Author: Doormouse PM
It is the season of the Martlet, winter fades to spring and Emma sticks her nose places it doesn't belong while the people of Storybrooke begin to wake from the wicked queen's curse.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold & Belle - Chapters: 6 - Words: 41,956 - Reviews: 47 - Favs: 40 - Follows: 84 - Updated: 04-03-12 - Published: 02-28-12 - id: 7881549
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Throwing my proverbial hat into the fray of Rumpbelle stories. I couldn't give up on the fact that our Emma would not just *drop* something if she thought there was someone in trouble. Better yet that it annoys Regina.
Martlets are an ancient heraldry symbol. They also represent happiness and a restless, traveling nature.
There were many things that Emma Swan was and was not, like any other person. She was a fighter, she was the kind to stand up at the gates of Hell and spit in the devil's eye rather than bow down. But she had learned when not to hear something. To hear it, file it away, and come to it later. Hunting people this sometimes helped, though she would always prefer strapping on a pair of boots, drawing a gun and running headlong after whatever she was heading toward without thought beyond that.
She had come upon the cabin slowly, unsure if startling Mr. Gold would get the hostage (victim?) shot since she knew he had a gun and was quick enough to the draw she bet he could actually use it.
She heard about the mysterious "Her" Mr. Gold refused to name, and though strategy was never really her forte she kept her questions to herself. Gold was the type to plan, to play chess, to think thirty moves ahead. She'd learned that at one of her Foster homes, let them think you're dumb, let them think that you're not a variable that needs to be considered, and then you've got free reign to figure out your own course with all the time in the world to plan it.
She might not have Graham's skill of tracking through the woods, but the daughter that Moe French apparently had was probably not hiding in the woods. Emma feared that at the worst she would find a death certificate and an answer to why Gold had been willing to beat a man to death, she would at least know if Gold were a danger to French or anyone else…more than usual.
"Henry," she asked, looking down at her melting vanilla cone while Henry was tackling a Banana Split now that the sparklers had run down. "Are…" she wasn't even entirely sure why she was asking. She didn't believe that his theory on the fairy tales was anything more than Archie had explained: Henry's way of communicating the best he knew how. But, something deep inside, the little niggling something that had her always knowing trouble was coming a split second before, the flickering spark that had kept her moving, that incessant childishness that still believed in wishes and magic even when she should know better of all people that had made her wish on her birthday candle. "Are there any stories in your book," she managed, licking up a trail of melted vanilla that had reached her hand, "that don't end happily?"
He looked up at her with a furrowed brow and she floundered for a bit, not even sure what she was asking.
"A princess and a prince and they are separated? Or…or she dies?"
"You've been reading too much of the Grimm fairy tales," he chided her with a smile that was far too old for any kid of hers, let alone so young a face. Still he thought for a moment, swirling his spoon through hot fudge and melted ice cream.
"Ariel didn't get a happy ending yet," Henry offered with a shrug.
"Yet? I thought no one here had a happy ending because they had all been stolen," she offered with a little half smile. While he swallowed a bite that was probably too large to be decent her fingers darted out and stole the cherry from the top of his mountain of chocolate. He made a face but continued speaking anyway.
"Some of the stories weren't done when the Queen cast her curse. Snow White and Prince Charming had fallen in love and gotten married, but Cinderella's prince was still missing, and Pinocchio was a real boy but the Little Mermaid hadn't even met her prince yet," Henry explained. "The book told the stories as far as they had gone but the Happy Endings have to be saved for the stories to finish," he said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Emma couldn't remember why she had asked in the first place, but she did learn only suddenly just how much it had hurt not to be allowed to interact with Henry like this all the time. She had almost forgotten how he could speak with enough conviction in his voice that she almost started to believe him.
"Of course, right, which is why we've got to bring them back," she said, crunching into the cone of her ice cream.
"Right," Henry nodded. Then he paused, and it must have been important because an over-sized spoonful of ice cream paused mid-way to his mouth too. "Why?" he asked, and Emma busied herself crunching at the waffle cone rather than answer, because the truth was she wasn't certain.
Why had she wished on that birthday candle so long ago? Why had she agreed to help Graham try to…what, find his heart? Why had she given Gold the chance to ask for help rather than just arresting him right away?
"Something…happened last night that just got me thinking, is all," she said, treading that delicate line between how much she had hated being treated like a child when she was Henry's age, and realizing that she didn't want to expose Henry to the horrors of the real world. Let him fight Evil Queens and curses, but don't let him know about real suffering, and pain, and that kind of relentless agony that doesn't end until you die.
As much as Regina got under her skin and as much as she didn't really want to leave Henry with that woman, Emma Swan knew one thing, and that was she would rather Henry was with Regina than in the Foster System. She remembered the good homes that were always over-crowded so you never got noticed anyway, and the bad homes where you were a meal ticket. She remembered Karl Weathers who used to assign the kids chores and then sit on the couch and bet on sports, and Sally who had been two years older but always used to tell stories about kitchen maids who became princesses.
She remembered a diner in the middle of nowhere. She remembered being so alone and so scared and so very pregnant and knowing her foster parents weren't going to come bail her out this time.
"The Little Mermaid story hadn't even started yet," Henry said, as though he could sense her discomfort without knowing the cause and wanted to make it better. And he knew already Emma wasn't one to talk about her feelings. "The queen had gone to Rumpelstiltskin for a curse, but Ariel didn't even know her prince. And Cinderella's prince went missing before—" he paused, this time with the spoon hanging forgotten out of his mouth. "Cinderella's prince had been missing, he went missing when she tried to get out of her deal with Rumpelstiltskin! That's why they weren't together here."
"But Snow White and her prince aren't together, isn't that part of the curse?" Emma asked, liking this topic more than thinking about Henry in the Foster System, reaching eighteen and being kicked out on his ear that day whether he knew how to take care of himself or not.
Henry made a face, as though he hadn't considered this, but she liked that about him. Things like this were obstacles to be overcome, and they never kept him down for long.
"Well, but they were still together, Mary Margret would bring him flowers, and they're together now—" for a horrible moment Emma thought Henry knew of the affair that had somehow remained a secret even to this point, "even if he's with that other girl, they talk and have coffee and are friends," she hid her sigh of relief by biting the bottom off her cone and slurping noisily at the melted ice cream, just to make Henry laugh.
He did and then continued, "But Cinderella, Ashley and her prince weren't even allowed to see each other, they were kept apart."
"Couldn't that be a part of the curse," she asked.
"I guess," Henry admitted making a face, "but I don't think so, see," he grinned and Emma noticed a smear of chocolate on his cheek and realized that whatever happened, this, this innocence and wonder and joy were why she had given Henry up. "You're smart, that's why we need you for Operation Cobra, you think of things I haven't."
She smiled and turned back to her ice cream in silence.
"Which must mean that Ariel and her Prince don't know each other," he frowned, "that makes things harder, and we fixed Cinderella, and…Hansel and Gretel we fixed, so that leaves," he bit his lip, thoughtfully and Emma watched the fuzzy grey expanse of the sky. It had snowed the night before, and warmed just enough to turn to rain; this winter hadn't been bad at all. It had been grey and dreary, but there were no blizzards, and even when it was cold it was mild for Maine.
She had hoped it would snow enough to give Henry a proper winter, with snowballs and snowmen and mugs of hot cocoa with cinnamon. But even today though it was brisk and the sky was uniformly grey there wasn't that scent or the anticipation that seemed to come with impending snow.
"—was locked away in a tower and forgotten so we should work on finding her. But where do you find a tower to lock someone in in the real world?"
"What?" she asked, coming back to reality.
"A tower, if you're here and not in the fairy tale world, where would you lock up someone who is trapped in a tower?"
"Uh, you mean like Rapunzel?" Emma asked, wishing she had paid more attention when Sally had talked endlessly about princesses and fairy tales.
"Oh we have to find her too," Henry made that impending challenge face again and Emma wondered if that's how Regina looked right before she tried to thwart someone. "No, Belle, when she left the Beast's castle she was locked away in a tower."
"Don't you have that backwards kid?" Emma asked, glancing at the clock on the wall and realizing that her time was almost up. She stood, tugging on his coat and telling him to get going or they were going to be late.
"No, she went to the beast's castle and then when she tried to break the curse he sent her away, only her father didn't believe her that she'd been freed. He thought that the beast would never ever let her go and she must have escaped. And he was worried that the beast would come after them if they harbored her."
"Oh," Emma should have known from how the Snow White story went that these weren't the normal fairy tales anyway. "Right, uh, well, what about prison?"
"Nooo," Henry sighed, smiling, "that's like a dungeon, we want a tower, just a place to put someone when you want to forget about them completely. But where they'll be taken care of," he explained as they walked down the street.
They turned onto the block with the station just as Regina was leaving, and she narrowed her eyes at them and glanced at her watch before turning away and waiting where she was, tapping one foot on the chilled pavement.
"I had fun Emma," Henry said with that crooked smile and then he was off running towards Regina and Emma was left with a sad smile on her face and a soft voice in the back of her mind asking where she would hide someone away in a tower in a place like Storybrooke.
Gold was where she had left him, seated on the little cot pushed against the side of the wall and away from the bars of the cell, his head down and his hands between his knees as he turned something over and over with trembling fingers.
"Have a good talk?" she asked, shedding her coat and hanging it up.
"I see you neglected to bring me any ice cream," he chided as she walked over to the bars and looked in at him.
"A teacup?" she asked and hastily—too late—he cupped his hands around it, mostly hiding it from her sight. "Is that what was missing?" she asked, leaning against the bars and raising an eyebrow even though he refused to look at her. "You not answering me doesn't stop me asking questions, it just makes me more determined to know," she warned him conversationally as she headed back to her desk. "Or did you and Regina have a tea party while I was gone?" she asked, propping up her feet on the desk.
"In case it had escaped your notice, I am no more a friend of Regina's than you are," he told her darkly, and she could hear the seething anger under his words, and knew that she wasn't meant to hear it. He was usually far better at keeping his emotions under wraps, and whatever he and the Mayor had discussed had clearly riled him.
And now he turned the cup over and over like it was a charm, or a talisman. Tabitha, the mother in one of her homes, had been religious, and constantly worrying a Rosary whenever Emma w as in trouble; which was often. Emma wondered if the cup had belonged to Moe's daughter and just what the story was there.
Emma hated mysteries. She liked solving them but that was because she hated them. She hated loose ends just lying there forgotten, she hated the unknown, she hated not knowing in general. It was a wonder she hadn't gone farther in school considering how much she hated not knowing things, any things.
She was also inclined to think that whoever this Her was, this daughter of Moe French, she was alive, and in trouble. "You must really care for her," Emma tried casually.
He didn't even need to speak, she knew it had been a poor tactic the minute his head snapped up and his grip tightened on the cup. "Do not think that because I would rather see you in power than another puppet of Regina's, that that somehow makes us friends."
"Well," subtly was not her forte, but she knew how to bite back, "It has been a long time since I had someone who could braid my hair while we talked about boys," she snapped, standing in one swift, smooth motion and storming over to the cell.
He looked back down to his teacup, which she could now see had a chip out of it about the size of his thumb. "Look, Gold, I don't know if you think you're above it, or you really don't see it, but you nearly beat Moe French to death and probably would have if I hadn't've gotten there. And the best reason you can give me is because he stole from you, which doesn't look good to a Jury."
"This is not going to go to court. He is far too terrified of me to press charges," he said darkly, narrowing his eyes at the floor.
"For the assault maybe," she told him, pulling out the only ace she had, "but kidnapping and loansharking certainly are."
"Are you threatening me Miss Swan?" he asked, turning to look up at her.
"Sheriff Swan," she corrected with a dangerous growl in her voice.
"Sheriff Swan," he amended. "I am licensed by the government to offer borrowers money who cannot qualify for loans through more…" he took a deep breath in through his teeth with a hiss of a noise, "more mainstream sources."
"You kidnapped Moe French, and he's in the hospital."
"It is less than he deserved," Gold drawled.
"Then explain to me, and I can help you!" she fairly snarled in her frustration, and in the blink of an eye he was on his feet and one hand was gripping the bars between them. He had moved faster than she could follow, and certainly faster than he should have been able to move considering how heavily he normally relied on his cane. But in the grand scheme of things that Gold did which confused her, this didn't even rank the top ten.
"You can't help me," he assured her darkly, and it had to be her imagination but the temperature in the room seemed to drop twenty degrees.
"Not if you won't let me, no," she sighed finally, backing away from the bars and then turning and returning to her office. She couldn't help him if he was going to be a belligerent ass about it, but she could certainly try and help the mysterious lost daughter.
And yes, a part of her was looking forward to a chance to see beneath the armor of fine suits and mystery that Gold always seemed to wear, to just once shake that unflappable exterior that made him seem like, rather than thinking he was above everyone, that he actually was.
County Records was her first stop, and she checked the birth records first, figuring it would save her a lot of time in the long run to make sure that Moe actually had a daughter, it also would give her a name to work with. Mary Margaret had offered to help after class—they really were having a science fair and she was going to be there as a judge and helping the children set up their displays—but Emma wanted to get as much done as possible. Graham had been right, all those ages ago, very little happened in the little town. Other than strangers crashing into signs and Mr. Gold being robbed. And she absolutely hated sitting still. There was nothing to do in the office, and she could only patrol the town so much before she felt ridiculous for wasting gas.
Plus, she figured, if she did find anything this counted as an investigation.
She shed her coat and then her sweater in the oppressive heat of the little closet that served as a records room. This wasn't like when she and Sidney had looked into the appropriation of funds by Regina, these were old papers, yellowed with their age and dusty. No one ever came to look them over and so they had been moved back into the historical archives.
Judging by the way the clerk's key had stuck in the lock and the musty smell in the air, she was the first person to come in here since the room had gotten too full to hold anymore and they had moved to fill another.
She was used to hunting people in the age of computers and digitized files, and she was embarrassed to admit how long it took her to figure out how to do something with paper and filing cabinets that she could have done in twenty seconds on Google. Of course she found out that Regina didn't support the decision to digitize the old records, wanting to wait until there was more money in the city budget or some nonsense.
Emma huffed angrily and yanked hard, surprised when the whole filing cabinet rocked before the drawer became unstuck. She fumbled a bit but managed to keep everything where it was and nothing spilled.
She did hear something skitter and squeak behind the case as she muscled it back into place and she closed her eyes for a moment. Emma could handle people shooting at her and getting into fights with guys twice her size, she could handle a lot of things that would send most people screaming. But rats were the stuff of her nightmares. She wasn't even sure why, just that she was praying that she had imagined that sound and there wasn't anything of the furred and four-legged variety running around in here with her.
"And if there is," she spoke aloud, "you just stay on your side of the room and I'll stay on mine," she heard another skitter and made a face. "I'm armed," she told the monsters lurking out of her range of vision, like they could somehow understand her.
Reluctantly she flopped back down on the footstool that was doubling as her chair and started leafing through the papers again. She had never been a fan of dust or the smell of aged paper, it always made her nose itch, but she pushed that to the back of her mind and remembered that brief unguarded moment when she caught Gold's hand and he had looked at her with all that agony fresh in his eyes.
It was almost enough to make her think he was a good guy, or at least a sympathetic one.
Her eyes were watering from the dust and nearly crossed from everything she had managed to find—nothing seemed to be organized with any sort of system in mind, but rather by someone safe in the knowledge that they were paid to do a job no one would ever look back on to see if it was right or wrong.
She had found photos from the founding of the town mixed into a file that was supposed to be the property deeds for mobile carts—like the flower shop Mr. French kept—and she had found reports on a controlled burn to clear away brush one dry summer where there were supposed to be records of county taxes.
Two things in life are certain, she remembered hearing somewhere, death and taxes.
"Apparently not records of those taxes though," she grumbled out loud.
She did find a wedding certificate for Moe French and someone named Josette Cocteau which was heartening enough to keep her hopes up that there was something to be found in this mess of files. She had a small sandwich and a bottle of water from a vending machine in the lobby of the Courthouse and then promptly returned to her work. She probably should have done a quick patrol of the town, or at least the main roads, but a part of her was afraid that if she left she'd lose the thread she had managed to find.
It was chance that she even noticed a piece of paper slipped out of the back of a file folder and hit the ground, sliding under one of the cabinets. To prevent damage to the files in the case of flooding, all the metal cabinets were raised at least three inches off the floor to varying degrees by bricks and wedges of questionable looking wood.
Because of this slap-dash method and the scritching noises she still distantly heard at times Emma stared at the floor for a long moment before bending down and pressing her cheek to the floor hoping the paper wasn't too far under.
All she saw was a knot of cobwebs, and a dead beetle as long as her thumb that made her shudder even though she'd never been particularly scared of bugs before.
"Ah hell," she swore under her breath, grabbing an empty manila folder and reaching under the cabinet with it. She saw something move out of her way, dashing from cabinet to cabinet, and found herself torn wishing it was a bug rather than a rat and eyeing that horrifyingly large beetle again.
A dead cricket and several large dust bunnies came out along with the paper and she was ready to swear again at a useless and vile endeavor until she noticed the paper was a birth certificate, and it had been in a folder labeled "Fei-Fri".
Emma actually found herself holding her breath as she lifted the paper and shook it once before unfolding it. Marie French, born to parents Moe and Josette French twenty-three years ago with attending physician Doctor Brown. She laughed breathlessly and giddily; there was a daughter. And now she had enough names that she could leave this horrible place and give the Storybrooke library a chance. If Marie had died, even as an infant a few days later it would be in the paper.
There was, on the distant edge of the kingdom which was ruled over—for now—by good King George, a small Barony. It was poor, and the manor was pressed up against the marshes formed by the Tigraal and Katsiss rivers. It should be very fertile land, but the land was too wet, more of a swamp than anything and so very few useful plants could be grown.
The area supported itself—mostly—with enough to spar for them to consider themselves better off than other areas of the kingdom. Their main export was parchment made from the papyrus that grew so abundantly one could barely see the water for the reeds. There was even a saying in the little corner of the land that went: Seeing water through the reeds and which was used when someone saw something unbelievable.
When the Ogre Wars started they were hit especially hard. The dark soot and ash that filled the sky darkened it, bringing a chill to the air even with the scent of the fire and the crops dwindled in temperatures they could not stand. The baron's manor was hit the first by a raiding force. The ogres were eventually driven back, but the manor was irrevocably ruined, few of the glass windows remained intact and much of the wealth had been carted out by ogres—not for any use by their forces but rather to destroy it so others could not have it—leaving the baron living as meanly as his people, even though his still occupied his manor as a sign of strength that they would not be beaten back.
There were whispers of distrust and rebellion though, they people were scared and even if the invaders were kept out, and the soldiers of King George never quartered in their village the people wondered what would be left of their town.
With the reeds dying faster than they were grown, the people wondered why they should not just abandon their soggy spit of land and find someplace else to settle, further inland where it was rumored the wars did not reach.
It was said, always by a friend of a friend whose cousin lived there and never first hand, that the kingdom Midas ruled was untouched yet, even though his would soon merge with King George's. And King Leopold's kingdom—though said to be ruled by a wicked sorceress who devoured the hearts of children—was supposedly untouched.
Some said this was due to the queen's power and the fact that the ogres feared her. Others said that that was of course just rumor and it was the ridge of mountains around them providing geological isolation.
But, when the ash in the skies parted and revealed the red fires of war and the ogres were known to be only a fortnight away something miraculous happened. The baron, in his desperation called upon the demon Rumpelstiltskin to save them, which the people were not sure how to look upon. Rumpelstiltskin was a demon, but he had called on the monster to help them, and that he was willing to risk so much in their defense seemed to be more honorable than foolish.
When the story spread that the demon had refused payments of gold, and asked instead for the baron's young daughter—a kind, sweet gentle girl who was adored by all that knew her, even if she was odd enough to always come out with the nobles to watch the first harvest of the season and rather than watch she wanted to help!-people could hardly believe she was really gone. They could believe that she would sacrifice herself for them, and they longed to have her returned, but they mourned her loss. And when they skies turned blue and the armies drew farther and farther away and the reeds sprang to life like magic people placed candles and flowers at the front gate of the manor, offerings and tokens reminiscent of their local traditions in the event of a funeral. The baron even set a boat afloat in the swamps with one of her dresses and lit it on fire, a proper burial when one had no body.
They longed for her to return, but they moved on with their lives, not daring to waste the gift she had given them.
And then one day, when the sky was still grey with dawn and not yet pink, a single guard stood at his post and saw a young woman pause at the small shrine they had left out to their lost daughter—for she had become like a daughter to them all—and then cross through the gate and to his post.
He recognized her the moment he laid his old eyes on her and took her straight away to the Baron's rooms even though the man was not even out of bed and his servants—mostly daughters and wives of the reed farmers—were only just beginning to stir.
For months after that morning he would wake in a cold sweat. He would look across his small room to the satchel of silver he had accepted, and he would know sleep would not come back to him.
Finally he packed his things, and left his small room empty, walking off into the pink sky of dawn with the fifteen silver pieces still sitting untouched on his one table, gathering dust.
No one ever heard from him again.
Emma was still in a good mood after she quickly made her rounds and checked in at the station, so she swung by Tony's—the best pizza place Emma had ever found even after spending three months in Chicago—and surprising Mary Margaret.
"You're in a good mood," the other woman laughed as Emma swung in with the pizza held high like a prize.
"I am! I found Her," Emma explained, setting the pizza box on the counter while Mary Margaret busied herself getting glasses from the cabinets and even pulling out a nice bottle of wine.
"Her name is Marie," Emma explained over pizza and wine served, as all great food is, on the floor while the two women lounged around it. "She's twenty-three, if she's still alive."
"She has to be, I would think someone besides Mr. Gold would know about her if she had died," Mary Margaret pointed out.
"That's what I thought," Emma admitted, staring at her slice as though she could find the answers scattered about between the toppings. "But you would think people would have noticed if she'd just vanished one day too."
"She could just have moved, and not had many friends?"
"How often do you see people moving out of Storybrooke?" Emma startled herself by asking, and she shook herself quickly. She was spending too much time listening to Henry's fairy tales if she was even coming that close to believing them.
Mary Margaret just laughed and shook her head. "Good point," she conceded. "So what do you think," she asked, becoming suddenly serious, "her connection is with Mr. Gold in all this? I mean she can't...can't owe him something."
"I—I'm not sure," Emma admitted with a shrug. "I mean, yeah he assaulted Moe French, but you didn't see the way he did it. That was...you don't see...rage like that often."
"Do you think they were...together?" Mary Margaret wondered out loud around a mouthful of pizza.
"That's what my instincts are saying, but...there's got to be at least twenty years difference between them."
"It wouldn't be the first time people with an age-gap fell in love. I mean, historically it was normal, and even today, you see people of varying ages marrying. As long as they're over eighteen and in love isn't it kind of romantic?"
"Well," Emma thought back through her own romantic past. "I mean, I guess I've even dated some older guys, but this is Gold we're talking about."
"Ruby thinks he's sexy, you should hear her talk, she says he's mysterious and dangerous."
"Ruby things everyone is sexy," Emma pointed out, and the two woman dissolved into laughter.
"Okay, I'll admit that," Mary Margaret said through her laughter, "But it's not so odd is it? And it would explain his reaction."
"It would explain his reaction if Moe had done something to her," Emma's voice was soft and serious.
"Do you think she's dead?"
"I don't know," Emma admitted with a heavy sigh as she fell back against a pillow she'd dragged off the couch. "I would think that if he reacted that way because he'd loved her, he wouldn't stop at anything to prevent whatever Moe might have done to her if it were reversible. But I would think that if she had died there'd be more...evidence, I guess?"
"And if you think about it, you'd rather she was dead than still suffering somewhere, waiting to be rescued, but you'd rather she's alive to be saved," Mary Margaret sighed in that wistful way she got sometimes, "and things just get knotted and jumbled."
"I am going to the library tomorrow to look through back-copies of The Mirror," Emma said from her back. "Hey," she sat up, "are you still, uh, whatever you were with Dr. Whale? Because if nothing else the hospital probably keeps better records than the city and-" Emma trailed off at the look on Mary Margaret's face. "That bad huh?"
"Things didn't end...terribly well," she admitted. "But I still know people there from when I volunteered...and now that-" she stumbled and her eyes darted to Emma and then away, "I was thinking about starting volunteering there again, you know now that things have...calmed down a bit."
Emma fought down a heavy sigh and the urge to roll her eyes. She didn't have any say in what—or who—Mary Margaret did and so she'd keep her mouth shut, but she certainly didn't approve of the way things were going. A blind man could see how they cared for each other, but she knew that a guy who refused to make a choice was usually only trying to have his cake and some twinkies too. She would be much happier with them being together if David would decide if he was going to leave Katheryn or not so Mary Margaret at least knew where she stood.
"We'll see what I can find at the library first," Emma said at last as she stood to start cleaning up the few dishes they had used. "And if you decide to volunteer again, see what you can find out as long as you're there."