Author: Lorelai Pattern PM
AU, post-curse. She is the princess, the elusive daughter of Queen Snow White and King James, and he is just a wild wanderer, a lonely Huntsman with only his wolf brother for companionship.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Emma S. & The Huntsman/Sherif Graham - Chapters: 12 - Words: 38,238 - Reviews: 241 - Favs: 201 - Follows: 365 - Updated: 04-27-13 - Published: 05-31-12 - id: 8170209
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
/|\ Paradise /|\
Emma is already up, eaten, and dressed before dawn the next morning. She is practically storming down the hall towards her parents bed room, and she kicks the door open. It slams against the wall, and her mother and father sit up in bed.
The light from the hallway pours into the bed room. She crosses her arms, and her mother flops back onto the bed with a loud sigh.
"You startled me, Emma." Snow's voice is muffled by her pillow. Her father sits up, cautiously watching her.
"I want you to teach me how to use a bow."
They stare blankly back at her, and she starts to feel nervous, but she doesn't turn away from their confusion. She looks back at them, being careful not to blink. They look at each other, and do that silent communication technique that she wishes she can perfect – her mind goes right back to how the Huntsman and her were just so in sync, and she shuts that thought right down before it can go any farther.
The two of them nod in unison, and her entire body relaxes as she practically skips out of their bedroom, closing the door gently behind her.
She starts off her training with the other knights at the castle, who scoff and laugh at her attempts of sword fighting. She isn't very good with swords, but she soon excels with the bow, much to the shock of the knights.
They're watching her struggle with her technique, and at first she misses the target completely. She reddens slightly at their loud and obnoxious guffaws; she strings an arrow angrily, pulling it back to her ear, her elbow jutting out behind her and almost level with her ear. She's too angry to hear their mocking anymore, and she lets out a slow breath. Her hand releases the arrow, and it flies through the air.
It hits one of the outer rims of the center circle with a satisfying thump.
The knights are silent in astonishment, and she allows a smirk to cross her features as she strings another arrow. This one barely hits the other arrow already imbedded into the target. She finishes her supply of arrows, all of them in one tight circle on the target. She allows herself to plaster a pleased grin across her face, and she reaches to put the bow around her shoulder and –
– What the hell you could have hit me, I never miss, darts, a strange restaurant, You've been avoiding me since last night when you –
She gasps aloud, her hand flying up to cup her forehead. She can feel herself trembling slightly, and she turns and walks out, ignoring the confused stares of the knights. She finally reaches her room and she slams it shut, sinking back against the dark wood, holding her head in her hands.
She is going insane.
Eventually, Emma masters the bow and arrow, and is able to hit a bulls eye on a target from far away. Her parents are impressed, and she is able to convince her father to come into the the forest with her – not just to practice her new found skills, but to walk leisurely. She likes the freedom. Even if she isn't able to go alone, it is better than being trailed by a myriad of guards for her protection.
She brings down several birds with one well placed arrow each. Her father comments on her technique and other suggested ideas which she takes with an open mind, and finds that they work.
She's laughing at one of his jokes when she hears a cut off growl, and the sound of some high-pitched whimpers. Her father automatically draws his sword as she strings an arrow from her quiver, ready to shoot, and they creep together through the undergrowth carefully, avoiding fallen sticks and tree roots. The two burst into a clearing, startling a hunter. At his feet is a dead and half-skinned wolf. Surrounding it is two of its lifeless pups.
"Hey!" Emma snarls as she begins to see red, pulling the string of the armed bow to her cheek.
The startled hunter looks at the two of them, eyes wide as it holds some skin and fur in his hand. He balks at them before turning around and fleeing in panic, crashing through the forest noisily before he disappears from their eye sight.
She's shaking from anger before her father breaks her from her train of thought at his words.
"He killed the she-wolf's pups, too."
All she can think of is the Huntsman's brother and his own emotions at the death of his pack, his only family.
"Slaughtered," She hisses to herself, repeating the Huntsman's words. She is afraid to even look down at the mutilated remains. "for their furs. Murdered for absolutely no reason."
"Those damn poachers," She hears her father mutter. "Completely disregarding the laws..."
She's turning around to look away from the sight that makes her either want to vomit her breakfast and break down and cry, and her eyes meet another pair of brown ones in the woods. She releases her weapon, placing it on the ground as she cautiously walks to the edge of the small clearing, and her gloved hands push back the tall grasses.
It's one wolf pup, whimpering and shivering as it's wide eyes look up at her. Emma releases a sigh as she picks up the brown-furred pup, holding it to her chest for warmth. Her father doesn't question her as she strokes its fur, whispering calmly to the animal as she picks up her fallen bow. The two venture back to the castle, silent the entire way.
Her mother eagerly accepts Emma's seemingly new companion. She is almost amused by the animal, and she feeds the pup scraps from the dinner table, which the pup accepts gratefully as it munches on the rich meat.
She isn't sure what to name the wolf pup. It turns out that the pup is a girl, and for some reason the name Henry attaches itself to her mind. She shakes her head absentmindedly, and she decides on no name at all – she merely calls her new friend and sister wolf little pup, but mostly just Pup.
She's now barely nineteen, and she has mastered the art of sneaking out of the castle without raising the alarms. She slings herself onto her horse, relishing in the feel and freedom of her trousers, Pup running around in excited circles as she begins the canter down a heavily trodden forest.
Pup had grown a lot in a year. Her brown fur lost its soft and downy puppy coat. She is slightly lanky, with long limbs that don't match her body type yet. Emma is amused that her friend is seemingly trapped in the awkward teenage years, the years she remembers with distaste herself.
Emma ties her horse outside the entrance to a fairly large city. Her hand runs over Pup idly as she flicks her hood over her curly blonde hair.
She certainly receives some odd stares because her mysterious wardrobe choices as well as the wolf trailing after her, observing the hectic trade market surrounding them as citizens yell, bargain, and haggle for a wide variety of goods. She's examining fresh produce when a high and young voice interrupts her solitude.
"Excuse me, miss, but may I pet your puppy?"
Emma whips around, searching at her own eye level, but she quickly realizes the voice is from a young girl, swallowed up in an orange leaf patterned traveling cloak, a wicker basket dangling from her hands. She blinks down at her, and finally she squats so she is face to face with the girl. The girl looks wary, dark blonde hair with random braids sliding against her own youthful face as the two stare at each other for a moment.
Emma lifts one of her hands and snaps it. Pup turns away from the butcher stand, where she was sniffing at scraps, and trots over to her, tail wagging.
"Of course you can," Emma smiles.
The girl beams back up at her before turning both hands to cup the wolf's face, fingers scratching pleasantly at the skin.
"What kind of dog is she?" The girl asks, hands running across her pup's fur.
Emma leans forward, voice lowering. "Can I tell you a secret?" The girl nods eagerly in agreement, and she becomes sly, her voice turning almost conspiratorial. "She's a wolf."
The child blinks back at her with an owlish expression, mouth opening to respond when her hazel eyes look behind Emma, and then they brighten up. "Papa!"
"Grace, sweetheart, I hoped you asked this nice lady if you could pet her dog before you –"
Emma had turn around at the voice, straightening to her full height once again, head turning to look at the newcomer, her hair splaying out from behind her hood and curling around her shoulders.
The man is definitely older than her. Wild brown hair falls over his forehead and sticks out at odd angles. He is dressed strangely, with a long burnt orange over coat matched with tight leather pants, mismatching buttons, and an ostentatious purple scarf coiling around his neck. He openly gapes at her, half choking on his spit and previous sentence as he whispers incredulously, "Emma?"
Emma stiffens, her arm reaching around her back and clinging to the bow secured there. She already feels safer clinging to the small wooden weapon. "How do you know my name?" She asks, grateful her voice isn't shaking.
The little girl leaps at her father, and he picks her up, their movements like a well-oiled machine. "Papa, this nice ladies pet is a..." She looks around to see if no one was listening, and whispers loudly, "a wolf!"
"How interesting," The man says blankly, placing his daughter back on her own two feet. She immediately goes back to Pup and pats the top of her head.
"Can we get one, Papa?"
Her father looks slightly panicked, and Emma starts to smirk to herself; obviously he couldn't refuse his daughter anything. She speaks up, capturing the attention of Grace.
"When you're older, Grace," she starts slowly. "wolves find you. No matter what. I saved Pup here from a poacher, and she just... found me one day. Well, we found each other."
Grace looks awestruck, and her father relieved. "Will a wolf find me one day?" she asks.
The left side of Emma's lips quirks up fondly. "Perhaps." She looks away from the sweet little girl, and her stare turns hard on her father. The man notices and swallows nervously as he walks to her. Grace is distracted by Pup, and the man leans down to whisper into her ear.
"Emma, you're not safe here," He scolds, but sounds amused at the same time. "The rebels swarm all around the lower trading districts, you should know that."
She scowls at him, fists clenching, and she demands, "Who are you? Tell me, before I shoot an arrow through your neck!"
He looks confused, a concerned hand wrapped around her upper arm as if to hold her steady. "Emma. You know me. It's Jefferson."
Emma shakes off his hand, hissing out curses only his ears could hear. "Unhand me, stranger!"
He obeys, but his eyes narrow at her. "You don't remember." It isn't a question, more like a statement. His voice is oddly flat.
"What is there to remember, exactly?" She grumbles darkly.
For some bizarre reason, Jefferson looks almost bemused at her moodiness. "There is always something to remember, Emma. You just have to look for it."
She scowls blatantly at his vague advice. "You're insane."
The grin that spreads across his face in return is so familiar. "Some would say I'm even mad." He looks positively delighted by this.
"I do not doubt that for even a moment."
Jefferson's face seems to sober as he walks towards her, pulling the hood of her cloak over her blonde curly locks. She barely hides her flinch from his closeness. "This is serious, Emma, the rebels can never know you are here."
She resists the inner urge to bat away his fingers, but he picks up the hint and pulls away once he is done adjusting her cloak.
"Tell me about the rebels."
His eyes widen, and they flick from his daughter to her rapidly, swallowing nervously. "You mean... your parents haven't told you?"
Emma's face turns to stone. "Obviously not."
Jefferson leans closer to her, and Emma thinks: gods, does this man have any sense of personal space? But that thought is quickly gone when he quietly says, "You've heard of the curse and the Evil Queen, right?"
"Only small strands of information."
"The people..." He sighs, scratching the back of his scalp, eyes narrowing in concentration. "The people who remember their lives in the other world, they're not happy that they are finally back home. They miss their lives there, they actually prefer the modern world. The rebels think that those lives they had were their happy endings."
"But this is the real world!" Emma protests, half of the words flying over her head as she stubbornly clings to the notion that nothing other than her home is the only one that could ever exist.
"A real world," He corrects her, looking extremely amused. His statements sound rehearsed and recorded, as if he has already said them before and is just repeating them again for emphasis. "How arrogant are you to assume that yours is the only one?"
The words are so familiar as they bounce around in her head, and she gasps aloud at the sensation as it flashes behind her eyes, clear enough to be felt but fuzzy enough she can't determine their origin.
"You've said this to me before," She says.
Jefferson nods slowly, head tilting to the left as he watches her.
Emma begins blinking rapidly, her palms becoming slick with sweat. "And the Evil Queen?"
"Ah, the Evil Queen..." Jefferson chuckles darkly, fingers fidgeting at his puffy sleeves. "She is supposedly gone. But if she actually has disappeared, then there would be no rebels who wish to go back to their own happy endings, now would there."
"What do I have to do with any of this?" She whispers.
"That," He pauses dramatically, and his daughter runs over to him giggling, Pup trotting at her heels. He lifts her up and she squeals with delight. "you will have to ask your parents about. Say goodbye to the nice lady and her wolf, Grace."
"Good bye, miss!" Grace pouts, but responds obediently, still clutching to her father. "'Bye wolf!"
"Where are you going?" Emma inquires.
Jefferson swallows, and there is a long pause before he says, "I'm going home to my wife, Alice."
He sounds emotional, but his eyes fill with such indescribable happiness that Emma feels like she is stepping in on a moment hidden behind a curtain, a moment she is not allowed to encroach upon. It takes her several moments to realize that the duo is walking away, and she internally panics.
"But – what will I do?" Emma wants to hit herself for calling after him so desperately.
He looks smug in return, his words sounding like they have been rehearsed over and over as they roll off his tongue. "Get it to work."
Emma watches them as their backs disappear into the crowds, forehead crinkling in confusion at his vague words. Jefferson turns to look over his shoulder, feeling her stare, and he has the audacity to wink at her. Emma blinks rapidly a few times, before she scrunches up her nose as if she smells a bad odor, causing the man to smile wide in an almost manic grin back at her. And then he and his young daughter are gone.
Pup nudges Emma's palm with her cold and wet nose, tongue flicking out against her skin to catch her attention. She looks away from where the father and daughter duo has disappeared, down at her pup's eyes, which were staring back up at her imploringly. Her hand absentmindedly runs over the cloak hanging over her head, checking its position as she turns on her heel, walking in the opposite direction she came from.
She feels cold drops of rain soak through her clothes, and she ducks into an alleyway, hidden and safe from the elements. Pup follows her, taking her time and stretching leisurely in the rain, allowing the water to dribble down into her undercoat.
"It's not my fault if you catch a cold, Pup." Emma chastises slyly. The wolf's ears prick as she makes a comical snort blow out from her muzzle. Others were also seeking refuge in alleys and taverns – the chill and wind was increasing, so Emma makes her way to a rustic inn and combined tavern. She's immediately hit with a sense of déjà vu, and she resists the urge to turn and flee from her last memory of being at a bar.
The room grows quiet as she holds open the door for her canine companion, and she can feel their stares over examining her. They grumble to themselves before turning back to their alcohol, food or partners, chatting quietly. Emma ignores their looks as she sits at the bar, Pup sitting down at her heels.
"Can I get you anything?"
Emma looks up, shaking her head at the gray-haired barkeep. "No, thank you. Just waiting for the storm to lighten up."
The bartender nods and slides a bowl of peanuts towards her. "Well, if you change your mind, just call me over then."
She fidgets with the wooden bowl in her hands. "Much obliged, sir."
Emma is left to her own thoughts for a while, and she feels her despair sink in when the rain only pours down harder, like a continuous sheet. She purposely ignores the mutters and glares sent in her direction. Occasionally, a particularly bold patron would just accidentally kick her stool as they pass by, only to snap at her to watch where she is going. There is a flash of bright white light, and then a loud boom sounds, filling her chest with the bass and thrum of the thunder. Pup, who is half under the counter, jumps slightly at the unnatural sound, only to rest her head on her paws once it passes as if nothing had happened.
A large man slides into the seat next to her, reeking of alcohol, and he slurs, "Better leave, pumpkin, or we'll kill ya like we did to your other friend."
Emma stares at him, completely lost as her eyes search the strangers cold ones, and she finally says, "What the hell are you talking about?"
He laughs, which turns into a wheezy cough, and he leans forward on his elbows. "Those creatures raised by wolves. One of 'em was here not even a half hour ago."
Her hands grow slick with sweat. The Huntsman. She isn't sure how she knows this, but all she understands now is that she does. She breathes out slowly, clenching her hands. "Which way did he go?"
This next laugh is almost maniacal. "My buds and I roughed 'im up a little. He stumbled outta here with his tail in between his legs!"
She seethes in silence, and Pup reacts to the mood, sitting up and snarling, raising the fur along her back. Suddenly, Emma leaps from her position, arms reaching around the mans neck as she smashes his head into the wooden counter. He flails under her, his drunkenness affecting his balance and coordination.
"Did you hurt him?" She hisses into his ear, hand digging into the back of his neck. The slam quiets the entire full bar, and they watch her and Pup warily, but do not interfere.
"Let me go, you stupid whore!" The man thrashes under her weight.
"What did you do?" It's irrational to feel this angry – or scared, she admits to herself reluctantly. She is scared for this stranger, this man who roams the wild alone, this man she doesn't even know.
He sputters, his cheeks turning an odd shade of purple as he tries to chokes out an answer. She waits, but he doesn't answer the question, and he begins to yell even louder than before. Emma growls to herself, and then pushes his head deeper into the wood as she bounces away. The bar is eerily quiet, and she snaps her fingers; Pup gets up and follows her out of the building, shooting dirty glares at anyone who looked at her with hostility in both of their eyes. She hears the commotion behind her from the bar, and she picks up herjogging pace, the wolf trotting after her, claws clicking against the cobble ground.
The rain is freezing, and soon her clothes are almost completely soaked through.
She has to find him.
WELL. No Huntsman in this chapter, but you guys are in for a treat in the next one - plenty of Emma/Huntsman interaction. And maybe some more memory flashes. Well... maybe a lot of memory flashes. Hmm...
Anyway, I'm completely overwhelmed with everyone's response to this story - it makes me a little emotional lol.
Snippet of the next chapter! :
" "What's with the shaking?" Emma grumbles, ignoring the pain from her stiff back as she shifts her position.
She can hear the smirk in his hoarse voice; he is definitely teasing her now. "It's so hard to get your attention."
There it is again, that feeling that they have said something like this before. Something akin to intimacy, a close relationship – hell, something so personal she had never experienced her entire life besides with her family. The Huntsman stiffens in her hold, and she knows that he can feel it too, whatever it was that seems to be haunting the two of them.
The rain seems to pour harder, and Emma sighs. "I have to go home." "
I'm excited about the next chapter... And a little bonus, here's on extra peek with just one sentence:
" "He leaps backwards, away from her and oh it's his heart, he needs to find it because the Evil One is squeezing it, grinding it into powder and mush with her bare hands, she did this, the Queen who takes everything from everyone with no remorse no pity no regrets – "
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