MEANT TO BE

An It Had To Be You story

"Mama!"

As the scream ran though the house, Ellie sat up from where she was, arranging the tree skirt beneath her Christmas tree, soon after quick footsteps could be heard running in her direction and, sure enough, her six-year-old son came barreling into the family room.

Blake was the splitting image of his father, from the dark hair to the blue eyes. Actually, out of her four children, Blake was the only dark haired one, his three sisters, Claire, Lottie and Gabrielle, were red heads just like her, to their father's delight.

Blake, however, had gotten the short end of the stick. The only boy in a sea of girls, right now, for example, he came running straight to her demanding to be picked up.

"Mama! Look what they did!!" He demanded and Ellie was hard pressed to suppress the smile that crept to her lips as she saw the pink ribbons that tied her son's dark hair in tiny pigtails.

"What happened, darling?" Ellie asked softly as he undid the ribbons.

"I went to take my nap with Rupert and when I woke up, Rupert had on one of Gabrielle's doll's dresses and they were wrapping ribbons in my hair! And when I first tried to escape Claire and Lottie held me down and tried to put powder on my face!!"

Ellie gently scrubbed Blake's face with a lavender-scented kerchief, "Those evil sisters of yours." She said sympathetically.

"You and Papa should have another baby, a boy this time! So I would have a brother and I would be safe from THEM."

"Now, that sounds like an idea." Gabriel Ravenscroft said as he walked in, his daughters had already gone to find him, knowing that Blake would go straight for their mother, the girls had gone to their father to tell him 'their side of the story' so he would soften up their mother and that way they wouldn't get into too much trouble.

Right now, Gabriel looked as piratical as ever, wearing black trousers, a white shirt and a dark gray waistcoat, he wasn't wearing a collar or a cravat, so his tanned throat showed – how the man retained a tan in winter was one of life's mysteries – and Ellie had to catch her breath a little, even when wearing the most boring and civilized clothes, Gabriel always managed to look slightly dangerous and untamed, just like when he was Captain of The Warrior.

"Papa! The girls were being mean to me! Again! And they put a dress on Rupert!" By Blake's tone it was clear that, to him, the ill treatment of Rupert – his beloved toy bear – was the worst offence his sisters had committed! He could deal with make up and pink hair ribbons, but not with his bear in a doll's dress.

"I know, son." Gabriel said, picking his son up like a sack of potatoes (which Blake loved) and swinging him up on his shoulders. "Which is why they are going to apologize," He said loudly and when his three daughters didn't come right away he yelled "Now!"

The girls shuffled in, Claire, the oldest first, then Lottie and finally Blake's twin Gabrielle. The three girls closely resembled each other in a way that was uncanny, all three having inherited Ellie's red hair and mischievous disposition; Gabriel knew he spoiled them rotten, but he wouldn't stand for their being mean to their brother just because they were the majority.

"We are sorry, Blake." Claire mumbled and Lottie followed. Gabrielle just nodded and smiled at him.

"Alright, but you have to promise to leave Rupert alone!"

"Alright," Claire agreed.

"And you have to play with my toy soldiers with me."

Claire and Lottie looked at each other, not liking this but Gabrielle had already nodded and they were left with no other choice than go and play soldiers.

As the children left, Gabriel sighed. "How did you convince me to have so many children, Ellie?" He said.

Ellie huffed. "Like you can keep your hands off me," she said and turned to keep with the preparations for the tree-decoration that would take place later that afternoon.

She didn't get far though, for Gabriel approached her from behind and held her in a firm hug, his tall, strong body curved around her smaller one.

"I might be able to control myself when I get enough of you." He said softly as he kissed the back of her neck.

Ellie shivered. "And when would that be?"

"I don't know. My eightieth birthday, perhaps. But I make no promises." Ellie turned in his arms and kissed him, long and deep, they way he had taught her, the way that never failed to drive him wild. Gabriel pressed closer. "Forget what I just said, I'll want you until the day I die." He said as his hands grabbed her bottom and brought her closer against him.

Ellie surrendered for a while, letting him kiss her and caress her as he whished, until he lifted her and began to walk toward the small alcove just outside the family room.

"Gabriel, no." Ellie moaned, "The children are near by."

"I know," He said in a hushed tone, "But that's why, dear heart, doors have locks."

…00000…

A few days later, Christmas came, and Ellie lay quietly in Gabriel's arms, savoring the expectation of Christmas morning, with presents and hot chocolate and her family around her.

Ever since her parents had died when she was a girl, Ellie had hated Christmas. Well, perhaps not hated exactly, but it had always been an unhappy day. For the longest time she hadn't had any family, and she had only had one friend, Bea – Gabriel's sister – and, frankly, there was little joy on staying at Maidstone School for Girls every holiday, even Christmas, while all the other girls went home. That was it, for a long while, Christmas reminded Ellie that she did not have a home.

Well, things had changed now.

Gabriel's arms held her and his warmth surrounded her as she snuggled closer. Gabriel kissed the top of her head and left the bed to get dressed, he was sure his children would be up and about soon; after all, it was Christmas morning. He was just finishing fastening his shirt, and Ellie had just finished putting on a comfy day-dress when their four little cherubs began knocking at their door. They were still in their nightclothes, their eyes bleary.

"Can we go see the presents now?" Claire asked.

Gabriel took his time answering, "I suppose," he said finally.

The children shirked and ran out of the room while Gabriel and Ellie followed at a more sedate peace. By the time they reached the Christmas tree, there was wrapping paper all around, as the kids tore through their presents; Ellie was especially touched when she saw that her daughters had made a present for Rupert, they, with the help of their nanny, had fashioned Rupert a pirate costume, so they had something to dress him up instead of squishing the plush bear into Gabrielle's doll's dresses.

Blake had been delighted too and quickly decked Rupert in his pirate gear – complete with an eye-patch and all. As the kids laughed, getting along for once, Ellie felt herself tear-up, it didn't matter how much time had passed, her family would always be a miracle to her.

"Why don't you lot go see Cook?" Gabriel suggested when he noticed Ellie's tears. "I'm sure she has many a Christmas treat just waiting for you."

Blake and the girls screamed their ascent and ran to the kitchen.

Gabriel went to his wife at once. "My love?"

"I'm happy, Gabriel, you know I am! These are happy tears."

Gabriel's fingers brushed away her tears. "Is a funny notion you have, this concept of happy tears."

"I just never dreamed of this." Ellie explained, "You know how close we came to missing each other… all of this, our love, our home, our babies, it could have not happened. Sometimes – sometimes I can't help to think about that and I wonder…"

Ellie couldn't go on but Gabriel didn't need her to, he hadn't dreamed of this life either. He, like Ellie, had lost his parents at a young age and for the longest time his only goal in life was to ensure his sister Bea's happiness, he had never expected more out of life than contentment over Bea's well being. But that had all changed when he had fallen in love with Ellie.

"I'd like to think that no matter what I would have met you, somehow, someway." He said.

Ellie's smile turned cheeky. "That's because you love me so much you can't imagine life without me."

"You're exactly right," Gabriel said, kissing the tip of her nose. "Some things are meant to be, like you and me."

---000---

The End