Free

by She's a Star

Disclaimer: Alas, nothing is mine.

A/N: I was just moved to write this, though I don't think I even began to do the wonderful movie the slightest bit of justice.

Dedication: To Rachey, just 'cause she loathes Titanic with every fiber in her being. :)

~*~

The sunset was dancing across the sky, painting brilliant oranges and hazy yellows against the faint blue and transforming the glittering ocean into a rainbow of sparkling colors amongst the ripples.

A smile on her lips, Rose Dewitt Bukater lovingly stroked the mane of the ebony horse she was perched upon, one leg draped over each side of the animal. Her fiery curls brushed against ivory cheeks as the wind sent them softly flying, and her infectious laughter rang through her own ears and mingled with the soothing sound of the surf caressing the rough, tan sand. At that moment, she couldn't bring herself to believe that the soft, rolling waves of the ocean could transform into a cold-blooded killer, icy fingers tediously draining the life from innocent souls. But everything had a darker side.

To her relief, a familiar playful voice brought her quickly from her desolate reverie.

"Going up she goes...up she goes...come Josephine in my flying machine."

Jack's mischievous singing blended easily with the soft, even 'clip-clop' of his horse's steps, and he quickly made his way towards her.

"We're here, Jack," Rose informed him, fixing her gaze dreamily out on the sunset. After seventeen years of captivity, she was finally experiencing the blissful ecstasy of freedom that she'd always fantasized about. "We're doing it; it's not just a dream."

He grinned broadly at her, directing his horse a bit closer until they were side by side. His fingers entwined with hers, and the gesture brought Rose's thoughts back to the first time they'd touched. Closing her eyes, she could almost hear his soft voice directing her calmly, the exhilarating adrenaline rush that had pulsated through her veins when she'd opened her eyes and gotten a glimpse of what it would be like to be truly free, to fly. Every other obstacle had moved aside in that one moment, and a soft whisper dancing through the air seemed to promise her that she would truly be able to be free of her mother's constant commands and Cal's never-ending control he seemed to think he had over her.

Now she'd escaped them; she'd never again have to dress in fancy gowns and excruciatingly painful corsets or be lectured for smoking at the dinner table.

"We're not stopping here, Rose," Jack responded, his voice holding its constant smile. "We'll go everywhere; learn the can-can in France, go sled-dog racing in Alaska...there's nothing holding us down."

"Just a couple of tumbleweeds blowing in the wind," Rose added with a contented grin.

"You just have to take me with you, Rose," Jack continued. "Don't ever think anything can hold you back...go everywhere, and I'll always be there too."

Rose felt a familiar sense of despondency fill her as the sound of Jack's voice slowly faded into the wind and her hand, so warm only seconds before, now clung to nothing.

Sighing heavily, she softly jutted her feet to the horse's sides and rode slowly into the sunlight by herself.

Now all she had to do was wait to wake up.

~ * ~

A fond smile had found its way onto Rose's lips, though she was still sleeping soundly. Her white hair framed a serene face, withered with age and experiences that could never quite be forgotten. Pictures covered each flat surface, chronicling the series of whirlwind adventures that had woven together to create her life. Without the slightest indication of pain, the steady breathing that had filled the otherwise silent room ceased.

In an instant, Rose felt her youth return to her, the elating rush of being young bringing a smile to her now flawless face. The elegant decor of the Titanic surrounded her, and two courtiers smiled before swinging open glossy wooden doors to make way for her. Familiar fellow passengers whose lives had been taken on that fateful night smiled and waved at her, and the heavy aura of anticipation hung in the air. Rose's heartbeat quickened as her eyes fell upon the figure waiting beside the clock, back to her. Tears of happiness sprung up in her eyes, and she quickly raced up the steps.

Jack turned around at once, his smile a mixture of love and felicity, along with the ever-present mischievousness that had drawn Rose to him in the first place. A blissful smile danced across her lips, and without any longer hesitation, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pressed her lips to his. A pure, sweet completeness that she'd missed with all her heart for eighty-four years returned at once, and she allowed herself to lose herself in his kiss, the applause of the fellow inhabitants of the room ringing lightly in her ears.

Below the ship where Rose's lifeless body now rested, the Heart of the Ocean hit the sea floor with an inaudible thud, eternally setting her spirit free.