Nobody Said it Was Easy

- Guinevere -

A/N: Well, I hope you like it. It was time, so here it is, the last installment. Thank you to everyone who's read and reviewed – I wouldn't have continued without you guys. P.S.: I did know that Motherhood was real, thanx.

Disclaimer: I don't own Gilmore Girls.

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- 11 - Full Circle

Things for Rory and Jess were not easy, but they hadn't expected them to be. They had to get used to each other again, to reignite that spark that had always existed between the two of them. Their plan had some kinks in it, such as who had J.D. when and for how long, but they worked it out. After Rory had finished her first semester the three moved to a small apartment in Hartford to be closer to their schools, and Richard and Emily paid for a part-time nanny so they could take a full course load.

Jess worked at the bookstore and went to school during the week while Rory wrote her column and commuted to Yale, taking a five classes plus two online classes to catch up. On the weekends they stayed in Stars Hollow and Jess worked the morning shifts at Luke's. They had coordinated their schedules so well that it wasn't long before three more years had passed and Rory and Jess were graduating from college, with degrees in English and Business/Early Childhood Development, respectively.

Rory's ceremony had commenced hours earlier and they were all at a party in Stars Hollow to celebrate their graduations. Jess had planned something extra for Rory but it seemed that J.D. was on his worst behavior, acting like he was still in his terrible twos, even though he was now three-and-a-half.

Jess pulled Rory out onto Lorelai's porch to speak to her privately, but J.D. followed, running as fast as he possibly could back and forth in front of them. "Rory, I've got to talk to you for a minute," Jess began.

"Then talk. J.D.! My god, does he ever sit still? Did you fill him full of candu again?" Jess had this nasty habit of passing J.D. a roll of lifesavers whenever he wasn't behaving.

"Would you rather he run up on stage while you were getting your diploma? No, I didn't think so."

Rory had had enough of J.D.'s antics for one day, so she stomped her foot and yelled, "Jeremiah!"

Her son promptly stopped running and hopped up into his mother's face, motioning for her to bend to his level. "Was a bull frog," he began singing, then hopped away croaking.

Rory stood in shock at this, but soon recovered. "J.D., who taught you that?"

"Grammie did. She said that's where you got my name," he continued to hop around, switching from one foot to the other until Jess ran after him and picked him up around his waist, holding the squirming child over his shoulder.

"That's not where your name's from, J.D. Why don't you got find Ian so I can talk to Mommy." He set him down and nudged him in the direction of Ian Melville and his other friends.

"I swear, if I ever have another kid, it will be raised vegan and never taste the likes of sugar or caffeine," Rory told Jess, knowing full well this was impossible with such influences as Lorelai. "So, you were saying?"

Jess maneuvered himself so he was sitting opposite Rory on the porch railing. "Well, it's funny you mention more kids because there was something I wanted to ask you that relates to that."

"Jess," she sighed, suspecting what was coming. "Really, if you're only doing this for me, you can stop because I'm perfectly, blissfully happy with the way things are."

"Don't try to dissuade me. I've been waiting for the right time for over a year now and you keep telling me not to bother. Well now I want it worse than you ever did. Now sshh, and let me do this right." Jess dropped to one knee and pulled out a small navy velvet box and put it in her hand. "I'm in love with you, and I have been since the day we met. We've been through a lot, but we've survived, which proves we can get through anything together. I want to grow old with you in some house on some fruity street here in Stars Hollow. I want the world to know that you and I and J.D. belong to each other. Rory, will you marry me?"

Rory pondered his question, merely for affect, threw an arm around his neck and pulled him to her. "Yes," she whispered against his lips, then kissed him with all her force.

"Good," he said when they broke. They laughed, kissed, then headed inside to tell their family and friends.

Rory became Mrs. Mariano that August in a small ceremony held at the Dragonfly. They spent two weeks, courtesy of Richard, Emily, Luke and Lorelai, in England on their honeymoon before returning home to move to New York City. Jess had accepted a position as a manager at a telemarketing firm and was going to work towards a masters in architecture at Cooper Union while Rory had been promoted to junior editor at Motherhood, and J.D. would be starting kindergarten at the Hollingford School.

After everything they had been through, our little family had finally found their share of success. And they lived, as it might be said, happily ever after.

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Late November, 2020

Punk rock music snaked through the Stars Hollow sunrise, serving as an alarm clock for the residents of Kiwi Lane. This was nothing new though: that particular green-door-garage had shaken to life every Saturday morning at seven am sharp for the last two years, ever since 48-Hour Nightmare was formed. And no one would dare interfere with the sacred band practice, for the town's prince was the lead guitarist and he had free reign.

J.D. Mariano lived with his parents, Rory and Jess, and his two siblings Ollie and Addie at 14 Kiwi Lane; had lived there since the street's inception when their house was built and access became necessary ten years ago. Since then, the street had grown to house many of Stars Hollow's finest citizens, including Miss Patty, the younger Forresters and the Melvilles.

J.D. was in his senior year at Chilton Preparatory Academy and today was his seventeenth birthday. His mother was busy in the kitchen, rare for her, and even rarer still at this ungodly hour. She was, with the help of her eleven-year-old son Ollie, filling a creme pie to, naturally, be thrown on her elder sons' head when practice was finished. A family tradition, you see, ever since the third birthday food fight. Meanwhile, Jess was wrapping presents in the rec room while seven-year-old Addie ran to the mailbox.

"Dad, this says 'Family of Jeremiah Mariano,'" Addie called as she shuffled through the envelopes.

"Lemme see," Jess told her, taking the rather thick envelope from his daughter. In addition to celebrating a birthday, the family was hoping to celebrate J.D.'s early decision into college. "Rory, I think this is it," he hollered into the kitchen.

Rory ran for the living room and ripped the envelope from him. She held it up to the light, trying to decipher the contents. "Just "Dear Mr. Mariano and Family" is all I can make out," she sighed.

"Maybe we should go tell him?" Ollie suggested, joining them in the rec room.

"No, he'll just get mad. He doesn't want the guys to know how excited he is," Rory told them, having already discussed this very subject with her eldest son. She opted to end the practice early, so she grabbed the pie, told her family to follow with the video camera and proceeded through the house to the garage door. Just as J.D. was finishing his solo, a pie careened toward the back of his head and landed with a splat.

"Hey! No fair, I wasn't ready!" he yelled at his mother, peeling the pie remains off his head.

"I think that's our cue to hit the road, before the food fight starts," Ian suggested to the other band members. Thirteen-year-old drum prodigy Tim Rygalski, bassist Ryan Thomas and Ian hurried out, leaving the Marianos to keep up with tradition. Rory hosed down J.D.'s head in the kitchen sink while Ollie found him a new shirt and Jess and Addie finished up the last of the gift wrapping.

"Oh, J., a letter came for you," Rory mentioned nonchalantly while J.D. toweled off his head.

"From where?" he stopped dead, eager to know what this letter may contain.

"I don't know, no return address. Thick though."

"They never send without a return address, so it can't be my early decision stuff."

"Maybe they just ran out of pre-stamped envelopes and wanted to send it quickly."

"You're dreaming Mom."

"Here it is!" Addie came running in with the envelope and Jess at her heels.

J.D. took the envelope and opened it slowly, having lost his enthusiasm upon seeing that it actually didn't have a return address. He unfolded the papers and read slowly. Then he folded it back up and set it on the table, just out of Addie's already grabbing reach.

"So?" Jess asked.

"They want me to invest in a Hoover. Nothing more," he replied, unable to make eye contact with his father.

"Oh really? Let me see that; I've always wanted a genuine Hoover," Rory said sarcastically, reaching for the papers.

"Mom," J.D. clamped his hand over hers. "I. Got. In. To Yale. Early Decision."

The family started dancing around the kitchen wildly, hugging J.D. and peeking at the letter. J.D. took a regal bow as the doorbell rang.

"What's all the fuss about?" Lorelai asked as she entered, Luke and her two sons in tow.

"J.D.'s going to Yale, Grammie," Addie squealed.

"Old news; we knew he'd get in. Anything else?" Lorelai asked.

"No, silly," Addie giggled, then ran over to eight-year-old Jack.

"Well it seems to me that there's a birthday or something we're forgetting. Did you already throw the pie?" She asked Rory, knowing the tradition all too well.

"Yeah, cleaned up and everything."

"I always loved the pie," Lorelai commented. "So, what's on the agenda today, college boy?"

"Presents, the cake Sookie sent over with Ian, then it's entirely up to all of you," J.D. answered, already sitting down at the table.

"Cake for breakfast! Yes!" ten-year-old Will rejoiced as Jess and Rory carried it from the kitchen and began the 'Happy Birthday' song.

This was a family to envy, to admire for all that they stood for and all that they had achieved. A sixteen-year-old who got pregnant and raised a daughter virtually on her own. The daughter, who got her self into Yale, had graduated with honors, written and been editor-in-chief of a top magazine before getting her dream job at Newsweek as a weekly columnist and assistant editor, all accomplished with the baby she had at barely nineteen in tow. Her husband had come from a broken home himself, escaped the Mariano curse and graduated from UConn and Cooper Union and now owned his own children's recreation firm – he designed and sold intellectually and physically stimulating playground equipment and loved every minute of it. Lorelai had finally gotten everything she wanted out of life with Luke and Rory had it all the moment she said 'I do.'

If only everyone could be so happy as the Gilmores, and the Marianos, and the Danes.

~*~*~ ~*~*~ The End ~*~*~ ~*~*~