She laughs and quotes Hamlet the first time he asks her. "We will have no more marriages."
The second time he asks, she protests more strenuously. "I'm no good at marriage, darling. Neither are you. This is better. This is good. Let's leave well enough alone, shall we?"
The third time, she says simply, "Yes."
They are married again on a cool fall day, a little more than a year after their reconciliation.
All their assorted children and grandchildren are in attendance, even Duke, who calls her Lucy and pulls her into a bear hug. She almost loses her thin grip on composure when he apologises for coming between them the first time around. It's all she can manage to pat his cheek and shake her head quickly, before she has to turn away, blinking.
Dear boy. It was never him; it was always her.
Lily is present as well, along with Holden and the kids. All has been forgiven for a while now, thank heavens, ever since her daughter realised she was serious about staying out of her hair.
She has other priorities now.
Bianca has flown in from New York with her husband and children. Andy is there with his daughter, camera in hand. Margo and her family sit with Sierra and Lucy and she can't help but think of those who are missing from that particular family portrait.
Her once and future niece Pamela, approaches with an elderly lady in tow: John's sister, Annette, whom she'd never managed to meet when they'd been in-laws. "I'm surprised it took this long," the other woman says. "He's loved you forever."
She smiles. "I've loved him longer. But we're a stubborn pair, your brother and I."
The regret is left unspoken, but she can see it reflected back at her from Annette's sad eyes.
And then it's time.
As always, they eschew tradition and walk down the aisle together, arm in arm. He wears a tuxedo, she a red satin ball gown. He's always liked her in red.
Diamonds in the shape of a bathtub glitter from the centre of her neckline.
They stick with the usual vows: to have, to hold, to honor, to cherish. The words don't matter; they've said them before. What matters is her hands in his, the meeting of their eyes, the touch of their lips, the joining of their hearts, together again as though they were never apart.
And maybe their hearts never were.
She always assumed it would be her first. She's older and her health has been iffy since the last bout of cancer, but she hoped she had a few more good years left to give him.
He sits her down late one summer's evening, holds her hand, and lays it out for her. "I'm sick, dear. Cancer. I've got…six months, maybe a year. No more."
Silence. The night grows colder, darker. He doesn't let go of her hand. She doesn't let go of his.
"We have a pact," she says eventually. Neither of us know what the future holds, he'd reminded her once, not so long ago. Nobody knows.
"That we do."
"So ask me again."
The third time he asks her, she says, "Yes."
A/N: I missed a lot between 1991 and 2010 so if something doesn't make sense, that's why. Also, I own nothing. Thanks for reading.