The soft pinks and blues that had painted the sky only an hour earlier darkened to a rich indigo, much to Kate's chagrin. It was further proof that time stops for nothing, even the most charmed and perfect of days. This night would end and tomorrow will dawn anew, bringing with it the start of her new life with her husband and family. She smiled widely at the thought, even as she fought to preserve the present as long as possible, breathing in each second, noting the passing of every minute and determined to hold on to each one.

She watched as the limo glided down the driveway, carrying their three guests and the officiant to their respective hotel rooms in town and leaving the newlyweds to a night alone in the enormous house in the Hamptons. With their departure, Kate knew another phase of the night was about to begin. They were alone, she and Castle, for the first time as husband and wife. She shivered with irrepressible glee at what was undoubtedly to come, even as she reflected back on the evening.

To Kate's categorical mind, Phase One had been their preparations and arrival. It was amazing what one could accomplish in a matter of hours with resources aplenty.

Her nuptial ensemble was procured spontaneously at a favorite Upper Eastside boutique that never failed to have something spectacularly original on hand. The outfit – for it surely wasn't a wedding gown – was certainly non-traditional, but was also so perfect. Kate had fallen in love with the feminine lace and flowing fabric, and found herself much preferring the simple lines and modern cut to the reams of excessive, heavy fabric in the couture dresses she thought she had wanted.

A local stylist had met her at the house, quickly and effectively gathering her hair into soft, full curls off her neck. She had slipped carefully into the white, silk pants, loving the way they slid over her legs. The top came to her midriff and was adorned with a matching white sash that allowed the merest hint of skin to peak rebelliously, yet tastefully, from underneath. Perhaps it wasn't something she would have worn for the grand affair planned in May, but walking toward her groom, she knew it suited her far better than either of her previous gowns. And Castle sure hadn't complained!

He had taken care of more details than she'd realized, renewing their license, calling the officiant, and getting their family to Long Island, all to allow her an extra sliver of time to indulge in being a bride to what limited extent their plans allowed.

As a result, Phase Two, the ceremony, had been more perfect that she ever could have dreamed. It was hard not to wonder, even for a split second, whether everything had been meant to happen to give them this one, suspended moment of perfection. For the first time in three months, she was able to forgive the universe for the cruel trick it had played on them when it robbed her of her groom and their wedding day. She knew there were people out there responsible for what had happened – and one day they would be found – but tonight, on the tenth of November, 2014, the sharp edge of resentment no longer sliced at her heart. Looking at Castle, seeing his stupefied, wonderful awe as he watched her dad escort her across the lawn, swelled her heart so much there was no room for anything but love and gratitude. This was what their lives had been leading to, and as she stepped onto the dais, she couldn't bring herself to regret one minute of her life – even the hopeless devastation of those two lost months – because every second of every day had finally brought them to this moment. Castle had taught her that, and now she knew how true the words he spoke on that high school dance floor, seemingly eons ago, actually were.

It lasted only minutes and was shared with the people they considered nothing less than extensions of themselves. It was as private a ceremony as could morally be justified. They made their declarations, holding nothing back. They gave voice to a hundred shared moments, a thousand shared glances, and a million shared thoughts. Words too heavy for daily expression found their place and made their stand. They stood on the edge of the world, with the ocean and sky extending forever. Words of confirmation, remembrance, and promise cemented the conviction and solemnity of this deepest commitment. They spoke vows of true love, true minds, and true marriage.

And they meant every word.