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Six months later

Hannah pushed her toes into the sand and lay back, enjoying the warmth of the early morning sun on her skin. She exhaled deeply. For the first time in very long while she felt some sense of relaxation. As of nine o'clock that morning and with one quick scrawl of her pen, she was no-longer Leader, even if it had just been in name and birth right only. Now a new set of officials occupied the seats of governance in City Hall- each one voted for democratically by an enlarged and diverse electorate- the one and only thing she had insisted upon, before relinquishing control to the interim government.

"Argh," she squealed, trying to move out of the way from the droplets of cool seawater, showering over her as he rubbed his cropped hair with his hand. She grabbed a handful of sand and flung it at his wet torso.

"Oh! Now why did you go and do that? I'm going to have to go back in now and wash it off."

"Serves you right," she giggled.

Somewhat distracted, she watched as Scott ran back down to the surf, the sunlight kindly emphasising the contours on his muscular back. Sporting a healthy tan and back to full health, only the faint scars on his skin, revealed the trauma of the last year. But they too were fading. The scars Hannah bore though, would never fade.

"Don't do this today," she spoke out loud to herself. "Today is supposed to be a good day."

"You, hungry?" Scott asked, as he approached. He reached over to his gym bag and grabbed a towel.


They strolled back up the beach, in comfortable silence and went into a small café just off the promenade. Having ordered, they sat down at a small table in the corner. A small glass jug holding a spray of lilacs adorned the centre of the table, their sweet, heady scent complimenting the aroma of freshly baked bread.

The waitress brought over their coffee and tried hard not to gawp at Hannah. Most people weren't nearly so polite.

Scott poured some milk into both their cups.

"So, how does it feel to be free?" he asked.

Hannah looked out of the window and watched the waves gently fold onto the sand, the light glinting on the surface of the water. The day before, storms had wreaked havoc up and down the country with damaging, high winds and torrential downpours. Yet today, other than the occasional fallen tree spotted on their journey there, it was now hard to imagine the destructive force of that storm. The low pressure system had moved on. Now what remained was a still, warm, perfectly normal summer's day.

"It feels good. I guess."

Scott didn't press her any further to talk and they enjoyed the rest of their coffee.

"So what have you got planned for the rest of the day?" They were passing back along the highway, the outline of the town's tallest buildings just visible in the midday smoggy haze.

"Mum wants to visit the graves and take some fresh flowers."

After a period of silence, Hannah asked the same of Scott.

"I've no idea to be honest. We've been called to a general staff briefing at three. Hopefully going to finally find out what they have in store for us. Rumour has it, nothing much is going to change."

"So what time is he speaking to the country then?"

"At two."

Hannah checked the time. It was already just after one. "Really, before he's spoken to all of you."

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