Emily talks with her brother for hours, telling him that she visited Sara's grave every year, hoping to find him there.
It pained Eric that Emily had looked for him for so long and he had not given her a thought in years. The pain of losing his baby sister and wife in the same day was too much, turning him to drink.
Snow and Emily become fast friends. They spend hours talking, Eric catching up with her. The fact that she was an Aunt and now Great-Aunt made Emily very happy. She had a large family that welcomed her with hope arms.
The days of darkness had passed us by, all of it like a distance memory. The hope that our land would see only happy times and brighter days lived within our hearts.
Good fortune had smiled upon us all of late. Eric had been reunited with his sister; Snow gained the loyalty of Darton and the friendship of its new Queen and King. William and I watch our eldest son become Captain of the guard and our eldest daughter settle into being a mother and a wife. Seeing Iris with soot from the blacksmith fire pit on her face often brought a giggle from me and a smile form her father.
Hana, Henry, Willow and Aidan grow taller every single day, Willow being more of a challenge than Eric or Snow liked. Hope was never really a defiant child but her little sister had a stubborn streak a mile wide.
William often tells me to not encourage Willow when she does things that her parents disapprove of but she reminds me of myself at that age. Willow was becoming quiet the beauty and the young men in the castle had taken notice.
Eric asks me to join him in the great room, a worried look on his face. "Lily, do you think Willow is, well…courting any of our young bucks. She's been seen going down to the lake with William's cousin, Daniel Hammond. Can you speak to her about this? She gets angry with her mother and storms off when Snow tries to talk to her. I think a young lady of fourteen should still be chaperoned."
"I agree Eric but your Willow has the so much of you in her that she does as she pleases. I will talk to her today." I squeeze his hand, hoping to rest his worries.
Finding Willow with Daniel in the dining hall, I go sit between them. "Good day niece."
Daniel excuses himself from the table, Willow smiling up at him. "Daniel, do you want to go to the lake later?"
The young boy nods, looking at me with a blush across is cheeks.
"Willow, before you get upset, your father asked me to speak to you. I'll just say it. Are you seeing Daniel?" I try not to smile as I say the words.
"No, he's my friend. He is actually interested in my friend Catherine. I've been helping him court her. His mother doesn't approve of Catherine, her family isn't of nobility." Willow's soft eyes smile back at me.
"Very well but are you courting anyone?" I take her hand, letting her know she can trust me.
"No, I told Da I would never leave him and I won't." In that moment I see the little girl that would curled up in Eric's lap.
"Someday Willow, a man will sweep you off your feet. Just you wait." She hugs me, her brown hair lying soft on my cheek.
"Only if that man is half the man my father is." She bounds out of the dining hall, singing.
I quickly go back to the great room, finding Eric pacing. "Calm yourself my King. Your youngest daughter is not interested in Daniel, in fact she is playing cupid for her friend Catherine. I would even go so far to say, she's still her father's little girl."
Eric rubs his cheek grinning. "This is good to know. Thank you Lily."
Going out toward the garden I see the twins heading out to archery range, bows in hand. William's influence on his youngest children was evident in everything they did.
I still can't believe my children are grown and I have grandchildren. The years seemed to flash by in a blink of an eye.
Finding Snow, we walk out to the courtyard. "Cousin, how did we get here? I still cannot believe all that has transpired in our lives."
Snow looks up to me, the sun giving us its brilliant rays. "I honestly do not know dearest cousin but I am grateful for all of it."
We put our arms around each other's waist, tilting our heads together. For so many years I feared her dead, knew I would never see her again. This moment with her now would have only been a dream back then. God did not grant me a sibling or a sister but he gave me one in Snow.
Turning to go back into the castle we are surprised by our husbands standing before us with roses in hand.
"What is this?" I smile sweetly at my William.
"Our daughters tell us that we spend entirely too much time with horses and solders and not enough time with our beautiful wives." Eric says with a coy look on his face.
William hands me the rose, kissing my hand. "Tonight we are going to dine at the chalet. Iris and Hope are on their way there as we speak and Alaric ensures us a meal fit for a … Queen."
I look over to Eric as he pulls Snow to him, his fingers brushing against her cheek. "I love you Snow."
My heart melts as he kisses her sweetly, her tears wetting her cheeks. "I work up from that first kiss Eric with a fire in my soul that still burns. I first thought that fire was for my need to free my people and avenge my father but I've come to find that it was a fire that was sparked by love, feed with passion and tended with gentle care. Every moment I've had with you has been more than I could have wished. Our first kiss may have been one born out of lost and sorrow but our last will be filled with more love than this world can contain."
William holds me close, kissing my temple. We smile at Snow and Eric, knowing this is exactly how it should be.
A/N: To my readers, thank you for joining me on Lily's journey. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Thank you for all the reviews, I couldn't have continued this without your encouragement.