This was my entry to the Lyrics to Life Contest. I had so much fun writing this fairytale-ish fic. I don't know what corner of my mind it came from, but here it is. Harrytwifan betaed it for me… thank you dearest!

Contest entry for Lyrics to Life Contest

Title: Counting Stars

Name: Soulmate Ficwriter

Pairing: Edward/Jasper

Rating: M

Word Count: 4531

Beta: harritwifan

Song: Counting Stars, One Republic, watch?v=9BMnXXrvcyA

Disclaimer: The author does not own any publicly recognizable entitles herein. No copyright infringement is intended. This is for mature, slash loving audiences only.

Summary: Edward dreams of a different life in which he is free to love Jasper in the light of day. What is he willing to risk to make his dreams come true?


Epov

Once Upon a time in a far away land...

I find my mother in the library, in her safe haven, surrounded by the books she has grown to adore more than anything or anyone. She seems as tiny as a needle in a haystack in this enormous room, all four walls lined ceiling to floor with fiction and non-fiction, periodicals and maps. I have never particularly liked it in here, with its musty stench and constant dampness. The fireplace does little to ward off the chill in the air.

She addresses me without looking up from her book, as usual.

"Edward, how do I find thee today?"

Exhausted from the endless charade and avoiding her inquiry, I slump into the red velvet lounge adjacent the matching ottoman mother so delicately perches upon. Her fiery auburn locks match mine in color and color alone. Though relatively short, my wisps refuse to obey, standing in disarray in every direction imaginable. Mother's long mane is neatly piled atop her crown, each cascading curl in its perfect place. In her favorite hue of baby blue, her formal dress is made of the finest silk, though most uncomfortable to be sure; even more so than my fitted suit coat and trousers, I presume.

The weight of my worries is suffocating; I find it difficult to hide my inner turmoil, though I have been raised to do just that.

"Edward… you look absolutely dreadful. Are you ill?" Mother questions, having glanced at me momentarily, her eyes already glued to her book once more.

Answering honestly for a change, my voice betrays the anguished emotions of which I attempt to contain. "I am terribly ill at heart, if you must know. Beside myself with grief…"

"Oh, Edward, stop being so dramatic," she quietly interrupts.

Such is Queen Esme's way. Her delicate voice drowns out all but one – the king alone, the only royal or commoner unaffected by her calm commanding demeanor. "I pray this has nothing to do with your male companion. What is his name again? Jasper, is it?"

Exasperated, I abruptly stand from my resting place and take to pacing the large room.

Must we have this conversation, again?

Mother patiently awaits for my tantrum to subside. She is patient, if nothing else.

The agitation boiling in my blood gradually recedes to a manageable level, until I find I am able to stand before the Queen, to answer her absurd question. "Yes, Mother. His name is Jasper. He has been my companion for these past six years. Why do you insist on pretending to know not his name?"

"Tut, tut… my son. Take not that tone with me. I choose to forget his name because he is unworthy of one second of my time. I wish not to waste one ounce of my energy recollecting a lowly pauper's name, or discussing his inferior place in my son's life. Honestly, I would be relieved to never hear his name spoken within these walls, again."

"That is father talking, and you know it. Not the mother I once knew." As soon as the resentful words leave my mouth, I regret them.

With no strength left to stand under the assault of her disapproving glare, I sink to my knees in resignation. Willing my mouth to be silent, I attempt not to speak the words, the pointless words that will not make a difference. The kingdom means more to her than I – she's proven as much time and time again, yet I dare dream she will hear my plea and grant me my only happiness. If she would stand up on my behalf, possibly my father would listen. They were loving parents once, before the responsibilities of being monarchs tainted their blood. Deep down inside, they must want for their son's happiness, mustn't they?

"Why can you not be more like Peter? If only he had been born first…" She verbalizes what I know to often be on her mind. I ignore the pain shooting through to my core at her bluntness.

Looking to the floor, the words I should not speak aloud tumble from my tongue. "I love him, Mother. I wish not to refuse my heart's desire another second of another minute of another day..."

"Even if what you say is true, it matters not. You are destined to be King, and wouldn't be the first to care more for his male companion than his wife. Forget not... you must only receive his company under the darkness of night, behind the locked doors of your bedchamber. Are we perfectly clear?"

Looking up from my place at her feet, I witness fleeting love and concern swirling amongst the superiority and indifference she expertly wears. I simply nod, unable to form words as my heart breaks within the constricting walls of my chest.

She continues, her voice slightly kinder in tone. "I have warned you against keeping just one particular companion, time and time again. I have counselled you to keep a woman companion also, multiple if possible. However, you are young. There is plenty of time for that. Your entire life is before you, and as King, anyone you desire will be at your disposal."

I cringe at her words, lacking the desire to treat my subjects as disposable. The thought, in fact, is offending. Nor am I need of another companion besides my Jasper, male or female. Not a one. Just him.

"You have not yet lay with a woman, have you?" she half chides, half questions.

I barely shake my head, yet my voice sings with conviction. "No, Mother. I am quite satisfied with my male companion, my one companion. I have never felt inclined to lie with the opposite gender."

"Yes, well… it is neither here nor there. You will marry Princess Bella in a fortnight. You will become King and fill your Queen with child. However many times it takes until she bears you a son, this family, an heir. This is how it has been for too many centuries to count. This is how it will continue to be. One can only hope your eldest son appreciates his birth right more than you ever have."

I whisper my compliance, the words bitter on my tongue. "Yes, Mother."

Standing, I bow to the Queen, before making a hasty exit.

Safely locked within the protective walls of my private quarters, I breathe a sigh of relief. Here I can be myself. Here, I am free to be me, if only for a few dark hours. Yet, my nights of freedom are limited. Thoughts of sharing them with her cause tears to gather in the corners of my emerald eyes.

Princess Bella is nice, everything that a princess and future Queen should be, and beautiful, to be sure; yet I feel no connection to her, no chemistry. I cannot imagine touching her in any way, let alone in a way which might fill her with child. How many nights will I be parted from my love, my heart – when I am married and must also share the moonlight with my wife? How will I survive not breathing in his essence every night, not taking pleasure from his body, that which sustains me through the lonely days?

The setting sun shines through my window, hope blooming as it begins its descent. The fresh summer breeze calms my nerves. I gaze over the courtyard, the walls beyond, the town below… the kingdom I would give anything to not one day rule. For with the kingdom comes responsibilities. Responsibilities of which include living a half-life.

Under the blanket of darkness the night provides, within the walls of this room, I can love him. In the light of day, I must not.

The last sliver of the sun disappears behind the distant treetops where the endless forest begins. The beat of my heart quickens, and my body responds by hardening in preparation for my lover. For I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that once the last light disappears from the western sky, he will return to me.

I stand motionless, watching the sky blissfully devoid of all light, at last. The stars break through, and I am taken back to a simpler time. A time of young lovers, meeting in the meadow under the stars, lying together in every sense of the word. Counting stars while catching our breaths, awaiting our hearts return to slower rhythms, the sweat from our endeavors cooling on overheated skin. There is nothing I would not give to return to simpler days of my youth, when adult duties yet did not bind me to this castle, locking my love for a boy behind solid oak, deep within stone walls.

His knock is my salvation, pulling me from such sweet memories that torture me so.

Unconsciously, I hold my breath until I have let him in, until he is safe, taking form before my eyes. I hastily lock the door, then turn to him so I might breathe again. His blue-grey stare greets me, mirroring the intensity of my own. We stand, mere inches between us, yet neither of us makes the move we both so desperately depend upon.

His beauty mesmerizes me. Every moment I am blessed to gaze upon this gorgeous creature, in awe I am that I somehow am deemed worthy to spend any time in his presence. His lean, muscular body and the manner in which his blond hair curls around beautiful, though masculine features, are the least of the things I love about this man. The heart that beats within his flesh, steady and true… loyal through and through, is what binds me to him so.

"Sire…" he whispers with ragged breath, ruby lips quivering.

I reach out to cup his face, his skin burning mine once more, branding me his for all eternity.

"I have told you, my love… speak not my formal name behind this door… within these walls… within our sanctuary."

"Sire… you are my lord. You have and always will be. And a generous lord to grant me such kindness, to show me your love, to share royal flesh with mine unworthy. Nevertheless, I am your servant. I have been since first I saw your face in the courtyard when I became lost that day, wandering onto your royal grounds. I was yours from that moment on. I will be till death takes me, and in the after-life beyond, forever more, your loyal companion."

I shake my head against his truths. "I only feel right doing what I am told is wrong. In turn, I feel wrong, acting as I am told is right. I refuse to view you as my servant, as inferior. Please, Jasper…"

He calms me with his shy smile, assuring me he will concede with the slight nod of his head.

"Edward…"

My birth name falling from his lips is my undoing. I close the distance between us, finally… finally drinking him in. Finally… refreshing my parched soul from our day's fast.

Garments are quickly torn away as we inch our bodies toward the bed. We cannot touch enough, cannot taste enough; our mouths and hands relearn one another's tongues and flesh. Every night we experience such frenzy, this intense desperation. Our passion and need for one another reignites between us, its embers burning slowly, secretly in wait throughout the day, to quickly blaze an inferno once fueled again each night.

Reigning in the release my body already craves, I slow my searching fingers and famished lips. Jasper knows what I ask; he always does. He stands before me in wait of my first request.

"Lie on your stomach, my love."

"Yes, Sire," he smirks before draping his perfect form across my feather mattress. I gaze upon his body from where his blond cascading waves kiss the tops of his broad shoulders, down his muscular back to the exquisite curve of his round, soft bottom. The flickering light from the fireplace sends orange and yellow hues dancing across his flawless flesh. My mouth waters at the sight of him willing and waiting to receive me, my erection swelling impossibly further at the sound of his moans. The grinding of his hips searching for friction against the mattress enflames me, driving me to take my own stiff length in hand.

Even as my lips find the soft flesh of his ass, as my tongue reunites with his awaiting hole, I continue to palm my erection, attempting to soothe the ache within, that which teeters on the edge of sweet pain.

At my bequest, Jasper spreads his legs further, raising his ass in the air ever so slightly, presenting himself to me for the taking.

And then I'm there, home within his body, reclaiming him as mine once more. My lips part not with the skin of his neck and shoulders, kissing and nibbling his flesh, while I give and I take. Breaths and thrusts exchange between us, coming faster until we accept our bliss together.

I pull him into my arms to hold him, watching him succumb to sleep. Refusing to close my eyes, I waste not one second of the night, not one second of my time with him here with me. Minutes become hours, still I lie and listen to his slow peaceful breaths. I watch the firelight play across his features, dreaming of what life could be if I were burdened not with my birthright.

He wakes with fluttering eyelashes, his clear gaze immediately finding mine.

"What is my Prince thinking upon in the middle of the night? You should be asleep in my embrace, not awake while I take slumber. You have lost much sleep as of late. What troubles my Sire?"

He knows what troubles me; the looming change in our situation. Yet he asks, because he also knows I need to speak of it, to be reassured again, as I am every midnight.

"I refuse to close my eyes while you are near, yet I was dreaming of what we could be, if I was not me. I dream while awake to ensure my visions are not of losing you, of never again feeling your body one with mine, of never gazing upon your loving face."

He soothes the worry lines from my brow with tender fingers, whispering things I need to hear. "There is no need to dream such despair. You will never lose me. I am yours, my Lord… here to receive however much of yourself you are able to offer."

The smile only he knows how to beckon alights my face. Between kisses, I attempt to thank him. "What did I ever do to deserve you? How can I ever thank you for giving yourself to me so selflessly?"

"May I draw you a bath, Sire?"

He avoids my question, refusing to give himself any credit, as usual. The tentative tone of his voice, the subdued manner in which he speaks, breaks my heart. When will he comprehend that he is my equal in every way? That in actuality, he is so much better than I. Where he is the epitome of good, I am but a spoiled prince. My Jasper is humble, with the kindest of hearts; he has not a clue of how beautiful he is on the inside and out, how good he is, through and through. It comes naturally to him, in-grained in his nature.

"Jasper, you are my love... my equal. Please do not refer to me as your superior in any way."

"I must in the light of day, out there amongst the others," he whispers toward the door that which protects us from the outside world, from the charade we must live during the dreaded hours when the sun alights the sky.

"It is easier for me, my Lord. It hurts not as badly each day when I leave you to live my life without you, if I forget not my place during the hours I am with you."

I sigh, completely at a loss for what to do. As the time grows near when our nights together will be even more secretive than they already are, I fall more and more in love with this amazing man in my arms. I refuse to view him as a pauper, or treat him accordingly. My good fortune, as most would view it, that I was born into royalty, does not give me the right to look down upon those less fortunate in their rank of birth. None of us choose our stations. We are all human, the same in my eyes.

"A bath, Sire?" he repeats, drawing me from my reverie.

"Yes, my love. A bath sounds perfect. But only if we prepare it together."

The iron tub in the corner of my room awaits, full of fresh water, filled by the servants hours ago. Jasper and I heat enough of the water over the fire in the great stone fireplace, replacing it once it boils, until the tub is full of warmth.

Once submerged, I allow Jasper to wash my body, to massage away the ache I wear in muscles tensed with anxiety and despair so much of the time. When his hand finds my growing arousal, I am no longer able to resist my need to couple with him yet again. Pulling him into the bath with me as I always do, he straddles my lap, immediately receiving my body into his. All my worries and regrets dissipate as we become one. There is no room for negative emotions, no room for anything but our mutual ecstasy and shared love when we are joined like this. He rides me slowly, gyrating his body in the way he knows coaxes every ounce of pleasure from mine. My hands cover his, gripping the sides of the tub together; I thrust up into him faster, harder. Water splashing onto the stone floor does not stop us, nothing could at this point, not even if my father and his army were beating down the door.

My lover reaches his precipice first; I swallow his moans as he paints my chest in ribbons of his creamy seed. The sight of him coming undone, coupled with the feel of his internal contractions on my sensitive and throbbing erection, enable me to immediately follow with rapture of my own.

Taking our time, we dry one another from head to toe. Wrapped in the softest of fine robes, we lie together, facing one another with our hands entwined between us. We wait for the approaching dawn, wishing it would never arrive; our hearts breaking a little bit more when it does.

As the room changes to golden hues, regrettably chasing away the shadows, I bid my love farewell. We share a deep kiss, communicating many things too intense to verbalize - of how much we love, of how badly we will miss, of a farewell for now, but never for good.

I feel an overwhelming sense of dread as I watch Jasper disappear down the corridor. I fight against the powerful urge to call him back into the safety of my room, daylight be damned. Common sense prevails, and exhaustion frees my mind and body. I barely register my head sinking into the pillow as sleep numbs my emotional distress for a few short hours.

Waking restlessly, I am unable to remember my dreams, my nightmares; yet a foreboding chill, that of which I am unable to shake for the remainder of the day, resides in my bones.

Even more uneasy than usual, I avoid interaction with my mother, father, and especially with my younger brother. So different than I, Peter adores being royal. I sometimes envy his blind acceptance of everything our life entails. Peter would give anything to be the eldest, to be me, the one destined to inherit the throne. He would give anything to be the one to marry Princess Bella, smitten with her as he is.

If only my brother and I could switch places. He would make a good King, one that could balance the responsibilities of authority with genuine concern for the good of the kingdom, I'm sure of it.

And there it is, the idea I have dared not let take root before now. If I were to disappear… if Jasper and I were to run away… Peter would inherit the throne, and I would be free to live my true life in the light of day. Far from here, but in the light of day nevertheless.

I cannot get the vision of Jasper and I free to live our lives as we choose, away from here, out of my head. We would have to go far, never to show our faces near my kingdom again. I would miss my mother and my brother, possibly even my father a little, but would not such small sacrifices be worth it?

So distracted by possibilities, I notice not when dusk arrives and turns into night. Jasper should have arrived by now, as he is always in my arms by this time. I grow more distraught with every passing second; I consider searching for him, visiting the shack he calls home, the place he has made me promise to never lay eyes on. What if he has grown ill? Maybe he needs me? But we could miss one another if I leave - he could arrive while I am out looking for him.

I decide I cannot wait a minute longer in this room, alone without him, when a quiet knock sounds against my door.

I know it be not Jasper, for he knocks once then pauses, before knocking twice more. Still, I dare to hope.

I find my mother, looking distraught and covered in a dark cloak, obviously hiding her identity. I know something to be terribly wrong, never having seen her wear a secretive demeanor, nor has she visited my bedchamber since I was but a small boy.

"Mother? What is it?" My voice betrays the panic I feel coursing through my veins.

"Edward. You must make haste, my son."

She cups my cheek with a loving touch, unlike any she has shown me in a very long time, and tells me in hushed tones of how the King was informed by one of his many spies that I love my male companion. In anger and spite, he had Jasper attacked and taken to the dungeon just after we parted ways this morning.

"I implore you, make your decision wisely. If he is still alive, if you choose to free him, you will never be welcome in the kingdom forevermore!" she warns.

"I have no choice, Mother. I must go to Jasper. If he no longer lives, I might as well be dead, myself. This is good bye, either way. You shall not see me again."

Taking me into her arms, she holds me, rocking back and forth. In her embrace, I feel her love and her apology for the mother she has had to be. To ensure informants cannot overhear, she whispers to me - of my horse tied to a tree just inside the shelter of the feared forest, that the rumors are all true of the old woman, the witch who can heal. Residing deep within the feared forest, she will help me in return for gold. She will help, then forget that we were ever there. Mother assures me that good at heart as I am, I may travel through the woods unharmed.

Mother places a small bag of gold in my hand, just before I tell her how much I love her. I leave before the tears that brim her green eyes spill down her cheeks.

Taking the secret passages, I find Jasper in a heap in the darkest corner of the dungeon. The guard, attempting to send word to my father, suffers the fate of a crushed skull, instead.

I cannot contain my tears at the bloodied sight of my love. Unconscious, every visible inch of his perfect skin is bruised and swollen. His heart beats, but barely. His breaths are shallow, few and far between.

"Hold on, my love. Please, hold on!" I beg of him, kissing away the dried blood, the metal taste nauseating on my tongue, yet I don't care. I will take any part of him, his blood included.

Fortunately, shock sets in, affording me the strength to move without thought through the secret passages, to my horse, and deep into the feared forest. Eventually, a flickering light shows through the thick trees, leading me to a dilapidated shack.

The old woman is every bit a witch, weathered beyond years I ever knew possible. She wears but rags, mumbling incoherent words I fear she herself does not understand. She takes my gold, inviting me in. A large cauldron bubbles in the middle of the one small room. With no bed in sight, she motions for me to lay Jasper on a pile of worn blankets. I cannot believe he has made it thus far; the enormity of the situation truly sinks in, that I could lose my heart to death tonight and myself shortly thereafter.

The old woman works over Jasper through the night - rubbing ointments on his wounds, coaxing potions past his lips, chanting songs I dare not endeavor to understand. Reluctantly, I drink the tea she insists I accept, after which I am unable to stay awake, in and out of consciousness, until sunlight shows through the spaces between the boards of her humble abode. When eventually I am able to shake the haze from my mind, I see that my Jasper appears much improved. His wounds are beginning to heal; the swelling has gone down considerably. The old woman helps him to sip soup. When he looks to me through black and blue marred eyes, I know in this moment he will recover. Finally, tears of joy replace the tortured tears I realize have fallen from my eyes in a continuous stream since I found him at death's door, even while under the witch's trance.

He holds me in his arms under the stars. He does every dry night the sky provides for us. Though we have already made love once tonight, I decide it is now my turn, that I must feel his tight heat surrounding me before we make our way inside the cabin we built together those ten years ago.

I move so that I am above him, carefully keeping my weight from my left knee. It has never worked right, since the beating I sustained the day we fled the kingdom.

Edward chuckles below me as my lips claim his. Between kisses, he teases that I have made him loose count again. Yet, I know he minds not, that he would rather receive my body within his, than continue counting the stars. Thanks to him and his love for me, his willingness to give up his fortune and his kingdom, we are free to count the stars together every night, and the clouds in the light of day, for the rest of our lives.


Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed it! I know it's different than what I usually write.

Life and health issues have left me unable to write much lately, but I promise to get back to my Sometimes boys soon! Not too many chapters to go until we fast forward a few years, to when they're in their mid-twenties.

I'll have a story in the Toys4tots Christmas Wishes Compilation. Here's the website if you're interested. For a small donation you'll get the compilation of Christmassy stories on Christmas day, and you'll be helping less fortunate children have a merry Christmas at the same time!

Christmaswishescompilation blogspot com