Hadley slowly came awake with a smile on her face. Rolling over, she pulled her hand from under the cover to make sure the ring was still there. It was. It wasn't a dream. Arthur had asked her to marry him last night. With a happy sigh, she rolled out of bed. She quickly dressed hearing the bustle out in the hallway, she knew it was mid morning. It had taken her a while to fall asleep last night. She couldn't calm down. Running a brush quickly through her hair, she pulled it back and left the room to run into her sister.
"Finally!" Emma hugged Hadley, nearly knocking her over. "Arthur said not to bother you. But I've been dying!" Emma rolled her eyes dramatically. "Let me see. Let me see." She bounced up and down, grabbing her sisters hand. She squealed, then hugged her sister again. "I didn't think this day would ever come."
"Me either." Hadley had to laugh. "It's been rough at times."
"To say the least." Emma replied. "I'm so happy for you Hadley."
Hadley saw the sincerity and happiness in her sisters eyes and smiled. "Thank you. But the thought of being queen terrifies me."
"You'll be fine." Emma squeezed her hands. "You are amazing."
"Hardly." Hadley brushed off her sisters words. "Where is Arthur?"
"Meeting in the hall. Apparently people are worried about all the magic last night." Emma snickered.
"Oh no." Hadley took off towards the hall. The room was full of villagers, nobles and knights. Arthur was on his throne. When he stood up, the room quieted.
"I know you all have concerns about what happened last night. But know this. Everyone is safe. It was not harmful in anyway. In fact…it was amazing." Arthur smiled as he thought back to last night.
"But someone was using magic! Here! In Camelot."
Arthur turned to the man who was on his council and nodded. "Yes. I know magic has always been banned in Camelot and those who practiced it and caught were put to death. This was my father's law. It was not the law of Camelot." Arthur paused, his eyes falling on Hadley in the back of the room. He gave her a small smile before going back to the crowd. "I feel like magic can serve a purpose if…used correctly. It can heal…it can save." A quiet mummer started to fill the room. "So…I am going to purpose a new law. Magic will no longer be illegal. Those with magic will not be put to death simply for having it…being born with it. If it is used responsibility and not for harm…magic will be allowed." The mumbling got louder, people shocked and in awe. "But hear this!" Arthur held up a hand. "If magic is ever used to harm, or hurt that person will stand trial in front of a jury as with any broken law. My council and I will write the law and the specifics and post it by weeks end."
The room was quiet as Arthur's eyes moved around. Merlin was smiling as well as Hadley who was looking at him with so much love he felt like his chest would explode. Then suddenly…everyone was clapping and shouting his name.
"Long live the king!"
"Come in!" Hadley called out at the knock on her door. She turned, smiling as Arthur walked in. Well…King Arthur since he was in his crown and the rest of his kingly trinkets. Tonight was the feast to celebrate the end of the tournament. Which Henry had won.
Arthur bowed, smiling as he looked at her. "I don't know how you get more beautiful every time I see you."
Hadley rolled her eyes, but smiled at him. "You look very handsome also." Hadley ran a hand down her side of her dress. It was a dark blue with gold trim stitched in a beautiful flower design down her side and to the skirt of the dress. She had decided to pull her hair back, pulling it up in a loose bun at the nape of her neck. Arthur held his arm out to her, smiling she took it and let him lead her towards the great hall. The sound of conversation filled the hall as they walked in. The crowd parted as Arthur walked in. Hadley squared her shoulders as she walked with Arthur to the front of the room. She was still a little uncomfortable with the attention, but put a slight smile on her face as a few of the people smiled at her. She was sure there was talk about her in the village and among the noble women, but she hadn't heard any. Camelot loved their King and it wasn't more evident when the new law was posted about those practicing magic. Merlin had told her only a few of the older members disapproved of it. But the law seemed to be accepted by most. Once they were settled at the end of the table, everyone else found a seat so the food could be served.
"Lady Hadley, you look lovely." Henry flashed her a bright smile as he sat across from her.
"Thank you, Henry. Congratulations on your victory today." Hadley fought a smile at Arthur's snort. "It was very exciting."
"He almost lost." Arthur chimed with a smirk at the man sitting to his left.
Henry laughed as he picked up his cup. "That I did, sire. Lord Hellen was a very worthy opponent."
Hadley ate quietly listening to the banter between the two men. The tension Arthur had kept between them was gone, and now there was a friendly teasing and insulting that both of the men enjoyed. Hadley looked down the table, smiling to see her sister keeping the attention of several knights. When she felt the slight tug on her sleeve she turned to Arthur who had leaned in close to her.
"I'm going to announce our engagement." Arthur quietly told her.
"Now." Hadley's eyes widen in surprise…and fear. "Do you think now is the time? I mean-"
"Hadley." Arthur chuckled, putting a finger over her lips. "It will be okay. So many people love you already. You have nothing to worry about."
"No. I'm the king. What I want goes." He winked at her before scooting his chair back. The room quickly quieted as it saw it's king standing. "First off, I would like to congratulate Prince Henry of Hendrick on his…almost loss today." The room busted into laughter, Henry laughing with them. Arthur smiled as he picked up his cup as the laughter died down. "Seriously, Camelot is lucky to have such an ally and friend as Hendricks. King Cedric and my father were close friends and…I'm glad that Prince Henry and I can continue down that same path." Arthur looked at Henry. "I consider Prince Henry a great ruler, an excellent knight and…I also consider him my friend." Henry gave him a slight nod, a small smile on his face. Arthur held up his cup higher and everyone followed suit. "To Prince Henry!" The room repeated the cheer, clapping, yelling out good wishes for the tournament winner. Arthur gave everyone a moment before holding up his hand again. The room quickly quieted. "One…more thing." Arthur smiled again, this time it was softer and directed at Hadley.
"Arthur? May I?" Emma asked, scooting her chair back to stand. Arthur shared a look with Hadley who shrugged her shoulders. When the king nodded, Emma turn to face the people in the room. "Hi. For those that don't know me…I'm Emma. My sister and I came to Camelot many moons ago," Emma smiled. "we were welcomed and it felt like…home." Emma turned to Hadley with a soft smile. "There has been many dark days…but also some wonderful days and today is one of those." Emma picked up her cup, her eyes misty. "I am beyond happy to announce the engagement of King Arthur to my dear, wonderful sister Hadley."
Hadley held her breath as Emma's words bounced around the great hall and then…the room filled with cheers. Happy cheers. Hadley felt Arthur's hand on her back before holding it out to her. She took it nervously and let him pull her to her feet. He put a kiss on her temple as he smiled as people started to come forward to bestow their best wishes and congratulations.
Hadley was sure her hand was numb as she stood next to Arthur as the last well-wisher moved by them. Everyone in the room wanted to tell them of their happiness of their engagement and Hadley had happily shook hands and hugged each one of them, so happy and relieved to be accepted so readily. But she was exhausted. It was early morning and Hadley wanted nothing but her bed. She was thankful when Arthur excused them and escorted her out of the hall.
"See. Nothing to worry about." Arthur bragged in her ear, smirking.
"Yes. I should have never doubted you." Hadley teased around a yawn.
"You'll learn." Arthur winked, moving to open her door. "Sweet dreams, love." He bent to give her a gentle kiss.
"Good night, my lord." With a smile over her shoulder, she shut the door and quickly got ready for bed. Once she laid her head down, she was asleep.
"Hadley…what are we doing?" Arthur asked as he let his wife lead him down the castle halls. His wife. For the last three hours he had been able to call her that. People had come far and wide to be witness to Camelot getting it's new queen. The castle had been busting with royalty, nobility and others. When Hadley had knelled before him and he placed the crown on her head he was sure he had never felt such happiness and completeness. "Hadley." He laughed as his legs got tangled up in the train of her wedding dress. Her hair hung lose down her back, the crown shining beautifully atop her head. He paused when she lead them to the chapel door. "What are we doing here?" He knew that the chapel was slowly being restored, but it wasn't near completion.
Hadley gave him a smile as she opened the doors and pulled him in. The ring on his finger caught his attention as she held tight to his hand. It seemed surreal that he was hers. That she was the queen. The ceremony had been beyond nerve wrecking, but she had made it though. The celebration dinner was still going strong in the great hall. As the party ran on, Hadley looked for a moment for her and Arthur to slip away. There as something very important she wanted to do. She stopped them in the center of the chapel. All of the old pews had been removed and the floor had been polished. Repairs to the beams in the ceiling were the current project.
"Why are we here?" He questioned with a confused smile.
"Today…has been…terrifying." He laughed at her words, squeezing her hands tight. "But it's been worth it to be married to you." Hadley softly told him. "It was wonderful to have Emma, Merlin, Bylthe all there with us."
"It has…." He arched a brow, still curious.
"But we both were missing our parents." Hadley's mother had stayed on her mind all day, one of her ribbons were actually sewn into the arm of her sleeve so she could be there with her. Her father…had crossed her mind also. She so wished things were different so he could be there with her, but she held hope that maybe someday.
"But you…always said you felt your mother here." Hadley's eyes strayed to where his mother stood behind him, a weepy smile on her face. "I know…your mother has watched over you since you were born and I know…she would very much love to see your wedding."
"But…she can't." Arthur frowned, beyond confused.
"What…would you say to her if she was here?" Hadley moved into him, smiling into her eyes. "If she had been here with us today."
"Um. Well. I…know she would of totally adored you." Arthur leaned into put a quick kiss on her smiling mouth. "I think…she would be proud of me."
"Oh, she is." Hadley whispered, seeing his mother move next to them.
"I would want her to know that everyday…in everything I do…she is always in the back of my mind…she is always with me." Arthur cleared his throat and then looked around as a light breeze moved his hair. "Is that you?"
"No." Happy tears rolled down her cheeks. "She's here. That's why you feel her here."
Arthur looked around in disbelief. But he felt it again. Just the slightest air on his cheek. "You see her?"
"Yes." Hadley moved then, wrapping her arms around him to hug him. "She wanted to see you on your wedding day. She is so very proud of the man you are."
"Tell her…I love her." Arthur rasped, tears forming in his eyes.
"You tell her."
Arthur looked around the chapel, remembering how much Hadley had wanted it restored, how upset she had been at the thought of destroying it. This was why. His mother was here. Keeping his arms around Hadley, he rested his cheek on her head and closed his eyes. "I love you mother." The warmth on his cheek made him smile. "She does like you right?"
Hadley threw her head back as her laughter echoed in the empty room. She looked over, seeing the smile on her mother in law face. "Yes. I do believe she does."
"There you are!" Merlin exclaimed as he popped his head in the chapel. "Everyone is looking for you both."
'We're coming." Hadley smiled at him.
Arthur tangled his fingers in Hadley's as he looked to his right. "Good night, mother. I'll…be back."
Hadley saw the happy smile move over his mother's face as they left the room. "Do we have to go back?"
Arthur chuckled as they slowly made their way back to the great hall. "Another hour…then we'll sneak off for good." Arthur smirked at the blush that rose to her cheeks. Pressing a kiss on her fingers, they entered the hall.
13 years Later
"You're going to get in trouble."
"No, I won't." The boy smirked as he raised his hand to make the water in the lake bubble.
"Father says no magic unless we are supervised." The young girl reminded with a worried frown.
"Go ahead and be a chicken." The boy snapped, blowing the black curls from his eyes. "What father doesn't know-"
"What?" The two children froze as they looked behind them. "Finish that sentence, Malachi."
Malachi watched as his father crossed his arms over his chest waiting for him to respond. With a sigh, he hung his head. "I'm sorry, father."
Arthur's shoulders fell as he stepped to the children, going down on one knee. "Those rules are in place to keep you both safe."
"We are sorry father."
Arthur steeled himself from the watery, blue eyes so much like her mothers. "I know, Alannah. But if I'm to trust you and your brother to come out here alone, then I need to trust you to follow the rules."
"Yes father." Alannah gave him a sweet smile before jumping into his arms.
Arthur chuckled, getting to his feet and holding her close to him. "Come on." He ruffled Malachi's hair before putting his arm around his sons shoulders and walking them back to the castle.
"You know father. I am old enough to be by myself." Malachi spoke up as they entered the courtyard.
"Hmm…well…twelve is practically a man." Arthur teased as he nodded to the villagers.
"I am too father!" Alannah spoke up, not wanting to be left out.
"You are still a baby!" Malachi sneered at his sister.
"I am not a baby! I'm six!" Alannah defended, more than offended at her brother's words "I'm not a baby, am I father?"
"Of course you are." Arthur kissed her soft cheek. "You're my baby." He smiled when she rolled her eyes. Oh, this child. He loved his oldest and had been so proud when he held his son in his arms for the first time. Images of riding, hunting and fighting together filled his head. For years, they had thought he was to be their only one and they were more than happy. But when the nurse had placed his daughter in his arms his heart was completely taken. She looked so much like her mother, her smile, her eyes…her. He adored her.
"There you are."
Arthur smiled up as Hadley came out onto the steps, baby Maddox toddling behind her. "I found these children lose in the woods. I know you don't like to pick up strays, but I thought they were rather cute." Arthur smiled at Alanna's musical laughter as he sat her on her feet.
"Mmm…they don't look like they are dangerous." Hadley teased, moving to kiss her oldest on the cheek. He tried to pull away which made her heart ping. He was growing up so fast. The future king of Camelot so like his father in bravery and his protective nature. "Go wash up. Dinner is ready." She chuckled as Malachi rushed inside, always ready to eat.
"I'm hungry too, Mama." Alannah pulled on her mother's dress, wanting her attention. "May I go wash up?"
"Yes." Hadley placed a kiss on her head before sending her off always ready to follow her brother anywhere. Hadley turned to see Arthur had a hold of Maddox. "Where were they?"
"At the river…making it bubble." Arthur gave her a look as he let the baby pull at his shirt. "You are going to have to bind them."
"I will not. Not unless I have too. They were just curious." Hadley defended with a frown. Early on in both of them it was easy to see they took after their mother. Her and Arthur both agreed to let them grow up with magic, learning it and studying it. Hadley had the power to bind their magic until they were older to control it, but she had always been hesitant to do so. They deserved to have the chance to practice it. She knew Arthur's words were from concern and worry. "I'll talk to them."
The nurse stepped out, ready to take Maddox. Arthur placed a kiss on his youngest son's head before turning him over. He smiled as Maddox looked over his nurses shoulder to wave at them. The little brat, he thought fondly as he put his arm around his wife's shoulders to walk them inside. Maddox was their last child, but not by choice. He had almost lost his wife as she gave birth to their third child. Arthur had been terrified as he watched both struggle to stay alive. Maddox had been early and so so small he was sure they would lose him. Hadley had lost so much blood and he had watched helplessly as the nurses and Blythe had worked on her. Blythe had saved them, using magic to heal her and the baby. Blythe had to use a spell that now left Hadley unable to have anymore children. While Arthur was more than happy with that, he knew Hadley had been sad. But he reminded her often of their three beautiful children and she would smile fondly.
Arthur paused as they entered the great hall. Malachi was sitting in the kings seat, eating. Alannah was up on her knees trying to reach the plate of cheese before her older brother could get it all. Maddox was being chased around the table by Merlin who was laughing as much as the baby. It was time like these that would take Arthur's breath away. To see his family…his whole life, doing normal things such as eating dinner. The castle was full of childish laughter and everyone was happier for it. Turning, he put a kiss on his wife's temple. "I love you."
Hadley turned giving him a soft but surprised smile. "I love you. What's that look?"
"Nothing. Just happy." Arthur shrugged, holding her close. "Sometimes when I can think…it sneaks up on me."
Hadley turned to face him, smiling up at him. "Well…you are a busy man." He was also a wonderful king. His people adored him and Camelot prospered for it. "Come. Let's go eat with the children. Malachi will eat it all if we don't."
Arthur laughed as he went to the table. He crossed his arms and put a stern look on his face. "I think you are in my seat, son."
Malachi looked up at his father with a smirk. "It will be mine someday."
Arthur bent to him. "It will. But a word of advice. Don't rush it. It will come soon enough." Moving he easily picked up his twelve year old. "Besides we have to get some muscle on you before you can even think of being king." Malachi rolled his eyes as his father ruffled his hair before sitting at his left. Arthur sit once he had Hadley next to him. She had managed to scoop up Maddox and was feeding him. With a content sigh, he sat back to eat with his family.