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"I now pronounced you man and wife" The minister intoned just as the door flew open and Victoria's mother ran in, her hair was in a major state of disarray and her face was flushed.

"NOOO!" She screamed loudly.

The minister glared at her "I beg your pardon Madam but please refrain from such behavior in the house of the Lord"

She ignored him and quickly moved down the aisle toward Victoria and William "YOU!" She yelled pointing at William "You little cretin!" She snarled. "How dare you?!"

William took Victoria's hand in his and started walking toward her mother "Madam, I'd like to introduce you to my wife" He said motioning to Victoria.

"This marriage can't be binding" She exclaimed, grasping at straws "She didn't have her parents approval"

"You mean she wasn't sold to secure your place in society?" William spat.

Victoria's mother glared at him "How dare you?" She whispered.

"No! How dare you!?" Victoria cut in "You're supposed to be my <I>mother</I>! You're supposed to help me and support me, you're supposed to support me in my search for happiness. You're supposed to <I>love</I> me!" Her voice broke and her eyes filled with tears and she took a deep breath and blinked a few times before continuing.

"Well now I've found happiness. I've found someone who loves me and the <I>least</I> you could do is be happy for me. Give me your blessing?" She begged.

Her mothers face had softened slightly but she said nothing.

Victoria shook her head and ran down the aisle and out the front door, passing the Count who'd been standing in the door watching the entire thing. He now stepped forward and walked over to them.

"You're married?" He asked William who silently but defiantly nodded.

The count nodded slightly in a dismissive way then turned to Victoria's mother "We had a deal. You seem to have failed on your half so I shall be backing out on mine" With that he turned and walked away.

Victoria's mother shook a little as she slowly sat down in one of the pews "Oh dear" She said quietly.

Ashley stepped forward. "What did he mean his part of the deal? I thought the marriage was merely for social standing?"

She shook her head "No, when my husband died he left a lot of unpaid debts. We're... we're going to lose the manor and everything... The count had offered to help with our financial problems"

William didn't know what to say or do. He felt he should say something but he didn't know what "I'll.. find Victoria" was all he managed

***

Victoria was sitting on the steps outside, her shoulders shaking as she quietly cried. William walked over and sat next to her.

She looked up at him, her eyes so sad "Why is she like this?" She asked "What did I ever do to make her like this?"

He shook his head, not knowing to answer. He realised how blessed he'd been with his own mother. He pulled her into his arms and slowly stroked her hair "Everything will be ok" He promised.

***

"So, let me get this straight" Mary-Kate said, walking over to stand next to her sister "You were broke so you practically sold your daughter to make money?" She shook her head "Lady! Haven't you ever heard of getting a job?!"

Victoria's mother shook her head "The way you speak... so strange" She answered.

"Stop changing the subject" Ashley cut in.

"I know it was wrong! I always knew but I didn't know what else to do. I was always so weak. Joshua was the strong one. When he died.. I didn't know what to do. The guilt was eating me up inside. What kind of mother was I to do what I did? But.. I guess I justified it by the hope that she'd find happiness. My marriage was an arranged one and I found happines. But everything about this marriage was different. And I knew that..." Her eyes filled with tears. "What have I done?"

Ashley offered her a hand "It's now time to fix what you've done"

The three walked outside. Victoria had now stopped crying and was quietly sitting there with William. She glanced up at her mother then looked away.

"Will can I talk with you?" Mary-Kate asked him. They walked away and Ashley followed.

Victoria watched them go and heard her mother sit down next to her.

"Honey? I'm.. I'm so sorry" She said, tears streaming down her face "I love you so much. Please.. please say you'll be able to forgive me someday"

There was so much hurt and anger inside her, Victoria had thought she'd never be able to forgive or understand her mother. She didn't know what could ever take away the pain. But as she found herself reaching out and wrapping her arms around the broken and sobbing woman beside her she felt a little bit of the pain being awashed away, a little of the pain subsiding.

"I'll try" She whispered "I'll do my best"

***

It was a joyous day, the entire village had gathered to celebrate the wedding of William and Victoria. Though they were already married they had decided to hold a second wedding, this time their parents and friends could attend.

Ashley and Mary-Kate couldn't have been more happy for them as they walked up the aisle as bridesmaids and witnessed the smiles and love between the young couple as they exchanged vows.

They danced till they couldn't dance anymore after the ceremony and encouraged lady Kelly and Victoria's mother to join them.

It was amazing how much the relationship between Victoria and her mother had changed in the last week. They'd talked over everything that had happened and Victoria was finally starting to understand how her mother had felt, and her thinking in the whole thing.

Her mother had moved in with Lady Kelly, opting to sell the Manor and get out of debt, the two woman had found themselves getting on tremendously. William and Victoria had brought themselves a picturesque cottage on the outskirts of town.

LIfe seemed pretty perfect.

Mary-Kate and Ashley knew it was time to go.

They said their tareful farewells to everyone, knowing they'd never see them again. Then together they walked out into the field and sat under the same tree they'd arrived at. Mary-Kate opened the book and Ashley leaned against the trunk and closed her eyes.

"...And they lived happily ever after" Mary-Kate concluded the story.

Ashley opened her eyes and looked around her, once again they were in the library.

"Was it just a daydream?" She asked Mary-Kate

Her sister shook her head and a leaf fell from her hair. The same kind of leaf that had grown on the tree they sat under. She held it up and Ashley smiled.

"We're going to Ace this essay you know?" She said with a laugh.

Mary-Kate nodded "I think we have a pretty good grasp of the story" She said with a smile as she reached out and hugged Ashley "Happily ever after" she whispered again.

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