I want to thank you all who have read this story for sticking with it and for all the fantastic reviews. A huge thanks to Jaded79 for beta-ing this story but now it has come to an end so for the last time with this story, let me know your thoughts
A world worth living in.
Two weeks later
There was a buzz of excitement in the air as everyone was led to their guest houses for their stay at the zone. Andrea, Rick, Carl, Lily, Maggie, Glenn and T-Dog were all visiting for Carol and Daryl's wedding. Carol, Andrea and Michonne – who Carol had asked to both be her maids of honour as she just couldn't choose between them – had decided that the men would get ready at Merle and Beth's house, while the girls would get ready at Carol's place. Carol had gone on a trip to town with Andrea and Michonne just two days beforehand to pick out the bridesmaid dresses. Michonne had fussed saying she didn't wear dresses, but Carol had won in the end. She couldn't help but laugh softly when Michonne walked out in the long strapless pale blue dress looking annoyed.
"I'm doing this under great protest," she huffed.
"Your suffering is noted and appreciated," Carol smiled.
"It's a good thing I love you," Michonne smiled.
"I love you too sister," she moved hugging her tightly before stepping back.
Carol could feel her stomach flutter as she slipped on her white gown, she was actually nervous; she never got nervous anymore, but despite the flutters and nerves she couldn't help but smile. This was the happiest day of her life and she couldn't be any more excited about the events that were about to unfold. She could hardly sit still as everyone else fussed around her, doing her hair and makeup.
When Merle tapped on the door to notify the girls that the boys were leaving, Carol fled out of her seat and to the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind her. Andrea doubled over with laughter as Carol poked her head out of the bathroom, asking if it was safe to come out, thinking it had been Daryl at the door attempting to get a sneak peek of her in her dress.
When Beth and Maggie finished taking the last curler out of Carol's long brown hair, they finished her hair and she stood up and walked to the door. Flashing a smile at the women in the room, they followed her outside to the waiting car. Hershel met the car as it pulled up at the small chapel, he opened her door and helped her out.
Carol truly felt like a princess. Her dress swished around her as she stepped out of the car and she held her head high. She smiled brightly as she stepped up the steps of the chapel, Andrea and Michonne stepped in front of her, Andrea was cradling little Rose in her arms as they moved down the aisle. Hershel couldn't help but notice how nervous she looked.
"Are you okay dear?" she asked looking at her.
"Yeah I just… I just wish Sophia was here." Hershel smiled understanding her pain; still to this day he missed his wife and step son.
"Well she is with you in a way, looking down on you and I know she would want you to have a beautiful day." She smiled, nodded. "You ready," he asked. Carol nodded and looked ahead, her eyes searching for Daryl as they stepped through the doors. He stood in his place, his beautiful eyes shining. He was dressed in a black suit with a blue tie and she couldn't help but think he looked so handsome.
The soft drawl of music hummed though the air. Andrea and Michonne walked in front of her and Carol started walking in time with the music. The girls stood off to the side across from Merle and Rick who both stood beside Daryl as Hershel kissed her on the cheek before handing her over to Daryl.
"You're so beautiful," Daryl whispered taking her hand and looking at her in awe. The priest began the ceremony as Daryl gently squeezed Carol's hand. He couldn't believe that he was here, marrying the woman he loved, they had been through so much and there was a time he only dreamed of this day but now it was really here. He pulled himself from his internal thoughts as he heard the priest talking about their vows.
"Both Daryl and Carol have decided to write their own vows. Daryl, if you would like to go first." Daryl turned to Merle, who handed him Carol's ring. He then turned back to Carol, grasping her hands with his own. He gazed into her eyes, showing her all the love he had inside him for her.
"Carol, I've never been one for long speeches, never been real good at expressing myself but today I stand before you, a man in love. You are everything I dreamed of and thought I would never have. I never thought I would find someone who completes me, who makes me want to be a better man. You loved me when I thought no one could, you made me love when I didn't think I could." Carol felt like she was floating. She smiled brightly back at him, feeling tears welling in her eyes at his sweet words. "I never really believed in true love but you made me believe that true love only comes once in a lifetime and my search is over. I promise you a love that will last forever, a love that will never waver in the good times or bad times. I'll always be here whenever you need me. I will be loyal and true to you till the end of my days and I will never abandon you. This is my solemn vow, I love you with everything I am, you're my forever." Daryl finished, slipping the wedding ring on her finger.
"Carol," the priest spoke. Carol took her eyes off Daryl as she took a deep breath, trying to remember what she wanted to say to the man standing before her. The man that she knew she loved and wanted to spend the rest of her life with. She turned to Michonne, who handed Carol the wedding ring with a smile on her face. Michonne's eyes were brimming with tears, and Carol would have to remember to give her a hard time about that. Carol turned back to Daryl, clasping his hands in her own.
"Daryl, when you came into my life I never thought I could be good enough for you. I didn't feel like I deserved you but you made me feel like I did, like I was worthy. I love you with all that I am; you helped bring me to life when I was dead inside. When I thought this world was dark and lonely, and that loving someone would only bring pain; you showed me I was wrong. You are the one that gave me breath, life, a reason to be here." She smiled softly at him before continuing, looking briefly at little Rose who was still in Andrea's arms before turning back to Daryl again. "I will stand with you forever, I will never run, and my love will never fade. I will be there with you through thick and thin. I love who you are, how you try no matter how dire the odds are, how you want to help make this a better world. I've seen your strength and your kindness and you're an amazing man. You make me complete, whole when I was empty inside, you made me want to be better, do better and I love you," she finished slipping the band onto his finger. She could see Daryl's eyes shining with tears, clearly touched by her words. She smiled up at his as the priest began to speak again.
"Daryl Dixon, do you take Carol Thorn to be your lawfully wedded wife?" He was so glad she had decided to be married off by her Christian name, even the slightest thought of that monster of an ex-husband of hers still to this day mad him red with rage. Daryl took a moment to look deep into Carol's eyes before answering,
"I do." He replied, his voice sure and loving.
"Carol Thorn do you take Daryl Dixon to be your lawfully wedded husband?" Carol didn't hesitate.
"I do." She breathed.
"I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride," the priest declared. As the newlywed couple's lips met, everyone stood to their feet clapping and cheering around them. It couldn't have been more perfect.
Six months later.
Daryl watched as his little girl run around the playground with the other kids, he couldn't believe she was one already and that she had finally found her feet after a month of taking a few steps before falling on her bottom. She had said her first word three months ago and he was proud to say it was Dada followed fast by mama and not surprisingly, pop which she had directed at Hershel; to say the older man was thrilled would have been an understatement.
In the time since Daryl and Carol's wedding, Rick and Andrea had tied the knot in a small ceremony at the prison. Carol had been Andrea's maid of honour with Michonne as her bridesmaid. As much as Michonne hated dresses, she had been over the moon when Andrea had picked out a black dress for them to wear, to match her white wedding dress with its black sash. Rick had both Daryl and Carl as his best men and little Lily as the flower girl; it had been a magical day. Andrea was due to give birth any day now and Beth and Merle had announced they were expecting their first child, and to everyone's surprise Michonne and T-Dog had started a relationship.
Today Carol was out with Michonne and some of the men. They had a mission to scout out a base about two hours away, there had been reports of kidnapping and torture going on in that area and they wanted to confirm or deny what was going on. He looked up hearing heavy footsteps coming towards him, seeing Beth jogging and he couldn't help but laugh slightly.
"Beth, you really shouldn't be running around in your condition," he said looking at her large baby belly. "You'll end up dropping that kid out before it's due."
"Merle sent me," she puffed. "There was a call over the radio from Carol's team, they're heading back, something's wrong."
"Well what's wrong? What did they say?," he asked feeling panic burn through him.
"We don't know, they just said there was something wrong with Carol then the radio cut out."
"Stay with Rose." She nodded as he took off running towards the front gate to see Merle helping Carol out of the now stopped car. "What the hell happened?" He ran to her looking her over for wounds.
"She's fine, we got twenty minutes out and she starts throwing up everywhere so we figured we should get her back here before heading out again," Michonne explained.
"I'm fine just feeling a bit off," Carol sighed.
"We have to head back out," Michonne told her, Carol nodded understanding.
"Radio in when you know what the situation is."
"Of course," Michonne nodded hugging her. "Just go see the doc alright, you're no go to us sick." Carol nodded as they headed out again.
"I'm taking you to see Hershel," Daryl told her heading her towards the hospital before she could object.
They sat in the hospital as Hershel moved around them, checking her vitals and asking her a series of questions and requesting a urine sample. He had stepped out for about five minutes before he returned smiling at them.
"Well I guess from the smile on your face I'm not dying," she laughed softly.
"No, not dying," he nodded.
"Well then what the bloody hell is wrong with her?" Daryl all but yelled feeling panicked. How could they be so flip? This was her health.
Carol felt bad for him, she could see his worry, but she had suspected what was wrong the moment she started throwing up. She had been tired lately, had tender swollen breasts and the biggest hint was her period was over a month late, the only reason she had gone on the mission was because it was just a scout, strictly observation only.
"Daryl, relax I'm okay," she smiled. "I'm guessing what Hershel just discovered was that I'm pregnant."
"That's correct," Hershel smiled. Daryl couldn't believe it, she was pregnant; they were going to have another baby.
"You're pregnant?" he gasped moving his hand over her taut belly.
"Looks like," she smiled, giggling when he pulled her off the bed and spun her around. "I love you so much Mrs. Dixon," he smiled kissing her hard before pulling back.
"I love you too Mr. Dixon," she smiled.
So much had happened since the world had become overrun with walkers, so much loss, so much pain but somehow through the darkness, a light had shone for them all – that there was hope, that the world may become a better place, hope that it would become a world worth living in. A world worth fighting for, and Daryl and Carol knew as long as they had each other and their beautiful children, they had it all and they would fight to the very end to keep it.