sure am Princess," Ruby replied taking her daughter's hand in her own and shutting the door behind them as they walked out of the house.

 

The day was sunny and clear, and Ruby swore she saw Liam's musical talent in her daughter as Abby sang along with the radio as they made their way over to the park. As she drove, Ruby couldn't help but think of all the little things Liam was missing out on with his daughter – from helping with homework to seeing Abby ride a two wheeler for the first time – Liam was missing so much, and it saddened Ruby to know that there would inevitably still be more memories that Abby wouldn't be able to share with her dad.

 

How did my life end up like this? Ruby wondered to herself. This wasn't supposed to be how it turned out. I wasn't supposed to be thirty four and a single mother. Turning into the parking lot near the park, Ruby shook her head to clear her thoughts before getting out of the car. Opening up the back door, Ruby helps Abby out of the car and the two of them set off on their usual walking path that they take on their way to meet up with Liam.

 

Walking through the gates of the park, Ruby welcomed the momentary silence she was surrounded in, knowing that Abby would start in with questions any second now. It had become their routine ever since Abby came home from school crying one day last year. When Ruby asked her what was wrong, Abby explained how there was a project she had to do for school about her family, and she was having trouble remembering things from before her dad left. Ruby's heart broke when she realized that she was partially responsible for Abby not remembering. It wasn't that she refused to talk about Liam, it just hurt too much to think about how her life used to be.

 

Not wanting her daughter to grow up without memories of her dad from when she was little, Ruby's solution was that on Saturdays, when they were on their way to see Liam, Abby could ask questions about her dad or anything else she wanted and Ruby would answer them for her. In the end, it helped them both. Abby loved hearing about her dad from her mother and telling the stories to her daughter allowed Ruby a way to try to move on.

 

True to form, Abby had not been walking for more than two minutes with her mother before she started with her questions. "Will you tell me about when Daddy asked you to marry him, Mumma?" Abby asked as she skipped down the path. As soon as she heard the question come out of her child's mouth, Ruby couldn't help but tense a bit. She knew that inevitably Abby would ask about this, but had hoped that it would have been later rather than sooner. Unable to deny her daughter anything; Ruby nodded, took her daughter's hand, and began her story as the two of them made their way through the park.

 

"When your Daddy asked me to marry him, we were still in high school," Ruby started explaining, and soon found herself lost in her own memories as she told the story to Abigail…

 

"Eleanor, it's just a stupid dance. I don't see what the big deal is," Ruby huffed as Eleanor flitted around the room helping her get ready.

 

"It is not just a stupid dance Ruby. It's prom. This is the culminating event of your high school career. It's going to be the thing you all tell your children about. It's what you’re going to remember most when you think back years from now. Now…stop fidgeting and let me finish your makeup. You want to look good for Liam don't you?" Eleanor asked, knowing that the mention of Liam would be enough to keep Ruby still for a few more minutes.

 

Eleanor added a few final touches to Ruby's makeup and hair before finally declaring the look complete. "There, you're all finished. That wasn't so bad was it? Now go sit on my bed while I finish up my makeup and then we'll get dressed. The boys should be here by then," Eleanor said, moving out of the way so Ruby could see how she looked.

 

Looking at her reflection in the mirror, Ruby couldn't believe she was looking at herself. Her normal plain, pale face was not what she saw. In its place was the reflection of a girl with rosy cheeks, and pink lips, and although Ruby felt as though she was wearing more makeup than a circus clown, the overall effect was one of natural beauty. "Eleanor, you did a great job, thank you." Eleanor merely nodded in response and continued working on her own face and hair.

 

A short while later, just as the girls were finishing putting on their dresses, Eleanor's mum knocked on the door, letting the girls know that Louis and Liam had arrived. Both girls were anxious to see their boys, having been away from them all day getting ready, and as they made their way to where Liam and Louis were waiting, both couldn't help the smiles that broke across their faces to see how handsome the boys looked in their tuxedos.

 

After what seemed like a million pictures were taken, Louis made his way to his car with Eleanor as Liam made his way with Ruby to his car. As soon as she was inside the car, Ruby couldn't help but be a little concerned about Liam. He hadn't really been himself the past week or so, and even tonight, though he seemed excited about going to prom with Ruby, he seemed nervous and a little out of his element. Hoping that it wasn't anything serious, Ruby pushed the thoughts out of her mind as Liam reached the catering hall where the prom was being held.

 

The prom itself was nothing out of the ordinary. A dinner was served, pictures were taken, the DJ played all of the popular songs, and the prom queen and king were crowned. Shortly after the prom king and queen had their official dance; Liam took Ruby by the hand and walked her to the outdoor reception area near where the prom was going on. The music from inside could still be heard as the couple walked over to the gazebo that was a short distance away.

Once they had reached their destination, Ruby could see how nervous

 

Liam was getting. His hands were trembling and sweaty, and his breathing had increased. "Is everything okay Liam? You seem really nervous," asked Ruby, her voice laced with worry and concern. She had never seen Liam like this before.

 

Liam quickly kissed Ruby on the cheek and took her hands in his own. He had never been as scared in his life as he was now. What if she says no he thought? Struggling to figure out where to begin, Liam finally blurted out "You know I love you Ruby, don't you?" Thrown by the question, all Ruby could manage was a nod of her head as a response. Ruby's affirmative answer was all Liam needed to gather his courage to say what he wanted to.

 

Taking a small step back and a final deep breath, Liam poured his heart out to the one person who meant everything to him.

 

"Ruby, I love you so much. These past four years together have been…amazing, and there was no one else I would have rather spent them with. You taught me how to love Ruby, and I can't believe that I am lucky enough that you opened your heart to me in return. I know we're young, but we're about to start our journey into the real world soon, and there is no one else I would rather have by my side for that journey than you, because I know with you by my side I can get through anything."

 

Ruby could do nothing to stop the tears that began to fall because of the sweet things Liam was saying to her. She was so caught up in what Liam had said that she didn't even notice that he had gotten down on one knee until he gently tugged on her hand.

 

Knowing it was now or never, Liam braced himself and finally asked the question he had wanted to ask all night long.

"Ruby Caitlyn Greene, I don't want to go another day without knowing that you'll be mine for the rest of forever. Will you marry me?" Liam then presented Ruby with the ring that was once his grandmother's and waited for her answer.

 

Shocked couldn't even begin to describe what Ruby was feeling in this moment. She had known now for some time that Liam was her forever, and although she knew that he loved her as well, she never really understood how much Liam loved her until this moment.

 

"Of course I'll marry you Liam. I love you. So much," was Ruby's reply. As soon as Liam heard her answer, he slipped the ring onto Ruby's left ring finger, and stood up and kissed his fiancé. Realizing it was starting to get late, and that the prom would be over soon, the couple made their way back into where all their friends were so that they could share their happy news.

 

Both Liam and Ruby were surprised by their parents being supportive of their engagement and their desire to be wed before they left for college. And so it was with their parents blessings that only one short month after graduation that the couple married in a simple ceremony at the local church, surrounded by family and friends.

 

"Wow Mumma," Abby said, bringing her mother out her thoughts. "That was a cool way for Daddy to ask you to marry him. Do you think a boy will ask me to marry him when I go to my prom?"

 

Ruby turned her face away from her daughter to hide the few tears that had escaped. Once she was more composed she answered her child's question. "I think it will happen when you find the boy who you are meant to spend forever with," was Ruby's answer, although she really wanted to reply by telling her daughter that there was a snowball's chance in hell of her even being allowed to before she turned twenty one.

 

Abby ran off from her mother after that, continuing on her way to go meet up with her dad. Ruby continued at a leisurely pace, still wrapped up in the memories that her daughter's question had managed to dredge up...

 

It hadn't been long after their wedding that Liam revealed his plans to forgo college in order to enter the British Royal Marines. Ruby was hurt at first, wishing that her husband had discussed this with her before making the decision; but ultimately supported Liam's choice because it made him happy, knowing that he would have done the same for her had the situation been reversed.

 

Maybe if Ruby had known then what she knew now; she would have fought harder to get Liam to change his mind. Liam went into the Marines just as Ruby began her first year of college at the University of Birmingham. She had originally planned on attending Oxford with Liam, but since he had changed his plans, Ruby opted to attend school somewhere closer to where her family was.

 

At first, the separation the young couple had to deal with was manageable with Ruby being busywith school, she took comfort in the knowledge that his enlistment would be over near the same time she was graduating. Ruby had hopes that when Liam returned home that he would be ready to begin their family, since Ruby had always dreamed of being a mother.

 

Ruby however, was incorrect in her assumptions that Liam was coming home permanently after his first stint in the Marines. He wasn't home three weeks when he broke the news that he had reenlisted and was shipping out again in another two weeks. To say that Ruby was heartbroken was an understatement, but she accepted the fact that Liam's dream was to make a career out of the military, and because she loved him, she would support his decision.

 

Liam's second tour of duty was easier to endure since he remained state side and Ruby was able to move with him when he was transferred to a different military base. The two were finally able to experience the normalcies of married life, at least until September eleventh happened. Once that day hit, Ruby spent much of her time on pins and needles waiting to see if her husband would be among the men sent to the Middle East.

 

Ruby's fear came true a week after their eighth wedding anniversary. Liam was sent over to Iraq, but returned home two months later on emergency leave when his father was in a near fatal car crash. Once his father was in stable condition, he returned overseas and shortly after received word from his wife that she was pregnant and that he would be a father.

 

Ruby struggled with the pregnancy, knowing Liam wouldn't be there to experience it with her, and worrying that something would happen and that he would never get to know his child. Liam struggled too, knowing how far away he was from his wife, and it was even more difficult for him when he found out that he would indeed also miss the birth of his child as well.

 

Ruby finally felt like she could breathe again when Liam came home three months after Abigail was born. Liam agreed that it was time for him to take a break from being on the front line, and managed to be able to stay home for a while. Ruby enjoyed having the time with Liam, and getting to see him be a father to his daughter. It was as if he was born to be a dad the way he doted on his little girl.

 

Liam loved his time with his daughter, but felt as though he struggled to be the husband he thought that Ruby deserved, afraid he wasn't providing her with everything she deserved to have. From his time overseas, Liam was used to always being surrounded by action, and he began to feel antsy at home. So in the fall of 2007, he chose to sign up for another tour in Iraq.

 

Ruby didn't know how to deal with the news, fearing that her marriage was going to fall apart because of the distance, and unsure if she could handle all the worrying anymore, especially now that she and Liam had a child to think about.

 

Hearing the giggles of her little girl, Ruby shakes the thoughts of her past from her mind, and smiles as she sees Abby sitting with her father and telling him all the things that happened this week at school, karate class, and her upcoming piano recital. After a while, Abby finished talking and gave her father a hug and kiss before leaving her parents to talk to each other for a while.

 

Ruby watched as her daughter went to sit under a nearby tree, before turning and sitting down next to Liam, a small smile spreading across her face.

 

"Hi Liam, I hope you're doing ok. Abby asked about when you proposed today. It was the first time I was able to think about that without it hurting so much. I guess I'm finally starting to really heal. I'll never forget you Liam and I'll never hate you for the choices you made; it just gets so hard sometimes having to do this all without you. You were my soul mate, you gave me Abby, and for that I'll always love you and will be grateful to you. I miss you so much baby, every day, and I so badly wish you were still here with me and Abby, but I understand that you had to go. I'll never let Abby forget who her daddy was, that he was a hero. I tell her how much you loved her, how much you loved us both, every day. I know we'll be together again one day; but until then, I'll see you next Saturday. Happy Valentine’s day Baby."

 

Ruby wiped the tear away from her eye, and gave her husband a kiss as her hand ran across the cool stone marker which bore the engraving:

 

Maj-Gen Liam James Payne

B.R.M

Beloved

Husband and Father

1976 – 2008

 

After one last goodbye, Ruby called Abby over and took her daughter's hand as they made their way out of the park. Just as they walked out of the gates which bore the name of their location - Wolverhampton Memorial Park – Ruby felt a soft breeze blow by, and for that brief moment, she felt as though her Liam was there with her again, and she knew that everything would be ok.

 

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