Author's (very long) note: I'm back with my second WCTH fanfic. My first,"Season 7 Before Season 7", I wrote before the recent Christmas episode and the strange thing is, even just after that one episode I see a lot of things differently! For example, Allie appears a lot older already than I wrote her and there have been some small clues in the Christmas show that I think are important for the upcoming season. So I have been playing with the ideas in my head and finally just decided to write them down (I have also been posting comments on the WCTH fan facebook page (under a different name) and I think my postings are veering into fanfic territory there anyway, so if you have read something there that sounds like something I write here, it's just me again! lol)

Basically what I am going to be doing here is offering up another version of upcoming events on WCTH, picking up a bit after the Christmas episode. There might be some overlap with my first story, or similar themes, but I don't think I'll be using exact chapters (but who knows!). I guess I'm just asking readers to go with the flow with what I'm doing.

Some clues we've been given in the Christmas show that I'll be using (also some mentions about things in cast interviews) possible SPOILER ALERT for anyone not up on they are...

- I think the compass Bill gave to Elizabeth for Little Jack is important and I'll be using it in my story

- Kevin McGarry mentioned in an interview that there might be a connection between Nathan and Jack, so I have imagined one and will be writing it

- another interview mentioned Nathan's father coming to Hope Valley, so I will be writing that

- Allie looks a lot older now, so I will (hopefully) be writing her older with some issues she might be having more in line with her age

- and then a few surprises of my own :)

I'm also going to concentrate predominately on the Elizabeth and Nathan story. I tried juggling the other characters in my other story and it is really difficult! Kudos to the actual show writers, but for me this time I will focus on just the one couple. Of course the other characters will appear but they won't be as developed.

So if you're game, and if you like the E/N pairing, please come along on my story. I never really got to get to the fun stuff with them in my other story and I want to now. If you're not an E/N fan, please choose another story to read, there are so many here in the forum for all fans to enjoy, and negative comments because you dislike the pairing aren't really helpful to me the writer or other fans who want to read the story.

Anyway, thank you if you've read this far, and I hope you enjoy my story! As always, the show and characters belong to Crown Media and I am only borrowing them for entertainment purposes.


And the Heart is Brave

Chapter 1

Elizabeth Thornton placed the stack of small folded shirts inside the bureau drawer in her son's room. Her hand brushed past a small box carefully placed inside a folded hankerchief that lay inside the drawer and she paused a moment from her chore to retrieve the item. She placed the box on top of the bureau and peeled back the folds of cloth, lifting the lid off the box and staring down at the compass inside.

Bill Avery had given it to her many months ago. Well, he'd given it to Little Jack really. It was his, a memento of his father, the man he'd never get to meet, a token meant to illustrate that Little Jack's father would never be far away and that even though he was gone he would somehow watch over his son. It was a sweet and sentimental gesture that Bill had made and the corner of Elizabeth's mouth lifted in a small tender smile as she lifted the compass from the box and brushed her thumb across its surface, remembering the moment.

Soon she let out a sigh and placed the compass back into its box and refolded the cloth around it, placing it back into the drawer and closing it. It was Saturday, a busy day to catch up on housework, the laundry and so much more that she was unable to do throughout the week and she had little time right now for sentimental indulgences. She'd even had Laura, her nanny, come by today to help out, even though it was outside of her normal Monday to Friday hours, to hopefully get more accomplished in this one day. She knew that Laura and her family could use the extra money and Elizabeth knew for certain she could use the extra help.

As Elizabeth descended the stairs from her son's room, she smiled as she spotted Laura wiping down the table, then her eyes scanned the room, looking for her son. Little Jack was at the front window, standing with his hands hanging from the sill, barely high enough to see over it and through the glass. His gaze was intently fixed outside.

"What is Little Jack doing?" Elizabeth mused out loud. Her son was barely a year and a half and it was amusing to see him so transfixed, so immobile as he stared outside, when he was usually a whirlwind of motion.

Laura looked up from her task to look over her shoulder towards Little Jack. "I think he's waiting for Mountie Nathan," she informed Elizabeth matter-of-factly.

"What?" Elizabeth said, shocked and surprised.

"Mountie Nathan," Laura repeated, then corrected herself to the more formal appellation. "Constable Grant," she said. "He usually comes by around this time on his rounds, but Little Jack doesn't know it's Saturday and that he won't be by."

"Really?" Elizabeth said, swinging her glance from Laura to her son still standing at the window as she tried to process this bit of information. "Constable Grant comes here around this time on weekdays you mean? When he does his rounds?" she asked for clarification. Elizabeth was in school teaching on weekdays, so this was the first she knew about the specifics of Nathan's rounds.

"Hmm, mmm," Laura answered in the positive.

"And what does he do when he comes around?" Elizabeth asked.

"Oh, he just asks if things are okay and then usually gives Little Jack something," Laura replied.

Elizabeth's brow furrowed with puzzlement. "Gives Little Jack something? Like what?" she asked.

Laura left the dishrag on the table and brushed her hands down her apron before heading to the side bureau. She crouched down and opened the bottom drawer. "Like this," she answered, swiveling from her position to look up at Elizabeth.

Elizabeth joined her at the bureau, crouching beside her. She took in the contents of the drawer with wonder and asked, "Laura, what is all this?"

"Just some of the things the constable brought. I guess they are kind of piling up," she acknowledged.

Elizabeth stared down at the contents of the drawer. Such a wide assortment of things. There was a paper pinwheel fashioned onto a stick, some ribbon in one spot, a ball in another. A cut-out paper snowflake. Some of the items were just mundane everyday things, like that wooden ruler over there and was that...was that a rock she saw? She reached for it.

"Constable Grant gave Little Jack a painted rock?" she asked, staring at it in her hand,still incredulous and trying to figure this all out.

"No, it was just a rock when he gave it to him but Little Jack liked it so much I let him paint it. Was that okay?" Laura responded.

"Of course, it's just...," Elizabeth trailed off, shaking her head as she looked back into the drawer, a veritable pirate's chest of boyhood treasures.

"Oh, look at this one!" Laura exclaimed, a bit excited herself. She pulled out what looked like a tiny frog cleverly fashioned in three dimensions from a bit of green paper, a bend in the paper for legs. Laura set it on the floor beside them. "Look what this does," she said to Elizabeth, pressing on the bend and then quickly releasing her finger which caused the paper frog to jump a few inches.

Elizabeth couldn't help the small laugh that escaped her lips. "That's delightful!" she enthused. She...she would have to get Nathan to show her how he made that. It might even be something her students would enjoy too, she thought, this paper folding. But then she forced her thoughts back to the matter at hand.

So Nathan Grant was stopping by on weekdays on his rounds, and bringing Little Jack treasures. But wait a minute. Didn't he do rounds on Saturdays too? A Mountie's job wasn't just Monday to Friday. "But he doesn't come on Saturdays?" she wondered aloud.

"No, he doesn't," Laura agreed, offering another observation. "He never comes when you're here," she said.

Elizabeth tilted her head, trying to piece it together, as she moved to the window, distracting her son from the view outside and drawing him back into the room and towards a favourite stuffed toy, while she thought some more on the situation. Nathan had his rounds to do, of course, that was natural. He was the town's Mountie and it was his job to keep things safe. But that he would go out of his way to check on the rowhouses, and to do it when Elizabeth wasn't around, that's what was puzzling. Although Elizabeth had to admit a part of her was grateful. Grateful he was checking on Laura and Little Jack, making sure things were alright when they were alone here at the rowhouse. But then there was the fact that he was obviously bringing her son little gifts each time. And only on weekdays apparently. But today was Saturday and it was two days until Monday and presumably Nathan's next visit. Elizabeth was already developing a plan in her mind. She looked up at the clock, noting the time. She would get to the bottom of this mystery...

On Monday.