They were married in the cool of the evening upon the beauty's most sacred of sanctuaries.

Summer's eve fell with an unusual grandeur upon the realm of King Maurice. Shafts of fading light slipped through the thick canopy above to beam upon the serene coppice in the midst of the king's woods. The silver rivulet that snaked through the dark forest babbled pleasantly amidst the chirps of birds singing their last hymns of the day and the croak of frogs interwoven with the symphonies of crickets just beginning their bucolic serenades to the nightly hours.

Stunted stalks of grass danced upon the breath of a mild zephyr. Autumn barely hinted along the warm kiss of wind foretelling the steady decline of summer nigh in the coming months.

Half a year had passed since mistress and slave had entered the kingdom of King Maurice on the soggy, late spring morn. Half a year had changed so much betwixt them from a scheming Dark One seeking his owners blood by means of trickery, to a man who wished with all his being to call his former mistress his wife, and a princess who merely wished to keep her people safe and him content to a free woman who would cherish nothing better than to call the master of magic's husband.

Through time and eternal kindness and understanding they grew to love until even fear and denial could not longer veil their emotions in the back of their spirits. Love surpassed all things in their hearts and wrought the goodness and dedication and bravery instilled in their souls.

The wedding was a secluded, private affair bereft of luxury or grandiose ornament befitting a princess. Rumpelstiltskin apologized immensely for the sorry state of their matrimony as they trekked slowly through the cool forest in the small time alone before the ceremony.

Embarrassment and unworthiness surged through him with a fierce sense disappointment. She was a princess after all and perhaps wished for some awe struck spectacle that would be talked about for months to come. Many women dreamed of their marvelous weddings since childhood, and here he was, the Dark One, offering a small affair in the woodland. They were even dressed in their normal attire; he in mulled leather and she in her favorite blue dress, in favor of expensive wedding garments.

Instead of disappointment to dash her merriment, Belle thought no place better of tranquil or memorable to say their vows. A thick veil of verdant trees served as their chapel and the sounds of forest as the fairest minstrels in all the land.

There were to be married as they were; raw and open as they would always be.

Searching the expanse of her mind, Belle truly could not find another spot as lovely and perfect to wed the man she loved. She needed not an expensive, lavish affair. Simply being with him and placing her hand in his for all eternity was the grandest of weddings.

Disappointment that her father would not give her away or offer his approval was the only dark cloud that lurked in her otherwise jubilant heart. And even that seemed to pale as she looked at her love stare down with the same affection that bound her to him.

A graying, slightly hunched cleric the Dark One 'borrowed' from the temple stood before the pair under a green bower of oak leaves. White robes embroidered with intricate patterns of gold garbed his bent figure humbly. His bald, liver spotted head showed with a glassy sheen that would have been comical had the moment not been so important and reverent. Fear flashed in his watery orbs with the look of a man trapped by a ferocious bear with a cliff to his back.

The Dark One had threatened him in no uncertain terms of his task. He would perform the wedding ceremony of the princess and if he refused his intestines would be strung up along the rafters of the temple like morbid garland for the acolytes and devotees to come across the next day.

Terrified for his life, the cleric submitted to the request and was abducted to the tranquil little glade where the beauty awaited with baited anxiousness. She wasn't sure who her love would get, but was delighted to see the aged priest she'd known so long as a young girl.

A glow of happiness radiated from her lovely features to view her love returned with his quarry like a loyal hound and she even hugged the humble cleric and assured him not to be afraid. 'Her Rum' as she called the oddly skinned aberration with affection, would not dare harm a hair on one of her people.

The humble cleric merely nodded in feigned acquiescence for he believed not a word until he was safely back in his temple amidst the scents of smoky incense and the dusty smell of old benches.

Sarah, kind governess and loyal guardian to the former princess now branded an exiled traitor, stood as the only witness. Rumors amongst the people had told, when the cruel Gaston was in power the women had been ill. Now, to the sagely cleric, she looked as though a new life had been granted her. Healthy redness dabbed her dimpled cheeks and her steps had a bounce that had sorely flagged in the years past.

As the last of the odd little band, the servant sat on a moss carpeted log and watched the girl she had raised into a bright woman give her hand in marriage. Tears brooked down her plump cheeks as she stared at the girl she'd raise truly discover her happy ending. Not many were bestowed with their true love and fair chance at a happy life, but if anyone deserved the moment, Belle certainly did.

The wedding was a quaint, simple affair with a traditional ceremony and a few words of their own, as was customary to many couples who wed for love more than gain and expediency. Their rings were plain as any a peasant might have for their wedding day, all save they had been forged with magic.

Dark power shimmered upon the golden gloss of the cold bands and each radiated a love and care they had taken when conjuring their signets of matrimony. A single gold thread was the basis for their bands as though an eternal reminder of their lives entwined with magic amidst their ardor.

With the words spoken and the bands slipped unto one another fingers, the cleric sighed and stared at them warily. A squeak of fear seemed to leap from his throat shrilly as he spoke in a trembling rasp. "I…suppose you both know what happens next. A… kiss to seal the marriage."

Taking a step back, he outstretched his hands in his customary pose when wedding a man and wife.

Bottomless ebony orbs flickering to his love, Rumpelstiltskin smiled softly. "Shall we take the risk, my Belle?"

He would kiss her, if only for a moment to finalize the ceremony if she wished it. How could he be so cold as to abstain a peck on the lips on their wedding day no less, even though it would be no more than a chaste meeting which lasted less that a hearts beat?

True, she had her magic now, but True Love had not changed their situation. Nay, they were only doubled in their affection and love and the longing want to meet their lips but could not.

"Not yet." Belle smiled sadly in reply. "We can't risk that quite yet. I have a feeling this kiss would be more potent than the last"

To ask a kiss of him would have been wrong. He could not risk having their power stripped away, not when they had so many enemies on so many sides.

Stark relief mingled with regret visibly marked the Dark One's gray-gold face. Talons gently brushed the forever rebellious tendril of umber hair from her features lovingly. "How perceptive you are, my Belle. How lovely and kind. My biggest regret will be not being able to kiss you on our wedding day."

"One day." She laughed merrily, her musical tone banishing the faint hint of melancholy tingeing their light filled souls.

"Yes." A tender smile mounted his thin gray lips as he pulled her close as though to press his lips against hers. "One day."

In the land without magic he would be able to lavish her with kisses whenever he pleased for as long as he desired. No curse would impede them then and no bitterness to coat their joy in the strange land without the mystic arts. He could adorn her with every affection love demanded and not have to worry if his curse would shatter and leave them both defenseless in the face of their foes. In the years that would drag by he would have wealth and power and Belle, his Belle and not have to fear another.

Cupping her face in his scaled claws he stared down upon his wife. "But until that day comes we shall have to make different arrangements."

Joy burst like brilliant gouts of merry flames in his heart as he kissed her forehead. Never would such a gesture compare to a true kiss they were denied from sharing, but it was as close as they could come.

Pleased beyond all other measure, the beauty wrapped her arms about her husband's sinewy frame. Warmth raced happily through her veins as she held him close and dictated the eve to memory to call upon in times of ill and in romance as their years grew.

Sitting upon her moss strewn perch, the plump Sarah dabbed her tear filled eyes with a pink handkerchief. Loss shrouded her heart like dark clouds scudding across the sun. In but moments the girl she had raised would be gone and perhaps never to be seen again by her eyes.

Oh but how life had to change. She had reared and known the beauty for long, long years and treasured her like any mother would. Her life was moving on with the man she loved and no selfish woman's heart had a right to stop that, the maid knew dourly.

"Darkness will be nigh soon." Sarah sighed to dam the tears and slipped off her plush green seat to pad over to the pair. Wiping the tears away from her cheeks with the curve of her hand, a sad smile crept upon her cheery face. Arms wrapped around her former charge in a hug. "Both of you had best be going." Stoic will kept her from sobbing as she patted Belle's cheek. "You make sure to tame that man of yours, child. The next time I see him I want him to have some manners."

"Of course, Sarah." Laughed Belle hoarsely to keep her own tears from being shed as she kissed her beloved guardian upon the cheek.

She was dedicated to her people, and would always love her father, but Sarah would be the only one she would miss. To no longer be with her old friend was a bitter sweet moment, she endured with the help of her love.

Thick, purple mist bloomed betwixt the quartet like lilac vines springing from the warm ground. Tendrils of power spiraled about their feet and coiled upwards to enshroud them in arcane power.

Head placed delicately on her husband's chest, his thin arm wrapped about her waist, Belle watched her friend disappear in the haze of lavender and a wave of goodbye. Laughter trickled from her lips as she spied the homely, old cleric try to pat the magic away as though he were on fire. Sarah looked back to scold him roundly for being so afraid and in a moment they were no more.

They would meet again in the future she had assured her guardian, but being away still left a hollow pang in the epicenter of her heart.

As loyal maid and frightened cleric vanished in the spurts of damson hued power, the Dark One looked down at his wife. Love flashed in this sable orbs as the magic shelled about them. "Do you really think you can tame me?" He jested as the magic flowed through his flesh to deign him intangible.

"I will most certainly try." Spectral laughter rang gaily about the forest glade before they too disappeared to a new home and new life. "But who can tell." Her misty smile beamed upon him like a ray of sun spearing through fog. "I might become as uncivilized as the man I wed."

~8~8~

Chill, bitter wind nipped at Belle's exposed flesh as the pair arrived at their destination in a thunderous cloud of amethyst. Snow glistened wondrously like diamonds upon the cold world and blanketed the land about them in a deep sea of alabaster frost.

Misty mountains, capped with snowy tips upon their dizzying apex, rambled in the distance as a line of jagged peaks and perilous crags. The mountains surrounded them upon all sides like bluish, keen blades of knights with their points thrust upwards against the azure firmaments to protect the frozen dale in the center.

Any who dared seek to pass the treacherous fangs save through a singular, snaking path known to but a few, would be hard pressed to scale such dizzying heights and brave the dangers and legendary beasts of the mountains. Yet as awe inspiring and grand as the lovely pearly blue mountains and the banks of unblemished snow being swirled by the whirling wind amazed her, his home, their home took her breath away.

Gray spires, frosted with crisp snow, pierced the cloudless lapis sky. Pennants of emerald green and intricately embroidered with burnished gold with a roaring dragon rampant fluttered in the cool gnashing wind. The Dark Castle was certainly grandiose if not with an aura of foreboding.

Ashen stone walls stood out against the blinding white that lined every precipice like smooth icing on a cake. An ominous air seemed to radiate from the dark windows and the doors to the keep which stood as a closed maw, but to Belle the place already felt like home, not of some strange abode to be feared. The stronghold seemed as though she had merely been away for long years, not a new home sequestered away from the rest of the world.

Perhaps, she considered thoughtfully as they forged through the drifts of snow, given her love had lived their so long or that it would be shared by them alone coaxed a fondness for the citadel in her soul.

"You must forgive me, Belle." The Dark One fumbled endearingly over his words. A scaled hand rubbed the back of his neck bashfully as he focused on the snow. "I had forgotten. We are half way across the word. It is winter here, where it was waning summer in your home."

Snow crunched beneath their light shoes and seeped into the hems and edges of their clothes. Had they been stranded, the matter of warmth and proper clothing would have been immediate in the beauties mind, but with their home looming before them she could already feel the crackling fires in the stone hearths and his body pressed against hers to rectify any traces of chill the snow wrought.

Milky, opaque vapors stole from her mouth as she laughed softly. "It's wonderful, Rum. I've never seen so much snow. Back in my land even the winters are not terrible."

"Yes well, until you learn spells for warmth you'll freeze out here." He proffered his hand to the entrance of the citadel nestled in the middle of nowhere. Bowing deeply, he smiled with a comforting warmth that banished the gnashing cold from Belle's flesh better than any fur cloak could. "Shall we, my wife?"

With a giggle, Belle slipped her arm into her husbands. The pair walked regally, sharing warmth as they entered the Dark Castle.

The thick, iron banded doors groaned in protests upon their hinges as the fiend shoved them open with a Herculean strength to display the vestibule of his manor. Snow scuffed in behind them as the wind swept through the uninhabited domicile.

A thick mustiness wafted heavily upon the cold air telling of months, nay, years without a thorough cleaning. Dirt and filth marred the stone floors and the trinkets strewn about his ancient home. Darkness blotted the rooms with an impenetrable blackness which seemed almost a physical entity to the somber palace that lurked the hall as wolves preyed in the forest.

Rumpelstiltskin coughed into his fist nervously. "I know it needs a good cleaning, and lonely for such a big place but I hope you would learn to be happy here."

How he wished she could at least tolerate his abode though the castle was dreadfully lonely and bereft of life. Where servants should have trod remained intrepid rats, and where nobles would have rested their heads and entertained themselves was barren or filled with gold. Of course he would try his hardest to make her happy, but the castle did belong to a monster.

"I already love it." She pecked a kiss on his cheek, her words thrilling with elation in her knew dwelling. "It needs a bit of a woman's touch and perhaps to let down a few curtains and then it will truly be perfect."

"A woman's touch?" Chewing the words thoughtfully, he rumbled a small laugh in his throat. "I've been a bachelor for centuries, but I think I could adjust to that. Perhaps even come to enjoy your splashes of femininity in the keep of a beast."

On a whim, he wrapped his arm about her waist and spun her about the colonnaded hall. "I can see it now; a bouquet of roses next to a pile of skulls, carpets in the dungeons, and cooking dinner alongside a dreadfully toxic potion all the while wondering which is the powdered Giantswort and which is the salt."

"Giving it some thought already I see." Parried Belle with a laugh as he gently landed her to her feet again.

His hand wrapping bout hers he nudged his head down a chillingly black corridor. Flicking his free hand, torches that laid dormant in the sconces flared to life. Light blazed grandly down the long hall revealing sets of dingy steel armors lining the walls and tapestries he'd collected in his years.

Motioned a wiry talon down the corridor a faint smile drew upon his lips. "Come, we've much more to see. I must show you where my apothecary sits and the rest of the Dark Castle."

The apothecary was where she would learn the art of mixing potions and elixirs and practice most of her magic. There she would grow to be one of the most deadly sorceress' in their world.

Belle shook her head slightly and tugged at his hand. Mischief donned her lovely face with a look that made the Dark One's heart leap. Fingers plucking at his leather vest she flicked her eyes innocently up to her half smiling husband. "I think the tour can wait. I truly want to see one room - our bed room."

~8~ Two years later ~8~8~

Thick mist wafted knee high upon treacherously moist forest land. Nocturnal beast skittered under the dense underbrush in search of prey and the denizens of the darkest hours sat perched in their trees or in the blackest of shadows awaiting to strike. Golden eyes of sagely owls peered like moons through the canopy above, their eerie hoots echoing through chilling darkness.

Sounds of the night seemed to leap out as physical manifestations. Each passing moment wrought forth a new terror. The gnarled branches and oddly shaped boles upon trees appeared akin to gleefully cavorting demons in the dead hours where all who were good and just should have been snug in their berths.

"I don't like this, Robin." A mountain of a man remarked to his smaller companion by his side anxiously. His dark, disapproving frown was adumbrated behind a thick reddish beard that hung like willow moss to his chest.

The smaller, but agile fellow uttered a mirthless, nervous laugh to his companion. A mottled green and brown cowl hung lowly over his head keeping his features hidden. Fingers warily tapped the hilt of the dirk tucked into his leather belt. Slapping the hulking man on the back jovially, he attempted to sound carefree. "Worry not, Little John, I heard this beast of yore is inclined to clandestine meetings such as this. You don't deem to think it would meet us in a filled town square where all could hear of our deal or gape, do you?"

"Indeed not." Another slightly amused female voice agreed through the dark, verdant forest.

Alarmed both men unsheathed their blades at but a moments notice. The short sword in the large man's bear-like grip looked akin to a dagger, but his large, brown eyes brimmed with a fierce protectiveness and rage.

With more finesse, the slimmer man brandished his blade expertly in his grip. Twirling the steel he could not help but display his comfortable prowess. Gray eyes peered out from under the cowl intently into the darkness as he kept light on his toes.

The spry female voice giggled. "Behind you, gentleman. Or rather above."

Both whirled about, their cloaks rustling in the mist. Owls chocked back their mournful hoots and even the crickets had ceased their chirped symphonies with the sensation of magic crackling through the air.

Belle sat easily upon a half fallen elm tree caught upon one of its kin. The half felled tree made a perfect perch for an unwanted guest to pry down upon the meeting place of the two men pacing below.

Crossed legs dangled above them vapidly, her cunning smile seemed to blaze down upon them as though in mocking. Bright red leather attired her lovely slender form as though another skin. Thick chestnut hair cascaded down her shoulders freely and glinted in the slivers of moon that peeped from the bower of leaves.

"Who are you?" Roared the hulking fellow furiously, his yellow teeth bared like fangs. The large veins upon his hand popped from his skin as he brandished his blade upwards towards the easily smiling woman.

The hooded figure placed a hand on his companion's boulder-like shoulder. "Calm yourself friend. She's an unarmed maiden, if not an expert at scaling trees." Turning his head toward the female he dipped a curt bow. "Forgive my companions ferocity, but you must admit this is an ominous grove we find ourselves. Who might you be, my lady?"

"A person who can make what you wish come true." The beauty admitted freely, a note of mystery in her pleasing tone.

Little John grimaced dubious. Eyes narrowed he growled at the lackadaisical woman. "Surely you cannot be the infamous Dark One. Legend told he was a monstrous beast not some beautiful maiden who sits in trees and prowls where she had no business."

"Don't believe everything you hear." She chided pleasantly.

Pride stung, the hulking bear of a man growled angrily. "We come to seek a beast, not a beauty. I don't believe it!'

"John I believe she is telling the truth." The cloaked figure interjected hastily to the temperamental ally. "As she claimed she is only a person to aid us not the only person to help in our quest for justice."

Impression flashed in her pale blue eyes like sparks of fire. "A clever one you are, sir Robin of Locksley." Easing down from her perilous heights she landed lightly on her feet like a veteran cat. "You are correct. I am but one of two Dark One's. My husband is currently…indisposed."

The bear of a man's disapproving grimace twisted into disgust. "Husband? What heavy price did you pay for a deal, my lady?"

"Indisposed? How?" The hooded figure echoed curiously while trying to ignore his companion. One displeasing word could have them leaving with empty hands or worse.

Belle gestured unconcernedly towards the pair with a flick of her hand. Hiding her nervousness she kept her pretense of ease. "It is of no consequence. All that matters is what you want and what can you give me."

"Fair enough." Robin nodded, relieved she was not offended by John brusque manner. Unveiling himself, he smiled roguishly at the female. His dark beard was neatly trimmed and his hair was thick and shaggy. Smiles readily seemed to dot his face, and his light gray eyes glistened with barely suppressed mischief.

Coughing once, he continued. "Years ago I bargained for a potion that made me the most skilled archer in all the realms. No one could best my skill and I used my gift to help alleviate the tyranny of my people."

Belle huffed a slight laugh though seemed not impressed. "A noble enough cause."

Robin nodded dourly. "It was, and can be again. Some weeks ago I found my power to be waning. For some reason the potion has begun to wear off. I am missing shots and my bowman ship is lacking. I need something to help my skill."

"Another potion or a permanent solution." Belle concluded, her tone bored as though she dealt with such situations every day. "And what will you give me in return?" She queried as she slowly encircled the pair.

Little John stammered fitfully. "The knowledge you help and ailing realm, lady."

"Not good enough." Her insouciant tones were happy but clipped to cut the hulking man off before he worked himself into a fine, righteous rage.

"We have gold." The smaller fellow piped up. Coins bulged from a dark leather bag tied to his belt.

Belle scoffed lowly. "Gold is nothing to me, Robin of Locksley. My husband makes gold by the spool. No, I want something dear to you. Something you would recognize on the spot." Cunning flashed in her eyes as her gaze trailed his lean, muscular body. "You know of what I speak."

For a moment the handsome man was silent as the world about them. Deep pondering glinted in his eyes before he nodded succinctly. "Done."

"Robin." The large man whispered warily, his tone heavy with confusion. "What does she want?"

Wordlessly the archer shifted his thick cloak. A polished rowan bow lay strung beneath the shroud. The weapon was tipped with points of gold and the string was waxed with the most expensive of tallow.

"I can get a bow anywhere." He sullenly held out the weapon. "But if this will give me my power back then so be it."

Little John butted in in bristling outrage. Astonishment lined his face scarred, battle worn face. "How can you do this, Robin? Miriam gave you that bow! You nearly died trying to procure it back from the prince not two days ago!"

"Which is why it's valuable." Belle chirped happily. Grabbing the weapon she flitted her fingers through the air as though she were some child.

Crimson mist like long, winding snakes vapidly flowed from her fingertips and seeped into the archer. His eyes rolled into the back of his head as the magic worked upon his mind and fingers. Power flowed through his form to allow him the prowess of bow and arrow once more.

Laughter bubbled from her lips as she hefted the bow. "The deal is struck." Turning she paused for a moment. Not bothering to look back she added causally. "A word of advice. This power will not avail you much in the long run. If you must borrow power then that is not power at all." With that she disappeared in the folds of the ominous forest.

Once far away, Belle allowed her masks of cold carelessness to drop. Held breath burst from her lips as she leaned against a tree. It was always a fight to hold back her nature and not simply help a person free of charge or not show concern. Oh but appearance had to be kept and reputations to uphold.

She had done deals before in her loves stead, but none as important as this. Robin Hood's famed bow, a key point in his plots. Looking down upon the bow, Belle rubbed her hands along the polished wood thoughtfully. What would he do with such a strange weapon?

Abruptly hands wrapped about her waist severing her thought in a blink of an eyes. A gasp nearly erupted from her lips as scaled hand laid over her mouth.

"You were perfect." Rumpelstiltskin commended happily. Pleasure glowed in his sable depths as smiled down upon her "One would have thought you'd been doing this for veritable ages."

Letting his hand fall away, the beauty could not help but feel a grin steal upon her lips. "I though you had a meeting with Regina?"

"I did." He let her wriggle free from his arms through she did not move far. "The deed is done. Soon this world will be not even a memory."

Displeasure fringed Belle's lips at his hard words. Of course she swore to him two long years ago not to interfere with his plans, but to say she approved would have been a lie. Back when she had only been a princess trying to fight for her people's lives and be with her love, she had nary given a thought to his machinations she swore not to attempt to quell. Never had she thought his plot would be to transport all of them to a land without magic!

For the last years he had been perfecting his plot to find his son and be rid of his curse at the expense of their world. Still, even with his scheme known and the many arguments they had shared over his plans, she loved him though he was led my misguided redemption.

Banishing the unpleasant thought away she held out the bow. "What will this help?"

"He will play a key role when the curse is broken." He explained. Fluttering his scaled hand through the air, the bow vanished in a veil of purple mist. "Prince John and Regina have been conspiring for long years. By the time he finds out who kidnapped his fair maid the curse will have struck. And when the curse breaks…."

"He'll seek to find Regina for revenge." Belle sighed. She could not honesty say she understood his plots, but they all made sense in the long run.

Seeing her melancholy and disapproval he kissed her upon her cheek. "It will be alright, I promise."

Abruptly smile lifted upon his lips. Cocking his head to the side he peered into his wife's eyes lovingly. "It's our anniversary." He announced simply.

"I was wondering when you'd bring it up." Belle managed a smile as she forced the thoughts of abduction out of her mind. She could not change what was to come to pass. All was ready and they had nothing to do save wait. To interfere now would be akin to trying to stop a rampaging dragon with a dinner fork.

"There is somewhere special I wish to take you before all of this ends." The Dark One claimed. Mischief donned his face as he beckoned magic to his call. "It's a surprise. Close your eyes, my Belle."

Obedient, Belle shut her eyes. A brow perched in curiosity, but she remained still with her magic's drawn as to not spoil his surprise. If she had truly been curious a pulse of her own magic mingled with his would have told her all.

Warmth radiated upon her face as the magic delivered them to his destination. Wood crackled in some hearth and the world smelled of fresh rain and the remnants of a harsh summer storm.

"Open." He murmured lowly in her ear.

A gasp fell from Belle's mouth as she stared upon a quaint stone room. It had been exactly as she had left it when they left for the palace. Her home away from home of the stone cottage.

"If this be our last night in our world, I wish to end where we began." Rumpelstiltskin explained softly. His hands guided her gently to the soft bed nestled under a square window.

Belle could not contain a gentle moan as he nipped her neck with small bites and kisses. A dreamy smile came unbidden to her face as he laid her down upon the bed. "I remember the day well. You were angry and I was frightened to see you kneeling upon the floor in the kitchen."

"You were so polite and nervous towards me." He picked up the tale in-between hot kisses. "I though you would be a cruel mistress and yet you were far from vile."

She laughed softly, her timbre drifting like a song about the room. "You seemed so surprised I was not commanding you about. In that moment you were taken off guard I saw more than a legend, but a man behind the tales. That was when I knew I loved you, Rum."

In the distant an unholy peal of thunder rumbled perniciously. Sordid purple clouds gathered in the distant like the billowing cloak of death. Silver lighting cracked in their folds as the power barreled down upon the unsuspecting world. Stars extinguished in the sky and even the palled disk of the moon dimmed and then blotted out past the curdling vapors of darkness.

Magic filled the air like fumes from a rampaging fire and yet neither gave heed.

A groan fell past his lips as she kiss his jaw. His voice was hoarse as her lips found his throat. "When you let me sleep in the other room. The first thing I did was open my shirt. Your name was engraved over my heart and I knew…I knew I loved you then. I knew when I first uttered your name I loved you."

Passion rose and surged within them in the last moments of their lives as Dark One's. Each recalled the wondrous, special memories they had forged in laughter and smiles and anger and the bond that entwined their lives and fate. A love joined them and a dagger had been the needle that bound them as one flesh.

Looking deep into her cerulean eyes, the Dark One smiled tenderly to his love. Wind howled ferociously about them and the trees creaked with strain from the heavy press of magic, but neither noticed.

For a precious instance neither spoke. In moments no more would the cottage be the place they had known. Lives would be altered perhaps past recognition and for 28 long years they would live stuck in a loop if they even survived at all.

Stroking her porcelain cheek tenderly, the Dark One memorized her face for the last time. Forever would the last image of her in their , caught in the resonating throes of pleasure be a portrait in his mind.

Belle stared deep into his onyx depths. Love, pure and sweet glimmered in her azure orbs. There was no better moment than to be with him when their world came crumbling down.

"I love you." Both proclaimed in gentle, simultaneous whispers of ultimate affection before the roiling clouds of purple mist engulfed them.

~8~8~

A/N: I hope you all enjoyed this tale. I had so much fun writing this and I sincerely hope you all liked reading. There might (and I use that with the utmost reservation) be a sequel, but I'm not certain about anything. Anyway, just thanks so much of all the support for all the reading and reviewing and favorites and alerts. You are all awesome! :3