A/N: Someone once asked me to do an alternate ending for this story because the original ending, admittedly, was just too depressing. I never really thought I'd make one. I thought I've said all I've wanted to say about this story and I thought I've ended it realistically but apparently there's more. This came to me just recently. I suppose you could say this is the "happily ever after" version. Anyway, for those who didn't like the original ending, I hope you'll enjoy this one much better.

Occasionally, there are happy endings too

It took her five whole years to take care of everything she needed to take care of in her life. It wasn't like she really "fixed" everything, so to speak. It was more like she had come to terms with everything she did in the past. She had come to accept that things happened and that there was no way she could actually change them. She had come to accept herself in the process too, and that for her, was the best thing that had happened during the last five years.

It was only fair. After all, to find this "acceptance", she had to give up the best thing that ever happened to her.

Because after everything else, after deciding not to run away anymore, she discovered that she was too late anyway. After deciding to come back for him because, after all, he did promise to wait for her, she discovered that there really was nothing for her to come back to. Nothing but a royal wedding anyway.

It was all over the city. The flags. The banners. Everything spoke of a royal wedding happening in a few days. One could practically taste the tension and anticipation in the air. The mood was supposed to be cheerful. A member of the royal family was getting married after all. But she just couldn't find it in herself to smile. It was painful. Oh-so-very-painful.

She supposed it was only reasonable. After all, even if he did say that he was going to wait, it really wasn't fair of her to hold him to that promise. He was the Crown Prince after all. He had duties. Wasn't that the reason why she didn't accept his proposal in the first place? He couldn't really count on a promise he made when she was but eighteen. It was silly of her to think that the Crown Prince would never forget about some girl he met and supposedly fell in love with five years ago.

Five years. Damn. It had really been a while.

Still, it hurt. No matter how much she tried to convince herself that it was only logical, even beneficial, there was always that irrational part of her brain that refused to accept that he wasn't hers. Perhaps he'd never really been hers in the first place.

So she had no choice but to retrace her footsteps. After all, that was the only thing she could do now. She came here to win him back but apparently, that wouldn't be happening. All she could do now was to say goodbye properly. To let go of everything she had ever held dear in her heart. Perhaps to return his ring. And then move on, like so many others who had their heart broken do.

Her feet brought her first and foremost to the lake at the university where they first met. She sat down on the familiar bench, noting that not much had changed since she left. She wondered where her friends were now. Where Beth was and what Stan was doing. She kind of lost contact with them after her third year away. She didn't plan on it happening. It just sort of happened. She hoped they were happy. They were really good friends to her in the short time that she stayed here.

This was the lake where so many things happened. It was where she first met Andrew, and perhaps where she first fell in love with him too. This was where he proposed as well. Where she turned him down too.

She wondered what would have happened if she had accepted his proposal then. Maybe they would have been married. They would have run away together. Maybe they would have even been happy. But she knew, like so many other fairy tale stories, that it wouldn't have lasted long. Eventually, he'd come to resent her for what he had to give up to be with her.

He was a prince. He could have had the world, but instead he had to give that all up for some girl.

But they could have been happy. They could have lived normal lives. Had kids like normal married couples and spent their days watching bad television and just generally falling more and more in love with each other. It could have been perfect. Maybe she'd never know.

But still, she couldn't bring herself to regret her decision five years ago. She knew she wasn't ready then. Even if she had said yes and trusted her love for Andrew, her inexperience and guilt plus all the baggage Andrew was carrying as well would have resulted in the biggest relationship implosion in history.

After the lake, she passed by Andrew's old place too. She remembered that place all too well. They spent many days there just lazing around, making love, getting to know each other and just being themselves. Andrew loved that place most of all because it was his. It was the place where he could just be Andrew and not the Crown Prince.

As she passed by the place, however, it was obvious that no one has lived there for quite some time. She supposed Andrew moved back to the Great House eventually. After all, he was getting married now. It was just one of those things he had to do. It must have been difficult for him to give up his place.

Perhaps not. Perhaps he wanted to get rid of his memories of her as well. Giving up his place would have been the first thing he did if that was what he wanted.

Eventually, she went back to her hotel, exhausted and drained. She hadn't really decided yet if she was going to stay until the day of the royal wedding itself, which was two days away. On the one hand, she wanted to see it, him, first hand. Maybe it would help her to let go a little more easily. But then again, it would kind of be torture if she does that, wouldn't it?

She fell asleep with memories of her time with Andrew in her head, thoughts of their happiest moments together swirling inside her mind. She didn't know what she expected coming back here. It was part of the healing process, she guessed.

She spent the next day just going about the city, watching the people around her and listening in on other peoples' conversation regarding the royal wedding. Everyone seemed excited and before long, she found herself excited as well. It was hard not to be. So she resolved to stay and see this whole thing through.

After all, not very many people were given the chance to witness a royal wedding in their lifetime. It might not have been her princess fairy tale and she may not have been the commoner-turned-princess, but who cared, really? Andrew was getting married. She owed it to him to be a little happy and supportive as well.

On the day of the wedding itself, she waited patiently in the plaza along with a thousand other people for the Crown Prince to come out of the Great House. She knew that she didn't really have a chance to see him up close from where she was standing, squeezed between several hundred others, but it was the closest she could get to him.

Then suddenly, when the people started cheering, she knew that the royal car containing the royal groom had rolled out. She tried to jump up and down to get a glimpse of even just the car but it was impossible. In the end, she decided to give up. She should have just gone home. It would have been easier. She would have been disappointed, yes, but not this much.

So she decided to walk away. Just walk away from it all and never come back. She had made her peace. It should be enough. She started crying as her feet brought her back to a familiar place. And before long, she found herself back at the lake again. Andrew's ring felt heavy in her pocket. If she was a much stronger person, she would have thrown the ring in the lake the first time she came back here. She had no use for it anymore. And she was pretty sure he wouldn't have wanted it back in the first place.

She pulled it out of her pocket and kissed it. He wanted her to remember their great memories through the ring. It was rather stupid and naïve of her to think that that was possible. Whenever she thought of him, it was impossible to separate the good from the bad. But maybe that was what love really was? The good, the bad and everything else that made up a relationship. Impossible to forget. Hard to destroy.

"Is the seat taken?"

She dropped the ring to the ground and almost fell from the bench in her shock. She couldn't believe it. It was impossible. That couldn't be— But the voice was very, very familiar. She would never forget that voice.

She got to her feet and turned around to look. And there he was, just like the first time, standing there, looking sheepish and determined at the same time. He was smiling hesitantly, so careful, as though one wrong move from him may send her running for the hills.

"W-What—? What are you doing here?" She wondered briefly if maybe she was dreaming. But if she was, then the knowledge of his wedding—which was supposed to be happening a few miles away—shouldn't have been this painful. But then again, what the hell was he doing there?

He smiled then, walking towards her with a purpose. "I come here every day. Every day since you left." He stopped just in front of her, still smiling. "What are you doing here?"

For five years, she had thought of what to tell him if they were to see each other again, how she would explain herself and perhaps try to win him back. But now she felt stupid. She didn't know what to say. She didn't know what to do. Instead, she started to cry. She couldn't help it.

"Hey, don't." Andrew said gently, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. He looked worried, like he didn't know what to do but he desperately wanted to make everything better.

She wiped her eyes with the backs of her hands and said, "You're supposed to be getting married."

That was when his face brightened, like a cloud just lifted and he could see everything clearly. He shook his head with the brightest grin on his face. "Not me." He said simply.

And the full implication of those two words came crashing down upon her. He wasn't getting married. Not him. But then the royal wedding—

He must have seen the question on her face because he quickly said, "It's Alex. She's getting married. Crown Princess found her Prince Charming about two years ago. They're very happy together and very much in love."

"Crown Princess?" She asked, dumbstruck.

"I haven't been the Crown Prince in a long time." He answered, shrugging his shoulders like it was no big deal. "That's why I'm not in the entourage. Father didn't really invite me. We kind of had a falling out."

"Exactly how long?" have you not been the Crown Prince? goes unheard.

"Since you left." He said straightforwardly. "And I've been doing pretty well for myself. I've been working at this company—"

But he didn't get to finish what he wanted to say because she threw herself at him about halfway, kissing him like her life depended on it. And perhaps it did. Maybe she hadn't really been breathing properly for the past five years. Maybe this was it.

Then she pulled back and Andrew was still smiling at her, his arms around her waist. "What took you so long? I've been waiting here every day."

"I'm sorry." It was all she could say anyway.

He shook his head. "Doesn't matter. You're back now, right? For good?"

"If you still want me." She said uncertainly.

Instead of answering though, Andrew kneels down to pick up the ring she dropped a while ago. She expected him to get up and give it back to her but he didn't. Instead, he adjusted himself a little until he was kneeling on one knee and he was holding up the ring to her.

It was a familiar gesture. But she was certain now that her answer would be different.

"Will you say yes now?" His tone was joking, but underneath it all, there was still that same uncertainty and fear, like she would even say no. Not now. Not after all they'd been through.

"Yes, yes. I will, yes." She didn't exactly know what she was agreeing to because he didn't exactly say the words. Maybe she was agreeing to marry him. She didn't care. She was saying yes to all and everything. As it should be.

His smile was the most beautiful smile she had ever seen, like she had just given him the world and everything else that came with it. He got to his feet and slipped the ring on her ring finger before giving her a sound, romantic kiss.

This. This was how it should have been. How it should always be. This was them. Just them. Not titles. No baggage. Just them and their own little world.

She didn't know what had changed, what prompted her to say yes now. Possibly they'd just grown up, that they knew what they wanted now. That after all these years, they still wanted each other. And if that wasn't true love, then maybe nothing was.

It wasn't exactly Cinderella. She didn't get the prince because he wasn't technically a prince anymore. But if she got to have Andrew, then she didn't really give a flying fuck about Cinderella.

"I love you." She whispered.

"Love you, too." Andrew answered. Then his eyes widened, like he just got an idea. "Let's go. We can still catch it if we hurry."

"Catch what?"

Andrew didn't really give her an answer though. Instead, he just dragged her along, back to the plaza where the thousands of people from before were now waiting for the royal parade where the bride and groom, the new Crown Prince and Princess, would be showcased to the world for the first time.

They fought their way through the throng of people in the plaza to get to the front. At first they had to struggle, but when the crowd finally realized that the it was actually the former Crown Prince trying to make his way through, they parted easily, but they started screaming their heads off, cheering happily even though the royal carriage wasn't there yet.

The royal guards noticed though, and when they were finally up front with only the line of royal guards separating them from the main road, they bowed in deference to Andrew. He grinned and shrugged his shoulders. It doesn't matter anymore, the gesture said. I'm not that guy anymore.

He was holding her hand tightly when the bridal carriage finally came into view. There was Alex, looking as beautiful as the morning sunshine with a very good-looking guy beside her. They were holding hands and waving to the people. They looked like they were truly in love. She was happy for them. She really was.

People who find their one, true love are very lucky because not very many people have that. Not very many people find their soulmates. So it's a gift to be treasured. That kind of love is rare.

When the carriage passed in front of them, the royal couple noticed them immediately. It was hard not to, what with the crowd parted around them. Andrew caught his sister's eye and she smiled and winked. And when she saw Rachel standing beside him, her mouth fell open in shock. But then she started laughing and then she gave them a thumbs-up before the carriage passed.

The moment was over and they were both smiling like idiots.

Afterwards, they walked away, leaving the crowd behind them. Life goes on, after all. It was time for them to build their own lives now, to start from scratch. It was a daunting task, sure, but they weren't afraid. They had each other after all. It may never be perfect all the time but, who gave a shit about that?

No matter what happens in the future, it will be perfect for them. That was all that really ever mattered, right?

They walked away together. And someday, in the very, very distant future, they'd come back together as well.


Happy endings do exist.

Even outside of fairy tales.

A/N: Hope you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading!