A/N:: This is my response to the iPod shuffle challenge for Joseph and Clarisse. The rules of the challenge is that you must put your iPod on shuffle and shuffle the songs ten times, writing a story for each of the ten songs before each song ends. 1. "You Raise Me Up" – Josh Groban
Joseph sat alone on a bench in the middle of the garden. He took a deep breath to clear his mind, allowing the scent of Clarisse's favorite flowers to engage his senses. He did not move when he heard her walking up to him. It had been one of "those" days, and he knew he was not emotionally strong enough to look into her compassionate face.
1. "You Raise Me Up" – Josh GrobanWhen I am down and, oh my soul, so weary; when troubles come and my heart burdened be, then, I am still and wait here in the silence until you come and sit awhile with me.
She placed her hand gently on his shoulder and sat down beside him. He released a shaky breath as she took his hand into her own. They sat in silence for a few moments; he knew she would never force him to speak until he was ready. Her presence in itself already made him feel stronger. The fact that she would be there for him meant more to him than he could ever say.
Clarisse stood suddenly, making Joseph think that she was leaving. Instead, she wrapped her arms tightly around him, as if offering her own strength to him, and kissed him softly at the top of the head.
2. "Ever Ever After" – Carrie UnderwoodNo wonder your heart feels it's flying, your head feels it's spinning. Each happy ending's a brand new beginning. Let yourself be enchanted. You just might break through to ever ever after. Forever could even start today.Clarisse took Joseph's hand and squeezed it tightly. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles lovingly. He took a deep breath and released it slowly to calm his nerves. She flashed him a bright, reassuring smile and cleared her throat.
"Are you ready, Joseph?"
He nodded, and she indicated to the servants that she was ready for the doors to the celebration party be opened. Joseph stared admiringly into her face. There was no greater feeling than this – for her to stand with him as his wife.
3. "Just the Way You Are" – Billy JoelI said I love you, and that's forever, and this I promise from the heart: I could not love you any better. I love you just the way you are.Clarisse stared into the mirror with a definite frown on her face. She turned her head slowly from left to right and sighed.
"What's wrong, darling?" Joseph asked, stepping behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist.
Clarisse sighed once more as she leaned back into his embrace.
"I'm old..." she replied simply, her voice low.
"What?" Joseph asked incrediously.
He almost laughed at the mere suggestion that his queen was anything but stunningly beautiful, but seeing the serious and slightly hurt look on her face, he instantly thought better of it.
"Clarisse" he whispered and kissed her lightly on the neck. "You're gorgeous, and I love you... just the way you are."
4. "Up Where We Belong" – Joe Cocker & Jennifer WarnesWho knows what tomorrow brings in a world where few hearts survive? All I know is the way I feel; when it's real, I keep it alive."May I have this dance?"
Clarisse smiled and softly caressed Joseph's handsome face.
"Of course," she replied, taking one of his hands as he placed the other on her waist.
He gazed into her face, mesmerized by her pure beauty. They began to dance gracefully to the music, whirling around the dance floor as if they were the only ones present in the room full of people.
Even when the dance had ended, Joseph did not release his grip on Clarisse's waist as he led her off the dance floor. When they reached the back of the crowd, Clarisse kissed Joseph's lips with a soft passion.
"Thank you, Joseph, for everything." 5. "She's So High" – Tal Bachman
5. "She's So High" – Tal BachmanFirst class and fancy free, she's high society. She's got the best of everything. What could a guy like me ever really offer? She's perfect as she can be; why should I even bother?Joseph watched Clarisse from across the room. He smiled softly as he saw her laugh in a way that brightened her entire countenance. As she turned towards him, she inclined her head and winked at him. The way the light momentarily flashed the jewels in her crown caught Joseph's breath; it was the same type of old reminder he was always ultimately given – she was the queen and the picture of perfection, and he was nothing more than a bodyguard. There was no way that Clarisse could ever love a lowly man such as himself; why should he even bother?
6. "She Is" – The FrayShe is everything I need that I never knew I wanted. She is everything I want that I never knew I needed.Joseph couldn't help but laugh at himself. He was in love; in love with his best friend, with the queen. He never could have imagined himself in this situation in a million years, yet there he was, head over heels for her. To him, she was perfect. He wanted her, it was true, but it went far deeper than that; he needed her. He didn't know who he was without her and couldn't imagine his life without her in it, just as he couldn't remember his life before her.
7. "Crazy for This Girl" – Evan & Jaron
Would you look at her? She looks at me; she's got me thinking about her constantly, but she don't know how I feel. And she carries on without a doubt. I wonder if she's figured it out; I'm crazy for this girl."What are you thinking, Joseph?" Clarisse asked noticing his pensive look.
"Oh, nothing, Your Majesty. I'm just a bit tired."
Clarisse nodded but did not believe his explanation completely, especially with the distinctive reddening of his cheeks when he answered her.
Their eyes locked, and Clarisse smiled shyly at him. He hated to lie to her, even if it were only a small white lie, but he couldn't possibly tell her what was really on his mind; he loved her, but he was certain that she had no idea. How could he tell her such a thing, after all?
8. "And So It Goes" – Billy JoelI spoke to you in cautious tones; you answered me with no pretense, and still I feel I said too much. My silence is my self-defense."There's something I wish to tell you, Clarisse," Joseph said nervously.
Clarisse nodded, patiently giving him her full attention.
"I want you to know that I... care deeply for you."
He hadn't meant to take the easy way out. Love. He meant to tell her that he loves her. For a brief moment, the look on her face told him that she understood this, but Joseph pushed the thought away.
"I care deeply for you as well," she replied sweetly. "I always have."
Joseph sighed to himself, realizing that she obviously could not have meant it in the same way he had. And so it goes, he thought regretfully. And so it goes...
9. "Said I Loved You, But I Lied" – Michael BoltonSaid I loved you, but I lied, 'cause this is more than love I feel inside.The lights were darkened in the bedroom. The window was open, allowing the cool summer breeze to blow gently in the room. Clarisse sighed happily as she snuggled closer into her new husband's arms.
"Clarisse," Joseph spoke softly and suddenly. "I know I've told you that I love you, but... I lied."
She raised up in his arms, but before the words had time to sink in completely, he continued speaking.
"This is more than love I feel for you. Love alone can't possibly feel this strong."
Clarisse's eyes filled with tears.
"Oh, Joseph," she whispered before leaning into him and kissing him passionately.
10. "A Whole New World" – Peabo Bryson & Regina BelleA whole new world, a new fantastic point of view. No one to tell us no or where to go or say we're only dreaming.From the instant that Clarisse had said "I do," she felt that her entire life was just beginning anew. She couldn't explain it completely, but she had no question of what she felt. Now, as they celebrated their new marriage together with the large party of people, Clarisse could not help but wish that she were away from it all, alone with her husband.
"Are you ready to go, love?" Joseph asked, as if reading her mind.
Clarisse flashed a smile.
"Really? We can leave?"
He laughed softly.
"Of course we can leave. I'm sure that no one would blame us if we left a little early, if they noticed at all."
"Then let's go," Clarisse replied adamantly.
Joseph took her hand and led her through the doors and up the stairs. She trembled with excitement, feeling very much as if she were being led into a whole new world with and by the man she loved.