Epilogue- Finally a Family

There was a celebratory mood in the café as everyone waited for the guest of honor. After much haranguing and more phone calls with headquarters than he wanted to think about, Bill had finally found a solution to Hope Valley's Mountie problem. The fact that he had been aided by none other than William Thatcher was a continued surprise, but the man had definitely changed since their brief meeting in Hamilton years ago.

Bill had been shocked to learn that Thatcher and Commissioner Sam Collins were actually long-time friends. When William had requested a Mountie be assigned to the tiny little mining town his beloved daughter was moving to, it was Collins' suggestion that sent Jack Thornton. Even as he rose through the ranks, Sam had kept an eye on his friend's daughter. When Jack Thornton was killed, it was Sam who arranged for William to be there for the funeral; it was an unfortunate train delay that prevented him from making it to the actual service.

With the newest developments in Elizabeth and Nathan's relationship, something that everyone who knew them thought was too long in coming, their separate locations became an issue. Elizabeth was deeply rooted in Hope Valley, with her friends, her job, and it being the place where Jack had been laid to rest. Nathan, on the other hand, was making quite a name for himself as an Inspector in Union City. Both were willing to move, but neither wanted the other to have to sacrifice the job they loved.

It was William who offered a solution. "What if someone were to donate a car, so the Inspector could travel as much as needed, while still making Hope Valley his primary residence?" Nathan could oversee investigations just as well from there, especially with a few updates like a phone line in his house and a second Mountie to see to the day-to-day needs of the town. And best of all, he and Allie could come home.

"Where are your parents?" Bill asked, suddenly suspicious. Allie, Jack, and the Thatchers had arrived on the morning train as planned. When Nathan and Elizabeth didn't get off with them, William explained that Nathan had a few details to wrap up on a case and then they would be driving back. The two were now hours late, and while Grace and William expressed concern, Allie and Jack didn't seem upset.

Allie tried to look nonchalant as she shrugged, but Bill caught the gleam in her eyes. "Okay, kid. Out with it," he grumbled. "What's going on?"

When the girl remained silent, Bill turned to young Jack. The boy was giggling non-stop, and not the least bit concerned that his mother was missing. "Jack? Where is your mama?"

Jack looked at Allie, who shook her head frantically, and Bill grinned. "Jack, buddy… I need to know if your mom and Mountie Nathan are alright. Do you know where they are?"

Jack looked back at Allie, obviously struggling. She sighed and nodded.

"Mama and Na-tan get married!"

Exclamations of surprise and joy filled the café.

"So, Nathan finally got the courage up to propose, did he?" Bill asked, now looking at the Thatchers.

William shrugged, truly puzzled. "I gave him my blessing ages ago, but I haven't seen a ring or heard of a proposal yet. I just assumed that's what this party was all about, that he was going to ask her tonight."

Everyone looked at Allie, who was grinning proudly.

"Is your dad going to ask her tonight?" Rosemary asked, clearly envisioning a dramatic public proposal. It only took a few seconds for her to recall that Nathan was a very private person and that he would likely prefer a more one-on-one approach. "Or is that where they are now? On a romantic picnic, with flowers and poetry…?"

Glancing at the clock on the wall, Allie smirked. "Actually, they're in Brookfield by now. Uncle Gabe arranged for them to spend their honeymoon weekend there. They got married last night."

The room exploded with questions, all various forms of when, where, and how their nuptials took place without anyone knowing.

When everyone had quieted down, Allie explained. "You know my dad has been in love with Jack's mom for about forever now. After everything that happened, with Mr. Bouchard, Dad's promotion, her being afraid to love him because of his job, the smuggling case… they decided that enough was enough. If they could get past all of that and still want to be together, there was no reason to wait. They talked to the pastor at the church Dad and I have been going to, and he agreed to marry them. It was really nice, just the four of us and the pastor's wife as a witness, standing in a little gazebo under the stars."

"Did you know about this?" Grace glared at her husband, who shook his head.

"Elizabeth said they were going to dinner. I thought, after all our meddling and questions, they deserved a night on their own. Elizabeth told me Allie would be staying with her last night, to make getting ready to leave this morning easier. I heard Allie and Jack come in while I was working in the study, and just assumed she was with them."

Julie snickered. "So, no one noticed that dear little Elizabeth didn't come home last night?"

Grace scowled at her youngest daughter. "Allie said Elizabeth got a message from Nathan early this morning, something about loose ends on a case that needed to be tied up. She asked that we take the children with us and said they would meet us here this afternoon…" Her eyes widened. "There was no message, was there?"

"I think the real question is, how did you get Jack to keep the secret?" Lee asked, laughing.

Allie shrugged again. "Dad might have promised him something if he didn't say anything until we were back in Hope Valley…"

"What could be so tempting to a kid his age that he would actually go along this crazy idea?" Bill grumbled.

"A fishing trip," Allie laughed, grinning proudly. "Oh, and a little brother or sister."

A/N- Okay, I admit, it is a little far-fetched and perhaps a bit over the top "happy fluffy", but the idea of Nathan and Elizabeth eloping has been stuck in my head for a while now. They joked about it in "Because of Jack", but it would have made even less sense in that one. I've said what I wanted to say in this story. I am not good at dragging out the drama (I'm too eager for the happily ever after part), and don't want to write the long drawn-out apologies. If you need her to repent more, use your imagination. (She did have a lot of time on her hands while she was recovering...) Yes, I do know that it is unlikely the Mounties would have allowed William Thatcher to influence their decisions as much as I have suggested. It IS a work of fiction. I mean no offence to their noble work, so please don't hate me. It allowed me to show William being a deeper part of his daughter's life. In the end, I just want all the characters to be happy.

Well, almost all of them... ;-)

Thanks for reading!