Sophie slowly opened her eyes. She was in her warm, fluffy bed across from a merry, crackling fire. She didn't recall going to bed. She was stuck in that highly coveted moment in which one just awakens from sleep and hasn't exactly entered reality. She stood up and the memories came flooding back to her. ROBERT! She wildly looked around. He wasn't anywhere to be found. She went to her door and leaned her head against it. No noise. He wasn't there. That's all there was to it, Sophie thought. She sank into her wingback chair by the fire. As she stared into the flames, she realized that it had been a dream. Nothing more and nothing less than a dream. This thought gripped her in its vice, and refused to let any ray of hope escape from her soul. Sophie began to sob. She blindly reached up on the mantle and grabbed a picture of Robert. This was his faculty picture from Harvard. They had sent one over to Sophie after she straightened out Robert's affairs. The picture was in black and white, and Robert looked like a movie star from a bygone era. As Sophie clutched the picture to her chest and sobbed uncontrollably, she wailed,

"It was only a dream, it was only a dream. He's never coming back,"

A voice came from somewhere in front of her,

"What's only a dream, Princess?" Sophie opened her eyes. There, kneeling before her was Robert. Before she could do anything, Robert stood up and gently pried the silver picture frame out of her hands. He put it back on the mantle and pretended to survey it as an art critic would a new painting. After a moment's pause, he turned back to Sophie and asked, with a smile,

"You have my picture?" As he said this, Robert slowly walked towards Sophie and extended his arms. This was enough for Sophie to break the bonds of shock that seemed to hold her to the chair. She threw herself into his arms and began to cry. Robert wrapped his arms securely around her and let her cry. She clung tightly to him and tried to stop crying. Robert heard her whisper,

"You came back. You're okay,"

Robert stroked her hair lovingly and said,

"Of course I came back. I would never leave you behind. Besides," Robert said, "I didn't say goodbye," Here, Sophie looked up at him, her emerald eyes filled with tears, and whispered,

"But you did say goodbye. You said, 'Goodbye, Princess, be careful,'" Robert mused over this statement.

"So I did," he murmured, "but all that matters is that you're safe. May I please do the honors?"

"Of course," Sophie said, already knowing what he was talking about. Robert slowly bent down and kissed her, soft and tentatively, but full of emotion and apology. Sophie lost herself in the kiss finally feeling at home. When the kiss ended, Sophie rested her head on Robert's chest. She felt him stagger slightly, and she immediately jerked her head up and said,

"Are you alright?" Robert smiled and said,

"Yes, dear. I am just a little weak," Sophie smiled and led him to the wingback chair by the fire.

"I'll be right back," A few minutes later, Sophie came up carrying a tray of food, followed closely by Marie and Leo, who were carrying three folding chairs. Sophie set down the tray on the table next the chair Robert was in and surveyed the food. A large bowl of a creamy potato soup with cheese and bacon on top took up most of the room. Next to it, there was a crusty piece of bread and a glass. Sophie ran downstairs and grabbed the water pitcher from the table. As she poured the water, she glanced over at Marie. To say Marie was happy would be the understatement of the century. Tears were flowing down her cheeks with disregard to her will for stopping them. Sophie gave the food to Robert who began eating, still with the Monticellan elegance and grace despite his ravenous hunger. After finishing the meal, Robert looked up to Sophie, who was balanced on the arm of his chair. Sophie was shocked to see tears in his eyes.

"Darling, what's the matter? Are you hurt?" Sophie asked, putting a hand to his shoulder.

"N-no…I am alright. S-sorry. I guess I am surprised you, well, that is," Robert spluttered, toying with his napkin in his hands as he tried to formulate intelligible words.

"You're surprised I still love you," Sophie said with a tone of finality. Robert merely nodded and covered his face. Sophie slid off the chair arm and knelt on the floor in front of Robert's shaking, hunched over figure.

"Never…never…. not for one second," Sophie said forcefully, holding his shirt collar in her hands while she looked into Robert's watery blue eyes, "ever doubt my love for you. I may have had my mother and father taken away from me when I was four years old, I may have had to live without my grandmother and brother for over thirty years, I may have had to assist in the murder case of my grandfather. I may have had to watch you go into that ambulance, not knowing if you would come out or what I would do if you didn't. I may have had to live alone for six months without you in my empty flat in Paris. I may have had to hide my engagement from people because I couldn't bear their questions, but I have never nor will I ever stop loving you, Robert, for as long as I live and whatever lies beyond. I want you to know that," Robert nodded, and he pulled Sophie up from where she was kneeling. As they both stood up, Marie and Leo, both in tears, though Leo was suddenly very interested in the grain pattern of the wood floor, took it as their cue to leave. As they turned out of the door, they saw Sophie lean up on her toes and kiss Robert. This kiss wasn't like the first one of the evening. This kiss carried with it the memories of the past, the blessings of the present, and the promises of the future.

Wow. I am literally worn out. I must say, Sophie's speech drained me, putting in so much angst and all. I love when the woman is the one to give the lecture and whatnot. So, please leave reviews and tell me whether or not I should continue. I am not sure, as that closing sentence is a rather good one, if I do say so myself. Also, if you review, if you do want me to keep going, please feel free to give me suggestions/ideas for where this story should go. I love feedback. And finally, may every reader (yes, you read correctly, I did not just say reviewer) have a wonderful holiday season and a blessed and joyous New Year.

P.S. To my loyal reviewer, (you know who you are), a special Irish blessing for you, in the words of my grandfather.

"May you have walls for the wind,

A roof for the rain,

Drinks beside the fire,

Laughter to cheer you,

Those you love near you,

And all that your heart may desire,"

Thank you so much onesongglory23, for staying with me.

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