His mother was batting at his fingers and removing the fly he had just tied with his painfully thick and trembling fingers.

"There's no need for that, Richard. You didn't give any of us enough time to shop for something befitting the occasion, now you don't get to look so handsome, either."

Martha swatted the fly at him, giving him a look, and he unbuttoned the first button on his white dress shirt. "Mother, you have dozens of dresses."

"But none of them are thermic or have a built-in heater," she complained, dramatic as ever. "An outdoor wedding in October in the mountains - have I taught you nothing?"

"It was spur of the moment," he argued back, though not really caring about her bad mood, and a shy knock on the door saved him from another swat.

He and Kate had been enjoying their engagement, the single ring on her finger enough for now. Until the day three days ago when she'd woken up and it hadn't been.

So they had pulled together this little ceremony at Jim's cabin in a little over forty-eight hours.

"Oh, Louis," Martha chanted and Louis stepped into Jim's bedroom, freshly showered, wearing slacks and an undershirt. "Don't you look lovely."

Martha was already fretting over his wild hair, but Castle pushed her aside. "Just get the clothes, would you, mother?"

Castle took care of Louis' hair himself and then Martha handed the boy a suit. "You know, dear, Richard wore this to my wedding when he was about your age," she told him and Louis reached for the suit with a shy smile.

Castle bit back a comment about the slightly dusty smell of the textiles, and Louis simply looked so proud to be wearing his old suit that he pressed a kiss to his mother's cheek for her thoughtfulness. Without her-a master at pulling things together last minute-none of this would have been possible.

He wasn't sure Louis even had a dress shirt, not after the growth spurt he'd had in the spring, and if it weren't for his mother's grandiose idea, Louis wouldn't have had anything nice to wear to his own mother's wedding.

Louis turned around again and let Castle help with the buttons of the shirt. "Your mom won't believe her luck when she sees you - what a good looking boy."

He smiled, pleased with himself. "Thanks, Rick. You look really good, too. Mom likes it, when your shirt is a little unbuttoned."

"Does she now?" Castle grinned and popped a second button, just for good measure. At nine and a half, Louis was very perceptive. "You doing okay?"

"Yeah," Louis nodded. "But you know, it's really cold out and mom's dress doesn't have long sleeves."

Castle patted the boy on the shoulder. "We'll just make sure to keep the ceremony short then, huh?"


"I feel like a princess," Alexis grinned and twirled in front of Kate, the skirt of her dress flaring wide.

"You look gorgeous, sweetie," Lanie agreed. "But we really need to start on your hair."

"Are we all wearing our hair the same way?" Alexis asked when Lanie started combing the top and side parts of her hair back, securing it with a light blue barrette that not only matched the embroidered flowers on her white dress, but also the hairstyle of the other women present.

"Just trying to get some kind of theme into this celebration now that we are all wearing different colors." Lanie glared at Kate who was securing one last strand of her own hair with a bobby pin, but she ignored the jab. She knew her friend was happy for her, even though she had been deprived of the honors that came with being the best friend and maid of honor of the bride.

"I like that the wedding will be colorful," Alexis chattered happily, legs swinging. "I'm wearing white and light blue, you are wearing purple, and Kate is wearing ivory. I think it's great. I bet the boys aren't half as creative as we are."

Kate liked it, too.

"You have something to wear over that dress?" Lanie asked, clipping tiny earrings to Alexis' ears. "You're not as crazy as your mama there, are you?"

"Grams brought me a wool jacket. It matches the color of my dress and it's so soft. And I'm not crazy and going into the cold with my back all naked," she giggled, her nose scrunched. She prided herself on telling everyone she just turned eleven, and since it was her second year in the double digits, she was almost grown up, but she was still so much of a child and Kate loved her so much more for taking her time growing up.

Lanie patted her on the back. "You're a smart girl."

Kate rolled her eyes. "Guys, the ceremony will be short, we'll make it."

"None of us are high on love hormones," Lanie shot back. "We don't have a man to keep us warm."

Kate looked at herself in the mirror for a second, taking in her reflection, before she gazed down at her engagement ring. "Did you think I would?" She shook her head, eyes suddenly a little moist. "Never, Lanie. I thought that ship had sailed a long time ago."

Next thing she knew were the strong arms of her best friend around her and the smell of honey and lavender in her nose. "I'm so happy for you, Kate. So happy. You deserve this - more than anyone else I know."

Kate sniffled. "Thank you, Lanie. But I wouldn't be here without you, you know that, right? I owe you so much." Not just for baby sitting Louis and giving her a night off when she needed one, but also for giving her a push in the right direction and welcoming Castle with open arms.

"You don't owe me anything, honey. Seeing you and my godson so happy is all the reward I need."

For her small stature, Lanie was a woman with a lot of strength, and Kate felt the air being squeezed out of her lungs. But she gave back just as good. There was nothing in the world that compared to having a friend like Lanie.

"But let's not ruin our make-up, huh?" Lanie murmured through the clog in her throat and Kate squeezed her once more before letting go, dabbing her finger beneath her friend's eye to capture the moisture there.

"We only have thirty minutes left, time to step into that dress."

"Yes, finally!" Alexis groaned. "The dress is so pretty."

Kate had to agree with the redhead. The dress was of ivory color with some quiet embroidery on the front. It was form-fitting, emphasizing her waist and height and it dipped low in the back, revealing a good amount of skin to keep Castle distracted. The three-quarter sleeves left her wrists bare for some simple jewelry.

"Where'd you find that so fast anyway?" Lanie asked when Kate turned around to let her adjust the dress.

"It's funny - I bought it on a whim a few months ago. I thought it was something I could wear to one of Castle's parties in the winter. It didn't look like a wedding dress to me then, but now I couldn't imagine wearing it anywhere else."

"It would have looked gorgeous on the red carpet as well," Lanie promised and Alexis brought the heels that went with the dress.

Kate slipped them on and took a cautious step, testing the range of motion she had with the tight skirt of the dress.

It was then that her father stumbled inside. Still wearing jeans and a long trench coat, his face red from the cold. "Oh Katie," he breathed when he saw her, but refrained from hugging her. "The path to the lake is cleared of snow, so is the deck, and the minister just arrived. You ready?"

She leaned in and pressed a kiss to his cold cheek. "So ready, dad. Go get changed."


She was twisting her mother's pearls round and round on her wrist, the blue earrings Martha had given her swinging back and forth with the shivers rattling her body.

The bare expanse of her back was covered in goose bumps and she jerked when her father's broad palm started stroking over it in a gesture of comfort.

"Cold?" he asked, but she shook her head.


"Don't be silly, Katie. He's waiting for you on the dock."

"I know he is," she smiled, rubbing her hands together to get feeling back into them. "I just really want to be Mrs. Castle. And- and I only want to cry happy tears today," she admitted on a deep sigh. "I don't want to look at the spot where mom is supposed to stand and be reminded of - everything."

Jim took her wrist, stroked along the warm pearls before clasping both her hands in his now warm ones. "She's here, Katie. She's here with you, with all of us, and she'll be saying 'I told you so' when you turn into an icicle out there on the dock."

A faint smile graced her lips and she swallowed heavily a few times. She could do this. She had a man crazy enough about her to indulge in her sudden urge to have an outdoor wedding in winter waiting for her, she could get through this day without being saddened by her mother's lack of physical presence.

Her father reached for her hand, waiting until her spine straightened again, and then he waved to Ryan through the window, signing for him to start the music.


She nodded and Jim opened the cabin's door. A gust of cold air blew in but she didn't feel it, she just took one step after another on the frozen ground until she could see the black mass that was Castle waiting for her on the dock through the thick fog.

She barely saw the few of their friends that had been able to make it on such short notice shivering on the sidelines, only spared Alexis and her handsome-looking son a quick glance before her gaze was drawn to Castle again.

His outline sharpened with every step she took and his eyes were a magnetic blue that seemed to draw her in.

He held his hand out to her, helped her step onto the dock and avoid the gaps between the planks, his smile a tender thing and full of love and adoration, and all she felt was warmth.


The furniture in the living area had been pushed aside, the fire was crackling, Alexis had been swung around by about every man in the room, and Martha simply couldn't leave her hands off Louis.

He looked dashing, and once again, Kate was so proud of the boy she raised. He'd been on his best behavior all day and had even helped Jim with the trash and the empty glasses left behind.

She had Castle's suit jacket around her shoulders and snuggled into it as they talked to their friends, received their good wishes, and listened to Lanie complain that 'no man around here knows how to dance'.

Ryan's tries to dance with Jenny were a little clumsy, Espo only "danced" with Alexis, and her father was a little shy, probably lost in the memories of his own wedding. Louis had of course danced with Lanie, but now she had had a few glasses of champagne and really wanted to trip the light fantastic with someone.

She'd never ask, so Kate nudged Castle forward and decided to put her friend out of her misery.

"You'd lend me your man for a dance? On your wedding day?" Lanie asked, eyes wide and Kate shrugged her shoulders. "I got to dance with him first, I get to dance with him last."

Castle looked at her in pleased surprise, smiled, even as he cradled her cheeks in his hands to brush his lips over hers. "You're extraordinary, Mrs. Castle."

She pushed her nose into his cheek and whispered, "Go dance with Lanie, and then tonight, I'll show you how extraordinary we can be together."

He shot her that smile-that smile-that made her weak in the knees and was hers alone and she watched him roll up the sleeves of his shirt, the fire reflecting in the grey of his wedding band.

Louis found her then, looking a little sweaty and breathless, and he leaned into her side with a heaving sigh. "Now Jenny finds me adorable, too. Mom, what do I do?"

She brushed a flop of hair back from his forehead, laughing quietly. "One day you'll like it, I promise."

"No. I'll like it when they find me handsome. Adorable is for babies."

"For what it's worth, I think you are very handsome."

Louis turned his head and squinted his eyes at her. "You're my mom. You're compelled to feel that way."

"I am?" she laughed, a little shocked by his way of thinking. "Where'd you get that from?"

"Martha explained it all. How hormones and stuff work."

"I don't need hormones to love you. And you know I did that from the very second I knew of your existence, right?"

Louis smiled at her. "Yeah, mommy."

He went to hug her, but it wasn't enough. Despite his weight she bent down and picked him up. His legs curled around her waist and he pressed against her hard. "I love you, Louis."

"I love you, too, mommy."

She caught Castle's eye over Louis' shoulder, waved him over when he was trying to give her and her son a moment alone.

"I know my wife's a hottie but we've barely been married half a day and already there are guys trying to come on to her?" He narrowed his eyes at Louis who gave a tired chuckle and continued to cling to Kate and Castle pulled him out of her arms to settle him on his own hip.

"Yeah, well, deal with it, Castle. Louis won my heart nine years ago and he just can't seem to let me go."

"The scallywag," Castle grinned, leaning in to kiss her, but Louis grunted. "Gross. Gross, you guys."

Castle put him down on a laugh, then wound his arms around Kate and leaned in for a proper kiss.

She rose to meet him and his tongue was slick and hot against her bottom lip; so familiar yet so new and exciting. The things his new status as her husband did to her - ridiculous.

Espo's wolf whistle broke them apart and Kate grinned over her husband's shoulder to see that her father's ears had turned a little pink and Lanie had clapped a hand over Louis' eyes in a rather dramatic fashion. Alexis was asleep in Martha's lap on the couch, worn out from daddy dancing, but her new mother-in-law raised her almost empty glass to her.

Castle nudged his nose against her temple, his lips brushing over her skin in a barely there kiss. "You ready for that last dance, Mrs. Castle?"

She hummed against his jaw. "And after the dance?"

His fingers crept beneath the the silky fabric of her dress, scratched at her lower back and her hips jerked into his without her permission. "I'd say we kick all these people out and start our future on fluffy blankets in front of a roaring fire."

"Start our future," she breathed and ran her fingers through the fine hair at the nape of his neck, giddy and ecstatic. "I can't wait, Mr. Castle."


Wow, what an amazing welcome to the world of Castle Fanfiction.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who accompanied me on this journey - I know I didn't always make it easy and I am so grateful to everyone who took the time to read this story and let me know how I was doing. It's so very appreciated. Thank you!