No Matter What They Say

by Glenys Packer

Assumpta had worked out a routine for Saturdays. She would get up and have breakfast at the small cafe that was just down the street.  Her room mate and old college friend Alley worked late at the wine bar on Fridays, so she was usually still asleep when Assumpta would get up. Assumpta would sit in the cafe, doing any paper work left over from the week before, while eating her breakfast and sipping a cup of coffee.

* * * *

Peter stopped outside of the small cafe. He stared, recognizing the woman sitting just inside the window, yet hardly daring to believe it was her. He made up his mind and went inside.

"Didn't expect to see you here."

Assumpta looked up, eyes wide. "Peter?" she said, a grin spreading over her face. Peter nodded. To his surprise Assumpta leapt up and gave him a quick hug.

"Hiya," Peter said, taking a seat at the table. "So what brings you to Dublin?"

"I could ask the same of you," Assumpta said.

Peter shrugged. "I'm on my way back from visiting the family in Manchester," he said.

Assumpta nodded. "Yeah. I just needed to get away," she said. "I'm staying with a friend of mine. She's got a wine bar that I work at a couple of days a week."

"Sounds like fun," Peter said. He absentmindedly fidgeted with one of the napkins on the table.

"Yeah, it is," Assumpta agreed. "How long are you staying? We should do something together, like dinner."

"I'm here for a few more days," Peter replied. "You're right, we should do something. When are you free?"

"Saturdays and Sundays are my two really free days," Assumpta said. "Then I'm working at the wine bar Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Tuesday and Thursday I'm sort of free, but that's when I usually get my shopping and what not done."

"So you're not doing anything today?" Peter's eyes were hopeful.

Assumpta smiled. "Nope." She glanced across the street where there was a small park. "Let's go for a walk." Peter nodded and they both stood. Assumpta put her papers away in her bag, and they left the cafe, quickly crossing the street.

"So," Peter said as they meandered around the park's twisting trails. "When did you leave BallyKay?"

"Just after you did," Assumpta said. "Alley called and wanted me to come up here, so I did." She paused to stare at the fluffy white clouds that were scuttling across the sky. Then she turned and smiled at Peter. "What have you been up to?"

"Well, it's just been so long since I saw my family, I thought I should go out for a visit," Peter told her. "It was fun, I got to see how much my little nieces and nephews have grown. My little sister Claire just got married recently, so I got to  meet her husband. It also gave me time to think." This last sentence was said slightly quieter.

"What about?" Assumpta gave him a quizzical look.

Peter sighed and frowned. "About everything. My life, my" He shrugged and sat down on a dark green bench that was along side the trail.

Assumpta sat next to him. "The little things," she said quietly.

Peter nodded. "Yeah. The little things."

They planned to meet at the same place, the little bench in the park, at noon the following day.

Sunday at eleven, Alley found Assumpta sitting in her room brushing out her hair.

"You look dressed up," Alley said, eyeing Assumpta, who, besides spending a little more time then usual on her hair, had also put on make up.

"I'm just going to meet a friend later," Assumpta said.

Alley grinned. "Sure, a friend," she said sarcastically.

"He's a priest."

"Must be special then, if he can be friends with Assumpta Fitzgerald," Alley said with a laugh. Assumpta glared at her.

Peter was sitting exactly where he said he'd be, and stood up when Assumpta approached.

"Hiya," Peter said, grinning happily at her.

Assumpta laughed. "You look excited," she commented.

"I've been looking forward to this," Peter said happily. Assumpta sat next to him on the bench. "Anyway, there was something I wanted to talk about with you..."

"What's that?"

"Well, like I said,  I did a lot of thinking while I was gone," Peter said slowly. "When I was visiting my brothers and sisters I got to see all of their families, how happy they were together. I realized that I wanted that, and the priesthood just wasn't fulfilling my needs."

"So what do you plan on doing?" Assumpta asked. She knew that Peter had been questioning his vocation before he left, but she had no idea where it was going.

"I called Father Mac the night I arrived here," Peter said. "And requested to be released from my vows. It wasn't easy, this was a way of life I've been used to for many years. But I think it was the right thing. I couldn't continue to lead people when I myself felt so blind."

Assumpta stared at him. This had taken her by surprise. "So you're not a priest anymore?"

"No," Peter replied, staring at the ground. They sat in silence for a few minutes.

"So what are you going to do now?" Assumpta asked eventually.

"Well, I was thinking of may be a teaching position. But that could take a while," Peter said. "There wouldn't happen to be anything going at your place would there?"

Assumpta smiled. "We'll see." They smiled bemusedly at each other for a moment. Assumpta glanced at her watch. "Look, I've got to be getting back soon," she said. "I told Alley I'd make dinner tonight." She seemed to think a moment. "Hey if you don't have any plans, why don't you join us?"

Peter nodded. "I'd like that."

So Peter went with Assumpta when she returned home. Alley was quite intrigued to meet Peter, and the two got along well. When she learned Peter had left the priesthood, she shot Assumpta a grin, which was met with an icy glare. Other then that dinner went nicely, the three of them making pleasant conversation. Every once in a while Peter would glance across the table at Assumpta. A couple of times he caught her looking back, and they'd blush and quickly turn their concentration to their meal.

As Assumpta was letting him out the door, Peter turned around and gently took her hand.

"This was great," he said.

Assumpta nodded. "Yeah, it was," she agreed.

"You free Tuesday night?" Peter asked, leaning casually against the door frame.

Assumpta smiled and raised an eyebrow. "I might be," she said. "Why?"

"You wouldn't want to go see a movie with me would you?" Peter's voice was slightly nervous.

"You bet I would," Assumpta replied, smiling broadly.

* * * * *

"He seems nice," Alley said later. She and Assumpta were clearing away the dinner dishes.

"He is," Assumpta said. She turned around and saw Alley grinning at her. "What?"

"C'mon, girl," Alley said, sitting backwards on one of the kitchen chairs. "I saw the way you two were lookin' at each other. You've got something for him, don't you?"

Assumpta rolled her eyes, but blushed slightly. "May be."

"You do, admit it." Alley was persistent.

Assumpta sighed. "All right, I do like him a lot. He's a good man."

"And very cute."

"And very cute," Assumpta agreed. She suddenly seemed to realize what she'd just said and laughed, shaking her head.

* * * *

Monday seemed to crawl by for Assumpta. She went about her duties at the wine bar, but was preoccupied. Her thoughts kept returning to Peter. She remembered the first time they'd met, on the road to BallyKay, and how disappointed she'd been upon learning that Peter was a priest. She was sitting at home watching a movie with Alley when the phone rang.

"I'll get it," Assumpta said, getting up off the couch.

Alley reached for the remote. "You want me to pause it for ya?" she asked.

Assumpta nodded as she picked up the phone. "Hello?"

"'Sumpta? It's Peter."

Assumpta's heart leapt at the sound of his voice. "Hiya," she said, smiling. "What's up?"

"Just wanted to finalize our plans for tomorrow," Peter said.

"Sure." Assumpta sat down at the small table that the phone was on. "You wanted to see a movie, yeah?"

"Yup." Peter took a deep breath. "I was also wondering if you may be would want to go out for dinner as well."

Assumpta could feel herself blushing, and couldn't figure out why. "I'd love too," she breathed quietly.

"Great." Peter sounded relieved. "So I'll pick you up at seven, then we can have two hours to eat dinner and go see a nine o'clock showing of something. How's that sound?"


"I'll see you tomorrow then?" Peter asked.

"Yeah." Assumpta paused. "Peter..." She was about to say something, but decided against it.


"Nothing. I'll see you tomorrow."

* * * *

Peter arrived at a quarter to six. Alley answered the door, for Assumpta was still in her room getting dressed. Peter had been waiting for only a few minutes before Assumpta came out of the room. She was wearing a long flowered skirt, and her red blouse over a white t-shirt. She'd put a little bit of make up on, and her hair was curled slightly and hung elegantly about her face. Peter thought she looked positively gorgeous.

"Heya," he said.

Assumpta grinned nervously. "You ready to go then?" She grabbed her jacket from the coat rack and threw her keys in her pocket.

"Yup," Peter nodded, unable to take his eyes off Assumpta as they walked out the front door.

"You two have a good time now!" Alley called, closing the door behind them.

Peter gestured towards the car he'd rented for use while in Dublin. "Well...hop in," he said nervously. He prayed silently that everything was going to go as planned. The small box in his jacket pocket seemed to be weighing heavier and heavier every time he thought about it, and what he was planning to do...

They went to a semiformal Italian restaurant a block from the cinema. They were only one of many young couples there. The dim candle lighting and the intimacy of their little table provided for a romantic atmosphere. The food was good, and they talked while they ate, recalling fond times at home.

"Do you remember," Assumpta said, "when I taught you to drive?"

"How could I forget?" Peter laughed. "You got so mad when I ran it off the road into the mud."

"Why shouldn't I have been mad?" Assumpta cried. "You got it stuck."

"It was either that or get hit by that lorry," Peter pointed out. They grinned at the memory.

"We were bickering like an old married couple," Assumpta said, making a face. This suddenly reminded Peter of something, and he seemed to get nervous again. Assumpta frowned at him. "Is something wrong. Peter?"

"No, it's just..." Peter looked around him, at the happy couples at the other tables...

"Peter?" Assumpta leaned forward.

Peter took a deep breath. "I've only known you for a couple years, but it really seems like I've known you forever," he said, thoughtfully running his thumb over the velvet ring box in his pocket. "You're such an amazing person, 'Sumpta, I don't know how I ever survived without you. You don't just let me go on blindly, you make me look and  really think about life. I want this to go on forever. I love you, so much more then anything else."

"Oh, Peter..." Assumpta whispered quietly.

"Will you marry me?" Peter asked, pulling the ring box out of his pocket and opening it, so Assumpta could see the ring inside.

Assumpta seemed, for once, to be at a loss for words. "Peter, you know I will," she said finally, letting a smile creep across her face. Peter grinned, and slipped the ring on Assumpta's finger. They then leaned over the table and kissed gently.

The movie they went to see was a light hearted romantic comedy. During the show, Peter gently slid his arm around Assumpta's shoulders. She smiled to herself and leaned against him, for once feeling completely satisfied with how her life was going.

At her door Assumpta leaned against the frame and smiled at Peter.

"This has been the single best night of my life," she said happily.

Peter smiled back and kissed her softly. "I know, it has for me too," he said. "I never thought I could be this happy."

"Thought you were destined for a life of celibacy, eh?" Assumpta teased.

Peter rolled his eyes, but grinned. "Just about, yeah."

They kissed again, then Assumpta asked, "You coming in?"

Peter looked nervously past her. "What about...?"

"Don't worry about Alley," Assumpta reassured him. "She's a deep sleeper."

* * * *

When Peter awoke the next morning, he lay for a minute before rolling over to see if Assumpta was awake.

"Hey," he said, noticing Assumpta was indeed awake.

"I love you," she said, smiling dreamily at him.

Peter kissed her gently. "I love you too," he said.

Assumpta snuggled closer to him. "Was that seriously your first time?" she asked impishly.

"Yeah," Peter blushed.

"Not bad," Assumpta said, causing Peter to blush even deeper. "Oh god...People in BallyKay are really going to hate me..."

"Why do you say that?" Peter asked, frowning.

"Because," Assumpta said, giggling. "I've gone and tainted their golden boy."

Peter rolled his eyes and hugged her closer to him. "Frankly, dear, I don't give a damn."

"Gone with the wind, right?" Assumpta asked. Peter nodded and kissed the top of her head.

*  * * *

"Morning you two," Alley said as Peter and Assumpta appeared in the kitchen. Assumpta was still in her bathrobe and Peter was already dressed.

"Hi," Peter said awkwardly.

"Pancakes?" Alley asked nonchalantly.

Assumpta raised her eyebrows but shrugged. "Sounds good to me."

Peter had to go home and change, but he promised to come back later.

After he left Assumpta turned to Alley. "You didn't seem at all surprised to see Peter," she commented.

Alley grinned. "I'm not stupid," she said. "So, did he pop the big question last night?"

"He did propose, if that's what you mean," Assumpta pretended to be interested in clearing away the breakfast dishes.

"And?" Alley said interestedly.

Assumpta held up her left hand. "What do you think?" she said. Alley let out a delighted squeal and hugged Assumpta.

* * * *

"So did you take the day off, or what?" Peter asked. It was a few days later and  they had just pulled away in his car.

"Yeah," Assumpta said. "I'd say getting married would deserve a day off." She smiled at Peter.

"It's only a civil wedding," Peter reminded her.

Assumpta leaned her head against his shoulder. "I know," she said. "But it's still special," Assumpta knew that Peter would have preferred to get married in a church, but neither of them wanted to wait that long. Besides, Assumpta didn't really want to go through all the preparations for a church wedding; confessions and all that.

After the ceremony, they went to have lunch at a small side walk cafe.

"I feel...happy," Peter said. He reached under the table and took Assumpta's hand in his.

"Me too," Assumpta agreed, taking a sip of coffee. "So when do you want to head back on Saturday?  I should probably give Niamh a call and warn her that we're coming."

* * * *

"What  do you think people are going to say when we show up together?" Peter asked. He and Assumpta were driving back to BallyKay, about five days after they met in Dublin.

"I don't know," Assumpta replied, solemnly. "It'll depend on a lot of things, I guess." She reached out and took Peter's left hand in hers.  Peter looked down at their hands, staring at the matching gold bands on their third fingers.

Three hours later they pulled up in front of Fitzgerald's. Before getting out, Peter turned to Assumpta. "Does anyone know that I'm coming?" he asked.

"When I rang Niamh yesterday I only told her I was getting in," she replied, opening her door and stepping out. Peter followed her and they went into the pub.

Upon entering, they saw that the regulars were all sitting at the bar, which Niamh was tending.

"Hiya, Niamh," Assumpta said. "I see you've managed to round up the usual suspects."

Everyone looked up.

"Assumpta!" Siobhan said.  "Niamh didn't say you were coming back."

"Sure she only called me yesterday," Niamh smiled and walked out from behind the bar. Only then did she notice Peter. "Father Clifford?"

"Hi," Peter said. "Actually, it's not Father anymore, just Peter." he made a gesture with his hand, and the light glinted off of his ring.

"Not Father?" Brendan asked, walking over. "You don't mean...?"

"I've left the priesthood," Peter said nodding. "It was a tough decision, but..." he glanced at Assumpta, "I have my reasons." Niamh was still eyeing his ring.

"While we're still in shock, is there anything else you'd like to tell us?" Niamh asked.

"Actually..." Peter stepped a little closer to Assumpta and slipped an arm around her waist.

"We got married," Assumpta said. Silence.

Siobhan was the first to speak. "Well congratulations, the both of you!" she said. This seemed to break the tension.

"I don't believe it! Well done, girl," Niamh said, happily hugging Assumpta. She turned to Peter and grinned, saying, "You'd better be good to her!"

"I don't think I could be anything else," Peter replied, hugging Assumpta to him.

"Not with the likes of us looking after her, at any rate," Brendan said with a grin.

* * * *

Niamh looked a bit flustered as she and Ambrose got ready for bed that night.

"Are you all right, love?" Ambrose asked, peering  caringly at his wife.

"I just don't know what to make of Assumpta and Peter," Niamh said. She sat down on the edge of the bed and began to brush her hair out. "I mean, I feel happy for Assumpta. Peter's a good man, and she deserves someone who's really going to take care of her. But on the other hand...."

"You still think of Peter as Fr. Clifford, right?" Ambrose said.

Niamh nodded. "It was only a month or so ago that he left," Niamh said. "And he comes back and I found out he just married my best's a bit shocking."

"I'm happy for them both, personally," Ambrose said, climbing into bed.

"Yeah," Niamh agreed. She clicked off the light and slipped into bed herself.

* * * *

"I think it's great that they got married," Brendan said. He was sitting in Padraig's kitchen, the two having one last cup of coffee before Brendan went home.

"Yeah,  I guess I do too," Padraig said. He was actually quite confused about how he felt about the whole thing.

"I mean, Assumpta needs someone to love," Brendan continued. "And someone to love her. She's so  independent, she never realized that it's part of human nature to need to be loved."

"Right," Padraig said, frowning at his mug.

"You don't agree?" Brendan asked.

"I don't know," Padraig said. "I certainly am happy that they're both happy. It's just...odd. I mean, clergy-hating Assumpta? It's like she's changed completely."

"I think it's more like she just met a different type of clergy," Brendan said. "I think they balance each other perfectly."

Padraig nodded. "I guess you're right," he said. "And you're right, it certainly is good for her to finally have someone to really love."

"Who knows, "Brendan mused "Might improve her temperment."

Padraig snorted. "Doubt it."

* * * *

The next morning Niamh was dropping Kieran off at Brian's.

"Ah, good morning Niamh," Brian said as Niamh entered carrying the baby.

"Hello Dad," Niamh said. "Did you hear Assumpta's back?"

"Ah yes, I did." Brian nodded. "Fr. Clifford's back too as well, isn't he?"

"You mean you haven't heard?"


"He and Assumpta got married," Niamh said. Brian raised an eyebrow and seemed at a loss for words. "Well?" Niamh looked expectantly at her father.



"Assumpta and Fr. Clifford?"

"Dad..." Niamh rolled her eyes.

"What?" Brian seemed genuinely confused.

"Have you not been listening to what I said?" Niamh said.

Brian nodded, but stared thoughtfully down at his grandson."People aren't going to like this," he said.

Niamh sighed, but nodded.

* * * *

"Assumpta, are you all right?" Peter asked. It was a few weeks after he and Assumpta returned to BallyKay. "You're looking a bit peaky."

"I'm fine. It's probably nothing, just a cold," Assumpta replied. She frowned and put a hand to her mouth. "I...I'll be right back..." she  hurried off to the bathroom.

Peter rushed after her, to find her doubled over the toiled vomiting. "Assumpta!" Peter said worriedly. Assumpta straightened up and held a cold washcloth to her face. Peter went over and put his arms around her. "Are you sure you're all right?" he asked.

"I'm going to see Dr. Ryan," Assumpta said. "I'll be back in  a bit." Peter followed her back into the pub and watched as she pulled on her jacket and went outside.

 * * * *

"Where's Assumpta?" Niamh asked, entering the pub a few minutes later, carrying Kieran.

"She's at Doc Ryan's," Peter replied . "She wasn't feeling very good."

"I hope she's not coming down with something," Niamh said caringly.

"I dunno..." Peter said. "She threw up, and has been looking a little off the past few mornings."

Niamh stared at Peter, and was about to say something, but the door opened and Assumpta walked in.

"Hiya," Assumpta said, smiling broadly. She walked over to Peter and whispered something in his ear.

Peter frowned. "What?" he asked disbelievingly. Assumpta whispered in his ear again. Peter let out a delighted whoop and grabbed Assumpta, swinging her around before hugging her tight.

Niamh eyed them amusedly. "All right, what's the happy news, you two?" she asked.

"I'm going to be a dad!" Peter cried happily, still hugging Assumpta to him.

"You're pregnant?" Niamh exclaimed, turning to Assumpta. Assumpta beamed. "That's wonderful!" Niamh rushed around the bar and gave both Assumpta and Peter a hug.

"Thanks Niamh," Assumpta said.

Kieran let out a loud protest to being rushed around.

"Whoops, sorry little man," Niamh said, comforting her son. She then looked at Assumpta. "Would you mind watching him while Ambrose and I go out for dinner? Give you a bit of practice." Assumpta grinned.

"Sure, why not?" she said, taking Kieran.

"All right, we'll be by later to pick him up," Niamh said, heading for the door. "Bye!"

Peter watched Assumpta holding Kieran, and he smiled to himself. It was obvious that for all her stubborn independence, Assumpta would make a wonderful mother. Assumpta seemed totally at ease with holding the little one. Peter found himself musing about how some day soon that would be their child she was holding.

 * * Two days later * *

Fr. Macanally stepped into Hendly's to pick up his morning paper. The new priest was on retreat, so Fr. Mac had to come down to Ballykissangel to do Mass.

"Good morning, Kathleen," he said, putting the news paper on the counter.

"Hello, Father," Kathleen said in her usual prim way. "Have you heard the news?"

"No. What's going on?"

"Apparently, Miss Fitzgerald - " Kathleen paused, then said disdainfully "Mrs. Clifford, is going to have a baby. I heard it from Niamh just last night," she rang up the newspaper.

Fr. Mac eyed her. "You shouldn't seem so upset, Kathleen," he admonished. "There's nothing saying a man and his wife can't have a child."

"As you know, I don't approve of Fr. Clifford's decision," Kathleen said curtly.

Fr. Mac sighed. "Neither do I," he agreed. "He was a good priest. But he chose to leave. Personally I'd rather have him leave, marry Assumpta, then have her get pregnant, then have him be forced into remaining a priest, and still have Assumpta - "

"Father, please!" Kathleen cried indignantly. "We all know what could have happened if Fr. Clifford remained a priest." A dark expression crossed her face.

"Anyway," Fr. Mac continued, picking up his newspaper. "Let's try and be good christians about this, even if we don't agree with it. Good bye, Kathleen. "

"Have a good day, Father."

* * * *

"Oh, god, look!" Assumpta said a few weeks later. She was standing in front of the mirror in her and Peter's room.

"What?" Peter asked, walking over.

"I'm starting to show." Assumpta put a hand to her stomach, which was beginning to bulge slightly under her red sweater.

"I think you look beautiful, as always," Peter said, kissing Assumpta on the cheek.

 * *(a couple months later) * *

"Peter!" Assumpta called into the kitchen. "Do you have a minute?"

Peter stuck his head out. "Yeah? What do you need?" he asked.

"Would you mind popping down into the basement and bringing up another barrel of stout?" Assumpta asked "I would but..." she looked pointedly at her stomach, which now made a sizable bulge.

"Right," Peter said, slipping past Assumpta and opening the trapdoor to the basement.

"I see you're making sure Peter's getting his hard work and pain out of this," Brendan said after Peter had disappeared into the basement.

"Oh, Peter could bring up a hundred barrels of stout and it still wouldn't compare with what I have to go through," Assumpta said.

"What's this I hear about a hundred barrels of stout?" Peter asked, coming up and hooking the new barrel to the tap.

"Nothing," Assumpta said. "Brendan and I were just talking."

Peter stood up and put his arms around Assumpta. "You're so wonderful," he told her.

"Argh, the utter soppyness of this situation is killing me," Brendan proclaimed. Assumpta stuck her tongue out at him.

* * * *

"So when is it you're due?" Siobhan asked one evening.

"Oh any day now," Assumpta replied. "That's why Peter's got me confined to sitting here and making polite conversation while he does all the work."

"Yeah, notice the word 'polite'," Peter said,walking over with Siobhan's drink. "You've got your blood pressure to  worry about."

"Peter..." Assumpta sighed. "I don't have anything to worry about." She took Peter's hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.  Peter opened his mouth to reply, but the door opened and Brendan and Padraig entered, shortly followed by Niamh and Ambrose.

"How're ya doing?" Niamh asked Assumpta, taking a seat next to Siobhan.

"I'm doing fine," Assumpta said. "But someone needs to tell that to Peter, he won't stop fussing over me." Niamh laughed and Peter made a face and stood behind Assumpta.

They were all happily talking for about half an hour, when suddenly Assumpta grabbed Peter's arm, inhaling sharply.

"'Sumpta?" Peter said quietly.

"Get. Doctor. Ryan," Assumpta growled through gritted teeth. Peter half started towards the phone.

"All ready on it, Peter," Ambrose said, dialing Dr. Ryan's number.

"C'mon," Niamh said to Peter. "Brendan and I'll help you get Assumpta upstairs."

"I can walk up the stairs on my own!" Assumpta said defiantly, getting slowly to her feet. Suddenly another contraction hit and she doubled over.

Peter got on one side of her and Brendan on the other. Together they managed to get Assumpta up to her room.

"Right," Niamh said, remaining calm and in control. "Peter, sit behind her the way you did in the classes. Brendan, go downstairs and wait for Dr. Ryan."

"Right," Brendan said, leaving the room.

Assumpta held out her hand to Niamh, who took it and crouched next to the bed.

"Stay?" Assumpta asked, quietly. Niamh nodded. Just then the door opened and Dr. Ryan entered.

"I got here as fast as I could," he said, looking around. "Everyone's in position, excellent job Niamh. Now, I want you two to keep Assumpta as relaxed as possible. And don't look so worried Peter, everything's going to be fine!"

"I know, I know," Peter said. Dr. Ryan took up his position at the end of the bed.

"Ok, Assumpta, when the next contraction hits, I want you to push."

* * * *

Downstairs it was silent. Brendan, Siobhan, Padraig, and Ambrose all sat staring moodily at their drinks, each lost in their own thoughts.

"Not a peep out of Assumpta," Ambrose commented.

Siobhan shrugged. "Sure, we might not be able to hear," she said.

"Trust me," Brendan said with a laugh. "If Assumpta Fitzgerald was screaming, we'd know."

"You know by experience, then?" Padraig asked. Brendan nodded grimly.

"Even when she was a baby, she had the strongest pair of lungs in - " He was interrupted by the sound of a baby crying upstairs.

Siobhan grinned. "Sounds like her kid's inherited it," she said.

A minute later Niamh came bounding down the stairs. "It's a boy!" she cried happily. "Assumpta says you can all come up now," she beamed and everyone followed her upstairs.

Assumpta was sitting propped up in bed, Peter sitting next to her. Assumpta held their child in her arms, while Peter gazed down at his first born with a look of utter bliss on his face.

"Will ya look at that?" Brendan said quietly, unable to do anything but smile. "The perfect family."

Assumpta beamed. "Niamh, see that camera on the dresser? Get a picture will ya?" she asked. Niamh nodded and took a couple pictures of Peter, Assumpta and the baby.

"So what are you going to call him?" Brendan asked. He was sitting in the chair next to the bed, taking his turn at holding the baby.

"Well, unless you or Dr. Ryan have any objections, we were thinking of Brendan Michael Clifford," Assumpta said. Brendan looked at her, eyes alight.

"Assumpta, I would be honored," he said.

"Same here," Dr. Ryan agreed.

"Well, it's settled then," Assumpta said, smiling at Peter, who hadn't left his spot on the edge of the bed.

"Just promise you won't give me as much trouble as your mum, ok?" Brendan told his namesake, who grasped Brendan's finger in one tiny fist.

* * * *

The next day Peter tended the bar with help from Niamh. They planned to give Assumpta a few days of well earned rest to look after the baby.

"Not that we can keep her confined to her room for very long, mind you," Niamh said.

Throughout the day people stopped by to congratulate Peter, for he and Assumpta were still very well liked in the community. Around mid-afternoon, Fr. Macanally stopped by.

"I wanted to congratulate you and Assumpta on the birth of your son," he said, shaking Peter's hand. Peter smiled.

"Thank you, Father," he said.

Fr. Mac smiled. "So what have you decided to name him?"

"Brendan Michael Clifford," Peter replied proudly.

"Excellent choice," Fr. Mac said, nodding. "So, what's it like being a father, again?"

"It's the most wonderful thing in the world," Peter said.

"What is?" Peter and Fr. Mac turned to see Assumpta walking over, little Brendan cradled in her arms.

"Assumpta! You should be in bed!" Peter admonished.

Assumpta scowled. "We were getting restless, weren't we love?" she said, making a face at the baby, who giggled. "Besides, this little man wants to see his daddy." She handed Brendan over to Peter.

"Hey there!" Peter said to his son.

"I think he's got your eyes," Assumpta commented. She turned and smiled at Fr. Mac. "Hello, Father."

"Hello, Assumpta," Fr. Mac said. "And how are you feeling?"

"Oh I'm doing fine," Assumpta said. "Quite tired but..." she shrugged.

"That's  understandable," Fr. Mac said. "Let me offer my congratulations to you as well. And then, I'm afraid I must be off."

"Thanks," Assumpta said. "We'll see you later, then."

"Good bye!" Fr. Mac said, turning to leave.

Assumpta looked over at Peter, happily singing silly songs to their son. She couldn't help but smile at the sight of her family.