"Of course she looks exquisite. The dress if from Italy - have you seen the detail on the back? Turn around, Blair, let them see." Blair turned obediently at her mother's command, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. The other guests oohed and aahed accordingly, and Blair felt increasingly like an ornament on display. But then she always did with her mother.

"It was such a beautiful wedding, Eleanor," one of them smarmed, and Eleanor allowed herself a satisfied smile.

"And such a handsome couple!"

Blair smiled sweetly, concealing her irritation at their incessant fawning. Not that she would ever begrudge compliments, but they should at least be properly given. Preferably not aimed at her mother, who was standing there taking credit for them like it was all her doing.

"A perfect match," Eleanor agreed smugly. "As if we would settle for anything less."

Good God, mother. Blair bit her lip in exasperation as she scanned the room, searching for a pair of dark eyes that would understand, a smirk that would make the whole thing amusing.

A warm arm suddenly wrapped itself around her waist, cutting her search short as a voice murmured in her ear, "Looking for someone?"

Her breath caught for a second, and then she couldn't stop the smile from spreading at his familiar face and the gleam in his eye. He grinned back at her, and, just like that, the tension in her body was gone as she settled into the heat of his.

"I'm sorry, Eleanor, but I'll have to steal my bride away," he announced, squeezing her waist wickedly as his thumb traced patterns that no one else could see, "It's late."

He flashed his charming smile, but he was already leading her away before an appeased Eleanor could even finish saying, "Of course, Charles."

Blair allowed him to propel her across the room, waiting till they were out of earshot before slipping her hand into his and enquiring wryly, "Couldn't wait to get your hands on your new bride?"

His eyes were soft as he ran his thumb over the wedding ring, three interlinked bands of gold, on her finger, and answered with a smirk, "You're welcome." [1]

She squeezed his hand back, feeling his own wedding ring, and they exchanged another grin.

She caught a glimpse of their reflection in the paneled mirror just before they exited the ballroom; two dark heads and brown eyes complimenting each other, set off by the rich purple detail in both their clothes; her small frame fit snugly against his; pale complexions flushed with happiness - and she had to admit that there was something beautiful about both of them together. Her with him.

Chuck followed her gaze, his eyes resting on her reflection before he pulled her even closer and he murmured teasingly, softly into her, "A very handsome couple."

She was feeling mischievous (she was sure it had something to do with the fact that she couldn't stop smiling like an idiot) as they climbed into the carriage, Chuck handing her up, warm hands brushing her waist. Before he had even sat down properly, though, she had moved to him, wrapping her arms around his neck and burying her lips in his. Grinning even into the kiss, he pulled her onto his lap, hands curving around her little waist as her lips parted under his, sweet and soft and Blair.

She felt a shiver of pleasure as his hands slid under her wedding dress, caressing her thighs in search of bare skin, and he muttered into her, "Too many clothes."

She laughed, lightly, though it was muffled as she kissed his lips, his jaw, his neck, her own lips hungry for his taste as her hands curled around his collar.

His hands slid higher, and she stopped, then, realising where they were, and broke the kiss, breathless, unable to stop her fingers tracing his cheeks, holding his face in her hands. "Not here," she insisted, but she was still smiling, her breathing still caught and her body pressed to his, which he rather felt belied her demand. And gave him perfect justification for his hands to continue their hungry path.

She wriggled away, her own hands reaching for his wrists to stop him, though she couldn't help herself kissing him again, murmuring in between, "I said...not...here." She managed the semblance of an imperious glare. "Do you really want to consummate our marriage in a moving vehicle?"

He opened his mouth to say he just wanted to consummate their marriage, but the carriage jolted, sending her back on top of him and knocking the breath out of both of them temporarily. He recovered first, grinning as his hands crept around her waist and he answered, "Well, it would seem you do."

That earned him a light slap, of course, and he winced even though he really quite enjoyed it when she hit him.

She settled herself back in her seat, narrowing her eyes at him. "Not here."

If she kissed him again, she knew her resolve wouldn't be so strong. And she really didn't want to lose her virginity in a carriage. Her ration reminded her of this, though her body was reminding her Chuck was mere inches away, and she still had his taste on her lips.

Chuck pulled a face; she was a tease. He was sure it was deliberate, the way her lips were pursed now into an an adorable pout and her skirt was still slightly rucked. She was the one who had started it - he'd been set to wait till they got home before she started kissing him.

He leaned over before she could protest, hand brushing her leg - "Chuck!" - and settling on her thigh, but only to rearrange her skirt.

He smiled innocently. "Just tidying you up." He didn't move his hand, though, and when she went to remove it (because its heat was doing nothing for her resolve), he opened it up and caught her fingers in his instead. "Am I allowed to hold my wife's hand until we get home?"

She didn't quite manage to scowl at him properly (her mouth twitched too much), and then she relented and curled her hand in his, and they spent the rest of the journey, fingers twined between them.

She didn't realise she was actually nervous till Chuck set her down on the bed and she felt a tremor pass through her. Her earlier mischief had disappeared now - because it was really going to happen - and she suddenly felt very exposed in front of him. He didn't miss the tremble for a second, and for a moment he just gazed down at her, and, as she gazed back up into his dark eyes, reassuring, and remembered that it was Chuck, her nerves calmed a little.

And she experienced a shiver of an entirely different nature as he closed the gap between them, kneeling on the bedspread to cover her lips with his, his arms framing her as she clung to him, kissing him back.

He lay her down on the bed, his body following hers as he deepened the kiss and her arms tightened around his neck. He cradled her head, his own brushing hers, and his lips, his mouth were hot against hers, his breath melding with hers. He pressed her closer, even closer, their bodies crushed together, and she was hardly thinking anymore as she gripped the back of his shirt, holding on.

He paused then, lifting his head away to gaze down at her, still holding her. Asking her silently - even then - if she was sure. Her hands squeezed his shirt, and, though her stomach was fluttering and her heart pounding, she moved her head up to his, capturing his lips again. She was sure.

He buried his fingers in her hair, pulling her as close as he could, and he kissed her neck, her collarbone, adoring the taste. His hand slid up under her dress, gentle, firm, making her shiver against him, and he kissed her shoulder, lips finding bare skin as he moved to the dress fastenings, slowly pulling them open and removing the outer layers.

Her fingers trembled, but they were determined, seeking, as they slipped to his shirt, undoing the buttons. Chuck shrugged it off for her as her fingers traced the planes of his chest, running over the warm skin as he tugged off the last of her clothes.

He drank her in, every inch of her; and he couldn't help but wonder how all of her could possibly be his. She was reaching for him, though, pressing her body up into his - and so he found her mouth again, then kissed her exposed stomach, lips hot against the bare, smooth skin, then moved down, holding her all the while, tracing a slow, hungry line of kisses. She moaned softly. Arched her back, into him, and he held her closer, soothing her.

He kissed her - there - his hair brushing her stomach, his tongue...

He kept kissing her, moving back up, gentle, hot, reaching her lips again. He held her, gripping her hips gently as she moved against him and he slid into her. She gasped into his mouth, then - buried her slender fingers into his hair, wrapping her arms round him, fingers sliding down to press into his back as he filled her.

He kept pulling her just as close, hungrily exploring, touching her, his legs tangled with hers, his hips against hers, and his dark eyes were locked on hers the whole time, still drinking her in. He seemed to know exactly where to touch to make her shiver against him and momentarily forget the pain in the pleasure, whole body tingling - and his lips were so hot and he tasted so sharp and delicious and Chuck.

They groaned into each other's mouths as they climaxed at the same time, Blair's fingers digging in to the bare skin on Chuck's back.

Then they lay there, still entwined, the heat of his chest under her cheek, one hand wrapped, safe, on the small of her back, the other threaded through hers, clinging on to each other, her head tucked under the crook of his chin.

Nikolai (or Nicholas, as he insisted people call him - because it was less foreign and strange, and otherwise, the boys kept calling him a Cossack) was helping himself to some pastries from the sample table when he saw her. The winter fair was a French one, a celebration of Noël - whatever that was; his French tutor had no patience for him - and he adored the sweet, flaky cakes beyond anything else. He didn't often get them. But he stopped, another handful halfway to his mouth, when he saw the little girl across the way. She reminded him of a little china doll; flawless dark curls and milky skin, wide brown eyes framed by long lashes, a spotless white dress. And he blushed as he decided she was the prettiest girl he'd seen in his nine years.

She was busy looking at beads, examining the bright colours, but, just as he was gaping at her, she looked up and saw him. He smiled foolishly back and made up his mind to go over to her, because Papa had always taught him to be brave and Mama was always saying his dimples were adorable. Being the baby of the family had its advantages.

He thrust his hand out. "Pleased to meet you."

She paused, looking at his sticky fingers, at the crumbs surrounding his mouth - and then at his deep blue eyes and golden locks. So she decided she would be generous, and allowed him to take her hand in his, if only for a moment.

"What's your name?" he asked with another wide smile.

She blinked. "Anastasia Charl'sovna Bassov," she said at last.

He paused, because her accent was foreign but strangely familiar, and it took him a second to realise it was the same as his parents'. His eyes widened.

"Are you Russian?"

She drew her little frame up, clearly proud. "Yes. I am here on holiday."

His Russian was shaky at best, despite his parents' encouragement to learn his native tongue - but it was better than his French, and it didn't stop him from blurting eagerly in the same language, tripping over the words, "I'm Nikolai!"

And he was rewarded when she graced him with a surprised smile. He'd impressed her, and it made him beam.

They were still smiling at each other when they heard a whoop, and, to Nikolai's dismay, his older brothers arrived, exuberant and boisterous as ever.

"Nicky! Have you found yourself a beau?" Boris grinned as he nudged his little brother, hard, and Ivan slapped him on the back.

Nikolai flushed furiously - "No! Stop teasing me!" - while Anastasia took in the two older boys with disdain, noting that while they had the same golden hair, they were even messier than Nikolai, and far too noisy for her liking.

"So, who's this?" The taller of the two (though they were all very tall, really) had turned his attention to her, flashing his own dimples.

Before she could answer, though, a familiar, accented voice interjected, "No one you are worthy of speaking to."

She rolled her eyes, and, sure enough, her twin brother was next to her, glaring at the blond boys despite their height.

Boris stiffened as the insult sunk in, and it made Anastasia giggle before she could help it - and, seeing her, Nikolai couldn't help but laugh too, because she had such as nice smile.

His own laugh earned him a thump from his older brother, and he covered his mouth guiltily, but both Anastasia and even the dark-haired boy grinned at him because of it.

So he decided he didn't really care.

"Alexander! Anastasia!"

They were interrupted by a woman's voice calling in Russian, and Nikolai looked up to see a beautiful lady in a rich blue dress, dark hair swept up. It was the man at her side that made him gulp, though; equally fashionably dressed, with dark, commanding eyes. Eyes that were narrowed on him, and his proximity to Anastasia.

Anastasia, however, pulled him forwards, even further into the adults' gaze.

"Papa, this is Nikolai; he speaks Russian!" Her own Russian was so fluent, Nikolai had to struggle to keep up. And he was amazed at how easily she addressed the intimidating man. That was her father?

They were all looking at him now, dark eyes all fixed on him, and there must have been something wrong with him - was his shirt untucked again? - because the adults were frowning slightly now, exchanging glances with each other.

The man asked him something in Russian, but he was feeling so muddled that he couldn't make sense of it. So he just blinked, shifting on his feet.

The man switched to English, then, and Nikolai breathed a silent sigh of relief as he realised it was a question he knew the answer to - "What's your name, boy?"

His voice still fumbled, though, as he answered, "Nikolai Archibald." And - oh no, he must have somehow answered the wrong thing, because the adults were looking at each other again. "I mean..."

What did he mean?

Thankfully, he was saved by the voice of his mother calling him - a sound that he had never been more relieved to hear.

He turned and ran straight into her arms, not caring how childish it was to bury himself in her skirts; his mama never told him off, and she was never scary. She always made everything better.

She ruffled his blond curls, laughing. "What's wrong, Kolya?" Ordinarily he protested when she called him the Russian short form of his name - he preferred the English Nick because it was normal, but this time he didn't complain. "What have you..."

Her voice suddenly trailed off.

"Blair?" It was almost a whisper; shocked. "And...Chuck?"

Nikolai looked up in confusion. His mother was staring at the dark-haired couple, and had gone very pale.

"Is that really you?" She had reverted to Russian, and Nikolai had to strain to keep up.

All of the children were watching, now; even his brothers had fallen silent for once.

"Serena." The brunette was staring back at her.

The man spoke next, and Nikolai noticed dimly that he had moved closer to his wife without seeming to realise it, almost protective. "Where's Nate?"

Serena faltered at the reminder, looking between the two of them, looking at Blair though she hardly could. "He's buying port," she mumbled. Then, suddenly, voice choking, she whispered, "Blair...I'm so sorry."

It sounded pathetic even to her ears, as she stared helplessly at her former best friend, on the verge of tears.

There was a silence.

Then Blair did something no one - except perhaps Chuck, because they exchanged the swiftest of glances before she did - was expecting. She moved forwards, silently, and hugged her best friend.

Serena was absolutely stunned for a second, but so unbelievably relieved that she clung back, and she was crying now.

"I'm so sorry," she was mumbling again, arms wrapped around her best friend. "I didn't think you'd ever want to see me again - I thought you'd hate me forever - and I know you have every reason to, and what I did was awful - the worst thing I could ever do-"

Blair glanced up at her, silencing her with a faint smile. "It's in the past."

"But-" Serena couldn't comprehend it. She knew she didn't deserve anything like this from Blair - and it was Blair. Blair did not forgive and forget. Or at least, the Blair she'd known didn't.

"I missed my best friend," Blair said softly, simply.

"I missed you too," Serena whispered back with a watery smile, wiping her eyes. "You have no idea how much."

By this stage, a very lost Nikolai had given up trying to work out what was going on. Adults were always doing strange things, talking about odd things that he simply didn't understand.

He glanced shyly at Anastasia, since the adults were occupied - was his mother hugging the scary dark-haired man now? - and smiled at her.

"You know," he mumbled, "There's an ice-skating area that they set up at the back. Do you want to go?"

Anastasia paused, and then she smiled back, slipping her hand in to his. "I do."

And, for once unnoticed by the adults, who were distracted by Nate's arrival - was the scary dark-haired man actually smiling at him? - they walked off, hand in hand.

[1] Traditional Russian wedding rings are made of three bands of gold - white gold, red gold, and yellow gold - linked together.

First of all, sorry it took me a while to write this! In the original epilogue I planned, it was just going to be the final part of this with Nate and Serena. But then I read everyone's reviews, and realised I probably should write about their wedding night too. I've never written smut before (though I guess this isn't all that smutty) so please tell me if it's awful; I couldn't take it seriously when I tried to write anything more graphic. I'm worried it's a bit too romantic (and kind of vague)...specially since it's Chuck and Blair.

And a final thank you to all my reviewers: abelard, Bye11, ronan03, LittleDancer-123x, GGirl_CB4BW, LisaLevine, guardian izz, Manoella Nascimento, mary1415, Ann, PattyWoods, Michaellllla, GossipGirlFanForever, philologique, klara, alma-gglover, Lalai, sarah LJ, KB22, Stella296, WaldorfWannabe1812, The Very Last Valkyrie, xoxogg4lifexoxo, crd-crd, Scarlett Forest, Princess Persephone, ggloverxx19, cakebakery, hngauthier, EmilyEcstatic, Lena Belle, batgirl2992, and Seriouslyhappy - for sticking with the story and taking the time to give feedback :) It has been so appreciated!