Super sorry about not updating this. Sort of fell into major procrastinations for some reason. But whatever. The wait is over. Enjoy!

Time has the power to change anything, to defeat anything, to create anything… It moves people like no other force in the world. It can add or subtract, heal all wounds, tell what is yet to be, and it does all of this for itself. It paces for no one, rewinds for no one, the only consent it has is its own, and its only concern is to move forward at the same pace it will always run at…

Chapter 5 – Hearts Aglow

'The sun looks so beautiful…' she thought, '…and to think, its wrath threatens me…'

Her elbows leaned on the hard cake bricks of the balcony rails, one hand to her cheek as she stared at the sun. She'd normally be out of the light of the sun, especially as its summer rage would melt her candy composition. But the weather forecast predicted that the day would be at an all time low temperature of all summer and the sun was just setting. She figured there would be no harm in watching the sun drop in the sky by herself. Well, she wouldn't be alone soon. She was waiting for someone.

She had been staring at the sunset while she waited. Now that she was able to acknowledge the sun's rays and feel its warmth, she understood how important the astronomical spectacle was for the planet, and that it was just a natural occurrence that she shouldn't dislike it for. The sun was a figure of time, how it comes and goes, leaves and returns, forever stuck in the perpetual circle of time. The sun was to be loved when it was there, and missed when night replaces it. Night seemed like the enemy to the sun, but she knew the fact hidden underneath, that when there was night, day would follow, sooner or later. And like day, there was always the night to look forward to as an escape from the sun and its light. Time determines when day and night ends and begins, and no other power in the world could move the sun or moon like that.

The power of time is an incredible force.

Don't let me down,

"Princess!" the voice of a young boy rung behind her.

She turned around at the sound of the call. There, in the doorway, stood the boy with his iconic hat wrapped around his head. In his hand was a torn open envelope and letter. Her curiosity piqued at the sight of the paper and she was anxious to learn of what was written on it, as it was special enough for Finn to bring to her, but she hushed any words creeping in her throat as she knew she'd find out soon enough. The boy waved his free hand as he approached the pink princess, smiling as she smiled at his appearance.

Don't let me down.

Yes, like the sun, his smiling face was warming. And she knew that every day when she'd fall asleep, there'd be that heartwarming face to look forward to.

"Hey Finn," she greeted, pulling her elbows away from the balcony, "I've already told you to just call me 'Bubblegum' from now on, remember?"

Don't let me down,

Finn reached one hand behind his head in modesty, "Sorry, I keep forgetting. Old habit, you know?"

Bubblegum sighed. He looked so cute when he's shy, she thought.

Don't let me down.

She approached the boy and wrapped her arms around him, leaning slightly due to the difference in their height. She sighed softly as she closed her eyes, adoring the embrace. Finn obliged and wrapped his arms around the princess's waist, gripping tightly as he shut his eyes and inhaled her sweet scent. The boy would've normally been embarrassed in a close position like this, especially with the girl he loved, but time had mellowed out that feeling as the two were much closer now than they've ever been. They were no longer admirers, but close lovers, as time had allowed it. Time had caused their hearts to grow in the presence of each other, longing for unity but distant by disbelief. Such trivial matters where a thing of the past, the aching feeling of the absence of another heart, the pain of time taunting them with their presence, so close to each other yet unable to have what they wanted.

The power of time is an incredible force.

Nobody ever loved me like she does,

Finn parted from the hug after a while, waving the letter in the air and showing it to the princess, "Anyway, guess who I got a letter from?"

Bubblegum tilted her head, "Is it someone I know?"

Finn moved away from the princess and towards the balcony, "Oh, you know him pretty well."

Ooh she does,

She hummed, "…I assume it's not someone from the Candy Kingdom?"

"Nope, but he lives in a kingdom nearby," Finn sat on the rails of the balcony with one leg balanced on the floor, careful not to teeter off the edge.

Yeah she does.

Bubblegum frowned and walked towards the rails, frowning at the trivia but also at Finn's lack of safety concern. "I give up, just tell me."

He smiled slyly and waved the paper again, "Alright, but let me read it first. I think you'll figure out who it is from the context."

And if somebody loved me like she'd do me,

She smiled and leaned on the rail, eyes directed at the boy. "Alright, read it to me, then."

Finn playfully stirred up a succession of coughs as he cracked the paper in the air, stimulating a short giggle from the princess as Finn feigned professional narrating.

Ooh she'd do me,

"Dear Finn," he read, "Where should I begin? Well, things have been different in the last week since we've last seen each other. I can certainly say things became different when I lost my powers to you in battle."

Bubblegum hummed in response to the line Finn read. She was reminded of a certain person she had not heard of in quite a while.

Yeah she does.

"On one hand, I am enraged for the permanent damages you have inflicted against me, as I've figured out how hard it is to repair a magic crown, not that I have succeeded, of course. But on the other hand, the handicap of my magical abilities showed me how different my life is without them. I can no longer harm or threaten people like I used to, so I had no choice but to retire princessnapping."

Don't let me down,

Bubblegum chuckled. She knew exactly who it was.

"A few days ago, I was sitting by my lonesome in the park, thinking about what I was to do in life after you left me a powerless husk. And then, unexpectedly, a princess, Engagement Ring Princess to be exact, came up to me and asked me what I was doing all by myself without my crown. I told her most of what happened between you and me, and all of a sudden, she didn't look afraid of me. I was powerless sure, without most of my ice magic I couldn't try to kidnap her, even if I wanted to, but something gave her the incentive that I was helpless and lonely, and she wasn't afraid to be near me. It was a different change of pace, things were…"

Don't let me down.

Bubblegum was rather surprised to hear this. She knew Engagement Ring Princess well, and she also knew how lonely and desperate for love the ring princess was, but she didn't think she'd ever consider the Ice King the least bit attractive.

Then again, maybe she was looking past his evil demeanor and liked the Ice King for his heart rather than his person.

Don't let me down,

Finn continued, "We talked for a while. It was a nice talk. Different from when princesses whom I've kept captive are forced to talk to me. She was relaxed, more like herself, and she seemed happy the longer we talked. I found out that she was a bit of a loner, like I was, and that her only friends were Bubblegum and Emerald Princess. Other princesses were usually out of contact or didn't like her that much, which was disheartening to hear. She also told me that she didn't talk to other people so much because no one listened to or acknowledged her. I was the first person to ever have a lengthy conversation with her. It made me feel special, for the first time in my life. I mattered to someone, I suddenly became a character in their life…"

Don't let me down.

Bubblegum thought to back a memory of her time with the ring princess and noticed how little she spoke. She was always by her lonesome, she never spoke to anyone other than when she was addressed to, she was always so shy of other people, generally, she was rather sad most of the time. But she had no idea the ring princess was so lovesick, sick enough to approach the Ice King in his weakest moment.

I'm in love for the first time.

"After some time, I lost track of how long we were talking, she had to return home before her parents returned, and that made me feel sad. I beckoned her to stay a little longer, but then she offered me her phone number. I was a little nervous about it, since I remembered how I forced my phone number to her when I first kidnapped her, but she told me she got over it. But still, thinking about it now is still unbelievable. A princess giving me her phone number? I just felt so bubbly and giddy. And if you're wondering or just skeptical of me, no, I didn't use a hypnotizing ring on her to do it. She's immune to ring magic. …don't ask how I figured it out."

Don't you know it's gonna last.

Bubblegum laughed. She remembered the adventure Finn told her about when the Ice King was getting married to a princess he hypnotized with the same spell he mentioned in the letter. Her favorite part was the 'man'lorette party the two went through the trouble of throwing for the king. Things didn't end well, to say the least.

It's a love that lasts forever,

"So, as time went on, Engagement Ring Princess and I spent much of our time just talking on the phone. It was a different experience overall because, for the first time in my life, I was happy about talking to the princess even though she wasn't there. We talked about all sorts of funny things, personal things, things that we hated, and things that we liked. I thought it was pointless to speak of such things, especially since some of the things we talked about were different in opinion, but all I cared about was talking to her and it made me feel happy knowing she had me to talk to. My nights alone were no longer filled with sadness, but a bright cheery attitude thanks to her. And all throughout my time with her, I thought about what you said to me, Finn."

It's a love that has no past.

Bubblegum raised a brow at this. It was pretty difficult to forget what happened a week ago, but it's not like Finn said anything noteworthy to the Ice King, did he?

"You spoke about the extent of love and what limits can't hold a person down. When it occurred to me that maybe I was falling for the princess in a natural way and not just an evil kidnapper, I realized how much commitment one must have to a relationship if they're serious about it. You were clearly committed to Bubblegum and did things I'd have never done. If I was to do the same for any other person I loved, I'd have to keep your advice in mind whenever the situation called for it. You helped me see things that were different in perspective to the way I saw them, and I must thank you for that."

Don't let me down,

The princess sighed happily hearing this. At least the Ice King was recovering from the battle that week ago.

"Yesterday, me and Engagement Ring Princess went on a date, and let me tell you, it was wonderful. I was almost certain I was going to screw up somewhere and she'd hate me forever about it. I was really nervous. But I simply acted like I normally did, minus the magical powers, and we had a lovely time together. We didn't do anything major, we just went to places that I liked or she liked. The opera was a little hard to endure, but seeing her smile like that made it worth the bleeding ears. She didn't complain much either when we sat in the snow and watched two polar bears fight. She only complained about the cold, and I loaned her my coat for a while. Overall, we enjoyed our time together, even though I only wished we talked a little more, like we used to. But I liked it, and I felt super happy for the first time in forever. I think I'm gonna ask her to marry me. I giggle just thinking about it."

Don't let me down.

Bubblegum laughed at this line. She thought it was a bit creepy that the Ice King was going to get married again, and for real this time, but as long as he and all parties involved were ok with it, no harm was being done.

"I'll ask her next time we talk. Wish me luck, okay Finn? From, the Ice King."

Finn elevated the paper in his hands to read one last line.

"P.S. Tell Bubblegum that I'm sorry for what a jerk I was. That goes to all the other princesses I've kidnapped in the past."

Don't let me down,

Finn folded the letter and slid it back into the envelope. He sighed with a smile on his face as he looked to the princess, expecting a response to the last line of the letter. The princess simply sighed.

"That Ice King…" she said, "…he's not such a bad guy after all."

Finn folded the envelope and stuffed it in his pocket, "I gotta say, I didn't expect anyone to become attracted to him, even without his magical crown."

Bubblegum lifted herself from leaning on the rails and turned her body around to resume staring at the sunset, "Power can change people, just as much as time can."

Don't let me down.

Finn turned his body around on the rails, facing the sunset and his legs swinging freely in the air. "Yeah…I guess…that's one of the advantages of being human."

The princess looked to Finn, "How do you mean?"

Finn looked down in thought, "Well, in all of my life, I've seen many strange creatures. Some of them are super strong while others can use magic. Some even have special abilities that only they can use. But me?"

Finn held out his right hand and stared at his palm. Bubblegum looked at it as well, subconsciously holding out her right hand as well and opened it. She looked at the it, then compared it to Finn's human hand. Certainly, they were similar, aside from the color.

"…I've yet to discover any sort of power I have as a human, if we have any," Finn said, "My sense of smell is nothing compared to Jake's. Some people out there have more strength than me. And some animals can even use magic. What do I, as a human, have over anyone else in the world?"

Bubblegum looked to Finn, then back to her hand. She walked over to Finn and took the hand he was holding out into both her hands. She placed her hand palm down over his and gently caressed it.

"You have a heart, Finn," Bubblegum said, looking up at Finn, "The biggest heart in all of Ooo."

Finn looked up into Bubblegum's face, seeing her warm smile glowing in the light of the sunset. Finn smiled in return, feeling better about himself from her words. He stared into Bubblegum's face, illuminated by the glow of sunlight, and felt his heart warm up folds over from normal. Of all the smiles he'd seen of the princess, this one suddenly became his favorite.

He leaned in towards the princess in a beckoning manner. Bubblegum felt the boy's movement and leaned forward as well, moving one hand away from Finn's and holding his face with it. Finn's other hand found its way to the back of her head and soon the space between their lips disappeared. The two of them pulled each other's heads closer, tightening the kiss as they savored each other's taste. Bubblegum's sweet candy lips against Finn's human mouth. An amalgamation of saliva the two fed on every time they locked lips, and they would do this several times a day, consecutive, even. But time had no effect on them. Time moved on without them as their hearts flamed from each other's burning passion, the love they felt burned hotter than any summer sun. Time continued to push the sun further under the horizon as the clock counted down the seconds.

The power of time is an incredible force.

The only force strong enough to defy it was love.

The two parted from the kiss after what seemed like minutes, a trail of saliva forming a waning bridge between their lips. They opened their eyes and stared into each other, the light of the sunset casted a sparkle in their eyes. Lost in the eyes of their souls, they sat there, adoring the person they loved them for. Their arms lost the support of strength and their hands slid down each other's arms. Eventually, their palms met the bare skin of their arms, stimulating a spark of sensuality in the other. The desire to embrace their lover was acted upon by their hearts and not by conscious, it was not a command brought on by their minds but by feeling, the feeling to forever feel each other, the feeling of love. The princess moved her right arm to the boy's back as Finn did the same, wrapping his left arm around her waist and pulling her into a hug tightly. The two turned their heads away from each other's and towards the glow of the sunset, arms hung on their backs and bodies resting against each other.

The sun was halfway under the border of the horizon, distant mountains drawing a zigzag line on the sun's face. The wave of the sun's heat was receding and cool night air chased it away. The shade of night crept in the sky opposite of the solar sphere, the moon rising earlier than anticipated on the other side of the sky. Stars began to dot what little night there was, twinkling modestly as the veil of sunlight fell slowly under the landscape. The couple sighed contently as the sun stalled its leaving, the shadows of the world before it growing with each passing second. Bubblegum had seen this happen before several times for the past seven days, starting from the first night after Finn confessed his love for her. He had agreed to be there with her every sunset for every day of his life. It was a promise he made, out of his declaration of love, and he's held it up loyally for the past week. It was always such a fun time for them as Finn sacrificed a bit of his schedule just for her.

But then…Bubblegum was beginning to feel bored of it.

She didn't want to be misinterpreted. She loved Finn, yes, but ever since she accepted the position of his girlfriend, things haven't changed much since then. They still spoke as often as they did, they still talked the same way they did, the only difference in their days were watching the sunsets together and the liberty of engaging in kisses. Only, these things seemed to have been happening at a quicker pace than normal. She didn't know what to make of this anomaly, but she was scared to find out.

She frowned at these looming thoughts. She was afraid to confront Finn with these questions in fear that there may be some traumatic recoil as a result. She was afraid of the possibility that their relationship would end at realization of the hidden truth, or that the illusion of romance was deceiving them again. She realized these questions the previous day, when she noticed how the two had been repeating the same sunset over and over again. The only thing keeping her from assurance was that the sunset was beautiful every time they watched it, like the way a flame burns but never in the same pattern of flares. Was it because they loved watching it, or because she was watching it with Finn, or was that the feeling influenced from the boy's heartwarming presence? She wasn't sure, but she wanted to ask. She wasn't afraid of the answer to her question. She was afraid of what would happen after the questions were answered.

Finn was right there. Now's her chance to speak.

And from the first time that she really done me,

"…Finn?" she spoke up.

Finn hummed a little in response, turning his head to her.

"…I'm…kind of worried…"

Finn's relaxed body riled up with strength in response, lifting himself upwards to shift his position.

Ooh she done me,

"What do you mean?" he asked.

Bubblegum looked downward, biting her lip, "…we've been doing this for the past few days…"

Finn glanced at the sunset, then back to Bubblegum. "Well, I did say I'd be here every sundown with you, right?"

She done me good.

Finn leaned his body forward, weighting himself backwards to counteract his balance on the rails, so that he could have a better look at Bubblegum's face.

"…if you're bored, then maybe you want to do something different?"

The princess gently shook her head, "That's not what I meant…"

Finn was now curious as to what was ailing the princess's subconscious, shifting his body to sit on the rails horizontally, to better focus his attention on an impending conversation.

"So, what's wrong then?" he asked.

I guess nobody ever really done me,

She thought a little before softly sighing, "Finn…is this what it's come to?"

Finn tilted his head, "Huh?"

"I mean…this, right now…us being together…" she lifted her head up and looked out into the sunset, now half swallowed by the earth, "…is this really what our days will be like? Just staring out into the sunset, hugging, and kissing?"

Ooh she done me,

Finn wasn't sure what the problem was. It didn't really seem like a complaint to him.

"I guess…what I'm trying to say is…things aren't that different from before. I'm starting to think we were a little hasty with our decision…to become a couple."

She done me good.

Bubblegum turned her head to face Finn, expecting to see a worried or panicked expression. To her surprise, Finn's face was neutral, calm, but somehow thoughtful in the aspect that he had something to say. He stared at her, trying to find the correct words in his head to sort out Bubblegum's conundrum. He shifted his body and directed his legs away from the open space beyond the balcony, landing on the floor with a grunt.

"Bubblegum," he said, looking into her eyes, "I think you're thinking too much. Love isn't something you think about. It's something you feel."

Bubblegum turned her head away and back towards the sunset, "I know, you told me that. But…I'm still not sure about it."

Don't let me down,

Finn placed a hand on her shoulder, "Listen, who makes you laugh like no other?"

Bubblegum turned slightly to the boy, "…you do."

Finn nodded, "Who makes you feel better when you're down?"

Bubblegum cracked a small smile, "You do."

"And who'd beat up a Mushroom Goblin 'cause he didn't say excuse me when he walked out of that convenience store, just for you?"

Bubblegum couldn't help but utter a laugh when he said this. He was referring to a certain afternoon a few days ago when the two were walking around at a swap meet. The princess was being a bit spacey that she didn't see the goblin walk close by. It was mostly her fault that she didn't move out of the goblin's way, but the guy actually was a jerk and Finn was swift in dealing a beating to injustice.

Don't let me down.

"Oh Finn, you didn't have to do that for me," she said, placing a hand over her heart, "but yes, only you would've done that, perhaps because you already did."

Finn smiled, "Who's to say I wouldn't do worse?"

They laughed together, laughed like they usually did, laughed like they always would. It was a heart swelling laughter, the kind you'd smile at just by hearing it. One can hear their hearts laughing along with their lungs, a sign that they enjoyed each other's presence.

Once the princess grew tired of laughing, she took the opportunity and calmed down enough to talk, "You're right. I guess love isn't something you think about."

Finn's laughter withered away as Bubblegum spoke, allowing himself enough air in the last breath to talk, "What'd I tell ya? Love is a natural emotion, it's a part of being human."

"Yes…it can be a strength…and a weakness…" she said as she stared back at the sunset, "It makes some people stronger and rise up, or make them weaker and fall down."

Don't let me down,

Finn leaned on the rails, his elbows supporting him, "If this feeling is exclusive to the human heart…" he said, staring at the sunset, "…and if there is no end to the power of love, then I'm glad to be a human."

Bubblegum sighed contently, "Love…can do anything…"

Her stare descended downward and her thoughts turned back to her previous confusion, about her concerns of time and lack of development in their relationship.

"I guess…maybe love affected my perception of time," she said, "I mean, I felt as if we were doing things too fast, and we were moving so slowly in our relationship. I was so worried we were doing things wrong, when, in the end, I was just losing track of time."

"Time…" Finn uttered, "Time is a funny thing, it is."

Bubblegum nodded, "Time is a concept I doubt I'll be able to fully grasp."

Don't let me down.

Finn turned his head to her, "Really? You're just going to drop the book when you've only read the first page?"

Bubblegum laughed, "I understand it linearly, Finn," she said in her defense, "It's just that…humankind has tried to understand all of the things that don't make sense in the world. Since the beginning of time, time itself was something they never understood. What sort of knowledge can I learn that humanity was never able to achieve about time?"

Finn smiled and scoffed, "Well, maybe humans looked at time all wrong. They probably looked at it left and right, up and down, in and out, when they really should've looked at it from the front."

Bubblegum placed a hand on her chin at Finn's words. She never thought about it, looking at time from a different perspective. The more she thought about it, the more excited she got, like discovering a hidden window in the house you were born in.

"…perspective…" she muttered, "Maybe you're right, Finn. One needs a sense of perception to fully understand anything of this world."

Finn moved his arm and placed a hand over hers, "See? No reason to give up. Always keep looking, to know what is unknown, like the Bubblegum I know."

Bubblegum smiled warmly at the boy, the last beams of sunlight, escaping from the valleys of the mountains at the edge of the world, illuminating her pink face. Somehow, the boy always knew how to make her feel better, even when she was feeling fine. Whether he'd offer a favor or when she was feeling depressed, Finn, like the sun, warmed her spirit and lit the world around her just by being there. Like the sun, he was the light to her, and she needed him to keep her days bright and cheerful. Whenever he'd be away, the world would seem dimly lit and cold, like the night wrought by the moon. But she was never sad when he wasn't there. She knew, as time allowed it, that he'd return soon, to shine on her world and warm the corners of her heart.

Finn smiled and drew closer to the princess, moving another arm to her spare shoulder. Bubblegum knew what he wanted again, and agreed to the gesture, moving one hand to his other shoulder while keeping her own shoulder gently covered under his hand. Their lips met once again as the last beam of sunlight hid under the mountains, sheltering the solar specter for the night. The red glow of the sun's aura painted the canvas of the sky above the mountains, the last light shining from the sun before it would completely disappear and leave the open sky to the freedom of the moon.

To the boy hero, Bubblegum was much like the sun, except she was more like a bright light that happened to hold some warmth. He always looked for her light while she would prefer to wait for his. Bubblegum was the light he needed to go on through the day. Like a lost hiker in a cave or an adventurer in a dungeon, she was the light he'd always look for when he needed a way out. She was his drive, the urge to live because of her. Other people casted a similar light, but none shone brighter than Bubblegum, and none were as warm, either. That warming smile, the sound of her laughter, the light of her heart. Whenever Finn was on an adventure, his will to live and to survive drew energy from his burning desire to see all of this again, and it has yet to fail him. No matter how bad things became or how dangerous things grew to be, her light was his beacon and he would always make it through. Her light, as time had permitted, grew brighter the longer they were together, and she'd always shine on, just for him.

Through the virtue of time, their hearts grew strong together. Through the will of time, their hearts tied together to create an unbreakable bond.

'The power of time…' they thought, '…is an incredible force.'

End of The Power of Time

Song used – Don't Let Me Down – by The Beatles

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