Well, my fellow readers, this is the last chapter of this story :) It was was so much fun to write and complete this story. I thank all of you who have been reading it and being supportive! It was truly quite an experience. This is the first story I have ever completed and I'm very excited to start writing some new stories and such! I am sad that this story is finished but, I'm glad I stuck with it and kept on writing. Thank you all so much, again! I hope you enjoy the last chapter of the story! :) - Anissa
The reconstructing of the palace was done fairly quickly which meant that the hasty preparations for the ball were being made. In that few months time, the country seemed at peace and everyone was at ease, for once. Also, other progress was being made. Buckingham and Milady were alive and well in prison, where they were to be kept forever. D'Artagnan was making reoccurring visits to the palace to see Arabella, who was fully recovered in about a month. She was soon walking about the palace, helping the Queen with whatever she needed. At the ball, Arabella would be announced as the Queen's new Lady in Waiting. She was to live in the palace for as long as she had that title and be an important member of the Queen's court.
All were excited for the completion of the palace and the ball. When the day came, the whole palace was in an uproar setting up making sure everything was perfect for the grand celebration. Tonight, Buckingham and Milady would not be interfering at all.
It was an hour before the guests would be arriving. Arabella was pacing back and forth nervously in the Queen's chamber as the Queen watched her, clearly amused.
"I don't understand why you're nervous. All I'm going to do is call your name, have you stand by me and announce your role in court to our guests and then, you may say a few words if you wish."
Arabella turned to pace again. "Yes, that I understand. It's just that, I will have all those people staring at me. I'll get so scared and not know what to say!"
"As a Lady in Waiting, you'll have to become accustomed to having people stare at you. I suppose you don't have to say anything when I announce you to the guests. It would be nice, though. I know I cannot force you to do something you do not want so, whatever you feel like doing, it is most definitely your choice," the Queen smiled as she placed a hand on Arabella's shoulder. Arabella returned a smile and bowed to the Queen.
"Thank you, Your Majesty. You have always been so kind to me. I do not deserve-" "Oh, come now, Arabella. You are most deserving. Now, if you will excuse me; I'm going to find my husband and see what he has been up to all day. I expect to see you soon in the ball room, Arabella."
Arabella nodded and bowed once more. "Of course, Your Majesty. I shall see you then."
Once the Queen had left the room, Arabella decided to open the double doors and walk out to the balcony. She watched the other Ladies in Waiting admire one another's dresses and workers help with decorations. The sky was a beautiful orange as the sun set. Arabella sighed at the sight and wondered how she ever ended up so lucky. Just months ago, she was helping her brother and Milady try to take over France, and then she met the Musketeers and her life changed forever. Now, the Musketeers were her closest friends and she was going to become the Queen's Lady in Waiting and live in the palace! Fate has a funny way of changing our lives; whether it is for better or for worse. She could only wonder what the future would hold for her. Would she live in the palace forever? She hoped so. Would Buckingham and Milady try to escape from prison? She really hoped not. Would she have a future with D'Artagnan? She hoped so. The thought made her blush.
Her lovely thoughts were interrupted by the palace clock's bell toll.
"Seven o' clock," Arabella muttered to herself as she walked back into the Queen's chamber and closed the double doors that led to the balcony. She walked over to the chamber door and opened it slightly. She could see the beautiful decorations already. "Let see what happens tonight," she said to herself and closed to door behind her.
"We are going to be late!" D'Artagnan shouted from outside the house. Porthos scoffed as he put on his Musketeer hat. "Did he not do this to us last time there was a bloody ball?"
"He did," Athos said as he walked out the door. He saw D'Artagnan already on Buttercup with his arms crossed.
"I really would like to get there on time," D'Artagnan said.
"We will," Athos said as he got on his horse. Aramis walked outside and got on his horse, as well.
"What is it that is happening tonight again?" Aramis asked as he slipped on his black gloves.
"Arabella is going to become a Lady in Waiting for the Queen," D'Artagnan said for the one hundredth time today.
"Ah, yes! Forgive me, D'Artagnan; I had forgotten."
"It's alright, Aramis."
"We need to wait for one more person," Porthos announced as he got on his horse.
D'Artagnan groaned. "Who?"
"Planchet," Athos said.
Planchet stumbled out of the house. "I'm sorry, Sirs! I was fixing my hair!"
Athos stared at Planchet, not amused. "Planchet, is that one of my hats?"
Porthos laughed out loud and Athos turned to quiet him down. "Er-yes, Sir," Planchet began, "I needed a hat and my others looked ghastly! So I says to myself, 'I ought to get another hat! Why not borrow Sir Athos's hat?' And so, I-"
"Get to the point, Planchet," Athos commanded.
"Yes, Sir. I first used another hat but it did not really fit my head that well so I had to adjust it, which ended up ruining it. So, I found this one and it's perfect." Planchet confessed. This caused Porthos to laugh even louder. Athos said nothing and his horse rode away. Aramis followed, along with Porthos.
"I think he's upset with me," Planchet sighed.
D'Artagnan smiled. "No, no, no, Planchet. He's not upset with you. Well, maybe he is a tad bit upset but, it'll all be forgotten by the end of the night. That's just Athos."
"Thank you, Sir. You're too kind," Planchet said happily.
"So are you, Planchet. So are you. There's another horse waiting for you over there," D'Artagnan said as he pointed to a chestnut colored horse that was waiting for a rider. Planchet was soon on the horse and he and D'Artagnan caught up with the Athos, Porthos and Aramis. In a short time, they arrived at the palace and were soon entering the ballroom.
"They really outdo themselves with decorations each time they have a ball," Aramis said as they walked into the ballroom.
"Indeed they do," Athos said as he gently moved a golden drape out of his face. D'Artagnan looked all around the room for Arabella. He made a face when he didn't see her and leaned against a pillar with his arms crossed.
"She's standing on the stairs," Athos whispered to D'Artagnan. D'Artagnan turned to Athos. "What?" He asked.
"Arabella. She's standing on the stairs, boy. She is who you were searching for, was she not?"
"Yes, she was," D'Artagnan said as he looked around the room for the staircase.
Athos grabbed his shoulders and moved him to face forward. "Are you blind? It's right in front of you!"
"Oh!" D'Artagnan exclaimed as he saw that the staircase was actually across the room in front of him. Then he saw Arabella in a coral colored gown, standing on the last step of the staircase near the King and Queen. She was preoccupied with whatever she heard them talking about.
"Well, are you going to go to her or not, boy?" Athos asked.
"Yes, I am. It would be rude if I did not. Thank you, Athos," D'Artagnan said, turning to Athos and smiling at him before he strode across the room with confidence.
Athos chuckled. "You're welcome, D'Artagnan."
"Don't fret, Arabella. Try to look calm," The Queen said to her.
"At least I'm not nervous anymore. It's more of a feeling of excitement and anxiousness now."
"Well, good. Keep it that way. Oh, look who has arrived," The Queen smiled as she glanced at Arabella.
Arabella looked up. "Who? Oh." D'Artagnan was now standing in front of the two and bowed.
"Your Majesty," he said.
"Hello. And hello, Arabella." D'Artagnan kissed her hand and stood next to her.
"May I say that you look beautiful?" He asked.
"You may," Arabella smiled.
"When are they going to do the greeting and talk about you?"
"In a short while. I'm quite anxious."
"I would be too. Why aren't any people dancing yet? I really wanted to dance with you" D'Artagnan said.
Arabella laughed. "No dancing until after the King and Queen make their greeting to the guests and then you and I may dance."
"That better be soon, then. You and I shall dance the first dance and all the other dances," D'Artagnan smirked.
"If you say so."
"Arabella, it is time for the King and Queen to do the greeting and announce your new role in the court," a Lady in Waiting said as she walked up to Arabella.
"Oh, thank you," Arabella said to her. She looked at D'Artagnan. "Then I suppose I should go. I'll come back to you once it is finished."
"And I'll be with the other Musketeers. Don't be nervous," D'Artagnan said.
"Oh, I'm not nervous... Maybe a little," Arabella frowned.
D'Artagnan laughed and gave her a quick kiss which caused Arabella to blush.
"D'Artagnan!" She scolded. "What if someone saw you?"
"You're blushing," D'Artagnan winked.
"I am? Oh, now look what you have done," Arabella buried her face in her hands.
D'Artagnan pulled her hands away from her face. "They're going to be mad at you because you have not shown up yet," he smiled.
"Well then, stop distracting me," Arabella laughed and walked away to join the King and Queen.
"It's about time," The King remarked.
"Shh, husband," the Queen scolded. "Ready, Arabella? Your face is quiet red. Are you alright?"
"Yes, I'm fine."
"I hope you are. Dear, let's start the greeting."
The King nodded and whispered a word to one of the butlers. Soon, the men that were welcoming people at the door blew the trumpets they had in hand and announced that the King and Queen would like to say a few words. The festivities ceased and now, all eyes were on the King, Queen and Arabella.
"Hello, wonderful friends. My wife and I would like to thank you for joining us in the celebration of a new era. It is an era free from villains, such as Buckingham and Milady De Winter. Our palace is now back to the way it was before those two. We don't have to fear anymore. We have the Musketeers to thank for that," the King stated and began clapping as he looked in the direction of the Musketeers. Arabella, the Queen and the whole crowd turned to them and applauded the four men.
Porthos smiled and raised his cup of wine. Athos gave a quick smile and nodded and Aramis clapped and bowed. D'Artagnan smiled and nudged Athos to keep smililing until he finally gave in.
"And we have someone else to thank for that, as well!" The Queen piped up. The guests drew their attention back to the King, Queen and Arabella and listened to what the Queen had to say. The Queen leaned towards Arabella and placed a hand on her shoulder. "This is Arabella. She was a grand help to the Musketeers. She is a very kind, brave girl and for that, I have decided that she is to become a new member of the court by becoming a part of my Ladies in Waiting. So, dear friends, I introduce you to Lady Arabella, my new Lady in Waiting."
As soon as the Queen finished speaking and announced Arabella's new role, everyone in the room was clapping once more. Arabella looked across the room at the Musketeers who were making faces at her and clapping. Planchet and Aramis cheered for her while Porthos whistled and earned glares from D'Artagnan and other guests.
Arabella knew she had to say something so she bowed and managed to say "Thank you."
"Louder! People in the back cannot hear you!" She heard Porthos yell, followed by a stern "Be quiet," from an embarrassed, angered Athos.
Arabella smiled and say thank you loudly to the audience, who had slowed their applauded. She waited until the applauding had ceased.
"Thank you. I-I am truly honored to become part of the Royal court. The King and Queen have been nothing but wonderful to me ever since I had met them. I am very anxious to be a part of life here in the palace, and I look forward to what the future has in store," Arabella finished. All the guests began to applaud her again. The Queen hugged Arabella and the King said a few kind words and talked about the lovely decorations in the ballroom. After all of that was finished, the festivities began again and soon guests were eating, drinking, socializing and dancing.
"We are very proud of you, Arabella," The Queen said to her.
"We are? Oh! Yes, that we are," The King quickly added.
Arabella bowed. "Thank you so much."
"Oh, don't thank us. Go enjoy yourself," The King smiled as he put his arm around the Queen.
"I shall. Thank you," Arabella said again as she walked across the room to find her friends.
"All for one and none for all!" Porthos exclaimed as he gulped down his wine.
"Well, you're selfish," Aramis said.
Porthos laughed. "Aramis, I am the least selfish person I have ever met."
"Are you now? I beg to differ," Aramis said as he watched a group of women walk by.
"Why don't you go be their chaperone?" Porthos smirked.
Aramis looked at him. "Why don't you?"
"Alright," Porthos said quickly and left to go follow the women. Aramis shook his head and laughed.
"Where is Sir Porthos going?" Planchet asked.
Aramis shrugged, still laughing. "Who knows, Planchet."
"He'll scare them off," Athos muttered.
"Probably," D'Artagnan chuckled.
"Hello, boys," Arabella smiled as she joined them a few minutes later.
"Boys?" Porthos said behind her. Arabella laughed and turned around.
"I thought you had left with the women, Porthos," Aramis said.
"I scared them," Porthos sighed.
"Like I said you would," Athos smiled.
"Never mind that," Porthos glared, "Anyway, congratulations, Lady Arabella. You're in the royal court now. How do you feel?"
"I feel fine?"
"Glad to hear that! We are proud of you, girl." Porthos smiled.
"Indeed," Athos said.
"You deserve it, Arabella. We couldn't have captured Buckingham or Milady without your tremendous help," Aramis smiled.
"We are going to miss you, Arabella," Planchet said sadly.
"I'm going to miss you all, as well. Don't worry. You all may visit whenever you may like."
"And you may visit us whenever you are able to," Athos said.
"Thank you, Athos," Arabella smiled.
"And-and when you visit, I shall prepare a wonderful feast!" Planchet announced.
Porthos' eyes widened at the sound of a wonderful feast. "Then by all means, Arabella! Visit everyday!"
"I shall try!" She laughed. Oh, how she loved her friends.
"D'Artagnan, why do you have that look on your face?" Aramis asked.
"Because I'm getting impatient. I really would like to dance with Arabella."
Arabella looked at D'Artagnan then back at the Musketeers.
"He can wait," Athos laughed.
Arabella smiled. "Well, I did promise him. Alright, D'Artagnan. Let's go dance."
D'Artagnan quickly led her to the dance floor and began to dance with her. "How often can I visit you?"
Arabella blushed. "As often as you'd like. No, actually, as often as the Queen allows."
"Well, she likes me so; I'll be here a lot."
"I hope so," Arabella smiled and kissed him.
"Well, what happened to you being worried about people seeing us?"
"Well, at the moment I simply do not care."
D'Artagnan stopped dancing and kissed her passionately, not caring who would see.
"Neither do I."
Arabella laughed and began dancing with him again. "What do you suppose the future holds in store, D'Artagnan?"
He looked at her. "For everyone or for you, or for me, or for us?"
Arabella thought for a moment and then answered him. "For us."
"For us? Hmm, let's see. What does the future have in store for us? I can't say exactly but I know that it's going to be pretty wonderful."
"Oh, I'm sure it will be. I love you, D'Artagnan," Arabella said quietly.
D'Artagnan leaned closer to her. "Sorry, I didn't hear you."
"I said, I love you." Arabella blushed.
D'Artagnan was blushing, also. "I love you too, Arabella. The future with you is going to be amazing."
"It shall be." Arabella sighed happily. Porthos' whistle was heard across the room. Both D'Artagnan and Arabella turned towards him. Athos was glaring at Porthos, Aramis was hiding his face in embarrassment and Planchet was clueless as to what was going on.
"I'm watching you two!" Porthos exclaimed. D'Artagnan rolled his eyes and Arabella laughed. Life was going to be pretty interesting with her new lifelong friends. The future will truly be one grand adventure after the other.
And there you have it, haha. I truly hoped you enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed writing it! Once again, thank you all so very much! :) Love you, guys! - Anissa