A/N: This is an idea that I've been struggling with for awhile, but I think I'm finally ready to start writing it. Yes, it's unlikely that someone from the Upper East Side had a lakehouse- but just go with it. Canon until 5x24- Dan and Blair were still planning on going to Rome, and he said "I love you" without her saying it back. There is no diary entry leaked and no Chair reunion- if only. I would say this story takes place two years after they left for Rome. Flashbacks will center around Dan and Blair and show some of the moments leading up to where they are now. I should also add that this story exaggerates Chuck and Serena's worst features so I apologize for that, only for dramatic effect.

*Very VERY loosely based on 'Morning Song' and 'Dead Sea' by the Lumineers. Any lyrics will be from either of those.

Dan and Serena arrive first and he curses himself for always being so damn punctual, because the awkward, sobering silence settles around them as they begin to unpack. Her ring catches the sunlight and it sends a pretty pattern of lights against the dark wall.

"This was a bad idea," he says it out loud, but it's meant for himself.

"It'll be good to see everyone, catch up with Blair, and Nate."

He silently wonders why she neglected to include Chuck.

Dan has no desire to catch up with Blair, not even the desire to see her. Even the thought makes his stomach turn with anxiety.

"This weekend will be good for us," Serena smiles warmly and touches his arm, "I really want it to be different this time."

A small smile forms on his lips, nodding gently.

In moments like these, he sees the old Serena. He imagines his high school days, making promises that they knew they couldn't keep, but so badly wanted to.

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I headed West, I was a man on the move. New York had lied to me, I needed the truth.

I need somebody- I needed someone I could trust. I don't gamble, but if I did I would bet on us

"How long have you two been in Rome?" Harold hands him a glass of red wine and Dan takes a tentative sip.

"It'll be a year in June."

Blair and Roman are hurrying around the house discussing new renovation ideas. Dan had only met Blair's father one other time, when they first moved to Europe. Unlike Eleanor, Harold seemed to appreciate the affection Dan had for his daughter. He didn't see him as a poor writer from Brooklyn, but rather as the young man who was in love with his cherished Blair.

"And how are you liking Italy?"

"I took Italian in high school so I can navigate us around pretty well. It's only gotten better since we arrived. I know Blair feels like she's at a disadvantage knowing French," he can tell he's rambling, "but she's learning the important phrases."

There's a bit of silence and drinking for awhile before Harold asks,

"And have we thought at all about marriage?"

Dan snorts and his wine sputters out a bit, at least giving him time to think of a response.

"Well- well, I mean, I have. I have a few times, but I don't think Blair is ready so I've been trying not to push her," he takes another gulp of wine and deep breath, "she's still, you know, figuring things out with herself and I don't want to get in the way of that."

"Don't you see, Daniel?" Harold gestures enthusiastically, "You are part of that! I haven't seen Blair this happy since she was a sophomore in high school and Nate told her she was starting to look unhealthily skinny."

Dan stares down at his hands and smiles, closing his eyes.

Everything she'd been through the past couple years, he had been there. He had been her source of comfort and solace and he did it without the expectation of her ever wanting him back.

Until she did.

He can still remember the sensation of her lips against his as she softly moaned, "Dan," over and over again. That's when he knew she had a permanent hold on his heart. No matter what she did, he would never move on from Blair Waldorf.

"I just don't think she's ready," he says quietly and Blair comes rushing into the living room.

"Daddy, stop bothering him. We need to talk about that awful mauve color you chose for your upstairs bathroom."

"I told him it was no good," Roman shakes his head and takes a seat next to Harold.

Rome had proven to be a good relationship decision for them. Dan spent the days writing on the hotel balcony or down by the water, and Blair got an internship at a small Italian fashion magazine. Their nights involved bottles of red wine, delicious Italian food, and sex, well, wherever they could get away with it.

Even after the summer ended, Dan couldn't pass up the opportunity to extend the program into next year, and Blair had no objections.

Their relationship was easier away from New York.

Away from Chuck, Serena, anyone else who would get in the way.

He thinks of Serena once in awhile, but not in a romantic way. He thinks of her the same way he used to think of his dog Fitz who died when he was five.

He doesn't ask Blair if she thinks about Chuck.

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Blair's head rests against the window as she watches the landscape pass her by. The city is always bustling with cars and people, it's hard to believe there are empty fields of only a few trees within a hundred miles of her house.

"I hope this won't be too hard for you," Chuck's voice rasps, interrupting her thoughts.

"We've been over for almost a year. I'll be fine."

Chuck smiles and grabs her hand,

"I just wanted to make sure you're done with your little social experiment."

Blair's stomach drops at the statement. The fact that Chuck can brush off her relationship with Dan as a social experiment crushes her.

"It wasn't a social experiment. We were together longer than you and I had ever been together," her voice is quiet as she keeps her eyes locked on the seat in front of her.

"Blair," he laughs, the laugh that tells her she's grown to detest, "We never end. Don't you see that? We never stopped being together."

"Yes we did," she mutters quietly.

He doesn't acknowledge it.

As they pull up to the huge lake house, Blair takes a deep breath when she sees Serena walking out to her town car to grab another suitcase.

I want you out of my life. For good.

Chuck walks around to open Blair's door and she steps out carefully. The air is cool and crisp and it causes her to shiver, wrapping her arms around herself gently. When Serena sees her, she drops the bag and runs over,

"B! I'm so glad you decided to come," Her arms fling around Blair's shoulders and she can't resist hugging her back. She's needed her best friend for awhile.

"The past is the past, right?"

"I'm so glad you said that," Serena pulls back and Blair notices the ring adorned hand resting on her arm. She looks at it more closely.

No.

"You're engaged?"

The grin on Serena's face is huge, one that she only uses when talking about a certain person they've both spent years with.

"I would've told you earlier, but I didn't know if you still hated me. I guess I thought the fact that you showed up here was a good sign that you didn't."

"I don't," Blair says quietly, but her eyes are still locked on the ring. There's something so familiar about it, the way the square diamond gleams, the tiny opals surrounding it.

No.

"Well, Dan proposed!"

No.

"Wow," she breathes, "When did you two even-" she's cut off by the sight of him walking out the front door.

"How does it take this long to get one suit-"

He freezes in place and blinks a few times, as if to disbelieve she's really there.

He never finishes the sentence.

Dan brushes past her to grab the suitcase and rolls his eyes slightly as he walks back inside.

Blair's heart pounds against her rib cage. She suddenly feels very hot, despite the cool air around her. The ring, the look on his face, the roll of his eyes, it's all too much for her. The worst part is, the very worst part, is that all she wants is to be close to him.

"Will you excuse me? I'm feeling a bit carsick. Our driver took a few too many sharp turns getting here."

Before Serena can answer, Blair's in the house searching for a bathroom. When she finds it, she collapses on the floor in a heap. Her stomach lurches and her chest heaves, forcing out the toast and blueberries she had for breakfast.

Then he knocks at the door.

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You told me I was like the dead sea, nicest words you ever said to me

They spend a night in London, drinking old scotch until their bodies feel fuzzy and clambering their way to the nearest hotel. When they finally get into a room, Blair pulls him to the bed with more force than he knew she was capable of .

His body settles over her as she undresses him slowly, torturously, piece by piece.

When he thrusts into her, she lets out a soft gasp and says the most beautiful words Dan thinks he's ever heard.

"I could spend the rest of my life like this."

His breath hitches as he thrusts into her again and he leans down to bury his face in her hair.

"So why don't you?" he kisses her jaw softly, "Why don't we?"

Blair moans, feeling his thumb against her clit, "What?"

"I think I want to-" Dan breathes, her legs hooking around his waist, he groans as he moves deeper inside her, "I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

Her eyes are hazy as she grips the sheets tightly, letting out short gasps. Her back arches and her hips meet his while waves of heat travel through her body.

Finally, as she pants and catches her breath, she gives him a definitive,

"No."