AN: Ok...so here it is, the final chapter (or at least...what I think is the final chapter) of Queens Waltz. I am sorry for how long this took me - but I am rather pleased with how this finished in the end. I tried to keep things fairly general because there is so much of this story that I feel can keep living by letting the reader retain some sense of imagination. If there are any things in particular you would want me to address, feel free to post it in comments and I might end up writing another chapter...but otherwise this is indeed the final look at Rose and Logan in Queens Waltz.
Thank you all so much for taking the time to read, review and just giving it a bit of your time. I hope you enjoyed this journey, I know I did.
Best wishes to everyone - reader, writer and reviewer - you guys are the better than I could have asked for!
Theme 20: Happiness
Theme 20: Happiness
"Papa, papa! Lucius has gotten stuck in a tree again, come quick!"
The years had passed swiftly by and Luke was now the King of Albion, his beloved wife now the mother to his two children. A Golden Age had descended upon the kingdom, his mother's gift to him and her grandchildren, and there seemed no end to the peace the once embattled kingdom enjoyed.
"What was that darling?"
Slowly descending the staircase to enter the manicured gardens of Bowerstone Castle, Luke scanned the shrubs in search of his daughter.
At his question the little princess appeared, looking every inch her grandmother's grandchild in the impeccably clean dress that offset the almost rustic leather gloves she wore on her hands. Replicas of her grandmother's magic gauntlets, Theresa – Tessie to her parents – was never without them.
"You must come quick Papa; he's climbed that tree again, even though I told him not to!"
His little girl's imperious frown was yet another mirror of her grandmother, and Luke felt a momentary pang in his chest. He was not sure he would ever truly manage to sooth the pain cause by her absence, he was a boy no longer, but the loss of family was never easily accepted.
How long had it been since she had left?
Absently, Luke began to count as he followed his daughter through the gates of the garden and slowly plodded through the maze. He did not have to think about where he was going, a childhood spent at the palace had taught his muscles which way led through the garden's complex layout.
Left, right, right…
And there, amidst the lush foliage of Bowerstone Garden stood the statue of Albion's recently departed Hero Queen. A creation meant to commemorate her many years of service, of vigilant protection and heartfelt caring for her people; the image of Queen Rose seemed almost otherworldly as the sunlight cast penetrating beams of gold through the translucent stone.
He had never had to face the ghosts and spirits of Albion's more ancient landmarks, but the evanescent image before his eyes seemed to embody his imagined picture of the creatures. Beautiful and yet fleeting, it took only a single cloud to destroy the illusion. It was only when the stones had lost their lustrous glow that Luke returned to himself with a start, continuing anew towards where his daughter was.
Yet he had not yet crossed out of the statue's shadow when he heard her voice.
Her voice was as elusive as a shadow, whispery thin but it reached him despite the distance. Turning to look at her, the statue, the memory of her last goodbye filled his mind, colored the space before her eyes until it was almost like she was there.
"You better look after my grandchildren when I'm gone." Her expression had been serious for only a moment before a smile softened the corners of her mouth. "I don't want to come back and find them all straight-laced and without an adventurous bone in their body."
Her eyebrow had arched at him then, almost comical as she wiggled it at him, laughingly demanding a promise to nurture the curious nature that seemed so part of the royal family.
Luke fretted for a moment that it was this very spirited characteristic that was putting his mother in harm's way.
"Will you be alright with just the two of you on the boat?"
The glint in her eyes, so recently returned with his uncles' reappearance, sparkled, "More than alright, Luke. You know we can take care of ourselves."
"I know but…"
Tutting affectionately, the shorter woman had gathered him to her, gently hugging him close. It was the quiet that soothed them both, mother and son savoring the peace that was so rare when managing a kingdom.
"He will look after me," Rose spoke after a while, "He always has, even when he was not around."
"And now that he is…" Luke led quietly.
"There is nothing to worry about dear heart. I am so pleased, to have you grown so well…to see him again." A smile warmed her face then and Luke watched as the years all but disappeared, revealing the young woman his mother remained at her core, at her heart.
"You love him?" He asked, for what was to be the final time.
His mother could not have appeared more radiant.
"With everything I am."
The image began to fade then, disappearing as the illusionary image of his mother walked towards the docks and the ship that waited in the sea. Luke did not have to see him, to know the man who waited for her at the shore.
It could be no other man, for it was only with him that she was whole.
It was only with him that she could find peace.
And because he loved them both, because he was their son, he let them go; smiling as he turned out of the garden alcove Luke cast one last thoughtful look at the statue before going in search of his young children.
Perhaps one day she would come back. But until then, it made him glad to know she had found happiness at last.
"You don't regret anything?" Logan asked softly as he pressed another kiss onto her shoulder, waiting silently as she absorbed his tender affection.
Rose smiled, the wind whipping her curls around in a fiery mane, looking for all the world like she did those many years ago as a girl.
"I can't regret anything that brought you back to me."
Turning to him as she examined the flecks of grey beginning to silver his temples, Rose smiled knowing her own hair was just starting to do the same. The stresses of ruling paired with all the hardships of the past year had aged them both before their time. But for all the lines on his face, the slight creases at the corners of his eyes, Rose still believed her brother to be the most handsome man she had ever met.
She smiled at the thought, taking heart from the sentiment that had filled her so regularly each day that she woke to find him beside her. Looking back to the sea, Rose lost herself to the familiar thoughts.
Behind her, Logan pressed another kiss into her hair before slowly drawing away, the sails of the ship demanding his attention. Efficiently accomplished, the heavy canvas was pulled taut, lashed skillfully to the appropriate beams before he returned.
It had been nearly a year since they had left Albion's main port, and their travels had taught them both much, about themselves, about each other.
A small, almost imperceptible smile crossed his lips as he slowly inhaled her soft scent, wrapping his arms around her as her perfume did the same to his brain. He had not forgotten her in the many years they had been apart, but to find her so near made her scent the most intoxicating of experiences.
Closing his eyes, he sighed almost imperceptibly, finding that she did the same, snuggling against him as she slowly exhaled. Neither one could see the other's face, but their hearts were in the same place, their lips in the same smile they had inherited from their mother.
Separated yet brought back together.
Siblings and yet somehow more.
There were some things they would never be able to do, could never bring themselves to do though they loved one another without reservation.
Marriage, children, a life of normalcy in Albion.
None of these things could be theirs…and yet, they were together anyway.
Together and happy.
The setting sun cast them both in golden light, reflecting off the water and filling their sails with the sweet brassy gold that was nature's wealth.
"Should we set a course back to Albion?"
"To pay our grandchildren a visit?" Logan asked, finishing her thought as he tugged gently her hand, drawing her towards the small open space on the ship's deck. Hands settling at her waist, he watched with muted affection as her golden-cast hair tumbled behind her in with wind, brushing his cheek as the curls came undone.
A soft smile curved along both their lips in an imperfect mirror of one another.
Like a slow waltz through time they circled one another, borne of trust, loyalty and love. They knew they did not have forever, but they had each other – and that was all either one would ever need...
And far away, in a distant mansion, illuminated only by the dim light in a sumptuous private office, a lone figure looked up at the painting of a woman, a Queen, and truly smiled.
"Well done, milady. Well done…my little girl."