Screwed (A Modern Fairy Tale)
by misscam

Disclaimer: Not my characters, just my words.

Author's Note: AU. Set in a modern world, with modern kingdoms and modern princesses. Written to the prompt: "I'm a prince/ss and you're my bodyguard and we're so not supposed to bang but we kind of did anyways" au (bonus: limo sex is great sex)

II

Everyone in the kingdom knows who Princess Mary Margaret Blanchard is, fondly nicknamed 'Snow White' for her almost Dinsey-princess-looks and seemingly genuinely sweet demeanor. It is hard not to know who she is, when she has graced the cover of every magazine at one point or another, and is generally considered popular enough to save the concept of a monarchy in this democratic day and age. She is well know, well loved, and David Nolan has grown up with pictures of her everywhere.

He's never quite seen her like this.

Panting, hair wild, still clutching the candlestick she used to hit him across the face with, Princess Mary Margaret Blanchard is breathtaking and beautiful and real, and has just knocked his ass to the floor.

Hell.

"Do you always greet your new bodyguards like this?" he asks, and she glares at him.

"I don't have a bodyguard!" she snaps.

"Your father sure seems convinced you have," he snaps back, touching his chin and seeing blood. Great. He's probably going to be scarred for life. "Having hired me to be your bodyguard and all."

She narrows her eyes at him. "My father hired you?"

"Yes," he says. "David Nolan at your service."

She finally lowers her candlestick. "I don't want your service."

"You still have it," he says, finally daring to get up on his feet.

"Aren't you a real Prince Charming," she says mockingly, glaring at him. "I can look after myself."

"I can tell," he says, and for a moment, Mary Margaret Blanchard seems to almost smile at him, and his breath catches. Oh no.

"I'm sorry," she says, her shoulders slumping. She looks sad, and he has to fight an urge to pull her into his arms to comfort her. "I thought father had agreed to let me live alone for two months away from all the... royalness of the castle. I thought he understood."

"I think he did," he offers gently. "But he is your father. He wants to make sure you're safe. I'm just here to protect you for two months, princess. Nothing more. You can live the life you want to, as far as I'm concerned. Just let me protect you while you do."

She seems to consider that for a moment, then sighs. "I suppose if I don't, father will send a whole company of royal guards to live nearby. All right, Charming. I'll let you act as my bodyguard."

"I told you, my name is David Nolan. Just David Nolan," he says, and she shakes her head.

"Nah. Nothing 'just' about you. Besides, I prefer Charming."

He grins at that, and she grins back. His breath catches again, as her whole face seems to light up with it. Her green eyes seem to sparkle, and he's pretty sure he's already hopelessly smitten.

Oh no.

She seems to notice his gaze, and for a moment they're both hopelessly staring at each other. Then she seems to catch herself.

"I am sorry about knocking you out," she says sincerely. "I thought you were a burglar."

"Not looking to rob you, princess," he says. "Just want to keep you safe."

She smiles again, almost speculatively, and shit, his breath catches again. He's beginning to wonder if the actual danger will be to him after all.

II

She insists on cleaning and dressing his minor wound, and he lets her, sitting down on a kitchen chair and watching her gently wash away the dried blood.

"All better," she says after a moment, brushing her thumb across his chin. "You might get a scar. It will be sexy. You can tell your bodyguard buddies about the time the princess knocked you out."

He laughs. "I'm not actually a bodyguard by trade. The last few years I've been the local sheriff in my county."

She tilts her head. "Why am I lucky enough to get a local sheriff as a bodyguard?"

"I served your father in the military," he says softly. "I guess he trusts me."

"Oh," she says. She is looking at him thoughtfully. "I can see why he'd trust you. You seem very... earnest."

"A compliment, princess?" he jokes and she gives him a pointed look.

"Trust me, as a royal you soon learn to value those who are honest and earnest," she says, a curious undertone to her voice. "They aren't always easy to find."

"I'm sorry," he says, wondering who taught Mary Margaret Blanchard the value of honesty by being a dishonest bastard.

She seems to catch herself, shaking her head lightly, her long curls gleaming in the faint, dying light from outside. "Oh, I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I know I've been raised in a privileged position. My mother made sure I knew my privilege and my responsibility."

He nods softly. Queen Eva was loved by most, and he remembers the grieving when she died. He was a young boy then, and she can't have been much older.

"I'm sorry for your loss," he says, and she looks surprised for a moment before her face softens.

"Thank you," she says softly. "I still miss her."

"I know," he says. "I lost my father when I was young, and I still miss him."

"I'm sorry," she says honestly, and their gazes lock, a strange sort of understanding passing between them. "Your mother is..."

"Still alive," he confirms. "She runs the family farm. I help out a lot. She keeps wanting me to marry and settle down."

"Sounds like my father," she says, her eyes distant. "I think that's why he gave me this summer to myself. He's hoping it will make me want to marry one of the revolting princes and have little heirs."

He raises an eyebrow at her description of the princes of the various neighboring kingdoms. Still, he can't say he disagrees. "I take it that's not what you want."

"I don't know what I want yet," she says honestly.

II

Mary Margaret Blanchard has rented a nice house in a quiet part of town, with a back garden filled with bird houses. She lets him have the basement flat, with a bedroom and separate bathroom, while she sleeps upstairs in a bedroom with a balcony overseeing the garden.

She just wants to breathe, she tells him.

He can understand that. He too, knows what it's like to grow up with expectations and other people's ideals. He grew up in the shadow of his twin brother James, after all.

A quiet part of town, and a princess who just wants to breathe. Perhaps this will be an easier assignment than he thought.

At least he thinks so until he wakes up and finds said princess has snuck out by climbing down a tree by her balcony, and he has no idea where she is.

II

He finds her at a nightclub, dancing with another long-haired brunette. They're laughing at each other, clearly already friends, with a throng of admiring men circling. He knows that particular dance all too well. It makes his already frayed temper from combing the city looking for her even more frayed, and he practically storms up to them.

The red strapless dress Mary Margaret is wearing clings to her curves as she moves, and he has to admit that she looks wonderful and quite, quite impossible not to stare at. That doesn't mean he feels more kindly about the gang of men actually staring at her.

Mary Margaret sees him and guilt flashes across her face for a second. Then her jaw sets.

"Charming," she says sweetly as he approaches. "This is Ruby, my best friend from university. Ruby, this is Charming, the bodyguard I told you about."

Ruby tilts her head and gives him a long, thoughtful look. "You clearly left some things out. Heeeello, Charming."

He counts to five on the inside. "Hello Ruby, friend I didn't know about. Mary Margaret, a word?"

She bites her lip, then reluctantly nods. He pulls her through the crowd, through the backdoor and into the alley.

"What the hell are you doing?" he asks darkly. "I thought you agreed to..."

"Let you protect me," she cuts in. "Yes. But I don't need your protection here. I'm with friends."

"Ruby might be your friend," he agrees. "But every man in that club was just itching to do more than just look at you, princess. They are not looking to be friends."

Her eyes darken. "Every man, Charming?"

He breathes, trying to calm himself. He can't be doing this. She's the goddamn princess and he's her fucking bodyguard, doing it as a special favor to the king himself. He can't...

"Every," he rasps.

She kisses him. Hard, demanding, biting down on his lower lip, and his brain seems to short-circuit. He can't think, just act, kissing her back greedily and hearing her moan in appreciation. He pins her between the wall and himself, feeling her body press against him in a way that is just right, fitting, perfect. Her fingers are playing with the short hairs at the back of his neck, pressing him closer at the same time, and he can feel her tongue brush the inside of his lips.

Distantly, he can hear himself growl her name, and with great effort, he pulls himself away.

She is breathing heavily, watching him through lowered eyelids. There is something in her gaze, something determined and possessive, something that makes him feel claimed.

"Oh," she says. "You. You're..."

"Your bodyguard," he says, forcing the words out. "We shouldn't do this."

She smiles faintly. "What? Bang your princess in the back-alley to some club? You're right. Not here."

"Not anywhere," he mutters, and she licks her lips. "I... It wouldn't be right."

"To hell with right," Princess Mary Margaret Blanchard says merrily, and he wants to kiss her again so badly he groans. Why the hell did he agree to this? "You are quite the honorable type, aren't you?"

"Yes," he says, swallowing as she leans into him. "I suppose I am."

She smiles very softly, looking almost touched. "How very charming. Come on, Charming. I'm going to dance and you have my body to guard, don't you?"

He groans again, as Mary Margaret gives him a wicked smile, grasps his hand in hers and pulls him back into the club.

II

They dance. Oh, he tries to just hang around her to keep an eye on her, but that ends up being impossible when she throws her arms around his neck, and soon, they are actually dancing. She sways with him, humming along to the tunes, and Ruby gives them a wolfish grin that he tries not to see.

It is late by the time he takes them both home. Ruby takes a guy named Victor with her home, with Mary Margaret whispering to him about how Ruby always takes Victor home yet refuses to consider him a boyfriend quite yet.

He has had nothing to drink yet feels vaguely drunk, or perhaps he's simply hot and bothered by her presence.

"I would invite you upstairs," she says, and he swallows. "But I suppose you would turn me down, as the honorable thing to do."

Gently, he cups her head in his hands, and she gazes up at him with her bright, green eyes that he already never wants to look away from.

"I'm attracted to you," he says honestly. "Madly. I want nothing more than to go upstairs with you. But I... We're not supposed to do this. You're the princess. I'm just..."

"Shh," she says, brushing the lightest kiss against his lips. "I don't think you're just anything. Goodnight, Charming."

"Goodnight, princess," he murmurs, feeling his heart break slightly as she turns and walks away.

II

He takes a long, cold shower before bed, and still lies awake thinking about her through most of the night. Princess Mary Margaret Blanchard, bold, beautiful, unafraid, determined, all things he admires and enjoys and desperately wants.

He is screwed.

He will just have to guard her from a professional distance. Right. He can do that. He can pine from her from afar and be a completely professional bodyguard in every way. He just has to do this for two months, never touching or kissing her again and definitely not doing more than that. He can do it. Eight weeks of that. He can do it.

Yep.

No. No.

He is so screwed.

II

He does well. For about a week.

Mary Margaret smiles at him over breakfast, and he manages to avoid pulling her onto his lap to kiss her.

Mary Margaret goes book shopping in the mornings, and he trails her, managing not to grope her behind the book shelves, not even when she looks at him with darkened eyes and an inviting smile.

Mary Margaret paints birds in the park, and he avoids pinning her underneath him in the grass while the blue birds make excited noises.

Mary Margaret visits hospitals and smiles brightly at patients who look at her with awe, and he is barely able not to take her hand when he sees her eyes bright with tears of sympathy.

Mary Margaret drinks white wine in her back garden, and tells him about her childhood dream to be a teacher and not a princess at all, and while he manages not to pull her into an embrace, he does put his hands on hers.

Mary Margaret meets with lawyers discussing reforms, and he fails at not giving her admiring glances as she talks knowingly about which laws need to change to make their country better.

Mary Margaret has dinner with friends, and sets a plate for him too, and he manages to only brush his legs against hers three times during the entire dinner while watching how easily and happily she banters with people who don't even call her princess once.

Mary Margaret attends charity events, and he restricts himself to telling off half of the men kissing her hand while ogling her long, wonderful legs.

Mary Margaret gets tipsy on shots with Ruby, stands on her balcony, spreading her arms, and tells him all she wants is to fly free and not be in a gilded cage, and he has to take her hand when she invites him to pretend to fly with him.

Mary Margaret takes him dancing, ignores all other men to dance only with him, and he has to let his hands roam her body and feel how perfectly she curves against his palms.

Mary Margaret smiles all the way walking home, and he can't not smile back at her, can't not offer her an arm, can't not enjoy how right she feels next to him, in step with him, with him.

Mary Margaret kisses him goodnight in the kitchen, and fuck him, he can't not lift her onto the kitchen table and finally, finally kiss her again.

II

His hands are on her bare back underneath her shirt, her legs are locked around his waist and he's never been so happy to kiss someone on a bloody kitchen table. She is infinitely kissable, he already knows, by how her lips feel against his, by how kissing her deeply just makes him want to kiss her more, by how her sighs and moans make him determined to draw more noises out of her, by how breathing her in feels more wonderful than air, by how the heat of her mouth makes him feel flushed.

He doesn't want to stop kissing Mary Margaret Blanchard. That is definitely a problem.

It's even more of a problem that he would very much like to do more than just kiss her. He can already imagine her beneath him, and he wants desperately to just lower her onto the kitchen table and...

"David," she murmurs against her lips, longingly and he groans.

He can't do this. He really, really can't do this. Not with her, because if he starts, he will never be able to let her go, and she's the princess.

"Mary Margaret," he says, and she puts a finger sternly against her lips.

"Don't," she says softly. "Don't tell me we can't do this, that you're my bodyguard and I'm the princess. Don't."

He closes his eyes as she kisses him with determination, her thumbs caressing his cheeks. Oh, he wants. He wants so much.

He can't.

She sighs into the kiss, pulling away and he nearly growls at the loss.

"I'm going to bed," she says, standing up and straightening her clothes. He's managed to rumple them quite well, he notices. "Goodnight, Charming."

"Goodnight, Mary Margaret," he says, and she gives him a strangely pleased smile, making him wonder just what he did.

II

He takes a long cold shower before bed, yet sleeps poorly, dreaming of actually being a Prince Charming and finding a green-eyed princess and kissing her to the end of his days.

II

In the morning, she informs him there is a ball in the evening. Of course there is. She is a princess, she attends balls.

He is her bodyguard, so he has an invitation too and somehow, she has already arranged a tux for him. He is beginning to wonder if he is being set up for something, but he's not quite sure what.

Torture, he realizes the moment he sees her. She is wearing a royal gown of pale, icy blue, a tiara with silver snow bells and diamonds, and she looks utterly, utterly beautiful.

"Wow," he breathes, and she smiles at him.

"Wow yourself," she says, giving him an admiring looks from beneath her dark lashes. "You look very dashing, David Nolan. I may have some competition for you tonight."

"No," he says automatically, without even thinking, and she looks quite, quite pleased.

"Come on," she says, taking his hand. "Let us do this ball."

II

She introduces him as her actual date, which he has no time to even protest before a couple of princesses have sighed over how handsome he is and a few princes have shot him nasty glances that he returns.

As far as he's concerned, those men can think Mary Margaret off-limits for the rest of their lives.

He gets the two first dances with her, and stops feeling clumsy after the first few seconds. There is something about holding her in his arms that feels right regardless, and they easily find a rhythm together even if the dances themselves are unfamiliar to him

He loves it. He even stealthily kisses her hands a few times during the dance, and she looks at him with parted lips and dark eyes.

Dammit.

He has to watch her dance with higher ups and visiting princes, making him increasingly... something, he's not even sure what. It's not anger exactly, because she has every right to dance with whoever she wants. It's not quite jealousy either, because she doesn't smile at anyone the way she does at him. It is desire, but not just. Yes, he does want to pull her into a dark corner and trail kisses across every inch of exposed skin. But he wants more than that. He wants...

She smiles at him across the ballroom and he knows he's fallen hopelessly, madly in love with Mary Margaret Blanchard and that he is properly, properly screwed.

II

He is wrong. He gets properly screwed in the limo, as it turns out.

He can barely keep his hands off her as they slide into the limo, and when she bites her lip and look at him before closing the window that leaves them shielded from the prying eyes of the chauffeur, he pulls her onto his lap and practically lunges forward to kiss her.

She laughs happily against his lips, parting them as he strokes his tongue across them. The laugh turns into a happy hum as he kisses her deeply, desperately. He can feel her fingers brushing his ears, his cheek, the scar on his chin and his neck.

He shouldn't be doing this, but he can't stop himself anymore.

She sighs as he begins the trail of kisses across her skin he's wanted to do all evening, pausing whenever she makes a particular noise. When she moans his name softly, he sucks at a spot by her neck that seems extra sensitive. He draws her earlobe between his teeth, and she digs her fingers into his shoulder. He brushes his lips across the top of her breasts, slipping his hands inside her dress to trace the lines of her legs and thighs. She isn't wearing stockings or pantyhose, something he definitely, definitely appreciates.

"Charming," she gasps, shifting impatiently on his lap, and again when he draws circles on the inside of her thigh. "I need..."

"What?" he murmurs breathlessly, lifting his head to meet her look.

"You," she growls, kissing him hard as if to make the point.

He closes his eyes for a moment, just enjoying the sensation of being kissed passionately by her, of being wanted by her. He wants her too, wants her so badly he's just about ready to lose it. Just about, but not quite.

She makes a startled noise into the kiss as he shifts and moves her to lie across the seats, before breaking the kiss and kneeling down on the floor. She looks at him with parted, swollen lips and a dark, desirous gaze, so very, very beautiful, and he takes a brief moment to admire the sight.

He can hear her exhale as he moves underneath her skirt, trailing a path of wet, open kisses along her thighs. Her underwear is silk, and smooth against his fingers as he brushes it, and he can hear her make another stuttering exhale.

He spends several minutes learning the wonderful noises that Mary Margaret Blanchard makes getting oral sex in a limo, and loves each and every one. There are a variety of moans, various kinds of gasps, noises that seem to be a mix of groans and hisses, and quite a few combinations of whimpers and panting. He loves them all, but he has to admit his favorite might be the way she sighs his name – his name, the one she gave him - as he makes her come.

He can see her chest rise and fall as she lifts her head a bit unsteadily, her cheeks flushed. Whatever she sees makes her sit up as he gets up to sit next to her, and before he can say anything at all she puts her hand in his lap and pulls down the zipper.

Oh, he thinks, biting his lip hard. Her hands are warm, and hell, the feeling of her palm against his erection is downright painful in how good it feels. He can feel her watching his reactions as she gently slides her hand up and down, and whatever she sees makes her smile wickedly.

"Do you want me?" she asks, her voice like silk.

"Yes," he breathes, then nearly curses as she strokes him again. He wants her so badly he's practically straining into her hand, and she smiles again.

She straddles him, shifting her now rumpled dress around them, and he is almost ready to tear it off with his bare teeth by now, no matter how wonderful she looks in it. He wants her naked beneath him to roam every inch of her skin, and find every spot she loves being kissed, but for now he has to settle for helping her adjust her position.

This is going to be fast and hard, he already knows, their mutual impatience and pent-up desire too strong for anything else. There is a sense of almost urgency, as if they have to have each other now, now, now.

He thrusts into her hard and quick, and the sensation of being inside her, hard and deep, he has no words for except flowery metaphors from his mother's favorite romance novels, and even they feel inadequate. It feels right, wonderfully, gloriously right.

"Yes," Mary Margaret mutters, her voice hoarse, rocking back and forth on him before catching his lips in a hot, searing kiss as he thrusts again, and again; a fast, hurried pace that soon has them both panting. Mary Margaret draws her nails across his neck in a way that will probably leave marks, which is probably only fair since he's pretty sure she'll have a few marks on her neck in the morning too, and somehow, he actually likes that. He is hers.

It is fast and hard, in the end, and pretty damn great, actually.

II

They stumble out of the limo with rumpled clothes and messy hair, and he can only watch Mary Margaret tip the driver very handsomely and tell him to get the limo properly cleaned with no questions asked. She gives orders damn impressively, and he's pretty sure even if he wasn't already completely smitten, he would follow her anywhere if she used that voice on him.

She doesn't say anything to him. She just offers him his hand, and he takes it, following her inside, through the kitchen and into her bedroom. She pauses by her bed, turning around to look at him. Her hair is tumbling down her shoulders, and she bites her lip again as she looks at him.

"This is where you tell me we're not supposed to do this," she says, and he laughs a bit humorlessly.

"Bit late for that," he points out.

"It could end there," she says quietly. "You gave the princess a good time in the back of a limo, no harm, no foul."

"No," he says, lifting her hand to his lips. "It can't end there."

"Why not?" she challenges him.

"Because, princess," he says, drawing her finger into his mouth and sucking lightly on it for a few seconds. "Because I had you five minutes ago and I already want you again."

She exhales. "Good."

He looks at her as she steps closer, running her hands over his chest. "Good?"

"Good," she confirms, unbuttoning the first few buttons on his shirt and pressing a kiss to his chest. "Because I've wanted you since you looked at me with those blue eyes of yours and told me your name was David Nolan. Because I've been trying to seduce you for a week. Because you banged me in the back of a limo six minutes ago and I already want you again. So good."

His heart feels like it's pounding in his chest, her quiet confession making him want to kiss her tenderly and throw her down on the bed all at once.

"We're both screwed," he tells her, and she smiles far, far too happily.

"We will be," she says; a promise.

II

They spend the whole night not sleeping even once.

The second time is slow, undressing as foreplay, exploring with wandering hands and paths of kisses, and discovering. He finds that her breasts fit perfectly in his palm, learns how smooth her skin feels next to his, realizes just where his fingers should make patterns to make her sigh happily. He loves the paleness of her skin, but loves the flush he can bring to it even more.

She laces her fingers in his as he slides into her, and they kiss and kiss while he thrusts slowly: a slow and thorough lovemaking on top of the sheets with nothing between them that leaves them both breathless and properly screwed.

Afterwards, they crawl under the blankets, lying face to face with links hands, telling each other stories from their lives. He tells her about how James died, something he hardly ever tells anyone, and she kisses him lovingly and tells him it's okay. She talks about the death of her friend Graham and the loss of her mother and how she could never quite mourn them because of her responsibilities, and he kisses her tears away and tells her she's allowed to grieve with him.

"You make me feel like a person and not just a title," she tells him, and he kisses her; they end up making love again like that, her leg across his hip and his hand on her back, forehead to forehead and kissing between thrusts.

He makes her a midnight snack afterwards, and they end up sitting on the kitchen table and laughing at silly jokes, at least until she jumps down, grins at him wickedly and gives him the sort of blowjob that is usually in the fantasy letters in naughtier magazines.

She also learns exactly what sort of noises he makes, and he thinks she is pleased with them. At least she looks it, looking extremely pleased with herself in a way that just won't do. Just won't do at all, and he lifts her up to kiss her hungrily.

They end up on the floor, and he uses the sheets they had wrapped themselves in as makeshift blanket-come-pillow, and is quite, quite pleased with himself for the number of ways Mary Margaret Blanchard says, moans and growls his name until she comes apart in his arms.

"I can't believe I just had sex on the floor," she giggles at him when she regains her breath, and he smiles playfully at her. "Princess Mary Margaret Blanchard, Snow White herself, doing it on the kitchen floor."

"Oh yeah? Where else can't you believe you'll ever have sex?" he asks, already beginning to consider options.

She blushes. "That's quite an extensive list, Charming."

"Good," he tells her, kissing her. "We have the whole summer."

What comes after, he doesn't want to think about. She is the princess, he is the bodyguard and will go back to being the sheriff and occasional sheep farmer. But until then, he has Mary Margaret Blanchard willingly in his arms, where she fits just perfectly.

They have a shower together afterwards, washing each other in what is really just an excuse for feeling each other up, and he trails every inch of her wonderful legs and discovers she quite enjoys the curve of his ass and admits to liking the strength of his arms too.

He uses that strength to lift her up against the shower wall, and she laughs happily as he kisses her neck, turning to happy moan as he proceeds to ravish her quite, quite thoroughly.

They finally end up falling asleep at dawn, tangled in each other; the last thing he sees is how Snow White herself seems glow in the light of dawn when properly, properly screwed.

II

"Good afternoon," she whispers, and he barely opens his eyes to squint at Mary Margaret resting on his chest.

"Is it?" he asks sleepily, and she nods slightly. "Mmm. Do you have anything you need to do today?"

"No," she murmurs. "David?"

"Mmm," he says again.

"What do we do now?" she asks, biting her lip.

"I stay your bodyguard for a little under seven weeks," he says quietly. "I promised your father."

She nods slightly again, brushing her thumb across his lip. "You're a man of your word."

"I don't know about that," he mutters, swallowing a sense of guilt. "I doubt your father had this in mind. I shouldn't have..."

She puts a finger to his lips. "Don't start that again. You have been very honorable and I have been very naughty and I'm afraid I will continue to be. You make me naughty, David Nolan. You make me want to..."

"What?" he asks, and she smiles wickedly – it might just be his favorite smile of hers, he decides.

They don't get out of bed for a long while, because as it turns out, Mary Margaret wants to do a great deal to him and with him.

II

It's the best seven weeks of David Nolan's life.

He goes with Mary Margaret to every event, every party and everything she wants to do in her summer of freedom. They spend almost two weeks in the city, hanging out with her friends, attending various events, spending every night in each other's arms.

It's wonderful.

After that, they go on a five-week trip across the country in a yellow bug that no one would think a princess would drive, and thus is perfect. They visit small towns, explore tiny markets, and he buys her a necklace of a bird that is probably nothing to all her jewels in the castle, but she still insists is the loveliest thing she has ever gotten and never takes off.

They have picnics in fields, by rivers and in forests, and he discovers how making love to Mary Margaret Blanchard in the grass feels.

They visit a bird sanctuary, and he smiles at the sight of her closing her eyes and spreading her arms, birds flocking around her as she does. He can tell what she's imagining, and then she opens her eyes and beckons him to her, never closing her eyes again.

They climb a mountain, and he kisses her sore feet the next day while they stay in bed, listening to the rain.

They spend several days renting a sailboat on a lake, lying together on the deck while the sun sparkles off the water. It feels like bathing in warmth and sunlight and her. They bathe in the water too, even skinny-dip at night, and of course seeing her bathed in water and moonlight only makes her utterly, utterly irresistible and utterly, utterly screwed, in the end.

They stop for several days in an old town with an old, old library, and he watches how delighted she is by old books and how she touches books with awe and reverence. He reads to her from love stories and love poems during the evenings, after they've made love, and she closes her eyes and listens with smiling lips until she falls asleep.

They stop by his mother's sheep farm, and he introduces her to his mother, who looks very suspicious, but also increasingly pleased as the two women whisper together. He tries to stress the fact of him being the bodyguard for the royal princess several times, but his mother simply smiles more and more.

He shows Mary Margaret where he grew up, and she seems to genuinely like it, admiring the fields, petting the sheep, trying to drive a tractor and luring him into a barn under the pretense of wanting to see what it was like inside.

What she really wanted to see was what he would look like in the hay, and he indulges her, and his own shepherd's fantasy of a rather slow roll in the hay.

His mother looks suspiciously at them both when they enter for dinner, and pulls a few strands of hair from his hair without comment. The dinner is pleasant, and feels like a family dinner in a way he doesn't dare put to words.

"I love your mother," Mary Margaret whispers to him afterwards, her eyes shining.

"My mother clearly loves you," he replies, and feels his heart ache with it. Love. Yes.

He takes her to a local dance. She wears a pale, blue dress that is far simpler than her ballgown, but makes her look every bit as utterly, utterly beautiful, because her beauty isn't her dresses, but simply her.

"Wow," she tells him, giving him an admiring look. Even if he is wearing simply a fancier shirt and dress pants, he is sure Mary Margaret finds him 'wow'. It's in how she looks at him, a gaze seeming to drink him in.

"Wow yourself," he counters, and they both laugh.

There are a few childhood friends at the party, who manage to tell Mary Margaret at least three embarrassing childhood stories of his, and he would be annoyed if Mary Margaret didn't laugh so adorably at them.

He gets every dance with her, swinging her, dipping her, twirling her and best of all, simply holding her and swaying gently while she looks up at him with shining eyes and a stunning smile.

It is falling in love with her all over again. She has no tiara, but he makes her a crown of daisies as they walk back to their rented cabin, and makes out with her against the brick wall for at least five minutes before managing to fumble them inside.

"I feel free," she whispers to him afterwards, curled up in his arms, and he thinks of birds in summer that always leave come fall.

On their last day, they visit his sheriff station, because she insists, and he watches her walk around his life curiously, touching phones and dusty shelves, finally pausing to jump up on his desk.

"Sheriff Nolan," she says, tilting her head at him.

"Not much to do," he says. "Most crimes involve stolen sheep or vegetables, the occasional drunk idiot breaking windows and two warring farmers cutting down each other's apples trees."

She smiles. "You do your job well, though. I can tell."

"I try," he simply says, and she smiles knowingly.

"Sheriff Nolan," she repeats, seeming to enjoy the sound of that. "Ever arrested a princess?"

He swallows at the look on her face. "Not yet."

"About time, then," she says, and he can only nod. Oh yes. High time.

(Arresting a princess involves a lot of kissing, creative uses of handcuffs, sex on his desk, sex in a cell and all through it, the rather enticing knowledge that Mary Margaret Blanchard is in his custody, his, his, his.)

II

He drives them both back to her rented house. They've both been quiet the whole drive, and he isn't quite sure what she's thinking, but he is utterly, utterly miserable.

He's had eight weeks with her tomorrow. Eight wonderful, wonderful weeks, and now, summer is over, and Mary Margaret's flight of freedom has come to an end and his days as bodyguard are over.

They walk into the quiet house together, hands entwined, and he pauses in the kitchen, embracing her.

"Mary Margaret..." he begins.

"Don't," she says. "Don't tell me it's over. Don't."

He closes his eyes. He should. He really, really should, but because it won't be any easier tomorrow. But one more stolen night with Mary Margaret Blanchard, even though he's had seven weeks and six days, that is impossible to resist.

So he kisses her, feeling her body press against him in a way that is just right, fitting, perfect, and always will be, he knows now.

He makes love to her slowly, as lovingly as he can, committing every detail, every second to memory. He wants to remember what it feels like to kiss her, caress her, have her in his arms, be inside her, be joined, be actually, royally fucked by the princess he loves very, very much.

II

He's already dressed when she wakes at dawn, and she just watches him with a guarded expression and he kneels down by the bed.

"Charming..." she says, and he swallows at the tone of her voice.

"I just want you to know that I love you," he says, and her eyes widen. "I will always love you."

"I..." she begins, and he kisses her. He knows she loves him too, but he can't bear to hear it. Not now. He is barely able to walk away from her as it is, and hearing it... No.

"I love you," he says again, against her lips. "Goodbye, Mary Margaret Blanchard."

She says nothing as he walks away, and the last thing he hears of her is a shuddering exhale.

II

He spends a week being utterly, utterly miserable.

The King has paid him handsomely, but he returns the whole sum without comment. He can't accept pay for... He can't.

He misses her. He misses her laughter, her teasing remarks, her dancing, her love for birds, her kisses, her. It feels like a physical ache, or perhaps like trying to kick an addiction by going cold turkey.

He sees her on television, greeting foreign dignitaries in pale green dress, every inch a princess. Except along with her tiara and diamonds, she wears a simple silver necklace with a bird, the one he gave her.

He misses her, and loves her, and the days without her feel dreary, like winter after summer.

His mother shows up at the station for lunch one day, and when he walks over to give her a kiss on the cheek, she smacks his chest.

"Stop moping and start acting," she tells him sternly, and he looks confused at her. "The girl."

"There is no..." he begins, and his mother gives him that look, the look at always makes him feel five years old again. "She's a princess, mom."

"She's a girl like any other," his mothers says firmly.

"But I'm just..." he begins, and his mother touches his cheek softly.

"My beautiful boy, you have never been 'just'. I know your girl. She sees that. Why don't you?"

II

Why don't you, he thinks, straightening his tie the following day. He isn't sure exactly why or when he started thinking of himself as just. Perhaps it was the way James always seemed to shine brighter, and he was just David. Perhaps it was his father always chose the alcohol first, and they were just not enough to stop drinking. Perhaps it just became a habit.

But his mom is right. Mary Margaret doesn't see just David Nolan. She sees all of David Nolan, and impossibly, wonderfully, loves him.

"Nolan," King Leopold says, striding into the room as regally as only a king knows how. "Sorry I'm late. The visiting prince wanted to see our library. Now, what did you want to see me about? I was surprised when you requested a personal meeting. Is it about the payment? I heard you returned it."

David swallows, and swallows again. Right. This is a democratic age, and he can't be beheaded in this day and age. Probably.

"I've fallen in love with your daughter, Your Majesty," he says, and the king pauses, hand still reaching for the whiskey. "I know I'm not the kind of man you would want for your daughter, but..."

The King lets out a bellowing laugh, clapping David on the back. "Oh, Nolan. You were the best captain I've ever known. You stuck up for your soldiers, you were always honest and you risked your life for a fellow soldier just as easily as a King. Why the hell wouldn't you be the kind of man I'd want for my daughter?"

David blinks, feeling as if his world has just gone off the rails. "She's a princess..."

"What the hell is this, the 14th century?" King Leopold says sternly, but there is a twinkle in his eyes. "Besides, my daughter has already informed me she will marry no one but you. You'll find she is quite, quite stubborn when she wants something, and she wants to marry you."

David feels quite dizzy, but he manages to string together words for a sentence. "I want to marry her."

"Good," the King says, smiling broadly. "Do you know how many princes she has turned down, how many men I've introduced her to? Do you know how hard I've tried to find love for her? Finally. I had a good feeling about you."

"What," David says, accepting the glass the King is offering him.

"Well, I did know you would be the perfect bodyguard for her," the King says, musing. "You would keep her safe but let her do what she wanted. You would protect her, not restrict her. Let her fly, as it were, and fly with her. But I admit I thought maybe, maybe David Nolan would be right for my princess. Cheers!"

"Cheers," David says automatically, meeting the King's toast. He feels dazed, but he manages to take a small sip as the King stares at him. "Where is Mary Margaret?"

"Oh, that," the King says fondly. "I believe she's gone to propose to you."

Of course, David thinks fondly, and can't help but smile. His stubborn, modern, princess, gone to propose to her former bodyguard, now sheriff and occasional sheep farmer.

Rather a modern fairy tale.

II

It is late by the time he makes it to his home. From calling his mother, he has learned that Mary Margaret Blanchard came by his mother's and asked for his hand in marriage, and after being given enthusiastic encouragement, was given the key to his small country house.

The yellow bug is parked outside, and he smiles at the sight of it.

He finds her asleep in bedroom, dressed in the simple blue dress she wore to the dance, wearing the necklace he gave her and nothing else. On the bedside table is a book and a crown of daisies she's clearly made, and a key.

He knees by the bed, looking at her peaceful, sleeping face. His Mary Margaret. His wonderful, wonderful Mary Margaret.

He leans forward and kisses her awake, as a prince in a fairy tale would. After a few moments she stirs, and he pulls back to gaze at her.

"Hello, Mary Margaret," he says, touching her nose.

"Hello, David Nolan," she echoes, blinking. "What time is it?"

"Late," he says. "Sorry I wasn't here."

"I didn't mind waiting," she murmurs. She bites her lip, then sits up. He remains where he is, gazing lovingly up at her. "Okay. Okay. Charming..."

"Mary Margaret..." he begins, and she puts her hand against his lips.

"Don't," she tells him sternly. "Don't tell me you're just David Nolan and I'm a princess. Don't."

"Okay," he agrees and she gives him a suspicious look. "What else?"

"Don't tell me goodbye ever again," she goes on. "Don't ever let me go."

"Okay," he agrees again. She narrows her eyes at him.

"Don't tell me I can't love you."

"Okay."

"Don't stop wanting me. Don't stop loving me. Don't."

"Okay."

"Don't say no to marrying me."

"Okay," he says, and she's clearly very confused by his sudden compliance. "Mary Margaret Blanchard, would you marry me?"

She stares at him as he pulls the ring out from his pocket, holding it up. It is his mother's ring, with its green stone and simple beauty, and he knows Mary Margaret will love it far more than anything studded in diamonds.

"What do you think," she says, her eyes bright. "I was going to propose to you."

He laughs, sliding the ring onto her finger. It fits, of course it does, and he has a second to admire the sight of it on her finger before she pulls him up into a fierce kiss. Kissing her again, properly kissing her, feels like sunlight again after being in the dark, and he sighs happily.

"I love you," he murmurs into the kiss. "I missed you so much."

"Don't tell me that," she says, edging further onto the bed. "Don't. Show me."

He does; twice.

II

It is almost dawn when Mary Margaret stirs slightly in his arms. She is warm and soft against his body, and he relishes in the fact that he will spend the rest of his life like this.

"I love you," she murmurs sleepily.

"Love you too," he says, pressing a kiss against her temple.

"You don't have to do this if you want," she says after a few moments. "Become the actual Prince Charming. Father has cousins who can take the throne. I can become simply Mary Margaret Blanchard, local teacher married to the local sheriff."

He considers her words. "Is that what you want? You always told me you wanted to be free, to fly."

She turns, propping herself up on her elbows.

"Being with you is like flying," she says, smiling at him lovingly. "With you, I feel free to be... Me. I want you. I need you. Everything else is negotiable."

"I love you," he replies, brushing his thumb across her cheek. "All of you, Mary Margaret. The princess too. You are the heir to the kingdom, and you will be a great Queen."

"With you by my side," she stipulates, and he exhales. Him. David Nolan, a prince. It will take some getting used to, but...

"Yes," he says firmly. "With me by your side. David Nolan at your service."

"Not service," she says, tapping his nose. "I will accept nothing less than David Nolan at my side and in my bed, loving me and being loved by me happily ever after."

"A Disney fairy tale?" he jokes, and she grins wickedly at him.

"Only in parts," she says, kissing him.

II

David Nolan marries Princess Mary Margaret Blanchard in a grand wedding that most of the country swoon over, finding the thought of their beloved princess marrying for love utterly romantic. A few princes might have looked less than happy at being guests rather than grooms, but everyone else finds David Nolan quite the Prince Charming in his own way and more than worthy of their princess.

There is no doubt it is a happy marriage either, with the prince and princess always dancing together at balls and being caught more than once stealing kisses in a corner or a limo.

And no one is too scandalized when the firstborn arrives less than nine months after the wedding. It's a modern fairy tale, after all.

Don't think otherwise.

FIN