Epilogue

"Daddy, were you crying earlier?"

"Yeah, Sweetie, I was."

"What's wrong?"

"I got some sad news earlier. My Grampa Rick and Gramma Kate… well… you know how at their 50th Anniversary party, they said they were going to do some travelling?"

"Uh huh. To the Holy Lands."

"That's right. You're a smart little girl. Well, they were on their way home. And their plane went down over the ocean. It hasn't been found yet."

"Oh. Are they dead?" He cringed a little at his four-year-old's lack of tact.

"Uh… well… we don't know. But… probably."

"Daddy? Can I have that old picture of Gramma Kate when she's little and playing with her mom and dad? The one with the ring? 'Cause she looks just like me. Plus, it's okay, because didn't Mommy say at the anniversary party that they were the kind of old people who would die at the same time; you know, if one died from being so so old, then the other would just die from missing them a week later?"

"I'm sure Mommy said it in a much sweeter way, but yes, I think they were that kind of couple. And I'm sure Gramma Kate would love for you to have that picture. That's her mother's engagement ring, you know."

"I know. She told me all about it, and how Grampa Rick had the frame made for her. It was very romantical." The little girl had a wistful smile.

"It was."

"If they get found, can I put her 'Always' ring on the chain,too?"

"We'll see, baby." She didn't notice how sad he looked.

"I asked Great Aunt 'Lexis how old Grampa Rick and Gramma Kate were at the party. She said, 'Older than dirt.' How old is that?"

He laughed. "Aunt Alexis is a trip, isn't she? Let's see… I think she would be 85 and he would be 92."

"Wow… that is really old!"

He smiled. "Okay, Sweetheart, what bedtime story would you like?"

"How 'bout the one he wrote for you when you were a little boy?"

"Perfect choice, m'lady."

He went to the book case and took the book from a box on a high shelf, where it was protected from tiny fingers. He snuggled up next to his biggest daughter - the other was asleep in her crib - and wrapped his arm around her.

"Grampa Rick used to read this to us when we spent the night, and Gramma Kate would sigh and roll her eyes and smile through the whole thing. But she always listened to it, all the way through. And they'd give each other sappy looks and smile."

He took a deep breath and wondered if his sisters and their cousins were all getting out the same book right now.

"A Minstrel's Tale, by Richard Castle."

He dramatically opened the cover to read the dedication. "To our grandchildren. May you have courage and strength, wisdom and honor, kindness and mercy. May you act as a valiant knight fighting for justice and with compassion. Know that you are loved greatly, always."

He turned the page and began the story. He knew exactly where each of the sighs, eye rolls, sappy looks, and smiles would take place if his grandparents were in the room. He tried to imitate his grandfather's rich, expressive voice as he read. His little girl snuggled closer, delighted in the vivid pictures, and listened to the magical words.

"Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young maiden, Lady Katherine of Beckett. She was schooled in the arts and sciences and lived a joyful life with her parents, Lord James and Lady Johanna. There had been rumors of a dangerous dragon lurking about in the nearby mountains, and one day, that dragon swooped down and gobbled Lady Johanna up. Lady Katherine was deeply saddened and vowed to slay the evil dragon. However, the king's law required one to be a knight before embarking on a dragon-slaying quest. Emboldened by stories of Joan of Arc and Mulan, Lady Katherine decided to become a knight herself. She spent several years in the uniform of a squire, then finally earned the coveted dubbing of knighthood.

However, the dragon proved difficult to find. He was sinister and intelligent. He hid from her for many years. So Lady Katherine set off on many other worthy quests. She found justice for peasants and nobles alike. It was difficult labor. So in the evenings, she would relax by the fire with scrolls of stories from the castle's minstrel. She had seen him before, once, and found him to be quite ruggedly handsome.

Yet one day, she found herself needing his help. She donned her shield and weapon and went into the castle's front gate. 'Sir Richard the Minstrel?' she asked when she found him. He turned and was immediately besotted. She was perhaps the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. He helped the beautiful lady knight, then requested that the king grant him permission to accompany her on her journeys. Lady Katherine at first did not appreciate his intrusion, but quickly warmed, as much thanks to the minstrel's enchanting daughter as to his magnetic charm and rapier wit. The minstrel often was able to help her accomplish her quests and cheer her disposition. He quickly learned that the life of a knight was dangerous and purchased his own suit of armor.

Together, they journeyed far and wide, undertaking quests of the most bizarre nature, the ones the other knights dared not to endeavor. Then, one dark day, the dragon returned, striking down a fellow knight, one that had become dear to both Lady Katherine and Sir Richard. And as they laid their comrade to rest, the dragon struck again, piercing Lady Katherine with its razor-sharp talons.

Sir Richard was desolate and despairing, for he had fallen in love with the fair knight. But she did not die. Slowly, she was nursed back to health. Lord James and Sir Richard never left her side, aiding her in any way they could until she regained her strength. Lord James encouraged the minstrel to make his love known to Lady Katherine, for he suspected that she secretly returned his love. Sir Richard accepted the sage advice and, through dashing chivalry, won his lady's heart.

They joyfully married and continued their noble quests as well as their search for the hated dragon. Until they found him. The battle was heated. Other knights joined the fight, but at long last, the tired and injured beautiful knight faced the dragon with the minstrel, just as tired and injured, by her side. And there, she found justice. The beast would never hurt anyone again. It was done.

The minstrel took his wife back to their manor. But their rest did not last long, for the kingdom was constantly in need of a knight in shining armor. They continued helping all the people of the land, and welcomed two more beautiful children along the way, just as spirited and courageous as their parents, also helping those in their paths who needed it. They each had trials but persevered through them by counting on one another, having faith, and believing in magic and double rainbows. In the end, Lady Katherine and Sir Richard lived a long and fulfilled life, together, always. The end."

He kissed his daughter's head as her eyes drooped shut.

He looked at the cartoon drawing of his grandparents in their suits of armor. "I'll miss you guys."

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Okay! That's it! I borrowed the storybook title & idea from Minstrel164's story, which you can read here: .net/s/7234754/1/ . It's a cute story of Rick talking to Kate while she's in a coma, telling her the story of the pilot episode in the style of Chaucer.

I'd be super happy if you bounced over and read my other stories, reviewing them along the way, because you know how I feel about reviews. I've already written the first chapter of my next story, so if you want to read it, click on all those alert boxes below.

And for the record, in real life, I don't cuss or talk about sex, so writing it weird for me; but I totally agree with what Jim said about faith & God & Christ.

And to you younger readers like TAS2014, don't forget this is fiction. Sex isn't a good idea with someone you're not married to, because it makes the heartbreak and memories so much tougher to bear when the relationship ends. People almost never end up with their first love. Please believe me, it's worth the wait.

God bless, thanks for reading, and please review. Because they're addictive like seeing everyday miracles.