Chapter 24 of In Love & War

The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.

Author: Isabelle

Summary: Post 1.13. Chuck Bass left New York after he lost Blair and Nate in one day. Years later, a deep economic crisis has left the world broke, and the only family in the UES with money left is the Bass family and its sole heir: Chuck Bass. Eleanor convinces Blair to marry Chuck for his money, but all the feelings Blair left buried a long time ago start to surface when she realizes he's not the man she thought he was. CB. NV.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, not Gossip Girl, not any quotes/lyrics used.

Rating: PG-15

SPECIAL NOTE: I apologize for not being able to respond to feedback last chapter, this week has been crazier than ever at work and I didn't have the chance to reply back. I really truly appreciate all the feedback and if you're left with any questions by the conclusion of the series, feel free to send me a review or a message and I will answer any questions you may have. Thank you!

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"Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up."
James A. Baldwin

"I'm fine, I'm fine – don't fuss over me, really –" She swatted Dorota's hands away. Now there were five people nervously looking at her. Thank God her mother was cooing at Melanie and showing her different things in the room. She couldn't handle Eleanor also on top of her.

Before her stood Dorota, Kevin, Jacob, Jefferson, and even Polly, who was now holding Ruby against her chest, rocking her back and forth.

Ruby had not stopped crying since Blair had found her huddled in the back of Jonas' cottage. Blair had galloped all the way home to find the village half burned down and destroyed. She had made it back to the house and, with the help of Jonas, had taken the people out of the home and into the large house was serving as a makeshift shelter for the villagers.

Everyone was concerned because she did have bruises all over her pale skin from that man's attempted attack. But she was fine. All she could see was Clara's haunted eyes and her words hitting her over and over. She didn't know if she should be grateful the girl or hating her – she wasn't sure. She just wanted to sleep. She was so very tired.

"Don't crowd her –"Jacob told Dorota.

"I not crowd!" Dorota turned in a huff, and Jacob blanched, quickly going after her.

"Mom, give me the baby –" Blair said from her bed, and Eleanor walked softly to her and looked down at Blair.

"You need to comb your hair, darling," Eleanor raised a brow at her, and Blair rolled her eyes. The moment Melanie saw her; she stretched out her small arms and whimpered for Blair. Blair quickly took her, holding her baby to her chest and letting herself be soothed by the presence. She'd been so scared for a moment that Melanie would lose her, too; leaving her truly alone if Chuck never came back.

Chuck.

She didn't know how much longer she could take his absence. It was making her slowly shrivel up and die.

"I want some sleep – Jefferson and Jacob, make sure all the villagers are fed and the house is warm enough." They nodded. "Tomorrow we'll start preparations for new security measures – until then, let me sleep."

Polly nodded and left the room with Ruby and Jefferson.

"I'll stand watch –" Kevin offered.

"Oh please, no – not necessary," she told him, rocking her baby back and forth. "I'm fine, really I am."

"I take child," Dorota offered, and Blair shook her head.

"No, no, we'll be fine," she nodded.

Dorota looked beyond concerned and insisted on drawing up a bath of warm water before leaving. Blair looked at it gratefully. When everyone had finally left her room, she undressed herself and Melanie and they both sunk into the water.

Blair closed her eyes as Melanie happily played for a while with the water, splashing and throwing it up all over the place, but then she tired of it and rested her head on Blair's chest. Blair looked down at her and found her asleep against her breast, and she softly kissed her head.

"Daddy will be home soon…" She whispered, and that was when she allowed herself to cry. There in the tub, filled with water, with her baby resting on her chest. She didn't realize how much she had wished for Chuck to rush in and save her that day. She wanted it to be him with the gun; she had wanted him to come back to save her.

But it had not been him, but the twisted girl that had taken him away from her.

She didn't know what to think, what to feel, how to act – she just wanted Chuck back. Her Chuck back and no one else. Once she was done crying, she got up, dried Melanie up as best she could, and lowered her into her crib. She dressed in her thick, warm pajamas and sunk into her sheets, after making sure the candle by the window of her room was lit.

The night was restless and cold; she heard the wind outside of her window, waking her and making her pace. She woke more times than Melanie did, and she still couldn't shake the horrible, restless feeling from her bones.

She kept telling herself that it was because she was still jumpy from the attack. That this was normal. When six o'clock finally struck, she added her thick coat over her pajamas and wandered downstairs to find some food. She realized she hadn't eaten. She had just settled Melanie to sleep, so she knew she had a couple of hours to herself. This pleased her. She needed them very badly.

Blair ignored speculative glances from the kitchen staff. The poor ladies were slaving away to prepared food for the entire village, so she slunk off and got some coffee and some fresh baked biscuits and fruits, then decided to go share her breakfast with Hera.

It was cold outside, but once she made it to the stables she felt warm and cozy. Hera perked up when she saw her, her tail flicking happily. Blair sat by her in the small bench and offered her a couple of apples, which the horse took happily.

Chuck's black Arabian huffed and walked to her also, and she nodded, also handing him an apple. She watched as Hera nudged the other horse with her nose. Blair smiled. She sipped her coffee as the horses stole her biscuits, and that was when a noise startled her.

She sat up and the horses instantly noticed her distress. She stood up.

"Mr. Grant?" She asked into the darkness. "I'm here – I'm just checking in on…"

She walked out, but no one was there.

She swallowed.

She had no weapon, and she never thought someone might still be in the village. Jonas commanding what was left of security had made her feel much better, but still…

She placed her coffee on the floor and looked around, spotting a large pinch fork propped up against the frame of Hera's door and hefting it up, her arms trembling against the weight. She brandished it before her threateningly.

Her breathing was ragged and her legs were shaking. How many attacks would she have to ward off before she would be safe? She had just begun to feel safe since the event the day before and here she was, once again, about to defend herself.

She carefully walked towards the spot where she heard the noise, still holding tight onto the sharp pitchfork, and then she heard it again! She twirled around and gasped.

The fork instantly dropped from her hand, and she stood there, completely numb.

There he was. Him. The one. The one she loved.

He was dressed all in black, lacking a few days' shave, but looking sexy as ever with dark eyes and a thick coat. He looked lighter, like he hadn't eaten well, like he'd hungered for something. And he was alone. No Nathaniel. None.

"There's something I need to tell you before we say anything else…." He said in low and dark voice. She gulped and nodded for him to begin. "It's not that you couldn't save me," he said softly, his eyes never leaving hers. "It's that I had to save myself."

Her eyes swelled with tears, tears she hadn't realized she had been holding.

"It's not that I needed you to forgive me…" he continued. "It's that I needed to forgive myself."

She nodded, pressing her lips together, making them pale.

"And… It's not that I don't love you…" he whispered, walking slightly closer. "It's that I love you too damn much."

Her breath left her body. He was suddenly before her, wrapping her up, wrapping her in his arms, and she let out a strangled sob because she'd waited so long for him, so very long.

She hadn't realized she'd been waiting for him to truly come back to her since they were seventeen in that bar on that fateful night. She's wanted him to come back to her, for her, for them. She had wanted it – in the very back of her mind, she had wanted it because only he awoke in her the passionate creature that had laid dormant for so many years.

"You came back!" She said harshly against his neck, holding him closer. Her feet lifted off the ground and he kissed her head. "You came back to me…" she whispered, threading her fingers into his soft hair.

He pushed her hair back, looking at her, setting her down on the floor once more, his heart bursting. He felt alive once more, like all the moments away from her he'd been in both a physical and emotional desert. Drowning, dying. She was his everything; she was his oasis – his sole reason for staying away from New York. The beginning and the end to all of his sorrows. All wrapped in one little package.

"I would've always come back to you…" he kissed her temple. "No matter what lifetime… I always, always will find my way back to you…"

She took his face in her hands, and she kissed him, their lips meeting hungrily after months and months of severance and hibernation. Oh… She loved this man. She loved him, at his darkest, his brightest – she loved him. Because he was her perfect match. He was her counterpart. The words she said, he knew, the thoughts she had, he had them, too. The love she felt – he shared. This was it – this was what life had meant for her since the moment of her conception, and she felt found and complete. All her life, every step she had taken led to this moment. The moment of their reunion, the moment of their beginning. To truly start: no games, no complications, no shadows.

He was hers and she was his. They belonged to each other.

Before she knew it, the passion and pent up emotions inside of each pulled at them, demanding release. He picked her up and took her into an empty stall. Her small hands were all over him, tugging at his coat, demanding to touch his skin. The memories of the attack drifted completely out of her mind because he was saving her, in more ways than one. Their eager hands tugged at extra clothing and their lips bruised one another as they hungrily devoured and conquered what was already theirs.

His hands on her skin, her hands on his. He was cool, she was warm, and they melted together, soothing both the heat and the cold. And before she had time to think about what was happening, he swiftly entered her, wild and passionate and excruciatingly delicious, erotic and orgasmic. Her head fell back, a loud sigh escaping her lips as he happily nibbled at her neck.

"All I could think about was you, coming home to you," her lover confessed against her skin, sighing against her, loving her.

"I was so scared…" she slurred out, as he filled her over and over.

Their eyes were locked and there, by the light of a barnyard bulb, they reunited. She lost track of how fast it happened, but before she could truly comprehend what was happening, he laid her back against a pile of hay and stretched out beside her, covering their shivering bodies with his thick coat. She held onto him, their cold feet pressing against each other. Her head was tucked into his neck and her hands held onto his shoulder and hand.

He traced the curve of her body, from the top of her hips to the side of her breast, pausing to knead her skin until she hissed. He looked down at her, confused, and that was when he finally noticed her bruises.

His eyes darkened. "Did I do this?" He demanded.

She shook her heard, touching his neck. "No… Those are from yesterday…" she whispered. "The village was attacked and… So was I, but I was saved before anything could happen."

He tried to sit up, and she could instantly tell this bothered him.

"Who attacked you?" He snapped.

"Chuck – nothing happened. Clara killed him… He's dead." She met his eyes, nodding in encouragement.

"Did he try…" The words felt thick in his mouth because the thought of a man forcing himself on her made him want to vomit, just seeing her crying and struggling. He couldn't shake off the image if he wanted to.

She took his face in her hands and made him look at her, her eyes meeting his.

"Remember what you said," she said softly, and he looked at her, perplexed. "You said… You said to fight like a lioness… And I did just that, and now I'm fine."

He gulped, and she kissed his temple. He slowly relaxed in her arms. They held each other, as Hera and the Arabian whined softly next to them. Both in love, like Ruby had once said.

"Nathaniel's dead…" he finally whispered. "I had some of my men meet me at the port, and they're bringing him back…"

"To lay by Vanessa?" She asked softly.

He stared at her and nodded.

"He asked something of me…" he gulped.

"Chuck… She's already yours…" Blair whispered.

His eyes glazed over ever so slightly, and she kissed his lips tenderly.

"C'mon…" she said, tugging at him. "Come meet your daughter."

And with that they redressed and conspicuously made their way back into the house, past the kitchen staff ardently working on getting enough food for the village, their hands clasped to one another as they finally made it back to their room. She motioned for him to be quiet and he silently let her lead him to the connecting room, his brows raising when he saw the doors were missing.

"What happened to my little hallway? I was rather fond of it," he whispered to her, and she smirked at him, shoving him slightly as he chuckled. And then there was an explosion of yellows and pinks. He blinked, almost not recognizing the old room where they had spent their first night as newlyweds.

In the middle of the room lay a mahogany crib with yellow and pink blankets, emanating a soft noise. He was intrigued. She guided him until both of them were peering at the sleeping baby.

Melanie was on her stomach, her little butt sticking up in the air slightly and her tiny hands delicately tucked under her head. She had long lashes, pink cheeks, and a tuff of brown hair with a slight bow on it. Yes, Chuck had seen her when born, but he'd been so very distraught and focused that he hadn't allowed himself to get attached to the child. Plus, she belonged to Nate… But now Nate was gone and had left his best friend in charge of his daughter.

There she was, his little princess, dressed in pink with a yellow blanked covering half of her body. She mewled softly in her sleep and, for some inexplicable reason; Chuck couldn't stop looking at her. After all the harshness he had seen, he'd traveled a thousand miles to find something as innocent and beautiful as this. It was strange. Like they both couldn't belong in the same world. Like she belonged somewhere else.

"Do you want to hold her?" Blair asked him quietly, and he quickly shook his head.

"Don't wake her," he whispered, but Blair bristled.

"If I don't wake her now, she won't nap until late and it'll mess up her clock…" Blair said. So she reached in and woke her gently, slowly picking her up.

"Grab her blanket," she instructed Chuck, and he quickly complied, not really knowing what to do.

Melanie blinked and whimpered softly, but relaxed when she spotted Blair.

"It's ok, baby…" Blair whispered to her and held her against her chest. The baby turned her head and spotted Chuck with wide blue-green eyes. "Drape it over her," Blair told him, and he nodded, softly placing the blanket around the baby as Blair rocked her slightly.

Melanie yawned widely and pushed herself off Blair, staring at Chuck. She babbled at him, and Blair smiled.

"She's saying hello."

Chuck was still speechless as the baby continued studying him. Then she scrunched up her little face and his eyes widened.

"Uhmmm…" he pointed at her features.

Blair nodded. "Sit down." She motioned to a rocking chair which Chuck stared at, confused as to where it had come from. "One of the villagers made it for me. He was very kind." She explained as he took a seat. She then leaned over him and handed him the baby despite his look of protest. Melanie then began to cry, and Chuck stared at the child in alarm. Blair quickly moved around the room, found the customary bottle, and brought it to Chuck.

"She's hungry," Blair motioned and handed it to him. She stood behind him and guided him with her hands. The moment Melanie saw the bottle; she whimpered and reached for it, her mouth latching on to it with the ferocity of a starved soldier.

Chuck gulped, and the baby relaxed in his arms and stared at him as he fed her.

"There…" Blair whispered, kissing his head and smiling over his shoulder. "Relax…"

His shoulders sagged slightly as the baby grasped onto her bottle, never taking her eyes off him.

"She's got a good appetite… She didn't have an appetite in the beginning. She scared us all for a bit, but she's a fighter and she pulled through," Blair told him. Unconsciously, he began to rock her back and forth, and the baby started drooping her eyes, relaxing into him.

Blair walked around and smiled at him. "She'll get used to you…"

Chuck finally stopped looking at the baby and stared at her. "I never thought I'd do this."

Blair nodded. "Neither did I."

He gulped. "Blair…"

"We'll care for her, Chuck… Like she's our own," Blair told him.

"As you wish," he nodded.

Jacob never expected to find Chuck rocking the baby or feeding her when he entered the nursery with Dorota behind him. Usually they took the baby to give Blair a few more hours of sleep, but they never expected his.

More unexpectedly, when Blair took Melanie from Chuck's arms, Dorota threw herself at Chuck and hugged him, crying.

Chuck looked alarmed.

Jacob looked amused.

Blair looked confused.

Dorota, of course, extracted herself from Chuck and quickly left with an apology as Jacob scurried after her.

"Are they…?" Chuck tried to comprehend what was happening.

"Yes, they have conjugal visits," Blair smirked, bouncing a happy and awake Melanie on her hip.

"Oh…"

She walked to him until he turned to look at the two girls. Blair's face was fresh and happy, and Melanie was half eating her hand and half smiling at him.

There they were. These were his girls. His girls to take care of. He'd always been destined to do this and this was where life had taken him.

He gulped and pressed his lips against Blair's forehead. They were relaxed until Melanie found his hair and tugged it harshly with a wide smile on her face.

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When Nate's body arrived, they held a small ceremony by the hill and lowered the casket into the spot next to Vanessa. Chuck had a stone made with both of their names, and Blair had a sappy love message inscribed under it. He pointed out the message had not been his idea.

It took Chuck months to be able to finally relax into the home he had once known. He had tracked down his estranged siblings and had made sure they were taken care of. They hardly spoke and, as the war ragged on, it was nearly impossible to get back to the states.

Finally one day, while Chuck worked over his papers and Blair instructed Jefferson on some of the food distribution, Melanie, who had taken her first baby steps, pulled herself up and placed her little hands on Chuck's knee.

"Dada…" she said clearly.

Everyone stopped what they were doing. Chuck blinked and stared down at her. Her eyes were wide as ever, her features delicate and soft, and her hair was now a mass of curls colored light brown.

"Dada," she repeated again, patting his knee with her hand.

"Oh, my God!" Blair screeched, startling the baby. Chuck had fallen in to a trance, realizing that, after months of caring for the baby, she was truly his. In her eyes, he'd be the only father she would ever know.

The baby got picked up and twirled and kissed as everyone made a whole happy mess of her first word.

That night, the baby fell asleep between them and they stared at her, transfixed.

"What are you going to do when she starts attracting boys?" Blair teased him. His eyes darkened as he stared at Blair.

"We're turning catholic," he replied.

"And you're going to put her in a nunnery?" She asked, smirk still in place.

"So we agree?" He asked, hopeful.

"You poor baby…" Blair shook her head, telling Melanie of the woes she would have growing up.

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Thirteen Years Later

She sat on the rock that overlooked the ocean, her dark hair dancing in the chilly autumn wind. She didn't know what to think. She just didn't. But then again, her young mind couldn't really understand all the events that had led her to this moment.

She felt him jog up the hill to find her there. She turned and saw the mop of blond hair as he tossed it back. He was tall and gangly and not sure of what to do with his body just yet.

"How long are you going to hide?" He demanded. Though he was a year younger than her, he was her very best friend. He read her like a book, and she hated it. She sniffed and turned back to the wind.

"You can't be mad at them," he demanded, and she shifted.

"Of course I'm not mad!" She snapped.

"Oh, c'mon, Mel…" He sat on the rock next to her, his taller frame looming over her. He nudged her with his shoulder, and she sighed.

"I just wish… I wish I knew what they looked like…" she said softly, playing with the orange leaf in her hand.

He shrugged. "Just look at yourself in the mirror."

She glanced at him and sighed. "I suppose you're right."

Little feet were heard in the distance, and they both groaned. A dark head popped up with equally dark eyes, long hair in curls with a perfect bow on her head. Her pale skin shined in the sun, and Mel saw a miniature version of her mother, one she had never seen in her own self.

"Mel! Paul!" The little voice cried and made its way up the little hill to face them on the rock. Her chest was rising and falling and her cheeks were flushed.

"Mom said I should give you space, but I wanted to know, Mel…" she inquired with dark inquisitive eyes. "Are you mad at me, Mel?"

A strong sense of guilt erupted from Mel's chest, and she looked down at her little sister. She'd seen her as a baby and now at seven, she was as pretty as she'd ever been.

"No, Eve. I'm not mad…" Mel said softly.

Evelyn nodded and tried to get up the rock, her little feet struggling to make it up with the big kids. Paul finally gave in and leaned over, pulling her up, making her squeak as her skirt flew up in the wind.

Evelyn huffed in true Bass fashion and settled herself between the two.

Mel went back to looking over the sea, and Eve, sensing sadness, leaned her head on her big sister's shoulder and kept it there.

"We're still sisters, right?" She asked quietly.

Mel looked down at her chocolate eyes and nodded, tucking a thick curl behind her small, pale ear.

"Sure, kid."

Eve smiled brightly. "Then why are you sad? Aren't you excited for the wedding tonight?" She asked, her little voice chirping like a bird.

"Yes…" Melanie shrugged.

"Then c'mon!" Eve tugged at her. "Mrs. Gilbert wants to check your dress."

Melanie sighed, and the two of them followed the demanding child down the hill and back to the house.

"Mommy!" Eve cried as she raced up the steps, nearly colliding into old Jefferson. "Mommy! I found Mel, and she says she's not upset with me!"

She cried as loud as she could while Paul snickered behind Mel, and she threw him a glare.

Blair emerged from the kitchen, in an impeccably casual dress, her hair pulled back into a pony tail as she stared at her youngest making a racket.

"Evelyn, why are you shouting?" She asked a breathless Eve.

Eve pointed her small finger to Mel, who lounged by the doorframe. "But, Mommy, Mel's not upset with me—"

"Keep your voice down!" Blair hissed, shaking her head at the mess her hair had become from the moment she last saw her. She bent down to kiss her. "Go find Dorota and have her fix your hair," she pushed her on. Evelyn, after pouting for a moment (and nearly stomping her foot), ran the other way, her feet intent on finding her nana.

Blair stared at Melanie, and then glanced at Paul.

"Paul, darling – why don't you let your mom know that Melanie will be right up for her dress fitting?" Blair instructed the young boy, who sulked slightly and then nodded. Melanie sighed and stared up at her mom.

"Look…" Blair explained softly. "I know I might have not carried you for nine months like I did with Evelyn, but… You're still mine…"

Melanie felt a harsh tug in her heart and, without thinking twice, embraced her mom. Blair quickly wrapped her arms around her, holding her head like she used to do as a baby and kissed her.

"I love you, Mom," Melanie said softly against her mother's familiar embrace. Blair swallowed and nodded, pushing back to look at her.

"I love you more, trust me…" she smiled at her and took a breath.

"I'm sorry about all the things I said… I was just confused and angry…" Melanie explained, her wide eyes begging for forgiveness.

Blair nodded, smiling at her. "I know, baby… I know."

Melanie gulped.

"Go find your father. He's been depressed for a while now…" she said, smiling down at her. Melanie nodded and headed to the place she knew she would find him. The stables.

He was instructing Mr. Grant, their elderly stable hand, on some changes he wanted made when she walked in casually. Mr. Grant spotted her and winked. She'd grown up learning stories about fairies and leprechauns from the man.

"Miss. Melanie," he tipped his hat and left. Her father turned to her slowly and stared.

She dared to look in his dark eyes, and when they stared at one another, she felt the horrible lump in her throat return. She dashed forward and hugged him. His arms went quickly around her, rocking her slightly.

"I'm sorry, Daddy – I didn't mean anything I said. You know I love you, Daddy!" She whimpered, and he kissed her head.

"I know, baby…"

"You're not mad?" She asked, her wide eyes staring at him. "You're not mad? Not even a bit?"

"Look…" His jaw tightened slightly. "Your mom and I… We never thought we'd have children… You coming along was a sadness at first, because of the circumstances… But then we loved you more than anything, and we never thought another would ever come… When Evelyn was born, we didn't expect her. For us, you were it," he said slowly, using that deep voice that had soothed her as a child.

She held on tighter.

"So don't ever think that we didn't want you or didn't love you… Once you started staring at people with those eyes of yours, we couldn't help but love you," he assured her.

She smiled at him, her dimples forming in her cheeks, and he smiled back at her.

"Did you talk to your mom? She's been depressed for a while now…" he wondered aloud, and Melanie smirked. She may not be their blood but she was theirs, and growing up knowing her parents taught her a lot about them. They hated being vulnerable, but if they were going to be vulnerable it would be around each other. They always thought they were slick, but she saw right through them. She and Eve had learned the ropes quickly.

"I will… But first I have to try on my dress. Why aren't you getting ready?" She inquired.

"I'm pretending she's not getting married," he nodded.

Melanie laughed. Her father was so silly and possessive at times.

"But daddy – she's like twenty-three!" She said as they walked to the front of the stables.

"Entirely too young," he said darkly.

"Wasn't mom that age when you married her?" She asked.

"I can't remember," he lied, and she smirked.

"Liar." She poked his ribs. "Besides, Ruby is completely in love."

"I don't like him," he complained, but at that moment the tall and gangly son of Gilbert bounced out the house and found them. He instantly saw how Melanie's eyes lit up and how they stared at one another. He glared at the boy.

"Mr. Bass." Paul spared him a nod. "Mom's ready, Mel – she's waiting for you."

"Ok," she smiled brightly at Paul and extracted herself from her father's arms, following the young boy.

Chuck's eyes narrowed as he watched them, chatting and smirking.

He had to find Blair. He had to find her now.

"We need to talk," he slid in behind her as she orchestrated a flower arrangement past the foyer.

"Now?" She demanded, sparing him a glance. He looked needy, so she agreed and followed him to his study, where he locked the door behind them and stared at her darkly. She arched a brow.

"I don't like this Paul kid…" he began.

Blair smiled instantly, understanding what was happening.

"I mean, she's only fourteen –"

"Two years younger than when you deflowered me?" she inquired, making him burst with bottled up stress.

"Why do you have to bring that up!" He snapped. "It was different back then!"

"What do you think will happen when we take them back to New York next month for the first time? She's stunning, and she will get attention from every eligible, well-bred boy –"

"Why didn't we ever convert to Catholicism?" He demanded.

"Because you can't stop them from growing up?" She offered, walking to him and fixing his shirt, which was a mess. Obviously his Mel had tugged at it.

He placed his hands on her hips. "God's punishing me, I know it."

She smiled, with slick eyes. "Is that so?"

"Yes," he replied. "I'm surrounded by girls, and they're all… blossoming."

"So I suppose the combination of Ruby getting married, one of your daughters flirting, and the littlest one three years away from really noticing boys is bothering you?" She smirked.

"Eve is a baby! Why do you want to grow them up so quickly?" He demanded.

"I'm just teasing you, Bass." She pushed her body against his, wrapping her arms around his neck and nibbling his ear. He attempted not to let it affect him at first, but the minx was entirely too good at what she did.

"Hummm…" he moaned, grasping her hips tighter.

"Nice?" She murmured.

"Yes…" he hissed.

"So, I told Ruby they could use Melanie's old room for their wedding night – I thought it was fitting since –"

"No," he spat. "Absolutely not!"

"Miss Blair?" Dorota popped her head in, not abashed at finding them in that condition; she'd been finding them like that since they were seventeen. "Miss Ruby room ready."

"Thank you, Dorota –"

"No! Dorota, you take everything out –"

Blair stepped on his foot and smiled at Dorota. "That will be all."

"This is my house, too, you know. I'm the man of this house," he protested. She simply smiled indulgently.

"Yes, M'lord…" And she smiled into his mouth.

He let her kiss him, because what was he going to do? He had, after all, dragged her across the ocean, brought her here to make her his wife, to save her. But the truth was that she had saved him. Saved him from his dark soul and made the world better for him. She had given him a family when he had none, she had given him hope and life and a possibility past all the horridness that their life had had the chance of becoming. Sure, they'd secluded themselves away from the world, but his family had been safe like he had intended them to be.

They called it the fifty-dollar effect. He never did tell her all the things she did and went through while he had been away from her. It wasn't that he kept them from her; it was that she loved him unconditionally, despite his darkest thoughts. She stood by him, and that made all the difference.

He'd become better because of her and, in turn, he'd seen her bloom into a special sort of perfection right before his eyes.

They may have not been basking in the lavish lifestyle of the Upper East Side, but they were still them. They were still Chuck and Blair, Blair and Chuck, and they were still in love.

Plus, it gave him leverage, all his little secrets. He knew she hid them, too. It made it exciting, using their little ammunition every so often. It kept things interesting. Like he hadn't informed her that Serena was finally going to come overseas next week. It was a surprise. She would try to physically hurt him at first but then run around excitedly.

It was those little things that made it worth while.

Plus, after all… All's fair in love and war.

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The End

A/N – I want to first of all thank Tati, my BETA who somehow keeps up with me and does a fantastic job, always. Then I want to thank everyone who took time out to let me know how much they enjoyed the story, I truly didn't expect so many people to enjoy it so it makes all the late nights of writing completely worth it. And of course we have to give props to our characters, Chuck & Blair, which without them we wouldn't have a story to begin with! Thank you once more, you all have been amazing! - Isabelle