"Time stands still, Beauty in all she is, I will be brave,
I will not let anything take away whats standing in front of me,
Every breath,
Every hour has come to this."

- Christina Perry "A Thousand Years"

To Have You Once Again

Chapter 25 : I Have Loved You

Had it all just been a dream?

She sat alone in silence, hugging her knees to her chest, her hair draped about her body like a warm blanket. She had no idea how long she'd been sitting here. Everything was just kind of numb. Not numb in a bad way though, she felt pleasantly numb. She felt very warm, and serene. There was silence all around her, nothing but warm light, and a field of flowers. She felt almost at home, like nothing could harm her here. She had no real thoughts, no regrets, no pain, only the odd sensation from time to time, that it would all end. But where would she go from here? What else was left for her but this beautiful place of peace?

She rested her chin on her knees and closed her eyes, her mind swept up in silence again. Her body feeling nothing but pleasantly numb. Complete.

Darien placed the last box of his things into his trunk and closed it. He turned and smiled at Rei who stood with her arms stretched out towards him, a slight pout protruding through her smile. He stepped into her warm embrace with a chuckle.

"Oh, promise you will call me as soon as you get there," Rei hugged him tightly.

"Of course I will," Darien chuckled as they parted. They stared at each other for a long moment, sadness passing through their eyes.

"We've been through a lot together you and I," Rei smiled a small smile. Darien nodded slightly, "You are so brave." She said quietly.

Darien looked down, placing his hands in his pockets, "It's a good opportunity to get away, clear my head a bit, get some things in order," he kicked at the ground, "Also, it'll help get it off of her parents' hands," he looked up up at Rei, giving her a smile once more before pulling her into a friendly one armed hug.

"I'm gonna miss you, you pain in the ass," Rei clung to him tightly. After everything they'd been through, she had come to care for him as a close friend, if not like a sister.

"I'll miss you too Rei," he smiled down at her, "You can come up and visit whenever you want." She smiled up at him.

"Oh, I almost forgot," Rei reached into her pocket and pulled out a small box. Darien looked down at it, confused, as she held it towards him, "I think it'll be safer with you," Rei said softly, her eyes not leaving the box she held in her hands.

Darien took it and gently opened it, finding Her crystal inside. Darien looked up at Rei, pushing the box back towards her, "I can't take this Rei."

Rei shook her head, her eyes wet with tears, "Yes you can. It'll keep her close to you. After all it's her love for you that saved us all. Something is telling me it's better in your hands. I know it, and I know you know it." She smiled, "Just take care of it." Darien looked down at the crystal, it's light still very very faint, and closed the box.

They said their final good byes and Darien got into his car. He put the car in drive and smiled at Rei once more. She raised her hand and waved as he began to pull away. Watching her watch him drive away, tears falling from her eyes.

He was crazy to be doing this. Moving to Her apartment, but it needed to be done. Even if for a short while to tie up loose ends. He knew it'd be too hard on her parents.

He was passing by the ocean, the sunlight shining off of the water. He was almost half way there, when a song came on the radio. He'd never heard it before. It was slow, and beautiful. His heart was pained, his mind plagued by memories of old, memories they never got the chance to make.

He remembered her creamy skin, the subtle pink of her lips. The depth of her ocean blue eyes. Her beautiful smile, tender laugh. He missed her so much.

His eyes welled up with unfallen tears. He had to pull over and calm himself down. His throat sore from being choked up, he stared out at the ocean, the sea breeze filtering through his hair. His eyes found the box Rei had given him on the dashboard. He picked it up, opening it. It still had it's dim glow, barely there. The sun's light caught it, sending millions of tiny little sparkles of light on him and around his car. He smiled down at it before closing it and replacing it on his dashboard. After a few more moments, he began driving once more, feeling calm enough to continue. He could do it. He wouldn't quit now.

Darien turned the key in the lock and took a breath, before he stepped into the apartment. Her scent still lingered. He looked around, it wasn't bare, but it didn't look anything like her room at home. She did have a beautiful apartment though.

He bent down and opened the cat carrier, "Here you go Luna," he said softly.

Luna didn't move at first, she just stared out, unsure if she had made the right decision in coming with him. But she knew he'd need the company, just like She did.

Darien closed the door behind him and put a box down on the table before walking to the balcony doors. She was right about the score on the beautiful view. Millions of sparkles winking up at him off of the waves, and it was beautiful.

He finished bringing up the rest of the boxes from his car as the kettle began to whistle. He made himself a cup of tea, taking a sip as he leaned back against the counter, looking around at the bare kitchen.

He picked up a box labeled 'bedroom', and stared at the closed bedroom door. Taking a quick, deep breath, he opened the door and switched on the light. The bed was unmade, some of her clothes were strewn across the floor. It was in the exact same state as it had been when She left it. Darien took in another deep breath as he stepped into the room, placing the box on the bed. He put is hands in his pockets and began to look around the room.

There was a book shelf next to the small dresser. He looked at the few titles she had there, then at the picture of her and the girls next to them. They looked so happy. Her smile beaming brighter than the rest. Next to it was a photo of her and her family. She was so young.

Then his eyes found the photo of Her and himself. He was kissing her temple as she smiled up into the camera. It was a sweet and simple a beautiful moment in time of all the love they shared. It was one of her most favourite photos of them. He remembered her exact reaction when she first saw it.

The pang of loss etched at his heart once again as he breathed deeply, reliving that memory. Living here wasn't going to be easy, but it had to be done. He turned from the shelf and walked to the clothes on the floor. Picking them up, he held them close to his face, taking in a deep breath. They still held her scent. Oh god, how he missed her so much. Dropping them into a laundry basket, he stood in front of the window and watched the moonlight dance on the water like a million diamonds scattered everywhere. He took the box from his pocket, opened it up and placed it on the window sill. The light from the full moon catching on its shining surface. Once again, casting little sparkles around the room, much like the sparkling ocean below.

Darien touched the crystal gently, "I'll take care of you, no matter what," he whispered to it. Then he looked out the window, "Wow, I must be going crazy. I'm talking to it." He gently shook his head and closed his eyes. He could do this. Live here, deal with all the things he needed to. Sure, he could do it. He opened his eyes and looked down at the crystal again, 'Rei did say it will keep Her close,' he thought to himself as he gently touched it again before placing it on the window sill. He then turned to get some more boxes, not noticing the crystal's dim glow grow just a little bit stronger.

The sun was warm, as was the breeze that wafted in through the open balcony doors, brushing along his cheek. He took in a deep breath of the sweet air filled with the scent of the fresh wild flowers he filled the vase with. Luna sat next to it, watching as Darien arranged them.

"What do you think Luna?" He asked as he scratched behind her ears.

"Very beautiful," Luna purred under his touch. Rei had explained everything about Luna, and the dual lifestyle all of the girls lived, so Luna answering back didn't phase him anymore.

Darien smiled down at her as he picked up the vase and placed them on a table by the window, then stood there staring out at the warm afternoon.

It had been three months, one week, two days and fourteen hours since that fateful night. He'd been living in this apartment for almost a week now. Sleeping on the couch because he was still unable to feel comfortable enough to sleep in the bedroom. It was still to unbearable to even be in the room.

His eyes looked over the scenery. He really did like it here. He understood why she'd want to come back. If only things had worked out that way. He looked down at the flowers once more, picking a few wilting petals with a small smile on his lips, before turning to clean up the mess on the counter.

'Everything feels like a dream,' she thought to herself as the flowers gently passed through her fingers as she walked through the field. The wind was strong today, as if a storm was approaching, but the sun still shone brightly, although setting. Her long hair whipped about her face gently, tucking a piece behind her ear she turned towards the sunset, picking a flower. She studied the wild flower she held between her fingers. It's purple hue triggering something in her memory, although she was unsure of what it was. Looking up to the sunset she began walking in its direction.

Why did it feel like she was aimlessly roaming through this field of flowers? Why did she feel so at peace in this place she'd never been? She had an uneasy feeling in her heart though. Like she was forgetting to do something. That feeling that you'll never remember what it was. She looked at the flower in her hand again, and stopped walking.

Sitting down in the tiny clearing, she began to pick more flowers, watching the sun make its descent to the horizon. Her mind full of peace once more, taken hold by the silence around her. The only sound surrounding her was the wind rustling through the field, and a beautiful sound it was.

Rei tossed and turned. She lay on her side staring out into the darkness of her room, her blanket tucked tightly under her chin. Tears beginning to well up in her eyes. Almost every night since that night she had cried herself to sleep. She missed her friend so much.

"Stupid, stupid," she thought to herself, "Like that was the only choice you had." Rei sniffled quietly, she would have this argument in her head every night. She knew if she'd been in the same position, she'd have chosen that same choice. Then with that thought, the guilt would seep through with the thought that she should have done the same thing. Instead of losing her best friend, she should have given up her own life to save them all. Rei sniffled once more, closing her tired eyes, tears wetting her pillow.

She felt a soft hand touch her cheek, "Don't cry Rei," she heard a soft voice and quickly opened her eyes. But she was alone. The sensation on her cheek though was still there. Rei sat up, her own hand on her cheek.

"Was it really you?" She asked softly into the darkness, but there was no reply, save the gentle breeze outside her door answering in silence, the scent of flowers lingering.

Rei heard soft footsteps behind her, but didn't move or shift. Lita knelt down beside her, "Hey," she said softly with a small smile.

Rei smiled softly in return, "Hey."

They sat in silence for a few moments until more footsteps approached. Both Amy and Mina knelt beside them. Rei looked to both of them and smiled, "I guess it's one of those days for all of us, huh?"

The girls answered with a smile before looking to the little memorial stone they had made for their beloved leader and friend. Each feeling united. Neither of them had contacted the other, they'd all felt the need to visit on their own.

The warm breeze picked up around them as they all stared at the piece of stone in front of them. A sadness aching within.

"I like the flowers you planted Rei," Amy's soft voice breaking the silence that surrounded them. She bent forward to remove some dead leaves from the multi-hued flowers that surrounded the stone.

"Yeah, it needed some. It was just too plain," Rei's spoke softly.

They sat there for a while in silence. Just enjoying each other's company.

"I had a dream last night," Lita spoke quietly to no one in particular. Amy and Mina looked to Lita, Rei's eyes staying on the stone in front of her, "She came to visit. Told me to be strong," Lita looked down at her folded hands, her eyes wet with unfallen tears.

"I had a dream too," Mina's eyes were wide.

"So did I," Amy continued pruning the flowers around the stone.

"She told me not to cry," Rei said quietly looking down, "It felt like she was right there, like she touched me." Rei's hand reached her face, remembering the sensation.

"She told me to be happy, never give up my smile," Mina leaned back onto her hands, stretching her legs out in front of her, crossing them at her ankles. Her eyes thoughtful as she looked up at the dancing leaves in the tree.

"I was told to enjoy life more," Amy smiled, still pruning the flowers, "Not just live in the books."

The girls were silent for a few moments, each thinking to themselves, as the breeze around them picked up slightly, the sun filtering in through the leaves of the tree above them.

"I guess that means she's still with us," Mina sighed happily, yet sadly.

"Doesn't make the hurt any less though," Lita's voice was sad.

"She'll always be here with us," Amy's voice sounded optimistic, "I'm sure of it."

Rei looked at Amy, tears in her eyes, "You really think so Amy?" She asked softly.

Amy sat back on her feet and looked at Rei nodding, with a beautiful smile, her eyes sad but smiling as well.

The girls shared lunch under the tree, near the stone, and hung out for a few hours before finally parting ways. It had been a while since they had spent an afternoon together since that night. It was something they had needed to do, that's for sure. Although painful because it reminded them of their loss, they each needed to share each other's strength, and they did. They each felt a little bit stronger, a little bit more capable of dealing with life without Her. Their love for her would never die though. It would always remain.

Rei stood in front of the stone, alone. The breeze moving through her long dark hair as she tucked a piece behind her ear. She had an odd feeling. Not sure what to make of it, she couldn't figure out if it was good or bad. It was just an odd feeling. She bent down and placed a flower next to the other flowers planted there. Touching the stone with her fingers, a tear fell from her eye as she stood up and went home to finish her chores.

The humming of the crickets were loud in her ear as she hugged her knees to her chest, gazing up at the bright full moon above her. It was big tonight, so close she could almost reach up and touch it. She leaned her head to the side, resting her cheek on her knees and watched the stars twinkle at her. The air smelt so clean tonight, so fresh. The scent of the flowers around her filling her nose pleasantly. She smiled softly to herself as a star shot across the sky.

She remembered the night they spent in the park, star gazing. He had planned a midnight picnic, and brought hot chocolate and blankets. They had spent so many hours laying next to each other, watching the stars. Wrapped in his arms, clinging to his body. She closed her eyes as she remembered his scent, the shape of his lips. his taste. The sound of his voice.

She opened her eyes, suddenly confused. Her mind began to cloud over. Who did she remember so well? Why did she have this memory? All she could really remember if she thought about it hard enough, was this field of flowers.

She sat up straight suddenly, looking around confused. Her eyes fell on the moon, the wind picking up around her. That feeling stirred inside her again. She had forgotten something, and she needed to figure out what it was.

In the corner of her eye she saw another shooting star, but it didn't fade, it kept falling, closer and closer to where she sat. Standing up, she quickly made her way to where the star had fallen, and a light was glowing within the flowers.

She knelt down, parting the flowers that surrounded the light, finding a crystal. Her eyes widened as she reached towards it, the feeling of familiarity suddenly rushing through her veins. She could sense some kind of power, but it felt so familiar, like it was something she'd been missing. Like a missing puzzle piece.

Her fingers just barely grazed its surface when there were sudden flashes of faces in her mind. Flashing behind her eyes. Faces she knew she had to have seen before. Eyes, laughs, scents, noises. Feelings of happiness, sadness, love, were rushing over her. It was overwhelming. What was happening to her?

She fell back onto her hands as her mind was overtaken with images of herself with a group of girls. They were sitting in some diner, laughing, eating. Then they were in a cottage, sipping hot chocolate. Then at a beach, playfully splashing water at each other. Laughter in every scenario playing through her mind. Then new faces appeared, a woman tucking her into bed, kissing her forehead and telling her good night. Then the same woman placing a baby in her tiny arms, telling her this was her new baby brother, and then looking up to see a man smiling down at her. Happiness clearly in his eyes. The same man holding her close, as she cried into his chest, telling her everything was going to be alright. She was safe now.

Then another man's face was looking down at her, into her. The feelings of love overwhelming her senses. He held her tightly, she clung to him, molded her body into his. Visions of them slow dancing before the moon on the balcony. His kisses, his touch, so gentle, yet firm. Like he would never let go. Then his face turned to pain as the vision turned to her turning away from him, pain echoing through her mind.

Sadness crept into her vision, she saw a small almost empty room, feeling tired and drained. Then his face appeared again, filling her with confusion as the feelings of sadness and love mixed in her heart.

She could feel his arms around her, his face looked different, but the love in his eyes hadn't changed. Then the flashes of visions of a battle. Red hair flying. There was rubble and dust everywhere.

She remembered a sacrifice. Then sadness. The knowing that it was the end. She could see herself bent over a body. She saw herself bend down and kiss the lifeless face she held in her hands. Her eyes widened as her memory took hold of her heart with a vengeance. Of course, she had forgotten her life. Her sacrifice. Forgotten her family, her friends. Him. She had forgotten love.

She found herself hugging her knees tightly to her chest, suddenly looking up, a tear falling from her eye, "Darien," she whispered.

The breeze was warm, the sun filtering through the leaves above, the scent of flowers wafting towards him. Darien stood, waiting patiently. For what he wasn't absolutely sure.

The breeze ruffled through his hair as he felt the urge to turn and looked behind him. As he turned, he found an audience of faceless faces. His eyes looked down past them, finding her face, smiling at him with so much love. Her hair was pinned in a messy side bun, tiny flowers in her hair. Her eyes shone so brightly as she walked towards him. It wasn't until he took her hand, and she was standing directly in front of him that he realized he was holding his breath.

Exhaling, she looked up at him with a small giggle. He smiled down at her, reaching a hand to her cheek, "You are so beautiful," he whispered.

Darien turned over, his eyes slowly opening. He just stared into the darkness, reliving the memory of the dream. How he'd wished he hadn't woken up. Almost every night his dreams haunted him. But he didn't want to run from them. Even if it was a dream, at least he could see her, hear her, touch her.

After a few more moments, his tired eyes slowly closed, drifting into another dream.

"Do you think I'll ever be able to come back?" She asked as she braided a rope of wild flowers together.

Darien was laying on his side, leaning on his elbow. He looked up into her blue eyes and smiled, "I don't see why not," he spoke softly as he moved some hair from her face behind her ear. The back of his fingers brushing her cheek. She looked down at him smiling, "I love you," he whispered up to her.

She brought her face to his, "I love you too," she smiled as her lips met his.

It had been almost a full month since Darien had moved in. Things were starting to settle finally. He and Luna were bonding quietly before the t.v. Her purr loud under his hand as she napped in his lap. Yawning, he smiled down at her before moving her from his lap to the couch beside him. "Night Luna," he patted her head gently once more before turning off the t.v. and heading towards the bedroom. He had finally decided to sleep in the bedroom. Finally feeling a little bit more comfortable with it.

Without turning on the light, Darien walked to the window and opened it up to let some of the cool late summer air in. The scent of the ocean filled the room. The moon was full tonight. Its light's reflection dancing on the surface of the water. It was a beautiful night.

In the corner of his eye he saw a small sparkle. Turning, he found the box with the crystal. He had completely forgotten about it. Reaching out, he touched it gently. A beam of bright, white light suddenly illuminated the room, almost blinding him. He covered his eyes with his arm. A strong wind surrounded him, the scent of lavender and wild flowers filled his nostrils.

Suddenly, the wind had died down, and the light faded back into the crystal. Darien uncovered his eyes, blinking a few times so they could adjust and refocus on the brightly, glowing crystal in his hands. His eyes widened in disbelief as he looked past the crystal in his hands finding a silhouette sitting in front of him on his floor. The light from the crystal, and the moonlight filtering in through the curtains gave it a soft glow.

Darien knelt down slowly, unsure of what was going on, until he was on his knees, reaching out towards the body sitting before him with a shaky hand.

Her head raised slowly from resting on her knees which she hugged tightly. Her deep blue eyes looked up at him with a tear falling, and his breath caught in his throat.

"Darien," a whisper fell from her lips.

Darien's hand dropped to his side at the sound of her voice, his eyes filled with confusion. Was this real? Or was he dreaming this? He just sat there, with wide eyes, and a blank stare.

Then he reached out to her slowly once more, his fingers shaky, almost barely touching her soft cheek, "Serena?" He breathed her name softly for the first time in four months. His fingers making contact, her eyes widening at his touch, filled with confusion. He had dreamt of her so many times, and at every touch, the dream would end. But she still sat here, his hand touching her face.

She suddenly jumped into his arms, at the same time as he pulled her to him. They held onto each other tightly, only parting far enough so he could kiss her face a thousand times. He then held her face between his hands and stared into her face. Brushing his fingers against her cheek in a gentle fashion, his fingers remembering the curvatures of her face. Her eyes closed gently at his touch, then opened to stare into his eyes.

"I can't believe I'm actually holding you," his voice whispered as he pulled her face to meet his lips and held her in a long awaited, passionate kiss.

When they parted she smiled up at him, her cheeks wet with tears, "How?" he whispered.

Serena shrugged, "Does it matter?," she said softly. He brought her face to his again and kissed her deeply. It didn't matter how. He didn't care about anything but the fact that she was really here in front of him, kissing him. That it wasn't a dream, that it really was real.

Serena hung onto Darien as their kiss deepened. His hands moving to the small of her back as he pulled her even closer, her body molding to his, her hands in his hair. The amount of happiness between them was unmeasurable. Darien parted their kiss again and stared into her eyes, "I will never let go of you. Ever again," he swore to her with every fiber of his being.

Serena's eyes smiled brightly, "You'll never have to. I'll never leave your side," she promised, meeting his lips with hers again. She kissed him with so much passion. She had wanted this moment so badly. After everything that had happened, she finally felt happy. Whole. Some how, something had given her a second chance, and she wasn't going to give it up, or waste it. She clung to him as he picked her up in his arms and brought her to the bed, his lips not once leaving hers.

The morning sun filtered in through the curtains with the warm breeze. Darien stretched slightly as he turned onto his side, reaching his arm out, finding the bed empty. His eyes popped open, confusion and fear filling his sleepy head. Was it all just a dream?

A sadness overwhelmed him as he sat up, his eyes searching the room. Everything looked normal. His feet touched the floor. As he sat at the edge of the bed, brushing his hand through his hair.

Throwing on a pair of pants, he opened the door, his eyes down as he made his way to the kitchen. He felt a slight breeze wafting through the living room, and noticed the balcony doors were slightly open.

Confused he walked towards them, 'I swear those were closed when I went to bed last night,' he thought to himself.

He moved the curtains aside, and was about to close the doors when his eyes widened at the vision in front of him. There she stood leaning against the balcony railing, wearing one of his shirts, her hair over one shoulder, a cup of coffee in hand. She didn't look as frail as she had the last time he had seen her. She looked much more healthier. Had her light back. He didn't move, he just watched her, smiling as she spoke with Luna. His mind was still refusing to believe that she was actually here with him, standing in front of him.

Serena laughed softly as she turned towards the doors. She saw him and smiled up at him as she stepped into the apartment, "Good morning," she smiled, reaching her lips up for a kiss.

Darien kissed her good morning, holding her shoulders gently. "I thought it was all a dream," he said softly.

Serena smiled up at him and touched his face, "I'm not going anywhere," she spoke softly, smiling before sharing another kiss.

He held her in his arms tightly, breathing in her scent. Happiness filled his body, it felt as if he'd never been happy before. Her arms wrapped around his waist, her face buried in his chest, and she smiled. Her heart singing. She would spend the rest of her life with this man. Nothing could separate them ever again. She would with everything in her to remain next to this man.

"How about some breakfast?" She heard Darien's voice through his chest and smiled up at him.

"Breakfast sounds wonderful. I am starving." She smiled as he reached his lips down for another kiss.

Serena woke up, the sun shining softly on her face. Her head lay on his chest, and she listened to his breathing for a while. Tightening her arm around his waist a little bit, she hugged him, just happy to be near him. She was unsure of the events leading up to this very moment. The last year or two had been crazy. She didn't know what to make of it, or how to explain it. However, she knew that her and Darien would never be apart. That's what mattered.

The next issue she had to worry about, was telling everyone she was back. How would she do it? What would she say? Darien had told her that her parents had had some kind of ceremony for her. That the girls had erected some memorial monument for her. What would she do? Could she just call them up and say 'Hey, yeah I'm not dead. Hows that for a surprise?'

She took in a deep breath, and felt Darien move slightly under her cheek, then felt an arm around her shoulders, his fingers lightly in her hair. She lifted her eyes to look up at his face, his eyes still closed, his breath still soft. He was so beautiful. She was still amazed at the love she held for this man. This reality of hers was intensely crazy, but she enjoyed it. Loved it. She smiled softly up at his sleeping face before gently getting out of bed. It was mid-afternoon, and they had never made it out the door for breakfast, which she was okay with.

She put on the shirt she wore before, and quietly slipped out of the bedroom, leaving the door slightly ajar before making her way into the kitchen.

She waited for the kettle to heat up, and stared at the phone on the counter. "Planning on making a phone call?" Luna jumped up beside her and grazed her body against Serena's arm affectionately, purring as Serena smiled and scratched behind her ears.

"Do I call them?" Serena asked confused. "Is that how I tell my parents I'm alive? They all think I'm dead." Her voice was soft.

"Why not? It wouldn't be any odder than showing up on their doorstep," Luna smiled up at her, "Best to get it done and over with, and maybe start planning a trip home so your mother can see you face to face."

Serena laughed softly, "Yeah, maybe you're right." She smiled as she continued to pet Luna, the kettle almost whistling.

The sun filtered through the leaves, a warm breeze softly tossing them about the branches. The air smelt of lavender and wild flowers. It was a beautiful clear day. The sun shining, giant puffy white clouds grazing slowly about the blue sky. It was a perfect day.

Darien took it all in, taking a deep breath of the sweet smelling air, a smile upon his lips. Even though he could feel the excitement deep within his belly, he was very calm. He had been waiting almost two years for this. Happiness filled his head as he remembered all the good memories they got a second chance to make. All the moonlit dances on the balcony, afternoons by the beach. All the nights they spent together in each other's arms. He had never felt so happy in his life, then he had the last two years.

She stood with her eyes closed, her breathing soft. It was really happening. She smiled to herself as she thought about him. His smile, his gentle eyes, soft touch, about his strong arms around her shoulders. She was so happy in this moment.

Darien took in another breath of the sweet air before opening his eyes. They moved over the Crowd of faces before him, everything was quiet in his eyes moved past the faces until he found hers. Her eyes were bright, happy. Her smile was beaming with happiness as her eyes caught his. They stared at each other for a long moment before she took her first step towards him. Towards the rest of their life.

Her hair was swept up into a messy side-bun with soft tendrils framing her face, little flowers peeking out. She wore a beautiful strapless, curve hugging gown. She was absolutely beautiful.

As she came up to him, her father handing him her hand, Darien smiled down into her face as she peered up at him smiling still. Love filled their hearts as they stood next to each other, neither one looking away from the other. They spoke of enduring and everlasting love. Of fidelity, and trust. Of happiness and comfort.

Serena peered up into Darien's eyes, their hearts forever connected as one. Mutual love and trust in each other. Darien's lips reached down, as hers reached up, and they shared a simple, but passionate kiss. He held her close to him, her arms wrapped up around his neck, unified in love. There was no one on the planet as they shared this kiss. The first kiss of the rest of their lives, the first kiss of many, many more.

They parted finally, and smiled at each other once more before turning to face the crowd of teary eyed faces. Everyone clapped as they took their first steps as husband and wife, hand in hand, smiles of pure joy and love on their faces.

Darien held his bride close to him as they danced slowly under the stars, the soft glow of the tiny lights above them made her eyes look dreamy. She rested her head against his chest, and held onto him tightly. The day had been so perfect. She'd never dreamed it would have been so perfect. She looked up at him and smiled.

Darien smiled down at her, "What?" He asked softly as they continued dancing.

Serena's smile grew, "I love you," her voice was soft.

Darien smiled and kissed her softly, "I love you too."

Serena rested her head against his chest again as they danced under the stars. The moon beginning to rise, music pooling out over the dance floor, a soft breeze blowing against her cheek. This was all they ever wanted. To be happy, in love, in each other's arms, hearts and soul.

"Love is energy: it can neither be created nor destroyed. It just is and always will be, giving meaning to life and direction to goodness... Love will never die."
-Bryce Courtney

So there she is. Chapter 25, the end of a decade worth of work. I began this fanfic when I was 14, and I am now 25.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter, and are satisfied with this ending. It took me forever to finish. I was going to write two and pick the best one, but I just couldn't bring myself to keeping Serena dead. I think I've finally found some peace within myself, which is why it ended with them together, married. :)

Thanks for all your continued support everyone. Please, please, please let me know what you think. I am so very proud of this.

I'm thinking about re-releasing this story. I'm gonna go try and go through it and edit it, and update it, and maybe lose the first 9 chapters, because they are terrible lol. I dunno.

But please let me know what you think!

Thank you everyone for keeping up with me. Been through a lot during the writing of this story, and it is the very first thing I've completed of all my writing endeavors. Thanks, thanks and thanks!

Much love, lets have a party now! :D 3 3 3

Love, Lindsay