Disclaimer: If I owned these characters, I'd probably never have to write again.

They say the darkest hour comes before dawn. I never knew how true that was.

Until that night.

Cold. Dark. Lonely. The whole place lacked life. The hard stone, the bitter tears, the golden warmth leaving him: I remember it all. My vision was so blurred with sorrow, I could barely see her caress that lovely face. I knew she grieved too – maybe even more than I did –, but I could offer no comfort. My own grief drowned my heart.

Nothing pained me as much as seeing him like that. Bound, shorn, lifeless. Dead. How could he be dead? I had believed nothing could kill him. He was too great, too wonderful, too alive. And yet there he lay, cold, beside me.

Numb. So, so numb. I felt nothing but my anguish. Not the stone I sat upon, not the lack of circulation in my leg, not even the bite of those unrelenting ropes that bound his body as I tried to loosen them.

The moon was blanketed by dense clouds. The light breeze flowed through my cloak. My own weeping echoed her sobs. Could a night be any darker?

The first rays of a new day touched me, but could not drive away the shadows in my heart nor warm me after my long vigil. Bereft of all hope, I watched as dawn crept over the horizon. I left the dismal scene with a heart heavier than I thought possible, but only to return just a moment later. If I had thought that things couldn't possibly get worse, I was wrong: for now, the body of that beloved one was gone, taken the moment I had turned my back. Surely they could have left the body?

I wished my world would end. It might as well have been so if he was dead. What else in life was worth living for? As relieving as it was to see the morning, I just wanted to sink back into the night. To keep the sun from promising a new day.

That was when I looked up. And there, surpassing the sun in all its glory, stood he. Warm, golden, free. Alive. More alive, if possible, than ever before. My heart leapt with joy, flooding from my heart into every part of my being. I rushed to kiss his beautiful face. Victory. Power. Majesty. Life. Could a morning be any brighter?

Truly, they say the darkest hour comes before dawn. But to that, I say that after night, comes day.

Another disclaimer: I'm letting you all know that I stole (or, as Bree would call it, "raided") the phrase "after night comes day" from Amazing Grace's Barbara Spooner. And thanks to the title of a chapter from a Laura Ingalls Wilder book for both inspiring and naming this short fic.

Author's note: Please review!