Nathan reached into his drawers and closet, hastily gathering clothes to put on. Elizabeth watched discreetly to see what clothing he was pulling out. As she saw him reach for a long-sleeved Henley and soft, tan trousers, she smiled; casual Nathan was one of her favourite things. Nathan in Uniform was also a favourite, she thought, trying to hide her smile.

Gathering his clothing in his arms, Nathan looked to Elizabeth, standing waiting to get her clothes.

"Do you need any help with your dress?" he asked, with a smile, a touch of colour on his cheeks.

"I can do it, thank you. Luckily, Rosemary didn't have the time to make it too complicated." Elizabeth replied with a grin. "I keep finding more reasons to be grateful that we didn't wait too long to marry; imagine what she could have come up with given more time."

"I don't need any more reasons to convince me; marrying you today was exactly the right thing to do." Nathan said, pausing before her on his way to the washroom to change; he stroked her cheek lightly and said, "this has been the best day of my life." As he walked away, his hand trailed from her cheek to her shoulder and down her arm, maintaining contact as long as he could.

Elizabeth touched her cheek where his fingers had been moments before and smiled; it had been the best day of her life too. She hurried to her suitcase and quickly pulled out a simple dress and comfortable shoes. After changing and taking the pins from her hair, releasing it from the fancy updo Rosemary had created, she hurried downstairs.

Nathan had taken less time than Elizabeth to change and had spent the extra time preparing a plate of finger food for supper from the leftovers he brought home. Neither he nor Elizabeth had eaten much at the reception, and he was glad of the snack.

He looked up as he heard Elizabeth on the stairs and smiled, walking over to meet her. She had taken down her hair, and her dark locks fell in waves that flowed gently around her face and shoulders. Her house dress was the most casual outfit he had seen her wear, besides the night she burned down the Teacherage in her nightgown. He stifled a laugh, now might not be the best time to remind her of that.

Nathan took his wife's hand, and they walked to the lounge together. Nathan sat in the corner, and Elizabeth sat beside him, legs tucked under her dress. The two sat close, sharing the food; their conversation was light as they ate, sharing the parts of the day the other hadn't been part of. They shared thoughts and ideas about how to spend their short honeymoon, agreeing they wanted to spend it alone. The practicality of moving Elizabeth's clothes and other items could wait; they wanted to keep the rest of the world out for just a little while.

"I couldn't eat another bite," Elizabeth declared as she sat up against the back of the couch, her head resting on Nathan's arm, which was stretched out behind her. "Thank you for preparing this. It was lovely."

"Me either; it was more than enough." Nathan untangled himself from Elizabeth and took the empty plate to the kitchen, collecting her gift on the way back. Sitting back down, he held the present out to her.

"Is everything all right?" he asked; when she made no move to open it as she looked at it, frowning slightly.

"I didn't get you a gift; I didn't know that was a thing,"

"This isn't a wedding gift; it was something I had for you anyway; I don't expect a gift in return. Please open it."

Elizabeth carefully opened the package she held. As the paper separated, she could see a small wooden box and lifted it out. Opening the lid, she gasped at the silver necklace inside, a silver filigree locket in the shape of a book hanging from the chain. It was beautiful.

"Nathan, It's wonderful," Elizabeth said as she held it in her hand. On the front, 'Our Family' was engraved; turning it over, she saw the words 'The Grants' engraved on the back and traced them with her finger, smiling. Opening the locket, she could see a place for two photographs, but none were inside.

"I want the photos inside to be the story of our life, for the images to change as our family grows. I had hoped to include a picture of our wedding as the first photo, but..." Nathan said with a shrug.

"It will still be the first photo, and when our family grows, however, that happens, they will be here too. Thank you!" Elizabeth threw her arms around Nathan, released him and stood, putting her back to him. She lifted her hair off her neck, handing him the chain and locket, "Would you put it on me, please."

Nathan fastened the necklace around Elizabeth's neck, sliding one arm around her waist; he leaned closer to look over her shoulder at where the locket rested against her chest. He could feel the warmth of Elizabeth's breath on his cheek and turned to look at her.

"I love it, Nathan," Elizabeth said, turning in the circle of his arm to face him. Clasping the locket, she stood on her toes and kissed him.

He felt Elizabeth's arms go around his neck and lifted her off her feet, carrying her back to the lounge. Nathan needed no other encouragement; he wrapped his other arm around his wife and drew her close, deepening the kiss. As usual with them, passion built quickly between them and spiralled almost out of control. Although it was the last thing he wanted to do, Nathan broke their kiss and lifted his head, pausing. He stared into Elizabeth's eyes, trying to gauge her feelings. Before taking the next step, he needed to be sure it was what she wanted too.

Elizabeth's heart was racing, and her breath was coming fast; why had he stopped? Her face felt flushed, her lips swollen from their kisses, kisses she wanted to continue. Looking into Nathan's face, she realised he was hesitating to allow her time to stop if that was what she wanted. He meant it when he said they had all the time in the world. Without a word, she stood and took Nathan's hand, encouraging him to follow her upstairs.

Standing in their bedroom, Nathan took Elizabeth's face in his hands, "you are the love of my life," he said, kissing her tenderly and holding her in his arms.

"And you are mine. I cannot imagine a life without you." With more confidence than she felt, Elizabeth looked at Nathan while lifting the hem of his shirt and sliding it slowly up his chest; his warm skin against her palms was intoxicating. She smiled as she heard his quick breath at the feel of her hands on his bare skin for the first time. Leaning forward, Elizabeth kissed his chest over his heart, the light sprinkling of hair on his chest tickling her lips. She let her fingers slide down and over his stomach as she traced the fine hair as it trailed downward.

"Wait," he said. "Let me help you first," Nathan murmured, reaching for her. He carefully undid the buttons on her dress, allowing it to slip for her shoulders, leaving her standing before him in only the Chemise she wore beneath it. As he gazed at her in wonder, Nathan slid his fingers along her collarbone tentatively; her skin felt soft and delicate beneath his calloused fingers. He felt Elizabeth shiver as he kissed her below her ear, and she reached for him, holding onto his forearms as he let his lips drift down to her neck, his breath hot on her skin.

"Nathan?" Elizabeth pleaded, her voice urgent. "I..." she stopped; she didn't know how to articulate what she needed. Pressing herself against him, her hands settling on his chest. She could feel the heat from his hands as he traced her body's curves. She felt his breath in her ear, as ragged as hers.

"Please, Nathan."

Nathan lifted Elizabeth in his arms and carried her to their bed. Placing her in the middle, he slid beside her, propping himself on one arm to look down at her. Her eyes were wide as she looked at him, but there was no fear, only love and desire for him. He pushed her hair back from her face and kissed her again, feeling her arms slide around his neck, holding him to her. He loved the feel of her fingers tangling in his hair as their lips met.

Elizabeth arched against Nathan as they lay together, relishing the feel of his body against hers; she needed to be closer to him. She rolled toward him, and he tensed in her arms; she could feel the evidence of his desire and pressed even closer. Cupping his face in her hands, she broke their kiss. "Nathan, I love you," she whispered as she shimmied away from him to slip out of her Chemise. The moment she was free of it, he reached for her, drawing her close, kissing her wildly.

As they lay tangled together, everything but their need for each other faded away.

Elizabeth woke to the smell of something burning and sat up quickly. Sniffing the air, she realised the building wasn't on fire, but the food was overdone. Nathan's first attempt at cooking her breakfast wasn't going well. Looking down at herself, she hurriedly dragged the sheet up to cover her nakedness before spotting her dressing down, draped across the foot of the bed. Sighing at Nathan's thoughtfulness, she reached for it and had just tied it closed when she heard her husband coming up the stairs.

She smiled at the sight of him, hair tousled from sleep, wearing only pyjama bottoms, his chest bare, carrying a tray of food.

"Good Morning," she called out brightly. If yesterday was her life's happiest day and night, today was the best morning. She couldn't remember ever waking and feeling so full of love and joy. When Nathan saw her awake, he smiled broadly and hurried to her. Elizabeth flipped the blankets back and slid over to make room for him. She held out her arms to take the tray so he could settle beside her.

Nathan stole a quick kiss before stealing a piece of bacon off the plate. "I'm sorry. I'm not very good at cooking food other than fish," he apologised. "But I do make good coffee."

"It looks wonderful," Elizabeth lied. She believed it was the thought which counted, and she didn't want to be too critical; he knew she was a terrible cook, so who was she to criticise? The coffee was good; Nathan made excellent coffee. There were plates of eggs, bacon, tomato and mushroom, and Nathan only burned the bacon, and if the eggs looked harder than they should be, she was sure they would taste okay. Taking a sip, she relaxed against him and asked, "so what shall we do today? Riding and a picnic?"

"That wasn't the first thing I thought of," Nathan admitted, waggling his eyebrows at her, grinning.

"Nathan!" Elizabeth covered her cheeks, amused that a statement like that would make her blush after last night. Laughing, she whacked him lightly on the chest and wrinkled her nose. Deciding there was no reason to be shy with him, she said, "I'm starving; I need to eat first," and gave him a wink, pleased when Nathan laughed.

They sat together, drinking their coffee and eating the breakfast he had prepared. Despite Nathan's teasing suggestion, they spent time talking about how to spend their day, outside the house. It was the perfect weather to ride out of Town where they wouldn't be disturbed and have a picnic in their usual spot. Afterwards, they could ride to the river, Nathan could fish while Elizabeth watched, and they may have something decent to eat. Elizabeth was a competent rider after her many riding lessons with Nathan and had formed a bond with Sugar, the horse she borrowed from the Livery.

Nathan watched as Elizabeth finished her second cup of coffee and took the cup from her. Placing the cup on the tray and the tray on the side table, he turned to her and smiled. "Are you still hungry?"

Elizabeth shook her head, giggling when Nathan pretended to pounce on her. Laughing, they lay back against the pillows, hands entwined. Elizabeth rested her head on Nathans's chest and murmured, "I know we are supposed to be getting up, but I want to stay like this for a little longer." Snuggling against his side, she said, "I didn't know I could be this happy."

"I didn't either, and I promise to do everything in my power to make you happy every single day for the rest of our lives," Nathan said as he wrapped her in his arms. He meant every word of his promise; he would do anything for her.

Nathan had sometimes wondered if he would marry, not because he was a Mountie, but because of the poor examples he had seen of marriage. His parent's marriage had not been happy and Colleen's was worse. He had worried he might repeat the familiar pattern until he met Elizabeth.

Elizabeth reached up and touched Nathan's cheek, "I promise the same to you." The look in Nathan's eyes as that slight touch was all the encouragement she needed. Elizabeth raised herself up and placed a lingering kiss on his lips. She had surprised him, but it didn't take him long to recover.

Their plans for the day suddenly didn't seem very important.

"Hurry, Elizabeth," Nathan urged, grabbing her hand and tugging her along. "I don't want anyone to see us." Nathan knew it was silly, but he didn't want anyone intruding on their bubble. He wanted to get in and out of the livery quickly. They needed this time to adjust to their life together.

As they entered the Livery, he looked around quickly, pleased to see they were alone. Elizabeth had a standing arrangement to ride Sugar, and no one else borrowed her anymore. They would need to formalise the agreement, so she became Elizabeth's horse but not today. Nathan released Elizabeth's hand as they greeted their horses, feeding Newton and Sugar an apple before their ride. Nathan carried their gear, and they made quick work of saddling them. They rode away from the Livery at a fast trot, then canter, determined not to be stopped at that late stage, pleased with their successful getaway.

Nathan rode beside Elizabeth, loving the feel of the wind on his face, the sun warming his cheeks as they raced alongside each other. He nudged his heels into Newton's side, urging him faster, glad when Elizabeth increased Sugar's pace to match. He glanced over and saw a similar wide smile on Elizabeth's face.

They kept up the pace until they reached their usual spot, slowing down as they got closer, allowing the horses to cool down before they stopped. Dismounting, they tied the horses loosely, allowing them to graze close by while they enjoyed their picnic.

They lay the picnic rug out and settled down, not hungry yet, content to relax together. Elizabeth sat, her back against a tree, while Nathan lay with his head on her lap. Between reading pages of his book, he closed his eyes, relaxing as she absently ran her fingers through his hair while she read her book.

Nathan laughed at the sounds of his stomach grumbling loudly in the silence and sat up. "I don't think I have to tell you I'm hungry?" he said.

"I can hear that," she laughed. "You should have said."

"I enjoyed laying in your lap more than I needed food."

Elizabeth rolled her eyes and shook her head, "here, eat this," she said, handing him an apple, "the quicker you fill up, the quicker we can get back to me stroking your head."

"Have I mentioned you're the best wife I have ever had," Nathan said, kissing her palm as he took the apple from it.

After eating, they both lay down; this time, Elizabeth lay in Nathan's arms, her head resting on his chest. She felt him kiss her forehead as her eyes slowly closed. She drifted to sleep with the sunshine on her face and the breeze gently caressing her skin.

"You snore, you know," Nathan whispered to Elizabeth as she stirred.

"I do not!" she exclaimed.

"How can you be sure?" he teased.

"I just know," she said emphatically, although she couldn't be sure. Her sister Julie would have mentioned it to her if she did, happily taking every chance to tease her.

"Okay, you don't snore, but you talk in your sleep."

Elizabeth hesitated; she sometimes talked in her sleep, and her family had told her that. "Oh, really, and what did I say?"

"I was the best husband you've ever had, and you would love me forever."

"Okay, I believe you because all of that is true," Elizabeth said, laughing at his silliness and pressed a kiss on his jaw. "Did I say anything else?"

"Yes, but I'm a gentleman so I won't repeat it." He lazily stroked her arm, meeting her curious gaze; he said, "How about I show you instead."

When they finally reached home, Elizabeth was exhausted. She hadn't realised doing nothing, well...almost nothing physical could be so taxing. She tried to hide a yawn from Nathan as they unpacked the picnic basket, but he caught her.

"Why don't you lie down for a while and sleep?"

"I can't leave you to cook dinner by yourself; you cooked breakfast!"

"I don't mind," he said, catching hold of her hand and squeezing. "Go and get some sleep; dinner will wait."

Elizabeth stopped arguing; a nap sounded heavenly. "Don't let me sleep too long, promise!"

"I Promise."

Nathan kept his word, and after an hour, he snuck upstairs to check on Elizabeth. As he stood in the doorway, watching her as she slept, he thought again of how lucky he was to have found her. It was fate that had thrown them together, sending them both to Coal Valley, and now he couldn't imagine a life where he wasn't married to Elizabeth Thatcher and didn't want to.