I should be working on my Transformers fics, but this popped into my head and I need to get it out before I can do anything else. Bowser/Peach.

You and Me

Princess Peach, beloved princess of the Mushroom Kingdom slept peacefully in her bed, her blond hair strewn across her pillow, blankets lying neatly across her bosom, and the window left open to let the cool air waft into her room. One would think after so many previous experiences she would learn to keep her windows closed, her doors locked, and a guard stationed at every entrance, but that was not her style. Not that it mattered one way or the other if she was well guarded; the princess knew he would come for her no matter what protection she was offered, she preferred as few people as possible be harmed for her sake.

The night was quiet, and she dreamed of the beach, warm sun, blue skies and calm seas. A part of her mind made a mental note to go to the beach one of these days; she hadn't seen the ocean in so long, not of her own choice anyway. As she dreamed, Peach had no idea it was all about to end, though she wouldn't be surprised when it did.

She remained asleep while she was being picked up, but her dream of a beach had a small earthquake as she was being carried, making her open her eyes. She blinked sleepily a few times, wondering where her blankets had disappeared to before she realized she was not in her bed at all, but in the arms of Bowser. The great Koopa had not noticed the princess was awake yet as he snuck quietly down the halls of her castle.

Funny, Bowser wasn't usually this subtle. Usually he busted down doors in the middle of a court meeting, breathing fire and throwing bombombs, letting his Goombas and the Koopa Troop cause panic and disorder while he snatched the Princess in the chaos. Or when he didn't make a grand entrance he made a grand exit, making sure everyone knew the princess was his before he even left the castle grounds. What was so special now that he stopped at every corner and glanced carefully around to make sure no guards were coming before he continued slowly on?

Well, Peach knew one thing that was special about now, but it couldn't possibly be the reason he was being so careful not to get caught. If it was past midnight, it was her birthday. Could the King of the Koopas think that a quiet kidnapping constituted as a birthday present? The thought almost made her giggle before she remembered she really was being kidnapped. The strangeness of her abduction had postponed her cry for help, and she took a breath ready to scream at the top of her lungs, maybe scaring Bowser enough to drop her and allow her to try to run, she might just make it this time since she was in her night gown and barefoot instead of a big frilly dress and high heels.

But another thought stopped her from screaming. What if Bowser didn't know it was her birthday, and she went along with the kidnapping until they reached his castle? Then she could drop the bombomb on him. What fun that would be! So Peach stayed quiet, and since she was still tired, closed her eyes and rolled in Bowser's arms, snuggling into his hard chest to go back to sleep. Bowser suddenly stopped and held her closer, almost protectively, Peach assumed from the way he sniffed the air that he must have smelled a guard close by and so clutched his prize tighter so he wouldn't lose her. Soon enough he started walking again, a little faster this time, the rhythmic sway of his steps lulled the princess in his arms to sleep, and she dreamed again, this time of a snowy mountain peak and snowboarding. A part of her mind made a mental note to go to the snowboarding one of these days; she hadn't seen the mountains in so long, not of her own choice anyway…

Princess Peach awoke again much later, in Bowser's castle. She'd awoken here many times before and the sight of it no longer frightened her. Bowser didn't care; he never kidnapped her because he wanted to scare her. Peach rubbed her eyes and stretched casually, odd how she was so comfortable here nowadays, Bowser kidnapped her so often this castle was almost like a second home. This was the first time, however, that she was brought here in her nightwear.

Suddenly embarrassed, Peach searched around to see if anyone peeking in on her. The room was empty. In earlier kidnapping the King of Koopas used to keep her in the dungeon, but since then her accommodations improved and kept improving until at last she had her own guest room. Draped over a chair in the corner was a dress. It had a beautiful dark magenta base, with paler pink frills and a rose colored over jacket, the waist of the dress was made up of spiked belts and came with a bright ruby necklace and black leather gloves. Peach picked it up; from the folds fell a small note, written in Bower's handwriting (she had noticed his penmanship had vastly improved since the first scribbled messages as well). The note, red, with a little drawing of Bowser's head in the corner read: Happy Birthday Beautiful!

Oh poo, there went her plans; she should have screamed.

She sighed, and glanced around once more for peepers before she grabbed the dress and quickly changed out of her night gown into it. Peach understood that by putting the dress on she was accepting it as a present and thus giving Bowser reason to start flirting with her again, but she was not going to walk around his castle in her nightwear.

The dress slipped over her small frame nicely, but was just a little tight in the shoulders. Peach turned and looked in the mirror, she frowned slightly, the dress wasn't her usual style, but she had to admit it had a certain charm. She ran her fingers through her hair as Bowser seemed to have forgotten that she needed a hair brush, the princess needed to remind him again. Another thing that made the kidnappings more comfortable was Bowser's willingness to provide her with these little things; at least she wasn't in a dungeon. Peach turned away from the mirror and headed toward the door, satisfied with her appearance as best as she could get.

Outside her room, a Goomba was sleeping at his post. Peach didn't want to wake him, but the sound of her high heels on the stone floor startled him into waking. "Hmm? Wha! Queen Peach!" The Goomba jumped up and spread his wings, revealing himself to be a Paragoomba. "King Bowser is awaiting you!...Nice dress by the way." he added shyly toward at the end.

Peach was about to thank him for the compliment, but his first comment rang in her ears, "I'm not your queen." She said simply, trying to be sweet.

The Paragoomba seemed confused, "But..." He flew to her face, "You married King Bowser! That means you're queen now!"

Peach had to admit she was quite flattered by how the little creature's eyes lit when it called her his queen, but she had to break the news to him. "I am not your queen, the marriage was a sham." She told him as gently as she could. Did Bowser really still think that hock-pock wedding legally made them husband and wife? She had to suppress rolling her eyes.

The Paragoomba couldn't seem to understand, "But the King is always rescuing you from those plumbers!"

He'srescuingmefromthoseplumbers?Peach almost laughed, WhatelseisBowsertellinghissubjects?

But she didn't want to crush the poor Paragoomba's world, he looked at her so adoringly, like he truly believed she was his queen and loved her for it. She gave him a small smile "It's complicated." She told him and patted his head. His wings fluttered with delight. She cleared her throat politely before changing the subject. "So...You said Bowser is awaiting me...? Where?"

The Paragoomba looked behind him and started to fly down the hall, just as Peach took her first step to follow him he suddenly turned around and flew in the opposite direction "This way!" He said with a flustered blush.

Peach, while no longer confined to the dungeons of Bowser's castle, still did not fully know her way around, and was grateful for the guide. The little Paragoomba was fast, and stopped every once and a while to rest while she caught up with him. Peach was about to ask how much further when she heard the first not too distant bark of one of Bowser's children, which was followed by another, until several seconds could not go by without a snap or snit from one of them until finally a much louder agitated roar silenced all of them. There was a door up ahead from behind which the roaring had lowered to the occasional loud growl.

Peach waited for her guide to continue, but it seemed this was as far as he dared go. Peach kissed the top of his head and thanked him for guiding her. The Paragoomba blushed and did a sort of mid air dance before fluttering away. Alone now, with only a door between Peach and Bowser, the Princess ran her fingers through her hair once more to be sure it looked presentable before she took hold of the door handle, and with a little effort due to its size, pulled it open.

Beyond was a scene that would have made her double over laughing if she weren't so surprised to see it.

The room appeared to be a kitchen, and was splattered with cake batter. The Koopalings were covered with it too. Bowser was holding on to Junior by one arm while attempting to wipe batter off his youngest son's face with a napkin. Junior didn't look happy about it, and three of the other kids had already had their faces wiped while the rest pushed and shoved trying to get to the back of the line to avoid getting their faces cleaned by their father, who occasionally growled at them to quit their squirming.

None took note of her presence until Junior's face was clean and Bowser pushed him gently away and reached for the next kid. Junior defiantly wiped batter from his hands onto his face, and just happened to glance up at the door and see the Princess standing there, trying to contain the laugh that was valiantly trying to fight its way out of her mouth.

"Mama Peach!" He cried excitedly and bound over as if wanting a hug, but stopped before he reached her and put his batter covered arms behind his back with an innocent smile. "We made a cake!" he piped.

"They made a mess." Bowser corrected. His lips were curved into a toothy smile and the child he had in one claw whined about getting their face wiped. "Hold still Lemmy, it'll be over before you know it!" He growled.

Lemmy only rolled his eyes and gave Peach a pleading look begging for help, the princess shook her head with an apologetic smile. She was thankful Bowser was using a napkin to clean them off, once he would have had the kids licked clean, either by him or each other. Was she teaching him manners, or was she teaching him manners? Peach giggled quietly, maybe one day Mario just wouldn't need to rescue her.

"You tried to make a cake?" She asked leaning down to Junior's face, "What for?"

"We did make the white cake!" Junior bragged, "But the chocolate one exploded on us!"

Peach raised an eyebrow to Bowser, who finished with Lemmy and shrugged, equally as confused about how a chocolate cake exploded as she was, before grabbing the next kid, Iggy, if she recalled correctly, for the wipe down.

With no answer she turned to Junior again, "So what's the occasion?" She repeated.

"Your birthday, of course!" The youngest child piped eagerly, "We wanted to make it specially ourselves."

The oldest Koopaling wiped his own face while his father was busy with his brother, "Junior wanted to, the rest of us wanted to buy one." He told her.

Wendy O. Koopa spoke up, "Uh-uh!" She protested to her older brother's claim, "We took a vote! The majority favored baking one!"

"Only 'cause you changed your vote at the last second!" Ludwig snapped.

"Did not! I always wanted to bake!"

"Liar! You said you didn't want to mess up your claws because you just got them done!"

"Like, twodaysago, so they're fine for baking cakes!"

"Liar! Liar! Liar! Liar!"

Bowser turned on both of them snarling, "That's enough out of both of you or none of you get to have cake with Mama Peach!" He warned.

"Hey!" Iggy whined as he struggled out of his father's grip, the last of the batter on his face cleaned off, "We didn't do anything!"

"Yeah!" The rest of the kids chimed, "We didn't do anything!"

Smoke started to billow out of Bowser's mouth, "If one of you doesn't get cake, then none of you get cake. That's a new family rule, got that? Now, all of you go wash up, get the rest of that batter off your shells or we'll bake you too."

The kid's eyes all widened in horror, more likely at the new family rule than the threat of being baked alive, and rushed off to get cleaned leaving Bowser and Peach in the kitchen alone as her turned the napkin on himself, trying to get batter out of his eyes. "They been like that all morn'n." He explained. "Something goes wrong and they start arguing, first it's because Roy can't find the butter, next because Junior has too many eggs, then Wendy has batter under her nails… I tell you, you've never had a headache until you're a parent!'

Peach giggled as she approached him, and took the napkin out of his claws, "Sorry, you're missing a big spot." She wiped the napkin over his face; obviously he hadn't been hit too badly with it, probably turned away when the explosion happened. Most of it was on his side and back, what was on his face was probably the result of squirming kids trying not to get wiped down. Bowser closed his eyes so she wouldn't poke him in the eye accidentally; meanwhile his throat rumbled a soft growl that could almost have been called a purr if it weren't Bowser making the noise. "There! You're done, and don't even need to go wash!" Peach tossed the soiled napkin away "Now let's see about baking that chocolate cake!"

"You don't have too." Bowser told her, "It's your birthday. We can handle it."

"Oh, rubbish I love baking!" She said looking around the kitchen for supplies, "Besides if we're ever going to figure out how you managed to blow up a cake, I need to know exactly what you did to it!" She laughed.

Bowser growled in irritation but made no comment as he got a fresh mixing bowl and pan. Peach started measuring the amount of ingredients needed, one at a time the Koopalings started to return to hand her the ingredients as she called for them and take turns mixing the bowl. Regardless, soon enough Peach had a pretty good understanding of what Bowser meant about those headaches…

A while later the family and Peach sat at the table eating breakfast while the chocolate cake baked slowly in the kitchen, teasing them with its sweet aroma. It hadn't occurred to Peach yet, but if she were at home there would be an enormous feast with guests ranging from her closest friends, to neighboring politicians, to people she would be introduced to for the first time during that feast, sometimes it was easy to forget they were celebrating her birthday. In comparison, here it was just Bowser, his kids, and herself at this table. The children all wished her a happy birthday and kept passing her food which the proudly proclaimed they made themselves (though they admitted the cooks had helped a lot). This was surprisingly nicer and, despite the occasional fighting between the kids, a lot less chaotic than her usually birthday.

"Mama Peach!" Junior chirped, "Look what I can do!" He took a deep breath and blew smoke out his nostrils before opening his mouth and small licks of flame flashed between his little teeth.

Peach applauded politely, though she didn't see what was so special about breathing smoke out of the nose, the other kids were ecstatic and asked him to do it again. "I don't know how you do it!" Lemmy said, "Every time I try I end up sneezing!"

Maybe that was it.

"Everyone's got their talents." Bowser told them looking at his youngest with pride. "You know, one of your old uncles used to be able to do that."

"Which one?" Peach asked, unable to not be curious about it.

Bowser rolled his eyes in her direction, "Don't you think if I could remember which uncle it was I'd call him by name?" He asked, "The old rat died when I was Junior's age, so did his two brothers, triplets you know, never could tell 'em apart." He said this casually, but his eyes dimmed almost sadly at the mention.

Peach scooped up a spoonful of Jell-O, "I'm sorry." She said before finishing her meal.

"Don't be." Bowser told her with a tough growl as he too put the last bite in his mouth. "I barely knew 'em." He meant to sound strong and without regret, but again his eyes showed how painful it was for him to be reminded of his lost brothers.

Peach wanted to apologize again, but kept her mouth shut and an awkward silence filled the dinning room, before the Koopalings started to excuse themselves so they could get ready to go.

"Go where? Peach asked when the last child had left the table.

Bowser looked at her, "Around the kingdom, wherever you want." He answered as he stood, "There's a concert we're taking you to after noon, but the rest of the day is your choice."

Peach was surprised, but gave a sly grin, "Wherever I want, hmm? But I supposed home is out of the question, right?"

The King of Koopas made a face, "After the concert maybe, but until then no." He replied.

Peach rose from her seat as well, "And I suppose calling home to let them know where I am and that I'm alright is a no too, right?"

"Absolutely." Bowser agreed, "No going home, no calling home. Not before the concert. I'm going to wash up a little, if you try to make a break for it, birthday no not, the troop's been ordered to haul your scrawny butt to the dungeons until I come pick you up."

He said that last part in such a way Peach didn't know if he was joking or not. In the kitchen the oven dinged, and she went to take the cake out. She guessed staying with the Koopas until the concert after noon wouldn't be too bad, and she'd hate to have these cakes go to waste. She'd stay for the concert and cakes, but after that she'd go home Peach decided. In the meantime, the first thing she wanted to do was get these cakes decorated. Bowser and his kids would be back soon and want to help, so she'd just get all the materials out. Peach went to work, and was just thinking maybe she should start making the frosting when the ruckus of approaching Koopalings reached her ears.

Soon enough the kitchen was bustling with the family attempting to put together a decent cake. With Peach's guidance they managed to paint the white cake with chocolate frosting decorated with strawberries and a very messy "Happy Birthday Mama!" written in pink letters, and the chocolate cake coated with white frosting and raspberries with the same message (though with nicer writing this time around) in purple letters because the pink was out.

Just as Peach turned to Bowser to ask what sort of activities there were to do around his kingdom, a loud heavy metal song sounded, and Bowser raised a claw to silence her as he picked up his phone. Peach turned her questions to the Koopalings.

"Bowser's Bakery and Nuthouse; take a number and get committed." The Koopalings burst into giggles at their father's answer to the phone leaving Peach without an answer, though she didn't mind, she was giggling too. Bowser winked at her, but the person on the other side of the phone spoke, loud and feminine, and though Peach couldn't understand her, she sounded angry.

Bowser winced and held the phone away from his face until the shouting ended before he answered again, "How did you get this number?" he asked turning away. Peach could still hear the garble of the girl's voice, but could only make out Bowser's side of the conversation. "Well I'm flattered you think it was me, but do you have any proof?...Please that's so not my style, I make scene out of everything I do…Yeah and how could I possibly have known that?...Does that sound like me either?... Fine…Fine! Stop screaming at me, I admit it! Here she is!

He turned around and handed the phone to Peach, "Ask her how she got my number." The Koopa King said simply before signaling for his children to leave the room so Mama Peach could use the phone. Peach stared after them for a moment before hesitantly putting the phone to her ear. "Hello?"

"Peach? Peach! Oh thank the Stars you're alright, everyone is worried about you!" The voice belonged to none other than Peach's best friend Daisy.

Peach's eyes furrowed, "How did you get Bowser's number?" She asked, not for Browser, but because she was honesty just as confused and curious.

"What does it matter? You're alright! I'll call Luigi and Mario to tell the Bowser does have you!"

"Whoa, whoa, Daisy what do you mean? They aren't already on their way?" Peach asked.

"Oh right." Daisy explained, "You see, since Bowser didn't come barging in broad daylight like he usually does nobody thinks he kidnapped you, everyone's been saying you probably just went for a morning walk and haven't come back yet. But I knew it! I knew Bowser wouldn't care if it was your birthday! I tell you that lizard's got a lot of nerve!"

Daisy was starting to get loud again, making Peach pull the phone away from her face like Bowser had. Daisy went quite again and Peach had to catch her attention again to be sure she didn't hang up and call the Mario Brothers. "Daisy, listen to me, don't tell anyone where I am. Just tell them I called you to tell you I am out for a walk and I'm not coming back for a while" She said. At her friend's again loud protest, Peach could only muster a half smile, "Yes I know you're worried about Bowser, but he's really not as bad as everyone thinks. I'm actually having a nice birthday over here…You heard me. He gave me a, well; I guess it's nice to his standards, dress. The Koopalings tried to make me cakes by themselves, but I ended up helping because the chocolate one exploded…Yes, exploded! You wouldn't believe the mess it made!.. What? No, no we never figured out what made it explode. After that we had breakfast, and it wasn't on of those huge feasts we usually have for my birthday, just him, the kids, and me. Did you know Bowser had three older brothers? Triplets, they died when he was little."

"What happened did his parents eat them?" Daisy asked.

Peach frowned, "That's a bit of a rude assumption don't you think?" Peach was a bit disappointed in her friend's attempt at a joke. "He didn't say, though...He seemed a bit sad when he mentioned it, he can't even remember their names..." Peach suddenly regretted bringing it up.

"Peach? Peach?" Daisy said.

"Hmm? Oh! Sorry. Listen Daisy, I'll call again later, Bowser and his kids have a bit of a day planned for me, and he said he'll let me go home sometime after lunch, I'll see you later, okay?"

"Okay. Bye Peach, don't let Bowser change his mind about letting you go. Love you!"

"Daisy wait!"

"What?"

"How did you get Bowser's number?"

The first stop after unsuccessfully trying to find out what Daisy had done to get hold of Bowser, had been the warp pipes. Peach knew one of them led back to the Mushroom Kingdom, she'd been brought back and forth from it many times over the years, and she looked longingly at it, but forced her eyes away, toward the other pipes. "Where do these lead?" She asked.

Larry ran toward a blue pipe, "This leads to the game park!" He swung an imaginary bat.

"Mama isn't going to wanna play dumb sports!" Wendy stuck her tongue out at her brother and took Peach's hand dragging her toward a red pipe, "This leads to the spa at the beach!" She beamed.

The boys whined and made faces. Junior joined Peach and Wendy at the red pipe. "The spa is stupid, but the arcade is really awesome!" He reminded his brothers. That didn't immediately change everyone's mind about the beach. Iggy wanted to take the yellow pipe to the library, Lemmy the green one to the circus, Morton and Roy teamed up trying to convince Peach to choose the amusement park, Ludwig stayed neutral at his father's side, trying to look superior to his squabbling siblings, while Junior and Wendy looked pleadingly at Peach for the beach/spa/arcade.

Bowser gave a short snarl to silence his children and reminded him that it was her birthday so she got to choose where they went. Peach remembered what she had been dreaming about when she woke up the first time, when she realized she was being kidnapped. "The beach..." She breathed

She hadn't been there of her own will in a while, now was a perfect opportunity.

The decision made, the Koopalings either jumped for joy or looked at the ground in disappoint, but none dared complain. Wendy and Junior raced to the pipe and dived in, the others followed with varying degrees of enthusiasm ranging from bored, uninterested to deciding that the beach wasn't a bad choice. Peach stood before the pipe hesitantly, Bowser nudged her forward gently with his snout. "After you." He growled. Peach was sure he was just trying to make sure she didn't make a break for the pipe to the Mushroom Kingdom, but as he nudged her a second time, he touched her and stayed in contact a moment longer than he should have if that was truly all.

Peach stepped away from him, to the warp pipe. Inside she felt a sudden rush, then a feeling like falling, floating, and flying rolled into one strange sensation. The feeling had made her sick to her stomach when she was a child, but in the years since she had gotten used to it. She flew out of the other end of the pipe, landing gently on her feet. Her stomach felt strange for a moment, Peach hesitated a second, Bowser landed heavily beside her forcing a step forward.

Bowser's kids gathered around them noisily saying where they wanted to go. Bowser gave a sharp growl which silenced them. Peach looked around her, she hadn't expected the place to be so full, smaller Koopa species, goombas, even a Boo, and creatures she didn't even know the names of hustled about going from shop to shop, coming out with beachwear, ice cream and candy. There was a sign pointing to the arcade a few blocks down, a map of the area, and even a small amusement park with miniature golf, go carts and a kiddie roller coaster. She never though a place like this existed in Bowser's realm!

"Okay." Bowser grumbled once he counted to make sure all his kids were present, "Who's going to the arcade?" He asked.

Junior jumped up excitedly declaring "Me! Me!" His shout was joined by Larry and Lemmy, and a shrug from Ludwig.

Bowser counted the kids going to the arcade and turned to the others, "And Wendy's going to the spa, so where will the rest of you be going?"

Iggy pointed to town, "I'mma going to go to the old book shop an' see if they have that comic book I want."

"And...?" Bowser pressed.

Iggy shrugged, "Then I'll just wander I guess and see you when I see you." He said.

Bowser looked contemplative a moment but gave his son a nod, "Roy, Morton?" He looked to the final boys, who were looking at the amusement park and didn't need to answer.

"Alright then, we'll all meet back here at the warp pipe at eleven and get a quick lunch before we go to the concert, clear?" Bowser watched his kids all nod enthusiastically before they darted off in all different directions. He turned to her, "And what would you like to do Peachy?" He asked with a loving sing-song to his voice.

Peach almost didn't hear him, she was still amazed at the sights and sounds of this place, so unlike any other part of Bowser's Kingdom it felt like a dream, "Are we still in the Darklands?" She asked

Bowser gave a throaty laugh as he took her arm, "Yes. Where do you want to go?"

Peach couldn't answer just yet. "You don't have a castle here?"

The Koopa King rolled his eyes, "Of course I do, and you've been there." He pointed to the sky, "It's a floating castle, I still can't believe those plumbers found you. Now where do you want to go?" He was trying to be polite, but impatience rang at the edges of his voice.

Peach shook her head, when she had heard about the beach with a spa and an arcade she had thought the place was a private beach with no one on it but them, not the bustling street. "What do you usually do?" She asked.

Bowser didn't answer right away, "To be honest, usually when we come here I'm so worn out I just go to the beach to take a nap and wake up an hour later with my kids trying to bury me in the sand." He chuckled at the memories.

"You, worn out?"

"Being King isn't the same as being Princess, you know. I've got actual work to do and eight kids to pay attention to when I can manage, plus I don't know if you've noticed, but I have this thing with Kammy no one's been able to settle." He shook his head, "Yes, I get worn out sometimes." He added an emphasis on the 'sometimes' and flexed his muscles with a low growl.

Peach giggled. "Well, I don't think a nap is necessary, but a walk on the beach sound just lovely." She said. By this time she didn't even think of herself as a prisoner.

Bowser escorted her along the shops toward the beach, stopping every once and a while so Peach could go into a shop and take a look around, the Koopa king rolled his eyes occasionally and reminded her that the more time she spent fooling around on the streets, the less time she'd have on the beach.

Peach could only laugh.

At last the reached the beach. With only half an hour to enjoy it before they had to meet back at the warp pipe, Bowser informed her. Peach slapped him playfully, and went to a public restroom on a hill over looking the sand and water, to quickly change into a bathing suit she'd had Bowser purchase for her, she tied her hair up and slipped on the sunglasses as she walked back out. "How do I look?" She asked.

Bowser pushed the rim of his own sunglasses further up his snout. "You look like Roy." He joked, indicating the sunglasses and utter pinkness of her.

Peach giggled again, "Well so do you, at least you have the excuse of being the same species and gene pool!"

She didn't wait for his retort and raced across the sand to the water. At first touch the ocean waves were freezing, enough to make her shriek delightedly. Her body quickly adjusted to the temperature and she splashed around playfully. A few young and curious Koopas swam toward her, and in water game of catch started which Peach was invited to join.

Behind her Bowser himself slipped into the water, not joining the game, but merely watching and relaxing. Time flew by for Peach, and soon she had to disappoint her teammates when Bowser announced they had to leave. The small Koopas marveled at their King, and looked at Peach excitedly asking if she'd come back and play with them again sometime. Peach didn't know how to answer them. She had fun, she really did, but she had no idea when she'd ever be back here. She ended up promising that if she was ever back she would.

"Yay!" The kids cried happily and resumed playing as Peach followed Bowser back out of the water and up the beach. Still too wet to put her dress back on, the princess merely held it while the sun dried her as she walked.

Along the way back up the shops they met Wendy just coming out of the spa with her nails done, her shell waxed and her ribbon replaced with a bright pink one that had a pin in the shape of a skull on it. Before Peach could compliment the new look, Wendy was complimenting her choice in swimsuit and sunglasses. She then turned to her father and frowned slightly.

"Those glasses make you look too much like Roy, King Dad." She said firmly but politely.

In reply Bowser pushed the glasses further up his snout, "Gotta prove he's my kid somehow. Haven't quite figured out how to prove you're mine though." He added "Maybe somebody swapped your egg before you hatched and my real princess is out somewhere with a job paying for spa treatments with hard earned money." He teased.

Wendy almost looked ready to faint.

Bowser laughed, and Peach hid a grin behind her hands, "That's not funny King Dad." Wendy whined.

"Sure it is!" Iggy said as he approached holding a comic book to his chest protectively. "Nice glasses Pops." He added with a nod to both Peach and Bowser.

"Oh yeah, and how exactly can he prove, you're legitimate Iggy?" Wendy put her claws on her hips defensively.

Iggy didn't reply and instead opened his comic book almost shyly.

Bowser only chuckled and patted his son's head, ignoring Wendy's demands to know how he knew everyone else (with the exception of Junior since that was 'obvious') were actually his kids. Peach could no longer hold back a laugh, making Wendy turn to her with a hurt expression. The princess smiled shyly.

"If Bowser really thought any of you weren't his kids he probably would have thrown you out already." She said jokingly.

Wendy accepted this answer and dropped the subject; Bowser winked at her as the approached the warp pipe where the other Koopalings were already gathered. Before proceeding any further Bowser counted heads to be sure once again that indeed all of them were present.

"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine- what the- nine?" Bowser counted again, coming up with only eight. Junior suggested maybe he had accidentally counted the spike doll he'd won at the arcade. He held it up proudly for his father to see, Bowser blew smoke out of his mouth in response, slightly annoyed that maybe he had. Just to be sure he counted again.

Then it was back into the warp pipe. From there they went to a purple pipe, Ludwig finally looked really excited, he'd been looking forward to this concert for a while apparently. As Bowser had said earlier, they had a quick lunch at a small shop just outside the building the concert was taking place at. Peach ate a salad nervously, she had promised to stay for the concert and the cakes, but she didn't really want to go to the concert. She had no idea what was playing, and no one was telling her because it was a 'surprise', but given Royal Koopas' tastes in music, Peach was sure she would leave with a headache.

At last the time came for the concert. The Koopalings darted around excitedly, wanting to run and get to the music auditorium as soon as possible, their enthusiasm was contagious and despite her nervousness about the genre of music Peach found her heart racing with anticipation. Bowser's eyes were alight as well, which was the only way to tell how excited he was for the concert, and yet his gaze was also sad…It was because after the concert, she'd be leaving, Peach realized, and he wanted her to stay.

Peach's thoughts took a turn to the unexpected; she barely paid attention to the trip, and the walk to find their seats once they reached the auditorium. Bowser loved her; he said it all the time, but Peach had never seriously thought about it. She always assumed he just wanted to marry her to get control of her kingdom; or his love was a simple desire for her body. She knew many men looked at her, seeing a beautiful woman, and called that desire love, but was that really true of Bowser? Or did his love run deeper than that? They weren't the same species, and Bowser typically said humans were ugly creatures, preferring his own race as superior. What made her the exception?

Peach was yanked out of her thoughts with a sudden loud note of music. The concert was beginning soon and the musicians were warming up their instruments. The first thing Peach noticed was that there were indeed guitars, basses, drums and keyboards, the typical hard rock band ingredients, but in front of the stage, there was also a full orchestra. Confused, Peach looked around her, the audience was a huge mix of Koopa species; Birdos, Boos, Goombas, those unidentified species she seen at the beach, Pipes along the walls had Piranha Plants peeking out of them, and, to Peach's surprise, there were even humans in the crowd.

Peach looked back at the stage and the musicians, just as one of them began to speak. The band members were as racially diverse as their crowd, a human woman stood holding nothing but a microphone, while a small Koopa taped his drums once more, and larger Koopa, closer related to Bowser's species, but not quiet sat at the keyboard, while the most unorthodox Toad Peach had ever seen held a guitar that almost looked a bit too big for him, the bass was going to be played by a Birdo.

"Good afternoon!" The woman spoke into the microphone; her worlds had a trickle of an accent Peach couldn't recognize. The crowd cheered loudly, the Koopalings seeming to try to be loudest "Good afternoon! Thank you, thank you all! We're delighted to be here today, this is an amazing turnout, and we're so excited to be here."

The crows continued to cheer as the woman spoke, welcoming the crowd and warming them up for their first song, Peach was mesmerized by her voice, so gentle, yet powerful, she showed absolutely no fear to be among so many different types of creatures, Even the royal Koopa family which she happily announced that the band was proud to play for.

Then the intro ended, and the music began to play.

As mesmerizing as the woman's voice was to listen to as she spoke, it was nothing compared to her voice as she sang. Peach couldn't recognize the lyrics, realizing momentarily that they were not being sung in English. The music was soft at first, with a few violins and other wind instruments. Then the drum started to beat, the bass picked up next. The music flowed together with the woman's voice like something out of a dream. All sound converged together in one beautiful note before things went silent.

Then there was an explosion of sound and lights that made Peach jump. The crowd roared enthusiastically clapping and screaming as the band continued to play around them. This was a mix the Princess had never heard, Rock and Classic Orchestra, she'd always thought no matter where she heard it the heavy metal music that Bowser and his kids enjoyed, it would always give her a headache…but not this…This was the most incredible thing Peach had ever heard.

As the first song ended Peach realized her hand was touching Bowser's. The King's eyes were on the stage and his attention there as well. He hadn't moved his hand to take hers. She had. Peach blushed, but did not let go, the second song began to play. The music was a vastly different pace, the lyrics vivid and strong; Peach almost could understand what the song was about, even if she didn't know what was being said.

The third song was soft and quiet the whole way through…and so sad. Peach was sure the song was about a lost love, but part way through the Koopa on the keyboard joined the front woman in the song. His rough growl of a voice both complement to his female companion's clear voice and a contrast, like sand paper and silk. Peach realized her mistake. This wasn't a song about lost love. It was about a love that existed but could never be.

Bowser squeezed her hand suddenly. Peach found tears filling her eyes as she squeezed back. She knew Bowser was looking at her now, but she dared not look back at him. The song ended as gently as it started, and new one began, something louder and brighter, Peach finally gathered the will to look at the Koopa king beside her, he had turned away again. Her heart skipped a beat as she looked at him. She listened to the rest of the concert, but her eyes rarely left Bowser as he stared down at the stage.

The Koopalings were happy to serve Peach big pieces of the cakes they'd made, it was odd to see them trying to have manners when usually they prided themselves in being mean, but they loved Mama Peach, and knew she liked it when people were polite. It was almost two in the afternoon when Peach stood in front of the warp pipe that would lead her home, looking behind her and waving as Bowser and his children watched her go. They wished her a happy birthday one last time, and Junior snorted smoke out his nose once more. Peach smiled and thanked them for the good time.

Her eyes landed on Bowser and locked on his. She could see in his ruby eyes that he wanted her to stay, but he was honoring his promise to let her go home. The song from before rippled in her head, as her heart skipped again. She smiled, almost sadly at him before she turned to the pipe.

Any longer looking in his eyes and she might just want to stay too.

The warp pipe landed her in front of Mario, who was about to jump in to the pipe himself. "Peach!" He cried in surprise, "You are alright-a!"

Peach dusted off her dress, "Of course." She said, "Why wouldn't I be?"

"Well-a its what-a Daisy told us." Mario explained. "She said that Bowsah had you, and-"

"She told you?" Peach rolled her eyes slightly, but smiled, Daisy just didn't understand that she was never in danger when Bowser, "Did she forget to mention that he just wanted to wish me a happy birthday?"

Mario seemed to notice her dress for the first time. His eyebrow raised, and Peach blushed, explaining that Bowser had given it to her, better than wandering around in her night gown.

Mario accepted his answer and offered his arm to escort her back to her castle, and the birthday party that awaited her there. Peach smiled at him and took it, but as they began to walk back to her castle, Peach turned toward the warp pipe, looking back at it longingly. She would probably never admit it to anyone, but the birthday party she had shared in the Darklands had been the best one she'd ever had.

One year later Peach walked toward her rooms after the usual huge day of feasting and celebrating that usually came with her birthday. She had enjoyed herself as she always did, but her heart was heavy, something felt like it was missing, and she knew exactly what it was.

She had expected for Bowser to appear again, no, not expected, hoped for him to come again.

The princess loved her kingdom and the people. They all loved her too, and her birthday was always special, but was always surrounded by people, and not all of them good friends. The parties and people felt so impersonal, especially when she considered that she would probably never meet any of them ever again. When Bowser had taken her to his kingdom for her birthday, the family had been so close to her, she never once felt like a stranger, so loved. So loved...

Peach regretted not asking the name of the band that had played on her birthday last year, the concert she had been taken to, she had tried to find it, but no one in the Mushroom Kingdom had ever heard of such a band. It made her feel...lonely.

But that was not all that was on her mind this night. Her mother and father had introduced her to several men around her age, noble men, princes and dukes from all corners of the world, except for the Darklands. At first Peach hadn't really thought anything about it, but as the hour grew later her parents had started talking with each other, about when they had gotten married, "At about Peach's age, wasn't it?" They laughed and looked over at her.

The princess knew immediately that the men she had been introduced to weren't mere party guests, her parents intended for them to try and court her. Peach felt sick suddenly and excused herself from the rest of the evening. It was true she was of marital age, but somehow she'd never been able to see herself standing at the alter with a man she barely knew, having kids and growing old with them. She hadn't even thought that far ahead with Mario!

She closed her eyes and tried to picture herself as a mother. The only thing she could visualize was standing in the kitchen, listening to Bowser's kids bicker as they tried to bake a cake together.

Peach shook her head; with it the image erased itself. A warm spot that had bloomed in her heart as the thought about it faded into an almost painful emptiness. She already knew what it was like to be a mother, but she'd probably never get to be with them again. With a sigh she opened the door to her room, looking to the floor. She had just taken off her crown, set it on her desk and looked in the mirror when she realized she wasn't alone.

She whirled around in delight/"Bowser!" It was almost frightening how happy she was to see him. In fact if any of the servants had heard her they probably would have thought she had gone mad.

"Didn't think I'd forget your birthday this year did you?" He growled a smug smirk on his face.

It took all of Peach's will not to run and embrace him. She simply smiled, "Well thank you for coming." She winked at him, "And having the decency not to ruin my party."

Bowser's smirked widened, but he said nothing about the party, "Where's the dress I got you?" he asked.

Peach's smile fell a bit, she turned away from him for a moment, heading instead to her closet, she opened it and shifted through her dresses, finally finding the one he had given her for her birthday last year. The dress and sunglasses from the beach trip were in there somewhere too. She pulled it out and showed it to Bowser. "I've grown a bit of a taste for it," She admitted, looking at the dress admiringly, "but unfortunately there aren't a lot of occasions it really suits."

"How about now?" Bowser asked, he turned suddenly and covered his eyes. "I won't look." He added as he turned away.

Peach laughed, "Sorry Bowser." He turned back, and she waved to the dress she was currently wearing, "This one has so many layers zippers and buttons it took three servants to get it on."

Bowser snorted, "Not really worth the effort." He told her, "I mean you look beautiful in anything Peach, but that…" He shook his head, "Not the best."

Peach shrugged, "I sort of had to, it was a present from Prince…" She paused, thinking back to the many faces she had been introduced to, trying to remember the name of the particular man who had given this dress to her, "Prince Someone-or-Another from…You know, one of the Northern Kingdoms." She mumbled, slightly embarrassed that she couldn't remember, slightly saddened again by her coming duty to marry.

Bowser looked ready to joke about Peach's little slip up, maybe comment that it was something he would say, but Bowser saw the sadness in her. "What's wrong?" He lifted a claw to her face.

Peach couldn't help it. Tears bubbled over her cheeks, and she told Bowser everything. She didn't want to marry any of these princes, dukes or whatever noblemen her parents introduced her to! She didn't want to bear children to her husband and never have the time as King and Queen to spend time with them as her parents had! She sobbed into her gloved hands; Bowser stayed where he stood, processing what she had said, and wondering what he could do to make his beloved Princess stop crying.

Eventually Peach managed to dry up herself, feeling childish. Bowser grabbed her suddenly, pressing her close to his body, "Come away with me Princess." He said seriously.

"What?"

Bowser's eyes were a light with love and adoration; he couldn't stand for the thought of his Peach being miserable, let alone her marrying another. "We can marry." He said, stroking her face gently, "I already have plenty of heirs so we don't need to worry about that. And I don't know what your kingdom does that keeps parents from their children, but I assure you we have plenty of time with my brats for you to play Mom…"

He went on, planning their life into fine details, but Peach stopped listening. She'd almost been ready to agree, the princess was unquestioningly more comfortable with Bowser than any of the suitors she had met that night, and living with him and his kids seemed like everything she ever wanted, and indeed she realized that was all she wanted. But…

What about her family, her friends, everyone in her kingdom that thought Bowser was an evil monster? How would they feel about this? She could try to explain it to them, maybe even tell them it was simply easier to marry Bowser than someone else with him kidnapping her all the time. But no one would ever really understand. No on would believe she really did marry Bowser of her own will, or if they did they'd feel betrayed, after all the years they spent trying to protect her from this monster and she still ended up in his claws…It was too complicated.

"And if anyone objects my fire breath tends to be better at negotiating than I am-"

"Bowser." She interrupted, pulling his snout down and planting a soft gentle kiss on it. "I would like that, I would like that very much but…"

Bowser's eyes had lit even further when she said 'I would like that', but they dimmed as she trailed off, he waited for her to continued, "But…?"

Peach sighed, not knowing what to say. She remembered that song from the concert that had affected her so deeply, the song about a love that existed, but could never be. She understood now, she loved Bowser, maybe not as much as he loved her, a seed of love that would grow into something amazing if given the chance, or taking this chance actually.

But she couldn't. Their love could never be, because society and the lives they lived up to this point would not allow it, "It's just that…" Peach tried to explain, "You and me…We could never work…" It sounded so stupid to her, but Bowser's eyes showed understanding, sadness, but understanding.

"I know." He growled.

Peach tried to step out of his embrace, "I can't go with you." She chocked on a lump in her throat.

Bowser's grip on her tighten however, and his eyes glinted mischievously, "Ah Peach, you think you have a choice." He chided, "You're so cute!" He swept her off her feet and gave a triumphant roar, alerting anyone in hearing distance to his presence. Peach rolled her eyes, Bowser never gave up, he never would, even when she did marry another man, and had children of her own. Bowser turned to the window when his Koopa clown car was waiting. Peach didn't protest she really didn't want to; she did however reach out over his arm and grab the dress. This might be her only chance to wear it for a while.

An alarm went off, and so did several small explosions. This wasn't the quiet kidnapping from last year, Bowser wanted everyone to know he was here, and taking the princess. His princess. Peach giggled softly as they made their escape. Her heart raced with excitement, and love. Perhaps that seed would have chance to grow yet…

Okay so that was my first Mario fanfic, and I've only recently started playing the games, so if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Thank you for reading!