AN - Final chapter and its a biggie!! I'm really proud of this chapter and I really hope you enjoy it. Thanks so much to all my readers and reviewers, particularly Blood Red Kiss of Death, abelard and LetMeIn1812 whose regular reviews really inspired me to continue writing this! x

21

"It doesn't matter Chuck! Who cares? I know I don't, what's the point after all these years?" She yelled, storming towards the door of the apartment. He chased her, grabbing her arm and whipping her round to face her, surprised at the tears brimming in her eyes.

"What are you talking about, Blair? It's not our anniversary, that was months ago at graduation time, I should hope you remember the way I took you on a long overdue trip to Tuscany, before gondolas in Venice, the stores in Milan, I even recited Shakespeare in Verona and carved our initials beneath the balcony, what are you so upset about?" He asked, coolly concerned by his girlfriends hysterics. Blair had not met his eyes throughout, but now she slowly raised her eyes to meet his, and he found she gave nothing away with her stoic pupils, her cool stare.

"Nothing. As I said, it doesn't matter. I thought it did, but I was wrong, I was just being stupid, thinking you'd remember something so insignificant. I've left your invite on the counter; I suppose I'll just meet you there." She said, twisting her arm out of his grip before starting to walk away.

"Blair!" he cried, confused, "It's not until tomorrow evening, what do you mean 'you'll meet me there'?"

"Serena needs me tonight, it's getting to her a little that it's just her and Kiki; I said I'd stay, keep them company, travel to the ball together." Blair reeled off flawlessly, beginning to bash things around in the bedroom. Chuck was convinced she'd made it up on the spot; she normally hated spending the night away from the elegant penthouse she shared with him, especially if the alternative was being kept up until the early hours by Kiki's music and antics, particularly the night before a society event. He was frustrated by the deception, but eventually let her go, wondering how to make amends for a wrong that he didn't even know he'd done yet.



"S? S are you here? It's me." Blair called, entering the spacious, bohemian apartment. She slipped off her stilettos and tip-toed into the apartment, knowing what silence usually meant in this particular household. She put her overnight bag and the next evening's garment bag down on the dining table before walking to the doorway in the corner and smiling as she found Serena in the nursery, gently laying her daughter down to sleep. Serena gazed at the three-month old baby with adoration in her eyes before turning to face Blair, looking elated but tired. She put a finger to her lips with a smile before dashing to the doorway in her socked feet, doing a little celebratory arm wave as she bore down on Blair with a grin.

Once they were settled in the comfortable sitting area with the nursery door closed and their feet curled under them, Blair finally broke their comfortable silence.
"So, when is Humphrey back?" She asked, taking a sip of wine. Serena rolled her eyes and checked the date on her day planner on the table.

"Um... day after tomorrow, but that's the last date for his book tour and then there's six months of pure family time!" Serena said, her eyes crinkling with excitement.

"After tomorrow?" Blair asked, shocked, "but he'll miss the ball!"

Serena frowned jokingly at Blair. "Yeah, I'm sure that's really breaking his heart, B... This is Dan we're talking about you know, you've met him, yay high, curly hair..." she began.

Blair rolled her eyes. "He's still all uppity about society stuff? Even after all of his success?"

"Yeah, I mean you know how hard it was for him to even accept living in the village, I think he felt safer with the bridge between him and Manhattan." Serena laughed. "Although his success does have its advantages, him being able to take half a year off work to be with me and Kiki for example. It's so sweet, he coos down the phone to her every night and she's just as bad, she won't settle down until I've put Cedric in her crib." Blair giggled, remembering Dan's favourite doll.

"And is she still experiencing her particular comfort demands?" Blair questioned, a soft smile on her face as she talked about her goddaughter. Serena grimaced.

"Absolutely, nothing can make her stop crying apart from Lincoln Hawk turned up to eleven. Rufus has never been happier, he's offered to come and play live for her but," Serena wrinkled her nose and leaned in conspiratorially, "I think he'd be offended when I covered my ears."

They both laughed loudly before wincing and checking the door in the corner; no noise came from it. They exchanged a relieved glance before settling into their own thoughts. Serena noticed Blair's faraway look.

"Are you ok B? I mean it's cool for you to stay but what's wrong? Did you and Chuck have a fight?" She gently enquired. Blair sighed and put down her glass.

"Yeah but that isn't really it. It's just..." she paused, looking down at her toes with their purple polish, purple just for Chuck, "I wish he noticed the little things more. I mean, they matter, you know? Sometimes more than the huge stuff. I mean declarations of love, macaroons straight from Paris? Of course he remembers those, and so do I, and it was perfect, but it isn't us. Our relationship isn't just coexisting punctuated by grand gestures, and I don't know if he knows that."

Serena frowned "I'm sure he does, B, you're all he ever thinks about. He's still so obsessed with you after all this time, you know that." She said, concerned by her friends melancholy.
"I guess... is it ok if I head to bed a little early? I know Kiki will have me up at six am wanting a rendition of "Moon River" that nobody but Aunt Blair can provide." Blair said, her expression brightening artificially. Serena studied her carefully, accepting that the topic was out of bounds for now.

"Sure, B, I'll see you in the morning."


It was way past midnight by the time Chuck finally made his way into the kitchen, pinching the bridge of his nose with one hand whilst loosening his tie with the other. He turned on the lights and walked over to the freezer; he would need ice in his scotch to help soothe this headache, he thought. His work in his study had been near-pointless; he'd been so preoccupied with thoughts of Blair that he had made practically no progress at all. At one point, earlier in the evening, he had called Nate for advice, completely forgetting the six hours' time difference.

"You are aware it's 2am, Chuck?" Nate had light-heartedly answered the phone. Chuck had sighed and looked at the clock.

"I'm sorry man, my head is everywhere but here. I didn't interrupt you and my little sis did I?" Chuck had said laviciously. Nate laughed, the transatlantic line crackling a little.
"Nah it's cool, I was up anyway. I'm waiting for Jenny to call from her mobile; I'm running the taxi service this evening."

Chuck paused; "Call you from her what, Nathaniel?"

"Her mobile," Nate laughed, "sorry about the Brit lingo, it'll get you after a year. She's staying with me over the weekend but apparently the party tonight was too tempting to miss out on so I said it's cool, I'll collect her when she's done there, but you know college parties..."

"I don't, but I'm sure they're like sophomore Upper East Side parties but with uglier clothes and cheaper hair product." Chuck replied smoothly. "So you must be amassing some serious boyfriend points with the fetching and carrying, is almost time for you birthday BJ?"

"Dude!" Nate cried with a chuckle. "Although I won't deny that if me collecting her in the Jag happens to deter any of her skinny-jeaned classmates that that could be a good thing. Anyway, why did you call?"

"It's just..."

"Blair." They said in unison. Nate laughed again.

"I have no idea why you're calling me; I haven't had a chance in hell of understanding that girl since Ivy Week." Nate said.
Chuck had frozen at Nate's words, remembering what had happened between him and Blair just before Ivy Week. He was sure Blair didn't even remember their over-the-phone encounter, so how could she have told Nate?

"I mean, after your first major scheme together? Out Serena for the drug problem she didn't have? You were under her skin, man, I didn't have a chance."

Chuck smiled fondly at the memory. His conversation with Nate had quickly trailed off after Nate's uselessness had become apparent. Chuck had signed off with a promise that he and Blair would visit during the holidays; feeling a panicked lurch in his stomach as he wondered if she would go, if she would go anywhere with him ever again. He turned to get a glass when he spotted an envelope on the counter, with his invite poking out. He stopped by it to read the details and smiled; after three years and cohabitation Blair still insisted on their being separately invited to all the society events; Blair Waldorf, she would insist, is nobody's plus-one.

Picking up the envelope he realised it was unusually weighty. Tipping it up he watched as a disc of glass no bigger than a coaster slid out and rested heavily in his palm. The glass contained a pressed flower, a yellow rose, delicate and translucent from age. He held it up to the light to admire the petals when he noticed an inscription on the glass; his and Blair's initials interwoven around the number seven in an intricate insignia.

He looked from the disc to the invitation, bewildered, before abruptly leaving the kitchen and grabbing his jacket. He was already in the elevator before he managed to make the call.
"Harrison? I need a favour. No, no, nothing like that; I just need to get something from the vault."


"Kiki, please stop. Please stop for Auntie Blair, she can't find grandpa's CD and she doesn't know the words to any other lame nineties songs." Blair desperately whispered to the whimpering infant, already regretting her offer to watch Kiki while Serena had a leisurely bath. "Um... Moon riverrrr.... no, no! Don't cry louder! Auntie Blair is sorry, I'm sorry!"
She desperately rocked the child, bobbing at the knees and cooing as she looked at Kiki's distressed, tiny face. She tried to rack her brains for anything that Dorota did to comfort her when she was little but came up short for any solutions that were workable on a 3 month old; she suspected that bribes of a new Disney film or the latest Prada flats only worked on children that could hold up their own heads. Exhausted, she shuffled into the guest bedroom and laid the baby in the middle of the goose-down duvet before lying back and curling her body around the little girl. Planting a kiss to her forehead she realised Kiki's cries had become much less frequent whimpers. Smiling, she stroked her goddaughter's dark, fluffy hair. "Now, why don't we tell you a story so you can go to sleepy-bos and Mommy will think Auntie Blair is super-aunt?"

She thought for a moment trying to think of one appropriate. Cinderella, Snow White, even the Little Mermaid, they all focused around some dumb princess who just has everything fall into her lap. Blair frowned. "All those Disney bitches can suck it. I'm going to tell you a fairy story worth hearing."

"Once upon a time there was a princess- no, a future Queen. The future Queen wasn't like the other princesses, with their blond hair and their blue, sparkly eyes. This little girl had dark hair and big brown eyes and, may I say, much more style and taste than her contempories ." Blair shook her head and returned to her soothing story voice, "Normally, princesses and future queens are invited to royal balls on their mommy and daddy's invites, but one day, when the future queen was fourteen, she received her very first invite of her very own, to a party to celebrate the beginning of fall. That party was special, as everybody important and beautiful would be there. The future queen soon realised that being invited to a party as herself, not as somebody's daughter, doesn't mean that they get to stop being that persons daughter, and soon she was exasperated with Queen Eleanor trying to make her dance with a Duke. Can you believe that, Kiki? A measly Duke!"

Kiki looked up at her with wide eyes, gurgling softly, all evidence of her earlier tears gone. Blair snuggled around her closer. "But our future queen wouldn't settle for a Duke, would she? She decided she would find somebody worthy of her time, her equal, somebody who could be her ally. Looking across the room she saw a prince, the most handsome prince she had ever seen, whom she politely asked to dance. They had barely begun their dance when the future queen realised that she wasn't dancing with a prince; she was dancing with a future king, a powerful man who could help her with all of her royal deeds. They became firm friends, always the first one to help the other, always the one who knew exactly who to bring down and how." Blair smirked before continuing with the next part of the story with a more melancholy tone.

"One day, the future king and queen were dancing together on a glittering evening with snow and magic in the air, gazing into one another's eyes and just wanting to be with one another. However, there were evil forces at work, and the future king had to take on King Bass' role, as his father had gone away. The future queen tried to help the new King Bass but he was scared, scared to be alone, scared to hurt her like he was hurting, so he pushed her away. The future queen was scared she had lost him forever, that they were ruined, but eventually her King came back to her and..." She looked down at the now sleeping baby, tears brimming in her eyes.

"... lived happily ever after?" A male voice sounded from the doorway. Blair's head snapped up and she fiercely brushed at her eyes as she looked at him.

"Hey, Eric. Yeah, I guess that's how the story should go." She said softly to him. He walked over and sat on the edge of the bed, gazing down at his niece for a moment before meeting Blair's eyes.

"Should... is there something I should know?" Eric asked.

"It's nothing. I just, I guess I think that maybe happily ever after is maybe not the ending for those two... maybe the King and Queen should just enjoy their happy-for-now and not think about the future." She said, dejected. Eric looked at her like she was crazy.

"I'm sorry, I thought you were Blair Waldorf, but you can't be, do forgive my intrusion." He joked. She smiled, her eyes still watery.

"I am, it's just this dumb fight made me think about everything we've been through together, sometimes I worry Chuck just doesn't care, it's like he doesn't think it counts for anything." She said. Eric looked at her incredulously.

"Are you crazy? Blair, if there is one thing I know about Chuck it's how he feels about you, how he's never felt about anyone or anything ever before. It consumes him. And maybe... maybe you need to stop living in your past, if you ever want to be able to move onto your future." He commented. Blair regarded him seriously for a second before smiling widely at him.
"Eric Van der Woodsen, when did you get so wise?" She lilted. He smiled back.

"I may have been spending too much of my summer at home with Rufus."

---

Blair moved around the perimeter of the busy ballroom, plucking at the flower arrangements adorning the pillars as she went. She sulked a little as she leant briefly against a pillar, looking at all the young girls with their excited eyes before continuing her orbit of the dancing throng, eventually coming to a halt beside a fragrant bouquet of mixed roses and tulips. She was just about to disregard it as gaudy before she realised it looked oddly familiar. Smiling, she reached up to pull a yellow bloom from the vase, noting with relief that the stem has been de-thorned. She raised the flower to her nose to breathe in the delicate scent as she looked down at her palm, arching it in the light so the tiny scars stuck out against her porcelain skin. She allowed herself a moment of childish nostalgia before becoming cross with herself and clutching the rose tightly in her right hand, thinking of the only hand that bore the matching scars that hadn't arrived yet; may not ever arrive, with his hectic schedule and general disinterest.

She looked up at the floral arrangement again, smoothing down the full skirt of her buttery yellow, silk halter-neck dress, feeling stupid that she had chosen to wear yellow to appease him when he probably wouldn't even come. He had hated these events seven years ago, there's no reason he would have changed. She sighed and reached up to put the flower back in the bouquet when her wrist was caught in a hand, a hand connected to an arm wearing a suit in a shade of purple that only one man could pull off. She closed her eyes as he brought her hand across her body and to rest on her opposite shoulder. He placed a gentle kiss on her fingers which still clutched the stem of the rose before murmuring into her ear; "You have to dance with me, now."

She spun in his arms, looking into his eyes with tears brimming in her own. They smiled at one another as they held one another properly, paused for a beat and, in a glorious echo of their first meeting, began to move around the floor in an elegant waltz. They gazed into one another's eyes and, this time, Chuck noticed nothing of the gossip and chatter surrounding them. He didn't hear "Doesn't Eleanor's daughter look elegant?" nor did he catch furrowed brows focused on him. He didn't even have the fortune to catch "Youngest billionaire in Manhattan. His father left him the business but the stock has more than doubled in the past three years." Or even "I dread to think how gorgeous their children will be." He was too focused on Blair, his Queen, his everything.

"Chuck I..." she began, looking into his eyes, "I'm so sorry. You never forget my birthday, our anniversary, any arrangement we have. I need to stop focusing on all of the movie-star moments that I have in my head; they don't make us who we are, they don't make our relationship what it is, we do that. It's us. I love you, that's all you need to know, you don't need to know how I had my hair at some party, or what song we danced to or-"

"One hundred and sixty four." He interrupted, whispering close into her ear. She paused, taken off her guard.

"One hundred and... What are you talking about?" She asked in an urgent whisper.

"One hundred and sixty four yellow roses." He said evenly, gazing intently into her eyes as they danced. "Forty eight waiting for you in our hotel in Tuscany, so long overdue. Seven doodled in highlighter on the back of the realtor's report that you accidentally took to your first class of your senior year at college. The petals of twenty nine scattered in a trail from the door to the bed on the first night that we slept in our apartment. Eight silk ones stitched to your headband on the last day of summer before you started NYU, we had a picnic on your bedroom floor at your mothers; it had rained all day. A dozen when I met you off the jitney, but instead you kissed the Lord. Twenty two in the centre piece at your mother's dinner party when Serena came home and you feared you would lose everything. Thirty seven printed on the dress you wore the day I found you in Central Park, wondering when everything had gone so wrong. And one. One yellow rose on the day you came into my life and changed it forever." He leaned down and gently kissed her neck, the place where he had licked a trickle of blood from seven years ago to the day.

Blair smiled over his shoulder, he eyes closed in perfect bliss. "You remembered all that?" she whispered into his ear.

"I remembered." He promised, holding her tight and beginning to sway her slowly to the music. She hadn't even realised they had stopped dancing until that moment. "There's so many more Blair, a million and one different moments when I've loved you and I remember them all. Without you I wouldn't have anything to wake up for in the morning, I would have given up years ago. So I'm sorry I didn't remember that this was the seventh anniversary of our meeting, but that doesn't mean I don't care, it doesn't mean it doesn't matter, it doesn't mean I don't love you. Because I do. I love you Blair Waldorf, I will love you forever."

A single tear of joy, pure and hot, slid from her eye as she leant up to look at Chuck's face, smiling widely, before bringing her mouth to his in a scorching kiss. They stopped swaying on the dance floor and only held each other, clinging to one another like the last crumbling bit of rock that keeps you on the cliff. Blair's hands moved from Chuck's shoulders and into his hair, gripping the curls at the back of his neck where his hair was a little overdue a cut. She tugged affectionately, smiling onto his lips and around his tongue. Chuck pulled her to him tighter at the waist, never wanting to let go, when they were interrupted by the sound of applause.

They broke apart, dizzy from the kiss, at the sound of clapping. Blair panicked a little, thinking the movie in her head had spilt out into real life, which would surely suggest some form of schizophrenia. Instead they found the world continued but the band did not. Nobody clapped for the kissing couple on the edge of the dance floor, only for the band taking their bows before supper coffees were served.

"So, Bass," Blair said, kissing him quickly and chastely on the lips, "you want to get out of here? Because judging by what's digging into my hip I don't need coffee to keep me up all night." She wiggled her eyebrows saucily and bit her lip a little as she glanced between them at the bulge protruding from Chuck's pants. When she looked back into his face the cheeky grin fell from her face as she noticed something wasn't quite right about his.

"Chuck Bass... are you blushing??" she asked, shocked by the unfamiliar flush that graced his cheeks. The great Chuck Bass, blushing at a society event at being caught with his trousers on.

"What? No, you forget who you're talking to." He scoffed.

"So do you, I know you too well and I know a blush when I see one. Since when are you all embarrassed about what's in your pants?" She asked, her curiosity building. She slithered her hand between them to try and caress his erection but found her hand stilled by his.

"Blair... don't," he murmured silkily to her, "you'll only spoil it." She tried to tug her hand from his, hurt and frustrated by his evasion.

"What are you talking about? I intend no harm to your pants or those who sail in them." She bitterly rebuked. She crossed her arms and began to step away from him, but not before his hand had darted back around her waist, his palm coming to rest firmly on the small of her back, while he brought the other to the nape of her neck.

"I wanted it to be special. Everything is ready in the apartment. It's a ring Blair, I was going to give you your perfect proposal." He told her, submitting defeat. He expected beaming delight or, more likely, fury at him ruining the surprise for her, he was not prepared for the bubble of laughter that she let out, tipping her head back and into his hand's gentle cradled as she laughed. Chuck glanced around a little awkwardly as the socialites glanced at them, the usually composed Blair Waldorf practically hanging in his embrace laughing loudly and alone.

She brought her head back up to face him with a beaming grin on her face. She wrapped her arm around his neck like a sailor would a whore and brought him close in a smacking kiss.
"Chuck, I don't need the fairy tale, I just need you, so say those six words, twenty seven letters and give it to me." She grinned as she released his lips. He stared, shocked at her actions for a moment before grinning back.

"Blair Waldorf, will you marry me?" he asked, his eyes sparkling as he slipped the box from his pocket and popped it open to reveal the three carats of yellow diamond flanked by two generous clear stones on a fine gold band.

"How could I refuse?" she beamed, accepting the ring he slid onto her finger. He kissed her lips firmly before lifting her in his arms, bride style. The socialites gasped at the display and began to murmur as Chuck began to walk towards the heavy doors with his fiancée in his arms.

"Now, formalities attended to, let's go home where I can oblige your request to 'give it to you' until you beg me to stop," he smirked, "I missed you last night."


AN- Hope that was good enough for you abelard ;) Please review! Esp if you'd be interested in a sequel of any kind... x