Author's note: This fluffy little plotbunny was inspired by a discussion about two years ago on Bittersweet and Strange (a wonderful BATB forum – come check it out! The link is in my profile). The discussion was about possible non-canon Disney pairings, and full credit goes to Nyxity for coming up with this pairing! Back then, I was so intrigued by the idea that I wrote the beginning of a chapter, but then set it aside and kind of forgot about it. Then recently, I was looking through old files on my computer, and came across it. Re-reading it, I got inspired again, and started writing more!

This is not going to be long and complicated, like my years-in-the-making epic "This Idyllic Scene" (which I'm still writing as we speak!). This one will be just a short fluffy piece, just for fun. Enjoy!

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Gaston rode through the forest, his thoughts dark and brooding, as they had been for the past month. He wasn't used to losing, and although he'd put a good face on it for the villagers and saved his reputation, HE still knew the truth, and it irked him.

He'd killed the Beast, he was sure of it – nothing could have survived that stab wound – but before he could watch it die and claim his trophy, Gaston had lost his balance and fallen off the tower.

To this day, he still wasn't quite sure how he'd survived that. In the midst of his fall, he had experienced a strange vision: a golden-haired woman in a green dress who waved a wand, slowing his fall, and warned him that he'd been given a second chance and was not to waste it. Then he'd lost consciousness, and when he awoke, he was safe on the ground, unharmed. He was puzzled, but shrugged it off to his own amazing toughness and survivability. That odd vision must have been merely a moment of delirium.

So, no Beast, no revenge, no magnificent trophy for his wall. And to add insult to injury, shortly after that, the long-missing prince had returned triumphantly from wherever he'd been all these years and, out of the blue, married Belle! Gaston's Belle!

Gaston hated the unknown prince for that. But as furious and jealous as he was, Gaston wasn't an idiot. He was brave enough to take on any man or Beast in a fair (or more likely, unfair) fight...but a prince had the power to simply order Gaston beheaded without a second thought. Gaston might be willing to kill for Belle, but he sure as heck wasn't willing to die for her. Much as he hated to back down, he was forced to cut his losses.

He'd still bragged to the villagers about killing the Beast, claiming that when he'd stabbed it, it had fallen off the tower and down into the canyon, where its body was lost to the river. (In reality, he was certain the prince had found the dead Beast on the tower and claimed the trophy for himself, just as he'd claimed Gaston's intended bride.) So he was still admired by the villagers as always.

But the truth of the fiasco gnawed at Gaston. He was restless, and found himself ranging farther and farther afield on his hunting trips, often gone from home for weeks at a time. He was searching, but for what? He didn't know. He just felt the need to do something, to feel that he was taking action, not just sitting around in defeat. Maybe somewhere along the way, he'd be able to accomplish some amazing feat - something bold and heroic and legendary to erase the memory of the unfortunate...incident. (He refused to call if a "failure", even in his own mind.)

He was traveling through a forest in a neighboring kingdom when the silence was suddenly broken by a high-pitched scream.

Who could be screaming in the middle of a forest? Gaston spurred his horse toward the sound. As he approached a clearing, Gaston saw a young woman cowering on the ground, looking up in terror. A man held a knife over her, about to strike.

Without a second thought, Gaston leaped off his horse and tackled the man to the ground, easily wrenching the knife out of his hand and holding it to his throat. "Who are you? And what are you doing to that girl?" Gaston demanded.

The frightened man held up his hands in surrender. "My name is Humbert, and I'm sorry! It wasn't my fault! I was under orders from the Queen!"

"The Queen?" Gaston said in confusion.

"My stepmother?" the girl gasped at the same time.

The man on the ground looked over to her. "Yes, princess. Please forgive me! She has gone mad with jealousy of your beauty! She sent me to kill you. She'll stop at nothing! Run! Run into the woods and never come back!"

With a gasp, the terrified girl leaped to her feet and ran off into the woods.

Gaston glared at the man, whom he still had pinned on the ground. "You idiot! Why did you tell her to run into the woods? She's running blindly, and the woods are dangerous! She'll probably fall into a swamp and drown. Or get eaten by wild animals."

"I-I didn't think of that," the shaken Humbert admitted. "I only wanted her to escape from the Queen - she's evil and powerful, she knows black magic..."

"Magic? That's ridiculous," scoffed Gaston, not believing in such fairy tale nonsense. He reflected a moment. "But if she's the Queen, she can send guards to track down the girl..." He looked down at Humbert. "You'll have to tell the Queen you did kill the girl. And make it convincing!" he added menacingly.

Humbert nodded. "Yes, you're right, I will. But what about this?" He held up a box.

Gaston looked at it uncomprehendingly. "What's that?"

"The Queen wants proof that the princess is dead," Humbert explained. "She told me to bring her heart back in this box."

"She wants the girl's heart?" Gaston said in disbelief. Even at his most villainous, he'd' never gone THAT far. "She must be insane! But that makes her more dangerous." He noticed that the man was dressed as a huntsman. "All right then. Go kill something else, a wild boar or something, and bring her its heart instead."

Humbert nodded in relief. "Yes, yes, that will work! But what about the princess?"

"I'll find her, don't worry," Gaston said confidently. Leading his horse, he headed off in the direction the girl had run.

The trail of broken twigs and tiny footprints in the mud made it easy enough to find her. When the footprints stopped, he looked around and listened. He could hear her panicked breathing and muffled sobs. There –- behind that bush, he could see a glimpse of black hair and red ribbon.

"It's all right," he said. "You can come out now. That man who tried to kill you is gone." She didn't answer, and he could sense her hesitation, like a trembling little rabbit. "Come on – you don't have to worry. You're safe now. I won't let anything hurt you," he promised.

Reassured, she emerged slowly from the bush. Seeing her clearly for the first time, Gaston was suddenly struck by how utterly beautiful she was. Fairer even than Belle, with hair black as ebony, lips as red as roses, and skin white as snow.

And unlike Belle, who was a crazy inventor's daughter, this girl was royalty. An actual princess.

She curtseyed. "Thank you, kind sir, for rescuing me," she said gratefully. "I was so frightened! If you hadn't come along..." Her lip trembled, and tears filled her big doe-brown eyes.

"Well, luckily I DID come along," Gaston said proudly, quite pleased with himself. He'd rescued a damsel in distress almost without even trying! Talk about manly! "You've got nothing to fear with me around." He flexed his muscles to prove his point.

Her eyes widened at the sight of his bulging biceps. "My, you ARE very strong, as well as brave!" she said admiringly. "A hero like you must rescue people all the time!"

Gaston grinned. "None as beautiful as you, though."

She blushed pink at the compliment and turned away, overcome with shyness. He was utterly charmed.

"I'm Gaston," he told her.

She turned back to him and looked up at him with a shy smile. "I'm Snow White," she said with another pretty curtsey.

Suddenly, without warning, there was a crack of thunder. Snow White gave a startled little shriek.

"It's all right! It's just thunder," Gaston assured her. She was certainly a skittish little thing! He looked up at the sky, darkening with clouds. "Looks like it's going to pour. Give me a minute." He rummaged in the saddlebag and pulled out his hunting knife and some twine. Spying a fallen tree to use as a base, he gathered broken branches and leaves and quickly constructed a rough lean-to, throwing the horse's blanket over the top. "There," he said with satisfaction. "It's not exactly waterproof, but it'll hold off the worst of it." Gesturing to it, he said to Snow White, "After you, my lady."

"My goodness!" she said, impressed, as she ducked to enter the lean-to. She sat down on the ground and smoothed her skirts gracefully around her. "To think you were able to build this shelter so quickly! Is there anything you can't do?"

"Not much," Gaston boasted, joining her under the lean-to. He was thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to show off for a new, gorgeous girl. For the first time in weeks, Belle was completely forgotten.

Soon it began to rain. Gaston noticed Snow White shivering a little. "Are you cold?"

"Just a little," she admitted.

Gaston eyed her thoughtfully. Never one to pass up an opportunity, he said casually, "Here, let me warm you up." He put his arm around her. After a moment's hesitation, she moved closer to him, grateful for the warmth.

Then he smoothly leaned in to steal a kiss.

But Snow White hastily drew back. "What are you doing?"

Gaston wasn't used to being stopped on his way to a kiss – most girls would be swooning at that point. "Well..." he said awkwardly. "I did rescue you. I thought for a reward, I might get a kiss."

"A kiss?" Snow White gasped, scandalized. "But sir...I barely even KNOW you!" Clearly flustered, she anxiously scooted backward away from him.

Gaston was surprised at her shocked reaction. After all, a kiss from him was every girl's dream come true! But seeing how distressed she was, he backed off. "It's all right! Forget it!" he said, holding up his hands . Snow White gave a sigh of relief. Gaston added by way of explanation, "You just looked so beautiful sitting there, I couldn't resist."

Snow White blushed at the compliment. "Thank you," she said shyly. "And I'm sorry if I gave you the wrong idea - believe me, I am very grateful to you for rescuing me! And..." Her blush deepened to crimson. "You are a very handsome man!" she blurted out, and ducked her head in embarrassment at the admission.

Gaston grinned. She can't resist me. No girl can.

"But a kiss...why, that's the sign of true love between a man and a woman!" Snow White explained earnestly. "A kiss is sacred. It can't be given lightly!"

Gaston was intrigued. She was certainly different from the girls in his village, who threw themselves at him at every opportunity. He could see that she meant what she said – she wasn't being coy or playing hard to get. No. This pure, innocent angel of a girl would bestow her treasured kiss only on the man who earned her love.

At that moment, Gaston became determined that he would be that man, the only man worthy of her kiss.

He was feeling more energized than he had in weeks. A beautiful girl, a challenge, a prize to be won...this was right up his alley.

"I understand," he assured her.

"Thank you," she said, and smiled warmly. "I knew when you rescued me so gallantly that you were a true gentleman!"

Gaston sat up a little straighter. "A true gentleman," he repeated, liking the sound of it. "Yes. Yes, I am."

She asked him where he came from, and why he was riding through the forest when he'd found her. He told her about Molyneaux, and his amazing exploits and adventures, deliberately omitting any mention of Belle...although he DID tell her how he had vanquished a fierce, monstrous Beast the likes of which no one had ever seen. Her eyes grew large as saucers as she hung on his every word. "What an exciting life you have led!" she exclaimed.

Gaston agreed wholeheartedly. "And what about you?" he asked curiously. "How does a princess end up almost being killed in the middle of a forest?"

Snow White looked sad. "It's my stepmother," she explained earnestly. "My mother died when I was a baby. But my father and I were very close. Then when I was eight years old, he remarried. My stepmother treated me well while my father was around, but a year after they married, he died." Her eyes filled with tears at the memory, and her lip trembled. "After that, she changed. She took away my royal clothes, and made me sleep in the cellar and work as a scullery maid."

"That's awful!" Gaston said.

"Oh, I didn't mind the work," Snow White told him. "I like cooking and cleaning!"

Gaston nodded in approval. All girls should like cooking and cleaning, in his view. That's what girls were for.

"It only made me sad that my stepmother didn't like me anymore," she went on. "I didn't know what I did wrong. But...I didn't think she hated me so much that she wanted to kill me!" She began to cry.

Gaston tried to comfort her. "Don't worry. You're safe now. It'll be okay." She looked up at him and smiled through her tears. Her smile warmed his heart. "I think your stepmother must be insane! How could she not like you?" Then he remembered something. "Wait – it's because she's jealous of your beauty. That's what Humbert said." He looked at her appraisingly. "Well, I can't blame her for being jealous. No girl could hold a candle to you, that's for certain!"

"You're very kind," Snow White said, blushing.

The rain had stopped. Gaston moved out of the lean-to, stood up, grabbed the horse blanket and wrung it out.

Snow White crawled out too and stood. "Thank you again so much for saving me. I...suppose you'll be leaving now? You must have important things to do."

"Nothing urgent," Gaston said. "But it is time to move on."

She nodded, looking crestfallen.

"What's wrong?" Gaston asked.

She looked at him despairingly. "I...I just don't know where to go," she admitted helplessly. "I can't go home if my stepmother wants to kill me! And this forest is so big and dark and frightening..." She shivered. "I don't know what to do!"

Her childlike helplessness immediately made Gaston feel protective and manly. "Don't worry about a thing," he said in a take-charge voice. "I'll take you with me back to my village. The Queen will never find you there. And you'll stay with me so I can protect you."

"Really?" Snow White said in relief. "Thank you so much! You're like a knight in shining armor!"

"You could say that," Gaston agreed, basking in her gratitude and praise. He held out his hand. "Here, let me help you onto the horse. We have a long way to ride." Gladly, she came forward, and he boosted her onto the horse, then jumped on behind her. Taking the reins, he spurred the horse through the forest.

Things had certainly taken a turn for the better, he thought. Instead of traveling aimlessly, brooding over his defeat and the loss of Belle, he was now heading home a hero, having bravely saved a princess! And he was returning home with her! He imagined himself riding into town triumphantly, with all the villagers gaping at the sight of the beautiful girl in front of him on his horse like a trophy, and then telling them the story of how he'd rescued her, while she looked up at him adoringly. THAT would certainly make them forget all about Belle and her stupid Beast! Gaston grinned. Things are DEFINITELY looking up, he thought.

The huntsman's warning about the Evil Queen and her black magic never even crossed his mind.