Epilogue: It all worked out eventually . . . .

Berkley Castle, England

September, 1817

Bastian paced the castle hallway like a tiger looking for it's last meal, fear and frustration pouring off of him in such palpable waves that every castle resident was steering clear of him until given a reason not too.

As he turned for the thousandth time at the stairwell and headed back the way he'd come, he wondered if the carpet runner covering the floor was showing signs of wear yet as he'd been at this for hours. Eleven hours so far and with every minute that ticked by he grew more and more anxious. When Therese had first told him she was expecting their first child, Bastian's heart had positively soared with happiness, and even though his family were of course hoping for a son and heir, personally he didn't give a damn he was just honestly thrilled at the prospect of becoming a father.

Then after a few months the reality of Therese facing the dangers inherent in childbirth began to weigh on him. Women died everyday in childbed, or of post-childbed fevers; wonderful, loving, vibrant women. Healthy women like Therese. It began as a small knot of fear and over the months, as the time of Therese's confinement grew closer, the knot grew and grew until he was driving Therese positively demented as he tried to coddle her to an insane degree.

Therese herself was not worried in the slightest, handling the prospect with a calm assurance Bastian envied but couldn't find.

The thought that he might lose her, that this was something he not only could not protect her from, but had actually caused to happen – he was after all the reason his wife was pregnant, it gave him nightmares.

He'd been forced to live without her once, he knew, none better, that he'd never survive it again.

A life without her held nothing in it worth living for – nothing – thus the sheer paralyzing nature of his fear.

And here he was, stuck in a hallway, not allowed to see her, pacing and pacing while he waited for news and prayed with every fiber of his soul that it would be good. The only acceptable outcome was Therese's continued existence, he didn't want to lose his child either, but at least that he could overcome.

Reaching the door to his wife's chamber again he fought back the urge to barge in and demand to know what was happening, Therese was attended by her maid, and a midwife and the finest doctor London had to offer was standing by. His step-mother Alathea was also there, and since Alathea and Therese had become very accepting of each other the last few months, he was somewhat glad she was there to offer her support to his wife during her labor.

Pausing outside the room he listened carefully but could only hear muffled sounds. Therese was not one to scream if she was in pain, and though he'd heard some sounds that had distressed him the last few times he'd stood here, he could not tell what was currently going on.

Bastian sucked in a huge cleansing breath and forced himself to head for the stairwell again.

He got two thirds of the way down the hallway when he heard a door open behind him, and whipping around he saw Alathea emerging from Therese's chamber, evidently looking for him.

He was in a flat sprint in three paces and there at the doorway in twenty.

"What is it . . . is Therese okay . . . what's going on Alathea?"

Alathea took a long look at her stepson, and inwardly marveled anew at the transformation that love had wrought on the once rakish Earl of Gloucester. His handsome face was twisted in distress and the gut-wrenching fear visible in the depths of his dark eyes was completely haunting. She made quick to reassure him.

"Calm down dear boy, Therese is fine . . . she's doing well and your child is here Bastian . . . a son and heir."

She sees him absorb the information and watches fascinated as his face goes from agony to utter joy in the span of a heartbeat.

"A son . . . and Therese is okay . . . you're quite sure?"

Alathea nods and then gestures for him to follow her. "Come and see for yourself Bastian, your wife is asking for you." She says.

His heart is practically trying to beat its way out of his chest, but Bastian meekly follows Alathea into Therese's chamber. From her position propped up against a mountain of pillows in her bed his wife smiles at him. An exhausted, somewhat dazed, but ecstatic smile and Bastian crosses the room swiftly and falls to his knees beside the edge of the bed. Nestled in Therese's arms, Bastian gazes down at his son, swaddled in blankets and nursing at his mother's breast. A small red face and masses of dark hair are all he can really see but as he stares awed at this tiny human he is responsible for his wife's soft voice reaches him.

"He looks just like you my love . . . isn't he beautiful? Oh Bastian, this is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened."

Bastian tears his eyes from the baby and looks adoringly at his pale tired wife, her face looks a little wan but her expression is utterly serene, her blue eyes sparkling with endless love and happiness.

"Tell me you're alright Therese . . . that everything is well."

Therese frees a hand and reaches out to stroke the side of his face tenderly. "I am fine Bastian, stop worrying. We are both of us healthy, there is nothing to fear, be happy my darling . . . help me decide on a name for your heir."

A name . . . of course; they have discussed lots of names the last eight months, both male and female obviously, but now that the baby is here a decision must be made. Bastian looks down at his tiny son again, leans over and brushes a soft kiss to the downy head, breathes deeply of the baby's pure smell. None of the options they've talked about seem to fit, and he doesn't know why, then as he looks back into Therese's sparkling eyes it comes to him and he smiles widely.

"William Robert Augustus Berkley." Bastian's chosen names seem to fit at once. Therese's eyes mist up as she looks at him. Her father, her brother, and her husbands own middle name . . . it's perfect.

"Robert will be overjoyed." She says tearily, "As would my father have been. Thank you Bastian."

Bastian takes her hand in his and this time when he leans over it's to kiss her briefly before he rests his forehead on hers.

"I love you Therese, today, tomorrow, fifty years from now, it will never change or alter, only grow ever stronger, ever more enduring. You make me the happiest man alive my love and you forever will."

Brennan's Office, Jeffersonian Institute, Washington D.C.

January 1st 2011

Booth stopped just outside Brennan's office to take a moment for himself and just look at her, she's engrossed in something on her computer and fiddling with his dog tags as she's been doing since he gave them to her on Christmas Day; he smiles inside every time he sees her do it. He's come to drag her away from here and over to Hodgins' and Angela's house, where a New Year's Day celebration is in full swing to welcome in the coming year and say goodbye and kinda good riddance to the old one and all it's associated baggage.

He hadn't wanted Brennan to come in at all today, but since her stay in England had gotten extended she'd felt compelled to go over everything that had been done by her interns during her absence, and make sure it was all up to her exacting standards. Knowing her 'squinterns' as he did, Booth doubted she'd find anything to complain about, and he really wanted to go and hang out with their friends and enjoy really being a part of their Jeffersonian family again – something he'd stupidly let slide while involved with Hannah.

Being back at home again is strangely new and exciting now that their partnership is functioning on every level it can. They have not field tested it with a new case yet, but he has not the slightest doubt that they will still be a well oiled machine as an investigative pair, even as they are also new lovers who act like an old married couple most of the time.

Being with Brennan, really being with her, making love to her, and sharing everything and every part of his life with her; Booth feels like he's walking on air right now, literally floating around on a cloud of pure happiness. He's never, ever, been as happy, as content and as fulfilled as he is now, now that they've finally come together in all ways and are truly sharing one life.

And Brennan, if he's happy, then she's blissful, because he's never seen her like this, so serene, so completely glowing with contentment. Every time he looks at her he marvels anew at how this happiness she feels shines out of her like a beacon that everyone around her can almost reach out and touch.

He falls more in love with her every moment they spend together, something that should not be possible and yet is a simple truth. It actually scares him a little, because he cannot for a moment comprehend living without her now, which is scary, and yet he also cannot forget that Sebastian felt the same way about Therese, and if Bastian lived with it okay, then Booth knows he will too.

It was hard to leave England and Berkley behind, for him and especially for Brennan. Saying goodbye to Richard, thanking him for everything he'd done for the both of them was trying, and yet Booth feels as Brennan does that they've both made a lifelong friend in Richard, and in Berkley found a special, almost magical place that they will re-visit again and again. Brennan was adamant that they commit to booking themselves in for three weeks in the upcoming summer before they left, and already Booth is looking forward to going back, he thinks Brennan might actually be counting the days – she loved it so much.

Brennan looks up from her computer as he stands thinking and staring at her, Booth smiles and enters the office wondering when she figured out he was there.

"I'm ready to go Booth . . . just finishing up and sending a Happy New Year email to Richard."

Booth smiles at the warmth in her voice as she mentions the Earl.

"Hope you sent it from both of us Bones, he's my friend too." He teases.

Brennan smiles as she shuts down her computer and grabs her jacket from the back of her chair. "I told him we both send our love and hope that he's still committed to coming for a visit before March . . . I really want him to meet everyone and after all he did for us, it'll be fun to return the favor, plus I think he's lonely and it worries me."

Booth steps close to her and wraps her in his arms, sighing as she burrows close and buries her face against his neck as her arms encircle him.

"That's sweet Bones . . . but don't worry to much about Richard, he's rich, handsome and titled, some lucky woman will come along and snatch him up, you mark my words."

He feels Brennan nod, her warm lips brushing over the sensitive skin of his neck and sending shivers down the length of him – God what she does to him, it really shouldn't be legal!

'She'll be a very lucky woman whoever she is Booth, Richard is wonderful . . . just like you, and as the lucky woman in your life I speak from personal experience here."

Brennan lifts her head from his neck as she says this, and the loving adoration in her eyes fills Booth's stomach with butterflies. She reaches up to kiss him, slow and thorough, and though they've been doing this a lot, making up for so much missed time, every time she kisses him it's like the first, there's that same thrill, that same spark.

When she breaks the kiss Booth groans, he's already hard and aching and suddenly he just wants to ravish her on the nearest available flat surface and the party at Hodgins' be damned.

Brennan tugs at his hand and pulls him protesting after her. "We promised Booth . . . and seeing us together is what they all want most to celebrate . . . you can have me later."

Booth groans again at the images his mind has conjured up, but he follows her meekly, helping her into her coat as befitting a proper gentlemen.

"You promise Bones?" He whines.

Brennan stops, turns, smiles up at him and tells him simply . . . "I promise Booth, later, tomorrow, fifty years from now . . . forever."

And laughing, hand in hand, they leave to find the rest of their family.

***The End***

Authors Note: Holy hell it's finished! I can hardly believe it and I'm sad and happy all at the same time. I really, really hope everyone who has read this story in its entirety is happy with how things turned out – I know I am, but it would be really nice to hear it from all of you. Happy New Year folks, hope you'll all join me for the next one which will be posting soon.