July 2000

Ok, Disclaimers, I don't own these characters or the song,
and I'm not making money off of this, unfortunetly. The song
is from the "Anastasia" Soundtrack.

The story however, does belong to me.

This is a Songfic (obviously) about Serena and Darien.

At The Beginning

*We were strangers
Starting out on a journey
Never dreaming
What we'd have to go through
Now here we stand
And I'm suddenly standing
At the beginning with you.*

Grubby hands, matted with blood and dirt, held the
tattered edges of the worn shirt together, trying desperately
to keep out the cold. Bare feet, lacking any color or
feeling, trudged through the high snow drifts, leaving a
clear trail out behind. A sob tore from a raw throat as a
child of no more than thirteen collapsed in a deep drift,
ebony hair glittering with frozen shards of water. "Help."
Rasped the child, the sound barely passing from between
frozen lips. Blood, dried and frozen, lined one arm and leg,
his pants torn off below the knee on the left leg to reveal a
large gash across his thigh. One hand, the fingers obviously
broken from the bones punching through the skin, lay limply
cradled to his chest as he rolled onto his back. His face
was lined with streaks of crimson from a head wound that
wasn't visible under his hair. His features betrayed that
one-day, should he live beyond this night, he would be very
handsome indeed.

The child pushed himself with visible effort to his
knees, wincing with each movement. He rose to his feet and
stumbled forward again, leaving a deep slash of crimson
across the snow where he'd lain. He fought forward, some
instinct telling him to continue, to push on even in his
battered and torn state. His eyes rolled up in his head a
short time after his collapse and he passed out, boneless and
uncaring, on some kind of hard surface, the tinkling of
distant laughter following him down into darkness...

Fire. He kicked out as his feet felt like they were on
fire, the sensations running across his nerve endings and
causing him to cry out with a rasping shout. Gentle hands
pushed him back onto the soft surface where he lay, making
him take into account that, even in his half delirious state
of mind, he was warm. His feet wouldn't be ignored for long
though and they showed it with a vengeance as they suddenly
flared to life and he writhed on the palate, tears of pain
streaming down his cheeks. Mercifully the pain was too much
for him and a gentle, childish voice carried him back down
into unconsciousness.

The gentle hands were back, he noticed as he flinched
away from them in unconscious thought. They were holding
something unbelievably warm to his head, and something
exceedingly cold to his right hand. The unconscious thought
of his right hand caused it to throb and he cried out again
as he tried to flex it and found it immobile. Tears streamed
down his cheeks and he made no move to brush them away.

"Do not move," a calming voice said from somewhere
distant, "Please, you will be fine..." it trailed off as his
eyes flew open, feverish and bright, and he sat up suddenly.
Delicate feminine hands grasped his bare shoulders and pushed
gently, sending him back down with a minimum of effort, "You
have been wounded, please, rest young man."

The voice began to sing softly and he closed his eyes,
focusing on it, as he drifted off into a healing slumber.

"Is he going to be alright?" a childish voice, trying to
be quiet, woke him from slumber.

"He will be fine, little one, do not worry. He seems
strong but he needs his rest."

The younger voice sounded unsure, "Are you sure, Emily?
He was badly hurt. I thought you would have to take his feet

A chuckle made him smiled slightly as the elder woman
responded, her voice full of confidence, "He will recover,
child, don't you fret about it."

"Really? He's been unconscious for a long time, Emily."

"I know, dearest, I know. Sleep will heal him, it is
best he sleeps for now, his body couldn't mend it he was up
and about."

He chose at that moment to groan and open his eyes.
Images were blurry and spinning but he refused to close them
as everything slowly settled into the way it should be, the
nausea disappearing as things became focused. He was lying a
few yards from a glowing fire on a palette of furs that was
amazingly comfortable. He could feel a crude bandage wrapped
around his chest, another around his thigh and yet another
around his head. The cabin, for the interior logs could only
be a cabin, was homey and warm, decorated with an ancient
rocking chair, a large bed in one corner and a small couch.
Rugs and furs decorated the floor, keeping the chill from the
feet of the occupants.

His gaze focused on the two who had been discussing him.
An elderly lady was seated in the rocking chair, knitting in
her lap. A basket of yarn was at her feet as she gently
rocked back and forth, smiling indulgently at a small girl
child. She was a woman with an air of refinement, though she
was dressed in trousers, a jerkin made from doe skin and had
her silver-grey hair piled in a bun on top of her head.

The little girl who sat next to her resembled a forest
nymph. She was tiny, surely no older than six or seven, and
dressed in a gown made from beaver skins, if he wasn't
mistaken: warm but hardly fashionable. Her hair was pulled
back in a single ponytail, and for some reason, she had a lot
of it. The golden strands glittered like molten sunshine in
the light of the fire and fell easily to her knees held up as
it was.

"Who are you?" he asked harshly, his voice still tender
and raw and he winced from using it. He could see the
remnants of his clothes on a mending rack near the bed.

Two pairs of eyes, one wise grey-blue, the other a
curious and concerned robin's egg blue, turned his way. The
elderly woman put her knitting away and rose, coming over to
kneel next to him and he was shocked at how fluidly she
moved. From her position in the rocking chair he'd judged
her to be a lot older than her tread betrayed. She smiled at
him, raising one hand to feel his forehead and then nodded
and grasped a small water bucket from where it lay cooling
next to his palette. She removed the dipper from the bucket
and put it to his lips, sending a surprisingly cold flow of
liquid into his mouth and he drank greedily. She obliged him
by letting him drink his fill and then sat next to him, the
little blonde nymph peering over her shoulder curiously.

"My name, is Emily," she told him in an amazingly strong
voice, "This is my charge, Serena. You gave us quite the
scare young man, falling over our wood pile like that. What
is your name?"

He shrugged, unsure what to tell her, as his brow
knitted up in confusion and his eyes widened, "I.. I can't
remember my name." He admitted.

"Well, I guess we'll just have to call you something
then. How about Darien? Dare for short, considering only a
dare should have been able to get you out on a night like
that one!"

He nodded hesitantly, "That would be alright. How long
have I been here?"

Emily sighed, "Far too long, young man. You've been
asleep almost two weeks since we found you."

He closed his eyes, accepting the blow stoically as
Emily moved away and busied herself with something over the
fireplace. He sniffed once, smelling something like stew,
and had the grace to blush as his stomach growled loudly.
Serena giggled, clapping a small hand over her lips as her
blue eyes danced merrily. Darien shot her a look full of
venom and then apologized to Emily, "I'm sorry, Miss Emily,
but I am really hungry."

She chuckled, stirring the stew carefully once more and
then grabbed a pewter bowl and filled it to the brim with
stew, "As it should be, a growing boy like you. Serena, get
the water and don't be letting the heat out of the cabin as
you do."

"Yes mum," muttered the little girl and hurried to

Emily sat next to Darien again and then helped him sit
up, propping him up with bunched and rolled furs. "One of
your hands is broken, but it will heal I wager. If you don't
mind letting an old woman like myself feed you, then you can
conserve your strength for getting better."

Darien smiled, "No mum, I don't mind at all. I'm hungry
enough to eat raw rattlesnake right now."

Emily smiled and dipped the spoon into the bowl, holding
both up to his mouth as he blew gently on the stew and then
opened his mouth, "And you'd be dumb enough to try it I
reckon," Emily returned smiling. He only smiled and chewed
carefully so not to burn his tongue.

Serena returned when he was halfway through the bowl,
carrying with her a bucket almost half her size and a draft
that came sliding through the warm cabin like a cold knife.
"Serena!" Emily reprimanded sharply as she hurried to bolt
the heavy wooden door.

Serena flushed and ducked her head, "I'm sorry, Emily,
I'm still not strong enough to push the door and hold the
bucket all at once."

Emily turned from the door and gathered the child in her
arm, "I shouldn't snap so. It's alright, Serena, I know
you're still small. Maybe if you're nice, and we're lucky,
Darien here will help with the chores once he's able to

Darien nodded, eyeing the rest of his stew hungrily,
"Yes mum, of course. I'd be happy to help."

"There you see? Come, help yourself to your stew, and
don't be burning your dress like last time."

Serena skipped over to the stew pot and quickly
collected herself a bowl, mindful of Emily's instructions,
and then retired to a warm nest of furs near the fire to eat.
She kept her intense blue eyes on their visitor as she ate,
almost as if she expected him to bolt.

Darien, mindful of her stare, did his best to ignore her
as he was fed. He worked his way through three bowls of stew
before fatigue got the better of him and he asked Emily to
help lie him back down. Before his eyes closed, he heard
Serena make some comment on hunting but couldn't pin point it
as he drifted off to sleep again.