I am losing her. In front of my very eyes, I am losing her. Her tears weaken my very soul. Her apologies shake my very being. There could only be one thing she would be too tormented about: she was going to leave me. Or worse, she would stay knowing she could never love me. I wished I could return to the past. I wished I could return to my dreams. There she was still mine. There she was happy and content with only me. She was not ill and she would look at me longingly. She loved me in my dreams… She would not stop telling me, and I would believe every word.

I knew I had to be strong; it was the only way I might survive this fatal blow. But I also knew that it would have been a lie if I claimed that her distress did not break me. Everything about our situation broke my heart. If only I could force her to love me, I would, but I knew very well that I could not. And it hurts me more to forever bear the knowledge that my beloved wife loved another man. I knew I would free her from me if that would make her happy, but could I now when I loved her so? Perhaps I need not write the ship captain of a withdrawal after all… I absentmindedly thought, and I could not help but smile bitterly. All has ended in only three weeks. This should be the punishment for forcing her to marry me.

I looked down on Jane once more. Her appearance has calmed and her breathing had returned to normal. I sighed. I wished I could have had more days with my Jane. If only Rochester had come a week later, we would have been off to India and we would have been happy. Nothing would have changed between us, I thought as I kissed her soft hair gently, wishing I could keep doing so for all my life, knowing I probably could not. If only Rochester had not come… I was almost certain then that she would fall in love with me as well, but now I have begun to doubt whether she ever almost did.

I was surprised to find her looking up at me then, her brown eyes instantly brimming with tears once more. I wanted to take her away right then and there; anywhere I could keep her away from Rochester's grasp. I could not lose her, no. And I doubted if I had enough strength to walk away from her either. She has brought me back to life, my Jane… I thought as I softly returned her gaze.

Her soft lips moved as if to speak, but I could no longer bear to hear her apologies. They only made my heart heavy as stones. And I knew that if she would still have me, I might be able to convince her to stay with me and honor her vows… I gently caressed the tip of her chin, tilting her face to level with mine while I gauged whether she now detested the gesture. There was no indication.

Ah, the kiss felt more than welcome when it happened. I imagined she wished the hesitant contact to last as she responded with the same blinded passion I had for her. She had inched ever closer to me, or I had to her; I could not tell. I was grasping onto her waist, and she was pulling me closer by the back of my neck. I was breathless; we both were. But we could not stop. I could not. I was suddenly confused, and yet I did not wish to stop even for a second. I was burning in the middle of a cold bedroom in this cold dewy morning and I was nothing but grateful. When did Jane's passion burn so differently from love? I thought, and I had to pull away. I had always supposed they were almost one and the same, and that was my blunder.

Her eyes seemed to blur with inquiry. Her eyelids had been heavy with desire. But could I take her despite knowing she did not love me? Shall I remain deceiving myself that she might still reciprocate when I knew full well it was next to impossible whilst Rochester lived? Shall I hurt myself more? Ah, I knew I would for Jane. But how long could I expect my young wife to put up with me?

"St. John…" she murmured and I could only close my eyes, imagining her voice filled with unconditional love. "It might be several days too late, but… I do love you, too…"

I opened my eyes, half-expecting that I only imagined everything; that I had dreamed this moment out of sheer desperation. But she was right across me, staring me down with her soft hooded gaze, waiting for me to respond. My voice left me in stunned silence, but my heart was in exultation. I had a hundred and one queries, but at this moment, knowing that she loved me was well enough.

"Oh Jane…" I whispered before I claimed her lips once more, and it was as if the kiss had never been broken. I pulled her small figure ever nearer towards mine, making sure she knew how much I loved her, wanted her. She drew a small gasp, fueling my passion even more, as I nibbled on the softness of her jaw and her neck. My fingers fumbled with her nightdress, stroking her suppleness over and underneath the cloth, whilst her hands hastily undid the buttons on my shirt, her illness all forgotten…

A/N: Awful sorry for this late one. Shortest chapter yet, but I had to stop or my story rating would have to go mature. LOL. I hope I tickled someone's imagination with this one. *eherm*