A/N- Happy Halloween everyone!
The day of the christening was bright with sunshine; numerous banners had been hung in Hampton Court Palace and the rushes scattered with rose petals. In the chapel, the dignitaries of the realm and foreign diplomats were gathered to watch as the child was brought in, carried under a canopy in the arms of the Marchioness of Exeter.
At the altar, by the golden font, Prince Niklaus stood with his family, their eyes avidly watching the newest member of their house who began to fuss shortly before reaching them.
The wet nurse, who had entered the chapel with the rest of the royal household took a step forward yet Niklaus had scooped his newborn into his arms before anyone else could.
"There, there, young William," he murmured, his voice soothing the babe, "All is well."
Elijah shares a look with his brother Kol and the younger brother comes forward,
"Nik," he speaks with a lowered voice, "The Bishop awaits."
Niklaus nods his understanding yet does not return his son to the Marchioness' arms, rather, he himself performs the task, taking her place by the gold font and his siblings gather quickly around him.
Katherine stood as proxy for the Queen of Scotland, William's godmother and Elijah, for the King of France. Kol was godfather for the prince in his own right, as had been promised when he married Bonnie who had been granted the title of godmother as a token of love for her efforts in the birthing chamber.
It had not all been for naught.
The ceremony concludes after noon and Niklaus carries his son eagerly from the chapel heavy with the stench of incense to the fresh air of a courtyard, holding him to his chest so the peeling of the bells would not wake the poor babe.
Prince William Henry Edward.
"How fare you my son?" he asks him jovially, "Do you wish to be returned to your rooms?"
The court is gathering around him; Rebekah places a hand on his arm and stretches on her toes to glimpse her nephew.
"I shall return him to Caroline before the feast." he informs her, moving away before she can respond.
Niklaus feels nervous holding his son, filled with terror at the thought of dropping him so he moves as quickly as he warrants is safe through the halls of the Palace. He ignores the servants who stop and curtsy hurriedly when he passes, he ignores even his brother Elijah whom is running after him, calling his name as he climbs the stairs.
Niklaus does not cease until he has entered the Queen's rooms and found them empty.
Worse, found them looted of all the possessions.
A frown furrows his brow and he cautiously steps into Caroline's bed chamber, looking to the bed where they had spent so many hours wrapped in each other's embrace. Where they had laughed, and loved and predicted the future eagerly.
It had been stripped bare.
"Niklaus!" Elijah flung himself into the room as his confusion begins to overtake him,
"Where is she?" he asks, holding his son to him cautiously, "Where is my wife? Where is the Queen?"
Elijah sighed, "Little brother," he crossed the room and put a gentle hand onto his shoulder,
"Do you not remember?"
In his arms, William releases a tiny wail and Niklaus shakes his head, "No."
"She has been moved to your rooms," his brother reminds him, "She spoke of it this morn, she could not bear to remain in these chambers."
He tilts his head as he wracks his mind and verily, cannot recall the moment,
"She is there now?" he confirms and Elijah nods,
"The court has gathered there to congratulate her."
"And Bonnie?" Niklaus demands, moving to the secret passage between their rooms out of habit before remembering that he could not do so now without revealing the secret.
"She is watching her, verily, she assures me that she is well."
He breathes a sigh of relief and allows his brother to lead the way, cutting a path through the courtiers who step back as he moves past.
He had never considered his chambers as living quarters, having preferred to sleep in his wife's bed, he would bathe, dress and occasionally meet with friends in his rooms yet otherwise, he was by the Queen's side.
Now, his floors had been lain with new carpets and rushes, the walls covered with bright tapestries and gold plate filled the cupboards. Niklaus walked through the servants setting up for the celebration and stepped into his bedroom to see Caroline lying back against a mountain of pillows, drowsing peacefully as Bonnie made her yet another syllabub.
The windows were wide open, allowing a gentle breeze to fill the room and undermine the heat of the roaring fire. Still, Caroline's forehead was damp with sweat and her face flushed, yet she smiled when Niklaus closed the door and sat on the end of the bed.
"Hello sweetest heart," he murmurs, "Are you well?"
She hums and stretches out a hand, patting the coverlet beside her lap and Niklaus lays William down carefully so as not to jostle her.
She rests a hand on his stomach, before looking to her husband, "The christening went well?"
He nods and takes her free hand, kissing it tenderly, "And you?" he asks, worriedly, "You are well?"
Niklaus had been terrified when Caroline had fainted after the birth but Bonnie had pushed him aside and begun issuing orders with greater skill than a sea captain. She had nursed Caroline back to health with tonics and herbs that the midwife called witchcraft.
Niklaus could not have given a care what it was, as they made his wife well again.
Caroline accepts the syllabub from Bonnie and holds the cup to her face, shielding it from her sight as she sticks her tongue out at Niklaus, who has to bite his own to keep from laughing.
"Make sure she drinks it," she tells him in Spanish, "Do not let her throw it out the window."
He nods dutifully and when she leaves the room to seek out her husband, the two of them break into laughter until they are breathless.
With a sigh, Caroline pinches her nose and drains the cup, swallowing with difficulty and handing it to him to place aside.
"She is right," he tells her, slowly making his way up the bed to settle beside her, "The sooner you are well again, the sooner you can return to matters of state."
She huffs and lays her head on his shoulder, "Verily, does Alaric curse me for tarrying?"
He kisses the crown of her head, "Not you, mayhap he blames me for the matter."
She laughs, resting her hand on his arm, "As did I, however, I can forgive you this time."
He grins as he hears the gentle knock on the door, they are out of time, "And what of the next?"
She purses her lips in disapproval, "We shall see."
"And the time after that?" he jests, climbing off the bed and moving to the door,
"You are pushing your luck."
He chuckles and opens the door a fraction to see Katherine's face, "It is time," she warns him and he smiles, "A moment."
He turns back to Caroline, "My luck raised me from soldier to earl, to prince and better yet, gave me your heart. I trust in it more than words can say."
She puts a hand to her heart, "Verily, I love you too."
A/N- This was the final chapter. Thank-you everyone who read and reviewed, I had a lot of fun writing this story.