(Enough fluff to create a herd of bunny rabbits. Enjoy, but don't choke on the fluff everywhere!)

Need

It was obvious there was a battle going on within Ella's mind. Of what, he couldn't tell, but it took all his strength to stop himself from sweeping her into his arms and kissing her senseless. He wanted to help, and being on the outside hurt his heart. He wanted to hold her, and rock her back and forth, and tell her that all would be well, but something told him that this wasn't a good idea. So he stood by and watched as his heart ached.

Suddenly she stood, her face still tearstained, but a brilliant quality about her. As though she wasn't of this world, but an angel. His angel.

"No!" she burst out. "I won't marry you. I won't do it. No one can force me!"

"Who would force you?" he said when he could speak. His world was leaving him. Ella wasn't going to marry him.

Ella shook her head, but paced the room. "No matter who," she cried. "I won't, I won't. They can't make me, no one can make me. I won't marry you."

Char was half-smiling at her, feeling her emotions and feeling her joy, but still dying within. She wasn't going to marry him. She loved him, but wouldn't stay with him.

Olive leaned toward Char and said confidently, while smiling unnervingly, "She'll marry you. You told her to. She has to listen." She laughed loudly, as though she couldn't do anything softly. She turned to Ella and added, "Marry him and give me your money."

Ella rounded on Olive. "I won't!" she shouted. "Stop ordering me to!"

Char's mind was whirling along with the room. 'She has to listen'? What did Olive mean? Ella would never do something she didn't want to.

"She doesn't have to marry me," Char said quietly, resigned to his pain. If she didn't want to, he wasn't going to force her. He only wanted her happiness.

"Hush, Olive," Hattie said impatiently. "Ella, go to your room. His Majesty can have no further need of you."

"I have great need of her." Char couldn't tear his eyes away from Ella. He needed her. He needed her like a crop needs water, like a flower needs sunshine. She was his sunshine. His key to survival was imbedded in her spirit, her life, her soul.

She was his soul mate. And there was not doubt in his mind of this.

She whirled on Hattie. ""Hush, Hattie! I don't want to go to my room. Everyone must know I shan't marry the prince." Ella rushed to the doors and flung them open to the streets. "I shan't marry the prince!" she cried and twirled around happily. She rushed into Char's arms, still dizzily happy. She spoke softly, "I shan't marry you." she kissed his cheek, and without even realizing what he was doing, he took her face in his hands and kissed her. He put all his need into that one kiss.

A soft cry escaped her body, and she clung to him. He felt the shakiness of body against his, and he held her close, never wanting to let go. Never wanting to leave her side again. He needed her. He needed her near to him, to his heart.

"Go to your room this instant," Hattie said, beginning to sound rather hysterical, and Char almost laughed at her frenzied expression. "I command you."

Even though Char just wanted hold her to him forever, he pulled away slightly.

"Why won't you marry me?" he asked, "Why not, if you love me?" His eyes were confused. He was wearing his heart on his sleeve, completely open and vulnerable. He hurt in his heart, but he wanted to know. He needed to know. She stared at him, but answered.

"I'm cursed. You wouldn't be safe if I was your wife." His eyes widened. A curse? Of what? Suddenly everything fell into place. "She has to listen" I "command you". She was cursed with obedience. He stared into her puzzled face. What she must have gone through. What she must have to go through. The thoughts of these hardships just made him love her more. He wanted to hold her to him and never let go. He never wanted Ella to feel bad anymore. He wanted her to be happy forever.

When the words had left her mouth, Ella's mouth dropped. He could almost hear the gears turning in her head. Suddenly she reached up and wiped something off his nose. Soot. He almost burst out laughing. He didn't know why, but everything seemed to be falling together.

Ella bit her lip and stared, but soon, comprehension dawned on her face. It was beautiful, and Char couldn't tear his eyes away from her face. It was like a sunrise on a spring morning. Someone spoke behind him and he turned.

"You're free." It was a plump woman he recognized as the cook. Ella broke out of his arms, and he felt weak, and ran to the woman. "The curse is over." Those words meant the world to him. Did this mean...that...he could marry her? That she would be his? Forever?

Mandy, the cook as it turned out, hugged Ella close to her and Char felt a rush of warmth and caring surrounding his love. He was glad that Ella had had love in her life after her mother died.

Ella walked back to him and a fiendish and mischievous look spread throughout her magical green eyes. She tugged off the rag that covered her hair and curtsied properly. He began to smirk. Apparently she did learn something at that finishing school.

"When you asked for my hand a few minutes ago," she began, looking up at him, trying not to grin, "I was still too young to marry." Char held in his laughter. She was amazing and would never stop surprising him. And he loved her even more for it. "I'm older now," Ella continued, "so much older that not only can I marry, but I can beg you to marry me." She knelt before him, her head bowed. Char shook his head as though disappointed with her actions, and pulled her to her feet. She would never bow before him ever again. She would never bow to anyone anymore. Ever. She would be his queen, his wife, his love, his darling, forever. Before anymore words could be exchanged, he kissed her. He put his need, his love, his heart into that kiss, and he felt her respond.

He would've bet a million KG's that Hattie was screeching, people were clapping and Mandy was crying, but he wasn't about to stop kissing Ella to go and check. In fact, if it weren't for his need of oxygen, he wouldn't of ever stopped kissing her.

And of course, though needless to say, this story finishes with two hearts full of love, and a happily ever after.

(R&R please.

~The Sage)