DISCLAIMER: I neither own Glee nor the characters. They are the property of Ryan Murphy and Fox. This is purely for fun. Enjoy!

A/N: ET VOILA! The FINAL chapter of Hero. Words cannot express what this story meant to me, and see the end of the story for the fully detailed THANK YOUS I have written for my friends and fans. The Minsk loves you all!


Chapter Eighteen: Forever Yours

Standing in front of a full length mirror, Rachel Berry clutched her bouquet in her hands as she looked over herself for the millionth time. Everything about today had to be perfect. It just HAD to be.

Her eyes roamed over every inch of her immaculate white gown, looking for signs of any wrinkle, any spot or tear. If something happened to her dress within the next ten minutes her world would collapse, she was sure of it. It was no Vera Wang, but she had spent weeks and weeks picking out this dress, and she was in love with the way the white fabric wrapped around her midriff and expanded out into a long and gorgeous train. She shuffled from foot to foot, trying to get used to the heels she was wearing. Of course she just had to marry a man who was ridiculously tall, and she would be damned if she looked like a midget next to her soon-to-be-husband in all of her wedding photos. All she had to do was keep her balance until the reception, and then she could take these death traps off and switch into more comfortable shoes.

She was about to fiddle with the veil on her head when she felt someone come up from behind her and give her shoulders a squeeze. It was her almost Mother-in-law, Carole, and her smile was wide and beaming as she soaked in the image of the young bride. Looking at their reflection in the mirror, Rachel smiled softly and could see that Carole was choking back tears.

"You look beautiful, darling." Rachel could hear her voice start to break and she had to take a deep breath to defend herself against any tears. HER MAKEUP WAS ON THE LINE.

"Thank you, Carole. I couldn't have done any of this without you." It was almost an act of God that they were able to get married so quickly. It would be forever documented in Lima gossip that this was the fastest wedding ever planned. Not too many people were happy to receive a save the date for an event that was only three months away, but they had done it. And without Carole's help, none of this would have been possible.

Carole smiled warmly and adjusted the veil on her head so it laid properly. "Of course, dear. This was the day we've been planning for years. I was more than happy to help." She circled around the girl, making sure she looked perfect. "And after today you can call me "Mom!'"

Rachel stilled in her pristine gown. Mom? She'd never had a mom before. She never thought she'd have someone to plan weddings with, or gossip with. Someone who she could look up to. The only other Mother in her life hadn't wanted her, and now Carole was here extending the offer like it was the most natural thing in the world. She had always liked Carole, but now she had an affection for the woman that she had never felt before. And if she was going to have a mom, she was happy it was Carole. She was truly an amazing woman. "Carole?"

"Yes dear?"

She turned around to the older woman and smiled. "I've never had a mom before. But I'm glad Finn has a mom like you. I'm ready. Let's do this." The two women walked out of the small changing room and met up with the other members of Rachel's bridal party. Quinn, her Maid of Honor, gave her a thumbs up from the makeup chair where she was getting the finishing touches done on her outfit. She was able to get both Mercedes and Tina to fly in for the wedding to be bridesmaids, and they ran up to her in tears over her dress.

"Ladies, ladies! You are going to mess up your amazing outfits. All waterworks must cease!" If they started crying, then she was going to cry, and did she mention how everything had to be perfect? BECAUSE IT DID.

But that all almost flew out the window when both of her fathers entered the room, waiting to walk their only little girl down the aisle. Don't cry Rachel, save the sentimentality for after the wedding.

"You ready, baby girl?" Leroy reached out for his daughters hand while the other bridesmaids, Carole and Quinn, left the room to go wait in line. Hiram grabbed hold of the other arm as the two father's prepared themselves to walk their only daughter down the aisle.

It was everything she had ever dreamed of and more.

Every girl fantasizes about their wedding. And if a girl says they don't, they're straight-up lying. So for Rachel, this was a big deal in more ways than one. She had been entertaining fantasies of marrying Finn Hudson since she was 16 years old! How many nights had she fallen asleep to the image of Finn in a tuxedo, waiting for her to marry him? How many years had she waited for him to finally come home, so he could keep his promise to her?

But that didn't matter now. Because on the other side of that thick, wooden door, was a church filled with everyone she had ever known.

And Finn was waiting for her.

It hadn't been easy, recovering from their ordeal. As happy as they were to finally be reunited, there were some things that they were still dealing with. Finn had been suffering from nightmares, especially of the times when he had no memory of his life. He would wake up sometimes so confused about where he was, that she had to spend half the night reassuring him that he wasn't in Tajikistan or Afghanistan anymore. That he was home and safe and his name was Finn Hudson and he was a hero. He always remembered, but those moments of confusion and desperation always scared her to death. Sometimes he slipped on the names of old acquaintances or couldn't remember where he'd put his keys. They were tiny slips, normally unnoticeable, but Rachel noticed everything when it came to Finn.

But things were getting better, slowly. Deep wounds needed time to heal.

She stood with her fathers outside of the church, her heart beating faster than ever before. This waiting, this anticipation, was worse than any stage fright she'd ever experienced in her life in theatre. This was really happening.

She was getting married today.

She held onto her father's arms like her life depended on it when she heard the loud organ begin the opening chords of the wedding march. She watched with a glowing smile as her wedding party went out in front of her, and waited anxiously for the cue to walk down the aisle and marry the man of her dreams.

She took one step forward in her high heeled shoes, and fell unceremoniously to the floor, twisting her ankle, and screaming in pain.

No. No no no, this isn't happening. This cannot be happening right now! She tried to put a little pressure on her foot and she had to stifle another cry of pain. She sat in horror as her eyes started to tear up, and she almost screamed when she wiped away a black, makeup-filled tear.

Her ankle was twisted.

Her makeup was smudged.

Her dress was on the ground.

Her wedding was officially ruined.

"Rachel!" "Baby!" Her dads spoke in unison as they tried to pick their daughter up off of the floor. She could hear her cue, hear the people standing up in the aisles, waiting for her to make her grand entrance.

She refused to move from the floor.

"Honey, are you okay?" Her daddy tried once again to pick her off of the floor, but she crossed her arms in front of her chest and refused to move. This had been her one and only chance to give Finn the wedding that they had been dreaming about for years. And now she was an injured crying mess and her gorgeous gown was on the floor. THE FLOOR. She heard the organ music pause in the background, and the murmur of her guests filled the small entrance.

"I can't do this. I can't go out there like this!" She screamed with her head in her hands while her daddy picked her off of the floor. He was able to help her limp over to the closest chair, and when she looked up, her other father was missing.

"What happened to Dad, Daddy?" He had just been here a second ago. . .

He looked a bit guilty while pointing to the main hall of the church. "I think he went to go get Finn."

Her watery, bloodshot eyes almost popped out of her head. "NO!" This was not supposed to happen! The groom was NEVER supposed to see the bride before the wedding! What had happened to all of her staunch and specific planning? Her image of a perfect wedding was now ruined and they were going to be cursed with bad luck for the rest of their lives. Now she couldn't care less if her makeup was ruined, the tears were flowing and they wouldn't stop.

"Rachel?" Hearing Finn's voice only made her cry harder. It wasn't supposed to be like this! "What happened?" She refused to look up at her groom-to-be; she was ashamed at how disheveled she looked on what was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. Instead, he crouched down onto his haunches in his tuxedo, and lifted up her face by her chin to make eye contact with him.

She had to suppress another round of tears. He looked perfect. He looked so dapper in his tuxedo and a brilliant smile was on his face. His hair had finally grown back to its full thickness, hiding the various scars he had received from the accident. His gaze was soft as he took in her crumpled state, and he held onto her face gently, brushing his thumb along the expanse of her jaw.

He looked like a prince, while she looked like a bridezilla.

"Everything is ruined!" She threw her hands up in the air in exasperation while Finn looked on in shock. "Everything I planned, everything I imagined, its all ruined now! I can't even walk down the aisle at my own wedding." She pointed at her feet and Finn lifted up the bottom of her dress to remove her shoes. "What am I going to do?" The tears threatened to spill over again as she saw her ankle begin to swell.

"You're going to get married." Was his simple reply.

"How could I, when everything I planned was ruined?" She felt miserable on the one day she was supposed to feel invincible. "I wanted everything to be perfect for you. After everything we've been through I just wanted this one thing to be perfect."

She heard Finn chuckle gently and she looked up at her almost-husband and frowned. "Rachel, everything is perfect." She looked up with doubt in her gaze and his smile was glowing, wide, and full of joy. "How long have we been waiting for this?"

She shrugged her shoulders, "Almost three years now, I guess." Three years, had it really been that long?

"So why should it matter? I haven't been waiting all this time so I can appreciate the flower arrangements. I've been waiting to marry you." He grabbed onto both of her hands and his voice grew thick with emotion. "Everything that could have gone wrong in the past, went wrong. Now that we're so close to finally getting married, you're going to let a twisted ankle get in your way? What happened to Rachel Berry, the girl who headbutted an international terrorist?" A small chuckle escaped her lips and his smile grew more pronounced. All of a sudden, she felt herself being lifted up, bridal-style, into his arms and she let out a small shriek.

"Finn, what are you doing?"

"Leroy, Hiram, get the train. We are getting married even if I have to carry her down the aisle."

And he did. Leroy ran back into the church and Rachel could hear the music starting up again. The doors opened, and every eye in the church was focused on the groom carrying his own bride down the aisle. When they got to the Rabbi at the front of the church, (Finn respected Hiram's request that they have a Jewish ceremony) he looked at the two of them with a mix of shock and amusement.

"Well that's something I've never seen before, let's get you two married before something else goes wrong!"

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The ceremony was beautiful. Besides the one snafu of twisting her ankle, the rest of the ceremony had gone perfectly to plan.

Except for the part when Finn couldn't smash the glass at then end. He had to step on it about four times before the damn glass broke. Traditions could really be annoying sometimes.

Rachel was sitting at the head of the table, watching while her guests danced at her reception. Her ankle was swollen and aching, but she was going to be okay. She was more upset that she wouldn't be able to dance at her own wedding. But she would survive.

At least her husband was still at her side.

She looked over at Finn and couldn't help but smile as she watched him chat with the other members of their bridal party who weren't up and dancing. She was foolish to think that anything they planned would turn out perfectly; maybe they just had bad luck. But at least they were finally married, and they had their whole lives ahead of them. She had school and theatre, and he had a part-time job as a military analyst for Homeland Security while he went to school. Yeah, he might have quit the Army, but he was still able to put his training to good use without being in combat. It was a glorified desk job, but he was happy. And as long as he was happy and out of danger, she was fine with him working for the government.

She knew she was probably interrupting his conversation, but she slipped her hand in his anyway and gave it a light squeeze. He turned around to her, giving her his undivided attention.

"Yes, my lovely wife?" He said it with a smile and she thrilled to the word. She was now Finn's wife.

"Well, husband," A huge grin graced his features as he squeezed her hand. "I'm jealous of our guests because they get to dance while I can't."

He picked up their entwined hands and kissed the back of hers, lingering there for a moment before standing up and walking towards the DJ. "I can fix that." She watched in awe as he took the mic and addressed the hall filled with their friends and family.

"Hello, everyone. Rachel and I hope you're all having a great time, but I have received a special request from my injured wife that I need to fulfill." Finn smiled at Rachel from his spot on the makeshift stage while he leaned over and whispered something to the DJ. "Everyone off of the dance floor. This song is for my wife." She watched as her guests walked away from the dance floor leaving it empty. Finn walked up to her and steadied her on her good ankle, helping her walk while she leaned on him for support. He still had the mic, and he looked at her while he addressed the crowd.

"Five years ago, I was just a dumb-ass kid who couldn't tell the difference between Mozart and Megadeath. I played sports and sang in glee club and tried way too hard to be cool. I met an awesome girl and fell head over heels in love with her. Pretty much my life in a nutshell." All eyes were on them as Finn continued his speech. He took a deep breath and the tone of the speech changed drastically. "A lot of people throw the word 'hero' around when they talk to me now. They think I'm some great, strong person, when most of the time I still feel like that dorky kid who could barely dance." He looked down at Rachel, at his bride and smiled warmly. "To me, Rachel is the true hero." She had to hold onto his tuxedo lapel to steady herself, she thought she might faint. "She stood by me when I decided to join the army, and never gave up on me after I went missing." She could feel the tears pool in her eyes. "She even loved me when I didn't even know I was me, if that makes any sense at all." His voice echoed around the hall and she saw some of her guests wiping away tears. "She is stronger and braver than any person I have ever known, and while I might be the one with the badges and medals, Rachel is the true hero of my life. She saved me. In more ways than one." Now she was the one who was wiping away tears. "I love you Rachel; my wife, my hero."

Finn handed the microphone back to the DJ and helped support her on the dance floor while the opening chords to their wedding song began. She wrapped her arms around his neck while he held her tightly around the waist, making sure she was stable. She couldn't dance properly, but the married couple started to sway softly to the music that filled the banquet hall. The soft piano intro filled Rachel's heart with nostalgia as Steve Perry's iconic vocals filled the room.

Highway run, into the midnight sun

Wheels go round and round, you're on my mind

"Remember when we sang this song for glee?" He whispered into her ear as they swayed to the beat.

Restless hearts sleep alone tonight

Sending all my love along the wire

"Yeah, and we lost terribly." She said with a lilt of nostalgia.

He chuckled softly. "And I told you I loved you for the first time."

They say that the road ain't no place to start a family

Right down the line it's been you and me

"Yeah." What else could she say? That was the day her life with Finn had truly started.

"It really is our song, you know?"

And loving a music man ain't always what it's supposed to be

Oh girl, you stand my me

"Yeah, it really is."

I'm forever yours faithfully.

"I love you, Rachel."

"I love you, too, Finn."

No matter what had happened to them, no matter what obstacles they'd had to face, it had all come down to this moment. Their scars, their wounds, were all in the past. Their lives were like a blank slate now, and they were ready to start a new and exciting life together. He might have been a soldier, and she might have been an actress, but they were more than that now.

They were husband and wife.

He was her hero.

And she was his.

And they were ready to start their forever, together.


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OK, there are literally tears on my keyboard, so I'm going to make this quick.

First and foremost, I thank each and every person who read this story. If you ever left me a review or a message or replied one of my tweets, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You gave me the encouragement and support I needed to continue this story, and I will never forget the feedback I received from you all.

More specifically, I would like to thank the fabulous friends I have made in the glee fandom. Without you all I probably would have stopped writing a long time ago. I know most of you by twitter name, and some by FF names, so bear with me! (AND IF I FORGET ANYONE I LOVE YOU AND I'M SORRY) mshope813, adlervan, njfisher, stephanever, RSDSIL3NT, pnuts_mama, akpierce, meeshyglee, elimaru, kcmmp13, OctoberDana, jennlynne9, Dream Writer 4 Life, Live and Alone, Lilasian155

I know there are plenty more people, and I love you all, but my mind is all messed up from the fact that HERO IS FINALLY OVER. **SOBS**

If you haven't yet, follow me on twitter TheMinsk. On my twitter, it's all glee, all the time!

So until next time, my dearest friends... *sings* Don't Stop. . .Reviewing!

Merci Mille Fois

The Minsk