DISCLAIMER: The Aladdin franchise and all its characters are the property of the Walt Disney Company. I neither claim ownership of any characters nor intend to profit from this story.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Though I've been a fan of the Aladdin franchise since 1992, I have never written a fanfic about it. It has also been nearly six years since I last wrote a story of any kind, so my writing may not be that sharp. Feedback is always appreciated though, so feel free to tell me what you think.

Reflecting on the Past

Written by daBOSS

"Take care, old friend," Aladdin said, gently patting Carpet. "We'll see you right here in a week."

The flying rug looked approvingly at its two closest human friends and nodded. Once again, it had done its job, transporting the two of them safely to their desired destination. This time though, it would not stay with them. This time, its task would be to return home and deliver the news of their safe arrival.

With a swift motion, Carpet turned around, waved its tassel, and darted back into the night sky. Aladdin looked on, waving back with his free hand as he watched his woven friend fly away. Once it was out of sight, Aladdin smiled and turned his attention to the woman whom his other hand was latched onto: his new wife Jasmine. She was still waving, glancing at the spot above the horizon where Carpet had vanished off to.

Aladdin gently pulled his wife into his arms for an embrace, to which Jasmine willingly accepted. She leaned against his shoulder for a few seconds before tilting her head upward to look at him, flashing the signature smile that still made him shiver with delight.

"Shall we proceed, my princess?" Aladdin asked, returning the smile.

"Of course, my love," Jasmine answered.

Hand in hand, the newlyweds grabbed their small bags and walked to the cabin's door. Aladdin opened it and stepped in with Jasmine following behind him. The starlit sky shined through the window, providing enough light for them to see the loveseat placed along the opposite wall, and Jasmine wasted no time in dropping her bag and making herself comfortable atop it.

Aladdin placed his bag down near Jasmine's, found a box of matches by the window, and used one to light the oil lamp by the doorway before closing the door. He scanned the cabin once it was lit, taking note of its contents. A large bed was against the wall adjacent to the entrance, and another door leading to the washroom was few meters farther down. A shelf stocked with a week's supply of food and water was tightly attached against the same wall that the loveseat was aligned to.

"Looks like everything is just as Genie described," Aladdin commented to Jasmine. "Remind me to thank him for putting all this together after we get home."

"Oh I'll be thanking him myself," Jasmine responded. "This is perfect. He really knows what we like."

Aladdin grinned as he thought back to the previous hour. After bidding farewell to his father and Iago, he and Jasmine returned to the palace for their first night together as husband and wife. However, to their surprise, Genie stopped them on the balcony before they had time to land and change out of their wedding attire. Their blue friend handed Aladdin a key and informed them that he, Abu, and Carpet had constructed a quiet cabin in the mountains for the newlyweds' honeymoon.

Once the initial shock was over and Genie had been rigorously thanked, the couple received a brief description of their retreat, accepted their already-packed bags from Abu, Rajah, and the Sultan, said their good-byes, and took off. The cabin was nearly two hundred kilometers outside of Agrabah, but travel time was never long atop Carpet.

Aladdin walked over to the loveseat and sat next to Jasmine, who almost instinctively enveloped him in an embrace. Her hands intertwined around his neck, and her head landed softly atop his clavicle. His response was just as automatic, wrapping his own hands around her waist and resting his cheek against her hair.

This was the honeymoon that they had both wanted: a simple refuge secluded in the desolate nature of the land, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Neither Aladdin nor Jasmine sought an extravagant retreat, having become far too familiar with such lavish ways from being exposed to palace life for so long. They were an adventuring couple in both heart and practice, and adventurers often found more solace spending a week in a mountain lodge than a royal suite.

More importantly, this was to be a week that they would share exclusively with each other. With danger threatening Agrabah frequently, official duties to attend to, and non-human friends who were close and helpful but not always well-mannered constantly around them, time available for themselves to spend as a romantic couple had become more and more seldom. Upon returning home, their hectic lives as Agrabah's next rulers would occupy most of their hours once again, making this week-long secluded retreat even more precious.

Nobody understood this better than Genie, who took charge of putting together the perfect setting for their honeymoon. This would be a week that Agrabah's most celebrated couple would thoroughly enjoy: no lavishness, no tedious royal duties, and no one but each other to keep company.

Aladdin took in the now-familiar but still-pleasant feeling of having Jasmine in his arms. His eyes looked down at her jet-black hair cascading down her back, hair that was still covered by a flower-pinned, white, translucent veil. He smiled slightly, remembering that they still wore their wedding garbs, and thought back to the picturesque moment several hours ago when he stood atop the altar and officially became her husband in front of family, friends, and guests from across the Seven Deserts and beyond. It was a moment he knew he would look back on frequently and treasure more each time.

His thoughts drifted to the woman whom he shared that moment with, the same woman whom he was now embracing for what seemed to be the millionth time. They had been together for three of the happiest years of his life, and although the length of their engagement seemed incredibly long to outsiders, he did not regret the decision to wait before marrying. He had always viewed it as an opportunity to solidify their bond, to discover and understand the feelings they shared for what they were: the purest, truest love. Monsters, wizards, spells, external jealousy, and even a few internal quarrels had constantly threatened to tear them apart, but the end result was always the same: their love not only survived, but strengthened after absorbing each blow.

Aladdin's smile widened as his mind traversed through the previous three years. Despite feeling as though he had known Jasmine for much longer, he still woke up everyday surprised at how much his life had changed since meeting her in the marketplace on that fateful day. His breathing turned heavy when he began recalling the events of that encounter, and as he thought deeper into the day that forever transformed his life, his emotions started to get the best of him. Although the hero in him prevented his eyes from shedding any tears, his change in emotion did not pass unnoticed.

"Aladdin?" Jasmine's voice came as she lifted her head from his chest to look up at him. "What's wrong?"

Aladdin sighed, meeting his wife's soothing gaze.

"It's nothing," he replied.

Jasmine brought a hand up to his face and caressed it gently.

"Aladdin," she smiled, "you know you can't hide your feelings from me."

He knew she was right, and even if she was not, her touch made it impossible for him to resist. She was his ultimate weakness. One look into her eyes, one sniff of her aroma, or one trace of her finger against his skin was enough to make his knees buckle more rapidly than any monster or wizard could.

"I was just thinking," he said, never taking his eyes away from hers. "It's still so crazy to me."

"Crazy?" Jasmine asked, shifting her eyes into a confused look.

"Us," Aladdin responded. "Jasmine, I know we've been together for three years now, but I still constantly think about how sudden this has all been."

He brought a hand up to her face, brushing aside a strand of loose hair back. Keeping his fingers around her ear, he slowly began combing through her dark threads.

"That day three years ago," he continued. "That day in the marketplace when I met you…I owe you so much for that day."

"No Aladdin," Jasmine cut in. "I'm the one who owes you. If you hadn't been there, I would've lost an arm. You saved my life."

"Maybe," said Aladdin. "But you're the one who became my life."

Jasmine's smile widened upon hearing those words. She opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off when Aladdin's thumb pressed against it.

"Before that day, I was nobody," Aladdin sighed, recalling how poorly he thought of himself. "I knew I could accomplish something greater, but all my life, people kept telling me that I was worthless and that I'd never be anything more than dirt to be walked over."

His eyes moved away from hers, almost as though he thought of himself as unworthy of looking at her because of his previous status as a person living on the streets.

"I kept my hopes up," he continued, "but having been treated like trash my whole life, it's hard not to believe much of what I was told, especially given the kinds of conditions I grew up in."

Aladdin felt Jasmine's hand caressing his face once again. His eyes shifted back to hers, and through their sparkling brown color, he knew she wanted to hear more.

"Then you came into my life," he spoke, almost whispering. "You were so different from everyone I knew. You saw through me. You understood me. I felt the connection with you immediately. But when I found out you were the Princess, I thought I must've sounded so stupid to you. It turns out you were able to see beyond my status as a street rat sooner than I was."

He closed his eyes and sighed, finding it both difficult and soothing at the same time to recount his memories.

"You're a wonderful man, Aladdin," Jasmine said, lifting his eyes open. "That you've kept such a pure, loving heart despite all the hardships you were forced to endure speaks volumes about the content of your character. It's one of the main reasons I fell in love with you."

"It's all thanks to you," Aladdin responded.

"No Aladdin," Jasmine reassured. "You had it in you all along."

"Maybe, but you were the one who brought it out of me," he informed. "Everything that I've become is because of you. It's because of you that I found the strength to accept and embrace love. It's because of you that I discovered I could be a hero. And now…"

His hand shifted down to her chin, tilting her face upward. He leaned down and pressed his lips to hers, giving her a soft, tender kiss. It was not deep, but performed as a way of delivering the sincerest of thanks his heart could muster.

"…it's because of you that I'll be spending the rest of my life as the happiest person alive," he finished as he pulled away. "I love you, Jasmine. I owe you everything, and not a moment goes by that I don't thank the stars for bringing us together in the marketplace on that fateful day."

Aladdin's face would not distance itself from Jasmine's any farther. With a swift motion, she pulled herself up to him and sealed his lips with hers, catching him off guard. Jasmine wasted no time in deepening the kiss, yearning to express her gratitude for his sweet words. Aladdin relaxed into her fervor, clutching her by the waist and tightening his grip on their embrace. Jasmine eventually parted her lips from his when oxygen became a factor.

"I love you too," she whispered, pressing her forehead against his. "And you won't be the happiest person alive because that title belongs to me."

Aladdin gave his wife a shy grin before shaking his head softly.

"This is still so crazy," he repeated. "For eighteen years, all I heard was how worthless I am and will never amount to anything. Now I'm sitting here married to the Princess of Agrabah herself."

"You've become Agrabah's greatest hero too," Jasmine added. "The people have finally seen the real you, and they've openly embraced you for who you are."

"All because of you," Aladdin emphasized. "If you hadn't believed in me, I never would've had the chance to become the man I am now. Thank you, Jasmine."

Jasmine's signature smile returned to her face, beaming with love and gratitude. She pulled her forehead away from his, reached her hand up to his head, and removed the turban that he'd been wearing since their wedding hours ago. Her fingers combed through his hair and rested back on his neck.

"You don't need to thank me for anything, Aladdin," Jasmine said tenderly. "I should be the one thanking you."

"What? Jasmine, no," Aladdin replied. "I haven't…"

Her index finger on his lips cut him off before he could say another word.

"Aladdin, I'm the one who owes you everything," Jasmine resumed. "You shared your world with me when I was trapped in my own. You offered me compassion and devotion when I felt the most neglected. You've always been beside me to support me, care for me, and love me."

By now her hand had reached down and carefully lifted his own hand up to her face. She kissed his palm gently and placed it against her cheek, closing her eyes and rubbing against it to feel the warmth of his rough but comforting texture.

"I want to always be here for you, because I know you'll always be here for me," she said as she placed his hand back down. "I just never imagined how much you'd do for me unconditionally."

A tear appeared at the corner of her eye. Aladdin saw it and quickly scanned her expression. It seemed as though she was feeling…regret? He did not want to believe it, but he knew Jasmine well enough to see through her expressions to her true feelings.

"Jasmine," he said, showing her concern and knowing that she could see him reading her. "What's wrong?"

Her lips curled into a small, cheeky grin.

"I can't hide my emotions from you either, can I?" she asked.

She took her eyes off his and rested her head back onto his shoulder. He could sense some unease welling up with her, so he tightened his embrace, sliding one hand up her back to hold her farther up her body. He knew that she would soon be telling him about whatever was troubling her so suddenly, and he wanted to make her as comfortable as possible.

"I don't deserve you," she whispered as the tear that had formed moments ago rolled down from her eye onto her cheek.

"What?" he asked surprised. He wanted to stop her immediately and question her about her choice of words, but he felt the tension in her emotions and suspected that she was desperate for a thorough vocal release.

"Aladdin, I've never told anyone this before, but if anyone deserves to hear it, it's you," Jasmine said softly.

He shifted his eyes downward to her face and saw the tear, quickly wiping it away with his own hand before she could reach up to do the same with hers. He gave her a comforting squeeze to let her know that he would be fully supportive of whatever she was about to reveal to him.

"I was raised as a princess, Aladdin," Jasmine began. "And as a princess, I was taught to display a strong, moral character at all times. To do so, I would have to be strong myself, or my dishonesty would stand out too easily."

She opened her eyes slightly to look up at him before closing them again and returning her head to his shoulder.

"For the most part, I've always been true to what I showed," she continued. "But there was one part of me that I always felt vulnerable about: my heart."

Aladdin felt her slightly squirm. He loosened his grip while she tried to resettle herself as his mind swirled with thoughts about what she was implying.

"You know about all the suitors I received, Aladdin," Jasmine said. "You know about how I rejected them all because of how self-absorbed they were, and you know that you're the first and only person who truly cared for me other than Father."

She finally ceased her fidgeting, repositioning her head atop his shoulder.

"But as awful as those suitors were, they did instill in me something that I'm not proud of," she spoke, almost as though she was fighting herself. "They made my heart question the hearts of others…" She hesitated for a moment before quietly uttering her next words, "…including yours."

Aladdin was listening intently. Conventional wisdom would have suggested that he immediately pull back and show her a stunned expression. Conventional wisdom would then tell him to scold her for ever doubting their love for each other. However, Aladdin was one of the last people on the planet to rely on conventional wisdom to pass judgment. He knew that the love he shared with Jasmine was much stronger than conventional wisdom would ever give it credit for.

He sensed a small amount of surprise from Jasmine when he tilted his face down and gently planted a kiss on her forehead. He guessed that she expected him to give into conventional wisdom. Nevertheless, his choice of action must have eased some of the tension within her, because she felt comfortable enough to continue speaking.

"You came into my life and opened my eyes," Jasmine murmured, now beginning to tremble from the nervousness of her words. "You opened your heart to me completely. I knew you were a wonderful man from the moment we met, but I could never imagine just how wonderful you'd be to me. And yet for every selfless act you've done for me, all I ever did was guard my heart against you."

"That's not true, Jasmine," Aladdin said, breaking his silence.

"I did," Jasmine responded quickly. "I was so uneasy about what I was feeling whenever you went above and beyond for me that I worried about being heartbroken, worried that you were only feigning affection. I grew up surrounded by royalty, and I had seen too many examples of false devotion when royals interacted with each other."

Her discomfort was becoming more apparent with every word. It was agonizing for Aladdin to listen, but he knew he could not be concerned with his own feelings at the moment. Jasmine was openly battling some of the few demons she had, and she needed him to be the dependable support she always placed her faith in.

"I always trusted you fully, but I didn't trust my own heart," she continued speaking, barely above a hush. "It almost felt like I had to push you out, to test your love for me, before I could be certain that it was true love. That's why I played with your feelings. That's why I started all those trivial fights with you. That's why I tried to drive you away over and over again. And that's why I'm sitting here now with a heart full of regrets."

He saw the tears forming in her eyes again. He wanted her to end her self-loathing, but she did not give him a chance to interrupt.

"I really was trapped when we first met," she whispered, now almost croaking. "I was trapped by my own insecurities, and I lashed the bulk of their weight at you. Part of me can't believe that you still married me after the horrible ways I've treated you. You could have left me long ago, and I wouldn't have blamed you if you did. You deserve someone who doesn't question your love, someone who doesn't foolishly protect her heart from fear of pain. You've done nothing but love me unconditionally, and I never fully returned your love because of my own stupidity."

The tears in Jasmine's eyes began trickling out. The brunt of her confession was fully weighing down on her. Aladdin wanted to comfort and reassure her, but his normally articulate mind could not find the words to do so instantaneously. At this moment, his only response to her outpouring was to provide the shoulder that would catch her tears.

He clutched her tightly against him as she broke into a small sob.

"I'm so sorry, Aladdin," she sniffled. "I'm so sorry for all the times that I've doubted your love, I'm so sorry for being such a burden for you, and I'm so sorry for not telling you this sooner. It's so selfish of me to wait until our wedding night to finally let you hear the truth."

Aladdin could not listen to her words anymore. Though he felt glad that Jasmine was showing her full faith in him by sharing her darkest secret, she was emotionally tormenting herself in the process. If there was one person who did not deserve any form of torment, it was his Jasmine, and he was determined to not let her continue.

Aladdin's hand traveled back up to her cheek, cupping it slowly. He tilted his head down and gently kissed each of her eyes, hoping his touch would wipe away her tears. Jasmine's eyes opened up to look at his once he had pulled away. Their deep brown color shined under the glow of the lamp-lit cabin, mesmerizing him in the same way that they never failed to do. He could see the sparkle in them, the same sparkle that told him of the unwavering strength and headstrong determination she always held within, the qualities that he had always loved about her.

"Jasmine," Aladdin began, still slightly uncertain of what he should say. "You never need to apologize to me, because you've done me no wrong. You're not a burden, and I have never doubted in the strength of your heart."

He received only a small sniff in response, but he knew without any pondering that she was listening to him as always.

"Your heart's bigger than mine," he continued. "It's bigger than the hearts of everyone in the Seven Deserts combined."

Jasmine's head went back onto Aladdin's shoulder, and as Aladdin started thinking about the words he was choosing to say, instances where Jasmine displayed the wide extent of her heart's vigor began pouring into his mind.

"No one has a heart that comes close to matching yours," he stated. "Only you were noble enough to surrender your freedom for a young king whose foul mood was plaguing his people. Only you had the kindness to forgive so many who've wronged you and see them for the wonderful people they are. You forgave Merc after he left you for dead in the desert, and you even forgave Sadira after she tried to steal me away three times! Only you were selfless enough to sacrifice your own life for a child who stood beneath a falling tower."

He cupped her chin and looked into her eyes again. The tears were still present, though significantly less visible than before.

"And only you," he said soothingly, "had the compassion to openly love a street rat when everyone, including himself, saw him as insignificant."

Aladdin placed another soft kiss on Jasmine's lips, hoping to show his full affection and appreciation.

"You're a princess in every sense of the word, Jasmine," he murmured as he placed her forehead against his. "You taught me to never doubt my own self-worth. Now I'm telling you to never doubt in the full strength of your heart."

She flashed a small smile, which he mirrored. She leaned in and gave him another sensual kiss.

"I love you," she whispered, barely audible, "so much…so so much…"

"I love you too," he responded, clutching her back into his arms for a soft embrace.

Aladdin enjoyed a moment of silent bliss as he held his wife tightly, gently rocking her back and forth in subtle but noticeable sways. He glided one hand up to her back and patted it tenderly. He knew at this moment that he did not need to verbalize anything else; his words had accomplished what was necessary, and all she desired now was to feel his comforting touch.

Jasmine's confession continued to cross his mind, and even he was slightly surprised that he did not react to her revelation with a noticeable degree of shock. This was his Jasmine after all, the woman who showed almost no weakness under the direst duress, and it should have been completely unexpected for her to disclose any insecurities. Even more, she was admitting doubt in her heart, the last part of her that Aladdin could ever fathom as fragile.

However, Aladdin knew Jasmine too well, and he knew that whatever flaws she had could quickly be overcome by her strengths. He knew that was the reason he did not feel alarmed by what she told him. In fact, he was discovering that he appreciated her even more for it, since she had trusted him enough to fully confide her darkest secret exclusively to him.

"Aladdin?" Jasmine spoke, breaking the silence after a few minutes.

"Yes?" came his reply.

"Thank you," she murmured. "Thank you again for your words, your trust, your support, and your comfort."

"You don't need to thank me, Jasmine," he said. "I'll always be here for you, just like a husband is supposed to for his wife."

She answered back with a smile, gliding the palm of her hand along the side of his neck to let him know how much she continued to be grateful for him.

"I'm glad we had this talk," she sighed lovingly. "You've always been great at these."

"No, Jasmine," he responded. "We've always been great at these together. This is how we first fell in love, and this is why we'll always understand each other."

There was a brief pause before he heard her voice from his shoulder again.

"Yes, it's certainly true, isn't it?" she uttered with a small laugh, much to his delight.

Jasmine lifted her head off Aladdin's shoulder and lined her eyes up with his once more. Taking his face in her hands, she closed in on him and locked her lips on his. She pushed against him and he responded the same way, matching her every movement. They kissed for over a minute before pulling apart.

"Jasmine," Aladdin spoke first, "even though we're now married and this is a new beginning for us, we'd be lying to ourselves if we pretended that our past won't affect us again. There are going to be times in our future when I will still feel unworthy."

"I understand," Jasmine replied, "and there will be times when I'm going to question my heart."

Aladdin moved his hand up and took one of hers in a gesture of warmth.

"But no matter what happens, it'll be our future," he declared. "We'll face it all together. I've told you before that I'll never leave you, and I will stand by those words forever."

"That makes two of us," she responded. "You can count on me to be here for you whenever you need me as well."

His hand placed hers down gently and moved back up to her cheek. He slid the back of his fingers upward until they reached the area above her ear. He wove his fingers into her hair and softly and repeatedly combed through her threads.

"You're my rock, Jasmine," Aladdin said.

"As you are mine, Aladdin," Jasmine answered.

His fingers slid through her long, black hair until they reached the flower pins of her veil. Temporarily removing his other hand from her waist, he unclipped both pins and tossed her veil to the spot where his turban had been chucked to earlier. Fully removed of their roadblock, his fingers resumed brushing through the full length of her silky threads, curling back around each time they reached the tips.

He could sense her body becoming warmer as he continued to indulge in the feeling of her soft hair. This caused him to remember that they were indeed on their honeymoon. Throughout their conversation about their past insecurities, the situation had been relegated to the back of his mind. Now that the verbal exchange of profound feelings had ended, the realization of their circumstances had crawled back to the forefront.

"Are you nervous about tonight?" he whispered into her ear, knowing that they both understood where they were and what was about to happen between them for the first time.

"A bit," she replied. "But I know it's going to be wonderful because it's you."

"I hope so," Aladdin said. "I wouldn't want to disappoint you."

"You can never disappoint me, Aladdin," Jasmine informed him. "You're already the man of my dreams ten times over."

Aladdin could only respond with a shy smile. He was glad that the oil lamp was becoming dimmer or Jasmine would see the redness in his cheeks.

"It's getting late," he stated. "We should wash up and get ready for bed or we won't have time for our first night together before the sun comes up."

"Yes, you're right," she concurred. "You go ahead and wash first. I'll unpack our bags."

"Okay," he complied, giving her a smile and releasing her from their embrace to get up from the loveseat.

He walked over to his bag and pulled out a towel and a change of clothes before heading to the washroom.

"I'll see you in a bit, my princess," he said as he walked through the door and closed it behind him.

Once he entered the adjacent room, Aladdin sat down on the floor and allowed his mind to scroll through the events of the past one final time. He thought about the hardships he faced growing up on the streets of Agrabah as an orphan and how he had to fight tooth and nail simply to survive from day to day. He thought about his chance encounter in the marketplace with the only woman who ever saw him as more than he thought of himself, how she stole his heart and gave him her own, how she reshaped him and helped him realize his full potential, and how she had become his better half. He thought about what she revealed to him tonight: that despite her seemingly endless strength and compassion, she still had to fight against her own self-loathing.

One by one, memories of his past crossed through, and one by one, Aladdin carefully shelved each of them. As the past slowly wound down and the last of his recollections were safely stored away, Aladdin shifted his focus to what lay ahead: his future with Jasmine. With the past set aside, the future was set to be a whole new world...their whole new world, and, just like the events of their past, he would savor every minute they would spend together.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Okay, I know I ended this rather abruptly. As I said at the start, my writing is probably not sharp after a six year hiatus. How did you enjoy this story? Please feel free to let me know. All constructive feedback is welcomed!