Rosie, now all grown up, spread her wings and left the Miskin house - taking up an office job in the hopes of pursuing a successful business career.
When the warmer temperatures returned to Willow Creek, Zara and Milo spent a pleasant morning sat outside in Mordecai's garden. Having put many years of work into his hobby, the ageing green-fingered gentleman had successfully grown several different types of plants and crops - all of the highest quality. In fact, selling this produce at a local market each week brought in considerable income, and the family was in one of the best financial situations it had ever known.
Putting its money-making potential aside, it was also a beautiful spot to come and relax... and both Milo and Zara appreciated some quiet time away from the little ones, as much as they loved them. They had recently started school, and were at that age where sibling rivalries and silly squabbles were rearing their ugly heads. Thus, the garden provided a calm safe-haven where they could get away from it all for a while, without taking them too far away from the little dears... just in case yet another fight broke out.
Zara cuddled up to Milo, casting her eyes over the blooms around them.
"It's beautiful here," she said, softly. "I'm glad things worked out, and we could settle here after all. It would have been a shame not to have this lovely place to sit in."
"Mmm," Milo agreed. "My dad's good with plants, all right. I never really appreciated them when I was young, but you really can tell he takes good care of them."
As she looked again, Zara spotted something in the middle of a flowerbed.
"Well, he's missed that," she added, pointing. "Look. A big, wilting weed, right next to those daisies. If he's not careful, they'll spread all over the place."
"Well spotted," Milo told her. "I'd best pull it up."
Slowly, he got down on one knee upon the grass, reached into the flowerbed, and plucked out the offending plant. As he tossed it aside, he smiled, and turned to face Zara.
"Actually..." he said, "whilst I'm down here, there's something else I should do."
He reached into his pocket, and produced a small, golden object. An engagement ring. As Zara began trembling with excitement, Milo held it up to her - the diamond upon it shining in the sunlight.
"Will you marry me?"
Another dream come true. Nodding, Zara allowed Milo to slip the ring onto her finger, and then helped him to his feet. Once he was standing upright again, Zara giggled, jumped into Milo's arms, and kissed him passionately.
To celebrate their engagement, the happy couple decided to take the triplets on a family outing to the park. Due to the children's schooling and Milo and Zara's busy careers, it wasn't very often that they got to spend some quality time together.
Upon their arrival, Mackenzie immediately made a beeline for the playground. Whilst not a particularly active child, he had hopes that it would give him an opportunity to meet other children. He did love his sisters, but they could get on his nerves sometimes - he needed friends outside of the house, too.
Glancing around the climbing frame and seesaw, he was saddened to find that he was the only child there. He was about to turn back and rejoin Laura and Louisa, when he suddenly spotted a little girl searching for something in the bushes. She seemed vaguely familiar... perhaps he had seen her around school? Being naturally good-natured, he followed his first instinct - to approach her and offer his assistance.
"Are you OK?" he asked her, gently. "Have you lost something?"
"Yeah," the girl replied. "Dropped my damn bubblegum."
Upon hearing this, Mackenzie instantly burst into giggles. This girl was his age, but she'd just used a bad word. He knew it was naughty - but it was kind of funny at the same time.
"Here," he said, once he'd collected himself. "I'll help you look for it."
After a few more minutes of searching, Mackenzie finally spotted a small, paper-wrapped square among some shrubs - the words "HAPPY BUBBLE" printed all over its surface. He held it out for the girl to take back, but as she did so, she had second thoughts.
"It's OK," she said. "You can keep it. As a thank you."
"Are you sure?" Mackenzie asked.
The girl nodded. Grateful, Mackenzie slipped it into his trouser pocket.
"I think I've seen you in the hall at school once or twice," the girl added, smiling. "You seem cool. What's your name?"
Mackenzie held out his hand for her to shake.
"Nice to meet you," he told her.
It seemed Roxy didn't quite understand what he was doing, as she high-fived him instead.
"You too," she said. "Hey - you wanna go play on the monkey bars?"
The pair scurried off together. Upon reaching the monkey bars, Mackenzie clambered up carefully and awkwardly, whilst Roxy leaped up like a lioness, and was soon rushing from bar to bar at great speed.
Mackenzie watched his new companion with interest. She was strange, for a girl. To begin with, her hair wasn't long, nor filled with ribbons and bows. It was short and spiky - more like a boy's, really. At one point, she misjudged a swing and fell down onto the sand-covered surface below, causing a massive hole to be ripped in the kneecap of her jeans. However, there were no tears... no trembling lip. She simply laughed it off and climbed back up again, as if nothing had happened. Clearly, she was very brave.
As Roxy continued her clambering, she spotted two-grown ups sat on a bench nearby.
"Is that your mum and dad?" she asked Mackenzie, swinging with one hand and pointing with another.
Mackenzie looked over. Even from that distance, he could make out a familiar pink jacket and purple fedora.
"Yes," he confirmed. "That's them. Where are yours?"
"Don't have none," Roxy replied bluntly. "They're dead."
Mackenzie froze, shocked: not only by the idea of losing one's parents, which was a horrifying notion to him, but also by the matter-of-fact way Roxy had expressed it, and then had carried on playing, as if it was nothing at all. However, she'd noticed her playmate's silence.
"I live with my auntie and uncle," she explained, hurriedly. "My uncle's OK, but my auntie - she's a bit strict."
Mackenzie was relieved to hear that Roxy did have some family. However, something within him still told him it would be best to change the subject.
"You... you swing really well," he told Roxy.
"Thanks," she replied. "I practise lots. I'm gonna be a hero when I grow up."
"Me too!" Mackenzie cried, delightedly.
Roxy turned to look at him.
"There can't be two heroes," she said. "You'll have to be my sidekick."
Mackenzie knew she was joking - there was a cheeky smile on her face. All the same, he wasn't going to let this lie.
"Nuh-uh!" he snapped back. "You'll be my sidekick!"
"I don't think so!"
The two of them burst into laughter - each happy to have found a kindred spirit. However, their play session was interrupted when a shrill, sharp voice rang out loudly across the park.
"Roxanne Sakura Rhodes! Come here this instant!"
Roxy sighed in disappointment, and dropped down from the bars - landing more carefully and skillfully this time.
"That's my auntie," she explained. "I'd better go. See you later, Mac."
Before Mackenzie could answer her, she'd hurried away across the grass. As he made his way down from the monkey bars, ready to go back to his family, he suddenly became aware of Roxy had just called him.
"Mac." He liked it. Short, and snappy. He wouldn't tell his family, though. They could still call him "Mackenzie". "Mac" was going to be his special name... the one he used with his new friend. With Roxy.
Mac and Roxy - the future heroes of Willow Creek.
As he headed towards the bench where his parents were waiting, he wondered how soon he would see her again.
Three weeks later, Milo and Zara tied the knot.
As always, a Miskin wedding provided the perfect opportunity for the family to reunite and catch up. Rosie came back to the family home for the day. Matthias and Aaron were in attendance, along with their now grown-up daughter Tamara - and their newest addition, a second little girl named Alanna. And naturally, Miranda and Marnix were both there, too - each of them happy to see their dear sibling so wonderfully wed.
By sundown - when the celebrations were drawing to a close - Miranda and Marnix were both eager to get a bit of breathing space. They decided to leave the party behind for a little while, and go for a walk in the nearby woods.
After strolling together through the trees for a while, they settled down to rest in a grassy glade. Miranda, tired but light-hearted, looked up at the stars, smiling. Marnix soon came to join her, sitting down by her side.
"Everything's worked out so well," Miranda said joyfully. "Milo's happy. Zara's happy. They have good jobs, and a lovely little family. We're still making our music... and I love you very much. I don't see how things can get much better."
"I love you, too," Marnix replied. "And I've been thinking."
"Well, weddings are nice and all," Marnix said, "but you've gotta admit - they're a bit on the pricey side. With all the decorations, and the food, and everything... it's gonna cost a small fortune by the time you're done."
"Perhaps," she admitted. "But those things help to make it special."
"All the same..." Marnix said, slowly reaching one hand into his pocket, "... maybe we should help them get their money's worth."
As Miranda turned to him, confused by his comments, she shrieked in delight as she noticed Marnix was holding a ring.
"Come on, Miranda," he said, grinning. "Let's head back there and get hitched. Right here, right now."
After putting the ring onto her finger - just as her new sister-in-law had done only a few weeks earlier - Miranda grabbed Marnix's hand, pulled him to his feet and dragged him back to the Miskin house, racing through the woodland as fast as her feet could carry her.
They made it back just as Mordecai and Lily were cleaning up. As Miranda held up her hand excitedly and gave them their good news, they whooped and cheered joyfully, and gathered everyone back together for the second exchange of vows that day.
And thus, before the day was over, both of the Miskin and Van Halen siblings had married the loves of their lives.
However - all lives, even those that have been well-lived, must come to an end...