"It's been a wonderful evening." Hawkeye commented as he leaned back in the chair he was sitting in. He and Margaret were sitting together on the front porch of Carrie's house taking in the peacefulness of the darkness and the joy of being together. Inside Brad and Carrie were making some coffee, finally content to let the new lovers be alone together. Hawkeye started chuckling slightly as memories of the evening came back to him.

"What's so funny?" Margaret asked as she turned and looked at him expectantly.

"I was just remembering the look on Brad and Carrie's faces when we kissed each other the first time." He replied a broad smile on his handsome face. "I don't think I've ever seen two jaws plummet to the ground as fast."

"Oh, I don't know." Margaret mused, her tone also one of amusement. "I think they plummeted pretty fast with that off-the-cuff proposal of yours."

"Actually, I don't think it was my proposal as much as your acceptance that caused their chins to start scraping the ground." Hawkeye pointed out, reaching over and touching her face gently with his hand. "They couldn't believe that you would actually agree to marry a man you had only just met."

Margaret chuckled slightly as she said. "Carrie was very adamant that I was out of my mind to think that you and I could be happy together. She kept trying to get me to change my mind."

"I'm glad she didn't succeed." Hawkeye commented as he looked at her lovingly. "I would have been heartbroken to loose you."

"You're not going to loose me, Hawkeye." Margaret promised. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm yours forever."

"And I'm yours." He assured her tenderly adding very softly. "My darling."

Margaret felt a chill of delight pass over her as she looking into his smiling face. Oh, how she loved this man. "So, tell me about Crabapple Cove. What's it like?"

"It's a very small town, just a few thousand inhabitants. It's a fishing area - there are quite a few harbors around. Maybe someday I'll take you out in a boat. A buddy of mine is a fisherman and once in a while I'll go out with him."

"What's your favorite type of fish?" Margaret asked curiously, snuggling a little closer to him for both warmth and the feeling of being close to him.

"I don't know, I like cod, salmon, trout. But the best is the seafood. Lobster, scallops, mussels, shrimp. My Dad and I are avid seafood connoisseurs. I remember when I was younger, about nine or ten, a fisherman had given my Dad a bag of mussels as a thank you for some service Dad had rendered for him. That night Mom cooked the mussels up as a snack and the three of us stood around the stove eating the mussels right out of the pot. When it got down to the last few shells Dad and I were fighting each other for them. I'd spear a couple and he'd steal one right off my fork with his, then he'd spear a couple and I'd steal one or two off his fork. My Mom just stood back and watched us, laughing and calling us both spoiled children. It's one of my fonder memories. It wasn't too long after that that Mom died."

"How old were you when your mother died?" Margaret asked softly. She'd never heard the story of his mother's early death.

"I was ten." Hawkeye replied, his tone becoming more serious.

"What happened?" His fiancee pressed gently.

"Tuberculosis." The motherless man replied, clearing his throat slightly. "It took her very quickly."

"I'm so sorry, Hawk." Margaret wrapped her arms around him and pulled him to her. She could tell from his tone and his expression that even though it had happened a long time ago he still felt the loss very keenly.

"I didn't even get a chance to say 'goodbye'." He whispered barely loud enough for Margaret to hear. "Dad kept assuring me that everything was going to be alright, that she was going to be just fine." He suddenly hugged Margaret tightly to him and dropped his face in her hair. "Please don't leave me like that Margaret, promise you'll never leave me like that."

"I can't promise Hawkeye." Margaret told him honestly. "I can't tell what the next day is going to bring." She pulled back and looked him in the face. "But I can promise that I will never willing leave you like that. I promise that I will be with you for as long as it is within my power. And remember this, I will always love you. Now and forever."

Hawkeye smiled at her and then leaned forward to plant a long kiss on her rosy lips.

"I don't know, Hawkeye." Margaret exclaimed as she examined the ring that he held out to her. "That looks awfully expensive."

"Come on, Margaret." He encouraged eagerly. "Try it on. I want to see how it looks on your hand." Margaret hesitated for a moment but then held out her hand so that he could push the ring on her finger. "What do you think?" He asked, his eyes searching her face.

Margaret starred at the beautiful ring on her finger. She couldn't believe that he was actually suggesting buying her such a gorgeous piece of jewelry. "It-It's wonderful." She finally managed to stammer. "It's the most wonderful ring I've ever seen." Then she tried to pull it off her finger protesting. "But it's too much. You can't possibly afford it, Hawkeye. I can't let you buy it for me."

"Nonsense, Margaret." He quickly dismissed. "If you like that ring then it's yours."

Margaret pushed the ring back on and looked at it again. "It is beautiful." She admitted slowly.

"Then it's yours." Hawkeye assured her as he nodded to the salesman across the counter.

"Excellent choice." The salesman pronounced as he smiled at Margaret as she inspected her new ring. "If the gentleman would step over here we'll discuss payment of the ring."

Hawkeye followed the salesman over to the register as Margaret continued to gaze admiringly at the new piece of jewelry on her left hand. She hadn't expected Hawkeye to buy her such a beautiful ring, it must have cost him a small fortune. But he hadn't seemed the least bit hesitant at buying her such a costly item. In fact he seemed happy to get it for her. She glanced over to where he was standing talking to the salesman and smiled. He really was a wonderful man - kind, thoughtful, generous. How could she ever have thought him a disgraceful pig - even though she knew there were many times that he was.

"Are we ready to go?" Hawkeye asked after he had settled the bill with the merchant. "It's getting close to lunch time."

"That's right, we have to meet Charles." Margaret recalled as she picked up her purse from the display case before her and followed Hawkeye again.

"Oh, darling look." Margaret exclaimed eagerly as they passed a Bridal Shop. In the window stood a mannequin elegantly dressed in a beautiful white wedding gown. "Let's go inside, shall we?" Hawkeye hesitated for a moment, not being a fan of dress shopping, but after noting the eagerness in his fiancee's eyes he quickly complied.

They entered the store and Margaret's eyes immediately caught sight of another gown-clad mannequin. The dress this model was wearing was slightly more conservative then the one she'd seen in the window.

"Oh, Hawk, it's beautiful!" She exclaimed in great delight.

"Would you like to try it on?" The sales clerk asked, giving Margaret a friendly smile.

Margaret hesitated for a moment then gave the clerk an eager nod. "Follow me." The clerk encouraged as she led her to the rack where the dress was hanging. After selecting the appropriate size she showed the eager bride-to-be to the change rooms. "If you need any help, just let me know."

"Thank you." Margaret acknowledged as she closed the change room door.

The sales clerk then addressed Hawkeye who was looking around the room, obviously very uncomfortable. "If you'd like, there's some chairs and magazines just outside the change rooms."

Hawkeye gave her a grateful smile and headed in the direction she indicated. After settling in a surprisingly comfortable armchair he noted with pleasure that most of the magazines on the table were geared towards male readership. He selected a magazine on fishing and then settled back to wait for Margaret. He had just started an article on fly fishing when he heard the store door open and a voice call out excitedly:

"Lilith, I'm here! Is my dress ready?"

There was something about the voice that made Hawkeye's head snap up and his eyes to widen with disbelief.

"I just finished it this morning." The sales clerk replied before disappearing into the back room. A moment later she returned holding a long dress across her arms.

"Thank heavens." The customer sighed with relief. "I was afraid that I was going to have to go in my bathrobe."

"Oh, we wouldn't have made you do that." Lilith laughed with amusement. "Come on, let's get you ready. The wedding is at 2:00, isn't it?"

"That's right and I'm so far behind!" The other woman commented frantically. "I can't believe my baby sister is getting married. I'm so nervous you'd swear that it was me!"

"Well, come on, let's try on this dress." The clerk urged. "Hopefully it won't need anymore last minute alterations."

"It better not." The woman exclaimed almost indignantly. "I better not have expanded that much in three days."

As the women came into view Hawkeye's eyes fell to the customer's expanding waist and stomach. The woman was obviously about six months pregnant. His eyes traveled to her face and froze there when he realized who she was. About a moment later she spotted him and nearly froze in her tracks. Neither spoke, their minds still in shock from the others unexpected appearance.

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