A few seconds of bliss passed before the man lifted his head up. "I have something I need to tell you," he said, with a shining light in his eyes which was slightly out of place in the serene landscape.
She pulled back a little, staring into his eyes once more. "Oh?" She murmured. Her brow furrowed slightly and her eyes shimmered with curiosity.
"Yes," he said excitedly. "Let us go to the tree under which we first kissed."
She smiled widely, taking his hand as he raced across to the old oak.
Once there, he told her mysteriously to shut her eyes. He got down on one knee and whispered "You can open your eyes now, mia bella."
Slowly, she opened her eyes. Darren watched the graceful movement admiringly. He adored looking at Belle's eyes. She took a sharp intake of breath and her eyes softened.
"Ooh, Darren!" She muttered, her eyes becoming full.
Darren lowered himself onto one knee and pulled out a small black box from his pocket. He carefully opened it, ensuring that she would see the diamond ring.
"Belle, I have loved you for many years. In that time, I have gotten to know
your wildest dreams and your deepest secrets. In turn, I have told you my darkest fears and grown to trust you with my life. Truly you are the woman I wish to spend my entire life with. Would you do me the glorious honour of becoming my wife?"
She nodded, tears streaming down her face, "Of course, I would want nothing else!" She smiled.
He carefully slid the ring over her ring finger before tenderly kissing the back of her soft, delicate hand. Rising to his feet and holding both of her hands, he told her sincerely "I believe you have made me the happiest man on earth."
He leant in and kissed her, wishing to convey the immense power of his affection for her.
"And you have made me the happiest woman," she replied after breaking their kiss, her head resting on his chest again.
He took advantage of the fact she couldn't see and therefore couldn't preempt him and said "I love you."
"I love you too," she whispered, suddenly falling even more heavily against him, her hand moving to her head.
"Belle?" Darren asked, his tone full of concern. "Are you okay, my love?"
"I just feel a little dizzy, dear. It's probably the shock," she dismissed it with a wave of her hand, still using him for support.
"Okay," he said, though still a little worried. "Let us find somewhere to sit down."
She nodded, holding his hands tightly, so tightly in fact that her grip hurt him slightly. He decided to not to say anything but continued to worry.
"How pale you look," he murmured, though more to himself than to her as he led her over to a swing that hung from a tree nearby. He ensured she sat down and was comfortable before he joined her. "Is there something I could get you? A cup of iced tea? Some water?"
"No, no. You worry so. Just stay with me, please."
"Of course I will," he said, in slight alarm. "Belle, are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine, please Darren, stop your worrying."
"I wouldn't stop worrying if anxiety posed a threat to my health," he said firmly. "I couldn't bear it if there were something wrong and I was just sitting around being useless."
"You're not useless, you never were, never will be!" she protested, shaking her head and sending her hair into a flurry around her.
"Oh," she murmured, putting a hand to her forehead again. "Oh, it's just a
headache, that's all."
"Headaches are not usually accompanied by dizzy spells," Darren said, standing up, his mind made up. "Come, we must go to the doctor."
"It's nothing!" she insisted.
"Belle," he said imploringly. "Let me look after you. Let me be a good fiancé."
"But I... you simply shouldn't have to. Don't worry about me, I'm fine." Just
to prove her point she stood, walking slowly to forward, steadying her steps
as best she could. "See, fine."
Darren looked dubiously but walked to join her. He kissed her cheek, murmuring "Okay. I believe you. But if this happens again, you must tell me."
His tone was stern but the worry was evident in his eyes. He held Belle to him,
saying "I love you. I should like to think I'd die if harm befell you."
"I should hate to think you'd die if harm befell me. I should like to think you'd
look after those I hold dear. Mother and Father would certainly need your
strength to carry them..." she paused, shaking her head in disbelief. "But I simply will not think of it."
Darren began to walk, holding Belle's hand in his, their fingers intertwining in
a glorious way. "No, of course not," he reassured her. "We will have a long
and happy life together and nothing shall come between us." After a pause he
added quietly and a little hesitantly "I can feel that we have done right by being together. The powers that be are smiling on us."
She stopped and looked up at him. "Yes, I feel that way too," she told him, nodding, her lips tracing his softly and weakly.
He pulled away slightly. "Your strength has left you," he murmured. "Belle, ...
maybe you are ill."
"I don't feel ill."
"Sometimes illnesses are secretive things. Like ..." he paused and winced at the example that had come to mind. "Like cancer," he said, barely audibly.
"Not that I think you have cancer," he added hastily. "I'm just worried you're less well than you think."
She shook her head softly. "Please just take me home," she murmured beneath her breath.
"You want to go home?" he asked, surprised. "Were we not going to spend the day together?"
"I'd like to rest, that's all. I'm sorry. I'd love nothing more than to spend the day with you. You may come home with me..."
"I will," he assented. He led her to her house, holding her gently as if she were some precious, fragile object in danger of breaking at any time.
She rubbed her eyes tiredly and grasped tightly onto his arm.
He looked at her and considered for a moment before stopping and lifting her into his arms, ignoring her protests. He carried her to the mansion, let both of them in and closed the door before taking Belle up to her room. Once they arrived, he laid her on her bed and smoothed her hair back from her face.
"I feel so tired, Darren. It wasn't a moment ago I felt like running through the fields."
His brow furrowed. "Are you quite sure I shouldn't call the doctor?"
"If it will put you at ease I will see him."Her response caused him to brighten up slightly.
"It will," he said gratefully. "Shall I call him now?"
"Yes, I fear I won't be awake to see him later."
He ran downstairs and called to Belle's butler, who was well accustomed to serving Darren as well as his mistress. He asked for the doctor to be fetched.
As soon as he had done so, he hurried back to Belle's bedside to sit with her while they awaited the doctor.
She grasped his hand tightly, "I love you, dear."
Her words caused further anxiety in him, although he could not quite place the reason for this. He returned her hand squeeze and said "I love you too."