|Matters of the Heart
Author: The Labyrinths Scribe PM
In pursuit of her own happy ending, Emma all but declares war on Regina and, as a result, begins to unknowingly right the wrongs done to the citizens of Storybrooke and break the curse - but Regina is not going down without a fight.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Fantasy - Emma S. & The Huntsman/Sherif Graham - Chapters: 4 - Words: 12,179 - Reviews: 78 - Favs: 69 - Follows: 187 - Updated: 12-18-11 - Published: 12-12-11 - id: 7631960
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/n: Ouch; major drop in reviews. All the same, the number of people who have added this to their alert list has risen significantly – knowing people are reading makes me happy, too. The pace picks up a bit here as we finally get to see a little more tension – with Graham and Emma, and Emma and Regina.
Thanks to my reviewers: AlexaAres, Arocksprpl2, Malty, Vapor2008, red lighting, Cora Knight, and Lady Elena Bella Petrova.
First fairytale flashback too!
Note: This chapter is unedited apart from a quick read through; it's late. I'll fix the mistakes tomorrow.
Follow me on twitter for regular updates, spoilers, and snippets; to_be_worthy
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter, the Fourth: Not What I Planned
It was a beautiful sunny, summer day in the forest Gamreh. The leaf littered forest floor was finally firm again, after having been reduced to a swamp-like mush during the spring rain season. Had there been any humans occupying the forest, they would have immediately recognized a child's laughter in the empty echo of the area, but there were not. All humans were too terrified to enter the forest in fear of what lurked in the shadows and thus considered the place to be uninhabitable – save one.
One human among the hundreds of thousands of peoples – human, witch, troll, etc,. – considered the forest to be home, and quite safe. His name was Graham, and by the time he was six years old, he had done what no other person had ever dared to do before in the forest of Gamreh: he lived.
The leaves crunched and crackled under the child's bare feet as he ran. There was no path to follow, no signs or markings telling him which way to run, but he didn't need them. Graham knew this forest as well as the animals that inhabited them, for this was his home. It was his mother who chased him now, as all mothers are prone to do when their child runs, and made him laugh.
He could see the field up ahead, could see where the forest met the sunlight, and that his mother was right behind him. He ran faster, determined to get where he was going and ignored his mother's alarmed barks and whimpers. He didn't understand why she was so concerned – he had gone into the village several times before without issue.
The she wolf had all but caught up as she had four legs and he had but two – but he also had a head start. It was by pure chance that the boy tripped and tumbled, head over heels, into the sunlight ridden wheat field. His mother did not follow but whimpered from the shadows of the forest, begging him to come back where it was safe.
He made the sound for food and continued walking towards the village of Clover, dismissing his mother's pleading whines. Graham loved coming into the village, loved seeing people who looked like him and walked like him. The scents and sounds of the human village enchanted him in ways that he couldn't describe to his family, ways they didn't understand.
The village was bustling and teeming with life; it was Market Day. People from the five closest villages traveled to the various towns to see who had the best deals on meat and vegetables, and if those merchants would accept their own wares in trade. Of course, Graham didn't care about any of that – he had no wares to barter, no money with which to buy bobbles, but he didn't need to.
Half the villagers found themselves wary and nervous of this boy, though he was only six years old, but the other half was as warm and welcoming as humans could be. The clothes on his back, the moccasins on his feet, and, sometimes, the food in his belly came from the generosity of the people of this village.
He was taken in every winter by an elderly, kind couple who lived on the edge of the village. The woman's own children had long since grown and left, and her husband was more than happy to have a little tyke running about the house again. They had long since come to accept that Graham would never accept them as his parents – that honor was bestowed on the white and silver she-wolf that could sometimes be seen on the edge of the forest, and her mate – but they treated him like their son none-the-less. They taught him to speak, to read and write, and they gave him his human name.
Graham could not really recall his mother sneaking into the village and leaving him on Jenna Brown's doorstep when he was two years old, but Jenna told the story often enough that he could remember it a little. Jenna always said that his mother was a smart lass who knew what was best for him – which, to Graham's horror, included baths – and had brought him to her because his mother knew she could not care for him so young. Of course, Graham did not know the wolf word for bath, so he couldn't ask her, but he trusted Jenna's judgment in such things – she was a mother herself, after all.
Though Graham was loathe to leave his mother's side, especially since in a few sunsets fall, and then winter, would be upon the land and he would be confined to Jenna's home, he needed to see Jenna. His family was rather unaccustomed to having Graham with them so late in the season, and so had no idea what to do when all the berries had fallen from the bush; he had nothing to eat. He had, of course, tried to eat as his mother did, but he had gotten very sick from it and could not risk it again.
This summer had lasted longer than anticipated, as it was usually the shortest of all the seasons experienced in the kingdom, and the villagers were making the most of it. Graham knocked on the door and waited for Jenna to open the door; he could hear Alexander, Jenna's husband, working 'round the back. Jenna opened the door and greeted him with a warm smile.
"Hello, Graham, a bit hungry are we?"
Graham nodded and shuffled his feet, looking down at the ground. "Yes, Jenna,"
"Oh, don't feel bad lad. There's no shame in needing to eat," She put a comforting arm around his shoulders and pulled him inside.
"But I have nothing to trade!"
"To trade?" Jenna asked as she poured him a bowl of stew. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"That's how things work, isn't it? You trade one good for another, right?"
"Oh, but sweetheart, you're a child! You needn't worry about such things," Jenna chuckled and set the bowl in front of him, kissing his head.
"But I want to help! Is there anything I can do to help Alexander?" Graham was determined to pay his due, determined to do something nice for the couple who had done so much for him.
Jenna, seeing that Graham could not be swayed, paused and looked thoughtful. "Well, eat your stew and I'll go have a chat with Alexander," She said, ruffling his hair. "Mayhap we can find you something to do, little man."
Graham nodded vigorously and began to eat, pleased with the prospect of work. Jenna smiled and exited through the kitchen door; Graham could hear the laughter in her voice as she spoke to Alexander. His hunger was so great, that he all but inhaled the wonderful stew.
Jenna reentered the cottage a moment later with Alexander close behind. She roared when she saw him, and grabbed a cloth from the stove top and wipe his face furiously. He struggled only a little – what wasit with humans and their obsession to be clean?
"Well, boy, Jenna tells me you want to earn your keep,"
Graham stood immediately, his back pin-straight as he stood at attention, his attention held in earnest. "Yes sir!"
"Well, good, then this day will have a happy ending for both of us," Alexander's moustache twitched, fighting a smile at Graham's earnest behavior. "Tonight we will eat well because today, today I am going to teach you how to hunt,"
"…And then Mary said I couldn't do it, but then I did!" Henry finished triumphantly, grinning madly.
"Got a bit of a competitive streak, do you?" Emma asked, amused; she had one too.
"No," Henry said, pausing to think. "It's not that. I just don't like being told I can't do something that someone else can."
Emma resisted the urge to point out that it was more or less the same thing. "I see. So, what else did you do today?"
"Oh, we have a gym class now! I mean, we had one before, but it was basically just teacher supervised recess," He muttered, sounding disgruntled.
"Yeah? What did you do – play basketball or baseball or something?"
"Well, today we played basketball, but Mr. Nolan said he had something special planned for next week," Henry grinned, practically bouncing with excitement.
"Nolan?" Emma stopped walking. "As in, David Nolan?"
"Yup!" Henry chirped, pleased as punch. "The curse is starting to break! Prince Charming and Snow White will be together again in no time,"
Emma jogged to catch up with Henry, who had kept walking. "Did you see them talking or something…?"
"Well, no, but it's only a matter of time, right? The Evil Queen is starting to lose control over her magic – bunches of curses are being broken."
"I thought there was only one curse," Emma said, raising an eyebrow; was he fabricating another curse to keep the story going?
"Well, there's the only one major curse – the one she placed on the kingdom so no happy endings were guaranteed – but she did a bunch of other spells before that. Like the one she put on the Huntsman, when she took his heart,"
"Wait, what?" Emma had heard those words uttered by Graham the night of his…accident.
"Well, yeah. He disobeyed her but, instead of killing him, she chose to punish him in the worst way she could – by taking away his freedom and forcing him to live under her thumb, as a human."
"What do you mean 'as a human'?" Emma asked, curious at how far Henry was going to take this.
"The Huntsman was always said to have been raised by wolves because he hated dealing with humans because they had no respect for animals, and was often accompanied by a wolf whenever he was seen to be hunting. He hated having to do deal with humans. The Evil Queen forced him to be a part of her court, and deal with them on a daily basis."
Emma could understand that, in a way. People were stupid and often fickle – at least animals were reliable and dependable. "So what did you mean about Sheriff Graham?"
"He must have done something she didn't like, disobeyed her. She crushed his heart but he survived – the curse must have been weakened somehow." He shrugged, looking puzzled.
"A curse like that can be weakened?" Emma asked, going with the flow like Archie had suggested. "I mean, actually taking someone's heart seems like a pretty finite way of cursing someone."
"All curses can be broken – either by the way to break the curse, or a loophole."
"Isn't the loophole the way to break the curse?"
"Not exactly. Like, take the Huntsman's curse for example. He could break the curse by taking his heart back, or by relying on the soulmate loophole."
"Soulmate loophole?" Emma asked, a little incredulous. Her ten year old son believed in soulmates?
"It's kind of like the true love's kiss curse breaker. The heart the Evil Queen took from Graham wasn't his real, physical heart – it was just a physical mani-mani-manifestation," Henry struggled with the word before spitting it out, an irritated, slightly embarrassed look coming onto his face. "A physical manifestation of his soul. Every person in the world has a partner who has the other half of their soul. When the twin souls meet, their souls begin the merging process to become one."
"So you think Graham found his soulmate, and that's why he survived the heart attack?"
Henry nodded. "It has to be! He obviously didn't get his heart back, since the Queen crushed it, so he must have met his true love."
Emma couldn't help it; her arms slid around Henry in a huge hug. "Where do you get this stuff?" She asked, laughing as he squirmed in her embrace.
He managed to free himself and smooth down his hair, which stuck out in all directions during the slightly uncharacteristic display of affection from Emma. He gave her a small glare as he straightened his clothes, and sniffed in what Emma was sure he thought to be a very dignified way. "I read," He informed her, continuing the short walk to Archie's.
They stopped outside Archie's office, a little early.
"What's on your mind, kid?" Emma asked Henry, seeing him look her in a thoughtful sort of way.
"You and Sheriff Graham kissed?" He wrinkled his nose slightly.
Emma felt her face go crimson. "Where did you hear that?" This was not something she wanted to discuss with her ten year old son.
"Graham told me. Well, he didn't mean to, but we were talking about the Huntsman and I asked him what happened when all the memories came back."
"Ah," Emma said, very uncomfortable. "Henry, I don't want you thinking about this too much, okay?" For god's sake, please drop it – for both our sakes. "You are the most important thing in my life, and nothing is going to distract me from making sure that I get you back."
"I'm not worried Memma," Henry said, hugging her – it was obvious to him that she was the insecure one. "And for the record, I like him." Henry grinned and walked inside.
So, for an hour at least, Emma had nothing to do. She contemplated going to Granny's for a drink, going home for a nap, and even going to the park just to kill time. What she did wind up doing, was not something she contemplated.
"Ah, Ms. Swan," Mr. Gold approached her, startling her out of her reverie; she hadn't even realized she'd already walked to Granny's.
"Mr. Gold," Emma replied, feeling uneasy; the man set her teeth on edge.
"I'm surprised to see you here. I would have thought that you would have gone to see the Sheriff off."
"What are you talking about?"
"Madame Mayor has made the decision to put Sheriff Graham's suffering to an end. She called everyone so people could have a chance to say goodbye. Have you not heard?"
He knew damn well that no one had called her. "I visited him this morning and he was fine! The charts said he was just heavily medicated."
"According to Dr. Whale, he slipped into a coma when they tried to awaken him after decreased amounts of the dosage over the course of the day. They say he may never wake up. Madame Mayor decided that it would be better if we let him go now, than suffer through, potentially, years of waiting and never knowing."
"When?" Emma asked, urgently. "When is this supposed to happen?"
Mr. Gold looked at his wristwatch. "Twenty minutes, I believe…"
"Excuse me," Emma said, as she began to run. She had to stop this. Regina had taken Graham's rejection too far. Emma had been hurt by a man before, sure, but never badly enough that she would pull the plug if they were in some kind of accident directly after. Emma was out of breath not three blocks into running, and it wasn't because of the exercise. Merely thinking that he was dead took her breath away.
Long after Emma had taken off, Mr. Gold was still standing in front of the restaurant by day, bar by night, watching after her. "Good luck, your highness," He smiled. Everything was going exactly as he planned.
A/n: So, that's it. I do have more written – two more scenes – that were originally going to go in this chapter but I decided that this was a good enough place to end it. Coming up next chapter: Graham's childhood memory (part II), Emma & Regina at the hospital, and Regina and Mary Margaret go head to head.
Add me on twitter! To_be_worthy