Wedding bells tolled and a lost, blind-folded princess stuck her arms out into the air as she swerved alone in the deserted hall. At a distance, she could here the guests mingling in the reception antechamber.
"Darien?" She stopped. "Where'd you go?"
When no one answered, she cried in outrage. "You tie me up and take me outside away from all my friends and family to leave me stranded, so that you can go have fun by yourself. Well, Mister, when I get my hands on you, you'll wish…" Serena reached over to pull her blindfold off, but a quick hand stopped her abruptly.
"I will wish what, Love?" Darien asked quietly as she reached out and tumbled into him like an infant learning to take her first steps.
"You will wish you never married me!"
"Now, what can my little wife do to me to make me wish for something like that?"
Her hands tightened on the hold of his lapels. "Who told you to leave me here?"
"I was always here," he chuckled and she felt a feather of a kiss alight her cheek. "Besides you were spending too much time with my sister's husband earlier."
"Oh so you think…"
"Not only were you with my brother-in-law too long for my liking, you left me hanging with my parents, seconds after the ceremony and the kiss to run off with your sister's husband. What is so attractive about blonde men?"
"You're very green-eyed, Darien. They are family now and of course I jump at the moment to greet them! I'm going to be seeing you everyday for my entire life now. Them, not so much."
"I'm blue-eyed," he replied.
"Jealousy is really the art of injuring yourself," she breathed in exasperation, loosening her hands on his shoulders. She felt his arms circle her waist.
"Oh!" He interjected thoughtfully.
"Jeez! This is supposed to be the happiest day of my life, but my slow-minded husband is taking it away from me."
"Nice one," he whispered into her ear. "It's only not the happiest day of your life yet, Love, because you aren't wrapped up in our bed sheets. Want to call it a day and start our wedding night a bit early? I didn't know you were so eager." His lulling voice made her legs turn to jelly. She literally had to cling to his tall body to keep her self from tipping over.
"I love it when you blush like that." Warmth filled her body from head to toe as he continued to lull her to numbness, "You're positively the loveliest creature I've ever laid eyes on with your pink shoulders and pink everything."
"I'm in white."
"But you're blushing. That makes you pink."
Serena ducked her head and pulled her body back, bereft of his warmth. "Compliments won't work on me. You'll have to wait 'til the guests leave and our parents retire." She took miniature steps forward, but Darien grabbed her before she could go any further.
"Whoa, Serena! Wrong way! Those are the stairs, leading down to the catacombs…"
She swung her hand out to smack his shoulder and ended up falling over and missing. Darien caught her again, laughing heartily. She screamed over him, "I'm better off physically bruised, then mentally! Let go, you brute!"
"I wasn't the one attempting to hit me." He started tugging her along the corridor again. "Come on, let's not get too excited. I have yet to reveal my surprise to you."
Suddenly her laughter filled the hall extending miles and miles. Her resounding joy, filling the hollow of the home Darien had always felt resentment towards. Now, he only envisioned many of his young children running around in it and Serena joining them at the tail. It was a beautiful image that changed his feelings about the place. Certainly, home was definitely with his true love and everything that they were going shared.
"This better be good," His soul stated sharply, turning her head this way and that.
"Oh yes," he said, suddenly gripping her hand more loosely. Her hand instinctively tightened on his hold and he could not help, but smile down at her even though she could not see his face at all.
Darien brought them to a halt in front of a wooden door.
"I feel like we've taken lots of turns and stairs down. Where are we?" She asked.
"You'll see." He tugged at her blindfold and it came loose. She gazed into his mellow, blue eyes and drowned momentarily in their depths. "I'll show you," he mouthed, not even a sound of the words needed to be heard.
Serena's mouth lifted. "We will live forever through thick and thin together," she repeated the vow they had made to the public during their ceremony. Darien returned her smile with a smile of his own as he took hold of the bronze doorknob. The door creaked on its hinges as he pushed it in. Nothing, but darkness stared straight back at Serena through one gaping abyss of an eye.
"Eep… What's down there?"
"Why don't you go down first?"
"Is this a trick for that prank I pulled on your birthday? Seriously Darien, it wasn't that bad. Please don't make me go down and have you spring scary things like spiders on me. That wouldn't be funny."
"No, no, no… I better get back at you for that—eh, but now I'm not up to that," Darien promised.
Serena tipped her head, evidently still suspicious.
"You doubt me?"
"I don't doubt you! It's just… You don't think I'm that stupid to go down first. You won't even tell me what's down there!"
"Really, Serena. There's nothing dangerous down there."
"Oh yeah! What was the blindfold for? You obviously don't want me to find this place again."
"Actually, I'll be glad to draw you a map if you want. I'll also take you here a couple of times more if it pleases you, so you can remember your way to getting around here. As for the blindfold, I thought it would just be more romantic and exciting to have you clinging to me all the way here."
"Well, you got that!" Serena exclaimed.
"Alright, how 'bout I head down first," he said, reaching into the darkness to touch his hand against the dusty walls. His hand scaled the rough granite until it knocked against a lamp on its hook. He snatched it off the wall and lit the oil lamp with ease by snapping the lighter inside. "Alright," he whispered eerily, "off I go now."
"Careful," she quivered.
He took ten steps down slowly, and then howled in fright halfway down the stairs.
Darien glanced back at her. "That's for scaring me with the snakes on my birthday."
Clutching her pounding heart, Serena glared back at him as she screamed down, "That was totally unnecessary. You nearly scared me to death, Darien!"
"It was an opportunity I couldn't let pass, Love," he shouted back, once he leapt from the last step and landed on the floor. "Now," he spoke, turning to look up the stairwell at her. At first his breath caught as he watched her glowing around the edges from the bright lights in the hall. A halo befell her crown and she looked like an angel princess.
Darien raised his lamp to eye level, so that it sent a staggering yellow ray over each step he had taken to get down there. Serena winked at him, as the light blinded her for a minute. "They're… They're just stairs," she said quietly.
"Good observation, Bright One!"
"You, stop being a smart aleck." Serena hitched up her skirts and took the first hesitant step down. Slowly, she descended, barely breathing, really waiting to hear the sound of the wooden steps to crack and crumble beneath her. Not even Darien would be able to catch her if she fell from that height.
"Watch your step," he cautioned tenderly.
There was a thunderous, sudden snap underneath her as she reached the shuttering tenth step. The sound was like a gunshot and Serena dropped her hands and fumbled the rest of the way down, skipping steps, until she reached Darien at the bottom. Darien had to drop his lamp, to catch her, flying in a whirlwind of skirts and hair towards him. He even had to brace himself at impact almost kicking out the light in the lamp.
"Serena!" His hand cupped her head as the other hand tightened around her shoulders. He felt her trembling like a leaf in the wind as she gasped for air. "It's okay. It was just a noise the stairs made. They're pretty old. They do that when they're unused for as long as they were." She groaned, burying her face deeper into his neck.
Darien pulled her head back to look into her face. "They're still sturdy, don't worry. I wouldn't risk bringing you down here if the stairs were going to give way." He chuckled, still seeing the look of worry in her eyes. Her mouth threatened to form a pout.
"Have I ever told you how adorable you are?"
"Let's see…You've told me countless times I'm beautiful. However, no… You never told me how you think I am adorable."
He kissed her nose lightly. "You're adorable," he breathed, nuzzling her nose affectionately with his nose. "You're beautiful and… adorable…"
She giggled breathlessly, suddenly forgetting the frightening turmoil that had began to brew in the pit of her stomach just a second below her frantically beating heart. "And I do believe you're the greatest man to ever walk into my life, Darien. Never ceasing to make me feel special and… beautiful… Thank you." She kissed his nose and nuzzled him as well. "You're the best."
They stayed in that position for a while before Darien remembered what they had came for in the first place. Waking from his trance, he snatched the lamp up again and walked to the center of the completely pitched black-except for the light of one lamp-antechamber they were in. Serena hung loosely against him, squeezing his free arm with the weightless pressure of her delicate body.
As Serena still clung to him, Darien was reaching for something off to the side. Serena shifted for him to get better access, but when she felt something nudge her side she jumped again. Darien caught her and hissed. The both of them were enveloped in complete darkness as the lamp went out in the whoosh and a clunk of a drop.
"As much as I love the way you fit against me, Serena, I wish you would hold still long enough for me to get this to work…"
"Haven't we been down here long enough? Why can't you just let me see it and then be off again?"
"You bumped into a table, didn't you?"
"It was a table?"
"Yes! Now, help me find that lamp."
The two of them bent down and started feeling the cold, dusty, marble floor. "I found it!" Serena cried, jumping up and lighting their little space up again.
Darien trudged to her and snatched the light from her hand. With his other free hand he caught her hand and tugged her toward the walls. She saw his shadow dipping back and forth towards the wall and then she got it. She realized he was motioning her to look at the wall.
Now, Serena stepped forward and squinted in the dark, but Darien immediately shinned the light over her head.
"What do you see?" Darien asked.
Serena gaped. "A scroll?"
Before Darien could blink, the girl raged on, "Darien, there is no way you brought me down here to show me a scroll! Are you serious? Man, you said you couldn't bring this surprise to me. Are you serious? It's a scroll! A scroll!-Where are you going?"
Darien patted his way to the other side, leaving Serena in partial darkness. A few seconds later, there was a click. A lamp lit in one corner of the room. Then, another, on the other end. Then, the other. One by one they lit up the room with blazing yellow lights.
Serena nearly jumped out of her dress in surprise as her eyes fell over the rows and rows of shelves lining the walls of the circular library they had found. And in each row, scroll after scroll were stacked on top of another. Serena squealed in delight. "Oh! What is this!"
Darien reached for the nearest scroll and walked it to the table that Serena had rammed into earlier. Serena hurried over to him as he unrolled the scroll.
"Hey!" Serena breathed over his shoulder. Her finger trailed a sentence against the yellow sheet. "That's the formula for acne control. You know, this dates way back… Hey… What's this? I never knew this… Do you think it works?" Serena shoved Darien away and hovered over the words.
After a few minutes of standing off to the side and letting his wife skim the scroll, Darien rolled the scroll up again and replaced it. He, then, took another scroll down and rolled it out for Serena. "Look at this one," Darien started, "This stuff shouldn't be too new. It is slightly more recent. No more than a hundred years maybe."
Serena put her hand over the words and looked up at Darien. "I wouldn't have so much time to study now that I'm married to the future king. It's time I consider my responsibilities."
"No, Serena! You'll have time. I found this place for you and I was hoping it would be some sort of refuge…"
"Sometimes you have to sacrifice something for the bigger, common good, Darien. Besides…" She rolled up the scroll and gently placed it back on the shelves… "These things are so outdated. There is so much more to write about."
Serena threw her arms around him. "I think I'm going to write my own book."
"Will it be about your medicines?"
"Yes. And you."
"You heard me…" She started for the stairs. "There is so much to write about now. I've read so many books already and I've learned so much over the years, I think I'm ready to start organizing my work. I'm going to compile my life and remedies in one thick volume. It will never end, Darien, which is the most exciting part. I can't wait to be on a shelf like these men are."
"Then, what about this library? Will you ever come back to it?"
"Maybe, when I'm old, hunched, and worn. Maybe, then, I'll return."
"No, Serena. That will never happen to you."
"Let's not think about it too much," she sighed.
The two of them emerged from the chamber and closed the door behind them.
"I'll just tell someone to take care of the housekeeping. It will always be at your disposal, Serena."
"Thanks, but no thanks. That place gives me the creeps. You expect me to go down there alone when I have time to spare?"
"Yes, I am…" She trailed off, wandering away on her feet.
Two strong arms enveloped her, making her come to a halt. "Don't you worry. I'll protect you."
"I know," she murmured with a smile. She loved the way he held her.
It was a warm feeling. Something like fire rushed through her veins whenever he came in contact with her skin. A sense of eternal security cloaked her when he embraced her.
The fire blew out and was replaced by a cold wind.
Slowly, her hands pushed the arms off from around her.
She twirled around to face him. "Why don't you say that again, dear?"
"I just knew they reminded me of something; Meatballs!"
"I am very, very, very proud of my hairstyle!"
"And my mother and sister have the same thing! Why do I get that name now!"
She touched her head with both her hands. "You are so cruel, Darien!" She stomped angrily.
"Serena!" Darien embraced her affectionately. "Don't take me too seriously, Love. Teasing you is so much fun."
"Oh yeah?" She challenged, a grin appearing over her fury. "Let's get back to the party… Are your boots heavy?"
"They aren't that bad. Took me a while to break them in. They are brand new for the occasion. You know how new shoes feel."
"Good! Try and catch me!" Serena darted off again. "Race me, dear!"
The chase was on. Bright, laughter rippled through the halls and dropped in the ears of some of the maids, who were cleaning in the rooms. It was the echo of their greater future.
This is really my final note for this story. Tears falling….
Have no fear, I'll be back with another one soon!
And by the way, look at all the grammar and spelling mistakes in this story! I'm going to be revising here and there. The story won't change, but the reading might be better for the eyes and the brain. I'll slowly, but steadily post these chapters up on my website and replace the cleaner chapters here on ff. net. So… If any of you ever decide to read Hearts' Remedy again, you might like the fact that I'm actually taking the time to fix it up.
This was my first fanfic and I would like to leave a lasting memory with these words and this story. Thanks for all those reviews. I don't know how far I would have gone without them. They were the foundations to this story. And I mean it literally!
See everyone in the near, near, near future.