disclaimer: not mine

A/N: This is it, last chapter. This story was the most ambitious undertaking I've ever attempted and I'm sad and relieved to see it completed. Thank you to everyone whose kept with this fic and a special thanks to Mrs. St. John Allerdyce, freakochick, yana, Chica de los ojos cafe, and of course, The 42, for your constant support.

They make a deal with each other, and he guesses it's pretty fair. She wants the ceremony to take place at the mansion, in the same little chapel that united their best friends two years earlier. So he let's her have that and in exchange she doesn't make him invite his family, at least his biological one. Raven Darkholme is among the first guests to R.S.V.P. Marie doesn't want to know how he still has a current address for her.

They make it a point to not invite Bobby to the wedding. The invitation is addressed only to Katherine Pryde-Drake. They know they will both get a laugh out of the absurdity of the gesture. Only her copy is fitted with the last line 'Plus One welcome, so make it count' at the bottom. Showing up uninvited to his wedding is the only indiscretion not squared between the two men. In the end, civility is such a small thing that takes them such a long time to achieve. But once that is accomplished, it's a fairly easy road to friendship. He knows things between him and Bobby will never be as strong as they were before, the unconditional trust can't be reborn, but trust is there none the less and he's grateful for that.

Many of Marie's family members aren't as pleased with the situation as he would like, but neither of them are surprised. During the few times they visited her home in Meridian the Welcome Wagon was generally sparse, rude, and altogether pretended to be oblivious to John as much as they could get away with. Only her parents and a favorite cousin agree to attend.

He sees her face fall every time an envelope baring a 'Sorry, we'll be out of town on that date,' or 'Unfortunately we can't travel that far at this time,' arrives in the mail. His prize rejection is from her great-aunt who lives in Jackson, 'I'm sorry Marie, maybe I can make it next time.'

"Next time?" she shakes her head. "What? Next time I get married or next time I ask her to put down the gin for a few hours." She says it aloofly, before violently throwing the card into the trash, but he can see her wipe away a couple of unintended tears when she thinks he's not looking.

"We can always elope," he muses hopefully.

She turns and looks at him pointedly, "We're doin' this right, John. I don't care if no one shows up, we're doin' this right." He knows it's his fault that none of her blood dare come up to New York, so he let's her have that one too.

The evening before the wedding she spends the night in a hotel with Jubilee who gets her raucously drunk off of everything in the mini-fridge and they both cry shamelessly while watching 'Beaches.' It takes four tries and sixteen rings for Kitty to answer the phone when they decide to call her a two AM. She's there in twenty minutes and the three woman end up sitting on the balcony drinking copious amounts of water and coffee and divulging secrets locked inside since high school until the sun rises.

"You know, I'll never really stop envying you." Jubilee confesses while Kitty's inside gathering pajama worthy articles of clothing.

"For what?"

"For being the girl who had nothing," she whispers, "And somehow you got everything. How did you do that?" she asks with conviction.

"I don't know," is the only answer Marie can give. I don't know.

John spends that night blowing up empty liquor bottles in the public park a few blocks away. He doesn't know why and he decides not to think about it too hard.

The ceremony is a success, by their standards at least. She starts to cry before the wedding march begins to play, just from the look on her father's face.

He wants to cry when he sees her at the far end of the chapel, because she looks so bright it makes his chest feel stretched, just knowing that he's the cause of that happiness. He actually does allow himself one tear, half way through their vows, when he realizes the bouquet she's holding is a mixture of magnolias, the state flower of Mississippi, and golden wattles, in honor of his Australian heritage. They don't match at all and the combined smell makes his nose twitch, but the sight of them bundled together moves him in a way he doesn't understand.

Before he says 'I do,' he whispers so softly that only she can hear, "I'm not running away, ever," so that the promise he made her before is now an unbreakable oath.

A fist fight breaks out at the reception, which they both think, for lack of a better term, is totally awesome, considering who it's between. Apparently there was some kind of cheating involved in the catching of the bouquet on the part of Marie's cousin and Jubilee decides to take it upon herself to rectify the situation. She spends the rest of the party holding the flowers with one hand and an icepack to her swelling cheek bone with the other, beaming blissfully at everyone who stops to offer their congratulations.

"And who are you?" Marie asks an unfamiliar woman at the bar.

"Who me?" she asks innocently, "I'm John's aunt, his Aunt Misty."

Marie blinks a few times, embarrassed that she couldn't sense who it actually was by the fact that neither her nor her new husband recognized the face.

"You should go say 'hi' to John, it'll mean a lot to him that you're here."

"I will," Mystique tells her in her natural voice, "But I wanted to ask you something. When you have a child, it'll probably be a mutant." Marie nods, this was something she and John had talked about, that possibility. "When you do, will you…let me see it?"

"Of course," she replies slowly, "That would mean a lot to John too, it would mean a lot to me."

They do have a child, three years later. A boy, they name him 'Scott.'

After two more they're joined by his sister, Xavier.

"Xavier is not a girl's name!" Marie argues from her hospital bed in the maternity wing.

"You got to name Scott!" John shoots back, "You said I could name this one!"

"But it's not a girl's name!"

"Listen, Kitty and Bobby already took 'Jean' and 'Charles!' I figured we should snap up 'Xavier' before Storm pops out whatever illegitimate thing she's having!" At that the baby begins to sob shrilly from her location in Marie's arms.

"See, she agrees with me."

"I like it too, Daddy," Scott adds from his seat on the foot of the bed.

"Good man," John replies proudly.

"What does illegitimate mean?"

"Ask your mother."

It's six o'clock in the morning when they're woken up by an extremely excited eleven year old Scott jumping onto their bed.

"Look what I can do!" he squeals. The adults watch with amusement as his brow furrows with concentration. It happens slowly, but in a matter of seconds, a perfect double of Storm's son is sitting where their boy had been. He's quicker to change back, still too inexperienced to hold the form for more than a few moments.

"Scott! That's amazing! Your Aunt Misty will be so proud!" John shouts, grabbing the boy by the shoulders and giving him a solid shake.

Marie groans and puts her head in her hands. "Oh yeah, Aunt Misty will be real proud."

Xavier's a late bloomer, she doesn't begin to control her telepathy until she's almost sixteen.

"I told you I got the name right," John whispers to his wife, not even attempting to hide his self-satisfaction.

"You got it all right," she murmurs back.

They still go on monthly dinners with Bobby and Kitty, dragging along their children whenever they're home from terms at the mansion. Mystique comes over for every Thanksgiving and practices voice imitation with Scott. They alternate between Mississippi and Westchester for Christmas, staying at the mansion with Logan, Storm, and their son, which John thinks will never stop being awkward.

But it works, they make it work.

Every year they celebrate their wedding anniversary at the little pub a few blocks away, drinking beer and whiskey.

Everntually she convinces him once and for all that he is forgiven.

And he never runs away.