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Title: Broadchurch: Sins Of The Father

Date of commencement: September 22 2013

Date of completion: December 24 2014

Series: Broadchurch, a sequel to the original, and following on from Life Without Joe

Rating: M

Authors: tkel_paris and tardis_mole

Summary: Two years after Danny's death, life is slowly getting back to normal in Broadchurch. But Hardy's happy life is about to be turned upside down by a spectre from the past he had hoped had been laid to rest. Someone from his past wants to talk to him, someone wants revenge, someone wants to see him ruined. But it's not one 'someone'. But first, he must face the girl in his garden.

Disclaimer: We own nothing, but this is based on Broadchurch by Chris Chibnal, with added clues from the novel by Erin Kelly. We gain nor financial benefit nor gratuities, only the enjoyment from writing and working together on this epic journey, shared for the enjoyment of others.

Dedication: Chris Chibnal, long time friend. bas_math_girl, for her beta. And each other for hopefully not ruining each other's lives for too long during the writing part.

Warning: If you have not watched Broadchurch in its entirety, do not read this. We mean it. You will be spoiled. Stop and go back. Now. Ideally you have seen the entire show, not just what was aired on BBC America if you live on that side of the pond, but this is understandable in either case. Also, if you have not read tardis_mole's Life Without Joe, that's okay. It's possible to read this without reading that, if you're not on Moley's approved list. You'll probably find this makes a little more sense if you have read it, but you should be fine without it. Take the time to read Erin Kelly’s novelization, if you can, as it provided certain details that helped with writing this. Though you won’t need to rely on it.

Authors' Notes: See Episode One, Part One. They're a bit long to include in each post.

/=/=/=/=/=/

Previously...

Episode Eight, Part Two: Moving Forward

It was a sombre morning at the Hardy-Miller home. There was little sign that it was the twins’ first birthday, little sign if Tom going back to school and little sign of anything else joyful, but Ellie was determined to make this as normal as possible.

Ellie monitored as Tom cooked cheese on toast for his siblings, but her mind was on other things. Her cases had been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service and she was left with the wait for court appearances. Though they would be long after she was told about the dates for said appearances. Court was a long process. Even as a police officer, the time taken to do anything seemed as confusing as unbearably long. Family Court was much less formal and much less time consuming. Despite that, it was still nerve-wracking. It had already been postponed twice, both times without explanation.

She did not dare look at her husband, who had been trying to force coffee down his constricted throat just half an hour before and had retreated back upstairs to get dressed. She knew he was feeling twice as bad as she was. Today was the first of their court battles. The way their Children’s Services case worker explained it, it looked like they could be facing several, in at least two courts, and the lawyer for the legal side was not looking hopeful either.

Fred was watching over Harry and Catherine, as he liked to do. He liked to sing them songs and read to them from his books. This morning it was Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, an old favourite. It had once been Tom's book. Tom’s name had been crossed off and Fred’s written underneath. Fred felt very proud of his hand-me-downs.

“It's ready,” Tom said, plating some food. “Where is he?”

“Right here.”

Hardy's voice went ahead of him as he stepped downstairs. He had put on his best suit and tie, got his hair and beard trimmed, and was plainly gearing himself up mentally for the day ahead. He looked a lot better now than his first attempt - dressing gown, odd slippers and a glum exterior.

Ellie found a tiny smile at the sight. With his nerves he had managed to button everything up in the right order. That had to be a first. She had been keeping an ear out for his yelling that his caught something in his flies, he was shaking that much. “Look at you, all groomed up. Why do you only bring out this suit for court appearances?”

“Because then my appearance might actually make an impression for good or bad where it matters. Got a good grilling about it early in my career. And today is a day to not look anything but presentable.”

He was painfully right about that, she knew. She also knew he had already eaten. She had seen the bowl and spoon already dirty when she and Tom began preparing breakfast. “Had to start early?”

“Couldn't sleep. Been down four times,” he finally admitted.

She nodded and helped him make sure he had everything exactly where it should be. “I should be offended. You never made this much of an effort, except for our wedding.”

“You never said.”

“Why should I? Men are supposed to know everything,” she said in teasing banter.

“See, that’s just an illusion. It’s women who know everything and men simply know the rest.”

“Aw, you’re still trying to keep up?”

Hardy’s gaze darkened. “Yeah.”

Ellie snaked her arms around his middle and he did the same for her. “You know what your problem is?”

“What?”

“You need to lead instead of follow. You’re not a follower. Tess broke you. Now you need to mend and be the man you used to be. The man with a bit of authority.”

“Oh? So you want me to wield my sword a bit more?”

Ellie froze. “There are two answers for that. And one of them is too dirty for the kids to hear.”

Even with their grim faces, Tom could sense the attempt at fun his parents were having. Even though it wasn’t quiet like the old days, he could still feel the huge relief. This was the first day of getting their lives back together and getting Ben and Daisy home. This was a sign that things were getting back to normal. But would they stay that way? What if it went wrong?

It was out of their hands. Only his dad had any chance of influencing the courts, and if how far he went to look professional was any indication he was not certain of his chances. On the other hand, if he went in as a dad, and a very good one, too, then he had every chance of winning.

But given what he knew Hardy had done in leaving Ben and Daisy behind, Tom wondered if these people would listen to his dad at all. He didn’t know how these things worked. He was thirteen. All this court stuff was for the grownups to deal with.

/=/=/=/=/

Hardy was disconcerted that he had to explain himself and his actions right back to the day of Daisy’s birth. He had no idea how or why any of that was relevant. But he allowed his doctor to access her records and help prove his case.

“Here you can see that Mr. Hardy spent a great deal of time encouraging Daisy's doctors to check her diagnosis, taking her to regular check-ups, all vaccinations up to 2009 are up to date. Her heart was checked regularly and her Crohn’s Disease was controlled. After that point, all medical contact with the child ceased. I checked her myself at the hospital when she was admitted and her symptoms have been unchecked and unmanaged. Her arthritis has worsened to the point that there are indications that there could be permanent damage to the kidneys and joints. Daisy has told me that she had basically been left to self-medicate, using Paracetamol in place of the correct anti-inflammatory medication. Her diet has been less than adequate for a child her age and is contributing to her poor health. Test are ongoing to re-examine the diagnosis of Crohn’s. All the signs show me that there is systemic neglect on the part of her mother, and no input at all from the man who acted as her step-father.”

Hardy tried not to flinch at the use of the term. Had Stratton been a solid upstanding citizen willing and able to take on two children, then he would have had no problem with him raising his kids. The problem was, Stratton was nothing of the sort.

“In the notes from previous doctors, Mrs. Hardy was noted to be adversarial and obstructive. She failed to turn up for appointments, failed to continue her daughter’s vaccination program and failed to report any worsening symptoms. Until Daisy turned up in A&E on August 7th, this year, no one even knew she was pregnant. Daisy is mentioned as having made appointments, but was turned away by either a receptionist - one occasion - and denied access or cancelled by her mother - seven occasions.”

Mrs. Troup, a long-time social worker from before the Social Services had been split into Adult and Children’s services, sat across from him, the circular table almost as large as the room it sat in. She had sat, pinched-faced and stern, sitting next to the Adjudicator as if in teacher’s pet mode, though there seemed more the Siamese Cats in Lady And The Tramp, feel about her. She had tried staring people down from her prized position, but her narrowed eyes gave away her annoyance that it had failed thus far. In the old days, none of these namby-pamby meetings would have taken place. She would go in, grab the kids, and leave. That was it. Parents did not get to ask why or improve on what had ‘gone wrong’ or fight for their return. They were abusers and that was it.

Beside her, the Adjudicator was the essence of calm. He had his arms folded on the table, taking it all in, making notes here and there. He had spoken to all the children involved before the meeting, and to the current wife of the man sitting to his right. He had spoken to him as well. The medical teams involved in Daisy’s and Ben’s care were all on Hardy’s page, rooting for him, but he had a distinct impression that the woman on his left, almost in his pocket, was going to make things as difficult as possible. He had already told her to stop interrupting the doctor.

They had already heard from the police; nothing to report there. Hardy’s record was exemplary. They had heard from the school where the children attended, the respective head-teachers having made the journey from Sandbrook to be here. The children were doing well, but it was hardly relevant to Hardy getting the children off Child Protection and onto a Child In Need footing, if that was even needed or appropriate. With everything he had heard so far, he couldn’t understand why Hardy was here at all. He wasn’t the parent involved in the abuse.

The Adjudicator’s position was objective and neutral. He and his colleagues did not work for the Social Services, but for the government justice office in White Hall. They were the mediators, the deciders, the judge on what was acceptable and crucial information, and what was point scoring. Usually it was the Social Services against a parent. Mostly for the lesser range of Child in Need, thankfully. But this case was so obviously blown out of proportion that he was as mystified as the parent was defensive.

“What of Ben Hardy?” he asked.

“Ben’s condition is critical but stable,” Dr. Forster replied. He was the consultant manager at Broadchurch Hospital. All the medical staff worked under him, so it was his purview to cover all departments, and that covered any legal difficulties. He was a little annoyed that the poor gentleman sitting to his left had been dragged into this, since it was obvious from the statements made by the doctors and nurses at the hospital that DI Hardy had had little interaction with the children while under their care, and he knew he had had even less in the five years previous. “He needs a pace-maker to survive. His heart condition is non-treatable and terminal without it. He was born with the condition, inherited from his father, whom we suspected was not Bruce Stratton, but which was not confirmed until much later. As a result my staff had to work blind and treated Ben for a similar condition, which had no effect except to make him sicker. In the interim we were told that the boy had Juvenile MS. Our tests have concluded that he does not have MS or any similar condition. He is a normal child, well within all the developmental percentiles for his age with some major differences, which I will come to in a moment.

“Ben is, like his sister, undernourished and underweight and has shown some acquired ideas on who and what he is. He has been observed calling himself stupid and clumsy, things that are not normal for a child of his age. He was x-rayed and found to have a catalogue of injuries.” He lifted a piece of paper and adjusted his reading glasses. “When the boy first came into the hospital we found no less than twenty-three bruises and soft-tissue injuries, some showed distinctive treat marks from a boot or shoe. He has seventeen rib fractures, some of which have healed in unnatural positions indicative of lack of medical treatment; broken and dislocation collar bone; a spiral fracture of the upper left arm, a break that is caused by twisting the arm in opposite directions; broken stirrup bone of the inner ear, an injury that is common in people who have been slapped across the side of the head; a green-stick fracture of the right arm that should have been pinned but wasn’t and will need to be re-broken to set it correctly; four separate breaks to the fingers of both hands; two broken long bones of the right foot and at least two skull fractures, one of which is three years old and would have caused a severe concussion and could have killed him. None of these injuries were reported or treated at any hospital. A CT-scan of the brain revealed that there is old bruising to the left frontal lobe, which does not seem to have affected the boy in anyway, but also to the Supplementary Motor Area of the Motor Cortex. This area of the brain co-ordinates movement planning between both sides of the body, meaning Ben moves a lot slower than a child of his age and is liable to fall. He shakes if standing for too long and his hands and fingers already exhibit involuntary tremors, in what to the untrained eye appears to be Early-onset Parkinson’s Disease. It is, in fact, Parkinson’s Syndrome, often termed as post-traumatic encephalopathy, or punch drunkenness as the injury is predominant in the sport of Boxing. It’s progressive and untreatable, and I apologise for being blunt, Mr. Hardy, but by the time Ben reaches adulthood, he will be unable to write, dress or feed himself. Most of these injuries, taken individually, could be caused by accidents. However, and I cannot stress this point enough. Ben’s injuries were not and could not have been accidental.”

The Adjudicator thanked the doctor, though only his professional training had forced his voice to work. And he noticed the pained reaction of Hardy at hearing all the details in such stark terms. The rest of the room was in stunned silence. “Is there anything else you wish to add?”

“I’ve given you all the information and read all the statements I have,” the Doctor replied. “But I will make my position clear for the record. If Ben Hardy is placed in foster care, he will not live to see the end of the year. I’d stick my neck out and say he won’t reach his fifth birthday, either.”

“If I may be so bold,” Mrs Troup put in. “It seems clear that Mr Hardy made no attempt at all to bring these injuries to the notice of a doctor and spent even less time trying to stop the abuse from happening.”

“I had no access,” Hardy put in. “And add to that I had no reason to believe Ben was my son-”

“The fact is you didn’t care!” she snapped. “And your children that you presently have custody of? I’d like to see them submitted to medical checks.”

Hardy did not like the sound of that phrasing, but he refused to react. A wrong reaction could kill his chances and even bring worse things upon his already emotionally and physically battered family. “Tom and Fred were already getting good medical checks when I and their mother got together, and we continued them at the same rate as before. My doctor has already proved that,” he pointed out. “When Harry and Catherine were born, we had my doctor monitor them because of my medical history. My doctor confirmed that what I have is a genetic condition, and that the twins were at risk. So far neither of them has shown any signs. On saying that, we have aimed to avoid excessive stress in their lives, as that appeared to be what made my own condition so much worse. Our childminders, family and friends are all aware of the situation and are keen to make sure that they don’t become overly stressed. We hope to avoid them needing any medication or surgery for as long as possible, but my wife and I both know that the reality is they may both need pace-makers at some point.”

“Our team has been checking both children regularly,” the doctor reminded those present. “I have never seen a more proactive parent than this man here.”

“And yet he was careless with his own health during the investigation into Danny's Latimer's death,” Mrs. Troup noticed from her own notes.

Miss. Helen Jolt, for the uncounted time, spoke up for Hardy against her colleague. “I have observed Mr. Hardy with both Daisy and Ben, and his four other children. There is substantial evidence that shows that his actions in the Latimer case were driven by his need to stop the killer striking again. It has no connection at all with his treatment of his children. And it bears no relation to how well he looks after himself now.”

“Agreed,” the Adjudicator noted. “Your arguments should be relevant, Mrs. Troup. If not, I shall ask you to leave the hearing. Mr. Hardy, what would you like to see happen in the near future where Ben and Daisy are concerned?”

“I’d like to bring them home,” he replied. “Give Daisy the home life I gave her before I was forced to leave, to keep her safe and allow her the time she needs to heal. I’d like to give Ben the home and family life he has never had and make him as comfortable as I can, no matter how bad his condition gets.”

Mrs. Troup was not to be outdone. “You are asking to be granted custody when you were a suspect in multiple murders?”

“My ex-wife and her lover were the suspects. She attempted to frame me,” Hardy stressed.

“And you petition for your present wife to adopt Ben and Daisy, when she was investigated in the aftermath of her first husband's arrest?” she intoned.

It was all Miss Jolt could do to not sigh very loudly as she interjected again. “Not relevant,” she said. “That investigation was dropped because there was no evidence that the then Mrs. Miller was complicit or even knowledgeable. There is no contact with Joe Miller. All parental rights for Fred and Tim were transferred to Hardy during his adoption hearing. This information has no bearing on Ben and Daisy Hardy and should be left off their records and never brought out again.”

“Agreed-”

“He has no relationship with Ben!” Mrs Troup interrupted the Adjudicator.

“All because of his mother,” the doctor protested. “My staff can and will testify in Court to Tess Hardy's efforts to block Mr. Hardy from contacting Daisy and told him to get out of Ben’s room, and to her poor efforts toward her children's medical health. Ben Hardy must be given to his father, and soon.”

“Out of the question!” Mrs. Troup spat.

“Your last warning, Mrs. Troup,” the Adjudicator spoke. When she closed her mouth he turned to the doctor. “Please repeat your conclusions.”

“Ben's condition is extremely critical and unstable. If I understand correctly, a child is not permitted to receive major medical care or surgeries while in foster care, which is what Mrs. Troup is suggesting. Am I correct about that rule?”

The adjudicator nodded, face blank. The case worker, Miss. Helen Jolt, also confirmed it.

“Then I cannot stress enough that Ben Hardy's best, nee only, chance of living is for his father to gain custody of him immediately. If he doesn't get the pacemaker within the next few weeks, he won't see the New Year.”

Hardy cringed, swallowing his protests at the very thought.

“I have no doubt that he would never have got this sick had he been in the sort of loving environment that I know Harry and Catherine are being brought up in. If Mr. Hardy had been in charge of Ben's care, his condition would have been discovered much sooner and his life would not be hanging in the balance now. He also would not have endured the injuries that have left him in a slowly deteriorating condition that will severely impede his life. I and my staff don’t particularly care who caused the injuries, Mr. Stratton, Mrs. Tess Hardy or someone else, that’s for the Crown Court to decide, but they have not happened at the hands of the man sitting here.”

Jolt noticed that Troup seemed unmoved. “In any event, if our office denies Ben a stable home where he feels safe enough to recover and live as near a normal life as possible, we will be held criminally liable and negligent if he dies. He would be technically under our care. Are you really wanting to give the police a reason to search our offices like they have others? Has Children’s Services not had its reputation damaged enough by incompetence? Because that's what'll happen if Ben is not given to his father.”

“Don’t threaten me,” Mrs. Troup grated. “I was in Social Services before you were even born!”

“Enough!” snapped the Adjudicator. “I have heard enough to make a decision now, in light of Ben Hardy's health. Mrs. Troup, please leave the room. I will speak to you after the hearing.”

Hardy nearly held his breath as the woman obeyed the command. He closed his eyes as the door closed behind her.

“Never, in the course of my job have I had to evict a professional from a case conference,” the Adjudicator spoke. “I’d like to think there will not be a repeat.” He dipped his eyes to his notes. “Am I to understand that the basis of this Child Protection Plan is to deny access to the named children for Mr Stratton and limit access by Mrs. Stratton?”

“Yes,” Helen, the case worker, replied. “After her trial and possible prison sentence.”

“And the charges against the step-father, Mr. Stratton, are considerable, and the charges against Mrs. Stratton are for wilful neglect and causing or allowing harm or abuse to a child, in this case two?”

“Yes,” Helen replied.

“But there is no indication of abuse or allowance by Mr. Hardy?”

“None,” the case worker replied.

“Then, if I might be so bold, why the hell is Mr. Hardy in this room and not his ex-wife and her partner?”

Mrs. Troup’s seconder, Mrs. Aylesbury, looked singularly embarrassed. She had yet to speak a word, but the Adjudicator’s glare told her that now should be the time she did. “Our case is based on the evidence that Mr. Hardy knew about the abuse and did nothing about it for several years. He was given contact and access rights and did not show up for pre-arranged contact and, in fact, severed all ties with his daughter Daisy five years ago. Plenty of time to have reported or stopped the abuse himself. He didn’t.”

“As we have seen and heard, your evidence has been either fabricated or exaggerated,” the Adjudicator. “And I shall make a mention of it in my final report. You have also deigned to include or mention in this conference, the report from a Mrs. Evans to Sandbrook Children’s Services about her granddaughter, Daisy Hardy. Mrs. Evans was supposed to have been at this meeting, as a social worker from Sandbrook, a move that was cancelled by Mrs. Troup.” He held up the corresponding sheet of paper so that everyone could see it. “She outlines very clearly what was going on after Hardy was evicted from his home and left to sleep in a car, repeatedly refused entry to collect his belongings, repeatedly refused access to his daughter, repeatedly denied access by the school on orders from the mother, and all of this was ignored, because the father was at that time a publicly disgraced police officer. Under guidelines from the government, work and home are not interchangeable when it comes to children and their care. Said police officer was exonerated. Why was this report not added to your case notes?”

Mrs. Aylesbury shook her head and shrugged. “I didn’t know about that report.”

“So why are you here?”

“I’m here as a stand-in for Mrs. Evans,” she replied. “Mrs. Troup decided that because she is Tess Hardy’s mother it would be inappropriate for her to be here as a social worker.”

“Or perhaps Mrs. Troup wanted the full truth to be made known? Either way, I smell a cover-up,” the Adjudicator responded pointedly. “I will make my conclusions. Mrs Aylesbury, please ask your colleague to come back in,” he added forthrightly. He stacked his various piles of papers together while this was done. “We have heard from the police about Daisy Hardy’s coercion into gang crime and about the events that followed. We have heard about the medical situation and the schools’ reports on Daisy and Ben. We have heard the report from the staff at Broadchurch Cottage hospital. And we have heard the case as it stands from Bridport Children’s Services point of view, and we have heard from the father himself,” he summed up. “I have no interest in allowing a very sickly child to be effectively persona non grata as far as medical care is concerned. Foster care is not an option.”

Mrs Troup tensed, and scowled. Hardy had to remind himself to breathe. It helped that sitting next to him was Helen Jolt, and she looked more confident.

The Adjudicator continued, in the same calm manner as before. “I have already heard from each child, and they were adamant that they wanted to be with their father. Daisy is old enough that she can chose for herself, but she has insisted on remaining with her brother if they could not go to their father. When I spoke to Ben I saw a boy desperately wanting to know his father. There is no reason why I should not allow Mr. Hardy full access to his children, pending a Court order, but I think that would be granted. I have every confidence that the Court would grant that,” he added for Hardy’s benefit. “Given the evidence of how much attention Ben will receive in such a loving home and prompt medical intervention by the hospital staff, I see no need for visits from Children’s Services for assessment regarding this matter in the future. This family has endured enough trauma and face enough uncertainty in the future with Ben’s condition that I do not recommend Children’s Services add to it. However, Ben and his family will need a CIN for his disabilities and I have every hope that that will be handled in a far more professional and sensitive manner than this CPP was.” This was aimed at Helen, who readily nodded, and at Mrs. Troup, who simply scowled across the table at Hardy. The Adjudicator ignored her. “Once the children are able to leave hospital they can be placed with Mr. Hardy and his wife, without the need for further action from Children’s Services in this matter on either CPP or CIN case conference. At such times as Tess Hardy is either released from prison or found not guilty, all access to the children by her must be strictly monitored by Children’s Services, the details of that are in the hands of the Family Court. Copies of my conclusions will be sent to all parties within the next ten working days.”

This was not good news to Mrs. Troup’s ears. But she appeared to have no choice.

Hardy let out a huge breath, nearly needing to melt and slide off the chair into a puddle under the table. But he held on to armrests to stop himself, and managed a grateful smile. “Thank you.”

One more nightmare was over. Now, he had to head to the Family Court for the custody hearing.

/=/=/=/=

Tess was in Court, under prison guard. Hardy did not look at her. Neither did Ellie or the children. Ben and Daisy were still in hospital until the doctors said they were well enough to leave. At which point, Hardy would very joyfully go and pick them up. He could barely contain himself to wait for that moment.

“I find the documents in good order,” the magistrate summed up. “The report from Children’s Services by Teresa Hardy's mother, Mrs. Evan, Mr. Hardy's former mother-in-law, states that he was an excellent and attentive father, a superior parent than her own daughter. More than once she reported that she thought her grandchildren were not receiving proper care, but she was ignored because she had supported a man considered disgraced in his profession. Disgraced by actions that I can see were actually Teresa Hardy's own doing. Mr. Hardy's only fault was in believing it was necessary to hide his then wife's affair from their daughter, but given the evidence shown here I am not certain I can fault him for thinking it was the only palatable course of action. But I am not going to consider his actions there in my decision. It is the actions as a parent that I am focusing on. In comparison to his ex-wife’s his own are so far beyond reproach. I find it insane that my colleagues permitted the custody arrangement to remain standing and in fact ignored when the court agreement was breached by Teresa Hardy.”

Tess tried to speak in her defence, but the magistrate immediately held her hand up and silenced her. “Furthermore, it hasn't escaped my notice that the former Mrs. Hardy has done everything she could think of to keep her husband away from his own children. Every day we deny him is a victory to her. I will not aid a negligent parent in their games against a deserving parent. Cases like this come before me every week, and I meet them with the same vigour and determination for justice for those children as I do now. The children’s needs come first.”

That shut Tess up.

“Tess Hardy's parental rights are hereby terminated. I award full custody and parental rights of both Daisy and Ben to their father, Alec Hardy. A request has been put before this Court to permit Ellie Hardy to adopt them both, and a decision on that will be made in due course. Mr. Hardy, you are free to pick up your children from the hospital as soon as they are well enough to go home. I wish you all the best for Ben’s operation and for his future and to Daisy for her complete recovery. This case is closed.”

ĐĐ

To be continued...

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