Joe Wright and Ian McEwan (the director and the writer of the original novel, respectively) mislead the audience about what happened between Robbie and Cecilia, and between the couple and Briony.The meeting between Robbie and Cecilia at the cafe was the last time the two ever saw each other; after that, Cecilia gave Robbie the photo of the Beach House where she wanted to holiday with him when he had a short leave after completing his basic military training. Robbie departs for his military training, but before it is completed and he can take his leave the Germans invade France and he is shipped off to France where he dies in the retreat to Dunkirk.After their kiss on the street outside the tea shop they never see each other again. Robbie was killed several months before Cecilia, and she probably spent the rest of her short life mourning the loss of him.The last true thing we see is Briony attending Lola and Marshall's wedding where she suddenly realizes she was wrong about Robbie. Briony had convinced herself that it was Robbie, to prevent her from facing the truth, but when faced with Marshall, she could no longer deny it, and she wanted to apologize to them. This for Briony is a huge revelation; she realizes what she has done, and how, now, it cannot be undone.Robbie died on 1 June 1940; Cecilia died in October 1940. Therefore the meeting that happens directly after the wedding, when Briony goes to apologize, is the film's depiction of a fictional part of the novel (otherwise entirely factual) she has written. She fictionalized what would have happened if Robbie had not died, and how they would have reacted to her coming to visit. At the time, the audience believes this to have happened, but we find out (during the interview that ends the movie) that Robbie had died some weeks before this encounter (of septicemia at Dunkirk) at Cecilia's apartment happened. Although Cecilia was still alive at that point and would live for about another four months until dying in the Underground Station bomb shelter during the Blitz.The same is true with the shot of Robbie and Cecilia walking down the beach together. Again it was Briony thinking about what they would have done if they were able to go to that beach house together.In McEwan's novel (which essentially is Briony's novel) there is no scene of Robbie and Cecilia at the cottage, but the presumption is that they would have had their romantic trip to the cottage after Robbie's training.McEwan's (Briony's) novel just leaves Robbie and Celelia on a London street at the end of the story. After the fictional meeting at Cecilia's apartment they accompanied Briony to the Underground station so she could take the tube back to the hospital. And they are simply left at that point with whatever future they could make or wanted to make before them. Leaving them with that possible future before them is how she set them free to explore their love and share their lives.In the novel Briony writes about these two events she invented (the meeting at the apartment, and Robbie and Cecilia at the beach) saying, "I gave them happiness, but I was not so self-serving as to let them forgive me."Briony spent decades writing versions of her book, and as she says her 'newest book is actually her oldest book.' - a multiple reference referring variously to her previous attempts to get this story right, to the time when she was thirteen and for the first time let her talent for narrative fiction unfold as a real life 'play'. It was her way of giving them back what she had taken.A clue to the areas of fiction is the constant use of the sound effects of a typewriter in the actual scenes, in the inter-titles, and in the film score. The soundtrack is rich with clues and creative interactions. Note the playful plucking of the piano string in the drawing room in tune and tempo with the atmospheric off-scene soundtrack.Another interesting visual clue: Notice how when the young Briony is sitting in the library telling the police inspector how she definitely saw Robbie raping Lola the background behind her goes all to black (then her mother's hand on her shoulder to let her know she was doing the 'right' thing). Then at the end in the television studio as the elderly Briony begins to finally tell the truth the background behind her again goes to black. Wright is giving us visual bookends: the background going to black for the first time when Briony begins to tell her lies and then again when she begins to tell the truth.