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"Every rose is a wish." Kathryn smiled at the thought.

Inhaling the sweet perfume of the bloom in her hand, she thought back to other memories when the scent of roses had filled her senses.

Roses made her think of  sweet, curmudgeonly Boothby and her days at the Academy. Unfortunately, Boothby also made her think of Species 8472 and she shook her head at the thought. An exuberant Q also didn't count; that much she knew with certainty.

No, the pink-colored rose that she'd been given by Chakotay after she'd almost died was the rose that stood out for her. That rose had been special, more special than she'd been able to admit to him at the time. She was glad she'd placed it in stasis, and that it had survived the perilous trip home.

Looking at the flower in her hand, Kathryn could acknowledge just how grateful she had been that he had refused to give up on trying to save her, then and on many other occasions in their years together, in spite of herself.

Little had she known that a pink rose is itself a symbol of gratitude. 

A knock at the door brought her back to the present, and she looked over to see her sister opening the door quietly.

"You're ready?" Phoebe asked, with a tender smile and a raised eyebrow.

Rising from her chair, Kathryn smiled and nodded before making her way to her sister's side. She hugged Phoebe tightly, overcome with thankfulness that her sister was with her.

Phoebe hugged Kathryn just as fiercely in return. "Come on. Mom's waiting."

After a quick peek in the mirror and a fortifying breath, Kathryn nodded and left the room. She could hear a piano playing, and soft voices murmuring, which grew louder as they approached the decorated patio.

Kathryn stopped at the double doors, watching as Phoebe made her way up the aisle. Breathing deeply, Kathryn closed her eyes to better appreciate how precious this moment felt. She truly was indebted to every human, alien and deity that had any part in getting her, her crew and her ship back to Earth. Even the painful losses and trials were never forgotten or belittled, but acknowledged as a part of her history - that helped shape the woman she had become. And for that, she was grateful.

Their timing was right. Their time was now. They considered themselves lucky to have survived, to have gotten home, and to be together. They took nothing for granted.

Everyone who knew them felt they deserved this hard-earned contentment, and wished them a long life of love and happiness.

Opening her eyes, Kathryn caught sight of her smiling groom, standing straight and tall  in front of the assembled guests. She smiled broadly in return, and began to walk up the aisle towards him, cradling the precious flower in her hands.

It all began with a single rose.



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