And here is the final chapter! I had such fun writing this story, and I hope you had as much fun reading it! It was a great experience, and I will possibly write and Author's note after the summer trip to tell you how it went. Enjoy the final installment of Beating in Time!

Had the world ceased to move, to dance, to sing?

She didn't know, but she felt as though it had. Kocoum's eyes were flashing with various emotions that Pocahontas couldn't even begin to untangle. "And you, Kocoum? Are you drawn to these things?" She should not have asked a thing like that. Why couldn't she just keep her mouth shut?

Why couldn't she wait a moment longer for his answer?

He breathed out slowly, seeming to understand how desperate she was for an answer. "Pocahontas…" he began, reaching out slowly, so slowly, to take her smaller hand into his broad one, "I have been drawn to all these things and more since we were nearly children. First, it was your willful nature that my younger self was attracted to, mostly because I was jealous of it." His voice was deep with emotion and something beginning to surface, seemingly against his will.

Pocahontas could not breathe. She simply couldn't find the will to draw air. But he continued.

"Then, when we were older, it was your appearance. You have always been beautiful, but when I passed from boy to man, it was agony. I was constantly at war with myself, fighting not to follow you when you would go to the river to bathe or not to kiss you thoroughly whenever you drew near. When the fire within me slowly returned to a simmer, it was your wit, your courage, your caring nature that captured my attention. But all this was not enough for me to truly see exactly how much I cared for you. I thought I had plenty on time to understand. And then…" he trailed off for a moment.

She finally gasped in a few shallow breaths, trying not to make too much noise so she could hear his voice go on. Though he was speaking of past memories, his gaze was in the present, seeing her—here and now.

"And then, when I saw you kissing Smith—well, that solidified my love, strangely enough. It wasn't until then that I realized I did not have all the time in the world. I had forfeited my chance, to one I didn't even know, and it nearly tore me in two. When I attacked him…it was like my anger and jealousy and uncontrollable despair simply took me over, and I was lost to it. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank the spirits for letting it be me who got hurt, instead of Thomas or Smith."

Pocahontas gaped at him, wondering where the man she thought she knew went, and who this new man was. Had this all been recent, or had this change started from the moment they became friends? Or perhaps Kocoum had always been there; had always been this amazing person that sat before her, rubbing soothing circles on her hand.

"If it had been Smith, I doubt you would have ever forgiven me. As much as it still hurts to say, I know you loved…may still love…Smith. But I'm incredibly grateful that I can at least be your friend and protector, even if I will never have the pleasure of your hand in marriage," he said, his eyes never once leaving hers. When he saw the stricken look on her face, he hurriedly assured her, "Do not think that I'm telling you this to try and persuade you. I know I am not what you want, and I will just have to live with that. But…know that I will always love everything about you, and should you ever change your mind, I will be waiting."

A silence reigned for a long moment, the two pairs of hands intertwined and their eyes locked on one another, before Kocoum sighed and stood to return to his chores in the clearing.

It was a second that Pocahontas had to decide what she wanted most in life. The whirl pool of memories— from the time when the ship first came—swirled into her mind, before abruptly being swept away by a steady river of memories of the past two years.

And they all seemed to include Kocoum's solid presence.

Her dream seemed to play out before her mind's eye in pieces of a second, before she grasped onto what her future path was. It was always Kocoum. He had always been her future, and always would be.

Her hand reached out of her own accord, gripping his wrist and wrenching him back down to her. When he followed, she threw her arms around his neck and clung for dear life. After a moment, his arms came to wrap around her tightly, and she finally felt home. He pulled back slightly, looking hopeful and serious, and wiped her eyes with his fingers. She hadn't realized she was weeping until his hand came away with the beads of her tears.

"Pocahontas…" he whispered softly, before moving forward to capture her lips with his. Her eyes fluttered shut, and she surrendered.

She was flying.

She had thought she had known what it meant to fly, but now she knew better. She had merely been hovering at the edge of the cliff, waiting for her wings to be ready. With the heat of Kocoum's mouth on hers, moving in heedless abandon, she leapt from the tree with the eagle and soared. Their tongues dueled and danced, neither one seeking to gain an advantage, simply to drink of each other's love.

She was dizzy with the lack of air, and he was not letting her surface. She didn't think she wanted to anyways. The only sound in the clearing was the wind singing softly, and the whispers of her lips exploring his.

Kocoum slowly retreated, his eyes opening hesitantly; he was afraid that he would wake up to a different reality. His palms cupped her face, and he kissed each of her closed eyelids, her nose, her cheeks, and back to her lips, before leaning his forehead on hers and simply breathed.

Her scent was familiar to him now, as it had been since she had declared herself his friend, but time could not take away the headiness of it. She was sweet and spicy in both smell and taste, and he couldn't seem to get enough. He kissed the corners of her mouth again, before she shuddered and brought his lips back to hers in a more heated kiss. It was a feeling he knew he would never get used to.

"I love you so much…" she whispered between kisses. "Love you so, so much Kocoum. It hurts." Each word was punctuated with another soft press of her lips to his skin.

"I know it does, Pocahontas. But…it's the best kind of hurting. It squeezes your heart and tears at your insides, trying to be free and sing to the world how wonderfully it hurts. And then it heals and blossoms. Néméhotâtse, Pocahontas. More than I can possibly say," he murmured back, holding her as close as he could, her head resting on his shoulder as she breathed deeply.

"I want you, Kocoum. In my home, in my life, in my heart. I wish I could have wanted you long ago, but I think I needed to grow a little first. I'm so glad I don't have to wait anymore," she sighed, pulling back to look in his eyes, dark and smoldering like a fire not put out correctly. It sent shivers trilling up her spine, and she pulled him to her again, with no intention of stopping this time.

She pulled him down with her until he lay partially on her, snaking her arms around him and kissing him deeply, until they both had to break away for air. When she began to press against him, he broke away from her mouth. "My love, are you sure?" His deep voice caressed her when he moved his mouth to her neck, biting and kissing the column of her throat.

She could not even speak, she needed him so badly. So she simply nodded, breathing shallowly and moaning in frustration when he pulled away. "Then, there is something I must give you first. A wedding present." Though his arousal was evident, and his lust nearly untamable, he loved her far too much not to do this right. He reached into his pack, lying not far away and drew something around her neck before fastening it. "With this, I ask for your hand in marriage."

Pocahontas burst into tears as she looked at the gift, running her fingers over the smooth beads.

Her mother's necklace.

It had gone unrepaired for the years after the war; she couldn't look at it without being reminded of all the bad that had happened to her. But now, it was given a new meaning, a hopeful and joyous one that she would proudly wear until the end of her days. He smiled softly and again wiped away her tears and kissed her over and over, until her tears turned into laughter. "And I accept," she replied.

They loved deep into the night, time after time, never sated, never wanting to be parted. When the lovers collapsed against each other, unable to resist the lure of sleep anymore, Pocahontas rested her head on Kocoum's strong chest, listening to his heartbeat.

It beat in time with the drums.

It beat in time with her dreams.

His heart beat in time with her own.

The End.

Well, my friends, it has been an amazing journey. I couldn't ask for a better bunch of readers, and I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did writing. If you wish, I will keep you all updated on my trip this summer, which takes place in July. Let me know in a PM or a review.

Things to Know:

Néméhotâtse- I love you.

Note: Love-making, preceded by a wedding present, is considered marriage. A ceremony was not always necessary. Although I'm sure Kocoum would have given her a big feast and all that when they got back. ;)