A/N: THE FINAL COUNTDOWN…

So sorry this took so long. I am afraid that I had no creative juice after completing NaNo. Also my pains are still a huge bother in my life. We have a diagnosis, but it means I'll never get better. The tablets I'm on also make it quite difficult to think properly.

Yeaaaah….so this is the final chapter of A Kingdom Reborn. I'd also just like to say that I've had this ending in my mind from the beginning.

I hope you like it

~Anna-Margaret

xx


Chapter 17: Ruling

King Edward watched from the doorway as Bella helped their children's nursemaid ready them for bed. With a final soft kiss to each and a whispered goodnight, Bella returned to her husband's side, smiling softly up at him.

"I do not deserve such a wonderful woman," King Edward commented as he lifted a hand to graze against her cheek.

Bella held the hand to her cheek for a few moments before kissing the palm of it. So much had changed since the king had first taken notice of her. She knew he cared greatly for her, loved her and that his arms would always be a shelter for her, protecting her from any harm. With a long sigh of contentment she curled herself closer into her husband's body. Although it was not considered appropriate for such closeness in a public place, King Edward wrapped his arms around his wife and kisses the top of her head. His body relaxed at the feel of hers against his, but soon he felt the tell-tale stirrings in his gut. He shifted awkwardly away from Bella, not wishing her to feel his hard member pressing up against her as she should still be trying to recover.

"No," his queen mumbled into his brocade tunic. "Stay with me," she gazed up at him so that he could not remain ignorant to the true meaning of her words.

"My beauty, you are still recovering. Mayhap I can just lie beside you," he whispered lowly so that none may overhear his private words for his wife.

Bella moved out from his embrace, making the king saddened before he became a little concerned (for himself) at the thunderous expression darkening her beautiful pale face. Bella turned on her heel and stormed off to the king's chamber, entering them before her husband and without his permission. The king was perplexed by her behaviour and quickly followed after her, only to find she had dismissed all his servants and was slowly disrobing herself by his bed. The king's throat felt rather dry at the sight and he felt hungered for more, but forced himself to remain by the doorway.

"My husband, the physician has declared me well. It has been nigh two months since the birth of our Anthony. And after seeing the sight of you with our children this night I desire to be with you," declared Bella, shocking the king thoroughly. "Edward?" said Bella, her voice trembling a little with nervousness.

She was afraid her husband would no longer desire her and find other women to fill his need whilst she would be set aside and considered only his wife in name and as mother of his children. She worried his love for her would wane, whilst hers would burn ever brighter.

A heady groan escaped the king, disturbing Bella from her bleak thoughts. "Oh my cherished one," he cried out as he rushed to her side and pulled her into a passionate embrace. "I desire to be with you also, but I…my love, I am afraid," he whispered as if it was the greatest crime ever to be committed. "What if you were to become with child again? The physicians and midwife agree that it is unlikely you would survive if I begot you another child. We have a beautiful daughter who each day becomes more like her wonderful mother and a strong son who has these pools of brown eyes I adore," he told her before pressing a soft kiss to the corners of her eyes. "I need no other to fill my life as it is already overfilling with joy and happiness each day I can feel your touch and see our children grow."

"So you will never bed me again until the fear I could become with child is gone?" asked Bella, horrified at the idea.

"No, my love, I could not bear to be without you for such a period. I would suggest another way but we would have to ask for God's forgiveness."

"It is unholy?" Bella bit her lip in worry at what the king suggested.

"I would not complete inside you, but spill my seed outside of your body."

"A waste of your ability to procreate and give life as the Lord wishes us to," whispered Bella, considering the idea.

"I do not believe that a God who would allow you to remain with me and allow me to love a woman as lovely as you would deny me the right to protect you as a good husband should from all ills and evils. My seed is one such evil for your body as I will not let my desire for you take you from me."

Bella's fingers splayed across her husband's strong chest before moving to remove his clothing. King Edward stopped her in her task and tilted her head upwards so that he might gaze into her eyes and see the truth of her decision.

"You consent?"

"Yes…my love," she murmured as his lips descended upon her, robbing her of her breath.

He helped her to divest him of his clothing more quickly before spinning her around so that her back was pressed against his bare chest. His large strong hands traced over her body, learning each curve before stripping her of the shift that bared her skin from his eyes. A glance over her shoulder had her shuddering with desire. His face was a mixture of wild lust and uncontrollable love. As he gazed at her nude body with such a burning expression, Bella felt truly beautiful and loved.

"I wish I could go slowly with you, my dearest wife, but my body desires you too much," he murmured against the skin of her neck.

Bella shivered and moaned as he hauled her against him, firmly tugging her bare bottom against his hard throbbing shaft. She pushed back against his hard length, enjoying the feel of him pressing against the cleft of her rump. A gasp of anticipation fled her open lips as he jerked against her and his hands moved over her waist and up until they were cupping her breasts. His rough fingers brushed against her nipples, already hard from the cooling air of the room. Her hips bucked as he pinched the hard buds. She could feel her need for him dripping down her legs.

"More!" she gasped out hoarsely in desperate need of the man behind her.

"Lay with your front upon the bed, but remain standing," he commanded.

A brief flicker of nervousness filled her body at the command, but the trust, love and lust she felt for her husband won out. She knew he would bring her pleasures untold of. He spread her legs and then pressed against her, making a moan escape her as she felt the hard length of him nudging hotly against her womanly place. His hands languidly journeyed over her back, pushing her hair over one shoulder so that he might caress the bare skin exposed with his lips and teeth. Bella continued to buck against him, wordlessly begging for him to fill her. The hardness of the mattress on one side and the masculine body of her husband lying over her back made her feel more aroused.

The king's hands moved to grasp her hips, halting their movements. His queen whined in protest and moved to turn around and berate him when he drove into her. She gasped aloud and the feeling of him deep inside her, filling her. Her neck arched, her teeth found purchase on her bottom lip to stem the screams of exquisite pleasure she wished she could cry out. Again and again he filled her as deeply as he could, his chest pressed against her back. Declarations of love whispered into her skin as he drove their bodies closer to the end, rutting hard and fast, pushing her deeper into the mattress. All she could feel was the pleasure of his touch until her body shattered into a thousand quivering pieces, a scream burst free. She whined as he exited her body, but purred with pleasure as she felt him finish against her buttocks.

"I'm going to fall," she managed to gasp out as her legs trembled.

"I'll catch you. Always," King Edward promised her, pulling her tired body into his arms as her legs gave out.

He cleaned her up before tucking her into his bed. Once all but one of the candles had been extinguished he joined her, savouring the closeness of their naked bodies pressed against one another. He gently kissed her swollen lips and with whispered testaments of love to one another they fell into a blissful sleep.

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Together King Edward and Queen Isabella ruled their country with a fair and just hand. They helped one another to understand the differing plights of their people. For the most part their rule was a happy and joyous one. But their previous allies the Spanish did not appreciate the king denying a betrothal between Princess Helen and Prince Philip of Spain.

King Edward had made the decision that, unlike her mother, his daughter could have some say in who she would marry. He loved his daughter more and more as each day passed, and especially came to enjoy the days she appeared at Court and told them all of the new things her governess had been teaching her. He wished her a marriage of love, but the Spanish king simply saw it as a rebuke and that the English believed their darling princess was not good enough for his son.

A war broke out between the two countries and there were many deaths on each side. King Edward would not back down from his stance, even when his people began to cry out for an end to the war. The war ended two years after it had begun. The Spanish king could no longer afford to send men to fight the English as his country was in a state of disarray. Civil war had broken out; the Spanish people caught in between two ideas: the English are dogs and deserve to be put down, and the war is an unconscionable thing that should end and never be spoken of again.

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For a few years all was quiet once more, but then came the Autumn of 1573. A massive crop failure in the North had brought on a new wave of rioting. The king had sent his most trusted men to deal with the problems and aid the families in need. He would have gone himself but his mother lay on her deathbed.

"Do you think me a bad king to shut myself away from the country's problems?" King Edward questioned his wife one night as they lay embracing one another.

"Your mother is gravely ill, only one month after Carlisle was lost to us. You are not a bad king as you have sent others to deal with the matters. What you are is a good son who is helping ease his mother in her time of need."

"Thank you Bella."

"I love you Edward," Bella told him, kissing him lightly as a tear fled down her cheek.

"Hush, my love. No tears."

"But your mother…" Bella drifted off as a sob caught in her throat.

"I will tell you what she told me at Carlisle's funeral. They are both of a decent age and have lived to enjoy life as much as possible. She has been a mother, a wife and has known love. She knows I will be well as I have a beautiful and caring woman at my side to care for me. She has been able to see and know her grandchildren."

"She is not afraid," murmured Bella in disbelief.

"I think she misses Carlisle greatly. It was a sad day when he was taken from us by the infection and my mother's heart never healed from his death. It is almost as if the infection took hold of her too. But as she said, all will be well as long as I have you."

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Beneath the black veil tears poured down Bella's cheeks as she stood in St. George's Chapel by the Quire where he husband lay interred. The king had been teaching their son Anthony on how to rule once the boy turned sixteen. On this day, the sixteenth of March 1586, Anthony had been crowned King and his new wife, Princess Maria of Italy, was crowned the queen consort.

Watch over our son Edward for I cannot be at Court to care for him any longer. He is a man now and it is too hard to be in my widow's weeds around those people. You were old and we had a good many years together, but it doesn't change how I miss you so.

Bella blinked away the tears as she finished her silent thoughts to her departed husband. He was fifty-four when he died in his sleep. A good age for the time and a good death…an easier death than they had faced for Esme's and Carlisle's. Easier than when Tanya was killed by rioters in the City due to taxation issues. But that made it no easier to live on with for Bella. Standing where he was interred Bella realised how Esme must have felt when Carlisle died. She knew as she stood there that her heart would never be whole again for as long as she lived. With a final goodbye to those at rest, Bella quitted the place silently and removed herself to Pembroke, where she planned to live the rest of her life out with her daughter's children; Samuel, Georgia-Rose, Carlisle and Gregory.

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Gregory held his wife as she wept softly, her gaze fixated on the plaque resting in place on the floor. Beside her her brother, the King, held her hand whilst his other held one of his five children. His wife, Queen Maria, stood silently beside him, baby Marie in her arms. Gregory and Helen's children stood stoically beside their parents, saddened at the death of their grandmother. Gregory smiled at Prince Edward placing a red and a purple tulip beneath the plaque to symbolise the love his grandparents had.

"It fits them well," croaked Helen.

King Anthony squeezed his sister's hand, "She's at peace now."

The four adults sigh a little in agreement, remembering Bella's grief for her husband as well as the last few weeks of suffering she endured when she contracted the sweating sickness. After a final moment of silence, the large group left St. George's Chapel and went away for their private mourning of a beloved queen, mother, mother-in-law and grandmother.

There, where King Edward had been interred only five years past, Isabella the Dowager Queen had been also put to rest. As a symbol of the loved they held for one another, their two children had a plaque engraved for them, inlaid beneath their names.

He loved her and she loved him. Together they healed their kingdom and a better place was born. Now, here they rest in love's embrace. For eternity.

The End.


A/N: Thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, favourited and alerted this little story of mine. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I am sorry it has taken me so long to finally finish it, but here it is…complete!

I couldn't have done it without my amazing readers who helped inspire me. Thank you.

~Anna-Margaret

xx