Daphne had never once in her life felt like a princess before meeting Niles Crane.
She’d felt confident, pretty, capable, funny, smart and loved before but she’d never been one of those girls who could safely wrap herself in tulle and lace and believe that she was royalty. She knew her place as a witch instead, as a seer or a wizard who divined and prophesized.
She’d spent most of her childhood frantically attempting to patch up every member of her family. Simon and David had fallen from the roof, Billy and Stephen had gotten in a bar fight, Nigel and Michael were caught skipping school, Reginald had tripped and swallowed his teeth, their dad was missing yet again and their mother refused to leave her room.
She remembered one particular morning she’d lain down on the couch and sobbed as the phone rang again and again and again.
“Answer it, for God’s Sake!” Her mother shouted from down the hall but she couldn’t she just couldn’t lift a hand. The phone and everything else felt impossibly far away, out of her reach.
She heard her mother’s footsteps storming towards her and the loud click of the phone being taken off its base as she answered it, her voice honeyed.
“Hello? Yes, she’s here.” The phone was thrust into her limp hand as her mother sneered down at her. “It’s that boy you’re going ‘round with. Surprised he hasn’t found someone better than a lazy girl like you.”
“I hate you.” Daphne managed, the words dying on her tongue the instant they were spoken.
“Oh really?” Her mother said, suddenly seemingly inhumanely imposing despite the fact that Daphne had grown taller than her that summer (a fact which she was ridiculed for, “No boys will like you looking like that will they? You’re so ungraceful, so unladylike how will you ever-”)
“Well you better enjoy me while you're here, because I won’t be in hell.”
Niles had never known love before he met Daphne Moon.
He knew of familial love, platonic love, and the love of his patients but that ever-illusive romantic love had always slipped between his fingers.
Maris had never loved him and he had never loved her, truly loved her, something he realized the moment he laid eyes on Daphne.
When he was a boy he thought it would be difficult to think about any other woman once he was in love but it was so so easy to think of Daphne, and so so difficult to think of anything else.
So he supposed he was right.
He had loved taking care of Maris. However much it exhausted him to go in and out of hospitals, to draw all the curtains so that she could walk down the hall without the sun shining directly onto her near-translucent skin, escorting her to and directly from parties after she’d over-exerted herself attempting to lift a larger than average spoon, he loved it. He loved feeling needed.
A lot of the time he knew he was being a burden. When he couldn’t go places or eat certain things because of his allergies or when he needed things to be just so or when he began speaking and he could see people start to sigh or roll their eyes or shoot friends a commiserating look. It had never stopped him, but he noticed it.
Daphne didn’t make him feel needed, she certainly didn’t need him for anything. But she made him feel wanted.
She made him feel important not for any other reason than for being there and being himself, being with her.
“Niles, do you think if we met as children we would have been friends?” Niles looked down at his beloved, who was lying on the couch. He was standing above her, which she’d said before made him resemble a bird.
“I don’t think you would have given me the time of day.”
“I would have!” Amused by her indignation Niles leaned against the couch and smiled. He wasn’t quite used to this, this kind of easy teasing flirting.
“You didn’t give me the time of day until you were literally two words away from marrying someone else.”
“That’s not what I mean!” She playfully hit his arm and he giggled nervously. “That’s romantic, we were friends before that.”
“We’re still friends now.” He said, a bit hurriedly as if he was worried she’d forget.
“Are we?” Daphne said, raising an eyebrow.
“I- well I don’t want to presume-”
He paused as she began to shake, laughter wracking her body as she giggled. He smiled despite the knot of concern in his stomach. She was radiant like this, loose and free flowing like a poem. Like so many poems, all in his desk drawer.
“You’re such a worry wart~!” She exclaimed. “Oh, it almost hurts to tease you~”
“Not enough to get you to stop evidently.”
Daphne sat up and wrapped her arms around Niles’ shoulders so that their foreheads were touching. He thought absently about how awful the sensation of someone else’s breath on his skin would normally be and then thought about Daphne’s skin and felt his own heat up.
“I would stop if you told me to.” She honest-to-God purred in his ear.
“Hm.” He murmured, far gone from the current situation. “I don’t think I will.”
Neither of their hearts leapt at the kiss they shared but they sped up together, held hands and sang this is heaven this is heaven this is heaven.