Author's Note: Please note that this final chapter is rated M for the first part and drops down to a safer K+ after the line break. (I tried to keep it more accessible, but I am a sucker for those in bed moments.) If I tell you what this story means to me, I shall start to cry. If I tell you what your reviews and support has meant to me, I shall start to cry. So instead I will offer a simple thank you and express my hope that I have managed to do the first year of Chuck and Blair's marriage (and their first few months as parents to baby Henry) justice.

December 2, 2013

Her fingers claw at the sheets, grip tightly as her eyes squeeze shut behind the silk mask shielding her from the morning sun. Her mouth falls open and a breathy moan escapes, but the noise is smothered by the duvet over his head.

Yet he smiles against her thigh and continues to skim his lips against her skin because he knows what he cannot hear, knows her better than he knows himself. Her legs move to part further, move to open wider for him as she gives up any pretense of continuing to sleep.

And Chuck continues to taste her just as he wishes, to feast in that slow and thorough manner she has become accustomed to. He knows just how tightly to wind her up, knows when to ease back and lightly lap until she is left teetering and desperate against him. Her thighs tighten against him, try to hold him in place and spur him onward. And when he refuses, Blair's exasperation grows and she releases the sheets just long enough to slap her hand down against the duvet and force him to comply.

He chuckles darkly against her so that his hot breath tickles her, so that she grows wetter against his lips and his tongue. He keeps her there, holds her on the cusp for a moment longer, and then he gives in because the queen always gets what she wants from her king.

Chuck's grip against her hips slackens as her body does the same, and his fingers slide across her body to the line etched across her skin. He strokes the line as he moves forward and the duvet is thrown away from his head, and he looks at her with bright eyes and disheveled hair as he hoovers with puckered lips just above the mark on her skin.

She brushes him away, slides her hand down to prevent his lips from making contact with the scar. The redness has faded over time and it has recessed into her skin, but she can still feel it and still obsesses over it when she is dressing, when she thinks he's not looking. He catches her hand, squeezes her fingers, and moves her hand out of the way so his lips can finally make contact with the object of her derision.

"Good morning," he greets lazily, happily against her skin.

He raises himself up on his knees, preparing to trail kisses up her body past her bellybutton and her breasts to reach her lips, but her fingers thread through his hair and yank his lips away from her scar. And he knows she's about to chastise him for the attention he lavishes in a place she hates, and he closes his eyes for just a moment because he doesn't know how else to explain what this scar means to him.

The jolt he feels when her hand closes about him ends every thought in his head, and his eyes squeeze shut at the sensation. He cannot form the words much less say them as her grip eases and tightens simultaneously. Chuck hears her chuckle about how easy he is as she releases him, moves to sit on her knees, and press her body against his. She moves her lips to hoover just above his, to ghost and tease as her fingers which had been curled around him begin to stroke his neck, to touch the place that nearly—

The wail carried through the static of the baby monitor on the nightstand causes her to turn to her head, to stare at it in surprise as he falls back against the bed with a thump and an exasperated sigh. She wipes her hand across the front of his pajama top and then pulls down the hem of her negligée as her eyes dart across the bed to try and locate the panties he peeled off her sometime in the morning. Or maybe, she ponders, it was last night.

His fingers hold up the lacy fabric pulled out from under the heavy duvet, and she places a perfunctory kiss of gratitude and apology on his lips in response before sliding off the bed and out of his reach to pull them on. The white robe she tossed over the chaise lounge is hastily pulled on; her feet shoved into the slippers tucked under the chaise. And then she's heading out of their bedroom and down the stairs towards the source of the noise, leaving him on the bed staring up at the ceiling as he tries to steady and calm himself and his breathing.

Yet he cannot help but smile when he hears her greeting through the monitor, when he hears the crying cease as she lifts their little boy up, cuddles him close, and kisses away his tears. He listens for a moment, listens to her coo and soothe and then when he hears her ask their son if he wants to go upstairs and see what Daddy is up to, he gives up any idea of continuing what he started and slides off the bed to take a shower.

The nozzle is turned from cold to hot when he hears the door to their bathroom open, and his icy cold skin begins to turn red and angry as the glass door of the shower steams. The knock against the door causes him to turn his head, to wipe away the steam and see his wife and son standing just on the other side of the door. Over the sound of the running water, he can just barely hear her ask if he's cleaned up, and he pushes open the door in invitation as his reply.

A happy, naked Henry is passed into his hands, and he shields Henry's skin from the relentless beating of the water as Blair drops her robe and peels off her negligée and panties in preparation of joining them. She slides past him with a teasing smile, slides past to take his place under the showerhead, and she immediately flips the nozzle to a temperature that doesn't make her feel as though her skin is on fire.

Her hair becomes damp and then wet, hangs against her back and neck, and yet she does not step out from under the spray as she watches Chuck tickle his son's tiny foot and greet the little boy freshly awoken from his deep slumber. And Henry gurgles and grins in response as he kicks his feet, as his father places a kiss against his open lips.

"I hope you washed out your mouth," she says.

And he chuckles at her comment, although he can tell by her tone that she is still partially serious in her words. He bounces Henry in his arms so the little boy will smile wider, so the little boy will continue to be his happy self while his father kisses his mother, swipes his tongue against her lips and parts them until all she can taste is the minty freshness of mouthwash and toothpaste.

He smirks as he pulls away, laughs as she tries to follow him out of water for more, and she glares at him for attempting to pull her across the line she has so firmly established. She turns away from him, shows him her backside as she reaches for the bottle of shampoo, squeezes a drop into her hair, and then lathers it into her long brunette hair. And then she smirks as Chuck sighs in frustration behind her over her teasing display.

"Blair," he warns darkly, and she turns to watch him watch her as she ducks under the stream of water to wash out the shampoo. She waits just a moment, waits until all the shampoo is gone, and then she reaches behind her to turn down the water to a gentle trickle before tugging him and Henry under the water.

The little boy looks at her in surprise with wide eyes and an open mouth, and then he grins and kicks his legs because he has an affinity with the water. His father's grip tightens as he squirms, as his slippery body slides in his father's arm, as he tries to stare up at the water falling onto his head. Blair reaches up, cups the little baby's head in her hand, and strokes his quickly dampening hair as she smiles over the way he loves this part of their day.

"My little water baby," she coos at him. He looks directly at her, seems to absorb her words and add his agreement as he stuffs his fist into his mouth and rests his head against his daddy's broad chest. She kisses his check and then his ear and, finally, the small bald patch on the back of his head where his hair has rubbed away against the mattress.

Chuck gives him just a moment longer under the gentle spray, and then he steps away because he always worries that it's too much for his tiny baby. Henry fusses over the loss of contact with the water, over the way the air is beginning to chill against his skin as his father opens the glass door and steps out of the warm shower.

Henry's personal towel – the one with his initials monogramed on the hood for his small head – is wrapped around him to warm him, to shield him from the chill, and he is placed in the bouncy seat atop his mother's vanity just long enough for Chuck to wrap his own towel around his hips. The soft, fluffy towel is rubbed gently against Henry's skin in order to wick away the water before his father lays him out on the vanity, unfurls the towel, and secures a diaper in place. The romper he slept in last night is slipped back on him for now, and Henry is secured into the bouncy seat to wait and watch as his parents complete their morning routine.

This well-choreographed dance is performed for him every morning. Hair is blown dry and styled as he watches. Make-up is applied with one hand while the other gently bounces his seat to keep him calm and happy. Dresses and bowties are selected, held up for his approval, and then pulled on quickly as the timer on how content he is begins to run out.

Today, however, one parent's eyes dart across the room when the other is not looking, dart to try and see if a secret is being hidden, and the whole dance seems to take on a darker tone as the timer ticks closer and closer to the end. Today, there is a change in the choreography because his mother gingerly opens the jewelry box where she keeps her favorite pieces – the silver locket she received for her fifth birthday from her father, the string of pearls left to her by her grandmother on her mother's side, the Erickson Beamon necklace for her seventeenth birthday from her husband, and, of course, the two rings she cherishes above all – and finds the rings are no longer nestled in the spot designed specifically for them.

The panic starts to bubble inside her, starts to rise as she tries to remember what she did with her engagement and wedding rings. She distinctly remembers taking them off last night and placing them inside her jewelry box just as she has done every night for the past year. Blair raises her head to ask her husband if he's seen them, pauses when she spies him standing behind her in the mirror hanging above her vanity, and looks at him quizzically because the expression on his face is one she knows intimately – the tell-tale sign of Chuck Bass scheme in progress.

The rings are placed in front of her without a word, stacked one by one with her wedding ring on the bottom and the large engagement ring on the top. The question as to why he took them hangs on the tip of her tongue, but he answers her before she can even allow the first word to slip past her lips.

"I wanted to put your rings on you this morning just as I did a year ago today."

She sits stunned for just a moment, nods her head and holds out her hand in silent agreement. But his hands move to her hips, spin her on the stool until she is facing him and watching him with baited breath. And then ever so slowly he grasps her hand in his and sinks down on bended knee before her. The rings are picked up off the vanity and held reverently in his hand for just a moment as though he seems to be contemplating the significance of what these two bands mean.

There is no hesitation on his part as he slides on the Harry Winston engagement ring – the one she wore alone for only a few hours but was hers and hers alone from the day he bought it, from the day she said she was sure with a kiss and opened up the cocoons of a million butterflies. The wedding ring comes to rest beside the engagement ring on her finger and the act seems almost simple, but there is nothing simple about their love for one another.

He leans up to kiss her, and the press of his lips against her is soft and gentle, sweet and romantic because that's exactly who he is and it matters to him that she knows it. And when the kiss breaks, when he presses her forehead against hers with eyes closed and his thumb caressing the two bands on her finger, he whispers the only words he knows how to say in relation to who they are.

"Three words, eight letters. I'm yours," he affirms. He pauses and swallows. "This last year has proven that we could never be boring. Not as long as we're Chuck and Blair, Blair and Chuck."

His words are met with agreement on her part, with the nod of head against his and the dart of her tongue across her lips. But the whimper, the beginning of a cry for the other person in the room disputes his statement, and Blair amends his declaration for him with a soft laugh.

"Not as long as we're Chuck and Blair and Henry," she corrects, placing an emphasis on the final name to soothe over any hurt feelings that may linger and earning a smile from her husband.

He repeats them back to her, repeats the final name in a sort of reverence she still has not become accustomed to. Because while the idea of life without Chuck and Henry has quickly become unimaginable to her, Chuck still wakes up each morning, sees the evidence that he is Blair's husband and Henry's father, and revels in the realization that he is in fact living a dream – one he previously thought was lost to him forever, one he has lived and loved for the past year.

"Happy Anniversary."