Queen of My Country, Queen of My Heart

by Alex Tryst

copyright November 2002

Disclaimers: First and foremost in order to enjoy this piece to its fullest, you must employ what is referred to in literature as "the suspension of disbelief". Secondly I must note here that I neither condemn nor condone certain medical technologies such as cloning. Additionally you need to throw everything you know about the American government and monarchies in general out the window. Lastly but just as important, this book isn't like my others. You must know ahead of time that there is anguish like I've never written, so tissues are a must. My beta reader even recommends a whole box.

Dedication: As always, to my wife, you are my fondest wish. To the specific inspiration for this particular piece though, I must credit my father-in-law in as much as it stems from one of his casual history lectures over a leisurely dinner where he so proudly informed me that back after America had won its independence from England, there was debate over whether or not George Washington should become king of our new nation. You will see American historical icons as you have never seen them before as I have grossly manipulated U.S. history, but all in fun of course.

Now on with the show..................................................................................................................

Part 3

Chapter Seven: And Baby Makes Three

In early January of the following year a gala was held at the palace in honor of Alexa's twenty-second birthday. The great banquet hall would be full of royals from all over the country and the world to pay their respects to the up and coming ruler. As Lara dressed that night in her formal blue gown that perfectly matched her eyes, she thought about the day. Alexa had unfortunately been out of town on business, but it had given the blonde time to sneak to the doctor while her wife was away to receive the news both of them had been hoping desperately for. The little woman idly rubbed the velvet material covering her midsection as she eyed herself in the mirror. She had started to feel different over the last few weeks, noticing subtly changes in her habits. Her appetite for food had started to transform itself from only eating when necessary to all out bizarre cravings at times, and she also noted a change in quantity. She didn't think it was large enough to be noticeable to Alexa yet, so she hoped that night she would surprise her wife with the news of their first child. She was also having a little bit of trouble sleeping causing her late starts in the mornings.

Lara took one last look at herself in the mirror and played with the tresses around her face. She had put her long blonde hair up that night, exposing her porcelain supple neck, knowing Alexa would like it that way. She centered the diamond and topaz necklace, a royal heirloom that Victoria had so gracious bestowed upon her shortly after coming back from the honeymoon. Just then there was a knock on the door before Alexa announced herself from the other side. When Lara went to open it, she saw the appreciative eyes of her wife as they trailed over her petite form.

"Here. I came to deliver this." the brunette stated as evenly as possible even though her libido sprang to life at the display before her as she held up a diamond tiara in her hand. "May I?" She waited until her wife had given her consent in the form of a nod before placing the delicate crown on her fair head. "You look stunning, Lara."

"Thank you. You look quite dashing yourself." she replied taking in the Alexa's black suit and blue shirt that impeccably matched her dress. On her head was her crown, and she was wearing a gleaming grin.

The blonde smiled at her wife nervously. She had wondered how to broach the subject with her about the baby but decided she shouldn't spring it on her in front of everyone at the party like she had done with the engagement. However she knew she wouldn't be able to keep it to herself the entire evening either. Deciding that she should just tell the tall woman before they went to the gala, she pulled Alexa into her room by the arm and closed the door. "Lex, before we go downstairs, there is something I wanted to tell you."

Seeing Lara's blue eyes flashing with nervousness, the princess wondered exactly the blonde was about to say. Cautiously she inquired, "What is it, Lara?"

The little princess took a deep breath before asking, "Lex, if you had to make a wish tonight on your birthday, what would it be?"

"That's easy. I would wish you were pregnant."

Lara smiled up at the tall woman. "Well, that wish has come true."

"What? You're pregnant? How do you know? We aren't supposed to go to the doctor until tomorrow."

"I went today while you were still away, because I was hoping to surprise you with it. I knew, but I wanted them to confirm it before saying anything."

"You really are pregnant?" Alexa inquired with hesitancy. Lara nodded. "Wow. That is so amazing. May I?" She gestured to the small woman's stomach. Lara took the larger hand in her own and pressed it against her flat midsection. "There's really a baby in there?"

"Yeah. Pretty crazy, isn't it?"

"More than one?" questioned the princess.

"They don't know yet, but there is at least one."

"I can't believe it. My parents are going to be so excited."

"I thought maybe you'd like to announce it tonight. All our parents will be there as well as most of your friends." she suggested.

"Maybe but maybe we should wait until breakfast tomorrow. It's still early, and I would hate to announce it to the public until things are more stable." Alexa replied as she looked down at the woman she still loved. The news of Lara carrying her child was surreal, because it was something she had dreamed about since the first time she was alone with the woman, and after all they had been through emotionally, the blonde was indeed pregnant. Giving her wife's stomach a little rub, Alexa whispered, "Thank you, Lara. This truly is the best present I could ever get."

"You're welcome, Lex. Happy birthday."

With a smile Alexa extended her arm to the blonde. "Shall we go, my princess?"

Returning the grin Lara took the offered assistance, picking up the hem of her long dress slightly off the floor. Together they walked down the corridor that led to the grand staircase where they would make their entrance. The king and queen had to take the elevator due to his condition and were waiting on the two princesses to process first. They paused at the top of the stairs and waited until Alfred formally announced their arrival. Upon hearing him introduce them, they swept down the marble staircase, Alexa gazing fondly upon her wife and showing their company how happy they at least appeared to be.

Lara subtly watched as the crowd bowed when the two of them processed through the stately hall. It still took her by surprise that these people were not only bowing for the crowned princess, but they were bowing before her as well, a modest school teacher that was now on the arm of the future queen. The moment was always overwhelming for her, and she often wondered how Alexa had managed to do it for her entire life. Moving to their position at the end of the room at the head table, they waited for Alexa's parents. The same affair occurred with them except even the brunette bowed humbly before her father and waited until he and her mother were comfortably seated before pulling out Lara's chair.

The evening passed in a similar fashion as most events at the palace with dinner and dancing. Traditionally the highest ranking royal set the tone of the evening with the dancing, but since the king was unable to participate in the activity, he demanded that he be allowed to watch Alexa and Lara enjoy themselves. Knowing it would please her father greatly, Alexa asked the blonde to share in the first dance.

Lara knew that it was protocol and not an option to decline, so she accepted and took her wife's hand. Going to the floor, Alexa moved to embrace the little woman gently around the waist with one arm as the other held her wife's hand. As the crowned princess began to maneuver them around the large floor, her dark eyes met Lara's blue ones. There were no words at what she was feeling at the moment. She was truly overcome by a tide of emotions at the thought of the woman in her arms carrying her child and the sacrifices the little woman had made on her behalf, giving up all she had ever dreamed of to become her bride.

As much as it still hurt her to think back on the horrible incident they had over their honeymoon, Alexa couldn't help but have feelings of adoration for the blonde. She loved her with everything she was, and the feeling hadn't changed the eight months she had known her. However she still didn't know how the small woman felt toward her after all that time. She hoped that Lara had at least remained in a place of friendship even though Alexa had rejected the idea of it at first, but the princess ached for the blonde to return her more intimate feelings.

"Lara." she whispered.

"Yes, Lex?" she asked matching her wife's tone.

"Would you mind if I kissed you in front of all these people? It would just seem appropriate." she mentioned.

Lara knew Alexa was just using their public audience as an excuse as she often did in order to get closer to her, but she knew denying the request was not a choice. She had quickly come to recognize opportunities to advance a positive married image as well as the tall woman, and this was definitely a beneficial chance to promote their seemingly blissful relationship in public. "I don't mind." she answered.

As soon as she consented, Alexa leaned down toward her as both arms pulled her petite frame closer. Their lips met gently at first before melding into a more intimate display of affection. Lara's eyes fluttered closed as her wife kissed her. Over the course of time, the feeling of Alexa's touch had transformed itself, as had her emotions toward the princess. What had started as displeasure had moved into neutrality and then every once in awhile Lara found herself enjoying the attention. This kiss was one such occasion as she found her body responding in a way it never had, a heat radiating from her core as the tall woman's tongue probed passed her lips. Lara found herself reacting in kind as her arms pulled the brunette even closer. Long seconds passed before the kiss came to its mutual conclusion.

When Alexa pulled away, she eyed her wife closely. She felt like the blonde had returned all the fervor she had bestowed into the exchange, but she wasn't quite sure. Unable to resist she went back a second time, this time leaving a lingering peck against the pink pliant lips of her wife. Lara allowed her to do so again, making her wondering if the petite woman was still acting, because Alexa knew she wasn't.

Deciding not to pursue the matter at the moment sparing the risk of an argument on what had been such a pleasant and eventful day, she smiled at Lara. "You know, Lara, you would think on my birthday, I could at least get the music I want to hear." she stated playfully. "This waltz stuff has just got to go. Let's liven up the place, shall we?"

"What are you going to suggest?" the blonde questioned in curiosity.

"Something we young people can really dance to. I mean it's my party, and my parents don't even dance any more. Don't you think I should get my way?"

"I guess." Lara answered with a grin. She knew Alexa had a surprise waiting for her when she requested new music. The king and queen had asked her what Alexa's favorite group was to have them play that night, and the standard orchestra was just a ploy to throw the princess off their real intentions.

"Come on." Alexa said moving them toward the musicians. Making the request the only answer she received was that they would try to play more contemporary tunes. The music stopped for a few minutes, and the orchestra exited in order to regroup was their excuse, leaving the party without music at all. Taking the opportunity, Alexa decided to visit with the guests. Coming up to her best friend, she hugged Gwen tightly.

"Happy birthday, Lex." she said.

"It certainly is, because I've got my two favorite ladies with me." she teased flirtingly.

Gwen laughed lightly. "Oh, no you don't. You're a happily married woman now. No flirting."

"I am happy." Alexa said looking across the way to see her wife with other guests.

"I'm glad. You two just seemed to have a rough start. Glad to see things are working themselves out now."

"They're working out rather well now. I guess it just took some time." she said turning a smile on her friend. "Now all we have to do is find you a man."

Gwen laughed lightly. "I'm not ready to settle down, Lex. If I said no to you, what makes you think any man would get me to say yes to them? After all you had all the things I wanted."

"Give or take a few." the princess joked.

"Yeah, give or take a few." Gwen repeated in agreement. "Seriously though, why would I want to marry? I already have all I need and want. What do I really need a husband for?"

Alexa shrugged. "Don't know what the attraction might be." she teased again.

"You are in an especially good mood tonight." the tall blonde stated observantly. "Is something going on that you aren't telling me?"

"I'm not at liberty to discuss my relationship with Lara. You know that."

"But there is something?" pushed Gwen. "Is she pregnant?"

"Gwyneth Jefferson, I'm warning you. You know she and I have a disclosure clause in our agreement that prohibits us from telling anyone anything without the other's consent. You'll just have to wait and wonder."

"Man, you used to tell me everything, Lex. I hate having to share you with Lara sometimes. I used to get all the juicy gossip." she quipped.

As Alexa was talking with Gwen, Lara noticed that the new band had entered the ballroom. The princess however seemed none the wiser as to what was going on, so when the group began without even an introduction, the blonde saw her wife's head jerk in the direction of where the orchestra had been. Seeing who was playing, she gave a beaming smile in the direction Lara's direction and then her parents before moving to them.

"Oh, Mom, Dad, this is quite a surprise. How did you know I liked them?" she inquired kneeling next to her father's wheelchair.

"Your precious wife told us. I'm glad you're happy, Alexa. I wanted to give you the best birthday possible." her father answered touching her face in affection. "Now make me happy by sharing a dance with your mother in my place."

"Of course. Mom, would you care to dance?"

When the two of them got to the floor, everyone parted to give mother and daughter room. Dutifully Alexa took the lead between them, giving her mother a dance before the queen relinquished her daughter to Lara again saying, "Allow me to watch you two together. That's what makes your father and me the happiest."

The following morning after the late night, Alexa arose at her usual time for her morning run. Her thoughts were running rampant as she reflected on her wife. Lara had been radiant the previous night, and the brunette had enjoyed the closeness that they shared, even if it was only for show. She got to hold the blonde in her arms most of the evening, dancing intimately with the woman she loved. The knowledge that Lara was carrying their first child only served to heighten the sense of devotion she felt for the little woman. Knowing this was the day they were going to tell their parents of this special occasion, Alexa knew she had to cut her jog short if she was going to make it to breakfast on time.

That morning Lara was already seated in the dining room with her parents as well as the king and queen while they waited on Alexa. The petite woman could tell the king was not in the mood to wait on his daughter to eat, so she made the suggestion that they start without her. Fortunately however a few minutes after they had been served, Alexa came bounding into the dining area.

"Sorry I'm late. I lost track of time while I was running. I was just thinking about you, and next thing I knew I was running behind schedule." she offered her wife as an excuse as she leaned down and planted a kiss on the blonde's forehead before taking a seat next to her. "Good morning, everyone."

Blushing slightly at the thought, Lara answered, "Well, thankfully you're here now. As you can see we started without you."

"Good. I would hate for you to go one minute without food if you're hungry. We couldn't have that now." she mentioned reaching over at lightly rubbing her wife's stomach in affection. "You're a growing girl after all." she teased lightly.

"Growing in one direction at least." Lara playfully replied knowing it would peak the curiosity of their company. Just as she suspected, the king looked at them questioningly.

"Is there something you want to tell us, girls?" hesitantly he inquired.

Alexa smiled at the blonde who returned the grin whole heartedly. Taking her wife by the hand, she turned toward the four of them. "As a matter of fact, there was something we wanted to tell the four of you." She took a dramatic pause.

"What?" Victoria questioned in hopeful excitement.

The brunette glanced at the blonde again. "Yesterday Lara gave me the greatest gift anyone ever could. Do you want to tell them what it was?"

"No. You tell them." Lara stated, knowing Alexa was stalling on purpose to tease her parents.

"One of you tell us." King George said.

Meeting four sets of eager eyes, Alexa grinned and proudly announced, "Lara told me she was pregnant."

"Really?" Katherine asked.

"Oh my God. This is great news!" Victoria exclaimed.

Both mothers instantly came to hug them. However the king inquired, "How far along are you, Lara?"

"Seven weeks."

"And when do you plan on announcing this to the public?"

"Alexa and I have decided to wait a little longer just to make sure everything goes as planned, but we wanted to tell the four of you as soon as we knew."

"Well, this is wonderful. This is exactly what this country needs right now. They need to see the two of you blissfully happy and producing heirs like this. This was a wise move on your part." King George stated. "I'm happy for you two."

"So are we. Right, honey?" Katherine asked her husband.

"We are happy if you are, Lara." her father stated.


Chapter Eight: Succession of Queens

Six months later Alexa found herself standing at the foot of her father's bed as he took what was sure to be his last breaths of life. The doctors had told them that it was a day if not hours. Beside her with consoling arms around the brunette's waist was her very pregnant wife. Lara was almost eight months along with their first child, a little girl that they were going to be naming after Alexa and her father. Next to the bed sat her mother, holding her father's hand as mortal silence surrounded them, and they simply waited for the imminent moment.

Suddenly the quietness was broken by the king's raspy voice. "Alexa, come sit next to me a minute. There's something I want to tell you." Alexa did as she was told, removing herself from Lara's embrace and coming to sit tentatively next to her father. He reached out with a cold, unsteady hand and covered hers. "Hand me my crown, Alexa." he requested. The brunette took it off the table bedside him and placed it in his hands. He looked at it for a moment before gazing at his daughter. "You know, no woman has ever worn this crown. You're going to be the first and hopefully not the last as my granddaughter will wear it after you." he began sparing a weak smile in Lara's direction. "However the time is yours now. The country is yours now, Alexa. It's your time to serve and protect her. You know that with this position comes great privilege and responsibility, but I know you're ready for it. Your mother and I have been preparing you your entire life for this moment, and now it is upon you. I know you will do great things." he whispered. He paused to take a painful breath. Alexa tried to hold back her tears seeing him in such agony. "I took the liberty of having the crown resized already. I want to see it on you."

"Father, I can't. It's yours. You're still the king." softly she said.

"Not any more. Please, Alexa. Let me put it on your head. I want to crown my daughter queen." Alexa didn't want to wear her father's crown, but she knew it was best just to pacify his wish, so with tears streaming down her face, she leaned down far enough that he could slip it on her head. Sitting up again she looked at him. "There. I'm no longer king. I have relinquished my power to you, Queen Alexa."

"Oh, Dad." the brunette whispered.

"Alexa, you've walked in my shadow for your whole life as your daughter will walk in yours, but I'm only going to ask you to do it one more time. The day that I am laid to rest I want you to walk behind me, and I want you to wear this crown when you do. I need my queen watching out over me for that final journey. Promise me you will."


"Alexa, a father couldn't be prouder of what you are and what you'll become. I have loved you in a way I never knew a father could love their child. You have been the light of my life since you were born. I do regret not being able to watch you grow older or seeing my granddaughter, but my time is over. I have enjoyed it immensely. Know that I might be gone, Alexa, but I will always watch out over you. A love like I have for you and your mother cannot be halted in death. I will always be by both your sides for as long as you want me there."

"I love you, Dad." Alexa cried leaning down to embrace him. His trembling arms pulled her as closely as he could. Their hug lasted several moments.

Finally though he cupped her cheek, wiping away tears as he softly requested, "Now I need to speak with your mother alone."

"Of course."

King George looked at Lara. "Take care of her, Lara, and take care of my granddaughter."

Unable to even speak, Lara simply nodded as she reached for Alexa, pulling her into her arms. "Dad, I love you." the tall woman said once again.

"I love you too, Alexa, and I always will."

Alexa knew as she walked away from the man she had adored her whole life that this would be the last time they would ever speak. Weeping openly she allowed her wife to lead her from the room. As soon as they got into the corridor, the princess dropped to the marble floor as she began to wail. Ripping the crown from her head, she tossed it aside.

Lara knelt beside her as best as she could given her pregnant state and slipped her arms around her. "It's going to be okay, Lex." she whispered.

"I'm not ready, Lara! He can't leave me!" she exclaimed.

"He'll always be with you. Just because he won't be here in body doesn't mean his spirit won't be with you. He'll always be in your heart." she replied trying her best to speak words of comfort even though she knew she would be inconsolable if she were in Alexa's position.

"I don't want to be queen. I just want my daddy." she wept.

"This was the life you were both born to live, Alexa. He was meant to be your father just as much as you were meant to be queen. You've had each other for twenty-six years, and you both have made the most of that time. He's in so much pain. I know you don't want that for him."

"No, I don't." she conceded.

"It's his time. We all have one, and we don't know when that will be. However his is here, and you have to let him go. He needs to go to a better place, one where he isn't suffering."

They were silent for a long time, both of them on the floor holding each other as Alexa cried into her wife's shoulder. Neither knew how long they sat there, but when they heard the door to the bedroom creak open, Alexa jumped to her feet.

Victoria looked blankly at the two of them. The usual sparkle of her eyes was gone, replaced with listlessness as her body was hunched over in despondency. The brunette knew without any words that her beloved father was gone. Coming to her mother, she pulled the smaller woman to her and simply held on as her mother bawled.

Unsure of what to do, Lara quietly inquired of Alexa, "Do you want me to inform Alfred?"

"Yeah, thanks, Lara." Alexa responded moving her mother back into the bedroom and over to the sofa. The rest of the night passed in a blur as the three women sat together, each clinging to the others for support as the world as they knew slipped away. In the morning none of them left the palace even though hordes of people were hovered along the fence leaving mementos to the family.

In fact it wasn't until the day of the funeral service that any of them made a public appearance. That morning as they all prepared there was discussion about Alexa's promise to the former king, because it was pouring outside, but the new queen was determined to keep her word to her father, so that morning as the casket made its way out of the palace grounds on the open carriage that had been used for generations for such purpose, Alexa was right behind it, wearing the crown and a black suit of mourning while her security team followed a few paces behind. Alexa held her head straight forward the entire time, firmly focused on the procession preceding her as she tried to hold back the flood trying to pour forth. Thousands of people lined the drenched street, but somber silence surrounded every onlooker. The walk to the National Cathedral seemed to take forever for Alexa due not only to the rain but the fact that she was taking her father on his final trek.

Coming to a stop in front of the cathedral, the queen waited as selected members of the palace guard picked up her father's coffin and carried it the rest of the way inside with the care they would have given their most precious commodity. The crowd stood as Alexa and her father entered the building and bowed to them both as they processed down the aisle. Reaching the front row, the brunette stopped next to her wife and took her seat. Lara looked at her wife. Alexa was completely soaked and now sitting in the cold building, concerning her for the brunette's health. However she knew it was what the tall woman wanted, so she refrained from commenting.

The service that day consisted of the king's favorite religious songs, and then the soliloquy was given by Alfred, having been a friend to not only the king but also the family since his service began forty-seven years prior. The only other man Alexa had ever truly admired gave a moving oration as he freely showed his sorrow for his beloved friend. Alexa's eyes focused on him and her father's coffin draped in the country's flag for the whole liturgy.

When it was over, all three women of the royal family processed out behind the king. Alexa escorted Lara and her mother to their waiting car before falling in behind the carriage again. As the walk continued through the streets of Washington, D.C., Alexa kept herself centered on her father. These were the last minutes the two of them would have in such close proximity, and she wanted to remember everything she could about the moment. As she processed the rain moved out making way for the bright summer sun. Alexa couldn't help a little grin at the corner of her mouth as she thought of her father and his promise to always look over her as the rays of light warmed her soaked body. The light touched more than her form. It touched her soul as she realized that the man she loved was in a better place free from all the pain he had endured at the end of his lifetime.

At the family cemetery the minister of the cathedral said a few more words before it was time to leave. The close friends that were in attendance said their final farewells before leaving the three women there alone. Lara went up to her father-in-law's coffin and placed her hand against it. She said a little silent prayer before moving away to give Alexa and Victoria privacy. The tall queen moved to her father next and knelt next to him. She kissed the flag draped over him and whispered her love before stepping next to her wife.

The two new queens stood at a respectable distance with their arms around each other quietly observing Victoria. Long minutes passed before the older woman signaled the waiting groundskeeper, and the three of them watched as King George IV was laid to rest and covered before heading back to the royal car where Alfred was waiting on them.

The ride back to the palace was quiet as the four of them watched the people along the streets. As they neared the homestead, Alfred finally spoke. "Lex, do you think you might be up for visiting with some of the people along the palace gate, or would you prefer to just be alone?"

"What would be protocol in this situation?"

"Well, when your grandfather passed on, your parents did go out and meet the people." he commented.

Alexa looked to her mother for confirmation. "That much is true, Lex. We did do that, and it seemed to go over well, but if you don't think you are up to it, you don't have to."

"No, I want to honor my father, so I will allow the people to extend me their condolences."

"I'll go with you." Lara stated. "However you need to change clothes first. You are completely wet, and that isn't good for you. You could catch a cold if you stay in this suit."

"I don't know if that is a wise idea, Lara. I don't want you over exerting yourself right now."

"It's fine. We have an obligation to fulfill, and as your wife I should be there."

"All right. You can come with me. We'll stop at the gate, so we can get out."

"Um, Lex, I'm in agreement with Lara on this one. You must change. You can't go out there like that." Alfred stated. "You need to shower and clean up first, and take off that crown. It's not supposed to leave the palace as you know, but this was a special agreement between you and George."

"Fine. You two win. I will get into drier clothes first. Mother, would you like to join us, or would you prefer to stay inside with Alfred?"

"I think I just need to alone. This is your time now. This is your country, and I'm just the mother of the queen. They have come to see you and Lara, not me. I'll be content to stay inside behind the scenes as my new role calls for in the situation." she replied quietly.

Getting back to the palace, the queen quickly changed into another suit before she and Lara made their way outside along with security. Alexa was moved by the support of her fellow countrymen. All of them had only the kindest words for her about her father as well as best wishes for the next heir. The brunette felt better by meeting the people that had gathered around the palace as it made her feel that she was not alone in her grief.

Looking toward her wife, she saw the little woman speaking with an older couple and smiled. Lara was the essence of grace that day, accepting kind words from loyal subjects. Just then a man moved up closer to the blonde queen with a bouquet of flowers in his hand. Many people had flowers with them, but the way he was looking at the little woman made Alexa suddenly uneasy. Looking around for the closest guard, she signaled him over and whispered her concern to him, asking that he move the crowd back several feet and keep an eye on that man. The guard nodded and went to do her bidding. However as the guard was in the process of gently pushing the multitude of people back, something caught Alexa's attention. Just as Lara moved up to the suspicious man, the brunette saw a flash of metal coming from his sleeve. Without any thoughts of her own safety, Alexa screamed Lara's name and rushed to the woman she loved just as a gunshot pierced the air.

The small woman was disoriented for a moment after hitting the ground hard. People were screaming and security shuffling around them. She looked at the numerous people on top of her, realizing that the queen's body was lying across her with two guards covering Alexa. She heard faintly one guard in the distance call for an ambulance, stating that the queen had been shot and the other might be injured as well. Fear struck Lara hearing those words. Gently shaking Alexa by the shoulder she called, "Lex?" There was no response from the queen. "Alexa, can you hear me?" she asked. The tall woman still didn't say anything. However before she could even begin to process what was happening around her though pain racked her own body throughout her lower back and stomach. She winced in agony demanding she be allowed up.

Instantly the guards sat back on their heels as the assailant was taken into custody having received a wound himself from one of the guards. However Alexa didn't move, so Lara touched her on the back. Feeling wetness and the tattered material of the suit jacket, she pulled her hand away to find it soaked in blood. Lara began to scream as security quickly carried both of them inside the palace gates for safety.

The blonde ignored the pain coursing through her own body as she hovered over her wife, whose blood was quickly pooling around her on the concrete. Fear consumed her as she frantically ripped off Alexa's coat and pressed it against the wound to try to stop the rapid loss of blood. "Oh, God, Alexa. Please don't leave me." she whispered to her unconscious sovereign.

The ambulance seemed to take forever to the small woman, who then rode with the brunette to the hospital and was beside her until the queen was rushed into surgery. At that point Victoria and Alfred had arrived, and the little woman collapsed into Alfred's arms.

"Lara, are you all right?" he asked in concern. "You don't look good. You should be seen to. Come on. Have the doctors look you over."

"No. I'll be fine. I just want to know what's going on with Alexa." she replied holding her extended midsection as another sharp pain shot through her. She winced and panted quickly.

"That's it, Lara. Alfred is going to get a doctor. There is something that could be wrong with the baby." Victoria sternly stated.

"I don't care about anything but Lex. When I know she'll be okay, I'll have someone look at me." she argued.

Alexa's mother took the queen by the shoulders and stared deeply into her blue eyes. "Lara, your obligation is to this child! Don't even think of Alexa right now! Nothing can be done about her right now! This baby means everything to Alexa and this country! As the queen you have an obligation to your people not your wife!" she yelled.

"How can you say that? You're her mother!" Lara countered angrily holding her back.

"Because I know Alexa would want you to focus on the child. If Alexa doesn't make it, this baby you are carrying becomes queen, and if Alexa dies before this baby is born, this country will be without a leader! If anything happens to this child, the country will be turmoil! That can't happen!" Victoria stated. "I know you're anxious about Lex, Lara, but think like the queen you are. Your life is for your country, not Lex." Lara wanted to refute her mother-in-law, but before she could offer any sort of reply, another pain bolted through her frame, sending her down to the floor as she wailed in anguish. Instantly Victoria was there on the floor beside her with consoling arms around her. "It's going to be all right, Lara. Just take deep breaths. Help will be right here." she explained as doctors rushed down the corridor to the fallen blonde queen. As soon as she was picked up off the floor, Lara could feel herself beginning to get lightheaded and then promptly fainted.

When Lara awoke she didn't know where she was at first as she stared up at a white ceiling. There was silence in the room except for a buzzing and the sound of breathing near her. Trying to sit up, the first thing she noticed was her pregnant tummy was no longer there, filling her with dread as she frantically looked around her. To her left she saw an incubator holding a tiny child within its compartment. She looked to her right where all the sound was coming from, and her heart dropped. Alexa was lying there, eyes closed with pallid skin and lips that had taken on a decidedly blue tint. Over her nose and mouth was a mask that was feeding the queen oxygen along with several other machines that Lara had no idea what they did. The little woman tried to ease herself from the bed, but it was difficult with the pain running rampant through her body. She felt as if she had been the one who was shot. Managing to get her feet on the floor, she was about to try to stand when the door opened, and Alfred admitted himself.

"Easy there, Lara." he softly said coming to her aid. He helped her to her feet.

Lara moved with his help to her wife's bedside. There was a long silence as she just stared at the woman who had shielded her from the gunman. Lara knew had Alexa not dived in front of her, she would be the one lying there unresponsive instead of the country's leader. After several minutes, she eased her way over to the newly born princess. She slipped her hands into the incubator through the holes in the side and lightly touched her daughter's tiny hand. Their baby was also connected to a machine but appeared to be resting comfortably. Reaching up to her daughter's head, Lara stroked the fuzzy blonde hair she found there. It appeared that their daughter had come from their combined DNA instead of the clone, which pleased Lara greatly as she felt more connected to the queen through their child.

"Where is Victoria?" she quietly asked.

"She's speaking with the doctors about all three of your conditions right now. I've just come back from making the public address in regards to what happened today."

"What did happen, Alfred?"

"A man tried to take the life of the princess and you." he informed her looking at the baby. "However Alexa was able to stop him by shielding you and taking a bullet in the back. Unfortunately the force of her knocking you to the ground sent you into premature labor. Being that you and Alexa were both incapacitated at the time, Victoria and I had to make a decision on your behalf, because the baby was in danger. You might have lost her had they not done an emergency cesarian, and we couldn't risk the death of the queen and the only heir. Alexa has been on life support since you went into surgery."

The blonde looked back at the bed that held her wife. "Is she... going to die, Alfred?" she questioned as tears came to her blue eyes. Suddenly the thought of losing the woman who had saved her life was more than Lara could bear.

"I honestly don't know, Lara. The bullet went into her lung, and it collapsed. She can't breath on her own very well right now, and there was a lot of internal bleeding as well. The doctors have done all they can, and if she wasn't on life support right now, she would've..." he said, his voice fading into nothing as he too struggled with his emotions. "However she is on life support. We had to put her on it, because we had no idea what to expect when the princess was born. We needed assurance that she would be all right before making any decisions about Alexa." he stated.

The blonde didn't have to ask what he was referring to. She knew the queen had been close to fatally wounded if they even had to consider the option of life support. She knew there was no other choice that Victoria could have made for the country, except to put her daughter on the life extending machines while they waited on the condition of her grandchild and country's sole heir. The decision about Alexa's life was secondary now to the life of the baby Lara was now gazing upon. "What about the baby?" she inquired hoping for some positive news in light of the situation.

"Preliminary signs show that she will be okay. However the doctors are concerned, because she was a month premature. Given the circumstances though, she looks good."

"And what happened to the gunman?"

"He received a gunshot to the chest by one of the guards and was rushed to the hospital as well. He is being seen to under the custody of the police, and when he is able, he will be taken to jail to await processing in our judicial system. He seems as if he will be able to stand trial as his wounds were not as serious as Alexa's."

Just then the door opened again, and Victoria stepped into the room with a somber countenance. "Lara, you're up." she stated.

"Yeah. I just got up a few minutes ago. Alfred was informing me about what had happened. What did the doctors say?"

Gesturing back to the bed, she suggested, "I think you better sit down again, Lara. You need your rest."

The little blonde did as she was told, taking a seat on her own bed before looking at her mother-in-law. "Tell me what they said, Victoria."

"Well, the first thing is that you will be fine. The doctors are confident in your full recovery, but you'll be sore for awhile."

"And Alexa?"

"Then of course they expect the princess to be fine as well. There were no complications with the delivery, but being that she was premature, they want to keep her here for about a week just to make sure everything is okay before sending her home."

Seeing that Victoria was avoiding the topic of her daughter, Lara asked again, "What about Alexa, Victoria?"

The queen mother spared a long look at her daughter. "Alexa could or could not make it. They assure me that they have done all they can for her, but she is on the edge. The only thing to do now is wait. The life support will stay on for as long as necessary or until you deem it inappropriate to postpone the inevitable if they see that she is not going to make it."

"Me? Why me?"

"Because you are her wife and the queen. Typically this decision falls upon the spouse. You are going to be acting on the queen's behalf for a while. Usually the heir acts if the sovereign is unable to, but since the princess is unable to being a minor, you, as her parent and guardian, must take on the responsibility."

"I can't do that. I know nothing about being a queen." Lara stated in distress. "That's Lex's job."

"Regardless of that you have to take on the duty, Lara. Alfred and I will help you though and guide you behind the scenes. You can do this. Alexa knew you could or else she never would've married you. She saw a strength in you when you first met, one she told me about, one that she admired. It's time to show that strength to the people of this country. You must understand that if Alexa doesn't make it, you will have to serve in her place until your daughter is of the age of the majority. She will wear the title as queen and you of queen mother, but it will be you that will makes the decisions on her behalf and on that of the country until such time. We all pray that is doesn't come to that though however." she whispered moving to her daughter's bed and taking a seat next to her. Taking Alexa's hand, Victoria turned her attention back to Lara. "Lara, my only child risked her life to save the wife and daughter she loved so much. She was true to you until the end. Now it's time for you to be true to her and do what she would want you to. She would want you to carry on and rule in her place until she either recovers or passes her title to her daughter. You must pick up the where she has fallen and move forward."

The blonde looked at Alfred to see him nodding in solemn agreement. "Lara, Lex would want you to do that. We'll help you. You won't be alone."

The blonde looked at her frail wife. Silently and fervently she prayed for the recovery of the woman who had saved her, and then most of the rest of the day was spent in quiet contemplation. Lara had the doctors move the baby closer to her bed, so that she was able to touch her even when she was resting.

Late that night after Victoria and Alfred had retired to the palace for the evening, Lara simply laid staring at the ceiling as she tried to get some rest. The day had been quite emotional. What had started as a day of mourning for the former king had turned into an even bigger tragedy as the queen had fallen from a gunshot and was hanging to life with every rattled breath. As Lara finally drifted to sleep in exhaustion, she prayed for her wife's health.

Sometime during the middle of the night a piercing sound broke the silence of the room, startling the blonde. Before she even could comprehend what it was, doctors charged into the room to Alexa's bedside. She overheard one of them state that Alexa's heart had stopped filling the little woman with terror. She watched in horror as they prepared to resuscitate the sovereign and jumped when they shocked the brunette. She didn't even know she had emitted a scream until one of the doctors looked over his shoulder at her and then promptly pulled the curtain closed, so Lara couldn't see what was going on with her wife. Even though Lara couldn't stand the thought of what they were doing to the brunette, she was drawn out of bed and over to the curtain. No one seemed to notice her as they were too busy with the queen. The blonde continued to watch as they shocked Alexa a second time without a response. Lara's heart was hammering wildly in apprehension as she looked at the body of her wife. "Please, Alexa, don't do this to me." she breathed. After a slight pause from the doctors, they prepared to give it a third attempt, because Alexa's body was still not reacting. With tears in her eyes, Lara held her breath and looked on as the doctors tried once again, shocking the queen with even more intensity. Hearing a small beep instead of a flatline, the blonde sighed in relief. The doctors also seemed absolved mumbling that they had gotten her back. As they all turned, they saw the little woman standing there.

"Your majesty, I'm sorry you had to witness that." the head doctor softly said. "You should rest now. We've gotten her heart beating again."

Lara gave a little nod and moved back to her bed as they pulled the curtain back, so the blonde could see Alexa from her position again. One of them moved to the princess to check on her while they were there, telling Lara that the baby was doing well before leaving the three of them alone. As soon as they were gone, Lara moved to Alexa's bed and took a seat. She took the brunette's hand in her own, stroking it gently.

"Alexa." she whispered. There was no response of course, but she felt the need to continue on anyway. "Lex, I can't believe this has happened. It wasn't supposed to be this way. This day was supposed to be about honoring your father, not the day that I lost you and not the day our child was born. You can't leave me, Alexa. I can't do the things that are of expected of me. You're the only one who can rule this country, and our little girl is not ready to rule in your place." Looking over at their baby, she sighed. "We have a little girl, Lex, one that I haven't named yet, because I was waiting for you. You should see her. She has blonde hair like me, but she has your nose and ears. I wish you could see her." Getting an idea Lara slipped off the bed and moved over to their child. Carefully she rolled the incubator over next to Alexa's bed, ignoring her own body's protest at the movement. Gently she guided her wife's hand into the capsule, so she could touch their daughter's hand. "There. Now you can at least touch her. She's beautiful, Lex. You would be so proud." Taking her seat again, Lara took her wife's other hand. "Alexa, I want you to know I could never fully understand or appreciate why you did this, but I want to thank you for saving my life and the life of our child. Because of you she will live and grow to have everything she ever wanted, just as you hoped for. However I want her to know your love. You have made the ultimate sacrifice so that she may live, but it would be better if she knew of more than just your selfless loving nature that caused you to shield me from that bullet. She needs to know the love of her mother, her sovereign so that she may learn how to be a great leader. She needs you, Lex. I need you, Lex." she admitted softly.

Over the course of her pregnancy, Lara had come to feel more for the woman she had married. Alexa had made every effort to cater to the blonde's needs and desires. Even though they still hadn't shared any sincere intimacy since their wedding, they spent an extended amount of time together. During that time Lara thought that Alexa had started to truly become her friend, and the resentment of what had happened over their honeymoon had finally been put to rest. Neither one of them ever talked about it, and they seemed to actually start enjoying each other's company again. When the king died, Lara's heart went out to the woman she married, and for the first time realized she would have given anything to spare the brunette the pain she felt. All Lara wanted was to protect her wife, but she took solace in the fact that Alexa sought her out for comfort instead of someone else. The blonde hadn't even minded the nights she had stayed in Alexa's bed between his death and the day of the funeral giving the tall woman the physical consolation she seemed to need. In fact on those nights after Alexa had wept herself in exhausted sleep, Lara simply watched over her, taking in the features of the queen and feeling the pain as intensely as it had been her own. Through the long nights she held the powerful woman in her arms, stroking her wife's dark hair and back and soothing her into the deep rhythm of slumber.

Now she looked down at that same woman, lying so close to death herself. Lara's heart began to break at the thought of their child never knowing Alexa's affection, but even more surprising she grieved at the idea of never feeling the brunette's hand against her fair cheek or the dark eyes gazing at her with such adoration. Lara had become used to the familiar gestures that Alexa bestowed on her on a daily basis, and she would have given anything to feel the queen touch her that way at the moment. Pressing Alexa's large hand against her own cheek, Lara held it there.

"Oh, Alexa, what I would give to look into your eyes right now, to see the feelings you always have so freely displayed for me. I need that right now."

The following morning the blonde awoke to the feeling of someone stroking her hair gently. Opening her eyes she realized she had fallen asleep on Alexa's bed, her head snuggled into her wife's shoulder. Looking up she saw Victoria standing over them, her mother-in-law's hand running through her hair. Neither woman spoke at first as Victoria gently tucked Lara's golden hair behind her ear.

"She has finally won your love." the queen mother stated quietly in observation.

"But I never got a chance to tell her." Lara whispered in sorrow. "And it could be too late."

"It's never too late, Lara." Victoria replied. "I see you've introduced her to her daughter." she mentioned in reference to Alexa's hand still inside the incubator where Lara had place it last night. "You need to give her a name soon you know."

"I know. I just wanted to wait for Alexa to do it. However I know she needs a name."

"Well, surely you and Alexa discussed this beforehand."

"Yeah, we did, and we had decided to name her after Alexa and George. However now I want to name her something else as well in light of what has happened."

"Then do it. I'm sure Alexa wouldn't object. The people need to know the name of their princess. If you and Alexa had already come to an agreement, then make the declaration today. Alfred will make an announcement about her and her condition. He hasn't said anything about her since the emergency cesarian, and I'm sure the people are anxious to know of her health."

The blonde nodded. She knew of the importance of assuring the country of the succession of the Washington line. "All right. I'll name her today." she conceded.

"Wonderful. I'll inform the doctors, so the appropriate paperwork can be prepared."

When Victoria left the room, Lara looked down at the queen. Alexa's appearance seemed unchanged since they had revived her the previous night. "Alexa, I wish you were awake for this. I'm naming our child, and I wish you could be a part of it right now. Since you can't I think you should be the first to know your daughter's name. I'm naming her Alexa Georgianne Faith Washington. My faith is all I have now, Lex. She is all I have." she whispered as she once again began to cry. Leaning down to her wife, the petite woman slid her arms around the unresponsive woman and placed her head on Alexa's shoulder. "You have to come back to me, Lex. I need you. I love you." she uttered softly.

A week later Faith, as Lara called her, was released, but being that Alexa's condition was unchanged, Lara still spent all her time in the hospital with her daughter by her side. Meanwhile Victoria and Alfred carried on in public on Lara's behalf with Victoria stopping by every day as well and spending as much of her time with her daughter as she could. However there were extended times when it was just the two queens alone with their little princess. Everyday Lara would sit in a chair beside her wife and cradle their child in her arms as she carried on one-sided conversations with the brunette. However as the days passed into a week and then two, the little woman wondered if Alexa would ever come back to her.

One afternoon as the doctor was doing his daily examination of the queen, he turned his attention to Lara. The look on his face told her before he even said anything that he wanted to discuss something serious. "Your majesty, I think it's time you consider what to do about her highness." he stated hesitantly.

The blonde looked at the tall woman. She knew what he was referring to even though neither of them gave it voice. Lara knew this choice might have to be made, but she had hoped it wouldn't come to it. Nevertheless she had given serious thought as to what would be best for her people and her. "I want the queen moved to the palace." she stated. "Can you do that?"

"Of course. We can do anything you desire."

"In that case I want her at home. I can't run the country in her absence from this room. Everything I need is there."

"I'll have one of the helicopters prepared for the transport." he stated. "However I'm sure you know that is not a permanent solution."

"I know. I just know that if this is the end, she would want to be at home. I'll make my decision about her life support after she's settled."

"Very well. I'll have everything arranged and a schedule prepared for a doctor to be on hand at all times."

"Thank you." When he left the room, Lara looked at the queen. "Lex, what am I going to do with you? I wish we had talked about this before. I don't like having to be the one to make this decision."

By the end of that day, Alexa was resting in her bed back at the palace. As Lara sat on the king sized bed next to her wife, she wondered if she had the strength to make the right decision. She had opted to leave the queen on life support when she was brought over, but now that they were alone, the blonde knew the choice had to be made. Just then her thoughts were interrupted by a soft knock on the door before Alfred entered. In his hand he held a document, and he wore a long face.

"I'm sorry to interrupt you, Lara, but I've been going through some of Alexa's things in the office, and I came across this. It's her Last Will and Testament. I think you need to read it."

"What does it say, Alfred? I can tell you have already read it yourself."

He took a deep breath. "It clearly states that unless extenuating circumstances exist, she did not want to be put on life support. Now clearly there were such circumstances, which is why we originally did so, but in good faith I can't say those circumstances still exist for her to continue on it. If you want to abide by her wishes, we should take her off immediately. The choice is yours however as her wife and legal guardian of the sole heir to the throne."

Looking at Alexa Lara mumbled, "I don't want her to die, Alfred."

"But do you want her to live if it has to be like this?" he questioned. The blonde queen reluctantly shook her head. Even though she knew what had to be done, she regretted that she had to be the one to make the final call. "Shall I go get the doctor, Lara?" She gave an affirmative nod. "All right. I will retrieve him and the queen mother right away."

Once alone with her wife, Lara sighed. "I guess this will be for the best if it's what you wanted." she whispered touching Alexa's face. "I just wish you had seen your daughter at least once. I will do everything I can to raise her in your image, so she can be the great queen you never got the chance to be." Taking their sleeping daughter Lara cradled her into the crook of Alexa's arm. "There. Now you can at least have a chance to hold her once. I love you, Alexa, and I'm sorry that I never got to look into your eyes while I said that." she muttered. Leaning down the blonde kissed her wife's lips with a gentle adoration. "I'll always love you, Alexa Washington." Silence filled the room for several minutes until Alfred returned with Victoria and the doctor in tow.

"You majesty, you requested to see me." he stated.

She nodded. "It's time. Turn... turn the machines off." she said choking on her tears.

"Are you sure, your majesty?"

"Yes. It's what Alexa wants."

"Very well. You need to sign this first." he said presenting her with the authorization to do as she requested. With shaking hands she signed the life of her wife away to fate and moved to stand beside the bed, leaving her daughter beside the queen. The small, blonde queen stood alone while Victoria stood in Alfred's arms to watch as Alexa was removed from all the support she had been receiving. It only took moments before the doctor softly said, "I will leave you all in privacy now."

Not a word was spoken as three sets of eyes stayed fixed on the dark-haired queen and her heir resting next to her. Tears freely streamed down Lara's fair cheeks. She couldn't handle it and moved to the bed again, throwing herself down next to the body of her beloved to weep openly into Alexa's chest. Only sobbing could be heard from the three in the room, but as the minutes passed, Lara became vaguely aware of the fact that she could hear Alexa's heart continually decline until it finally stopped.

"Oh, God, Alexa!" the little woman wailed cupping the brunette's face. "Why you? Why now? There were so many things I never got to say, so many things we never got to do!" Just then Faith began to cry, so Lara picked up their daughter, curling her tightly into her chest. "Alexa, I promise you with all I am that I will raise our daughter in your image."

A clearing of the throat could be heard behind her, and the blonde now queen mother looked up at Alfred. "Lara, I should call a press conference right away, and the people need to see their new queen for the first time. Do you think you will be able to be there with me?" he asked through his own tears.

Lara looked down at Alexa, thinking about what she would do. She knew the tall woman always had thought of her people first and above her own needs at all times during her life, and being determined to follow in those footsteps, the small woman nodded. "Yes, of course, Alfred. I will be there with Faith." she stated stoically, even though she felt like dying on the inside.

He gave a tentative nod. "Very well. I'll come retrieve you in a little bit, and I'll let the doctor know what has happened."

"Thank you." Lara whispered turning her gaze back to Alexa. Unable to control herself, she laid down next to the woman she loved and curled herself tightly around the late queen's strong form and wept herself into exhaustion.


Epilogue: Love Ever After

Lara woke that night with a startle. As she opened her eyes in the darkness, she wondered what had caused her to wake. Feeling the heat of the body next to her and a hand as it snaked across her bare stomach, she smiled. Hot breath fanned her neck as her lover's mouth closed over her fevered skin. The little woman giggled lightly. A deep, stirring voice whispered her name. Turning toward her bedmate, Lara met her lover's lips with urgency as she pulled them on top of her slight form.

Skilled hands quickly made work of her sleeping attire before settling on the petite woman's twin treasures. Lara panted, her back arching up toward the knowing touch. They had done this many times before, but it never ceased to amaze her the feelings that ran rampant through her body at her lover's caress. Running her hands through her beloved's hair, she pulled her closer.

"Lara." her lover growled meeting her mouth again. "I love you." she sexily whispered as she found her way inside Lara's aching wetness.

Lara cried out softly clinging closer. "I love you too. Oh, God, right there." She rode the tide her mate created in her body. She so adored the way they made love. It always touched more than her body. Her very soul ached for the caress. It was mere moments before she reached the summit of pleasure. As she lay quaking, sure arms embraced her, holding her in loving security. When she had floated back to earth, she opened her eyes and found her lover's gaze in the dark. Bringing her hand up to the strong jaw, she stroked it gently. "I love you so much, Lex." she avowed. "I always have."

"I know. I love you too, my darling, Lara, mother of my children." There was a moment of silence before she continued, "I have to go now."

"Please don't." Lara begged.

Alexa took hold of her wife's hands. "I have to, Lara, but I want you to come with me. Please come home with me now. You've done all you were supposed to."

"But our girls..."

"They're grown. They have children, grandchildren of their own. You've done what I always hoped you would, filling this house with our family. Come away with me now. It's time." she pleaded.

"I have to tell them good bye at least." she stated.

Alexa nodded as she ran her hand through her own stark white hair. "All right. Say good bye, and I'll come for you in a bit." Lara nodded. Alexa stroked her lover's fair cheek and gray hair as she gazed into Lara's blue eyes. "You're so beautiful, beloved. Give our children my love."

"I will, love." Lara whispered.

Suddenly Lara's eyes opened as she heard one of her daughters calling her name. Looking to her left, she saw the empty bed. Shifting her gaze to her right, she saw her eldest, Queen Faith sitting beside her. "Mom." she called softly.

"Faith." she stated greeting the woman.

Her daughter was dressed casually and idly stroking her mother's frail hand. "I was walking by and heard you talking in your sleep. Are you all right?"

"Yeah. I was just dreaming."

"About Mother?"

"Yes. She was here." Lara tried to explain in confusion. The dream had seemed so real, as all of them had over the years.

Faith nodded. Placating her aging mother, she decided not to dispute the statement. Instead she asked, "What did Mother say? Why was she here?" The eighty-three year old queen mother blushed modestly under her daughter's gaze. "Mom." Faith teased lightly seeing her mother's reaction.

"It was nothing you need to know about." Lara answered at first. However after a moment, she said, "She sends you her love." Faith gave a nod. "Faith, she asked me to come back with her."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean she asked me to leave with her."

"You mean leave us?" Lara nodded. "Do you want to go, Mom? Are you ready to go?"

"Yes. You and your sisters don't need me like you used to."

Faith sat in silence for a moment before replying, "Well, sixty years is a long time to be apart from your beloved. If you love Mother even half as much as I love Thomas, I could see why you would want to go. We will miss you though. You know that, don't you?"

"And I'm sure I'll miss you, but I need to go. I need to have the things we always should have had."

"I understand." After a moment Faith looked away from her mother out the window. "Mom, before you do go, there's something I've always wanted to ask you."

"What is it?"

"Did you ever resent the fact that Mother died while saving me?" hesitantly she inquired.

"Never, Faith. Your mother gave her life for both of us. Neither of us would have lived if it weren't for her. She was selfless to the end. Never doubt her love for you or mine."

"I never do. I'm just sorry that fate did this to you. It shouldn't have been this way."

"But it was. For sixty years I've been waiting for the day we could be together again, and I'm tired of waiting, Faith. My life was over the day she died, and I've just been biding my time ever since. However now it is time to go. Now do me one thing. Go get the rest of the family for me. I want to talk to everyone."

"Of course. I'll go right now."

Shortly every member of the Washington family hovered in the bedroom Lara had occupied in the palace since her father-in-law had passed away more than half a century before. The ailing woman looked upon each face, taking in their features and enjoying the final moments she had with them.

First there was Faith, Alexa and her first born, and present Queen of America. Lara had been fortunate enough to watch her baby grow into the powerful leader that she had always hoped for as a way to honor her beloved. As she grew up, she had reached the same majestic height as her mother with the same brown eyes but white blonde hair like Lara's, and her personality and hobbies ironically had turned out to be similar to the late queen's with her love of horses.

Next to her was Faith's husband, Prince Thomas Jefferson. Lara gave him a smile. "Thomas, it never ceases to amaze me how much you look like your mother." she stated, speaking of the late Lady Gwyneth Jefferson.

"I know, Lara. I think it's a blessing, better than looking like my father." he joked lightly.

"Your mother was my very best friend for most of my life and was Alexa's all of hers. You know Alexa's parents wanted her to marry your mother instead of me. Fortunately for me though they both thought better of it. I've always been happy to see that the Washington and Jefferson lines were finally united though, and you have given us all such wonderful grandchildren and even a great-grandchild."

Moving her eyes to her eldest grandchild, Faith and Thomas's first child, Princess Alexa Elise Washington, who was named after her two grandmothers, she smiled fondly. Alexa looked the most like her namesake in the entire family. She had the height, build, and look of Lara's beloved. Not only that, the second in line to the thrown just behind her mother, had the same veracious interest in women that the late Queen Alexa had in her younger life.

Lara's gaze drifted on to Thomas and Faith's youngest child and her only grandson, Prince George Thomas Washington. The old woman smiled at him. He was the sweetest man she had ever known outside of Alfred, having always so respectful and gentle with Lara. Next to him stood his newlywed wife and their baby of only a few months and Lara's only great-grandchild.

Lara's other two children were next in line. For the first several years after Alexa had passed away, the little woman had tried desperately to get pregnant again in memory of her wife. It was always the late queen's greatest wish to have three children, so Lara wanted to do everything she could to make that possible. Since she and Alexa had stored many fertilized eggs for future use, Lara eventually found herself pregnant two more times, giving them three girls in all.

Her middle child, Princess Victoria, was named for Alexa's mother, who had lived several more decades after the passing of her husband and daughter, helping Lara with the challenges of sitting on the throne in her daughter's place until Faith was able to take over the duties. Victoria looked the most like Lara, being more petite in stature with the same coloring. Her husband Prince Edward Adams stood next to her with their two girls, Lara and Kate.

Last but certainly not least was her youngest child, Princess Katherine, named after Lara's own mother. Katherine also had many of Alexa's features, including her dark hair and eyes. Next to her was Katherine's wife, Princess Nicole.

Giving all of them a reassuring smile, Lara softly said, "I wanted to see all of you now, because I don't have much time left. In fact I know this will be the last day I am with you, and I wanted a chance to say good bye. You all mean so much to me, but I know you will be fine without my help. I will be watching from afar now with Alexa, and both of us will always be in your hearts. I just want one hug from each of you before I go."

Each member of the family complied with the request before Lara instructed them all to go about their business. Everyone but her three daughters did as she asked. They hovered around the bed taking the last few moments with their precious mother. "Mom, are you sure you want to be alone now?" Faith inquired.

"I'm not alone, Faith. Your mother is here." she answered seeing her wife standing at the balcony doors. The three daughters looked where their mother was but saw nothing. Turning back to Lara, they just gave her quizzical gazes. "Go now. Call the press conference. I'll be gone by the time you return."

The three of them reluctantly did as they were told, and soon it was just Alexa and Lara. "Are you ready, my darling?" Alexa asked holding out her hand to her wife.

Lara nodded. "I've been ready for years, Lex." she replied taking the offered hand and standing from the bed.

"Let's go, my wife, my queen." Alexa said with a gentle smile as she led the woman she loved into the beyond never to look back.

As always, comments and feedback is welcome at alextryst@hotmail.com.

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